Before & After

Filed under: @ 7:15 pm

So March has been a giant slavering turd of a month, but for the most part it’s over now. Well, except for the garage. Right now our garage looks like a particularly energetic bomb went off, but I don’t live in the garage, I only interact with the garage for a few minutes a couple of times a day and it can, by god, stay looking like a particularly energetic bomb went off until I damn well feel like doing something about it.

We would, once again and forever, like to extend our gratitude to the following:

Curt, Shawn & Annie (and Anastasia for keeping Della busy), & Steve for the gracious gift of a Saturday afternoon to help friends move heavy shit. We have no words but thank you.

Mom & Dad for lunch, companionship, good suggestions, and a remarkable chocolate stout cake. Also for bedtime stories without which I wouldn’t have been doing much sleeping over the last few weeks.

The Lenzers and assorted hangers on for grief, support, chaos, humor, and a lot of love. They say you don’t actually know someone until you see them under the most stress. In the last month Lenzers have shown me that you don’t necessarily need great stress. As always you have provided grief, support, chaos, humor, and a lot of love. It’s nice to know that I’ve always known the real people.

And I’d like to add a shout out to my boss lady, Melinda Cumming, for putting up with me missing shifts, leaving early, being frazzled, short tempered, and glum without getting too worried about it.

All that having been said…..

So let’s go back to, oh, about the 21st or so.
Friday the 21st, I got up, ate breakfast, and started truly alarming my cats by, instead of sitting at my computer for a couple of hours as is my habit on my day off, started moving things. And moving things. And moving things. The scope of this project encompassed the entire upstairs of our house except for three small bedrooms, and the entire downstairs except for Andrew’s office and the laundry room. Which meant that we had to compact about 2/3 of the house into 1/3 of it.
I got things off walls, I packed up books (note to self: books are HEAVY, use SMALL boxes the next time). I moved fragile knick knacks, I took apart shelves, I moved what furniture I could and I wondered how we’d managed to move so much shit into a small house in such a short period of time.
Saturday? Same thing! Except we were also emptying the fridge so the guys could move it Monday morning.
Sunday? Same thing! Only add Shawn & Annie with Anastasia and Della, Curt, and a metric boatload of sushi as a bribe for helping to move the heavy shit. Andrew’s hand is well healed from the surgery that he had earlier in the month, but he only had surgery three weeks ago and is strictly forbidden to lift anything heavy. As I can recall it Sunday afternoon was the last time before now that we had any peace and quiet. After we finished moving heavy shit and after we’d finished lunch, we adjourned to the porch for talk and toasted marshmallows. For the record, if you don’t have graham crackers Girl Scout Thin Mints work amazingly well for S’mores.

Monday morning I packed up the cats and went to work. Ivan The Installer and his goons showed up Monday morning and proceeded to move the stove, the dishwasher, and the fridge then pulled out the godawful carpet, the vinyl in the kitchen, and started to put the new flooring in.
This is the dining room before:
Before DR:Disgruntled Flitter

Please excuse the disgruntled cat in the foreground.

And here’s a closeup of the dining room carpet:
Closeup:DR Diamond Pattern

I believe it’s what’s called a berber carpet? Not sure. Small, hard loopy things with a raised diamond shaped pattern that was guaranteed to be almost impossible to vacuum. Who puts carpet with what amounts to PITS in it in a dining room?

Vinyl in the kitchen? Mostly white. Who puts WHITE vinyl anywhere, let alone in a KITCHEN?!

This is what the living room looked like when I left on Monday.
Before LR:Disgruntled Flitter

Please excuse the disgruntled cat in the background.

Closeup of the carpet:
Closeup Powder Blue

Powder. Freakin’. Blue. No one, but NO ONE with children, grandchildren, friends, pets, a garden, or FEET puts powder blue carpeting ANYWHERE. There are colors that are harder to keep clean, I’m sure, but it’d be hard to find one.

Came home Monday evening and the stove and dishwasher were in the living room. The refrigerator was on the back porch, there was no carpeting anywhere, and no where to sit. We had a pair of wickedly annoyed cats. Ate pizza in bed, put the cats away for the night, and woke up way too damn early the next morning to do it all over again.

Ivan the Installer and Vlad the Installer showed up Tuesday morning. Andrew reports that it was loud.

Andrew checked into our home away from home, The Embassy Suites, on Tuesday afternoon. The cats, thank god, adjusted to the whole situation fairly quickly. The cats, in fact, thought that sleeping with people was a charming idea and they were enchanted with having an UNDER to the bed. We have a captain’s bed on a solid base so there is no under to our bed. Under the bed was a BIG favorite.
People sleeping with cats, however, was not so popular. The cats might have slept well, we didn’t so much. Pogo likes to sleep on my head.

Wednesday and Thursday passed pretty much in a blur. I was really glad to hit Thursday evening and not have to plan to go to work again the next morning.
And Thursday afternoon Vlad called and said he was done. WOO HOO! So we planned that I’d come back from work and we’d go to the house to see whether or not we’d be able to move back in on Friday.

