Monday, December 10, 2012

this one time...

...we moved our chicken coop. remember that sweet chicken coop we built earlier this year? yeah, we decided it was in the wrong place. whah whah. 

once i mindlessly uttered the words "wouldn't it be nice if the chicken coop was over there?" it was a project that could not be averted. luckily i have a husband that takes those mindless utterances of mine and makes them into a reality.

between the garden and the chicken coop, all we had left for a yard was a thin strip of grass, so we opted to move the coop to open it up a bit. once we started the move we had to finish the move THAT day, since the chicks had to have somewhere to sleep that night.

brandon literally scratching his head about how we were going to make this work.
foundation laid, ready to rock and roll.
the critical tool brandon had to buy for this project was a hand winch.
and it was the best $14 we ever spent! 
no chickens were harmed in this move (surprisingly). 
we had the coop jacked up for the move, forgetting that the chickens would need to lay their eggs. being creatures of habit they ignored our pleas to stay out of the coop and crawled right in, laying their eggs while we hoisted the coop along.
frankie screeched at me most of the day for disrupting her home.

almost there.
i'm fairly certain the chicks thought we dug this trench just so they could clamber in and out all day. the tasty worms they found at the bottom of the trench only served to reinforce that notion.
the post-disaster aftermath. 
this picture makes me think of families searching through the ruins after a tornado. 
the coop all settled into the new corner.
the other motivation for this project was to allow brandon to tear out his
least favorite plant on the property: this lillac that was in the center of our yard.
he battled this bush from the day we moved in.
in fact, he has an incredibly gnarly scar. from a lilac. he is so hardcore.
although we only moved this 10' long building 12' to the east, it was a bit of an ordeal. on the plus side, it was completely worth it! i can't wait for spring to roll around so we can make something of our open, expansive backyard.

Friday, November 30, 2012


october and november were grueling months for me. basically, i did not leave work prior to 6:00PM for two whole months. add to that a lot of travel time and the encroaching darkness of these shortened days and you have one "crabby patty," as we say in our family.

on the upside, i got to see my godson and his glorious family, my lovely friend tiffany, the lincoln memorial, and one of the smithsonian's. those highlights were fantastic, but overall i've felt pretty dark.

one of the pieces that has been missing from my life is a good book. (to those of you that don't read voraciously i can imagine that last sentence sounds like a pathetically lame complaint, but i know the readers out there can relate.) i need another world to delve into each night--a story to get lost in--otherwise i find myself bumbling and fumbling through the real world with a nasty attitude. i've begun reading an anne lamott work of fiction and that has bouyed me, but it isn't fantastic. (btw, any suggestions for a fabulous work of fiction that is not mythology or fantasy?)

i've been dwelling a lot on the idea of stories. i think part of why i came into social work is that i enjoy hearing people's stories. when i meet couples i want to learn how they came to be. i love hearing birthing stories (although they do scare me a wee bit sometimes). when i work with people at the hospital it is natural for me to find out far more about their life in a matter of minutes than other care providers find out in weeks of taking care of them. when i think of people i treasure in my life part of the thing i admire most about each of them is the way they tell stories and see connections. 

brandon and i recently discovered a major difference between us: i can't listen to music without listening to lyrics and dwelling on these stories; he has to be quite intentional about hearing the words because generally he finds music to just be about the sounds. in other words, he sees the vast forrest while i see the detailed bark on the trees. i think this is why music has never been soothing to me when i am in a dark place. a lot of music is melancholy storytelling and i get drawn in; i can't not hear the stories, as much as i try. so in the past few months of stress and chaos i have come to discover that music can sooth me--provided i have no clue what the words are. my solution: hawaiian music. my hawaiian radio pandora station has seen a lot of play time lately. 

so there is this strange push and pull: i need a good story at the end of the day, in fact i love stories, but i can't always handle hearing them because of my intense investment.

these are just some random thoughts rolling around in my head, but i thought i would share my small solution in hopes of it helping someone else. mahalo and aloha...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

brandon is a YouTube star!

i think most folks know that brandon spent a couple of weeks in greenland this summer with a huge research project coming out of ucla. he was actually there during the biggest recorded melt in written history, so that was a big deal.

he was rubbing elbows with people from NASA (even people who had to skedaddle back from greenland in time for the mars rover launch because they were operating equipment on the rover!)  and riding in helicopters. it is strange to conceptualize this huge event in brandon's life and to not have any relatable experiences. i guess i have gotten incredibly used to doing things together.

anyhow, recently ucla got a video out about their work there. it is a bit propaganda ish and i cringe at the statement made at 1:40 on the video because, from the sound of things, it was far from that simplistic. never-the-less, this gives a sense of the work brandon was doing and the incredible scenery he saw.

you see a good shot of brandon launching the drone boat at about 1:28.

golly, isn't he swell?!?

