Sunday, October 13, 2013

Early Bugsgiving Post

Hellooooo!!!!  And welcome to life after (I hope) bedbugs!  I know the last post was a little dreary-seeming.  Things were not the best at the time of my writing that...even my mom said to me, "Yeah, your last post wasn't as happy as usual..."  But we survived (barely!).  I think I may still have a bit of PTSD from the experience--I can't stop stooping down to identify every bit of dirt that I see on the floor, bed, furniture--on the off chance that is a dreaded bug.  Thankfully, that's all I've been seeing for weeks now, though...lint, dirt, other bugs, fur, more dirt...I literally have not seen a bedbug for weeks, verging on months!  (KNOCK ON ALL OF THE WOOD!!!  I DON'T WANT TO JINX IT!!!).  Needless to say, I'm feeling more positive, mostly because they're (eep!!) gone, but also because we got to replace all of the bedbug infested things (which we got rid of a long while ago) with new things!  Wee!!!!  A bedbug makeover!!

So, to appease my mother, I will make this post a *positive* one, and we will look at all of the good things that the bedbugs gave us.  Let's call it an "Early Bugsgiving Post," just to make it official.  Bugsgave us a new couch!  Well, actually we built it, but because we wanted to make it fit our house perfectly!  In the (hopefully) unlikely case that we ever have to deal with the soulless pests again, the cushions feature covers that are light in color (for easy sightings), removable (for easy killings), and are comfy as well!  The pillows can easily be thrown into the dryer (for fast bedbug deaths), and so all around I feel pretty comfortable sitting on the thing.  Peter and I were really excited about the fact that we get more seating because we don't have to make room for  the thick armrests of standard couches.  Plus, I think the damn thing is pretty chic.

Zippers, while very ugly, will stay on the front until we are totally claiming ourselves to be completely in the clear.  Otherwise they have a seamless side that will go on the front...

Bugsgave us a new and improved studio/study!!!  Though I was excited about finishing the studio the first time, I don't know why--the design was totally amateur.  (Note slight sarcasm).  I just don't know what I was thinking before.  Organizing and designing should always be done twice.  It just makes your life so much easier, right?

Ok, in all seriousness, though...we really do like the new layout.  I have more room to practice on my piano (or in front of my piano when practicing voice), and I can now work on BOTH sides of my desk, which had been a problem in the other layout when the table was next to the wall.  With the new layout comes more storage also.  Everything a girl could ever want!  I'm excited to get back to work.

Last but not least, bugsgave us a new bed!!  While we tossed the actual mattress into a bedbug encasement (equipped with a zipper tight enough to keep out the little buggers), we got a new bed-frame that we really adore.  (Yes, I know it's feminine!  Peter does like it too, I swear!).  Whereas the old frame had stationary slats that were pretty inflexible when you laid on it, it was made of wood (bedbugs' favorite!), and it was short and close to the ground (Ahhh!!! Sheets touching the floor!!!! AHHH!!!), this has nice bouncy slats, a metal frame (slippery-slidey for bedbug feet!), and tall (covers a safe distance from the floor).  Top it off with some fresh new white sheets (all the better for seeing you, my disgusting bugs), and it's an amazing sleeping experience.  I actually look forward for bed sometimes (family, you'll know this to be an odd thing...).

Note the giant plastic bag mess in the upper right corner.  That is what it looks like when you have bedbugs.  Clean clothes go in designated bags, dirty go on other designated bags...

So, that's it for now.  Hopefully the coast will be clear for a much longer period of time, and then we can really give ourselves the "all clear" but for the moment, we'll just say, "ADIEU BEDBUGS!!!" (FINGERS CROSSED!!)

Thanks for reading, you guys, and for bearing through the treachery.  I know no one really likes to talk about parasites (except for select family members of mine--ahem...DAVIE, and KATHI), but parasites are real, and sometimes they happen.  And in those cases, they're bound to come up in conversation...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I'll have the puppy with a side of bedbugs

Meet Sasha!  Our glamorous puppy.  (Photo Credit:  Maya Kosok)
Meet Mr. Bedbug.  Our unglamorous, uninvited guest.

