Monday, August 31, 2009


It has been my experience that one periodically goes through times when apparently it is decreed (by some minor and annoying god, no doubt) that an unusual number of things should fail to work, or be recalcitrant, or otherwise drive one somewhat mad.
I have alluded to how the drains on tub, sink, and dishwasher all had to be fixed shortly after I moved in. To update these specific items, the tub proves not to like hair-washing, and its drain clogs after two or three washings; the sink now doesn't really hold water long enough to soak laundry; and the dishwasher (a fancy-looking new Siemens) has to be run every couple of days now because it is apparently a weapon of biological warfare and promptly grows mold on anything placed in it, mold which is only mostly removed during the wash cycle. My previous dishwasher could accumulate dishes for a couple of weeks without mold growth, and removed pretty much everything except dairy-related encrustations. (I could also fit a lot more dishes in that one without wondering whether they would dance around and break one another.)
Speaking of things that go bad, they are doing so at a record pace in the refrigerator. I didn't think refrigerated fruit usually had to be eaten within a day or two. Let's keep in mind, too, that the house is air-conditioned, so we're not dealing with a sweltering kitchen.
Then there was the adventure of the blender. I hadn't had a blender in quite some time, but thought that if I got one, I could make fruit smoothies and rapidly boost the amount of fruit in my diet, as I imagined that would be simpler than making fruit salad. I bought the blender and put it together according to the instructions, or so it seemed, but it dismantled itself and dribbled a lot of liquefied fruit everywhere. For that matter, the stuff I was able to salvage didn't taste nearly as good as a fruit salad would have. I have been hesitant about trying the blender again, since I'm sure the motor got inundated with fruit and water, and I'm not sure that I've put the apparatus together any better than before.
I am not sure that the vacuum cleaner is picking up much, although I replaced its bag just before moving here.
On the automotive front, about a month ago I had my windshield replaced due to the remarkable size and quantity of debris thrown at it by various trucks. I was very pleased with the replacement for at least a week or two... specifically when I moved... and the rubber molding around it came loose. The job being under lifetime warranty, a technician came out to fix it once I finally had a chance to schedule an appointment. It has now come loose again.
While the windshield problem was initially alarming (at first I thought the windshield might fly off as I drove down Highway 70), it has not been as troublesome as the car airconditioning, which I had fixed in two separate ways during the summer to the tune of well over $1000. The airconditioning gave out again as I left Chicago and I have really not had time to schedule an appointment with the shop that did the original work.
I may not have mentioned previously that the electricity in the garage gave out just after I moved in (fortunately with the garage door open rather than closed, or I would have been stuck at home for awhile), but my landlord and his able assistant were able to rewire the building in less than a day, so perhaps that doesn't count as remarkably troublesome.
In the realm of the internet, as I have noted earlier, the signal came into the building well before I was able to make use of it. This was because the DSL modem I had gotten from Verizon stubbornly subverted everything from AT&T. I still don't understand how this can be, but that was what the AT&T technical staff, who tried quite a few tests, concluded. People often complain about technical support, but I felt the people I dealt with were pretty clever and well trained, and they were nonetheless stymied. On the plus side here, however, the new modem is also a router, so I have wifi all over the house. This is an excellent thing since the lapine contingent wants me in sight.
Speaking of the lapines, I knew I would have to keep them out of the office (cords and boxes) and possibly the bedroom. As it turned out, the office door doesn't close--it gets to about two inches of closed and then quits. So I bought a handsome pet gate, one with wire since Ms. Spots has been known to destroy plastic gates. Well, it is designed to be pulled as wide as the doorway or other passageway and to stay in place with the aid of rubber bumpers. Whether this actually normally works, I cannot say, but the height and thickness of the baseboards here make it impossible to keep in position as designed. I thus stuck the thing at the foot of the stairs, sort of leaning against the stairs a bit. Mostly this works, but Ms. Spots rapidly figured out that if it's tilted enough, she can climb on it and go up the stairs anyway. She's always rather surprised when she succeeds, and since what she always seems to want is breakfast, this hasn't caused a real problem yet... but it could.
That's more than enough ranting for now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Neighborhood, Part 1