Friday, September 28, 2012

atypical advice

my friend holly wood, who is admirable in innumerable ways (one of the best laughs in the world, adorable and charming son, committed to social justice, impeccable taste, improbable full name, i could go on...) shared this article "15 ways to stay married for 15 years." (don't fret about the term limit the title implies--the author has been married 15 years which is why she titled it that.) it is such a spot-on realistic portrayal of how to make marriage work--one you feel like you are getting from your childhood best friend who knows all your bad habits. you can read the full article, but these are my personal favorites:
3. Don’t criticize. Ever. Here is a fact: Whatever critical thing that you are about to say to your wife is already being loudly articulated in her head. And if it’s true, she already feels like crap about it. Assuming you married someone intelligent enough to like you and sane enough to let you put a ring on it, trust that they are self-aware enough to know when they screwed up. It may feel good to you in that moment to say the critical thing, let it go ringing through the air in all its sonorous correctness, but it will feel awful to hear it... 
5. Be proud and brag. Let your spouse hear you talking about them in glowing terms to other people. Be foolish. Be obvious. It will mean everything. You will stay married forever.
9. Move. [Over your life together] live in different houses. In different parts of the country. Travel. Make it so that you can look back and divide up your life into the years you spent in different cities, or different houses. If you’re feeling stuck geographically or physically, you can confuse yourself into thinking you’re stuck romantically. See your husband in different places, in different contexts, in different countries even. Try it. Take him to a mountaintop and give him another look. Pretty sexy. Take him to a new city and check out his profile. Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to change personally, or let your wife change as a person. Don’t worry about “growing apart.” Be brave and evolve. Become completely different. Don’t gather moss. Stagnation is unattractive.
10. Stop thinking temporarily. Marriage is not conditional. It is permanent. ... You tend to think in “ifs” and “thens” even when you’ve publicly committed to forever. If he does this, I won’t tolerate it. If I do this, he’ll leave me. If I get fat. If I change jobs. If he says mean things. If he doesn’t pay more attention. It’s natural, especially in the beginning of your marriage, to keep those doubts in your head. But the sooner you can get go of the idea that marriage is temporary, and will end if certain awful conditions are met, the sooner you will let go of all kinds of conflict and stress. Yes, you may find yourself in a horrible situation where it’s absolutely necessary to get a divorce. But going into it with divorce in the back of your mind, even in the way way way back of your mind, is going to cause a lot of unnecessary angst. Accept that you’re going to stay with him. He’s going to stay with you. Inhabit that and figure out how to make THAT work, instead of living with the “what if”s and “in case of”s.
12. Make a husband pact with your friends. The husband pact says this: I promise to listen to you complain about your husband even in the most dire terms, without it affecting my good opinion of him. I will agree with your harshest criticism, accept your gloomiest predictions. I will nod and furrow my brow and sigh when you describe him as a hideous ogre. Then when your fight is over and love shines again like a beautiful sunbeam in your life, I promise to forget everything you said and regard him as the most charming of princes once more. The husband pact is very useful because you want to be able to vent to your friend without having her actually start hating your husband. Because you don’t really mean all those things you say. And she, the swearer of the pact, knows this.
13. Bitch to his mother, not yours.This is one I did read somewhere in a magazine, and it’s totally true. His mother will forgive him. Yours never will.
14. Be loyal. All the crap you read in magazines about honesty, sense of humor, communication, sensitivity, date nights, couples weekends, blah blah blah can be trumped by one word: loyalty. You and your spouse are a team of two. It is you against the world. No one else is allowed on the team, and no one else will ever understand the team’s rules. This is okay. The team is not adversarial, the team does not tear its members down, the team does not sabotage the team’s success. Teammates work constantly to help and better their teammates. Loyalty means you put the other person in your marriage first all the time, and you let them put you first. Loyalty means subverting your whims or desires of the moment to better meet your spouse’s whims or desires, with the full understanding and expectation that they will be doing the same. This is the heart of everything, and it is a tricky balance. Sometimes it sways one way and some the other. Sometimes he gets to be crazy, sometimes it’s your turn. Sometimes she’s in the spotlight, sometimes you. Ups and downs, ultimately, don’t matter because the team endures.
thank god for kemi, sara, and tiff who made the husband pact years ago without ever uttering the oath.

what is your favorite point from this list?