Disclaimer:  This post will most likely have TONS of typos.  I apologize, I wrote it in a rush, and just decided to post it without a proofread.  Forgive me!  I'll proofread the next post, I swear (but only if the bedbugs are gone by that point!). 
Now--I know I post a lot of happy photos, finished products, successes, and progress, and so if you are looking for that--this is not the post for you.  Once in a while we all need a reality check.  A time for reflection, and seriousness, and this is that post.  Things here at the Remington Rad have not been so glamorous lately. 

It all started so innocently.  We thought Kitty had fleas.  I had bites, Kitty had bites--looking back on it, I'd say we were both getting eaten alive.  We chalked it up to the fact that Kitty was spending more time outside and that this kind of thing was to be expected.  So we started treating the house for fleas.  I had read that diatomaceous earth was a great natural pesticide for fleas, so I started spreading this around the perimeters of the rooms--when it got bad enough, I even got Kitty a flea collar...we were taking care of the problem...or so we thought.

...meanwhile, I had been perusing the animal shelter websites.  Throughout the year, we'd had an on and off conversation about getting a dog for companionship, yes, but also for security.  While Remington is a great neighborhood, it is still transitioning, and I had been feeling a little vulnerable during some of Peter's overnight calls.  It seemed like now was the time that we should start thinking about getting a dog--especially since Peter's calls were getting longer in his second year of residency. 

I had been searching the shelter websites for a while, but found nothing that we were really interested in.  Baltimore's shelters were full of pitbull mixes, which with the controversy surrounding the breed in the city, I wanted nothing to do with.  But then I found an adorable litter of shepherd husky mixes... 

Anyway, this story is taking a little bit longer to tell than it really deserves.  I ended up filling out an application to adopt one week, and suddenly we were due to pick up the puppy two weeks later.  I knew a puppy was going to be a lot of work--especially an 8 week old pup, but since I work at home, it seemed like with a little bit of planning and structure, it wouldn't be too much to handle.  A day or two before I was supposed to pick up the dog, Peter and I were sitting in our living room talking.  Peter slapped his belly suddenly and said, "that was weird, that bug was full of blood." 

After spending a few hours (actually, if we're going to be real--it could have been a few days) in denial, I was finally persuaded that this bug, which had sauntered across Peter's belly before meeting its bloody demise, was indeed a bedbug.  And this is when life really began to change.  Fast forward to present day, and I am just now finishing the very last loads of our laundry (bedbugs, adult, larvae, and eggs, cannot survive extremely high temperatures, so if you put them in the dryer for 2 hours on high, you're good).  Reality for us looks like this:  we keep all clothes, both clean and dirty, in plastic bags; we have no furniture in our living room (they met their maker at the dump last week); our sheets have to be washed and dried weekly (on high for 2 hours!) to curb the risk of a re-infestation in our bed; we have spent hundreds of dollars on bed-bug paraphernalia, including a new bed-frame and DIY "bed-bug interceptor cups" that go under each leg of the bed, to both monitor and trap existing bedbug infestation; and we cannot have any guests to our house. 

And we have a puppy.  That needs love, affection, patience, training, housebreaking, a feeding schedule, a poop and pee schedule, PATIENCE, space to run around, time, PATIENCE.  Oh did I mention PATIENCE?  Balancing bedbug extermination and the puppy has been difficult, especially since Peter is in an extremely time-consuming rotation.  I have pretty much been a full-time puppy mom and bed-bug exterminator, and also a social butterfly because--well I can't stand to be in the house.  Though Peter was the one to find the first bug, he rarely gets any bites, and when he does they're tiny and insignificant.  When I get them, they become welts--itchy, swollen and red.  And then they become bumps that break open and scab over, leaving me with big scars when they're all said and done.  Real attractive--such a delight!

Because we don't really know where we got them, nor where they're really living, we're having to go through the contents of our house in their entirety.  All rugs have been picked up and bagged, all clothes (as I mentioned), every nook and cranny must be inspected and possibly sprayed with rubbing alcohol (70-91% kills bedbugs, larvae and eggs upon contact)--this includes floorboards, trim, brick walls, dressers, get the idea.  The worst part of this, is that because we don't really know where we got them, there is always the potential re-infestation.  Quite possibly, we got them from our neighbors (who most likely got them from their neighbors on the other side).  If this is the case, then we may have some very long years in our future (full of repeat infestations--eek!).  The other possibility is that I somehow brought them home in a very innocent-looking bag of nice mohair yarn that I got at the thrift store for $1.49.  At this moment it's still very hard to tell where it all began... 

