…and by “everybody” I mean, well, a friend of mine has asked about it.

But he has asked *twice*, so I suppose I could say that I’m posting this “by popular demand”.

pool table

It’s been over a hundred days since I last posted to this blog. I reckon I just got tired of hearing myself talk; I don’t really have anything to *say*.

My life has been going along very quickly for the last three and a half months; so very much has happened. Since this is a diary, I should, by rights, have been yammering my head off in these pages. But I have been enjoying, I suppose, a bit of withdrawal; my natural inclinations are introversional (my spellchecker doesn’t like that neologism, but I do, so there. Just be glad I’m not pluralizing “inclinations” with an apostrophe) – although I’m verbose, I’m best being verbose in small groups.

I could do a single BLOGBELCH, upchucking everything that’s happened since we moved in on August 13th, or I could meter it out bit by bit. I think I’ll go with the (b), since that leaves me the option of bailing anytime I feel like it.

So, the pool table – this is our loft, also known as the Bama Balcony. You’ll note the crimson walls and FatHeads; there’s also a full complement of Bama Memorabilia on the shelves and walls. Several times a day, Ethel and I will adjourn out here so that she can beat me at 8 Ball.

The loser racks; I’ve gotten very, very good at racking.

The Bama Balcony is also the Bama Break Room – in addition to the pool table, we have a K-Cup and the mini-fridge, with about 60 Diet Dr Peppers and 10 or so Diet Cokes (based on the relative intakes of the respective target demographics in House Puckett).


Ethel and I have been full remote for months at a time in Purgatory, so we’re used to working like this, but I have to admit that our current setup is the sweetest, by far. Our offices are about ten yards apart; we have 65+ Mbps to share between us, and we have Pandora playing through Sonos into most of the rooms in the house (except for the two offices themselves, but, of course, in those rooms, we have our computers, so we have Pandora there, as well).

I’m only missing two things from Workday SLC – my co-workers, and the Snack Program. The K-Cup maker and mini-fridge are well stocked, but be darned if’n I don’t miss the 1 oz bags of Jack Links. But I don’t have to DRIVE to this office, so I’ll call it a win.



….we’ve ordered the new pool table. I’m sitting here working, and I hear her mumbling specs and price and other stuff under her breath, and then I hear her mouse go “click” and I can actually feel the pain in my wallet.

brunswick_ashtonAnd now we’re the proud owners of what you see above – or, at least, a reasonable facsimile thereof. This is not our room (any “Turner and Hooch” fans out there? : ) and this is not our pool table – this is the picture from the web site.

This is a Brunswick Ashton, sold by Costco (I’m pretty sure it’s the “Allenton”, rebranded so that Costco can sell it for some less). We were finding comparable used tables in the region in a given price point, and we’d have had to pay for moving and setup; we got this new one from Costco for about what we’d pay used locally, and thatĀ includes moving and setup, and we get to pick legs, finish, and felt (we’re probably going with “Macintosh”, just slightly more crimson than the red seen above. Longtime readers of this feature will not question the “crimson” choice). Plus, it comes with the whole shebang – balls, cues, et cetera.

It’s an 8 foot table, which means that we should have a 15×17 room to put it in; the loft is 13×15, but there are two walls missing, so we’re okay – at least, I hope we are. It’s already been ordered.

It’ll be several weeks before it gets delivered, but I suspect that we’ve got plenty to do to keep us busy in the meantime. Pool tables are for relaxing, not for getting work done. If there’s work that needs doing, a pool table is a liability, not an asset.

The loft is upstairs, behind Ethel’s office; we’ve already ordered the mini-fridge (84-can capacity, glass front, temp down to 34 F) and we’ve got the K-cup machine, so this will basically be my and Ethel’s break room area. It won’t be like our break room at Workday, with all of the free snacks and company – but it also won’t have 15 millennials playing Ping-Pong, so there’s that, too :)

We close tomorrow. I got a panicked call from the loan officer this morning – the underwriters needed something else. It was a few clicks and an email later that they got what they needed. Now there should be nothing but the silence of expectation until 11 AM tomorrow, when we sign the papers and take the keys; then I go back to work for the rest of the day, and Ethel starts….starts doing Ethel things.

