Friday, December 25, 2009

Slip Sledding Away.

In case you haven't guessed, Carrie's brother Ross is visiting for the holiday weekend.

Yuletide Greetings!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Picture Envy

Yes, I took the new header photo. Yes, it's in our woods on our property.


Feeling Blue

We finally have a carpet on the studio floor! Much bluer than I thought it was supposed to be, but much nicer looking than I feared. We've started moving our boxes and boxes of books, comics, art supplies, and crafting materials up there. We might even have the living and computer rooms pretty close to what they're supposed to look like by christmas!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Snowtime!

It's been a while since anything got posted here, but that's because we've been quite busy. Carrie is very often putting in overtime at her job and the past couple of weeks has seen me doing the same at mine. The overtime actually makes the job less obnoxious because I'm not manning the phone bank during that time, so the percentage of phonetime goes down, even if the actual time spent on the phone is the same. It's all relative.

Thanksgiving Kemmer came up to see us as our first guest. She was even able to stay overnight! Kemmer surprised us with some belated birthday gifts (more Tarzan for me!) and we did the same for her. The Thai restaurant we had called earlier this year to ask if they were open Thanksgiving wasn't answering the phone when we tried to confirm, so we went with the same Indian restaurant we'd been to last year. Later we watched and made fun of the new Star Trek movie. As most reviews said, it's good fun if you don't think about it too much. The next day Carrie had to work, so Kemmer and I talked a lot, watched some more stuff, and I got to show off the acreage in back of the house.

Carrie then had both days of the weekend off, though only Saturday of this weekend. We get to do shopping for food and whatever new bits we need to advance on getting the house together, watch some cable tv (mostly Mythbusters and Whose Line, but we did Bollywood Sunday once!) and other domestic stuff. Recently, both Carrie and I have slipped on the steps going down into the living room. The day after my fall, we went out and bought a roll of no slip tread and Carrie cut it into a much less boring shape.

I sort of caught myself when I slipped, but not really because I landed hard and not quite straight on my left hand. Nothing broken, but it got a little swollen and painful. I cannot grip anything more than loosely. It's very much better today than it was yesterday, but it still is going to keep me from shoveling or using the snow blower. Which is bad because it snowed last night! Looking out the window we thought Carrie was going to be in big trouble because of how deep it was, but the driveway didn't get too covered at all. We think it must be the protective trees.

As always, click on a photo to supersize it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Booked Solid

Saturday was our day off together and Carrie noted a number of flea markets and craft fairs being held mostly in the Augusta area. The first one we stopped at wasn't even on the list, but was the best one for me. 30 different Edgar Rice Burroughs paperbacks for $25. I owned most if not all of these in the past and only recently decided to start collecting the Tarzan novels again. With this purchase I now have 17 of them along with 11 of the Mars series and 2 of his westerns.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Anniversary

18 years of wedded bliss!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Back to the Land

Just a couple of photos of our back property.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Friday morning looking out the back door.

After the Fall

We had a very rainy autumn this year, so although the trees were showing lots of color, the leaves got knocked off rather quickly. No long vistas of beautiful foliage lingering on as it slowly turned. This tree at work was one of the slower changing ones.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Greene House Effects

The front of the house:

The back of the house:
The back yard:

Click on a tree for a larger view.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

It Ain't Easy Buyin' Greene

Part 1

In spite of this story coming in chapters, it is still an abbreviated account. There was an awful lot of waiting on things to happen.

After looking at about a dozen houses each weekend for months, we finally had a list of five houses we thought met our needs, and the Greene house was one of them. But when we asked to take a second look, it had been pulled off the market because the owner had decided to rent it out instead of selling.

We went through the process of inspecting and bidding on two of the other houses, each failing in turn. The other houses also not viable for their own reasons. We then heard the Greene house was back on the market! We went back for our second look, got some more questions answered and reaffirmed our opinion that the house was a good fit and bid. We got outbid.

We started looking at more houses.

The other bid on the Greene house fell through. We negotiated and settled. Got the inspection and it passed easily. Were we buying a house?

Not yet. Before any bidding was done on any of the houses we had gotten a letter from our bank showing we were pre-approved for a mortgage loan in the approximate amount of our estimated maximum. Before we got to the bidding part of the Green house adventure, we got a letter from the bank saying very simply our loan application had been denied because we had insufficient credit history.

Carrie and I do not have, have never had, and do not intend to have credit cards. We don't have car loans to pay off because we both paid cash for our vehicles when we bought them. The only loan we'd ever had was the mortgage for our previous house in Mesa which we paid off early more than ten years ago. Ten years being the limit of what the credit reports see. Our credit is spotless because we have nothing there.

