Monday, August 31, 2009

top 5 reasons the internet is better than having children


(Y'all have "furbabies," and I can't buy a pet now unless it's functional because that name gives me the creeping horrors. I'm sorry, it just does. But as of recently, I have this. It's tiny. It's adorable. Unfortunately it runs very slowly for reasons I can't yet discern, but I will fix that. And in my disturbed world, it is currently a stand-in for human offspring.)

What follows is my own very modest contribution to what is unquestionably an exalted genre. I think it indicates how I have been spending my time recently, and how desperately I need to get to my neglected chores before my girlfriend comes to visit this weekend.

Without further ado, then - the top five reasons the internet is better than having a family:

(5) An Aesthete's Lament. Fabulous ideas on design, timelessness, and perspective on the world. If I had such linguistic discipline, I would be a better blogger. His dining room tablecloth might be beyond forgiveness. But if people weren't flawed, they wouldn't be interesting.

(4) Lauren Luke's makeup tutorial videos. For some reason I find her voice absolutely mesmerizing and I've watched hours of these just to hear her talk. I also accidentally learned how to put on eyeshadow better.

(3) Design*Sponge. I showed you houzz.com - and my internet usage will never be the same again - but I haven't shared this yet. Beautiful writing, they take design and aesthetics really seriously. Most enjoyable in my view for the beautiful photographs, the sneak peaks at the homes of real people (this is much more interesting to me than designers' portfolios), the punctuation by delightful recipes, and the sheer volume of new posts.

(2) The Thrifty Decor Chick. The only problem with design*sponge is that they are just relentlessly modern. I had to have some really sharp words with them about a period bathroom that somebody gutted to put some appalling hotel look into. Really, now. It looks like a hotel. And the hotel it looks like will invariably redecorate inside of five years, so what earthly reason was there to throw out that beautiful antique bathtub? Anyway. Sarah the thrifty decor chick has a blog that I think is morally superior: she buys honest-to-God inexpensive things at the Goodwill (that's my favorite furniture source!), she taught herself to use power tools from the novice state, and she shares everything she learned with her beloved readers. God bless her.

(1) 999reasonstolaughatinfertility. Fabulous as all of the above blogs are, they can't fairly compete with the best blog I have ever read or will ever read. I stumbled onto this from another blogger, but Naomi is brilliant, simply brilliant. And not only gifted, but personally responsible for bringing lightness and joy to many, many infertiles. It's not just that her top ten lists and situations are amusingly written. It's that they're soul-searingly true. I do think about how I could "beat" all my friends who are on baby number two (or three) if I had quadruplets. And I don't think about it in the humorous sense (although that's what I say if I mention it out loud). I actually want to beat my fertile friends by carrying high order multiples. I don't mean it's an unadulterated goal - I can see a lot of drawbacks - but there is a level at which this is really, really attractive. And she knows (of course she knows), and when she says it, it's funny. Plus, "cervical mucus office supplies" may be the funniest thing I have ever read.

Good night, internets. It's past my bedtime and I am soooo tired. And my house is a mess and I didn't go running despite the beautiful weather AND I didn't find a 2GB SDRAM card (how hard should that be really?), but TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

personality #319

I would add as a disclaimer to my last post that I chronically exaggerate, but nobody is paying me any attention anyway, which is just as well.

I now write with a musing in a different direction. Not purely because I'm that mercurial; I had provocation.

On the ride home from work I read the morning's prayer (I'm behind). Today is the Feast of St. Monica, so the verses include a general endorsement of Christian motherhood (St. Monica was the mother of St. Augustine, who lived a generally dissolute life long into adulthood. She was famously told by St. Ambrose, who refused to lecture the wayward Augustine, "It is impossible that the son of such tears should perish"). The morning prayer included Psalm 113. Which in turn includes,
From the dust he lifts up the lowly,
from his misery he raises the poor man
to set him in the company of princes,
yes, with the princes of his people.
To the childless wife he gives a home
and gladdens her heart with children.
I note that it has been several years since I have read such words and interpreted them as a sign that I personally will have children. There are a lot of loopholes in there anyway - my heart could be gladdened, for example, by looking at Anne Geddes pictures (and in general that does gladden my heart. I find her charming). Of course there is a temptation to read the last two lines in chronological order - first I'll get the house, and then the children will come.

But this brings me to what I see as the really important point here. If a wife is childless, no question that children for gladdening purposes will need to be provided in some fashion. But you can be wealthy and childless, as our culture amply demonstrates and the Old Testament faithfully recorded (Hannah, Sarah, and Rachel would all be examples). So you can certainly be childless and own a home. Nevertheless, the psalmist is clear that the childless wife is to be given a home (that one, being more literal, has fewer loopholes than the gladdening bit). As I see it, this can only mean one thing:

God knows I need a house.

He's right, of course. His time might not be occupied with provision for me to have a clawfoot bathtub specifically, for example (though I think I can probably 'help myself' with the assistance of ordinary grace as far as bathroom fixtures are concerned), but it's been years and years that the yearning for home, more subconsciously and later consciously, has been part of my life. It was near an obsession for a long time - not buying a house (that's more a hobby/obsession and a little more recent), but having a home. I never sorted out why I should be so passionate about this (maybe something to do with a very tumultuous home life growing up), but it did lead me to assert confidently my strong opinions on matters such as the importance of snow and good architecture. One belongs in a certain place, and one ought to realize and embrace that.

And ultimately I wanted a specific location to be home, home that would be safe, and welcoming (to me and everyone else), and joyful, and stable as a compass point - always, wherever in the world or in your life you are, there it would be, orienting you throughout everything: home. The abstraction of which always having freshly baked bread coming out of the oven is a small concrete manifestation.

I knew this, because wandering through my head dozens of times a day at points in my life, plaintively in the hardest points, has been the phrase, unbidden: I want to go home. But there was nowhere to go. I feel this less pressingly lately, but I hear it still; and I know that in the middle of, say, a trying workday, I don't, specifically, want to drive to my house. There's something else, possibly including or maybe beyond that, that I'm reaching out for. I'm not over-investing in home ownership, I don't think; I don't believe that the specific act of buying real property will make all this change. Some added something on my part must be contributed as well, I'm sure. But I think it will be a start. And I am comforted that in that conclusion I am joined by (my interpretation of) holy Scripture.

rabbits

So last night my sister was giving me the update on my parents' ruining of my baby brother and sister (one nice thing about not having kids is that one cannot be responsible for this sort of horror - we can't do much to help the kids at this stage, but I don't know how they'll ever be healthy adults), and she mentioned that in better news, my elder cousin is expecting. I managed to sound upbeat and congratulatory with not a note of anything else. Infertility has made me a good liar.

