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14 years retired, still going strong!
Old 02-11-2022, 06:59 PM   #1
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14 years retired, still going strong!

Well, Im still alive and kicking after 14 years of retirement.

Im Michelle Paquette, and used to be fairly active here until I had to take a break from online life to deal with personal issues. Since then, life has been interesting.

Ive relocated twice, gone through a divorce, remarried, and changed states. You know, all the stuff thats supposed to be bad for a portfolio. Whod have thunk that a diversified portfolio could be tapped for 4% a year and last so long.

Im actually withdrawing just under 3% now, in spite of splitting the portfolio down the middle for the divorce, per California law. No fuss there, just a mutually agreed split from changing life circumstances. I did manage to lose money on a condo purchase in California, not an easy thing to do. I still came out OK, and found myself with an as-is estate sale home in Oregon. Fortunately I am still fairly handy.

And I still remember to not set the alarm clock!
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Old 02-11-2022, 07:19 PM   #2
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Welcome back. I'll hit 15 years at the end of February. And I ended up in the PNW, too.
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Old 02-11-2022, 08:38 PM   #3
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Welcome back, it has been 12 years for me, and what a rush! Previously, I had lost my wife, but as fate would have it, I found a wonderful lady who was also widowed. She loved to travel, and I took her on trips all over the world, except Asia.
We look forward to many years more together, Lord willing.
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Old 02-12-2022, 11:01 AM   #4
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Welcome back from another PNW retiree.
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Old 02-12-2022, 11:08 AM   #5
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Welcome back! California divorce for me too and it took quite while to recover losing TWO California houses too early and a bunch of bad stuff that happened after the split.

I had to "start over" in Texas at age 50 supporting both teenage daughters and I was lucky to find a nice lady with $50 more than I had (which was $0) and we made a go of it.
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Old 02-12-2022, 11:34 AM   #6
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We can all hope we retire with the market you have had over the last 14 yrs.
Looks like there were a couple bad years, 2007 to 2009, but even so the S&P is up over 300%. Congrates and welcome back.
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Old 02-12-2022, 11:49 AM   #7
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I'm so happy to see you back, Michelle. Sounds like things are going well now, and I hope that continues for you.
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Old 02-12-2022, 11:52 AM   #8
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Nice to see you back and doing well after a few bumps in the road of life.
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Old 02-12-2022, 11:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M Paquette View Post
I did manage to lose money on a condo purchase in California, not an easy thing to do.
Yes, welcome back!
Don't beat yourself up over that; I know several people who did the same, going back to the early 80s. Something about real estate cycles...

But life goes on, and it's good to see that you're still an active participant in it.
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Old 02-12-2022, 12:03 PM   #10
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Welcome back
Weve been rving on the road retired for 22 years. Congratulations on finding a place and partner. Im always wondering if Ill see a place wed want to live just over the next hill. Will try a summer in Alaska next.
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Old 02-12-2022, 12:25 PM   #11
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Welcome back Michelle.
Nice to see you found love again.
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Old 02-12-2022, 12:45 PM   #12
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Welcome back, retired March 08, doing fine financially, had some medical issues. Had a great job as best I can remember but retirement is better. Still in SOCAL.
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Old 02-12-2022, 02:56 PM   #13
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Welcome back! Sounds like you survived a couple of retirement hiccups quite well. Hope that life continues to go well for you. And stop in and say hello from time to time.
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Old 02-12-2022, 03:22 PM   #14
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Welcome back and glad to hear that overall things have ended up well for you.
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Old 02-12-2022, 06:44 PM   #15
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Welcome back, Michelle! You were missed. At least, I thought about you now and then and hoped for the best for you. I'm sure others did too.

After all you've been through, life must seem pretty relaxing by now. Glad to hear that you got through all that so well and that your retirement funding even survived! Pretty cool.
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Old 02-15-2022, 09:52 PM   #16
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Thank you, everyone! It’s been an adventure, but the chaos and medical issues are in my past, and life is better now. The big change for me is the move north.

Laurie and I decided that a single-family home was best for us. Laurie’s sister lives with us, and we had to make sure that any place we chose had to accommodate her needs, which included single-floor living for her and the space and power needed for a rather large oxygen concentrator and backup bottles.

We originally were looking at single-floor home plans, but they were either pretty expensive or very far from needed facilities. I was insisting on a home with grocery shopping in walking range, medical facilities and hospitals not too distant, and preferably other shopping and services nearby. There was one neighborhood that Laurie called Middle-Earth, because many of the street names were places in Tolkien’s classic books. We hoped to find something there.

A single-story place that was almost perfect came on the market, and we bid on it, offering full list. Nope. We were outbid by a huge margin, and the place went for about 20% over market! That was disappointing. We kept looking, checking out other neighborhoods.

