Thursday, August 6, 2009

good things

I know I've done something like this before (very early in my blogging, er, career), but it's good enough to repeat. Actually, as before, Julie Andrews provides the proper context, so you need to go here and play the music in the background while you read this post. That is the Approved Post-Reading Protocol (APE).*

Now. One of the allusions is fairly direct. Anyone who has had one eye half open is aware of my obsession with the fabulous Chambers 1953 copper stove (which any sane person would have to be obsessed with also. It's that fabulous). I finally came to the conclusion that even though it is mid-century, I can install it in the century-old home that I am going to buy (more on that later), because it is just that fabulous. The only currently available one may be $1100, but that will be no match for my shopping powers. I will watch, and I will wait, and I will find one that is affordable. The snag is that several of aforesaid century-old houses are not plumbed for gas, but I am going to work on that.

In the meantime, and as I am slowly and painfully trying to extricate myself emotionally from my house - which I could still buy, but it's not a foregone conclusion, and I need to imagine that I could have a different dining room that didn't look like the one at Monticello - I am learning to love again, you know? And so a few days ago at a thrift store I bought three flour-and-rice-type canisters (I did need more than the three I have, even though they don't quite match) for $3.99, and they are really copper, and they are making me smile. This is the definition of sanity, isn't it? Enjoying what's reasonable rather than what's unattainable. Wait, there's another song.

Transferring my dry goods into them did reveal that I had many very small insects in my flour (which fortunately I have not used in a while), which is not the way in which I was hoping small creatures would enter into my life, but some bleach and hot water later, the canister project is in business. (You all get the "bright copper kettles" reference, right? I told you, you need to be listening to the song.)

Right. And speaking of the lives of the small, you remember the great eggplant debacle over which I complained and complained? Frankly, if I could have had a bumper crop of anything, I would have loved basil, but the basil and the rosemary made a suicide pact, and now I am never making pesto and I will make do just fine with dried rosemary, do you hear? But I did figure out the secret to the eggplant, and you will not believe what I found when I got back after two weeks away. My DH had diligently watered (he's a prince!), and even more seeds I didn't know were still there had sprouted (I now have more than twenty sprouts in four containers), and the original sprouts are HUGE. Check it out:

The only problem is that I am not emotionally ready to transplant them to my garden, because there is a bad history with that. Maybe the biggest ones, this weekend. Oh yes, and speaking of the garden, last weekend I went out to check how my staking was doing. Answer: the green pepper plant that got chopped has miraculously stuck by its stake and healed the chop. But that was about all the strength it had, because bugs are getting at it and it looks a little wan. I do see more green pepper buds, but they're tiny. All the rest of my stakes are a dud - one was even leaning on the stalk it was supposed to be supporting.

BUT. Nevertheless, the store-bought zucchini plant has one visible zucchini (about 3" long), and the one single solitary plant that survived me planting it from seed outdoors - well. It was a yellow-squash-or-zucchini (from a mixed seed packet), and I was so hoping it was yellow, for variety. And it is! It has a 3" squash growing too. Also, my darling husband heard that coffee grounds and tea bags keep critters away, and he took it upon himself to deploy them - apparently successfully, because the baby strawberries have not been eaten off the stems this time. Maybe I'll get to eat the next batch. If all goes ahead as it appears, I'll have lots of bell peppers, green and yellow squash, and eggplant in a few more weeks! That sounds just excellent to me.

Anyway, there's lots more. (This post is quite long, but it has pictures, OK?)

First of all, I found the awesomest, most fabulous little town ever in which to look for houses. I can't even tell you - literally, because I'm trying to keep my house-shopping geography a bit vague. But - awesome. One of the main tests for a good house (and if I'm lucky enough that I dare apply the test this widely, a good neighborhood) is the Christmas test. How cool a place would this be to live in at Christmas? I haven't yet been to this town in person (this weekend, I will be), but I already think the answer is: AWESOME. I am (probably) going to two more open houses on Sunday, and maybe one showing, and this time I really will take pictures.

I've been reading, and when I saw their 2007 remodeling project, I fell in love. I think the "after" exterior color is tragic (the original color was perfect), but I confess I coveted the magnificent marvelous (multi-million dollar) house. I'm looking at century-old houses (or nearly), but nothing this grand. And in the aerial photography of this town I'm looking in, I saw houses that were - not similar in style to this one, exactly, but I would say similar in fabulousness. After a few hours of smitten-ness, I explained to myself firmly that such a house is not in my budget (but close enough to tempt me to stretch!), and that it would be appropriate to make this the goal for my second house. (I included both because they're both awesome, but I prefer the one on the left - which is light green with brick red trim in both pictures. And check out that porch!)

