Sunday, September 27, 2009


The For Sale sign went up in front of our house a few days ago. Yesterday our real estate agent told us about a call he received:

Caller: "I'm calling about the house for sale."

Agent: "Which one?"

Caller: "The one with your name on it?" (chuckles)

Agent: "The house on 12th?"

Caller: "Yeah, why are they moving?"

Agent: "Well, they're just ready for something bigger."

Caller: "Oh. I don't want them to move."

Given our agent's description we knew exactly who the caller was: our 140-year-old next door neighbor, who shares his tomatoes, climbs up his ladder to help us harvest plums, and who lost his wife about a month ago. While he's a man of very few words, I guess he's likes us as neighbors as much as we like him.

Meanwhile, we're putting in an offer on this house abut 6 blocks away. The seller went bankrupt, so our offer has to be approved by the court, hopefully by midweek. Crossing fingers!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Unraveling the fetal position

I started writing this garbled, stressed-out post yesterday about buying and selling houses, but since I wasn't quite coherent, I gave it up. Now I have some clear perspective on that matter, and on its context in life.

Part I
We are selling our house. We are hoping incoming first-time buyers taking advantage of the current tax credit will jump on our house with enthusiasm...or so says our real estate agent, who seems to be right about quite a lot of things. While scrambling to get our house ready to list and show in the next week, we've also just dipped our toes in looking for a new house and -- BAM, The Opportunity comes along. It's a not-quite-complete remodel, way under our price range, nearly 3x the size of our current home, 1925 Tudor, and dead center of our life in West Seattle, geographically speaking. The banker started crunching numbers on something called an FHA(203)k, which gives us a new mortgage plus some cash to complete the remodel. As soon as it was approved (bless him, working this Sunday morning), we learn the seller (bank repo) will not entertain contingent offers. Damn.

Meanwhile, and against my better judgement, I started to get really attached to the idea of this house (the space! the price! beautifully remodelled!) and really unattached to other things in our price range (why up our monthly mortgage payments that much for just a little more space?). Sigh...the house will very likely be gone by the time we have an offer.

Part II
I went to cheer for Team Stomp This today, day 3 of the 3-Day Walk. Incredible, inspirational...more than 2,000 people gave up 3 days to walk 60 miles for breast cancer research. And Ms. Stomp This herself, Sheila, was right there, beautiful big smile, spring in her step, even though this has been the most physically and emotionally harrowing year of her life. We cheered, were teary and huggy and wired on the good juju fueled by the event, not to mention that she only had less than 4 miles to go to the finish line.

Among the walkers were a few firefighters who had committed to walking in full fire paraphernalia. While I read about this in the paper, it wasn't until I was standing in the sun for an hour that I realized how uncomfortable and exhausting this must be for these walkers. But there they were, walking by, one of them carrying an axe. I hope they were drinking a lot of water.

Anyway, what all this reminded me about is what's really, health, family, good friends, fun, challenges, taking risks and care of each other. There will be lots of houses eventually dubbed The Opportunity, but there is only one Sheila, and one son Ollie squirting the walkers with water as they walked by, and one husband Jason keeping everyone up to date on when and where to cheer. And there are just a handful of firefighters crazy enough to walk 60 miles in the heat in their black, fire-retardant suits and heavy sloping helmets for a good cause.

So I will uncurl from the fetal position, wait for the right house to come along, and be grateful...for so many things.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


We went to see Julie & Julia tonight, which was truly delightful, and inspired a lingering appreciation for...1950s-era pumps!

Bruno Magli's Aulia

Taryn by Taryn Rose's Candid

Pour La Victoire's Jacqueline

As for Ray, I think he's still thinking about Bœuf Bourguignon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Birthday appointments

I hate it when I get out of sync with blogging. It's like how other people feel when they haven't gone to aerobics in a few weeks. Heck, it's how I feel when I haven't gone swimming in...awhile. Must rectify.

This week I've been thinking about a couple of things, but nothing terribly pressing: selling/buying new house (not pressing, but big), scheduling subjects for study that wraps in less than a month, configuring new laptop for lab, realizing that I think my data analysis so far is actually (dare I say it) meaningful, blaming fake sweeteners for bad mood on Monday, and thinking about how I'm going to celebrate my birthday with a much needed day OFF.

This shouldn't be a matter for much contemplation. Lots of people take days off, especially on their birthday. I am notorious for scheduling myself out of time off with what seems, at the moment anyway, urgent business. I once had a 2 week vacation that dwindled down to 3 days because I thought I was needed elsewhere. This is hogwash, and a bad habit. I need to be nicer to this year it's going to be different. I am going to trick myself into a day off by scheduling my day with things I want to do. And it's all going into my calendar, so when I try to schedule a meeting or project or whatever, I'll be like, "Ooh, looky here, I guess I'm all booked up that day."

Here are some preliminary thoughts on birthday "appointments": early swim in Lake Washington, drive to Salish Lodge for pancakes or stand in line at Salumi for lunch, massage, facial, matinee...ah, I had another thought when I began this post and now I've forgotten...go to Le Panier and write a short story while people watching, take a fun and frivolous one day class (on what I don't know). Make a movie, visit 5 places that begin with the letter M, take a photo every hour on the hour...something fun and silly and slightly creative.

"Appointments" cannot be anything on the run-of-the-mill to do list, no household projects or shopping or errand running, but fun or engaging experiences, outdoors if possible, maybe a beautiful drive, relaxation required, 99% laptop free, and no cancellations.