No. No we couldn’t.
We got home Thursday evening and opened a door. Two people each took one step inside and were promptly shoved back out the door by the STANK. It was literally breathtaking. Eyes watering, lungs shrieking, we backed out and closed the door. A little planning and we mounted an assault on two doors at once. In the house, outside to breathe. In the house, open a window, outside to breathe. And so on.
We were here for probably a half hour opening windows, turning on fans and marveling at how ABSOLUTELY FREAKING GORGEOUS THE FLOORS ARE!!

After Stairs

Living Room:
After LR II
After LR

Dining Room/Kitchen:
After DR
After DR:Kitchen

These photos, by the way, weren’t taken on our whirlwind tour Thursday evening. By the time we left Thursday evening we could both feel our DNA unwinding so the idea of staying to take photos was one we did not entertain.

Friday morning I was back at the house at 8:30. I had had romantic notions of sitting on the porch with all the windows open enjoying the sunshine while waiting for the dudes to show up to re-install the dishwasher and deliver the new fridge, but it was, as is has been for most of the last six weeks, pouring. Also the house! Ay-yi-yi! As much pre-planning, moving, smooshing, taping, and covering in plastic as we had done, the house was COVERED in microfine dust.
So Friday morning I came home, I opened all the windows (actually the stank had dissipated considerably) I turned on all the fans and I started to clean. I was here for (totting up on my fingers) 10 hours cleaning on Friday and I’m still finding little patches where there’s dust.
We were actually scheduled to stay at the hotel Friday night, but Andrew in his wisdom, asked why we should. The house was livable, the stank had dissipated, why stay at a hotel, as comfortable as it was, full of high school chorus members when our bed was calling?
So we ate dinner bundled up the cats and checked out. Our bed is GLORIOUS!

Andrew and I have both spent the last two days unpacking, cleaning, re-cleaning, moving, pushing, shoving, reeling, writhing, and fainting in coils. The house looks like ours again (except with MUCH better floors), the cats are settled and happy (except that it’s 10 after 7 p.m. and I’ve not fed them dinner yet), and I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS EVER AGAIN.
Except that the house needs painting.
That, however is going to have to wait until we recover from this.
Living Room:
Living Room
Kitchen/Dining Room:
Kitchen/Dining Room
Family Room:
After FR
Come on over. Just please take off your shoes!


Rest in Peace

Filed under: @ 8:52 am

“Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (Genesis 3:29)
“Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou wilt return.”

Joan & Tony on the sofa

Joan Lee (Linn) Lenzer. March 18, 1930 – March 10, 2014

Requiem Aeternam dona eis, Domine
Requiem et lux perpetua luceat eis:
Requiescant in pace. Requiem. Amen.


Dear Joan

Filed under: @ 11:16 pm

Thank you so much for my husband, the love of my life. I’ll take good care of him for you.

Be at peace.

All my love,

Mom, Margaret & Daffodils


It’s a PLOT!

Filed under: @ 4:11 pm

It’s a lousy, stinking PLOT! Or a suicide pact or something!

So we’re having our floors redone. Part of the labor that the floor goons will provide is to remove and replace our stove and our refrigerator. So we thought, being as we were paying someone to remove the refrigerator, AND seeing as the refrigerator is 21 years old, now would be an ideal time to get a new refrigerator.
I don’t like side by side refrigerators anyway, they’re too damn narrow and this one…… Well, to its credit, it hasn’t gone kaflooey yet. But it’s going to. And this way we can PLAN to move all our perishables into a cooler for several days instead of having to do it, say, just before our next party or something. Or after our next party (shudder). I’m not sure which would be worse. 8O

So anyway, we go down to Albert Lee Appliance whom long time readers of UADN may recall from our last remodeling saga. We looked over refrigerators, we compared sizes and interior capacities and energy efficiencies and so on and eventually we purchased a refrigerator. Now the new refrigerator won’t be installed until after the floors are done at the end of this month and maybe we were a little careless in talking about it in the kitchen.


Tuesday morning I got up at an obscene hour, ate my oatmeal, put my lunch together, and put my tea in the microwave so I’d have hot tea to take to work with me.
Open the door, put the teacup in the microwave, close the door, press the button, two minutes later you have hot tea. Pretty simple, right?
Except for Tuesday morning.
I pushed the button and…. no happy little microwaves speeding up my tea molecules.
I’m not exactly at my best at dark a.m. but I SWEAR I did everything correctly to start a microwave. I opened the door, I took my teacup out, I closed the door. I opened the door again, I put my teacup back in, I pressed the button and………

So this morning, now that Andrew is able to go without hydrocodone (he had surgery on his left hand again yesterday, did we mention that?), we packed up and went back to Albert Lee Appliance to purchase a bloody damn microwave!

