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Words/phrases you'd like to see banned from TV

As I sit here, exiled in the torn apart office because of a plethora of paint upon my person, waiting for the first coat of red (yes red) paint in the converted now-open closet to dry, I thought I’d take a moment to engage the minimal computer setup for something other than GW2. So…OMG! A blog post!

Opening caveat…I’m introducing this topic not just to air my pet peeves or to point fingers at anyone, but because I’m curious how TV and common usage has…cheapened other phrases, phrases I might not know about. This is actually a need-to-know/understand for a writer because making characters “feel” right often depends on correct word choice. The people who use these phrases on these shows use them in all innocence. They’re phrases TV has made popular without really ever explaining them. Having said that…

OK…I admit, we’ve become a bit addicted to all the house “fixer-upper” shows. Not too surprising, considering the constant changes we’re making to our own domicile to make it our own. However, if I hear the words “wow factor” or “make it pop” or “open concept” or “must have” one more time out of these first time buyers with WAY too much money…

“Must have” is, IMO, the epitome of me-generation spoiled brat-isms. Any cook who actually believes they NEED a kitchen the size of most apartments needs to spend a summer cooking on a campfire. With one pot. Any twenty-something who actually believes they NEED a spa attached to the bedroom needs to spend that same summer with nothing but a pan of water from a questionable pond heated over the same campfire to kill the bugs. These people willing to spend $100,000 or more for those luxuries when the house they’re buying already has a perfectly nice kitchen and master bath should maybe think about putting that money into their future kids’ (which they’re all talking about having, hence the ten bedrooms and open concept they need…one for each kid and a separate office for each spousal unit and the open concept so they can watch every breath a kid takes) college funds. If they have that already taken care of…how about a scholarship for a kid whose parents don’t have that kind of throwaway cash?

I grew up in a middle class family. We had what I figured was a pretty good life. When I was in the fourth grade, we moved out of town to a 3.5 acre “ranch” where we could have horses. My folks designed and my contractor uncle helped us build the ranchstyle house that I still think of as “home” and the essence of luxury for a cozy family. Three bedrooms…a master with a half-bath and small walkthrough closet, with an attached semi-room with a closet that housed my then young brother. Sis and I shared a 10×10 room with a closet and a killer view of the Cascades through one window and Mt Rainier out the other. My two older bros who were still at home shared another 10×10 with a single closet. All of us kids shared a bathroom with a tub/shower and one sink. The living room/dining room/kitchen/family room comprised the other end of the house. The living room had a beautiful picture window that looked out across the pasture to the distant Cascade Mountain range. It was separated from the dining room by the nice fireplace. The dining room had a smaller picture window with a raised flowerbed outside with a similar view. Right angle from dining room was the kitchen, a lovely thing with room for several to work. The kitchen was separated from the family room (where the TV and “family dining table” lived)  by a convenient sitting bar with storage above and below. From the kitchen you went past the laundry area with a small mudroom (potty and sink so work-mud didn’t come inside) on the left. Two doors, one to the outside walkway that led to my grandmother’s lovely trailer parked on the other side of the back lawn, the other to the garage. Total square footage? I’d be surprised if it exceeded 1500, but it handled six people very handily. I did my homework in the family room, I curled up on the couch in the living room to read. I shared late night secrets with my sister, fought for my half of the bed, closet and chest of drawers, and came out able to have a good fight with her and come out smiling and loving on the other end.

Replace those “views” with a well-designed backyard…maybe a pond and water feature?…and the same idylic home could be brought into the necessary area for “good school district and easy access to shopping” two more “necessities” for these 21st C home-owners.

I have developed, after too many viewings of these shows, a few opinions regarding most of these “must haves.”

A) if you have to watch kids every moment of the day, you aren’t raising them to be independent. You’re micromanaging.

B) if any kid needs their own bedroom, they’ve got too much STUFF. They’ll accumulate plenty later in life. Save money. Make them do laundry rather than wear a new set of duds each day. I mean…sheesh…books these days only require a tablet of some kind for an entire library! We had to stash books and comics under the bed. 😀

C) if you need your bedroom as an oasis from the kids you’re micromanaging or the job you hate, see A and do something about the job situation, because the answer doesn’t lie in a million dollar tub.

I will admit that with computers, a designated office is increasingly useful, but not a necessity, especially if you’re getting every family member a laptop, smart phone and ipad. I mean…sheesh.

I will admit that having a good flow for people who like to entertain is a Good Thing. Having a kitchen that can handle several cooks at once is also good. Having a kitchen where the cook can actually be a part of the party rather than a slave is an excellent notion, but too often, the “must have” is taking a kitchen with all these attributes and making it bigger and spashier. Oh…and the guys who “must have” a mancave. Not as common as the “must have” kitchen, but still all too common. As I say…”me generation” thinking.

OK…having, er, dissed the me generation of home owner mentality…let’s move on to the terms once reserved for artists and architects that have been coopted by these shows and brought into general use in the populace without a clue as to what they really mean.

“Open-concept.” I mean…sheesh. Before these shows, did anyone really know that architectural term? Now…everyone they bring on MUST have it. No wonder the kids need their own bedrooms. Where else can they get away from Mom or Dad’s TV/music and other activities? More to the point, these’ “must havers” can’t seem to get it through their heads that tearing out walls is going to be EXPENSIVE. Rewiring, replumbing, working around load-bearing wall issues…that’s expensive. (Do they even watch these shows before they agree to be on them?)

If they want to tear out those walls and are truly on a limited budget…maybe they should opt for the furniture they already have rather than letting these TV people choose brand new (very expensive) furniture just to be sure it looks uber-upscale for the “reveal.” Or maybe…scary concept…just opt for a simple showhead rather than $2000 worth of jets in a flipping shower. (That’s another thing I really find difficult to understand. Who in their right mind accepts a home someone else has chosen the STUFF for? These homeowners often seem surprised at these fancy showers. Maybe they should have discussed these details BEFORE giving the contractor more money? Rather than going further into debt, if I were truly working on the budget originally stated, I’d say…give me a showerhead that works and the vaulted ceiling…Or vice versa.)

In a way, I feel sorry for the renovators. They must get really tired of the same issues, over and over, because EVERYONE they bring on is fixated on the same issues. Of course, they’re probably also generating lots of work for local contractors as people who don’t get on TV shows decide they must have these things. So…maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I dunno. I just find it weird. No one ever asks for a backyard to die for.

Moving on…

“Make it pop.” Do these people even understand what that means? It comes from art where a tiny speck of pure white or intense color will make certain elements of the image stand out. Just once, I want someone to ask one of these homeowners to be “what do you actually mean by that.” I’m pretty sure the answer will be “I’ll know it when I see it.” ARGH

The one that bugs me the most: “Wow Factor.” I learned this one from dear author-friend and stitcher-extraordinaire Lynn Abbey. She grinned as she spoke about a sparkly bit of stitching having a high wow factor. THAT has meaning. A high wow factor means a lot of visual bang for your effort and pocketbook buck. It means a relatively easy thing to do that has a big impact on the end product.

