A Story of Two Couches

Somehow time has just been flying since I started at my new job on January 5th!  That first week I was so focused on getting up to speed on the new job, and then that weekend I had yoga teacher training all weekend, followed by my second week of trying to get up to speed.  And then this past weekend arrived, which was kind of a break from the go-go-go.

The past couple of weeks have just been crazy for Mike and me.

We drove down to Tacoma to try to test drive an Alfa Romeo.  We threw our couch into a huge dump at a transfer station in Shoreline.  We drove down I-99 during the NFC playoff game and heard thunderous cheering from the Seahawks stadium.  I did a 9 mile run at an average page of 8:37 per mile (way faster than I’ve been running in the recent past… clearly the iron supplements are helping!).  We went out to a local Japanese restaurant for sushi.  Mike made Piper a cardboard box wall that she has been playing with endlessly.  I’ve been learning node.js and coffeescript (no, I’m not kidding… that’s the name of the language.  If you can call it a language, since it’s essentially a more “friendly” way of programming javascript.  I don’t think it’s as friendly as Javascript, but that’s probably because I’m coming from a Java background, so Javascript seems plenty friendly to me.)  :)  Mike got a new silver globe.  Mike and I finished another past season of Top Gear.  I love that show almost beyond belief.  Mike and I retried our turkey burger experiment since I kind of burned them the first time I made them.  There you go… a thirty-second slice in the life of Mike, Karena, and Piper.

I’ll expound on just a couple of the more interesting things we’ve been doing over the past two weeks (don’t worry… I won’t elaborate on node.js or coffeescript.)

Let’s talk about couches.  And cats.  And cats who have some wires cross and occasionally urinate on couches.  Yes, that would be our cat.  After an incident last Monday, Mike put his foot down.  “We are not cleaning this couch again.  It’s going in the trash.”  The next day he came home with two little wheely carts.  The day after I found directions to the Shoreline Recycling Transfer station and a confirmation for rental of a Zip van on the kitchen counter.  The day after he asked me what I was doing on Sunday morning.

And that was how we found ourselves on Sunday morning in the middle of a huge downpour driving out to pick up a Zipvan with our little wheely carts in the trunk.  Zipcar gives all of their cars names (maybe for easier identification for people who don’t know car makes/models?  I’m not sure.)  Anyway, Mike told me the Zipvan we were picking up was named Exeter which annoyed me like crazy.  If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a poorly chosen name.  And how do you pronounce that anyway?  “Ex-ter”?  “Ex-e-ter”?  The Zipvans we’d rented in the past had much better names (Eskimo and Elmer.  I think Zipcar had an ‘E’ name thing going on because the vans were Ford E models.)  Driving to pick up the car, I kept suggesting better names for the Zipvan to Mike.

“How about Eleanor?”

“I don’t think these vans seem like girls.”

Silence for about 30 seconds.  “How about Emerald?  It’s even in the Emerald City, which fits.”

“Emerald’s not a real name.”

“Neither’s Eskimo, and that’s the name of one of their other vans.”

Silence for another 30 seconds.

“What about Eddie?”

“That’s a name from the early 1900’s.  Besides even if you pick a name, you don’t work for Zipcar.” Mike paused.  “Unless you’re actually planning to call them about this?”

I considered the idea while Mike rolled his eyes.  “What about Eggshell?”

“I rent these vans when I want to tote a bunch of heavy stuff.  Eggshell sounds too delicate.  I wouldn’t want to rent a van named Eggshell.”

“Good point.”

Silence.

“What about Emmett?  Like the doc in Back to the Future?”

Mike paused.  “Emmett’s pretty good.”

I leaned back against the seat finally, satisfied.  And in protest of the bizarreness of Exeter, I called our van Emmett during the duration of our trip.  I have since thought up another good van name: Equinox.  So, Zipcar, if you need names for your Zipcars, you know who to call.

Once we picked up the van and headed back to our apartment, the challenge began.  Somehow we had to muscle the couch out of our apartment to the elevator, and then down to the van using the wheely carts.  Fortunately, both Mike and I have been lifting a lot more weights since the last time we tried this, and we found that we had pretty good combined muscle power.  Unfortunately, the hallway to the front door was narrower than we remembered and the front door was set at an angle to the hallway that didn’t bode well for getting the couch out.  To further complicate things we had an entry bench just inside the door intruding into the hallway that wasn’t there when we moved the couch in the first time.  And because of his love for sturdy things, Mike had thoughtfully nailed it to the wall, so moving it wasn’t an option.  Twenty minutes later, I was pretty impressed with Mike’s lats and we had flipped the couch around a couple times in the narrow hallway and somehow had it in the hallway.  Mike muscled it onto the wheely carts and we proceeded down the hallway pushing our giant couch.

Getting it from there down the elevator and into the van was mostly a testament to muscle combined with wheely carts.  We drove the couch all the way up to Shoreline and Mike backed the van up to the five foot concrete railing around the huge dump.

“So we just maneuver the couch out of the back of the van and right over the edge of the guard rail?” I asked Mike.  He nodded his agreement.  I got in the van behind the couch and pushed hard as Mike pulled on it to guide it.  It went flying out the back of the van and we found it suspended, one end on the concrete guardrail and one end still in the van.  There was a heavy chain link about three feet above the concrete guardrail, and I called out to Mike, “Careful!  We don’t want this chain sticking on the couch and keeping it from going down!”

“It’s not catching on the couch!” Mike called back as he gave one final heave which sent the couch careening into the giant dump.

