Nom took the kids out shopping. It was a zoo, but they like it. I did some reading, some studying, some cleaning, but somehow not very much of either. So in the spirit of finally digging in and doing work… I'm posting this.
We've been in this house for a year-and-a-half. The vast majority of organizing and putting away got done fairly promptly, the small percent that remains will likely take another 10 years. Mostly not really that important, but my tidy (eg neurotically organized) mind likes things neatly put away. I am working on organizing all the toys, etc in the basement play (which previously looked like a cross between an explosion at a toy factory and a refugee camp), putting different things in different boxes (eg “Legos all go in the box marked ‘Legos’ when you are finished playing with them.”) They get the concept of “tidy up” at school (eg daycare), and I’m slowly working on extending the concept to home. Key word is "slowly."
If they are motivated, they do help clean up. Some weeks back, they got into it, because it was Hedgefund’s birthday party. Her actual Bday was during the week, but more-or-less got the concept of “we’re having the party on a weekend, b/c that’s when people can come.” (And liked the idea of cake on two days: at the party, and her actual Bday.) Miss Manners somewhere said the that number of invitees should be equal to the child’s age in years, which more-or-less happened. This was the first year she wanted to have her friends or for her Bday; I don’t think at a younger age they really have a concept of “friends” and “my friends.” She invited 2 kids from her class, plus another friend, plus 2 daughters of a friend of Nom’s (which is to say Nom invited the mom & her daughters) plus immediate family. It went well. She had fun decorating the house (eg telling me to put up decorations), a little big each night for a week. Nothing fancy, crepe paper streamers and balloons, but she has definite ideas about what she wanted where.
Dunno if I mentioned, but the other day she told Nom, “when I grow up, I want to be bossy like you.” Actually, HF has managed “bossy” since quite an early age, much more so than Nom. I think I told her she was bossy when she was 2 or 3 (HF, not Nom), to which she solemnly replied, “yes.”
Anyhow, party was a success all around. I thing everyone actually had fun, even Nom & I. We had a piñata, but one of those degenerate modern ones where you pull ribbons that eventually open a trap door, instead of whacking it with a stick, or as we did at Army Family Days, shooting at it with an M16. (Joking!)
Winter is definitely over, which is to say that all the snow and ice has finally melted in the backyard. There is likely to be one more sprinkling of snow, but we are now in "post-winter," sometimes known as "mud." It's a gray, rainy day. Not depressingly so, what with my being indoors, but don't really have much energy. On the other hand, that could also be because I've had a long week. Doing more reading, both professionally and recreationally. Will post on the latter soon.
Weather is incredibly beastly. Not so much cold, as really biting wind. Went to the Family Day in the park. First stop was ride on horse-drawn sleigh. Hard to enjoy while huddling into your hooded coat, turning face away from the wind. Then bounce castle, which the kids enjoyed (and it kept them warm). Then sugar on snow, which is basically maple syrup poured out onto (clean) snow, let it congeal slightly, then wrap around a stick to eat its gooey sweet yumminess. Then hotdogs and hot chocolate, but at least in the small warmed shelter.
That night, there was a mysterious banging. Someone trying to break in? Ghosts? Picked up one of my swords (not so useful for ghosts) and explored. Couldn't find anything in basement or first or second floor, nor any windows open/loose on any floor. Oddly the banging was almost inaudible in the basement, and less audible on first floor or front of second floor. Eventually figured it was from the attic, the stairs to which are in the back of the house. In winter, I put Plexiglas sheets across the bottom of the skylights' light wells. The skylights are vented at the top. One of them, the one in fact at the back of the house, near to the stairs down, is older, and has a different type of vent. The wind running over it was so strong, gusts were causing a Venturi effect and pulling up the plexiglas, which would then slam back down. I put some weights on the Plexi for now. I'll have to see if I can adjust the vent later.
