To Google "curtains on palladium windows." It's some mean, mean stuff going on there, I tell you.
But I have a palladium window thing going on in the bun's room and I really needed some ideas. Mostly my searching has led me to what I do not want, but there was one image that I thought might work. It's kind of a sweet look (for a bedroom).
<div><a href='http://www.houzz.com/photos/2449555/Wye-Island-traditional-family-room-dc-metro'><img src='http://st.houzz.com/simgs/30f18c9c00f1daeb_8-7074/traditional-family-room.jpg' border=0 width='500' height='334' /></a></div><div style='color:#444;'><small><a style='text-decoration:none;color:#444;'
I have also seen some where a roman shade is made to incorporate the rounded part of the window, but that would also mean it's entirely blocked all the time. The light! The light!
So, all that to say, I'm not sure where I will end up. I plan to measure for blinds this weekend and I have already ordered sample blinds to pick the right color to match the trim. I plan to order blinds for the 2 windows in the Bun's room and for the master bathroom and bedroom. The rest I will hold off on. I think the den might end up with roman shades. And maybe the Bun's room will end up with just curtains and maybe those light blocking window panels? I just am at a loss with that one window and that window is going to drive the bus up there - one of the palladium windows has the typical sash below it where you could install a shade. The other one has a kind of faux sash about halfway down, oh heck, it's not like I even know what I'm talking about and I'm sure I am massacring window treatment terminology and making people cringe - here:
See? Total mess of a situation right there. Picture it without green walls and without that carpet, please. It kills me to show you it like this but my access is limited due to the floor work. (Insert happy dance of progress!)
Okay so last time I posted a status update I was floored by how differnt the space looked with paint. This update is not like that. My appliances were delivered this weekend and it was a bit hit or miss. Let's start with the pictures:
The range. She is gorgeous.
The fridge. He is stunning.
Oh, wait, what's that...you wanted a washer and dryer here? Ha! Silly girl. The ones you ordered will not fit. Not without routing the vent through the back wall and removing the drip tray and doorsill and leaving behind all hope of even closing a door in front of them. Sigh.
The delivery guys were entirely unhelpful. They first were over an hour early. Then they put the machines int he dining room, saying the painters had told them not to install them because they had not painted the closet yet. Yeah...not having that floor painted at all, so...no. And besides, it's not like the painters were going to install these. So I told them to take them up. Then they go into the vent issues with me, on and on about how I needed more vent length. So I said, "fine, put them in the master bedroom so at least they are up the stairs." That's when they broke out their tape measures and told me they would not fit. So I told them to take them back. Leaving them in my dining room is not going to help anyone.
Not a great experience. Made less great by the fact that upon further review of my receipt, I had paid for "Protection Pack" which included 8 feet of extra duct. I swore a bit at this point. Then I refused to think about laundry appliances for 3 days.
Best 3 days this week, because since then I have been going back and forth and back and forth on what to get. It seems that new regulations have made manufacturers stop making compact dryers that are vented. They are all condensation dryers now. Which is great, if you have no vent. But I have a vent and the vented dryers universally work better. So, who can sell me a last year's vented dryer. The jackasses who messed it up this time can. 2 choices: Miele or Bosch. I went back and forth and back and forth.
Then I called another guy about a Blomberg. They make one, too. As does GE. The GE is not greatly regarded, The Blomberg is not widely known. The Bosch is not a model with great online reviews, but people like te Axxis sets in general. The Miele is wicked expensive.
I am stuck. And I have decision fatigue.
I told you here that I was ordering a bunch of knobs and pulls. Well, I actually wussed out on that and only ordered the plain old knobs from Restoration Harware. The idea of drilling new holes and patching old ones x 40 was kind of bringing me down...
So, the knobs came and I did a dry run at home, and without much insight at all gathered from that I went to the new house (totally forgot to take pictures) and put the knobs on the actual drawers. I also took the leftover knobs from when I did this exercise to HH2. Why? Because during the dry run the Bun actually, seriously, lobbied me to believe that she would be unable to open cabinets with any knobs other than the ones she was used to.
She even deployed logic, or sorts, and feigned inability to muster the strength to use the Restoration Hardware rectangular knobs. Man, for a 7 year old kid, she had strong feelings about those knobs. And, damnit, if she wasn't right. The Resto knobs were too shiny and fancy for the shaker cabinets. The stainless steel thumbprint knobs we have now were actually perfect in terms of color, scale and projection.
So then I had to find them again. Not so easy, but I think these are them:
I ordered one and we will see.
7 year old design prodigy? Nah, just stubborn kid who has had it up to here with change.
Two exciting pieces of news:
#1 - our microwave/hood does vent! Who knew? Ed did...
#2 - as a result I put the kibosh on buying a new over the range microwave. I might be able to find a place in the kitchen for the micro to live, and then I will get a real range hood. Thrilling, I know. I have not ordered anything yet since I want to keep my options open for a bit. You know, get moved in and see how that kitchen is working. If counter space is at a huge premium, perhaps I will go over the range with the micro after all. But now I have options!
Of course, this news led JWH to ask if we should reconsider our stove purchase. I said no, since while we did go with a range that was rated as safe for a non - venting hood, it's still more than enough stove for us. And I fear the others are even more expensive/ridiculous...
On that note, we got this:
Let's just discuss the price in these few words: so much money that they felt the need to throw in a $1500 dishwasher free with purchase. There. Done. Moving on.
We also needed a fridge, as you may recall. Having handles being considered a bare minimum, right? Well we ended up with a fridge from a brand we had never even heard of (Blomberg), with features we did not need or even believe in (a blue light to keep produce fresher???). But it was pretty (and it was larger inside that the Fisher & Paykel that we thought was our only option - so we are not total fools):
See the blue light? I will keep you posted on the status of my cherry tomatoes going forward.
You will be glad to know that we did come to our senses at the tail end of our appliance journey (fatigue set in) and get the cheapest, least bells and whistles washer and dryer combo. I mean, it's laundry...I do not need to program my own settings. I can hit 3 buttons rather than one. I am not that harried of a housewife, certainly. If you are, I apologize for seeming dismissive of your plight. But if you believe you need the time savings of "my settings" on your washer, we cannot be friends. It's a no.
This picture shows 2 of each. I have no idea why. Our restraint in the laundry department extended to only purchasing one washer and one dryer. Call me economical.
And there you have it. Install to come and, I'm sure, pictures of the kitchen at that point. And the laundry closet. Thrilling, thrilling stuff. I know.
I have learned a lot about heating and cooling, I tell you what. Mostly I learned all the reasons I could not get the 3rd floor of HH2 to be it's own zone. Forget having zones on all 3 floors. Hahahaha. That was the hvac guy laughing at me. Still, I do not give up easily, so for an hour I said, "what about this?" and the guy said, "well... maybe, but you'd have to do this..." and on and on into a death spiral of bad choices. Stuff like:
You get the idea. It was ugly. But the guy also told me that if we did nothing at all and just replaced the furnace and the condenser, it would work. But the first floor would be very, very cool when the third floor was still really quite warm. I did not want to shiver in my house in summer so that the Bun was not cooking up there. Same for winter, I suppose, but at least then you can crack a window for relief in the attic.
Did you know that you can't simply close vents on one floor or area either - as a way to regulate the temp? Nope. Overloads the system and burns out the motor. Yeah. Do not want.
But, in typical fashion, I hounded the guy enough, peppering him with "what ifs" that we landed on a brilliant solution: the FIRST floor will be it's own zone. Easy peasy. The duct work lends itself to that, with only a little bit of moving to get a damper in there. And then they install an "air dump" so that if the system is just cooling of heating one zone and not both, the extra air can vent off into the basement and not burn out any motors.
Success! I cannot believe these are the things that excite me. And I despair at what block of data this new learning has displaced in my aged brain. Long division. I think it's that. I lost adding fractions years ago. Probably when I learned about the rules to venting a plumbing stack.
