Monday, June 30, 2008

The House! The House! The House is Plum-Brown!

The house has been painted. The kitchen, though still lacking a floor or the kitchen sink, has been painted! The exterior photos are newest to oldest, left to right. The interior shots are the other way around, not that that's not obvious. Why not consistent? Because it's taking me all @#$%ing night to complete this simple photographic house project update and I forgot how I was doing it alright?!?

And now...Happy Kitty On Screened Porch:
...And Seriously Pissed Off Kitty:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Home is Where You Hang Your Hat

The first few years living in Atlanta I thought it was going to one of those stops on our way home. I did not feel as though I fit in here in this Red State in the Bible Belt. I kept meeting people who attempted to explain to me why Bush was such a great leader or that evolution never happened or that Governor Barnes was Hitler for making an executive decision regarding the design of the state flag. When I finally realized that I should not attempt to argue with any of these people I really felt it was time to move somewhere else. Somewhere Blue. You know, somewhere that the people who disagree with me at least enjoy a hearty debate involving rationally made points, the sun always shines, birds help me get dressed in the morning...that sort of thing.

We began to make serious plans to relocate to Philadelphia. My company has an office up there. It's a much shorter drive to family in Virginia. It's in that wonderful northeast corridor, where everything is so very reachable. We have no family in Philadelphia, though. That was one downside. I wavered a bit on the plan the day we arrived home from the hospital with newborn Kate. Joy had vacuumed the entire house and made my mom's lemon chicken recipe (one of my childhood favorites) and it was in the crockpot, smelling up the place. That, certainly, was something we wouldn't have in Philly. It wasn't until plans were really in limbo for our move and Sarah was born that Jeremiah announced he was putting his roots down. (In case you wondered, this decision is what led to our ginormous house project. We'll be living here for a very long time to come.)

It was time to grow up and acknowledge that your city can be a part of you only when you become a part of your city. Did I really think I wouldn't run into people I find trying anywhere else I went? I decided to take less notice of the Sean Hannity acolytes and more of the things around me that I already loved. Besides, my county of Dekalb is Bluer than most. A park near downtown Decatur hosts Neo-Pagan celebrations. I'm walking distance from a beautiful community garden. They changed the alcohol % law and we're getting all manner of fantastic beer down here now (Whole Foods in Midtown is going to be carrying Bell's next year!). The list of wonderful things is so long - the PATH, dog parks, people parks, farmer markets, art festivals, food, tons of stuff for kids...

Since keeping the Labor Day in May blog, I've been told by Heather and 3 of my coworkers I should write travelogues. I have decided that while I will not quit my job (could this have been what my co-workers were attempting to say - 'Something, Lisa. Anything. How about writing travelogues'?) and attempt to begin an all new career, I will write about my chosen home town here, in an attempt to help you see what's so great about it. You know. Like a regular feature. I think I will call this feature - um - I don't know. What should I call this feature?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vacation's End - The Long Road Home

Friday the 13th we hit the road. I can't say that anything particularly unlucky happened. We noticed a Holiday Inn Express just plunked down in the middle of the mountains when we were driving up from Atlanta and talked about how pretty that setting was. It was just south of Johnson City. We decided we'd stay there on our way home, and if we timed it out just right, we could eat dinner at Cootie Brown's.

We stopped in Roanoke for lunch. Roanoke is a great little city. In its beautiful mountain setting it's got some very cool, old buildings in the downtown area. We headed to Market Square, parked and explored for a couple hours. We ate fantastic sandwiches at the Horizon Bar & Grill and then wandered the stands of the permanent Farmer's Market. There was a wonderful little beer & wine shop in which we got into some trouble and we picked up some handmade olive oil soaps.

We managed to roll into Johnson City right at 6PM, plenty of time eat dinner at Cootie Browns and still make it to the hotel (which is in Erwin, TN) and let the girls dip into the pool before bed. Sweet! Here's the setting of the hotel, not too shabby, `eh?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Vacation Day 6 - Kate's Birthday

Our last day in Woodstock was Kate's 4th birthday. Kate inherited her mama's enthusiasm for her own birthday. Life is grand and a delightful way to acknowledge that is by embracing that anniversary of the day yours began. Happily, Kate gets that. Also, she knew there would be gifts and cake for her. She awoke utterly full of herself, which I loved. At one point, accustomed to being told we are "not going to Target for you", Kate informed Ro "today is not about you. It's about me." We had a big day planned, too. Chris and Sonya had opted to bed down in town and head out in the morning, so we were going to meet them for breakfast. After that there was to be more back yard water play, followed by making cupcakes with Aunt Sue and ultimately, a cookout in Kate's honor. And of course, the greatly anticipated singing of Happy Birthday.

We didn't take any pictures of breakfast. It was a nice gathering, possibly worthy of photo documentation but sometimes we get tired of dragging out the camera, OK? Sheesh. We did take photos of Kate opening all her presents. Here she is prior to Chris and Sonya's departure, opening her gifts from Grammy Lindgrove, who she has lately taken to calling Grammy Margie for reasons to which we are not privy. There are worse things to be called, I suppose, so we've been letting her run with it. This is the robo-Panda. A robotic bear? Terrifying.

Next, as promised, water fun. The girls swam and swam and swam in the little pool which the dog, Farley, believed to be his. He swam with them. The adults lounged around the pool with their beverages and talked about taxes and politics and their IRAs or whatever it is adults talk about who cares?

At some point during this perfectly enjoyable afternoon Keith, totally unprompted and for no other reason than that he is pure evil, threw me in the pool fully clothed. Dad was right there and didn't do anything! Typical. This, I would argue, supports my theory that Keith needed to be preemtively struck in the chest with a water balloon.

The cupcake-baking was a smashing success! Kate even cracked a few eggs and mixed up the batter like a proper little chef.

The baking portion of the day was fun, but the decorating segment was the real crowd-pleaser.
Friends and family arrived, ate, drank, were generally merry. Kate opened gifts. We got her a couple of Shakespeare's plays written for kids with art by kids and some summary explanations by kids. She looked at them briefly with a "what the..." expression and tossed them aside. She'll come around though. Wait till she finds out she's named, in part, after the Shrew.Then Sarah stopped breathing and traumatized everyone there (except Kate, who seemed not to notice). That was not how we'd planned to end the evening, but it all worked out and Sarah even got to eat a cupcake immediately before bed. Kate, mouth full of cupcake, asked me if tomorrow could be her birthday too. I explained that what makes birthdays special was that they are just one day out of the whole year. Then, to completely obliterate my little life lesson, we returned home to gifts from Aunt Jo Jo and Uncle Steve, all the Miami Druekes, and the promise of a party with her friends at a later date. I'm sure she understands, though, right?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Vacation Day 5 - A Visit From Chris & Sonya

We'd planned to meet Chris & Sonya in DC for a day of fun-filled adventure. The thought of adventuring in DC in 100 degree heat seemed somehow not so fun. So, they trekked even farther than planned from Williamsburg up to Woodstock to hang with us. The minute we decided not to do DC, the heatwave decided to break and the weather became beautiful. In retrospect, it was probably better anyway. It was nice and low-key and removing the pressure to Do Fun Stuff All Day made it easier to just visit. The girls swam around in the baby pool in the back yard, until they grew weary of it, preferring to be wrapped in their towels and pushed on the porch swing.

They came bearing gifts from Grammy Lindgrove for Kate's birthday, as well as the ultra-cool shoes I knew Sonya had found for Kate. Because they weren't planning on being around the next day, which was Kate's actual birthday, Kate was allowed to open her gift from Uncle Chris and Aunt Sonya. Sonya had inquired as to the kids' shoe sizes and, far from home and away from my children I'd guessed. In Kate's case, I guessed a 1/2 size too big and these fancy and fabulous shoes don't quite fit. Upon discovering that she would need to become physically larger to enjoy this gift she set it aside and announced "I'd like a gift that fits." "I think you meant to say 'thank-you'" I was telling Kate as Sonya, in the background, was pointing out to Kate that maybe she could get a job and buy her own dang shoes. Later the next day, Kate wore them around the house despite the size and I could tell she digs them.

We walked together downtown, grabbed lunch at the Woodstock Cafe and then dessert next door at Walton & Smoot. It's a drug store that's been there for ages. I used to love going in there to get a chocolate malt and I discovered that day that I still do.

We meandered along the streets where the cool, old houses rule. As we began making out way back to my parents' house we passed what used to be a Bed & Breakfast but is now, as of about a month ago I think, owned by our friends Frank & Kari. We are unable to talk about Frank & Kari (which always comes out sounding like Frakencarry) without taking a moment to imitate Frankenstein's monster - arms out stiffly, guttural "eeeeeerrrrr!" and on to the rest of the sentence. Anyway, as we passed and I pointed to it, telling everyone whose house it now is, I saw Kari inside with her mother-in-law, Dr. Haun. What luck! We got a full tour of this fantastic old home. The front part of the house was built in the 1700s, but the new part was built in the 1800s. It's extremely cool, with lots of nooks and crannies. There's an attic room that even contains a small bathroom that can only be reached by going out onto an upstairs porch, that was once clearly the roof, and climbing up a nearly 0-slope staircase and ducking into a doorway that is about 4' high.

Later that day we headed out to the Butcher Block Buffet where, on Wednesdays, children under 6 eat free and there's a roving magician. It was kind of surreal. When he came to our table he told a few kid-friendly jokes and did some neat tricks, indeed. He talked away while setting up a crafty little trick involving bands of material wrapped around his fingers. When one of the bands escaped him and went flying to the floor Kate pointed at him and said "Ha Ha" a la Nelson. I was outwardly embarrassed at having reared such a rude child, but amused on the inside...which is probably how I ended up rearing such a rude child. The trick that amazed Kate the most was when he sang his happy birthday song to her, forcing us all to chime in. She sat, terrified smile plastered on her face, through the ditty. After we left she said, awed, "how did he know it's my birthday tomorrow?!?". We replied "well he's magic, dear." Kids are dumb.

Friday, June 20, 2008

We Pause In This Vacation Run-Down for a House Update

Things are so much slower now, you know. But it's nonetheless. We have some, but not all, cabinets and countertops in place. Our lights are in. Our medicine cabinets are in. The house has been primed.

When I arrived home from work the painters were all over the place. Jose called to me to "come see the color!" so I walked with him around back. Speaking of color, I felt all of mine drain out of my face when I looked at what had been completed. He laughed as he watched me and said "thaaaat's just the primer coat." And politely left off " stupid Gringa." Oh ha ha ha, Jose. All the windows are covered in plastic right now and frankly, it's pretty creepy. But I'm excited the place is being painted.

Wall sconces in the hallway from the kitchen to the master suite.

The red pendant in the tiny hallway between the master bedroom and bathroom. We're aware it's kind of silly but we love it.