Wow factor on it’s own is, IMO, snob on the half-shell. These people on these shows aren’t looking for simple, inexpensive, clever things to make a place special, they’re looking for high vaulted ceilings, several thousand dollar light fixtures, rare wood or stone, i.e. top of the line this or that to make all their friends envious. In other words…they come in, saying it doesn’t have the “wow factor” and expect the contractor to give them these expensive things but do it within their declared budget. If the contractor can’t do it, if they say they have to have more money, the homeowner to be rarely says “forget it” but comes up, grudgingly, with the additional cost. I wish, just once, the contractor would call them on it and give options for how to achieve an effect that stays within their budget. Instead, the shows perpetuate this idea that wanting is having. I’d also like to know how often the production company eats some of the cost in order to make that reveal possible and make themselves look oh-so-clever.

I love watching these shows because I learn a lot about house constructions and STUFF that’s available for future reno for our own place, and I do love seeing the end result, but I have to wonder…where do they find these people? Is an $800,000 house budget really the norm these days?

I hate to admit what we paid for this place….

But my red closet is a definite high wow factor for my office. 😀 Off to do the second coat!



35 comments to Words/phrases you’d like to see banned from TV

  • I recall watching a renovation on “This Old House” about 25 years or so ago….the family had all of these dreams about this and that, and didn’t bother to put their own “sweat equity” (another TV term?) into the renovation. When they got the bill, they were flattened. How can you buy an old house that you plan to “modernize” (more than bring up to code, in other words), and expect that you can do it with a few thousand dollars and a TV crew?

    When my parents inherited the house where I grew up, there were certain things that needed to be done, such as a new sink in the kitchen. We had one of those bathtub shaped sinks that hung on the wall, and Mom hated it, although it was great for giving baths to babies. When her sister got a new stainless steel double sink, she gave the old pink porcelain double sink to Mom. Well, Mom learned how to build a cabinet frame to hold the sink, she did the plumbing, and the only thing she couldn’t do was the main drain pipe through the floor to the basement. For that, she hired a plumber, but when he looked at her work, he said that he couldn’t have done it any better than she did. We put in a walkway from the sidewalk to the front steps, surprised the heck out of the cement truck driver when Mom started in. An old apartment on the side of the house got demolished by us kids so they could build a new back porch and expand the kitchen to a larger room, along with a utility room cum bathroom so we didn’t all have to use the upstairs bathroom at one time. Old house, they finally got tired of painting the lap siding, so had it vinyl-clad. Now, it’s all empty, except for Dad, and I don’t think he wants to live there much longer. It was never “his” house, as it was given to my Mom as a condition of her mother’s will.
    I swear, the things I would like for my house aren’t anywhere near as extravagant. I have a spa, it’s on my deck outside the back door. I have a galley-style kitchen that’s built wonderfully well for a single person (or a couple). My living room is big, I have 3 bedrooms (and too much stuff!), but I try to keep most of the crap out of the master bedroom. That’s for sleeping and I also keep my guitars in there. Hard to practice when 3 cats are climbing on the music books and you can’t see the notes. When I bought this house, I knew what I wanted to do with it. I’d like a little more outside room in the yard, because ham radio antennas aren’t small, and I’d rather they didn’t overhang my neighbors’ properties (I’m sure they would appreciate not looking up at them, too). I don’t have a 2-1/2 car garage with a workshop, an indoor pool (who wants to deal with the humidity?), or a huge amount of grass to cut. I really should get my act in gear and tear out some of the stuff in the flower gardens in the front, and especially in the back, where I’ve got 3 Rose of Sharon bushes, but a bunch of weeds surround them.

    So much I would like to do, but I’m not going to spend $2.5 million on it just to indulge my “cravings”. Where DO these people get their ideas that they “have to have” stuff like that? Wait till the kids are gone, then you can indulge yourself all you want….

    • As an (obviously) dedicated DIY-er I’m right there with your mom. What I enjoy about these is seeing how they solve certain problems. But the only future home owners I LIKE are those who put in that sweat equity. Most put a hammer through a wall that’s going to come out, then leave. 😀

  • Walt

    Let me just tackle “open-concept”.

    I had Thanksgiving dozens of times in my Aunt’s very conventional 1940/50s-built home. A couple people would go watch football in the family room, but everyone else was in the kitchen/breakfast nook room. Crowded. The nook table was almost overflowing with pies and dishes. People ran into another. Eventually, “If you’re not cooking, get out!”

    My father bought about a 1960 open-plan home. The kitchen opened to the dining room, but they both–from the kitchen looking over the kitchen counters–opened into the family room; it was pretty much one big square. No problems with people socializing with the people cooking. The problem is keeping all of that huge room looking guest-worthy. (The “formal” living room was totally separate. And the home had a small hobby room which became the art room; if it were my aunt’s, it would have been the sewing room.)

    Later he bought a home with a kitchen with a counter bar open to a family room (pretty small and easy to keep clean); and a separated living room and dining room. The advantage was a barrier to the kitchen, kids, and TV mess and noise from the guest-worthy area of the home. The style of the family room was casual and comfortable; the living room differently styled and more formal; the styles would have clashed in the open plan home.

    • Totally agree that the kitchens they show with the island and so forth are GRAND for big family gatherings. I also like a kitchen that is open enough for flow through traffic. A bar where people can be working on either side….these are great and keep holidays from being the kitchen crew and the football crew. But most of these makeovers have something like that, or a wall easily opened up to become that kind of counter. It’s when they think “open concept” means a load bearing wall can’t have a couple of beautiful pillars to either side of the island in order to hold the roof up, but instead a $4000.00 beam must be put in that I go a bit nuts. Talk about an EASY way to save money for that cathedral ceiling or fancy shower….. Open concept means visually open. A couple of 4×4 pillars doesn’t stop that.

  • Pence

    I’ve never been able to understand the appeal of a kitchen/dining room combo. If I am entertaining I really don’t want to have all the guts of meal prep sitting under everyone’s nose. There is a distinction between planning things so that the cook can still participate in the gathering and having all the disorder of having prepped a meal up close and obvious.

    One of the things that has bugged me about those renovate/decorate shows is the lack of thought for maintainance. Who wants to spend their lives cleaning a whole bunch of fluffy draperies for gods sakes.

    And then they get cutsy and put candles right under said fluffy drapes – and never a fire extinguisher in sight!

    I look at granite counters and all I can think of is how easy it is to smash the glassware on them, and the frequent surface treatments that the need!
    I’m not sure about the trend for wooden floors in the kitchen either – given how often I have to scrub my kitchen floor. Ok I guess for those who don’t cook and just heat up (expensive) prepared meals in the microwave.

