Her Green Figs

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.

27 May 2006

Restoration Hardware

I'll all about shopping for ceiling rosettes, picture rail hanger-thingies, period switchplates, and duct registers. I'm trying to figure out how to paint (one color above the picture rail, another color under, and then trim--should it contrast or monochrome?, each room a different color? each room the same color but with an accent specific to the room? If so, then where? and what color? Many, many questions).

I don't know where to hang curtain rods in these rooms. The picture moulding is at just the same level as the top of the window moulding and I don't especially want to introduce yet another horizontal line into the rooms (already there is baseboard, firebox, fireplace surround, mantel, super-mantel, door casing, plus picture moulding--it's a lot). The windows are topped with significant pediments, and I suspect I should place simple brackets at the outer edge of these, which would put the rod itself just below the picture rail, then the rod could extend out past the window casing an appropriate distance. With a little top ruffling or something, that would make the curtain tops meet the picture moulding spot on. Yeah, that's probably what I should do.

Anyhow, in searching out one answer or another, I came across this choice bit of advice that I just can't resist preserving here. "The armrests of a chair quickly get mucky so clean them up by rubbing with a loaf of bread." I guess the loaf isn't sliced, but is bread crust really capable of demucking armrests? Should the bread be stale or fresh? Does the fiber content matter?

I've found a LOVELY square grand piano here locally and really want it for my new house, though this is surely not the smartest way to spend $2200. It's only $2200 though! How much does it cost to move a piano? That house requires a piano, plus it figures large in my vision of a house full of charming, musical, fun-having guests. I think the finish on this piano isn't quite right though. That can be my reason not to get it. I really want it though!

I have a LOT of wood furniture to refinish to match this house. What a pain. Just sitting right here I can count 9 major pieces that will have to be redone. Luckily, I really enjoy furniture refinishing.

21 May 2006

Dropping Like Flies

There was hardly anyone in the choir this morning. Not sure where everyone was. Unfortunately, many of the people who were there escaped early. I did this, in a way, myself. At the end of our offertory, as we were beginning the presentation hymn, I collapsed. I wasn't feeling ill or anything, just, all of a sudden, I fell into CD and then landed on the bench (could have been much worse!). I tried to clear my head and stand up again, but back down I went, pretty quickly, and there I stayed. I couldn't focus my eyes or stop the world from swimming in front of me. I was very afraid that I wouldn't be able to walk all the way (8 feet?) to the sacristy door, so I just stayed put and didn't stand up. Eventually, my vision settled a little--I could focus my eyes even though everything was still swimming. I sang the communion hymns, even. Then, my conductor happened to be sitting on the other side of me (dunno why), and I told him that I was not going to process out, but would "sneak" out through the sacristy, since I knew there was no way I could walk down that long aisle without holding onto the pews (or random parishioners' arms), and especially not whilst holding a hymnal and folder. I was surprised I made it to the sacristy as it turned out.

The good news: unlike previous "episodes," I did not immediately projectile vomit then desperately need to sleep, and I didn't make a big scene or hurt anyone when I fell over.

The bad news: it was still a bit of a scene to those who noticed, I have a troubling tremor in my hands now, which prohibits me from things like writing and makes very typing very difficult, and I am embarrassed.

My lunch dates took good care of me though. They took care of my car (absolutely no way I could drive), ferried me about, and lent me steady arms and friendly hands for traversing parking lots and stairs. I am grateful.

I HAVE to make a priority list for renovating my new house. Also, a budget. Also, a list of contractors to interview.

16 May 2006


My flaky friend finally came through yesterday and we had a nice afternoon, also discovering that another friend lives right here in my building. These are the first people I've let inside my awful apartment and neither was horrified. Comments included, "this is exactly what I expected of you," and "wow, you have furniture." The first is from a guy with an alarmingly well-tuned eye for style and the second is from a student unaccustomed to grown-up furniture.

The contract on my new house still isn't signed. There was some kind of medical emergency so they're going to try again late this afternoon. I really wish this was settled.

Bought two cheap handbags at Target last night after dinner with the flautist. I like them a lot.

I think I'm not going to go on the retreat tomorrow. I feel like I want to stay here and would now be going on the retreat mostly to fulfill my obligation and because it's "good for me." Those are not good reasons to go and will probably prevent me from getting out of the experience as much as I would want.

I'm very hungry and all there is to eat is salad and the makings for lamb ragout. I don't want either of those. Golly, but I'm hungry!

