Bikin’ It!

The weather is finally nice here in the Pacific Northwest, so I figure that I have at least another month or two of a suitable climate for biking to work. Yes, I’m kind of a fair-weather biker. But my bike it totally pimped out now and is great for commuting!

  • Note the rad fenders that prevent skunk stripes on my back (for when it rains, and when I have to bike in it, which will probably not happen very often)!
  • Observe the cushy seat that provides more padding for my bum!
  • Marvel at the bike rack that Chris just installed so that I don’t have to ride around with my backpack on, rendering my hands tingly and my back achy (and I also don’t resemble a turtle so much)!

And I’m all safety geared up too, with lights (when I need them), a reflective BRIGHT neon yellow jacket, and aerodynamic helmet (although, this does little for diminishing my turtle-like appearance).

It’s only 4.3 miles to work if I follow a route with bike lanes, so I figured I should probably try to bike more. So far this summer I’ve biked to work 7 days (biking 60.2 miles), which has saved the environment 48 lbs of carbon dioxide, 1309 gms of carbon monoxide, and 2 gallons of gasoline. Some people in my office bike 60 miles per day, so I know I can do better – how ’bout I update you at the end of the summer and let you know how it’s going?

In the meantime, read this: On Biking – Why Can’t the US Learn Lessons from Europe?

Extreme Home Makeover – Booyah!

The above picture is of our back yard, and it was taken about a month ago. The flower bed areas were a mess, there was chain-link fence against the house, random metal and wood poles sticking up from the ground, and general crappiness.

This was taken after our house was painted. The front looked great (see pictures from previous post), but the back still needed work. I trimmed the rose bushes and got rid of all the dead branches, but we still had a way to go.

Finally, last weekend, Chris’ teacher friends built our new deck! It is awesome!!! It is made out of composite material, but the deck actually looks more like wood than fake stuff. There’s a built-in bench in the corner, and we’ll probably put a custom-built table over the heat pump to hide it and have a useable surface. Also, we got rid of the weedy flower beds, random metal structures, and have room for our potted plants. We’re going to install landscaping around the deck starting at the end of the stairs (where the potted bush is), wrapping around to the house (where the rose bushes are). We’ll also put in some paving stones for a walkway, and we’re going to build a fire pit about where I stood to take the picture. Pretty sweet, huh?

I fear I’m becoming more domestic, dammit.

Ahhhh, the married life. It seems like it’s pretty much the same as the single life, with one major exception. Ok, two major exceptions. One of them I’ll not discuss today (dating anyone other than Chris is behind me, and Chris and I are still dating anyway), and the other is this: I suddenly want to do yard work. WTF is up with that???

We’ve got a lot of home improvement projects on deck (heh heh) this summer, including building a deck. We already painted the house, from a grayish-green rainy overcast color to a bright and sunny (a.k.a. “butter tart”) yellow. It is very yellow! There were two other “yellow” houses on our street, but after we painted our house, I don’t think they can call themselves yellow any longer. All other yellows must bow down before us!!! We also had our front porch and side porch (with the hot tub) stained a nice redwood color, which goes very nicely with the shutters and bricks.

This is the BEFORE picture. Sorry the picture kind of sucks – I was using the wrong setting on my camera, it got over-exposed, and I wasn’t able to do much to fix it in photoshop. But you get the idea. Sad color, weeds galore, boo-hoo.

This is the AFTER picture! Sunny! Yellow! landscaping under control! Flowers on the porch!!! We’ll be posting pictures of the back yard after we get the deck in. It will be an even more dramatic makeover! And you will be jealous of our awesome back yard!

So, along with the painting, I definitely wanted to clean up the yard. I bought lots of flowers (hanging basket, pots, long rectangle planters, and even a strawberry pot that I learned how to plant by watching a you-tube video) and repotted my old plants that were in desperate need of attention. There are three rose bushes in the back yard and I took out the waist-high grass and weeds surrounding them, trimmed the hell out of all their dead branches, and got rid of the aphids. I lopped off more of the butterfly bush, which thought it was going to be the boss of me, but it was wrong. I weeded the tall grass from the front yard, and chopped off the dead hydrangea branches. Everything is starting to grow back – the roses are much improved, and you can tell we have bulbs in the front. About a week ago we bought a weed-whacker – I started on the side of the front yard, but that will be a major task. But I think I’ve got it under control so far!

