Thursday, July 29, 2010

Random Acts of Thursday - Still Old After All These Years

I am old.  What's worse, I feel old.  Until this week, I've been able to live in grand denial about my age, 39 being one of the mystical non-ages.  I ignore my crotchety old man tendencies, and still don't leave the house in shorts and black socks, I'm not perfecting a comb-over, and I rarely yell at those damn kids to stay off my lawn.

And I'm not a pop-culture junkie when it comes to celebrity news and such, not at all concerned about LiLo's 24-hour suicide watch or what Mel Gibson has to say to you, me, or the mother of his child.
But I had to shudder when I saw the most recent cover of AARP magazine.  Valerie Bertinelli looks good.  Very good.  One might have a difficult time believing she's 50.  (One might also have a difficult time believing she used to be married to Eddy Van Halen...)  She was one of my few childhood celebrity crushes, and I'd watch 'One Day At A Time' religiously, probably not understanding most of the jokes, but really, really liking Barbara.
These types of crushes are not people you want showing up on the cover of AARP magazine.  Not even on the swimsuit issue.

I know, you just shuddered at the thought of that issue.  Or at least I did.

AARP magazine should be featuring active seniors like Betty White, Orville Redenbacher and Morgan Freeman.
See?  This looks right.  But not Valerie Bertinelli.  Can't accept it.

Bo Derek?  Maybe, since she's been an adult the whole time I've been aware of women, but I don't see her lining up for the early bird special or wintering in Sun City, Arizona.  But Valerie?  Certainly not.  No, Valerie should remain ageless, thus allowing me to imagine that I am ageless as well, that I have all my hair and that the paunch isn't nearly as pronounced as it looks from this angle.

Other crushes are rapidly approaching the half-century mark as well.  Phoebe Cates? 47.  Kristy McNichol?  Almost 48.  Tatum O'Neal? Nearly 47.
I guess I just need to take this 'old age' thing one day at a time.  Maybe that swimsuit issue isn't as far out as I thought...

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Great Wall of N

I like older homes, homes that have some character to them. I understand that 'character' usually means 'expense', and sometimes means 'big mess'.

When we moved to Florida, we rented a newer home, with a contemporary layout. This meant that all of the main living area, while technically divided by a half wall, was really one big room, and the secondary bedrooms and garage combined occupied less square footage than the master suite. Really. I could have stored the Spruce Goose in our master bedroom, and yet we had to walk sideways through the garage if we ever parked a car in there. Our neighbor would work on his truck at three A.M., and one time while I was on the road for work, the alarm system, which we never activated or armed, went off early one morning until Lori was able to rip the plug from the wall. Our yard shared its rear boundary with an open road where teens would drag race in the wee hours of the morning, because somewhere along the way, Floridians decided they no longer wanted big, private yards.
In contrast, the first home we bought after we were married was built in 1952 by Lori's grandparents. It was a beautiful home, with proper scale, division of public and private spaces, and views of the lake. It killed us to sell it. However, when we'd get a heavy rain, the window wells would fill up at the back of the house and flood the basement since the yard was dense clay sloped to the house. There was a fair amount of asbestos in the flooring, which wasn't an issue unless you ripped it up. We did. But the windows were original to the house, and better insulated and less drafty than newer replacements ever could have been. In winter, our roof was the only one in the neighborhood with a perfect blanket of snow instead of long icicles and patterned patches of bare roof. On those cold winter days, I chopped wood and we cozied up by the fireplace. We had great neighbors, every one of them. And it was home.

The next home we purchased, in Florida, was built in 1971. Again, the rooms were properly scaled, you could sit and read in the living room without being blown out by the television in the family room and the private spaces were separated from the public spaces. The public spaces all faced the side and back of the home, so there was never that 'on display' feeling that you get with some homes. And it wasn't perfect, but we did things to make it ours, made plans for additional changes, planted trees and flowers and had a certain level of home-y comfort surrounding us. The neighbors who made an effort to interact were great neighbors. It was 'home', for lack of anything better. But some of you may remember last December's plumbing fiasco. There went the Christmas budget.

