Laurel’s Casita

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A lot has happened in the last six weeks!

I had a bon voyage party, I retired from my job at “The Company”, I had another bon voyage party…

I sold my car, Gypsy Blue, to No.5 Bro. Perhaps I should say I gave him Gypsy, because he hasn’t paid me yet. Perhaps I should check my bank account before I say he hasn’t paid me yet…

I got a new computer. Her name is Pinkie Tuscadero. Pinkie is the reason I haven’t been able to get into my blog for so long. Apparently, I didn’t transfer my passwords correctly.

Now I’m living here in Costa Rica. Maybe I should change my blog name to Laurel’s Casita? Would I have to go through the whole password debacle again? No, thanks.

When I moved to Costa Rica on September 1st, I was accompanied by No.1 Sis, two of her adult children, and No.2 Sis.

























We saw some local fauna…



…and some amazing flora, even beyond the tree with the big-ass leaves.



Now everyone else has gone home, and it’s just me and No.1 Sis.

We’re awakened each morning by the gentle sounds of howling monkeys, barking dogs, and whacking weed whackers.

We’re taking on-line Spanish lessons. We walk to Our Little Town (San Luis) most every day, and bus into The Big City (Tilaran) about once a week to practice on the unsuspecting locals (called Ticos). My most often used phrase is “No entiendo” (I don’t understand).

No.1 Sis writes every day, and I paint. At some point, when I produce something that I like, I’ll share it here. I can’t share anything of No.1 Sis’s, because that would be wrong.

I miss my home-girls (can I say that?) and my Bros and Sis’s. I miss my house, my cat, my car. I miss cable t.v.

But I have the internet, I don’t have to work, and I live in a tropical paradise where the most common phrase heard is “Pura vida!” or “good life!”

Pure vida, it certainly is.

Stay tuned…


Whatever Happened To Baby Bella?

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For those of you not familiar with the Twin Cities area, let me clue you in. It’s big.

Although St. Paul is hemmed in by the Mississippi River to the east and Minneapolis to the west, Minneapolis is free to spread unchecked to the north, west and south, and has done so.

No.2 Sis and I live in Cottage Grove, a far southeastern suburb of St. Paul.  Yesterday No.2 had a massage appointment in Woodbury, an eastern suburb, and I booked us for a mani-pedi soon afterward in Brooklyn Park, a far northeastern Minneapolis suburb.

That was a mistake. I thought I was booking the salon in Bloomington, a southern suburb of Minneapolis, because we needed to go to a lamp store there. Oops.

So I met Sis in Woodbury, dropped my car at the massage place, we drove up to the mani-pedi, then down to the lamp store, bought lamp shades, had lunch at a nearby restaurant, and drove home, all before rush hour. We put over 80 miles on the car, and spent about an hour-and-a-half on the road.

Around 8:30 p.m., Sis asked me, “Where’s your car?” Shit. We left Gypsy Blue at the massage place in Woodbury. Sigh. Getting old and forgetful is no picnic.

But that’s not what this post is about. I realized that in all the hubbub of selling the house and preparing to Costa Rica, I didn’t tell you whatever happened to Bella, my crazy cat.

I’m convinced that Bella has post traumatic syndrome disorder. She’s been very, very slow to warm up to anyone, including me. She’s jumpy as hell. She’s hyper-vigilant. What can I say? She’s a mess but I love her.

When I decided to go to Costa Rica, I knew Bella couldn’t come along. Although it’s legal and relatively easy to bring your pets to C.R., I knew it would traumatize my baby too much.

I called Feline Rescue, the organization I had adopted Bella from, and they agreed to put an ad for her on their website. They suggested that I write a bio for her, and send pictures if I had them.

baby bella-1 baby bella-2




















































Did I have pictures? I snort in your general direction.

I’d recently read on Sarah Petruno‘s blog how to release things/people when you’re torn about doing so. She suggested writing a letter to the thing/person, thanking them for all the good things they brought to your life and wishing them the best in the future.

I wrote the letter to Bella and used it for her bio on the Feline Rescue website. Even though I included all of Bella’s personality quirks (PTSD) in the letter and adult cats don’t usually get much interest, three people called about Bella the very first day.

The first to call Feline Rescue were Bill and Mary, a retired couple who had experience with Siamese cats. They came to meet Bella, and they fell in love. I thought it was a great success because, even though B. hissed at them, she actually let Bill and Mary pet her!

I had to get Bella’s teeth fixed and give her some recovery time, so her new parents picked her up a couple of weeks later. I gave them her tower, her brand new litter box, and a box of toys and food. They packed it into their car and waited outside for me to bring Bella Luna out.

I picked up the cat, and carried her to her kennel, which was hidden around a corner. As soon as she saw the kennel she started screeching and fighting to get away from me.

