Friday, March 6, 2020

The Home Improver

Last night, Caedmon and I began listing aloud all the improvements Derek has made to this house since we moved in last June, because list-making is a fun pastime.  Our youngest was born with this truism etched on his heart.  That, or he's seen me making one bajillion lists over the course of his lifetime and it rubbed off.  The former sounds nicer.

I don't feel bad writing out the list here the way I would if I forced you to listen to my recitation; you're free to skim the list at will and it will likely take you seconds.  If I did this verbally, I would no doubt pause periodically to wander down myriad rabbit trails with side stories and side-side stories.  I am not brief when writing and even less brief when I story-tell aloud.  At least in this format, you have a choice and don't have to find a polite way out of the conversation.


  • Tore down kitchen cabinets
  • Installed open kitchen shelves
  • Hung bucket-things
  • Replaced knob and lock on back door
  • Installed storm door
  • Installed new kitchen lighting
  • Installed new basement lighting
  • Installing new outdoor shutters (in progress!)
  • Installed new front outdoor light
  • Installed new living room sconce
  • Created built-in bookcases
  • Installed new bedroom lighting
  • Installed new bedroom closet shelving
  • Tore down cabinets in kid's bedroom
  • Caulked and insulated around five outdoor windows
  • Built storage shelving under stairs
  • Built shelving for storage in basement
  • Built and installed sliding barn door for kid's room
  • Shaved down bathroom door so it would close
  • Did scary plumbing stuff
  • Installed new coat closet door 


This isn't even going into building a few Ikea storage pieces and aaaallllll the electrical work he's done throughout the house.  This place was a deathtrap, I swear, with its knob and tube wiring and non-grounded outlets and who knows what else.  (Derek does.)  We've also had a few things professionally installed because Husband knows his limits.  As do I.  Our limits for home improvement projects are just very different.  Joanna Gaines, I am not- but if you need book recommendations, I'm your gal!  (Laughs weakly.)

I've been combing through our various before, during, and after photos for some of these projects Derek has accomplished and plan on writing a few posts describing them.  I'll try to avoid excruciating detail, but that's really not something I can realistically promise.  Actually, wait- yes, I can!  Since I was at work while 90% of the labor involved in these things was done, I don't even really know what all went into most of it, just that I would arrive home and a new light fixture would be up, or I could see progress on the bookcases, or whatever.  I will also be sure to tell you the one minor service I provided with each one, often involving paint, in the same way a child will wave their hand in the air and cry, "I halped!"


Also:  we've been in the house just a few days shy of nine months.  It's like all this drilling and sawing and hammering and measuring and on and on is Derek's version of gestation.  He's been gestating DeWalt tools.  Or hang on, I feel like I'm using this metaphor imperfectly- is it the projects that he's been gestating?  Is the book case I'm currently looking at his project baby?  Since he worked alone, was it immaculate conception?  (Did things just get weird?  I think things just got weird.)


Look here:  in the time since I wrote all the previous words early this morning and right now, Derek began and finished another dang project.  He says he loves switching out light fixtures because it's "quick and easy and such a drastic change."  I would call him a liar but he does make it look easy, even with the decrepit wiring in this house that he's slowly bringing into the 21st century.  And so:  behold!  One fewer boob light in this house!
Full disclosure:  this isn't the actual light he took down.  He began this project before I could take a "before" picture, so I walked ten feet to the side and took a picture of another light that will someday be replaced.



Tadaaaaa!  Look how happy he looks.

I wanted to get a picture of the new light fixture without the light bulbs on, but as it turns out when you turn the light off it gets darker in the room and I was too impatient to wait until morning when we had some natural light, so the coloring on this is wonky because I edited the daylights (haha) out of it on my phone.  But... behold!  Our new fixture, wavy glass, Edison bulbs, and all, and Derek's newest product of gestation!

I promise I'll come back with a better term.


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Things That Are Confusing about Connecticut, Round Two


  • The roads.  THE ROADS.  I've been much much better about expanding my bubble living in CT this time- going new places, venturing out alone, not sticking to the same old places time and again.  This is in part due to the fact that I'm just plain older; every time I begin to think harsh thoughts toward my past self that lived here, I remind myself that I was 21 when I moved last time and say "YOUR PREFRONTAL CORTEX WASN'T EVEN FULLY DEVELOPED, cut the girl some slack!"  But even more than having a fully developed brain to thank for this expanded bubble is the wonder that is modern day GPS.  Google and Apple Maps are my very, very best friends.  We spent hours together daily last summer and fall when we first moved here.  I still touch base with them multiple times a week.  Nothing makes sense about the roads here:  if you're on the highway and miss your exit, you can't just get off on the following exit and backtrack, midwestern-style.  The next exit takes you to an entirely different place with no obvious connectors to the road you originally wanted.


  • Sneezing- or rather, people's reaction to it.  If you sneeze here, people will stop what they are doing, turn to you, and audibly say, "Bless you!"  Hang on, I feel like I'm not explaining this well.  Yes, I grew up with utterances of "Bless you" and "Gesundheit" in response to sneezes, but I need you to picture people not just saying it off-hand, but rather halting whatever their current task is, then turning toward the person and declaring, "Bless you!" as if they really are trying to ward off a sneeze demon, or whatever the past belief that prompted the original of that phrase is.  Last Sunday we were all listening to the sermon like good little Christians when someone one row up sneezed.  No less than four people turned toward that person and didn't bother to lower their voices as they blessed them.  And business carried on as usual, with the exception of Derek and I looking at each other like, "Helloooo, Crazy Town."