In the 13 years we have lived in this house we have replaced the dishwasher, the stove, and the washer and dryer. There aren’t any major appliances left except the furnace and the hot water heater.

SSSshhhhhh! No one say anything!


The Saga of The Floors

Filed under: @ 7:13 am

Is about to begin.

Y’all cannot have failed to notice over the years that we *hate* the carpeting in this house.
The downstairs with its electric raspberry was quickly solved by having Scrum pee all over it. As annoying as that was, it did show that he had taste. I’d have peed on it too if Scrum hadn’t beaten me to it.
So we yanked that one out within a year or so of moving in. It was wonderfully therapeutic even though it exposed the tremendously ugly 1968 vintage asphalt tile that had, at one point, been covered with linoleum that was underneath the carpet pad.
The asphalt tile is ugly, but the carpet was worse!
The upstairs, however….. Powder blue carpeting. Nobody in their right minds, nobody with pets, friends, children, grandchildren, a garden, to say nothing of actual honest to god FEET, puts powder blue carpeting in ANYWHERE. And to put powder blue carpeting on the floor smacks of serious lunacy.
But we haven’t had the money or the momentum to break free and do something about it.

Now we do! :D The carpeting is old, permanently stained in places, a major PITA to clean, and a dust trap. Did I mention that one of the major allergens that both of our cats have in their profile is house dust? BooYAH, laminate flooring is going to be SO much easier on their systems!

We had three companies come out to do bids for us. One was a major, multi outlet franchise. Two were small, local companies. Mr. Multi Outlet Franchise came out all slick in a company car, suit, briefcase, laser measuring device, the whole nine yards. I was impressed and he immediately shot to the top of my list.
The second, a few hours later, was a little scruffy in jeans, writing down measurements on the back of the Google Maps instructions he had printed out to get him here. #2 had samples of products that we looked at and chose, but what distinguished #2 was….. He LOOKED! #2 poked around, pulled up furnace vents looked under the carpet, and what he found under the hated, filthy, hard to clean powder blue carpet in the majority of our upstairs was….

5/8″ oak hardwood.

Ah yup! Ours is one of those houses where the original owners got all fashionable in the early ’70s and covered what looks to be some pretty damn gorgeous flooring with wall to wall carpet. Which Mr. Multi Outlet Franchise was going to find only AFTER he had sold us (without return or refund I’m sure) the entire upstairs full of laminate flooring.

#2 shot immediately to the top of our list and since #3 is a nice enough guy, but totally flaky, we’re going with #2.

I’ll get around to naming names after the job is done and we’re satisfied enough to post a glowing review. As it turns out #2 is also a little flaky, but since he’s so far only been flaky personally instead of flaky professionally we’re still anticipating something pretty spectacular.

In the mean time it’s going to be a big, fat, sweaty pain in the ass. We’ve got to move furniture, we’ve got to pack up books and ornaments and ourselves, our cats, and our snakes for two days when Vlad The Installer and his dudes are here sanding and refinishing the hardwood.

T-minus 4 weeks and counting at this point. Andrew’s having surgery on another of his hands during the first week in March and Sara is going to be here during the second week in March so we put the whole thing off until the last week in March.
We can’t promise not to be grumpy, distracted, annoyed, harried, or completely insane, but damn we’re going to have nice floors!


And so I’m back

Filed under: @ 9:10 am

I’ve got a keyboard that was actually meant for typing, I’m wearing jammies and fuzzy slippers and I’ve got a cat on my lap. All is right with my little hobbit world. :D

Well, I mean, except for the part about my brother’s car getting stolen and stripped, but at least they got a nice new car out of it.

Okay, where was I….

OooooooooooYEAH (little tiny GIR voice), Las Vegas.

The conference was excellent. Because I had very little impetus to go and do anything else (read, there was no one else to go and do fun things with) I scored a LOT of continuing education credits. I listened to some truly spectacular speakers and I came back with two bags full of schwag. One of the big benefits in going to one of these major conferences is that a LOT of veterinary supply companies, labs, marketing concerns, diet manufacturers, book publishers, etc. ad infinitum, send representatives and the exhibitors hall is a FUN place to be. And a lot of the exhibitors are giving away samples of their products and/or holding daily drawings for free stuff. Case in point: Two years ago everyone and (you’ll pardon the expression) their dog was having drawings for an i-Pad. I won one. This year it was i-Pad Airs and Surface tablets none of which I seem to have one which is just fine with me since my current i-Pad works just dandy thankyouverymuch.

And staying at The Mandalay Bay, the site of the convention, is the only way to do it so far as I’m concerned. Western States Veterinary Conference (WVC) is very responsive and very aware of peoples’ requirements so they provide shuttles between the major hotels and the conference venue. And I suppose one _could_ rent a car and park and all that, but I don’t drive in strange cities, and I’m not anywhere near the drooling lunatic it would take to stay somewhere offsite so that I could try and drive in and park every day. The Mandalay Bay is more expensive than some of the other hotels, I’m sure, but I sure as hell made that up in the lack of frustration getting to and from my hotel room!

