Saturday, December 16, 2006


Wow, it's so cold here! Billy thinks Mt Scott is at a different elevation than the rest of the city since the weather seems to be different than other SE neighborhoods. (It's official- I just checked. We're 1 degree colder than Mt Tabor, and 14 degrees colder than downtown. Yikes!)

Today our computer room was 51 degrees, the roof is icy, and the windows are covered with condensation. Luckily our heater is pumping out nice hot air and the cats are mixing it through the house by running and jumping everywhere.

Mittens just discovered the water droplets on the window and is pawing and staring at them. Aren't cats cute?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

And so it starts....

The sleeping, that is!
Hooray for the reduced hours of winter, the chilly weather, and the hot meals that all make us want to cuddle up in bed and sleep more. I've been fighting off a cold for over a week now, trying to sleep it off, and Billy- well, he loves to sleep regardless of the season. Even Sylvia's getting in on the action.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gravity, why dost thou take my catnip from me?

Sylvia and Mittens love their new condo. It's perfectly placed in the middle of the action- right outside the kitchen door for observation of food preparation, and in the dining room with a clear shot into the living room.
Sylvia's curious as to how she's going to get her catnip body pillow off the floor and back in her paws.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Update on Sylvia

Our weatherproofing had its first major test last week as we had a night of high wind and rain.
We discovered that the ceiling in the dining room was cracked because there was a leak, not because the previous little boy hit it with his basketball. Silly us!

Billy got up on the roof and discovered that the siding was rotten, so he covered it with a temporary fix of plastic and goo. Hopefully it'll last us through winter and we can tear off and replace the siding come springtime.

The East window right above our bed is drafty enough to move the blinds, so last weekend I put up the plastic-wrap stuff. I can still see it moving when the wind blows, but at least it doesn't get in.

Sylvia is at the stage where she's getting bored in the house and gets into everything.
I can tell when she's about to do something because I'll catch her staring at it. Like last week when she thoughtfully gazed at the toilet paper roll. I left the bathroom and two minutes later found said roll strewn across the landing floor.
Later that day I found her actually dipping into the toilet. Such a curious beasty!
She's not allowed to sleep in our room at night because she insists on trying the door to the Secret Closet of Mystery even though it's ALWAYS closed. (She got inside a couple of times and frolicked throughout the insulation and rafting, and since then it's been a forbidden, exciting playground.)

Hopefully she's downstairs napping right now and not eating plants, playing with her food or knocking things over.

Monday, October 16, 2006

And the rain rain rain came down down down...

We disconnected our downspouts and haven't installed our new rain barrel yet (thanks, Dad!), so in the meantime Billy set up a sophisticated and intricate water diversion system. (See above)
The water runs down the downspout and into a metal trough, then through a dirt trough, finally ending on a bunch of rocks.
We watched it in action this weekend during a relaxing rainy day. We had planned to dig holes for the front yard fence but the posthole digger is MIA, so we were just as happy to take a quick peek into the backyard and then retire to our cozy house.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gutters Galore

Billy's biggest task this summer was to ready the gutters for the fall. Especially bad was the one on the back dormer, as it didn't reach to the end of the roof and the rain poured down willy-nilly.

Upon closer inspection, Billy discovered that the fascia holding the gutters was rotten, so not only did he need to fix/replace the gutter, he had to replace the fascia. He spent days gathering, cutting, and painting boards, and then affixing them to the edges of the roof. Hampering his progress was a small but active wasp nest, which had to be removed (with mint oil spray) before he could proceed. After attaching everything, he caulked the inside of the gutters, and voila! They're ready for rain.

Weatherize while the Sun Shines

Well, the windows that I worked so hard to strip this summer (for about 3 hours) are finally reinstalled for the rainy season. (Notice that I never got around to painting them.)

This weekend we're having a respite from the grey we had last week, so everyone and their dog was at Home Depot, buying up all the weather stripping. Luckily I found plenty at the second storeI visited, and I went to work, gingerly nailing the vinyl strips to the outside of the window. You have to look closely, but it's there. Take that, cold wind!

Sylvia Snapper helped, too.

It's Gorge-ous!

Billy's mom (Hi Linda!) visited a couple of weeks ago. We took her to the usual must-see places in Oregon- the coast, the gorge, our favorite breakfast spot, Billy's work. I love playing tour guide because it gives me an excuse to visit the places that I love in Oregon.

