Thursday, December 30, 2010

The end is nigh!

Well, end of 2010 anyway. It has been a pretty good year. Only one funeral, no economic disasters (only a minorish sewer problem), no pets died, no car accidents. Depression pretty much under control, weight going down, slowly, but down. A nice Christmas, too. May 2011 be as stress-free.

Today is the first day in several weeks above freezing, and the snow is for now, slushy and slick. Tomorrow the high is to be 50! hard to believe, but welcome, at least for now, although the ensuing mud won't be pretty. Maybe it will be somewhat windy, to dry the ground out. The horses haven't been out in weeks, these geriatric beasts don't need to break a bone when they cavort around after a long confinement, or slip and fall even. I feel sure that is what caused Blondie so much pain that she couldn't stand, and which ultimately caused her death. I'm not taking any chance of a repeat.

Blondie and me, ca 1995

My Christmas gifts were an eclectic mix. The "big" one is a brand new set of cookware (Calphalon). Our old pots and pans were wedding gifts, 40 years ago, and in dire need of replacement; but I never felt justified in getting a $$$ set since what we had worked at least. But what a difference! I may actually find myself in the kitchen more. The majority of the rest of my gifts is candle making stuff, beeswax and molds, which I am itching to try out. Maybe on Saturday.

That's all for now...

Bumper sticker of the day: "Warning: May contain nuts"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

All the shopping and present wrapping is DONE. One small thing I ordered has not come, but that's OK. We will be having lovely steaks for Christmas dinner, baked potato, and pie. Maybe dinner rolls. The best part about the menu? No all day cooking marathon, and no leftovers.

I mentioned the plumbers coming in my last post, and so here is the scoop on that.

The sewer pipe in the back yard had become crushed by the roots of an enormous ash tree. We took the tree down last year when it failed to leaf out (i.e., dead) but of course the roots were still there. These plumbers brought their pipe camera and showed N the mess in the line, explaining why every few months we have had to have the line snaked out. No one else had tried to look at the pipe.

Anyway, the only repair was to *DIG* down to tie into the broken line above the break (just as it leaves the house) and then dig a new path to get to the HAU unit (the digester). In the snow, not so bad; but of course the digging needed to be done under our deck; and under the part of the deck where a storage building lived. We had to empty the shed (into my dining room right now, lovely), then the excavator tore the railing off the deck so that we four could sliiide the shed off the deck and into the back yard (but it can't stay there, the ground is too sloped).

Then the excavator tore the rest of the deck off (took about 15 minutes to destroy what took weeks to make), then began to dig. Cut the water line (oops!). Got that fixed, and finally there was the sewer pipe. After that it went pretty fast, mainly making sure the run is downhill (where all good s**t flows). And finally, tearing out the stump of the offending tree, so NO MORE roots.

But the price for all this was (eap!) $5300.

Below are the image post mayhem.

The torn out decking:

The "Root" of the problem:

The lonely shed, cruelly shoved from its home on the deck:

And the scene of the crime:

The snow kind of hides the raw edges of the mess. What will we do with the backyard now? Wait until spring, or better yet, summer. And the dining room? oh well.

Bumper Sticker for the day: "Vaje de: The feeling that you're doing it wrong all over again"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nearly Christmas

Well, Christmas is still 14 days away. So I can safely procrastinate gift buying for at least another week. What would Christmas be without frantic trips to the mall on Christmas eve?

Now comes the dreaded task of wrapping presents. We don't have any bows on hand, because last year they were so tacky we pitched them all. But then I got to thinking, even nice bows are a waste; the cats chew on them until the are all spitty and punctured, if not carried away. So if we forgo the bows altogether, how much difference will it make? None. So, bare bones packages it is.

You would think that I am all bah-humbuggy about the jolly season, and you would be halfway right. If it were left up to me, there would be a Christmas tree, no outdoor decorations, and no inside decorations. I do decorate a great tree, but only on three sides, because who looks at the back side? It makes wrapping the garland a snap, because you only go back and forth, and not around and around, getting it all tangled. The tree is pre-lit, so that is the worst part already done. When I still had to do that, I would use many many strands as I wrapped it up and down each main branch, what a pain. My ultimate goal would be a tabletop tree that is completely decorated, I'd just pull it out of the box and plug it in. Done.

The weather here has been bitterly cold for these parts, down in the low teens at night, night after night. The horses are all rugged up in their winter woolies and Willie has been moved to another stall until we can deal with the water leak under one corner of his old stall from the barn sink drain line. It isn't a problem for the dogs, who now can go in there, as they don't weigh 1000 lbs and stand in that spot all the time, mashing the mat underfoot. Pets are so much fun in the winter.

The plumbers are arriving momentarily (you don't want to know) and so I will leave this for now.

Bumper sticker for today: "Time flies when you're totally bewildered."

Monday, November 22, 2010

I hate signing in

I had no idea it has been this long since I last posted. I can't really tell you the reason, because there isn't one. Chalk it up to getting old. Or maybe to the damned Google sign-in here on Blog Explosion, which seems to hate me in return.

I have kept a list going of all the tasks or projects that I am procrastinating on, and it is sadly too long. It includes simple things like "water the plants" which now I come to think of it will cure itself eventually. I have often found that some jobs, like filing paperwork, becomes far lighter if I procrastinate long enough that the papers are no longer relevant, thanks to expiration. An example would be the little proofs of car insurance cards, which expire every 6 months. Sure one copy needs to be kept in the car, which I do keep up with, but the other copy eventually passes 6 months in the "to be filed" cubby and thus is useless. Alas, a similar result with something like "vacuum the stairs" does not happen, the dusty bits just get larger and larger until they become a living organism that climbs upward and bumps around in the kitchen until it gets under the refrigerator. I'm pretty sure this is true; how else would the kitchen floor get so fuzzy? Think about it...

