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September 29, 2009

Civil discourse

According to The Onion last week, Friday, 9/25, was supposed to mark the nadir of western civilization. A few sources identified in the article agreed with me that there's probably lower yet to go.... I don't say this because I'm hopeful for humanity, but rather because I believe we have farther to fall into complete and utter disgrace. I think today's "Cornered" nails this sentiment:

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September 4, 2009

Political Rant

It's probably because most of the media I pay attention to has some kind of left-lean to it, but I'm going absolutely crazy reading or hearing about all of the nut-jobs in this country. Oh. My. Dog!!!

Of course almost everyone has heard about Obama's plan to address the nation's school kids. And the right wing has once again lost their minds! "Oh, no!" they cry. "He's going to turn them into little socialists."

Can we please just sit down, shut up, and realize the world hasn't ended since Obama took office in January or was elected last November? Can we? Please? For my sanity?

I was listening to an older "Wait, Wait" episode over lunch. Peter described some of the antics at town halls regarding health care. While these crazies are entertaining, I couldn't laugh because they scare me so much. WHO really believes that Obama will turn the U.S. into just-post-WWII Russia? (It's in the "Who's Carl this time" section at the very beginning of the August 15 episode.)

I'm just so sickened, disgusted, and downright scared of these people that it can get hard to even leave the house. I liked Motherreader's response today, but again, preaching to the choir. I'll show you "Death Panels," dear crazies of America, oh, just wait until I get those death panels in place. Trust me...you'll be the first to know.

UPDATE: Just read David Sirota's "editor's pick" Open Salon blog post from yesterday. I think he puts my concern into even better words. These are scary times, and while the crazies are amusing for their very craziness, those of us who still have some sanity left may become an ever-dwindling minority....

September 2, 2009

Grapes

As Dog is my witness, I will never work with Concord Grapes again! (ok, a slight revision of Scarlett O'Hara's famous "never be hungry" line...how many of you caught that reference?)

We picked our grapes this weekend. That means wrestling with leaves the size of platters to get to the clusters, then keep all of the grapes together while tearing them from the vines. Without smooshing them. Or losing them. Or losing it at the sight of few-days-old out-of-skin grapes that the birds kindly left you to think of some kind of slime monster.

Then comes the question of what to do with grapes, especially when you're not really set up for canning. What to do with four LARGE bowls of grapes. That you have to seed. Google "seeding grapes" and come up with this pie recipe. Think to yourself, "ok, we can do this in time to take it to friends for a BSG evening" (we're trying to finish the second half of the last season....that's all we have left, and we just can't seem to get together to make it happen).

Um, yeah. Skinning the grapes is actually fun. You pull the grape of the stem, point the hole where the stem was into a bowl, and lightly squeeze, pushing the grape out. I can definitely see where the "peeled grapes for eyeballs" works for haunted houses and the like.

Seeding the grapes is not so much fun. No problems with boiling them to loosen the seeds. But pressing them through either a colandar or a sieve just wasn't working. Maybe I didn't boil them enough. Maybe I wasn't pressing them correctly. But the amount of time and niggling details for getting grapes without seeds....I could have watched quite a few episodes of Weeds or Pushing Daisies or even BSG for that amount of time. My right shoulder is killing me.

And my 4 1/2 cups of grapes? Actually enough for 3 pies, when I was really expecting one. And I didn't even get through peeling and seeding all of the grapes we picked. And we had to finish cooking the pie at the friends' because we were already way late as it was.

So, we had two pies, with the fixings for a third. And another two pies (maybe 3) waiting for their turn to be skinned, seeded, pureed, and baked. I finished the third pie last night, only turned it into a crumble instead. I may have over-cooked this one, and I may have forgotten to put extra sugar into the grape pulp itself, so it may be inedible. But no worries! I have the fixings for more!

So. Very. Tired. Of. Dealing. With. Grapes! The Husband says there are more ripe grapes on the vine. I told him he was on his own.

May 21, 2009

A skeptic's hell

I sure can sympathize...

Boy on a Stick and Slither 5/21/09
Boy on stick skeptic hell.gif

May 5, 2009

If I had all the money in the world....

Just discovered jewelry maker Wendy Brandes. Normally large rings and things don't do anything for me aesthetically because I can't wear them well. But there is something about her work that I just love.

Here are some of my favorites:

Queen Min Ring
WBrandesDragonRing.jpg

Bat with Agate Necklace
WBrandesBatAgate.jpg

Acorn and Squirrel Necklace
WBrandesSquirrelAcorn.jpg

Wendy is a fan of British royalty, so she's also up on her history, which is particularly cool. She has a lot of entries on her blog regarding Henry VIII and his wives, as well as the contemporary designer world. Pretty interesting reading.

April 22, 2009

Welcome to Minnesota [Nice]

boy on stick passive aggressive.gif

I tend to be a "I calls em as I sees em" kind of person, which can lead to some injured feelings, but I do try to be honest. It's just that not everyone wants honesty all the time...I'm having to learn how to be "honest" while preserving sensitivities as well. Today's "Boy on a Stick and Slither" pretty much represents my take on "Minnesota Nice."

April 6, 2009

New Artwork

I haven't shown any of my artwork recently, but I have done some. Click the thumbnails below for a much larger image. I had to use the scanner at work, which isn't the best of scanners, so there are some flaws that are simply a result of the scanner.

When I first saw Bill of the Birds' tri-colored heron picture, I knew that was one I wanted to paint. I'm no Julie Zickefoose when it comes to watercolor, but I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out.

tri-heron.JPG

I had a similar thought with Birdchick's wood duck picture. I wish I could make my water colors mimic that irridescence the feathers really have, but again, I'm pretty happy with this one overall.

wood duck.JPG

Finally, this is just a very quick, and not-completed pencil sketch of Kaya, a Dane from Australia whose blog I've been following. I was surprisingly devastated to learn that her people had to let her go after a very sudden illness. I don't plan to do any more work on this one, but I do love how her face came out for just a quick sketch.

reeves kaya.JPG

March 26, 2009

Bisbee Pictures

I posted my Bisbee pictures on Flickr the other night. I took a ton of them (digital is helpful/dangerous that way). I loved every part of the vacation except coming home.

Why did we return?

This Mutts strip says it all:

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Why? you might ask.

Well...

here's what we left (aka, shorts and sleeveless shirts all week long):

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and here's what we've returned to (aka, put the winter coat back together because you need it):

Mpls-weather-March09.jpg

March 22, 2009

Arizona Trip: Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico

Wow. What a day of driving. We actually left Mpls on Thursday evening (7 or so pm) and found a hotel in Des Moines. Not far, but we travelled most of MN and IA in the dark, which is fine by both of us. So today, we covered 2/3 of Nebraska, took I-76 through eastern Colorado to Denver, then I-25 south from Denver to Raton, New Mexico. We could have done more, but it's not a problem to be a little bit leisurely on our way to Bisbee, AZ.

But the wildlife! It's bird-return season in Nebraska. Between Grand Island and Kearney, NE, we saw so many birds. My birding skills are not good, but I could identify the hundreds (if not thousands) of sandhill cranes, snow geese, and canada geese that were flocking and soaring and flying and swimming. We opened the sunroof so I could see some of them overhead; the V formations were in layers...it was the best air show I've ever seen. In the distance, the flocks would swirl like little bits of confetti in the air. The sun would catch the white of the snow geese against the brilliant blue sky and turn them silver; then they would meander a different direction out of the sun and become an ashy gray. It was an incredible sight. But these weren't the only birds. I'm also not good at identifying raptors, but we definitely saw a lot of hawks in the area...I suspect they were partially hunting all of the migrant birds. But that was nothing next to the beautifully stunning bald eagle that was just on the side of the road. I took over driving somewhere west of North Platte, and the husband admonished me: "Do NOT watch the birds." I hope some of them are still there on the way back so that maybe I can get some pictures.

After I took over driving, the birds actually became fewer and more common to the area (raptors, meadowlarks, etc.). So the next object of my attention was the minature pony farm we passed. I actually briefly woke up the husband with my giggle when I realized that the creatures I was looking at were not, in fact, fat goats, but rather the cutest little barrel ponies.

Since we are in the west, it should come as no shock that we also saw many fields of cows (including a few R-rated scenes, and little teeny tiny babies that were products of previous R-rated scenes). But I had forgotten that the pronghorn antelope also migrate south for the winter. Between Pueblo and Trinidad, CO, we saw some large herds of 'lopes. I'm not really used to seeing 'lopes any place other than Wyoming (they really don't show up in all that many states), so was overjoyed to see them in southern CO too. I saw some deer in frosty Iowa fields this morning, but the playing deer and antelope were nothing compared to the herd of elk I saw on the way up the Raton Pass into New Mexico. I'll try to get a picture of the "Elk Crossing" signs on the pass on our way back; I've seen the standard deer crossing signs, but really haven't ever seen an "elk crossing" sign.

Unfortunately, I wasn't ever able to get a picture of any of the wildlife. I got some scenery pictures through the car window (we'll see how well they turn out), but missed some good wildlife shots. But I'm so grateful to have seen it at all. The whole drive today was from one awesome animal display to another.

March 11, 2009

Sundog

One of the few highlights this morning was the gorgeous sundog we saw on our way to the cafe. It looked something like this 2/19/05 image.

Should'a stayed in bed...

Not my morning. Did not expect the drop from 20-something yesterday to minus-something today. Backed out of the driveway and the ice berm/new snow-ice helped push me into my friend's car--only minor damage, but there nonetheless. Husband's first question: "didn't you see the car there?" "Well, yes, honey. I did see the car. That's why I hit it." Had husband call to explain to friend (I was driving, wanted her to know before she saw it)--woke friend up when calling to let her know.

Took an employee to a near-by cafe for performance review (a good one, fortunately). Was hoping to get a sandwich, but wasn't surprised they weren't ready for that. Ordered an Italian Soda--out of club soda. Ordered a mango smoothie. Out of mango. (All items on the menu, by the way...the sandwich was the only one that should have been iffy because it was morning.) Got a strawberry banana smoothie. Okay, but I really wanted an Italian Soda.

Called friend back because I couldn't reach her at work--she's home sick today.

All before 9 a.m.

Should'a stayed in bed.

February 26, 2009

Yep, that's me

but I was there last week...

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February 5, 2009

ESTP?

My blog is

ESTP - The Doers
The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

Hmm. I don't see myself that way, but then, my blog is not me. Interesting. Typealyze your own blog.

Death of the yarn

I must admit, I have a ball of yarn that is probably feeling the same way as this poor guy....

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From Bent Objects

January 30, 2009

Just what century is this?

Um, really? A 15 year old girl in Oklahoma has been accused (by her school) of hexing a teacher and causing the teacher to become ill. Needless to say, the ACLU is involved now.

Between that and the mother of 6 children already between 2 and 7 giving birth to octuplets, I'm just ready to find a cave to live in for the rest of my life.

January 13, 2009

Snappy

I am a
Snapdragon

What Flower
Are You?

"Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh."

Maybe, or maybe not accurate, but I do like snapdragons, so I'm keeping it. :-)

January 12, 2009

Dogs in Conversations

NPR's A Way With Words' newsletter pointed to a website that compiles the myriad of ways we reference dogs in conversation: Metaphor Dogs. From the few examples I've looked at, it appears to be pretty well researched. (The link is to the actual contents; if you want the full site experience, with graphics and baying hounds, start on the main page.)

December 18, 2008

No problem here...

I first saw this comic on my friend Janice's blog at the beginning of December:

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I read "Rhymes with Orange" online, and very rarely on Sundays, so I hadn't seen it myself. But my mother does read it in the newspaper, and I wondered if she would send it to me. I didn't think she was going to, until we opened her Christmas presents to us last night. Yep, she included it in the package for me.

I can't say I've knit while eating dinner at a restaraunt, but that may just be yet to come. I scored a knitting coup not too long ago. My friend Becka and I usually bring our knitting to social gatherings at friends', and one other woman asked us rather snidely once if we always bring knitting out. At a recent gathering (Becka couldn't be there, so I was the only one knitting), there were 8 or 9 of us women in the living room. The snide woman was also there, and after a few other people also responded to some of her knitting-related questions, she asked, "so how many of you also knit?" Everyone else in the room raised their hands. Hah! Take that, oh snide commenter!

December 15, 2008

Creatures of the Night

Which creature of the night are you?
Your Result: Sorceror
 

Control is the name of your game. You are a studied tactician and scientist and you seek a kingdom where things make sense, damn the morals, even if you have to create it. You are cold, calm and calculating.

Werewolf
 
Cthulu Spawn
 
Incubus/Succubus
 
Demon
 
Ghost
 
Vampire
 
Which creature of the night are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

November 5, 2008

Grandaddy

Today's Non Sequitur seems to reflect my grandfather's situation right now:

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Last week, my mom let the family know that Grandaddy was admitted to the hospital for heart problems (she's the only family member where he lives right now). Things seemed pretty bad, with diagnoses of congestive heart failure and heart attack coming from the doctors. Then he went through a phase of not being able to swallow, not eating, barely breathing, etc., and his doctor called the family to say he might not make it through this week (this was Friday night/Saturday morning).

On Sunday, though, apparently he rebounded. He was swallowing, his color was better, he was eating. But then yesterday apparently was another downward bounce; not swallowing again.

As morbid as posting the above comic may seem, I'm really of mixed emotions on this situation. My grandfather really hasn't been the same person since my grandmother died in 1987. He seemed to be drinking himself into a slow stupor, with multiple bottles of wine and some Scotch each day. His life seemed to consist of sitting at home, reading and drinking.

When he remarried in 1991, his new wife was a world of good. She and I did not get along at all, but the good she did for grandaddy was worth everything. She was able to limit his alcohol consumption and she got him out and traveling around the world.

But then she also died of cancer in 1997. Since then, it's seemed to be a downward spiral. A couple of years ago, the family had to admit him to an assisted living facility because his alcoholism was leading to his inability to manage living alone in his huge house. It seems that he's had several series of small strokes since 1997, all of which have affected his memory. Now, whether it's just an act or is really his personality, he's turned into a cranky old man (my relationship with him has also declined since his second wife died--it seems like he only remembered all of my faults, when he remembered me at all). I don't get the impression that he's really enjoyed life at all since 1997; I know he doesn't like the facility where he lives, he doesn't like the fact that my mother is the only person still in the town where he lives. When does a person get to say, "Ok, I've had enough?"

November 3, 2008

A few days late, but...

What Your Halloween Habits Say About You
The scariest thing on Halloween is you! You definitely don't want any kids in costumes crossing your path - and you're willing to scare away any who do.

You definitely think of yourself as someone who has a dark side. And part of having that dark side means not showing it.

Your inner child is creative, patient, and whimsical.

You truly fear the dark side of humanity. You are a true misanthrope.

You're prone to be quite emotional and over dramatic. Deep down, you enjoy being scared out of your mind... even if you don't admit it.

You are a traditionalist with most aspects of your life. You like your Halloween costume to be basic, well made, and conventional enough to wear another year.

Fairly accurate, as far as these things go.

October 31, 2008

"Naturalistic"

Your result for Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test...

Naturalistic

"This area has to do with nature, nurturing and relating information to one's natural surroundings. Those with it are said to have greater sensitivity to nature and their place within it, the ability to nurture and grow things, and greater ease in caring for, taming and interacting with animals. They may also be able to discern changes in weather or similar fluctuations in their natural surroundings. They are also good at recognizing and classifying different species.

'Naturalists' learn best when the subject involves collecting and analyzing, or is closely related to something prominent in nature; they also don't enjoy learning unfamiliar or seemingly useless subjects with little or no connections to nature. It is advised that naturalistic learners would learn more through being outside or in a kinesthetic way.

Careers which suit those with this intelligence include scientists, naturalists, conservationists, gardeners and farmers." (Wikipedia)

Take Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test at HelloQuizzy

October 14, 2008

Political commentary?

nq081014.gif

I can't tell if today's "Non Sequitur" is political commentary, or just funny. In context, it seems to just be a continuation of the storyline started yesterday. But when you look at it all on its own, it seems to change ever so slightly....

September 9, 2008

Things that go screech in the night

We had a surreal experience around 2am this morning. First, take the noise of a scolding squirrel. Now, hike it up two or three octaves. Finally, add in a range of sounds sort of like that, but somewhat different (add density). For additional fun, take your final sound and fade it in and out as though whatever is producing it is running/flying around the neighborhood in the vicinity of your backyard.

That's more or less what woke us up this morning. The husband has a point by thinking it was some kind of bird because of the way and speed at which the sounds moved. But it really sounded mammalian to me. The sounds were so surreal, though, that it's hard to believe we even heard them; I really wish we could have gotten a recording. It sounded like a cat was dragging off a raccoon, but we never heard another animal, which I would have expected from a true brawl of that nature.

I hope someone doesn't have a nasty surprise in their yard this morning....

September 4, 2008

Difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull?

Pit bulls don't deserve the bad rap.

Can we please, please, please move beyond the demonization of certain breeds? John Woestendiek gives us several famous examples of rhetoric that simply must go.

I only caught a bit of Palin's speech before I couldn't take any more. I'm the eternal pessimist, and I hope to Dog I'm wrong, but I'm afraid McCain's choice was a brilliant move. How can anyone not support her? She's a working mother who fired the Alaska governor's house chef so she could prepare her own meals, she's a special-needs-children's advocate, she's against waste and corruption, she's for ethics, and heck, as an Alaska governor she's well-versed in international politics, particularly with Canada and Russia. And that list doesn't even cover all of her redeeming qualities for a VP option. I'd even be willing to bet she'll do better in debates against Biden than many are willing to credit her.

I mean, how bad can it really be to fire people who don't agree with you or do what you tell them? Don't they serve at the pleasure of the mayor/governor anyway? And a pregnant 17-year old? Well, she's "chosen" (like there was actually a choice in her case) to keep the baby and is going to marry the father. "Yes, we have dirty laundry," Palin is saying, "but we are acting within a family values framework given the circumstances."

August 14, 2008

Proof that children raise blood pressure

I had my proof yesterday. I didn't document it because my BP is high enough already, thank you very much.

My BP has recently risen for my past few dr appts, so my dr wants me to take additional readings between visits to monitor what it's doing. When I picked up a prescription yesterday, I sat down at the BP machine. I had already witnessed a little boy running crazily around the pharmacy area; he was unconvincingly reprimanded by grandma at one point.

Sure enough, the reading was still in the low end of the high range. Drat. On a whim, I decided to hang around a little while and try retaking it. The hubby says he can reduce his BP by deep breathing exercises, so I sat down and did that a little bit. Then went back to the machine to find little brat and only slightly older sister being encouraged by grandma to mess around with the BP machine and nearby massage chair. I decided to risk it and checked my BP again...MUCH higher than the first reading. Even with the relaxing and deep breathing.

How do you get an accurate BP reading when you're worried about your BP?

August 12, 2008

You might laugh, or you might just want to throw yourself off a bridge

Just thought I'd list a few interesting (?) blogs I've stumbled upon recently. My emotions on some of them are mixed; on one hand, they're just plain amusing. Good for wasting time at work or for realizing that you're not alone in terms of dealing with stupid people. On the other hand, it's really sad/scary how many stupid people there are....

(The Customer is) Not Always Right
Conversations related to stupid patrons/clients/customers, etc.

Cake Wrecks
"When professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong."

Fail Blog
"Fail, Pwned and Owned pics and vids"

July 22, 2008

The end of a puppy mill

After the depression induced by the information in my previous post about ANWR, I was gratified to read about a Wisconsin puppy-mill owner who has retired, and surrendered all of his dogs to the Wisconsin Humane Society. Here's the link to the article on the WHS website.

July 18, 2008

My July 4: Oh Give Me a Home....

Our original plans for July 4 fell through, but I was so looking forward to getting out of here that I made last minute plans to visit my Mom in Wyoming. The nearest airport is Denver (real airport, that is), and, as it turned out, that was the cheapest airfare for any place I wanted to go, too.

This was somewhat of a first for me, since the hubby couldn't join me; I rented a car by myself, drove up to Steamboat to visit a college friend I haven't seen since college, and then up to Laramie. This afforded me the opportunity to take it at my own pace, stopping for photo ops without annoying a companion. Usually, if we travel anywhere, the husband does the driving--he is NOT a good passenger.

So I flew into DIA on a beautiful sunny Colorado morning and went to AVIS where I had reserved a car (and no, I had no problems with either airport, either coming or going on this trip). My reservation was the generic car that we all reserve, but they just happened to be running an upgrade special for $20 extra/day. I couldn't turn that down, so this is what I drove out of the lot:

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In case you can't see it too well, yes, that is a white 2008 6-cylinder Ford Mustang. I don't know any of the other numbers or specs that car people like, but let's just say it's a cool car. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the other pictures of the car that I took, but at least I have one. It was automatic, and I really prefer manual, but I could convert for this car.

As a whole, the trip was absolutely loverly. I haven't been to Steamboat since I was around 11 or so, and that was in winter; I couldn't tell you a thing about the town. My friend, who actually lives in a smaller town near Steamboat, considers it a city. It's definitely still growing, and of course the cost of living is extremely high...it is suffering from the same Californication/Texification that other beautiful mountain resorts are (Jackson Hole, Vail, Aspen, etc.) where locals have to live out of town to afford anything.

While with mom, I got to go to just about every mountain range in the near vicinity of Laramie. Roger's Canyon (where the picture of the mustang is), Vedawoo/Happy Jack, Snowy Range, Sheep Mountain. I loved the independence of the solo driving, and got to see buffalo (penned, but them nonetheless), deer, and antelope. I'm pretty sure I saw a few Harriers (that's the only bird that makes sense on the prairie [not seagull territory, normally] that is white underneath with black wing-tips), cliff swallows (I think), western meadowlarks, western bluebirds, the northern flicker nest next to mom's backyard, a variety of other UFO raptors. And I got to sing out loud with John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" and "Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado," which I never get to do with company.

Here's the link to my Flickr photoset. I accidentally deleted a few pictures besides the mustang, but the sense of everything is still there.

June 29, 2008

Combination: Fourth mystery flower and birdie babies

The babies are getting bigger. I don't know how there's room for the three of them plus momma. Here are some beaks, and just because, a gratuitous butt shot:

(As always, click the pictures to see them "real" sized)

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My only regret about being gone next week is the chance that I'll miss them fledging. I just love having the babies around; I've not managed to photograph the mourning dove young-uns, but they're very cute too.

And here is the fourth mystery flower; I originally thought it was part of the pink one, but this is a completely different plant.

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The first picture is the flower alone, and the second is of it with the pink mystery flower.

June 27, 2008

Drive-by seedings?

I've got some interesting volunteers in the garden this summer, so I'm wondering if there is a new "vandalism" trend where people plant random seeds in someone else's garden. Tracy and I traded some seeds last autumn--I sent her some blue columbine and she sent me some Texas bluebonnet.

Where I'm pretty sure I planted the bluebonnet seeds, I seem to have a whole mess of bachelor buttons. I'm not complaining about the BBs, but I would have liked some bluebonnets also.

But here are three other mystery flowers:

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The first one is a really sweet pink flower that looks like it could be a miniature snap-dragon. I'm fairly certain the white one is a common weed variant, but it is pretty. And I've never seen the purple/white variety in my life. I don't have a good picture of its leaves, but they are rather cool looking themselves. This might be a type of balloon flower, but I don't recall planting any balloon flowers out front. (The leaves it's next to are actually from my new forsythia bush. This flower is also on a pretty long stem, but it likes to drape closer to the ground, making a decent shot very difficult.)

Not only do I have bachelor buttons and these three mystery flowers, but my violas have reseeded like crazy and are coming up all over, and I also had four varieties of columbine that I've never even seen in the neighborhood, let alone planted in my garden. I'm really going to have to work to get their seeds this year so I can ensure they get planted; one of the variants was a really cool frilly pink and white columbine. The others were a deep wine-red, a deep purple, and one the palest pink that was almost white. The flowers are all gone now--if I pluck the pods, will I still get seeds, even though it might technically be too early?

June 6, 2008

Flickr Search

Fun little flickr search game, stolen from Beth:

mosaic5721955.jpg

1. Danielle - 2007 Valentine's Day Blizzard, 2. Rosie & Buster Brown, 3. 051708_LHS_Gsoccer_Natrona_01_BJW, 4. Purple Mountain Majesty, 5. Emily Deschanel & David Boreanaz, 6. In the Boat, 7. Thunderstorm in Australian outback, 8. chocolate ice cream 001, 9. Gracie and her Gram, 10. The Exuberance of dogs!, 11. Dunnock sitting prickly12. Not available

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?

Many of these were unsuitable for sharing...why were they even posted in the first place? I really like this picture, though. I think it says a lot about me, and it's not even mine! :-)

2. What is your favorite food?

Do I really have to choose? Any guesses as to what I actually entered as a search?

3. What high school did you go to?

Not many good options here, either. My first search turned up a bunch of karate pictures. I chose this one, though, because I was on the girl's soccer team, though we never beat NCHS while I was there; our team was consistently the worst in the state. But it was fun.

4. What is your favorite color?

Purple is not my favorite color. My favorite colors are not easy to describe, but can be best summed up by "purple mountain majesty." Almost any of the pictures in that particular search would have been suitable for this answer.

