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Friday, December 29, 2006

my preciousssss

We ordered this stove yesterday. It'll be delivered on January 19th, which is the weekend that Don and his dad will be finishing up the structural work and making room for it in the kitchen.

It's so beautiful! *sniff*

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

wednesday = home improvement

Talk about a productive day.

The roofers got here at 7:30 this morning. By the time they left -- around 5 PM -- the entire back side of the roof was stripped, and they'd begun putting new flashing on. Our sales rep called later and told us that the foreman had called him in a state of shock and informed him that there were in fact three full layers of shingles on our roof, attached with nothing less than four-inch nails (!). Gah. Anyway, the crew was super efficient and astonishingly clean -- they cleaned up all of the shingles that fell all around the house so that right now, while they aren't here, the only sign that they've been here is the dumpster in the driveway. Well, and the half-gone roof covered with tarp, but you catch my drift.

So anyway, right after the roofers got here, the first HVAC estimator got here, and spent about an hour talking to us and measuring the house. As he was pulling out, the plumber pulled in. We got him started, and sat down for a brief distraction (for any of you Wii-owning people, Super Mario Brothers for the NES is finally up in the virtual console. Just saying.). Then the second HVAC estimator showed up, and did the same thing as the first one.

The plumber stayed until about 3, and did an awesome job. We now have a brand spanking new -- and totally up to code -- gas line to feed our dryer, and another to feed our as-yet hypothetical gas stove.

So we tested the dryer and lo! It still doesn't work. Turns out that not only was the gas line all busted, the dryer is a piece of crap too. So buying a new washer and dryer is now necessary, not just a bonus (okay, the washer is a bonus, since ours works, but who doesn't want their washer and dryer to match?). So once we waved our friend Jason the plumber (ask for him, he is nice) away, we headed to the Sears in the Security Square mall, because Don's mom told us they have the biggest appliance showroom in the area. We'd looked online while the plumber was plumbing, and we wrote down a few numbers of a few stoves that looked likely. We thought we knew what washer and dryer we wanted, from a previous drooling expedition, so we thought we were set there.

Well, we got to Sears, and it turned out that the washer and dryer we thought we wanted would have cost a LOT. We looked around and found two other options which do the exact same thing, for a lot less, so we'll be doing some research and deciding between the two this week. But the big news is that we found a stove. And we actually agreed on it and everything. Anyone who knows us will know how monumental this is.

Anyway, I'll hopefully be a little more prepared later this week and I'll give you all links and pictures and that sort of thing, so you can see all the progress we've made. Seriously, I think we got more done today than we have this whole year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

official rules

Here is an extremely fuzzy cell phone picture to illustrate Official Christmas Rule #12:

By the end of the day, no matter what, I will be wearing a bow on my head.

I hope you all had a great holiday, whichever you celebrate -- as a 'blended' sort of family, we get lucky and celebrate Chanukah AND Christmas, which just means that we go to more parties -- and hopefully you'll all have a fantastic New Year.

My personal New Year is looking pretty damn sweet, pardon my language: we will be ordering a new washer and dryer and a new stove, getting a new roof, having heat installed, and finishing the downstairs structural work. All in the next couple of weeks. Talk about turning over a new leaf!

Friday, December 22, 2006


I've just turned on word verification for comments. I apologize if it makes commenting more of a hassle for any of you, but I am getting a LOT of spam on some of my old posts, and it's filling up my inbox. I'm hoping this will solve the problem without me having to resort to comment moderation -- I am lazy, and don't want to have to sort through each and every comment and take action on them!

I'd once thought about switching this blog over to WordPress or Movable Type and getting a domain name for it, but I don't know if I really want to anymore. I suppose it depends on readership. If the masses suddenly start flocking here for my wisdom in great quantities, then it might be worth it, but as it is now -- not that I don't love you, my miniscule masses -- it seems like this is quite functional enough.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

special guests

Our upcoming long holiday weekend is going to be filled to the brim with visitors -- paid ones! We have a plumber coming on Saturday to hopefully fix the gas line for the dryer (why yes, that is the 'Hallelujah Chorus' you hear playing in the background), and an HVAC person coming out to give us an estimate that morning. We'll be at Don's parents' place for most of the day on Monday, Christmas Day. Then Tuesday the roofers are coming to deliver thousands of pounds of shingles and a giant dumpster. Plus another two HVAC guys, and one on Wednesday when the roofers arrive to start work.

Maybe I'll feed them all cookies.

Anyway, I don't know how much time I'll have to blog, as the holidays -- yes, ours started almost a week ago, with Chanukah -- tend to be a little overwhelming. But at least more progress is getting made! I hope the plumber can fix our gas line -- being able to do laundry in my own house for the first time in a year would definitely be the best present of all.

Monday, December 18, 2006


We made cookies! My friend Jocelyn came over on Sunday for Girls' Baking Day In (Lindley couldn't make it this time, but she promises to come next time), and we made more cookies than any two people ought to be able to physically produce. Above you can see our somewhat chaotic setup, on the new counter.

Don got me a Kitchenaid artisan mixer for Christmas (!) and gave it to me early so that I could use it for this, so when Jocelyn brought hers over, too, we had dual mixers going for our cookie madness. We made chocolate chip cookies (with semisweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and walnuts), meyer lemon and black pepper cookies (sooooo good), Farmgirl's molasses ginger spice snaps, quatresemali (like cinnamon-y almond biscotti), and sugar cookies.

It was a productive sort of day -- and the Ravens are going to the playoffs, too! Awesome!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

reader questions: how to get rid of a pool

I wrote about some of this a few other times -- in May and June, specifically, when we began the whole process -- but not about it as a whole, and someone asked, so I thought I'd tell you how we did it.

The first thing we did was take off the railings and most of the 'deck' planks, since they were in our way. Don started out trying, as he put it, to be 'civilized about it,' using an impact hammer to unscrew all of the bolts that held the various metal bits in place. It didn't work; the bolts all just became smooth and worn. So he got out his trusty reciprocating saw and its 'for metal' blade. Boom. Railings down. Unfortunately, we threw them away before Don's dad told us that they were worth money from the scrap metal recycling place, and after we took the deck planks off, somebody stole them, presumably to sell them to the same place. Damn!

