Weed whacking

The real estate agent — Sari Pearce — connected Steven with Jose Vences, landscaper. Today, Jose is at Sea Eagle cutting back the wild grasses that grew tall through the summer and then gray in winter; blowing and raking up all the leaves; pulling weeds; mowing the small front and back lawns. Everything seemed to collect on the surface of the pool, which Steven cleaned twice as Jose and the 30mph winds wreaked havoc.

Above, Jose threshes the tall grass at the hill next to the pool.

At the other side of the pool, the field of wild grass is hacked close in hopes of spring rain. Next to the pool, a field of bluebonnets is growing -- one of Steven's favorite signs of what passes for the blink that is Spring in Texas.
At the other side of the pool, the field of wild grass is hacked close in hopes of spring rain. Next to the pool, a field of bluebonnets is growing — one of Steven’s favorite signs of what passes for the blink that is Spring in Texas.
The front lawn, neat and edged.
The front lawn, neat and edged.
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This was

We’re painting our selves out of Sea Eagle, making the house neutral for potential buyers. We’re using Kelly Moore Aged Parchment, the prevailing color used in the majority of the house. It looks yellow in the photos. It’s actually a pale tan, like old paper.

Above, this was Steven’s office — soft gray with white trim. Now it is aged parchment. The stained cedar ceiling is untouched, still killer.

This was two shades of blue ... the master bedroom. Now it is aged parchment.
This was two shades of blue … the master bedroom. Now it is aged parchment.
DSC_0602
This was a peach color selected by Jadin for her bedroom, with a pale orange accent wall.
Steven observes: Jacquela describes this as "separating." She does not want to look at the photos. The emotion is difficult to explain. We built this house from picking out the lot and scraping the dirt -- with John Hagy, the builder, and Kai Geschke, the architect. We lived in this house for 12 years. The house feels and sounds different without us, without our "stuff." We invested ourselves into the floors and walls. This is where Jadin grew up, where Reboot curled under Steven's desk. We keep those memories. They are treasures.
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The best day ever

From the big window at the front of the office, Steven watched Jadin walk to school.

From the big window at the front of the office, Steven watched Jadin walk back to home.

She smiled and waved and made silly faces.

Exceeding cool.

Meanwhile, back at Sea Eagle, the painters removed switchplates and other wall obstructions, prepping several rooms and walls for remedial refreshing, to aid in sale of the house.

Sari — the agent — walked the house, instructing Steven to take down screens and store them in the garage, clean the exterior of the windows exposed by the removed screens, raise the solar curtain on the upper deck to allow more light into the house, scrub smudges off switchplates and walls near switchplates and corners.

Trey confirmed he will start maybe as early as late Tuesday to polish the stained concrete floors.

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Day 7

Even Jadin helped today. Reluctantly. But …

Steven scraped dirt, mud and debris off the driveway, now that the dirt pile is gone. There was a large collection of nails and screws to pick up and throw away — predictably.

Inside, Jacquela cut plastic liners for drawers.

Team Leon — with herself rousted from Jadinland — started to cull boxes in the garage — holiday ornaments, tax archives, equipment boxes that must be saved, old computers that will be retired and wiped and donated when we have that chance, other stuff. Jacquela and Jadin formed a box brigade, passing cartons to Steven on the ladder, and he hoisted them up to the attic over the new garage bay. Just what the storage loft was designed for.

Jacquela migrated back inside to continue cutting liners for drawers in the kitchen and bathrooms.

Jadin returned to talking online with her friends.

After lunch, Jacquela and Steven drove to Sea Eagle — taking out the garbage bag stuffed by the cleaning crew, emptying almost final items from the garage, taking still more donations to Goodwill.

Back at Emerald Hill, Steven pulled out his chop saw and cut ledger boards for the master closet — and painted them using leftover house paint. After dinner, with help from Jacquela, with his pneumatic nailer, Steven and Jacquela pinned the wood to the master closet walls, made the piperail level and plumb, and screwed the tall hanger rail into place along the back wall of the closet.

Which means … Steven can now assemble the two remaining Ikea storage towers and bring the hanging and drawer storage completely online.

We’re making progress.

It’s going to take a while to move in.

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Hail, garage!

Weather report says thunderstorms and possible hail. Jacquela and Steven scrambled to make room in the garage for both cars. This is the first time any Leon car has been parked in the garage. It’s amazing to get both cars in, with all the boxes and other stuff that still has to be put away.

Plans call for a weekend of unboxing the garage.

At Sea Eagle, Noemi and her team cleaned the house for sale.

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The zen of trash cans

Welcome to the People’s Republic of the City of Austin, department of trash cans, desk of colors.

Thursday is trash pickup day at Emerald Hill.

