March 2nd, 2007

the week of doom continues

So far this week: karate took over playgroup and chased away the one other parent and two children who would have attended, leaving Teddy and I to fend for ourselves, then try the library with everyone else, which did not go well. Child care cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday, and did so in the most inconvenient way possible, stringing me along, rather than letting me come up with some other outing.

Thursday, child care came with me to Portsmouth. I had to pick up a bridesmaid dress. We still aren't sure why the bride bought her dress there, much less the maids dresses, but whatever. Part of the idea was to save us money, which it did not for me because I used child care to help keep the kid happy. Which worked pretty well, along with the DVD, despite 3 hours in the van. We also went to the Children's Museum in Portsmouth, which is almost worth the outing all by itself. I was hoping so. Unfortunately, I couldn't just leave Teddy with child care, because for whatever reasons of his own, he was feeling very clingy. But it was fun. We had lunch in old Portsmouth, name of restaurant forgotten but I have a receipt somewhere. I had a beer, which helped then, but of course isn't so good later. *sigh* Teddy slept in my lap during the meal, which was sort of good, but that meant he was asleep for the trip out and back, not so good.

Today, the snow/slush storm meant the library apparently never did open. Certainly it wasn't open when I went down alone at a little after 10 to volunteer, leaving Teddy at home with his papa. We called a couple of times, but no one ever picked up, so I'm assuming the library took a snow day. There went my other weekly activity that helps keep Teddy happy and me retain my sanity.

Once he was asleep, I tried the dress on. I only confirmed that it was the size ordered while at the store -- a 22. I ordered based on the bust measurement alone. I measure 45" and I added an inch to make sure there would be adequate material for alterations, which is very difficult to explain to people, but I'll try anyway. When they make a top (stand alone or part of a dress or whatever) for women, they make some assumptions about the difference between waist and bust. If there is a much bigger difference, you paradoxically need _more_ material than if there is less of a difference. Think about running a tape measure over Mt. Rainier vs. Mt. Si and that might explain it. If the material is stretchy (like a stretch bra in a tank top), then what will happen is it will become lower and lower cut (until it no longer covers the nipple). This is not what I want to be wearing at a wedding.

Since I had measured myself, there was a chance I was delusional. But no, this is actually the right size dress. There is about enough material, altho of course the shape of the cups is in the wrong spot (barely covering the nipple) but there's plenty of fabric in the bodice so I think the line at the hip will land in the right spot.

Next problem: undergarment? This is a _strapless_ dress. I went over this repeatedly with the bride, but the bride is delusional. Major strategies: give up (probably losing the bride as friend -- don't think I haven't thought about this. So far, I'm still playing); insist on a different dress (this is the backup plan and the bride is okay with that, since I'm the matron of honor); attempt to find an undergarment or determine if the dress can be modified to function as support. I'm pursuing the last one right now, after one last shot at the third last night.

I have gotten _so good_ at finding strapless bras in excessively large sizes that I know of a couple brands that make them up to a G cup. Unfortunately, I am an H cup (or possibly an I). And while you can to some degree swap band for cup number (go up in the band and down in the cup, or vice versa), you cannot have a loose band in a strapless bra or it will not do anything useful at all. I found a woman running a large cup/small band size bra store on e-bay who volunteered to tell me my cup and band size based on more measurements than most people take (altho not as many as Snares of Venus, but I get ahead of myself). I dug out the one nursing bra (Anita) that I bought at Nordstrom's that more or less fits correctly and had Roland do the measuring. She replied, my bras only go up to G and you are a 36H. Yay. Not like I hadn't figured that out on my own.

Goddess does make a longline bra in H (I, etc.). But longlines are not likely to work for me without major alterations. Snares of Venus will custom make just about anything you want, but primarily for these purposes, a correctly fitted longline. This is tempting. They take all the relevant measurements. All of them, including per boob measures across and vertical. But they would charge me $225. Which honestly, seems a little steep, especially since I'm not size stable, and won't be for years, especially if Teddy gets a sibling. However, the fact they say they can do this leads me to believe that the dress could be modified to serve the same purpose (it is _not_ lightweight or stretchy fabric).

Next up: find someone to do the alterations, and figure out _when_ to have the fitting done to minimize possibility of poor-fitting do to size change between now and mid-June. It's got to be early enough to be done in time for the wedding -- and to come up with an alternate plan in the event of catastrphic failure in the course of alterations -- but not so early that summertime activity levels change my size dramatically. I think what I'll do is shop for a person to do alterations this month. If there is widespread consensus that the project is impossible on the face of it, then I'll go straight to New Dress Option. If there's disagreement, I'll start the alterations process immediately, so if the cocky idiot who says they can when others say they can't turns out to be a cocky idiot, I can go to New Dress Option. But if everyone agrees it is possible, I'll discuss with the person I pick to do it when the best time to do fittings might be. After all, they'll know best, right? Altho I suspect they'll say RIGHT NOW because the wedding is in the middle of June and they'll have plenty of other business then.

not-so-random research: buyin' a place in Seattle?

