Things to do in the Pacific northwest

August 28, 2010 at 11:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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A buttered scone on a plate with a cup of coffee and a large plate of scones in the background

I made scones for breakfast. Yum.

A few days ago we decided to designate one day this weekend for sightseeing-y touristy stuff. We’ve been maintaining a Google document of things we want to do here eventually, and here’s what we have so far:

  • Snoqualmie Falls – You east-coasters probably haven’t heard of this — I hadn’t — but apparently they’re some really impressive falls that are about 50 minutes from Seattle.
  • Mt. St. Helens – There are lots of fascinating visitor centers and museums that I saw when I visited my Aunt Nancy here around 1996.
  • Mt. Rainier – I’m not sure what Mt. Rainier stuff there is to do besides looking at it, but there’s a whole state park about it and so there must be something interesting.
  • Hoh Rainforest – This is the coolest looking place in the world. It’s an actual rainforest and it looks beautiful from the photos online. Check out these photos. It’s a hefty 3-hour trek from Seattle to get out there, so we’ll probably save that for a three-day weekend. Maybe Labor Day?
  • Space Needle – It’s two blocks away but we keep not going. We’re going to make sure we do, though, before the weather gets gray and cold (in contrast to the beautiful clear days we’ve had for the past few weeks).
  • Northwest Railway Museum – We don’t know much about this, but we saw a sign for it on the way back from the Amazon Company picnic a couple weeks ago. Here’s its website.
  • Fort Clatsop – Another state park I visited in 1996. I remember it being neat, although honestly I can’t remember why. It’s where Lewis and Clark spent a winter near the mouth of the Columbia river when they reached the Pacific ocean.
  • Pike Place Market – A nifty shopping area, I’m told, that’s within walking distance of our apartment. Probably I’ll do this one myself on a weekday since Blake’s little heart doesn’t exactly go pitter-pat when someone wants to go shopping.
  • Victoria, British Columbia – Everybody says it’s beautiful, but I have no idea what to do there.
  • Vancouver, British Columbia – Ditto.
  • Puget Sound tour – Apparently there are fun little cruises you can take around the sound for an hour or so.

So that’s the list right now. Probably after lunch we’ll do one of the less-involved ones or maybe the Pacific Science Center. We love science museums. Expect some photos soon of whatever we do!

There was a shooting outside our apartment

August 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Yes, really. And what’s more, it was right across the street from our window and I watched a lot of the action. Well, some of the action.

Map of the shooting near our apartmentsAcross the street from our apartments there’s a nondescript boring-looking building with no signs that seems abandoned. In the mornings there are often homeless people sleeping in its doorway. Well, apparently this building has a whole life of its own once a week: late Saturday nights it comes to life and is an extremely loud and extremely popular club.

So this past Saturday we were up a bit later than usual. Around 1:45 a.m., we watched a Futurama, I fell asleep on the couch, and Blake helped me to bed and tucked me in. Well, after lying in bed for a few minutes, I wasn’t sleepy anymore because it was so loud outside. “What is going on?” I wondered. From the volume, it sounded like there was a crowd of several hundred people on the street outside our building yelling and laughing and drinking and revving their engines and honking their horns and just generally being loud. Eventually I stood up and peeked through the blinds, but I couldn’t see much — maybe 40 people hanging out in the parking lot across the street (marked “action” in the diagram). They were being pretty loud, but not enough to cause all that sound. As you can see, the club was around the corner from our windows and so I knew that must be where all the noise was coming from. I was glad our apartment wasn’t on the ground floor.

So I got back in bed and wondered if it was worth calling the police to make them be quiet. (Yeah, I’m old. Get off my lawn!) But when I got up and looked out the window again, it was clear that the people making the bulk of the noise weren’t exactly hanging around. Cars and SUVs would drive up with their doors open and people hanging out. They’d be sitting on the window sills and holding onto the car roof and yelling at other people in the street. They would drive in a few circles, stop, rev their engine, make a few more circles, honk a bunch of times, yell at more people, and drive away. Oh, yeah, and their radio was set to max volume so the bass beat practically vibrated stuff off our dresser. At any given moment there were three or four vehicles out there doing this, but they’d drive away each time and so calling the cops didn’t seem like it would do much. It was pretty irritating. So I got back in bed again and tried to remember where my earplugs were.