I have been somewhat obsessing over appliances. We need a new fridge.
And the stove and microwave work but are fugly and old.
Oh, and the washer/dryer situation?
I know these are terribly and blurry iPhone photos. But, really, like that lot would look any better with the fancy camera?
I also know that we will not reno this kitchen. I just know it. Kitchens cost a LOT to reno and after the rest of this house is done up, I think we will have reno fatigue. And we don't even cook much, so we just need it to be clean and light and have good storage. In the last house we doctored up a kitchen - adding new counter tops and an island and new knobs and appliances. And, you know what? Whenever I mentioned that we planned someday to reno the kitchen, people thought we already had. No one looks past the veneer of modernity. No one cares. And as long as the cabinets are good qulity (they are: hardwood), then I think we will be very hard pressed to justify a full rip it out and do it over.
So, the veneer, again, will be tweaked. The knobs, you know about. The fridge, as I have said, is no brainer (do you see how it's even missing a handle???). The stove and microwave, though? Ugh. The over the range microwave is not our favorite look. I sing that Elvis song ... "in the ghettooooo" when I think about it. I really do. Very silly I know. But I just don't dig the look.
But I am stuck with it. Sure, I could install a (fake, it's not vented) hood and then put the microwave on the counter, but ugh! The counter! The clutter will kill me. The toaster oven and coffee maker are all I can take. Really. I have limits. And a fake hood is not much better use. Some would call it a waste of space...
So I started Googling around at over the range microwaves in nice kitchens. And (here is where the over thinking comes in) I noticed something. They look okay when (get this) there is no visible handle and the range is a slide in with no control panel on the back. Yes, I am nut, I know. But look!
So, all that to say, I think it's gonna be alright. Alright, alright, alright, alright. Yes, I am now singing OutKast. Dork. I know. I totally know.
While I still love the Spaghetti lamp, I have sinking fears that it will not work in HH2's dining room. I have swelling hope, though, that it will one day hang in the front entry.
That said, what will hang in the dining room? Those of you who perused my keep.com collection might know the answer. I have a near obsession with these lights:
(a DIY kit that makes you a Lindsay Adelman lamp!)
I'm very undecided at this point. I'm leaning toward the Lindsay Adelman kit since it is simple and cool and casual. We will see!
I just spent $284 on switchplates.
There should be a support group for that. But, really, the plates and outlet covers at HH2 are all manner of brown and gross. Some I think were purposely bought in "almond" and others have discolored with time. With the brass can light trim kits it's really quite a look.
Anyway, I had replaced the switchplates at HH1, but I had done it in a more haphazard way - buying a few every time I went to Target or Home Depot, so I had no idea what it really cost. This time I sent JWH on a trek around the house to count. Then I ordered them online based on a quick Google shopping link. Heck, they were even on sale. 37% off, the site proudly proclaimed. Wheeeel, ok then.
Oh and after his trek around the house with a pad and paper, this is the email I got from JWH with his tally:
Quad outlets: 2
Single switches: 8
Double switches: 5
Quad switches: 1
Cable plates: 4
Triple bars: 1
GFI + switch: 2
Outlet + switch: 1
Fatty bar switch: 1
I sent him all sorts of emails seeking clarification on what a "fatty" is and how it differs from a GFI and what a "Triple bar" is - 3 toggles or 3 rockers? He did that thing where he acts like I'm nuts for expecting him to even stop for a minute and think about what a "toggle" is. I mean, plebes worry about such matters, harumph! So I just ordered a few extras of things and hope for the best. It's not like I won't be in a Home Depot at some point soon and can't make a change.
Plebe, signing off...
Still, still with the iPhone photos. Good lord, if you knew the number of times I said to myself, "I'll just pull out the camera and leave it on the stair, then I will remember it! I'll do that right now!" And then I go back to brushing my teeth, folding laundry, packing, etc. and forget all about it. I totally am that person who has all these shitty "before" and "during" photos that look so tired and dire and then the angels sing when the "after" is shown and it's just because they were actually shot with a decent camera.
But, here are more crappy "during" shots. Taken in the evening, even, for double shittiness! But I stopped by the house last night to just measure one thing and was taken aback to find paint on the walls. The kitchen, in particular, was transformed. I did make some effort to get the same angles. And these are apples-to-apples because it's all iPhone.
Okay, so that last one was not really the same shot. Anyway, here - the fridge shows the color best:
It feels more modern already. The appliances come in a few days, too, and that will seal the deal!
Oh, and the living and dining rooms were painted too, and wow does the trim look great against the soft gray walls. It's warm yet bright. I am loving it. But I will not bore you with smartphone photos of gray walls takes at night. Really, even I have a rock bottom.
A lot of times I do something around the house and people say, "that's so cool, where'd you get that idea." And I demur. It's fun to have them think I came up with it myself.
Sadly, it's often not true.
While I do, sometimes, come up with something unique, I mostly troll about and collect inspiration. Sometimes I outright copy. That's what I did for JWH's father's day gift. I saw this post, with this picture, and I took action.
Some of you may remember that I talked about it a bit here, and, yes, at the time JWH did say "where on earth did you find this?" And I demurred. But I have had this print under the guest bed for 18 months! It was going to be his Christmas gift, but then something else came up (racing a NASCAR!), and then I decided to wait for the new house so I could have it framed for him as well. Consider the cat out of the bag now. Or the bear. Whatever.
Stay tuned for pictures of the wonderful walnut frame we picked out for this. And where we hang it. I cannot begin to know where it will end up. So much is up in the air right now it's practically unsustainable.
The real before pictures. Or I guess you could say the first of the "during" pictures. I am knee deep in work and stressed out by all that is going on. So, here, enjoy pictures of the chaos. (And, again, iPhone pictures, I cannot seem to remember to bring a camera when I trundle over there with all manner of crap and mini-project supplies.)
The living and dining, mid paint:
The third floor, minus carpet and closet doors - and who even noticed the walls were that much a mess?
The den, minus a whole lotta bookshelves:
The laundry "nook" floor:
The kitchen...for a room we are not doing much to, it looks like hell:
I do not do well with chaos. But I am encouraged by the new paint. I kept referring to the old trim as "grey" and people kept looking at me like I was insane. But it was gray with a bluish undertone. A very cold color. You can totally see it in the den pictures above, and here is a doorway trimmed in the new color while the baseboards are in the old color:
Yes, I am fully aware that the hall closet is not, in many circles, considered a place to decorate. But I'm gonna do it anyway.
HH1 had so much storage that we seriously had empty drawers and closets. Yes, I know, boo hoo. But HH2 is not suffering from the same riches. And so, even though we are tidy people, and not hoarders, and even somewhat minimalistic...I worry about losing one hall closet and a mudroom all in one fell swoop. I loved the mudroom: so much space to put all the stuff that the kid comes home with and the husband cannot be relied on to put away (tennis gear, running gear, biking gear) and well as stuff going out to charity or coming in for a project.
Ok, now I'm tearing up.
I have no mudroom. I get it. And I will survive. But I'm going to have to get creative in building the same kinds of spaces so that my family can continue to exist peaceably. My marriage only survived this long because I had a drawer for JWH's running headphones, Fuel-belt thingy and sweaty stinky hats. If he had continued to leave those items on the kitchen island, we'd either be in divorce court or I'd be in the insane asylum.
So, storage. Need.
There is one hall closet in this house and it's tucked in a somewhat tight hallway, with doors to the yard and basement. Opening any one of these doors renders the others unusable.
And here is where you will think I'm nuts: I'm going to take the door off this closet and make it open storage. Closets like this are always crammed with stuff. And you can't even see what's in there anyway. So, picture this:
I'm not sure why people feel the need to style these closets with a pillow, but whatever. I want to have enough bins for hats and gloves and such, a bin for JWH's running accoutrement, and lots of hooks for jackets. I think I can pull this off. And I think it will make that little hall feel less clausterphobic, too.
