Autumn HollowAutumn Hollow
Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

30 October 2005
  Look, Ma, It's Flat Now!
lot has been flattened

To answer your question, Jerry, the lot goes back to the fence. Would love to put some bird feeders in the trees.

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29 October 2005
We had a busy, busy day today, starting out with going out to Trellis Oaks to put another advance down on two things they didn't have the prices for before: the vent in James' hobby room and the extra shelves in his closet. We also went back in the Dubois model and measured the drawers in the kitchen (I wanted to see if we needed new utensil organizer.)

He went to his club meeting, I went and did some errands. Stopped at Kroger and found a pretty autumn door wreath for only $3.00 I had a Linens'n'Things 20 percent off coupon and went looking for an over-the-sink shelf. These are 6 inches wide and about 30 inches long and are useful for keeping things off that counter, like the soap dispenser. I've always wanted one since I saw it in a catalog. Linens had one for $13.99.

I handed the casher the shelf and my coupon.

She charged me a little over seven dollars, and that included tax. Guess it was on sale. Works for me!

They had several things there I fell in love with, but it's frou-frou and will have to wait. One is a reproduction phonograph that looks like it's from the 40s on the outside, and does play 78 records (also has a radio, tape player, and CD player). I do want to play Mom's 78s some day. (On the inside the turntable is modern plastic, so it doesn't really look completely retro.) They also have a reproduction 30s radio (the one that looks like the Waltons had), a reproduction old phone (one that looks like the farm telephone on Lassie), and, oddly enough my favorite, a reproduction 50s radio with the streamlined styling that's also a dual alarm clock and a CD player.

We went to Fry's tonight. They have the largest selection of bottom-mount freezer refrigerators I've ever seen. Problem is, the bottom-mounts have two kinds of doors. One is like a regular refrigerator where the door opens to one side, then you have to squat down to pull the racks out. Not easy. The easier one has the freezer shelves that come out like drawers. But those suckers are several hundred dollars more than the other. If we have to get the one with the door that opens we might just as well go for either a regular refrigerator or a side-by-side. I've always worried about side-by-sides not having enough room in the refrigerator side.

There's also a freezer we like there. It's very small, but that's all we want. The interesting thing about this one is that it has a compartment on top as well as one on the bottom accessed by a drawer.

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Our dirt pile has been transferred to Lot 12 next door!

The lot is flat and level.

The sign says "under contract."

OhmyGod, please let this happen okay. There are things I want more: I want us to be healthy. I want us to be safe.

But, please God, I really want this house. (And my mom would have really wanted us to have this house.)

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28 October 2005
  A Disappointment
Talked to Jeff [our lawyer] tonight and the estate has been opened, and he's hoping to get the papers back next week, or perhaps in two weeks.

But he's talked to Eddie, the neighbor of my mom's who was interested in purchasing the house as an investment property, and Eddie can't afford it. Sigh. This is a big disappointment. I knew Eddie would be respectful of the property and considerate of my godmother and her sister-in-law who live next door.

But one cannot argue with your budget and I understand.

My cousin Richard was also interested in the house, so I asked Jeff to call him. Otherwise we're going to have to go to a realtor and pay them their pound of flesh.

I'm a little down right now, although I can't say I didn't expect obstacles, considering our last mortgage was the nightmare from hell.

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24 October 2005
  The Curious Case of the Hole in the Wall, Coda
Evidently Gwen was able to explain to the builder what James was after, because she called this afternoon and said they could do the dryer vent. So we need to go there this weekend and sign a new amendment that adds the dryer vent and the shelving.

We're supposed to put the hardwood stairs on this amendment, too, but we simply don't have the money for them yet. Arrrgh! We have to ask about them anyway: the description says "stairs and spindles." The stairs in the Dubois model are enclosed, and we want them to stay enclosed; we just don't want carpeting on them. (That's how I fell on the stairs three years ago and tore the ligaments in my foot; I put my foot out too far and then slipped on the carpet.) "Spindles" make it sound like they're going to be open.

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22 October 2005
  The Curious Case of the Hole in the Wall
Incidentally, we had gotten a call from Gwen today asking us to come over since the builder had given her a price for the dryer vent in the wall of James' hobby room and extra shelving in the walk-in closet in that room.

When we got there she said the builder thought a dryer vent that low at the back of the house might attract "small visitors" and wondered if we wouldn't rather have exhaust fans like in the bathroom instead. He could put two in if we needed them.

I can tell the builders have never dealt with people who want esoteric oddities in their home. I'm sure most folks on the street are pretty cut and dried, with the usual furniture, electronics, artificial flowers, and, God-I-hope, some books.

