Thursday, July 23, 2009


I've been terribly remiss at posting on this blog lately--most of the summer has gone by without my doing so--but I figured today deserved special mention. Our one-year anniversary of closing on the house passed while we were in Baltimore attending the Otakon anime convention, but yesterday was a year since we actually moved in and slept there for the first time, so it works as well for a milestone as the other day.

It's been a good year, but a strange one. I'm still not sure we've gotten used to the change in neighborhood after having lived in Squirrel Hill for most of the last decade. Our familiar landmarks are all messed up, and since we still have to go into Squirrel Hill to drive people around on a regular basis, it's hard to sever the tie with that area. Also, Adam has been busy, and I have been a bit cocoony/agoraphobic, so we just haven't spent that much time exploring our new neighborhood. We've spent more time running around in the wilds of Junction and Panther Hollows than we have walking the streets of Greenfield, Oakland, or the South Side. The former is overwhelmingly residential and the latter two take a bit of walking to get to in the first place, so it's been a different experience from Sq. Hill, which is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the country, with a thriving business district a block from where we used to live. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss our old area--I especially missed walking around among the mansions and beautiful landscaping this spring--but there is a tradeoff. I've spoken frequently about how much I love the nature and the opportunities for urban exploration where we live now, and we are really close to good places we can walk to. We just haven't often taken advantage of them.

Our neighbors keep to themselves a lot, but the ones we've met are generally nice. The only problems we've had--someone briefly abducting our garbage can here, another person yelling at their dogs at an ungodly hour there--have been minor, and have been nothing compared to the issues we had with people we shared apartment buildings with. Just the fact that we have nobody walking around on our ceiling or partying under our floor has been priceless. I suspect we'll get to know people better once we have kids or get more involved in neighborhood events, but for now, I have no problem with the local people.

As for the's in a bad state right now, on account of we've spent the last month and a half pretty much going out of town every weekend and we don't have hot water or a working stove because of a gas line leak, but all of those factors are on the way to being fixed. Our traveling is done for the near future, and the plumber should be done replacing the line (and moving our meter outside, hurray!) by this afternoon. So right now we're sort of camping in a house that desperately needs cleaning, which isn't the best state in which to celebrate a happy house anniversary. But we still like it a lot. There have been problems that we wouldn't have had to deal with if we were renting. We've had to replace the hot water heater as well as the gas line. And I guess we would still have had to deal with the flooding even if we hadn't owned the place, but we could have left it up to the landlords to clean up.

But there have been definite benefits too. We've really enjoyed gardening, and have had tons of zucchini to enjoy so far this summer. We had one ripe tomato so far (although a groundhog stole it), and discovered two baby pumpkins last night. We recently ripped out a creeping juniper bush in the front yard and replaced it with irises (although we're not 100% sure they survived the transplantation from Adam's parents' neighbor's yard), and we're planning to remove a few more bushes and transplant them to the hill behind the house. These are all things we wouldn't have been able to do if we had been renting. Also, we've loved the freedom to have pets. Mina and Eris have been a bright spot in this year whatever else has been happening.

I'm a bit embarrassed about how little we've gotten done with the renovations. I'm still making gradual progress with refinishing the armoire; I recently discovered the glory of scrubby pads and how awesome they are for stripping paint. I made a huge amount of progress with it, but then had to stop because of convention season and, with the gas line broken, the difficulty of getting a hot shower to rinse off paint residue afterward. I should be able to get started again this weekend, though, and hope to have it mostly done by the end of August. The attic drywalling is at a standstill until I can figure out how to work safely on the highest part of the stairwell. Even with the ladder we bought, I'm still a little too short to reach it, and am beginning to fear it will take scaffolding to complete it. We haven't done nearly enough on the list of issues the inspector suggested we deal with; crises like the hot water heater and the gas line absorbed the funds we would have spent on dealing with those or more cosmetic things. Hell, we haven't even hung all that much stuff on the walls yet. I watch shows like House Hunters on HGTV and wonder how people can move into a house and, four months later, have it completely repainted and fixed up. I guess we get distracted by other things too easily.

I even find this hard to believe, but we haven't really explored the secret room beneath the kitchen yet. Given the archaeological interests of everyone in the household, I'm shocked that we haven't yet. I think the cats have been in more places in the secret room than we have (not with our permission). At least they cleared out a lot of the cobwebs. :)

It has been a pretty busy year, though, and we have made some progress, especially outside. And even though the house is in pretty much the same state as when we bought it (except messier, at the moment...), we've hosted two picnics, two Halloween gaming sessions, a few other LARPs, Christmas Eve, and a New Year's party, we've had lots of guests, we've unpacked a lot of stuff that remained boxed up throughout our entire seven-year tenure as renters, and we've begun bringing home stuff that was being stored at our parents' houses. We just recently paid off the first thousand dollars of principal from our mortgage. The house could use a lot of work, especially at the moment, but in general I still like it a lot and am happy to have it.