1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006


The ratio of Kristin to Darwin in our house is now 2 to 1. No, I have not doubled in size (I've actually lost weight over the past few months, hurray for me). We have a houseguest this week, whose name happens to be Kristin. Actually Kristen.

She's one of my dear friends from college, and she just started a job back here in the town where we went to school (University of Alabama, and it must be said - Roll Tide!). While she's looking for an apartment, she'll be staying with us.

Kristen and I have had a long-standing faux battle about which is the proper way to spell our name. People often assume mine is spelled Kristen, as if Kristen is the more common and popular way to spell it and I'm just weird for spelling mine the "other" way.

A look at the Social Security Administration name website shows that in 1980, the year Kristen was born, Kristin ranked 37 while Kristen ranked 39, and in 1981, the year I was born, Kristin ranked 31 while Kristen ranked 38. So Kristin outranked Kristen both years.

However, the Name Voyager (the coolest tool in the world if you are obsessed with names like I am) says that Kristen achieved a higher rank overall at its peak time (in the '80s, naturally) than Kristin. In the end, more kids were named Kristen.

Still, a massive number of kids were named Kristin. So how did Kristen get to be the default?

As you can see, it's a battle neither of us ever wins. So Kristen and I came to a compromise. When referring to the pair of us, we are Kristein. This came from the name we chose for our team once during intramural bowling. Yes, we were actually on a bowling team for a brief time freshman year in college. I believe we came in last place. We were no match for the team from the Catholic Church - those girls were serious about bowling.

Anyway, with two women named Kristein around, things can get confusing. Especially if you live in the South, where the two names are pronounced identically. And especially if you both have the same last initial (or did before I got married).

I usually refer to Kristen by her full name, even though surely no one is confused about who I'm talking about. Also, she dislikes being called by her full name, so I enjoy it for that reason.

Regardless of her name, you might think that having a houseguest around will slow down the slight momentum we've finally built up. But no! I'm determined that work will continue while she's in residence.

Fortunately, I found out last night that she's interested in home improvement. She actually asked me to invite her to help when we're ready to tile the kitchen countertops. Now this is the kind of friend I need to keep around!

I might enlist her help to scrape the clawfoot tub tomorrow night, though I hate to inflict toxic fumes on a guest.

Other good news - Kristen now owes us one, which means we can count on her to check on our cats when we go to Italy in the fall. She has two eccentric cats of her own (aren't they all?), so she knows just how to handle our little devils. Besides, they don't hate her as much as they do most people.

This means I can now actually book the trip to Italy. I'm nervous because that's a lot of money, but excited because I think it will be worth it. My plan was to go to Venice, but now Kristen says Florence is much better. She loved it and wants to go back one day. That's a pretty strong endorsement from someone whose opinion I value. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. I guess we could do both, though I am more of a stay-in-one-city kind of traveler.

Anybody been to Florence and Venice?

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Jordana said...

Can you do both?

I spent a day in Venice, a day in Florence and a few days in Rome when I was in college and studying in Germany. We hit Venice on a lovely cool day when nothing smelled bad and the world seemed enchanted. I have wonderful memories. Florence was also pretty wonderful. I'd have a hard time choosing.

10:22 AM  
SmilingJudy said...

You were born in the 80's and you're already restoring a house? Ugh. I am so old.

11:00 AM  
John said...

Venice was nice enough, but I enjoyed Florence more. It would be hard to go wrong though. I haven't travelled in so long (thank you Devil Queen) that I'd crew my own foot off if I could go somewhere.

12:24 PM  
Patrick said...

I love Italy...Can't wait to go back again--this time with family in tow (we've got plenty of "credit card air miles" that we're planning to go once the "camping" ends....

Here's my suggestion: Go three weeks (or longer)! Start in Rome and move north through Perugia, San Giamigno, Asisi, Sienna (one of my favorites), Florence and Venice...Then move over to the other side and do La Cinque Terra (Wonderful!)...