I've also decided that I need to focus on my remodeling projects in more general terms. I think some of my notions have general applicability. I've already shared the platonically perfect bathroom, and I think my kitchen color scheme is the right one for any kitchen. And my second-bath idea with the black-and-white damask wallpaper is still good, and I've saved pricing for ceramic hex tile. But there are new territories to discover. For example, I've never really thought about design for a laundry room (when I was growing up, they were always in the basement), but I checked out what TOH had to say, and would you look at this:

It is now necessary that I have green bead-board and molding, and cabinets, in my laundry room. You know, if I get to have a laundry room. (Some of the houses on the list do have them, but then there's the temptation to turn them into an extra bath if the house is shy one.) On the other hand. For all good design elements, there is a place; for most, there are some places, but not others. For some things, there are no good places, because they are bad (I believe the depicted light fixture falls in that category). For black-and-white marble diamond tile, that place is in the conservatory, OK? Thank you.

(The creepy peep diorama is on me, folks.)

Also, I need to make room in my nefarious plans for lots of little things that add character. Such as at least several of the elements in my mother's collection of slightly battered eccentric antique furniture, all of which is in storage on the East coast. Since she lives on the West coast, I am told I may take it home with me, and as soon as I have a home large enough to accomodate it, I will. She has a six-foot tall corner hutch that was her grandmother's for which I have big plans; and a long dining room table; and a library table (you know, high and shallow, for putting against the wall with books on it so you can peruse them from a standing position) for which I have some fine ideas, and I have no idea what else is in there. Could be anything, really; she used a seven-bedroom house as storage for shopping trips with ill-defined goals. (Yes, I know this is where I am headed when the madness really kicks in. That, and cats.) So I need to be flexible enough in my thinking to design around windfall treasures, and also fabulous things I might come across. Such as a copper stove. Or, if I'm lucky, something like this:

I believe my mother told me this design was called a "kissing bench." If your geometry is good, you can see why. (What other function it could possibly serve I can't imagine. You have to have kissing as a serious hobby to invest in furniture just for that purpose. Of course, I take kissing pretty seriously. And I admit I measured our couch before I bought it to make sure it was deep enough to admit spooning, so I guess this isn't off the reservation.)

Or I could have something like this (actually for sale in the DC area) for my kitchen. Who says all the storage in your kitchen has to be built-in cabinets? Not I.

Or maybe this - it's just crying out for Thanksgiving dinner. There's a table that could hold a turkey, a ham, seventy pounds of mashed potatoes, and everyone's best pie recipe and not show the faintest sign of weakness.

I've also been thinking and re-thinking my house shopping goals. One of the open houses I (still) want to attend on Sunday is very near the most recent "my house" (Monticello dining room, cracks in the plaster walls and ceiling, you know the one). This new contender has some better points (gas heat, yard not adjacent to two parking lots, extra bathroom) compared to the other house, and some worse (smaller yard, no working fireplaces, a lot more expensive). It's also completely redone on the inside.

I looked through its transaction history and saw that it had sold for somewhere around $200k in the last decade, and I thought, Why can't I buy a pretty historic house like that? And then I thought, well, that was before they totally redid it on the inside. They might have spent that much again to finish it. And then I realized that I'm being untrue to my goals. Yes, the former "my house" is a challenge, but when I said I wanted a fixer, I did not mean a house with the dining room painted purple and everything else perfect. I wanted to be the person who doubled the value largely through sweat equity, and made a disaster into a showpiece. That doesn't mean I'm putting an offer in on that other house. There are still a lot of unknowns and I'm still thinking about the parking lots adjacent to the back yard.

But it does mean that if we could get the price to a point where we could afford to pay for all the necessary repairs and it would still make sense based on the market, then it will be a definite contender. The realtor let me know that the gas main is right in front of the house, but hasn't been hooked up. I balked, and then I thought, how much will that cost? Only a few thousand, according to my research. I'm an adult. I can get an estimate, take the money off an offer, and even attach the estimate to the offer. This is not rocket science.

