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After breakfast and the obligatory writing session at the coffee shop, I swung by Home Depot to acquire my very own electric pole chainsaw and then accomplished the following:

* Finished pruning the ornamental plum in the front yard. (I think I have it in me to do serious pruning on one or two trees a year. Must remember to rotate appropriately.)
* Took off the several limbs from the other front-yard shade tree that were seriously menacing the sidewalk.
* Did some desultory hacking at major overhanging limbs from trees along the front west property line.
* Dragged the results of all this carnage into the side of the driveway to await hauling and/or shredding depending on what option comes cheapest.
* Mowed the front lawn.
* Failed to damage my ankle in the hidden pit-fall.[*]
* Pruned the dead wood out of the apple tree that I hadn't gotten to in last year's pruning.
* Took off the seriously leaning limbs on the lilac and tidied it up.
* Chopped a bunch of other shrubbery off at the fence line in the back west corner of the yard.
* Did some basic pruning of the backyard plum tree: took some height off, took the main limbs back to a length that can support the weight of the fruit, removed any limbs likely to overhand the neighbor's yard.
* Asked the neighbor if I could go in their back yard to clean up the pruned branches. SUggested I might prune the olive tree from their side while I was at it. Have earned brownie points with neighbors.
* Cut the grape vine (why yes, I have a volunteer grapevine -- no fruit that I've seen yet) back to something I might be able to stake to the fence ... assuming I remember to do so.
* Dragged all the backyard trimmings into the side yard but failed to get as far as adding them to the pile in the driveway. (Since I have a 3-car-wide driveway, none of this will interfere with getting the car in and out.)
* Probably succeeded in not scratching my cornea with a flailing olive branch but it's still a bit sore.
* Hot shower, chicken slow-roasting in the oven with acorn squash, stiff drink, and that silly football game is still going on evidently.

When I was at Home Depot I contemplated picking up some 4" lavenders and rosemarys to put in the gaps in the parking strip but I bethought myself on my rule of thumb that plants should go in the ground the day I buy them and correctly predicted that I'd run out of steam before that could happen.

[*] Whoever removed several dead trees from my yard at some point before I bought it seems to have been enamored of some sort of enzymatic stump-disintegrator process. It works exceedingly well. Eventually, where there had once been a ground-level stump and underground root system, there is a thoroughly digested spongy mass under the illusion of soil. At some point, when you step on this location, your foot will sink through the sponge. This will be very disconcerting.
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When I stopped by my Emeryville PO Box last Friday, there was a note in it that my renewal payment was due (if I wanted to renew, which I didn't). That means it's been a whole year since I opened the box to cover the transition between Oakland and Concord. This sent me browsing back in old LJ entries to note that one year ago I had just received an offer on the Oakland house and had rented the second (of what turned out to be three) 5x10 storage spaces to move stuff into. What a year it's been. Maybe I'll go back and un-f-lock all my moving related posts at some point. I was keeping things fairly solidly locked down so I could talk about the angst and mechanics of the sale and then the purchase of houses without having parties on the other side be able to follow my thought processes. Maybe. I doubt much of anyone really cares enough to go back and read that old stuff at this point (other than me).
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... in multiple senses. I finally turned the heat on today. I was going to wait until after I'd gotten around to having the HVAC check-up, but dammit it's cold. So I even figured out how to do the multi-task programming on the thermostat so that, in theory, it will pre-heat the house before I get up on work days, then idle more or less until I get home in the evening. Weekends are set separately and are set assuming I get to sleep later.

Today I got the bookcases in the library set in place and cross-braced together. IKEA provides hardware for fastening side-by-side cases together, so that got all the sets of two turned into single units. Then I used galvanized framing plates of various shapes and sizes to fasten sets of pairs back-to-back and to attach the resulting sets of four (that stick out into the room) to the cases against the walls (which are fastened to the wall). Easier to sketch than to describe. At any rate, they're all ready for books to be added (after I get the double-check from the foundation people). The shelves are all allotted to each case. The library curtains are up.

The guest/SCA bedroom still needs a lot of work. I one more bookcase in there for the fiction, but I'm also planning to do double stacking with the back row up on a riser to make the most efficient use of the cases, and I haven't figured out what to do for risers yet. The old dresser that used to have SCA stuff in it (along with some other misc. stuff) is now redundant and needs to be disposed of in some fashion. (I feel oddly sentimental about getting rid of it -- it's one my Dad used to use quite some time ago that's been passed around in the family a bit. Not an antique or anything like that, but still.) The guest/SCA room is also where odd boxes and things that haven't found their permanent home keep getting shoved.

But in terms of getting the place ready for the housewarming party next Sunday, all it really needs is tidying and regular light housecleaning. Then I can feel all totally moved in and relax ... just in time for holiday travel and everything. Which reminds me, I still need to line up someone to feed the cat over Thanksgiving.
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So let's see what I've accomplished this weekend:

* Mowed the lawn (I seem to be able to get by with about once a month. I feel a bit weird mowing and edging the parking strip, which is nothing but weeds, but it's sort of on the "broken window" principle. I.e., keep it the nicest looking weeds I can, for now, and people will at least know I care about appearances.) Also finished mapping the current contents of the front yard. (The back yard will only take one more session, since there aren't that many plants there, even though the spaces is larger.)

