This was the view from the lanai of the condo we stayed at on Maui, where we've been (along with Oahu) for the last week. Just arrived on the red eye home to gloriously gray and cool Portland and cannot wait to climb into my own bed and get back into the Pacific time zone. Ocean waters are good for any sea loving heart, but this little mermaid's flippers are definitely most at home in cooler northern waters.
Today's airplane bento lunch, for the Sally Lake City to St. Louis leg of my trip. My seatmate had his window closed so it doesn't look so great, but it held up nicely in my carry-on after being tossed and tumbled and jostled about from house to car to airport to security to plane to another airport to another plane. Not too shabby.
(I know I've been lax about posting bento pics for awhile. I have been both packing and taking pics of them, just haven't gotten around to uploading. Someday.)
They started the tear up on Friday so of course I had to seize my last opportunity for a foot selfe on the iconic Portland airport carpet (if you've somehow missed the big to do about the replacement and are wondering what the big deal is about a freaking carpet...well, Google is your friend).
So Sal and I happened to stumble upon Liberace's furniture sale today in our quest for a new couch. Until today, I did not know that glittery gem trimmed cabinets and metallic pearlescent lizard skin textured dressers were a thing that existed in this world. I was also not aware that pearlescent white vinyl chairs with ginormous fake diamonds embedded in the middle of the seat backs were a thing that a human person alive and breathing in this dimension would not only make and sell, but buy and put in a room where food is served. And then nod to themselves with satisfaction and say, "Yes, this looks good."
Bless the person who would buy this furniture, truly. Bless the furniture maker who caters to them. Bless anyone who would need a 6 foot jewelry cabinet in black faux snake skin with a big rhinestone butterflyhandle.
And now the vintage 40s/50s style red couch I want doesn't sound so crazy.
"Oh, look. We have the white chicken in our bed. I have to go get the number off the pole and call now."
This is the combination of words Sal just said about 20 minutes ago as he happened to glance out the kitchen window, then took off out the front door. What the what?
I'm in full-on does-not-compute-blue-screen-of-death-void-null-error mode. Chicken? What chicken? "The chicken" implies a specific chicken, an expected one, which is odd since we don't, you know, have any chickens. The little hamster wheels in my brain are spinning furiously as I try to sort out what he's just said, trailing behind him in the blazing heat. (Trying to figure out wtf he was talking about was the only thing that could've enticed me outside at these temperatures.) The "bed" part I realize must be one of the raised garden beds, but what the everloving hell does a pole (light? telephone? North?) and a number have to do with anything?
By the time I get to the front porch, I have concocted a rough theory that there's a white chicken statue/figurine/object of some sort that has been left in our garden bed by some mysterious prankster, and that this is a random underground Portlandia sort of game that Sal has heard about and knows what's required next. That this white chicken whatever-the-hell has a phone number on it that you're supposed to call when you find the chicken for your instructions on where to leave it next. I haven't quite figured out how the pole fits into the scheme of things, but I'm only about 10 seconds into this adventure so it's early yet.
Welcome to the inside of my brain. It's scary in here.
Sal's down to the street level by this point and hollers over his shoulder to watch the chicken. As one does. So I did. I go around the side of the house to the garden beds and I hear rustling and then see a dart of white and then feathers. "WHAT." I'm loud enough for the neighbors to hear. There is an actual white chicken darting around our yard. My brain-hamsters are now no longer in their wheels, but instead running madly about and crashing into each other.
So there's a "Lost Chicken" flyer on the lightpole at the corner of our street (not as uncommon as you'd think) that Sal noticed on his bike rides and turns out, it's the very white chicken in our yard that I'm at that very moment "WHAT"-ing about while he's calling the number on the flyer.
He has to leave a voicemail, but must first listen to a long message because the number is apparently for a business, and the message is about hoop yoga classes, because of course it is. As he waits to leave the message about their lost white chicken running around in our yard, he says, "Well I feel like a true Portlander now."
(A few minutes after leaving the message, the chicken flew clear across the street and the neighbor's house/yard into Baltimore Woods, and there's probably a "why did the chicken cross the road" joke in there but I can't tease it out because my brain is still rebooting.)
*Title taken from a famous Lewis Black routine.
“Where will this all lead? I know that many suggest we are going down a slippery slope that will have no moral boundaries. To those who truly harbor such fears, I can only say this: Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other…and rise.”
-- Concluding paragraph from the federal judge’s decision striking down Oregon’s same sex marriage ban. It’s taken 10 years to reverse what should never have passed in the first place, but love still wins in the end.
