Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Poor, poor Alex.

It was his big day- he finally got his license!

He hopped in his parents' white subaru forrester for a quick spin to Walgreens.

Coming out of the parking lot, he saw a red subaru coming towards him, turn signal on, and he assumed that car would be pulling into the parking lot beside him.

(Oh, gentle Alex. Never assume while driving! Other drivers are much more impatient and believe me, you can't read their minds.)

Putting on the gas, Alex rolled forward as Katy swore, honked, and hit.

I'm fine, people. I was only going 20 or so, and it's nothing that a little trip to the chiropractor and/or massage therapist and some yoga can't fix.
The suby, on the other hand, is in sad shape. "Total financial loss," they told me regretfully at the repair shop.

The car wouldn't drive away from the scene (which happened near 82nd and Holgate) and was blocking a lane and a half of traffic. Officer Baxter to the rescue! She blocked my car from oncoming traffic and even filled out our accident report.

So I may be in the market for a new used car soon. Any opinions?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Last winter was a cold one in Portland, at least at the Raymond Street house.

Our cats had adjusted to life on the inside, chasing and being chased, eating endless meals of kibble and napping in bed (and sometimes spilling kibble chunder on the snowy white down comforter- damn you, Sylvia!).

Throughout the month of January, we hadn't noticed our neighbor at home much, but that was nothing new. I often noticed that his lights went on and off but I never saw anyone through the windows. (And believe me, I looked.)

It wasn't until his cat, a mangled looking beast that a previous tenant had abandoned, came to visit us that we realized Mike was out of town.

This scruffy-furred, string-tailed, shoulda-been-a-waif cat made his way onto the fence, then the garage, and finally the roof of the house to stand and stare hungrily in the window at us as we sat at our computers, no doubt eating something delicious just so fate could rub it in.

Of course I ran outside with a plateful of kibble for him. He wouldn't come near me but after I put the food down and retreated, he approached the food and began eating. He really horked it down- head bobbing, barely chewing as he raced to get the food into his belly. I went into the house to watch him eat. After a couple of minutes he started doing a particular step and shuffle, which I realized he did to alleviate paw pain as he stood on the gravel driveway. Oh, poor hungry horky!

We fed him until Mike came home from his trip to South America, and even after that sometimes since Mike came home debilitated from back surgery and couldn't always feed him.

Winter turned into spring, and regular feedings turned into love (or at least a sort of practical affection).

Horky gradually moved onto our front porch and even began to defend it, on occasion, against Sylvia. He would sometimes venture into the house, tentative, curious, almost apologetic, until I would chase him back to his porch.

The past few weeks I've been running around, busy busy busy as I'm often wont to do. Whenever I passed him, he would raise his little head for a pet, but more often than not I would only give him a passing ruffle, a plateful of kibble and then be gone.

On weekends when I would sit on the porch and horky would be there, he would sometimes come up onto the chair for petting, headbutting me gently and twirling in circles for maximum hand exposure.

Billy kept him fed and watered but also kept his distance.

Unfortunately, sometimes bad things happen to good people.

There was an incident last week, a murder, really.
These fierce dogs were up-in-arms, full of fire and giddy with pack mentality (of two).

Neither Billy nor I witnessed the event (we're afraid Mittens did) but when Billy arrived home, he found Horky lying in the front yard, punctured by many sharp canines and mortally wounded. Actually, gentle reader, Horky was dead. Another neighbor indignantly shared that he noticed two pitbulls fleeing the scene.

It might have been that since Horky lived with a pitbull he had less fear of them, or that they snuck up on him, or that he couldn't run fast enough to escape.
Whatever the reason, Horky met an untimely end and our porch is a little more lonely without him.

RIP, Horky.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Siding Excitement

Late summertime is Billy's vacation from work, generally- no more classes, no papers to grade, no students begging for anything, and lots of time to sleep in, play ball with the cats, and work on the house.
This year, thanks to his first online class, there was no vacation.
In between editing the final draft of the vacation-stealing class, he's been working on scraping the paint from the house, tearing off old siding, insulating and prepping new siding.

Ceilings in old houses are prone to cracking (so I hear), but our dining room ceiling cracked when the rotten siding on the eastside of the house eventually let in too much rain.

Covering it proved effective as a temporary fix to get us through the winter, but now Billy has torn the siding off and is almost ready to affix the new siding. (He's getting to be an expert at this job, since he redid some fascia last summer before installing the new gutters.)

