Friday, April 15, 2011

yard crasher wanted

I stopped by our soon-to-be new house yesterday morning before work to take some measurements and deal with a few other things.  I finally got a chance to take a good look (and some pics) of the yard now that all of the snow has melted, the sun was out, we weren't pressed for time, and we weren't pre-occupied with dealings inside of the house.  What did I find?  I found that it's going to need a lot of love. 

There's a huge above-ground pool that we knew we wanted to get rid of from the first day we saw the house.  There's also a pool-deck attached (?) to the eyesore that joins to the regular deck-deck.  I'm not an above-ground pool expert but it looks like its fairly new and in good condition, as is the pool deck.  We don't want to deal with the maintenance and safety issues that go along with having a pool.  I'd probably be able to deal if it was an in-ground, lagoon style pool with natural stone and landscaping around it but, it's far from that.  Don't get me wrong, it's nice - we just feel that having that much more lawn space for our family to run around would be a better use of space.  I've heard from numerous sources that we can post it on craigslist for free and someone will quickly come and claim it...but we've also been advised that we can get some loot for it.  Know anyone that needs a pool and wants to come disassemble and take off our hands???  Here's a crappy picture of half the pool and a part of the adjoining deck.  I think that gas-tank-looking thing has something to do with the water filter.  I'm not sure what that post in the foreground is but I'm sure I can unearth that and find a constructive use for it.

As you might notice from the picture, the pool sits a bit lower than the rest of the yard, sunken in, if you will.  I'm not sure what we will find underneath the pool but I'm guessing it won't be heaps of cash and jewels.  Our initial thought was to extend that brick path and/or make a stone walkway from the deck that leads to a stone patio area, firepit and all that jazz - some place other than the deck to sit and enjoy the privacy and silence of our backyard.  I've all but got those plans drawn up in my head already so it won't be long before Joe's beautiful hands will be caked in dirt and covered in callouses.  I'm pretty sure I'll be busy taking care of James and cooking dinner during that project.

The next eyesore might need our attention before the pool.  I don't know much anything about plants.  We have noticed tons of this crap as we've driven through the area and it looks similar to my hair in the morning (and most of the day): a tangled shit show.  There is some behind the stone wall at my parents' house and, as my Mum will attest, once you try to trim it back, it just grows twice as fast.  You can't really tell from the picture but it has weaved its way up that huge tree and is probably suffocating the poor thing.  We're gonna need to rip those suckers up from the roots so they have no chance of survival.  I might even help Joe with that project just for the pure gratification that will come along with seeing that mess go.  Like the pool, we won't know what will be left once we clear this area out.  Maybe we will count on hitting the lottery and being able to level the entire backyard or bumping into Ahmed Hassan during one of our trips to the hardware store.

There are mature trees surrounding the entire property but to clearly identify our property's perimeter, I was thinking of planting big green things to act as a fence - mainly on the left side of the house where the property line isn't so clear.  I figured that would look nicer, softer and more natural than a true fence.

Aside from a little cleaning up, the frontyard shouldn't suck up to much of our money or Joe's time.  Like I said, I know nothing about plants but those bushes shrubs trees things appear to be in good condition.  At the very least, it doesn't seem as though these plants will strangle and murder the surrounding plant life.  I'll probably be forced to clean up the stuff lining the driveway since I'll see it everyday and the fact that there are still fall leaves mixed in will drive me insane.

Even with the pool, there is a decent amount of grass space that will need to be mowed.  Once the pool finds a better home, Joe will probably get his wish for a riding mower.  Oh, and since the house is set back from the road and the driveway is pretty long, a standard snow-blower probably wouldn't be too efficient.  If Joe behaves himself, he can get a riding mower AND plow attachment.  If you're looking to give one those away for free, you know where to reach me.

(Note:  If you know of anyone that wants the pool let me know!  Feel free to post tips and realistic suggestions as well!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

my first place

After 18 years of living in my parents' house, 4 years of living away at school, 2 years of bouncing around California, and 2 years of renting back in Mass., I finally purchased my own place in June 2007.  It has served me well over the past several years.  Going through the whole process of purchasing a property was a great learning experience, as were the years that followed.  I've always been mindful of finances but having a monthly mortgage payment made me even more so.  The responsibilities that come along with owning are obviously great, but I felt as though those responsibilities were rewards for a lot of hard work and mostly good decisions.

I lucked out and didn't have any work to do once I moved into my new nest.  The three-family house was recently renovated and my unit wasn't anything fancy but it more than met my needs for that stage of my life.

The kitchen was clean - that was more than I can say for most of the other places I looked at.  I'll miss the gas stove - our new house has electric.  Boo.  The rest of the kitchen was new-n-nice but not really my style.  I knew I was only going to be spending a few years in this condo so I never intended on throwing money into upgrades.  My first purchase for the new house was a new washer/dryer.  Despite the fact that I rarely do laundry, they are two of the loves of my life.  After much debate, we decided to leave them for our new tenants.  Oh, I didn't mention that?  Long story but we took my condo off the market and will be renting it out instead.  Um, that wasn't a long story at all - it was actually pretty damn short.  I have faith that I will find a new washer and dryer that I will love equally as much and that Joe will use as much as he did these ones.  Besides, they look so happy and at-home where they are now.  I wouldn't want to ruin that for them.  (See them over there in that precious little pantry nook?  They are Whirlpool Duets in case you were wondering.)

