Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Standish Treadwell

It's one of those days where I don't really have anything interesting to say.  That isn't to say I don't have a lot to talk about.  It's just that none of it is particularly interesting.

I'm nearing the end of my stimulation medications for my 2nd IVF cycle...which means I'm feeling bloated, bruised, and inclined to only wear waist-less clothing.  But honestly, I don't have a lot to complain about it.  I haven't been as nauseated this time around, which as been life-saving.  I've had much more energy to enjoy my days, so I've been trying to take advantage before the retrieval comes along on Friday and totally wipes me out.

Blake's been up in New York for the past three weeks, but he did get to come home last weekend. It was SO NICE to have him home.  We mostly laid low - swimming, watching movies, eating out - but it was just what we both needed.  He's coming home again on Friday for the retrieval, which makes the whole thing much easier to look forward to.

Also, my Mom is coming out on Friday to stay for a week to keep me company and help me out on my not-allowed-to-drive and too-sick-to-drive days.  I'm incredibly grateful that she'll be here for so long and it also feel like a great reward for making it through the next few days.

By the time the evening hits, I'm usually too tired to do much, so I've been doing a lot of reading and some seriously Netflix-ing.  Dawson's Creek, man.  It's so terrible! (But also strangely addicting).  Mostly I'm just watching it until I can't hold out any longer and end up purchasing season 2 of Orphan Black.  We'll see how long I last.

As far as reading goes, I've got a new goal to read all of the Printz Award winners and honorees.  I've made myself a chart on google docs to keep track of what I've read so far.  This, of course, appeals both to my love of charts and to my love of well-written YA literature.

I read Maggot Moon earlier this week.  It's a 2014 honoree and boy, it did not disappoint.  I'd characterize it somewhat as a mixture of 1984, Wonder, and a WWII holocaust bio.  I can't stop thinking about it.  It's told in 100 short chapters (some as short as a paragraph) by a 15 year old dyslexic boy named Standish Treadwell.  "Can't read. Can't write. Standish Treadwell isn't bright."  But he is bright.  And he changes the world.  And it's heartbreaking.  And fantastic. And fantastically creepy.  And I cried.

It's books like this that make me simultaneously excited to write, but panicked because nothing I write will ever be that good.

The sparse prose.  The perfect alliteration and use of metaphor.  The characters you want to jump in and save.  The characters you hate.  A story that makes you feel.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shopping the House

We moved into our house from a 583 square foot apartment.  So we only had 583 square feet worth of stuff - a couch, a chair, a small IKEA table, a bed, and a couple of book cases.

The woman that was moving out of our house was moving into an assisted living center and was downsizing considerably.  When she asked us if we'd like her to leave some of her furniture, we jumped at the chance.

It wasn't the most beautiful of furniture, but it was functional and it has saved us stacks of cash.  A lot of what she left was modular furniture that could be combined into desks, long dressers, cupboards etc.  There was lots of it.  And it was all a mustard yellow.  Not a nice mustard yellow, either, but a really old, dingy mustard yellow.

So a couple months after moving in (when I took on the daunting task of painting the basement) I painted the dressers quickly with what I had on hand.  The black and white looked fine, but it never really sang to my soul (like any truly good piece of furniture should).

For the past couple of years we've had an IKEA Expedit shelving unit in our guest room for storage.  It wasn't beautiful, but it was functional and it fit the space.  But the more I looked at it, the less I liked it.  It blocked the sight line from the doorway out the window, making the room feel darker and smaller than it is.  It's a small room as it is, so that really wasn't helping.

Originally I wanted to purchase a new dresser for the room.  Something wood, with maybe more curving lines.  I scoured craigslist and the local flea markets, but nothing was really doing it for me.  Also, there was some sticker shock involved.  Ever since this whole IVF thing entered our lives, I've been feeling pretty cheap with all other aspects of my life.  But that's neither here nor there...

After wandering the house trying to find a free solution, I stopped and stared at the modular dresser stored and unused in our basement.

I'd always hated how low and chunky it felt, but an idea finally came to me.  A couple weeks earlier I'd fallen in love with a great Eames bachelor dresser at Peg Leg Vintage.  The price tag scared me away, but I hadn't been able to stop thinking about it.

So I set out to make my own.  Blake and I flipped the dresser over, removed the chunky trim from the bottom, and separated the two pieces.  Then, I ordered some Eames hairpin legs from a man on Ebay and screwed them on to the bottom.  They're 8-inch legs, so they gave the dresser a bit more height and solved the visual weight problem.  I also painted it in Benjamin Moore's Grey Timberwolf (because I already had it on hand).

It feels much lighter now and the low-ness (yes, it's a word) of the dresser allows a lot more sunlight to come in through the window.

And if I know one thing to be true, it's that one garbage find deserves another.  I moved up from the basement the mock wingback chair that my mom and I had reupholstered and called it a day.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Lunar Eclipses of the Apocalypse

So here's a story that has kept me laughing all morning.

Bear and I were out for our morning jog today when we came across a woman sweeping the sidewalk in front of her house.  I detoured into the street so little Bear wouldn't try to cover her with kisses (which is what he'd do if he had his way), and smiled and said good morning.

She started talking to me immediately, like we were already acquainted and in the middle of a conversation.

"So, have I ever told you about DayStar TV?"

