Wednesday, September 28

Fall Fashion Report

Once I had a chest of drawers, it seemed like the time had come to unpack the boxes and boxes and boxes of clothes. It was startling to see all my clothes again. There's both the comfort of seeing your old favorites again and the renewed sense of novelty for clothes you had forgotten about. I had really gotten used to wearing the same four outfits (and variations) over the last three months, and now I have a plethora of fashion options.

Somehow the contradictions in my wardrobe seem all the more apparent: half is hippie-earthmama-ethnic clothes, and half is urban-trendoid-office clothes. Neither of which seem all that appropriate for life here in Small College Town, USA. When or where will I wear all these clothes anyway? I'm working at home, so I spend most days in my comfy loungey clothes. Occasionally, I venture out to the Walmart - not exactly the catwalk.

Funny, because just a month ago, I spent every single day in my revivalizing clothes. I have to thank Houseblogs for alerting me to the need for a separate wardrobe of house restoration work clothes.

It's been tough to balance housework and workwork. I'm proud of how much D. and I accomplished in our mad rush, and I'm pleased with how the small changes I'm making now (curtains, tables, organizing, unpacking) are improving the house. But we're generally lazy folk, and it's hard for us to motivate ourselves at night and on weekends. Of course, there's a kind of vicious circle happening: our intense schedule of packing, moving, and revivalizing precluded our spending time with friends, academic research, getting settled in a new town, etc., so now we have to catch up on what we missed, leaving little time for work on the weekends. And there is always the almost-completely-full DVR calling for our attention.

That's not even including the new seasons of Project Runway and America's Next Top Model, the continuation of Project (Run)Jay, and Apprentice: Martha Stewart. Also, a new fave is Handmade Modern with Todd Oldham. I perused the book when we were in Seattle in July, and I was really impressed.

One thing I have not been lazy about is laundry. I'm so excited by our nifty laundry center and it's proximity to our hamper (down the hall in the cedar closet) that I do a load of laundry as soon as the bag fills up. D. is continually teasing me about what he considers to be an "obsession." But I'm home all day, it's easy to get up from my desk every once in a while, and it's really nice to get outside into the sun and hang the clothes on line. Yes, you heard me right. I'm not even using the fancy new dryer, because I've adapted the very lovely custom of yesteryear: sun-drying our clothes.


It's quick, easy, and energy-efficient. And once, when the neighbor was mowing her lawn, the curtains ended up smelling like grass. Now that's country living!

Tuesday, September 27

File Under Cockamamie

Hot on the heels of my hare-brained Kramer-esque idea of recreating the Daily Show set in our den, I have stumbled across another plan for home revivalizing that I am sure K. will be very excited about. In particular, I have been inspired by David Byrne's installation entitled Playing The Building. From the description online:

To create this various devices are attached to parts of the building structure — to the metal beams, the plumbing, the electrical conduits, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. No amplification is used, no computer synthesis of sound, and there are no speakers. The machines will produce sound in three ways: through wind, vibration and striking. The devices that are part of the piece do not produce sound on their own, but instead they cause the building elements themselves to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.

I figure that it's gotta be better than getting my inspration from "Burning Down The House" or "Psycho Killer", but my guess is that K. still isn't going to go for it. Oh well, at least I succesfully set up the stereo in the living room last night:


Now I just need to figure out where to put the approximatetly 1500 cds that we own. I am very torn on this issue, dear reader. You see, I am a music snob the kind of person who, upon visiting someone's home, takes great interest in looking through their music collection and seeing what their tastes in music are. So part of me feels that I owe it to our guests who share this trait to display my cd's in cd racks prominently in the home, so that they can try to discern everything about me from my collections of Wilco and David Mead cd's (Note to future guests: The Everclear cd belongs to K. and I have tried to get rid of it on several occasions to no avail). On the other hand, the style that we were planning to go with in the living room was more -- oh, let's say "mature" -- and less "dorm-like" than having big racks of cd's everywhere -- somehow, it seems odd to prominently display the complete REM discography between my heirloom grandfather clock and K's heirloom hope chest. So maybe I should just put some of the cd's in the drawers of this unit, and the rest in the den. I just don't know.

