Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bug Killer

On the 13th, I got a call from Just the Bookstore in downtown Glen Ellyn. I used to work there and I still do 90% of my book buying through them. The book I had ordered was in.

"What book? I don't remember ordering any book."

I forgot about the phone call until I was talking with Carole a week ago. We were going over her life and the next chapter of it. She mentioned that George R. R. Martin had released his latest book but she was going to wait to get it until they were all moved to Virginia.


I started laughing. I think we pre-ordered this book 2+ odd years ago when there was an announcement that it would be released "soon". Yes, that's the kind of service you get from an independent book seller. They kept my order on file and, as soon as the book came out, I got one. I picked it up today.

2.5 inches of prose. I could wipe out whole colonies of ants, at least a couple mice and maybe break a toe if I dropped this. 

No, it's not her Christmas present. Once she's settled in Virginia, I'll ship it. 

My purchase netted me a $10.00 gift certificate. I was sitting down after unpacking all the groceries and it hit me what I should get; book 3 in the Thursday Next series. I've been working through magazines this month. With August looking like it will be a continuation of July, hot and humid, a good book is a great idea. 

Now to place an order.

Beverage:  Orange Juice


In the Bag, Not

Grocery shopping today. It's not my favorite thing to do simply because most of what I eat isn't on "sale", per se. It's a cut-throat business and, around here, we're having a bit of a price war between Dominicks, Target, Wal-Mart and Jewel. Each one claims they have the lowest "overall" prices. This is good for one's bottom line but some things, like cereal, just keep going up due to increases in the price of raw materials or the weather destroying crops. It will be interesting to see in January, what staples like bread and cereal cost when a lot of land normally sown in winter wheat is under water.

I got everything on the list and a few things of the "oh yeah" variety. I needed brown paper bags into which I put used kitty litter. That, in turn, goes into a garbage bag. I find that there are almost no leak of loose litter in this fashion than when I was just scooping into a garbage bag.

I got home and started putting things away. Empty bag. Well, that goes on the floor. All cats like empty bags, right?

She checked it out. Mija took off down the hall and into the bedroom. She proceeded to peek around the corner and watch. She seems scared of the bag.

Mija won't go anywhere near a grocery bag and she's not even curious about them.  When I folded up the empty bags, she would take off running, even after I let her sniff them.

After giving it a good sniff, Pilchard went inside. She rather fills it up.

In the end, she opted to just lie ON the bag. In fact, she dragged a couple of toys onto the top to be with her.

It seems to be more fun to make the bag crinkle. I opened it back up and she smashed it again. She's not interested in going inside. We'll see how long she's enamored with this. 

Beverage:  Orange Juice


Cleaned Up

When I got home yesterday, the limb had been removed from the street.
I have to feel for those guys. It's been quite the summer for downed trees and limbs. I drove to the post office, bank, grocery, book store and home today and the number of trees downed in Glen Ellyn is quite amazing. We're not talking the slender 6-8 inch around trees. We're talking the 3 feet in diameter ones that have seen generations drive by possibly from the early 1900's. Street departments have had their hands full just to get the streets cleared, let alone pick up some of this. It's disheartening when you see the remains of a tree that you know probably was  planted before WWI, lying in the parkway. But that is the nature of summer in the midwest. We're just aware of it because we live where we can see what nature does. In a forest, we are grateful for those downed limbs where we can sit and rest. Plus, they provide, as they decompose, vital nutrients to the ecosystem of the forest. Here, we haul it away and maybe turn it into mulch. 

I took a look into the tree to see where the branch had been snapped off. It took me awhile to find because I was looking at the side of the tree, where the branch hit the street. That's not where it broke.
It broke off one of the north center limbs. In looking at this I realized that although I thought I could cut it up, my little saw would not have been able to go through this limb. I probably would have had help from neighbors in cutting it up but I'm grateful the city took it away. 

Now to clean up the twigs and small branches scattered about the yard. 

Beverage:  Orange Juice


Friday, July 29, 2011

Knock on Wood

The storm came through about 2 a.m. I heard a crack, which woke me up, and my eyes were assaulted by rapid fire lightning bursts. Knowing Pilchard gets scared, I got out of bed and went to the living room to recline in my recliner. After all, what good is having a recliner, if you don't recline.

Mija joined me after a few minutes. I know Pilchard was behind the recliner but she did not budge during the storm. I dozed. Pilchard joined me in the recliner. I heard what sounded like a large engine, opened my eyes and saw red flashing lights. There was a fire truck coming down the street. They went to the intersection north of me, turned right and headed that way. There used to be a small transformer station over there. It's possible there was a downed wire or something awry with that. They were there for a little over a half hour and then left.

Yes, the power went out but I was awakened shortly after it went out and I stayed up through this storm; 20 minutes of heavy winds and rain; so I reset the alarm and the time and went back to bed.

I thought something looked strange as I looked out the front windows at the truck as it lumbered by. This morning, I was greeted with this view.