* Organized the housecleaning supplies and installed a rack for the brooms and mops and whatnot. (Originally I had visions of an actual broom closet somewhere, somehow, but at the moment I'm settling for a rack attached to the end of the stash shelves, which is right next to the door to the garage, plus a cheap plastic bin for the supplies.)

* Installed a bolt-style lock on the garage door. (This is a sort of belt-and-suspenders thing for some peace of mind. Mostly for when I go away for the weekend.)

* Picked up supplies for the class I'm teaching next weekend for Erinwood A&S. (I'm play-testing a "heat management for open fire cooking" class for people who are interested in participating in "cooks play-dates" but are hesitant about their fire management skills.)

* Re-organized the book boxes in the garage. There were about four purposes here. 1) Pull out the boxes with music books and cookbooks and shelve them. 2) Pull out the boxes with the women's history/gender studies books to start tracking down images for my collegium class. 3) Re-organize the non-book boxes (old paperwork, journal offprints, in-process research, etc.) to make it easier to get at thing's I'm likely to need (like teaching supplies). 4) Map out the location of all the boxes so that it will be less work if I need to pull something to get a particular book or set of books out before the library gets set up. The other incidental benefit of this project is that I removed enough boxes to give me one box-width more of free space in the garage.

* Put away the box of misc. art supplies and the office supplies that live in the secretary desk.

* Did the preliminary sort through the 2 boxes of cassette tapes. Since I don't directly list to cassettes any more, my rule of thumb is that I'm only going to keep things that either have archival value (e.g., tapes that have me or my material on them) or ones that I'd be willing to go to the trouble of ripping if I can't find the album on CD. Since most of my folk music on cassette was originally dumped from CDs, the vast majority of what I may be getting rid of is filk and filk-oid music. I promised [ profile] cryptocosm he gets first dibs on anything I'm discarding, after which I'll pursue other options.

* Very minor accomplishments: did laundry, cleared off stuff accumulated on dining room table (which I really really intend not to be a dumping ground), got more or less caught up on sleep. Still to do: data entry for various of the above (yard map, book box map, recent purchases to catalog), catch up on electronic correspondence.
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Somewhere in my house or garage is a can of high-temperature black paint. Amend that: somewhere in my house or garage are two cans of high-temperature black paint ... only one of which I know the precise location of.

It's been another weekend of repeatedly dashing out to buy that one key item needed to move the next project forward. But the projects are moving forward. I've rigged up a tentative solution for the spice storage (racks on the backs of the cabinet doors to the left of the stove) but it's a bit cobbled together because I wanted to make sure it fits my workflow before screwing things to the doors permanently. I decided on an arrangement for the 6 alleged CD towers (only 2 of which have ever been used for CDs): 5 in a sort of U against the short central wall on the kitchen/dining side filled with the international/historic doll collection and the antique doll china, and 1 in the library closet to store assorted small peripherals. So both of those are set up, affixed to walls, and filled with their intended contents.

I started setting up to hang pictures (including a run to the store to get hardware) but decided a higher priority was getting the camping fire box in shape for the cooking class I'm doing in two weeks. You see, back when I bought the fire box a year ago July, I knew that the unfinished steel would last better (and be far less messy to cart around) if I gave it a coat of stove blacking to fend off rust. But when I got it home from WATW, it needed cleaning, and I didn't have a good storage place for it so it sat out in the back yard, so of course it got damp and a little rusty ... and as these things go, the longer I waited to work on it, the more work it needed, and the more trouble I had finding time to work on it. At any rate, to day I pulled out the power tools and stripped off the rust. Did a couple of minor modifications that make it easier to set up. And then discovered that I have no idea where I put the can of stove blacking that I bought for the job back when I first planned it. So ... one more trip to Home Depot. But it has the first coat on the first side.

I unboxed and put away a couple more boxes of stuff. There are now no boxes left to be dealt with in the kitchen, dining room, master bedroom, or either bathroom. The living room still has two boxes of cassette tapes to be dealt with (need to sort thing and figure out which of them I want to keep, given that I never listen to cassettes any more). The craft room still has one box of assorted office supplies that belong in the secretary desk. And then there's the library and guest/SCA room. No progress there except for picking up some free hardware from IKEA to help with fastening the library bookcases together. (I tried to pay for them -- after all, it isn't that it was missing from the original packages, I just needed more of the fasteners for what I wanted to do. But they didn't have any system set up for selling the items independently of kits, so I had to take them for free.) It may be a good thing that some of the last bits of organization are on hold until they come up in the funding queue since it gives me the push to work on the smaller tasks. But I do so want everything to be organized and in order.
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And in another new-house first, this evening was my first packing of the car for a camping tournament entirely within the confines of my very own garage. There are still some bugs to work out. I think when I unpack it'll be easier to offload items into the best configuration for the next packing job. (This time their placement on the storage shelves was rather willy nilly, so objects traveled in longer paths than they needed to.) But still, all in all, the process took less than half an hour (not counting packing up clothing) compared with the usual hour at the old house (which involved significant amounts of carrying things up and down from the second story, as well as the hazard of leaving a packed car sitting in the driveway if I packed ahead of time). And then there was the time spent hunting down my iPhone booster battery which was stored in a different location than my brain thought it ought to be. I really do need to finish getting things put away where they belong (plus a second pass to make sure they're really in their proper places) so I can go back to assuming I know where everything is.
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Once again, I used the presence of installing the bathroom cabinet on the to-do list as a wedge to get a lot of other stuff done. (At least, that's how I justify it to myself.)

