Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Barb was here this week for the holidays. I had dinner with her and another couple of friends on Wednesday night, and she came over today and Bob and I went to lunch with her. I find myself talking more with her than I talk with anyone--I don't think there's anyone (except maybe Bob) who would think I'm a talkative person, but when I'm with Barb, I find myself chattering on and on . . . maybe it also has to do with not seeing her very often. She lives in San Diego, and while we exchange emails and the occasional phone call, we only see each other once or twice a year. But it's always fun.

Yesterday I had gone out to Barnes & Noble to spend a gift card I got for Christmas. I wasn't really in the mood to shop, but I went to the tarot and spirituality section, because that's where my interest has been mostly, lately. They don't have a very large selection there (they have a better one at Border's), but I picked up a little book, the Tarot Bible, that I had seen before, but hadn't bought. I carried it around for awhile, along with a blank journal and a package of bookmarks, and then just thought that I shouldn't spend the money on frivolous things, that I should wait until I really needed something (like a Spanish phrase book for Mexico!), and I put everything back.

When Barb and I exchanged Christmas gifts today, that same book was one of my gifts! She said she had bought it way back in November; I just thought it was amazing that I had looked at it a couple of times and not bought it, and especially that I intended to buy it yesterday, but didn't.

We went to Jason's Deli for lunch, one of Bob's and my favorite places--it's just someplace where he can get a sandwich and I can get a salad, and it's kind of low-key and fairly inexpensive. The only thing that bugs me about the place is that they have so many tables crammed in there that it's almost impossible to get around, particularly when they have a bus cart parked in the aisle while someone is cleaning off the tables.

But anyway, it was good. And (when the machine is working) they have free soft-serve ice cream, always a plus!

We sat and talked here for awhile, and Barb took off a little while ago to go to another friend's house. Bob and I are going to have a quite New Year's Eve here at home by ourselves. While I was out with Barb, we went to the grocery store and bought cheese and bread, and I'll make fondue for dinner later. Bob and I stopped at a liquor store last night and bought a bottle of sparkling wine, so we have wine, bread and cheese--what more could we want?

I will probably think more about resolutions tomorrow, but for tonight, I only have two: to be better about remembering birthdays and send cards to all of our nieces and nephews and friends, and to give more to charity--to give something every month, even if it's small.

I'm sending out wishes for much love and happiness to everyone for 2007--hopefully it will be a magical year!

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

Last week we took my eMac down to the Plaza to the Apple store. It had been doing fine, but I was afraid to shut it off -- as long as it didn't go to sleep, everything was okay, but if it went to sleep, or if I shut it down, chances are that it wouldn't come back on. I had discovered that there was a recall for a power problem, and mine fit within the manufacturing dates and serial number range, so I was sure that was what was wrong with it. When Bob bought it for me, he had bought the extended warranty, but because of the recall, Apple had extended the normal warranty to three years, anyway.

So either way, I had until summer, but I didn't want to wait until the last minute, even though it was working fine.

So we took it down Tuesday evening, and had dinner--our usual pre-Christmas visit to the Plaza. It was kind of a whirlwind trip, because Bob was going to get up at 1:30 a.m. to go hunting with his brother. We ended up eating at Panera Bread, which was actually perfect--there weren't very many people there, we had a great meal, and it was quick and fairly inexpensive.

The "Genius" at the Apple Store (that's not being sarcastic, that's what they call them) opened up the eMac, and said that it didn't look like the problem was the same one that had caused the recall. It had to do with capacitors (or something like that) that were defective and had bulged and leaked, like a battery. Mine didn't show that. But when she started it up (I was holding my breath!), it came on at first, then the display started flashing streaky blue lines, then died completely. I was frankly SO relieved--when I'd taken it in earlier, it worked just fine in the store, but that was before I knew of the pervasive problem.

So it obviously had a problem, just maybe not the same one.

They called on Thursday and said that when they had opened it up, one of the memory modules wasn't fastened down tightly, and that was the only thing they could find wrong with it. He said that once he pushed the memory in all the way, the computer started up fine, and they weren't able to replicate the problem again. So we went back down on Saturday to pick it up, and had brunch at the Classic Cup and walked around for awhile. I wished I had brought my camera; all I had was the camera phone. But I took a couple of cute pictures anyway.

Little glittery tree on our breakfast table:


Statue on the Plaza:

I was up until 2:30 last night wrapping gifts. Since I had the eMac back, I watched movies on it while I wrapped -- Home Alone, and Christmas With the Kranks, two of my favorites. We ordered Chinese for dinner, which Bob went out and picked up, and at about midnight, I baked chocolate chip cookies.

Today Bob is boiling shrimp for the Christmas Eve buffet dinner at his parents' house tonight, and I need to go to the store to buy stuff to make scalloped potatoes to take to my parents' tomorrow.

We had a wonderful Christmas lunch on Friday at work--Cello took us to Morton's, which was wonderful. I like a little bit of steak, but I knew I wouldn't want to eat a whole one, so I ordered chicken, and Dave gave me a bite of his filet. We had a white elephant gift exchange, and I ended up with a ceramic kitty treat container from Eugene -- I can't help but think that he bought it with me in mind -- and no one had the heart to take it away from me.