Of all the places a branch could have fallen, this is probably the best place. It doesn't block my drive, to the right. It doesn't block my neighbor's to the north and it's not blocking the people across the street. There is debris across the front yard which I had to clean up to leave the drive.

The street view.

As things go, this is minor compared to some other branches or whole trees I've seen downed this year. I called the city and left a message with the person who, I guess, handles this kind of thing. The gal who answered the phone said the city is responsible if it's in the street and this clearly is. It's not that big of a branch that, if they simply detach it from the tree and put it in my front yard, I can't cut it into pieces to be hauled away. Yes, I do have a small chain saw and I know how to use it. This is the first time in the nearly 30 years I have lived at this address, that I've had a hunk of tree fall from the front. I had one in the back about 10 years ago.

The storm must have come from the north as this greeted me when I opened the back door to leave.
North is to the right. I simply need to get the loppers out and lop this off. I'll have to see if my hands are improved enough now. I tried to do this in June and got nowhere because I couldn't properly grip the loppers. 

The National Weather Service says this is the wettest July on record. We're at 10+ inches of rain, which shatters the record set in 1886. It's now the 8th wettest month, period. I am probably jinxing myself but, so far, I have not had water in the basement. It's been soaking in and, I think, coming down too hard to come inside. It seems to be heavy rain, heat, heat, heat, heat, heat, heavy rain, heat for 5 more days, more rain, so it's kind of like it dries out. The grass in front of the house was going dormant in spite of all this water.

I use this former container for kitty litter as a mop bucket. I had washed the floor in the back room and, knowing we had rain predicted, left it out as kind of a rain gauge. Yesterday, there was 2 inches in it. This morning, there was 4.5. Overnight, I got 2.5 inches of rain. That's a lot. Well, I haven't had to wash out the birdbath. 

It appears it will be quiet until Tuesday. It will be hot but the no rain will give me a chance to clean up what this storm knocked down.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Decisions Decisions

The list of brewers coming to Wheaton Ale Fest next weekend has been announced.

Looking this over, I know Blue Moon and Sierra Nevada. Neither is an Illinois brewer. I just learned about Magic Hat. They are from the Northeast US. And look, Leine's. I remember when Leinenkugel was very regional. You couldn't get it in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where I went to college. We had to rely on someone heading north into their delivery area to purchase some and bring it back. Plus, unlike Old Style, which you could get for pennies, Leine's was expensive for the average college student. We used to pool cash to have enough for a couple of bottles for everyone on the dorm floor. I like Leine's, but they aren't, anymore, a what I would consider a micro-brewer. 
I can't drink a lot. First of all, I'm sure the Wheaton constabulary will be watching all the roads out of downtown Wheaton. Second, my medication has the nice "Restrict consumption of alcohol while taking this medication" label on the side. As a VIP ticket holder, I get a sampling glass which I shall make great use of. I won't be drinking the Blue Moon, Sierra Nevada or Leine's as I know those beers. Do any of my readers have a familiarity with any of the names on the list? Where should I start? 

This should be interesting but, more importantly, a lot of fun. It's time I treated myself to some fun. 

Beverage:  Scottish Blend tea


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sometimes I'm Brilliant

The power outages made me assess what is and isn't necessary to have in the fridge and freezer. Things that seem, at the time, good deals, aren't good deals if I never use them or only use part of them before tossing.

It's been kind of a rough month, financially. It makes me second guess buying that ticket back in June for the upcoming Wheaton Ale Fest. Some things just didn't get paid, particularly if the bill was due at the end of the month. I've managed to squeeze some cash out of the budget so I could get kitty litter. That's been really important of late. And I've had to be more creative with lunch and supper and stretch the food I have. While cleaning out the freezer to take food to Pam's, I found, buried under the package of chicken breasts, one small Boboli pizza crust. I let it thaw. Now, what do I have to turn it into pizza.

I have cheese and I have hamburger.

It came out rather well. I need to use up the rest of the can of tomato sauce but this was the perfect meal for one person. I thought about making it stretch for lunch the next day, but it was too good. I'll bet I could make the meat sauce and freeze it in appropriately sized containers. Then, it would simply be a matter of grating cheese. The only part about this I really disliked was having to get down on my knees to look for the cheese grater in the bottom cupboard. That. Hurt. A. Lot.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea



This little guy has been on the south side of the house for the last couple of weeks. He's not there every day, and really, since they all look alike, it could one of his 1,429 cousins. I finally got a photo of him before he took off.

I was a good distance away from him so I'm kind of surprised the flash reflected off his eye. It makes him look like a zombie bunny.

It's also interesting that, because I had to set the lens at maximum distance, which reduces the sharpness of the images, he comes out looking a bit like a painting. He allowed me a couple of shots. This one was the best and then he left.