I cannot wait to put together my new kitchen!!! I think I'll have an island covered in zinc so as to wall off a "hall" from the back door. That will permit some extra lower cabinets. I think I'll run the cabinets up to the ceiling like in the old Trinity kitchen, but I'll probably only do that on the interior wall facing the door. I might do them in a color. Like maybe dark dark wood for the base cabinets and a quiet green for the wall cabinets? That sounds really beautiful and appropriate to me. Still, with 14 foot ceilings, that's an AWFUL LOT of cabinets. Might be a bit much. Might not. I'll need lots and lots of fancy interior fittings in the base cabinets since I won't have a pantry. I think the weird tiny closet where the water heater is could be fitted with a deep and tall cabinet for a broom closet. Not ideal, but might as well use what space there is. I'm going to put the washer and dryer upstairs on the sun porch. I think I could turn the wacko-under-the-stairs half bath into a full one that makes more sense. The problem with it is that the door and the area with the sink are normal height, but then you have to crouch down under the FIVE FOOT CEILING to get to the toilet at the far end of the room. That's no good. I'd prefer to move the toilet right up close to the sink, then put a whirlpool bathtub at the far end of the room where the toilet is, under the window. However, I'd like to drop that bathtub through the floor a fair bit so that the base of the tub is lower than the floor (there's a crawlspace, there should be room). That seems to me a much smarter use of the space, and would provide a second bathing facility to the house. Even if it downstairs.

I have researched the floors of this house. What I will need to do (before painting but after ripping out the kitchen and baths) is to rent one of those big floor machines. I apply a liquid wax stripper, touch up the stain, then apply new wax and buff it up with the big buffer. I can't wait for that part. How do you do stairs? By hand? Not sure about that part.

I also plan to cut a big crescent of a driveway in the front of the house. The front of the lot is enormous and there is no parking for the house now. It needs to be wide enough for two cars to pass and will be lusciously planted on the sides with overlapping daylilies and hosta and artemisia and other wonderful plants. The garden between the drive and the house will be a low border with sweet blooming woods and herbaceous stuff. The garden between the drive and the street should also be low, may include a lawn, and should require almost no care. Tall order. I haven't thought about the back yet. Curb appeal is so important. I'd also prefer to use the wonderful front porch and door and entrance room as the main entrance for guests and for me.

I'm really excited about getting to work on this house. I may paint all the ceilings the color of a Bombay Sapphire gin bottle. I'm positively in love with that color.

14 May 2006

Making Matters Worse

I checked the status of my grad school application late late last night, hoping to cheer myself up. Bad move. "Rejected." If I lose this house tomorrow, that will pretty much be everything I've been counting on. Oh, maybe somebody could let me know that HeartThrob and UnsuitableGirlfriend are engaged. That would really do me in. I'm really very very upset about school even if it does make my life a little easier. No school eliminates my hope of getting out of this awful library work. Now I'll probably have to agree to full-time library crap.

Or perhaps I should take this as a sign to work more on writing/publishing? A beautifully published first novel with a good review from Kirkus might be better than a big blue hood, I suppose. I could probably be as excited about buying new furniture for my new house as I would be about choosing linguistics classes for the fall. Doesn't last as long, though.

13 May 2006

Happy Crappy Birthday

I'm 31.

Yesterday, I signed a contract on my pretty-close-to-dream house. 1905, Arts and Crafts, 7 fireplaces, wide plank oak floors, wrapped front porch, 14 and 12 foot ceilings, huge front and back gardens. Roof and both HVAC units are all less than 5 years old. Needs an entirely new kitchen and bath, no structural work.

My parents hate the address. Mom loved the house, Dad didn't see it, not that that stopped him from ringing me up (for the first time in months) and railing at my for 45 minutes. I haven't told them I signed the contract.

Pinched a nerve in my back yesterday which has me in tears from the pain and unable to walk upright. It would have caused me to cancel last night's plans if I'd had any. It's worse today. Not that I have any plans today either. It's not like it's a special day or anything. Oh, wait.

Just got an e-card from my best friend, who stopped speaking to me about six months ago. I don't believe I'll open it quite yet. I don't think I can take any more disappointment.

When I woke up this morning and hobbled into the kitchen to scavenge for food I didn't have to cook, I hobbled into a big puddle on the floor, warped laminate flooring, a flood stain on the wall, and a big nightmare. I thought it was the dishwasher I recently "fixed" so cleaned up the water, grabbed a jar of peanut butter and a spoon, and went back to bed. A couple of hours later, there was a new puddle and I tracked the source to the hot water heater, though I couldn't find a leak.

So now, I'm spending my sick day dressed and sitting upright in a chair and my birthday babysitting a plumber who is going to install a brand new water heater for the bargain price of $1400. Aren't water heaters more like $500? Geez. I'm definitely installing a tankless water heater in my new house. The whole idea of these giant tanks of water sitting around insults my ecological, my germ-o-phobe, and my rare book sensibilities. Constantly reheating water is stupid and is asking for bacterial and fungal growth. Giant vats of water sitting around is just asking for a flood too. To make things even worse, my mother is coming over to sit and watch the plumber with me and she's just about the last person I'd like to spend my birthday with. I'd actually prefer the plumber, who, by the way, is mildly retarded. Not that I'm qualified to diagnose that. I can definitely assess, however, that he is at least "a little slow."

And, to really polish off the day, BB has not yet made good on an agreement we have and there is $200 and my hopes for a decent birthday riding on it. He's flaked on this before. If he does it again today I don't know what I'll do. It's not going to be good.

To think that I put off a couple of friends who offered to celebrate in favor of a retarded plumber, my mother, a pinched back, a huge puddle, and a big check. Way to go, me. This bodes so well for the year to come.

08 May 2006

Abracadabera--everything fixed!

