Category Archives: journal


So Kate and I returned home to New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon, just in time to have some socializing with Ted and spend some portion of the weekend Out And About. (Saturday night, dinner with John and Mike and Ted, Sunday night dinner at Molly’s, same crew, after seeing Aeon Flux °.)

Last night Kate made one of our favorite standards for dinner, “noodly soup,” which consists of dashi and noodles and bok choi and wakame and whatever the hell else we feel like putting in it. Oh, and rooster sauce. Tonight I made ecologically sound shrimp scampi and salad, with some of our wedding wine, Hirsch Veltliner #1, still trying to keep the kitchen as clean as it was on our return. I give it a week, tops.

Jetlag on the way west really didn’t impair us much. We were a little tired in the evenings, but hey, we’re usually a little tired in the evenings, given our poor sleep habits. We woke up a little early, but that was something of a treat, and let us get the day started early. New Zealand’s only six hours off of US/Eastern, so once we’d made the big flight south, we adjusted pretty quick.

Returning, though, is turning out to be a bit of a struggle. In NZ the sun was going down around 9:10 p.m. — here it’s currently going down at 4:13 in the afternoon, which barely deserves to be called p.m., really. Last night I either woke up at 3-something drenched in sweat or had a very vivid dream about waking up at 3-something drenched in sweat. I’m not sure which would be better, really. Both of our jobs are requiring us to hit the ground running with our laces doubleknotted, and I’ve got some added worries as one of my good friend/coworkers has just given notice, which will leave the team shorthanded, come January.

Additionally, the rental house that my brother and step-brother and I manage back in Madison is requiring a fair amount of blood, sweat, and tears as we finish our relationship with the outgoing, supremely difficult tenant, and begin a relationship with the incoming family. I’d blithely assumed that I’d left things in a good state before leaving for NZ, and that most of the work would be complete by the time I got back, but no such luck. Bummer, but this is what comes with being a landlord and having someone else pay the mortgage, I guess.

Tomorrow I’ll head down to Boston, by way of an impromptu lunchtime mini-wake for my grandfather’s wife, Enid, who died over the weekend. She’d had difficulties moving around for as long as I’d known her, but she beamed at visitors while offering tea, always asked about how they were and what they were doing, laughed and tut-tutted and still had a very faint hint of the Scots accent she was born with. She played a wonderful counterpoint to my grandfather’s gruff reserve, and she’ll be missed.

This weekend I’ll get out our advent calendar and get us caught up on it, run down to the Nodas’ for a tree, start making cookies, and try to fan the faint ember of Christmas inside me which the shopping mall carols and window appliques have left cool, still.

° Aeon Flux
A pleasant surprise. Big Dumb Fun, to be sure, but the visuals were great, Charlize Theron looks better than ever, and the movie made the faintest modicum of sense, which was a heck of a lot more than I was expecting. The $4 ticket was worth it, even in the crappy Lebanon movie theater.

Update: Kate paid for my ticket and has just informed me that it was actually $8 per ticket, not $4. Oops.


Kate returned from dinner out and discovered Carlos lurking in the front bushes. On hearing this, I exhaled a breath I had inhaled when she told me he was still out, 3 hours ago. Like the relief one feels when an annoying, high-pitched whine suddenly … stops.

I wonder what this presages for my ability to allow any future children I may have to take risks.


It’s 7 p.m., and the work day’s been a blur of interruptions, crises, and hurried new definitions and clarifications for our new change control process, which I’m in charge of. I’ve got several pieces of audit information I’m late delivering; I’m hoping that my boss either accepts this tardiness or won’t notice until I’ve corrected it. I’ve got errands to run while down here in Boston, and I’m concerned that I won’t get out of work in time to get to the stores necessary. I’m waiting to hear whether some prospective new tenants for the house my brothers and I own are going to sign the lease for 12/1. Also, Kate just called me and let me know that Carlos, my favorite orange cat, has been out all day and hasn’t come home yet.

Coming as a capstone to the rest of the stressors in the preceding paragraph, I very nearly cried, hearing her tell me this. I’m trying to reassure myself that Lucy has pulled the same “stay out until we freak out” trick in the past, and that he’s both agile and very, very quick… but man, two days before leaving the country on a joyous honeymoon is a singularly craptastic time to be sitting and contemplating the various horrors a country forest in autumn holds for a house cat. Especially a forest two hours away that I can’t go out combing with a flashlight.

