The Eternally Moving Broom

I ran into my friend Emily at one of the Zinc Kings gigs last week, and she asked what exciting projects I’ve been working on at the big house.  I didn’t really have a good answer, in part because of the holidays, and in part because the low hanging fruit has all been picked.  What’s happening now is a lot of mowing, sweeping, setting up and tearing down of holiday decorations, and walking the dog. In other words, the important stuff. I have some projects I’m interested in finishing, others I want to get started, but most of my “house time” is maintenance, or at the very least finishing projects that were “done” a while ago and left a mess.  I guess it’s a philosophical shift into middle age. That may sound like a rather dramatic pronouncement, but I’ve observed a shift in how I do things lately.  In part its due to the fact that I can afford to hire people to work for me, eat out every once in a while, slow down and read a book (and not feel guilty), and I don’t have to bust my butt finding gigs just to keep the lights on.  I think it’s also in part due to the fact that I’m not 20 anymore.  Or 30.  Soon I won’t be 40 anymore. Being “not as young as I used to be” doesn’t really bother me.  I feel good, and while maintenance of a house (or myself) isn’t the most sexy thing, it really fits well with my personality.  I like pushing a broom.  I like weeding the garden.  Changing...

Recaps, Reduxes, and Radials

I haven’t blogged in a while, but it’s not for lack of things to write about.  In fact, I’ve had so many ideas I can barely get started before I lose my thought and get excited about something else. But let me talk about the summer.  And food.  And motorcycles.  Well, since the motorcycle things is so big, let me just talk about that. A while ago, I bought an old (1980) Honda motorcycle.  It didn’t run, but it maybe could run, if I kept at it.  So I kept at it, and with the help of Racing Smith Motorcycles up the street, got it put back together.  Mostly. One afternoon I was out riding, or trying to ride as the case may have been, and I couldn’t get above 30 miles per hour.  Then the speedometer cable came unhooked.  At one point I noticed the brake lights weren’t working either and shouted to the wind, “I have a job, I don’t have to drive JUNK anymore!”  The next morning I went out to the garage and saw a puddle of oil six feet around underneath the old bike.  I decided then and there to go to the dealer and buy something new, reliable, sexy, and running. I bought something called an NC700x by Honda.  It’s a mid-sized motorcycle, practical, efficient, reliable.  It’s the same Honda that makes cars, so when you buy one, you get a Honda. At some point I decided it would be a good idea to ride my new motorcycle up to MI.  To be honest, I decided I was going to do it before I even...
Home is Where the Help Is

Home is Where the Help Is

I’m at my parents’ house for the holidays, and there’s a lot to be thankful for.  There’s a new nephew as of a few days ago, my other nephews are growing like weeds, everyone seems happy and healthy, and there were no fist fights at Christmas dinner. One of the things you learn about coming home as an adult is that your parents are still just figuring it out as they go along, just like you.  Remember not liking Brussels sprouts (yes, with an S like that place in Europe) as a kid?  Well, it turns out my mom still hates them.  And now as an adult, I love them. She was on the phone with a friend of hers who was singing the praises of roasted Brussels sprouts; delicious, semi-sweet, slightly crunchy, and just plain good.  She was on speaker phone, so I was nodding vigorously as her friend talked about how to roast them, but meanwhile my mom just made faces.  Much like my two year old nephew makes. Yesterday while we were sitting in the living room and trading stories, we started talking about cooking.  My mom is the unquestioned boss of her kitchen.  Even if she isn’t the one preparing the meal.  We talked about Brussels sprouts again, and she told me I could make them, but I was in charge.  And I asked if it was like that time I was in charge of making pumpkin pie.  She didn’t remember, but boy I do. I was home from college.  I had moved into my first apartment and learned to prepare my favorite dessert, pumpkin pie.  I...

The Symphony of Sammi and Gertrude

Sammi snores.  Loudly.  Usually when I’m on the phone.  But she’s adorable, so it’s just become part of the fabric that is life at Castle Danchester. Gertrude is still rumbling and rattling the house.  For those not into click links, Gertrude is my boiler.  I’ve installed heat pumps over the last couple years to do the bulk of the heating, but on cold nights, Gertrude wakes up and reminds me of her presence.  I say “wakes up” because it truly feels like some enormous beast is shaking off a long slumber and plodding out to meet the world. Some folks might find that sort of analogy, or that kind of sound, to be discomforting.  But for me, it’s very comforting.  Each year, she wakes up reliably and without fuss, and makes her presence known.  As I get more of the house fixed and opened up, I turn on more radiators, and she lengthens her stride a little bit more. On a night a few weeks back, temperatures plunged, and right on cue Gertrude woke to her job.  Sammi snored contentedly in her crate as the house thumped and hissed, and all was right with the...
A Year of Sammi

A Year of Sammi

Yesterday morning my dog threw up on my sandal-shod foot while I was on a client phone call.  It reminded me that we’ve had an entire year together. I adopted her from Project Pearl, who re-homes dogs through the county animal control.  I recommend adopting a rescue pet.  She was so thrilled to be just about anywhere. Road trips? Check.  Lazing on the rug? Check.  Sitting on the couch when she thinks I’m not paying attention? Check. But she’s really affectionate, only slightly smelly, and TOTALLY ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT FOOD.  And cuddles.   As it happens, she’s also about three years old, so we’ll consider it her birthday.  I’m going to get her some treats and let her run around the lawn. Speaking of lawn, those of you who follow my blog or facebook know that I recently got a new fence. I let her out the back door without a leash for the first time ever, and she did exactly what she always does when she slips her leash: run like hell while looking back at me to make sure I’m chasing.  She made it halfway across the lawn before seeing the fence, stopped completely, and looked back at me like I’d played some terrible prank.  Then she rolled in the grass for a while. Tough life. So dear Sammi, Miss Fedorah Sandwich of Castle Danchester, happy 3rd birthday, happy one year anniversary, and here’s to many more years of looking like no one ever does nice things for...

Fences and Boundaries

Nothing at my house has happened on time.  When I bought the place, my friend Mark helpfully stated, “It will always take twice as long and cost three times as much.”  Because Mark is a dick sometimes, I let it slide. But he’s right. So imagine my shock when the fence company called to say they could start two weeks early.  I immediately said yes.  And after the crew had shown up and was busily drilling fence posts, I recalled a chore I hadn’t gotten around to doing: removing a tree from the fence line. Let me start by saying I’m so glad I hired a crew for the fence.  They brought all the right tools, three guys, lots of cement, and proceeded to tear through the work in impressive time.  They got all the posts in the ground in less than a day. But at five o’clock and the end of my work day, I had to take that tree down.  I wrote last time about being a butthead.  You’d think I would learn my lesson.  But no, buttheads don’t learn their lesson.  They go buy a bow saw instead. In the light of day this scene looks pretty good.  But upon closer inspection you realize that the one tree going diagonal sort of messes up my plans at a fence.  That’s my target.  I had to cut down the diagonal tree without crushing my house, that of my neighbor, her car, or knocking over a fence post.  It’s a skinny tree, but it’s 35 or 40 feet tall, so of course I’m the idiot who decides to do...