We moved back to Wisconsin one year ago today. We knew it would be a big change, but couldn’t have predicted just how much would change in such a short amount of time! We made the move from Chicago to Madison hoping for jobs that left us less drained and a home to call our own. I gotta say, we kinda nailed it.

As of April, we are home owners! We bought a cute little factory home built in the 1940s for meatpacking workers of the Oscar Meyer plant on the northeast side of Madison. A few people have told us Madison isn’t big enough to have a “northeast,” but we’re calling it a northeast neighborhood since eastsiders claim we’re on their side of town and northsiders claim us too. Rather than choose sides, we resolved to name Dexter’s and the Tip Top Tavern as our twin neighborhood hangouts and remain unaffiliated.

So, the house. It’s a two bedroom, one (tiny) bath bungalow with tons of potential. It’s perfect for us right now and the pups are loving it! Here are some before pictures. Don’t worry, we painted damn near every wall in the house in two 14 hour marathon painting sessions. Shout out to the dads, who have been indispensable in the “how do I do this?” phase of homeownership: Rob, Greg, and Ron. And especially to our friends extraordinaire: Jenni, Lizzi, Michael, Adam, Sarah, Dayna, Scott, Kyle and Kristine who helped us paint and move for hopefully the last time in a while. We figured out that we’ve moved nearly every year of our relationship, and people still return our phone calls when we ask for help. That’s a sign of some good people.

Homeownership sure is an adventure. So far we have:

  • Painted nearly every room in the house.

  • Changed out several light fixtures, realized they weren’t even, removed said light fixtures, patched the resulting holes, repainted, reinstalled said light fixtures.

  • Removed a planter with Ole’ Bluey (our family crowbar) and pure muscle.

  • Installed a new smart thermostat.

  • Doubled the size of our closet by installing pipe bars.

  • Broke the AC, blew several fuses, lived without AC for a week and was advised that a certain wire was not, in fact, optional to the functioning of that new smart thermostat.

Mark has been a trooper through all the home improvements. We’ve been working on floor-to-ceiling pipe shelving for the last six weeks and it is slow going—turns out home remodeling and full-time jobs don’t leave as much time for enjoying summer weather as we would like sometimes. Last night while he was trying to finish mounting the frame we’ve been painting for weeks, a pipe with a broad floor flange slipped and bashed him in the head, sending him to the emergency room to get four stitches. As his text message said to me, “working on the shelves is now a team sport.”

Cleaning Mark’s head blood from the shower curtain has not slowed our renovation ambitions. This summer, we’re planning on putting up Death Shelves (The Shelves That Wound), building a deck (probably a quick half-day banger) and re-doing our kitchen (maybe a one day project tops). We’d also like to install some light fixtures in the rooms that for whatever reason do not have ceiling lights (how dangerous could electricity be, really?). Unrelated, if you’re an electrician or know one who will work for beer, please reply.

Homeownership has taught me that whether it’s working on yourself, your relationship or your home — it all takes time. I’m not the most patient person in the world and it drives me nuts sometimes when I think about all the work that we want to do that isn’t getting done fast enough (Mark’s note: I have literally bled to try to speed up the process). But honestly, we have the potential of forever in this house. We have the time to put in the work. Forever tends to be a flexible concept for us, but in the meantime, we’re digging in and slowly making this place thoroughly our own.

Let’s close this out with some verbs:

READ: I recently joined a book club and I have to say, I really missed reading. We just finished The Radium Girls which is a devastating story about women who worked in illuminated watch dial factories and used radium to make the dials glow in the dark. I won’t give it away but you can probably guess: big companies ruined some lives here. They didn’t take responsibility for the fact that the womens’ jaw bones were literally falling out of their mouths in chunks and their bodies were withering away to nothing. Look for a radio piece coming out about this from Mark’s show, To The Best Of Our Knowledge. He and host Anne went to Ottawa, IL to interview relatives and see the site where one of the radium plants stood (fun fact: they’re putting an ice cream factory on that site now! Also, read where your ice cream comes from) and talk about the lasting effects it has had on the town today.

RIDE: Mark and I recently got new bikes! Mine is a Bianchi cruiser and his is a Specialized road bike built for Serious Bike People. So in the spirit of being active and stuff, who wants to ride bikes? I refuse to ride long distances on road, so path-based riding preferably ending at a brewery is ideal. Hit us up!

LISTEN: Mark is trying to produce shows on movie theaters and beer this summer (he’s a man of limited interests), so be sure to subscribe to TTBOOK on iTunes or some other podcast thing if ya nasty.

HCTAW: Twin Peaks: The Return is absolutely blowing our minds. The original series was always a campy delight, but we hadn’t considered that it was because, in 1991, it was commenting on the fact that all television was crappy evening soap operas. This time around, we’re seeing Twin Peaks weirdness fused with Lynchian nightmare images and soundscapes drawing a satirical barb at prestige television like Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Dale Cooper/Dougie Jones is a twisted Don Draper tale designed to make TV recappers slowly lose their minds and it is absolutely fascinating. Catch up and join our Sunday night watch party that we might feed on their garmonbozia.

DRINK: Have you noticed 3 Sheeps is KILLING it right now and they are everywhere! Their rebrand (fancy bumpy labels) and improved distribution (you can actually find it everywhere) has made them a massive presence in the Wisconsin beer scene. A few of our faves from Madison Craft Beer Week (and beyond) have been Nitraberry (a smooth fruity nitro beer IN A BOTTLE), Rebel Kent (a really solid amber ale), and First Kiss (a honey IPA which is my new favorite summer beer). I mean, besides Rosa, because nothing beats Rosa.

That’s all for now. Hope to write another update soon, ideally from a brand new deck. (Mark’s note: no pressure haha cries).

With Love and Beers,

Laurie and Mark (and Mac and Bacon)