June 7, 2013 | 8:13 pm
June 7, 2013 | 8:13 pm
Things are progressing along on all fronts and, although I have much less of a life that I’d like to have right now, I am not overwhelmed. I am either on the computer, on the phone, in my car to somewhere, or asleep. Fortunately the computer has been providing the chuckle or two.
Prepare yourself for a fascinating time suck — how various phrases and words are pronounced in the United States by region. I’m sure this map would have been much more colorful even 10 years ago — regionalism and local dialects are disappearing by the day. I’d like to point out to Tamar that “waiting on line” is used by a laughably small amount of Americans, so she needs to not bent out of shape when I say “waiting IN line”. IN!
I enjoy how a majority of Americans get a little huffy sounding when asked about mumbledypeg. A little too high and mighty, I’d say. Cmon, haven’t you ever been bored on a Saturday night, with only your knife and your fingers to amuse you?
And: proof that the end is nigh. “You guys” is winning. Yek.
The Boyf Commits a Rare Gaffe
Lamar prides himself on not intentionally making mistakes in his messages. Which is curious, as I don’t understand what the hell he’s trying to say most of the time anyway, proper spelling or no. Anyway, I thought this was CUTE. Joops!
I Took Lessons!
I love the jaunty way Samuel L. Jackson answers the query “Were you always this stupid?” (from Long Kiss Goodnight). That’s right in the zone for me, someone I strive to play onstage in improv — someone who is joyously proud of being a little bit dense.
I Can’t Post the Next One
Since it has to do with work, but a young person with whom I work created a “Ermahgerd” meme graphic from a picture I took at one of our work events and it made me laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. So there.
I hope you have enjoyed your break from furniture blog posts. Because they’re about to come on like cicadas in New Jersey, baby.
May 31, 2013 | 7:30 pm
I’m taking a very brief break from blogging about the stress of packing/moving and/or about furniture (though, trust me, there is a cornucopia of posts lined up about those very
However, since I don’t seem to have a lot of brain juice, I’m stealing a charming and short conversation seen on Facebook between a friend and his mom. The friend in question is an improviser I met briefly at a festival 7 years ago, but our Facebook friendship has blossomed and grown over the years. Enough for me to totally plagiarize his wit and not tell him about it. This exchange also made me realize that my own mother would have loved Facebook!
[names changed to protect ... uh, me?]
Joe’s status: The future is happening right now. Just in time for me to be too old for it.
Joe’s mom: You’re just a young snapper
Joe: Mother, I, your youngest of spawn, am an old man. Therefore, you are now a historical landmark. We will keep you maintained and allow our children to climb on you.
Joe’s mom: They already climb on me and you have let my maintenance lapse! SERIOUSLY LAPSE!!
Joe: SILENCE! HISTORIC LANDMARKS DO NOT TALK!
Joe’s friend: Please do not shout at the landmark.
Becky: you respect that landmark, olson!
Joe’s mom: I’m more of a landslide than a landmark!!! Love you BEST!!
May 19, 2013 | 11:50 am
This weekend is all about hauling massive pieces of furniture to and fro. On Friday, friends picked up the surreally heavy and unwieldy office furniture that has lived in this house like big oak-veneered albatrosses. I warned them that these pieces are heavy (like, can’t even budge them one inch by myself) but they really didn’t get it until they tried to hoist the stupid L-shaped desk and the stinking credenza onto their truck. However, they got it (not ‘er) done and hopefully made some money for a good cause (raising money for friends that lost everything in a fire). I also included boxes of many “treasures” from a house that seems to generate more clutter the more I de-clutter.
Yesterday, I got to move items from one storage space (containing 90% of all my possessions) to a larger storage space in preparation for this summer’s (big fat awful backbreaking) house sale and move. With me was my dear friend E, who probably was just being polite a few months ago when he offered to help with this kind of stuff. You have to be very careful about what you promise to “Ol’ Elephant Memory” Hambox.
The awfulness of this task was contained, thanks in all parts to E, who is very strong, has good grasp of spatial dimensions, and is fun to be around. We had a laugh, thinking about these poor pieces of furniture who thought they were finally going to a real home and to freedom, but were actually just being transferred to another jail. Turns out, furniture of every size has a high-pitched cartoon voice. The lamps were particularly pathetic when, as they were being loaded on a cart for transfer, they gleefully asked if they were “going on a ride now? huh? huh?”
