bunrab: (me)
Just whining. I have made inroads into the pile of boxes from the storage unit, but not very much, and very slowly. And part of it is, the totally irrational thought that I don't want to get rid of too much, or change too much, because what if he comes back - will he be able to find me? Will he recognize me?

It's the most irrational, pointless thought and yet I suspect that there isn't a widow or widower around who doesn't have it sometimes - who doesn't have that as one of the subconscious reasons they haven't given away the last of their spouse's clothing or stopped wearing the perfume or aftershave brand their spouse liked or changed their hairstyle -  or, in some cases, quite gotten around to selling the house or getting rid of the non-working car or throwing away anything.

I'm not quite that much in thrall to the irrational but I do have moments. I mean, I know it's a good thing I sold the house. Especially after getting a phone call from my former next door neighbor, telling me that the people who bought the house apparently didn't winterize something properly, and both the bathroom pipes AND the fuel line from the underground oil tank to the furnace burst, and they've had to move in with relatives while the entire floor of the house gets ripped up and the backyard gets dug up. I don't know whether I want to drive by in horrified fascination or not. I know Steve would never have let something like happen, and I was afraid I would, because I was not as conscientious or knowledgeable as Steve and I was never sure I was tending to everything that needed to be done, but I don't think I would have let water freeze in the lines. But I hate that the house will be changed that much, and that it won't be the house Steve and I shared anymore; I want stuff to STOP CHANGING quite so much or so fast, even when it's stuff I've already moved past - because part of my mind is still there, I'm not really completely past it. Because, what if Steve could see it? How upset would he be, how much would he hate it!!

And for that matter, would he be upset with some of the other changes I've made and things I've done - or would he be even more upset that I didn't do those things with him, while he was alive? I know I'm upset that I was so lazy, that I didn't do some of this with and for him. I should have taken better care of him!!

No, you don't all have to offer reassurances. I loved him well, and he loved me well as I was - and if I maybe was too lazy to do everything to the best of my abilities, well, he was enabling that - he was being lazy too, and he didn't want to cope with a couple seconds of  grumpiness I have in the morning so he just didn't wake me up. He could have tried a little harder; I wasn't the only one who was lazy and took things for granted..Oh, I want to go back and shake both of us!!

And part of this whine is just because Larry's sick and there's not a damn thing I can do about that either, and that's frustrating. So it brings up older frustrations. Don't mind me, I'll talk myself back out of this mood in a bit. Maybe cookies will help.
bunrab: (Default)
A quick summary, for those of you who haven't seen daily Facebook posts and the photos I've uploaded there:
When last seen, I was getting the kitchen in the house in Catonsville touched up, repaired, minorly remodeled, in order to contemplate selling it. It got sold!
Selling the house, buying a condo )
The condo I bought wasn't perfect, but it met my essential requirements: first floor, large enough for me to have a guest room and with room for the critters, pets permitted, safe neighborhood. What I got was a 3-bedroom unit, built in 1982, so not too old by condo standards, though not new. It's in the Long Reach area of Columbia. And this coming Sunday, a Wegman's opens up in Columbia which will then be my nearest supermarket - how cool is that?

More than most people want to know about the condo kitchen )
I am not finished unpacking yet, though I've been here a month and a half. There's still a lot I need to get rid of; cutting down from a house to a condo, even a large condo requires getting rid of a LOT of stuff.  And I had been trying to do a bit too much, so the universe sent me a reminder last week to take it easy, in the form of a v-tach episode that triggered my defibrillator. One emergency room visit later, I have some pretty firm instructions from more people to take it easy, watch how much driving I do (I was forbidden to drive for a week), changed programming in the implanted device, changed dosages of my beta-blocker, which itself is making me tired, and pretty much nothing at all accomplished in the past 10 days.

So of course it struck me as time to whine on LiveJournal!!

And how are all of you?

I will try to post next week: my goodbye pics of the house, some pics of the condo, some pics of the pets, and lots more trivia. Maybe I'll even have time to read a book and mention it!

Could someone please let me know whether the cuts are working?
bunrab: (Default)
After not visiting LJ in 9 months, I was checking my email and realized I had to come here to delete all kinds of crap comments. So I thought while I was here I'd say hi. I still don't have time to blog regularly, and I still haven't managed to read recent posts of everybody else's. Somehow, managing my day to day life seems to take up all my time. I have been reminded a lot of how very spoiled I was, to have the easy life I had while Steve was alive, to have so much free time to do whatever I wanted. Most people don't have that even if they do have a partner, do they? Usually both partners are still working, and if retired don't have the retirement income Steve did, so that there's still not the combination of time-and-money to do all the frivolous things we did. Or to get computers repaired or replaced as often as we did. I really was very spoiled.

Right now, I am using a borrowed computer, because mine got fried - pretty much literally; I came home to the smell of burning electronics one night after rehearsal a couple of weeks ago. It was the computer, and there's no telling why - everything else plugged into the same surge protector was fine and turned right back on when I reset it. So I've mailed the computer back to HP, and I have ordered a new one, and went ahead and bought the service plan for two years, too, because I seem to be the sort of person who needs a service plan, now that I don't have my live-in geek. I keep thinking that somehow, if Steve had been here, he would have done something differently and the computer wouldn't have fried itself, somehow. He had much better computer juju than I do; things just didn't go wrong as often, and he seemed to do all the right things to keep them running correctly all the time. Anyway, my new one should arrive soon.