We got the restored photo of grandma back from the lady in North Carolina. If you read this blog (unlikely though that is) regularly, you will recall that we drove to NC several months back (see below, in August) and left the bubble glass photo with the only person capable of doing this restoration and providing the convex glass to cover it. Our glass was intact, but badly scratched on the outside from being propped against the wall in the attic, I guess. A picture of the restored photo is here:

The original photo went back to my uncle, from whom we got it in the first place, and we got a lovely 10 X 14 copy of it, far easier to store or display. She was lovely, don't you think? She was born in 1888, and I would guess she is 18 to 20 years old in the portrait.

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away, and I think we are set for the menu. For that one day I will skip the point counting, but only for that day; at the end everything gets pitched (unless the kids want it), except for the turkey itself, which I like to make a turkey casserole. That way there is no temptation to make the holiday last the entire weekend!

I miss not having the entire clan over for the weekend, but the cousins are all over the country, and all the "old" folks of the previous generation have died, one by one, over the last decade. Hard to realize they aren't just busy elsewhere, but truly gone. Turkey day from used-to-be 18 to 4 guests now...

Come the new year, I am giving up using my Palm Pilot Life drive for a back to basic written organizer. I haven't been using the Palm much since I retired, and have missed several appointments because I don't check it like I used to when I worked;
the written one will allow me to scribble notes without fumbling for the proper screen. This is a reminder of how my life has been simplified, that I no longer have to shuffle work, family and me-time anymore. And a change in music listening time as well, since I no longer listen to my songs during a now-vanished commute. I never thought about these changes when I contemplated retirement, trivial ones but significant in their own way.

Raven is doing well after her $$$ surgery on her ACL. A few days ago we had a hellacious wind storm at night that must have really roared in the barn, and that morning Raven was three legged. We figure the dogs paced and stood up on their hind legs. A couple of dog meds eased her back to non-gimpy status within a couple of days, TG.

Bumper Sticker of the day: "Whatever happens to you, it will previously have happened to everyone else you know, only more so." (Kinda long sticker, isn't it?)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sooner or later

I get so impatient when I have to wait. This week has been quite tiresome that way. We had to wait over an hour at the vet's, although there didn't seem to be any great emergency. The walls there are thin, you can hear every word said in the treatment rooms; one guy had just gotten a ferret and hadn't a clue as to how to take care of it -- not food, not handling, why did it throw up (hairballs), is this normal, etc.etc. ad nauseum. We eventually got to see the vet, and find out that Cookie, the black and white cat, who is sneezy also has an irritation on her butt where she is licking all the fur off.. Antibiotics twice a day for a week, this for a cat that doesn't like to be picked up.

I'm also having to wait for the portrait of Grandma, we have once again been promised that it will ship next week. But what are we to do? The lady is the very last who can do this work on convex photos (this one is circa 1900), and from what we saw in her studio, she is an artist at repairing these images. Waiting again.

My mink fur throw is still to be finished, the furrier (is that a real word?) is waiting on the silk for the lining. Once again there is nothing I can do -- he has the coat all cut and sewn into a rectangle as big as possible, so I wait again.

My hard drive on this MacBook died this week. We took it to Best Buy who promptly put in a new 500 Gb drive (the original was a tawdry 80 Gb). To load the operating system would have cost another $148, but I said I could do it myself. AFter all, how hard could it be? I went online and googled "macbook new drive OS install" and soon found step by step instructions. It wasn't without a few false starts, but I did get it up and running. I am so glad that I had backed up my photos, all 827 of them, onto DVDs, just three days before. Tomorrow I will put them back in; I have already put them on the desktop HP as well.

There remains one job to do, and that is loading Parallels and then Family Tree maker. Parallels is a program that carves out a portion of the hard drive and installs Win XP (for me) as a parallel OS, on a virtual hard drive. Then you can install programs that can only operate under Windows, to wit, Family Tree maker. There are better genealogy programs, but my files are organized a certain way and I'd hate to have to manually restore all 3000+ ancestors. Also fortunately, I have the habit of backing up that file every time I use it, to the desktop and onto a flash drive.

My candle making a going well (i.e. keeping me interested). I have been trying out samples of scents from three different suppliers, some of them for truly strange odors. I am trying to get not only food related scents, but also herbal, or scents like aftershaves, or leather, or clean linen or sunny day, or tropical beach and sand. It hac been interesting. One of the suppliers had listed all the top notes, middle notes and ending notes for their scents, but my nose just says, Oh, maybe that's raspberries. Not a _____ I forget the word for someone with exceptional smell abilities. Some like onomatopea, but that's not it. One scent I am especially fond of is Jade East. That is a cologne N used to wear when we were dating (not made for years and years now) and it brings back those sex-laden times instantly. Funny how smells can trigger memory. That one is for sure a keeper.

I've also been making potholders (you know I must be bored, right? Or going through a delayed childhood) on one of those square pegged hand looms. But instead of the metal ones that yield a potholder the size of a coaster, this is a bigger wooden loom and is woven with cord (I use macrame) and yields a potholder obout 8-9 inches square. Too pretty to use, the family says, but good lord, they're potholders not works of art. I'm using colors that match the bright colors of the Fiesta ware. This pleases me, a simple thing. Now my fingers are sore and I am taking a break for a while. Hopefully this won't be one of those hobbies I do for weeks or months and then abandon; I have been know to do that, but more usually I just set them aside, to be picked up again later.

And what I really want is my daughter's bedroom. I could move all my craft stuff in there, and not have to put one thing away to have space to get to another. WHY can't I have empty nest syndrome? I mean my god, she's 30!

