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Leaking Pipe

I was hoping to move into the new house this weekend.  We’re not quite done with painting and the hardwood floors just arrived, but I figured we would do the work faster if we were actually living here in the basement and faced with the unfinished work everyday.  So I made arrangements to move in this weekend.

Unfortunately, we’ve discovered a leak in the basement.  It’s not a gushing pipe, but enough of a leak to stain the ceiling, warp the drywall, and stain the carpet underneath.  It seems like this leak just recently started dripping, as we found no evidence of it in the house inspection.   Even Hubby, who is pretty meticulous when it comes to house inspections, didn’t notice it.

So we won’t be moving in this weekend.  It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to move until we finish the paint and the hardwoods in the bedrooms.  Hopefully we’ll get our butts in gear and get everything done soon.

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Cranky Closing

We closed on our new house yesterday.  We weren’t sure we were going to be able to close on schedule as there were a number of miscommunications with the bank that had us scrambling until this week.  (See previous post: Life in a Post-Regulation World.)  Plus, there were some issues in the papers filed: the lawyers’ office wrote the WRONG ADDRESS on the deed and when I called them to have this corrected, the paralegal said she would correct it, but she was quite snippy with me.  Don’t we hire lawyers to dot their I’s and cross their T’s?  This wasn’t a mere typo, but the complete wrong address with the wrong street, in the wrong town, in the wrong county.  Sloppy work.  Don’t we have the right to have our house deed with the right address on it?  Hubby and I will register our displeasure with the bank, who hired these bozos.

All in all, this closing was quite a bit more stressful than when we bought our house in Portland.  We still like the house a lot and the sellers and realtors were very cooperative, but the bank and the lawyers were less than optimal in this whole process.  So we went through the empty house last night with a smudge stick to purify the place for good spirits.

We’ll have the house cleaned and do a few projects (painting the nursery, possibly install hardwood floors in the bedrooms) before moving in.

In happier news, baby has been kicking quite regularly.  Hubby even got to feel the kicks!

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House Inspection

House inspection yesterday.  It looks like things are in good shape.  The furnace and hot water heater are 26 years old, still working, but will probably need to be replaced soon.  This makes Hubby happy because his brain is clicking on about high-efficiency heating and better insulation.  Projects are good, but can we get them done before the baby arrives and winter hits?

Here are a few photos:

 

Long driveway.  House is set back from the street.

Long driveway. House is set back from the street.

Living Room

Living Room

 

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

2nd Bedroom, aka Baby's room

2nd Bedroom, aka Baby's room

 

Kitchen.  There's a wine cooler!

Kitchen. There's a wine cooler!

 

Dining area

Dining area

 

View of guest suite

View of guest suite

 

Backyard

Backyard

Plus 8 acres of forest

Plus 8 acres of forest

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We had our first appointment with our new OB/GYN here in New Hampshire.  We are currently 19 weeks along.  They did an extensive fetal survey with the ultrasound.  Baby is 12 cm from head to rump and approximately 9 ounces.  The ultrasound showed the baby moving quite a bit, but I have yet to feel movement, unless I’m mistaking it for gas.  All tests show the baby is developing normally.  The doctor says I have the uterus of a 25-year-old.  

I tend to get a wee anxious between doctor’s visits, when I am reassured that the baby is doing fine.  I suppose that will change once I feel the baby moving–perhaps so much that the baby may keep me awake at night.  Hubby says I kick at night and maybe the baby will make me kick more.  Poor guy will never get any sleep.  We must buy a king-size bed.

We are almost half-way through our pregnancy and the reality of baby is starting to feel more real.  I’m very excited.  Hubby even more so.  Though I do wonder if I’ll be a good mother.  My family has a tendency towards helicopter parenting, which is not optimal.  We’re Chinese, you know.

 

Baby Bean at 19 weeks

Baby Bean at 19 weeks

 

 

Baby seems to have quite a prominent nose, which must be attributed to Hubby’s genes.  Hope Baby inherits my palate, though.

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Cover the Commode

I have been keeping a running list of differences I observe between West and East coasts and today I submit the following: toilet seat covers.

Here in New Hampshire, there are very few public restrooms that offer toilet seat covers, those rice-paper thin, disposable covers cut into the shape of the toilet seat.  They are easily disposed by flushing them down the toilet.  There are a nice addition to the hygienic practices of using public restrooms.  On the West Coast, they are ubiquitous.

I remember when I was first introduced to toilet seat covers in college in California.  They were foreign to me at the time and I didn’t understand how to slip the thin sheets out of their pockets, snap off the centers and lay them on the toilet.  This was demonstrated by a dorm resident assistant in an amusing skit, during which the RA pranced about the room with a stack of toilet seat covers around his neck.  That RA is now a surgeon at a top hospital in Boston and a professor of public health at Harvard, in addition to writing for Slate, The New Yorker, and authoring two best-selling books.  I knew he was smart back then, so I listened to his advice.

My mother has always been particularly wary of public restrooms, so much so that she taught me to squat on top of the toilet seat rather than sit on them.  This squatting training would come in handy whenever I traveled in Asia, where squatty potties are the norm and, I might add, more hygienic than Western toilets because there is no actual skin contact.  (I understand this squatting training will also be helpful in childbirth, but I digress.)  So I was pleased to see that my mother orders toilet seat covers for the restrooms at their company.  My mother, however, does not trust the toilet seat covers and insists on covering the toilet seat with her own makeshift cover of toilet paper.  Same concept, less convenient.

At any rate, I am annoyed at the dearth of toilet seat covers in public restrooms here and may find myself resorting to my mother’s toilet paper covers or squatting on top of the toilet.  I miss California.

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Hubby and I spent yesterday afternoon and this morning digging through tax returns, bank statements, W-4’s, and a whole ream of asset verification for our new home loan.  Evidently, our finances are pretty complicated.  

Hubby commented how things were easier for our Portland house, which we bought in 2005, at the height of the real estate bubble.  That was a no-asset/no-income verification loan.  All they did was check our credit rating and then they plopped down $200K.  What a crazy world.

As much as digging through our files is a pain in the ass, I don’t mind this loan.  We have managed to find all the documents, even though all our belongings are stashed in my parents’ garage.  I guess we’re not as unorganized as we appear.  The bank is doing its due diligence in ensuring that we’re a safe bet to pay back our loan, as opposed to our Portland mortgage lender who just took our word for it.  Thankfully, both Hubby and I are fiscally conservative and don’t bite off more than we can chew.  So maybe our high credit scores did show that we were a good bet for a loan after all.

Home inspection will be on Friday.  For those asking for photos, click here.

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Wired

The lack on internet access is crimping my blogging style.  My parents have no access from their house, even dial-up.  Hubby and I haunt the local library for our internet fix, once even parking outside and mooching off the free wifi.  It’s ridiculous how disconnected I feel from the modern world without internet.  All our research about real estate, mortgage rates, schools, obstetricians, shopping, maps, shopping, good pizza, etc. is all done online.  All my parents have is copy of the yellow pages.

Things are a big more modern at their company, but Hubby and I are looking at quite a bit of work to get them up to speed to doing business in the 21st century.  Most of the company knowledge is stuck somewhere in my parents’ brains and we will need to extract the knowledge and document it.  Computers are good, but there’s nothing really compared to the knowledge stored in a good human brain.

Hubby just called and said our offer on our house was accepted!  Now we’ve got some running around to do to get into our own home…and soon our own wifi network!

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In a Yellow Wood

Today, Hubby and I put in a bid for a small house on 8 acres of wooded land.  We bid $265,000.  You couldn’t buy a parking space in San Francisco for that amount of money.  The owners are moving to Florida and are motivated to sell.  They said they’d even throw in a old plow truck for the long driveway. 

The house is in move-in condition with recently painted walls, new appliances, and nice hardwood floors.  This is very different from our Portland house, which Hubby gutted and reconstructed himself with his family’s help.  In looking for a house this time around, I kept reminding Hubby that his family was not nearby and he wouldn’t get that kind of skilled help from my family, so any renovation project had to be low-maintenance manageable or we’d have to contract it out.  Thankfully, Hubby really likes this house, as the craftsmanship is well-done, even to his high standards.