James wants a dryer vent in the room because he's planning to build a spray paint booth in there. I didn't understand until I saw the thing myself; he found some plans on the Web, or you can build one yourself. It's an enclosed-on-three-sides box that mounts on a table, and inside you put a stove exhaust fan that vents through the dryer vent. This way you can spray inside without damaging anything or getting fumes in the room.

We explained to Gwen that the vent wouldn't be near the ground; in fact it needs to be about four or five feet up from the foundation. She said she'd tell the builder and see what he said.

I'm sure he thinks we're crazy... :-)

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  Let There Be Light #2
Elizabeth (there are two agents at Trellis Oaks, Elizabeth and Gwen; James keeps getting them mixed up) had told us, when we said we wanted ceiling fans in the bedrooms, that Progressive Lighting did the upgrades for the homes and that we might want to look around there to see if there was anything we liked. We tried to go last night, but they closed at six, so we stopped by today.

This place looks imposing and they get you right away by having the crystal chandeliers in the entranceway. Crystal chandeliers only remind me of my Confirmation godmother, Margaret Azzoli. She loved beautiful things and although she had a pretty little Cape Cod house one street from ours, she always wanted a bigger home with a formal dining room and a crystal chandelier in the foyer. She and her husband saved and they finally bought a stately looking colonial house on Oaklawn Avenue. It indeed had a beautiful crystal chandelier in the foyer.

After they moved in the house, though, Margaret started to suffer from ill health, and she eventually passed away only a couple of years after they moved. She never got to really enjoy it. So crystal chandeliers make me sad.

Anyway, they have rooms full of different sorts of lights in all sorts of styles from simple to elaborate curlicues: wall sconces, floor lamps, drop lamps, pendants, recessed lighting, track lighting, you name it. There are also outside lighting fixtures, including massive carriage lamps that look like they belong at the Breakers. Most of the ornate stuff made us laugh. They had a few very heavy Tiffany-type lamps, but they were very expensive and mostly too massive for a small room.

However, their ceiling fan prices were very reasonable. We'll probably go back there for the basic fans. James still likes the "Aero" better than the version that they had here, and I'm still thinking about that little faux Tiffany lamp.

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19 October 2005
  In for a Penny
One of the things we found in the lockbox in Mom's trunk was a very small insurance policy with me as the beneficiary. It looked like she had set it up after the cancer diagnosis. We had sent it off a couple of weeks ago and it arrived back and I deposited it in the bank. Today I went to Trellis Oaks and wrote them a check out of that money for the essential upgrades:
  • The range hood and outside vent
  • Deadbolts for both outside doors
  • Extra electrical plug in the laundry room for a small freezer
  • Extra phone jack on the back living room wall for the computers
and the extravagance, exchanging the "garden tub" for a jetted tub so the darn thing doesn't end up as a planter.

We decided against the garage door openers for now. We can get them cheaper and have them installed cheaper from Lowe's. But if they're going to require me to park in the garage (it's one of the covenants), I want a garage door opener for rainy nights!

We still don't know the cost of putting a dryer vent on the back wall of James' hobby room (he wants to build a spray-painting booth there so he doesn't have to go outside) or the wire shelves in his closet, but they're going to get back to us, and it won't cost us anything to exchange out that nasty fluorescent light in the kitchen for a real one.

(The model house actually has the fluorescent in the kitchen upstairs. It doesn't throw out that much light anyway. A good incandescent will do a heck of a lot better.)

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08 October 2005
  "We'll Dress the House"
Elizabeth told us to come back in about two weeks to pick out the fixings for the house, but since we were in the area—heck, we're here every weekend anyway—we dropped in the office to see if we could do so.

They didn't have many choices on vinyl; most of them look like dark ugly stonework. We found one that was actually a pretty stonework pattern in alternating large and small blocks. This will go in the kitchen and bathrooms, and there will be vinyl that looks like wood flooring in the hall downstairs.

We picked reddish color cabinets that will match the [hope! hope!] reddish colored hardwood floors (not a cherry reddish, more of a maple) and imitation black granite counters that will look slick with the cabinet colors.

Then pewter light fixtures.

Since we can't have the blue sidings, we chose the grey ones, with red bricks and white mortar. We did get blue shutters, and the door is supposed to match the shutters.

We also brought a tape measure with us and an enlarged printout of both floor plans and ran around the Dubois model measuring everything, especially the windows. This model basically is set facing the way our house will. We've been in the house at different times of the day except very early morning and it seems like the back is pretty much in shade most of the time, so I won't worry about shades right away. We will of course need to immediately shade our bedroom because we like it dark at night, the living room to keep the glare off the television, and the two bedrooms upstairs because they face south. The side window of James' hobby room will probably need something right away as well, but I'm not going to worry about the three back windows upstairs or the three downstairs, especially the two windows on the library, since they're directly under the deck.