Steven rolled the big blue and very full trash can to the curb Wednesday evening. Following instructions on the lid, he built a pile of cardboard boxes, all flattened, at least 10 feet away from the can. In fact, he put the can at the foot of the driveway and the pile of cardboard at the other side of the property line, separated by at least 40 feet.

The first garbage trucks rumbled by about 630 am. The motion detector on the Ring doorbell came awake for each one — Steven tuned down the sensitivity. About 3 pm, the last truck of the day pulled up across the street, the crew of two jumped down, they loaded up the 20 paper bags of oak leaves that a neighbor left lining the curb, and drove away.

At 330 pm, Steven called 311 — that’s the number to call on the sticker on the lid of the can — to ask why the trash can and cardboard were still at the curb — “this is our first trash day in the house, we just moved in, we have been paying trash, water, wastewater and electric utilities for months, what did we not do?”

Josh at the call center confirmed the account is active, up to date on payment, and instructed: “please call back after 4 pm and we will schedule a makeup pickup for Friday.”

For the after 4 pm callback, the department scheduled the Friday pickup. Steven also received the Holy Writ — trash is picked up every Thursday using the brown or grey cans only; recyclables are picked up every other Thursday using the blue can only; do you have a brown or grey can? If so, transfer the garbage to that brown or grey can from the blue can, roll that brown or grey can to the curb and we will pick that up this one time on Friday; do you have more garbage than fits in the brown or grey can? If yes, go to the supermarket and purchase an “extra garbage” tag for $4 for each black bag — and you must use a black bag — attach the tag and leave that tagged bag at the curb; if you do not buy the tag at the supermarket you will be charged $8 for each bag.

Steven was bounced to Mari at the desk of many colors. The small brown can is 24 gallons. The largest brown can is 96 gallons. There’s a smaller grey can at 64 gallons. And a 32-gallon can, too. There’s a different monthly charge for each size can.

Steven and Mari arranged to swap the 24 gallon brown can for a 64 gallon grey can.

One day soon, a trash truck will pull up to the house at Emerald Hill, the new can will be rolled up and the small 24 gallon can will be taken away.

Until then, take extra garbage to the curb in a black bag with a note that says “Extra Trash. Per City instructions, we are exchanging the small can for a larger can that has to be delivered.”

And so delivereth the Word of the Trash.

Om.

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In reverse

An observation …

Days at Emerald Hill transact in reverse from days at Sea Eagle.

Before the move to Emerald Hill, Steven structured his day to yield the block of time needed to drive to Emerald Hill and back to Sea Eagle, to work with Ranserve and subcontractors on site at Emerald Hill, to walk the house, taking notes, asking questions. As the move approached, the blocks of time expanded to include the assembly of closets, the transport of boxes, trips to Lowe’s or Home Depot for some thing, or some other thing.

Now we are here, in the house. Days now circle around breaking down boxes, shifting boxes into the house from the garage to continue unpacking, tweaking the wireless router and other devices to get more work done for Technopolis and ShowStoppers, knocking on Jadin’s door to see if she’s ever going to work through the chores that Jacquela assigns.

Jacquela’s commute is now 15 minutes on a bad day; she is claiming back at least an hour.

This transformation realized today — Steven set aside time and scheduled several appointments to prep Sea Eagle for sale, traveling to Sea Eagle instead of from — to meet with candidate landscapers, a polisher of stained concrete floors, an electrician, the recycling of UPS batteries.

The Ring doorbell at Emerald Hill made it possible to answer the door from 20+ miles away at Sea Eagle and in the aisles at Lowe’s while searching for a 40-watt bulb to replace the dead light hanging over where the dining table was located. That’s a first. Steven could see Jadin answering the door to allow in the electrician and plumbers. Each time a landscaper walked past the front door, the motion detector sent video — it quickly became annoying yet remarkable and fun and powerful — a paean to technology.

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Working the pile, again

Ramon continues to whittle away at the pile of dirt carved out to form the foundation of the new garage bay. Here he is, above, about mid-day. By end of day, he’s down to a layer of dirt atop the asphalt driveway.

