Happy Plants

There’s some flowering bushes in the backyard of our apartment here. Someone once told me it was called a Rose of Sharon, and a little online research proved her correct. Anyway, I decided when I first saw them bloom that I love those bushes, and I decided to attempt cuttings to take with me to the new house.

A couple of weeks ago (or maybe it was last week), I made probably almost two dozen cuttings of this plant, all of various thicknesses, about six to eight inches long apiece. I planted about ten of them in a big pot full of perlite—that white, styrofoamy, pebbley substance. I covered them with plastic to keep the moisture in, placed them by a not-too-drafty window, and I’ve been dutifully watering them every day.

I peeked through the plastic (wax paper, actually) today to see if anything was happening… and some of the twigs are growing buds! Little green leaf buds. How about that! They’re not dead… yet. We’ll see if they actually root in a couple of months.

Until then, I also have another bundle of cuttings lying dormant in the refrigerator, ready to be planted outside to attempt rooting a different way. One way or another, I’m going to have a Rose of Sharon. Oh, yes. It will be mine.

Moving Day

It has been decided. Moving Day is Sunday, March 21st. We have begun packing, we have reserved a U-Haul, and we have contacted the utility companies so we have the necessities of life when we arrive in Toledo.

It’s kinda damn cool.

So, the festivities will begin bright and early at 217 South Grove Street in Bowling Green, Ohio. We will pack the giant-size U-Haul with all our personal effects, then caravan up to 4651 Ventura Drive in Toledo, where the unloading will commence. All who assist will be welcome to partake in the traditional “Thank You For Helping Us Haul Our Shit” post-move meal, courtesy of the move-ees (that would be Aaron and myself).

For now, the challenge lies in getting everything packed and ready to go.

Landscaping and other randomness

I gave some more thought to landscaping the house today at work, and over lunch I drew our a couple plans for the front flower bed. I was thinking, for anyone into the whole HGTV-ish gardeny landscapey thing, that first we could hack down the overgrown bushes in the front to normal bush size. Then, I plan to mix some purple and some white flowering plants along with some white flowering ground cover, so as not to cover up the windows. I do have some ideas of flowers I’d like to use, like Lavender, Petunias, and Christmas Roses, among others that I haven’t decided on yet. The trick is going to be finding just the look I want, with flowers that like the shade, since it’s beneath an overhang on the north side of the house. I was also hoping to plant some stuff that blooms at different times, so there’ll always be some color out there… but that might be a little beyond my scope. Maybe I’ll save the rotating garden concept for when I tackle a backyard flower garden…

OK, girlie time is over. *whew*

The dude upstairs came home after I got back from my walk this evening (enjoying the weather), and proceeded to turn up his stereo. He doesn’t do it often, but it’s annoying when he does. So, I proceeded to fill my 5-CD changer with stuff—nothing too overbearing, though. Peter Gabriel’s latest, and Catherine Wheel’s last album, and 24 Gone (their only album), and Depeche Mode’s most recent album (I’m seeing a trend), and the Cure Acoustic Hits (which I think was their latest release, too. Weird). It’s turned up a little louder than I would normally keep it, but it’s by no means blasting. Just loud enough to drown out whatever music he decides to turn up every now and then.

That got me to thinking… I kind of miss college, but not really. I miss it in that pleasant nostalgic way, where the memories are fun to look back on (like radio wars, which is how my brain got from there to here). Not the kind of missing where I would want to do it again. Not like drumcorps.

Speaking of… I’ve been practicing more this week, when the upstairs dude isn’t home—more out of a need not to embarrass myself than to be considerate. 🙂 I’ve been getting better, and my relative pitch and pitch memory seems to be returning slowly but surely. The muscle memory is sort of there, but the endurance isn’t. I’ve been practing for about a half hour every day this week, doing a slow warm-up to try to rebuild my range (which wasn’t that stellar to begin with). After I warm up, I have about enough stamina and concentration to play through the warm-up tune once, the ballad twice, and to woodshed the march. Then I’m done, and I warm down with some pedal tones (reeeally low notes).