I suspect that my readers--at least those who know me personally, which is most of you--have been itching to see what sort of place I've landed in, other than the moving boxes and unpacked books.
My neighborhood is called the Oregon Historic District, and it's one of several historic neighborhoods in the central part of town. Most of the houses seem to have been built between 1840-1865 or thereabouts, although not all of them have date placards on the front. I don't know when mine was built, other than that the front half looks like other houses in the neighborhood and the part I live in was added on at a later (but not terribly recent) date.
Most of the houses are brick (often painted), with some sort of wooden trim and usually a porch or veranda with columns.
It's a nice place to walk or bike.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Veranda, Again

I was awakened this morning by the sound of Orion making his way upstairs. Rather than wreaking havoc, he consented to lie down in the bedroom and be petted. His real mission, however, was to get me downstairs to provide breakfast and morning petting for the Princess of Pittsburgh, who came up herself when I didn't stay downstairs long enough to suit her. She was a bit miffed that I hadn't kept her company during breakfast.
In the meantime, there are non-rabbit photos:

Looking up at the veranda from the sidewalk. And a view from the veranda, looking across the street:

The tenant in the front half of the duplex does the gardening and the hanging plants. I have added a batch of plants around my front door, however. In addition to flowers, I got some rainbow chard and parsley, but these aren't really growing enthusiastically enough to feed Ms. Spots and Orion. Only enough to take off a few leaves every few days.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Hate Things Not Working Properly

Since I won't have usable internet at home for awhile, there won't be much appearing here for at least a few more days, or so I imagine. Technically there is internet... DSL flows through the phone line... but for some reason the modem I had gotten from Verizon refuses to let AT&T's bandwidth get through to the browser. Why this should be is a great mystery to me. I consider myself fairly competent with computers--after all, I use lots of different programs, I install new parts from time to time, and I can troubleshoot a fair number of things. But this doesn't make me an expert on anything in particular. How the Verizon modem can tell that the bandwidth flowing through it isn't Verizon's, I really don't know. The computer recognizes that it's getting a signal, but it's unable to make any use whatsoever of it.
So I await a new modem. I hope it won't only work with AT&T, since there's no guarantee I'll stay in AT&T territory for long.
For variety, I offer a photo of my front porch. Or is that my side porch? Let's just call it the veranda I share with the front tenant.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Seen on Facebook...

"Nothing improves one's perpective faster than being suddenly incapable of reproduction. Made me feel better."
(Re a comment on the need to spay a rabbit)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Something Completely Different

As a change from photos relating to moving, I present a couple of photos from last Friday's birthday party in San Francisco. As it happens, no photos were taken of the guest of honor, as the other guests were too busy discussing literature and world politics.

Above: Cesar, Betty, and Scott

Above: John, Ali, and Moazzam

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Update, Update, Huh?

I was rather hoping to post some photos on this visit to the local cafe (it looks as though I won't have functional home internet for at least another week, and possibly more, due to a mysterious incompatibility between the modem Verizon supplied me two years ago and AT&T's DSL service). Regrettably, my camera battery seems to die every time I get halfway to the cafe. I'm not sure why this is. I don't take THAT many pictures of my neighborhood in the course of two blocks. Perhaps there is some strange force-field on the corner of Sixth and Tecumseh. In any case, sooner or later there will be some photos again.
Mainly, at the moment I simply feel relieved at having finished and sent off the latest journal article, which was not so much a difficult one to write as one whose writing coincided with my having no real blocks of time to devote. This caused me considerable anxiety, since I also had to think about various bills, car repairs, prescriptions, and so on.
Meanwhile, I see the cafe is dimming its lights, which I think means it is time to drink up and depart.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On the Verge of Success?

As is so often the case, Rob Breszny offers a tantalizing horoscope for me:
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Your strategies are very close to working. The results you've generated so far are almost useful, bordering on successful, and on the brink of being beautiful. My question now is: You won't stop here, will you? You've already garnered a measure of recognition. You've gotten a taste of victory over your old bugaboos. Will you be satisfied with these partial breakthroughs, or will you fight and kick and scratch to strip away the almosts and ascend to utter triumph?

We've managed to unblock the drains in my tub, bathroom sink, and dishwasher, and the internet is almost working at home now (it exists, but the computer and modem are unsure how to handle it). Of course, I don't think these things are really what's involved here. Or even that journal article I'm racing to finish. There are more important things at stake.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Land of Boxes and Stray Books

Remember how harmonious the last kitchen photo seemed? Well, of course, it was taken prior to the delivery of most of my belongings, so it was a bit unnatural. The kitchen quickly began to look like the following photo, and rapidly transmogrified into a complete disaster area, since although there are many cupboards, it's hard to know where anything ought to go. I mean, most of the storage is out of my reach or too narrow or shallow to accommodate what I might want to put inside. On the plus side, I discovered that there is a lazy susan. Major bonus points there! (Although I wish it could have been a full round one rather than 3/4.)

