Thursday, July 28, 2011

My To-Do List

Finalize arrangements for new roof (due to hail damage – unknown to us before house inspection!) – today

Finish packing household goods that are going to storage for 6 months – tonight

Re-inspection of house – Friday

Pack up household goods going to apartment – Saturday

A day of worship, fellowship and rest - Sunday

Miscellaneous catch-up day – Monday

Movers pick up furniture and goods headed for storage – Tuesday morning

Dan and friend move apartment goods to apartment – Tuesday afternoon

Buyers do final walk-through – Tuesday afternoon

Haul trash to dump and clean house for new owners – Wednesday

Close on house deal at title company - Wednesday

Collapse, with a sigh of relief, in tiny new apartment – Thursday

“Normal” life resumes – Friday

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From This Perspective

MOVING. From this perspective the landscape features heavy, taped boxes stacked against walls; mounds of miscellany waiting to learn their fate - pack, toss or donate; barren rooms echoing our voices; and floors strewn with scraps of packing materials. My back muscles and bad knee complain more every day.

And from this perspective has come an even greater appreciation of God’s promise of Heaven, for when I “move” to Heaven, I won’t be packing a thing!

Monday, July 18, 2011

"The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men . . .

. . . often go awry." Robert Burns had it right!

I’m an organizer, at heart. You should have seen my precise schedule of tasks and appointments for our upcoming move that were spelled out in a beautiful, bulleted, 2-page “to-do” list. I was happily ticking them off, one by one, including renting an apartment for the six months we will stay in Albuquerque, before moving on to Texas; scheduling days off from work for critical events in the process of packing/moving/closing on the house; arranging for movers to pick up our furniture and goods for storage until the big move; scheduling someone to help in the final cleaning of our house; and arranging for friends to help move us into the apartment. Maybe I was a bit too smug about my perfect organizational plan. Maybe I was relying too much on ME.

This weekend everything was turned topsy-turvy, when we discovered our misunderstanding of our buyers’ date of occupancy. For reasons that aren’t important to relate here, we thought they would take possession on August 6. Now we understand, correctly, that they get possession on August 3.

Three days doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but I have just spent almost three hours re-scheduling the movers; attempting to change our apartment move-in date; explaining to my boss that the days I had scheduled to take off have just shifted; and contacting the friends who have offered to help, to ask if they could come on different days.

After finding out our mistake, on Saturday night, I prayed the rest of the weekend that things would work out. The key issue was whether or not we could get the movers to come earlier. Everything else, we knew, we could work out, one way or another. Although the movers are pretty booked that week, they agreed, when I called this morning, to squeeze us in on August 2. Thank you, God! (And thank you Mayflower.) Although we can’t move into our apartment on August 3, the management is willing to let us move our “stuff” in, while they continue cleaning and preparing it for us. Dan and I will stay at a hotel for the one or two nights that we can’t move in.

It’s all coming back together, a little like a broken vase, reassembled with Super Glue.

I’ve learned my lesson. It's not that I shouldn't do my part, by making a plan and working it; I'd be foolish not to. The lesson that I've learned is that this move isn’t in my mortal hands, but in God’s divine ones. My faith needs to be in Him, not in my perfect itinerary or my hard work.

I knew that.

But I needed a reminder.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Everybody Needs a Hobby . . .

. . . and mine is photography.

I bought my first digital camera in 2001. It was a Sony Mavica and was big and clunky, but I loved it, despite its limitations. It only took 2 megapixel photos, and it stored them on a 3.5” floppy disk! But the picture quality was surprisingly good, even when the camera was in the hands of a total novice, like me.

Taken with my Sony Mavica - North Douglas Hwy., Juneau

Dan upgraded my camera, a few years later, to an Olympus with a few more megapixels.

Taken with my Olympus - Bosque del Apache, NM

From there I went back to Sony, in 2006, when I bought the DSC H5 (a SWEET Camera, by the way).

Taken with my Sony DSC H5 - Abo Mission, near Mountainair, NM

Finally, for Christmas 2009, Dan bought me my first DSLR camera, a Nikon D5000. I felt as if I’d moved up to “adult” status in the camera world.

Taken with My Nikon D5000 - Veterans' Memorial, Albuquerque, NM

Now that my Nikon and I have become better acquainted, I’m broadening my concentration to include more complex post-processing techniques. I’ve just concluded an on-line training video series, taught by Trey Ratcliff of What I’m trying to learn is the art of High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing. If you want to see some HDR photography that will knock your socks off, just take a look at Trey Ratcliff’s online portfolio.

To process an HDR photo, you should have at least three raw photos taken at the same time, from the same location, one under-exposed, one correctly exposed, and one over-exposed. The software will then combine the three (or more) images, pulling the highlights from one, the shadows from another, and creating a picture in which all parts are properly exposed. Further refinements are then made using Photoshop and/or other software.

Here are a couple examples of my very first HDR efforts.

This photo was taken at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque. As you can see, in the original (upper) photo most of the picture was underexposed, because I was shooting into the light coming through the doors at the end of the hall. Beneath it is the same image - cropped and HDR processed - now with good exposure over the entire picture.

This was just a quick snapshot of our living room (upper photo). As you can see, I am again facing windows, but this time I metered on the interior, leaving the windows and outdoors completely blown out (over exposed). After the HDR processing, detail from outdoors is restored (lower photo).