Now, my cousin is three years older than I am, so maybe it's fair for her to win this one (not that I will be placing at all, but whatever). She married two months later than I (so we've reached four years of marriage and they haven't yet), but I think they started trying about two years later. I also think she might not have the same boundaries with respect to what treatments she's willing to do. I'm not interested in relinquishing my boundaries anyway, baby or no baby. And I know that she was sounding out her mom (that's my aunt who was on all those fertility drugs, BTW) as to what she'd think of having adopted grandchildren (of course her mother said it made no difference at all).

So I'm happy for her. I don't expect to have children of my own; I don't know what I'd make of the sunny news of my own pregnancy at all. Whereas I would have been sad to hear that she could never have her own children (note to adoptive parents: yes, I understand about own. But you understand too).

You know what the problem is? When I heard that they were having trouble, I figured they'd get their bfp in a few months, and no skin off my nose - just like the rest of the world. But when I heard they were looking at adoption, I thought we might really have something in common. So she's four or five months along - a traitor, then, to my very, very small world. I can't let anybody in here, because it doesn't hurt when someone out there does something I can't - but I am very possessive of the people in here. Of whom there are, on most days, just the one.

Of course I know that I've had other reasons to be upset and unhappy lately. I don't know what to do with my husband any more, for one. I married a good Christian (you know, with his faults) and a cradle Catholic, and my faith is (was?) central in my life to such a degree that I wouldn't have married a non-Catholic. I know, people do, and do a good job with it. Not me. I now seem to have contracted a mixed marriage (that's a canonical term, y'all - has nothing to do with race) by bait-and-switch, because I appear to be married to a garden-variety Nietzsche-reading undergraduate cynical agnostic. I pray for him, but it's not having an effect and I've had it. I don't have patience to listen to more than about thirty seconds of how there's no logical reason to believe in a loving God and maybe somebody or other was wrong about evolution (I could not possibly care less about evolution), and I am not looking to develop such patience. (I did try sitting quietly and listening, but I found my options are between yelling at him and ignoring him. Between those two I am largely indifferent.)

His new job involves traveling a lot, and Sunday he is planning (apparently they may change this plan until the very last second) to leave for a month. I was initially upset that he would be gone so much, but now I can't wait for him to leave. I am emotionally exhausted and I would like to spend a month entirely, uninterruptedly alone. Unfortunately I have to go to work, but I will try to be alone as much as possible.

I also brought up last night that I need to schedule this giant surgery, and would like to do so before he leaves for a month. (I know there's going to be a lot of wait time before there's an opening.) Apparently he thinks it's a great inconvenience for me to suggest that he persuade his work to tell him when he will be in the country. You know what, I don't care. I'll be drugged up, unable to drive, probably walking only with difficulty, but I'll just call a cab. Why make it his problem?

In lieu of ranting (see how that didn't work), I was going to take this oppportunity to post something that has been rattling around in my head that I find amusing: the phenomenon of hysterical pregnancy in rabbits. We had rabbits growing up, and apparently the presence of male rabbits causes them to believe (falsely) that they are pregnant, and begin building a nest (for which they rip out their stomach fur, to make the nest soft, you know, until they are bald in patches). I've actually seen this happen. But the internet says it isn't so - hysterical pregnancy happens in dogs, cats, and mice. Oh - and humans. New one on me. (The 2ww does not count, btw. Wikipedia helpfully explains the symptoms.)

But my search terms turned up this fascinating and extremely sad piece, which I am guessing is autobiographical, not fiction. I reiterate that it's sad. But very well done. And I am intrigued by the freaky picture, and its implications for, of course, marriage - and male fertility, I think.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

query

I know I've been absentee. My laptop's on the fritz. And I've been musing. Off the tamoxifen (still in pain). And missed an RE appt. (But still scheduling surgery.)

Anyway, I have a question. Would you rather have a leg amputated, or be infertile?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

promises, promises

First of all, my step-grandfather has apparently rallied (my younger sister, my informant, is out there for the wedding and to visit him in the hospital with my stepmother and father). The prayers of bloggers are powerful!

Second, as I said I would, I have pictures of this house. I'm not the best photographer and neither the lighting nor the social conditions of my photography were remotely ideal. But the resolution is good enough that you're going to get a good strong impression of what I saw. And what I saw almost justifies invoking the Lord's name, because the forces of this world would not be enough to persuade a healthy adult with access to a sledgehammer not to raze this house to the studs. I want a fixer, and just this week I said that I wanted a really ugly house, to ward off other buyers - just no structural problems. (Mr. Realtor, husband of Mrs. Realtor, conveniently had no earthly idea about any element of the home's condition - roof, water heater, furnace, wiring, plumbing, and foundation were equally a mystery to him, and he showed no special interest in finding out. So I can't include that information in my calculus at this point, except to note that everything I could observe was sorely neglected or, worse, updated by an idiot.)

However, I don't know that I was psychologically prepared for something this ugly. You see, I can understand neglect, a la house #2 (the Virginia-side Victorian with the weird land lot situation and the elderly couple who hadn't updated anything ever, except the furnace and water heater were new - and they get lots of credit for that). What I apparently have no patience for is that a nineteenth-century house should have had all its visible features fabricated by an amateur in the benighted 1960s - and not touched since then.

Without further ado, I proceed to the scary photos. Let's start with the kitchen:


First of all, yes, that paint is toothpaste green. Second, that is faux brick on the wall - and it's not even the good faux brick, it's very thin plastic, plus, again, it's painted light green. Don't get me started on the lamp in the corner of the frame. Obviously the formica countertops go - that's not offensive, just par for the course. But what you can't see are two large problems that have me stumped. First, the cabinets are all at goofy angles and have flat fronts - clearly put in by an amateur carpenter, probably the culprit for the rest of the house's carpentry (brace yourself). In other words, not even the boxes can be salvaged. And since I don't think I have snooty taste in cabinets (I just want white ones, OK?), I wasn't expecting to redo boxes. Second, the stove (which you can see - it's actually surprisingly un-terrible), the sink (of which you can see the corner), and the fridge (out of the frame) are in a straight line. And there is nowhere to put one of them to form a triangle.

