Saturday, October 31, 2009

Don't Stop Believin'

Yeah, this is cheeky, but you can hear it being played in the background of the football game play-by-play at Kinnick Stadium.

I'd call this a "kitchen game". I even got up in the 3rd quarter, after yet another interception and started dishes, coming back to Iowa stopping Indiana thanks to a wide right field goal. A Hawkeye interception later and we had the potential for a come back. Maybe. Field goal Indiana. Maybe not.

In the 4th quarter, I sat here and looked through catalogues, getting ideas for Christmas gifts. I listened as 2 passes resulted in scores. I listened as we scored 4 more times to make the final

Iowa 42 Indiana 28

9-0. Unbelievable. We were picked to be a dark horse in the Big 10 this year. I am not sure even the Hawkeye faithful, who sit through sun, clouds, rain, sleet, snow, and today's 25 mph winds making a wind chill in the teens imagined this kind of start.

Don't stop believin'. Next week, Northwestern.

Beverage: Huckleberry tea


Thank you, Terry!

These are brownie pops; a pumpkin, a ghost and a black cat. (Background provided by my own black cat.) I haven't actually eaten one, but they are so neat, I had to share.

Beverage: Huckleberry tea


Friday, October 30, 2009

Step 2: Minutia Overdrive

This is what happened at the bank...

Probably somewhere, back in the mists of possibly early summer, I overdrew my checking account. My system of checks and balances failed to find it. It may have been a series of small errors so it was less likely that I would notice that things failed to properly align. It took until this month to finally show up. So, let's say that is, in fact, my fault.

The account became overdrawn on October 15th. I didn't get a notice until the 24th, although I had seen a problem on the 20th. But I looked at my account on the 19th before I went shopping and there was nothing that alerted me to a problem. It wasn't until the 20th, that I noticed the whopper. I didn't start receiving any notification until the 24th at which time I was told to fix the problem by the 20th or I would be socked with fees. Wha? According to the gentleman I talked to, fees were attached to the account on the 20th and made retroactive to October 15th. He was surprised this had been done, particularly when I hadn't received any notice there was a problem.

He has petitioned for a fee waiver and reversal. My paycheck was in the account, but there are all these fees so I don't dare write checks for much of anything. I got money out to live on and I have one bill that HAS to be paid, mess or no mess. As there has been no activity since the 21st, once all these fees have been reversed, and he's confident they will be, I'm to balance my account and start a brand new check ledger with that total. That way, I have a total that we both agree on and I can start "fresh", as it were.

I told him about a problem I had paying my bills online. He sighed and said the button I'm using is just like mailing the payment. It's withdrawn from my account and then sent, electronically, to a lock box. The lock box takes those payments and applies them to the appropriate account. It can take 5-7 days to do this. I incurred fees because a payment was late in September when I had a receipt number for making the payment. He has petitioned to remove those fees on the grounds that the web site is too confusing. He said people like him have been complaining for years that that button is not clear and too many people are penalized for thinking they have set up online payments on specific days and they have not. He told me where to go to pay online.

But, I'm supposed to be getting paper statements and I haven't received one of those in at least 6 months. He checked and I'm supposed to still be getting them. Maybe some of you can do everything online, but I must have that piece of paper so I can make sure I'm writing the correct amount in every single line. You would be surprised how often I catch myself transposing a single digit.

He changed my savings account to a better one, one that pays more interest and has no fees. I had seen all sorts of withdrawals from my savings account, withdrawals I didn't make. That was the bank taking money out of the savings to keep the checking afloat. Fees associated with removing money will be refunded as well. He also upgraded my debit card to one that gives me points (Be still, my heart). Whatever. I'm not likely to use them unless I can get something completely free.

I'm on the fence about all of this. I still think they should have someone sit down and find where the error was made, even if we have to do a huge archaeological dig in the computer systems of this bank. You can be sure, if I suspected they had pulled something and a court said, "Give me April of 2009", they would have it. I'm going to wait until Tuesday, when I'm supposed to be receiving a call about the fee waiver. There's another bank right across the street from the office. You can bet that if the fees aren't waived or if there's something socked onto my account that I didn't know about, they are getting my business.

To use a tired metaphor, I'm not out of the woods yet, but I think that's the edge of the forest I see ahead of me. I'm getting comfort food tonight, pizza. I figure I deserve to take care of the inner me, breathe deeply, and, while the football game is in progress tomorrow, figure something out to make sure this doesn't happen again. I'm given to understand that large, involuntary withdrawals from savings institutions which involve stocking masks and firearms are slightly illegal.

Beverage: Orange juice


But is the sousaphone okay?

My friend, Perry, sent me this YouTube video snatched off ESPN's coverage of the Ohio State-USC football game. This is the Ohio State Marching Band. Even though I might, only rarely, root for Ohio State, I love to watch their band make the script Ohio. A sousaphone player always dots the "i" in Ohio. You can see, in some cuts, how they "snap" instruments when passing through lines and, just briefly at the end, how they whip around to face the crowd to play the fight song. I wonder how long it takes an incoming freshman to learn exactly where to go on the field and how to do this. They all look as if they have been marching in the band for years.

OSU Marching Band

I was in marching band in high school. I played flute. I was an average player. I really wanted to play the clarinet but we couldn't afford rental fees. My mother played the flute and we had her flute in the house. I learned to play on that until my grandfather gave me the money to buy a newer used flute.

When Carole was old enough to select an instrument for band, she chose flute. She could have chosen anything but she wanted to play the flute. The flute I played on became hers to use. When she got into high school, we bought a better flute and she bought a piccolo, something I always thought would be fun to play but because I wasn't first chair, I was never allowed to even try.

Carole is incredibly gifted, musically. She was second chair sophomore and junior years, becoming first chair her senior year. She was one of only 2 8th graders to make the symphonic band as freshmen.

When she went off to college, she continued in the band at North Central College. They don't have a marching band, per se. Her junior year, they started playing at home football games, just a bunch of people who sat on the sidelines. She still plays occasionally. Although we'd get on each other's nerves, I would love to have her come home just to hear her practice.

I was a band parent and went to all the home games and all the marching band competitions through 4 years. We didn't take vacations around Memorial Day or 4th of July because there were parades to march in and you got extra credit for marching. One of the best tee shirts I ever saw was, "Football game? I'm here for the marching band."

Lastly, here's the Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band at the Alamo Bowl in 2006. This is their traditional entrance at the beginning of the game. It's fuzzy and hard to hear but the first song is "On Iowa" and the second one is the Iowa "Fight Song".

Iowa Marching Band

Kind of makes me want to get football tickets next year, somehow, just to see the band.

Beverage: china black tea


Thursday, October 29, 2009

And what if it lives with me?