Finally, a note from our sponsor: yesterday morning (CD13) my temperature was 97.9. This is not necessarily a post-peak temperature but it's certainly suspicious. And I had just dragged myself out of bed and was still catatonic, so there was no reason for it to be high. Also, the previous day there had definitely been no slippery, but I've just about given up on that mode of analysis anyway. The thing is, on tamoxifen, I'm supposed to ovulate on CD14-17. It's the drug controlling the timing, not my wacko cycle. The last two tamoxifen cycles, I appear to have ovulated on CD14 - but, as before the tamoxifen, my temperature takes about five days to rise after my most fertile CM (not that it's anything to write home about and I am still taking three amoxicillin a day for five days!).

This morning, it was 98.2. That's post-ovulatory, and it's just CD15! I am not allowed to use the word that I am (not) thinking right now. I am irritated, for a number of reasons. First, I can't figure out whether I still have a temperature spike five days after peak CM or not. This annoys me. Second, my body has apparently defied the tamoxifen and gone off and done its own thing, and this annoys and confuses me. Now when will my next cycle start? I'm supposed to have an appointment between CD1 and CD3. Third, even with crazy doses of amoxicillin, I've got no CM to speak of, and this severely irritates me. It looked like there was trying to be around CD8 (the very end of spotting), which I thought was a sign that this cycle would be normal and healthy. But then it gave up. I think the tamoxifen has to be at fault. Fourth and finally, it means our timing was totally wrong (but that's just because someone who shall remain nameless is not committed to this every day thing in the way that he should be), and this makes me angry enough to pick a big fight with my husband last night when he refused to have sex because it was really late. I promised myself no fights over sex on this stuff, but if I have to be in pain for a week per cycle as a result, there needs to be some consistent commitment to the project. As it was, we missed CD14, which caused me to have the fit (just on general principles), but which (based on the temps) might not have been the best day anyway; and CD12, which was probably one day before peak day. ARGGHHHH.

During our argument, my DH said that if I wanted to complain about the tamoxifen, maybe I should just stop taking it. And you know what, maybe I should. This is my third cycle of it. I still want to know whether my CM would be healthy if I weren't on it. It's clearly making my endo worse - this cycle and last cycle, I had a whole week where I had what felt like a cramp in my ribs on the left side. But it's actually not muscular. Which means it's the wretched cysts. I didn't expect this to work and I still don't. We've ruled one thing out, and I'll discuss it with Dr. C at my next appointment, and ask about scheduling surgery. When did I go from being skeptical about that, to resigned?

OK, and because I shall not destroy the general good cheer of this post, I have to share two further things, apropos of nothing (including each other). My open houses are in mild jeopardy, because we have plans to go tubing on the Shenandoah with friends this weekend (plans I am trying to anchor on Saturday, and so far I'm getting a hand from the weather). If anyone is in the area and wants to go tubing with a group that is overwhelmingly likely to be all Catholics, traditionalists, and nobody with kids, and you can keep the IF blogger connection under wraps for the day, you drop me an email.

Finally, you must watch this:

*If you've been reading any federal legislation lately - and I strongly recommend that you do not - you'd understand that this acronym is entirely, totally accurate. Or at least close enough for government work.


  1. I love all those checkered floor in the pictures. Checkered floor + green paint = happy.

  2. You know, I'd love to go intertubing with a bunch of traditional Catholics. I think we'd have a lot to talk about, even if we're coming from different perspectives. :) But I'm about 800 miles away, so I'll have to miss out this time. But it sounds like a blast.

    I have to share more of my silly experience: watch out for utility hook up estimates. They always sound reasonable, but then balloon faster than a Countrywide mortgage payment. I wanted to get my first house off its septic tank and onto the newly laid sewage main, and was told it would only cost a thousand dollars (not including, mind you, the digging and plumbing to hook it up). Then the water company charged me around $4000, on a single bill, and for reasons unknown sent it to a collections agency automatically. Fun!

    The tamoxifen doesn't sound like it's doing you much good, as you've already noted. I'm sorry it's causing you pain (and arguments), and I'm sorry you're now thinking about another surgery.

  3. oh I'd love to go tubing and if I were in the area I'd join you for sure. I love the picture of the laundry room. that would make me want to do laundry all the time. And in my opinion one of the unwritten responsibilities of being a husband is to listen to their wives complain and sympathize. period.

  4. I wish I was closer to you and could go tubing. I love all your remodeling ideas. I'm sorry that your body is crazy and the tamoxifen is not helping/making it worse.