I grabbed her by the scruff of her neck, but my grip wasn’t close enough to her skull. She turned and sunk her teeth deep into my hand. I stuffed her into the kennel and pried her jaws off of my hand.

No.2 Sis was there for moral support, so she took Bella out to the car. I stayed inside and tried to staunch the flow of blood.

It was traumatic for both of us, but I’m sure she’s settled happily into her new home by now.

Baby Bella, Bella Luna, Bubba. I miss you sweet, fuzzy girl.

Stay tuned…






Retiring For La Pura Vida

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The Monday after my house closed, I gave my three week notice at The Company. Friday was my last day. I’m officially retired!

Just before I left, I stopped into my boss’ office to say goodbye. I told him I sent him and others my home e-mail address and said, “If you ever have any work questions, don’t bother…I mean, don’t hesitate…”

That was quite a Freudian slipper.

Then a co-worker caught me just as I was heading to the door. She told me I didn’t actually attach my e-mail address to the message I sent about my e-mail address.

That’s a pair of Freudian slippers.


So what am I going to do now? I’m moving to Costa Rica! When I visited in May with No.1 Sis, No.2 Sis and soul-sister V, No.1 and I found rental properties and decided to make the move.

We’ll each have our own house on the same little street near Lake Arenal, in the northern part of the country.

The unofficial motto of Costa Rica is “La Pura Vida”, the pure (or good) life, and we plan on living by that motto to the max. That means reading, doing art work play and napping for me. Throw in a few cocktails and I think you’ve described La Pura Vida for No.1 Sis, too.

La Pura Vida

During our visit to C.R. in May, the group relied mainly on my smattering of Spanish recalled from high school. Hah, fools!

I’d read that it’s rude in C.R. to just say no. It’s better to say “un otro dia” or “another day”. When a street vendor tried to sell us an unlabeled bottle of amber liquid (liqueur? syrup? hooch?) I politely said to him, “Un otro dios”. The guy laughed and walked away. Then I realized I had told him “another god”.

Crazy Americans.

Stay tuned…



Final, Final Pictures and Final Bag Count

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Nearly a month has passed since my last post. During that time, with the help of the city sisters, I had a huge estate sale and sold most of everything I owned.

I packed up my clothes and toiletries and moved in with No.2 Sis. I now live on a pull-out couch.

I hired movers (Two Men and a Truck– accept no substitutes) and got everything moved from the local storage locker to a locker near No.2 Sis’s house. It’s climate-controlled, and will be much better for my antiques and art work.

Then No.2 Sis and I cleaned our asses off. We left Laurel’s Cottage in superb condition for the new owners.

We closed the sale on July 15th, and it is officially over.

I saved the best pictures for last. The storage room/art studio turned guest room. After TONS of decluttering, cleaning, and painting, No.8 Sis staged it beautifully with mostly borrowed furniture. It came out absolutely gorgeous, especially when you know how it started out.





Sorry about the dark and fuzzy old photos. My photography is improving, yes?

Guest room-1

























Guest room-2




























I’d removed 362 bags, boxes and small pieces of furniture before I decided to sell my house. After that, I got rid of 221 more to prepare for the sale of the house and the estate sale. I didn’t keep count of how much was sold and cleaned out during and after the sale. My final count was 583!

I’m so proud!

Next time I’ll tell you where I’m going from here.

Stay tuned…


Some Final Pictures

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Now that Laurel’s Cottage has been sold, I’m crazy busy getting everything ready to be sold or packed before the new owners take possession on July 15th. Of course, I’m getting tons of help from my sisters. I can always count on my sisters!

Here are some more before and after pictures. The house is so beautiful, I could live here!

Clean living room.

drum vignette






kitchen, clean


No reason to show you the fridge, I guess.





Stay tuned…


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The last month has been crazy busy with getting the house (Laurel’s Cottage) ready to sell.

It went on the market Friday about noon. By Saturday at 4:00 I was whining, “Why is it taking so long to sell?” By Saturday at 6:00, it was sold.

I got my full asking price after 30 hours on the market.

Thanks to my nephews, Jamie and Jake, for moving furniture and hauling away junk.

Thanks to my nephew, Steve, for drilling all the holes for cabinet and drawer hardware (35 knobs).

Thanks to No.3 Bro, for being my realtor (and for apologizing that the house was on the market so long).

Thanks to No.1 Sis, No.2 Sis and No.8 Sis for helping me paint.

No.1 showed up to paint in nice clothes, so I gave her a shirt that fit her like a dress. She took her shirt and pants off and set them aside. No.3 Bro came by to check on our progress so No.1 put her pants back on before I let him in. She and No.3 Bro chatted so long, that No.8 yelled at No.1, “Take your pants off and get back to work”! Bro took that as his cue to leave.

Special big hugs to No.2 for spending every free moment in the last month helping me declutter, and to No.8 Sis for staging the house so beautifully!

My next adventure is a secret to be revealed soon.