Time to try to sleep some more so I'm off.

Bumper sticker for the day: "A turkey with a Ph.D. is still a turkey."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

anchors aWeigh

My Weight watchers "diet" is going very well. After 8 weeks I have lost 14.5 pounds, not shabby at all. Once I hit 20 pounds I'll try on some of my too-small jeans; I love it, I can shop in my own closet.

These lovely days of autumn are my favorite time of year. Once winter arrives it will be all gray and overcast all the time, but for now the sky is glorious. No fall colors yet, that will happen after the frosts, but it's all too ephemeral. Maybe that is why it seems so special.

The convex portrait of my grandmother is not ready yet after its restoration and copying, but the couple who is doing it assures me it will be shipped this week. The lady said she has been showing it to everyone because Grandma looks so lovely. It is still a mystery to me why the portrait was made at all, it has to have cost a pretty penny at the time. And also odd is that I never saw it after all the summers we went to her house. Why would you not hang it? My uncle says it lived in the attic. I don't think my grandmother had a very good marriage. Granddad was a randy guy, and I would guess a tyrant at home as well. When I was in my teens he became far too "huggy" but according to one of my cousins that was the least of his tendencies. Grandma deserved better, I think, she worked herself to the bone, like many farm wives, cooking and sewing and raising 5 kids. When she was married she (and Granddad too) was a school teacher, and I wonder if she missed it. Maybe that is something she would not have talked about to a granddaughter, but I wish I had tried to get to know her as a person. But like most kids I was self centered and to me at the time she was just an old lady (younger than I am now!). She was 98 when she died, long after Granddad was gone; she lived with my aunt right until the end, and although I didn't see her often, I have one photo of her holding my baby daughter that I am very glad I took. If I can find my copy I will post it here.

I am rambling more than usual in this post, so I think I'll call it done for now.

Bumper sticker for the day ' A Freudian slip is when you say one thing and mean your mother."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Manic Monday

Yes, I do realize that today is Thursday, but that's because Monday was too crazy to write about it then. SO:

Monday afternoon Norm fell down the stairs at our home, gaining a concussion and a battered, but not broken, arm. The time between calling 911 and getting in the ambulance was approximately two eons or so. N was making no sense, couldn't remember anything from that morning and asking the same questions over and over (why was I going downstairs? How did I fall? etc.)/ It was spooky; all I could think about was how my sister, 6 years ago, fell on an icy sidewalk and hit her head; at the ER they did a CAT scan and found bleeding in her brain; 2 surgeries later she died, having never regained consciousness. Not a happy thought, eh? But N was incredibly lucky, that falling than far upside down and on his back, he only cut his head (LOTS of blood) and bent his left arm. Huge hematoma and grossly swollen, but only cracked. No cast. 6 hours later, back at home. The people in the ER were terrific, although very busy, they kept us informed and moved us along as quickly as possible. Just a note: if you have to go to the ER, the best way is to arrive is in an ambulance (if warranted), eliminating all the torture of the waiting room + triage. N was himself by the time we went home, tracking all OK.

Not coincidentally I got to ride up front in the ambulance, lights and siren. It is totally amazing how stupid drivers are about getting out of the way of emergency vehicles. At one intersection, a man looked our way, and THEN pulled out in front of us. And you know how you always say, Damn I wish there were a cop around? Well there WAS. The statey flipped his lights on and caught the guy before we were clear of the intersection. I understand it is a huge fine... and deserved.

Bumper sticker for the day: "So many stupid people, so few comets"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I shouldn't have mentioned a new template, because my code is very sensitive, cries easily then pouts, sorta like my daughter (joke!). Because my hit counter vanished and now hooks up to another web site. How this happens is a complete mystery, but I found another hit counter and you can see it over there--->
I had to guess at the starting number, so I probably show too many hits, but who cares, right?

Here's a rare picture of a two headed 8 legged horse:

Bumper sticker for the day: "Watch out - whatever hits the fan will not be distributed evenly"

thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Sitting here at 6 am trying to stay awake until the latest nightmare fades. Or maybe since it is morning it should be daymares?

I am into making candles, some 20 years after candles were the craze, one saw them for sale everywhere by crafts people, remember the carved ones that looked like Russian cathedrals? I could never bring myself to buy one, knowing they were far too pretty to burn, and now I wish I had one, so I could study how they were made. Isn't it weird, how we "save" good things so as not to mess them up or use them up? Like my good china and the sterling flatware, and who will ever use them then? Silly. Still I keep them behind china closet doors.

The candle thing is new for me, but so far I am enjoying it immensely. I burn a lot of candles, and the purchased ones are either very well made (like Yankee candles) and too expensive for something to burn up, or cheap but poorly made, where they burn down the center and eventually drown the wick. They smell good in the jar, but don't throw scent very well as they burn. Surely I can do better? Except that to get good homemade ones I spend more than the good ones would cost me. Ah well, it's the doing of the thing I enjoy. I can't (so far) bring myself to burn them (see above) yet, I will soon, can't really tell how good they may be without burning them. Currently trying to use up the purchased half burnt ones, one to get the jar to use, and two so I have place to put the new ones. If I ever get stocked up I'm going to go to a flea market and see if I can sell some. Like the old days, only plainer.

Does anyone know of a good blog template designer? I want a new look here, but the last time I did it myself I lost a bunch of formatting without a clue as to how to fix things. Always save the original version...

Bumper sticker for the day: "Remember - pillage then burn"

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Throw throw throw your coat

The folks who buy used furs didn't want mine as it is too old. So I found a furrier who will make it into a throw, about 3 feet by 4 feet. I'm thinking this will be a great thing to cuddle under, and more usable than the coat. Also, they will be returning the leftover fur, should I want to have a teddy bear made later. And pretty reasonable price too.

