After Midnight – Boring Work Stuff.

The clock on my Computer says that it's 12:50 AM on 08/14, but I have no idea if that's correct, or not, because this computer is a bit funky about time. The cable box says it's only 12:46. Depending on which is correct I've either been home from work for a full hour, or just under one.

Yes. We're that busy.
No, I'm not technically required to stay that late, but I didn't stop working on files early enough, and then I was also engaged in some online interaction for part of that time.

Maggie, one of our frequently-used escrow officers, sent us a gift basket of the most wonderful non-chocolate cookies ever. Oatmeal raisin, cinnamon swirl, and lemon. It really helped us all to be less crabby, and slightly less stressed by the sheer amount of volume we're dealing with.

I process loans for 4 loan officers, plus my own originations. In the last six months we have originated $65,000,000 worth of loans, and closed about $45,000,000. July and August account for almost half of that number. It's been that busy. And yet, because rates keep dropping, instead of getting things under control, it's getting worse.

I have a minion, who does status calls for me, and does copying. (The amount of wasted paper in the mortgage industry is phenomenal. California legalized digital signatures on legal documents more than two years ago, and we're still requiring wet signatures on loan applications.) Without him, I would be less than half as productive, because I'd have to stop and copy each file. He used to be a bouncer at a nightclub. I maintain that this is an excellent background for a receptionist to have.

When I was working with my mother, in a company I partly owned, I resented being there. With this group of guys, all of whom are roughly my age, I mostly love my job. They don't care if I come in at noon, and leave at eight, or come in at six and leave at two, or declare that I'm leaving three hours early, as long as work gets done. When my office door is closed, they actually respect it, and will only knock if the situation is dire. And when I'm grumpy or stressed they bring me chocolate and designer coffee. Am I being bribed? Hell yes. But I'm worth it.

Rates are the lowest they've been in thirty years, and the new clients, at this point, seem to come in hoardes and droves. Tonight I deleted 84 messages from my voicemail, all from the last 10 days.

Tomorrow, I will stop for breakfast on the way to work, and I will change my voicemail to tell people I'm in submission hell and will return phone calls every two hours. Thursday, I'm leaving at two, and Friday I'm not working at all. It was supposed to be long weekend for my birthday; instead I'll be doing more work on the condo. It's being listed on Thursday, and there's an open house on Sunday.

Right now, I'm going to bed.

“You’re naked!”

…That's what I said to my younger dog, Cleo, after a stagey gasp, when Fuzzy presented her to me for her bath last night. The nice thing about small dogs is that you can bathe them in the kitchen sink, using the sprayer hose, and as long as you remember to disinfect the sink, after, life's usually good.

We got really annoyed with my parents because their dog, Abigail, a six-pound fawn colored chihuahua, left our dogs with fleas. Not that this is difficult to deal with. A little borax sprinkled on the carpet before vacuuming, bleach in the laundry, and they're pretty much dead, but once they get ON the dogs, it's harder. Especially when we have to treat Zorro, because we think, but are not certain, that flea medication is one of his seizure triggers.

Last night, I noticed that Cleo had been chewing at the base of her tail so hard that there was a bare patch, and the skin was irritated. Poor puppy. We give them Advantage top-spot applications whenever bugs are really bad, and with painting and all we'd been loathe to bring more chemicals into their lives, but we had no choice. So that meant a break from packing, and last night our sink became a canine car-wash.

Anyway, they were still damp when we finally tumbled into bed last night, so I left their collars are. Ever worn wet jeans? My dogs react to wet collars the same way most of us react to wet denim. Ick!

It says a lot about my state of exhaustion that I didn't wake up every time Zorro moved last night, convinced he was having a seizure. You see, the jingling of his tags changes when that happens, and without the tags I can't tell without consciously checking if his moving about is normal, or not. Usually I sleep in fits and starts when he doesn't have them on.

So, today, we're off to lunch, because we slept late, and only just got up. Oy. At this rate, we'll be killing ourselves to have the condo ready for the realtor to hold it open on the weekend. (And the fact that we can't be there means that Sunday will be an enforced trip to the beach with the doggies.)

But now, at least, I have two doggies who don't smell like dogs, but vaguely of citrus. (Actually Zorro's mostly a chihuahua, and never smells like a dog, because chihuahuas just don't have that dog-odor). Except they're still naked.


