home is where the fire hazard is

We’re moving, which is the sort of special joy that some people probably don’t experience every calendar year. I pity those people so much that I’m willing to go into the community to show the sheltered sedentary how to freebase packing tape, how to grotesquely underestimate box requirements, and how to develop karmic debt to transport-friends so deep that even Argentina’s finance minister doesn’t want to be seen with us.

Now, we’re not moving very far, and our landlord’s compassion has combined with his inability to rent or sell the unit on time to give us a week, give or take, with access to both locations, so it could be a lot worse. It has been a lot worse, pretty much every time, to be precise. And yet, still, it’s a move.

I was very keen about the short-distance-osity of this particular adventure in nomadism, and my head was filled with visions of a dozen trusty friends shlepping loveseats and shelving units from hither to yon — no, just a little more yon — that’s perfect, thanks. It didn’t quite work that way, mainly because our friends are smarter than hats, and saw that once we had movers involved for the relocation of the television and bed we could get them to move a lot of other stuff as well. Madhava was especially cute about this, until I beat him with a curtain rod and made him carry my weights to the back of Alasdair’s car. He’s now experienced the Platonic ideal of moving, and some day he’ll grow up and thank me for that.

This is not to say our friends have not been the souls of helpfulness. They’ve all — Alasdair, Emily, Mike, Kristen, Madhava — all been so helpful that Madhava had to flee to Austin this weekend to avoid actually rupturing his help-spleen. I daren’t enumerate their feats of derring-do, for fear of critical, offensive omission before the moving is technically over, but I will say that I will think of Emily every time I walk into our new bathroom for some time to come. And that’s just not normal.

Yesterday, the aforementioned movers — an Ozzy Osbourne look-alike that didn’t make the stunt-double cut and his two acompetent assistants — showed up to move the things that we really didn’t want to move ourselves. Considering that I jogged between the apartments tonight with a pair of half-height Billy bookcases, this was not really geared towards the easy stuff. OK, fair enough, it was geared towards whatever stuff was packed or cleared well enough to be transported at the time, but we had taken Special Measures to ensure that the really awkward stuff was ready for the professionals. I know they were professionals, because I paid them, but without that commercial certainty it would have at times been a tough call. At one point, I was mentally spending the TV-replacement money, after Tyla called to warn me that they’d dropped it “a little” when moving it from the stand to the dolly. It turned out OK in the end, I’m happy to report, but there were some tense moments while I sat at the desk trying to work, but mentally preparing my submission to the New England Journal of What The Hell as various confidence-destroying interjections floated in from the staircase.

I was going to have a bath today, but I couldn’t figure out the stopper. It’s metal, and looks for all the world like it should move into a water-draining position when a correspondingly-metal knob is turned, but that knob came off in my hand without so much as a twitch from the stopper. Tyla said that she knew how to get it to open, after which information I inquired quite enthusiastically. She used the bottle opener to pry it up, she said. I don’t think she understood the face I made when she told me that.

Given that I am stumped by our bathtub, you can imagine that my intellectually-demanding work has not been just zipping by, though I’ve been generally enjoying it. Lately, I’ve been trying to impersonate Zach so that the page cache will just get over itself and make these two sets of numbers match, there’s a dear. I do not really resemble Zach in any way that’s meaningful to this piece of code, so it’s been sort of frustrating, in that “some day I will know what all these words mean” way. Zach will be back from Hawai’i soon — a place I am led to believe is materially more relaxing than vmscan.c — and then we can sit on the telephone for 15 minutes and forget that I ever wasted hours of precious bug-time not knowing these things. Still, I think I could some day mature into a solid backup hitter in our VM area, and on that day I will look back on the email and bug comments from this period and try to figure out how to have them deleted from all recorded history.


I think that was a little more than I was ready for, all at once like that. It’s been two weeks since my last update, and it felt alternately like an eternity and a moment.