About a month later, another place came on the market in Middle-Earth, and we checked it out. The place was being sold as-is, an estate sale, and was one of those two-story places with bedrooms and full bath upstairs, living, dining, kitchen and family room downstairs. On the east end of the house there was a family room at the back, a laundry room next to a half-bath, and on the front a den/office with double doors just off the entry. Stairs were also just off the entry and the previous owner had a chair lift installed.

Out comes the tape measure. If we closed off the existing bath entry from the family room, opened the bath onto the den, and extended the bath rear wall into the laundry rooom we could have a downstairs bedroom and a full bath with walk-in shower and some disability accommodations. Knowing this, we put in a bid for the home at the very reasonable asking price, which would leave us with enough in our budget to do the needed renovations. Two days later the bid was accepted, and in late July 2020 we became the proud owners of a fixer-upper in Middle Earth.

The home was built in 1978, and the interior was completely original but in excellent condition. It has a high-end 1978 kitchen, with a Jenn-aire grill, built-in 1978 vintage oven (ain’t NOTHING digital!), cabinets and countertop. It also had a low water flow problem we would want to correct before moving in. Next steps would be to line up a contractor to rebuild that downstairs bath and laundry room so we could use the den space as a bedroom suite for Laurie’s sister.

We worked with a few contractors until we found one that had the same mindset as we did, the skills on hand to do all the work, and the willingness to see the project through. We would live in Laurie’s apartment which still had several months on the lease while the contractor essentially had the run of the house.

Our contractor had a plumber in for the bathroom work, who we asked to look at our low water flow problem. Throughout the entire house, we had a water flow problem. With no flow, the pressure was quite high, 80 PSI, but when any tap was opened the pressure dropped to something like 15-20 PSI, and the flow was maybe 2 gallons per minute. Running the kitchen faucet while someone was in the shower upstairs pretty much turned the shower into a dribble. This wasn’t really a livable situation yet.

We knew that the shutoff gate valve just outside the house didn’t fully close, and there was a fair chance that it had failed to fully open as well. The plumber replaced that, which let us finish the interior plumbing work with the water fully shut off. It didn’t improve the flow problem, though.

The plumber had mentioned that many homes had pressure regulator “bell valves” on the water line, often buried. If one of these had failed, essentially stuck slightly open, it could cause this problem. We started a hunt for the valve. It would be either by the shutoff at the house, or by the meter at the street. After a good bit of digging we found it at the meter, about 18” down, buried in the dirt, in the midst of a zig-zag of PVC pipe.

We had that replaced, but again, there was no improvement. By then the contractor was done with the remodel, so we thanked and paid him. Laurie decided to excavate the line herself to see if we could find some clue as to the problem. As she dug out from the house, she found the copper pipe transition to old PVC plastic line about 5’ out. Additional digging uncovered a 90 degree bend straight down, and about 3 feet down, another elbow and the line headed more or less toward the meter. With the mess of pipe elbows at the street, we had a pretty twisty water line, although not enough to explain the whole low flow problem. With another 30 feet of three foot trench to dig, we thought it was time to call in the pros.

Cornel’s Plumbing agreed to come out and take a look. Alex, the plumber, suggested starting at the meter, opening up the line and checking the flow capacity, and then moving to the house and checking other points until the area with the restriction was found. He rigged a fitting onto the end of the meter, attaching a 50 foot hose. Opening up the meter valve, we had well over 10 gallons per minute out of the hose. Now we knew the problem was on our side of the meter, and not on the city side.

We knew at this point that the flow was poor at the connection to the house, and Alex the plumber had an idea. He took the other end of the hose up to the house, and screwed it onto the hose bib just past the house shutoff valve. Opening the hose valve and street shutoff valve, we had great water flow in the house’s plumbing. He said this lash up with the hose was how they normally supplied water while running a new water line in, but this was only the second time he had seen a home water line blocked in 7 years as a journeyman plumber. The hose lash up told us the water line from the street to the house was where the clog was.

The cost to dig up the old PVC line and find where it was plugged would be high, labor intensive as hand digging was needed to avoid destroying the pipe. It would be much cheaper to put in a new line, better materials, using modern boring technology. We concurred, and he gave us a quote that was much lower than I had expected from doing a little shopping around. So, we bought the replacement installation project.

The crew showed up on time, and went to work. They dove into the crawl space through the hatch in our pantry, scoped out what they needed to do, and started prep. The driller showed up around 11 AM, and set up by the water meter at the street. They started drilling into the gentle slope there, at about the depth of the water line, aiming to miss the other utility lines and tunnel under the house. The plan was to surface the drill head near the pantry crawl space hatch, and install the house shutoff and reducer there, rather than in a vault outside. This would be both more convenient, and avoid any possible frozen pipe issues in the winter. One worker walked along with a special instrument that read out the drill head position, and called out steering instructions to the drill operator. They ran the line over 3 feet deep, past the perimeter foundation, and hit their target. The plumbing crew attached a long length of extremely heavy-duty modern PEX line, and a grounding wire (per code), and this was pulled back through with the drill head. By noon the drill crew was packing up and leaving, and by 2 PM we had a completed new water line in service.

