Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saga Part II

Back in October, I posted about a saga with our property.

Since that post, when a survey had just been done, we've had to wait for the results of that as well as wait for the title company to get an appraisal company out to determine the decrease in value of my property due to the neighbor's encroachment. (Just hearing back from them took a month and a half. This has been a long process, and doesn't look like it will end anytime soon).

The final result is that the neighbor is on a total of 85 square feet of my property in two different places (that AC unit I referred to in my last post is on my property, too), with a devaluation of $5,000.00 to my property.

Now finally armed with this information, we had a meeting with them and the city planner on Tuesday.
I was hoping it would go well.
It didn't.
The neighbors were not civil.
At all.
They kept demanding to know why we had asked for this meeting and to know what we wanted. They got even less civil after hearing there was an encroachment issue.

Honestly, there are a lot of options for solving it.
They could tear down the part of their house that's on my property and move their AC unit (the most unlikely option, and one that probably neither of us care for).
They could give me 85 sq. ft. of their property.
They could pay me for whatever portion of my property they want to keep.
We could move our fence in the back (it sure would be nice to have enough room to walk back there), and the one on the side, thereby reducing the amount of my property that they're on, allowing them to pay me or trade me less. 
And probably a couple other options I'm not aware of.

But none of that is going to happen - at least not without another waiting period.

Because they think we're in the wrong.

First of all, they came into the meeting with what they were calling a survey of their property, but it was really an ILC, that they think proves their point about their property. Unfortunately for them, it was actually detrimental, because it doesn't show their house over my property line.
Secondly, they were saying that we were the ones encroaching, because our fence line is so close to their roof line, and because they "were here first."
Thirdly, because none of the previous owners of my house has had an issue.
Fourth, because I bought the house "as-is" (like it was a chipped piece of pottery or something).

They were in no mood to talk about a solution. When we mentioned the land trade, the man said, "Oh, I SEE WHAT YOU'RE AFTER! You want the property in back that you offered to buy from us that one time!"

Well, yes, that's one option.

Then we made the mistake of saying that would allow us to add on, and then he was stuck on that. "The city will never let you build an addition there!" (Mind you, all this was yelling. Neither of them spoke in a calm manner more than a couple times). He mentioned that over and over, like it would make me forget that he's on my property...?

Well, adding on is currently a non-issue. It is so far down the road that it is not the focus. The fact that there is a title issue with both our properties is the focus.

After much raising of voices, interrupting, debating, denying, and general unpleasantness, he let us know he'd "had enough of this" and walked out, his wife (I assume they're married) following on his heels.

So here's where we are now: The city will send them a letter stating that they are encroaching on my property. They will have, from my understanding, two or three months to fix the issue. If they don't, the city may have to take them to court. I don't know what solution they are going to come up with other than what I listed above, and they were unwilling to talk about those options. Honestly, I think they're going to do nothing. They seem very much like "screw other people" people.

So we wait again. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Stenciled Headboard

A couple months ago, I took this picture of my bedroom. Two things jumped out at me. One, I needed a bedskirt. Two, the room needed something a bit more visually appealing. It felt too sterile. Originally I was thinking about adding some color, so I painted a nightstand really royal blue with the intention of doing them both, then adding some color on the wall. I'm now in the process of repainting that nightstand, because the color on the wall turned into a headboard in - yep - neutral colors.

So even though not much has been added in the way of a color palette, there is definitely more of a visually interesting focal point in the room now.

I used Kim Myles' Indian Inlay stencil for all but the bottom middle two squares (get your own stencils at and was inspired by this photo (from

On a completely unrelated note, I was also noticing recently how my children's creative spirit sometimes clashes with my decor. Not that I mind, though. They'll be gone too soon, and these funny things will disappear along with them.

My necklace holder...
 With a green twist-tie dude hanging on by his toes.

My Asian bamboo tray...
 featuring a weird clay alien thing.

My bookcase...
 With a green worm-snake-dinosaur crawling along the top.

