Sunday Afternoon 7/22/2018

After a long absence, Pensive Cat was back in the yard again this week.

Less than a week to go until we move to condo, and less than a month to go before we begin the Big Adventure! Time is really starting to fly now, almost too fast at times. We will be ready for both happenings, but we know we’ve got to stay focused so that everything that needs to be done gets done and we don’t forget anything.

One very clean stove

We’ve been steadily plugging along with the house cleaning and are closing in on finishing it up. The inspection with the landlord will be next Sunday morning between 7:00 & 7:30 a.m. He was upset with us the other day because in spite of what we’d told him, in his mind he had decided he was going to get the keys the morning of the 28th, that we were going to give him back four days! Nope – we don’t move over to the condo until the evening of the 28th and will be working that whole day to finish up.  For all the work we’ve already put into cleaning this place, I still have a bad feeling about the final meeting with him and am expecting him to be a total jerk, but once it’s done we can move on, no matter the outcome. To strengthen our hand we are going to have a friend with us during the inspection as a witness so the landlord cannot claim damages/dirt later. We finished cleaning the stove this past week, and I’m working on the refrigerator and freezer today. One of the biggest challenges this past week was cleaning the white fabric tapes on the blinds. Because half of each blind sits in front of an open window, and because of the amount of dust, dirt and moisture that comes through the windows, the tapes in those areas of the blinds developed stains that I wasn’t sure we could get out. I discovered though that some judiciously applied bleach and some time out in the sun got them looking like new. The beautiful, clean blinds are now lying across the floor in the girls’ former room and will be hung up again right before we leave the house on the 28th to go to the condo. Another thing Brett and I have both noticed this past week is that there are absolutely no smooth surfaces anywhere in this house (except maybe the mirrors in the bathrooms). From the baseboards to the doors to the window blinds to floors to the faucets, every piece of this house has grooves or ledges or borders or some design feature which invites dirt or mildew to accumulate. It’s a lovely house, but has required a lot of extra work to keep it clean these past 33 months and now we know why.

It’s been the perfect island car

The auto detailer came over to the house last Monday and did a superb job on getting out all of the red dirt stains we had accumulated in the past four years. The result was worth every penny we paid and the car looks fantastic. We began advertising it last Tuesday but have only had one person ask questions so far. The detailer told us Civics are a popular car here, and ours is in very good condition and is priced right so we’ll see. We pick up our rental car this coming Friday – I can’t believe that date is arriving so quickly. I also admit to being a bit hopeful the car doesn’t sell before Saturday so we have two cars to take our things over to the condo – otherwise it will mean at least two trips.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m almost done with Standard Deviation, and have also started The Child Catchers:  Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce. The book is about how international and domestic adoption by evangelical Christians has become “a new front” in the culture wars. I’m just getting started and it’s already a very interesting read.
  • Listening to: It’s been quiet here all morning – YaYu left for work early, and Brett has been quietly plugging away at cleaning the tops of the kitchen cabinets. The washing machine is doing its thing though, but this is the last Sunday we’ll do laundry here!
  • Watching: None of us is really watching much of anything now. I watched the latest episode of Great British Baking Show on Friday, will watch Endeavour tomorrow (I think the last episode for this season is tonight), but that’s all.

    Brett and I shared this deliciously monstrous slice of Kauai Pie for dessert when we ate at the Olympic Cafe in Kapaa. We were shocked at the size of this “dessert for two” but we somehow finished it (and then didn’t feel like eating for another 24 hours).

