davidn: (rabbit)
After a month-long ordeal, we've finished the nursery in our house and it's ready for the baby to move in!

One of the strange things about this house when we moved into it was that it had a third bedroom on the upper floor that wasn't shown in any of the photos that the estate agent provided. And when we looked at it, it was easy to see why - the room was entirely clad in wood and had two beds built into the floor, taking away all the space and making it look not so much a friendly bedroom as a room that a mortician might use to prepare bodies. But it had potential, and so with no experience in redecorating, we set about transforming it.

This was what the room looked like at the start, with some tape around the ceiling and windows in anticipation of the painting that was to come. Some of these photos might accidentally give the impression that the wood had charm to it, but in reality it just made the room perpetually dreary. But that wasn't the worst problem with it...

With the help of my father- and brother-in-law, we demolished the fixed box-bed-slabs and threw their bits in the back garden. You wouldn't believe just how much wood there was in these things - far more than you would think necessary to support someone's weight, and we've still to arrange taking it away or cutting it up to use as firewood. That was the first struggle, and it revealed another difficulty - whoever had installed these had removed entire sections of the wall and floor to accommodate them. They're not even just taken off cleanly - they've been sawn through, exposing the bare floor and insulation behind them. I can't imagine how the person responsible never thought, during the lengthy procedure of putting these in, that it would be easier to just buy a couple of beds.

At the end of the first day of their visit, after a trip to Home Depot that lasted several hours and a lot of work on top of that, we got to here - drywall has been mounted on the giant gaps left by the beds and it's been spackled in. My father-in-law also bought a load of tools to assist with the suddenly-elongated job of redecorating the room, and said to consider them a birthday present!

The process of filling in the gaps in the floor was a much more tedious slog, cutting planks of flooring to fit, nailing them down and progressing slowly row by row. It took all day, but the end results were two filled-in floor sections and this apocalyptic mess.

After clearing that up, it was finally time to prepare the room for painting - a couple of days later than we had thought, and with the family back in California by now, we were on our own without extra help for this. I taped off the borders and put down a plastic sheet to cover the newly patched floor, but didn't realize that the air vent on the ground in the corner would cause it to inflate like a bouncy castle.

After cutting a hole for the vent to breathe and spending a day rolling primer on to the walls, I was successful in making the room look significantly worse. It looks patchy and awful but all it needs to do is get paint to stick to it - and if you try to ignore how shabby it looks, ou can already see that the room looks a lot brighter as a result.

This is more like it! It took three coats of the yellow paint and a large effort from both of us to get it to be really convincing, but the room was beginning to come together now.

With the painting over, we could take up the plastic at last, and installed some new lights to replace the weird boat-wheel themed ones that used to be in the room. (Yes, only one works. I'm still looking into that.) Whitney had the idea of putting some fabric on to the lower wall to act as a skirting-board - I don't know where that came from, but the result looks great and provides a softer surface for a toddler's head to crash into. She put together the pieces and we tacked them up with a staple-gun.

Then it was my turn again, adding a painted wooden trim around the top of the fabric. With a length of general-purpose rail from Home Depot and the tools left with me by the floor-cutting stage, I was able to feel my way into fashioning some pretty convincing ninety-degree joins.

With that task finished, the scraps from it cleared up and a rug-pad put down, the room was finally ready to receive its furniture...

...which arrived today! This is a collection of new furniture, things that Whitney's family handed down to us and some great finds from people in the surrounding area who were trying to get rid of their old stuff. It's beginning to feel very real now - this room will be occupied in something like seven weeks' time!
davidn: (rabbit)

And so, at the end of a completely and utterly exhausting weekend, we have a new computer space in the semi-finished basement! There’s so much more space it’s incredible.

The sofa came from my brother in law and I was always afraid to actually touch it for fear of a swarm of bees suddenly flooding out of it or something, but the cover has made it much more attractive. Although the instructions said it went on taut and attractive, rather than making it look like an elephant that hasn’t been ironed.