Then, suddenly, I heard a quick volley of five or six loud shots. “Surely that wasn’t gunfire… was it?” I thought. Then another set of shots went off. Blake was brushing his teeth when it happened, so I went in and asked him what he thought. He hadn’t heard them from the bathroom, but we speculated that it could have been a car backfiring. As I mentioned, there was lots of vrooming going on from highly-modified flashy cars and so it seemed pretty plausible. I went to the window and looked out at the parking lot where the same group of people was still gathered, and nobody was running in fear or cowering or bloody or anything, so I figured it probably was a backfire. Then, while I was watching, there was a third group of several shots fired. I still couldn’t see where it was coming from, but people in the parking lot started getting in their loud cars and leaving in a hurry.

I watched for a few more minutes and then we started hearing sirens. Though the crowd had gotten smaller, it was still pretty loud outside, so when the police cars started showing up I was happy to see them. They started lining people up against the cars and patting them down, but we didn’t realize it was definitely a shooting til a few minutes later when more vehicles arrived. At first it was three cars, then it was five, then it was seven. Then a fire truck, which at first seemed strange until we saw its paramedics run out with bags and go over behind the few cars that had been parked in the very center of the lot. Then a few more ambulances appeared and six more cop cars, for a grand total of 13 police cars, four ambulances, and the fire truck. This must have been the most red-flashy block in all of Seattle.

The scene across the street

The scene across the street before too many cops arrived

Several minutes later EMTs started carrying stretchers from the ambulances over to the huddle behind the cars, and they loaded one guy into an ambulance shortly thereafter. That ambulance didn’t leave until about twenty minutes later, which made us think that the guy inside was only mildly injured or dead. While the numerous paramedics attended to other people, the extra cops started putting down little cones to mark evidence (the brass from the shots?) and wrapping the whole parking lot with bright yellow crime-scene tape.

Ever the capitalist, I took some photos hoping to sell them to a news station. But I didn’t really want to stand out on the balcony in my nightgown with a tripod, and I couldn’t really see much excitement from our balcony anyway. So the photos weren’t too great and instead you guys get to see them here.

A close up of the action

A close up of the action

After that things got less interesting. Slowly the cops went off to wherever cops go, and the ambulances left — some carrying people, some not. So we stopped watching and went to bed. It was nice and quiet.

The next morning, I searched around for news stories to find out what had happened. Eventually I found it around lunchtime:

“Two people were shot during a fight after a late night party ended, Seattle police said. West Precinct officers responded to the 200 block of Taylor Avenue after hearing gunshots around 2:20 a.m., police said. Officers arrived to find a large crowd in the parking lot and two teenage men with gunshot wounds. One man had a gunshot wound to the leg. The other man suffered a gun shot wound to the back. Police determined that the shootings occurred after a private party had ended. Medics transported both men to Harborview Medical Center with non-life-threatening wounds. Police found several shell casings at the scene. Witnesses to the shooting told police that they believe the shooting suspect left the area before police arrived.” – from

Such a short article after all that excitement! It all sounds so insignificant that way. At least nobody died. Though maybe if I’d called the police to make them shut up back at the beginning, there wouldn’t have been a shooting at all.

How to paper train a puppy

August 24, 2010 at 12:09 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Nano peeking out from under the couch

Like Pico, Nano likes being under low things

Nano’s success rate at using the puppy pad has been steadily increasing, which is fantastic news. As I have occasionally mentioned this to people, several of them have asked, “How do you make a puppy go to the bathroom where you want? I’ve always wondered that.” Well, the answer is not as mysterious as you might think.

Before I tell you how, let me tell you where I got my information. Before I got Pico I read a lot of dog training books and finally settled on a method that seems well-reasoned, nice, and effective. I attribute most of Pico’s training to these books, and in the areas where he is weak I can usually see where it was my failing. For example, Pico gets pretty irritated and snappy if he’s eating or chewing on some food and then I come and take it away for some reason. This could have been avoided if, as a puppy, I often took away his food and petted him while he was eating and sometimes put more food in his bowl. I simply forgot about this rule when he was little — there’s a lot to remember! — and that is clearly something for which I am responsible, not stubbornness or possessiveness on his part.