Here's a shot facing East up the Columbia River Gorge, taken from the Vista House. Built in 1918, it was recently reopened to the public and houses great old light fixtures and stained glass, a pictoral history (of what, I don't know- I skipped that part), a little convenience counter, and a huge old bathroom. There is also an information counter with very friendly ladies.
You can tell that it's late summer by the sandbars in the river. The river's much more full in the springtime.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Silver Falls

Recently, a friend and I drove to Silverton to see the falls. Silver Fall State Park has several falls, some of which were owned privately and donated to the park in recent years. The walk meandered from above where the falls start, behind the falls (see the people walking?) and down below to the pool.

There were miniature caves (5' x 3' and smaller) behind the falls, and large holes in the rock that were caused by the freeze/thaw cycle.

If you get a chance, take the drive and see the falls. They're amazing.

Monday, August 07, 2006

We're Back

Greetings, loyal (and patient!) readers! After a long and restful nap, we've decided to get up and do some work. Here is a photo of our side yard with its now-dormant lawn perennials that have already bloomed. We're planning on turning this part into raised beds to grow fruit and veggies. I found some very nice untreated wood recently when I was visiting a friend (it was piled neatly in the street with a sign that said free- untreated!) so we're hoping to have those beds made in the next few weeks so we can put in our fall crops. If you look very closely on the left hand side you can see our mini raised bed that contains our 5 blueberry bushes (thanks, Steve and Mitzi!) that didn't fare well in the hot weather. Billy brought them to the house so we could water them daily and tend to their poor little burned leaves. They're doing well now, and we hope to add to our collection of bushes and have an actual crop next year.
We're also planning on killing most of the lawn in the front yard and putting in more garden and a little fence to keep kids out and have safe, non-dog area for the kitties.
Billy has also been working on the fascia in the back, since it was rotten with the gutters falling off. He's ready to prime and paint them (he made the sawhorses last week) this week. We also got a front screen door from our favorite used building materials store, The Rebuilding Center. Unfortunately, we measured wrong and Billy will have to shave 1/4" off the side. But once we install it, we won't have to worry about stray cats coming in and spraying! Yay for pee-free furniture.

Monday, July 10, 2006


This weekend's heat gave everyone in our house an excuse to be lazy. Here you see the most graceful evidence (ahem) of relaxing. Sylvia peeked at me while I was taking this shot, but she went right back to doze after I left.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

So . . . Full . . .

I'm sure this is a picture of Jimpson in the Autumn, not this weekend after downing too many fourth of July weenies.
Thanks to Cute Overload for the pic.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Celebrate Freedom from Household Tasks!

Thanks to all the revelers who helped us warm our new house!
(And boy, was it warm!) We had a successful party with many people from our lives who came and ate, chatted in English and Spanish, tortured Sylvia (the under-10 set), and admired our house as we proudly conducted tours.
After cleaning up from the debauchery, we took a day off from housework (except for making cobbler from the leftover blueberries), but today we're back at it again. Billy went to our community garden and to his dismay, our blueberry bushes were on the verge of mortal dehydration. He dug them up and brought them home, and they're currently resting in our shady home nursery with moist rootballs.

We took a long trip to Home Depot today and purchased some items for summertime- another pair of roof jacks, some planks to make raised beds for the blueberries, paint stripper, etc.
Since the raised bed project had missing tools, I decided to get to work on the upstairs bedroom windows. Stripping, repainting, and weatherizing those old transom windows will take awhile but hopefully I'll be able to finish it before the chill sets in.
For the actual paint stripping I used heavy-duty rubber gloves, but while scrubbing with denatured alcohol and steel wool, I used normal household rubber gloves. Although the instructions didn't say I should even use gloves, the alcohol ate right through them by the time I was almost done. Luckily I only had a tiny burn where the stripping solvent had snuck onto my hand.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Little Red Car

Here's my subie, getting one of its twice-yearly baths. Sylvia is looking on in the bottom right-hand corner.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sylvia Snapper's New Pants

Here's Sylvia climbing through the garden, frolicking with the pinecones and helping us garden. Isn't she getting fluffy?

