New House Nerves

I know, it has been weeks since I posted. If it makes you feel any better, I haven't written any email either. It's not so much that I've been busy as I've been in a state of frozen panic, afraid to do anything that isn't related to real estate lest I break the fragile thread that is holding together all these transactions and agreements and unimaginably large sums of money.

But our real estate agent just called to say that all the documents and amendments and waivers have been signed and everything is going to go ahead, really truly, pinkie-swear. It's real.

I'm not excited about the new house. Actually, there is almost nothing I am looking forward to about the new house; I am not looking forward to climbing up and down stairs, I am not looking forward to doing laundry in the basement, I am not looking forward to hand-washing dishes, I am not looking forward to a bathtub with no shower, I am not looking forward to being miles (okay, blocks) away from the nearest Starbucks.

It is almost comical how this house doesn't add up. We made a wish list before we went house hunting: big kitchen — not really; two bathrooms — nope; big deck — nope; detached — no; shower — shower?! I didn't put "shower" on my wish list, because what house doesn't have a shower? Well, mine.

And yet I still love the house, our little tiny dark house, because it is ours and we can do whatever we want with it; we can reno the kitchen, we can add a room at the back (if the neighbours don't mind — please don't let the neighbours mind), we can dig out the basement and put in a laundry room and a den and a nice bathroom with a crazy Japanese tub, we can fix up the bathroom upstairs, we can add a big deck and a patio and do beautiful landscaping in the front.

We're planning, soon after we move in, to add about fifteen feet to the back — the kitchen is now at the back of the house, and we are going to move the kitchen into the additional space and put a kind of office slash play area where the kitchen is now. (That's if we can afford it; we haven't had a quote from the contractor yet.)

We're going to put in new pale wood fifties-style fitted cabinets, a modern gas stove (sorry, but the old stove is going; I will try and find a good home for it), a new fridge, a dishwasher, a forties-inspired white subway tile backspash, fifties-style blue countertops and blue linoleum on the floors. We're keeping the original sink and the white painted cabinet with the amazing handles and hinges. The office will house our fifties metal desk and a set of fitted cabinets, matching the ones in the kitchen, to house jackets and boots and things, as well as providing more pantry space.

Stylistically it's going to be, frankly, a retro pastiche combining Deco elements from the forties with Moderne and Contemporary influences from the fifties, and of course a few current pieces like the appliances and lighting. Since Moderne and Contemporary are (ironically, linguistically speaking) pretty much opposite, I have no idea if it will work. I am hoping it will kind of blend, organically. I mean, if it were 1956 and you had been living someplace for a while, you would probably have all those elements in your home. We'll see. I figure after it's been there for a few years and gotten bashed around a bit it will look fine. And I will be used to it and won't care.

What I am looking forward to is the location, which is the one thing you can't add to a house. The new house is halfway between the street with the library, two patisseries, a bulk food store and a really nice kids' clothing store, and another street which houses bakeries, butchers, a cheese store, a second-hand kids' stuff store, a new kids' stuff store, two ice cream parlours, a drugstore and of course Starbucks. And by halfway, I mean less than ten minutes walk to either street; maybe five minutes.

The bus stop is right on the corner, about three houses away, and the bus comes every ten minutes. And if you can't wait, it's only about a ten or fifteen minute walk to the subway.

The block is also thick with children; there are about a dozen houses on the block and all but maybe one or two have children. The school is an easy walk away, and it's one of the best in the city. So, you know, it could be worse.

Hallowe'en Princess

This year was Delphine's first real Hallowe'en — last year we skipped it altogether because Cordelia was only a month old, and the year before we dressed Delphine up and dragged her out to a few friends' houses, but she was tired and not too pleased with all the strangers.

This time she was into it; she dressed as a princess (her idea, and "coincidentally" her two best friends at daycare were also dressed as princesses). I went all out and bought a fancy costume; previously I have sworn that buying costumes is lame, but since then I have realized that a Hallowe'en costume doubles as a dress-up toy for year-round play, so it isn't so ridiculous to spend some money for a quality ensemble. Plus this will fit her for years: fairy princess, medieval princess, punk princess (after it starts to get ragged).

