Posts Tagged With: Home

A Weekly Round-up


My favorite red sheets bit it this week.  I probably shouldn’t be surprised.  They were a gift for Brian and my first Christmas together, and that means they’re about 14 years old; well used and very washed.  My whale-like pregnant flailings to get myself out of bed to pee in the middle of the night is what did them in.  I split them down the middle.

I bought a replacement set this weekend.  They are VERY red.  And the cotton has a kind of sheen to it that the other set didn’t have.  They aren’t satin, but I feel like maybe I made a mistake.  “Bordello” is not the style I was going for…  Still, they’re comfy.

This kid has started to push on my stomach to see if he can get himself more room.  I can feel his feet pressing slowly outward beneath my belly button.  I looked down the other day when I was getting dressed to find that I have a lovely new set of stretch marks exactly where he’s been pushing on me.  And just about the right width apart to fit a baby foot in between.

I started following Williams Sonoma on Instagram this week, and it’s been torture.  I now want to make all the things, and I’m realizing that cooking is one of the hobbies I miss the most.  I really don’t have the energy to be on my feet that long these days, though.  I settled for buying one of the delicious lumpy pumpkins from Trader Joe’s this weekend.  Last year we kept one through Thanksgiving for decoration, and then I made it into the best pumpkin butter to give for Christmas gifts.  This one is butter-bound too, though right now it looks excellent on my hearth.

Brian bought an electric lawn mower this weekend, and mowed the lawn.  Our previous mower has been broken for a while.  We aren’t sporting a jungle anymore, which is cause for a big “hooray!” I haven’t had the gumption (or ability to bend over) to weed at all, so the yard doesn’t look as nice as I’d like it to.  But it looks a million times better than it used to.  Brian and I might have it sort-of together after all.

That’s mostly it for this week.  We’re at 41 days and counting until this whole motherhood thing becomes real.  I’m already ready.  Too bad this kid isn’t fully baked yet.

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Finally Fall


I’m feeling fairly unable to write this week.  Probably because I’ve been keeping up a 3,000+ words a day schedule in order to catch up with Nanowrimo (it’s going okay!).  But maybe also because I’m always of the opinion that you shouldn’t be that political on the internet and this week is all about politics of the angry, screamy kind.

So instead, let’s talk home stuff.

This is the season when I get to be more of a homebody than ever.  Brian and I upgraded our couch to a new one (it was more than time), and the new thing is nail head-studded, linnenish, and has these shiny round furniture feet.  Best of all, it has a chaise so Brian and I can lounge all over each other when we’re watching TV.  It matches the dining set we bought last year pretty well, too.  So, basically we’re looking stylish.  I’m already drooling over curtains.

We re-arranged our bedroom last weekend, too.  It feels bigger and more cozy simultaneously.  This house has so much more room than our last tiny apartment, so I raided everyone’s art stash when we moved in (and by everyone’s, I mean my mother’s), hoarded any frames I could get my grubby fingers on, and got creative with fancy paper, posters, internet print-outs, and cut up calendars.  It still wasn’t enough to fill the bedroom.  I remedied that this weekend.  My favorite is a print of a boat on a lake with a starry sky behind it that says “It was beautiful, but difficult, to sail it.” It’s a Tolstoy quote, from Anna Karenina.  I can’t seem to find the translation I used now, but here is the whole quote from a different version:

“At every step he experienced what a man would experience who, after admiring the smooth, happy motion of a boat on a lake, he finds himself sitting in it himself.  He found that it was not enough to sit quietly without rocking the boat, that he had constantly to consider what to do next, that not for a moment must he forget what course to steer or that there was water under his feet… it was pleasant enough to look at it from the shore, but very hard, though very delightful, to sail it.”

It makes me warm every morning, waking up to it.

I have the ukulele out, and I’m learning new Thanksgiving songs.  I’ve been madly scouring the internet for chords to “Plenty to be Thankful For,” from Holiday Inn, but can’t find anything I don’t have to pay for.  We’re having dinner at my house, and I’m making pickles (among other things – but the pickles are new – from Jack-At-A-Pinch’s recipe).  The Roger’s Red grapevine is just starting to turn a little pinkish around one or two of the leaves.  The oranges in the grove across the street are turning bright again, and this means that the stand down the street will have them for sale again soon.  We had the first fire in the fireplace last weekend.

