Saturday, May 27, 2006

Eeek, The Next Step

We've seen the inside of the house. It's a charming 1950's style layout. The front door opens up into a living room with a fireplace tucked into one corner. Two bedrooms and a very narrow bathroom are to the right of the living room. In the back is a dining area and the kitchen (also very narrow).

At the end of the kitchen is the door to the very large one-car garage. The garage loft could be used to store a lot of things (like the Bromley Horns, the Christmas stuff, the anti-valentines, the Renaissance clothing, the twenty-plus drafts of all the stories I've ever had critiqued, the fake antique gilt angels, etc.) Or it could be a very rustic office space. Or a indoor tree house for Arthur (if we caged it to prevent ten foot falls onto concrete).

If we have any money left after purchasing the house, we'll use it to replace the macroscopic sink in the microscopic bathroom and to install a dishwasher somewhere in the kitchen.

The back yard is small but nice. It's completely fenced in by a five foot tall chain link fence. There's lots of room for us to do things with it. Or not. We'll have to buy a lawn mower.

Almost everyone we've shown pictures of the front to has decided that we should rip out the overgrown bushes. I wouldn't mind sculpting the boxwood into castle crenelations.

The house is located on "College Slopes"; it's within easy walking distance to a park, a used book store, a super market, and other services.

Our friend, Ed the Out-Of-Retirement Contractor, looked at the house and gave it very good marks. The worst thing he could say about it was that the plumbing and electrical were old. But everything else was great. Juel, our realtor, tried to seduce him into part-time jobs; but he managed to resist her advances.

Now we get the house inspected and see if they find deadly wiring problems or ravenous termite infestations. If the house passes inspection, we go forward to closing on the house.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


We're starting a scary ride. Our realtor found us a house we can afford (barely) in a neighborhood we actually like. So now we start the roller coaster ride.

  • We make a bid. This involves offering a little more than the asking price so that...
  • The Seller accepts our bid, and
  • No other potential buyers out bids us.
  • Then we walk through the house (yes, at this point we've only seen the outside) and have two hours to decide
    • the house should be condemned and we'd be crazy to buy it (and we keep looking for a house), or
    • the house is something we like enough to live in.
  • If we like the house, we have it inspected.
    • If the inspector likes the house, we close on the house and owe a lending institution lots and lots of money. And we never buy anything else except beans and oatmeal for the next five years.
    • If the inspector kind of hates the house, we negotiate with the Seller to cover some of the closing costs.
    • If the inspector really hates the house, our housing loan falls through and we start all over (minus the costs of the inspection).
  • We sign our lives (and incomes) away in exchange for house keys, a deed, and an obligation to pay the sewer hookup.

We've done the first three steps, and we're actually first in line to walk though the house. All we know about the house is that it's in a great location; it's 863 square feet; it has two bedrooms and one bathroom; it has an attached garage; and it was built in 1953. More sometime Sunday.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Shopping With The Boys

We've had a long day here visiting with our friends Mark and Dario. Mark and Dario, have a fabulous home near the Capitol Hill area of Seattle. They have a lovely collection of objects de art and pictures that they've tastefully arranged. I am slightly envious and I'll have to take pictures of what they've done to see if I can apply it to our home. I really like the way that they've decorated their second story bathroom; it's very rustic, and it features cute little crow paintings Dario has done.

We've managed to wear out the kid shopping. Luckily, Arthur loves shopping.

We visited an antique store that had a lovely Welsh armoire and lots of old stain glass church windows (the sort that you would hang behind your entry windows). The Armoire was fun, it had a lot of grotesques on it, and clawed feet. I would have used it for jewelry and fun clothes.

Next it was an Asian shop called Distant Lands. They had a lot of fun stuff from China; I really liked a little hare hare stone mastaba they had... I'm not sure where they got it from. The proprietor thought it might have been carved from basalt.

