Archive for August 2016

The dog days are over, the dog days are done, do you hear the horses, because here they come   Leave a comment

I never really understood the term “dog days of summer” until I moved to North Carolina. Maybe it’s because I grew up with air conditioning. But there’s something in the air. If you step outside for just a moment, it saps all the energy out of you. You could spend all day in the air conditioning and be energetic and excited, and then you step outside for a moment and you just. You want to lie down in the shade and not do anything.

According to WUNC, the “dog” part of “dog days” literally refers to the Sirius star that’s at its peak this time of year. But I guess it also refers to dog tired. You know, when dogs just up and quit on you from too much walking.

On a historical note, the South has always been noted for its slower lifestyle. Abigail Adams, visiting Mount Vernon in in 1790s, noted how still everything was. Not in a tranquil way, either, like how Southern literature likes to portray it. Just…very few people, and all the people didn’t seem to do much, even the slaves, who were very unhappy but also very tired. Bad attitudes everywhere. It was the Dog Days in Alexandria. That was in Northern Virginia. The farther South you go, the worse it gets. I read an article that blamed the whole thing on yellow fever, but really, you just cannot escape the lethargy of this sun.

I knew I would be out and about today so I dressed to combat the heat. I wore a short dress, capri-length leggings, and canvas slip-on shoes. My plan was to stop by school, buy my books and visit my classrooms, then go shopping for home decor stuff. I would surely have time to visit two lighting stores and then some furniture stores, I thought to myself.

Wake Tech is 30 minutes from the townhouse, and 40 minutes from our future house. Fortunately I set my schedule so that school would be the only thing on the agenda during those days, but still. I hadn’t planned on spending 30 minutes driving through rural back roads to get to school. I was actually pretty nervous driving through those roads. What sort of community college was out in the middle of nowhere?

Wake Tech’s main campus is in a pretty rural area, at the very southern tip of Raleigh and pretty close to Holly Springs. It was really only 10 or 15 minutes or so from civilization. I guess I’m just used to urban campuses, where land is a premium so they charge you for everything.

Everything. When I walked into the student center, I realized I had to register my car, so I had to step back out into the heat and walk for two minutes back to my car to get my registration, then another two minutes through the heat to get back into the student center. Then I stood in line, wiping all the sweat off my face, then handed over my form, driver’s license, and registration in order to get a parking pass and a student ID. I had my debit card ready to cover costs. I had no idea how much parking was, but whatever, I had to park on campus so whatever it took I would pay it. At NoVa, it had been anywhere from $70 to $90 per semester for a parking pass. At GMU, I had paid $250 three times a year to park my car on campus (since I took summer classes).

She had me sit down and smile at the camera for my ID. Then she handed me a parking sticker and told me my ID would be ready in about a minute. I didn’t have to pay a cent for parking or for the card.

Downstairs, I spoke with the woman at the help desk while I examined a campus map. I mentioned my surprise at not having to pay a parking fee.

“Oh yeah,” said the woman at the desk. “I remember having to pay $6 to park at NC State. I was a visitor! I had to pay $6! Like, no thank you, I’m not going there.”


I walked back and forth several times between the Student Center and the bookstore. They were right next to each other. On a cold day it might have felt like nothing. But the heat was a tangible thing, like your parents making you put on a sweater when you weren’t cold. The sun was blinding. I spent $150 on textbooks. I could have spent $87 just to rent the things, but I had a bad experience renting textbooks so I’d rather buy them outright.

I sat in my car. I wanted to sit and play on my phone but I had places I wanted to be and it was 2:30, where had the time gone? I wanted to breathe. But I have a bad habit of sitting on my phone in the car for like an hour and I needed to get going and break that habit. So I drove across campus to the parking lot, and then picked up my rolling backpack and walked around the building, trying to find my classroom.

I hadn’t realized it was three separate buildings. I hauled my backpack upstairs and walked in circles, but the only room with the right number was an office, not a classroom. So I walked across the bridge to the next building. That classroom was a storage closet. So I hauled my rolling backpack downstairs, walked down the path back to the parking lot, and over to the third building.

Air conditioning greeted me like a long-lost friend. I could feel how stinky I had become just being outside for 15 minutes. And my classroom was right there. Right in front. So now I knew. I knew where to park and how to get to my classroom, and I wouldn’t have to do this on Thursday when there were a ton of equally confused people wandering around these campuses, taking up stairwells, looking for their classrooms.

I walked my rolling backpack over to my car, on the other end of the parking lot. The sun beat down from the sky and the lot beat the heat back up from the ground. No amount of sweating could fix this. I wanted to lay down and nap. It took all my energy to get my rolling suitcase into the car. I sat down in the driver’s seat and felt like I was about to jump into a swimming pool.

