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Home, holidays and robots

I’ll begin this post by getting the miserable bit out of the way. The past several weeks have been challenging. To everyone who has offered kindness and support, either because I brought you into my confidence or you noticed something wasn’t quite right, I thank you. To everyone else, I know vague-blogging is tacky, but I did want to publicly mark this point and express gratitude.

In what has turned out to be happier news, I had my last visit with a specialist this week who was addressing the pregnancy complications I discussed in this blog post and I’m back to just seeing my regular OB-GYN. My amniocentesis results came back last week too, giving us the all clear for everything it tests for. I also started to feel him moving right on schedule at 20 weeks, which is one of the strangest feelings I’ve ever experienced, and just last night at 22 weeks the tiniest bit of being able to feel it on the outside started. It’s all been quite the whirlwind and we’re still not even remotely prepared, we haven’t bought anything. I did manage to start researching cribs though, so it begins! I’m already thankful to myself for not making a huge deal out of this, our kiddo won’t have a hyper decked out nursery with matching curtains and a theme because that’s just not us, but he will have what he needs and we’ll figure out the rest along the way. Plus, I aim to have learned how to keep an infant alive by the time he joins us, hah!

Other bits of the house have been moving along too. While I was in Vancouver for the Open Source Summit MJ bit the bullet on the work he’d done researching and gathering estimates to get a tankless water heater installed. They followed up a couple weeks later to complete the work to get whole house re-circulation going. As a result, we now not only have endless hot water, it comes on almost instantly! This is a huge change from when I used to have to let my shower run for 2-3 minutes for it to warm up. Not the ideal situation in frequently drought-swept California.

A couple weekends ago we hired a pair of movers to help us retrieve some stuff from the container we shipped out from Pennsylvania. We aren’t ready to fully empty it, but there were a few things we needed to get out of it for immediate use, which included the guest bed that we brought from the townhouse to set up here. At the house, we also had them move a large filing cabinet and freezer from the upstairs down into MJ’s office and the garage, respectively. Then a bunch of totes that I’d finished unpacking for now that needed to move from the upstairs to the garage. If I’m honest, I wasn’t thrilled that we had to hire help for all of this, if I wasn’t pregnant it’s work that MJ and I would have tackled ourselves over the course of a few weeks, but it did feel nice to finally get it all done. Most of the rooms are now tote-free, so even if the rooms aren’t finished because we need to buy more furniture, they are looking slightly less like we just moved in.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the presence of mind to think about what would happen to a damp freezer after it’s been unplugged. It sat in the garage for two weeks before I finally realized I should open it to let it dry. The sight I beheld upon opening it was not what I wanted to see: mold! In retrospect, it’s obvious that would happen, and I’m glad I checked. Still, it did mean I had to clean it out this weekend, which I finished today. With gloves, mask, bleach cleaner and some elbow grease, I spent about 45 minutes cleaning it out. Good as new!

The guest room still needs a fair amount of work, but finally having a proper bed in there is nice, no more need for guests to stay on air mattresses!

And with the filing cabinet moved out of my office, I could put together the Realspace Magellan Tech Station we picked up a few weeks ago. It fits and looks good in the space we created for it, so I’m happy that’s done. We still need to hang pictures and put up a few shelves, but it’s coming together to be the perfect Lyz cave. I am not shy to admit that I spend almost all of my time in here, whether it’s working, enjoying coffee or meal on the little deck, or reading on the sofa bed we had delivered last month.

After a false start when MJ’s old drill died in the middle of hanging bars in my bathroom, that is finally done too! New drill in hand, he was able to get those put up with no issues. Since I’d already finished buying linens and all the other bathroom stuff for that room, the hanging of the towel bars marked the last official thing we had to do in that room, and I’ve proclaimed completeness there – the first room in the house to be completely Done!

Alas, since houses never let you rest, the next day the dryer stopped drying clothes. I read about the issue online, consensus was that the exhaust vent was clogged and it had probably caused the fuse controlling heat in the dryer to flip. As a result, we had our first experience with a company that came out to clean out the dryer exhaust vent. I did some research online, called around, and had an appointment booked for a week and a half after the problem cropped up. In spite of arriving a bit early, the crew was incredibly professional, and even swapped out the somewhat hacked together exhaust tubing that came with the house with something new and more maintainable at no extra charge. They showed the old one to me, in addition to being totally blocked, there was also an old bird’s nest in it. Apparently it’s pretty common, especially if a house had been left sitting a few months without the dryer being used, as ours had between the previous owner moving out and us moving in. Thankfully the dryer just worked after that, no fuse replacement! All things considered, it was definitely one of the easier fixes.

We’ve also bought a couple robots. With me off cat litter box duty for the first time in 14+ years, we decided to buy a Litter-Robot III Open Air with Connect. We set it up last weekend and had our doubts that Caligula would take to it, but he seems to be OK with it so far. He’s approaching is 15th birthday though, so I did order the stairs addition for it as it may become more difficult for him to climb into it over the next few years. It also seems to work pretty well, and I especially like that the company is honest about not actually needing to use their branded replacement bags, or the carbon filter at all. The product is expensive, and gives you plenty of lock-in already, but not bankrupting you with a razor blade-esque gimmick is really nice.

The second robot is the Roomba 890. It took me a couple weeks to set it up following delivery from the Labor Day sale they had, mostly because house was in a state a flux due to all the work we’d been doing. It was finally settled enough this past week to set it loose on the downstairs, which is effectively one huge room, plus MJ’s office and a bathroom. The experiment went well, after about an hour it had finished cleaning the floors in the big room and the bathroom. The other day I brought it upstairs, which presented some challenges. The transitions between the tile and hardwood floors in our house are not very smooth, there’s almost a one inch dip between rooms. I knew it was an iffy transition and it would probably get stuck. We should probably install the room transition runners anyway so no one stubs their toes, but Roomba acquisition made this more important. In the meantime, some strategic closing of doors and moving the robot between rooms, it made its way around the upstairs, finally finishing the whole floor.

In the midst of this, the High Holidays! Rosh Hashanah began the evening of September 9th, and then Yom Kippur the evening of September 18th. Tonight Sukkot begins. We made the trek back to San Francisco for services, since that’s where we’re members. In spite of what now is, at best, a 45 minute drive from home, we have enjoyed being part of the congregation there and are reluctant to leave for one that’s closer to our new home. We’ll see how things go, but in the meantime it was nice to enjoy services in the beautiful, historic sanctuary there for one more year.

Now my efforts are focused on a quick vacation this week to Las Vegas for my birthday. Pools! Shows! Food! Trains! We’re flying out Wednesday evening and I’m coming home on Sunday, as MJ heads off to a conference. It should be a nice time, and I could use the time away.