Except that the back edge of the couch was indeed now caught on the giant chain, leaving the couch effectively suspended in midair over the edge of the dump.  The chain looked like it was straining against the weight of the couch.  One of the workers at the dump watched us with what looked like amusement.  Great.  Just what we needed… an audience.  I lunged towards the chain to try to pull it over the back edge of the couch while Mike yanked down as hard as he could on the back edge of the couch so that I could get the chain clear.  A moment later, the couch fell into the dump with a big thud.  The guy working there wandered over to us and looked down at the couch.

“Nice couch,” he said, looking it over with the eye of a future owner.

“Yeah,” Mike said, hot, breathless, and never one to beat around the bush.  “Our cat peed on it like 6 times.”

“Oh!” The guy made a face and took several steps back.  “This is the place for it then.  You can never get that stuff out no matter how hard you try.”

A few minutes later we were driving out of the dump, minus one couch.  Our only couch, when it came to that.

And that was how we found ourselves downtown at a furniture store later that afternoon looking at couches.  And interestingly, whereas when Mike and I shopped for a couch seven years ago and neither of us were very picky, this time was completely different.  I noticed that the arms of some couches were too wide, some couches were too deep.  Some were too poofy, some didn’t come in exactly the shade I thought would go with the apartment.  Some looked too old-fashioned, some looked too western.  Some didn’t look like they’d wear well, some had weird gimmicks on them (Head-rests that fold down into the couch?  Really?).  The sales lady assured me I wasn’t too bad and that she’d had much pickier customers, but I was doubtful.  While we were debating about couches, Mike became intrigued with a silver-colored globe that was also at the store and examined it.  (If you think you don’t need a globe, guess where the country of Chile is in relation to Seattle.  If you’re like anyone I’ve asked so far, you’ll be shocked.)  An hour later, Mike and I had selected a couch which met most of our specifications and was on sale.

“With the money we saved on the couch, we should buy the globe,” Mike said.  “I don’t think countries are changing much days, so it’s time to invest in a globe.”

“Done,” I replied, and we walked out of the store with a globe and a delivery date for our couch.  Which incidentally isn’t for another couple of weeks so in the meantime when we watch shows we’re spreading a towel on the floor, picnic-style.  Fun, fun.  :)

Now let’s talk about football.  Not because I care about it very much but because Seattle won the NFC championship on Sunday in a crazy game and is now heading for the super bowl with the Patriots.  On Sunday, during the game, Mike and I were couch shopping, so we clearly weren’t very game-focused.  We did monitor it enough to know that Seattle was down by like 16 points at halftime so we decided Green Bay was probably going to win.  (I wasn’t heartbroken about that… I was born in Wisconsin.)  However, as we left the store we started to see that Seattle seemed to be catching up in the 4th quarter.  It looked like they might actually win.

Mike fiddled with the car stereo trying to find an AM station that was broadcasting the game while we drove home.  We stopped for ice cream, thinking that Green Bay was going to win again, but after scoring 15 points in the 4th quarter it looked like the Seahawks had a chance.  And then the game entered overtime.  Mike and I went in so he could get some ice cream since we figured the overtime would go for awhile.  The ice cream place which ALWAYS has a line going out the door and around the street corner was completely empty.  Apparently everyone besides us was glued to a television somewhere watching the game.  As we got back in the car, the radio came on and the Seahawks had just scored.  And won.  Wow!  What a comeback!

In completely unrelated news, Mike and I did a turkey burger experiment over the weekend in which I made up the turkey burger patties and Mike cooked them (since I kind of burned them last time).  Mike ate them, but said that it was very clear to him why turkey burgers aren’t as popular as beef burgers.  So there you have it.  Beef > turkey.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful 2015 so far and staying warm with all the cold weather across the country!

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2015… New Beginnings!

Happy 2015!

Mike and I spent a very low-key NYE because Mike was still getting his energy back from his cold.  He has been drinking lots of tea and honey lately (thanks for the honey, Dad!).

Wintery weather has finally returned to Seattle… and by wintery I mean low 30’ish degrees and (somehow?) sunny.  Typically we’d be getting constant rain by this time of year, but somehow we’ve avoided that so far.  Surprisingly I don’t mind too much.  ;)  Although I haven’t been working for a couple of weeks, it feels like I have been so busy!  My first Monday off of work I went through the pantry and threw out expired food.  Clearly I have some sort of process problem, because there was expired soup I threw out from January of 2013… two years expired!  This is the problem with staying in an apartment for more than one year.  Traditionally every time I moved apartments I would do things like throw out all expired food and thus I never had food that was more than one year from its expiration date.  I also did some general house cleaning, went to the grocery store, finally got caught up on responding to emails, and finished one of the books for my yoga teacher training class.  Tuesday I cleaned all the floors in the apartment, cleaned Piper’s litterbox, did more general house-cleaning, made Beef Teriyaki for Mike, wrote a paper for my yoga teacher training class, and worked out hard-core with Mike (as many bench presses as we could do, 50 burpees, 50 box jumps, 50 kettlebell swings… etc!).

Beef Teriyaki

Beef Teriyaki

I think the beef teriyaki turned out well… it looked like real beef teriyaki should look.  But I had to ask Mike whether it tasted good or not… that seems like a bad sign.  If it was really good he would have thought of saying something on his own, right?

