Archive for the 'home' Category

Daily Gratitude: My Home


Last night we had quite the wind and rainstorm. I woke up in the night hearing the wind whipping and moaning around the house. And this morning, briefly, we added sleet to the stormy, wet, cold mix.

And yet, I’m safe and warm and sheltered. I have the blessing of having a roof over my head, my own home, and it’s a home I love and feel safe and comfortable in.

One of my friends called it my “fortress of solitude”. I like that, although I refer to it as CabaƱa de Sisco. It’s not that I don’t have friends and family over quite regularly, but this is the first time I’ve lived alone in 23 years. This place is me, it’s an extension of myself and my lifestyle. It’s light, bright, colorful, airy, warm, comfortable, efficient. (Or, would be, if I’d ever finish unpacking.)

So, today, I am grateful for having my own home, my shelter from the storm.

Posted on Saturday, December 18th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: gratitude, home | Comments Off

Daily Gratitude: Zach

Day before yesterday, it started raining inside my house as well as outside. This is usually not good.

The caulking on the upper outside frame of my sliding glass doors had cracked, and a really solid rainstorm with wind angling the rain into the back of my house set off the leak. (This is Seattle, we have serious windy rainstorms all winter long.) I had no idea what to do, as I’m not a handyperson, but my mom and my son Zach did.

Then my awesomely helpful, handy and mechanically/spatially gifted youngest came over the next morning to help. Zach went shopping for caulking and the supplies for a new back porch overhang shelter, and set about fixing the caulking & installing the overhang for me.

Today I’m grateful for my son, who is both handy and helpful. He’s grown into someone I’m proud of, who I really like and admire. Go, Zach!


Note: the amazing and brilliant Janiece and Carol Elaine are doing a month of gratitude too – please join us!

Posted on Thursday, December 9th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: family, gratitude, home | 1 Comment »

Crossing the Sound

Saturday I went to the post office to pick up my held mail from while I was in Alaska. I flashed my ID for the postal clerk, who squinted at it and said, “Wait, who is Jeri Merrell?”

I stuttered, tried and failed to explain, and he shrugged and handed over my stack o’ mail. I made my pensive way back out to the car.

Jeri Merrell is someone I was for twelve years, someone I used to be. I’m not quite sure when I shed that skin so completely that it doesn’t even occur to me to answer to that name, although I still get her mail from time to time. (And, to be honest, although I answer to Jeri Sisco now, I’m not quite sure who she is either.)

It has been 19 months and 19 days since my life was turned upside down, since, waiting for the ferry on a Tuesday morning, Bryan collapsed and was gone in an instant. We have worked hard at rebuilding, at standing on our own, while still honoring Bryan’s contribution to our lives.

Bryan on Ferry

I’ve taken my maiden name back. I’ve bought a townhouse in West Seattle while the boys got their own apartment near college. I’ve discovered the amazing blessing of friendship & family. I’ve worked idiotic, insane hours, but I’ve also rediscovered interests and avocations that make me happy, like swimming, quilting, gaming and hiking.

On the whole, the boys and I are happy. We’re thriving. Still, though, grief is a sneaky thing and the littlest triggers let it come flooding back into my life.

Right now, we’re cleaning up our old house to sell. The place is cold and empty, the carpets peeled up and the garage filled with junk. Five and a half years ago I walked into the same empty house as we moved south to Washington. Then it was warm with promises, hopes and plans for decorating; now it’s cold and echoes with emptiness and grief.


One of the reasons I moved to Seattle – well, besides the smaller easy-care townhouse and the short commute to work and airport – is because I found the ferry ride tough, especially walking daily past the bench at the bottom of the boarding ramp where EMTs treated and couldn’t revive Bryan. Objectively, the ferry ride is beautiful and is one of the parts of Puget Sound culture I enjoy, but the meaning for me is intrinsically symbolic of my loss.

Today I found myself meditating on ferry rides past in the MINI, with Bryan… a quiet ride to work with newspapers & coffee on the occasional morning, to social events on weekends, to visit family. There were many crossings like today, where we wrapped up in the car quilt Mom made us so we could stay in the car for a cold weather crossing.

My last memory of Bryan was pretty horrible; it was at the funeral home, before sending him off to be cremated. I am not a big supporter of the formal viewing, but in this case, losing Bryan and not seeing him again, I needed the closure. We all did! Still, the sight, feel and scent of him, cold, stiff, bloated, waxy, awkwardly made up, seeping pink embalming fluid as he lay on the funeral home gurney in his Seahawks jersey, is intensely etched in my mind and has eclipsed happier pictures of the man I loved.

We scattered Bryan’s ashes in the Sound after we lost him, the water was such a central part of our lives. When I take the ferry, when I drive around, when I’m on a boat or wander a beach, he is there. Some tiny fragment of his physical matter still remains, and some part of his spirit as well.

Ashes in Sound

In some sense it’s comforting to have grief flood through my mind in response to simpler, happier memories of our life, rather than the eidetic minutiae of his death – the empty house, the car blanket we once shared, the music playing on his iPod.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by my sneaky old friend grief crossing the Sound with me. Memory, love, honor and grief are inextricably intertwined. As long as I remember Bryan, as we strive to honor his integrity and gifts with our actions, he lives on.