Kitchen cabinets...
 With a Valentine's Day love note taped on.

And finally, a starburst mirror...
 with a green zombie guy hanging on for dear life.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Shelf That Idea

There are a lot of perks of living in a small space. One is that I really can't gather too much stuff. At some point you can't keep bringing things in without also getting rid of things. Of course, when Christmas season rolls around, it can get a little frustrating not having anywhere to hide gifts without displacing other things - sometimes to the middle of a floor or a counter top, which really disrupts the peaceful mind of a "a place for everything and everything behind closed doors" believer like me. 


Which is why it's also a bit surprising that I decided to go with the open shelf look in the kitchen. But the kitchen is - befitting this 901 square foot house - quite small and enclosed. And when the bulky cabinets sit about a foot above the only workable counter space, it's an issue. 

So I came up with the idea, my man executed, and we now have a kitchen that feels much more open. Plus, we have plenty of space to work on the counter. It looks amazing and is so much more functional. 

Still much to do. Paint the cabinets that still exist - both below and on other walls. And I unfortunately (or not) mentioned a way for us to redo the wall of nothing but cabinets, and we're now both really excited about that. Guess we're just going to take it one wall at a time.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Why I Said Yes

Why I Said Yes - Part One

A wise friend once said to me, after hearing me say I'd never get married again, "Oh yes you will. You don't know what a real marriage is. Once you meet someone who shows you that, you'll get remarried."

I'm smart enough to know that there are people wiser than I am, so I admitted that maybe she was right {without shedding my normal, skeptical attitude, of course, because that's how I roll}.

Let me explain why, at that point, I was saying "never again."

I thought, with my first marriage, that I'd done most things right. I was living a good, moral lifestyle. I met that guy in an online Christian chat room. We didn't live anywhere near each other, but we talked on the phone constantly for a month and a half. I heard about his good days and bad days and how he reacted to each. He told me about his family, his job, his hobbies (which were pretty much computers and computers, but hey). It sure sounded like he had a lot of the things that were on my list of "the ideal guy." By the time I flew to meet him, I was sure I knew him well enough to say yes when he asked. Plus, I prayed about everything. Plus, we didn't have sex before we got married. Doesn't all of that qualify as "doing most things right?"

We married after only a few months, and even fewer of those were spent living in the same area. Though I was convinced I knew him, I really didn't. I didn't know that although he was a college grad, he wasn't really educated. That even though he liked to read, standing at his computer every day when he got home wasn't really reading. That our definitions of being a Christian didn't mesh on certain important levels. I thought it was more important to just live it. He thought it was acceptable to be really-not-nice to people over the phone (which, when you're trying to offer remote tech support, happened a lot), then excuse his behavior with, "I'm sorry. I'm a Christian. I really shouldn't be acting that way. Please forgive me."

And of course how could I know in those early days, that once we had kids, his take on watching them would be that I was the caretaker and, on his watch, he was the babysitter? How could I know then that his definition of me being a Biblical wife was to agree with him on everything or I was "unsubmissive"? How could I know that it would soon be much easier to stop sharing things with him because it was easier than him talking at me until early morning hours until I agreed with him?

In his defense, I will never say he was the only reason our marriage failed. I was half of that partnership. I could have done things differently. I could have insisted on more counseling. I could have tried to tell him more often that I was dying inside. But I guess that for all the times that I did say something and it fell of deaf ears, I eventually gave up - years into and years before the end of our marriage. Instead, I kept quiet and kept praying. That things would get better. That I would learn to respect him. That he'd come home in a good mood from work each evening so things would go smoothly until bedtime.

Eventually, fourteen or so years into our marriage, when I was done and finally told him so, we went to counseling again. After listening to us for just one session the counselor said to him, "You know, there isn't just one form of emotional abuse. There's the kind where people yell and scream at each other. But there's also the kind where people make others feel like they're non-existent, non-valued human beings. What you guys have is not a real marriage."

