posted in: home, prose, work | 1

It’s been two years since we moved into this big old fixer-upper on the hill. In that time there are some things that haven’t changed at all, like the cracked plaster walls in the unused living room or the pink wool carpet in the attic.

And then there are the things that have changed:

  • The crusher dust on the patio has settled so the smooth quartzite pavers can show their faces.
  • We’ve won the war against the overgrowth in the backyard. From here on out, we’ll just have to maintain a strong military presence, squelch insurrection, and so forth.
  • With the help of a handy-dandy clawfoot shower kit, we don’t have to go to the basement to shower anymore.
  • Many branches of the extended family have moved or had other big changes in their lives.
  • I’ve cut way back on smaller projects and I’m working full time for MarketBeat as a virtual assistant/developer in training.
  • Alethia is no longer a toddler. She is a young girl with a big imagination, a huge vocabulary, a happy disposition (if she has gotten enough sleep), and opinions about everything.

If you ask me how the house is coming along, I’ll tell you, “Really good considering we have about three hours a week to work on it!”

Quite frankly, it’s not our top priority. Growing in our careers has been a bigger priority for us, now that we’ve both finally found the right fit. Having a good routine as a family is also a high priority, since that’s what makes every other undertaking sustainable. So plugging away on house projects is part of our routine, but it is not itself the routine, as it was for the months surrounding our move here. Our routine also involves time with family and friends, since we value that.

A week or so ago we attended the historic homes tour in our neighborhood for the third year in a row. The difference this year was that, instead of touring the homes of strangers, we were touring the homes of friends and acquaintances. As we walked from home to home, we ran into neighbor friends on the sidewalk and took time to catch each other up on our lives. We talked about what we were doing that weekend (there is always something every weekend), about our own house projects (there is always something more to do), and about the weather (it was very hot).

Everything has become routine– and that is a beautiful thing.



posted in: poetry | 0

Maybe I haven’t written so many rhyming words
but there’s things that could be worse.
I put work first.
I’ve been writing behind the scenes
about how things look, just where it can’t be seen.
Code is poetry.

That Peculiar Smell

posted in: prose, time, work | 3

It’s so humid today that when I open the closet door, it smells the same peculiar way it did a year ago when I was soaking those same closet walls in water to get the loose, cracked, 112-year-old wallpaper off. Alethia’s closet has since been mudded and painted– mine remains gritty and gray. We’ll get to it someday.

Yes, it’s been a whole year since we bought this old house. Next month we’ll celebrate the anniversary of bringing all our stuff here. Really, we’ll be celebrating the fact that, as far as we know, we won’t be moving all our stuff again for quite some time: we have everything we need here (space, friends, potential… lots of potential) and we’re both self-employed, so we don’t foresee any job transfers.

We love this place, even on the days when we don’t feel like we love this house (like the day I went to the pest control aisle at Menards and bought one of everything). We love our community, our neighborhood, and our home. When Alethia see’s her neighbor-friends out on their yard, she’s jumping up and down to join them. When we see neighbors painting their houses in pretty colors, we get giddy, because we want everyone to see how beautiful this place up on the hill is.

Last summer I spent every day prying and scraping and carrying and sweating. It was a good, hard time. At the end of one of those days, I washed up, strapped Alethia into the homemade camouflage mei tai on my back, and took to the streets because it was Historical Homes Tour night. The houses were beautiful. The owners were happy to meet a new neighbor and they told me how bad their houses were when they started. I could have hugged them right there, but I was too stinky.

Last night was that same night again. This year’s houses were also beautiful. I was encouraged again to hear that it had taken time to get to that point. Even more encouraging was the homeowner who cheerfully, shamelessly said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen my own house this clean!” For a second I thought that it would be a shame to have such a beautiful house and never have it clean, but then I remembered what I’ve been learning:

You don’t have to wait to be happy until your house is clean. Or until your remodeling is finished. You don’t have to wait for your work to be done, for your student loans to be paid off, for your projects to be complete, for your career to take off. You can enjoy your life while you do your work. You can have people over to your torn-up house. You can give of yourself while you’re still gaining ground.

Good thing, because it’s going to be a long time before we’re done with anything, much less everything. We put in a six-ton patio and planted grass in the back yard, but I need to add more seed and finish planting the patch by the driveway. Ryan’s been re-wiring lots of outlets and lights, but there’s a long way to go on that. About the only thing we’ve finished is the Subaru– we sold it to a scrap yard.

We have a lot to do, but we’ve come a long way and we’re enjoying the ride. It feels like we’ve squished many years into this past year. The peculiar smell of those damp closet walls seems like a smell from a long time ago.


posted in: daily poem, Poem Diem 2015, poetry | 0

If you could write “feel bad about that”
on a list, maybe you could get it done
and when you were done feeling bad about that,
you could cross it off, and that’d be fun.

And then you could feel good.
Feel good, that’s the next thing
on the list; don’t you wish
you could list just the best things
but it’s the worst things
that need done the worst.
It seems the last thing you want to do
must come first.

Long after nobody else remembers
but while it still hurts them somewhere in their sole,
there’s a pebble that you put right there on purpose
and you’ve got to get it out to make you whole.

And then you could feel good.
Feel good, that’s the next thing
on the list; don’t you wish
you could list just the best things
but it’s the worst things
that need done the worst.
It seems the last thing you want to do
must come first.

In lieu of tears

posted in: daily poem, Poem Diem 2015, poetry | 0

I still listen to the playlist that you made for the road trip away.
I still have to close my eyes when I get to the third track,
and I lean my head back
and let the memories wash across my mind
in lieu of tears across my face.
I can’t cry every time that I miss that summer.

If I Could Fly

posted in: daily poem, Poem Diem 2015, poetry | 0
If I could fly to Mexico
by way of all the flowers,
never telling anybody
how I know that my grandfathers
would have wanted me to come
back all the way to here
every several generations
and about once every year,
I would keep it all a secret
from the ones who weren’t like me,
but I’d share with all who understood
beneath a big fir tree.
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