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Bryan has parents, and they are wonderful.  If it weren’t for their wonderful-ness, I would be perfectly ok with sticking them in the third floor in a blah-looking, not-yet-touched bedroom if they ever came to visit.  However, the aforementioned wonderful-ness as well as the fact that they will be here in a week has spurred me to go into a panic over not having the second floor guest bedroom finished.  Hell, until I found out they were visiting, it was a guest bedroom I hadn’t even started on!

If the previous owners were to ever knock on the doors of this house to say hi, I would punch them in the face.  I’m not a violent person, and I understand that the previous owners might very well be in their 80’s.  No difference.  Nothing in this world makes me madder than peeling wallpaper…  except for peeling a dozen or so layers of wallpaper that is not only on the walls, but on the ceilings as well.

Don’t get me wrong- when done correctly (read: when there is only one layer of wallpaper on any wall at one time, when wallpaper stays on walls and not on ceilings), wallpaper can be awesome.  But friends, I’ve spent most of the last week or so with a 3-gallon bug-sprayer full of warm water on a 10-foot ladder with a scraper in hand hosing down 100 or so years of really bad taste.  7- yes, 7- contractor bags full of old wallpaper scrapings later, the holes (because there are plenty of them) have been patched, the woodwork has been washed down, and all I have to do is paint for Mom and Dad Bryan to have something of a comfy, hotel-esque room to stay in while they’re here for their visit.

I feel as if we have come so so far (the study, dining, foyer, kitchen and master suite- less the last entry- have been finished) but every day is a constant struggle to get one more wall sanded, one more floor stripped, and for God sakes, we have to paint the whole house!!

I’m not losing faith that we’ll ever finish.  Much to the contrary, I feel like we’re so close to being done I can taste it!  Its just that there are times I worry that crazy, totally unpredictable things will happen- a wall will collapse, a swarm of Yellow Jackets will invade the house, a gooey, pink portal to another dimension will open inside of a bedroom closet, a la Poltergeist.  All totally irrational and all that can be fixed in a decent amount of time (less the Poltergeist reference), but a lingering worry none the less.

Soon, I know it will be October and I will be just as panicked that my dining room curtains aren’t finished before my best girlfriend’s baby shower, or it will be the day after Thanksgiving and I’ll be slightly insane that I have no way to attach Christmas garlands to the extraordinary amount of fireplaces in here.  Nothing serious, but my chest tightens on all counts regardless.

Ever forward, friends.  We’ve made so (so) much progress.  Every week of hard work rewards a new room, a freshly painted hallway, newly built bookshelves.  What was a really dumpy house is starting to look and feel like a really lovely home…  and that feels amazing.

Afterthought:  Bryan, my mom and dad and I busted tail on the guest room.  Aside from curtains, it was finished when his parents arrived for their visit 🙂

Its undeniable that women, in general, change their mind  A LOT.  I am no exception.  I finished my master suite exactly one month ago.  I decided that it needed re-decorating about two days ago.  Since then, I’ve been figuring out exactly how to make peacock blue walls work with bedding that won’ t show puppy paws.

That’s what started all of this, you see.  Bryan and I have two sons- they have 4 feet each.  One is cute as can be and is always plotting some crazy way of either escaping the house or stealing anything to do with pork fat.  The other?  Speaks English in Dog and is smarter than most people I know.  They’re amazing dogs, they really are.  They just don’t wear shoes.  That’s my problem.

I would rather hang myself than not be able to sleep with these two (three, if you count Bryan) at night.  They’re fuzzy, they’re snuggly, and they keep me warm.  I think I just had a lapse in judgment when I decided to paint our master suite ivory and cover our new bed in white linens.  I’m an idiot.  The dog’s paw prints are everywhere.  The bed now looks more gray because of the construction dust that’s in every corner of the house, and on the boys paws,  and the more I wake up in a bright room, the more I want to wake up in a darker room.  Hence, I’m redecorating what I’ve just decorated.

This change of colors, of course, led to me wanting to cover up the ivory in the rest of the house.  I’ve brainwashed myself into not only thinking that this color doesn’t work in the bedroom, but that it doesn’t work anywhere…  And its everywhere.  I have ivory walls in the kitchen, the library, and in the stairwell to cover, on top of squeezing it in my budget to totally make over the master suite.

I guess its the drama of having your own home, being a little too critical of any style and falling in love with a peacock blue paint (Lowe’s Valspar Filoli Garden Pool, if you’re wondering).  It’s a lot to do all at once, but my biggest mantra during this whole renovation thing?  Keep moving forward.  I’ll keep you posted.