Another person, a friend and a pastor that my husband-at-the-time called to try to talk some sense into me, said, "Your husband is the most legalistic man I've ever spoken to. I don't know how your marriage is going to make it."

There are a lot of people who never agreed with my divorce. I lost friends because of it. Friends who accused me of "listening to Satan" and who said, "I thought you were stronger than that."

I don't think some people realize how strong you have to be to get divorced. Or how bad things must be. It isn't the easy way out.

People didn't understand that I just couldn't live like that any longer. Not being a person. Not being respected. Not being happy. Living with someone I felt was the complete opposite of who I think a person should be. Being in an emotionally unhealthy place {and having had been there for years}.

Those people also hadn't talked to some of the people I had, who stayed in their marriages because it was the Biblical thing to do, and were now in their 50s or 60s and still miserable. In fact, I have one older friend who has made the choice to remain married. When I visited with her a few years ago she talked about how miserable she was in her marriage. When she visited again about a year ago, she told me what a better place she was in than that previous time we'd seen each other. "So you're happy?" I paraphrased. Her reply was, "Oh, no. I wouldn't ever say I'm happy."

I'm sorry, but I don't think that's Biblical, either. Don't misunderstand me and think I'm saying that being unhappy is grounds for divorce, but I don't believe God is going to reward anyone based on a "you were this ___ miserable for this ___ long, so your reward is exponentially this ___" system.

Why I Said Yes - Part II

I should know by now never to say never. My list of "I-said-never-and-then-it-happened"s is quite long.

But that's such a great thing! Among the list of things I never would have experienced if my nevers had happened:
* I would never have had my two amazing boys that are crazy and funny and adventurous.
* I never would have made some of the great friends I have.
* I never would have traveled to India.

And if THOSE things had never happened, well, it's a chain-reaction, isn't it? If those things had not made me who I am and led me to where I was, the things that I'm doing and experiencing now might never have happened.

* I might still be in an unhappy marriage.
* I might still be bored out of my mind at home.
* I probably never would have ended up back in Colorado.
* I never would have met some of the great people I've met.
* I might never have traveled to Spain and Morocco. 

Most importantly, I never would have met the man who changed one of my most important "nevers": the one we're talking about - the one where I said I'd never marry again.

Well, I'm still not married, so I guess technically...

But that's just a formality at this point.

So what did he do to change my never?

Mostly, he showed me that not all relationships or people are the same.
*Until I met him, I thought married people fought all the time.
They don't.
*Until I met him, I thought losing respect for someone you spent a lot of time with was an unavoidable natural erosion.
It isn't.
*Until I met him, I thought all men wanted to take control of their women.
They don't. Some have a lot of respect for us. This one won't even let me clean the bathroom because I am the only woman in a house full of boys who are the ones who make the mess in the bathroom.
*Until I met him, I thought love scenes from romantic movies were all scripted and void of reality.
They aren't. They happen often. Sometimes in my kitchen.
*Until I met him, I thought everyone had flaws that you just learned to put up with.
Guess what? Some people actually don't have things about them that bother you.
*Until I met him, I thought people really really needed breaks from each other.
They don't. We don't. I look forward to every single evening and weekend with him.

But I've also learned it's extremely important to spend a lot of authentic time with a significant other so you can really learn who they are.
So secondly, he showed me that he is the type of person I value.
*He is kind and compassionate and understanding.
*He is competent in so many areas.
*He is funny.
*He is solid.
*He communicates extremely well.
*He is just the right mix of emotional and cerebral.
*He treats everyone with respect.
*He is smart.
*He's pretty much every good quality and none of the bad ones.

I know that sounds like a fairy tale. I know that sounds like I'm "in love" and am still in that "honeymoon phase" where my lover can do no wrong. But I can tell you that isn't correct. Because this time I've done everything "wrong" {according to some ways of thinking} in order to make sure this is right. I've been living with this man for over a year now, because I really don't subscribe to that way of thinking anymore. I'd rather be true to who I am. I'd rather be sure. And I'm telling you, there's nothing I'd change about this man, nothing I'd delete. His background has made him who he is, and I love what he brings to my life.