Now if only I can manage to serve the turkey on time this year, my contentment will be complete… (I should clarify that by “I,” I mean I’ll be helping Brian with the timing.  I have large amounts of freak-out when I try and prepare the dead bird for roasting, or attempt to carve the thing, so he’s the official cook, because he’s awesome).

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Life hasn’t been that joyful in our house lately.  I have become the queen of making ragged ends meet, and am trying to buck myself up in the wake of a job search that just seems to stretch forever with no relief.  I fight with myself daily to get myself to write anything.  I’m telling you this because I’d like to talk about the kitten, and I think that’s key to understanding my obsession for this little bit of black and orange fluff.  And it’s definitely an obsession.

Her name is JennyAnydots, (I say like the song), but I have a penchant for yelling “FLOOF!” at her that Brian has started to imitate.   If I catch Dots unexpectedly, she’ll actually respond to that.  And then immediately pretend that she didn’t, of course.  She is The Night, and she responds to nothing.

She follows me around the house so much that I’ve taken to calling her my familiar.

Dots is not only extraordinarily destructive, she’s the joy of my life.  Brian and I were pondering this last night.  I mean, she really is a terror, to the point that you would think she would be unlovable.  She’s mean to the other cats.  She sharpens her claws on the rugs, the new dining room chairs, even the mattress sometimes.  She has been known to climb curtains.  She broke the ancestral depression glass, and the glass pot lid to my only stew-pot. She eats the sponges and gets into the trash. I was woken up at 3 am the other day by a bite to the big toe (which is why she’s not allowed into the bedroom at night anymore).  I was attacked repeatedly this morning from under the new dust ruffle.  She is nearly always in motion.

“What happened to all our glass measuring cups?” Brian asked me the other day.

“What do you mean?” I said, pointing to the two in the cabinet.  “They’re right there.”

“Yes, but didn’t we have, like, a ton of them?”

“Oh, yeah,” I said.  “But we don’t anymore because Dots.”

I’ve lost a few glass bread pans, too.  She’s her own force of nature, and SO BAD.

The truth is that none of the above bothers me a whit.  The more she gets into and breaks, the more I laugh and the more I love that kitten.  She’s so darn happy in her destruction.  She purrs when ripping things to shreds.  She snuffles around in the kitchen, and if I jump at her she will disappear, fluffy black tail trailing behind, into one of the cabinets, peeking her nose out at intervals.  She runs at break-neck speed toward loud noises so as not to miss anything. You can tell when she climbs the curtains that she’s awfully proud of how high she managed to get.  She cuddles so sweetly, if you can manage to convince her to settle down.  The hours she spends scrabbling in the bathtub after the chain on the rubber plug are the joy of my morning.  Who needs pot lids and measuring cups, anyway?  All I need is that deep-throated purr when I rub her chin, or for her to bury her way under the covers so she can sleep next to me.

Sometimes I worry about what this will mean for my future parenting skills.  Sometimes, I worry what this means now for my sanity.  Until I met Dots, I was not the indulgent type.  But even if I didn’t witness the purfull strewing about of trash, or the munching of the sponge, or the shredding of the stash of paper towels, I don’t mind picking up after it.  I’ll even encourage it.

Here is the conclusion I came to the other night: Someone in this house should practice unbridled joy.  Neither Brian nor I are managing it lately, but that kitten sure does.  On my crankiest days, she reminds me that there is a state of mind where silliness is all that matters.  That is well worth worrying about the state of the rug, cleaning up her trash stash, and stretching the budget to afford the small fortune in sponges she eats.  It’s worth sweeping up another pile of glass from the kitchen floor.  Heck, it’s even worth bites to the toes at 3 am.

The other two cats will live on in our hearts as the cuddly lumps they are, but Dots will go down, well loved, in infamy.

FLOOF! (I think it’s a new rallying cry).

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Hugos, Home, and Rejections


There is nothing going on at home this week.  I know.  My life should be more exciting than this.  It’s been over 100 degrees in Redlands, though, and so I’ve been hibernating in the air-conditioning as much as  possible.  A warmed-up dinner, a good book, a cozy husband, and a feisty kitten are the things happiness is made of lately.  And maybe some Doctor Who – Netflix just put up the latest season.  I like Peter Capaldi quite a lot as the Doctor – I liked him quickly too.

