Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Getting the keys

June 2010

In June I got the keys. The keys!

I like to think that I'm a mature person. I did, indeed and in fact, read every document and ask lots of questions and run lots of numbers during the entire mortgage loan process, the inspection, and the last nerve-wracking flurry of paperwork, the walk-through, and the signing. But closing day was inner child time. I had to prevent myself from skipping like a third-grader out of the bank.

A small thing. A symbolic thing.
It is also true, however, that we dream in the stratosphere and get our hands dirty in the here and now. I decided to make the purchase in April, and my imagination went into overdrive:
  • I bought a sofa without knowing how big my living room really was.
  • I spent hours browsing for area rugs for floors I didn't yet own.
  • I stockpiled curtains, secondhand furniture, and thrift store finds in a corner of my apartment.
  • I shopped for lamps. (I buy ugly lamps, remember?)
  • I ransacked the paint chip displays at Lowe's.

I was pretty sure that I'd unlock the front door, waltz in, spread some paint around on some walls, plant some petunias out front, the place would be adorable, my problems would be over, and I'd be, all glossy magazine like, hosting some party while holding a swanky looking drink in my swanky living room.

Reality is more complicated. There were the reasons I bought the house:

Linen closets in both upstairs and downstairs.
Corner cupboards in the dining room.

Beautiful oak fireplace.
Period light fixtures.

Then there were the other things:

Once the first plumbing leak (yes, this is foreshadowing) was found, the wall was toast.

They either kept goats in here or sacrificed them. Maybe both. 

Did I buy the house? Yes. Do I love it? Yes. But...... There are some really, really gross things about this house too. Time to get to work (after a very, VERY large and therapeutic glass of wine....).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A little lamp lunacy

October 2011

It's says so, right down there in the corner on my blogger profile: I buy ugly lamps. Or at least, I buy lamps that other people consider ugly. Friend Kristy has this expression she tossed off on a recent antiquing foray: "I will try to be supportive." Though at the time she was commenting on one of my other obsessive compulsive disorders (junk costume jewelry) people often say this and similar things to me about my lamp lunacy. I'll just say that I tend not to like any lamp made after about 1978, when people's tastes went completely safe, boring, and brass finish.

Combine that with my curbside shopping habit and my wee problem with spray paint, and you have my last lamp adventure. My twins Ben and Joe share a room in the new (old) house and the theme, if you can call it one, is sort of "navy blue/travel/masculine/plaid" with the influence of mid- to late- Lego disaster (their contribution). The bedroom came with an L-shaped built in desk (more on that in future posts). I was looking for a lamp that would a) look cool b) survive two seven-year-old boys, c) come in under $20.

This is what I found laying in the gutter on my way to work one morning:
Lovely, no? 
Yep, the gutter. 

But it was free, and it worked. (Note: In the near background you can see the weirdo pink painted drawers of a dresser I found in the basement. Another blog post for another day. Same sort of 'sow's ear, silk purse' sort of category.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

An entry introducing a checkered past...

I’ve lived in my house for six months now. Considering my house is over 70 years old, it seems a bit early to be bragging. The ink is hardly dry on the mortgage. But there’s been a lot that’s gone on in that time. A lot of appliance delivery (this involves jumping up and down and maniacal giggling), plumbing disasters (alternations between abject weeping and sailor cursing), shopping (Etsy, you have led me astray, but if felt SO GOOD.), muttering (did they have to paint the bathroom purple….with flat paint???) and daydreaming (Ima gonna finish that side attic into the woman’s lair of my dreams….)

But that’s the cranky collision with my personality and this blog. I’m only getting started with it, and yet I’m already well into the adventure I’m trying to document. Don’t you want to skip chapters when a book is sooooooo good? I do.

Same here. I’m going to skip around a bit, so we can get to the good parts, and to provide a bigger variety than a) got my radon inspection waiver signed, b) scheduled my closing……yaaaaaaaaawwwwwwn. I’ll catalog these bits with a timeline at the beginning, and as we approach real time the skipping around will taper off. Those who are wed to strict chronology and starchy drawers are going to suffer a bit following this blog. You’ve been warned. Now let’s go have some fun.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ever notice “what the hell” is always the right decision?

They brag about liquid make-up concealing flaws. Not so much.

In my search for a home, I started out with two things: a depressingly tight budget in a town not known for cheap real estate, and a sort of dreamy idealism. This is not a good combination. It is in fact grounds for a head smack. I couldn’t do anything about the budget, but the idealism I could rein in with large doses of practicality, obsessive worry, and blunt assessments of my prospects. And when all else failed, I resorted to bouts of hysteria and stubbornness.

I’d done this before. There was the first house, the Arts and Crafts bungalow in Michigan that had a fabulous telescoping back yard where I grew buckets of tomatoes and armloads of peonies and lady’s mantle. There had been the 4 bedroom 2.5 car attached garage Beige-O-Matic in Subdivision-Land, where I made great friends and drank great (and much) wine but loathed the generic-looking rooms, the white vinyl floors and builder’s grade everything. Then there was the dark and depressing 1970s colonial, chosen for lack of better options in a tight market, which turned out to be the harvest gold stage upon which my marriage failed.

This time, I wanted to get it exactly right. This time, I wanted and needed a recipe made up of one part memory, one part new beginning.

On the doorstep of a new life

It took me a long time to be standing here, at this door, on this welcome mat. MY welcome mat. In the course of just a few years, I moved back to the Midwestern college town I’d done most of my growing up in, became a writer, left a marriage that was no longer an equal partnership, and then lived a few wickedly confused years divorcing, living with mom (eek!), living in an apartment, and struggling to find a place to call my own. That’s a run-on sentence, I know, but that was how my life was. I lived a run-on life.

With four boys and the shaky beginnings of a something most people refer to as “the rest of my life” (holy cow, I can’t even figure out how to get through today), there needed to be a place for it all to unfold. Somewhere I could leave my shoes under tables (a habit of mine), sew until I curse (a hobby of mine), and shovel dirt around the yard (a stress reliever of mine). I needed a place where my boys could yell, sleep, toss socks and spill milk. I needed a house. I needed a home.

I found one. Or it found me. Probably a little of both.

Either way (or both), in June of 2011, I turned the key to a 1930’s colonial revival cape cod cottage.

Now, in November 2011, I’m creating a blog to document a story that has only just begun—one that I suspect will involve a random and wonderful assortment of things, spray paint and late nights and wine on the porch and local history and shopping in flea markets. Welcome to my doorstep. Welcome to my home.