E is related to my dear departed friend Turquoise, who helped me pack my possessions when I last moved, three years ago. Turq, being cut from the same humor cloth as E, labeled almost every box she packed with a drawing, pun, or other random snippet. It was a delight to revisit her singular humor. “This box contains towels — AND DISHES! Careful, fool!”
So it’s not all bad, although I’m bruisey (so pretty) and sore-y and crabby today. I have to muscle a few more pieces then reassemble the now-exploded office. I’m reconciling with the fact that the next few months will be series of explosions of crap, followed by semi-organization. You gotta make a mess to create organization, right? Right? This will end someday, right?
Furniture that was built in a time when people didn’t move homes much. Goodbye, 12-ton credenza.
Goodbye, L-shaped desk of doom. You are bad, bad, for squashing Diego’s finger while being loaded on your truck.
Joe and Diego being superhuman and stylish at the same time.
May 4, 2013 | 5:10 pm
There is a lot, oh so very much a lot to do. I tried to write a condensed list of the tasks that must be accomplished over the next few 3.5 months, but I gulped, got an immediate ulcer, and deleted it.
The only good thing about an epic to-do list is that I can pick from a variety of things to tackle. Feel like painting? Grab a brush and the nearest thing and start slapping on some color!
(very subtle after/before, maybe lattice painting isn’t worth it?)
Feel like driving and lifting? Get some shit into storage! Feel like being on the laptop? Get some of these furniture atrocities photographed and onto Craigslist!
(Goodbye, chintz-plosion. I put it on Craigslist and some youth pastors contacted me; they wanted to use it for a “couch race”. I waived the cost and waved bye bye to another Golden Girls memento.)
The Boyf and I are hitting the backyard hard. A near-decade of neglect doesn’t clean up very quickly (surprise surprise). It’s been sort of nice to uncover still-living plants under the debris. I found a cute little cactus that not only was still alive, but was sporting a little crown of miniscule flowers. However, the Elderly Relative spotted it the next day and threw it away. I could not find it anywhere. This is a thing he does that drives me insane (see: throwing away the Thanksgiving flower arrangements).
The Boyf surprised me the next day with a new cactus. It’s stuff like this that keeps me going.
Long live the little guy.
April 30, 2013 | 11:30 pm
I’ve been reading the archives of Ugly House Photos, a blog of photos from a Phoenix area realtor, featuring “Homes With Clutter, Ugly Décor, and Bad Taste”. I like it because I grew up in Phoenix and it feels like going back in time to my weird 70s childhood. Many, many people in Phoenix moved into their homes decades ago and then did not change a damn thing after. My own beautiful childhood home was bulldozed in 2008 and the horrifying monstrosity that took its place is for sale for 3.5 million dollars.
Back to Ugly House Photos. There’s a section about pool styles of the 1970s era. That triggered a memory.
My brother Paul was (and is) 10 years older than me, so when I was about 6, he was an annoying, exciting, handsome, mildy sadistic, athletic teenager. He and our brother Peter (12 years older) liked to mess with me in a variety of ways. I had no chance. I was tiny and gullible. I freak out to this day when someone makes tickly hands at me.
My chances at revenge were few and far between. One afternoon after school, I was watching TV inside. All our rooms had sliding glass doors that faced the patio. We had a curvy pool, much like the one in the picture above.
Paul was outside. He was very into soccer, and, failing to find a soccer ball, he was kicking around a rubber hamburger squeak toy.
This, as you might imagine, was driving our corgi, Maudie, absolutely bonkers. I looked out towards them, just in time to witness pure magic.
My graceful brother made a horrible misstep. Perhaps Maudie’s insane barking put him off kilter. In one beautiful moment, Paul fell into the pool fully clothed. I still have a mental snapshop of him mid-fall, rubber hamburger in the air, Maudie mid-bark.
I could barely make it out to the patio before I collapsed with laughter while my brother sputtered and muttered “It’s NOT FUNNY.”
Au contraire, mon frere.
April 17, 2013 | 1:34 pm
Malibu: It’s so hard to get away from my flocks and fans. But I have found my solitude.