I’ve always said that we had a wonderful neighborhood…  Sweet smelling gardens, free Shakespeare on the summer weekends, a world-famous art show literally in the front yard.  I’ve got an amazing set of very eclectic next-door neighbors…  On one side, a Southern Baptist preacher and his attorney wife, on the other, a set of murderers who’ve had a body buried in the basement for the last 7 months.

I’ll admit its not exactly the type of neighborly combo that I’ve dreamed of.  Don’t get me wrong, the Reverend and his family are amazing- they’re the kind of folks who always have 3 seconds to say hi before entering the house after a long work day, and never forget to take a moment to pray for my family and I before they leave our home, but the guys one house South…  that’s another story.

Without going into detail (the newspapers and stations have already done that), I’ll say this:  after a fight between the boyfriends next door, one was arrested, then confessed to the police that the two of them, in November, killed a man they were involved with and buried him beneath their basement floorboards.  It sounds a bit too Tell-tale Heart, I know, but its the truth.   A body was discovered in a Tupperware tub, removed in the middle of the night, and shortly thereafter, the entire community was swarmed with news teams, Crime Scene units and at least ten thousand lookie-loos.

Bryan, God bless him, has done all he can do to make me calm down.  Its not every day that you realize you live next door to a couple folks with dead guys shot and stabbed and stuffed into a waterproof storage bucket, and the shock of it has gotten me a little panicked to say the least.  According to Bryan, it could be worse- its not as if they were serial killers, they’ve only murdered once.  Only murdered once!!  And since they’ll be gone away for quite sometime, we don’t have to worry about spending money on curtains for that side of the house.  And what are the chances that there are more than one set of killers on the same block?  He’s so good at the positivity when he absolutely needs to be.

Friends, I’m still in so much shock right now, I’m not sure of what else to write.  At least one of these men was a decent acquaintance of mine.  He has let the cable guy in for me before, and has been in my home!  I’m losing confidence in my amazing home and my amazing neighborhood, because of the really really bad decisions of two young men.  My heart goes out to them, and I can’t begin to express the sympathies I begin for the family and friends of the young man who lost his life.

Do unto others, friends.  And keep your doors locked.

The good news is I’ve figured out how to make my WordPress blog pretty!  The even greater news is that I will soon have photos of the house, as well as Bryan and myself, to decorate with!

The photos should be up within a week or so, and as soon as you see them, I just know you’ll be asking, “Who took these wonderful shots??  And what sort of photoshop genius are they to make the house look pretty and make you both look like you haven’t been swimming through second-floor floods and battling bats?”  Her name is Emily Rose Pearman and she- aside from being a dear friend I’ve known for close to 10 years now- is a freaking amazing photographer.  I haven’t even had a peek at the shots from our house shoot, but even still, I’ll always point you in her direction.  You can find her amazing work here.

New posts coming soon!!

Love, J&B

I sleep with earplugs in.  Correction- I go to sleep with earplugs in.  Bryan is more of the stay up late and catch up on Dr. Who kind of guy and I’m more of the hand me my eye cream and sleep mask or I’ll wake up looking like Dr. Zhivago kind of girl.  I really don’t mind- my pre-sleep meditation is much easier when I can’t hear or see a thing and that same meditation usually puts me right to sleep until the alarm goes off at 6-something in the morning.  You can imagine my mid-slumber surprise, then, when I wake at 3am to the sound of Bryan screaming out “Oh Shit!!!”

Bryan is not a screaming man.  At a tiger, a boa-constrictor, a ninja, whatever, he still is the calm, bad-ass dude he always is.  I can imagine that only one of two things have happened- either a huge, crazed escaped con jumped out of a hole in the wall and surprised him, or he had a nightmare.

Or…  there is a bat in the house.  I pull on my robe, slip into houseshoes and pad out into the 3rd floor living room, eyes still shut and yawn in my voice.  Before I can get out a sleepy, “What is it, baby?”  he delivers a “Watch out!”  and a black, velvety, fluttery demonoid of a bat flaps right past my face.  I thought I heard it laughing as it turned the corner and began circling the guest room.

There are only a few thoughts that come to mind when you awake to a new roommate that has wings.  One, how the hell did a bat get in here? and two, HOLY F*** THERE’S A BAT IN HERE!!!