We started the night at Delphine's friend Ursa's house, where we were met by their friend Azale (thus completing the trio of princesses). We all went out: Delphine, Cordelia, Blake and I, Ursa, Ursa's mum, Azale, Azale's mum and grandmother, and we were joined later by Morgan and Baba. The girls really got into it (with some coaching: "What do you say?" "Trick or treat!" "What do you say now?" "Sank you!")

We got a good half-grocery-bag full of candy, including some Lindt squares, two full-sized candy bars (which we had to confiscate on the grounds that that's far too much chocolate for a three-year-old — for her own good, of course), and some of those fruit bars, along with the usual assortment of fun (fun!) sized candy bars, Nibs, Tootsie Rolls (does anyone eat them when it's not Hallowe'en?), hard candies and Rockets.

Delphine was exhausted by the time we got home (but not before stopping at Starbucks to beg a free kid's hot chocolate with two helpings of whipped cream and chocolate syrup) so she only had a couple of pieces of candy before collapsing.

I had decided that she could have a piece of candy every day for the month of November, with any leftovers probably going to Blake's office, but as it turns out she's only asked a couple of times. Good thing, too, because Blake and I have been stealing her loot shamelessly.

We also dressed Cordelia up for Hallowe'en; it was Kathryn's idea to dress her as a garden gnome because of her rosy round cheeks and pointed ears. I bought her a red hat and a white beard and she looked adorable, but perhaps not surprisingly, she hated the costume. We got some pictures of a very sad little gnome, which I will post, but we didn't manage to keep her suited up long enough to take her out. That's okay, since she can't have any candy anyway.

Selling. Or not.

The condo is on the market, and has been for a couple of weeks, which means my entire life is dedicated to cleaning and tidying. It's boring and has convinced me that it will never be worth my time to have a perfectly clean and tidy house in real life, However, I have learned a thing or two.

First, it is actually worthwhile to sweep every day. I always thought daily sweeping was the province of the obsessively clean, but now I find out that sweeping the kitchen, bathroom (the one with the kitty litter box) and front hall yields an impressive pile of crud, every single day. Huh!

I also suspect (although this is only a hypothesis for now) that sweeping the bathroom every day would prevent the build-up of that layer of linty, hairy crud behind the toilet -- no lint and hair, no buildup! That would be nice.

And second, I have learned that the cats only use their litter box overnight, which I suppose follows from that whole nocturnal thing. That means that if you clean out the box in the morning, you're good to go for the rest of the day.

For some reason I was expecting the condo to move really quickly, and so earlier this week Blake and I were pretty dispirited that it hadn't. I was poking around the place trying to figure out what the problem was... stains on the carpet? Floors need refinishing? Cheap closet doors? Cursing the lazy builders who didn't bother to actually square off the walls. But I've now decided that the right person just hasn't come through yet; when you have a good location and high ceilings and big windows and a view like ours, carpets and floors and doors fade into insignificance. (Obviously, or we would have fixed them by now ourselves.) When someone comes along with the right budget and the right priorities the place will sell, we just have to wait for that someone.

5K Again!

On Saturday I did a surprisingly easy 5K of ten and ones — surprising because I ran exactly no times the week before. I guess some rest is what the doctor ordered.

Last night I went out in the drizzle and did another 2.5K of ten and ones, and I thought about why I like running outside rather than in a treadmill: every time you go out, it's a new run, even if you are running the same old route. Running in rain is different from running in sun, is different from running in snow is different from running three days after it snows. Running uphill is different from running downhill, running on gravel is different from running on pavement is different from running on asphalt.

When you run on a treadmill the best you can hope for is that the Seinfeld repeat is one you haven't seen lately.

