27 June 2006

this old house

Although I was allegedly successful a while back in my search for a decent house painter -- allegedly because the guy is supposed to show up some time before my birthday, and that day is fast approaching -- my work has only just begun. These home repair projects have a way of snowballing.

I'm currently barreling down a very slippery slope of home repair -- one that began as a simple Screen Door Issue. By the time I'm done, I fully expect this project to have snowballed into a three-storey neo-Georgian facade, an arts-and-crafts-inspired laundry room, and a four-acre formal garden with orgy-worthy fountains.

One can only hope.

Just as a healthy reminder and reality check, this is the house in question:

Garden plot, before planting

Yeah, I know. The gutters. I'm on it, OK?

Now they say I need a new front door. I am skeptical about this, but let's assume for now that this is true. So my Dad, who still nominally owns the house, called Some Guy (it's always Some Guy, whatever needs doing around the house) to take a Looksie and give us an Estimate.

So Some Guy showed up while I was at work last week and dropped his card off. I called him back the next day to impress upon him that I Am The Decider, and that he should not act on anything door-related until he hears from me.

Because, see, my Dad thinks I want a front door with windows in it. Little beveled glass windows, he says, to let in the sunshine.


Dad craves sunshine like a cat. He has seasonal affective disorder, or at least that is what he shouts as his train pulls out of the station every spring as he hightails it to New Orleans to whoop it up for a few weeks at Jazz Fest.

Dad and I have a lot in common. The origins of our shared affection for New Orleans, however, are illustrative of some of our differences.

Dad likes Nola because it is considerably friendlier with the equator than Massachusetts is, and because it annually wraps him in a warm, sunny embrace each spring, stuffing him silly with crawfish po-boys and zydeco-dancin' wimmin.

I prefer to think of New Orleans as a place known primarily for its loose reputation as a headquarters for allegedly fictional vampires.

Does someone who still admits to liking Anne Rice sound like someone who likes cute little cut-glass windows in her front doors?

My other fear is that Dad would choose a strictly utilitarian door of the industrial steel core, gun-metal gray variety. Since my front door is also the inside of my living room, I would tend to vote against this sort of aesthetic decision as well.

So I've decided to stand my ground as a conservator of an important architectural landmark. This house is one of the last untouched, unrehabbed, unapologetic Cape Cod cottages, built to last in 1950 by my very own grandfather. It must be preserved, as a proud testimony to the pre-McMansion days of yore.

But you know, I really wouldn't mind a laundry room.

17 June 2006

but nobody ever does anything about it

... and in go the window fans.

It's cursedly hot now, thanks to all the fervent prayers of rain-haters over the last couple of weeks. Is anyone else annoyed by the de rigeur whining about the weather that goes on?

Waaah, it's raining. Everyone hates the rain, right? Wrong. So happens I love the rain and fog and chill. Turns out I am becoming less and less tolerant of the general public's assumption that I feel the same way they do.

Fact is, I don't happen to think everyone else hates the rain, either. They're just sheep, conditioned to think that they do. baaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Now they will complain about the heat, forgetting entirely that they brought it upon themselves, if you believe in the efficacy of prayer, which I do. I think God listens to our prayers, and sometimes the answer is a sharp stick in the eye, if that is what you happen to need at the time.

So I think sometimes we get the weather we deserve, and heat is never the object of my prayers, or at least only more than occasionally in the sense of perhaps a little body heat between two mutually affectionate people, fer christ's sake. Like that's so much to ask for.

But not in this heat. Gah.

Of course, this is nothing -- it's barely broken 85 degrees. People inland are dropping like flies, no doubt. And I do always have the option of jumping into the sweet waters of the mighty Atlantic, should my collar become too damp. But that is an escape hatch that I like to save for the real deal, the serious heat, the shoot-me-now heat wave that comes in August.

That's when I will put on my suit and march down to the seaweedy edge of the water -- after five pm, of course, when all the gatekeeper sorority girls are safely at their keggers and the tourist families are hosing down their salty, sandy children and hoping to god they will pass out from heat exhaustion before the mosquitoes start biting -- at that magical twilight hour when the beach is my own as sure as if it were bleak November, that is when I will walk calmly and resolutely into the waves at high tide and be reminded of why it is good, and right, and proper to sweat.

