Friday, September 28, 2007

The Visit from the In-Laws

An update from the (crowded) homefront:

All is well.

The in-laws didn't mind sleeping on the airbed in the living room. My allergies haven't gotten any worse (although they will be slow to get better). The Studly Hubby and I both had a nice night of sleep last night. And it's sunny outside.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Big Carpet Cleanup

Today we got our carpets cleaned. Out here in Seattle they do serious carpet cleaning because if you've got mold, the usual shampoo treatment just doesn't cut it. What they did was a high-heat (>220F) heat extraction. They did the bedroom and our stinky mattress and then set both up to dry with a fan.


While the apartment smells a ton better unfortunately we still aren't in the clear. My Studly Hubby's Studly Parents are due to arrive any minute and as you can see our bedroom is completely empty, leaving all the normal bedroom furniture and junk all over the rest of the apartment. Last night we were up past midnight trying to make some sense of the chaos, and it worked. We folded down our kitchen table and put it in storage, folded down our dining room table and put it in the kitchen, put the boxspring in the dining room, blew up the air mattress and put that on top of the boxspring, and viola! we have a new bedroom in the dining room. Oh! they're here!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Drinking for Science

I just got back from a work-related departmental retreat. This is where everyone in my department at work cruises out of town to some cute scenic getaway place and spends a day and a half or so bonding and updating each other on what we've been working on. Typically it involves lots of science and some booze and some nature.

This year our department went to Port Townsend, a touristy town across the way by ferry. We went to a old haunted military base and stayed in soldier's barracks (the faculty got to stay in the fancier lieutenant's houses). It was very pretty and a lot of fun especially now that I've gotten to know people.

A lot of the faculty in my department fancy themselves as experienced wine drinkers. One faculty member is even part-owner of a wine shop in a fancy party of town (Capital Hill). Therefore it didn't surprise me one bit when some fancy wine got brought out at the end of the day. What did surprise me was that they figured out a way for us to actually drink for science.

The hypothesis that was tested was that expensive wine will taste better. Therefore we had a 'wine tasting' where we blindly drank wine and rated it based on taste and smell. We also guessed at the grape and the region (all the wine was from the state of Washington, amazingly). After we drank heavily and handed over our ratings sheets (splattered with wine and some only half-filled out) the results were tallied and it turns out:

price corresponded slightly with preference, if one outlier was removed (the most expensive bottle at $42, which everyone hated but I loved). Interesting!

What I thought was fun was that we were drinking for a purpose, something I've never really done before. In order to help out, all sorts of people joined in the wine-tasting, everyone got drunk, and we all finished out the night sprawled on the floor as equals.

And I never saw the ghost. Although, I have to admit, I got a little freaked out a couple times.

Note: the picture is artwork available at the Chateau Ste Michelle, a local winery.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

We just got back from the movie 'Superbad' with the actor from Arrested Development, Michael Cera (on the right in the above picture). Thanks to Netflix, we don't find ourselves wandering out to theaters very often anymore but the Studly Hubby's Studly Boss gave him a gift certificate last week so we went.

Superbad is the next high school party movie (compare with Ferris Bueller, or Fast Times, although I would say not as good as either of those) and I liked it. It was, as much as I could tell, contemporary with the necessary nerdy-kid-meets-hot-girl theme. The things I liked about it were that A) 2/3 of the main guys were actually the same age as their characters and B) they quite perfectly replicated the awkwardness of a boy-girl conversation at that age, and it was hysterical.

And this movie actually made me miss high school a little bit. Weird!

The Living Room/Bedroom


Our living room is also now our bedroom.

We had to pull everything out of the bedroom so they could rip up the carpet, replace the pad underneath and steam clean it to get rid of all the mold. They ripped up half the pad last week and we haven't seen them since. Hopefully they will finish early next week. Meanwhile, the rest of our apt is looking pretty crowded.

