Thursday, December 19, 2013

Where the Heck Are We Going to Live? °o°

How do I describe the blur that was our arrival to the Orlando area? After six days of driving, we arrived on my lucky day; Friday the 13th... in the state of Florida, anyway; we still had four more hours of travel south to Central Florida. We decided to stay overnight in Tallahassee and then continued the last stretch after we were rested for the evening.

That night I received a call from a landlord that I had emailed from a listing on Craig's List. She agreed to show us the house the next day at 2:30.  On Saturday after that four-hour drive, we saw the "Welcome to Orlando" sign at 2:20, 10 minutes before the appointment!

It turns out that the house was not to our liking because of safety concerns in the area (driving through the streets we saw a lot of run down homes, broken down vehicles, and bars on windows), but at least we knew to eliminate that neighborhood from our list.

It was still early so we spent the next couple of hours driving through neighborhoods in different towns that we knew we were interested in. We were charmed by Maitland and a few areas of Winter Garden, but found that unlike many neighborhoods in Phoenix, there were no "house for rent" signs in the front yards to be found, and to be honest, those beautiful neighborhoods were still quite a drive from the parks. I figured I would be doing my homework that night on various rental web sites, and calling our real estate agent that we had established a relationship with last year on our scouting trip.

Since it would be getting dark soon, we thought it would be best to secure a place to stay for that night and until we could find a house that we wanted to rent.  We pulled into a parking lot so that we could start making phone calls to find an extended stay hotel, which costs less than a single-night hotel room.  

We settled on Super 6 Extended stay because they advertise that they are pet friendly, and were the cheapest out of the three that we called. For $430 we had a "home" for seven days, with a kitchenette, refrigerator and two HBO channels! Not exactly the most warm and inviting of homes, however. 

Sunday and Monday was spent doing more of the same; driving around, looking for "for rent" signs. We are concerned about the fact that we are trying to rent a house without having jobs yet, so we were trying to avoid Property Management companies that expect you to prove that you earn at least twice the rental amount.

We found a few and called right away. Some would not allow pets at all and some were out of our budget range. Somehow, during those two days we decided that we were really comfortable with the nighborhoods right in the area of Northwest Kissimmee where our hotel was located. After touring through three or four of them, we were impressed with how nice and neat most of the homes were. We decided that although Kissimmee didn't carry the prestige of a Hunter's Creek or a Winter Garden address, the area was still very nice and more of the homes were affordable to us. Additionally, in the right zip code, we would be less than ten miles away from the parks.   

Our agent sent us a list of houses that were available for rent on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) that were in the Kissimmee area. However, many of these homes would not be vacant until a later date, were run by property management companies, or did not need meet our needs (a two-car garage is required, considering how much we have to move into the house).  Heavy, heavy sigh.

I have to admit to you that things were not looking bounteous.  We did not have a plethora of rental  houses available to choose from and although it was early, I was starting to worry. It takes time to drive around town, set appointments with busy home owners and if we should find a house that fit the bill, I also knew that it would take time for background checks to clear, or other paperwork to be processed.  Our goal was to be out of the Extended Stay by the end of that week so that we could get the POD delivered and at least have Christmas week to settle into our new home. Maybe even set up our Christmas tree.

After a lot of pavement pounding, we found only three houses that we wanted to pursue. The first was eliminated quickly because after calling about it, we found it was handled by a property management company. They told us right away "no jobbie, no rentie".  The house in second place seemed like it was going to work out without a hitch. We were so confident that we even called my folks to tell them that we had found our house. I guess we were counting our chickens before they hatched, because although we had a great meeting with the husband that owned the home the night before, the wife had different plans by morning. She told us she had already accepted payment from another tennant. That was a heavy blow. 

We were left with the house in third place as our only option. We did like it, but it was still in rough condition with a hole in the living room wall, dirty walls, and an overgrown lawn. A diamond in the rough.  We called the owner and set a time to meet so that we could fill out her paperwork. My biggest fear being that something will happen that would sour the deal; a cousin of the family was going to be in town for six months, and they were going to rent to her, or some other crushing development. We were already losing valuable time because we had stopped looking.

This time it turned out that three really is a charm, and we walked away with the lease with no problems whatsoever. They even had a team of people repainting, cutting grass, and scrubbing all surfaces when we drove away with a smile and a contract in our fists...  Next stop, GUEST RELATIONS at Downtown Disney!


