Posts Tagged ‘house’

And the World Continues Turning

August 12, 2014

BLOOOOGGGGGGGGG!

Hey there. I’d ask you how you’re doing, but you’re a website that just hangs out, and this conversation is entirely one-sided. But that haircut is fabulous, dear. Just superb. Sooooo, a number of big things have changed since we last spoke!

That new house I had mentioned moving into? Well, we did, with the help of a diverse group of friendly people armed with high fives and arms around boxes and toasts of cold beers. That little house we moved into has proven to be better than we anticipated. The backyard we initially viewed under a blanket of snow? Best thing about the place. We’ve planted all types of veggies and fruits there (with some help of our next door landlord/master gardener) and I’m currently buried in produce that I’m trying to preserve/can/dry/soak in alcohol as fast as my free time allows. Plus the adjacent patio is the ideal entertaining/happy hour location, and we’ve been soaking up sun, fun, conversation, and contemplation in that little spot as much as possible.

Surprisingly, this is BEFORE the garden went nuts. Now you can't even see that trellis with all the tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash and zucchini that are snaking their way through it..

Surprisingly, this is BEFORE the garden went nuts. Now you can’t even see that trellis with all the tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash and zucchini that are snaking their way through it..

The previously mentioned next door landlords? Oh, are they the definition of Good People. They built us raised beds filled with the best soil. They tore down an old shed and built a new one, stocked with all the yard and garden care equipment we could need. They’ve had us over for cocktails in their beautiful and immense backyard, and they shared their family’s Easter feast with us. They’ve introduced us to a bunch of other really super nice neighbors. Heck, they even waved me over one Sunday morning and gave us a couple of freshly made crepes stuffed with fresh crab and topped with creme fraiche. Truly, truly great, generous people. Our hesitations about living next to landlords are gone.

A big change is that I am no longer driving 120 miles a day to a job marketing tasty craft beer. It had been a long and emotionally tolling job search.

(A quick aside with a few examples of that endeavor… I was a final candidate four or five times over the course of 18 months. I was offered a very mediocre [but well paying] job marketing a product in which I had no interest… that I turned down. I did a shit-ton of research on every place that I applied and produced detailed, personalized cover letters over and over and over again, oftentimes to no response and no avail. One snowboarding clothing company VP had me write an after-interview essay on digital marketing strategies, and after I sent it to him I never heard from him or the company again. Trust me, the list goes on.)

I loved the brewery, loved the product, loved the people, loved the place. Still do! But it wasn’t working for where I wanted to go and where I want to be. When I was offered the new gig of being a full time designer for a wholesale home decor company, I bid a friendly adieu, toasted a few pints with coworkers, exchanged a couple tears with my boss, and very amicably parted ways.

This is my first time being a 100% designer (no hyphenated job titles or duties for this gal!) and it’s already been so exciting. Skills are improving, influences are growing, confidence is… biggening. Biggening? Getting bigger. Broadening. See? I’ve stopped including “copywriter” in my job description and look how my vernacular has languished.

In the three months I’ve been there I’ve already traveled to Memphis and Atlanta, and will likely head to China sometime within the next six months. One of the neatest aspects is seeing conceptual products that I’ve roughly illustrated or patched together in Photoshop turn into real, three-dimensional products that don’t look like utter crap! I’m not diminishing my skills with that statement, it’s just amazing to see something I once considered a hobby, an afterthought, not even my major, turn into a full-fledged career that produces items that people will purchase and give meaningfully to friends or bring out each holiday.

Go to Memphis for the first time? End up in a "Who's Who of Memphis" magazine.

Go to Memphis for the first time? End up in a “Who’s Who of Memphis” magazine.

We’re midst a summer that’s already been a busy whirlwind, and as per usual I’m already bemoaning the oncoming fall. I haven’t gotten enough of a tan yet, haven’t jumped into enough swimming holes, haven’t napped outdoors, haven’t played enough. The weekends are quickly filling up and still it feels like not enough time before the rains return and I can’t comfortably drive around with the windows down.

That all being said, life is darn peachy right now and I couldn’t complain a bit.

On the other side…

May 9, 2011

… Of the Cascades, of The Dalles, of Hood River, of moving out of my house, of becoming a landlord… I have officially lived in Portland for a month now, with the vast majority of the recent stress and madness is in the rear view.

YES.

