Missouri Bound

Shortly after my retirement from CCSD, I began preparations to relocate from Las Vegas to Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  Cape Girardeau is located on the banks of the Mississippi River and is about one hour north of Dexter, MO, where my father was born and spent his childhood.  Since I was a young girl, I have held sweet memories of summers spent in this midwestern, Ozark Mountain community; running barefoot through the grasslands, catching fireflies at night, and eating watermelon on the front porch.  FINALLY, a dream that I have been hoping for ever since I can remember, is about to become a reality.  I have chosen Cape Girardeau because it is where my cousins live and I would like to build a closer relationship with them; something that I’ve missed out on over the many years.  Cape Girardeau is filled with Civil War history, which will keep me on my toes for many years to come.  In addition, it is only an hour and half from St. Louis, where I will be spending time in the shopping malls.  A little of “the best” from both worlds!   

In the upcoming days, this blog will center around my efforts to sell my current home in Las Vegas, packing my belongings, looking for and buying a new  home in Cape Girardeau, and settling into my new world!


(09/22/17)  This afternoon, I saw my first “living” armadillo in Cape Giradeau since moving here.  Over the last few months, I have discovered quite a few of the little creatures “dead” in the middle of the roads and highways.  This afternoon, while driving down Perryville Avenue, before turning onto Sheridan Drive, I saw a small-sized one slowly trudging across the road, trying to reach safety on the other side.  When I first saw them in Southeast Missouri, I was quite shocked thinking their only habitat was in the deeper south; Texas, Louisianna, Florida, Mexico, South America.  Recently, after reading a bit of research, I learned that during the latter half of the 20th century, they started migrating North;  they were actually first seen in the state of Missouri about 40 years ago, and have even been seen as far north as Kansas City.  They are odd-looking animals and, according to some of my neighbors, can be quite destructive to lawns and gardens.  I always feel a lump in my throat when I pass a dead animal in the road; usually, they are squirrels, rabbits, racoons, and skunks, but I have truly developed a soft spot for these little armadillos, who can’t run very fast and are more susceptible to speeding cars than other animals that have the ability to scamper away quickly when danger approaches.  


Buying Trip; Day 4

(4/11/2017)  I met the home inspector at the newly purchased home early this morning, accompanying him as he took extensive notes and pointing out some “wear and tear” on the home, that I might want to have the sellers address before the closing date, which we set to be at the end of May.  For the most part, there were no major issues that required immediate attention, and the home was deemed “safe” for move in.  

For the remainder of the day, I spent time driving around the Cape Girardeau area becoming familiar with the surroundings that will soon be my new home.  I spent a good hour, or so, walking along the banks of the Mississippi River while mentally going over my next plans in the upcoming weeks approach.  After Easter, I will be fulfilling a commitment to Estes McDoniel Elementary School, in Henderson, filling in for their guidance counselor who is on maternity leave.  Within this time, I must make arrangements to hire a cross-country moving company to move my belongs, sell my truck, make travel arrangements “back” to Cape Girardeau for both my mom and I, and coordinate a smooth transition of myself and my belongings.  It won’t be an easy task, but one that I will need to handle with confidence and peace of mind.

I fly back to Las Vegas tomorrow, so ending my “Buying Trip” in search of a new dwelling . .  a home!   Job, well done!!

Buying Trip; Day 3

(4/10/2017)  Doris Jean and I met this morning at 1570 Saratoga St., and were welcomed by its current owner, Mr. Ken Lipps, who commenced to tell us of the superior construstion of the home, yielding he and his wife many years of maintenance free living.  He seemed to hold great pride in the pleasure of owning a “Gary Arnold” design, and assured us that the home’s structure was stable.  We began walking through the home and was IMMEDIATELY impressed with its immaculate cleanliness and well-preserved original fixtures; wood floors, carpet, walls, kitchen appliances, etc.  Of all the houses that I had viewed during my buying trip, this was the ONLY property that actually “made sense” for a single woman, living on a teacher’s pension.  Although the interior paint colors and carpet selection doesn’t really comply with my own tastes, their installation and  current condition is nearly flawless, and are neutral enough to work well with all of my furnishings.  One of the best features of the home is its unique floorplan!  Designed exclusively by my cousin Gary, there is not a house standing in this world that remotely resembles it.  Whereas most homes today are being built with the “open floorplan concept,” this is quite the contrary!  Each room on the bottom floor is “closed off,” as homes were built in the early 20th century, which I adore!   The house is not perfect; the master bedroom and master bath is quite a bit smaller than what I’m used to living in.  Still, in my preparation to “downsize” my living area, it would have to be a sacrifice I would be willing to make.  Requiring no renovations and serious repairs, I concluded that this house, being completely “move-in ready” was the most logical choice for me!   I directed Doris Jean to get started on making the offer and we began all the routine paperwork with the bank.  I offered full price for the home, even though it was $15,000 over my budget, asking that the seller pay $5,000 on my initial home warrantee.

