Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ventilation! And vinyl.

As noted in previous entry, the fan in the laundry room gave up its tiny little ghost a couple of weeks back, and air quality in the vicinity plummeted sharply as this is where we keep the (duhn duhn DUHN) litterbox. And while litterboxes in general are unpleasant, Mr. Stinky Cat Butt made it even more so. It smelled like an open cesspool in Mississipi in July, no matter how often I cleaned it.

So the other day we go to Home Improvement Megalomart in a vain search for new flooring (more on that shortly) and while we are there fruitlessly attempting to attract the attention of the single, lone, overwhelmed Foor Coverings Specialist (tm), we pick up a new fan. We engaged in the usual debate over cost/noise/cosmetics, and opted for the El Cheapo thirteen dollars-plus-tax fan because it was similar to the one already installed. Sure, you can pay a hundred bucks for a fan, but we didn't need one with a light and chances were good that the one we were replacing was the cheap one, and it served us just fine for nearly two years of constant use. And twelve years before us of occasional use.

This turned out to be The. Best. Decision. Ever. Because, when we got home and J went in there all prepared to do battle with wiring and so forth, it turned out that the fan lives in a little housing, and just plugs in to an outlet -- a standard, ordinary, two-pronged outlet like the ones all over your house -- that is part of the housing. This means that if you buy the same type of fan, you can just take the actual fan part out of the new housing, swap it out with the old burned-out fan, and plug it in! Two minutes! If that! And immediately the fan will begin to suck nasty poisonous cat poop air out of your house! Yay!!!

In other home-improvement-related news, we are finally replacing the kitchen floor. Good golly, our kitchen is black and white. Dark grey-almost-black countertops, white cabinetry, black-and-white patterned linoleum. The previous owner Emmy (who had the house built) chose this purposely, pointing out to us that we could swap out the accessories such as towels and knick-knacks for "a whole new look." I felt that this new look was best described as "the same black and white kitchen with differently colored towels and knick-knacks" but I liked Emmy and wisely kept my mouth shut. I did swap out the black porcelain knobs for brushed-nickel ones though. I just couldn't take those big ugly knobs. I sold 'em on craigslist for ten bucks. :)

At any rate, once when Emmy was out of town for an extended period the refrigerator icemaker leaked all over the floor and the water stood there for weeks or something, so the subflooring was ruined and starting to deform and basically rot. We were advised of this before purchasing the house and knew this day would come, and my discovery recently that the fridge is now sinking inexorably into the crawl space made it apparent that This Day Is Now. So, tax refund in hand, we schlepped off to the flooring store and chose some vinyl. (We saw other Home Improvement Megalomart customers there too, who had wandered in after having the same type of experience we did, presumably). We were pleased to find some we liked that was clearanced -- cheap! -- and there was enough available to do the entire family room too, but when we talked to the installer it turned out that the family room would need to be built up with particle board to be the same height as the kitchen, yadda yadda yadda, maybe we should consider laminate wood flooring for that room, blah blah blah, and before we knew it the estimate had doubled.

Okay, so after thinking about it, and considering looming nursing school tuition and daycare and so forth, we just couldn't do it. We ultimately decided to scale it back, replace just the kitchen vinyl, and squeeze a few more years out of the crappy pearly-grey, easily-stained existing carpet. With cleaning it isn't so bad, like if we were having a party or something; it's just that within a week the family room looks like we hold monster-truck mud bog rallies in it. But I think I'm going to request that we use a little of the money we aren't spending on the major floor remodel to get the carpet professionally cleaned.

Oh, and in case you ever consider using Home Improvement Megalomart type stores for your big projects, like they show in the commercials where they have their contractors come out and build your fence or whatever? Yeah, when we had to get siding on the house we got an estimate from them just for laughs. It was fifteen thousand dollars. That's about twice what we actually paid Kenny, our sidingwallah, and he was nice enough to knock off for lunch right about the time the baby napped, and made funny faces at her through the windows. She thought he was the greatest guy in the world. I don't think you're gonna get that from the big box stores.

One final home improvement note: J's brother is going to build gates for us, and do a variety of other work, including every little stupid thing you can think of like hang miniblinds and put gutters on the porch roof and help paint the family room and you name it, in exchange for a new computer. I am so stoked. Gates! No more plywood held up by a wheelbarrow! Gutters! Miniblinds! And I won't have to do any of it! Hurray!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Here We Go Again

So, this week I registered once again for the Danskin Triathlon. This is a big sprint tri geared for the beginner in that there is a lot of hand-holding and babysitting of the newbie, lot of back-patting and go-girling and so forth. I completed part of this tri two years ago, and registered last year but could not attend, and so this year -- this year -- is the year I finally do it.

