Friday, February 28, 2014

The Things We Fight About While Building Our Dream Life

I was just telling a friend my favorite Fight-With-Mr.-W story last week and I realized I don't think I've ever told it here. It happened sometime last year. I think maybe the weekend that we "moved in" to the house the first time with our temporary furniture. My parents were coming to help us for the weekend and I wanted to get the guest room all set up for them.

Mr. W wanted to treat the floors with a wood conditioner first.

I said no, that it didn't need to be done—we should just put the furniture in and do it later. He insisted it was important. We went back and forth until finally Mr. W spewed an f-bomb and I knew it was time to give in.

It's so rare that Mr. W ever curses like that. And I kind of love that he did it over floor polish.

Much to my dismay, he was totally right, too. The floors looked spectacular when he was done with them.

Another one of our finer moments likely came from the ongoing wear on our nerves from being apart, juggling too much, and probably not being naked in a bed together often enough (thanks to living in separate cities). It involved a trip to Santa Barbara to run errands that I believed should be completed in a particular order.

When Mr. W disagreed, things got heated and spiraled into a silent treatment shopping trip through Trader Joe's. Honestly, I think it was one of our worst fights. And all about whether groceries should be purchased before or after the bachelorette party gift I had to buy...

Our most recent tiff was over the driveway. I hate our driveway. When I go on walks around the neighborhood, I pine for my neighbors' concrete and gravel drives. I think one of the 10 home ownership commandments is, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's driveway," but I can't help myself. So I sketched out a design of how I would like the front and backyard landscaping, and how I thought we could redo the driveway more affordably.

When I presented my brilliant idea to Mr. W, I expected him to compliment me on my determination and design skills. But instead he told me we couldn't dig up the driveway. I reminded him I hated it and he replied with a couple of expletives and an explanation about how we were already spending a lot of money to renovate the house.

Naturally, when we went to bed that night, I slept waaay over on my side of the mattress to communicate to him that I didn't like his tone.

We don't always follow the "Don't go to bed angry" rule, but we do always make up in the morning. It's hard to stay mad at a cute face (I'm not sure he would stay the same). And I've come to realize I like our fights. Because they're completely silly.

I would much rather be yelling at each other over floor polish than infidelity or addiction or financial irresponsibility.

I will gladly take our tiffs over dumb stuff. Which is good because I'm sure there will be many, many more to come.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sleeping Buds Are Wide Awake Over Here

While many of my Midwestern and East Coast friends have been freezing their tooshies off, buried in ice and snow (hi, Nilsa) I've been basking in warm sun, trying to keep my plants somewhat hydrated during California's worst drought in decades. Although I did get buried in an avalanche of ad copywriting work this week, so I can relate to the feeling of being trapped in your house by a terrifying vortex...

The strange and sad byproduct of our drought and ridiculously high temps is that most of the trees around town think it's time to wake up and start celebrating spring. I first noticed bursting blooms several weeks ago—the trees in town were completely covered. It's a really strange sight to see so early in the year, and made me worry about the state of everything come summer and fall. I'm sure our fire danger will be pretty darn high this year.

But even though it seems wrong for so many flowers to be stretching their arms and opening their sleepy eyes, it sure is getting pretty around the yard...

I think this is a peach tree. We'll probably find out sooner than later...

I thought this was an apple tree but I'm not sure whether apple trees flower in the spring. Clearly, I have a long way to go before I can call myself a real farmer.
These girls have popped up two years in a row—cute little volunteers. I had to look them up because I didn't know what they were. Spring snowflakes. Adorable.
In December, we got hit by a pretty bad frost that wiped out all new growth on the Meyer lemon tree. It's just starting to recover and I couldn't be more excited. Mr. W and I have been drinking warm lemon water every morning as part of our new 2014 routine.
The bees are pretty psyched to have so many flowers on the rosemary bush.
I had to get a new camera in the fall (the other got cupcake icing in it during the move...) and for the life of me I can't get the macro feature to focus. Anyway, the lavender has begun to bloom along with all the others and I hope it comes in strong so I can make relaxing sachets with it later in the year.
The calla lilies are lookin' good and kind of making me anxious for Easter.
The roses still look a little haggard from the frost, but they're working hard to detract attention from all the weeds speckling the front yard.
In spite of the drought and untimely spring activity, the Buddha is still smiling. “Three things cannot be long hidden," he says, "the sun, the moon, and the truth.”

Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrating Fifty

You may have heard that this week marked the fifty-year anniversary of the Beatles performing on The Ed Sullivan Show. It changed the world.

But something else happened fifty years ago today that changed my world: my parents were married.

They met when my mom was fifteen and my dad was eighteen. He was working as a box boy at the local grocery store and she caught his eye with her blonde hair and ridiculously tiny waist. They dated all through her high school years, and six months after her graduation, they tied the knot. On Valentine's Day, naturally.

Fifty years is an eternity.

I can't even wrap my head around what it would (and will) feel like to be married to someone for that long.