Bike tire is patched -- I bribed myself by picking up a bike repair stand (the kind that holds your bike up in midair) which makes the whole process much simpler. With luck, it will mean I'm less likely to consider a flat to be a "wait till the weekend" project in the future. Because for some reason, flats seem more likely to happen at the beginning of the week than the end. Curiously enough, of the two sharp objects I found embedded in the tire, it was the plant thorn that lined up with the leak rather than the metal wire. Memo to self: must go online and order a couple spare tubes in the peculiar size that the Brompton takes. Also, more thorn-proof tires.

Garage shelves are earthquake-braced -- This project was made logistically more interesting by the fact that the concrete sill for the outer garage wall means the shelving is not flush against the wall. On the other hand, since the wallboard in the garage has only been painted, and not texturized, it's a lot easier to find the underlying studs. (Where was it that I recently saw a comment that stud-finders universally indicate that the interior structure of walls is constantly and randomly shifting?)

About half the front yard flower beds are detail-mapped and cataloged -- This is for a definition of "cataloged" that includes entries of "shrub -- species?????" Because the front property line (along the street) and the righthand property line (facing from the street) form something quite reasonably close to a right angle, with the house walls functionally parallel to those lines, I've decided to keep track of my mapping with an x,y coordinate system starting from the front right corner (but with positive x-coordinates rather than the negative ones that a truly fanatic and ocd mathematician would require). Cumulative error and the catenary drape of the 24-foot tape measure ensure that the coordinates will not be entirely correct, but it should be close enough for tracking and planning purposes. The map would be more elegant if I were doing it in metric rather than inches, but you work with the tape measure you have.

Gym bag has been modified for easier biking -- Proving that the best way to achieve a target is not to announce it in advance, for the first time since moving into the new house, I made it to the gym 5 out of 5 days last week and did a full elliptical routine every day, not just the shorter weights routine. I cobbled some clips and rings together from assorted hardware in order to be able to attach my gym bag to the outside of the Brompton front bike bag (so that I can also carry a lunchbag and maybe some grocery shopping at the same time). I'm also seriously considering trying a lunchtime workout rather than before or after work (except for Tuesdays, which are reserved for lunch with [ profile] thread_walker).

I'm starting to seriously reconsider my plans to locate my home computer center in the closet of the library room. I have yet to actually use the computer in that location -- even to the point of bringing the sheet-scanner out into the living room for processing receipts and bills. It still makes sense to use that location for office supplies storage (filing cabinets, paper supplies, software binders and manuals, rarely-used peripherals) and for the location of the wireless router/backup drive. But I'm starting to think that the "great room" is a better place for the immediate user interface (external monitor, printer/scanners). This shall require more experimentation.

Last week I thought that we'd seen the end of summer, especially Thursday evening when it was both cold and windy. But then the weekend was back to hot (just in time for all those work projects) -- hot enough that the Saturday evening concert in the park was balmy enough to enjoy without a jacket. I'm still enjoying the novelty of living in a place where 10 minutes biking gets me to the city center for cultural events ... and I feel perfectly comfortable biking home afterward fairly late at night.
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My general principle is that new projects for the yard are to be started this winter, after the rest of the house is unpacked and set to rights, and will involve serious mapping and planning and systematic work. In the mean time, I've been putting several hours in on weekend mornings getting the front yard into top shape. Water is the big issue. The front yard (well, except for the parking strip and a triangle next to the house at the end) is on an automatic sprinkler system. To do anything reasonable with the back yard, I'll need similar automatic irrigation there. And to do that I need to know where everything will go, and need to haul out the unwanted concrete slab/pathway, and remove the unwanted non-edible trees, and so forth. So it's a lot of prep work and the only thing I can rationally do at the moment is the bit about drawing maps and playing with plans.

But I want to buy new plants!!!!!

So on the excuse that there were some gaps in the rose plantings in the watered part of the front yard, I popped down to Reagan Nursery this morning and, finding that roses were 30% off, picked up four. Three were on my old roses list Austrian Copper (Rosa foetida bicolor, 1593), a red rugosa (not sure if it's a true Rosa rugosa rubra, 1796, or a more recent hybrid), Souvenier de la Malmaison (Bourbon, 1843), and the fourth was a Double Delight, which is unusually strongly scented for a hybrid tea.