(Caption: A little to the left mom, please.)
All Hallow's Eve...Samhain...or Halloween is in 2 days. I got to thinking about a certain four-legged feline now occupying my dwelling. So, I did some research. (
Do you believe it is a sign of ill fortune when black cats cross your path? Or do you conclude the cat has dispensed a run of good luck, by passing in front of you?

Whether you believe black cats to be good or bad luck could depend on where it is in the world that you live, and even within different countries, there exists differing beliefs, and superstitions concerning black felines.

If you live in the United States, or most European countries, then black cats passing in front of you will likely make you believe that no matter how dismal things are now, things are going to get worse. If however you live in the United Kingdom, or in Japan, black cats crossing your path will probably make you smile, and think that good fortune is on its way.

Live in Germany and you will probably believe that black cats crossing your path from right to left, is a bad omen. But from left to right, and the cat is granting favorable times for you.

In Italy many hold the superstition that if an inky feline lays on a sick persons bed, death will follow. In China there are those that believe black cats to be harbingers of famine and poverty. Latvian farmers, that find black kitties in their grain silos, dance with joy. They believe these felines to be the spirit of Rungis, a god of harvests.

Crossing the path of a black cat, as opposed to it crossing yours, is generally thought of as inviting the very worst of luck. In Scotland folks believe finding back kittens sitting in their porch is a sure sign of riches, and happiness to come.

In most parts of the world it is thought that a black cat walking towards you is a certainty of good luck coming your way. Should the cat stop and turn away, before it reaches you, then don't take any risks or place any bets, fair fortune is not to be yours.

Chasing black cats out of your house is a certain way to ensure that yours will not be a lucky house. Stroking the fur of black felines will bring you both health, and wealth. In some fishing communities, the fishermen's wives keep their cats indoors, believing that this will keep their men folk safe from peril whilst at sea.

Many people around the world believe that there is a single white hair to be found, on even the blackest of cats. Pull out that hair, without getting a scratch, and yours will be a long, happy and prosperous marriage.

Whatever the local superstitions about cats that are black, most owners of cats consider themselves lucky and blessed. And indeed it is a blessing to own a cat, black or not.

I kind of always wanted to have a black cat live with me, be a part of my life simply because of the mythos surrounding the color of the cat. My mother had a short-haired black cat who came and went on the farm. Of course called "Midnight", she gave birth to one litter of kittens and then vanished, never to return. I remember her being very skittish, not at all a people cat. (Yes, there are such things.)

As my ladies don't go outside, I don't think the neighborhood, with the exception of Zeke who saw them in the window one day, knows I have any cats, let alone a black one.

Her "necromancy" consists of sitting in my lap and looking up at me and, I swear, smiling; or greeting me in the morning when I get out of bed; or just lying on the settee and looking so cute.

So in spite of the recent falling into a pot hole, I have luck. It comes on 4 feet with a tail. I am lucky when there's a cat in my lap.

(Caption: But this IS my good side.)

Beverage: Assam tea


Step 1: Conquering the fear

I have done everything I can on my end. I've gone through my checkbook and had 2 other people look at it. Both say that there isn't anything the matter with my math. They have questioned some entries but it goes back to the question that needs to be answered, "Where has my money gone?" When I account for everything and the bank still says I'm short, there is some disconnect.

Today, I'm going there to tell them to explain it to me, to find where it went wrong and to fix it.

My financial advisor has been nothing but upbeat. We are even using this time to assess my total picture and he's made, what I feel, are very good recommendations. I've had friends, and you know who you are so I won't list you, who have, totally unbidden, called or emailed with help to get me through this pot hole.

The biggest challenge for me is to not play the blame game with myself. My friends will testify that I can get so down on myself which produces a huge self-defeating attitude. It's my fault this happened. I'm really stupid when it comes to finances and managing money. And so on and so forth. I've been told to go into the bank this afternoon with the idea that there's a simple mistake and we just have to find it. The biggest urgency is that I get paid tomorrow and have, currently, no access to any accounts. Hence, this needs to be resolved or, until it gets resolved, I need to have access to some funds on which to live.

But, I thought, rather than focus on the bad, which is so very easy for me to do, I'd focus on some good. Maybe in typing what I'm grateful for, I can feel better, that life is not a fall into darkness, but a rise into light.

I am grateful for:
1) My friends who have counseled me through this mess. Listening ears and offers of help show me I'm not alone even when I feel I am.
2) Healthy cats. Mija sitting in my lap last night, looking up and me and purring. Pilchard, this morning, while I'm eating my Cheerios, demanding my free hand give ear scratches.
3) Minor prescience on my part to buy enough groceries to last for 6 weeks so I am not currently out of food.
4) Laughter, although I certainly could use a whole lot more of it.
5) Chocolate
6) Fall. I stood on the deck last night when I got home and breathed deeply that uniquely scented air.
7) Iowa football. I have something to look forward to this weekend as Iowa plays Indiana.
8) A job. This would be a whole lot worse if I didn't have a job to go to even if we have little to nothing to do at the moment.

I've been cleared to leave early today to deal with this. My feelings on religion have me torn between thinking this will go okay with a wee bit of prayer and feeling that God doesn't take and hasn't taken an active roll in my life for some time now so asking simply for the fortitude to get through this is a waste of time. I just need to be calm and tell them we have to get this fixed now, that I get paid tomorrow and I need access to some funds even if it's just a couple hundred dollars to get through a week and pay the immediate bills. That's all I need. Strength.

Beverage: Assam Tea


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

But this IS my halloween costume.

Gray Watch Month 5

I had Rodney take a photo when we got back to the office today. I need a haircut but can't afford it right now. Maybe, after the bills get paid and this checkbook thing gets straightened out, I can go in for a bangs trim, but $40 for a haircut is right out.

I have no idea why it looks like the top is yellow greenish. Is it mold? I'm beyond my "fresh by" date?

I don't look very happy, but I was downloading all the data we accumulated today. Open this program, click this, select this folder, click this. As I've sent weeks worth of data to the wrong folder by going too fast and then nearly panicking when I can't find it, I best just take my time and select the right buttons and folders and click "Yes" when I'm supposed to.

Carole will recognize the sweatshirt. We've had it for years. It's nice and comfortable.

Probably 2 more hair cuts?

Beverage: China Black Tea


Itch or Scratch?

Rodney and I went into the city today to download equipment on a job site. We have 10 machines scattered around this construction project. One of the machines is up for calibration so we replaced it.

We are walking to our second stop and I get this itch. You know these kind. They are in the most embarrassing place to scratch ever. I'm getting Rodney used to where the machines are so in the event I can't go download these, either he or Jon can. So, he's with me and I can't just reach up and scratch it. I'm wearing a Halloween sweat shirt and I can't just reach under the shirt to scratch it either. It's just in one of those places where there is absolutely no good way to scratch this when you're with someone other than someone you love, dearly, truly, unconditionally. Trust me on this.