The months leading up to the move were painful, and while it hasn’t been peaches and cream since then (such as an ant infestation and the water heater dying within the first week my tenants moving in, and our dryer at the new place dying within the first week), the peace of coming home to this other adorable little house with my boyfriend, three cats, and now three chickens mitigates all of the stress.

Sure I now commute 2 hours every day and live in a more dreary climate (most depressing spring EVAR), but man, I dig it. The vicinity to everything happening in the city (such as the Timbers game the other night), the eclectic neighborhood, the amenities… hell, even going to the grocery store is a million times more fun because THERE ARE ACTUALLY ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE THERE. And people are fashionable! I know, I know. The Dalles is a fashion hub, what with its lone Maurice’s and the janky old JC Penney with the glory hole change rooms. But I actually see people who dress like I do! I don’t stand out like a sore thumb!

Did I mention the chickens? I love my chickens. Inherited with the house, our three hens are now named after the Golden Girls. Rose, the little red hen, is the most social and also the one who, up until we built them an enclosure, was most prone to wander the neighborhood. Ruth, the big sassy black hen, has the biggest mouth and will yell her little head off if the other two escape. Blanche is a orangey-buff hen with a black tail, and she’s the most reticent out of the girls. The first two will gladly stop, lower and flatten their backs to be pet. With Blanche it only happens every so often. But watching them take dirt baths or fight over worms or chase us around the yard is the most entertaining thing ever. I greet them every day by going out the backdoor and saying, “Hello ladies!” Barf-inducingly cute.

The cats have adjusted fairly well. The first few days were clearly traumatizing and I felt like an awful cat mom by moving them, but they’re tough. Even my nervous, anxiety-ridden cat hangs out in the open a million times more often than she used to, and has begun curling up with us every time we might sit down to watch TV.

And of course, living with Sean has been nothing short of great. For a guy who had only one pet growing up (a hamster named Jackie), he’s taken on caring for and cleaning up after 3 cats and 3 chickens remarkably well. SO MUCH POOP. But living with him has made the word home an entirely different thing, and we have the. best. time. together. Even chores are fun. It’s ridiculous.

After 5 weeks the house is almost completely decorated (quite sensationally so, if I do say so very biased myself), we’ve hosted a giant party and an intimate brunch, started cleaning up the yard and landscaping what will be an epic veggie garden, and have met a number of the neighbors. It feels so domestic. So idyllic. So nice.

Everyone’s favorite chore: Moving!

March 11, 2011

As I’ve started the long and lengthy process of packing up my house, it amazes me how much crap I’ve filled it with in the 5 1/2 years I’ve lived there, and how much of it I haven’t touched in almost the same length of time. Living there on my own for the larger portion of my 20s has allowed my accumulation of things and subsequent lack of organizing these things go on for far too long.

Things found, categorized as surprising, “I forgot I had that!” or annoying:

  • 2 partial boxes of sander sandpaper inserts, 1 caulking gun, caulk and dropcloths from initial renovations (surprising)
  • My college acceptance letter and notebooks from my favorite courses (surprisingly elaborate, in retrospect) (I forgot I had that)
  • A giant plastic bin full of CDs and CD cases I rarely use anymore (annoying). I spent an hour last night sorting through those and reduced it down to one beer box.
  • A giant, 6″ thick stack of red foil sheets, obtained from a previous job, kept for potential future craft projects (I forgot I had that/annoying)
  • Mix CDs from various dudes I’ve dated (surprising)
  • Mix CDs I made ages ago, the track lists of which make me recoil in horror (annoying)
  • A ziplock bag full of foreign coins (surprising)
  • 3 almost identical containers of black acrylic paint, bought at very different times and all haphazardly thrown in the highly unorganized arts + crafts box (surprising)
  • Old costume jewelry of my great grandmother’s (I forgot I had that)
  • Various letters and photos tucked in between the books on my bookshelf (I forgot I had that)
  • A box of old floppy discs… with no appropriate disc drive (annoying)

floppy disc porn funny old school

Despite my initial horror at the concept of finally going through the contents of my relatively untouched closets, it’s been a fun experience, rediscovering a lot of these things. Sean helped me with it last weekend and got the biggest kick out of the leather day planner I kept for all 4 1/2 years of college. He’d flip through and find my doodles, to do lists, scores on tests, schedules for dances and dates… I was going to throw it out but he insisted I should keep it.