I also made up some turkey burgers for Mike, and we had a philosophical difference as to what ingredients should go into a turkey burger.  I was pretty sure that you put in bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, and possibly a few other spices.  Mike contended that adding bread crumbs to ground turkey was basically making a turkey meatloaf, not turkey burgers, and that all I needed to do was shape the ground turkey into patties and then cook them.  I found multiple recipes on allrecipes.com to back me up, but Mike said that of course a recipe site would include additional ingredients.  “They can’t just make a recipe for turkey burgers with one ingredient,” he said.  “That would look stupid.  So they have to throw a bunch of other stuff in.  That doesn’t mean that’s the way a turkey burger should be made.”  Eventually we landed on a compromise.  I did not add the bread crumbs and eggs, which were the most egregious ingredients to Mike (odd, since he really likes both bread and eggs), but I did add some delicious freshly dried parsley (a Christmas gift from Mike’s mom… thank you, Marcia!) and minced garlic.  The final verdict was rather underwhelming because Mike told me they seemed tasty but too overdone.  Apparently I overcook turkey burgers.  Oh well.  Live and learn.  :)  The good news was that Mike thought the taste was good underneath the overdone-ness, so we can probably stick with our recipe compromise.

Mike and I had been watching at least part of a Top Gear episode most evenings lately, and last week we saw an absolutely hilarious episode in which Jeremy, Richard, and James tried to construct a hovercraft out of a Ford van to provide people living in constantly flooded areas of the UK a method of transportation.  The youtube video I linked to is just a clip, but the whole episode is hilarious.  I don’t think Mike and I have laughed so hard in a long time.

We also discovered somewhat by accident that we both enjoy watching boxing, so we ended up watching some boxing highlight matches from 2014.  Fun!  :)

On the flight on the way back from Michigan Mike and I were in a Boeing 737 which plays one single movie during the flight (unlike the bigger aircraft which let you choose from a selection of movies).  I was hopeful that watching a movie would make the time pass by more quickly, so I waited expectantly as the airline stewardess announced the movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I wrinkled my nose and turned to look at Mike.  Of all the movies on the planet, that had to be one in which I had less than no interest in watching.  I never saw the draw of martial art fighting turtles, even back in the 80s when they were such a huge thing.  However, the movie turned out to be pretty entertaining for two primary reasons.

1) We didn’t pay for the headphones to hear the movie, so we were free to add in our own dialog, which I have no doubt was more entertaining than the real thing.

2) Will Arnett is always hilarious to watch.  Arrested Development, anyone?

Also, Mike knew more about the turtles than I did.  Apparently they were trained by an old ninja rat and were the result of some crazy science experiment (who isn’t?  Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, etc.  etc.  etc.).

I’m hoping the jet engine was too noisy for any of our surrounding neighbors to hear how enthusiastically we were adding our own dialog.  The guy on the other side of me was wearing headphones, so I’m hoping for the best.  I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s experiences with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Also, for those of you who have been waiting for the FINAL set of pictures from our England/Ireland trip in April, here they are!  https://www.flickr.com/photos/m_danenberg/sets/72157649670295949/

Both Mike and I are ready for 2015.  I threw out some old clothes this morning to symbolically ring in 2015.  Discarding the old… and ready for the new!  I wish everyone an amazing 2015!

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A brief trip to Michigan

Mike and I had a great trip to Michigan for three days the weekend before Christmas.  Sadly (or maybe not?) we didn’t get many pictures of our time there.  The point was to see people and “be in the moment”, so photography was limited.  Also, Mike didn’t want to take his big camera since that’s a pain to carry around and bring through the airports and everything.

The flights were pretty good, although flying through O’Hare the weekend before Christmas was asking for lots of delays (which we definitely experienced).  :)  At least O’Hare was pretty and decorated for Christmas!

O'Hare

O’Hare

 

Although the trip was fast (fast enough that we never really did switch to Eastern Standard Time and ended up staying up till 2am every night we were there), it was good to see family, particularly near the holidays.

Since we got back, we’ve been laying low.  Mike got a bit of a cold, so we’ve been doing low-energy things like watching movies.  We just finished “2001: A Space Odyssey“.  Surprisingly, this movie is a lot better than I expected.  It reminds me of trance music in that it doesn’t rush ANYTHING.  With Trance music you listen to it measure after measure and wait for a change… but you only hear very subtle changes.  With “2001: A Space Odyssey”, you wait and wait for climax scenes and they elusively evade you and continue instead with long, drawn-out scenes accompanied by symphonic music.  I’m not joking.  I think (hope?) it’s a testament to my increased level of maturity that I actually enjoy the more drawn-out scenes.  It’s certainly a refreshing change from modern movies in which something has to happen every 37.2 seconds or else the short-attention-spanned audience gets bored.

We also watched Bronson (also a movie Mike chose) about the most violent criminal in British history.  It was a strange film… very psychedelic and highly stylized.  I would almost say it was like a Wes Anderson film except that, unlike Wes Anderson movies, Bronson was heavily based on an actual person’s life and was therefore bereft of a lot of the crazy twists and turns characteristic of Wes Anderson’s movies.

To counteract all of this intenseness, I suggested watching the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, a completely comedic movie with no hidden messages or meanings (except possibly to avoid hosting Christmas?)  Mike tolerated the movie, although it was definitely not the kind of movie he would have chosen.  It’s been interesting to watch so many movies in a few days… we rarely watch one more than every couple of weeks.

Apart from movie-watching so that Mike can rest up and get over his cold quickly, Mike has been spending some time processing the remainder of the pictures from our England/Ireland trip.  He’s hoping to get them done in 2014 so that he can start 2015 with a clean slate… no picture processing to-do items in it!  He got the third set of pictures posted yesterday!  Here’s a link in case anyone’s interested in seeing them: England and Ireland III .