    • Oh, yeah! Another fast way to “find” several thou in the budget. Real hardwood floors are EXPENSIVE. Laminate, these wood-look tiles…these are all perfectly viable options. And those puddled drapes!?! Whose idea were those things? There’s enough wasted fabric for another window treatment, and all they do is collect dirt and cat hair and get snagged by kitty claws…

  • I think that the only thing I really need to “remodel” is the wiring in the older section of the house. The house was built in 1959 (as a boy of 5, I used to live about 3 blocks from here and my friends and I would ride our bikes along what is now my street), and it has the 2-wire electrical system. The new additions, especially the kitchen, were all wired with 3-wire grounded, and GFCI outlets. When I installed the spa, I had to get the breaker panel upgraded to 200 amp service, because the spa needs its own 50 amp circuit, plus a separate GFCI breaker on the outside of the house.

    I don’t know what it would cost to change over the wiring to 3-wire, but eventually, it will have to be done to bring the house up to electrical code. I still don’t know how the previous owners managed to get away with this, because I doubt I’d be allowed to sell the house with 2-wire outlets.

    • Same here. Our basement and the exterior back wall are all two wire. Would love to get that fixed as you never know where you want to plug in a computer! 😀 That’s not something I care to do, however. I’ve added an outlet or two, put in lights and such, but I still make sure the lights on the stairs to the basement are off when not in use. Rationally, I know they’re perfectly safe, and there’s never been the slightest sign of a problem, but still…

    • In 1959 those 2 wires were code. And in some places it is okay as long as the outlets are the original ones. I have one room with one outlet not grounded and is a 2 prong. The 2 openings are part of the cover, so I have to keep the nasty brown thing if I want to sell it without updating it to code. Luckily I know someone who can use Polymer clay and she made a wonderful cover for the cover plate.

  • BGrandrath

    I make a good living delivering lumber to home owners in the Napa Valley. Some of them have almost unlimited budgets. you should see the contractors after the owner watches the latest remodel show

  • chondrite

    The one thing I regret is that I can’t get permission to do a lot of the work myself; our county wants anything more complicated than replacing a light switch to have a permit to be legal. I understand the need to make sure that your standard weekend warrior doesn’t stick a non-GFCI outlet under the sink for the dishwasher, try to run everything in the kitchen off of one circuit, or knock out a load-bearing wall because they want to enlarge the master bedroom. OTOH, I would be perfectly happy to have an inspector come by and make sure I’m not doing anything non-code, then let me do it!

    I wanted to do a major remodel: enclose our back lanai, move the kitchen out there, then combine the previous kitchen and living room, since we do a fair amount of entertaining, and quarters are sometimes cramped. It would have involved redirecting existing wiring and plumbing, but was surprisingly non-intrusive and only needed one new electrical circuit. I went to the county planning office to find out about permits, and brought some plans I had drawn (NOT on the back of a napkin!) After they laughed at me, and told me that I needed real plans from a professional architect including original house plans for starters, I abandoned the idea. I could do the work myself and make sure it was to code, but since I don’t have an architect’s or electrician’s or plumber’s or carpenter’s license, none of it would be legal and all of it would be way over budget.

    • Seems to me that I’d have been climbing over the counter that separated said planning office employees from me and commencing to show how well-experienced I was as a Navy chief in expressing my displeasure at people who are so full of themselves that they think they can laugh at anyone else.

      I’d have said, “Show that requirement to me in writing, in the county or state regulations. Otherwise, you’re spouting what you think is the regulation.” Laughing at you was the wrong approach, these people are supposed to be “civil servants”, and their attitude is hardly “civil”. Whoever came up with that idea that you needed a professional architect must have been thinking of commercial buildings, certainly not residences. However, let a petty tyrant have a little perceived power and they’ll continue to try to exercise that power. Is it something about the tropics that does it to people? I saw the same attitudes on Guam when I lived there. Their excuse was, “This is Guam.”…my response was, “Yes, and you’re still part of the United States.”

      I’ll bet if you had driven up to the place in a Ferrari, and had several “attaches” in tow, you’d have gotten better “service” from those people. The only thing they seem to understand is that someone more influential than they can make sure that they no longer have their seemingly cushy employment. It’s not necessarily who you are, it’s who you know and to whom you’re related – at least, that’s how it was on Guam. Hawai’i is possibly different……

      • chondrite

        There wasn’t any actual laughter, although there was discreet smiling behind hands. The non-starter was the requirement for original house plans; although I was sure I had seen a set in our house when we bought it, I hadn’t seen it in the decade thereafter and had no idea how to procure a replacement set. How many people have a set of original plans just laying about, especially if you are the how-many owners down the road?

        Being a librarian, I DO have access to the county codes and had meticulously read them through to figure out what was allowable. What I was banging into was an overly strict (IMHO) interpretation of the building code. I was going to claim an exemption as an owner-occupant, but the gatekeepers weren’t going to let me get that far; less profit in it. They even suggested that the lanai roof was not original to the house and might be an unallowed alteration (paint layers suggest otherwise!) although without the original plans, I don’t see how they made that determination. If I had come in, as you say, with a bit more formality and maybe a note from ‘Uncle Kimo’, I might have had more success.

        • That sounds really fishy. As you say…how many people have original house plans? We happen to only because the guy who did the woodwork many many years ago lives down the street and brought us a copy.

          Just a thot… What about taking your story to the newspaper? 😀

        • Pence

          Years ago an old family friend wanted to build an addition to his house -he was an electrician and had grown up handy. The town insisted that he have a plan ‘stamped by an architect’ He brought his plans to the local architect – who insisted on drawing up something fancy that had no relation to what Jack wanted. They went around in circles for a while and argued with the town for a while. Then one day in a fit of inspiration he pulled his Notary Public embosser out of the drawer (which said Notary in very large letters) and stamped that in the middle of his drawing.
          He got his permit!

      • Joe raises a good point. I wonder if it actually is a regulation, or guildlines open to interpretation and assumption….

    • OMG…I feel your pain. Makes me think of one of the first TV interviews I did after GroundTies came out. The interviewer, obviously shaken, said beforehand how powerful the depiction of Stephen was and wanted to know how many degrees I had and how many years I’d spent working with abused children. Of course, the answer was none and none, in the official sense, so when the actual interview came, we talked about the most banal parts of the book. This country has gone stupid over the issue of “credentials.”

      Your plan sounds very cool and very do-able. All the powers that be need is to send a contractor out to inspect and evaluate the situation and go over your plans. He can clear it or not and if it passes inspection after….Why should they care who does it…unless the associated unions have a lot of pull in the county. Grrrr…..

      • Maybe you and “Uncle Kimo” should go down there again and “make them an offer they can’t refuse”. Heck, I’ll bet if you even let them use your pen, they’ll be happy to sign….oh wait, you can’t do that in Hawai’i……

        • chondrite

          Well, this was more than 4 years ago, and in the meantime I bit the bullet and remodeled the existing kitchen which desperately needed it (when the undersink cabinet has no bottom because of rot, it’s time). I’m happy with it, especially having added a dishwasher, but there is still a fleeting amount of regret when we have 10 people in a living room built for far fewer.

  • It will always be the two of us so having an open floor plan would be nice in the tiny house we could actually afford. I need an art and bjd room, a room converted into a giant walk-in closet for our costumes and clothes, built-in bookshelves throughout. Our best friends have three bedrooms and all of them have built-in shelves and desks – really nice. Master bath needs either double sinks or separate rooms with sinks and shared shower. No bathtub. We will never get our own house (or even rent because we can no longer afford it) so our ‘dream house’ does not matter.