We had to wait for someone to come at stop #2, to let us into the two rooms where we have equipment. From there, we walk over to our final stop and we have to wait for Keith to come escort us around unlocking rooms. Keith takes an hour to get to us because he was working on unstopping a drain when we had him paged. I went to the "powder room" and scratched, even put some cool water on the skin. That helped for a bit but the itch returned when Keith showed up. There I was again, walking around with people and this itch and I couldn't do a thing about it.

We've returned to the office and, of course, now that I'm some place I could deal with it, it's gone. I'll put some cream on the area when I get home, but it's maddening. So I'm wondering, is it an "itch that you scratch" or a "scratch that you itch"?

Courtesy of Merriam-Webster's online dictionary:

Main Entry: 1itch
Pronunciation: \ˈich\
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English icchen, from Old English giccan; akin to Old High German jucchen to itch
Date: before 12th century

intransitive verb 1 a : to have an itch ed> b : to produce an itchy sensation underwear that itches>
2 : to have a restless desire or hankering for something ing to go outside>transitive verb 1 : to cause to itch
2 : vex, irritate

Main Entry: 1scratch
Pronunciation: \ˈskrach\
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English scracchen, probably blend of scratten to scratch and cracchen to scratch
Date: 15th century

transitive verb 1 : to scrape or dig with the claws or nails
2 : to rub and tear or mark the surface of with something sharp or jagged
3 a : to scrape or rub lightly (as to relieve itching) b : to act on (a desire) —used with itchtravel>
4 : to scrape together : collect with difficulty or by effort
5 : to write or draw on a surface
6 a : to cancel or erase by or as if by drawing a line through b : to withdraw (an entry) from competition
7 : scribble, scrawl
8 : to scrape along a rough surface intransitive verb 1 : to use the claws or nails in digging, tearing, or wounding
2 : to scrape or rub oneself lightly (as to relieve itching)
3 : to gather money or make a living by hard work and especially through irregular means and sacrifice college>
4 a : to make a thin grating sound b : to produce a rhythmic scratching sound by moving a phonograph record back and forth under a phonograph needle
5 : to withdraw from a contest or engagement
6 : to make a scratch in billiards or pool

Either way, when it happens in some places, you just can't itch OR scratch it. Sometimes, I think your body does it on purpose, pulling a not so practical joke on you. "Excuse me while I deal with this" or maybe not...

Beverage: China Black Tea


I swallowed my pride.

I spent a very sad Sunday once again going through my checkbook trying to find out where I made the mistake that is costing me greatly. Many hours and a lot of tears later, I simply can't find it. I can't find math mistakes, which did make me feel reasonably good that, although I have a horrible ability to transpose numbers, my double entry method of accounting catches those. But whatever the mistake was that caused the current crisis is completely invisible to me.

My bank, of course, will not provide help without my paying for it, paying for it with money I don't have because they took it in the first place. People on the phone have been cold, at best, snotty, as if I am truly trying to stiff them, at worst.

So, I swallowed my pride, my "I can do this by myself", and I emailed the guy who manages my meager retirement investments. Under Ralph's care, my money, while taking a hit last year, didn't take as much of a hit as other friends' accounts. I've explained my circumstances and have asked if he knows someone who can provide assistance to figure things out. I'm hopeful there is someone out there who can say, "Aha" and then will help me forge a better system so this doesn't happen again.

Ten years ago, Carole and I were in the same boat. I only had a part-time job then, although I was looking for full time. It's different in that I have retirement savings into which I could, I suppose, dip, although one shouldn't steal from one's future if one can help it.

I found hamburger in the freezer today when I was looking for the small freezer pack for my lunch. I can make spaghetti tonight and that will make at least two meals. The freezer may become empty by the time this is over, but it will be a test of my creativity. I have eggs and flour, too. I can make pancakes. Now where did I put the waffle iron?

Beverage: china black tea


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Iowa 15 Michigan State 13

I knew the game was to start at 7:05 but didn't realize until I started web streaming that that was EASTERN time. Hence, I missed the first 45 minutes.

With two minutes left in the game, Iowa was up 9-6. It was a very bruising game for both teams. Iowa had lost 2 players to hard hits where the precaution for concussions was in effect. (4 players ultimately were injured. This is not good.) This means the players were removed from the field on stretchers. They were both okay but didn't come back into the game. It was relatively penalty free until the 4th quarter, too. Although not a pretty game, by any means, 9-6 is still a win.


Michigan State scored the first touchdown of the game at 1:50 mark. It was now 13-9.

I cannot tell you how many times I've listened or watched these kinds of games. My grandmother used to call them "kitchen games" because she'd have to go into the kitchen because she couldn't stand to listen. Inevitably, Iowa would come up short either by an errant pass that gets picked off, a sloppy carry by a back that gets fumbled or simply 4 downs and out. When Iowa got the ball back with 1 minute 32 seconds left, I was already thinking, "This has been an amazing year. 7-0 is our best start since 1985 and we should be really proud of these guys."

They drove down the field to MSU's 16 and the quarterback tossed 2 sloppy passes. On the third pass, MSU was called for Pass Interference which moved the ball to the MSU 7. There are 32 seconds left in the game. Three more bad passes and the timer is down to 2 seconds and Iowa has one more shot. This is the game.

No, I didn't go into the kitchen, except at half time to get a Dr. Pepper. I have been known to watch blow outs all the way through just because I remember the very, very lean years of the 1970's when we couldn't have beaten Mrs. McPhearson's School for Blind Rabbits. I remember going to a game in 1973, where my grandmother got 50 yard line seats, 8 rows back from the field and, when we arrived, we got food vouchers equal to the cost of the tickets. Fans were allowed in free in the second half because many Hawkeye fans left at half time. We always stayed to the end.

With those 2 seconds left on the clock, Iowa passed and it was caught for a touchdown. The announcers were speechless for about 3 seconds and then Ed Podolak, who played for Iowa in the late 1960's and is "color" commentator now said, "I do not believe what I have just seen."

Football was established at the University of Iowa in 1886. Never has a team gone 8-0 to start the season. This is an amazing season. It ain't purdy when they win, but they find a way to win. Yes, my mother is saving the sports sections and sending them to me. I, too, was speechless. It's probably a good thing I don't have my TV working quite yet. I don't think Mija and Pilchard are ready for me to jump up screaming, "They won! They won!"