Because it will eventually end in my happily drenched head and shoulders bobbing slowly above the salty waves of the sea.

Until that late summer day, in go the window fans.

10 June 2006

Undertow, underfoot

My best friend and her wife are coming to visit tonight -- they were supposed to go to the Sox game tonight, but the monsoons are getting in the way of that. So they will be here in time for dinner, instead of at one in the morning as planned, which is good for people who like to eat dinner out with best friends.

Hey! That's me!

Since my house is the size of a hip pocket, they will be bunking in the only available space: the computer room. So I will be unable to fritter away a few days of my still-young life by staring at this screen. We'll be cruising up to Provincetown tomorrow anyway, since they have never seen Provincetown before. Of course they will love it, but since they live in Northampton they might be a little underwhelmed. As in "meh, seen one gay mecca, seen 'em all..."

Which would simply mean that I had failed as a host, that's all that would mean. Provincetown is its own thing, that's for sure, and I intend to show it to them. I also intend to take them swimming at Race Point, which is maybe a little unfair, since even I am a scaredy cat when it comes to dipping my toe in at Race Point. Once I get out past my knees I am convinced I am about to be swept out to Portugal. And, of course, I am right.

I just walked down the street to make sure the street sign at the end of the road is still standing, as it periodically gets knocked over by drunk/confused drivers. It's still there, which means they should have no trouble finding my house.

As I was trucking back on home I spied my favorite springtime treat in the woods at the side of the road, and snapped a snap with my awesome new cell phone that magically takes pictures (and video! I tell you! I'm living in the future!) and I will now share it with you.


More photos will, I am sure, ensue from our adventures in Provincetown. I love showing people Provincetown for the first time. I used to skip school and spend the day in Provincetown all the time in high school, so I feel a little proprietary about it.

Bye-bye computer! I'll miss you!

06 June 2006

cat scratch fever

I came home the other day and scooped up my awesome cat, as is my habit, and after a minute or two of contented purring, he suddenly dug right in and launched himself off my clavicle.

Hooray for bleeding!

So since it is entirely too warm for turtlenecks, I am resigned to flashing my battle wounds at work and at play, as my neckline of choice is v-neck. Oddly enough, a fair number of people have hinted that it was kind of hot.

I'll let you be the judge.

Cat Scratch Fever

Hot or not, is it my lot.

04 June 2006

I had a farm in Africa

Getting dirt out from under one's fingernails is less work than you might imagine, if you have the right tool. My secret weapon is a pot scrubbing brush I bought ages ago for a grill pan. Although I rarely use the grill pan, the brush has thoroughly proven its worth as both pot-cleanser and me-scrubber.

And thank god for it, too, because I appear to have taken up gardening. I am beginning to think that I might be a teensy bit competetive, because I can't seem to take up any new hobby, skill, or acquaintance without hounding it to the ground, beating it senseless with attention, and finally smothering it in my attempt to master it.

So I started gardening for the first time in my life exactly three years ago, and the American Horticultural Society has YET to take notice of my contributions to the field. The establishment is always so slow to embrace new genius.

I began my adventures three years ago with an abounding enthusiasm for heathers, so I now have this corner garden in my sunny yard with several varieties of heather who have yet to live up to their potential. Slackers.

Of course, my enthusiasm for heathers was partly fueled by my understanding that "drought-tolerant" means "you can ignore the watering hose all summer long, don't sweat it, we know you have more important things to do."

Gardening instructions are notoriously difficult to decipher, but some things just come naturally to me. It's a gift.

So today I went out there and, with much meaningful rolling of my eyes and pointed sighing, started taking better care of them. I moved them closer together, planted some new lovelies where mysterious gaping holes had appeared, and then, yes, watered them.

I'll be expecting my certificate of accomplishment in the mail any day now.

There are all sorts of things that my grandmother planted back in the 50s that aren't looking half bad these days, so I took a few snaps for you.

I am also, you see, a master photographer.

(Scroll though the "garden" set for the before and after shots.)

Ella's Rhododendrons