It's been a lovely Christmas so far, and it isn't even Christmas yet!

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas week at my house

Cranberry-Peppermint candle:

Peppermint ice cream:


Christmas tree-shaped candy dishes:

Christmas wall hanging (I didn't make this, and it usually stays up all year because I love it):

Bob spent about two hours last Tuesday night getting this Neil Armstsrong ornament to work. You hook it up to one of the tree lights, and when you push a button, it says, "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Because, you know, it just wouldn't be Christmas without Neil Armstrong.

A little catnip sock on the mantel for Doña:

Bob and Pyewacket's stockings. I crocheted Bob's (it resembles a Converse All Star hightop sneaker and sock) when we were dating, so it's over 30 years old!

My stocking and Dinah's -- Bob bought mine years ago at a mall where he had my name put on it in glitter.

Holiday punch: Diet 7-Up, orange juice, cranberry juice:

And last, but not least:

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Christmas movies

I ran across an article about The World's Most Obnoxious Xmas Comedies tonight. Is it a coincidence that I own three of them? Ghostbusters 2 (how could I have forgotten that one the other day, particularly since I'd just watched it!)? Also, Jingle All the Way, not a great movie, by any means, but not THAT bad. And Christmas With the Kranks--I love this movie!

And looking at my original list, I see that I forgot White Christmas. I put Holiday Inn on the original list, but not White Christmas. And I like Miracle on 34th Street, but I've never been a fan of It's a Wonderful Life. Bob loves A Christmas Carol, but I can take it or leave it (mostly leave it), and the same with the George C. Scott version, Scrooge, which I bought for Bob this year. Ooh, and Scrooged! I haven't seen that for years!

So, a new, better list of Christmas movies (Christmas movies I like, not an exhaustive list of Christmas movies, obviously):

  1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
  2. Die Hard
  3. Home Alone
  4. Home Alone II
  5. Jingle All the Way
  6. Ghostbusters 2
  7. Nightmare Before Christmas
  8. White Christmas
  9. Holiday Inn
  10. Christmas With the Kranks
  11. Love Actually
  12. Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas
  13. Miracle on 24th Street

Here's another Christmas movie article: Christmas with the cranks, or "anti-Christmas movies." It only includes two from my list (Die Hard and Nightmare Before Christmas).

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Time travel, bubonic plague, Christmas lists, etc.

I mentioned last week that I've been coding a monograph about biological and chemical terrorism; this morning I was working on the section about bubonic plague. The discussion of buboes reminded me of Connie Willis's novel, The Doomsday Book. The book is set about fifty years in the future, when time travel has been accomplished, but not perfected. A young historical researcher is sent back in time to the 14th century--she's supposed to arrive several decades after the Black Plague, but a mistake is made and she arrives right in the middle of it.

I almost never read historical fiction (after a lengthy period of it in high school), but I love Willis's work, so I tried it, and was completely drawn in. So much so that after reading it several years ago, I listened to it in audio book form last year.

But the reason I'm mentioning it now is that they celebrate Christmas in the book--Willis is a huge fan of Christmas (witness Miracle and Other Christmas Stories), so I suppose it isn't surprising that she worked it in. I guess it should go on my list of Christmas books.

I was thinking about Christmas books again, and I remembered -- how could I have forgotten The Hogfather?? I hadn't read Terry Pratchett until a few years ago; I think Hogfather was probably the first thing of his that I read, having been attracted by a cover and then, the Christmas theme. Or rather, "Hogswatch," as the holiday is called on the Discworld. The Hogfather's sleigh is drawn by four pigs: Gouger, Tusker, Rooter and Snouter.

In the book, the Hogfather has been kidnapped by an Assassin (on Discworld, the Assassins have a union, the Guild of Assassins) hired by the Auditors, because they (the Auditors) don't like things that take on reality due to people's faith in them, i.e., the Hogfather. But Hogswatch can't take place without the Hogfather, so Death decides to take the his place and solve the mystery.

It's really a great book if you like that kind of thing. I listened to it in audiobook form a couple of years ago. Thinking about it reminded me that I have a bunch of Christmas audiobooks and that they should go on the list of Christmas books, too. I just finished listening to Blue Christmas, by Mary Kay Andrews, and I'm currently listening to Mistletoe Man, a China Bayles mystery by Susan Wittig Albert.

Two books that I listened to last year were The Stupidest Angel, by Christopher Moore, and Visions of Sugar Plums - Janet Evanovich, both of which were good. I'm not a Janet Evanovich fan, and haven't read her Stephanie Plum series (I tried to, but they just didn't grab me for some reason), but I did enjoy the holiday installment.

The Christopher Moore book probably isn't one of his best, but it's not bad for a humorous holiday story.

Just as an aside, there was apparently an NPR story about Christmas music on the radio today. I didn't hear it this morning--I was listening to the audio book--and haven't had a chance to listen yet, but the page lists several interesting-sounding holiday albums.

