Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fritz got this from a friend—it’s delightful. Hema is a Dutch online shopping site, and it’s all in Dutch, but that’s completely irrelevant. Just let it load completely, then give it a second to start its routine (it’s safe for work but might be a bit noisy for some workplaces): Hema


I’ve been away from the blog longer than I wanted to. Things are beginning to race ahead on the house, to the point where it takes not only the general contractor but also Fritz and me to keep all the subcontractors and component parts from getting in each other’s way.

Finish carpentry (including installation of the cedar interior of the sauna) is going on now in tandem with tiling in both bathrooms and the shower room [or roomette, depending on your term for a six foot by three and a half foot shower], and more plumbing. We’re interviewing stone masons because April, which is when we’ll be able to start all the exterior stone work, is a little over two months away.

We went up the hill this morning and checked to see if we’d be in the finish carpenter’s way if we began the big job of sorting out all the IKEA cartons of kitchen cabinet parts. We were given the go-ahead and began to lay out over 100 cartons and plastic-wrapped packages by their article numbers. When you buy a kitchen cabinet from IKEA, all its parts aren’t packed in one carton—each of its components arrives in its own separate package with only a stock number to identify it.

I’d begun the process by going through the shipping manifest a couple of days ago and figuring out which doors, hinges, drawer slide systems, and drawer fronts went with which cabinet frame; I then made out a parts sheet for each separate cabinet. When we began today, we made a stack of cartons for each article number, and then pulled cartons from the stacks as needed to make a stack for each individual cabinet or group of identical cabinets. When we were all through, we had every piece we were supposed to have—no mistake had been made in assembling the order, shipping or unloading it.

With that behind us, we’ll begin the assembly process with one simple cabinet to get our feet wet and then just keep on going. I’ve never assembled anything from IKEA before and I’m well aware that there’s a little cottage industry out there of people who hire out, assembling IKEA furniture and cabinets for buyers who tried putting them together and then give up. We’re clever lads and I think we’ll be able to handle it as long as relatively ordinary tools are involved and the instructions aren’t only in Swedish.


Thanks to Father Tony and Chris at farmboyz:

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.
You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.
What European City Do You Belong In?

I was delighted to find that I belong in Paris. I’ve loved it there on each of my visits and as my father’s mother was born there, there’s always been a French Connection in my family—a very strong one in point of fact. Other European cities I know from experience that I could live in happily are (in no particular order) Rome, Copenhagen, Munich, and Seville and maybe Lyon. Cities that I loved but couldn’t imagine trying to make a go of for one reason or another are St. Petersburg, Athens and London.


I spent last Saturday in the Boston area, beginning with a delightful lunch with Karl (Adventures in Gastronomy) and boyfriend Randy. It was my first time meeting Randy and a nicer guy you couldn’t imagine. We ate at the Rosebud Café in Davis Square, Somerville. Karl is the first of the Boston bloggers with whom I made contact and it’s really good to see him with such a good man.

After lunch I went out to Waltham for a program by the Boston Wagner Society on the early Wagner opera (begun when he was 20) Das Liebesverbot--The Ban on Love. He adapted Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure, writing both the libretto and the music, a pattern he would continue unwaveringly for the rest of his career. The program was in preparation for the first staged performance in the United states of Liebesverbot, previously (and only very rarely) given in concert. The Glimmerglass Festival will stage the piece this summer in what is currently considered the standard performing edition that takes about three hours in performance, rather than the almost five hours of music in the original score.

Writing at length was something else that Wagner would continue unwaveringly for the rest of his career.

Extensive excerpts from three productions of the opera were played; in audio only from two different German performances, and video from a production in Austria. It became immediately apparent that however unformed Wagner’s style may have been musically at the time (his major models being French and, in particular, Italian early Romantic operas), he already had a pretty good grasp on how to write a scene, how to make a work theatrical. A couple of his contemporaries, Franz Schubert being the most prominent example, never developed this gift. No matter how beautiful their music, their operas don’t really live on a stage. For all it’s occasionally naïve, even gauche, qualities, Das Liebesverbot has recognizable characters and scenes that crackle with vitality and dramatic confrontation.

On my way back into town I stopped off with friends in Somerville to deliver some programs from performances I’d seen in the fall and early winter, and to catch up a bit on recent happenings.

The day ended at Jordan Hall with a recital by contertenor David Daniels. David has always had a striking and beautiful voice, but his work on Saturday night was altogether superior. The tone was large, full and warm. His sense of communication of text and emotion was as sure as ever combined with tremendous ease and a noticeable joy in singing. The program consisted of five songs by Brahms, four songs from the Italian Baroque by Peri, Durante, Caccini and Frescobaldi, and four more by the French Romantic Reynaldo Hahn in the first part.

After Intermission, David blazed through two big Handel arias, from Rinaldo and Partenope, a repertory in which he’s supreme. Huge ovations followed. The announced portion of the second half consisted of six songs by English composers—Roger Quilter, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sir Edward Elgar, Herbert Howells and Gerald Finzi. There were three encores of songs and arias by Vaughan Williams, Purcell and a final rousing performance of an aria from Handel’s Orlando.

I went home very happy—good food, friends and music are my kind of day.

I know exactly what I'd call a six foot by three and a half foot shower, but I'm trying to be less rude on other people's blogs so I can be ruder on my own.
Will, we were advised by friends who went through the Ikea-kitchen-cabinets-experience to GLUE all the doweled joints. We did. We're glad. It was really easy. And i'm now passing that advice on to you. Happy assembling men!
i have never been to paris, but everybody seems to love it.
i probably would 'deserve' to live in some nasty european place but i would like to try copenhagen.

i had so many chances to meet mr. daniels when i lived in ann arbor michigan but i blew it. stinko.

it is always exciting to see your house going up. goodness knows how you do it all.
I'm so HAPPY that things are moving along at a more rapid pace in the house. Finally! I had a passenger yesterday that was the spitting image and personality our (and YOUR!) dear friend, and bed partner, Fritz. Amazing gentlemen. Loved talking with him.
Paris for me too. Damn. I was hoping for Bristol!
Ted, you can be as rude as you like here.

Sam, thanks for the advice which we were happy to take. And it WAS easy, nothing like the ordeal we had heard tell of.

spo, I've met David D twice--once in Glimmerglass when he was singing in Handel's Tamerlano and once in Florida when he was singing the title role in Giulio Cesare. He's incredibly nice. In Florida I asked if he'd ever consider singing Gluck's Orfeo--he said it would be a huge challenge for him and he didn't know if he was up for it. I remembered that last season when he had a huge success in the role at the MET in New York.

Lewis, that's funny. Did you tell him he looked like a guy you knew?
Let me know when you might be out here again--particularly if both of you can visit.

Richard--Bristol?! As in England?
Looks like Paris for me, too. Haven't been there since I spent three wonderful weeks in Paris at Christmas time when I was a high school junior. Oh what would I do and see now, as a horny middle-aged gay man, rather than a horny questioning teenager?
I/we love Paris, so I'm glad it said Paris for me. Not that I would have paid attention if it said anything else!
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