Sunday, January 31, 2010


Reconstruction continues on our apartment. In the last couple of weeks we’ve:

*Ordered the kitchen appliances and cabinets.
*Ordered the new flooring—we are putting in engineered wood, which is wood veneer on top of engineered wood.
*Bought the tile for the bathtub.
*Picked (but haven’t yet purchased) a new vanity for the bathroom.
*Decided we did want to put in the split ductless heating/cooling system.
*Bought a new hot water heater.

And our general contractor has made a lot of progress too.

*All the ruined dry wall has been removed through out the apartment.
*The tile from the tub/shower was removed.
*The marble tiles in our hall and office areas have been cleaned and where necessary, regrouted.
*The new closet in our bedroom has been framed out (hurrah!).

There’s probably more but I’m not remembering all that at the moment. Instead I’m busy packing for our trip to Jamaica. I may post a picture or two this week but then again, I may be busy doing nothing.

See you next weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

So about that job I mentioned

On February 8, I start working for Dare Mighty Things as their senior consultant. DMT is a management consulting company that specializes in working with non-profits to help them be as efficient and effective as possible in serving their target groups.

I could copy and paste the job description but as a friend of mine says, small words are better and the description was on the long side. But the Reader’s Digest version is this: I’ll:

*Consult in areas like organizational development, capacity building, skills training, change management, program design and development
*Train the people who actually offer the training to the target groups,
*Conduct needs assessments to identify and solve problem areas of organizational and program effectiveness
*Identify and capture research findings, best practices, innovations and so on so that all clients have access to this information.

I’m pretty excited, to be honest. This is exactly the career path I started on way back in 2005 when I was accepted to the MIOP program at KSU. The single drawback is the commute—DMT is located in Portsmouth, NH which is about 60 miles north of where we live. But I’ll also be traveling about 50% of the time, and as I told DMT, Logan International is a lot closer to my house than Portsmouth!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New England Bloggers

Well I’m a day late on this, although I had the best of intentions. Elizabeth from Thoughts from An Evil Overlord created the New England Blogger group and the first anniversary was actually yesterday. She asked that we write about New England—maybe our favorite places to visit, funny stories and stereotypes, recipes, photos of our gorgeous landscape and so on and then link back to her blog. So I’m doing just that today.

So far I don’t have a favorite place to visit. I think I need more than 18 months of living here to come up with that. Talk to me again in June after I’ve been driving to Portsmouth, NH for work each day (yes I got a job, more about that later this week). As for funny stories, well so far I can list a flood, a layoff and a lawsuit as memorable although they aren’t funny.

But I can share a story from Kent. Worcester is a town about 40 miles west of Boston, although in a way it’s almost part of Boston—people do commute from there to work in Boston. We’ve always giggled at how the local NPR announcer says Worcester: WOOster. OK, we aren’t from here and I certainly laughed at how folks in Columbus, OH say Scioto (cyotah) or people in the Kansas City area say Olathe (oLAYtha).

The day of the flood, Kent grabbed a cab to get home because at the time I didn’t know the water was coming from a water main break and I thought maybe the T lines had flooded or something. So he told the cab driver our address and added that the nearest cross street was Worcester. The cab driver, who was clearly a native Bostonian, immediately asked him how he’d said that word.

So Kent repeated himself, “WOOster.”

The cab driver laughed and laughed. “So how do you say it?” Kent asked.


We still laugh about that.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Of duvets and naps

Wally won't sleep under the covers with us at night; that's strictly Eddie's thing. But that's not to say Wally doesn't ever get underneath covers, because he does. It just has to be on his terms.

Edited to add that as of 3:18 PM, he's still there.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Here's the very essence of a Sunday nap:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Big T, little T

First, I mean no offense by this post. This is just where my thoughts have been and what I’ve realized for myself.

Haiti’s earthquake has been well covered by the media, and rightly so. The devastation is horrendous, and only further worsens the situation in what NPR called the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Even though I don’t watch TV, I’ve seen the images online and have heard the stories on NPR. I’m glad to see the outpouring of support from the US and other countries, because Haiti most certainly needs it.

However, and at the risk of sounding hard-hearted, I do wonder about the lack of response to tragedies that might not be quite so enormous or photogenic in scope but are as devastating to the people affected. I’m hearing reports about the risk of starvation in Haiti. What about the starvation that’s been going on in Darfur for years? Sure we heard about it a lot in 2004, but it’s rarely covered now even though the situation is still quite desperate.

Or think about Katrina. If you are like me—and I admit this with some shame—I grew tired of hearing about what the people who lived in New Orleans were/are going through. I skipped those news stories or turned the radio station to something else. And I feel like a jerk for doing that. After going through a much less devastating water disaster and seeing how long our puny destruction is taking to recover from, I’m really sorry I got impatient with that news coverage.

It’s as though we are collectively entranced by the big T tragedies. But the little T tragedies sort of escape our notice or are somehow downplayed as not being all that bad. I really regret having had that attitude.