1. It takes at least 3 times longer. I can probably replace a light switch in 5-10 minutes. The last time Hedgefund helped me it took 40 minutes. Admittedly she was 2 years old. Now it would only take 30 minutes. Or they watch me, but then want to play. Example, going up on a ladder to change a ceiling light. Yes, they let me do it alone, but then want their “turns” climbing up and down the ladder, which means I have to stand there and make sure they come down the ladder on their own steam, rather that gravity-powered and head first.
2. I sometimes don’t want them on unsafe places, even if I’m there, because I don’t want them knowing that they can get up/into such places, because they might do it when I’m not there. Example, I don’t want them to know how to get onto the roof of the house. It will be quite a while before they can manipulate the extension ladder into place and open the trap door, but I’d just as soon they even consider the concept as do-able as late as possible. More to the point, there is a spiral staircase to the roof of the garage. I have absolutely no idea why. When we were doing the renos, they put a gate at the base of the staircase, but I didn’t have a lock for it until just now. Again, don’t want them even considering climbing up to the roof of the garage until they are old enough to not risk coming down gravity-powered/head-first.
BTW, being the son of a locksmith, I understand that I could - and therefore did - have a locksmith fit a padlock to the same key as my house key. I’m a firm believer in having as few keys as possible. In fact, our house key also opens the front door of my office, but not the reverse. That is, if I don’t have my office keys, I can still get in, but Evil Secretary’s office key doesn’t open the house (variant on doing a master key). Again, being a son-of-a-locksmith (among other “son of’s” I’ve been called), I realized that they were the same key blank, and therefore could be keyed alike.
Last night, went to say goodbye to the old place, with Nom and the kids. I love where my life is now, but it was still very sad. I'd lived there for over 10 years. It was the adult, sophisticated, urban apartment. Not perfect (nothing ever is), but it was really cool. I had some bad times there, but many good times also. I really felt it was my home. After leaving the house where I grew up, nothing ever felt really permanent/like a real home that was mine. That condo did feel that way. This house mostly does, but haven't lived here long enough to really have a connection.
Not only was the condo the sophisticated, etc, etc, it was where I was living when I met Nom, and we had our kids and got married.* Wallstreet was too young to remember it, but Hedgefund definitely did and was very sad. I have so many memories of her as a baby and toddler there. The kids were standing on the window ledge, looking at cars going past. I remember holding her on that ledge (she was standing, I was making sure she didn't fall off), and when a car went past, she'd wave, and say "bye car," and smile.
Then we left, waved, and said "bye house," but weren't smiling.
*Very traditional: get married, move in together, have kids…. just not quite in that order. We actually got married at the condo in an intimate home ceremony.
No wait, the question is how many weeks does it take one warriorsavant to change a light bulb:
a) weeks? you mean minutes, dontcha? It's just changing a dang light bulb dude. You're a very handy guy, son of Mr. Fixit.
b) oh right, you have very young kids, so 2-3 weeks is likely.
First wait until they're out of the house so they don't "help," then find the ladder (hidden away so they don't play on/with it and kill themselves), then take off the globe and unscrew the bulb, then search the house and find out you don't have that size/type/wattage bulb. (When we were planning/doing the renovations, I swore I would have everything using just 1 type of bulb. My designer, architect, electrician, and contractor all laughed at me.)
Second, put away ladder and light globe so kids don't play on/with it and kill themselves and/or break the glass globe (having at least cleaned said very-dusty glove), then find some time to go to the hardware store and get that size/type/wattage bulb.
Third, try to find more time when no kids around, give up, and have them "help," after each wanting 2 turns climbing up-and-down ladder (well, each wanted several dozen turns, but they got 2).
Back: We had reason to go to the old condo. Still not sold. Grrr. Anyhow, we ended up giving the kids a bath there. (Sounds strange, but sort of made sense, however too complicated to explain.) I got all nostalgic about giving them baths there, Hedgefund especially adored taking a bath with her Papa with more bubbles than water. Partly nostalgic for the condo itself; I'd lived there for over 10 years, had many good memories (and some horrid ones), and that is where we first lived together and had our children. Partly nostalgic for when the kids were little. Yeah, I know that at 4 and 2-1/2 they are still little, but little-er.
