21 August 2010

The porch.

The back, screened-in porch, that is. We actually have two porches, the wide, welcoming front one, and the tucked-away back one. While I love the openness of the front porch --- nothing says "Come in!" in like a one-step-up, as-long-as-the-house kind of porch --- the Southern situation of 808 Bolling means we get a lot more use out of the screened-in porch off the kitchen.

Also, one cannot wear pajamas on a front porch for all of Belmont to see.

This is my favorite spot. I can curl up and take a nap here. Also good for latte-drinking.

Belle gave me this for my birthday. C'est charement, n'est pas?

I keep my watering can by the door, so I can easily pick it up on my way out to the garden. (By the way, I told my beau today, "I must get my seedlings grown up by the first frost." I felt very much like a pioneer prairie girl.)

05 July 2010

Best friends.

Meet Foxy and Harold.

Foxy and Harold came to live with us about a week ago, right after the thunderstorm of the season hit Charlottesville. It knocked out power for 43,000 residents, totaled my friend Ben's car, and was Death with His Scythe for several hundred trees. It was upon one of many dead limbs that I tripped, face-planting into the sidewalk, and with scraped hands and knees and a gashed ankle limped into work.

My beau not only bandaged me up, but then later took me to my favorite Charlottesville store, O'Suz, for a cheer-up present.

There we were introduced to Harold by my friend Kate. Harold is a bit of an Eeyore. But what style sense he has, with his green, knitted sweater with a pocket and brown fedora! And then Foxy found us; he is rather fantastic. He also thinks he knows a lot more about the world than he really does. But Harold is so sweet, he goes along with what Foxy says to be true.

This is why they are best friends.

Bucket is not amused by the pair. He has informed us that they get into too much mischief for his liking.

19 June 2010


Lush and red two months later than they have any right to be, these peonies were found by moi at the farmers market earlier this morning. I had gone expressly to find red flowers; I secretly was hoping for poppies. But then I spied these peonies, and I scolded myself for have ever wanting anything else.

The seller and her granddaughter proffered all sorts of wild and lovely flowers at their stand. A buyer smilingly asked the granddaughter if she were selling any fairies that morning. And a gentleman buyer, who evidently knew the family, asked of the child, "Why are you still you? Why haven't you changed into something else?" She had laughed at both.

But I won over the grandmother, asking for the red peonies. She smiled at me, a real smile, not a for-the-customer mechanism, and said the red ones were her favorite, too.

So now they reside upon our table.

I had feared putting my black-painted table and chairs in the very yellow dining room. Would they look like a giant bumblebee, and would Belle therefore refuse to ever sit and eat with us? But when I got the furniture all in, the combination reminded me of a French bistro, so that's what I'm going for with the blue-and-cream ticking and linen napkins.

I shan't use white bistro ware, but continue with my peacocks. I want to keep this slightly unexpected.

05 June 2010

la W.C.

As I (mostly) complete rooms, I will post the corresponding visual documentation. These are of the upstairs water-closet, now sporting linens made in Portugal and scooped up by 'Cole on sale at Anthro this morning.

Claw-foot tub will also get one of these:

Les jardin.

After a few good Virginia thunderstorms, the green in my (!!!) backyard is unfolding into color.

The lavender I went into raptures over on closing day.

My hydrangea blooms are funny things. You'd think those large, round clusters would be showy, but they're actually sort of shy, hiding in amongst large leaves. I had to move several aside to get this picture.

I'm not sure what this guy is called, but he's sociable, as his tendrils are trying to come inside the porch for a glass of sweet tea.

Again, don't know this bush's name, but the flowers remind me of the kind that live on the sand dunes of Sullivan's Island. I know they can't be the same --- what semi-tropical flower of coastal South Carolina could thrive in the temperate, chilly climate of the foothills of the Blue Ridge? --- but I like to pretend they are. It feels more like home.

* Can anyone tell me the proper names of my two mystery plants? I'll give you a glass of sweet tea on the back porch if you do!

* I feel like an accessory to murder. Our kind Realtor had given Akash and I a lovely, flowering basket of petunias, and after a few days of it thirsting on the front porch, I told A. to put it out on the walk during a rainstorm.