We’ve got everything here at the condo that needs to go out to the house, and we’ve bought an inflatable bed to sleep in until the guest bed gets here next Tuesday (which we’ll sleep in until our new bedroom suit gets here in a month or so). We will be setting up the training room in an interim configuration. We’ll basically be living in little pieces of the house in little ways while we’re painting, until the furniture (and all the new stuff that Ethel has ordered) shows up.

And then, on Tuesday, after we’re exhausted from 4-5 days of painting 12-16 hours…things get crazy.

Last Thursday, I pointed out that the appraisal was due on 12 Red Rock, and that appraisals had already cost us one house purchase this summer.

On Friday, we didn’t buy this house:

monidaThis is not 12 Red Rock – this is on Monida, and we didn’t buy it.

“Lemme ‘splain – no, is too much. Lemme sum up.” – The appraisal came in low. So we were on the hook for the difference, in cash. So we freaked out, ran in circles, screamed, shouted, and generally raised a hubbub, and then went out looking for The Next House.

Nothing suggested itself except for the above home, which – while being more expensive – probably suited us even better. I found it while Ethel had Lucy at the vet (a “meet and greet” – sheeesh) and she wouldn’t answer her phone, because she was talking about important stuff, like Lucy’s bowel movements.

When I finally reached her, she came to meet me at the house, and then we met the realtor, and then we couldn’t get the offer in because our realtor was out of pocket. By the time we finally got the offer in – that night – the house was sold; the builder had accepted a verbal offer in the meantime.

I’m just a mite tired of all this.

As it turned out, we split the difference with the seller, so we wound up buying the house for slightly less while paying slightly more out of pocket. And we are closing in two days; Ethel has pulled the trigger on many purchases and contracts and whatnot. We’ve bought another TV for the training room, a mini-fridge for the loft, we’ve arranged for power and water and gas and such, we have a furniture delivery for the locally-bought dining room (table is locally made; the chairs are Pennsylvania Amish bent hickory), barstools and my morning chairĀ (Amish bent hickory, again) on Friday, our stuff will be here from Utah on Tuesday, and the AV will be set up on Wednesday.

(We have a new bedroom, locally built, but it won’t be here for another six weeks or so. They build slow here in Bozeman).

Don’t know yet where the pool table will come from. But at least we know where it’s going – up on the loft. When there is enough 4K content to justify buying a 4K football watching device, we’ll get one and move the 70 inch Aquos up there. Until then, we’ll have to play pool without watching the game.

I also have to buy a lawn mower and shovels and rakes and implements of destruction; I’m worn out just thinking about it.

Now, I haven’t mentioned in all of this bruhaha the fact that, after we close, we have to paint the whole dang house ourselves; not only were painting contractors outrageously expensive, but also none of them could actually start anywhere near any conceivable time frame in which we might be interested. So we’re going to be painting the house between the closing and the furniture arriving on Tuesday. (Pray for us now and in the hour of our death – amen).

Two years ago today, Ethel and I drove from Arizona into Utah to begin our new lives. I am trying to imagine what I might have said to somebody had they told me that, exactly two years later, I’d be living in Montana, waiting to close on a new house, I would have assumed that you were talking to somebody else. The last 2.5 years have been insane. I have heartburn just thinking about it.

Ethel keeps saying “we’re almost there” – and, from a calendar perspective, I suppose she’s correct.

But, from a sweat and dollar perspective, we’ve got a long, long way to go.

But at least we know which house we’re moving into.

It’s Thursday, August 6th, and the appraisal is due on 12 Red Rock Ct.

RedRockIt was ordered six weeks ago, but in the current market, the appraisers have all that they can do. Our banker originally thought that it would actually be here last week, and that we might be closing by now. But we’re still sitting in the condo, waiting on the appraisal.

It’s an issue because, if it doesn’t come in high enough, it means financing trouble.

Our appraisal came in $12K low on the second condo that we had a contract on in Taylorsville, and because of that, Ethel stood up and quit her job to move to Bozeman, but they told her to just go ahead and move to Bozeman. I’m not going to say how many, many thousands of dollars MORE than that piddlin’ $12K the move to Bozeman is costing us. You won’t hear a peep out of me about it. As Ethel keeps saying, “the end game is a home in Bozeman”.