The music book currently on the keyboard may reveal how far behind I am on my practice.
davidn: (skull)
Whitney's away for a few days and there are going to be some changes around here! I've started by resolving to clean out the fridge - we do this occasionally, but there's always the layer next to the wall at the back beyond the stuff you actually use, where things gradually get pushed and forgotten about and nobody dares to look.

Today, I dared to look. And I found:
  • A jar of mould with a small layer of apple sauce at the bottom
  • Flaccid vegetables
  • A Tupperware container of indistinct horribleness (assumed to have once been fish)
  • Extremely overly sour cream
  • Sour cream (was unfortunately meant to be just whipped)
  • Surprisingly intact jam
  • Liquid watermelon
  • Cheese dated last month
  • Cheese dated last year
  • Cheese dated 2011
  • Cheese that I'm unsure was meant to be intentionally blue
  • The remains of King Louis XIV
  • THIS
  • Putrefaction
  • Decay
  • Rot
  • Pestilence
  • Death
  • Tofu
  • Various fruit cups (sources unknown)
  • Some of those little tubs of liquid from Chinese restaurants (sauces unknown)
  • Three jars containing one pickle each
  • A lone, sad sausage
  • A burning sensation on my fingers after having to handle all of the above

I feel proud of the achievement, but unfortunately the fridge doesn't even look cleaner now because all the stuff that was thrown out was in the depths of despair at the back where you never see it anyway. Perhaps I'll shove a couple of cardboard boxes in there just to keep the fridge space down to an amount that's actually usable.

Next time, the rest of the kitchen.
davidn: (skull)
I'm pretty unimpressed with our new neighbours just now. We have a unit at the end of a row of about eight houses, and for almost two years, the two houses next to us were empty - but now the one right next to us has been sold to a young couple about our age. We were very pleased to meet them - they seem like great people and it's nice to know someone in the village who isn't at least three hundred years old - but it's going to be strange hearing people coming up our front path and moving about right next to us.

And we'll get used to the occasional noise from the stairs, but last night they were hammering multiple things into our shared wall - I knew that they were painting the rooms and I was prepared to forgive some DIY work up until the time when people would reasonably be expected to be in bed, but I couldn't believe it when the hammering started again at 11pm. I believe there's a special place in hell reserved for people who do that, just between minicab drivers and people who speak along to the actors in films.

In the morning, the reason for their haste to finish became apparent - a hardwood flooring van drew up at about half past seven and they immediately set to work with a floor-destroyer machine thing. With a hideous grinding noise going on right next to us I was initially worried about our shared wall's inability to shut out any noise at all, but when we stepped outside I was actually quite impressed - it was loud enough to be heard at the other end of the street and the wall had been masking it down to a merely slightly unbearable level.

Now that the carpets have been ripped out, that's at least one noisy building project out of the way - but I came home this afternoon to find that our house stank of floor sealant or turpentine or something. I've opened the windows and turned fans on, and am just having to speculate as to what exciting lung disease I'll have when I wake up.
davidn: (rant)

Whenever I see one of these on the front door from a distance, I always have the most irrational pang of panic that somebody's issued my house a parking ticket.
davidn: (skull)
After going into the office at 7am yesterday to get some last-minute things prepared for a demonstration, I enjoyed a comparatively massive evening and was looking forward to a more leisurely-paced morning today. What actually happened was that I came downstairs and went into the kitchen, immediately thinking that the washing machine was sounding a bit loud. Then I realized that I was the first one up and nobody could have put the washing machine on.

Then I found this.

The water heater had burst and for an unknown amount of time that night, had been absolutely Glasgowing water out its back and into the basement. Oddly, even though I'm normally easily stressed, I was sufficiently tired for my reaction to be more along the lines of "Oh, that probably shouldn't be happening", twiddled some of the valves at random to see if I could stop the tide, and was then able to Google a reputable plumber straight from my phone - it's at times like these that I really appreciate living in 2012. Fifteen minutes later, they immediately saw that the bottom had just given out due to its age, and came round and installed a replacement - it only cost us $1000, far less than I had thought for a new heater and emergency installation, and hopefully it'll be the last we have to spend on it for at least the warranty period of six years.