My images aren’t turning out anywhere near as brilliant as Trey’s, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. Practice, practice, practice! When I get better, I'll post a few more. For right now I'm just having tons of fun learning something new.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Offer came to us on Wednesday.

Counter offer went back to them on Thursday.

They accepted our counter on Friday.

We have to be out of the house by August 6. Yipes!

We found an apartment today.

After they run our background checks, our rental contract should be ready by Tuesday.

We can occupy the apartment on August 5 -- one day before we must be out of our (their) house.

Everything is happening in hyper-speed!

We are so thankful that our prayers have been answered. I kept praying that the right people would buy our home at the right time and for the right price. I'm confident that Mr. and Mrs. O are the right people; the right time is now; and the price we agreed upon is fair for both parties.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Nice Fit

You remember, from my last post, that some people came to look at our house on the 4th of July. This morning I got a call from their real estate agent, saying they wanted to come this afternoon and take a second look. Of course, I told him we'd be happy to have them come.

After work I dashed home, briefly, double checked everything in the house, and scooped up my Kindle. I hadn't had lunch yet, so I decided that, instead of Barnes and Noble, I'd go to Sweet Tomatoes to enjoy a salad and to read for awhile. I needed to waste a good hour or more, to give them plenty time to view the house. After lunch, as I was nearing our house, I saw the people just coming out of our front door, so I made a block and let them clear out.

About an hour later, the agent called me again. "I'm sorry to bother you again, but my clients wonder if they could come by, about 5:00, and try parking their car in your garage, just to make sure it will fit. We'll only take about five minutes of your time."

"Of course. That would be no problem at all," I replied.

At 5:00 sharp, they all showed up. Dan and I both moved our cars out to the street, and let them pull their big Mercury into the garage. It fit just fine! They thanked us for accommodating them, said good-bye, and climbed back into their car. But . . . their car refused to start! ("Hmm. Your car seems to want to stay! I think you'd better buy the house," I wanted to tell them.)

Dan, the agent, and the man fiddled for 15 minutes or so with the battery terminals, cables, etc, with no success. Since our cars have sealed batteries, we don't even have jumper cables. We walked across the street, where our neighbor, Brad, was in his garage, working on something. He and a friend agreed to bring their van over, and some cables, and try to jump the battery. No luck. The battery seemed to be DEAD. Really DEAD.

So now, the agent and the man decided to remove the battery, take it to an auto parts store, and find out whether it was salvageable. While they were gone, Dan and the lady and I went into the house, where the air conditioning was humming along, making it oh so much more comfortable than out in the hot garage. I was wondering what we would talk about . . . it might be a little awkward. But only a few minutes into our chat, she mentioned that her daughter taught at Albuquerque Christian School, a school operated by one of the churches of Christ here in town. So I mentioned that we were members of the church.

The lady was so surprised, and so excited. She told us that, although they are coming from out of state, they used to live in Albuquerque. When she found out we worship with the Northeast congregation, she asked if we had a church directory she could look at. I brought it to her, and she began thumbing through it, identifying all sorts of folks that they know. Come to find out, we have dozens of mutual friends! Not only that, but it turns out that she first met her husband, as I did Dan, when they were students at Abilene Christian College (now University).

An hour and 45 minutes after they arrived, a new battery was successfully installed in the Mercury and it roared to life. By then the lady had turned from "shopper" into "friend." She told me, "I'm glad that the car died, because it was so nice getting to know you and finding out how much we have in common!" She even gave me a hug before she got into her car.

Whether this will result in an offer on the house is anyone's guess, but it did lead to an enjoyable visit with some nice folks.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Not Your Typical Fourth of July

It's been ten weeks since we listed our house, and we're feeling the strain of having a house on the market. Every morning, before I leave for work, I go through a mental check-list, taking care of every little detail to make the house sparkle. And when a realtor calls, asking to bring a client, I've made it a habit to find somewhere else to hang out, giving the looky loos the freedom to check everything out, without being intimidated by me, the home-owner. The coffee shop at Barnes and Noble has become my favorite retreat on these occasions.

Today, being the Fourth of July, I thought it was a safe bet that no realtor would be out showing houses, so I stripped the bed this morning and began washing sheets and our light summer blanket. Dan and I had already agreed that today would be a "lazy day," for a change. Just after the sheets went into the dryer, and the blanket into the washer, the phone rang. You guessed it . . . a realtor wanted to show the house this afternoon . . . on the Fourth of July!

It really wasn't a problem. I was able to get both loads of laundry done, and the bed remade, in plenty of time. And, luckily, we hadn't made any big holiday plans. But a "lazy day" it was NOT, what with preparing the house and then vacating it in the middle of the afternoon.

Of course, it will all be worth it when that ideal buyer comes along. Who knows, maybe this 4th-of-July-caller will be the one.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Los Alamos Fire

As the crow flies, Los Alamos is about 60 miles from Albuquerque. Some people here have been seeing the glow, at night, of the huge forest fire ravaging that town. I sat, for awhile tonight, where I could definitely see the smoke plume, and waited for sunset to see if I could photograph the glow. I may have given up before it was sufficiently dark outside, but I didn't see any fire glow. However, this is a picture of the smoke being lit up and colored by the setting sun. I "played" with this photo a little with various editing tools, which added a little drama to the image.