Oh, and if money and time were no biggie? I'd go straight to this:
Hmm, perhaps that will just go on my list for year 2... (can you hear JWH groaning??) For now I'll see about removing the door and going with hooks instead of hangers. And bins. Lots of bins. Then we will see about tearing out the wall and making it spectacular. For now I'm aiming for plain old adequate.
My kitchen grand plan (makes it sound so much more dramatic than it is, right?) included adding cabinets to the weird little nook. And I'm happy to say that I am making it happen. I took a peek inside the cabinets, Googled the tag and found that these suckers are considered fine cabinets. Dove tailed joints, solid wood and all that jazz. They certainly do not give off a first impression of greatness, but whatever, I can work with it.
So I used the handy, dandy Plain & Fancy website to find a local distributor and sent them an email. They could not have been nicer. I sent my measurements, told them I wanted storage (no more drawers please) and a double 35 qt. trash can pull out. Small wishes, really. And they send me back a bid. It seemed high, so I reached out to another local distributor for a bid. Lo and behold, that gal was even nicer. And her price was even lower. And she came out to the house and checked my measurements and compared stock colors (not a match, too much fading since they were installed in 2001 (!). She then went off with a drawer to use for a custom match paint.
I call that success. I'm not sure the cabinets will be in by the time we move in. I tend to doubt it. And I know for certain that we will be without counter tops on them for a little while (we cannot order them until the cabinets come in and are installed, and then it takes 2 weeks). Not to mention the fact that I have such decision-fatigue at this point that I cannot fathom looking at counter top materials.
Here, just so this post is not toally without visuals, this is what I ordered:
The dining room. I mean, it's simple right? Plop the old dining room furniture in it and off to the races we go. Right? Well, no. This dining room is bigger, and we plan to actually use it day to day. The kitchen in this house may or may not be semi-eat in (see here for discussions on that) and at the very least my beloved orange Wagner chairs will go in the dining room in HH2. It's also so goddamn sunny in this room that I fear I will not be able to hide our current crappy Crate & Barrel buffet in there at all. And I also fear that the bookshelf on casters that JWH built for our dining room 3 houses ago will look out of it's league scale-wise.
There is also a really long wall screaming for storage. And with no pantry closet in this house, I will need that storage. I have a few ideas, ranging from easy (hit "checkout") to DIY labor intensive. I won't decide until we move in, I think. Need to see the table and chairs in the room and see if we need a heavy piece for balance, or if lighter feeling furniture is better. But here are my initial thoughts.
1. If I go big, heavy and storage-a-palooza, I'm loving these Room & Board armoires. I could stash small kitchen appliances, vases, wine, booze, etc. all in one of these. And the walnut would match my table.
2. On the other end of the spectrum, Crate & Barrel has a steel buffet that I like the look of. If the room can't handle more walnut, this could be an option. The storage is not hidden, though, so I'd have to be prettier about it. And I might need 2 of them side by side.
3. Moving on again, there is the option of building out a custom or store bought floating credenza. Lots of storage, walnut doors and a surface to put things on during a dinner party or buffet. Hmmm.
And now the update. We are live with construction. I plan to take some messy "before/during" pictures this week. I feel like I have chosen the right contractor and I am excited. We have had great conversations about nosings and underlayments and paint. Note: remove the 1/4" underlayment so the nosing is level with the floor - got that? Ha! I'm learning so much that I will drive JWH crazy for years. (The nosing is the panel that the bottom of the balusters on a stairway sit on/in. They should be level with the floor that abuts them and the nosing should be the same as the floor, not painted with 85 coats of white glossy paint and still dirty looking because as a not-level element in a floor, where else is the dirt gonna go?)
And that leads me into paint. HH1 has fabulous trim. It's like glass. I think it was sprayed on in some places. It's just lovely. Not chipped, no brush marks, smoooooth. I want that again. It's expensive to get it, too. But I feel like nice trim sets the tone for a house. I have been in nice homes and even new homes where the trim was not sanded with love and care and it made it feel cheap. I also feel like slightly off white trim is better than bright white trim. It adds a texture rather than just contrast.
So I am splurging on having a painter sand off 100 years of brush strokes and apply a nice satin in Benjamin Moore Vanilla Ice Cream. I do not think I will regret this in the slightest. I am already regretting some other splurges but the trim? The trim is going to make this house fabulous!
Last week I told you a bit about my grand plan for the kitchen. And I promised to tell you more about knobs and pulls. I know, I know, you have waited with bated breath.
Well, here is what I ordered (control yourselves):
All that from Build.com, just because they had the biggest selection of the brands I wanted. And then I ordered these, too. You may see here that my approach to this is a little bit of the 'ol "throw a bunch at the wall and see what sticks." Yeah. Not sure what I want. God love the internets.
I had warned you that I had a rug to shop for for the closet side of the Bun's room. She insisted on keeping her current rug for her bed side. I still have to measure to make sure that will fit, but I know that for the other side of the room I want something that is cute and plays into the current one, but is neutral enough to be usable going forward.
I have 2 contenders at the moment. One I saw on Design Mom and would not have even considered otherwise. In the store photos it's so hard to see anything about it. But this pic was intriguing:
It looks cozy, right?
The other contender at the moment is this one from Pottery Barn Kids. It will match the pink border on her current rug, but take the kiddish-ness down a notch:
Both could work. Both are very affordable.
Ok, so I am a little excited. It's all seeming real now. Maybe because I picked paint colors yesterday. I was at the house with Ed, the seller's broker, who has impeccable taste (How do I know this? Because he has the same taste as me. Ha!) and we picked the colors for the main floor.
While very polite and complimentary ("These floors are in great shape!") subcontractors slid in and out, I held up chips and I'm happy to say that the decisions were unanimous. The kitchen will be Wickham Gray and the hall and living and dining rooms will be Edgecomb Gray. That first color is not a surprise, I knew that's where I wanted to be, but had to hold the chip up in the south-easterly light to be sure. It's a color that can read too blue or not blue at all*. I wanted hint of blue here. For the other rooms I thought I'd end up at Revere Pewter, but it read too dark. I also thought my sure-fire-backup of Manchester Tan might win the day, but it read too green.
And so, off we go.
Oh, and the trim will all be Vanilla Ice Cream. Because I have turned into and off-white trim girl. I think it reads richer and fuller than stark white trim. I'm really hoping it takes my trim from rough and sloppy looking to gee-orgeous.
*I have this fear in the Bun's room. She has requested this same color and in that light space it may be really gray and she's picturing light blue. I will deal with that fallout when it happens, I guess. I simply do not have time to try to pick a new color that I like, test it in the space and get her buy-in. Perhaps it will be a cloudy day when we move in and it'll fake her out? Here's hoping.
Okay, so the other day I regaled you with dream-tales of making the den plus office and making the office a teeny tiny little guestroom. (See here for a review if needed.)
Well I have realized that t's just a No. Here is the office in it's current state:
And tht is all. There is no other wing or other angle or secret nook to make it bigger in real life. You stand in the door and there is (currently - this is a pic I took during the home inspection) a crib in front of you. The is no room for anything else. No bookcase, toy bin, nothing. Nada.
So, yeah, I measured, I blocked out how a full bed would fit...kind of a lot like my Belividere St. apartment bedroom after college, actually...and realized that when you stood at the top of the stairs and looked into this lovely, light room at the end of the hall, you'd be pretty bummed to see a bed wedged in there like a fat man in a little car.
So, back to plan A: the office is an office and the den is a den and a guestroom.
