Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

2009 is over -- what a great year! We moved in together, into the Principal's Office of an artist community/elementary school building; Rusty got to tour with Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra, then started a cabinet building program at Seattle Central; Dina released her first Dunava CD and started working at Expedia. And then we adopted the cutest kittens on the planet! We have a lot to be happy about and thankful for. Tonight we'll celebrate with some friends, some cheese and chocolate fondue, and by watching "Dinner for One" -- one of those German traditions I'm determined to keep around.

Happy 2010, everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Cat-mas!

It's been a very merry and happy month of December in the Principal's office. A couple weeks ago Rusty and I adopted two kittens! They are around six months old, had been rescued from an abandoned litter and have been living in foster care, waiting for adoption. Once we met them, it was instantly decided. We chose a brother and sister from the litter of four (two brothers are still waiting for adoption), a pair of tabbies, with plenty of spunk and affection and personality.

Welcome, Gavin and Teagan! (Oh, you have no idea how long I waited for them to sit still for this picture. For each nice shot there must be twenty blurry ones of tails and paws dashing around...)

Gavin is the fluffy one; Teagan has amazing markings that make her look a little like an ocelot. They like to wrestle and chase each other, play with a wide variety of toys, crawl into every corner of our apartment, nap, and cuddle with us. (Teagan has been snuggled on my lap for most of this post.)

They are certainly keeping us entertained!

But alas, tomorrow we leave them for a few days, as we drive to Eugene to visit my family for Christmas. I'm sure we won't be able to talk about anything else but our two fuzzballs. But we know our neighbors will take good care of them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


There is heat!

In the school! Yes! Actually, there has been heat for weeks... it's just the pump to *our* rooms that was broken, and since the parts in question date back to the 1950s, it took a while to find a replacement. But I guess it's been found. As of this afternoon, our heaters have been cranking out warmth.


Actually: it gets warm really fast. (I'm getting over the flu, so I don't mind a little toastiness at all!) Turning off the heat involves taking a flashlight and going through the rainy parking lot to the boiler room and fiddling with the timer contraption that seems awfully, well, manual. Dates back to the 1950s. I should really post a picture... I will, I promise.

If all goes well, the heater should kick back on at 8 p.m. I'm very curious. That's in 15 minutes. Oh boy...!

Next project: Putting up the window panels of saran wrap, to keep the heat from sneaking right out of our giant single-paned windows.

Friday, October 16, 2009


It's cold days here at the school. Outside temperatures certainly warrant the heat to be turned on, but we are waiting for a couple replacement parts for the leaky (?) boiler. So in the meantime: space heaters. Fleece. Cuddle up.

We had another idea for warming up the place: have a housewarming party! Lots of people showed up, and for a while the place did get really warm. (It didn't hurt that we had been baking and cooking all morning long to prepare.) Unfortunately, amidst the mingling and snacking and giving hourly tours of the school, neither one of us remembered to take any photos. Just imagine a crowded room! That's how it looked.

But I do have other photos. :-) I maybe never mentioned that this is the first place that Rusty and I moved into together. (Awww!) (And yes, this is his first official land residence after spending 4+ years living on a sail boat!) So there are lots of firsts for us. Our laundry all goes in the same hamper now. Our towels are all stacked up together. But the biggest merger must have been the merging of the CDs.

Mine were in many midsized CD racks. His were mostly in boxes! But we found a big gynormous CD shelf on sale, so presto: let the sorting fun begin!

Alphabetized by group or artist/composer's last name. This is leading to some interesting neighbors (could I say "bed-fellows" here? I think not): Vaughn-Williams next to Vandenplas. Kitka next to Kiss. And what do we have a lot of? Sting! Steve Ray Vaugn. And Bulgarian Women's Choirs. I think between the two of us, we have ALL of those. But the true sign of commitment is getting rid of the duplicates. Oh boy. This is it!