The above pic is out of date – the house now has grass and three little landscaping-company trees in the yard. We’ve bought the bedroom suit and the dining room table; we’ve made arrangements for the AV installation (the most expensive thing of all, which is strange, because we already OWN the TV) and we’ve bought the paint (we’re going to be doing the painting ourselves; local contractors were prohibitively expensive – again, that hot real estate market – and no matter how much they charged, they would not be getting it done for a long time anyway).

We have made some changes that are part of the move to Bozeman (whether it’s Red Rock Court or not) such as getting a bank account at Stockman Bank. Today I moved my direct deposit to that bank. It’s a local bank, and it’s cooler’n all git out – the teller windows have candy and dog treats, and when we were getting our account set up, they were playing “Shout!” on the sound system. (The deposit slips say “God Bless America” on them. This is not New Jersey).

We’ve joined a gym, and we’ve joined the local Masters Swimming club. And we’ve joined the church parish, as well. So even if we don’t wind up moving into Red Rock, we’re going to living in Bozeman, it looks like.

This is the most stressful move on record, sans doubt. It’s been going on, in one phase or the other, since February. It won’t be over for a while. And we don’t know, right now, even if we’re moving forward with 12 Red Rock, because, as I said above, the appraisal is due today.

We were just at Home Depot a few minutes ago, moving along the order for our blinds for the new house. And I saw rows of appliances, including refrigerators – some at the front that were in the mid-$3000 range, then less expensive, and less – and finally, these guys, on the back row, facing the back of the store:


I sorta felt sorry for these refrigerators; they were the smallest, and the least expensive, without the fancy features or ice-in-the-door or any of that stuff. The last row refrigerators.

I found myself giving them all a thumbs-up and telling them “Good job!” like Hancock talking to the SWAT Team.

I wanted to let them know that maybe they weren’t as fancy and expensive as the other guys, but they were darn serviceable and functional refrigerators, and that they did what refrigerators are supposed to do – keep food cold. I sorta gave them a little pep talk, and I like to think that, after I left, maybe they stood just a little bit taller.

I know how it feels to be on the last row, with the smallest price tag. I know how it feels to think that nobody wants you, that you’re barely functional, that folks will gladly pass over you on the way to something better. And I didn’t want these refrigerators to feel that way.

I’m sure that this has nothing to do with the fact that, today, I can’t get my boss’ or team leader’s attention at all; I finished up some projects this morning, and these folks seem to be too busy to give me the next project. Maybe they don’t care whether I’m doing anything or not. Maybe they’d rather I not do anything, so that I won’t mess anything up.

Completely unrelated.

Good job, refrigerators! You guys hang in there – somebody need you; exactly you, and no other refrigerator will do!

Here are the new corporate offices of Western Governors University (Montana Campus) and Workday Bozeman.

KitchenOfficeWe’re in a thousand-square-foot 2 bedroom condo for the next few weeks, and this is the best that we could come up with for working spaces. It actually is much more functional than you might think….well, it would have to be, wouldn’t it?….and I’m quite comfortable. Pandora over the headphones insulates me from Ethel’s meetings and phone calls – and the 60+ Mbps connection is better than we had at home in Utah; it may be better, in fact, than what we each had at our Utah offices, as those were shared-bandwidth situations.

Life is proceeding apace here in the Great White North – no, wait. That’s Canadia, right? We’re not in the Great Plains – the eastern part of Montana certainly is Great Plainsey, but “Montana” means “Mountain”. We’re not in the Pacific Northwest – heck, here in Bozeman, we’re actually on the Atlantic side of the Continental Divide, although not by much. I suspect we could call it the “Northern Rockies” – there. That works…anyway, things are moving along. We’re two weeks out from closing on the new house, with all that that involves. And we’re learning our way around Bozeman from a resident’s perspective, and finding the new places that will someday be old hat.