After those large impediments were gone, we set to work draining the pool with a submersible pump connected to a garden hose, with the tail end tossed at the back of our property, in the weeds. We kept an eye on it and made sure that the ground didn't get too saturated, but since we did it during the summer it wasn't too much of a problem.

Once we'd gotten all the water out that we could with the submersible pump, Don donned his goo-proof boots and headed in with his trusty exacto knife, to cut the vinyl liner into easily-folded sections, which we then bundled into trash bags (my job was to steady the garbage can -- v. important).

Finally, it was time to really take that sucker apart. Most aluminum aboveground pools are constructed of slats which slide together on small tracks (kind of like hardwood flooring, but metal. And upright. And... uh... outside. So not like it at all, but whatever). So the trick is to slide the slats out -- they're also seated in a track which, in our case, was neatly buried under the ground. So it takes some yanking. We used crowbars, hammers, the reciprocating saw, leverage, and lots of brute force. It wasn't very fun. Some slats came out easily, others resisted until we literally cut them in half.

Finally, we (mostly Don) got all of it out, and we separated any plastic bits out -- the stairwell that led down into the pool, for one, and a few other drainage-y bits. Today, we rented a truck and loaded everything else up and took it to a scrap metal recycling center (I Googled "recycle maryland aluminum" and got a list; we chose the one Don's dad recommended, in Glen Burnie). They took the aluminum off our hands and we left $220 dollars richer (they give you 50 cents a pound! And 40 cents for the stuff that still had steel bolts in it).

So that's how you get yourself a lovely hole in your backyard, if you're interested. A lot of effort for a hole, let me tell you.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

in debt

Last night we signed our lives away to the tune of twelve thousand dollars, to a very pleasant lady who reminded me a great deal of my mother's friend Debbie. It's the loan to pay for our new roof, which is due to be installed sometime after Christmas.

Apparently, our roof is very big. Who knew?

Anyway, we got a pretty good deal on financing, with payments not due to start until June. Don anticipates that (barring any unforeseen tragedies or windfalls or both) this particular debt ought to be paid off in a little under a year, which isn't too bad.

You may recall that we have practiced careful house-related money management before; so far, all has gone fairly well. Don is really astonishingly good at this sort of thing -- he's actually decided to extend his undergraduate career a bit and pick up another major: Financial Economics. It's a good thing he's around, because I can barely manage to total up how much the groceries cost!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

this countertop has CHANGED MY LIFE

Because now I have a place to put my empty pizza boxes and coke bottles.

No, just kidding. This is the new counter that Don and I installed last weekend. It's rough, but functional. It makes the kitchen a hundred times more efficient, though. There's room to work! I love it. Next up: shelves! I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

wide open spaces

This is the view from the living room, through the dining room, into the family room and out into the kitchen. You can see the new framework that Don and his dad put in. This house is going to be so awesome when it's finished.

The next thing the menfolk will be doing is opening another doorway into the kitchen, basically behind where that ladder is right now, to allow direct access from the dining room to the kitchen. In the meantime, we get to start rewiring both rooms -- when they opened the door into the living room, they found one wire in the wall that was almost completely charred through. Hello, fire hazard. We'll be rewiring the whole house eventually. Got to start somewhere!

Monday, December 11, 2006

insert 'rocky' theme song here

Duh na na na na na na na na na naaaaaaaaaa!

Friday, December 08, 2006

ah, november

November was a month of many things, both good and bad, and all time-consuming and making me un-blog-motivated.

At the beginning of the month, I had an extraordinarily painful and wholly unexpected minor surgery on my lady bits. It wasn't fun. Less fun was the fact that I was minorly misled about my expected recuperation time; I wound up flat on my back for more than a week, when I'd expected to be back at work in two days.

In the meantime, however, Don and his dad accomplished something quite remarkable: progress!

They took down the wall between the dining room and family room, installing a header to keep the house up, and ripped open a big door from the dining room to the living room. For a good week afterwards, we were hard put not to giggle gleefully every time we stepped through the new doorway.

And then! And then. We bought a Wii. Yes, people, we own a Wii. It is AWESOME. As soon as I was recovered enough to stand up, we indulged ourselves in a great deal of Wii Tennis and Wii Bowling.

Just as the novelty of the Wii began to wear off (who am I kidding? It's still AWESOME!), I suddenly realized that I was quite alarmingly behind in various important school-related things like actually doing my homework. So I had to catch up. Fortunately, I had that whole Thanksgiving weekend! Like I did any work then.

Thanksgiving at Don's parents this year was hectic! All four siblings were there, with spouses and children where appropriate. It was noisy and boisterous and lots of fun. Then, the next day, we headed down to Don's older sister's house for a long evening of card-playing and baby-cuddling, and were rewarded by both: we won seventy bucks and Don caught the baby's cold.

The next night happened to be our four-year anniversary (!), and Don surprised me with a fabulous (and pricy -- good thing we won at poker) dinner at Della Notte in Little Italy and a movie: "Happy Feet." So cute!

Then we discovered that he'd caught baby Mikey's cold. So it was his turn to be flat on his back, as it turned out to be a very bad cold indeed. Wonderful.

Once he recovered and I'd caught up some with school work, we did the unthinkable: accomplished something.

No, I'm serious. Stop laughing.

Having decided to hold off on the fullscale renovation of the kitchen until a) we have lots of money and b) something else in the house is done (maybe whichever comes first), we decided that we need to make the kitchen a little more functional. Part of this will happen on the third weekend in January, when Don's dad is scheduled to come out and help cut a door between the kitchen and the dining room, and when we'll get a new oven -- they have to move it anyway to make the door, so we're seizing the opportunity to replace the only actually nonfunctional thing in the kitchen. The rest of it, though, we can do ourselves. What we need is more countertop space and more storage space. So we built a countertop. We built a frame out of 2x4s and slapped a prefabricated six foot sheet of laminate countertop over it. It's not pretty, but you can chop things on it. I'll put up pictures as soon as I have time to take them.

Time is currently in short supply, of course. I finally managed to get all of the christmas shopping done, and packages are slowly trickling in (including one yesterday, while I was working from home, just after I'd gotten out of the shower, delivered by a really cute UPS guy who didn't even blink an eye when I answered the door in my white fluffy robe). School is finishing up -- last class is tomorrow, and a final review next week. The holidays are fast approaching, with family commitments and parties and blah blah blah. And fraternity doings take up a lot of time, for both of us.