At least he's not this rabbit.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Long-lasting Relationships

There was a celebration today at my vet's clinic. Finally, after over a year of renovation, the new clinic space was ready for dedication and an open house. They have come a very, very long way from working in a mobile clinic because their original building was flooded to the tune of 4 feet of water, to turning a 2 year-vacant bank building into a state-of-the-art clinic. Today was the grand opening celebration and open house.

Now, I don't go to the vet much anymore. Instead of having to go every month or 6 weeks, I skipped a whole 18 months. Val had to remind me the girls need check ups. I like this whole healthy cat business where I don't have to worry about them picking anything up because they don't go outside. The worst things are Pilchard's mats and the occasional small cut on Mija's nose where Pilchard got mean. But Val insisted I come by and see the clinic so I did.

It's amazing. They kept the roof design which was one of skylights and turned the bank into a wonderfully inviting clinic. The walls are yellow and green, very complimentary. They have new equipment, digital x-rays and lab equipment, that means more things can be done in house. Instead of having to call you with x-rays, they have x-rays in 5 minutes. They have twice as much space. Every doctor has a spot for their reference books and the ability to log onto the Internet and do research while the patient is around.

There are some things that aren't completely finished. The basement is still a work in progress. They used to be able to take boarders; I boarded both Shakespeare and Betsy when I was going to be gone and they needed extra care. That's in the works. They are also considering turning what was one of the drive-through windows into a drive-through dispensary. You'd call in your pet's script and, if your pet didn't need to be seen, you could just drive through to pick up their meds. Only one other clinic in DuPage County offers that.

The building is full of natural light and that's one of the things that struck me most. Natural light is always more positive than artificial. It makes the space seem larger than it is and not claustrophobic at all.  

What really struck me was walking in the door and seeing familiar faces and having those faces say, "Oh my god! Look who's here!" I don't remember when I've been hugged so much, genuine hugs of people who know you and are glad you're visiting.

I have always liked these people. I've been coming to this clinic since Shakespeare was a kitten, that's going on 25-26 years. There is a lot to be said for having healthy pets, but I do miss knowing how everyone is and what's going on with them.

It's not often, anymore, that you establish long-term relationships with people who provide service. We are such a mobile society that we don't stay in one place long enough for the vet or the hair salon or the mechanic or the gal at the grocery get to know us. But there is a lot of value in knowing people, knowing businesses.

So, I raise a glass in toast to a new location and a new era for Animal Medical Clinic. Thanks, Val, for contacting me and "ordering" me to come.

Beverage:  Water


It's Not Just Humans

This heat wave is not good for any animal or human. My girls will go as far as the back door's threshold, sniff the hot air, turn around and go back to the living room where it's much cooler than standing on the deck waiting for me to bring the recycling can to the back or unload my car. I know of one puppy who passed away due to heat stroke. It's just not good. But I never considered wild animals.

I was sitting at my computer and heard a commotion on the deck. There was a lot of chirping. I cautiously pulled back the window covering and a robin was in the birdbath while a male and female cardinal looked on. I can only assume they were chirping, "Hey, don't use up all the water."

Well, it occurred to me that birds need a source of fresh water for drinking just the same as any other animal on this planet does. I enjoy having the birdbath on the deck. Now that birds know it's there, they use it.

The thing I have to watch, though, is it can get gross. Here's the birdbath about mid-May. Birds have been using it and leaves have blown into it. It gets dirty and slimy. The good thing about spring is the amount of rain replenishes the bath so I don't have to do it. I do need to watch how the water looks. I dumped this out in the middle of a rainstorm and the rain filled it.

So, here we are in the middle of a heat wave. I realized that birds were depending upon this for bathing and probably drinking water. I cleaned it out and refilled it with fresh tap water. Yes, there are chemicals in the water; flouride, etc.; that make it fit for human consumption but which aren't necessarily the best for birds. But, I've been told those will evaporate out of the water when it's left like this.

After cleaning, the bath looked so much nicer. I wish I could take a photo of a bird enjoying it. I'm never fast enough.

It's a cloudy day today. We received a lot of rain overnight which would have replenished this bath a couple times over with rain water. Now the temps are slated to rise again. I'm sure it's appreciated, even if they can't tell me.

Beverage:  Orange Juice


All That's Missing is the Purr

Mija loves to demand ear scratches when I'm putting on my socks in the morning. I don't know what it is. I can put everything else on and she's nowhere to be seen. The minute I sit down to put on my socks, there she is.

Today, she wanted my lap. Thankfully, I didn't have much to do so I could acquiesce to having her in my lap.

This is one happy cat. She stretched out and just lay there. I wish you could hear the purr. She's such a cuddle bug when she wants to be, which is typical cat behavior. I'll cuddle when it's what I want, not when you want to cuddle me. Pilchard is content to be next to me. Mija wants my lap. 

There are worse things in life than needing to take 10 minutes out of getting dressed to cuddle. 

