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Guys, it’s hot here. And by here, I mean in my house. You know, the one I just bought that probably costs more than all the other (owned) houses I’ve lived in combined. Yeah. Not happy.

Our swamp cooler is an ineffective piece of garbage. As I type, it’s 84 degrees in here. I have been running this g.d. thing all day, and it wasn’t hotter than 90. The humidity was low, too. I just don’t get it! We should in theory be able to keep the house easily below 80, if not below 75. We have tried everything to no avail. It’s just a hot, sticky mess in here.

Thank the heavens that we broke down and bought a window AC for our bedroom. I have been sleeping like a baby since we installed that thing!

in soviet russia, home owns you!

Home ownership is not without its perils, particularly if you are fond of older houses with vintage charm (and vintage plumbing, electric, and ventilation). In just the past week alone, we’ve dropped nearly $1000 on repairs and immediately necessary upgrades.

First, it was the broken p-trap under the sink ($225). Then, it was the sub-standard swamp cooler that wasn’t cooling the house ($120). Then, our dishwasher decided it wasn’t going to really get any of our dishes clean if there was even a crumb on any of them ($500). The new dishwasher was supposed to come in today, but the installer wasn’t able to do anything because the valve from the water line to the dishwasher was not up to modern standards. There goes another $100+ bringing in a plumber, who will likely also have to tinker w/ our ice maker water line so that it actually, y’know, makes ice. This all does not include some electrical work that we will definitely need to do on the part of the house where our bedroom is. We went through hours of trying to remove and replace a GU10 halogen bulb in the bathroom light fixture, only to learn that the socket itself is faulty. Damn. It. ALL!

To be fair, we actually do have the money for all of this (and boy are we thankful). The irritation comes from the fact that we paid a lot of money for our house, and paid for every possible kind of home inspection before buying for the exact purpose of preventing the very situation we’re in. I’d rather sink that cool grand into a few nice excursions, dinners, or a vacation at some later date. Instead, we’re paying the price for the neglect and shoddy workmanship inflicted on the house by a few of the prior owners. None of this stuff came up in the inspection, which is all the more infuriating.

Now I understand why some people choose to be lifelong renters.

twa 260

So, I have a bit of a morbid streak. Most people who know me have no idea (and would be totally shocked if they knew), but if there is some really weird, freaky thing related to dead people, I’m on it. Saints’ relics? Yes, please. Oh, you have the actual saint on display in your chapel? Oooh, cool! It’s not because I’m weird or crazy (no, seriously), but because I find the lives and their respective legacies to be super interesting. My dad was and still is an avid genealogist, and I think I get this tendency from him. Whenever I’m in any historic place, I think about what people were thinking when they were here, even if it was millenia ago (psychologist that I am). My spouse finds it a bit unnerving that I want to look at “dead people stuff,” but I can’t help my fascination.

There’s a really great hike in the mountains above Albuquerque where a plane crashed into the Sandia Mountains almost 60 years ago. The flight was going to Santa Fe, and somehow didn’t get high enough to clear the mountains. Apparently, it took days for crews to even reach the site. It’s actually a pretty sad story, as aviation accidents go. The initial report on the cause of the crash blamed the pilots, saying that they were in some kind of bizarre suicide pact. (No, I don’t find those interesting. They creep me the hell out!) The pilot’s poor widow got all kinds of hate mail and threatening phone calls, as she herself was grieving over the loss of her husband. Terrible stuff. They eventually determined that the crash was due to instrument error, thereby clearing the name of the pilots.

The wreckage of the plane remains up there, with a plaque listing the victims’ names and hometowns. It’s a sobering reminder that even though technology has improved dramatically since then, life can be utterly fragile. We’ll be hiking up there this weekend, and I look forward to seeing this iconic and odd place.

i still remember how you used to say, “something good will come out of this.”

  • Yay, new First Aid Kit album!