5. Who is your celebrity crush?

Loving Bones

6. Favorite drink?

Again, hard to choose. But I do like this picture...it kind of says it all.

7. Dream vacation?

Really, really, really, really want to visit Oz.....

8. Favorite dessert?

This is really my favorite dessert, though I almost went with the actual Baskin Robbins PB & C image that was there. But throw in fresh fruit, and it's a real winner.

Dessert is tricky, though; this is one of my favorites, but if the ice cream is not chocolate, I don't want it at all (ala When Harry Met Sally...)

9. What you want to be when you grow up?

This was the true find of this search quiz. I want to be Erin Vey. :-) Failing that, I entered "doggy daycare;" this picture pretty much says just about everything: doggy daycare, dog photographer, great dane, my kids' grandma nearby.

10. What do you love most in life?

:-)

11. One word to describe you.

What was my search term here? Those who know me....

12. Your flickr name.

Obviously, #12 didn't work so well, and I didn't want to take the time to modify it like Beth did.

June 4, 2008

Mining and Destruction

Please visit Julie Zickefoose's entry from Monday and spread the word. She has a follow-up post on Tuesday to explain more. Julie says what needs to be said far more eloquently than I ever could.

"Sometimes my humanity is stunned"

Today's title is a direct quote from the husband this morning. We were stopped at a traffic light just before entering the interstate. There are two lanes going onto the interstate, a right turn lane onto back streets, and a left turn-lane into a large shopping area (Rainbow, Home Depot, Target, you know the kind....).

We were behind one car in the left interstate-bound lane. Literally, we were the only two unparked vehicles in sight.

Then the car ahead of us turns on his left turn signal. (The left turn lane has an arrow, and is one of those "turn on green arrow only" kind of lights...no adaptive lights here, so you can easily be the only car around but still be sitting at a red light for eternity.) Instead of waiting until the straight-bound lights turned green, he pulled up and over into the intersection, then backed up so he was in the left turn lane.

At which point, the light turned green for us, but this poor bloke would now have to sit through the red turn arrow for the ENTIRE cycle before being able to turn left into the shopping area.

And it was just Monday that I was in the left turn lane at this intersection, when I saw the car behind me (yes, in the left turn lane also) cross the two straight-bound lanes and turn right in the right turn lane.

Um....why?

When driving around here, my humanity is frequently stunned.

May 18, 2008

Just a quick post...

Just had to blog about something I saw on the road on the way to my conference today. We passed a horse trailer with a llama in it; it actually looked kind of happy in there. Then we noticed that the llama trailer was being pulled by an RV. How cool is that? Tooling around the country with your llama? I was driving, and no one had a camera handy, but I really wish we could have gotten a picture.

May 2, 2008

I'm "forgile," thanks for asking!*

At least that's how it might be spelled. A parent on the phone told my colleague to pass along the parents' thanks to me for being "forgile" with their student. We think it's a good thing....

* a la Big Gay Al from Southpark


April 30, 2008

Maybe it will work

Here is an online petition to ask Google to add a "bike there" feature on Google-maps. I was just wishing I had this feature the other day; I know I would use it because we have many busy busy roads, and I have a very deep-seated distrust of drivers in this, ahem, fair city.

We can't spell because we don't read

There is a notorious website out there where angry and naive college students can post and find information about their professors. I'll link to it, but it does not really deserve to be named expressly; I'm sure we all understand the difficulties college students face in giving professors honest, helpful, and meaningful feedback.

In response to said website, a very popular blog has sprung up for professor types to comment on their college students. Those of us in the biz, so to speak, find relief in knowing that we are not alone, horror in the prospect that there seems to be a plague that runs through colleges on a regular basis, and humor in watching someone else deliver the smackdown we so long to make ourselves.

So I was relieved, horrified, and amused to read the following entry (I've linked to the whole entry, but have only quoted the relevant part here):

I teach classes online. So I have my students reading an article about how text messaging and IMming are ruining our children's ability to spell. Here is one of my best responses to date! However the week is still young!

"i don't think that text messaging and iming is messing up our spelling and grammer at all I do it all the time and i can still spell the words out its just that when you are text messaging you are trying to do it fast its just a fast way to communicate not a replacement for spelling plaus every1 knows whut i am typing when i type b4 everyone needs spelling if no one could spell how would anyone have a job? i am not the best speller in the world but i dont think that any thing is running our spelling or young kids i think that they just have to step up the spelling with the math and reading you can read a word all day but u should be able to spell it like its nothing."

Isn't it wonderful when they prove our point while trying to argue against us? I wonder about the author of the article, though. S/he seems a little behind the times, because I was bemoaning spelling habits before texting and IMing were really out there. My position is that we've become such an aural and visual society that we're hearing things and seeing ads and commercials, and not really reading and learning the language. I'm not good at spelling and grammar because I'm an English major. My major did not teach me spelling and grammar (my foreign language studies taught me a LOT about grammar). I'm good at spelling and grammar because I read.

My two favorite examples of this are "should of" and "chip and dale". Okay, the first one is fairly obvious. When you hear someone say "should've," which is the contraction of the words "should" and "have," "should of" seems like a logical conclusion for the word(s) spoken. Incorrect, but somewhat understandable (I cringe when I see it in print when that should have been caught by and editor).

So what about "chip and dale?" Here's a screenshot of when I googled (note the new-ish verb there!) the term:

chipanddale.gif
(click for a larger image)

This was the actual phrase someone used in an essay they turned in to me when discussing the Chippendale dancers (don't ask, I don't remember the details). You know, those two little chipmunks who take off all their clothes at women's only parties? No? You don't know them? Hunh. Again, I believe this is a student who doesn't read (apparently doesn't even read magazines or advertisements), and rather than look something up in a *gasp* book (because the internet had barely even been invented way back in the 90s), the student just relied on his/her auditory capacity.

April 25, 2008

Not too far off

I'm not sure I agree with the bar graph itself (I'd say lower neuroticism and higher conscientious), but the description is fairly accurate. I think I have better follow-through than this suggests, but I did have some difficulty answering those questions honestly.


My Personality

Neuroticism
58
Extraversion
7
Openness to Experience
67
Agreeableness
23
Conscientiousness
6
You are poised, confident, and clear-thinking when stressed, however you feel enraged when things do not go your way. You are sensitive about being treated fairly and feel resentful and bitter if you think you are being cheated. You are not prone to spells of energetic high spirits. You enjoy a certain amount of debate or intellectual thought, but sometimes get bored with too much. You do not like to claim that you are better than other people, and generally shy from talking yourself up, however you are not adverse to confrontation and will sometimes even intimidate others to get your own way. You find yourself procrastinating and show poor follow-through on tasks. Often you fail to complete tasks - even tasks that you want very much to complete.

Take a Personality Test now or view the full Personality Report.

The best Uggs

Continue reading "Not too far off" »

April 22, 2008

April can be the cruelest month

My office is right across from the frat houses. Don't believe me? Here are two of them (greek letters have been photoshopped to protect the oblivious):

frats.gif

Which is worse? The hollering from the house on the left (the guy in the maroon shirt you can barely make out is the loud one) or the stereo from the house on the right?

And it's such a beautiful day, I just resent them because I can't be out there, either in my garden or at the dog park. This is the part of being an adult I really don't like.

I can go with this....

You Are An INFP
The Idealist

You are creative with a great imagination, living in your own inner world.
Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.
It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close.
But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.

In love, you tend to have high (and often unrealistic) standards.
You are very sensitive. You tend to have intense feelings.

At work, you need to do something that expresses your personal values.
You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.

How you see yourself: Unselfish, empathetic, and spiritual

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Unrealistic, naive, and weak

April 14, 2008

Etsy for Animals

etsyanimals.jpg

I just found a new charity site, Etsy for Animals. Crafters can donate merchandise for sale on Etsy, and the proceeds go to the group's chosen charity, a different one each month.

I found the site because this month's animal sanctuary is one of my favorites, the Rolling Dog Ranch, in Ovando, MT. One of the things that makes Rolling Dog particularly special is that they focus on animals with disabilities, the ones that most shelters would euthanize as unadoptable. They've had a particularly rough year so far in 2008 with animal losses, both due to age and illness.

Etsy for Animals is brilliant because it acts not only as a donation, but individuals actually receive something for their donations. Everyone wins.

April 11, 2008

Even I think it's cute...

and I don't like children!

Discworld Character quiz

Just found this little gem on my blog-friend Knitting with Dogs site. I haven't gotten nearly as far into Discworld as a civilized person should be, but at least I know who the author is, what the stories are like, and have read some already, so I do know some of the characters.


Which Discworld Character are you like (with pics)
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax

You are Granny Weatherwax! The most powerful witch on the Disc! You often use headology rather than actual spells, and are a very good witch, despite the fact that you sometimes wish you were a bad one. You play a mean game of Cripple Mr. Onion, and have a very powerful stare. By the way, you should really get that broom fixed…

Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax

75%

Greebo

69%

The Librarian

56%

Lord Havelock Vetinari

50%

Death

50%

Commander Samuel Vimes

50%

Gytha (Nanny) Ogg

50%

Carrot Ironfounderson

44%

Cohen The Barbarian

44%

Rincewind

31%

April 10, 2008

Let's make a contest out of it

ORIGINAL ENTRY I know I don't have a lot of regular readers, so everyone has a good chance of winning. I'm interested to see how much I can raise for the MS Society and the Animal Humane Society through posting on my blog. I'm going to try following the same contest rules I'm seeing on other sites. I will leave the contest open through midnight on May 9, though the Walk for Animals is actually on May 3. Click on the "original entry" link above to find the donation website.

If you submit a donation, you will receive one ticket for a random drawing. If you have a blog, please be sure to leave the address in comments, so I can spend some time there and personalize your gift. If you are blog-less/free, please tell me something about yourself and/or your interests.

I will give you two tickets for posting about my contest on your blog (if you are blogless, CC me on an email to at least one other person, and I will consider that as "advertising" also); be sure to leave me that comment also so that I can get those two more tickets.

I will give you three tickets for every person who donates who reaches me through your blog/email; be sure to leave directions that people reference you so I can add you up appropriately.

So, one donation, one blog mention, and one referral can earn you 6 tickets. Given that I have about 5 regular readers, chances of getting your name drawn are pretty dang good. :-)

Finally, I will send a special little something for the person who donates the most (I'll combine totals if you donate to both causes). And anyone who would like to help sponsor me with possible awards is more than welcome to send me an email at dtisinger [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks for any help you can give.

Completely Inappropriate

The National Weather Service has placed us under another "Winter Storm Warning." They're predicting another 4-6 inches from tonight to Saturday morning. While not particularly bad, per se, this winter has been dragging; too long, too much grey, not enough sun. Just yesterday I was out in short sleeves clearing the leaves from my garden. Things are not only coming up, but there was an actual crocus struggling to survive under the wet, starting to mold, leaves. Clearing needed to happen. It's not like this is Wyoming, or something, where I've seen snow storms in June, TWICE!

Bleah.

Photographic evidence (we'll see what the real thing produces....) (as always, click the pictures to make them readable):
mplsweather1.jpg

mplsweather2.jpg

Depending on the day....

I just changed a couple of variables (there were some answers that stayed the same no matter what). I really had a hard time deciding between two choices on the "dream car" question, and none of the Saturday morning options were quite right. I feel like I identify with the German Shepherd Dog description more than the Golden, but I don't necessarily mind being a little Remy-girl....

What dog breed are you? I'm a Golden Retriever! Find out at Dogster.com
"Golden Retriever
The Charmer

Laid-back, sociable and well-groomed, you've got your own hip little pack of groupies who just love to be around you. You have a brain inside that adorable little head of yours, though you use it mostly to organize your hectic social calendar. You never poop out at parties, and since you're popular with ladies and men, as well as children and adults, you dish out your wit, charm and luck to whomever is close enough to bask in it. The top dog likes you and wants to be your best friend, despite the fact that he doesn't really know what the heck you do. No one does, in fact, but everyone loves you all the same. A true foodie, you’ve got your keen ears fine-tuned to make sure you don't miss out on the opening of a trendy new place to nosh. But your youthful days of being able to wolf down food 24-7 are wagging behind you, meaning you've got to watch what you eat so you don’t pull a Brando and outgrow your coats."

or

What dog breed are you? I'm a German Shepherd! Find out at Dogster.com
"German Shepherd
The Perfectionist

Doggedly dedicated to getting the job done, you don't let silly little distractions get in the way of putting in a full day's work. And after you come home, chowing down on a little grub and taking a little catnap is all it takes to get you up and at 'em for round two, whatever that may entail. Your dogma emphasizes the importance of hard work, and you swim laps around your dog-paddling, time-wasting co-workers. Your cleverness leads to you often being entrusted with some pretty important tasks, which you are always more than happy to sink your canines into. You really dig being outdoors and love a bit of exercise, but you draw the line at the ridiculous stuff, choosing a game of beach volleyball over Pilates in the park any day."

Continue reading "Depending on the day...." »

April 4, 2008

Walking for Animals, Riding for MS

Once again it is time for the annual fund-raising events that I've participated in for the last 4 years. On Saturday, May 3rd, Remy, Payton, and I will be joining the Animal Humane Society's Walk for Animals. The following Saturday, May 10, I will be riding my bike in the MS Allianz 30/60 Tour. I hope to ride the 60 mile route, but since my normal biking partner will be unavailable that weekend, we'll see how long I feel like going on my own. :-)

I thank you sincerely for anything you choose to donate, and even if you opt not to, I still appreciate your support. Here are the links for easy on-line donations, but I am happy to accept other forms of payment on the organizations' account as well.

Click on the title for the event description, and the link for my participant page.
Walk for Animals
http://events.animalhumanesociety.org/goto/dtisinger

MS Bike Ride
http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/dtisinger

March 31, 2008

good thing I didn't [UPDATED]

...uncover the gardens this weekend. Yesterday was gorgeous (the whole weekend was nice). We opened windows. We opened the new windows on the bathroom porch (and puppy-boy even managed to overcome his fear of the bathroom and join me for the open window session on the porch). And I regretted spending time on the house rather than uncovering the gardens.

But, for once in my life, procrastination proved to be the better part of valor. Because this is happening today. Click the pictures for a larger view. I'll also have some pix from my office window later, because even though I remembered to bring the camera, I forgot to bring my card reader.

01weather3-31-08.gif

02weather3-31-08.gif

Updated include link to flckr photo set. The first couple are from earlier in the morning, and the next few from early afternoon. The last ones are through the new windows in our bathroom porch when we got home.

March 18, 2008

Finally Some New House Pictures

I've finally gotten some more house pictures uploaded, but they are mostly unannotated. We've also progressed well beyond some of these; I hope to have more sooner rather than later, but no guarantees.

The newly remodeled upstairs bathroom:

Looking in from the hall doorway
DSC_0019.jpg

To the right:
DSC_0017.jpg
The wooden door here leads to our funny little second story screen porch. This used to to be accessed from the landing/hallway, but now has been incorporated into the bathroom to give us some more space. The tile decoration at the top of the shower is the same tile from the kitchen backsplash.

To the left:
DSC_0018.jpg

The new landing banister; paint is the same as the kitchen:
new-banister.gif
The banister itself has been raised to meet code. Behind the wall on the landing, we'll have a new small cupboard with something on the top to put plants on.

Repainted study and new sunroom doors:
DSC_0026.jpg

DSC_0008-2.jpg
These doors somewhat mirror the French doors on the main floor. The doorway has been expanded and the windowed doors added to incorporate the sunroom into the main room better. These doors are maple (?), and will be stained to more-or-less match the trim upstairs.

Paint colors for anyone who cares:
Study: Sherwin Williams Hazel no. 6471
Bathroom: Sherwin Williams Clary Sage no. 6178
Kitchen/Stairs/Landing: Sherwin Williams Hubbard Squash no. 44, from the Arts & Crafts line.

Evidence of Injury

I left my hand unbandaged today. I prefer open air healing to the mushy skin that bandages can leave. However, that also means running the risk of bashing the injury repeatedly during the day without the padding that a bandage can provide. Here is a picture from today, and this is so much better than it was on Sunday.

If you're squeamish, don't click. If you want a closer view, you can make the picture bigger.

DSC_003120080318.jpg

UPDATED: Now that I see the picture in its larger version, the picture actually looks better than it does in real life. I guess the camera just doesn't pick up the oozing as well. :-)

March 17, 2008

This was my weekend

fuzzyswearing.gif

Took the kids for a walk Saturday morning. I wore the wrong shoes for the job, got lovely bubbly blisters on both feet.*

Made German pancakes for Saturday brunch, kept forgetting the pan handle was HOT! HOT! HOT!**

Picked up the kick stool to move it, bashed it into my shin.***

On Sunday, scraped the crap out of my hand by smashing it into a doorway.****

I need to be wrapped in bubble wrap before I can do anything.

* The walk was beautiful. Crisp, cool, sunny, gorgeous.
** The pancakes are like custard. Mmmmmm, yummy!
*** Got the Kahlua for a party. Didn't use any, but just knowing it was possible gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.
**** Still managed to accomplish the task, which was putting some towels away in our new cupboard in our new main floor bathroom. :-)

March 10, 2008

Kanga


Your Score: Kanga


You scored 13 Ego, 14 Anxiety, and 14 Agency!



"I am not Roo," said Piglet loudly. "I am Piglet!"

"Yes, dear, yes," said Kanga soothingly. "And imitating Piglet's voice too! So clever of him," she went on, as she took a large bar of yellow soap out of the cupboard. "What will he be doing next"

"Can't you see?" shouted Piglet "Haven't you got eyes? Look at me!"

"I am looking, Roo, dear," said Kanga rather severely. "And you know what I told you yesterday about making faces. If you go on making faces like Piglet's, you will grow up to look like Piglet -- and then think how sorry you will be. Now then, into the bath, and don't let me have to speak to you about it again."

You scored as Kanga!

ABOUT KANGA: Kanga is Roo's mother and Tigger's foster mother. While she is a kind and motherly sort of person, the other inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood suspect that underneath, she is a Fierce Animal. Her hobbies involve talking about Roo's health and development, watching Roo while he practices jumping, and making Roo and Tigger take their strengthening medicine.

WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are the kind of person who takes on other people's worries. You are efficient and a person of action - the type of person who Gets Things Done. Your friends tend to rely on you to get them moving and keep things running.

The problem is that you tend to forget about yourself in all of this. You need to remember that you are an important and worthwhile person, and sometimes it is okay to say "no" to people's constant requests and demands. Give yourself some time off.

Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test written by wolfcaroling on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(wolfcaroling)

This one doesn't seem too far off for me...and it was a cute/fun little quiz.

March 7, 2008

No news is...

well, no news.

The bank sent an appraiser to the house earlier this week. The husband was home, but it sounded like the guy was second-guessing our need for $$ since it looks pretty much done (you know, except for all of the gazillion little things). Thank goodness for the First National Bank of Mom for helping us complete the remodel.

Went to IKEA to get a replacement for the husband's monolithic beast of a desk. He picked up a few bits and pieces of this, while I finally got one of these (with footstool):

poang.jpg

The camera and I are taking a little break. There is some setting or some function that I am just not understanding, because I can't seem to ever get exposure or color to come out right. I still have pictures on the card to upload from the remodel, but finding the time for the putting onto the computer then editing then blogging is just too much right now.

And it's still very much winter here. I'm pretty sure I complain the same every year, but it really feels like this winter is colder and bleaker and worse than it has been in the past. Not that much more snow, but cold. Then it will warm up, then get cold again. I can't wait to get working in the garden again...usually by early March I can at least see the soil, even if nothing is quite up yet.

February 22, 2008

Of Money and Madness

We have suddenly found ourselves in a position that I would never have expected us to be in with this remodel. We both have good jobs, we're financially solvent, we have excellent credit, we have been with the same bank for many years, and yet, suddenly, we find ourselves with our line of equity frozen, in the middle of having our house torn apart.

Due to the housing market crisis and the losses big banks are posting, almost every bank across the country is freezing all home equity loans. Apparently, though, they're following a typical senior management policy of reacting without paying attention to the smaller details of what will this really mean, not only for customers, but for the staff who have to deal with the fallout.

We found out about the situation last Tuesday. We were supposed to have received information in the mail, but hadn't. A service representative caught the Husband at work to apprise him of the situation. When he explained that we're in the middle of a remodel (that will increase the value of the house, but that has currently rendered the house unsellable at this moment in time), he was referred to that person's manager. At that time, the Husband was assured that there should be a process in place for this kind of situation and that our case would be reviewed and that we would hear back in about 5 days.

Yesterday was day 7, so we called. Apparently, the manager with whom the Husband spoke was not authorized to say such things; the underwriters sent him a response saying he needed to contact us to explain {I'm fuzzy about what he was exactly supposed to explain]. In a compounding of errors, it turns out that person can't make outside calls, and the underwriters should have known this. Long story short, we were never contacted.

So now, we have to send the bank details about the project and they'll review the case, supposedly in another 5-7 days. If they decide to unfreeze our loan, we'll probably also have to schedule an appraisal in order to actually access the money. So we're looking at probably another 2-3 weeks.

The good parts of the situation:
1) We have a contractor who is willing to work with us (after all, this situation will significantly impact his business, too).
2) Because of the good jobs mentioned above, we could scrape the money up to finish (we're about 80% done at this point).
3) My mother can loan us some of the money to finish, at a much better interest rate.

The bad parts:
1) We've been living in the living room of our house for nearly two months, which means sleeping on a futon.
2) We haven't had a shower in our bathroom for that amount of time (we have a temporary shower situation in the basement, but the hot water hose split last weekend, so it's getting very important to get the upstairs bathroom completed).
3) We'll be borrowing money from family. That's not necessarily bad per se, but I'd rather owe the bank than friends/family.

The future impacts:
1) If we scrimp and save and finish ourselves, that means we will probably not be paying off our credit card, which means interest and a higher balance that we will still have to pay off.
2) If we ever find ourselves getting a home equity loan again, we'll just take the money and run rather than using it as a line of credit. Again, that means more interest that we'd have to pay.

So, while we are extremely lucky in that we can finish the job, and we can tell our contractor to keep working because he'll still be able to pay his subcontractors, it's just a sucky situation that we did not quite anticipate. Bleah.

February 19, 2008

No, no, no, no!!! Bad "breeders"!

We all know my position on designer dogs...mixed-breeds with fancy names and high prices. Maybe shelters are taking the wrong approach. Instead of saying they have lab-mixes who need good homes, they should go out and market Labraweilers or Rottradors. How about German Sheprador Retrievers? Lab- and -(r)ador seem to go with a lot of different names.

For the smaller set, you could have the Puget Hound or the Jack Russell Cock-a-poo. Or the Pootzu? Dogs would fly out of shelters if the staff could figure out the right combination to advertise the dogs.

Okay, so why am I ranting right now? I'm reading Susan Conant's Gaits of Heaven: A Dog Lover's Mystery and was laughing at what I thought was her over-the-top deslgner dog breed called a "Golden Aussie Huskapoo." Surely designer dogs haven't gone that far yet, have they?

Until I saw today's Daily Puppy: a Standard English Goldendoodle. Hence the title of this post: NO, NO, NO, NO! I assume the "standard" goes with the "oodle", and "golden" is fairly obvious. But "English?" There is no "English Poodle" or "English Golden Retriever" that I know of. (Yes, the puppy is cute, adorable, and I'm sure very sweet, and, of course, he must be smart. But he's still an over-priced mixed breed.)

A mutt with any other name is just as sweet. Adopt a shelter dog if you absolutely must have a mixed breed.

February 15, 2008

Boycott Air Travel, Part II

Ah, how time can heal old injuries (and allow for new ones, but that's not the subject of this post). A friend recently reminded me that I never finished my tales of woe over traveling in January.

We left off where I had finally gotten the ticket situation mostly straightened out, with just about an hour before the flight departed. So, as any normal person would do in an unfamiliar airport (we moved just after DIA opened, and I really haven't flown in/out of Denver very often), I followed the signs leading to security, which happens to be down one level from ticketing. I know this, because as I was following the signs that were pointing down, I was also looking at the massive pool of humanity being herded through the security gates below me.

[time out for major rant: WHY DO WE LET THE POWERS THAT BE DO THIS TO US? WHY DO WE ALLOW OURSELVES TO BE HERDED LIKE CATTLE? THE TERRORISTS REALLY WILL WIN BECAUSE WE'RE SO PISSED WE COMMIT AIR RAGE AND END UP ON THE DO-NOT-FLY LISTS!]

Problem 3: The First Security Gate
I hurry down the stairs to the cattle-drive...um....security line, only to be met by a TSA agent in the process of closing off that security area and saying that we need to go to the one on the other side of the airport. (No, this isn't the guy I flipped off, but I was pretty darn close at this point.)

Problem 4: The Second Security Gate
Okay, I'm in line now. I ask an agent what time it is...she makes a very exasperated point of trying to find a clock on a wall somewhere (I never did see the clock), and huffs that it's about 2:10 (my phone is almost dead, there are no outlets in sight, and I've got to save the battery to let my ride know when I've landed). I'm watching two lines getting funneled into one (the one I'm in), and the one line moving at slower than a snail's pace. I just chose the first line I got to, but turns out that my line was the one with the air-puff machine. Who knows what this thing is supposed to do. It's a gate with doors on one side. You step in, it puffs air over you, you step out, then take off your shoes and go through the normal security gate. But that description makes it sound like it goes quickly. It doesn't, especially when you're in line. It's like going through the car wash...the other car is already out but the doors don't open for you. Actually, going through a car wash is even quicker than this machine.