The good thing is that we actually had enough room to do this. This is the first apt we lived in where it was possible. In the past we would have had to go to extremes to find space (including using our cars for storage) and it would have been even worse if you can imagine. Here we have a whole second bedroom to move into, which leaves the rest of the place (mostly) usable, although a little crowded.

Nevertheless, it'll be nice to have the place back to normal next week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hey! Today is national Pirate Speak day. So unless you speak in
pirate-tongue, I can't hear you.

Use the website http://www.syddware.com/cgi-bin/pirate.pl to translate
into pirate-speak.

Animated Jolly Roger from uselessgraphics.com - Thanks mateys!

Arrr, so ye be wantin' t' go to sea an' ye don't be wantin' t' end up in Davy Jones' Locker. Then ye best be learnin' t' be talkin' like a buccaneer.

A sea dog says 't this way:
Today be national `Swashbuckler Speak` Tide! So hade on o'er t' th' website http://www.syddware.com/cgi-bin/gentleman o' fortune.pl t' translate everythin' ye want t' say t' make sure 't comes ou' `gentleman o' fortune-ish.`
Ya lily livered scurvy dog!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mold Follow-Up

The mold in the bedroom is drying out but the room still stinks and I think our mattress may be to blame. The Studly Hubby found a recipe for a bleach-dish-soap concoction you're supposed to use on the mattress and walls so he donned his heavy-duty cleaning outfit (underwear), pumped up with some energy food (donuts), and marched into the bedroom looking determined. I haven't seen him in twenty minutes so I think things are going well. I'm a lucky girl to be so allergic to dust and mold - not only do I have a get-out-of-cleaning-free card but nobody ever makes me feel guilty about it (especially if they've seen me in the throes of an allergy attack).

I spent a good part of the afternoon today trying to figure out what my rights are as a tenant in dealing with this situation. The rules are murky and the agencies that are set up to help with these cases are hard to find and difficult to contact, and once you do they aren't even very helpful. Taking legal action starts with writing a formal letter so I wrote one and sent it off today ('dear landlord, we have mold, you need to take care of it, etc etc'). If they don't do anything within ten days we can start getting aggressive. I think we can fix it ourselves and take the money out of rent, but it has to be a necessary fix (is a moldy carpet necessary to fix? how about when you aren't sure it's moldy, can you still fix it?). Also we can call and request an official home inspection by the city where they check for obvious leaks and would probably throw a fit if they found mold in the carpet, but they may also throw fits about other things like our grill that is bike locked to the back fence and sits right under the upstairs deck. It'll be an interesting process. Meanwhile our landlord contacted us and made promises about getting a contractor out etc etc but I'm feeling skeptical since the refrigerator fiasco.

The Studly Hubby has emerged from the bedroom and the whole apartment now smells like bleach. Ah, sweet revenge. You better give up, you nasty mold.

Rainy Seattle

The rain has started here again. I really like it actually, at least for right now. It's very peaceful and makes for a lovely weekend when you just hang around inside reading or blogging. My Studly Hubby and I both have proper raincoats (Helly Hanson) and he even bought some rain pants for biking - what a difference some good rain gear makes! Last winter the rain didn't even slow us down at all - we went out running in it, we commuted to work in it, and it was never too big of a bother.

The dark, now that's a problem. It was a problem when we were in Minnesota and it's even worse here. In December it gets dark around 4:15 pm (and doesn't get light until almost 8 am). You really have to psyche yourself up for that. December is just around the corner so I'm working on getting psyched...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Congrats to the blog-friends

I haven't had a lot of time lately to read and comment on blogs or write up loads of posts but I wanted to take a second to give recognition to a few good friends (with blogs) that have made some major accomplishments lately:

1. My friend Speedy KT who is starting to place in races and triathlons (in NYC, too!). I can't believe it and I am so proud and impressed. I wish we still lived in the same city so I could go watch the magic happen and hug her at the end.

2. Another friend MWZ who just did his first olympic triathlon and lived to tell about it (and told a great story too). I hope someday we can do one together, you inspire me.