Considering the office space is in the basement, we had surprisingly little damage - we have concrete floors with rugs on them, which proved super-absorbent as the water miraculously didn't quite reach the computer. Meanwhile, the sump pump was going at it like mad, and when I looked outside at the grate in our front garden, water was shooting up out of it with the drain cover balanced on the top of the fountain, like in cartoons when someone runs into a fire hydrant. Next door, though, seemed to actually get the worst of it - fortunately nobody lives there just now and we've just about been able to clean up all the evidence before the estate agent comes round to see what's going on.

Now I really need a shower.


Oct. 7th, 2010 04:02 pm
davidn: (skull)
Paraphrasing slightly:
Thank you for installing Adobe Flash Player 10.x . Your hard drive is 12% fragmented, and we recommend that you download this tool to increase your computer's efficiency:

What the hell are you doing poking about on my hard drive? I relented and allowed you to install something after your incessant badgering - put it down and go away, don't critique the wallpaper while you're in there. It's bad enough that you now have to actively tell things that you don't want an Ask toolbar installed into IE, or a free McAfee scan during the download. It's becoming more and more expected that if you're on Windows, it does what other people want it to rather than what you do - drop your guard for a second and you'll get all sorts of garbage you don't want piled into your operating system.

In a vaguely comparable real-life story, I've also found out this week that the National Grid in America shows exactly the same model of efficiency that you would expect from the GASMAAAAAAAAN in Britain - over the past few weeks there had been a barrage of phone calls with them insisting that they had to set up an appointment to replace the gas meter, and I'd always passed them off to the condo association, who had to get them to guarantee that they could only do it in place of the current one and not modify the outside of the building. With that sorted out, they phoned me again, finally set up a date on which they would come and do it, I stayed at home yesterday to let them in and they didn't grant me the courtesy of turning up.
davidn: (rabbit)
After Whitney also sighted the mouse, who sauntered into the living room like he owned the place while the television was on (destroying my theory about him not having been seen before because he would only come out when the house was perfectly quiet) we ordered a trap from Amazon. The one that we got is a long clear-green plastic thing designed to look like a house, with two ends - one is a door that's removable from the top only by human hands, and the other is the trap. When pressure is put on a platform near the other end, a door springs up from inside to catch whatever took the bait inside until the other door is removed manually.

This is a humane mouse trap - as an example of the kind of slush that only the Americans are really capable of, the front of the box honestly reads "Do we have to kill the mouse, Mommy? - No, honey, the earth is big enough for all of us". Welcome to Bleurgh City. And inside, after thanking you for being a kindhearted person, the instruction booklet is also irritatingly hippy (and full of typos):

This allows the mouse to escape without panic, so its survival in the outdoors is more assured. It si [sic] a joy to see a mouse escape, and to realize its life has been spared. This lesson in compassion is best shared with a child!

Before it's devoured by a fox twenty minutes later. Anyway, I set this up when it arrived, baiting it with a pinch of oats and some Honey Nut Cheerios, and left it on the kitchen floor underneath a cupboard that I'd seen it run towards on Monday.

After spending far too long on the Internet as usual, I went to bed at about midnight, and lay awake for a bit trying to forget about listening for the trap, telling my over-aware brain that the noises I heard were just doors being opened and closed next door and that I would be able to check it in the morning. Then, after about ten minutes, I heard an unmistakable plasticy snapping noise, and sat up, waking up Whitney as I said I thought I'd heard it.

Die Maus im Haus
When I dragged the trap out from under the cupboard, inside was the little brown mouse - I was surprised at how clean, sleek and quite adorable it looked compared to the bedraggled look I had expected from a wild scavenging animal. It was running from one end of the enclosure to the other searching for an exit, had already scoffed the entirety of the bait that I had left out, and I had read that they can easily die of panic if you leave them too long, so I resolved to go out and set it free immediately in the only non-built-up space within walking distance.

