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Best of 2009: Place

Posted: December 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Best of 2009 Blog Challenge, house | Tags: | Comments Off on Best of 2009: Place

Another entry in Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge

Yeah, okay, best-laid plans and all that. I ended up with a much crazier week than anticipated, and only now am I starting to find room to breathe again. Maybe I’ll catch up on those other posts. Maybe not. So, where were we? Oh yeah, the best of 2009 — best place.

This is another one I could answer in a number of ways. I found a couple little coffee shops and restaurants this year that I like to visit when I need a change of scenery from the home office, and I always do my best thinking when I’m walking on the beach, strolling the paths at the zoo, or wandering the galleries at the art museum. But this year, “place” is all about our house.

IMG_1959 copyLast month we celebrated two years here, and as much as it is still very much a work in progress (and will likely remain so on into eternity), this house is finally starting to feel like ours. When we met, John and I each had our own house; after we were engaged, I moved into his place (it was bigger) and put mine up for sale. Soon after our wedding, we began looking for a new place. One whirlwind house hunt later, here we are.

We’re in an inner-ring suburb, but our neighborhood is tucked up against the Metroparks and our lot is mostly woods, so it’s a weird little pocket of nature in the middle of the ‘burbs, complete with critters (raccoons, foxes, owls, groundhogs, deer, turkeys, etc.) and randomly falling trees. The house was built in 1967, and we are the third owners. It’s a quirky and unusual place, bigger than we need, really, but suited to our personalities and lifestyle.

The house has very few right angles, so furniture placement can be a challenge. The rooms aren’t really laid out in straight lines, either, so sometimes I still surprise myself with being able to see stuff that I don’t think I should be able to see from a given point. It’s a little Alice in Wonderland. But from every room there is a great view of the woods or the gardens, and there is room for me to have both an office and a studio.

When we got it, the colors were a little crazy (Pepto-Bismol pink, anyone?), but we’ve been slowly working our way around and neutralizing so that your gaze doesn’t stop at the shocking walls but continues as it should to the lovely outdoors. We took all the heavy and dated downstairs window treatments down, which has helped a lot, too. The biggest thing we did this year was start to remove the white (yes, white — who does that?!?!) carpeting from the downstairs rooms. We’re still undecided on what will replace it, but for now living with the cement is better than that grody carpet.

IMG_3137 copyI spent a lot of time in the gardens this summer, improving the view from my office window, excavating some evil, invasive groundcover, and filling in a formerly swampy area with some dirt and a lot of deer-resistant perennials. The gardens are starting to make sense now.

While there’s still a lot to do, the house now feels like home, a comfortable space where we can just hang out and be. And that’s why it gets my vote for favorite place of 2009.

tidbits: extra tidbit-y edition

Posted: October 23rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: art, classes, Cleveland Handmade, house, nature | 1 Comment »

giveaway-virtualloriI’m giving away a custom stamped and domed sterling silver pendant in this week’s Cleveland Handmade giveaway. Just visit the Cleveland Handmade website for information on how to enter.

Six yards of mulch was delivered on Monday; after four hours Monday afternoon, five hours Tuesday afternoon, and five hours yesterday, it’s all been placed where needed. In truth, I could have used another yard or two for some other spots. But I’m done with mulch for the year.

The leaves have been glorious this week, but today they’re coming down so thick and fast, it’s almost like a blizzard. I’m wondering if there will be any left on the trees at the end of the weekend.

I had a great group for my etching class on Wednesday night. I love it when my students can relax and have fun with each other.

Two more days to iPhone. Two more days to iPhone. Two more days to iPhone.

hey, turkey!

Posted: June 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: critters, house, nature | 6 Comments »

Just call our neighborhood Wild Kingdom.

The latest addition to the menagerie, following the pack of coyotes who used the ravine behind our house as a highway for a couple of weeks (but now seem to have moved on), is a mother turkey and her two chicks. Witness:

hey, turkeys!