The woman behind me is checking flight info on her phone and finds out her flight is delayed by 30 min. I jokingly ask if she's going to Mpls, but no such luck. My flight boards at 2:25, and by now it's around 2:20. At the urging of the people behind me, I go up to an agent to ask if there's anything that can be done to get me through quickly (DIA is a tram airport, so I know I've even got a way to go once I get through this mess).

This guy was the proverbial straw. He was such an arrogant, condescending prick as he told me there was absolutely nothing that could be done because everyone was in the same situation. It's impossible for the slime factor to show up in the written version of this story, but trust me, it was there. People around me are nice enough to let me move ahead, and my cheerleaders behind me tell me to just go to the front of the line (by this time, I'm in tears because I have a physiological reaction to stress that results in me dissolving into a weeping puddle). The nice people at the front let me in, I wait forever to go through the puffy thing, then wait forever for my bags to go through security. (Forgot to mention that while in line, the zipper on my carry-on bag breaks. Not too much of a problem, but I like to know my stuff won't go spilling out everywhere.)

While between the air-puffer and the regular security gate, I catch sight of the prick, and, on the spur of the moment, flip him off. Yes, I know this is not wise, but damned if I care at this point. I don't really want to leave Denver anyway, and it's freedom of speech, isn't it? I really didn't do anything wrong....

Finally get through security. I have no idea what time it is, but I know the flight's boarding and I've still got a ways to go (my gate is B37, which in Mpls, would literally be the end of the C concourse). Catch a tram, get to the terminal I need to be at when the first good thing happens! My gate is at the near end of the concourse!

Problem 5:The Mechanical Problem
Sure enough, the line is in place to board. I've sprinted hard enough to aggravate my exercised-induced-asthma, and can barely talk to the guy to get my boarding pass, but get that settled. Sit down to wait my turn (I'm in the last boarding stage), when the United guy comes on the intercom to announce that there is a mechanical problem with our plane and our flight will be delayed. When I don't have a connecting flight, and am just heading home, delayed flights really don't bother me. But I was pissed that I probably pissed a lot of people off cutting ahead, pissed that I couldn't really breathe because of my sprinting, and then it all turned out to be for nothing.

*******************

So, that is the saga of my family vacation flight. Again, WHY DO WE ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN? CAN'T SOMEONE BE ACCOUNTABLE? CAN'T WE RETAIN SOME OF OUR HUMAN DIGNITY? (I've seen especially elderly travelers completely humilitated by having to remove shoes, belts, etc.) DOES IT REALLY MATTER IF MY LIQUID CARRY-ON IS 3 OR 4 OUNCES? WITH ALL OF THIS fucking bullshit (yes, I said it) THE TERRORISTS REALLY WILL WIN!!!!!

February 1, 2008

Boycott Air Travel...

Or, How I was Lucky Not to be Detained and Never Heard from Again

Whenever possible from here on out, I will not fly. At least not until the government/TSA gets a few brains and changes how they do things. Last weekend, I flew out to Denver to celebrate my paternal grandfather's 90th birthday party. My aunt, who organized the whole shindig, convinced all of the grandkids to come in (we're scattered almost literally from sea to shining sea: Washington, D.C. to Las Angeles). As a very generous gift, she used her frequent flyer miles to purchase a ticket for me. The story of my woes are shared amongst Denver International Airport, United Airlines, and most importantly, the TSA. See, I got so pissed that I actually fipped off a TSA agent. Yes, I really did. He was a prick (more later). I don't think he saw me, else I'd probably still be in a holding cell somewhere where my body would never be discovered.

Problem 1: Checking In
As a responsible traveler, I like to check in ahead of time. Especially when I'm going all carry-on, so really can just go to the gate. Um, nope. Not this time. Apparently, someone else can't buy you a ticket if your names are different unless you have the physical card with which the ticket was purchased (what happens if someone pays cash?).

So, I arrive at the airport and stand in line. A helpful United person tells me that for carry-on, I can just go to one of the self-serve kiosks. I'm skeptical, because I couldn't check in online, but hey, we're actually at the airport now. Maybe the kiosks are different. Nope. Can't do it. Helpful United person says, "of course you can, you just need any card that identifies you." So he takes me over to try. Nope, have to talk to a person. Get back in line.

Find out that someone can't buy your ticket unless you have the card. Only solution is to buy the ticket myself; my aunt says she'll just write me a check (still, very generous). Fortunately, I can buy the ticket (I know others who probably couldn't). Somewhat helpful United person with whom I am now speaking does a lot of typing and writing and writing and typing. In the end, I have a boarding pass, my reciept, and a receipt for my aunt showing the credit to her card.

I got to the airport 2 hours early, so still have plenty of time, which is good, because I should have checked my too heavy non-rolling carry-on that I have to lug to the far end of the concourse. Board the plane, someone's in my seat. No worries...he thought he was in F but he's in A. A is open, so I just take that. My seat light is burned out (evening flight). Again, no worries...I have a little clip-on flashlight so I can still read.

Get to Denver, catch up with family, celebrate birthday (to be described in a later post).

Problem 2:
Don't bother trying to check in online ahead of time. Get to Denver airport 2 hours before flight and plan to check stupid non-rolling bag. Stand in line for 20-30 minutes for a kiosk. Enter my credit card with which I purchased my ticket. Um, nope. I need to get further assistance. Even though this ticket should be on my card.

Stand in line for further assistance for 30-45 minutes. Really. Here's where I blame United the most; they only had 3 people working there. For a busy departure time. And in the "needs more help" line, everyone has some type of problem. The line keeps getting longer. I feel sorry for one woman flying with her two large dogs. But she has 3 people working with her alone, leaving just 2 people to serve the rest of the line.

FINALLY get to the person, who is just as confused as I am. She gets me straightened in the system, but all I get from her is an authorization card; I have to actually get my boarding pass at the gate.

Aty tuned for the rest of the drama. The good part is still to come.

January 21, 2008

Moving to the upstairs

With the downstairs mostly done, it's time to move upstairs. Here are some before pictures of the bathroom and very beginnings of upstairs demo.

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What we came back to

We came back to the new cabinets AND the new appliances AND the tilework backsplash AND the new countertop.

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Kitchen Cabinets

After the sheetrock, the cupboards went in. They are quarter-sawn oak, and I can't quite remember the company. They aren't custom-fitted, so they aren't more expensive for that reason.

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Sheetrock

I've been a bit behind on my remodel blogging, so I don't have much commentary other than what's in the pictures. This group was taken before we left over the Christmas holidays. The sheetrock went in on the walls, then the cabinets went in in pieces.

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January 9, 2008

Who am I? Not 24601*

* Les Miserables anyone?

Apparently, I'm far more interesting because I changed my name when I got married...click the continue link to see my maiden name's meaning....

What Danielle Tisinger Means
You are balanced, orderly, and organized. um, ask the husband about that one You like your ducks in a row. but what I like is rarely what happens...I'm a "complex" person :-)
You are powerful and competent, especially in the workplace. competent, yes. Powerful? not even interviewed for the last job I applied for
People can see you as stubborn and headstrong. You definitely have a dominant personality. probably more true than I would like

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection. and if I can't win, I don't want to play :-)
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive. see "stubborn and headstrong"
You have the classic "Type A" personality. I don't think I'm as high maintenance as what I consider the "classic 'Type A' personality"

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people. sure, if by "understand the world" you mean that I understand that life is not fair....
You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts. while I may get carried away, I never manage to stay in that other world, dang it
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals. um, yeah, that's me...

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.yep
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long. the husband keeps saying, "I support your crafts, but can't you focus on just one or two for a while?"
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start. yes to part 1, no to part 2. I hate stopping in the middle, unless it's a project I don't want to do. Then I work piece by painful piece, but I almost always finish.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone. not really at all...most people think I'm a little stand-off-ish
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together. until I get impatient with things not getting done/decisions not getting made, at which point I snap and do things/make decisions
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.there are certain someones in my life who point out every tiny detail that I might forget, but generally I don't think part 1 is me at all. Part 2, yes...I'm very capable with "the important things."

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow. now you're talking
You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily. ? while at the same time, I'm "tightly wound" and "it's easy to get [me] excited." Contradictory, yes, but I think both statements are true.
Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is. not even one little bit. I'm the most depressed and cynical person a lot of people know. Eeyore is my fraternal twin.

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life. why isn't life the way I want it to be????
You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home.travel, yeah, sort of. Random locations? nope. Comfortable far from home? not really
You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble. bingo

You are the total package - suave, sexy, smart, and strong. If "suave" and "sexy" = inserts both feet into mouth while running a marathon, then, yes.
You have the whole world under your spell, and you can influence almost everyone you know. oh, if only.
You don't always resist your urges to crush the weak. Just remember, they don't have as much going for them as you do. I usually don't crush the weak until they've really started to annoy me....

You are deeply philosophical and thoughtful. You tend to analyze every aspect of your life.
You are intuitive, brilliant, and quite introverted. You value your time alone.not so much on the brilliant front
Often times, you are grumpy with other people. You don't appreciate them trying to interfere in your affairs. yep

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something. One thing I do not like at all is being told what to do, especially if I think it is stupid and/or don't know why I have to do it and/or disagree with it. I also do believe in the act first, apologize later (if necessary) approach to bureaucracy.
You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. if I have a ton of energy, why am I so dang tired?You're very intense.I can turn the intensity on, but it's not my normal style.
You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun. yes to the first, possibly to the second

Continue reading "Who am I? Not 24601*" »

December 23, 2007

Hug your loved ones

We drove from Mpls to Wyoming today, the first leg of our drive to the husband's parents in Las Vegas (my mom is in Laramie, so we're leaving the kids with her while we go to Vegas, then spending some more time in Laramie on the way back).

We left Mpls in heavy, wet snow. Driving was pretty ugly because cars were breaking random tracks on the snow-covered road, tracks that weren't in any particular lane.

By the time we got to northern Iowa, the heavy snow had quit, but it turned into a sleety/haily snow, and the roads were definitely slick. We saw some cars off the road, but nothing looked too serious. At Des Moines, we turned west on I-80.

The husband and I have been driving in winter for the whole 15 years we've been together. We're used to seeing the aftermaths of accidents, the evidence of cars off the road, either whole or with body damage. But the accident we saw today will stay with me for a long time. It was about 1/2 hour west of Des Moines, and must have happened just before we got there--highway patrol wasn't even on the scene. Cars were backed up in both lanes, so we were predicting a semi across the road, or something to that effect (never mind the joker who decided to pass everyone on the left shoulder).

We got through pretty quickly, but as we passed, I could tell it was a pretty bad accident off to the right. There were several cars stopped that all looked fine (I think they were the samaritans who were first on the scene), but the bad one was the pickup that was off the road and up the embankment; it looked like it had rolled once or twice. I'm not at all sure about the details, but there was debris across the road, and there were a few cars going the other direction that had stopped, too. It's quite possible that the pickup had been traveling east, perhaps gone into the median and into the westbound lanes, and had rolled while trying to correct.

As we passed, however, I saw a person lying under a blanket, a blanket that had been pulled up over the head. The person's legs were curled up, and one hand was out from under the blanket. I'm pretty sure the accident was a fatality.

It wouldn't at all surprise me if we've passed other fatal accidents before, but I've never seen the evidence so starkly in front of my. We didn't need to stop because there were numerous helpers and the ambulance/patrol were just behind us. It really affected me far more than I ever expected something like that would. It was just so rough to see someone lying there like that, probably dead on the road, at Christmastime.

We arrived safely, without any problems. The husband is a wonderful driver when it comes to bad situations. But hug your loved ones, and please send good travel wishes to all who are traveling for the holidays.

December 21, 2007

Sad Commentary on the State of the World

I wasn't planning to linger on the "Science Friday" podcast I listened to last night discussing the impending demise of the world's coral reefs. But today's "Fast Track" is too similar to ignore:

On the Fast Track by Bill Holbrook 12/21/07
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The podcast was especially depressing because the predictions are that even if every country/continent adopts the current environmental treaties like the Kyoto Treaty, the coral reefs will not be able to sustain themselves in the oceans. They'll die, and while their skeletons will slowly erode away, new corals won't be able to compete with the sea grasses that can live in the current state of the waters. This is a prediction for the middle of the century. Within 40 years. The only hope the corals have, the Stanford research guest says, is to completely revamp the way we look at how we live in the world, and adopt measures such as no gas-using automotives within the next two decades. Like that will happen.

The scariest part of the show was his analogy of the coral reefs being like the canary in the coal mine. While the reefs themselves are worthy of protection, they are providing an indicator of danger and a significant need for change.

I'm still looking for a mountain cave in which to hibernate and hermitize. Please let me know of any likely candidates. ;-)

December 18, 2007

Woodstock

Not what I would have guessed at first, but given some of the options for the questions, makes sense. These results are for what I would like to think my actual responses would be. See below for my second test results, possibly more what I would do, rather than what I'd like to do. I don't know if Marcie was a possible result, but she's the one with whom I've always most identified.


Your Score: Woodstock


Wishy-Washy: 34%, Mental: 62%, Physical: 43%



Perhaps the world's most uncoordinated bird, Woodstock is Snoopy's best friend, activity partner and occasional secretary. With his erratic flight patterns, he has trouble avoiding anything roughly between him and his destination and usually spends the winter holed up in Snoopy's kennel. Be extra careful playing baseball or football, as sports become a lot more challenging when the ball is six times bigger than you are.

Link: The Peanuts Character Test written by timberlineridge on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Continue reading "Woodstock" »

December 17, 2007

Best Christmas Carol(s)

I love this!!!

My experience with men's a capella groups began with the King's Singers when I was in grade school (some of the popular hits that I'm supposed to know I know mostly through my King's Singers CDs...). I just love the ways the human voice can replace traditional instruments.

December 13, 2007

Dogs on Thursday -- the Rant Edition

Today's official Dogs on Thursday is out sick (get well soon, Paula!), so I thought I'd take this opportunity to return to 3, 4, 5 (?!) of my favorite rants.

I was part of a conversation this morning that took about 30 seconds before my head was about to explode. We were talking about a Great Dane puppy that a co-worker is going to take for her mother. The pup needs a new home because her family can't give the time she needs. Why is that? The pup is 6 weeks old (Yikes 1)! She was purchased at 4 weeks, from a backyard breeder (Yikes 2) (the litter was originally 11 pups) whose bitch wasn't able to take care of the pups because she was bleeding excessively (Yikes 3)! The new owner had been looking for a dog for their 16 year old son who is missing his grandfather who recently passed away; when they found the ad for the pups in the paper (Yikes 4), they checked in, and the woman said that she had to purchase a pup because she couldn't leave them there (Yikes 5?). I was already familiar with the situation (co-worker and I had discussed it earlier), so we got through that part of the conversation in 15-20 seconds.

From there the conversation turned to a beagle that my co-worker is looking at for themselves; they were planning to go to a local humane society that just took in 3 beagle pups. Co-worker 2 mentioned that her daughter purchased a beagle from a local pet store (Yikes 6). Finally, the conversation ended with co-worker 1 talking about a cute pug-beagle mix she had seen (I'm not going to grace that with it's "cute" "breed" name--a mutt is a mutt) (Yikes 7).

So in the space of about 30 seconds, the conversation touched on: backyard breeding (potentially puppy milling on a small scale), neglect/abuse, improper weaning which has led to pup needing a new home, pet-store animal purchases, newspaper breeder advertising, and designer dogs. So, my head exploded.

December 1, 2007

To "use" or "utilize" / That is the question

My professor in my sophomore Intro to Lit course was a great believer in cutting out wordiness and over-blown language. While I am still prone to wordiness and abuses of language, one lesson rooted itself so firmly in my brain that it has become a personal foible: I cringe in near-pain when I hear people use (!) longer words when a shorter, plainer word would do. Don't get me wrong; I love language. There are people who can use long, possibly pretentious language, and make it beautiful. But I really don't like the word "utilize" in place of "use." There are appropriate times for "utilize;" I really like this summary from Dictionary.com in it's definition of "utilize":

Usage Note: A number of critics have remarked that utilize is an unnecessary substitute for use. It is true that many occurrences of utilize could be replaced by use with no loss to anything but pretentiousness, for example, in sentences such as 'They utilized questionable methods in their analysis' or 'We hope that many commuters will continue to utilize mass transit after the bridge has reopened.' But utilize can mean 'to find a profitable or practical use for.' Thus the sentence 'The teachers were unable to use the new computers' might mean only that the teachers were unable to operate the computers, whereas 'The teachers were unable to utilize the new computers' suggests that the teachers could not find ways to employ the computers in instruction.

I have similar objections to the word "colorway," as I have mentioned before. A friend refered me to a definition from wikipedia (I don't know exactly where):

"In visual arts, colorway or colourway is the scheme of two or more colors in which a design is available.

Colorway is describing the set of colors. A tweed that is basically blue with flecks of green and purple is a different colorway than a tweed that is basically blue with flecks of gold and orange. But they are both generally the same color."

The word does show up in this discussion of color in the "Yarn" entry:

"Yarn may be used undyed, or may be colored with natural or artificial dyes. Most yarns have a single uniform hue, but there is also a wide selection of variegated yarns:


  • heathered or tweed: yarn with flecks of different colored fiber
  • ombre: variegated yarn with light and dark shades of a single hue
  • multi-colored: variegated yarn with two or more distinct hues (a "parrot colorway" might have green, yellow and red)
  • self-striping: yarn dyed with lengths of color that will automatically create stripes in a knitted or crocheted object
  • marled: yarn made from strands of different-colored yarn twisted together, sometimes in closely-related hues"

but I still don't like it, I still think it's pretentious, and I still think using existing words like "multi-colored" or even just "color" works just fine.

"December starts early this year"

Unfortunately, I can't take credit for the title of this post. It was in Crazy Aunt Purl's post yesterday, 11/30/07. This is pretty much how I've felt all year, but I never can think of clever ways to say it. :-)

November 28, 2007

Electricity and random pictures

Mostly pictures; I'll annotate with text when I have a chance.

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Campus Guardians

I recently wandered around to some of the buildings near mine over the lunch hour. We have a few gargoyles, chimeras, and other interesting folks/critters adorning some of the buildings around campus.

So this evening when I opened my browser (my home page is the U of M home page), I found it rather amusing that the gargoyles were also featured there. Here is the text:

"Eye in the sky
One of four gargoyles--or chimeras--watches over the Twin Cities campus from the roof of Folwell Hall. The eight-foot-tall creatures adorned Folwell when the building first opened in 1907, then disappeared a few years later. The U had replicas made from looking at historical photos. This month marks the end of an 18-month restoration project on the exterior of Folwell, the grande dame of campus buildings. The U's 2008 Capital Request seeks funds for interior upgrades."

The picture won't be there long, because the webpage is a "dynamic Web 2.0 (?)" webpage that cycles information so that visitors to the site won't get bored. Or something. But if you get there in the next day or two, you'll probably see the gargoyle picture they chose.

This is my picture, more or less of the same critter:

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Here is a series of these gargoyles on Folwell Hall (as always, click the pictures for larger images). I think they look more like dragons, myself. There are four of them, two on each long side of the building:

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(It's pretty bad when the light starts failing at the end of a noon-ish lunch hour....)

Then there are the faces around the building. When you look through these pictures, it should come as no surprise that this building houses the language departments, the cultural studies departments, the ancient and near eastern religions departments, etc.:

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More later...I haven't finished Folwell Hall, let alone shown my favorite campus gargoyle....

November 26, 2007

Windows!

New windows in the kitchen today! I just took pictures of the new windows where the sink will be; the bathroom has a new window also, but it's not as exciting because there isn't any size change.

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November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving T-Shirt

My uncle gave the Husband and me these T-shirts a few years back. Seems appropriate for Thanksgiving Day, somehow.

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Really, though, there is a lot to be thankful for. Mom and Shilo made it out here safely, even though it snowed the whole way. We have good jobs, a good home, wonderful friends, great dogs, our health.....

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

November 20, 2007

Plumbing happened today

More of the daily updates. I'm assuming no one will be here Thursday or Friday (or the weekend), so you'll be spared for a few days after tomorrow. :-)

A few shots of the new pipes:

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And since the fridge is in it's new temporary home (see the shot of the dining room from the first post of this sequence), I can show you the framing for the new bathroom in the add-on porch segment of the kitchen:

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Then there are the pipes in the ceiling. Here's what's left of the ugly, water-damaged ceiling:

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November 19, 2007

Kitchen remodel part 2

Here are some new updates from the remodel. It's really interesting coming home without quite knowing what we're going to find when we come into the kitchen.

I actually have a "before" picture that shows a little bit of the old kitchen:

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(You might have just seen this if you read my post about Kodi.)

While not from the exact same angle, here is what we found today:

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November 17, 2007

Someone stole my kitchen...

...and left it in my back yard. Yes, we did tell them to take the kitchen, but it's one thing to talk about it, and a completely different one to see it. The kitchen remodel is the first step in our massive house remodel. I didn't get a chance to take "before" pictures, so you'll have to use your imagination. (Remember to click the pictures to view them in a larger size.)

The kitchen in this house is (was?) weird. It is accessed through the dining room and through the back door of the house, though you have to climb about 5 steps from the back door landing. When you come in through the dining room, there is a set of stairs immediately to your right leading upstairs. At the base of these stairs is a long add-on landing stair that is going to be cut back and turned into a regular step so that we can shift and widen the doorway.

In the "old" kitchen, immediately to your right from the dining room entrance was the beginning of the shelves. Because of the bottom steps, these cupboards weren't very deep to allow walkway space. The main kitchen cupboards followed the wall on the left, sort of in the form of 1/2 of a hexagon; the first and last cupboards were diagonal (yes, the edge of the shelf was different lengths) with the longer portion of the hexagon being more at a true counter depth. The kitchen sink was in the middle of this wall (the other side of the wall is the living room, with the chimney in between.

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In the new kitchen, this wall will begin with the refridgerator at the foot of the stairs (remember that the foot of the stairs and doorway will be shifted to accommodate the fridge) then cupboards, then the stove will live approximately where the old sink was.

At the end of that counter/row of cupboards are three windows. Immediately under the left window used to be a large-ish radiator that was removed about 2 weeks ago. This radiator blocked access to one of the cupboards; you could literally open the door about 3 inches. These windows will stay there, but we're raising them to accommodate more counters and the sink will go there.

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Because the bottom of these windows was so low, there was really no place to put counters or anything. We had a small table there, but it usually got used as a dumping spot rather than an actual place to sit and eat.

So far, the kitchen probably doesn't sound that bad, with the exception of the unusable cupboard where the radiator was. Continuing down the wall with the windows (north facing wall) is where things turn strange. About half way down the wall, the ceiling drops about a foot and there is an obvious difference. At some point in the house's past, there was a small porch attached to the kitchen. A similar porch remains upstairs, but the kitchen one had been reclaimed to creat more space. This porch is where the old fridge, the stove, and a few miscellaneous cupboards lived.

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When the cupboard was reclaimed, one window was added, a lovely east-facing window that brings in a lot of beautiful morning light. The wall behind the cupboards and stove (the right-hand wall if you're looking directly into the porch area from the main kitchen, more or less as in the above picture) borders those 5 steps up from the back door. Where the stove used to live was the edge between the porch and the kitchen proper.

The kitchen door there is the east wall where the edge of the porch used to be, then there is another 4 or so feet of wall that borders the other side of the stairs leading upstairs. Here is a very not-to-scale quick rendition of what the kitchen used to look like:

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The new kitchen will be a little more user friendly. Instead of a radiator, we're going to have a small heating fan under some of the cupboards. But most importantly, about 1/2 of the add-on porch will include a main floor bathroom, It will just be a toilet and sink, but it will be so nice to have not only a second toilet but also one on the main floor (I can't believe a family of four lived here for 18 years with only one bathroom....).

The remaining pictures are more or less related to some of the interesting things the demolition uncovered. Old wall paper, different layers of flooring, ceilings, etc. Perhaps the most interesting one is the picture of the ceiling that is immediately under the upstairs bathroom:

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This is the the evidence of damage caused by leaks in the bathroom upstairs, the bathroom that we remodeled on our own when all we really wanted to do was paint it.

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November 8, 2007

Dogs on Thursday 11-8-07

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I had some charming pictures of the kids that I was going to post for today's entry, but then I got the email from my mother that said she had to put Kodi to sleep this weekend. Kodi was a Newfoundland that we were given when his breeder was in a difficult situation. It's a long story, and I won't provide the gory details here. She needed to find good homes in a short period of time, and thought of us because we have had a very long relationship with her and her kennel.

Kodi's death represents the end of an era for our family. See, we've always had Newfoundlands, or at least for the past 35 years. My grandparents started with a Newf-mix before I was born, then mom and I joined the Newf-group, and even the Husband and I had one. [Madchen, Sherman, Fagin, Ursa, Kuma, Baron, Kisha, Shawnee, Lena, Kodi] There were times when I would take four of them for a walk at the same time. That generated some stares for passers-by.....