In conclusion:
- Yes, Snay, I'm alive.
- Got some stuff done.
- Had some stuff happen.
- Got a Wii.
- Still crunched for time.
- Sorry I didn't blog. :(
- Wii is still AWESOME.
- Pictures of house coming soon.

Friday, November 10, 2006

fifteen places i have found my cat hiding recently

1. My pajama drawer.
2. The box our towels are stored in.
3. The access hatch to the plumbing for the bathtub in the downstairs bathroom.
4. The box my laptop came in.
5. Under the chair in front of my cutting table.
6. Behind the treadmill.
7. Behind the shower curtain next to the bathtub.
8. Inside the bathtub.
9. Under the blankets on the couch.
10. On the front screen porch when Don left the door open.
11. On the back screen porch when Don left the door open.
12. The pantry.

13. Under the table the power tools are on in the construction area.
14. The upstairs closet, under the dining room chairs.
15. Under the basement stairs.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

come see me

I'll be at the Baltimore Blogger Happy Hour tonight. Details here, provided by our chatty host.

6 PM, Dizzy Issie's on 30th. If you can make it, come out.

And no, sorry, Don won't be there. He's got a fraternity event to go to, so you'll just have to make do with my scintillating company.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

how we spent our sunday

Painting, hiking, and snorgling ferrets. Click here to see the full Flickr set. We spent the day over at our friends Lindley and Raymond's apartment, helping them paint one of their bedroom walls. Then we took the ferrets for a walk.

More pictures I particularly like are here and here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

two week recap plus future planning

Well, our project at work has been delivered. I could use a few days' rest and recuperation time, but freedom is pretty awesome by itself (I came into the office today and a coworker saw me and said, "So, how does it feel to finally be free?").

So I suppose now it's time to let you all know what's been happening, hey?

Well. Newsflash: it's autumn. Late autumn. So it's been getting cold. You might remember that we gutted our dining room and family room back in May. Guess where the thermostat was? Since we thought that we'd have a lot more done by now, we never anticipated needing to actually put the old thermostat back on. So when it finally got cold enough that we needed to turn on the heat, a couple of weeks ago, we dithered about it until Don finally got up the motivation to try to wire everything back together. Mind you, he's no stranger to thermostat wiring -- we successfully installed one of those fancy-dancy programmable thermostats in the old house -- but he simply hadn't bothered to make note of which wire went where when he took it down, since we thought we'd have HVAC by now.

Needless to say, he couldn't get it to work. Fortunately, his mom sent his dad over, who promptly fixed it for us. Whew! Then we turned the radiators on, setting the thermostat to bring the house to about seventy degrees.

At one in the morning, we woke up to a house which was about ninety degrees. The radiators hadn't turned off. And then we discovered that the windows in our bedroom don't open. Sigh. So, after having a screaming fight, fiddling with the thermostat, and spending an hour sitting in the living room in our underwear with all the windows and the front door flung open, we turned the breaker for the furnace off. Because, as it turns out, that's the only way to get the radiators to turn off. So, since neither of us ever gets home early enough to, say, turn the radiators on to heat up the house for the evening before turning them off before bed, we don't use the radiators now. And our house is very cold.

Mom, if I never properly thanked you for buying me that gigantic down duvet for Christmas many years ago, believe me, I'm thanking you now.

So as you might guess, our plans to get HVAC put in have suddenly become much more urgent. Fortunately, when Don's dad came over to rewire the thermostat that day, he took a look around and yelled at us. Normally it is not so fortunate when someone yells at you, but in this case, once he finished yelling, he informed us that he was going to press-gang Don, and the two of them were taking down that wall, dammit.

"That wall, dammit" is the wall in between the dining room and the family room. They're going to build little temporary walls and take down the wall and then put in a big header beam, and we will have a gigantic open space. And Don's dad says it will only take a weekend. They're also going to open up the large doorway in between the dining room and the living room.

The big change to the plans (other than the fact that we are actually DOING SOMETHING) is that we are not going to tear down the kitchen wall. Or rather, not right now. We're going to cut in a doorway, so that we can go directly from the kitchen to the dining room. Just a normal sized doorway, nothing special. It'll be right where the door opening will be in the eventual finished room (between the future breakfast bar and the future built-in bookcases, no less). Once Don and his dad have taken down the dining room/family room wall and opened up the living room doorway, the HVAC people are going to come in and do their thing -- and we are taking the radiators OUT. Then we're going to ignore the kitchen, while we finish the dining room, family room, and living room (the doorway from the kitchen to the dining room allows us to finish the dining room, since we'll be able to use it as a dining room if we can get to it easily from the kitchen).

I realize that a lot of this doesn't make sense unless you've seen our house and/or its floorplan. But that's not what's important here. What's important is that this is actually happening. In two weeks. Seriously. I mean, not all at once. But Don and his dad are going to be doing their thing the weekend after this coming one (Don's got a fraternity initiation to go to this weekend, or they'd be doing it sooner). And Don is working on getting some HVAC quotes so that those people can come in as soon as he and his dad are done. Yay! Progress!

And yes, we're getting the roof replaced. More on that another day.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

why you haven't seen me lately

I keep a pad of paper in front of my computer at all times. I like lists, you see. Here's today's sheet of paper, which may give you a clue as to the state of my mind for the last week or so (you may have to click the image to get a readable view, sorry).

My publication gets sent out to ONR (that's the Office of Naval Research for you... uh... landlubbers) for review and release on Monday. As soon as it comes back, it gets shipped off to the printers and I wash my hands of it.

This is why I have been absent for the last week or so, and why I will continue to be absent until my bouncing baby book is at the printers. I have spent virtually every waking hour hip-deep in layout, proofs, PDFs, hyphenation, submarines, welding, and indexes. It's a quagmire. So I am unable to update you as to the state of our roof (falling apart), our relationship (we only see each other on Sundays), our finances (no new kitchen), or our future plans (I can't see past the print date anyway).

But I will. After our printer's kill date of October 27th, I will.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

yet another disaster

Allstate has just written and informed us that they'll be cancelling our homeowners' insurance in early November unless we replace the roof.


Because, you know, with production at work weeks behind schedule, grad school work falling behind, business design work piling up, and the cat depositing HALF OF A MOUSE in the dining room, I totally need more stress.