Besides that, I am getting the house ready to sell, an incredibly stressful process. I made the decision right after New years to do this, sort of a New Year's resolution. I love the house, but I can't keep managing 2000 square feet of house on a third of an acre of land by myself. I know there are people who can, but I am not one of them. I've given it a fair shot, I think, for a year and a half since Steve died - this doesn't count as giving up without trying, or as making a decision in a hurry. It seems to me that in the normal course of things, it takes a family to manage a single-family residence: at least two healthy people, to manage all the cleaning and the maintenance and the outside chores and the repairs; even just to manage to have someone home for repair people is easier if there's two people to choose from. And I'm not even one healthy adult. And I don't enjoy trying to remember everything that has to be done. Steve enjoyed it - he got a kick out of putting "change the furnace filter" into his PDA for every three months for 6 years ahead, and then having it give him little reminders. He didn't mind talking to 3 or 4 guys who want to clean the gutters, chatting with them and then choosing one. I don't enjoy any of that stuff. So, I want to sell the house, and find a nice condo, about half the size, where not only does someone else do the lawn mowing and snow removal and gutter cleaning and furnace maintenance, but I don't even have to go looking to hire them; it's done automatically as part of the condo agreement. I don't even have to think about it, let alone choose and hire someone to do it. And a smaller condo will be not only cheaper to heat because it's smaller, it will be cheaper per square foot just by virtue of being multi-family housing where other people's shared walls also mean better insulation for me. And most condos are newer and have gas heat, rather than oil. My latest oil bill was $551 for a tankful, and in the winter months, that happens EVERY MONTH. Because this is a huge house, and has old single-pane windows mostly, and still has leaky spots around windows and doors and whatnot, although I have been trying to find and take care of the worst drafts. I could whine for hours about house repairs, and then whine for hours more about what it takes to upgrade this house to the point where it is sellable for at least 60% of what we paid for it - because, of course, we bought it just BEFORE the 2008 economy crash, and property in the Washington DC area, which this counts as, has lost on average about 40% of its value since then. But I'll save that whine for another post.

So, once I get an offer on the house, I'm going to look for a condo in Columbia - about 8 miles from here in Catonsville. I love Catonsville, I love my particular neighborhood, I love my neighbors, but it's not worth continuing to maintain this house and pay taxes on such a large property just because I love my neighbors! Catonsville, being an older town, has pretty much nothing in the way of condos; it doesn't even have much in the way of apartments or townhouses, because it was mostly built out already before those kinds of housing started appearing in suburbs. Columbia, on the other hand, is a planned community started in the 1960's, and a huge percentage of its housing stock is townhouses and multi-family housing of the rental or condo sort. Some of you may remember when we first moved up to MD, we had an apartment whose address was Elkridge; it was actually in a corner of Elkridge abutting Columbia, and all my doctors, and our insurance agent, and our attorney, and stuff like that, have been in Columbia/Elkridge/Ellicott City (another town abutting Columbia and hard to tell where one ends and the other begins) all along anyway. So, Columbia is the logical place to look now. It will put me 10 minutes further from my friend Cindy, but there really isn't anything like what I'm looking for any closer to Cindy, and it will put me 10 minutes closer to the Montgomery Village Community Band, which I'm still playing in.

I'm also still playing in the Baltimore Symphonic Band, where I am the music librarian. I am also playing in the Browningsville Cornet Band, which isn't cornets and is in Damascus, not Browningsville. And recently I played in the pit orchestra for a community theater musical over in Montgomery County, too, and I'm on the list of people they'll call back next time. And speaking of Montgomery County, I am dating a guy who lives in Silver Spring. He's very nice, and very understanding about the fact that I still talk about Steve a lot, and still have hours when I just start crying and can't stop. He is pretty good at patting me on the back and saying soothing things and then reminding me that getting Steve back isn't one of the options and that I have to keep thinking about charting a path forward, because that's the only direction there is. I don't think he's the next great love of my life, nor does he think that I am "the one" but we are enjoying seeing each other and dating exclusively for now, and it's an awfully lucky thing to find someone this agreeable first time out in the dating pool. (Online dating site OK Cupid, if anyone's wondering. And how I got there is a separate story for another day.)

