Archive for the 'The Landlord Life' Category


Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Clearly, Paul and I have taken on too much, of late…

Moving to a new house, trying to get the old (duplex) house ready for new tenants, looking for new tenants, helping one (family relation) set of tenants to get a new apartment and leave our place because they’ve gotten behind in rent (and owe us money, which is stressful and upsetting), starting Emma at a new daycare, taking care of Emma every day, both of us working full-time, Paul doing his last semester of law school and hunting for a job, AND trying to get ready for a new baby on the way….

We’ve pretty much been stressed out of our gourds.

But finally and importantly, despite all else, we’re starting to make real progress on setting up the new nursery in preparation for our new arrival.

Last weekend, Paul finished painting the baby’s room (of course, it happened to be the ONE room of the new house that needed painting – it had previously been a crazy midnight blue color with an irremovable Bob Marley sticker on the wall – not baby friendly).

Also, during this week, Paul managed to find where, in those mystery moving boxes in the basement, our newborn baby clothes and nursing gear have been hiding! (Now, I’m just a few laundry loads – and a shopping trip for tiny diapers – away from stocking the baby’s dresser with her first clothes and supplies).

And finally, today, after an increasingly frenzied search, he has located the baggie of hardware required to reassemble our crib so that our little one will have a bed of her own when she’s ready for it!!  (Not knowing where that was had started to be a real concern).

So, whew! 

Forty-Seven days to go (if that many) to get ready for her, and now I’m actually feeling more optimistic that we will actually, indeed, be as prepared as we can be.   

And on other fronts, as my belly gets bigger and bigger, my walk (OK, waddle) slower and slower, and my general energy levels lower and lower, I’m being forced to accept that I can only do so much, and that clients and coworkers and fellow board members, the unpacking in the new house, and everything else will just have to do without as much of me for awhile. 

And that that’s OK.  Because I have a wonderful, other, part of life on the near horizion, and my attention has to be more and more focused there. 

It’s all starting to seem very real, and I’m getting very excited about being able to meet our new little one very soon!

Pearls in the Slime

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

What a strange few days its been.

We’re still settling in to our new place.  I still can’t find most of my socks or my address cards, and I still no official place in the new house to store underwear.  But these are temporary setbacks.

In the landlord realm, we weren’t able to fill our old level of the duplex as soon as we’d hoped (meaning we have to pay TWO mortgages, not one, for two months – longer than we’d hoped).  On top of that, the upstairs tenants we DO have have gotten behind on their rent (meaning more financial squeeze for us). 

Because the upstairs tenants are related to Paul, he has bent over backwards not only to accomodate them (while keeping them on a pay-back schedule), but also to help them work on budgeting their money and yes – even learning to better balance their checkbook.  The plan now is for them to move out very soon, and, luckily, today, Paul managed to book both the upper and lower levels, so we’ll have income to cover the bills on that house as of April 1.

As if we didn’t have enough to do (I’m getting anxious about getting everything ready for the new baby, since we’ve been real low key about it so far), we left for a conference I had in New Orleans earlier this week.

The conference sessions were good, but Paul woke up with a yucky flu the day after we arrived, and healthwise, I wasn’t feeling 100%, myself.  So we ended up skipping most of the planned conference social events and resting in the hotel room, instead.  It’s not often that we are without our daughter in tow, and the quiet time was restful.  We did have one nice dinner out at a place called Mr. B’s. 

Plus, you wouldn’t believe how strange it feels to walk around the French Quarter looking so very pregnant as I do now.  I felt totally out of place, and felt like people were surprised to see someone like me there.  It was more comfortable, actually, to keep my outings there to a minimum.

One day in New Orelans, Paul and I ate lunch out a little oyster diner type place called Felix’s.  We were the ONLY ones in the place, and things in the French Quarter were quiet, quiet, quiet.  Although *I* can’t eat such things (or drink ANYTHING I saw on Bourbon Street, where our hotel was) because I’m pregnant, Paul ate a plate of HUGE raw oysters there.

And in that quiet little place, among the slimy oysters, he found a tiny pearl!

When I walked by that same oyster place a couple of days later, there was a long line of customers out the door, and every table inside was filled.  I’m not sure why it was so QUIET when we were there, at roughly the same time of day just two days before.

