Monday, April 30, 2007

All I Wanted Was an Outlet. . .

This is my house. It's very cute, and very old (built in 1882).

The wiring is particularly ancient; I still have some knob and tube wiring in service, and the outlets all suck.

No problem, I thought. I'll just replace the outlets in the office, the ones where if you brush up against anything plugged into them, they come unplugged, especially the computer power cord (oops).

Anyone who owns an old house knows where this story is going.

So I started looking into outlets, and realized I needed to ground the outlets. And that lead to the realization that I'd need to replace the circuit panel. And while I was at it, it would probably just be easier to rewire the rest of the house, and put in a few more outlets in the office, and put the furnace on its own circuit, and so on. We called electricians and got bids and were prepared to spend eleventy-billion dollars on our modest home improvement project.

Then the furnace died.

This was not exactly a surprise, just as it was not a surprise that my ancient wiring needed to be replaced. The furnace is probably at least 50 years old, and hideously inefficient. It was really time for a new furnace anyway.

The asbestos on the ducts, also not a surprise. But it sure does add to the bill.

Old houses, I think, know when you have the checkbook out. Today, while the asbestos guys were in the basement doing their thing, we noticed a fairly significant leak in the plumbing. I swear it wasn't there two days ago.

Houses just know.

On the plus side, Sean's been really helpful with this whole process. He's spent a lot of time on the phone gathering bids and coordinating schedules, and he's staying home and dealing with the legion of workers. It's just very nice to have someone to help with all this stuff.

And a little thing that made me happy: I got a review copy of John Scalzi's The Last Colony in the mail today. I enjoyed The Ghost Brigades a lot, and am looking forward to reading Scalzi's latest.

Monday, April 16, 2007

It's Done!

The Great Declutter Project of 2007 is officially DONE. Tonight I cleaned out the last closet. The recycling and garbage bins are fairly full, and the car has lots of things for the thrift store.

I think the house is cleaner and less cluttered now than it was when I moved in. It feels great.

Of course, there's still more to do. I didn't include the laundry room or the basement in this project, and I wasn't particularly rigorous in deciding what to throw out, and I didn't even touch the files (do I really need bank statements from 1991? No, I do not. But that is a project for another day.) but damn, it feels really good to have things in such good order.

The next project is to finish deep cleaning the non-closet areas of the house - washing curtains and windows, scrubbing the woodwork, cleaning the floors, all that good stuff. I already did an amazing job on the kitchen, but there's plenty left to do. And then it is time for some rewiring. And after that, dozens of other projects - it never ends.

So why am I on a cleaning and home repair binge? Well, it's always good to keep your house from looking like a crazy person lives there. But the reason I'm doing it right now, of all times, is because my super-nice boyfriend Sean is moving in next week. We are so cute I could just hurl - but it's very, very good.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Further Adventures in Decluttering

Today's project was to clean out the closet in the office. No big deal, I thought; I'd done a pretty thorough job of cleaning it out about two years ago, so it shouldn't be too bad.

I was wrong.

First, I found a pile of empty notebooks. Great! I knew I'd bought some a while ago; nice to know where they were. And you always need more notebooks.

And then I found the other four different piles of notebooks, mostly slightly used. Two pages of grocery lists, etc. I diligently sorted them out, tore out the pages of ancient crap, and set them in the notebook pile. This was worse than the sugar.

So I sorted and recycled and set stuff aside for the thrift store. 2 full recycling bins, 2 bags of garbage, half a carload of crap to go to the thrift store, and I was down to the last box.

I opened it up and saw that it was full of ancient memorabilia. Stuff from when I lived in Poland in the mid-80s, stuff from high school, etc. So I settled in with some dinner and started sorting it out.

I found more damn notebooks. Empty, for the most part, the kind we used in school in Poland.
They're about the size of a copy of Shimmer (though not as pretty), usually with brown cardboard covers.

That's right. I've been carrying a stack of empty notebooks around with me since 1984.

I also found a bunch of old family pictures.

