Monday, April 13, 2009

Old House on the Hill

This is the story of the place that I call home – a mid century Cape Cod that sits at the top of 10th Street in East Butler, in close proximity to the baseball fields. It’s a house that’s going on around 60 years old, and believe me, it shows its age.

My husband and I purchased our house in July of 2006, and receiving the key at the end of our closing (in which our real estate agents provided pizza and beer), was one of the best moments in my life, short of my wedding day and giving birth to my daughter Lyric. One thing that I always knew that I wanted to do was buy a house, but I never thought that it would actually happen. The possibilities for home ownership were endless. My husband and I had always rented – from our first tiny efficiency with a spider infestation, to an apartment in a building that had faulty wiring, to a very strange haunted house, to one wayward mobile home with horribly unfriendly neighbors that we rudely nicknamed “the Mullets”... we always had to deal with landlords. I don’t know what it is about me, but landlords and I don’t mix. I don’t think it has anything to do with my personality, because I’m pretty easygoing – I just think I’ve always had horrible landlords. So you can understand my profound excitement at becoming the “lord” so to speak, of my own land.

We knew going into this, that our house was old – but my husband and I fell in love with it and did everything we could to get it. The neighborhood is perfect – there’s a lot of kids around and my daughter has a nice yard to play in. Summer is a busy time in my neighborhood, what with all the baseball games going on. We have great neighbors, particularly our next door neighbors, who go as far as leaving Lyric Easter baskets on the back porch, and invite us over to go swimming in their pool in the summer. But have I mentioned that our house is OLD? Old with a capital OLD old? And with any old house, there’s LOTS of renovations to do – capital LOTS lots. Renovating our house has been a slow process. The thing is, I have lots of ideas, and not a clue how to make them happen, and my husband – well, he has tools but not much of an idea how to use them. See, if it were up to me – these things would be done in my own creative way – but I have this large thing holding me back – my husband. He wants to do things the “right” way, whatever that means. So that involves saving money and crap like that – you know, things normal people do. But I have no patience.

The first thing we did was make the basement livable – we knew that we were going to have Lyric’s first birthday party at our new house, so we wanted there to be some room for people to hang out. We painted the walls down there, and the floors, built a bar out of the old workbench in the corner – it was like a whole new place. Of course now, three years later, it all needs redone, but it works for what it is, as my husband calls it – “the mancave,” where he hangs out and his band practices. The kitchen was our second project – we started on that two years ago – replacing the carpet (who puts a carpet in a kitchen?) with new flooring, painting the walls – and really – it’s my favorite room in the house, because I made it mine in many ways – the color scheme was my idea, and yes, it still needs work – the oven is a Hotpoint drop-in from the 1970’s, and that will be replaced this summer, along with the countertops. Eventually we’ll get around to replacing the cabinets and adding an island, but at the rate we’re going, I look for my daughter – who is three right now- to be in high school by then.

The bathroom is another story completely. Our bathroom is the bane of my existence. There’s linoleum tiles on the floor that are coming up, paneling on the walls – and a bathtub that was never meant to have a shower – have I mentioned the paneling? Yeah, it’s paneled around the tub. With a window right smack in the middle of it. And when paneling gets wet??? Well, let’s just say it’s ugly. The whole room is a drab grey. When it’s done it might possibly be the brightest room in the house – I have a palette of turquoise and coral in mind. See, what’s hard for me is being a creative person, someone who designs things everyday, having no control over my home. I’m itching to just paint the walls – another argument that my husband and I have – almost all the walls in my house are covered with 1970’s paneling – or PLASTER. No drywall. Anywhere. My living room is covered in a lovely – please sense my sarcasm – wood colored paneling. And my husband LOVES it. I hate it. He won’t get rid of it. The carpet was at one time WHITE. Yeah – try having a cheap white carpet with a toddler, a golden retriever, a black cat, and a husband who paves roads. It doesn’t work. I think the majority of my house strife would be eased if I could just get new carpeting, preferably a shade of brown in a premium brand of StainMaster.

Right now we’re working on converting what was once a spare bedroom into the computer room, and what was once a room the size of a closet where we previously had the computer into a utility room – no more going down the rickety basement stairs to do laundry. Yeah, the basement stairs need replaced. The roof will be replaced this summer – along with hopefully the siding, and with any luck, the windows, which are very drafty. I might have to get several part time jobs to make this happen, but it will happen. We’re to the point now where I think my husband is ready just to give up, sell the house, and buy a brand new house just to get out of doing what I’m asking of him. His motto previously was, “we have 30 years on our mortgage! There’s no need to rush!”

But here’s the thing I’ve learned – our house may not be perfect, and the way it looks might annoy me, probably because I don’t have my own cleaning lady, but it’s where my daughter has taken her first steps, where we’ve had many get togethers with friends... there are so many memories that have taken place in the past three years, that there’s no where else that I would call home. The saying, “home is where the heart is?” now I know exactly what that means, and my heart is in that old house on top of the hill in East Butler.

Toastmasters project #4

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

First Life and Second Life updates

Wow, I’ve really fallen off the wagon when it comes to this blog. Three years ago, if you would have told me that I could live without posting here, I’d say you were crazy. Now this little corner of my world is dust covered and musty.

I don’t think I’ve talked about how I’m determined to become a better public speaker. I joined Toastmasters at work – we get together once every couple of weeks and give speeches. I’ve never been the best with public speaking – or speaking in general – I’m typically pretty awkward. But I’ve found this to be incredibly helpful, and now I look forward to getting up in front of my little group.

The first time I ever had to give a speech was in high school English class. I can’t even remember what I was supposed to talk about. I think I was somewhat prepared, notes-wise, but when I got in front of the class, I blanked, and I practically passed out from sheer terror. Not to mention the fact that I’m naturally kind of shy and socially awkward. Needless to say, I never got in front of a group again until I was forced to take Speech in college.

I’m scheduled to give my fourth speech next week – there’s a total of 10 speech projects until you’re titled a “Competent Communicator.” I’m determined to make it there. And what’s really crazy about all this, considering my past experiences, is that I’m pretty good at it. I’m kind of a natural when it comes to being in front of a crowd. I guess I missed my calling.

So, what should I give my next speech on?

Another thing I’ve recently fallen into the abyss of is Second Life – and if you haven’t played it, you should try it – and I can only hope you don’t have the addictive personality that I have, because I can’t tear myself away – as if I HAVE any extra time. It’s bascially a virtual world – you create your avatar and make friends and dress up and you can buy things and start businesses, and it’s CRAZY. I’m Elo Lexenstar if anyone wants to look me up!

Second Life avatar

Elo Lexenstar... she's so cute!

Lator gators - see ya next month! Just kidding. Or am I?