Thursday, March 29, 2007

Come, Sit

I finally found a dining table for my hard-to-fit space, after thinking of little else for the last three and a half weeks (and eating all my meals sideways at the kitchen counter that is not a breakfast bar, my legs crossed at the knees). I'll be driving to Manhattan in a week or two to pick it up. It's an expandable table made from recycled barnwood by a furniture maker in Pennsylvania, and it's being custom-made to my size specifications -- all for a really reasonable price. I found out about it in New York magazine; in fact, the table style is called the New Yorker, as it's designed for cramped New York City apartments. At 25 by 48 inches, it will fit neatly against a wall in my living room; with the leaves on either end extended, it will expand to 25 by 72, allowing me to host dinners and brunches for six -- the requirements that made it so hard to find the perfect table.

I think I found the perfect table.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Is Not a Plastic Surgeon

I love the quote below from, of all people, Jane Seymour in New York magazine. I say "of all people" because the 56-year-old former Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, isn't an actress I've particularly followed or for whom I have strong feelings one way or another. But the epidemic of facelifts in Hollywood is something I've quietly fumed about for years. Given Americans' reverence for, even obsession with, celebrity -- which has rapidly accelerated in my adulthood -- this very public (but rarely fessed-up-to) representation of a fear of aging fuels the same among noncelebrities. Indeed, I think it goes even further than that by sending the message that old people are ugly.

Leaving aside the destructive effects on younger people's development and self-esteem as they move forward in life and look toward the future, imagine what this unspoken message must feel like to older citizens -- our parents and grandparents -- whom we should care for and honor in what for some of them can be the loneliest and most loss-filled time of their lives.

Growing old is a part of life. It will happen to every one of us. You don't have to like it -- I don't -- but the best way to go into it, in my opinion, is to take care of yourself and to look as good and be as healthy as you can be for your age. There's nothing wrong with trying to look attractive! But whatever age you are has the potential for beauty and dignity all on its own.

Here's the quote from Seymour:

"I'm sure I'll be playing grannies very soon. I'm the only person apart from Helen Mirren and Judi Dench* who hasn't had face-lifts. And I doubt I will. I love acting, and I just think that if I start looking like someone other than myself, that would be defeating the purpose. Can't you always tell?** It's the newsreaders who get me now, you know, when they're talking about some terrible tragedy in the world and nothing is moving. They can't even feign concern."
* I think these are two of the most beautiful women in film.
** Yes, you can!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Dog, a Blanket, and Two Feet (and One and a Third Unscraped Windows*)

Me and Patsy tonight as I read student papers. If I'm not teaching these nights, I'm reading papers, as I've taken on a double load this quarter to earn extra money. Hence my slow progress on getting settled. (See not-fully-unpacked box above dog's head.)

I did take a quick trip out to Pier One tonight, only to find that it had closed at 8, not 9. Surely Crate and Barrel would still be open. Have to grab every snatch of time I have! Closed too.

Washington -- Goddammit!" I actually said aloud. Why does everything here close so early?

I've been spending most of my time in the bedroom and kitchen of the new place because I've been flummoxed by unresolved curtain-hanging issues in the living room -- so no privacy there yet. In the bedroom, although I plan to have wooden blinds installed, there is a privacy wall on the patio outside these windows, preventing all but peeping Toms in hovercraft from seeing inside.

You can catch a glimpse of the Light Daffodil walls.
* This mess is from the substandard paint job done before I moved in. I have painted the walls but have not yet gotten to the windows.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Receiving Line

Wrapped in newspaper in one of my still-unpacked boxes is a framed print of a Barry Lopez quote from his book Crow and Weasel, which I had hanging over my desk in my old place and plan to hang over my desk in my new place as well:

"The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other's memory."

I think some blogs I read serve this purpose -- the giving away and the receiving.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Mundane Stuff: My Resurrection

The dogs came to the new place today, a day earlier than I'd been expecting. When I found out, that forced me to get the place in more livable shape than it had been for almost two weeks. At least the pieces of furniture they care about most -- bed, sofa, armchair -- are set up and made, slipcovered, or draped with the textures and smells they're used to. They were very curious, of course, when I brought them in. Were they confused? Who knows? Perhaps they think we've gone on vacation or something! By their third walk of the day with me, they already seemed to know what doorway to stop at.

I found a cool galvanized metal shelf for my kitchen at Ikea today. There's still so much work to be done on the kitchen. I'm going to paint the cabinets a cheerful color, and the walls a subtler one; I have done neither yet. I'm also going to buy some wall rails and shelves for pots and utensils, but for now I just got this shelf to help supplement the limited counter space. I like combining industrial and homey, new and old. The DSL filter dangling from the phone jack would be an example of the "new."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I saw the first pink buds this morning at 21st and M streets, and on a tree across the street a breath of green.

As of yesterday, I have a working oven. I realized that that's one of the biggest reasons I've felt so untethered during this home transition. I haven't baked anything yet, but it's good to know I can . . . if I ever have the time.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Home on the Range

Lest all of my readers give up on me completely . . . I'm here. I moved into my new home on Sunday.

I stand in the kitchen typing on my laptop, which is perched on the box containing the range, which hasn't been installed because the vent hood hasn't arrived yet, and the phone jack on the kitchen wall is the only one I can use since the jack in the bedroom was painted over (and I mean the jack itself, not just the cover plate), just as almost everything in the entire place was painted over in the slapdash presale paint job inflicted upon it, which is what I've spent most of the last two weeks remedying when I wasn't packing or teaching or working or shoveling snow or hanging on hold with Verizon.

It feels good to be here. It's a complete mess. I'm exhausted. Last night I used an ice-cream scoop to eat my first meal of microwaved Stouffer's macaroni and cheese with broccoli because I'd left my utensils at the old apartment, which I still haven't finished cleaning and clearing out.

But there's one thing I know: For the first time ever, my home is as permanent as I want it to be.