See, this is the wall opposite the one with everything on it:


Should we buy this house, this space will get my antique-buffet-with-white-paint-and-butcher-block-repurposed-as-kitchen-counter/island. (It's about 4' wide.) Don't know what to do about overhead cabinets there - I'll think of something. The opposite side of that wall does have a laundry sink, so a sink could go there, which would create a triangle, but then the sink's not under a window. Fridge or stove would be too deep for that space. I'm stumped. This doesn't happen a lot.

Also, the homeowner, who is a sadist, mentioned that there had been an old cast-iron sink there - which they threw out. Now, I don't hate stainless steel sinks such as this place has, but a cast-iron farm sink? Like this one:


It could do a lot to redeem this wretched space (if it's redeemable at all). And they threw it away. Because they hate me.

Then there's this wall, which shows off the level of carpentry skill pretty well:


The wall is wider than it looks, 4 or 5 feet. So it wants a big early-American hutch - the right depth for the wall, will store lots of dishes, I don't have to install cabinets, helps the overall look - all good things. I note that storage in the kitchen is actually not a problem - my buffet and hutch would obviously help, but there's also a decent-sized pantry behind the door in the corner in the lamp-and-table picture above. The problems are counter space (a little) and layout (good grief).

OK, moving on. Because I have to punctuate that with some good news, here's the laundry room:



What's the good news? It's a really good size. I'd put a deep freezer in there instead of a second fridge (and what a convenient place for one!), but it has plenty of room for that, the laundry sink (lower right corner), a w/d, and my green Shaker cabinets of earlier serenade.

Also adjoining the kitchen is the dining room. Here's a shot looking in from the kitchen:



Those? Those are cupboards. They were lovingly built by the owner's late stepfather. Also, the ceiling is covered with lime green trellis wallpaper - the first time I have ever lamented a high ceiling. It's nice to have built-ins in the dining room, but those are not built-ins, they are penance for my many sins. And whoever buys this place, I am confident they will be gone within hours of closing. I will note that I like the old fixture. The room is a decent size, though not as large as the dining rooms in houses 1, 2, and 3.

Through the dining room, you can see the living room. Below is another shot of it. It does have a nice windowed nook (looks out onto the lovely wraparound porch). Of course, two sides of the room have double-wide doorway openings and the other two have large windows, and the room is not large; so there is nowhere to put a couch. But who needs a couch? Anyway.


Here is the room they are calling the library. And I will tell you why. Because the usual suspect, in a premeditated act designed to cause me grief lo these many years later, lined several of the walls with bookshelves. Now, I haven't done nearly as many home improvement projects as he evidently did, but I can say with confidence that I would not have put up bookshelves that are uneven, sag, lean, and have nothing to recommend them aesthetically - because once I observed that this was so, I would hire a carpenter to fix them, even if I had to forego food for a year to cover the cost.


Close inspection confirmed what you already suspect about the fireplace: those bricks are real, but they are not nineteenth-century. I expect another 1960s culprit (though at least they are solid and even), but I would just paint them white and consider it a mercy. With regard to the mirrors - the less said about them, the better. (Unfortunately, the homeowner did not know this, as he took credit for their installation in the presence of witnesses.) I will grant that these fixes are relatively straightforward. It's nice to have a (working) fireplace. It's very nice to have a library, and though the room is fairly open, there's room for quite a few shelves on the walls. My DH and I also discussed the possibility of reversing the living room and library, an idea which has some potential (though the current living room has fewer places for bookshelves).

Now, for another reassuring interlude: to the left of the library is a decent-sized sun room that I think has considerable potential. Specifically, I would put a few more bookshelves in it (of course we'll have overflow) and a nice pull-out (maybe a Chesterfield!) so it could double as a guest room, or someplace to have breakfast. It also contains (to the left) one of the few pieces of furniture in the house I like.


Because the house's previous tenants have not left off the torment theme, apparently the double doorway between sunroom and library once had French doors, which the owners, in their wisdom, ripped out, and gave away. The homeowner went so far as to tell me that they did so with regard to all the double doorways in the downstairs (three in all).


In a fit of optimism, I have decided that this is an opportunity to install pocket doors between the library and dining room, such as above. Incidentally, the downstairs does have one transom, but I forgot to take a picture of it.

Oh yes. There's a downstairs half bath off the sunroom. This shot captures the stunning decor. The bad news is that we'd have to redo fixtures, floors, and walls - everything in it. The good news is that the toilet and sink are clustered on that one wall; the majority of the space is empty. I first thought of a corner shower and was discouraged by the two windows - no way they could survive the moisture.


But when I got home I realized a 4' clawfoot (with a shower curtain all the way around if we wanted to do showers) would take care of that. Sadly, I forgot to measure the width, but even if it were under 4', the clawfoot could go in at an angle, like so:


Obviously, that bathroom is a lot bigger, but it's an idea, right? OK, let's move on to another happy interlude. The front door opens onto a foyer (which is always nice) with a stairwell:


It has some structural resemblance to this one, right? I think I could do something here.


The upstairs bathroom is a full bath. It doesn't even have one nice original fixture - the tub is acrylic so old and ill cared-for that it's yellowed. I'd say knock down that little wall, replace it with a clawfoot (of course), ditch the vanity, maybe keep the wall tile and the toilet. Also, beyond the sink, there's a door into a closet (square inside, with a hanging clothes bar). Hasn't been cleaned or painted in decades, floor is uneven, unfinished boards. But a good place for a closet (or a separate shower if one wanted - but this closet will come up again later).