Ever since my grandfather gave me a construction set when I was a toddler, I've had a thing for hardware stores. I love the sense of possibilities, and visiting OSH or Home Depot is almost as good, in my personal rating system, as visiting a bookstore or stationery store.

Today, rather than risk getting lost in the overwhelming warehouseyness of HD, we opted to go to a store that specialized only in PAINT. We were there about half an hour, and left $140 later with primer, white semi-gloss for the frames of some doors, a gallon of flat paint in a kind of clay-y color (not as orange as terra cotta, but not really a brown). They call it 'trattoria' and it should be a perfect replacement for our purple wall, and tie in the sand colored carpet, and the hardwood floors, and all, and lend some warmth to the room.

We also bought a quart of a color called Ambria, which is basically a palepale blush pink/beige, to do the entry. After arguing with Fuzzy and NOT getting a 2nd quart of the same color in semi-gloss for the upstairs bathroom, we returned home, and I said, “See, the kitchen is, too, a different color than the entry, and see, it is a semi-gloss.” So we'll go back for a quart of Ambria in semi-gloss later. We have to do the texturing and masking first, anyway.

Even though all this paint is for the condo we're leaving, it's one of the parts of this process that I'm really excited about. So much so, that I told Fuzzy, “I get to paint the new house, too, right?”

But he cringed. “Too much work!”


All Teary-eyed

So, my mother left for her home in Baja Sur, Mexico last week, and today, at my office, I received a birthday card, postmarked from SanDiego, which means she sent it just before they crossed the border. (Note: My birthday isn't actually until next Saturday, the 17th.) It made me all misty, and I'm therefore compelled to share:

Sweet Xenobia,
Happy 32nd Birthday, darling girl!

After all of thee years, and so many hair colors (on your part), I still hold you as the most precious part of my life. You are a funny, brilliant, beautiful woman, and I am proud of the woman that you are.

I did buy a small present for you, but it is buried in the car. Here is what you will always have: my unconditional love, my pride in you, and my ear.

So, I am leaving again, but I'll be back for the housewarming.

I love watching you bully the boys at the office – you are a very powerful person, too.

Take care of , Zorro, Cleo – and especially yourself.

So, if you see orange gladiolas, think of Grampa and me. He welcomed you home from the hospital with buckets of orange glads.

Happy Birthday!
I love you!

Thanks mom.


I've just gotten word from my Realtor that our offer was accepted on the last house we considered. This house, which looks really plain from the outside, but is quite nice inside. It still doesn't have a formal dining room, but it does have a real dining area, and more than two bedrooms, and the master suite has a den/office/spare room thing as part of it. The back yard is mostly occupied by a 20' oval doughboy pool, that's been sunken into the ground, though there's just enough grass to enjoy without it being a lifetime project. There's also a covered patio that runs the length of the house, as well as a dog run.

The kitchen has TONS of storage, the garage has a storage loft, and oh, wonder of wonders, the inside walls are flat plaster NOT TEXTURIZED. I hate texturized walls.

It's on a street that doesn't really go through to anything, so even though the surrounding neighborhood is busy, this street is not. I'm told that there are only two non-owner occupied properties on the entire block, which is cool.

So, now to sell the condo, and by the end of September, we'll have moved. Woo!

Adventures in Real Estate: Staging to Sell

So we met with our Realtor this morning, and her checklist of Things That Must Be Done we not as bad as we thought. She said, for example, not to worry about the parquet in the kitchen, and that the water damage on the counter around the kitchen sink would be called in the Termite Report. They'll give a quote for the work, and we won't have to pay them till Close of Escrow (COE). The same goes for her gardener who is going to lay new sod,

The rest of the wood floors need to be resurfaced, but a friend referred me to another friend who is supposedly 50% less expensive than anyone else in the area. I'll be leaving him a message today or tomorrow.

The rest of the list is little niggly things:
1) Move half the furniture out of the living room, and the bookshelves from the bedroom. Get rid of the boxes in the loft storage area above our bedroom closet.
2) Paint the upstairs bathroom in a pale-but-warm color. There's peach tile in there, so we'll be doing some barely-beyond-white-but-with-hints-of-peach paint. Also, must replace shower curtain. Again, something pale. (The idea is that bright, light colors make the space look bigger, and warm colors enhance the wood fixtures.)
3) Paint our single purple wall so that it's not purple any more.
4) Replace the sinks in both bathrooms, and possibly the toilets if judicious application of pumice stone and elbow grease doesn't yield satisfactory results.
5) Clean the hot tub.
6) Clean the deck.
7) Have the carpets chemically cleaned, and hire Merrie Maids to clean the entire house top-to-bottom.