3. My Dad who recently released a CD (a pretty good one too!) even though he leads an unbelievably crazy-busy life. How easy it is to just do what you love! You're amazing.

4. My Studly Hubby, who never has time to post on his blog because he's too busy cooking dinner for me and cleaning up the mold in the bedroom and providing companionship and entertainment during an awesome relaxing weekend. You're my hero!

A very moldy weekend

One bad thing about living in the pacific Northwest:

The high humidity sometimes makes things mold.

Our bedroom had been starting to stink a little bit, so this weekend my Studly Hubby did a very studly thing: he moved the bed away from the wall, pulled out everything from under it, and pulled off the mattress. He exposed a whole world of mold we didn't know about: along the wall behind the bed, on the carpet, and even on the side of the bedside table. The mattress itself wasn't visibly moldy but it stank, and so did the mattress cover and the bedskirt. With the help of a lot of bleach we managed to clean up most of it. Unfortunately the mattress and the room still smell bad so we ran out this afternoon and bought a new filter for our fancy Hepa air filter (which we hadn't been running) and we bought a dehumidifier, and we opened all the windows and turned everything on and brought in the fan. I even put some lemon oil in a spray bottle and sprayed it around the room. In just a few hours the dehumidifier collected about 2 gallons of water so at least that's working. The room is still a little stinky so we're making use of the futon in our second bedroom tonight, which has not had any mold problems thank goodness.

We've notified our landlord who I am hoping will check the carpet and perhaps foot the bill for a steam cleaning (and we will if they don't). We also bought a hyper-allergenic mattress cover which I had been thinking about buying for a few years now - supposedly it keeps everything bad trapped and away from you and is fully washable. If we wanted more we could buy a similar cover for our down comforter, and we already had pillow covers (which have been great). I've heard good things about these things from my allergy-suffering friends so my optimistic perspective is that hey, at least now I have an excuse to try that mattress cover.

I'm not super experienced dealing with mold so I'm happy to take suggestions if there's anything we didn't do that might be helpful.

Meanwhile here are some pictures:
The mold along the wall before my Studly Hubby cleaned it all up (I wouldn't go near the stuff).





Some mold on a leather jacket that was in our bedroom closet. Fortunately the mold cleaned off fine and the jacket is sparkling clean now. A pair of shoes didn't make it though (they were old anyway). Hopefully nothing else is wrecked.







Stupid mold!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Big stinkin' piles of dog doo-doo

Our neighbor's dog has been leaving big stinking piles of dog doo-doo around our backyard, and last week both me and my Studly Hubby each stepped in a pile. I grew up on the farm with dogs and a big yard and this has happened to me many times before (even with bare feet a time or two) so I've been pretty forgiving. My Studly Hubby is not so nice about it. One time he stepped in a big stinkin' pile of dog doo-doo in the park and was wearing sandles; the pile squished up over the sides of his sandles to the leather part and it was almost impossible to get cleaned up. And it stunk like you can't imagine (we couldn't even leave the shoes in our front hallway it was that bad). I've never had that happen to me. So on Thursday night when he was trying to grill and it was getting dark and we were both hungry and he stepped in some dog doo-doo that had been left in a pile by our grill, he got pretty mad. He wanted to go yell at the neighbors to tell them to clean it all up - all the of doo-doo piles AND his shoes, which he had every right to ask of them, but he was so mad all he could muster was incoherent growling sentences so he wiped his shoes off on their stairs instead. At first I was upset he did that but now I think it was a pretty good idea. Hopefully we'll see the neighbors this weekend so we can talk to them in a more civil way about getting the dog piles cleaned up faster so we don't step in them when we're out trying to grill at night.

Here in Seattle where everyone has dogs and we all live on top of each other in a very tight space it is important to get your dog's doo-doo cleaned up, and in a timely manner. Especially when you have a shared backyard like we do.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Legend of the Marlboro Sleeping Bag

In my post below I mentioned that I bought a new sleeping bag this weekend. The sleeping bag that got replaced has become a legend among my friends and family and thus warrants a post all to itself.