Not much to say about the bedrooms. Of course the decor is awful, but that's really just paint and rugs. Here's the master:

Hard to tell from the picture, but it's an OK size. Would fit a queen bed (what we'd like next) and a dresser. Has a double-wide closet - that and a wardrobe would probably be enough. There's no place for a master bath to be added. There are two more rooms, one quite small, each with a closet. Same general idea. The only real comment is that there are only three bedrooms - and no build-out potential (I was sure this house had). First, there's only half a basement. The realtor discouraged any idea of finishing it with the point that it will flood in heavy rain (isn't that nice). I can't disagree with his general impression:


So no future finished basement. Oh, and the attic? Doesn't have fixed stairs. I don't think I can countenance having anyone sleep in an attic without fixed stairs, in case of fire. The realtor thought the floor also wasn't designed to take the weight of an adult, which is hogwash. (It's tall enough to stand in, and not a bad size.) The problem is that the structural members may have been inadequately maintained, but that could be repaired.

I looked long and hard at the downstairs staircase and figured out that if a staircase to the attic were installed right above it (yes, I understand this would be extremely expensive), the staircase would end...in the bathroom closet. That could actually work. But, a really huge undertaking. After I got home a simpler idea hit me. I could buy a one-piece metal spiral staircase and put it in that closet. A carpenter would have to steady it and put the appropriate hole in the attic ceiling (and railing and whatever), but that wouldn't require any real engineering or reconfiguring of space. I think that would be OK in case of fire (some homes have metal spirals as their only staircase). Tricky to get furniture up there, but we're clever.

So I guess there's a little expansion potential. It also has a 1-2 car garage (with an attached lean-to that appears to be made out of scraps from the junkyard, is an eyesore, and should be removed immediately. Why the realtor tried to suggest its useful features is beyond me).

Bottom line is, the house has less real space than any other we've looked at. There are several rooms in the downstairs but none is large. It only has three bedrooms and none of those is large either. Neither the basement nor the attic could easily be finished. The kitchen isn't tiny, but none of the ones we saw was any smaller, and this one has the least potential (that I can see now) for a good kitchen layout. It needs cosmetic work on every surface in every room. It may also need considerable structural work - we have no idea. There isn't even a gas line in the street to hook up to (the realtor did mention people install propane tanks to allow natural gas heat and ranges, which is an idea). On the flip side, the location is not to be matched. Really. But if we're willing to make these sacrifices, we could have the Virginia-side house with no basement (how is that worse than a basement that floods?), a smallish attic with fixed stairs, four decent-sized bedrooms, and a bigger living room. Or my recent pet house with the Thomas Jefferson tea nook - that has four bedrooms, a big attic, a large basement that doesn't flood, and probably less structural and cosmetic work to do.

Here's the twist: DH loves this house. He points out that we could fix this house up so it was lovely, sell it for a profit (if we wait a while), and then buy a bigger one in the same town. I see the logic. And I want to be clear that I adore this town too. And I wouldn't mind buying one of its nicer houses that are not for sale and we can't afford right now anyway.

But for less money I think we could get a better house, with fewer things that truly frighten me (and I think I'm pretty scare-proof with this old house stuff). And I want a house in which I can imagine having everyone over for Christmas. I don't know whether this house is big enough. It's definitely not big enough bedroom-wise if we had more than two children (plus it would be under construction for several years). That's not likely to happen, of course. But it's something to think about. And I think my DH's patience would (contrary to what he believes) immediately wear thin if the house weren't presentable even for dinner guests for months (or years).

I've been enjoying this process, but now I'm lost. What should my real priorities be here? I feel completely at sea.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

l'anniversaire

Today is our 4th wedding anniversary. The hpt question, if you're wondering, was mooted when CD1 turned out to be Monday. (That makes my only 25-day cycle on tamoxifen.) I didn't move my consult from Friday (even though that will now be CD5 instead of CD3) because there is only so much I will rearrange my life due to when I get my period (this bar is obviously very low - right where it should be!).

Tonight, to celebrate, we're going to a nearby Afghan restaurant - we have a little tradition of trying a new cuisine each anniversary. I'm looking forward to it, though the special endo abdominal distress that always comes with a new cycle will make it less fun that it otherwise would be.

More exciting is that I finally tracked down the elusive listing agent for house #5, and (assuming there is a realtor in evidence when we arrive) we will see it before dinner. I have my camera with me even as we speak, so I promise there will be pictures!

On a more somber note, my stepmother's father is dying. Yesterday I learned that he had just had a heart attack and his kidneys were failing. He is 80 and has been unwell for several years, and I believe this means the end. He has lived a good long life, but unfortunately was always distant from his children, which hurt some of them a good deal; and I think that mar on their relationship is making this terribly hard for them. (I knew him reasonably well but wasn't close to him. I expect to travel up for the funeral, but I feel that this is a loss for people I care about, rather than a loss for me.)

Moreover, his youngest (who is 40) is to be married this weekend, and I hope the wedding doesn't have to be put off. I don't think he would want it to be either. Please say a prayer for the eternal repose of his soul, and for the comfort of his family.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Aristotle would just be confused

Body

When I did my regular weekend grocery shopping I was going to buy an hpt, bring it home, hide it, wait until Thursday (the day after the day that should be CD1), and if the new cycle hadn't shown up on Wednesday, test Thursday morning. (It will surprise no one to hear that I had already planned the unveiling - I was going to shove the peed-on stick under the nose of my sleeping husband, innocently trying to catch just a few more minutes' rest before getting to work. I had also mentally prepared myself to respond to his inevitable point that the second line was pretty faint - is it possible this is not what you think?)

[Nota bene: All of these dates are still in the future. These events have not occurred and are not expected to occur. I am still not pregnant. ~Management]

We went to bed really late last night, but I dragged myself out of bed around 7:30 this morning to get a temperature around the same time as I take them during the week. I made myself stand up in the bathroom until my eyes focused (since during the week I don't take the temp until after I've hit snooze at least five times, so I'm more awake), and it was still 97.9. The cottonmouth symptoms have faded if not disappeared, and my fairly sincere conviction that it was really possible this time has faded too. I'm calm about it. And I've noticed I already feel weepy - ah, that old familiar PMS.

So I stood in the grocery store, on the point of turning back toward the medical aisle before checking out, and pictured ringing up the hpt, and some high school student drawing the obvious (wrong) conclusions, and me deciding whether to say something reassuringly open-to-life like "Maybe this will be the one!" and I felt ashamed of myself. I don't need one any more than I do every other month. I only need to be patient and the inevitable will happen again. So I rang up and came home.