When I asked Sal what he wanted to do for his 40th birthday, he decided he wanted to ride the Banks-Vernonia Trail (an old RR line from Banks to Vernonia that's been converted to a 21 mile biking/walking trail). I'm sure he was thinking simple: load his bike on the rack, drive over, ride the trail roundtrip, come home. I don't know why he'd think simple... after 18 years of marriage, surely he must know by now that I can make anything into an extravaganza.
So here we are in our room of the delightful B&B in Vernonia where we're staying for the weekend, complete with birthday balloons and flowers for a bit of festivity. We've enjoyed lunch at our favorite place in town (Blue House Cafe OMG ZATAAR FLATBREAD YOU ARE THE GREATEST) and are currently kicked back in decadent leisure on a gorgeous evening doing absolutely nothing productive. Tomorrow (the actual big day), there's homemade breakfast delivered to our door (srsly great B&B), an awesome trail ride he can take the whole day to enjoy, our famous and fabulous smorgasbord dinner, the most incredible cake ever (made by one of his former students), and presents that will blow his mind.
Sitting in the second row at Helium Comedy Club, waiting for Christopher Titus (one of my fave comedians) to take the stage. I am maybe 10 feet from his mic. Holy crap! Thanks, Sally, for a great b-day gift!
1. Sal has been surprising me with gifts almost daily for the last week or so. The latest gift -- the 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (containing all three cuts), one of my all-time favorite movies ever ever ever -- came on a day when I really needed a little pampering. So he's still pretty much the greatest.
2. My discovery of a bento emoji on my phone today has made me hyperactively excited out of all proportion with the importance of the discovery. I may have seriously considered texting everyone in my contacts so that I could use it over and over.
3. The Veronica Mars movie comes out tomorrow and if the last few weeks hadn't been packed to the gills with tasks, plans, and appointments, I would've indulged my desire to marathon the show and get reaquainted with Veronica, Logan, and the gang. The next three days are similarly jam packed so I'll have to wait until Sunday to see the movie. Boo.
- seasoned chicken strips
- steamed broccoli
- nut & berry trail mix
I'll have an update soon (with lots of pictures!) of all the home improvement sanity taking place at Hall House, but in the interim, wanted to get a bento post up. It's been almost a year since I posted one, even though I've been doing bentos since, including taking pictures, just haven't been posting them. But I got all of my pictures from the last year uploaded yesterday and I'm going to try to resume posting them as they happen.
There weren't even that many to post, at least compared to years past. It's not Bento Burnout, exactly, but I've just been ambivalent. It happens. (Bento 2.0, Baby! was obviously a reboot after a similar period of meh.) I do still enjoy doing my bentos, just not like before.
But I took advantage of the home improvement binge to clean out the cabinet where I store my boxes and gear and reorganize everything so it's all easier to get to. The collection had outgrown the bin I had for them, and reorganizing the bathroom cabinet freed up some organizers that weren't working well in there but fit perfectly in the cabinet I use for bento stuff. (I love it when that happens!) And I got a new box (purple Lunchbot Uno, woot woot!) for my birthday that I haven't used yet, so I have that to look forward to. (Today's lunch needed heating, so a metal box wasn't going to work.)
So here I am, posting my lunches again and planning to continue. Not the prettiest one I've ever done, but at least I did it.
- chicken, broccoli, and cheese baked potato
- carrot sticks and peanut butter
- Granny Smith apple half; berry nut trail mix
- Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Bento -- breakfast (greek yogurt and vanilla granola in a Syrup O'Clock sidecar) and snack (Granny Smith apple half and almonds in the Tomo Tomi sidecar)
[The pictures I posted to catch up can be found in the daily bento gallery, starting about halfway down on page 4 and onto page 5.)