Imminent Art House

Great news! We're painting the upstairs hallway! What luscious color have we chosen, you ask? Is it a classy, muted tone as befits the privacy of our second story? Is it a relaxing color that will set the tone for our slumber?
Shriek this: No!
It goes more along the food color that we've established throughout the rest of the house, but this is no food color found in nature like guacamole and corn. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is the best way I can think to describe it. The instant after you pour in the powdered sauce, as it greets the milk and melted butter and begins to blend, THAT is the color of our upstairs hallway.
Please refrain from licking the wall.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

So Hot!

Tonight it's 10:06 pm and still 86 degrees on our second level. Today was a scorcher at 102, and the house is just starting to cool off. We've been taking advantage of the basement and its cool 70 degrees. Billy worked on a painting and I watched dvds with Sylvia.
Friday we spent a little time in the garden with the cats. Mittens helped Billy plant the hostas, then she rolled around on the sidewalk while Sylvia hung around.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Practically Vacation

This week has felt like a vacation now that choir is over. We had two shows within six weeks, and I was just starting to get used to not having weekends at those intervals.
This past show was cake compared to our last show at the Grotto. For both we had two rehearsals during the week (7-10pm) and shows on both Saturday and Sunday.
This weekend we had super-easy music that was mostly jazz standards and medlies of Ellington and Gershwin tunes. (Mmm, medlies.) We got to use music stands, sing without a conductor, and talk to each other onstage. Eduardo and I were front and center so we were instructed to smile and interact with the audience. For me, that meant pasting on a big grin, making eyes with various audience members, and swaying to the beat (although I get easily distracted by the music so am apt to forget to sway, snap, or dance at any given moment.). Afterwards, a board member commented that I looked like I was having a great time up there. I gave her a combination of show-biz truth and personal cynicism: "Really? That's a relief, because they told me I needed to smile more."
Despite having all this extra time this week, I haven't really done any projects. Shame on me! I did vacuum and scrub the downstairs bathroom floor and walls yesterday, but that's not exciting news.
Sylvia has stepped up her campaign to Get Outside, and despite my feet blocking her way has run out several times at inopportune moments, including yesterday when she ran out and disappeared under the car which was parked in the street.
Billy's toe is healing. The scab fell off last week and I apologize for not getting a picture of it. Yes, it would have been gross, but who doesn't like gross?
A friend's cousin grew a massive scab one summer when he was staying with her family (we were in high school) and her mom saved it, gilded it, and sent it to him in a jar, suspended in liquid. Not surprisingly, she didn't get thanked. I guess not everyone appreciates gross after all.
Today Billy has a job interview for summer term. Hopefully he'll have an income!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Hooray for Birthdays!

Hooray for art, as well. Tonight Billy and I picked up my new art print by Brenda Dunn, discovered at the Rose Martini Party (Thanks, Steve and Pam!) and purchased from Muse Art + Design on 42nd and Hawthorne. She does simple rendering of women, colors them, and makes prints onto woodblocks. They're quite adorable and amazingly affordable, and I'm looking forward to buying more. Brenda also has a new store on 42nd and Hawthorne called Garment, which features all locally-designed women's clothing and accessories. Reach her at, and come to our house to see them in person!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Last Show of the Season

Loyal readers, please forgive me for the short notice I'm about to give you. Although somewhat blurry, the flier on the right advertises David York Ensemble's last show of the season, which is this very weekend!
We will have a silent auction with lots of neat stuff, many solos by the more gregarious members of the choir (not including yours truly), and ensemble pieces featuring the music of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, and George Gershwin. There will also be a champagne toast on both Saturday and Sunday.
This is going to be a fun, relaxed show which'll be more fun for those who don't dig the classical music scene.
Plus my birthday is on Sunday! What a great present it would be to see your happy, smiling, champagne-filled selves in the audience. It's at the Old Church in downtown Portland at 8 on Saturday, 5 on Sunday.
See you then!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Relax, my foot!

Apparently day of rest now means that we only work for 3-4 hours instead of all day.
This morning at breakfast, Billy suggested that instead of stressing over all the work we had to do on the house, we take it easy and relax for a day.

"I just want to finish the roof," he said.

We worked up there for about 30 minutes until the rain drove us inside. It's sunny now, and he's been up on the roof for a couple of hours and shows no sign of stopping.
Spackling and sanding the living room landing occupied me for about half an hour, and assembling my beef pot pie kept me busy before that. When are we going to relax, again?

And the roof is done! That smile celebrates the completion of a B+ roof. (Self-graded by the teacher.)