I had completely forgotten a sparrow had been nesting in its depths. The poor bird's home is now a soggy, brown mess. If there were any eggs ... but I can't bring myself to ascertain.

* I got up at 7 this morning and mowed the lawn. (I felt like my dad, getting the lawn done before it gets too hot. I even wore tube socks with my shorts. I liked it.) We bought an 18-inch Reel Mower, and I'm so glad we did. I'm not a gym kind of girl, so pushing this mower around for half an hour is good for my bony arms. It doesn't use any electricity or gas and has zero emissions, so I feel all smug about my carbon footprint. (This smugness will dissipate with the to-go cup of coffee I will inevitably buy on Monday because I will have gotten up too late to use the new espresso machine my family bought us as a house-warming gift.)

26 May 2010

Celebratory lunch

After the close of my non-homeowner life --- which went vastly more smoothly than friends had warned; we finished after 45 minutes; the title agent was from Easley, S.C., so we chatted and smiled over our shared home state --- I proposed a celebratory lunch at l'etoile, one of our favorite places for brunch. We had yet to eat there for lunch, and this meal held its own against its sister Sunday fare.

We were by far the youngest couple in attendance, and lingering over lunch in the company of Charlottesville's well-heeled retired made me feel oddly luxurious, as though I could forget I was using Paid Time Off and was instead a well-to-do young woman who naturally spent her midday meals in the finest restaurants, dressed in Anthropologie from head to toe and nibbling on smoked salmon and potato salad whilst sipping sweet tea.

Actually, we started lunch with a glass of champagne --- not sparkling wine from California, mind you, but champagne from Champagne, France. We ended it two hours later with black coffee and coconut cake. And all the while, we were seated in our own pale room, with an oil painting of the marsh at sunset above us.

After lunch, we packed up a few boxes and brought then over to 808 Bolling. I had dressed down by then, and wearing my Pumas, explored the backyard more thoroughly. So much had sprung up and out since last I had seen the yard, a month or so ago. My favorite discovery, by far, was of a bush of lavender. I went into little raptures over it.

24 May 2010

Lemon Shorts.

Some women dress for Occasions: the inevitable office cocktail parties, hallowed Christmas services, the weddings of friends and family, etc.

But the more I grow up, the more I love dressing for occasions, sans capital "O." Block party? Outfit! Tubing down the James River? Outfit! Tuesday at the office? Outfit!

Closing on my first house?


We start with a nipped-in eyelet jacket by Tabitha. I wanted a jacket or blazer for the business-y aspect of the proceedings.

This little sleeveless slip of a top goes underneath. The ruffles complement but don't compete with the femininity of the jacket.

But lest we get ahead of ourselves with the frillage, I'm anchoring this look with a pair of washed cotton trousers.

But who knows. I may wake up and throw on my trusty skinny jeans. Now, back to packing.

PS-The lemon shorts reference is to what I originally went to Anthro for --- a pair of yellow shorts and a white blouse for the moving-in day. But no shorts were to be found, so a closing outfit happened instead.

23 May 2010

Packing is not magic.

Packing has made me abandon my fidelity to Montgomery's definition of "magic." I'm now clinging fervently to Harry's. O! To wave my willowy, good for charms 14-inch birch-with-unicorn-hair-core wand with the singular wrist swish and call "pack"! (Hopefully with better results than Tonks.)

(A fourth of our book boxes.)

(Bare shelves are forlorn.)

(How many records and magazines does a household need? Plenty!)

(Funny how the light changes in a space as things are rolled up and put away.)

13 May 2010

I like big bins and I cannot lie ...

I bought this linen Jenna Rose bin at O'Suz this afternoon with birthday money from my parents.

I love it so!

It's going to live in our green bedroom and be used as a laundry basket. Since the bedroom doesn't have a closet in which to hide a plastic basket, I'll collect my dirty socks in this little charmer.

I like it so much, I may have to buy the bicycle-print one for my beau!

12 May 2010

Why Virginia?

When I was about 11, the ideas of ancestry and home became fixed notions in my little mind. Two events birthed this fixation: I read L.M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon, with its unyielding, grinding emphasis on family and pedigree, and I became aware that some of my classmates' own pedigrees outdated my own. I boasted of my great-grandparents emigrating to America in 1920, proud of my ancient lineage, till I learned the boy I hated had streets named after his family members, who founded the Southern town in which we lived. Southerners match Montgomery in their familial obsessions, and I writhed under the knowledge that I dared have relatives living above the Mason-Dixon line and could not claim a great-great somebody who had fought in The War. (For the uninitiated, not to be confused with World War II, but the Civil War, or War of Northern Aggression, as a history teacher of mine called it.)