Contractor coming on Friday to give us an estimate. Don will have to take care of this one by himself; until October 27th I'm pretty much chained to my desk at work and will be working late every day -- and, if things don't go well, on the weekends.

Blogging may be spotty for a while, guys. Sorry.

Monday, October 09, 2006

on domesticity and cleanliness

We had some people over for dinner yesterday. It was an informal sort of thing -- and by 'informal' I mean 'sitting on the couches eating off of paper plates' -- but it was still people, coming over to our house, and seeing our living space. It was a terrifying prospect, even if the people in question were Don's fraternity brothers, used to living in... um... less than tidy conditions. They all have mothers -- deep down, they know what a house is supposed to look like, and ours, well, doesn't.

So we indulged in a frenzy of cleaning in the morning, and our house looks much better than it's accustomed to looking. The living room is no longer a tangled mass of furniture, the kitchen sparkles, the laundry is collected in one spot -- even the bed is made! It's amazing. What's really amazing, though, is how satisfying it is to have a clean house. Even though we're still sort of living out of boxes, and there's a construction zone in the middle of the house, and most of our stuff is stored away, having the house as clean as we can make it feels like we're a little more calm and settled.

On the topic of domesticity, I wanted to point you guys to a couple of recent pieces by Hanne Blank, a local scholar who keeps a warm and welcoming house -- and a great blog.

Check out "Why You Need To Own An Apron" and "On Household Routines".

Friday, October 06, 2006

ceiling treasures, episode 879598734535

Don only found one thing hidden in the drop ceiling of the master bedroom when he took it down, astonishingly enough (when we took down the ceilings in the dining room and the downstairs bedroom we found things like Grandma's Easter decorations, a giant spoon and fork, a ceramic fire hydrant, and a vintage video camera all tucked away in the drop ceilings). What he found was this "Poollife" magazine, from 1993. Why somebody felt the need to hide this away in the ceiling is beyond me.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

cable from the heavens

One of the Eddies (lots of Eddies have lived in this house, including but not limited to Grandpa Eddie, Uncle Eddie, and Little Eddie) worked for the cable company, lo these many years ago. So our house is wired for cable in the most fantastic way -- and I mean that in the literal sense of fantastic. Look it up. Our basement cable junction actually reduced the cable installer guy to speechlessness when they hooked up our cable. All he could do was sputter helplessly and point dramatically. So nothing surprises us when it comes to cable in our house -- not even when Don took the bedroom drop ceiling down and found a mysterious cable box plunked in the middle of the ceiling, with a length of unattached cable coiled loosely around it.

Really, we half expected it. Because, after all, we took the ceiling in the back bedroom down ages ago, and it's got one, too.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

he's so helpful

On Saturday, as we left class, I wondered aloud to my friend Jocelyn what on earth Don had been doing while I was gone all day (my Saturday class is from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM). I figured he'd either been playing poker online, watching TV, sleeping, or, in some extreme circumstance, doing homework.

Boy, was I wrong! I got home, and lo and behold, he'd spent the day taking down the drop ceiling in the master bedroom (the very last one! hooray!) and ripping down some of the paneling in there, on the wall where the door to the new closet is going to go. How productive! AND -- he even remembered to take a "before" picture for the blog! What a model citizen.

Here's before:

And here's after:

Look how much higher the ceiling is! The wall is actually a slightly lighter version of the purple from the purple closet, although you can't tell in the picture. Don says the room feels so much bigger with even just this one chunk of paneling down. He's right, too.

Monday, October 02, 2006

we've got them too

It's a veritable epidemic. John's got them. Jeannie's got them.

And we have them, too. Mice.

Or rather, we HAD at least one. Until the cat found it, mangled it, and deposited it next to my shoes in all its bloody glory. This picture's kind of gross, I'm sorry. But, you know, I want to share all my experiences with you people, not just the pretty ones! (In other words, if I had to see it, so do you.)

grand opening

Today's the day! Anapurna Fantasy Jewelry and Accessories is officially open for business. Head on over to the website and take a look. Then buy something. You know you want to.

Friday, September 29, 2006

bonus closet post: things i have found in our closets

When I went into the study area of the summer kitchen closet in our master bedroom, I found some stuff left there by the studious Brinkleys of yore. Said stuff included a complete set of Funk and Wagnall's New Encyclopedia (I forgot to check what year it was, but I'm guessing it's from the seventies).

It also included a copy of the 1976 Farmer's Almanac.

There was also a box with some glassware in it, which, judging by the newspaper with which it was packed, has been sitting in that closet since 1971.

Ah, history.

Incidentally, the leather case at the very bottom of the first photo contains three empty glass bottles labeled with various liquor types (one for whiskey, one for rum, etc.). Clearly, a study aid.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I had to set up a table in the construction zone to do my portfolio work for grad school. There's no other place in the house with enough room to set up a table!

The cool part is that this table actually came from this house. When Don's great-aunt died and the house was sold (in 2002), a lot of the furniture and things came to Don's parents, including this table. When Don and I moved into our first apartment together, this table came with us, and it was our dining room table all the way up until shortly before we moved out of the townhouse. It's a big, sturdy table, and I love it. I love that I have this link to this house, had it before we even moved in. One of my favorite things about living here is constantly rediscovering and re-establishing links to the past, to all the Brinkleys who lived in this house before us. This big warm table just glows with family history, and we get to keep adding to it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

movie star

It's not house related, but I thought you might all like the chance to admire my new Steve Madden sunglasses. Or make fun of them, like Don and Lindley do.

Me: "Aren't they great? Don't they make me look like a movie star?"

Lindley: "Well... you look just as ridiculous in them as movie stars do when they wear glasses like that, so in that sense I suppose you look like a movie star."

Don: "You look like a giant fly."

how we spend lazy mornings around here

Tucked into bed, watching the Food Network.

mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be dandelions

This is what happens when you let dandelions grow: they turn into GIANT SPACE ALIENS.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Somebody came onto our property and rifled through our stack of to-be-recycled aluminum and stole all of the deck planks from the pool.

They could have just asked; we would have given it to them, it's not like we were going to do anything but recycle it. Don is pissed. I am philosophical. We have our suspicions about who might have done it -- I won't relate them, as this is a public forum -- but there's not much we can do about it other than feel wounded.