First order of business: uh, get in shape. The running part will suck for me, because I have bad feet, but the rest should be okay.

Naturally, I feel like crap right now. I came down with some strange virus or something on Friday and now I'm exhausted. So, it's off to bed. :)

Walrus Loaf

Our good friends Graham and Liz once lived in Nome, Alaska. We flew there to see them for New Year's 2004, figuring, when would we ever have another chance or reason to see Nome? I was pregnant at the time and just beginning to show (if you knew where to look) so we bundled me up like the kid brother on "A Christmas Story" and toured me gingerly around town. There's not much to see so for the rest of our visit we mostly watched "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on DVD. Thus was our addiction born. We have so much to thank Graham and Liz for!

Another thing to thank them for is Walrus Loaf. Liz sent me the occasional interesting tidbit from Nome inluding a sandwich baggie of musk ox fur, which is harvested by the locals from the areas that the musk oxen hang out while shedding. It is fine and silky and sells for a bazillion dollars an ounce to fancy pants yarn folk. And, she sent me a sheaf of recipes entitled "Walrus in the Cooking Pot," put out by the Cooperative Extension Service of the Unversity of Alaska. From this booklet I made "Walrus Meat Loaf" for a church function and my, was it tasty. Of course, walrus meat is scarce and spendy outside of remote villages most of the time, so I substituted the more pedestrian ground beef.

Well, now J has developed the occasional taste for walrus loaf so this afternoon while I napped on the couch (still suffering some nameless malaise) she mixed up a batch and it is just finishing up as I type this. Yum!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Excrement Day

Having as many animals as we do (two each of dogs, cats, bunnies; four chickens; three goldfish; one toddler) means that a certain (cough cough HUGE) amount of my time is spent dealing with excrement. Litter box, bunny cage, diaper changes account for the most frequent tasks I am faced with. Occasionally I clean out the chicken hut, when it gets too damp and/or smelly for even the chickens to face. Generally I try to delegate the task of Yard Scoopage to my better half, but sometimes it falls to me for various reasons.

Here is the approximate schedule:
Daily: diapers
Every few days: litter box, bunny cage
Every couple of weeks: chicken hut

Now, this schedule is pretty loose (aside from diaper changes) so it's not like I always clean the litter box on Wednesdays, etc. Most days I deal with one or the other of these things at most (aside from diaper changes, which you can now just exclude from the list hereafter).

However. Once in a while, the planets line up and I must take care of all of them at once. Company coming over, extreme slacking on my part, kismet, whatever. It just happens. Like today. Little Miss Terrible Two and a Half and I went out to re-pot some houseplants (following the Great Cat-Induced Flying Houseplant Debacle of a week or so ago) and that naturally led to visiting the chickens which in turn led to cleaning the hut out, which was damp and smelly and littered with little chicken beer bottles and little chicken pizza boxes and little chicken dirty sweat socks. Chickens are like bachelors.

Now I'm taking a break to recover from the trauma of sticking most of my upper body into a plywood box redolent of guano, repeatedly, to remove stinking pine shavings caked with, well, guano. Once I feel sufficiently recuperated, I'll move on to (ominous peal of thunder) the litter box. It's kept in the laundry room, which is a very small walk-through from the house to the garage, and the ventilation fan has been running continuously in that room for about 18 months. Yes, we probably lost some heat in the winter and cool in the summer, but it kept the house free of litter box stank and was therefore worth it. Except it died a couple of weeks ago. We moved the hepa filter in there but it's just not doing anything but blow the smell around. And, Ringo is the King Of The Stinky Cat Butt, so it reeks in there no matter how often I clean it, since he is also the Master of Using The Cat Box Right After It Has Been Cleaned. Needless to say, we will be obtaining and installing a new ventilation fan this weekend.

And, well, I haven't been that scrupulous of late about scooping.

To add to this delightful state of affairs is the fact that one or both of the cats likes to pee on the floor right in front of the box. (I blogged about this long ago, of the many times I moved the laundry machines around to clean up the cat pee that had run beneath them, of the angst and agony that this caused me, and of my eventual discovery of the Wee-Wee Pad. ) I am still using the pads, and every time I get one out a silent but heartfelt prayer of thanks wings its way toward the saintly person or persons who created this marvelous product. However. While they are marvelous at catching the pee and soaking it up, they do nothing in the way of deodorizing said pee. Which means that they reek once peed on, and right at this very moment our laundry room smells like a urology ward. In Calcutta. In monsoon season.

So, I'll spend a richly rewarding fifteen minutes setting all that to rights, only to move on to (duhn duhn DUHN) the rabbit cage.