I should mention that the little yellow kitten found a home with Kristi's mother-in-law. I really wish we could have kept him, he was such a cool cat. But he will have a good home there.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Right now: Ten Things

  1. My left eye is driving me insane. Periodically it does this thing where it waters constantly and I have to keep blotting it -- attractive, huh? I'm pretty sure it's stress related, so who do I see about it? A psychiatrist seems a bit of overkill, but man.
  2. I'm a little bit too warm, because I'm running a little fan/heater that my dad gave me when I was out there for Thanksgiving and said that sitting here in the basement was kind of cold.
  3. I'm listening to "Thin Blue Flame" by Josh Ritter on the iPod, and it's a little bit intense, maybe not exactly what I need to be listening to right this minute.
  4. I'm coding a medical monograph called "Biological and Chemical Terrorism," not the lightest of subjects.
  5. Someone just rolled something huge down the hardwood floor hall right above my head. Sounds like they're bowling up there.
  6. John has his dog here with him today, and he's keeping her on a leash. They just walked by. She's beautiful, black and feathery, and shy. Her name is Pepper.
  7. Okay, man, I hit the button to go to the next song. This is better: "Winter Wonderland" by Lenny B and Madison Park. Some kind of dance mix, very peppy.
  8. My phone just rang -- it plays the "Linus and Lucy Theme" when Bob calls -- hm, I should change that to a Christmas ring. He was calling to tell me that he finished proofing "Common Ear, Nose and Throat Problems" -- he's doing some proofreading for us at home -- and that he's going to the wholesale club to pick up a steak for dinner.
  9. I can't change my phone ring yet because you can't do it without playing all of them, and I don't want to do that here. I'll try to remember to do it in the car, or tonight at home.
  10. I just got an email saying that we're going to put up Christmas decorations tomorrow afternoon here at work. Yay! That should be fun. Cello's wife and mom and little boy will be here. Maybe I'll bring my camera.

Okay, that's enough of a break. Back to work. Biological Terrorism. Yay. Actually, though, it's pretty interesting. It's just that the photos are a bit unsettling.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Stray cat

Kristi came in this morning carrying a little yellow cat. She said that he was sitting on a tire in the wheelwell of a car in the parking lot, crying, and when she called to him, he immediately came to her. The ground was covered in ice and we were supposed to get a lot of snow today; the poor little guy was shivering. She had a conference call that she had to do, so I took him into my office and closed the door so he couldn't run around and get into any trouble.

I don't know how old he is, but probably no more than six months or so. He's a tiny little thing, with long legs and a long skinny tail. Kurt went out at noon and bought a bag of kitten food and some kitty litter; once we poured some litter into a low cardboard box, he jumped right in and peed, obviously having been waiting for us to do just that. A smart little guy.

I took some camera phone pictures of him, and Dave made a "Found Cat" poster that Kristi duplicated and put up in several store windows on the street, but by time to go home, no one had called. The snow had started, and, in fact, Cello was out in it and called and said that it was a blizzard, so everyone started packing up to leave mid-afternoon. I decided I would take the cat home for the night. I'm not sure why I didn't just leave him at the office, though. At the time, I was thinking that it would be dangerous for him down there because of pesticides that had been sprayed, etc., but I could have easily just left him in my office with the door shut.

Oh well. Bob says I just wanted to bring him home, and I guess I did. He cried for awhile in the car, but after about a half hour, he settled down and went to sleep in the box I had him in. With the snow, it took me two hours to get home, so we had a long ride.

When we got home, I put him in the downstairs bathroom with a bowl of food, a bowl of water, a blanket, and a temporary litter box made from a cake pan. Dinah and Pyewacket weren't very happy; Dinah, especially, was upset. It was probably a bad idea to bring him home, but now (nearly 11:30) everyone seems to have mostly settled down. Baby kitty is quiet in the bathroom, Pye's upstairs with Bob, and Dinah is on my lap.

Quite an eventful day! I so enjoyed having a cat at work! I didn't really get much work done, though. He spent most of the day walking around on my desk and pouncing on things. At one point he was trying to catch the mouse pointer on the monitor, then for awhile he would lie in wait and pounce on my hand as I moved the mouse. He was pretty entertaining.


I got an email from Kristi last night that while no owner has come forward, she did get a call from someone who lives down near our office who saw the posters, and said that if the owner doesn't show up, he'd be willing to take the cat. So we won't be becoming a three cat household, thankfully. I suppose I'm a little disappointed, but it's definitely for the best.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Birthday weekend

I had a very nice, quiet four day birthday weekend. Bob went away for the weekend on a fishing trip, he left Thurday after Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' (which was very nice, too).

So I slept late each morning, went out to eat a few times, watched a few movies, read some books . . . it was nice.

I took myself out to breakfast on Friday for my birthday. I went to LePeep, and when I got there, they said there would be a 20 minute wait for a table. My first inclination was to leave, but then I remembered that I had a book and my journal with me, and it was a nice day, so I sat outside at a patio table and wrote, and the time passed quickly. I read while I ate, and took my time, and it was just really nice.

I did a little bit of shopping that afternoon, although nothing major. I went to Borders and spent my holiday savings reward (on myself!), then went to Bath & Body Works and bought a few things for Christmas gifts, plus another bottle of Hot Chocolate bubble bath (love that stuff).

I went to Jason's Deli for the salad bar on both Saturday and Sunday, cooked fish sticks and potato pancakes for dinner a couple of times, and ate leftover turkey sandwiches one night.

