Archive | January, 2015

What I think of the Real Estate Market in East Atlanta

31 Jan

As my dad so elegantly puts it,

“Don’t tell me what ‘the market’ says. I tell you what the price is.”

And also

“Buying a house is easy. Selling a house is hard.”

And boy have I learned a lot about that in the last year. I thought moving would be easy, but it’s a racket if you aren’t rich or live in a posh neighborhood. And somehow we live right on the fringe of a posh neighborhood.

Our house is one of the most expensive on the block, because it is really nice, but so many of the houses immediately around us were foreclosed on and flipped right after Dave bought his house. Because David paid “full price” it is much harder to sell for as cheaply as the the competition, even though he’s the one who worked hard during the recession to not cut and run (or get forced out by the banks). He didn’t buy the house 20-30 years ago when the neighborhood was dirt cheap. We’ve been here seven years, and the money and sweat equity we put in to this house doesn’t seem to matter too much, at least yet. We’ve gotten lots of activity but no offers; however, it’s only been about six weeks and a lot of that time was over Christmas and New Years.

I believe that the way realtors get paid is detrimental to everyone who isn’t really rich or about to make a ton of money on a great purchase.

My husband and I don’t dislike our house by any means; this house is beautiful, and we enjoy keeping it up. But with our lifestyle it makes sense to move out to Marietta with the schools (and room to home-school) and land and sprawling split levels. I love in-town living, but I’m ready to move back out to the suburbs. I grew up there. David grew up in Ansley Park, moved to Chattanooga for boarding school, was a Marine in N.C., and then lived at our house. Longest place he’s ever lived. But now he’s terribly excited to move out of the Perimeter. I think one day I could even see myself living in a very rural location, but for now (and maybe forever), East Valley. It is an incredible house that I would love to live in.

I hope this transition is smooth. Current house needs new roof, floors refinished, a new light fixture for the foyer, a fence, and the master bath tile re-glazed and cabinets painted. A cool gray exterior would really make the decks pop! New house needs new flooring in lower levels, new back doors, insulation, garage spring safety cables, railing, shelving, light fixtures, fans, kitchen faucet, bathtubs, re-wallpapering the guest bath to truly bring out the tacky tile, all new appliances… the only part that is perfect is the outside, which is what I am dreaming of! And the extra space of course for my growing family. I think I see a baby kitten in our future… Petra better get ready!

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Our stager wanted me to artfully place plants around the house. Petra, however, eats them.

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The Great Deck Adventure of 2015

29 Jan

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Two weekends ago our wonderful, handy friend Lloyd came over to help Dave build my privacy screen idea. They removed the current posts on the deck (very carefully — hello sawsall!) and put in 7 ft. posts. Then they fit in lattice supports, cut the lattice to the correct size, and slid it in to each slot.

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They finished just before the cold rains of last week, and it looked fabulous.

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Lloyd then recruited Dave to help on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend for the HOMES project (a yearly service project that helps elderly, poor people with home repair), and Walt and I went to brunch at Stone Soup Kitchen while he was gone. A little mother-son date!

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I quickly started adding my decorations AKA hanging lights and railing planters. I filled the latter with pansies.

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I began the final (and overwhelming) touches by painting one panel of lattice. It took about 2-3 hours, and I had to use solid color stain. Using a brush left thick drip marks down the other side of the panel. This got done right before our open house.

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The whole week after the open house was gorgeous, until Friday. It rained all day, of course. I was worried but Saturday was fairly sunny (even though not warm). I had to get down to business on Sunday just so I could finish this thing.

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I was really glad to be able to slide out the lattice panels and paint the posts separately. I had painted the first panel in place and that was a mistake. It was a sunny Sunday to get this work done, thank goodness.

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I realized if I made David buy me this lovely tool (oh no, something that requires directions!), my very huge project would become a very quick project. Thank you, inventor of the paint sprayer. It worked pretty fantastically but it ate through the rest of my paint and I had to finish with the brush. I’m not sure I had the settings correct or if I did it right, but I was in a hurry. And the sprayer-painted sides look much better than the brush sides.

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But it’s done now and it looks grand!!!

My Current Guru Videos

24 Jan

If I’m changing direction, it’s not because my heart is closing off, but that my mind is opening up.

I think this might be my favorite video I’ve ever seen. And I love the music. Watching this makes me very, very happy. I actually cry fairly often when I watch it. Dance is clearly a — the only? — universal language.

