Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Cottage

So along with our house comes this 2 bedroom cottage. We are looking to rent it out to Mr/Miss Outdoors-hiking-rock climbing-oooawww-doesn't like parties or rock n roll-has small dog that is house trained-loner but not scary serial killer loner-with a full time job and lots of hobbies.

Do you know this person? Send along our info and these pictures.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Grand Tour

Welcome to our little house in the country! Come in the front door so you can use the original crank door bell. It's perfectly delightful! (Det blir bara käckare härifrån så akta er!)

To the right of the front door is the temporary bedroom.

This room is low on the list of priorities and will stay bedroomy and safe from construction until we fix up the kermit green dead zone which we will visit later in the tour. Once it gets its face lift though it may very well become red...

If you go up the stairs in the foyer you get to the sweetest little landing and an adorable bedroom. This is where you will be sleeping, most likely, dear guest.

To the left in the foyer - the living room. And straight through - the dining room.

Stomach virus yellow on the bottom trim and a lovely plywood floor......

BUT... the living room plan is:

- strip 3 layers of wall paper off the walls and paint them white. Including the really bad ski cabin wall.

We thought we were going to have to live with the unfortunate gold fireplace and the cheese-town brick work but Rosemary said "just paint it". Before she had finished her sentence I was in the car going to Lowe's to pick up black spray paint. Ta-dah!

The last touch will be to sand the floors and get the comfiest couch ever made in green plus 2 big leather chairs.

The dining room plan:
- Dark green walls (Polo Green flat finish)
- Dark green trim including windows (Polo Green satin finish)
- White painted floor until we lay down some wood.

Green underway...

From the dining room you enter the equally nauseating yellow kitchen.

But it is fully stocked and I am a 50's housewife in the way I gush about my appliances! Oh my!

The kitchen realm is a 2-year plan. No major changes now that the ceiling is taken care of. Throw a little white paint on the walls and maybe go as far as painting cabinets, changing countertops and adding some kind of island, but we have big - HUGE - plans for this area, so progress will be slow.

The other end of the kitchen leads to the pastry shop/music studio/rec room/suburban basement (someone get these people a fussball table and a tiki bar! Tiki bar NOW!) I adooooore this room and while the living room is getting fixed up we are trying it out as a substitute. We just had a sleeper sofa delivered so this is another place for you, dear guests, to crash.

And up to the left lurks the dead zone. DUN-DUN! Can you see the green? The only really finished room in the house and it's GREEN, abut as GREEN as GREEN gets. This could be the spring project though. Knocking down a wall and maybe the ceiling. There's nothing up there but space.


Have I confused you too much or can you see the layout?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

No, I don't know how much the fish tank is.

We drove up Thursday, September 3rd with a car load full of random items. Oh, this will come in handy, and if it doesn't, we have plenty of room to store it. A cooler full of dumplings on the roof and every crevice left in the car stuffed with meatballs, herring and KEX we set out from 37th Street to start our country living.

I hadn't seen the place I was about to call home since April. James drove by the house after signing contracts and knew a little better what to expect. The biggest thing that had stood in our way of closing was the previous owner's trouble with getting his thumb out of his hmhmhm. And our confidant down the road had been giving us updates on the tag sales and the dumpsters and the general appearance of "what's the hurry?"

Also, to pass code a front porch had to be built. So this guy has lived for 12 years without a front porch, right, and now he HAS to build one so he can sell the place. Nightmares of hack constructions haunted us naturally. But at some point he decided to go ahead and finish something. Prove those 20 years wrong. He went ahead and built the porch of his dreams and left it to us. His friends thought he was crazy but we had to say: stand up thing to do, man.

It's a paint job away from great and already a perfect place for morning coffee.

Go north on 87 to exit 18. Take a right on 299. Take another right on South Street by the Lowe's. Keep going past about 5 apple orchards.

Watch out for goats in the street. Yes, you heard me, I said watch out for goats. Go past the double wide llama ranch. At the stop sign by the big yellow house (The Gunk House, German bier hall opening in March, within stumbling distance from our house...) make a left on to Maple Avenue. Go about 3 house down and on the right, you'll see number 19.

So butterflies within we made that last left... The porch was a nice surprise. The full blown tag sale was not. Lots of customers and their cars in our driveway. The broken dreams on the front lawn putting a serious damper on the happiest day of our lives. We shoved our stuff in the living room and asked politely if the fridge could be cleaned out so we could put our meatballs away.
By the evening they had all left. A couple of strays driving up to ask "how much for a box of records?" but that was it.

I had reserved at least one hour every night the 1st week to sitting and staring at each other in panic and disbelief. What have we done?!!?! But that state of mind never took hold. Instead we started scrubbing.

Our 2 biggest challenges, 20 years of fry grease on the kitchen ceiling and the smell of pitbull breeding in the dining room. Let me tell you, dog urine is not an appetizing smell so having it in the dining room is a bad idea. The top picture is the radiator in said room with a piece of carpet/doggy latrine underneath it. This 2x4 piece of fabric was the first thing to make me want to get in the car and go back to New York City. Where life is easy. But we pulled and tugged and almost threw up and finally got it. That hurdle out of the way made looking forward fun again.

Scrubbing the ceiling was also a very rewarding task looking back on it. It was brown at first. Wipe, wipe with degreaser. It's yellow! Then primer - it's white! That wasn't so hard.

James committed to staying up in New Paltz for a few weeks to start projects around the house while I would go back to the city during the weeks to earn the bacon. But I gave myself 1 1/2 weeks at first to get settled.

Aaaaaaahhhhh. The weather was still perfect and the first week we ate all our meals on the patio watching the sunset.

Thanks to Rosemary, James' mom, we had something to sit, sleep and grill on, but more about her in the next chapter.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Finding Big Pink

Most of you know that we have been looking for a house for a loooooong time.

