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Settling in to Castro Valley

I’m spending this week in Philadelphia, which should be a nice break from all the move-in work I’ve been doing at the new house in Castro Valley. It also gives me some time to pause and reflect on just how much I’ve gotten done there, without feeling bad that I’m spending my time writing in my blog instead of doing more.

The first room to be really put together was the downstairs living room plus dining area. MJ got the entertainment system set up and we have our old couch and recliner in there. The couch seriously needs to be replaced and the chair has already been repaired once. I’m hoping we can go out shopping some time in June and at least get the furniture we want ordered. The dining room table down there is the small one MJ had in his old place, which we’ll eventually replace with a bigger, more formal one, but we’ll probably keep this one around for a while.

My home office is coming together nicely. Finally pulled all of my stuff out of storage so I can use and enjoy it again. I had almost 30 totes full of books, toys, framed things, and display items spanning my whole life. I took over the two spare bedrooms to go through all these totes and find homes for everything in my office. Upon opening one of the boxes, I realized from the tape job that I hadn’t opened it the entire time I lived in San Francisco. It took about a week to go through the bulk of it during my evenings, and I still have some cleaning up to do, but I’ve made very good progress and it’s nice to see my office coming together.

As part of this whole process, I needed bookcases for my books to live on. I was worried at first that I wouldn’t have enough space, but the trio of Ikea bookcases we bought succeeded in holding all of my books and are looking quite good in my office.

I still need a sofa bed for the office and we might swap out the filing cabinet for a different type of printer stand that will fit better in the space reserved for it. Aside from that, the last bit of the “room” that needed attention was the tiny deck outside, that is now furnished with a folding chair and table set that I can easily stash in my office when I’m traveling or there’s a storm beyond the usual trickle of water. It’s rated for full time outdoor use, but no sense in putting extra wear on it.

Caligula has been enjoying the new place a lot, since he’s allowed to go outside again. When I had a house in Schwenksville, PA over a decade ago now he would come outside with me in the summer to work on the yard, attached to a 50 ft lead and harness. At the house in Castro Valley the back yard is fully fenced in so I can let him out there to wander on his own, untethered. Most days that means I’ll start working and he’ll tell me when he wants to go out, and come back in. And go out again. And come back in… Still, he seems super happy with the arrangement so I’m willing to put up with being a door servant to my cat.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get the yard under control as well. Most of it is a bed of mulch out back, but weeds pop up through the mulch, and having not been touched for a few months between the owner leaving and me finally getting to it, we had quite the jungle out back. Caligula enjoyed the jungle, but some of the weeds were getting big enough for birds to land on them. I filled up about 4 compost bins with yard scraps as I cleaned up all but a small patch of the weeds out back and had a run at the front yard as well. The front yard is going to need more attention. It’s a bit tricky to tell weeds from intentional plants up there, and there are a number of lovely intentional plants, like a beautiful collection of roses!

There’s also cleaning the house. It’s the biggest house I’ve ever lived in, and while the hardwood and tiled floors throughout do ease the burden of cleaning some, it’s still a tremendous amount of work to keep it clean. With my travel schedule and everything we’ve got going on, I’ve reached out to some local services to see if we can get some help with it on a regular basis.

Before I left for this trip, I finished unpacking clothes in our bedroom so that’s looking a lot more inviting now, and I discovered that MJ does indeed have more than two pairs of jeans. I also hid away a number of totes and boxes that were hanging around the living room, having decided I won’t get to them within the next few weeks. A lot of the rest of the unpacking will have to wait though. We have a remodel planned for the kitchen and what we do in the kitchen will impact the upstairs living spaces quite significantly, so I don’t want to fill up those rooms too much just yet.

I still wish I’d made more progress now that we’re at the three month mark, but when I look at how I’ve been spending my days I realize that I’m barely watching any TV, with most of my downtime consisting of reading before bed. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, we’ll get there eventually, and we’re making progress!

Though I will admit, I am also spending a little time on my Nintendo Switch, which I picked up when I needed some retail therapy before one of my trips. The Zelda game for it is lovely, and I’m a sucker for Stardew Valley.

My Philadelphia trip isn’t without home projects. This week I’m going through all the pictures that we inherited to catalog them and later decide what we’re shipping out west and what we’ll be putting up here. It’s laborious and time-consuming, but I didn’t make many plans this trip so I think I’ll be able to get all the way through it.