Still half asleep, and knowing that the one thing Bryan is afraid of in this world is a bat (I’ll leave all of the Bruce Wayne similarities out of the story, for time’s sake), and being a girl that was raised in the boonies, I began weaving a plan of bat- catching.  We would grab a blanket, open a window and herd the blustery little critter out into the night where it could continue eating all of the pesky little mosquitoes that I’m sure are so very tasty.  I’ve forgotten in my idea-having, that my ceilings are 11 feet tall.  Sue me.  I was just woken up to the big guy screaming.  I was a little flustered.

Every time I would blanket-chase the little flappy guy towards a window, he would change direction, laugh at me and simply fly over the blanket towards whatever room was behind me.  Bryan would then close the window he just opened- because an open one would just let in all of his bat buddies- and run ahead of said winged rodent to open a different window… and the process would repeat itself, the bat laughing at us included.

This went on for damn near an hour!

Finally, my arms tired of holding a blanket in front of me, and beginning to wonder why I hadn’t just grabbed Bryan’s baseball bat and Babe Ruth-ed the little fart out of the park, the bat landed on our exposed brick wall, crawled (yes, crawled..  you don’t think bats are really creepy until they crawl up your accent wall) up to a tiny hole leading to the attic, snickered one last time, and wriggled his way through the hole into the attic.

We stood, stunned, for about thirty seconds.  And then, I think it dawned on us just how many freaking holes that lead to the attic are in this house.  Again, for time’s sake, I won’t count them, but lets say that between the giant one behind the toilet, the one behind the tv, the one he crawled through, the entire ceiling missing in the utility room, there were plenty of places the little booger could return from.  So, we did what any normal couple would do.

We ran into the bedroom, wedged a towel under the door and went to sleep…  and called our handyman the next day to plug all the holes… or so we thought.

Three days later, as Bryan sat in the foyer and waited for our cable guy and my parents to arrive, he heard a distinct flapping sound.  Looking up, he saw hovering at the top of a missing wall- that led to the attic- a winged critter.  He ran out the front door.  Realizing that he was running from something smaller than his fist, and that he had left his bag inside (by the missing wall where flutter-butt was flapping), he decided to man-up and go back in to face the thing.  He re-entered as it was clearing the floor and heading down to the basement.  And my dad walked in.

My dad is one of those guys that isn’t afraid of anything until it kills him.  A bat has never tried to kill him.  Knowing the story of the Sunday Night Batcapade, and hearing that there was indeed something flying around the basement directly below, dad sat off with a broom, and the cable man arrived.

Five minutes later, discussing just how horrible of a job our original cable guys did of installing our internet line, Daddy came outside with a Barn Swallow pinched between his fingers.  Dad mumbles.  Bryan heard him say that it was a Barn Swaggle and a new coined term was born.  Assuring Dad that it was not a Swaggle that we had witnessed in the night, Bryan looks up in time to see another Swaggle in the second floor window, trying to escape.  Dad looks up just quick enough to witness the poor bird flying full-speed into the window of what will be my office on the second floor.  He turns, goes back into the house, and returns, hands cupped.

There is a moment in cheesy movie weddings where the minister or an usher opens his hands and releases doves into the air.  The camera is angled from below and beams of light fall from Heaven onto the matrimonial site, slo-mo ensues, credits roll.  I have the feeling that that’s what happened when Dad released the Swaggle into the afternoon sky.

So how did it end?  We’ve called wildlife control and the good news is that there is no bat colony in the attic.  In fact, there is no evidence of a bat infestation at all.  The little guy just got a little lost on his way to the nightly insect buffet, I suppose, and flew into the attic through one of the (many, many) holes in our eaves.  The Swaggles, however, have nested, which I don’t really mind, and we haven’t seen a bat since that night.  Since the circus of the flyers, we’ve patched every hole leading to the attic and to be honest, I don’t really care whats flying around up there as long as its not flying around in here.  Bats and Swaggles both eat the pesky little bugs that bite me and make my skin itch.  The way I look at it, we just happen to have one big citronella candle above our ceiling, and that’s just fine with me.

The Derby Festivities here in Louisville has passed and its this time of year when we locals start sweeping up the leftovers, sleep in until 3 or so on Sunday and, if they are anything like me, start thinking about next years outfits!  It goes without saying that when the Derby itself has run and the several thousand folks that are at the track finally fight through the cab lines to get home, they immediately head to their favorite bar or post-Derby gathering and stay out until the bars close…  which, on this particular weekend is at 6am.

So…  Bryan and I leave our favorite little bar at 5 or so (we were the early birds last night) and head home.  We’ve had torrential downpours the last couple of days, and aside from giving us some very very sloppy track conditions, it also gave me reason to panic.