Monday, September 25, 2006

the closets of our lives: the summer kitchen

Because the upstairs level of our house was once laid out as a separate apartment for a younger branch of the Brinkley clan, our master bedroom's current closet actually resembles a summer kitchen. There's a sink, and some cabinetry -- and at the back, there's a study area! It's crazy. Let's take the tour.

This is the view from our bedroom. To the left, you can see the door which leads out to the hallway (or rather, the extremely large upstairs landing -- seriously, it's huge). As I understand it, the front bedroom was the apartment's dining room, while the middle was either a living area or a bedroom or both. The back bedroom was still the back bedroom.

As you get a little closer, you can start to see this closet's closet-within-a-closet. You can also see the lovely copper tile backsplash, which makes Don roll his eyes every time he sees it. I plan on saving the tiles to do something crafty with, which is probably why he rolls his eyes. There's a large cutting board covering the sink, for whatever reason, but the sink is there. It works as far as I know.

Finally, the closet-within-a-closet study area -- complete with exploratory kitty. We keep the door to this closet closed, so she hasn't really been in there. When I opened the door to take pictures, she had to check it all out, too. She also provides a nice size comparison! This little study is under an eave, so it's cramped. Not as cramped as you might think -- our cat is extraordinarily long, so when she stands up like that, she's pretty tall. That desk on the right is a standard-size school desk, one of those really uncomfortable ones.

We're hoping to turn this closet into an en suite three-quarter bath for the master bedroom. Since the water line has already been run, the biggest part of the work would be running the sewer line for the toilet (and making everything fit!). We have no idea whether or not this will happen; it's very low on our list of priorities but it's something we've talked about. We know we can't fit a full bath in there, but it would be nice to have a private shower and toilet for the master bedroom, instead of all three bedrooms upstairs sharing the one bath up here. There's another full bath downstairs, so we're not lacking or anything, but all the bedrooms are up here. And who doesn't love an en suite bath?

Friday, September 22, 2006

the closets of our lives: the nursery closet

It's not what it sounds like. Or rather, it is, but not in the sense you're thinking. It's not the closet in the nursery; it's the closet that is the nursery.

The closet in the middle bedroom is so large that it became a room of its own: the nursery. Brinkley babies lived here!

No, Mom, no Brinkley babies are forthcoming (not from me, anyway -- check with my sisters-in-law), and when they do, this won't be their nursery.

It's actually going to be our master bedroom's walk-in closet. We're going to block off the current door, and make a new one in from the left side (that left wall adjoins the front bedroom, which will be the master). It'll make a nice big walk-in closet for us. Since the middle bedroom is going to be a craft room slash office (okay, I admit it -- maybe even eventually a nursery), it won't need much in the way of closet space. We should be able to frame away a small space for a simple closet, to meet real-estate needs (bedroom's gotta have a closet!).

The nursery closet, of course, has its own closet, just like the others. This is the smallest of the closet-within-a-closets; that little door at the back opens up to what basically amounts to a deep shelving unit. It'll get incorporated into the master suite's closet somehow.

And yes, we'll be repainting it.

So what are we using the middle bedroom for right now?

Why, it's our closet, of course!

No, seriously. We put up rods along the walls to hang our clothes, and stuck our dressers in there, too. The front bedroom has two doors -- one into the hall and one into the middle bedroom -- because the entire upstairs was once a separate apartment for a younger branch of the family (more on this on Monday, stay tuned). So our bedroom connects to the middle bedroom, which is why we made the middle bedroom into our closet for now. It's a temporary solution, but it's the biggest closet I'll ever have.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

the closets of our lives: the purple closet

No, this isn't our spare bedroom. It's the
closet in our spare bedroom. And its closet.

In one of my recent rambling conversations with Jeannie, I mentioned the fact that our house has kind of wacky closets.

Wacky? How so?

Well, all of the closets have their own closets.

Nobody likes wasted space, after all. So each upstairs bedroom has a large closet, and since there's plenty of space to spare in the eaves, each closet has its own closet inside, most larger than a standard apartment closet. None of this explains why the spare bedroom's closet got painted purple, though (we may never know).

"Blog it!" says Jeannie.

So for the next few days I'll be showing you our closets. They're each different, and they're each really strange. Today's closet, the purple closet, is fairly unexceptional other than its color and size (and no, the pictures aren't doing it justice -- it's actually a fabulous purple). It's in the back bedroom upstairs, the one we're using as our office right now. This room will eventually be the guest room, and our guests will have an awful lot of space to store their clothes, unless we open it up and turn it into a desk nook or something.

And yes, those are our dining room chairs. The table is... somewhere else. This is what happens when you live in a renovation.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

the someday house

Everybody's got a someday house. It's the house you're talking about when you see some new idea, gadget, or product, and say, "Well, not in this house. But someday." It'll go in your someday house. Things you don't have the space for or the money for or the need for right now, they all get tucked away into the someday house, to wait for you.

My someday house is a farmhouse. A big, rambling old farmhouse, modernized and open on the inside but still the picture of a country home. Lots of guest rooms, a huge kitchen, and a farmhouse table, the kind that's made of the biggest slab of wood you've ever seen, used until it's got the glow of country life worn right into it. There's a garden in my someday house, too. That's one of the ways you can tell it's a someday house -- I haven't learned to garden yet.

Don's someday house is custom built, and wired for voice recognition and mobile control of all electronic functions. I think it has LCD TVs in the bathroom mirrors, too. And, for some reason, a sweeping central staircase, perfect for Scarlett O'Hara-ing your way down. He's quite determined about the staircase.

I don't know how we'll reconcile our someday houses, whenever someday gets here. But in the meantime, it's good to know there's a place to put all of the ideas I can't fit into this house.

What's your someday house like?

Monday, September 18, 2006

fond furniture dreams

Last year, during one of my mother's visits, we all went down to Rockville and visited the Plow and Hearth store, because she wanted to sit in a rocking chair before she bought it (always a wise policy). While we were there, Don and I discovered the Chair-and-a-Half. Yes, that's what it's called. It's an extra-wide armchair, of the extremely squishy sort. It fits two people and also unfolds into a twin-sized bed. There's a matching ottoman (also squishy) which doubles as a large storage container.

