Firstly, let me wish each and every one of your a Happy New Year. May your New Year be filled with new adventures and good fortunes.
It’s been a tumultuous year for us. Lot’s of transitions in our lives.
The new house:
After some 6 months of to-ing and fro-ing, construction began in December of 2022. One year ago, this is what our house looked like:
Now, a year later this is what it looks like:
My, what a difference a year makes.
Melanie and I travelled down from Fairfax to Williamsburg weekly to keep our finger on the construction process. We became good friends with the I-95 corridor in Northern Virginia. At best guess we did the drive some 60+ times.
Construction was, well, at times frustrating. The contractor had over extended himself a bit and some weeks we saw a lot of progress and some weeks we didn’t.
After a false start with a projected move in date of end of July, this all came to head in late summer when we dictated that we would be moving into the house on September 23rd some 2 weeks after the contractual delivery date. This lead to a flurry of activity, far too much if you ask me, and while we moved the furniture in the house on the 23rd, we didn’t actually take possession of the house until October 3rd.
Honestly, we should have given them more time. The finishing touches on the house were rushed and it shows. Some 3 months later we still have a “punch list” of things for them to do. The paintwork in the house is particularly problematic. It’s definitely not up to the level of the house we saw on Brancaster. In any event it will be left for now as the house is settling and a lot of the trim work will need to be caulked and painted again once the house finds it’s happy place.
And here’s a shoutout for les incompétents at Ferguson. Geeze, really folks? Our contact there was rude, unhelpful and completely non-informative throughout our build. We have no idea how much anything cost in our project. Our wonderful contact simply refused to provide a useful summary of our purchases. And then there was the document she insisted we sign that gave Ferguson the right to provide our appliances to others who “needed’ them first and we would have to get back in line to purchase at whatever the market price. No thank you, we refused to sign that. Combine all this with at least 5 different large scale items being ordered incorrectly and you have to ask yourself, how do these people stay in business?
The three months we have lived here (has it really been that long?) were really busy at first with the grand unpacking, and then very peaceful and more laid back. We like the feel of Williamsburg. It’s very comfortable.
There has been LOT of activity in/at the house in the three months. Just a brief summary:
- Got everything out of boxes. This was a double whammy as we didn’t open prolly 60% of the boxes when we moved from Reston to Fairfax. This time we opened everything, and there was an awful lot of “why did we move that?”. In fairness the pack up in Reston as a bit hectic.
- Emptied all the stuff out of the mini-storage in October – That was fun.
- Got the AV gear all installed and functional – It’s bitchin’. Thanks Mike for the TV, it’s awesome and looks great over the fireplace.
- Got GloFiber – They hooked us up on October 10th and they had to come back in November and re-lay the fiber around the yard. Other than that, it’s been wonderful having 600/600 internet service.
- Transitioned over to the Ubiquiti Dream Machine SE – I had bought the UDM SE and 3 access points in the summer as I wanted a very robust internet/wi-fi solution. Well this is that and much more. While it was spendy, the system is fast, reliable and very easy to manage.
- Instantiated a Home Assistant home automation system – I had bought a Home Assistant Yellow in the summer and had been monitoring the innerwebs in search of a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 to go with it. I finally found one in stock and it was delivered in October. Sitting down one day, I plugged the system into one of my POE jacks and went through the the setup routine. It said it would take an hour or two to complete, so I went to do other things in the interim. When I returned, it was finished, and it found EVERY connected device in the house and installed “integrations” for all of them. Wowsers. This is more than a little intimidating. It’s painfully apparent this could be a significant rabbit hole to fall into. I’ve played a little bit with setting up a remote for the TV and it works pretty well. But this is gonna be a fairly steep slope.
In December we drove up to Fairfax for the first time since we moved in as I wanted to attend a corporate Christmas party at my ex-employer. As we neared Fairfax, the word “intensity” kept creeping up in my mind. While we liked having everything at arm’s reach in Fairfax, we definitely don’t like the population density that comes with that. So, Williamsburg has been a fair compromise.
That lack of density here has been interesting thusfar. Finding a Doctor was the first challenge. There are very few Doctor’s in the area taking new Medicare patients. Luckily I was able to find one just 10 minutes away in Toano. Melanie and I have both had our initial Medicare “visit” and are scheduled for regular check ups and such in January. Time will tell how that relationship plays out.
We decided not to change our supplemental health plan during the annual Medicare change window. While we don’t like the cost of the plan we have, health coverage wise, it’s the best there is. The downside is we have no dental or vision coverage. C’est la vie.
This was the year of the big “R”; retirement. We had been talking about this for some time, having pushed the date back several times. I’m pretty certain the people I worked with thought I had lost my mind, but the final day of my employment was May 31st. I had stopped actually going in the office on May 3rd, but had some 4+ weeks of leave to burn. Truth be told, if I had known completion of the house wouldn’t be until the end of September, I would have stayed working another month or 2. Oh well.
Many asked me what I was going to do. The offer of a part time opportunity out of an office in the Williamsburg area was thrown out, but honestly it was just time to call it done. Based upon our conversations with Darian and Fidelity, we are in good shape financially, and really don’t need the income or stress in my life.
So we turned on Part B of Medicare and signed up for the AARP-United Heathcare “Medi-Gap” policy and a medicine policy with WellCare all taking effect on June 1st, the last day possible.
The whole Medicare gauntlet is very interesting. There are numerous pitfalls in the process with a wrong decision potentially having life long implications. Melanie and I are of fairly sound mind, and both of us found the process overwhelming. Luckily we had the assistance of a Medicare specialist at Fidelity. I’m certain that she was not happy when we signed up for our plans directly instead of going through her. We have had less than positive experiences when dealing with “brokers” in the past and preferred our relationship be directly with the service supplier, and not a 3rd party.
It’s traditional to have resolutions for the New Year, so here we go:
- Post weekly to the blog – This went pretty well until October-ish and then it went off the rails. Mea Culpa.
- No profanity – I used to work in an office full of ex-Sailors who had salty vocabularies. Unfortunately this rubbed off. Don’t have that excuse any longer.
- Drop the 10 pounds or so I picked up in the last year. I was hopeful that I would lose 10 pounds in the move, much like the first time, but that didn’t happen this time. I’m certain it had nothing to do with testing positive for CV19 during the pack up…
- Get finished moving in – Still lot’s of things to do in the house. The garage and the FROG (Family Room Over Garage) need to be set-up. I’m still vacillating on the final arrangements.
- Resume the photography – 2023 was a fairly big year for photos taken with a total of ~6,000 images, but the vast majority were of the construction of the house. Probably 2/3rds. There are a plethora of places to walk around here, I just need to get off my duff and “get r’ done”.
- Get back on the fitness course – The last quarter has not seen much walking or riding the elliptical. I can definitely tell. After testing positive for Covid in September, I have noticed that it severely affected my stamina, which has not gotten appreciably better since.
- Home Assistant – Figure out what I want the system to do. Will definitely need to be done in stages, with first priority to controlling the AV system in the house.
Well, lot’s more to say, but I think that’s all for now.
Happy New Year to you all!