If your home is full of strangers, go to the zoo

California Condor shows off his lovely profile for us at the Oregon Zoo.
California Condor shows off his lovely profile for us at the Oregon Zoo.

My landlady wants us out of the house so she can sell it. We actually had this conversation a year ago, but I begged her to let us stay another year so Tara could graduate from high school first. Graduation is in one month and that means no more stalling: we have to go.

The Blue House, as I like to call it after its distinctive colour, went live on RMLS Friday, and my phone has been going bananas ever since, with realtors wanting to bring their clients through. The real estate market in Portland is astonishing, considering we are only a few years away from record foreclosures and joblessness and plummeting home values. These days, twenty people show up at once to view a house, offers come in at $30 thousand in cash over the asking price, and places sell in 24 hours. It is a piranha frenzy out here. I remember being confronted with this kind of competition when I looked for homes to buy near Berkeley, California in 2003. But that was before any of us knew what was coming. This time we should know better than to encourage a housing bubble. But we are humans, so we do not learn.

Tara and I have been asked to scoot out of here when people want to look around, and to be particularly absent last weekend. I worked 10 hours of mandatory overtime on Saturday and was off work at 4 pm. By 4:15 pm, there were people standing in our front yard. Waiting. We left to catch a movie and then a birthday party for a friend.

Sunday we needed something that would take more time. Our first stop was to Oswego Mortgage who is helping me with a VA loan so I can purchase my own home, so I stopped by the office (on SUNDAY! That’s how busy they are; it’s 7 days a week at the mortgage company) to sign eighty bazillion pieces of paper. Yes folks, I have been searching since November, and finally found a house. If Old Mother Hubbard kept homes in a cupboard, her cupboard in Portland is bare. And that’s why house-hunters are behaving like piranhas. I found a *beautiful* place. Negotiations are still underway and I don’t close till the middle of June, so I’m not sure yet if it will be ours in the end, but I will definitely leave updates here. The property is like paradise, and I am only slightly exaggerating. Just you wait. 🙂

“Whatchyoo lookin’ at, Huh?”
The bears were fun to watch. One played in a water trough for awhile, one rolled around on the ground playing with a branch, and a third napped in the background.
The bears were fun to watch. One played in a water trough for awhile, one rolled around on the ground playing with a branch, and a third napped in the background.

After signing documents we went straight to the zoo. I haven’t been to the Oregon Zoo for about 10 years, so it was high time. I could only remember the bats and the polar bears. The bats were again one of my favourite exhibits. Portland has a pretty nice zoo, and there is a lot of construction going on. Some of the structures are the original buildings from when it was constructed in 1959, and some, though newer, are still not to the standards that modern zoo-attendees want to see.

Construction has totally disrupted viewing of the elephants, but the elephants may appreciate being separated from the people. The elephants at the Oregon Zoo are a big attraction, since they are a healthy family group. Their current home was state of the art, revolutionary design in 1959 – a new idea in zoos to allow elephants to mingle together and sleep unchained. As a result, Portland became host to the continent’s first successful pachyderm nursery. Go figure. Six of the elephants here were born at the Oregon Zoo, including little Lily, born in November. We also host Packy, born in 1962, he was the first elephant born in the United States for 44 years, and the first to live past the age of 1 for 80 years. The new enclosure will provide them more space and a pond.

This is our actual view of the Asian Elephants, while barriers keep us safely at a distance during construction of Elephant Lands.
This is our actual view of the Asian Elephants, while barriers keep us safely at a distance during construction of Elephant Lands.
Luckily my camera has a zoom lens and I could get a better look at them. Here, one elephant appears to have open-mouthed delight as it scratches an itchy thigh on that log.
Luckily my camera has a zoom lens and I could get a better look at them. Here, one elephant appears to have open-mouthed delight as it scratches an itchy thigh on that log.