Beautiful, beautiful solitude.
Nothing to see here, tourists. Let me be.
But here they come. They always find me.
(We apologize to the poor, sleeping duckie. But Tamar and I thought it was just so cute. At the Adamson House in Malibu last weekend.)
April 14, 2013 | 1:18 pm
I’ve been allowing myself to fantasize about being a house owner, even though it may not happen. A popular bedtime ritual the past week has been to go through months and years of “Before and After” posts on Design Sponge, Apartment Therapy and Curbly while mentally designing my fictional living spaces (you can keep up on my shelving-heavy Pinterest board). I get a little glassy-eyed at the endless march of single-chair repaint jobs, but I live vicariously through the people who score some insanely ridiculous deal on a nice mid-century wooden piece which they lovingly and properly restore to its gleaming glory. Better yet, someone finds a battered, painted piece of refuse on the street. They strip it, sand it, polish it, and create magic. Yay!
With absolutely none of this in my mind I stopped by a couple thrift stores in my area last Wednesday, simply to kill some time before a meeting. At Super Thrift I saw it. Pulse quickened as I saw no major damage, some nicks and scratches, and a whole lot of potential.
I took a chance and went home, arranged a van (thanks, Boyf!), and waited until the next morning when everything in the store was 25% off. And that’s how this lady became mine for $37. Here she is at 8:30am, sprung from thrifty purgatory.
Once home and the thrill of the win faded, I took inventory. There may not be major damage, but our friend lived a hard life.
Scratches, paint splatters, worn areas galore. I spent some time wondering exactly how this piece got so thrashed.
Deep gouges into — and past — the veneer. Thank goodness that wicker in the pull-down panel is perfect.
Corroded, dirty, chipped fittings.
These metal leg tips are called ferrules. They’re in bad shape and one’s missing all together. These are surprisingly difficult to find online. Fortunately it looks like World of Tile might be the place to go; I have a pending email to them. Read about World of Tile on Retro Renovation. Amazing.
So yay to the internet for all the how-tos online. So many how-tos. But what path should I take? Strip, sand, veneer repair, veneer replacement? Paint, oil, spackle? Initially, my goal was to get it really pretty, in total varsity shape, then sell it. I’ve done some refinishing, I felt like I could do it if it were worth my time and effort.
I went to the hardware store and, after a false start with a moron, I found a really great employee who gave me lots of her time so we could really talk it out. I brought in the panel with the wicker insert in order to match the stain. After discussing various options, we hit upon a time-effective possible possibility. Howard Restor-a-Finish.
People online call it the “plastic surgery” solution — it’s not going to make anything brand-new again, but it’s going to take a few years off the appearance. It kind of evens the stains out (minimizing scratches), shines stuff up, basically (dur) restores the finish. We tested a little on the panel and I liked what I saw. With a bottle in hand, I headed home.
First I removed all the hardware. Save yourself a big headache and keep all your screws and such and keep track of what goes where.
I wiped down the surfaces with a Murphy’s Oil Soap solution. After it was dry, I used my fingernail to scratch off some of the paint splatters. That was it for the prep.
The Restor-a-Finish (I used Walnut stain) is a stinky substance but dries/disspates quickly. Upon application with a rag, there was pretty instant gratification — minimized were the smaller scratches, worn areas and dings, and the wood looked “fed.” Before (bottom) and after (top):
Before/after with a deep gouge. I was okay with the stain penetrating the hardwood underneath just to darken everything a bit.
The brass cleaned up pretty well. I didn’t do much more than give it a bath in some warm water and soap and did some gentle scrubbing. I gave a coating of oil to everything to arrest the corrosion. You can see the oiled handle at right.
Ah, look at her, all dressed up, the old dear. I don’t think she’s going anywhere just yet.
I feel like this quickie rehab was well worth the time. I looks well-loved now. It will be a great future project for me or someone else to make it perfect and show-piecey, but not now. As Morgan from The Brick House says, “I’m not that interested in making (thrifted furniture) super perfect. I sort of like things to show some of their age, be a bit beat up and therefore less precious when you live with them. Then I don’t feel so bad when I inevitably screw it up even more.”
This project also has compelled me to take a good look at some other full-of-potential pieces in my collection and give them some wood oil and elbow grease love. My imaginary house is looking nice already.