Posted on Monday, November 8th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: grief, home | 7 Comments »

Hunting the Elusive Condo

For the past month, I have been sporadically looking at condominiums and cottages in the Seattle area.


Why? I need to get away from the stress of owning a big home and yard that I can’t take care of by myself, with my work and travel schedule. And I really need to be closer to my office than the current exhausting 1.5 hr one way commute, now that my kids are done with school. And finally, it really is time for those kids to fly the nest, perhaps with a little help, but definitely find their wings.

My wish list isn’t really huge, but it’s not simple either. Close-to-downtown Seattle real estate in good neighborhoods can be ridiculously expensive.

  • 2-3 bdrm, 2 bath condo/townhouse/cottage w/ full groundskeeping

  • Sunny, well lit, open, prefer architecturally interesting to apartment-bland
  • Usable kitchen for cooking/entertaining
  • Hardwood or other non-carpet material floors
  • Fireplace
  • Deck or patio
  • Covered parking or garage
  • Laundry room on same floor as bedrooms
  • Reasonably quiet location – not end of runway or on major highway
  • Within 30 min of downtown

A townhouse is a plus, as is a soaking or jetted tub, a garage, and a view of a slice of green, mountains, or sound. High HOA fees are a minus, as are huge hive-like facilities with long hallways – not very dog-friendly.

I’ve found two I’ve loved but haven’t worked out:

The Bainbridge Condo is lovely. Totally lovely. It’s my gold standard. But, in the recession, not a single unit has sold and they’re all being rented out. This puts any single buyer at significant legal risk both from a underlying land perspective (owned by the developer) and from a HOA/assessment perspective.

Ballard Condo

The Ballard condo/cottage is a tiny, light, bright jewel. I also loved it. Apparently, though, contravening all customs re: condo ownership, there will be no community maintenance of grounds or building exteriors. Groundskeeping and the relative lack of headache is precisely why I’m looking at condos, so that is strike 2.

Bainbridge Condo

I’ve also found many I’ve really disliked, some for rather comical reasons.

The Capitol Hill condo had fabulous photography – and was, indeed, light and bright. It also had amateurishly installed Ikea cabinetry and closets, horrible kludged together bathrooms, and in a supreme triumph of idiocy, no *refrigerator* in the kitchen. Check the photo. There is no space for a fridge. Apparently the previous owner installed 18′ of cabinets and made do w/ under-counter wine chiller units in lieu of a fridge.

Capitol Hill Condo

The Lake Union condo was in a style I really like – sort of the Dwell design/style, dark bamboo floors, re-engineered stone countertops, window seat, lots of light. Still, it was four stories. Count them. And the first bathroom was on the third floor. The shared kitchen/living room was about 12′x14′, and had about five cabinets; apparently residents have to choose between storing dishes or food.

Lake Union Condo

Then there was the Fremont condo, which was also new and modern, but the copious back windows all overlooked a really seedy 7-11 and its filthy parking lot, and beyond that a head shop.

The inexpensive Normandy park townhouse condos were new and pretty and spacious, and conveniently positioned at the end of one of the SeaTac runways. How thoughtful for my travel schedule! And sleep schedule.

Anyway, I think I’ll take a break for a while, and only look when I see something stellar, avoiding any further emotional investment.

Note: I have a real estate agent. One on each side of the Sound, actually. I am perfectly happy with them, thank you.

Note 2: I am being heavily comment spammed lately. While I do review my comment moderation queue, if your comment disappears into the spam queue, I probably won’t see it to retrieve it, sorry – email me!

Posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: home, seattle | 5 Comments »

Cops! At My Door!

About 10pm last night, there was a knock on my door. I’m a little nervous answering the door at that time, so had a large teen boy answer with me.

It was the Poulsbo police.

My boys – including my sorta-kinda-adopted extra boy – were all home, watching tv, so while I flashed on the police delivering horrific news to me this spring, my brain didn’t dwell there long.

These gentlemen were looking for a runaway girl with a warrant out for her arrest. At this point, all three boys in the teen boy squad were behind me at the door, so it was pretty funny. “Sorry, officer, we’re kind of an all-boys household here.” I say boys, but they’re 17, 18 and 20 and all over 6′ tall, so really, they’re men.

The officer asked, “Are you sure that there’s no girl upstairs in a bedroom or anything?” I obligingly went and checked – no stray girl in any room or closet. My guys have done stupid things but concealing a girl in their room has not yet made the list.

The teen boy squad had never heard of the girl. Apparently she’s a couple of years younger.

The police indicated they’d received a report that she’d been at our address a couple of hours ago. Huh? The guys had been at youth group at church and I’d been home alone. (Ah, peace!)

After some back and forth, we determined that she’d made a call from a cell phone, and the cell number she called from was Zach’s over a year ago. Somewhere there’s an old billing record still tying it to our house.

News flash! Cell phone billing data is not useful (except for billing), just like it isn’t useful for E911 purposes. Cell phone locator data or GPS data would have been great for detective work, but the police didn’t have that information.

The police thanked us, and we them, and they headed off about their business. I hope they find the girl, and that she’s safe.

I was proud of the teen boy squad; they were uniformly respectful, helpful and positive with the police. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; it’s one of the benefits of living with a clear conscience and a good attitude.

Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: home | 3 Comments »