Here are some before and after photos highlighting No.8 Sis’ fantastic staging.








queen bath-3

























More pictures and final bag count coming soon!

Stay tuned…

2016 Resolution Update, April

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I finally got Bella into the vet for the rest of her dental work. Last time she came home from the vet’s, she hissed at me for days. This time, she immediately forgave me and settled into my lap, purring. I feel so much more guilty this time! She’s f*cking with my head!


Okay, here’s the update on my 2016 resolution to be fiscally responsible.


  1. CANCEL ALL CREDIT CARDS EXCEPT NEW 0% AND MY BANK VISA. I paid off all my credit cards except the new 0%, but I haven’t cancelled them yet. Must do!
  2. BUILD UP $1200 EMERGENCY  CUSH FUND. I have $1339 in the Cush Fund. I reached my goal! I had to withdraw $275 to pay the accountant, and $86 to pay my state taxes. But I added $300 from an extra paycheck in April, $293 from a medical reimbursement, $200 from my federal tax return, $37 from selling books, and $33 from selling some household items to the thrift store. Woot, woot!
  3. PAY CASH FOR EVERYTHING. (No new charges). I charged the vet bill in May, but I’ll pay it off with the rest of my federal tax return.

Success! I feel so grown up!

I just returned from a trip to Costa Rica (paid for in cash) that I’ll tell you about next time.

Stay tuned…


On My Own, or 362*

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I suddenly realized that my left stride was much shorter than my right stride when I found myself walking down the hall nearly sideways. Must be all the physical labor I’m putting into prepping the house for sale.

A visit to Dr. Bob, the chiropractor, fixed me up. Thank Goddess. If it had gotten any worse, I’d have only been able to walk in circles.

No.2 Sis wasn’t able to help me this weekend, so I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be motivated to continue my great progress in clearing the Art Studio. I did quite well on my own, though!

I packed 5 more boxes for Half Price Books, 1 box for the thrift store, and delivered 2 boxes of stamping supplies to No.2 Sis, including all of my stamples (stamps + samples = stamples). That’s what she gets for not being there; she has to take some of my junk.

I also dumped 2 bags of recycling and 2 bags of garbage into their respective bins.

That means my total boxes, bags and small pieces of furniture cleared out of the house since January, 2014, equals 362*. Not bad!

Stay tuned…

*I also killed a hideous, hairy spider. I didn’t count it as a bag, even though it was quite large.


Decision Made, or 350

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My Dad only gave me a few pieces of advice over my lifetime. One bit that stuck with me was, “Always stretch yourself when buying a house. Get the most expensive house you can qualify for, because as your income goes up, the payments will get much easier”.

DAD AND ME, 2007

DAD AND ME, 2007





























This was back in the days of rising wages and rising real estate values, of course.

I took my Dad’s advice when buying both of my houses. I stayed in the first one for 19 years, and by then the payments did seem quite puny.

When I move into my current cottage, the payments were two-and-a-half times my old payment. And I got laid off. And the housing market crashed, taking the value (but not the mortgage) of my current home into the toilet. And even when I got a new job, my wages stagnated for years.

So, after living here for 13 years, I’ve decided to sell my cottage. My home has (finally) recovered its original value, and a little bit more. They say it’s a seller’s market right now, so that will help, too.

To that end, I have to step up my decluttering efforts by an order of magnitude!

No.2 Sis came over last Friday and we slogged deeper into the Studio. We were able to pack up 16 boxes and bags!

3 went home with Sis, 3 went to Goodwill, 6 went into recycling, and 1 went into the garbage.

I also have to take 3 boxes to the thrift store to see if they’ll buy any of it. Whatever they don’t want goes to Goodwill.

That makes 350 bags, boxes and small pieces of furniture cleaned out of the house since January, 2014.

My goal is to get the house on the market by early May! I’ll keep you posted!

Stay tuned…

2016 Resolution Update, March

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I started March with $832 in my Cush Fund (my savings account which provides my tight budget with a little “cushion”).

I had to withdraw $237 for Bella’s vet bill. Oh my Goddess, that vet appointment was so traumatic that I’d pay them another $237 to never have to go back again.

I added $106 of overtime pay and a $50 medical reimbursement to the Cush Fund in March. My final March balance was $751. One step forward, two steps back.

Not to worry, I’ve already received a larger medical reimbursement in April, and I’ll be getting an extra paycheck, too.

piggy bank-1




























  1. CANCEL ALL CREDIT CARDS EXCEPT NEW 0% AND MY BANK VISA. I paid off all my credit cards except the new 0%, but I haven’t cancelled them yet. Must do!
  2. BUILD UP $1200 EMERGENCY  CUSH FUND. I have $751 in the Cush Fund. I started March with $832, withdrew $237, and added $156 (overtime pay and medical reimbursements).
  3. PAY CASH FOR EVERYTHING. (No new charges). Success!

Stay tuned…