So I shambled down to the graveyard at half past midnight, feeling a bit like I was going out to dig up some body parts for Dr. Stein, with a torch in one hand and the trap in the other - the mouse banged about from one end to the other at first, but had calmed down by the time I got there. I walked some way into the darkness before setting the trap down near a tree and opening it up, but the mouse stayed inside. I turned the torch off for a moment and then on again to see if it would go in the darkness, but it was still there - but as I leaned a little closer it honestly launched out of the box, going about six feet before landing, and ran off into the night on a Cheerios-induced sugar high that I hope didn't end with it killing every other creature in the cemetery.

I set the trap up again when I returned, and wasn't really any less restless listening for it throughout the rest of the night - but when I woke up, it was still baited and open, so hopefully he was the only one.
davidn: (Jam)
I'm glad that people appreciated my non-story of what dinner was like last night - I had been planning to set up a post like that for some time, ever since I was sitting on the sofa with my awful dinner and shortened finger two weeks ago and thinking about how days alone would be better planned so that they were survivable. Unfortunately, it was a lie - or at least it didn't tell the whole truth, and the answer to [livejournal.com profile] ravenworks' question of whether I ever have normal dinners is probably a resounding "no".

You see, there is a moose, and furthermore, it seems to be loose aboot this hoose. I first noticed it when I saw a dark cloud zoom across the kitchen floor and back out of the corner of my eye when I was working at the dining table. At first I thought it might be an earwig because we'd had a couple of those when we first moved in, but it was far too big and too fast unless it was the King of the Land of Earwigs himself. I decided that it was probably my imagination.

Then I looked again when messaging [livejournal.com profile] lupineangel, and there it was - a small dark brown thing, not nearly as nice-looking as you might have been led to believe, staring back at me from the wooden floor. As we made eye contact it took off again under a cupboard, leaving me to incoherently type "MOUSE" for a few lines before calming down and trying to decide what to do about it.

He suggested peanut butter in a very Elmer Fudd style trap of a shoebox, pencil and bit of string, but we don't have any of that, and I decided it probably wasn't worth it to spend my evening that way - besides, those cartoons always involved him shooting himself in the face with a hunting rifle, and that's even worse than anything I've done to myself in the kitchen. I couldn't find it by shining a torch under the counters, and when the pizza arrived, I resolved to just forget about it and plan another day (though I have a big tub ready to throw over it if I get the chance).

So we'll have to try mousetraps or something (this also solves a mystery that we had earlier on when a bait station we hadn't bought suddenly appeared in the middle of the kitchen floor one day - it must have been kicked out from under a cupboard by him.) And Whitney's been wanting a cat for ages - perhaps this is a reason to finally get one, so that he can try to catch it while we're out with some sort of elaborate arrangement involving the ironing board, a cheese grater, and an anvil suspended from the ceiling.

Door Wars

Jun. 25th, 2010 04:04 pm
davidn: (skull)
Did I ever mention how much trouble we had with the door to the guest bedroom when we moved in? The previous owners had taken it off its hinges to make a doorless office upstairs, but because we're going to use it as an actual guest bedroom, we wanted to replace it.

And it was rather a lot more difficult than we thought. We bought hinges on the way up to the house in one of our DIY missions before we moved in, and successfully attached them to the door, but then we found that we couldn't scrape the existing hinges out from where they'd been riveted into the frame. We tried to remove the rods from the hinges we'd bought so we could just put half of them on the door, but we didn't have the right tools and they weren't the right size to match up with the other halves on the frame anyway. In an attempt to get around the problem, we hit on the idea of taking the door from the basement - which we didn't want to leave up - and we spent a lot of time (and a lot of WD40) banging out the rods from those hinges. With the door finally off, we hauled it upstairs, struggled it into position on the hinges, and then realized that the basement door had been the other way round and so the door hovered about two inches away from the frame.

