Preparing the toasts

Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Things are not always what they seem.

I spoke to my Realtor tonight and he says the closing isn't going down because of an issue with the sellers - unbeknown to me - that was highly frustrating for both him and my mortgage broker.

Even though I was frustrated yesterday, tonight I am feeling thankful for the opportunity to even purchase a house.  After going through the process, I realize how difficult it is to get funding for a loan to close on a house.

My new neighbors will probably think there are fireworks going off the evening I move in.  Why?  I plan to pop the top on one - maybe two - bottles of champagne in celebration.  Kings should have some bubbly ready in London as well so we can toast to success.  He's had to listen to me complain about this every night for 30 days but like a doll, he's remained helpful and patient through it all.

Here's to Kingsley, Aaron and Josh!!

Well well well

Monday, 26 April 2010

There for a second today I forgot I had a blog.  I felt that my life was crashing in on me and I had no place to turn but seriously... there's always the internet and you kind people!

The home closing is a no-go.  What?!?  That's what I said.

Around noon today my mortgage broker called to tell me the closing *might* happen next week... on Wednesday.  I was still under the impression we were going to close on Thursday (in 3 days) at 5pm.  Nope.  On top of that, I have to pay an additional $100 in fees.

That doesn't include the additional week of parking I have to pay for downtown, the extra week of living out of a suitcase (hasn't been too bad but everyone at work must think I only have 3 outfits) and I have to bug my generous friends Ace and L for one more week of accommodation.  I have THE best friends.

Here's the rub:  I'm getting a FHA loan (and you thought newscasters made buckets of money) which requires a down payment and strict regulations when it comes to the house.   As in, it can't have mold in the basement in order to secure funding.

A few weeks ago, an inspector came out to check the place, gave us his findings and cashed my check.  The findings included a spot of mold in the basement.  Not that big of a deal UNTIL no one told the mortgage broker (I didn't know!!) and he immediately ordered the appraisal.  The Appraiser went over, noticed the mold and put a grinding halt to my home buying process.  No way-no how is the gov going to finance a loan for a house with mold in it.  The sellers hadn't had a chance to clear the problem.  The cleaning is in the works now but I have to pay another $100 for a re-inspection because of the mistake.

I'm trying to go to a happy place and realize this will all work out but really the process is difficult and I can see why some people just choose to rent.

P.S. - Anyone know what type of tree/bush/weed is flowering in the front yard?

Guest Blogger: Violet the Cat

Friday, 23 April 2010

Hi.  My mommy lives in a lovely condo with friends.  The only problem is the dogs.  I really like the baby, Henry.  He is nice to me and gives me treats.  He is just a little boy and he gets really excited and screams when he sees me but I try to be brave and not run under the bed because I know he likes to pet me.

I am enjoying my room because I get to look out the window at all of Knoxville rushing by below.  The windows here are huge and I can see for miles.  I like to swish my tail back and forth when I see birds or wasps.

Mommy keeps telling me about our new house.  She says hopefully on Thursday, I will have lots of rooms to explore and I can run and play with my toys for hours.  I'll also get a large litter box rather than the small travel one and that will be nicer, I'm sure.

As I dictate this blog post to mom, I'm laying on the bed giving myself a bath and blinking slowly when mom talks to me.  I like to get up and stretch before I go to sleep and when I do that, my tail twists into a curly-q.  Mom thinks that is adorable.

I hope we do get our own house soon.  Mom is really lucky to have such nice friends so we have a place to stay but I want to get back to being a lap kitty.  It's what I do best.  (See above picture.)

Dogwood Arts Chalk Walk

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Sunday was a beautiful day in the neighborhood and I strolled through Market Square to soak in some Vitamin D and appreciate the chalk artwork.  The 2010 Chalk Walk is part of the Dogwood Arts Festival and it is fun to see what people can do with chalk.  I'm including pics of some of my favorite designs.  The artwork including the yellow bull was my favorite.