When I was a kid my family went camping quite often so we had a variety of sleeping bags. I had a light one that was great in the super-hot summer months and a heavier synthetic one my dad had given me that was warm but had a broken zipper. Also when she wasn't using it my mom would loan me her really nice North Face down sleeping bag (this bag is probably over 30 yrs old now and is still wonderful, for those of you who may be wondering). I always dreamed of someday having a sleeping bag like hers, that was warm and cozy and packed into a fist-sized ball. When I got a little older my mom, who knows the importance of a good sleeping bag, scored big at a garage sale - she found TWO down sleeping bags of unknown age that were extremely cheap and extremely nice. The downside: front and center was the brand name: Marlboro Adventure Team. Another downside: these were not true "adventurer" sleeping bags... they weren't very light, the zippers didn't operate too smoothly, and they don't pack very small. But they were warm, and down, and actually an upgrade from what I was using.

For the next five years or so I used one of the Marlboro sleeping bags but with increasing complaints. The most annoying was the zipper, which got worse over the years. And as you may expect I got a whole lot of flak for the Marlboro name on the front, especially since I'm not really a Marlboro kinda gal (I hope this doesn't actually surprise any of my readers). And the thing that was constantly lurking in the back of my mind was that this really wasn't the North Face down sleeping bag I had always dreamed of.

So last weekend when REI was having its annual Labor Day sale and their REI brand sleeping bag was on sale for almost half what it usually was ($124), I had to try it out. And as soon as I crawled in it I knew I wouldn't get back out until my Studly Hubby agreed that we could buy it. Then he tried it out and wanted one for himself too. I know it's not North Face (which they tried to sell us but was 3X as expensive) but it packs into a tiny ball and is super lightweight and cozy, so hopefully it will be good enough for what we need. It sure felt nice! We're going camping again in a few weeks and we can't wait to try out our new bags.

Anniversary Shopping Spree

The Studly Hubby dragged me out on an anniversary weekend shopping spree last weekend. It was our fourth wedding anniversary (!!) and we decided not to go on another road trip since our summer was already crazy enough. Instead we stayed home and tried to relax by not planning anything but we got bored very quickly. A combination of being busy and being poor over the last five years meant that the thing we really wanted to do was go out and shop. We had a lot of things to buy, and we had a surprising amount of fun doing it. I definitely learned a thing or two about...

How to Make Sure You Spend a Lot of Money On a Shopping Spree:

1. Pick a weekend to shop where all the stores in the city are having sales (in this case, "Labor Day Sales") - it dumbs your senses resulting in spending more money
2. Make excuses to go to places like R.E.I. where large amounts of money can be dropped fast
3. Instead of making a direct path from the door to the thing you need, wander around a bit like take a detour through the sleeping bag and shoe departments
4. Be creative: you aren't limited just to buying things (e.g. while you're at the mall, you can go out to eat and get your hair cut... and don't forget to tip!)
5. Think of and buy things that are obnoxiously expensive and then buy two (one for you and one for your spouse)
6. When you run out of time and the stores start to close don't give up! You can spend plenty more money by ordering things on your computer.

Indeed it was a successful trip. We bought a dizzying amount of stuff:

This is all of our new stuff. The shoes in front are the Studly Hubby's, and our two new pairs of running shoes are right behind them.

Below is the sleeping bag, the most expensive thing we bought. We got matching His and Hers but the Hers one was backordered so we actually haven't gotten it yet. The Studly Hubby modeled the His sleeping bag below. It is a down sleeping bag and has a black stuff-bag hanging from it in the picture. The guy at REI tried to convince us to buy the more expensive brand (this was REI brand) but this was such a huge leap from our old sleeping bags and we couldn't be convinced there was anything better.