I watched both Ghostbusters movies, read one of the books I bought on Friday (A Girl's Guide to Witchcraft, which was a lot of fun, sort of chick lit with a magical theme), read a couple of other books from my to-be-read pile (see the book list, and just generally had a nice, relaxing weekend just for myself. I did do a bit of freelance web stuff, cleaned the bathroom, dusted, did laundry, that kind of stuff, but I mostly just relaxed. I think I needed that.

I've gotten back into studying the tarot, and Liora (I think it was) left a comment on an entry that she liked it when I was talking about different decks and cards. The first time that I did that, I got several negative comments, and while I don't let readers dictate what I write about, I guess it made me feel kind of weird about it. So I'm going to do it again, but I'm going to do it at Rarepeace, my tarot journal. A better place for it, anyway.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006


Every year I write a Thanksgiving post, and every year I'm thankful for the usual things -- Bob, my family, my friends, my job. I thought maybe this year I'd think of all the other things that I'm thankful for, that make me feel blessed. So, in addition to being thankful for my family and friends, I'm thankful for:

  • Lipton Green Tea To Go
  • Pepperidge Farm Parmesan Cheese Goldfish Crackers
  • Homemade buttermilk Ranch dressing
  • Libraries
  • Healthy snacks at work -- apples, Kashi bars and cookies, nuts
  • Indian summer
  • Noro Silk Garden yarn
  • Brittany wooden knitting needles
  • Bath & Body Works Wickedly Hot Chocolate bubble bath*
  • The dollar aisle at Target
  • Schlotzky's
  • The salad bar at Jason's Deli
  • A drawerful of handknit socks
  • House, M.D.
  • James Lee Burke
  • DVDs
  • Oregon Vanilla Chai
  • Vanilla candles
  • Bottled water
  • Cell phones

*I don't normally like scented products that smell like food. Well, apart from peppermint and vanilla, and some fruity scents. I don't like candles that purport to smell like sugar cookies or apple pie, or vanilla things like Bath & Body Works' Warm Vanilla Sugar -- I used to love their Vanilla Bean scent, but they discontinued it (of course), but I don't necessarily want to smell like something that just came out of the oven.

So I didn't really have high hopes for their new line called Temptations. Scents like pumpkin pie, cinnamon bun, caramel popcorn, and gingerbread didn't interest me at all. I was interested in trying out "Twisted Peppermint." I bought a sample bottle to try, and it was as wonderful as I had hoped. When I went back to buy a full size bottle, I decided to try "Wickedly Hot Chocolate," and oh man, I LOVED it. I went back again and bought a full size bottle of that, plus a bottle of the body lotion in the same scent. I think I'm going to go back tomorrow and buy more. It's absolutely wonderful. It smells (and, frankly, looks) like brownie batter. Sounds weird, I know, but it's heavenly. I am sure, therefore, that it will be discontinued soon.

I went to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' today. I went early to help my mom, and Bob drove separately, since he was leaving after dinner to head for the lake. My niece gave me a check (a Hello Kitty check!) for my birthday, and my parents gave me a beautiful sage green hooded sweater, an absolutely perfect color and design. My brother and sister were there, and I talked to my other sister on the phone.

My sister who was there had recently bought a house, and she had a corner baker's rack that she didn't have a place for, so she gave it to me. My dad and I worked and worked and tried to figure out how to put the back seat down in my car -- the instruction manual was no help at all -- and I finally figured it out. I also came home with a lot of leftovers. Bob was worried that I wouldn't cook for myself while he was gone; I still don't have to cook, I'll just have to use the microwave.

I had my Amazon shopping spree last night. I ordered a book on the tarot and dream interpretation, a tarot deck that I thought looked particularly suited to dreamwork, a James Taylor Christmas CD, and the new Damien Rice CD. So much fun to go shopping with gift money! Bob's folks sent me a birthday card with cash, too, so I'll probably use that tomorrow.

My plan is to sleep late, as late as I possibly can, then take myself out to lunch someplace nice (probably Chili's) and do a little shopping. It's sort of a requirement, isn't it? Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. I doubt I'll do much, but I'll put in an appearance and do my best to get into the Christmas spirit.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Birthday week

It's Birthday Week!

This time of year is always difficult for me. I probably have a bit of SAD (Season Affective Disorder). Whenever we have a sunny day, I try to get outside for at least a little while at lunchtime; working in a basement doesn't help, probably. Here's something to be thankful for, though:

The wonderful weather the past few days has helped lift my mood considerably.

Also good friends. I got a big package from Barb on Monday, with a Winnie-the-Pooh coffee table book, a sparkly silver and crystal "W" ornament, and Ghost Busters! I had seen this at Target a few weeks ago, picked it up and carried it around for awhile, then decided I shouldn't buy it, and put it back. Then I came home and put it on my Wish List. Barb obviously checked it. :)

This morning David sent me an Amazon gift certificate, so I can hit the Wish List again.

And tonight UPS delivered a gift from Joanna -- a Christmas CD from my wish list, Ottmar Liebert's Christmas and Santa Fe. I've loved Poets & Angels -- his first Christmas CD -- for a long time. Wow -- 1991! Look at the difference in hair styles!


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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Christmas lists

I love this: It's a Christmas Post!

Here's mine.