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


Friday, July 22, 2011

Probably Ought to Put on the Windows

I had to go to Indiana today. While that sounds exotic; oooh, another state, given the Interstate system, it was a 90 minute drive to where I had to go. The hardest part was making sure I was driving on the right road as I'd never been to this area before today. I did what I had to do and headed back.

About 15 miles from where I had been, the sky started getting dark.
The thing is, with the sun at your back, rain clouds can look worse than they really are because sunlight is reflected off them. And, given it was a "right, "left", "right", "left", "right", to get to the main arterial, I could be driving around it. 

I had to stop for gas. I managed to not spend for things and so I had enough to purchase a half-tank of gas which is more than enough to get me home and to make it, unless I get sent other places, to next weekend when I can fill the tank after I get paid. I put in the gas and watched the clouds get more ominous. 
I still wasn't convinced, as I gassed up, that I was going to be driving into this. It's hot and humid. I want to keep the windows off. 

But as I looked around, watched the clouds and then felt an almost cold moisture laden northeast wind, I decided windows on was the better decision. When that was done, I headed north again.

This photo is blurry because I hadn't traveled more than, oh 5 miles and I hit the leading edge. The wind was ferocious, probably gusts of 35-40 mph. That rather shakes the Jeep. It got really dark, to the point that lights were needed. I crossed into Illinois and watched the storm's edge move southwest. It wasn't raining, yet. 

I drove another 10 miles before, when I got to the main road that would take me to the Interstate, I found the rain, or it found me. I slowed because the ground and sky melded into a nice gray mass. I could see the road and the taillights of the cars immediately around me, but that was about it. Waves of rain passed over us. I could feel, on a couple of occasions, the Jeep hydroplane, even at 35 mph, which was what most of us were driving. I put on 4-wheel drive. I never really felt scared even though I was in an area I did not know. I was on a 4-lane highway, going slow and I knew I was coming up on the Interstate. That meant there were overpasses where, if it got really dicey, I could pull over and just wait it out. 

I don't get why you'd want to drive 65 in this. You can barely see. I don't care if you are in a Denali, a Navigator or pulling a trailer full of lawn care equipment. You can't see any better than I can and you're kicking up a plume of water that's splashing us in the right lane. Maybe that's the point, the plume. I don't know, but I wanted to shake these people who rocketed by those of us driving cautiously in the right lane. 

Once I actually got to the Interstate and I think the blurred photo above told me I had 5 more miles to go, the heavy rain had stopped. At the junction of this road with I-80, a semi had gone straight into the grassy area at the entrance. It had obviously just happened because there was one truck driver talking to the driver of the disabled semi and no emergency vehicles there. It looked like he moved to the right and just kept going. His forward progress had been stopped by the soggy land at the clover-leaf entrance. 

We needed the rain, after days of being baked. It was interesting that, although it was a deluge and there was standing water on some of the road, it seemed to be soaking in very nicely too. Unfortunately, while there was some cooling, it didn't stay and the sun made it steamy when I got back to the office. 

I've been known, as happened a week ago Monday, to run through rain with the windows off or even the top down. Yeah, you get a bit damp but you'll dry off. When the derecho passed through, I was on the way to the office. I'm not going anywhere, so sitting in the office in damp clothes wasn't terrible. But, I decided that, because I still had at least an hour's drive ahead of me, I didn't want to be soaked to the skin. Turned out to be a very good decision. 

Beverage:  Coca-Cola


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gotta Love Friends, Even If You've Never Met Them

I'm in my office yesterday, sorting through a bunch of proposals that need writing. The boss comes into my office chuckling. He hands me a rather fat envelope from corporate that has my name on it.

"Renee sent you something," he said.

I'm not expecting anything and Renee is on vacation so I'm more than a bit surprised.

I'm feeling the contents of this envelope and I'll bet you could see the light bulb come on over my head.

"It's a candy bar!" I said, excitedly.

Indeed it was; a King Size Hershey's candy bar.

Now, it's been excessively hot. The candy bar would have been dropped Friday into the packet that comes weekly from corporate. We get it on Monday. It would have sat around in a postal facility over a warm-ish weekend and then transported in an unairconditioned postal van to our office. We just picked the packet up when we saw it on the front desk and dropped it on the boss's desk where he opened it Tuesday morning.

Yes, it had melted and solidified. But you know what, I. Don't. Care. It's chocolate. It's from Renee. It was totally unexpected. It made Tuesday so much brighter.

Now, I need to think of something to send her.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea



Pilchard's back. It's summer because she has mats. I try to comb her every day because she also has dandruff and she doesn't always groom completely back by her tail. These mats on her back were small, but if I don't get them when they are small, they will get large and that's absolutely no fun to try to comb through. 
So, twice a day, more on weekends, I get out the comb, talk soothingly and try to gently comb through the mats. She decides how much she's going to tolerate and then goes behind the plant stands in the NE corner of the living room where I can't get her. If she's in a good mood, I can comb her gently for 10 minutes. If she's not interested in the pulling, I get less than a minute of running a comb through the fur. This is followed by treats. Yes, I am not above bribery, often, in an attempt to get these mats out of her fur. 

