flexagon: (racing-turtle)
I just commented on [livejournal.com profile] silentq's "Elements of home" post from 2001, and it made me realize how not in that nesting mode I've been for the last four years or so. (I always remember when we bought this place, because it's when I was ramping up for my first promotion at work).

We loved this place because we didn't have to do much upon moving in, and wow we really didn't. I'm looking back and around now, taking stock of what we did do:
  • Thicker coat of polyurethane on the floor (before moving in)
  • Ran electricity to the basement (likewise)
  • New coat hooks, new light fixtures in most light boxes
  • New window treatments for some windows... I guess we had super generic Venetian blinds before
  • Painted the bedroom a dark red color, which we find soothing
  • We're working on better insulation in the attic, though it's going slowly

This is really a short list, compared to the big projects we did every year at our last condo. For a while we kept thinking about painting the walls here, which are a very light cream color (and custom mix, damn it) when we might prefer something cooler-toned. But we couldn't agree on any color, and gave up.

I miss our old porch and so do the kitties, but that's the only element of home I'm really missing, I think. I've kind of stopped daydreaming about the incredibly high-maintenance stuff like walls that are aquariums, and outdoor fountains, and super-custom bathrooms (gut renovating one was enough). Maybe someday I'll turn my attention back toward homey things, but not today.
flexagon: (free-nique)
We sent off a wire transfer for $70K and change this morning, and with that our mortgage is officially paid off. And with that, I'm debt free for the first time since this day in early 2004 when we closed on our first condo.

As most of you know, I hated being in debt, so this is awesome. Owning our home free and clear means my required expenses (and [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug's) just dropped through the floor; there's really only property tax and utilities and food, now, if it were to really come down to it. Of course, it hasn't come down to it. In real life I will be pleased to continue my discretionary spending (circus school!), and I'm just going to increase my savings rate by the amount of my old mortgage payments and be pleased at having one less transaction to participate in every month. Real life... it's not so bad, some days.
flexagon: (Default)
Last week's contractor work, which is actually not over yet, resulted in quite a lot of grunge yesterday. It went like this: the contractor took away the considerable pile of cabinets from out there, and offered to take away any other cardboard boxes for recycling while he was taking the cabinet boxes. We dug in and offered up a pile of boxes, in the meantime producing some tremendous yellow bags full of Styrofoam that had been in the boxes. Not many places will recycle the stuff, but I figured out that a local startup was doing an EPS collection last Saturday. So on Friday we lugged the tremendous bags in to work, where a nice coworker took them the rest of the way to Framingham in his car. And with all THAT stuff gone, it started to seem sensible to get into the garage and do a real clean-out...

Yeah, right.

I thought we didn't have much in our garage (I had even patted us on the back a few weeks ago for having space available for all those cabinet boxes)... yeah, right.

Eight big garbage bags (plus one heavy-duty contractor bag) later:
  • The spider situation in the garage isn't as bad as I thought. They mostly invade the very front.
  • We had nine bags' worth of trash in our not-so-full garage. Plastic, rags, sawdust, horrible old boxes, more Styrofoam and packing material, old bits of wood.... It must have seemed easier to put things out there than get rid of them, but did we really think it would be easier later when the things were grimy and disgusting?
  • We left big piles of pesticide-filled sawdust out there for a while. To be specific, either three or four years. I don't know what we were thinking.
  • We had pieces of a broken-down wooden ladder we found on the side of the garage when we moved in... six years ago. I pried them apart with a claw hammer and that's what's in the contractor bag.
  • We have a box of really old wood stain, finishes, thinners and unidentified liquids that will have to be lugged across town on Household Hazardous Waste Day. The next one is May 8. Calendar entry created. :P

Out of all this, some good has come:
  • It's clean now, and holds no more mysteries. Six years of bad karma vaporized!
  • I'm sure now that one thing in the garage is mine: my bicycle. Acceptable. :)
flexagon: (Default)
We closed on our refinance yesterday morning -- my second closing ever. I first wrote to the mortgage broker on 2/23, making it less than three weeks from start to finish, and it was also nearly stress-free, because if anything had fallen through, we'd've just continued as before. Here is

But, thanks to Slummerville homes holding onto their value over the last 5 years, we won big. We had 25 years to go on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage; now we have a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage with almost a full percentage point lower interest and (finally!) no escrowing of taxes. Here is what it took, for the curious:
  1. Email and then phone call with the broker, give him salary information and stuff over the phone
  2. Receive pdfs via email for loan application; sign and fax back
  3. Stay home one morning for appraiser to walk through the house (about a 20 minute process, way less thorough than a real inspection)
  4. Email with lawyers, give them insurance information via email
  5. Dig up official Discharge of Mortgage papers from when we paid off the smaller mortgage in 2007 and our bad, bad bank didn't file it as closed with the Registry of Deeds
  6. Get a bank check
  7. Get a Zipcar, drive to closing
  8. ...Profit!