The dining room is in recovery from being The Land of Full Boxes, but I am not sure that being The Land of Empty Boxes is much better. Yes, there is a so-called "mudroom" and it is also full of boxes. (Is "mudroom" a recently invented term or has it been around for more than ten years? It's used copiously in every home design magazine I've read in recent years and I am wondering whether Martha Stewart invented it. She did not, I am sure, invent the concept.) The mudroom/laundry room has to reserve space for bike and rabbit area.

Moving right along to the living room, although most people will probably see it first, books are gradually finding their way onto shelves, although not in a very coherent order. The main thing has been to get them in some approximation of the right place, not to get them exactly right on the first try. Besides, there's not a real exactly right about book placement. Shelving by topic wars with shelving by approximate size. Besides, even shelving by topic is tricky. Do we want Alberti shelved with Italian Renaissance or with architecture? Do we want Paula Modersohn-Becker's diary shelved with German art, biography, or women artists? This problem worsens with the history books, although they are fewer in number. Should all history simply go upstairs in my office, or can some of it stay in the dining room? Can we just have Central and Eastern European history upstairs, or just women's/gender/sex history? Why am I separating histories of European paganism from the fairytale books? I am so glad not to be a librarian. No classification system will ever fully satisfy me. And, considering that most of my theater and film books are boxed up in California, how did I end up with so many such books here, which clearly need to go together? (Or should those on the avant-garde, or on Czech film and theater, go somewhere else?!)

My office, rapidly becoming a repository of boxes of miscellaneous papers (not shown!), is coming along well enough in other respects. The tall bookcase is pretty much entirely filled with Czech art books, although there is some overflow (five of said books are much too big to fit on its shelves and sit on the desk). The desk is home to lots of dictionaries and related books, in the optimistic belief that I will actually use them rather than merely regard them as a kind of security feature.

And it all continues. After all, that mudroom has to be prepared to hold a new two-story bunny condo (bought on the theory that the rabbits might enjoy it as a special place to hang out), and the downstairs in general has to be prepared for their arrival on the seventeenth. Meanwhile, of course, there's no shortage of academic sort of work to do, unfortunately. I certainly hope I don't have to move again next summer.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Moving In

Moving in is quite the ongoing process. At first everything looks relatively stark:

Subsequent to the arrival of one's belongings, one also becomes all too aware of how a great many of them clash with the paint:

After all, bedding, kitchen items, and so forth based heavily in cobalt and other forms of blue just don't go very well with walls the color of coffee ice cream. Nothing against coffee ice cream, it just clashes with quite a few common decorating schemes. It wants colors like cream, dark brown, and black.
Fortunately I already owned more than one shower curtain, for just this sort of situation, so swapping out the leafy pale blue and green one for something more sultry was easy:

Stay tuned for more on the decorating front!

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Little Hoffmeister

Why is it that my friends invariably link to me just when I haven't posted anything very remarkable in awhile? I'm afraid it is just fate (in this case, my having just moved and not yet having internet at home).
Well, for everyone's entertainment, I offer two Adolf Hoffmeister pieces:

"The Founding of Devětsil," 1927

"Pisces," 1963

Adolf Hoffmeister was a Czech artist and writer (not to mention diplomat). I'd say more, but I really must return home and continue unpacking several hundred (or is it thousand?) books. That is, I know I've unpacked several hundred, but at least 30 boxes of something or other have yet to be opened.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Good Omens

Rob Breszny's horoscope for me this week:
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): If you really knew how much you were loved, you would never cry again. A sublime relaxation would flood your nervous system, freeing you to see the beautiful secrets that your chronic fear has hidden from you. If you knew how much the world longs for your genius to bloom in its full glory, the peace that filled you would ensure you could not fail. You'd face every trial with eager equanimity. You would always know exactly what to do because your intuition would tell you in a myriad of subtle ways. And get this: A glimpse of this glory will soon be available to you.

It's possible I have some inkling of all this wonderful stuff. That doesn't mean I'm looking forward to all the unpacking and other work ahead of me, but nonetheless I feel pretty good.