Another one of the few purchases I made for my new place was a dining room table.  I've never needed one before but now that I officially had a dining room, it seemed like a good time to get one.  With the help of a friend's employee discount, I got this beauty along with it's bench counterpart.  This sucker is NOT staying.  I'd throw this thing on my back and carry it to each new place we move if I have to.  (I can say that because I don't plan on moving again.  Moving sucks.  Our new house is perfect and has plenty of room to grow.)  The dining room also has a nice built-in that stored tons of booze.  These old houses have great character and I'm glad they maintained all the original woodwork and charm when they made renovations.  They even kept that stained-glass it.  The guy that lived on the 3rd floor removed his and replaced it with a fugly casement window.  I have no idea why.  He's an odd bird...and might be a candidate for his own designated blog post. Unless something ridiculously awesome was on TV, I ate dinner in here every night...until a few months ago when it became a landing ground for a carseat, diaper bag, mail, jackets, and storage boxes.  Here's the dining room and my Big Sur - paired with two super-old chairs that came from my grandparent's house. 

When there was a ridiculously good show on and it was before 8pm on a school night, I'd watch it in my living room.  This was the only room that I made any real changes to since I moved in.  Nothing major - I just painted the walls a warm tan to keep my place from looking too crack-house-ish.  (The walls in the kitchen, bath, and hallway are light light cream and the dining room and bedrooms are a light light grey.)  The trunk is another find from my grandparent's house - I just got a piece of glass cut to put on top for added stability and protection.  The big couch was put together inside of the condo.  It was too big to fit up the narrow, winding staircase - although the movers tried and managed to bust holes in three walls and rip the original couch.  Luckily, the store replaced the couch and had a company come and actually put it together for me.  I can't wait to take a hacksaw to that thing once we are ready to move out.  The matching loveseat was already moved out when this picture was taken.  The brown chair/ottoman is coming with us.  It won't go with our new living room scheme but its comfy as hell and, aside from where the cats scratched it up, it's pretty pretty.  We'll probably put it in one of our two guest bedrooms until future offspring force us to chuck it.  Oh, and those windows let in tons of light and allowed me to snoop on my neighbors for hours of entertainment.

I moved into this place on July 1, 2007.  I think it was the hottest day of the year - at least it seemed that way.  After lugging boxes and furniture up a few flights of stairs a few trillion times, I made a deal with myself that I would unpack just until 7pm and then reward myself with a relaxing bath in my new jacuzzi tub.  7pm rolled around, I filled up the tub with the hottest water possible and eased myself into the water.  Just before I pushed the button to activate the jets, I had a brilliant idea to put a few drops of moisturizing body wash into the water.  I turned on the jets, laid back, and less than 4 seconds later realized I was overflowing the tub with suds and water.  I immediately got out and spent the next 45 minutes cleaning soap and water off my bathroom floor and trying to wash away a tub full of bubbles.  I cried and went to bed.

That leaves the two bedrooms.  I tried to keep my bedroom as simple as possible.  I hate clutter.  Yeh, I have three piles of both clean and dirty clothes on the floor right now, but I hate clutter.  My bedroom doesn't look like anything special but it is special.  I got engaged in this room, I'm pretty sure James was conceived in this room, my water broke in this room, and I've cuddled with my fiance and son in this room.

Then there's the second bedroom.  Throughout the past 3.5 years, this room has been a roommate's bedroom, a guest room, a closet, an office, a giant coat rack, and James' room.  Again, we kept this room pretty simple.  The memories we will forever have of our little guy playing, sleeping, pooping, singing, dancing, screaming, and laughing have better served us than fancy nursery decor ever will.  Also, we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl so everything stayed neutral.  I have big plans for his new bedroom though.

So there it is, my first place.  It has been a pleasure living in you but I'm beyond excited to move and get started on our first place.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

a baby's intuition

The dog I had when I was a teenager used to head to the dining room and look out the front window several minutes before someone would arrive home.  It was like he was giving us a warning to get off the couch, start washing dishes, and look busy because Mum was on her way home.  Who am I kidding…I didn’t budge.  Dad has always done the dishes.  Anyways, Casey (our dog) had some sort of rad doggie sense and knew when someone was close – before seeing the car turn down the street, before hearing it pull in the driveway.

I think babies have a similar intuition.  Maybe big people have the same intuition but are just too preoccupied by everyday frivolities to recognize it?  Eh, that’s something to ponder for another day when I don’t have as much celebrity gossip to catch up on.  (get the irony there?)  James doesn’t make his way to the front window when Joe is on his way home from work, but I definitely think he senses there are big changes on the horizon.  We’re set to move in a month.  Sure, we’ve packed up half of our furniture and other belongings but we’ve left James’ room untouched in an attempt to keep his life as stable as possible.  He must be listening in on our new-house-plans and they keep him awake at night just as they do me.  I wonder if he wakes up in the middle of the night with the same anxiety nightmares I’ve been having about an over-scheduled agenda.  That would explain his 2am screaming fits that he developed this week.  It’s ok, bud, you can go back to sleeping through the night now!  He’s also figured out how to take his pants off in the middle of the night - not even six months old and already taking after his Dad.  Maybe he’s just trying to help us pack his clothes?

Beating out finances and time management, taking first place on my list of worries is how we can keep this transition as easy as possible on the little guy.  Thus far, he has been a champ and super accommodating to his on-the-go parents.  I promised him that I'd get his new room in order first and worry about how we are going to pay for a new roof second.  I hope that satisfies him and he doesn’t start begging us for a dog.