All that having been said……….The noise! The lights! The over stimulation! My GOD how do people enjoy that?
There are video screens in the elevators, there are video screens in the taxis, there are video screens in the monorail, there’s one restaurant where there are video screens in the restrooms! There. Was. A. Television. In. My. Hotel. Bathroom.
Speakers blaring in the casinos, speakers blaring in every restaurant I was in, flashing lights EVERYWHERE. When there aren’t speakers blaring at you, there are likely drunk people blaring at you. The only time I was on the strip (I walked up and down the strip a lot looking, unsuccessfully, for Legos….another story) when there weren’t drunk people hooting and roaring was at 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. And even then there were mobile billboards driving up and down blaring.
And while much of Las Vegas is smoke free, if you go through a casino (and to get pretty much anywhere in The Mandalay Bay at least you’ve got to go through the casino) there are people smoking everything, I swear I’m not making this up, from standard American cigarettes, through those horrendous Turkish cigarettes, on to cloves, and cigars, I even saw one dude smoking a Hobbit pipe. No one smoking ganja (oh please, I graduated from Evergreen, of COURSE I know what marijuana smoke smells like), but the Walgreens drugstore I stopped into on my Lego search did have a green cross on its sign.

My hotel room was high enough up that it was pretty quiet. I did talk to one of the exhibitors who had the room across from mine who had been kept awake Sunday night by a party down the hall. I wasn’t disturbed by it because I sleep in earplugs, but apparently there was rany gazooing past 2 a.m. But even in my hotel room there was airport noise (a brief note: Yes, I live next to SeaTac, yes, I am complaining about the noise from the LV airport. I live near SeaTac, but I CAN’T SEE THE BLOODY RUNWAYS FROM MY BEDROOM WINDOW), and when the jets weren’t flying it was a sterile sort of quiet. No birds, no cats, no other humans besides the annoying idiots down the hall who don’t know how to close a door without letting it slam.
I took a day off in the middle of the week and went to do fun things. I went to The Springs Preserve which is a lovely little nature preserve somewhere within Las Vegas proper, but off the strip (which is the sum total of my knowledge about Las Vegas geography, don’t ask me anything else about how to get anywhere, I was either in lectures or pretty much lost most of the time I was there). Quiet! OMG QUIET!! Gardens full of lovely little tweebly birds and something that I’m fairly sure was a mockingbird. A black chinned hummingbird which I saw zooming but didn’t get a really good look at. And nothing to hear but the breeze which quickly turned into a heckuva wind, but it was still peaceful. Just blowy.
Just as an aside, I’m really happy I don’t have to limit myself to xeriscape gardening. The gardens were lovely and really hip on water conservation, but I like mine better.
Wetlands are in the eye of the beholder. This, granted wetter than the surrounding country side, was what they were calling a wetland. The grass sort of stuff was 8-10 feet tall.LVWetland
When I got back from The Springs Preserve I wandered down to the Luxor where they’ve got a Titanic artifacts exhibit. I had to decide between the Titanic exhibit and The Bodies exhibit, but I’ve seen at least one of The Bodies, and I figured there’d be fewer idiots at Titanic. The exhibit was sad, and creepy, and horrible all at once, but absolutely astonishing in that I’d never realized exactly how *deluxe* the ship was. Okay, third class was pretty much cattle car, but the recreation of the third class cabins still looked more comfortable than is flying coach on most airlines these days.

Back at the Mandalay Bay it was quite amusing to watch the crowds back and forth from the convention center. There were three, count ‘em *three* conventions at the Mandalay Bay during the same period of time. WVC, a fashion convention, and a pool convention. Wandering the hallways, even without looking at badges, it was super easy to pick out which were veterinarians and which were not. I have _never_ seen such slut wear….er…. high fashion…. as I was seeing on some of the fashion conference attendees. Female AND male.
Which brings up another point. Wednesday evening I was wandering around looking for a sit down dinner that wasn’t the buffet. Because I didn’t have a reservation and I didn’t want to wait close to an hour for dinner, two of the three places I checked were quickly checked off my list.
The third turned me away because I didn’t meet the dress code. Mid thigh length walking shorts, a button down shirt, and walking shoes, not fancy, but tidy……… not appropriate. Painted on skinny jeans with horizontal rips from ankle to, no kidding, ass with a see through crop top (nipples coyly covered) and spike heels……appropriate. I am _obviously_ not meant for The High Life.

So all in all, worth it but exhausting. If the other major conferences this year hadn’t been in stupider locations (c’mon AVMA, who REALLY wants to go to St. Louis in JULY?!) I’d have gone to one of them, but as it was…..

I guess there’s a conference next year in San Francisco. I’ll probably give that a lot of consideration. I think I’m probably better suited to San Francisco than Las Vegas.


Wellman type 1?