Here is some stuff to consider:

A discussion of why apartment vacancies are low in Seattle:

and an update here from January:

Note this includes loss of units to condo conversions.

This is a really neat analysis of what months condos tend to sell:

Here's a January article noting one new project will be apartments
rather than condos, but in general arguing that the condo market
will stay strong -- despite greater inventories and fewer sales.

Here's someone in the blogosphere commenting on that article:

That blog, in general, seems kinda funny. ;-)

Another recent post from him:

I spent years -- no joke -- shopping before I bought my condo. When
I started, I was looking for a house with someone else. By the time
I bought, I was getting a condo, still expecting to live there with
someone else and share expenses, but with the mortgage and deed in
my name alone. In the end, I moved in alone. It all turned out
just lovely (altho I don't live there now, I will live there
again some year, and I like my renters). But I spent _years_. Anyone
thinking of buying should think in terms of years. That way, they
won't get smoke blown up their ass by an agent. They'll know the
market better than the agent by the time they are done -- at least
that slice they care about.

Most impressive, tho is:

Wow. Wish that had been around when I was shopping. OTOH, I think
buying a used unit in a small building is still a better deal.

The Times realestate section has an article about how to
avoid a broker: use Redfin, an online brokerage:

Nice analysis of commissions in the article.

not-so-random commentary: buyin' a place -- anywhere

The Sports Season -- Political Season, that is -- is about to start here in Brookline. I've been quietly active in the pre-season, causing trouble associated primarily with the library. I'm hoping to understudy as a trustee this year.

Recently, someone sent a very unpleasant letter to the selectmen (I have not yet been able to read it myself) complaining about the vast expense of living in town. Basically, property taxes, because other than a pretty minor restaurant sales tax, and an annoying unearned income tax that few people in the state ever encounter, that's the only tax there is in this state. But that does mean it's not low, and if you aren't expecting it, and bought all the house they let you, those taxes can push you right over the edge. Like, lose your house, edge.

Of course, the vast majority of the property tax goes to pay for the schools, so if you want to wail and moan about taxes effectively, one should do it to the school board/at the school board meeting, not to the selectmen/at Town Meeting. The selectmen, I understand, were kind enough to point this out to her, and also to direct her to meetings where she could learn more about her Tax Dollars At Work, and do her New England bit to be frugal. (After all, the town portion of taxes actually went _down_ this year.)

I laugh, of course, because I'm not paying property taxes out here (that'd be R.'s property and R.'s expense). I do pay property taxes in Seattle (I try to remember, but sometimes they are late), but those are considerably lower, even tho sometimes that property is valued higher than this one. I don't get to laugh very hard, tho, because I have to pay home owner's dues.

Let us, then, consider the cost of ownership:

home owner's association dues
property taxes
mortgage payment
electricity bill
heating bill
cooling bill

Here in DIY heaven, we bring our garbage and recycling to the town transfer station. We have a well, but pay for the electricity to run the pump, and sometimes have other costs associated with filtering or otherwise treating the water. We have a septic system, which has to be pumped every few years. We have AC (electricity bill, plus maintenance), a furnace (electricity on the fan, propane for the burner), a cookstove (propane for stovetop and oven), washing machine (electricity and water and sewage), dryer (propane and electricity), dishwasher (water, sewage and electricity -- oh, and maintenance on everything). No mortgage payment ('cause my husband is frugal). Lights, computers and similar. Property taxes (high enough to make a person nervous, and they went up a _lot_ this year). No association.

Never, ever, ever compare the rent bill to the mortgage payment. Ask the questions. Find out what's included. You might be shocked to discover what's involved in keeping a bunch of appliances up and running. Or keeping the place liveably cool/warm.

Our friend M. bought a condo a few years back. We helped him move in. I cleaned a bunch, because it was clear that even the carpet cleaning done for the sale was inadequate; the previous owners apparently never vacuumed. Eeew. And you should have seen the paint they used on the walls -- they bought cheap stuff and mixed it. Looked like vomit. Seriously. (Not chunky, but that icky pink color.) Over the first few months, he kept encountering all kinds of stupid lack-of-maintenance stuff that was the result of people-who-should-only-ever-rent being able to afford to buy a condo during a massive fall in the market back in the '90s. Nothing wrong with the construction and he likes the place. But catching up cost a bunch.