This is the strawberry pot that was abandoned by the previous home-owners. I emptied it out, watched a you-tube video, then Chris and I planted it with all sorts of herbs and flowers. We even put a PVC watering tube down the middle of it. It looks even better now because it has purple, blue, and yellow flowers blooming from the different plants oozing out of the openings.

Today, I decided not to go to work so that Chris and I could hang out (he leaves for nearly 2 weeks on Friday to go on tour with the Army band). We went to Home Depot and bought a few gardening tools, and scoped out some pavers for below the stairs of our impending deck. The deck is going to be suuuhh-weeeeeettt!!! Built-in benches, then stairs that will eventually lead out to a fire pit in the back yard. We’re going to landscape around the back of the deck to hide the septic tank covers, too. After Home Depot, I bought some blackberry bush herbicide, planted (almost all) the rest of the flowers that need a home, and glared at the surviving weeds in the front yard. Someday, my pretties, you will be mine!

All this domesticity is freaking me out. I’m going to go to work tomorrow and talk about fish.

A 2010 Retrospective…Lamenting the Passing of the Best Year Ever!

Happy new year, everyone! It is with great sadness that I say goodbye to 2010, the Best Year Ever. Behold 2010, a year that sidled into my life without presumption or pretense, and now a year that has slipped away like grains of sand through an hourglass…these are the days of our lives…Wait – haven’t I heard that somewhere before? Dang, and I don’t even watch soaps!

But in all *seriousness* (because we all know how Serious I am), 2010 was a fantastic year. I’m left wondering how 2011 could possibly be any better, seeing as how so many crazy-rad things happened in the past 12 months. Like what, you ask? Well, how about the following:

So, can you now understand why I might be sad to say farewell to 2010? Yes? Oh, I know…your response is that 2011 will probably be even better. How is that even possible? Well, I’ll keep you posted on how that works out – be sure to check back soon!

P.S. – Did you notice how I kept last year’s resolution? I totally maintained this blog! I posted way more than in 2009…let’s see if I can keep it up in 2011!

Zoom Zoom!

I must say, I had an excellent year, and an excellent Christmas. The day after, even though I received many nice gifts from my loved ones, I bought myself a fancy-pants krimmis present. It’s a velocity red 2010 Mazda 3 grand touring s – woo hoo!!! Never been used, although it was driven to the McMinnville dealership and back (hence the 215 miles on the odometer). It’s got all the fancy bells and whistles, too! I’ve never bought a new car before, and I don’t know if I ever will again, but the old Subie has been thinking about retirement for a while now so I figured I’d give her a break.

I think my hands *still* hurt!

Chris and I have been taking advantage of deals in Portland and Vancouver through Groupon and Living Social, which in my opinion, are Awe-Some. First of all, you get ideas for fun things to do or places to visit that you might not’ve otherwise known about. Second, you get to do/buy these things at a pretty good price. So yippee! If you haven’t checked them out, I highly recommend Groupon and Living Social.

And yes, I’m still working for the Fish and Wildlife Service – I’ve not (yet) decided to change careers and enter into the social media advertising realm, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, I bought a Living Social deal good for four passes at a local bouldering gym. It has been easily over a year (maybe 2?) since I last put on my climbing shoes and tied a chalk bag around my waist. Bouldering was fun, but I still enjoy being tied into a rope and climbing up up up instead of climbing sideways, up until you realize it’s no longer safe without a rope, and then down again. The kids wall was the best because when you got to the top you could take the slide down. The only bad part about the kids wall was all the kids that were in our way. Dang kids!

I’ve got my concentration face on…

And I think I can still smell the rental shoes there. The whole place smelled like someone tried to smoke a cigar that contained rolled up sweaty feet.

What’s next, you ask? This Sunday, Chris and I will be taking a 5.5 hour scenic wine-tasting tour of Willamette Valley via limousine with a couple of friends. Only $40 per person, through Living Social!

New Digs

I know I’ve totally been slacking on my blog. Sorry! But facebook has been getting a lot of my attention – so if you’re on facebook, you can check me out there. I’ll attempt to catch up a little bit now though, for all you non-facebookers…

First off, before I left for Portland, my friends in Carlsbad threw me an AWESOME going away party. Susan hosted and nearly all my friends made it to the party – there was even a Snow White pinata filled with mini-alcohol beverages, courtesy of Michelle and jeep. And the food was awesome! Everyone chipped in to get me a $170 gift card to Powell’s Books, and I gave everyone an appropriate Non-Performance Award.

