Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pros and Cons, A Study in Yellow

Yellow is such a sunny color. Used judiciously, with some larger splashes of red, against a more muted butterscotch, white, gray and wood tones, it can add some decorating spark. One of the things I like about our new place, is that there is a sort of coherent decorator's touch throughout, not just in certain rooms like in our old house. [The picture above is a reflection in the window of the West Sixth Street store, ArtWorks, which I used because of the yellow and the glassware. Yes, glassware is part of our decorating scheme, in spite of the need for dusting!]

So, yeah, it's time to outline the pros and cons of living in our new condo as opposed to our old house. I'll not try to imagine living somewhere entirely different. That's too unrealistic. That's beyond my imagination skills, probably. Remember how much trouble I have with fiction after all!

Actually, rather than be negative and talk about pros and cons, I think I'll talk about pros and pros. First the pros of living here. Then some things we might miss from the old place.

So, yeah, here are the things that are nice about our current abode:

  • We have achieved a complete 'look' throughout by bringing only certain furniture, buying new stuff, building in custom cabinets, etc.
  • We have only 1200 square feet or so. This is good on many levels. It forces immediate consideration of where to put stuff and whether to keep it. It means there is less floor to clean, fewer things to clean in general. By trimming down the books and 'artifacts' (art, toys, old martini shakers, etc) to stuff we really love, we have created a look we enjoy and we can find some of our favorite books. Sometimes anyway. The small space made us trim our computer gear and make it wireless and it's pretty sleek. We ditched old TVs and got flat screens. Groovy.
  • We were forced to get DirecTV. This turned out not to be a positive, though, in one way, because we got to see "Friday Night Lights" on their exclusive channel ahead of the network.
  • Taking out the garbage is easy. No taking a big container to the street in the rain, no worrying that it will be too full, no worries about slide days. Just take the garbage out every time you fill a 13 gallon sack. Walk a dozen steps down the hall. Open the chute and drop. Things too big for the chute require an outing to the loading dock, but there you go. You don't have to get out in the rain. If, you know, it ever rains again.
  • No yard to water here, though. People always asked us if we didn't love the yard. But when we were out there we saw ponds that needed cleaning, areas that needed weeding, trees that needed trimming, grass burning up during drought and water rationing, paths that needed remulching, etc. We don't maintain the plants on the pool deck. We see flora and fauna galore on the hike and bike and any maintenance is in our tax bill to the city.
  • It's warm inside! We have not run the heater this winter except to test it. The window insulation must be pretty good and we are surrounded by other units. It's in the thirties this morning and the temperature a foot from the windows is 72 degrees. We did have to run the AC a fair amount during the hot times.
  • You can walk! We can walk to Whole Foods, to a little grocery, to the dry cleaners (although they also pick up and deliver), to my new dentist, to Long Center, to the Paramount, to the University (that's a bit far afield but we've done it a few times), to the hike and bike (without crossing a street!), to Alamo Ritz and Alamo South Lamar. We have two, soon to be three, restaurants in the building. We will soon have a grocery in the building. We can walk to a half dozen or more coffee shops and none of them are Starbucks. We can walk to Starbucks if we are so inclined. We can walk to uncountable restaurants and bars. We can walk to gift shops, furniture stores, clothing stores. We set up an account with a nearby bank and our broker has an office we can walk to as well. We can walk to some interesting neighborhoods, to do weird shopping on South Congress (although it is becoming a little posh and weird is being pushed to South First and South Lamar but we can walk there, too).
  • Since things are more dense, we have a lot of friends that we can meet on our feet. We have friends in the building, friends in the AMLI, the Monarch, Austin City Lofts, Nokonah.
  • We are next door to Ballet Austin. When they have events in the Austin Ventures Studio Theater, we are right there.
  • We are next door to the Austin Music Hall. Ditto on events there.
  • We are next door to La Zona Rosa. Ditto on events there.
  • We can walk to the Capitol. The lege is in session. Maybe we should go listen in.
  • We can walk to City Hall. If we want to attend a meeting, no problem. Walk a couple of blocks, go through the metal detector.
  • We can walk to the Courthouse. We vote there, whether early or on election day.
  • Mail is delivered to a box so you can just go down and pick it up and not have to worry about it sitting on the porch. Packages are delivered to the concierge.
  • Newspapers are delivered inside to your door. No soggy papers. No trip out into rain or cold to get them.
  • The concierge is there 24/7. Sometimes they can help with issues.
  • People can't knock on your door without getting into the building. Our friends in the building can get to our floor (it's an amenity floor), but they are mostly kind enough to call. So unexpected knocks have been minimal here. No solicitors.
  • Exercise! All that walking plus to lift weights or ride the recumbent bike or walk the treadmill, I just walk a few dozen steps to the exercise room. I could go down the stairs and swim in summer although I didn't do that. I still drive to the club for tennis and occasionally work out there, but this is very convenient. I could take pilates or yoga at Ballet Austin if I were a class-taking sort. When I'm in the gym, I can take a break and go get a towel, go to the bathroom, switch out reading material, etc. in the condo and then go back. The gym was three plus miles away from the manse.
  • Internet Access. The Internet Access in the building has been pretty reliable. I set up my own wireless router and it's easy to log in anywhere. At the manse, I had pretty good service, but I had to maintain some routers and wires and multiple wireless routers.
  • It's only steps to anything. That's back to the 1200 square feet, but if you want a cup of coffee and you're at the computer, it's a dozen steps. Bathroom, right there. Back and forth from TV to laundry to office to kitchen, a few steps. I set up a DVR and DVD player and flat screen in the bedroom but we rarely watch there. The living room is steps away.
  • I don't lose FFP as much. He can still wander off in the building or all of downtown, but if he's in the condo I can find him. Sometimes in the old manse I would literally go see if his car was in the garage before I knew if he was home. Even if he was home, he might have wandered outside. People who called laughed when I couldn't find him! I like bouncing things off of him in the office where we work back-to-back. I used to call or send him e-mail! OK, sometimes we still send e-mails. Shut up.
  • If you have an event downtown at rush hour, you don't have to participate in rush hour!
  • You can be in the midst of big deal downtown nights (Halloween, New Year's Eve, game night) but aloof, up in your tenth-story condo observing the madness without being part of it.
  • If we go out of town (we haven't been able to do this much), we can just go and not worry too much about somebody watching the place. The concierge can hold the papers. Or we can get someone in the building to pick up mail and papers (if we don't stop them). Much easier to go out of town.
I could go on and on. As I often do. But let's just list some things I miss from the old house.