good madness birthday wishes

matt has been a friend of our family for ages and been a part of our family for nearly a decade. he brings so much happiness to my mom, not to mention delicious food, perverted jokes, and love to our family. today i encountered this quote and it embodies my birthday wish for him well:
may your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. i hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art - write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. and i hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. -neil gaiman

matt, life hasn't dealt you the best hand lately. i am so glad you have had the best companion there to weather the storms with you. happy birthday and happy new year of "you" - i hope it is a bright and surprising one!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

the projects never cease

while brandon was in greenland, i got a little crazy with paint in our bedroom. having our friends (heath & emily) painting every room in their house & seeing the transformations they were enjoying inspired me to get on making something of our room. 

when we moved in we had a door from our bedroom to the back of the refridgerator. random! rob helped brandon remedy that situation back in february, but we hadn't done anything to make our bedroom more cozy otherwise. 

home inspection day:

end of june:


i was terrified to put such a dark color on my ceiling, fearing it would make the room seem smaller. in fact, the opposite happened. our room feels tall & luxurious. i love it! 

i also rewired the boring glass plate light with this drum light--i brag about this accomplishment to anyone that will listen. in actuality, rewiring a basic light is not as hard as anyone says. the drum light makes the room feel more finished & stands out (nicely) against the blue. 

i'm sure the colors aren't everyones cup of tea, but brandon came home to the surprise & was pleased. provided he & i like it, that is all that matters, right? we have a bit of chair rail to replace from the anti-door project, but that will have to wait until brandon gets back from this round of field work. (is this guy ever home?)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

oh how she grows!

evolution of our backyard garden...

- - -

welcome to my garden!

clockwise from top: tomato, tomato, brussel sprout,
spinach, carrots, onions, broccoli, brussel sprout. 
clockwise from wall-o-water: pepper, mini cantaloupe, (dragonfly light from AuntK), kale,
tomato, cucumber, potato, zuch, tomato.
unlike last year, my broccoli is rocking. this head is about 9" across.

potato cages in progress. 
- - -

all 8 hens. only the larger ones in the back are laying at this point.
cumin, ginger, & frankie. 
- - -

i am not a big fan of annuals, but these little flame plants have looked good since early june.
the lobelia on the other hand, is too finicky. 
our house as of july 20, 2012.
this is my little strawberry patch. it doesn't compare to the patch i recall grandma & grandpa few having in sisters, but it is a start. i have eaten two delicious berries out of there thus far. hopefully the rhubarb (far back) is hearty enough to harvest next year. strawberry rhubarb pie is calling my name...

Friday, July 20, 2012

for comparison's sake

i have put off taking photos of most of our house with the intention of making things "perfect" (& clean). i decided tonight that most folks who care about what our house looks like really don't care if it is photo shoot worthy. (i shared living room photos back in november.)

so this is what the kitchen looked like last august, during our home inspection:

i feel like we really haven't done much to the kitchen, but in contrast to the photos above, this place looks a whole lot different today:

while i have all kinds of plans a brewing for our kitchen remodel, i thought it would be good to document the current look. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

never a dull moment

a few, how shall i say... "odd" things have happened in recent days:

  1. i became ordained. it feels absolutely blasphemous to write that, but it is true. 

    i have been asked to officiate a friend's wedding, so i pursued online ordination. (a la joey on friends.) after i completed the lengthy 2 minute process, the website told me i should be very proud of this accomplishment (i am basking in pride at the moment, let me tell you! ha.) & that i could now be called reverend, minister, teacher, or healer. i'm debating, but "reverend overstreet" has its charms.

    i have some ambivalence about this ordination. i feel absolutely honored that friends desire me to preside over their wedding ceremony. but i also feel illegitimate as a representative of a church & this life-long connection i will now have to universal life church. perhaps it is my SPU indoctrination teachings & my catholic leanings, but it doesn't feel quite right. i don't plan to use this ordination for any church planting or the like, just to perform this wedding (& possibly future weddings if friends so desire--provided they can pony up with some gluten-free wedding cake).
  2. i became an assistant lecturer. i have been waiting for this for a while (which i lamented here) & partially believed it would never actually happen. turns out it happened july 1 & no one thought to fill me in. because clearly this doesn't impact me at all. 

    i am truly thrilled about this status change & wanting desperately to celebrate this long-awaited promotion with the other person in the world who is as excited as me. i guess that will have to wait.
  3. that other person i referenced above, he flew on a C130 to greenland this week. the town they are based out of is experiencing the highest river levels in recorded history. in fact, the town lost their only bridge due to massive flooding. luckily brandon & the crew he is working with out of UCLA have multiple choppers at their disposal so their research can proceed.
  4. lastly, i rode my cruiser bike around town with my nutcase dog running along side. this may seem minor, but let me tell you, this is a huge accomplishment. there are three required elements that i systematically included (retractable leash, spiky choke collar, & a pre-ride doggy exhaustion session at the park). we didn't crash once. squirrels & sticks were to blame for two near crashes, but those don't count, right? i'm pretty excited to continue to enjoy this canine-bike combination this summer.