I have one final story. It's not really one I like to think about, but to me it was a turning point, and therefore important. A few years ago I took a summer climbing trip with a then-friend. It was the morning of July 4th, so there was no one on the roads. We were heading somewhere new to climb. Driving through Boulder, there was a young woman in her car, turning left, slightly in our lane. Rather than moving over to the right lane and just going around her {remember how I said there was no one on the roads that morning?} this man stopped his truck, rolled down his window, and started screaming and swearing at her, as well as honking his horn intermittently. I was incredibly embarrassed to be in his vehicle. We had no idea why she was where she was. True, she shouldn't have been in our lane. But had her car stopped unexpectedly? Had she thought she could make it before we got there, then realized she couldn't, and stopped without realizing she was in our lane? Was she transporting a sick animal or fragile plants and taking things too slowly? I have no idea. But I was horrified that someone would treat someone else that way. That woman was a soul, a spirit, a fellow human being.

It made such an impression because all I could think after that was that I needed to be with someone who, in that kind of situation, would have gotten out of our vehicle to see if she needed help.

This man I've met and fallen in love with is that type of person.

In a conversation with a friend a couple weeks ago, I told her about how my man respects me, cherishes me, treats me and others well. How I would follow him to the ends of the earth because he is the kind of man I can trust that far. How even though he doesn't go around proclaiming his beliefs, he lives them. "And that," she said, "makes this union more holy than your first one."


And that is why, when he asked, I said yes.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Just Go

Sometimes, when people are important, you must go be with them.

It is not the first time I've made that decision, nor will it be the last. Because it is always so worth it. 

Yes, sometimes the cost of an airplane ticket is a factor. Yes, sometimes there are scheduling conflicts. But those are hurdles that can be overcome, because "sometimes" is the key word here.

What can't be overcome is the regret of not going. 

I decided to fly to Texas two weekends ago, to hang out with one of my closest friends. It was a quick, two-day trip, but we hadn't seen each other in a couple years, so it was time.

Unfortunately, we didn't take any pictures together, but that's OK. We have some from last time we were together. 

And yesterday I got home from another whirlwind weekend - this time in Minnesota. My favorite aunt turned 80 on Friday, and while we didn't make it in time to see her that day (our plane got in at 9:00pm that evening), we drove the last two hours on Saturday morning and got to hang out with her and my cousins for 25 hours (minus sleeping time).

We drove up the north shore of Lake Superior for the day, ate lunch together, walked around an old lighthouse, talked about how much we all love Minnesota lakes, and had wine in the evening. The next morning we took a very short walk (short, because Minnesota in November is no joke), and had bacon and eggs for breakfast before setting out for the airport again. 

I adore this side of my family.

I AM planning to stay home next weekend... :-)

Sunday, October 19, 2014


So. There's been a bit of a saga going on over here for a number of months now. Some sagas take time, you know? It's not much of a saga in the sense of anything really happening. More of a saga in terms of what could happen.

It probably started over a year ago, when my man started questioning the property line in the back of my house. Having been a first-time-single buyer, I didn't question my realtor, who said the fence in the back was my property line. And I assumed the title company had done their job. Ok, let's be honest. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a title company until this saga started unfolding.

It's not like it hadn't been brought up before, the strangeness of my backyard, that is. A few people said, "Wow, your back yard sure is tiny." Or wondering why there were a few stone steps with a fence right down the middle, so I have half and the neighbors have half. I just shook my head and said, "I don't know why it's that way. It just is." But my man knows a lot about a lot, and he was more adamant with his questioning.

 (Fence right through the steps)

At one point we even approached the neighbor. Not with any questions, but actually to ask if we could buy a portion of their property from them. There is a piece behind my house, on my foundation level, that we were thinking we could use to build an addition. Before the words were even fully out, the neighbor said no, and his wife said, "Then where would my dogs go to the bathroom?" So we just exchanged small talk about the neighborhood for a few more minutes, and he mentioned this addition he'd built a number of years ago.