When the Husband and I agreed to take Kodi, my mother had two newfs already, one of whom she had also been given by the breeder. If she hadn't already had two, I'm sure she would have been the breeder's first choice. Anyway, in 2002, we took in Kodi as a third dog, basically sight unseen. We went to the breeder's to meet him while we were in Wyoming, and took him primarily due to her circumstances and my bleeding heart.

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Kodi was "special." He had earned his championship, and really did exhibit very good physical characteristics of the breed. He was one of the breeder's special house-dogs, but all he had ever known was the show ring. At age 5, already middle-aged for a newf, he was the dog-ification of the "model" stereotype. We're pretty sure there was not much more in his mind than looking pretty and having people clap for him. Honestly, I have never met a more vacuous dog. He was super sweet, very friendly, great dog in general, but just no personality whatsoever. I don't even think the term "dumb" applied to him. There just really wasn't much there behind those sweet dark brown eyes.

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Several things happened that led to Kodi going to my mom's. First, mom lost Shawnee-pup, the very first dog we got from this breeder. Even at Shawnee's age, she was still a puppy at heart, essentially everything that Kodi wasn't. In order to provide company for Lena, she went to the pound to adopt a newf or pyrenees mix. She came home with Shilo, the "little yellow dog." Shilo didn't last very long. She was a wild thing, escaping, chewing up the house, high energy. Very sweet, but very high maintenance. Shilo went back to the pound.

In May, 2004, I was preparing to defend my Ph.D. dissertation, when Kodi and our dane Micaela ran into each other (we don't know what really happened), and Caela ended up succumbing to a gradual paralysis. We spent a week hauling her to the vet for x-rays, tests, anything, but she kept getting worse until she even started refusing food. She was completely paralyzed, 10 years old, could not even eliminate on her own, and just told us it was time.

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For a variety of reasons, including the brutal summers, Kodi went to live with my mom that November, even though she had re-rescued Shilo from the pound. Shilo actually kind of taught Kodi how to play a little, something he never did with us (I still blame the heat and humidity of summer for part of his utter passivity). When mom lost Lena earlier this year, Kodi was still there to provide companionship to Shilo.

It will be strange not to have any newfs in the family anymore. The Husband and I are convereted to Great Danes, and mom feels that she is at an age and physical condition where medium-sized dogs are more appropriate. So Kodi, the newf with a big heart and no brain, is truly the end of 35 years of newfs.

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October 30, 2007

Biorhythms don't know nothing

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If I truly am supposed to be at the height of positive energy with my intellectual and emotional biorhythms, then I truly fear what the low side might be. Given the way I've been feeling recently, I'm pretty sure that my biorhythms are switched with someone.

Click on my chart to check your own biorhythms, but don't be surprised if it doesn't know anything.

October 28, 2007

What would your mother think?

The "they" that are "THEY" say that one should never do or say anything that one wouldn't feel comfortable telling one's mother. One reason I have not yet posted about something I've done is because my mother might not approve (at least too much). But I've gotten so much positive feedback, that I have to tell her sometime.

I colored some of my hair blue. There. I've said it, and it's out there.

Don't believe me? Here's the evidence:

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It's been so fun. People are always telling me how cool it is. A 70-something gentleman waiting in a line with me leaned over and said, "I like your hair! I had to watch it for a while to see it." You know you've done something right when you get a compliment like that from a much older gentleman.

What's probably more amusing, though, is that almost all of the adults with whom I come into any type of normal contact (friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.) have all told me they like it. The high school kids with whom I work? Not one single word. I don't know if they think it's normal enough for adults to have colored hair now, or if they are just afraid to tell me how desperately uncool they think I am, trying to be a young person, and all.

I would never have dreamed about coloring my hair when I was in high school. I think I needed to be older than 20, and now into the self-confidence I've gained in my 30s to start having fun.

Yes, I bleached the hair first. That process takes about 4 hours with as dark and healthy as my hair is. The coloring itself takes 30 minutes. It's a fascinating process because the initial blue can be so dark as to really blend in with my original dark brown (ignore any grey you might see--and blame that on my mom....). As the dye starts to fade, though, the colors shift from blue to teal to turquoise. In certain lights, you can sometimes see a purple-ish color. And at other times, it might appear greenish...that comes from where my hair didn't quite bleach to platinum, but stayed more of a blonde color.

But don't worry, mom. I promise I won't go overboard. I'm not a fan of pink or neon colors, so you probably won't see those. And I have a whole jar of blue Manic Panic to get through....

Pretty Darned Accurate

I'm pretty sure most people who know me would agree with this.

You Are Oscar the Grouch
Grumpy and grouchy, you aren't just pessimistic. You revel in your pessimism.

You are usually feeling: Unhappy. Unless it's rainy outside, and even then you know the foul weather won't last.

You are famous for: Being mean yet loveable. And you hate the loveable part.

How you life your life: As a slob. But it's not repelling as many people as you'd like!

But really, I'm not that bad, am I?

October 16, 2007

"All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury

"It had been raining for seven years; thousands upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands."

Bradbury's short story, "All Summer in a Day," seems a good comparison to the month of October here in Mpls. I saw a TV version of the story on PBS when I was in 4th or 5th grade. It made such an impression on me that I can still vividly remember some of the scenes even now. This past Saturday must have been our one day of sunshine. I just hope it doesn't rain for the next seven years....

October 9, 2007

Keeping things interesting

I kind of threw the clerk at a store for a loop last night. I went with the husband to pick up some new shirts for him. For those who might be confused, my husband is not necessarily typical when it comes to clothes shopping. He has good taste (when he chooses to apply it) and really doesn't need me around to help pick out clothes and styles. I even let him pick things out for me.

So I agreed to go shopping with him last night only because I had a good book (Thursday Next: First Among Sequels, and I'm really enjoying it). I just sat on the floor by the wall and read my book while H browsed.

Clerk: Must be a good book you're reading. I think this is the first time I've ever seen someone come in to read.
Me: It is a good book. And I enjoy it much more than shopping.
Clerk: Um . . . .
Me: That's probably also a first for you.
Clerk: Yep.

Mission accomplished. *sly grin*

Note: I did take part in some of my "womanly duty" and provide a small piece of advice to H regarding horizontal stripes. :-)

October 1, 2007

New Widget

Just under the "Categories" link on the right sidebar, you'll see a new Widget. It lists the headlines from one of my daily blog reads, Rolling Dog Ranch Blog. And oh, how appropriate is the term "widget" for this blog, as one of their pups is names Widget. One of the stories about her is the top post for today, October 1. But if you go to the blog (and/or the sanctuary home page), you'll be sure to find a lot of info about little Widget. She has quite the personality.

September 16, 2007

Choke chain collars are for training only!

We had a scary, scary incident at the dog park yesterday that reinforced the title of this post. Another great dane and golden retriever (I say "another" because neither one was mine) were wrassling together. They'd been playing for quite a while and were quite well matched.

I saw it first, but it really didn't take long for others to realize something was wrong. The golden's preferred method of play was on his back, kicking up his feet. One of his back feet got twisted in the dane's choke collar. Of course the dane kept trying to back out/away from the golden, who was subsequently dragged by his caught foot. Both dogs were getting more and more traumatized and hysterical: the poor dane was getting choked and dragged down, and the poor golden was getting dragged on his back with his foot caught.

It took at least three of us to extract the two kids. I'm not sure if there were more people or not, but I was holding the golden down so he didn't keep struggling and moving away, his owner was trying to get them untangled, and the dane's owner was holding her so she wouldn't keep trying to back away. Because I was at the end with the hysterical teeth, I didn't see the actual extraction process.

The good news is that everyone was fine. Nothing was damaged on the golden's foot, and he seemed to forget about the incident within the next 10 minutes. The dane was a little more traumatized; this breed is fairly sensitive, and can get their feelings injured quite easily. She really had no idea what had just happened, and really seemed afraid that something might go wrong again. I came out with several puncture wounds on my left hand because the poor golden was so hysterical. (I'm not calling them bites because that's not really what they were; just fear and pain and confusion reactions that are entirely acceptable for a puppy in his situation.) Honestly, of the three of us, I think I'm the most damaged, and my wounds are small. (Of course, my hand with a minimum of 6 bandaids plus the places I didn't cover does cause a small amount of attention and concern, but really, we're all fine.)

Being a golden, Remy handled the situation pretty well. She stayed out of it, and kind of just observed. Payton was a little traumatized afterwards, too, though. I don't know if it was the noise, the distress, seeing me in the middle, or any combination of the above, but he stayed pretty close to me while I recovered (some teeth hit some of those really sensitve nerves and bones on the wrist and I felt like I was going to pass out for a minute or two....). He improved once we got up and started walking again.

But it was just one of those awful, unexpected events that no one wants to see happen, especially to their own dogs. Please keep a flat or other type of break-away collar on your dog when you're not training. Almost ANY other collar would have been better; even a prong collar allows for a quicker release that could have gotten it off the dane much quicker.

September 12, 2007

No pix cause I had to get rid of the evidence

Good morning to me!

I had a double-bagged paper grocery bag in my office. I had brought in two fridge packs of soda, and needed the extra strength. Because I'm essentially lazy, and didn't really know what to do with them, I just left the bags in the corner of my office.

This morning, I heard rustling. In my experience, rustling = mousies. Not an uncommon occurrence in my office (I just saw one scurrying across the floor the other morning). I can deal with mousies. I didn't really bother to sneak up on the bags, figuring they couldn't see, and even if they did get spooked and run, no biggie.

I looked in the bag, and saw nothing, but still heard rustling. So I gently pried the two bags apart. No mousie. Big (2 inch) cockroach. Ick. I really do not do well with anything with more than six legs (starfish, maybe, but even they are a little suspect). And I just cannot squish bugs other than mosquitoes. Even when they are in a bag.

So, I roll down the top of the bag, and stuff the whole thing into one of the big trashcans in the hall (read: NOT IN MY OFFICE!) and come back into my room. I'm working away, still a little squeamish, when I hear more rustling. From the other bag, the one I didn't see anything in originally.

There's another one. This one is slightly smaller, maybe 1 3/4 inches. But it's already half-way up the side of the bag. I shake it down to the bottom, and repeat the same drill as for the first one. I'm getting squeamish again even as I type this.

There are two bags of cockroach sitting in the trashcan in the hallway. At the moment, they shouldn't be going anywhere. But at least when they're rustling in the bags, I know where they are. Now they could be anywhere. I always claimed I sit with my legs crossed on my chair (yoga style) because my legs are too short for these chairs. Now, I'm not sure that it just isn't a darned good idea.

September 7, 2007

3 of 5 freeway routes not closed!

Wow. Sounds like a good weekend to stay home. From yesterday's Star Tribune:

"Weekend traffic: What a mess
This weekend Vikings fans and others won’t be able to use I-35W in south Minneapolis, parts of Hwy. 62 and streets near the Dome.

By Jim Foti, Star Tribune
Last update: September 06, 2007 – 8:49 PM

Construction on the massive Crosstown Commons project continues, with another closure slated for this weekend.

First, let’s focus on the positive: Three of the five freeway routes leading to downtown Minneapolis won’t be shut down this weekend. "

September 6, 2007

Sometimes they know me, other times, well, not so much

Sometimes Amazon gets their recommendations exactly right. Today's email didn't quite hit the same mark:

Subject: New Music at Amazon: Pink Floyd, Manu Chao, Ted Nugent, Megadeth, Patti Scialfa, Suzy Bogguss...
Message: Dear Amazon.com Customer,
As someone who has bought music at Amazon.com, you might like to know about this week's notable releases, including the 40th anniversary edition of Pink Floyd's "Pipers at the Gates of Dawn" and Manu Chao's "La Radiolina," his first release in six years.


Yeah, I've purchased music from Amazon.com, but not by any of these groups, and probably not even close to any of these groups. And I only know a few of the names on the list...

September 5, 2007

The best day ever

I can appreciate this feeling:

From today's Mows strip by Jay Dyke

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August 30, 2007

Smoking: bad. Hanging out: okay

(Photos were taken with my camera phone, so not the best quality. But still...)

This 8-legged non-cuddly was keeping me company the other night while I waited for the husband to pick me up:

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He (she? is it Shelob's younger sister?) and I had an agreement that s/he would stay at the no-smoking sign, and I would stay at the corner of the bench. There was a different 8-legged non-cuddly greeting me as I left the house the next morning, but we don't speak of that anymore.

Always read the labels

So I was craving some chocolate, and my boss got the last bag of M&Ms from the vending machine. Say, that Snickers bar looks pretty good. I took it back to my office and actually had a few bites before I looked at it:

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Yes, my Snickers was chocolate covered GREEN!! That was what made me go back to look at the label:

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August 28, 2007

lolcats

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Tonight is the a Welcome reception for our students. This kitteh seems to have the right attitude...

August 23, 2007

Blooming Hoya

My hoya plant is blooming again. This plant goes back to my grandparents; my mother started her plant from a cutting, which then I got a cutting of. Hoyas are notoriously (at least in my family) finicky about blooming. They don't like disruption or change very much at all. We got the cutting about 4.5 years ago, shortly after we moved into this house. It bloomed for the first time a few months ago. And it's blooming again! Not only that, but I started a new cutting from this plant that bloomed while it was still in the vase, and it now has buds of its own too.

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I find the blooms on these plants to be completely fascinating. They begin as these tiny little nubs that could be anything. As they develop, they move into the "plastic" stage. The flowers themselves appear to be little plastic things that you would find in a silk flower arrangment. When they leave the plastic stage, the flowers move into the "velvet" stage, which is where my current bloom is. The third picture is a little fuzzy, but it's a pretty accurate representation of what the flowers look like. You can see that there appears to be more plastic decoration around the centers, which are frequently glistening crystals. The glisten is the sap, which has the sweetest, most delicate honey flavor.

Really, the whole plant seems artificial in so many ways. The leaves can range from pale to dark green, and they are thick and waxy feeling. Then they sprout these "fake" flowers, which eventually fall off, and the process begins again. And the blooms on my plants are all on bare tendrils of plants, in places where nothing else appears to be going on. (I've posed this bloom with the leaves so it doesn't look so strange.)

Can you tell I love these guys? :-)

August 14, 2007

I got prezzies [Now with Pictures!]

UPDATED with pictures at the end....

[title to be sung to the childhood taunt that ends with neener, neener, neener :-) ]

It all started when Tracy visited the Rocy Mountains and posted these lovely pictures of the columbine. I left her a comment saying that I'd be happy to share some of the seeds from my blue columbine; not the Rocky Mountain version, but definitely columbine, blue, and gosh-darn prolific.

Well, when I got the seeds gathered, a few other things kind of found their way into the box to go out to her. I really just meant to send her the seeds, but when the recipient is a spinner and you happen to find beautiful roving, well, what was I to do?

I don't have pictures because my camera is upstairs in the boiling sauna of our study and I haven't dared venture up there. But I'll include some soon, I promise.

UPDATED pictures:

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My felted columbine

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Complete package from Tracy

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Yarn and felted bowl with shells

The yarn is from Mama Llama and I seem to have lost the label. However, it is the "Twisted Yarn" color, which is exclusive to the Texas shop from which Tracy purchased it. I don't think any of my LYSs have an exclusive color. While small, the color in these shots is fairly accurate. It reminds me a bit of the ocean, with the beach sand and several shades of water. Think of those remote Caribbean islands with the turquoise water. I'm making these socks out of it, and it seems to be handling beautifully.

The bowl is one Tracy felted herself (I really want to do this sometime), and the shells came from Matagorda Beach, which I believe is the one Tracy went to in this post. Just an FYI, sea shells in a little hand-knit/hand-felted bowl makes for a very charming gift.

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card and Bluebonnet seeds

I actually can't believe that Tracy chose this particular card to send. I was researching Indian Paintbrush, which is the Wyoming state flower, to see if I could grow it here for a bit of home. Turns out the Paintbrush is a parasitic plant, and the Texas Bluebonnet is frequently a host. This card shows both Paintbrush and bluebonnet. So I'm going to try it next spring. I'll order some Paintbrush seeds now, because they have to be chilled before they'll grow; the instructions seem to be to overwinter the seeds in the fridge the first year, then plant indoors with the host seeds in early spring, and move them outdoors after the frost season. We'll see how that goes. But I'm also going to hold back some bluebonnet seeds and plant them by themselves to see what happens there.

August 8, 2007

Untitled, because I don't know what to title it

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast had a wonderful post for Poetry Friday last week. I love the poem at the end: "Raw Silk and Uncut Wood" by Lao Tzu and translated by Ursula LeGuin. It seems the world would be a much happier place if we could follow this advice more regularly.

August 7, 2007

The scariest thing in the world

Luann probably has no clue what she's in for (click the picture to see it bigger).

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I dressed as the Cat in the Hat for Halloween once at my mall job. Did my vampire co-worker scare the kiddies? No sir. What was the scariest costume? Me, as the Cat in the Hat. One little girl pointed at me, screaming to her daddy, "no, no, no, no!" Pure terror, I'm telling you! :-)

August 3, 2007

Daily Grousing

As any one who knows me well knows, I've been itching to leave MN for a long time. I'm not a city girl and I'm definitely not a MN summer person; I wilt in heat and humidity. Now, something really seems to be conspiring against me.

Here are the facts:
1) I work with students at one of the largest public universities in the country. Construction began this summer on a new on-campus stadium. All well and good, except they're building the stadium where all of the student parking used to be. All of it. Some 3 thousand parking spaces lost, plus the road work surrounding the area. Some parking will be replaced, but not nearly as much and not nearly for the same prices, and not until 2008 at the earliest.

2) The I35W bridge collapsed. Beyond the loss of human life, this is a huge loss to Minneapolis, as it is the primary bridge across the Mississippi. The Quarry Shopping Center in Northeast Mpls will take a huge loss, since all of the re-routings completely bypass the area. Not to mention just the loss of connection between north and south Mpls; I kind of feel like I don't know how to drive in this city anymore, even though I know there are plenty of ways to get where I want to go.

For more of an idea of the scope of this mess, here are some pictures that a friend of a friend took: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~ltierney/Bridge/.

3) The Republican National Convention will be here in Fall 2008. During State Fair. During New Student Week on campus. They've already booked every hotel surrounding the campus. Have fun bringing your new freshman to campus at the beginning of the year next fall! No hotels AND no parking for move-in weekend

August 1, 2007

We're all right

In case any friends or family are concerned, we're fine. The I-35W bridge that crosses the Mississippi River collapsed shortly after 6pm tonight. We were safe at home, and we aren't usually on that stretch of road anyway. Most news stations here don't even have a full story yet, and we don't have TV, so I can't tell you much. Here are some of the primary news stations for anyone who might be interested:

www.wcco.com
www.kare11.com
www.startribune.com
www.kstp.com

Our phone circuits (even cellular) are all tied up, so I can't call anyone. Texting does seem to work.

personalDNA second time

Interestingly, the Artist part stayed the same. I have a hard time answering some of these questions because I don't know whether to answer for "people-in-general" or "most of the people-I-know-on-a-more-than-superficial-level." I do tend to consider people-in-general far more negatively than people-in-specific. Or, I often say that I don't like people but I do like individuals.

Again, after the break, I've italicized the statements that don't seem to apply to me.

Continue reading "personalDNA second time" »

personalDNA

I don't know. The "Reserved" part seems to fit, but the artist part seems a little not quite right. (read more after the break....) I've italicized some of the statements that seem a little less "me" (though I would like to have some of those traits, so maybe that's what came through in my answers....) You can also roll your mouse over the colors to see what they represent.

Continue reading "personalDNA" »

April 24, 2007

The Word is "Color"

Just a slight rant, here.

The word is "color." As in, "Have you seen the new color in Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool?"

The new word "colorway" (as in, "Have you seen the new "colorway" in Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool?") that I'm seeing popping up in the craft world just drives me crazy. What's wrong with "color?" Why do we feel the need to create new words that don't add meaning?

April 23, 2007

Spring Blooms

I finally got out to play with the camera and take some pictures of my early spring bulbs. I even missed a lot of the crocuses, which have been out even longer.

Click to make any picture bigger.

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March 31, 2007

Wow.

Just finished the last episode of Six Feet Under . That was quite possibly the best final episode or ending I've ever seen. Here is a link to the video on youtube for the final segment. I'd be willing to bet that it will be poignant even for people who don't know the show or characters.

March 29, 2007

The Gut the Endangered Species Act Act"

Anyone who even remotely knows me should be able to guess my reaction to the new proposals for the Endangered Species Act. See Salon's article for more information. But if even one of these two items are passed, the world is extra-special doomed: 1) limit the numbers of animals that can be covered; 2) limit the amount of acreage for habitat preservation.

I'm going to go out in the snow and eat worms. Oh wait. It doesn't snow here anymore.

March 1, 2007

Art, Dirty Words, and Censorship

Blogger Maud Newton has an excerpt from what might be a very interesting book: Dirt for Art's Sake: Books on Trial from Madame Bovary to Lolita

The excerpt Maud provides discussed Eudora's "Moodwatch" option and the author's attempts to swear while telling friends about email/technological travails. Do you suppose it would flag "WTF"? Lame attempts at humor aside, I am particularly troubled by her account of the Google SafeSearch function at the end of her entry. Apparently just searching for "lolita" raises red flags for Google. Though this could be a good thing to keep students from finding internet sources about the novel (or am I forgetting that they shouldn't be reading that "trash" in the first place? :-) )

February 25, 2007

I was wrong

and that makes me happy! We had an informal office poll on Friday about how much snow we'd really see out of the "storm of the century" that was threatening us. Keep in mind, that even though this is Minnesota, land of Arctic winters and Equatorial summers, we have not had very much significant snow in the nearly 10 years we've been in the state.

Because I'm the cynic, and because we haven't gotten the predicted accumulations at all this winter, my vote was 0-2 inches.

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(Click for larger) This is probably 7-8 inches, though there was still some falling snow and slight accumulation happening when I took this picture.

Here's one looking north of our front steps:

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and one looking to the south:

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What doesn't make me happy, though, is that the north-looking picture shows the entire amount we were able to snowblow before the main drive belt snapped. Which means the driveway is still buried (the first picture is the one track in the driveway S cleared before going out to the front walk). What also doesn't make me happy is that we helped more friends move yesterday (for those who are local and counting, yes, that's two households we've moved in two weekends, for a total of 12 hours of schlepping boxes and furniture from house to truck to house).

Fortunately, we have a friend with a snowblower who is willing to come over after he does his house. Thank goodness for friends with snowblowers.

February 2, 2007

Bad Things Come in Threes

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So how has your new year been going? I've started wishing that it was over already.

Two weeks ago, one of my best friend's grandfather died. She was very close to him, and it's hard to watch her grieve knowing there's nothing anyone can do to help.

Last week, one of my mother's dogs died, as noted in an earlier post.

This week, my friend's husband (yes, same friend) lost his job.

A fourth, though I'm not counting it because the actual event was pre-Thanksgiving, was another friend losing his job; I just heard this week.

Plus it's cold. And there's not enough snow to be able to enjoy the cold. And it's dreary.

Jelly-side down.

December 4, 2006

Monday Morning Crabbiness

I lost my entire day Saturday due to participating in a wedding (not complaining about that, Jen... :-) Just saying that if I'd been thinking smarter, I would have taken today off to compensate). Then managed to reset the alarm for today as though we were going off daylight savings again (you know, the old, "Fall back" routine), meaning it went off an hour later than expected. Get to work (still early, but an hour late for us), to read an entirely inappropriate email from a student [Excerpt: "Now, all i want was for you to simply change my math discussion section from Thursday 2:30pm to 3:20 pm to Thursday 9:05am to 9:55 am All this time that is all i was asking for. Not so hard."] who hasn't figured out through repeated emails that this particular type of switch CANNOT be made. So actually, yes, it is quite hard. Grr.

So all of this is to highlight some crabbiness about the morning comics:

6Chix120406-small.gif

While I appreciate the sentiment behind this strip on so many levels (knitting at work, flight delays, the need for more comfort in airports, etc.), I want to know WHO holds knitting needles like this? You're right! No one does. Yet this is almost always the position knitting is represented in pictures. I suppose that one could argue that when knitting needles are held properly, it could be difficult to graphically represent in an understandable manner, but I don't care this morning.

Then we have the example from "Committed":

committed120406.gif

Small children, women, small women, wives, non-tech people, etc. Credibility is such a flaky thing. Not to air dirty relationship laundry, or anything, but S and I frequently have discussions about computer problems that go something like this:

Me: My computer is doing [fill in the blank].
S: That's not possible. It can't do that.
Me: Nonetheless, that's what it's doing.
S: You/someone must be doing something wrong. It can't happen that way.
Me: Come here and look. That's what it's doing.
S: I don't know what to tell you. It's not possible to do that, so you're just doing something wrong.

My computer relies on my lack of credibility to do oh so many things.

[Love you, honey. Not mad at you, just cranky at the morning. :-) ]

December 3, 2006

One and Only, thank you very much

M. Kennedy has an interesting post about only children on her blog. Her last paragraph is one of the most important reasons I won't have kids.

I found one comment, however, to be particularly interesting, since it more or less illustrates some issues I may be facing. As an only child, not only will I bear the entire child's responsibility for her aging parent(s), but also, as it turns out, for my parent(s) status as grandparents. Supposedly well intentioned adults have sympathized with my (human) childless status, and I can only imagine the gushings of "oh you poor thing" if they were talking to my grandchildless mother.

