Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Forced Catorexia

All her life Una has had problems with her teeth. She needs to be knocked out to have her teeth cleaned and she has reached an age where it is tricky to tell which is the lesser of two evils: letting her teeth rot or risking the possible side effects of putting a rickety old cat under anesthesia. Shortly before we left Los Angeles she went under for a tumor removal and I guess it would be OK to put her under again for her teeth. I don't know. Anyway, they are getting bad and she hasn't been eating very much dry food. It's been hard to tell because all four cats eat from the same bowls so I never know who is eating what except by feline waistlines. Well, that and someone puked up a half digested mouse (Quinten). The point is, Una has been wasting away and spending all her days immobile in her heated cat bed. We put her on a wet food diet this week to see if that would help. It has made a big difference. She is more playful and engaging than she has been in quite a while. She is like a new cat. So are Lily and Russell. They know something is up and they want in on the gig. We feed Una as quietly as possible in the bathroom while they are howling and pacing on the other side of the door. You may think we are cruel not to share but they are both little porkers who absolutely do not need one more calorie in their diets. So, as much as we hate to hear them cry for the good stuff we are sticking to our guns, so far.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fireworks and Country Hooligans

We have been initiated.

Last night I woke up around 4:30am. I don't know what woke me up. I tossed and turned trying to fall back asleep. A few minutes later a burst of little explosions jerked me wide awake. Matt and I sat up wondering what on earth was going on. He said it sounded like firecrackers. That tractor that we rented on Thursday and Friday is still here. The company hasn't picked it up yet. I don't know why it's still in the yard. We called for a pick-up Friday morning. The point is that we are responsible for it as long as it is here and these things have a tendency to get stolen. Crazy. With each noise I would look out the window to make sure it hadn't been carted away. 45 minutes later we were still trying to get back to sleep when Matt heard another noise. He got up and turned on our motion lights and they immediately triggered on. He looked outside with a flashlight but didn't see anything. He wondered aloud if our mailbox was still there. We got dressed and headed out into the dark and fog with our flashlight. Everything looked OK on the way down the drive. About halfway down we could see the reflective letters of the box in the beam of light so we knew it was still there. When we got to the box the front had been blown open by all the firecrackers that had been set off inside it.

Again, this happened at 4:30am. Who is out at that time of day trying to blow up mailboxes? I'd like to think it's a bunch of wayward kids who will get smarter and grow out if it, but I am more inclined to think we are dealing with some drunk, dumbass grownups. Such is the neighborhood.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Behold the giant hunks of frozen earth - and this is the least frozen side of the house so what you are looking at is only 8" thick.

I cry Uncle. I give up. After our non-pass from the foundation inspector we had to get a soil engineer in to make a recommendation. The soil engineer came last Friday. He was dressed in penny loafers and a button down shirt and his wife was in the car waiting. He tip-toed around the area that was not muddy (uh, nowhere) said "you've got to get rid of the water" (uh, duh!), and was gone in 5 minutes. He was supposed to stay to meet with the county inspector but he was gone by the time the inspector arrived. On Tuesday we received his drawing. The plan called for digging a trench 8" below the bottom of the footing all around the exterior of the forms. Then we are to put a 4" layer of gravel, a 4" perforated drain pipe, and another layer of gravel. The point being that the ground water will drain into the gravel and pipe in the trench and be diverted around the house instead of sitting on the pad.

This plan is better than ripping out all the forms but worse than we had hoped for. The rain let up and we are now in a deep freeze. We rented a tractor to help dig through the frozen ground (thanks Grandpa!) thinking that one day should be good enough to get all the way around. Mother Nature had other plans. On day one of the rental Tom and Matt made it all the way along the west side of the house and partway along the north side of the house. Every foot things seemed to get worse. We revised the scope of work at the end of the first day. We thought if we could just get through the ice and finish up the north side until the thaw that would be good. We started up on the north side again this morning and didn't even make one foot of progress. The ground is frozen over 1 foot down and the tractor just couldn't pry anything loose.