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MouseketeerKen and MouseketeerMark

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Exploring the Area - Fun Spot/Old Town or; Do You Like Wine With Your Cheese? °o°

Until we can establish an address so that we can purchase Florida resident annual passes to Disney World, we took some time to explore an attraction called Fun Spot, and the nearby shopping complex called Old Town, both just a few miles away from the Magic Kingdom in Kissimmee/Celebration.

Fun Spot, we learned is a collection of state-fair-like thrill rides with free admission, but you have to buy tickets to go on the rides. Each ride cost from 4 to 6 bucks. Old Town is a long street of stores that looks like it was designed directly after Main Street, USA at Disney.  The shops were mostly t-shirts, beef jerky, and "as seen on TV" type stores, but there was a bit of Florida Tourist Cheese worth turning your head for...

Like this hideous 8 foot tall Marilyn statue:

And this stuffed dog mounted over the entrance door:

busty barmaid statues...

even this awesome haunted house façade...

They tried to mimic Main Street, USA:

complete with a teacup ride:

a carousel:

and a monster truck:

All this only 10 minutes away from the parks, and free admission!... why weren't there more tourists in the area taking in the Christmas Cheese??? 


Please come over to Facebook and "like" our page. We want to join and build a community of like-minded friends. The link is below:

MouseketeerKen and MouseketeerMark

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Day FOUR of the Journey °o°

Another uneventful day. We finally made it through Texas, and have landed in Baton Rouge for the night, to rest before we hit our final 700 miles (give or take) before we arrive in Orlando.

Pongo (our chocolate lab) sleeps through most of the drive, and is not showing any signs of stress, really. We make sure to give him walk and potty breaks, which is a good thing for our comfort as well. One thing I thought we would have trouble with was finding hotel rooms that accepted large dogs.  So far, all of them welcomed him.  The extra charge however, ranged from $10 to $25.

We are both getting a little tired of fast food. It seems like the "healthiest" food available on the road has been barbeque... At least its not deep fried first!

So, tomorrow we will arrive in Orlando around 5pm, if everything goes well; i.e. we leave early enough, traffic and weather cooperates, and we don't take too many stops.  Our first task is to find an extended stay hotel in a decent area so that we can land there for a week and not have to worry about paying full hotel rates. We will still need to unload the U-Haul trailer into the extended stay room (ugh), because the trailer needs to be returned by Monday the 16th to avoid additional charges, and I doubt we will have a house or condo rented by then.

Meanwhile, we are both looking forward to the end of this grueling part of the journey (5 days of driving!), and beginning step 1: finding a place to live!


Please come over to Facebook and "like" our page. We want to join and build a community of like-minded friends. The link is below:

MouseketeerKen and MouseketeerMark

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day TWO of the Journey °o°

... was uneventful...  and long..   and we expect that today will be more of the same because we will be crossing Texes for 8 to 10 hours.  At least the weather is gorgeous, and the roads are flat. Traffic was only bad one time when we got into El Paso, but that was during their rush hour, and it was just slowed to 40 mph for about 5 miles.  Can't complain about that.

Pongo has adjusted very well to travel. He sleeps comfortably in the back seat.

More later as we get even closer!


Please come over to Facebook and "like" our page. We want to join and build a community of like-minded friends. The link is below:

MouseketeerKen and MouseketeerMark

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sorcerer Mickey Antennae Ball to Lead the Way.... °o°

See this little guy? This Sorcerer Mickey antennae ball was a gift from Mouseketeer Phil who asked us not to put it on the truck's antennae until the day we left Phoenix, and Mickey would lead us safely to the Magic Kingdom. We decided that Mickey may be making a few appearances as we cross the country. Keep an eye out for him as he will be making these special appearances primarily on the Facebook page "Living a Disney Life"!


Please come over to Facebook and "like" our page. We want to join and build a community of like-minded friends. The link is below:

Hugs to all of our new and old MouseketeerFriends,

MouseketeerKen and MouseketeerMark

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Day ONE On Our Journey °o°

We did it. We have completed all tasks and jumped through all the hoops of selling the house, purging what we no longer needed, and packed up everything. Now the next obstacle facing us is the TWO THOUSAND, ONE HUNDRED and FORTY EIGHT miles that we have to cover to get to our destination!

