Archive for the ‘Life at Home’ Category

But it’s so much nicer to come home

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

We’re back! And so far it doesn’t look like jet lag should be too much of an issue: I’ve been up since 8 AM this morning, which is a little later than usual for me, but only by an hour or so. Karsten is still sleeping, but this is fairly normal for a Saturday morning. He’ll probably be up soon, if my schedule was any indication.

Here’s the details of the sleep schedule, for those who are interested in jet lag avoidance:

We were up late on Thursday night at a bar called Velvet Lounge (kind of a gay bar, apparently, though a very mixed crowd), and didn’t get to sleep until 3 AM. Then Friday, as is my habit no matter how little sleep I get, I woke up sometime between 6 and 7 AM. Our flight out was at 6 PM (mind you: that’s 5 AM Central Standard Time). Around 10 PM China time, I started getting really sleepy, so I gave in and slept for about 4 hours, and then was awake until we got home around 10 PM Central time (which is 11 AM China time).

So I got to bed around 11 PM last night and was up at 8 AM this morning. Seems not bad for having been 13 hours off schedule for the past week.

ANYway, enough of that. I’ve missed the last few days’ worth of updates here, but it was a wonderful trip. I felt like we did just enough sightseeing to get a feel for the place and the culture without wearing ourselves out. That was balanced with getting a taste of living like locals (or at least like ex-pats) by doing things like going grocery shopping, etc. And that was balanced by getting out to lots of great restaurants and eating some of the best food of our lives. And all that was balanced by a comfortable amount of time in our friends’ modestly luxurious home, which gave us a very relaxed feeling of being on a sort of staycation.

Or perhaps more meaningfully, it also felt quite a bit like being on a cruise, where there are comfortable periods of time spent relaxing and enjoying the amenities of the ship, interrupted by excursions and sightseeing, all highlighted by wonderful food.

I think that’s a pattern that works really well for me, so maybe I’m a cruise-type vacationer after all. Only I think I prefer big city ‘cruises’ over tropical islands. I suppose that makes me weird, but hey. I’m just not that crazy about hot sun and sand, whereas exploring urban areas never gets old.

I guess, like anything, it takes experimentation to learn your ideal vacation style. I think we got pretty darned close to perfect on this trip. (Sure, it would have been better if I hadn’t been sick for the first third of the trip, but even that wasn’t as bad as it could have been had we not been staying in such a wonderful home.) And we both loved Shanghai enough to go back, which is saying a lot considering 1, how many other interesting destinations there are in the world, and 2, how long it takes to get there and back. But it’s an endlessly fascinating place and we only spent a little bit of time exploring its neighborhoods. We could easily do another two weeks there and not get bored.

So maybe we’ll try to squeeze in one more trip before our friends come back to Nashville or move on to wherever they’re going next. Or maybe we’ll put it on the list for some future year and just look for an apartment to rent or something. It’d be a totally different experience without a Chinese-speaking friend to guide us (so I should probably improve my own Chinese skills beyond numbers and simple greetings and ‘bu yao’ or ‘don’t want’ which is immensely useful in the shopping areas) and without a driver. But it would almost certainly shed more light on what it’s like to live in Shanghai.

At any rate, I would love to publicly thank Paris and Charles for their warm and wonderful hospitality and for not only putting up with our vegan pickiness but for making sure we were well taken care of. Because Paris spent all week with us, we enjoyed the luxury of having a trusted and knowledgeable guide as well as the wonderful company of a friend. Thank you so much, Paris and Charles!

And now: back to our normal lives, with taxes to file and deadlines to meet. But also kitties to pet and friends to see and favorite places to go. Vacation life is good, but our home life is pretty darned nice too.

Inbox at zero, baby!

Friday, December 26th, 2008

I finally got an inbox to zero! It won’t last very long, so I made sure to take a screenshot.

I’ve still got my work inbox to whittle down, but that’s for later. I have to go dance a little jig first.

Music and food: do they go together for you?

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

A Chicago-style deep-dish pizza as served by w...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m making a pizza (not the one pictured, although DON’T I WISH!), and I don’t have any music playing. This is most unusual. As I wander over to the laptop to remedy this situation, I thought I’d ask those of you who are music lovers and foodies: do you always have music playing while you cook, sometimes, never, or what? How does your music enjoyment interact with and overlap with your food enjoyment?

The Pritchard House. That has a pretty nice ring to it, right?

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Front of house, October 2008Went to Metro Archives over lunch to meet with a woman named Debie Cox. Karsten was put in touch with her by someone at a party when he mentioned that we’d had little success in tracking down info about our house. After Debie found out which house was ours, she apparently got intrigued. Normally, she says, she doesn’t do research for homeowners — she’ll just tell people how to do the research themselves. But she got intrigued and dug up tons of good background info about the house.

Long story short, it looks like our house was probably built around 1849. It was probably built by a fellow named Pritchard, and he probably lived there for a few years before selling it in 1855 to someone named Collette for the whopping price of $2000. It probably is the oldest house in the Germantown neighborhood, but it is almost certainly not the oldest brick house in Nashville, as we’ve been told. It is, of course, one of the oldest houses in Nashville, period.

So anyway, we saw lots of maps and deeds and whatnot, and Karsten’s going back to make copies of it all for our own files and to pass on to the next homeowner whenever we finally decide to sell it (which won’t be for a long time, I don’t think).

This stuff fascinates me. I’m glad we found our way into a mystery house; it’s been a fun adventure.

Gardens Gone Wild!

Sunday, October 5th, 2008


Gardens Gone Wild!

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

Our garden has gone almost all summer without maintenance (darn my
pesky thyroid), and it really shows. We haven’t been too concerned
about it, figuring my health us more important than a perfectly
manicured front yard, and anyway perfectly manicured was never our
style, so it’s been sort of a Darwinian exercise in garden tough love.
But next Saturday our house will be on the neighborhood homes tour, so
it was high time to give the garden a quick cleanup.

Karsten’s up on an extension ladder cleaning the top windows (he won’t
let me take a picture of him, though), so I tried to muster the
stamina to do the yard work myself, but I only got as far as weeding
(LOTS of weeding, actually), pruning, and trimming the established
plants, and loosely digging around to position the new plants.
Tomorrow, if my energy is right for it, I may do some mulching. But
just at this moment, I think the rest of the planting is up to
Karsten, and all I have any energy left for is, well, posting this
here picture. Enjoy. :)

Home!

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

The hospital discharged me early yesterday evening. Karsten has had his hands full ever since. Keep him in your thoughts. :)

The freezer that wouldn’t.

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Sometime between yesterday morning and this morning, our freezer had an identity crisis. It decided it was a refrigerator, and that it would act accordingly.

So this morning, we had goddess-knows-how-many pounds of thawed food to figure out what to do with. I cooked up all the fake breakfast sausage and had FIVE pieces (yum!) along with a once-frozen blueberry waffle and some conveniently pre-thawed berries. We transferred as much of the food as would fit into the real fridge, and are feverishly making meal plans for the next several days to use up as much of the food as possible.

Even with good planning, though, we’re going to lose some food. So if anyone in the vicinity of near-north Nashville would like some thawed veggie burgers, veggie bratwurst, or veggie ground “beef”, or some formerly-frozen fruit, come on over. We’ll be cooking and feasting all day.

We’re well preserved!

Saturday, May 31st, 2008


We’re well preserved!

Originally uploaded by Kate O’
(Thanks to Busy Mom for the subject line. :) )

Not sure why this didn’t post to my blog when I posted it to flickr. That whole “post to flickr and your blog at the same time” function is kind of sketchy, I find.

The moment we’d been waiting for finally arrived, and our house won a preservation award from Nashville’s Historical Commission. We genuinely didn’t think we’d win, sitting at the ceremony watching all the other winners be presented, with projects far bigger than ours. But when they called out our names, we sure weren’t going to turn the plaque down!

Karsten is thinking of wearing it on a chain around his neck. He says he’s busted up enough concrete around here to have earned it, and I quite agree. But in all likelihood, it will be as it is intended: mounted at eye level next to our front entrance. In this picture, I am holding it approximately where it will end up.

After Quicken?

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

Web-forward people, particularly iPhone users, what’s the next thing after Quicken? Mint? Wesabe? Quicken online? I’ve tried all of these, and I have some complaints about each. Quicken no longer affords me the convenience it used to before I had an iPhone, when I used Pocket Quicken on my Treo to record expenses as I transacted them and could sync them up back at my laptop whenever. Now I have a stack of receipts piling up and no motivation to do anything with them, but I miss the granular visibility I used to have into my finances when that system was working well for me.

So what now?

Sneezy Sunday

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

I have got to stop being sick just to get some downtime. I mean, no, I’m not getting sick intentionally, but the net effect of being sick is that I get to be low-key, which ends up being kind of nice (if you overlook the whole watery-eyes, runny-nose, sneezing, coughing, headache-y, feverish part), but it shouldn’t take being sick to relax, right? Right.

Ugh. Pass the tissue and aspirin, please. And a blanket. I’m chillin’ out over here, literally.

Birthday present - for both of us

Saturday, February 9th, 2008


Birthday present

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

Around the middle of December, Karsten was getting ready to start making visual art again after a long, intense period of house renovation, and in the middle of a period of exhaustion and depression, he needed a comfortable project to ease him back into it. Unfortunately, he’d also gotten his mind set on oil painting, which is a medium he’d done almost nothing with since art school.

I’m no artist, and I know almost nothing about oil painting except what I’d learned from Karsten while he’d been doing research, but I do know projects and I know how complexity compounds difficulty in execution. And I know Karsten, and how ready he is to feel bad about himself when something he tries doesn’t go quite right.

So I was worried that he would take on a painting project that would require a lot of skill with oil paint and he’d get frustrated and disappointed in himself. I tried to help him think of something that would reduce the variables in the process: we talked about copying an image from somewhere else and doing it in solid tones. The thought was that not having to work from an entirely original concept seemed like it would reduce the risk of losing faith in his own artistic vision due to medium complications, and not having to make elaborate color mixing decisions seemed like it would reduce the complexity of the painting and leave him to get familiar with other elements of technique, such as the application of the paint itself.

And then I happened across a print in a Chiasso catalog (which is seemingly no longer available). It was orange and white, like the colors I’m starting to use in my new home office concept, and featured a simple silhouette of a vine. I really liked it, but I thought it lacked a sense of animate life and needed a perched bird to be truly perfect. And I saw a wonderful multi-effect opportunity emerging.

When I asked Karsten if he thought he could paint the picture for me, he was unsure if he was up to the challenge. That was his fatigue and depression talking, of course, and I did worry that he might not be ready to try it, and that if he tried and felt like he failed, he’d be crushed, but he agreed to give it a try so I crossed my fingers.

It took several weeks, and I got to peek at it during the process, and it was always just as wonderful as I hoped.

He presented it to me a few weeks ago, and I have it sitting on a shelf in my home office, waiting until we finish painting the walls from their current dirty-pepto-bismol-pink to a simple crisp white before we hang it.

You can see how it fits in with some of my office accessories in this picture.

I just love it. It’s about the best birthday present I can imagine, for so many reasons — not least of which is that Karsten now has so much more confidence about taking the next step with painting. So maybe it’s sort of a present for him, too.

The fieldstone effect

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Detail of front walkway at gate
Detail of front walkway at gate,
originally uploaded by Kate O’.

One of the interesting things about getting deep into any major project, like renovating a house and yard, is that new metaphors sometimes emerge throughout the process. For me, one of the best new metaphors to come out of the work we’ve been doing in the front yard is the idea of replacing the paved sidewalk around the house with a fieldstone walkway: the paved sidewalk, not only visually incongruent with such an old and charming house, encourages brisk walking, whereas the fieldstone walkway with all its inconsistencies in level and varied surfaces nearly forces the walker to slow down and look around at the garden and the house.

It’s not uncommon for Karsten or me to make references now to the “fieldstone” effect in our lives, of something having a welcoming slowing-down effect. I really love that about this house, and I’m also happy that Karsten and I can both appreciate what that does for our quality of life.

See? As much work and expense as this house has been, it’s actually rewarding us in unexpected and deeply meaningful ways. I wouldn’t trade a moment or a penny of what we’ve invested in it.

Why it’s not easy to get anything done in my home office on Saturday mornings

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Why it’s not easy to get anything done in my home office on Saturday mornings

Originally uploaded by Kate O’


And one more along those same lines

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

Sorry, one more “compare and contrast” picture pairing that I’m enjoying:

Front of house with neighboring houses

Big house, little house, big house

Aside from the fact that the trees are all lush and green in the first picture and all winter-blah in the second, I guess it’s no secret which one makes me happier, is it?

Bear with me while I enjoy how far we’ve come

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

I just uploaded a picture to Flickr that I took of the front of the house during the brief snowfall we had on New Year’s Day. While I was tagging it, I went back looking through old pictures of the front of the house and was absorbing just how much work has gone into it. I made a comment on the picture with this string of pictures, but wanted to share it here too:

Front view of Germantown house

Front of house

Scaffolding in front of house

Demolition has begun!

Five or six days later, front porch is a pile of rubble, 3/23/2007

Front wall below doorway during repair by great masonry crew

Front porch and stairway in development

Porch and door

And the current pic is this:

Magic hour... and snow!

I’m so tickled. I love this house. I consider myself incredibly lucky to live here.

How about a REALLY happy new year?

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

I thought about writing a year-end update yesterday, but the truth is, not all that much of note happened. And that’s a pretty good thing, as it turns out, because I was also thinking yesterday about how I’m feeling more balanced and centered than I have in — gosh, what? — maybe 8 or 9 years.

In the meantime, the highlights were clear:

  • Karsten and I celebrated our 10th anniversary of being together and being crazy in love by going to Paris, world capital of romance. And it was romantic. The trip wasn’t 100% perfect all the time, but it was wonderful on balance. As for being together 10 years: wow. Our ties to each other just keep getting stronger, and having that is the best thing life can offer in any year.
  • I started working at Magazines.com in January of 2007, and it’s been a really good move for me. I worked a lot (so much so that I seem to have lost my ability to update blogs), but I’m really OK with it. In fact, by far most of my efforts and energy in ‘07 were directed towards helping make something really special happen there. And it looks like that will be the case in 2008, too, and again, I’m OK with that. (Although if that’s still the case in 2009, I will have to re-evaluate my effectiveness. I want to be able to find better balance around then.)
  • We got the front porch, doorway, and fence built, and the front of the house is transformed. I find so much pleasure in those last few yards of my drive home, coming up over the top of the hill in front of us, looking at such a charming house and being perfectly content to live there. I’ve never had that feeling about a place where I’ve lived before, and I don’t take it for granted that I’m this lucky. (And who knows — we might even be able to begin the major addition and renovation in 2008.)
  • Karsten and I got close to another song placement, and although it didn’t ultimately come together, we ended up having much-needed clarifying conversations about our level of commitment to our songwriting (both still very committed) and how to refine our writing process under our current highly-unavailable circumstances (maybe more on that later). That clarity should help us over this next year, too, as we both continue to be heavily distracted by other areas of work (me with my job, him with renovation and visual art) — we should still be able to make progress, as long as we continue to want to. And so far, we still want to.

There were other events, of course: stressful conflicts at work, pests in and around the house, disappointments, disagreements, and so on. But they don’t stand out in hindsight, and that tells me exactly what my resolution for 2008 needs to be:

I resolve to find as much happiness in the current space of every moment as I possibly can, remembering that, in the end, it’s the happy moments I’ll want to carry with me.

May 2008 be the happiest of new years for all of you, as well.

Furnace not blowing heat, but will blow cool?

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

At some point today, the furnace stopped coming on periodically to blow heat, even though the house was noticeably cooling off. After a few hours, we tried switching the setting on the thermostat from “Auto” to “Fan,” and air did start coming through the vents, but only cool air, even though the temperature on the thermostat was set high.

We tried setting the heat extra high in case some kind of temperature gauge in the system may have been off-kilter; we tried flipping the switch in the circuit panel off and on. Nothing is making any difference.

Any home-repair-knowledgeable people out there have thoughts on what might be happening?

I did it!

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

I finally managed to pull up the blinds in the morning without scaring all the birds away from the feeders.

Normally the cats are looking at me like “gee, thanks, dumbass.” Now they’re entranced by the dozens and dozens of birds on the ground and on the feeders.

Hey, it’s the little things.

Non-comformist appearance + musician + artist = hopeless drug addict?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

It’s hard not to be irritated with doctors in general right now.

Let me back up for a second. Ever since the rat problem in the back yard and the flea infestation in the house and all the cat sicknesses, and all the rest of it, Karsten has been having a lot of trouble sleeping. He hardly sleeps, and then when he does sleep, he’s been waking up with major anxiety attacks. You can imagine how, after a while, that would start to make you not want to sleep at all.

I’ve been trying to convince him to go to the doctor and get a prescription for Ambien or something similar. He’s willing to take something over the counter, but I foresee the possibility that this will turn into a fairly long-term arrangement and I feel like a doctor should be monitoring it.

But the problem is, doctors have had a history of misjudging and mistrusting Karsten, especially when he goes in asking for a prescription. They think he’s a drug addict, and this seems to be based partly on his somewhat non-conformist appearance and partly on the fact that he works in the arts. Once, when he was being examined for sinus problems, a doctor said “You’re a musician, so you’ve used a lot of cocaine, right?” while nodding his head at Karsten as if to encourage him to agree. When Karsten replied (somewhat indignantly, no doubt) that he’d never used cocaine at all, the doctor regarded him with a suspicious look and refused to give him any medication at all.

Another time, when our apartment neighbors back in San Jose were making our lives miserable (one actually spit in Karsten’s face) and we were both jittery wrecks, Karsten went to the doctor — a different doctor, of course — and asked for something to help calm his nerves, like Valium or something, because he couldn’t write at all. This doctor also asked about Karsten’s recreational drug use (none) and refused to give him anything stronger than what amounted to a placebo.

After all this, I think it’s pretty understandable that he’s reluctant to go in asking for a prescription for sleeping pills.

But I suggested that he explain his state of mind, explain what’s been going on, and ask the doctor for a recommendation. If the doctor refuses to prescribe something, I said maybe he should offer to take a blood test to prove he doesn’t use drugs. He actually seemed comforted by having that card to play and it sounds like he’s going to go.

Has anyone else ever received this kind of suspicious treatment from doctors? If so, what do you do to ensure the outcome you’re hoping for?

Although come to think of it, Paris might not get my mind off of rats…

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

OK, right off the bat, here’s the sucky thought du jour: I can’t decide if we should go through with the trip we were planning to Europe. Though I’m in luck if I need to travel, because I’ve got bags under my eyes that could hold my entire wardrobe. Why? Because we spent the night in a hotel room with all six cats while we fogged the house for fleas.

I cannot properly do justice to the level of annoying this whole flea thing is. And it’s not just fleas annoying me. Allow me to whine for a moment.

  • I’m pretty sure I saw somewhere that it’s the hottest August ever on record in Nashville. Even if it’s not, it should be. So let’s just get that out of the way right now, ’cause the extreme heat sure isn’t making anything (or anyone) easier to deal with.
  • Remember the rats? Well, they’ve apparently nested underneath and in the walls in the back of our house. (One of my coworkers suspects that this is where the fleas are coming from, but I don’t know if there’s any way to be sure.)OK, and side note — this is a bad story. Feel free to skip to the next bullet — Karsten went out weeks ago and got rid of the junk pile, busted up the old deck, and started digging out the weeds around the house. He hit a nest with tiny wriggling ratlings (it’s easier to call them ratlings than “kittens” when your aim is to get rid of them). It was an awful scene and he was devastated at having hurt them but the aim is, after all, to eliminate the population from our property. So as a compromise, whichever babies weren’t already killed from the impact of the shovel got carried off to an empty lot a few hundred yards away.But anyway, even after all that there are still rats in the walls, and we’re not sure how we’re going to win this one.
  • Baby Clyde is doing better, we think. He apparently had a blockage in his digestive tract so when they x-rayed him, his stomach looked totally full even after a day of intense vomiting. Not sure how or why, but the next day’s x-rays showed his stomach clear and his lower digestive tract filling up, so the vet was satisfied that things looked to be on the right track. But I’m still nervous because we don’t know why he was having trouble in the first place. Which in my mind means it could happen again anytime. But considering I thought he might be dying on Sunday night, I’ll be relieved if all we’re dealing with is a bad case of indigestion.
  • And the fleas! The fleas are driving me nuts. I mean, it’s just exactly the kind of thing that really gets to me. I can’t take any kind of insect in large quantities. I won’t even release ladybugs in the garden ’cause they freak me out en masse, but individually I’ll let them crawl all over my hands and arms. A whole mess of bugs I don’t like under any circumstances invading my living space? Definitely gonna mess with my mind.
  • One of the other cats, Blackberry, has had a long-standing problem with urinating where he shouldn’t. We’ve fought it for a while, but it had been getting worse recently. Took him to the vet and found out he has a pretty serious bladder infection. Uh, OK. Now I feel like a terrible cat person. So we’ve been giving him pills twice a day for weeks, and if you’ve never had to give a pill to a skittish cat, well, you just haven’t experienced life.
  • Between the overages in the house renovation and the flea/rat/vet/hotel expenses, we’ve depleted our checking account to levels we haven’t seen in years. It really sucks and it makes me feel anxious. I think having had the experience of losing nearly everything we owned and getting as close as you can get to bankruptcy without actually filing, I’m having traumatic flashbacks to my anxiety level at that time. Our situation right now in no way resembles our situation then, but it’s hard to shake an experience like that.
  • Oh, and I’m trying to accomplish about a million things simultaneously in the next few months at work. So there’s that, too.

I’m really trying to keep everything in perspective by remembering that we have a house, we have our health, and we’re not broke (yet). But the amount of stuff we’re having to deal with is enough to make me whimper.

So yeah, I can’t decide if we’ve now spent enough unbudgeted money on all these various problems to mean that we should hold off on our long-awaited vacation. The vacation that coincides with our 10 year anniversary. The vacation we’ve been trying to take since 1999. The vacation we could really freakin’ use right about now.

You see what I’m saying? We’ve been really looking forward to this. So to put it off, while it certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world, would hurt and would suck and and and. Yes, we’d get over it. But it would be a big disappointment.

Anyway, it’s not time to decide yet. For one thing, I don’t think we’re out of the woods with the whole pest control issue, so there may actually be even more money to spend. But also because we still have a little time before we have to make the decision, and I may yet come up with some genius plan to make everything work. Hey, it could happen.

Mais il y a peu de chances. Le sigh.

Good, Bad, Ugly: weekend recap edition

Monday, August 13th, 2007

The ugly: we spent the entire weekend obsessing over fleas. In 8.67 years of living with multiple cats, they have never had fleas. Admittedly, our cats have been outside (on leashes) more lately than ever but I also think the flea population must be larger this year, probably due to the heat.

Anyway, we’d “treated” the cats with some over-the-counter Hartz crap a few weeks ago, but it obviously didn’t do a thing. Meanwhile, the problem was getting worse. I’ve been busy with work so I couldn’t do much about it myself and had been trying to be patient since I knew Karsten was already dealing with the rat problem in our back yard and I didn’t want to overwhelm him. Besides, he seemed confident that the Hartz stuff would work and that the fleas were minimal anyway. On the contrary, it seemed to me that if you spot one, you can assume there are dozens/hundreds/howeverthehellmany you can’t see. I regularly noticed fleas on the cats, so I printed out web pages with tips on killing fleas and left them on his keyboard. I suggested he just call an exterminator and get it over with but when he did, he only asked about the rats. He just didn’t seem to feel as much urgency as I did about having to coexist with the fleas. It was all starting to freak me out a little. Last week, when I stood in the cat room and could see the fleas jumping around, I had a major meltdown. Karsten felt bad for not realizing how upset I’d been getting about it, but I assured him that everything would be fine it we could just rid the house of fleas. So he picked up the Advantage flea treatment from the vet on Friday and we started treating the cats first thing Saturday morning.

Each cat had to be isolated so they wouldn’t lick the stuff off of each other, which meant that we could only treat three cats at a time: two of them were stuck in cages while a third got to be loose, but stuck inside a closed-off room. Meanwhile, we vacuumed the house, sprinkled boric acid powder on all the carpets and fabric surfaces and used a broom to push it down into the fibers, and washed the curtains and bedclothes in the hottest water and dried them in the hottest drier they could withstand.

By mid-day Saturday, there were dead and dying fleas all over the house. So I went around and vacuumed everything again yesterday, but they’re still dropping off. It’s gross, but it means the treatment is working, so I’ll take it.

The bad: it was miserably hot outside. I mean it. Hot. It was 104 yesterday. It makes me feel like I’m melting. And since we wanted to escape the house once we got through each day’s flea treatment, we were limited in our options.

Though actually, that didn’t go too badly: we ended up going to see a movie (”Becoming Jane”; it was OK), eating out for every meal (all the food was great), thrift shopping (I found some cute stuff), and hanging out with some Sam and Alyssa Cornett, two songwriting friends who were visiting from Chicago (which was fun).

So I guess the bad was really just that every time we stepped outside, we felt like we were about to melt into flesh puddles.

The good: even in my jangled state of mind, I wrote a few songs. Hanging around songwriters last night got me all fired up. When we got home, I dashed off two songs in fifteen minutes along with a few other ideas I’ll come back to eventually. One of the reasons I was so inspired was that, although the songs our friends were playing last night were written well and were enjoyable, they were so consistently about relationships ending badly that I felt double-dog-dared to write a heartfelt song that wasn’t about that. So I did.

Yowch!

Monday, July 30th, 2007

My body is aching from all that gardening on Saturday. Yes, two days later.
Yes, I am a whiner and a wimp.

The amazing resurrecting lilies!

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

I didn’t think I was in the mood to do it, but I did it. I got outside right after breakfast (which, by the way, was a waffle with diced mango and kiwi along with my absolute favorite coffee, Bongo Java Kaldi’s Dog — but I digress) and got my gardening stuff all set up.

The resurrection lilies have finally emerged! 7/28/07And then went squeeing back inside to tell Karsten that the resurrection lilies had finally emerged. They grow incredibly fast — they’re already over two feet high — but I didn’t even notice them emerging before this morning.

You may recall that these are a gift from my dad. A while before he died, they were in bloom in my parents back yard and my mom cut some and put them in a vase for him to admire from his bed. I complimented him on his beautiful flowers when I came to see him that day, and he told me that he wanted me to dig some up to remember him by.

So I did. The day he died, after the day had quieted down a bit, I went out back to where the bulbs were planted. It was early November in the Chicago area and the ground was pretty hard but the digging felt good and cathartic, and eventually I managed to dug up three good bulbs. I put them in a plastic bag in my parents’ refrigerator to bring home with me a few days later. It was cold when I got back to Nashville, so I worried about putting them right into the ground, which meant that they stayed in our refrigerator until the next spring, when one day I happened to notice a little bit of green emerging from the bulbs right inside the baggie in the fridge.

So I got outside and placed them in a line of three and planted a semicircle of daylilies around them to accent them. And they continued to sprout leaves, which died back as they’re supposed to, but no flowers ever emerged that summer.

I was a little worried they weren’t very healthy after their difficult transition, but this past spring the leaves came up again and I got hopeful that they’d actually flower this year.

And there they are, beautiful as can be.

Detail of resurrection lily, 7/28/07 Detail of resurrection lily, 7/28/07 Detail of resurrection lily, 7/28/07

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to have these flowers. I really can’t tell you; there are no adequate words. But perhaps you can imagine.

Detail of resurrection lily, 7/28/07

I did get my other gardening done, too, by the way — planting, weeding, transplanting, mulching, watering, oh my! — and took a bunch of pictures, which produced some of the better results I’ve gotten with this newish camera. Here’s one of the new dianthus firewitch plants, all up close and personal:

Detail of firewitch dianthus, 7/28/07

And then I wanted to sit back and admire it all, but first Karsten thought I should show you all how dirty I got and how “cute” (I say “dorky”) I look in my shade hat.

After a long day of gardening, 7/28/07

And here’s a view of the garden through the new fence:

Front yard garden, 7/28/07

More of the new fence

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

More of the new fence
More of the new fence,
originally uploaded by Kate O’.

More of the fence got installed yesterday, so now the front (minus the gate) and the whole north side is done. The fence guy will be back next week with the piece that goes on the south side, and the gate goes in last.

Latest view of the porch

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Latest view of the porch
Latest view of the porch,
originally uploaded by Kate O’.

Not much has changed in the past week or so except for the new copper downspout to the right of the porch, but it’s hard to see in this picture. I’m looking forward to the handrails, the spindles, the rest of the trim detailing, and the caps for the posts, but above all I can’t wait for the new doorway and door! That should be happening in the next few weeks or so.