But is having children so that you will have someone to care for you in your dotage (and then having more so that one child will not have to shoulder that burden alone) really a good reason to have them?

November 21, 2006

Every woman's complaint

When will clothing sizes begin to reflect actual women's sizes? What does "size 10" mean? 14? 8? or even 0? What is a size 0? and heaven forbid they start going into negative numbers: "Now stocking sizes -10 through 16."

stonesoup112106-small.gif

This comic illustrates the problem I normally find. When Petite Sophisticate was still around, I'd go in to find millions of 0 through 6 on the racks, and maybe one 8, 10, 12, or 14, if someone hadn't already bought it. They didn't even carry 16s, so if you were short and not waifish, you were out of luck.

But then, you'd look at the clearance racks, and what do you know? They were also full of sizes 0-4. Huh. Go figure. *wry smile*

November 20, 2006

I could have told you that....

I'm just a sucker for some of these little online quizzes. This one is "What Tarot card are you?"

fool card.jpg

You are The Fool

The Fool is the card of infinite possibilities. The bag on the staff indicates that he has all he need to do or be anything he wants, he has only to stop and unpack. He is on his way to a brand new beginning. But the card carries a little bark of warning as well. Stop daydreaming and fantasising and watch your step, lest you fall and end up looking the fool.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

November 10, 2006

Ouch

My results were actually a tie, but this one is perhaps the more accurate, at least on some notable occasions, especially if dogs happen to be the subject of conversation:

You scored as A college textbook. You're an authority on something, you just know it. Everyone else does, too, but that doesn't mean they like you. Since you think very highly of everything you say, you charge a pretty penny to entertain your listeners. Those forced to pay do so grudgingly and try to defray the costs of learning from you by selling portions of their access to your charms to others. As a result of this speedy dissemination of your knowledge, you constantly add to your repertoire--and then hike your price. Despite your usefullness, which is rarely in doubt, nobody likes you. They find you didactic, boring and irrelevant--but still necessary.

Poetry

61%

A college textbook

61%

The back of a froot loops box

54%

A paperback romance novel

46%

An electronics user's manual

46%

A coloring book

39%

A classic novel

32%

Your Literary Personality
created with QuizFarm.com


Here is the other possibility:

You scored as Poetry. Ever since you started talking, people have been mispronouncing your name. They can't quite get the hang of your herky-jerky nature, always stuttering and wincing. It's not that you're ugly; you are frequently considered quite beautiful if occasionally pretentious and overblown. Despite all these setbacks, you are a very, very popular person. People like to share you with their friends, knowing full well that neither they nor their friends understand you--but they remain confident that the gesture was both genuine and complementary. We know better, but we can also rhyme 'effulgent'.

Poetry

61%

A college textbook

61%

The back of a froot loops box

54%

A paperback romance novel

46%

An electronics user's manual

46%

A coloring book

39%

A classic novel

32%

Your Literary Personality
created with QuizFarm.com


It all came down to how I broke this tie:

1 You're a know-it-all. (Text-book)
2 You're a free spirit. (Poetry)

November 3, 2006

Am I missing something here?

I've encountered at least two references to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. And I don't even like the book.

First, on the comic strip site The Silent Penultimate Panel Watch has been following the comic strip "Frazz," which had a Cuckoo's Nest Halloween costume.

Second, on Bookslut is the link to the new novel Poppy Shakespeare. When I clicked the link to see what the novel is about, the first editorial reviews state that the novel is "a British import whose obvious inspiration is Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

October 12, 2006

The 4-letter "S" word

This may be the earliest we've seen anything relating to SNOW since we've been here. The past two days have really been cold and miserable--I even stayed home today, and have been cold and miserable myself.

The good news, though, is that the major depression I've been experiencing seems to have abated back to manageable levels. Last Thursday I made a Dr's appointment, but by Sunday, was feeling more normal (took a few melt-downs last week, I guess). Saw my doctor on Tuesday but didn't make any changes in medication until we get some results from some blood tests. I'll also be monitoring it for the next few weeks (the length of my remaining prescription), to see if things continue to be better.

October 5, 2006

the funk

I seem to be falling into a depression again. I've been doing so well on my current medication, but I think it's gone beyond the simple "everyone gets depressed once in a while" concern. I just want a magical cure-all.


So what are my problems? Nothing, in the big picture. I'm healthy, I'm in a good relationship, I've got a good job, really, everything should be fine. That's how I know this is a depression--everything is fine, but I'm just not happy.


The good news? I have scheduled a doctor's appointment to discuss my state and possible changes to my meds. I also don't seem to be alone (not that I'm happy about that for other people, but...)--I'm seeing other signs of depression or being overwhelmed on several blogs, so I think it's going around right now.

Continue reading "the funk" »

October 3, 2006

Kodak Blog

One of today's entries on the Kodak blog has three of my favorite things: photography, lighthouses, and Wyoming. It's an interesting glimpse at 1850-1880 image capturing processes.

September 26, 2006

A Week in Orlando

Just returned from a week's vacation in Orlando with the in-laws. The vacation itself was fine, nothing bad, nothing special, but knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't have gone.

First, the timing was pretty bad all around. We just got back from Norway a little over a month ago. That seems too soon to be taking another extended (more than 3 days) vacation. Plus, school has just started. Fortunately, the week we were gone was the first real week of a "slow" period since it was just after the drop/add deadline, but that also means that everything put off for the first 2 weeks also had to be put off for one more week. Finally, we didn't have much notice at all. In-laws invited us to stay in the condo with them only a couple of weeks prior to the trip itself. Didn't have a lot of prep time to get ready to leave, and now that we're back, don't have a lot of time to prepare for the company we're having this weekend (that we've known about since April--my aunt & uncle from Salt Lake City [no, not mormons themselves] are coming so he can participate in the TC marathon).

Add Orlando to my list of places not to live.
Pros: warm pretty much year round, lots of attractions/things to do, lots of natural life
Cons: warm/hot/ghastly much of the year, lots of attractions = lots of people, lots of natural life = lots of bugs

Temperatures were in the high 80s to low 90s all week, except for the brief storm on Tuesday.

Continue reading "A Week in Orlando" »

September 15, 2006

and then it's time for Hanging Man

Rhymes091506-small.gif

Framing Man has already visited. But we've still only gotten one of the pictures hung. We've only been in this house 4 or so years.

September 14, 2006

Mad Ethel Flint...Arrr

Pretty accurate....

My pirate name is:
Mad Ethel Flint
Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network

September 1, 2006

Guess what was in the vending machine?

mmdark.gif

I am so happy! Click the picture for more information from mms.com.

August 25, 2006

New item for wishlist

Most people who would tend to shop for me have probably visited Louise Peterson's DaneSculptor website. I realized I haven't been there recently, so thought I'd check. Gonna have to get me this necklace (click on the pictures to go to the website):

Have a Heart.jpg

This is just the wax version, but she has it available in silver and gold. My druthers are the silver.

It's a smaller model of this sculpture, which I may also have to purchase:

a_stole1.jpg

Given the prices on similar sculptures, I anticipate this one will cost in the $800-$1600 range. Maybe everyone in the world that I know could pool together? :-)

August 8, 2006

There and Back Again

We made it back from Norway, safe and sound, but very regretful. Temperatures were in the 80s in Norway (on the high end) and we came back to 100s here. The trip was so incredible! I've even gotten my pictures uploaded to Flickr now:



www.flickr.com








Norway July 2006 mahlu002's Norway July 2006 photoset



No titles or descriptions yet (maybe never, with as little time as I really have), but I'm always happy to talk about them!

July 13, 2006

We're Off!

We leave tomorrow for a lovely 2-week vacation in Norway. We're going with some friends and staying with his family in Westlandet. I intend to post my I-Fri picture before I go but that'll be the last post for a while. Then PICTURES!!! After I get them developed and uploaded, that is. :-)

July 7, 2006

When Lightning Strikes

Sometime on Monday, July 3, lightening struck my mother's house. Given the amount and types of damage, and given the poor electrical wiring done by the previous owner, it is absolutely amazing that the house didn't catch fire. The eletricians came out yesterday for the electrical assessment and possibly pieced some more details together. We don't know if the lightening struck the spruce tree (huge monster of a tree) and then jumped to the house, or just went straight to the house. But there are definitely melted shingles and a hole where the strike hit, on the roof over mom's bedroom. The exit point is from an unused jack of some kind (phone, cable, antenna, etc) because the switchplate covering it flew off and shattered and the wall surrounding it is scorched, as are the pair of shoes on the shoe rack closest to the exit site.

house.gif

It seems like the lightening went through the entire house. It knocked out the doorbell (front door is right where the living room shares the wall with the library), the garage door (which is on the wall bordering the living room and kitchen--the door wouldn't even work manually), the phone and answering machine (in the kitchen not far from the garage), the furnace (in the basement under the upstairs bathroom), and the computer (off, and on a surge protector; located in my old basement bedroom under mom's room). On the way through, it also decided to melt and knock off a few ceiling tiles in the storeroom, right under the guest room.

With all of the damage that did happen, what didn't happen is even more incredible. Mom was at work, so out of the house. My uncle had been working on her computer (brand spanking new, by the way), and had left only 5 or so minutes prior to the strike. Two of her dogs were kenneled in the library, and her other dog and 23+ year old cat were loose in the house. I absolutely cannot believe that with the construction of the house (a do-it-yourselfer who didn't know what he was doing) and the amount of damage that neither the tree nor the house caught on fire. The only critter who seems a little traumatized is the kitty, who we suspect might have been on mom's bed when it happened. She's usually never concerned by thunder or noises, but the 4th of July fireworks did seem to upset her quite a bit.

Update from my uncle:

Here is an update on the lightning strike.

The lightning did hit the spruce tree next to the house and jumped from there to the roof. Today, I put a temporary patch on the hole in the roof to keep water out until roofers can get to it. Last night I talked to Dell, and they are sending replacement computer parts (I am guessing a power supply and a mother board) to a technician, who will install them next week. The electrician determined that the furnace is getting power to it, but nothing is coming out of its transformer, so the furnace repair people will have to fix that. Jan did get someone to repair the garage door opener - he replaced a controller card ($70 part plus labor).

It has taken a lot of her time with the insurance company, repairmen, etc. Next time, she should request disaster not strike during month end close.

July 6, 2006

Where I Lived

In April when I got to go to Germany, I had the opportunity to return to my old neighborhood in Berlin and poke around for a little while. So much has changed, yet so much is still the same. The apartment buildings are still all in the same places, just with new paint. The baseball/softball diamond is still there, still with the little hill we would go sledding on. The ecumenical church mom dragged me to is still there. My old 1st grade school is still there--even still called the same thing. Part of the huge field we had to cross to get to and from school is still there.

But the buildings are no longer the army base. They are regular apartments, leased to regular families. Some American, some German, some from elsewhere. The playgrounds have changed or been completely removed. Part of the huge field is still there, but the other part is now a youth center and new apartment buildings (though part of me wants to say that the youth center was there when I was). I don't know: Can you go home again?

Here are some of the pictures I took:

stewardstrasse-forest.jpg

This is the "huge forest" behind our apartment building. We lived in the green/tan one at the back of the picture...it wasn't painted all pretty back then.

stewardstrasse-back.jpg

Moving closer to the building. My bedroom (I'm pretty sure) is either the green window immediately to the left of the door or the first tan window next to it. If you went in from the back, our apartment was the first one on the left hand side. The Allenders lived across the hall and the Irish family (kids were Susie and Patrick...don't remember their last names) lived upstairs. I saw The Wizard of Oz for the first time at their apartment. The Wicked Witch of the West scared the living daylights out of me.

That parking lot is where I learned to ride a bike...that and along Stewardstrasse. She was a blue girl's bike with a white banana seat, and her name was Rosie Lee. At various times she had streamers, a white basket with flowers on the front, and those silly clackers that went between the spokes. Sometimes she had all at once. All of us kids would race our bikes around the building...I alwasy won with Rosie Lee, even when Gregory Hall had his 10-speed.

stewardstrasse-front.jpg

I don't think the painting on the front is designed to match the back. Again, our windows would be the ones to the right of the door, I think all three of them before the brown pole down the middle. The first one was kitchen, second was dining room, third living room. The Halls (Gregory, Daniel, and Nicole) and "boy Aaron" (as opposed to "girl Erin") lived on the right side of the building...don't remember anyone else on that side.

This scene was the big shock to me. See that big open spot between the tree on the left side of the picture and the one in the middle? There's 'sposed to be a big, red, wavy, 3-story slide there. The one in this picture, in fact. This picture is interesting for it's story, as well. The girls are, from left to right, my best friend Isabel, (Irish) Susie, "girl Erin," and Nicole Hall. The bushes on the right made a wonderful hideout...there were trails and clearings inside so we kids could play more or less unsupervised. "Girl Erin" lived with her father in the apartment building in the background; that's pretty much the paint job on all of the buildings at the time.

That slide has other fun memories for me. When we lived across Stewardstrasse in the Argentinische Allee apartment (farthest from where I'm standing, lower level, maybe have a vague memory of the balconies), Flip (who lived across the forest area) and I would make raiding expeditions to play in the cool playground. We had a sandbox and a swingset in our forest, but the Stewardstrasse building had a huge slide and another playground on the side of the building. We loved tormenting the resident kids with our presence--they occasionally were around to drive us out. Little did I know I'd actually get to be one of the "owners" of the slide one day.

Ah, memories.

July 3, 2006

Mountain Cabin

trappercabin.jpg

Just a very quick watercolor sketch of an old trapper's cabin that is on property owned by my old church camp on Casper Mountain. We almost always went past it on our hikes; another mile or so from this cabin is a natural spring. (Click on the picture to see a larger image.)

June 29, 2006

Or Both....

pcnpixel2006305350622.jpg

Mystery Illness

co060629.gif

I got a cold shortly after Memorial Day. Husband had the same thing (I blame him). His doctor said, "Have no idea, but here are some antibiotics." With that news, I didn't go in myself. Cough has been lingering lingering lingering. Went in yesterday. Same answer. Guess we'll just have to wait for the autopsies...."Death caused by self-inflicted wounds because coughing wouldn't go away." :-)

June 13, 2006

I like my friends

And sometimes they even like me....here's part of an email I got from a friend yesterday:

"Hi. I left this on your cell phone too, but in case you don’t have it with you…
Are you available for lunch today or tomorrow? Just you, not the gang…"

*cheesy grin*

June 8, 2006

Sad Spring

This has been a sad spring for pets. Shortly before the Walk for Animals at the beginning of May, three beloved pets went to the Rainbow Bridge: Bailey, who lived with the Rahns in Rapid City; Frank, who lived with Phil and Jody here; and Max, who lived with the Staffords (Becka's family) in Rapid City. Now there's a fourth to add to that list: Auslese, who lived with Dave and Linda in Ames, IA.

She's been having some problems for a while, but nothing that might indicate a serious problem that needed to be dealth with immediately. But apparently on Sunday, May 28, she collapsed, and before Dave could get her to the vet, she had stopped breathing. My heart goes out to them, particularly because Dave was alone when it happened, and Linda wasn't there when it happened. Coming home to no dog is one of the hardest things I can imagine doing; it's the number one reason I will always have two dogs.

But it's not just that. Lese was a model Rottweiler. We've known her for her entire life. Marley taught her to swim when she was just a little baby. We went walking down at Lake Nokomis, and Marley went right into the water at the boat dock like he always did. Little Lese, not knowing any better at the tiem, did exactly what Marley did. I just wish I had a video of her reaction once she realized what had happened.

After we lost Marley (and Dave and Linda lost their boy Max the very next day), Lese and Caela became friends. Because Caela was dog agressive and Linda's other Rottie girl, Sheba, was dog aggressive, we started walking one week with Caela, then the next with the Rottie girls. At some point, though, Linda asked if we could try walking Lese with Caela because the young one just wasn't getting enough exercise. The first day was a lot of build-up for nothing. I had Caela on a short leash, she had Lese at heel, and I'm pretty sure the two humans were the only ones who cared. For whatever reason, whether it was all of the treat bribes or the fact that they were so used to the other's smell, the two girls sniffed at each other then completely ignored each other. No growling, no pulling, no nothing. It was just a non-event.

Of course, after Dave and Linda moved to Rochester, we didn't see them very much. We were in the area right when they were moving because we were visiting Scott's family, but every time they came back to visit, Lese stayed with Linda's mom because they flew out here. We got to see them all at Ren Fest last August, when Linda was just pregnant, and Linda came up again in February to give a guest lecture, and then we got to see Lese for the last time when they came up in May.

She always remembered me, and she always remembered Remy. She wasn't quite sure about Payton, because they'd never met, but Remy and I were A-OK. This is my very favorite picture of her; it's one that Linda took a couple of years before they left Minnesota:

Auslese-Summer-2000.jpg

Visit from Friends

Some time in mid-May, Dave, Linda, Aidan, Ailis, and Auslese came up to the Twin Cities to visit. After 3 years in Rochester, NY, they have just completed their first year in Ames, IA. Neither town is quite the metropolis that Mpls/Stpl are, so traffic was a bit of a shock.

Aidan is now three, and Ailis (AY-lish) was around 4 weeks old. Just like her older brother, Ailis is adorable. These pictures show her baby acne, but when you see her in person, you don't notice it at all. And definitely unlike her brother, she is very quiet. Aidan screamed his way through his first three or four months; Dave and Linda wouldn't let anyone babysit because they didn't want to lose their friends!

Here are just a few pictuers to keep you amused.

Danielle-Ailis-May-06.jpg
Danielle & Ailis

Ailis and Payton

Aidan-May-06.jpg
Aidan

Scott with Ailis and Aidan

June 4, 2006

72 Hours in the Black Hills, or, the House We Didn't Buy

We're kind of in the stage of thinking about where we would like to live in the long run. Minnesota has treated us well, for the most part, but it's not a place we want to stay. Too many people, too much heat and humidity in the summers, too far from most of the family, lack of mountains--just a few reasons we can't stay here forever. In order to completely pay off the house, we're looking at around another 10 years, give or take.

One of the places we've been talking about moving to is the Black Hills. The climate around Rapid City is pretty close to ideal, there's definitely a lot of sunshine, and since the majority of our friends here in the Cities are from the Rapid area, we know that they'll be visiting and we'll have a chance to see them occasionally. A friend of Scott's mom has a property on the market up there, and her price was finally in the range that we could actually consider purchasing a second home, one that we could move to when we leave here, but use for vacation/family seeing/letting friends use when they visit, etc, until we can get out there. Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a whirlwind visit out to the place to actually see it.

Becka's father, a Rapid City architect, graciously gave us a little bit of his time to glance at the place. Unfortunately, he found enough things that could turn into major problems that we decided not to buy. But in the spirit of our trip, I did take several pictures, and I feel obligated to share.

This first picture is of the front (?) of the house. I'm standing at the gate of one of the corrals on the property and looking back at the house. Scott and Perry (Andy's father) are standing on the deck, one of the things that would need to be replaced.

house1.jpg

This picture was taken from almost the same distance, but it gets the side of the house. The window in the back is for the master bedroom. The statue in the foreground is part of a small garden area with a little stone bench also in it.

house2.jpg

Finally, this picture is from almost the exact same spot as the first picture, and looks out at the corral and the majority of the property, 3.41 acres total. The section roped off on the left is the leach field, and the lot even farther left has not yet been built on. The 3.41 acres apparently also encompasses the little stand of trees at the end of the leach field. To the right, and slightly out of the picture, is another house quite a ways back, in the foresty area at the far back of the picture.

houseview1.jpg

I just found a missing roll of film that has pictures of the inside, so as soon as I get that developed, I'll post more house pictures.

Gardening

May have to come back and update this entry in a little while. We've been doing a lot of gardening this spring, and we're really seeing some of the benefits. We are kind of the talk of the neighborhood; people who walk by regularly often come to see what we've done recently, and what happens to be blooming now. Granted, some of the flowers in the front are still from the previous owners, but I've done enough adding and changing recently that the gardens really have become mine. I seem to always have something blooming, which is really cool.

(If you continue reading after the break, I've posted some pictures of my early spring bloomers. I'll create another post sometime (maybe) of my late spring, early summer blooms.)

We've also begun putting in some of the shade plants under the maple in front (which was recently pruned, so looks great). Right now, these plants include hosta, forget-me-not, false forget-me-not, and blue monkshood, but the latter don't seem to be doing well, so we'll see what happens there. We also put in a dogwood for some accent in the sunny corner of the yard.

The biggest improvements, though, are probably the trees we've recently put in. We put in three arborvitae on the south side of the house; hopefully when they get a little bigger they'll help provide some shade there and keep the house even a few degrees cooler. We plan to go back to the nursery soon and get a bunch of shrub roses to fill in around the arborvitae. We had the scraggly pine in the back taken out because it was dying, but we planted a northern red oak that will hopefully begin shading the house a little in a few years (I REALLY hope it will give us some shade while we're still here).

Finally, we have berries galore. Andy and Becka gave us some excess strawberries last year which not only survived the winter, but have been giving us 10-20 berries a day this past week. Our grape vines actually seem to have some tiny grapes forming, our blueberries are producing for the first time (just one plant, and not many, but it's a good sign), and our raspberries are going to be coming out our ears in a few weeks.

Continue reading "Gardening" »

Birthday presents

I had a second birthday this week. Jen gave me the gifts she had for me, and Becka gave me what she had. I love late prezzies.

Jen found these adorable mini-candles:

flwrcandle.jpg

They're about an inch tall and 3/4 inch in diameter. The lids of the little jars have tiny pressed/dried flowers on them. She also found a Chocoscopes candy bar; apparently Geminis choose their chocolate pieces by biting into each one.

Becka gave me this bag:

dane-bag.jpg

and filled it with several puppy related things.

Hmm. Dogs and chocolate. Do my friends know me or something?

Blog lack

You might have noticed I haven't blogged much recently. Unfortunately, it's not because not much has been going on. Precisely the opposite. I'm going to try to do some updates this week, while things are still slightly quieter at work. My plan at the moment is to start at the most current events and work backward (all the way to April 21 or so...), so we'll see how far we get.

Here's my intended order: late birthday; gardening; Black Hills; conference; visit with Linda, Dave, Auslese, Aidan, and Ailis; Germany. I've probably missed something, but maybe this will keep me at least somewhat on track.

April 21, 2006

One Guess Where I Won't Live

and if you guess wrong, you don't know me very well. :-)

Headline found in today's Minnesota Daily: Georgia endorses elective Bible classes

Apparently the Daily doesn't put AP articles on its site, so here's the link to the Star Tribune article

What about elective courses on the Qur'an? On the Torah? On other documents that other religions consider holy? I'm really tired of the way so-called christians act in our country. I'll buy you a soda if you can adequately (my decision) tell me how the american version of christianity is not a cult.

Continue reading "One Guess Where I Won't Live" »

April 12, 2006

Birthday Presents?

If anyone is having any trouble figuring out gifts ideas for me, here are a few ideas [clicking on the pictures will take you directly to the products].... :-)

the articulated dog paperclip holder from Patina
dogpcholder.jpg

or

an iPod Nano radio remote available at Amazon
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or

a chirping bird magnet available at doe or at sugar pine beauty
birdmagnet.jpg

March 8, 2006

Fun Words

Ran across a neat word today that I don't want to forget:

eidolon

From Dictionary.com:

ei·do·lon
n. pl. ei·do·lons or ei·do·la (-l)
A phantom; an apparition.
An image of an ideal.

and the first entry from the Oxford English Dictionary:

An unsubstantial image, spectre, phantom.

1828 CARLYLE Misc. (1857) I. 137 Flying through the air, and living..with mere Eidolons. 1830 SCOTT Demonol. i. 36 Calling up his eidolon in the hall of his former greatness. a1849 POE Dreamland, An Eidolon named Night On a black throne reigns upright. 1850 MRS. BROWNING Poems II. 155 How Ulysses left the sunlight For the pale eidola race. 1875 B. TAYLOR Faust I. xxi. 193 It is a magic shape, a lifeless eidolon. 1876 LOWELL Among my Bks. Ser. II. (1873) 174 No real giant, but a pure eidolon of the mind.

March 1, 2006

Morning Visitors

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TWO of them!!! Ick ick ick ick ick.

And I was alone in the office. Fortunately we have great facilities people here, and one of them was able to, um, assist me with this little problem. She had a broom.

February 20, 2006

A is for...

April.

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I just got back in touch with an old friend from high school. He's a year younger than me, but turns out he has a daughter who turns 8 next month! While 23 is a fine age to have kids, or so they say, I really didn't know very much of anything at that age, let alone enough to be a parent. He's had custody of her since she was 5 days old. I know from mom's experience that single parenting is not easy, but from birth, that must be a real challenge.

Anyway, I don't know much about 8-year-olds, but those "in the know" suggested sparkly stuff. So I embroidered this monogram for her--what you can't see is that the pink "A" is even outlined with a pale pink sparkly floss (awful stuff to work with, by the way). I'm not sure what exactly to do now. I'm thinking of putting a pink ribbon in the fabric somehow and leaving it as a wall hanging, but that almost seems like a cop-out. Why do something simple when you can try something complex and muck it all up? So the other idea I have is a log cabin quilted pillow with the "A" in the middle. I've got at least two weeks to figure it out, so wish me luck. And if you have any ideas, I'm all ears. :-)

Personality Assessment

My friend dan found this personality assessment that is interesting; your personality is figured in part by how your friends, family, colleagues see you. Go to my Johari window to choose my personality!

