Saturday, November 28, 2009

A very full day

Yesterday we toured the battleship Wisconsin (you can read about it here)—peering into the berths really emphasized how little each sailor could bring on board. I think they had minimalism down well before it became trendy.

This video shows both the view and how very windy it was. Alison didn’t seem to mind the wind at all.

Last night we put on the Christmas music and decorated the tree. After not having a Christmas tree the last two years, I was so glad to be able to participate in Ben and Jen’s decorations. Then Alison decided the box was a lot of fun. She wanted Smoochie in there with her, so I had to help him a bit.

I love this picture of Alison that I took when Jen and Kent were putting the tree together. She was determined to help, even though the branches were half her size.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Loving the visit

We got to Virginia Wednesday night and oddly enough, our worst travel delay came well after we landed. We sat for about 90 minutes on the James River bridge--no idea why, any accident had been entirely cleared by the time we moved again.

Alison loves to play dress up and princess, and she got Kent (Granddad) to play with her a long time yesterday morning. Jen snagged this picture, which shows that the sweet goofy side of Kent is sometimes just what a child needs. I should add that for some reason, Alison really didn't want to wear clothes yesterday. It was plenty warm enough to run around that way, Virginia isn't Boston after all.

Here's my favorite picture of me with Alison yesterday. She was a little uneasy when the other family arrived, which was kind of funny since she had been looking forward to playing with the other children. So she hung around the edges of the playroom while the kids played, and then we ended up getting dressed up in princess stuff. Aren't those butterfly wings she's wearing pretty cute? I would have loved to have had those when I was a little girl.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The recession’s not over

Most of the time when I submit my resume for a job opening, it disappears forever into the ether. Some companies send an auto-generated response acknowledging I’ve applied but that’s less common than you might think.

I’ve been given varied reasons why I haven’t gotten the job. Here are a few of my favorites.

“The job is too small for you.”
I was overqualified for this job but I loved what the company did, enough that I didn’t mind taking a step or two back. At each stage of the interview process, I answered the same questions about being overqualified. I thought I did a good job letting them know why I was interested in the position, because I really wanted to get a foot in the door. Apparently my foot was too big.

“The person who left the job came back.”
Dressed for the interview, I was almost out the door when the recruiter called me and said don’t come. Apparently the woman who’d left the job decided almost immediately she’d made a mistake and asked to come back.

“We’ve realized what we really need is a technical writer.” I interviewed separately with the two people I’d have been working with. During those two hours, I grew very uneasy about the job because the two of them didn’t agree on what they needed the person they hired to actually do. I asked them a lot of questions about what the immediate need was, what they needed from the successful candidate, and what their skills where. Ironically I am pretty sure I helped them pinpoint what they did need—a tech writer—while making sure I didn’t get the job.

And finally this week I got a new reason: “We have stopped all hiring.” This job was with the same company that told me the job was too small for me. I’m kind of proud of myself for trying with them again even though I was rejected once already. That should show you how much I like what the company does! They did some headcount reductions this year but their booked business for 2010 is good. They thought they were financially healthy enough to bring on another two trainers, but after a lengthy interview process where again I was a finalist, this week they realized they need to freeze all hiring for the foreseeable future.

For those of you who have jobs, be thankful. For those who don’t, I share your pain. And for all of us, here's a relaxing picture of Eddie. That cat sure knows how to snooze.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Things that say love

The tin I kept my bobbins in was below the water mark. I pulled it out anyway, and hoped that perhaps I'd gotten them out in time to be saved. I knew the thread would need to be discarded but the bobbins aren't cheap and I had enough that replacing them wouldn't be easy. Well as you can see, they were ruined. In the top right of the picture, the red stuff in the plastic bag is rust, and you can see rust on a couple of the bobbins, too.

I'd already asked my mother to track down an invisible zipper foot for my Bernina, since the Bernina stores near me had all gone out of business (which is why I thought replacing the bobbins would be a hassle). She found one, and very kindly picked up a sleeve of the Bernina bobbins too.