I’m also recalling why I stopped being a music major: I hate to practice. If I’m going to do this, though, I’ll have to crack down. Senior corps doesn’t coddle like Junior corps—and I can’t believe I can think of it like that now. It was so physically exhausting… but everything was planned out and served to you, from your rehearsals to your meals to your everything. Now, in senior corps, I’m going to have to practice on my own time, and hype for shows and parades on the weekends only. It’s a lot easier when it’s your entire life for three months. I hope I’ve still got what it takes. We’ll see.

And on a final note: On the front of my package of round Avery labels, the generic name on the pictured envelope is Tyler Durden.

“In the ear?! Why’d you have to hit me in the ear?”

Plants, candles, and other femininities

I’ve been feeling all house-y today. Thinking up what to put in an herb garden, what color scheme I want the front landscaping to have, all that sort of crap. I think I’ve decided on a purple and white thing, but we’ll see. I feel all girlie now. *girlie giggle*

Since I got the rest of my candle supplies, I’ve also been making candles again. Last night was a batch of nine chamomile tealights, and tonight was a batch of nine Drakkar Noir® tealights. Mmm… I’ve gotta splurge some holiday and buy Aaron some Drakkar. Mmm. —Ahem. Anyway, as I was saying, I’m planning to continue until I have sample tealights of all my in-stock fragrances, then ship a package to Sammie to see if she’ll promote me. I’m crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath.

I’m also planning to get myself a new power supply for the poor dormant Frankenstein PC, though that may not happen until we move. I don’t want pieces-parts being forwarded from here to there in the mail or getting misplaced in the move.

And speaking of the move… I tried to be all helpful today by starting to pack the VHS tapes we never watch. Unfortunately, I chose poorly and picked a large box to put most of them in, and it is WAAAY too heavy. So, I’m going to have to unpack the damn box and repack two smaller boxes. Plus another box for the remainder of our tapes. Not to mention our DVDs and CDs, which will be packed at a much later date.

So far, the moving crew appears to consist of myself and Aaron, Kris Fries, Mark, and Eric. We’ll see if we can rope Kris Heath into helping, although it may depend on whether Jamie’s out of town for her students’ Speech Rodeo or whatnot (she’s a high school English teacher and coach for the speech team), or if she’s willing to help us move, too. We’ll see. In any case, it looks like we’ll be able to round up enough bodies to help us cart our shit. Oh, yeah, and yay for U-Haul and giant trucks.

House-house!

Well, today was the long-awaited home closing in Toledo. 4651 Ventura is now ours, and we’re just waiting for the seller to call us and let us know when she’s vacated the premises. Transfer utilities, get the keys, find out when trash day is. Yeah.

The only hairy part of today’s closing was reconciling the electrical work we’d requested. See, the outlets in the kitchen and basement weren’t grounded, so that was the main thing we’d asked the owner to get done before closing. When we went through with Rebecca the realtor at 11am this morning for the final walkthrough, we discovered that the kitchen outlets had been fixed, but the downstairs outlets had been replaced with new two-prong outlets instead of wired for the pre-existing three-prong. WTF? When we got to the closing, we found that the seller’s electrician had only brought them up to code by eliminating the possibility of trying to plug in an applicance that needed grounding. I guess that makes some sort of sense… *shrug*

At any rate, our realtor stuck by her guns and made the seller and her realtor (and her electrician, via cell phone) realize that they hadn’t done what we asked. In the end, the seller cut us a check for the estimate on getting the job done right (which Rebecca had gotten faxed to her office while Aaron and I were enjoying a huge lunch at Charlie’s Coney Island).

So… we’re homeowners. Rock on.

FYI, the offer still stands, to anyone who will be in the Toledo or BG area in a few weeks when we move: if you help us move, we’ll buy you food. That seems to be the going rate for moving assistance amongst our group of friends. That, and future indebtedness to the next person who needs help with a move.