    • Yeah…we tend to be a creative group. That project room(s) are as big a deal as bedrooms for kids. Sigh…I’m slowly making storage out of bits and bobs of wood, but what I really need is to shed stuff and get down to what really matters…like the stuff for a little guy named Wiishu!

  • Hanneke

    The phrases you mention sound to me very like they are trendy, ‘hip’, and very temporary – I don’t expect them to be used in a book unless it’s to designate that kind of character you describe from the shows. Even the I expect it will get ‘dated’ very soon, and thus be used only in books with a short shelf life, which aren’t intended to have a long staying power.

    I can’t help you with further phrases, as I have watched very little TV since I stopped my cable subscription nearly a decade ago. Sorry!

    I totally agree with Pence, about having to keep the kitchen spotless and dealing with all the preparation mess while the cooking is going on being a bother when you have guests and an open-plan kitchen – living room arrangement.
    Alas, for the last half century or so almost all newly built houses have been built to such a plan, here in the Netherlands. We mostly have houses built in rows or blocks together along our streets – I think in England these are called terraces. Often only the corner houses have garages. The standard at least since the seventies has been to build these as “sun-through houses” (doorzonwoningen), meaning they have a window on the street or tiny front garden, and (a) large window(s) facing the back garden, and no walls between those on the ground floor. The open kitchen can be at the front or the back, and there’s usually a separate entry-hall with the toilet attached and the stairs to the bedrooms upstairs, sometimes with a mudroom for the bikes or the washing machine attached (or the washing machine’s in the attic, and the bikes in the garden shed or garage). Upstairs there are usually two fair-sized bedrooms (e.g. 2.7×3.5 and 3×4 meter), one tiny one for a baby or a home office or craftroom (2×2.7 m), and a bathroom with a sink (sometimes a double), a shower or tub and often a toilet. The attic usually has a corner or a ‘lumber room’ for the washing machine, and can be converted to one or two extra rooms if there are more kids in the house.
    I must admit, as young kids I enjoyed sharing a room with my sister, but as teenagers we were very happy to get a room of our own!

  • I tried to answer earlier and got into over-sharing and too much autobiography, so I’m attempting again to answser.

    I grew up lower middle class to middle class. My parents mostly built their 1960’s era home themselves. They were a good team and handy, like you and CJ. It was a comfortable, nice home, just right for our family. My mom’s art and frame shop was next door. This was also ideal, and I grew up so that turpentine, linseed oil, and oil paint, any arts and crafts, feels and smells like home and gets me nostalgic. I have a weakness for art/office supplies still, but have lately managed to master it. I think.

    So I grew up with not everything and thought the other kids had it better than I did, and some did, but most were about like I grew up, except with parents who spent more freely on the family.

    By the time I was a junior in high school, my parents sold to the developers who swooped in and bought our entire edge-of-the-city-limits neighborhood. In short order it would be paved over and become a “business park.” There’s no park involved, only parking and office buildings. Woods and fields and wildlife, both field mice and whitetail deer, trees and plants, and people’s homes and the trailer park right next door, all “tear down the trees, put up a parking lot,” as the 60’s protest song goes.

    We moved into a nice, comfortable 1970’s era subdivision home over that summer, while the custom-built dream home was built. This was intended for my parents’ retirement and so my grandmother could move in with them (hah, and again, hah!) when she got too old or unwell to live by herself (and Hah! again!). The idea was, this was an investment too, and that I’d live there through college and later would inherit it. So my own bedroom was a master suite in itself, so that the grandmotherly unit could later have her own domain, and I could, while I was there. Of course, the idea was also that I’d get a good bachelor’s or higher degree, go off to a professional career, get married, have kids, and a home of my own, but that I’d inherit the house eventually. Yeah. Didn’t work that way.

    Mom and Dad had *arrived*, though they didn’t say so. Mom especially went into that with a fervor, decorating and so on. Dad and I did our fair share of “we want this” too, though my dad was one of the least materialistic men you will ever find. My parents weren’t stupid and hadn’t quite lost their minds. They were planning, they were rewarding themselves too, for hard work. My parents started out poor to lower middle class. Both put themselves through college and met a few years later and married, and a few years after that, I was born. My parents worked hard and raised themselves (and me) eventually to upper middle class, for a while.

    So the big new house was there for reasons. But yes, it was excessive. As a high school and college boy, I saw this and thought they were going overboard. (They were.) But yes, I got into the act some too. (Say, this is nice. I’m well off, as well off as any of the kids I go to school with. Hey, wow, great. Hmm, do we really need a new so-and-so? No. Why are my parents doing this? Why am I?)

    I graduated high school in 1984, so this was the Reagan era, the yuppie era, the age of excess. Shortly thereafter, the oil industry would go from boom to bust, and my dad would be forced into early retirement, just shy of his 35th year with the big corporation as a seniro tool engineer. (Translation: There are giant valves on offshore drilling rigs that he and guys like him designed. Big as in, you could fit an elevator car or airlock full of people in there.)

    I went off to college and promptly began having severe trouble because, no real surprise, I was gay and not accepting myself and not coming out. Moral questions. Very upright and uptight religious stage then. I was raised with faith as a big part of daily life, not mere ritual. You lived and breathed it. Not, though, the hellfire and brimstone, going to heck in a handbasket kind of religious faith. (I do have relatives like that, thoguh.) Being gay, anything having to do with sex, was almost off-limits for discussion at home. Or at least, I felt that I could never talk to my parents about it, and I was probably right. — I had also grown up with these feelings (being gay) and confused over it, yet knowing what it was too. (And told so by other guys, and called names and beaten up.) Yeah. I was able to stand up and speak up for friends, but not for myself. Not yet. — I worked very hard not to accept myself, worked it into a severe infinite loop, got very depressed…and worked hard enough at this to lose a good academic scholarship and go below a 2.0 GPA, and be asked to go home.

    It would be a few years before I got an associate’s degree (2 year degree) with honors, while working full-time. By then, I’d learned how to separate work and personal, somewhat, and had only partially begun to deal with orientation.

    During that time, I had my professional working life and have always used that English and French / languages and computer science skills. Editing, ghost-writing, copyediitng, proofing professionally, design and graphics, fonts, you name it. But it was nearly all small client stuff. Only a few times did I get anything really bigger. — My parents were not in their element with this, I was somewhat, but was still new at it all.

    During this, my mom’s health began to fail. She passed away a year after i got my degree. She did not attend my graduation and would not watch the viddo the first time. (This hurt my feelings and I wouldn’t watch it with her, months later. Stupid, petty young man.) I took over doing business from my mom and my dad handled the money side of it. My dad passed away two years after my mom. Ironically, I had tried to talk with him a few months before about us moving somewhere smaller and selling the house. He didn’t want to but said he’d think about it. It didn’t happen.

