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April 2018 Archives


April has been called the Cruellest Month, but April 2018 hasn't been cruel so much as it's been frantic. I've certainly had months where I've been traveling more (see: March 2015) or months where I've had huge tasks to accomplish (see: June 2015, moving), but this month I've found my brain in a state of more-or-less constant whirl. That whirl has involved some very pleasant stuff, some less pleasant stuff, and the inevitable anxiety about stuff that hasn't happened yet. Shall we pick that apart?

I started the month with a interesting musical experience courtesy of the folks at Orbital Music Park, who organize occasional match-ups between musicians. I signed up for such a match-up, and on April 1st I hauled a couple of guitars down to to meet a few of the local folks. Alas, a couple of our assigned participants had to bail out, so it ended up being just me, one of the organizers sitting in on bass, and a drummer. I found myself cast in the somewhat unfamiliar role of bandleader, as the organizer didn't want to run things for us, so I had to suggest covers (Warren Zevon, XTC, Soundgarden), work on a little jam, and offer a few originals for the guys to play along with. I went with an old Terminal Mouse standby, "Camouflage," as well as one of the tunes I cowrote with Mimi Herman, "Something New to You," and "Clean Enough to Eat Off," which is probably the easiest song in my repertoire. I wish I'd had the chance to meet more folks, but I enjoyed myself enough to imagine I'll do another OMP session someday.

Dixon was back in town for a few weeks. He arrived on the 13th and moved back into our apartment so that he could begin rehearsals for ONE IN FOUR at the Firehouse Theatre. The show, which premiered last summer at the DC Fringe Festival, made its Richmond debut on the night of the 20th and ran over two weekends, providing delight, novelty, and occasional amazement to enthusiastic audiences, including us, family members, the cast's VCU-based social circles, Richmond theater connoisseurs, fans of avant-garde sci-fi comedy, and wandering members of the general public. Both Kelly's mom and my parents made it up to see the show (on the opening and closing weekends, respectively), and Ian and Adriana managed to rearrange their schedules in order to see the show and gather for grandparent visits, even as they were looking for a new apartment.

Birding has been good, with a variety of FOY species hitting the area in migration. I took my first bird walk with the Richmond Audubuon Society, getting looks at a family of nesting Great Horned Owls and several warbler species. A few weeks later I spotted several male Prothonotary Warblers (always a gorgeous bird to spot) and a female Hooded Warbler (my first) on a River Day at Pony Pasture.

In the midst of all our other theatrical involvement, Kelly and I got to see our bonus daughter Anna Grey Hogan in what will probably be her final performance at VCU, Into the Woods. This was our first experience with the show, so we went in with no expectations other than "Sondheim" and "fairy tales," and we were quite delighted. The set was absolutely astonishing--the finest I've seen at VCU with no real competition--and the performances most impressive. 

We started the month with our dishwasher and dispose-all still out of commission, thanks to the landlords' electrician-based fiasco in early March. That got fixed sometime around the middle of the month--they didn't call to tell us they'd done it, mind you--but the dishwasher is no longer working properly. Doubtless sitting idle and full of sink overflow had something to do with its breakdown, but our landlords have already proven themselves too incompetent and/or malevolent to handle repairs, so we're not optimistic about having it in good working order before we leave.

But we ARE leaving. We have served notice that we're not renewing our lease--and have gotten the office to sign a document to the effect that we have served that notice, because our landlords have already proven themselves etc. etc. That of course means we have to start packing, which hasn't been that easy while playing host to family members, seeing lots of shows, and dealing with various other concerns (like washing a lot more dishes than usual). It's also meant negotiating with moving companies, confirming details with our new landlady, and trying to help Dixon take as much stuff back to Carrboro as possible so that we don't have to pack it up.

Oh yeah. Taxes. Those happened, too. Guess what happens when you and your wife no longer have kids living at home and suddenly you're both working full-time.

Finally, I've spent the last month alternately energized and anxious about this Thursday, when Anna Grey and a number of other local actors are gathering at the Firehouse to do a reading of my own play, The Kindest Cut. I have no idea what the reading will lead to, but the chance to hear people reading my words and inhabiting my characters is one I've looked forward to for a while now, and I'm already in full Party Host Mode, which Kelly defines as simultaneously thinking "No one will come!" and "There won't be enough food!" More on this later.

5:39 AM

House and Home

It's spring break, and for the first time in a while, I'm not traveling. Instead, Kelly and I have taken the last week as an opportunity to rest, think, and deal with some of the things we haven't quite had a chance to deal with since we came to Richmond back in 2015.

We are not using the term "staycation," for the record.

For one thing, we're not entirely on vacation; we're taking care of a variety of tasks, not all of which are all that exciting. Getting the Forester's registration renewed, for example, was a necessary task, but not a lot of fun. There's also been the seemingly endless saga of our broken dishwasher and dispose-all, a tale for another time, but a tale that is, I assure you, even more exasperating than you're thinking. And, not unrelated to that tale, there's the fact that Kelly and I have been diligently house-hunting, trying to find a place to move this summer. At one point we were thinking about buying, but the volatility of the housing market in Richmond right now is almost terrifying. Houses go on the market on Thursday and are under contract before the open house is held on Sunday. It's nuts.

Thus, we spent much of the weekend visiting possible rental houses, found a couple that we liked, put in an application for one, and are (knock wood) going to be taking it over in a couple of months. It feels very, very good to have the search over so far in advance, particularly in comparison to our last search for living space. In 2015, when we were leaving Woodberry after 20 years, we were searching for a place to live from 75 miles away, and at the time I still didn't have a job, so we were scrambling to find something cheap and find it fast. Now that we're a little more stable in the financial sense, and a lot closer in the physical sense, the search was considerably less draining. Better still, the new place gives us some significant upgrades to our modern lifestyle:

*It's a free-standing house, so I can indulge my music-making hobbies at a reasonable volume without fear of disturbing the neighbors. Also, if we microwave fish, we're the only ones who'll know.

*There is a front yard and a back yard, and the back yard is fenced in. That gives Ripley both someplace to play and someplace to pee when we don't have time to give her a walk. It also provides me with the chance to put my bird feeders up again. Not being able to bring birds into view has been a decided drag on my sunny disposition over the last few years, so this will be a nice boost. Out back there are a few other features, including a low deck, a small patio, and a firepit, at least two of which I think we can use with ease.

*The house is a split-level, which offers us more square footage, a laundry room, a third bedroom, and (TA-DAAA!) a SECOND BATHROOM. After years of multi-toilet living, I can't express how happy I am to see the end of my one-bowl days approaching.

*We're not changing neighborhoods! Though we're about a mile away from our current digs, we're still close to most of the things we love on the South Side: Forest Hill Park, Crossroads Coffee, the WPA Bakery, and the mighty mechanics of Floyd's Auto. But we'll be even closer to some of the other things we love: Zata Coffee, Maldini's Italian Restaurant, Outpost (the local hipster grocery), Kitchenette (RVA's best spot for takeout catering), O'Toole's Irish Pub (for beer and sports viewing), and the newly-opened storefront of Happy Empanada. There are two drug stores, two gas stations, and a branch of the Richmond Public Library within easy walking distance, not to mention a fenced dog park.

*Kelly's commute will be fractionally shorter--maybe by as much as five minutes--while mine will be unchanged (if I use the toll bridge) or about two minutes longer if I use the free bridge.

All in all, I think it's going to be a good move for us, even if the rent will be higher than our current digs. In this instance, I suspect we'll get what we pay for. And I for one am ready to pay.

4:10 PM


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