bunrab: (bunearsword)
Reading: Liquid Jade (about tea); Beyond Red and Blue (about politics); Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (interminably long fantasy, which I am about 1/3 of the way through after 2 weeks of hacking away at the underbrush.)

Music: Went to BSO concert last Friday, going to another one this Friday - that would be today! - last one of this season. Baltimore Symphonic Band played at Charlestown Retirement, here in Catonsville, on Tuesday. Bel Air Community Band will be playing at Shamrock Park in Bel Air on Sunday evening at 7. Next Montgomery Village concert is June 28.

Knitting:


Started June 1, finished June 12! No pattern, just two rectangles, with a V-neck worked into one of them. It's knitted, not crocheted. Has baby cables in it. Craft cotton in the big cheap skeins, one skein.

And before that, there was this one, in May, same deal except I hadn't figured out as much about the shaping yet:



That, and cleaning bunny litter boxes, and cleaning up the old house, packing a bit more at a time each day - almost completely empty now, and it's already being shown!
bunrab: (soprano_sax)
It has been a musicky couple of weeks. Friday a week ago, we went to a BSO concert. Piano soloist for the Prokofiev was spectacular; it must have been exhausting for the concertmaster just sitting next to her. She did two encores, each one faster: first an arrangement of Rondo a la Turk that sounded like something that Horowitz might have done, and then Flight of the Bumblebee, faster than I have ever heard it on any instrument whatsoever. The second half was Symphony Fantastique, and it was great - the tubas nailed their solo, and they got to stand up and take a bow for it, and the entire thing was just wonderful.

Tuesday night, we got to watch the BSO rehearsing for the upcoming concert - it was the first rehearsal where all the choruses and the orchestra were together, for rehearsing Carmina Burana. It was fascinating watching Alsop's rehearsal technique - and also impressive to see the professionalism of the orchestra; any community band musician will recognize what I mean when I say that when she stops, they stop - if she stops on the first note of an eight-note triplet, NOBODY plays the second note. And nobody starts talking immediately, either. Wish we could get even 1/100th of that into our community groups.

And Friday we attended the performance of Carmina. The first piece was actually a piece of Samuel Barber's Medea, and Alsop gave a short lecture on the plot and had the orchestra play a couple of measures of the meaningful themes. THat is one scary piece - which goes with the plot, yes - if you don't know it, look it up (small hint: she eats her children.) The Carmina went off beautifully. The baritone was slightly more restrained than in rehearsal - he had to be; he had several people cracking up a bit during rehearsal with his gestures to accompany "Ego sum abbas;" there still were gestures that were nicely expressive of the segment, though. He will be worth watching - anyone who can be that expressive and who clearly is having that much fun doing it, while singing well, can probably get work anywhere. The program notes translated "wafna" as "woe." The tenor was an excellent roasted swan. And the soprano wore a red dress that rustled, to go with the lyrics in one of her verses. Alsop also had a Q&A session after the concert - I enjoy those; we've stayed for them several times in the past. Turned out there were people from the Cincinnati Opera in the audience, among other things.

Saturday morning we had a dress rehearsal in Bel Air. I do not rehearse well at 10 a.m. And Sunday afternoon was the concert - it went off reasonably well, though not perfect. The audience liked it. Well, it's hard to go wrong with "Four Scottish Dances" with that drunken bassoon solo, and then the music from the 3rd "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.

Monday night, Bel Air starts rehearsing for Maryland Community Band Day, and Wednesday night down in Montgomery Village, we have our last Band Day committee meeting, before rehearsal; my part is pretty much finished, except for playing bari sax in three of the eight bands that will be performing! Between those three bands and my committee/volunteer t-shirt, I will have five clothing changes that day...

Oh yeah, we settled on the house, it's ours; the painters and electricians are doing their thing and should be finished by the end of next week, and the windows should be here by then, so we can probably move in right after band day. We haven't started packing yet.
bunrab: (Default)
Since we are staying at Jerry & Kathy's rather than out in Oak Hill, we can use Jerry's computer when he's not using it - thank you!! So I have access to a regular desktop on occasion instead of teeny laptop. Not that I have that much to say, but hey.

