What I Did in July 2009

7/27 – Oh Fickle Philadelphia Real Estate Market

The space is getting to Frank. I don’t mind, but he is feeling slightly cramped. So I am hunting in a leisurely fashion for something bigger and cheaper. Upon further inspection, in our neighborhood, it seems we can have larger but not much cheaper. Larger and cheaper but downright ugly is abound in the next neighborhood over. There is nothing historic to be found anywhere for anywhere near what we got our house for. Plus we have fireplaces and the HVAC and some room for improvement. Given a decent budget, we can excavate our kitchen outwards and actually have a decent space in the dungeon, moving the laundry down which will really open up the Pumpkin’s room. There is potential and the block is nice and quiet.

I am going to try to view two homes. One is similar but in another neighborhood and listed for about $100K lower than ours which is a big difference. Another is in our neighborhood, bigger, but looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 1970s and the facade has crazy-quilt brickwork from clearly two different periods. It would need stucco, shutters, windowboxes and a cornice to even be remotely attractive. I hope it will renew Frank’s love of our little cottage.

Unless you are a millionaire, owning a urban historic house means the rooms are small. The bigger the house means you just get more small rooms. Open plan and historic don’t really go together. I like this. It’s cozy. Frank is feeling a little claustrophobic.

This discussion is prompted by our recent house visits this weekend. One, a beautiful renovation with all the luxuries anyone could ask for that I will be writing about this week. Two, a really neat wide row house built in 1880 that faces a garden. It was completely original, which means it’s a wreck of a house with a collapsing, cantilevered bathroom to boot. Frank wins the gold prize for guessing the listing price of $180K. I would love to buy and renovate said house. Even putting in $100K puts it cheaper than our house and comps in the neighborhood list for $350K. However, we just don’t have the capital or time to do such a thing. Crap. Three, looked fab from the outside, with historical marker and everything. But inside, Boogie Nights redux. The seventies were just not kind to domestic architecture and Brady Bunch and Colonial just don’t go together as wonderfully demonstrated in that house. I made some new row house buddies, which is always nice.

I love houses, even the funky ones. So much color, texture and diversity. I love all the different brick patterns. I love the look on people’s faces when they really fall in love with a house. I think I am a good enough listener to make good connections between people and houses. I love the idea of not being stuck in a cubical. I am really seriously considering a change in career, even with the market being in the dumpster.

7/25 – Defunking and Purring Along

Ok, back to managing life. Still employed and actually making good progress. The budget is in order. The Pumpkin is almost acting human. Frank is more or less a happy camper and the house is still standing.

Disclaimer — My home computer keyboard types weird and gets stuck. I am tired of going back so I’ll just leave the typos in.

Had a wonderful interview this morning at a beautiful row house. Not joking – it has an indoor waterfall. Article to come later this week. Then we walked down a nearby block with 1880s row houses around a central garden. I want one. Oh yes. I do. One was for sale, for $180K. Of course it had holes in the floor but it also had lovely original period details. A neighbor chatted with us for a moment and told us about the homes and how they built the 2nd floor bathrooms, cantilevered. So with cast iron tubs, by now, the extensions just fall off. Still, something about the houses I love. I think I must have a nice walk around the city and take some photos of some of the more interesting rows. Like these, and the English Garden fantasy near my office.

Just to see, I am looking at houses in Ardmore, barely the suburbs, and Manayunk, which is still in the city but a little further north. Manayunk looks like a train village, nestled on the side of a mountain. Lots of row houses from the turn of the century. Bigger with more yard and significantly cheaper. Ardmore is a nice neighborhood, just outside the city, that has twins, also decently priced, and would be a significantly shorter commute for Frank. Just in case we need a back up plan. Owning a tiny old house is not easy.

7/20 – In Which Apologize For Being MIA Now and For a While Longer

I feel like to complain is to temp fate to make things even worse. However, I feel the need to explain why I haven’t been my usual chatty self.

The job is not well. I screwed up two items. One wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t overworked. The other was unavoidable but that hardly matters. Now I get to sit on pins and needles waiting to see if either or both is enough to get me fired. Btw, I forgot to update some static pages in the craziness that is admining two sites and managing tech support for the blogs and I sent out 26 emails that said “test,” three times in unavoidable troubleshooting. The thing is I might be being hard on myself as well. I know I can do better. I expect better of myself. I am really embarrassed. I know once the duplicate work ends, I will be much more on top of everything but will I make it without screwing up further? Meanwhile, it’s a whole lot of stress for what amounts to a whole lot less compensation than I had in NY.

I do not want to talk about the dragons, however I think I know what I did wrong and will not repeat. I have other hooks circulating in the wide Sargasso seas that are the Philly employment pool.

I haven’t been sleeping well and when I finally do fall asleep, stupid Dante wakes me up at 4 am. I venture to say I am sleep deprived since this has been going on for months. Not helping. So this weekend I napped. I napped a lot. I am making sleep a priority. Dante is getting a water bottle in the face every time he meows before 6 a.m. This morning, no meowing until after 6 a.m.

We’re also facing some pretty yicky budget decisions as well. We are wondering if some things are really worth this much trouble. What do we compromise on? Trying to figure out what is for the best, just sucks.

I am really sorry to be dropping out of all social interaction but I’m so cranky and too stressed out to be very good conversation. I just feel out of sorts. I am hoping a few solid good weeks of sleep and work will make me feel better. I need to find my center and balance again.

