• Follow me on Twitter

  • Blog Stats

    • 20,217 hits
  • Archives

  • June 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Mar    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    2627282930  

Retirement Phase II Completed

It is now final, phase II is in the books! What started in October, has now come to fruition and it hasn’t been easy. We received our keys to our Sequim house just days before Christmas and the long process of moving into two separate residences began New Year’s Eve weekend hauling our trailer and the first load up to the house. The trailer was to be used as a place to sleep since we didn’t have any furniture up there yet! While we were there, we experienced a nice winter storm that dropped a nice deep blanket of snow that (a)caused us to have to leave the trailer there(we needed to bring it back for a repair), and (b)got our truck stuck in it coming up the driveway. You can watch a video I took of it as it began here. It was much deeper in the morning. We eventually dug the truck out. We made the best out of what we had in the trailer, borrowing plates, cups, pots and pans, camping chairs we set up in the living room, New Year’s Eve dinner on a card table and folding chairs, etc. It was an adventure to say the least! Thus began a six month ordeal that was exhausting and weekend consuming…..sorry friends and family.

The next pieces of the puzzle was to get our Snoqualmie house listed and find a place to call a temporary home while the both of us still have to work. Now we have been up here on Snoqualmie Ridge in the same house for 13 years. We thought about where we wanted to hang for the next few years until we can go up to the house full-time, knew we had to rent, realized that the rents here are crazy high, but since we had everything we were familiar with right here, we decided to stay. The hunt was on for a rental and with amazing luck, we stumbled onto a condominium that was just around the corner, and was roomy and the perfect fit for us. More good fortune was added when we discovered Debbie knew the owners. She just so happens to work out with both of them at her Crossfit gym. The deal was done, leased signed, and they allowed us early access to the place and we began the weekly slog of slowly emptying the Crestview house. The hardest part was deciphering was to be done with the 13 year accumulation of material goods. Some would go to the condo, some would go to Sequim, some would be sold/given away, but in the mean time we still had to live in and keep the Crestview house staged for sale. It was an arduous task and seemed to last forever.

Bye Bye Crestview House

Bye Bye Crestview House

The house got listed, weekend showings were done, we continued dragging stuff to the condo every weekend. A couple of times we would load up the back of the truck and head to Sequim with a load for the house there and enjoy a weekend of continued “glamping”. Finally an offer was made and accepted, appraisals and inspections done, and the real gutting began. It started bringing a feeling of melancholy along with the excitement as our beautiful home of thirteen years began looking like a shell. I always loved this house. It was our home of many memories and surrounded by great neighbors and would soon be empty of us. Two separate moves in as many of days were done with a great local mover to handle the heavy stuff and it was well worth the money! They did an excellent job and we had no damage to anything whatsoever! The only hitch was when we unloaded in Sequim and it was discovered my beloved desk for my office would not fit through any of the doors to the rooms I wanted it in. It sits in the garage there for sale….another story! We would also say what a pleasure it was working with our realtor, Bob Mathias, who is a good friend and Crestview neighbor. He did an excellent job and if you are looking to buy or sell on the eastside, he’s your man!

So after six long hard months of planning, strategizing, packing and carrying, we are done. Our plan worked flawlessly. We are mortgage free, our retirement location secured, and we have a great place to call a temporary home just blocks from our old house. All that is left for the final phase is to put in a few more years working for the man and stay healthy. Although we will miss our former home, we have a great new house and new adventure and also a great view from our rental. I say we had a lot of good luck in this, but we also acknowledge that we are truly blessed. Maybe it’s time to go back to church!

Condo View

Retirement Location Solidifies………

…….and our heads are spinning! It all began with another exploratory vacation. Recent vacations have been either camping with our friends in cool National Parks or going to locations that are on our radar for retirement while also having fun. We have looked at Flagstaff(Deb didn’t like), Sedona(beautiful but pricey real estate), Prescott(stumbled upon and really liked), but in the end we decided that we didn’t want to be that far from the guys! We also liked Jackson, WY and the cheap living in the state for retirees, then we started looking at what was for sale and lost our minds with the high prices! Cody, WY was an interesting town but has some very harsh weather. Recently added to the radar was Sand Point, ID which we drove through and liked the area. Plans were to be made in the future to have a closer look around. We have always loved Leavenworth and even looked around at properties which we found reasonable, but what turned the tide was the yearly summer fire season that could or could not happen. Closer to home, we started looking at Cle Elum, Ronald, and Roslyn. The area was beautiful, just over the pass, and prices were just what we were looking for, a great place to continue to explore!

