Four Things I Learned From My Housewarming Party

Da House

Woo-hoo! I survived my first hosting experience! I confess, I had never had more than about four or five people over before (OK, maybe ten counting small children), so this was scary new territory. I made it through, and even learned a thing or two. Or four.

1. Though it may not be ideal, parties can still work if you’re a socially awkward nincompoop who doesn’t really know how to introduce friends to other friends. Turns out people aren’t robots who stand silently against the wall waiting to be activated by introductions before they interact. They will even introduce themselves to one another and mingle much better than you do. It’s kind of cool.

2. No matter how much cheese you set out for a gathering, you really should set out some more. A few days ago I posted a note that I was “pretty sure I could drop about 5 lbs. this week alone if I gave up cheese, which would be a great plan, except it requires giving up cheese.” (Seriously, if Costco were to gauge household size on cheese consumption, they would likely think there are about eight of us, and we’re all two hundred pound mice.) Turns out I’m not alone in the love of cheese.

3. Cookies trump pretty mini cupcakes as party desserts. I don’t know if the cupcakes were just intimidating or what, but I still had most of them at the end of the day. On the other hand, everyone made short shrift of the one pack of cookies someone thoughtfully brought. We should get a grant and figure out the psychology behind this phenomenon.

4. My friends are amazing. Truly. I mean, I sort of already knew that. I said a few weeks ago that I felt humbled and grateful by all that people had done for me throughout this house searching and moving experience. That feeling continues to multiply. I am very, very blessed.

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Make it Look Real Nice

Orange vase-ish
I’m decorating my new house! This is not something I’ve truly managed in other domiciles, not really, unless you count the ginormous bright orange vase-shaped-object a friend and I picked up to mock the ugliness of the orange and yellow bathroom in a certain mobile home I like to pretend I never knew. It almost looks classy in its current location on my mantel, but I’m not sure it counts as decor.

No, I mean I’m hanging artwork and family photos and paintings with some actually thought behind their arrangement.

At least, in theory. In reality, I mostly hold a framed item in front of me while marching around the house mumbling to myself and tripping over cats.

Part of the problem is that I really can’t picture anything more complicated than a single framed object. I have trouble envisioning an organized and interesting arrangement, especially one that is something other than symmetrical, or involves objects of varying sizes.

I also lack confidence in my abilities, because I have siblings who are actual ARTISTS or who can walk into a Ross’s and pick out a peculiar object like this one…

Peacock object…and know it will be beautiful, whereas I’m pretty sure whatever object I hauled home would transform into giant dead spider legs as soon as I walked in the door and would gross out all comers.

The other, larger issue is that while I’m pretty sure wiring in walls mostly runs kind of like the red lines in this picture (and probably not even that prominent)…

Actual wiring

…in my head I picture it running more like this.

Imagined WiringDrilling holes into the wall for art work? You might as well play Russian Roulette! You’ll burn the house down, kid!

But still, I’m printing up some photos. I have some artwork and some frames. I have a drill/driver thing. Even scarier, after years of resistance, I’ve joined Pinterest.

Watch out, world.

Relocation Redux

   I feel like this sums up so much…

I can’t recall if I mentioned it here or not, but I bought a house!

To begin with, the closing was going to be on Wednesday, but then it turned out that was just the funding part, and late Monday evening I got word I was supposed to sign the paperwork the next day. So Tuesday morning I arrived at work slightly late and utterly flustered because I had to ask for no-notice time off. I walked in the door and immediately started babbling inanely to the closest co-worker, who listened patiently for a moment (bless her), and then said, “Um, honey? Look at your feet.” Aw, geez.

But it all worked out OK, so maybe that was good luck. Got paperwork all signed, and got a free pen out of the deal. Sadly, I opened the pen because I was curious how much ink I’d used signing my name eleventy zillion times, and it fell apart and got ink all over my hands. Classic. Fortunately they had me come back Wednesday to sign a few more things, so I made off with a second pen. (And I lost it.)

Nothing really to say about Thursday except that we moved a ton of stuff, and I have some truly awesome friends who helped me through it, not just physically but mentally. We got the majority of the packed boxes and some of the furniture all taken care of.

 Friday morning, I had to take one cat (Tam) to the vet. He was there for all of about ten minutes, just to get his nails clipped (he’s old and doesn’t wear them properly) and a shot. However, any time at the vet means that Halvah completely FLIPS OUT when Tam gets home. It don’t know if she thinks he has become a pod cat or if she’s afraid of second-hand vetting or what, but she turns into a horrible bee-yotch for at least a day afterward.

So Halvah spent the rest of the day hissing at Tam, smacking him if he got nearby and grumbling to herself if he so much as entered the same room. Tam and Halvah rode peaceably together in a small carrier all the way from Fort Collins, CO to Olympia, WA, but–after vet contamination–there was no way she was going to ride in the car with him for fifteen or twenty minutes. So I had to make two trips. Which, on a busy moving day, is a lot of extra minutes. Gar.

Friday night was my first night in the house, and my first evening in the neighborhood, as I’d only ever visited the house in the daytime up to that point. It’s downright sleepy, generally speaking–there’s really no traffic aside from those who live on the street, and there isn’t big population from the party demographic.