Three weeks ago, another water main ruptured in the South End, and more people were displaced from their homes because of the water damage. I had a very different response to that information than I would have prior to October 28—although I’m not in a position to offer any real help, I also didn’t just immediately think ho hum and move on.

I hope I keep this lesson close to my heart. I don’t want to be callus to suffering, even if it’s not the kind that’s talked about all over the place.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hidden details

(De)construction continues on the apartment and it’s a big ol dusty mess in there. We have a closet in our bedroom that goes underneath the front sidewalk, and I’d always figured that closet was not original to the building. But once the dry wall came out of that closet, we could see the brick work and I realized that it had been there all along. It was probably part of the way coal was delivered and stored for the house.

Take a look at these pictures. You can see arches in the doorway to the closet and also in a wall at the end of our tub. That arched opening was covered over with dry wall. I wish there were a way to have those arches show but that would require reconfiguring our entire bathroom and that’s not in the budget.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I ran across this video I took probably six months ago, and seeing our home undamaged made me nostalgic. I look forward to when this whole mess is nothing but distant memories. I doubt I ever laugh about it though.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Appliances and tile

Well we are one for two today. We found the appliances for our kitchen at pretty reasonable prices at Yale Appliances. Our salesman is a true Bostonian, born in Dorchester, so we asked him to recommend somewhere we could get a good bar burger. He didn't have to think about it very long, he immediately suggested Fat Belly Deli. With a name like that, we figured it would probably be just fine, and it was most definitely what we were looking for. Kent had a steak tip sandwich while I chose the meatball sandwich. Remember how I swooned over Tommy's in Providence? These meatballs were even better.

We didn't have as much success with the tile but that was partly our own doing. We didn't bring our measurements with us, and we also didn't bring one of the kitchen cabinet doors along. We need that to make sure whatever we choose for the kitchen floor looks fine with the cabinets.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

So much going on

We finally got a dollar amount from the condominium association's insurance company--we don't actually have the check but it's coming by the end of the month. Since we got that news, we've lined up a general contractor (he did a bunch of renovations for some friends of ours in the building), met with our realtor and his partner who is an interior decorator for finish advice aimed at a quicker sale should that have to happen, decided on a few changes that will also help with resale as well as improving the livability of the apartment, and met with a kitchen person at Home Depot to sort out exactly which cabinets we need to order.

This weekend we need to hit the tile stores because the tile on the kitchen floor has to be replaced as does the tile around the tub. As it turns out, we get to/have to replace the tub tile because the water got into the drywall behind the tile on the front part of the tub. You can see what the tile looks like in this picture--it's pretty cool-looking but very hard to get paint that works with that tile. I'd like to replace it with white subway tile.

I'm exhausted.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I realized I’m a hoarder. Oh not in the conventional A&E Hoarders sense—you won’t find piles of much of anything where I live and that’s not just because we lost so much. I tend to toss rather than keep and I’ll never be accused of being a pack rat.

Instead, when something I really love to use is running low and money is tight, I stop using that item and I hoard it. For example, I have a Clinique lip repair (fancy chap stick really) that I use because after decades of playing a double reed instrument, my lips are beyond dry. I’ve tried pretty much every lip product out there and this is by far the most effective. But at $25 a tube, it's not cheap. I’m running low so rather than going ahead and using it up, I’ve stopped using it.

I do the same thing with books. I bought an Iain Banks book in the spring of 2008 and didn’t open it until the summer of 2009.

Now I’m doing the same thing with a book sent to me by a high school friend. I haven’t even opened it—I’m hoarding it, and saving it for proper enjoyment. I will relish every single bit of this book from opening the package to reading every single word.

I doubt my version of hoarding will ever be shown on TV.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Snooze inducing

The cat tree is right by the couch which is where I was when I took this video. I wanted to take a nap just watching them.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pretty boy

Wally is highly photogenic, but so is his litter mate Eddie. I got these pictures yesterday.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Flood update

If you’d told me on October 28 that we would still be living in temporary quarters on January 6—10 weeks later!—and that reconstruction still would not have started, I wouldn’t have believed you.

And yet that’s where we are. Our apartment is still the same ruined mess and we are still living on the eighth floor on Mass Ave.

I do have some progress to report, though. Right before New Year’s Day, we received notification that the condominium association’s insurance company had agreed on a figure for the reconstruction cost. We don’t actually have a check just yet, that won’t get here until the end of January.

As a quick aside, reconstruction is more complicated here because we have the condominium association’s insurance, which covers the walls, the floors, the kitchen cabinets and some major appliances, and we have our personal property insurance which will cover those appliances not covered by the condominium association’s insurance. Since the condo association’s insurance company had their own adjuster plus a public adjuster, the whole negotiation process took a long time.

