Homeownership: A new era in my life.

Next Monday at 12 noon is when I will close on my first home. Possibly my last home too unless I win the lotto or something. This is it here:

Home sweet home.

It’s a three bedroom ranch with a finished basement and two and a half bathrooms. There’s a gas fireplace in the basement and a small wet bar. It’s eight years older than I am, but, unlike me, it’s in pretty good shape despite its age.

My entire adult life has been spent either living in someone else’s house or in apartments and now that I’m on the cusp of owning my own house it occurs to me that I have this odd contradiction about the stuff I own. I have a lot of stuff. A good chunk of it is still packed in boxes in the basement of the townhouse we’re currently renting until the end of May. Mostly books and kitchen stuff that won’t fit in the tiny kitchen we currently have. Also, there’s a number of additional boxes still in my in-laws basement from when we lived with them for awhile.

Some of those boxes contain Christmas decorations I received as gifts from back in my 20’s that have only seen the light of day once when I first received them and have been laying in wait for the day that I finally purchased my own house and had someplace to display them. That’s right, I have home decor that’s at least 20 years old with a few bits that are at least as old as my daughter. One is a porcellian horse drawn sleigh and another is a huge musical snow globe with a Santa in it. Non-holiday decor like some Sun/Moon/Stars wall sconces for candles are also in there. I’m really looking forward to having someplace to display them for the first time.

On the other hand there’s a ton of things I’ve never owned before that I’m going to have to purchase. Things like a ladder. At a minimum I’m going to need a step ladder and I’m sure sooner or later I’ll need an extension ladder. Another would be a lawn mower. I won’t need a huge one, but I’m going to need something unless I find a reasonable lawn care company.

I have had a dining room table before, but it was a small, round one that barely fit four people that I had to get rid of when we moved back to Canton due to lack of room for it. I’d like to get one that seats at least six people. I’ve got a power drill, but no bits for it. I may actually have to drill something in the future. I’m going to need a screen for the fireplace. It’s gas so there’s no real danger of sparks popping out, but I do have two cats that’ll be running around the joint. The fireplace also doesn’t have a mantelpiece and the more I think about it the more I think I want to add one. It’s a bit boggling to consider that I’m thinking of buying a mantlepiece.

That’s a lot of brick for what is a small firebox. You’ll note there’s no chimney for it in the first picture of the front of the house. That’s all for show.

I’m going to need to pick up carbon monoxide detectors for the first time in my life as well as replace smoke detectors from time to time. Hell, I’m going to have to learn about furnace filters and when to replace them and what size to get. I should probably buy a couple of fire extinguishers, which is something else I’ve never had to think about before.

A rake. We don’t have a ton of trees on our property, just one in the back, but it’s going to lose its leaves come fall. I have to remember when trash day is as I’ll no longer have a dumpster I can toss garbage into whenever the need arises. Also curbside recycling. Cleaning gutters will be something new for me. There’s that need for a ladder again.

It’s weird and exciting and a little overwhelming to think about. It all becomes my reality next Monday. I’m more than a little nervous about it. It’s taken me a long time, but I somehow managed to pull it off. Buying a home was one of the bigger challenges I’ve struggled with for a long time, but I believe I’ve done it without putting myself at too much risk. It’s a nice house. I’m hoping I don’t fuck it up too badly.

Mark Twain on Christmas.

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“The xmas holidays have this high value: that they remind Forgetters of the Forgotten, & repair damaged relationships.” – letter to Carlotte Welles, 30 December 1907

Well, that election didn’t turn out like I thought it would.

I admit it. Back when Trump first announced his candidacy, I thought he was mainly doing it as a publicity stunt. As he came closer and closer to winning the nomination my incredulity only grew. There was no way he’d be the nominee because the Republicans weren’t that crazy, right? Surely they were sane enough to recognize how unfit for office this man was and yet he still became their nominee. I got a little worried then. Not too worried, though, because there was a part of me that still couldn’t believe the populace would hand him the reigns to the country. Just based on some of the horrible things he said — let alone some of his past actions — it seemed clear to me that any rational person would see this was not a man who should be President. Yeah, I can be foolishly optimistic at times. To the point that it can override my natural tendency towards cynicism.

So, I wake up yesterday and Donald Trump is President-elect. My first thought was: “Well shit.”

I often annoy my wife by trying hard not to speculate on what other people’s motives are. I try very hard not to assume I know why two people are fighting or who is right out or wrong unless I have a great deal more data than I usually do. Why did so many people vote for someone I find personally reprehensible for President? Someone who might do damage to our country that could take decades to undo? I’ve heard all sorts of reasons. Any and/or all of which might have been why. My natural inclination is to think we’ve all lost our goddamned minds, but I know that’s not really true. I don’t know that I’m smart enough to puzzle out the answers and there are others already analyzing the hell out of this election that are better qualified to pontificate on it.

