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Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Woes of a Southern ex-Pat

Sometimes I feel like I did not truly experience the South.

Tonight, as I chow down on delectable barbecue courtesy of some other displaced Southerners, is one of those times.

Sure, I grew up in Virginia, but Northern Virginia is not really the South. It’s the Diet Coke version of Southern life. Don’t get me wrong. Manassas was one of the best places to have lived as a kid. But I did not live in the South until I moved to Georgia after college.

Then I gained a full understanding of the wonderful conglomerate that is urban Atlanta and it’s suburbs (bless their dear sweet hearts).

It’s the cooking that I developed a taste for while working as one of the paper’s food reporters. It’s the fact that Sweet Tea is really the only way to drink iced tea. And it’s knowing that grits and GRITS are two remarkably dissimilar and identical concepts at the same time. One being a hot dish served with butter or cheese that resembles cream of wheat and the other being the acronym, Girls Raised In The South. Both are an acquired taste.

When we moved here to Colorado, I thought I had passed a time in my life where I would no longer need the comfort foods of my former humid home.

No more fried food for me. I’m gonna eat healthy now. Yep. [emphatic nod]

Oh no. Once you’ve had barbecue done right it is impossible to accept substitutes.

And that my friends, is where Georgia Boys BBQ Company comes into the picture. They’re the Front Range’s solution for meaty Southern soulfood.

So far I haven’t been able to get beyond their brisket, which even though my sister would probably protest is “too pink,” is seriously hog heaven. At least it’s where I hope the good piggy’s get to go.

In addition to barbecue staples such as pulled pork and pulled chicken, they also have a mean selection of sides including coleslaw, barbecue beans and Taters n’gravy. Tonight, I sampled the sweet potato casserole. As near as I can tell it’s sweet potatoes, pecans, brown sugar and melt in your mouth kind of awesome. No matter what makes up the casserole I like to think that it was like a healthy dessert.

See. I can eat well and get my soulfood too. I still think I’ll pass on the grits though.



Getting our plumbum on

In theory, we have four bathrooms.

At least that’s what the official description of the house claims. Four rooms plumbed as though they were bathrooms. In reality it’s one full bathroom, two 3/4 bathrooms, and one 1/2 bath.

Right now we have the sum total of one bathroom spread over two floors and three rooms.

Only one toilet works (on the ground floor), one bathroom sink (in our closet), and one shower that hilariously leaks onto the floor from some mysterious portal somewhere near the taps. Taking care of your morning constitutional is enough to commence your morning aerobic workout. Well. At least a warmup.

This is probably part of why my aunt insists that we have “such a big house.” She lives in the house my mom and her siblings grew up in. My grandfather’s family built it and over the years it has undergone the gradual evolution that has led to it being the house where my aunt lives today. Originally, the house didn’t even have one bathroom. In the 1950s, when my mom and her sisters were growing up, they still had an outhouse. I guess when you look at it that way the Jade House is quite expansive.

Like everything else, we’ll address the plumbing one step at a time. Right now, our main focus is repainting, laying down new floor and getting all of the boxes out of the garage. Maybe this will happen before it snows? We’ll see. Since it’s only Owen and I and the cats, there’s really no deadline for getting these things done. Besides, even having the one fractured bathroom is a major improvement over what it was like when took possession of the Jade House.

In the first few days of living here, before a plumber came to address our whole house leak, we had no running water at all. That inconvenience more than anything else in my 27 years has made me appreciate the value of modern plumbing. First thing in the morning we’d trundle over to McDonald’s and eat breakfast out just so we could use their bathrooms. We’d fill buckets of clean water at the library where I work and have access to the janitor’s closet.

It made me wonder how homeless people take care of their morning business. I still don’t really know, but given our enormous good fortune, I’d like to start doing something to make things better on a larger scale. But that’s another post for another time.


Breathing life into the Jade House

I have come to the conclusion that throwing a house-warming party while the house is still on fire, is a bad idea.

We’ve been in the Jade House for almost a full month now and have decided that maybe we’ll throw a shindig for the house sometime in the fall. Of next year.

Owen and I are Level 1 homeowners and moving into a serious fixer-upper like this has kind of been like running into Molten Core wearing only starting gear.

At times, I feel like I’ve been running around my head and screaming: “STICK TO THE PLAN GUYS! STICK TO THE PLAN!

Coming to live at this house felt very much like a whirlwind three-month long courtship where neither party was really ready for something serious.

We had a rocky first date where I wanted nothing to do with the house, met a second time when I started to reassess my original opinions, and finally the pirate and I decided to propose our intentions. We had some issues surrounding our signing and I started to worry that the house was getting cold feet and wanted to back out. Finally, we made our for better or for worse commitment.

And now here we are. The honeymoon hardly lasted an hour and now both us and the house are hanging out all of our dirty laundry. Our toolbox is inadequate to handle the house’s needs. It was empty and neglected for sometime before even going on the market. There’s a random hole in the kitchen ceiling. Every faucet leaks in some endearing fashion or another. We have more weeds than actual lawn. Our laundry list goes on.

We have our work cut out for us, but we’re enthusiastic about the challenge.

It’s really nice to have a space where we don’t have to answer to anyone. If we want to paint the walls. We can. (Currently we’re going with Behr’s Wax Sculpture but accent wall’s are in our future.)

Yes, Wax Sculpture looks like beige. But it’s our beige.

If we want to put up an aerial jungle gym for the cats in the future office, our only limitations are our imagination and our skills.

We’re even thinking about signing up for a couple of classes through my community college on basic at-home plumbing and electrical. Because seriously. Beyond knowing that water goes down the drain and that electricity likes to be grounded, we don’t know a whole lot.

It’s a slow process which is fine by us. We’re not here to power level and move out.

It’s at least a 30-year commitment and we want the Jade House to know that we’re in it for the long haul. Come what may.