I don't have any memories of my parents ever fighting. Apparently my sister remembers it happening, but they were babies when they had her—just 20 and 23 years old. By the time they had their accidental third child (that's me) they were 30 and 33. They must have grown out of their childish fighting days.

Mostly what I saw of their relationship was laughing, teasing, and spending time together—whether that meant a Friday night dinner with friends or a Sunday morning in the garden pulling weeds. They were always good at doing their own thing, but definitely seemed to genuinely enjoy being in each other's company.

Nowadays they spend much of their time camping in their RV, taking weekend trips throughout California, and going on the occasional cruise. They're treating the entire family to an Alaskan cruise this summer to celebrate their anniversary.

They still really seem to enjoy one another's company.

It's probably the thing I like most about their relationship—that they're old friends.

I'd like to think that Mr. W and I are following in their footsteps. He's a lot like my dad, which I love, and I do share a trait or two with my mom. So we may indeed be perfect for each other.

I can only hope our relationship will be as solid, enduring, and fun as theirs has been. And that we, too, will reach our golden wedding anniversary. 

Happy 50th, Mom and Dad! Thanks for doing it right.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Small Steps and Giant Leaps

Wearing a Snuggie® as a robe with fleece sweats, wool socks, and Ugg boots
on one of the nights I was without heat in the house.

I considered titling this post "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back" because, although it feels like we're making strides in a number of areas around the house, there seems to be a balancing phenomenon at work that keeps pulling progress back a tick every time we get something done.

I've joked several times that living here has been a bit like camping for months and months. I grew up camping in an RV, which is a far cry from backpacking and tent camping, but still requires a lot of concessions. Water must be used sparingly, laundry is handled in a bucket, warmth is still primarily achieved via campfire, and cooking isn't quite as easy as it is in a home kitchen. It's not at all an unbearable way to live, but you wouldn't want to live like that forever.

Thankfully, we surpassed the laundry-in-the-bathtub phase in October, and were able to stop using the laundry drying rack in December. Being able to wash skeezy socks and dirty workout clothes at my leisure has been almost as exciting as being old enough to drive or buy alcohol. Except I think my taste in laundry detergent might be better than my taste in alcohol was at 21...  

Another hugely thrilling step out of campingdom took place this week when we had central heat and air installed. Prior to this, we were trying to keep the house warm using radiant heat in the ceiling. Whoever the brainiack was who invented that heating method should be bopped on the head repeatedly with a Nerf baseball bat. Hot air rises, so when you put the heating mechanism in the ceiling, all the warmth just kind of hangs out up there, above the inhabitants of the house. Brillzyant. I can't tell you how many times I've filled a 5 gallon bucket with kindling and schlepped wood in the house to make fires at night.

When the new HVAC system was going in this week, I had no heat at all for two nights. So the fireplace quickly became my BFF.

Once the installation team kicked on the furnace for the first time Friday, it was like the entire house transformed into a cozy, inviting, evenly warmed haven. Our Pinocchio house became a real boy. It is truly astounding what a difference it makes. And Mr. W bought a nest thermostat, which I'm fairly certain was invented on The Jetsons.

Amidst all the glory of the new gas line-fueled appliance bonanza, however, have been a few plumbing issues that make living here continue to feel like a prolonged weekend in my parents' motorhome. Our kitchen sink has been backing up, so there have been more than a few nights where dishes are done using as little water as possible (which is probably really good practice anyway considering the terrible drought we're having). I'm hoping this backward step turns around this week when we finally have a plumber out to poke around in the pipes.

The other plumbing issue is in the rockin' pink bathtub in the seahorse bathroom. The little tub pluggy thingee (technical term) somehow kind of broke off inside the pipe, so the tub takes about 20 minutes to drain after a shower. Super fun to stand ankle-high in shampooy body funk-filled water. I could move to the other functioning shower in the house, but I'm too lazy to walk that far down the hallway.

But that bathroom is the first room on our renovation list, so come April (or May, depending on how motivated we feel) she'll be getting a complete overhaul and her tub will be fixed. We made our first purchase for her makeover today at Costco. They had really nice, painfully inexpensive floor tile there. Total score.

For now the new tile shall serve as a side table for books and
magazines that anyone chooses to read whilst relaxing on the toilet.

This is what the tile looks like—sort of a faux wood grain with
nice greys and beiges woven into it.

We're hoping to go for a look kinda like this when we renovate:

After Costco, we also made some more headway on the chicken coop/greenhouse, but that's a post for another time. Hopefully there won't be too many steps backward as we continue making leaps on that endeavor.

On another totally unrelated note, one of my favorite blogger/writer/artist/former ad copywriter friends, Mrs. Janice MacLeod-Lik, just published a really wonderful book about how she quit her soul-sucking job in LA to go live a life of love and artistry in Paris. I just received it from Amazon and I'm captivated—even though I've been following her story all along on her blog. Do yourself a favor and go buy the book. It'll charm the pants off of you.