We also visited the Stonington Art Gallery. I'm currently working on a story set in a glass art gallery and I wanted to see how many details I'd gotten right (and which ones I'd missed). The art was fun; I particularly like the works of Susan A. Point. I also like the works of Thomas Stream and thought that his work might be the sort of thing we could hang in the nursery (in a kind of idealized, if we had money to afford a house with a nursery with nice art in it kind of house), but Mark thought his work was like a kind of bland greeting card.

We had lunch in Mark H. and Dario's favorite noodle restaurant. I had a nice chicken noodle soup. I forget what Mark had. Arthur was relatively well behaved. He had rice and avocado. We listened to this one really loud white guy and spoke amongst ourselves about loud Americans. He was probably my age; very opinionated, and slightly racist.

There was one odd moment when a shop keeper managed to scoop Arthur out of Mark's arms. It was probably a good thin that Mark had Arthur and not me because I would have tried to Judo-chop the shop keeper and there's a chance that the shop keeper would have known real live Judo (as opposed to my movie-inspired John-Judo). After a minute Mark mentioned that Arthur had just eaten and so there were no guarantees about Arthur urping up on the shopkeeper.

We also visited a cute little store filled with benches, cafe tables, and sinks. Everything was made out of plate glass or plastic. It was lots of fun; my favorite chair was fashioned like a giant leopard print stiletto-heel shoe. Lots of the glass tables were priced under $150, so we wondered if there was something wrong with them and if they would crack down the middle in a month or three after purchase.

Arthur had his first boat ride today. We took a harbor taxi from the Seattle riverfront (hmmm, OK. Most of Seattle is riverfront) to a bunch of beaches that start with B. I will admit that I was the classic fearful parent and checked out where all the child life jackets were. I also wondered briefly about which exits I would take in the event that the boat flipped over in the water. Is it something about being a parent that makes you imagine a ferry flipping over in perfectly calm and sunny weather and imagining what it would be like to unstrap an infant out of a pram under water?

We saw a little Statue of Liberty that was pretty awful. The Statue had lost the little barbs on her crown, and she looked like she had been modeled off of someone's blonde niece instead of the actual Statue in New York Harbor. And the beaches -- well, I suppose the strips of gravel could be called beaches at a stretch. On the ride back we saw sea lions.

I've made a discovery. It's much easier to read The Quangle Wangle's Hat by Edward Lear with great abandon (and rolling R's) after drinking a Cosmopolitan. I'd never really gotten into the story or the syntax of the poem until after a Cosmo. I think part of the problem is the way that the poem is broken up in the edition of the book we have. Edward Lear (the guy who wrote The Owl and the Pussycat) has a structure that gets hidden in the book illustrated by Louise Voce. I think part of the problem with The Quangle Wangle is that the format of a children's' book breaks the poem down on too fine a level; the structure of the poem is lost in a line-by-line illustration.

If you have a children's book that you'd like to appreciate, here's the recipe for a Cosmopolitan

1 2/3 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz cranberry juice
1/2/ oz fresh lime juice

Of course, now that I've typed this in, I see that I've somehow managed to confuse the instructions in the book (they also list measurements in centiletres) and I've mixed a very strong drink. Ooops. I thought I was a cheap date, but I see it's more a case of I shouldn't be my own bartender.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

These Aren't the Gods You're Looking For


Let's see. On the Arthur front. He's started to sign for things, mostly food. He'll knock his knuckles together, the sign for "more" [food]. He'll bring his index finger and thumb together in a circle for "Ohs" (Cheerios). He made up his own sign, bringing his hand up by his ears and opening and closing his fist for "Stop fooling around with that spoon and give it to me!" He can also wave good-bye. He hasn't learned the sign for cat, yet.

Arthur occasionally wants to feed us. I used to think this was because he wanted to share his food. Now I think it's an excuse for him to get his hands inside our mouths so he can pull on our tongues and teeth.