At 5am we got home to find that there was a leak on the second floor.  I don’t mean just a little drop or two of water coming in around a window.  I mean that, on the second floor landing, there was a huge repetitive drip bringing down chunks of the ceiling and ruining what was a beautifully smoothed area of brand new drywall.

At this point, I’ve got to inform you that it was Christmas of 2008 when our best friends came home from a trip to Georgia and found that a water pipe had burst.  Their entire home was flooded.  All of the first floor ceiling was in the first floor floor, their hardwood had buckled and popped up.  Their Christmas tree was still standing, but the ornaments had been washed off in a way and most were laying shattered around the tree itself.  The resulting renovations and repairs took months, and cost their insurance company a fortune.

Bryan and I are already spending months of our time trying to make this house simply livable.  At this point, its hard for me to not worry about making the house pretty, but to simply make sure that there are no holes in any of the floors, ceilings, walls…  That in itself is a ridiculous task.  I don’t need to panic that our second floor may be caving in.

I’m panicking that our second floor may be caving in.

Of course, I know that its not caving in…  But that much noise and water was something else to come home to!  Especially at 5 in the morning, and especially after a couple of nights of almost no sleep.  God bless Derby.

The rain here is supposed to carry on for the next several days, so there’s no telling how many times I’ll have to empty the bucket that our ceiling is falling into, and there’s no telling when I’ll be able to crawl up on the roof to repair whatever damage there is…  I think I’m starting to realize what a job is it to renovate a house as big/old/run-down/unstable/take-your-pick as this one is.

Friends, despite all of the leaks, squeaks, and creaks that have come with this place, I’ve still somehow woken up excited every morning to be here, to pick up a drill or a hammer and make whatever minute improvement can be made in a day.  No doubts, no second guessing.  I always feel like I’m home.

Its the time of year that my city comes to life.  Here, wrapped in my favorite robe and with my face freshly washed, I have a moment to ponder about just how I’ve gotten to where I am.

I know, of course, that when most folks usethat phrase- “where I am”- they simply refer to some rhetorical meaning of what they’ve accomplished in life or the battles they’ve waged through to achieve some specific level of success… I mean the literal where.

I’m in a huge house…  my dream home really.  At present, there is only one area completely finished- the Master Suite- but the kitchen is coming along quite nicely and within a couple of months, the entire first floor should be finished.  Said house happens to be in a wonderful neighborhood.  My morning walks are usually riddled with neighbors waving hello from a front porch breakfast or from knees-deep in their gardens.  Japanese Wisteria is still blooming away on the corner of 4th and Hill and friends, Derby is in the air…

I’m living 16 blocks away from the most famous racetrack in the world.  The greatest sporting event of all time is happening there in 6 days.  6 days…  The festivities have already begun.  I was woken this morning by a radio announcer cheering on the Derby marathon from the corner.  The marathoners themselves paced in front of the house most of the morning.

I’m blessed, this time of year with an amazing man who loves the festivities as much as I do.  I should rephrase that.  He loves the glamour and the sport of it all. I can ask him to don an ascot that matches my Derby outfit (this year, a brilliant purple) and he happily will eat up such a challenge…  And if all of a sudden, you begin to see ascots somewhere other than an afternoon summer wedding, you’ll know that my ever-stylish Bryan is the one that brought that trend back.  He’s amazing in that way.

Back to here…  Here I am.  I’m living in this fantasy of a neighborhood, sitting, at the moment, on a couch overlooking Fountain Court.  I can see the lights of the fountain even now.  I’m wondering if I’ll be able to see the lights of Churchill Downs once Downs after Dark begins.

I’m still only a month into living here, yet I’m wishing my time away wondering what it will be like once October hits and the St. James Art Show happens right outside our door.  We closed on the house the Friday of the show last year and arrived home to find a beer cart in the front yard.  July will mark my first birthday in the home I’ve always wanted, and in my head I can see the barbeque out back.  To be truthful, I’ve already bought star-spangled platters in anticipation.  And Christmas—  Oh! Christmas!–  Garland decked triple stairwell, trees to fill eleven-foot ceilings.  I can’t wait for the dinner parties, my own little Derby party next season, and I’ve got a best friends baby shower to host!  The social schedule of my house is already filling up.

I can’t wait to actually begin a life here, when my friends can stop by unexpectedly and not have to trek up 3 flights of stairs to get to an area that’s livable.  Its coming, and its coming soon, but patience was never a trait of mine.

Friends, its late, and I’ve got to dream of flamboyant hats, mint juleps and the day the ascot makes a comeback…