Saturday, April 30, 2011

Is cuteness!

B to me: Look! Look at the Bails. He's resting on my knee! Is cuteness!

God, I love this man.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The untimely death of Officer Chris Kilcullen

This has been a weird week. On one hand, we have ecstatic highs relating to the move and the purchase of a house. And then there's the (finally uplifting news in the world) royal wedding. But, this excitement has been contrasted against horrible lows.

Last Friday, for the first time since 1934, my city lost a police officer.

He's my (former) boss's son. I'd met him a few times. He has two small children and wife, and he was only 43. I keep thinking about his dad's pain and how utterly unfair this is for him and his family. Completely pointless and unfair. The unfair power that some lunatic with a gun and a single shot has over other people's lives and minds. Unfair. Heartbreaking.

The funeral is today, and I'm going, though I will only be one of likely thousands in attendance. The streets downtown are filled with trees and posts wearing blue ribbons in remembrance of Chris. I imagine that driving past them makes my ex boss proud and overwhelmingly sad.

In other, similarly sad news, my former law professor also died this past week. Like Chris, Keith Aoki died too young-- in his 50s. Cancer did it, and he, too, leaves behind a wife and children-- twin 9-year old girls.

So, in a week of highs and lows, I'm even more so grateful for what I have. I hugged my husband extra tight and told my family I love them. I hope to never feel the tragic pain the family members of those above are feeling, but I do hope they know how much their loved ones were loved by many.

Flea Prevention

Ok, so here's the deal: we have 3 cats and 2 dogs. We knew what sort of financial commitment we were getting into BEFORE we got them. However, like with anything, if there is a way to avoid certain costs, I'm ALL for it.

One thing is flea prevention. We keep the dogs on it year-around because they're indoors and outdoors. The cats we generally have off of it in the winter months, since it's a) too cold, and b) they're indoors.

So far, this has worked for us. But it's still expensive.

An old vet of ours told us that in certain brands of flea control, the same percentage of active ingredients are in the cat AND dog controls. Which means, instead of buying 3 packs per month of the cat meds, I could just buy one "large dog" pack and divide one month's dose between the cats. Doing this with a needle-less syringe makes getting the 0.8mL per cat dosage a little easier.

It saves a ton of money. And it's safe if you do it properly. Which is why I feel really grumpy that my vet gave me such a hard time today when I asked about it.

End thoughts: They must make a lota money on the sale of flea control.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hail Queen Maddie

Someone got wind of the fact that Corgi's are Queen Elizabeth's favorite AND that there is a royal wedding this week.

Her royal highness is currently laying morose on the floor at her lack of a royal wedding invitation, with her little royal footsies dragged out behind her.


** No Maddie-dog was harmed in this photo shoot, though she may have been stuck on top the dresser for the shots so she would not be fussy over the crown on her head.

Friday, April 22, 2011

More about the future digs...

Our soon-to-be home is what we had hoped for: A house with character in a coveted neighborhood. We sacrificed one thing: Bathrooms. The house has one. Otherwise? Fairly perfect.

It was built in 1948, has coved ceilings, gorgeous trimwork and lovely floors. Though it's over the 60-year mark in age, it's all ok: It's been completely redone and all energy-efficient upgrades.

Other perks:

  • 1.5 miles to both of our works.

  • 0.3 miles to the nearest grocery store (thanks to hidden stairs up the hill behind the store, by car it's more like 1 mile).

  • Fully fenced, large backyard.

  • Terraced front yard with a lot of space but also puts the house NOT smack dab on the street; passers-by cannot see into the house.

  • Fabulous schools (not that we have kidlets, but someday...)

  • On a hill, with a view, but not too much of a hill that we'll want to die when we come home from work and are biking/walking.

  • Chef's kitchen.

  • Fully redone bath with door that opens outward (genius. Please tell this idea to our landlords)

  • Back alley access, not used much, but makes it nice to get things into the far back yard.

There also is future potential someday. The house is in a great place on the lot for a possible future master bath/walk-in closet. There's also a full bonus room upstairs that has a lot of potential, and rather high-ceiling crawlspace over the kitchen.

And don't even get me started on the windows. Oh, the light!

So now, we're knee-deep in moving mode, just waiting for the moment to start unloading things from the old digs to the new. The critters are confused, but it will all be ok.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A home of our own.

Early next month, the husband and I become homeowners to this beauty. A beautiful home in a phenomenal neighborhood in our town. Walking distance to work and the grocery store. Remodeled interior (photos to come).
Needless to say, we're pretty darn excited. The house is beautiful inside, and boasts a view, a huge backyard, and gorgeous stonework tiers in front.