The new house. We really love it. It's very bright, very classy and classic styling, high ceilings with moulding, lots of woodwork, beautiful layout with different sightlines in different directions.
The new office. Also very bright and classy. Really do need to tweak the layout of things in each exam room. In my old place, could basically sit in one spot and pivot to reach everything. Highly efficient way to work. Although these rooms are actually smaller, they are not yet as neatly laid out. It's annoying me, but haven't had time to tweak it yet; too many other things to do. Taxes mostly in to the accountant now.
Sitting in the back of your own car. Interesting feeling. The other day Nom w/ kids and I arrived home at the same time (warned you there'd be kids in this post). Wallstreet decided he wanted to play in Papa's car instead of going into the house. We both climbed into the back (later into the front where he sat in my lap and "drove" and also pulled everything out of the glove compartment). Sitting like that, the car changes from being a vehicle to being a small room. Interesting psychological perspective.
Hedgefund. Speaking of cars, she's become a back seat driver. At 4 years old. If she starts saying "mind the lorry," I'm sending her back. (Hyacinth from "Keeping Up Appearances" a BritCom used to like.) She also has become quite talkative in general, and much happier. That makes me incredibly glad, I was so worried she was depressive. She is also quite inventive about names and how she addresses us. Sometimes it's "hey guys" (from the timbre of voice and facial expression, I think she's imitating one of the daycare teachers), sometimes it's "hey parents," sometimes it's Papa Savant and Mommy Savant (I think from "Peppa Pig," a current popular children's show, the parents being Daddy Pig and Mommy Pig). Lately, she was mad at Wallstreet and started calling him Blue Dragon. Dragon because he was being mean, and blue because that's his color. His room is painted blue. Hers is green. Did you think I was going to write "pink?" Silly Reader, stop thinking in clichés. Green is her favorite color, has been as long as she could barely indicate a choice, so we painted her room green. The master bedroom is red (actually 3 walls are pale gray, and the back wall is deep red). Since we Savants like dragons, she (mostly) stopped using it as a negative, and now Wallstreet is Blue Dragon, she is Green Dragon (of sometimes Hedgefund Big Sister Green Dragon), we are Papa Red Dragon and Mommy Red Dragon. I have a hypothesis that color in dragons is multi-genetic, which effects how the colors breed, so perfectly reasonable for 2 red dragons to produce one green and one blue dragon. I'm putting in for grant to study it.
And oh yeah, "Happy Spring," apparently that being the season when it's only minus-a bit, and not too much snow forecast for tomorrow morning.
It was Nom's immediate family (parents & brother's family) & us. We'd had them over before, but doesn't really count as "hosting" when you do take out. We (mostly Nom, to be honest) went all out. Only the hors oeuvres and dessert was bought, and only the salad was brought by guests (SIL makes a great salad).
Hors oeuvres: cheeses, taramasalata, pate, prosciutto on rounds of baguettes
Main courses: roast beef, shrimp, rice, oven roasted veggies
Desert: fruit & cookies
It was delicious. I knew there was a reason I married that woman. (Well, there's also the caring, smart, pretty, and likes Jane Austen stuff.) Everyone enjoyed the food and had a great time. We might have a future as being socialable/hosts.
Meanwhile, the expertly designed heating system for our new(ly renovated) house heats very, very unevenly. Some rooms are so cold need a sweater, some are so hot can scarcely breathe. It's a forced hot air system, and it either isn't zoned properly, or there aren't enough dampers to properly regulate the flow of air, or both. Either way, right after the holidays I'm going to have a little sit down with all the parties involved and "suggest" they fix it. I have the bad feeling that means more holes in the walls, and more plaster dust, which will very much not make us happy. Along the same note, there seems to be a frozen pipe in one part of the house (out to the extension). Only the hot water pipe is frozen. The plumber has been unsuccesfully working on it for 2 hours. Add this to our little post-holiday sit down.
