Tag Archives: East Atlanta

Today is the Day

3 Mar

A couple weeks ago I spent a very, very cold day moving most of our house into my dad’s bonus room. Well, three very nice gentlemen Stevie, Scott, and TJ did all the heavy lifting. I had a cold too (probably from Stress), and I was totally deceived by Weather.com’s prediction of 50’s weather. It was 30’s out there, with wind, and I was foolishly dressed. But at least the freezing rain held off til everything was moved! I’m pretty sure it was 70° and sunny the next day. Thanks, universe.

It was one of the final steps getting our house on the market for the third time in two years. And this time, we’re not kidding. We’ve worked tirelessly since last summer (intending to stay): fixed up the house, painted, stained, moved, decorated, etc etc etc until now it is stunning. And we finally came to the non-changing conclusion that we have to get out of our mortgage, for better or worse. Even though we will miss our sweet home and the neighborhood immensely.

Eight years of home ownership and two years in the making, we present to you our very beloved in-town home in the amazing East Atlanta neighborhood of Ormewood Park (going live around 5pm today). Click on the photo link to see more:

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We found some real history

1 Oct

I call her my cousin. She is my husband’s cousin on his mother’s stepbrother’s side. But hey, everyone is family if they connect by blood or marriage in the South.

Katye, Fin, Walt, and I took her to the Atlanta History Center to visit the Swan House and the Smith Family Farm. Apparently her Great-Grandfather was wealthy on the East end of town (down by us!), and after we mentioned this to the 1930’s historical interpreter, we found him in the 1933 phone book they have sitting in the Swan House’s phone room! (Any decent mansion of course has a phone room.) It was incredible! All my little history-graduate cells were bursting with excitement at the find!

Mary Kate visits - Chas Shepard 1933

It listed his occupation and his wife’s name, plus his son was listed below them, as a student. It really brought them alive. Unfortunately, they aren’t technically related by blood to Walter, but sometimes marriage is thicker than water too.

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I love that when I suggested the Atlanta History Center as our “tourist” activity for the day, she said “Heck yeah! I love stuff like that!”

Later in the evening she and her husband came over for dinner at our house. We had a blast and chatted until late in the evening. That is one of my favorite parts of marriage: the awesome new family you can acquire. Luckily her husband comes to Atlanta often for business, so the next time she can join him I’m taking her to the Margaret Mitchell House.

Connections

1 Jul

Yesterday was a very interesting day. I met two strangers with whom I had brief conversations, both of which made me feel, at the very least, entertained.

I had to drop my car off at the Nissan dealership to fix the airbag that may or may not kill everyone in the car if I got in to a wreck. Since Walter was at my mom’s, I decided to Uber my way to her house to save her the hassle of picking me up. Enter: Henry.

Henry is a full-time limo driver and Ubers on the side. He usually carries around rich people in his limos, so we talked about the difference between Uber riders and limo riders (well, besides the amount of cash they might have in their pockets). He said rich people are usually more reserved and keep to themselves. We speculated if that might be because they are always thinking about money (haha). But he said the ones who open up talk about the same type of stuff we all go through, but say, for instance, if rich dude’s sprinkler system breaks, he calls his lawn guy. If Henry’s hose breaks, he goes to Lowe’s to get another one.

He said, “We all have the same issues, we just talk about them differently.”

After thinking that that was a pretty profound thing to say, I then said that I didn’t think I would like to be mega rich, because you would never know after that if people only liked you for your money. I said a million dollars would probably do very nicely. We spent the rest of the car ride talking about what we would do with a million dollars. Henry told me he would like to go back to South Korea, a very cool place with really good food. And then he recommended a place on Buford Highway to patron. The restaurant with a red roof right next to QuikTrip off of 285.

I left the car feeling refreshed, to be honest.