It was almost as if the universe knew that we needed the space to take things slow and easy.

And I take some comfort in Paul’s finding that little pearl in an oyster that day.

This is a stressful time for us – we’ve just moved, we’re still getting settled, we’re waiting for the imminent arrival of baby #2, for whom we are not quite prepared (I’m still looking in boxes for various clothes and nursing items), Paul’s getting ready to graduate law school and looking for a job, we have two mortgages (and soon, two day care bills) to pay, there are still feet (yes FEET) of snow on the ground from this miserable winter, and we’ve been passing too many colds, and worse, to each other around our house.

So that pearl, to me, was kind of a hopeful symbol.  There’s a reward buried somewhere in all of this slime.  The unsettled feeling we have right now is temporary.  I’m keeping in mind that we’re still making progress on most of our goals.  If things don’t happen as quickly as I would like them too, well, maybe I just need to be OK with that. 

And finally, to cap off a strange few days, Paul’s father was driving Emma back home to us this morning, when – very close to our house – he got into a pretty bad car accident.  The car is in very bad shape – it will probably be officially ruled “totaled” – but luckily, both Paul’s dad and Emma emerged without a scratch.   This, even though the worst part of the impact was right outside where Emma sits.  Let’s hear it for seat belts and car seats, everyone! 

So that’s another pearl – something to be extremely grateful for in the midst of an otherwise unfortunate situation. 

I’ll keep looking for those pearls.  And trying to focus on the good, instead of on what feels somewhat chaotic around us right now. 

And in the meantime, maybe that d#%! snow out there will melt already, too…



Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Dancing Bat     The test came back negative today.

The biting bat (may he or she rest in peace) did not have rabies!! 

So no more shots for mom or Emma.¬† And I’m not as worried about the tenant’s bills anymore.¬† Homeowner’s should cover most of it, I would think.¬† And as my boss reminded me,¬†it’s just money.¬† Luckily, everyone is in good health.¬†¬†

Bat, Bites, and Bills

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

I’m still trying to come to terms with just what the odds are, astronomically¬†speaking,¬†of the occurrence of¬†some bizarre events in¬†our house over the¬†weekend.¬†

Paul and I left town for one night.  It was our first out-of-town overnight away from Emma.  My mother stayed over to take care of her.

Nothing could possibly go wrong in less than 24 hours, of course!

I made a routine check-in call to my mother from the hotel in the morning of our¬†weekend getaway.¬† Mom said that she had “had quite an adventure” the night before.

“Oh, Emma didn’t want to go to bed?” I asked, innocently.

“No,” she replied.¬† “There is a bat in the house!”

My jaw dropped.  We have never had a bat our house before. 


The events (and related, impending bills) are not yet far enough in the past that I’m able to spin¬†this one for humor.

The short version is that during a middle-of-the night check on Emma (in her room), my mother saw something swooping by.  

She turned the light on and saw the bat.

She screamed.  Emma shrieked at her scream.  (This pattern was repeated several times as the bat fluttered and echolocated around the room and into the hallway).  

Mom and Emma spent the rest of the night in another room with the door closed.   

Before we arrived home, things devolved from the novel to the unfortunate.

At my urging, my mother recruited the friendly upstairs tenant to help catch the bat, which was, by day, sleeping on the side of the kitchen cabinet.

During the course of the otherwise successful capture, the bat turned its head and bit our tenant on his fingertip.

Upon hearing that news (in Chicago), the first thing to flash through my mind was my homeowners insurance policy, followed quickly by other thoughts, which, of course, included great concern for the tenant.

A¬†representative of the Health Department¬†recommended that the tenant get the rabies vaccine right away.¬† She also read from¬†guidelines recommending that Emma and my mother should also get the shots, because the bat was in the house while they were sleeping, so we can’t know if they might have been bitten.

Because a Texas boy bitten by a bat during sleep died recently, and because of a well-known case of bat-related rabies in our state, the officials and medical professionals are all taking this very seriously.     

My mother got the first of her two shots the ER on the afternoon we arrived home, and I took Emma to the ER for her first (of five) shots, too.

Emma is scheduled for another shot on Tuesday.