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The buyers accepted my offer and, after routine real estate details, the property was placed on “pending” status.  Doris Jean arranged for the home inspection to take place tomorrow morning, and advised me to be present while it was taking place.  Later in the day, I drove over to a local Farmer’s insurance agency and applied for a new homeowner’s policy on the new house.  I cannot even describe the thrill and relief in my heart knowing that I made such a wise purchase, without settling for a “lemon” and staying withing budget that will be comfortable for me as I begin my life in rural Missouri.

Buying Trip; Day 2

(04/09/2017)  At 8:00 AM, I went to the Cracker Barrel to enjoy a country breakfast before meeting Doris Jean and her friend and fellow realtor, Elaine Edgar at the house on Valley View.  Priced at about $15,000 over my budget, Elaine felt confident that she could convince own owners to drop it by, at least, $10,000.  The interior of the home was in far better condition than one I viewed yesterday, however still needed A LOT of work!   One of the most appealing aspects is that it had an extremely spacious sunroom in the back of the house, with a glorious view of the woods.  The basement was a bit small, but the size of the sunroom certainly made up for it, and would have been a great location for my sewing and quilting studio.  The extremely small-sized kitchen was outdated, with cupboard doors falling off the hinges and “tired” delapidated mosaic tile on the walls.  The house had a lot of provincial charm, which I tend to gravitate toward, but with the unappealing driveway and the amount of work needed to make it more livable, I decided to mark it off my list!   With two houses down, and one more from my list to look at, I was beginning to feel that my trip to Cape was futile.

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The next house on my list was an adorable little place out in Jackson, with a Victorian exterior that truly played upon my heartstrings!  Beginning to feel a little bit more hope, I was pleased that both the interior and exterior of this home was in great condition and ready to move into.  The biggest drawback of this home was the small size of the rooms, especially the kitchen.  Mentally, I am prepared for the fact that I will be “downsizing” from what I had in Las Vegas; it’s what I want to keep my expenses down while living comfortably.  However, with the small portion of living space, I could easily find myself dissatisfied with my live within five years and wanting desperately to move.  In addition, this home is in Jackson, and I truly would rather reside in Cape Girardeau.  House # 3 is now “off” my list of possibilities, leaving me with NONE!   I told myself weeks ago that I refused to buy “just anything” in order to make my buying trip a success.  If I have to wait for a few months when there is more inventory that interests me on the market, I will do just that.  

Doris Jean encouraged me to keep my hopes high and assured me that I would find something that met me needs.  In her own research, she came upon a home on Cape Rock Dr. that she wanted me to see.  Knowing that it was priced far above my budget, she wanted me to see it just to get my response.  I agreed, and we called the owners for an appointment.  The house was a FSBO (for sale by owner), and did not appear in my searches on the MLS.  Doris Jean told me that the home was built in 1930.  As much as I love the idea of buying an old, historic home and renovating it, as a single woman I don’t think I would ever attempt such a task.  This home, however, had been completely renovated and modernized by the current owners was said to be flawless.  I think Doris Jean was more curious to tour it than I was.  

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By the time we completed touring this remarkable home, we confirmed that the rumors were true!   What a JEWEL!  The owner of this property had not only renovated every aspect of the house, bringing it’s foundation and structure up to date while maintaining its antiquity, he had built a state of the art, two story garage in the back yard providing storage for a car. and other outdoor pieces of equipment, and a sophisticated studio for his wife, a professional photographer, upstairs.  While walking around the grounds, a gorgeous, red fox scampered across the yard and into the woods!   This home was well worth every penny they were asking for it!  Unfortunately, it was about $50,000 over my budget and, regardless of its beauty, it did not meet one of my essential requirements — an attached garage.  Still, it was a treat to see this house and to appreciate the hard work, and pride, that this couple had put into it.