I spent the rest of the morning hanging out with my son and mom. This included some castle building and a walk to the playground and a small bridge nearby on a nature trail. Luckily a friend of mine texted me that the Cyclorama was closing its doors that day. I had been putting off and putting off going, even though I had wanted to visit it for a while. I thought I had til the fall before they were closing the doors for their big move to the Atlanta History Center, and I even had a date scheduled with one of my friends to go visit next week. After picking up my car, Walt and I hurried there and went to the second to last showing in their current location.

There was a long line to wait in before we could buy our tickets. The air conditioning was not sufficient to keep the place cool. Because I had never been, when we walked in and saw the big train “Texas” and no giant painting, I asked out loud “Where is the painting?” This gentleman with long sideburns was standing nearby, and he said, “Oh you haven’t been? You can’t just walk up and look at it. It’s a show. You watch a video first, and then they take you to another room for the viewing.”

He then said, “But there are cool things to look at upstairs while you wait. Is your son a Christian?”

Hm, I thought. “I don’t know. He’s only 2,” I said.

“Well, is he a Gentile?” he asked.

“Um, what?” I said.

“Is he a Gentile?” he persisted.

“Oh, um, I don’t know,” I said.

“Well, do you see that cannon right there? You know how they used a cross and thorns and other things to kill Jesus? That’s the same type of cannon they used in the Civil War to kill General Hood. It ripped right through his chest and before he knew it he woke up in heaven,” he told me. Then he said some other things about how he brought his crazy to Atlanta from Macon, and how I couldn’t have possibly known I would run into him today and talk about this kind of stuff. Dave thinks he might have been a KKK recruiter.

Before I said goodbye to him, I said, “Well I don’t really like to label him right now. He’s too little.” And he said, “Yeah, he’s not a little lazy white boy, is he?” before he left and I didn’t see him again for the rest of our visit there. It was one of those encounters in life that I really appreciate because it just goes to show you how many different types of people there are in the world. And some of those people make me feel really lucky that I am who I am, and not them.

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Supposedly we’re not General Johnston’s kin, but maybe he’s some distant cousin we don’t know about.

The Cyclorama visit was interesting. While I hate seeing it leave our neighborhood — especially since the painting shows the 1865 dirt road version of Moreland — the Atlanta History Center is one of my favorite places in Atlanta. They do a beautiful job displaying exhibits and bringing history to life. It seems like the Grant Park Cyclorama gave up after the ’70s. The best part of the video they have you sit through is James Earl Jones’s commanding narration. The upstairs museum was hard to read, the infographics were confusing, and the pictures were falling down. The carpet covering the auditorium seating at the painting was ridiculous. I think they keep the lights dim so you can’t see what you’re actually sitting on.

But, the painting is pretty badass. It’s the largest oil painting in the world. And I’ve certainly never seen a 360° painting before that you experience from the inside. All in all I was glad to bring Walt there to see it before it moved. Now I only hope we put something else awesome in that building.

#LongLiveLove

2 May

The past two weekends I have been grateful to live some extraordinary experiences. Two weekends ago Dave and I were witness to two great friends getting married. Not only are they awesome, creative people, but the bride is Indian, and I got to experience my first Indian wedding. I am totally converted. I am also convinced that if you want a dance party, there better be Indian music playing. It’s better than booze to get people going.

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They had two events at the Howard House, which is right around the corner from us.

Everything about the weekend was extraordinary. Even the rain didn’t slow us down. Friday night was Mehndi night, which is typically when the bride and other female family members get henna on their hands (and feet). However, since it took the bride 7 hours, she had hers done the day before. But any guest could get henna, and it was so much fun. I had mine for about one minute before the groom smudged one of my fingers. I only gave him a little bit of grief about it since it was his big day.

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My father-in-law is convinced it’ll stay forever. I wish!

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I love all the color!

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Best Indian food ever, and at a wedding too! I suspect it’s because the bride and groom are foodies (as well as graphic designers and musicians). You can only imagine the party they threw. The first night was a wedding in itself, and then the real weddings — they had two — were the next day!

