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Bed Bugs and Buddhism

23 Aug

The bedbugs have made me into a better Buddhist. Or Catholo-Buddhist. Or whatever mish-mash of “religions” I’ve become.

Here’s why: I have been a disciplined practitioner of eliminating my attachment to earthly things over the past days.

Meaning I have thrown out A LOT of stuff in a very short period of time. To quantify: One dumpsterful plus a double-load for bulk pick-up.

I thought it would be interesting to explore some Buddhist and Christian quotes on attachment and “worldly” living, made all the more interesting thanks to my new frenemies (props to Eric Calvert), the bedbugs.

Starting with this Buddhist quote:

The greatest generosity is non-attachment.

So, I’m being generous to the city dump, since no one wants my bedbuggy stuff? (Well, I suppose that’s not technically correct. See here for more on people who grew attached to my stuff, thereby taking on my former attachment with the added bonus of bedbugs.)

This next quote (also Buddhist) unmasks the illusion of the uniquely human trait–saving face:

The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.

This is a special shout-out to any of my neighbors still speaking to me, after the several days of trash piled on my front lawn, followed by the dumpster sitting in my driveway after that. Now, we’re just back to the small pile of mulch at the bottom of the driveway, with several small trees growing out of it.

Hey, what can I say, that mulch pile was several feet high at the start of the summer. That’s what I call progress! So, even though I appear to be “that neighbor,” I’m really an extremely upstanding citizen wholly focused on saving the world, starting with absolute bedbug elimination.

Here’s one from the Bible:

You adulterous people! Do you not know that
friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a
friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

(James 4:4 (ESV))

Ignore the first part. It’s just a pithy lead-in to the meat. What this quote really means is that I am VERY close to God. I now despise my worldly possessions. Every time I throw a new load in the dumpster, I both curse AND say a little prayer. No matter that it mostly focuses on a swift death to all bedbugs in my near vicinity.

To further emphasize my hatred of my worldliness, all of my earthly possessions are now encased in giant trash bags, so that I cannot even tell what they are. It’s now as if I own almost nothing. I am no longer a friend to the temptations of acquisition. Less is more, because it means fewer bedbugs and less hassle for me.

I’ll admit that I have felt a bit like Job with this bedbug business. Why me, God? I didn’t do anything (seriously) wrong!

Much like Job’s protests, mine haven’t done anything to change my circumstances. Life happens, and it’s up to us to figure out how to deal with it. For now, apparently the best course of action is to downsize.

(P.S. Out of sheer curiosity, I did check for Biblical and Buddhist references to bedbugs and found none (although a host of other insects, including white ants, do crawl into certain verses). But I did find this interesting commentary on whether or not Buddhists are permitted to kill bedbugs. The post also explores some interesting thoughts on what it means to be reborn as a bedbug. Wow.)

We’re Out, We’re In: An Update on the Houses

8 Jul

Well, it’s now been just over a month since we moved into the new house. There are still a variety of projects underway. But we have thankfully hit the milestone of getting the old house ready to sell. It went on the market today.

While I’m at it…anyone want a cape cod in Bexley? Cute house, great yard and awesome neighbors. (Yay to our listing agent, Alex Macke, for these words: FABULOUS VALUE and KOI FISH POND and PREMIER NORTH BEXLEY STREET. Hey Alex, we never had koi in there, but it is deep enough…so why not?)

Since our move, Ben has hit the breaking point many times from sheer exhaustion. He’s been getting the old house prepped to go on the market. Easier to do when you don’t live there, but it’s still VERY hard work. He has been a trooper through it all, working on the house before and after he goes to his real job. Today he had some fun and took the kids to the movie. He deserved it! Here’s his blog about work on the new house. He’s been too busy to post lately, but there are some handyman type stories about his work on fans, light fixtures, fences and other “effing” things. I am his proofer and have had to go back and edit things just to keep them “G-rated.”

At the new place we have all established our traffic patterns. Having a more open floor plan has been great for our family. We are enjoying the unique 20s and 70s features of the home. It’s soothing to sleep with the windows open and hear the night sounds from the ravine in back. I’m spending a lot of down time on the deck, enjoying the view and the shade from our beautiful trees.

The dog is happy because we’ve discovered a dog park and a group that assembles there every night after work. That makes me content, too, because I can socialize with people and decompress after work, get some much needed outdoor time and wear out my little barking ball of energy.

My teenage girl is now rarely seen as she is happy spending time in The Teenage Suite upstairs. My 9-year-old son has spent a lot of time exploring the creek in the ravine. Thankfully, he doesn’t seem to have inherited my allergy to poison ivy.

In my next post, I am going to focus on some of the interesting aspects of the new house. First up will be ceilings and light fixtures. We have some cool ones.

Ode to a Half-Bath

29 Mar

I wanted to share the before and after shots of our half-bath at the new house. The after’s still not completely finished. Still some details. But you can see the new paint, mirror, plug, sink and cabinet.

Before: Old Hollywood + 1970s.

AFTER: Bead board, new sink and mirrored cabinet, yellow paint.


14 Feb

Today I spent more time spackling and sanding, here:

The Teenage Suite

Since that’s fairly boring, I thought I’d post some photos of the some of the floors at the new house.

First Floor Full Bath Tile

Entryway bi-color wood floors

Dining room two-way wood floors

Second floor master bath tile.

Greensleeves, Anyone?

14 Feb

I thought I’d post this photo of the chandelier in my in-laws’ house. This was custom-ordered by my father-in-law. It is an awesome piece of metal and glass, but it’s a bit heavy for our taste.