We're still in the midst of the cold snap you might have read about. I've always had cold hands and feet ("but a warm heart"), but I can't take my gloves off outside for more than 10 seconds without my fingers aching with the cold. We wanted to live in this country, right?
Nom & ba ngaoi took the kids out for a couple of hours (a bit of grocery shopping and a bit of running around the mall driving other people crazy, but at least they get out of the house for a bit). I can post this, have a peaceful cup of coffee… then dig into the piles of home fixing-up, and paperwork that I promised to do over the holidays.
Tonight is New Years Eve. The start of the new year is defined by when the ball drops in Times Square in NYC (no matter where in the world you happen to be). Or in our case, when we get up the next day and watch the recording of it.
Happy New Year to all my Gentle Readers. May it be full of happiness, health, and good things.
One on my projects for over the holidays is to finish putting away the stuff in the last few boxes that have not yet been unpacked ("few" being a relative term). For now, a first approximation of where things go, then over several months going over the place with a fine toothed comb to put everything obsessionally in its place (for some stuff, that place will be trash/recycling).
Today I organized medical and language books. From my old condo, I had 2 lovely bookcases with glass fronts. I'm not sure I really like glass-fronted bookcases, makes it too hard to see and get to the books (like keeping animals in zoos), but they do look impressive. The big one has three sections, was in my den in my old place, and is now at the end wall of my tablinum in our new house. The smaller, but matching, one is single section, which was between two windows in the den in the old place. I was going to put it in the new office (almost finished *crosses fingers*) as a display case, having left it in the living room of our new house until then. I realized there is no good space in the new office, and it looks rather nice in the living room, so there it shall stay.
There are 6 shelves. The top two are respectively, books, and medical equipment, that was my late great-uncle's from medical school (plus a few antique medical books). He had graduated medical school exactly half a century before me. The next two are respectively books and medical equipment, that was mine from medical school. (My Derm books from Residency are in the bigger bookshelf in the tablinum. The last two shelves are ultimately reserved for Hedgefund's and Wallstreet's medical school books and equipment. (Does this count as optimistic, determined, or pushy?) Will be more than half a century after me, but can't time everything correctly; that's okay, as long as they go, and I live to see it. If they have kids who go to medical school, they can jolly well find some other bookcase to exhibit things. For the meanwhile, until such time, and in case of disaster and heartbreak (they don't go to medical school😱), those 2 shelves are for language books. The fifth shelf has the real languages. Which are those, you ask? English and French, you silly non-Canadians. If I ever get Vietnamese for Ignorant Round-Eyed Barbarians Made Simple, it will go on that shelf also. The bottom shelf is all other language books that have drifted my way over the years (books on learning those languages, dictionaries in those languages, and English-XXX dictionaries). Those are arranged west-to-east on the shelf to roughly match the geographical regions of origin of those languages. (I did mention obsessional didn't I? Not to mention whimsical.) I think I have: Spanish, Italian, German, Yiddish, Macedonian, Russian, Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Japanese. Plus Latin and Esperanto. I'd love to have the time to sit down and study a half-dozen languages or so. I could probably use that many in my office. Sadly, that's on the "C-priority" of the To Do List. (= "Get around to sometime this lifetime if I live long enough and all the B-, A-, and OMG-priority items get taken care of first."). I suspect that will never happen, unless the kids graduate medical school and take over the practice at, oh, age 12, or thereabouts. Still, hanging on to them just in case, and besides, they look cool and fit my self-image. (Worldy gentleman scholar. It ain't pretentious if you actually done it.)
She smiled and said "I've always admired your house, and I was wondering if you know when it was built."
Her: "I see. Thank you. It really is a lovely house."
Me: "Thank you."
Then she smiled again, turned, and walked off.