Monday, September 26


Okay, folks, I'm starting to develop a teeny-tiny peeve with life in Smallville. Is it that there is no Indian restaurant? Actually I'm handling that okay, thanks to strategic restaurant choices when I'm in more diverse areas. How about not being able to see Broken Flowers, Junebug, or Thumbsucker? I wish I could see those independent movies, but at least I know I can rent them someday. All hail Netflix, the savior of the geographically isolated. Or how about the fact that the $25 hairstylist really didn't do much for your glorious curls? Well, I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that.

Here's the problem: I can't find auburn mascara. I've looked at the chain pharmacy and at the chain grocery store. No dice. Just black black and pitch black with a few blackened browns thrown in.

You see, I'm a redhead. When I was young it was bright copper with strawberry blond highlights, but now it looks much more auburn. Pale skin? Check. Freckles? Check. How about invisible eyelashes? Yes, I have those too! But black mascara looks horrible on me (and I would venture to say LOTS of women). It looks harsh, and if it flakes or runs at all, it gives the appearance of awful dark circles under the eyes (even where there are none).

I was never willing to shell out the shekels for the fancy redhead mascara, but I settled for the cheap drugstore version. It seems like such a simple thing, to find a national brand mascara in a chain drugstore. It's not like the fact that I can't find my all-organic skin care line or the organic deodorant that I like. Those gaps seem reasonable, if not to be expected, even with our lovely health food store.

The thing that really worries me about this is the long-term effects. Not for my eyelashes or my armpits, but for my cultural savvy. For two months, it's okay that I missed some edgy films and haven't eaten Palak Paneer. But what happens over time? Year after year of not knowing what films have come out, of not trying new restaurants, of not having any access to anything NOT designed and marketed for mainstream America. You can order almost anything on the Internet, but what about when you don't even know a product exists? Or you've never seen a style to know to look for it?

Will I eventually become a country mouse Van Winkle, one of those people walking around with a feathered-back hairstyle and heavy-black mascara who has no clue what's happening in the cultural world?

Sunday, September 25


In the the last month, one of my best friends, M., has gotten engaged, bought a house with her wonder fiance, and have sold the two houses they owned separately. Not to mention planning a wedding in December. No small feat, eh? Well, these two are a Power Couple. They have intense jobs that require long hours and travelling. But I think when you're as happy as they are to get married and live together, you get it done.

Best of all, this dear friend lives closest to Smallville of all my friends from college. We've been planning a get-together, but we've all been a tad busy. This weekend, we finally found an excuse to see ach other! She is such a devoted reader of Revivalized that she realized we were banging around a big old empty house with very little furniture. She offered us the furniture they don't need for their new house. How generous and amazing is that?

We delude ourselves into thinking we were doing her a big favor, but clearly we got the good end of the deal. Like a gorgeous, dark-finish armoire that we're thinking might hold the stereo in the living room:


And a lovely, warm entertainment unit we're using to hold bed linens so we would actually have a second piece of furniture in the bedroom:


A very very useful Ikea dresser for my side of the cedar closet means I can finally unpack some of my boxes of clothes:


This nifty, 1980s-style, modern-meets-country kitchen table is now my inheritance from M's amazing mother (hey, how do you think my friend got so cool? It's not just by accident.):


Putting that set in the kitchen bumped the junky, free 1950s table to the upstairs laundry room, where I've needed someplace to fold clothes:


How cool is that loot? It seems like, despite the lag in revivalizing now that D is working again, our house is slowly becoming more and more livable. The kind of place where we could have friends visit for the weekend.

So we just want to send a big old shout-out Thank You to Sweetiebombs. And wish her and Scootie all the happiness in the world.

Friday, September 23

Your Moment of Zen

One of the divides between me and K. when it comes to home decor is that she seems to like big ambitious projects that end in big ambitious decorations, and I...well, I'm a lazy bum. And not only that, but in general I am a cheap bastard, so I tend to zone out as soon as she starts talking about custom-built bookshelves or the fancy armoires that she has found on the web. But today, while my students were taking an exam, it was my turn to surf the web and I found a major home decor piece that I think would go just perfectly in our den:

Yes, The Daily Show is auctioning off parts of their old set (but alas, not the couch. We actually need a couch). And, to make the whole thing better, the proceeds from the auction go to 826NYC, one of my favorite charities - and not just because the Superhero Supply Store they run is one of the coolest places around. So, if you are wondering what to get the Revivalizer who has Somethings, keep in mind that my birthday is only about 6 weeks away -- and K's is 10 months away, so you don't need to worry about the fact that she may not want to decorate our home like a late night talk show set.