    In short order, I was having to deal with everything, with a little help from a family friend attorney, but he mostly left it to me to do what I wanted. — I had never really managed money for a household. My parents did me a huge disservice by putting what I should have earned into savings for college, because, they said, they could get higher interest. I believed this. (I didn’t know at the time how bad an idea this was for me to learn how to do it myself, or that it was wrong, besides.) I did object once while campaigning to get back to college. I almost moved out without enough savings. Note that I *did* manage my own savings and checkbook while in college in a dorm, but it was the closest I had to living on my own, independently, and most was from my parents. In the argument, I had asked for help looking for a job with someone else, and to move out into a place of my own. I wish I’d put my foot down harder. But I did get on toward my degree, and did OK with what I did have. (This should have been another good reason for them to pay me and give advice on how to begin managing my savings and starting an independent life. I was sheltered and overprotected and overly controlled by my parents. They meant well, but by then, even I could start to see this was out of whack.) The two things are the only two real issues I had with my parents: control and money, and my orientation. They loved me, I loved them, they were never physically abusive, and the verbal was never the kind of abusive stuff other kids get at home. Instead, it was limitations like whom I could and couldn’t see, have over, go over to see, and so on. Yet they were otherwise good parents, a loving family. Understand, I believed this, the good kid. I rarely stood up enough to it. All three of us were mistaken, and it’s something I am still outgrowing. (Obviously.)

    I began increasingly taking care of my grandmother. I didn’t see that I should have set up an account and set aside savings for her care, and should have appointed someone else to administer that. That could have saved me from being so caught up in it and sinking very nearly all my savings and inheritance into her care and mine. I didn’t have a paid job during that. — It has really, really damaged my present and future, afterward. I’m getting by month to month, but am close to starting up an independent income for myself. (There’s a royalty that’s my sole income now. It was cut to a quarter of its former value when the economy crashed in 2008, and held steady for awhile, but has declined again in the last two years.) So I’m working hard to get a steady income going again from font production. Because I’m almost 50, handicapped eyesight, and this is not attracive to potential employers. So I’m making my own job. This suits me now. I’ve always worked in a small business anyway. … But doing it on my own entirely? Whew!

    They never teach you at school that the one thing about the real world is that you will be out on your own entirely, and you will then be responsible not only for yourself, which is big enough to handle, but you will also be fully responsible for the well being of one or more people you love and care about, so that if you screw up, it affects not just you, but the people you love most. Being the head of a family, responsible for others, was harder than any of the rest of living on my own…until I had to live on my own entirely without other people around locally for support, with too little.

    At present, I’m living more tightly than I did when I was a lowly college boy, 18 to 22. I am managing, but wow, is it rough.

    The thing is, if my parents were still alive, and even if I’d got that bachelor’s degree and professional job with better pay, I would still be in just about this situation. I would have still helped take care of my grandmother. I would, by now, have had to take care of my mom or dad or both. This year, Dad would turn 86 and Mom would turn 83. So I’d still be close to this point. None of us expected the economy to crash. None of us ever expected my grandmother to live to 102 with extensive care needs for years, even though she had pretty good insurance and social security benefits. None of us, back when I was college-age, expected how my life or theirs would be, or what would happen in the economy and world events.

    I still have my own home, but it’s my sole major asset. No car, I can’t drive. — I’m busy working on fonts as my best option to get back to a decent, livable income. I still have back taxes to pay off. I spent most of the last two years paying off back debts and taxes, and got myself so overextended doing that, that I got down too low on my remaining savings. So it’s crunch time, and I’m working to resolve it.

    The thing is, I have somehow managed it so far, and every time I think I won’t make it, something comes along to save the day. There have also been big somethings that come along and wipe out any time I’ve made real progress, outside of my control, too. But I’ll admit I haven’t been perfect, either. I’ve screwed up at times. But I think I’m learning, still. So anyway, I am in a better spot creatively than I have been in a few years, and there is some progress showing. But there’s a lot to overcome.

    While I’m working on fonts, I also somehow have to go through a house full of personal things, some never unpacked, and downsize to fit into, probably, a small one or two room apartment. I’ve never gone apartment hunting and never gone through a roommate search. That last part bothers me, because even now, I tend to be too naive, and I’ve had several people take advantage, while my grandmother was ill, of her and of me. If I get a roommate, I really need someone who’s a real friend and won’t take advantage. … And there’s never been a significant other, and the lack of a social life or love life is something absent that I’m likely prone to, because it’s been so absent.

    What’s the point? — Oh, massive over-sharing, still, dang it. Sorry for that.

    My point? I’ve seen living with less, then living with more in the upper middle class, when there’s excess. And then I’ve seen what it is to have long-term care needs and other life events which wipe that all out, so that I’m now below middle class, back where my parents started, almost. Unlike them, I don’t have a partner to fall back on to help. But like them, I do have a college education and a little life experience by now, and I still do have my own home, for now. I have anywhere from 15 to 20 to 52 more years to expect. Most of my family in the past two or three generations have lived into their 90’s, moslty healthy and of clear mind until then, so there’s a good chance I have 25 or more years I can work to reestablish myself. But that tax debt is likely to be such that I’ll have a payment plan until I’m 75 or so. That’s still to work out.

    My point, then, is that we all, every one of us, have plans and dreams for something better, somethiing we want, and we all want a comfortable home base where we can relax a little and enjoy ourselves and be safe, with the people we care about.

    When we’re younger, we might be lucky enough never to have faced hardship. We might have some disposable income, before there’s a family to feed. So all those gee-whiz extras and that ostentatious, “We have arrived, look how good we are!” big house (note, not “Look how good we have it, but how good we are”) holds sway. Even if we grew up without, or sometimes because we did, we want something nice for where we live, some luxuries. So even when we’re retirement age, we can get caught up in the “I-want” phase of nest-building.

    A further bit: My grandmother refused to move out of her home. I talked with her repeatedly about it. She wouldn’t listen to me. Well, she’d listen and do just what she wanted. (Don’t know why I’d expect any different. Like mother, like daughter, like grandson, and both sides of my family really value strong-minded women.) She didn’t listen to her minister, her attorney’s advice, her best friends, or any of her brothers and sisters in this.