Just after we'd moved in, we decided on a more organized plan. When I was at the local hardware place getting a couple of screws for the light fixture battle, I got some hinges that had explicilty removable rods, and were definitely the right size to fit into the existing titanium-welded hinge halves on the door frame. After some persuasion with a hammer and a leftover screw, we finally got the rods out of them, using the door as a temporary vice. And, after manhandling the door into position once again, persuading it on to the hinges and spreading some more WD40 on to the cracked and ancient paint, we hammered the new rods through and secured the whole thing in position. Finally, we had a door on the guest bedroom.

Then we closed it. )


Jun. 19th, 2010 08:23 pm
davidn: (rabbit)
In between the flurry of often overambitious DIY-related tasks we've been doing this weekend, we've finally met the people we're living next door to - this was yet another task that we failed at the last weekend we were here, as we had heard movement next door while we were smashing hammers on door hinges, but when we went round nobody answered the door... I'd been terrified that they'd stalked off for a walk being unable to stand the new neighbours.

But it turns out we're next to a nice woman who's beginning to pack up to move out in a couple of months. For the moment she's the perfect neighbour for people who are setting up a house, one of whom is a metal listener (and player, technically, though I'm not exactly very good) - because she's quite hard of hearing, so we're unlikely to annoy her all that much through the shared wall during our time here.

We'd already seen our neighbour across the path on the other side, a young man with a motorbike, because he'd been outside when we first arrived to do the walkthrough the morning we bought the place. As it happens, among the mountains of junk mail we got in our first in-person delivery of post yesterday was a subscription extension card for a very naughty magazine that was meant to go to him - I took it round and pushed it under his door rather than introduce myself with "Hello, this is yours!" We'll meet him properly later.

We had also been stealing wireless Internet from the nice old lady next door until this morning, when the Comcast man came around and spent a while here setting up the television and our modem and router. The office downstairs is pretty much complete now, and the USB wireless receiver I got four years ago is finally coming in useful for the first time - my desktop is set up and running, and I finally have a working computer again. And 328 new emails.
davidn: (ace)
We lived in Brookline this morning... now we don't. I felt exhausted just watching the move going on, even though we'd hired movers to prevent any exertion ourselves.

At 8:30 this morning, three men from the removals place came in and looked around the flat to see what needed to be taken up, we provided them with some drinks from the fridge, and then the pile of boxes that had built up over the last month quickly vanished upstairs into their van. I thought that they were going to finish in record time and that our lift to the house would be nowhere near arriving by the time they finished, but the furniture took a bit longer - the biggest difficulty was undoubtedly the three-seater sofa, which needed to go around a tight corner and then up a flight of stairs due to not fitting in the lift, but they managed the manoeuvre without even breaking the landing light (an achievement which instantly makes them much better than the people who moved it in).

We dashed over to the new house getting a sandwich and more juice on the way, and arrived five seconds before the van did - they managed to back a removals lorry into our car parking space at the front of the house in a very airport-like procedure. After that, I was impressed at their speed while running in and out with all the layers of boxes that had built up inside it - even the heaviest ones filled with books - one of them came in and asked Whitney "Where do you want ze box of cement?". Our agent, who is one of the most wonderful people in the world, even came around with a bag of groceries from a family-run shop around the corner to start us off in the new house. The movers were only around for about three hours in the morning and two in the afternoon, a miraculously fast transformation of our lives.

The only sticking point during the whole move was when the moving people's leader decided that it looked impossible to get the smallest sofa into the basement, saying of the awkward route through the kitchen "It doesn't really look like it was designed for the space to be used". But after declaring it impossible, they decided to try it anyway - and after accidentally wrenching the hood off the stove as they passed by (saying "That's fixable!" and then very quickly doing so) they managed to gently Tetris it down the stairs... and now we have an office with my brother-in-law's sofa in it.