Filed under: @ 8:50 pm

I don’t like crowds. I don’t like crowds, loud music, bright, constantly flashing lights, and I don’t like either drunk people (with a few notable exceptions), or Elvis.
I don’t smoke, I don’t gamble, I don’t drink (okay, I _do_ drink, but I don’t _Las Vegas_ drink) and the very last word that anyone would use to describe the pace of my life would be “frenetic”.

So why did I do this again?……..

oooooooooooooYEAH (little tiny Gir voice) that pesky little licensing requirement.

So I’m back in Vegas.

And before I go berserk at trying to type anything coherent on my i-Pad keyboard, I’d like to make the following observations:

1. I was walking around the other day and was amused, but not terribly surprised to run across an Imperial Stormtrooper, Hello Kitty, a dude with dreadlocks playing Bee Gees on his steel drums, and a zombie with a chain around his ankle pawing and drooling at the front window of the Coca Cola store.
All in one city block. 8O

2. The M&M store is a very dangerous place.


3. This place ain’t no Mos Eisley (damn, can’t figure out how to imbed links on my-Pad), but The Strip really is a miserable place.

I fully intend to expand on the above, but y’all is gonna have to wait until I’m back at a proper keyboard.



Filed under: @ 10:39 am

When she first met my parents Andrew’s sister, Libby, described them as adorable little Hobbit people. An apt description I think. I’m proud to have come from Hobbit stock.

That having been said we got about two inches of snow last night. Not a huge amount, but enough to make everything pretty for a while and, if it sticks around, enough to make the drive to work tomorrow REALLY interesting. 8O Thank ZOT for all wheel drive.

But, as y’all will have noticed, Andrew and I feed birds. We feed a LOT of birds and we feed them all year round. Frigid weather and snow make it difficult for the birds so we try to keep our feeders well stocked and our birdbath unfrozen. As a side note, I was pleased to find that regardless of snow it wasn’t cold enough last night to freeze the hummingbird feeder. The persistent little demonchildren otherwise known as Anna’s hummingbirds don’t freakin’ migrate so when it’s cold enough to freeze the sugar water in their feeder, as it was last week, I’m always concerned.

Anyway, back to the snow….
Snow and cold make it difficult for the birds. This time of year usually the first thing we do in the morning (after feeding the cats of course) is to go out and make whatever adjustments in the bird feeders need to be made so that everyone can eat and drink.
It is a compliment to my Hobbit heritage, I think, that after I spread fresh seed for the ground feeders, knocked the snow off of the hummingbird feeder, and put fresh water in the birdbath that I got a lot of pleasure in sitting and watching while all the birds came crowding back.
It’s nice to know we’re good hosts!


Weather update…

Filed under: @ 6:26 pm

Please pardon my descent into my youth, but……..





pretty driveway snow in the dark

pretty driveway snow in the dark

Please note that these images aren’t from _this_ snow, but still……….

That is, so long as it either doesn’t stick around until Monday or it gets so deep that Monday becomes a practical impossibility. :D



Filed under: @ 11:10 am

Neither of us are football fans. To be entirely accurate, neither of us are fans of any organized sport save, perhaps, Sumo and Evergreen’s intercollegiate boomerang team.
We aren’t anti-fans. We don’t wish for the entire sport to die and everyone involved in it to go with, we’re just so indifferent that “meh” doesn’t even come close.

The last two weeks have been and, depending on the outcome of today’s game the next couple will be, extremely tedious.

So in the spirit of celebrating our mega-*meh* we would like to present the following opposite superb owl (thanks to Stephen Colbert for the phrase) options for things to do today:

A giant online game of Ham Hamtaro.

Decoupage something. (For the record, I’m not sure what decoupage is, but I’m certain that if Martha Stewart does it it’s pretty much opposite of sitting around watching f’ball)

Dungeons and Dragons…. It is the 40th anniversary after all.

Read a fucking BOOK! (warning! Not safe for work, not safe for children, not safe for…. Well, watch in privacy, it’s funny!)

Get out in the fresh air! It’s a beautiful day in Seattle, I’m hoping to have time to get out and do some pruning. Andrew, still whispering and lacking stamina, will hopefully be out playing with his remote control quad copter.

So what are we going to do to celebrate superb owl Sunday? We’re gonna go to Albert Lee Appliance and look at refrigerators.


Rest in Peace

Filed under: @ 9:31 pm
Don, Doris, Barbara 1940

Don, Doris, Barbara 1940

Dorward family 1966

Doris Jean (Dorward) Dingledine 1924-2014
And may eternal light shine upon you.