Anyway, we have requested estimates from two general contractors and have begun the tedious process of finding replacements for our stove, dishwasher, refrigerator and so on. Honestly it’s overwhelming. The general contractor we are almost certainly going to use says it will take four to six weeks to rebuild once he starts if we have all the necessary permits (which is a huge pain in the rear in Boston) and the appliances and cabinets. We’re thinking it will be more like eight weeks. So even if he starts on Monday, which he won’t, we are in this apartment for the rest of the winter. Bleh.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Daily habits

The other night as Kent and I were getting ready for bed, he said he’d decided something if/when he is completely out of work. His last day with his current company is February 26, and so far opportunities are not exactly plentiful, so he could well be totally unemployed in about eight weeks.

Anyway, he said he’d decided that he would get dressed every day but then amended that rule to exclude shoes. Since most of his shoes didn’t survive the water damage, he doesn’t have a pair he considers entirely comfortable. So he thought wearing slippers would be acceptable. I told him in my experience, he might want to wear shoes at least half the time since otherwise he’ll lose the normal tough spots on his feet and when he needs to wear shoes, he’ll get blisters. Plus, if I hadn’t been wearing shoes when our apartment filled with water, I would have had to go barefoot in Boston and that is not a good thing.

After I had been out of work for a month or so, I devised my own list of behaviors and practices that I believed were both helpful and essential in staying calm and balanced during this time. So in no particular order, here they are:

1. Shower, put on make-up and get dressed every day—including shoes. This sounds like a no-brainer but I have friends in similar circumstances who don’t. Obviously if you don’t wear make-up normally, this item wouldn’t apply to you but I do normally wear it. And with the exception of three days, I’ve put it on every day.

2. Work out regularly. For me, that’s six days a week. I stay fit, plus exercise is a fantastic mood-booster. And I certainly have the time for it.

3. Stay connected to friends and family. Most of the time, this connection is virtual because let’s face it, plane tickets are expensive and even driving somewhere isn’t cheap. But the internet makes staying connected very easy, assuming your friends and family are also online.

4. Keep your brain active. I read a lot, and I started this blog entirely for myself. Writing is a great way for me to both process what’s going on in my life and also use my brain.

5. Get back to your cheap hobbies. For me, that’s sewing although if I’m not careful I can spend a lot on fabric or patterns. So now finding super cheap patterns and fabric I like at low prices becomes part of the process. The fabric store I go to here in Boston has two giant tables filled with out of date patterns. Vogue patterns are $5 each, and the rest are only $1. Most of the time, the out of date patterns suit my purposes just fine.

6. Get outside pretty much every day. I don’t always do this here in Boston, mostly because the weather can be uncooperative. However now that we are in temporary quarters, I’ve got a built-in errand I have to do regularly—pick up the mail at our apartment. That’s about a half mile walk each way.

7. Keep regular waking/sleeping hours. I don’t know about you, but I find that if I stick to regular bedtimes and regular wake-up times, I am generally a lot better rested. Plus if/when I get a job, I don’t want to go through a week or so of adjusting to getting up at a normal working day time. Returning to work will be a big enough adjustment for me, why add to it?

I’m hoping Kent isn’t actually out of work or that if he is, it’s only for a week or so. I was glad, though, that he has already started thinking about his own routine should that happen.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Kitchen stuff

Occasionally I read Unclutterer, a blog about getting rid of the clutter in your life. Some of the articles are a bit on the extreme side for me, some are pretty funny (every Wednesday is Unitasker Wednesday), and some are pretty useful. The blog owners created a list of their favorite articles this year, which led me to this article by Mark Bittman. If you aren’t familiar with him, he’s got a regular column in the NY Times, has published a bunch of cookbooks, and also has a blog.

I found his article about essential (and non-essential) kitchen equipment both timely and interesting. Most of our kitchen equipment is packed up in storage while we wait and wait for the insurance check to arrive so we can rebuild. Meanwhile, we live in a furnished apartment but pretty clearly the normal tenant doesn’t cook much, or at least doesn’t cook from scratch the way we do. We aren’t reheating take out, we are preparing our dishes from the mostly raw ingredients—or what Dan at Casual Kitchen calls first order foods.

We’ve picked up some things that were missing from this kitchen, and it’s made cooking go smoothly again. The things we’ve bought might make it to your equipment list or maybe you prefer other items:

Measuring cups—the unit came with one glass 1-cup measuring cup. We bought a set, which means we’ll have three sets once we’re moved back.

Measuring spoons—while the unit had a set, we use these all the time, and washing three or four times while preparing one meal got old.

Silicon spatula—how do people manage without these? We are making do with just one and I got a size we didn’t already have.

Cutting mats—sorry, Furnished Quarters, I detest glass cutting boards plus they are awfully hard on knives. Speaking of which . . .

Knives—fortunately, I snagged three knives from our apartment. The ones here barely cut bread.

Wooden spoon—I love wooden spoons, and this place didn’t have a single one.

Bread pans, small rectangular baking pan, two round baking pans, and a 6-muffin muffin pan—the only baking dishes here were a large glass rectangular pan plus a cookie sheet. I’m using those too, but I make our bread and do a lot of other baking as well.

What do you consider essential in your kitchen?