Hopefully we won't spring a leak somewhere else, but who knows- that's what makes old houses so lovable, right?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A New Type of Photo Synthesis

Here's an interesting new kind of photo software (presented by a guy with an ice cream cone on his shirt) that can link all public photos across the globe and allows for high-speed and high-res browsing. Thanks to my friend Sara Miller for the link.
If that doesn't work, please copy and paste this url:

Monday, July 09, 2007

Summer is supposed to hit hard this week, with 100+ heat on Wednesday and Thursday. Thank goodness we have a cool basement and an air conditioner!

Another way to stay cool is to have a better conditioned body. (That, and a lot of iced drinks!) Unfortunately, this takes a lot more work than simply installing a cooling machine, but three weeks ago I decided to take the plunge.

With Billy's full support, I purchased a package of personal training sessions at my gym. They talked me into buying the gadget below, a BodyBugg, which measures how many calories you burn while wearing it. It also works as a pedometer and graphs your activity level per minute when you upload it onto their website.

The Apex website (maker of the bodybugg) asked my food preferences and gave me a diet plan with something different for every day of the week.

I keep track of what I eat for each meal, the website compares it to the amount of calories I've burned each day, and I end up with a pretty accurate reading of my daily calorie deficit. So far I've lost 7 pounds.

Billy and I have also started eating more healthy at home, too. I (under)cooked some beans last weekend for hummus and three-bean salad, we make our own 100% whole wheat bread every week, and we've been eating more meat substitutes and hardly any red meat. My online diet suggested that I eat veggie-hot dogs, so I went to the local Fred Meyer to look. The linkettes and the fri-chiks were over $5, which Billy said was waaaay too much, so we've been eating from the Freddy's nutrition section instead.

When I was a wheat-free vegan in the late 90s, I mostly shopped at the local SDA grocery store and bakery, The Daily Grind, located on Hawthorne and 40th. I'm sure they have the canned fake meats, and I always love an excuse to visit their bakery! They have amazing vegan cookies.

This weekend I discovered that bouncing on my exercise ball while watching a movie burns 315 calories an hour. So I was able to make up for my fried clam dinner on Saturday by sitting around watching tv and bouncing. Tee hee!

My trainer loves the ball- my whole upper-body workout is based on the ball, using 10 pound dumbells for various activities. I also do 45 crunches and extensions per day on the ball for core warmup. I never thought I'd be able to do that many situps (or any, for that matter) because my old chiropractor babied my back so much, but amazingly, I've noticed less and less back pain since I've started. What a nice side effect. Here is a list of several ball exercises if you're interested.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cold Air: Mounted and Ready

This week marks the first week of summer that we haven't had rain, and temperatures are supposed to soar into the 90s. Billy can tell you about the moving fronts and all that weather jargon, but I'm just happy to be prepared with the air conditioner installed! Here are Billy (and Sylvia, high above) working on installing it in the spare room to insure adequate sleeping on work nights.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Fantastic Music Machine

Here's a link to a pretty neat animated film of a music-making machine. Check it out!

Here's a link to the Snopes page telling about it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Pink Martini and David York Ensemble

Short notice, I know, but David York Ensemble, my choir, is performing at Pink Martini's cd release party this week.
We're on during the first half in three of their songs, then we're singing an Eric Whitacre piece called Water Night. See Ticketmaster for tickets or if you don't come, just think of me when you're listening to their newest cd, Hey Eugene.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Indian Heaven

I came across this photograph recently from a stunted backpacking trip in 2005.
Billy and I had planned an overnight trip to Indian Heaven in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest on a warm Friday in August.

Our 3 mile hike to the Indian Racetrack led us through a light forest of second-growth timber, past a tree-lined lake or two, and finally to this large meadow where several different tribes of Native Americans historically gathered to pick and dry huckleberries, fish, race their horses, and socialize. The lake was almost completely dry, and while we saw a few birds we couldn't pick out the racetrack in the grasses that surrounded the bed.

After we arrived, Billy searched for fresh water while I rested on the edge of the trees. He returned after about an hour with no news, so we relaxed for bit and decided that we didn't have enough water to camp. On the drive home I snapped this shot out the car window.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dog Mountain made my Dogs Bark

Friday, Billy's last day of spring break (during which he graded final exams, developed syllabi for new classes, did chores around the house, and amused me), we decided to take a day and drive up the gorge. I've always been interested in hiking Dog Mountain, so we made that our plan. After getting a rather late start, we traveled through the sunny midmorning to the bridge of the gods, through Stevenson, Washington, and past sloughs and birds to the trailhead.
Dog Mountain, as you can learn from the link, is a 28oo foot mountain that gains 1000 feet in every half mile during the first part of the hike. Billy needed some personal time for reflection partway up, so he sat with his back to a tree and thought about life and work and why he was in a bad mood. Here is a photograph of him checking his messages, which was someone from PSU offering him two new classes. I made it to half a mile from the very top, which was about 3.3 miles each way. The view at the top was pretty great, and amazing because we'd started down at the bottom near the Columbia River.
Unfortunately, Billy had to put up with my groaning and whining all weekend anytime I walked up or down the stairs. He, of course, was fine. (All that mountain climbing in his past, no doubt.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Holesome Pastime

Spring has sprung but it's still grey and dreary outside, with just a few warm days here and there. Billy and I have been hopping around the garden, cleaning up from winter and getting things ready for spring. Last Sunday at 3 we started our most ambitious project in awhile: installing fenceposts in the front yard.