What I do know is that this is the reality we live in now and we’re going to have to deal with the good, bad, and ugly as it comes along. There are a lot of people that are scared shitless right now — minorities, LGTB, etc. — and with good reason given some of of things the President-elect has said he will do. I can’t change the election, but I can do my part to try and stop the damage this administration may try to do. I’ll be reupping my membership in the ACLU for starters (https://www.aclu.org/) and I’ll be donating to a few other organizations when I can. Groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (https://www.eff.org/) and Americans United for Separation of Chuch and State (https://www.au.org/).

I’m also going to try and keep an open mind about President Trump. I don’t know that he fully understands just what he’s gotten himself into and I hope — that small knot of optimism again — that once it starts to dawn on him that it’ll sober him up a bit. I even dare to hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, it’ll make him a better person and a not-entirely-terrible President. My inner cynic laughs at the thought and I’m not one to buy into miracles, but I was so wrong about how this election would go that I cannot ignore that I might be wrong about how the resulting administration will turn out. Right now, hope is all I got so I’ll cling to it.

That said, you can bet your sweet ass that if he does turn out to be as horrible as I fear he will be that I’ll be blogging about it. I’ve not been as active on here since Obama got into office whereas I was all over Bush’s shit. If nothing else good comes from this at least it may be the catalyst that gets me back into blogging regularly once more. I’m not planning on packing up and fleeing to another country. This one is as much mine as it is anyone else’s and it won’t progress from my turning tail and running away.

For now I’m going to try and focus on the good stuff in my life. Friends and family and the upcoming holidays. There’s still lots of things in the world that make life worth living. Yeah it’s that old hoary chestnut of counting your blessings, but it does help sometimes. Shit is probably going to get rough in the near future and I will deal with it as I see it coming down the pike and I’ll try to help others along the way.

Until then, there’s this:

bublecorn

Welcome to Autumn.

Yesterday was the fall equinox which means summer has officially ended. I used to mark the passings of the seasons with an annual post, but I’d fallen out of the habit. I’m a day late with this one, but better late than never, right?

Personally, I’m ready for fall as this summer has been somewhat brutal temperature-wise here in Michigan. Right on cue the forecast for the next week has us at 70° or under for highs and the lower 50s to upper 40s for evening temps, which’ll make for nice sleeping weather without the A/C going.

So in celebration of the new season I thought I’d dig through my pics for a nice autumn shot:

les-fall-2009

I really like this pic, but it’s from 2009 so it’s not really representative of how I currently look. Also shorter beard and less gray and also leaves haven’t started turning yet, but what the hell. I look good in it.

The only pics I have from around this time last year are a couple of shots from a fire drill at work that aren’t particularly autumn-ish. There’s also a pic of an autumn moon as I was leaving for work that is mostly darkness so we’ll have to make do with the above. Hard to believe that’s from seven years ago. I look so much older today:

What the hell happened to me?

What the hell happened to me?

If I ever meet the person that came up with coffee cake…

… I would give them a big kiss on the lips. It’s brilliant. Cake you can eat with coffee at breakfast time. That’s a man and/or woman who said “Fuck your conventions! I WANT CAKE FOR BREAKFAST!”

Mmmmmmmm. Coffee cake.

Mmmmmmmm. Coffee cake.

 

I had a perspective shifting experience the other day.

When I was a kid we lived next door to an older couple we knew simply as the Walkers. I have no idea what Mr. or Mrs. Walker’s first names were in part because I didn’t know much about them in spite of living next to them for almost two decades of my life. In my mind they were ancient, but I’m guessing when I was a young boy they probably were in their late 40’s or early 50’s. I know they had a granddaughter who would visit from time to time. Mr. Walker would sometimes sit out on his porch and get mad at us neighborhood kids for making too much noise while he was trying to listen to the Detroit Tigers game on his portable AM radio. Beyond that they could’ve been a husband/wife pair of serial killers for all I knew about them. What they did when they disappeared into the recesses of their home was a mystery. I always assumed they watched whatever shows old people watch and do whatever it was old people do.

We moved into a new apartment last May and many of our neighbors have kids several of which are of the same age I was back when I lived next door to the Walkers. I’ll say hello in passing, but generally I don’t interact with my new neighbors all that much. The kids always reply with that unsure-why-that-old-man-is-talking-to-me hello that kids use. Occasionally I’ll engage in some small talk with the parents, but overall I don’t detect a lot of interest in their getting to know me so I keep it to trivial pleasantries and move on.