Feeling discouraged, I went back to my hotel and began combing the MLS  for listings that I may have overlooked.  I ran across a property that I had previously considered, but disregarded because it was overpriced  and lacked some of the aesthetic details that I wanted to be present in my new home.   The house was built in the early 1980’s by my cousin’s husband, Gary, a prominent homebuilder in the Cape Girardeau area.   Gary’s reputation for building gorgeous homes with supurb architectural quality is impeccable!   I know, for a a fact, that the structure of this house is sound, logical and unique.  I got in my car and drove to the house's address and observed it for a while from the street.  With its lush landscaping and inviting elevation, it truly exuded the feel of a charming “English” cottage!  The longer I sat and looked at this “little cottage," I could envision myself tending the flowers in the garden, coming out to check the mail box each day, and greeting visitors coming to the door!  I immediately called Doris Jean and told her I wanted to tour this house in the morning.  She made the necessary arrangments and we agreed to meet each other there at 10:00 tomorrow morning!

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Buying Trip; Day 1

(04/08/2017)  With excitement in my heart, I flew in to St. Louis this afternoon, rented a car, and drove down to Cape Girardeau with the highest expectations of buying the “perfect” house.   Little did I consider that professional photography has a way of making an average home look a hundred times more appealing than it actually is!  Doris Jean had informed me before my departure that two of the homes on my priority list had recently sold, which was making me quite nervous.  I got checked into my hotel and Doris Jean came to pick me up for our first tours of some of the homes on my list.  Although I previously told Doris Jean that I “absolutely” wanted the a house on Valley View drive, I began to consider another property in Jackson that I felt might give me more value for my money.  Its on a 2.2 acre lot and is listed below my budget.  I asked Doris Jean to take me to this location first.  

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Ick!  What a WRECK!  As appealing as this house is from the curb, the interior leaves much to be desired!  The banister wobbles, the wood floors look like they’ve been beaten with chains, there are holes and dents in the drywall, and the kitchen — GEEZ, LOUISE!!!  — desperately needs a facelift!   This perfectly priced home would cost me in the neighborhood of $20,000 in renovations, which I wouldn’t be able to save until 3-4 years down the road.  With all the money I’d need to spend on “anti-depressants” to help me survive in such a dwelling, I’m afraid I’d never come out ahead!   Crossed off my list — END OF STORY — On to the next property!

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Doris Jean drove me to the house on Valley View, that I have been seriously considering for several weeks.  She made an appointment for me to view this house tomorrow morning, but we drove by to get a sneak preview.  As Doris Jean warned previously, the driveway was EXTREMELY steep and we proceeded to drive to the top, in front of the garage.  Sadly, this experience gave me a tremendously uncomfortable feeling and I knew instantly that I would never be able to live here!  However, out of courtesy to the listing realtor, I decided to keep my appointment for tomorrow morning and view the inside of the house.  

Off to View the Market

(4/4/2017)  With the sale of my home well behind me, I am paving the path for my next big journey in life.  Last week, I made flight, hotel, and car rental reservations for April 8th through the 13th, to visit Cape Girardeau and seriously pursue the sale of a new home.  Through Realtor.com and Houseviewonline.com, I have narrowed down seven properties that I am seriously considering.  Doris Jean has contacted the listing realtors of these properties and has arranged for a viewing.  Three are in Jackson and the others are in Cape Girardeau.

The photo above, shows the house I’m most interested in.  1918 Valley View, in Cape Girardeau.  It sits on a 1.0 acre lot, has a beautiful finished basement and a glorious sunroom, which I would love.  Doris Jean is very worried about the driveway, as she feels it would be dangerous in the winter with all the snow and ice.  The price is good and the listing realtor is almost sure they will take $10,000 less, as it has been listed on t he market for quite a long time.

The photo above, 23 Pinewood, is priced just below my budget and is gorgeous, from the picture.  My Uncle Gary, Doris Jean’s husband, doesn’t like this house because the backyard has too many rolling hills and he feels it would be a disaster for me to maintain.  He may be right, but I want to see for myself.  I’m looking forward to seeing it.

The house in the above photo is 505 Oakhill Rd. and it’s in Jackson.  I fell in love with this house be just viewing the elevation, as it reminded me of an old Victorian style house.  However, after the interior photos the kitchen seems a bit small and the stairwell is off in a dark corner, which I found unappealing.  The price of this home is just perfect for my budget, and it sits on a half acre lot, which I love!

The house in the photo above is at 1029 S. Shawnee and is in Jackson.  I don’t know what drew me to this house more; those beautiful leaves in the driveway, or the enormous sized lot.  It’s quite a bit over my budget, but I could “probably” handle it if I tighten my belt a bit.  It has a HUGE, finished basement, and four bedrooms.

The house above, 628 Francis in Jackson, ispriced $2000 below my budget would be PERFECT for me!   Four huge bedrooms, a finished basement, and a 2.2 acre lot.  My concern with this property is that I can’t seem to get the listing realtor to raeturn any of my messages.  I’m going to have to leave it all up to Doris Jean, but I wanted to take a lot of the responsibility off her shoulders during this short time I will be in Cape.