Ancestry and home have become constant ruminations, mental themes I frequently touch and sound in my adulthood. I pore over public documents, looking for the birth record that will link me to my undisclosed past. I dream about old houses in France and forests in Germany, wonder if there are distant cousins in Poland who survived the 1940s. I shrug off the vagrant, poor Scotch-Southerners who apparently never got around to joining the butternut army. And all the while, I wish there was a place, a house, that was my family's, had been my family's, for generations. I want a family graveyard, a rose bush my grandmother planted, an archway under which a great-great-grandfather was married. A spot on a wall where my parent's height was marked out as a child.

I was born in New Jersey, but never lived there within waking memory, and shrink from the state's loud, seedy reputation. I was raised in the South, but distinctly made to feel an interloper by the authentic residents, because of my birthplace and "lack" of "Family." (And yes that capital "f" was intentional.) To sum up, I always felt betwixt and between, wholly belonging to neither.

Which is why I love Charlottesville, Virginia. Here is a pleasant mix of restless, adventurous young people from the Deep South looking to escape their ancestors' clutches, and quiet, gentle Yankees looking to escape brash, bright snow. We are the middling ones, downing our Firefly and equally eager for manners and punk shows. I haven't found an ancestral home, but I sure as hell have found a good one.

02 May 2010

Chutes & Ladders

This classic children's board game -- which, admittedly, I was not over-fond of as a child --- serves as a tidy symbol for how the house-buying process has moved in the past two weeks. We climb a few rungs upward and onward, only to slide back down the chute. For example: The closing date was moved up to May 21st, per our Seller's request. But our loan underwriter nixed that idea.

Swoosh we go!

There's a lot of swooshing in home-ownership, come to think of it. There's the small and comical, like my brother-in-law stuffing towels up his chimney to plug a draft, only to have said towels fall into his gas-lit fireplace as it was burning. These are the chutes of our favorite childhood park.

But then there are the chutes equivalent to the three-story drop at the water-park, really meant for one's father, but on which one's father coaxes your 90-pound, 14-year-old self to take a chance. *Shudder* Like my friend Erika's basement flooding the week she moves into her new house. Or my friend Mac discovering that his AC ducts are a maze of silver that does not actually push cold air through the house. Or even my grandparents' house losing part of its roof during Hurricane Hugo.

That's like having the d___'ed chute simply collapse mid-ride.

So what are the ladders of home-ownership? All the small, lovely tangibles and intangibles. Like putting a vase of daffodils you picked in some secret field on the mantel. Finding the perfect shade of deep, rich brown for a wall. Looking out a window and loving the view all the better because it is tempered by old, wavering glass. And all these actions are drawn deep and held steadfast through the knowledge that this is your place.

That would be a nice ending for this post, but since I have mentioned Mac, I want to cite something he said a few weeks ago. We were talking house-shop, and Mac said owning a house is the youngest thing he's ever done. I found this idea incredibly charming, and accurate. Buying a house has made me feel woefully young and green, more so than staying out late or going to shows ever has. I suppose because us renounced hipsters are old hands at the latter, but the former is brand, sparkling new.

24 April 2010


Apologies for my absence and the lack of house-seeking updates. We've had a medical happening, and it's been all-absorbing, even to the exclsuion of gloating over 808 Bolling.

But we're getting there.

09 April 2010

Woodland cottage?

"Woodland cottage" is one decorating theme I keep day-dreaming about. It would allow me to ...

Knock on the front door with this:

Hang my coat on this:

And then prop the door open with this:

Anthro, Anthro, and more Anthro. Crediting them so often is dull work.

Deux cadeaux

I confess there is a superstitious little corner of my soul that trembles at what I am doing: buying presents for a home that may not yet be my home. But when I see such dear things --- perfect little personalities wrought of paint or wood, ceramics or tin --- I cannot help but love them and want to give them to my home and a place within it, where they will be "worshiped and glorified."