Yeah, I’m Weird Like That

Filed under: @ 12:20 pm

I don’t think anyone remembers much about their preschool years. I remember standing in a circle and having a keeper from one or another local zoo drape an ENORMOUS python around all our necks (a quick blast from the current me: YIKES! How dangerous is THAT?! You’d never get away with exposing preschool children to an enormous fucking snake in this day and age, particularly not one that could kill and eat any of the tender morsels with which it was so conveniently presented!).
I remember standing up in a cardboard barrel of sorts with a friend behind me. We over balanced and I ended up belly flopped with her on top of me which won me a killer fat lip.
And I remember car washes.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by big, repetitive machines. Going through an automatic carwash was one of the highlights of my week when I was little. Strike that. I still love going through an automatic carwash. And when I was doing finger painting in preschool my most frequent productions were big, multicolored pieces full of swirls and swooshes representing a trip through an automatic car wash.

And lemme just tell you about the trip that we took when we were in Illinois one summer. My folks thought it would be cool to take us out to the Peoria(?) river (Missouri?) to take a ride on a steamboat. I spent the vast majority of the time we were on the Julia Belle Swain standing in the engine room watching the steam piston drive the paddle wheel. I don’t think I spent any time looking at the scenery. The steam engine was SO COOL!
Just recently my dad e-mailed me a link to an article about a steam powered printing press. OOOOOooooooo! (drool)

So anyway, my car has been at the dealership having some sort of tweak to the software and having some sort of magic whiffle dust applied that was part of the package I purchased with the car. I never thought I’d get so used to having a moon roof, but driving the loaner I was given I realized how much I missed having some sort of daylight coming in through the roof. And then I realized….
I’ve got a car with a moon roof.
That I can take through an automatic car wash.

Um. ‘scuse me for a minute. I think my car is dirty! :D


And so it’s January

Filed under: @ 5:49 pm

We had a lovely Christmas except that I neglected to notice that the Gummy Army Men that I purchased for Matt and Andrew at The Vermont Country Store came in two pound bags so we now have most of two pounds of green apple flavored Gummy Army Men. I’m hoping that Matt’s D&D buddies will scarf his. God only knows what we’re going to do with the rest of Andrew’s.
And my *new car* is still the bomb. It has lost much of its new car smell because I put a little lavender bundle up on the rearview mirror so now it smells like new car and lavender. I’ve always had a flower and a little herb bundle in my car, I couldn’t deny New Car the herb bundle even if it means that I miss out on the new car smell. Still looking for a name for her too.
New Year’s Eve…….WHOO! We’ve been very lucky at our NYE parties. Only once, the first year in fact, has there been any precipitation. Cold and cloudy is fine if you’ve got a bigass bonfire in your backyard to keep what guests want to be outside warm. Precipitation stretches the bounds of sanity however. Good fire, good party. EXCELLENT weather for sky lanterns which is a good thing because there were lots of them. Absolutely lovely when released in groups.

And then, January. Cough, hack, wheeze, hack, cough cough cough!
January brought a new twist in yuk. On Monday I was going to drive up to Bellevue and sit with my dad so he didn’t have to wait alone while Mother had her other (right?) knee replaced. Work schedule turned into a booger (heh, premonition) however and I ended up having to work. THIS WAS A GOOD THING because I was probably wildly contagious at the time. If I happened to infect you at some point between the first and the sixth of January my deepest apologies. This FUNK sucks and if I find out who infected me I will kill them. :evil:
By the time I left work Monday evening my back hurt. By the time I got home my back, my shoulders, and my hips hurt. I came home wanting nothing more than to take ibuprofen and go to bed, only to find that Andrew was achey and coughing. We ate soup and went to bed. Tuesday we woke up with THE FUNK. I had fever and aches, Andrew had cough and wheeze. I got better, kinda, and he didn’t. The upshot of this is that I’ve got enough of an upper respiratory funk to make me cough a lot (thanks Zicam! You taste awful, but it’d be worse without you!) and Andrew’s got pneumonia.
We are going through an awful lot of ginger beer, lemon juice, honey, and soft, lotion-y Kleenex.
We had appointments with three dudes to come and measure the house for new flooring today. We cancelled all of them.
We have, however, discovered the joy of fleece jammie pants. I put mine on for the first time this afternoon and I may not take them off again until May.

Before her surgery Mom, who has a markedly jaded opinion of most things medical, was crabbily recommending that people not bother to interact much with her until around the 27th of the month. I’m not as crabby and I’m nowhere near comparing respiratory FUNK to major orthopedic surgery, but I’d still recommend avoiding interactions with either Andrew or I for at least another week. We’ll try not to cough on you.


And the final decision is……….

Filed under: @ 12:17 pm

A Subaru.

Yup, I’m guaranteed grade A boring.

For a while I was really kind of disappointed. Not disappointed in the car which is going to be (say in the most outré voice imaginable) FAB-u-LOUS! But disappointed in myself that I wasn’t enough in love with the Mini to not be enchanted with a different car.
How stupid is that?

