moving forward with fear and trepidation

I am a mere 14 hours away from the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life: make an offer on a house.  MAKE AN OFFER ON A HOUSE. (I had to say it twice just to make sure that you understand the enormity of what is about to happen.)  I actually have one person to thank for this: my Dad.  He has given me advice and encouraged me in this endeavor and I don’t think I would have the “guts” to take this step without him.  He has patiently spent hours of research for me on mundane things like how Lake County assesses property taxes, he has had fun google earthing all the potential neighborhoods to make sure they “feel” right, and has given me endless advice as to budgeting and financing. 

Budgeting is an area in my life that I have trouble with.  Actually, trouble is not the correct word: I don’t budget, therefore it is no trouble.  This has also been the area in my life to which my Dad has had the most concern, and probably rightly so.  So for the last few months, I have been reading a book by Dave Ramesy and I have dutifully been going through the motions following his advice.  The first step is to put $1,000 into savings.  I did this last month (June).  Good thing, because after paying an exorbitant price to have movers move all of my belongings into storage, I don’t have too much money in my checking account.  Imagine my extreme pleasure when my real estate agent says to me at 4:30 – “bring a check with you for $1,000 tomorrow (at 8:30) so that we can make the formal offer on the house”.  Had I not been paying attention to my most honorable father, I would not have that money sitting there waiting for an emergency.  Like this one. 

I love you, Dad.  Thank you for your enless patience, priceless advice and unconditional love.  I couldn’t have gotten this far without you.


life's new phase – the interim

Well, yesterday I did something that I think most people who know me are a little concerned about.  I moved out of my apartment, put all of my stuff into storage and am now homeless.  Yes, that’s right – I have no place to live.  This is, of course, a temporary problem: it is the interim phase of the New Phase of my life: namely a hopeful home buyer or at minimum, a solo apartment dweller.

Aside from my parents and grandparents, and aside from living with my Uncle Ben for a few years, (okay, which I admit the times that I was not living with my parents/grandparents/uncle are, granted, 2 out of the first 34 years of my life), I have always lived alone.  When I moved into my apartment in Waukegan 6 years ago, I opted to have a roommate because I was working in a job that made considerably less money and I was in grad school.  I’m still in grad school but I am now in a job that can afford both: single living and grad school.  And so I am choosing this.

Now that I’ve been homeless for 24 hours – I have to say that coordinating my sleeping space is going to be somewhat of a challenge.  I’ve got the first 2-3 weeks covered.  After that, well, I don’t know. 

Stay tuned to what I am calling: The Temporary Hobo Experiment.

and now we return to our regularly scheduled programming

I realized last night that I have been blogging about a lot of things other than knitting, which is okay to a degree because I have a lot of things going on that don’t involve yarn and needles/hooks.  But, there is yarn in my life right now and I feel that I need to blog about it.

First, trying to decide what yarn/needles to pack and which to keep out (not knowing how long I will be houseless) is tough.  Now I suppose that if by some miracle I happen to knit up all the projects that I have in my knitting bag, a trip to the storage unit would be doable.  However, it will take some planning to make certain things accessible so that I’m not moving/scrounging around and opening tons of boxes looking for that “perfect next project”.

On the otherhand, say that I do finish all my current projects, then it will probably be time for school to start and house hunting/moving in/getting adjusted should probably take priority. So it shouldn’t really matter what the next projects are – I won’t have time to work on them.  As it should be.

Now, as to my current projects.  My first pair of socks are about 3/4 of an inch of being done, and I plan on finishing them within the next 2-3 weeks.  I’ll need to wait until Kate gets back from vacation so that she can show me how to bind off – something I currently don’t know how to do.

I’m also working on a baby blanket, block by block and straight stockinette.  Easy and mindless.

What is keeping things interesting is the Super Secret Julie object (a very belated wedding present) and because there is a slim chance that she might actually read this blog, I can’t go into details (hence “super secret”).  What I can say is this: it is the type of project that keeps one interested, challenged and will probably take a long time.  But, being lace-work, will end up being incredibly cheap (the yarn, that is, not my time).  There, I hope that didn’t give anything away.  I wish I could post pics, but that would be way too revealing.  (Sorry Julie!)

slowing down to think

I believe that, for the most part, my parents would describe me a independent to the point of doing things full force, with little or no forethought.  This is not entirely true: I always stop to think about things before I do them, I’ve just probably never mentioned it to anyone while I was in the thought process.  My surrogate mother, Terry, has often said that I am brave and tend to do things that would scare her (not in a bad – BOO – kind of way, but scary in that it might seem difficult or challenging and therefore a little scary as to the unknown factor).  The truth is I feel like I often think too much about things.

So this whole house hunting process is actully petrifying to me.  I’m not scared for my safety as much as I’m scared that I’m not responsible enough to have a home: can I really maintain it?  What if I mess it up?  What if something breaks?  What then?  I can’t really call my Dad because he lives 700 miles away.

Well, I do think that I’ve dealt with most of those issues and have come to terms with them as much as I can, but now a new thought has creeped into my brain and I am almost sorry that it has.  I mentioned to a co-worker yesterday about the house in North Waukegan and I’m interested in and, well, let’s just say that her response was far less than positive.  Now, I’m well aware of the good and bad parts of Waukegan – I’ve lived here for 6 years now.  And I realize that this neighborhood is going through a change – from something fairly bad to something fairly decent.  It is an older neighborhood (homes are typically over 80 years old) and it has met with its fair share of bad times.  But here’s the thing: I firmly believe that Waukegan (in general) is undergoing a transformation of improvement and that this transformation will only improve this neighborhood as Waukegan attracts better businesses and renovation projects.  Which can mean that in the future my house could be worth more than what I would pay for it.  But that is the gamble that I would have to take.