April 11, 2013 | 10:56 am
I think I want to buy a house. I don’t know if I can buy a house, so I’m finding out everything I can about it. I will be post my progress here from time to time.
My time with my Elderly Relative is drawing to a close. If all goes to agreed plan, by this summer he will be elsewhere and my family and I will prepare the house for sale. It’s very hard to write this, and I will talk about it more in depth at another time, in regards to transitioning John and saying goodbye. But for now, I’m talking about my own next steps.
Being a lowly non-profit worker and being from the Bay Area, the notion of being a property owner has always been laughable. A friend and I did some research in the early part of the millenium when I still lived up there and, unless we wanted to live in pure shit or WAY out there, there was no way to buy anything, anywhere, ever, with our salaries. In SF, as it is in New York, it’s all about who you know, what you do, and/or to have access to a lot of resources that normal Joes like me do not have.
Rents here in my area (Ventura County) have gotten high, and therefore one of the perks of being here (low cost of living) is gonzo. I really hate the idea of paying rent again. Dropping four digits monthly to some stupid property manager in some stupid town that doesn’t have rent control ($300 rent hike within one year! It happened!) gives me the heebie jeebies. Let alone landlords who won’t let their tenants have a party (yuk), who require that you keep up their vertical blinds (gag), having to schlep refrigerators* … ugh. I’m mad as hell and can’t take it anymore.
I’ve whined for many years that I want to own a house. I had quietly hoped maybe a windfall would happen at some point, so that I could afford a down payment. No dice. So I’ve stewed at the same time I grudgingly accepted that it just wasn’t going to happen.
Then I got an excellent pep talk by my friend Molly that went along the lines of ”quit your bitching, girlfriend, maybe you can afford a house, have you even tried to find out? Now buy me drinks.” With that, and with the knowledge that a certain amount of money is finally indeed coming my way when this house — which is owned by my siblings, cousins and me — is sold, I am testing the waters.
I arranged to meet with a friend who is a realtor. I bought her coffee and presented a list of my wants, needs, timelines and financial generalities — both about the house we want to sell and what I want in a future home. She in turn gave me an hour of extremely useful information about the current state of the housing market, how one goes about the process (of buying and selling) and a big long glossary of real estate terms (with which I’ll become irritatingly familiar.) I’m super grateful for her help and she’s not stupid — her kindness and efficiency made her our (and my) realtor.
The obvious needed next step is to talk to a financial person — my friend recommends one in particular. This is where I’m really going to find out if my finances make it possible, what kind of loan I can expect, available first-time buyer programs, what I need to do about my remaining bad debt — all the scary money stuff that makes me clammy.
But right now, I’m concentrating on the house to sell. I’m looking at the “comps” (comparable houses in the area and how much they’re selling/sold for), sneaking around open houses, talking to my family.
I do see how stressful the process can be. Most people have to wait to sell a house before they can buy another, and these are two separate and monumentally difficult processes. The housing market is temporarily hot right now (good for the home seller Becky, bad for the home buyer Becky); there are lots of things to be determined and sorted out and family consulted before anything can move forward; I need to work on finding a living situation for the Relative; and there’s the matter of the packing and the cleanout and the sprucing. All this and a full time job. And not to mention: there’s still carpeting in the bathrooms! Except one.
As for my own picket-fence dream. I may have plenty of impulse control issues, but I am a rock-solid realist about this. If it’s too much to reach for, it’s not going to happen. I have no intention of living beyond my means again. I’ll take my tiny windfall and buy shoes. Haha, you-go-girl humor!
That’s it for now! Yikes!
*I don’t have any idea why one must supply one’s own refrigerator in so many rentals here. It’s bizarrely common.
April 1, 2013 | 9:01 pm
Another Monday, come too soon after a horrendous week of taxes, fraud, iPad cracks. I drove down Channel Islands Boulevard to get a few hours of work in at the Giant Franchise coffee shop, the only option in my area to get coffee, wifi — and away from John.
As I came to a stop before turning right into the parking lot, I saw the back end of a horse — of horses?? — crossing the boulevard and heading towards the coffee shop as well.
As you can see, there were three horses, cuties who nibbled on the landscaping before the coffee shop audience began to bring waters and apples, cameras and kids.