Spirit


The opening prayer in Mass today (well, I think that's what it is - I'm fuzzier on the correct names for Tridentine Mass parts) was thus:
O almightly and everlasting God, who in the abundance of Thy loving-kindness art wont to go beyond both the merits and prayers of Thy suppliant people, pour down upon us Thy mercy: that Thou mayest forgive us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and grant us what our prayer does not dare to ask.
I often feel in need of a prayer like that, but I've not heard one in those terms offered on behalf of an entire congregation, let alone (once upon a time) the universal Church. I thought that might resonate with another infertile girl or two.

Mind?

I promised (or threatened, in the legitimate view of some) that I would post more pretty house pictures soon. Most of my pictures are "what I'm going to put in my house" pictures, but right now I'm between notional houses. I'm leaning toward house #5, but I'll get to see the inside for the first time this week if I'm lucky (drama with tracking down the realtor continues), so it's more than usually unrealistic to decorate it that thoroughly in my mind. (I have, however, refocused my decor ideas slightly on French country, which I think was used in the US in the nineteenth century, and would go a little better with an old farmhouse than Victorian, IMO.)

But, in my adventures with houzz.com (highly recomend it as a way to spend enjoyable hours in front of a computer when you've nothing else to do - what? You have other things to do?), I snagged not only pictures that will help with my specific decor plans, but rooms that sang melodiously to me the moment I laid eyes on them.

Which is an interesting phenomenon. It's not the same as "what a pretty table" - it's more like "I'm in love." I think it's something to do with the image making it possible to feel just how it would be to be in that place, and what sort of magnificent associations it would have - of peace, or warmth, or companionship, or beauty, or joy. I've no reason to believe they'll be magical for anybody else, but here are my singing rooms:

I can't imagine not wanting to spend hours here talking with - or as - the cook, over a cutting board or a half-dozen pies, making cookie dough, dressing a turkey...


Tucked under the eaves is here a place of honor.


This room almost seems to generate its own sunlight. It does seem slightly odd that there's no baby in it, though.


What sorrow exists that this bathroom couldn't charm away?


Perfect serenity.


If I saw this in someone else's home, the temptation to climb the magical staircase and see what lay beyond would be more than I could resist.


I am convinced I could have this library for decades and never walk by without finding that top shelf intriguing.


I can almost hear a family's worth of voices, talking over each other at dinner...


I could spend the rest of my life curled up on a corner of that couch with a never-ending stack of Agatha Christie mysteries. And maybe some P.G. Wodehouse.


And finally...I think this doorway might lead to Narnia...

Friday, August 14, 2009

we now return

to our regularly scheduled programming.

As some have hoped, my 2ww has really (in the main) been more of a struggle to concentrate on doing my work in the face of the enormous distraction of home decor. You see, in addition to rasmus.com, this week I stumbled on houzz.com. Oh the endless distraction! And it's innocent entertainment with a low emotional commitment - you create a free little account thing (I'm the_misfit - shocking, I know), and then you look through the many thousands of real rooms desinged by real designers, and you add them to your little ideabook(s), either because they entertain you, or because you're redoing your bath and want to see what others have done in similar spaces that you think looks good, or because you're planning to buy an old house and redo the inside yourself because you have been seized by madness. For any of those reasons.

Anyway, I am going to post some pictures - from various sources - of my very favorite rooms here at some point, but right now if your life is really motivated by looking at my home decor notions, I believe you can look at my houzz ideabooks on the website.

Also in that vein, this is the Week of the Wonderful Bathtubs. There are two antique clawfoot tubs right now for sale in this area that I desperately want - one for my imagined upstairs bath and one for an imagined downstairs bath. (There are also two others that, in a less extraordinary week for bathtubs, would also be standouts.) The combined price, while a steal for the items, would be a lot of cash to fork over for a notion. (The DH, when told of one of the items, characteristically said, "Then why didn't you buy it?" This does not help as much as he thinks it does.)

Finally, house #5 just had $40k taken off the price. I would like to see a bit more of a shave there but it's a darn good start. I immediately called the realtor (whom I had called the week previously and speculated was dead when she did not return my call), but now her voicemailbox is full. A call to her office confirms that she is not dead nor even incapacitated. She just won't return phone calls. Or emails. I want to see the house! If I saw the house, and were convinced that I had to buy the house, then I could buy at least one bathtub...right?

I will make small notes on the subject of the fact that I am not pregnant. It is now 9dpo. I expect CD1 to put in an appearance next Wednesday, which also happens to be my fourth wedding anniversary. If I were a different IFer I would say that this is heartbreaking timing, but I actually don't find it heartbreaking. At one time I squashed the impulse to think, "Wouldn't it be nice if next year at Christmas..." and at some point the squashing became unnecessary; should someone now suggest that it would be nice if I had a babe in arms next year at Christmas, I would immediately calculate back nine months and conclude that this would require me to be pregnant starting in March at latest, mean the end of my full-time salary by the end of 2010, interfere with my plans to buy a house and otherwise be an inconvenience that is causing me heart palpitations just typing here about the idea. While I wasn't looking, I turned into a worldly career girl (who is bored of her job) who is frightened of having children because she is afraid of what they would do to her life. I am very tempted to delete that sentence and reframe it somehow less starkly, because I am appalled at the idea that this may be true. But I think that it may be.

At any rate, this has rather obvious implications for my attitude toward the (non-existent) possibility that I am pregnant even now. I'd rather not be. I thought about it and in Mass yesterday I committed the hypothetical unborn child to the prayers of our Lady, who will do far better by him or her than I ever could. And I refuse to feel guilty for "killing" any child who is miscarried because I am ambivalent about pregnancy. If Mary can't persuade our Lord that the child is wanted, nothing I say or do could make a difference. Whether God chooses that I should have a child or not, I will accept it just the same - and I realized, in that moment, that I had achieved what that Jesuit author described in the discernment process as "freedom to the opposite." I'll take either. And once I clear out the debris of the bitterness and other screwed-up-ness with which I have been needlessly cluttering up my life, that one realization will be the ticket to my freedom, which is all I really want. I'm not there yet, but I have hope that I'll get there.