I was contemplating what I wanted to do for "really old roses" section of the garden (I know I can track down at least a dozen dating to before 1600) given that I want to save the sunniest parts of the back yard for sun-loving vegetables. And it occurred to me that the little triangle at the end of the house, back behind the part currently under irrigation but in front of the fence (although I'm going to change that bit of fence to a gate) would make a wonderful little medieval/renaissance flower garden. Not the formal bed-garden with the fountain that's going in the back yard -- that's going to be more of a kitchen-garden style. I've been musing on what area I wanted to design as my "private al fresco weekend brunch" location. And if I put in something to create a little privacy screening -- not an actual fence, just a visual barrier -- along the end of the current watered area, then the area behind it would be perfect for what I have in mind. I need to draw up some maps so I can explain this better, but the idea is for the path that extends along to the left from the front door to pass by some of the older Rosa species varieties, then turn right in between two of the current tree roses and pass under an arch in the "privacy screen" (whatever it is) with something climbing over it. Then there's a small circular clearing with my patio table and chairs surrounding by the medieval/renaissance flower plantings. And on the opposite side of the circular clearing is another arch-and-gate into the back yard.

So at any rate, the three older roses bought today went in along the "approach" section (that already has irrigation). The Double Delight went in one of the gaps along the fence, at the side of the driveway. (I wanted it somewhere that I'd smell it a lot.)

I also picked up a new Italian Laurel (Laurus nobilis). They had several that they claimed would have more of a "bush" grown habit, but I wanted something that would turn into a major tree like the last one. In fact, rather than trying to keep it trimmed like I did last time, I wanted to plant it somewhere that it would have space to turn into whatever tree it wanted to be. So it's centered in the lawn just to the left of the path going up to the front door -- more or less in mirror position to where the ornamental plum is. There used to be another tree in that general location (and I had to dodge its remaining roots when digging) but it's just a stump. (Memo to self: when I get an arborist into do the pruning this winter I need to get a few stumps drilled out too.)

The other purchases were mostly kitchen herbs (basil, oregano, marjoram, thyme, parsley, cilantro, chives, tarragon) and a few lemon verbenas to tuck into the rose beds along the fence. Kitchen herbs will eventually go into the formal garden in back, but for now I put them in the watered bed next to the kitchen window. (Not that I can actually see them from the kitchen window, but it's a useful symbolic location.)

So in addition to sticking to my default resolution to get plants in the ground the day I bring them home, I did some reorganizing and unpacking in the garage. The large tool cabinet is in place along the back wall next to the water heater. Large garden tools are temporarily tucked into the space between it and the block of book boxes. Two of the three smaller tool/utility cabinets are now placed across the front of the book boxes and their contents have been installed (taking care of unpacking half a dozen more boxes). I also gathered up all the electronic equipment cartons that I want to save (in case of need to transport) and put them up in the garage attic. (I swear this is the only category of item that will ever go in either of the attics.)

Not much unpacking inside the house, although I did get one more box emptied in the master bedroom. I'd planned to get the patio grill set up and cleaned and had a game hen marinating in orange juice and fresh ginger as incentive, but that didn't happen so it got roasted in the over (along with a bunch of tiny Indian eggplants). Also: corn on the cob, sliced tomato, cucumber, and fresh mozzarella with truffle salt, a mixed berry slushie (some of the mixed berry granita I made to take over to [ profile] thread_walker's yesterday plus the rest of the berry juice I used for it), and for dessert a palmier pastry from the Alpine Bakery topped with fresh raspberries macerated in some Finnish cloudberry liqueur.

And that was my weekend. Totally exhausted now.
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It's not that I haven't had anything to say -- far from it! But I'm still spending a lot of time settling in to the new house and the new routine. And part of that new routine is that most of my LJ reading is done on the iPhone on BART, which is not conducive to posting long thoughtful essays. So as a way of getting back into posting, how about I review my new daily routine? This is a composite and, to some extent, an ideal (especially with regard to gym activities).

6 am - The alarm goes off. I get up, am thankful for having laid out my clothes the night before, get dressed, feed the cat, and verify that all the essentials are in my bike bag. (purse, keys, transit card, work ID, glasses case with the pair that aren't on my head, phone, and depending on other activities lunch bag, gym bag, and shopping backpack) If I've been very good and gotten to bed on time and therefore feel up to it, I've gotten dressed in my gym clothes and have the work clothes in the gym bag.

6:30 am -- Into the garage; door up; bag onto bike; helmet on; wheel out to the driveway; click the door-closer and make sure it closes; check for traffic and away we go. My ride to BART is about half on either lightly traveled residential streets or recreational paths and half on Concord Ave which has nice wide margins and not terribly heavy traffic. I get to ride past backyard roosters crowing and delinquent bunny rabbits on their way home from foraging and families of urban waterfowl swimming in the canal by the trail. The ride has one slightly hairy cut left across three lanes of traffic to make a left turn followed immediately by waiting at an intersection with a major artery (Clayton Rd) that only cycles the cross traffic every five minutes or so. (At least that's what it feels like.) Then I'm at BART, folding the bike up and waving my Clipper Card at the turnstile. I cannot say how delighted I am with the Clipper Card (eletronic transit debit card). I can remember back when I first moved to the Bay Area thinking someone should invent something like this. Especially the bit about setting it up online to auto-load when the balance gets down below a certain point.

7ish -- By now I'm on BART. The timing gets a bit loose from this point because a lot depends on the precise timing of my connections. The BART leg of the trip takes about 20 minutes, at which point I've worked my way through e-mail, facebook, and LJ. Off at MacArthur Station and switch to the Emery-go-round shuttle. In theory, at this point I've moved on to reading a magazine or book, but more often than not it's just solitaire games. The streets for this leg are a bit rough and I normally sit in the back of the shuttle to keep my bike out of people's way, so the ride is pretty bumpy.