The fish story continues, I have been to all three of the local pet shops and none of them have any largish fish for sale, like around an inch or one and a half. Drat. So I got some wee tiny catfish and red tailed sharks, put them in the tank, and haven't seen more than one since. My hope is they are all there, but taking turns swimming in the front of the tank ;-).

Insomnia is once again plaguing me, and I spend countless hours trying to get from pleasantly sleepy to being actually asleep. Why do all the 'script types leave me groggy and grumpy (a miserable combo) the next day? I hate them all, and find the commercials for them irritating too. Grumpy.

It is too late (or early, i.e. 1:30 am) to be clever and I will sign this off. Maybe I will edit more in this post later, who knows?

Bumper sticker of the day: "Come to the dark side (we have cookies)."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Furry daze

I have a fur coat that I bought on ebay around 5 years ago. Yes yes I know, furs aren't pc. But this fur originated in the 50s I think, and it is not likely to cause jealousy in a viewer (to own one themselves) since I have only worn it once, to the grocery store and didn't I get some looks. Anyway, here am I with a coat I never wear, so I looked online and found a place that buys old furs. I also found links to sites that will let you transform your fur coat into a teddy bear, or a fur throw, but doing that only changes the place I would have to store it. You know, cats and all. So the sale is the way to go if possible. I needed to send along a photo of the coat, front, back, and under the lining, which I did. Now I wait for a response. If the buying site approves, I'll send the coat off for an actual bid. So, I got the coat out of storage, and oh, I remember why I love furs, it felt so luxurious, and so soft, like a horse"s nose (??). I wanted to wrap it around me and snuggle in front of the fireplace. Wrapping would be my only choice, since it is now too small to wear! Here is a photo of it:

The photo doesn't do it justice.

I'll update the information when I know more.

Does anyone know what kind of tropical fish would be good to add to a tank with large gouramis and a huge pleco? All the ones at the shops are so small, in this 35 gallon tank, I'm afraid they will be eaten by th grummys. Here is a photo of two of the fish I have:

Don't they look cute?

Oh, in addition to being fairly large, I'd like it if I don't have to mortgage the house to afford them Has anyone used the online places that ship fish?

It is currently 2 am so I'm off to sleep I hope.

Bumper sticker of the day: "I'll try to be nicer if you'll try to be smarter"

Monday, August 23, 2010

Equal opportunity

I can never think of a good title for the post post, so I'm going with random phrases now. Just so you know.

I recently read a nifty post from Hyperbole and a half in which she talks about how dumb her dog is. She details several exercises to determine how smart your dog is. Or isn't. So I tried them on Raven yesterday, and here are the results:

1.) Wait until your dog is otherwise occupied, and call out random words in the same voice as you call its name. It should ignore you; then you call its actual name, and it should respond. Result: Ignored all words AND name, paid attention only when treat bag is crinkled.

2.) Place blanket over dog and see how long it takes to get out. Result: Began shredding blanket, causing me to remove same. Blanket now smells bad.

3.) While dog watches, place treat under an inverted cup and see if dog can figure out how to get to the treat (i.e., knock cup over). Result: Ignored cup in favor of going directly to treat bag.

Conclusion: The dog is smarter than the guy who invented these tests. And me too.

Bumper sticker of the day: "I like naps"

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Anchors a-weigh

I have joined Weight Watchers as of Friday. I think what I really need is something like wiring my jaws together, but since that isn't an option unless you break a jaw, I'll have to do this the conventional way. I won't bore you with a week-by-recount, but I will probably give myself kudos as time goes on and I actually lose significant weight. I mean, where else will I have an outlet like this??

Today I got a new Kindle from a lady who couldn't use hers for what she wanted, namely Bible study. I had to fiddle with it for a while to figure out how to do a reset, to my Amazon account instead of hers, but once done, I downloaded a book (I have been looking for) tonight in about 2 minutes, so cool. Now when I am bored and can't find anything to read, the sky is the limit, with immediate gratification. AND here is the best part -- NO extra books in the house that have to go in my ABEbooks inventory and all the storage, shipping, etc., that entails. If they had come out with this say, 35 years ago, our house would be half as full as it is now. 4,000 books take us considerable space, especially when you are trying to maintain a workable place where I can find any given book. If I can get the rare and expensive ones sold, I'll donate the rest to the local library, who surely doesn't want them either, but oh well.

We went to the cemetery today and replaced the flowers with some lovely gold mums and yellow gerber daisies. They should stay nice until late fall, when the evergreens go back in. I don't really mind doing this, it's just that 90 minute drive each way that gets me. N was going to go by himself, but I guilted myself into going too, if only to keep him company on the drive. Traffic was bad, and I took Xanax twice to keep from pushing my right foot through the floorboards -- no brake pedal on the right side, don't you know.

I haven't bought/won anything online for quite a while, but just lately I have given myself over to the dark side --- the retail therapy known as ebay, to get a few minor things. Right now I'm waiting on a pair of slippers -- I wear slippers out in next to no time, and while my current pair was new in June, I like to have a replacement pair ready for the day when They become altogether too down-trodden for me. Nothing like squashy new pink slippers on my tired old feet to give me a lift. And a cheap lift, at that.

Right now there are two loud cats crying in their high squeaky voice to let me know they want in the bedroom, but no way -- they play chase-me-chase-you all night long. I'll post their photos below:


Bumper sticker of the day: "Never test the depth of the water with both feet"

Thursday, August 05, 2010

convex photos

Two weeks ago, we drove to Charlotte NC where there is a lady who can restore a "bubble" portrait. These are photos, mostly taken in the early 1900s, which were then pressed into a convex shape directly against a piece of convex /bubble glass, to give it a 3=D effect, I guess. They are fairly common here in WV, but I don't know how popular they were elsewhere. I do know the lady who is repairing ours said that she gets these photos shipped to her from all around the world, and from the appearance in her shop I'd have to agree. The rare part, she said, is the glass piece; there is only 1 manufacturer of it and if you break one you are in for an expensive and lengthly search for a replacement.