Moving day is exactly THREE WEEKS from today, and I’ve only really started packing the upstairs of the house, so I’m sure many more surprises and annoyances await.

 

Hoarders, an Ode to Cleaning

November 29, 2010

We watched Hoarders for the first time last night, and never have I felt a stronger urge to clean. I don’t think Sean has either, because he got so antsy during the 44 minute episode that the moment it was over he shot up and raced downstairs to start scrubbing overlooked corners and throwing things out. Unfortunately we were at his apartment, so it bore the wrath of A&E induced OCD and my little house is still (comparatively) filthy. I think I’ll be watching Hoarders at home just to inspire me to break out the old toothbrush and start scrubbing oft neglected nooks and crannies in every room.

When I was house hunting a little over five years ago, we came across a house like these. Initially it seemed no different than the other houses we’d been looking at. However the first detail we noticed was a foreboding omen: a thin, soaked through paper plate underneath runny, canned spaghetti sitting out on the front step in the rain. Just, abandoned there, being mildly disturbing. We side-eyed it warily and followed my realtor up the steps.

When the door opened and we stepped in, our eyes took a while to adjust to the darkness. The only light came from a giant television at one end of the living room and there were things (magazines? newspapers? bodies?) piled up waist high everywhere. Our feet were standing in the narrow path that had been cleared through the indistinguishable rubble, and in the dark were small dogs/creatures/things scurrying about. Two large women sat in front of the behemoth television and squinted at us intruding upon their hovel. Our sense of politeness persevered, and despite initial impression and the vague horror stirring up within our guts, we continued through the house.

My dad, eternally optimistic and sometimes a little too daring, opened an adjacent door and was startled to find a wire-thin, strung out, topless and clearly unwashed man sitting on a twin sized mattress in a closet-like room. Dad apologized and the guy kind of waved it off and returned to his… sitting. Arms close at our sides, we continued on to the kitchen. The small rodent dogs of the shadows were yapping and I was trying not to step on or trip over them lest they make me touch anything. One of the couch creatures hollered at them to shut the hell up.

In the kitchen there was a little more available floor space, but every single square inch of the counters and dining table were covered in filth. Dirty pans, dishes, old food containers, mold, mildew, flies… it was horrendous. At this point I was dying to get out of there, afraid the junkie from the adjacent room was going to come out with a rusty shovel and conk us over the heads at any minute. I refused to touch anything. My lovely, kind realtor tried to remain professional, but you could tell that even with his years of experience in a rural town he was recoiling ever so slightly. Dad once again decided to do the unthinkable and GO INTO THE BASEMENT.

The basement! Like nothing bad could be in there! Thank god I hadn’t seen the movie The Descent yet, otherwise I’d run out screaming.

We decided to not return the way we came and instead took the nearest exit toward the backyard while we waited for dad to (hopefully) return from the depths of rained-on-canned-spaghetti-on-the-outside, Hoarders-among-us on the inside, creepshow house. When he came out he said that there wasn’t anything in the basement except a dirt floor… and a bare mattress on it that clearly had been used recently.

With that note we bushwhacked our way around the outside of the house, desperate to return to the safety of our cars and never look back.

I don’t know how it happened, but someone eventually bought that house and fixed it up, and today it looks quite nice… from the outside. The inside? Well… I’ll keep an eye on Hoarders.

Housing Quandaries

November 19, 2010

I’ve owned my little blue house now for five years. It’s been my home ever since college, and I established it all on my own with my little kitties. I painted the rooms bright, vivacious colors. I planted gardens that (more or less) offered bounties of delicious edibles. I kept cozy next to the fireplace or in the hot tub. I held parties with friends. I made dinners for dates. I stayed in on rainy weekends and watched marathons of LOST or Firefly while doing laundry. I operated my freelance design business. I got it dirty, I cleaned it up, and then I got it dirty again. I’ve learned immeasurable things about life, living, being a grown up, and having tangible responsibilities. It’s been my home.

With all that in mind, as I previously mentioned I’m moving to Portland in the spring to live with my lovely boyfriend of two years. It’s our compromise. I’ll drive 45ish miles through the Gorge to work in Hood River from east Portland every day, he’ll drive (or take transit) across the city to the west side for his job and jiu jitsu. So my little house… well its future it slightly up in the air. It all comes down to…

RENT or SELL?

