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Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Today marks eleven months since our move from Colorado to Washington, DC. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year.  Eleven months gets overshadowed by the impending one-year mark, but there’s still a lot to commemorate. Our biggest achievement has, by far, been buying (or almost buying, as we haven’t closed yet) a house. However, we’ve still accomplished many things, fun or otherwise, while here.

So far in 11 months I/we have:

  • Had dinner with actual friends from church.
  • Played a violin special during the offertory last Sunday.
  • Gone to an event for a local charity.
  • Weathered both furloughs and a government shutdown.
  • Listed two items for sale on Craigslist.

We have not:

  • Officially closed on the house.
  • Sold anything on Craigslist.
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As a federal employee, the last eight days have been interesting, to say the least. I was actually recalled to work, as my position falls under a new bill that provides services for the Armed Forces during this time. While I’m certainly thankful to not be spinning my wheels, it’s still frustrating to see so many others doing so. While I certainly have my thoughts about the matter, expounding on my views of the situation is beyond the scope of this blog post, but as a person with a sensitive spirit and a desire for peace and not conflict, I can generally say of the situation that my hope is for a swift resolution for the common good.

While all this uncertainty persists inside the Beltway, the contract on our house just a few miles away is quickly drawing to its conclusion. In a mere eight days, we are set to close. It has been interesting to reflect on this transaction, especially compared to the purchase of our first home. I remember feeling excitement and anticipation during the whole contract period with the first house. This time, there was a flurry of paperwork for about two weeks at the very beginning, but after that, except for packing, I feel like I almost forgot we were buying a house. Just in the last three days, however, it began to shift back to oh-yes-it’s-happening mode. It’s finally close enough that we can now book our moving truck, set up new utilities, pack most of our stuff, and attend to the final paperwork.

Naturally, with one’s first house, there is all kinds of naive excitement about how to design and decorate your new place to make it your own home. Amidst all the paperwork and checklists, we eagerly picked out paint colors and made lists of things we wanted to do to the house. While I’m technically doing all these same things now, it is with a much more subdued, mature, and thoughtful demeanor (does that mean I’m getting old? Wait, don’t answer that). We won’t be rushing into the house with paintbrush and screwdriver in hand like we did last time; instead, we plan to move in and get settled before making too many changes. The house itself is different in many ways from our first one, and I believe it requires more thoughtfulness and foresight to decide where we want to go with it. Since it doesn’t need major renovations, we don’t have much to immediately tend to and have the luxury of focusing on the overall feel of the place, turning it into our own home.

One thing that didn’t exist when we bought our first home was Pinterest. Ah, Pinterest, how I have conflicting feelings about thee. While it’s inspiring and addictive to see pictures of high-end decor, there comes a point in ever Pinner’s life when she realizes that her home is never going to be like the great designer showcases featured everywhere she clicks. Even Bart, who isn’t on Pinterest all that often, commented yesterday while perusing decor ideas with me, “nobody’s house actually looks like this.” My paradigm also shifted after finally being under contract on a house and mentally trying to apply Pinterest ideas to that specific space. While I might love photos of a modern, industrial style, my 1960’s ranch is never going to be a soaring loft in an old warehouse.

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My recently remodeled, traditional galley kitchen is never going to be a giant farmhouse kitchen with a pantry and expansive center island. So, while Pinterest can indeed provide inspiration, one has to be careful to set her expectations appropriately. (For what it’s worth, you can probably say the same thing about every area of Pinterest; cooking, fashion, parenting, weddings, fitness, etc.)

Another source of inspiration for me, be it good or bad, has been DIY blogs. While researching questions about updating older homes, I stumbled upon this vast sub-genre of web information. We are DIY addicts, and we did a large number of projects in our previous home. It’s been a year since we moved, and reading these blogs has me itching to get our hammers and paintbrushes back out. Again, what one person does with his home isn’t exactly what needs to happen in mine, but generally the information and can-do spirit is very inspiring for our new blank canvas.