I have not felt able to speak much about the Hugo fiasco that has been going on all year.  I’m not in that world and I don’t follow the Fantasy industry as well as I should.  Those authors are mostly unfamiliar to me.  But it did give me a bit of glee to find that competence and diversity won out, and that petty hatred and ballot-fixing did not.  The Guardian has a lovely article on it, if you’re at all interested in the outcome:  Most notably, it seems that the Hugos have maintained their reputation and legitimacy.

It has been a few weeks of rejection (several stories returned), so I’ve been taking it easy on editing the novel.  I keep thinking I’ve become inured to the rejection, and then I get several all at once and I find it’s not actually any easier to take.  Not in large doses.  It’s harder to accept constructive criticism when you’re feeling crappy about it all, hence the snails-pace.  It will all happen eventually.  I’m not terribly worried about it.

And that’s it from the land of Here.  Sometimes no news is good news.

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It’s Official!


We have officially moved in. The house is so quiet, and there is an amazing view from my bedroom window of bushy tree tops with palms rising above them, silhouetted black in the darkness.  The huge July moon peaked from behind patchy clouds last night, leaving a silver aura in the sky.  The mountains are ever present in Redlands, too.  I will round a corner and find myself staring at a vast orange grove, the brown foothills in the distance disappearing to become layers of craggy purple on the blue sky.  At night, the foothills light up like fairy dust.  I predict that I will love this place so deeply in no time at all.  I’m already infatuated.

I’m a total wimp these days.  I used to swing around 30 pound Female Court skirts on the Electrical Parade every night (those wires are heavy!), and then walk a mile or so along the parade route to make sure all the lights were chasing, not blinking, with more heavy lifting waiting at the end.  I am that hardy girl no longer.  This weekend almost killed me.  My back ached with a cold, hollow pain that is so much more than muscle fatigue.  My feet throbbed enough that it woke me up in the middle of the night with a frustrated sigh, which then also woke Brian up.

“What’s wrong?” he asked as I threw my head against the pillow.

“My feet are just throbbing,” I said.

He pulled my feet from under the blanket, drowsy and lazy, and let me drift in and out of sleep as he massaged them. They stopped throbbing. Things like this are why he gets major good husband points. It would have been a good night’s sleep if it weren’t for the nightmares of floating boxes and dire home repairs.  Oh the joys of homeownership…

The cats are also being awesome.  They have never had a house with stairs and they are slinking up and down as if they are sure to be dive-bombed by something nasty, out in the open like that.  They often yowl a satisfied call to the night, but last night they meowed soft loneliness at our bedroom door and didn’t stop until dawn.  When I went downstairs to get a drink from the kitchen, Amy followed me.  Five minutes later, Annie realized that she was alone.  Upstairs in a strange house.  She started crying again, from the fluffy place where she had been cleaning herself on my bed.

“Hey, crazy,” I yelled at her.  “We’re all down here.”  I made kissy noises, and she came trotting down the stairs, the look on her face wide eyed until she saw us.  Then, she became very intent on grooming that tail.

She’s cool.  She doesn’t need company to feel secure at all, obviously.

They both looked at me in horror when I said “goodbye cats and kittens,” and closed the door on them to go to work this morning.  I’m sure they’ll survive.

As I’m sure we’ll all survive, and thrive, in this new place and this new lifestyle. I look around every morning and think “I can’t believe I live here!” I think that’s a good sign.

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Houses, both big and little


I am obsessed with the Tiny House movement lately.  I follow several blogs, a Facebook page devoted to pictures of tiny houses, everything Tumbleweed, and the list is growing by the day.  There is something about that lifestyle that is enchanting.  You can live in a Victorian cottage, but one that’s small and dainty.  It’s on wheels so you can drag it wherever the wanderlust dictates.  They are inexpensive, allowing many people to live debt free and in beautiful places.  I read Thoreau in high school like everyone else.  I want to suck the marrow from life and live deliberately too.