The same day we got that shelf, we also finally decided to get ourselves the house-warming present we've been planning on all along. Yup, and we've been playing it. It's one way to keep the fingers warm...

(Oh, P.S.: Does anyone want a couple mid-sized CD racks? They're still out on the free table...)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Noise pollution

A recent school-wide e-mail from Rusty caused some stir and discussion:

"I wanted to ask everyone's understanding of something that has become something of an issue for Dina and me (and we haven't been sure of how to handle it) so I am making a plea. The bathrooms on the north end of the building, while being much quieter since Anne made improvements, are a source of distasteful nightly distraction. Imagine every night (and I do mean EVERY night) lying down in your nice, comfortable bed and enjoying the sounds of exuberant defecation gently rocking you to sleep, or cuddling up to the one you love to the discordant symphony #2 (the bowel movement is my favorite), or trying to enjoy a late night snack while someone enjoys a late night dump. Assuming that people are coming down to this bathroom at night for privacy (and why else would you walk all the way down to these toilets when the other ones are way closer for most people), let me assure you that we can hear you scratch your nose (and EVERY other sound that you make) reverberating into our quiet, night-time home. I would like to ask for a very gentle and completely voluntary 10pm curfew on the north bathrooms ..."

Ah, community living. We are spoiled by having those two bathrooms right outside of our front door, whereas everyone else has to walk the halls to either these or the central bathrooms. The community came up with a better option than the poo-curfew: a door! A door with soundproofing that will separate our space from the public bathrooms, thereby affording everyone more privacy. (And giving us a hallway, so we don't constantly have to lock and unlock every room we are in as we move around.)

So that's what's happening: a door is being built. Right now. It's very very cool. Love quick and efficient decision-making!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Hi! I know... is this thing on? Is anyone still posting?

Well, Seattle survived a record heat wave last week, with temperatures creeping over 100 throughout the area. (Rusty is on the road again and was spared, but not really -- he got to visit balmy places like Nevada, Utah, Colorado and now Texas!) I discovered, happily, that the school stays relatively cool -- not air conditioned, but not sweltering like some people's houses. So I hosted my first Dunava rehearsal in our music studio (should have taken a picture!). Temps were tolerable, and in between running to the kitchen for ice water and popsicles, we sang, and it sounded pretty good!

Then I got a job, and have not been doing much "around the place." Until today. Ah, today! One of my dreams came true today...

... I got a piano! It's exactly what I've been dreaming of. A friend of mine sold it to me, so I know where it came from. And let me tell you: it's worth hiring piano movers. They know what they're doing! They're fast! They take care of your baby! They were worth every penny. (J & J Piano Movers from Seattle; they don't have a Web site, but I do recommend them!)

Putting the piano in the office (mom says it has to be by an inside wall, and well, that's the only inside wall I have right now) meant I had to move the last two sections of my red couch out of here. My five-piece sectional didn't fit in the living room, so ... what to do?

Reading nook by the window. Nice! (Do you think I should turn that corner piece the other way? It's a little odd... but hey...)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Music Studio!

I'm back... sorry for the delay. I had a wonderful time at Balkan Camp, and promptly got a nasty head cold when I came home. I do that almost every year. It must be psychological by now; no one else I know who was there got sick.

But first of all: kudos to Rusty! He made so many changes, little and not-so-little, that it was a joy to come home to the school. (And very comfortable to be sick and not do anything for a few days.) He rebuilt the bed, even fixed the breaking frame (cheap Ikea construction, what can I say), so no more sleeping on the floor. He completely cleared out the music studio space and confined all boxes to the dark room and the east end of the studio, next to the office. Plants are everywhere. It's starting to be really cozy!

So now he's off again on another tour with Ottmar Liebert, and it's up to me to tinker along and "make progress." Hm. I'd love to unpack some of those boxes, but with every other one I look at, it becomes really clear that we need a closet. We have bookshelves galore, but there is no storage for clothes, linens, towels, and bathroom items. So, more trips to Ikea in the future. (Unless someone has a better suggestion? Please? I'm starting to lose my enthusiasm for pressboard furniture...)