The letter we'd received didn't say the bank would like us to provide alternate credit information or let's try a different type of loan application. It just turned us down flat.

Of course I was on the phone trying to talk with the man who'd taken our application in the first place to get an alternative. We knew there was an alternative because how else would we have gotten our first mortgage? Carrie even went in person to the bank. What we finally ended up finding was that the first clerk could only handle ordinary straight forward mortgages. His supervisor was apparently even less versed. We had to talk to their specialized loan officer who worked the region and so was only sometimes in the bank.

Eventually we connected with her and found the info we would need to provide for the alternate mortgage application. Bank statements, recent paystubs, and letters of credit. Mostly they were interested in a full year's history of good customer with landlord and utilities.

A full year's.

We had not, at that time, been officially lodged in Maine for a full year.

Still, we got the letters from the landlord, the power company, and for our cell phone accounts. Mine was just over the one year point and Carrie's was even longer, so there was that one at least. We also got a letter from the local vet, since we'd already been going there, and got one from our previous vet in Arizona with its decades of our history. We also added the insurance company and AAA which were both respectable and long time. That, we thought, should do for their requirements.

When the time came, we brought all this in, after setting up an appointment with the wandering loan officer, along with the official signed agreed on price. The officer asked why we hadn't provided all this beforehand so we could have gotten the ball rolling earlier. Because we had only just gotten to the final signed agreed sale price, which per her email was one of the required documents. Oh, no, we could have provided her with the other stuff sooner. Why didn't she say so in the first place???

To be continued...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On the Move

Today we're making (hopefully) the last push to get all our stuff from the Freeport rental to our permanent home in Greene. Shehbek's pointy pinfeather, we have A LOT of stuff! Next week the cable company will be by to give our household a nodding aquaintanceship with the 21st century as far as TV and computer access is concerned. We should be burning up the networks again soon.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Always Greene In The New House

Keith and Carrie are moving to Greene! They have no access to internet for a while, but will post something as soon as they can.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Swing Music

Today we drove around stopping at numerous yard sales, including one at a church Carrie had been to previously and bought some spiced pear preserves she wanted to buy again. They didn't have any this time around, but she still found a few things to pick up. And she found a few more at the other places we stopped at. I had very little luck until the very last one where I found the above for a buck. I'm a big Tarzan fan and I was willing to pay the buck for this without any idea what the music is like or even if it's playable. But now I have another reason to wish our house buying was over, so we can get unpacked and I can try and play it!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Color My World

A couple of weeks ago we noticed a few trees had one or two leaves or groups of leaves that were starting to change color. This past week it has become quite noticeable that Fall is upon us. The trees are still mostly green, but there is no denying that is changing and changing fast. Because of all the rain we had over the summer, we're hoping we'll have another season as spectacular as last year.

Yesterday we spent the morning at a huge "yard sale" held outside the raceway in Scarborough, then stopped and bought a few comics at Casa Blanca Comics in Portland, and finally took Pandora out for a long walk on Bradbury Mountain.

Today, Carrie is at work. This morning I'm trying to get computer things done, like scanning and emailing documents, transferring photos and music, and posting to Facebook. This afternoon I plan to draw a panel for Watusi.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Open Lighthouse Close Encounters

Saturday was Open Lighthouse Day in Maine. Carrie and I decided to take advantage of it and go see the ones participating along the Kennebec River on Arrowsic Island. Doubling Point Lighthouse is visible from the bridge from Bath, if you know to look. It was also possibly the biggest of the ones we saw today, but not by much.

The Kennebec River Range Lights are a pair of lighthouses that ships coming up the river would line up in their sights to know they were sailing through the deep part of the river. The photo is the view from the back one towards the river where you can kind of see the other, pale against the pale background.

The final light, Squirrel Point Light, isn't off the beaten path, but the half hour hike on the path is how you get to it if you don't have a boat. It is in the process of being renovated but is not yet safe enough to allow people to go inside.

Click on any of the lighthouses to enlarge the picture.

Afterward we continued down route 127 across a few bridges and islands, including Georgetown until we hit the sea.

One Giant Steps For Maine

Last weekend we took Pandora and headed out to Bailey Island. We'd been to Bailey Island before, but didn't know about the cliff walk until a coworker of mine who had stayed in the area for a while told me about it. It was a very picturesque and pleasant walk which Pandora greatly enjoyed. The special feature was what was called The Giant Steps. A regular step-like cutting into the cliff face that I climbed down. Carrie took my photo from the top of the stairs.

I took the video from the bottom.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Folk Off

Last weekend was Bangor's American Folk Festival and we went! We planned on going Saturday, but it was such a rainy day we figured it wasn't worth the drive. Fortunately, Carrie also had Sunday off, so that's when we went.