Ambitious zoo construction plans also include a much more homey primate area, which they certainly need. It is hard to view such expressive faces behind bars, even though I know a pretty cage is still a cage.

The Oregon Zoo partners with other organizations to promote strong populations of other animals, such as the California Condor (the lovely face at the top of this post) and Oregon Painted Turtles.

Baby turtles identified with nail polish on their shells.
Baby turtles identified with nail polish on their shells.
DeBrazza's Monkey gazes out at me from behind bars.
DeBrazza’s Monkey gazes out at me from behind bars.
These spirited Cotton-top Tamarins were leaping around and entertaining us.
These spirited Cotton-top Tamarins were leaping around and entertaining us.
It was difficult to get a good shot through the thick and scratched Plexiglas, but this one turned out ok.
It was difficult to get a good shot through the thick and scratched Plexiglas, but this one of an otter licking its paw turned out ok.
This is a different otter, who was swimming along the length of the pond, delighting the children who stood with their faces pressed again the glass. When one of the otters flashed past, the children would shriek and squeal!
This is a different otter, who was swimming along the length of the pond, delighting the children who stood with their faces pressed again the glass. When one of the otters flashed past, the children would shriek and squeal!
A Northern Shoveler trying to find a nap spot away from the eager crowds.
A Northern Shoveler trying to find a nap spot away from the eager crowds.
Look at the face of the Malayan Sun Bear! This one was in a playful mood.
Look at the face of the Malayan Sun Bear! This one was in a playful mood.
Northern Sulawesi Babirusa, or pigs with bloody great tusks.
Northern Sulawesi Babirusa, or pigs with bloody great tusks.
We stopped for a late lunch at the Africa Cafe, built with a view of the aviary so we watched the birds fly around while we ate.
We stopped for a late lunch at the Africa Cafe, built with a view of the aviary so we watched the birds fly around while we ate.
One of the lovelies inside the aviary.
One of the lovelies inside the aviary.
This photo makes either the giraffe look small or the birds look enormous. Answer: these birds are enormous!
This photo makes either the giraffe look small or the birds look enormous. Answer: these birds are enormous!
Tara pretending to be a baby eagle. A cranky baby eagle.
Tara pretending to be a baby eagle. A cranky baby eagle.
Polar bears enjoying the shade and the cool water of what turned out to be a very warm day.
Polar bears enjoying the shade and the cool water of what turned out to be a very warm day.
An Egyptian fruit bat. Gosh they are so beautiful I just want to cuddle. I love bats.
An Egyptian fruit bat. Gosh they are so beautiful I just want to cuddle. I love bats.
Straw-coloured fruit bat seems to be cackling with glee. Perhaps he is particularly big fan of bananas for lunch.
Straw-coloured fruit bat seems to be cackling with glee. Perhaps he is particularly enthusiastic about having bananas for lunch.

Our plan worked, and before we knew it, the sun was dropping toward the horizon and our home was again empty so that we could return. It was a Sunday well spent, and I may even have to thank the landlady for how our weekend turned out.

19 thoughts on “If your home is full of strangers, go to the zoo

  1. All the shots are very good… I haven’t been in de Zoo of Barcelona… at least for ages!… I wish you sell your home at good price and find other good and cheap! (difficult but not impossible), you’ll tell me where are you going. Cheers!

    1. Aw, you are so sweet to come to my defense. I am not angry about having to go. The landlady lives far away and would like to sell the home so it isn’t a worry for her anymore. I am grateful that she let us stay another year, and it actually worked out better for her in the end, because the value of her home must certainly have shot up in the past six months. (Untenable tenant – too funny)

      Glad you liked the photos. It was a really fun day at the zoo.