  • Cooking/baking: Once we got the stove cleaned we decided that we’d also had enough of processed microwave-heated meals and are now getting take-out or going out for meals. The refrigerator/freezer is currently turned off so I can clean it, but once that’s done we’ll turn it back on so we can keep cold drinks and YaYu’s hot sauces in there (but nothing more). We still have our toaster and are having bagels and fruit for breakfast now, but otherwise we’ve been trying out affordable eateries in Kapaa for lunch and dinner. Thankfully YaYu gets most of her meals at work, so we haven’t been spending a fortune on eating out. Once we’re in the condo I will start cooking again.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I reserved all of our train tickets for the France part of our journey (Paris to Caen; Caen to Strasbourg; and Strasbourg to Bordeaux) and reserved cars for our four days in Normandy and to drive down to Lucerne, Switzerland in October. Other than pre-booking some museum visits, everything we planned to get done ahead of time has now been taken care of. Brett and I are going to make the museum reservations after we’re at the condo and have time to sit and talk about what we definitely want to see. I got the rice cooker and a few goodies packed up and sent off to YaYu, and a box of odds and ends that didn’t get into our shipment sent off to our friend on the mainland to go in with our other stuff. It has been much too humid, and we’ve been too busy, to walk this past week, but we’ve been getting LOTS of exercise in the house and will go back to walking again next week.
  • Looking forward to next week: Finishing up this damn house and moving over to the condo!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Pensive Cat, so called because he comes to our yard to sit and think, was back this week after a somewhat long absence. He’s a stray, and has been visiting us ever since we moved to this house in 2015. The tip of his left ear has been snipped which indicates he was caught and spayed at one point. Brett ordered and received the leather chukka boots he’s been wanting (Red Wings) this week and has been wearing them around the house to break them in a bit. They look good, are comfortable, and will be great for hiking around on our travels. Otherwise, nothing else really stands out this week – we’ve gotten a lot done but it’s been nothing but work, work, work.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We got a rebate of $28 from the electric company which will be enough to cover a couple more lunches out this week. Other than our meals, the only things we bought were bagels, cream cheese and ice cream – Safeway has been running a BOGO sale on ice cream this month: 2 Safeway Select 1/2 gallons for $5.99, and 2 Breyer containers for $6.99. But with the freezer off that pleasure will disappear for a while.
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I are very thankful that our friend Alan has agreed be here during our inspection next Sunday. The landlord has been giving off vibes that he is going to try to use double talk, intimidation, or maybe even threats with us but we think he may be less likely to do so when he sees we have a witness with us. We don’t want him able to say one thing to us and then something else later if we have to take him to court, and it will be harder for him to complain that something is not clean when there’s another person who can see that it obviously is.

    My secret cleaning weapons!

  • Bonus question: Do you have any special tools that you’ve used for cleaning? I’m not sure if these are unusual or secret, but the Sharpie pen, some felt-tipped pens, a pedicure sponge and baby wipes have all been proving useful. For example, I was stumped about how to get the metal burner ports on the stove cleaned but discovered that a disposable pedicure sponge, along with a little elbow grease, made the ports look like they’re brand new! The abrasive side of the sponge is handy because it’s small and flexible enough to get into tight places, and with just enough abrasion to get things clean without scratching them. Unscented baby wipes have been another great cleaning tool. We are running out of rags, but the wipes don’t contain lotion and have made cleaning dirty window blinds and other surfaces easy. The black Sharpie pen and the colored felt-tipped pen have been useful for small touch-ups in the kitchen (small nicks on the cabinets, a scratch on the stove top).

That’s a wrap for this week! What good things happened for you? What did you accomplish? What are you reading these days? Do you use any unusual items for cleaning?

I’m thinking next Sunday’s post will probably be short, and really not more than a check-in, but I should be back to regular posting after that. Keep your fingers crossed for us that we get our deposit back and our car sells!

24 thoughts on “Sunday Afternoon 7/22/2018

  1. Natalie says:

    Good luck with your home inspection and car sale. You’ve really done an excellent cleaning job and are wise to have a witness at the inspection. I’ll be in Paris in August and am planning a side trip to Strasbourg. We can share travel notes 🙂

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    • Laura says:

      I will be eager to read about your stay in Strasbourg. We will be there for 20 days, and are looking forward to wandering around and soaking it all in (plus a 3-day side trip down to Lucerne).

      This is going to be one very, very clean house but I’m still very nervous. Can’t wait until the inspection is over.

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    • Laura says:

      We will be both filming and taking pictures before we leave the house on the 28th. Our friend Alan is both a property manager (owns rental properties on the mainland) and an attorney, although we won’t reveal that unless we have to. He and his wife Cheryl will be excellent witnesses and we think are going to throw the landlord off his game when he sees we’re here with them and not on our own.