We’ve also been working through some cat issues.  Piper’s cat sitter said she was as good as gold while we were gone, and she didn’t seem traumatized in the slightest when we returned.  However, she’s seemed low-energy (maybe like she has a cat-cold to match Mike’s cold?) and she’s done some inappropriate urination including (but not limited to) my yoga mat.  I genuinely wish I could understand the way her brain works.  I’m trying to give her some treats now after using the litterbox to make sure she knows that’s “good” behavior but she’s not an eager-to-please dog; she’s a queenly cat.  I’m not sure she’s getting the message.

Although I haven’t been working for the past two weeks, it’s crazy how quickly the time has been going by.  The first half week was cleaning the apartment (which could actually already stand to be cleaned again), the next week-ish was devoted to Christmas shopping for our nieces and our Michigan trip.  Mike has had the cold since getting back from Michigan, so we’ve been in low-energy mode since then.  I have finished reading several books for my yoga teacher training, so I guess I’ve been at least a little productive.  I didn’t do crazy after-Christmas shopping, but I did buy new running shoes in preparation for marathon training.  I also bought a new yoga mat since Piper ensured that my old one needed to be thrown out.

Mike has been finishing up an old project at work that he’s been working on for over a year, so going into 2015 it’s looking like he’ll be 100% done with the old project and spending all of his time on the new project.  He’s really looking forward to focusing on new and different things!

Mike wanted to get out of the house yesterday evening because he’d been working on pictures for a few hours and was ready for a break, so we drove about fifteen minutes north to go to the Alderwood Mall, which we had driven past but never actually gone to.  As it turns out, it was a pretty sizable, busy mall.  It had the biggest movie theater we’d ever seen, and it also had a Lego store.  I was really surprised at some of the Legos they have now!  (The UN headquarters?  Really?)  There’s also a really cool thing now that I would have LOVED when I was younger.  For $10, you can build your own lego person out of a huge assortment of faces, hair, hats, clothes, etc.  So cool.  And so economical, given that there are whole Lego sets that I wanted as a child specifically because they had “the hair with the red ponytail” or the “wooden-legged pirate” in them.  Regardless, we didn’t buy anything at the mall, but we did have fun looking.  :)

I hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas and has exciting plans for the New Year!

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The holidays in Seattle!

It feels like it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted, but I think I’ve just been really busy wrapping things up at Amazon.  My last day was Friday, the 12th, and everything leading up to that felt so busy.  I had absolutely no idea how much stuff I was responsible for and maintaining until I got ready to transition it to other people.  I guess that’s what happens when you work at a company for 4+ years!  :)

My team had a white elephant gift exchange and potluck on my last day.  It was a fun time!  I really love all these guys and will miss them as I go on to my next adventure!  I have truly worked with some great engineers and amazing people at Amazon!

Coworkers and friends

A couple of my friends from Amazon!

 

After I left Amazon, Mike and I went out to celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary.  (How did two years go by already??  I guess time flies when you’re having fun!)  :)  We went to a gastropub called Spur.  Their tables were all booked up, so we sat at the bar which turned out to be a great decision because the bartender was really informative and helpful.  I looked Spur up later online, and as it turns out our bartender won the most imaginative bartender in Seattle award this year!  Who knew?  The atmosphere at Spur was very industrial… not quite to the point of being Steampunk, but headed in that direction.

Spur Gastropub

Spur Gastropub

 

We had a really good, relaxing time!

Two years!  (or 9 1/2 if we get credit for our years of dating!)

Two years! (or 9 1/2 if we get credit for our years of dating!)

 

After Spur, I wanted to go check out the Gingerbread village.  It’s a yearly exhibit in Seattle.  Local architects partner with artists and they end up building pretty impressive gingerbread buildings (or so I had heard).  I had meant to go for the past several years, but somehow we never made it.  Mike readily agreed to go, but he was dubious as I started navigating us deeper into downtown Seattle.

“What are we looking for exactly?” he wanted to know.  “I think we’re just going to hit the Washington Convention Center and not find whatever gingerbread thing you’re looking for.”

Oh ye of little faith.  Two minutes later, we turned a corner and were right in front of the Sheraton Hotel where the exhibit was held.  Both Mike and I were surprised how many people were already there!  We had to wait in line for 20 minutes just to see the gingerbread buildings!

Lots of people wanting to see gingerbread houses!

Lots of people wanting to see gingerbread houses!

 

When we got to the front of the line, I was so impressed!  These were much, much more than just ‘gingerbread houses’… some of these were almost ‘gingerbread cities’.  Except for the lights in the displays, everything seemed to be made of various types of candy and gingerbread.

Gingerbread Village

Santa in Hawaii?

 

Gingerbread Hollywood!

Gingerbread Hollywood!

 

The city of Seattle!

The city of Seattle!

 

Christmasy block structure

Christmasy block structure

 

After the Gingerbread Village, we did a little shopping.  Everything was so Christmasy!

Christmas shopping

Christmas shopping

 

When we got home we found a surprise had arrived in the mail from Lia… a little Christmas tree… predecorated with lights and ornaments and everything!  So beautiful!!  Of course Piper had to check it out thoroughly!

Piper investigating...

Piper investigating…

 

Apart from Christmasy stuff and finishing up stuff at work, life has just been a random assortment of small incidents, as usual.