We were ready to move in. With some assistance from a medical supplier, we set up everything for Laurie’s sister, and got her room ready. We would be sleeping in the guest room with my furniture until we got Laurie’s stuff moved from her apartment. We spent a few weeks shifting accommodations, moving boxes and such, and settling in. We thought we had everything in great shape, what with the new roof, new floors, plumbing overhauled, lights working, and a new washer and dryer on the way. We would have a great Christmas in our new home.

Woman plans, Goddess laughs...

The 42 year old Jen-Aire cooktop had other plans. The grill and one burner control failed, and I had the choice of repair or replace in front of me. Replace? There are two downdraft 30” cooktops on the market, and both needed 40 Amp service. We had 30 Amp service installed, which meant that we would have to pull a larger line and install larger breakers. But, the power panel was a Federal Electric, which has it’s own issues. Local code would require us to replace the entire panel. The cost of replacing the cooktop was going to be well over $5,000, which wasn’t in the budget.

So, repair. Naturally, the original parts were discontinued about 35 years ago, but there was a suggested replacement. DIscontinued about 20 years ago... The parts are something called an “infinite switch”, the heat regulator for an electric range element. There are so-called “universal” replacements, but they didn’t consider the “unique” wiring of this old cooktop. The cooktop circuitry assumed that the switch internals worked in a certain way, which no modern switch actually does any more, for good reasons. They used their assumption to power up the vent fan whenever the grill was on, bypassing the fan switch. The new switches were wired differently, and resulted in the fan power momentarily being interrupted every few seconds while the grill was on. Even better, if the fan were switched on directly the grill ran at full power, with no temperature control!

Chasing down the internal design of the switches and the wiring of the grill I determined that I needed to disconnect one wire between the fan and the grill proper, and replace the fan switch with a proper double-pole single throw switch, along with the previous replacement of the “infinite switches.” It’s all working now, and the cooktop now largely uses standard parts I can get off the shelf. The fixed cost about $110. While Christmas dinner was cooked entirely in the oven, for New Years Eve we had our cooktop and grill, suitable for some T-bone steaks. Yay!

For 2021, we continued the yard work, and came up with new projects for ourselves. There was an attic space over the garage, an empty space with a large usable area, solid subfloor installed, and a door that opened into one of the upstairs bedrooms that we used as a den. This had been used as a huge (2 car garage sized) storage space. Big drawbacks were the single 40 watt lightbulb, and the completely uninsulated nature of the space. Oh, but it had possibilities…

With our home nice and livable already, we could play around with a few changes. I decided to push ahead and turn the uninsulated storage space into an insulated one, finished as a room and more suitable for.. storage. Yeah, storage, that’s they ticket! It obviously couldn’t be classified as a habitable space as the ceiling when finished would be two inches lower than code for habitable spaces. Might make a dandy storage space and workshop, though.

I added soffit vents, an upper exhaust plenum, and cold-roof ventilation chutes between the rafters. R-21 insulation went between the chutes and the room. A shiplap sloping ceiling was installed, along with short walls as part of the wind handling requirements for the roof. Wiring was run into the walls, a new 20 amp outlet circuit should I want to plug something in. Wallboard went on the ends and short walls, with access hatches into the eave spaces. Skylight-style LED panels went along the uppermost part of the ceiling on a 16 inch wide horizontal piece, at the 7 foot ‘peak’ of the ceiling. This looks a lot like a Cape Code style upstairs room, and I trimmed and painted it as such. A moderately light oak laminate floor and pad went over the subfloor.

Now I’m building a pair of built-in desks that will sit along the sides where the shiplap ceiling slopes down to that short wall. One of the desk areas already has the antenna lines for my amateur radio equipment installed and ready, and the othe desk area has all the home networking and router connections at it, ready for Laurie to play with.

We should be able to store our hobby equipment very comfortably in this space.

And people wonder what a retiree would possibly do all day…
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Old 02-16-2022, 05:59 AM   #17
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I too am a chronic builder @ 13 years ER, and I am in the process of rebuilding a shower I built 40 years ago and installing new porcelain tile in the other bathroom. I just installed new interior doors--an easy project.

Some of us need to finish our current jobs and hire out future projects--since we have the funds to do it. My days are spent hauling our granddaughter to school and taking my wife to doctors' appointments in 3 cities an hour apart.

I wish you well, as you are doing good taking care of someone with disabilities.
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