For instance, last night, we swam for the first time with the Bozeman Masters swim club; that was not fun for me (I’m the introvert) nor was it easy. They are a SWIM club, not a TRI club; they want me to something called “IM” but that doesn’t mean IronMan – it means Individual Medley. But it turns out that it’s not very “individual” at all – it orta be called “Regimented Medley” because it involves all kinds of things that nobody would EVER do if left to their own individuality; things like “Butterfly” and “Backstroke” and “Breaststroke”.

“Breastroke” seems like “Dogpaddle” and it’s just as tiring. “Backstroke” – well, were I to actually DO a backstroke, I would need my own pool. With rubber cushions on the sides. And “Butterfly”? That’s just a fancy, exhausting way to drown. I was able to do “Fly” for about four strokes before I gave up and reverted to “Breastroke” for the rest of the length, whereupon I started to cramp up.

But Ethel wants to do social stuff like that, so I’ll go back. Even though they’ll soon be shunning me, or giving me my own lane.

We’ve been going to different restaurants, enjoying the variety while looking for a “go-to” place. In Park City, that once was El Chubasco, but as our time got more precious this last residence, it eventually became Billy Blanco’s . A “go-to” restaurant means that place where you go when you don’t have time to – or don’t feel like – cooking; it means a place with which you are familiar and in which you have confidence; enough variety in the menu, and inexpensive enough (and casual enough) to be comfortable. We haven’t found that yet here in Bozeman (although I really like Rosauer’s deli, Ethel refuses to let a grocery store deli be our “go-to”). We’re still looking, and the search is fun in itself.

Church works; we feel comfortable there, but not too comfortable (“I am here to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”) and meetings are pretty good. There is weirdness, but it ain’t West Coast foo-foo or Salt Lake City buffet (“I don’t have a topic picked out, so you all just talk about whatever you want to talk about”) – quite a few of these folks have read the book, and even paid attention.

We’re learning our way around – when to avoid that intersection, how that road cuts through to a remarkable shortcut, how to get to the running trails. We’ve found a great local lake for open water swimming, and that’s in a park with gorgeous shady running trails as well. This weekend, I did a nice long bike ride up into Hyalite Canyon to the reservoir; felt comfortable the whole way. Folks around here are used to bicycles.

Life is proceeding apace for the Pucketts of Bozeman, MT, and will continue to do so for another week or two.

Then we close on the house, and things will get crazy.

The purchase of 12 Red Rock Court is proceeding apace – albeit, at considerable expense.

There’s the purchase of a new bedroom suit and dining room that was necessitated by us somehow getting finagled out of that stuff in Park City. Ouch. So far, that’s about 6500.

There’s an unfinished concrete wall on the front porch that the builder says is “finished”. Nobody else thinks so, but he does – first estimate is $1700 to cover that with rock. There’s a light fixture in the dining room that is just a round thing that looks like it cost about $10 – acacia floors, alder trim, and then that thing sitting there. It’s got to be replaced, of course.

Blinds – new house, has to have blinds. First estimate was just over 4K. We’ve gotten some down to the 2K range, but that involves leaving some windows uncovered. I’ve told Ethel that the neighbors seeing a naked bald man in his 50s is a self-solving problem – they’ll never look again – but she was unconvinced.

Then there’s the backsplash for the kitchen – that will probably involve more work than money, by the time we’re done.

Then there’s the paint and AV work –GreatRoom

Ethel has informed me that this paint “doesn’t work with our decor”, so we have to repaint. We don’t have the estimate for that, but it’s terrifying to meditate upon.

And the fireplace is at an odd angle, and we have to get an AV guy to come in and set up the sound, since there’s no simple solution – the ceiling is about 25-30 feet up there, so we can’t just run speakers through the ceiling. And we need fancy mounting and stuff, and power and cable and Cat5 run to a spot on top of the fireplace, so we need a smart guy to do all of that.

Got that estimate today – almost 4K. Boink!

This is all ruinous :) However, I am comforting (reassuring? Ameliorating? Calming? Hypnotizing? : ) myself by repeating to myself that if it gets us into the house, and we STAY in the house, that it was worth it.

And, if not, then it won’t make much difference in the long run. We’ll still retire – someday : )


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