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I love that they’ve been friends since they were Walter’s age.

My only regret was not getting a sari to wear. I was colorful enough, but next time I will be all over that. Because there will be more Indian parties in my future.

Walter was, while we were gone, staying at home with our next door neighbor.  She is a kindergarten teacher nearby and really sweet, so I figure it’s almost like paying a tutor too! Walter still tells me, “I have fun with Julie.” I love it.

We got to cuddle in the mornings though.

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Saturday was both the Indian ceremony in the morning, which we did not attend, and the American ceremony in the evening followed by a reception at Piedmont Park. Where, of course, Back Street Boys was blaring in the background across the lake during the very emotional ceremony (yes, I did cry). There was also a little Scottish flair thrown in there as well, and when they spoke their own vows — during a Methodist ceremony — they were actually quite great. The food buffet was amazing, and they had cakes (with the icing on top drawn by the henna artists from the night before) from Murphy’s, where I am going immediately to buy another one because those bites were the closest thing to heaven you can imagine.

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We were seated with Alex’s cousins, near the bride and groom table. We were flattered, and also Alex’s family is really cool. During the ceremony we sat next to Ruby’s cousin Prnay, who danced an ancient Indian dance, during the Mendhi night shindig, that he has spent years studying. When Ruby started crying, so did I! The fathers of the bride and groom also spoke wonderfully at the reception, both with humor and wisdom. It was a weekend full of awesome people, and I loved it.

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#rubyandalex #longlivelove

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?

 

The House, nearing completion.

4 May

We have been chin deep in house projects for the past two months. This is way past knee deep… though I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just funny that after you make your already awesome house perfect you get to… move?

Since we haven’t had any pressure to put the house on the market, this is how things have been going:

When you tell a homeowner to replace the front door handle, the new handle will make the front door look old now too. They will probably want to re-stain the door.

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Worn out door.

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Fresh and wonderful door.

When they re-stain the door, they will notice that the wood rot around the house needs to be fixed as well before it goes on market. The handyman will notice that your gutter is too small, causing the problems, so he will recommend a new gutter. The gutter guys will recommend and your husband will agree that the fancy gutter guards will be worth the expense, so you’ll get those too.

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Helping us paint by keeping the drop cloth warm.

After many more projects outside (painting, washing, staining, planting, fixing, etc.), you will realize things that need to be fixed and updated inside. You want a new light fixture for the kitchen. This light fixture will be great, but then you’ll realize that you to need to repaint the kitchen to match the new light. With the fresh new look, you’ll realize how old and cheap the cabinet knobs look, so you’ll get new ones. When your kitchen looks as great as it does, you’ll want to paint the kitchen table as well (that one is mid-project. So far only one chair is currently black).

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Old kitchen.

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New kitchen.
Not the best picture. But during the day the kitchen looks almost gray to match the living room, then at night it’s this beachy blue color. Love it.

When your husband notes that the pantry could use some painting too, you say, well it’ll be difficult to paint around the pantry shelves. When your husband says he’s going to take those down, you tell him that he’s not going to put the old ones back up. He’s going to have to build shelves since you’ve always disliked the wire ones. And if you’re going to paint and put in custom shelves, you can’t leave the old linoleum. You’ll want to tile the pantry floor too.

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We picked the black one.

And this is why when you give a homeowner a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk to go with it…

House Prep

9 Apr

It is thoroughly exhausting to get your house ready to sell. We keep a clean house and we’re not too cluttered, but when you look at your living space through the eyes of a potential buyer, one project leads to another project leads to another project leads to another project and you get my point. Which is why we planned to list our house weeks ago and now we’re shooting for next week. The to-do list has thankfully grown shorter but there are still a few big projects left to do. Like paint the new door we had to have installed because the old one was was rotting through. But all the trim paint in the house is oil based, which is more difficult to paint than latex, and I’m not looking forward to it. And we have to re-stain both the back deck (which is huge) and the front porch because when you pressure wash the green gunk off a deck it strips the stain and when you go to the store to get the stain you used two years ago and you find they don’t sell it anymore you realize you can’t just touch up but have to redo it all and whew. It’s just too much.