So because Pico is pretty well trained, I feel confident recommending these books. There are two:

The first one is my favorite. It’s a very practical and quick and efficient read — he gives you the info, it’s interesting, and then he moves on to another interesting topic. The second one is good too, but the authors are a bit more wordy and it takes much longer for them to get points across. However, they are both truly excellent books and I would recommend them to anybody.

So! Back to the subject at hand: how to paper train a puppy.

Nano sleeping against Blake's shoes

Nano loves curling up against Blake's shoes

Step 1. You must get your puppy from someplace where you can vouch for the cleanliness of the puppy’s surroundings. Ideally this is some breeder’s facility that you’ve actually visually verified yourself. Puppies naturally don’t want to be around poop and pee, but if they are kept in an unclean area, that natural inclination just poofs out of existence. It’s important that it be maintained to make paper training easier, though it’s still possible to train without that guarantee.

Step 2. If you do get your dog from a breeder, make sure the breeder has worked with the puppy on paper training. Most breeders won’t give you a puppy til at least 8-10 weeks, and paper training efforts need to begin much earlier than that.

Step 3. When you first get your puppy, it won’t know where to go. If it starts to pee somewhere besides the paper, don’t freak out and yell at it. Just make a noise — tap a pen on the side of a table or clap your hands — which’ll usually make her stop. Then scoop her up and set her on the pad. Whether she continues peeing or not, it’s generally good to praise her then. If she continues peeing on the pad, give her the most excited praise you can and follow it with a treat.

Step 4. Every time you see her go on the pad, be excited and pet her and give her a treat.

Step 5. Puppies won’t pee where they hang out. If your puppy likes to relax on the puppy pad, don’t let her! Make her move (nicely). If you have hard floors and she prefers the softness of the pad, buy her an $8 dog bed. But if she thinks of the pad as a comfy place to sit and play with toys or whatever, she won’t want to pee there. As a corollary to this, if there’s a place in your house where she particularly likes to go, spend some time hanging out there yourself. Read a book, play with her, etc. (Don’t put her dog bed there, though, until she’s used to it — or else she might think the dog bed is for peeing in.)

Nano curled up against Blake's flip flops

Also Blake's flip flops

Also, puppies can’t hold it for very long. So if they have a large area to romp around in — like, say, your whole house — there will almost always be some area where nobody hangs out that your puppy might think makes a great toilet. And it’ll often be closer to her then her pad, so she’ll consider it fair game for peeing. To combat this, increase the puppy’s living area gradually. When you first get the puppy, find out how much space she’s used to. Then increase it gradually over time using an exercise pen or a baby gate. (This one is cheap and has worked well for us.) Only increase the size when she’s doing well on paper training in her current area. You can also put multiple pads down around the house, but it might take her a while to get used to all of them. Increasing her area gradually has worked very well for us.

Step 6. This is an important one. Puppies learn where to go by looking (smelling) for the scent of urine. If your puppy has an accident somewhere, it is of vital importance to clean it up super extra thoroughly. Even more important, however, is to use the right cleaner. People often think that any disinfecting cleaner will do, but the opposite is actually true: ammonia-based cleaners will entice puppies to pee there exactly the same way urine will! It’s absolutely vital to use an odor-neutralizing pet-specific cleaner. Most suitable cleaners will say “odor neutralizing” somewhere on the bottle, but it’s good to check for ammonia in the ingredients anyway. The odor neutralizing ones “break down” the pet enzymes or something. I’m not a chemist and can’t vouch for the science behind that, but I’ve read it enough places and have seen it work so much that I’m inclined to believe it.

Pico on the couch

Pico on the couch

I’m a big fan of Nature’s Miracle. The name makes it sound like some froo-froo feel-good organic stuff made from sunshine and rainbows instead of evil chemicals, but despite that fact it’s actually been pretty effective for us. We’re using the hard floor version since we’ve got laminate here, but the regular one is good too.