Did you know that two bunnies produce twice the, erm, output of one bunny? And that twice the output means twice the stink? If not more? Yeah, see, guess who didn't really think that through before agreeing to another bunny. Although, seeing them sleep in a little pile and groom one another and generally groove on being together makes it worthwhile, truly. Still. Yeah. What fun.

So I have achieved it, my friends: the Excrement Trifecta.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


58 Uninteresting Things About Me.

Stolen from Mel. I like memes.

1. The phone rings. Who do you want it to be?
Karen, Katie, Graham and/or Liz, Alison, Mom, Ed McMahon, etc.

2. When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?
Yes, but if there is one (or more) other cart(s) languishing nearby but NOT in the cart return, I'll cop out and put mine there too. But I always make sure it won't roll. I didn't use to be this conscientious and I'm not sure why I am now.

3. In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener?
Kinda depends. Usually a bit more of a talker unless I'm really trying to Be A Better Person (infrequent as that is).

4 Do you take compliments well?
Um, kinda... Mostly I just get embarrassed, but if it's a really sincere compliment I'll savor it all day long.

5. Do you play Sudoku?
When I have time. I would really love an electronic hand held sudoku thingy (backlit, please) for Valentine's Day but I don't think J. reads my blog anymore so I'll have to hint at home. :(

6. If abandoned alone in the wilderness, would you survive?
Well, if it wasn't for too long, i.e. I could hike out or someone could find me, I like to think I would. But it wouldn't be pretty. I'd be the one they find wearing only underwear and gibbering.

7. Did you ever go to camp as a kid?
Only Outdoor School, which is a school thing. I always kinda wanted to go to camp but I don't think it's as prevalent in the Pacific Northwest as say the Midwest or East coast. I did hear a thing about summer camp culture on This American Life once that highlighted the spastic emotional hyperactivity of large groups of prepubescent and pubescent girls and after that I wasn't so sure it was a bad thing that I'd missed out.

8. What was your favorite game as a kid?
Ghost in the Graveyard, for outdoor games, and Sorry for board games.

9. If a sexy person was pursuing you, but you knew he/she was married, would you?
OMG no, but if I was single, I'd be harder pressed to answer this. Probably not but it would be tough.

10. Could you date someone with different religious beliefs than you?
If they were fundamentalist anything, no. If I would eventually be required to cover my head in church or submit to their dominance or whatever, no. If they were laid back about it, no problem.

11. Do you like to pursue or be pursued?
Um, be pursued I guess. But pursuit is okay too if I feel like it's more or less a sure thing. This is hypothetical of course.

12. Use three words to describe yourself? Funny. Smart. Insecure.

13. Do any songs make you cry?

14. Are you continuing your education?

15. Do you know how to shoot a gun?
Yes but I haven't had a lot of practice. Best to stand off to the side and wear body armor.

16. If your house was on fire, what would be the first thing you grabbed?
Baby, pets, laptop, desktop (unless we'd burned the photos off it onto cd's in which case the cd's).

17. How often do you read books?

18. Do you think more about the past, present or future?

19. What is your favorite children’s book?
The Big Clean Up.

20.What color are your eyes?

21. How tall are you?

22. Where is your dream house located?
Near family and friends. But out in the sticks a little. But not too far from the amenities: coffee place, library, mall, movies, etc.

23. Have you ever taken pictures in a photo booth?
Long ago, with a girlfriend, on the Santa Monica pier.

24. When was the last time you were at Olive Garden?
Um, within the past few weeks, with Alison.

25. Where was the furthest place you traveled today?
It's 7am, so far just up the hall to the bathroom.

26. Do you like mustard?
Yes but in sparing amounts, and preferably dijon or spicy brown or anything other than the bright yellow kind. And only on hot dogs and only with ketchup too.

27. Do you prefer to sleep or eat?
My affections for both are evenly divided.

28. Do you look like your mom or dad?
Both, Mom's coloration, Dad's features.

29. How long does it take you in the shower?
10-15 minutes

30. Can you do the splits?
Uh, no.

31. What movie do you want to see right now?
Harry Potter when it comes out. I have no idea what is out right now.

32. What did you do for New Year’s?
Drank sparking cider, watched a movie, caught the ball dropping by about 3 seconds.

33. Do you think The Grudge was scary?
Didn't see, don't care.

34. Do you own a camera phone?
No. No camera, no tunes, no nothing. Very primitive. Like a small brick with an antenna.

35. Was your mom a cheerleader?

36. What’s the last letter of your middle name?

37. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
About 6. (See answer #58)

38. Do you like Care Bears?
Not in the least. On WoW playe,rs who play on non-PVP servers (where other players using opposing-faction characters can't kill you) are known as Care Bears. I play on a PVP server though I suck at PVP.