But one thing I have done is start to use that studio for what it's ultimately meant for: making music. Behold my music studio set-up:

I'm very shy about playing. I've been practicing the gudulka and violin, and I'm a beginner at both, so it's not pretty. (And the room is wonderfully resonant, so I'm sure sounds are leaking into the hallway!) So, to all my neighbors: please forgive me...!

-- What does a gudulka sound like, you ask? Well, here you go:

Friday, July 3, 2009

If it ain't broke, rip it off the wall.

Well, with Dina gone I have been remiss in updating the blog but here we go! I have been really busy with not that much to show for it but progress IS being made. I have started working on the music room and with every step forward there are two steps back. First there were these large pin board panels on the wall and I wanted them off so I could paint and put up acoustic sound dampening foam so I began pulling the first one down and what did I find? They were glued on to...plaster. *sigh*
Two hours later I had finally pulled the first panel down as well as what seemed like most of the wall. The second one on the back wall was NOT glued but only screwed to the wall and came off easily. Another 2 or 3 hours later and the room was cleaned and ready to paint. The next step will be to paint the room a warm red and glue (!) acoustic sound dampening foam panels to the wall where the plaster used to be. Well, at least we now have a stove to cook with and lights!
Actually, I was really bummed when I pulled the wall apart but after cleaning everything up I am starting to get excited again. Unfortunately, I will be leaving July 6th to do another tour with OL so I won't be able to make any more progress until I return in August. I can hardly wait to be able to play drums at home!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Light! Food! Cactus!

I like to keep my blog updates short, because I figure all y'all's attention span is like mine -- what was I saying? Oh yeah.... well, a lot has been happening, so this could be long. (Also, in commemorating one of my teenage idols who just passed away, I'm downloading a boatload of Michael Jackson songs as I type, so I have lots of time to write until that's done...!)

Earlier this week the electricians took over the place. And now several wonderful things have occurred:
  • We have overhead lights in the living room! (And yes, I still like the color that I painted it when fully illuminated -- phew!)
  • We have overhead lights in the kitchen!
  • The living room light switch no longer power the outlets in the kitchen... yes, I know. It was funky wiring.
And best of all (drumroll),
  • We have a stove! And it works!
Background story: we bought a stove from the previous renters. It was wired somehow through the school clock system, which probably wasn't quite legal, so we wanted to install a 220 line and do it right. The stove was small, so we traded it with another resident who moved in recently and who'd somehow gotten a stove bigger than she needed. We are cookers. Well, Rusty is, mainly. But a bigger stove is definitely better for us. Last night I made a trial batch of No Pudge Brownies -- yum! Just the smell through the apartment alone is worth the effort!

What else has happened?

  • The office is "done." But it's a big mess, so no photo yet. But it's yellow and lovely and a happy space to be.
  • Rusty planted a cactus outside our bedroom window. Photo:
  • I don't have a closet, so most of my clothes are still in boxes, but I'm learning to make do: I got a small clothes rack for the bedroom. And I finally got super-anal about my dresser. You all don't mind seeing a photo of my underwear drawer, do you? I'm so proud of myself, and it makes me happy every time I open it!

That's it for now, I think...! Tomorrow morning I leave for Balkan Music & Dance Camp in the Woodlands by Mendocino, so no blogging for me -- but hopefully Rusty will post something.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bike storage!

Lest anyone thinks Dina is doing all the work around here... oh no no no. (Just all the blogging -- so far!)

Last night Rusty converted our little storage area (yes, with all this space we still get storage!) into bike storage. Just a few hooks into some plywood and presto! Room for all the wheels. Even room to work on the wheels. (The storage room, btw, is the former Boy's bathroom. All fixtures have been removed, and residents divide it up fairly, with areas being demarcated by duct tape on the floor.)