I dug a swath of grass while Billy gathered the tools, then we took turns digging the postholes and helped each other center the posts within said holes. Then Billy mixed and poured the cement while I made dinner. Now we have three little posts that are ready to be joined by a few more to make some kind of kid- and methhead-repelling barrier that our cats can still run through if a big hairy dog comes by.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Get Well, Sarah!

Most of you know I'm not the praying type, but if ever there was a moment for sending good energy. . . My friend Sarah was recently diagnosed with cancer. A couple of years ago she broke her leg here at work, which somehow jump-started tumors around her knee. After a knee replacement surgery and months on crutches, yesterday she had an operation to take off her leg to try to save her life. She's also undergoing chemo and radiation for her lymphatic system and lungs. If you have a moment, can you please send some healing energy, or prayers, or whatever you do, to my friend Sarah? She definitely needs it.

See her blog at

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Toy Piano Band

Recently I found a band that caters to everything I love- silliness, childhood cartoons, animal sounds, and the plinky sounds reminiscent of a beloved childhood toy piano. Ladies and gentlemen, it's Twink!
Click on MUSIC for a listen. (The first song, Pussycat, sounds like Mittens when she's mad.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

For Your Reading Enjoyment

I've found a funny website! Cut, paste, and enjoy.

Too Big!

Billy made me an enormous sandwich the other day for lunch. Here I am attempting to take a bite.
I got a bit of pickle and bread that time.

Snapper's Bath

Here's a bad picture documenting Sylvia's second bath following an oily mess she found while playing outdoors. Her claws made it to my chest only twice as I scrubbed her with Dawn detergent in the kitchen sink. Poor wet furry beast!

Monday, January 29, 2007

It's snowing! It's snowing!

Right around Billy's birthday, Portland had its yearly requisite Snow. Since there was no buzz beforehand, I figured it would melt within hours, so I left for work early and made my way through the gentle flurries.

Here's my view as I was stopped on the Hawthorne bridge, heading into downtown. Look at the snow already piled on my car!

Go, little subaru, go!

Unfortunately, my work closed after a few hours and I drove home mostly in first gear (5 miles- yikes!). For once, I didn't drive like a freaked-out Oregonian, which I'm very proud of.

Billy's truck wasn't having any driving, so he took the bus downtown, only to get stuck about 1/2 a mile from the bridge. Eventually he learned that PSU was closing, and alternately helped push cars up the street and hitched home.

Also, happy birthday, Billy!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Six Days of Paradise

While in Mexico last month, this is the view we saw when we woke up. For the most part, the skies were clear, the sun was out, people were being quiet (unlike at night), and there was a musician playing music on a keyboard.
The roof at the bottom left in the photograph was an open-air bar with pool table, and further left was a cafe that served breakfast, lunch and dinner.
During the day, the hotel broadcast music from two large speakers near the pool, and people lounged, swam, and puttered in the sun. We spent two days at the pool, playing tequila volleyball, reading, enjoying fruity drinks, and swimming in the ocean.

Banderas Bay had a strong enough surf to rip off one of my flippers and break the other, but swimming in it was still thrilling. And boy was it salty! I think I got my RDA of salt in just one accidentally swallowed mouthful.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Evenin' in Mexico

Ah, the beauty of a sunset in paradise!

Which is also a delicious, smoothie-like drink. Mmm, sunset in paradise- delicious AND nutritious!

This is the view from our balcony from our recent trip to Puerto Vallarta. The sun went down at around 6:30 but it stayed warm all night. 83 degrees was perfect for me, although the sun was a bit much for Billy. Our hotel room stayed humid even with the air conditioner on, but we didn't encounter any mosquitos and my hair only frizzed a little bit.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Whining about the Weather

It's 4:53 on Monday afternoon, and everything beyond my windows is pitch black.

Rain is pouring down although the temperature is a balmy 53 degrees.

Everything about the weather is a far cry from the 83 degrees we enjoyed in Mexico two weeks ago!