Last week we gave into our pediatrician and filled a subscription for amoxilian to treat an infected ear Arthur keeps having whenever he's sick. We gave him a dose last Wednesday night and Thursday morning. By Thursday afternoon his back was covered with little tiny red dots. It was like he had chicken pox. "Hey, wait a minute," I thought, and read the little fact sheet the pharmacist gave me with the antibiotic. There, rash was listed as one of the symptoms where you should seek immediate medical attention. Of course it was 4:30PM when I made this discovery. I managed to make an emergency visit with another doctor in our pediatrician's practice (we'd visited her before) and it was off to the other side of town. There's nothing like a child with a rash to focus one's aggressive driving skills.

Of course the City of Eugene responded. There were the two stupid college girls riding their bikes down 13th street -- a really busy street -- with no safety helmets, dragging a dog on a leash behind them as they rode against traffic lights. There were the really slow drivers in the lanes I needed. There was the idiot salesman in a jacked-up truck, obviously lost and spreading his attention between a cell phone and a map. And we mustn't forget the city busses.

With a judicious use of The Force, I managed to get to the doctor's office with about five minutes to spare. In the ten minutes it had taken to get Arthur to the doctor's the rash had spread from his back to his front. It turns out this sort of rash is a reaction to amoxilin, but not an allergic reaction to amoxilin. The rash went away a day later. They really need to make a distinction on those list of symptoms and distinguish between "seek immediate medical attention because this could be a problem" and "seek immediate medical attention because you could die."

Oh yes... during all this driving, I managed to rush out of the house without my wallet, which includes my driver's license. By some miracle, I had the joint credit card in my pocket. I suppose if I had been pulled over I could have explained to the nice officer that (exhibit A) my child did have a rash and (exhibit B) it was caused by an antibiotic prescription. Then I would have said, "These aren't the 'droids you're looking for. I can go about my business."

The weather I hate is here. I hope it goes away. Monday it was in the low nineties. Tuesday (yesterday) and today it's been in the high eighties. I want it to rain and go back to being in the sixties and seventies. I suppose I did have a kind of hiatus, though; there's a gastrointestinal bug going around Eugene (Mark had it first) and the accompanying fever had me feeling cold Monday.

A new god has entered Arthur's pantheon. The Big Red Kitchen Aid Mixer. It came out of its corner when we made a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate mouse filling for Mother's Day. It (the mixer) elicited a look of awe and an "ooh" from Arthur. With all this love of household appliances (and the toilet), maybe Arthur will be a domestic mantis.

And speaking of new gods on Mother's day, my Mom has been telling all her friends that I've returned to regular church service. I'm pretty sure that she's been leaving out that it's a Unitarian Church that has the last half of Doreen Valantie's Charge of the Goddess in its hymnal. Mom (and Mom's friends): I'll be leading a service on Wicca at the Unitarian Church this June 25 -- we'll use the hymnal to chant pagan chants, and we'll be celebrating the first new moon of Summer. Sooner or later, someone will probably want to talk about Asherah and bake cakes for the Queen of Heaven. Don't tell the Pope, he already doesn't approve.

On other fronts -- I've got two stories in the mail. I expect to hear about one around the end of June. I'm not sure when I'll hear about the other one, although it's made at least the first cut. Before everyone got sick I was writing about two hours a night for a while.

I've also discovered a cute little Macintosh Application called Voodoo Pad. It allows you to make your own little Wikipedia on your Macintosh. I intend to use it to make author and subject cards for my library and cross index some of my essays. What I really want is something like the Star Trek holodeck; I'd display pages of a book in a column, and arrange the book columns on a timeline and then put glowing links between references in the books. Then I'd add things like "The Sorcerer of Trois-Frères," a Paleolithic cave drawing that bares only vague resemblance to its original reproduction by Abbé Henri Breuil. Then I'd make all the glowing links to "bad" or "suspect" research red. This would do some bad things to Margaret Murry's God of the Witches and the effect would cascade downwards. At this point, one of my writer friends, Grá, will intrude on my research fantasy to accuse me of shouting, "Hah! Where is your Goddess now?" next.

"Where is Your Goddess Now" will probably be the title of the service at the Unitarian Church once the atheists get organized.