So far, we've accomplished getting paint chips to determine just which color we'll need, we've sold the piano (yay) and are moving it next weekend, and one of the two sinks has been replaced. Next weekend, we'll be spackling and painting, and the goal is to be on the market in two weeks, with an open house the weekend of my birthday.

Meanwhile, tomorrow we're LOOKING at open houses, and deciding if we want to go forward with the Pershing Ave. property, or make a new offer on a house in Burbank that has 4 bedrooms and a pool for less money.

Eep. Time to shower so Fuzzy can caulk it.

Is it really Friday? Do you Promise?

This week has felt a month long. Partly, this is because my mother, whom I love, and who is a dynamic sales person and amazing at loanstuff, was working in my office, at the desk around the corner from my private space, and she never stops talking. Ever. She gives this on-going running monologue of everything she's doing/thinking/planning. It was better this week than last, because she was, at least, house-sitting for a friend in Palo Alto, and I only had to hear this during the work day.

* * *
Part of the reason I'm so insane when she's working with me is that, in order to preserve my own sanity, such as it is, I have a personal rule that I don't talk about Work when I am Home. This ability to compartmentalize my life is one that I obviously did not inherit from my mother. She can't do it. And she found it difficult to understand that once I walk in my front door, I refuse to talk about any mortgages other than my own. I remain convinced that part of the reason she burned out before the Baja move, was her inability to turn things off that way.

* * *
Rates are the lowest they've been in about 30 years. No, that's not just marketing hype. This means that the phones at work never stop ringing. Ever. Yesterday, because we were down by two loan officers, I posted 45-day locks instead of 30 because that way they'd look a bit higher, and I was trying to discourage rate-shoppers, while still presenting good rates for serious callers. Today, E. and I will be the only two people in the office. It's enough to give anyone grey hair, and I think I saw one this morning. *whimper*

* * *
We heard from the sellers of the property over our back fence that they wanted to counter our offer with a $10k higher price and then also not put the counter in writing until we were officially in escrow on the sale of our condo. Their realtor is pretty pissed at them, because he and Susan (aka Mom) go way back, and he knows our offer was fair, and even at the reduced price of $535k the only offer they've had was ours. They instructed him to reduce the price further and keep the listing open. So we're looking at alternative properties, including a very /very/ cute property in one of the nicer sections of the Burbank neighborhood, which is across San Carlos from the Rosegarden neighborhood. (And is named for the Burbank theatre, which was once respectable, then became an adult theatre, and is now closed.) There are parts of this neighborhood that are really nice, and while the houses weren't built in 1925 and aren't quite as cute, it's old enough that there are old trees. Our favorite in this neighborhood is a 4/2 with a pool and is listed for $475k, and the listing agent is my former boss. So we're asking Anne to call about it. (P.S. It also has a dog run.)

* * *
So, I'm tired, and more stressed than I should be, and my house is torn apart because we're starting to pack stuff so the house can be 'staged' when it officially goes on the market, and what I want most in the world right now is to crawl back into bed, sleep till noon, and then soak in the tub for about a year (or until there's no more hot water and I run out of books), but instead, I'm going to go shower, and head to work. Hopefully, I'll get home before dark tonight.

Condo For Sale…Cheap

So, we made a contingent offer on a house yesterday. And the house is cute-cute. And I know the sellers' agent wants to accept, but the sellers are concerned about that contingency in a softening market.

And who can blame them?

Anybody want to buy 2 br/1.5 ba townhouse in San Jose's Rosegarden area? 1st floor has hard wood floors, 2nd is carpeted. The yard wraps around the side of the unit – it's an end unit. There's a hot tub. It's 1150 square feet. If I sell it before Saturday, when I sign the listing agreement with Anne Hansen, it's 320k as-is or 335k with a $10k credit for new carpets, floor resurfacing, etc.

And yes, this post is slightly tongue-in-cheek. But only slightly.