Depending upon how much I get out determines whether and how many treats she and Mija get. Mija comes and watches because she knows there are treats after a combing. Sometimes, I run a comb over her. I don't notice her shedding as I do Pilchard except on the love seat. I need to get a large lint roller next weekend. I can tell where Mija sleeps and then I need to cover the seat with something to catch the cat hair and that can be tossed into the wash. 

Some time ago, Val gave me a large sack of these big treats. They are higher in fat so they shouldn't be given all the time. I'm low on them so I use them only when Pilchard is patient enough to let me comb out a small mat or part of a larger one. If I give her 3 or 4 of the fatty treats, she will let me comb her again in a couple of hours. If I give her the Temptations, she generally stays out of reach until she wants an ear scratching which I can combine with one or two combings. 

It's going to be a long summer of combings. She's got mats at her rear legs. Those are the hard ones to get out. The fatty treats help. At least she's amenable to letting me work on them after a couple of those. Because I got all of the mats out of her back, I'm giving her a rest for a couple days before we start in on the side. She does like her chin combed so I start there. Bribery. It works. 

Beverage: English Breakfast tea


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


A couple of friends sent emails asking for an update on my health. So, I shall oblige.

I think my left hand looks swollen still, especially in the fingers. I made an oops last month in paying bills, forgetting to pay the gas bill. I couldn't understand, when I got this month's bill, why they claimed I owed them for last month. Hadn't I paid...oops. Guess not.

So, this has meant that I needed to send them something, as I can't pay the whole bill now. That cut into my reserves meaning I had no money until I received an expense check today, to go get my Meloxicam. I toughed it out over the weekend.

What I learned is that my wrists have healed to 90%. My thumbs are at 80%. The pinky fingers are at 95%. The middle fingers, maybe 30% better. I still don't understand why both of my middle fingers hurt so badly. I didn't land on them.

My knees are 15% better. The left one is much better than the right one, but, as a whole, they are very, very, very slowly improving. The Meloxicam does work at helping me deal with the pain. It was so very hard to stand up and sit down over the weekend. If I can get up, I can get going and my knees don't hurt.  But I tire easily and have to sit down after about 45 minutes to an hour of standing.

I still have the cough from the sinus infection but the infection itself is gone. I forced myself to take the last 3 days of the antibiotic but have tried to remind myself that the next time this happens, I must tell the doctor that more than a week of these designer antibiotics cause me to be sick to my stomach within 10 minutes of taking them, with or without food. It is not pleasant. The cough is diminishing and I figure it will be contained with allergy meds or cough drops.

I'm angry at myself for screwing up my bill paying system. This is going to have a cascading effect because I have to pay this all off next month and I'm not making the overtime to do that. I'm worried that, because things are really tight right now, this will continue into next month. I was doing so well, too. I can't even find last month's bill. I have the sickening feeling it got stuffed accidentally into some junk mail and recycled.

So, life is on hold right now. I'm eating up what I can find in the fridge. I have to try to juggle some money so I can put gas in the car to drive to an installation in Indiana on Thursday. There's no money for new kitty litter or cereal until next week. And I'm out of raisins! How can I eat my weekend oatmeal without raisins?

Oh well, this is nothing I haven't dealt with before. I'll get the Meloxicam tomorrow and I'll be able to, if not jump out of bed in the morning, at least not groan when I stand up.

Beverage:  Water


Yes, sir. I Do Launder Money.

So, I'm hanging up the load of wash I did before the power went out. It's times like this that I am grateful I don't own a dryer. I don't have to worry about clothes being moldy because they can't get dry. It has taken them longer to dry on these muggy days but they do dry.

I was pulling pants out of the basket and these dollar bills fell onto the floor. So that's where they went! I don't know out of which pair of pants they came. It was either the blue or the black pair.

When we had to do inspections at the University of Chicago at the end of June, I grabbed the $5 I had left, stuffed the bills in a pants pocket, and took them along in the event I wanted a soda or something after we were done with the inspections. I never used them. I tossed the pants, with the money still in the pocket, into the wash.

Flash forward to this week and I need toothpaste before the end of the month. I cannot, for the life of me, find the $5 I swear I had but never spent. I have this terrible feeling that I put my hand in the pocket to pull out my car keys and the money fell out and I didn't notice. I hoped that it fell into the hands of someone who needed it.

Now, because I have no power and have decided to hang up the wash before it gets too dark in the basement to see, I have found my missing $5. When I go to the pharmacy tomorrow, I can buy a small tube of toothpaste and pay cash for it. This is thrilling! The clerk probably won't notice how nice and clean the bills are and they smell lavender fresh.

