November 16th, 2004

I dropped Sophia off at school. I will have to pick her up earlier than normal, because I do not have enough things on hand to provide her with the lunch I would have needed to send her to school with so she could stay through the noon meal and playtime. I was talking to Sergei as I walked out the door, assuring him that although he was not coming with us, that I would be right back. Sophia turned to me and asked “You are coming to home after you take me to school?” Yes, yes I am. “But you need to go to work, mama.” Well, I explained, I don’t actually have a place to work right now. “Why don’t you have a work to go to, mama?” Well because I moved here with daddy when he got his work, but I don’t have one yet. I might get one later. “You need to have a work, mama.” How about if I do work around the house? There are lots of things to be done here, like unpack all those boxes and things. Sophia remained largely unconvinced. Going to work is what people do : daddies, mamas and Sophias. I’m sure in time it will seem normal to her that I don’t go to work, but right now it’s as weird to her as it is to me. This is really the first day I have felt at home and unemployed. This is where it begins. Right now is the time I’m supposed to be using to write, and so I am purposely staying away from the boxes and the laundry and the dishes and the lists and the grocery store. I will tackle those later, with Sophia at my heels. It will slow me up a bit, but the only way to write is to write, and I have to establish the routine and the habit as part of what I do here, or I will never do it. Today I am taking it easy, just hammering on the blog. I’ve got plenty to say here with all that has happened in the move and not having had access to it for a few days. Tomorrow, maybe (hopefully), I’ll take my first steps on a story that’s been knocking around my brain, something that requires a little more structure and discipline. I’m excited about this prospect. I am sure it will have its pitfalls and disappointments and difficult moments, as any work does, but its good and worthwhile work, and I’m looking forward to doing it.

Both my camera memory sticks were totally full and so I didn’t get any pictures of the house while it was empty, or of the movers unloading furniture. I kind of wish I had taken some photos, but then that’d be just that many more pictures that I’m behind in processing for the database, so it’s probably just as well.

Gah, I can’t wait to have DSL so that I can sit somewhere else in the house to write. Not that this room isn’t lovely (it’s actually one of the best rooms in the house), but sitting on the bed with the laptop on my legs isn’t the most ergonomic way to write. It’s comfortable for brief periods, but not over the long term. When I got up a moment ago my legs were incredibly stiff. I really need to do some stretching. Both the cats are sitting with me on the bed, with their backs to me, looking out the window. I wonder if they find the view as lovely as I do. Maybe they’re just ignoring me while not letting me out of their sight after our weeklong separation.

In closing, here is an incomplete list of things I already love about my new (old) house and the town its in:

  • our local public radio station. It’s fantastic. It’s talk radio all day long, including a BBC noon newscast at the crack of dawn, Talk of the Nation, Fresh Air and more. They give worthwhile weather reports, with a real meteorologist, and meaningful traffic reports also.
  • the bay window in the front room of the house.
  • the for real sidewalks all over my neighborhood, and the sight of all the children walking down them to the elementary school down the street this morning.
  • the old fashioned, turn the knob to make it ring doorbell that sounds like a bicycle bell mounted on the center of our front door.
  • the serious water pressure and the speed with which the water turns hot here. Although our old house had great water pressure, it’s something I always appreciate. The water took forever to kick into hot there, though, which was always kind of a pain.
  • the small, local, specialized, storefront shops all over the place, and the fun I will have exploring them. I’ve already seen two bookstores I want to go into, a butcher, a camera shop, a couple of pet supply stores, and more.
  • the things you find in the supermarket that give you the local flavor: half an aisle of spaghetti sauces instead of just one shelf hinting at the Italian influence, fresh bagels in a dozen flavors in the bakery section giving away the Jewish heritage, heaps of Provel next to Cheddar and Colby reminding you that you are in St. Louis.

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16 Nov 2004, by

Silken tresses.

My first piece of mail at my new house was a welcoming present from a local who reads my blog! It was the long-desired satin pillowcase. Unfortunately, matching it to the pillows has been a task. The first night I had no pillows, and the second and third nights I had found and unpacked the pillows but buried the pillowcase in a mound of stuff. However, I have now united the two disparate entities and will enjoy my first piece of mail/housewarming gift/wishlist item magically materialized the next time I lay my head down to rest. Thanks, blog reader! It will treat my hair well and surely give me pleasant dreams. Speaking of which, I’ve had a number of dreams while I was connectionless, which I will now attempt to recount here.

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16 Nov 2004, by

Neil Gaiman was right when he said that driving North at this time of year is like driving into winter. When I left Jackson it was 65 degrees and green. By the time I arrived in St. Louis it was 48 and I had passed through most of the fall foliage to be greeted here by a lot of bare, wintry trees. There’s still some color change going on, but most of the leaves are on the ground here.