That does not mean I have let go of my dreams of a non-sleeper sofa in there. I have visions of this instead:
Murphy bed! Yeah! In the nook behind the fireplace it will tuck right in there:
I am not going to order the obscenely overpriced melamine "frames" they sell to put these beds in - they want $1000 for that crap. Instead I plan to install it in the nook and then either hang a curtain in front or build out some doors. The beauty of this location is that you will not see it at all unless you are in the den. Not visible from hall, not visible even if you stick your head in the den to check it out. Totally stealth. But a real, flat, firm, mattress for my guests to sleep on. Nana and Papa would rather it was a Queen bed, but really, I have a full mattress already and the space is perfect for it. So, off we go. Stay tuned for install notes and pics! (Admittedly, it will be a while. These posts are on a bit of a time delay already and this project is not at the top of my list anyway.)
You might think a post about the kitchen belongs in the land of the Reno Diary. But, no, we are not renovating the kitchen right now. We are going to live with it a bit to see what the space does. And then maybe we will move things around or add things, or take things away.
The "for now" plan involves a few stages:
1. New cabinet hardware. I'm struggling here because of the fact that all the bottom units are drawers. Would it have killed you to put in a cabinet??? And, the drawers have center drilled holes. So, using bar pulls would be tough and involve patching and painting. The larger drawers I could get long pulls for, but I think that would look odd with the smaller pulls on the drawers to the left of the stove. So, I am thinking cup pulls on the bottom (yes, I know, still patching and painting, but the work will be hidden under the pulls?) and knobs on the top. I have a slew of options on order, I will share those at another point, but for now here are a few inspiration photos.
2. Paint. Wickham Grey or similar. I have a bunch of swatches to look at in the light of the actual room, but a pale blue/grey will modern it up without looking silly with the shaker cabinets and cork floor.
3. New fridge. Like in HH1 the space is limited due to cabinetry, so we will likely go with the same unit. We like it, so, yeah. Not exciting.
4. New stove and range hood. I am not a fan of the over-range microwave look. Especially since you see it from the front door. Not the first impression I want to make.
5. Add cabinets to the left of the sink. Now, this is controversial since it will necessitate new counters and who puts in new counters if they might reno down the line. Me, I think. Perhaps I will compromise and get slightly less expensive counters. But the area left of the sink is currently useless and not my style. I want to put in a big base cabinet for storage under the window and then a cabinet with pull out trash next to the sink. A counter there would give a more natural space for a dish rack. That just seems obvious to me.
6. A table or island. I have 2 ideas on this front. And I think I have to wait until we are moved in and can block it out and see how it feels for real before I decide. Option 1 is to put a narrow counter height table along the back of the coat closet (where the wooden drop leaf table is in the above photos), with a few stools. Like this:
With this table perhaps:
Option 2 is to put an island in the center of the room. I like this idea in terms of keeping a lane to the fridge open and in terms of having prep space in the center of the room. And for the opportunity to put marble in the room. Not going to lie, I want me some marble.
This table is likely too big, but similar would be nice, it it had the ability to tuck stools under it, all the better...
So, that was a lot of words and pictures. I know. But I have a lot going on in my head and it helps to get it out on "paper." I hope you will stick with me as I bring some of these plans to fruition.
Way back here, I posted about the kid needing to transition from a play table to a desk. She was resistant. And then, one day, she told me that her play table's chairs were too small for her. Huh? She dramatically demonstrated that her feet touched the ground and that, in her words, her "knees bent too much." Yeah. Right. Is she so used to sitting in chairs that are too big for her that she did not realize that a 90 degree knee angle was kind of de rigueur?
I was a little confused, but then I remembered that we'd just looked at a house where "her room" would have had a built in desk. This was it.
Yeah, she was angling her way back to that.
I did a little Googling and found out that IKEA has some components that I could easily hack, so we headed off to the store one rainy weekend. I looked at the Stuva line of kid's furniture - cabinets, bookshelves and benches that played together nicely.
In the end it was that last photo that was truest to my reality. I had initially intended to incorporate the desk into it, or the bench. But, the bench and drawer units were all 23.75" deep and the cabinets and bookcases were all 11.75" deep. And the desk unit was too low - the same as her play table. I fiddled around a bit with options and configurations to go along the wall across from her closet, but nothing worked perfectly and I cold not inure myself to the wonky side view caused by the varying depths... Then that bottom picture saved the day. The wall beind the stairs, filled with bookcases currently, and pretty unusuable space (you need to be able to walk through there and a desk chair would impede that), would be great with a long row of storage like that. She could sit on it, stack things on it, stash things in it.
So I bought 5 units. All with doors. I can return the doors if I decide to leave some open as book storage. I can't wait to get these in place on gleaming hardwood floors. Oh and in front of her chosen wall color: Benjamin Moore Wickham Gray. How does a 7 year old know about paint colors? Is she a prodigy? No. She simply told me that she wants "the same color as our family room."
Next up, a rug for the far side of the room by the closet, where the play table will live. For now.
Instead of coming up with funky little titles to describe each day on this journey, I think I will just number it as we go along, k? Maybe I will add a room name or some other descriptor to the title. Maybe.
So, day one, episode one, let's talk about the bid process and the timing of this little endeavor. We have a 3.5 week gap between the buy side closing on HH2 and the sell side closing on HH1. That gap seems huge to some people (2 mortgages!) but it was planned that way. When we were negotiating with the buyers of HH1 we had yet to find a place to buy, so we were pretty focused on getting as much time as possible. We even negotiated an option to lease the house back for a few more weeks in case we needed it. In the end, it took us about 4 weeks to find a place to buy. And for that deal we (and the sellers) pushed for a fast close. They were leaving the country and wanted the deal done, and we wanted time to renovate.
So, 3 and a half weeks. That's not a lot of time since, as you know, my list is large and in charge. We contacted 2 contractors initially. Thinking that we'd loop in a 3rd once we got some idea of the cost and time line. We thought we might have to scale back a bit and/or move in while work was ongoing.
The first contractor we called was one who has done some small projects for us in years past. He rebuilt the fascia and gutters for us last year. And he replaced a few columns in the basement, too. Nothing huge, but he's likable and we had him quote a few other things along the way and he seemed on the ball.
The second contractor we called was a bit of a fluke. JWH met a guy on a plane. The guy owned a large commercial construction business. Cards were exchanged. So, when we needed another bid, JWH emailed him for a recommendation. To our mighty surprise, he said they would bid on the job and he himself came over to the house a few days later to take a look. We were a little shocked at all that, but, hey, maybe a big show could do the work quicker? We'd be open to paying a bit more to save time...
And then the kicker. Mr. Big, as I'll call him, was chatting about his GC (general contractor) who would have come with him if he were not on vacation. He dropped a name. The name of my beloved previous contractor and neighbor. The name of the guy who made HH1 the palace that is is (mostly before I moved in). Jaws fell. And so we talked turkey. As in dollars. The Mr. Big firm would cost more. Yes. More. But we would get what we wanted, get it done well, and have what I considered an ally on the ground. A guy I knew I could talk to and be heard. And a guy I trusted to find and fix the myriad of problems I knew would crop up.
And so Mr. Big's guys did up a bid and a timeline. The timeline had some projects going on before the move in date:
And others he had in a phase 2, but we pushed hard to get them put up into the phase above, even admitting that if we had a plumber in the house for a few days after move in, that would be ok. My main goal here was to have the disruptions for the Bun minimized. Let her get in and get settled, you know?
And still others would be starting weeks after the move in date (to allow time to have an architect weigh in and order materials, etc.):
And so it goes. We chose Mr. Big. You saw that coming, though, didn't you? We plan to call a heating and AC firm to see if it's best to just avoid the middle man there.
And so, here we go....
So, when we toured this house we thought we'd use the tiny little bedroom at the front as the office. JWH almost never uses his desk anymore (he prefers the kitchen or dining room table), but it's a nice piece of furniture and I like having a place to spread out and do stuff now and then. We also thought we'd use the other bedroom on this floor (other than the master) as a den. We are not big TV-watchers and we liked the idea of having the TV not in the main living space. Watching TV, for us, should be a deliberate thing, not a an "ugh, I'm just sitting here, I wonder what's on?" thing. Why? because we find that we get sucked in and veg out and then feel like shit afterward. Sluggish, bored and antsy all at the same time.
