Thursday, March 31, 2011

24 March 2011

We stayed late at the park because I didn't want to go home, and wound up assembling an impromptu dinner from the snacks in the car.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

23 March 2011

83 degrees, dry as a bone and ultra-windy. I spent part of my childhood in Southern California; this weather spooks me worse than tornado sirens.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rules for Packing

My friend Rae is moving, and we are de-cluttering and pre-packing as much as possible, and all of it reminds me of how many times I have moved. It's a big number. I have grown pretty good at packing, and developed the following set of rules:

1. Don't use paper. 
        Don't wrap things in newspaper. Don't buy packing paper. Don't use styrofoam peanuts, or bubble wrap, or any of that extra stuff. Use your clothes. Use your sheets. Wrap tiny breakables in socks and roll them into a comforter and put that in a box. Put washcloths and dish towels between your plates, wrap glasses in table linens. You get the idea. Anything you would use paper for, use something you already have. Not only does this save you a lot of money in packing materials, it will reduce the amount of boxes you have to lug by at least one-third.

2. Get boxes that are all the same size.*
       Copy-paper boxes are perfect, if you have a ready supply. They're solid and sturdy, big enough for most things but small enough that you have to work reeeeaallly hard to make 'em too heavy to carry. For our move from Michigan to California, I spent the year before our move swiping boxes from work and storing them in our attic. When it was time to pack, I brought them all downstairs, filled them, and re-stacked them in the attic for a couple weeks until the truck arrived. If you can't get copy-paper boxes, use file boxes from an office-supply store. This size works well. Of course, some things will have to go in bigger boxes, and that's fine, but having everything in same-size boxes will make loading the truck really easy. Heavy ones on the bottom, lighter & breakable stuff on the top, load around the furniture. Taa-daa.

3. Start early. Like, super early.
        Start packing as soon as you know when you need to be out. Keep out your 10 favorite cd's (or none, since, like many others, you probably download a lot of music these days) and pack the rest. Pack your books (pretty soon you probably won't have the time or brain power to do a lot of heavy reading anyway) . Pack your off-season clothes. Go through the Christmas decorations and re-pack them so nothing gets broken. The serving platters you only use on holidays, the breadmaker, the waffle iron. Pack up 2/3 of your kids' toys. Do a few boxes every night and stack them somewhere you won't trip over them. When crunch time rolls around, you should only have a few things left to pack. If you have to go a few days earlier than planned, pre-packing means that when your truck shows up, you actually have stuff to start with, instead of all your "helpers" standing around snatching away every box as soon as you tape it shut. 

4. Weed, weed, weed. 
        Starting early means you will also have ample time to go through your stuff and ask yourself "Do I honestly want to pack this and lug it into the truck and take it out and put it in the new place and unpack it and find somewhere to put it?" Even if you're lucky enough to be able to hire someone to do your packing or lugging, you still have to unpack it and find room for it and shuffle it around a few times before it gets to its eventual resting place in your new abode. When in doubt, throw it out.

That's it, I think...happy moving!

*Of course, if you don't want to buy boxes, try my favorite source for super-sturdy, mostly-the-same-size boxes: the dumpsters behind bookstores. There will be a specific one for cardboard. Word to the wise: it's always better to do this on a dry day, during daylight hours, preferably with the store's permission.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Home is Where the Hurt Is.

Sunday I spent about  nine hours in the yard, tearing out the front flower bed we put in last year, moving all the rock somewhere else, straightening the stone border, putting in new dirt and planting flowers. I removed the ghosts of last year's hostas and dug down into the clay soil to put in some flowers that Piper had picked out. Things much more sun-loving than my pretty but doomed hostas - violas, pansies, some pink thing that starts with a d

I used all the huge chunks of clay soil I dug out to make room for the flowers to fill in some low spots in the front yard, which involved lots of hacking at damp chunks of brick-red (and brick-like) clay with a broken shovel in order to break them up. I put some garden soil over the fills, and grass-patch stuff over that. Between the orangey-red clay and the bright-green grass patch, my yard looks like a faded vintage Christmas card. 

Now I am watering the ever-loving crap out of everything, hoping that the 80-degree-plus weather and super-dry winds we've been having don't kill everything before it gets started. In order not to bust our budget (plus, we live in drought country), I've become the Water Marshall of the house, collecting every spare drop and dumping it on the yard. I put buckets in all the bathrooms to catch the water that we inevitably run before it gets hot enough to shower in; I dip out dishwater that's not too grimy and truck it out to the yard. It's pretty labor-intensive, but I desperately want a nice yard this year. If we were staying in this house, I'd love to install some fancy Dwell-approved graywater system, but something like that would cost more than our entire house is currently worth.

I am also nursing full-body muscle aches from my afternoon of toil. Ye Gods, I ache. And it's worse today than yesterday. My legs, my back, my arms - everything I could possibly pull or strain or max out, I did. I could go soak in a nice, hot bath, but I'd probably guilt myself into dumping the water on the yard after.

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's 83 degrees here right now.

Instead of making me happy, this makes me CRANKY.

Sure, there are the ongoing issues with neighborhood kids, roaming bands of irritating teenagers hanging out smoking and swearing on my lawn until well past dark and the (several) houses worth of adults who let their kids run the streets screaming and riding bikes until midnight. But it's more than that.

Warm weather also means I can no longer ignore the yard and the fact that despite several years of sweaty, frustrating manual labor on our parts, it remains an expanse of brown dotted only by the green of weeds. It means that any time we get a drop of rain, those weeds will grow six inches overnight and someone will need to go out there and hack at them with our (broken) weed-whacker immediately, because our city is closing schools yet still manages to pay people to drive around monitoring the height of everyone's grass. It means it's time to start washing windows and all the other stuff I put off during the winter. It means it's time for summer clothes again, and none of mine fit thanks to a winter full of tacos, strudel, and guacamole.

Eighty degrees in mid-March also means we're in for another brutally hot summer, with another 98 days in a row of 100-degree-plus temps and daily ozone alerts so you're not even supposed to let your kids play outside. I spent most of last summer trapped in a sweltering house (I'm far too cheap to run the a/c all day long) with a kid bouncing off the walls and not much I could do about it. We have the museum membership now, so we can do that a couple of times each week, but really the prospect of all those months of endless sticky heat just makes me want to crawl into a still-frozen northern cave and sleep until October.

Summer. Bah humbug.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Snapshots: Mid-March 2011

Working on:

Decluttering the house: Every single thing that we tossed aside thinking "oh, we'll deal with this later" or "I'll just shove it in here for now" has come due. Three years, four bedrooms, and 1500 square feet worth. Some days it seems easier to leave the house unlocked and hope somebody wanders away with it all.

Antointte and a few other friends have asked if we could rent the place for a year or two. I suppose we could (we could probably even make a tiny little amount of money doing it), but we don't want to. Things that are happening in and around the neighborhood right now make me think that it would be financially better for us to sell and get out ASAP. I'd be pretty wary of what sort of renters we would attract in this area and I just don't want to deal with being a landlord. I think we are also getting itchy feet again and might want to make another big move in the next few years, and who knows how long it will take to sell this house. It's kind of shame this didn't work out, because it's a cute house (I love the layout) with a nice big yard. It just turned out, for us, to be the wrong house in the wrong neighborhood in the wrong city. This was our first adventure with home ownership and honestly I'm not sure if we'll do it again. We've been looking at some nice apartments and I'm sort of psyched to think about not taking care of a lawn and having access to a pool for all those brutally hot summer days.

Knitting: Warm weather means the neighbors are loud and the teenagers are out until well past dark, so when my husband is working late (at least 4 nights a week), I put the kid to bed, tidy up the house, and force myself to relax by watching TV and barreling ahead with knitting projects. I try to justify the hours spent sitting on my ass by telling myself  "I'm using up yarn, this is part of the de-cluttering!" but it's not completely true. Really, the living room is where I'm least likely to be bothered by the noise outside. But this strategy is allowing me to make progress on a Simo and a Little Bubbles for the kid and prep for Easter with some bunny nuggets. I am also trying desperately to finish the projects I owe for a long-overdue swap. Sherrie probably thinks I have forgotten all about her (I haven't!) because I've owed her something for almost 18 months. The good news is, the knitting project I planned for her second baby will now fit her upcoming third.

Watching: Satsfaction and The Riches. Getting annoyed all over again that The Riches was canceled so abruptly. Really, REALLY annoyed that my favorite new show is probably getting the axe. I've sworn off any new tv shows next season. I just can't take the heartache, you know? 

Listening: I am pretty out of the loop musically these days, since I don't listen to commercial radio, we don't have satellite, and many of my favorite bands have split up or are on hiatus. We spend about two hours a day (minimum) in the car these days, and since our iPod has not been updated in over a year and I don't want to drag 100 cd's into the car, Piper and I pretty much listen to the same 10 things over and over. I have, however, been very much enjoying the free playlists offered by SPIN each  month. I have also been taking advantage of the free weekly downloads from Starbucks. Usually they have the cards with the redemption code sitting on the edge of the counter, you don't have to buy anything or even make chit-chat if you don't want to, you can snatch one and run before the delicious coffee smell sucks you into buying a $4 latte. I've also seen the cards at the mini-Starbucks stores located in the middle of the mall, inside Target, and in Barnes & Noble stores.

Wishing: I need to redesign this here blog - the header bugs me endlessly but I don't have time for the tinkering required to fix it, I hate the color scheme, I really just want to scrap my template and start over. I wish I could wave a magic wand and poof! have a spiffy blog. But that magic wand will probably be called "lots of books and prowling around on the Web" and I will not wave it so much as toil away late into the night for several weeks, cussing and sweating, only to achieve marginally better results. Sort of like most of my sewing projects. Hmmm.

PS. Advice needed: Any other iPhone users with a PC know how to get the photos off the darn thing? I have more than 2,000 photos on my phone which I would like to retrieve, and short of emailing them all to myself individually, I can't figure out how to get them onto my computer. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

01 March 2011

A little peek into how our month is going:

I'm trying very hard not to snap and snarl at her, but I just hate our life here so much it spills out every time I open my mouth. So I find myself annoyed and near hysterics because she needs so much, and destroys so much, and talks so much, and demands so much. The warmer weather means I am in tears every time I hear the thump thump of a basketball on the sidewalk, and that's not her fault. The health insurance is costing us more than we have, and that's not her fault. I despair of ever getting this house in shape to sell, and that's not her fault. Nor is it her fault that the minivan mafia at her school managed to hurt my feelings AGAIN, even after I swore I was done. All of this and more has me wallowing in a pit of despair, and it's not her fault, but we are together so much that she gets to face my fury constantly. It's not making me feel like a very good parent lately.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

In the Shoe Aisle...

...I was suddenly forced to confront what sort of person I saw myself as.

I didn't end up buying either pair.