We've said our goodbyes, gave our hugs and kisses, and shed our tears, and we finally hit the road.

7 days ago, this is what we were facing:

16 feet of trailer and a garage full of boxes and bins.
3 days later, we had reached about 50% capacity. We were taking our time and we were feeling fine!

At the end of the 6th day, the day before the Pod was scheduled to be picked up, we were packed from head to toe, side to side. That was a modern marvel of packing engineering to get all that in there!
Alas, we had to say goodbye to a few items that just could not fit...
- The firepit.
- The 2 full length lounge chairs and their cushions.
- The "haunted" dollhouse (a doll house that I built and painted to be a haunted house. Don't worry, I have plans to make a bigger one!  The next one will be three stories!).
- All of the camping gear.
- An antique vanity (didn't want it anyway, and we were able to sell it for $40 at the last minute!).
- A 3-drawer dresser from Ikea (gave it to a couple who needed a dresser for the newborn's nursery).
- Quite a few odds and ends that we just could not force in.
I am in charge of my own destiny!!!!
Later that day I received a call from our real estate agent saying that the sale had been recorded, which meant that everything was officially done. The mortgage and equity line of credit was paid off, the agents were given their piece of the pie and all other fees were settled. By the end of the afternoon our left over profit was deposited into our checking accounts.
As we were finishing up last minute cleaning, the new owner popped in for a final inspection. Everything went just fine, and I officially handed the key over to her personally in a small little symbolic gesture; "from the previous owner to the new one; I hope you enjoy many years of living in our old home".
 We wrapped it all up, and I locked the door one last time:

....  and, below... our final look back at the house as we were driving away, at 4233 N. 2nd Drive.  Thanks for memories, little house.. Thanks for keeping up safe for the last 13 years!


Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Don't forget to "like" our Facebook page so that we can communicate even more "The Great Mouse Move" details with you, and you with us! 
Mouseketeer Ken and Mousekteer Mark

Friday, December 6, 2013

Follow Your Bliss (a blogging RERUN) °o°

This was originally posted in April of 2012, and remains one of my favorite posts that we have written. I wanted to share it with all of our new readers now that we are just a few days away from our actual move. 

Ken and Mark

“Listen with your heart, you will understand.” -- Pocahontas

Why SHOULDN’T we move to be near Disney?

Many times the first response I hear when I tell someone we’re moving to Florida to be near Disney is an outright laugh, or a snort.  That’s ok, I don’t mind it, sometimes I even think it sounds like an odd decision.

There was an author and orator by the name of Joseph Campbell who appeared in interviews on a PBS series and later published the transcripts called “The Power of Myth”, who coined the philosophical term “Follow Your Bliss”.  The phrase has permeated pop culture, and most people are aware of it; but most aren’t aware of the rest of what he was saying.  He said:

“Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else." 

This philosophy touches me deeply and causes me to reflect on what I find blissful in my life.  These are things I return to time after time.

  • Disney
  • Theatre
  • Art and drawing
  • Reading
  • Love
  • When Mark gets home from work
  • When our dog rests his head on my lap
  • Christmas
  • Halloween
  • Mashing any combination of these things into one!

I don't think very many of us follow our bliss.  We may visit it as a hobby, or we may be too frightened to disrupt what we already know.  As an experiment, I took the words “your bliss” and replaced them with the word “Disney”.  Now it reads:

“Follow Disney. If you do follow Disney, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of Disney, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow Disney and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. If you follow Disney, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else." 

Who is say that Disney does not qualify as “bliss”?  Mark and I both find happiness and fulfillment from everything that Disney has to offer, on a daily basis.  It’s not just amusement parks, or animated movies. It’s a sense of community, a feeling of nostalgia, the longing to share those feelings with other people. Snort all you want my friend, but the signs were there all along.  You won’t snort when you want a place to stay when you come to Disney World on vacation, and we have a spare room for you!

What is your bliss? What is your passion? What makes you happiest in life?  Are you following it?  Please comment.

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Don't forget to "like" our Facebook page so that we can communicate even more "The Great Mouse Move" details with you, and you with us! 