Incidentally, it was pretty warm today, but even with all the windows shut the house was not insufferably warm. Higher ceilings and better insulation do help!

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07 October 2005
  Just the Right Name
I was always a fearful kid—I was afraid of heights and roller coasters and anything that dropped and worms and snakes—and it's just seemed to have gotten worse as I get older. My claustrophobia gets up to panic stage now and I even get upset during CAT scans, which isn't a good thing as you get older.

I have been wavering from full goose bozo optimistic on this house deal to so-in-a-rut depression that I want to sit and bawl my eyes out. I suppose the worst mistake we made was falling in love with the house in the first place. The feeling of "home" was clear enough in the original model we saw, but when we got into the Dubois we were both just gone. It wasn't just the design or the newness, it was that unmistakable feeling of wanting to wake up here, to snuggle here, to shelter against rainstorms inside and sit on the porch and say hello to the neighbors. At once it was brand new and yet as comfortable as an old shoe.

And I am simply terrified that something is going to come along to make it all fall apart.

But I did a small thing today, a small leap of faith just for me, one that tied in with the previous post about the Country Sampler magazine article about the woman who had her house decorated for autumn all year long. When I showed the picture to James, he shrugged just the way he had when I told him I wanted to name a budgie "Pigwidgeon."

"So what's to say you couldn't do it?" he asked. As simple as that.

For a couple of months JoAnn crafts store has been carrying these signboards in two sizes, one about a foot long and another about eighteen inches long. They're either in an olive green or a leaf orange, and come with little painted wooded representations of maple leaves, oak leaves, acorns, and pumpkins that you can fasten to the signboard. The idea is that you do a cute little motto, maybe "Fall Welcome Here" or "Pumpkin Patch" or "Scarecrow Place" and hang it up over your fall decorations.

One of the things I've always loved about reading British books was their wonderful custom of giving houses names: Lilac Cottage, Rose Cottage, Marsh Manor, Talboys. The custom didn't catch on here except with the rich or down at the seashore, where folks gave their summer cottages cute little sea-oriented names. I've always wanted a house with a name. But what to call it? Names are important.

One name I'd always loved was from Mary Stewart's Merlin books, the home Merlin makes for himself in his old age, Applegarth. Apples are indeed a fall symbol, but it didn't seem to symbolize the scope of the season. "Autumn Acres"? No, all I could think of was Lisa and Oliver Douglas. :-) "Autumnhurst"? Hmn. A bit...pretentous.

And then I thought of the owls and birds nestling in the hollows of trees...the little hollows in the woods where the deer and the wild things make their homes, safe in that cozy space...imagined the hollow drifted with the scarlet and saffron and tangerine and terracotta and lemon and purple of fallen leaves...

"Autumn Hollow." As simple as that.

So I bought one of the smaller orange signs and an acorn motif to go with it (there are acorn motifs all over our living room now). And, if it all happens, that's what will go on the sign, in the entryway, to welcome everyone to our home.

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  Something To Do With All Those Coupons #2
We have bought a grey rug just to use as a foot-wiping mat and I have purchased a magazine rack to go on the side of one toilet. :-) They don't call it "the reading room" for nothing. This is quite sturdy compared with the thin ones I have purchased before, and it also holds two rolls of toilet tissue slung underneath.

Even better, at Bed, Bath and Beyond I found a white enamel finish metal storage rack with one fairly solid metal shelf and two wire shelves (the kind that sits on the floor and goes over your toilet). It said it was "scratched/damaged" and was marked down to $15, but I couldn't find a single thing wrong with it and bought it. It even comes with the hardware to fasten it to the wall for more support.

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  Let There Be...Lights
Since we're going to have to hunt up our own ceiling fans, we were at Lowe's tonight looking at some. I just want common variety ones with "schoolhouse lights" for the bedrooms and downstairs, but James has his heart set on one fancy one for his hobby room. It's called an Aero and resembles...well, you guessed it, the propeller blades of an airplane.

Anyway, we were wandering about looking at the other lights and lamps when we came upon some Tiffany reproductions. As I think I said earlier, I am not fond of the two chandeliers that automatically come with the house. The one in the breakfast nook is okay. It is "black iron" and is three-pronged with those cup-shaped shades over each light bulb. But the one in the dining room is hideous, of the same material but six pronged and just too heavy for a 10x14 room. We were planning to tell them just to put up the same fixture in the dining room as in the breakfast nook (or just put a regular light fixture in the nook since we are going to have a baker's rack and a cart there rather than a table), then we saw this pretty fixture at Lowe's.

It is, as I said, a Tiffany knock-off, only $150.00, with mostly red colored glass over three small fixtures. But it's quite pretty. Most Tiffany reproductions are too expensive and too bulky for my taste, but this is dainty and quite nice.