So. I concede. I bend my knee in surrender. This foundation will not be poured anytime soon. We have done everything possible to appease the inspector and work around the slings and arrows Mother Nature is throwing at us. It is not enough. I am going to stop fighting and raging and just go with the flow. Otherwise I am going to burst something inside - either a vital organ or my emotional stability (which is already in question). The foundation will be done when it is done. The house will be done when it is done. My time line means nothing to the rain, mud and ice.

Digging on the west side of the house. This side was easiest because we had to dig down the farthest. We were able to get below the frost line and pry the frozen ground up. The rest of the perimeter was frozen down well below what needed digging out.

Matt working the tractor.

Frosty Shadow, Frozen Pinecone

While Tom and Matt were picking away at the frozen ground I took a shot of my alter ego on the frozen ground and a frozen pinecone. I am a great help.

What? No rain or fog?

A week ago we had a beautiful, sunny Sunday. It was a perfect day for a drive up to the mountain. I got this gorgeous shot.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I had a grand post planned about my week in Seattle for Postal Training. I stayed in the Warwick International hotel. I had a great time except while driving. Seattle needs to work on it's signage. Anyway, the whole foundation mess has taken the wind out of my sails and I don't feel like typing the Seattle trip out. A few notes: I loved the city. It felt so good to be in an urban area again. I really needed that. It is a beautiful place. I was able to do some damage to the bank account at a bunch of local stores and that made me happy. Matt came up and joined me on the last night and we did the basic tourist things: The Space Needle and Pike's Place Market. We ate really well and shopped really well. Good times. The pictures below were taken from the balcony of my hotel room. Nice.

Seahawks fan

This post is really late. The pictures here were taken at the Seahawks/Redskins game on Jan 5. Jess (pictured at left below) called Tom last minute with 2 extra tickets to the game. Tom invited Matt and off they went. The weather called for SOAKING rain so I didn't feel bad at all that I would not be attending. I did watch the last few minutes of the game on TV. It was thrilling. The momentum of the Seahawks really got going and they won the game in style. Matt sat just 3 rows up from the field near the center. A killer initiation into live football for him
Jess, Tom, Matt

The Winters Family and Friends

This picture was taken off the Seahawks website. See if you can spot Matt - hint: he is not in a green hat.

How to make a grown woman cry

Tell her, after repeated assurances to the contrary, that the ground is too saturated to pour the foundation. Make sure not to mention this could be a problem when the plans go through the permitting process in October. Make sure you wait to tell her this until after all the forms are in place and the cement truck is on it's way. Tell her if she had poured before the rains started the soil would probably have been ok. Tell her the only solution is to tear out the forms it took a crew 2 weeks to install, over-excavate under the house, lay rock and fabric and then re-form. That or let everything sit until next summer. Right now, Washington Sucks Rocks. I am pissed. Is it too late to move back to Los Angeles? I need a paper bag to breath into.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A quick diversion from construction to politics

It's been a very long time since I felt hopeful and optimistic about any politician on a national level. I know that campaigns are all about rosy forecasts and the reality of office is vetos, lobbies with more money and influence than god, partisan bickering and filibusters and corporations with representatives in their pockets. Still, I am grateful to Barak Obama for reminding me that there is a way forward that is positive. I am posting this video in the hopes that it stirs the same hopeful feelings in those of you who may not have seen it after the Iowa caucus. What I loved best is that his speech is all about what "we" can accomplish, not all "me" this and "I" that. Shades of JFK. That is all.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The final piece of the puzzle

I haven't posted recently because I have been getting to know my new cousin, Jenna. I have now met everyone on the Lahmann side of the family. Jenna is the oldest cousin, or rather she WAS the oldest cousin until I arrived on the scene. She and her husband, Tarleton, and son, Jonas, live in Ithaca, NY. This is their first trip west since we moved to WA. We all hit it off really well and I have been spending all the time I can with them until they head back home.
Jenna & me

The 3 Lahmann cousins of the female persuasion: me, Jill, (Jonas) & Jenna

Tarleton, Jenna, Jonas, me & Matt