Another Sad News Day

Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Today I interviewed a grown man who was close to sobbing because of what he witnessed yesterday.  He was the cab driver that drove a man to Park West hospital in Knoxville.  The man jumped out of the cab and opened fire on three women he didn't know.  One of them died and he also shot himself in the head.

Why would someone do that?  His friends and family say he was mentally unstable but a very nice man while he was taking his medication.  According to police, he had an appendectomy in 2001 and believed the doctor implanted a chip in his body so the federal government could track him.  The doctor wasn't at the hospital yesterday so he shot people randomly.  The whole "implanted chip" thing sounds absurd, right?  I thought so too until I logged onto the "Rants and Raves" section of Craigslist in Knoxville to see some people actually believe that is happening.

It is surprising how many people are suffering from paranoia when it comes to the US government.  Rather than celebrate our freedoms as citizens of a rich, blessed Western country, some people choose to believe our rights are being taken away by "Big Government" and that yes, Average Joe citizens are being tracked through microchips by the CIA.

There's always a group of folks that don't like change.  They will not accept new ideas and will fight against innovation with a cold, damning snarl.  Along with it often comes a call to irrational action and beliefs.  Since when did things get so silly...and so DANGEROUS?

Ignorance breeds paranoia and random, irrational violence can sprout from seeds of fear.  We have to be careful about the messages we accept.  Is it truly possible that the federal government would bribe a doctor to implant a microchip in a corner market employee in Tennessee and track him for life?  I guess it depends on who you listen to.

Who are we listening to?  We can't take our sources for granted.  Are they educated?  Are they paid millions to entertain?  Are they balanced?  I'm asking myself the same questions when it comes to the messages I let in.  I've even started turning away from the television during commercials so I'm not enticed by fast food ads.  The food they show isn't real.  It is treated with chemicals to look juicy and fresh during a 5 hour photo shoot.  That's the point... we believe it is real and we buy it.

Let's try to move beyond surface marketing together.  Let's get our hands dirty.  It isn't always easy to use reasoning but in the end, it might save a life or prevent unspeakable sorrow.

For A Laugh

Monday, 19 April 2010
Sometimes we're just too serious.  Why not take a couple of minutes each day to waste valuable time and have a laugh?  When I need to step back and clear the mind, I like to visit these sites.

NOTE:  I do not endorse specific content but sometimes the posts are hilarious.

Fail Blog - Website that shows "Fails" and "Wins" sent in by fans.  You can click the "G rated" tab when you go to the sight to avoid curse words and such.  Here's an example of a "Fail:"

People of Wal-mart - a funny site that shows Wal-mart customers at their best.  You can even browse pictures sent in from people from specific states.  The captions sprinkle on a little wit and sarcasm.

Fail Book - Similar to Fail Blog.  Shows content from Facebook - not always appropriate mind you - that is just silly.  An example...

Which sites am I missing??

Plant a Tree

Saturday, 17 April 2010
There's a guy in Tennessee that is handing out 100,000 free trees.  He's a business man and his name is Chris Clark.  He is giving away the trees to beautify the state and honor his late father.  Today at Earth Fest on the campus of Pellissippi College in Knoxville, I got a free tree! 

There were several indigenous choices including Baldcypress, Overcup Oak, Tulip tree, White Oak, Nuttall Oak, Shumard Oak, Sawtooth Oak and Shortleaf Pine.  I selected the Tulip tree which is expected to grow up to 85 feet and bloom flowers that resemble tulips. 

To me, this means more than just planting a tree.  This is about owning property!  If we close on the house I'll have the right to plant a tree and watch it grow.  Now, I just need to do the research and figure out how to take care of it.  The tree now looks like just a stick, about 3 feet long with a pile of roots.

"Are you satisfied?"

Wednesday, 14 April 2010
The movers arrived from Oregon a day early.  Jerry called to say they were in town and I scrambled to line up help after work on Monday.  No problemo - Ace and L have a great guy that helps them out.  He has his own contracting company and agreed to meet me at the warehouse to unload the truck.  Perfect.  I rushed to get my assignments finished, went home to change and drove over to the warehouse.  En route, I get a phone call.

Jerry:  Hi.  We can't get our truck under the railroad tracks on Central!!  What are we going to do?
Me:  (Very calmly) No problem.  I'll be there in a second and you can follow me around and we'll come in the other way.
Jerry:  Well okay.
Me:  I can look at a map and we'll figure it out somehow.
Jerry:  Where are you now!?!?!
Me:  Almost there.  Not to worry.

I booked movers through Movex, a national company.  Come to find out, they contract out the driving to independent truckers.  J and J pulled up to collect my load in Eugene, Oregon.  (It was a miracle to even get movers really.  The drivers confided that Movex never even had a truck for me but the rep said it had "broken down.") They are a friendly couple, in their 70s and they've traveled the US with their two dogs picking up loads and dropping them off for years.

I call G, the guy who's helping me unload, to assess options.  He says in his New Jersey accent (love it!): "No worries.  He can fit under there, he just has to drive down the middle.  I'll be right there."  I breathe in and out and pull up to the truck.  Jerry and John look very nervous.

G arrives, explains to John what to do and Jerry gets out of the truck.  I watch him pull his rig through with plenty of clearance.  Jerry walks down the tunnel after the truck and I pull up slowly beside her while rolling my window down, "Get in - I'll take you to the truck."  She doesn't say a word, just keeps walking.  "Jerry (thinking she couldn't hear me) want a ride?"  Without looking over she picks up the pace and says "NO!"  Thinking that's strange I look back over at her and she starts screaming (no exaggeration) at her husband while walking out of the tunnel.  "ARE YOU SATISFIED!?"  (I jump in the seat of my car.)  "ARE YOU SATISFIED!?"

He looks very taken aback and says "What?"  Just what she was hoping he would say I'm sure.  Her voice echoes off the walls of the tunnel.   "AREEEE YOUUUUU SATISFIEDDDDD!?!?!?!?"  I pull my car into the parking lot near the truck and hear her yelling "IT SCRAPED!"  "It most certainly did not."  "I HEARD IT!"

My blood pressure rises and I sit up in my seat.  The moment was so painfully uncomfortable I cannot put it into words.  The movers were having a screaming match while my laborer and I pretended we weren't witnessing such an unprofessional moment.  G walks over to my window and mutters, "I love my wife.  She would never yell at me like that in front of people.  Let's get this job done and get them outta here."  I gulped, nodded and he went to lead us to the warehouse.

When we finally get the doors open to the truck, I look at my things and think something's different.  We didn't pack this in this way.  Somehow, even after I paid a professional mover to pack my things perfectly into my paid-for 6 feet of space, the driver, John had unpacked every single thing and replaced it to his liking.  Some of my boxes are absolutely crushed, a wool rug is ruined from being so filthy and my new mattress really should be thrown out it is so dirty.   ARG!  They must have also hauled coal bins along with my items.  I pulled a pair of shoes out of one box and they were coated in black soot.  Upsetting?  To say the least.

Me:  This is strange.  We didn't pack these things in this way.
J:  Yeah, I rearranged a few things.
Me:  A few things?  This truck was completely repacked.  How did you have time to do this?
J:  Oh, I had the whole weekend before we needed to leave.  I haul a lot of stuff and I just wanted it to be a certain way.
Me: But all of my boxes are piled up on each other at least 6 feet high.  The bottom ones are crushed.
J:  No, your mover did that.  I wanted to protect your things.
Me:  !!!!  .....  No, it wasn't like that.
Jerry:  If you aren't happy with something you can just talk to Movex about it.
Me:  I will, thanks.