    Why? — Simple. Because my stubborn, sweet, wonderful, irksome grandmother, whom I loved dearly (still do, but still irked) — My grandmother was not just a farm girl. She grew up a sharecropper. Her dad, my great-grandfather, was known to have a good heart and help out anyone, despite that his family were poor, with nine kids. (He died young, of cancer, in his late 40’s, when my mom (his granddaughter) was about 3.) My grandmother married her sweetheard, they eloped though both families knew about it. They were both 17 and left the family farm and hsi family’s home in town, and ran off to the big city, as poor rural kids who’d only graduated high school. My biological granddad would then later leave her when my mom was 15. He had an affair. I rarely saw him in his life…he was ashamed later for what he’d done, but had done too much to my mom and grandmother. (Not abusive. They loved and looked up to him. The guy left a good woman. I know my grandmother’s faults as well as her best qualities. My biological granddad was foolish to do that.) My grandmother remarried while my mom was still in high school. That’s the granddad I knew and loved. He had his own set of problems, a temper and initially a drinking problem. But — in his favor, even to my mom, was that he did love my grandmother and worked through to change himself, and did, somewhat, over the rest of his life. Still, they nearly separated at one point.) — This, together with the other side of my great-grandfather, who was a (very) strict evangelical / fundamentalist (he once burned a set of dominoes the kids had got, no drinking or dancing, but a piano at one point was OK) and strict on punishment, though loving and kind otherwise. — So my grandmother had reasons not to put much stock in any man’s thinking or behavior, so… she loved me, but I was both too young and too male, as her grandson, for her to follow my advice. (She might have followed my mom (her daughter) and dad (her son-in-law whom she respected a lot), but then again, yeah, she might not have.) — But my grandmother’s house, the small, 1950’s style subdivision home, then on the city limits, now inside the inner loop, that she and her new husband, my (step-)-granddad bought together, this was her very first and only home that was truly hers, bought and paid for, not rented, not someone else’s. They worked hard together in the grocery store (their own small business) to buy, build, and pay off that home. It was nice for the times, small now. It always felt like my second home, because she made it into a welcoming place. (She did OK a reverse mortgage, so it went.) — So to her, that home was truly hers, a great achievement, stability, hard work, a real home, everything in the American dream. It was 1950’s era middle class and ordinary, but for then, it was like other middle class people who worked for what they got and established a home and that American dream that was still reachable, post-WW2 expansion. They’d seen the Great Depression and WW2. My grandmother had lived through the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. To have her own home, where she could have it how she wanted and make it a place anyone could be welcome and feel at home, comfortable? This was a huge thing for her. And when she got too old to really think through it practically as she used to be able to do, she could not and would not let go. … And me, being me, and not yet experienced enough to do it anyway … I couldn’t countermand that and overrule her. (I would’ve had to have her proven non compus mentus, even by then, to do that.) I didn’t want to do that either. And so it went. It was always a good home. She made it so. She thought she didn’t have an artistic sense, but it showed in all she did, and my mom got her art sense from her.

    So this was a symbol to my grandmother of so many things. She made her home a beautiful, cozy place. It went through the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s, with my grandmother’s traditional self becoming quietly liberated and feminist in the best senses, and quite sure of her own mind, apparently too. But that was a fine thing, until she became too old and infirm see she should have planned ahead and done something to see to it there was something in place for her with me. I wish we’d done differently. But it was good, what she had. She did plenty, mostly little stuff, but oh, there was nesting going on there too. They remodelled the home in the 50’s and then in the 70’s, so the garage became a living room, built out well, and the kitchen expanded and they added a patio. She always decorated it herself, so it was, well, it was the sweet little old grandmother type home. 🙂 A grandmother who was as much the old traditional woman (homemaker) as she was the independent working woman and (quiet) but determined liberal feminist in some ways. This somehow worked well for her, and was admired and well loved by pretty much anyone who ever knew her. She always met people as friends. She liked people and they liked her.

    That home was something for her, a symbol as much as a real home, and yes, she made sure it was just what suited her. But this was fine. It was never to excess. Though she did spend extra a few times. That was fine, though, it was worth it.

    So…dang, as usual, I’ve written a whole raft of words on home appeal.

    Heh, I saw a lot of those home improvement shows when my mom would watch when she was at home. (Christopher Lowell. Lynnette Jennings. Others. Oh my, you must have this latest thing that Home Depot or Lowe’s or some designer sells. You really will love it. Never mind that the home improvement stores are paying us to market to you so you’ll buy all this and feather your nests to show off to everyone how good you are and how much you’ve got. Never mind it’s the age of excessive and the banking industry will get rich off mortgage lending while the stockbrokers and traders will get rich off speculations, and it’ll all crash down worse than the Great Depression, and last longer. You’ll really love this latest thing we’ve got, and you’re a young couple just starting out with disposable cash and kids on the way, so of course, you need this, dears. And of course, this other fine couple are about to retire, so they really need a fine retirement home as an investment, you see, with all the latest things too….)

    I don’t fault the home improvement shows and hosts. The hosts are often interior designers who are trying to make a living too, at what they do. They’re artistically inclined and trying to make a living, and people want what they’re selling. Clients want a nice home. Who wouldn’t?

    But yes, it’s a little absurd too. Yet hmm, I kinda liked this and that too.

    Er, and by then, though I still wasn’t out and hadn’t yet really accepted myself, and couldn’t talk to my parents about it? I did figure out a certain male host was quite happily gay, and my mom watched his show regularly, quite happily. (He does a good job, too. Often practical.) But if my mom did know her son was gay, I think it was something she mostly chose not to see and not to try to talk with me about. There were maybe a couple of attempts, but around the same time, a couple of negatives too. And an acetate drawing that didn’t last, that she gave to me in college, that got made fun of, by guys who passed by my dorm room and saw it. I didn’t tell my mom that’s why I took it down. Somewhere in there, was some knowledge by both parents, about me. But it wasn’t, as far as I ever could tell, accepted, quite. …Unless I really missed something.)

    Well, anyway — Yes, the TV home improvement shows are a bit odd, but that’s current TV for you. I think most of them mean well, but their hosts are in it to make a living too, and it’s a paying gig. It’s also that the buying public or viewing public want to buy into a dream, to feather their nests, and to show how good they are, or how good they have it. People don’t object, either.

    The nearly hairless monkeys on the third planet are quite strange folk, but on the whole, they do sort of bumble along. They are too primitive yet, too aggressive and wasteful to themselves and their environment and fellow creatures. Deemed too primitive and too high-risk for contact at present. Interdicted for contact and trade. Restricted Area Wildlife Preserve. Awaiting further species development before any lifeforms on the planet are deemed safe for the rest of the civilized galaxy. Pre-spacing and pre-interstellar, one or more potential sapient species, as yet too primitive. Warning, this is a restricted zone. The third planet species are too primitive for contact. Protected wildlife habitat area, pre-spacing species. Interdicted. All ships must avoid contact until further advancement is detected. Potentially dangerous to attempt contact. Potentially dangerous to release into the civilized galaxy. Contact is interdicted. Failure to obey this warning is at your own risk to life and property and galactic civilizaiton. Attempt no contact until further advancement is detected. Buoy repeats.

    • sky_barnes

      I hope everything stabilizes to an upswing for you, and that you get a roommate who can be a trustworthy companion willing and able to pull their own weight. My uncle got one of those less than a decade ago, in his fifties. They share a house and trips, even though they are not romantic. As for romance, my cousin didn’t meet his partner until he was 40, and now the two of them are remodeling Adam’s (his partner’s) family home together, so I don’t think its ever too late for anything until it really is. In the mean time you are forging forward with creativity, which is always a good thing. I unfortunately see the same thing happening to the children of today as happened to you, where parent don’t allow their children to take responsibility and learn all the things they need to manage themselves and their lives while they still have a parental safety net around. Trial and error is not the ideal way to learn, and can have dire consequences.