The next day several folks helped me with loading the truck. At one point they were convinced that not everything would fit and I almost had to rent a trailer, which I was definitely not looking forward to doing. However, everything was jammed in – not a square foot to spare – and only two things didn’t make it: the cat tree was donated to Sparkles (Michelle’s new kitty), and jeep had to bring up my office chair the following week. It always works out in the end, but I’m thinking that my next move will entail a 17′ truck instead of a 14′ truck. At least.

It took two full days of driving, but Mom and I finally got to Portland. My apartment managers are assholes, but I’m trying to forget about that. I got really lucky in finding my apartment – it’s in the Bretnor Building, constructed in 1912, on NW 20th and Lovejoy – right in the heart of all the cool stuff that happens in Portland. 21st and 23rd have a ton of restaurants and shops, and I’m about 6 blocks from the Pearl District. Everything is within walking distance, too – aside from work, I don’t have to drive my car. I’ve walked to Powell’s Books a few times, and even down to the Saturday Market. And now that I have a bike, it will be even easier.

I had to start my new job at the Columbia River Fisheries Program Office the next week – I wish I had some more time off, but dems de breaks. Gots to make money, you know. The new office is nice – lots of native plants around the building, and one entire wall of my office is windows that look out into a virtual jungle of bushes and trees. I’ve been enjoying watching hummingbirds and chickadees – and a towhee – along with bees and other insects buzzing around. My office seems to have quite the spider population in it, but so far it hasn’t been a problem. Once those little guys grow up though…that’s another story…

Another Apartment Nightmare – NOT a Halloween Story!

I wish this was a Halloween tale; alas, this is just the horrific story of my life on Morning View Drive. Last week we were informed that all of the pipes in each building are going to be replaced. So, we were to secure our valuables, have our pets contained, and move everything out of the bathroom and under the kitchen cabinets so that the plumbers could access the necessary areas. Luckily, Mark was here this past week – I got a call on Monday from the landlady that they wanted to enter my apartment and start work that day. So, Mark moved all my stuff into the living room. When I got home, I saw that this was going to be a lot more disruptive than originally anticipated – check it out:

My dining area; workers were supposed to be done by 4:30 each day, but were there until about 6:00. They moved all their crap out of the way, but all my furniture had to be shoved into the living room for about a week.

My bathroom – everything was moved into the living room. They took down the only mirror I have in the apartment!

My living room. Where’s the couch??? How do I get to the litter boxes??? What the hell is going on here???

Anyway, I think the plumbing is done now. I think this week they will be patching the holes that were cut in the bathroom, dining room, and kitchen, then painting the whole thing. At some point they’ll be coming in to clean the carpets, replace faucets and sinks, and the ceiling fan. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. I told the landlady – gee, all these renovations are great, but I’m living here. What a pain! And, my rent will be going up. Surprise, surprise.

Halloween Pictures at Last!

It was a strange Halloween. I think the fires had a lot to do with it – I didn’t decorate my house like I did last year, and I only got four groups of kids at my door. The good thing was that I didn’t have any groups of little thugs this year, the bad thing was that I had a whole lot of candy left over. Anyway, a few people still got dressed up at work, me included. I was a tiger…grrr! And, I still put decorations up in my office. It’s weird doing Halloween in SoCal – the weather was so warm, and it just doesn’t feel like autumn, and that things are dying or going to sleep for winter. At any rate, here are some pictures – enjoy!

My office was very spooky. Besides the Halloween decorations, there are lots of project files and piles of papers that have yet to be addressed. Boo!

Cara, me, and Heidi (above).

My downstairs neighbor went a little nuts. When I came home from work, a gigantic pumpkin was leering at me, and all those skeletons? Yup, motion-activated cackling is what I was listening to all night long.

The Roof – The Roof – The Roof is on Fire…

Actually, it’s not on fire yet. I stayed home from work today – still not over my cold – but it turns out that my office closed anyway due to the fires, so it’s a good thing that I didn’t go in. It’s pretty chaotic out there from what I understand – lots of nearby areas are being evacuated, and my downstairs neighbor has already packed up and left. My doctor cancelled my appointment that I had tomorrow morning because her house burned down, and Zoe’s checkup was rescheduled for Wednesday. Anyway, here are some pictures I took this morning, around 7:30 am, then again at 10:30 am. I didn’t alter the color in these photos in any way – crazy, huh???