So instead I’ll offer a little prayer for all the orange mammals far from home right now, try to get some traction on some work, and then go run these errands while my stomach tries to unknot itself.

Only the essentials.

So over the weekend, I moved my desk upstairs, into the living room. Roughly, I cleared off both the desk and the smaller return section, putting all the stuff on the downstairs guest bed. Then Kate and I moved them upstairs, and then I brought up the essential pieces, namely:

  • laptop, external keyboard/mouse, external monitor
  • desk lamps
  • ethernet switch
  • backup harddrive
  • USB hub
  • faux ivory bust of Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • telephone
  • my two notebooks, one for work, one for personal matters

So the real question is: what the hell is in the piles of crap left downstairs on the guest bed? As a follow-on, am I really going to sort through them before we leave for NZ?

rough hands

We’ve been remarkably and densely productive for the last several days. (Densely in the sense that there hasn’t been a lot of our usual inter-task slacking, e.g. “Gosh, I’ve just folded all this laundry, so I’ll sit and play Halo for a while now.” We’ve mostly been going directly from task to task, spurred on largely by our imminent departure for NZ. (Which we’ve taken to pronouncing “Enn-Zed.” I know, how twee.)) Between ourselves, John, and Mike, we’ve:

  • rototilled under the remnants of the garden, which should make recovering in the spring a lot easier
  • patched the hole in the concrete at the entrance of the garage, which gushed cold air in all last winter
  • put plastic over the windows which leak most egregiously (we’re terrified of this year’s heating bills)
  • rearranged the garage so as to let John park the convertible there for the winter
  • made a few reservations for when we land in Christchurch, figuring we’ll be drooling zombies for the first 48 hours
  • started packing
  • run 4 loads of laundry (whenever we have these washing paroxysms, we colloquially refer to the day spent doing it as “climbing Mount Laundry”)
  • moved my slowly deteriorating desk from the frigid room downstairs (good in the summer) up into the living room (good for the winter)
  • began tidying the house for our return, figuring we’ll be drooling zombies for the first 48 hours of our return

It’s been a densely packed several weeks, actually, and I’ve kept feeling like I’ve wanted to record it but haven’t had the mental space to sit and do so. We had our friends Tierney and Tracy and Dave and Marnie up visiting two weekends ago, and had a total blast, all weekend long. We played poker until the wee hours (Kate, as Tierney and I predicted, did very, very well at Hold’Em, despite protesting that she’d never played before), went to the market, hung out chatting, ate our way through chicken soup and popovers for dinner and a waffles-etc brunch, drank a fair amount of booze, took Dave and Marnie to Bill and Jen’s for pumpkin carving, and generally felt warm and welcoming all weekend long. It was so cool to have far-away friends stay with us, which we haven’t had much of since the wedding, really.

After that weekend I had a full week of getting up at 6 every morning — some days for work, some days with Kate — which leant the whole week a tired, spacy undertone. There’s a big audit we’re assembling results for at work, which has kept me busier than usual, and as a result, my personal mail, blogs, and pretty much everything else has been relegated to spare minutes and off hours. I’ve had this Sisyphean feeling of slowly but steadily losing ground against the pile of tasks to do, so getting this much accomplished this weekend feels great. Yesterday was beautiful, in the mid-60’s and perfect for outdoors work. Today was cooler and windier, so the four of us took a quick dunk in the hot tub after finishing rototilling and weeds-clearing. It was a great capper to the afternoon, and my hands feel rough and strange after declogging the rototiller twice (it involved a lot of pulling and hacking at the weeds and grass wound around the tines). Now I’m jotting down a few paragraphs and Kate’s plasticking a few more windows. (gleefully, I might add, having turned to me earlier today after the very satisfying blow-drying-the-plastic-until-it-shrinks-away-all-the-wrinkles phase and said, “This is fun! I mean, it’s like fun for the feeble-minded, but still.”)

Tonight I’m whipping up some squash gnocchi with salad and sausage and some of our wedding Veltliner (of course). Tomorrow will be a work day, then I’m down to Boston, returning Thursday night. Friday morning we’re off. We’re getting really, really psyched.