 

And this one took me by surprise, but it really spoke to me, both personally and when I consider the world at large. And I like the rest of the album.

“Take Me To Church”
Hozier

My lover’s got humour
She’s the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody’s disapproval
I should’ve worshipped her sooner
If the heavens ever did speak
She’s the last true mouthpiece
Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week

‘We were born sick, ‘ you heard them say it

My Church offers no absolutes
She tells me, ‘Worship in the bedroom.’
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you—

I was born sick,
But I love it
Command me to be well
Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

[Chorus 2x:]
Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

If I’m a pagan of the good times
My lover’s the sunlight
To keep the Goddess on my side
She demands a sacrifice

Drain the whole sea
Get something shiny
Something meaty for the main course
That’s a fine looking high horse
What you got in the stable?
We’ve a lot of starving faithful

That looks tasty
That looks plenty
This is hungry work

[Chorus 2x:]
Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife
Offer me my deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

No Masters or Kings
When the Ritual begins
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin

In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am Human
Only then I am Clean
Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

[Chorus 2x:]
Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

5 ways…

23 Jan

…that being a mother is difficult:

1. The times when I notice how truly selfish I still am

2. Feeling like I have a harder time at this than other moms

3. Wanting to stay up late and almost never getting to sleep in

4. Going in to “brain stem mode” and getting upset with my kid cause he can’t always read my mind

5. The occasional thought that it would be great to purchase a one-way ticket to Europe

…that being a mother is the most awesome, wonderful thing that could have ever happened to me:

1. Being called “mama”

2. When he cries, he’s crying for me

3. When he runs around all happy and independent, I have never been prouder

4. When he falls asleep nursing… or cuddling (now that he’s weaned)

5. Knowing that Walter is the only person alive on this earth who knows (besides me) what it is like to live inside of me

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My angel boy!

I wouldn’t trade any moment of this journey for anything.

Living in a staged house isn’t quite like Arrested Development, but close.

22 Jan

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The house is certainly the prettiest it’s ever looked, but all my books are packed away and most of my crafts placed inconveniently in the back of the guest room closet. There are barely any personal photos to find around the house and the garage is about to burst with “extra” furniture.

I left my sewing machine out but I either have to use my knee or one of my hands to press the foot pedal since it’s on an end table (that used to be Dave’s craft table when he was Walt’s age). I wanted to make some place mats for us to use at the kitchen table (to tie the room together!), and I must say that my little ones were quite helpful.

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Sensing that I needed to accomplish something…

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…Petra pre-warmed my fabric. While there was a sewing needle in it.

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And Walt tried out the pedal for himself.

But yeah, the place mats did turn out great, and I got some chuckles in the process!

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21 Jan

What Would Margaret Mitchell Do?

I went this morning to the Margaret Mitchell House with Katye. I love that at 8 1/2 months pregnant she still wants to hang out and do stuff with me. This was one of the rare mornings that I used Walter’s preschool time for a simple pleasure outing, as opposed to working. I usually work. And clean.

The last time I hung out with someone super pregnant we went for a long walk and she started labor that night!

But this is about Margaret Mitchell, and she didn’t have any babies. Except her “baby”: one of the single best novels written of all time. The part I loved best about Gone with the Wind is not the whole slavery/Civil War thing, but how Scarlett, in a time when women didn’t always act that way, was an independent, smart, ambitious, business-minded girl. I loved her. Marriage, for her, was for helping her take another step up, and children were a nuisance. This was 150 years ago, when women were usually only allowed to want marriage and children. And they owned slaves. It was a long time ago.

Katye and I arrived just in time to explore an interesting art exhibit they had up before taking the guided tour around MM’s apartment. It was very cool and I learned lots more about Margaret Mitchell than I had found out reading her Wikipedia article after I finished GwtW. She was a very creative person and loved telling stories. She incorporated so many aspects of her life into her novel. Combined with the New South stories that her grandparents told her (she reportedly said she didn’t know the South had lost til she was 10, in 1910), the end result sold a million copies in its first 6 months. That’s some good business, both in 1936 and 2015.

MM’s apartment reminded me of the one I lived in on Charles Allen Dr. in 2008, which was also a converted 1920s house. I loved that apartment and every single moment spent there, even when the bathroom ceiling collapsed in on the shower in the middle of the night.

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A period piece in the room where GwtW was born.