I love it. I plan to get a set (chair and ottoman) for the third upstairs bedroom, which will be either a craft room or an office or both. We'll have a guest room with a queen-sized guest bed in the second bedroom, so the chair-and-a-half won't often be needed to actually sleep guests, but it's the perfect solution for exceedingly comfy seating in what will be my personal space, and if we do ever have a houseful of guests, it's valuable extra sleeping space. And so soft and squishy. I love it in the khaki microfiber fabric they offer.

In general, I'm not a big furniture-planner; I like to use rooms before I furnish them, so I can really get the perfect furniture for the use the room winds up being put to. But the chair-and-a-half is different. It's totally on my list. And I don't even have a list.

Friday, September 15, 2006

making the switch

I'm going to be switching over to Blogger Beta within the next week or so. I was invited to switch over almost immediately after they rolled this upgrade out, but I've been waiting until they resolved some of the issues that concerned me most. According to their issues blog, they've fixed most of the things I was most worried about and several other things I might have worried about if I'd known about them. So it seems like it's time.

I'm really looking forward to the new tag support -- I plan to go through all of my older posts and tag them with relevant content tags, and then set up a sidebar sorter so people can just look for certain types of content. Tags are one of my favorite blogging features, particularly in a themed blog like this one. I'm really glad Blogger is going to support them.

I'll also be selecting a new layout -- hopefully one with three columns, to give me a little more room for content. I don't know yet if I'll be putting ads up; I'd like to, as it would be awfully nice to make something off of this thing I put so much time into, but if I can't integrate them in nicely, I won't. We'll see.

So, this is just a heads-up that you're going to see a few changes here. Please let me know if any problems come up with the switchover -- hopefully they've fixed all of the bugs we might encounter, but I am still a little worried about the potential for communications slowdown.

I don't have an exact date for the switch, since I'm pretty busy with both work and school right now (not to mention tired and nauseous due to the damn steroids), but I will make every effort to get things up and running in the next week. And hopefully I'll have some real, actually house-related content soon, too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

design blog

If you've been looking at my blogger profile recently -- though I don't know why you would, other than to find out my astrological sign (I'm a Virgo!) -- you'll have noticed that there's another blog listed down there in the 'blogs' section.

As part of the class I'm currently taking ('Words and Images'), I'm required to have a blog. That blog is intended to be a sort of scrapbook of design ideas, resources, concepts I like, and anything else design-related that comes to mind. So if you're desperately interested in things like typography, layout, writing, or my opinions on calligraphy, feel free to read that one, too. If you're not, stick with gross pictures of my poisoned arm. It's all good.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


According to my doctor, I am extraordinarily sensitive to poison oak and ivy.

Also, it is very hard to take a picture of your own arm.

In case you're curious -- I haven't even set foot in the yard in about two and a half weeks. That picture was taken three seconds ago.

The doctor has prescribed heavy-duty oral steroids. Expect mood swings and unpleasantness all round for the next fifteen days.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Maybe all the contractors have heard about our jinx. That would explain why we can't seem to get anyone to call us back. We've called seven contractors and two placement services, and nobody will talk to us. We leave messages, we speak with receptionists, we leave detailed accounts of what we want done -- and no calls.

I take it back -- we did get two calls this weekend. One person is out of town and will have to get back to us later, and the other only does 'turn-key' renovations.

I think the 'turn-key' issue is going to be our biggest one, once we can actually find our way out of whatever telephone oblivion we've stumbled into and start talking to people. 'Turn-key', if you don't know, means a renovation that is totally complete -- you can 'turn your key' in the door and move on in. No worries. We, on the other hand, want about as far from turn-key as you can get. All we want is structural framework done; no electrical, no plumbing, no drywall, no floors, no nothing. We have a contractor lined up for our HVAC work, patiently waiting (and hopefully not dead or anything yet) for us to get this frame work done so he can come in and install the air conditioning. Everything else, we'll be doing ourselves or having installers put in. Most contractors, though, do the whole job or nothing, and pride themselves on it. So it's going to be hard to find someone who'll just do what we want.

And even harder to get them to call us back.

Friday, September 08, 2006

local flavor

Last night we got to take a tour of the Clipper City Brewing Company, and taste several of their beers. It was an event put together by UMBC's Chapter of Young Alumni, and it was really fun. Not only did we learn a heck of a lot about beer brewing and bottling, we got to spend time with some old friends and drink some good beer (well, Don says it was good -- I don't actually drink beer :P).

In any case, the best part of all is that it turns out Clipper City is right in our neighborhood, practically down the street from us! Who knew there was such great local flavor right nearby? I love to discover new things about our neighborhood, and the brewery has some great history behind it. The man who gave us the tour was the man who founded the company, so he gave us great insight into both the history and the science that was going on around us (and he was really funny!).

Though our tour was a private event, Clipper City does have free public tours one Saturday a month, with a chance to sample their beers. You can find details here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

the evolution of sleep

The cat has adapted pretty well to living in a house which is in a constant state of flux. Yeah, she runs at your feet and tries to trip you when you walk across the construction areas, and she howls at the top of her lungs whenever a door is shut anywhere in the house which might potentially block her path if she were to choose to go in that direction even though she doesn't actually want to right now thank you very much, and she definitely has an issue with rolling around in the plaster dust, and she thinks coming into the bathroom with you while you're going is fun and chewing on the shower curtain is even more fun, but overall she's adjusted quite well.

Every so often, she'll embark upon a quest to find the Next Great Nap Place, and we'll find her sleeping experimentally all over the house. Here's her latest experiment: the laundry.

Monday, September 04, 2006

ernesto aftermath

We weren't much affected by Tropical Storm Ernesto -- a lot of wind and rain on Friday night (my umbrella turned inside out twice while I was walking from my car to the bar for the Blogger Happy Hour, and I was a block away) and some leftover rain on Saturday. In the end, our garbage cans were knocked over by the wind and the big maple in the backyard was... um... aggressively trimmed by the storm. We went out on Sunday to do some other yardwork and I cleared up all of the branches which had fallen.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

a social life? no! really?

This weekend I don't anticipate a lot getting done. Don does intend to get some more of the yard work done (he really just wants to spend quality time with his machete), but we will be, as they say, oot and aboot for a great deal of the weekend.

Tomorrow night you can find me at the Augustember Birthday Blogiversary Blogger Happy Hour, finding yet more things to celebrate -- and drink about -- with the Baltimore bloggers. All you local types, I expect to see you there.