Today Kent and I were in Target. You already heard me complain about not being able to decorate this year, and Jeanne had the great suggestion of making a paper tree to tape on the wall. We were prepared to do just that when we found this tree. I didn't want to spend the $20 to get it, but Kent asked me if it would help our place feel more like home and more like Christmas. Well he made me cry in Target, and now we have a little bit of Christmas decoration here. The tree is supposed to be shatterproof; I'm sure the kitties will put that to the test.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

But I want to decorate

Two years ago, our home in Kansas City was on the market. In order to reach the widest pool of potential buyers and also in order to emphasize how very spacious our home was, we put up only a very few Christmas decorations. Mostly we hung our stockings and a couple of wall hangings my mother has made over the years. Even if our house hasn’t been on the market, a Christmas tree was out of the question. The boy kitties would have climbed a tree, eaten the branches and broken every ornament they could get their paws on.

Last year we couldn’t really decorate either. Our apartment is about 1,000 square feet so there’s no room for a tree and again, the boy kitties would have destroyed one anyway. So we settled for this.

Now we are in the temporary quarters and most of our surviving belongings are packed in storage. That means I can’t even put up stockings or my dinky ceramic tree or use the Christmas mugs I got for us a couple of years ago. Bah humbug.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quick update

We are heading back to Providence to collect another car load of our belongings. Kent got these pictures this morning. The view is of the Christian Science headquarters.

Monday, November 16, 2009

U turns? Really?

Dear Providence drivers,

As I leave you this week, I do have some questions I hope you can answer for me. You see, I’ve found the unwritten driving rules quite bewildering in the almost three weeks I’ve been here. So perhaps you can clear things up for me.

1. How do I know when you plan on making a u-turn directly in front of me? I don’t see a turn signal and really a turn signal wouldn’t exactly be appropriate. So am I missing something here? Do you do some sort of weird hand gesture or a head bob or something? Clue me in please.

2. In the same vein, why do you get angry with me when I don’t realize you are making a u-turn in front of me and I fail to yield to you? Is there a law I don’t know about that says anyone making a u-turn gets to go first?

3. Let’s not forget plain vanilla left hand turns—directly into oncoming traffic. Are you sure I’m going to stop? Because to the best of my knowledge, I have the right of way and you do not. Yet you turn mere inches from my front bumper and you get mad at me.

4. Pedestrians, you get a question as well—why, when there is a clearly marked cross walk half a block away, do you decide it would be better to dart across the street directly in front of my car? You don’t even have the excuse of bad weather. Are you that confident I’ll both see you and be able to stop?

Thanks in advance for your answers. I’m confident you can clear this up for me, and I remain hopeful I can leave without actually killing anyone.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The new cat perch

Apparently fairly simple cat trees with sides on the ledges are unpopular. I say that because I had to look at four different pet stores to find the replacement perch. This one is a little bigger than our previous perch and while I don't look forward to moving it on Monday, the cats' reactions were most gratifying.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I wanna go back to Egypt

It’s no secret that Boston hasn’t been a particularly good place for me to live, mostly because I can’t find a job. And even though I lived in a similar climate for three years while in Germany, last winter was tough. Between the heavier-than-normal snow plus us living in a basement apartment, I felt like I lived in a pretty solitary cave.

Mostly though I miss my friends, and I miss the tribal knowledge I have about Kansas City. Even though I’ve been gone for 18 months, if I were suddenly dropped back in KC, I’d still know where to go or who to call to get what I need. That includes things like doctors, dentists, good grocery stores, plumbers, electricians, and even volunteer opportunities. I don’t have that knowledge in Boston yet, that sort of thing takes time.

Oddly enough, I find myself longing to be back in Boston. Don’t get me wrong—I like Providence a lot. I just don’t know a soul here, and since we aren’t staying, I don’t really have the motivation to meet people. Plus I know more about Boston than I realized. And while I haven’t developed the extensive circle of friends I had in Kansas City, I do have friends—good ones, who have been so kind during this mess.