The bat is being tested for rabies, and we’ll know its status on Wednesday.¬† If it has rabies, I’ll take Emma for the three additional shots over the next month.¬† The initial ER visit aside, I’ve made arrangements with¬†a reasonably lower priced (but still not that low) clinic for purposes of getting the rest of Emma’s shots.

But here’s the rub.¬† I told¬†my mother¬†to tell the tenant that¬†I would pay for his vaccine expenses.¬† It was the right thing to do, but I said it¬†before I thought through all the permutations of how much¬†that might cost if he has no health insurance.¬† ER visits aren’t¬†cheap, and he’s going to have to go five times!¬†to get the full vaccine series.

The good news is that everyone is being¬†cared for, and¬†there should be no health problems, even if the bat has rabies and bit everyone that¬†could.¬† And it’s all at zero cost to my mom, thanks to her insurance design.¬†

The bad news: in addition to the cost of Emma’s visits and shots, I may be¬†paying for five(!) of¬†ER visits for the tenant, who may or may not be insured.¬†¬†I cringe to think of how much that may¬†set me back.¬†¬†So much for our free trip weekend!

I’m still going to try submitting whatever it is as a claim on my homeowner’s policy.

Paul promised to check the attic soon to try and determine whether¬†any of the bat’s friends are up there.

I’m hoping this was a¬†one-time, freak occurrence.

Am feeling a bit more uneasy now, about that week away that we’re planning for later this year.¬†¬†¬†¬†

Oh, . . . BATS!!

Upstairs Neighbors

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

Our new tenants are all settled in and couldn’t be any nicer.

They have renters insurance and baked us a loaf of home-made banana bread!

Woo Hoo! New Tenants!

Monday, March 27th, 2006


As of May 1, we’ll have some new tenants living upstairs from us. I was worried that we’d go much longer without anyone to help us out with our mortgage payments (one of our previous tenants moved out last December, and the other one is done at the end of March).

These new people are both college grads. One is currently a Master’s Student in Theology. They know that the place isn’t the Ritz, but they said they picked it both because the price is hard to beat AND because they appreciate the care that Paul puts into taking care of the place. (Awwwww.)

Apparently on his tour with them he showed them how he’s currently repainting and wainscoting the bathroom, how he’s painted nearly every room in the place, and, yes, ladies and gentleman, how he added a primo deluxe toilet model known as “The Champion.”

Our last tenants were a family member and his buddy, respectively. This is our first experience with new people. But they’re great, and I’m excited!! (We’re going to have an actual written lease this time, too – a month-to-monther, just to keep it as flexible as possible on all sides).

Lately, I’ve been a little bummed out about the house. I think it might be the fixer-upper-two-year-itch. That is, we moved into our place (a nearly 80-year-old Bungalow) about two years ago. It needed lots of work, but that’s part of why we got a great price. Like all buyers, we were optimistic. We immediately pulled up carpet, had hard wood floors refinished, had the lower level (inside) painted by professionals, and Paul painted most of the upper level inside. We installed new carpet upstairs, and put in new kitchen flooring (just vinyl) in the downstairs and upstairs kitchens. Paul installed new toilets upstairs and down, and we also bought kitchen appliances for the place (stove, fridge, dishwasher), since neither kitchen came with any.

The amount of improvement after just those things was astonishing. Over time, Paul replaced a few light fixtures. We had ugly wallpaper removed from our bathroom. We had the common stairwell painted. I had some shelves installed in my closet. When the furnace broke, we replaced that, too.

But after all that, it starts to sink in how much MORE there is to do, how much we don’t want to spend much money doing it, and how little time we have for this kind of thing now that there’s a baby around! I’ve been wondering if we shouldn’t just have bought a tiny place for ourselves, and paid a mortgage that is half the price of ours, instead of paying double, and having the landlord and extra fix-up obligations.

And now that we’re thinking we’ll move on in a couple of years, I’ve been looking around with a pessimistic seller’s eye. Would someone actually buy this place? Paul is more optimistic on that front than I am.

But oh, well. I guess it will all work out. Actually, I already feel better after listing all the things we HAVE done. We’ve got new tenants for now, and we’ll get to some other things as time unfolds…