Mouseketeer Ken and Mousekteer Mark

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Vision for the Future °o°

When we began this blog, it started as a vehicle to document our path in detail as we relocate to Orlando to be near Disney World, as well as to start a new life in a new environment.  As the months progressed, and now as we approach the actual move date, the reason for the blog will have to evolve.

We have been thinking about ways to expand the topics that we write about, always with a thought of how Disney is always in our lives, even when we are not at the parks. 

After a good year of following other relocation blogs, Disney fan sites, and Disney-dedicated Facebook pages, we started to see that we can fit in there somewhere and bring Disney "through our eyes" to our friends, family, and extended community. I don't know how much Disney news I would ever get first hand knowledge of, but I DO know that both Mark and I love aspects of the Disney parks that are often overlooked.  We get so excited when we see something new pop up somewhere, and we follow all of the stages of growth when they announce a new attraction or area.

Mark wants to document his growth as a Chef, and if it's in the cards for him to work for the Disney Company, he will want to share his experiences. He knows he will be starting someplace at the bottom, just starting out, but he also knows he's GOOD at what he does, and will progress quickly.

Marks' dream job at Disney is to be front and center; something he is very good at.  His number one postion is to be a ride operator, followed by parade performer with a special dream of being a part of the show that  welcomes guests to the park first thing in the morning (even though I know from experience that he is NOT a morning person!).  As for a regular job, he wants to find a position as a Chef in a trendy restaurant in the area that caters mostly to locals, and not to tourists if possible. Here in Phoenix we have a number of independently owned restaurants (The Culinary Dropout, The Arrogant Butcher, Windsor, etc.) that we both love and we hope to find similar ones in Orlando.

Personally, I don't have a burning desire to work for the parks. I'm an office drone, so I wouldn't mind working in some Administrative role for the company, but only if that's in the cards for me. I hope to find a position for a local company and hopefully not a nationwide call center.

As for my DREAM DISNEY job?  My friends and family know that I am an artist, but I never pursued it professionally. Something I regret, but hey... live with no regrets, right????  So, my dream job would be to work in their prop shop manufacturing park items, or on their Resort Enhancement Team. Outside of that, I would like to be able to license my own Disney themed art designs at the parks and their galleries. Most of my art work is Disney themed, anyway.

I mentioned in previous postings that we have been thinking about how this blog can continue AFTER we have made the move. Now that we are beginning to attract readers as we approach the one-week-before-moving date, I still want to be able to bring a perspective of "Living a Disney Life" post-relocation.  Well, we will be taking suggestions of course, but I see being able to share our discoveries with you as we experience them on a daily/weekly basis. This is the first time that I have ever moved to a new state in my adult life, and I suspect that are many people who have never done that either.  I have lived in the Phoenix Metropolitan area since 1984 (!), and I expect that I have major changes coming my way!

We want to bring Disney culinaire to you as we experience new restaurants and cafés.  We want to bring photos of Celebration to you, the town that Disney built. As I mentioned earlier, as new things pop up in the parks, I want to share them right away... I have always devoured those bits of Disney news when I found them online or on my Facebook newsfeed. I am also a fan of small details, so you can expect to see photos of hidden objects, or areas from the park. One of my favorite photo subjects is the areas of a ride that are hidden from view, or sneaking a flash photo in a dark ride.  I hope to share with you our first run-in with an alligator; something I'm both dreading and strangely intrigued by. I will also be updating our progress on purchasing a home in the area, and how we upgrade and remodel to our preferences... though, I promise not to focus the blog on D.I.Y, too much!  Lastly, being a gay couple, part of our (Disney) world view will often include that perspective.

In short, I have so many more things that I hope to explore and share. I hope you will be along with us on the ride.

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Don't forget to "like" our Facebook page so that we can communicate even more "The Great Mouse Move" details with you, and you with us! 

Mouseketeer Ken and Mousekteer Mark


Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Invasion of the POD °o°

The POD has arrived! The weather is spectacular, and if we get a lot done in the next 3 or 4 days, each day will be gorgeous, with highs reaching only 74 degrees.  Wednesday is expected to start a cool-down with highs reaching 55 degrees, but I still can't complain too much! There is no rain in the forecast.

It's been days of research, worry, and anxiety.. Is the Pod company reliable?  Will they deliver and pick up on time?  After a couple dozen phone calls and inquiries we settled on They were not the cheapest service at $3200, but they offered the best services in terms of monthly rate, delivery flexibility, and size. We have a lot of stuff, even after purging so much over the last 9 months.