Eight And Ones, and Other Things

I just got back from a 2.3K run of eight and ones. It was hard; I am still a little wheezy and having trouble catching my breath. But I am quite pleased with myself for doing it; it was already 8:30 by the time I went out, and I really wanted to stay home and sit on the couch. We have our condo on the market (anyone want a condo?) and I have spent the last week cleaning and tidying like a fool instead of running and sleeping and doing other sensible things.

I haven't been keeping up with the homework for the Learn To Run clinic; you are supposed to run three times a week but I have only gone once this week and it's already Thursday (clinic meets on Saturday). This week we are doing 4.75K of nine and ones and I am going to be suffering. Hopefully, though, now that the condo is clean and tidy I will be able to get back to three runs a week.

And hey, back in June when I started all this foolishness I wouldn't even have been able to think of running for eight minutes without stopping. So that's something.

Oh yeah, and...

Today was Cordelia's birthday. She's one! She walks! She's funny and awesome and tomorrow we are taking her to the doctor so I will tell you if she's abnormally tall or whatever.

We had a nice day; Blake took the day off, we went out for pastries this morning, baked a cake, went to the library, went for pastries (again), went to look at a house, came home, iced the cake, had a little tea party with Ursa and her posse and Baba and Zaida, and bought the house. Because isn't that what every little girl wants on her birthday? A new house?


So. We bought a house. Yeah.

It's little. It's dark. It's a semi-detached and it is about four feet away from the other neighbour, the one who isn't attached. It hasn't been renovated for twenty years; it is very much like a time capsule.

On the other hand, it has been impeccably maintained; the paint is perfect, the woodwork is flawless, and it's spotless. It wasn't terribly much money (for the area) so we will have a little extra to do urgent fix-ups (hello, dishwasher?) It is on an amazing street in a perfect neighbourhood in exactly the location I wanted. It has a 180-foot-deep lot so we have miles of backyard, which means we can add additions and decks and patios on the back and still have room for a garden and playhouse for the girls. And a circus tent. And a helicopter pad. It has three big bedrooms and a big kitchen.

Go look, pictures are here.

Conversations with Delphine, Telephone Edition.

Yesterday I was talking to Auntie Morgan on the telephone. Delphine wanted to talk to her so I put her on. They talked for a while and then Delphine told Morgan about her new balloon.

"It's over there," she pointed. "I will show it to you."

Then she spent some time trying to figure out how to get the phone out of the kitchen (where it is attached to the wall) into the living room where her balloon was. Finally I asked her if she would like me to hold the phone for her while she went to get her balloon.

"Yeah, you hold it. Don't talk though! Don't talk! Just hold it!"

So Morgan and I had a secret whispered conversation while Delphine went to retrieve her balloon. Then after she had "shown" the balloon to Morgan she started playing with it and got distracted from her telephone conversation. After I said "Don't forget to talk to Auntie Morgan!" a couple of times, Morgan said "Should we say 'good-bye' now?" and Delphine said "Bye." and handed the phone back to me. She's a charmer, that one.

She just came running out of the bedroom, said "You're not my friend, Cordelia," and ran back in.

What's Next?

I feel strangely deflated now that my first run is behind me, although I have another month to go in my running clinic to give me something to work on. (We are doing eight and ones next weekend; how I am going to go from five and twos to eight and ones I do not know).

I think I will sign up for a 5K sometime this winter or early spring to keep me honest over the winter and give me something to aim for: I would like to improve my time by running for a larger proportion of the time. I will need some kind of external incentive because I can really see myself forgetting about running altogether in the chilly winter evenings. Although I bet Michelle wouldn't let me.

In the summer of '07 I will do two or three 5Ks, then maybe another over the winter (if I feel like I need it to keep my momentum up). Then in '08 I'd like to do the Sporting Life 10K (because it's mainly downhill!) and the 10K in the zoo (because the zoo is cool). Maybe by '09 I'll be ready for a half-marathon, or maybe I will do a couple more 10Ks, and do a half-marathon in '10... we'll see.

Of course this could be derailed by unforseen circumstances, but so could any plan; no reason not to make it!