  • Being able to crank up some music or WEB site with noise or something on TV in my office without disturbing FFP. The funny thing is, I didn't watch TV or listen to music in my office that often. Now I seem to itch to do it because it would disturb someone else! I listen to music or watch TV sometimes when he is gone.
  • Being able to store stuff until you felt like dealing with it. I had closets, a storage room, vast linear feet of shelves in book cases, a commodious garage, scads of kitchen cabinets, a huge pantry, built-in drawers, shelves, media cabinets, two deco bars with storage, etc. The downside of this was the constant need to do a major cleanup that culminated in the great downsizing of 2007/2008. But back in the day I could freely start collections. I could buy things I found interesting and I'd be able to stow them away somewhere.
  • Having the car readily at hand and protected from the elements. We had a large two car garage that held the cars, the garbage cans and lots of junk. The cars were protected from rain, dust, hail, cats, birds, floating pollen. Here we have a covered garage but there are open sections and we park near those. Also, if you leave something in the car, you have to go to the elevator, go down, walk forty or fifty feet. Makes bringing stuff up a challenge sometimes and really makes you regret leaving something in the car by accident. At the house, the cars were right there just outside the house proper.
  • Having friends be able to come by and just pull into the drive and they are right there. No parking downtown, no elevators. There is a down side to this, though. See above.
  • Having the parental units close(r). FFP's parents were a walkable distance away and Dad was ten or so minutes closer. This isn't a big deal, but I wish they were closer.
  • I could walk, from the old house, to Fonda San Miguel, Billy's on Burnet, Pacha, Upper Crust, Jorge's, a library (OK, I could walk to the main library from here and I don't do that either). I miss some of the old neighborhood. And walking around it. I suppose I could do what I used to in other neighborhoods and drive there and then walk! Must go to Fonda soon. I miss that proximity a lot.
  • We could entertain a bunch of people. We had lots of fabulous parties there. Of course, there is no reason we can't entertain in the condo club room or our private clubs. And we have fun entertaining small groups in the condo.
I did love my house. But I don't really miss it. I have to work to come up with the reasons it was better. There are always pros and cons, decisions and compromises. I love living here. (Right now FFP is playing something loud on his computer. But it's for work he is doing.)

Well, it's time for me to wrap up my morning writing and go exercise. Then, maybe, a walk. But, I'm thinking of, ahem, writing another paragraph or two of the novel. Or, you know, completely rewriting the first four (1, 2, 3, 4) parts! I pledge, however, not to change any facts in the fiction. I might add details or clarify the language or change clumsy stuff or fix typos or tense problems or mistakes, but you don't have to reread it. Cliff Pogonip's path is set. We are just following him along and filling in the back story. I won't go back into that plane and put him in the First Class cabin.

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