Some examples…

I went in for a routine physical last week and got my blood drawn.  The guy who was drawing my blood was a pretty good looking guy probably 10 years younger than me.  I was trying to roll up my sweater sleeve so that he could get to my elbow, but the sweater sleeves were fairly tight and I wasn’t sure whether the sweater was rolled up far enough.  Without thinking I said, “I can take my shirt off if it helps.”  I then realized that didn’t sound exactly how I’d meant for it to sound, so I quickly added, “I mean, I have another shirt on under the sweater.  So if it helps, I can take off the sweater.”  It could have either been a really embarrassing moment or a really funny moment, but it was neither.  Apparently the guy drawing my blood didn’t have a sense of humor and didn’t even seem to realize what I’d said and just said, “Nope that won’t be necessary.  This should be fine.  Thanks for being so cooperative.”  Um… you’re welcome?  Clearly we weren’t on the same mental wavelength.  However, he let me pick the color of my band-aid after he was done drawing the blood, so it was all good.  I picked purple.  :)  Speaking of sweaters, sweaters for penguins are really one of the best things of 2014.

One day last week while I was waiting for the bus, a MOUSE ran about a foot away from my boots and disappeared into some dense foliage near the bus stop.  He almost could have been cute if he hadn’t been a MOUSE!  Right next to my FEET!

I’ve still been running, but it hasn’t been as much lately.  I’m on a little bit of a break from running and then I’m planning to train for a marathon and run it with a friend from Amazon in June.  I ran a half marathon Thanksgiving with a few coworkers from Amazon.  It was COLD!  26 degrees!  My feet didn’t warm up until mile 11, which is pretty crazy since at that point I only had a couple miles left anyway.  It was fantastic running it with friends from work though!  I’ve never run long races with people before, but it definitely makes the miles go by more quickly!  They’re already signing up for more races, so apparently they had a good experience despite the cold!  And apparently I’ll still see them at races periodically even though we’re not coworkers anymore.  :)

At the finish line of the Seattle half marathon!

At the finish line of the Seattle half marathon!

On the few nice days we’ve been getting, I’ve been going out for short runs to enjoy the weather.

Seattle in the winter...

Seattle in the winter…

The scenery in and around Seattle just doesn’t ever get old to me.

Mike hasn’t been running much these days, but he’s still been working out at the gym… it’s amazing how much more frequently you work out when there’s a full gym on the first floor of your apartment building!

Mike and I are starting to get geared up for our trip to Michigan this coming weekend.  I can’t believe how quickly this trip has come!  And Christmas is the week afterwards… where has the fall gone?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and Mike and I look forward to seeing the MI relatives soon!  :)

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Piper, Cashews, and Thanksgiving

Autumn has come to Seattle!  The weather is colder and rainier and we’ve officially retired our portable air conditioner for the winter.  Since moving off of daylight savings time, it’s also shocking how early it’s already getting dark!  By 4:30 or 5pm we’ve already lost most of our daylight.  We definitely have a long, dark winter ahead of us!  I’m torn on how I feel about that.  On one hand, I never like the idea of winter, but it’s kind of cozy getting home at night when it’s all cold and dark and rainy outside.

I also think somehow Mike and I are more social when the weather gets colder and darker because we’re less likely to just do things on our own in the evenings.  A few weekends ago we went to a friend’s house on Sunday night, and that was really fun.  (So fun that the time flew by quickly and we didn’t leave until almost midnight!)  Tonight we’re having some other friends over.  We’re planning to go out to eat in Fremont and then come back to our apartment and hang out for awhile.  I’m excited!  Piper’s probably excited too… they’re definitely cat people and she liked them the last time she met them.

In other interesting news, I am now officially an expert at giving cats pills orally.  Piper can vouch for it.  She is on a long round of antibiotics to basically make sure her UTI is completely wiped out.  I also have her on a grain-free diet (suggested by her vet as a possible way of preventing all of these UTI’s).  I don’t know about the UTI part of the diet, but she definitely has SO MUCH energy on the new food!  She used to want to play for about 30 seconds each day (a cat’s attention span is pretty short, and 30 seconds seems to be about the limit), and now she’ll play with Mike for five minutes at a time.

In other (interesting?) news, Mike and I have gotten back into watching Top Gear.  I don’t remember how it started exactly, but we’re back on a Top Gear kick (the British version with Jeremy Clarkson OF COURSE).  The episode we watched last night featured the new Maclaren P1 supercar.  All I can say is Wow!!  Its specs are amazing, particularly given that it has both an electric and a standard fuel engine.  Those episodes are so much fun to watch!

The CSA produce is sadly over for the year.  Fortunately there still seems to be a lot of good local produce in the stores, so that’s not too bad.

I’ve already done two weekends of the ten total weekends for yoga teacher training, and the teacher training definitely makes for a busy weekend!  The class is held on Friday night, and then for 8 hours on Saturday, and then 4.5 hours on Sunday.  However, I’ll only have yoga teacher training one weekend out of every three or so, so it won’t be too intense.  I love the class so far!  :)  It’s amazing how quickly I’m already getting to know the other students in the class.  I guess when you’re essentially spending a whole weekend together, you get to talking pretty quickly!  The first weekend was focused on intro stuff, getting to know each other, talking about some of the required reading, breaking down some asanas (postures) and focusing on the anatomical implications of the postures, and some basic anatomy.  The second weekend was entirely anatomy.  It was intense, but not too bad (for me anyway), because I’d had all of that anatomy as part of the personal training curriculum so it was mostly a refresher.  We’re working through a very cool yoga anatomy book that shows all of the muscles used in each of the poses.  The full-color illustrations are so helpful for really getting a sense of which muscles are contracted and which are lengthened in each pose.  It’s been a very busy fall between yoga teacher training and work!

Also, of interest, is that Piper apparently cannot digest cashews.  We found this out the hard way.  (Most things worth learning in life are learned the hard way, I think.)  We left to go out to dinner one Sunday evening at 4:30pm.  Piper usually has dinner at 6pm, so I figured I would feed her when we got back.  However, we ended up stopping at a couple stores on our way and didn’t get home until 7:15pm.  When we opened the door, we saw that a bag of cashews that had been on the counter was now on the floor and had been chewed open.  And most of the cashews were missing.

