Dottie the Halloween Hotdog

by Nick on Nov 1, 2010


New Threshold

by Nick

As winter approaches the cold tile floor of the Generals kitchen announced a draft create by a gap under the back door.  After browsing some expensive options to remedy this situation, I realized that a three foot piece of base board I purchased at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore would serve the same purpose  in raising the floor and closing the gap.  I removed four screws from the old piece of aluminum shown in the first image, cut the base board to size and added five new screw.  The door now closes firmly, and no draft causes the tile to be so unbearably cold on my feet in the morning.

Plum Tree Planting

by Nick

Brake Job

by Nick on Oct 27, 2010

After talking with my brother in law, going to an auto parts store, my mechanic, an auto parts store again, talking with my neighbor, watching videos on the internet, talking to two guys at work, going to auto zone again, buying tools at a hardware store, texting my brother in law, and watching more videos on the internet...I changed my brakes pads and rotors all by my self.

Slideshow of Bathroom Remediation & Improvement

by Nick on Jul 7, 2010

Slideshow of Landscaping Project

by Nick on Jun 29, 2010

Cirque du Soleil Alegria = Joy (No, it literally means joy in Spanish)

by Nick

Three weekends ago we had eight visitors. That is my parents, their two dogs, my sister, brother in law, and two more dogs.  This was also in the quasi-middle of out bathroom-mold-shenanigans.  We had one shower and toilet between us.  It was a hoot, no, a hoot and a half.

For this visit each couple picked a night and cooked a meal.  My parents made a dish called a "Low Country Boil;" which was a Louisiana style soups with shrimp, sausage, carrots, corn on-the-cob, and a bunch of other deliciousness.  Maggie and Leni made some kebabs.  Which again included shrimp.  Shrimp is a rarely eaten at The General, and I particularly enjoyed having it twice.  Claire and I made portabella burgers. Doing meals this way made the weekend relaxing and fun.

One of the major highlights of the visit was going to a Cirque du Soleil performance called "Alegria."  It was the most amazing stage performance I have ever seen.  I constantly found my mouth open, and heart skipping a beat in fear and excitement.  Maggie had a good post over at Snack for Later about the weekend, and more details about Cirque du Soleil.  Thanks Mom and Dad for treating us to the show.

Here are a few other highlights from the weekend:
  • Going to a movie (a rare treat for us)
  • Playing board games (including one in which my father pantomimed the word "dump")
  • Shopping for landscaping rock with my parents
  • Watching the dogs play/interact/not interact with each other.
  • Going to Saint Michael and All angels with my whole family.

Sun Tea

by Nick on Jun 19, 2010

While working on our landscaping project I took a picture of our tea brewing in the Sun's oppressive rays.

Summer Mold

by Claire on Jun 3, 2010

As it has been far too long since we posted, I'll stick to the generic list of highlights. (Pictures are at the bottom of this post. I would recommend saving them for the end as a reward for yourself if you make it through the novella below.)

1. The school year is officially over. For Nick, this means the end of his Space Museum project boasting 50+ group projects consisting of painted styrofoam balls and duct-taped cardboard. For me, this was the end of a 10-week Holocaust unit with my eighth graders; I must say, I was generally impressed by their maturity.

2. We found we will survive the APS budget crisis with our jobs intact. Nick will have the EXACT same position next year (l u c k y) and I will be teaching social studies to 6th graders as well as a math elective.  (Apparently this will be a course to show the fun angle of math, or at least the acutely intriguing angle. Think tangrams, logic puzzles, card games, and lots of hands-on stuff. If you would like to add your favorite math memories to this list, I would be grateful!) I am both daunted and thrilled by this new position, though I think I will miss the eighth graders.

3. My family (mom, dad, and sister) all came out to work on wedding is going to be gorgeous! You will not persuade me to give away any of the details here, I'm afraid.