The house above, 3812 Scenic Drive, isn’t really one of my favorites, but it “is” one of the few that are in Cape Girardeau and I’ve agreed to walk through it to see if it appeals to me.

The house in the picture above, is at 1570 Saratoga Street, and is in Cape Girardeau.  The interior is quite beautiful, and I know, for a fact, the house was built with the highest quality; my uncle built this house in the late 90’s.  A few drawbacks; the lot is only .25 acre, the basement isn’t finished, and it’s OVER my budget.  

I leave in a few short days and I can’t be sure “any” of these homes will actually be the best choice for me.  Chances are I will have to wait until a later part of the year and make another trip when the market can show me more, according to my expectations.  It will be a glorious time to visit; the springtime, when flowers are blooming, the trees are filling out, and the air is cool and crisp!

Cleaning Day

(3/4/2017) Today is my final visit to 9120 Manalang Rd., and will be met with many mixed emotions.  How proud Mom and I were 13 years ago when the sale closed and I moved in!  Together, we spent many joyful hours carefully picking out paint colors, drapery swatches,  and furniture styles to give the house a sense of inviting warmth, truly turning it into a home!  Now, with the exception of cobwebs in the wall corners, and dust bunnies dancing around on the tile floor, the house is barren and for the first time in my life, looks bleak and dismal.   After saying “goodbye” to many happy memories and fulfilled dreams, Mom and I will spend the day committed to the broom and mop, making a clean and welcome environment for the new inhabitants.  May they love the house as i did, living up to the pride of ownership.


Moving Day


(3/4/2017) The long awaited day of moving out of my house on

Manalang Rod. is finally here!  I never thought it would happen!  Although the house is scheduled to close on March 10th, I’m taking care of moving all of my belongings out today, so that I don’t have to worry about it in the upcoming week as I begin my long-term counseling assignment at Estes McDoniel on Monday.  Not only is the physical move stressful, but I will be temporarily living at my mother’s house until I find a house that I like in Cape Girardeau.  It may take a while, depending on what is available on the market.  It will be a lot of “adjusting” for Mom and I, both, but I’m somewhat looking forward to the closeness of living with her again.  I haven’t lived at home for close to 25 years and it will be nice for a while. I  hope I don’t make her too nervous; hopefully, it will only be for a short while.  

Full Steam Ahead . . .


Here we go . . . . the journey begins!  Since the tentative sale of my home, I have been zealously combing the real estate market in Cape Girardeau!  A few years ago, my cousins suggested that I might consider property in “Jackson,” Missouri, as opposed to Cape Girardeau.  Being quite a bit smaller than Cape, the schools are less crowded and have less tensions.  Unfortunately, the town is “less,” in general and I’ve come to believe that I might not adjust well to such a rural and provencial setting.  There is nowhere to shop or dine out; I’d be driving over to Cape “constantly" to buy essentials, run errands, and eat in restaurants (since I rarely cook for myself).  I have decided that, providing I find a property within my budget and needs, I will “try” and focus on Cape real estate.  Regrettably, the MLS in Cape Girardeau is showing very few prospects that have sparked my interest, as opposed to numerous listings in Jackson which are actually quite exciting to me.  I have decided that during Easter Week, I will fly to Cape, meet with my cousin, and seriously pursue property until I find a place that I can call “home!”  A couple of weeks ago, I committed myself to a long-term subbing position for an elementary counselor, who will be out on Family Medical Leave until the last week in May.  My starting date is March 6th.  Although I can drop everything and fly back NOW, I will lose out on quite a large sum of money, with no guarantee that I will find a property any more suitable than had I waited till Easter Week!.  Keeping focused on “patience is a virtue” sure is difficult when you’re BURSTING with joy!


This morning, I heard the music that my heart has been yearning for; a reasonable offer has been made on my home, and I’m THRILLED WITH IT!  The buyers have offered the full asking price, and have asked that I pay the closing costs, which should come to about $5000.00.  Although not thrilled with taking the loss on the closing costs, I firmly believe it’s the best offer that will be coming through in a VERY LONG TIME!   My intuition is telling me to take the offer, walk away from this chapter in my life and move on.  For once in almost a year, moving to Missouri is starting to become a reality to me.  John explained that after he gets the paperwork drawn up, and all signatures secured, the actual “sale” portion of the real estate process will be put into action, and I can expect to close in about one month!

.© Mary Darby 2016