What's Going On?

Well, let me tell you. I came back to find that our little refugee squash plant was taking over the entire known universe:


It's producing truckloads of little yellow pattypan squashes - yes, we're giving them away. The ones left on the vine turn a deep orange, and flatten out like squashed pumpkin. Some, on the ends of the vines, have morphed into green-striped. All very interesting.

It's growing like crazy, trying to dominate the grape vine and grabbing a hold of the buddleia, despite the fact that it has a terrible case of powder mildew. Some of the little weedy vines have it too, but surprisingly the grape seems to be pretty immune at this point.

Speaking of grapes, our grapes have ripened:


They have a wonderful, fruity-sweet Concord taste and the yard smells like a Welch's factory. We've been harvesting, so far have gotten about two bagsfull like this:


We got about a quart of juice out of that bag, which I froze. So that's what's going on - we're being productive, abundant, fertile here in the hinterlands!

Thursday, September 22

No Such Thing As A Free Cookie

My old job was at a Big Research University. And, as with most math departments at Big Research Universities in Big Cities, our department had lots of speakers coming through to give talks on various subjects, and just about everyday there was some seminar or other happening around the department. For this nominal reason (and other unspoken reasons), our department was like many others in that it had a daily tea. And every day one of the graduate students would dutifully set out cookies and teabags and hotwater and coffee and some dried fruit for the one faculty member who complained that the cookies were not very healthy. And we would mingle and play games and chat, but most importantly we would get that burst of caffeine and/or sugar that one needed to propel oneself to the end of the work day.

Now I am at a small liberal arts college, and one thing I have noticed is that there are ample opportunities to get free lunches. It seems like several times a week I have the opportunity to go to a meeting or listen to a talk or just hang out with students and someone on campus will give me all the pizza and/or chicken salad I can eat. Not only this, but every Friday afternoon there is a happy hour for faculty and staff where I can not only stuff my face, but also drink above-average beer and wine to ease into the weekend. And I don't mean to complain about all of this wonderful free food, but still.

There are no cookies. There is no tea. There is a coffee-maker in my department, but I am the only person who actually drinks coffee and I never have the initiative to make a pot just for myself. And every day around 3:30 my body starts screaming out that it needs its sugar and/or caffeine in order to propel me to the end of the day. Sure, I could walk across campus to our Faux-Starbucks, but that takes a lot of time and energy, not to mention the fact that spending $1.75 each day on my afternoon coffee seems like not such a good idea as all of the Lowe's bills roll in.

I know that in the long run either my body will eventually adjust or I will figure out a way to get through the day without that late afternoon tea, but in the meantime I find myself fantasizing about Pim's Pear Biscuits and Le Petit Ecolier... mmmmmm

Wednesday, September 21

Drip. Drip. Drip.

One of the things we have noticed here in our new hometown is that delivery people and contractors always show up early for appointments. Whether it is the floor guys or the plumber or anyone else, they all seem to show up at our house between 30 minutes and an hour before our appointment is scheduled for. Now, granted this is much better than being late or than not making appointments at all and having large windows where they "may show up between 1 and 6 pm", but it is still somewhat annoying to tell them to show up at 9am and have the doorbell ring at 8:15.

And this happened once again this morning, as our furnace guy showed up 45 minutes early, and caught me in the midst of my Raisin Bran and caught K. still asleep. I don't think we've mentioned the problems with our furnace here before, but from the very first time we laid eyes on the house the furnace has been leaking out of a valve. Now, our home inspector pointed this out, and the previous owners agreed to fix it, and they did indeed have people out who claimed to fix it. But when we showed up in July, it was still leaking. And when I say leaking, I mean that the five gallon bucket that the previous owners had set up to catch water fills up every 4 days or so. So clearly this is something we want fixed. So we called the furnace guy they had used who came back out and said that it was just some dirt which had gotten into the valve, and he cleaned it out again and said that it would now be all fixed.

