Monday, July 30, 2007

We're back from six days in Wisconsin for my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. We began our drive Sunday at 5:30 a.m. and were back in St. Louis by 1:30. My nephew had a seven a.m. flight out of Appleton, so we left early to get him on his plane. All of my siblings and their spouses and children were there at my parent's farm (27 immediate family members)- lots of fun and family. I am exhausted and I slept from seven until midnight, but now I am wide awake and reading HP - I'm in the battle near the end and something sad just happened. I actually have to work tomorrow, but I guess a person just needs to stay up all night and read sometimes.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sale-ing sale-ing over the winding sea:

Yesterday we had our moving sale, at the end of which we decided to spend part of today… having a moving sale. The weather was uncharacteristically nice yesterday and so people were out enjoying it rather than buying other people’s crap. We did ok, but the prospect of packing and moving all of our sale stuff is most daunting indeed. I am as yet unresolved on the donation debate. I think it might be more time and value effective to donate everything unwanted to Goodwill for the tax deduction and the support of that organization. In any case, we shall try again today to divest the rest from nine until noon as that was the time of yesterday’s peak attendance.

Beth is the most avid Potter fan among us. She did not sleep the night the book came out. Instead, she waited in line until two something and then started reading. She was close to halfway through by sale’s end yesterday. We got our copy last night from David. One of his booksellers reserved it for him. Jes must have stayed up late as she is on 386 already. I’m using our offset schedules to start it and am three chapters in. Perhaps few people came to our sale because they were all on their porch swings reading Potter. Perhaps.


Friday, July 20, 2007

I brought another two loads of stuff over from the house today before Jes woke up. I’m am trying to get a few big jobs done everyday while she is sleeping so that she’s not tempted to overdue it. We are well into the third trimester now and the energy she had during the second trimester is on the wane. Elliot is kicking a fair amount and seems to have a super power involving shifting his density at will – he vacillates between being light as a feather and then morphing into lead. It’s cool to have a kid with super powers.

When we were at Brad’s lake house I felt the baby kick for the first time. He also did this elbow slide where you could watch where he was going. We have a gizmo that you can put against Jes’ belly so that you can hear the heartbeat, but mostly we hear him moving around. The gizmo came with software to upload a digital recording of the heartbeat to the computer, so maybe I’ll do that in a few weeks when the sound is louder.

I guess I best be off to clean at the apartment. People will be arriving today with stuff for the sale and the apartment needs to be ready for them. Are you coming to buy our overflow on Saturday? With all the glass and ceramics it looks more like a gallery than a garage sale.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!


The move, the move, the move is on fire. We don’t need no water let the MGHFGHF FKGJKJH burn. I am a little burned out on moving, we’ve been at this for eight days now. We had many friends come help us last Saturday, but I have still brought over several truck loads a day since then.

Voice off camera: Well, that’s what you get for owning too much crap.

I guess we haven’t talked in awhile, so we need to get caught up. When last we left our intrepid pair they were about to buy a house, but there was a fly in the closing process. We closed a week late because of failed gas inspections, but got a brand new water heater out of the deal. When we closed we brought 1600 to a 2700 dollar party. By moving the closing past the fifth of the month we had another round of prepays in taxes etc. We have been living on fumes (credit cards) since then. But all is well, I get paid tomorrow and our first loan payment isn’t due until September 1st. Damn you Lowe’s and your inviting selection of must have items.

We’ve been simultaneously moving truckloads of belongings from the old apartment, unpacking, decorating, repairing and cleaning both the old and new places. I’ll hazard the guess that we are now 91% moved. The washing machine and portable dishwasher still need to come over, as well as the shelves that we’ve left behind to hold things for the moving sale. Oh, and our clothes, they are still hanging in the closet while we live out of random laundry baskets. As we unpack we are finding more things to sell and then actually moving them back to the old place because we are dumb.

We have internet and cable TV now. I haven’t had cable in years. I think we might need TeVo just to sort out what we want to watch from all the endless crap. We had an odd installation drama. Our cable installer just left in the middle of the job. He ran a line from the alley, gave me a cable box with remote, plugged in the internet modem (but didn’t get it working), and vanished. After an hour of wondering where he was, I hooked up the cable myself in the basement – there was no usable signal.

After several phone calls to charter I got the cousin of the vanishing installer (welcome to the south side) over here to complete the job. He got one TV and the internet working, stepping in dog crap in the process, and told me that either he or his vanishing cousin would be back to hook up our other televisions today. I feel for the guy, he got shit on twice – once metaphorically by an unreliable cousin that he had to cover for and once literally by my dog. As he left, in one tennis shoe and one sandal, with his soiled shoe wrapped up in newspaper, he philosophically observed, “It’s best to let these things dry and chip them out later when they’ve had time to crust.” That is some rich advice there.