We weren’t even really interested in selling. But I look online occasionally at listings and we saw this house that we both wanted to check out in person and then when we saw it we loved it and we realized we wanted to move. There are two main reasons, even though we do love this house we’re in and we have put a gigantic amount of effort and money into it making it even nicer.

1. I want a backyard to play in with my children. Right now, if we’re outside, I have to be constantly vigilant about where Walter is. If we had a fenced backyard then we could relax and play together without my stress level through the roof that Walter might tumble into the somewhat busy street we live on.

2. We have three gigantic bedrooms. They’re great rooms. But, it would make me a lot happier if we had 4-5 smaller bedrooms. I don’t mind bunking kids together as they grow up, but I think it’s cruel punishment to stick a baby who isn’t sleeping through the night in a room with either myself or Walt (David can sleep through anything). And I work from home and David has his desktop too, so we also need an office.

There is a possibility of creating all this in the house we have now. We could divide the largest upstairs room into two smaller rooms, and we could remove 2/3 of the back deck to make more of a yard and fence in the back and side yards together. However, with a new roof and HVAC units in a couple years, that’s about $30,000 to stay. Plus all the other projects I keep thinking up in my head. Poor David. And to be honest, I want to live a little more simply than that. It’s so easy in this Information Age to spend spend spend on stuff. I would much rather spend money on fabulous vacations.

So we’ll see what happens. Soon enough we’ll list and we’ll see if we get any takers on the house. Our neighborhood is selling in our price range, so keep your fingers crossed for us. And pray that I don’t have a heart attack before I get my to-do list done!

IMG_20140409_213336She is a gorgeous house. And just wait until the perennial garden blooms!

Before you can sleep you must first live

26 Feb

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Last week reminded me of what it is to be human. Don’t get me wrong. I love every day of my life and every minute with Walter. But sometimes it’s nice to feel independent, to remember a time before I was constantly on baby patrol. To actually be interacting with adults. It was great, and it was also utterly exhausting!

Tuesday I grabbed drinks at Argosy in East Atlanta with a friend. I love that place. My favorite new bar.

Wednesday was an impromptu birthday celebration for one of my best friends. It took a million years to get dinner at Benihana’s on Peachtree, but I loved every moment – and glass of wine!

Thursday I went to a poetry reading at Georgia Tech with David. Thomas Lux et al. started the Poetry at Tech series (all free) back in 2002, and it’s a little known Atlanta treat. I, however, hadn’t attended a reading in probably close to 3-4 years. Poetry and I had fallen out of favor, but I’m so glad I sought them out again. The poetry kids and I used to be very close. This particular reading reminded me why I loved it so much. It is enriching to see someone stand up and reveal personal details of their lives, written in a way that is unique to them in a way prose can never be. And there is nothing like watching someone perform; not even reading the same words leaves the same impression. And then of course the after party, with Lux’s rooftop view, sitting around with new and old friends, chatting about whatever, was awesome.

Friday was another last minute invite. David’s oldest friend (David got his first school suspension for biting Alex in preschool. Why David is so proud of that story, I’ll never quite get. Maybe it’s a boy thing. I hope he didn’t pass that on to Walt.) had a pizza party. I thought they were going to be ordering in Papa John’s, but it was delicious homemade pizza with all sorts of fresh toppings. There were many cool people there and more of David’s childhood friends. When Dave first got the invitation, all of a sudden a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cassette tape appeared on our kitchen table. It took me a few days to ask David why it was there. I thought he had ordered it off eBay or something like that. But it was actually vintage, mint condition, cowabunga style music from one of Alex’s birthday pizza parties from a long, long time ago. It was really hilarious watching the boys stand around listening to it at the 2014 party!
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Saturday I was hoping to relax and get some work done, since I was given a big project on Friday that was due Monday, but David came down with a stomach bug, and I worked non-stop all day and night, pretty much, for the rest of the weekend, interspersed with more fun activities. We haven’t even had time to finish House of Cards season 2!