As a side note, I've been giving people in my guild a bit of fun with this season's football team. I started with the Penn State game. Iowa was not expected to win; not expected to keep it even close. They pulled off the upset of the season. I was so excited to report the score that I decided to give every person in the guild who was online in the game when I came on to announce the score, the gold equivalent of Iowa's score. I have continued to do that. Iowa has to win and people have to be online when I announce the score. So far, I have given out 116g to at least 5 people and other smaller amounts to at least 5 others. Two people, who just came back from time away from the game, received a payout tonight for the first time. One of them laughed and asked, "So, next week, what time do I have to be on to get in on this racket?" It's a bit of fun for guild members.

So, yes, this is a huge happy dance. I best figure out how to get the TV up and running.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


Friday, October 23, 2009

Autumn Leaves

The autumn leaves
drift past my window;
the autumn leaves
of red and gold.

Johnny Mercer wrote the English lyrics to a French tune and it's a jazz standard.

It's been on my mind as the end of another October approaches. The maples have been brilliantly hued this fall in spite of it being the 8th coldest summer on record and and September almost 15 degrees below normal. We had a surprise one day reappearance of summer on Wednesday and the sunshine seemed to light up the trees.
These are in the lot of the buildings across the street from the office.

And then the rain started. It rained non-stop from Wednesday late evening through tonight. The weather map was a solid patch of blues and greens covering the northern half of Illinois.

According to the weatherman, we got 2 inches out of this. I'm told it was needed as it had been rather dry. Wednesday's 70 degrees has given way to today's 53. But, it could be worse. The Minneapolis area has seen measurable snow already, shoveling 3 inches, I'm told, so far. I'm not quite ready for that.

After two days of rain, my front yard looks like this...

Zeke mowed the grass Monday after work and he's not going to mow it again until all the leaves are down. This represents about a third of the leaves on this tree. I should go out and rake these into piles at the very least, but I'd have to get a rake, I think. I don't believe any of my rakes are still intact. It would do me good to be out in the yard where I have not really been able to be all year with my allergies.

Finally, I leave you with a small photo of the leaves on the front porch.

Beverage: English Teatime


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cat feet

File this under totally random blog posts...

My cats have interesting feet. Pilchard's feet are big as she's a big cat.
They are bigger than a quarter, probably closer to half-dollar size. And because she's a long hair, there are these tufts of fur between her toes. I try to comb everything, including legs and feet. I'm very glad she's an indoor cat because having to pick mud or dirt out of these feet would be awful.

Mija's feet have an interesting coloration.
All of her feet have white on them with the back ones having more, almost a 'sock-like' effect. I find her front feet to be very interesting in color, how the white is distributed.

I'm trying to get them used to my touching their feet and pushing gently to expose the claws. Val said clipping nails was quite the "adventure". Other than Rascal, I never had a problem clipping anyone's nails. With Rascal, I would get her when she was sleeping, doing 2-3 at a time. Both of them growl when I hold their feet, but I figure, the more I do it, the more used to it they will become and then we can clip nails with ease. Fortunately, the Pilchard scratches can be covered, but they both need a clipping.

Fog can come on little cat feet, just not with claws.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This too shall pass, eventually

I'm completely down on my luck right now. After a Sunday spent, carefully dolling out what few pennies and dollars I had, after going over the checkbook Saturday during the Iowa game, I took a deep breath, opened my online back account and...

I'm overdrawn.

According to my math, which gets checked by two computer calculators because I just don't trust my dyslexia, I still had money in my checkbook. According to the bank, as of 3 p.m. yesterday, not only did I not have money, I am in over my head.

I don't see where it went, honestly, I don't see it. Everything that's showing up in the account is in my checkbook. I had it all balanced at the beginning of the month. Where does it go and why don't we match?

My poor savings account is just that, poor. There are 10 days left in this month, 10 days for something major to happen, like the plumbing to stop or the water heater to explode or the car to give out with something totally unrelated to the $750 in repairs I just made last week. I can't afford to get a flu shot because I have no money to pay the deductible. I can't go to the doctor and get a refill on my allergy meds because I can't afford to pay the deductible. Granted, we're coming into a time when the air gets crisp and breathing clears all those allergens I've suffered through for the last month and I really won't need the meds until, with some luck, next March, but still...

I stood in front of the fridge tonight wondering what to make for supper. I am grateful that, at the beginning of the month, I went grocery shopping and filled out the freezer and bought the things that I generally like having around for meals. Plus, all this cleaning of cupboards found my big bag of rice and the raisins and, with some curry powder and, oh look, slivered almonds, I have a supper of curried rice. Cats are good and I don't really NEED to go out anywhere. My game is paid up for 6 months and I have movies to watch and craft projects I can do.

It will be rough with no overtime and needing to right the financial ship at the end of the month. I still don't understand where all my money goes when I plan, down to the penny, where I can spend it. I have a job, which is better than many people also in my predicament. For that I am grateful. I will keep on keeping on, which, as Carole will tell you, is something the two of us learned how to do.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


She's just beautiful.

When I got Pilchard, she had a small mat near her left ear. Val said to comb her every day and the mat would get worked out.

I tended to comb her every 2 to 3 days. She loves to be combed so I don't have an angry cat on my hands. Here she is last month. She looks so pretty.

Another small mat developed near her left "shoulder". Val gave me a comb so I've been using that pretty much every day in an attempt to comb out both of these. They aren't very big, maybe a half inch wide and a half inch long, but I know if I don't get rid of them, they can morph into something larger. Plus, I don't like feeling them when I pet her and I very much enjoy petting her. Both of them love to be petted, love ear and chin scratching.

Last week, I spent a good hour, several times an evening, combing Pilchard in an effort to break up the mats. Since she likes being combed, she was always cooperative, but I didn't seem to be getting anywhere.

So, I asked Jon, in the office, if he had a mat comb. I've seen it in catalogues. It's got a set of sharp teeth that shave the mat and break it apart so you can remove it or comb it out. He said, "Oh no. Don't use one of those. Get a metal-toothed comb and comb her. The plastic combs are for short-haired cats. Long-hairs need the metal teeth."

On Sunday, part of my shopping was to get a metal-toothed comb. I got the cheapest one I could find, brought it home and started combing.

Now, I need to remind you that Mija's motor can be heard in the next room. Pilchard has purred but not consistently. I start in combing and this cat reacts with what I would call "joy". Her motor starts and she wants me to comb and comb and comb. Obviously, she is loving this.

No, I still don't have the mats out although the newer of the two is smaller. I have to think this feels good to her. The smaller of the two mats has decreased in size for sure. The other one is the same size, but Pilchard lets me comb them in earnest, as long as I use the comb to scratch the chin. Combing the belly is problematic and I haven't gotten all of that combed, but we're working on it.