Saturday we'll be over at Chez Brinkley for laundry and conversation, and who knows what else. Nerdy confession: before we head over there, we'll be sitting at our desks playing World of Warcraft, because there is a big guild event in the morning. Go ahead, laugh.

Sunday we'll be being nerdy again, playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends in Randallstown, while I try to get some more work done on various jewelry projects.

Monday, we're joining Lindley and her husband Raymond at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, where I plan to eat a great deal of food. On sticks. If you're going that day and want to meet up, let me know.

So all in all, not a very house-productive weekend -- but probably a lot of fun!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

king of juryrigging

We'll have a refrigerator like this someday. Until then?

Duct tape.

The bars keep falling out of our freezer door (followed in rapid succession by cornish hens, hot dogs, and a hot pocket). But we, of course, keep a well-stocked tool box (as you might remember from the upstairs bathroom), so Don has taken the gentleman's solution: liberal applications of duct tape. The cornish hens are safe once more. Phew!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

why i can't just sit down and watch 'indiana jones'

After the stunning revelation that I've never seen an Indiana Jones movie, Malnurtured Snay insisted that I ought to sit right down and watch one. Like, immediately. After some futile argument, I finally gave up and told him I would just post a picture of the reason I can't sit down and watch movies right now: my living room.

In case you're curious, that's basically all the furniture we own, crammed into the living room. There's no plopping down for a good DVD in this room for the foreseeable future -- even if it weren't insufferably hot since we still don't have air conditioning!

Monday, August 28, 2006

it's my birthday

My mom sent me organic roses and chocolates for my birthday. She always remembers that peach roses are my favorite!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

thankless yardwork

Don is determined to get a handle on the backyard jungle this weekend. He keeps running into snags, though. For instance, when he tried to dig up this baby maple tree (they're all over the place, thanks to the unchecked seeding of our giant maple for the last ten years), he ran into a mysterious disturbance.

We pulled it out, and it turned out to be three sheets of copper flashing. Who knows why it got buried in the backyard, but there it is.

Things like this make for slow going.

Friday, August 25, 2006

what you ought to do for my birthday

My birthday is on Monday. If you'd like to celebrate with me -- or celebrate in general -- I'd like to ask that you consider going out to dinner on Tuesday, the 29th, at a restaurant that is participating in Restaurants for Relief. Go to www.strength.org to find a restaurant which is donating a portion of its proceeds for the evening to Gulf Coast relief efforts, and have dinner out. Good food for a good cause.

And yes, I'm having my birthday dinner out on Tuesday instead of Monday for this reason. No, I don't know where I'm going yet. I haven't decided. If anyone has great things to say about any of the local restaurants on the list, feel free to let me know.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

it's a man thing

Don loves his new machete.

Me? Not so much.

Yes, I'm pointing pathetically to the one frail stem I managed to cut down after several minutes of energetic swinging. He, on the other hand, cleared off an entire section of the fence in the same amount of time.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

reader questions: yes, it worked

Several people asked how we got rid of our old garbage cans when we replaced them with armor-plated trash relocation vessels. The answer is simple, although I think it has a great deal to do with where we live: We put a note on them.

No, really. We took them all out to the curb, and Don slid one of the empty ones into the one with the dead possum in it. We were afraid they might not take it if they saw a furry corpse inside, so stacking the empty one inside it hid the corpse and made it even clearer that we wanted to get rid of the cans. Then I took a piece of notebook paper and wrote the following:

(we bought new ones)

I added a smiley face at the bottom, just to be sure. The smiley face always helps.

Don duct-taped the note to the cans (holding his nose the whole time, the dead possum was seriously stinky), and that was that. When we came home from work yesterday they were gone.

I am pretty sure this will work just about anywhere they have curbside trash pickup. My mom says she's done it, too, and she lives pretty much as far away from me as you can get and still be on the mainland. We do have pretty lenient trash guys (thanks, Baltimore County!), but I'm pretty sure that they would pick up trash cans with signs on them even if they didn't also pick up old rakes and furniture and pieces of tree and PVC pipe and giant pieces of styrofoam and ten-foot-long steel poles.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

houseguest update

It was a possum. A dead one. A gross, icky, dead possum.

So we decided to upgrade. Previously, we had three banged-up, lidless garbage cans -- one now full of possum corpse -- in this dirty, bug-filled trash area. We'd just left it the way we got it, basically, even to using the cans that the previous owners left.

Now, in our sparkling clean concrete alcove, we have these armor plated trash relocation vessels.

Baby steps towards being grownups.

Monday, August 21, 2006


There was something furry sleeping in our garbage can this morning.

I guess it's time we upgraded to the snazzy new model, the kind that... uh... comes with a lid.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


As of today, we have owned this house for six months. I think I expected to be a lot further along by now; but when I sat down and thought about it today, I realized that I'm not disappointed with where we are. We have this great big visible reminder, you see, that we have in fact Gotten Something Done: there is a big hole in our house.

The dining room and office are bare, practically a hard-hat construction zone (and definitely a wear-shoes zone -- I still keep stepping on staples because I'm a barefoot kind of girl). Most of our wordly goods are in boxes on the screen porch, or shoved haphazardly into the smallest of the upstairs bedrooms to be used in everyday work, as that's our temporary office. Our furniture is all in the living room. Literally. The dining room furniture is backed up against the treadmill which is tucked in next to the loveseat which is blocked by the coffee table which you can't reach without shoving aside a filing cabinet which is in front of two bookshelves which are huddling over several chairs. It's kind of hard to watch TV in there. The only furniture in the entire house which is not in the living room is in fact our bed and dressers, and our makeshift desks. To be fair, though, we don't have that much furniture. Definitely not enough to fill all of the rooms in this big house. Yet another thing to look forward to when the renovations are done: furniture shopping!

So we have this reminder of what we've done, in the form of a big empty hole in our house and crowded living spaces. There are other reminders, too; a second glance at the pool will reveal that it's just a shell -- drained, emptied, and liner-free, just waiting for us to rip it apart and recycle its aluminum walls. The ceilings upstairs are empty grids; we took out the drop ceiling tiles everywhere but the bedroom while the dumpster was still here, allowing us to glory in our all-over nine-foot ceilings.