The most upsetting thing about the whole ordeal is the day of the loading-in.  J stood on the truck and gave us orders the entire time we were loading.  He wanted us to move everything around, make sure the drawers of the dresser were full of small boxes... it took hours because of his intervention.  K, my friend and professional mover was too polite to say anything but I was boiling inside from the bossiness of the guy AND THEN HE REPACKED THE WHOLE TRUCK crushing some things in the process.

Now I have to take the time to document everything that is broken and take photos and file a claim.  How to avoid this in the future?  Hire a UHaul and do it yourself or pay the big, big bucks to have professionals move your things across country.

Sigh.  At least my things are here... some dirty and in pieces ... but they are here.

PS-- Not all is gloom and doom.  Loving my day off!

The Inspection

Monday, 12 April 2010

Last Friday I met the house inspector (Tony from A-1 Inspections) at the property I'm hoping to buy.  He was already there unloading his tools and ladders and we talked for a moment about his method of inspection.  The second I met Tony, I knew I was going to enjoy working with him.  He smiled, was professional and has years of experience.

He looked over the house for 2 1/2 hours and just today, I received a binder in the mail with pictures of the house, typed out notes beside each picture and color-coded recommendations.  Blue for safety issues, red for problems that need immediate attention and yellow for items that should be addressed but are not immediately necessary.

Tony sat down with me when he was finished and went over the findings in a clear and concise way.  He even said "If you were my daughter buying a first house, this is what I would say..."  He certainly cares about his clients and is thorough in his work.

We're addressing several issues with the buyer but we're on track to close on the house at the end of this month.  I can't believe it!!

(In true Denae fashion I'm attempting three of the top most stressful things in life all at the same time:  new job, long-distance move, house purchase.  Why do I do it?)


Sunday, 11 April 2010
To people who are not from Tennessee the term Dogwood must seem pretty peculiar.  The word is on signs, billboards, buildings and is often part of business and street names.  Is a Dogwood a wooden dog?  A dog with with a wooden... nevermind... let's not go there. 

Dogwood is a species of tree so popular in East Tennessee, the city of Knoxville builds an entire month around it.  City leaders host ribbon cuttings, map out a trail where the best and brightest Dogwood trees can be found, invite singers to perform for a festival and artists also take up shop in the city hocking their wares near Market Square. 

When Dogwood trees begin to open their pink, red and white blooms, people in Tennessee exhale.  They believe Spring has sprung. 

The Dogwood Arts events began last week and I spent time Saturday evening strolling amongst artists' booths, listening to music from the main stage and just loving the 70s/sunny weather.  It is truly a treat to have an "evenings off" schedule for the first time in 10 years as a TV news journo. 

Going Away Party

Thursday, 8 April 2010

If you still live in Eugene, do yourself a favor and check out the Beer Stein.  The small "pub" on East 11th is a true surprise in a town this size.  Patrons can order up a pint of more than 10 beers on draft from Oregon and Washington and if you don't like those choices, not to worry, there's about 100 other brews in cases lining the walls.

20 of us met at the Stein for a farewell beverage the night before I moved back East.  I really miss my 'VAL friends.  The station was smaller so we not only all worked well together, we played together too.

Catch Up

Wednesday, 7 April 2010
It bugs me when people don't post regularly on their blogs - sorry I've been one of those people this week.  I am trying to get back in the saddle of a mid-market TV reporter.  Hectic!

9:30am morning meeting SHARP.  We go around the conference table one by one to give brief story ideas.  It is not an option to come to the table without good ideas.  Reporters at WATE are busy!  Yesterday, I turned two "packages" or stories, wrapped them around live reports (from two different locations) and I haven't even learned how to post on the web yet.  Suffice it to say, I'm back to racing the clock, my heart beats at a steady rate all day and I don't have much time to worry about silly things like lunch and bathroom breaks.  People in the newsroom are highly professional, care about their work and push the limit to remain competitive in the market.  Whew.