The side effect is that her coat just gleams and she is now incredibly soft. She was soft to the touch to begin with but this is a soft beyond that. I tell her she's beautiful when I comb her. Black satin is the closest thing I can equate her coat to. Pictures do not do justice to how this cat looks after I've combed her. And the fact that she loves it makes it so much easier to do. I think she also likes the interaction between me and her, the personal attention. I am thinking part of the hissing and charging and fighting I'm seeing is rooted in jealousy; one thinking the other is getting more attention. I tried combing Mija with the plastic comb, but she wasn't interested. Her fur is so short but soft, that a combing is a waste of time, although it would stimulate the skin.

So, I'll keep at this. It will probably take some combing but I think I can get both mats out. Jon said to cut them out and I was going to do that but when I got near Pilchard with scissors, she let out a very nasty growl that made me back up. "Okay, not gonna do that." If they are still there when I have to take her to the vet for a yearly check-up, Val can remove them.

The side effect of this is, when I got home last night, I just want to pick her up and cuddle her. "Ooooh there's my pretty girl," I said, when I walked into the living room. I had "that" tone in my voice, the tone that says, "Oh lord, here she comes and she wants to cuddle." Pilchard took off and went under the settee. "Nope, not gonna cuddle me." Mija saw me coming and took off into the bedroom. They have learned, very quickly, that to avoid being picked up and held except when they want to be, take off. I won't follow. I did get cat loves later.

Beverage: Huckleberry tea


Monday, October 19, 2009

Monochromatic Suburban Music

In shopping yesterday, I wanted to get a couple of jazz albums. They have had airplay on WDCB 90.9 FM. Granted, WDCB is a public station and is located in a suburban Chicago junior college campus, but the albums in question should have a wider fan base as they are current. It's not like I'm looking to replace my Fred Astaire cassette tape, although that would be a nice idea, replace all my jazz cassettes with CDs of the same album.

Does anyone even say "album" anymore or does that seriously date me?

Anyway, the mall where I was at only had one store selling any kind of music, f.y.e. I walked in and could not find the jazz CD's. They were way in the back corner. There were only two sections for jazz. It could be worse. I could prefer blues. There was only one section for that.

I was looking for Eliane Elias' Bossa Nova Stories and Patti Austin's For Ella. How hard can this be?

Well, maybe I should have looked to replace a couple of my Ella Fitzgerald tapes because everything they had would be considered either smooth jazz (gag) or born before 1935. The clerks were busy with customers so I was able to sneak out. I didn't want them to offer to order something because I don't want to have to drive all the way up to Woodfield Mall to get music.

The Pop/Rock section was huge. It was such a disappointment not to have any selection to even browse. I might wander over to the Border's here in Wheaton as they tend to have a larger selection of jazz versus Pop/Rock.

I remembered a store at Oakbrook Mall. It was nothing but jazz and classical music, about 2/3rds jazz and 1/3rd classical. At Christmas, I would take a note pad and write down my top 10 wants. There were always people in the store, but it closed after about 3 years. There was another one tucked away in a corner that was heavy into jazz but they lasted only 18 months.

It just seems the music offering in the suburbs is strictly what's featured on the top 40 radio stations. Shortly after Carole and I heard Old Blind Dogs on a public radio station in Iowa, we were able to go to Tower Records and buy their CD's
The World's Room and Fit?. We ordered the rest of their available CD's through Now, I order them off the band's web site. But, if I were looking for something I heard on "Blarney on the Air" on WDBC on Monday nights, I'd be really hard pressed to find it through traditional outlets. There's a celtic music store in Villa Park, which is a 15 minute drive east, assuming I can remember where they are when I get there.

Maybe it's just my age and my curmudgeonlyness. I think it does a disservice to people when they aren't exposed to a wide variety of music. I was extremely lucky in having a father who loved early Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby and the like. My mother has this wonderful collection of 78's with jazz music from the late 1950's. These are songs you don't hear, not even on WDBC which play all jazz (except 'smooth', whatever that is) so has millions of songs available from the early days of jazz through today, as witnessed by the two CD's I linked above. Jazz is still very alive with performers recreating the standards and writing new and interesting material. Having this available to the consumer expands the fan base.

There's a reason Eliane Elias and Diana Krall pose seductively on the covers of their CD's. They know people will pick it up based on the cover alone.

The urge to possess these CDs has passed. I thought I would reward myself with some music and that was not to be. I did get something else not of the chocolate persuasion. I have Halloween M&M's with peanuts on top of the fridge so my chocolate needs are satisfied for now.

Maybe at the end of the month, I'll check on music. It's not like I don't have any music. If I played everything stored on my mac, it would take, currently, 5 and a half days to get through and I haven't uploaded ALL my jazz CDs to the Mac. Carole has more than me, I believe.

Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to do some writing to the dulcet tones of Artie Shaw's Greatest Hits.

Beverage: Huckleberry tea


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thank you, JC Penney!

Do you know how hard it is to find these...
These are ear MUFFS; MUFFS, I tell you. All you can find are those wrap things that go around the back of your head; well maybe YOUR head, but I think it takes an act of God to keep them around my head. Muffs are what I want; the over-the-head things that will stay on whether I'm wearing a hood, a hard hat or nothing.

Today was "Friends and Family Day" at Penneys. I get a coupon from Carole which makes 99% of the store on sale. I needed a new robe and decided, rather than ask for that for Christmas and then have to take it back because I don't like the color or it's the wrong size, I'll just get one. On sale + 20% FnF discount. Might as well replace my slippers that have the sole separating from the upper. Glue didn't hold them. Not on sale but I have my discount. I found a sleep shirt on clearance and add the discount. And then, around the corner from the slippers were the ear muffs. There were three different kinds. I got the two above so when I leave one some place, I have a back up.

I added additional shopping, finishing off two people out of the country and my great-niece and great-nephew. I even got something fun for me. It was a good trip.

Thanks, JC Penney, for having ear muffs and employing my daughter and, now, her boyfriend.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Iowa 20 Wisconsin 10

This time, I got a stable Internet radio feed up to 5 minutes left in the game. At that point, the feed died. WHO radio, arguably Iowa's flagship radio station from Des Moines, took a few minutes to switch over to the ESPN TV feed. Then, we 1 minute 30 seconds left in the game, cut that out and came back with their regular feed for the end of the game.

It will be a happy dance on Monday. 7-0. I think you have to go back to 1985 and the year of the #1 team in the nation, to find a better start.

Maybe I'll have BOTH kinds of shakes.

Beverage: China Black tea


Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Dance

Pam called me yesterday and reminded me that one of the best comfort foods is macaroni and cheese and I had the temerity to FORGET that on my last post.





I make macaroni and cheese with Velveeta and I love to add Spam and peas. I think I blogged about this before, how much I like Spam. I grew up with it as there were some very hard times for my family at the end of the 1960's and into the early 1970's. Spam was one thing we could afford. I've eaten it just about any way you can fix it. That would be a nice Christmas gift for me, a Spam cookbook. I'm pretty sure you can get one on the Spam web site.