The best things about Christmas

Christmas music. I have about 350 Christmas songs in iTunes. Around this time of year--sometime in November--I switch my iPod playlists to Christmas ones.

Top five Ten Fifteen Christmas songs:

  1. Christmas Must Be Tonight, - The Band
  2. Driving Home for Christmas - Chris Rea
  3. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues
  4. The Christmas Song - The Ravonettes
  5. Christmas Bayou - Michael Doucet
  6. Christmas Time - Smashing Pumpkins
  7. Do They Know It's Christmas? - Barenaked Ladies
  8. Maybe This Christmas - Ron Sexsmith
  9. Hark the Herald Angels Sing - Mannheim Steamroller
  10. Suddenly it's Christmas - Loudon Wainwright III
  11. The Virgin Mary - Mason Williams
  12. Good King Wenceslas - The Roches
  13. A Song of Christmas - Lowen & Navarro
  14. Feliz Navidad - Los Lonely Boys
  15. O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi Trio

Christmas movies. I love Christmas movies. And by that I don't mean movies that are about Christmas, necessarily, but movies set at Christmas. Like Diehard. Did you ever think about that being a Christmas movie? It is. Some other favorites:

  • Christmas With the Kranks
  • Love Actually
  • Home Alone
  • Holiday Inn
  • Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

Christmas books. Same thing -- I love reading fiction that's set at Christmastime. There are only a few that I can think of. I see a lot of it in displays at the bookstores, but most of it doesn't appeal to me enough to risk buying it. I suppose I should write down the titles and check them out of the library. Here are some that I own:

Other favorite things about Christmas:

  • Christmas print paper towels
  • Christmas themed zip-lock bags and storage containers
  • Peppermint ice cream
  • Cranberry gingerale (do they still make this?)
  • Peppermint candles
  • Pine candles (Yankee Candles' "Mistletoe" is the best)
  • Cheap Christmas print notepads and ballpoint pens
  • Christmas cards
  • Christmas stamps
  • Christmas music in the stores
  • Christmas lights
  • Pine scented air freshener and candles
  • Holiday scented soap and bath products
  • Christmas-themed nightshirts from Disney World
  • My "'Tis the Season to be Crabby" pajama pants from Joe's Crab Shack
  • My Christmas-print Vera Bradley knitting bag

That's all I can think of at the moment. I'm getting in the Christmas spirit early this year.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Saving the best for last

I'm a person who saves the best for last.

If I'm eating a meal and there's something that I particular like, I'll probably eat everything else first, then eat my favorite. If I have a bowl of some kind of snack--nuts, chips, whatever--I'll eat the broken ones first, then the whole ones. If I have M&M's, I don't eat them in order of color, but I do eat any broken ones first.

When I check my email, I delete all the spam first, then look at the business/corporate stuff, saving the stuff that I really want to read, i.e., emails from frirends, for last. When I open up Bloglines, which I use to read all of the sites that I used to keep bookmarked, and that I now subscribe to via rss feed, I read them in order of interest.

Or, it's also sometimes in order of length -- I'll read the ones that I know will be really short first, and save the ones that I know will be lengthy (and juicy) for last.

I'm not sure what, if anything, this says about me.

Bob and I went to the grocery store tonight so he could get a treat. He wanted something from the bakery section, and while he was deciding, I wandered around to see if there was anything I wanted. If they had had a chocolate croissant, I would have gotten one, but they didn't, so I didn't get anything.

They had some fudge that looked good, but it was a larger quantity than I wanted, and I wouldn't have been able to decide on a flavor, either. Both just plain chocolate and peanut butter looked good. It made me think about another idiosyncracy I have -- I'm much more likely to buy something if it's an assortment. If they had had a package that had a couple of pieces of several kinds of fudge, I probably would have bought it. Almost anything is more appealing to me if there's a range of flavors, or some kind of a sample pack with more than one variety. Like a package of instant hot chocolate packets, with one or two packets of each of several different flavors.

Or instant oatmeal -- I remember that they used to have boxes with several different flavors (they may still, I just don't buy it anymore), and I would almost always buy that rather than a box of all the same flavors. I'm not sure why, exactly. I guess I just like to try a lot of different things. Or maybe I'm afraid I'll get bored before I eat six bowls of oatmeal . . .

What else? Tea. If Celestial Seasonings or some company like that has a sample box with a bunch of different teabags in it, I'll buy it. Like, for instance, a holiday assortment. Rather than buy a whole box of one flavor, I will definitely always choose the assortment.

Especially a holiday assortment. I love holiday stuff. I don't really like herbal tea, but it's almost more than I can stand not to buy all of the Celestial Seasonings holiday teas. I resist, because I know I would like them, but it's still a huge temptation. Bob and I were at Target last night to pick up a couple of things, and I saw Christmas goldfish crackers, and while I didn't buy any, I was really pulled in that direction.

I love this time of year because I can buy paper towels and paper napkins with Christmas prints, and Christmas post-it notes, and peppermint ice cream, and pine-scented candles . . . Put some kind of Christmas theme on anything and I'll be much more likely to buy it than the regular version. Target's "Dollar Spot" has a bunch of Christmas toiletry items now, and they're all really cheap and cheesy, but it was all I could do not to buy one of everything--red and green striped sleep masks and manicure sets with candy-striped toe separators (for holding your toes apart while putting on nail polish), bubble baths and incense.

