Archive for April, 2005

Back from Chicago

Monday, April 18th, 2005

Well, actually, we were never once in Chicago. Schaumburg, yes; Park Forest, yes; Chicago, sadly no.

But we drove there, spent 6 hours in IKEA, spent the night with my parents, and drove back. All in the space of a weekend. Whew!

IKEA was frustrating. Most of what we wanted was out of stock. What we ended up with was insignificant enough to fit in the car, so we skipped on shipping it and just loaded up the Camry.

Seeing my parents was tough. My dad is in such pain, and is just not himself. My parents shared with me and Karsten a poem my niece had written a few weeks ago for school. You can imagine how wet our eyes were.

The medicine’s made you so tired now,
And you’re fading away,
Little by little,
Like an old picture.

I remember your voice,
I remember sitting on your knee while you sang me a silly song or a

And I remember our family singing together in church,
Like a small choir.

You didn’t sing the notes on the page,
But the harmony.

I always loved to hear you sing.

You don’t sing anymore,
You’re too tired,
And it hurts you too much.

I remember your laugh,
You loved to tease and pull little pranks.
You still like to laugh,
But it hurts you,
And every time you laugh,
I see the pain flood your face.

We used to play sports,
Like softball and soccer,
But sports require energy,
Energy you don’t have.

You’re so brave, Papa,
To fight this disease.

I’m so proud of you,
But I’m scared.

I’m scared because I don’t want to lose you,
You’re scared because this family needs you so much,
And our family’s scared of the gaping whole that will be left if you go.

We love you Papa!

The whole family loves you,
And you’re in all our prayers,

I know it’s hard,
But please hold on,
We’ll get through this,
Everything will be all right.

Love, [niece's name]

And the drive was exhausting.

But this week, we’re focused on getting the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room in working condition, and then we’ll probably move in early next week.

Photos of the house!

Tuesday, April 12th, 2005
Front view of Germantown house
Front view of Germantown house,
originally uploaded by Kate O’.

I took all these “before” pictures over a month ago, but I didn’t want to post them until the deal was final. Now I can share!
For anyone who hasn’t heard the backstory on this house, here’s the deal: we’re told it was built sometime in the 1850s, and that it’s believed to be the oldest house in Germantown, which is one of Nashville’s historic neighborhoods. It was originally a cottage for immigrant workers, like several other homes from that period which have survived in this neighborhood.
In the 150 years it’s been around, many people have presumably owned this house and tried to improve on it, but the additions and changes have been inconsistent and haphazard. This house is just begging for someone to come in and clean it the hell up.
So! Our plan, in the short term, is to clean it the hell up and make the place liveable. We’re calling that the “shack makeover” stage, and it’s been in full swing since Saturday.
Then, in six months to a year, we’ll begin investigating financing to do a major, MAJOR renovation, which will probably include leveling the back half of the house (the addition to the original house) and rebuilding, but taking it another floor higher (so that the profile will go up from front to back instead of down as it does now), opening up some of the original walls for a more loft-like interior space, adding a front porch overhang (as it clearly used to have one, and should), replacing the wood lintels above the windows with stone, as well as thoroughly redoing the kitchen (and maybe even converting the kitchen fireplace into a pizza oven), possibly adding a rooftop deck (the inspector said we have a great view of downtown from our roof), and generally making the whole house much, much cooler.
In the next few days, I’ll start taking the “during” pictures. It’ll probably be several years before I can take anything called “after” pictures. ;-)

It’s done!

Saturday, April 9th, 2005

We signed the papers, we got the keys, we went there and smooched in every room — the place is officially ours. Yay, like nothing I could do justice to in print!

Zola was divine. The perfect celebration, and the best food I’ve eaten since our road trip passed through New Orleans six years ago, and funnily enough, that restaurant was called Nola. Zola, Nola, whatever, it’s fantastic food.

I can hardly believe it’s all for real. We bought a house! In a cool neighborhood! And we get to fix it up and move in, like, soon!


Yay for Radnor Lake!

Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

The downstairs neighbors were at it again this morning with the karaoke, and it promised to be a bad day at the apartment. So we took off at lunchtime and had a quick lunch at Atlanta Bread Company (I had tomato soup with fennel and dill in a sourdough bread bowl, yum!), and then decided to check out Radnor Lake.

Did a little hiking, a little accidental mud-skiing, a little deer-watching, and even saw a tussle between two huge slider turtles! In the visitor center, I saw the happiest-looking snake I’ve ever seen (he was a pine snake, but isn’t this the absolute cutest snake picture you’ve ever seen?). It was a lovely, relaxing day.

Even the accidental mud-skiing didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the day, although I was ill-prepared for muddy hiking, wearing sporty flip-flops instead of walking shoes or hiking boots. So when we got back to the apartment, I pulled out the foot spa and gave myself a pedicure. Not quite as good as they do at the salon, but hey! 25 bucks cheaper.

And now I have freshly scrubbed feet and polished toes, and I’m sipping my Absolut Raspberri and tonic, and it’s not such a bad day after all.

The passing of the pope

Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

I’m not going to say negative things about the late pope, but I will say, as I was telling Karsten, that he’s the reason I’m not Catholic anymore.

I was raised in a devoutly Catholic household, and I was an active member of the family’s church as I grew up. When I was a teen, I became an activist for women’s ordination. In fact, had women been allowed to become priests, I might well have taken that path.

But in 1994, when Pope John Paul II issued his notorious “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” he told me I was no longer a Catholic. He said “…I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

I was at college when it happened, and my father called me that day, knowing I’d be upset. I remember him telling me that this was the strongest proclamation he’d ever heard a pope make in his lifetime, and I remember telling him how much it hurt me that it had to be over an issue like this.

I stopped going to church immediately. And soon thereafter, I realized I didn’t believe in a god anyway. I would’ve left the church sooner or later, but maybe not out of anger.

But it all fell apart May 22, 1994, and the end started with this pope.

Anyway, I’m glad for the good he did do in the world, and I hope the next pope brings a degree of enlightenment with him, but I’m not holding my breath. And it’s no longer really my concern anyway.

Even me?

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005

I just got spam with a subject line that said “Even you can learn a new language, Kate.”

Gee whiz, really? Even me?

Actually, I have been learning a new language recently. It’s the language of real estate and mortgages and appraisals and renovations, and it’s a very difficult language to get used to. Much harder than German or Russian or French or Spanish or Italian or Japanese or Mandarin Chinese or Dutch.

Well, OK, actually, Mandarin Chinese was pretty difficult. But still.

By the way, has everyone seen this?

Friday, April 1st, 2005

Making fun of “method” acting

Friday, April 1st, 2005

“Why not try acting? It’s much easier.”

I’ve heard that quote attributed to both Laurence Olivier and Samuel L. Jackson, directed at Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro respectively. In Marathon Man and Jackie Brown respectively.

I have no idea which, if either, actually transpired. But I love the quote.