Mini: Cute, cute, ohmigod CUTE! Good mileage, fun to drive. Crappy rear visibility, expensive to maintain, and only maintainable at mechanics who work on BMW engines (read, only maintainable in Fife or Bellevue).
Subaru: Less cute, equal mileage, bigger engine, more space (whythehell do I need a bigger car?) and for what I was going to pay for a mid-range Mini, I got a sock-it-to-me LOADED Subaru. Bells and whistles out the bells and whistles. Good rear visibility, and even if the physical visibility isn’t as good as I need, I’ve got (squee!) a backup camera!

Okay, yeah, I’m boring, but I’ve got a DAMN FINE car.

My little green bean was a good vehicle, I got a LOT of relatively trouble free miles out of her, and I’d have been happy to continue to drive her for another couple of years. But I didn’t want to blow a lot of money on the head gasket and I didn’t want to put in a new clutch.
And my new car talks to me. And listens when I talk back (well, mostly. I’ve still got some programming to do with the voice recognition software).

Wanna ride?


No, really!

Filed under: @ 10:21 am


Okay, I’ll try to be done with that.

The Mini happened to be the first car I test-drove because the dealership was the furthest away. When you’re situated at the ass-end of Seattle the closest Mini dealerships are either in Fife or in Lake City. Choosing Fife as both having easier access for us and not requiring us to drive through Seattle (which can either be easy or not and there’s very little warning one way or the other) we headed for Fife yesterday morning.

*minor digression*
That having been said, what are the colossal odds that of all places in western Washington and of all people in western Washington, the Mini dealership in Fife just happened to be the place where Andrew and I encountered (I did _not_ go so far as to speak to her) a receptionist from my previous job that we used to call “Crazy Mary”? Over the years Andrew has gotten very good at picking up on my non-verbal, or extremely quiet, cues so when I saw her and he saw me, he leapt into the fray, stood in front of me, and was prepared to convince her to bugger off if she should come over to try and catch up. Why her? Why couldn’t fates have aligned to bring, say, Liam Neeson to the Mini dealership in Fife? Ma Fate is a weird old bitch!
Anyway, I digress.

The 2013 Paceman is a nice, zippy little car with pretty decent handling. There are a lot of bells and whistles, especially as compared to my current car which has a LOT of bells and whistles as compared to her predecessor, my ’77 Corolla. When I end up purchasing a new vehicle it’s going to take me several weeks of poking and prodding to figure out which button does what and why one shouldn’t pull that lever while in motion. Notable on the Paceman was a little toggle switch on the center console that switched the transmission into “Sport” mode. “Sport” mode, as I understand it, moves the transmission into a lower (?) gearing ratio which increases the acceleration and changes the handling a wee bit. Good GOD that thing is fun to drive in “Sport” mode….. Although it probably does hideous things to the gas mileage.
The other thing that impressed me about the Mini was that there’s no spare tire. As in, not even one of those rotten little donut things. Minis are sold with run flat tires which either gives one 80 miles of running at 50 mph on zero air pressure or 50 miles of running at 80 mph on zero air pressure I’m not entirely certain which. My brain was in serious SQUEE mode for much of the time we were there yesterday. Regardless, seeing as my first brush with mechanical insanity on my current car was an incident 3 months after I purchased the beast when I ran over a roofing screw on I5 while on my way to a wedding with the back hatch full of tomato plants, the run flats have a good deal of appeal.

The major down side to the Paceman is the rear visibility which isn’t quite wretched, but is not good. I drove the 2 door version and while doubtless I’d figure out the best ratio of mirrors to seat height and position if I purchase one, I was more than a little concerned. The 4 door version seems to have better rear visibility, but it’s still not great. The teeny little window on the back hatch and the (relatively) large door posts are not a good combination.

We were meaning to look at and test drive a couple more cars yesterday. We actually went to the Subaru dealership in Renton since I wanted to drive the 2013 Crosstrek (on which their hybrid electric is going to be based next year) and since I’m also moderately interested in a Legacy or Outback sedan. We got to look, but couldn’t touch or drive because they were inundated with customers and didn’t have enough salespeople to help us. Subaru will have to be a future trip.

We had also meant to go to Toyota to look at the Rav 4 and a couple of other offerings, but since we went to Ezell’s for lunch we were both too overwhelmed by fried chicken stupor to continue. Again, a future trip.

But could I just say (tiny little whisper) *squee!*

First Impressions….

Filed under: @ 9:09 am

My impressions after having driven a 2013 Cooper Mini Paceman AWD:


Thank you.


Wait….what was I saying?

Filed under: @ 7:40 am

Right. Further random observations of the month.

I’m beginning to think about getting a new car. While there isn’t anything basically wrong with my Subaru, she’s 17 years old with 150K miles. And while there are no overt signs yet, I think the clutch is almost ready to be replaced. And there’s a hot, oily smell when the engine is warm that both Wayne’s around the corner and the Subaru dealership have told me will take Big Bucks to repair when it finally gets bad enough to need it.