Beverage:  Water


What to Do When the Power Goes Out Again

I should have known things were going to be kind of dicey tonight. I left work and headed west to the pharmacy to get my Meloxicam. Half-way between the office and the pharmacy, traffic came to a complete halt. There was no visible accident and the stoplight I could see was working. That meant the blockage or whatever it was, was farther west, out of my sight. It wasn't until I got into Wheaton that the reason for traffic crawling was apparent. The stop light 5 blocks south of my house was not working. Looking at the businesses on that corner, they were all dark and people living in an apartment complex on the corner were sitting on their stoops, fanning themselves. Uh oh.

Continuing westward, I got to the pharmacy only to be greeted by a handmade sign, "Closed. No Power. Sorry." That means in the morning, I will have to dash over to the pharmacy to get my pills. I came home, did a load of wash and started hobo suppers in the oven. They'd cooked about 10 minutes and the lights flickered. Then they dimmed and then they went out. (Sigh) Ironically, I read in Monday's paper where the last two businesses without power from last week's storm had their power restored on Sunday evening. Com Ed was saying 100% restoration.

I opened the windows to let what little breeze there was flow through the house. It's warm but not broiling hot in the house. I had cut up some strawberries for supper so I ate them and just left the hobo suppers in the oven, figuring they would continue to cook even if the oven wasn't on. (The potatoes didn't get completely cooked and will have to be nuked tomorrow when I take one for lunch.)

I read the papers and scratched some ears, hung up a load of wash, but then, what to do? I think I shall start on my Christmas project. Jessie might remember this material. She was buying material to make a throw for a friend for Christmas and this was in the bin to be reshelved. I was immediately drawn to it. I knew  exactly what I could do with it. So I got a couple of yards. It's sat in the box of cloth for a couple years now. It's time to turn it into my Christmas project.

So, I spent two hours cutting. The power came back on at 8:15, two hours after it had gone off. I finished cutting what I was working on. Now I have a stack of squares. These are ready for the next step. It's supposed to be in the 90's this weekend. I have no plans to go anywhere. I can work on Step 2.

Beverage:  water


Monday, July 18, 2011

How Long Will It Last

I washed two living room rugs yesterday. Both were quite dirty. It seems like I get the rugs washed and, within a week, someone upchucks on them. I had to leave this rug on the deck railing overnight because it's quite heavy when wet and didn't dry thoroughly on Sunday. It was dry when I came home from work today. That orange spot is rust. I can't get that out.

This is the other rug. It sits in front of the love seat. There had been a spot on it, not to mention all these globs of black fur.

I'm going to see how long it before the hair accumulates to where I should wash or vacuum it. Pilchard attacked the white rug shortly after I put it on the floor. I never did understand what is so appealing about attacking a rug. All my cats have done it at some point.

There are still little blobs of black fur but the rug is completely clean. Let's see how long it looks nice.

Beverage:  Water


Last of the Big Expenditures

Other than car repairs, this is the last of the large expenditures I have for this year, unless, of course, something breaks.

I took the sampler to JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts for framing. They seem to always have some form of a sale going on. I have just not been impressed with Great Frame Up. Oh the things have been beautifully framed, but there has been a problem with each order. The first order, the guy didn't order enough of the framing material. I could not wait  so I had the multiple items framed in different colors of the same kind. He promised a discount when I came in again.

For Carole's sampler, he ordered the wrong color of frame than what I had picked. Fortunately, it was caught by an associate who ordered the right color of frame and no, when I brought up the error and how he was going to give me a discount, he convenient couldn't remember.

JoAnn is twice as far away but I was so pleased with the very personalized service the gal gave me. Plus, they are having another sale on framing. I'd like Carole's wedding invitation framed. This might be the time to do it. When I remarked on needing to see if I could afford it, the gal wrote her name and a number to call on the back of my slip. "I'll work with you. Just come to see me," she said. The thing is, even if I could afford to get the invitation framed, where the heck am I going to put it. If I solve that, then I'll go get it framed.

So, tomorrow, I will box this up and get it shipped off to Christina and Blake. I'm done cross-stitching for awhile. Time to work on my next project.

Beverage:  Water


Sunday, July 17, 2011

After a Nap

I'm standing in the kitchen with the realization that is it supper time and I really do need to cook something. I've made snack cake. I used up the rest of the frozen rolls and made a bunch of them so I can make mini ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch this week. But I really need to cook a supper, a real supper, not something scrounged that, at 9:30 p.m., I'll regret wasn't substantial. It needs to be enough for lunch tomorrow so I don't skip lunch, bad, or go buy lunch, six times bad when I can't afford my meds. I am, however, not motivated in the least.

Standing in the kitchen with the fridge door open, I was drawn to the smoked sausage I got at the beginning of the month, one of those "Buy one-get one" deals. What could I do with that?

A long time ago, I had a recipe for sausage kebobs. You alternated sausage with chunks of pineapple and peppers and baby tomatoes and basted the whole the kebobs in this wonderfully tangy mustard-based sauce. I have sausage and peppers, but no grill. If I could find the recipe, I could probably either broil the kebobs or just saute the pieces.