4. While we have been reading for pleasure like no other, we are slightly intimidated by the fact that The General is slowly dying on the inside and taking all of our savings to the grave. Actually, I am being slightly sarcastic. Last month, we discovered dripping inside the wall of the master bath. This month a plumber came and fixed it; luckily there wasn't any mold and it was a relatively easy repair. While we were waiting for that shower to be mended, we used the hall bath. Then we decided to paint the hall bath. As I was lining the baseboard with blue tape, I noticed a little air bubble in the wall. I pushed it; it moved. I peeled off the paint only to find three square feet of soaking wet drywall. A little chipping at it with a screwdriver revealed multiple layers of different colored paint and plaster. Evidently there is a leak in this wall as well, that could be as old as the house (60 years). We were told that the best case scenario is removing a couple of tiles and fixing the leak. The worst case scenario is tearing out the kitchen cabinets and the bathroom and re-building the studs of the wall. It all depends on the quantity of mold within the wall. The plumber will be here tomorrow. Then we will know the verdict.... build walls or xeriscape? Until then, ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

5. When we lived in the Puget Sound, we found an old lobster float on the beach. It is a little like a light-weight bowling ball. After Dottie popped her beloved soccer ball, we gave her the more durable float. She has been enjoying conquering it in the backyard. 

Pictures below: 
1. Dottie digging out our planter, with the onlooking support of her "cousin" Sierra. 
2. Mystery $$$$$ mold in hall bath.
3. The hole in the wall to fix the shower in the master bath. 
4. The repaired shower pipe. 


by Claire on Mar 7, 2010

Ha! Pathetic. 

Nick and all the dogs. Lucy and Sierra were staying with us while Maggie (Nick's sister) and Leni were out of town. 

She really is a loving puppy. Sorry I can't rotate the picture. 

The queen of awkward arms.

We will be taking Dottie backpacking in a week. She has a backpack. (Don't think less of us... we want her to carry her own food and pack out her poop as necessary.) I remember taking pictures of her in it the other day, but they somehow were not on the camera. 
We will post those soon.

2 more hours. FOR FREE!!!!

by Claire on Feb 4, 2010

I think I would pay money to have extra time to clean, cook, go for a run, grade essays, play piano, and hug Dottie.
Oh, wait.
Teachers already do that.

Today is a snow delay.
People think the kids like it, but they have no sweet idea just how much WE like it.
I am going to do all of the things above before 9:30.
Actually, probably just the grading, the run, and the piano playing.
I make impossible lists for myself.
What a happy surprise.


by Claire on Jan 18, 2010

Monday, 7:38 pm:

It's raining outside. We didn't notice until we realized we forgot our clean dry clothes on the line. Too bad rain is forecasted for the next five days. Awesome.

$4,000 Dollar Weekend

by Claire

This weekend and its surrounding days saw us spend 4,000 dollars. It was mostly spent on poop. (Here is the time you can bow out...the following post may involve some bathroom humor. Well, I suppose when it costs this much it can't quite be classified as humor. If you wish to continue, don't say I didn't warn you!)

Friday, 6:15 am:
Nick wakes up with a splitting headache, and contemplates using his first sick day of the year.

Friday, 6:45 am:
Nick steps out of the shower to find a half-inch of standing water in our little bathroom. 

Friday, 6:55 am:
Nick and I are both on the floor with sponges panicking about how much it will cost. And what is in the first place. At this point we remember our home inspection from two months ago…and that we would need to replace the main sewer line in the next few years. Downcast looks and sighs.

Friday, 7:28 am:
Nick takes his first sick/personal day, and I head to work.

Friday, 7:30 am-12:10 pm:
Nick dismantles the toilet to discover the flood source: A broken toilet seal, and standing water in the drain pipe. He replaces the seal, and spends time calling various plumbers for information and estimates.

Friday, 12:11 pm:
I am on my lunch break, Nick calls to let me know the good news! A local plumbing/sewer company thinks they can solve the problem for a couple hundred dollars and a scope.

Friday, 3:37 pm:
I am home from work and standing in the yard with the plumbing guy and Nick. Bad news. The sewer line is clogged, and will need replacing. They will need to tear up the street. We ask what we can do in the mean time, he tells us to try to not drain too much water. Washing hands is okay, and a toilet flush once in a while is fine too, as long as we use the toilet Costa Rica style. (This means no toilet paper goes into the pot, but rather the nearby trash can.) Anything more could be a problem, as the clog makes the line drain really really ridiculously slowly. It will be 3.2 thousand dollars, and they might be able to fix it Tuesday or Wednesday.

We’re discouraged, but yet feel confident about toughing it out for a few days. Who needs laundry or a dishwasher? Not us.