Brian and I have talked many times about not wanting a huge house, even if we could afford it.  We want enough, but no more than that.  The concept of what, exactly, is enough is a nebulous one, but I thought I was committed to non-excess.  We have been looking at houses in the Redlands area for a few weeks now and most of those have been small, generic tract homes.  That is what we thought we would end up with.

There is a plan for an 800+ square foot, 3 bedroom house on the Tumbleweed Homes website.  The B-52.  I’ve been dreaming about living in that house for a long time.  I would hire a carpenter to build everything into the house like I was living on a boat.  I would add a basement for a full laundry room and canning/root cellar area so I can be a homesteader with a huge vegetable garden somewhere outside.  Brian and I would raise our small family all on top of each other on a plot of wild land somewhere.  We would be free, and we would be happier.  Like the Ingalls family.  Green tomato pie and dancing on haystacks fill my daydreams.

This weekend I watched a documentary on Netflix about a guy, no prior building experience, who built his own tiny house in his parent’s backyard and then moved it to several gorgeous acres in the desert.  His girlfriend helped him, and it was this magical bonding experience.  There were so many interviews with other people living in tiny homes along the way.  I was left a little sad at the end of it all; not the reaction I expected.

I don’t know when, but eventually I realized that these people were living in roughly the space of my living room rug.  Well planned? Yes.  But Brian and I often feel cramped in our 600+ square foot apartment.  A lot of the problem is that we are not clean people.  Our last apartment was 400+ square feet that was always trashed, full of stacks of books and dirty dishes.  In 400+ square feet I would forget to hang up my jacket and the whole house would feel messy, because everywhere I looked there were things out of place.  One trip out of the litter box for the cat and bits of clay were spread over the entire kitchen and into the living room because they were so close together.  That was when we were behaving ourselves.  A single craft project could trash the place for weeks.  It was disheartening.

Besides my inability to be a model housekeeper, I am infamous in the plant world for my black thumb of death.  I kill the kind of plants people tell me are impossible to kill.  Houseplants, you say?  Those don’t have a chance.  I kill cacti.  I kill air plants.  I am sure that I am perfectly able to gain some rudimentary gardening skills (after all, my mother has them).  I’m equally sure that the journey is long and arduous between green reaper and homesteader extraordinaire.

And then there is the conundrum of land itself.  Have you priced land lately?  It’s so expensive!  I suppose we could build the on-wheels type of tiny home and circumnavigate some problems, but we wouldn’t be able to get permits to build anything more permanent until we owned the land.  My B-52 is not possible right now.  Brian and I priced it all out one night and found that it wouldn’t be any cheaper to live in a tiny house when all was said and done.  Maybe it would be cheaper than a mansion on the hill, but it would be about the same as our modest rent in our small apartment.

I realized also, that I really like the things that debt gives me: my elite college education, my glossy white car; the possibility of a beautiful house near orange groves with plenty of room for our family to grow.  I want Netflix, and a Target within 20 minutes of the house.  I want to be able to pick up dinner on the way home.  I can have a corgi like the one in all the blogs I follow online.  We can take pictures of them and Photoshop foam weapons into their little paws and make them run, their little stumpy legs bounding.  I can schlep groceries in my little green fiat.  I can start with not killing tomatoes, or something, and work my way up to a whole garden.  I can remember how much a loathe to quilt.

We made an offer on a house in Redlands.  The house is a block from the university on a cul-de-sac and the yard is big and weedy.  There is a vast and beautiful orange grove just three blocks away.  The house is also big at 1700 square feet.  I will have 3 toilets to pee in, if I want to.  The kitchen is HUGE.  It’s wonderful; everything I ever wanted and never thought I would get.  But here I am, the champion of enough and no more, jumping on the biggest house I can afford.  That surprised me.  It made me realize (again) that the stories I tell myself about who I am are often bunk.

But there is something about that house (that cozy, cozy house) that makes me want to cuddle up in front of the fireplace on a rainy day, and live the Tiny House Brand, semi-rural life with plenty of elbow room to spare.  Brian has already drawn up plans for our vegetable garden.  If everything goes through as it’s supposed to, I expect to be a very happy debt ridden lady.

Cross your fingers for us, okay?  We still have a lot of inspections and negotiations to go through.

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