  2. I remember the 2003 frenzy Crystal – it was when I last owned a home. I sold just before the boom happened and by the time it ended found I could no longer afford to be a home owner! I am astounded to think it is happening again! I can imagine how excited you must be at the thought of buying your own home again – I know I would be flying, high as a kite 🙂 I am therefore sending every ounce of successful buying energy I can muster your way! With solid expectations to be reading a post entitled ‘Happy House-Warming!’ or some-such soon! xoxo

    1. Oh, what rotten timing on your own home! I thought I was the only person who caught the cycles wrong. I did end up buying a home at that time (only I went to Boston instead of Berkeley), and paid the max at the peak of the Boston boom in 2004. When I graduated from the University in 2007 I tried to sell and couldn’t until I finally sold it in 2008 for a substantial loss. Urg.

      I can hardly wait to post my Happy House-Warming post! Here’s a teaser: no more city girl.

      Now you all have to send me motivating energy to use while I begin packing these boxes full that my neighbors have been so kind to give me.

      1. Believe me I am rockin’ and rollin’ over here – any one who gets a chance to own their own home again has my unmitigated happy outcome energy heading their way! xoxo

  3. Great pics!
    Wish me luck on the blue house. Reading your blog entry, I think you were sheltering me on how much interest it actually generated. 😊

    1. Oh Brian I hope you get the Blue House! I think I’ve been pretty accurate in telling you exactly how many have been stopping by, and when. You are just nervous, and I totally understand. My fingers are crossed – today should be the day we find out!

  4. When on earth did you have time to look for a place? Where did you find one? So many questions. I’m so delighted for you. If you need to get out again because of those strangers, let me know and we’ll do our Gustav’s run. 🙂 Once you close and start the move, You will be so fried. We are moving my daughter this weekend. Her apartment complex was sold and the new owners evicted everyone. She will be paying twice the rent in her new place but half the commute. Life is what it is. I’ll keep good thoughts for you. Really good thoughts.

    1. I have totally left you out of the loop! We should hit Gustav’s soon, and I can tell you how it’s been out here in the pool with the piranhas. I’ll email you. When on earth, indeed! I actually had to take a sick day from work a couple weeks ago – just to rest.

      Now your daughter is truly the one who was kicked out – what frustration! I have heard this has been happening: the building owners are excited because of the value of real estate, and are selling. I hear that rent prices are going through the roof, and that is if someone can even *find* a place to rent. Well, now that gas prices are going back up, maybe the shorter commute will be helpful. Don’t know if she uses the bus.

      I was told that the landlady was going to make a decision on which offer to accept last night. She had received 5 offers by 10 am yesterday, with one more expected to arrive, and three more people scheduled to tour the house. In any case, if she decided, then I don’t have to show the house anymore and can leave dirty dishes in the sink! Yay!

      1. Looking forward to hearing from you. Heather took the apartment and has as yet not seen the inside. Moving day is Monday and her rent is more than twice what she was paying for the same or less space. She takes the MAX now but will take the bus after the move. Her car is a 97 so she knows not to push it. Yay on not having strangers going through anymore. Everyone has been waiting to sell and buy. Looks like now is the time. Wishing you all the best with that. Curious too about college choices. 🙂

  5. Well! What an update! I’m so glad that you were able to convince your landlady to give you and Tara one more year.
    Does Tara know where she will be going to school? (if you’ve said, I’ve forgotten)
    I’ve got fingers and toes crossed that all goes well and that you will be closing in June. I’m excited for you!

    Love the zoo pics, by the way!

    1. Oregon State University! You’re the second one to ask and I realize I must not have told you all yet. Tara has been accepted into the School of Forestry, and is planning on a forestry degree. Not sure yet what kind of forestry degree, but OSU has seven of them, so options are open. 🙂 Thanks for the digit-crossings! I’ll take all the help I can get.

    1. I agree they are amazing. I appreciate zoos for allowing us an introduction to these animals, though my preference is always in the wild. I’ve seen the condors and black bears, and the fish in the wild, but the rest I would have never seen without the zoo. I envy your experiences with the fabulous animals that you and your family make the effort to see and appreciate!

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