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The Unpacking

Started: 2012-05-28 14:43:55

Submitted: 2012-05-28 16:36:54

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator unpacks, paints, prunes, and otherwise occupies his time after moving

We spent the first week after moving to the "Gunbarrel" exclave of Boulder unpacking the things that desperately needed to be unpacked but avoiding filling bookshelves or otherwise unpacking too much because we had scheduled painters for the second week. Once Kiesa had unpacked the kitchen, we lived in a half-unpacked state until the painters came, at which point we had to live with the upper three levels being painted all at once.

The dining room being unpacked
The dining room being unpacked

I drove to work the first day after moving because I was lazy, but quickly settled into alternate means of transportation thereafter, except on days when I had errands to run. I walked to work on the second day, which took much longer than driving or biking but was still faster than driving had been from eastern Longmont. I didn't precisely time the walk but at 1.1 miles it should have taken 15-20 minutes at a brisk walking pace. I biked the rest of the time, and quickly realized that I didn't need much dedicated cycling gear; I could bike a mile just fine in civilian clothing (down to the collar shirt I wore for work itself) and wheel my bike up into the empty room across the hall from my office (where one of my office-neighbors parks his bike) rather than park my bike in the locker room across the parking lot. (When biking from Longmont I'd need a shower after riding, but I didn't any more.) The only thing I needed to change was my shoes, from cycling shoes with cleats to clip into my pedals to civilian shoes; I kept a spare pair in my office. The whole thing did take longer than a strict drive would have, but made me feel better about my place in the world.

(I did manage to transfer my commute to Kiesa: When she wanted to take Calvin into daycare so she could work, she had to drive all the way up to Longmont, past our old house, to drop him off at the daycare that had been conveniently located to our old house, then continue east to the Carbon Valley Regional Library to work. She found that it was easier to work with Calvin at home than she'd remembered (especially since we've designated an official "office" in one of the upstairs bedrooms).)

One casualty of our move was our standing Sunday babysitter: As a non-driving high school student her mobility was limited to Longmont, so she couldn't make it all the way down to Gunbarrel on Sunday mornings. (We'd have to part ways with her soon, though, since she graduated from high school in the four weeks since the move and is going to CSU in the fall.)


My first weekend project was to work on the overgrown trees and shrubs in the back yard. The yard had a "secret garden" vibe: it was clear that someone, once, had loved the yard (to the point where we found a detailed map of the landscaping in the yard with every plant carefully noted), but they had moved away and the yard had been neglected in recent years.

Blooming vine on trellis in garden
Blooming vine on trellis in garden

I needed better tools to tackle the yard, so I picked up a large, mechanically-advantaged loper and a pruning saw, and lusted after the pole saws but managed to resist for the moment. I found that I could quickly generate more branches than I could easily dispose of, but I can pack bundles of branches in twine for curbside compost pickup. My most recent pruning accomplishment was cutting down a dead twisted willow, and cutting away the dead branches on the one surviving twisted willow.

Twisted willow in yard
Twisted willow in yard

We skipped painting the basement, and the master bathroom (which has its own issues), but the rest of the house needed a refresh. Some of the paint was simply old and dirty; the vaulted ceiling in living/dining/kitchen area looked more gray than the white it had once been. All of the colors needed refreshing: the family room was an unfortunate peach (which I tended to refer to as "pink"), and we didn't like having different colors in the dining room and family room because the walls adjoined.

Entertainment center in family room, prior to painting
Entertainment center in family room, prior to painting

The living room had been painted an unfortunate milk-chocolate color (which, while cleaning out the garage, appeared to come from a paint named "cardamom"), which we might have been able to live with, except that a previous owner had painted alternate walls cardamom and white, and painted the baseboards and the insides of the windows on the white walls cardamom. (On his tour to give the quote, our painter muttered things like, "They must have been artistic.") This had to go, so Kiesa went through seven shades of yellow, starting with the "whole wheat" that we had in our living room in our old house, until she found the shade that worked for our living areas. Finding an accent red was easier; much to the consternation of our painter, she picked "global spice".