Anyway. So far so good on estate sale. I haven't been much help - I think I've been asleep more than I've been awake the last few days, and by the end of the day we haven't felt up to going out and eating dinner with friends, so if you (any-you) are wondering why we haven't called you, that's why. Today is the last day of the estate sale, and [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet is out there now, helping do things like load people's purchases onto their pickup trucks. A lot of the furniture got sold yesterday - doesn't look like there will be too much large stuff left that we will have to have hauled off.

Brief bit of book: I have added a review of The Surgeons at Amazon.com - that's The Surgeons: Life and Death in a Top Heart Center by Charles R. Morris. It's essentially the same review I already did on my other blog, but now it's on amazon and it needs your little clickies on the "yes" button.

Reading while I'm down here in Texas: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews - already has 81 reviews on amazon so it doesn't need me there. It's a new fantasy series, a few novel ideas in it and occasional touches of humor. If Harry Dresden were female and lived in Atlanta, this might be how he turned out. In fact, there's a character in the book who reminds me a bit of a cross between Harry and his friend Michael. The main supernatural series are shapeshifters and -not vampires, but people who control vampires; the vampires themselves are pretty much dumb bodies that get manipulated by necromancers of sorts - remote control bloodsuckers. It's not superb fiction, but good enough that I'll go ahead and read the next one in the series, which I think just came out.

Bleeble

Apr. 3rd, 2008 06:14 pm
bunrab: (Sniffy)
Siiiigh - the sellers of the house we're trying to buy are being real jerks; they didn't get the water turned back on in time for the official home inspection by an engineer, so we had to reschedule that, then the day before the rescheduled inspection, they got the water turned on - and discovered that the pipes had not been properly drained before shutoff, so there is water/ice damage to the pipes, which has to be repaired. So the repairs are supposed to be today and tomorrow, but when we drove by there today, there were no signs of anyone, plumbers or otherwise - AND, the selling real estate agent had refilled the box with new brochures!! Excuse me, we've got a signed contract, a title company lined up, our loan lined up, and a supposed closing/settlement date already scheduled, and you're putting out more brochures??? I am getting sorely tempted to tell them that their failure to enable the required inspection invalidates the contract, so give us our earnest money back and we'll go play ball elsewhere.

No, we haven't done much else that's very interesting over the last week, which is why the first post of the month isn't till the third. We fed Cindythelibrarian's cats for a couple of days while she was at the PLA conference in Minnesota. We had the usual round of rehearsals. Our new passports arrived in the mail, and my, we're ugly. That's about it.
bunrab: (Default)
Thursday: we got our passport photos, filled out applications, and sent them off with our expired-but-not-more-than-15-years-old passports in order to get new passports for the Baltimore Symphonic Band's trip to eastern Europe this summer. We got the passport photos at Walgreens, which is 2 blocks away, and I used my new travel scooter to get there, as an experiment (S walked; I can't walk that far). Well, it opened my eyes to just how much sidewalk STILL doesn't have curb cuts. A lot of backing up was done; our route wound up involving having to cross to the other side of Ingleside, then still needing S to pull the scooter up a curb, then crossing Rt 40 from that side of Ingleside and crossing Ingleside back to the other side to get to Walgreen's - which did have a nice friendly ramp into their parking lot from the sidewalk. The travel scooter does inclines quite adequately. That red recreational scooter I had gotten last year can go much faster, but can't climb inclines worth a damn - quite a difference in torque.

Friday: we and Cindythelibrarian went to the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Plusses: it's all on one level, no stairs. Lots of variety. Lots of real stuff. Free parking. Minuses: inadequate or nonexistent signage on several things. Apparently one staff person on duty for the whole museum. But apparently they are working on upgrades - there were people in the replica diner (which did not, alas, serve any real food) with blueprints and stuff spread out on the table, and they are apparently going to use more space for some exhibits, and whole new areas, and stuff.

The exhibit on WW2 War Bond posters was interesting - it goes away soonly - conveyed as much about the roles of the sexes in the 40's as it did about the war effort. The cannery is probably the single largest and most interactive area - but the clothing factory (read: sweatshop) fascinated me. Stuff we didn't know before: at one time, the largest umbrella maker in the country was in Baltimore. And the power drill was invented here.