Oh.  My.  Gosh.

Piper seemed fine, and googling ‘can cats eat cashews?’ was comforting.  Apparently there are people who feed cashews to their cats as snacks.  So all was well until I walked in the door from work the following day.  I had been on the phone with my mom telling her about Piper’s cashew theft incident and how I hoped Piper didn’t have digestive problems from it.  I looked around and there were literally piles of vomited cashews, almost entirely intact, lying in various places around the apartment (none of them on the hardwood floor, which would have made them so much easier to clean up).  After a lot of cleaning, Mike and I agreed that more cashews were not in Piper’s future.

However, last weekend we also went out to run some errands, and when we returned we found a bag of trail mix that had been on the counter on the floor and (you guessed it), chewed open.  The one nice thing was that it appeared that almost none (if any?) of the trail mix was gone.  We held our breaths and hoped that Piper hadn’t eaten any of it.  Maybe the cranberries in it had turned her off so she hadn’t wanted any of it?  The following day I got home from work, steeling myself to the possibility of cleaning up after Piper’s indiscretion.  However, I found one single vomited cashew on the carpet.  And that was it.  It was almost as if Piper had started eating the trail mix and then thought, Wait a minute… I feel like I have bad memories about this taste.  Regardless, Mike and I were thrilled that there wasn’t more of a problem.  Needless to say, Mike and I aren’t keeping anything nut-related on the counter anymore!

Since Thanksgiving is almost here, and apparently stores have decided to skip straight from Halloween to Christmas this year (as evidenced by the photo below!), Mike put up our little LED Christmas tree.

Christmas candy... already??

Christmas candy… already??

 

I love our little tree.  :)

Our Christmas tree!

Our Christmas tree!

In case you’re wondering about the giraffe figurine at the base of the tree, he’s kind of the best thing ever.  I named him Gerard, and I really like him.  He is a year-round decoration, and is just temporarily sharing the end table with the Christmas tree.  :)

I was telling Mike that he needed to implement some kind of timer for the lights on our tree… something to make it come on at like 6am and turn off again at 11pm or something like that, and he disagreed.

“What if you want to turn it off at 7pm but it’s on a timer?” Mike wanted to know.

I thought about it for a second.  “Can’t you implement it like cruise control on a car?” I asked.  “Like it’ll turn on if you speed up, but won’t turn off if you slow down… or something…”  I trailed off, trying to work through what seemed like a good idea in my mind but wasn’t coming out verbally very well.

Mike rolled over on his side and propped his head on his hand as he looked at me.  “And exactly how do you envision cruise control working on our Christmas tree?”

I had to admit with my explanation it was no wonder I was confusing him.  :)

So for now we’re just manually turning the tree lights on and off.  :)

Friday night Mike and I went to the small theater near our house and watched St. Vincent with Bill Murray.  It was a heartwarming story, although a little predictable.  I always like watching Bill Murray.  He’s such a great actor… comedic or tragic as the situation requires, but always convincing!

Mike and I are looking forward to a quiet Thanksgiving with a pre-made meal from our local PCC grocery store.  All I have to do is follow directions and re-heat an already cooked turkey and side dishes.  That sounds so stress-free to me, especially given that Thursday is the only day I have off of work!  I hope everyone else has a relaxing and wonderful Thanksgiving!  :)

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Filed under Christmas, Friends, Holidays, Thanksgiving, Work

A Vancouver race and dealing with fruit flies

What has been occupying Mike’s and my time lately?

Lots of things!  For starters, Mike and I went to Vancouver over the weekend for a race.  Let’s talk about this Vancouver trip.  I was the one who planned the trip, since I was the one who wanted to do the half marathon.  I took the liberty of signing Mike up for the 10k race even though he had previously only done 5k’s.  Last week was SO BUSY at work, and I ended up working later than usual on Friday night.  When I left work on Friday I had that uncomfortable feeling that Mike and I were going on a trip the next day, and I had literally hadn’t really planned anything.  I looked way back in my emails to find out the name and address of the hotel where I’d made a reservation.  And then I remembered at the last minute that we’d need to bring our passports.  Yeah, it was that kind of last-minute trip.

Mike and I had a mini cleaning fest Friday night (yes, we live wild out here) because we had Piper’s cat sitter coming in to feed Piper and we wanted the house presentable.  On Saturday we packed up our stuff and got out of the house by 11:30am so that we could make it to Vancouver before 5pm, which was when the race expo closed where we would pick up our race bibs and timing chips.

Our trip to Vancouver was pretty uneventful except that an hour into the trip Mike said that he wished it were raining because he likes driving in the rain.  Twenty minutes later it started pouring rain, and it continued pouring rain for the remainder of our drive and on through the night in Vancouver.  Mike definitely got his wish!  :)  The lines at the CA border were long… we ended up waiting for about 50min as cars inched forward.  Mike and I passed the time by listening to music and discovered there are a surprising number of French radio stations in Canada.  We also commented on cars (which is a surprisingly fun pastime that Mike and I have perfected.  We’re not always nice in our remarks, though, so it’s definitely not a good game to play with your windows down and the possibility that the car’s owners can hear us.  Everything from the pattern on the rims to aftermarket mufflers to the quality of the paint job to the presence of dents in the side panels is up for discussion.)  When we finally got up to the front of the line, though, we were waved through pretty quickly.  Interestingly, one of the questions we were asked before we were allowed into Canada was whether we had recently been to New York or Texas… clearly the Canadians are taking Ebola seriously!