The music acts were starting at noon, but we arrived earlier than that, so looked around the vendor tents a bit. Nothing too exciting, though Carrie did buy a couple of things.

The first act we went to was Nikolay Kolev, who played Bulgarian music on his gadulka. It was interesting enough that we wanted to see him perform with the rest of his group, Bulgarika. We walked over to the stage they would be on fairly soon afterwards and caught the tail end of French Vocal Traditions and Carrie heard her first Acadian music. Kind of like Cajun Celtic. We both like it. Bulgarika had a huge crowd and when they got going they really rocked the house!

After that we meandered off to the far end of the area to the Children's Stage (there were six stages total, so you know there was a lot of music going on here!) We caught three acts here, Gene Tagaban, One Crazy Raven, pictured above, was a Native American story-teller. His picture, dressed in Tlingit Raven garb, was on the show t-shirts and programs, and certainly caught Carrie's eye.

Also on this stage were Music From China, an ensemble that played, well, music from China. And they interacted with the children in the audience as often as they could. And the last group we watched here was Andes Manta. They had about three dozen different instruments that they kept switching around on while they played music from the Andes Mountain region. One guy was extraordinarily speedy on his little guitar. Check him out on this clip. And, no, I did not speed it up at all.

We left them a little early to go see the India dance troup featuring Mythili Prakash, but unless you were in the front row, a lot of what they did was completely lost behind audience members' heads.

Still, it was a fun day and we intend to go back next year.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Aye, Lassie

The Early TV Memories stamps I mentioned here some time ago are out and I've already started getting some of my painted envelopes back. I didn't do many, though. I did The Lone Ranger and Groucho because I wanted to do those two. I also did a Twilight Zone 'cause I think I'm supposed to send one to Tamara. I also did one for each of the two individual special postmarks I knew about, Lassie (shown above) and Red Skelton. As I was finishing them up, I found out about one for Dragnet as well. I sent all these envelopes off to get their postmarks. The three getting individually themed ones to the three different post offices doing them, and the others just in to get the Official First Day for the set. Lassie and Red Skelton are back, and I'm still waiting on the others. I just found out two more individual ones, for Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy. Now I have to figure out if I'm motivated enough to paint more envelopes.

Next year, the big stamp release I'm looking forward to is comics! Garfield, Dennis The Menace, Beetle Bailey, Archie, and Calvin & Hobbes! I KNOW I'll have no trouble drawing C&H envelopes. Probably most of the others will come out fairly easily as well.

More envelope art can be seen on my ComicSpace.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

House Detectives

We're going looking at houses again on Sunday. We haven't absolutely lost this house, but if the people who offered a higher bid than we did follow through, that's it. So, back on the road hunting down a new place to buy.

On top of this, the realtor who has been helping us is backing out. We're looking in an area outside of her normal circle and making her cover a LOT of miles. And since we actually got defaulted to her by a realtor that we had recommended to us but wasn't available at that time, she has to give 20% of her commission to that other realtor. And the standard 50% to the company she works out of. So we're making her do a lot of work, spend a lot of money on travel, and would get very little in return. Plus, she has constantly felt bad that she didn't really know the areas we were looking in very well, so she couldn't tell us where amenities were or what the local market was like. So we have to find a new realtor.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Greene House Effect

One of the four finalists mentioned before came back on the market, so we have made a bid. None of the houses we looked at this past weekend were suitable. We still have plans to go look at more this coming weekend. Will that improve our chances with this one?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

License to Quill

This little fellow was, as Carrie puts it, trundling across our front yard. He crossed the driveway and went up our willow. He was making unpleasant remarks to me as he was doing so. Probably because I was taking pictures the whole time.

We've also seen something in the back yard with the rotund body of a groundhog, but the head of a ferret, pointed snout, mask, and all. We're thinking it might be a pregnant mustelid of some type, but we're not sure of the species. No photos yet, it's too still wary of us.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Changing Houses In the Middle of the Dream

The bottom line is, too many repairs and the sellers weren't willing to come down in price enough to cover them.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

100th Post!

I hadn't realized how much we'd posted on our blog until I noticed on my "Dashboard" the number of posts. Before that, I was going to title this entry "Lighthouse Keeping" due to the content below. After I mentioned the number to Carrie, she suggested "Post Serial". But I decided to be plain and upfront about it just to blatantly point out this milestone.

Today we had some errands to run down Portland way, so we went a little further and saw the Portland Head Light again, just to check out the giftshop and museum, which were both closed the first time we visited.

Then, since the day was turning nice, we went to the nearby Spring Point Ledge Light, which is normally open to visitors on Saturdays, but wasn't this one. We even took off our shoes and splashed around in the water for a bit.