But that's not why I'm doing a happy dance. Pam called and said it was time for a girls night out dinner and I replied that she's been reading my mind because the paper has had coupons in it for...

Steak 'n Shake.

Monday night...before we both suffer from withdrawals. The only problem is going to be which seasonal shake do I get, the chocolate fudge one or the caramel apple one.

If only all life choices could be like that.

Beverage: Assam tea


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's time for comfort

I've beaten it to death how much I love fall, the sights, sounds and smells of this season. But here's another reason:

'tis the season for the return of comfort food.

I was thinking about that last night as I tossed a load of blankets into the washing machine and cleared off a section of basement shelves for the soups and broth I bought a couple weeks ago. (Hmmmm. This can has a best by date of '97. I think I can toss that.) I found a can of Campbells Pork and Beans to which I added sliced smoked sausage, Hillshire Farms brand as it was "Buy 1 Get 1 Free" at Dominicks. They don't carry Campbells brand Pork and Beans any more and I had to get Van de Kamps which I grew up with. I really prefer Campbells as I don't like the chunks of fat I see in Van de Kamps when you remove the top. Plus, Campbells has gone to the "pop top" lids with the ring so no need to fish in the drawer for the can opener.

I add ketchup (or is it catsup), yellow mustard and brown sugar to the beans, slice the sausage and add to the pot and then heat the whole thing together. I had the last of a jar of applesauce which I warmed. Total comfort food.

I bought tomato soup to go with grilled cheese sandwiches. I need to make pancakes in quantity and freeze those. I found the raisins in my cleaning of the cupboards so oatmeal with raisins and walnuts is back on the menu for weekend breakfasts. I haven't had a pot roast in awhile, with potatoes and carrots. I haven't made scalloped ham and potatoes or meatball pasta soup in ages. Perry was eating a meatball and sausage sandwich for lunch yesterday which caused me to want a polish and fries for lunch. Jon and I took care of that craving.

I know in the dim reaches of the past, you had to eat hearty at this time of year because, long about March, you were lean from not having the abundance of food at your finger tips that you had as fall was in full swing. But I think there's more to it than just a remnant of my ancestors. These foods improve my mood and make me feel snug and warm. I have two meals of beans and sausage and then, on Friday, I can cook something else or wait until the weekend and really go to town. The cooking process makes the whole house smell wonderful, too, and if you're going to finally close up the house for the winter, you want it to smell like something other than an antiseptically clean bathroom.

So I need to finish clearing the cupboards and then put everything back so I can begin the process of never having any counter space because I was cooking. Oh look! Here's another bag of semi-sweet morsels. I haven't made dump cookies in ages...

Beverage: Blackberry Sage tea


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Christmas Lists

Unless you play World of Warcraft, these might be a) mildly amusing or b) mildly disturbing. These are Murky, on the left, and Lurky, on the right, and they are plush representations of the denizens in the game people love to hate, murlocs. For those who don't play WOW, these creatures populate every location in the old world. The make a sound like a drowning man gargling which is enough, when you have a kill a lot of them, to make you turn off the game sounds. Occasionally, when you reduce the life of one to zero, it will die in a very "B" movie actor fashion. That's the reason I like to kill them, to get the "Oh my god, I'm dying" animation.

These belong to Jon. He ordered them off the WOW store web site and had them shipped to the office because he knew I would get a kick out of them. They reminded me that, in my family, we need to decide if we are drawing names for Christmas and, if so, lists have to be exchanged.

This has been a tradition my entire life. I never could understand the not having a list from which to work. In 22 years of birthday and Christmas gifting, my late-mother-in-law never asked what I wanted for Christmas. Maybe she asked my ex, but she never asked me. I got one gift in all those years that I actually remember being useful. There might have been others but I just remember the pair of navy blue sweat pants the exact size. I wore those for several years before the waistband gave out.

So, I've asked Carole and Chad for lists and have some ideas on what to get them. Actually, Carole is done for her November birthday and I'm working on Christmas. I have to write my mother and ask her feelings on Christmas as my brother is out of work and supposedly, my sister is moving, although this hasn't been verified. (Long story) Christmas is bound to be lean for everyone.

Would I want Murky and/or Lurky? Well, won't put them on my list but I wouldn't turn them away. I need new oven mitts. I would like a new robe and new slippers. I would certainly use gift certificates to Penney's so I could get long-sleeved shirts. I have a lot of turtle necks, but I would like something less clingy. Chocolate is always good and I have to get rid of my Iowa Hawkeye socks as I've worn the bottoms out.

It's interesting that, as I've aged, I've gone from wanting "stuff" to wanting "things". I don't want (or lack for) the accouterments that make my space lovely. But I am less about wanting those things and more about wanting things to replace items I have worn out. Hence, while Murky and Lurky would be welcome and I'd certainly find a place in my home office where they could watch whilst I "off" members of their race, I don't want them and my life wouldn't be tragic without them. If I don't get oven mitts this Christmas however, I am going to have to get some. Removing the potato skins from the oven over the weekend reminded me that I need to get new mitts.

71 shopping days left. What's on your list?

Beverage: Blackberry Sage tea (Ooooh I need more of this! Add to the list)


Monday, October 12, 2009

This vexes me - #3

I'm all for breast cancer awareness and the opportunity to raise funds to fight the disease.


You've gone and put my Cheerios in plastic wrap to "give" me a window cling because I've bought this box.

I don't want a window cling. I want my box of Cheerios without them being hermetically sealed.

I remember when toys came in the bottom of the box. That was the hook into buying the cereal. "Look for the free race car in every specially marked box of Sugar Smacks!" You had to dig to the bottom of the box and I can remember getting big mixing bowls from the cupboard and pouring the cereal out of the box to get to whatever was in the bottom. I remember when they weren't in plastic bags, too. It was just a toy in the bottom of the box, covered in cereal crumbs.

I can't remember the last time I saw "Free race car inside" on a box of cereal. The cost is probably now too prohibitive to do something like that. Even Cracker Jack, the king of inside the box gifts, has gone with very cheap paper items because it's too expensive to put "real" toys in their product.

And, to answer the question you've probably had swirling about in your head, the non-plastic boxes were 50 cents more. I came home, removed the plastic and the window cling, put the cling in the "give away" pile and have my Cheerios available for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Today, I had Cheerios without bananas. Maybe I'll nip over to the grocery at noon and get a bunch. It's THE way to start my day.

Beverage: Huckleberry tea


Saturday, October 10, 2009


That makes us 6-0 for the best start in over a decade!

Am I excited?

This is NOT Dr. Pepper I'm drinking.