New Band Alert

Here is the previously-mentioned planting of the baby lavender and Russian sage. As you can see, Mittens and I oversaw the project while Billy did all the work. They're small now but soon they'll grow into big bushes, perfuming us whenever we brush their purple flowers.

Last night's social event (the Rose Martini Party) featured the unusual three piece band Sneakin' Out. A bass player, mandolinist, and percussionist played covers of Beatles and Pink Floyd songs, as well as their own creations. Most anticipated for me was the playing of the typewriter (right), which indeed made clackety-clack sounds and provided an interesting percussive change from the usual drum set. Marimba, bells (glochenspiel), talking drum, chimes, and ukelele, as well as spot-on playing made this band one of my new favs. The red crinoline and mohawk sported by the percussionist was also quite dandy. Check them out!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Garden Kitty

Sylvia's been so crazy to go outside lately that I finally took her out today. Skulking through the garden was her first item of business. She started near the front porch and made her way around the back of the yard, running up the pine tree a few times and finally ending up under the car, which was parked in the street. I redirected her to the lawn, and she settled on the driveway. Mittens watched Sylvia's travels and seemed to take it as a personal affront that she not only has to share the house with Sylvia, but the outdoors as well. Woe is her!

Sounds of Silence

Several wasted gallons a day were too much, we decided, so I took the downstairs bathtub faucet apart today and toted it across the street to A-Boy. After a trip back home to dig more parts out of the faucet, I got the correct parts and Billy put everything back together. (For some reason I just couldn't figure out how to put it back.) And voici! No more wasted water, and no more constant dripping.
Our only project for tonight is to be social. Off we go!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Jimpson the Photographer

See some talented, photographing squirrels here!

Weekend Goings-on

Our days were filled with house-talk this past weekend. Bill and Ann, Billy's dad and stepmother, came to visit and brought photographs, stories, and advice learned from their experiences remodeling their 1899 Victorian in Vallejo, Ca. They work every day after work and all day Sunday on projects. Recently in their kitchen, they've torn the floor to the joists and will install new floor, removed and painted the cabinets, rewired, installed a new outtake duct for their refurbished 1929 dual fuel range (electric and WOOD), etc, etc, etc.
Ann taught us about the craftsman style and gave us advice on how to stick with the style with decorating or remodels. They know how to do everything we asked them about, and in consequence, I'm inspired! I'm ready to buy a new house and have Billy work on it this summer and then sell it for a profit.
For some reason, Billy's not as excited as I am about that prospect.
Our middle ground seems for both of us to continue working on our current house as time allows.
Our next priority is fixing the dripping bathtub faucet, which wastes a few gallons a day. (Luckily we balance that by rarely flushing the toilet and saving some of the clean water for the garden.)
I'd also like to replace the downstairs sink (see previous post- it's the stopped-up sink with vanity) with a more modern (or vintage) style. We saw many choices at the Rebuilding Center on North Mississippi. There were very old sinks with rust overtaking the enamel, pink and green art-deco sinks, lots of round sinks from the 80s, even a cute mini sink from a school.
One in particular caught my eye. Big and square with a deep bowl and separate faucets for hot and cold (annoying, but almost impossible to get away from in this era), this lovely old matron fits in a corner and attaches to the wall. Billy approves of any sink choice and has even offered to build supports within the wall for mounting. What a guy! Hopefully we can figure out how to build supports that don't get in the way of a recessed medicine cabinet, which I'd also like to install. We'll probably go with plain white wood with straight lines, as befits the craftsman style, but the mirror-fronted aluminum ones from the 60s are pretty tempting, especially at $5 a pop!
We're also thinking about how we can finish the basement. Ceilings need to be installed over the rafters and wires, walls need to be raised and redone, and if we want it to count as a bedroom we'll have to excavate around the windows and install egress windows (20"x24" minimum, with a minimum of 44" sill height and at least 5.7 square feet of space to crawl through.) .
Billy and Bill also brought some transplants from our community garden and planted them in the front yard. They planted lavender and Russian sage (right) to make a border along the driveway. They also reported that the golden raspberries, strawberries, and garlic are growing like crazy. Maybe we'll have some crops this summer!