I love it when Bath & Body Works comes out with their holiday scents. This year they have a wonderful peppermint scented body wash; I need to go buy a few of those. I'm always seduced by candycane striped ballpoint pens near the checkout lines at stores, and I almost always go through the cheap cosmetics aisle at the drugstore and buy a couple of bottles of glittery nail polish, even though I seldom wear it.

Hm. I think the Christmas thing deserves its own post.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Language barrier

After a comment that a reader's iTunes had switched her to Denmark, I did a quick search and found that it's not an isolated problem. From The Unofficial Mac Weblog:

iTunes 7.0.2 thinks I've moved to France (and they have no TV Shows there!) - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW):

"A number of people, myself included, have noticed that after or shortly following the upgrade to iTunes 7.0.2, their default country was changed for the iTunes Store. The first sign for many folks that something was amiss was the missing TV Shows, Movies, Audiobooks and Music Videos in the sidebar nav. Resolving this little glitch is super easy of course... just scroll down to the bottom of the iTunes Store home page and select the country you actually reside in.

I discovered this morning that iTunes thought I lived in France. I've never been to France. I look awful in a beret. I don't even speak French. Although I hear Paris is lovely in the Springtime.

It would be nice to know if this glitch is directly related to iTunes 7.0.2 or if it's the result of other iTunes Store renovations that are being done, but in the end all that really matters is that you can always go home again, and with little effort.If you've discovered any other oddities after iTunes 7.0.2, let us know!

Update: We've got first hand confirmation now that this hiccup is not specific to iTunes 7.0.2. Users who haven't updated yet are experiencing the same trip 'round the world."

Also documented on MacFixIt:

Several readers have reported an issue where, after updating to iTunes 7.0.2, the preferred language for the iTunes Store is switched to one other than originally specified by the user.

So we're not crazy. Well, not with regard to that.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Two more

I couldn't really get in the Halloween spirit this year, I'm not sure why. I did decorate my office, and I put a few things up at home, but I guess I just wasn't in the mood. We didn't get ONE trick-or-treater last night, but that's probably mostly our fault--the light over the front porch is motion-activated, and it stays off unless someone comes right up to it, so as far as anyone could tell, the house was dark. And I just left it that way.

I had bought candy just in case, but for the last few years we've really gotten almost no kids at all, so it wasn't a big surprise. We just had a quiet evening at home. Bob went out and picked up fast food at Arby's, and we hung out with the cats, and that was pretty much it.

This was interesting. Bob called down to me, "How come my iTunes is in yen?" I said "What?" and he came down and said that all the prices in iTunes on his computer were in yen. I went upstairs to see for myself, and it was obvious that not only were the prices in yen, but the whole iTunes store was the Japanese store. I couldn't stop laughing -- such a weird thing. I had no idea what had happened. He said he had upgraded to the new version, and when he started it up, it was like that.

I went back downstairs to my computer and looked through the Apple website trying to find out what had happened -- I knew that for some reason he had the Japanese store, but I thought they knew where you were logging in from by your IP, so I couldn't see how they thought he was in Japan. I couldn't find anything at the Apple site, so I started up iTunes on my computer, and found, way down at the bottom of the page, a select box where you choose which store you want, depending on your location.

So I went back upstairs and told him, and we found it, and sure enough, his was set for Japan. We changed it back to US. I came back downstairs and remembered that I had an iTunes upgrade pending, too, so I downloaded and installed it, and when I opened up iTunes again, mine was in Japanese, too! So weird. I knew that I hadn't done anything differently, but I went back to the homepage, and, yeah, mine was set to the Japanese store, too. I wonder if there's something in this upgrade that does that, although it would seem really weird (even more weird than it already is) if there was some strange setting that was setting the location incorrectly in both the PC and Mac versions.

Every night I go and find Dinah (fortunately the last couple of days she's been sleeping up on the bed, so I just scoop her up and she's so sleepy that she doesn't even realize what's happening until I get her downstairs), bring her down to the kitchen and put her on the counter. While I'm upstairs getting her, Bob has gotten the syringe, and he's hiding it behind his back in case she realizes what's happening.

I hold onto her, and Bob scruffs her tight and injects the antibiotic into the loose skin at the back of her neck, then massages her there, and I let her go, and she jumps down from the counter and shakes herself, and I giver her a little spoonful of canned catfood.

Two more injections, two more nights.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

A good day

One of the biggest things that I look forward to on the weekends is sleeping in. It's especially sweet when Bob is out of town, as he is this weekend (duck hunting or goose hunting or something like that).

But this morning I didn't get to sleep in, I had to get up at to take the cats to the vet at 8:30. I had originally had a later appointment last weekend, but the vet had a family emergency and had to be out of town, so I had to reschedule, and this was the latest slot they had available. And I didn't want to put it off again, because I really needed to get Dinah in there.

She's been peeing in odd places, and that generally indicates a bladder or kidney problem, or something related to the litter box, anyway. We thought maybe it was the anal gland thing again, and I was able to take her in to see my vet's partner and get that done last week, but it didn't seem to help. So I took them both in today for their annual check-ups and vaccinations, and asked the vet about Dinah's problem.