OK, still self-centered as ever, because this is all about me and I haven't gone to read what any of you are doing unless you're on Facebook, too, where the one-paragraph status updates are something that I can almost keep up with on a good day. I know I have a bunch of you as FB friends; if you're on there and want to friend me, my nickname there is bunrab, too, and most of you know my real name to look for me - I've got it listed with my first initial, then the middle name I usually go by, and then last name, if you want to look that way. If you can stand all the whining. Because being a widow still sucks, and I still whine. But nonetheless I would love to hear from some of you whom I've lost touch with.
bunrab: (Default)

Today I was going to have gone to see my niece Hanna in her spring play, but I woke up this morning sneezing like mad, and even if it's allergies rather than the cold I thought at first, it wouldn't be a good idea to drive 130 miles there while either sneezing or under the influence of antihistamines, (The non-drowsy antihistamines do zilch for me.) So I let them know I wasn't coming, fed the critters, and went back to bed. When I woke up again in the afternoon, Gizmo had not finished his food and was not able to move properly. It seemed as though he had had a stroke. He hasn't, and at the emergency vet's, he's doing better - staying overnight and getting IV fluids, antibiotics, etc. But right at first, when I tried to see what was wrong, I was just saying shit, shit, shit over and over again. Because today is also exactly 8 months since the ventilator was disconnected after the organ donation people were finished - technical date of Steve's death. And I was already a bit teary-eyed. But, I had been thinking about writing a post about what I feel like now, and so I think I still will.

Here's the thing. The grief isn't any less - I still wake up every day thinking how unfair it is that I'm still alive and Steve's not. I still find that something brings me to tears every day - including writing this post. But what is, finally, diminishing to a detectable extent is the panic and anxiety that goes with the grief. Although I still wonder, every day, how I'm going to manage without Steve, I also notice, every day, that I have managed to muddle through. When I'm driving, I'm no longer so greatly distracted by thinking that "last time I was on this road. Steve was driving" or "I didn't used to have to drive here; Steve always did it." By now, I've driven most places I go to by myself several times, and I so I feel like I am doing the driving, not waiting for someone else to be in control. I still hate having to do it alone, but I am recognizing that I can manage most things. Maybe not the way Steve did them, maybe not as well, but I am managing. And that lessening of anxiety and panic is, I guess, a "feeling better."

There's still stuff not getting done, but I am managing to remind myself every day that I will get to it, even if it's more slowly, and/or less often, than I should - I will get it done. When I hit obstacles, I will manage them or work around them; I've figured out several work-arounds for things that I can't possibly do myself already, and have ideas percolating on several more. I finally found a charity that would pick up the brown recliner sofa for free - Goodwill around here doesn't do free pickup any more; they contract with College Hunks Hauling Junk, who charge a discount rate but nonetheless charge. I had offered the damn loveseat on Freecycle a couple of times, and while a couple of people expressed interest, they never followed through. And nobody was interested in buying it on Craigslist. But some internet research finally found a web site that will show one who picks up donations for free, in a given ZIP code. (Yes, Salvation Army still does, but I am not in the mood to give things to that brand of religion.)

And, while the vet bills from Gizmo's emergency today means I'll have to put it off for a couple months, I've found a company that will refinish the pink bathtub in white, reglazing it, so I don't have to buy a new one and pay a contractor to remove the old one and install a new one. The reglazing will be quicker, cheaper, and will feel more acceptable, because I really hate the thought of throwing out a perfectly good fixture where the only fault is extreme ugliness. I think with the tub white, and I can get a new white toilet installed (much less expensive to remove and replace than a bathtub), then the rest of the bathroom, including the peculiar sinks, will seem much less awful. So there's a plan for that, even if deferred a bit.

Baltimore County sent Steve a jury duty notice, so I got more copies of the death certificate last week and tomorrow I'll mail them one to explain why Steve will not be answering the notice - I'm sure they wouldn't just take my word for it. I have to get more copies of the "Letters of Administration" also - the estate execution stuff - to finish up some other stuff, and I haven't done that as fast as I should have, but at least I know I have to do it and how, so it's progress, if slow.

So. "Feeling better." No less grief, but less panic, and that does make life a teensy bit easier. I went to a grief support group run by Gilchrist for 6 weekly sessions, and that did help, too, talking to other people - I hadn't thought it would, but it did - certainly did more for my peace of mind than NOT going to one, if anybody else is wondering about whether they're worth it. The people in the group decided we'd keep meeting occasionally for lunch, to continue to talk to each other, so we're having lunch tomorrow at Panera. There are 6 of us, and 3 of the others are also in the 55-65 age range as I am, and the other two not too much older. That was a coincidence - it wasn't planned specifically to be a "young widowed persons" group or any other specific age range, so it could have been all older people my parents' age - the age where, forgive me for saying it like this, one starts *expecting* people to die. Most of the groups that are for "young" people are for up to age 50, and most of the rest tend to be seniors over 65, so it was a bit of serendipity to have a group turn out to be people in the neglected middle-age range. Anyway, as it turns out, it is a great relief to be able to talk to other people who are going through the same thing - even if it's not identical, we have more in common than not, just by the fact of losing a spouse. Some lost theirs to long, drawn-out illnesses, one other person to a sudden event like mine. There are people left worse off organizationally and financially, and people not as badly off, but we all have the struggles with those things - even the people who had a couple of years of their spouse battling cancer find out, apparently, when it's over, there's no way you can have remembered to take care of everything, and there's no predicting what details will pop up out of the woodwork that it never even occurred to you could exist. Everybody turns out to have SOMETHING in their bills, paperwork, or housekeeping that they didn't know had to be taken care of ahead of time.

