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Blizzards and house hunting

March 10, 2009

After having been sick with various colds and later mono and infected tonsils for well over a month, I’m just now starting to get better after being sick since the last week in January. And what happens on the day that I was finally going to go back to work? It blizzards. And not just a little snowstorm, but a blizzard big and bad enough to basically shut down the entire city. And this is Fargo we’re talking about, here. Fargo never shuts down.

So, cozied up to my computer in my bedroom (I’m going to take a nice long nap when this post is done since I had to get up early and go into work before closing up shop 2 hours later) I can ignore the howling winds and whiteout conditions outside and dream of spring.

 Last week, still voiceless and hurting from swollen tonsils but otherwise all right, I cleaned through my closet full of clothes and my packed away spring clothes. I’m moving to NY this summer and might only be able to take things that can fit in one, and possibly two cars (albeit probably mini-SUVs like the Pontiac Vibe, my mom’s car). So, I ruthlessly cleared through things I haven’t worn in ages or that don’t quite fit right, including a lot of cute, dressier clothes, and over a dozen pairs of shoes, many of which are very cute and were never worn, simply because they were not comfortable enough or I just didn’t have outfits or ocassions to wear them with/to. My sister and I are planning on having a garage sale this spring before we both move (she into a new apartment, me out of the house for good). But, in looking through all my clothes, I’m dreaming of the springtime when I can once again wear skirts and shorts and cute flats and heels (snow + cute shoes usually = disaster).

On Sunday I went house hunting with a couple friend of mine. The girl I’ve known since middle school and her husband is very nice, too. They are a cute, very nerdy, WoWing couple. Anywho, we went and looked at a few of the tiniest, most ill-designed houses I’ve ever seen (their price range is around $100,000 — these houses were way overpriced). We only looked at three houses, but the first and last houses were tiny, with itty, bitty kitchens with no room for kitchen tables, and no dining rooms. The one kitchen was slightly bigger and had a tiny little table with two chairs. The other was a galley kitchen with counters only on one side and a little ledge counter on the other with two stools tucked under it. That was where they ate.

Now, I consider the kitchen and the kitchen table (whether it’s in the kitchen or in the dining room) to be the center of a household. So this begs the question: Where the hell do these people eat? It was as if the whole house was off-kilter.

The third house we looked at was very large. An old (c. 1910) three bedroom, 1 1/2 bath with huge windows everywhere and a well-windowed basement. It had a huge living room and dining room with hardwood floors. The kitchen was beautiful. A nice big square room, with tons of counter and cupboard space. But the very best part was just off the kitchen above the stair down to the basement; it was a walk-in pantry.

There was a small counter space with cupboards underneath that sat below a window overlooking the backyard and open shelving all around the two other walls, nearly up to the ceiling. Now, my friend Melissa is an avid cook, and she was absolutely in love with the kitchen. The cons of the house (no garage and no room for one, very little closet space, and no yard) were things that she doesn’t really care about. But that kitchen, and the huge formal dining room, were amazing to her, and I completely agree.

I’ve been thinking about that pantry for a while now. I’ve only baked yeast bread a couple of times, but I really love it. The only problem is that is creates kind of a mess, and you need to have a waist-high work space, nothing higher, nothing shorter, for the optimal kneading surface. That pantry would have been the perfect place. Slap a big wooden or marble cutting board on top of the cabinet under the window for kneading and line the shelves with cannisters of all the good baking stuff and nests of mixing bowls. It would be perfect.

My boyfriend is a Mr. Fix-It and has told me that when we get married (yes, when) he wants to register for tools. Since I am hopeless when it comes to fixing things, and since he knows damn well that I will be registering for kitchen stuff, I told him that I absolutely do not have a problem with this. But dreaming of that pantry has got me wishing for a kitchen with open shelving and a wedding registery full of beautiful, airtight glass containers and cannisters, and vintage-inspired mixing bowls to fill the shelves with.

But I guess for now I’ll just have to dream. I probably won’t get the kitchen of my dreams until I’m well into middle age, unless the boy and I manage to buy a rambling old farmhouse with a big kitchen while we’re still young. But I think I’m okay with that. I was talking with my mom and sister the other day about moving out and saving money and living frugally and my mother made a very good point: it is much easier to sacrifice when you are young than when you are old. So live by living frugally and cutting corners when you are young and staying out of debt and not living beyond your means gives you the gift of a relatively worry-free middle- and old-age.

She is right. I’d rather live in relative poverty as a poor grad student than as a retiree. Not only is it more socially acceptable to be young and poor than middle-aged and poor, it’s also a lot easier on your bones.

Speaking of, I’ve got a few aches and pains from all that shoveling, and since the city is shut down and I can’t leave the house, I’m off for a nap.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. e.m.smith permalink
    March 31, 2009 1:38 AM

    Sorry to hear about the colds. I had many when I was a kid / young adult. Large quantities of Vit C & E help (like, up to 1 gram of C and 4 or 5 E’s your need goes way up when ill) and so does making sure you have enough omega 3 fatty acids (fish, fish oils, and fax meal or flax oil). Sleep all you can and stay really warm if at all possible. Hot tea can help cook the bugs on your tonsils and lots of garlic (“Russian Penicillin” was what it was called in WWII…)

    I’ve been able to stop a cold in 1 day with a megadose of C (1 gram) and a hot tea / long sleep combo.

    Remember that it’s always possible to mail things to yourself! I once moved onto a sailboat and dumped a lot of my stuff. I still regret some of that now… If you really like something, find a friend to mail it to you when you’ve settled in in N.Y.

    We have a decent kitchen table, yet everyone ends up eating in their favorite places. Couch, bedroom, sometimes the table, and I tend to graze in the kitchen while feeding everyone else! Go figure…

    And bread making! It can be done on a simple dinner table or a regular counter, but it isn’t as much fun. I like kneading by hand, but a lot of the time the bread maker is just so much easier that I let it do the kneading… I’m happier with a loaf of fresh home made kneaded in the machine than eating store bread and wishing I had time to make a real hand kneaded loaf… The machine is a nice device to have (though I like to bake in a separate pan…)

    Finally, a comment on ‘poverty’: You only have it if you feel like you have it. I’ve known people with a million dollar home who felt poor. Up to their eyeballs in debt, afraid of losing one of their two jobs, desperate to make credit card payments. And I’ve known people with nothing who felt rich. When you live within your means you are always rich. My wife and I were quite rich living in a 540 sq. ft. mobile home as newlyweds. I have deep and fond memories of chicken stew / soup made from leftovers and hand made breads because buying a loaf was out of reach. As a kid we were ‘dirt poor’ but I didn’t know it because we were too busy enjoying life. We ate from a large garden and loved every bite. Was it ‘poverty’ to be eating fresh garden food and feeling wonderfully tired at the end of the day? I don’t think so. Was it poverty to eat chuck pot roast on Sunday? It is one of my fondest memories. Cheapest cut of meat you could get, braised into magic tenderness by my Mother, served with simple vegetables and broth over home made bread. Poverty? Heck no! Poverty is eating prepackaged meals with white foam bread while fighting over the credit card bills and who gets to take the BMW with no family time! Find a place that feeds your soul and no amount of money matters…

    It’s not about the stuff, the size of the home, or who impresses whom: It’s about being with someone you love, sharing the process of life, and making joyful memories from nothing… stone soup for the soul… (though a chuck roast braised in a pot with potatoes, carrots, celery, the occasional turnip, salt pepper, maybe a bay leaf and whatever is in season doesn’t hurt! 😉

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