Bumper sticker of the day: "If you knew my family you'd understand"

Monday, August 02, 2010

Horse, of course

I can't recall if I have posted photos of my two horses recently, so I decided to do so here.

This is Willie, a bay gelding, about 19 years old

And this is Maybe, overo Paint mare, about 17 years old

They are brother and sister, but Maybe is WAAY smarter than Willie. This is how I know:

One day the horses were in Field "A", where there is a gate that lets them into "barn" area. But that gate is closed, (and I didn't want to open it because of a problem with the latch), and they are standing there (see the two horses?) in front of it. So in order for them to get to the barn, they needed to go from field A into field B, and then into the barn area through the open gate right next to where they are standing. Maybe figured it out right away -- the intuition that to get where she wanted to go (in the barn) she had to MOVE AWAY and then come back on the other side of the fence. But poor Willie, despite WATCHING Maybe do this, and get into the barn with her grain, he still can't figure it out, and he stands at the closed gate, screaming for Maybe to come back. I finally had to get a rope, go along the fence to the A>>B gate, and lead Willie back to the barn. Sheesh.

Anyway, that's all I've got for today, thanks for reading.

Bumper sticker of the day: "I like my minions spineless"

Monday, July 26, 2010

busy busy

These last few weeks have been uncharacteristically busy. In June , the hub and I went on a one week cruise to new England and Canada, starting in Boston and ending in Montreal. It was great, the weather was cool, with one excursion being uncomfortably cold and wet, I found neat things to buy, but not over budget (well under), the people were friendly, it was a part of the country I had never seen. I know the cruises and their excursions are planned to gloss over any non-promoting sights, but even so, we saw much that was one-of-a-kind. I could do a vacation by car to check out places more thoroughly. There was a slight feeling of desperation at several of the places we visited, the economy downturn has had an unhappy effect on the tourist $$ coming in. But!

The house of Anne of Green Gables has green gables, plus a lovely old barn (I favor barns over houses, especially ones that still show their animal side.) The gift shop was crammed, and I couldn't even get near the shelves where all the books were for sale. I had hoped to buy a copy there of the first book, since I've never read them -- yes yes I know-- but guess I'll have to go to Amazon for this.

We won't be going back to Montreal. In Quebec City, the population makes an effort to be bilingual, but in Montreal, you are a second class citizen if you only speak English . There was some problem at Canadian customs, but I don't know what, the agents talked back and forth over my head, then told me to proceed, and wait, then proceed. Much confusion. N they waved right through. I never cared for French, too many words that don't sound like they look. For example, they say "American" weird, and any "out" word becomes a cross between oot and oat. But then they put words that look like one thing, pronounce another, and mean a third something. Ah well, good food.

The cruise itself was grand, with only one day when we strongly felt the roll of the ship. That would be on June 6th, of course, our 40th wedding anniversary. There I am, dressed to the nines, and trying to walk on unfamiliar high heels across marble, then carpet, then marble again, while the ship LEANS side to side. I clenched N's arm and then slipped my shoes off. I have a habit of turning my foot and breaking my ankle. It didn't help that I had drunk the best part of a bottle of white wine. I don't even remember the kind of wine, which I should at $85 the bottle. Beyond a certain point, it all tastes like, as the English say, plonk. N popped not one but TWO buttons on his black vest, which gave us the giggles. AND a complimentary dessert, all decorated and sparkled. That night was like sleeping in a hammock, gently swaying side to side, very relaxing, for me, anyway. I heard there was a run on the dramamine that night.

Our cabin was a little shabby, the ship is due for a total gut-to-the-bulkheads at the end of the season and it shows. But the view from our private veranda (la di dah) was gorgeous... sunset:

We really had a lovely time.

Bumper sticker of the day: "A bad analogy is like a leaky screwdriver"

Monday, May 24, 2010


Yesterday Husband and I went to visit my aunt and uncle about 90 miles away. This is something we do several times a year, talk for a few hours while we are there on a Sunday afternoon.. We decorate the graves of my parents, aunt and sister, then visit with the aunt and uncle for several hours before heading home.

And for the first time in a long time, our daughter elected to come with us.

I should mention that conversations with the relatives are not the most exciting. They tend to cover local news, family news, and political news. But daughter, 30 years old, sat and listened and contributed and (she said later) actually enjoyed herself. It wasn't a red letter visit; they are redoing their kitchen and have everything all helter-skelter, piled on every flat surface while the work is being done. We sat on the front porch, a nostalgic place in its own right.

But I think I know why R wanted to come.

The day before yesterday she went to the wedding for one of her co-workers, someone she didn't know very well from work, but whom she liked a lot; a funny, outspoken woman that means a lot to her happiness at the job. Turns out she has a huge family clan -- R was one of very few who wasn't related -- and all 10 of the bride's aunts and uncles attended, along with most of their offspring. Our family, you see, consists now of the 4 of us, and the aunt and uncle we visited. It must have engendered in her a desire to at least know them better, to participate in the catching-up and reminisces that are a predictable part of any visit. The tales they tell end up usually in my ongoing genealogy files, which I assumed would interest our children not a bit, and so I plan to donate them to the WV family archives at WVU when I am unable to pursue them further.

It was pleasing for me to think she seems to really enjoy time spent on extended family things, and not just in the here-and-now of work and friends that is so much a part of daily life, and in the end means little enough at all.