Overall, worth the $10. They close at 4 pm every day, rather earlyish, so don't put it off till too long after lunch.

Today: the sun was shining and it was over 50 degrees. We rode. We ate lunch with the old farts Mature Mensans, then rode some more, including going by the house we're offering on (haggling on the details of which is still ongoing; our offer has not yet been officially accepted, as they are quibbling on ridiculous details) and checking to see if the width of the dead end street is wide enough for easy U-turns. It would be if it weren't so crowned; the steep crown makes doing the U-turn weird, as one is going uphill and then downhill at the same time as making the U-turn. Will need practice.

Time to start thinking about supper.

ET fix the link
bunrab: (alien reading)
Bedlam, Bath and Beyond by J.D. Warren - reviewed on Amazon.com here. Not nearly as silly as the title might lead you to believe. More urban fantasy than romance.
Cravings - anthology of 4 novellas in the supernatural romance vein, a couple years old but somehow I missed it when it came out. The Laurell Hamilton is an Anita Blake of the worst sort - gee, should I have sex with Nthaniel? Maybe with Micah and Nathaniel at the same time? Oh, and Damien too? And fantasize about Richard while it's going on? Ick. Completely lacking in any semblence of a plot, and for that matter, completely lacking in any romance. The MaryJanice Davidson story is good - it's a peripheral addition to the Betsy the Vampire Queen series, taking place in between Undead and Unwed and Undead and Unemployed. Now that we have later books in the series, it's sort of eerie to briefly meet Marjorie the Librarian. We also get a peek at the Fiends while they're still living with Sinclair and Betsy:
" 'They're like puppies... they roll in everything.'
'Sure,' Andrea said, humoring the woman. Puppies. Undeniably evil puppies with foul dispositions and the appetites of rabid, starving tigers. All righty. "

Eileen Wilks' "Originally Human" had its amusing moments, and our witch heroine seems like an interesting character. It's always nice to run into an author who can think of an FBI agent being a member of a coven, and a lawyer-sorcerer who is only incidentally a werewolf. The Rebecca York story, "Burning Moon," was different - very much a murder mystery first, supernatural romance second. Werewolf hero, blind psychic heroine. I've already gone ahead and purchased one of the novels in the series that this story is part of - stay tuned.

And a couple Regency romances and knitting books - no surprises there.

We are, incidentally, back home in Balto. Still tons of mail and stuff to catch up on. Trying to see where all my lists are at. Have only read the last couple of days worth of my flist posts, because trying to catch up on a few weeks would be impossible - I'd fall further behind faster. [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet made it down to Arlington for the last two days of the Army Band Tuba-Euphonium Conference - and came home Saturday night with a new tuba. Our house is a bit small to have two tubas on the living room floor along with several saxophones... it's a very nice tuba; perhaps he will even write his very own post about it.

Our approximate schedule: home in Balto. for all of February; back to Austin for the first week in March, then Balto. for the rest of March and the first two weeks of April; Austin for the last two weeks of April, back to Balto. by April 30 or earlier. Possibly one more trip to Austin after that. The estate sale will be the third or fourth weekend in April; after that, W's house will get listed and sold, and that may require us to be in Austin for the closing. Don't know yet. Anyway, so for February I will attempt to keep current on everything. Ha!

Oh - CRS, The Deep arrived! Thank you, thank you! Googly-eyed glass squid!

Now to go pay some bills.
bunrab: (crochet)
in other news, we're making another offer on another house... high end of our price range, but very, VERY good condition, excellent location, has pretty much everything we need, although a bit small. Has a carport. Has a covered terrace as well as a deck. Has an above-ground swimming pool, which we don't need. The family was home while we looked at it, and we spoke directly to them - usually a real-estate no-no, but in this case, we felt like before making an offer, we might just as well discuss what the disadvantages of our contingency would be, and ask whether there was even a faint chance they could live with that - why do all the paperwork if they said no?