And finally we went practically next door to the Portland Breakwater Light, also known as the Bug Light, which is Carrie's favorite because of the ornamental work ringing the top. Click on Carrie's hat to enlarge the photo and see these details.

For those of you waiting to hear about our house in Augusta, well, we got the estimate for repairs to the roof, and it was not nice. We put together a brief of the worst things the inspector found, with an approximate cost to repair and sent in a request to the seller to drop that off the price of the house. We're now waiting to see if they'll accept, counter, or decline altogether.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Capitol Idea

I had "New Employee Orientation" today. After almost three months of employment. Some of the people with me at orientation had been working four months already. Made the "choose your health provider within thirty days of hire" stuff pretty stupid.

At least I got to be out of the call center for the day. Orientation was held right near the Capitol, so during lunch I went for a walk and took some pictures.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Roof Un-Ready

The roof is only 10 years old and what we could see from the ground looked fine. But up on top of the house was a different story altogether. Going through the house carefully with the inspector, there was also a lot of supporting evidence that the roof needs to be replaced. And before winter. We hope we can convince the sellers to come down a little bit more now so that we can afford to get it fixed.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Burning Down the House

The furnace is old and will have to be replaced. We're hoping that's the worst thing the inspector finds when he does his thing for us tomorrow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Closing Counters

We got a counter counter counter counter counter offer and gave them a counter counter counter counter counter counter offer which was accepted.

Saturday we have an official inspection by a certified inspector with us present. Afterward we'll go to the bank and present them with all our paperwork to show how they really should give us that mortgage. Then we'll go look at paint and carpet samples.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Eerie Deer

It's Sunday and finally sunny, so we took advantage of it by first raking up all the piles of grass left after mowing last weekend. Then we took Pandora with us to the Brunswick Common, a pine barren with lots of walking trails. She didn't seem to notice the deer, so Carrie took her further along the trail while I got closer to the deer for a better shot.

Yesterday it alternated between rainy and sunny all day. Except for the brief hailstorm. So I mostly hung out at home doing a few chores and playing on the computer. Carrie had to work both Saturday and Friday.

Friday, Kemmer came up for a visit. And the weather was pretty nice then too. We also went to Brunswick, but stayed in town visiting a few favorite shops and having lunch at the Bombay Mahal. Kemmer bought a bunch of books at the bookstore and a few items at the health food store. All three of us agree that Brunswick is a nice little town.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tuvok Amongst Men Vunce More

Deborak posted Inside The Box about her new Trek autograph, which reminded me that I had recently gotten these two trading cards signed by Tim Russ. He's apparantly starting to respond to fans again after a couple year lapse. The SASE I'd provided was addressed to Arizona and the postage was only $0.39! I hope we buy a house soon so I can start up some of my hobbies again.

Friday, July 3, 2009

House It Going?

We put in a bid. We got a counter offer. We gave a counter counter offer.

Meanwhile, the bank has agreed that we can still try for a mortgage even though we haven't had a credit card or borrowed any money in the past ten years. We just need to provide, amongst other things, 4 "Letters of Credit" from places that we have accounts. Like the utilities and the landlord. We are going to try and provide as many as possible to stack the deck in our favor. I've already gotten hold of the electric company, AT&T, Verizon, the vet's (both here and back in AZ), and the landlord. Carrie has letters from AAA and our insurance company already in hand.


We got a counter counter counter offer and put back a counter counter counter counter offer.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Strawberry Tuesday

Guessing that people might be a bit tired about our house hunting trials, I thought I might blog something different. Earlier Keith mentioned "Strawberry Fields for Driveways" and on facebook I mentioned having wild strawberry pancakes. It is, indeed, strawberry season here. Not only are there plenty of wild strawberries in our yard, but roadside stands selling native strawberries are popping up and they're a big feature at farmers' markets. Given that it takes a lot of time to pick and clean the tiny wild strawberries, I'm thinking of trying the local domestic variety.

Augusta Fresh Air

We think we'll be able to get this house. The price has already dropped into our acceptable range, it's been on the market for two years, and we know of no other people interested in it. We've put in a bid and will now wait for the counter offer. The difficulty will probably be in that it is currently jointly owned by four siblings.

Meanwhile, our bank has sent us an automated denial letter based on our empty credit history. We, by choice, don't have credit cards and have only borrowed money once before. That was to buy our previous house, and we paid that off in about seven years and that was ten years ago. Basic credit reports don't go back that far. We're trying to see if our bank won't do a real credit check to see we actually have enough in cash and other assets to buy the house outright as well as how reliably we pay our rent, utilities, etc. If they won't do that, we have a couple of recommended mortgage people as well as going to the Maine State Employee Credit Union (who I will be calling tomorrow.)