Three years retired, I know whereof I speak. Friends and co-workers come and go, but family (for better or worse) remain a part of who we are long after the names of friends have slipped away.

So here's to relatives, near and far, who carry a bit of history and share it with us.

I won't forget.

Bumper Sticker: To err is human to ARRR is pirate!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Back at ya...

I've let the updating of this blog slide a bit, but events have been moving along. Raven had the surgery on her ACL, it went very well and she is recovering very speedily. She goes to have stitches removed today. She is bearing weight on the leg, but is of course pretty gimpy. It will take, we've been told, 6 or 8 weeks for full recovery. The vet said this knee surgery will improve the weight bearing on that hip as well, so the displasia should be less of a problem He also said that he thought her displasia is as bad as it will get now (which is fairly OK) and to keep up the chondroitin, glucosamine, etc. She has been on pain killers around the clock since the surgery, and today will be the first 24 hours without, although she is still on Metacam, an NSAID which is easy to give her. She looks even more peculiar now than she did after we clipped her. Our part of the de-matting proves to be thorough, but obviously it will take more practice to get an even appearance. Then the vet shaved her rear leg to the skin, and her opposite foreleg also, for the IV access, so she really looks like she has gone 10 rounds with a weed-wacker. Poor baby.

Today we sedate Maggie, the black and white Newf, and de-mat her as well, and thankfully she is much less matted than Raven was, and should go faster and be less whacked looking.

The weather here (WV) has been so WEIRD this last week. Three days ago we had a FROST advisory at night, and it did get into the low 30s. Today the high is expected to be 83! I would rather have a happy medium between these extremes. Who is in charge of these things, anyway? Obviously a bipolar phenomenon (if you are religious I apologize, I am not).

I cleaned out a dresser drawer the other day, and found most of our cameras, 4 of them, still with film in them. The old Pentax jammed with the mirror up when I tried to use it, so the roll was light struck and I pitched it. The minolta talker had corroded battery terminals, but once cleaned it worked fine although the photos were the pits, all dark and fuzzy. 6 year old film to blame. One of the canon APS cameras had completely blank film, I need to check it with a new roll of film to see if the shutter is working correctly. There are still two cameras with film in them, I will take a few shots with them and then process, if Wal-Mart can do 110 film anymore. I have a ton of film in the refridge, hopefully it is still good to go. There are two cameras, Minox, with film, but sending those out for processing is a big hassle, there are only 1 or 2 places that still do it. You can't buy the cassettes anymore and have to use old ones and roll new film on them (which is 35 mm film split in half) and do so in a changing bag. I enjoy doing this about as much as a poke in eye. Can I guess about fingerprints on the film?

And don't get me started about the Polaroid Captiva camera, with batteries built into the film cassette...

So Blogger is experiencing trouble saving, and thus I will quit while I am ahead. No bumper sticker for the day, I have misplaced my sticker book. What, did you think I keep all these in my head?!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


I am having all sorts of problems when I sign into Google, necessary so I can post here. Should I take that as a sign?

Easter Sunday was a beatch here. We decided to tackle the grooming of Raven, our black Newfy dog. Her fur was terribly matted and the mats were like felted yarn in their density. We used the new ClipMaster clippers (see below) and made her into a fuzzy Lab, sort of. On the front she is pretty much as she should be; That part wasn't so matted and could be groomed, but the stuff from her shoulders back was a real mess. I was afraid that we would find sores underneath, but her skin is clear and healthy. Her tail -- well, you have to see it. Will post photo below the one of the clippers.

Unfortunately, in the process of cutting away one very large mat (closely matted to the skin) we cut her with the scissors. This was in an area where the loose skin on her belly meets the skin on her thigh, always a tricky area. It needed stitches. But she was tranked for the session with acepromazine, and thus could not walk on her own, much less get up in the back seat of the truck. So we had to carry her after waiting several hours for her to semi-awaken. Oh, and she weighs 140 pounds, We then carried her into the truck and on into the emergency vet clinic. Now she is OK on the cut and the mats are gone, and the dense undercoat should be able to drop off without the long guard hair coat tangling it up. Meanwhile, Maggie (the other, larger Newf) piled onto her buddy Raven and damaged her bum hip again, so it is solitary confinement for them both until she can walk on it again. They are both barking/howling in the barn, they do not like being apart, even though it is only through the thickness of a stall door.

With the hip dysplasia so much worse now, when we return to our regular vet to have the stitches removed, we will have to see what options are available now that the glucosamine chondroitin MSG mixture is losing its effectiveness. I suspect that we are looking at a fairly short lifetime for her, as much as it pains me to say so. I will never get another Newf.

Update: The joint injured is NOT her crummy hip, but the ligament on the front of her knee on her hind leg. The only fix is surgical; the cost is enormous. We meet with the surgeon on Wednesday to see where we stand. Is it sensible to spend 4 figures on this one joint when there are three more ready to fail as well? I'm grieving already.

bumper sticker of the day: "Black holes: Where God divided by zero"

photo error--will try later

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nothing much

Thinking about my upcoming 40th wedding anniversary brought to mind this wedding photo from 1970. That's me and my BFF, looking all young (and skinny). All I remember thinking about during the wedding, was to hand my flowers to the maid of honor, let her lift my veil, and THEN turn back to the new hubby for the "gotcha" kiss. And also, I remember thinking how fast it all seemed to go by--all that effort getting ready (and my wedding was a snap compared to the extravaganzas brides plan now) and over so fast. In and out in 20 minutes.

I don't know what brides are thinking of these days, I really don't. So much money spent!! I'd rather have had the down payment on a house myself. Or half of a new car. Something lasting, not just one frantic day that has to be planned like the invasion of Normandy, and the stress of getting it all to come off, the pressure to get right every little detail. Brides spend more on their gowns than my whole wedding cost! Bizarre.