If he ever wants it back, he's going to have to pay for the movers to get it out again, or he's getting it delivered in two separate bits.
davidn: (skull)
We're really moving, aren't we. Yes, we are. It used to seem so far off, but the majority of our stuff is now in cardboard boxes and the rest of the stuff lying around is easily scrapable into yet more boxes when the morning comes. In a moment, we're going to turn off the router - which feels strangely like disappearing entirely from the outside world even just for one day - and the next anyone will know, we'll have moved into the new house.

I still remember stepping into this flat for the first time, with our worldly possessions being carried with us in a few suitcases (and two bank cheques with the entire contents of a Californian account all but superglued to my waist under my clothing). We slept on a blanket on the floor, and then went out in an attempt to get a bed and some furniture. Four years later, it's come a long way, and feels much more like home. We've certainly accumulated a lot of... stuff - this move feels much bigger than the last one, because last time we might as well have just been going on holiday, for all the things that we had to take with us. This time, the spread of blankness has been gradually travelling across the flat and into a pile of boxes at one end of the room... tomorrow we're relying on a group of men from Gentle Giant to come in and remove them and all our furniture, and we'll follow them to the new house with our remaining perishable food in a hired car, leaving the flat once again white and empty.

To finalize the image of us moving on, I threw the sorry remains of the Frankendresser that IKEA sold us that first day on to the rubbish pile. Quite opposite from any sadness of leaving our flat, I was very pleased to finally get rid of the worthless artefact.
davidn: (skull)
I don't think it would be overdramatizing it at all to describe today as a cavalcade of failure. We hired a car and went up to the house again with the aim of doing a few more tasks before moving in, namely putting the television bracket on to the wall, putting the door of the spare room back up, and generally moving a few things over to the new house including my recently re-deaded computer.

When we arrived we found we'd already been getting junk mail - they really get you by advertising painters and decorators just as soon as you've moved house - along with a nice letter from our new neighbours saying that they'd moved a parcel from the rain down to the little basement porch sort of area that we both share. It turned out to be a replacement power supply from Corsair, which they'd apparently just shipped off without confirmation - I was worried for the sogginess of the box at first, but it was in shrinkwrap inside the cardboard. I put it all together with the computer pieces that we'd brought with us and my computer is ALIVE once more - it's ALIVE and is lying on the floor of a basement of a house I'm not in, but it's a start.

However, none of the tasks that we'd expected to perform that day ended in success. After going around the hardware place again and getting some more supplies, we found that we couldn't just replace the hinges on the doorframe of the spare room because they were built into the wall. The idea came to take the folding door to the basement, which we didn't want up anyway, and move it up to the room, and a lot of hammering, banging and WD40 ensued trying to get the rods out of the basement door. Eventually, it was carried upstairs, where we found that the door was the wrong way round and wouldn't fit into the frame when inverted.

With that task out the way, we tried to put up the bracket for the television, but after hauling the 30-pound monster out of the case we found that it wasn't wide enough for the marks that we'd made on the wall. This is unusual because our wall beams are about 20 inches apart and the bracket we have is designed for up to 24 inches - so perhaps we're just mistaken. Either way, we couldn't do more than just marking where we might want to put it up because we didn't have a big enough drill to continue. We're going to need someone to come in and help us with the installation of that.

After getting home, we realized that I would need a wireless adapter on my desktop, if the router's going to be upstairs and the office is to be on the lowest level. I had a USB one that had been lying at the bottom of a drawer for ages - I tried downloading a driver for it to test it out on the laptop. That didn't work, either.
davidn: (Jam)
Ring ring. Ring ring. Click.

"Hello, this is Allstate Insurance, with the man who stands just outside the boundaries of time while you have an accident."

"Hi, I've just read on your site that you don't sell home insurance to Massachusetts online - is that saying I need to do it over the phone?"

"No, we don't operate in the state of Massachusetts."

"Right. Why are you called Allstate, then?"

Ring ring. Ring ring. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Your call is important to us. Click.

"Good morning, this is Nationwide Insurance, and our adverts are nowhere near as psychotic as our namesake in Britain."

"Hi, do you offer home insurance in Massachusetts?"


"Then shouldn't you be called Nationwide-Except-Massachusetts?"

