Monday, September 24, 2018

Quick Update

Nothing much new going on here in Richland -- still searching for a house (went to an open house where there was a swimming pool, was sorely tempted).  Still enjoying many walks along the riverside with the Hounds, such as this recent outing to Wade Park in Pasco:

I also went out with the Tri-City Urban Sketchers again, to another winery nearby, where a fun time was had by all:

Apologies for the brevity of this post -- I completely forgot it was Monday until nearly 9pm.  Hope to have more stuff next time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


There is nothing in this post about art, birds, or nature.  Possibly not even about dachshunds.  No, this EXTRA SPECIAL Not-On-A-Monday post is all about trying to find a home.

Selling my house in Seattle was super easy.  Upon arrival in my new/old hometown of Richland, however, I discovered that one cannot simply waltz into the real estate mall and buy another house, even when one has a wad'o'cash itching to be spent.  Darn. 

Many of the houses here were built in the 1940s, and they look like this:

This is a 3-bedroom, 1-bath home going for $179,000.  It had very few updates.  I passed.

Most of the homes here have been updated at least once over the decades.  And sometimes they have been altered in strange and mysterious ways:

I went to this one during an open house, because the photos of the inside looked nice:

Well, as I learned from selling my house, those photos can lie.  The floors of this home needed refinishing, and all of the cupboards were worn on the inside.  The basement was unfinished and downright frightening.  It was 3 tiny bedrooms and 1 tiny bath for $212,000. 

I passed.

Then there are the homes that were last updated in the 1970s, like this place:

Behold the glory of paneling gone mad:

This was 2 bedrooms and 2 baths and they wanted $242,000 for it.  I passed.

One day I discovered a lovely home from the 1940s that had been redone all over the place -- it was fabulous inside:

Check out the Rat Pack bathroom decor...and what a huge bathroom to boot!

Sadly, it was a little too big for me:

Six bedrooms, three baths, 3100 square feet, and stairs.  Lots and lots of stairs.  Still, at $245,000, it was a bargain.  But in the end, I passed.

Many times I see a new house for sale on Zillow, and I go drive past it, and either it isn't very nice in reality or the neighborhood looks a tad dubious.  At one home I talked to some chatty neighbors, who were happy to let me know about the rental homes all around that had gone to seed and were unoccupied, and all about the problem neighbor who was a hoarder and who liked to hold garage sales every week to display his treasures.  Which were not.

I met the ultimate chatty neighbor at another open house here:

This house was out of my price range but I had to check it out, as it was from 1964 and had never been updated.  Time capsule!  The walls were covered in wallpaper -- busy, flowery wallpaper -- one room had sunflowers, and another was swathed in Asian landscapes complete with pagodas.  Where there was no wallpaper, there was paneling or brick.  The kitchen had a toaster that you pulled out of the wall.  The main bath had a skylight and a chandelier.  It was a fun house.

And at the fun house was a woman in her 70s who tried to talk me into buying it with great gusto and charisma -- I thought she was one of the agents, but she turned out to be a nosy neighbor instead.  She had opinions about every aspect of that house, and when it became clear that I wasn't going to fork over any money for it, she talked one of the agents into traipsing down the street and over a block to check out this house:

It had a wacky cathedral ceiling and wall color that seemed a bit barn-like, though it grew on me, and unlike most real estate photos, it actually looked better in person than it does here:

The kitchen was nice and big:

It had 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a big fenced yard, and was in the posh end of town, for $245,000.  The chatty neighbor tried hard to talk me into buying it, and then she talked both me and the agent into looking at her house just down the block.  When we walked inside, her husband greeted us as if spontaneous home tours were a common occurrence in his life, and he proudly showed off his special craft room (which was as big as a normal living room), in which stood an enormous quilting machine.  He made quilts.  They were stunning.

We wandered around their beautiful home, which was chock-a-block with world travel souvenirs from every continent.  Chatty Neighbor Lady (I never did get her name) told us she was jaunting off to London soon for two weeks just to show the city off to a friend, and when she got back, she and her husband would be off to Spokane for the big regional quilt show. 

The master bedroom in her home was nearly as big as my entire former house in Seattle.  And at one end there was a seven-foot wide, arched opening with pillars on either side that led to the master bath with jetted tub.  I came away not wanting either of the homes for sale in that area, but I sure did want her house.

I have to say, I find that part of town highly attractive.  It contains a lot of homes like this one:

Many were built in the 1960s - 1980s, and have been updated.  Here's the inside:

They tend to have great landscaping, and they are close to the river.

And naturally, they cost a bit more.  This one is 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and runs $264,000.  Top of my range.  But oh so tempting!

I'm really trying to find something more in the $200,00-225,000 range.  For that price, I can get something like this:

Three bedrooms, one bath, in a decent-enough neighborhood, not near the river.  But nice inside:

This one is $212,000 and still available.  I haven't been inside yet to see if the photos are lying.  I did drive by, and the yard was not good -- they called it "low maintenance" when what they really meant was "we haven't watered it in years and everything is dead".  And it was a huge yard.