7:30-ish -- If it's a gym day, I ride the block from the shuttle stop to the gym and spend about half an hour doing weights, showering, and changing to work clothes. (If it's not a gym day, I probably lazed in bed an extra 20 minutes or so and haven't really gotten any further ahead in the schedule.) Then ride the 3 blocks from the gym to work.

8-ish -- At work.

Lunch -- On Mon, Wed, & Fri I bike down to the Emeryville Post Office at lunch to check my PO Box (which I'm still using to transition mail from the old house to the new one). So far there's always been at least one piece of mail every time I check. On the day the box is empty, I'll go down to only checking one or two times a week. On PO Box days I often swing by Berkeley Bowl on my way back to work and pick up a few groceries (since I can keep them in the break-room fridge at work until the end of the day -- no frozen foods, though).

5-ish -- Off work. If I didn't hit the gym in the morning and I don't have to rush home for something in the evening, it does here. Otherwise, bike the few blocks to the shuttle stop, shuttle to BART, BART to Concord, repeating the "read e-mail, FB, and LJ" part as necessary. Home by 6pm if nothing else intervenes. The trickiest part of planning the commute is chosing clothing for the day: warm enough for Berkeley fog, not too warm for the afternoon bike ride home, not involving carrying multiple changes of clothing that take up too much space in the bike bag. I haven't yet mastered the trick of hitting the garage door remote while still on approach so that I can just ride up into the garage. Park the bike, put away any groceries and mail, take care of the cat, make sure stuff (clothes, food, etc.) is organized for the next morning.

Thursdays I swing by the farmers market on the way home. Wednesdays, unless I'm feeling overbooked, I'll generally go to fighter practice (odd to call it that when there isn't necessarily any fighting going on any given week). Alternate Thursdays is a sewing group. Enough other less-regular evening social events that it seems like more than half my evenings are booked. If I'm not going out for anything, I'll cook a nice meal and sit down to relax over it and try to catch up with anything online that's too awkward to do on a phone. And just about the time I'm thinking about getting some more unpacking and organization done, it's ...

10pm -- Bedtime. The computer is scheduled to automatically go to sleep. I'm less automatic about it. The later after 10pm I get to sleep, the less likely I'll get to the gym before work. If I do the gym after work, I get home proportionately later, everything gets pushed a bit later in the evening, and I'm more likely to not be in bed by 10pm. She is a vicious cycle.

And that's what my weekdays are like at the moment. The rhythms are still settling in. I've stopped worrying that I'll forget something essential, but I'm still trying to optimize what I haul around with me. Next post: the state of the unpacking.
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Clearly the only reasonable thing to do when waking up early on the weekend is get out in the yard and do some gardening and then head off to the self-storage facility as soon as it's open to start moving loads before it gets hot. After a couple of loads I made contact with [ profile] ermine_rat and family who showed up with their truck to help out with the multi-person objects. But when I attempted to thank them and send them on their way after the Big Object load, they insisted on seeing the job through. So after having given the storage folks notice in the morning that I'd be clearing my spaces out before they came due for renewal in three weeks ... I ended up emptying them by mid-afternoon. I hear a rumor that the temperature got up to 104F.

My original plan to check each object off on the spreadsheet as I unloaded it crumbled in the face of "get this done before we melt into little puddles" so we just stacked everything in a relatively solid mass in the middle of the garage. When the box-moving was done, I had some more running around to do. This included the return of the Really Cool Kitchen Trash Can that didn't actually fit in the space intended. (It was an under-sink model on rails so that you could pull it out to put stuff in. Alas, it didn't fit around my sink plumbing.) Also: total failure to find another kitchen trash can I found acceptable. Particularly if it's going to be visible, I've decided I want something nice looking: brushed steel or the like, with a foot-controlled lid. Maybe one with separate compartments for trash and recycling. Simple Human has one with all these features. It also costs $180. I can't quite get my brain around paying that much for a trash can -- even a nice one. Various FB friends have suggested checking out office supply stores rather than home furnishings. I may see what Fry's can offer.

After it started cooling down, I tackled Box Mountain in the garage, checked everything off on the inventories, and moved enough stuff into its interim locations that I could put the car back in the garage. (The key goal for the evening.) So the fabric and project boxes are stacked in what will be their eventual location. The non-fiction boxes are stacked neatly along the back wall of the garage, with a smaller stack of non-book paperwork boxes. (Many of these are intended for scanning and discarding, so they may never move permanently into the house.) The SCA/sports/garden equipment was piled randomly on the righthand side of the garage last night, so I tackled that part this morning while it was still cool. As with the fabric, things are now organized after a fashion in the same area as their planned final location, although not in their final configuration. (Eventually I want to build permanent shelving for this stuff, but for now I'm using a couple of utility cabinets that I don't need for their previous functions.)

When the furniture container gets unloaded, there will be the problem of where to put the tool cabinets, since their permanent home is roughly where the non-fiction is currently located. But I'll cope. Today the goal is to get the kitchen stuff put away and go through other boxes to identify things that don't need furniture to be put away.

