Monday, December 31, 2012

One And Only 2012 Blog

Yes, this is one of those, "Wow, where did the year go?" kind of posts I am desperately patching together on the.very.last day of the year.

2011 saw us PCS from Guam back to California.  PCS = Permanent Change of Station, which, considering we have been moved 10 times in 10 years, makes the "Permanent" bit rather debatable.

Our zoo visit with Victoria, from Embassy Suites
We spent 6 months house-hunting from our temporary home at the Embassy Suites, in Walnut Creek, where we made firm friends with the delightful hotel concierge, Victoria, and the breakfast waiter, Geronimo, who learned Jana's weakness for fresh blueberries and exploited it for smiles and squeals every morning.  Victoria has become Kai and Jana's stand-in Grandma, and we enjoyed a visit to the Oakland zoo with her and her daughter and Grandson, Zander, recently.

At the beginning of our house-hunt, I told Kai and Jana to be patient; we would look at 100 houses and pick the very best one to buy.  Our agent, Tom, heard this and laughed.  He thought it was a joke.  Tom didn't know me then.  He sure does now! One hundred houses later, including several offers along the way that fell through for one reason or another, we found "the one", and went through a hairy-scary on-again, off-again, nail-biting closing process that left us all weak at the knees and with more gray hairs than we started with. 

The house perched precariously on the hillside,
like a displaced crab-shack
The home is "unique" (no-one else would be crazy enough to build one like it), "has so much hidden potential" (hidden so deeply, it can't be seen), and is on a "near-acre of sought-after westside Danville" (that's an acre of heart-pounding crazy-steep hillside, with the house perched precariously half-way up).  On my first visit, I was relieved that Tom was driving.  The driveway was a nightmare!  The house at the top looked like a crab-shack, and I thought "no way!" Having come up the slippery- steep, hairpin-turn-at-the-top driveway, though, it seemed like I might as well celebrate my survival by at least touring the crazy house.  One doesn't climb Mount Everest and then not peek over the edge at the view, at least.

Entering, we saw immediately that the floor-plan was ridiculous; kids' rooms at the entry, and the kitchen, living and master bedrooms at the top.  Who ever goes UPSTAIRS to their kitchen and living areas? The floor-plan was completely upside-down!  There was a back deck, and a hillside slope with lots and lots of mesh wire holding back the crumbling soil and rock where someone had at some time cut into the hillside to do some sort of landscaping, then changed their mind, and walked away.  Earth crumbled and fell through the mesh, and it had "big bucks required" written all over it.  (My intuition was spot-on; we later got an estimate of $24,000, to retain just 1/4 of it).  However, the view was AMAZING.

Spectacular sunset views of Mt Diablo from the dining room and deck.

Agent Tom and I stood at the back of the home, staring with incredulity at the crumbling hillside and strange house, lamenting the oddity of the home in such a high-value area, with beautiful houses and a sprinkling of mansions all around, when the sun broke through the limbs of the overhanging oaks, the song-birds struck up a chorus, and we heard.... nothing else.  No cars, no freeway, no white noise.  Just a whisper of wind rustling leaves and songbirds enjoying their peaceful surroundings.  Looking up into oaks that were even older than me, I noticed birdhouses and even the huge nest of a great eagle or hawk that had made its home here in this park-like hillside.  Squirrels scampered here and there, and a trail along the edge of the hill showed deer-prints trampling a well-trodden path through the property.  Beyond, Mount Diablo rose on one side, and the Las Trampas regional park rose on the other.  Cows could be seen on a field nearby, and I was struck with the feeling of being in the country, far from everything both urban and suburban, whereas in fact we were under a mile from quaint Danville downtown, with its cafe's, restaurants, art and vintage stores, and old-world charm.  

Move-in Day. 
The moving company had to rent small
U-haul trucks to get up the crazy-steep driveway,
 the top 1/4 of which can be seen here.

So, in the end, it was the mountain view,the birds, the deer, and the squirrels that made me do it.  They saw me, a sucker for a furry or feathered creature, and turned on all their charm to get someone into the home that would maintain their birdhouses in the trees, throw vegetable scraps onto the trails, and send the kids up with buckets of fresh water for them in the annual droughts of east-bay summers.  On Jan 1st the regulations on our loan-type changed, and so we HAD to close sale on a home by Dec 31st, or lose our mortgage opportunity.  I fought tooth and claw for the crazy upside-down hillside home with the adrenalin-pumping driveway, and with 3 days to spare, we closed the sale on Dec 28th, 2011.  Tom almost had a stroke, but the commission should buy a few boxes of dye to turn back all the grey hairs he must have sprouted as we went back and forth trough the most gnarly closing he can ever remember. 

Every mover needs a hot-pink boa, of course

With 2011 drawing to a close, and the dawn of 2012 before us, we became home-owners, and Danville's newest residents. 
Our move-in helpers, Jana in her Boa, & Kai in his Mario hat

The highlight of our home is not our home at all, it is the beautiful deck view of Mt Diablo, seen here in the cloud-layer

Blue bird meets angry bird. 
Feeders and bird houses keep us entertained.
One year later, as we prepare to ring in 2013 at midnight, we remember the excited screams of amazement and delight from our children when they discovered that our closest neighbors, who share an almost-as-crazy driveway with us, have two children the exact same ages as Kai and Jana.  Our kids have spent half the year running in one direction to their house, and the other half of the year running in the other direction back to our house, playmates in tow.

We have enjoyed the wonderful and privileged school that Kai and Jana love to head off to each day, the downtown Danville parades, fairs, restaurants, and cafes that are just a two minute drive, yet feel a world away, and our peaceful, quirky, crab-shack house perched on this gorgeous hillside at the base of Las Trampas and Mount Diablo that we are blessed to call "home". 

Now, if I could only get to the bottom of the last dozen moving boxes...

1 comment:

Melissa said...

The photo of your driveway does not come close to doing it justice!!! HAHA! you should post a picture of a vehicle parked in the middle of it where it feels like it is going straight up or straight down - hahaha! But I do LOVE your view!!!!