We got home insurance from a local company in the end. They were very efficient indeed.
davidn: (ace)
It's been a short three days since we closed on the house, and Whitney and I sentenced ourselves to a weekend's hard labour. Being one of the most sedentary living creatures, it was a genuine workout for me, and I'm frankly glad to see a sofa again. We trekked out on a journey of two buses dragging a suitcase that anyone would have thought belonged to Mr. Bean, containing a change of clothes, a lamp, a fan, and other bits and pieces, to do some painting and other work to the house before we really move in three weeks. I don't think I've been on my feet for that long... ever, actually.

I wrote this list down on a Post-It note while we were heading out on the bus. These were the things that we should do before moving in, and we weren't actually expecting to get everything done this weekend, but through some superhuman power (and by just getting a lot more efficient as we quickly learned how to paint), we did much more than I was expecting to accomplish. The list says:

  • Put up light fixture
  • Curtain brackets off
  • Coat 2 for guest room
  • Tape trim guest room
  • Tape bedroom
  • Tape living room
  • Go to supermarket
  • Paint trim guest room
  • Paint doors
  • Put up screens
  • Paint bedroom
  • Paint living room
  • Put up fixture 2

...and we managed to get all but two of those out the way. The first objective, the installation of the ceiling light, failed when we opened the cover up and discovered two wires mummified in black electrical tape like morbid maypoles, with no colour coding or other way of identifying them. I tried phoning a couple of nearby electricians to see if one of them had half an hour spare to identify the wires, but none phoned me back. We also left the guest bedroom door unpainted and un-put up, because we found that even though the sellers had obligingly left it in the basement, the hinges were missing.

We blazed through the other tasks, though - after taping off and painting the skirting boards on the guest bedroom and the entire master bedroom, it was clear that we were in danger of running out of tape by the time we went to bed on the inflatable mattress. During the night, Whitney hit on the idea of just transferring the tape from the bedrooms once the paint had dried on them, and in the morning, the lowest budget painting operation in the world continued in the living room with the reuse of all the tape from the walls and ceiling of the two bedrooms. I'm not sure how it happened, but we did three entire rooms (having done a first coat on one room already) in under 24 hours, and used only three tins of paint out of the eight that we'd bought.

After the paint had dried, we also managed to put together the second light fixture, which had a position on the wall that was correctly colour-coded. Here, it's just a matter of matching black, white and bare wires together, then twisting them together with sort of screw-cap things, and stuffing the whole tangle back into the wall. The light worked - but the real test of how successful we were will be seeing if the house has burned to the ground by the time we go back.

In the meantime, here are some post-paint photos )


May. 28th, 2010 04:07 pm
davidn: (ace)
We own a house. This hasn't really sunk in yet, perhaps because we're not actually moving in until the middle of next month - but there's a townhouse in Watertown that I now have the keys to, dangling from my keyring via a classy paperclip. If you want a summary of the entire process since March, there's a very rare Whitney post that went up today, and that goes over it all again.

We spent the whole afternoon and evening there after the closing, wandering around The Village and trying to understand how to work the air conditioner - in fact, we did a lot more than I thought we were going to do, and ended up painting an entire room. I had never done any DIY-related work like that before, but trying it together felt like claiming the house as our own.

I wonder if it would appear classist of me to suggest that America's B&Q Warehouse under a different name, the Home Depot, is staffed by shambling, semi-aware zombies. They're nice zombies like in Earthbound, though, and even though they can't understand me and I can't understand them, sometimes a message gets through. One of them, whose name was Koskov when he was alive, made sure to give us $5 rebates on the massive amount of paint that we bought, and we also got a contractor's discount which the ex-woman at the checkout completely failed to understand. After doing that, I can tell you that the paint roller is one of the greatest inventions ever - the last time I'd seen a room in my parents' house being painted, my dad was in there over a period of about five weeks using a brush on the walls.