With 8 acres of land, Hubby is thinking his “projects” are full of endless possibilities.  He wants to build a detached garage (currently the house doesn’t have a garage) with a workshop/apartment above it.  He also wants to build a retreat cabin somewhere on the land for artists, writers, thinkers, burnt out community activists, etc.  The cabin will be off-grid and have a bath house with radiant heat floors.  Of course, we’d have to build a trail to the cabin and do a bit of landscaping.

We’ve been in New Hampshire for nine days.  Go figure.

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Chasing Windmills

On our road trip across the continent, we noted quite a number of wind farms popping up all over country.  On our trip to Vancouver Island last year, we passed by a convoy carrying a single blade for a windmill.  The blade was huge, about 75  feet long.  It was hard to fathom a windmill that large.  We got a good look at these wind farms during this move across America.  

Windmill in Wyoming

Windmill in Wyoming

The first farm we encountered was in the Columbia River Gorge dividing Oregon and Washington state.  The gorge is well known for its wind, so it seemed appropriate that they would try to harness the wind power of the landscape.  But we also came across wind farms dotted all over Wyoming, Nebraska, and Iowa.  The windmills turned in tune with the wind, dancing a majestic ballet on an otherwise flat horizon.

Hubby’s research found that each windmill sweeps 1.5 acres of airspace, producing 1.8 megawatts of power.  Each windmill could conservatively power 400 homes.  Put it altogether in a wind farm with over 100 windmills and that’s a lot of power.  

It was also encouraging to see the wind farms pop up on actual farm lands in Iowa, so that the land could do double-duty, both producing food and power.  Some innovative technologies going on our land.

That’s my plug for alternative energy.  Save the planet, dammit. Don Quixote would approve.

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On Beauty

I’m wondering how long I can claim exhaustion before I’m expected to write something intelligent in my blog.  Even in the middle of my lethargic haze, it’s been impossible to avoid the news coverage of Michael Jackson’s death.  His music is on all the radio stations, music that is nostalgic for me, growing up in the 80’s.  I hope he is remembered more for his music than for the freaky tabloid stories about his life.

There have been retrospectives about Jackson’s life and I am struck by the photos of him in the late 70’s, before he got his nose jobs and before his skin started to bleach white.  Despite his own dissatisfaction with his appearance, I think he was quite a beautiful man with his own natural features, with what God gave him.  He looked healthy.  He looked full of life.  Later images of Jackson are sickly and ghost-like.  He looked more like the living dead featured in his ground-breaking Thriller video.

I think about the forces in our society and in ourselves that make someone want to alter his or her appearance so drastically.  The skin bleaching is perhaps an obvious attempt for a black man to assimilate into a white-dominated society’s view of beauty.  One could argue the same for the nose jobs.  This seems all too simplistic an explanation as to why a beautiful, healthy black man would endure these endless plastic surgeries.  Who knows of Jackson’s demons that would drive him to such actions?

When I was a teenager, I would have loved a nose job.  I thought my nose was too flat, too big, compared to the slim pointy noses of my Caucasian classmates.  In retrospect, I would have looked strange with a small, pointy Caucasian nose in the middle of my Asian face.  Thankfully my parents didn’t have the money or the patience to indulge my petty teenage angst.

Later, I was to discover an operation popular among Asian women who wanted their eyes to look rounder, more Caucasian.  Asians typically have what is called an epicanthic fold in their eyelids, in which the skin folds inward so that it looks like we have no eyelids.  This operation stitches the inside of the eyelid so that the skin looks like it folds outward, creating a crease between the brow and the eyelid.  In other words, the operation creates a clear delineation for one to place the eyeshadow makeup.  I always thought the operation was ridiculous and refused to entertain the thought, even when my mother’s friends’ daughters would go under the knife.  

I note that when I was a teenager and went to a mall to get a makeover, the makeup artist did not know where to place the eyeshadow.  To this day, makeovers feel artificial to me, as if someone is trying to impose their own image of beauty on my face, but the result is always the face of a stranger.  I feel the same way about colored contact lenses as friends would change their eye color to look different, unusual.  It would make people look at them twice, they said.  It would make them stand out.  

But for me, I could not understand  why you would want to create an illusion of someone who was not truly you.  It would be like walking around with a mask that would eventually have to come off.  Unless you had the wealth, as Michael Jackson did, to surgically alter your appearance permanently.  But to me, it seems suffocating, like you always had to pretend to be someone you were not.  It would be like living a lie.

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