Monday, July 9, 2012

last is better than DNF, right?

friday was one of those days where everything i touched fell apart--literally & figuratively. i couldn't get a project at work to go as i wanted, i got a call that harvey had jumped the fence,  i had to leave work early with tasks unfinished (due to said dog issue), & my bike broke on my urgent ride home (to collect said dog). i was huffing & puffing & ... irritated.

today has been one of those days too. i came home to change clothes to run to a meeting at the hospital i had forgotten about only to discover that the pesky nuisance of a dog had once again escaped our yard, my bike broke yet again (& more drastically) on my frantic ride home--to the point that i had to push it--the water pump went out in our van & had to be replaced to the tune of lots of money.

the weekend between friday & monday was lovely, but in the midst of the chaos i have not spent much time reliving the pleasant moments. brandon & i spent the weekend in the black hills, attended our friends' beautiful wedding, made a new friend at the trailhead, & took in mt rushmore. 

i sure wish that when chaos strikes i would be the type of person that calmly carries on. the person who has a clean car, an organized purse, & a routine for my day. in reality, i am the person who gets frustrated when the first thing doesn't go as planned, carelessly leaves things in the last place they were dropped, curses a lot under my breath, & generally makes the whole situation exponentially worse with my crabbiness. i have been a "crabby pattie" a lot lately.

the last time i raced in the local bike series i took last in my division. i wanted so badly to DNF because i was having major issues with my bike, but i decided i had come too far (& spent too much energy) to quit after the first lap. so i grit my teeth & pedaled it out in the one granny gear my bike would actually stay in. i was pretty bummed about my last place finish, although i jokingly consoled myself with the reality that someone has to be last. today i saw this little quote & it helped me get some perspective on my finish. 
from here.
so there you have it. i may not be my ideal version of myself that gracefully crosses the finish line or has a slick organization system for keeping all my bike stuff ready in our van, but i am the person that grits her teeth & finishes. sometimes you just have to embrace who you are. (although, i am working on cussing under my breath less often...)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

stenciled rain barrel tutorial

i've been itching to have a rain barrel collection system in place for a few years. since heath & emily moved this past month, they got rid of one of the extra barrels they had sitting around. heath's dad works for a refinery, so i guess he comes by these barrels frequently. i'm not sure where one would buy something similar or how much it would cost.
my blank blue slate
i knew i wanted some sort of fun design so i spray painted one
third of the barrel green to serve as the base for my stencil.
then we went on vacation, so i didn't touch the barrel for about a week.
i set up our projector to make the stencil.
(stencil design originally from here.)
the "bones" of the stencil are frog tape, which i placed (not perfectly)
where the tree image projected onto the barrel.
i used an exacto knife to carve out the tree
from the projected image.
i was working on another project simultaneously
 (hence the scraper in my hand--which i did NOT use for this project).
i did, however, employ the glasses & mask combo.
i picked a 90 degree day to do this, so that mask was not comfortable,
but i managed to avoid a contact high from the spray paint. 
my first coat of brown. you can barely see the tree pattern under there.

all painted up & drying in the heat.
to prevent the caps from getting painted shut, i slipped rubber gloves over them.
worked like a charm!
pulling off the stencil was an exciting & terrifying moment.
for the most part, the stencil worked. (yah!)
there are a few bands around the barrel, which created bulges
under the stencil, so those areas are a wee bit fuzzy.
brandon ordered a diverter from amazon.
this will allow the water to flow into the barrel until the barrel is full,
at which point it will flow through the remainder of the gutter
(not attached in this picture) & out away from the house. 

here she is in front of our house.
ignore the crispy brown grass--we are slowly bringing that back to life.
hopefully the rain barrel will assist with that.
the only thing missing in this photo is the spigot, which we installed yesterday.
brandon just picked up a basic spigot at home depot,
used the appropriate drill-bit, & caulked the spigot before shoving it in. 
we finished this project up just in time, because last night we had a great rainstorm. we are all grateful for the rain, as it allowed crews to get an edge on the wildfire blazing west of town. perhaps it was an if-you-build-it-they-will-come thing?