  • We are nearly through with our bathroom revamp and bedroom painting. There’s a small patch behind our bed that requires us to move our heavy-ass bed, and there are some oopsies on the ceiling that will require ceiling paint. All of that should take no more than an hour or two at most. I installed the new towel bar last night, only to discover it wasn’t quite right. After a minor shit-fit, I was determined to make it work. That would require a trip to the hardware store for more wall anchors, which leads me to…
  • There is already a minor problem w/ the house. This morning, Spouse said, “Hey, where’d all this water come from?” Not what you want to hear as you’re trying to get out the door to work. Turns out that the metal p-trap on our kitchen sink had corroded all the way through and was dripping water into the cabinet and out onto the floor. I guess that trip to Lowe’s is going to happen sooner rather than later. The pipe doesn’t appear to be all that old, which makes me suspect that some prior owner was a bit too fond of the Drano. (PSA: Don’t use that shit. Plunge, cable augur, or call a plumber. What you “save” by using it is far less than what you end up paying when your plumbing goes to hell. Trust me, it will.)
  • But, yay for cool new soap dispenser and wastebasket for our bathroom!
  • Now that things are kind of settling down for us, it’s been great to actually cook at home again. I’d really forgotten how nice it is to spend that kind of time on myself. Last night was Charles Phan’s Lemongrass Beef Stew. Even if you don’t fancy yourself as much of a chef, you should totally make this recipe right now.
  • Some time soon, I’m going to have a sit-down with at least one of my bosses to broach the subject of a promotion. There’s a program here that basically allows a person to progress up the ladder (so to speak) with the approval of one’s supervisor over the course of 6+ months. Most of what I’m doing right now is more appropriate to this higher-grade position, so it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.
  • And speaking of work, it looks like my real boss is finally coming back to the States after a 10-week absence. The family member he was caring for passed away, and so after dealing with hir affairs, he’ll return. I am relived that maybe things will revert to normal, and some of the issues I’ve been having at work (annoying, dysfunctional colleague chief among them) will be dealt with.

 

make it work

We knew before buying this house that we would be making changes. The master suite, in particular, just wasn’t us. There was carpet, lavender and magenta walls, a filter blocking the skylight…ewww.

So far, we put in cork floors (highly recommend) and started painting. Check it out!

 

Bedroom wall before

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Bathroom before

old bath

 

Bed and bath after one day!

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may wrapup

What an amazing month it’s been. Between buying a house, moving, going on vacation, Albuquerque Beer Week (actually lasts two weeks…), and a Biblical-grade infestation of grasshoppers, May just flew by in an instant! The next couple of months will be full of good things like visiting friends, fixing up our new house, getting the rest of the awesome furniture we ordered, my birthday, and maybe some more regional travel. We found that now that we have a good bit of gear and some knowledge, camping can be a lot of fun!

Even though work continues to annoy me at times, I’m professionally satisfied overall. The awesome teacher training project I was involved with wrapped up last week, and I was asked by one of the teachers to join him on a research project involving gifted education. I got roped into teaching an online course for my current university, even though I swore repeatedly I’d never teach online again. I think being here and teaching a fairly easy undergraduate course will be better than teaching a graduate course for a university 1200 miles away. Also, I’m getting asked to join in on some really cool projects at work that really take advantage of my skill set and in some cases force me to learn new things. Now I’m just hoping that my hard work and initiative will be recognized with a bit of a raise and even a promotion. I passed my probationary review with flying colors, so I could in theory be eligible for a promotion and up to a 20% raise. Certainly not a bad thing.

 

 

america’s best idea

Our trip to some of the National Parks of southern Utah was really something, even if we did cut our visit short by a couple of days. Hiking and camping in rain and lightning just sounded less than pleasant.

We began our trip staying in Moab, Utah as a base for visits to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Dead Horse Point State Park. All offered beautiful vistas and lots of lovely red rock.

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Park Avenue, Arches NP

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Delicate Arch (4 stories tall!), Arches NP

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Grand View Point, Canyonlands NP

We then made our way over to the southwestern corner of Utah to visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. We did Bryce in a day on the way in, and were treated to spectacular views and an amazing hike among hoodoos.