My husband went to Columbus Alternative High School, where many of his friends were involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism. I can see many of these friends in pre-17th century garb dancing below this chandelier, with “Greensleeves” as the soundtrack.

We have been consulting with family members to determine who will get this when we take it down and install a lighter replacement. I believe that we’ve found the one who will truly appreciate and care for this piece in perpetuity, but we need to confirm the transfer of goods with my father-in-law first.

We’ll follow the journey of this chandelier, from its removal and replacement to a posting of the piece with its new owner. Stay tuned!

Today in Joint Compound

7 Feb

I spent most of the afternoon at the Ingham house, pulling out nails, screws and anchors from the master bedroom, then starting to patch holes and prepare for painting.

This was after my “warm-up” day yesterday. I spent much of the three hours then just walking from room to room and assessing what all needed to be done, feeling pretty overwhelmed. Decided at the end of that extremely unproductive time that I should probably just stay put in one room and not leave it until it’s finished. That’s what I did today, and it worked.

There’s always a pregnant pause when you pull out a deeply embedded piece of metal from a plaster wall. Plaster makes a crumbling, coming-apart noise that is not so comforting. I had some worries about a wall just disintegrating like a mummy that’s been left in the pyramid too long.

While hoping that the plaster would splinter off less often, I thought: Wow, my in-laws hung up a lot of stuff in their bedroom. I guess you don’t think about that until you have to prep for painting. How many of these screws and nails should I leave up, for the stuff my daughter will want to hang? I left about 1/4 of them in.

Then, it was time to spackle. This time I used the joint compound provided by my husband. Much wetter than the marshmallowy stuff I’m more used to. I followed all of the directions, letting it dry enough and anticipating shrinkage, before reapplying a second coating.

Realized several hours later that I have a big stripe of joint compound on my parka. Nice.

Next weekend: Sanding, and more joint compound in the hallway and office.

The Big Project Plan in the Sky

31 Jan

This weekend’s focus:

Inventorying and planning out all activity to be accomplished to stage move-in to new house and sale of current house.

Pretty overwhelming. I laid it out room by room. Currently, the plan has over 100 tasks, spans two years and basically has us working on my in-laws’ house every weekend until May, plus all week during spring break.

Ben and I have tasks–and so do the kids. I am an extremely good painter and am kind of looking forward to it, even though I know I’ll be sick of it after several rooms.

What I am not is a good spackler. I need to take some remedial spackling training. The last time I spackled something, it took Ben a day to sand it back to flat. Oeuf. I’ll be studying up because we really need to divide and conquer with our tasks, and I need to deliver in this department. Stay tuned for some mistakes–it’s inevitable. I’ll be working with plaster.

The tentative plan is to move on Memorial Day Weekend. By then, we will (hopefully) have all of the bedrooms in the C-ville house painted, plus hopefully the living room and dining room. The family room and kitchen can wait.

Then, after our move to C-ville, we will paint every room in the Bexley house white again and get it ready to go on the market.

I need to take some before pics at both places and will soon post so that I can document our progress. It’s going to be a long next few months!

Our Home Makeover Adventure

13 Jan

My husband and I have decided to begin the process of buying his parents’ house in Beechwold, north of Clintonville.  We are very excited about the possibilities. This is the home where he and his four sisters grew up and where he and I were married. Safe assumption that there’s significant sentimental value rolled into it.


  • Beautiful hardwood floors and woodwork
  • Slate roof
  • Overlooks a gorgeous ravine
  • Skylights
  • Lots of space — at least double our current square footage
  • Lots of good memories
  • Chance to carry on the family legacy in the homestead


  • How to reconcile the 1920s “old” part of the house with the 1970s era “new” part of the house? The styles happen to be ones I like, but they are not easily interwoven. There’s a definite shift in mood from one part of the house to the next…making it somewhat bipolar.
  • What if we change something that has particular (perhaps unknown) significance for a family member? There are aspects to the house that have been embedded in memories. We are being cautious here, but we want to make it our own home and are mindful of that, too.
  • Walls covered with a mixture of cork and wood paneling. Very brown, very dark. This is an aspect of 1970s interior design that we just cannot embrace. Like the color orange in carpets and couches, this was a trend that should never, ever return. Let’s hope. Our difficulty is we may not have enough money to put up anything else. Wonder what it would look like if we painted it all…
  • 4-foot-wide gothic chandelier that weighs as much as an anchor. This was custom-ordered by my father-in-law for the space. I remember when this variety of fixture was popular. A place my parents liked to dine called the Cork ‘n Cleaver had this type of interior feature. Just begging for lively Renaissance fair action occurring underneath, with “Greensleeves” as the soundtrack. Not really our style.
  • Buckling Pergo floor that needs replaced, but may have to wait until we have the funds to do it right.
  • The door to nowhere: One second-story bedroom has a door that used to open onto a back porch, but when the addition was built it took the old back porch’s footprint. So this door no longer has a purpose, but it remains in the bedroom. If opened, a person would step off the cliff and fall one story into the great room. It’s an interesting view from the great room, too…just hanging out halfway up the wall. Eventually, a spiral staircase to connect the too floors from the back of the old house into the great room is the logical way to go. Again, cha-ching.
  • Kids think the house is a bit spooky. This can be traced back to the chandelier, cork and wood paneling, and the fact that my husband and sisters-in-law have told them stories about the house being haunted.

Just for extra fun, not in the benefit or challenge category: Rumor has it that there was a still in the basement soon after the house was built, which was during Prohibition. Makes for added interest.

What issues will we have the time and funds to resolve prior to move-in? We have no idea, but it sure will make for some interesting stories along the way. We are thinking about blogging about the process, so watch for more info as details unfold. This will be a home makeover adventure!