      • Sky, thank you so much. I posted all that, and then have been really busy with real life constraints. I look back at that post now and think, oh, wow, all that came pouring out. Not just my own stuff, but a defense of my grandmother’s feelings about owning her home. I am sure it shows how very stressed out, frantic, I’ve bee, how cornered I feel, and how I’m trying to get things back to some livable level again.

        I really appreciate your advice and kindness. I’m nearing 50 and have never really found a “special someone,” and yes, way too many years struggling inside with my orientation and acceptance of it, even though I could accept other people more easily. (Or I think I could.) It was my main difficulty with college, the first time around. Not going out and going crazy, trying everything, but the opposite, where I got into a very uptight mode, and worked myself into an inner loop, not accepting it. I’d had best friends, but nothing closer. I’ve been out now since 2004, but my situation (or my continuing mental block there) kept me from looking for anyone. (Being a caregiver will do that to you.)

        So…I would be amazed if there’s still a chance of meeting that special someone out there someday. I could have anywhere from 15 to 50 more years on the planet, so I’d rather there was still the chance to find someone, or him to find me. (And he’d have to be really something to like me in my current situation.) But who knows? If a guy could deal with that now, hah, he’d be able to deal with about anything, I think.

        It’s very heartwarming to hear your cousin found someone in his 40’s, and your uncle found a friend and roommate (though they’re not together romantically) still, friendship’s a good thing; needed.

        Creatively, I seem to have gone into overdrive, to really get at my budget troubles and fight it. That’s great, I’m really pleased I’m doing so well creatively. But I’m pushing so much, I’m often dog-tired. It might be a good thing for once that I deal with insomnia. Still, not the best or most healthy way to go about it, I think. I’ve been in the equivalent of massive overtime or deadline rush, and I’ve realized lately, I’ve done the equivalent of a couple of semesters of work…and this feels a lot like right before finals week. There’s still a long way to go before I have things ready to be submitted, vetted, before they’ll be ready for sale to the public.

        That’s also why I’ve been so much less active on blogs and other sites. All my time’s going into trying to improve my situation.

        Thanks, Sky! — I will be updating people on Jane’s and CJ’s blogs, to let them know my progress and when I’ve submitted fonts, and when and if they are through the review process, then released for sale to the public. Whew, lots of work!

        Best Wishes!

  • sky_barnes

    I don’t have a television of my own (or subscribe to streaming services as yet), but I always enjoy home remodel shows when I catch them, and similarly wonder what all of these people do that they can afford to purchase and renovate so much house (and who will clean it all). The largest place I’ve ever lived was 900 square feet with three of us. I can’t help but think of the mortgage crisis and wonder. I observe that many of the changes made (other than painting over some terribly hideous interior paint choices) seem designed to appeal to ‘ooh wow nice shiny want’ desires rather than really thinking about actual needs and how space is really used. They are appealing to mall shoppers, not those of us who do research, have a budget, and then and only then go out and look at the options actually available, list of criteria in hand. There is no such thing as “more” money in the budget, unless something else goes.

    I feel fortunate that I was able to help design and purchase materials for the converted garage I currently live in. If I ever move (and I do occasionally try for full time work in the wider world instead of my three jobs, one of which I love, which along with loving the space I live in makes me very choosy about what jobs I apply for), I know I will miss this place. I live in a loft space just under 375 square feet (35 square meters). The only interior walls are those surrounding the bathroom and the half wall that overlooks my stairs. All other partitions are made with furnishings, and there is a slight overabundance, mainly due to the abundance of high-quality free (alley) and nearly free (yard sale/thrift store) stuff that fits both storage needs and aesthetics. I admit to having gone a little armoire happy, with the count currently at five (1 – coat closet/pantry (solid pine, curtained front $25 at a thrift store), 2- utility closet/off season decorations storage (solid pine, to double jointed doors, free in the street), 3 – DESK (a massive thing of steel and colored solid wood (pine) I had made for me at a custom furniture place that no longer exists), 4- long clothing/sweaters/shirt dresser (solid pine new from ikea) 5- short clothing/socks/off season clothing dresser (pine, new from an all-wood custom made shop). But the armoires ARE my walls, allowing me to have a semi-private bed nook and partitioning my couch/knitting area. Every single piece of furnishings have as little to do with particle board as possible due to the dampness of my environment and my allergies. I sprang for solid bamboo flooring (from costco), solid wood fronted cabinetry (from home depot), a solid granite counter (from the wholesaler), solid marble tile in my bathroom ($2/sq foot for a very small space). The old solid wood desk I use for my cutting table (in my sewing area) came without drawers and was too short until I propped it on furniture lifts, but was only $25 at a yard sale. The solid wood table my sewing machine lives on was free and only needed to be refinished. My bookshelves have been with me since I was young, and purchased them from an unfinished wood furnishings shop and finished then by myself. My problem is getting all this awesome stuff and not letting enough go when I get more awesome stuff. My BJD collection are currently all able to live in one of the bookshelves, mainly because I was able to let go of a lot of books (they had gone moldy due to the damp climate… I love ebooks because as long as I deDRM them as soon as I make a purchase, I am likely to be able to keep them longer than hardcopy — I didn’t do that to the first ebooks I purchased, and when the company failed, I lost access to everything I purchased up to that point, so now I only purchase DRM free (thank you closed circle, book view cafe, Baen, smashwords, and I still sigh for fictionwise), or though a place that I have a stripping script for (this is legal for my own use). The BJD currency hold sway on my cutting table and at my sewing machine table.

    The one thing I don’t have in my space is guests (except when they visit from out of town, my couch does fold out into a full sized bed, and then I miss having alone down-time), as most of the people I would hang with no longer live in the same city or region, and I am very bad at reaching out. That is another reason I consider moving, to get closer to a social group I currently only see at cons or on trips to visit.

    Hanneke- Much the open plan kitchen might frustrate the chef who might like to not have guests see the explosive and destructive portions of what makes good food, I have to say that the standard Netherlands house plan sounds lovely. I especially like the expectation that there will be bikes to store, something I have yet to see any house in the US consider. (can you tell I bicycle commute?), and the expectation that the attic space can be converted at need is also something our planning departments often object to if found out.

    Chondrite – often counties have the plans for houses stored in their planning office, or in a regional storage facility depending on age. Your local planning office (the one that was less than helpful) should be able to tell you how to get the plans, frequently for a fee. (wire frame plans are also part of the sanborn fire insurance maps, which have been created for various years for various locations, some of which are online). Some municipalities have online zoning maps, which will often contain the file reference numbers for whatever plans are available for a specific address.

    Depending on the actual laws, you might be able to use some CAD software to create plans, then pay a nominal fee to a contractor/engineer to go over them and submit them for approval. Some locations allow house owners to take classes to qualify to do simple wiring and other home repair legally to their own home. (other people, as long as there is nothing visible to the outside, and they know what they are doing, DIY the interior, and plead ignorance of exactly when whatever happened if a later contractor catches the upgrades (only do this if you are sure your know what you are doing, wiring faults can burn down houses, plumbing can flood them, removing load bearing walls can collapse them).