That photo has been PS'ed a bit, can you tell there was someone there to my right? I can't, now. I love Photoshop, but it has completely eroded my faith in what I believe a photo shows. Given time, you can get photos to show anything from Bigfoot to UFOs, and make it look REAL. I understand that in criminal trials, digital photos are not admissible as proof, but that could be an urban legend too. I don't find it on snopes, but if you want to give it a shot, here is the link to urban legends: Http:// They are good for a giggle, just to read.

Bumper sticker of the day: "For every action there is an equal and opposite criticism."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Perhaps a little premature...

Well, I started out the front door yesterday and it was... sleeting. And only in the 40s, after being 70s the day before. So maybe I am being a little too quick to herald the end of winter, but the daffodils are blooming. So soon it will be warm, and we'll be bitchin' about mowing, and the heat, and the flies (always a consideration with horses). We're never pleased.

The Miata came back with 2 new tires but otherwise passed its 30K mile check up. Even the battery was OK. It is so nice to be driving it again, especially with the top down. I got my first Miata in 1996. The kids were driving, and everyone seems to get a car for the kids to drive; but I said phooey on that--they can take the old Subaru and I'll get what I really want to drive for the first time. That one was blue; then a 1999 green one, and then this 2002 black one. Do you think I'm in a rut? I looked at the new Miata while we were at the dealer's place, and Wow, does it ever look good, with a retractable hard top no less. However I have something the new one lacks -- the title.

Our cruise in June is shaping up nicely. We've selected our shore excursions, and have the flights booked (again), and all that remains is to book a hotel for the Friday night before the cruise, since we will have to fly to Boston a day early. I am really looking forward to it. Our 40th anniversary, what a thought, I don't feel old enough, aren't I still 30? I guess I can't be middle aged unless I live to be 116 years old! Well, like the old Queen song, who wants to live forever?

bumper sticker for the day: "Common sense isn't all that common."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sniff sniff...

I'm sick again. This time (so far) it all seems to be a head cold, so with luck I can avoid the pneumonia that I had last time. Either way I feel like I may never breathe through my nose again. Thus I have plenty of time to dwell on one my favorite themes, which is Why won't sick people stay home and not spread their germs everywhere healthy people are? There seems to be this abiding attitude that struggling into work when you obviously belong in bed somehow means you are scoring points in the Loyal Employee stakes, showing that come hell or high water you made it into work. Please. Anyone you come in contact with knows just where to put the blame when they too become sick. I guess I got this from my son, who picked it up at work. Ick.

Well, much to my surprise, the health care reform bill passed! Whoot! When I was working in the hospital several years ago, I had a lot of contact with cancer patients who were undergoing bone marrow transplants. And those "lifetime liability" numbers from the insurance companies got crunched up by the expensive procedures to which these poor folks counted on to survive really quickly. Reading back over, this isn't quite what I wanted to say, but anyway, the reform of lifetime caps is a good thing. And yes, cancer patients do cost us all a lot, but hello? They want to live?

My son told me an interesting factoid. He said that $1 billion dollars, in $100 dollar bills, stacked on a regular pallet (4' x 4') waist high, it would take 11 pallets to hold it all. Now our house is pretty crowded these days, but if anyone wants to test this out, I am sure we will find somewhere to stack all those dead presidents. All in the name of scientific discovery, of course.

Bumper sticker of the day: "No one is sure of the age of the human race, but everyone agrees we are old enough to know better."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I think it may be over

I think we have entered Soggy Spring at last. The horses look like woolly mammoths but their blankets are off (and are so dirty they stand up by themselves--sort of like they are on an invisible horse). The grass is non-existent because of the mud, especially where the nags have been "grazing", but it is still better than dirty slippery snow. If everything greens up I'll post pictures here ASAP.

I am also feeling well for a change, over the pneumonia and the mammo trauma. I just finished doing our income taxes (yeah me) and the results are not too bad. They have been e-filed, that much less to worry with, and the checks are in the mail (really). All the cats and dogs are OK, and no new additions, thank god. There is still a massive amount of laundry, but there is no end to that anyway, unless we all give up changing clothes forever. Ick. My Miata has been unwrapped and actually driven, once the battery was re-charged. It goes in the shop Tuesday for its 30,000 mile maintenance, even though it has only 28,000 miles on it, because it has had no service since I purchased it new in 2002 (other than oil changes), so it will be interesting what if anything they discover. I figure it will at least need a new battery. I had it detailed before wrapping it, so it looks pretty good for an 8 year old car.

Norm climbed up on a looong ladder on Friday and repaired the gutters where the massive icicles tore them down as they melted. I checked out the houses of neighbors when we drove by and the gutters are twisted or off on 75% of them, and I understand the local "gutter guys" are backed up unit August. We have had major downstairs flooding in the past when the gutters were too full of leaves, such that all the extra rainwater flooded in through the garage and on into the house, so we can't afford to wait months for functional gutters. what a winter.

So life just rolls on, nothing of vital importance going on here. Which is good. Drama has never been my best coping skill set.

Bumper Sticker: "I used to have a handle on life, but it broke."

Monday, March 01, 2010

It. Is. Still. Winter.

I am so very very sick of winter. We have had continuous snow since mid Dec. Right now there are about 9 inches; they melt down into smaller depths, briefly, and then rise up again, good as new (grrr) with the next snowfall. I WANT SPRING!! Daffodils, wisteria, robins. Please? I have cabin fever very badly.

Of course I had the other kind of fever, the kind that sends you to the clinic without showering first, or brushing your teeth or combing your hair. You just go in all your misery and humbly ask for drugs. After my positive chest xray they sent me home with an inhaler, steroids, antibiotics and cough syrup, and I am now pretty much healed, all except my ears which makes everybody sound like they are talking inside a bucket.

