Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Merry Tuba Christmas!

Just wanted to share a few photos from the very festive Tuba Christmas performance I attended at the Kennedy Center. Thanks Millennium Stage for the free entertainment!  This is one of the last few to-dos on my list of New Years Resolutions to get crossed off and it was a great way to enjoy a little holiday spirit in the middle of a season that can be pretty stressful if you aren’t careful.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Holiday Rush

A million years ago, in Sri Lanka, I met a girl named Ellen. We worked for the same company but we only overlapped by a day. Still, in that one day (and in the constant mentions from all of our mutual colleagues and friends) I discovered that Ellen had a superpower. Ellen was the world’s most efficient person.  The amount she could accomplish during a given day would put whole teams of otherwise efficient folks to shame.

So obviously I’m exaggerating, but not much. Her combination of endless energy (including mental stamina which I’ve found is even more important at the end of a rough day), alongside vision, organizational skills and persistence made her a tough act to follow.  Most of us just don’t have the energy to program our every waking moment. Have a five minute walk to the shuttle? Why aren’t you filling it with an audio lesson? Microwave going to take 90 seconds? That’s enough time for a few scales on the piano. Had a long day at work and out to dinner and just got back at 9? Why, that’s plenty of time to write and address all of your Christmas cards, clean out the refrigerator and change all the smoke detector batteries!

Getting exhausted yet? I hope it’s not just me!

I thought of Ellen today when I sat down and looked at my to-do list.  Somehow I’ve managed to overlook my love of laziness and sitting still generally and sign myself up for a whole lot of activity.  It’s all good stuff of course - learning new skills, volunteering, celebrating the holidays, hitting the gym, getting together with friends... it’s just a lot altogether.  At least I’m becoming a little better at juggling it all with so much practice. Maybe in the end I’ll develop some Ellen-level efficiency skills of my own! Here’s hoping!

And three cheers for a beautiful snowy weekend to round out the Christmas trifecta (tree-gingerbread-snow). It’s just the motivation I needed for that last burst of gift buying and card writing.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Is it already December?

Well, what’s new with you faithful readers? Tudo bom?

Portuguese is progressing well, as far as I can tell -we haven’t had our first progress evaluation yet, but all that Romance language background from high school Spanish, Rosetta Stone French and FSI Italian has been helping me out a ton ...when I can remember to stick to Portuguese in class of course. Sometime I'll have to post a list of the language resources I've been using like I did with Italian - I really am incredibly lucky to be studying a language with so many extra (free) resources available.

On the home front I hosted my family for Thanksgiving - well my folks that is - though we did get to Skype with my brother and niece. With any luck my brother and his family will be able to attend the next turkey day in person. Fingers crossed! I was really looking forward to the visit and we had a great time.  We didn't get out too much - just one museum if you can believe it.  It turns out that after so many temporary stays in DC the city is starting to feel like something of a second home to all of us and we've seen just about every tourist attraction I could think of.  (I was here for a year after undergrad, two years in grad school, once for A-100, once for Italian and now this time will make a total of almost 5 years.)  We did at least make it out of the house every day and on a particularly beautiful day even managed to burn off all those holiday calories with a walk from Judiciary Square to Arlington - no tryptophan comas here!

As I discovered last time around, the language learning process isn’t a great blog-content generator so I’m glad I have more photos of my house construction. The only major change since my last update (yikes, almost a month ago!) is the addition of (some) of the windows.  While things probably should  be moving a bit quicker it's been hard with me stuck in DC and trying to coordinate between contractors and subcontracts a half dozen states away. I’m not 100% sure what’s next - besides the obvious completion of the window and door insulation. Maybe siding or something a bit more substantial on the roof?  I'm a little nervous because this means that pretty soon yours truly has to put on her grown up pants and make a call on flooring.  Since we anticipate a lot of sand will be tracked in carpet and real wood floors have been ruled out - too much wear and tear.  (Plus I hate vacuuming so carpet wasn't really on my short list.)  I’m still torn between a hardier laminate and tile. I hate cold floors, but tile does sound easy to maintain... And of course there's the whole price issue to consider.

Any and all suggestions would be welcome!

It's crazy how you can look straight through the back windows from this view no?

The kitchen - the framers fixed the window (you can see the before version on my post from last month) so us short folks can finally look out while standing at the sink which was a big relief.  The original plan basically put the window sill right at eye level for me so I'd be standing on tiptoes to see out. 