(Remember the boxes of books from the Facebook page... here they are in the Pod.)

Anxiety has not gone away, however. Boxes and bins are easy to fit in there... its the furniture and oddly shaped items that take up extra space like the Adirondack chairs, the bench, metal firepit, and office desk. Packing some things too tightly will just damage them in the long haul from Phoenix to Orlando, so we are trying to pack smart.

We will also have the POD picked up 2-4 days BEFORE we actually vacate the house, so we are not packing up the few things that we will need to later fit in the bed of the truck like the all-important television, video games, DVDs and a couple of chairs.. and the air mattress.

If we can't fit everything in the POD and the truck, the back-up plan is to rent a tow-bar and a Cargo Trailer. They can be rented locally for 7 days for about $200-$300 bucks which is FAR better than a small POD unit which would add another $500-$1000.  Here is hoping I reduced enough and estimated the size we need correctly.

As a bonus to the pictures I added above, click on the short 5-minute video below to see the delivery guy transfer our POD from his truck to our driveway... it's pretty COOL to watch and it kind of like waching Transformers part 4! Add your own cool Transforming sound effects!

The next video is how they pulled the rig away from the Pod in the driveway.  It's about 2 minutes long. It's like watching those Big Rig videos when you were a kid. Very impressive in person.

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Don't forget to "like" our Facebook page so that we can communicate even more "The Great Mouse Move" details with you, and you with us! 

Mouseketeer Ken and Mousekteer Mark

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An Offer on the Table °o°

Last night we got a call from our real estate agent... a cash offer on the house for $4000 less than our asking price of 144 thousand. Now, I don't want to jinx anything, because there is paperwork to complete, inspections to pass, repairs to be made, and any number of loopholes to close up, but if this sale goes through they have asked us to vacate the house by December 16th, exactly 4 weeks from yesterday. It's close to official, but still too early to pack up the toothbrush and deoderant.

Let me rewind a bit, for anyone join catching up recently and haven't read a year's worth of blog postings...

3 years ago Mark and I were talking about the future and where it might lead us. Mark is an Army veteran, having served in Iraq, and was just about to begin life as a full-time student through Culinary School. We first thought about moving to Colorado, but after more discussion it hit us that it was a no-brainer for two like-minded, life-long Disney fantatics should move to be near our favorite thing in the world.. Disney World.

Fast forward three years...

There were tough challenges and obstacles along the way for both of us to face, but Mark officially graduated in September, and we agreed that that would be the time we put the house on the market.  This was the culmination of three years of planning, budgeting for the relocation, socking money away, working over-time, and hard studying to pass difficult classes.

It took far longer to get the house ready that I imagined it would.  Instead of just 3 or 4 weeks, it was 10 weeks of painting, minor repairs, and cleaning but it was finally done (except for some small details), and we listed on November 14th.

We got our first call to show the house early the next morning.  The process of showing a house to prospective buyers is not difficult, but it is time consuming. We have a boisterous chocolate lab, so any time someone wants to see the house, we asked for 1 hour's notice, so that we can stage everything nice and pretty, and take the dog out of the house so they can look around and kick the tires comfortably.

For the last 4 days, we have had 5 showings, so each time we were swiffering floors, wiping down sinks, pulling back curtains, turning on nearly every light in the house, hiding the dog beds under the couch, emptying trash pails, setting up soft background music and lighting nice vanilla cookie scented candles.  I mean to tell you, we are exhausted after all of that, and sometimes, we can't even tell if the buyer was finished or not (we would leave before they arrived, and could not tell if they had come in and left, or had not yet arrived 30 minutes later).

It turns out that the first person to view the house on Friday morning, is the same as the one who came the next Monday, for a second viewing. We had an offer that evening, we accepted their terms and now the house is "on-hold" (in escrow) while we wait.

We had been dreaming for months, even years... you can plan and stratege until you are blue in the face, but it can all change in the blink of a withdrawn sale offer.  Now, we wait for the 10-day inspection period to pass, and we will be able to secure a moving pod.

Next post I will write a little bit about our vision for the future... both living in Florida, near Disney World, and for this blog. I hope you will stay tuned, and will follow along with us.. we want you to join us on the ride!


Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Don't forget to "like" our Facebook page so that we can communicate even more great Mouse details with you, and you with us! 

Mouseketeer Ken and Mousekteer Mark

Monday, November 18, 2013

Find us on Facebook °o°

Did you know that we have a Facebook page that is dedicated to this blog and to the smaller details that relate to Living a Disney Life-the blog (as well as living a Disney life)?

Find us on Facebook... we are following our bliss, and moving to Orlando to be near Disney World. Soon we will be bringing the magic to you... Take every step with us!

  1. Do you already live in the Central Florida area and are interested in quality friends?
  2. Do you dream of relocating to the area in order to be near Disney?
  3. Are you just an über-Disney fan that loves to talk Disney even though you don't have plans to relocate?
  4. Are you a GLBT Disney fan (or GLBT friendly), and also fit into category 1, 2 or 3?
Then we wanna be friends with you!

Please come over to Facebook and "like" our page. We want to join and build a community of like-minded friends. The link is below:

Hugs to all of our new and old MouseketeerFriends,

MouseketeerKen and MouseketeerMark

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

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Breaking out of the Holding Pattern °o°

All things happen for a reason, and they happen when it's time for them to happen... good, or bad... right?

Lets hope so.

The blog I have been so passionate about maintaining suddenly went on an unexpected hiatus for the past 8 weeks.  This was a time that I expected to be able to write frequently.. almost daily updates, but it turns out that each day was more painting.  Can you imagine each blog entry?  

Painting Room #1
Painting the Living Room
Painting the Garage
Painting the Trim in Room #2
Painting the Base Boards - part 7
Painting Until I Bleed Paint

That's about the extent of it. Gripping, eh?  Although I think some folks who are following along appreciate some of the home repair/renovation updates, this is not a DIY blog, and so I didn't want it to veer off track so drastically.  It's about documenting our relocation to Disney World; as we "follow our bliss".

SO... we have finally reached a point that I can comfortably return to writing updates. We are finally listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), and are offically for sale as of 11/14.  (If you are interested in seeing Ken and Mark's house, click here for the pictures and details:  Click here: 4233 N 2ND DR, PHOENIX, AZ Property Listing - For Sale - MLS# 5030256 - ZipRealty).  So far, we have had 5 showings, one each day and TWO today. Still waiting for that all-important offer, but our real estate agent has said that a few have contacted her as their clients have expressed interest after viewing. 


Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken and Mousekteer Mark

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Con-Graduations, Chef Mark! °o°

Today is the day that Mark proudly walks across the Orpheum stage to receive his diploma from the Art Institute for Culinary Arts!  We have both been on this journey, but Mark did all of the work required to earn his degree.  I'm so proud that he has faced his fears, and climbed this uphill battle-stumbling on occassion, but never giving up so that he and I can both have a better future. 

You did it, Mark!

Congratulations on your graduation, Chef Mark!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Before and After, a photo blog! Part 1 °o°

This is one of three bedrooms. I had started the wood floor installation several months ago, and pulled a muscle in my back so badly that I had to stop. When Phil arrived, he finished the last 4 feet of glueing, while I did the wood cuts.  Later, I painted and installed the baseboards.


Another section of the room, just under the window:


DONE!  (ready for staging)

The tiny hallway was incomplete for 2 years (!), and had one tile missing from the bathroom.



Now it has a nice bridge piece from the wood floor to the tile, and it just needs a baseboard to be installed.

Next up, the tiny spare bedroom. That can be done in just a couple of days as it only needs one wall painted, and the baseboards installed. Both quick jobs.

Mouseketeer Ken

Book Two, Chapter One... °o°

We've come to the "fast-forward" point of the story, because everything seems to be moving at the speed of light, and here is where we no longer have as much control over the plot as we used to!

Two weeks ago (which was coincidentally the last blog posting I did), I had taken a day off of work to work on the house renovation.  Half way through the day, I received a call from a co-worker/friend.  Instead of checking the voicemail like I should have, I texted her...  and she wrote back telling me I really needed to listen to the message.

Her message told me that at 1 o'clock that Friday afternoon the big bosses pulled all of the employees to one section of the room, and told everyone that beginning immediately, the company would officially cease operations; they had been unsuccessful in securing the funding required to stay open.  100 employees were asked to return to their desks and pack up their belongings... don't even bother touching your computers or answer the ringing phones.

