Fox Den

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On the move… again

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

This little dream house… I can’t believe it, but I’ll be handing the keys over to someone else in July. My two years in Minneapolis have been abundantly sweet, rich, and healing — and now it’s time to go.

I will miss the amazing friends I’ve made, my perfect fence, and the cheese curds. I will grieve the loss of my trails every single day (although the projected Southwest light rail was going to ruin them eventually anyway, ugh). I CANNOT BELIEVE I’ll miss the chance to rent this house through Airbnb for Super Bowl LII. But I will always, always be grateful that I had the chance to live here. Minneapolis was never on my radar until I started flying here for work in 2012, and I fell in love with it. Everyone should be so lucky to get a chance to live here — not just despite the winter, but even because of it. It makes you tough, it’s pretty darn beautiful, and even if you hate it, the summer makes up for it all.

As for where I’m headed, well… see you soon, Nashville!

Old enough

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

I only slept for five hours. When I woke, it was to a frigid house and a dull ache in my lower right abdomen.

Foxy was on the bed with me, curled up like a coyote, snout tucked beneath her tail. While she’s welcome on the bed, she usually doesn’t choose to be there. She’s independent and she needs her space. We’re a lot alike.

This morning, I was glad to find her on the bed. I wasn’t alone. I was freezing and weirdly in pain, but I wasn’t alone.

I picked up my phone and typed it in — abdominal pain lower right side — and it spit out the answer, the authoritative answer: Appendicitis. Go to the hospital immediately, it said. It will burst within 24 hours, it said. Once it bursts, it’s too late. You are dead, it said.

Appendectomy cost, I typed. I found a story about a Reddit post in which the bill for a 20-year old guy totaled $55,000. “I guess I’ll never afford that wallpaper,” I thought. Mentally subtracting my very high insurance deductible from my bank account, I decided that before driving myself to the hospital, I should try drinking some Metamucil, which I stock in my cupboard because at some point, I became old enough to stock Metamucil in my cupboard.

I got out of bed and put on a down jacket and wool socks. Why was the house so cold? I made my way down the stairs and into the kitchen. Two rounded teaspoons of orange powder in a tall glass of water, then down the hatch. Within 30 minutes, I felt fine.

Appendectomy averted.

But the furnace. The furnace wasn’t working. The thermostat read 50 degrees. I texted Dane next door and asked him if he knew anything about furnaces, and he said he didn’t, but came over to look anyway. We took the panels off the machine and looked inside with flashlights — for what, we didn’t know.

I found a big cricket dead beside the furnace, and then realized it wasn’t a big cricket but a tiny mouse. Not an insect. An actual mammal with bones. How long had it been there? Did whatever killed the mouse kill the furnace, too? I grabbed it in a dryer sheet and threw it in the dumpster.

I called an HVAC repairman, and he showed up in the afternoon. I left him in the basement. Later, he called me downstairs. “What I’m about to tell you will make you want to tell me to get the hell out of your house,” he said.

The furnace is shot. I need a new one. They recommend also replacing the AC unit at the same time, especially since my AC unit is already over 20 years old, on its last legs. I thought about telling him to get the hell out of my house. When he gave me the estimate, I stared at him, and then said, “I want to curl up in a ball on this basement floor.” He laughed. I didn’t. It’s more money than I’ve ever spent on anything, even a car, save this house itself.

But my house is so cold.

I almost did it. I almost signed on the dotted line, which would have guaranteed me a brand new HVAC system by Tuesday. But at the last minute, as the salesman was walking around my house counting and measuring the windows in order to file the permits, my defeated, slumped shoulders straightened up.

If I’m old enough to stock Metamucil in my cupboard, then God knows I’m old enough to have learned to seek a second opinion, and probably a third. I’m also old enough to know that money is just money, so even if it’s worst case scenario, well, oh well. I’m old enough not to panic at a financial gut punch. I’m old enough to look a man in the face and let him know that I will not be pressured into anything.

And if I’m that old, then I’m definitely old enough to sit at my dining room table at 8pm on a Saturday night just typing out the events of the day.

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My favorite words, via Emily McDowell

The opposite of mending fences

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

If you know me at all, you know my fence. Installing it was a huge deal in my life, and I talk about it to basically everyone I know. (I never promised I was cool.)

But when I moved into the house, there was an old stretch of a privacy fence at the top of the driveway, separate from my Fence of Glory. Maybe 12 feet long, it didn’t enclose anything — it was just a strip leftover from what had once been a full fence around the backyard. It served no purpose for me, except to hide my shovels behind. One of the most un-exciting things about being a homeowner is the fact that one has multiple shovels.

Last week when I returned from a work trip, I found that the old fence had fallen over.

Fence 1

And lest the neighbors start looking at my dilapidated house and thinking I’m a meth cook or something, this weekend I ripped it out with my own two hands.

I borrowed a few things from the neighbors — a drill, a sledgehammer, and a crowbar — and got to work. Most of it was easy to disassemble, just removing the screws from the boards and stacking them one at a time. But when it got down to just the frame, I had to get down to business. It was crowbar time.

So I crowbarred, and sometimes I sledgehammered, and the whole thing was very Chip and Jojo except my hair will never be as thick and luscious as hers. But I was DOING IT.

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At one point, I yanked on a board and the whole frame came crashing to the ground — and instinctively, much like the time I watched 10 Cloverfield Lane, I screamed.

A man was walking by. “You okay?” he called.

“Yeah, sorry. I’m just being a girl.”

He looked at the fence and then looked back at me, felled fence and crowbar in hand. “It doesn’t look like it.”

Damn straight, man.

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My cattle panel fence

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

This is going to expose me for being the spoiled brat of a consumerist that I am, but here it goes anyway: I still have an iPhone 4 and it’s RUINING MY LIFE. *throws self on ground to flail*

A rundown of my first world phone problems: It’s slow. I try to slide the bar to answer a call and it just sits there. Siri is broken; she sounds like a smoker from Boca Raton. When I use Maps for directions, there’s a delay that results in me being told to exit about five seconds too late. And the camera — you know, the 5 megapixel camera that used to feel so extravagantly advanced — is absolute crap.

So when it came time to photograph the finished product of the cedar-framed cattle panel fence I had installed, the iPhone just wouldn’t do. Nay, I say to thee. This was an occasion for a good old fashioned digital camera — just like the pioneers used.

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I love my fence so much, and in a way, it’s changed my everyday life. It’s absolutely luxurious to be able to throw Foxy outside in the morning and not have to follow her; she can hunt squirrels to her heart’s content while I make my coffee. I love the fact that the entire yard is enclosed, so if I want to sit on my front porch swing (because I have a front porch swing, just like I’ve wished for my entire life), Foxy can hang around. I may not have the most up-to-date phone — but damn it, I have a fence surrounding a tiny little dream house, and that means that life is pretty extravagant.

The List

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

My entire office takes the last two weeks of August off. It’s such a brilliant idea, because when everyone is out of the office, no one needs to catch up when we all return. Everything just… pauses… and then it starts again.

I knew that this break was coming, so I thought about what I might want to do – visit Seattle, or Nashville, or Denver, or even Hong Kong (dream big) – but in the end, I decided to stay right here in the old M-P-L-S.

It was such a good decision.

Don’t get me wrong – the last two weeks have been quiet as a mouse. Many boring tasks were attended to. I spent 90% of my time alone – by choice, because as an introvert, this was a DREAM COME TRUE.