The first gift ...

This bird feeder will jauntily adorn one of our crepe myrtles in the back yard.

Or perhaps I will sit it on a sill of the back porch.

(Thank you, O'Suz for this fat, jolly thing.)

The second gift ...

I intended to marry this doorknob to Cupboard-Under-the-Stairs, so Harry could get in and out as he pleased, but the little door has a latch, not a place for a doorknob. See? Like this:

So I'll put it with the door to the bathroom. Or maybe the back porch. Thanks again to Anthropologie!

06 April 2010


("Hillecke" map, paint, ink & wood. Rachel Austin 2007)

No visual theme for today's post, so I thought I'd feature a favored piece of art I found on etsy.com a few years ago. I wonder where it will want to live in the new house?

Akash and I FedEx'd our paperwork to USAA yesterday. The appraisal's been completed, but we haven't heard the result yet. And the current owner of 808 Bolling Ave. is dithering over how to address our maintenance requests. The toilet leak will definitely be fixed, but it looks like our best offer regarding the windows will be the promise of a carpentry lesson.

The absolute best news is that the current owner would like to close May 21, four whole days earlier than we had hoped! I've already put in my PTO request with my boss to have that last week of May off, to move and set up house.

03 April 2010

It's 6:14 a.m. and ...

I can't sleep because I dreamed we lost the house because I didn't take a mandatory math exam.

31 March 2010

Sign here.

Signing papers is harder than it looks.

First of all, there's a lot of them.

So many, you need cute tabs to organize things. These from my sticker book Tu Peux Venir Quand Tu Veux did nicely. (Thanks, Belle!)

And of course, the cat has to be nosy.

29 March 2010

Inspecting. (Now with post-script!)

"Toxicity Inspector," print, Shepherd Fairy

Akash and I have an appointment at 9 a.m. tomorrow to meet with the inspector at House No. 6. We're so excited to have another chance to prowl all over our home. We're taking the measuring tape with us. Will the piano fit along this wall in the foyer? Can Voldemort squeeze into this alcove under the stairs?

Becoming homeowners is a little like being in love; we want to see this house every day, be with it inside and out and care for it faithfully. Yet we can't -- not for another two months! Someone else stays in our house and has the right to walk where we wish to walk and look out the windows we wish to call ours. It's dreadful. And to think, tomorrow may very well be the last time we get to visit it, till the end of May.

PS-Inspection went very well! The owner was so sweet; she had baked blueberry muffins and brewed coffee for us, Shepherd, Buddy and Mike (the inspectors), and made sure everything was neat and tidy. When it's my turn to sell a home, I have a most excellent example of graciousness to follow.

We stayed nearly two hours, glorying in the house. That is, Akash and I went about glorying in the house; I think the menz merely tolerated our beautific smiles and my squeals of delight. There definitely was some bemused headshaking at our expense:

"You need to be young to deal with an old house."

"Yup. All that wind blowin' in."

"Doors don't shut tight."

"These rollnig floors are what you call 'character' in an old place. New-built, it's called severe structural damage."

Mirthful chuckles follow.

Oh, and piano and Voldemort will absolutely fit in the foyer! And I peeked under the beds to make sure they really were a double and a queen, and not twins pushed together. They were, so now I can rest easy about getting matresses upstairs.

26 March 2010

Two and two are four ...

Whew! Akash and I spent too many furitive moments in the third-floor company telephone closet today, stealing away to phone our loan processor, furiously pounding out calculations, carrying this digit, rounding that numeral, crossing them all out and starting over again.

Oh dear, here I go being an unreliable narrator again. Let me stop a moment and unequivically state that it was Akash sweating the numeric bullets today, not I. (No surprise to anyone who knows me.) I'm honestly not sure where we are in the loan approval process, but I do know we have locked in a rate. And also that insurance and taxes are not pleasant items, and they compound to create what's worth a monthly car payment, in my mind. And I'm not getting a Mini Cooper out of it, either.

I do wish Anthropologie would name a particualrly lovely blouse Insurance & Taxes. Then maybe I'd like them again.

Also, Montgmery didn't mention anything about points or interest rates when she wrote about Dad and Jane buyig a house. If I recall correctly, Dad found Jimmy John over at his farm, and paid him cash outright for Lantern Hill.