I caught this misery at that best of all places, a hospital. I went on a Friday for my annual mammogram (my friend calls them mammygrams, and that tickles me) and first thing Monday morning they called me to ask me to come in RIGHT AWAY for further films. They whisked me past all the other waiting patients, the receptionist said "they'd heard about ME(??) " They took another 6 films, had me wait, than sent me for ultrasound, and then has me wait until the radiologist came and scanned them himself. Then the next day the surgeon called me to arrange a biopsy, which was done on the Thursday, and then I returned to the surgeon who said the biopsy was benign. Follow up in three months. And from all this office-hospital-waiting area I picked up the damn pneumonia. thanks ever so much

Next time I shall bathe in Purell as I go.

Bumper sticker : "Slogan and rant-free zone"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The two photos above are another example of the before and after of photoshop. That's a hat, looking like a UFO, blown by the wind around my neck from where it was behind my head, that spoiled this phot of me riding in Puerto Rico on Paso Fino horses (with the crappiest tack I have ever seen, and that's quite a lot) on the beach. A marvelous ride, my husband and me. We even galloped part of the time. I'm sitting nice and straight, but my heels are up, a consequence of having the stirrups a little too long. If you are interested, and why would you be? It is far better that one takes the photo correctly instead of relying on post-photo image alteration, but clearly *I* did not take this, so I don't feel so bad.

My photo efforts for BetterPhoto are going OK, tho I find that thinking of a composition to meet the month's "mission" is far more difficult than actually taking such a photo (unless I am thinking of a ballerina in full leap onstage or some such). My efforts for Nov and Dec were uninspired, and Jan. "black and white and Highkey" shots are difficult. The other students seem to have technically good shots, but I would rate them mostly mundane in subject, except for a few amazingly well done ones. Still, this is not photography as art as much a post-card photo production. I have to see if I will continue. There are 150+ students, and only the best seem to get reviewed by the other students, and occasionally by the instructors. The more formal classes they do are more satisfying, really.

The weather here has been so awful... snow and bitterly cold, and now slightly warmer (upper 30s) with rain, turning the paddocks into seas of mud. I don't like turning the horses out when the ground is so slippery, it is so easy for a bad fall to really injure them. As a result they have been in the barn far too much, and are getting quite grumpy. The dogs look like monsters with mud everywhere, but it will have to wait for much warmer weather to wash them, that and a fire hose, I think. Or maybe a carwash. The all-black Newfy isn't quite so bad, but the Black and white Newfy!!! Gross.

I actually tackled the clothes in my closet, I was so bored stuck in the house. I purged 50 pairs of pants (mostly jeans) and have 50 pairs left. Of shirts and sweaters I winnowed out 30 or so, but there are around 200 left, so not a big success there. I did arrange them by type, all the turtlenecks, the tshirts, the longsleeved and silk shirts, and so forth. I got rid of all the tshirts and sweatshirts that had writing or logos on them (I'm too old for them, for sure), but what about those sweats and shirts with embroidered images on them, should I purge them too? Some are quite lovely...

I have seen a few episodes of "Hoarders" about people unable to part with anything, no matter how broken or grubby they may be, until their homes are literally garbage dumps with narrow trails to allow them to get to the bed or the bathroom. Every time I see an episode, it makes me itch, and I have to get up and clean. I could so see me getting so much stuff that boxes would line the walls, mainly because I keep clothes that are both too amall and too large, because of fluctuating weight. So what is in the closet is really just the tip of the iceberg, there are plastic bins stored outside in a shed that are yet more clothing, as well as bed linens (why is it so hard to part with linens and bedspreads for bed sizes you don't have anymore?) and other miscellany. You can see why I worry about hoarding, but at least I haven't gotten like some poor souls who hang onto empty paint cans and trash scavenged from other people's throw-outs. Maybe there is hope for me yet. Although I do wonder, why is it, when I save so much stuff, I only find a need for it the week I threw it away? Some Corollary to Murphy's law, I guess.

bumper sticker for the day: "Of course I can do it!! The question is, do I want to?"

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I have posted these pictures so everyone can see the dramatic difference Photoshop can achieve. (And I hasten to add, these were not fixed by me! ) This photo of my aunt was taken a few weeks before her death, and it is so evocative of all the times we visited and talked and talked, so I was devastated when the photo showed she blinked. This was taken on film, and so I couldn't immediately view it like you can in digital. Anyway, it is repaired now, so I am mailing hard copies to the cousins and my aunt and uncle, I know they will be pleased.

On a similar note, the afore mentioned aunt and uncle loaned us a huge oval photo of my grandmother that needs immediate copying before the deterioration progresses. The original is on oval curved glass and it looks very fragile. Maybe copying will be a viable alternative to repair of the actual photo, we will see. I will post here if it pans out. I never saw a photo of her as a young women, and was amazed at how lovely she was. We tend to think our grandparents have always been like they are now, whether they are 50 or 80, but inside that old interior is the self image they carry that says "I can't be that old", I don't look that old, surely? At least that is true for me, 58 and soon to be 59, because inside I am still 20 in my self-image. When I look in the mirror, specially when I catch a glimpse unexpectedly in a mirror or a glass window, I am struck with how much I resemble Mom. And I think, surely not? Sobering. The notion that there is nothing Time hasn't touched assumes paramount importance; even with our "treasures" we see that they look a little faded, and a little tacky, and have lost their shine as time moves on. Really, everything changes.

I guess 3 am is time for depressing posts, so I'll stop for now. Photos soon appended.

Bumper sticker for the day: My dog can lick your honor student. (have I used this before?)