39. What do you buy at the movies?
Pop, chocolate in some form. No popcorn unless I'm with somebody else who likes it and then I usually eat some if they buy it.

40. Do you know how to play poker?
Sorta. I play it about every ten years. For an hour.

41. Do you wear your seat belt?
Always. Once you've nearly lost someone dear to you in a bad accident and they say, The seatbelt saved their life, or, It wouldn't have been this bad if they had been wearing their seatbelt, (both of which have happened in my life) you start wearing yours religiously.

42. What do you wear to sleep?
Flannel pajamas (winter), jersey pajamas (summer), socks if my feet are cold (sometimes). Not very titillating but, the honeymoon's over, folks. :)

43. Anything big ever happen in your hometown?
Um, Mt St Helens exploded nearby once...

44. How many meals do you eat a day?
Three, generally.

45. Is your tongue pierced?
No. I had a hard enough time getting my ears to heal, and I'm not that interested in other piercings really. Tattoos, though, are another story.

46. Do you always read MySpace bulletins?
Nah. Not sure what they are.

47. Do you like funny or serious people better?
Funny, hands down.

48. Ever been to L.A.?
Yes, several times. Why anyone LIVES there I'm not sure.

49. Did you eat a cookie today?
Yesterday but it was kind of out of character. The baby and I were at the store and I had this funny little cart with an upper and lower basket (first time I'd ever seen them at the local Safeway) and the baby was so excited -- at last, a cart she could put stuff into! But she was torn because she couldn't ride in it. Anyway she took the liberty of adding a big package of bakery cookies, the frosted shortbread type, and I compromised by buying a couple of single cookies which we shared.

50. Do you use cuss words in other languages?
Merde! Yes! But not out loud, usually.

51. Do you steal or pay for your music downloads?
Pay for it. I'm more paranoid than goody-goody, but I do have a few downloads from long ago before the whole file-sharing thing got weird.

52. Do you hate chocolate?
How could you even think such a thing! Bite your tongue!

53. What do you and your parents fight about the most?
Mom and I don't fight, and Dad and I .... well, I don't know if I'd call it fighting, but we have butted heads a few times about some stuff. It's in my blog.

54. Are you a gullible person?

55. Do you need a boyfriend/girlfriend to be happy?
Hm. I prefer to have someone than not.

56. If you could have any job (assuming you have the skills) what would it be?
ER physician. Or else zoo vet. Or rich, rich woman with no responsibilities.

57. Are you easy to get along with?
Generally. But once you piss me off, you're in for a bit of turbulence. Until I get over it.

58. What is your favorite time of day?
Evening after the baby goes to bed, so I can play WoW til my eyes bleed.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

So Fast

It all happened so fast, today. We painted her room yesterday and today we were talking about what kind of bed to get her eventually and I fired up craigslist and the next thing I knew, I was driving to some stranger's house to buy the perfect little toddler bed, which he had listed mere moments before for twenty bucks.

I thought we'd ease her into it but she saw it and wanted to know what it was, so I told her and she "helped" me assemble it in her room, and given the choice between the crib and the bed, she chose the bed. Maybe it helped that she had spent the night before with me in my big bed (where she slept sideways and wiggled a lot and I got very little sleep). She has slept in regular beds when visiting my mother or my father and taken it completely in stride. Tonight she gave us the usual song and dance around putting off bedtime ("one more" book, "one more!" stuffed animal, etc) but settled into her bed with nary a complaint.

Where is my baby? Who is this big grown up bed-sleeping girl?!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Blurry bunny pics etc

Well, it's official: we have buntegration. Our bunnies are corabbitating.

You'd never know he was neutered from the way Exidor humped poor Cleo like a, well, bunny for the first few minutes. But, after the novelty wore off he settled down and now they are like an old married couple only much, much cuter.

I was not able to really hunker down for an extended photo shoot so can offer only these sad pictures, blurry as they are.

Here is Cleo with an Excitingly Artificially Colored Rabbit Toy. Note that she is your standard white dwarf rabbit with pink eyes.

Here is a really bad photo but I had to show you Exidor's belly:

Snorgling in lazy afternoon bliss:

And, in an un-bunny-related matter, remember that sleek young Siamese-ish kitten we adopted last summer? Behold! He turned out to be very, very fluffy.

Here the baby, in all her bed-headed, pajama'ed splendor, gives him a tour of the kitchen in her wagon. Note new stove in background (burners not only all work but do not slant, bonus!) and ugly floor that is being replaced once we get our taxes back, what with the dry rot causing the fridge to slowly sink into the crawl space...