This made me so happy. And I think it's the first time Rusty has had all his bikes in one location in many many years. (Only one of those bikes is mine, although my favorite bike geek says I need another one...!)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Yellow Dreams...

Ok, back to painting.

I've moved on to the Conference Room, which is to become our home office. Originally we thought this would be *my* office, so I got to choose the color, but lately we realize (as the kitchen table gets more and more cluttered) that we'll probably both use it equally.

Before: White-ish walls with a hint of green, and a bright green heater and window sill. The heating pipes are white, but I couldn't tell until I painted the heater and they stopped reflecting the green. This time I tried to "prep" the area and chip off some of the green paint from the window sill -- it peeled of frighteningly easy. I think I got down to elementary-school-original beige. With some sanding, I hope the new paint sticks better...!

After: Yellow! I love yellow. My happiest living space was a room I got to paint yellow. So I thought I'd try to recreate that. What do you think? I'll leave the heater, window sill and door frames white... and the pipes too, of course.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Living spaces!

Remember living among paint cans?

There's been progress! We have an actual living room now. It's sparse, because we still hope to lay down carpet at some point, but behold -- a place to hang out!

The area rug from Fred Meyer really pulls it all together in a dramatic way. Rusty looked over after we had assembled our room and thought it looked rather like a volcano. Red and yellow and black and brown. Hot hot hot!

There's even a kitchen table to sit at, but it's not pretty, so no photo. :-) And today I start painting the next room: my office. Whee!

Monday, June 15, 2009


For once, I'm not going to blog about paint. No more paint. Yes, the ceiling is done! But that's it.

In fact, let's leave our living space alone for now. There are cool things happening outside our office door that are worth mentioning.

Number one: the shared bathroom. This is one of the first things people ask about when we tell them about living in a school. Even though Rusty and I have one of the two (?) lucky residencies with a toilet (the other is the Kindergarten space... ooh boy, more about that some other time) -- the toilet doesn't work. It's basically just a closet space. Maybe we'll rip the bowl out sometime and make more room. Sometime.

Most of the residents share the updated facilities of the (former) Girls' Bathroom. The stalls have been expanded, and the doors are extended upwards by artfully carved plywood, for beauty and privacy. Then there are the shower room and the tub room. It was actually these two rooms that first convinced me I wanted to live here. I couldn't imagine a nicer bathroom. Sharing is not an issue; even with 14 residents to one shower, I've only had to wait once for 10 minutes. I think everyone's schedule is erratic enough that it works out; not everyone here is a nine-to-fiver.

Just outside the main bathroom is the Free Table. This is a stroke of brilliance: any item no longer wanted by its owner gets placed there, free for the taking. If the item is still there after three days, the owner has to take it back and dispose of it some other way. I've already gotten rid of numerous items this way (extra rice cooker, straw hat, feather boa) and picked up items (Portuguese phrase book, microwave oven!). Today someone has deposited a pile of Christmas decor, complete with blinking wreath. (And apparently it's all found a good home already, too!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Done painting... almost

I finished painting the living/dining room! This took, oh, over two weeks. Along the way, I
  • picked out the same identical color that was already on the wall (by mistake)
  • ran out of the color I wanted, and had it matched by a different paint store...
  • ... only to discover that, while the color matched, the texture and sheen did not
  • experimented with an "accent color" (tomato soup red) that we both didn't like
  • found out that retouching primer is a disaster if the primer is still wet -- it takes the primer right off. The "accented" section had to be primed twice.
  • altogether, painted every section of the room at least three times. Some got painted up to six times. :-)
But it looks great, now. I even finished the door frames and window sills. Then Rusty comes home last night, lies on the floor (after a long bike ride home, which is mostly uphill), and says, "You know... we should really paint the ceiling...!"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dos and Don'ts when driving with paint

