Thanksgiving with the Fam

“Did you know that Jennifer is driving to the North Pole?”

A look combining fear and sadness contorts my father’s face, “Oh no…”  trailing off, he looks as if he’s just been told I was diagnosed with a terrible illness.

“I’m not driving to the North Pole, Mom, I’m driving to the Arctic Circle.”

“I don’t think you know what you’re getting into,” my father protests, “You’re not street smart.”

We are celebrating Thanksgiving in what has been not-so-jokingly referred to as The Family Homeless Shelter. Originally purchased as a ‘flip house’ by my youngest brother, Josh, to help my brother Joel weather a professional and financial crisis, the $58,000 foreclosure has turned into an impromptu living and gathering space for the family.

Just don't Joel moved in first. He was quickly followed by my parents, who wanted a temporary residence near their grandchildren. Next was my sister Jeanne, a single parent who recently lost her CEO position for the American operations of a luxury European brand, and who is trying to cut costs as she supports two daughters in private colleges. Last will be my sister Joey, who is moving in to partner with Jeanne on a new business venture.

Stuffed with fine furniture from previous residences, the run down house is now an ironic mix of excess and simplicity.

But over the Thanksgiving holiday, instead of gathering at the nearby McMansions of three of my brothers, we find ourselves each evening drawn to this junky little house. After some discussion, we realize it reminds us all of our childhood home.

“Why are you moving into a motorhome and driving to the Arctic Circle?” my brother Josh asks.

“It is sort an exercise in simplicity for me. I feel like I got too obsessed with my clothes, my house, my materialism. I got really depressed.”

He nods and I am surprised to see that my sentiment might be more shared than shocking.

“You know, we are thinking about doing that too,” my brother interjects. He and his wife live in a 6,000 square foot home and they arrived in an automobile that cost more than the house we were sitting in.

“So you’re moving in the Family Homeless Shelter next?” Joel jokes, “Looks like we need to finish out the garage.”

We laughed. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving and a wonderful visit. I realized what I’d feared might be perceived as my break from reality was actually being heard by sympathetic ears.

So, I’ve returned to Austin and am excited to get back to work.

I heard from my roofer and here are my cost options to remove/replace the existing 3-tab roof:

  • removal only of roof from house and garage: $700
  • removal and install of roof on house: $1,600
  • removal and install of roof on house and garage: $2,400

I’ve decided to go with option two, so will be spending $1,600 on the roof, plus one more day’s worth of work from my brother Joel.

So, an updated expense list:

$700 First payment to Joel
$250 Materials (first trip)
$600 Second payment to Joel
$220 Materials (second trip;updated)
$200 Third payment to Joel (estimate)
$100 Materials (third trip; estimate)
$1,600 roof
$250 landscaping plants
$3,920 Total

After that, remaining tasks will just be clean up and simple aesthetics. Once I am done, I will have my real estate agent come take a look!

On a final note, I’ve decided to try to be a little less obsessed with my blog, so may be updating about five times a week, instead of every day.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Countup: 7 days without wine!

Countdown: 151 days until I move into my RV!

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