Saturday, May 05, 2007

House and health

So now we are in that weird time where we've had the inspection, we're about to buy this house, and we're just finalizing the contract, or what they call here, the purchase and sales. The inspection went well -- really nice guy. He was very thorough and very educational, giving us tips about what to prioritize now and how to maintain our house in the years to come. He and Dave spent the four hours cracking each other up. I took pictures of the house and some of the items the sellers want to leave behind.

This may sound naive to the natives, but so far there seems to be little classism here in the Happy Valley. We've heard lots about carpenters and others with advanced degrees here. Before the house inspection we had a termite inspection and Dave said that the two owners of that company both have Ph.D.'s in entymology. Not only do you not find highly educated craftspeople in Brooklyn as a rule, you don't find the intelligencia mixing with people who work with their hands. Part of that is snobbery, of course. But maybe it's also that with so few people overall, you can't afford to be choosey; who wants to turn down an interesting conversation, no matter what the source?

Maybe if you live in the country you can't afford to be single-minded in your interests, either. If you own a house you're probably interested, at least a little, in renovation and up-keep. But chances are you also bike and cook and read, too. In New York City there's so much of everything that if you want your life to revolve around opera, or baking, or Chinese, you can do that to the exclusion of just about everything else.

Sorry for the digression. We met the wonderful owners -- he's a retired religion professor and the head of a local Buddhist church. She's a lovely retired special ed teacher. I am no longer worried about the grounds being too dark or not good for gardening: They said they were not gardeners and did not have green thumbs, although she did teach Japanese flower arranging for 40 years and she has gorgeous orchids. That means that if the grounds look as nice as they do, Dave's green thumb will turn them even nicer.

Standing out there yakking we also met some neighbors and although everyone's kids appear to be grown, we're hoping for visits from grandchildren and kids on nearby streets. This street is quiet and a dead-end, so it'll be a great place to practice bike-riding. Although it's an access point for the Fitzgerald Lake conservation area and there's an area for parking just a couple of houses down, I don't anticipate a ton of traffic; many people who live in the town look blank when I mention Fitz Lake. I have a fantasy of walking in the woods before work in the morning. I've been waking up at 5 am these days anyway, maybe because of the light. It could happen!

The woods around the house on Wednesday afternoonduring the inspection were roaring with bird song. I saw a mess of red-wing black birds and two turkey vultures. I want to join Mass. Audubon and get some of their CDs with New England bird song. I gather we have to be careful of bears, and not leave bird food out during the spring months. I am going to love the wildlife. I am delighted to learn to live with the ups and downs of raccoons and coyotes and foxes and whatever else. Hell, I lived with the ups and downs of Brooklyn for nearly two decades. What's the difference, really? Everything is a trade-off.

And otherwise we are all well. Lily was sick yesterday so Dave stayed home with her while I went to the Bement spring auction. Bement is her new school. I met some great parents and the whole feeling of the place reminded me of PS 261 in terms of the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. We went as a family to the school this morning for their Spring Fling, and that was fun, also. Again met some nice folks. I think Lily will like it.

As I was driving home last night I was glad we decided not to live in Deerfield, only because it is a long way from Northampton and Amherst. I am also glad our new house is inthe northeast corner of Northampton; closer to school.

I have two more pieces of news, both health-related. One is I had a routine colonoscopy-- I'm very healthy -- this week and I bring it up, one, because it's a crucial test everyone should do; colon cancer is one of the biggest killers but also one of the easiest to arrest if you find it early enough. It's deadly because most people are too embarrassed to talk about the procedure, never mind go through with it. The other reason is that I was at a health practice about a mile from our house and afterwards, when they offered me some food to break my fast, I had my choice of either cinnamon toast or English muffin with strawberrry jam. That was the best English muffin I've ever eaten.

My other health news is that Lily came into our room at two in the morning recently, sobbing. We heard her coming from the other room because she was limping so badly she was dragging her leg. "My knee! My knee!" she cried, tears pouring down her face. Her knee hurt so badly she couldn't put any weight on it. Oh, my god, I thought. Bone cancer. But I kept a brave face,wiped her tears and Dave her some Motrin. She curled up under my arm and we snuggled the rest of the night.

In the morning she was still limping a bit but she went to school okay. Dave carried her backpack to the bus for her. As soon as I got to work I immediately started quizzing my co-workers -- it's handy to work at a parenting magazine where almost everyone in the building has kids, most of them under 10. "It's growing pains, right?" I asked one of my colleagues.
"Yup. It's growing pains."
"Really? They'd be so bad she'd be limping and sobbing?"
"Yup." And she told me a couple of similar stories from her life. Phew!

A few days later Dave said, "Lily, c'mere, I have a hunch about something. Let me measure you."

She had grown a half an inch in two weeks, an inch in two months. That'd be enough to make anyone sob.

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