He wasn't able to get a urine sample from her, but he said that her bladder didn't feel right to him--normally it's more malleable or something--and he thought she probably had a bladder infection. He asked me whether I would like to "pill her" or give her injections -- I asked if he couldn't just give her an injection that would last a week, and he said no, unfortunately.

He showed me how to grab her head and force her mouth open, but frankly, it seemed like the injections would be less traumatizing. You just scruff them hard and give the injection into the loose neck skin. I figure Bob will enjoy that . . .

I was over $200 today, and the vet says that Pyewacket needs her teeth cleaned, that he thinks she's developing infection under the gum line and is in danger of losing teeth. He said he'll send me an estimate in the mail, but I know it's going to be a fortune -- more than Dinah's was a few months ago.

My vet is apparently the premier feline dental surgeon of the world or something. He said that he gets cases from all over. Which is good, of course, it means that he's good at what he does. But also, we wonder whether he's more likely to advise dental surgery than he would otherwise be.

I do believe that when you take an animal into your home, you are committed to taking care of them and doing whatever needs to be done, but when they start costing more than the humans, it does give you pause.

I talked to Bob on the phone after I got home, and while he was dismayed, and isn't sure it's absolutely necessary, he said that whatever I wanted to do was fine, that he didn't want the cats to suffer, and we should do whatever we need to do for them. I guess I'll wait 'til I get the estimate from him, and then decide.

Pyewacket likes the vet, and he likes her. He's always happy to see her, and she rubs against him and rolls around on the floor; she's such a little ham that she makes him laugh. After he had examined both cats and given them the various vaccines, and talked to me about Dinah, I was getting ready to leave, and he said, "I always enjoy Pyewacket so much. When I saw that you were down on the schedule for today, I thought, 'I know today will be a good day!'"

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Friday, October 27, 2006

30 Delicious Years

We usually eat at Jason's deli about once a week. The last few times I've noticed a banner hanging from the ceiling. Apparently Jason's started the same year that we got married, because the banner says, "30 Delicious Years!"

It's hard to believe that it's been 30 years. We always laugh and say that sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday, and sometimes it feels like it's been forever.

I liked this article that Stefani reprinted in her blog:

Aren't these people missing the point? Maybe every little girl dreams of her wedding, but I don't. The only thing I dream about is being with someone I love, not showing off for 300 of our "closest" relatives and friends. I'd rather be that cute little old couple 60 years from now than divorced just because I jumped too quick, being all excited about diamonds and dresses.

I don't recall ever dreaming about a wedding--not ever. Maybe it wasn't the big deal then that it is now, with all the wedding stuff on television, etc. But I never had any interest in having a big wedding, never cared about being the center of attention or having a huge spectacle, and I couldn't ask my parents to pay for something like that, even if I had wanted it.

Our little wedding in the chapel in Miami, Oklahoma, worked just fine. The wedding itself doesn't matter, it's the marriage that matters.

Bob took me out to dinner to Stephenson's Apple Farm Restaurant Wednesday night. The last couple of times we went there we felt like it wasn't as good as it had been, but it's kind of "our" place since we've been going there forever, and that's where I wanted to go. And it was good, just as good as it used to be. We had a nice time. It's sort of far away from home, but I always enjoy the drive. I always fall asleep on the way home, too. Bob got a call on his cell phone about half the way home, so I felt free to doze, and it was nice.

He gave me a beautiful 4-carat "London Blue" topaz pendant and matching emerald cut earrings. It was big surprise--I thought we were getting each other small gifts this year. Unfortunately, when we make that kind of an agreement, I always keep it, and Bob almost always ignores it. I bought him a pair of kitchen shears.


In this thin sun, snowdrops blossom
January orchids too, clumping in my wood.
Not a heart-thrumming miracle, but one
Of Nature’s faithful promises of Spring,
Year stacks on year, like woodrings
Or a good marriage, growing into itself.

~ David Knopfler, Blood Stones and Rhythmic Beasts

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rainy day

Everyone's out of town this weekend. Barb's in Las Vegas, David's in Switzerland, and Bob's up at the "Duck Club" – the hunting cabin.

When he called last night, he said that it would be perfect if only I were there. I said yeah, right, and he said, "But you'd like it! There's a lot of wildlife – skunks and possums and snakes and mice . . . and that's only inside the cabin!" He was teasing, but only a little – he had to chase a snake outside yesterday. I think he was kidding about the skunks . . .

It was cold and rainy all day today. I wouldn't have been surprised to see snow. I don't know how cold it got, but getting in and out of the car all day in the rain was making me grumpy. I wore overalls and a big gray sweatshirt, and wore a ball cap to keep the rain off. I'm sure I looked delightful. Man, I hate winter, but I hate rain more. I know we need it, but aside from yesterday, it's been raining all week.

Today I did my usual – went to the bank to deposit a check, went to the library to pick up a couple of books that I had on hold, and got a few DVD movies. I had planned to watch them tonight, but I probably won't, since it's getting a little late. I went to the bookstore and got a few knitting magazines, and to Target to get something for dinner. I ended up with Margaritaville frozen coconut shrimp in honor of Barb, who's in Las Vegas for a Jimmy Buffett concert with a friend.