We're looking forward to more space, a fully fenced backyard, and higher-quality construction. The home feels like us.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Refinishing the desk

We bought a desk for our new place (yes, more on that later). It's not too deep, which we like, and it has a hutch. I know hutches can get cluttered, but our hope is that we can make this an organized, usable space (and also potentially not have to get another bookshelf).

The desk is solid wood. While we like the shape, form, and functionality of the desk, we don't like the color or hardware. I thought about painting it, but sigh, it's solid, beautiful wood in good condition. I wanted to try refinishing first to see how it'd turn out.

Of course, upon the desk arriving in our new place, the cats had to inspect.

With the feline curiosity satisfied, I set to work. I'm not done, but here is the progress so far.

I took all the drawer hardware pieces (the wood knobs) off. The goal is to completely replace those.

Then I sanded down each of the drawers. The stain does not penetrate too far, so I can do this without hurting the integrity of the wood. If I had to guess, it's a pine desk. Pine's a soft wood, so that made sanding easier.

Here are all the drawers with their faces sanded. I did not sand the sides. You don't see the sides! I decided instead to slap some stain on the sides when I stained, that way the stain darkens a LITTLE bit, without me having to go to the trouble of sanding.

After sanding down, first with medium grit 100 sandpaper and then 220 fine sandpaper, I brushed all the wood bits off and then wet the wood with water. I didn't soak it, just wet it. This raises the grain of the wood as it dries. Then, when you sand again with the 22o, you know you're getting a super smooth finish.

I wiped and wiped and wiped to get all the wood bits off. Then: Time for the stain!

I decided to try something new: Jacobean stain by Minwax. I'd used Minwax's products before, but never Jacobean. It appeared to be darker than their walnut and mahogany stains, but not as dark as the ebony stain. That's what I wanted: dark stain, but still able to see the wood grain. I also didn't want any red tint to the stain since the wood floors in that area of the house are more reddish-colored.

And here are the drawer results! They're both the same color; forgive the flash of the lower drawer.

I really like the stain.

The desk has a lot more work I need to do on it. The fact that a) we're moving and b) it's been POURING outside for the past week both have greatly inhibited my ability to work on this project. Now that we're at a semi-standstill on the moving (you can only pre-pack so much) and today seems sunny, maybe I'll hack away at the next step on this project.

The next step: The hutch. The hutch has a backing on it that is held in place with heavy-duty staples. My goal is to undo those staples and remove the entire back of the hutch. Not permanently; just to give me better access to sanding and staining the shelves and getting in those nooky corners.

Once everything is sanded and stained, the next job is to determine if a second coat of stain is needed. Then comes the polyurethane finish. I'm thinking that will wait until the desk is in the new house and in an area that won't be disturbed too much. I really don't want dust or fur or smudges on the finish.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

If we fall out of bed, we won't die.

I'm selling our couch.

Yes, our beloved couch that we were so happy to purchase just FIVE months ago. Sigh. But, we're buying a used set that is quite gorgeous (and goes better with the decor), so good-bye fair brown couch.

This also means that we will be sans a place to place our behinds.

So... I'm thinkin'.... down comes the bed from the loft.

It's quite tantalizing to think that we won't have to go up that damn ladder. And, if we fall out of bed, we won't, you know... die.

Speaking of which, would any of you rent out a home with a lofted bedroom with no guard rails? I suspect not. I wouldn't at least. There's an accident waiting to happen.

So yes. Hopefully soon (if this buyer buys it), out goes the couch, down comes the bed.

The dogs will be beside themselves. To say they "love" beds is a great understatement.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How not to antagonize your tenants

We learned, shortly after moving in, that it was very much rumored that our landlords... lacked follow through. That's putting it nicely. All one really had to do was walk over to my neighbor's back yard, see where my neighbor himself (with no rent deduction) had removed a dilapidated, rotten deck (at landlord's request)... a space that has since become a veritable mud pit. Oh, and it's right next to their back door. And the house is covered in rather questionable patches.

And then there's our house. "Energy efficient" the ad boasted. We saw the topical things, the supposed-bamboo flooring and the front-loading washer and thought "oooooh." Oh, how sad we were, impressed by flashy objects.

Little did we realize that the bamboo was the cheapest possible shitty bamboo you could find. Bamboo that scratches so easily. And oh, the walkways to the house? MUD. Seriously. And there is no entry way at either entrance where you're on tile or anything. Nope. Straight on to the wood. There's no covered porch to leave shoes either. Our floors were doomed due to stupidity of home path construction.