No luck. How hard could it be to make a mustard-based sauce? I sliced the sausage and, while it cooked, mixed honey and dijon mustard, tasting liberally to make sure I had the right amount, for me, of tangy-sweet. Once the sauce was made and the sausage cooked, I added the sauce, the diced peppers and the last of a bag of peas. I can hear Jessie now, "You put peas in everything! I'm surprised your cake didn't have peas in it." I cooked everything until the peas were hot through and there is supper.

While looking for the box of baking soda this morning, I found a box of strawberry Jell-O. Jell-O is perfect for summer meals. 

This is the last beer in the fridge. Once I get the meds on Tuesday, I shouldn't be drinking alcohol with them anyway. It seemed like a good time to finish this one off. 

So, here is tonight's toss-together supper. There's extra so I have lunch for tomorrow, except, of course, for the beer. There's none of that left. 

Beverage:  Belhaven


This Vexes Me #10 and #11.

This will be a two-fer.

I made that lemon snack cake this morning. It takes lemon juice. I have about an inch left in this big bottle but I also have one of those plastic lemons. You know them. They mass in baskets in the area where the lemon juice is. I read in Cooking Light where they are, typically, less than 50% real lemon juice. The rest being water and dubious lemon flavoring. Well, then, I want to use this up.

First of all, I'm having a problem with my hands. I have to wait until Tuesday to refill the Meloxicam so I've been toughing it out all weekend. What I just don't get about this whole problem is why the middle fingers on both hands hurt. When I hit the ground, my hands were holding onto some paper. I hit the floor on the pinky side of my hands. My wrists have hurt but they are much improved. My middle fingers, not so much and without the joint pill, I can certainly see how far I have to go before considering myself healed.

So, I had problems squeezing the lemon to get the juice out. Then I realized that this probably hadn't ever been opened, at least I couldn't remember when I had opened it. That means there's one of those plastic/paper coverings over the opening. I need to take the top off and remove that. Then I'll get lemon-like juice.

HA! Trying to get the top off of this was an exercise in extreme pain and frustration. I put it back in the fridge and got the bottle of juice. I could take it to the office and have one of the guys take off the top for me. Or, I could just leave it in the fridge until someone with working fingers comes over and ask them to do it. Maybe, by the end of the week, when I'm back on the joint pill, I'll have a better ability to get the top off and make it useable.

The next thing that vexes me is the bottle of conditioner on the right. I really, really don't like that top. It's designed to make sure the conditioner doesn't leak out between uses. I can appreciate that. But today, after washing my hair, I couldn't get any conditioner out of the bottle. Now, I know I'm down to the dregs, but it sure felt like there was still conditioner in the bottle. Again, the pain in my hands prohibited very intense squeezing but there is also no way to pop off the top, add water to the bottle and use up what might still be inside. I had a good deal on this brand of shampoo and conditioner but, given this problem, it's not worth a good deal. I rinsed out what I could and have recycled the bottle. It seems wasteful to me when I can't be certain I've got everything out of the container. 

Oh well, the next bottle of conditioner is a simple pop-up top and I can see how much is in the bottle. 

Beverage:  Grape Raspberry Juice


Cake for Brea...lun...supp...Oh Heck! Anytime!

I have not felt like cooking in any sort for a long time. This problem with my joints and then the sinus infection just sapped any desire to actually toss ingredients into a bowl and create something that wasn't reasonably immediate. Plus, not having any extra cash means making do with what you have. Then the power went out. 

Why do I have two, count 'em, two dozen eggs in the fridge? 

Today is hot and humid at 10:30. The air conditioner came on at 9:45 and I knew that, unlike yesterday when a fan kept us cool, the AC is probably going to run the better part of the day even though I keep the house at 80. What a good time to run the oven! 

Actually, I've been thinking about this cake since coming home with my food stored at Pam's. It's just a simple snacking cake and ridiculously easy to make. Since I'm low on cereal, I need to be looking for alternatives for breakfast for when the Grape Nuts are gone. Unfortunately, this cake isn't going to make it that long. 

Lemon Poppy-Seed Snack Cake has all the usual ingredients; flour, sugar, poppy seeds, and baking soda and powder. It's a low-fat cake in that you are to use non-fat milk which I consider milk flavored water so I used my usual 2%. There is also an 8 ounce container of low-fat lemon yogurt. I had purchased yogurt at the beginning of the month and a lemon variety with this cake in mind. I did not, however, look at the container size. It was 6 ounces. So, I added 2 ounces of vanilla yogurt. It also contains a cup of All-Bran and two egg whites, not the yolks. 

It's very good, very moist. The recipe suggests dusting it with powdered sugar but I'm eating it without. I will add another tablespoon of lemon juice to the recipe the next time I make it. It's not lemony enough for me. I think warmed in the morning, this, and a glass of orange juice will make a fine breakfast. If you are interested in the recipe, let me know and I can scan it and send it to you. I found it in one of my Cooking Light magazines. 