Roofing Crew for Hire

Portland's rainy streak cleared up just in time for us to get on the roof and work on our next house project. Bill and Ann, Billy's dad and stepmother, flew up from California for the long weekend to help. They're currently remodeling an 1899 Victorian by themselves and know all about old houses. Here you see Bill and Billy, faces smeared with sunscreen, hammering sheets of roofing material.
Monday was the first day that it was dry enough to work, so after breakfast with local family member Fedalma, she, Ann and I went shopping and the guys raced home to the roof. Sylvia was banished to the basement to keep her curious paws out of the tar, but as they were setting up, Billy found her making yet another mess. There she was, just out of reach of the half gallon of yellow paint that she'd spilled all over the landing, curiosity quelled not a bit.
I wasn't there, but apparently Billy spent 30 minutes cleaning up her mess while he gave her a piece of his mind. I'm sure Sylvia was unfazed.
When Ann and I arrived home from shopping at 3:15, an emergency Home Depot run was in order for me, and Ann changed into her work clothes and started tarring. She tarred nearly the whole dormer and got a nice blister on her hand as a result. Chris and I scurried to keep up with our hammers, nailing down the paper edges of the roofing material. We raced against the clock but it still wasn't done when Bill and Ann had to leave at 5:45. Tuesday I caulked around the edges of the front part of the dormer and Billy put on the rest of the shingle material. But it's still not done!
Stay tuned.
Big thanks to Bill and Ann for helping!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Fixin' to Fix

Date night was particularly repair-oriented tonight. After a hearty meal at Red Robin (Billy's newest fav), we went across the street to Home Depot. High on our list was fixing the downstairs bathroom sink, which worked when we moved in but gradually stopped draining. While Billy took care of the recycling (including the evil broken glass from last weekend), I took apart the bathroom sink pipe and snaked it. Most interesting in there was a rotten water balloon. It was blue. It was one of the most pleasant pipes I've ever cleaned, actually. Very little smell, hardly any mess, and no mopping up afterwards! Drains at Coffee People had up to 1/2 inch of dairy plaque built up inside them from hundreds, if not thousands, of milkshakes being dumped down them. And the stink! Very smelly.
Also done tonight was replacing a showerhead, replacing an aerator on a faucet, and replacing the bathtub faucet/diverter. The bathtub faucet still leaks, so we'll have to fix that, too. Now it's time for foot elevation and movie watching.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ma Vie en Kitten

Ah, the life of a kitten! Spending your days playing with anything you can find (socks, other cats' kibbles, catnip mice, the feet of sleeping humans), covering your waste in the litterbox with newfound vigor after every transaction, harassing other household cats to the point of inducing PTSD. Tonight I put the new sheets on the new bed. Mittens still loves the blanket game, so she rushed right in and rolled around on her back, growling with playfulness (that's her new thing, I guess). Sylvia came in also, as she's wont to do. A few moments of interaction ensued, then Mittens reached the point of being done. Fair enough. Everyone's got boundaries, right? Unfortunately, Sylvia has yet to learn this fact of life, so everytime Mittens turns around, there's Sylvia! Let's play! Time for me to pounce on you! Let's play more! More pouncing! Now watch me while I play with your toys, eat your dinner, and hog the attention of the parents who formerly loved only YOU.

Tonight, Sylvia's having some alone time in the basement, while Mittens enjoys some adult time around the house.

Your Room is Ready

The dark butter walls look more blush in this
photograph, but they're quite yellow in person. Luckily the top part of the windows didn't get in this picture, because I, um, never got around to painting them. I put the bed together by myself and moved the nightstands in alone, and my arms were SO sore yesterday!
This room needed the most spackle as its previous owner was a 7-year-old boy. There's still red pen on the hardwood floor, and it looks like someone hung his weight on the doorknob as it's bent and stripped. Hopefully everyone who stays in here knows how to deal with a stripped doorknob, or they're not getting out. (Except through the bathroom door, which they'll notice right away. So much for my home-made dungeon!)
We'll have to rearrange the furniture when we have more time (and a more mended bone). It's such a little room with so much furniture that it's hard to squeeze it all in. It's a relief to have the mattress and boxspring on the bed and not waiting on their sides in the bathroom. Sylvia probably misses her new climbing toy, though- she was on that thing every time I went into the bathroom!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Butter Yellow Kittenprints