The other night I was passed by the kids as they ran around playing and it brought back memories of my own youth. The commute home is not short so I usually make a stop in the bathroom and on washing my hands I saw my reflection in the mirror and was slightly startled to see how old I am. I’m 48, but I don’t always think of myself as 48. I still think of 50 as a long ways off unless I really force myself to realize it’s less than two years away. There’s a lot of grey in my beard and my face is showing more wrinkles every day.

As I stood there boggling at the face staring back from the mirror I realized that I had become Mr. Walker. The old fellow you occasionally see wandering from his car to his front door or vice versa. I wondered if the kids in the area looked at me the same way I used to look at Mr. Walker. What do I do in that apartment I rarely come out of except to go to work? I wondered if they’d be surprised to know I would be sitting down to play Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for longer than I probably should that evening.

For all I know, Mr. Walker did some amazing things in his home. Maybe he was an inventor tinkering away in his basement trying to come up with the next big thing. Or perhaps he enjoyed carpentry as a hobby and made really nice furniture in his spare time. Or he might’ve been playing games on his Atari 2600.

Eh, he probably watched reruns of Matlock.

I still don’t get poetry.

I’ll be 48 this year and I still don’t understand any poem more complex than the ones about that fellow from Nantucket.

That’s all I wanted to say.

Jasper doesn’t appreciate your sniffles.

Our emergency backup cat, Jasper, gets really upset whenever someone sneezes in his presence. Normally he’s not very vocal, but he’ll bitch up a storm if you sneeze and he’ll grumble if you sniffle. I’ve been trying to catch this on video for some time now and I’ve finally got a little footage of it, though he’s much more subdued than usual in this clip.

He’s hard to hear in this, but you can see he’s vocalizing and getting annoyed with my sniffles. At the end he’s figured out that I’m faking my sneezes to get him to react.

There have been occasions where I’ve been in the basement and sneezed and he’s run down the stairs from the main floor just to bitch at me about sneezing. He also tends to get upset when I get frustrated with a video game and let a cuss word fly. It’s hard to catch it on video because by the time I realize I’m about to sneeze I’ve already done so and the moment has passed. I’ll try to get a better clip in the future.

Why does it seem like…

Status

… in the week before my annual 3 week Christmas vacation every single user who wants me to touch their keyboard is in the middle of a raging cold from the pits of Hell? I don’t normally use hand sanitizer, but it’s been getting a workout this week.

For the first time in my entire life I’ve finally had a Halo Burger.

itssundayfuckit

I couldn’t find anything related to food or nostalgia so… fuck it.

I’ve lived my entire life in Michigan. When my grandparents moved from Rochester Hills to West Branch our occasional trips to see them went from being around a half hour drive to almost 2 hours. When my Aunts and Uncles moved to Grayling that was another half-hour tacked on. Needless to say, many a Friday night/Saturday morning was spent sitting in the back of the car/van staring at the scenery as it went by and making note of familiar landmarks as a way to judge how much longer we had to go. The most common landmarks were, of course, billboards. Some of which never changed much such as the couple we’d pass advertising Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland and the ones for Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn restaurants in Frankenmuth.

Inevitably one of the billboards we’d pass, usually around Flint, was for a Halo Burger restaurant. I can remember seeing billboards for it on the way up as well as back down again and in my 47 years I’d never been there. Today on the way back from my mother’s house we saw a sign for one just off the highway and I figured it was about time. So we dropped in for lunch and… it wasn’t bad at all. Prices were reasonable and in addition to the usual arrangement of hamburgers you’d expect at a burger joint, they also had a couple of unique options like their olive burger. A burger that — in addition to mayo, ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, and tomatoes — has olives on it, natch. Apparently they’ve been around since 1923, which explains why I’ve seen billboards for them my entire life. Another restaurant that I can remember seeing billboards for on those trips, but have never eaten at, is Fuddruckers. Though they’re a relative newcomer having only been around since 1980 when I was 13. Much like Halo Burger, every time I see a Fuddruckers billboard I wonder what it would be like to try it out.

It’s weird to be aware of something like a restaurant for such a long time without actually ever visiting it. I think that’s why the Sonic commercials bothered me so much when they started showing up in Michigan well before any actual Sonic restaurants. Or at least any I was aware of. Eating at Halo Burger was oddly nostalgic for being the first time I’d ever been there because I’ve known about the place for so long. I can’t say it was such an excellent dining experience that I’d seek one out again, but if I happen to be passing by the one we stopped at and I was hungry then I wouldn’t pass it by.

Does anyone else have things like that? Things that have been around forever in your state that you’ve never been to, but you think about every time you pass a billboard for it? Or this just something weird about me?