I missed the collective gasp and the tears because I was knee deep in wood planks for the bedroom floor, but I heard all about it over the following weekend. Last week, I was able to go back to work to collect my own belongings and sign a waiver so that I could receive a severance package, but as they say "that's all she wrote!"

In my mind, this is just a different version of how I had expected that chapter to end.  The original plan was that Mark would graduate on September 19, he would go ahead to Florida, I would get the house listed, giving my 2-week notice as soon as the house sold, which we'd hoped would be early November. All of that was flexible, of course depending on Mark finding a job, and how quickly the house sold.  Instead, all of my time will be focused on the move and the home sale... it's just happening a few weeks early, that's all.  It also means that Mark and I can move to Orlando TOGETHER, instead of separately.

Now, the book is going to start writing itself, and I'm sure it will be a cliffhanger with each chaper.  I'll keep you updated as things occur!

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken and Mouseketeer Mark

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Meet the Philbot °o° *•._.•* ‘ *•._.•* °o°

It happened this time of year last year when there was a sudden disappearance of new postings on the blog, mostly because my job is moving into the seasonally busy period.  My company is a flu shot provider, so we start ramping up around this time, and as a supervisor, I am interviewing, training, and Supervising all of our new seasonal help.

However, things aren't just hopping at work! All of the talk that has been going on in the last year to 18 months is finally changing into action, and even though I am working 12 hour days, progress marches on and Mark and I are both determined not to let a small thing like 70 hour work-weeks or culinary school final-exam prep stop us from meeting our goals.

Meet the Philbot:  Long story short, MouseketeerPhil is the person with whom I co-own the house. He has been in my life since 1996, and Mark and I are lucky to be able to call him family as well. Phil moved back home to Rhode Island 2 years ago, and this is his first visit back to Phoenix in all that time. He's back to help whip the house back into shape so we can get it on the market as soon as Mark graduates.

Philbot working on the wood floor. Click to enlarge.

More photos are forthcoming, but Phil has torn the kitchen apart to repaint nearly every square inch that a brush can reach.  We have gone from a cool cactus green to a warm pumpkin with bright white painted cabinets. It's such an amazingly refreshing change in only a couple of days.

I will have the next 4 days off from work (don't ask me what I had to do to get THAT approved), but it will be a whirlwind of paint, wood flooring, scrubbing, nailing, hammering and trimming.  When the dust settles it will be a new house!

These are the biggest tasks on our punch list:

  • Complete the wood floor install in the spare room.
  • Install baseboards in 2 bedrooms.
  • Replace bathroom baseboards
  • Repaint kitchen, bathroom, living room, master bedroom, house exterior, back porch, laundry room.
  • Change out light fixtures.
  • Change out outlet covers (we have brass ones that I want to keep).
  • Start packing up things that don't need to be out (DVD's, CD's, books, etc.).
  • Repaint baseboards that are in the living room.

I'm sure this list will grow if it doesn't kill us first!

To keep things in perspective, here is our current time line:

  • Phil is in town until next Saturday
  • Mark graduates exactly 4 weeks from today. 
  • If all goes according to plan (home prep and repair), we put the house on the market that week as well.
  • We have discussed moving Mark to Orlando with a few weeks of his graduation so that he can set up residency and start applying for jobs. 
  • We wait for the house to sell... then I give my notice and join Mark in Florida.  

Take a deep, cleansing breath!

I promise pictures before the weekend is over...  Keep us in your thoughts,

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Great Disney Art-Swap! °o° *•._.•* ‘ *•._.•* °o°

You may have read in previous postings about me that I consider myself an artist. I would like one day to have some of my work showing, or selling in one of the Disney galleries either off-site or in the parks themselves. My favorite medium is pen and ink, with which I do pointillism. This is something few artists do because it is tedious and time consuming, but I have always found the process hypnotizing and therapeutic, and I found myself getting quite good at it.  I truly love images that include a multitude of Disney characters from different movies which is something you never see in pointillism, but I also love the architecture of the parks and that style was made for architecture.  Here is a shot of my first attempt at a Disney building, The Emporium on Main Street (from Disneyland).