Most of my baking pans and kitchen supplies are still in boxes, like my books and craft supplies. But the stacks of boxes don't seem like stagnant reminders of a lack of progress. They look like they're waiting. Expecting. Dreaming.

Just like me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


One of the things I've been interested in for a really long time is lampwork glass. It's how you make those amazing glass beads with the interesting textures and colors; it involves melting glass in a torch and then winding it around a steel rod and then putting bits of other glass and sometimes other stuff into it and then cooling it all down until it's a bead.

When we bought the house, Don and I were really excited about the garage. Half of it is already set aside as a wood workshop -- Don told me the other day that he knew just how he was going to set it up. I stared and him blankly and said, "But it's already set up! Your grandpa and your uncle used that woodshop for something like forty years!" He rolled his eyes like I was an idiot and explained that his workshop had to be set up in a certain way. Whatever.

The other half of the garage is totally unfinished. It doesn't even have a floor. There's just bits of plywood strewn over dirt. It's full of random Brinkley detritus (including a school locker from when somebody worked as a janitor at Lansdowne High and... relocated... a locker to the garage for storage purposes -- last I checked it was full of old fluorescent light bulbs). Someday, this side of the garage will become a glass studio. Both of us are interested in glassmaking -- I'm more interested in the small, delicate torchwork, whereas Don wants to learn to blow glass and do larger kilnwork (think vases, bowls, and ashtrays, not beads). So it'll be a hobby that we can share without getting in each other's way. The studio is a long way in the future; obviously, both the house and the yard are higher on our list of priorities.

But I'm still interested in glass. And I'm thinking about maybe taking a lampworking course at Vitrum Studios. Maybe I can get Lindley to join me. Maybe I'll be able to find time in between classes and work and house stuff. Wouldn't that be fun?

For more stuff on glassworking in this area, check out the Mid-Atlantic Glass Beadworkers.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

the jig is up

If you think that the last several chatty posts have been a clever disguise for a horrifying lack of actual progress -- well, you're right. We are at a total standstill. But you can forgive me for that, right? I gave you good money advice! And I'm so darn cute!

Monday, August 14, 2006

making money work for us

It's terribly gauche to talk about money in public (unless of course you are a moneyblogger). But this blog, as I told Don when he got mad at me for posting embarrassing pictures of our backyard, is supposed to be about reality. And part of the reality of homeownership -- probably the biggest part, in fact -- is money.

We've been very lucky when it comes to money. Part of this is because Don is very, very good at managing our money (I'm trying to convince him that he ought to get an MBA instead of a JD when he goes for a graduate degree). Part of it is because we are fortunate enough to live in an area where jobs are relatively plentiful, and we were able to find jobs which pay very well, particularly for as young as we are. Finally -- and this part is nothing but sheer, dumb luck, no matter what Don tries to tell you -- we stumbled into a very hot market when we bought our first house, and were able to sell it less than two years later for double what we paid for it. So yes. Moneywise, we have been lucky. But we also do a lot to make the most of our money, and that's what we did this weekend.

The background:
We bought our house in January, with what's called an eighty-twenty mortgage. What that means is we actually have two mortgages. One is for eighty percent of the value of our house, and is a standard thirty-year fixed rate mortgage. The second is for twenty percent of the value of our house, and is a shorter fifteen-year mortgage. The second mortgage has a fairly high interest rate -- not sky-high or anything, but high. Having the second mortgage allowed us to have a much lower interest rate on the first mortgage. Our ten percent down payment paid off half of that second mortgage immediately, and we have had enough money at any given time that, if we needed to desperately, we could have paid off the second mortgage in full (we still have a lot of the profits from the sale of the house). So. The remaining debt from the second mortgage added up to about 22 thousand dollars.

Our next significant debt was for our two cars. Mine is a new car, and was a birthday present last year (my old car conveniently expired right in time for my birthday). We bought Don a lightly used car last month, when his car finally died. We bought used for him rather than new because this car is intended to be a commuter car, used heavily for five or six years until we can afford the BMW that he really wants. The debt for the two cars together adds up to about 32 thousand dollars.

Finally, we had some credit card debt. It was the remainder of the debt from our first large purchases as homeowners in the townhouse, a TV for him and a dining room set for me. They were purchases we thought out well, not impulse buys, and we planned out how to pay for them over the course of a period of time well before we bought them. The payment plan was interrupted slightly by Don's two months of unemployment earlier this year, but otherwise stayed on track. The remainder of that debt was about four thousand dollars.

The interest rates on all of these debts ranged between nine and twelve percent. Not great, although not exactly debilitating.

What we did:
On Saturday morning we signed off on a home equity loan. The loan lumps all of these debts together at an interest rate of 6.74%, saving us more than five hundred dollars a month. We make one payment a month, to the bank, instead of four or five to the various creditors.

The five hundred dollars we will be saving will be applied directly to the loan. Since we currently pay that much anyway, we won't exactly notice the lack -- and if we desperately need wiggle room, we have it, since any money over the minimum payment is our choice to pay or not. Don intends to add a little more to the payment as well, since he is making more income now than he was when he wrote the budget for this year. This will double our loan payment every month, and have our ten-year loan (which, remember, includes our fifteen-year second mortgage!) paid off in five years.

And that's how we are making the most of money management.

Friday, August 11, 2006


It is quite possible that having a temporary office is worse than having a temporary kitchen.

My desk makes it look like I'm a lot better at multitasking than I actually am.

On top of the desk is, in addition to the monitor and other computerly accoutrements, my jewelry-making supply tacklebox (don't laugh, it's a great way to store everything!), which is of course stacked with books. Under the desk are the computer itself (more books), the subwoofer, the all-in-one printer/scanner/faxer/breadmaker/dishwasher/whatever, and my 'business bag' -- which contains all of the things I could possibly need for anything I might do involving correspondence, plus important paperwork like grad school information sheets and things. And a couple more books. Behind that is a plastic file container which has all of my writing work in it, and on top of that is a little pink box with all of my photos in it. The blue bag on the floor is more jewelry supplies -- it's the stuff I'm currently working on, and I carry it with me to D&D sessions every Sunday. On the far right you can see Don's golf clubs. Those have nothing to do with me.

So. Now you know where AP comes from. And now you know why I can't wait to get the house done -- all of the activities represented on (and under) my desk will be done in separate rooms.