Window Washing

In my old house, I used a special window-washing attachment with my garden hose to wash the outside part of the windows. The was enough pressure to wash the second floor. Since I moved to my new house in May, I decided that I will think about the windows next season. Now, next season has come :). I started to ask my neighbors in April, and one of them showed me the trick. Interestingly, he only knew about this trick because his father worked in this industry. The house didn’t come with a manual!

But now, that I learned about it, I know how easy is it to wash the windows here – and I can do it even better than in Palatine!


The last couple of days were the days of major planning. All of a sudden, all my subscriptions came due for renewal. And since all of them had to be altered, I had to call each place instead of renewing online. I am converting most of the subscriptions to one instead of two. Now that everything is open and people have more options, it has become harder for me to find people interested in attending shows with me. Also, I am out of town pretty often, and other people are out of town from time to time. So I figured there would be shows I won’t be able to attend, and I will be able to exchange these tickets for a second ticket to other shows. That’s my math:).

Also, it looks like I figured out my travels until mid-June. There are so many things I want to do this summer! As usual, before summer starts, I have tons of plans, and then I have trouble fitting them all in. And I didn’t even look at Ravinia and Grant Park Music Festival programs!

The only thing I need is for the weather to be cooperative. There will be a year since I moved to the city in a couple of weeks, and slowly but surely, I am starting to take advantage of everything Chicago has to offer.

Gorgeous sunrises – I will have them for more than four months!
My new favorites from IKEA

Mice In The House

I knew from the very beginning that when you live in the city, the rodent question is not “if” but “when.” We the number of dead and alive mice and rats I saw on the streets, I knew there would be no way to escape.

I used to hear mice invading the kitchen in my old house because my office space was very close to it. Here, my office is on the opposite end of the apartment from the kitchen, and I never noticed anything. I made this unpleasant discovery in mid-January when I decided to use some of the remaining sweet potatoes. I was staring at a couple of potatoes which I pulled from the bottom of the box, trying to figure out what happened to them, and then I finally realized that somebody was gnawing them! It felt disgusting! I looked inside the box, and so some droppings and some crums. It looked very much like mice, and I knew that mice are a building problem in the city-dwelling, not an individual apartment problem.

The building management told me that I needed to contact the same extermination company that services our building twice a year, but I would still have to pay my bill myself. You can imagine that while I was waiting for them, I was nervously listening to all the noises. I put both boxes with potatoes on the top above the fridge, where I do not want to have anything at all, but in this case, I needed to isolate the potential rodent point of interest 🙂

An exterminator examined all the walls and the kitchen floor and said that he did not see any holes for the mice to get in “unless they sneaked in from the balcony when the door was open.” He left two mechanical traps and a bait with poison, which made me even more nervous because I am afraid of mice, live or dead!

Meanwhile, a board member was questioning everybody from my tier, and a neighbor right under me told her that a couple of weeks prior, he spotted a mouse, killed it, and threw a corps away. Can you imagine that?! He didn’t tell anybody, didn’t call an exterminator – I guess he didn’t know what to do when you a facing mice invasion?!

What made me particularly resentful was that I saw earlier that he was keeping after-parties leftovers on the balcony. When I saw that for the first time, I thought that somebody was calling for trouble and then, the trouble came to me!

I was leaving for Helsinki two days after the exterminator visit, and I had fears that I would return to the battlefield of dead mice. I asked Igor to check on the situation during my absence, and he did and saw none. It looks like mice are gone, but recalling my previous rodent encounters, I am afraid it was just “part one.”

More House Repairs

The Christmas tree ordeal was not really that bad. The real problem happening at the same time was my furnace. I knew that both the furnace and AC were old when I moved in and that, ideally, I had to replace them both. But having the list of things that didn’t work at the time of my move, I decided to try to last through the winter. Actually, after I refinanced, I theoretically could replace the furnace, but at that time, all my work things started, and I had no bandwidth to think about any house repairs. 

Well, it didn’t last through the winter. Moreover, it broke on Sunday morning. And it was a cold morning :). 

Out of four places I called for emergency service, only one was able to come the same day. They fixed the furnace, and I signed a service agreement with them, and when they asked whether I wanted to replace the furnace, I agreed. And I agreed to replace the air conditioner at the same time :). We agreed on the installation date of January 19, but the furnace stopped working the next morning again! They came and fixed it. They left the door off and showed me which button to push for restart. And a couple of hours later, their manager called and asked me whether I wanted the new furnace to be installed immediately … 

So now I have a new furnace, a new air conditioner, and a couple of takeaways.