I've also downloaded manuals for my sprinkler system and 7-day programmable thermostat and have set myself the goal of learning how to use them properly. And I need to get a short extension cord that I can run from the second outlet for the garage door opener over to where the sprinkler control is located so that I can continue operating it until I get around to the second round of electrical work.

On the down side, it turns out I'll be living without internet at home for a little longer as Comcast rescheduled my connection appointment from Tuesday to Thursday. They didn't actually tell me they'd done so, much less consult with me. I'm not sure how they thought they were going to get access to the house without making sure someone would actually be home for the appointment. I've requested a reschedule for next weekend instead and have yet to get positive confirmation of this. Comcast has now used up their one free screw-up. Anything else happens before installation and I cancel an go with Astound after all.
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Today's accomplishments:

Took receipt of fridge and washer/dryer.
Trimmed moulding as necessary to insert fridge.
Entertained father and brothers, including first family meal in the new house and a couple rounds of cards out in the shade in the future-garden.
Successfully communicated with the postman regarding optimal placement of mailbox.
Got commitment from father to install said mailbox on Tuesday when the plumber and Comcast people are also scheduled.
Went shopping for necessities (cleaning supplies, mailbox, light bulbs, necessary connection for hooking gas to dryer, kitchen trash can), for redundancies that can't wait on unpacking (shorts, frying pan), and for luxuries (nice bathroom set of soap dish, toothbrush holder, etc.).

Taking advantage of the Starbucks wifi then next door to Trader Joe's to get groceries now that I have some place to put them, and then home to put away the loot.
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 Due to the vagaries of social planning, I had commitments to two parties on the same day as moving into my new house.  One benefit is that the going-away/look-at-our-in-remodelling-process-house party for the co-workers created ample opportunity for social bonding with complete strangers over real estate and home ownership topics.  But for those playing along at home, here's the To-Done list for my house so far:

* Changed locks.  (Still working on taking possession of the garage door remote.)
* Got painting estimate and scheduled work for this coming week.
* Electrician is scheduled for Monday.
* Plumber will come for estimate on Monday and, if I've guessed right about the necessary hardware, might even get the work done.
* Refrigerator and washer/dryer purchased and scheduled for delivery next Saturday.
* Determined that molding installed on fridge location will need to be modified to allow fridge installation.
* Made contact with seller's gardening service -- he dropped by to schedule one more pre-paid session and I suggested we use the session to train me in the use of the automatic sprinkler system.

Today's tasks:

* Move the few remaining items from <lj user="kahnegabs">'s house and do some housecleaning there.
* Make a decision about which phone/internet/tv provider I'm going to use and make contact to schedule hookup.  (A daily Starbucks session for internet stuff that is awkward to do on a phone will get old quickly.)
* Get caught up on the financial paperwork and figure out my budget for Getting Stuff Done.
* Contact the furniture container people about delivery and the furniture unloading people about unloading.
* Fix the flat on my folding bike so I can use it tomorrow.
* Mow the lawn and deadhead the roses.

I'm sure a few other items will occur to me along the way.

House Meme

Jun. 25th, 2011 07:07 am
hrj: (Default)
It seems like an opportune time to do the "house meme" that's been floating around lately. Some of these questions will have two answers: "current" and "as planned/moved-in".

What type of home do you live in (house, mobile home, apartment, etc)

Do you live there with yourself or your family (however you define that) or do you have unaffiliated roomates?
By myself

How many levels or floors does your living space have?
One -- that was an extremely strong requirement.  When I analyzed my habits and patterns in the Oakland house, I realized that I didn't really fully inhabit two floors simultaneously -- I tended to fall into habits of always hanging out upstairs or always hanging out downstairs.  There were a number of other layout-related patterns I noticed that contributed to my shopping list.  The other big one was that I wanted as open a floor plan as possible because when I had separate activity-related spaces (e.g., for sewing, music) I tended either to not do the activity much or to take it to the main living area to do.  So my new house has essentially one big continuous room for the kitchen/dining/living/family area.  (The library will be in a separate room, but somehow I don't think that will discourage me from using it.)

Do you consider your home to be urban/suburban/semi-rural/rural?
Concord is definitely non-urban and most of it is solidly suburban, but out on the edges things get a bit semi-rural.  When I bike to the BART station along one of the canal paths, I hear a lot of backyard chickens.  And if you have the windows open at night in my part of town, you can year coyotes out in the open land at the Naval Weapons Station.  And, I will note, I live on "Farm Bureau" Road, which says a certain something about the history of the neighborhood.

What is the most dominate color throughout your home?
Current: yellow.  Planned: sage green and old rose.

What is on the front of your fridge right now?
Fridge has yet to be purchased.  Usual decorations involve cartoons, postcards, and magnetic poetry.

What is one of the oldest items in your home?
(After move in) Of the furniture, that would be either the secretary desk or the sewing cabinet that I inherited from my grandparents.  Of man-made objects in general (as opposed to old rocks), it would be the 1753 Welsh-English dictionary Antiqua Linguae Britannicae Thesaurus.

Whether big or small..what was the last item you purchased for your home? (not including groceries)
That would be "my home".

What is your favorite spot in your home?
I haven't had a chance to discover this yet.

What was your favorite thing about this home when you first looked at it?
The open floor plan (see previous discussion).