So, instead of letting the internet bum me out about the things I can’t change about the house, I’ve decided to let it inspire and motivate me instead. I look forward to embracing the truly unique features of this house and boldly accepting the challenges of fitting a modern lifestyle into a home that was built before flat-screen TVs and personal computers.

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It’s hard not to blog about the 1000 lb gorilla in the room, so here goes: as of today the government is shut down, and I’m furloughed yet again. However, this time I don’t know how long it will last. It could be just a day or two (most likely), but it could drag on for weeks like it did the last time in the 90’s. In the meantime, I’ll just be chilling at home, taking one day at a time, sleeping in and packing and cooking and crocheting and hanging out with my awesome husband and a cuddly dog. So, that’s that. All the righteous indignation I might be able to dredge up would be pretty useless, so I’m channeling my energy elsewhere.

However you slice it, it’s still October, and that means it’s now my most favorite month of the entire year. It seems that I’ve been doomed to have it overshadowed by packing and moving for two years running, and we’re throwing in a government shutdown this year; however, I won’t let that stop me from enjoying it. In between the cardboard boxes and paperwork, I plan on making yummy fall food, eating too many candy pumpkins, taking pictures of changing leaves, and blowing out my birthday candles at the end of the month. Who knows? We might even host our first visitors to our new home before the month is out. Whatever this October brings, I’m thankful that I’m alive and able to enjoy it.

Psalm 2

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I’ve had a really hard time coming up with the right word to describe today. Awful, sad, frustrating, and overwhelming are just a few that have come to mind. I don’t work at the Navy Yard, but I work a few miles from it, and there is solidarity in sharing the sorrow of your fellow Navy folk, and we did experience some fallout from it. How do I feel? Maybe angry, but less angry at the perpetrator and mostly angry that our world is such that these sorts of things happen. I’m actually sad that this person ended up in a state where he felt like this was something he needed or wanted to do. And I’m sorrowful for the families of those who will never come home from work.

Needless to say, with that distraction in our group, our heart wasn’t exactly in our work today. On top of that, Bart and I are embroiled in jumping through all the necessary hoops required for home buying. It’s been enough years since we bought our first one that I’ve forgotten all the oh-so-joyous splendors of titling, mortgages, inspections, and insurance.

While it certainly wasn’t a great day, I wouldn’t say it was a bad day. I think “overwhelming” is the kindest way to describe it.  I’ve had the opportunity to unwind a bit this evening, but I’m definitely ready to try again tomorrow. Thankfully, God’s mercies are new every morning. The prophet Jeremiah faced even worse days than the one today; heck, he even wrote a whole book named “Lamentations.” But he still has this to say in Chapter 3:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.

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Well, we’ve only lived in Montgomery County, Maryland, for nine months, but they have already called upon both of the Taylors to report for jury duty.

They got to Bart first a few months ago, but never fear: I was to get my turn not long after. I received my summons a few weeks ago and had to report last Thursday.

Though they claim jury duty is randomly assigned, it feels like Bart and I have a “pick me” sign on our backs, as we’ve both been called here and back in Colorado. In fact, we both got called on the same day in Boulder…and it just happened to be the week before we were headed to Hawaii. Fortunately, we weren’t called on for the jury and made it on our trip just fine.

MoCo has a one day/one trial policy–if you get called on, you only have to go one day; if you are selected for a jury, you only serve for that one trial. After that, you are guaranteed not to be put into the pool again for something like five years. At least it’s minimally invasive, even if it is an inconvenience in the first place. And it’s great to know we’re both off the hook for a while as far as our civic duty is concerned…except that we may be buying a house in another county and therefore immediately eligible again. Huzzah.

Neither Bart nor I ultimately served on a jury this time. We both waited but were dismissed when no jury trials came up that day. I didn’t even have to report until 1:00 pm, so I really only waited in the room about 3 hours until I was free to go. While it would be kind of inconvenient to be on a jury, it might be kind of interesting, as long as it wasn’t some horrible murder trial. I’m still glad we haven’t had to do it so far.