Dining room - and stairs jutting into the hallway, which is also scheduled to be fixed. 

Second floor porch

Just the view. :) Incidentally - I wonder who has to get all those stickers off the windows since I'm not around? I wish I could be there to participate a little!  In my imagination I would be super helpful on the construction site.

If it was me I think I would have put railings on the deck earlier on - it just seems a bit unnecessarily dangerous with the balconies open, no?

That's it for today folks!

As we say in Portuguese, até logo!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

TWO floors! :)

What?! Two ENTIRE floors?  Time really is flying now.  Honestly I was so excited to see this set of photos that if it was up to me I'd probably just halt construction and go live in the house as-is.  You know, if I didn't have a day job that keeps me here in DC learning Portuguese. (More on that in another post.)

I don't really have much to share other than photos, so enjoy!

This is the master bedroom - the ceiling looks vaulted which I didn't even notice in the plans but it's a nice surprise. 

 Guest bedroom (and since these walls are still pre-drywall you can see behind it the bathroom, stairwell and bunk room).

Sunset from the porch.  :)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Video of the Week

Well, it took less than a week, but I knew it would happen. This past Friday the Girl from Ipanema made her first appearance in the Portuguese classroom.  I'm hoping after three years in Brazil a little bit of this cool rubs off on me - it's only fair right?

First are the Portuguese lyrics, then the English comes in about halfway through.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

First floor - up!

And now for the most exciting part of the house building process so far - driving up to the construction site, climbing a ladder (they'll add the stairs later) and standing ON (in?) MY HOUSE. So awesome!  

I climbed up, turned around and this was the first thing I saw - the view from my dining room. Of course, the stressful part of building the house isn't over quite yet, but at least it finally feels like a payoff is coming.  

Sadly I won't be sharing all the awesome pictures of me and my family pretending to enjoy the house and staring out the windows into the middle distance - so you'll have to use your imagination on those.

Well, really, the whole thing requires some imagination but if you saw my last post with the floor plans, this is the kitchen, facing more towards the left front corner of the house.

And finally - the view from the front hall - kitchen on the left (close to the camera) and living/dining rooms along the back wall. What you can just see off to the right is the bathroom door and just behind it is the study/downstairs bedroom.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The best laid plans

I forgot a step with my last post, so backing up just a bit - this post is just a quick glimpse of the house's floorplan so when you look at the construction pics you'll know what I'm talking about. 

If you want to purchase this plan you can do so through the website of the designer.  

Ok, starting from the top- once we had the lot (and after I’d read the covenants outlining how far back from the edge of the property the house needed to sit) I started searching for house plans that fit.  Though I love architecture I wasn’t quite up for designing my own home -so I left this stage to the professionals.  The below plan came from a rather generic website but it had three big things going for it 1) we knew it was up to code, 2) it was relatively inexpensive, and 3) it was one of very few that fit everything that we needed. The house had to be both very narrow and raised on piles (basically stilts) to avoid the risk of flooding.  We also wanted something that was oriented to take advantage of the views.  In the end what we bought is below.

I included the off-the-shelf version (above) plus the final plans including some modest changes (below) in case you’re curious.  Sorry I couldn’t get a ‘cleaner’ copy  -this is the version the framers are using so it’s pretty detailed.

As you can see, I eliminated the separate living/dining room at the front of the house and moved the kitchen into that space.  That allowed me to put a large dining room where I actually want one - by the ocean. As a bonus that change left space to build a bigger kitchen as well.  Since I love to cook that was a big plus for me - and I’ve never been a big fan of formal vs informal eating areas anyway. Might as well have a nice space that’s so comfortable you can use it every day. We also enlarged the bathroom downstairs so it would have space for a shower. That way when I have a full house that space can function as a guest room.

Second floor

As for upstairs, there were fewer changes. I eliminated the atrium in the entryway - to me it just looked like a bunch of wasted space that would attract dust or spiders or both.  Instead I added a hall closet upstairs - a feature that I’ll need to store all of my personal stuff if I ever rent the house out. And I am adding built-in bunks to one of the rooms upstairs.  The plan is that when my brother and his family return to the States my niece (soon to be joined by a little sibling!) will get to stay there. Oh, and I eliminated the tiny toilet room because I just find those too weird.  No accounting for taste, right?