Counting signatures during closing remains a fun game: this time I only had to sign 39 times, unlike the last time when I had to sign 47 times, but this time we had to sign everything with our middle initials included. Weird! But I have to say, I'm thrilled overall. I feel like we did something really productive, worked together well, and ohhhhhh yeah, we are saving about $100K over the remaining life of the loan.

Thanks again to [livejournal.com profile] motyl, who said "this is a great time to refinance, you know" over dinner a few weeks back. :)
flexagon: (Default)
What does Santa bring you? Santa brings books to me and [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug. Santa brought All Cats have Asperger Syndrome, Animals in Translation, Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy, Geek Love, This is Your Brain on Music, Musicophilia, Dying Inside, Quo Vadis... but my favorite was, wait for it, Flexagons Inside Out. Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug, you make me smile.

Dinner was beef stew along with a bean-and-mushroom dish from my newest cookbook, the Veganomicon. It was pretty tasty, and despite several people telling me the beef-and-vegan combination was weird, um, no it isn't. First, people eat vegetable dishes (often vegan) in the same meal with with meat ones all the time. There's basically nothing more normal than that. Second, the beef stew was mostly plant-based itself, with only one non-plant ingredient out of six. All in all, the only bad thing is that we ran out of bowls and spoons, since we were just finishing up a big batch of chili when we started cooking all this. The mushroom/bean dish has a lot of thyme, and of course the mycoprotein from the mushrooms, and is savory as all get-out. I'd definitely make it again.

And I'd definitely play Dvonn again, even though I can't seem to win it.

Today was chore day, undecorating, feeding and walking other people's critters, and going to the bank to get my interest rate bumped up since I now have an actual lump of coal money in my savings account there. By way of incentive, I explained to the nice young man that if this could be done, I would close out another account elsewhere and put more coal in there. And that led to a longer discussion, culminating more or less in "yes, [livejournal.com profile] flexagon knows what she is doing". Ah, the nice young men who try to be helpful despite the fact that they're seeing about 1/8 of a situation. I left him, went to Starbucks, and finished knitting up a tiny sock for the sock blocker key chain Chia gave me for Christmas.

I am reminded that someone has basically wrecked our garage door, and something should be done. Like religion, I find my brain just won't focus on it. Unlike religion, though, to my displeasure, I can not-care about the garage all I please and I'll still have a garage.
flexagon: (arty4)
Lately I've been reading House Thinking by Winifred Gallagher. It's a good book, but doesn't have amazing ideas about what to do with your place unless you're not already familiar with the kind of thinking in The Not-So-Big House and A Pattern Language. What it really adds is the idea that environment really affects not just how you feel, but in many ways who you are at any given moment and place. The main idea in house design, then, is to make each room or area not only facilitate acitivities, but facilitate you being the kind of person who is most able and happy to do those things.

One question it asks is this: why do so many Americans have unsexy bedrooms? The moment I read that line, I knew my bedroom was unsexy. What my bedroom is (and I did this myself, it took a long time and I like it, but...), is playful. It's not even grown-up playful, but 10-year-old-playing-Nintendo style playful. Here are some pictures I posted to [livejournal.com profile] saucydwellings when the paint was still drying:

bedroom1.jpg bedroom2.jpg

See? Good, but maybe not sexy. Not to mention the fact that I have all my childrens' and YA books in there (to clarify, we don't have kids; the books are mine). SIGH. Do I at least get props for the framed naked picture of me? :) Who do I want to be in my bedroom anyway?

I want to redo things this summer. So, what makes a bedroom sexy? (Assume that I'm not allowed to cover the walls in black leather, mirrors and metal rings bolted to the studs, because indeed my husband doesn't support that plan, but I do plan to repaint and redecorate.) What color are the walls? What is the light fixture like? What does it smell like? What's on the walls, what's on the dresser, and what IS on the bookshelf besides alarm clocks and sex books (which are out in our living room bookshelf right now)? It may sound a little silly, but one thing I think I want to do is cover the light switch and switch plate with velvety stuff so that there's some tactile indication of entering a more sensual zone than the rest of the house.

(crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] saucyhelp, where a longer discussion is underway)


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