Funky Things

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Closing went smoothly. We met the sellers, a lovely young couple, and I was able to ask them questions:

  • Smoke detectors Are they hard wired? I did not think so, given the age of the building, but you never know. Being battery operated only and not connected to the electrical system tells me that if the battery dies, the damn thing won’t drive us out of our minds with incessant chirping, I hope. I was also able to ask if the smoke detectors went off every time someone burned the toast or overcooked something even just a little. Our Portland smoke detectors went off for ridiculous reasons and sometimes no reason at all. We had three linked together in that tiny place and when they went off, it was deafening and rattled me to my core. Consequently I now have a major fear of the life-saving device.
  • The fuse box Since the seller is an electrician, why didn’t he swap out the fuse box for circuit breakers? He explained that in six years, one fuse blew one time and having a fuse box was no big deal. He did not think anyone in the building had made that change and explained that the change itself would be an inconvenience not worth the time or money, in his opinion.
  • Funky things Yes, I actually asked if there was anything they would care to share about funky things in the apartment. I was hoping for information that would help us figure out quirky things, like faucets that were mislabeled in reverse for hot and cold or an electrical switch that operated this instead of that. That sort of thing. To be fair, the question came out of left field and they were not prepared. On the spot they could not think of anything. I wish they had told us about the funky toilet.

After closing, we walked over to our new home and fiddled around a bit. Naturally we used the toilet (not at the same time, if you must know) before we walked back to the “old” apartment. Well, I could not get that toilet to flush. I pushed and pulled on that flush lever and could not get it to budge. I had two nagging thoughts:

  1. I will forevermore need assistance for flushing.
  2. Guests who use our bathroom might go in but might never come out (due to the embarrassment of not knowing what to do).

With that, funky or not, we are homeowners once again.

Here Today, Ours Tomorrow

Wabbitat ICON 2016-small We had our walkthrough today. It was scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow morning, but the real estate agent called this afternoon and asked if we could do it today at 4 p.m. Almost out the door, he called again and asked for a delay. At 4:30 he called yet again and said “how about now.” We were there!

We took our time. We examined every nook and cranny – not for problems, not to have the sellers do anything, but so that we could see what we were getting, what we had never looked closely at in the first place.

We learned a few things:

  • The bedroom is actually painted gray, not green. That is a good thing. I prefer the gray. The living room and foyer are green. The bedroom has nice dark gray accordian blinds on the three windows. Very nice. The kitchen is a neutral color of some sort, which I cannot determine, so I will just decorate as I please, and that pleases me.
  • All of the doorknobs and drawer knobs are loose. Very loose. The linen closet doorknob (yes, there is an actual linen closet, if you can manage to get inside) comes off in your hand; the door remains shut tight. A lot of door knobs may need replacing. Maybe tightening will do it, but I believe the sellers would have tightened them if they could have and tightening by hand did nothing, I tried.
  • There are a lot of electrical outlets, especially for such an old building. Nice surprise! It turns out the seller is an electrician so he took care of such details.
  • There is a fuse box, not a breaker box. Hmm! That will need to be addressed. I wonder why Mr. Electrician didn’t take care of that!
  • The radiator cover in the living room that was hidden from view behind a sofa when we first visited is very sad looking. That goes on the To-Do list.

Closing is at 2 p.m. tomorrow. Then this old, homeless, unemployed couple with 2 huge cats will actually have 2 homes. Which reminds me…if anyone is looking for a nice 1-bedroom apartment in Forest Hills, we have one to sublet.

Kitchen Inspection

Kitchen inspection in progress

Built-In Storage Wall

Built-in storage wall in bedroom

 

Twelve Days and Counting Down

Wabbitat ICON 2016-small We were told by the real estate agent that closing would probably take place “a couple of days” after the official interview by the board of directors. Since that interview occurred on July 25, the definition of “a couple of days” appears to be approximately one month.

Breaking News:  Closing will take place just 12 days from today, on

August 23, 2016

at 2:00 p.m.

Shh…don’t tell Ernie!

Ernie relaxing 3 yrs

The Little Gizmo That Couldn’t

Wabbitat ICON 2016-smallIt is Jeopardy’s fault! One answer on a recent show was the movie I know What You Did Last Summer. I never saw that one. So I checked my local Queens Public Library. They had one, just one, copy in circulation for a library system that serves 2 million people, and so I placed it on hold. In the meantime they also had one, just one, copy of the audiobook so I put that on hold, also. The audiobook was not recorded on CDs and was not available as a digital download (my preference). It was on a format called a Playaway. We patrons borrow a digital copy on this proprietary format, supply our own AAA battery and our own headset/earbuds and we get the book on its own little player. The book was ready for pickup within a day or two; the movie is not yet ready for me.