The cowboy was inside — and I mean cowboy, the real deal. Compact and leathery, adorned in mustache, hat, vest, chaps, and spurs, he could have stepped right out of 1830. With a soft drawl, I overheard him say he was a long rider from Montana, and that he was on a “journey”.
At the counter, I ordered coffee and a sandwich — then promptly realized I forgot my wallet. As I embarrassedly told the employee I’d have to run home, I heard a quiet voice:
Please let me pay for that, ma’am. It’d be my pleasure.
Blushing furiously, I surprised myself by accepting. The cowboy paid the balance, tipped generously, and moved on.
On my way out, I thanked him again.
You’re welcome, ma’am — it’s my joy.
It’s not often I accept the kindness of a stranger, my cynical self wouldn’t even consider it (and most people don’t offer it), most times. But to be the recipient of the gallantry of a cowboy? Chance of a lifetime.
It was the best day.
March 29, 2013 | 5:06 pm
I am in shock at how many promising blog posts I started, abandoned, then completely forgot about. Deadbeat Dad!
children stubs with your unrealized potential. Here you go, I’m sending your half-formed selves out into the world.
Here’s one titled “just about to kill you hot, that’s how hot” from October of last year.
The past couple days have been excruciating, heat-wise. I am too warm to the touch. My co-worker and I lost the ability to form sentences round about 4pm. Today was a little better, but my elevated temperature (on the heels of a weirdly clammy warm summer) contributed to me being pretty far out of sorts.
From “cleaning house”, August 2012:
Here’s some unintentional mess.
A bracket gave way under a shelf after 12 years of holding up atlases, a dictionary and several tennis trophies. This happened in the middle of the night, much to the dismay of the adrenal systems of both my Elderly Relative and me.
There’s also intentional mess.
My bedroom is out of control. I have been busy and very blue in equal measure and therefore there has been a lot of sleeping, not a lot of cleaning, and a lot of wallowing.
These two messes backed me into a corner, in many ways.
And from “man behind the curtain”, May 2012:
I have, and always had, a profession that is somewhat transparent, if I’m doing it well. Most of the time I can handle being Invisible Lady; I know I do my jobs competently, and I’m lucky to have colleagues that seem to appreciate what I do.
However, every once in a while, glory is gotten, and sometimes I have had something to do with this glory, but I get overlooked, acknowledgment-wise. It is a testament to my getting wiser at the fact I don’t crumble when this happens — I don’t like it, but I don’t let it get blown out of proportion.
Well, I’m only blowing it a little out of proportion. It’s a day like this when all the annoying aspects of the job rear up, and I want to kick things in a petulant and snitty way.
The other annoying aspects are worse. Because of less-than-satisfactory workflow process, I often don’t receive critical information that I need. This is true of several jobs that I do. I don’t like the phrase “being left out of the loop” and I hate being left out of that loop even more.
And because of these less-than-satisfactory processes, my job includes nagging people. What joy.
“trigger” February 2012:
It’s been no secret my neck has been the bane of my existence. You dumb, faulty stalk — why must you be so tense and cricky and spasmy and weird? Often the source of the malady occurs earlier and farther away; a spot near my left shoulder blade seems to activate in a malevolent way, and the pain radiates up, up, into the shoulder and neck. In the past year or so, this line of tension has also touched off migraines during specific times of my hormone cycle.
Just a failing biology experiment. I have been avoiding taking the step into varsity-level drugs, and have been researching other treatments including lymph drainage massage, regular massage, caffeine and hydration treatments, the lovin’ hands of Manfriend, and acupuncture. The latter I have not tried yet, but plan to.
I took a neck and shoulders yoga workshop with my friend Anna, which was great but weird. I almost honest-to-god fainted in the class, which was an odd reaction. I appreciated the various stretches and exercises she showed us, but I didn’t feel anything revolutionary. In fact, my neck was acting up that day and it just kept on spasming.
Until Anna brought out the yoga balls, and introduced us to trigger point therapy. Oh my god. It hurt soooo good.
[Postscript: I tried acupuncture and had a not-good experience. I'm still working on trigger-point therapy and it still works quite well. I bought a book about trigger point and headaches/migraines and I feel quite hopeful.]