Last night I attended my church’s LGBT Group dinner with Jason, my high school BFF who was my bridesman in ’11, and Katye and several other friends were there too. Jason and I very much enjoyed the first speaker, a wonderful transsexual Presbyterian minister, whom we heard when we went to an LGBT dinner in the fall, and I was excited last night to hear Joanna Adams speak. She was the pastor at Morningside when times were tough and there were fewer than 100 members, and our 1920’s sanctuary was falling apart. She turned it all around. I taught preschool at MPP in 2007 while she was there, so I met her a couple times but we didn’t get to know each other. She spoke last night on “Keeping Faith in an Interfaith World,” and it was, at the very least, quite interesting. I find this topic fascinating, as the world swirls around me with its melting pot of beliefs, news, and activity.

I try as hard as I can to find out as much as I can, all while having fun still and relaxing every now and again. There is always so much to do, and it is always a race against time, but I love the challenge. It’s life-breathing.

“It was in a way a comforting idea; if there was all the time in the world,
then the happenings of a given moment became less important.
I could see, perhaps, how one could draw back a little,
seek some respite in the contemplation of an endless Being,
whatever one conceived its nature to be.”

Outlander, Diana Gabaldon

All the Downtown/East Atlanta things I want to do before we move to the suburbs

19 Jan

1. Ride the Ferris Wheel.

I think we’ll save the streetcar ride for when we’re “out-of-towners”. And Walter still hasn’t been on Marta. That boy needs to ride a train soon!

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I’ve been on the one in Paris, I should brave going up this high in Atlanta. I just bought plane tickets to D.C. and I wonder why I continue to do that when I am terrified of flying (deep down). On my bucket list is traveling around the world staying on the ground. Very The Signature of All Things without the moss and the large dresses.

2. Visit the Cyclorama.

It’s moving to the Atlanta History Center soon, yay, but I have not been yet. I’d like to see it in its “original” location near the Zoo. Poor animals in the zoo. My mother has taught me not to support any zoos. And I agree. They are very sad.

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I love anything to do with history, especially if it’s interactive.

3. See a movie at the drive-in.

I can’t believe I’ve lived next to the Starlight 6 Drive-In for years and I’ve never been. We should have capitalized on this before Walter came along. I guess back then when we wanted to stay up we always went out to a bar and played darts. We never really have been a movie theater couple. We’d rather watch Netflix or the Braves (or go to a game!). And anyway I usually go see movies with my bridesman Jason.

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They always play bad movies in the 9pm slots, and 11 is just too late to venture out. Dave went once before my time when they filled the back of Alex’s truck with couches. That would be fun to do again.

4. Patron several East Atlanta restaurants

We need to go to all those little places we’ve never been but always said we wanted to go. Dave hasn’t been to Daddy D’s BBQ. And the little Greek restaurant at the corner of that street that you don’t want to drive down but it’s been there forever, so why not. Stone Soup Kitchen showed me the error of my ways. We’ve been foolishly avoiding the hole-in-the-wall joints in our very cool neighborhood.

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Yum.

5. Visit Oakland Cemetery

I’m finally going to the Margaret Mitchell House next week, but I’ve never seen her grave either. I have seen her alive at The Fox recently, exhumed just for that event, before the 75th anniversary premiere of Gone with the Wind. The cemetery should be a great place for photographs too.

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How have I never been here? I used to break in to this abandoned psychiatric hospital in my neighborhood where I grew up. I wish I had pictures from that. But still, a cemetery is kind of a creepy place to visit — if you have an overactive imagination like I do.

6. The Center for Civil and Human Rights

This is one that I’ll bet I’ll be going to more than once, if it’s any good, which I’ve heard it is, so I’m excited to see it for the first time while I still live close. I just hate going down to that area because parking is so expensive near Centennial Park, and I really can’t stand having to pay for parking. I always make Dave drive to pick up our Vietnamese food at Dua on Broad Street for that very reason.

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The Man.

7. Throw parties at the house

It’s a great house for a party. And it looks so pretty now, it’ll be fun. I’d like to host Georgia Tech folks, Walt’s preschool class and teachers, our neighbors, and more friends. If the weather cooperates we can show off our new porch. I am very close to buying an outdoor heater so only rain would keep us off the deck.

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Wouldn’t that be incredible if this was my backyard?

 

Why I don’t ever have to make lemonade because it’s usually sitting right around the corner.