Once in Canada we got a little turned around finding our hotel.  This was mostly due to the fact that the Dunsmuir Viaduct was in fact only labeled ‘Viaduct’.  Apparently Vancouver-ites only have one viaduct and don’t call it by its full name.  Once we realized the ‘Viaduct’ referred to the Dunsmuir Viaduct, though, we were good and found our hotel quickly.  We had the option of self-parking or valet parking in the hotel parking garage.  Mike opted to self-park and found a spot in a corner where it was unlikely that any other cars would come close enough to dent our car.  We checked in and were pleasantly surprised to find that we were on the 14th floor and had a really nice view of the other tall buildings in the city.  We were ready for dinner but had to get to the race expo to pick up our bibs and timing chips.  We wandered through the race expo and ended up buying matching race shirts.  Upon returning to the hotel, we discovered that the two things I had told Mike to pack himself, his toothbrush and his deodorant, had not been packed.  We went out in the pouring rain and found a drugstore at which we could buy supplies and then when we got back to the hotel, we discovered that I had forgotten my toothbrush as well.  It was definitely that kind of trip.  :)  But who cares, right?  We were bumming around Vancouver together and it was all a fun adventure.  :)

The morning of the race we both woke up early, ate our energy bars, and headed for the start line.  We had figured that we’d probably be running through the rain given how much it had been pouring the night before, but surprisingly the rain stopped around 4am so although everything was kind of muddy, there wasn’t any rain coming down.  I hadn’t done much research on the course itself, but I did know that the 10k started half an hour earlier than the half marathon and that we’d have to walk about a mile to get to the start line for the 10k and that the start line for the half marathon was a block away from our hotel.  Since I had an extra half hour before my race started, I walked with Mike to the start of the 10k.  There were a lot of people heading towards the race!  I was surprised by how many!

Lots of people!

Lots of people!

I guess I should have expected it, though.  It was an inaugural event, and it was part of the world-famous Rock ‘n’ Roll set of races.  The race itself was really enjoyable.  My knee was still not quite recovered, so I didn’t run as fast as I would have liked, but that was fine.  It was a gorgeous day, a gorgeous course, and a very fun city!  :)  Mike ran his first 10k ever and finished in just under an hour.  Go Mike!!  :)

Mike ready to rock the 10k!

Mike ready to rock the 10k!

 

The race medals for finishing the race were really cool… apparently there’s a Lion’s Gate Bridge in Vancouver, and the medals showed the lion statues guarding either end of the bridge!

Lions from Lion's Gate Bridge

Lions from Lion’s Gate Bridge

As far as Halloween, we were fully planning on dressing up and going out to a party.  However, Mike was also looking for a good time to put in a new oxygen sensor in our car, and as it turned out October evening was the only time that really worked for him to install it.  He found a place south of Seattle where you can rent a vehicle bay by the hour, complete with a lift and tools, and do your own car work even if you don’t have your own garage.  How convenient!  So Mike picked me up after work on Friday and we drove down there together.  I was moderately helpful by holding up my cell phone as a flashlight for Mike, but apart from that I didn’t do much of anything.  Mike had the old O2 sensor off and the new one on in no time!

Mike's handiwork

Mike’s handiwork

When we got home from changing the O2 sensor, we saw that our neighbors had the most adorable idea for pumpkin decorating that didn’t involve any messy pumpkin carving!  I am so jealous that I didn’t come up with the idea first, because these mummy-pumpkins are literally the cutest Halloween decorations I’ve ever seen!  I am seriously in love with these pumpkins.

Googly eyes and gauze wrapping for the win!

Googly eyes and gauze wrapping for the win!

I did a run this weekend… not quite as long as usual, but it was a beautiful day for running around Lake Union!

West shore of Lake Union

West shore of Lake Union

I got stuck on the Fremont Bridge because the drawbridge went up so I stopped and took pictures of the sailboats coming up to go under the drawbridge.

Sailboats!

Sailboats!

 

Tonight Mike and I are going over to a friend’s house, so that will be really fun and relaxing!

In other completely unrelated news, I feel like Mike and I have seen natural selection occurring right before our eyes in our apartment.  :)  We had about fifteen fruit flies in our apartment about a month ago.  (Mike blames the fruit flies on my CSA produce and I blame it on his bananas.)  ;)  Either way, I did online research on how to get rid of fruit flies, and I saw that the recommended way was to put an inch of apple cider vinegar in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap with holes poked in it.  The idea is that the fruit flies fly in the holes, attracted by the vinegar, but can’t figure out how to get out again.  And then they die.  Honestly, I like quick deaths rather than slow ones even for undesirable bugs, but there weren’t any suggested ways of getting rid of fruit flies that were quick.  So I set out the apple cider vinegar and waited.  Almost all of the fruit flies went into the vinegar and died.  Crazy!  However, there were still two fruit flies flying around that apparently didn’t like apple cider vinegar.  And those will be the two that are probably reproducing in our apartment somewhere as we speak.  Survival of those who do not like apple cider vinegar!  :)

I hope everyone is having a good Halloween weekend!  :)

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Filed under Halloween, Holidays, Rain, Running, Vancouver, Weather

Fun in Portland!

It’s been a really busy couple of weeks (hence the non-existent blog posts!).