We spent a lot of the afternoon contemplating what our future weekend projects will be, including but not limited to:

  • Trimming Bushes
  • Cleaning Gutters
  • Replacing Downspouts
  • Raking Last Fall’s Leaves
  • Reseeding Sections of Lawn

And, of course, arranging and re-arranging our furniture. Especially since we’ll have to keep the downstairs bare of furnishings until we get the electrician in to fix his attempt at a quick-fix. Then we’ll be moving out desks and computers and bookshelves and musical instruments downstairs. Eventually we’ll get some new furniture, too, and put the old stuff down there for a lounging and reading area… but that’s still a ways away.

Long day. Busy day. Whew.

In other news, Aaron took the night off and we rented Lost In Translation. We’re still not sure what we thought of it. I think it accomplished what it set out to accomplish by leaving us feeling slightly disjointed. It’s worth a watch, especially if you’re into Japanese culture (Sheryl, have you seen it yet?), but I don’t plan to watch it again.

Mel!

My old buddy Mel came into town today! I got her e-mail last night, saying that she’d be in BG for an audition, and suggesting that we could do lunch. Absolutely! I ended up taking a half hour longer for lunch than I should have, but it was worth it. I really hope she gets in, and for more selfish reasons than I might like to admit. I miss having girlfriends to hang out with. And Melody in particular, especially when she’s Happy Mel and not Chronically Tired Mel.

In other news, my left shoulder has had a nagging piercing pang for the past two days. It’s not a muscular soreness; it feels like more of a nerve thing, or possibly a muscle tightness or twitching or a joint a little out of place or something. At any rate, it hurts just enough to annoy. (Maybe I should take some Tylenol… nahh.)

And on the house front (as opposed to homefront?), John gave me the final news on the closing today. The amount of money we need to bring to closing is… nada. Not a damn thing. Our driver’s licenses and our smiling faces. Hell, we’re most likely going to get money. Here, have a house and a check. Huh?? But I’m not complaining.

I’ve also been OD-ing on my genealogy of late. It’s amazing what you can piece together from just census records and other easier-to-obtain documents. For instance, check out this brief narrative on my great-great-great grandfather:

On 14 Jan 1869, Samuel’s father James consented to the marriage to Mary Lunette Shupert, due to the fact that his son was under 21. At this point, Mary Lou was already three months pregnant with James. Bill Cook’s genealogy indicates that this marriage took place in Ellerton, Jefferson Township, Montgomery County.

By the summer of 1870, Samuel and Mary had established a home in Jackson Township. Their son James was almost a year old, and Samuel was supporting his new family by working as a farm laborer.

In the 1880 U.S. Census, Samuel’s last name was spelled “SHARITZ” and his occupation was listed as ‘laborer.’ Samuel and Mary were both age 30. Their first five children had been born and were living at home — the oldest, James, was 11, and the youngest, Harvey, was one year old.

In the 1900 U.S. Census, Samuel’s last name was spelled “SHARRITS” and his occupation was listed as ‘farmer.’ He named his birthplace and the birthplace of his parents as Indiana. All the children were still living at home — except Samantha, who had died four years prior at the age of 13. The oldest child, James, was 30. The youngest, Mellie, was twelve.

Also in residence in 1900 was Oscar RIDENOUR, Samuel’s grandson and Ona’s son. Ona had died in 1898.

By 1920, all of the children had moved out. Samuel was still farming at age 69, and his wife Mary, also 69, was still living with him. She would continue to live with him for another five years, until she died of heart disease in the summer of 1925.

Samuel was 80 years old and living alone in Poasttown in the Spring of 1930. He owned his $4000 home, had no radio, and did not work.

In 1938, Samuel developed a nagging case of pneumonia that was destined to persist for years. Samuel died three years later, in 1941, of heart disease and pneumonia. His oldest surviving son, Charles, was the informant on the death certificate, and was apparently caring for Samuel in his later years. The death certificate gives the birthplace of Samuel and both of Samuel’s parents as Miamisburg. Samuel Oliver is buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Poasttown.

And that’s just the stuff I wrote down, not even all of the records of his kids being born and marrying off and dying and all that. Something about the narrative just strikes me as… poignant, I guess, even though it’s not really much to read if you aren’t related to Samuel.