So, TV in the den. Done.
But then I started shopping for a sleeper sofa. Since we'll have no guest room in this house, we planned to invest in a really great sleeper. The internets suggested that the best was a company called American Leather. And by the "best" they meant most comfortable to sleep on. But,damn, those couches were ugly. $4000 for an ugly couch.
So I rethought.
I mean, we have a perfectly good, even considered comfy, guest bed. Why chuck it in favor of a sleeper that no one wants to sleep on anyway? Maybe, just maybe the guest bed can tuck into the tiny bedroom and the desk can join a (better looking) couch in the den? Will it be weird? Crowded in the den? Ridiculous to put guests in am 8' x 10' room? We will see, but the option is on the table. Here is the hoped for layout (all completely unconfirmed by a measuring tape at this point):
And here are the couch and desk we'd pair in the den.
The Evie sofa from Crate & Barrel.
The Tavola desk from Design Within Reach (no longer available).
I'd also likely get a Helmer cart from Ikea to control some of his chaos.
Oh, and the den, too, for a reminder. Lot's of bookcases (some to be removed, they wrap the room)...
I'm not at all sure this will work together. But I'm picturing a cosy dark space to curl up and watch a show or a quiet place to use the desk. I might have to sub in the Aidan sofa to go with the leggyness of the desk.
See? Lots to consider...
So, we house hunt almost constantly, really. I always look at listings, even when happily ensconced in my own "forever for now" home. But, as you imagine, last fall when we started looking for reals we hit it big time. Open houses galore, and actual appointments with realtors. Work was missed. And then we repeated that whole game in the spring.
Anyway, most house have something fun about them, something unique and cool. Here are some pictures of houses we looked at and their super-feature!
The coolest dining nook windows:
The kitchen with not one, but 2 walls of windows:
The one with the sweet deck off the master:
The one with the coolest "urban yard" deck in general:
The one with the built in kid's desk , it also had a hidey-hole of a loft for the bed:
The pink island(!):
The den of light:
Hard to choose a favorite right? Given my druthers, I'd have that last den off the kitchen up top, with the dining nook on the other side and, and, and...Frankenhouse!
Ok, so this is going to be text heavy, but we can use it as a master list and I will break it down in future posts and share pictures.
HH2 needs work, mainly: the 2 full baths are 1980's delights. The master has actual glass block. It also needs a new furnace and AC condenser and the floors need a good polish. But the condition of the house was otherwise great, solid, well done and well maintained.
So, here we go...
KITCHEN: we plan to live in this room a bit before making major changes. I'm not sure if the cabinets are good quality or if the sink is big enough. But for now we are going to:
LIVING and DINING:
DEN and OFFICE/GUEST ROOM:
THIRD FLOOR/BUN'S ROOM:
MASTER BATH (this is the biggie): this room is a hot mess, it needs to be gutted and reconfigured. Many, many, many posts to follow on this project.
So, that's it for the moment. It's a big list, no?
As in the number one, immediate, could-not-help-myself thing I bought upon buying the new house? And by buying I mean getting our offer accepted, waiting, ohhh, like 12 hours and then hitting the Apartment Therapy website like JWH hits a Krispy Kreme shop when the light is blinking...But, anyway, I let myself buy this one thing in advance of all design plan or reason or, you know, actual ownership: A) because it was small, and B) because I have been eyeing it for ages.
What put me over the edge this time was this image from Desire to Inspire (originally from Design*Sponge):
Now, before you think I have totally lost my mind and gone all Design Within Reach without eve consulting JWH, I bought the knock offs. CB2, baby. $9.95.
So, my front hall just might be graced with these suckers come next coat season. I'm not sure they will work out, but if they do, I like the idea of having the coat storage but also having it look cool when empty. I bought 3 sets. That's $38 out of the new house budget already, for those of you playing along at home.
Sooo, in the months and months where I was dreaming about new homes, and often dreaming about one home or another in particular, I would keep my eye out for furnishings that would work in that new space. And by keep my eye out, I mean obsess about floorplans and potential furniture placement options.
How to keep track of these wonderful items as I went along, so that I could easily pull the trigger once the real estate gods smiled upon me? Keep.com was my salvation. In the next few weeks/months you can see what I actually bought/buy as we get settled into HH2. In the meantime, you can see my collection here.
And, as additional eye candy, without having to follow a link, below are some of the things that knocked me down with desire.
Links for these items via the keep.com link above.
Holiday House 2.
Ok, ok, ok, it does not look like much*. I know, but I am renovating (and painting, oye, that's a lot of green)! And the location, location, location cannot be beat. The Bun will walk to school. Yes, WALK. To elementary, middle and high school - all three campuses are walkable from this house! And her friends are nearby, and her grandmother, and a great bakery, a million restaurants and, well, JWH is most excited about this one: his favorite pizza place. It's about a block away. He will be fat very soon, I predict.
So, we are urban people again and I could not be happier about that. We will strip down to one car and walk, walk, walk everywhere.
Oh, and in case you failed to notice, scroll back up and look at those floor to ceiling windows. Yes. Those.
*These are iPhone photos snapped during the home inspection. I will update with true before and afters (hopefully shot from consistent locations and angles) as possible. This is also all on a bit of a tape delay, I did not want to jinx things by posting too early, so while I get settled in (and document it all, I hope) you will catch up to what I've been up to for a few months. This takes the pressure off for me to keep up with posting while I have a full time job, a kid, and a house undergoing renovation. Please excuse and inconsistencies you spot in terms of leaves on th trees outside or projects that seem to be completed in the wrong order. I'll do my best to stay on a coherent time line.
So I disappeared for a while. I know, I know. So sorry.
But, here's the deal: we decided to sell the house. Last August. And I know some bloggers do this thing where they carry on like nothing is up and then reveal the whole shebang one day (I'm looking at you Young House Love). Or they tell you what's up but you only hear the real drama much later (Dans Le Townhouse). Well, being both a full time employee, a parent, and you know, human, I really did not have that last ounce of brain matter for subterfuge.
So, I went radio silent. I thought it was a good idea, too, to lock the blog. We did not need a potential buyer seeing me on a ladder patching holes or reading about Bondo on the back steps. (We've since had those risers replaced with engineered wood, but you know what I mean.) I thought we'd be back lickety split with all sorts of fun to share about a new house.
We had a little real estate kerfuffle. I will not get into it or lay blame, but our house did not sell. It was demoralizing. Did we overpay 6 years ago? Did people hate my style? Ugh. We had lots of interest in the house, but people kept choosing other properties - even after measuring for the fit of their furniture?!? We pulled it off the market in November, after 2 months in a blazing hot market. The final straw was a house a few doors down selling in one weekend. For over asking.
Defeat. On the buy side, too. We bid on 2 properties and did not get them. Double defeat.
So what changed? We decided to call in the super-pros. The top selling agents in the area. And you know what? Holiday House sold, in 5 days. For over asking. What did we change about the house this time? Nothing. Not a gosh darned thing. Okay, the asking price changed, but in the end we got the price we had assumed the first time out. Perhaps listing low is a good strategy...I dunno, I am clearly no pro. So my advice would be to just go with the pros. The real pros - not your cousin's neighbor or your sister's harirdresser's pal, or your high school mate's mother. Find the shark in your hood. The one who sells the most. You want that. Sharks be good allies.
And then??? We went into overdrive looking for Holiday House 2. More on that tomorrow!
I have already tidied the 2 closets and the attic. Just in case, mind you.
I also did some office tidying and moved some surplus furniture into the attic.