But I turned the car on, turned the AC on, and drove to the first lighting shop. Well, first I stopped and ate lunch at Bojangles. Another southern thing: fried chicken and biscuits.

It was a place James had recommended. I walked in and saw a whole bunch of chandeliers everywhere. Just everywhere. Not gonna lie: it was a cool aesthetic? If I ever get the chance to just design a small space really quirkily I’m going to cover the ceiling of the main entertaining space with ceiling lights.

But I didn’t see any ceiling fans.

The woman in the shop greeted me and asked me if I was looking for anything in particular. “Do you sell ceiling fans?”

She walked me to the back. They keep them behind a curtain, I guess to designate a “fan space” from a “chandelier space”. She pointed out a few of her favorites. I told her that I wanted something with up-lighting. No, they didn’t have that display any more. But she got me a few catalogues and stapled her card to the front and told me to call her when I had decided what I wanted.



I remembered there was another lighting shop in the area, so I drove there. Turns out I had mis-remembered: it was a home decor shop. Most of the showroom was for flooring and the like. They had lighting options, but I guess it was more part of the whole renovation package. The woman working the front counter asked me what I was looking for. Ceiling fans with uplights.

She took out a catalogue — the same catalogue from up the street — and went through a few options for me. This one was nice and simple. This one was just the up-light. This one had a light on both the top and bottom. This one had three lights on the bottom, which was kind of weird, but was that something I was interested in?

“So I hate the light flickering on the ceiling,” I said. “My realtor said that up-lighting was the best way to combat that.”

“The problem with that is, you’re not going to lose the flickering,” she said. “All you’re going to do is transfer it down instead of up.”

“What if I had a light on both the top and the bottom?”

“You’re still blocking the light box. You’re still going to have flickering.”

I thanked her and left. I have a lot to think about, I explained.

After all, if I’m going to have light flickering either way, then what was the point of an uplight at all? Just mood lighting? Showing off the crazy pattern on your ceiling? What? So what do I do? Install recessed lighting and just put a fan, no light, in the center of the room? (there’s just a boob light there right now) Do I just accept the flickering? Do I not put a fan in and just put in, like, a cool chandelier? Keep the boob light? Maybe if I put in enough other lighting, the shadows won’t be so noticeable?

I just turned on my ceiling light and then all the other lights in the room. Indeed, the flickering is still there, but it’s not, like, bad. When it’s the only light in the room, though, it’s bad. Maybe I care too much.

I was ponderous and tired. So instead of looking for furniture stores, I drove home.

I wish I could say that I learned something today, besides the true meaning of the dog days of summer, and besides the fact that uplit ceiling fans don’t prevent blinking. Maybe I could say that I learned something about myself, or some grand life lesson. But no. I went home and read over the results of the home inspection while Cornelius napped on the other side of the bed. The roof flashing needs to be fixed, and some HVAC insulation needs to be replaced.

Maybe I’ll nap.

Posted August 16, 2016 by agentksilver in interior design, Personal

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Passive-aggressive paint   Leave a comment

So we have a date of inspection set up, and we’ve successfully applied for a mortgage, so now it’s time to do the most important part — picking the paint colors.

Our real estate agent gave us a crash course in judging houses hardcore, so we were actually kind of worried that she wouldn’t like the house we picked out (we looked at the house and put in an offer the week she was on vacation). She did like the house though. We walked all throughout the house and she commented on things we’ll have to ask the sellers about — the sealing on two of the windows, the home security system, the pesticide systems, the HVAC hook-ups.

We stood and looked down the stairs, catching our breath from being in the hot, dusty attic. I commented that part of the reason I liked this house was the foyer. You could see so many different angles just by walking in the door. I was hoping to paint the walls in a way to emphasize this.

“So there’s the character you were looking for,” said our agent, smiling.

The grown-up things I did today was actually talking to contractors to find someone to refinish our hardwood floors and paint the walls. There’s nothing wrong with the floors, they look pretty new actually. But they’re reddish, and glossy, and I want my hardwoods to be brown and matte. But I also signed up to have some house painters call. I set up times to get estimates from two separate contractors. One of them, Express Yourself Painting, took time to talk with me about our project, while the other, All-Pro Painters, just put us on their calendar. So right now I’m more inclined to Express Yourself Painting.

James and I have been talking about what, exactly, we want done before we have Thanksgiving visitors. I’ve been thinking so much about painting the foyer that I hadn’t even noticed what James cared the most about, aesthetically: the half-bath. Apparently it has an oval mirror, and James hates oval mirrors. Plus, it’s just a pedestal sink and a toilet. No storage at all. So I sat with James for a while last night and showed him different ideas. He didn’t seem inclined towards any of them, but I’m thinking: new mirror, a small shelf that runs on all (some?) walls, and two-toned walls.