Which of course it wasn't. And several weeks went by with us emptying the bucket twice a week. And then we had the guy back out, and he brought a bunch of other people who all stood around looking at our furnave and trying different things and thought that maybe possibly they had fixed it. Which they hadn't. So today they came back out and tried some more things. I'll let you know how that goes.

Now, one of the interesting questions is who is going to be paying for all of this work. Technically, we have already bought the house and so one might think we should pay but on the other hand the sellers signed a legal document saying they fixed the problem so one might think they should pay. In reality, our real estate agent told us to have the furnace guy send her the bill and they would work it out, and our guess is that she will pick up a reduced tab. Which is just one of the reasons why we would highly recommend our agent to any of you moving to town.


On an unrelated note, we had our first dinner guest over last night as I invited another new faculty member over. We cooked a delightful pasta primavera with the fresh squash picked out of our garden, and let him gush over how much he loved our house. A good time was had, and it felt like just the next step in actually establishing a life here in the community. Which is a good feeling indeed. I think we had a total of like 3 dinner events at our home in the three years we lived in our previous apartment because that is just Not Something One Does In The Big City, and I think here we should hit that by apple harvest.

Monday, September 19

Off the Shelf

For two months, since we moved into the sparsely-furnished Chez Revivalized, our mantra has been: "We can get that at Ikea." Any time we didn't have a needed piece of furniture, we'd invoke the mantra. Any time I looked at our bare windows, I'd breathe it to myself for calm. Especially if I couldn't find something in the mountains of boxes, I'd just say, "We can get that at Ikea."

Back in my heady days of reckless credit, I used to have an Ikea card, and I've been known to spend 500 dollars a pop at Ikea, without buying a single piece of furniture. That happens when you walk up to the checkout line with TWO overflowing carts of Swedish goo-gaws. My predilection for cloudberry jam doesn't help either.

I'm just a sucker for the tidy visions of domestic bliss and charming Swedish packaging. I'm 1/8th Norwegian, my great-grandfather emigrated from Vadso in the far far north of Norway. D. is 1/4 Norwegian, though you'd never know it from his black hair and olive skin. Honestly, I've got a fetish for all things Scandi. I make an annual ritual of celebrating Sankta Lucia Day, and I didn't grow up in Minnesota. One of my favorite television shows is New Scandinavian Cooking with Andreas Viestad. I dream of the day we can get to the Scandinavian countries. I first heard joiking 10 years ago, and I'm one of the only people you'll ever meet who listens to Nordic Roots music, let alone has a CD collection of it (organized by serial number, if you must know). If you share any of these interests or if you too liked Me and You and Everyone We Know, I highly recommend the film Tillsammans.

The thing is we live an hour from the nearest Scandinavian Super Store, so it's not like we can just pop in there for some meatballs. And Ikea is already an exhausting enough experience - without making a big production out of it and pinning all of your hopes and dreams for the functionality of your home on it.

So it is with great surprise that I tell you we spent a mere hour and a half in Ikea yesterday and Didn't. Buy. A. Thing. We looked, we touched, we browsed, we considered, but we didn't buy. Well, it's just an all or nothing thing. And we didn't have the time or the money (remember - no job for me yet) or the energy after a long weekend with family and friends. In the end, we only looked seriously at the Effektiv system.

We want to make the first bedroom, with the bay window, a library with built-in, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Our inspiration is these amazing shelves at Top Pot Doughnuts in Seattle:


Ever since we first saw them, before we even had a house, we knew we wanted them someday. And the fact that we could use the first bedroom as a library was one of the selling points of the house for us.

Effektiv is completely modular, so you can build it to exactly your specifications (shelves, drawers, doors, and bases). And it is a tenth of the cost of semi-custom built shelves we've shopped on the internet. That's the Ikea way, of course. And it sure looks attractive to us at this point.