Meanwhile, last week the perfect house appeared on the market.  It was 950 square feet, two bedrooms and 1-1/2 baths, in a good neighborhood not far from my mother's place, and it was only $180,000.

I called the same afternoon it was listed.  It already had an offer above the asking price.  I still got to go over to see it, just in case, and was dismayed to find that the owner had a long-haired dachshund.  Surely that was a sign that this house was supposed to be mine!  How dare someone else grab it!  But they did.  Most homes that are in decent shape and are under $200,000 get snapped up, though in this case, I suspect someone knew about it in advance and was ready and waiting.

So my hunt continues.  On Sunday another one of those fabulous remodeled two-story big homes came on the market, one block from my mother's:

I find these homes very appealing, except of course, for all those stairs.  I walked by it though, and the yard was tiny, and the roof looked like it needed replacing.  Oh, well.

Only one or two new houses come on the market each day, so this search may take a while.  Meanwhile, there is a really nice house sitting right next door to my mother's house -- three bedrooms, 1-1/2 baths, open-flow plan, lots of updates, with a garage and an outbuilding that could work as a studio:

The owner says he wants to sell it by the end of October (he's busy making some improvements at the moment).  He let me check out the inside, and it was very nice and would suit all my needs.  Should I just be patient and hold out for this house?  What's the catch?  Isn't there always a catch?

Well, yes, there is:

That's a utility pole.  In Richland, the utility poles are stuck in people's back yards (or at least, in every other back yard).  Usually they're up against the fence or in a corner out of the way.  But for some reason, on this street, they are stuck smack dab in the middle of the back yard.  That's the roof of the patio to the right, and the roof of the outbuilding to the left.  The pole is right there in the middle, and it has a stabilizing cable coming down to the ground at an angle, ending right in front of the patio.

Something like six feet around the pole in all directions belongs to the city.  It's weird and it's ugly.  But is it enough to keep me from buying the house?  I don't know.  I think he's planning to make a decision on listing it (when and how) by the end of this month.  Certainly I will keep looking to see what else pops up, but if nothing turns up, this might just have to do, weird pole and all.

So that's the house hunting update.  It's hard work -- please wish me luck!  After all, the Hounds need a home of their own!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Still Summer!

This past week our new home of Richland gave us blue skies and mid-70s every single day.  The Hounds and I rather enjoyed that, and we went out exploring as much as we possibly could.  We even ventured a little farther out -- for Richland is part of the Tri-Cities, and there are two whole other cities nearby:  Kennewick and Pasco, just a short hop down the highway.

This is Chiawana Park in Pasco:

It runs alongside the Columbia River, so it looks a lot like the parks in Richland.

But it had better birds, at least the day we were there -- Great Egret!

American White Pelican!

There were lots of spots where the Hounds could explore the shoreline.

Plus more of those lovely swinging seats that we find so relaxing.

I did a quick sketch there... which I spelled the park's name wrong.  There's only one "n."  Oh, well.  So it goes.

Bateman Island is technically in Richland, though it's really closer to Kennewick, where it sits at one end of the miles-long Columbia Park, which, as you have probably intuited, lies alongside the Columbia River. 

Bateman Island is the top birding spot in this area, though at this time of year, the birds can be few and far between.

Mostly I saw Yellow-rumped Warblers.  Dozens and dozens of them, in fact.

I heard sparrows and finches and the like, hiding in the shrubbery.  But only the warblers bothered to come out for photos.

I did search the creepy cobwebby woods for the Great Horned Owl that hangs out there, but did not find it.

I did find lots of creepy cobwebs.

And I found more birds at the end of the island, where you can see across the river to the far bank, where there were lots of white blobs far far away:

With the magic of the camera's zoom lens, you can see that at least a few of those blobs are pelicans:

The next day we returned to Pasco to check out a mansion:

The Moore Mansion was built in 1908 and is closed to the public (it rents out for private events only).

Then we tootled on down the road to visit yet another riverside park:

It's called Wade Park, so Truman took the cue and went wading there:

There's another little burg called West Richland, a hop, skip and jump across the Yakima River.  It does not have a riverside park!  But it does have a man-made spot called The Park at the Lakes, which is quite lovely all the same:

There are two small lakes with handy paved paths, and it is home to ducks, blackbirds, sparrows, and herons. 

The path runs right alongside people's property -- including people who own horses.  Pippin was very excited to meet his very first horse:

In non-park adventures, I went off without the Hounds to an outing with the Tri-City Urban Sketchers.

They met at a winery on the outskirts of town, where the views were amazing.

I staked out a spot on a staircase from which I could see the winery building, and was joined by the group's two co-leaders there.

We had a fine time sketching and chatting.  The group meets every Wednesday and draws for 1-1/2 hours before sharing their work.

They're doing a winery theme for the month of September, so this coming week's outing may be quite similar.

So it was a fine, fun-filled week.  Of course, I am also trying to find a house to buy.  Only one or two homes come on the market each day, and so far, none has measured up to my demanding standards.  For more on the house hunt, tune in tomorrow -- yes, that's right -- on a TUESDAY -- for a SPECIAL BLOG EDITION that has nothing to do with art, birds, or nature:  Searching for a Home!