I've been camping out here in this apartment for a year and a half, though I expected it to be closer to three months. I have unpacked very little (linens, appliances, dishware, glassware, BOOKS, music, clothes) in that time. Also, I have not bothered to fix all the various broken/not particularly well-working problems. I have not lubricated the windows, replaced the toilet flappers, upgraded the laundry appliances, replaced the drooping refrigerator door gasket, etc. However, in the last week, I have fixed BY MYSELF (with the Internet) both the dishwasher and the garbage disposal. HURRAY FOR ME! These repairs make my life much easier. Additionally, I bought myself a rather smashing set of computer speakers and, while this isn't exactly a repair, I file it in the same category--it improves my lifestyle dramatically. For a year and a half I have only been able to listen to music through headphones (off the computer or the iPod) or in the car (iPod or radio). With these speakers, I can listen to my wonderful music collection (most acquired since moving since I haven't unpacked my CDs), read my audiobooks, and listen to my old friends at WAMU at home. I'm beside myself with joy. I almost don't care whether my subwoofer shakes the downstairs chandeliers.

I collected final papers today for my composition class and several students did not show up. I'm alarmed. This paper is in lieu of a final exam and I cannot understand it being too difficult to come to the classroom and hand in a paper. I don't especially want to read these papers. The ones I care about I've already read in draft form, and I'm afraid that I "checked out" of this course awhile ago, with a few bright moments since. Of course I will read and grade the papers and had better do so tonight or tomorrow. Grades are due Wednesday. I'll have a couple of hours to do it on Wednesday morning, but I'm pretty booked until Thursday evening otherwise.

Yesterday, I got rejected by the Ontario Review. I was secretly hoping that they would be the ones who would eagerly accept my story. However, now I can claim that I'm a big publishing failure because Joyce Carol Oates doesn't like me. I still really like her though. So, that makes the following journals that have so far rejected this story: Ontario Review, New Yorker (but rejected with a really nice phone call), Paris Review, Threepenny Review.

I went to Wal-Mart today, partly looking for cheap speakers and partly to buy more crappy workout clothes for next week's retreat (9 days away). I had a pile of crappy clothes and a printer cartridge on the conveyor belt. When I was signing the credit card machine I saw from my peripheral vision the cashier put something under her register--clunk. I checked my bags when I gathered them (something I NEVER do), and there was no printer cartridge. I asked if she had rung it up and she said "No" and pulled it back out from under the counter. She had already started to ring up the next customer, but she voided that, rang my cartridge, and I paid for it. She handed the item to me with a wad of receipt and never once apologized or instructed me to have a nice day or anything. I don't expect much out of Wal-Mart employees, and I'm not really mad, but I am desperately curious just what exactly this woman was thinking. Do printer cartridges not go with crappy clothes? Were the crappy clothes enough for me to buy in one trip? Did she want to save the printer cartridge for someone more important? To be clear, the cartridge was at the very bottom and directly underneath my pile of crappy clothes. It could not have been mistaken to be someone else's shopping. I really don't understand what happened.

I'm nervous as all get out about next week's retreat. I've got crappy comfortably clothes and a new zafu and driving directions. I'm horrified to learn that accommodations are dormitory style. I'm not confident in my ability to complete the training sanely or comfortably. I'm trepidatious about the food. However, I'm also very curious and eager about it all.

My colleague has prepared a participant survey to gather opinions on last week's annual general membership meeting. One question is going to yield data indicating that I'm a terrible speaker. I'm really quite a good speaker as long as I give a crap about the subject, and last week I just didn't. I cannot sell something I don't believe in or care about.

I ruined my beautiful gold-gilted, leather bound hymnal on Sunday, running after an angry soprano in the pouring spring rain. I wanted to help her, and did, but I'm annoyed about the hymnal. I'm professionally trained to treat exactly such an event, however, I'm inherently lazy and I forgot to perform the necessary actions on it yesterday when it happened. Way to go, me.

Got a wonderful idea for a new story Friday night. "Marching Band Jesus" is the phrase that arose in the moment, but I think a more successful title might be, "And Jesus Plays the Tuba." It's going to be about a weird, geeky, silent boy with long hair and sandals who plays the tuba, is the most unpopular member of the high school marching band, and who is involved in coincidences that look like miracles to the rest of the brass section. I think the football team might start to rub his belly for luck before games. It sounds more marketable than my usual fare of too smart suicidal young women at odds with the universe, right?

I'm panicky about my upcoming birthday. I'm very much looking forward to being something other than 30, but nobody special is planning anything nice for me, and this makes me very sad. Why should this year be any different, I guess. Of course it's positively unseemly to plan something myself and issue invitations. Instead, I will plan something just for me probably. However, I have been craving something that Badass Baritone has so far failed to provide, and announcing my wish in reference to my birthday might be a good way of getting it. I am timid in this endeavor. I don't especially want a regular homemade cake this year, but I'm not sure what else. Cheesecake doesn't sound very good; pie doesn't sound good; chocolate mousse sounds pretty good; ice cream cake sounds pretty good. Restaurant/bakery fancy cake sounds pretty good. Acquiring any of it myself sounds BAD.