The event that the last few months had led up to was the closing, where we finally met our lawyer face to face - she said that she always tried to imagine what people looked like from their phone conversations, and that I looked a lot younger than my voice had led her to believe. The sellers weren't there, but their lawyer was, and over the next hour we set up a sort of production line of signing a three inch thick stack of pieces of paper confirming different regulations and amounts of money that are going to bind us over the next number of years. My hand still hurts a bit - I think it was in all seriousness the greatest amount of handwriting I've done at once since the fourth year exams. Our lawyer was terribly apologetic for charging us more than she had quoted because of having to make calls to the bank to sort out their mistakes, but we said that we thought that she had been well worth it. She also announced that - even though this is thankfully out of our hands and not our direct problem - before we got our copies of the documents, she was going to get a new total loan amount quoted from the bank, because unsurprisingly the woman cocked that up as well.

It feels like we're once again moving on to a slightly more grown up phase of life. Especially seeing as dealing with our loan handler has prematurely aged us both about twenty years.


May. 27th, 2010 08:36 am
davidn: (rabbit)
Today, we're going to load up a hired Zipcar with a few tools and essentials, drive up to Watertown to meet our agent, then drive to Cambridge to the lawyer's office, sit down with the sellers and sign a lot of pieces of paper, and seriously, actually buy a house.

I'll be out of contact for the rest of the day, unless our first action on arrival is the same as it was in this flat and we find somebody else's unprotected wireless network.
davidn: (skull)
By the power of Christ, Satan and all their respective little wizards. We've just been told our closing costs are in excess of $7,000 because the stupid bitch at the bank forgot to put down that our loan covered the mortgage insurance. One day until closing.

I didn't even experience incompetence on this scale when going through the immigration process - I was cautious about broadcasting my feelings to the Internet where anyone can pick up on them at first, but I'm now convinced beyond doubt that she doesn't deserve to have a job, or to be protected from my reactions to her. The whole procedure was perfectly all right until she came along and she's single-handedly messed up more than most humans are capable of in their entire lifetimes. Once our loan is safe and irrevocable I'm certainly going to be naming her to any watchdog agencies that will listen, as well as hauling all our money out of the bank that has the lack of sense to employ her as soon as possible.

But hang on - this means that once we get this cleared up and the mortgage insurance back where it should be, by process of simple subtraction, we already know that our closing costs are going to be much less than we had at first anticipated. So we'll have enough money left over to spend it on some extras:

Additions to post-house-buying budget

Cost of car hire for a weekend: $100
Cost of petrol for going to Maine and back: ~$100
Cost of punching loan processor extremely hard in the face: $0
Cost of lawyer to justify actions on grounds of temporary insanity: $500 (I don't imagine this will be a particularly difficult case)
davidn: (rabbit)
The panic caused by the goldfish at the bank last week has now been replaced in my head with a sort of overwhelming feeling of "Wow, we're literally going to be buying a house, signing papers to transfer the titles over and everything, in three days, and nobody's questioned our suitability for being homeowners yet". It's a much better feeling than the one before it, but it's still a difficult thing to grasp. I still remember when we first walked in our flat's door and saw that we owned a massive room with some cables in it.

We're moving on to another stage in the long line of stresses, and have a fairly certain moving date of June the 18th now. It's not something I've lived through before because in previous moves I've only ever gone 100 miles up and down the road to university and back, and when I came over to America my worldly possessions were packed in a couple of suitcases. This time, three men are going to come around in the morning and transfer all our furniture to a van, then pile it all out at the other end. They've asked us to estimate how many boxes we'll need for our smaller items, which is a bit of a tall order to guess when you don't know what size they are.

To prepare this weekend, we've been organizing our books and things we won't need in the next couple of weeks into boxes - we dragged all the cardboard out of our cupboard, where in complete disregard for the laws of physics and logic it managed to take over the entire living room before we eventually piled it all back in in a more manageable order. We have suffered one casualty already, where a bad combination was demonstrated when a Stanley knife was brought into close proximity to a yoga ball. On the positive side, it's now in a shape that's much easier to pack.

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