Archive for the 'doings' Category

We bought a house!

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

It all happened very fast. We viewed it and put in our offer the first day it got listed and our offer was accepted. We did inspections the following Tuesday, and the Tuesday after that, we had the keys! The whole process took 11 days.

[Main living/dining area. Floors were just refinished and smell wretched; place needs some airing out. But the floors are beautiful! I’ll be doing some painting, by the way. That maroon moulding is distracting.)

We’ve actually been sort of kind of looking for a long time. Almost a year ago, we had the winning bid on a house at auction. The auction guys were all over themselves the moment it closed giving us instructions: RACE to the bank and get a cashiers check for the earnest money, overnight it FASTFASTFAST or else face penalties and fines and bad credit ratings and an IRS audit and who knows what else. So we did and then we didn’t hear anything from anybody for two weeks, when we got our earnest money quietly returned to us in the mail. Apparently the bank decided that they wanted more money than our winning bid and rejected our purchase. WhatEV! (Ironically, the house got relisted, went to auction again and the winning bid rejected, got relisted a couple more times and finally sold 9 months later for less than our original winning offer. We were so over that house by then.)

The next house looked pretty good except for a slight weirdness with the lot: the city seemed to think that it was only a half lot (the other half owned by some construction company) but the ad very specifically described a luxuriously large lot. We made a huge stink about it from the get-go and they assured and reassured and doubly-assured again (we really were pains in the ass about this point) that indeed it was in fact the entire lot, that the city was just behind in updating their files after the foreclosure, blah blah shut up already. They even sent us what appeared to be a title report that very plainly stated the property as being the entire lot and at last we had our offer accepted and did inspections. Then a few days later, we got the news that, um, yeah, there seems to be a problem with the title. We backed out. It was a complete waste of time and money and we were totally pissed because we had been asking about the lot since before we even went to go look at the property. Basically, what happened is the previous owner quietly split the lot and sold half to a construction company. Then foreclosed on the entire property (and Bank of America didn’t do their homework). BofA relisted, again stressing how big the lot was. It was weird, like they knew all along and just hoped we wouldn’t notice.

I guess that’s what happens when you are hunting in the bottom of the barrel. It’s you versus all the other loonbats out there. We do seem to draw more than our fair share of the absurd though.

[Bedroom and hallway between bedrooms, bath and living area. Floors are refinished fir here.]

Finally we came across this house. We looked at almost all of the very cheapest houses Portland had to offer for a long time and this was the first place that was not actually gross, or needing epic fixes immediately. In fact, it was nicer, bigger, and cheaper than our current rental. We could just move in immediately if we wanted! It only took us a year and we went through four different agents in the process.

[In person, those cabinets are WAY ricketier and ill-hung and super crappy. They look almost decent in this photo but do not be fooled. The kitchen has to go.]

[This yellow blurriness, incidentally, is why we never have any good photos of Ronin anymore. She will not hold still for anything.]

So immediately upon taking possession of the place, I shifted into princess mode, bought about ten gallons of paint in ten different shades of beige/gray, and ripped out the bathroom (this is, after all, my big moment!). And now it looks like this:

Now I just sort of want to put the walls back on again.

The best birthday card ever

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

A unicycle with a bird on it and juggling on a sunny day. I’m ready for some warm sunny days.

Gipsea is for sale

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Island Gypsy 30 Sedan Trawler ($55k). Contact Tucker at 361-729-5885.

Last year we all took a trip down the Tennessee River on Gipsea. It seemed like the perfect boat for motoring around the rivers and has to be the roomiest 30 footer out there. I hear that Grandpa Jeff is polishing the bright work now and it will be at the Corpus Christi Boat Show on April 7th.


Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

The little monkey turned THREE! She was very excited about having a party and we actually ended up having two parties. Neither of them on her actual birthday. So I guess you could say she had three birthdays, one for each year.

On Friday I made a bunch of carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and brought them to her preschool for afternoon snack. We played pin-the-bat-on-the-batbear (Cara, her preschool teacher, made an awesome batbear poster) and then had cupcakes. Silas asked what kind they were and I answered, “carrot cake on the bottom with cream cheese frosting.” He looked at me like I was totally freaking insane and regarded the cupcake with some suspicion before touching the tip of his tongue to the frosting part. Next time a kid asks me what kind of cupcake it is, I say: “cake on the bottom and frosting on the top.” The end.

For Saturday, we invited way more people than our little house could reasonably hold (two families didn’t make it so it ended up being perfect) and then made a whole bunch of food: pulled pork, tangy coleslaw, wild mushroom tart (for the veggies), and lemon cake with cream cheese frosting. We also made blueberry ice cream with blueberries we picked last summer to go with the cake, and salt caramel ice cream just because.

We bought a bunch of cool Playdoh colors (seriously, you should see what they have these days) and that was a hit, but what was really the bomb was screaming their heads off in the bedroom with the lights turned off.

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“Dada! Be a MONSTER!!” and Joshua would don the blinky head-lantern thing and lurch after them with arms outstretched. Hilarity ensues.

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Ronin needs to practice her blowing skills for next year I think.

Costa Rica

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Our flight got in at 11:50pm, New Year’s Eve. We exited the plane to a deserted Portland Airport and noted the passing of the decade as we left the security-only point. We were initially careful to pack only carry-on luggage for our trip to Costa Rica but a snap decision to buy three bottles of Flor de Caña before we left required that we check our precious fluids lest they blow up the plane. Anyway, we were doomed to standing around in the baggage claim area waiting for our black suitcase along with everyone else. While we were waiting, a guy across the way shouted out, “Happy NEW YEAR!!! WOOooo woo.” Followed up with a “sheesh, you guys” when we all stared blankly at him. I checked our cell phone: 12:06. Dude’s watch was totally wrong.

