Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Yeah, okay, I know those are lyrics from a Christmas carol, but I don't care. I LOVE Halloween. My dad is here tonight, on his way to Boston to drop off some some of my grandmother's furniture at my sister's. Halloween is our big holiday. I'm so glad he was here to carve jack '0 lanterns.

He's more of a traditionalist...

while I worked on a 3-D bat diorama using this metal cut-out thing.

Why, yes, I DO carve pumpkins with a hammer, thank you very much.

The best part is when you light the pumpkin and you can see the cut-out bat shapes "in the distance."

Not bad, not bad at all.

I'm ridiculously excited about my costume this year, too. Joel had to scrap his original idea, which was to be a lesser known Star Wars character of an alien race who wears a bright orange worker jumpsuit. He scrapped this plan because he didn't want to be mistaken for someone wearing an illegal alien costume, which has caused a bit of dustup around here. So Joel is joining me in dressing up as a character from MY favorite geeky pop culture phenomenon. Can you guess who we're going to be? Hint: Joel and I are going to three parties tomorrow night, but we have to go "just as friends."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Giant Catch-Up Entry about... The HOUSE!

Olliez in ur box, movin' to ur new house.

OMG, where have I been?!?! What happened?

Yes. Hi! I have a blog, which I never, ever update anymore. At least not with, you know, words. I have so much to tell you, and yes, I have pictures of the house. My house. Well, our house. I am a homeowner! I own a home. In 359 more payments anyway.

See, here's the thing. You know how I had this huge influx of readers after the Offbeat Bride feature last March, long before Joel and I even realized that buying a house could be a possibility for us? And you know how a bunch of those people actually asked me to shoot their weddings? Well, those weddings filled almost every weekend from July 11th to October 10th.

You might think that I could, like, relax and stuff since the next wedding I have lined up is December 26th, but as it turns out, I have a phenomenal amount of editing to do. Funny, that. It's Saturday at 1:30 a.m., and I am parked on my couch for my second consecutive 48-Hour Weekend Wedding Edit Bonanza with the entire weekend spread out before me. I have my laptop, a portable hard drive, the remote control and nothing to do but crop, color correct, resize, retouch and upload my little heart out. Every now and then I take a break from one event to edit another, just to keep things spicy. Sort of.

But I'm doing it in my own living room! Which looks like this...

My favorite part is the bay window behind the couch. I like to think of it as "the reading nook," and I promise you, as soon as I finish everything I have to do, I will sit there and read.

For now, the cats particularly like it. Not pictured: the swarms of ladybugs that have been crawling in through a crack and dying. I'm sure it has something to with the fact that the temperature has fluctuated between 30 and 80 degrees in the last four days, and truly, if one HAS to put up with an infestation of insects, ladybugs are the nicest kind you could ask for. The fact that they all crawl in and die, though? Kinda depressing. Also? Gross.

We have another bay window in the kitchen, which is fun. (Yes, for the record, these are the windows we have to have rebuilt some time in the next two years. It kind of sucked when we got the inspection done, but it wasn't a dealbreaker.) The nice thing about the kitchen is that it has been completely updated sometime in the last five years or so. Most of the places in our price range still had the small dark cabinets and appliances from the 1970s, often in lovely harvest gold or olive green colors.

I'm still just loving all the little things that we just didn't have in our old apartment. Like water pressure, hot water as soon as you turn on the tap, a real dishwasher and a garbage disposal. (I love you, dishwasher. I really, really do.)

And counter space. Hello, lovah.... We have a mud room right off the kitchen with even more counter space that is, um, not really shown in this picture, so much. I hugged the counters during our first showing of the house. Joel had to tell me to play it cool, although the seller's agent wasn't there at the time, so it was fine.

Ollie? Kind of a camera whore.

Not to be outdone, here's Fred on our bed. Hey, that rhymes.

Fred: "You interrupt my sunbeam nap with your clicking? I cut you!"

Again, it's really about the simple pleasures right now. Joel and I never had a closet where we could fit all of our clothes simultaneously. Neither of us are what anyone would call fashion forward, persay, but the old situation was just sad. Especially for Joel, who had to keep his teacher clothes in a small closet with the cleaning supplies. Sorry, honey.

This is Joel's "man room." The theme of this room is clutter.

I... have a problem thinking clearly in a very cluttered space. One of the reasons there aren't many updates here during the purging/packing/transitional period that was September is because the moving chaos just about unhinged me. At one point, I was actually just freaking the fuck out, surrounded by boxes and tape and things to donate, going, "I can't, I can't, I can't. I just- I can't." Joel was all, "STOP IT" and I was all, "....I can't."

I have promised that I will try very, very hard not to care about the clutter in the Man Room. I really, really hate being Naggy Naggerson Who Nags All Day Long with the Nagging in a Nagging Way of Nagfullness. I have turned over a new leaf in our new house. I embrace the Man Room! I will try to see the ever-increasing pile of dirty man socks under Joel's desk as the significant scientific contribution that it is, so necessary to understanding the fragile symbiosis between cotton and toe jam, essential to the production of feetstink. Who knows? Maybe feetstink is the biofuel of the future.

The thing is, the house is kind of quirky. It was built in 1920, and you can definitely tell that previous owners have added on various extensions over the years. And apparently, this blue tile... thingy used to be a window.