  • Pros for renting: I keep the house and have a solid investment property in an ideally situated neighborhood in a town that’s up and coming. Over the years I can continue fixing it up (it is 92 years old, after all) and it could always be a back up living situation.  If I’m lucky I might make an extra few bucks each month.
  • Cons for renting: I have to be a landlord. I’m not sure I can be a landlord. I have to find a reliable renter. I’ll have to work on the house more over the next several months to fix it up to rental standards. I’ll have to have a reserve of money (something I barely have now) for upkeep. Since I’ll be living 80 miles away, my locally-based dad so kindly offered to help out with things should I rent it out. Super nice of him (hi dad!), but I hate being an extra burden. There’s a good chance I won’t make money from rent income, and it’s iffy if I’ll break even.
  • Pros for selling: I take Sean’s advice of “separating emotions and business”, call my time with my home wonderful and take it off my hands. It has huge curb value (in fact when I was house hunting it was the first I fell in love with from picture alone). If I’m lucky I might make money off of it that can go towards paying off my student loan, a credit card, my new car, expenses for moving to Portland, or maybe even a fun trip thrown in there, if not put away for investment purposes. In today’s economy, many say that having an investment property isn’t as useful or as sound of advice as it used to be. By not being tied down with a mortgage I am freer to go anywhere and do anything.
  • Cons for selling:Who knows how long it will be on the market in today’s economy, or if I’ll get a good price for it? Plus I’ll probably have to do a lot of work on the house to prepare it for showing. I’d lose my first and only investment property.

Things I’m doing now to prepare for the move, no matter what the above situation is:

  • Selling my hot tub. I don’t use it enough to warrant paying for its energy costs, and the money from it will go toward my first couple car payments, some house expenses, and maybe Christmas. The buyer is picking it up this weekend.
  • Selling my old car. That money is all going toward car payments for the next of the year. I haven’t found a buyer yet, but have gotten some great advice on pricing and marketing.
  • Getting rid of a lot of junk. I need to separate myself and my emotions from all my stuff. Like many I’ve been reading Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity, and he stresses placing more importance upon experiences (going out with friends for dinner, taking weekend trips, taking big trips, doing something new) versus this accumulation of physical stuff. While I’ve always believed in experiences over stuff, I have a LOT of junk that I keep around for nebulous emotional, “maybe if” circumstances. Plus it’ll be a pain to move next spring. So it’s consignment stores, Craigslist, eBay, garage sales, thrift  stores, giving away to friends… the works.

Any opinions on the above? Advice? Tips, tricks, candy? Ooh, cookies??

Noah’s Creepy Ark

October 6, 2010

List of living/kinda living/killed by cats things I’ve found in my house that are not welcome there:

  1. One Black Widow (I’ll bring back this story later)
  2. Three House Centipedes
  3. One Quail
  4. One Bat (dead, on bed)
  5. Three Raccoons
  6. One Neighbor’s Cat
  7. One Stray Cat
  8. One Lizard (dead, inside couch)
  9. Seven Birds (dead)
  10. One Bird (living)

See below for my most recent discovery.

Crazy cat lady strikes again

October 9, 2009

While I was watching Jim and Pam get married, I turned my pile of recycling into an outdoor cat house.

I swear, this is being a good pet owner. Not crazy.

I swear, this is being a good pet owner. Not crazy.

My reclusive cat Buffy spends her outdoor time hiding out in my side yard/patio. Sometimes she’s so freaked out by the other cats bullying her that she won’t come inside. Fine in the summer (minus the raccoons eating all her food and washing their grubby paws in her water), but in the winter that isn’t so great. I’ve been contemplating a cat house (read: not whore house) for her for a while. As I was breaking down a bunch of cardboard boxes last night I realized that I could turn it into her house.

I made it water resistant with stiff plastic sheets that held some kitschy placemats and a bunch of packaging tape. I tore apart a long cardboard tube and made reinforcing “columns” as well as a top beam, should anything decide to sit on the “roof”. Then I made a little bed like structure to go inside, also covered in plastic and tape. I’ll put an old towel in there once I get it outside.

Crazy cat ladyness aside, not a bad way to reuse my junk. If I was really enterprising I’d paint it, but I think that puts you into the crazy cat lady realm. Maybe I’ll scrawl a sign that reads “Cat Cardboard Hobo Shack” instead.