Last weekend Mike and I drove down to Portland to see Lia who was in town visiting her aunt and uncle.  Her friend Rae took the train up from Eugene, as well, so the four of us hung out and bummed around downtown Portland together… so fun!  We had a fun afternoon of shopping, and Mike was so laid-back even though of course shopping in women’s clothing stores isn’t exactly his thing.  ;)  While we looked at clothes at Anthropologie, he examined the furniture in the store.  :)  After a relaxing early afternoon of shopping and a brunch at Whole Foods we headed to Pittock Mansion.  You can read all about its history on the site, but it is a beautiful mansion on a cliff-like hill overlooking Portland… so beautiful!  And surprisingly like Highclere Castle!  Apparently despite the U.S.’s separation from Britain, we took our ideas of fashion, decorating, and architecture from them!

Just a normal living room.  Nothing special.  ;)

Just a normal living room. Nothing special. ;)

 

And a harp!

And a harp!

 

The house was beautiful, and unlike Highclere Castle in England we were able to look through all the rooms!  That meant that we got insight into things like the way people from that era showered.

Mike's engineering brain instantly attracted to all the pipes!

Mike’s engineering brain instantly attracted to all the pipes!

 

Don't get wet, Lia!  :)

Don’t get wet, Lia! :)

 

We had a lot of fun!

Friends!

Friends!

Just like with Highclere Castle, the winding staircase was AMAZING!

Love, love

Love, love

 

And such a gorgeous view from the back of the house over downtown Portland!

Foggy Portland

Foggy Portland

 

So last weekend was lots of fun!  We left late-ish after being gifted with the most amazing home-made applesauce by Lia’s aunt.  (So fresh that it was still WARM!)  Yum!!  Our drive back to Seattle was great… driving in the darkness is always kind of relaxing.

I’ve been back to running!  Not quite as fast as I was yet, but my speed is definitely coming back!

Piper stuck really close to me while I elevated my knee and focused on recovering.  :)

Piper stuck really close to me while I elevated my knee and focused on recovering. You can see the ace bandage on my knee in the background!

I LOVE running in Seattle this time of year… it’s just beyond gorgeous!

Lake Union

Lake Union

 

So gorgeous...

So gorgeous….

 

All of these pictures are within a mile or two of our apartment... so amazing....

All of these pictures are within a mile or two of our apartment… so amazing….

 

Mike and I finished season 4 of Game of Thrones…. so that’s that for the next, oh, eight months or so.  Bummer!

Mike has continued to play his guitar quite a bit in the evenings.  Oftentimes we’ll go the gym together and then take a short walk together afterwards.  The weather has cooled down a lot in Seattle and is down in the low 70’s during the  day now.  That makes for perfect walking weather in the evenings, particularly when there’s not much of a breeze.

I haven’t been quite as up on using up the CSA produce the past couple of weeks… I think the knee recovery slowed me down a little.  But I’ve still been using up most of it.  This week we got a beautiful little carving pumpkin in our CSA produce.  I’ve been badgering Mike to carve it, but he thinks it sounds messy.  Bummer!  Maybe I’ll just get a black sharpie and draw a face on it myself?  Should I go for a happy face, a scary face, or something else?  Any ideas??  For now I’ve set it outside our apartment door so that it lends a fall-like atmosphere to our floor.  Love it!

Halloween is also coming up!  I’m excited and determined to go somewhere and dress up!  (Since we bought costumes two years ago and have yet to use them… I think it’s time we did!)  So I’ve been looking at Seattle blogs for party ideas… there’s so much going on this time of year in Seattle!

Again, because of my knee, Mike drove me to pick up the CSA produce a couple weeks ago, although typically I walk.  When we arrived at the pickup site there were police and fire trucks everywhere as well as a good handful of vehicles bearing titles like “Emergency Cleanup Crew” on their sides.  Uh, oh!  That didn’t seem good!  As it turned out, there’d been a fire in one of the metal-working shops in the area, and apparently you need a whole host of weird chemicals to stop metal fires.  Who knew??

Last night we met up with a friend of Mike’s from work and his wife at Cichetti, a new favorite haunt of ours.  (So much of a favorite, actually, that we were also there last Friday.)  It’s an amazing place to go just to talk and hang out, and it has an amazing view of Queen Anne, Magnolia, Seattle, and Lake Union.  Mike proclaimed early in the evening that the purpose of the evening was pure relaxation.  We definitely just relaxed!  We looked down at the amazing view of Seattle and just chatted and shared small plates of food while Mike offered his expertise recommending drinks for everyone.  We actually didn’t notice the time until 11:45pm!  Wow!  Staying out until almost midnight!  What kind of a crazy, partier am I?  I also emailed Rae last week after 10pm and texted Lia sometime after 10pm the week before… am I turning into a night owl, or what??  ;)

I took Piper in for her follow-up vet appointment yesterday, and so far everything’s looking good with her UTI.  Yay!  She still needs to be on antiobiotics for another couple months, though, because the vet wants to make sure all of the bacteria are completely eradicated.  Piper doesn’t like taking pills but by this point I’m a pro at giving her the pills.  I pretty much pull her mouth open and pop the pill down her throat while she glares at me.  I actually have to give her 3/4 of a pill, which is kind of a pain because it means giving her two pills: one 1/4 pill and one 1/2 pill.  I asked the vet if I could just give her a full pill, but he shook his head and said that she’s only 3/4 of a cat and only needs 3/4 of a pill.  :)

Completely off-topic, one thing that I have been focusing on the past few months is thankfulness.  And so here’s my mini piece of advice: live and love every day.  Be thankful for everything, especially the small things.  This is one thing I definitely learned from my mom… be thankful for the color of an orange pumpkin or the way the wind moves through the trees, or the way the random stranger on the bus smiles at you.  Such an enriching way to live life!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful fall!

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Filed under Cats, Cicchetti, CSA, Food, Friends, Halloween, Holidays, Pictures, Running, Seattle, Weather