I am conflicted about moving from a manual to an automatic transmission. I’ve always considered preferring to drive a manual to be one of my peculiarities like knowing how to bake bread, never having eaten a Twinkie, and never having seen E.T.
But God’s honest truth is that my knees are aging faster than the rest of me and since it’s cheaper to purchase a car with an automatic transmission than it is to get my knees replaced, an automatic transmission it is.

And yes, at 45 years of age, I have to be honest and admit that a new car would be a midlife crisis car. I’m not looking to purchase another station wagon, I’m looking for…. Well I want cute and fun. The station wagon was a good idea at the time in that I thought that, with a wagon, I’d be better able to haul garden supplies and friends and so forth. But the truth is that while my wagon is big enough to haul tools and plants, when I need things like bales of straw and loads of dirt I have to go rent a pickup from U-Haul, and the last time my car had any more than one person in it was, I think, January. There is absolutely no point in purchasing a larger vehicle, to say nothing of paying for the gas for a larger vehicle, when I only need a larger vehicle a couple of times a year.
Unless, that is, there are cute little red pickup trucks out there with all wheel drive in which case I might just consider it! :D I loved driving Andrew’s Mazda, but I’m not willing to give up AWD or gas mileage that’s better than 25MPG so a truck is very likely a non-starter.

Andrew has been feeding my frenzy by searching out AWD cars and e-mailing me specs and photos. I am absolutely enchanted with the AWD Mini that is Andrew’s most recent contribution to my craze, but I’m skeptical about the repair records on the Minis. I get all squee at the idea of driving a Mini, but since very little infuriates me more than having my car crap out on me I’ve got to be convinced that the Mini has improved its product before I’ll decide on one.

Obviously it’s going to take a good deal of thought and research, but opinions and suggestions are always welcome!
To sum it all up:
1. Small(ish)
2. AWD
3. 25MPG or better
And as a particular request from my left knee (SIGH), automatic transmission.


Pumpkin Pogrom 2013

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:08 pm

Many thanks to all who participated. Click on a picture to get the full-sized version.

Pumpkin Pogrom 2013Pumpkin Pogrom 2013Pumpkin Pogrom 2013



Filed under: @ 3:01 pm

How are you voting on Initiative 522?

I’m conflicted. Yeah, “the evidence states that there is no known detrimental effect to human health from the consumption of genetically modified foods”, on the other hand there’s no known detrimental effect to human health from the consumption of dairy products made from cows treated with recombinant BGH, but I drink organic non-treated milk.
Yeah, the above “no known detrimental effect to human health” evidence probably comes from studies funded by the companies that want to block passage of the initiative. But does that necessarily mean that the evidence is skewed?
Is the initiative really so poorly written, as the nay-sayers say, that things like dog food will have to be labeled, but meat won’t?

As a Greener leftie I’m inclined to vote for it simply because the initiative strikes me as something of a good idea. But if it’s really written so poorly, and yes, I’ve read the whole initiative, that the law would be toothless and expensive, I don’t want to be part of its implementation. I have, as I said, read the initiative as it stands but I just don’t have the devious brain to winkle out the subtleties that might make the law a poopy one. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve read it, but I don’t understand it.

Anyone with opinions?


Leaf blower philosophy

Filed under: @ 11:01 am

This drought and drown approach to blog posting is a little peculiar, I must admit, but hey, when I’ve got things I want to write about they all seem to come at once.

It’s coming up to December. The garden is done. I’ve still got lettuces in the cold frame and I’ve still got lemon verbena in my planters, but pretty much everything else has been harvested, cleaned, stored, dried, pickled, frozen, or eaten. I’ve weeded out the majority of the vegetable garden and knocked down the raised earth ridges in which I do my planting. Now I’m ramping up for covering everything over with leaves.
Up until we got one and I used it for the purpose it was intended (we originally purchased the thing to help start fires in the fire pit) I was highly skeptical of leaf blowers. The gas powered variety are LOUD and smelly and, in my experience, the majority of the people who wield the things are putzes of the first order who only use them to blow leaves into piles of someone else’s problem.
But we’ve got these two trees along our west property line. An alder and a maple. Both original to the development of our neighborhood which puts them in the 45-50 year old range. They’re enormous. And healthy. And last year I filled, and emptied into my vegetable garden, my 90 gallon yard waste container TEN TIMES. They’re wonderful trees and they produce wonderful mulch-able leaves. And the dirt in my vegetable garden is stupid healthy because of it. But that is one guaranteed FUCKLOAD of raking. Literally a 2-3 day job at LEAST twice each fall.
So I use the leaf blower. It’s a wee (as compared to the gas powered variety) little electric powered creature, relatively quiet (as compared to the gas powered variety) and it’s pink. I don’t know why, we certainly didn’t purchase it because it’s pink, but pink it is. So I wear earplugs or my i-pod headphones and create enormous, waist deep (really) piles of leaves, and haul them around back to feed my dirt. It’s really quite a lot of fun. If anyone wants to come over and jump in a pile of leaves you’re welcome!

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