Thursday I drove up to my sister Steph's house, just north of Philadelphia. It's about a 2-hour drive from here, not counting stopping for gas and other liquid issues. Tolls are $9 each way. Mitigating the toll cost is the fact that the car got nearly 30 mpg on the highway, instead of the 24 it had more usually been getting lately. I didn't take the bike - a small street bike with no windshield or faring, not ideally equipped for travelling on the interstate at 70-80 mph to begin with, and especially not on roads I had never been on before, so I had no foreknowledge of their state of repair or disrepair, ongoing construction, or other material road quality issues.

Anyway, I carried some yarn and needles up there, to expand my niece Hanna and nephew Ian's knitting repertoire. Even Julie, who is almost 5, was somewhat interested. (Brenna is 2, and must be diligently kept AWAY from other people's yarn and needles...) Ian is actually more into weaving than knitting now, and as it happens I do that also (I own a couple of rigid heddle looms, and two tabletop 4-harness looms, one of them an antique) so next time I go up there, I may bring along some of my weaving. I was able to help him out with a couple of questions about warp thread. Meanwhile, for Hanna, I went over the basics of pattern reading, refresher course on doing the purl stitch, and then how to do ribbing. We did some initial discussions of calculating changes in gauge and how to determine how much to cast on for making hats without a pattern. She picks stuff up fairly quickly. Steph is expecting another in December; if we have a house before Thanksgiving, I'd tentatively like to do Thanksgiving at our place, so she doesn't have to do all that work. We'll see. With so many people now in this area, family holidays could get crowded! My folks have had a nibble at their house in Maine, so they may well be down here in Delaware by winter, if the nibble turns into a bite.

Newest niece, Anika, born to my brother J and his wife B, in Oakland, CA. Cute, from the pictures. Have crocheted hat finished, must go finish more stuff. (That's niece/nephew number 34, for those who are counting!)
bunrab: (bunnies)
OK, so the people with the duplex in Pikesville accepted another offer, notified us yesterday that we didn't get it. This afternoon we went looking at more houses. And put an offer in on the 4th one we looked at, which is in Windsor Mill, described thusly: "Not your avg cape cod-much larger-over 2800sf incl bsmt! Nicely maint w/huge,updtd eat in kit,formal dr,lr w/frpl & bay wdw,wood flrs,updtd bths on each flr,fresh paint, fin. Bsmt w/wet bar,flush,lg storage area,12x15 deck off kit,2 sheds-one under hse,roof&gutters-new 2003,beautiful fenced,private yard,4 wdw a/c units,6 ceiling fans,(whole hse fan-works-as is),small quiet street! " Please keep your fingers crossed, or whatever form of superstition you prefer, that we get this offer accepted. We are SO tired of looking for a house!

We did of course look at others. One we didn't bother going into - we got there and (a) there was no place to park except down the side street a block, and (b) we could see the missing shingles and the holes in the roof from the street. Another one was being used as an assisted living home; it was big, but oddly laid out and oddly added onto, with doors knocked into walls that didn't have them before and other doors blocked up with drywall on one side, and some doors hanging loose from their hinges. And an awfully tiny bathroom, for something that was being used to house 5 people plus 2 nursing assistants and an office paper shuffler! The front hall closet was filled with packages of Depends, which is a little offputting...

Anyway, we offered $10K MORE than the asking price on the one in Windsor Mill. It's in a way convenient location, near Liberty Road and Rolling Road. (It's actually less than a mile from that very first one we looked at, which turned out to have the massive mold problem.)

Then we came home and cleaned cages. Put together a new cage for Fred Bun; moved the chinchillas into his old cage; took the chinchillas' old cage out to the front porch to soak in bleach. Much easier to clean up without that cage there; Fred's new cage is much more maneuverable. So we got the floor really thoroughly vacuumed for the first time in a month. The chinnies like Fred's space. Fred is upset, not because of his new cage, but because while I was changing things around, I grabbed and brushed him. I brushed out a whole 'nother bunny, and he still looks like a sheepdog with big clumps of fur sticking out.