Billy's been so good today- elevating his foot, keeping hydrated (with soda), taking his meds to stave off infection, and spending lots of time at the computer. We have another injury to report, although it was only a flesh wound. This one truly was my fault. Well, kind of. Our downstairs bedroom needed paint this week since we're having out of town guests next week (Hi, Bill and Ann!) so I did the trim last night, trimmed again this morning, taped and then did a coat on the walls. Then I wrapped my brushes and roller, stuck them in the fridge, and put my paint tray on the kitchen floor. Do you see where this is going, gentle reader?
Sylvia did, indeed, step in the paint tray, as evidenced by the tiny yellow catprints on the kitchen floor. In the process of cleaning her, Billy sustained a scratch to the cheek, which had dripped two inches down his face by the time I walked in. Luckily, no emergency room visit was necessary, although since we probably met our deductible yesterday it would have been nearly free today!
I did finish (mostly) the downstairs bedroom, which is now a bright shade of yellow. I also put together the bed and moved in the nightstands so the room is almost ready for guests. Too bad the mattress is as old as hades...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Accident on Raymond Street

Well, it happened, and this time it DID cut to the bone. Gentle readers, if you're inclined towards queasiness or if CSI makes you run away, please stop reading. Everyone else, you should see Billy's toe! A communication breakdown, as well as not following safety precautions, led to its near demise,
My mom and I had packed several bureau drawers in the back of my wagon, and I leaned the 1/4" thick beveled glass top for the bureau up against them. Upon coming home, I neglected to tell Billy immediately that it was there, so when he went to help empty the car, out that 2'x3' plate of glass came. Landing on his bare big toe, it broke off the tip of the bone, and the rest of the razor-sharp glass nearly sliced the end of the toe off. Upon first glance, it was bloody, but when I looked closer, I was horrified to see that the cut was very deep. The toe was quickly wrapped in TP, Billy gobbled 800 mg of ibuprofen, and I checked the LifeWise website for our closest preferred hospital. Just as we were heading out, my dad pulled up with the bureau.
"We're going to the emergency room. I hurt my toe!" Billy shouted out the window before I sped off.
Luckily Billy was the most injured party at the hospital, so he was seen quickly. After two injections to numb the toe, he was x-rayed and then the NP cleaned and probed it. She found the bone but no glass as I took some photos for posterity.
Then she got out this nifty mini-cauterizing tool and burned two holes in Billy's nailbed. Luckily we'd found a hockey game on the telly for distraction but Billy couldn't help watching the procedure. We both watched as she put four neat stitches through his nailbed and the flesh of his toe, then tied the knots with a little tool. A technician came in to bandage it, and we discovered that he's planning on taking a Spanish class at Mt Hood Community College, where Billy teaches. They chatted while the man (who's also named Billy!) wrapped the left grand toe in several layers of gauze and then brought a broken-foot sandal.
Billy's ability to make friends despite challenging situations amazes me.
He elevated it last night, but we couldn't get the ice to balance on the foot or cool through the gauze. They say it's 6 weeks to heal a bone, but the stitches should be ready to come out in just 10-12 days. Now we've got to not step on that toe (that would be MY job) and he has to take his antibiotics regularly. If we're lucky, it'll heal cleanly and he WON'T get arthritis in the future.
Email me if you want photos, or if you don't have my email, leave a comment and I'll send you one.

View From Above

A clever friend with photoshop beautifully combined the three photos from the last entry into this panoramic shot. Thanks, Chris!

Friday, May 19, 2006


My panoramic view from work isn't working out the way I'd planned. Please use your imaginations or poke yourself in the eyes, gentle reader, to try for the effect I was going for. The day has since gotten cloudy and overcast, but on sunny days my coworkers and I can gaze out onto the west hills of Portland whenever we have a free moment. If you look in the furthest right photo, the two biggest buildings (tan and white with green trim) are Portland State buildings. Billy's in the midst of the trees on the mountain today, landscaping for our clients in the park-like setting of Forest Park. Isn't Portland nice and green?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fight at the Wheatgrass Corral

Mittens and Sylvia are almost to the point of playing together civilly; right now their positive interactions mostly consist of claws-in hitting. Mittens will be lying around, minding her own business, and Sylvia will sneak up. Growling and smacking will ensue and Sylvia will skip away, only to return in a few moments for more teasing.
Sylvia's usually clandestine attack was thwarted this morning, as Mittens put her back against the wall, the better to defend herself. (Smart girl!) Look to Sylvia's back left leg for evidence of her sneakiness. Creeeeeping up. . . Maybe she won't see me. . .
Too close, and she gets a SMACK.
Sylvia will have to wait for her vegetables today.