Since I’m heading back to work tomorrow morning, I thought I’d list all that’s been accomplished in the last 17 days:

  • Enrolled in my new 401K
  • Rolled over my old 401K
  • Found a new dentist, and had my old records sent over
  • Found a new vet for Foxy, and had her old records sent over
  • Vacuumed my car
  • Weeded every flower bed in my yard
  • Picked up all of the sticks in my yard
  • Visited the DMV for the third time
  • Touched up paint in the bathroom
  • Bought a desk off Craigslist
  • Bought a headboard for the guest bed off Craigslist
  • Bought bedding for the guest bed
  • Mowed the lawn
  • Organized the work bench in the basement
  • Visited the Minnehaha dog park seven times
  • Visited Wisconsin twice
  • Read two books (For the Love, The Invention of Wings)
  • Watched two movies (The Theory of Everything, Whiplash – and I sent Birdman back before finishing it)
  • Watched Good Morning America every day
  • Killed a mouse in the kitchen
  • Got an oil change
  • Got a massage
  • Brushed the dog (Foxy’s coat is VERY soft these days – I blame Solid Gold)
  • Got the dog enrolled in doggie daycare, just in case I ever decide to take her (the jury is still out)
  • Organized my closets
  • Made multiple CrockPot freezer meals to get ready for the fall
  • Arranged for gutters to be installed
  • Arranged for the way-high-up trees to be trimmed
  • Figured out my property boundaries without the help of a land surveyor (I shall keep my $900, thankyouverymuch)
  • Got YARD WASTE stickers for my bins
  • Installed new ink cartridges in my printer
  • Hosted Greta and Jeff for two nights
  • Hung pictures on the walls
  • Hung a door back on the hinges all by myself
  • Got a toilet brush and a paper towel holder and a kettle
  • Edited a piece I’ve written for a magazine
  • Hit 20K+ steps on my Fitbit a lot of days
  • Bought a ticket to Hong Kong after all

GRIN. I am smiling so huge. I’ve wanted to visit my dear friends in Hong Kong since I was in high school, and come February, I’ll finally get my chance!

I am so grateful for an uninterrupted window of time to take care of all of these little tasks that would have worn on me throughout the fall. Tomorrow, I’ll go back to work a little less ragged, slightly more together, and ready to take on a very busy season.

May you embrace your staycation with gusto.

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The guest room is ready for you.

The Fox Den

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

I’m a homeowner again – as in, fare thee well, all of my dollars.

But for a most worthy cause.

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A few weeks ago, I traded the little sum I got from the sale of the Shotgun in Denver for a 1916 – farmhouse? Bungalow? Victorian? The official style is unclear, since different elements of the house favor different trends – but in any case I’m dubbing it the Fox Den, for obvious reasons.

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I have tiny-bit-more-than doubled my square footage – which, coming from a 600 square foot Shotgun house, was not hard to do. Still though, just a 2 bed / 1 bath feels like so much space. I have an entire closet JUST FOR COATS – and it’s a good thing, because come Minnesota winter, you know I’m going to need them.

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Here are a few things I’ve learned in this particular home-buying process:

  • Internet service providers are like political candidates – they’re all the worst, but they’re all we have to choose from.
  • Mowing a lawn is basically just like vacuuming, but burning more calories.
  • When house hunting, it’s best to buy the first and only house you look at*.

It’s true: I’m two for two. When I bought the Shotgun in Denver, it was because I wandered into an open house while on a walk (not house hunting at all), stood in the front doorway, thought “I like this – maybe I should buy it?” and then I did. I never looked at a single other abode.

This time around, my friend Gabe’s friend JMatt was selling his house without listing it through a realtor – and when I found out about it, I just so happened to be in Minneapolis wrapping up with Larabar. So I grabbed my friend Mark (who was in town from New York) and we went to take a look.

Mark asked all of the questions you’re supposed to ask when considering the largest purchase of your life (“When was the roof replaced?” “Why is there a cluster of wires coming up through the laundry shoot?” “Allow me to inspect the basement walls.”) – but I just walked around swooning.

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And then I bought it.

I thought about looking at other houses in other neighborhoods, but… why? This house was everything I wanted: warm, welcoming, with enough space for guests to come and stay. A big yard for Foxy. A back deck and a front porch swing. A mile and a half from work. Why WOULDN’T I buy this house?

So now I’m settled in. I love it so much. It’s more than I knew to ask for or imagine, and falls into the “Generous Things I Do Not Deserve But Will Never Take For Granted” column (which is already overflowing, to be honest). I am grateful for my home, and want to fill it up with my people.

So please come and see me.

*I cannot be held liable for this backfiring in your face.