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30 Jan 2022

One month on – It has been a little over a month now since we moved into our new place, and I thought I would give an update. This isn’t technically part of the “moving saga,” as we are now pretty well settled in; think of it more as an epilogue.

“We are mostly settled and enjoying the new place, and the little things that aren’t quite the way we want them yet can be dealt with over time.”

There are, of course, still things that we need to get sorted. We still haven’t gotten our chairs for the living/dining room, so we’re using our old Costco folding chairs. These work fine for the time being, and we haven’t found chairs that we are completely sold on yet, so we’re not rushing things there. There are also a few pieces of art that we haven’t figured out places for, but we are in no big rush on that, either. In terms of getting settled in, though, all the major issues have been taken care of. This is mostly thanks to HJ being unable to abide things being unorganized. Had it been up to me, I probably would have gotten around to things much more slowly (if ever).

Probably the biggest improvement was getting the shelves set up in the storage/piano room, which allowed us to put away all of the things that had been scattered about with no place to call home. Some of that clutter had been sharing my study with with me, and having that out of the way makes the room feel slightly less claustrophobic. I imagine that I am also getting used to the smaller space.

I think we are also adjusting well to life in the new environment. As I mentioned in previous entries, we are in a much noisier neighborhood now, but I am happy to report that the noise hasn’t interfered in our sleep. Which is not to say that we don’t hear the street noise—it is an ever-present background noise—but not once have I been unable to fall asleep because of it, and not once have I been woken up by it. It is really quite remarkable how quickly human beings will adapt to a new environment, and this is one example of that, I think.

There is some construction noise during the day, due to the building going up right across the street from us, but I’m usually not here during the day, and even when I am (on weekends, for example) it doesn’t bother me all that much. So the bottom line is that the noise isn’t really a factor. It’s there, but it doesn’t seem to be negatively impacting us, at least not to a detectable extent.

As for the positives of being in this neighborhood, we haven’t really taken advantage of being near so many bars and restaurants. It’s kind of funny, because one of our favorite bars is only a few minutes’ walk away now, and we haven’t been there once since we moved in. We also don’t go out to eat a lot. I think we might have been out once or twice after those first couple of days when everything was still chaotic. (That being said, we did go out for lunch at our favorite soba place today, as we got home from church a little later than usual.)

Part of us not going out too often has to do with how much we are enjoying the new kitchen. I’ve finally broken in the oven, and it has turned out to be a huge upgrade from our old oven. It’s a lot more powerful, a lot more spacious, and bakes a lot more evenly than our previous oven. I really liked our old oven, but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the new one. The island has also been everything I was hoping it would be—namely a nice, wide space to prepare my breads and other baked goods (and high enough that I am not hunched over). It’s also just a handy general purpose space to have available.

Probably the star of the kitchen so far, though, has been the induction cooktop. It is very quick to heat up pots and pans—so quick that it took a little while to get used to the new timing. I can put a pot of water on it, turn it up to 9 (there is a “max” setting, but we’ve never used it), and before I know it the water will be boiling. It also heats very consistently. That is, I can turn it on to 5 and I know exactly what sort of heat I’m going to get. That also took a little getting used to, but now I have a pretty good idea of how intense each of the settings are. For example, I know that I can set the frying pan to 5, wait a little for it to get up to heat, and then cook perfect pancakes. It’s a lot more precise—and thus a lot more predictable—than a gas range. Of course, as I mentioned previously, the induction also avoids gas fumes, which has been working out great. The one aspect I did not expect to enjoy as much as I do, though, is how easy it is to keep clean. It’s so easy to keep clean that I actually enjoy wiping it down after I’m done cooking. There’s just something so satisfying about taking a damp cloth to it and restoring it to its original sparkling white brilliance. I’ve heard people complain of having to scrape dried food and such off of the surface, but we’ve never had to do that.

In general, it has been a lot easier to keep our place clean than it was when we lived in the faculty apartments. The kitchen is a big part of that, but so is the fact that we don’t have the verandah spaces. For one, we don’t have to deal with the mold issue (if anything, this place tends to feel a little too dry at times). But seeing as how the verandahs were liminal spaces between the inside and the outside, it was a fool’s errand to try to keep them clean. We don’t have that problem here. And I suppose there’s probably also something about the place being new that inspires us to keep it clean.

If there is one downside to the new place, it’s that we don’t get any direct sunlight, due to the aspect of our building and its location among the surrounding buildings. Thus you can imagine my surprise late one weekend afternoon when I was sitting in the living room and saw sunlight hitting the hallway wall opposite our bedroom. It turns out that there is a building across the street sheathed partly in glass, and at that particular moment the sunlight reflects off the glass and hits our bedroom. It only lasts for about five or ten minutes, but HJ and I have taken to going into the bedroom and standing in the sunlight like houseplants if we happen to be home at that golden hour.

The truth is, though, we are not too fussed at not getting direct sunlight. We can always go outside to get some light, and although it does mean our place tends to be cool during the winter (which we actually prefer), we hope that means it will also stay cool in the summer. We’ll have to wait some months before we find out for sure, though.

I suppose I can also comment on the commute, having spent a month doing the longer walk to and from my office. Leaving our place in the morning and heading up toward the hill as opposed to down toward the station feels a little bit like being a salmon swimming upstream, at least until I get past the district office; from that point on, there seem to be more people going up than down, and far fewer people overall. Kevin expressed concern that the hill might be slippery after snow, and having now walked the hill several times in and after snowfalls, I can confirm that it is indeed slippery. But it hasn’t been so slippery that I’ve been in danger of falling. It’s not pleasant, for sure, but as long as I’m careful it seems to be OK. I imagine that I will enjoy the hill far less in the hot, humid summers.

So that is where things stand right now. We are mostly settled and enjoying the new place, and the little things that aren’t quite the way we want them yet can be dealt with over time. I don’t plan on posting monthly updates about how things are going, so hopefully with this epilogue we can close the book on the “moving saga” and move on to other things. In the meantime, I wish you a happy (lunar) new year!

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