 (The roof of his addition centimeters from my fence)

Because things like this aren't the biggest priority when there's just a "hmmmm?" in your head, it took us a few months to make the rounds to the Manitou Springs city offices and both the city and regional buildings in Colorado Springs. We didn't even really know what we were looking for at first, but we got copies of paperwork detailing my and the neighbor's lots, and found out that he'd never pulled any permits for either his addition or his garage. Nor, for that matter, the A/C unit he was currently installing.

We looked at my ILC, which is not a formal survey, not admissible in court, and done in 2005. We called the company that had completed it and asked about it. They didn't own the original, so they couldn't give that to us (and the company that does own the original is out of business, so we were out of luck there), but the man we spoke to did send us an electronic copy of ours, with arrows pointing to all of the areas that aren't on the original - they had been drawn onto mine. Then they sent a guy out to look at our property, as we were thinking about getting a survey done. However, this is Manitou (= lots of crazy property issues), and surveys are expensive. Like $3,000 to $5,000 dollars expensive. I dropped that idea pretty quickly.

But we did go to our city planner's office with the ILC. Which, I forgot to mention, actually has my neighbor's house plotted on it, OVER my lot line. Yep, his addition looked like it was not only on my property, but someone had actually drawn it in on my document. The planner called them into his office, but without a proper survey, there really was nothing he could do.

It was some time in here that I saw the neighbor outside, and asked him again about the addition. I didn't say much, but told him I was wondering about the property line in the back. He then denied ever having built the addition.

With nothing else to do now on my own, I filed a claim against my title company (by now it had been explained to me what one was and what their job was - to make sure there were no issues like this prior to purchase). Oh, I also forgot to mention that I'd called the previous owner as well. It took a month for her to call me back, but when we spoke, she told me she didn't know anything about the property lines in the back of the house. See why this was a long, ongoing, something-could-happen-but-isn't-happening saga?

Back to the title company. I sent them pictures of my/the neighbor's property. I told them about his addition. I told them about the ILC. I sent them copies of the one I have, as well as the one that was sent to us with all the arrows on it. And, again after a couple months of silence (for the most part), someone there obviously decided there was enough of a question that a survey needed to be done. A man was out here for a few hours last Thursday completing that.

And while he wouldn't say much once he was done ("I don't want to create bad blood between neighbors"), it was quite clear from his chuckling that my fence is not actually my lot line. All he said was, "Your neighbor is going to have some problems."

So now we know. But at the same time, what do we know? Only definitively that his addition was built on my property. I still don't know:
*What the title company's responsibility is to rectify anything. They didn't do their job, and I, therefore, bought a property with incorrect property lines. Do they pay me something? Do they pay for legal representation? No clue.
* Does my neighbor need to give me property-tax money, since he's using part of my property?
*Will he be able to stay on that land? What kind of rights does he have if he's been on it, undisputed, for X number of years?
*Or will he have to tear his addition down? Or will he have to give me a chunk of his property as an alternative to doing that?
*Will he now have to have that addition (and garage?) inspected and brought up to code because neither were ever permitted in the first place?
*Does he have squatter's rights, and then am I just s.o.l? Would we have to have new property lines drawn up , then?

See? Again, nothing really happening, but sort of happening. And something definitely will. The only thing I'm pretty sure about is that it won't happen quickly.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Teen In the House

 This morning at 7:05 I became the parent of a teenager. He informed me last night that he needs to go check out some books on how to be rude...

He doesn't really need to do that. He's got it down pretty well when he wants to, just like any normal kid...

But a lot of times he's pretty sweet, too. Last night he thanked all of us at the table for many things we've done for him, including buying him all his meals, giving birth to him (that only applies to me), helping him with his homework, and being there for him (specifically for his brother).

Don't know how he's growing up so fast.

Seems like just yesterday we started this tradition of taking photos in one of his dad's button-downs, and now he's almost all grown into it.