Beverage: Asti Spumanti



I'm working slowly, almost a glacial pace, through a variety of things that have to be done or that I want done. Jon got the digital receiver hooked up to my TV and, wow, look at the picture. But, it won't get channel 7, ABC, and Iowa plays Michigan tonight on nationwide TV. Simple fix. Go to Radio Shack and get a coax cable and put the rabbit ears in the east window. Attach the signal booster to one end of the coax and attach the other end to the digital box. Hit "Search" and the ABC signal should be found by the box. Well, that sounds simple enough that I can do it.

So, I went to Radio Shack and bought a coax cable. I get home and screw the one end into the digital box. I go to attach the signal booster and discovered the ends are the same, both male. The coax cable has two male ends. I need a male and a female end. That means another trip to Radio Shack to either exchange the cable for one with the right ends or get an adapter. I don't want to go out again.

I'm working my way through things. I have swept behind the TV and dusted everything. I'm getting rid of my old DDR pads so I've started a pile at the end of the hall of "give aways". I found a nice box for stuff to ship to Carole. I am cleaning the bathroom. I spray cleaner on something and then leave so I don't start coughing. Right now, I'm working on the tub. It takes all afternoon to clean the bathroom this way, but my allergies don't act up. I went to make tea and have sorted the stuff I pulled off the top shelf of the cupboard. I removed the rest of the top shelf to see if I really do need to save all this stuff and Pilchard decided to use the step stool to explore. She came down the basement stairs 3 stairs today and didn't want to go back up as I was headed up with a basket of clean laundry.

Yes, I will be washing off the stove and any counters on which she walked. The point is that a month and a half of living with me and they have settled in and are getting braver about exploring places. They seem to recognize my footfalls on the front steps and on the deck. They still tend to run when I'm walking about the house, but I guess that's okay. I've kicked too many cats in my day when they go between or in front of my legs. They ran when Jon came by but came out for the rest of the evening about 5 minutes after he left.

As much as I miss the other 5, I love these two. Now if we can just get over the hissing.

Beverage: Lady Grey tea


It has bananas in it.

So I'm thinking about lunch today and I remembered that I had one banana on top of the fridge that is turning brown. It needs to be eaten soon. But one banana is not enough to make banana bread or even banana muffins. WAIT! I have ice cream in the freezer! Add hot fudge topping, walnuts, whipped cream and a couple of maraschino cherries and, viola, lunch. Hey now! There's a whole banana in that.

Mija was in my lap until I let her see the inside of the bowl when I was done. They come into the kitchen when I'm cooking but haven't really expressed a desire for my food. Mija did lick some of the melted ice cream off the bottom of the bowl but not very much. That's good because I don't want to share.

Beverage: Assam tea


Friday, October 9, 2009


This will be the first in an on-going series of posts on my favorites. Today's favorite, socks.

Anyone who knows me knows I like my socks loud. If they aren't loud, I don't buy them. I do have plain colored socks for those times when loud would detract from what I need to do but 90% of the time, patterns and colors are what I look for in a sock. You saw, back in May, where I was sewing the holes in the toes of socks and how all of those were patterns. Today, I am wearing solid chocolate brown socks.

In the morning, I reach to the bottom of the sock drawer and fish out a pair. Whatever pair I grab, unless it's the trouser socks or the fluffy bootie socks, that's what I wear. The knee high trouser socks are for those occasions where decorum must prevail over humor or I wear them with mid calf-length skirts. The bootie socks keep my feet warm. I would rather go barefoot but, in the winter, that's a mite chilly so I wear those.

To the left here are my all-time favorite socks. Carole gave me these for Christmas. They are soft and sturdy and feel very good on my feet. The socks shown above are my second favorite. They aren't as soft but they are colorful and I feel happy when I wear them. I was on a job when I took the above photo. Yeah, I was kind of bored because my job on this project was to be "gopher" and there wasn't anything for me to go fetch at the time. My third favorite pair is a medium teal blue pair made from hemp that my sister gave me two Christmases ago. They are also really soft and are a thicker knit. I like to wear those when I have to wear my work boots to a job.

I don't really need socks right now. Carole gave me three pair of Gold Toe socks for Mother's Day. Fixing the holes in the toes of all the rest has given me a huge pool for my daily choice. I could use a couple pairs of Iowa Hawkeye socks, however. Must put that on my Christmas list.

Beverage: Assam Tea


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

If it happens, I'm sorry.

One of the blogs to the right that I read, Citizen Azeroth, popped up in my virus detection software yesterday. It seems there was an attempt to use that blog to distribute a computer virus. This has happened with the Citizen Azeroth site before. I did some searching and discovered this comment from Robert Ambrogi's LawSites. It's dated 2005 so this is an ongoing problem.

Blogger users can host their blogs whereever they like, but if they choose Blogger's free BlogSpot hosting, a navigation bar appears across the top of the page. On that nav bar is a button labeled "next blog." Click it, and you are taken to a randomly selected Blogger blog. Now comes word from lawyer Alvin Borromeo, writing on MT Law Blog and then again here, that randomly clicking the "next blog" button can leave you infected with viruses and spyware. The same thing happened to the author of the blog Obiter Dicta.

There are two ways to avoid this. First, as comments pointed out here and here, this would not have happened had they been using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. Second, the problem is not with Blogger, but with coding added to some of the blogs hosted by Blogger. If you use Blogger and want to avoid sending your visitors to some random, virus-infected site, stop hosting on blogspot and instead host on another server. You can find Web site hosting deals for a couple dollars a month.

I like Blogspot because it's easy to use. I think any site has the potential to be infected and Blogspot, with its millions of users, is no different. Hackers would go after Citizen Azeroth because it's a popular blog visited by a lot of people who play World of Warcraft. My lil' ol' blog here has a very exclusive readership and isn't likely to be the target of some hacker looking to infect your computer.


For your own good, make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date and use Firefox if possible. those readers using Apple computers are relatively safe for the moment.

I do apologize if you try to come here and your screen screams that my blog is unsafe at any speed. Just be aware that I really don't want your credit card or bank account information. Pictures of your gardens, your pets, your kids or grandkids, your vacation to Rock Creek, Kansas are welcome, however.

Beverage: Blackberry tea


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

In cleaning out the cabinets

One of the tasks I set out for myself was to clean out the cabinets. I could swear I had a Tupperware container filled with raisins but I'll be damned if I can find it. That was enough of an excuse to clean out the cupboards and find out just what exactly was there. Plus, I was looking for the barley to make chicken barley soup and that had been shoved all the way to the back of the cupboard where I wasn't going to find it unless I removed everything in front of it.

So, I found the organic canned pumpkin which will be turned into pumpkin pecan bread. I found the organic cream of chicken soup. I think that's to go over chicken breasts for chicken with rice. I found another half-used bottle of vegetable oil. I just don't use it that much. Oh look! TWO unopened bottles of low-salt soy sauce. One of those can go in the fridge where I'll actually use it. And then I found this, sitting sideways behind the vinegar. 