This is harshing my bouncy mood, yo. But I’m still pretty happy. Ever since seeing Mel today, I’ve been unusually smiley. I don’t mind. I like it. Mel is such a character. *shaking head*

I hope her audition went well…

You Might Think I’m Crazy…

I’ve just discovered the most wonderfully unexpected treat.

You know the pickled ginger that comes sliced in a jar? The stuff that’s been sitting in our fridge for months now because we can no longer eat maki, but we don’t want to pitch a full jar of expensive sushi ginger? Yeah, that’s the stuff.

Take a slice out of the jar and suck on it.

It’s the greatest thing… first, it’s all sweet and delicious—that would be from the 3 grams of sugar per ounce of ginger. OK, so I’m a (slightly) bad monkey. Anyway, after you get used to the sweetness, the pickling finishes dissolving or melting away and you’re left with the hot spice of the ginger to chew on. It’s like two treats in one!

…See, I told you that you’d think I was crazy.

Home Closing Shenanigans

I just got up from a three-hour nap in the recliner, so I’m a little disoriented… but I had to share with you today’s homebuying insanity.

Keep in mind: from the beginning, John from NOIC—our lender—has been stressing upon us that we’ll need to bring some money to Closing, even though our loan is technically zero percent down. He said we’d need a few hundred at the least, to cover pre-paid interest and lender’s fees. See, we weaseled the seller into pitching in 3% of the home’s price toward closing costs, but that doesn’t necessarily cover everything. We have to foot the bill for whatever that 3% doesn’t pay for.

So, what’s this “pre-paid interest” crap, you might ask (as we did at first)? I’m still not sure I’ve got it completely straight as to why, but when we buy the house, we have to pre-pay the interest on the mortgage from that day of the month through to the end of the month. For this reason, closing at the end of the month is good; closing at the beginning of the month is bad, as far as the amount of money we’d need to bring to closing. Therefore, had we closed on February 27th like we’d hoped, we would only owe two days’ worth of pre-paid interest.

Closing on March 1st, however, makes for a whole new ballgame. The difference? About $500.

We didn’t realize how much of a difference that would be until John called today. See, while John had been telling us one story, Rebecca the Realtor had been giving us an entirely different story: telling us that, if anything, we should get money back at Closing. We were all for that, obviously. So when John called today to give us a ballpark figure of what we’d need to bring to Closing depending on which day it would be held—$500-600 vs. $1100—I got kinda nervous. And I really, really hoped we’d manage to close on Thursday or Friday instead of Monday.

But no, first their lawyer couldn’t make it, then our lawyer couldn’t make it, then they couldn’t reach our lawyer to reschedule for sooner… and all the while I’m having kittens because I don’t know if we’re going to have to pull a grand out of our asses on short notice. Finally, it’s agreed by all parties that the closing will be on Monday, March 1st—and, boy, was John apologetic about it. Hey, though, whatcha gonna do? *defeatist shrug*

This was my entire morning and part of my afternoon at work today: fretting, freaking, and generally getting my nose out of joint. Aaron was wonderful and tried to calm me down until we knew for sure that, yes, we need to come up with $1000+ in the course of three days. Then he started to stress out, too. 🙂 Ironically, that was when I kind of calmed down a little; knowing that it had to be done and figuring it out was less stressful to me than not knowing if it would have to be done and just generally worrying about it. At least, once we knew for sure what was going on, I could sit down and actually apply myself to the problem.

So, we came up with a few ideas. Plan A: Take money out of my 401(k). I’ve got enough in there to cover the closing costs, and I haven’t been contributing for very long, so it’s not like I’d lose much ground, retirement-wise. Plan B: Scrape together money from Friday’s paychecks, which would cover closing costs, and pay rent and some bills late. It’s our last full month’s rent, so what are the Smiths going to do—kick us out? 😉 Plan C: Yelling for help, a.k.a. The Dad Loan. Although we’d vastly prefer to be self-sufficient, we know that Aaron’s dad would be more than willing to float us a loan if ever we need it.

