Obscene Sizes!

We bought our house in Texas in one weekend when real estate inventory was limited. Steve’s promotion had been finalized and he was already commuting from Scottsdale to Dallas and our house in Scottsdale was in escrow so we needed to buy a house and buy it fast. I know what you are thinking, you should have rented first until you knew what was what! Yeah, but there were size-able financial motivations that made buying the smart thing to do.

Two weeks before I flew to Dallas to house hunt with Steve and our realtor, she sent me everything that was available in the area that would make sense for us. Over email, I immediately nixed anything over 5000 sq. ft. I mean, c’mon, it’s just two people and two golden retrievers! People aren’t joking when they say everything in Texas is huge. Everything is. Especially houses. So once I nixed, our fifteen choices fell to about five, maybe six. The house we chose is a 4800 sq. ft. house with 4 bedrooms, a huge media room, an office and 6 bathrooms. Six bathrooms?? It just doesn’t make sense. I do not GET Dallas.

Even in a city you know well there will always be unknowns when you buy a house. You have no way of knowing how noisy the neighbors are or if you will hear sirens at night. You will not know if there is a dog nearby who howls and barks at various times during the week. If you are looking at houses on weekends you have no way of knowing how much traffic is on your street or nearby streets and whether you will hear it on weekdays.

I think of the people who bought my gorgeous Scottsdale house right on the edge of the desert who would have no idea of the tremendous problem with bees gathering water from the pool when it’s hot to cool down their hives. (And, it’s hot A LOT in Scottsdale!) You cannot find a hive to destroy when there are 10 acres of desert in your backyard and you cannot go into your pool when there are swarms of African bees there. We said “yes” about “critters” in the seller’s disclosure but it didn’t ask for specifics.

Now, when you don’t know a city at all, especially when you are in a rush to buy, there are things you simply don’t even think of. It never occurred to me when we were looking at this house that my only access to my garage was a gross, sloppy alley. (See one of my first ever posts “These Darn Alleys”) We bought a new build and many new builds have front access to the garages but our lot wasn’t big enough for the builder to do that and I didn’t even notice.

We also had no idea that we would be living in a constant construction zone since older houses sell, builders snap them up, demolish them and build new. (We live in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Dallas…constant construction is just what it is to live here and everyone except me is used to it and lives peacefully with it!!)  We didn’t know Dallas is gloomy a lot and we chose a house, which is NOT the lightest, brightest house. I wake up every morning and turn on every, single light in the house, which annoyed my friend Richard to no end when he was here. He kept turning them off and I kept turning them back on. I told him it was cheaper than therapy.

Finally, how could we have known about an utterly obnoxious and decrepit 45-year old ice cream truck that roams the neighborhood playing eerie, distorted melodies every afternoon and gives me the total creeps.

Anyway, we got a smokin’ hot deal on this house probably because it is not light and bright and the market was slow when we bought. We’ve put it up for sale and we’ll make money on it.  Today, we made an offer on a house way farther North that backs to a golf course and has amazing, peaceful views. I am so excited!!

The Crap in Back

There is not one mosquito in all of Arizona. They can’t live there because there is no such thing as their beloved standing water. Any water gets quickly sucked into the roots of trees and cacti or into the scorched earth. When I moved to Texas after thirteen years in Arizona, I had forgotten mosquitos even existed.

Almost all the homes in Preston Hollow where I live back to an alley. These are old neighborhoods and the minute an ancient house goes up for sale, it’s swooped up by a builder, torn down and a new, impossibly gigantic home is built in its place. As a result, even the nicest neighborhoods are mixed with small, old homes and huge new ones. Most of the homes are beautifully maintained in the front yards and then there are the alleys. The alleys look like slums. They are overgrown with poison ivy and other sinister foliage, the pavement, if your alley even has it, is uneven and chopped up giving way to dirt or mud and there are bits and pieces of trash which escape from the decrepit garbage cans on Monday mornings when the trash trucks come blasting through. It’s such a juxtaposition to the front side of the neighborhoods that when my mom was here, and I pulled my car out of the garage into the alley, she said, “What!? The alleys don’t count?” No, mom, apparently they don’t. All the people of Dallas are in some kind of collective denial about the alleys.

This is the front of my house.

This is the alley. Note the look on Steve’s face.

The second day I lived here I was desperate to feel some sense of control so I went out to clean up my little area of alley. I weed whacked some overgrown vegetation, hosed some mud and dirt to the neighbor’s little area of alley and used all my might to overturn my trashcan that was filled with standing water. Then, I was promptly swarmed by hundreds of breeding mosquitos and before I could run to the house, got bit eighteen times. The next day, I was driving down the street, Calamine lotion covering a third of my body and saw a sign that said, “Attention! Public spraying for West Nile Virus begins this weekend!” Welcome to Texas.