I have had no access to the internet at the moment, but we should get DSL today. Right now, I’m piggybacking on someone’s wide open wireless network. From this room facing our backyard my card sees 4 wireless networks, but only one of them is not protected. I feel lucky and grateful, though I guess I should feel like a thief. It makes me wonder whether I should leave my network open so long as it doesn’t get swamped, so that others can take advantage of it. Of course that is some time into the future, as even when we get DSL, the only computers that are set up right now are the laptops, which we’ll plug into the dsl modem directly instead of setting them up wirelessly just yet. The basement office is a complete mess, the server is still in Jackson, and there’s no phone jack in the basement. I won’t have to make the decision whether to give open access wirelessly for some time.

Our family is now complete. Kurt drove way out to Washington, MO last night, where a friend recommended a boarder and where the cats had been all week, to bring them home. Everyone loves the new house, animals included. Sergei loves sitting on the deck and looking down onto the yard. The cats have loved all the nooks and crannies in the basement. Oz was the first to find all his familiar favorite pieces of furniture and sit on them. He understood immediately, on seeing all our stuff, that this was our place now. That makes me feel good about boarding them while the house was empty, as having them here during the moving in would have been VERY inconvenient to us and probably confusing to them. Sergei, on the other hand, is less about the stuff and more about the people. Where we are, his pack, that’s where he belongs also. I wonder if that’s one of those differences between cats and dogs. The first day we were here Sophia went out to her playset five different times to swing on the swing there. She’d ride for a few minutes, then get chilly and come inside to warm up, then declare she wanted to go out there again. Yesterday she swung out there for half an hour. She’s been unqualifiedly happy and upbeat about our “new old house” as she calls it, and has really enjoyed the playset, which she calls “Sophia’s playset”. As a side note, she asked me whether playset was one word or two, the first time she’s asked something like that about word compounds. She told me that one swing was for her and one swing was for Jude, her (thus far) one and only friend here, the son of the people with whom Kurt was staying before we arrived. She always uses the same swing, because the other one is “Jude’s swing”. I think that is so cute.

Today we take Sophia to her new Montessori school. She was supposed to start yesterday, but the move made things beyond crazy and I wasn’t able to get her there. However, we did drop by in the afternoon and she got a chance to see her classroom without other children in it and meet her teacher, Ms. Viscovic. I hope driving there today will be a little less eventful than it was yesterday. I got seriously lost. Sophia kept saying to me “I don’t want to be stopped, mama, I want to drive.” when I would stop to check the map. We’ll see how today goes, but given how open she was to the new class yesterday, I think she’ll transition more smoothly than she has in the past.

I suppose anyone that has ever moved (undoubtedly everyone reading this) knows how busy one is on moving, and I don’t have to go into detail about the mountain of things to be done, how you unpack seven boxes and nothing looks any different and it seems like no progress was made, and how you need to have seven different lists to jot things down on like : need shower curtain or eggs or get deadbolt for root cellar door. It’s a little bewildering. However, our house is fantastic. We all love it. It feels like our house. Everyone who lived here before us was just getting it ready to be ours.

There were some casualties with the furniture during the move. The movers weren’t able to get our queen size box springs up the staircase so we are having to sleep in the downstairs bedroom. Apparently, what I’m told people do in this circumstance is counter-intuitive, you go up a size and buy a king size bed because the springs are two singles and the mattress is bendy. Of course, we aren’t in a position to rush out and buy a new bed right now, so we may be sleeping downstairs for a while (read, until the old house sells). The movers also broke my computer desk. I’m not sure how they did it, but it isn’t fixable, that’s for sure: the bolts holding the legs ripped right out of the wood and left these huge gashes in the desktop where you wouldn’t be able to bolt anything back. They broke one decorative piece I had, practically the only thing fragile that they packed into a box (we had packed most of our things). It was a cool Egyptian head that had been given to me as a parting gift when I left my librarian job before going to the Archives. Our armoire also did not fit up the stairs, which is a real bummer because we desperately needed the space it would provide upstairs. Like most old houses, the closets here are the size of thimbles. It’s going to be a huge adjustment for us to work within the space of the tiny, tiny closet. We thought we had ourselves covered with the armoire and the chest of drawers, but the armoire wouldn’t go up, and the movers scratched it trying to get it up there. We may have to buy another piece to go up there, depending on how much space is left there when we get a king sized bed in there. My beloved clock, which I was a little worried about, came through fine. Besides the furniture casualties, there was also some damage to the house itself. They broke a low hanging light fixture in the house swinging a bed slat around and broke one of our front steps carrying the couches into the house. There’s some scratches in the paint of the basement staircase walls and some paint chipped off the front staircase banister, but no big deal. All in all, a fairly good move.

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