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Sunrise Point

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Navajo Loop

Zion was just phenomenal. Even the drive in to the park from the east entrance inspires a continual stream of, “Oh….WOW! Look! Duuuude!” We did the hike I mentioned a while back, and it was fantastic. The last bit was fairly challenging, but the view was so, so worth it!

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View from Angels Landing

Sadly, the weather turned against us and we did not get to hike the Narrows. That and other things will definitely bring us back to the area soon.

feeling fidgety

The last couple of days of work before a vacation are a special kind of torture for me. I tend to ramp up my productivity a week or two before I know I’ll leave, so by the time T-2 days or so comes about, I have nothing left to do. I feel like I’m just here to say I’m here, and it frustrates me to no end. My house is literally a 5 minute walk from my office, and I’d so much rather be there doing things that need to be done. The problem with that is I have to conserve my leave for this upcoming trip. First-world problems, to be sure.

Also, work has been kind of stressful because all of us are picking up the slack for a (supposedly) senior colleagues who does not have his act together at all. I’m talking “urinates on himself and doesn’t bathe” kind of dysfunction. We’re all working on multiple projects with tight deadlines and high demands, yet he can’t seem to get out the one project he’s been assigned and he was supposed to finish over 6 months ago. It’s frustrating to see that I’m doing the work of 2 senior colleagues, and yet my pay is on par with lower-rank employees with lower credentials. I applied for a better, higher-paying position in a related department, and I wasn’t even interviewed. That stung. I initially wasn’t going to apply, but my colleagues urged me to. They said the search committee would have to be delusional not to consider me, given that my experience and credentials were exactly what they said they wanted. Even worse is that I may be expected to provide significant support to this person who is hired for the job. Add that to the fact that my boss has been out of the country for nearly 2 months, and it’s really hard for me to care too much. I figure as long as I get my work done well and on-time, I’ll be fine. That minimal standard seems to be too much for most of the people I work with.

The overachiever in me gets so demoralized when I operate on my typical schedule/work ethic, and don’t see any rewards. It’s exacerbated by seeing others underachieve and get the same or even more incentives than I do. I realize life isn’t fair and all that jazz, but it seems patently absurd to not do everything in one’s power to keep a good worker happy. I’ve already started considering applying for other jobs in hopes that I can use them as leverage in my current job (or an escape hatch if/when things get really bad).

I feel bad even posting this, given that it has so little do with the awesomeness of life in New Mexico. If anything, it makes me appreciate my time away from work even more. This vacation is going to be great!

rboc: homeowner edition

  • Our move went surprisingly well, all things considered. We hired the movers for 6 hours and they miraculously finished in 4. That is some kind of hustling there. Our past experiences with movers have been riddled with sloth, inefficiency, or sheer incompetence. Not these dudes. They had our entire house loaded up in about 90 minutes, including some of our heavy-ass furniture. Impressive!
  • On Saturday night, when the dog was having itchy ears and needed a warm cloth, we discovered that there was no hot water. We texted our contractor the next day, and he so generously came by to tinker with the water heater until it worked. After a day and a half of dealing with dust and boxes, that hot shower felt awfully nice.
  • Our house is more or less coming together nicely. There are a few more projects that need to be completed before we can truly move in.
  • This week is nothing but setting up the new house, cleaning out the old house, and preparing for our trip to Utah. I’m going to need that vacation something fierce!

home is wherever i’m with you

And we are now officially homeowners. This weekend and during the week, contractors will be in and out making repairs, installing flooring, etc. I did some minor projects (take down a tacky door, remove shelving from bathroom, install new deadbolt) on Saturday, in addition to bringing in and unpacking boxes. We move officially on the 10th, and I hope to have things in order very quickly.

Work has been good, but quasi-stressful. That is really a post of its own.

Also, mulberry bushes are welcome to die in a fire. My allergies are in rare form. Between the dust in the current house and in our new house, I am seriously considering wearing a mask. I feel like absolute crap, and even left work early because my asthma was flaring up. And to think we moved here in hopes that my allergies would be better…