 (click to enlarge)
Lately, I have been trying to branch out from drawing exclusively dots.  I love them, but I love variety, too.  Some time ago, I sat down with a large sheet of drawing paper and composed an ink drawing that I titled “Doodle”, for lack of a better word. That’s all it is really… just on a larger scale, and organized better than most doodles. I have heard that it reminds people of an underwater scene, or bubbles. 

(click to enlarge)

I love this style and I have drawn other versions, playing with the “swirly” aspect, and noticing that it lends itself to a Christmassy, or magic-y look.  Here is what I mean.

(click to enlarge)

Well, for a few years I played around with the design incorporating it here or there, but always unhappy that I could not envision a way to make the design more than a fancy squiggle. Now I have names for the specific styles and a few months ago finally conceived of a way to USE the design as a focal point… 

...but before I share that drawing with you...   let me digress back to the title of this blog posting:  "The Great Disney Art-Swap!"... 

I have a friend who is also a (working!) artist, and she ran a photo captioning contest in which her prize was a credit towards a commissioned art piece (with limitations on size/design). Because she is a good friend of mine, this led me to think, what a GREAT idea it is to commemorate friendships with other artist friends I have. 

Enter my friend, Mouseketeer Sandy! 

(Sandy and Ken at my 40th birthday party)

I met Sandy working for a company that provided services to the Deaf and hard of hearing community. We became work-buddies, starting a daily morning ritual of catching up on Entertainment news and theorizing on how celebrities seem to die in groups of three (a belief I heartily subscribe to). We went our own separate ways, career-wise around 2004/2005 but always remained email and Facebook buddies… continuing our celebrity death-watch (sorry to sound so morbid, but I really do follow celebrity deaths and I will always hold a special place in my heart especially for our classic actors when we lose them).

Well, after our paths separated, Sandy went and found herself a small taste of success with her newly found talent of collage painting.  I followed her milestones over the last couple of years with her Las Vegas art gallery showing at the Wynn and watching her grow along the way. Reading her updates was surreal because I would read about her next commission and think, “wow, I KNOW her, and she is doing what I want to do”.

See her blog and online gallery here:
Then a few months ago, Sandy started posting comments that she her and her family was planning a relocation from the Phoenix area to Colorado, just because she was flat out tired of Phoenix. I immediately realized that she and I were on mirrored paths, about to experience the same bumps and pitfalls and exciting challenges.  The only difference was the destination.  That’s when I knew I had to ask her to create a piece of work for me to commemorate our friendship.

Here are some examples of her orginal work:

I asked her if she would be willing to create a piece for me, in her style that incorporated something Disney related.  I put no other limitations on it. She wrote back right away, saying she loved the idea but instead of charging me, she wrote back that she propose we each do a piece of art for each other.  Since her work is collage oriented, she asked me to mail her a package of bits and pieces that I wanted incorporated, so I sent her an old Disneyland admission ticket, a couple of fast passes, and a map of the park. From there, she worked her magic and we both finished our offerings and we met up at the end to May to unveil and trade the works that we both created with friendship in heart (and a little pixie dust in mind.)

I’m so honored to be able to own a bit of Sandy’s talent, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned above, and will always think of my friend when I stop to look at this beautiful piece of art. Here is the finished product, with a few close-up shots so that my Disney fans out there can appreciate the little hidden gems. Disney magic truly IS in the details.

As usual, please click on the image if you want to enlarge.

Sandy Pieper's version of "Living a Disney Life"

Below are several detail shots.
(Close-up Detail) 
(Close-up Detail) 
(Close-up Detail) 
(Close-up Detail) 

Oh, and because you are still here, reading all the way to the end of the post, here is my artwork that I traded with Sandy. The piece is better in person than in photograph, because it is three dimensional.  The colorful background is watercolor, then the pieces of the Mickey head were cut out of art stock with an exacto knife, and assembled with a piece of balsa wood under each piece to give them dimension. It was all mounted in a shadow box. The finished piece is about 11" x 14". Sorry for the glare.:

(click to enlarge)
And here is the date of the trade:

Thank you Mouseketeer Sandy, we LOVE the new addition to our home and we proudly display it. Here's to BOTH of our families for Living the (Disney) Life, and having the courage to follow our dreams!  I love you.

Comments are welcome. Positive feedback encouraged!

Mouseketeer Ken

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