And then there are the windows. So, landlords? Wood-framed, single pane windows are about as energy efficient as thick saran wrap. Actually, less so, since saran wrap would actually SEAL the windows, where as your contraptions have cracks that actually set our curtains fluttering because so much air gets in. And one wall heater per half house is a very inefficient way to heat.

And we shall not discuss our bathroom... half of which, we discovered, is on concrete pillars and so there is no insulation underneath and gets ass cold in the wintertime. And even the summertime if it's a semi-chill day. It may have taken you EIGHT months, but we do appreciate you fixing the heater in there. It's frequent that the heater kicks on at 50 degrees, even though that's technically the "off" setting. Yes, the bathroom is that cold. However, your wiring job and plumbing job in the rest of the bathroom (knowing that the wrong plumbing was used and knowing there are a mess of wires behind the light switch panel) means I spend as little time as possible in there.

And the kitchen. WHO has 4' high countertops? And while there is some decent shelving, my 5'8" self can only reach, barely, the edge of the second shelf (there are 4 shelves). And your drawers underneath the counters are so deep that things get lost and die and reborn down there. It is gross.

Let us not also discuss your utter and complete disregard for all things liability and also human decency. You're required, by our rental contract, to maintain the backyard. After not being able to use said back yard because of your lack of maintenance (logs.stumps.branches. trash, all hidden in high grass), we finally dragged so much shit out of that area and put it in a pile. Now we can use the backyard. Now you want US to drag that pile to a dumpster? NO. Your yard maintenance, as you've tried to tell me, is not limited to blackberries and mowing. You do shitty jobs at those things anyway. The rental contract says tree trimming and maintenance. NO further limitations. And no, I don't plan on hurting myself in the yard, but seriously. If I have someone over, I don't want to have to keep myself glued to their side to make sure they don't hurt themselves. My godson has already fallen tripping over shit you were supposed to pick up out of the yard and scratched his face all up. I don't need that happening again.

I'm ticked off at you and really have a half a mind to go after you for partial lost rent since my rent is the rate it is because I supposedly have use of a half acre back yard. That's with the rental contract in mind that YOU are supposed to maintain it. Last year? You mowed ONCE and then left all the grass rotting on the ground. Your yard maintenance guy sprayed one blackberry patch and left all the dead vines right there. He weed wacked the other patch and left most of the vines on the ground, which, for blackberries, is essentially causing a blackberry population explosion (since blackberry cut vines root).

There are so many small things in the house that we have had to fix ON OUR OWN DIME since your cheapness would potentially not have fixed larger things if we had also asked for smaller things. I mean, you are the people who argued with us over whether we had the right to request reimbursement for a $10 carbon monoxide detector, even though Oregon had JUST PASSED A LAW requiring carbon monoxide detectors in rental units. Oh, that's right, the law did not become active for another 6 months, which is why you were trying to cheapen out of paying $10.

I know the history. I know the front house a few years ago had a plumbing explosion which supposedly (if rumors are true) caused raw sewage to leak from floor 2 down to floor 1. I also know that our house is connected and there was a back up here, causing damage to all the floors in this house. But you know what? Shit happens when you own a home. Just because you had a financial hemorrhage a few years ago does not alleviate you of all responsibilities currently.

And you know what? The yard guy? He thinks that the stack of debris in the back yard is a liability too. And the maintenance guys? They may smile to your face, but behind it they are shaking their heads. They can't believe how cheap you are, and they can't believe you're making the decisions you're making. "It's going to cost him a fortune if he doesn't get this small problem now fixed," they tell me. "We won't be here when the house falls down," I tell them.

So. That's that. All the above and more make it very pleasant for me tomorrow when we turn in our 30-day notice.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thanks, puppies.

Dear Pups,

Thank you for running around like such maniacs this morning. I appreciate your enthusiasm so early in the morning. Truly. Having to leap over squirming bundles of fur really helps me wake up.

Also, super kudos for managing to knock my internet modem charger off the power strip. Those 15 minutes I spent trying to figure out why my internet wasn't working were special.

Hugs and kisses,


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Patching, Painting, Purging and Packing

There is the distinct possibility we'll be moving soon. Not being one to want to jinx things, more details on that will come later.

But, in the meantime: Let us ride the chaos train.

Having heard rumors from a reliable source (the next door neighbor who rents from the same person) that each pinhole in our home will cost us $1-$8 (I remember him saying $1, he remembers being told $8), we're sweeping into gear.

Patching: yay caulk!
Painting: yay matching paint!
Purging: if we don't need it, let's sell, trash, or donate!
Packing: if we don't use it frequently, let's box it. If it's going to be stored in a box, let's get a nice bin.

It's been a fun few weeks.