17 Jan

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I love this photo for many reasons, most of all for the awesome photo bomb by dude in the chair. This photograph was taken by a random but cool Facebook friend of mine who just appeared in this particular restaurant in real life (I’ve only seen him one other time in the five or six years I’ve known him). Also, this is a great group of guys. My husband has known them for forever (since preschool and beyond), and I really appreciate how fun they are to hang out with. A couple extra friends came to brunch and they turned out to be psychologists and graphic designers and UX-ers, and it was very inspiring to talk to them about what I already love to do and would like to pursue career-wise.

Last weekend was really incredible. Following a recent blog post of mine about some of the serious things in life, a lot of people in my life came out of the woodwork to talk to me. And speaking of woodwork, my husband and our friend Lloyd built a beautiful privacy screen on our back porch this past weekend. They finished literally as the rain started, so I haven’t had a chance to stain it yet! I’m glad the sun was out yesterday to dry the wood. It looks extremely magnificent even unfinished though!

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Lloyd and his wife, my dear friend Leslie, also invited us to Morningside’s Couples Group dinner on Friday night where Dave and I were the youngest people by 25 years (except Leslie who is my oldest brother’s age), yet we really enjoyed chatting with everyone there. And they like to play a simple game every January where everyone writes a resolution for his or her spouse, and then everyone else at the party has to guess who it is about. It was silly and fun. I was talking with a wizened photo editor in the kitchen and could hear all the laughter in the background. He was telling me what I should do better re: the Christmas card I designed for our church. The whole night seemed to be about life, purpose, career, and calling, yet in a very fun delivery. Even the prayer about our current world unrest before our delicious pot luck dinner was beautiful.

Fast forward to Sunday brunch with our friends at Stone Soup Kitchen next to Oakland Cemetary, and I feel like the world is showing me my new path. There are constant signs in this world if you simply want to notice them. I personally like to pick out the good signs, the signs that bring me to calm and peace and happiness and art and adventure too. Otherwise the downward spiral is not fun. I’ve seen behind that curtain and try to avoid it as best I can.

Stone Soup Kitchen is by far the best breakfast place I’ve ever eaten at. Every dish looked amazing and I wanted my stomach to be big enough to eat the menu. After our table got all their beautiful looking meals, I got my plate and it looked like it was going to be disappointing. But I was rewarded for my choice by then devouring the best plate of eggs I’ve ever had in my life. Our table was in the hidden back porch and the ambiance was the coolest I’ve enjoyed at an in-town restaurant yet. I want to go back there every weekend until we move to the burbs.

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Magna-tile Love

16 Jan

One of the things I love best about my fellow church members is how family-friendly they are. College friends and other friends you’ve had your whole life can have an expectation of you that you are childless (this might even be a subconscious thing). Sometimes even family can fall into this category. But there is a general air of “we love children” around our church friends, and it’s really a relief. Because a toddler is in-your-face-oh-yeah-it’s-family-time.

We went to brunch last weekend at a church friend’s house and there were people we knew and people we were meeting for the first time. Walt was the oldest kid, but there were babies and pregnant women and even childless comic book friends who loved playing with Walter. After Walt was done devouring all the honeydew he could find, he took his Magna-tiles over to the other room and forced some very nice young gentlemen to play with him. One guy literally became Walt’s play table.

The really hysterical thing about Magna-tiles though is that once someone starts playing with them, they don’t ever want to stop. It doesn’t matter how old you are. They were all looking up how to buy them and how much they cost; one of our other friends was busy putting Magna-tiles on their baby registry!

Walt loves these and Legos so much that I swear I see the Georgia Tech engineer in him already!

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The Benefits of Raspberry Leaf Tea

13 Jan

I love when life gives me signs. At least ones that point out that I’m going in the correct direction!

When my German sister-in-law was here for the holidays, she drank a million cups of tea a day, and said she does that every day (I forgot to ask her if it was just a winter thing). So I started getting in the habit of drinking tea again too because I don’t like caffeine and I always need a warm drink alternative to coffee. I had also been sick with a sore throat so tea with some honey did the trick quite well and was much more tasty than throat-numbing medicines.

My usual favorite tea is Bigelow’s I Love Lemon tea. But after a couple weeks of this I decided to branch out. In my mother’s cupboard was Raspberry Leaf Tea, and I thought that sounded familiar so I decided to brew a cup. It was good, and when I got home I continued making that tea (and drinking it out of the awesome new mug my SIL got me from a Brussels’ Starbucks).

Not but two or three days later I’m reading Outlander and nearing the end of the novel, the heroine meets an old lady who says, “I see you’re not pregnant yet. Drink raspberry leaf tea every day and that will get you knocked up.”

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