Step 7. The fact that puppies smell around for where to pee can also help! Once your puppy has used a puppy pad, instead of throwing it away, put a clean pad on top of it and leave the dirty one there. This makes a HUGE difference and is really what bumped Nano from 50% success up to around 98%. All her messes now are because she went near the edge of a pad and some of it leaked out.

Step 8. Clean up all pee that occurs — no matter what. Not the type of cleaning job that you did when you were thirteen and spilled lemonade on the floor and your mom made you clean it and you just got it wet and said you were done. It’s got to be good. I know I already mentioned this in step 6, but it bears repeating. Here’s a common problem: if you get lower-quality puppy pads, sometimes they won’t absorb the pee quickly enough, and when she hops away after a nice pee, sometimes she’ll step in it and then deposit little pee prints all over. If she’s on carpet, the prints are often invisible and only last for a few feet. If she’s on a hard floor, sometimes the prints go seemingly forEVER. Three times in the last week I’ve had to spray fifteen little sprays of cleaner on fifteen little wet paw prints that go all around the kitchen and then mop them all up. It’s only a small amount on each paw print, but you have to get it. She’ll smell it and then she’ll pee there.

Kidney bean dog

Kidney bean dog

We use these pads and they work pretty well. Sometimes we still get some prints when Pico produces quite a bit more volume than the average puppy, but for the most part they work well.

Step 9. If the pad is more than 25% used, throw it away and get a new one. Even though puppies smell for pee before going, they also won’t go on something that’s too dirty or wet or strong-smelling. This can encourage her to go in a new place (IE, your carpet). And once a place has been established as a pee spot, it’s harder to make the puppy stop using that spot. So it’s much better to use an extra pad here and there than to think, “I bet one more pee will fit…” and then have to discourage carpet use.

Step 10. Puppies can’t make after-the-fact correlational connections. (Most adult dogs can’t either.) By this I mean that you can’t praise or discourage your dog for any bathroom behavior unless it just happened or, preferably, is actually happening right at that moment. If you come in from the other room and see a wet spot on the floor, clean it up and forget about it and don’t scold the puppy. It’s just a missed opportunity,  and scolding her will only confuse her. Fortunately, puppies go to the bathroom a lot (a LOT), so you’ll have another chance before too long. Crate training can help with this — it teaches dogs to learn to hold in their pee, and so often you can predict that they’ll go to the bathroom immediately upon exiting the crate. This is extra good, because then you can set them on the pad and be ready and waiting with praise. Crate training is a separate subject that is worth looking into, but this article is pretty long so I won’t go into it here.


Convoluted paws

Convoluted paws

So that’s about it! They may seem like a lot of things to remember, but if you understand the rationale behind those rules — why they work — it’s actually pretty simple. The first time you try these out with a puppy it may seem futile — but then she’ll start using the pad almost like magic. (Except it’s science, not magic.) This post got a good bit longer than I intended, but hopefully I was able to shed some light on a subject that often seems hidden in the shadows. Also, I hope you enjoyed all my great puppy (mostly) photos. :D

[Video] Pico and Nano playfighting on the couch

August 22, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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They’ve been doing this on and off for a few days now. It’s adorable! Once you get to 1:30, not much happens. (Soon I will learn how to cut videos, but I haven’t bothered finding software for it yet. Then my videos will be all good stuff and nothing boring!)

Kittyball is live on the app store!

August 19, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Kittyball was submitted to the app store last week, and today it went live! Here’s the official Kittyball blog, and here’s the Kittyball iTunes page.

Kittyball screenshot

Blake did all the programming, and I did all the artwork. He worked a lot of hours on this, and I’m proud of him. :D

The house we aren’t getting

August 18, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The house we're not getting

The house we're not getting

I’ve been doing a lot of house hunting lately. Our apartment downtown is great, but it has some drawbacks: it’s very small (about 680 square feet), parking is sometimes frustrating (the Scion xB that parks next to us sometimes doesn’t leave enough room for our rental car between it and a big concrete column), we have to take an elevator up and down — which is slow (there doesn’t seem to be a way to take the stairs to the parking deck below the building), and we miss our stuff. I want to be able to print things out on my printer and store paperwork in my file cabinet and choose what to wear from more than the few articles of clothing we brought in our luggage.