Now in Ohio, we're renting again. The home was built in 1966, but refurbished before we moved in. It feels like home. Same pattern as above, separation, privacy, et cetera, nice yard, nice neighbors. We've done a little landscaping to make the front of the house more inviting, make the rear deck lush. We've bought other little things to make the house feel like ours.

But the deal with renting, the BIG deal, is all the little things. Our landlord is engaged, responsive, and seems to have a vested interest in our residential experience. The work he had done before we moved in was impressive. And when our wall oven died, when it just wouldn't light after 44 years of dutiful service, he had a service tech at the house that week. When it was determined that parts no longer exist, a new wall oven, an unusual and non-stock size was ordered. And when Jim and Jim showed up to install the new unit on Saturday, he was there as they finished to check out their work and settle their bill. He was there to call the landscaper, when the lawn wasn't coming in like he expected. He was there to call his handyman when an outlet proved to be dead. And all of these things come along with my monthly rent.

Sure, I enjoyed home ownership, but many of the aspects I enjoyed don't require ownership.  I mow my lawn, because I enjoy it. We planted plants and a Japanese maple because we like those items and it makes it feel more like home to us. We put up drapes, we're hanging pictures, I ran cable to the family room for our television, but in the end, any investment we make in our home now is our choice, and any of the big things can be deferred to a higher power. I don't have the stress of unexpected costs like the oven dying or a clogged main sewer line or a hailstorm ripping off shingles or the garage door coming off the track.

Because that's what rent is for.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Hair Apparent

Yesterday would have been Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón's 103rd birthday.  (Thank you, Google!)  And sure, she was a fantastic painter, surreal, edgy - especially for the '40's - and unapologetic.  But really, whenever you think of Frida, you think of the unibrow.  Admit it.

In particular, I always think of this painting.

Or at least I did.  It made me think of Willie Nelson.  Now I'll be fighting to keep this one out of my brain:

So it goes.

In other news of the hirsute, this guy just turned down $1 million for solving a math problem, just because he used another mathematician's work as the basis for his final solution.
In case you were worried, let me just remind you that not all mathematicians look like that.  Some of them look like this:
And even if she did rock the U.B. she'd still be hot.  AAAhhhhnd, with that picture, I have just quadrupled the number of hits this post will receive.  Don't you just love math?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Love, American-Style

Has it really been almost two weeks since I wrote to you, kiddoes?  Probably, kids.  Life moves pretty fast.  I passed my one-year Blogiversary without fanfare, but I think 234 posts in 365 days is pretty good, for me. 

Now, in the summer of my discontent, I've been spammed, my punishment for paying little attention to you, dear readers.

But oh, what a holiday weekend it's been!  Plantings, big and small, have adorned our little abode and made it a little more 'ours'.  We have a Japanese maple again, and I'm thrilled that thanks to the graft, we actually have two different varieties of these beautiful trees.  Flowers in pots and boxes, red, blue, black and white, brown and yellow.  Discovered baby rabbits under one of the carefully planted shrubs around our house, explaining why the Dammit has been so interested in that side of the deck.

Took the bikes out, and lo and behold, HILLS!  Curving roads, and more hills.  Things...To...See.  Llamas (which are quadrupeds, and live in large rivers like the Amazon...), barns for sale, streams and falls and classic cars.  Really should get it titled, like soon.

Fired up the grill not once, but twice.  Tuna and summer squash on the patio last night, with cherry pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert.  Tonight, ribeyes and corn enjoyed in air conditioned comfort, because I never adapted to the heat during our stay in America's Wang, and we finally toasted the giant marshmallows I bought just for being giant marshmallows.  That was quite the sticky mess, but once a year is good for me.  This doesn't mean I don't have room for more pie, calling to me from atop the cabinet. 

Last night we walked to the town's fireworks display.  We were going to drive, until I saw people parking in front of our house and walking from even further with their blankets and chairs.  The walk wasn't as far as I'd expected, and we enjoyed what was undoubtedly one of the best small-town displays I've ever seen, sitting on our blanket and staring at the clear night sky filled with all manner of shapes and colors to the accompaniment of Sousa marches.

So it was a good weekend all around.  One might say I loved it.  Here's hoping you enjoyed yourselves, as well, and that you finished the weekend with as many fingers as you had when it began.

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