If I make it through what I suppose may be termed my pregnancy scare, I resolve to seize the opportunity now to lose the approximately 12 pounds that are irritating me so, and to approach buying a home not just with fervor but with practicality, because I want the shelling out for closing costs and structural repairs to happen while we have two incomes, and the toxic chemicals (if they be needed) and labor-intensive remodeling to occur when I am my normal self - viz., not knocked up.

On a more technical note, my temperature this morning was a far more normal post-ovulatory 98.2 (and I discovered on reading my charts that I have in fact had about one 98.4 day every cycle). No tri-phasic. However, for about the last two hours, I have had to go to the bathroom every twenty minutes.

My sanity - it was holding on by a thread. When they find me, I'll be draped across an unrefinished vintage bathtub, one hand resting lightly on a scrapbook full of eccentric decor photos from the nineteenth century, a laptop resting on the floor nearby, and my torso obscured by a sprinkling of wallpaper swatches, apparently dispatched by brain fever.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I don't like callmemama any more

It was either a two-day drop or a three-day drop (since I didn't take my temp on 7dpo yesterday). Because this morning is 98.4 - I only have a few temps that high ever (not counting fever).

And shinejil, you're good - I've already decided to stop taking the tamoxifen.

No, baby Irony, this is not an engraved invitation.

I am not pregnant.

Another six days...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2ww

I don't think I've ever written a post with this title and I tried to stop myself. I did. It's one thing if you can't help yourself; but I already have the rage, the pointless resentment, the exhausting fatalism, the horrible biting sarcasm, the approach to faith and fertility that doubtless makes the other Catholics (and the evangelicals, the Mormons, and the Jews - who am I forgetting?) despair. For the most part I have retired from the 2ww, and I should let those with better claim to it suffer in peace.

But no.

I get that you're supposed to have implantation pains around 5dpo, and that my weird, strange cramps - that I got for about an hour, two days in a row, and that nearly laid me out flat for the first twenty minutes - were at 3dpo and 4dpo, and anyway, nobody has two days of implantation pain in a row (unless maybe they have twins with really precise timing, but let's be serious here). I knew the pains were just the rotten endo (with special tamoxifen effects for kicks!), and in fact briefly considered that I might have a bladder infection - but that wouldn't have gone away again. You all understand, though, I am infertile, I am mentally weak. Any new symptom any time after ovulation is an almost irresistible temptation. And I was fighting it. I was.

Then, of course, to mock and scorn me, my temperature dropped from 98.2 to 97.9. Naturally, if I were pregnant, it would be tri-phasic - stay high and then get even higher. Despite my many, many reproductive irregularities, every cycle my temperature obediently drops on CD1, or the last day of the previous cycle. (Which is to say, bi-phasic. My body sets its expectations appropriately low.) Usually to about 97.9, maybe 97.7. This time it dropped at 5dpo. So, what, I have a tamoxifen-induced luteal phase defect, to replace my naturally-occurring luteal phase defect that didn't even result in an early temperature drop? It stayed at 97.9 on 6dpo, by the way. IT'S NOT EVEN THE SECOND WEEK YET.

Today is 7dpo. I didn't take my temperature, because I got up extra-early to take my ueber-responsible self to the hospital to donate some of my blood to the cause of science - specifically, empirical research into the results of a third tamoxifen cycle on the reproductively hopeless. I had to ballpark my ovulation date even more vaguely than usual (with the added twist that my estimate this time was before CD14 - a supposed impossibility, on tamoxifen), so we shall see whether Dr. C believes me about my screwy (even medicated) "fertile" phases now.

But it's not over. My body's going to have the last laugh in this comedy of errors (we'll see who's laughing when I throw in the towel and go on depo, but that is another lifetime and another post), and here is its very latest bit of fun. For the last three days, I have had cottonmouth. I've never had this except with flu or extreme dehydration (I currently have neither), so it's quite noticeable. I know Monday was super-hot, but I really did try to drink lots of water. I usually end up dehydrated at the office anyway (don't know why, it's just drying), but I noticed that my mouth was really dry immediately after taking a sip of water. Which is not normal.

Of course (I should be slapped for this) I consulted Dr. Google about whether cottonmouth might be a pregnancy symptom. Typical lawyer (and apparently doctor) answer: maybe. (Actually, lawyer answer is "It depends.") Apparently you produce more saliva when you're pregnant. But, some women get cottonmouth anyway. Not that I would have a highly eccentric pregnancy symptom starting at FIVE dpo, the day my temperature DROPPED, but whatever. Oh, you know what else cottonmouth can be a symptom of? Crystallization of saliva (sort of like kidney stones) that get stuck in your salivary glands. And since I've read that, I've noticed that my mouth is mostly dry on the right side...of course, nothing hurts, but maybe I will now need ORAL surgery in addition to everything else. (At least that form of hypochondria is not fertility-related!)

I haven't bought hpts in YEARS. And I refuse to buy them...I think. I don't feel remotely pregnant, and have none of the symptoms (cottonmouth and ill-timed cramps do not count). My temperatures would even appear to rule out pregnancy occurring in the last cycle. But what if I'm supposed to test on account of the luteal phase defect (I have one, estrogen deficiency - apparently they come in all kinds)? I know the doctors rely on us missing our periods (or maybe they don't know we're all so neurotic that practically everybody tests), but some people don't, and of course I'll be one of the difficult ones.

I just can't wait till all this is over and I can start a cycle with no tamoxifen and go back to being a plain old infertile again!

Wow. I said it. And I meant it. I just want to get back to getting on with not getting on with my life.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

further decorative items

First of all, I must heap thanks on callmemama for drawing my attention to the auction site rasmus.com (I need a new sub-hobby for a few days, and someday all this browsing will accrue to the benefit of my decor and my budget). It appears to be auctions upon seizure or vacating of business premises - not 100% sure. I've only just started perusing, but so far I've found the entire contents of a fully staged model home on sale (most of the stuff is very trendy/contemporary, but there is one rug I really like, and a Chesterfield-style chair). That auction is Richmond-based, BTW...

There's also an electronics liquidation including two 40" flat-screens for $500-600 (if anyone's in the market). Now I know where I'll go if my DH continues to fuss about needing a scanner.