BIL came over with his kids today for a couple of hours. We like them, and we really like that the cousins get together. HF loves it, WS sort of does, and their cousins do too. I think they (the cousins) enjoy it for a couple of hours, but as they're getting older, if they spend too much time, it feels like babysitting. A couple of hours seems about right. BIL helped me with a few things setting up the house that were too heavy or bulky for me to do alone, or even me and Nom to do. First, was setting up a huge parasol on the deck.* BIL was the provenance of that also, in that it had been left at a house he'd bought to rent out. When he rented it, he'd told his tenants that it was to go to me and Nom, whenever we actually had our house renovated. (When we moved, the movers made a stop to pick it up, as well as a stop to pick up stuff we'd stored and Nom's parents house. Apologies if already posted about this.) Between the two of us, we managed to assemble it, and man-handle it into a position where it shaded the deck when open, but didn't block the doors from opening. We also carried a large table down to the basement, put the TV on its stand, the stand on said table. They're set up in front of the exercise area, which was the plan all along.** He also helped set up some other stuff. Really very kind of him.
Even before got the TV set up, I managed to do some exercise the other day. Was watching the kids downstairs.*** If they are playing well, this is mostly boring. Brief flashes of "aww, they're so cute," but mostly boring. So I finally plugged in the treadmill, and got on it. As exercise goes, it was rather lame, barely getting up to a normal walking pace. My heart rate went up, but scarcely aerobic training level. On the other hand, it was actual exercise, for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long.
*Or umbrella if your prefer. Basically same thing, depending on whether the weather is sunny or rainy.
**Only just got cable installed. In our old place, Bell provided both internet and cable, via "Fibe" (fiber optic connection). Fibe doesn't reach our new place, and the city limits satellite dishes to 18". Which would be fine, but the smallest one they have (which they tried to install) is 24" and we couldn't get a variance from the city. (Well, they would have let us install one on the roof, as long as it was bolted to the roof, thereby breaking the waterproof membrane and voiding our roof warrantee.) In the end, we're keeping Bell for internet (because that's my email and it's too much trouble to change), and going with Videotron for cable. I'm sure you found this tale of bureaucratic nonsense fascinating.
***Don't know if I mentioned, but in a flash of brilliance, we covered the concrete basement floor entirely in gym mats. No more expensive than even cheap tiles or carpeting (and way cheaper than most), plus when kids fall down, they bounce and laugh, instead of break and cry.
Hedgefund was very excited to do Hallowe'en. In the past years, she was either a passive observer from her stroller, or just going along because parents were walking around around. Last year, Wallstreet was the one in the stroller. This year, he was too young to care (and got a bit scared by some of the costumes), but she was old enough to understand and really wanted to go out. She picked a Nemo costume for herself. We'd gotten Hedgefund a Spiderman suit, but he didn't want to wear it, and the weather turned cold & it didn't fit over his jacket, so we pulled out the pumpkin jacket that she'd worn in the past. It fit, but he really wasn't interested. I pulled out my wizard's robes from the costume chest (I'd made them years ago), and there was a useful broken branch on the front lawn just the right size for a staff. Hedgefund and I walked up and down our street a bit. (Nom came out a bit later and basically carried Wallstreet.) Hedgefund enjoyed getting candy, but really wanted to give out candy herself. I think she likes being in charge. I put chairs on the front porch, and she really did enjoy it. She seemed to be deliberate about which candy she give to which person. Like many things in little kids, I just accept that she had a system and a reason, and it was her show. We really had fun. Next year will do up the house with more decorations. Probably never to the level of our predecessors, but a fair amount.
Really was more just having some people over for dinner and a toast. Nom's family. My original plan was the day we moved, have them all stop by for a toast, but our SIL was working late, and we didn't finish moving until 10:30 at night, so wasn't practical. Really wanted them to come over at some point, but last night was the soonest it could be arranged. (Also doubled as Thanksgiving Dinner, but that's a minor point. Anyhow, we had take out fish and seafood, not turkey.) Nom's Uncle had given us a bottle of really good champagne some time ago (for our wedding?) that we were saving for a special occasion, and I couldn't think of a better one. The kids had sparkling juice, the adults the champagne and those who didn't drink at least took a sip. After that, I poured a splash on the front and back porches. I don't know if that is a tradition, but seemed like a good concept that the house itself would join us sipping champagne. Just for good measure, I left a little bit in a bowl on the back porch overnight for the Good Folk. It all seemed like a good way to "break in" the house. L'chaim.