The yard has also been 100% cleaned up. New seeds have been cast to cover areas that were bare, so the yard looks exactly as it did when we got it. We're leaving garden boxes in the corner that was a garden when we got here. We're leaving the yard in better condition in that case, so that makes us feel positive about the yard.

The chickens have their new portable coop (which I've been meaning to post about, but sigh...). They also have a cage. So, they'll be easy to cage up and move.

Needless to say, it will be a fun month....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A friend's earth-shattering loss.

I have a friend from high school. We stay in touch over the internet... not incredibly regularly, but regardless, I know what's happening in her life.

I was blown away by what changes were in store for her when she announced a while back that she was pregnant for the first time. She and her husband were expecting... TWINS! I remember thinking "Wow. Twin babies in a first pregnancy. WOW."

She happily posted photos as the weeks crept by. 15. 16weeks. 18. Then 19.

At 19 weeks, 4 days, she had a routine appointment. Everything ok! No red flags. All well and fine.

At 19 weeks, 5 days, at 3am, she awoke. Something wasn't right. They went to the hospital, only to find out nothing could be done. The girls were coming, nothing could stop the labor, and they were too young to survive.

So, on March 30, 2011, Lyla and Kate were born. She described them as perfect babies, just small. Both lived for a few hours, both were baptized in that time.

And so, then also on March 30, 2011, Lyla and Kate died.

I'm so saddened by this. I can only imagine how much hearing of pain like hers will be amplified when someday I am a parent. I can't imagine what they are going through. I can't imagine what it's like to have your world calmed by doctor's appointments where everything looks normal and perfect, only to have this shattering thing happen.

It makes me so sad. I wish I could be a better friend right now, but I know my friend has a lot of good people around her. She sounded strong in her letter to her friends. I hope she and her husband gradually heal and are able to start a family.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chaotic and loving it.

There's a lot of things happening in my end of the world. Some things I can talk about, some will have to wait just a bit longer before discussing. But all in all: Craziness!

Spring is slowly showing it exists, which is the equivalent of about 100 cans of Mountain Dew for Pacific Northwesters. Seriously. The sun shines one day and we're all out dancing around worshiping it, and then spiraling down into a sad state when the next day we're back to winter. For us, it means a DEEP DEEP cleaning of the backyard. All those plant tags, plastic bags, buckets, you name it. ALL cleaned up. It has meant a few extra buckets on trash day, but I'd rather pay a few bucks for an extra bucket than to keep the backyard in a state of disarray.

We also threw down a bunch of seeds in the yard. Remember how we moved all of our garden beds? Well, now we had to clean where those beds were. The seeds are now slowly coming in. We weren't worried--- the yard will fill itself up with green pretty rapidly; we just wanted to help it along a little bit.

All the excess lumber has been stacked; our neighbors wanted to use it, so we put it behind their garden area.

The deck has been cleared. We have everything carefully along the house wall still to semi-shelter it from the rain, but at least we have no more gigantic tarp over our back deck! Every time I'm in the kitchen, I think that the back door is open... because it's so bright now.

The chicken's new coop has been built! It's hard to describe, but I'm THRILLED with the design. I'm going to let them ride out the summer in this coop, and then I'll likely add more of a back sheltered area once the rains look to begin again. I'll have to post pictures... but every time I've meant to, it's been raining, which means they're covered up! Right now they have a tarp over them, but I do want to get them more of a plastic cover instead. Tarps don't necessarily keep water out very well. I do want to paint the coop come summer, but that's still a ways off. So, keep an eye out for a post sometime soon on the new chicken digs.

New chicken digs means all the old chicken locations have been cleaned up. Not much else news-wise there.

And may I just say, I'M REALLY TIRED OF MUD? Our landlords lack paths ANYWHERE around the house. We put in a brick front foyer area (with their approval and PARTIAL funding), so that cuts down a little bit. But, the driveway before the foyer? Muck-ridden. The back yard? Don't get me started. BLEH. The poor dogs have gotten used to going outside and then having to go into their kennel because they're mucky and we don't want them prancing around the house.

Speaking of dogs, Maddie and Bailey are still best buds. Bailey is almost 100% on the bathroom training, but has the occasional pee incident. Talk about frustrating. He is such a good dog though, and I really cannot complain. Such a total goof though. Maddie is a great big sister and has been having super fun staying out of the kennel at night now. She gets to sleep on the couch or her bed, and she thinks it's just the neatest thing to be permitted to stay out. Seriously-- when we sit down on the couch in the morning, she walks over to us and thunks her head on her lap. Gratitude-filled doggie.

More going on, but more on that later. Bailey discovered that his bed is cool this morning and now has taken to flopping into it with gusto. So, I think I may just try to document this. Oh, and get work done....