  • DO: hammer the paint lid shut solidly before you put it in your car.
  • DO: check and see what fell over in the trunk when you are driving with half-full paint cans in your trunk. (Or: DON'T wait to check, only to discover the spill when you finally get home after running errands all day.)
  • DON'T: attempt to wipe the spill up with rags. It will take forever, and you'll spend much more time rinsing out rags than actually wiping up paint. And you won't get it all.
  • DO: drive to a self-service car wash, after having emptied out the trunk of all the other garbage that's in there (and now yellow).
  • DO: take out the spare tire and the jumper cables before washing out the trunk.
  • DON'T: pull the trigger on the power sprayer when spraying out the paint in your trunk. It will squirt paint and dirt back in your face.
  • DO: figure out a way to drain the water/paint from your trunk. If you don't, read on:
  • DO: use the vacuum hose to suck up the paint puddle in your trunk, where your spare tire used to be.
  • DO: drive away inconspicuously as the yellow water starts leaking from the vacuum machine...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'm not loving it...

Ok, here's why painting the living/dining room is taking so long:

The structure of the school is supported by heavy cement beams and pillars, either standing free or being part of a wall. Each room therefore has these beams jutting out in the ceilings or at the top of the walls. How to paint this? At first I thought I didn't want the headache of figuring out a color scheme (I'd already rescued the bedroom from a white wall/green beam blend), but then Rusty and I thought we should just try it. So on top of our lovely yummy wall color (which I now call "sunny delight"), we tried what I thought would be a red, brick-like accent color.

Result: yuck.

I don't know -- it reminds me of several fast food chains at once. Or bright cartoons. It's not primary red/primary yellow, but the combination is just too... foody. As I put it on I suddenly wanted some cream of tomato soup. Rusty thought it looked like pumpkin.

What do you think?

So we're back to where we were: let's just go yellow all the way up. Leaving the beams white lowers the appearance of the ceilings, and we love the high ceilings. I'll still paint the door frames and window trim white, for *some* contrast.

Any other clever ideas before I climb back on the ladder?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Living while painting

We're plugging away at making out space livable. But it takes a while. The living/dining room area is big, and I didn't get enough paint... and what's more, it's an "adjusted" color for which I don't have an exact paint formula, so trying to get a second gallon to match took several trips to various paint and hardware stores. And now we want to add a contrasting color.

Here's a snapshot of the current state of our dining room. But with a final push (oh, and finding some carpeting!), I'm hoping we can move in some more comfortable furniture later this week. And then... on to the next room.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

We moved!

Okay, it's time to take a break and update the blog...

The move happened. Well, the biggest part of the move happened. We are moving in several stages:

  1. Move Rusty off sailboat and into Dina's apartment -- done.
  2. Move Rusty out of his studio space and store contents in new studio at school -- done.
  3. Move Dina's apartment into school -- that happened this past weekend.
We had ten people, total, I believe, helping us, either with loading, unloading, or both. It happened in record time -- less than four hours -- which I suppose means we're getting good at this, but I don't intend to keep on practicing. This is it! No more moving for five years!

The rooms at the school were mostly empty, but not quite how we want them. We're painting everything, and need to fix some wiring. Before the move this weekend, I'd finished painting the bedroom and had started on the living/dining room. For now, then, all our stuff is in the book room/studio, while we get each room ready to move into.

I should probably explain what rooms we are inhabiting in the school:

  • Main office/waiting room: our living and dining room
  • Principal's office: bedroom
  • Nurse's office: Rusty's darkroom
  • Kitchen: kitchen. (Was it always a kitchen? We're not sure... do offices have kitchens?)
  • Conference room: Dina's office
  • Book room: Music studio
Photos are uploaded here. Stay tuned on how we're progressing on making the place really cool...!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

We're Moving!

We've found a new home: The artist studios of (former) Cedar Park Elementary School. We will live in the Principal's Office. Here is a link to our "before" pictures.