We looked at three finishes - birch, oak, and antique:

I like the birch, because it is closest to the Top Pot shelves and because I was thinking we wanted a lighter, airier look on the second floor since the trim is all painted white. But D's desk is probably closer to antique, and a library is so Victorian in the first place, so we might go with that.

Building bookshelves is so appealing, because we have, like, 50 boxes of books waiting to be opened and unpacked. But they have to wait for another day (more like a month or two), because we decided to think about colors, measure the room again, envision a system we might like, and go back later to actually spend the kroner. Luckily we don't have to deal with the exchange rate.

Wednesday, September 14

Open For Business

The first night I was back, I woke up in the dark not knowing where I was. The problem: there is only a bed in the bedroom where we sleep. No furniture, nothing on the walls. We didn't even have nightstands at that point. So, inspired by the fear of living in a placeless place, I've been trying to make the second floor a little bit more livable every day.

I found us nightstands - and two separate lights in the bedroom so we can read. I removed the 40-year-old metal blinds and hung curtains in two rooms. I hung a shower curtain! We moved D's dresser into the closet. But, in general, the rooms still range from spare...

spare construction zone.


I'm sure those pictures look eerily familiar to other housebloggers. However, somehow in the midst of this emptiness and chaos, a real room developed! Even more surprisingly, it turns out to be a home office...for me!



You might recall Baubie's convertible coffee table that has now been "converted" into a desk. The chair and rug are from D's parents and were in the living room. The filing cabinets and bulletin boards are from my previous home organization attempts (only partially successful). The black wire shelves used to hold my yarn.

That's the grey "third" bedroom, the one I said might become "a guest room, nursery, or home office for K." So then, let me explain why this seems so bizarre. When I wrote that, I had no intention of creating a home office, of working at home, of being my own boss.

D. and I. had long conversations last spring - before we even knew we were moving to Smallville, and again when we were looking at houses - about the option of my becoming a freelancer. I have 13 years of experience in marketing and fundraising communications for non-profits. I could offer writing, editing, web development, publications, and planning services to clients. The benefits: allow me time to finish up school, transition to my next career as a holistic healer, and maybe even start a family. The disadvantages: well, you know this story, it's just really really really risky, financially. And that wasn't a risk we were willing to take, especially when we had not a single clue about what the market would be like in an Historic Burg like ours. So we jettisoned that idea, jumped into more debt than we ever thought was imaginable to buy our beloved home, and I threw myself into the task of finding a good, stable, well-paying, full-time job.

Which I've been doing.

I'm working the contacts, networking my little heart out, meeting people, and making connections. I am very focused on wanting a job at the college. The people there are friendly, smart, and familiar. Plus they offer outstanding benefits, including a whopping 19 weeks of maternity leave. And a $3,000 benefit for adoption. And 22 vacation days a year. Plus the week between Christmas and New Years off. Oh, and did I mention how smart and nice and friendly the people are? How about the fact that it's a pleasant four-block walk through the center of town to get there?

Meanwhile, back at the Universal Synchronicity Ranch, some deity or spirit or fate or fortune has decided that everyone should offer me freelance work! Honestly, people are throwing the work my way. No sooner do I tell people what I do than they say "Oh we really need that here." No sooner do I meet someone than they say they want to give me a gig. The projects are coming out of the rafters.

So, last week, D. and I looked at each other, shrugged, and said "Okay, let's see where this goes." And I pulled together the office that looks like it was always meant to be there. My business motto is "Make do with what you got." Very small-town, Pioneer Woman, farmer wife of me, don't you think? It's practical though. I don't want to make financial investments in this (even simple office supplies) venture until I have an idea of how well it will work.

I'm still working the angles for that plum job at the college, after all. But in the meantime, I'm not turning away the work. I'm making actual wages to supplement my beloved unemployment insurance.

Speaking of, I should actually be getting back to that paying work for clients that's making this all possible!

But, hey, drop me a line if you need any communications services. I'm Open For Business.

Tuesday, September 13

It's a Small Town After All

Some of the things I have to remind myself, now that we live in Smallville rather than Metropolis:
  • When I see someone pushing bags down the street in a grocery cart, they are not neccesarily a homeless person. They are probably just borowing the cart for convenience sake.