I looked into Plan A. (Didn’t get much actual work done today at work, you know?) Turns out that a 401(k) Loan takes two to three weeks to process, so that’s right out. Aaron did the math on Plan B, and saw that we’d actually have enough to cover closing costs, though we wouldn’t really be able to eat for a week. 😉 So, we opted against pursuing Plan C and decided to just force ourselves to make it through on what we’ve got.

At this point, there was a karmic kind of turn of events, under the category of “doing for those who do for themselves”—Aaron found that our income tax return is due to be direct-deposited on Friday. OMG. That took a load off. It’ll still only cover half of what we’re required to pay, but that still takes the pressure off… and lets us eat for the next week or two.

What a draining day. What a roller-coaster.

On the good side, though, it turns out that the seller has a place to live and is moving out right now. We might get possession sooner than 30 days, which would mean moving at our convenience, and not having to extend our lease.

Also on the good side is the fact that I get free Cashier’s Checks, since I work for the bank. So, either Saturday morning or Monday morning, we head out to the bank and get a Cashier’s Check for the amount the Title Agency will disclose on Friday. Monday morning at 11am, we’ll meet at the house for a final walkthrough, then go to the closing at 1pm (hopefully with some lunch in between?). —Oh, yeah, I took Monday off of work, too. Yay for personal time. I’m also planning to take a personal day to finish packing and start moving, whenever that ends up being.

Unfortunately, my little nap this evening took the place of the cleaning and reorganizing I had been going to do in the bedroom, in preparation for packing. Gah. I hate it when I sleep away my time at home. It feels like such a waste.

Anyway, on a lighter note, check out my completed eBay auctions—in particular, the Super 8 stag films. Holy shit. Not bad for a bizarre five-dollar garage sale find.

Class-Action Settlements Rock.

Hey, guys? Remember several months ago when I told you all about the class-action lawsuit about CD prices? …Good, because I’m too lazy to go look for the entry on my site. Anyway, you’ll never guess what I got in the mail today.

A check. For $13.86. In payment for the settlement.

Word.

Let’s go buy a CD.

Am I evil?

Is it wrong to be amused and emboldened by the misfortune of others?

Now, some people have problems in their lives, and I just genuinely feel bad for them. Like Beth needing to give up her ferrets, and her employer’s impending business collapse. But there are others whom I will not name, both online and off, whose plight makes me feel smug on some level.

There are those who think their life is good, and don’t realize how truly fucked up it really is. And there are those who had quite a chip on their shoulder after college, and thought they were the proverbial shit, who now live back at home penniless and jobless (or close to it). And part of me feels horrible for my attitude toward these people who probably once thought or currently think they are a better person than me. More successful, more worthy, more talented, more driven, et cetera.

It’s not that I need to put other people down to make myself feel good. I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I actually don’t mind my job, and am starting to like it. This despite the fact that it’s not what I’d originally wanted to do, nor is it what I have my degree in. I enjoy steady hours, a definite annual raise of about 4% (coming up in March!), opportunities to post for different and better jobs within the company, semi-annual incentive (bonus) checks, and having my own little cubicle that I can decorate as I please. 🙂

I’m also quite happy with my personal life. Aaron and I are still kickin’ it after about nine months of wedded bliss, and are hoping to close on our house this Friday. So, we’ll move in at the end of next month (anyone who wants to help is more than welcome—maybe we’ll buy you dinner or something). We’re contemplating starting a family once we get settled in, starting with a cat and moving to something a little more substantial (like a small human being) in a couple of years.

And in between that are my hobbies and avocations. Once it gets warmer out, I intend to go photographing more often, since it seems that nature is one of my favorite subjects. I’m reading a lot more these days, and as soon as I get Dreamweaver on my damn Mac, I’ll be webpaging more, too. (Not that I can’t hard-code, mind you, but I’m quite spoiled by wysiwyg editors that actually do what I want them to.) I also have an apartment-full of plants that will fill out our new home nicely, and I’m still enjoying making my soy candles on occasion.

So, long story short, I’m happy. I think all this gratuitous me-ness goes under the category of “Count Your Blessings.”

So why do I feel so smug at the downfall of others? It seems evil to me… but I can’t change the way I feel.