Sometimes being so very busy makes me feel so very alive.

And then it’s time to sleep like the dead!

This Used to be a Forest

22 Feb

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I pass this sign very frequently. It sits on Moreland near a coffee shop I’ve recently started to like to go to. It makes me think about how, indeed, not so long ago, this area was a forest. And how now East Atlanta is a concrete, asphalt, brick, paint, and power line forest.

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Our outside appearances may change. Our technology may change. But really, it is the same as it has ever been. I recently read a biography of Jesus — Zealot by Reza Aslan, whose name reminds me of the lion in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, — and what Jesus was fighting against then we are still trying to change now. The gross inequity between the haves and have-nots. Over-taxation. Religious beliefs. Societal norms. War. Murder. Poverty. And it’s not like Jesus was the first man. This was happening thousands of years before him, as it has continued on for two thousand more. Even as a student of history, it’s hard to think that that many years have passed and yet we are the same breed of person, with the same collective thoughts.

I don’t know why this sign is there. It looks like it’s on private property. Does the person want this land to go back to being a forest? It makes me nostalgic for a all those years I never got to experience. We wanted to progress, and here we are, so far and yet not very far from where we started. And most likely it will, someday, be forest again. When society as we know it is long gone and this sign remains longer than all the other rubble. And when someone in the far distant future finds it, what will they think?

When you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…

20 Jan

I think I laughed harder this weekend than I have since high school. I had actually been wondering if that would ever happen again, or if my extra funny had just left me for good. I’m glad to see it hadn’t.

We were playing Cards Against Humanity. Apples to Apples’ funnier, better friend. I don’t think I’ll ever go back!

This has been a really great week. Last weekend Dave took Walter to his cousin’s baptism in Chattanooga and I stayed at home so that I could moderate my first deacon meeting. I also orchestrated a night out with a couple friends since I had no parental responsibilities. Of course I super cleaned the house all day before so I wouldn’t feel too guilty about it.

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My view as Moderator before the meeting began. I felt so official.

Jen$ and I found this great bar, The Elder Tree, across the street from Argosy in East Atlanta. We wanted to go to Argosy to chat and meet another friend, but the wait was an hour and a half for a table. There was no way we were going to wait for that. Turns out the Elder Tree has pretty good food (and crazy big wings), no smoking, two dart boards, and $3.50 well drinks. I am absolutely going back with Dave asap so we can play some darts. We haven’t played darts since our wedding, and that was almost three years ago. I can’t believe how time flies by.

The deacon meeting went great and I went home to take a nap before the boys got back. It’s amazing how much I miss Walter after just one day of being away, even if I’m happy to “take a break.”

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Silly boy that I love so much!

On Monday Dave and I scouted out the preschool in our neighborhood, and we agreed on the way back to our cars that we want to send Walt there next year. I wish he could start now! He is so interested in other kids and is so good about separating from me now. He cries for one minute, I think just to show me how much he loves me, then has fun with whoever is taking care of him. So far it’s been the best with grandparents, and he is a little worse with church nursery volunteers. So it might take some adjustment, but I’m so excited for this.

The rest of the week we spent enjoying any sunny weather we could find, going to story time at the library, finding new parks with new friends, and making dinners for friends and family. My journey may be busy busy busy right now, but it’s a good one. Lots to look forward to, lots of work and volunteering, and good friends to share life with. I am one lucky woman.

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I can’t wait til he’s old enough to ride this crazy slide!

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A boy and his nature.