If money was no object what is the one thing you would change in your home?
Well, if money were no object I'd get the back garden whipped into shape a lot faster.  I can't think of much of anything else at the moment other than "move it to a slightly less busy street".  The street isn't too bad (and has a 4-way stop a block and a half in one direction and s stoplight a block and a half in the other, so things are fairly calm) but I'm glad I have an indoor cat these days.

How many chairs at your dining table?
Once I unload the furniture container there will be 8.  They don't necessarily always life a the dining table, though.

What color(s) are the sheets on your bed?
No sheets on the bed at the moment.

Do you have a "junk drawer"? Where?
You know, I haven't really tended to have one of these.  I try very hard to have an organized place for things and not end up with an "elsewhere" space.  When I do have a "junk drawer" it tends to be the dining room table.

The door you pass through most often: what room is that in?
The front door opens into the dining room.  The door to the garage opens to the kitchen ... no, wait, technically it opens to the "family room" (the part with the fireplace) but right next to the kitchen.  Once I've either located or obtained a remote control for my garage door opener, then I suspect that most of my ins and outs will be through the garage.

How many bedrooms do you have?
The official count is 3 bedrooms, however my count is 2 bedrooms and a library.

Not counting a sofa, do you have any guest beds (not necessarily guest bedrooms to go with them!)
(Current) No, I left the wall bed in the Oakland house (which was the right decision because it wouldn't have worked with my plans for the new guest bedroom).  (Planned) The guest bedroom will probably have a convertible sofa of some sort with a full-size mattress.  The living room sofa folds out to a queen-size bed.  Plenty of space for guests!

Is there a fuzzy cover on the lid of any toilet in your home? Are they anathema?
That would be a "no" for both (current) and (planned) states.  They are anathema.

How far do you have to drive to get to the nearest Wal Mart?
I don't know and I don't care.  I do, however, know exactly where the nearest Trader Joe's is, the three nearest Starbucks plus the preferred non-chain coffee shop, and the nearest Fry's Electronics.

How far do you have to go to the nearest library?
Other than "down the hall"?

Favorite piece of furniture in your home?
I don't think I have a favorite.

What would you call your decorating style?
Um ... I have a style?  I guess I'd call it "form follows function" with a strong splash of IKEA.

What relatively common American household furnishing would you definitely Not Want in your house, and why?
Hmm.  Not sure.
hrj: (Default)
I haven't been posting much lately, due to being busy with the process of packing up all my possessions, selling my house in Oakland, and shopping for a new house in Concord. If you've been following me on Facebook, you've gotten the blow-by-blow account. But the move-related posts here on Live Journal have all been locked down for several reasons, most of which are no longer applicable now that I have title to the Concord house. (When you're house-hunting, you never want to rave about how much you love a place anywhere the seller or seller's agent could possible read it.) So if this is the only place you read me and if you're not on my friends' list here, this may be your first opportunity to catch up with all the details. So to catch everyone up, here's a summary of the whole story-arc.

Read more... )
hrj: (Default)
I have a realtor. For realio trulio this time. When he comes back next week to look at the other units, he'll bring a representation contract for us to sign. I told him my context and rough game plan and he suggested a few tweaks and rearranged some of the to-dos. I listed my financial resources and goals and he opined that my "would make me very happy" ending balance not only was eminently doable but was probably not ambitious enough. His advice and projections were realistic and appropriately sprinkled with caveats. I think we'll deal well together. So now I ramp up the prep work and set the various "start of clock" items in motion. More details after I talk to the tenants.

Amusingly enough, after the e-mail correspondence with "Robin" I had it fixed in my head that the realtor was a woman. Wrong. And it isn't like I haven't known male Robins before.
hrj: (Default)
Friday I took my Geek High Holy Day vacation day to go to the MacWorld expo. Last year I grumbled that if the expo continued to be so thin on the ground I'd probably reconsider going. But it's hard to figure out whether it was a bit better this year or whether my starting expectations are now lower. At any event, it was enjoyable enough that I'm not ready to swear it off -- although I didn't end up buying anything at all.

The Big Thing this year was accessories for iPads (which, since I'm still waiting for rev. 2, I was only window-shopping for). I find it amusing that the biggest theme for these ultra-portable computing devices is accessories designed to fasten them in place. The stand-out single category was the case-plus-hand-strap so that you can walk around gesticulating violently with your iPad without sending it flying across the room. But there were also plenty of multi-valent fixtures to help you stand it up, strap it to the back of your car seat, fasten it to your refrigerator, sucker it to a wall, or attach it to your music/microphone stand. I went around taking note for future reference of various potentially useful iPad attachment devices, and even more so of truly elegant leather cases.

The big software vendors were still absent, but there was lot of opportunity to chat with small start-ups and purveyors of nifty apps. (Many of which need more training in how to pitch their products.) Other than external batteries and storage drives, there wasn't much in the way of hardware on display. I'd gone in thinking about shopping for a new desktop keyboard with a lighter action and nobody was even selling keyboards.

Saturday was the Crosston Dance Ball which is one of my two designated "haul out the harp and play medieval music" events these days. In addition to which, some unexpected attrition meant I was (I think) the only official Mists Courtier present to look after her highness (although there was plenty of unofficial help, so I pretty much just need to keep an eye out that everything got taken care of).