  • Hanneke

    @sky-barnes: what a lovely compact home you describe. Over here we often call small apartments like that a HAT-flat: a House for one Alone or a Twosome.
    Family homes more usually are around 100-120 square meters of livable space, on something like a 5×8 meters floor plan, with half the attic being standing height = counting as livable. There’s a reason the sun-through house plan has lasted 4.5 decades already and is still going strong: it makes for a very livable town-style house, with a lot of living space on a compact area.
    One difference, I think, is that over here it’s rare for people to design and build their own homes. Developers build a lot of houses at once and sell them, and this kind of house is efficient to build in rows and sells well. The freestanding houses are for wealthier people, while two-under-one-roof adjoining houses, each with a garage, are an intermediate step; but almost all of those are developer-built as well, and often aren’t much roomier than the row-houses.

    And yes, of course in the Netherlands you can’t build a house or appartment without bike storage – everyone over the age of three owns at least one bike and almost everyones cycles regularly.

  • WOL

    I can see “open plan” when you’ve got crawlers and toddlers and preschool children that you need to keep an eye on for safety reasons. I believe the term for micromanaging parents that you’re looking for is “helicopter parents” — always hovering over the kids. I quite agree that parents should not make things easy for their children. Kids need to learn early that the world doesn’t owe them a living, and that they will have to work for what they get. The parents who don’t prepare their children for real life are doing their children (and everybody else) a big disservice.

    My brother and I had our own rooms growing up, but I think it’s necessary. Yeah, two boys or two girls could share a room, but not one of each.

    As an interesting aside on houses, my mom and I spent the night in the house that her mother was born in. Her grandfather was the manager of a cigar factory in south TX, and the owner provided him with a two room house with a loft but it did not have indoor plumbing (this was in the 1880’s). He and his wife had 5 children while they lived in it. (The owner’s house, the cigar factory, another small house and the manager’s house have all been restored and are all now a B&B establishment.) ( http://roundtopinn.com/ )

    My mom & dad built a house when I was 5 going on 6. My mother’s stepfather contracted it, and he, one of her brothers and my dad built it. It had three bedrooms, one bath, and a telephone niche. The living room went down the center of the house, ending in a picture window into the back yard. On the right were the bath and the bedrooms each giving onto a long hall. On the left was the kitchen which was at the front of the house (with a window over the sink), with a den behind it. It had a 1-car garage that later owners took in and made part of the house. My room was at the front, then my brother’s, then my parents’. He was only 3 when we moved in.

    My mom and dad grew up during the depression, and there were times when my dad’s family (five kids)didn’t have enough to eat. My mom grew up on a farm, and they didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing until after my mom had left home. My mom always worked. Because of what they went through growing up, it was important to my parents to have a nice house. The home we moved to when I was 13 had one more bathroom, but it was essentially the same as the one they built, only with more square footage and a two-car garage. My parents’ room has an en suite bath with a shower. The other bath has a tub. My mom worked all the time I was growing up, and she had to have a nice wardrobe as she worked in an office and dealt with the public. She has a large walk-in closet with a vanity. (She had to wear one dress for a week growing up,and had to spend the summer chopping cotton or picking fruit to earn money to get school clothes, so yeah, she became a bit of a clothes horse, but I don’t begrudge her any of it.) That house also has a “company” living room, although most of the “company” ends up in the den.

    My brother and his late first wife bought a house and renovated it. They tore out the W2W carpet, refinished the floors, etc., and did all the work themselves — but they were in their late 20’s/early 30’s at the time. He has asthma so drapes and carpeting are out for him. He likes the hardwood floors. They got nice bucks for the house when they sold it to move here, and were able to get a really nice house here as a result, which is where they were living when she died. He has since remarried and they sold that house, and have bought another one, mostly because of neighborhood issues (increase in crime, mostly).

    I’m living in a 2 BR apartment with a bath and a half. I moved from a duplex because the owner wasn’t keeping the place up. It needed a new roof, there was mold in the attic, and I ended up with asthma because of it. Before that, I lived for 21 years in a 2 BR 1 bath apartment that was demolished to make way for construction of a freeway. I lived for 13 years in the duplex. I’ve lived where I am now for about a year and a half.

    When I see drapes that puddle, I think somebody forgot to measure the window. (Really, it’s a status thing — we’re so rich we can afford to buy enough drapery fabric that the drapes pile on the floor, like in the middle ages, the rich women always had really long dresses with a train to show they were so rich they could afford to let their dresses drag the ground.)(Makes me think of Tevye’s song “If I were a rich man” in Fiddler on the Roof — he’d have a big long staircase going up, and one even longer going down, and one more going nowhere just for show.)

    Have you watched any “Property Brothers?” The real estate one always shows them a house that has everything they want, and then gives them a big reality check when he tells them how much it costs.

  • Hi, everyone. I have been very busy making web pages, in addition to making fonts.

    I have just started my font design website. The email is not yet up and running. I still have to do that.

    I do not yet have fonts for sale. Those will be sold by 3rd-party vendors when the fonts are ready. I do not plan to sell directly from my site. At least not yet.

    The pages that are there should all be complete so far. I have quite a lot more waiting for when they’re ready to post.

    Welcome to my new font design site!


    More update news as it becomes available. When I have fonts up for sale (by 3rd-party vendors) I will have updates on FontStylus.com and I will let people know here.


    Note Also: I’ve updated my personal website with a PayPal Donate button, available on the main area pages, such as Audio Voice Work.


    Thank you all!

  • Email for FontStylus.com is up and running.

  • Whew!

    I really wanted people to be able to see some sort of preview of my works in progress, so they could know what I’ve got and how far along it all is.

    I also wanted something that won’t give away too much too soon.

    This is time-consuming, but eventually, a finished product happens. It had better! 😀 I need to get these done for all kinds of reasons. Simply to have my creative work done, out there, available for people to use, for one. And yes, to be able to patch my leaking budget and actually make a living doing what I love again.

    So — Now you all can see samples of the most basic part of the fonts. Click a link to view sample images. Later on, when these are published, you’ll also be able to view pages for each font-family, and that front-end list will get a lot simpler.

    For the curious: There’s a lot more to each font than just what’s shown. The sample images show the old ASCII 96 out of 279 OpenType Standard characters. Along the way, these will get upgraded to the Pro set of some 433 characters.

    As I develop further, plans for each font-family may change, but this is what I anticipate so far.


    Thank You All!

  • Jury duty must really be exhausting. Haven’t heard from Jane for a while.

  • Hanneke

    Yeah, I was glad to hear they were both finished with that; but then there was the trouble with CJ’s eye, and there’s still the flooring to complete… and helping me through the first bit of Guild Wars 2! Yay, with some advice and help this is turning out to be fun!
    But sometimes I wonder when Jane is going to get some time for herself, and for her own work. I do want to read Homecoming Games when it’s finished.
    OK, going off to half my family’s birthdays in one weekend now; and a nice weekend to you all too.

  • The Net’s been awfully quiet for several days……I’m wondering if they’re still “celebrating” C.J.’s ascension to “Grand Master of SFWA” status…. 😉

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