There was going to be a very depressing paragraph here, about what we also have all learned about illnesses that can't be detected or prevented, about how even early treatment doesn't stave things off forever, but after writing it three times, each time was more depressing, and I decided to leave it out.  Even my attempts to summarize it in a sentence are depressing. Let's just say, we all beat ourselves up about what we might have done to prevent things, or save our spouses, and we all need a long time to realize that the should have/could haves are (a) likely not true, and (b) definitely not useful.

So that's the update. I'm coping. I'm still lonely and sad and heartbroken. I would still like someone to come live in my spare room so I have some help. I'm still alive. It's still unfair - and it's still true that there is no such thing as "fair." If there's a pattern in all that, I haven't figured it out yet.

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.


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: (bunearsword)
Well, the roof is replaced. And the eaves/sofits and the gutters, and a few bits of the siding trim. Energy-efficient white shingles, that will get us an energy tax credit on our next income tax return.

And Fern bunny is fine, after the application of quite a bit of money at the veterinarian.

All of which is to say, we're not going anywhere this summer. No RG in Pittsburgh, sorry M-friends. No Knit and Crochet Show in Buffalo. Nowhere that we can't drive to within a couple of hours and stay at someone's house for free.

We are fixing up the other house for sale, since we haven't had much luck renting it - it goes on the market in a week and a half. A bit of interior paint, repairs to the sidewalk, replace a couple doors, stuff like that. We won't get what we paid for it; we bought it at the peak of the market, and that's not going to come again any time this ten years. But we should clear enough on it, if all goes well, to pay off the mortgage on the current house, replenish savings that were depleted by the new roof, and maybe, just maybe, enough to let us replace the pink bathtub with something we can stand to look at with our glasses on. There's no chance it would be sold and closed on in time to use the money for any of the afore-mentioned summer travel, though.

Anyway, that's what's been happening around here lately. I've gotten in a bit of reading, some crocheting and knitting, and have written some reviews for the Tea Review Blog -check out the blog here:
and a few of my reviews, specifically, here:

And, just so this has a bit more content, a picture of the most recent sweater I finished:

I've already worn this one a couple times and people seem to like the little sunflower, even though [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet says it looks like a large-winged insect has landed on me.
bunrab: (alien reading)
First, stuff:
[livejournal.com profile] fadethecat, did you already know that the Maker Faire will be Oct. 10-12 at the Travis County Expo Center? Now you know. I suspect you will want to attend.

Then, some books:
I Love Knitting - Amazon.com review here though this was short enough to hardly count as reading.
Judge by Karen Traviss - Amazon.com review here - sixth and final in her Wess'har series. It's OK but not great science fiction; those of you in places outside the US and UK, you won't be unduly deprived of any great literature if the series never makes it to your distant shores.
I think I already mentioned Kluge, right? That was fun.
Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell - musings by a public radio commentator on modern American life. Eh. Some were amusing - the essay about what she learned from being in high school marching band, for instance; others, including the title essay, struck me as self-absorbed and shallow.

I have most of the mugs hung up in the kitchen! I have some pictures hung on the walls! I can see more floor space than I could a week ago! I still have a bunch more curtains to make, though, to replace what was here, most of which is definitely not to my taste. I've gotta take some pictures of the living room, now that it looks halfway like it should.

More about travel:
Found a bunch of my receipts and stuff from trip to Europe. The place where we ate the last night in Vienna was Cafe Bierbeisl Einstein, which I found the take-out service card from, which does have its own website: http://www.einstein.at . They have phone-in take-out, though I doubt you can get delivery here. And a souvenir picture of [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet from Postojna Caves - once we get the new scanner/copier/printer plugged in, I'll scan it for your viewing pleasure. And postcards from Schonbrunn Castle. And hotel receipts, and my receipt from the internet cafe in Pula, Croatia, and some scribbled notes that I need to match up to their proper photographs.

Stuff: our old copier died - well, it was over 10 years old and a cheap one to begin with, and had done excellent duty for something so small and cheap (I used to pick it up by its little handle and drag it to quilting classes with me, which made me a very popular attendee). We could have waited for a while to buy something new, as the old scanner still works, sort of, and the old printer still works, though slowly, but this was on way-marked-down, instant-rebate, net price $50 for the whole thing. Even if it turns out to be junk that breaks in a year, that's about the price per year we'd be willing to pay for such a unit. So when that gets plugged in, a whole bunch o' old-fashioned printed photos are gonna get scanned!
bunrab: (alien reading)
After we got back from Europe, I was only home for a couple of days before I turned around and went up to New York to help my friend Sally-the-hoarder throw some stuff out. Just got back this Thursday. Did not have computer with me while I was there, and didn't have much chance to use Sally's computer. We did get some stuff thrown out, but it's a battle - while she knows she's got a problem, she doesn't like to think that any individual thing is a problem, and so every single piece has to be looked at, categorized, and a decision made about it. We couldn't even compromise about putting some stuff in boxes and sticking them in the POD that I rented for her and then deciding about them later, because the stuff in boxes *might* be something she'd need within the next couple months. The fact that many of said things were things she's done without for years because they were buried under other stuff does not in any way alleviate her anxiety that she might need it, that she can think of a possible use for it, and therefore it can't get stored somewhere where she can't get at it instantly, let alone thrown away. So we debate that need to a standstill on every receipt, every tennis ball, every bag of candy purchased in 2004 and long since past its expiration date. Despite all that, we DID make some progress. And I got a chance to talk to a couple of her other friends who live up there, and started enlisting them to help out with one small chunk of STUFF at a time.