Friday, 7:11 pm:
Dinner dishes are washed in the sink over our large soup pot; the gray water is emptied on the ancient bush on the corner of our lot.

Saturday, 5:10 am:
Dottie whines. It’s my turn to take her out so I do. I congratulate her on “doing her business” then notice that she seems to be using the grass as toilet paper. Worried that she has diarrhea again, I run inside to grab a flashlight. It is a solid log, but WAIT! GROSS! There are little pieces of white rice crawling all over it.

Saturday, 5:12 am:
The internet confirms my fears. Tapeworms. I wake up Nick, and we call the emergency vet. They say we can come in at 9:00, and that it will probably cost about $150 dollars.

Saturday, 7:00 am:
Nick and I run three miles, panting out words like sewer, savings, and stool.

Saturday, 8:00 am:
I take a shower, awkwardly dancing around a five-gallon bucket to catch the run-off. I dump its contents on said bush.

Saturday, 10:10 am:
The vet ends up giving Dottie two more vaccinations, a blood test, heartworm preventative meds, the tapeworm killer, a skin scrape for mites, an antibiotic for mites, and a medication for mites. The vet says I should wash all of Dottie’s bedding with a little bleach, and we should wash our clothes as well. I write a check for $550.23.

Saturday, 10:17 am:
I am driving home when I remember that we can’t use our washing machine.

Saturday, 10:23 am:
We start a load of wash anyway. We arrange the drain hose from the machine into the beloved five-gallon bucket sitting in the drop sink.

Saturday, 10:37 am:
Apparently the five-gallon bucket isn’t big enough. We are on the floor in the laundry room with sponges again.

Saturday,  10:41 am:
Dottie does her business again. Nick immediately inspects and bags it, then bleaches the ground. We both wash our hands, Nick from legitimate fear, me from the heebie-jeebies.

Saturday, 10:44-49 am:
We are in the laundry room waiting for the second rinse cycle. It arrives, and we create a two-person assembly line that hauls water from bucket to bucket to bucket to bush. Success!

I’ll leave the rest of the weekend up to your imagination.

Sunday, 11:32 am:
Nick and I realize just how much water we have been able to repurpose to the corner bush. We think we want to try to continue conserving like this after the sewer line is replaced.  It feels a bit like Little-House-on-General-Chennault.

To end on a positive note, thanks to Ben from D.C. for the lovely visit! You were the high point in an otherwise crappy weekend. 

Dottie Learns to Sit

by Nick on Jan 3, 2010

Dottie Preparation

by Nick on Jan 1, 2010

This spring or summer Claire and I are planning to build a cedar fence which will extend our backyard to enclose a large cottonwood tree on the south side of our property.  This will allow us a lot more living and gardening work space plus the shaded comfort the tree will supply.  Because we were planning on building a new fence in the spring, we were not planning to repair a mortarless section of the existing block fence.  That was until we knew Dottie might be coming to live with us.  Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. we realized that we needed to fix the fence before Dottie and her human companions came to inspect our back yard.  After a trip to the hardware store, some trial and error with the cement's consistency, and a few hours in the cold wind, our block fence was finished just before sunset.  This was my first time doing any masonry, and I was quite impressed by Claire's knowledge and experience building a patio as a child with her father.

A condition for our adopting Dottie was that we provide a place for her to be able to stay warm when we are not home.  At least for this first winter on really cold days she will be staying in the kitchen where we have built some wooden gates to keep her from getting to the rest of the house.  On warmer winter days Dottie will be staying in an insulated dog house we built for her.  My sister Maggie and brother-in-law Leni had a dog house which they no longer needed, and were kind enough to drive it down from Los Alamos where they recently moved.  Leni and I removed the top of the dog house brought in the walls several inches, and added recycled paper insulation (GreenFiller) we purchased at the hardware store.  (For those of you playing at home, the R-value for this type of insulation is 13-60 depending on the thickness of the wall.)  We then added a recessed roof, added insulation to the top, and put the original roof back on.  It turned out well, and I am thankful to have been able to work on this with Leni.  The final step is to line the floor with cardboard.  We chose this type of floor insulation because it has a reasonable R-value when stacked several inches, and is easy to replace should Dottie, ahem, eliminate on  her bedding.

And for those of you who read this far, here are some pictures of Dottie!