Also, some previous owner decided that they should apply faux grotto texture in the stairwell leading to the upstairs all over the walls, which I have learned from watching home improvement shows on HGTV that removing it would be a special kind of torture. We have this small... area? leading to our upstairs bathroom. It doesn't have a door, but rather a gloopy stucco archway.

Yeah... What were they thinking? It's like, "One minute, I'm in a suburban home in the Lower Hudson Valley, and then... Italy!" Ciao!

There's no door. It's too small to be a bedroom, and even if it were, you'd have to cut through said bedroom to get to the shower. So... it's our pet room, for now.

The other quirky thing about the house is when you first walk in the front door, you walk into a finished basement. The previous owners had a bed down there. We figured it was a guest room or a teenagers room or something, so we had them leave the bed there. We planned to move it to the attic, which is also finished, and thanks to my mother-in-law, newly insulated so it's actually habitable now.

When we went to move it, we realized that the metal chimney pipe over it which connects our (broken) woodstove to the roof was leaking like crazy. The bed was a bed of MOLD (Shudder and gag) Several contractors, a couple hundred dollars and one bulk trash pickup day later, you are looking at the future shooting area of my studio!

The benches and track lighting were already there, practically begging to be a gallery/display space. You have to kind of imagine those big frames full of bright, colorful prints and surrounded by large 24 x 18 gallery wraps, which I have to hang some time between now and our housewarming party.

I'm also pulling together a waiting room/sample viewing area and my own dream office.

This is a crappy photo (and it's only cluttered by the things Joel has yet to move to the Man Room- ha!), but if you squint, you can kind of see what I'm going for.

The attic will be our guest room. It's kind of divided by a closet area, so there's a nice skylight on one side.

Have no fear, Shannon and family! The paint drop cloth and Dyson vacuum will be replaced by a bed and two night stands that Amanda is handing down next weekend.

It will be an actual guest room when you get here in November. We even threw out the rat skeletons (gag! shudder! cringe! gagshudderercringe) and circa 1940 rat traps we found in the crawl space under the roof, just for you. :)

The backyard is huge. Someone, a long time ago, cared about about the yard a great deal. I don't think those people were the people we just brought it from, to put it mildly. We brought in landscapers to clear the massive overgrowth, poison ivy and dead trees (well, one dead tree, plus an insane number of vodka bottles) and uncovered some rose and hydrangea bushes.

The outside of the house also needs to be repainted eventually, and we need to repave the driveway after we get one more winter out of it. The front door you see there, the one with the weird damage to the bottom, like someone tried to kick it in at some point? That has already been replaced.

It's amazing to me, as I look at these photos that I've taken over the course of the last seven weeks, how much we've done. The roof has been replaced, the bed of mold discarded, the kitchen, mud room, living room, bedroom and attic repainted. The door has been replaced, the yard rehabilitated. Everything has been caulked, light bulbs replaced, everything. There's absolutely no way that this would have been possible without my parents, my in-laws, and our friends. I traveled up and down 1-95 every weekend shooting weddings in New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Manhattan while they spackled, painted, sanded and cleaned. Amazing. I'm so grateful.

Joel worked his ass off.

Our goal was to get our full security deposit back, even though the apartment was completely renovated when I moved into it six years ago. There was nary a scratch on the brand new hardwood floors when I moved in. The landlords (who are contractors) had become increasingly prickly in the past year and a half. Mr. M. freaked out on us when he came up to help with an overflowing toilet and saw that our kitchen cabinet doors were dusty. Yeah. We told him he was not wrong in his concerns about our dusty, dusty cabinet doors (not to mention Ollie the Contraband Cat we never happened to inform them about... oops), but he was being very unkind in the way he was dealing with us. Then he started yelling, "You say I am an unkind man! You want me to leave without fixing this?" pointing at the toilet gushing sewage everywhere. Sigh...

So I was genuinely touched when he gave me the full security deposit back. I went back one time once it was completely clean and empty to pick up the cable boxes we had to return to the cable company. Turning the key in the lock for the last time, I couldn't believe I wouldn't ever be back again.

This is the apartment where Joel picked me up for our first date, where we fell in love, where we came home from our honeymoon. It's where Stephen kissed me for the last time, where I healed my broken heart, where I started over with my cameras and my pets. It's the street where we found Ollie, the roof Luke and I climbed out on from the fire escape to drink beer. I even felt affectionate about the doorbell that never worked but still bears my last name.

I got all sentimental and pulled out my camera out to take a picture of the third floor window where I used to come home to three sets of silly dog and cat ears, silhouetted by the lamp behind them, perking up when my car door slammed.

Mr. M. saw me on the porch and came out, even though he didn't hear the doorbell when I rang it (OMG! So typical!) He wished me all the very best, asked some fatherly questions about the new house, gave me a little contractor advice and said goodbye. I handed him my keys, but I felt like I was turning in my 20s, frankly. And then I went home.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Sneak Preview: Emma

Emma's mom and dad have been so awesomely patient for the past couple of weeks waiting to see these! I'm uploading the full set to their password-protected proofing gallery RIGHT NOW, but I didn't want them to wait a minute together for at least a sneak peek. This girl is a charmer. She's just learned to walk officially, and she is FAST! I had so much fun with this one. The curls! My goodness, look at the CURLS!

Not to mention the pouty lip! Cuteness!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Be Back Soon

We are all moved in and in the process of unpacking, getting our security deposit back, changing over our services, etc. I should have proper Internet access again as of tomorrow morning. I'm playing catch up here but will be back on the ball shortly. Thanks for your patience!