Wait, here's a picture, so that this post isn't just whining! This one is me on my travel scooter, on the road leading to the beach in Opatija, Croatia; the bikes behind me are Kawasakis, which seemed to be the most popular motorcycles in town, though still far behind motor scooters in numbers; there are a couple other band members, too - we were on our way to the amphitheatre for our first performance!

Anyway. Reading. Let's see. Re-reading some Terry Pratchett - so far, Guards, Guards!, Men at Arms, and Feet of Clay. Also have progressed through Matriarch and Ally in the second trilogy of Karen Traviss' Shan Frankland series. Now on the final book, Judge - I'll give a more thorough report on that one when I'm done. Also have started the latest Harry Dresden book, Small Favors (Jim Butcher) - I won't give anything away, don't worry. Um, Carolyn Hart's Death Walked In in her Annie Darling series - eh, she's recycling plots lately. There's been other stuff as well - I know a bunch of library books have wandered in and out of here - but I can't remember what.

Wait, I am drifting into boring, must be time for another picture! Here are some bikes and scooters parked under the palm trees along the sidewalks of one of the main streets. I bet you never thought of Eastern Europe and palm trees in the same breath - but Croatia is a seaside country, this is a seaside resort town, and yes, it has lots of palm trees!

We got most of the remainder of the stuff out of the old house yesterday - there's still loose odds and ends in the kitchen that we can carry over in the car, but all the big stuff's out of there, and we can call in the carpet shampooers and the general cleaners and probably have that house ready to rent out for September 1! This house is messier than ever now - but the electrician is coming next Thursday to do the rest of the work on the outlets, and then we can push all the bookcases against the walls and really get to unpacking the books.

This is the Hotel Agava (yes, after the agave plant), which is where we were staying in Opatija.

Anyway, I'm just going to look at my flist starting now, and only go back if (a) I see something drastic that begs for explanation that may be in an earlier post, or (b) you actually put a comment here telling me that there's something I should know or would like to know in your posts of the past month. Sorry I'm being so lazy - but lazy is my middle name, right?

One more pic: This is looking out from the stage into the audience portion of the amphitheater, during our sound check a couple hours before the concert.
bunrab: (Default)
Of All Sad Words by Bill Crider - latest in his Sheriff Dan Rhodes series of murder mysteries. Amusing if lightweight.

City of Pearl and its sequels, Crossing the Line and The World Before by Karen Traviss - science fiction series; there's a second trilogy also out that I'll probably look for. I stumbled across these by accident. They're not bad - strong milfic element, but mainly alien sociology, if you will - humans are NOT the good guys here. (At one point, one of the aliens says, in effect, "I've read some of your science fiction. The aliens always help the humans, or release the human captives, because they admire the spunky human spirit. I've got news for you: you're not spunky; you're obnoxious!") The third volume had a couple weaknesses - a touch of one of the romance genre tropes, where characters don't speak to each other and do all the wrong things simply because they won't ask the other person a forthright "What do you want to do?" I don't like this trope when it shows up in romance, and I like it even less when some of the aliens are supposed to be completely forthright.)

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely - this was fun, confirming all one's worst fears about how illogical we are, how easy it is for people to fall into cheating, how crappy our thinking gets when it involves money, how much more we cheat if a transaction DOESN'T involve money, and how traditional economics is full of crap. ([livejournal.com profile] elfbiter, this is sort of similar to The Failure of Logic except it discusses a series of shorter, but much broader, experiments.)

I'm sure there's been something else in there; darned if I remember what. We're still doing the unpacking-one-house, packing-the-rest-of-the-old-house thing, and we can never find anything when we need it. Camera recharger? who knows. Size 13 knitting needles? No idea. The curtain hooks we bought just yesterday? Disappeared into the morass.
bunrab: (Default)
I haven't looked at LJ in what, 10 days? We've been moving. We are mostly moved now. I just finished sewing the living room curtains (yes, at 1:30 a.m.), and I've finished one crocheted throw rug, and I've got two of the mug racks up on the kitchen walls, and the under-cabinet knife holder and a few of the hooks for various utensils. [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet has most of the stereo put back together, and a good chunk of the vinyl records unpacked and put on their shelves in order. All this, of course, does not mean that the place is not still a complete mess, full of boxes which are full of stuff we haven't clearly identified.

Anyway, I'm going to look at the last few days' worth of entries on my flist, and I'll try to dig deeper if I have time...

