Monday, April 28, 2008

It's that time again

It's that time of year again- the lilacs are starting to bloom. It reminds me of college graduation, which in my case occurred during lilac week. In that part of the country lilacs bloom later than they do here, so the calendar dates don't exactly line up, but that's OK. College graduation was a very upbeat time in my life. The lilacs bring it back vividly- all of it- the anticipation of a life yet to unfold, the huge relief of being done with school, the excitment of my upcoming summer working in Italy, the yet unanswered question in my mind about whether to accept the offer of grad school in NYC, the parties that we had put off until lilac time, when our studies wouldn't be ruined.

I have no such association with trees like this one- in fact, I don't even know what this is. It currently blooms in the park in front of my house. This spring it is particularly brilliant. It too has a scent, but nothing compares to the lilac.....

Things are looking pretty good indoors as well. This tulip was a spontaneous gift from Garnet as I was leaving his garden the other day.

Here's my patio with the fountain up and running again. I wish I had more time to just sit there and inhale the lilac-laced breeze. This week I will probably make my first offer on the Victorian house in the urban neighborhood. Those who know me are impressed that I have been so level-headed about this possible house purchase. I am not level-headed- I am apprehensive.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The unexpected significance of Gatorade

This bottle of Gatorade has wielded a great deal of power over me today. This week the Child is undergoing the dreaded 4th grade standardized tests which became ever so ominous thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act. When I picked him up from school yesterday he told me that he absolutely had to have a bottle of Gatorade to take to school the next day (today) to get him through the tests. Apparently other students in his class had sported Gatorade bottles during testing. In his rather strict school, that's a real luxury.

We drove to the grocery store and spent a lot of time picking the best flavor/variation of Gatorade, as pictured above, and while I was thrusting it into the refrigerator at home I thought of how unlikely it was that I'd remember to actually place this bottle into his backpack the next morning (today).

Yep- this morning was more frantic than I'd anticipated, because I had to work extra early, which meant ousting the sleeping child from bed at an ungodly hour. He was uncooperative, to say the least. I was so overwhelmed with getting my own self ready for work that I nearly forgot to pack The Child's lunch.

When we arrived at school for the much despised "early program" for kids with parents who have to leave early for work, The Child asked if I had packed his Gatorade. My heart stopped. There was no way I had time to go home or to a store for Gatorade- I was already running late. I had no choice but to abandon a profoundly disappointed child at school.

It was really unnessesary for The Child to tell me what he thought of me as I raced off- I already knew full well that I had failed my standardized 4th grade mothering test.

Prior to the Gatorade incident, I took this photo this morning while walking the dog. It's some sort of flowering crab apple or something.

And then, just beyond the flowering tree, I came upon this sight of a park worker spraying chemicals so toxic that he needs to wear an astronaut suit while he sprays.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Earth issues

Look closely at this idyllic scene as viewed today in the park outside of my house. Very closely. Do you see a strange object, barely, including a yellow spot, near the center of the photo, slightly off to the left?

Here's a closer look, compliments of both digital and optical zoom. It's a park worker spewing toxins (chemical fertilizers) into the Earth. When I first moved to this house, I raised hell over this. They could've used organic, safe pesticides and fertilizers. Eventually, I came to realize that I was only hurting myself with my ranting and raving. Nothing changed except my blood pressure.

Now, this is going to look suspiciously like an attempt to justify my desire to move to an urban neighborhood, but here's the fact: this downtown park (behind the house I'm going to make an offer on) has been known to harbor dandelions. Yep, you read correctly- dandelions! You know what that means, don't you? No chemicals!! Yipee!

And in my opinion, this urban park looks very fine.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Torn between two worlds

This is the view from the front stoop of my current house. The house is located on a huge park which includes one of the world's largest rose gardens. Just a stone's throw from the house are woods and a ravine with a stream. I have enjoyed the plant and animal life that came with this house, no question.

But here's the price I pay: a neighborhood which does not suit me at all. (I admit to elongating this photo to exaggerate the significance of the street, to serve the almighty car.) Although located just 6 or 7 miles from downtown, it is undeniably a suburb. (Note the annoying lack of sidewalks!) For some reason, whirlingbetty seems to have been born with a strong aversion to suburbs. This particular suburb is especially unsuitable in that it is populated with mostly elderly people. The housing here was built in the 50's and 60's, and the current residents bought their houses then. Whirlingbetty landed unwittingly in a retirement community. There are no playmates for The Child, or for Betty.

Additionally, my current house is isolated. During the serious snowstorm a few weeks ago, the city shut down and I was left to shovel myself out, alone. It was a lonely couple of days, with not a person in sight. The only neighboring house is vacant 7 months of the year due to snowbird migration. Also, a few days ago there was a police helicopter circling above for a long time during the night, shining its spotlight onto my property. Eventually a police car pulled up outside of my house, and I was told that they were searching for criminals who had taken off on foot into the park outside of my house. I did not sleep that night.

This is the venerable Victorian I'm considering buying in the downtown neighborhood which I've always been so fond of. This location is "extremely urban", as my friend Garnet observed. The price I'm offering on this house, if I proceed, is much lower than the asking price. The sellers, who apparently inherited the house, just might be eager to unload it, to settle the estate. Things might go my way; they might not.

That's The Child peeking in the back door of the Venerable Victorian. He doesn't know what to think. I've never lived in a large house like this one; he certainly hasn't. He loves this neighborhood, thanks to having whirlingbetty for a mother, and his school is a few blocks away. When asked whether he wants to move here, he replied, "I don't care where I live as long as I have Play Station 3."

This is a scene from the urban neighborhood. Even at night it's lit up and populated. Not everyone likes that; I do. I am not really torn. You've heard the story of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse, right? Well, I'm both City Mouse and Country Mouse, for sure. But my most satisfying living experiences have been in the more urban settings, amidst the bright lights, the hustle and bustle, and the constant flow of energy.

If I need a nature fix, well, here's the park, right behind the Venerable Victorian. This is my favorite park anywhere, with its alive energy contained in a charming setting of trees, flowers and a lake.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A major decision

Any sensible person would balk at whirlingbetty's latest scheme. But to quote a dear late friend, Gloria B, "I am NOT a sensible woman!" The above house is located in the heart of betty's target neighborhood. It has a stone front, as you see, and......

the rest is brick. Very solid brick. The house is an antique, built in 1890. I guarantee that the "McMansions" being built today will not exist 118 years from now.

Betty was not focused on being a good photographer that day, but here's a bit of a view of the first floor. The house was recently renovated, turning it back into its single family state after a stint as a two family. I don't know much about the person making the renovation decisions except that he/she has boring taste. Everything is white or some variation thereof.

At least everything is new. I like the idea of a new Victorian!

That's why I've cooked up a plan to pay cash for the house. Yes, it involves messy things that I normally avoid, like home equity loans and taking an early dispersment of my IRA, but hey, I'll end up with no mortgage, living in the hip, slick and cool urban neighborhood I've been coveting. Across the street is a grocery, a drugstore, a video rental, and restaurants. Yep, it's whirlingbettyland, part 2.

This is the view from one of the upstairs windows. The yard has a huge oak probably as old as the house, and just beyond that you can see my favorite park in this city- a charming urban gathering place with a lake which hosts concerts and festivals each year. The Child's school is within walking distance, and there's a fenced yard for the Chihuahua. Let's see if things work out.......