Category Archives: For serious y’all


A few months ago I made a passing comment about smashing a hole in our kitchen ceiling. We got home from Christmas dinner and there was water dripping from the ceiling. We promptly pulled down a large chunk of drywall in an attempt to figure out where it was coming from, having forgotten in that moment that all the plumbing from upstairs runs straight down into the basement and isn’t in the ceiling at all.

We did discover a vapor barrier, though, which was trapping a lot of the water (the eastern quarter of our kitchen doesn’t have any rooms above it, so the ceiling was insulated and the vapor barrier was installed to, I dunno, keep it in place?). You can sort of see it in this photo. There was enough water in it that it had found the edge of the plastic and was dripping from there through a seam in the drywall. We sliced open the plastic and let the water run out. It was immediately obvious that the water was coming from the friggin’ monsoon outside. If you’re in the general Twin Cities area you may remember the unseasonable horror show that happened on Christmas. Which, side note, we probably should not have been driving in. Oh well.

The next day, post-rain, we went out and looked and found this:

gee, I wonder how that rain got in.

Ta-da. What happened next is a long story of nothing actually happening. Insurance doesn’t cover the roof repair, and their estimate for the ceiling repair doesn’t meet our deductible which I’m not really mad about. We’d have to wait until spring for someone to get up and fix the roof, so we might as well wait to fix the ceiling as well in case it rained enough to leak more (while it did rain several times, no more water ever entered our kitchen).

Well! It’s spring. I hopped on Home Advisor last week, and they sent my contact info to three companies. They all called me back the next day. One guy came out that afternoon and gave us an estimate. Another took too long to call me back with his schedule. While I was waiting for estimator-guy to leave, I returned a call to the first company that had left me a voicemail and, spoiler alert, they’re the company who handled the repair. Because we had a smaller job, they could send a service tech out to do an estimate and repair all in one trip. Yesterday, Jerico from American Building Contractors came out, did a proper inspection to verify that the hole in our siding was in fact the source of our leak, and then fixed it. And not only was it super affordable, it was just shy of half the cost of the first estimate. I’m calling this a win. Now we just have to wait and see how long it takes us to get around to fixing the ceiling hole. Maybe a DIY? We’ll see.

gross gross gross

Dudes. We have spent the last five weeks dealing with bed bug treatment. Our upstairs neighbors got ’em. We went through three treatments, spent two weeks living out of bags, and temporarily lost a cat in the process. Holy shit.

The first treatment was scheduled for Friday, March 4. In my fear, I went out and bought plastic covers for our mattress and box spring. Not a bad idea, because if we did have bugs in our mattress this would keep them from getting out. But also a terrible idea because now we can’t take the plastic off. It is loud and hot. Plus the exterminator brought a much nicer, non-plastic cover for after he treated the mattress which is plenty on its own.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Our landlords were supposed to send us a checklist of prep we were supposed to have done before the exterminator came. We didn’t get the checklist so we were not ready (turns out they had mailed it, and it arrived the day of the treatment). Thankfully, the exterminator said he’d take a bit of time out of his weekend to come back so we wouldn’t have to wait for a new appointment. Darren had to work, but I spent the rest of that Friday washing basically everything we own and packing half out shit in boxes and bags. Here’s a link to a checklist similar to the one we received.

During the treatment, which occurred Sunday, March 6, we took the pets to Darren’s friend’s house for the four hours we were required to vacate. In that time, Winston disappeared. We thought he’d reappear in a day or two, but he didn’t. At first we assumed he was somewhere in the house, but after a few days we started to worry that he’d gotten outside somehow. I posted Lost Cat ads online and one of Darren’s friend’s roommates made posters. On Saturday, March 19, he emerged from inside the couch. The most talkative cat I’ve ever met had crawled into an open seam and hid in silence for two weeks.