This looks like it, but I could swear the glass was redder.

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  Writer's Cramp
It was a soppy, rainy morning. I drove up to the BancMortgage office north of Town Center Mall to start signing innumerable loan papers. Anne Atkins was the loan officer I talked to and we had a nice time talking between pen exercises. She loves Elvis and has her office dotted with photos of "the King" and has an Elvis calendar.

BancMortgage is associated with my bank and I guess they like our credit. That's always good. I should have asked what our credit score was.

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02 October 2005
  "To Brave the Storm in a Skiff Made of Paper..."
(Reprinted and edited from "Yet Another Journal," October 3.)

That's us. (Thank you, Mr. Dickinson.)

We put down earnest money on the house today. Very scary proposition. But I want it to be done. This is a very, very rare housing complex that stays in our price range and is not out in Paulding County or beyond. I already have a 40-minute commute on a good traffic day; it's been known to go to ninety minutes or two hours on Thursdays or days before holidays. Another thirty minutes would be simply too much.

This is a leap of faith. We do not yet have the money for the upgrades we want (mostly the hardwood flooring). We'll need it before the house is framed. In a pinch we can just get the things we really need: the extra phone jack in the living room for the computers, the fixtures for ceiling fans, the deadbolt locks, the outside vent for the range, the extra electrical plug in the laundry room for a chest freezer, the hardwood stairs. And the other thing we don't need but do want: the jets in the tub. (The master bath has a separate shower and "garden tub." The only person who takes a bath rather than a shower in the house is Willow. If we leave the tub as is, it might as well be a planter. Besides, we're both getting older and we both have arthritis. There are days I've come home from being crouched up in the lousy chair I'm stuck with at work cramped up like Quasimodo.) Then we can pick a carpet color we can live with and have Lowe's or Ikea do a floor later.

Of course the sale is contingent upon the sale of my mother's house.

I keep thinking of Mrs. Brown's line in National Velvet: "I too believe that everyone should have a chance at a breathtaking piece of folly once in his life."

Anyway, here's what it will look like, except James doesn't want the yellow. We did look at some of the siding colors and got disappointed, since they discontinued the nice smoky sea blue we wanted. We'll probably get the grey. Oh, well, I'm used to grey. Our house was a dark grey during most of my formative years, so to me it's a nice welcoming color.

Dubois model

All the Dubois models going up are set up the same way as this one, with the front door on the left and the garage on the right. I'm assuming they'll all be built this way. However, the floor plans below are flipped.


upstairs floor plan

and down:

downstairs floor plan

Right now, though, the lot we picked (number 13), looks like this:

dirt pile

We were up very, very late unable to sleep, talking. There are lots of reasons to move: our street is a cut-through between two main roads and there are constantly speeding cars rushing through the neighborhood. It's become a rental community. I'm tired of the feral cats, which Animal Control refuses to come collect—they kill the birds at our feeder. I'm tired of the all-night parties (and the occasional gunshots) from the apartment complex behind us, and the people tossing trash in our back yard. (One of the times I went out there to rake this spring I found a wad of what looked like toilet paper. It was toilet paper: someone had scooped up their dog's poop and tossed it into our yard.) And the mosquitoes and palmetto bugs almost year round from the creek. (We had a big winged palmetto bug come blundering through the den last night; at first glance it looked half the size of Pidge. Willow killed it for us. Good dog!) And the ants. (The ants will have to work damn hard to get into the kitchen of the new house: it's on the second floor.)

But part of it is that I keep bumping into ghosts upstairs. I can't go into the hall bath anymore without looking in that mirror and remembering my mom looking at herself in it: at that horrible ugly black growth taking over the right side of her face and the swollen right eye and the bald, scarred head from numerous surgeries and radiation. She always took such good care of her face and skin. She wasn't vain about it, but every night she rubbed Deep Magic on her face to keep it soft and supple. Before she was sick people didn't believe she was that old, because she kept her face nice. She always took her medicines promptly and properly and took care of herself. How terrible was it for her to look at herself in the mirror those last few days and see an ambulatory skeleton? Especially with the fiction we'd concocted to get her to Georgia: that it would be a nice vacation and it might make her feel better.

It's almost as painful to go into the spare bedroom. But at least when I go in there I don't see that sad face staring back at me through a mirror.

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  Something To Do With All Those Coupons
Our Linens'n'Things and Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons will not go a-begging any longer, although we are actually purchasing things we can use here as well as anywhere else.

James has never liked the little toilet paper holders that are screwed onto the side of the sink. He thinks they're hard to reach. Today we found an L-shaped stand that holds the paper, but if you twist the head up 45 degrees, it also is a spindle on which you can hold extra rolls. This holds three, plus the one "up top." I've put it into the downstairs bath and it is much more comfortable to use.

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