So it's just the kitties and me this weekend. This cold, rainy weekend . . .

I also finally remembered to go down to the basement and get my Halloween decorations. Just a few things that hang on the walls – a wooden witch holding a black cat that hangs in the front hall, along with a tapestry bell-pull sort of thing with ghosts and bats, and a wooden quarter moon with a black cat sitting in it. I also have a wooden pumpkin to put on the front door, but I decided to wait until tomorrow morning to put it out.

When I was at Target today I looked at, and admired, all of the Halloween decorating stuff: rugs and towels and soap dispensers and placemats . . . oh! I remember what it was that caused me to start thinking about it. They've got Christmas stuff out already, and I noticed a Christmas shower curtain, and boxes of shower curtain hooks shaped like snowmen. There were also Halloween wastebaskets.

Now, I admit that I probably already go further than most people do by putting up the few decorations that I have, but even I can't imagine completely redecorating the entire house, down to the shower curtains, for a holiday. Maybe if I had a lot more money, and a lot more time, I would, but I kind of doubt it. I strive for balance in most things, and frankly I kind of like the surprise of a few little things scattered around the house rather than changing every last thing. It was a pretty cute shower curtain, though . . .

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Monday, October 16, 2006

Nobody cares what you had for lunch

At Bob's urging, I just made my lunch for tomorrow. A bowl of chili, with a little baggie of cheese to sprinkle on top; carrots and celery sticks with Ranch dressing for dipping; and a "guacamole kit" -- an avocado, and a container with some salsa, lemon juice, cumin, sour cream, and salt. Hopefully the avocado will be good--you never know until you cut one open. But assuming it is, I'll peel it and mash it, and mix it with the other stuff, and have guacamole--I also stuck in a few stale, broken tortilla chips from the bottom of a bag that I found in the cabinet.

I've been looking through a bunch of lunch photos on Flickr, like Show Me Your Lunch!. There are also groups devoted to particular lunch boxes, i.e., Laptop Lunch and Mr. Bento. Also just generic, and various bento boxes.

I'm not sure why it's so fascinating to me, but I just love to see what everyone packs for their lunch. It inspires me to think of new things for my own lunch. I sometimes wish that food wasn't so important to me, but having something fun to look forward to for lunch really improves my day. Last week I took mostly salads--lettuce, but lots of stuff added, like fresh mushrooms, ripe olives, banana peppers, artichoke hearts. I made vegetable soup this weekend, so today I took a salad and a bowl of soup.

There's a new book out, No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog, and a lot of bloggers have been mentioning it. The proliferation of "lunch" photo groups would kind of belie that notion, though. (I realize it's just a silly title to get attention, and I do get the point. But I still like to see what everyone has for lunch.)

A long-time reader, Val, in Indiana, sent us a Halloween care package--an orange handtowel with a black cat on it, Halloween votive candles, a pumpkin bread mix, jams and jellies, apple cider tea, and a container of peanut butter dog treats that she made herself for Simon and Jojo. I took them in to work today, and Dave was amazed that someone would take the time and trouble to do that. But hey, those dogs are celebrities! Rock stars, even!

It really is interesting how when you read someone's site for awhile (or, in the case of this site, some people have been reading it for ten years!) you get to know and care for the people you're reading about. Through what I write, and the pictures that I post, everyone knows what my workplace looks like, who I work with, and what the dogs get up to. And, of course, what Bob is like, and what the cats are doing . . . I don't know. It's kind of a weird thing, I guess. But interesting, and I still enjoy doing it.

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Friday, October 13, 2006

Going crazy

Last Saturday night, late, I was half asleep in my chair, Dinah on my lap, when Bob called down that he was going to bed. I answered that I was coming up, too, and I got up and turned off my lamp. All the other lights were out downstairs, and I walked through the dark dining room to the hallway--if I had turned on the light first, I would have had to walk ALL the way across the dining room (that was sarcasm), turn on the overhead light, then go BACK and turn off the lamp.

I stumbled over the cats' cardboard catnip scratching box, fell, had nothing to catch myself on, and banged my arm hard against the sewing machine cabinet. Something stabbed me, also, but I'm still not exactly sure what. I thought it was the cat "hammock" (broken), but when I looked at it later, I didn't see anything sharp. I threw it away, anyway.

I turned on the lights and went upstairs; Bob was already in bed. I told him that I had fallen, and he said "Did you break anything?" and "Do you want me to go get you an ice pack?" I said no to both questions, mopped up the blood on the (small) puncture wound, and went to bed.

In the morning my forearm was completely black and blue; by now, a week later, it's several lovely shades of yellow and purple. I'm really just lucky that I didn't break it. Cello, of course, said, "Did you press your emergency 'I've fallen and I can't get up' button?" I still take grief for being the oldest one at the office, although not a lot.

Anyway, I survived, and I've been wearing mostly long-sleeved shirts. It's turned cold here, so that isn't a hardship.

Conversation yesterday between Dave and Dominick (Cello's four-year-old son)--Dave was getting his things together to leave for the day; Dominick had been throwing a tennis ball for the dogs:

Dominick: Where are you going, Dave?

Dave: Crazy. Want to come with me?

Dominick: Yes! Can I bring the ball?

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month