Recent reading:
Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living by Doug Fine - very funny, with extremely cute goats. And even a few actual words of wisdom about trying to use less oil, eat locally, and get off the grid.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Manga Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet - really!
Apart from a brief couple of sentences introducing the Montagues and Capulets as rival Yakuza families in Japan, the rest of the words are all Shakespeare's - though there are not all of Shakespeare's words; I miss "hand to hand in holy Palmer's kiss" but most of the puns are there and are made clearer than they would be were the drawings not there. Friar Lawrence is a Shinto monk. Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio dress sort of steampunk to go to the party at the Capulets' domain. Juliet wears some ridiculous clothing, but when she goes alone to Friar Lawrence, she is on her motor-scooter in a full-face helmet and really cool boots. Two things struck me that I hadn't thought about so much before - (1) Paris really is a nerd, and (2) one of the reasons that Juliet's father may have been trying to marry her off so quickly is that she really was a bit of a wild child and he suspected she might already be pregnant. This may be a theory that has already come and gone amongst the Shakespearati, but it's the first time it ever occurred to me.

We got back from TX Tuesday night; Wednesday we spent with our contractor going through the house we're buying, getting estimates on repairs and replacements. Thursday we had to take Gizmo bun to the vet - ear mites :( Friday, um, what did we do Friday? Make about ten thousand phone calls connected with various housey things - locksmith to change all the locks on the house right after we close/settle (which term you use depends on what part of the country you're in) - which will be 11 a.m. Monday. Let's see, somewhere in there we ordered a few pieces of furniture, which will be delivered at various times. The painters will start either Tuesday or Wednesday and should only take a day or at most a day and a half.

The catch to us actually moving is this: the sellers have not yet removed the furniture! What's even sillier, they have had to ask us for a week's extension after closing to find someone to haul it off - and we made them put up a $200 escrow so that if they don't haul their stuff off after that week, we can pay someone to carry it away. The old lady who had owned the house for the whole 50 years since it was built passed away last year - her heirs have had over 5 months to remove the furniture. Sheeeesh.

Anyway. That's what I've been busy doing, and why I'm not caught up on reading my flist, and haven't posted.


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)
New House: We finally got the contract negotiated, so we are buying the house with the garage! Settlement (closing) should be the last week in April. Whee!

Old House: Finished with the bathroom remodel! The contractors did it in less than a week! The bathroom no longer has dark brown indoor-outdoor carpeting, grey-and-white plastic wall tile, a mustard yellow tub enclosure, blue swan-shaped nonskid stickies on the tub floor, and pink ceramic towel bars. It now has white tile floor, new tub, white tile around the tub with an accent row of narrow tiles in a brown and tan design, which matches the brown and tan wallpaper. New low-flow toilet that works properly, new sink which is a pedestal sink rather than a vanity, so that one doesn't walk into the corner of the vanity cabinet every time one walks into the room, plus there's room on the floor for the scale. It's never going to be a luxury bathroom, not at 5 feet by 8 feet, but it's now reasonably attractive and efficient.

Music: Went to hear the Austin Lounge Lizards at Wolf Trap last Thursday. They're still good, still funny.

Rebecca York's werewolf series:
Killing Moon
Edge of the Moon
Witching Moon
Crimson Moon

A certain sameness to all of them - acceptable mystery plots, but the villains are pretty much all the same sort of serial sex pervert murderer who is trying to use kidnapped or controlled women to build up magical powers, and our werewolf hero who has trouble coming to terms with his werewolfness, plus the woman scientist-of-some-sort (medical researcher, botanist, etc.) who is in love with him, must defeat said villain, during the which it is revealed to the woman that the man she loves is a werewolf. They're not all identical, but similar. Edge of the Moon actually involves two non-werewolf peripheral characters from the first book.
Also on a Marion Nestle binge - she's the nutritionist/economist from whom Michael Pollan gets a lot of his stuff. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition, and Health is mostly a rant about how industrial agriculture and its lobbyists diluted the Food Pyramid to the point of uselessness - a good rant, but a rant. There are also bits about food terrorism and food fearmongering in there; I had a bunch of notes scribbled down of things to mention, but now I can't find the notes. What to Eat is interesting, but waaaay too long. The average grocery shopper is not going to wade through all of that, even though it's got some very useful information - for example, for people who complain that they don't buy fresh produce because it's too expensive, Nestle shows how you can eat seven servings of fruit and vegetables per day for less than a dollar per person, which puts it within the budget of most families. (The current recommended amount is 9 servings, but most people don't even get seven, so that would already be an improvement.)
The most recent two in J.D. Robb's (Nora Roberts) Eve Dallas series, Creation in Death and Strangers in Death. As usual, they're good, though not great literature. The usual mix of Rourke-owns-everything, Eve's-cars-fall-apart, hot sex scenes, and unlikely but fascinating villains.
Hitman, lastest in Parnell Hall's Stanley Hastings series. Hastings is confused, as usual, and there turns out to be more than one hitman.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Well, I had briefly reported that we had been in Texas and were back again. While we were there we got to see a few people we hadn't seen the time before, and we also accomplished what we set out to accomplish with respect to my FIL's estate - inventorying some of the collections, and gathering up the rest of the personal papers, so the estate sale people will have a clear field to start pricing stuff, which will take them weeks - they will start this month, and then the estate sale will be in April sometime. If you're near Austin, ask me and I'll provide details, as there will be some cool stuff in the sale. While we were going through stuff, we found a few more items for other people - for [livejournal.com profile] the_curmudgn and for Jerry and for Cindy and for Connie... (hi y'all!)