Participating in one of the auctions is a little psychologically demanding - I took months to stop being frightned of ebay - and I don't actually need large furniture right now, so I will bide my time. But if my copper Chambers stove doesn't work out, I may find a great big old restaurant stove being sold that I would like to take home! (This has long been a notion of mine, and only now do I know where to look.) So definitely something I'm going to get to know better. Though I could do without cleavage chick - seriously, if you're going to show that much of your cleavage (and wouldn't "not" just be better?), you should (a) have a top that doesn't look like an ugly leotard and (b) have better cleavage. Seriously.

Anyway, unable to find new houses for my list (other than one a few miles from us that I found yesterday and got my DH to drive by with me - turns out to be in a questionable neighborhood, as expected), I turn again to shiny objects to put in them. Just in case someone is actually expanding their furniture collection right now (I have an itty-bitty house full, so the temptation would have to be extreme, for me), I shall include purchasing information. (They are all in the DC metro area - the ostensible justification for my doing this as "research.")

First I found not one, but two lovely antique secretaries. This one is a pretty well priced at just $75:


And this one is $200, but has the fabulous built-in cabinets on top (those doors are glass, it says):


I disagree that this design is "very unusual" - I've seen several - but it is the type I'd like to buy for my sewing machine when I have room (it's $75):


I'm probably not going to head out to Annandale to get it, but this $15 antique coal bucket is exactly what I've been looking for to hold my kindling next to the fireplace (yes, I know, wood not coal, whatever, it would work):


Next up, we have an oak pedestal dining table. It's way too expensive at $690, and it annoyingly does not come with the leaves, but it has a rustic-yet-elegant (and very sturdy) aspect to it that I find most intriguing - so I'll have to find its near relative when I do have a dining room that fits a nice long table:


A fully-functioning clawfoot bathtub (looks to be the standard 60") from 1930, for $250 (according to my shopping, one can do better, but not much better):


Apparently this beautiful corner china cabinet is just $100. I want it (but have no place to put it):


This antique walnut dining table kind of blows the other one out of the water (and they're just asking $550 and including leaves!). It was allegedly brought from a European castle - whether this is true I can't say, but it might be too ornate for my future house. It's so pretty, though...


I love depression glass and dessert servers (and, yes, I already have one, but not with the lovely gold edging). This one is just $10:


I think $85 is a pretty good price for a mirror (by normal people standards) even if it weren't antique:



I think $250 is around the going rate for original Hoosier cabinets:



I want this bed frame. It comes as a set with a marble-top dresser (bet it's really a vanity - no picture) for $400:



This pie safe, for $250, is short, with no legs - but it has lovely tin-punching:


This alleged 18th-century cabinet from Portugal is really unusual, but a wee bit pricey at $350:


And I'll round out the antiques-for-sale collection with a grandfather clock for $425 - too rich for my blood, but just lovely:


I also have one or two showrooms. I thought "eclectic" (as decor) meant mixing elements from different periods in a harmonious way, but apparently HGTV uses it in the vernacular, as "funky," because their eclectic bedrooms portfolio was all boringly modern. Also boringly beige, which I thought was really not eclectic. I have somewhat more favorable thoughts about this quasi-canopy, though (ignore the ceiling. For the love of all that's holy, ignore the ceiling):


Now this is eclectic. I'm not doing this in my house, but I love that they did:

Finally, I really like these shades (I know, I have a toile/damask thing going). The curtains are good too:


OK, I think that's enough decor for now. At some point, I have some untethered and meandering spiritual musings about IF or maybe its psychic results, and also why my cycle is psychotic and the tamoxifen is a joke, but I am saving them for when they make more sense, and become more interesting than decor (not by a long shot). Y'all are in my prayers.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

further adventures in housing

I forgot my camera again. I know, it's really not right. But being resourceful, I have pictures anyway.

House #3 (last weekend were houses 1 and 2)

Here is the first house we looked at. It's just a block or two from the most recent "my house," and differs in that it's rather more expensive, has a smaller yard - and everything is already done. (Which I think cuts both ways.)


One of the problems with everything being done is that it is a temptation. Both my DH and I were smitten, but we couldn't do anything rash even were we so moved because it is just too expensive. It has been on the market the better part of a year, and the owners have dropped the price 7.7% (total, over two price changes). My very rough rule of thumb is that all houses in the DC area are initially offered at 20% over fair market value. If this house dropped a total of 20%, it would almost be affordable. I am sure at that point I would find a way. So we'll have to wait and see.

Anyway, on the inside it was amazing. The people who own it have (IMO) exquisite taste. They apparently had a collection of antique furniture already when they bought it, and it shows. They also went for very regal colors - a general dark red and yellow-gold palette. It works really well, but I just think it's a little grand for my taste (also, I tend to like blue). For example, the living room:


That's ornate wallpaper border AND crown molding. Oh, and on the left of the shot, you see the mantel of a non-working fireplace. There's another in the dining room, and a third in the second bedroom. As meticulous as they were with restoration, I'm surprised they didn't get those running again. I think I would. Also, if you can't tell, it's actually a rather small living room. The ornate love seat at right works, but I wonder about our sectional. I like old-fashioned, but I'd like a comfortable living room.

The dining room, on the other hand, is quite large (maybe bigger than the living room?). It has a longish table (seats six?) and a large ornate buffet and an occasional table and several other things and doesn't look remotely crowded. Definitely passes the Christmas test.

Two owners ago apparently added an extension onto the back, in which they built a large kitchen. I think the current owners are responsible for its design, which I think is awesome:


It has a dark red ceramic tile countertop. Not what I would have chosen (if I have to gut a kitchen, I'm leaning toward silestone that looks like slate - it's not granite, it's pricey but you can do your own installation because of the nature of the stone, it's friendly to dishes and can take hot pots, and I found a discount place, of course). But tiles are a historically appropriate choice I believe, and I think they do look lovely. They've also got stainless steel appliances (sigh), including a wine refrigerator (good grief!). The house does have natural gas - they may have hooked that up. The cupboards are white-painted with an antique glaze - which is exactly what I would do if I had to do cabinets. (Wouldn't have done a parquet floor - I just think wood floors in the kitchen would be too vulnerable.)