February 13, 2006

Isn't that just a kids' disease?

So I came down with strep throat last week. Knocked me out for basically the whole week, but I gotta say, I do love my antibiotics! I'm one of those people who goes from healthy to sick in an instant; I know exactly when I first felt the symptoms (I may have contracted earlier, but I went from feeling okay to sick in the blink of an eye). I went home sick early Tuesday afternoon and basically went to bed. I told my office I probably wouldn't be in on Wednesday, but I did have a doctor's appointment that morning (for something completely unrelated--wouldn't it be cool to be able to schedule a doctor's appointment in advance for the day after you start feeling bad?). I mentioned that I wasn't feeling well, but my doctor suggested that I should start with OTC decongestants before checking out the minute clinic.

What she didn't count on is the fact that I am a horrible sick person. I can't stand being miserable, and therefore make everyone else miserable too. So Thursday, when I had to go in to work because of important meetings, I managed to sneak time to get to the minute clinic in Coffman (wonderful service, by the way, for those who are at the U!). Sure enough, the 5-minute culture came back positive. I haven't had strep in I don't know how long. It's kind of like pink-eye; something I got as a kid, but didn't know adults got it too.

Spent Friday in bed, waiting for the antibiotics to kick in. Saturday was a little better, but WOW! Yesterday and today have been great. The medicine seems to have wiped out something else that's been hanging around because I feel so much better now than I have in a long time. Either the meds, or all of the sleep, or maybe even both.

So maybe being sick isn't all that bad (at least if it's something you can get drugs for and get over quickly without too much suffering). At least in this case, my body was telling me to take a time out, and boy, was it worth it. But had I just taken a time out and slept without being sick, I somehow don't think I'd feel as good as I do.

February 1, 2006

Not yet protected by political correctness laws

I believe mocking children is still acceptable. If I had been drinking something when I first went to this page, I would have spit all over my computer:

Daily Mumps

Here's a particularly wonderful gem:

Don't Look At Me Like That

And what are you going to do with that major? Part 2

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If only finding faculty jobs were that easy. But it was even 2/3 of the way through my Ph.D. when I decided I didn't really want to teach, at least not in a classroom. That certainly made completing the degree difficult.

And what are you going to do with that major? Teach?

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Scott and I have this conversation a lot. There are a lot of valuable things about my major, but practicality is not always one of them.

January 25, 2006

Underwater Adventure

I actually attempted scuba diving last night. My friend, Andy, is certified, and will be going on a scuba trip in Feb. He went to a refresher course that met at the same time as an intro course (to see if you're interested in certification training). Since I'm game to try most things once (I will never, ever, ever jump out of an airplane or bungee jump. The plane can crashe with me in it. I don't care.), I joined him.

There are definitely some things I don't like. Because the air from the tanks is "just air," it's dry. That makes your mouth and throat very dry, like when you're getting work done at the dentist and can't swallow. I really don't like dry mouth, so I had to work around that.

I also have a huge phobia about not being able to breath through my nose. I'm okay with the mask on, but at the very beginning when the instructor told us to breathe with the regulator and stick our heads in the water, that was a little freaky, and I did try breathing water once. The other issue with that, though, is my eyesight. Because I'm so blind, I have to wear glasses or contacts to see. Since I had my contacts in, I had to close my eyes in water. Maybe without my contacts, I could open them, and then breathing without the mask would be better. If I ever do this for real, though, I'd want to wear my contacts so that I can actually see (I can't imagine the cost of getting a prescription mask with my lack of vision). But if something happened on a dive and I lost my mask, I'd probably be in deep water, pun and no pun intended, with my contacts in. So that's a mental note I'll have to make for myself.

Finally, my mouth got a little sore from the regulator. My lips and the roof of my mouth seemed to be developing calluses, which were rather bothersome. But the instructor said that the mouthpieces can be changed, so I'm not too worried about that.

On the good side, though, it is fun to be able to breathe and sea underwater. Because I'm so blind, I've never really been able to see anything underwater at swimming pools, so this is definitely a chance to see again. I hate swimming pools, and without fish or reefs or coral or anything, it's pretty boring, but just going through certification so that I CAN see interesting stuff might be worth it. Certification from the place we went last night is 5 nights + 5 open water dives at Square Lake.

There's a lot of stuff to remember, but I do enjoy challenging myself to some extent. No final decision on whether to go the full extent yet, but it's definitely a possibility.

January 5, 2006

Mousie in the Housie

We dramatically caught one (hopefully the) of the mousies in our housie last night. We were in the dining room putting together a puzzle, when we heard noises from the kitchen. Since "noises" is code word for "dogs getting into trouble," we yelled at the dogs. Who promptly looked up from where they were sleeping quietly on the couches in the living room.

When the noises resumed, tismo sneaked into the kitchen and threw open the cupboard door (we know the mousies access this cupboard because all of our plastic bagged food items have ended up with little chew holes in them). Sure enough, little mousie had gotten himself trapped on the second shelf with no where to run. I grabbed a container we had gotten with take out chinese (one of the larger plastic soup containers), while tismo played hide & seek with mousie.

In a daring attempt to evade capture mousie leaped forward...right into the container. He nearly escaped while we tried to get the lid on, but ultimately he was sealed in. Cute little bugger, too. Tismo took him for a little drive to a nearby park for relocation, so we waved to him this morning on our way to work.

December 14, 2005

Blog? What's a Blog?

Wow. It's been some roller-coaster ride since my last post. Because we register our students individually in appointments (traditional college students can register online on their own--but not non-admitted grad students, as it turns out [story to come]), we've been working double-time to get everyone in for an appointment in a timely fashion. So, since November 28 when we returned from Thanksgiving in Vegas, the 3 full-time and 1 half-time advisers in my office have been seeing students for back-to-back-to-back 45 minute appointments. We've been averaging 10 a day per adviser (for a point of reference, when I worked in CLA, I usually only saw 6 students per day for 1/2 hour appointments--8 appts. would be considered VERY full). It hasn't helped much that I've moved the scheduling onto an electronic calendar that seems to have a nasty feature of not allowing you to search for appointments. So you can imagine the fun when students come in claiming to be scheduled, but not appearing anywhere and not being able to search other than going through each calendar on a individual appointment basis. Our IT office is working with us to see what we can do, but when we are so booked with appointments, it's hard to find the time to call them and work through things with them. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel...things will slow down a bit next week. Yay!

But, you say, work is busy for all of us, but we're still blogging! Now what's your excuse? Well, in addition to work, I've been dabbling in graduate coursework again. Yes, you heard that correctly. I'm taking a few classes in Scott's program, Higher Education Policy and Administration. Now that I'm actually an administrator, I thought it might be fun to play around in a practical area somewhat related to my career. Turns out that the class I took this semester was so good that I told the instructor it should be required for manager training sessions. The class itself was an introduction to organizational theory, with a slight emphasis on education. For the writing assignments I was frequently able to apply theoretical perspectives to situations I've encountered on the job. Next semester I'm registered for a class with Scott's adviser--that ought to be fun, especially since it's about student development theory, which I DO have a background in.

Okay, you say, I can see that you've had a few things going on, but you've had class all semester and still posted more often. What's your excuse for this last lapse (other than the fact you haven't had time to post during the day, which is normally when you have the opportunity)? Well, pretty much the same as everyone else right now. The Solstice Holidays. I've actually been working on making several gifts this year. I've moved my sewing machine into the sun-room in our house, and coupled with the early present of a portable DVD player from the spouse, I've been making things and watching movies. With the not-as-frequent-as-I'd-like trips to the dog park.

November 15, 2005

Music Bliss

I got my soundtracks for Firefly and Serenity yesterday. The Serenity one isn't nearly as cool as the music was in the movie, but Firefly's soundtrack is quickly becoming one of my new favorites!

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November 8, 2005

Judgment Free Zones

Fact: When you are helping someone else redo their kitchen, it defies the laws of nature to reserve judgement.

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When I helped mom put her kitchen back together after a remodel, we had to make a rule*: if you get something new and don't have space for it, you either have to return it or get rid of something else.


* This rule is in part from the contractor as well, who made me promise not to let mom bring "old" stuff back into the house. :-)

November 3, 2005

Yeah Autumn!

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Spring is my favorite time, but Autumn is right up there. I love the crisp weather after a sticky summer; the colors; leaves; sweaters.

October 26, 2005

Flow of Time

There's so much that I want to be doing right now. It's not that I've been super-busy, but just busy enough to make me feel irritable and rushed. Monday night was class, Tuesday night was all-you-can-eat sushi at Ichiban, Wednesday may be dinner with Scott's boss, Thursday I'm helping a friend with a car and an ex, Friday I'm already double-booked for two events, and Saturday is a halloween party.

Last weekend we cleaned out the garage and helped get our weight gym settled in a new home. Sunday was quiet, but I didn't appreciate it nearly enough, as it turns out.


  • I want to sew halloween decorations: I've got really cute halloween fabric for the front door curtains...I've had it for a year and haven't made them yet. Not only that, but the winter curtains from last year never even came down. Oops.

  • I want to make halloween and happy fall cards with my new stamp sets.

  • I want to continue reading All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot and watching the BBC production.

  • I want to go to Paper Source to get this stamp.

  • I want to spend every available light hour at the dog park with the kids.

  • I want to finish planting my spring bulbs.

  • I want to be working on my super-cool Christmas project for my family. (No posting here, because family has a habit of reading my blog.)

  • I want to continue working on my drawings and wood-block printing. I've got my very first print done, but haven't scanned or posted it yet. I've done a few drawings that haven't been posted, but I'm WAYYYY behind on Every Day Matters and Illustration Friday prompts.

And the discouraging thing is that I'm really not that busy all things considered. I just am interested in too many things, and really don't have enough time between after work and bed to do everything I want to. Can I retire now?

September 29, 2005

Sleeping Beauty

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We went to Sleeping Beauty at the Children's Theater last night. The theater wasn't very full when it started, but when they allowed late-comers to enter, people poured in.

The interpretation of the story was fairly standard, but well done. A few twists were Griff, the half man-half dragon product of a spell gone wrong by the good witch, Bronwen. He was Briar Rose's "imaginary" friend for her first 16 years, until Bronwen found a "real" friend for her in the form of Prince Owain the utterly useless 7th son of the 7th kingdom. Owain could also see Griff.

The script also called for fairies called Tyneth Teg, a mischievous lot focused on entrapping humans, a riddling spider king, and a dramatic sword-fight with the evil witch Modron at the end. As with all fairy tales, though, the primary characters can't escape without learning things about themselves and/or become better and more confident.

Definitely not a bad evening's entertainment.

Momentary foray into blogging

I've been neglecting my poor blog something horribly lately. I do have some art to post, just haven't necessarily gotten anything completed in time for Illustration Friday or Everyday Matters.

Part of my absence is sheer laziness; I have to draw the picture, scan it, adjust it in Photoshop, save it for the web, then actually post it. And then start on the next project.

Part of the problem is that I'm doing too many things (someone keeps saying that he encourages my creativity/craftiness but wishes I'd focus on one thing--I keep saying that focusing gets boring). I've done another woodblock carving of the same image as last time, but this one I think is a better carving...deeper cuts around the lines. I broke down and ordered a whole kit that has the ink, rice paste, papers, instructions, and some tools. I figure the more actual instruction I can get, the better I'll be, since I'm doing this as an ad hoc/learn as I go project. I have also mostly finished two knitting projects, have re-started one three or four times, and have another one on needles at the moment. A few sketches and paintings, and also one to get sent off to mom.

Then, there's just plain busy-ness. I know, who isn't these days? This is my first fall semester in my new job, so I'm learning how the office functions during school now. I've also decided to delve into the world of graduate school again ("what is she thinking?" you ask. "I'm not really sure," is the response). I'm taking a class in Higher Ed Policy and Administration, the same program tismo is in. The race is on: will I finish a master's before he finishes the doctorate?

Then, finally, there are the ever present personal issues. Helping (or harming) a friend with relationship problems, dealing with family problems. Much of what I would like to blog about I can't.

But I hope to get back into the swing of blogging more regularly (plus there really haven't been any interesting comics for a while....).

September 1, 2005

Politics of Movies

Always interesting when political movies come out; what's going on in the country at the time, why now, etc.

Here's the most recent one I've run across: good night and good luck about the opposition to McCarthyism. I particularly liked the timing of the line right before the title line: "How can we defend freedom abroad if we don't have it here at home?"

August 31, 2005

Journal Envy

I just found some of the most beautiful handmade leather bound creations: Handbound Leather Books by Martha Engeltjes. They're gorgeous, but mostly too pricey for my moderately extravagent budget. There is a fairly reasonable Lord of the Rings scrapbook, though, that she did as a custom order. I wish I had the knowledge (and the time, which is the bigger concern, since I can learn new techniques if I have the time) to do this kind of work. I love working with my hands, and feel rather incomplete in my office job because I can't really do anything. Just move papers and students from one place to the next. Big sigh.

boot envy

Love these boots from David Z in Manhattan....

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I made myself a pair of capri pants out of the white 2D-Zoo from Alexander Henry fabrics that would be a perfect match...um...almost.... At least the animal theme is right....

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August 24, 2005

Chestnut

You Are A Chestnut Tree


You are a born diplomat with a well developed sense of justice.

And even though you're impressive and intimidating, you're also fun to be around.

You can be irritated easily, and you sometimes act superior.

Nevertheless, you are sensitive of others' feelings and very loyal.

Sometimes you feel misunderstood and are fiercely close to those who know you best.

As with all "who are you" tests, not necessarily completely accurate, but I like the natural scope of this particular little horoscope. I would not say that I am a born diplomat, as I tend to say what's on my mind, and not often very diplomatically. The rest? Yeah, maybe, on a good day. :-)

August 19, 2005

Reason #8342 we're not having kids

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August 5, 2005

the sky is falling

Either that, or it's that dang ghost in the attic...

They're re-roofing my building right now. In and of itself, that's a good thing. No one wants to have a bad roof. The problem is that this morning they're in the attic directly above my office. They've been banging and thuding for a while so far (not the banging and pounding of nails, but more like dropping 50 pound bags of cement all through the attic or of very heavy chains being dragged and dropped). Every now and again I also get the smaller patter of dirt and plaster falling onto the ceiling of my office, as though if the drop ceiling weren't there, I would be getting a little dusty right now. It's just a little unnerving. The office's A/C unit is also up there, and I won't be shy about removing some heads if they damage that! At least it's a little cooler today than it has been, but still.

July 27, 2005

It's just gonna be one of those days

We've been on vacation, but more on that once the pictures are back (film!!). But today has started out a winner so far.

Tismo and I have gradually worked out a morning schedule, especially in terms of when the alarm goes off. The way it is supposed to work now is the alarm goes off at 6 am, and Tismo goes to the bathroom then feeds the dogs then gets in the shower. The thing is, I get to stay in bed [wake up] until mid-way through his shower. Since it's been so hot, I've been showering in the afternoon to cool down, which has really worked well.

But then there are days like today. The alarm dutifully goes off at 6 am, waking me out of one of those truly awful dreams that you know is a dream but can't do anything about. I roll over to discover Tismo is already up--this is a BAAADDD thing, because that means I have less time to "wake up." Plus, it's actually nice here right now, so I didn't shower yesterday afternoon, and need to this morning.

He comes in to dress and get the dogs, so I roll out of bed and stumble into the bathroom. Turning our shower on is a different adventure I won't detail here, but lets just say it's difficult in the best of times. The shower curtain liner is stuck to the side of the tub in a place it's not supposed to be, so I can't pull it over to the edge to seal that side without a struggle. Then, the minute I step into the shower and get the initial dampness, Tismo begins to run water over the dogs' food. Meaning the water in the shower stops almost completely until the other faucet is turned off.

Finally get showered, dressed, downstairs. Thinking Tismo won't be very far behind me, I gather the dogs and put them in their rooms. If this happens too early, Payton squeaks when he realizes we're still in the house. So I get to listen to squeaky dogs until Tismo is ready.

Now, one would like to think that the adventures of the morning are over at this point. We're both showered, dressed, the dogs are away, we're ready to go. But then there's the car.

It's developed this small problem of not necessarily liking to run smoothly, or at all. I tried to take the kids to church last night--pulled out of the garage, down the driveway, then pulled right back in as the car was acting up. But when I parked it, I angled it a little far over to the right side of the garage. So when Tismo backed out this morning, he smacked the right side mirror into the side of the garage, and we now drive one of those cars with the side mirror dangling and broken.

Which means seven years of bad luck. :-(

July 11, 2005

Ugly again

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This picture doesn't tell the whole story. It doesn't say that the high is supposed to be in the 90s today. It doesn't say that the humidity is 45% (which seems low, but trust me, is not). It doesn't say that this has been the weather for the past three days. And it doesn't say that my office had no working AC today. My boss's boss allowed us to leave early to beat the heat--it should be back by tomorrow morning. We'll see.

July 6, 2005

I won't grow up

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Went to see Peter Pan last night, with Cathy Rigby doing her final tour in the role. We had a lot of fun. Our seats were in the mezzanine level of the Ordway, and so far over that we weren't able to see one side of the stage. At the intermission, we were able to move, because the audience was surprisingly small. It was a little sad to see how few people were there. But we had a lot of fun, nonetheless. Peter Pan is probably one of my very favorite children's stories, and I also kept seeing the ideas from Finding Neverland popping up as well.

SoDak Retreat

We spent the weekend of July 4 out at our friends' lodge in South Dakota. I don't have the recent pictures developed yet, but here is an older picture of the area:

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You can see the lodge and the gazebo toward the center of the picture. We had a great time hiking, biking, swimming, lounging, hot-tubbing. A minimum of 12 people and 7 dogs stayed Saturday and Sunday nights, while more people came up for a picnic dinner on Sunday.

We went on a bike ride on Sunday morning that was supposed to be 5 miles. Because of the promise of a swimming hole, or at least a drinking hole, I let the dogs come with us. Well, the first watering hole was down a cliff side, which Andy kindly led the dogs to. It was pretty hot, and when we were not yet on the way back by mile 4.4, Andy decided to take pity on the poor puppies (Lando was also along for the journey) and cut the ride short. If we crossed a little field from the Mickleson Trail to the Mystic Road, we'd soon find another trail that would lead us back to the lodge. Or so the story goes. We ended up bike-hiking over mountains (true mountain biking) for another couple of miles. The dogs actually preferred to foresty areas, though. But boy, were they pooped for the rest of the day.

Payton took very well to the tent, which was another area we were concerned about. He's generally pretty skittish around new things which have the potential to be very scary, so I was afraid he might not do too well. But once he got over the initial fear of going in, he was just fine. He got a little chilly at night, so I shared my (mummy) sleeping bag with him...that was pretty funny, especially as I was able to cover him so completely that Scott couldn't even find him the next morning.

Payton even went wading without having to be encouraged! Remy, of course, went right in and swam around. One of our friends called her a river otter, which is a pretty appropriate name. He still hasn't gone swimming, but then, neither have I. That water was pretty darn chilly, so I just waded as well. But others went swimming; Kjetil jumped in first thing Sunday morning.

Even though it means 18-20 hours in the car round trip, the drive is well worth it. Thank you so much, Perry and Mely, for allowing us all to invade with our dogs.

June 29, 2005

So that's what it means

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It's a miracle, then, that I scored as well on the ACT as I did.

June 26, 2005

Present

I made a present for some friends out of these fabrics. I think I'm safe in revealing things here, because I don't know if they read my blog, and if they do, I don't think they'll know I'm referring to them. :-)

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The first fabric is a cotton Alexander Henry print. The other two are both flannels, but I'm not sure from whom.

kitty cards

A friend of mine from work has been out with a broken foot for the past week, and will be out at least until Wednesday next week. I was fortunate enough to get to see her this weekend, though. She has kitties, so I made a couple of cards for her:

This is the one I sent her last week before surgery:

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This is the one I brought her yesterday (it's based on a picture she has of her own Ivy kitty):

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Original Photograph

June 23, 2005

Ugly

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This is just ugly. Humidity is only (only, she says) 40% right now, but it was higher earlier. It was up to 86 degrees by 10 am, and it is just not cooling off. Tomorrow is supposed to be only in the high 80s (only, she says again). "She just canna take more of this, cap'n. She's gonna blow!"

June 8, 2005

memory lane

My dad just sent me this picture, with the email subject, "thought you might like this."

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This was part of the playground area from the first apartment building we lived in while we were in Berlin, on Argentinische Allee. I remember that we had some carrots growing in a little garden outside, and I remember being one of the last families to live in that particular building because they were moving everyone out so they could rennovate. I remember there weren't many kids, but I think Sarah was the only other girl in the two nearby buildings (my building would have been in front of us, and we shared the "yard" space with the building visible in the picture. The boy in the middle is probably Flip, another of the last of the children, and I don't remember the second boy at all.

I do remember that Sarah, Flip, and I, or sometimes just Flip and I, would go "raid" the playground across the street, because theirs was much cooler--they had a three-story wavy slide*. Wasn't I just cool when we moved into that building and it became my playground.

[*These were some of my friends after we moved: Isabel Netzaband, my best friend (German); Susie with a very Irish last name; girl-Erin (as opposed to boy-Aaron); and Nicole Hall, younger sister of the two oldest boys in the apartment building--they were French!]

I don't remember this picture being taken, but apparently I didn't have much respect for authority (or maybe it was just timing)...see my tongue sticking out? And also note how we were swinging (mom, actually don't look!). We were in a jumping-from-the-swing phase at that age, and apparently I was much braver then than I am now.

6/9/05 Addendum: This must have also been after they replaced the old swing set with the new one. The old set had a "baby" swing with the little straps and restraints. We always used to quarrel over who got the baby swing; for some reason, that was the most popular--Dog knows why! But I don't see the baby swing in this picture, and I have a vague memory of being put out when they replaced it.

May 26, 2005

Could'a been worse...

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the guy could have lost his head, which is what tends to happen when I feel threatened and start snapping.... ;-)

May 24, 2005

Orchestral Proof

While it could still technically be someone else, there is photographic evidence that I play in an orchestra.

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You can find more pictures of the event at the Coffman Union Campus Club website: http://www1.umn.edu/cclub/eventsHSOrch200505.htm

For those who don't know me as well, or who do know me but still have no clue where I am, I'm the inside violinist in the third picture.

May 10, 2005

Tax Day...A Little Late

Doing some cleaning up of the desktop. Since the website for "Rhymes with Orange" is two weeks after the strip runs in the paper, I'm always a little delayed. But it's still funny, especially since budgets are currently being decided at our legislature.

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I really wish I could earmark where my taxes go. But unfortunately, I tend to be in the minority on a lot of issues that are very important to me, so I'd probably be one of the few sending my money that way. But it's a nice thought.

Ride pictures

The MS society has a photographer at the event to take "official" pictures. Click on this link toKim Morris Photography and select Group B. We're in page 6, I believe. There's a shot of the two of us, then an individual of each. These pictures were early in the ride, so we're both able to smile at that point.

I might have to order a copy of my individual picture...I like the blooming tree in the background.

May 7, 2005

Ouch

Andy and I actually made it through the 60 mile MS Allianz 30/60 Bike Tour this morning. That's the most either of us has ever done, and, while I can't make any guarantees, that may be the most I will ever do.

The weather was more or less decent biking weather--cool and overcast. We left the starting point about 8 am, after planning to be there at 7:30 to register and get prepared. The first 20 miles or so, not easy, but doable. There was definitely some pretty countryside, and I shouldn't be allowed to ride a bike on a narrow lane because I got distracted by all of the cool birds, particularly the red-winged black-birds.

At around mile 22, however, we turned east, head on into a mighty gale. Ok, maybe it wasn't so mighty, but when you're going uphill on a bike, every little breeze hurts. Our average MPH went from 12 to 9. Ok, we only have about 5 miles in that wind before we turn again for the crosswind and next rest area. But at the turn south, the wind is a crosswind, but more in the headwind variety. Ok, so we only have a few miles of this before we turn west and get the tailwind. Yes! That one worked. Once we hit the next rest area (both #3 and #5 for anyone who was counting), we had to turn south again into the cross/headwind. And so we limped back to the finish, where they actually still had some people waiting to cheer us in. And we did faster on average than my other friend whom we bumped into at the finish who had done the 30 mile loop in between 3 and 4 hours as opposed to our 60 miles in 5 hours.

I did have my camera, but there wasn't enough at any given place for pictures. We saw some deer, and lots of birds. Several "egrons" or "hergrets," both white and blue, red-winged blackbirds, both male and female, swallows, geese, something very large soaring, blue jays, mallards and wood ducks, and probably many others which we couldn't name. That was our excuse for going slower on the last leg--we'd miss all the wildlife if we went faster.

One thing we didn't see, but almost stopped for, was the Land 'O Lakes Hunting Retriever Club dog trials. We passed their entrance point just before rest stop #3. We were slightly confused by the signs "Finished" and "Seasoned Water" out of context, but then it occurred to me that "seasoned water" did not mean adding something to a lake, but to a water dog who has had some experience. We could hear the rifles they used to launch the dummies, and every so often cheering and encouragement would waft over from the water. Next year, if the dtates overlap and if the wind is like it was, we might detour, hang out at the dog trials, then head back for a ride of around 40 miles instead.

We had a lot of fun, but I'm not sure my current aches are worth it. The 30 was good because we finished earlier with a little less pain. Let's just say it's a good thing I don't want to have children.

May 4, 2005

'swonderful

It's finally getting warm enough for me to ride my bike to work in the mornings again. I'm not nearly as hard-core as some of my friends are about biking and alternative transit, so I tend to wuss out on 20+ degree mornings on the bike.

And then there was the last time I rode my bike to work, on Wednesday, April 27. I'm going up the last hill before I get to work, and my shifter stops working. Fortunately, the gear it ended in was not a terrible gear (if you only get one), so I was able to take the bike to the shop in Dinkytown that afternoon.

"Your shifter is going bad," the guy says, "and the only options you have are to live with it or replace it."

"I'll replace it. I have a tour coming up on the 7th of May. Can you have it repaired by then?"

"As long as we have the parts. Let's see...yes, we have a shifter that will work."

"Great. Will this repair affect the brakes at all?"

"Hmm. It appears that your shifter and brake levers are integrated. That means we'll also have to put on new levers. But we don't normally stock cantilever brake levers."

So, I take the bike, go home, and get on the phone. First store I try, same thing. Have the shifters, not the levers. I get lucky on the second attempt; they have the levers, but not the shifters.

"Great. Can you hold them for me?"

"If you can get in this evening, they're yours."

Grab the husband and head to uptown at rush hour to pick up the levers. Three guys in the shop helping one customer, and not paying attention to the fact that there is someone else in the shop. When they do get to me, I'm obviously not talking to the same guy as on the phone, because he can't find the levers.

Ultimately, yes, the story ends well. Got the levers, headed back to the first shop that had the shifters. Not only does everything work, but they even have the bike done the next evening, Thursday, April 28. Plan to take it for a spin over the weekend to get used to the new set-up and make sure everything is fine before the 60-mile tour on the 7th.

Which leads back to the beginning of my story. It's finally warm enough to ride my bike. Everything's good, everything works, and it's beautiful riding weather now. 'Swonderful!

April 14, 2005

You know it's been one of those days

(or weeks) when you're talking to a friend about how much work she's doing tomorrow for her work's garage sale and how much time she's putting in both tomorrow and the next day, and you know exactly what she's talking about because you've recently had this conversation, but you're a day ahead and convinced that today is really Friday, not Thursday, and you really don't have to go in to work tomorrow (and to top it off, you even had Monday off--which may in part be the reason it's one of those days).

I spent a couple of hours at work on Sunday trying to get caught up--was pretty successful until they turned off the power in my building. The nerve of them to interrupt those of us who need to come in on weekends! Then I went in at 6 this morning and spent 2 hours this morning finishing that one small part of getting caught up. So now I'm only behind in today's file notes rather than file notes for the past 3 weeks.

But that's the only place I'm getting caught up. The more I do, the farther behind I get. They told me at book club the other day that I need a vacation because I was fantasizing about being home with a broken leg or in prison as ways of finding more time for myself and doing things like reading. And I just had a vacation a little over a month ago!

April 11, 2005

Small Talk

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This is SO me--still! I've never been good with conversation just for the sake of conversation.

Me: "Um, hi. How are you?"
someone else: "Good. How are you?"
M: "fine."

Then what? "How's the weather?" Well, it's raining, as we can all see. "How're the spouse and kids?" They're great. Really doing well.

I just don't like to talk if I don't have anything to say. This is probably the biggest reason I never call anyone. I can only say "Hi. What's up?" so many times before people start to think I'm crazier than they already do.

[Speaking of crazy, we saw a funny sign today. It was one of those yellow ___ xing signs. This one had a picture of a running dog and read, "Caution: Psychotic Dog Xing." Having two psychotic dogs of my own, I can fully understand the sentiment.]

March 30, 2005

An Experiment

I've been wearing glasses since the second grade. I strongly resisted until fifth grade, when I finally had to start wearing them full time because I couldn't pretend I could see anymore.

Then I went into contacts in ninth grade, after much begging and pleading. Because of mom's astigmatism, I went directly into gas perm lenses. Beautfiul, wonderful, not a problem.

Until I either a) turned 30, b) started working in a very dry office, c) all of the above. As many of my friends and family will know, I've worn my glasses quite frequently in recent months/years.

Just a little over a year ago, I went in for lasik. Take the exam that's supposed to measure corneal thickness, and then the doc says that my cornea isn't thick enough, so lasik isn't a possibility. Maybe in a couple of years, maybe. But don't hold my breath.

So now I'm trying day and night soft lenses. I've never worn soft lenses before, so putting them in and taking them out is interesting. But the best part at the moment is, I don't have to take them out. Really, I don't have to take them out for 30 days. My eyes have been fine, and I wake up being able to see (though I do need to use drops very first thing in the morning).

Ah, yes, but there's always a catch. The astigmatism in my right eye may be too bad for soft lenses to correct. My vision is technically 20/20, but the right eye is a little fuzzy. It's hard to describe, but the doc (different from the lasik docs) doesn't think there's much more we can do. He's concerned that if we make the prescription just a weensy bit stronger, it will do more harm in the long run by damaging my eyes some more. Like the kid who lies on the eye exam so he can wear glasses like his friends do (trust me--I was never that kid). But when your eyes are as bad as mine are, is that something I should really worry about? I mean, I'm always going to need some type of correction. Even if I had been able to have lasik, chances are I'd still need some type of correction, either reading glasses or very minor prescription glasses or contacts.

March 22, 2005

Scary

If you know me, you'll understand why tismo did a double-take when he saw this signature:

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March 15, 2005

Vacation in Paradise

More to come later, once I get my pictures back and find some time here or there to add pictures.

We spent last week in Sanibel, Florida, with our friends Andy and Becka. We shared a condo for a whole week and are not only still speaking to each other, but are still friends. Wow!

It was a wonderful trip--too wonderful. I'm really resenting being in Minnesota right now. If it weren't for the puppies, I might not have returned. Lori dog-sat for us for part of the week; we were coming up with a variety of scenarios to have her put them in a big packing crate and just shipping them to us. (Lori has a few comments on the experience on her site, but not many, as she knows I read her blog and probably doesn't want me to know the real story.... :-) ).

Sanibel and Captiva Islands are on the bay side of the Florida peninsula. Both were hit by Hurricane Charley in August 2004. Sanibel wasn't hit nearly as hard as Captiva, a situation which is clearly evident when we were there. The island of Captiva had been split by another storm in the earlier part of the 20th century, creating the islands of Captiva and North Captiva. In 2004, Charley created yet another island, "North North Captiva," as evidenced in this impact survey and as explained by our guide on our dolphin-watching cruise (more to come about the cruise).

Becka has some pictures up on her site (Andy borrowed the fancy digital camera from Adobe to play with on vacation), but I promise I'll get mine up. I'll probably have to do a powerpoint display of some variety--I took somewhere around 12 rolls of film on this trip, plus finishing other rolls. It was pretty spectacular.

February 9, 2005

Secret Mail Really Happens!

Last week, Scott and I arrived home to find a package on our doorstep. It came from Louise Peterson, about whom I've raved before. Inside the package was the most perfect, and most exquisite gift:

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This is the cast marble version Louise made of "Senior Moment," a memorial to her dane, Nandi.

But the gift had no explanation with it. None. The end of January was too late after Christmas for it to really be that, besides which, we had already received our family Christmas gifts. I couldn't think of anyone who would give me that for Valentine's day, since my husband denied any involvement, though he says that when he saw my face after I glimpsed the statue, he realized just how serious I was when I said I wanted this, and he was kind of regretting he hadn't gotten it for me first.

It only took about 3 days for the mystery to be solved. Apparently the card that was to explain "Senior Moment" was actually delivered to our neighbor, who didn't even see it in her mailbox right away. Turns out that my Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Rick had sent us late birthday presents.

Meet Gus the Platypus

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I've had World of Knitted Toys on my Amazon wishlist for some time now, and finally decided to break down and get the book. The book is broken into sections, with various animals and people that fit in that category. For example, "Forest Friends" has knit patterns for Canadian Mountie, Grizzly Bear,
Beaver, Raccoon, Chipmunk, Moose. "The Snowy Regions" has patterns for Eskimo, Husky Dog, Fish, Penguins, Seal, Walrus, Polar Bear. But the best section, in my opinion, is the "Australian Outback," with patterns for Australian Sheep Farmer, Merino Sheep, Koala, Kangaroo, Wombat, and . . . Duck-Billed Platypus.

If you have a book that has a pattern for a knitted platypus, I really don't see that there is much choice other than to make the platypus. Which I did. The directions are very simple, and putting the guy together was incredibly easy. There were increases and decreases, but everything is pretty much your standard knit and purl stitches.

You'll have to wait to really meet Gus until I have my film (*gasp* yes, film!) developed. (Front view Side view) But until then, enjoy this cute little image, courtesy of the Minnesota Daily, which one of my colleagues just happened to see on the very day I brought Gus into work for show and tell:

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February 7, 2005

Fiddlin' Around

Well, I finally took the plunge. I picked up the old violin and joined an orchestra last week. This is the first semester I've had in, oh, possibly 7 years, when I haven't been in graduate courses, teaching, and/or working on my dissertation. So I no longer had a good excuse when Andy told me that at his last rehearsal there were only 2 second violins and something like 6-8 firsts. (Nobody accepted my excuse that I'm taking an independent study biology course as good enough to get out of orchestra.)

So I was sitting in the orchestra, a little concerned because I was having some difficulty catching all the notes (I was doing ok, but definitely not up to my standards). Then it occurred to me: I was SIGHT READING! Of course I wasn't going to be able to play things the first time. At which point I started feeling better mentally, though my poor body is not used to 2 hour rehearsals anymore.

February 2, 2005

Yoga

The Mother Goose & Grimm strip below reminds me that my very favorite yoga video is now available on DVD.

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Total Yoga with Tracey Rich and Ganga White is a very nice, comprehensive workout. One of the things I particularly like about it is that it offers an aerobic component to a workout. Yoga isn't only about Omms.

January 18, 2005

Thanks Mom

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During my senior year of high school, I received a recruiting phone call from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. My scores on a national German language test had been high enough, that they thought I would be a good candidate for their German language immersion program. Students would live at the school's German village (Concordia runs some incredible summer language camps in northern Minnesota, and the architecture of the camp is designed in the style of that country) and complete the requirements for a German major in one year. Then, upon returning to the main campus, they would have three years to complete general education courses and any other majors they might be interested in.

Great idea, but I was the wrong person for the program. My mother knew this, but let me go along with the crazy scheme. I guess I was just so thrilled that someone actually wanted me. Besides--with German out of the way, I'd have more time to work on other languages to be a UN translator!

I hated it. The class at Bemidji was small--only 52 people--and we all shared 2 dorms + 2 administrative buildings. My RA was a nightmare, and one of the professors was boorish. I managed to stick it out for the semester (huge phone bills and massive amounts of anti-depressants were required), and then my mother drove up to Bemidji in a huge blizzard to pick me up and bring me back home.

----

Then there was the time I threw my knee out in Gillette, WY, and had to take the bus to Cheyenne--Mom was right there to pick me up again, pumpkin sized knee and all.

Thanks, Mom. I know I still don't listen to you, but I do know that you love me.

December 21, 2004

Bad Prezzies

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My step-grandmother used to do this to my husband. She and my grandfather actually did a lot of traveling, and she'd collect all of the little shampoos and conditioners and lotions and soaps from the various hotels where they stayed. Then, as a Christmas present, wrapped and everything, she'd give the whole collection to Scott. And that would be the entire Christmas present they'd give him.

He promptly discarded them the first chance he got.

December 13, 2004

I'm a Dr. and my husband is a devil

On Friday, December 10, I participated in the graduate school commencement ceremony. The last graduation I attended was my high school ceremony. I don't really have a good reason for not attending college, and I didn't feel right about attending my master's degree ceremony when I wasn't completely finished (add to the "if I had known then what I know now" file: it turns out this happens all the time). But I promised myself that I would walk through the Ph.D. ceremony if I actually completed the dang degree.

And I did both. I missed the application deadline by the time I realized in spring that I would be finished, so I decided to wait until fall. I finished revisions in June and had the diploma in mid-July. In November, I decided I should probably take some action and rent the robe--I bought my hood and tam for memorabilia. My uncle Dave and my mother both flew out from Salt Lake City and Denver, respectively, for the ceremony. And one of my professors, Edward Griffin, was able to attend as well.

Here is a picture of mom and me at the house before the ceremony (my gown zipper was being obnoxious and would not zip up):

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(Dave's camera was a cheapie that came with his laptop, and blowing up the images made them a little grainy)

Unfortunately, I didn't know the protocol for these types of things, so didn't think of inviting my professors until earlier last week. Fortunately, one of my professors really enjoys graduation ceremonies, and was able to attend to meet me at the other end of the stage. The other cool part of it was the person responsible for introducing the candidates prior to hooding was a former chair of the English department, and now associate dean of the graduate school. She gave me an extra little smile just after reading my name--mom and Dave noticed it as well.

This picture is from the reception, with Dr. Griffin congratulating me again. It was wonderful that he was there, and mom commented on how nice it was that he met us at the reception also:

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Finally, here is the picture that led to this entry's title. Red-eye seems to be a problem with us, and Scott's show up quite nicely here:

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November 18, 2004

Insanity

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Work is insane right now. I'm in a bad combination of boredom and holy-moses-stress with my job. For every one appointment I see, there are five to ten more students who also need to see me NOW! I'm really tired of telling every single child-who-is-supposed-to-be-an-adult that they don't have to major in science to go to med school, that they don't have to choose a bachelor of science over a bachelor of arts to go to pharmacy school, that knowing a second language is not only a good thing, but also a marketable skill, and that "I want to help people" is not going to get them into the nursing program.

I'm also really tired of seeing students day in and day out who have not made any effort yet to think about what classes they need for next semester. The freshman get a two semester guide during orientation, and the continuing students should already know this information. I can handle the ones who come in to confirm their selections, and ask about other opportunities, but the ones who have done nothing for themselves other than booking an appointment drive me crazy. "I need to know what to take next semester" is the phrase of the day--I just want to tell them, "Hell, if you haven't figured it out by now, you might as well drop out of school and work at fast food for the rest of your life."

But I won't. I'll smile kindly and ask them what they are thinking about and explain that they really need to continue with chemistry if they are considering medical school (even though they've already heard that 5 times by now) and that calculus-based physics really does require a knowledge of calculus and shouldn't be taken first. And then I'll dutifully help them figure out a reasonable and workable course load for the next semester, ask them if they have any more questions, then wish them well for the rest of the semester and remind them to email me if they think of something else later.

And then I'll go through the same routine with the next appointment, all the while my inner bitch is tearing her hair out in utter despair, wondering when it's all going to end.

And on top of all of that, my father is going to try to come out for the graduation ceremony. Mom and my uncle Dave will already be staying at the house with us, and I have no idea of how much time I'll need to allot to Dad that may take away from time with Mom and Dave.

Oh, and yes, I am fine, by the way. How are you?

October 31, 2004

Collecting all of my friends in one place

Ok, so most people in the world have multiple groups of friends, who may or may not know anything about the others. Once in a while, I feel that it is my duty to connect people of like interest.

For one thing, I just read Stacie's blog and discovered that another friend, allbeit less a friend of mine than her and John's, but a friend nonetheless, has also gotten onto the blog bandwagon: Chris Erickson's Edicts from Cattle Country. Stacie specifically referred to him as Dr. Qwert, but I don't see much personal info on his site. Since she and John know I'm homesick for Wyoming, they might have let me know he's now blogging.... ;-)

I've also been following my math geek friend's, Dan Drake, blog, Basic Stupidity. Dan not only adores Macs, but has also been doing a variety of geeky programming, posting with great detail in such a way that I think Andy would really enjoy being a geek with Dan.

How to Host a Murder

We attended our first "How to Host a Murder" party last night. We arrived at the party at the Castle Von Morgue, in Deadbot, Transylvania, held in honor of the engagement of Neville Aster-Night and Lizzie Bordeaux. Aside from me, Glumda, the Wicked Witch of DePressed, and Asthmadeus, the Prince of Dimness, the guests included Balihi, the Rogersandhammerstein Monster; the Mummy of King Aldrinktotat; Hannibal Schecter; Angela Deth, DDS; and Madame Aretha Garlique.

Imagine our surprise to find our host, Neville, dead; literally drained of all life-force, charrred, and missing his heart! His remains were identifiable only due to his dental records, held by Dr. Deth. Of course we were all considered suspects, but, as the first to be exonerated, I knew I had not done the foul deed.

Well, as it turns out, many of my fellow guests DID indeed have something to do with the murder. I won't go into the gory details, but the ultimate party responsible for poor Neville's death will pay the final price, as the deceased was not actually Neville. That sham clairvoyant, Madame Garlique stole a page from my spellbook, and switched bodies with Neville, himself. So the body that was found was that of Neville, but the soul it contained was Aretha's. Hmm, imagine what Neville will feel the first time he experiences certain female concerns....

A few more pictures can be seen at Madame Garlique's...ahem...Becka's webpage on her Halloween 2004 entry.

September 27, 2004

Don't mess with me

Apparently this is me this morning:

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I over-caffienated yesterday and ended up staying up until 12:30 because I simply couldn't sleep. Then Scott woke up earlier than the alarm this morning, and once he's up, there's usually no going back to bed for him.

Not too many issues until about 7:30, when I realize that I have the first scheduled 4-year planning meeting for new freshmen at 9:05 am. That means I have a little under an hour and a half to get everything prepared, including finding my notes which are in one of the piles on my desk, printing a list of attendees, making copies of the handout, going upstairs to get the laptop, then trying to see if the correct pages are book-marked, except that our offices use a different wireless network and I don't want to mess with anything for fear it might not work when I really need it, then finally preparing for the two appointments I cleverly scheduled after the planning meeting.

Things are going ok until I overhear one colleague asking the techno-phobe what she meant in a certain email covering walk-in hours. Turns out she had signed up to cover walk-in hours based on an email our coordinator sent out. Forgetting that we had discussed this on Friday, and the other 3 of us have already signed up on a printed copy to cover those hours.

Me, hesitantly: "Did you sign up for the one that was left?"
Her: "I'm not sure. Where's the sheet?"
Me, slightly cranky: "I don't know. I gave it to you on Friday. You had it last."
Her, confused: "Well, I don't know where it is. I hope I didn't mess anything up."
Me, really cranky: "I hope you didn't either."
Her, by way of explanation/excuse: "I just can't keep up with all of these changes and new things to keep track of."
Me, in my thoughts: "Even though the rest of us are managing...."

So, still planning for appointments, meetings, etc. We have a content management system that manages workshops, so we know who will be attending the session. She tries to get to it.

Her, confused: "I don't know what the website is."
Me, still annoyed: "It's the same site we've been using."
Her: "Yeah, but I haven't used it for so long."
Me, going back to said site to get the URL: "Ok, http:......... [long pause, waiting for her to catch up or say something] slash ....... [pause] slash ...... dot php."
Her, after quite a few seconds....: "Ok, I'm on the computer now. What was that URL?"
Me, really annoyed: "I was just on that page. [Pulling up a new window so I could leave the URL up rather than having to keep going back because something new was going to go wrong]. [Repeat URL]."
Her: "It's not working."
I get up and go over to her desk to see what she did wrong. Instead of http://...../...../....php like I said, she missed the second slash and entered dot.
Still not working, but the mistake was mine this time. I forgot the s at the end of http. So I say, "Oh, I'm sorry. It's https, not http." Whereupon she tries to type http://..../..../....php.https

Fortunately, our other colleague was helping her by then, which saved me from having to throttle her.

September 20, 2004

A trip back in time

Saturday was the appointed day for our annual expedition to the Renaissance Festival. This is one of the highlights of my summer, and one activity I will miss if we ever get to leave Minnesota. Come February or March, I start getting a hankering for a rotisserie grilled turkey leg that practically melts in your mouth...

Scott and I have attended for at least the last three (four?) years, and for the past two, we've gone with our good friends, Andy and Becka (yes, they are still speaking to us after the bathroom incident...). The Rahns have pictures from their digital camera, so I'll post when I finally get them. I made a fairy costume this year--I found some really pretty shimmery bluish-purplish fabric last October or November, and told Becka that I wanted that to be my costume this year. Next year I'll probably be a "green man" or some such thing--I bought a cool leather mask to wear next year. Maybe even for Halloween this year, if I can ever get some work done...

One of the most fun things about renfest is dog-watching--what, you thought I was going to say people???? Of course my favorite was the 1 1/2 year old black great dane girl, Chloe. I got Dane slobbered--and my dane lust has picked up to incredible levels. Scott will either have to let me get a Dane soon or be willing to have a house full of Dane paraphenalia. We also saw such canines as Scottish Deerhounds, min-pins, goldens, a pair of dalmatians and a pair of Shelties we saw twice, greyhounds (though we didn't see the Greyhound Rescue Society like we did last year), Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, fuzzy mutts, airedales (we actually saw two different dogs), border collies (not counting the sheepherding demonstration where the guy brought out his 6 or 7 dogs of various ages and training levels), a basset hound puppy that seriously needed to grow into its ears, dobies, rotties, and probably many more that I can't even remember now, not including the 4 little fuzzy white things (all together as a family, of course), two of which were riding in a wagon that had been made to look like a lion cage from a traveling circus from days of yore.

We were a little disappointed not to see as many costumes as we have in the past. Becka and I were commenting on how people in costumes were frequently better treated by the vendors, more of a comrades in arms kind of thing. When they notice it, children are particularly fascinated by my comrade, Moonbeam, a gryphon who rides on my shoulder. His fur and feathers are extremely soft, and he's very dignified when he looks at them. Two youngsters in particular were enchanted. The first was a little 4 or 5 year old named Aidan; he did not want me to leave--after I stood up to rejoin my companions, he kept trying to pet Moonbeam. The second was even more fun. She was about 7 or 8 and was with an older brother/friend of about 9-11. He told her to watch to see if Moonbeam moved. When he turned to look at them, her eyes turned as big as saucers, and her chin very nearly hit the ground.

September 13, 2004

Falling down on the job

time for a little comic relief....on the canine side

This woman clearly hasn't been to my house; all of my kids give hugs:

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And unfortunately, I'm afraid these little guys are right:

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When they notice it, my students tend to chuckle at this sign I have in my office: "Optimist: This is the best of all possible worlds. Pessimist: I'm afraid you're right." This is about how I feel about the political situation right now. I'm desperately afraid that Bush will win, legitimately this time. If that happens, look for One Day at at Time from Canada--I don't think I can take another four years of war and infringed civil rights.

September 8, 2004

We live in the house that Jack built

I'll add pictures when I finish the roll and get them developed.

It started as a simple paint job in the bathroom. That's all. But thank goodness for a 3-day weekend and friends who are willing to go above and beyond the "call of duty" (thank you so much again, Andy & Becka!!!). It ended up as a nearly complete bathroom remodel.

Thursday, September 2nd, evening. Bathroom wallpaper comes down and cleaning the walls begins. I can't believe we lasted 2 years with that bathroom. The wallpaper was a nice robin's-egg blue with little flowers on it. Not what I would have chosen, but not intolerable. Until you mix it with the tile on the floor: small squares and rectangles in lavender, brown, and off-white. Not a single color or style in common between the two of them. The part that most of us can't figure out is that either the tile or the wallpaper was in place first; WHO could have chosen the other?

The walls under the paper had been painted, though there had also been some obvious repairs in the past. Repairs to what? Who knows. At any rate, the walls are in more or less decent shape, so priming and painting will be a breeze. Then while we are waiting for paint to dry, the four of us can do our favorite "chores," playing Catan.

Friday, September 3, evening. Scott is going to get the paint and I'm going to finish cleaning the walls and taping fixtures and stuff. Then we're going to join Andy, Becka, and Lori at the Riverview Theater to see Harry Potter, which Scott has yet to see. At 6:50, Scott gets back from Home Depot...too late to get to the movie, but we can join them for ice cream afterward. Finish getting walls prepared so we can start when Andy & Becka come over in the morning.

Saturday, Spetember 4, 1pm. I come back from a haircut to hear Scott's voice from the bathroom, "Dude, we're [in big trouble]." The conversation leading up to this part was whether to move the toilet to paint behind it, or just leave it and try our best to reach it. The decision was made when Scott said, "Well, the toilet is a little unsteady; it already moves." Becka, who grew up around construction, and Andy, who has a very good construction background himself, immediately say, "Toilets aren't supposed to move." So Scott shows them how it moves 6 inches. They move the toilet to the middle of the bathroom, and examine the floor underneath.

The toilet may never have been bolted to the floor, and the bracket holding it in place is completely corroded. Ok, we'll replace the bracket and paint the walls. A little more work, but not too bad. Until we decide to examine the tiles/floor around the toilet. Turns out the tile is pretty badly buckled in some places. Not only that, but Andy pries some up to expose the rotting wood underneath. So if we replace the flooring there, how far out do we need to go? And since there's no way to match the tile again, should we just retile the whole floor? It's not that big, everything will match, and it will be fixed.

