Second Return from Austin

More executor fun over the past few days. I and my partner and his son and son’s wife spent a long hot weekend in Austin going through Larry’s house, meeting an estate seller and a realtor and a neighbor, and cleaning up the house, mostly to dispose of paperwork (Larry kept paper copies of tax returns and bill receipts and whatnot going back to the 1990s) that might in any way be incriminating. Removing everything personal; taking a few items out of the house that we wanted to keep; and leaving everything else for the estate seller and the realtor.

Unplanned problems appeared: both garage doors were not working (on our last trip in late April one of them was still working), and so we hired a garage door guy who spent the entire day Saturday fixing them. The car, a VW GTI, had a dead battery; it wasn’t a matter of jumping the battery, it had to be replaced.

My partner’s son, Michael, and his wife, Honey, took care of these things — I was very grateful to have them there — while I and my partner were sorting through all of Larry’s paperwork and personal items, trying to de-personalize the house. And it was hot. In Texas.

Going forward, the tentative plan is to have an estate seller clean up and show the house, likely not before mid-July, and after that, put the empty house up for sale. Given that summer is a slow time of year, it might take a few months to sell.

I had planned to have Larry’s car, a 2012 VW GTI, shipped back to us in California, but the shipping company I had contacted several weeks ago, Roadrunner, was never able to meet our preferred date. (Over and over, I explained to them that we were only in town for the weekend, leaving the 9th, and they kept calling back suggesting a truck to pick up the car on the 10th.) So the car is still sitting in the garage of Larry’s house in Driftwood.

I was concerned about disposing of Larry’s books — a very modest preliminary trial for how anyone might dispose of *my* books — and the best I did this weekend was have Austin-area SF collector and dealer Lawrence Person (Lame Excuse Books) over to the house. Larry had a fair collection of SF books, mostly ones that I recommended to him. Naively I thought Lawrence might pack up all of the 400 SF books, but in fact all he did was to pick out three or four dozen selected titles — he was looking for first editions, and author signatures — that filled up only a couple small boxes. Well, that’s fine. Lawrence will find those books better homes than the estate seller, who will dispose — sell or donate — the rest of them. (My backup plan was to take the rest to the nearest Half Price Books, but that would have taken more hours out of our tight weekend schedule. So it didn’t happen.)

And the second concern was about Larry’s bikes. L was an avid cyclist ever since the 1980s, when I met him, and he moved to the Austin area in 2006 after his retirement, partly to have country roads to ride on (even though those roads got much more congested over the years). In the last years of his life his physical health was failing, and so he’d probably not ridden his bikes in the past three years or more. There were three bikes in the garage, or in the house: a Trek, a Felt, and a Litespeed. (That’s the Litespeed in the photo above.) What to do with them? I took photos during our previous trip there in April, and Google-image-searched them, and found sites on eBay and the like that suggested used bikes like those, even though much more expensive new, might still fetch $1500 or more used.

I called the nearest bike shop to L’s house early last week, and explained the situation and the bikes, and the guy on the phone (he was impressed by my mentioning a Litespeed; but I should have gotten his name!!) said yes, bring them in, we can give you a deal. So on Friday we carefully packed the three bicycle into the back of our rental Mazda SUV, and took them to Trek Bicycle Bee Cave, where the guys there said no, they do not take used bikes except as trade-ins. Nor does Bike Farm. They did offer to ship the bikes to me in California, for $80 each. Obviously, I can’t use a trade-in…

It was a very busy weekend. The bikes are still sitting in Larry’s garage. I am debating contacting someone in Austin to ship them to me in Oakland, where I can find buyers; or let them sit in the house for the estate seller to price, sell, or donate.

I am not in it for the money. I’m not out to squeeze every dime out of Larry’s estate. I just don’t want to see his books, or bicycles, be disposed of to people who would not appreciate them.

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