So as I’ve pondered my well-intentioned-co-worker’s comments, I’ve started to have doubts.  In expressing those doubts today on Facebook, I discovered that a faculty member lives about a block and a half from this house – and he loves living there.  So he is going to take me on a little tour on Monday and talk to me about his experience of the last 4 years.  I hate having doubts and it is very unlike me to make a close decision (I think I was about 85% sure that I was going to make an offer on this house) and then change my mind.  I guess that slowing down to think of every single possible aspect of owning a home is a good thing.  I just hope that I don’t over think it.

what day is it…..really?

I strongly believe that the time-space continuum is off by three days.  Today is really Friday the 13th of July and not the 10th.  How do I know this?  Because all staff computers on campus actually stopped doing what they were supposed to do: connect to our campus systems.

Now before you think that I am nuts – remember that there have been occasions in the past in which people have decided that the whole calendar system was off and had to make an adjustment.  The Julian calendar (which is what we use today) was one such adjustment.  The novelty of his system was that for 3 years we observe 365 days and on the 4th year we observe 366 days.  There was another refinement in 1582 (Pope Gregory XIII) who said that a leap year could only occur in those years that are easily divisible by 4 – i.e. the year 1900 was not a leap year, but the year 2000 was. 

So it is not entirely inconceivable that the earth’s axis has changed by a degree thus altering our calendar system.  I’m just glad that I could discover this for you, since it is rather important.  This should further explain the rather strange weather patterns we have been experiencing this year.  It all make sense.

respecting one's property

I have a secret to tell: I love 4th of July DAY and hate 4th of July NIGHT.  Reason: all the neighborhood people who buy the cheap, dingy fireworks and set them off all night long.  And I mean ALL night long.  I hate it.  Probably because I go to bed early, but regardless, I hate hearing all those *booms*, *snap-crackles-and-pops* all night long.  This 4th was even worse.  The house across the street from my small apartment building had a party.  Usually not a big deal as my apartment is in the back.  But on Saturday night several of his guests decided that fireworks would be fun – and that what would be even more fun is to set them off in our parking lot.  They had this one that every time they set it off 2 car alarms in our parking lot would go off.

They finished at about 10:30 (yey) and I was so happy that I started to drift off to sleep.  Only to wake up at 11 and see flashing red lights.  What had happened is the apartment manager called the police (yey) because the people across the street left a mess (boo).  A HUGE mess.  In OUR parking lot.  So the police gave a ticket to the man who held the party (yey) and then made his guests come over and clean up their mess (hooray!).  Several of the guests complained (naturally) that the police were “ruining their 4th” and “this is supposed to be a celebration, can’t we all just get along…?”.  Now I ask you: If I had gone to their house and made a mess and walked away, how much fun would they have then?   I just don’t understand people who don’t respect other people’s property but except for other people to respect theirs.  Honestly.

Shirlee:  I would be happy to supervise and offer encouragement, but I think that caulking is a good skill to have, so I think you should do it.  Just remember: use a gun.  But I would be happy to be present when you do this.  Just let me know!

the truth about caulking

(or “what they don’t tell you in caulking class”)

I spent a considerable time this past weekend learning a new skill  – one that I think puts me on track to being a homeowner: caulking a bathtub.  So I’ve come up with a list of 6 tips that should help you out, should you decide to follow in my footsteps.

1.  Purchase the proper caulking gun.  Here’s what it looks like:


What you do is get a tube of caulk, insert into gun and pull the trigger.  This gives you really good control over where the thing squirts.  I did not buy a caulk gun, instead I opted for the “self gunning” version of caulk that looks like this:


What you do here is cut a little sliver off the top, take your finger and push on the tip (like those Readi-Whip canisters) and squirt where you need it to go.  The only drawback (that I can see) is that a) it doesn’t go where you want it to, and b) it also squirts off the bottom of the tip, producing a massive (and I mean MASSIVE) glob of caulk.  Now if you really want the big glob of caulk, then this is the way to go.

2.   Once you get it squirted in the vacinity of where you actually want it to go, use your finger to push it into all the little nooks and crannies.   This worked well for me.  Seriously, don’t waste your time buying a “caulk pushing into the crack” tool.

3.  If you have a finger (or other caulk pushing appendage) that has a cut on it, use it.  The caulk will provide a nice sealer for the cut and when it dries also becomes waterproof.  Fingers, toes and elbows should work fine.

4.  Once all the caulk is pushed into the cracks, the experts recommend wiping away all excess caulk.  Don’t use your finger for this one.  You need something a little more abrasive that will actually remove the caulk and not just thin it out.  And do it before the caulk dries.  Otherwise the excess caulk that you try to remove looks like real caulk that you don’t want to remove and then you’ll end up back at the beginning.

5.  I also recommend not using the shower (or just-caulked) area until it dries, otherwise you’ll get a gloppy caulk area that will need to be redone, and if you’ve just spent 2 days on the bathtub, then time is of the essence, since bathing is something that people generally prefer one to do.  (READ: don’t prolong the project by having to spend another day preparing the caulking surface and then another day caulking – ’cause now you’ve spent 4 days with no bath/shower instead of 2).

6.  If you live in an apartment or other arrangement where the maintenance is not your responsibility, then PICK UP THE PHONE!  (highly recommended)

So, those are my tips.  The project went fairly well (except for the glob of caulk that I kept squirting out of the can) and the bathtub should be usable by tomorrow.  I’m really glad that I did this little project, as it taught me the lesson that you need proper tools to do a job properly (like I didn’t know it already, DAD, but it is nice to reinforce that concept occasionally).  And the bathtub actually looks nicer.