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?