So, as I said, I’m doing a lot of house hunting. In doing so, last week I found this beautiful house you see before you. I immediately fell in love with it from its photos, and when we went to check it out in person it did not disappoint. (It turns out I am nearly always disappointed when I actually go see a house in person.)

The kitchen we're not getting

The kitchen we're not getting

The kitchen was beautiful, the tile was beautiful, the yard was beautiful, the street was beautiful, the floorplan was great, the neighborhood was nice, and everything seemed well-made and well-kept. I was really excited. A few days later we went back out with Blake so he could see it too (and meet the realtor), and he too was very happy with it. We hadn’t looked at many houses yet, so we weren’t exactly ready to make an offer, but it was so great and we had found it after such a short amount of looking.

For days, I’d look at other houses’ listings online and immediately turn them down because this spiffy place was better for the same price. I imagined us walking down to the green area in the center of the neighborhood with Pico and Nano and having them poop on its beautiful landscaping. (Don’t worry, I pick up after my dogs!) There was only one hitch: it had a homeowner’s association (HOA). And not just any HOA — one with sizable monthly dues and an iron-fisted regime that had quite a lot of limitations.

The dining room we're getting. Just kidding, we're not getting this one either.

The dining room we're getting. Just kidding, we're not getting it.

Also, we’ve always wanted to live in the next house for a while and then, several years down the road, buy another house and rent the old one out for a steady income. This HOA, however, has restrictions: only a certain percentage of the houses in the neighborhood can be rented, and each renter would have to be approved by the HOA as well. So hypothetically we could get a renter for a while and then not be able to rent again for a few years, during which time we’d just be paying house payments and taking a loss. But even despite these drawbacks, we were considering it. We both loved the house, and the HOA dues did at least go to making the neighborhood look beautiful and all the landscaping for the front yard. We were torn, but there was no hurry: we’d just begun to really look around, so we could browse for a while and see if there was anything we liked more.

Well, then yesterday we got some bad news: someone had made an offer on the house. In retrospect we should have expected it — surely everybody else could see what we saw in this house. Our realtor had told the seller’s realtor that we had some interest, so the seller’s realtor had informed us in hopes of getting a bidding war going.

Not this either

Not this either

I was planning to see some houses in Lynnwood (a Seattle suburb) with the realtor today, Wednesday, and we thought that perhaps Lynnwood would have a multitude of houses of similar quality and price. So he bought us some time to look today and then re-evaluate our position once we had the new information.

Sadly, none of the homes we saw today had quite the same charm. Which brought us to a difficult decision: a house we loved at a high price with a bossy HOA and possible problems renting in the future? Or should we stay the course, keep looking, and hope something else appears that we like more?

In some ways, it was an easy decision. But at the same time, it’s also been haunting me since we made it this afternoon.

Of course, by now you know that we passed on it. It was a lot of extra money per month — if we were willing to pay the total amount as a house payment, we could actually get a house that costs $50,000 more! And we’re selfish individualists. We would chafe under their rules and restrictions about what you could and couldn’t do on your own property. And it even runs counter to our longer-term plans to rent the place. Good reasons, all. But gosh, it was great! The street was lined with beautiful little trees and the houses had gables and bay windows and old-fashioned alleys and cute porches. It was like something out of Pleasantville or Leave It to Beaver. I know, I know, I’m sure it was only able to achieve that look through some esthetically-minded Orwellian dictatorship, but just because I can’t have my cake and eat it too… well, it doesn’t mean I can’t want to both have it and eat it.

So we passed. We both feel it’s the right decision, but it still pains me to have made it.

Under the nanoscope

August 14, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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After Nano's first bath

After Nano's first bath

So as everybody knows, yesterday we brought Nano home from the breeder. The first 24 hours with a new puppy are always adorable and exhausting, and I thought some of my readers might like to hear about it in more detail. (I’m looking at you, mothers.) We’ve also amassed quite a collection of adorable videos for such a short time, so I’ll post the links here. They vary in quality, so I’ve given them a star rating so you can choose which one(s) to watch. =)

Although she tenses up every time she is carried through a doorway — elevator door, bedroom door, car door, any door — she otherwise seems to have a general positive outlook on the world and isn’t too afraid of things. On the hour-long drive home (Blake drove), she alternated between sleeping in my lap, trying to lick my face, and craning her head around to look out at the cars if I was holding her up against my chest. The breeder said she’d been fed an hour ago, so there was the looming outside chance that she could expel some substance from somewhere — carsickness being the most likely. But I took pains to hold her up to see outside if the road got unusually bumpy or swervy, and she had no problems at all.