[Sage and Damon parked in a sewage runoff mangrove stream making drip castles.]

Our taxi home was piloted by a cantankerous troll, short and squat with a bald head edged by wispy white frizz. He didn’t look at us as we got in but immediately began bitching about how it was illegal for Ronin not to have a baby seat, then he crabbed about how it was totally not worth the fare to drive all the way out to the airport, yada yada. SOMEone was a Grumpy McGrumpersons.

Miraculously, we found our house intact and exactly as we left it. I always half expect to find a smoking crater whenever we go away for more than a few days. Inside, the house smelled like dry Murphy’s Oil Soap; the smell our house reverts to whenever we leave it for any length of time.

[From the rental house, we had a kick-ass view over Playa Hermosa beach/cove in northern Guanacaste.]

So yeah. Costa Rica! It was beautifully warm, not too hot and no rain at all. When we visited four years ago on the boat, we were there in November and it rained constantly, the swell was gnarly, and we spent much of our time holed up in our bouncing cabin drinking rum. This time we spent the majority of our time either at the beach or planning and preparing food for all of us. There were 14 at the rental house and it was pretty much total chaos. My brother’s kids are exactly 2 years older and 1.5 year younger than Ronin and it was perfect.

Chaos! Jumping from our bed to the air mattress was a huge hit. As was running screaming from “monsters” who lived either in the closets or in the bathroom. Whenever Ronin disappeared, we would find her in the closet changing clothes (she went through every outfit we packed for her on a daily basis; once Joshua did some laundry and she about lost her mind) or sneaking cheerios for her guys (i.e., Batbear, Nigel, et al.). Ronin also loved the pool. She didn’t seem to quite get the whole swimming thing and would randomly rush out toward the deep end before she realized that something was missing (like the ground beneath her). She was more cautious after that but I was impressed; she has relatively little experience with water as, sadly, summer bypassed Portland this past year and we didn’t do much in the way of river recreating.

Wildlife! We saw howlers our first day and then three other times; we heard them other times. If you’ve never heard a howler monkey sound, it’s very deep and primal and exotic sounding. It’s rather exciting to hear them even if you can’t spot them, like: there are THINGS in the trees! Growly things. (With creepy eyes!) Happily they are only the size of housecats.

We saw some bugs.. Here’s a praying mantis that was hanging out on the couch.

This big locust thing flew into the house just about every evening. Same guy, probably.

Here’s one I came close to stepping on. EW! We discovered in Nicaragua that scorpions are not called “escorpion” as they were in Mexico but rather “alacrán.” I had, much to my delight, discovered a big black scorpion nestled around my doorknob in a hostel we stayed in on Isla Ometepe (Lago Nicaragua) and went to the manager to ask for advice. He said breezily, “OH! Haha! Escorpion.. You don’t have to worry about them. They only eat bugs. Just ignore them because they are everywhere.” (This in Spanish of course.) I was not settled and insisted that he maybe come and bask in the ickiness that was a big black scorpion on my doorknob and finally he did. When he saw it, he exclaimed, surprised, “OH!! Alacrán!” and then he got a stick and killed it. After some confusion, we discovered the the word “escorpion,” which so neatly meant scorpion in Mexico, actually meant “gecko” in Central America. Dude. Noted. Indelibly. I asked him what happens if you are stung and he waved his hand, meh, you get chills, fever, and (ickily) your tongue swells inside your mouth! Gross!

These birds (white-throated magpie-jays) are large, about the size of a crow, and very bold. They noticed some crumbs on a deck chair and about seven of them staked the place out. They will take food out of your hand if you hold still. We saw many cool birds: bright yellow-chested flycatchers (boat-billed flycatcher), long-tailed iridescent swoopy mot-mots (they are distinguishable because of the missing barbs on their two long tail feathers), loud chattery green parrots, grackles, little bright-red birds (something like this), hummingbirds, brown pelicans.

This iguana lived in the (ex?) termite blob in the tree at the edge of our yard. Well, either he lived in the hole or he just visited to eat termites.

We ate well during the trip. There were epic trips to the grocery in El Coco on a daily basis (the French bakery in the Luperon is going strong!). Joshua and I made fried snapper tacos with a bunch of different salsas (mango ginger, pico de gallo, guacamole) and ceviche a couple nights, Elise made fresh corn tortillas, and Patrick and Eric made fried plantains almost every night. On christmas day, David and Brigitte put together a full-on turkey with stuffing. They even found cranberry sauce. It was pretty awesome.

[Freshly stabbed post-roast turkey beast.]

But mostly we spent our time at the beach.

Typically, the moment we hit the beach, we got to work transforming our environment, usually starting with the erection of a large hill/castle with moat. Then, as the tide advanced upon us, elaborate berms and levees were hastily thrown up to protect it. It was always a losing battle but the kiddies LOVED it when the waves crashed into their moat/lake. I was still washing sand out of Ronin’s scalp a week after we returned.

Breaking ground on a new development. This time of sticks.

Provisioning the completed beach house.

Searching among the rocks for shells. Seems there is always a hermit crab in any of the good ones. We had a huge bagful of shells when we departed Costa Rica but it was confiscated by the Costa Rica airport security—not at all what we were expecting. We were only allowed to bring back a couple pieces.

Ronin and Riley’s favorite game was to chase, and be chased by, the surf. Here they are at sunset, the second-to-the-last day of our visit.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell