Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hilarious Tragedy

There's a lot of hilarious tragedy surrounding this ranch.

First, let me explain how Big Dog and I searched up and down the coast of California for years for this property. I wanted to get out of town and live a life of self-sufficiency. BD wanted to be "naked on a quad, playing an electric guitar as loud as possible." We looked at small-ish hilltop places above Malibu, a dairy farm in Sonoma, a beautiful 400-acre chunk of land with an adjoining 400-acres, 1800 acres that was probably too far inland, a hilltop place with a stunning 360 degree view and an oh-too-Martha-Stewart house, a 300-acre place in a dry, redneck-y area... the list goes on. I think we must have visited every largish piece of land for sale between Santa Barbara and Humboldt counties. It got so we knew more than the real estate agents.

"Well, there's this 64 acre walnut farm.."
"Been there."
"Oh. We also have a working orange farm in Cayucos."
"Seen that."

We came across Rancho Kuma last summer, as we were hurrying up the coast from LA to SF to pick up our friends who were flying in from Paris to spend a few weeks with us in Humboldt while we renovated a 120-year old Victorian in Arcata. This ranch was certainly not big enough, private enough, nor cheap enough, but to our misfortune, we took a bit of one of the nectarines growing on its many fruit trees and that was it. Like Adam and Eve with The Apple, the nectarine was our fall I guess. We kept looking at other properties but this one just kept gnawing on us until we began considering it seriously, and by the beginning of this year, it was ours.

Needless to say, Rancho Kuma is a long ways from the Garden of Eden.

First, although it's located in a perfect little pocket micro-climate banana belt, protected from the marine layer by the surrounding hills and just as gorgeous as it can be, it's not the hundreds of acres of privacy we craved. It's a miniscule 42 acres, allows an easement for the neighboring nursery, so trucks come in and out most days and you can see several houses around us. There won't be much nude quad riding. Nor will there be much blasting guitar music -- without someone pitching a fit.

Then, it came with the strange karma of a bitter divorce. The previous owner's parents had bought this ranch in the 70's but he had to sell as part of the divorce settlement. Maybe it was that karma, but the "friend" who lived here since the beginning of the year as the "caretaker" of this ranch, went wacko after a few months (that's the only way I can explain it!) and took all of the funds in our ranch account and disappeared after a few months. He even took the check that BD had written to pay for the utilities so that when BD arrived here in late May, the phone was dead, there was no electricity, no propane, no nothing. Just a bunch of trash and dog hairs everywhere.

Instead of vast acreage and a place to park a trailer, this property also has several residences. The main home is huge and cavernous. It has a giant bathroom that's bigger than the bedroom. It makes me want to laugh every time I see it. There were bats in the attic (gone, I think) and rats in the chicken coop (still battling) and by the time we arrived here a few weeks ago, everything was either dry and dead or overgrown. The furnace was "red tagged" and water systems leaked everywhere. We didn't think we were buying a full time job!

Until last week, there was a half-Japanese Harley Davidson mechanic living in the second floor of one of the residences who hadn't paid any rent for at least 5 months! What kind of landlords are we?? But maybe it was a good thing -- the "caretaker" would have taken that money, too, anyway. The mechanic finally moved out. But he left behind a bathroom that was completely covered in hair (yes! hard to imagine, but all too true!) a fridge so full of rotten food you could hardly stand to open it and a giant pool table in the garage downstairs.

All of this work was driving BD crazy and he becomes horrible when he is stressed out. Some people just stress. He's the kind that will stress and then get on your case until you are even more stressed out. Now that he's got me all stressed out, I think he's starting to chill out a bit. Some friends are coming around tomorrow. Maybe we can all talk him into going kayaking.

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