Personally, things are good.  My close friends are letting me live with them as I wait to close on the house.  They have a fantastic condo Downtown and Violet and I have plenty of space (more about Violet adjusting later).  I'm a bit bummed because Kings and I can't see each other as much on Skype.  On Pacific time, we were exactly 8 hours apart which worked out so that we could see each other in the morning and in the evening.  On this schedule, we are only able to catch one another on our days off.  There's a disconnect but we'll find a way to make it work (we always do!).

My loan packet has been sent off and I have the house inspection on Friday.  I also spent 20 minutes on the phone this evening setting up home insurance (which you have to have in place before closing).  Every night I think about owning a house, preparing a home for the hubs and throwing a no-holds-barred house warming bash (kidding).

The other bonus about buying a pad is Violet will have her own territory again.  Here, she shares space with three adults, a toddler (who is the sweetest, most delightful child on the planet) a large dog and a medium-sized dog.  The dogs do not know what to think of Violet.  Jake (the large lab) is pretty easy-going but he has  a booming bark.  Waffles (smaller rescue mut) is like a little puppy angel until it is time to scrap.  At that point, hold on to your hat.

The other day Ace was in my room chatting with the door about an inch open... no big deal.  Violet starts to play with her golf ball and the rolling back and forth makes a strange noise.  The dogs poke their heads in to investigate and All Hell Breaks Loose.  Violet pauses to assess the situation and slowly arches her back.  That sends Jake into a frenzy.  He rushes toward the cat which prompts Waffles to provide backup by also lunging forward.  Violet jumps 6 feet in the air, somehow flips 180 degrees and commences to climb the wall.  Jake BARKS which jolts Violet into another gymnast-like maneuver in the direction of the bed.  She misses and with a look of sheer terror and a hint of annoyance she slides back down to where the beasts have gathered.  Ace (like a bolt of lightening) shows her super mother skills and springs into action.  She grabs both dogs by the scruff of the neck somehow letting Violet spring sideways hitting the bed again but this time rolling underneath into cover to the relief of all present.  Waffles yelps out of frustration and Ace's sweet little boy bursts into a mournful cry because the animals aren't getting along.

I'm actually really glad to be living with people.  The married but single life can be lonely.  Now, there's always something going on!

House Hunting

Sunday, 4 April 2010

My parents and I walked through this house again yesterday in Knoxville.  It isn't brand news and it isn't huge but I really like it.  So... Kingsley and I have decided to go for it.

We've been negotiating with the seller and decided to accept the counter offer.  What does that mean?  I'm a first-time home buyer!

Time now to schedule the home inspection and move forward.  What's your advice at this stage in the game?  I plan to attend the inspection but should I ask specific questions?

Also - Happy Easter!  Hope your day is lovely and blessed.

Not So Nice

Friday, 2 April 2010

My mother and I are in Knoxville tonight to stay for 2 nights at Crowne Plaza Hotel.  My company, WATE-TV took care of the first evening and I am paying for accommodations for the second evening.  (Aren't they so cool!?)
We walked to the Old City for a lovely dinner at a FABU gastropub called Crown and Goose (you MUST try it - amazing food and happy hour) and came back to buy a water in the gift shop before retiring to our room.  Deborah, who works in the gift shop told us she was "Blessed by Jesus" when we walked in and we smiled at her, picked out our water and she rang us up.  
When she gave my mom the total, my mother said "Alrighty."  Deborah said, "What?  I thought you would be more educated than that.  That's not in the Dictionary.  President Obama would never say that."  We were stunned.  My mother is a successful businesswoman in Columbus and owns six Beltone offices.  Yikes.  I am so angry that someone would treat my mother that way but I didn't say anything because I was so shocked.  We were happy with our evening out and then were very bothered by such a rude comment.  This is my mother's first experience back in Knoxville in 10 years and I'm bummed.   
I'm going to write a letter to the manager but ugh - what's a girl to do?
How was your week?