Playing along because maybe she is just lonely?  "No, I haven't"

"It's this great TV provider with over 100 channels and lots of good news programs with great announcers.  And you can pick and choose what you like.  And you will like everything.  It's great.  It's called DayStar.  There are programs about everything.  You can find anything you like on there.

"Oh, that sounds nice."

"Yes. It's DayStar and it is so much better than other TV.  You can even call them today to have it set up.  You can call them anytime and change things, too."

Who is this all-encompasing "them"?

"Well, thanks. That's good to know."  Starting to walk down the street to get away from where this crazy conversation is going.  "Have a good morning!"

"I mean, on DayStar they've been talking about all of the stuff happening in Israel and how terrible it is.  Biblical stuff! Terrible stuff!  That part of the world is going to affect and take down the United States"

Still trying to gracefully exit the situation by slowly walking away.  "Well, thanks for telling me.  Have a good one!"

"Also, have you heard about the four lunar eclipses?  Those are signs of the apocalypse!  This is Biblical stuff.  All of the happenings in the heavens and the Middle East.  It's mentioned in the Bible. It's all signs!"

I decided to pick up the pace and not look back to continue the conversation, but she did still continue to call out to me all the way down the street about the impending apocalypse and the necessity of having DayStar TV.

Because apparently DayStar is actually a real thing?  What would I do without Google?

I feel like writing to DayStar to tell them that they need to get spokespeople who sound a little less crazy.  It's not great for credibility.  It's also not great for a peaceful morning jog.

But it is great for a story, so there's that.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

45 minutes and some paint

Summer is a great time for garbage hunting in the neighborhood.  Maybe it's when State Department folks most often get transferred.  Maybe it's when leases are up on rentals.  Whatever it is, it makes for great DIY opportunities.

A Couple weeks ago while Bear and I were walking with Blake to the metro, I passed this huge faux-guilded frame on the side of the road.  It was about 5 feet tall and two-and-a-half feet wide (and quite ugly).  What really intrigued me was that the backing was particle board instead of cardboard.  Plus, you know me; I can't stand knowing that something perfectly useful is going to end up in a landfill somewhere.  So, I spent the next few minutes of our walk contemplating what I could use it for, and by the time we'd dropped Blake at the metro and gotten back to the frame I'd figured it out: a chalkboard.

The whole project took maybe 45 minutes.  I primed the frame with oil-based primer, painted two coats of chalkboard paint on the interior portion, then did a light and patchy coat of white oil-based paint over the primer.  There were so many niches and crevices on the frame that I didn't want to take the time (and go insane using a tiny paintbrush) to make it perfect, so I went for a more distressed look.

It turned out better than I'd expected (forgive the terrible and dark photos from my iPhone) and I had it listed on Craigslist that afternoon and sold the next day.  I would have kept it myself, but I didn't see a true need for it.  Now it's happily sitting in a play room for a darn cute three year old.  Easy peasy.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Water Dog

Bear is sort of a wimp.  We'd been worried for a while that he wouldn't be able to enjoy the lake because he has been so terrified of the pool.  We took a gamble and got him a life jacket for his birthday.  That sure changed his outlook.  The little guy thought he was invincible when he had his life jacket on.

Blake's parents' just bought paddle boards, so we took them out for a test drive a few minutes after we arrived on Thursday.  Bear hopped right on (unbidden) and loved his ride across the cove.  After a few rides he became truly adventurous and would jump off the end of the board to swim to the other board or to the beach.

Like I said, the life vest turned him into a different puppy.

After paddle boarding, boat rides, walking around town, attending the 4th of July parade, meeting other dogs, taking long walks, and rolling in the sand on the beach, Bear was in heaven.  He collapsed on the rug at the end of each day and wouldn't move until 8:00 the next morning.  That's sort of a minor miracle considering he's usually up and ready to play at 6:45 a.m.

We're pretty sure Bear was as sad as we were when we had to leave on Sunday afternoon.  He looked so concerned as we packed up our suitcases and cleaned the house.  We never know quite what's going on in that fluffy head of his, but there's a fairly good chance that much of what is currently going on is schemes of ways to get back up to Winnipesaukee.

Hopefully soon, little Bear, hopefully soon.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Birthday for Bear

Bear turned one on Sunday.  It's sort of hard to believe we've had the little guy for 10 months.  I know people say this about their kids, so I feel ridiculous for saying it, but it really has been the most wonderful 10 months.  It's hard for us to remember life pre-Bear.  Was it just sadness and gloom all of the time?  It must have been, because with him (no matter how naughty he is) it's hard not to have a smile on our faces.

We celebrated his birthday by leaving him home alone to go to our monthly friends group dinner.  That sounds callous.  So no, we actually celebrated by buying him some canned dog food and a new braided bully.  We froze the dog food in a container and dumped it out in a big brick for him to work on after a nice long walk.

He loved it and worked on it all evening.

We also tried to get him to wear a party hat for some requisite birthday pictures.  All his friends on instagram are so good about posing for darling birthday pictures with all sorts of regalia on.  But not so with Bear.  This guy is too wiggly.  And too distrustful of anything related to human clothing.  Nope.  The closest we got to putting the hat on the little devil was bouncing it around in front of his face to entertain him.

I borrowed the hat from a friend...so, Tiffany, no party hats were harmed in the making of this series. I promise to return it in once piece.