  • Suckers vs Lollipops.  To me and my midwestern brethren, this
is a sucker, while this
is a lollipop.


Here, they are both lollipops.  This comes up a surprising amount at my job, possibly because there are so many children in libraries, possibly because on any given day we have too much candy in the workroom.





  • Street Names.  Roads here often have charming and amusing names.  I often run on Camels Back Road, which is a short road with one steep hill, a quick up-down.  One of my favorites on our drives down to the coast is Roast Meat Hill Road.  So many were clearly named before city planners could get their hands on plat maps and say, "Look, the roads going North-South will all be the names of presidents, East-West will be tree names- none of this Mystic Meadow Lane or Velvet Place nonsense."  (Ahem, Midwest.)  Crowing these unusual names to our captive passengers has become one of my favorite things to do whilst driving around the state.  Also confusing, in a not so whimsical way, are places with names like this state park

For those that don't feel like zooming in and test their vision, that sign reads, "Satan's Kingdom State Recreation Area."  One has to wonder what kind of "recreation" is happening at this place.  We whizzed by pretty quickly in our vehicle, so I couldn't make out the bloody altars and eternal fires between the trees, but I'll be sure to report back if I ever pluck up the gumption to visit Satan's Kingdom.








Sunday, March 1, 2020

Shortbread and Embroidery and Neuroses

Between Adelaide asking why I don't write on here anymore and my half-hearted claims that I still occasionally update this thing in our last Christmas newsletter, I've been feeling a push to get on here and write something, anything, even though I know that the first few times I write after not having written in so long the results are a charming cross between drivel and plain trash.  So now my intention is to get a couple garbage posts up that grease the metaphorical wheels, and see if maybe this is something I can sustain.  I will admit that my expectations are low.

Part of the problem is me.  My writing style is Full Diva; I need a big chunk of silent, uninterrupted time, and that is not something that happens to me anymore.  Someone always needs something from me.  This is not complaint; I know there are lots of lonely humans out there who would love to discuss the inner workings and motivations of professional soccer players or long-dead (or almost dead) British rockers.  When I'm on here, tappity-tap-tapping away and I'm interrupted by a kid or a text or a whatever, I feel instant rage, and that's not fair to whomever is a-knocking.

Okay, so to be perfectly honest, I do get chunks of silent, uninterrupted time.  I make this happen by getting up between 5:00 and 5:20 a.m. most days.  I could spend that hour writing rather than running.  I could.  But I will not.


When last we met, I was in paperwork/red tape/bureaucratic hell trying to get all the various forms for the various school and governmental agencies sorted.  That is more or less done, although the trash company in Iowa only just stopped sending us monthly bills a few weeks ago after we made yet another phone call asking why they were so obsessed with us (gratuitous Mean Girls quote:  five points).

The kids are all doing well in school.  My prayers that the kids would be granted kind, compassionate teachers were answered.  That, or we're living in one of the few states that is known for paying its teachers reasonably well and it turns out that actually does benefit students.  Or it's a mix of the two.  The Lord works in mysterious ways, after all.

I have a full-time job.  I started said job a few days after that last blog post back in August, and looking back I'm wondering why I only mentioned the part-time library job and not the full-time library job I was about to begin at an entirely different library.  Knowing me the way I do, I was probably worried I'd accidentally stitch all my flaws onto my work attire in my sleep (in beautiful, flowing script, because these are still my dreams), my new boss would read them the minute I walked in the door, and I'd be fired straight away.  My fears don't often make sense.  But, here I am, those same fears driving me to curse the motion sensor light mounted on our back shed/barn/thingy as I peer over the bottom of the windowsill and tell myself for the thousandth time that it's probably just one of the neighborhood cats strolling by, not the person who I'm sometimes* quite sure lives in our shed, unbeknownst to the hapless family living only a few hundred feet away.

Let's see, what else?  Kids?  Check.  My newish job?  Check.  Shed dweller?  Check.

Derek!  Derek is really enjoying his new job.  It's sports and oftentimes high pressure, two things at which he excels.  No, I don't understand those parts of his personality.

I'm sure there are many more vitally important things to report, but all I can think to say for tonight is that I made the recipe for Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread on Smitten Kitchen's website yesterday.  The three males in the family thought it was decent.  Adelaide and I loved it.  Were I to do it again, I would lessen the amount of flour by 1/4- 1/2 cup; the dough ended up overly crumbly.  It is shortbread, so if you plan on making it, brace yourself for an indecent amount of butter used.

Also, I have taken up hand embroidery.  I've only completed one project, but I'm still allowing myself to say that it is something I now do.  It is delightful and strangely addictive, and doesn't require large chunks of silent time.  I am even now on the prowl for my next pattern so this one on my wall doesn't have to look so lonely.  This newest hobby plus the fact that I am freaking out about how it's almost 10:00 and I won't get enough sleep is enough, I think, to earn my solid placement in the Early Old Lady Club.  I've always been precocious.
This is smaller than it appears, maybe 4x4".




*anytime it's dark out and/or I actually have to go in there alone