Installer number two was a cool guy and honestly I hope the cousin is ok, something serious must have happened to a friend or family member for him to just take off in the middle of a job. Alternately, I did have to show him how to get to the basement more than once, so the cousin may have been working under the influence and ditched the job on some paranoia trip. Anyway, I’ll have to fill you in on our doings at some other time, I’ve got moving to do.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Shameless Advertisment:

Hey - we're having a moving sale at 3814 Humphrey on Saturday - from 7 am to 3 pm - there will be lots of glass and ceramics - and many other fine items - this is a multi-family sale with stuff from us, my sister Sandy, Beth, Brad, Vanessa, Mira, and our landlady Kathy. Come one come all and buy our flotsum!!!! (jetsum is extra)


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Nested thoughts prior to nesting:

It’s raining and I am stealing turkey and “the internets” from my in-laws (the pluralizing of “internet” is one of my favorite Bush-isms from the Kerry debates – I was heckling from my couch and yelled something at the screen about my surprise that there was more than one). I have finally gotten around to all my new-hire paperwork for my new job (allow four to six weeks for processing). I was up at The Circus today raiding my predecessor’s files as per her instructions and discovered, when chatting with my principal, that my immediate supervisor (who I have not yet and probably never will work for) has quit for an assistant principal’s position in another district. One wonders, as one of six new hires (now seven), if the rats are coming or going on this particular ship. I got Kim an interview for Thursday to see if I can begin to pad the team with my cronies – actually she is highly qualified for the opening as it is in her specialization. It’s always nice to see workplace stability when buying a new house. My father told me that he thought my higher salary in this district was in part hazard pay. We’ll see.

We’ve been trying to keep busy so our living out of boxes experience is mitigated by a little living. We went and saw Transformers last night and thought it was fun as summer no-brainers go. On DVD we watched Gosford Park and the first two installments of the National Geographic series Guns, Germs, and Steel. The documentaries are based on Jared Diamond’s book of the same title, which I read (listened to on tape) in the spring. I think his thesis is correct – you’ll have to check it out and get back to me. His critics think he oversimplifies, but Occam would disagree on principle – I think it’s an elegant little number from which many interesting extrapolations follow (location, location, location). Essentially he asks and answers a simple question about inequality in the modern distribution of goods by looking back at the latitude advantage of Europeans in the transmission of agricultural technology (high protein wheat and barley allowing greater specialization within the tribal unit) and disease resistance, predicated upon large animal domestication and uniformity of climate across numerous cultural groups. Anyway, check it out and get back to me. When I graduated undergrad I was one course away from an anthropology minor. The interest persists.

Jes and I are trading off on Netflix titles – lately, she gets films and I get documentaries, though I did get The Prestige and Volver after The Fog of War. We’d done a number of TV series and have the second season of the new Dr. Who in the queue. I’ve been teaching Jes how to play Axis and Allies, which is basically Risk on crack, so if you’re up for a game let us know. We’re also trying to track down a good domino set as Mexican Train was all the rage at the lake.

I’ve been working on the car a bit – or paying others to. We have four new tires, fresh oil, and a flushed out transmission to our credit. It’s hard to believe that our new car has almost 40,000 miles on it already. Those country roads took the back tires down to the steel.

We close on the house at nine a.m. tomorrow. Wish us luck.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Update… we don’t have the internets at home anymore. We were down in the Ozarks with Brad and friends during the week, and while we were away something went haywire at home. The guy in India on the helpline couldn’t fix it and he put in a work order – whatever is messing up the DSL is external to the apartment. I’m going to call off the work order tomorrow as we are dropping AT&T. We can’t transfer the DSL as there is no service at the new address; we are three blocks south of the availability line. They suggested that I order an airliner card for wireless from their partner Xingular, which oddly I did, but I am going to send it back as it sucks. I think we’ll try wireless through Dish Network.

We haven’t closed on the house yet as there has been some drama – our original close date was last Monday. As you might expect there is a long story attached to the delayed close, the short version is that they are buying us a new water heater and C02 venting system. When that work is done (Wednesday morning) we will close. We’re only a week and a half behind schedule. The hard part is that we are mostly packed and living out of and amid towers of boxes. Good thing we had a vacation to go on so that we didn’t just sit home and nurse our crazy.

The people we are buying the house from are first time (probably/hopefully last time) home rehabbers. They have done some things very well. All four gas appliances failed as they didn’t hook them up correctly. It’s good not to blow up. Most of their work is over the top good – just not the gas. We had it in our contract that they had to fix anything related to the gas inspection. They are.

How are you all? Questions?


Monday, July 02, 2007

In other news... we bought this (hyperlink) at an estate sale over the weekend - minus the fringe on the pockets. It's the nine foot, one inch slate model. We got it for considerably less than the asking price. As shown here, the retail is 4k. The seller wanted 1,200. We put in a much lower bid in the bid box and walked away thinking that the bid was a lark, that surely someone else would either buy it or outbid us. Then they called and we had to come up with the money - so birthdays and Christmas are taken care of. We both wanted it, love to play pool, and have space for it in our game room. The timing could have been better, but it's still a score.


Yeah well, the best laid plans of mice and gardeners often get hung up by Laclede Gas inspectors. David and Mira both took a few days off work so they could help us tame our new garden. That plan was based on us closing today. That plan was based on passing all inspections. The sellers offered to handle city and gas inspections for us – how nice – and then the scheduled them as close to close as humanly possible. The city inspection was last week, and we passed. The Gas inspection was Friday and four items failed.