This photo was taken from my office window. The little path that runs alongside that part of the house is a well-trodden route for them.

The mother will let me get about ten feet away before she starts to show signs of protectiveness.

We first saw the turkeys two weeks ago, and in that time the babies have really grown and the mother is starting to let them wander a little ways away from her.

My neighbor tells me she saw the tom last week, although I have not seen him.

My little camera takes video, although it’s not very high-res. But if you care to share in my fascination in watching them as they eat the seeds off the tall grass, here you go:

whoooooo’s in my house?

Posted: March 4th, 2004 | Author: | Filed under: critters, house | 10 Comments »

I came home Tuesday night just in time for the start of Gilmore Girls. I was looking forward to a quiet night on the couch after a stressful couple of days. I threw my stuff on the kitchen table and went over and flipped the TV on. A minute or so later, I went back to adjust the volume. As I did so, I heard some rustling coming from the plant on top of the CD case in the corner. It struck me as odd, since Fiona (the cat) is not able to get up there, and even if she could, there’s no room for her anyway. I went to shoo her away, because two of my favorite ceramic pieces live on the top of that case, as do some other breakables.

Much to my surprise, it was not Fiona up there, but a good-sized screech owl. A quiet, mellow, Fiona-colored screech owl, but a screech owl nonetheless. After a moment of panic and trying to remember if owls have a tendency to get pissed off and peck your eyes out or something, and being paranoid about how it might have gotten in, I decided to just call Mom to ask her whom I should call. She didn’t believe me at first. After I convinced her that it was for real, she suggested calling the police. I’m not sure that they believed me either, but they put in a call to the dogcatcher (?!?) to call me back.

Sometime in the middle of all this I saw Fiona saunter casually into the bedroom, and promptly shut the door so she’d stay in there. I don’t know how she managed to not notice Screechy’s presence, as she gets hyped over birds on the outside of the house all the time, nor do I know why Screechy wasn’t more upset about Fiona’s presence. Maybe there’s some kind of owl/cat nonaggression pact in force that I don’t know about.

While I was waiting for the callback, I grabbed the camera and took a few pictures so that I could prove it happened, and propped the front door open, hoping Screechy would take the hint and fly out. He showed his rather large wingspan and moved from the plant to the curtain rod. Then I called my friend Sara to see if she could send her brother over. He didn’t believe her, but nonetheless came over. As we stood there staring at Screechy (whooo was quite content to sit quietly on the curtain rod and follow me wherever I went with his eyes) trying to figure out what to do, the dogcatcher called back. His helpful advice was to prop the door open and try to shoo it out. Thanks.

Screechy was entirely unfazed by my waving magazines in his general direction. I didn’t want to get close enough to be in pecking range. Bill went to fetch his fishing net, while I went downstairs for the broom. Bill nudged Screechy with the broom while I held the net in one hand and a magazine in the other. Screechy took a lap around the living room before he decided the best place to perch next would be on Bill’s pant leg. Once the surprise wore off, Bill started moving slowly toward the door. Screechy hopped off about halfway there, at which point I was able to put the net over him and trap him in there with a newspaper. I took him outside, where he was quite content to sit in the net and stare at me some more.

After I closed the door so he wouldn’t be tempted to go back in, we nudged him enough to get him to hop out of the net. He hung out on the lawn long enough for me to worry that he had been hurt, then took off and settled on a branch in the dogwood tree. I thanked Bill profusely for his help.

Throughout all of this, Screechy made no noise at all, other than a little wing-flapping. He didn’t seem particularly upset about being in the house, or being in the net, or anything at all. I told him that he was a beautiful bird and a nice addition to the decor, but would probably be much happier outside.

Best I can figure, he came in through the chimney. There’s an open vent near the furnace in the basement that goes into the chimney, and there was a bunch of dirt and debris under it when I went looking Tuesday night. I’ve temporarily made it less open with some strips of duct tape, but I need to get someone up on the roof to rig some kind of wire mesh contraption up there so critters can’t get into the chimney in the first place.