What ever you do...go and enjoy. Eat where the locals eat, drink wine, and dine s..l..o..w..l..y. Enjoy the history, the ruins, the wonderful people. Swim in the sea. Bask in the sun. Eat blood oranges. Pick up some wonderful bread, fruit, cheese and wine from the local vendors and take a walk (Assisi is great for this). Sit in the plaza of Sienna and enjoy a Coffee an Pan Forte. Go.


12:31 PM  
halloweenlover said...

Did you say how many days? We did both Florence and Venice and LOVED them both. I actually preferred Venice, though. It is a hard decision. You could do Florence and then Cinque Terre, which is f---ing fantastic. Amazing. The most beautiful place I've ever been. Venice has those little islands that are just a boat taxi away and those are my loveliest memories from Italy. To be honest, Venice was the most romantic place I've even been.

They are only a few hours apart, so you could do both, I think, with success. Whatever you choose, I have lots of suggestions!

3:43 PM  
jm@houseinprogress said...

Ooooh, Florence. You can make a day trip to Venice from Verona. But Florence has Sienna et al.

Take trains. Don't bring jeans. Bring lots of skirts that you can walk in. Wear walking sandals. (I'm partial to Born sandals myself.) As Patrick recommends, linger. Savor. Move slowly. In fact, it will be difficult to do otherwise in Italy as life just moves more slowly there. Don't follow the crowds or other tourists. Bring a journal. Bring a camera. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Italy is so lovely.

And if you can linger in Tuscany at all, do it. If you do make it to Verona, check out the Ostello Verona (the hostel there). It's not just for "youth", it's in an old castle surrounded by gardens, it's very inexpensive.


3:45 PM  
Blair said...

Venice is a lot of fun... but there is just so much to see, that you might just hate yourself for not taking a day trip anywhere...
Oh, and a thing about Venice, if you are sensitive to movement (as I am) sometimes you swear you feel like you are rocking (as in a boat type of way).

11:06 PM  
Lenise said...

I was in Italy the summer after my sophomore year of high school, so I didn't choose where we went or what we did. My memories of Florence are pretty limited- we went to the "Academy" and saw the statue of David. That was definitely cool.

Venice was really picturesque, but completely trashed (there had been a Pink Floyd concert there right before we arrived). It was a little sad to see all the crumbling buildings, but they were very cool! We stayed on Lido, so had to take the water taxis, which were not bad for even an self-conscious adolescent who hated (and I still hate) crowds. Not at all like riding the subway in Kiev!

9:33 AM  
Lammy said...

Went to Pisa, Rome, Florence, Venice and the Cinque Terras! {This is a MUST DO!!!!} We enjoyed ALL of them as they each have their own enchantment. We travelled with our 5 children and spent a few days frollicking in the Med...
TOTALLY rocked.
If you go to venice, be sure to take a water taxi over to Murano... beautiful glass blowing demonstrations... and fun blown glass to buy.
I'd be sure to carry water with you, as it is expensive...
Awesome trip!

5:11 PM  
Emma said...

I was in Italy in April '05- it was great. I too like to stay in one place (I hate packing and moving frequently on trips), but I have a few suggestions:

1) Stay in Florence- you can't beat the museums, art, history, etc. plus the train system is very managable so you can see Venice, Rome, Milan, and other cities/places on day trips

2) take a cruise around Italy (we took one from Barcelona to Rome with 6 stops along the way- 3 in Italy- it was a small boat w/only 150 on it). I know there is at least one line that goes around Italy stopping at all of the major port (or near port- Florence was about an hour or so from the port we stopped at) cities on both 'sides' of the country. Then you can unpack once, and see a lot of the country- you will want to plan your days ahead though with only a day (timed by the boat) in each place you may need to make sure you have tickets, etc. in advance to museums or popular attractions.

Good luck!

12:30 PM  

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