Anyway, I do think of every one and hope everything is OK. I’m just useless right now…

7/14 – A Tuesday Tidbit

We had a lovely weekend. Saturday we did our produce shopping at the Italian Market. There is just something I love about shopping in an open air market. Makes me feel historic. I should go in costume one day. We were even able to score a reasonably priced silicone sauce brush at the kitchen gadget store.

After all the shopping I thought we’d be lazy but instead we did a marathon cleaning and got the entire place scrubbed in about an hour. Have I mentioned I love my small house?

We spent Sunday at a friend’s parent’s “country” house in Cherry Hill. Very nice, new and shiney. You could have fit our entire house, no exaggeration, in the foyer. They had a big pool that, thanks to the Pumpkin, I spent the entire day in. I got a little too much sun but not an outright burn. Just enough to be really sorry for my skin and to feel rather crappy today and yesterday.

We had a momentous occasion. The Pumpkin swam without assistance and without drowning for the first time. Yay!! Not that she’s drown before but she usually goes under. Not too many milestones happen these days so I love when she does something new and the closer she gets to swimming, the more comfortable I feel.

We got home early enough from the party to head up to the Franklin Fountain for ice cream – http://franklinfountainphilly.blogspot.com/2009/03/energy-and-persistence-conquer-all.html. I love this place. I am trying to figure out how to arrange for a steampunk ice cream social but need to figure out more to do than just ice cream. We splurged on a sundae which, considering it was enough for three people, isn’t that bad.

7/8 – A Good Neighbor Is Worth More Than Gold

The night before last, our neighbors, who’ve totally adopted us, decided to take us out for dinner. It was going to be a very, very frugal week so we were overjoyed. Better yet, they took us to Buca di Peppo – http://www.bucadibeppo.com/ – which is just about the coolest place ever. We got to sit in the kitchen which was more awesome. Then, they let the Pumpkin make her own pizza and dessert which was just awesomeness overload. We got personal attention from the manager and the chef. There was enough food for 1,800 people and it was soooo good. I have to rate it as one of the top dining experiences of my life and hands down, the Pumpkin was in a state of culinary ecstasy. We may find ourselves back next time we have guests because it’s ideal for a large group.

One of the nice thing about living in a row house is the connection you have with your neighbors. You never feel alone and when your neighbors are cool, it’s like one big happy family. I thank my lucky stars for our friends and family, because otherwise we would be screwed.

Yesterday I took the day off. Had a productive day of taking care of some medical items and had a nice mommy daughter day at the same time. For a multitude of reasons, it was nice to have a day off. Of course today has been non-stop. That’ll teach me not to check my email.

So on it goes. My doctor asks about my stress level and I just had to laugh. But I’m working through it. I can only do what is within my power to change things and then I just have to accept and adapt. I have found that there is a way to get through to a good place. I just need to take the time to find it.

7/5 – Relaxing in Middle Village

I feel like I’ve been on vacation for a week. Because the Pumpkin can run around and play with her cousin, I can sit and crochet non-stop. I got pretty far on my star afghan but had to start over because it was puckering. I fixed the problem and voila – cute star! I wish I wasn’t using such short pieces because there are a lot of joins on the one side and it looks shaggy/hairy but I wanted to use the yarn from the throw pillows. I’m going to have such a time tucking the ends in. I have promised both Frank and the Pumpkin stars of their own. The Pumpkin wants something pink and purple and Frank wants a nautical star. The nice thing about the design is that when it’s full size, you can wrap the points around you and it sort of hugs you. Anyway, as a result of all this crocheting and sitting around, I am really relaxed.

Today we have my niece’s baptism. It’s going to be a really nice family gathering day. The weather is beautiful. Not too hot, not too muggy. Just the perfect summer day. I’m sorry we have to rush home today. It’d be nice to have tomorrow off.

We found out late yesterday that the fireworks were being moved to the Hudson side. We were disappointed that we probably we’re going to see any. But, in the end, we could see some from the higher points of Juniper Park and plenty of people were setting them off right in the neighborhood.

7/2 – Yay Wednesday… No Wait It’s Thursday

Crap. The weeks just fly by. This is why I have trouble staying on top of things. I don’t realize it’s Thursday because I’m just getting adjusted to Monday. Have two days really gone by already? Things are just moving along way too fast.

We get to escape at noon tomorrow. I am so glad to be getting a jump on the drive to NY. God knows what the traffic is going to be like. I really wish Philly and NY were closer together. I can’t stand the NJ Turnpike. I think they should get rid of the speed limit altogether, like the autobahn, so that you can spend as little time driving it as possible. As it is, we’ve found a route in which we spend as little time as possible on it.

I’m making fabulous progress with the last of the data entry and blogs. Any snafus are not my problem or fault. I just have to be monitoring other people solving them. I could get used to this supervisory role. The next big project here is figuring out what to bring for snack next week since it’s my turn. I am thinking about angelfood cake, strawberries and cool whip. I’ll have to take the bus that day or it won’t make it. Or I can come up with something else.

And another project. A while back, I made these crochet sofa cushions. Well, they were a little too seventies so I made the new covers with the bee and silk fabric. So now I have all this yarn and I was trying to figure out what to do with it. Another blanket it is. So far I’m making one giant square that will go around and around. If anyone out there has any ideas or interesting patterns for a throw, please let me know. It’s not the most exciting but I didn’t have any patterns that I was really excited about lurking about in the house. I have five colors to work with.

And as an end note. I royally screwed up two dinners. One was a sausage and peppers with which my vegetarian sausage failed miserably. The other was this lemon chicken which was so horribly sour, no one could eat it, not even the cats.



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