Nope, I have no clue. I'm not that fond of mandarin oranges but I do have this great salad recipe that uses them. Was I going to make that and if so, when? During the Reagen administration? 

Now Carole will tell you that I save a lot of stuff that quite possibly should be ditched. My spices have some of the oldest "best buy" dates on the planet. But when you need 1/4 tsp of curry powder and you don't have any, there is just no way to go into Whole Foods and buy, say, a tablespoon. What happens if you're trying a new recipe and you're in need of mace? Yes, I have some of that, purchase date probably some time mid-1980's. Why do I still have it? Well, you just never know. 

In the case of the oranges, no question those visited the garbage. And I know cooks tell you to replace your spices every year. But when you're looking at a $170 reinvestment every year, I'm just not inclined to do that. Plus, I'm tossing out what seem to me to be perfectly good food. I do enough of that when it gets accidentally shoved to the back of the fridge. "Well, this is fuzzy. Gonna toss it." 

I have one shelf cleaned out and am starting on a second shelf. What mysteries will it hold? I found the last of my add-water organic hot cocoa mix that Patt sent me for Christmas three years ago. I thought I'd used it up. Nope. That's good. Hot cocoa laced with cinnamon schnapps is a good way to warm up. 

Beverage:  English Teatime


More of these days, please.

These are the kind of days I want more of in Autumn. There isn't a cloud in the afternoon sky and there is no breeze to speak of. The day's sunshine has warmed the air to a "balmy" 68 degrees. You see that moon in the center of the shot? When the sky darkens, it's so bright, you can read at night.

This is one of the reasons I love autumn. The changing colors of the trees makes outside a riot of reds, yellows and oranges. There is a smell to autumn, too. That last mowing of the grass combines with the mulching of the leaves. If you go to a farm stand, there is the smell of apples, pumpkins, squash, corn and the other accouterments of the season. I don't need Halloween and would be just as happy if it were suddenly canceled, because autumn would still be there.

Tuesday was a rainy afternoon in Chicagoland. A noon drizzle gave way to a steady rain. We are warned of frost coming in the next week. I have my geraniums on the deck still. I need to figure out were I will put them before the frost comes.

Ah, the first frost of the season. It just seems to clear the air even more. I don't have a lot of allergy problems around this time of year. It's the one time when the meds stay in the cabinet and I go outside and inhale completely and totally, filling my lungs with the smells of a receding year and an anticipation of a new one just around the corner.

Beverage: English Teatime


Offer a Million Billion Dollars and then we'll talk.

My company attends a trade show in October. It's been a tradition of ours to offer a gift basket as a door prize. I've assembled "football" baskets, which were snacks, canned chili and soda to watch football with; "breakfast baskets" with bagels, fruit juice, pancake mix and syrup; and "Italian" baskets" with pasta, sauce and wine, for a lovely meal. This is the last basket I have stored in the basement so next year, I'll have to keep my eye out for an interesting basket to fill.

Cat technically not included.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper


Monday, October 5, 2009

It is officially Halloween season.

Yes, I got a package of Halloween Oreos. No, they are not all gone. I can't eat a whole package over 2 days anymore. Below is the box I got at Hallmark for the candy to be distributed on Halloween. It's kitschy to be sure, but it's wood-ish so if I drop it, it might break but it won't be a mess to clean up. Plus, when you open the top, it says some ridiculous Halloween-ish messages.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Deb assembles an office chair.

I finally decided to assemble that chair I bought at IKEA back in August. There have been a few stresses since bringing it home and I just ignored the box. Trust me, even a box of this size can be ignored if you simply don't want to assemble a chair.

Step one was to clear that table in the living room of the project I've been working on since May.

Step two was to empty the box of its contents and put them on the table where I could find them. Yes, Pilchard had to approve the parts. Once emptied, this box was certain to be purr-fectly cat size.

Next, find the instructions.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, IKEA furniture is pretty much idiot-proof. There are no words, which saves them from having to print instructions in 11 different languages.

It's all drawings and the drawings are very self-explanatory. I probably could have figured it out on my own, but I might as well look at the drawings to make assembly go faster.

Find the wheels and shove them into the bottom. This proved to be a tricky proposition. They wouldn't go in at first. There's no way tacking them with a hammer would work, either. Eventually, I discovered they had to go in at a slight angle and then they fit perfectly.

When that is done, turn the wheels over and put the lifter thingee into the center hole.
Now we're ready to deal with the seat.

Flip the seat bottom over to put the lifter handle onto the seat bottom. Oh look!

I remember those tags. That's the ever so confusing "Do I remove or don't I remove" tag that

was required, by law, to be attached to pillows, sofa, mattresses, etc, in the 1960's. It seems unscrupulous retailers would resell used furniture and bedding as new. So this tag was required on all furniture and bedding to prove to the consumer the piece was new. I remember not quite understanding it. Do I remove this or will armed men come and arrest me? It may seem clear to you that only the consumer can remove the tag, but, in talking with friends, they too found the wording just a wee bit confusing. Now, of course, we laugh.

Using the handy Allen wrench provided, (Thank you Allen. I should really have one of your wrenches in my tool box.) start tightening the bolts that hold this assembly to the bottom of the seat. Make sure the cat approves of your work. In this case, because I'm being ignored, Pilchard approves.

Because I am not paying enough attention to you, make sure you lie down on the instructions.
As you are quite a large cat with lots of lovely black fur in need of brushing, you will, quite handily, obscure any drawing in the instructions. Move? You must be joking. When forcibly removed from the table, go check out this new box that has shown up on the floor.

Hmmm, this has potential.

One you have put the lifting mechanism onto the bottom of the chair, attach the back to the bottom. This is done in the same fashion as the lifter mechanism, with screws and the Allen wrench.

At this point, there was a noise coming from the box. Pilchard had decided this was, in fact a great place to play. So, I tossed in a couple of mice and she chased them around the box.

Once the chair back was attached to the seat, it

was time to assemble the chair.

If I had not stopped to take photos, it would have taken me maybe 45 minutes to put this together. Here is the finished chair in my office.

It is easy to raise to get to the proper height for my feet to be flat on the floor for correct back support and posture. The seat back is adjustable forward or backward that I am sitting up straight. I like the angle of the seat back as it is currently assembled so I'm not likely to change that.

Besides providing a cat toy and the ease of assembly, the other thing I like about IKEA furniture is that all packaging material is recyclable. I had one strip of tape that I couldn't recycle but everything else, and there wasn't a lot, went into the recycling can. I very much like that.

So, there you have it, dear reader. I assembled this all by myself. It's a great chair and will make my sitting at the computer much easier on my back and feet.

Beverage: Dr. Pepper