Boxes, bookshelf, and piano staging in the living room
Boxes, bookshelf, and piano staging in the living room

The upstairs bedrooms had been painted more recently, but appeared to be home-brew paint jobs (which we may know a thing or two about) that were not in colors we liked (or went well with our stuff). The master bedroom was an unfortunate sloppy two-tone tan/white, and the other bedrooms were in green and brown. We let Calvin pick the color of his room, thinking he'd go for something colorful (like purple, which seems to be his favorite color), but he chose white, so we painted his room white.

Boxes staging in the office
Boxes staging in the office

Living in a house that was being painted was a bit awkward, but we saw results quickly: on Tuesday afternoon, after two days of painting, the painters had painted white over the trim around the kitchen windows and begun to paint the yellow up the wall behind the kitchen, and Kiesa decided she liked the new paint scheme already, even unfinished.

Painting in progress in the kitchen
Painting in progress in the kitchen
Painting in progress in the dining room
Painting in progress in the dining room

The painters finished after four days, and we begun to move into our house in earnest. Kiesa unpacked all of the books into the shelves, and I began wiring Cat5e Ethernet drops to a brand new central wiring cabinet in the basement. I wired two drops each to the family room and the right-bedroom-turned-office on two consecutive weekend days. The first drop involved crawling into the crawl space under the family room and drilling a hole into the wall behind the entertainment cabinet, then fishing around in the wall trying to find the hole, then drilling another hole, and eventually poking through the insulation until I found the hole. I had to make a mid-project run to Home Depot to pick up additional hardware to mount the wiring box to the wall, and I was briefly worried that I had screwed up the installation because I couldn't get an Ethernet connection on my laptop until I realized that its wired Ethernet connection had been somehow disabled, so simply plugging the cable in wouldn't have produced a connection anyway. With that error corrected, my brand new Ethernet jacks worked flawlessly.

Living room, after painting and unpacking
Living room, after painting and unpacking

The second drop, to the office, required a more involved routing, past the furnace, into the garage, up the interior wall, and through the back wall of the office. I acquired a drywall saw to cut the hole for the face plate (which worked great, but may have been overkill) and drilled a hole through the back of the wall before I realized that I had no way of getting up to the hole to nail down the cables. I was able to string the cables by pushing fish tape through the hole so that it hung down into the garage, then attaching the cable to the fish tape, but I had to go to Home Depot again to pick up an adequately-sized ladder to gain access to that part of the garage; our three-foot step ladder was simply not up to the task. Kiesa wanted a ten-foot ladder so she could access the fan for easier cleaning, which I was able to tie to Motoko's roof rack. The ladder proved adequate for the job, but too tall to use anywhere but the far edge of the garage, the main level (with its vaulted ceiling), or outside. (The ladder did come in handy later while cutting down the dead twisted willow in the back yard.)

Home network box
Home network box

(I'm proud of my new network box, installed in a handy wall next to the crawl space in the basement, but I'm a little worried that it might not quite be big enough for a complete buildout of my network. You'll see the DSL modem at the top left, a five-port switch on the bottom left, power on the bottom, two rows of Cat5e jacks (each corresponding to a different drop -- only four are wired so far) on the right, and the phone in the middle (which I use only for DSL). The little five-port switch is already at capacity, and I haven't yet replaced it with the bulky, difficult-to-tie-down eight-port switch that used to be at the head of my network in my old house. The box doesn't have room for my router/wireless Ethernet base station; it sits in an adjacent cabinet fed by the blue and yellow Ethernet cables connected to the DSL modem and switch, respectively. Given the intermittent wireless signal strength issues Kiesa's kitchen computer is having, I'll probably want to put the router on the main or upper level, but I haven't quite figured out where yet. I also want to acquire a decent NAS to use as my back-end storage and backup (taking that function from my otherwise-unused desktop Hiro), and possibly a gigabit switch, but I haven't figured out where I'm going to put all of that, so I haven't done it yet. (I also can't quite close the door because the power adapter for the switch sticks out a tiny bit too far, which I expect will change when I change switches.) I'm not going to worry about any of this until I get back from India.)

Well, this was a family outing. Ya know, one of
those occasions where four people try to get
together for an evening, and it's considered a
success if no one has been murdered by the time
it's over.
- Bitscape