Whenever I think of jury duty, I think of the OC Supertones. A little ska, ska, ska helps put things into perspective…at least my day wasn’t as bad as his. 😉

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In a surprising show of reason, the DoD decided this week to cut our furlough days from 11 to 6. That means next week will be my last Furlough Friday! I have a special day tentatively planned which I look forward to sharing with you.

Today’s FF was all about Jennifer on the rebound. I spent some time scoping out some other houses online, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about the one that got away. So I did what any girl with a broken heart does–I went shopping. Nothing super exciting, though; I just got groceries and picked up toothbrushes at Target. Winning. I also cuddled with Murphy on the couch and played some Candy Crush.

I was finally feeling better by the time Bart got off work. To celebrate moving on with the house hunt, we decided to have dinner at Cheesecake Factory. Nothing drowns your sorrows or celebrates moving on like Oreo cheesecake.

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And nothing says “I don’t need you anymore” like scheduling showings of two more houses this weekend. That’s right–look out DC housing market; the Taylors are back in the game.

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We interrupt your regularly scheduled furlough pattern for a spontaneous Furlough Monday.

Yep, I took Friday and the following Monday as furlough days, resulting in a four day weekend. Since my brother and his family were coming through town on a vacation, I decided I’d leverage my day off to the beginning of the week so I could hang out with them.

Hosting my brother, sister in law, and their three teen/tween kids was the largest group we’ve ever had stay with us before. Thankfully, our rental home is quite spacious, so with our two spare rooms upstairs and a cot plus air mattress in the basement, everyone had their own bed and plenty of space. Laura, my SIL, says I missed my calling as an owner of a bed and breakfast. Maybe she’s got a real idea there…renting rooms to tourists might be a way we could help subsidize a mortgage out here. 😉

They arrived Sunday evening and had dinner with us. We grilled chicken on the Egg, and I also made some chocolate oatmeal cookies, the final recipe from Pat’s cookbook that I’ll be sharing with you…watch for that soon!

Monday morning after rush hour we headed into town with my brother driving and me navigating. I’ve got the drive to the observatory down pat, but the last couple of miles to the national mall aren’t so familiar to me. But we made it and found a parking spot in a garage on 15th Street near the national aquarium and the White House.

Our first stop was the archives, where we waited in line a little while to see the founding documents, but it wasn’t too bad. Then we meandered toward the Capitol, grabbing some lunch along the way. This was the closest I’ve been to the Capitol since I moved; I still haven’t been in yet, but I’d love to take a tour one day.

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We started back down the mall and spent a little while at the Air and Space Museum. Then we took in the sights of the national mall as we strolled toward the White House. We got a view of the front amongst a throng of other tourists. I think you can get a slightly closer view if you go around to the back, but we didn’t have the time.

We opted to not continue walking down the other half of the mall to the Lincoln memorial, as we’d have to walk all the way back to the car afterward, and it’s really quite a hike, especially if you’ve already walked the first half. We opted to head a block back to the car and drive over there. Parking was a little scarce, but my brother found a spot a ways down the street. I volunteered to sit with the van while they went to the Lincoln memorial; that way I could save them the hike back when they were finished, and we cut some time off our exit (very important, as we were approaching the beginning of the evening rush hour). That worked out just right, and we made it home from downtown in practically record time.

Evidently, some loser chose yesterday to vandalize the Lincoln memorial, the National Cathedral, and a statue outside the Smithsonian Castle with green paint. It was evident on Lincoln, though we didn’t see the other two. She was eventually apprehended yesterday, but not before defacing those objects. Not super cool on her part.

So, I enjoyed spending my furlough day with family. It seemed like the perfect way to spend forced time off. I should be back on schedule next Friday, but it’ll be hard to top that!

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