Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I love my little yard. Much of it is overhung by trees, giving it a magical, shady feel. That area also seems to have a LOT of snails. Not sure why, although as I love snails, I have no complaints about this. I also have mushrooms. Something about all the snails and mushrooms makes it feel a bit like fairyland to me. Meanwhile, I got some starter fluid for my mower and it started right up and I was able to mow the sunny/grassy parts of the lawn.

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I started clearing out the space next to the shed. The shed (which is going to have to go in a year or so as it's leaky and ugly - although it'll do for now) is in a stupid place. Its location kind of forms a corner for the yard, and the area behind it is all overgrown. When I eventually do get a new shed, it's going to go back in the corner so the yard will have more room. For now, though, I figured I should start clearing out the space to the right and rear of the shed. That area is going to be fenced in for the dogs that I'm getting from my mom. Granted, they'd have no problem going in amongst the weeds and brush and spiders, but if I have to go in after them, I'd like the area to be open. I was surprised by how much space was back there once I was able to clear a way in. (Although I felt very much like Bilbo tackling Mirkwood with all the spiders in there - and me with my small-sized pruning shears to fight them with!)

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I also started decorating. I don't have any furniture in there yet other than my bed (and it might  be some time before I have much furniture at all), but I figured I should at least start hanging things. I framed my diplomas and hung them in the corner of my ginormous bedroom (where my office is going to be) and found places for my Kyrgyz shyrdaks (felt rugs) as well as a Dr. Who poster and a map of Numenor. There's a detailed map of Kyrgyzstan in my dining room, and a Kandinsky print in the living room, so we're off to a good start decor-wise. I'll be heading back up to GA tomorrow to get some more of my furnishings out of storage.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Solstice Transformation & Other Adventures

Happy Summer Solstice!

You know you're getting old when you spend your Friday night buying and using cleaning supplies and enjoying it. I'm either getting old or turning into a '50s housewife. The new old house is actually quite clean - cleaner than a lot of places I've rented over the years - but I still needed to buy basic housecleaning stuff. I got home around 10pm, and was up bright and early this morning to head back up there to continue the cleaning process... and to get my hair cut.

I could easily have gotten my hair cut here in Gainesville, but I figured that if I'm moving to High Springs, I should get a hair stylist in High Springs. I also wanted to do something VERY different with my hair. My office is a 15 minute walk from my classrooms, meaning that even once I move and am no longer walking to work, I will still be spending a lot of time walking around outside in the hot Florida sun. I'd been putting my bobbed hair into a short and rather unattractive pony tail for weeks now, just to get my hair off of my skin. I went back and forth over whether or not to just chop it all off, and finally decided to go ahead and do it. I went to the Talk of the Town Salon and had the owner, Antoinette, give me an incredibly short do:

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Afterwards, I stopped in at the High Springs Coffee Company for some caffeine and a bagel to sustain me through an afternoon of driving. This is a fairly new coffee shop (I wouldn't have known, as the whole town is new to me, but apparently they've only been open a few weeks), with a great ambiance, friendly people, and tasty food and beverages.

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Then I drove from High Springs to Dekle Beach, where Frank (my mom's bf) has a beach house. Frank had decided that he didn't want to have to deal with mowing the yard at his vacation home, so he hired a landscaping service and offered me his lawnmower. As the grass in my new yard is already starting to get out of control, I jumped at the chance for a free lawnmower. I have a key to his place, and he told me where inside his house he keeps the key to his storage shed. So I drove the hour and a half to Dekle to pick up my lawnmower... only to discover that my key (which I'd never before tried to use, as I'd always gone to Dekle with my mom and Frank) didn't work. Let's just say I may have a future career as a cat burglar, because I got myself inside that house anyway.

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Dekle is located on the Gulf coast, directly west of High Springs. Unfortunately, there isn't a straight shot to get there; you either have to drive way out of your way to the north or to the south. The distances are almost identical, so I made the loop.

I loaded up the lawnmower (hanging out the back of my open trunk) and drove it back to High Springs. Of course, this being Florida, we had a lovely late afternoon downpour, which filled my trunk with water. It also may have filled the mower with water because after all that, I couldn't get the damn thing to start. I'm going to try draining the gas tank and filling it with fresh gas tomorrow. Meanwhile, my right arm is killing me from all the times I yanked on the pull cord.

I also went to Lowe's and loaded up on more stuff for the house - gas can (for the lawn mower), shovel and rake, mailbox and stand, paint scraper, power drill, blinds, hose, etc..... I suspect I will be spending a lot of money at Lowe's over the next year. Almost everything I got was stuff that I needed - except for the lantana. I love the way lantana looks AND it's one of the few plants that is hardy enough to survive living with me. (Or without me, if you think about how my Georgia lantana is thriving in my absence.) My house has a bracket for hanging a hanging-basket of some sort, so I bought a basketed lantana.

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My lantana in its hanging basket

Tomorrow, my plans are to sleep as late as my body wants, and then to drive up to High Springs to see about installing blinds (something that is never, ever a fun experience).

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I feel very, very lucky.