We were chasing this turkey around for almost a year. A shack sitting on the perfect piece of property, 10 minutes outside New Paltz. Turned out the house wasn't really "for sale" and after the 10th postponed foreclosure auction we found out the owner was trying to magically clear her $300,000 debt and buy her house back. Goodbye, Weston Road, so long...

We were sold on the area and started a new search. There was big red, the foundation-flawed haunted villa that would only be suited for a brothel. There was the blue civil war hospital, there was cute guy, there was the 1700 mansion with an unintentional ice rink in the basement (read major leakage problems...) there was the victorian monster in the middle of nowhere. There was the one that looked so promising from the outside that James had the checkbook out but the inside looked like the work of Henry Hills's interior decorator. There was the hunting lodge containing 2 deer heads, 2 LZ boys and a case of Schlitz in the fridge, that our 1st realtor thought would be right up our alley. The beginning of the end for her...

And there was Big Pink.

The 1st visit was odd. We didn't know what to think. It left me with a smile on my face because nothing was obvious about this house. Where would we sleep? Where would we watch TV? How would we get in the front door, there not being any stairs and all? Another started-but-never-finished project by the previous owner - a full restoration of the original porch...

James was skeptical but there were too many upsides to the place to just write it off. A sturdy farm house from 1800. 1,987 square feet=184 m2. 2.27 acres=about 1 hektar. A 2 bedroom cottage out back that is a legal rental. Most of the issues seemed to be on the surface AND the price was right.

After a thorough inspection by Barry, the inspection machine of Apple Valley home inspections, much was confirmed. Whereas he had worn a scowl while prodding through Weston Rd, at 19 Maple Ave, Barry smiled. He patted the joists in the basement holding up the dining room with a shrug "these have been here for maybe 100 years, they're not going anywhere". James and I looked at each other. A little paint and this could be a nice place.

So started the most stressful part of our journey. Learning about mortgages, points and ARMS and title searches, insurance, reading contracts, trying and mostly failing at getting the right person on the phone, and once on the phone getting the right information. Following the mortgage rates. 5.25%... 5.5%... 5.3% DO WE LOCK - DO WE LOCK?!?! It's down to 5%! Can we lock? Does everybody have their shit together? Mostly the answer was no.

So we said screw you, figure it out and went to Europe. "Have it all ready to close by August 20th. We'll be back in 2 weeks."

We went to Sandra and Tom's amazing wedding on Arholma in the Stockholm archipelago. Thanks for having us!!!

Mr. and Mrs. Malmros


We spent a great week with my parents. Kroquette, kubb, yummy food and family. Bliss!

Couples tournament this year. The Americans finished dead last...

But everyone gets a prize in this family.

A gorgeous evening by Hjälmaren at Sjökrogen with mom and dad.

We spent the traditional night in my sister's house, which bears a lot of responsibility for us ever even looking for a house. Before tasty homemade pizzas and a few too many Danish schnapses - a hike and a sunset dip in Kalltjärn which brings me back to some of my best days as a kid.

Getingedalen. Kajsa's and Gizmos house in Bergslagen. If we come anywhere near the coze factor [MYS-RYS] they have achieved we'll be winners. Check out my sister's blog while you're at it. It's great!

A tasty evening at the lovely Löfgren residence... tack för senast och hoppas vi kan bjuda igen snart!

Fly to Prague - walk, photos, beer, museum, walk, beer, medieval shit, beer, walk, boat ride, beer, sausage eating, museum, riding a funicular (whoever put the "fun" in funicular was very easily amused...) walk, classical music, beer. For 5 days. Highly recommend it!

Back to Sweden and the archipelago. More beautiful stuff! GOOD friends and food. James' 1st crawfish party. Fishing and relaxing during one of those extraordinary rare August Sweden summer days. Tack Kihlberg-Dixgård gänget!!!

Cover of Bass Master monthly. From the article Fishing with Björn.

And to NYC again...

Back home the snags were endless and James was patience incarnate as he dealt with the seller, lawyers and brokers. August 20th came and went and we were still not homeowners, homos for short.

Finally. September 3rd. If it doesn't happen today somebody is going down!

But our lawyer finally took the gloves off and James went up and signed contracts and she was ours.

Next chapter: MOVE IN DAY...

James and Linda - The Musical!

This is the kid and I. One's a cowboy and the other a commitophobe. Together, we're pretty good stuff. Don't know how long it's been now, but judging by the pictures it's been a while. At least.

Young and carefree with no other responsibility than our rent control apartment and the only thing that really worries us is to run out of Bullens Pilsner sausage before our next trip to Sweden and the fact that no one bothered to rearrange the Netflix queue so this weekend we are stuck with 2 Ozus and an obscure documentary in the vain of From Mao to Mozart. And all you want is Old School 2.

These days are over. We have become homeowners. We have become landowners and landlords. We have a mortgage. We have a septic system. We can no longer take our garbage to the street and it magically disappears. We have a furnace that is as foreign to me as a PC. In the city a thermostat is opening the window in the winter when the radiator is so jumping hot it could melt bones. Now you're trying to tell me I have to PAY for my heat? Well I'm telling you all only once - bring an extra sweater to our house cause this thermostat isn't going above 60. Do you have any idea how expensive that oil stuff is?

But we also have the most popular bird feeder on the block, 8am rush hour is like a sale at Barney's over here. We have land to make a garden. I have a kitchen! I have room, lots of room. I have a lady with goats and chickens to the north and an apple orchard to the south. You want quaint? Well, we got it by the bucket loads up here.

We haven't quite figured out yet if we are the craziest or smartest people in the world, but it's leaning towards the latter.

This is future James and Linda. An exciting new chapter.