Note to those in South Austin: don't bother with Cannoli Joe's down near 71 and Brodie. It's buffet-only, one price, food nothing special, confusing layout, and the cannoli are *too sweet* - you can hardly taste that it's ricotta cheese in there, tastes more like buttercream cake frosting.

Back home, we had the usual rehearsals Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I have some catty comments I'll manage not to commit to print about several things that happened at each rehearsal. Some good stuff: Monday night's rehearsal in Bel Air included having middle and high school students, who are going to perform a few numbers with us at the next concert. I got to oversee three middle school tenor saxes, who weren't bad; as there wasn't much one of me could do about listening closely to all three, I concentrated my advice on the judicious use of the pencil - "A musician without a pencil is almost as bad off as a musician without a mouthpiece."

Wednesday's rehearsal in Montgomery Village was preceded by a meeting about Maryland Community Band Day, which MV is sponsoring this year. The meeting was pretty productive, and we're actually on top of most of what needs to be done! Which is good, given that it's only 70 days out. We're getting down to the gritty details of forcing each band to decide on its program so that we can get the program books printed.

Also on Wednesday: looking at houses! And we found one we are making an offer on! We have been wanting for a while now to get a house with more square footage on the main floor, since I don't do stairs very well, and the third house we looked at was as if it had been built to our list of needs and wants - all on one floor, huge sunporch for the critters, level ground in both front and back yards, *garage!!!* (if [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet were to ever do anything so undignified as squee!, having a real garage instead of a carport would make him go squee!) Huge rooms, lots of light, neighborhood eerily similar to what we're in now - it's about a mile away, equally convenient to the same highways and all, a dead-end street just like the current one. And, the price on it was recently dropped to something within our range - the silver lining to the current troubles in the real estate market. So we've made an offer, and are waiting to hear. As soon as we hear that they've definitely accepted our offer, I'll do pictures and stuff. The goal would be to settle/close around mid-May.

Thursday was sax lesson. And today was doctors' appointments - getting some forms signed by my cardiologist, and getting my quarterly device check; the pacemaker is still working, and the defibrillator's batteries are still hale and hearty.

I want to say more about the house but I have a bit of totally irrational superstition about jinxing it in my head.
bunrab: (Sniffy)
So, I had purchased a few boxes of stick-on tiles, as a temporary cover for the spare bedroom/pet room floor (the real spare bedroom, like for guests, is in the basement) because I wanted a solid floor surface I could easily clean, not the taupe wall-to-wall carpeting. And today, I started pulling up the carpeting. And you know what? I don't need the tile! (I'll have other uses for it, believe me, so it wasn't a waste of money.) Do you know why I don't need the tile? Because there's perfectly good hardwood flooring under there! Yes, hardwood floor, in decent condition, ready to be swept up and have a couple of plastic desk-chair strips thrown on it directly under the cages, so that any accidental litter box misses don't seep through the wood. Taupe cheap carpeting, over perfectly good hardwood. Gaaaah!!!

I got about 2/3 of that room done, enough so that I can bring up Gizmo's and Chippy-n-Chili's cages tomorrow. Then remove the rest of that room. Knowing that's hardwood, though, I don't know if I'm going to be able to stop. I suspect that foot by foot, I will keep ripping up carpet up the hallway to the living room, and then, who knows?
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Let's see. I mentioned family dinner Tuesday, did I not? My newest niece (#37) is cute - and teeny tiny. Also got email from one of the oldest nieces - I now have great-nephew #3. Oops, time to make another baby blanket!

We saw "Over the Hedge" yesterday. It was cute - not great, but cute and amusing, worth the matinee price. Had some moments in it that were definitely for the grownups. ("Stellllaaaaa!") We ate lunch beforehand at a Pakistani restaurant in the same mall, and it was not bad at all - a very large lunch buffet. Some sort of Pakistani equivalent of MTV on a big screen at the back of one dining area - all music videos featuring scantily clad young women and strong young men - with the occasional camel wandering past.

It was also damn hot for here, yesterday, and I wound up sleeping a lot later than usual today, missing lunch, which I blame on the heat.

However, we are going out to supper tonight, because: We arrived in Maryland a year ago today!

We left Texas on the 14th - and so this past Wednesday, at the Silver Diner, we celebrated that by ordering the Crunchy Gulf Shrimp Platter (yes, it's a no-no on both our diets). Silver Diner, you may recall me mentioning previously, is the home of the world's best chicken pot pie. So, we had a Texas meal on Wednesday. And tonight, we will eat at the same restaurant that was the first real restaurant we ate at in the area (not a chain, not fast food), a local place called the Crab Shanty. We actually didn't first eat there until the 21st of June last year - because that's when our car finally arrived, and we started roaming around further than the chain restaurants a block away from the apartment. As it happens, the Crab Shanty is closer to our house here in Catonsville than it was to the apartment in Columbia, a peculiarity of its location right on Route 40 in Ellicott City. Anyway, I'm looking forward to more fresh seafood.