  • The brick buildings can keep the warmth! There was no heating for seven hours, and the lowest the indoor temperature went down was 63F.
  • Only do business with companies that provide emergency service during after-hours.
  • When it’s time to replace, replace. 
  • In many cases, it’s good to work from home!

Economics Of Living In The City

I spent most of the day today talking to people over Skype and Facetime; I ended up with almost eight hours’ worth of talking! The only other thing I did was wrap up my ledgers for 2021, sup up the budget for 2022, and start my new financial excel file.

I am pretty happy with how my 2022 budget looks. I would never think it could be cheaper to live in the city than in the suburbs, but numbers do not lie. Of course, a big saving is living without a car – I never thought it was such a significant part of my budget. Also, mom’s place here is cheaper than in Palatine, and also – my house refinancing. Even with the current inflation, I have a cushion, so I hope that I will be able to repay my mortgage ahead of schedule and be done with it by the time I retire.

On a related topic: I always had higher energy bills in December, but I was never sure which portion of the electric bill was due to all the Christmas lights and which – to extra baking. Now that I have a gas stove, I know the answer: the electric bill barely changed, while the gas bill is three times higher than in November. So it all goes to the cookies!

The Joys Of Living In The Condominium

On Friday, several emails were sent back and forth between the property management and the building residents: no hot water. You might not believe it, but I had a feeling of relief. In fact, when I first saw this house, and the agent was taking me through all the parts of the building, I saw these giant water heaters in the basement and thought to myself: does it mean that the hot water is not my problem anymore? 

Indeed, it is not! The condominium handled all repairs, and by 1 PM, the hot water was back. And I thought for a minute that if this happened in my old house, I wouldn’t know about it until I came home from work Friday night, and then I wouldn’t be able to shower in the morning, and all my weekend plans would be screwed, because I will be looking for emergency service and would pay something unpredictable for it.

How The Week Goes

For several days, I had zero time to blog. I didn’t take a single day off, and Boris also worked all days except for Monday. We decided that we were trying to get “back to normal,” and our normal life means work.

On Saturday, there will be yet another early morning work for Boris. Actually, it sort of works for me because in normal life, I get up almost at the time he had to get up all this week to accommodate his European schedule.

On top of that, I took mom to the doctor on Monday, and we had a CSO concert on Thursday (an amazing one!), and also it was raining almost non-stop.

Also, I cooked a lot, and I baked a lot. And that’s more than “in normal life,” but these were the dishes I wanted to make and didn’t have either time or occasion. There was nothing extraordinary, but I would cook something fancy once a week, not twice a day in normal life.

We went grocery shopping together a couple of times. I do not feel safe biking in the rain, which means I didn’t go shopping on the bike and had less shopping capacity. Boris helped a lot; I think I am prepared for the cookie-baking time on the front of flour and sugar :).

We have Saturday and half-Sunday left, and too many things we want to do :).
Oh, and on Sunday, we were at a neighbor’s apartment, and Boris noticed how they had light strips in the dining room and ordered similar lights for us. And now the dining room looks amazing!


There were several days when the overnight temperature fell below 60F, and finally, my apartment was cold enough for a heater to kick in. It happened during the night, and in the morning, I smelled a hint of burning oil, just a little bit. It felt like the house was surprised to receive a command from the Ecobee to turn the heat on:)

I really-really-REALLY love my condo! It feels so good to come back home. I love every little thing about it; yes, there are still a couple of minor things with light fixtures, which still have to be resolved, and the parts don’t come due to the worldwide production crisis. But they are so minor that I can live with them :).

Funny Thing Happened Today

When I opened my apartment door and stepped into the kitchen, I could tell right away that it is warm. The past several days were incredibly hot, and each time I stepped inside my apartment, I felt the coolness. Toda, however, I could tell that the temperature in the apartment is the same as outside.

I had a thousand thoughts right away. I thought: I just told a number of people that the severe weather didn’t damage anything in my apartment! And that I didn’t have a power outage. And that I thought I wouldn’t need to replace an air conditioner before spring. And which repair service should I call? 

I was already counting my losses of time and money when I felt that it is starting to cool down. I checked the thermostat – the temperature was indeed coming down!

It was only then that I realized that today was the first day in two weeks that I came home before the time the air conditioner thinks I should be home and starts to cool the apartment!

I immediately remembered what my neighbor said the other day. I asked him where he was – I haven’t seen him for the whole week. He replied with the question: where have you being for the whole week?

  • I was working!
  • See – that’s what I mean: you should be at home more!

I guess, he is right!