Tonight is the realtor visit. I'm a little bit freaking out. I could not get to sleep last night for thinking of all the stuff I'd have to "do" if we were going to move (sell the Bun's bed/crib? Use it in a new house? Re-appropriate her dresser and give her the little white one? Purge my "what if" odds and ends? Save them since I don't know where we are going...?)
Maybe it's nothing, maybe she will tell us a low number and we wil say, "nah, we'll stay put another few years as planned."
But, the house is looking good. Very good. Just in case...
It's actually in pretty great shape. I weeded the whole lawn last weekend, and the garden is tidy. We also finally had the trees trimmed, so it's lighter and brighter than ever. I also finished a few projects this summer (no photo documentation, though), and the mudroom is now all done and lovely and the peeling radiators in the living room and Bun's room are tip top shape. That was actually not a bad project, all considered.
So, what's we'd do if we were going to actually show the house?
So, all in all, about a day's labor. Not too bad. We live pretty tidy. At least I think so.
For the Bun's room. To transition her from the pastel PB Kids one she has. But, I will not buy this rug...yet. First I will see if she likes it. And then I will see what size I need...
Why do I not know the size I need? Because we might just be selling Holiday House. Yeppers, we have crossed the line from "someday" to "maybe now's the time." See, houses in our hood are having good old fashioned bidding wars and going for over $100k over asking. No shit. Now may well be the time. A profit in real estate is one of my favorite things.
So I found the rug, and it works with light blue walls, which the kids says she wants maybe in a new room. So, all we gotta do is sell this house, find a new house and then buy this rug. No biggie, right??
It's from Land of Nod, btw, since that's clearly the takeaway here.
Back in January, which is like 5 posts ago...I stated my goals for 2013:
You see I have not made much progress. And I have new priorities, too. I plan to paint the dining room and get a new fixture, yes. And I plan to paint the office. I also need to repaint the cracked and peeling radiators. The tree trimming will happen, if I can EVER get someone over to do it. And the sun room windows will not be replaced after all. We have a different solution that I will tell you about another time. But it involves more labor and paint from me. So maybe September for that.
The dining room, office and radiators are top of the current list. You have to go with your passions, right?
#1: the light I need for over the dining room table is this:
#2: the dining room needs to be repainted a lighter color, perhaps the color I used in the kitchen (which I think is Sherwin Williams Napery), to get closer to this:
#3 : the office needs to be repainted. The dark brown is just too 2007. I had been leaning toward this, but having a hard time pulling the trigger:
But now I am thinking something more like this:
If one is back on the blogging bus, why not start at a place of greed and desire? I can swing back by thoughtfulness and aesthetics on the way home...
I'm also all about these slip on Chucks. I saw them at a DSW (Yes, I was at a DSW recently, with a friend doing a last minute need-shoes-for-an-event-tonight thing with her. I;m not typically a DSW person. Or a store person, really. All hail internets!)
And, although it's a hundred and eleventy degrees out there (or so I'm told, living in the land of AC as I do these days), I spied this throw and liked it immensely. The texture. Yum!
And then there are these Chilewich mats. I like the squares, I like the look, and man are the Ikea rattan ones we have now getting gross. I mean, like warped and stained and likely to be teeming with good knows what since the kid decided last week to be an ant farmer*.
*Ant farming involves collecting ants in a tupperware with dirt and leaves and water and sugar and leaving said vessel on the kitchen table overnight because your (single for the week) parent failed to notice.)
A long while ago - before we won a certain new account at work and I was taken from you all, I stuck this picture in a file. I just found it and I wondered what it was I liked about it? I'm guessing it was inspiration for a radiator cover. I do have, on my list for this summer, a refresh of the peeling radiators. I think covering them up is a no go in most of the house...and the Bun says she wants hers to remain a shelf and not be cased in...but maybe there is a call to case one elsewhere? Like the landing at the bottom of the stairs? I could put a few pretty things on top of it? Hmmm, something to consider.
I especially like the wood top. Makes it kind of furniture-y.
I'm a total slacker. Yes, but that is because the things I am doing are not really photo-worthy. Yes, I spackled the holes left from moving the Bun's curtain rods. Yes, I touched up the paint there, too, and the trim all around the house, in fact.
Yep, I also went through the clothes in the guest room and came to terms with the fact that I had far too many things and if the kid ever actually gets to size 6 she will be perfectly well-attired with only six dresses. Really. I need to get a grip. I buy ahead when things I like are on sale and then I get tons (and I mean tons) of hand me downs, and you know what? The kid wears the same 5 things over and over and over. (I'm looking at you, ugly red Hannah Andersson dress.) So, I think my days of buying ahead are over. Don't get me wrong, I have the 6's and a few 7's and 8's but I think I need to chill. The kid has opinions now and half of what I buy gets the gas face anyway. Ahh, life is going ot be great when she's a teenager...not. For now, the charity bin overfloweth.
Anyway, what else did I do? I wrapped a bunch of presents that I need to take home on Easter. And I dusted the baseboards.
This is living.
As I said yesterday, the Bun's room is oh-so-close to being the warm kind of pink room and not the bubble-gummy kind of pink room. And one of the things holding me back is her duvet cover.
It is hot pink. Hot.
It was fine as a pop of color in the green room, but now it's just baaaad. How bad? Even the semi-color-illiterate JWH called it out. That kind of bad.
But the kid? She looooves it. I might have almost had her okay with a light pink flannel one...but not really. She knows, she senses, she feels when I am trying to take away her pink. I have to play it really cool, people, really cool. I have to duck and bob and weave. Or else she is like, "nooo, I love my pink thing that I have never before even expressed an opinion about or seemed to even notice!"
Well, yesterday I posted that same old time-worn picture of the pink room that made me feel like a pink room could be done in a semi-ok way, and it hit me. There is some darker pink bedding n that room, but it's a cooler pink. And by "cooler" I do not mean hipper or trendier, I mean a color with more of a blue base than a red/yellow base. And that, my friends, is when the idea hit me. Maybe I could strategically fade the duvet cover I have. Hit it with the RIT?
I have never done this sort of thing, but the internets, they are alive with possibilities:
Hmm. This is an interesting turn of events.
"Oh, honey, the washer turned your duvet a different color...hmmm."
The bun tells me this is her new favorite color.
Oh, if only I could have held out and not painted her room pink! Oh, where was my strength? My resolve? Woe is me!
Not really. Even thought I have spent the last year trying to de-pink the pink room, I'm cool with it. It really is just a hop, skip and a jump from being the room I envisioned all along. The hop being the rug, the skip being the duvet and jump being the play table. Anyway, you may recall, I wanted this look:
And I am here currently:
So, you know, not bad...
But when she says "light blue" my mind goes exactly here:
If I were one of those Housewives of Wherever with cash and time and such, I'd scrap it all and build her this room. The tables, the drapes, the bedding.
The bedding haunts me.
Can I make this my room? JWH? Honey? Up for a change?
I have no immediate use for any of these things, but I like them and think someone should buy them.
The Moroccan stool from Wisteria, available in pink (as shown) and a host of other nifty colors. I also like the rattan chairs, if they were darker wood I'd be intrigued even more.
And Anthropologie has some really pretty frames.
You know, the thing about Anthropologie? About 5 years ago I was at a company holiday party and a woman I work with was telling me that for Christmas shopping her husband would just go to Anthro and know he could pretty much get anything in there and she'd like it. At the time, having visited the Newbury Street store a few times....well, I just didn't get it. I was like, he gets you decorative knobs? Or drapey nightwear? Huh?
But, I think it's an age thing. Because now I totally get it. It's the only store I can reliably walk into and find something I want to buy. And for gifts? Yes. It's a yes.
I'm also liking these happy napkins. I find the teal/blue in combination with the orange to be surprising. And surprisingly nice.
Or, these sheets call out to me, I've been attracted to diamond patterns lately.