Actually, one of the charming aspects of the house was how many of the pretties were things I am interested in myself. Another thing they put in the addition was a downstairs full bath off the kitchen, and it has a 4' - or maybe 54" - clawfoot tub. I've been looking at those; the 4' are hard to find, and expensive. I'm impressed with the owners' shopping skills!


And the upstairs bath has octagon-and-square tile - which is on my list of items for which I've found prices in case I need to redo a bathroom in period style (though their white tile is probably more period than the tan I found). Oh, and one of the things I fancy for my imagined library is a Chesterfield sofa (while I'm spending thousands of imaginary dollars, maybe a pull-out!). They had a Chesterfield-style chair in the room where I would put the library (see below).

Upstairs they chose quieter colors - grays and blues for the walls. The master, for example (it has a tiny closet, BTW, and there's one upstairs full bath - no master bath. No surprise, of course):


My notes in general:
  • gorgeous decor. But it would be nice if I could do it and choose my own.
  • love the kitchen. Plumbed for gas - great.
  • attic: has a full-sized one, but accessible only by pull-down stairs. Hmm. Tricky to finish as bedrooms?
  • fully-finished basement: still lots of storage; "family room" pretty small (but could be a guest room); 3/4 bath very nice; tiled area with cabinets but no sink just confusing.
  • yard: smallish. Beautifully landscaped though. Two-car garage = score.
  • extra room downstairs, the "parlor": good place for a library with the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.
  • bedrooms: really there are three upstairs. To be four as advertised, either the "parlor" (which has a closet) needs to be a bedroom, or the finished basement has to count. It's a big house, but if we did end up with lots of kids, it might be the least flexible...?
  • Expensive.
  • if we don't buy it, I need to make notes on their redecorating strategy...

House #4

It was supposed to have an open house. The listing site still says "open Sunday 1-4." But when we got there, there was nobody there. So we peeked slightly. Though it's the same age as house #3 (very beginning of the 20th century), it has an unusual design - the facade is dominated by a "sleeping porch," which apparently dates to a time when there was no air conditioning but people still liked sleep and disliked mosquitoes. (I think my DH is biased against it because of the facade. But he concedes it has to stay on the list.)


I think I would have to decide whether a sleeping porch was the best thing ever once I had one, or whether it was useless and just crying out to be converted to a walk-in closet and master bath. (This is the only house that offers space to add these things without sacrificing a bedroom!)

It has a working wood-burning fireplace in the large living room (that's also the front room - no foyer). Oddly, it's the first house on the list whose fireplace is currently fully functional, though of course they all have them. It also has an addition on the back - the exterior shingles are sort of questionable with the rest of the house and DH hates them (this means he gets to learn how to replace them), but it's got a lot of space and a wood stove:


The kitchen: like the cupboards. Like the pass-through. Like white appliances. Redo everything else.

In general:

  • large living room and family room means one gets bathed in built-in bookshelves (probably the family room above, since the wood paneling has to go anyway).
  • 3BR upstairs, apparently 1BR on first floor (wonder if that's a reasonable bedroom situation?)
  • oil heat...wonder if there's a gas line anywhere nearby? Wonder how much they pay to heat the place?
  • full unfinished basement means a bit of expansion potential. No idea whether it has an attic (the exterior photo suggests maybe a crawl space?). I'd kind of like an attic for more potential bedrooms.
  • good-sized yard; driveway but no garage (which is fine).
  • kitchen is a substantial project. If it's an OK size (and I'm not a living-room-sized-kitchen person), not a problem.
  • decent-sized dining room helps with the Christmas test.
  • on the market close to a year; taken 9% off the original asking price. Unoccupied, and faintly neglected. If they took off another 11%, I think we could swing it.

House #5

How's this for strange: I called the listing broker's cell phone on Friday around 4PM. As anyone knows who's shopped for a house, unless she died, she'll return the call within 45 minutes. She hasn't called back to date. But it looks like this on the outside:


Its facade has won it major points with my DH. I admit, I love wrap-around porches too. The siding is vinyl (which is OK), not wood (house #4 is wood). It's ten years older than houses 3 and 4 - it's the only one on my list so far from the nineteenth century, and I admit this exercises some fascination for me.

General information: it costs the same as house #4 and in fact is just down the street from it. Similar-sized yard. It has a 1.5 car garage (bonus). Also oil heat; same questions as above. Like house #4, it has 1.5 baths (house #3 holds the record with 3 baths), but it has only 3 bedrooms. (Houses 3 and 4 sort of have 4 bedrooms. Houses 1 and 2 really do.) It has a separate library and family room and living room - sounds like one of these could be a first-floor guest room. It has an unfinished basement, and my eyeballing of the picture above says that it has a full (unfinished) attic too - probably only full height in the middle, but still potentially another bedroom or two (plus the basement?) in case we should unexpectedly have a large family. Oh yes, and houses 4 and 5, but not house 3, have first-floor laundry rooms/alcoves. Just crying out for green bead board!

Also, it was listed rather recently. It's been occupied recently but I believe it isn't now. If the pattern holds, it will sit on the market a while (especially if the realtor's recent behavior is any indication of how aggressively it's being shown. There's only one picture of it on the web!). And they will have to drop the price. And it will land...in my price range! I do expect that the inside needs a bit of work (definitely an additional bathroom), but at the right price, I don't think that would be a problem.

Since we couldn't see the inside of the houses, we walked around the neighborhood. As indicated in a previous post, I had done my homework with the aerial photography and knew where I wanted to go. The (not for sale) house I coveted isn't as enticing in person - it's beautiful, of course, but it's two stories, not the two-plus-attic I expected. (Part of its fascination was the huge rambling-ness.)

But the area was even lovelier than I imagined. Tons and tons of trees; tiny near-silent streets; a giant community field had a pickup football game, apparently all town residents enjoying a Sunday afternoon. On the edges there are some huge old houses. We stopped a couple walking their dog and they told us how much they love living there. And yet it's super-close to the metro - I could get to work without difficulty! And street after street of historic homes - it aced the Christmas test. I thought I would never dislodge my DH from house #3 (I think I was right to bring him to see it though. Now I can use it to point out what the fixers could look like, and you have to see one that's too expensive just to get an idea of your boundaries), but he loved the area of houses 4 and 5 as much as I did. We decided we'd buy our house (maybe house #5??) and then tell all our friends :).