Victor is designing a berm at the front of the lot to hold water back from the street -- giving it more time to soak into the turf. Why? There's enough good black dirt to do this.
Victor is designing a berm at the front of the lot to hold water back from the street — giving it more time to soak into the turf. Why? There’s enough good black dirt to do this.
Most of the boxes inside the house are emptied and crushed flat. Steven takes them out to the gravel patio off the kitchen-side of the house, stacking them for recycling. But ... there are boxes that must be saved -- for the computer monitors, the speakers, the new pots and pans that Steven bought Jacquela as a housewarming gift nearly a year ago. For these special boxes, Steven cleared space in the garage, erected a ladder, and, with Jadin's help, carried the boxes into the storage loft atop the new garage bay. Here are the first denizens of Upper Boxland, stacked as far back as possible.
Most of the boxes inside the house are emptied and crushed flat. Steven takes them out to the gravel patio off the kitchen-side of the house, stacking them for recycling. But … there are boxes that must be saved — for the computer monitors, the speakers, the new pots and pans that Steven bought Jacquela as a housewarming gift nearly a year ago. For these special boxes, Steven cleared space in the garage, erected a ladder, and, with Jadin’s help, carried the boxes into the storage loft atop the new garage bay. Here are the first denizens of Upper Boxland, stacked as far back as possible.

Jacquela tested the washing machine for the first time this morning. Steven discovered water pooling in the pan under the tankless water heater upstairs. Ranserve dispatched Barry from Custom Plumbing, who adjusted the condensate hose fitting into the drain pipe. The water should not be backing up and filling the pan. We’ll see if this fix works.

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Working the pile

Day 4 at Emerald Hill, currently renamed “Boxland.” We’re working down the pile of to-do.

Above, with help from Chris at Time Warner, the downstairs and upstairs TVs are now operational. Upstairs, we needed component cables — and Chris tweaked the cable box. Downstairs, the Denon amplifier needed a complete system reboot to wipe Sea Eagle from memory. With that, Steven and Chris built new HDMI settings for video and audio via HDMI, with cable box connected in to amp and amp connected out to Panasonic TV. This process is not plug and play. Read the manual, even if it is written in English as a third language. Closed course, professional drivers only. Just in time to watch primary results …

Rene from El Sol Logistics delivered the hanging bags of clothes that somehow stayed with the moving vans — so Steven’s business slacks and shirts are now recovered. Then El Sol transmitted the bill for the rest of the move, after the deposit is deducted. Yich.

But … Rene did take away some of the flattened boxes for re-use by the next family that El Sol moves.

We switched on the air conditioning last night. First time. Ever. There’s record heat in Austin — 91 degrees. Stupifying.

Outside, Victor and Ramon are shoveling down off the driveway the really good black dirt   piled up when Gilsa and Ranserve dug out the foundation for the new garage bay. Here's Ramon late in the afternoon shade, spading deliberately in the record March heat -- 91 degrees.
Outside, Victor and Ramon are shoveling down off the driveway the really good black dirt piled up when Gilsa and Ranserve dug out the foundation for the new garage bay. Here’s Ramon late in the afternoon shade, spading deliberately in the record March heat — 91 degrees.
The dirt comes off the pile in the driveway where we hope to someday park, and is transported by wheelbarrow to the front of the house. Victor and Ramon are building beds around the oaks that will someday receive flowers or ornamental grasses or some other deer-resistant plants. Mulched heavily, the beds cut by nearly a third the front lawn that must be watered and mowed -- which might be worth a point on the Green Build application.
The dirt comes off the pile in the driveway where we hope to someday park, and is transported by wheelbarrow to the front of the house. Victor and Ramon are building beds around the oaks that will someday receive flowers or ornamental grasses or some other deer-resistant plants. Mulched heavily, the beds cut by nearly a third the front lawn that must be watered and mowed — which might be worth a point on the Green Build application.
More of the front of Emerald Hill, with the new bed, with dirt in transport. It's also that time of year that the oaks drop their leaves. Victor blew and raked the leaves into the beds, under the dirt, where the leaves will decompose into fertilizer.
More of the front of Emerald Hill, with the new bed, with dirt in transport. It’s also that time of year that the oaks drop their leaves. Victor blew and raked the leaves into the beds, under the dirt, where the leaves will decompose into fertilizer.
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Back to work, kinda

First Monday at Emerald Hill. Kiss the wife on her way out the door to work. Walk 10 steps to the new office, sit down, log on, hey ho it’s off to work I go.

Time out at noon to meet with Noemi and David — cleaner and painter — at Sea Eagle. Joined by Sari, the real estate agent, who is walking another painter through the house. We have to paint the office, master bedroom and bath, and Jadin’s bedroom, fix the trim at Jadin’s bath and in the kitchen, to prep the house for sale.

Sari’s painter delivers an estimate on notebook paper while standing in the kitchen. It’s half the cost of the painter we spoke with late last week.

The quotes from Noemi and David arrive by text late Monday. Both get the gigs — because we’ve seen their work at Emerald Hill. David hits Steven’s budget wish. Jacquela and Steven are bleeding cash at this point in the process.

After dinner, Jacquela and Steven go back to taking apart Boxland …

For bedtime entertainment, since Austin is setting records for heat, Steven turns on the air conditioning for the first time. Pleased to report it works.

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