Oh, and I also have a little crush on Serena and Lily these days, so here are a few of their happiest-making things.
So! Go forth and pretend it's spring! Buy something colorful. Me? I'm planning a ski trip. That's what you call making lemonade out of a March snowstorm.
The Bun is in denial, but I have started to explain to her that change is indeed coming. Her playtable is a mess. and I hate the pink of it, so I have started to whisper the word "desk" in her ear. Being the person she is and, oh she is a person all right, with very strong opinions and attachments, she is clinging to the table. It's almost like she knows it's the pink I'm trying to get rid of. I half suspect if I offered up a pink desk she'd be in the car before I blinked. Ikea, you say, Mama?
But I will not offer pink. I have other thoughts. I'd like to think about putting something on the long wall under or around the map. Something like this:
I almost put this on Facebook, but then I realized that somewhere in my friend list there is likely someone who will think I'm talking about them and get all pissy.
So, let me state up front, I am not talking about you.
But what is this thing where people respond to someones good fortune by saying, "oh, you totally deserve that!" Is there some group of people who are somehow undeserving of the new job, the vacation, the cute boyfriend? Is this one of those weird American things where we show our prejudice against people who are poor/disadvantaged/not like us? I ask this because the only time I see anyone openly state that someone is "undeserving" is when (one of my cousins, usually, le sigh) posts about some sort of public assistance program. As in: people on food stamps should have to take drug tests. Apparently if you are on drugs your kids don't "deserve" to eat. (On the contrary, I think if your mom is a drug addict and you get your sustenance via food stamps, I'd like to buy you a bike and send you to college. You "deserve" better.)
And how about the rich folk. The 1%. Do we tell them they "deserve" a spa day because they work so hard? I don't think so. We tell them to go fuck themsleves. At least I think that is what would happen if some dude posted on a pic of his new Porsche parked next to his yacht. Rich Kids of Instragram, anyone?
I think, upon not much reflection, really, that the "you deserve this" thing is a middle class self-affirmation. It's the opposite of a humblebrag. It's like a pitypraise. "Oh, yes, you so much deserve a spa day!" (Because if I had your kids I'd slit my wrists.)
Oh, and while I'm at it - something else I'm also too chicken to put on Facebook: "You there with the new relationships status, you are gay. G.A.Y. gay. We love you, we all do, really. Total fave. But come on, who the hell are you doing this for? Your mother? I've met her. She's cool with it. You are 30+ years old. It's 2013." And, of course, someone totally comments with "you so deserve this!"
I groan twice and get back to work...
I will prove it to you:
These are red dotties in a blue room (click the link, you'll see an even bigger picture)...
These are purple in a tan and teal room...
Orange and hot pink in a cool green and gold room.
Red and tan in a cream and blue room.
Green and pink in a minty room.
Green in a blue room.
See? They just have to coordinate. It's a different thing, people. And while I love a good tone-on-tone curtain when you want then to just ad texture and mostly disappear, please go out and take a risk.
I'm thinking about buying a copy of "The Little Prince," as it's a book that comes up all the time in my own little zeitgeist. I've never read it, you see. I did not go to that kind of school. I went to a pretty darned crappy public school system, only this was before anyone went around grading school systems. At the time of my enrollment, it was simply enough to not be "bussed" and to not be in an "urban" area. All the rest was just details.
I think it was in the 1980's when people woke up and realized that there was more to gauging school performance than counting the number of black kids. So how did I know that my school was "failing." Well, at least failing me? Let's start with grade 3. As good as any I suppose. It was this grade in which we were given our first standardized tests. Just so you know, I rock the whole fill in the bubble thing. So, in 3rd grade there came a day when some administrative-type person came into my classroom and called me and my neighbor out to the hall. We were sort of told, but not really told, that we had scored so well on the bubble-filling test that we were being moved to a new reading group. In my memory, at least, we were right then and there marched up to the end of the hall to a utopian classroom where there were books, books everywhere and a smiling woman named Mrs. Duncan. With a name like that how could she not be better than the squat crabby woman I'd had previously? That trollish lady only ever complained to my mother that I talked too much. Yeah, yeah. It's who I am, lady.
But my point about 3rd grade is really that it did not make a damned bit of difference. Identified as smart in 3rd grade. Hooray! By 4th grade my neighbor and I were redistricted out to a smaller school. One without the "gifted and talented" program for which we had so recently proven our qualification. No amount of calling and complaining or offering to drive me between schools for the meeting of this esteemed group could overcome the system's desire to just not care.
And so, let's move on to 6th grade. My teacher that year was a pig, I knew it then and I know it now. He drove a motorcycle and was a lifeguard in the summer. He was cool. And he wanted us to think so. And, there, folks, we have the nub of the problem. I did not think he was cool. It never occurred to me to think about a teacher in terms of his societal influence or ability to get chicks. And so, when he offered me the chance, the chance! to rinse his coffee cup out in the girls room in exchange for some tickets that were part of some PTA money-making flea market type scheme, well, I declined.
And that sealed my fate. I simply had not understood that this man, this vain man, had the power vested in him to choose the "track" to I would be attached in middle school. So, despite my fill-in-the-bubbles prowess, I was placed in the second tier. He told my mother that I was immature or something. I was 10. I did not yet know I had to kiss his ass. Construing that as lack of maturity is perhaps valid, but not terribly relevant.
But, before you can accuse me of going on too monotonously in the "woe was my public education" direction, I'll just cut it short skip to 10th grade. The curriculum stated that we read A Tale of Two Cities that year. I had Mr. Donnelley as a teacher and I should have known something was amiss when I had to go over to a whole other wing of the school for this class - the wing where they had the rooms with typewriters for the "general" and "business studies" students. It's important to note that I also really was into Van Halen that year and someone Mr Donnelley's class had an actual photograph of Eddie, taken by her sister. Not a print, not cut from a magazine, but a photo. Real. I nearly died. And so it was not a total waste, that class...
Anyway, Mr. Donnelley was a bit, um, distracted in general. There were rumors that he was a drunk. I had not too much reference for "drunk," but I guess if you forced me to draw a parallel between him and my Uncle Billy I'd see some similarities in sloppy dress, lurching walk, and slurring of speech. But, on to the Dickens! We cracked our textbooks right then and there, so exciting! We were to all read the first page silently. And, as you may know, that first page is a doozy. So much to think about! Let's discuss!
Or, no, really...let's all close our books as I turn out the lights so we can watch the movie.
Yes, in case I lost you there - we read the first page and then watched the movie. AP English here I come?!?
Last week I was listening to the radio on the way to work and a very smart man was talking about asteroids. He illustrated his point by talking about an asteroid named Apophis that was on track to glance the Earth in 2029. Apparently, at that time it would not hit us, but it could, just maybe could, be impacted by our gravity just enough to make it swing back around in 2036 and whack the hell out of us. For me, the story was relatable because I had just, the evening before, mentioned the year 2029 to my father. My father has lymphoma. For the second time. And we were all waiting and waiting for it to be graded and to find out a treatment plan. By way of being supportive, I reminded my father of what I had told him the first time he was diagnosed, in 2007 when my daughter was 9 months old - that I needed him to hang on to see her graduate from Harvard. We'd picked out her dorm from the window of the hospital where she was born. She had come into this world despite so many reasons why she shouldn't. And she was fine. The nurses called her "the miracle baby" but I shut my laptop to the page explaining what it was she'd had and what it was that was supposed to have become of her.
So we picked out her dorm and said, "why not, this child who is not supposed to be here, why not be the best of the best of the best?"
And my father recovered. He spent the 9th through 13th months of my child's life too sick to enjoy her. He had lost his mother that year, and his hope. But he recovered and called 2007 "a very bad year - except for Miss M." Miss M he calls her, because he does not like her given name. But, even not named Elizabeth, as he'd desired, she had his heart. She is not a demonstrative child, she is not going to run into your arms - mine, yes, yours, no. If she likes you she will smile and let her hair fall over one eye. She will giggle if you (intentionally) do bad math or use the wrong word or ask her if she has seen your giraffe, since it was just here a minute ago... She will correct you and think you are so, so silly. A serious girl who likes to giggle. There is such a thing.