These thoughts keep going through my head, though:  event though this sucks, and I'm literally going a little crazy because of these bugs, we are actually in the best position to have these little visitors in comparison.  Because I have a flexible work schedule, and we don't starve when I can't make art, I have been able to meticulously go through every single thing that we own, and I have been able to find most of their tricky hiding places (inside the base of a floor lamp!!  UGH!!), I am able to dry every piece of cloth that can be dried.  I can't imagine what we would do if we both had full-time jobs, if we had kids, if we didn't have the money to buy these things that we can.  Bed bugs have historically had a stigma attached to them, associated mostly with the impoverished population, and though the demographic has definitely changed in the latest resurgence in the past decade (New York City is FULL OF THEM!!), I can see how having a low income would definitely put you at a disadvantage when fighting these little buggers.  Quite literally, I could imagine we would be losing the fight if we weren't in our current situation.  

If we both had to work full-time, and even if we hired professionals to do the entire treatment (we're just going to hire at the end to get an "all clear"--hopefully.  Fingers crossed), we would still have to dry and bag everything we owned.  CAREFULLY.  We would still have to go through our belongings, and judging by how long it has taken me, this would most likely not get done.  Or, if it did, it wouldn't be thorough enough.  Having a puppy through this all is bad enough, throw in a kid or two instead, and the time would be even more limited, the resources would be even more limited, the patience would be even more limited.  Because even if we hired a professional, it would be entirely possible that it won't be taken care of completely because we weren't thorough with our clothes... and we'd re-infest ourselves, over and over again.  And because we are living in a "lower income" neighborhood which has such tiny (attached) rowhomes, we're all stacked on top of one another.  Like New York, this provides the perfect opportunity for the spread of bed-bugs.  

And then there's the psychological effect of bedbugs:  there's the anxiety over getting bitten during sleep, the paranoia that every single bite is a bedbug bite (even if it's just a mosquito bite) and thinking that everything you seen on the floor is a bedbug (I know it sounds hilarious...but this is very real...), the depression that settles in due to feeling all alone and not feeling safe in your own home, and the relationship troubles due to the tension and stress that the bedbugs cause...

So, we're lucky.  Though it's hard to count blessing during times such as these, at some point that's all you can do... (or so they say).  We've got a cute dog, and a cat who tolerates her presence most of the time; at the end of all this, we'll have a REALLY clean and organized house (we will be forever changed and I highly doubt we'll live the heavily cluttered life we lived before.  I don't think I'll ever store things on the floor again!  So paranoid!!); we'll get firsthand knowledge of what so many other people are having to face (including the painful understanding of what "good night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite" means); we're both healthy and still together with a roof over our head.  We're just a bit...itchy...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Steamy Summer...

...makes for lazy post updating.

Ugh, I promised a post last week, and then my family came to visit!  YAY!!!  But the post never got written (boo), and at this point I don't even know where to begin!  While I've been lazy with the posts, we have not been lazy with getting things done.  We have a new front light (solar sensitive so it only comes on at night!) thanks to Peter's electrical abilities, we have upgraded tomato cages, new bike racks for vertical storage, patio furniture (thanks, Mommy and Daddy!), and flourishing gardens even in the summer heat.  

It's been a great summer so far.  It was fun to see what our house was capable of.  Throughout my family's visit, we deemed it very possible for it to house 6 people at one time, though it is HOT and incredibly cozy.  And for party purposes, we figured out that it can hold up to 25-30 people at one time with some spillout into the backyard.  Again, it's intimate, but still possible!  I think that's pretty good for 812 sqft, right?

I've finally been working in my studio more, which has been pretty great.  We figured out a way to cool it enough so I don't die in there, so look for updates on the art side of things soon.  Alright, enough from me, here are the photos.  Oh, and a shout out to Crystal Roel for the photo push.  =)  

BIKES!!!  Finally we don't have to trip over them every time we travel between the kitchen and the living room.

I like the way they look next to our hanging rack and bench.

And now into the "front yard"...bachelor's buttons!!!

The bamboo is growing, and so is the perennial mix that I threw in there at the beginning of the summer! 

Sooooo green!!!

Shot from above.  Notice the unintended melon that just sprouted there.  I'm excited to see what it really is.  

New light!  Thank you Peter!

Now the backyard!  Here it is! 

New chairs from my parents.  I think they brighten things up.  They're comfortable and cool on the skin.  Excellent for summer relaxing in the yard. 