Depending on where you live in the US, there are quite a few places where it makes more sense to buy a house - if you can - than to rent. North Florida is one such place. True, there are plenty of very expensive houses, but if you're lucky, you might stumble across a very good deal. One that you could purchase for the price of 4 years of rent (or less, if you're planning on renting more than a one-bedroom apartment). 

Of course, you'd have to be able to get a mortgage (I can't, despite having a kickass credit score and a full-time job. Yes, I tried. They've apparently cracked way the hell down since the housing bubble burst.) or you'd have to be able to pay in cash. I couldn't do that either. But like I said, I am very, very lucky. My mom and her bf have lent me the money to buy a house! And we've bought one! 

We looked at quite a few houses within commuting distance of my job, all in the under-$40k price range. Most weren't habitable. A couple were, but were kind of gross and needed a lot of work. Or they were in really bad neighborhoods. Or they were combinations of all of the above.

Then there was one foreclosure that didn't look so hot on the outside, but which had been almost completely redone on the inside. It was bank owned, and they were asking $39k. We got it for $30k. I keep waiting to wake up from this ridiculous dream, because it seems like we have gotten a hell of a deal. It's even in a decent neighborhood! True, there's still a good bit that will need to be done. My immediate concerns are getting it fumigated for termites (sigh) and fixing the roof (it seems to be the original roof from 1920, when the place was built, and it's mostly okay, but it leaks over the laundry room), and getting the yard fenced, which are all expensive endeavors, but....

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I have said for years that I wanted a peach kitchen. And this one is not only brightly peach, but has green counter tops! I bought a house with an orange and green kitchen!

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Standing in the dining room, looking towards the living room and the hallway to the master bedroom. That hallway is the one bit of floor that hadn't been done.

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Living room, facing the dining room.

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Spare bedroom

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The master bedroom is ridiculously huge.

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And the bathroom has been redone!

Here's a video tour, set to music by Sirena, in case you're interested :-)

A HUGE thank you goes out to my mom, to Frank, and to Candy Anderson of Watson Realty!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

last weekend, this week

Last weekend I went up to Georgia. Because of my schedule, I knew that being gone all weekend was going to put me behind a bit... but 'a bit' turned out to be quite an understatement.

Mom and I went horseback riding on Saturday morning. The weather was dreary, but it didn't rain... and the cloud cover kept the temperature way down. Given how rarely Honey and Merlin get ridden, I am always so amazed by how well-behaved they are. I will say that since I hadn't ridden in nearly a year, I was unbelievably sore afterwards. I wonder how the horses felt? Haha.

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Horse cam! Honey's ears and Merlin's ass; this is how pictures taken while riding these guys usually look. Honey does not like to be out front!

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There are so many dragonflies out at mom's land - and this fella was very into posing for the camera!

I mowed the yard of my GA house for the first time in months. Amazingly, my garden was still alive under everything.

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My Saturday evening involved a trip to WalMart. What else do you do in southeast GA? There was a pretty incredible sunset that night, although unfortunately I was in the not-so-picturesque WalMart parking lot at the time.

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Saturday evening my mom and I picked up what looked like a homeless puppy. It was near a house that was near her land - and we did knock on their door, but there was no answer. Given how skinny and pathetic looking it was, we took it home. We named her Petra, and she was super sweet. She gobbled down food and slurped up water like she hadn't had food or drink in days, and spent the night snuggled up next to me on my pillow.

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The next morning, mom and I swung by the house near where we'd found the puppy, just on the off chance that it really was theirs. And yep, it was their puppy. Seriously? The scrawny, super hungry/thirsty, puppy that was out in the road actually has a home? Sigh. Yep. I hated to give her up, but given how many animals we have between the two of us - and how many actually homeless animals are in that part of Georgia - we had to return her. I hope she will be OK, but given that the owner told us about how his previous two dogs had gotten run over, I am not overly hopeful. NPH, little girl. (And before anyone mentions calling law enforcement or the local humane society, the puppy's owner is a cop, and the local humane society? Well, it's this place. Granted they're now on their fourth director in seven years, but same song, different verse if you ask me.)

I drove back down to Florida on Sunday afternoon. I figured I'd take a nap, get up, go grocery shopping, and then spend my evening lesson planning and getting everything ready for the upcoming work week. Well, I took a nap... and woke up with the beginning of a migraine. I had no food, so the whole grocery shopping thing was a necessity. I popped some Excedrin and tried to do a whirlwind trip through Publix (closest grocery store to my apartment) before it hit in full force. I was mostly successful, except for forgetting such essentials as deodorant and cat food. Sigh. At that point I had to take an Imitrex and was done for the night. (It was actually one of the worst migraines I'd had in a long while. They always enhance any other aches and pains I may have, and between having ridden the horse and having wrestled with the push mower up and down the back porch stairs then through months' worth of unmowed lawn, I had some pretty strong aches before the thing started. Once it kicked into gear, it was essentially a full-body migraine. It was horrendous.)

Luckily I was mostly prepared for my classes on Monday, but honestly it has been one loooooong week of playing catch-up. I've been so busy all week that I decided not to set any alarms this morning, and I slept until 12:30 - which was wonderful and most definitely needed. I still have a lot of work to do (it seems like that's going to be the theme for the rest of my life, haha), but at least I am well-rested!

In the meanwhile, BIG NEWS is coming soon, so stay tuned :-)