And so last week I reminded my father of his expected attendance in Harvard Yard in May of 2029.
The astromomer, by the way, did have a point about Apophis. He went on to tell us out there in radioland that they had tightened up their predictions and it was not going to happen. My daughter was not going to graduate from Harvard under the spectre of the coming apocalypse 7 years hence. But, Apophis, he said, was the canary in the coal mine. It warned us that there were others, other asteroids that would hit Earth. But we are not dinosaurs, he said. By then we, the people of Earth, will have ways to redirect any rocks headed our way. The B612 Foundation, he said, was working on it.
And, for the second time, I snapped to attention. B-612.
By the year 2029 my daughter will be 22 years old. My father will be 89. And the good, smart folks of this world, who read The Little Prince in school, likely in French, will have invented a machine to zap asteroids out of our path.
We will all live forever.
Last Sunday JWH went skiing with a work pal. When he got home I told him about all the things I'd done that day. Not the least of which was winning at Mousetrap on my first trip to the Cheese Wheel. Yee-haw. That game, btw, has a quality of endlessness...
Also accomplished on Sunday? I moved the cookbooks to the dining room and brought books down from our room to fill the holes in the family room bookcase, I accepted delivery of our new mattress, I laundered all the bedding, I remade the bed, I read a book about a Boll Weevil and a Firefly falling in love, I took something like 253 pairs of shoes out of the mudroom, I went to Ikea and bought some plants, I planted those plants in the dead/empty pots around the house, I watered the remaining live plants, I rearranged the shelves in the dining room and dusted where no man has dusted before, I replaced the shower curtain liner, I washed the Bun's snowpants and mittens and lunchbox, I Googled instructions and successfully used my iron to make perler bead art, I ordered an interior storm window for the mud room, and I cleaned the radiators.
After hearing my list (or at least nodding slightly to suggest he was listening), JWH had one question: how did you clean the radiators?
With a bowl of soapy water, 3 rags and a toothbrush.
He knew enough to just shut his trap at that point.
No one has asked (thanks, thanks a lot), and no pictures will be forthcoming, but the kitchen ceiling is a pristine white. And the rims of the can lights are also now white. It was a total and unmitigated success.
And not a living soul will ever notice.
Unless I point it out, which I plan to do. It took so sooo long, and I actually, physically, threw out my back doing it, so, yeah, if you visit look at my effing ceiling and tell me how great it looks. Okay?
Oh, and I used, for the first time, Clark & Kensington paint from the hardware store (it's an Ace but we refer to it by it's suburban old school name). On the C&K paint? Good shit. I recommend. It was not nearly as goopy as the Behr stuff I used in the master bath. It tolerated multiple coats when semi-wet, and it really took one coat only in most places.
Call it a win. Sometime let's discuss why "Kensington" is a name people associate with money/quality/fancy stuff? Is it because it sounds British?
A topic for another day...
On Friday, I did a little shop.
Calm down, JWH, I already returned the AG jeans and this shop will, when items are returned for size duplication, equal your new Jambox toy thing that I bought for you out of the kindness of my heart.*
Anyway, here are the looks I will be rocking this spring:
Boden, one and all.
*We/I had a little windfall come my way. I may use it, as threatened, here, for a new piece of furniture. I also may use it for windows for the mud room, as discussed here. But that is hardly sexy, so JWH and I each get $200 of fun money. Oh, and Amex gets a bite, too. As they always do...
As the Bun said this morning as we slid our way to school, "I'm done liking snow." Yeah. And I never even started.
So, when the 1-2" they predicted yesterday turned to 8-10" still falling today, well, that impacts ones mood.
In other news: I'm dining with my mother in law tomorrow.
You are now fully up to speed on my mental state.
Symptoms of this state involve leaving a thoroughly not-relevant comment on a blog that indicated my disdain for what constitutes journalism these days. Pack me right up with the wacko Slate readers who comment to that effect each and every time Farhad Manjoo has a story there. Poor Farhad, he seems an affable enough guy, but some dudes have a lot of hate that they sling his way. I'm maybe not quite that "angry white man," or maybe I just feel I have more right to trash the profession, since, you know, I have several degrees in journalism.
Several you say? Yeah. Oh, yeah.
You see, even though I had an epiphany at age 19, while sitting in some class called Newswriting 101 or some such*, that really, truly, monkeys could be trained to do this just as well as my classmates. And this was a $30k a year institution, mind you, so I'm not trying to insult my classmates. It was just the task at hand. So simplistic.
Regardless, I went back to school an got a masters in Journalism, too. It's an MSJ, meaning they felt it appropriate to put the word "Science" in there. No idea why.
But, back to the writing, the journalism, it's not all bad. There is the New Yorker and even the New York Times, on many occasions, can teach me or move me or amuse me. But the basic news story? The basic interview? In this new, brave, digital world I have replaced "monkeys" with "Google." (I think you might be able to do this in many instances as, just this morning I saw and article about how Google was better at predicting drug interactions than pharma companies.) The good folks at Google have got to have a bot that could spit out who, what, where, when, and call it good. Likewise, the bot could take copy from an interview and string together the quotes, perhaps tossing in a few metaphors here and there?
Oh, the poor journalist! My friends! My compatriots! But, dudes, you have got to help yourselves, too. The new format of "reviews" where a few writers online chat about the something and we get to read their pithy banter? You get paid for that? My friends and I do it all day long for free...this is not a winning business model. The monkeys, the Google...it's not looking good.
*My 101 professor's name is long lost to me. But he did teach me one thing: what a "gin blossom" was. That guy's nose was enormous and red and stained and I was shocked when I found out that it was not some sort of sad defect from birth. Think I'm exaggerating? Well, class was at 2 pm Wednesdays, or some such respectable college class time. And we'd all tromp upstairs and wait by the locked classroom door. Locked because this was an urban campus and there were typewriters in there. Yea, I said typewriters. I existed on that cusp: I did layout on pasteboards and coded type on a Wang and then graduated and used Ventura Publisher and MacDraw. Call me old. Ok, tangent over. We waited in the hall, usually for 5 minutes or so, and then someone would volunteer to run over to The Dug Out and get the old coot. The bar. He was at the bar. And that was considered just fine. I also remember that he said "fiya" for "fire" and if we got too fancy in our prose he would say, "you are writin' for tha chowdaheads on the greenline, rememeba?" Yeah. I paid 30k a year for that.
Don't pretend my potty mouth is a surprise to you. It's not. I know that. JWH actually complimented me the other day on how much less I swear these days. So, really, just be glad you did not meet me a few year ago when I was like a trucker with an Orla Kiely purse and red cork-heeled wedges.
So, anyway, day two of the kitchen ceiling. We started strong, with buying paint and such. I had some Behr paint from the master bath ceiling, but I really did not like it. It was goopy and thick and showed brush marks way too much.
So, bought ceiling paint, and paint to spray those can light covers white. Yay for me.
I also took the can covers off and washed them. That involved about 6 million dead bugs. Desiccated corpses from 1984 onward. I had to use a toothpick to scrape the remains off some covers.
This was not considered fun. This tested my resolve. But, I soldiered on, and after taking the Bun to a birthday party - a swimming party, at which she stood next to the pool and pouted and said, repeatedly, loudly, "I am not having a very good time." Yeah, and I'm having the time of my life, here, kid, making small talk with other parents on an 80 degree and humid indoor pool deck - anyway, after that I went home nd thought that inhaling some paint fumes could not make the afternoon any worse, so I hit these suckers with the matte bright white.
Yeah. Day two and out.