  • When I see a group of men on a rooftop, it is highly unlikely that they are snipers trying to protect us from terrorist attacks. They are probably just fixing the roof.

  • When I request a book from the library, there are probably not 478 people in front of me in line. In fact, I am probably next in line, as there aren't as many people knocking each other over for the next McSweeneys book here. It's very weird to be able to read these books close to when they come out.

  • I cannot go anywhere without running into people I know. People often referred to neighborhoods in Metropolis as being "like a small town" in this regard, but those people must not have ever lived in a small town, because there it felt very anonymous compared to hear. I feel guilty listening to my ipod as I walk to work as almost every day I walk right past someone who I should probably talk to if I don't want to be rude. Of course, this problem is made much harder by the fact that I am not very good at remembering names in general, and right now I am trying to memorize the names of 80 students in addition to a hundredish faculty/administrators and their significant others and children, not to mention the civilians in town who I run into. I have flashcards for my students, but I think that would seem weird for the mail lady or the tellers at the bank.

  • OK, maybe this doesn't have to do with small-town life, but it is still worth mentioning. The other day we saw some French and Indian War reenactors. Now, everyone knows about Civil War reenactors (and some of us even know people who were injured participating in such, but I digress), and I certainly have seen Revolutionary War reenactors (especially if you include the Boston Tea Party reenactments). Heck, I even read with great interest the stories earlier this summer of Vietnam War reenactors. But the French and Indian War?!? Next thing you know we'll start having people reenacting the Rwandan Genocides. Or maybe the Clone Wars. ( I'm on board as long as I get to be General Grievous...)

Monday, September 12


"This movie was inspired by the longing I carried around as a child, longing for the
future, for someone to find me, for magic to descend upon my life and transform
everything. It was also informed by how this longing progressed as I became an adult,
slightly more fearful, more contorted, but no less fantastically hopeful."

That's Miranda July's explanation for the origin of ther film Me and You and Everyone We Know. Isn't that wierd? That the movie inspired me to write about that longing feeling that I had growing up.

Thursday, September 8

My Packrat Tendencies

Um. Hi.

How are you?

So I guess we went pretty radio silent for the last ten days or so, but I promise that it's not because we don't love you. It's also not really because I have been too busy, because while starting school has been busy and crazy I would be lying if I said that I didn't have time to blog. No, I haven't posted because there really has been no news about the house even if I consider the definition of "news about the house" in a very liberal sense. Since we last wrote, I have spent the ten days teaching, preparing for teaching, driving to and from the airport, and flipping between CNN's coverage of Hurricane Katrina and DVRed episodes of Arrested Development. And while all of these things are worthy of large amounts of discussion, I discused them in other venues instead of this one.

K. was gone for awhile but now she is back. And the 20-some boxes of things she shipped from California are slowly making their way to us, via the US Postal System. We need a place to put them as they arrive, and so last night we spent quite a bit of time moving other boxes out of the enclosed patio (aka 'The Four Seasons Room') that we have been using as a staging area for the move. Most of these were boxes that went straight into the basement, as they were mostly filled with various papers and things that I/we have saved over the years because of my packrat tendencies. Some examples of the things in these boxes include:
  • All of the response cards from our wedding invitation.
  • Every issue of The New Yorker published between Febraury 2000 and July 2005.
  • A complete set of Beverly Hills 90210 trading cards.
  • My nametag from my first day of college.
  • Programs from any number of plays and concerts, ranging from the Broadway production of Titanic to a really bad Frige Festival play based on a Kelly Link short story.
  • Lyrics to a musical that a friend and I wrote in college about another friend's medical problems that included the couplet "Cleveland has the best symphony/Of any town, large or mini!"
  • Not one but two Gore/Leiberman posters.
  • Several decks of cards that are missing some of the cards yet have too much sentimental value to throw away.
  • Multiple setlists to concerts by bands such as The Nields and Squirrel Nut Zippers, several of which are autographed. Oh, and lots and lots of ticket stubs.
  • Boxes and boxes of letters written to me by various long distance friends (and yes, girlfriends) I had in high school that I met at Nerd Camps.
And that's just the start of my boxes. I guess it's a good thing we have so much storage space, eh?