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  2. JJ says:

    I was in Paris just over a week ago and also Lucerne. Let me know if you need any tips on things to see. I also recommend a stop in Engleberg if you get a chance. Beautiful scenery!

    Hope things work out with your landlord. It’s too bad he turned out to be so nasty, but at least you won’t have to deal with him much longer. You are smart to have your friend at the inspection. Can’t believe you are so close to leaving Kauai. I look forward to reading about your adventures!

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    • Laura says:

      OK, now I have to go look up Engleberg! We will be staying in a Swiss farmhouse B&B outside of Lucerne, just a quick ride by train into town every day. We know we want to see the famous bridges in Lucerne, and hopefully the lion statue, but we also plan to buy a pass to ride the ferries around the lake versus taking a boat tour.

      We set the time for the inspection at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, but the landlord said he and his painting crew will be setting up at 7:00 or so in the morning. So . . . we all plan to be at the house at 7:00 as a surprise, so he can’t walk through the house and “find” things without us present. Also, he knows that we know he has never paid the required taxes on the rent we have paid every month, and that we can easily turn him in if he tries to screw us – the back taxes, penalties and fines will be much more than returning our deposit. But he likes to think he “knows” people, and may think we would never do something like that. He’s going to be very, very surprised – I will have no problem calling the state tax office if he messes with us.

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      • JJ says:

        Engleberg is a ski resort town in the alps near Mt. Pilatus (another amazing place to visit). I was there a couple of weeks ago so it was the off-season and there weren’t a lot of people around. I don’t know when you’ll be in that area, but I imagine it’s very busy during ski season. We stayed in a ski lodge. It was very basic accommodations, but we really enjoyed our stay there. I didn’t take the train, but I know there is a train that goes direct from Lucerne to Engleberg. It’s only an hour or so. It’s a cute town with spectacular views. I wish I could post photos here, but if you google it, you’ll see what I mean! Definitely worth a day trip if you don’t want to stay overnight.

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  3. Janette says:

    Have your friend video the entire inspection. ;). That way you can walk and talk and he can keep it rolling. It might be worth getting a separate SD card for your camera. I hope it isn’t necessary! What a bummer. I don’t think we have run into a landlord like that- but my kids sure did (and the deposit was close to $2000!)
    I cannot wait for some of your trip reports. We are seriously looking at Australia in two years. I started to plan last week—inspired by your long approach on things!
    Enjoy the condo!

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    • Laura says:

      I think the fact that our friend Alan is both a property manager and an attorney will be enough – the landlord is not going to be able to intimidate us like I think he is planning to do. We’ll take pictures if necessary. Our deposit was pretty large and we would like to get it back!

      We are really excited about our train journey across the continent although we’ve been told that parts of it are very dry and desolate, so to be sure and have a good book or two along. My brother lives in Australia (Queensland) and has been giving us tips about things to see and do in Perth. He may be coming down to spend some time with us in Sydney.

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  4. Jane Has Debt says:

    Can’t believe big adventure time is already here!
    Good call on bringing a friend as witness. Hope you are taking pictures of everything before he inspects. Date stamp them or keep the receipt. Such a bugger that situation.

    That stove is so cleeeaaaaan.
    Universal vibes the car sells quick with price asked.

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    • Laura says:

      If you think the stove is clean, you should see the refrigerator! I worked on it for nearly four hours (along with some help from Brett) but it looks like new. It wasn’t really dirty when I started, but it is absolutely spotless now.

      We will have pictures ahead of time, and will take them if needed during the inspection. My fondest dream at this point will be that he walks through the house and agrees it’s perfectly clean and then writes us out a check! I don’t really think it’s going to happen, but a girl can dream.

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  5. Pat says:

    You guys are amazing! We sold and moved from our home last year and weren’t anywhere near as organized as you. My favorite cleaning tool is the Magic Eraser- does most jobs with water alone. The generic brand seems to work as well as the Mr. Clean.