More Flowers!

Billy has been hard at work in the front yard, digging up grass to make more garden, planting purple coneflowers, ferns and hostas, and tending to everything daily with vigor. (It makes such a difference when you're working in your own garden, doesn't it?) You may remember that there was a formidable row of boxwood living in this space before we bought the house. Last night Billy planted dahlias (thanks, Mom!) so we'll have some cutting flowers this summer. Last summer we took some Russian Sage clippings on a walk around our old neighborhood. What I meant to say is that we cut some Russian Sage clippings during a walk around our neighborhood. Ha. Since they're very easy to propagate, we have several young plants growing in our community garden that we're going to put in the new garden space above. We'll also plant a little rosemary plant (also propagated), and perhaps find homes for some of the plants that we brought from our old apartment. (Deciduous clematis, a pink, jonquils, a norfolk pine, etc.) We've enjoyed the white lilacs and bearded purple and yellow iris in the back yard, bringing the blooms inside to decorate our kitchen windowsill. More flowers, I say!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Yesterday was a special day for Billy's and my beloved mother and mother-in-law Linda Meikle. Her book of memoirs, Dusty Angels and Old Diaries, just finished its final editing and is off to press! Read the press release and snippets on her blog of the same name, Congratulations, Mama Linda!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

94 Degrees in May?!

Yesterday was the first hot day of the year. It was a balmy 65 at 7:30 when we left for work, and by noon it had climbed to 80. If we were still living on Tibbetts, we would at least have a pool to look at (which helps, believe it or not!) but they don't open it until Memorial Day. As it is, I'm QUITE pleased that we held out for a house with a basement. Ahh! It's only a 3/4 basement, but someone dug it out and finished the walls and installed pergo throughout most of it. The last owners must have gotten a deal on kitchen cabinets because there's a flock of them installed on the ledge. Behind the pantry there's quite a sizable ledge, which our extra queen futon fits perfectly on. Voila, an air-conditioned bedroom! (Just watch your head- that cold-air return duct sits awfully low.)
Luckily the evening cooled down enough to not have to sleep down there, but during the dog days we'll be down there with Mittens enjoying our free, natural air conditioning.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Doctor's Orders

Last week the monotony of my workweek was interrupted by a relaxing business trip to Seattle. Lest you become envious of the favors afforded me, I'll explain that this is an annual trip for all sales and marketing associates from Oregon, Alaska, Washington, and Arizona. We bus up in the morning and spend the afternoon watching a performance of skits with awards to celebrate the work of the past year. Then we all get free drinks, dinner, and a hotel room to rest our drunken, er, weary heads. We ride the bus straight back to work the next morning at 8 and spend the rest of the day in the office.
I lucked out and got a room on the 17th floor with a really pretty view of the sound (much nicer than the picture expresses).
During our free evening we went to Sephora, ate at Elephant and Castle, and enjoyed some free hours in the city. We also discovered a very tasty drink: the Washington Apple.
Combine equal parts Crown Royal (or other Canadian Whiskey), Apple Pucker, and cranberry juice for a refreshing apple flavored beverage. You'll swear it's nutritious!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Yay, it's Saturday!

Another long day of moving boxes and organizing stuff is almost over. Today we worked in the front yard, filled two bookcases, mediated between the cats, watched two episodes of south park, and planted a couple of baby hostas (Billy's favorite).

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Do the Farm Hustle

Ok, I'm not usually a fan of online games, but this combination of cute animals and simple, tetris-like tasks has me addicted! Thanks, Stephanie!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Perpendicular: Bad Feng Shui

Our house wasn't infused with light this morning, so today's photos aren't as bright as I'd like. The composition isn't very good, either. Crap!
Last night before rehearsal, Billy and I moved some furniture. I was so eager to set up the stereo system (in the brown cabinet) that I hooked up all the wires through the front of the shelves rather than the back. Whoops. We put the red couch perpendicular to the gold couch, but it closed off the living room and affected the flow of traffic. For now it's waiting in the dining room until we find a suitable place for it. We also put the kitchen table in the dining room since it won't fit in the breakfast nook. (Which is a converted service porch, we think.)
We fried some hot wings the other night so I opened the only window in the kitchen that opens, which doesn't have a screen. Somehow a male cat climbed the gate, jumped in the window, and proceeded to spray the floor in the basement. Poor Mittens- kitten upstairs, stinky spray downstairs- what's a girl to do? Hopefully he didn't get the furniture on the main floor, too. That stuff is SO yucky.
Sorry that we don't have more news on fixing up the house- things are moving very slowly this week due to performances, allergies, and landscaping. Any tips on arranging furniture?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Ultimate in Surround Sound