The four of us go back to Home Depot to get plumbing supplies for the toilet, new tile, and parts to fix the subfloor under the toilet--remember the rotting wood. Becka and I leave the boys at Home Depot and go back to start tearing out the tile.

Oh, fun. The tile was placed on top of linoleum which had been tarred onto the original wood floors. Becka and I spend at least an hour prying ooky black gunk off the floor. We don't make a lot of progress before the boys come home. We leave them to take over while we run to the Rahn's to pick up their sledgehammer--maybe breaking the tiles will make it easier. On our return, we find that they have decided to tear up the entire floor (all three layers) because even if we can get the tiles and linoleum up, the floor has been completely ruined by the tar which we would have to plane off in order to get a smooth surface. Out comes the vanity and up comes the floor--beautiful hardwood, 3/4" thick, old-style tongue-in-groove construction, all completely ruined.

Apparently what happened was the linoleum had been put down. At some point, the owners at the time realized the floor behind the toilet was getting wet, so they tried to repair it by pulling out the original wood floor construction--just around the toilet and under the vanity--and putting some plywood down. Then they laid the tile over everything--one experience with that tarred linoleum was enough for them.... That, however, treated the symptom and not the problem; water continued to get onto the floor (probably from running out of the tub during showers), causing the first repair to also rot.

But Andy is so cool. He consulted with Becka's father, an architect in Rapid City, and between those instructions and what he already knew, he helped us rebuild our floor from scratch. The boys laid some 1/2" plywood on the subfloor (which really wasn't as bad as it originally seemed--the "rotting wood" was actually bits of the nasty tarry ooze), with a perfect hole for the plumbing. Then they fit the 1/4" wunderboard (concrete with a kevlar net around it). Nothing is sealed, but at least there's a floor of some sort.

Sunday, September 5, 7:30 am. Scott and I go to McDonald's for breakfast, but more importantly, for bathrooms. I'm fairly lucky, because I can sleep through the night without having to get up. Not everyone is so fortunate, so not having a toilet in the house poses a small challenge.

. Go home to finish cleaning, taping, and priming the walls. Cleaning becomes quite the challenge--we have a lovely shop vac, but it's still set for slurping up water, not dust. Scott begins vacuuming the newly installed floor, but ends up mostly throwing dust all over the upstairs. We find the filter & get it installed, but there's still a nice layer of dust everywhere. Once that's clean, the windows are taped, all miscellaneous surfaces are taped that need it, we begin priming. We found a pretty nifty spray primer that is ready to be painted in 30 minutes--but when they say "use in a well-vented area," they really mean it. Even with the window open, the fan blowing, and another hall window open, we frequently run gasping out of the bathroom. I had sore lungs for a few hours afterwards from breathing that stuff.

Sunday, afternoon. Becka and I paint the walls and trim while the boys finish messing with the flooring, and go to Home Depot for more supplies and stuff. Then Scott and I go to Home Depot to find a new faucet for the bathroom sink, while Becka and Andy mix the concrete and begin cementing the wunderboard to the plywood. When that's done, we "screw like crazy every 6 inches" because Becka's father told us to. :-) (At least it wasn't all hard work....)

Sunday, 8 pm. Cementing the new tile begins. It needs 24 hours to set, so we can't do anything more, really, until about 8-9 pm Monday night.

Monday, September 6, morning. We go to McDonald's again for restrooms, and the Rahn's let us use their shower. Then Becka, Lori, and I go fabric shopping for some labor day sales--tile is still setting.

Monday, afternoon. The boys have gone to Home Depot to get some wood for trim around the bottom of the walls (there was tile, but it needed to come off to put in the new floor materials). Becka and I paint the trim and finish the door while the boys liquid gold the medicine cabinet and the vanity. Then we grab some bread and peanut butter and go back to the Rahn's to play some "chores," use the bathroom, have a late lunch.

Monday, evening. We return to our house to do some more cleaning, installing the new sink faucet, and other small items while we fidget while waiting to get to the floor to grout. Once we get the grout in, we have to wait for an hour, clean the floor, wait for another hour, and clean the floor again. Then it needs to set for another 24 or so hours. While waiting for the cleaning phases, we do some more "chores."

Tuesday, September 7, evening. Becka has put together a lasagna, and even baked a cake, which they bring over. The boys put in the vanity and the toilet (though another run to Home Depot is required because the toilet came in an open box which was missing parts). By 9:30, we again have a toilet and sink, the medicine cabinet has been lowered so that I can actually see into the mirror, and we have our bathroom back.

And it all started with a simple paint job. But now I feel confident enough that should we encounter this situation again, we can fix it. And I really like tiling--anyone have some fun projects to do????

September 2, 2004

Things I want

but probably can never have :-( :

"Senior Moment" by sculptor Louise Peterson (she says she can even personalize it a little--put on a dark patina and Caela's name--she lost her dane model for this sculpture right around the same time we lost Caela)

"Shake, Shake, Shake" also by Louise Peterson

Louise Peterson's larger than life-size "High Four" bronze ("High Four" from the back)

a cobra hood so students (and maybe spouses, for that matter) would know when not to mess with me... ;-)

August 26, 2004

Putting the cart before the horse

I've recently applied for two positions, one as a Writing Center Coordinator at Capella University in downtown Mpls, and the other as an adviser for the PIL program at the U of M's College of Continuing Ed, the same college Scott works in. I am an excellent candidate for both positions (I already have a second interview at Capella), and both positions offer a significant pay raise.

So I've been spending the last two weeks thinking about what job to take: keep the one I have, go to Capella, or go to CCE. I'm in a wonderful position of strength here, because even if I'm not offered either of the other two positions, I do really enjoy my job. I wasn't even looking for a new job, but these two opportunities were forwarded my way by well meaning friends and spouses.

So here's the dilemma (is it a trilemma since there are three options?):
1. The current position: Assistant Academic Adviser in the College of Liberal Arts
-- I enjoy working with undergraduate liberal arts students and have a firm belief in the value of an undergraduate liberal arts education
--the particular population of students I work with tend to be science/health science students who further my own personal interest in getting involved in pre-vetmed type courses; I'm actually considering a second undergraduate degree in biology or something similar
--I really like my boss and my coworkers; my particular office is a very supportive unit; upper management, however, is not at all supportive, and once I have moved up to Senior Academic Adviser, the opportunity for moving up stops
--CLA advisers are among the lowest paid Professional & Academic adviser positions on campus; opportunities for professional development (conference attendance, research leaves, teaching opportunities, etc) are severely limited; because of its position as the largest undergraduate college on campus (and because of its liberal arts nature), CLA is usually the campus "whipping boy" for concerns such as 4-year graduation rates, senior exit surveys, etc.

2. The CCE job: Associate Academic Adviser
--this position is an automatic promotion from assistant to associate adviser
--this position would probably entail a minimum of a $6,000 pay raise, quite possibly $8,000-$10,000
--CCE seems to support professional development opportunities for its advisers, and the opportunity to teach classes would be part of the job duties
--the students I would be working with are primarily adult learners who have had a significant amount of work experience that they are applying to a degree program; this could be an exciting (and probably more responsible) group of students to work with--I currently teach adult learners for the University of St. Francis, and find these students quite enjoyable
--because it handles outreach, non-traditional programs, and the like, CCE can be a difficult place to work in difficult budget years; Scott and the interview committee assure me that the college has made tremendous strides in budget planning, but I remain ever the pessimist
--this position is still on campus, which I like, and could possibly be more flexible in begin end times than my current job, meaning I could still come in early with Scott, but perhaps be allowed to leave earlier than I currently do

3. The Capella job: Writing Center Coordinator
--in a for-profit school that invests in its staff and is very education-oriented; not constrained by legislative budgets and is willing to put money behind initiatives
--not an advising position; this is both good and bad--I do enjoy advising, but I am getting a little tired of having to tell each new student the same thing I just told the previous one (however, because of Capella's committment to its staff, I could probably move into an advising position if this one doesn't work)
--the position is responsible for the online writing center; I would work with a team and wouldn't have to actually build the thing, but it would be my work, not a committee (I did something like this for the U student writing center that went nowhere because of budget/grant/politics/etc)
--travel opportunities: Capella learners attend week-long colloquia to interact with other students, professors, advisers, etc.; it's a conference-like environment; there would be seven of these per year, and they rotate around the country (there's one in Orlando after Christmas this year, and that session will be in Anaheim next); but do I want to be away from Scott, dogs, home for 7 weeks?
--a minimum of a $10,000 raise, which is really difficult to argue against
--opportunities and support for professional development--conferences, administrative growth, etc.
--an office in downtown Mpls: good? bad? different, at any rate; good discount on bus passes, but the buses are 3-4 blocks from my house and 3-4 blocks from the job--not necessarily fun in nasty weather
--not in a traditional brick & mortar university, so you lose some of the excitement that seeing students around campus can provide
--not at the U, meaning I'll have to change ALL of my doctors since I go to a student/staff only clinic

So you see what a difficult position I'm in. :-) You know, counting my chickens before they hatch, and all.... ;-)

Having just come from the CCE interview, that is forefront on my mind. At the moment, that's the direction I'm leaning. It seems like a good environment, I know several advisers there now, and I knew several people on the search committee, I'd still be on campus, and I'd make more money. But I don't know (read, didn't ask because I don't know how to do so tactfully...) the salary range, and Capella's minimum of $10,000 more, possibly $15,000 more than I make now is very, very persuasive. I have the second interview with Capella on Tuesday; if they offer me the position, I expect I'd probably know by the end of next week, the following at the earliest. The second interview for CCE would be in about a week and a half, with an offer being made in the second or third week of September.

I think I will be offered the Capella position: it's a unique enough place that people who might apply for writing center positions probably would apply to traditional schools (if they even knew about this job), and many people who might want to work for Capella may not be qualified for this particular position. And they've been very quick with interviews--it was a turn-around of 2 days to schedule the second interview. I'm guessing their applicant pool was not very large. I'm also likely to be offered a CCE position: there are two positions open, and the search committee is interviewing 14 people. I think my interview was very strong, and even without my own merits, my name is known by people in positions of power who can name-drop at appropriate moments.

It's nice to feel wanted. :-) And even if none of my chickens hatch or the horse just isn't strong enough to push the cart, well, I still have a job I enjoy.

August 24, 2004

Catching up is hard to do

when they actually make you work at your job. I didn't sign up to actually get stuff done! I'm supposed to be a lazy U employee who only has time to play on the computer....oh well.

Anyway, I've finally got pictures of the quillow fabrics and pattern up on the Scott's Quillow entry. I kept trying one of the thumbnail methods Andy suggested, but I think the file was still to big until I reduced it to about 25%. So I also included a link to the original pattern site. Someday (and don't hold your breath, because my CPR certification expired long ago) I hope to get a picture of the actual blanket up so you can see how I used the pattern. But at least this is the idea.

I also finally checked with the graduate school to see if I'm still eligible to walk through the ceremony in fall (I didn't go through the spring ceremony, because frankly I didn't expect to be finished...). I am, so if anyone would like to see me graduate, the date is December 10, 2004 (it's a Friday). My uncle Dave and my mother are flying out, which will be really fun.

This may possibly be the most boring entry yet, but at least I've got something new posted....

August 19, 2004

The Love of a Good Dog

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My mother called today to tell me that her 10 year old Newfie puppy, Shawnee, has lymphoma all throughout her system. Shawnee is only the third dog I've ever had as a puppy, and definitely one of the few dogs who stayed a puppy her entire life. Mom plans to take her camping in the mountains again next week, then probably say goodbye on the following Saturday. Shawnee and Caela were both born in 1994, and we'll have lost them both in 2004.

I went up to Casper, WY, with my mom, and my best friend, Kathy, to pick Shawnee up. She was the first pup we had gotten from a new Newfie breeder (the family we had gotten dogs to got out of the Newfoundland business to breed black labs for hunting). This is the same breeder who gave us Kodi, too. Kathy took this picture of us with puppy Shawnee at Joanne's house. As you can tell, newf pups (and dogs) do not photograph very well, but you get an idea. She was around 3 months at the time of the picture.

When we got home, the poor little thing was so confused by her new surroundings without mom or any siblings, that she chose the best place she could find to hide. The cooler in this picture is about the size of the little play-mate coolers that you see construction crews carrying their lunches in.... And here's a complimentary puppy picture, just for the "Awww" factor. :-)

Shawnee never was the best-looking Newfie, but boy, does she ever have the newf personality. She went through a growth spurt, going through the awkward teenage stage. Unfortunately, she never grew out of it.

The most recent picture I have of Shawnee is from our trip to Laramie in August, 2001. She really hasn't changed much since then, and is still just as sweet as ever. Here is what mom has to say about Shawnee's outlook on life right now: "I'm not sure how Lena will take the loss. She is very close to Shawnee. It's going to be a really rough two weeks, but I am so greatful I have the option to end her suffering and don't have to watch her suffer. The vet says she is in pain now, but hopefully the prednisone will ease that. Also, she isn't having trouble eating yet, and that is a good sign. And, she still perks up and gets excited to see me, has her waggy tail and wiggly body, and she still tries to play with Lena, so I think she will be all right for a couple of weeks, especially since the medication is suppose to help."

So wish us all well, and keep a spot in your hearts for a wiggly 10 year old Newfie puppy.

August 16, 2004

SoDak pix up

I'm finally getting around to posting my pictures from our trip to Slate Creek in July. My excuse is that seeing the pictures makes me homesick, so I haven't put them up yet. Anyone buying that one? ;-)

Here's a teaser, but for the rest of the pictures, you'll have to go to my original entry, Vacation in Paradise.

The view from the hill behind the lodge:

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August 11, 2004

Not happy

Apparently St. Olaf College is selling WCAL, the classical radio station we listen to, to MInnesota Public Radio.

There are several reasons this does not make me happy. First and foremost, we listen to WCAL (how long will this link last???) because it's the only classical music station in the mornings. MPR/NPR plays all sorts of funky stuff, which can be appealing to many people, but not to us, first thing in the morning.

A very close second (if not actually my FIRST reason), I love WCAL's announcers, and really don't care for MPR's, for the most part. There is something about their voices and announcements that I don't like, whereas WCAL's Steve Staruch, Melissa Ousley, and Bill Morelock are extremely good--Bill Morelock is a also semi-regular host of Performance Today, an NPR feature that is broadcast across the nation.

Third, one of the things I liked best about the Twin Cities was the fact that not only is there a classical station, but there were TWO classical stations to choose from. In an environment where pop and junk radio stations are competing against each other, new stations are always coming and going, it's nice to have a choice in the music I want to hear. If I don't like what's on one of the stations at any given time, I could just switch to the other. Now I guess I get to listen to MPR or MPR.

Not that I have anything against MPR per se, but I will miss having the option of not listening to it if I don't want to. And I really will miss Melissa, Steve, and Bill if they do not make the move to St. Paul.

August 9, 2004

Work to do, work to do

My mother says that I used to fly around the house chanting "work to do, work to do" after she'd say we couldn't do something because she had work to do. So, here is my web project list for sometime this week:

1. link my homepage to my blog
2. get the blog colors right, or at least something other than brown--I want to use the same color scheme as on my homepage
3. get an Amazon Associates link to work on either page or both, especially for Dan
4. figure out how to make Adobe products actually do what I want rather than sit there and wait for me to make yet another stupid move
5. post the 3-4 entries I have floating around in my mind

Happy Monday, everyone! At least it will be Tuesday or later when you read this (except for those of you who may still be up in the wee small hours of the night that exist past 9:30pm)

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August 5, 2004

On Autopilot

Ever have one of those mornings where you don't remember doing things? Apparently, I turned off the alarm and spoke to Scott this morning. Don't remember actually doing it. I also used conditioner in the shower. Don't remember actually doing it. Who knows what else I've done--I'm probably leading a completely different life somewhere and I'll miss out on all the fun because I DON'T REMEMBER DOING IT.

Argh.

August 2, 2004

State Quarters

I found my first 2004 state quarter today. Wouldn't you know it's Texas. Minnesota's quarter is supposed to be issued next year. If I remember correctly, the designs that were submitted to the treasury were actually ones I kind of liked. But that doesn't mean the treasury will follow those designs. So far, the Maine quarter has been my favorite...as is probably fairly obvious. I can't wait to see what Wyoming does....

It seems like the state quarters are harder to find now than when they were first issued. For a while I got one every time I got change from a vending machine. Now I still get them, but they aren't the most recent ones. I'm not a serious collector, meaning I don't require mint condition and one from Denver and Philadelphia, but I do hope to have a complete set one of these days.

July 31, 2004

Out of the reach of children

When Linda and my nephew, Aidan, were here, I really remembered how not child-proof our house is. But I honestly don't know how new parents can completely childproof a house. This particular comic reminds me of a story my mother tells about the time she and her next youngest brother got in trouble for stealing my grandmother's bridge candy, which had cleverly been hidden in the very top cupboard. It had to be either my mother or Rick because the two youngest boys, David and Chris, could never possibly get to it. Or at least that was the logic, until the day my grandmother discovered 1 1/2 (or so) year old Chris climbing up drawers and cupboard shelves and reaching around in the top cupboard for the bridge candy....

out of reach.jpg

The top cupboard in the Laramie house was also where my grandparents hid the Oreos. Yeah, they didn't last long, either.

SoDak Pix

I got my pictures from South Dakota today. Here's one of the group who went hiking on Saturday morning. What this picture doesn't show is the straight up and down hill we climbed just before we took this picture. One of the other pictures shows a little of the height, because it's looking down at John and Scott in the boat scaring away some fish. I'll post the rest of the pictures in the Vacation in Paradise entry once I have them scanned in.

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Andy and I are in the first row, Eric is behind us, Lori and Lily are behind Eric, and Charlotte is in the back. Mely (Andy's mother and our hostess) and Stacie are on the right side, as well as one of the dogs' rear end--that was either Bailey or Lando.

July 28, 2004

Dane Lust

I'm sitting at my computer looking at the images of Great Danes I have on the wall behind my monitor. There are some times when I really start missing my Caela--there is something completely unique about having a Great Dane around that the other two can't make up for.

Louise Peterson is a scuptor who clearly understands what Danes are. I have some of her cast stone pieces, but would love to have a bronze. Her most recent one, a memorial to her own Dane who recently passed away, will be just stunning. (So if anyone is looking for a really expensive gift for me, the piece I'd like is Senior Moment ;-) .) One of my other favorites is Shake, Shake, Shake, which serves the dual purpose of art and fountain.

I've also been frequenting some of the Great Dane rescue sites. One dog in particular has caught my eye--many of you have heard me talk about Fritz. He's currently at the Great Dane Foundation in Houston, TX, which is where we found Caela. The coordinator, Cathy (who was also there when we got Caela) says he's in "adoption pending" status, which is really good for him. (I'm trying to get photos uploaded, but having some difficulty. I'll get pictures up as soon as I can figure it out.)

Fritz facing camera
Fritz kisses
Side of Fritz

Now see, the beauty of this system is that I could go back and pretend that I'm not technologically semi-illiiterate. But I'm not gonna. But just take one more look at this face....how can anyone resist?

fritz2.jpg

When it rains, the humidity breaks

when you're in the West, that is. Fortunately, since my office is in a deep, dark, hole of a basement, I never get to see the pouring rain on the days I ride my bike to work. When I emerge again, blinking at the light of day, the rain has cleared up and it's safe to ride home. Until the humidity hits.

In Wyoming/western South Dakota, if there is any humidity build-up, it dissipates with the rain. This is a luxury westerners must forget about when they come to the midwest. If nothing else, the humidity actually gets WORSE after a rain storm.

Oh, am I complaining about the weather again? Some seem to think that some places in Ohio are worse, and I'm pretty sure my cousin Jessie would say that West Lafayette, IN, is even worse yet, but isn't there a point when it's all just plain bad? I mean, if it's 90 degrees with 80% humidity, is that really that much worse than 100 degrees with 80% humidity? ;-)

One of the best things about the Black Hills

is the lack of humidity. The temperature over the weekend was lovely, especially given that the temperatures in Minneapolis for the days preceeding our vacation were absolutely miserable. Check out Minneapolis's history on weatherunderground from July 19-July 22, 2004. Be sure to note the Max temps, dewpoints, and humidity levels....

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Fortunately it's not so bad right now, though we still have the A/C going because we're wimps when it comes to heat and humidity. Haven't seen as many swarming mosquitoes though, which is always a good thing.

July 27, 2004

Vacation in Paradise

We just got back yesterday from the Rahns' Garnet Lake Lodge on Slate Creek in the Black Hills (South Dakota). It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, even on days like Friday when it rained all day.

Here's a list of critters I saw:
chipmunks
mountain bluebirds
juncos
osprey diving for fish in the lake
bats
nighthawks
a turkey vulture
some large eagle-like bird
fish jumping in the lake (could have been trout, but also could have been the more obnoxious sucker-fish)
nuthatches
a beaver
a herd of excited cattle
baby grass snake Perry found under Lee & Faith's tent

And number one on the list of things I did not see:
mosquitoes

Andy, Scott, and I arrived at the lodge on Friday somewhere around noon. A very gentle but very steady rain was falling, and continued to fall until around 6 or 7 that evening. Andy, Scott, Mely, and I played a few rounds of Mexican Train dominoes while waiting for others to arrive. When John, Stacie, and Lando showed up, Andy, John, and I attempted to take Lando for a bike run to wear off some of his excess energy. At first he wouldn't really come with us at all--came part of the way, then turned tail up to the lodge. Andy went back up to grab a leash to see if we could run him that way. Several minutes later he came riding down the road with an invisible dog--Lando had wiggled out of his collar, so Andy just had the empty leash. I snapped a few pictures--hopefully they'll turn out.

On Saturday morning, Andy led a hike around the property. We made a circle, hitting some of the highlights of the landscape. There are some pretty great views and steep hills there. Down in the meadow we encountered the herd of curious cattle. They kept coming closer and closer until Andy shooed them away. The bull was a good two hands taller than the cows, and there were several biggish babies in the group. Cute, but cuter at a distance greater than 10 feet. After climbing up the steepest part of the property, we leveled out onto a forest service road between Redfern Mountain and "Redfern Jr." (Jr. was named by the Rahn boys), we went up Jr. a little way to the Eagle's Nest, an old tree fort the boys had built. On the way there, we passed a stand of dead and dying pines that had been infested by bark beetles. Perry said he'll probably organize a party to take down those trees when Andy and his brother Chris are visiting in a couple of weeks. Infested trees are quite striking, though, because they are a very distinct coppery color.

That afternoon I napped a little while most of the gang played volleyball and/or badminton. Good thing I did. Later that evening the hordes descended for a grilling party and bonfire. Because of the rain on Friday night, we were able to have bonfires and s'mores both Friday and Saturday. The stars were brilliant on Saturday and Sunday nights, even with the light of the half-moon.

Sunday was fairly lazy. Some of us went boating (Andy even managed to capsize his canoe), and some of us went swimming (unintentionally on Andy's part at first). We pulled out raft 2.0, which was much more troublesome than raft 1.0 last year. Some of the lashings broke, and others were simply non-existant, so determining which piece of the raft was stable at any given time was a challenge. Both John and I tried log rolling unsuccessfully (and no, we did not do so deliberately) as the board we were standing on came disconnected from the rest of the contruction. Andy might work on raft 2.1 while he's there in August to stablize it somewhat.

On Sunday afternoon/evening, Andy and I took a bike ride into Hill City where Scott and Mely picked us up after doing a little shopping for dinner. We went cross-country for a little while, then met up with a dirt road on forest service land. These parts of the ride were true mountain-biking experiences, especially the dirt road. It was basically downhill, but had many small "bump" uphills (if you were on a BMX or a bike with shocks, the little bumps would send you sailing). Then we met up with the George S. Mickelson Trail, a decomissioned railway that has been converted into a gorgeous trail for biking, hiking, horsebackriding. From this map, I believe the white section that says "Redfern Mtn" is the 160 acres of the Rahn property (it is a rectangle with the shortest sides on the top and bottom).

I'll post a picture or two as soon as I get my film developed (yes, some of us still use film in our cameras--I like to be surprised). I went through three rolls, and would have started a fourth if I had found it in my bag before halfway home.

Continue reading "Vacation in Paradise" »

July 20, 2004

The Story of My Life

Snoopy definitely understands why my great ideas from 3 am don't turn out so great when actually implemented. Does that mean I do my best thinking in the middle of the night and if I could put my ideas into practice then, they would be the works of genius?

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May 20, 2004

My turn

So I thought I'd get into the blog game myself. I've got a variety of cute pictures and cartoons and quotes and things I'm interested tucked in multiple spots, so this blog will mostly be my way of storing everything in the same place. Visitors and comments are always welcome.

If you do decide to return, the site may go through several phases. This is all very new to me, so figuring out how everything should look will be interesting and exciting.

For instance, this is really my second post, but being the order freak that I am (no comments from my husband--I do have my compulsive moments), I want my intro post to be first. So I figured out how to manipulate the dates so that this one is from sometime in May, even though the initial 5-6 posts on this page were all actually created on July 20, 2004. Isn't technology cool? :-)