Then in October we hooked up the trailer and headed up to the Port Angeles and Sequim area on the Olympic Peninsula nestled between the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Port Angeles is an old working port/lumber town that is a bit gritty but with fantastic future potential. Sequim has become a magnet town for retirees with its more sunny disposition, being protected by the Olympic Mountain rain shadow. Something started clicking with the area the more we started looking around. We looked all over the area even taking a drive over to Port Townsend. We have always loved that place with its Victorian character, but as we started scoping homes, we were shocked at the prices. It seems the place has been “discovered” unfortunately!

As we continued to explore the surrounding area and looking at homes, we started narrowing the target to the hills between the two towns. Then we stumbled upon the house pictured below and a warm fuzzy feeling happened between the two of us. The first time we saw the place, we were driving around with a Zillow ap open on one phone and Trulia on the other. We like to explore on our own. We drove the cul-de-sac, took some photos, parked in the drive and since it was empty, looked around. One of the neighbors across the street noticed us perusing the property and came over cheerfully asking if we had any questions, she would help! Before long, another couple drove up and joined the conversation. Wow, we had just met two neighbors and liked them both!! Things were looking good. We contacted the listing agent and got an inside look and realized, THIS WAS IT!!!!!! After multiple offers and counters back and forth, the house was ours, well at least was in the works to be ours and now our search is over.

What happens next? Well……..lots! As of this writing, the loan is being closed and we are awaiting one final step, the appraisal. If all goes as planned, we should receive our keys to our retirement home just before Christmas! We will list our Snoqualmie home after the holidays in mid January. This will give us time to get the purchase closed, get ready for selling and also enjoy the holidays. Are we moving from Snoqualmie??? The answer is no! There still lies the ugly fact that both of us have to continue to work. Debbie is on a path to retire in just over two years. At that time we will just have to crunch numbers and see what happens with me, more in another upcoming post! It shall be an interesting time ahead!!!

Out With The Old

The year of 2016 is a year of change at the Givens Estate! We have lived here in Snoqualmie and basically not much has changed since we got here! Same old, same old! We brought down a bunch of stuff from the San Juan cabin and furnished one of the bedrooms with some of that furniture. We also bought a new sectional for the family room and also incorporated some cabin tables into the final result! Boy did it change the look of the room, photos below:

The New

The New

We also finally got a nice patio furniture to make the backyard more enjoyable. Very nice to light up a fire without smoking out our upstairs or our neighbors homes.

And finally, after 14 years of very reliable service and just over 225,000 miles, it was time to let go of the old Mercedes ML320! While it was still in great shape, things were starting to go: ABS pump had just gone out, timing chain was rattling, the head was slightly warped, and it had developed a very slow rear engine seal leak. Just too many miles on it to start pumping money into it! We just happened to wander into our local Mercedes dealer and stumbled on this 2014 C300 with only 7,000 miles on it and was a screaming deal! We couldn’t resist and drove her home! Our old reliable found a new home via a donation to Habitat For Humanity Cars For Homes! It was sad to see her go, but it was time. Now we cross our fingers that the Toyota Avalon with 222K on it holds up for a while longer, because we just don’t want two car payments at this time!

oldmerc2

Bye Bye Old Friend

Big Changes At The Estate

Another View

The Entry View

 

Well after enjoying our little cabin aka “Givens Grove” for four years, it is time to move on! We have sold our little getaway in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We had many great times there and created wonderful memories with our friends who live up there and for the ones that made a visit. Our retirement plans have morphed into something different and it just wasn’t going to happen there. One of the reasons is being reliant on a ferry schedule that in some times of the year, isn’t too forgiving. I am sure if we had planted ourselves there full time we would have made the adjustment. Another reason….Island politics and attitudes……..didn’t mesh with ours, simple as that! Fun times and no regrets and now our search for our retirement location begins! Stay tuned!

New Year Catch Up

I guess I better write an update with the goings on in the Givens’ household. I am so used to posting on Facebook and Twitter, that I sometimes forget about the blog here. If you aren’t on Facebook or Twitter and are not following us there, you are missing quite a bit. It is 2016, get with the program! I am also assuming that you even care, how narcissistic of me!

Let’s see, where to begin, one of the things I forget to mention in earlier posts was my bout with shingles back in the summer! Wow that was painful and in encompassed the whole right side of my scalp and in the heat of the summer too! It sidelined me for three weeks and I hid in the house from the sun and heat as best I could. My hiatal hernia surgery in 2014 didn’t hurt as bad!!! A miserable ordeal it was, and I still have phantom itching on my scalp at times. I will definitely be getting a shingles shot when my doctor says it is okay!

My Aching Neck!

My Aching Neck!

The rest of the summer saw us taking a few camping trips locally in our trailer so we could scout out real estate and possible retirement locations that we could settle our work weary asses down. This brings up the next item of interest, we have put up our San Juan Island house aka Givens Grove up for sale. We have shifted gears on living there full-time and are going to decide on other places. Getting to and from an island is too much of a headache and the politics there suck! We still have a couple of years before Debbie can retire and as for me at that point, we will have to see where we stand financially! The one decision we have made is to get out of King County and the Seattle area. It has become too crowded and too expensive to enjoy life here in retirement…….period!

In October we went down to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary once again to volunteer with the animals. We fed pigs, groomed horses, and walked dogs. One dog really tugged at my heart and almost brought her home but resisted the temptation, barely! We just aren’t ready for two dogs in the house. Debbie wants another one badly so Cordell can teach it how to behave……ummm…….yeah! It is always such a spiritual reconnection when we visit there!

Joe's New Friend

Joe’s New Friend

Debbie and her Piggy Friends

Debbie and her Piggy Friends

After our stint there, we drove down to the Phoenix area to visit our friends the McEvoy’s who were joined by our other friends the Kelly’s! These are our trailer buddies if you didn’t already know! We visited Superstition Mountain and went over to Tortilla Flats for lunch. Another day we took in the sights of Sedona. Deb loved it there……. a possible retirement spot?!?! I love Arizona too, but don’t want to be in the heat, maybe Flagstaff is more to my liking, we are going back in March to have a look around!

The Six Finger Drunkards

The Six Finger Drunkards

The six of us were then to head to Las Vegas where we had a timeshare booked, but poor Patty Belle was sick which turned out to be pneumonia so it was just us and the Kelly’s. She is fine now! We drove up, stopping by the Hoover Dam to take a walk and have a look and be tourists! The water was very low and if it gets any lower, it won’t be enough to turn the turbines for the electricity Las Vegas needs to stay lit up! We had a great time with Rich and Pam and did lots of walking on the Strip! We saw Cirque du Soleil O and what a show, unbelievable!! We spent Halloween night walking Fremont Street and that was a show in itself……wild!!! It was a great time like always with old friends like these!

Debbie Photobombing!

Debbie Photobombing!

Vegas

Debbie and Pam Hitting The Slots!

Speaking of old friends, in early December, we hooked up with a very old friend of mine I used to work with in my restaurant sales life, Jeff Simon and wife Jamie! We met in Oakland for the Packer/Raider game. Since we were staying in Oakland near the airport and stadium, we took the BART into San Francisco on the Saturday and spent the afternoon walking around, hitting local watering holes and having dinner at John’s Grill. For the most part, Jeff and I spent a lot of time catching up since we hadn’t seen each other in years! Debbie and Jamie also get along just great too! The game was awesome and the Packers got a win and the Raider Fans were pretty cool too! It was a fun trip and look forward to hanging with them again!

Joe And Jeff

Joe and Jeff surrounded by Raider Gear!

Shots

The Boys Doing Shots!

Dinner

Dinner At John’s Grill

And there you have it, a catch up with the Givens’! A new year has begun and new adventures to have and let’s hope that we all stay happy and healthy and have a wonderful 2016!! Let the show begin!!!

In Recovery Mode

Awhile ago in an earlier post, I briefly mentioned under going testing to get my hiatal hernia examined for potential surgery. I have had GERD and acid reflux my whole life and it was mainly caused by this sliding hiatal hernia. Years of stomach acid bubbling up into my esophagus has turned into me also having Barrett’s Esophagus! I have been controlling this with medications, but learning about the long-term effects of such medications, we decided to get this fixed. So after a few consults with my doctor, on April 14th I had surgery, my first in my 54 years on this spinning planet. There are two common procedures in fixing hiatal hernias and I had a combination of the two, called The Hill-Nissen Hybrid Repair which is a fairly new procedure developed to reduce the failure rate of each of the procedures done individually. I had it done at our brand new high tech hospital just a few mile away, Swedish Hospital Issaquah by my highly competent and respected physician, Dr. Ralph Aye. It was done laparoscopic with five small incisions into my abdomen. The pain wasn’t too bad, but the medication in the pain pump gave me a horrendous headache, so I had to take something less effective orally in a liquid form……bummer! I was up walking a few hours after surgery and did quite well. The biggest problem after a surgery like this is the inability to get anything into the stomach through the repair area as it is very tight and inflamed. Getting anything in liquid form was very hard and I had to do it very slowly. This also caused me to stay an extra night in the hospital until I was able to start getting fluids and nutrition.
I am home now and the recovery begins. It will take 4-6 weeks to get back to work, which boredom may set in, it is very nice to have the time off!! I am on a full fluids diet for the first two weeks…..jello, pudding, broth, juices, thin smoothies and I am dropping weight like crazy and every other commercial on TV seems to be related to food in some way! The only exercise I am getting is just some short walks in the neighborhood and fatigue is easily achieved. I’ll go back for a follow up appointment on the 28th and may be able to start eating more foods, yaaaaaa! It will 6 weeks and beyond before I will return to a “normal” diet, but I have a feeling I will be seeing a new normal from now on. We’ll see how much weight I will lose and will I be able to keep it off. Below is a video I took after coming home which is kind of funny! My voice was screwed up from the surgery and Debbie thought it was funny. Apparently, so did I. Don’t worry Swedish, I was just kidding about suing!

 

 

 

 

A Challenging New Year

Well 2014 hasn’t started very well for us in the Givens household! Granted, everyone in the Seattle area were partying with the Seahawks winning their first ever Super Bowl and that was a helluva party and something to cheer for!! And except for a couple of bumps in the road, thing are still going good for us. Now for those bumps! Back in August I did something to my right heel which created a knot on the inside of where the Achilles tendon inserts itself in to the heel bone. Deb and I went on an easy three-mile, level trail run and I felt fine. No holes or rocks were hit and no trauma was experienced. I had been breaking in some new Brooks Adrenaline shoes and they just never felt right! When we were through, my foot felt fine, but the next day I noted some soreness in my heel. I gave it a day or two then tried another run, and barely got out of the neighborhood and had to turn back. Haven’t run since!!! I kept it quiet for a while and finally gave into going to physical therapy! They worked on it for over a month and it wasn’t getting any better, so I resorted to seeing my foot and ankle sports medicine guy. We have worked on it with anti inflammatory, ice, and six weeks in the below walking boot! I remained working, but I did have to remove the boot while I drove the bus! It was a pain, but after a while, I was used to the boot and it actually felt good when I had it on. There has been improvement and I am back in physical therapy to strengthen the tendons and try to get back to normal. I am just trying to avoid surgery, because it will be major and I will be out of commission for three months!

IMG_20131211_150801

My Walking Boot

Speaking of surgery, our poor little boy Cordell had to have some to remove a small tumor discovered during his last physical. We were very worried about our little guy and luckily the test results came back benign. He is on the mend and has almost fully recovered, although he still has a hairless patch on his side. He was a real trooper through the whole thing!

IMG_20140131_170135

Poor Cordell has an oowie!

Now while all this was going on and we didn’t have enough to worry about, the scumbag in the photos below hacked our debit card account and ripped off almost $10,000 out of our bank account!! We presume he somehow phished our information by a fake reader or something because we still had possession of the card. Since the debit card was linked to all of our accounts, he took from savings, checking, and also a personal line of credit. What a hassle it was getting it all sorted out and changing bank account numbers and re establishing bill pays and etc. We are no longer going to use a debit card in such a manner for the future. We opened a local account that we will transfer a limited amount of money into and use it. Below are photos captured from multiple ATM’s he was using and while they are not the best, if you see or know this piece of shit scumbag, contact police. He used ATM’s at only Seven Elevens in the following places: Bellevue, Factoria, Kent on Meeker Street, Seattle on Denny Way, Woodinville, Crossroads, and once in Marysville.

Finally as things have slowly returned to normal I am going through tests to possibly get surgery to fix my GERD I have lived with for years! I had multiple tests done which included a manometry, endoscopy, and a Bravo pH study done. I go back shortly to have a consult on where to go from here! Wish me luck, I will need it!

%d bloggers like this: