Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rainy Weekend Remodel

Or, The Ladies at the Fabric Store Read a Lot of Harry Potter.

This weekend, FINALLY, it poured on us.  After months of earth crackling drought, while the rest of the country gets repeatedly buried by mountains of snow, we FINALLY got, oh, an inch of rain. Maybe an inch and a half or two inches, thanks to a storm called a "Pineapple Express."  Okay.  I'm just glad the two inches of rain we got didn't receive some alphabetized name like apparently every cloud that breezes over the east coast and/or midwest now needs to have, according to the weather channel.  Back in my day, our blizzards were just nameless feet of snow piling up on the ground, we didn't go getting all attached to them and naming them after someone's aunt or uncle or a Roman god.  Now everything needs a name.  Well, not our Pineapple Express; we're happy to just call it by the name of some 2008 stoner movie and be done with it.

I'd like to say that the rain kept us from our usual weekend routine, but we're not what you'd really call "outdoorsy" in any way, shape or form.  On a rare occasion we'll go for a "hike," which generally consists of driving several miles to a scenic locale, getting out of the car, breathing in the fresh mountain air and then walking into the wooded trail for about a mile before the kid starts complaining about being bored and I start freaking out that we're being followed by a mountain lion.  Husband would likely prefer to be at home puttering or watching some DVR'd sci-fi, but he knows that between Ethan's general lack of interest in nature (so sad) and my hyper-sensitive fear of all things (so neurotic), we're only going to be out for about an hour, tops, so he never puts up any resistance to our forays into the great outdoors.

So indoors we stayed.  On Saturday, we went to see The Lego Movie and I stand by my assertion from just seeing the previews, that movie was written by a bunch of stoners who were stoned.  And it was hilarious.  However, I have a bone to pick with whoever wrote the theme song because I cannot get the song out of my head and I am >this< close to digging through my ears into my brain with a fork just to MAKE IT STOP!!!

We also watched the DVR'd opening ceremonies of the Olympics on Saturday.  Wow, can my kid ask  a crap-ton of questions about Russian history.  I made the mistake of saying something about the Russian police choir singing Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" during the show and that set off a 4-hours long string of "are the police singing next?" at every commercial break.  So it was super when we got all the way to the end of the recording and there was nary a Russian police officer singing even one bar of "Get Lucky" to be seen.  We had to dig up the clip on Youtube and finally all the questions came to an end.  Bliss.

On Sunday, the boy discovered Whole Foods pizza for lunch.  With orange juice.  weirdo.

he's totally rocking the Susanna Hoffs eyes here:

And then, fueled up on citric acid and mozzarella, he got it in his head that today would be the perfect day to turn the crawl space under our stairs into the perfect little Ethan-sized hideout! "Mom, how about you clean out all the junk that's in that closet so I can have it as my own little nook?" he said.  Ha.  "How about you clean out all the junk that's in the closet so you can have it as your own little nook?" I countered, expecting that to be the end of that because if there's one thing this kid likes less than meandering for hours on end through the great outdoors, its anything that involves the word "clean" as a verb.

But, much to Husband's and my amazement, the lure of the secret hiding spot was strong, and no sooner had we gotten home than Ethan set to work pulling all manner of things out of the closet to find the very back space he was thinking off for his hideaway.  This of course meant that the entryway of my house looks like, well, a crawl space.  "Welcome to our home! Just toss your coat on top of our sleeping bags and that assortment of holiday and birthday wrapping paper!"

I was impressed by how tirelessly he worked all afternoon and so I decided that I'd help him out with the rearranging of things.  Of course, that just really means I consolidated the random piles of former closet dwelling items into more meaningfully grouped piles of former closet dwelling items.  I'm handy like that.

In the end, the kid got his nook in the back of the closet, and I got to put some things back in the closet to create a little hallway within the hallway, thereby making an even MOAR SECRET-Y secret nook.

It looks like any other door....but behind it lurks...

table leaves and paper towels and utility step ladders....

....and a kid with a dream!   And some boxes...

Now it looks more like this...

you've still got your random golf clubs and holiday decorations and overnight bags, as well as a couple of boxes of pendant lights one might have ordered months and months ago and never got around to hanging in the kitchen.

But you've also got your little spot for homework, complete with original artwork and assortment of sleeping bag/pillows/blankets for your nook lounging enjoyment (and do not forget your just-for-show old Mac decorated exclusively in puffy glitter heart and star stickers.  Natch). Oh, and also?  A nerf gun.  For under the stairs protection.

Yesterday we went to the fabric store to buy a few yards of fabric so I can make a curtain leading into Ethan's little spot in the crawl space.  Every employee we encountered (in the aisle, at the cutting counter, at the cash register) wanted to know what we were doing and upon hearing that we needed fabric for curtains for "the space under the stairs," each one of them lit up like a nerdy fangirl and said, "JUST LIKE HARRY POTTER!" and sighed adoringly.   Fair enough; we've got a neighborhood owl.  But I draw the line at a quidditch pitch.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


I bet you thought I was gone on another months-long hiatus.

No, I'm here.  But given the fact that I've just written two 1/2 blog entries and deleted them, I'm pretty sure I don't have anything interesting to write about.  I've had a head cold for the past four days and can't really think about anything except how if I have to blow my nose one more time, I'm going to cry because OHMYGOD are tissues made of glass shards???!!! Husband even got me these fancy "cool to the touch" tissues that are supposed to be filled with lotion and somehow extra soothing.  Nope.  Just cold, lotion-y glass shards.

On Monday, after bringing Ethan to school, I drove home and told myself I would just "rest my eyes for a few minutes." I woke up at 11:55.  Incidentally, that's 5 minutes before I'm supposed to be in the school library reshelving books for an hour and giving the librarian her lunch break.  In my crud-filled foggy-headed state, I had forgotten to call in sick or email her that I couldn't make it.  For a brief moment, I considered just closing my eyes and going back to sleep--its a volunteer position, for goodness sake! She would understand if I missed it just one time and forgot to contact her! But.  What if that 3rd copy of the 4th Harry Potter novel was sitting on a cart waiting to be reshelved and some kid needed it because the other 2 copies were already checked out and way overdue, probably growing mold in the bottom of some 4th grader's backpack?  What if a kid showed up during the librarian's lunch break and needed to check out a book on horses or kittens?  Or tractors?  Or Percy Jackson?!

I sped to the school and arrived only 5 minutes late for my scheduled volunteer time ("sorry officer, somewhere, someone might need a book!"--said the nerdiest girl EVAR.)  It occurred to me as I walked into the library and only managed to croak out "sorry I'm late" before I needed to stop talking and catch my breath through what felt like an entire bag of soggy cotton balls shoved up into my sinuses, that perhaps I shouldn't have brought my bevy of germs to school.  Um.  Ooops.  Fortunately the library comes equipped with a hand sanitizer dispenser and as much as I am normally super anti-anti-bacterial, I fairly well bathed myself in the stuff before getting to work.

Also fortunately, very few kiddos came into the library during that hour, with the exception of a group of rowdy boys who wanted to use the place as their personal obstacle course--said the crotchetiest old lady EVAR.  I gave them three chances to pull themselves together and stop acting like lunatics and then I said, in my perfect ornery old lady voice, "If you can't behave like you're in a library, then you don't need to be IN the library.  Good day!"  Oh yeah, I said "good day."  I almost finished with "I said good day, sirs!"  but I knew they wouldn't get it.  They were already shuffling out, shoving and "nice job'ing each other, so it would have been overkill anyway.  A couple kids in the corner who were actually reading books during lunch thanked me on their way out.  I love kids.

Another mom found me in the library to tell me that a bunch of materials for our spring community service project had come in.  Oh, did I mention that in my complete and utter lack of boundaries or sense of self-preservation, I volunteered to head the spring community service project for the whole school?  Oh yeah.  That happened.   There are two boxes of things now waiting in the work room for me.  I don't remember what they are because I was trying not to cry the entire time the other mom was talking to me about what was in the boxes.  I love helping.

Its day four of the head cold and while it spent the first 72 hours firmly planted on the right side of my head, it shook itself up last night and spread out to both sides of my sinuses, which meant that instead of not being able to breath at all on my right side and being able to breathe perfectly on my left (seriously, I felt like I was just walking in circles for days), I could only breathe marginally well from either side of my nose.  Is there anything lovelier than a mouth-breather?  I'm stunning, I tell you.  Breath-taking (no pun intended).  This morning, my head congestion seems to be trading itself in for some chest congestion.  So the hacking should start any minute now.  Special.

Friday, January 24, 2014

So Long, Washington Blvd....

A million years ago, Husband and I bought our first house.  It was at, what we didn't realize at the time, was the absolute tippy-top height of the housing boom and we spent a gajillion dollars on a tiny little house (one side of a duplex, actually).  We never really loved the house, we were just burnt out on the search--literally months of looking at, bidding on, and losing house after house after house to other buyers who had giant chunks of cash to throw down, or the financial freedom to continue escalating their offer until we'd have been stupid to continue competing.

And so, one Thursday evening we went to see this house, just on the market, on a busy road and apparently owned by carnival folks.  Every room was painted a more garishly neon color than the last and there was a hole in the kitchen ceiling.  Ceilings were painted marigold yellow and walls were maroon and neon green. When walking around the outside of the house, we found a window that wasn't visible from the inside--because the owners had covered it up with a poorly constructed built-in entertainment center and bookshelves.  Resigned, we sighed, "Offer them $100 over asking," because in spite of how ugly it was, it was a house, and it was on the market and we were so tired of looking.  We'd been used to saying, "Start the offer at 5K over asking..." and still being left in the dust by people who could pay in cash, up front, 10K over asking.  We expected the carnival folk to laugh our offer right out the door.

Instead they took it.  Carnies are pretty unpredictable.  Turns out, they didn't think the house would show so well in an open house situation (GO FIGURE!) and so they decided to take our money and run.

So that's how we bought our first house.  A month before the real estate market crashed and made it entirely unsellable until 2014.

Did I mention that the house next door to it was abandoned?  And not abandoned like someone had recently moved out and it was still on the market.  I mean, boarded-up, crumbling brick, possibly rife with evil spirits and/or crack-heads, rodent-y abandoned.  (we never saw evidence of poltergeists or crack-heads...can't say the same for the rodents).  This also made the house unsellable until 2014...

It was not a really wise purchase (note issues with resale value...)  Husband (then fiancĂ©) and I bit our nails a lot and wondered if we should back out of the deal, forfeit our deposit and resign ourselves to apartment living for another year after our wedding.  But at the end of the day, we went through with the purchase, took a sledge hammer to the window-blocking built-ins, and layered coat upon coat of less eye-poking paint colors on every wall of the house before we moved in.  We told ourselves, "Its our first house, not our forever house; it doesn't have to be perfect.  It will be fine."

And then. We got married, I got pregnant and then this happened (seriously, how was he ever that tiny?  How was I that young?!):

And suddenly the horrifically awful house purchase was a home.

We painted here.... (and you can totally see boarded-up squirrel house next door)

We climbed on furniture here....

and took a break from painting to taste the paint...ew

We built train tracks here (when we could clear enough floor space)...

Seriously, Sarah.  Put away some toys...

OMG, we were ADORABLE in this house, what with the finger chewing...

...and the squealing/dancing/whatever that is, with random dining room chairs in the livingroom....

...and the crazy hair and baby belly....

....and the forced "fun" in the snow...

 ...and the first selfie (not ever, but of us)!!!

And OMG.  I just can't even...

We left the house back in '08, bound for the West coast (which was probably a good idea, given Ethan's face in that snow picture that seems to be saying, "Why, mama? Why you make me sit out here in this cold stuff? Don't you love me?") Since then, we've had renters in the house and I've not so much as driven by it on any of our trips to the East coast.  We were definitely ready to sell it, considering we are Californians happily residing in what we hope is our forever home.

But still, when our realtor sent us the message that the closing was complete and our old house was now someone else's home? Sigh. Can't lie, I might have gotten a little verklempt right in the middle of Starbucks.  There's something about giving up a space that played such a huge part in your life; of handing over the rooms where your baby slept, and learned to walk and sing and play.  Its just tugging at my heart a bit more than I thought it would.  Such is the life of a sentimental sap.  I love our new home, I love living in California, but a tiny piece of my heart will always reside on Washington Blvd.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Room of One's Own...

...at the Petaluma Sheraton.

That's what I had this weekend, and it was blissful.  Since Ethan was about 6 months old or so, I've been taking advantage of the fact that I am married to basically the most wonderful man alive and every 6-8 months or so, I take a night or a weekend "off" and head out of town on my own.

When Ethan was a nursing infant and we lived in Arlington, VA, I was literally 3 miles away from home, at the Crystal City Ramada Inn, the blackout shades drawn tight against the sunrise and the sleep number bed at its softest setting, where I slept for 12 straight hours and woke up to the most painfully engorged breasts in the history of breastfeeding. One should never have to experience jolting awake simply because one rolled onto one's stomach and felt lightning bolts of pain shooting through their boobs.  But still--that sleep?  Blissful.

After we'd moved to LA, when Ethan was three, I made a last minute decision to fly out to BlogHer'09 in Chicago to hang out with Sarah, Becca & Amy and on top of the superb grown-up interaction, I got to sit on a plane, in silence, with a glass of wine (or three...) and a book, for four hours.  Both ways.  And have adult conversation for THREE days straight without a diaper to change or a tantrum to diffuse even once.

These days, with Ethan in school full-time, I find I need these escapes less frequently to remind myself that I am a whole person all on my own, but when the opportunity arises, I take it.  In December, I came across an advertisement for a writing workshop that featured Anne Lamott.  In all honesty, I didn't even peruse the details about the workshop, like who else would be presenting, what the sessions would be about or any of those other little facts that might go into one's decision about attending.  It was under 3 hours away, and the keynote speaker was Anne Lamott.  Done.

As the date of the conference approached, I looked into what the conference was actually about.  Memoir.  Oh.  Essays. Oh.  Solo performance.  Oh?  None of them really my niche (except that what do you know? Blogging is memoir in its own little way, so I guess I wasn't there under entirely thoughtless pretenses.  Also?  Guess I picked a good time to start blogging again.)   Okay.  Not my exact cup of tea, but STILL.  Anne Lamott.  Bird by Bird'ing and all of that.

So on Friday morning,  I dropped Ethan off at school and was on my way.  And as much as I'm so beyond thrilled that he was excited to spend the next 36 hours with Husband while I was away, a few small expressions of sadness at my departure would have been nice.  But I made do with a "yeah, bye!!" in response to my "love you, buddy.  I'm going to miss you!" as the safety-orange garbed curb police opened Ethan's door for him.  Ah well.  That's kind of a 7-year old boy's expression of deep and abiding love, right?  Hm.

I spent a part of my day wandering through Golden Gate Park, where the trees seem to wander aimlessly, too.

Go home, Tree, you're drunk...

I went to the DeYoung Museum of Fine Art and was at once thrilled and colossally irritated by the hordes of people there on a Friday morning.  Fortunately most of the arty types were there for an exhibit by an artist I'd never heard of before (because I am a Boston Museum of the Fine Arts purist and I like my paintings by John Singer Sargeant, Renoir and the occasional Hopper), so I got the vast majority of the museum to myself once I found my way out of the mosh pit of a lobby.

I love that red umbrella. I'm going to start reading in a garden, in the sun, with a red umbrella. 

I do not get giant safety pin garden art.  ::hanging head in shame::  It just makes me think that there's a giant baby out there missing a diaper. 

Coolest thing about the museum?  There's a whole room of art that is accompanied by poetry written by local school children:

Sara Romeyn:  "Oh, me?  I wrote some poetry in 7th grade that's hanging in the museum of Fine Arts in SF.  No big whoop.  What have you done?"  Um.  ::hanging head in shame:: 

Views of SF from the observation tower at the museum.  That's some mighty find looking smog we've got there, huh?

After my leisurely stroll through the museum and park, I drove around for 45 minutes looking for a place to park so I could eat lunch before heading up to Petaluma.  Unfortunately, ALL the cars were in the city that day and had eaten up every last parking space everywhere.  So I took my growling stomach on the road with me (such a very bad idea) and headed north.

It was ever so much fun to be stuck in traffic behind the double decker sightseeing bus, as I'm sure you can imagine.  Because nothing makes city driving more delightful than a completely empty stomach and a bus full of tourists being carted around in a two-story behemoth by someone who doesn't really have any place else to be.

But I finally got here, and was a menace to society for 3 seconds by snapping this picture in moving traffic.  Like every other driver on the bridge.

In Petaluma, I took myself to the movies.  I saw Inside Llewyn Davis at a faux-old-timey theater with twenty senior citizens. I had joked with Husband that I was only really going to see the movie because of the cat I'd seen the main character carting around in all the trailers.  Turns out, the cat really is the best part of the movie.  Not that the movie is bad because its not--its slow and infuriating and Llewyn is really such an anti-hero that its hard to like him most of the time, even though on some level you love him right away.  But that cat.  The cat's the point of the whole movie.  I didn't really *get* it until I was half-way through my dinner at the hotel restaurant, but when I did, I was really annoyed I was alone and didn't have anyone to say, "OMG, the CAT!" to.

The conference was interesting, albeit not really what I had originally had in mind.  I did no writing, but got some hints of inspiration and ideas, and met a couple of interesting people.  The other speakers were entertaining and engaging and I felt like I got a lot out of their talks.  Then I got to listen to Anne Lamott speak for TWO hours, plus another 45 minute one-on-one interview she did with the conference organizer before she took the podium.  I hadn't yet read her newest book, Stitches, so I didn't realize she was basically telling us the book as she spoke; she was so natural and effortless and funny and touching.  She's teeny tiny and unassuming, you wouldn't think she could command the room like she did, but it was almost as though no one breathed for those two hours, except to laugh.  I'm reading the book now, so its like getting to relive those two hours in a little bit more depth (and without the giant Sheraton podium).

 It was really fabulous, although I have to say from here on in I think I will eschew book signings, because I never manage to do anything except sound like a thoroughly dumb bonehead when standing in front of an author I admire.  Thank god John Irving had injured his hand last February and was not signing books when I went back to NH to see him speak in Portsmouth; I can only imagine what inane drivel would have come from my brain to my lips in his presence.  Thankfully I had a witty friend with me when I went to see David Sedaris and she was able to cover the banter as he signed our books--I stood next to her and smiled like a circus freak.   As it was, I dreamily told Anne Lamott I could have listened to her all day and had to think for a minute when she asked me where I was from---did she mean originally?  or where had I come from specifically in regards to traveling to this event?  OMG, what if I give the wrong answer???!!!  Seriously.  No more book signings for me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Like Mother, Like Son...

Math and I don't get along.  Never have.  Well, that's not entirely true.  We did just fine together, were even on friendly terms, until long division came around.  Remainders can bite me, that's all there is to it.  And word problems?  Well they're just waterboarding directly to the brain as far as I'm concerned.  That train leaving Chicago at 1pm, going 65 mph?  I hope it derails itself right off a cliff into a fiery tangle at the bottom of a ravine (empty and on auto-pilot, of course).  It was sad really, because despite tutors and hours of hand-wringing and Little Engine that Could-ing, turns out I really couldn't.

I recall an evening where somehow in my angst, I ended up sitting on the bottom step of the staircase in our house, math book splayed out in front of me, notebook on my lap, my father trying to explain the words on the page and how they translated into a mathematical problem that did indeed, contrary to my sobbing bellows, have some sort of feasible solution.  I remember getting my first academic warning in 3rd grade---a yellow slip of paper informing my parents that mid-way through the quarter, I currently owned a big fat "D" in math.  I sent myself to my room, cried pathetically into my pillow and wondered what would become of a math-deficient wretch like me until my parents came into the room to assure me that they still loved me and I wasn't in trouble or destined to a life of groundings and all-around failure just because long division looked like chicken scratchings on paper and made my brain hurt.

Turns out they were right;  while that yellow warning slip from my 3rd grade teacher wasn't the last "D" I'd see in math (and there was even one "F" in there, in college), I still managed to make honor roll almost every quarter of my academic career and graduated Magna Cum Laude from college and graduate school. Thank goodness there's no math in Shakespeare or Bronte.

And here I am, 42 years old, a successful teaching and almost 8 years of motherhood behind me and I've very rarely found myself in serious need of higher order thinking math skills.  Well, let me clarify that; when I have found the need of those skills, I generally have had either calculators handy or friends for whom numbers are not terrifying to help out.  Outsourcing math--that's a skill I possess.

Now I have a 7.5 year old kid who, turns out, needs my help in math.  And this is okay.  For now.  We're currently "regrouping" in subtraction, which is what we used to call "borrowing" back in the stone age when I was in 2nd grade.  I have no problem turning a 5 into a 15 so I can subtract it from 9 and turning the 7 into a 6 so the 5 can become 15.  I have no problem doing that type of equation 25 times an evening for homework.  And then we flip the sheet over and there are word problems.  These days, I find the word problems easier than the rest of it--my relationship with words having become so friendly that they somehow seem to make the numbers less intimidating and more manageable than when I was in 3rd grade.   But I know the day is coming....

He's going to start doing division, and fractions (the humanity!!!) and the word problems are going to start to look like gibberish and he's going to fly ahead of me.  I never took calculus or trigonometry.  I stopped at Algebra 2, and really, that came the year after Geometry, and Geometry with Sister Eleanor really stripped my brain of any math-problem-solving-skills I might have possessed going into the class.  I had Sister Eleanor for THREE years of high school math.  I suppose its entirely possible she was just a rubbish teacher and I really *can* do math if someone teaches me correctly.  But given the fact that the class I scored an "F" in was a college course, taken 2 years after Algebra 2 and taught by someone other than Sister Eleanor, chances are I"m just not good at math.

The only issue we have with math right now is "the drill."  Every Tuesday, Ethan has a sheet of math problems put in front of him (simple addition and subtraction), and he and the rest of his classmates have 2 minutes to complete the entire sheet.  They can get 3 problems wrong (or incomplete).  If they don't accomplish that, they get the same sheet the next week and they repeat it until they get no more than 3 of them wrong.   Ethan has no problem with the equations--they are simple, one-columned problems that he's known the answers to since the beginning of 1st grade.  The problem is the 2 minutes.  Ethan doesn't work quickly to begin with--he checks the answer to one problem before he goes on to the next one.  He reads a problem 2-3 times first to make sure he's got the numbers in the right order in his brain.  He double checks to make sure he's supposed to be adding instead of subtracting. And, then there's always the factor of "squirrel!!!" distractions that his brain really struggles to overcome so he can focus on what's in front of him.  His brain doesn't do 25 math problems in 2 minutes.  Give him 5 minutes, he's golden.  Two minutes?  He finishes half of the sheet.  Almost never gets a problem incorrect, but almost never finishes the sheet.  Therefore, he's "struggling" in math.  And he feels like he's failing math, like he's bad at math.

Guys, this chaps my ass.  My kid, who gets 90-95%'s on bona fide skills-testing, un-timed tests in math, is afraid of math.  He's good at it, numbers make sense to him and his brain likes working with them.  But it doesn't do that work lickety-split and WHY is finishing a sheet of math problems in a very small set amount of time a significant marker of intelligence, anyway?  The idea of the drill reduces him to tears when we practice at home.  There are headaches and tummy aches and heads on the table and melodramatic runnings from the room, wailing and protesting that it can't be done.  I have stopped timing the drills at home.  "Just get it done, I don't care if it takes the next hour.  You can do it."  

Recently, during an after school playground conversation with some parents, I found out that Ethan's not the only one in his class struggling with these timed drills, and I'm not the only parent frustrated by how these drills seem to overshadow my child's otherwise perfectly on-target math skills and his confidence in those skills.

I walk a fine like between encouraging him to push himself harder and race his way through the drill, not looking back from one problem to the next, urging him to play along with the system and move up to the next level, and honoring the way his brain works and just telling him not to worry about it--finishing 25 math problems in 2 minutes is an arbitrary and useless method of assessing one's intelligence and we've got more important things to work on and worry about than how fast you can churn out simple addition and subtraction facts.  And his teacher is WONDERFUL at encouraging him and praising him when he gets close, and this past week she moved him up to the next level even though he left 4 answers at the end empty.  She knows he can do the work.  She gets him and that is our saving grace, and I'm eternally grateful.  But who knows if his next teacher will get him in the same way?

It did not occur to me that math would be even more difficult the second time around, as a mother.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Sky Is Falling....

And it sounds like terra cotta roof tiles falling 20 feet and smashing to the ground.  At 2:30 in the morning.

So that's fun.  As we jolted awake to the sound of our house falling apart, Husband did what he generally tends to do when there's noise in the night or a puddle of anything anywhere in the house (sadly on that front he's usually right)--he blamed the cats.  My brain hadn't cycled awake enough to realize that the sound clearly had come from outside and that our cats were inside, in the little hallway downstairs that can be closed off from the rest of the house (which is where they spend the night so they don't walk across our faces at 3am--not that I mind, but Husband isn't too keen on the 3am cat paw parade).

In the morning, we discovered the smashed tiles on the driveway, looking like a bunch of broken flower pots, minus the potting soil and plants.  One giant tile continued to hang from its nail, precariously dangling off the roof, directly over our heads.  Nothing climbs up onto your shoulder and whispers "money pit, money pit, money pit" like entire pieces of your roof sliding off of your house.  Roof guy came today and climbed up on the roof to take a look around at the state of things up there.  We knew the roof would need replacing sometime while we were the owners, but didn't think that day was coming quite so soon.

But yeah, there's that....even better, apparently these tiles are no longer made (which I totally understand because as much as I love the house and its whole mediterranean vibe, these tiles are a bit too LOOK AT ME--I'M SO MEDITERRANEAN! I'm looking forward to replacing them with something a bit more subtle (and getting the house painted a color that's less mustard-y)  (and maybe putting in a couple more windows so parts of the house don't look like part of a face without a nose...) (maybe we should just move...)

No.  We're not moving.  We are going to tear this place up one roof tile at a time and go from room to room beating it into submission until it looks exactly like we want it to.  Starting with this room:

This is the family room/kitchen and while we LOVED it when we first walked through the doors over a year ago, a year of living with/in it has made us increasingly more irritated with its lack of efficiency, its oversized appliances retrofitted into spaces where they don't actually fit and its awkward use of space.  Also, the windows are old and a green nightmare, and the fireplace looks like it belongs in a medieval castle.  That gorgeous oven and cooktop?  Doesn't work. And we can't get anyone to repair it because it was installed incorrectly and is a huge liability.  And the cherry floors are SO RED IT HURTS MY EYES. Which is sad because in theory I love them.

We've been talking to a builder for months and spending far too much time on Houzz, and hopefully soon we will start ripping things out and punching out walls and moving chimneys around and redesigning the whole space and the "after" pictures will be all "Property Brothers"-esque "No way that's the same space, how did they do that?!!!"-ish.

We'll see.  Because now we need a new roof.  "money pit money pit money pit."

Monday, January 13, 2014

Short on Fascinating Blog Topics...This is What You Get....

Is there an age at which he will stop wanting to wear my giant sunglasses?  I hope not.   He's so very incognito here.  And lounge-y.   

Another creature who excels at lounging? This guy.

That's Bob; he's the resident cat at my favorite used book store in the area.   After seeing this link in my facebook feed last week:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariellecalderon/books-to-read-before-they-hit-theaters-this-year , I went on a bit of a book-buying bender.  Some of the books I already own and some of them I'm not interested in at all (I loathe dystopian YA lit; I made an exception for the first Hunger Games book, which was entertaining, but I'm done), but there were a few that I HADTOHAVE in my hands RIGHTNOW, even though I was still slogging through the last 150 pages of Michael Chabon's Telegraph Ave.  He is such an artist with words, but 500 pages of wordy artistry makes my brain hurt, so it was slow going.  But still---NEW BOOKS!  So I made a trip to both of the Barnes and Nobles in our area.  Neither of them had ANY of the books I wanted (primarily Labor Day & A Winter's Tale).   But of course, they had lots of other books that were shelved near where I would have found the books I was looking for, had they been there.  So I have a few books from authors whose last names are close to Mayhew and Helprin.  I'm sure I'll get to them eventually, right?  Sure.

So then I went to my favorite used book store and found Labor Day.  And Bob.  I love me some bookstore cat.  I was the only customer in the store when I got there, so I had Bob all to myself.   He walked right up to me, meowed at me until I sat down to pat him, and then he climbed into my lap and up onto my shoulder. I enjoyed perusing the new books section while Bob purred on my shoulder and looked out the window for about 15 minutes before I got restless and had to peel him off of me (I still have the scratches on my shoulder to show for that exchange).  When I left, Bob was still curled up in the chair where I left him, waiting for the next unsuspecting shoulder to perch upon.

Eventually I found A Winter's Tale--on Amazon.  But it was out of stock, so I ordered it to be delivered when it comes back and here I sit, waiting.  This means to me that either this book is FANTASTIC and very in demand.  Or it is a horrible book that should be on its way out of print, but someone went and decided to make a movie out of it and now stores are scrambling to get it back in stock.  I guess I'll see in 7-10 business days....

Right now I"m reading The Fault in Our Stars, which I've been seeing people RAVE about for the past year and a half.  And guys,  maybe its my brain still recovering from the wordsmithing artistry of Chabon, maybe its that I have a cold, dead heart, but I'm not loving it.  Its good; I get the appeal.  But I swear if the main character says, 'Um" one more time, I'm going to take a red pen to the whole book and give her an F.  Anyway, its a super fast read, so I don't expect to spend more than 2 days on it, unlike the 3 weeks it took me to get through Telegraph Ave.

This weekend, I took the kid to Tahoe for a fabulous weekend full of sleet, whipping wind and very little snow.  Ethan didn't care; he skied on man-made snow for six hours.  I took a 2.5 mile walk during which the sky decided to rain, snow and sleet on an unpredictable and rotating schedule. It was relatively miserable, but I was determined to get my 10K steps in per my Fit Bit before I spent the rest of the day reading in the lodge (which?  I'm not so sure about this Fit Bit thing--on the 5-hour, traffic-jam crammed drive up to Tahoe, the Fit Bit logged me as having taken 5K+ steps--I'm guessing from moving my foot from the gas pedal to the brakes? So.  Yeah. ).

Sad mountain. 

Happy kid. 

Foggy mountain

 Pathetic looking winter field

Me, part-way through my sleet walk.  I'm smiling whilst being pelted with tiny shards of frozen water because I'm thinking of the blazing fire and hot chocolate waiting for me at the lodge when I'm done. 

There it is....ahhhhhh.