Between the first and second treatments, we had to leave all of our stuff bagged. It was a very unpleasant two weeks living with our apartment in that state. It didn’t feel like home, which is uncomfortable and stressful. PLUS OUR CAT WAS MISSING. Nightmare. Treatment number two was Monday the 21st. Two days after bringing Winston home, we had to take him (and the other two animals) away again. We only had to leave for two hours, so we went back to the same place and Winston stayed in his carrier. Lucy was the one who disappeared that time, but she was found in a closet under the basement stairs after just a few hours. We went home and happily unpacked our stuff, thinking it was all over.

Nope! We ended up having a third treatment this past Monday, the 4th. Did I mention I was using vacation time to deal with every one of these weekday exterminator visits? Ugh. We had to wash and pack a bunch of stuff again, although this time we were able to leave pictures on the wall and stuff. Plus we had a few days to prepare, which helped a bit. One more four hour trip away from home and I’m surprised Lucy hasn’t murdered us all, poor thing. She hates her carrier, she hates being in a strange place. But as far as we know, it’s actually over now… although when we unpacked this time, we left our clothes in their bags just in case. Everything is back where it belongs, just wrapped up. When you have coin-operated laundry and have to wash everything you own, it gets very expensive. So we’ll leave some things in bags for a bit, particularly things we won’t use, juuuust in case.

Since our current mattress has to live in plastic I plan on just replacing it asap. I’ll purchase one of the nice, non-plastic covers for it, because I feel like I’m going to have bed bug paranoia at least until we move out of this building, so better safe than sorry.

If we have to do this again I might just lose my mind.

the rest of the story… busted car style

That time I posted about Darren’s car accident and said things were going smoothly? I spoke too soon. We only had liability coverage on the ol’ Impreza, so our insurance co. was like “sorry, we’re actually not dealing with this for you,” so Darren had to handle it himself. It involved many phone calls to a claims adjuster with the other driver’s insurance company. And because he works nights, it was a lot of exchanging voicemails, because she would call around 8 am while he was sleeping.

The accident happened on December 18. We borrowed my brother’s truck for just over a week before they – okay, I’m just going to tell you, It was Farmers – hooked us up with a rental car. We picked that up on the 28th. Eventually they sent someone out to look at the car, and on Friday January 8 they made us a settlement offer that totally sucked, which we were expecting. They also told us that they would only continue paying for the rental through January 11. I immediately went to our credit union and met with a loan officer. We did a fair bit of online car browsing over the weekend, and then I called in to work on the 11th so we could go do some test driving.

Farmers called Darren halfway through the day after they got his message that their offer wasn’t going to work for us. The adjuster they sent out didn’t take into account any of the work we’d had done in the car. This guy was local; the primary person Darren had been dealing with is in an office in Oklahoma. She agreed to extend the rental a few more days, and Darren forwarded her the repair receipts.

We found a new car that day, and completed the purchase the next day. Hooray!

On January 15, Farmers made us an offer we could live with. It at least covered the cost of the very expensive part we had replaced two days before the accident, so that was something. We sent them our title, and on January 27 they towed away the Impreza. We finally received our check yesterday – February 5. Seven weeks to the day after the accident occurred.

Whew. We are both very glad to be done with all that nonsense. We also love the new car – new to us, it’s a 2010 – so at least we seem to have gotten something good out of the ordeal.

the long story of our busted car

The heat in our car died last weekend. Darren called the shop on Monday and I dropped it off early Tuesday morning. It was all fixed in time for Darren to get to work Wednesday afternoon. The cost was several hundreds of dollars. It is basically a sad tradition for us to have costly vehicle repairs at Christmastime- this was the case with our last vehicle as well.

Last night I had just arrived at a Christmas party with a bunch of my favorite friends, when I got two texts from Darren. He was at work. The texts said “Call me now” and “NOW” and I told Kate that if something else on the car had broken I was going to flip my shit. What actually happened was Darren was out on a delivery and had parked. He was still in the car when a moving van backed into him.