I am not a fan of the Queens Public Library. In fact, I very much miss the Multnomah County Public Library (Portland, Oregon) for a host of reasons. I won’t bore my gentle readers with my list of Queens Public Library disappointments and frustrations. This digital book, however, just made its way to the top of my list.

Library Playaway 2.jpg The battery compartment is not labeled, there are no printed instructions and no provided diagram, and because I am older than 4 or 5 years, technology does not come naturally. Frustration was finally eased when I forced open a magic door and seated my own battery where it needs to be. I plugged in my own headphones, pressed the power button, pressed the play button and adjusted the volume. Then I settled back in my rocking chair and crocheted a new potholder for my someday  kitchen and listened to the story of Julie and Ray and Helen and Barry.

I listened for a full two hours or so, long enough to complete a lovely new potholder using a new stitch some are calling a star stitch when suddenly the player stopped. The player had been undisturbed, resting comfortably on the table beside me. I heard a little click, noticed the recording was no longer audible, and checked the Playaway device. Sure enough, the player had turned itself off.

So I turned it on again. I pressed the power button, and then the play button. The volume had reset itself to a whisper and the story was once again at the very beginning.

Whose bright idea was this little device that forces me to supply my own battery plus  my own listening gear, and then malfunctions after just a few chapters? There is no way to insert digital bookmarks so finding my way back to where I was disconnected is just too daunting to even consider.

It is not the library’s fault, right? Nevertheless, it is just one more reason I dislike the Queens Public Library.

Potholder

 

 

What Ever Happened to the New York Minute

Wabbitat ICON 2016-smallJohnny Carson once said a New York minute is the interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn. In other words, a New York minute is an instant, a very brief moment of time.

I never heard that expression in all the years I lived in New York (that would be prior to 1978). I heard  it mentioned quite often during the years we lived in Florida, and also when we lived in Oregon.

We are back in New York. First, I must say there is plenty of car honking in Forest Hills where we are based, not so much in Manhattan, surprising as that is, at least in comparison. But the New York Minute? I think that is either a myth or a misconception, or perhaps just obsolete. Let me tell you why.

Since we got back to New York in mid April, we worked expeditiously to find an apartment as a temporary base of operations, and once settled, began our search for a permanent home. By May 21 we made an offer on a co-op apartment. And then we learned to wait.

It took a week before our offer was verbally accepted. There was nothing in writing. It took another two weeks, until June 6, before a written contract was finally signed by all parties. That is how we learned what the agony of waiting really feels like. Then we waited and waited and waited some more just for the required formal board of directors’ interview, which took place a full seven weeks later. At some point we were told, however, that once the interview happened and approval was granted, things would zip along.

That was two weeks ago. We still do not have a closing date. No New York minute, no zipping. We just wait.

Closing will be…

BOOK REVIEW: Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

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Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

by Malika Oufkir and Michele Fitoussi

Malika Oufkir is the daughter of General Mohamed Oufkir, second in command of Morocco. In 1972 General Oufkir led a failed coup détat and was subsequently executed. His family was taken prisoner and held for 20 years.

Malika is the oldest daughter of General Oufkir. She was 19 at the time of the failed coup attempt. Initially, she and her four younger siblings, the youngest was just three years old, and her mother were placed under house arrest. After some time they were moved to a remote secret prison somewhere in the Sahara Desert where they remained for the next 15 years.

This is Malika’s memoir. She describes her life as a princess, raised in the palace of King Hassan of Morocco as his own daughter until she reached the age of 15. That was before the coup, however. It is those years of her imprisonment that she relates in gruesome detail. It is her escape, their escape, the escape of Malika and three of her siblings after 15 years in horrendous prison conditions that is remarkable. The imprisonment of a woman and her children for any reason is unthinkable. The fact that any of them could survive is miraculous, and somehow they all survive.

After reading this book I felt compelled to do the research. I could not believe that such atrocities could have existed while the world stood silent; it had to be historical fiction. However, this story is incredibly true.

 

Easy-Peasy and Oh-So-Sweet

Wabbitat ICON 2016-small Having a bad day, week, or worse? Perhaps you are just biding time waiting and waiting for that special something to happen. This Queen-of-Waiting knows how to sweeten things up – with some easy homemade chocolate pudding.

The following recipe is quick and easy. It takes little more effort than opening a box of pudding mix but without all the additives. Note that it is not necessary to precisely measure ingredients.

So much better than the mix! Enjoy!

Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter (room temperature, cut up)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • salt (dash)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dark chocolate (optional)

Directions

  1. Sift together cocoa, corn starch, and salt.
  2. In saucepan over medium heat, constantly stir dry ingredients, adding milk slowly (approximately 1/3 cup at a time).
  3. Bring to full boil.
  4. Continue stirring for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, butter, and chopped chocolate.
  6. Serve warm or chilled.

Serves 4