For those just tuning in, after months (and months and months) of planning and financial wrangling, our massive series of home improvement projects are now underway. The good news is that we're going to be getting it all over with in one fell, relatively short, swoop. The bad news is that we might possibly be crazy. Because our plan involves accomplishing almost all of the following in 2 weeks:
- new roof and gutters
- repairing dry rot and water intrusion damage on the front facia and west gable/porch overhang
- replacing all the plumbing (including installing shutoff valves, which I never realized how much I would appreciate in my previous life as a non-homeowner)
- new furnace and thermostat
- new heat pump to replace the decrepit and long-overdue-for-replacement water heater (no seriously, we have pushed our luck beyond belief with this water heater -- it was past its life when we moved in...12 years ago)
- bathroom renovation, including: refinishing the original cast iron clawfoot tub; tearing out the tile floor and replacing with a new tile floor; installing wainscoting with trim and new baseboards; stripping paint from trim, window frame, both cupboards, and all drawers/doors; painting walls, cupboards, trim, ceiling; installing bathroom ventilation; installing a clawfoot shower kit; replacing the sink with a new pedestal sink & fixtures; replacing the light fixture; replacing window and cabinet hardware
- replacing the attic dormer window (a 7 foot, 3 unit casement window) with a custom wood frame window
- 12(!) Indow Windows for the main floor and attic (to make our original, single pane windows more energy efficient)
- energy efficiency improvements -- air sealing, duct sealing, rim joist insulation, attic insulation, wall insulation, floor insulation
Today was actually Day 4 of this whacked out home improvement schedule of ours. The whole rolling snowball of insanity actually began last Wednesday -- which, I will note, was also my birthday -- with the removal of the tub. As mentioned above, it's the original cast iron clawfoot tub, over 100 years old and weighing about the same as a dumptruck. Much of its porcelain finish has worn off over the decades so we're having it refinished, which means it has to be physically relocated to the refinishers' shop in Vancouver.
The plumbers needed the tub out of the way before they could begin work, and the plumbing work needed to be done before the bathroom contractor could do their renovations, and suddenly we're in that song about the old woman who swallowed a fly. The kicker is that while the tub refinishers would pick up the tub, they would only pick it up from the street -- something about "liability" and "potential damage" and "holy crap all those stairs are you crazy, lady". Moving a tub that weighs a gazillion tons from the bathroom to the street is also not in the plumbers' wheelhouse, which meant we needed to hire movers -- because what's another contractor in a cast of thousands, really? -- to move it from the bathroom to the street. (It ended up being easier to just have the movers take the tub to the refinishers.)
Complicating all of that was the plumbing, which, like the tub, was also over 100 years old and thus had no shut off valves anywhere but at the main. So removing the tub meant turning off the water to the house until the plumbers could install shutoffs as part of the rest of the plumbing replacement, which is also why we had to time it closely with the plumbers' arrival, since we kind of, you know, need running water.
So the tub came out on schedule, and the plumbers worked their magic in two days, also on schedule. Next up on the schedule: the simultaneous arrival of the bathroom and roofing contractors today, who have this week to do their work so that the furnace, hot water heater, window replacement, Indow windows, and energy efficiency improvements can all be done next week. Also arriving today: 2+ inches of rain, finally ending months of abnormally dry weather.
Not all of the work will be done by the end of next week, unfortunately. The tub won't be back from the refinishers until mid-March, nor will the shower kit, sink, and fixtures. So what are arguably the most crucial and personally impacting portion of this whole complicated plan -- the tub/shower and toilet -- will also take the longest to be restored to normal.
The loss of our bathroom means using The Bathroom That Shall Not Be Named for toilet needs, which has the extra super duper bonus of being in the Totally Not Creepy basement. (As for bathing needs for 4 weeks, well, that's a whole other story.) This was planned insanity, to be sure, and we knew the loss of our bathroom was going to be a hardship. Somewhat less planned was that everything would get underway on my birthday, that it would coincide with a visit from The Albino and Family, or that it would come on the heels of a pretty spectacular winter storm that wreaked havoc with everyone's schedules. Completely not planned and really unnecessarily sucktacular was both of us getting struck with the flu riiiight as everything got underway, because apparently we stole Karma's lunch money in a previous life. Which meant spending the weekend that we were planning to do a lot of preparation for everything to kick into high gear instead doing a lot of sleeping and feeling generally miserable, trekking up and down two flights of stairs to go to the bathroom, and taking about four times longer than usual to empty the bathroom in preparation for the renovation.
But Karma's personal vendetta and flu obstacle notwithstanding, we were ready and waiting for the contractors bright and early this morning. It worked out that I had the day off as a work holiday, which was fortunate for coordination purposes, if not exactly relaxing when all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head. I had to stay out of everyone's way so I spent the day in the kitchen with the kitties while a bunch of guys ripped our roof off and another pair of guys ripped out the floor of our bathroom. And in my NyQuil induced haze, I sometimes couldn't tell the difference between all the hammering and the pounding inside my skull.
The area around our house looks like the aftermath of a tornado, the front porch is overflowing with power tools and orange power cords, the toilet is in the library, my desk is functioning as a temporary vanity/medicine cabinet, and our toothbrushes are now being stored in the kitchen. But the roofing crew managed to get three layers of old roofs off in the midst of a downpour without once springing a leak, the bathroom crew laid all the tile before they left for the day, and by the end of the week, we'll have more than half of that list up there crossed off.
When Peri moved into our house, she built her home inside the living room wall. But with all our talk of home improvement projects recently, shewanted in on the action. She decided to move out of the walls and into one of the built-in bookcases in the living room. Which meant she needed a new house.
Or, being an urban fairy, more of a studio apartment.
A shoebox was just the thing, but it took some time to find the right one. Then there was wallpapering to be done, and floor covering to put down, a ceiling and an exterior to paint. Then, the fun part: decorating! Peri is a very thrifty and resourceful fairy, and expert at repurposing, so nearly everything came from stuff we had. A new bed (with a bit of fabric designed by my friend Neva for the bedspread), a repainted bookcase, a treasure chest for all the gifts from Miss S last year. Mugs for me and Sal and artwork from Miss S for the wall. I even happened to have a seamstress mannequin that Peri used for the dress Miss S and I made for her last year. (The only item I purchased was a wee copy of The Little Princess, one of my favorite books ever. Because obviously.)
Of course, moving out of the wall meant she also needed some camouflage for her house. Fairies need their privacy, too, after all. And I thought, what better than books to hide a house built in a bookcase? They're the perfect cover. ::rimshot::
With so many crafts these days utilizing old books in some fashion, it wasn't hard to find someone on Etsy willing to send me cut off book spines from one of their repurposing projects. Some wooden shims left over from an IKEA project and lots of heavy duty glue turned them into facade sure to fool anyone who doesn't know not to judge a book by its cover (oh yes, I went there). Some LEDs and a bit of wiring (finally, a chance to put that engineering degree to use!) and a few other little details and the house was finally complete.
Just in time for a visit from Miss S....
We have a fairy door. We've had it for about 8 years, in a quiet corner of the living room near one of the built in bookcases. It just appeared very coincidentally one day after I read about the urban fairy doors of Ann Arbor. Most people don't even notice it until they've visited a few times.
Miss S first noticed it during a visit a few years ago*. She and her mom had built a fairy garden at home, but she was very intrigued by the idea that we had a resident fairy who lived in our walls instead of our yard. She knocked on the door repeatedly, but no one answered. Where was the fairy? she wanted to know. On a business trip, I told her. She's a career fairy. A Professional Daydreamer, a very important job. Miss S tilted her head and squinted at me, trying to decide if I was yanking her chain.
*(Miss M, interestingly, has only recently asked about the door, even though it's been there since before she was born. I'm sure she noticed it at some point, but she must've just figured that of course a fairy lived at our house, because I am her fairy godmother and therefore, duh.)
When Miss S visited last March, she knocked very politely on the door, but no answer. She tried the doorknocker but still no answer. The fairy, unfortunately, was on vacation at the coast. But since Miss S was herself headed to the coast the next day, maybe she'd see her on the beach! (She had her mom text me from the beach the next day to ask if the fairy liked playing in the water, because she was pretty sure she'd seen the fairy swimming in a tide pool. That might've been her, I agreed. Tide pools make excellent swimming holes for fairies.)
During her visit, I'd bought her an activity tube from SCRAP -- they fill old tennis ball tubes with odds and ends for kids to get creative with, usually with some kind of theme (ex. everything in one color or sports-related bits and pieces; Miss M's was full of blue things) -- and following the creation of a scavenger hunt game within minutes of opening the container, Miss S decided that we should make a dress for the fairy with some of the pieces of fabric from the tube.
So without sewing or needles or scissors or thread, we made a "dress", complete with a belt made from a scrap of ribbon and two little blue "jewels". Other items in the tube soon became part of a gift basket to be left on the fairy's doorstep (a milk jug cap served as the basket), with the hope that the fairy might share the secret of opening the door. She also included a note that the belt went with the dress, just to be sure the fairy knew what to do with it.
On April Fool's Day, I texted a picture of a new package -- an empty dental floss container tied with a pom pom string -- waiting on the fairy's doorstep that I had been instructed to send to Miss S. (I recognized that pom pom string. It had come off a pair of my slipper socks, then disappeared before I could sew it back on. Apparently, the fairy had taken a liking to it....)
A few days later, a text with pictures. Someone was very excited to receive a special package wrapped in a pom pom string from a slipper sock. Inside were gifts of a very fairy-like nature: a pink feather, a shell from her beach vacation, a pretty button, a ship charm, a shiny bead, and lots and lots of star confetti. And there was a letter from the fairy, introducing herself at last to Miss S -- Periwinkle Mapletree, Resident Fairy at Hall House and Professional Daydreamer -- along with ::gasp:: the key to her front door!