Or so I thought. I was exhausted, so went to bed pretty early–like nine, nine-thirty–where I blinked in the darkness and listened to…drums. I don’t think it was even music, just what sounded like a drum circle, and it sounded like it was right in back of the house. For about half an hour I lay there thinking, “What have I done? What if this is what I have to listen to every night for the rest of my life?”

And then the drummers must have picked up and gone home.

I haven’t heard them since. Maybe it was a welcoming committee.

Saturday morning was my first morning in the house, and it started off pretty well! I woke up refreshed, found that the morning sun streamed beautifully into the front rooms of the house, found my coffee making supplies, and made a fine cup with plenty of real cream. Oh, light and luxury!

I’d made plans to meet back at the old house with friends later in the day to take a load of assorted junk to the dump, but the morning was mine, so I thought I’d lug some boxes in from the garage to unpack. Except…going back into the house with the very first box, I found that I’d locked the door behind me.

Yes, that’s right. Day one in my new house, and I locked myself in my own garage.

Which wouldn’t have been so bad, but Friday, while I was doing all the cat shuffling, I gave the keys to the house to one of the friends who was helping me move, and we both forgot about them until she was already home. I’d planned to lock myself out of the house when I went to do the dump run, and retrieve them then. I hadn’t intended on locking myself out ahead of time.

To complicate matters, I didn’t know how to unlock the garage door from the inside. Also, I didn’t have my cell phone, so I couldn’t ask for any help. And since the garage door was locked, I couldn’t very well bang on the door and get the neighbors to let me out, unless I sent one of them to call a locksmith, which would have been…awkward.

To add to the fun, I’ve been intending to see “The Martian” as soon as humanly possible, and my brain linked my locked-in state with that story (for the uninitiated, brief synopsis is that a guy ends up trapped on Mars with few resources and has to figure out how to signal for help–since he’s assumed dead–AND survive until someone comes, only it’s way more awesome than that sounds). Anyway, my thoughts started straying toward how I might be able to feed Cisco dog (also trapped) and myself, locate water, keep warm, etc. until help came, possibly not for days.

But I finally figured out how to get the door open, and after a momentary panic where I thought I was going to have to walk to the nearest store and beg random strangers to take me to the friends with the keys, I remembered I knew someone a few streets over, and she helped me locate the phone number. So it wasn’t really all that exciting after all. I just had to unpack boxes in the garage for awhile, and then they came and rescued me and we went and gathered up dump stuff.

Sunday was mostly spent cleaning out the old place, but also family came down to see the place for the first time, which was really fun–especially getting to hear and see about the place through the eyes of the kids. They particularly liked the mysterious lump in the back yard. 

I haven’t mentioned the lump, have I? When I viewed the house, we speculated mightily as to what the lump might be hiding–a hidden bunker, bodies, unexploded ordinances–but Friday night the neighbor who had been keeping an eye on the place returned his key (no longer any good anyway, since the locks got changed) , and told me a bunch of the history. Turns out the lump is just…a lump. Apparently the previous owner planned to landscape it or something. What a let down.

The Lump, in my shaggy backyard. It pretty much hasn't stopped raining since I got here, my?
The Lump, in my shaggy backyard. It pretty much hasn’t stopped raining since I got here, mmmkay?

Anyway, the kids liked it. Now I’m torn about demolishing it.

I’m slowly but surely unpacking boxes. This weekend I got most of the kitchen figured out, and my books at least on shelves, if not in any logical order. Those two things have done wonders toward making this place feel like home. I also sat and played banjo for the first time since I’ve moved in. Neighbors didn’t storm the house to stone me, so that’s positive.

Two of the great friends who helped me move also stopped by halfway through the week to provide a hot meal and set me up with the new rural style mailbox the USPS now requires (the old house boxes were grandfathered in to a point, but they’re phasing them out since carriers mostly deliver from the vehicle now). Isn’t this about the purtiest mailbox you ever did see?

Mailbox

And that’s my move!

Doom Doom Doom Doom Doom

Storm clouds

Ever had days where you feel like you were supposed to do something critically important, but you can’t remember what it is? Days where you feel like you did something absolutely unforgivable, and someone is going to find out at any moment, though you can’t think what you’ve done? Days where it seems like every possible decision you could make is liable to ruin everyone’s lives?

Oh, I hate those. I think of them as Days of Impending Doom. Over the years, I’ve finally learned that keeping to a healthy diet that works for me has a huge impact on my emotional ups and downs. So does getting in a bit of exercise regularly–just walking helps a lot. So does playing music. So does getting in time for prayer and confession. So does finding ways–even small ways–to do things for others.

If I manage at least some of these, my doom days are reduced, but they still show up, regular as clockwork. I know they’re messing with my head. I know they’ll pass. And yet…they still lock up my life.

On those days, everything seems to take on giant proportions and it seems like there are no right choices. A few months back, there was one Saturday where I decided to buy tortilla chips–tortilla chips!–and ended up paralyzed and teary in the snacks aisle at the grocery because I couldn’t decide if the greatest good was to buy the cheapest, the most locally made, or the ones that were vaguely healthier than some of the others. This all sounds silly, I know, and it does to me too, after the fact…but it seemed really, really important at the time. Continue reading