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    • Laura says:

      OMG, I LOVE magic sponges!! I “discovered” them when we moved out of our house in Portland and have been a fan every since. We bought a big box of them from Costco before we started here, and are down to just two or three. We’re saving one for the bathroom but I’m pretty sure the others will get used up as well.

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  6. Snoskred says:

    Well I have watched enough episodes of Judge Judy and The Peoples Court to know – photograph and video everything. 🙂 Of course you already know this.

    Last weekend we trekked into Sydney for a visit to the Pylon lookout and I can highly recommend this for your visit. It was $15 per person and you can stay for as long as you like and take as many photos as you like on your own phone and camera and whatever other devices. BridgeClimb would have cost us $636 *boggle* plus they make you wear a jumpsuit and you can’t take your own camera.

    One of the things I did when travelling was to attach a Wii locking handstrap to my camera so it cannot disappear from my wrist, no matter what. I could also attach it to my phone if required and I really wished I had done when we visited the Pylon. I’ll add a link to those on amazon in another comment. They were invented so people did not throw the Wii controllers at their tv sets by accident but this has been incredibly useful for my little Panasonic Lumix.

    I like a toothbrush for cleaning difficult spots. 😉

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  7. Laurel Hill says:

    I can’t think of a move out where I (or any of my kids) have left a place as completely spotless as you are getting that house. Smart to have friends doing the walk through with you. And having the tax issue in your back pocket should give him a second thought on keeping your $.

    Like others, I love the Magic Eraser, I’m a huge fan of Oxyclean for cleaning flour grout, and I have a couple little Oxo digging tools that I discovered this year with tiny brushes and sharp edged tools on each end for crevices around the kitchen and bath. Markers – yes! And microfiber cloth for windows. All that said, I’m sure your house will be cleaner than mine when you’re finished. 🙂

    Good luck with the last stage of moving out…we’ll all be eager to hear how it went.

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    • Laura says:

      It’s frankly ridiculous the amount of time we’re spending on cleaning this house. It was very clean when we moved in because the landlord and his wife wouldn’t let us move in for four days after our lease began because they were re-cleaning the house. So, we’ve got to take cleaning to the next level (BTW, he never reimbursed us the four days of rent we had paid when we couldn’t move it – we have that on record as well to show a judge if we need to). But this is what we are dealing with, that he will claim that he “has to” clean the house when we move out and is keeping our deposit to cover the expense. So, there will be LOTS of pictures and video to show a judge how clean it is when we move out.

      This guy thinks he is SO SMART, but I’m pretty sure he has never considered the tax angle, or even wondered for a moment that we might turn him in. It’s going to be a big surprise for him if/when we pull that trigger. I don’t think it’s just this house where he’s been skipping taxes, and the tax office will go over all his records, for years, when they investigate.

      Will have to check out those Oxo cleaning tools. I am a HUGE fan of Oxo products – so easy and useful!

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  8. MyRetirementProject (@retirement_my) says:

    The good news is that once this is all behind you life is going to feel absolutely GREAT!

    I’m so impressed with your diligence and your work in moving forward step by step. What a wonderful lesson for your children to see you and Brett achieving your dream through a series of concrete motions. An impression on living your best life that they will never, ever forget I predict.

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    • Laura says:

      Thanks Tamara! That’s sort of how we’re feeling now – no matter the outcome on Sunday we will be out of the house and moving on to the next phase.

      Our kids are solidly behind our travel plans, but not sure yet whether they’ve taken anything in about how we are able to do and the steps we’ve taken to get to this point. Hopefully though we have set a good example of how to turn your dreams into realities, and they will be doing the same in their futures.

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  9. tpol1 says:

    I hope the inspection goes smoothly. I cannot understand why your landlord became such a difficult person. I am sure you did a stellar job and with the help of your friends, you will get through this.

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    • Laura says:

      We honestly don’t know how it’s going to go but everything we know up to now says, “this is not going to go well.” The house will be spotless, we will take lots of pictures/video, and we will have witnesses, so all we can do is hope for the best.

      I am ready to move on, no matter what!

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