As an aside, "stuff" expands to fill the available closet space, much as digital information expands to fill available computer memory. Years ago, I had a friend who renovated a condo in DC. She only built 1 closet, to thereby limit how much "stuff" she'd accumulate. I'm pretty good at getting rid of non-essential stuff…. Well, I thought I was until this move. We'll see how strict I can actually be with myself, not to mention the rest of the family.
I've finally emptied enough boxes that I can see most of the floor in my tablinum. I realize I have more books than I need. (Okay, on some level, there is no such thing, but am ignoring that for now.) I've already given one box of books to the local library, and have three more in the back of my car to go. The ones they don't use (which is most of them), they sell at their big annual book sale to raise money. I realize a couple of the ones I'm giving them I bought from their book sale in prior years. *Chuckle* Very little of what I'm giving away is actually causing me any pangs of regret. I don't really need Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum numbers 1 thru 20. There are three sets/types of books/articles that I'm setting aside for display. Not sure if going to go in my living room at home, or in my professional office when I redo that. The first is books and medical instruments that were my late great uncle's. He was an ophthalmologist, my one forbearer who was a doctor, very educated and cosmopolitan, a bit in the older European sense (he came to the US as a very young child, but always maintained a little bit of that air about him). He graduated medical school 50 years before I did. The second set is books (and maybe instruments) that were mine from medical school. The two sets would make a nice contrast. The third set are language books. Dissimilar from the others, except I think a few of the older ones were my great uncle's. I have think more about keeping these. I like having them. I love languages and admire people who are truly bi-, tri-, or multi-lingual. Said great uncle and aunt were like that. To me it's part of being educated and cosmopolitan. I can get by in French, but not really what I consider fluent. I used to speak Spanish (learned it for a South American deployment with the Navy), but have forgotten it. I'd love to have the time to just study languages; I could easily use 5-6 major ones in my office every week; I just don't have the time. With all that having been said, the question is how many of those language books are worth keeping. Like everyone today, if I want to translate a word, I look it up on line. The older ones might be worth keeping as antiques, and the language lesson books might also be worth keeping in case I go back to learning languages. On the other hand, probably will never find the time (something about having 2 kids to put through medical school), and I'm trying to get rid of stuff I don't really need, unless it has some sentimental value for me. Stay tuned to find out where the balance ends up.
I'm pleased with a bit of cleverness I put into the design of the master bathroom. We have a double sink. Probably an extravagance, because really never felt the lack of it when only had a single bathroom sink, but it seemed like the thing to do. One thing I've always found foolish, and detested, is that the bathroom mirror is behind the sink(s), which is just a little too far away (for shaving for me, or for applying make-up for Nom). Everybody shaving or applying make-up (unless you have a little additional make-up mirror) compensates by leaning forward awkwardly. I designed the sinks so that the countertop between the two sinks is recessed, putting me (or Nom) 12-18" away from the mirror, which is just the right distance. (The entire area behind the sinks is mirrored to make the room brighter and bigger and lighter, but this is the bit that we actually use for well, looking at ourselves.)
I'm also pleased with a bit of stylish décor we added. (Have to thank Sky, our friend and decorator, for the idea. Wanted to post a photo sequence approaching this, but too hard to upload here.) On the long wall between the master bedroom and the attic stairs is a mural of the NYC skyline. (Digitally printed on wallpaper-like heavy vinyl material. There's a local company that does these.) It's half-hidden. As you come up the main stairs to the 2nd floor, you don't see it. The mains stairs, like most of the house, is in very classic style. When you get to the hallway upstairs, and turn left, suddenly you see the mural. Very striking because it's a contrasting style to the rest of the house and décor, and because it's the NYC skyline. Sounds jarring to describe; well, it is a bit jarring to see, but in a very good way. Sky had wanted trees/forest design, but the New Yorker in me insisted on the skyline, and it really works.