This is my new winter coat (below). This is the first winter coat I have bought that was not on sale. In the past I have gone to great extremes to buy affordable winter coats which usually meant buying men's coats in odd colors and sizes (and often used). Considering your coat is one of the things you wear the most (especially in Minnesota) I probably should have just spent money to get a nice one. So this year, now that I live in a milder climate, I finally did just that. It was from L.L. Bean.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More about my garden

While my mom and grandma were here visiting, my mom spent just about every spare second hovering around my yard making big plans and doing more weeding. So when we had some wine and then cruised over to the garden store she was all ready to fill up a big cart with pretty things that we could use to further beautify the garden.

As I have already shown, this is before (waaay before, when I hadn't done anything yet):


And now...
I potted impatiens in one pot (on the left) and something else pretty in another (on the right) and pansies in yet another (far right) and put them along the fence, and we weeded back all the vines and things some more and planted several kinds of Coleus in the ground. It looks so pretty!! The pots and pot stands were all discovered laying around the yard and in the garage, and most of the dirt in the yard was taken from an old compost pile we pulled up (Seattle picks up compost now and you can buy the composted material for really cheap).

And my snap peas are popping up and looking happy...
They are acting like they want to climb on something but I didn't give them anything to climb on (they are "bush" peas and supposedly don't need anything). So they are starting to climb on each other. When I noticed I called my mom in a panic to ask if I should move them apart or put in poles for them to climb up and she laughed at me and said no, they should be ok as they are. So I am trying to let my snap peas grow on their own and not fester over them so they can learn independence and grow up to be productive members of my garden in their own due time. Supposedly we have a long growing season here so I will be patient and see how it all turns out. My neighbors tomatos aren't even turning red yet which would put me in a panic in the midwest but I think it'll all be ok since the climate is so mild here.

So that is my garden. Looking good eh?

Slugs, continued

Several of you have informed me that the Slug in the Rainforest was in fact a banana slug, and apparently there is a song about them:
Banana Slug, Banana Slug,
When some people see you, they just say Ugh.
Banana Slug, Banana Slug,
Next time I see you, I'll give you a hug.
This is from my Uncle Bruce, who got the lyrics from a Mary Miche CD "Earthy Tunes" but thinks it's originally from The Banana Slug String Band. What a great name!! Thanks Bruce!

My advice: don't hug that banana slug. I have a friend that accidentally stepped on one and it squirted all the way up her leg, so it's best to be very careful.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Slug in the Rainforest

Yet again I am falling behind on my posts. Almost two weeks ago my mom and Grandma flew out from Iowa to visit us in Seattle (second time for Mom, first time for Grandma). In five short days we did a lot of stuff: we went out to Snoqualmie falls and wandered around the country a bit, we took a ferry out to Bainbridge Island and toured through Bloedel Reserve, an estate donated to the cause of creating a 'sanctuary for wild-life and the human spirit.' We drove around Seattle, saw Lake Washington and Fisherman's Wharf, went to a wine tasting in wine country and then drunkenly spent a bunch of money at Molbak's garden store and further improved our backyard, then we did a looooong day trip out to the Olympic Peninsula and saw many of the sights there: the Rainforest, Lake Crescent, Hurricane Ridge, and Port Angeles. And of course, we went to Pike's Market and walked around downtown a little bit.

And what was my favorite part? The rainforest! The moss and huge trees and big roots and all were just surreal. And there was a slug there the side of a cigar! It made my mom jump and scream like a girl.

The French-inspired Bloedel Reserve original homestead, built in the 1900s



The trumpet swans at the Bloedel reserve


Three beautiful ladies in Seattle - with a beautiful river in Olympic Peninsula in the background.

Crazy trees in the rainforest - there is so much grown on the ground that new trees grow on top of old trees and their roots spread all over

The slug in the rainforest - almost actual size


Update: my mom has informed me that the slug was actually at Bloedel reserve, but they had a 'moss garden' that was a lot like the rainforest so I decided not to change my post title.