My Nana passed away on the 9th, and it hit me like a brick. I was really not prepared for it, and I can’t imagine how her children felt. (They were there by her side from Friday, when her condition degraded severely and they thought that she was in her last hours. In fact, she held on for 3 more days; not the first time her strength and courage were underestimated, I’m sure.)

The visitation and funeral were, as much as such things can be, wonderful. An incredible number of people came to comfort the family and celebrate Jean’s life, and succeeded completely in both regards. I think Nana would have approved of the affair, especially with the grandchildren playing and drawing pictures on the couches while Papa energetically — it was amazing; the man does not know how to quit — met with every single visitor.

I don’t think I’ll be writing much more about Nana here, at least not for a little while. Which is not to say that I’m not thinking about her every day — a practice that I’m ashamed to admit I did not observe during her lifetime, generally — but the things I have left to say are difficult to articulate, and some of them are just between me and Nana anyway. (And she’d tell me to stop crying and get back to taking care of my lovely wife.)

We’re moving now, because we hadn’t done that in a few months, and so far it’s going….OK. More about that later, I assure you.


I’m still not a huge fan of his post-Bill-and-Ted’s acting, but it’s hard to hate Keanu the person. Who have guessed?

Steph headed back to Milan today. I’ve been trying and failing to get my work groove on, so I’ve been a little grumpy, and didn’t spend as much time with her as I’d have liked. She’ll be back soonish, though, and I can be a better big brother then.

I had a bath today to try and clear my head, which turned into the other kind of waterworks. A good cry left me pretty exhausted, so I took a nap, and am now feeling much better. Phil helped me realize that I’ve really not been at my best for a couple of weeks now, probably because I’ve been in a total exercise drought, and the news about Nana was icing on the despair cake. I was able to actually finish tuning a patch that I started on yesterday, and I’m now going to try to fix some recovery glitches that we’ve somehow regressed on over the last little while. Being productive is so good for the soul.

More Keanu: his philosophical preparations for the Matrix movies, about which I have no further coherent comment. I might have to get my film-stud wife to walk me through a deconstruction of Speed later, though.

lightning crashes

My grandmother is dying.

I had all manner of things on my mind, and plans to update this diary with some backlogged stuff, but last week I found out that Nana’s cancer was beyond treatment, and I’ve been off-balance ever since. Organizing things like Steph’s next-day trip back from Milan and our visit to Kitchener helped focus me a bit, but my head hasn’t really been in the game at work.

Visiting Nana helped, and I’m glad we made the trip. She’s very sick, and very tired, and very weak, but she also seems to be at peace with the fact that she’s dying — to the point that she was making jokes about great-grandchildren; I had no idea what to say to that, at the time.

I wish I were more at peace about it. Nana and I were never extremely close, in no small part because I was a pretty mixed-up kid for much of my youth and that complicated my relationship with my family. I wish I’d been able to get to know her better — that’s a copout; I was able, and I wish I’d done it.

When Steph and I headed up to Kitchener on Friday — Steph fresh from a 9-hour flight back home — we got to see quite a few of our relatives, and it was nice to be around them. Weird not having Nana there, though, and very hard to see my Papa with a broken heart.

I never know what to say.

I wish Nana were going to be able to hold her great-grandchildren. I guess all I can do now is make sure that they know about her, even if she’ll never know them.

Tyla and Steph and I drove up to Markham on Sunday to visit with Dad and Lisa and the girls. Yes, drove. Hilary is travelling this week, and she left her car with us for parking and our use. Quite nice of her, and we’ve been taking advantage of it to return beer bottles and visit family, mostly because it’s an opportunity for me to get some more road time. Driving automatics is weird.

Visiting with the Markhamites was nice, as it always is, and it made me wish I got up there more often, as it always does. We invited them down for a Father’s Day dinner, which would happen to fall on the last day of our move-window. Tyla thinks that might be a problem, but I’m very much looking forward to having my sisters around for some of the unpacking chores.

This fantastic news brightened my day, and it was really in need of brightening.