We want him to fix all problems and we want them fixed within seven days or he is paying for our movers – we are now under a time crunch. Good luck hiring contractors over the Fourth of July. If he can get them he’ll pay through the teeth on the rush. We’ve punted closing to either Friday or Monday if he is able to get the work done and have it re-inspected. We are having some trust issues as regards both his word and his workmanship. If he can get the work done and if he can get it re-inspected, we will bring our pen to the table.

None of the issues are major; they are all simple things that a competent rehabber would know to do. Example: gas stoves are no longer as heavy as they once were. The building code requires that you anchor the stove to the wall so that it doesn’t tip over when you place an eighteen pound turkey on a pulled out oven rack. We found the wall anchors that come with the stove in the drawer with the owners manual – ah guys, you missed a piece.

The delay is mostly frustrating because of the time off that David and Mira took. It’s too late to do anything about that now. We can only hope that we can close before the weekend, but I think that is a long shot.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Holy Crap!!!


Dreaming In Enga:

Well, I got to sleep in until five a.m. today. It’s nice to get a full night’s rest. No Uncle Bill’s for me, our landlady is having us up for a farewell brunch on her deck at eleven. I went up to the bank yesterday morning and got a cashier’s check for our closing costs. Mary, Jason, and many others warned me about the closing cost switcher, where the good faith estimate is shown to be mediocre on the faith scale. The curve ball wasn’t too bad, about three hundred more than we’d been told, as one of our three month pre-pays has been shifted to nine. The up side of the escrow is that it’s still our money, simply held in trust for things we are going to have to pay anyway; the down side is that the bank gets the interest. Most of the four K from the Missouri grant is going into escrow, helpful and simultaneously depressing.

We met our realtor at a house she was showing up the street from us. We liked her immediately. She and her father had rehabbed that particular property and she’d lived in it while they were fixing it up. They’d done good work on the rehab and we liked the house, it was just too small for us. I drove by the place where we met her yesterday and she has a new sign out front advertising the same state program that we used for our loan. I laughed, as we had told her about the program. Some college friends, Mark and Daryl, used it to buy their first starter house. The place we are buying is not a starter home – it’s a stay in home.

Are you sick of hearing about the house, the manse, the manor, the main machination of our monetary movement (“Mensa musing” got me started on M alliteration)? We have been doing other things you know. We went to estate sales yesterday and got Jes a rocking chair for rocking the baby and me a small smoking stand that matches my grandmother’s chair for me to…put stuff on. This house is going to take so many of our resources to manage that if you want to see us, you’ll have to just come over.

My brother Phil raised his three children on the philosophy that if his house was the coolest house on the block, then he wouldn’t have to worry about what his kids were getting into at other people’s houses. I am a fan of both the fun and the philosophy implicit in this theory. We shall thus endeavor to make our home worthy of your patronage. We spent last night playing Tiger Woods golf on the Wii. It’s like that golf demo game that came with the Wii, only on crack. We made people (avatars as Vanessa likes to call them) that look like us (gut - booty and all) and then played the first nine holes of the PGA tour. The putting is a little touchy, but otherwise it’s a great game.

Oh, yesterday I also got an eight-millimeter film projector that still works for five bucks. I am currently having my parents wedding and our early years in New Guinea converted from eight millimeter to DVD as a surprise for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary – I can use the projector to pretend that we are going to watch them in the original format and then surprise my folks and siblings with DVD copies. We could also obviously use the projector to watch the films if we wanted to. I still have my parent’s old Kodak camera, so we could even make films for the thing if we were feeling all retro some weekend.

None of my siblings or family in general has seen these films since the mid-seventies.
I’ve only recently seen them as stills on the light table while Jes & I were deciding want order to put them in on the DVD. One of the films is of a tribal war – we opted not to include that on the anniversary gift DVD. My mother has this story of a war that happened while my father was away and a wounded man came into our house with a barbed arrow through his leg. He asked for her help and as the barbs would not allow retraction she had to push it all the way through his leg to get it out. You can see why I had planned to spend part of the summer taking notes to begin a book about our experiences. That anecdote is the proverbial iceberg’s tip.

There is a reunion for all the missionaries that were on station with us back then being held this summer here in St. Louis. My folks will be down for it in August and staying with us in our new guest room. I went to the reunion a few years ago and listened to stories about how the tribal wars continue, only with submachine guns and shotguns instead of stone axes and arrows. My oldest sister had gone back and taught for a year in the highland school where she had gone as a girl. We’ve since learned that the school was burned to the ground in yet another war. At one point all Western buildings were burned on one of the stations where we had lived except our home, as my father has headman status. They didn’t want to make him angry.

It’s more than odd to be part of place, a culture, to still discuss it and be discussed within that culture, to know that my father has headman status that protects some world war two Quonset hut, and yet to live at such a remove in time and geography. For me, writing a book about all this will be an exercise in solving an unsolvable riddle – making sense, if only through telling the stories, of who we are as a family. I think I may have just started it…