By now most of our loyal readers have weekend plans. Whether it be organizing the house and playing referree (Billy), camping in the Florida swamps (Kiren), studying for finals (Tabitha), or working all night as the only nurse on the hall (Mama Linda), most people like to plan ahead so they have something fun (sometimes!) to look forward.
For those procrastinating Portlanders who need some aural beauty in their lives, please consider coming to hear my choir this weekend.
(I'm third from the left in the front row)

The David York Ensemble will be performing at the Grotto on NE 82nd and Sandy in Portland, Oregon. (Click on concerts at my choir homepage and scroll down to "The Silence of a Candle.")
After performing hundreds of times in many different venues, I still find singing at the Grotto an awesome and satisfying experience.
We will be singing Messiaen's O sacrum convivium, Pablo Casals's O Vos Omnes, Bruckner's Os Justi and Palestrina's Missa Brevis. Also on the playlist are pieces by four Northwest composers, including three world premieres: The Silence of a Candle by David York, Here, I Carry You by Malcolm Dalglish, and Alleluia for Peace by Robert Kyr.
For three pieces, I will sing in the balcony with a small subchoir while the rest of the choir sings from the main floor. This really lets the voices soar and intertwine and provides the ultimate in natural surround sound.
If you're interested in purchasing tickets or cds, please call 503-721-0262.
Of course, if you want a private concert, please let me know and I'll sing for you wherever we are. I specialize in made-up songs about my current activities and songs about your cat.

Q. Can a Cat Growl While Eating?

A. Of course a cat can growl while eating!
Just like a dog can bark with his mouth full (one of my personal favs), Mittens demonstrated last night that she is a talented multitasker.
I arrived home from work and acted like nothing was amiss. What kitten in the upstairs bedroom?
Mittens, however, would have none of it. Tail down, growling when I petted her, swishy tail, and outright slaps if I persisted in trying to lavish attention on her.
She would NOT have reassurances. She would NOT have pets.
She WOULD have fish flakes, thank you, but she expressed her displeasure during the snack so I wouldn't forget she was mad:
Num num GRRRR num num GRRRR num num num GRRRRRR.

Billy, dedicated father that he is, spent half the night on the couch sleeping with Mittens. The kitten was needy during the second half of the night, pawing, kneeding, and purring. She must be lonely now that her kitten friends are gone and she has no one to talk to during the day. Soon enough she and Mittens will be BEST friends and they'll frolic and play all day long.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Heart Britney Spears

It's true! She's in my bed as I type this, and boy is she cute!!
Intense yellow eyes, long curly tail, an exposed navel and amazing paw-eye coordination that will bring rave reviews from friends and family (but not Mittens).
I had fun with her shelter-ordained name when we went to meet her this morning.
"Can I help you?" the receptionist asked.
"Yes, we have a date with Britney Spears," I said perkily.
She thought I was joking, but haha, I wasn't!
Bad name aside, Britney is recovering from getting spayed yesterday but was still very active when we met her this morning. Billy took her home during his lunch break and quarantined her with food, water and litter box.
Princess Mittens wasn't very happy with the new situation. Poor Mittens. Jealousy's a bitch. We got her a catnip body hug pillow today and we're both going to spend lots of time with her so she has reassurances that we still love her. Hopefully she'll be upstairs when I come home. Billy said she was sulking in the basement and wouldn't play with him when he brought Britney home. Poor little McMao!

Layout Shmayout

Three rooms are currently halfway furnished and the painting's almost completely done! Here you see the first furniture layout in the living room. Obviously that purple chair won't work there, and we have the red davenport to put somewhere, too. Yikes! This is one of my worst skills- interior design and organization. The previous people had a couch in the same place, plus one perpendicular to the closest end of this one. They had no chairs and a round coffee table. I know a lot of you have opinions and talent on this type of thing- what should we do?