When I lived in Columbus, my friends from church had an expression they used whenever any of us would miss how we lived in the past: I wanna go back to EEEEEEEEEEgypt. You may recall that in the Old Testament, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years before God allowed them to enter the Promised Land. And even though they’d lived in slavery under horrific conditions, they would regularly complain to Moses that they wanted to go back to Egypt. Now I won’t say Boston is as bad as living in slavery under a crazy Pharaoh, not by a long shot. It's also not the Promised Land. I still want to go back.

I'll close with a picture of where the boys like to spend their days when they aren't crying at me. It's not a big window but they manage to squeeze in there anyway.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The effect of stress on cats

I’m not one to humanize animals, but Wally is one stressed kitty. He wanders around down here in the basement, crying and crying. When I go upstairs even for a moment, he cries at the top of the stairs. He roams all night long crying and getting into things, and he’s inconsolable.

I’m not surprised, he’s always been more sensitive to change than the other two cats. And he’s the one who ran into the rising water—I’m pretty sure he was trying to get to his safe spot, the top of our cat perch. I’ve never seen such a terrified cat when he came scrambling back into the bedroom, and getting him into his carrier was really tough.

We have a soft carrier that’s pretty much worthless, it’s too small for any of the cats and it’s difficult to close and to carry. But Wally has used it before as a safe hidey hole so I am hoping he will do so again. I sprinkled some cat nip in the carrier and put in one of his favorite toys. Then I just sat by the carrier for a bit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Temporary housing

Yesterday Kent filled out the necessary paperwork to get us moved into temporary housing. While we have been very thankful to be here in Providence, the additional commute time plus our total isolation has just made the last couple of weeks pretty tough. Winter is coming and even though Kent takes the train, I still have to get him there and Providence is pretty hilly. And at some point construction will start on our apartment, and we'll need to be closer to hand as questions come up.

We'll be living at 221 Mass Ave which is in Back Bay and less than half a mile to our apartment. Use the minus sign (-) to get both places in view if they don't show already.

View Larger Map

Here's the distance from our apartment to the house in Providence:

View Larger Map

I don't look forward to getting moved but I do look forward to actually being there and getting settled.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

53 East Manning Street

My mother lived in Providence as a little girl, and she gave me the address. We drove there today to check it out and wow, it's a cool neighborhood full of historic houses in great shape. It looks as though the house was like the neighbors and was an upstairs/downstairs duplex, but it's been combined into one single family home. So there's a 51 East Manning Street but no 53 East Manning Street.

We took a short video plus a couple of pictures.

Edited to add that after conferring with my uncle, my mother says their address was indeed 51 East Manning Street. What a very cool neighborhood.

Demolition is mostly done

I took these four short videos yesterday that show what's left.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I posted a couple of these on Facebook but I'm still going to post them here. I took three videos so they wouldn't be too large to upload. The noise you hear are the huge fans and dehumidifiers going non-stop.

You'll hear me laugh in this one because I tripped over a trash can. I thought maybe I'd stumbled onto a Three Stooges movie.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

More water feature pictures

Your eyes are not deceiving you, the rug is floating. It protected the coffee table because while the legs got wet, the rest of the table stayed dry. The high water mark was between 18 and 24 inches, although that's not what you see in these pictures. We have or rather we had very tall baseboards, about a foot tall, and the water was way over the top of the baseboards. These pictures were all taken after the water had started receding.

Kent took this and the following picture while it was still somewhat light outside. The water got to the top of the bottom stair, which is an abnormally tall stair (the rest of the stairs are normal, it's just the last step that's a doozy).

This is looking in from our back door.

You can see how much dry wall has been removed. It's this way throughout the entire apartment, and of course the flooring is gone, also any insulation plus all the baseboards.