This one is of me (on the right) and my sister, probably about 1974. We're sitting outside the pig pen; when I was growing up, we raised pigs, chickens, and geese. One year we had two sheep and a calf named Sam. Unfortunately, after Sam got old enough to jump the fence, he got turned into Samburgers.

This one is of me (in the center) having a lovely time at a family reunion.

And here's one more. Love that outfit!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sugar Sugar

Feeling a bit better today, though my stomach still feels a bit unreliable.

I spent a large portion of today cleaning out the kitchen. I mean really cleaning it - the kind of cleaning where you take everything off the shelves and throw away half of it and then scrub down the shelves and cabinet doors and wash the walls. It's a huge amount of work, and I'm tired - but there's still a lot more to do.

Once again I'm amazed at the crap I found to throw out. A big bottle of cheap cooking oil with an expiration date of 2002. Unlabeled spices in little plastic baggies from the bulk spice section at the natural foods store. Vast quantities of ancient tupperware with no lids and other deformities.

What amazed me the most, though, was the sugar. I don't use much sugar, so I was surprised to find several pounds of plain sugar, 2 containers of brown sugar, 2 of confectioner's sugar, 2 bottles of molasses (with about a teaspoon missing from each), 1 bottle of corn syrup, and 3 bottles of cheap crappy maple syrup. I threw out what I needed to, dusted and consolidated the rest, and arranged it all neatly on the sugar shelf.

Then it was time to clean out the lower cabinets. I sorted out all the pots and pans and appliances and cleaned -- and when I moved everything out, in the very back of one cabinet, in a location that's so difficult to reach that I actually had to crawl into the cabinet, I found... more sugar.


Still more cleaning to do...

I took a few hours off to go dye eggs with my friend Keri and her kids. Mine is purple and has a unicorn and a rainbow on it.

Happy Easter, y'all.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Home sick

So I'm home from work today. I'm not feeling well, which sucks, but it'll give me a chance to do lots of napping, and get caught up on a lot of things in between naps.

All eleventy-billion copies of Shimmer have gone out to subscribers; I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks about this issue.

I'm planning on doing a lot of reading today. That includes reading some stuff by my friend Sara Genge, who is everywhere these days: she's got a story up at Helix, and is a contributor to The Daily Cabal. Also in the pile is the debute issue of All Possible Worlds, which I'm very curious to read.

And of course I have a heaping pile of Shimmer work to do. I expect I'll get through a lot of it - but first, a nap.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's Here!

At long last, the Winter issue of Shimmer is here! I'm very pleased with this issue, and I hope you'll think it's worth the wait. There's still snow on the mountains in Utah, so I tell myself it is still winter, despite the daffodils and tulips and dandelions blooming in my yard.

Our cover story is Juana and the Dancing Bear, by n. a. bourke; Sandro Castelli created a gorgeous cover to illustrate it.

Several authors we've published before appear in this issue. We've got Dario Ciriello's story Dwell on Her Graciousness, Amal El-Mohtar's Sparrow and Egg, Michael Livingston's Catch of the Day, Tom Cofferwillow Comes Undone, by Stephen L. Moss, and a Lucy cartoon from Chrissy Ellsworth. We're happy to have the opportunity to publish these authors again, and trust you'll be happy to see their names again.

Oh, but there's more: Cat Rambo's Eagle-haunted Lake Sammamish, Mike Driver's Night Milling, and Duets by Phillip J. Lees.

I keep wanting to talk about these stories, tell you how gorgeous Juana and the Dancing Bear is, how Eagle-haunted Lake Sammamish breaks my heart every time, how "dogspringles" became my new favorite expletive after reading Tom Cofferwillow Comes Undone - but I don't want to tell you about it. I want you to read it for yourself. So head on over to Shimmer and check it out.


I've been hideously productive today. I worked on one thing or another practically nonstop for almost twelve hours. Here's some of what I did: about half of the mailing, laundry, ran the dishwasher, decluttered and cleaned the office (do I really need three separate paper clip repositories? No, I do not.), sent long overdue replies to some important e-mail, washed a very dirty wall in the kitchen, ran some errands, and, hell, about a hundred other things that I am forgetting now. Tomorrow looks like it should be just as busy.

But now, it is time for a drink.