When I got home, I found a note stuck in the door from my tree-trimming guy who had been in the neighborhood and gone ahead and done the estimate for my job, so that was off the schedule for Sunday. The realtor came out Sunday morning and took a quick look through the other two units (which he hadn't seen on the first visit). I was a bit concerned at the briefness of his visit, but I think I'm at the paranoid stage where I'm expecting everything to go wrong.

After he left, I returned to bed for the rest of the day because the cold from earlier in the week had come back for the sinus portion of the festivities. (I sort of knew it was going to, but the in-between period was nowhere near debilitating enough to justify taking more time off work.)
hrj: (Default)
I had a very pleasant meeting yesterday with a realtor who I selected based on researching recent local sales on zillow. Nothing quite like a demonstrated record of selling items in my neighborhood for the sort of price I'm interested in. Based on the initial contact and look-round it seems like we may deal well together. We chatted about what sorts of buyers might be interested in a property like mine and what sorts of prep work would be needed to pitch to that sort of buyer. We also chatted about different budget levels. (For example, the benefits of being able to offer a completely empty and totally refurbished property versus my ability to cover the mortgage without rental income for however long it would take.) His approach is to draw up plans for several levels of staging, so we'll see. A lot would depend on how quickly the property would move and that's not very predictable. At any rate, he's quite confident that I can get the sort of price I have in mind, and definitely has in mind a complete clear-out of my unit for the staging, so I'm back on track with packing things up.

On the down side, I took yesterday off sick (so no friendly hand-shakes with the realtor!) and other than the hour of showing the house I spent the day in bed, mostly sleeping, occasionally sipping chicken broth. Nothing much -- just a sore throat and feverish. Roused enough in the evening to do the taxes only to find that there's one schedule still being revised and I can't submit until Monday. Well, it won't be that much delay in the refunds, but still annoying.
hrj: (Default)
Emptied another file drawer. The "get rid of all but one filing cabinet" project is going forward no matter what happens on the real estate front. It's fascinating to contemplate the half-life of "important papers". Eventually, everything becomes obsolete and irrelevant. It's comforting, in a way, that decisions that may seem nerve-wracking today may be crystal clear in five years. There will be no more linguistics undergrads popping up in my in-box asking me to dig through my memory of their classwork in order to provide a recommendation letter. The receipts and presentation handouts from the conference in Paris are long since irrelevant. And, as previously noted, there's no point at all in saving the hard-copy printouts of my dissertation data when I have the original computer files. (Although it occasionally reminds me that I should at least leave the world the legacy of the tidied up database of Medieval Welsh preposition data.) On the other hand, I found some things stuffed into the file folders that had no business being treated as old reference materials (e.g., the commercial pattern for the Boksten Man's clothing that I bought back in '99 in Denmark). This is why I actually look through the files before tossing them in recycling.

My excessively-over-engineered integrated financial tracking database has passed its next test: rolling over to the new year. There are certain features built into the files that assume each year's data will get archived out of the working file. Well, ok, one is a feature and one is a bug. The cumulative budgeting figures (i.e., whether I'm on-target for the categories with a specific budgeted amount) work off a "total in-category divided by day-of-year" so there's an awkward period between the start of the new year and the point when the old data gets archived when a year-plus's expenses get divided by just the "plus" number of days. The bug is that some of the internal complexity of the files makes navigation start to get r---e-----a-----l-------l---------y slow as more and more records are added. For most data entry it doesn't cause problems, but when I want to review the running balance for one of the sub-accounts, I'd better have a solitaire game handy.

I haven't done the full end-of-year financial analysis yet, but I'm delighted to find that I stayed under all but one of my tracked budget categories. (The one I missed on was "office supplies". Not sure if I would have been on-target if I hadn't had to buy a new laptop. Also, I was on-target for "food" only if you combine the sub-categores "groceries" and "prepared food". I went under on the former and over on the latter, but only by small amounts.) Since the budget tracking is something I use as a reference reality-check, rather than having unbreakable set-asides, this means that I've internalized my budget targets sufficiently.

And I believe I have all the paperwork and data necessary to do my taxes! So that's a project for tomorrow.
hrj: (Default)
Just as I was getting changed at the gym, I got a phone call from my possibly-now-ex realtor saying that he'd taken an initial look at comparable properties and concluded I don't have any equity in my house. I told him I didn't believe it -- not in an "I'm in denial" sense but in an "I've done my groundwork already" sense. He said he'd e-mail me the comparison. So I spent my entire workout in a major funk but came out of it with a fatalistic resignation. It's not as if I've done anything expensively irrevocable yet.

But then when I got home and look at his "comparable properties" the only thing they had in common was being triplexes. They were scattered all over West Oakland -- all in worse neighborhoods than mine (and some in really really crappy neighborhoods). Whereas when you look at my immediate neighborhood, properties significantly smaller than mine have recently sold for noticeably more than his "comparable triplexes". So I'm just not buying it. I suggested that I might have more luck with someone more familiar with the immediate territory and am pursuing other options.

Who knows? Maybe I'm wrong and I'm stuck with it (in which case I'll have to put on my Big Girl Panties and make certain changes). But I definitely think his cursory price comparison is crap.


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