Observations on a year in Maryland:
Food is more expensive here. Classical music is cheaper and more frequent.
Water is considerably cheaper. Air conditioning is going to jump in price pretty drastically this year. It will still be cheaper to air condition this ranch house than the leaky antique on Riverside.
There are lots of wild cottontail rabbits in our neighborhood. And wild strawberries growing on our lawn. We didn't have those in Texas.
On the other hand, we don't have Schlotzky's or Magnolia Cafe here, and I do miss those.
We are finally beginning to get the house in the shape we will be comfortable with; by the time we've actually been in this house a year, we may even be mostly unpacked!
So far, so good.
bunrab: (cillie)
The gutters have been cleaned.
The lawn has been mowed.
40 boxes of stuff we still haven't unpacked have been moved to the basement so that we can actually WALK through our bedroom.
THe pool maintenance guys gave the pool a good running start, although there's still some stuff we have to do before having them in again to vacuum up the last remaining sludge at the bottom of the pool.
The little rolling cart with the flip up leaves has been assembled (by me) and the new desktop computer has been assembled (by spouse) and put upon the cart. And I am using it now.
And the printer has been moved to the same cart, which frees up the rolling tea cart to go into the kitchen.
And last but not least, the bathroom wall cabinet has been hung upon the bathroom wall, no longer living on the living room floor leaning against the stereo, which is where it had been for the past three months.
So, we have a certain feeling of accomplishment for the week just past. I feel as if I'm getting back to normal.
All of which is pretty boring to everybody else except me and Spouse, and maybe Pickle. The rest of you would understand, if you had been weaving your way around the strange placement of furniture and furnishings we've had since we moved in.

Next up:
Install wire shelving on spare bedroom walls.
Adopt a cat from the Harford County Humane Society, which is suddenly swamped with a case of animal hoarding, and get Pickle to accept said cat. Not to mention Gizmo.
Rip up some carpeting, and replace temporarily with sheet vinyl until we can afford hardwood.
Transfer contents of a couple hundred cassette tapes to mini-disk.
Unpack the 40 boxes in the basement.
Move end table and rocking chair to basement.
Rearrange living room china cabinet and etegeres.
Give the chinchillas a thorough grooming.
Trim bunny toenails.

Not necessarily in that order.
bunrab: (krikey)
Really. The snow is almost entirely gone, except in really shady spots and parking lot corners where it was plowed into 4-foot high lumps. For the past two days, we've had weather in the 60's (about 15°C, for my numerous European fans :D); today, people were driving around with their car windows open. Just ridiculous.

I've got to go hit up the library, or else unpack all the rest of the books, because I can't find anything I want to read in this house! (Or maybe one of you just won the lottery, and will go over to my Amazon.com wish list and send everything on it to me by overnight-mail. Yeah.)

So far this week: took 7 pet afghans over to an animal shelter in Howard County (see http://www.h4ha.org/snuggles). Sent scarf, completed nearly 2 weeks ago, off to [livejournal.com profile] landley today. Watched electrical work get completed in kitchen and bathroom. of interest only to people who like to meddle with their houses )
bunrab: (teacup2)
Here's what it looks like around here: medium-largish pictures behind cut )
bunrab: (afghan)
From New Scientist, 4 February:
Pigeons to set up smog blog
Got your own blog yet? If not you'd better hurry up if you don't want to be beaten to it by a flock of pigeons. Later this year 20 of the birds will take to the skies above San Jose, California, each carrying a GPS receiver, air pollution sensors, and a basic cellphone. They will measure levels of pollution they encounter, and beam back their findings as text to a blog in real time. ...
The pigeon bloggers are due to be released at the Inter-Society for Electronic Arts' annual symposium in San Hose on 5 August. The data they send back will be displayed on the blog in an interactive map. ... [Eventually] the pigeons will also carry cameras around their necks and post aerial photos to the blog.

[livejournal.com profile] urbpan, are you paying attention?
While I am asking questions, [livejournal.com profile] fadethecat, did the afghan, scarves and wrist-warmers ever arrive? Just checking, before I send anything more.
We bought two more light fixtures today, one for the bathroom and one for the downstairs bedroom; the electricians are coming Tuesday morning. Finally, we will have something more than one-bulb flush-to-ceiling light fixtures with frosted shades in the kitchen and dining room, and the same thing only with a missing shade in the guest bedroom. And outlets in the bathroom! Currently the only outlet in there is the 50's/60's era (original to the house) fixture that is medicine cabinet, light fixture, and single outlet all in one, and that outlet in the top of the medicine cabinet near the lights. This is not terribly convenient for people with an electric razor, a hair dryer, a space heater, and the occasional vacuum cleaner. Not to mention, the bathroom light is also rather inadequate for the amount of reading we do in there. The new fixture will accomodate four large flourescent spiral bulbs. May even improve our hair neatness if we can see what we're brushing!
And now to start in on the sock I need for Friday evening's alternate-heel-method class.


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