I’ve tried explaining, in words, what I want for the foyer, but James didn’t seem to understand. He thought I was having difficulty deciding what I wanted. So he said, “You know, for our house in New Jersey,” the house he lived in as a teenager basically, so his dream home, “Mom and Dad just picked out two colors — red and blue — and a lighter and a darker version of both, and they painted the whole house those colors.”

Setting aside that that is a very 90s way of painting walls, he may have his father’s chin and I may have my mother’s eyes but we are not our parents. We have our own style. This is our house. Not Steve and Deb’s. Not Hank and Katt’s. It’s James and Kelsey’s. We have a chance to put our own stamp on a house. Not just fill it with our furniture, but to make the house really ours. I can understand that this is difficult for James to get around, as he packs up his mother’s house for selling. And maybe that opportunity is less exciting for him, since he lived in his own apartment by himself for six years. But this is very important to me. I’m not going to design the house to look like his parent’s house.

I spent all day working on getting my idea for the foyer into pictures, rather than words.


Not these colors, not exactly, but this idea — green, red, and blue, and then otherwise having the same khaki-beige-tan-neutral color all throughout the rest of the downstairs and even into the upstairs. It’s a two-story foyer, so like, we need someone else painting that.

I showed it to James and he didn’t have a strong reaction. He didn’t hate it, but he didn’t like it, either. I even tried to explain why I wanted the colors laid out like this, but his reaction didn’t change. I picked these colors as a compromise between our styles — if it were up to me, everything would be in bright colors, but we’re getting earthy tones for James’ style.


What if I got rid of the green — one of my favorite colors, but James doesn’t like green walls — but still no strong reaction from James.

So. Whatever. If James didn’t care then I can do whatever I want with these walls, right?






He can’t stop me.

Posted August 5, 2016 by agentksilver in interior design

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House Hunters Season Three: Wrap-up   Leave a comment

So to answer the question, yes, we got the house. We put in an offer; they counter-offered; we accepted the offer and signed the paperwork. The house is now Under Contract. In six or seven weeks (mid-September basically), it’s ours. Now I’m stepping forward and arranging for all the post-choice stuff: the inspections, the new floors, new fridge, painting the walls, adding more trees(?), all the stuff that I didn’t want James to arrange because he has enough on his plate.

James rattled off all the potential bedding space we’re going to have, and realized that we will easily fit nine extra people plus us in the house. So we’re thinking about inviting all the family members for Thanksgiving, because we want to host Thanksgiving.

-My parents
-My sisters and Keith
-Steve and Cindy
-Eric and Deanna and Erika

That was my original plan. I mentioned it once to Mom and she thought it would be a great idea. Well, I mentioned it to her once with the idea of having Thanksgiving at Deb’s house. Then Deb got worse. So. But the idea stuck with me anyway. But now it would be at our house!

James started rattling off all the other people we could invite, from his side of the family.

-Lynette and her family
-Diane and her family
-Randall and Yasuyo
-Ryan and Lindy

So that would be…that would be 24 people in the house. I would suggest that James is insane, but this is how I met James’ family, way back in Thanksgiving 2010.

Those people are all first cousins. That’s not even the whole family. That was just the immediate descendents of that woman’s children (and their SOs). There were more than 40 people altogether. 24 is small for James.

“How is this Thanksgiving?” asked James the year before.

Besides, James is a natural-born host. He would be in his element hosting Thanksgiving.

Okay I did not plan on talking about Thanksgiving this much. I wanted to talk about my plans for my study.

my study

I’ve revised my plan a bit. After considering what sort of furniture touches I want to put into the room, I’ve settled on the room being gray and gold. And I’ve been gathering lists of elephant accents to put into the room. And by that I mean throw pillows and lamp bases.

I have noticed that, in my various list-makings, I tend to prefer more of the sketch-looking pictures than the cartoony pictures of elephants.

More this

Less this

After researching my original idea of a small sectional, I have ruled against it because oh my gosh did you know that furniture is really expensive? I’m used to buying bookshelves which are practically a dime a dozen compared to couches and sofas. I’m now thinking…chaise lounge and a cool bench. And the bookshelf and work table. I still need to figure out how to close the light off from the rest of the room, so I can work into the night while James goes to sleep early.

James was confused as to why I didn’t really want a computer desk. I had to explain that my tailbone still hasn’t recovered from the blow on our honeymoon, and so I don’t want to have a piece of furniture designed for me to sit on my tailbone in front of all the time.

Moments before The Incident

And so I want a chaise lounge and a lap desk instead.