And now my cup of Citron Oolong tea is steeped; time to ice it and then savor it. Cage cleaning is hot sweaty work!!
bunrab: (bike)
So, we had a home inspection done on the house we've offered for, and the inspector found that the basement is loaded with mold. There are also lesser, but still in need of repair, problems with several parts of the electrical system, the drains, and the back yard - letting water into the basement, frost damage to the outside stairwell to the basement, etc. But the mold is the serious part. To remove it requires removing the wall panelling and the ceiling tiles, and a bit of the floor; one floor joist needs replacement. We don't know if it's toxic mold or not- it's been sent off for tests, but they won't be ready for 7-12 days. So we invoked the home inspection addendum to the contract, and asked for a $12,000 allowance for repairs. The seller could cancel the contract instead of agreeing to that, but there are risks for her in cancelling our contract - if she puts the house back on the market, she can no longer claim, as she had been before, that she has no knowledge of any problems. One option on disclosure statements is to just say "I don't know anything about anything" and allow the buyer to decide on the risks of that, and that's what she had done. But now, if she were to put it back on the market with that same disclaimer, and then a buyer found out that she had been informed of the mold, she and her real estate agent would be subject to quite the lawsuit. So chances are, at this point, that she wouldn't be able to get full price she's been asking if she waits for other offers. Now that the mold's been disclosed, ours may be the best offer she'll get. We'll see.

We can deal with it - it would require doing the mold remediation before we move in, not a problem, and then installing better ventilation and a dehumidifier down there as well as replacing the panelling and ceiling. And while we're down there we'd improve the sump pump for the basement bathroom and laundry.

I did indeed go around on the bike and find that Indian restaurant I mentioned in my previous post. We ate lunch there today. Not bad at all. Yesterday we had lunch in a Chinese place that was pretty good (I had complained about the quality of the Chinese restaurants we had tried so far a few posts back) and had reasonable prices to boot. One reason is that their lunch specials don't come with soup-and-eggroll-and-wonton-and-fried-rice, just with steamed rice, period. Which is fine. Especially since it apparently keeps prices down.

We ate supper last night at a Mexican place. Um, not gonna get a lot of repeat business from us. They have a limited selection of enchiladas, and the only choices for sauces on them are Ranchero and what they call "enchilada sauce" which is a gloppy brown stuff. No tomatillo/green sauce. And only refried pintos - no black beans, charro beans, borracho beans, or any other tasty options. And high prices - $9.50 for a plate of spinach enchiladas with refried and rice, nothing special, and ranchero sauce tastes really awful on spinach enchiladas.

We'll eat at home tonight, after I get back from knitting.
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
We have received an offer on the house in Austin. Only just viable - it's the absolute minimum we could possibly stand - but it's viable, and she's offering a really early settlement date - July 29. We'd net a tiny bit less than the house we've offered on here, so we'll have to draw some of S's deferred comp funds to cover the difference. But it means that we can move right along. Wooooo!!

Here's the house we've offered on here:
http://homes.longandfoster.com/Buy_Home/Search/Property_Details.aspx?coId=2&mlsNum=BC5208233

There are 11 pizza places within a nearby distance!! Public transportation. Almost as easy access to the interstate as our old house. Easy to find - those of you coming to visit will be able to find us EASILY.

The disadvantages of this house: the living room is pretty small. The carpeting is ugleeeeee. It's not as large as our ideal. There's no garage. The back yard is too big and will need lots of mowing.

The advantages: the finished basement is about 800 square feet, a great secondary living room if a bit informal. There's both covered and uncovered patio space out back. There's a covered front porch. It will be quite easy to build a carport over the driveway. There's already a storage shed out back. The attic is finished into a large open space with its own bathroom, which will serve as both guest bedroom and extra book space. It has central air conditioning, which is not as common here as you might think.

OK. We can stop and breathe for a few minutes. Of course, this means we won't ever get as far unpacked as the armchair in this apartment... I will have to keep doing my knitting and crocheting in a dining chair. Oh well.

In other news - there is no other news. I am going to go read some science fiction; my dad is having some surgery in a couple of weeks and will have to stay flat on his back in bed for several days, so I have promised to send him a chunk of SF books. Gotta get moving on that. Got a chunk of mystery and romance books for Cindy for her new library branch - to make it cost effective to mail them back to Austin, even with Media Mail rates, gotta have more though - at least 20. So, less crochet, more read. I can do that.

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