The police (as well as Darren’s employer) were called and Darren made his delivery. Might as well get the job done while you wait, eh? The guy who hit him invited him inside to keep warm. Apparently it was a little awkward (lol, no shit), but the guy was decent and thankful that Darren was being so chill about the whole situation. Even though this guy at first was all “do we really need to call the cops though?” YES. YES YOU DO. Anyway, St. Anthony police showed up first and couldn’t do anything because the accident actually occurred in St. Paul. Eventually the correct department arrived and a report was filed. It was determined that the other driver was completely at fault, so score one for us. Darren didn’t want to wait another hour+ for a tow truck to arrive so he managed to hobble the car home. His manager sent another driver to pick him up and bring him to the shop. He made sure Darren got dinner, and they filled out an incident report. The bartender gave him a drink on the house because clearly everyone there is SO NICE YOU GUYS. His manager offered to set Darren up with a ride home, but his friend was on the way.

He’re another thing. Whenever either of us have had to call our insurance company for anything, they are always just incredibly awesome. The woman he spoke with last night was so great Darren told her supervisor to give her a raise. She called back and said she was going to be the adjuster on our claim. Hooray!

While all this was happening, I was at this party contemplating what the hell we were going to do. Darren needs a car for work and as you may know they are also super handy for life in general. Plus it’s Christmas time, so. Eventually I remembered that Kyle has two vehicles and I shot him a hopeful text. My brother, my hero. He’s going to let us borrow one of ’em. I owe him so many burritos!

At the end of the day, this is all a huge pain in the ass that magically could not be going more smoothly– so far, at least. Who knows what happens from here. Plus if the car is totaled then we’re pretty pissed about the brand new blower motor we just had put in. But nobody was hurt and we’re going to be able to live our lives in the meantime. That’s somethin’.

spoiler alert: my mom doesn’t have cancer

Not this time!

On Friday, while we were getting everything ready for Darren’s party (before he threw out his back. He has since fully recovered), I received a text from my mom. it was a group text to my and my three brothers that said she’d be having back surgery on the 25th. She hurt her back at work in May, and at some point her doctor found a “suspicious mass” that needed to be removed.

So that’s fun.

Mom had cancer – I don’t know if it was technically tongue or throat, but the very small tumors were on the way back of her tongue – back in 2006 or so, but I was all “nope nope nope” and figured it was best to just wait and see. I didn’t even think to google until just now, so good job me.

Anyway, I got another group text while I was on the train home yesterday. Good news, surgery went well and it was a benign tumor. I sent a happy response and teared up a little, because the last thing my family needs this year is anything else shitty. Happy healing, mom!

don’t be fooled: this post is not about television.

There are a handful of shows on TV these days that I watch regularly. Most of the time I do that on the weekends via Hulu. Tonight I watched the most recent episodes of Parenthood on NBC (the second-to-last episode of the series!), and Mom on CBS. I also watched the final episode of the unfortunately canceled NBC show A to Z, but this post is happening because of the previous two.

On Parenthood, the family patriarch, Zeek, is  – to make a long story short – dying. He has a heart condition and although they don’t know how much time he has left, it is what it is. Meanwhile, his eldest daughter just got engaged. She’s in her early 40s and has adult children and she’s finally found love. But her dad is sick. She and her fiance Hank have been talking about fancy wedding plans, but with everything going on with her dad Sarah sits down with Hank and explains that she wants to get married locally, and soon, like next week (aka the last episode of the series), because “I just want to make sure that my dad is there.”

And suddenly almost 23 years of FEELINGS came pouring out of my face. There haven’t been many instances in the past couple decades where I’m anything other than matter-of-fact about my father being gone, but apparently I have a trigger. The last time I was overwhelmed with this particular emotion was sometime in the fall probably, when I thought about Kyle and Jenna’s baby-to-be and how dad won’t be here to meet his first/likely only grandchild. So I guess my trigger is Important Life Events That Dads Should Be There For, like weddings and babies.

Anyway, later in the evening I watched CBS’s Mom, and Christy’s dad Alvin, who only recently came back into her and her mom Bonnie’s life, dies suddenly (in the middle of bangin’ Bonnie). Christy spends the episode trying to keep it together for the sake of her kids and Bonnie, but at the very end she’s crying alone in her bedroom. Bonnie comes in to comfort her and at one point Christy says something about how she had so little time with him. Well I was still all fragile after Parenthood so I went ahead and lost it again.

Listen, my brother and I have an awesome stepfather (he and mom will be celebrating their 24th wedding anniversary this summer) who we both have been calling our dad for so long that I don’t remember ever calling him anything else. We’re not lacking in the father department. But shit, man, it sure would be nice to have both of them, y’know?

50 things that made my year

I got this idea from Tim, who was inspired by another blogger. They both went to 100, but I found 50 to be… well, easier.

In no particular order, fifty things that made my year in 2014:

  1. ringing in 2014 in Fort Kickass
  2. yoga
  3. headstands and the other cool stuff I’m learning to do with my body. That sounds dirty.
  4. construction of the Green Line finally finished and now I get to take the train to work
  5. my resolutions for the year: eat more cheese and eat more burritos. Massive successes.
  6. that time the White House had a real-life Big Block of Cheese Day
  7. that genius burrito Kickstarter campaign
  8. the even more amazing Reading Rainbow campaign
  9. we got rid of our janky old car
  10. I learned to knit
  11. PuppyCam happened again
  12. that time Enli and I encountered a squirrel in the yard carrying an entire egg roll in its mouth.
  13. RiffTrax Live was perhaps a life-changing experience.
  14. Clay Aiken ran for Congress, his opponent died, and he still lost.
  15. Finally took Darren to the original motherland of Bagley, WI. It was kind of sad, but I’m glad we made it there anyway.
  16. So many office happy hours.
  17. Peanut Butter Oreos
  18. I started making my own BBQ sauce and life may never be the same.
  19. The horrible upstairs neighbors broke up and moved out.
  20. that time I saw Derek Jeter in real life and spent the rest of the day singing Derek Jeter’s Taco Hole.
  21. Sharknado 2 and the existence of the Sharknado theme song
  22. the day of my oldest brother’s wedding, I learned that my Twinkle is gonna be a dad (in like 2 1/2 months, whaaaat!)
  23. So, yeah: Cody got married, Tyler got engaged, Kyle and Jenna are having a baby. I’m piggybacking off my brothers and their Big Life Events.
  24. that time a bunch of us only worked until noon and then went to a baseball game
  25. playing Goldeneye for the first time in probably 15 years
  26. midterm elections happened and I got to experience the joy of not voting for Mike McFadden.
  27. we went to a hunting-themed wedding where the groom wore a camouflage tuxedo jacket and it made my life.
  28. I watched so much good TV, thanks in large part to Netflix. Psych, Twin Peaks, all of Gilmore Girls, yet another West Wing rewatch… to name a few.
  29. the OMG Literally Dead Instagram account
  30. spending a day swimming and bar-hopping with Brenna, and more friends joining in
  31. lunch on the “patio” at the Blue Door with Kate, in the rain
  32. so many birthday cupcakes!
  33. I finally read The Princess Bride
  34. Other “made my year” books I read: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Hyperbole and a Half, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  35. mom gave us copies of her pregnancy notes so I scanned ’em.
  36. watching Enli and Winston wrestle
  37. I saw a very impressive Beatles tribute show
  38. I made cheese
  39. yet another excellent day at the State Fair
  40. we put in new seats at the Orpheum and it was crazytown.
  41. I crocheted several adorable things for Fetus Johnston.
  42. these ladies
  43. this guy
  44. these little monsters
  45. air plants and my ability to actually keep them alive
  46. when Kelsey’s question for Nick Offerman ended up on the Tonight Show.
  47. this picture of me and my dad
  48. all the things that made (and continue to make) me laugh really hard, like this gif.
  49. meeting a bunch of new friends
  50. many, many excellent cups of coffee.