WE FINALLY HAVE A HOSE IN THE BACKYARD!  Our neighbor Miguel (who is a professional plumber) installed it a couple weeks ago.  You should have seen the drill he used to drill THOUGH THE ENTIRE BRICK WALL (3 layers of brick) so that we could connect the spigot to the water line.  IT WAS A SERIOUS DRILL.  Whoa.   

Tomato wranglers in the back, it was indeed a wrestling match to get those up and in there.  Somehow our tomatoes are doing extremely well in our soil!  So excited!

Photo from the back of the yard.  Notice the new fence that Miguel installed a few days ago.  Though it was nice to have it open, it's also nice to have some privacy back there.  Plus now we can let Kitty out there and not worry too much about her escaping. 

Close-up on fence and fig.  It finally got leaves!  Not dead after all!

Little heirloom lettuce mix! 

Peppers and blackberries!

An eggplant!  I've never seen eggplants grow before.  They're so cute...

Close-up on the tomato plants!  Even with the posts and wire, they're still a bit unruly.  Tsk tsk tsk.

Another attempt to capture the whole thing. 

Chairs and table from our friend Molly (thanks, Molly!!!).  Two extra chairs hang in the back ready for friends to use.  (oops, I can see now that I forgot to remove the tags on the chairs...they're brand new...)

The back yard! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Twinkle twinkle!

Newest addition to the back yard. Solar lights! On sale at Target of all places. I think they're pretty cool. And since we took out our back light (it was attached to the shed we took down), and our electrical situation is "complicated" back there, the fact that the lights are solar and don't need to be plugged in at all, is a huge plus. AND, no monthly energy fees! I hadn't posted anything for a while, so I also included a few dusk images of the yard with the lights.

The bamboo in the front is doing really well, and I'll post some photos of them at the end of the week, as well as some other projects that we were working on this week. Hope everyone's June is going well!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kitchen Makeover Part Deux!

Finally FINALLY the kitchen is finished.  This last project--painting--was one that just dragged on and on.  But it's done!  And I really like the way that it turned out.  In fact, it looks so right that we had some people over, and they didn't even notice the new paint-job.  I take that as a compliment!  But in lieu of the fact that this is a blog about progress and projects, I'll post a before photo and an after photo.

In fact, here is a before photo from before we even owned the house!!!! 
And here is an after photo!  Crazy, huh?

Sorry, it's a little blurry...

Although it's not entirely clean here, the nice new coat of paint makes it feel cleaner when we do have it clean.  I didn't realize how grungy the kitchen felt even when we would do a deep clean. 

Oopy, another blurry one.  But it gives you a good idea of the new color. 
This project will probably the last one for a little bit.  I decided to do it during a time when I was really motivated, but when Peter was in a really heavy rotation.  So, I did all of the painting solo!  I'm exhausted from house projects!  Time to make some more art!  But no worries I'm sure I'll get a hankering to do some more stuff real soon.  Happy spring, y'all!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tiger in the Grass!

Hello again!  I know I promised a post yesterday, but I just couldn't quite deliver this amazing post quite that quickly...I'm really not going to say much here, this post is going to mostly be a photo tour.  Your guide:  Kitty!  She's been coming out with me in the mornings, and it's such a treat to watch her explore.  She's never really spent much time outside before, and so everything she sees really seems to delight her.  Plus, she loves eating the grass.  While I love having Kitty outside with me, it also delights me that she's spreading her cat-smell all over the place.  It's got to be part of the reason that the rats haven't eaten everything in the yard...
Kitty with some greens. 

Putting the seedlings out for some sun. 

Kitty looking up at some birds.

This growth is literally from the past week and a half.  It's pretty crazy how fast stuff is growing. 

Alright, this post is becoming a little "Kitty obsessive."  It's not nearly as exciting to see the photos of her exploring as it is to actually watch her explore. 

One more picture of Kitty.  It gives you some perspective on how big things are, right? 

So much more green!!!

The hops have progressed...and in the lower right hand corner is a little rosemary plant!

Tomatoes!  I'm trying to keep them a little hidden.  I attempted some phytoremediation with some mustard greens (I've since been told that doesn't work, but we'll see...), but I've found that the rats hate it.  So far, so good.  The tomato plants are still all in one piece (knock on wood!).

Baby pawpaw!!!!