Still pretty wet

Still pretty wet

When we brought her in we wanted her to try to use the puppy pad immediately, but we were afraid that Pico would freak her out if he paced around her pen with frenetic enthusiasm. So I loitered in the hallway with Nano in my arms and Blake went in, leashed up Pico, and took him out for a nice walk in the Walgreen’s parking lot. Although I made some efforts to keep Nano way up high and facing the wall (instead of Pico), it sounds like he wasn’t fooled: he immediately knew something was up and he pulled back towards the apartment on the whole little walk (which is pretty uncharacteristic of him).

Once he came back, he behaved very unexpectedly. We thought he’d be super-duper extra excited as he often is when dogs come to our house for some reason. He hasn’t been around puppies much, though, and I think that’s why this was different: he went into “I am your social superior and am kind of aloof” mode. He puffed himself up a bit and mostly tried to stay out of her adorably unpredictable way. He’s clearly interested in everything she does, but it seems like he doesn’t know what to do about it. On occasion he’ll be sitting somewhere contentedly and she’ll timidly walk up from several feet away, get super super close to his face, and sniff his nose. Hilariously, when this happens he always acts like it’s the last thing he ever expected her to do: he jerks his head back like he’s surprised, his eyes get huge, and he looks around or looks at me. Usually his jerky movement scares her into backing up a couple feet, but if not he watches her for a few moments and then decides to go sit somewhere else.  I’m sure he has his reasons, but come on, Pico: you guys are dogs. Sniffing noses is what you do!

Dry and cozy

Dry and cozy

In many ways she seems almost miraculously pre-trained, although I know she wasn’t. In 24 hours she’s gone from never having seen a crate to being absolutely comfortable hanging out in one with the door closed. (For those of you who think crate training sounds mean, here is a link for you.) Also, she doesn’t seem to care about chewing! When Pico was a puppy he chewed on everything with an edge. EVERYTHING. And since it turns out most items have an edge in one way or another, that was a trying time for me in his little puppy life. I was constantly running over to him and removing a DVD or remote control or paperback from his little jaws and replacing it with a chew toy. But Nano, in contrast, just walks across the room, picks up her Gumabone, then carries it back to her bed for a good chew-a-thon.

Her paper-training success rate is right around 50%. She often tries to start on the pad, but sometimes she wanders off (or just starts in the middle of the floor somewhere else). She’s still pretty little, though, so I’m not really worried or anything.

The only thing so far about which I have a few concerns is the amount of noise she makes. As many of you know, Pico is a pretty quiet little guy. Aside from the occasional “awroo!” when somebody knocks on the door, his barking is extremely rare. (Quietness is a common trait for Japanese Chins.) Nano, however, seems to associate barking with play. Whenever we start to bounce around and she gets excited, she gives the tiniest little woofs and ruffs that are terribly terribly cute but will be terribly terribly annoying when she’s an adult. (You can see them here.)

Burrito dog

Burrito dog

Until she feels more comfortable around here with us, we’re not disciplining her too strongly, so for now about the worst “punishment” she gets is that we drop a few coins near here (so they clatter on the ground) or the car keys or an empty soda 12-pack box. She also whines a bit when she’s alone in her pen, as puppies will do, but I expect that to subside. She does also bark when she wants some attention, but I hope we’re able to curb that with coins. Conveniently, we have a little basket of spare change on our dresser, and so it was very convenient to start chucking them in her direction when she woke up this morning at 7:30 and wanted us to begin entertaining her. (Fear not, I was careful not to throw the coins somewhere that they could hit her.)

So that’s about it. The vet gave her a clean bill of health today, so we’re definitely keeping her. =)

Welcome home, new puppy! (lots and lots of puppy photos)

August 13, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Her name is Nano.


August 13, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’m sure there are many tourists in Seattle right now who have been here longer than we have (twelve days), but that isn’t going to stop me from laughing at them:

I’m sure immediately after this one of them said, “Guys, you should have seen me in Italy. I had this great idea.”

What am I doing while Blake’s at work all day?

August 12, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Pico is oblivious to my toiling

Pico slumbers, oblivious to my toiling

I get this question a lot, actually. (I sort of wonder if a few people think I’m sitting at home watching TV and eating bon bons, but I can assure you most wholeheartedly that I am not!) In fact, since Blake’s gone all day I’m working primarily on the many things that need to be done to sell our house in Texas, arrange a home loan for a new house here, shop for a new house here, and take care of regular stuff around the apartment that needs to be done. Here’s what I did today*:

  • Got up at 7:40 a.m.
  • Took Pico for a walk and made Blake’s breakfast while he showered before work.
  • Drove Blake to work (about thirteen minutes away) and came back home.**
  • Spent 45 minutes calling painters’ references, returning calls to painters, leaving voicemails for painters, and answering painters’ emails. We need to check their references to make sure they’re trustworthy enough to go into our house in Texas and give an estimate even though there’s nobody there.***
  • Had a few back-and-forth emails with a lender to talk about getting a home loan for a new house.
  • Called the company in Austin that will be doing our carpeting there to let them know that yes, we still want them to do our carpet, but we’re waiting to have the house painted.
  • Sat down with a cup of coffee for five minutes and read the documentation the dog breeder gave us about the new puppy. (I got about 25% of the way through.)
  • Met with the lender and dug up records and dates and addresses to plug in to her magic lender app on her laptop.
  • Had a quick lunch of ramen while reading BoingBoing.
  • Took Pico on a brief bathroom-themed walk in the Walgreen’s parking lot next door.
  • Walked to Amazon — a different location than the one where Blake works — to meet with an HR rep so I could ask some questions for determining which health plan to choose. (Parking there is impossible and it was only a 30-minute walk roundtrip.)
  • Came home, answered more emails and phone calls to painters and lenders and realtors.
  • Went down to the leasing office to use their fax machine to send the lender a copy of Blake’s offer letter from Amazon.
  • Read more info from the breeder (almost finished it).
  • Set up an appointment with a realtor to look at houses later in the week.
  • Straightened up the kitchen and ran the dishwasher.
  • Went down to the car to pick up Blake from Amazon at 5 p.m.

Most of my days have been like this since we arrived, though I’m not complaining at all! Other frequent parts of my day include meeting with realtors and looking at houses, going to the grocery store, working out, and going on a quest to shop for some needed item that we forgot to put in the boxes for the temporary housing (and is therefore practically irretrievable in storage until we move to a permanent home). Usually this is something pretty necessary like dog food or a screwdriver or a phone battery car charger or a hands-free headset (they’re the law for Seattle drivers).

So it’s been pretty busy for both me and Blake. It’s really nice, though, and I’m enjoying being busy quite a lot. I guess it’s sort of like wedding planning: when you’re busy with something you care about a lot, it makes it a lot more pleasant to deal with. Also being home makes it pleasant too. I am getting a little bit tired of dealing with painters, but soon that’ll be done and most of what I’ll be doing will be puppy-related (yay!) or buying-a-house-related (also yay!).


* This post was written on Tuesday, August 10.

** I have to drop off and pick up Blake because we only have a rental car right now until our cars are delivered. After they’re delivered, though, we still may do this, because parking at Amazon (which is in the heart of downtown and next to the baseball stadium) costs thousands of dollars per year. We might also start looking into the oft-recommended public transportation, but we haven’t really had time to research it yet.

Our old house in Texas

"Help!" says our old house in Texas, "I'm thirsty for paint!"

*** Observant readers may recall that I had several painters come by several weeks ago while we were still in Texas. We thought we had a deal going with one from that round of estimates, but she required a big deposit that we weren’t willing to pay up front. (With us out of state, it would be really difficult for us to enforce justice if she never finished the job.) She was both indignant that we didn’t trust her and absolutely unwilling to negotiate on the point, so now we’re looking for someone else. (Happily, I’ve since found several painters willing to consider other payment options that are low-risk for both of us — not just the contractor.)

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