Beverage:  Grape Raspberry Juice


Wedding Trend

Since I had not been to a wedding in years, I was unaware of a trend. Bubbles instead of rice.

When I got married, rice was on its way out. It was messy to clean up, particularly if it rained. It was being replaced with bird seed. This was viewed as much better because birds would clean it up after the wedding. Unfortunately, bird seed is usually comprised of seeds that venues don't want in their carefully manicured lawns. A mixed seed is likely to contain thistle seeds. No one likes those in their lawns although finches love them.

I've heard of people tossing flower petals but I think those also get nasty if it's rainy and would take awhile to decompose.

Both Carole and Christina handed out bubbles at their weddings. In addition to being easier to clean up, if there are a lot of bubbles, you can just hose down the walk, they are much more fun. Here we are at Carole's wedding. You can't really see the bubbles. I think there was just enough of a breeze that they were going toward Phil and Niles on the right.

It's definitely fun.

Now I have 3 containers of bubbles to use up. Wonder if the cats would be curious?

Beverage:  Orange Juice


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Of Course I Would Celebrate

Today is National Ice Cream Day.

Oberweis Vanilla Ice Cream. Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce, walnuts, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles and maraschino cherries. 

Beverage:  None


The Things We Find Impressive

I know you're looking at the photo and wondering, what the...? This is a loading dock I had to inspect on Thursday. "So," you say, "What is so profound about this?"

It's clean. It's spotless. It doesn't smell. You could probably eat off the floor, it's that clean.

I have been in loading docks all around the Chicagoland area. Some are tidy. Most are what you would expect, clean, but have the hustle and bustle of deliveries. Some are downright "ewww". They are the kind where I contemplate burning my shoes after having to inspect them, when you hope that sticky spot on the floor is residual soda and not something else, where the rats won't even go.

This was the exact opposite.

Doug and I walked into this room and were amazed. It was spotless. The building engineer followed us in and accepted our compliments. "I like it clean. What can I say?" It took us a few minutes to get going because we were quite speechless.

Not every place could keep their loading dock as clean as this, but I am going to remember this one.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Boy Toy

I was standing on the corner with a bunch of guys next to Michigan Avenue on Thursday. We were discussing this project and what Doug and I needed to get done. One of the guys said, "Oh man. Take a look at that," and then he rattled off the make, model and year of the above vehicle.

I'm impressed by how good it looks just because the owner obviously gives it a bath more than I wash my Jeep. And I do like the color. I've always been dismayed that car colors aren't "colorful". I remember Henry Ford's comment, "They can have any color so long as it's black." As our cars tend to be extensions of our psyche, the fact that the predominant colors on the road seem to be black, white and silver doesn't, to me, say much about us.

Soooo, okay, it's a red car and it's an older model that's been cared for. To me, it's not drool-worthy, but I present this photo for those for whom it is drool-worthy. I would imagine the owner would want you to drool from the sidewalk and not next to the car.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


The Last of the Weddings

I don't remember where I either heard or read it, but I came across the comment that people could tell how old you are by where you stand in a card shop.

It starts when you're old enough to send your own cards. Those would be birthday, Mother's and Father's Day cards. Then, when you get into high school, you'll add wedding cards to that list. College continues the wedding cards and you start having the baby congratulations and the christening cards. About this time, there might be a small spate of sympathy cards as the elders of families pass away. Birthday cards become milestone cards and you start sending graduation cards to the children you have watched grow up. They start getting married and you are now adding wedding cards baby cards and the cycle continues.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I hadn't been to a wedding in years. This year, between May 21st and June 25th, I had three. It was quite the month. The last one, on June 25th, was for my co-worker and friend, Jon. His wedding to Deb was held at Villa Olivia Country Club and Banquet Facility.

It was a perfect day. Although overcast, the temperatures were in the upper 70's. There was a light breeze. It was a very small wedding, with around 50 people. Jon and Deb have known each other a couple of years.

I'd never been to Villa Olivia. I've driven by it dozens of times. I was very impressed with what they did for the wedding. The banquet hall, located adjacent to where the vows were exchanged, was decorated very nice.

They had a dance floor where people danced for a couple of hours before things wound down at 4. Although they didn't get started on time, the wedding flowed smoothly. The food was okay. I thought it was over sauced and my vegetables were overcooked. I had a very nice time.

So now it's back to my usual forgetting of birthdays. I thought if I wrote names on the calendar, I'd remember, but that didn't happen. Plus, to my chagrin, I had a friend's birthday on the wrong day. Thank goodness for Facebook. All these years, she's probably wondered why my card has been, roughly, two weeks late, that is, when I remember to send a card.

It's been wonderful to be a part of this major event for my daughter, my niece and my friend. Weddings are a headache and a half to plan and execute and things don't always go exactly how one hopes. In the end, what I hope they will remember is how many people cared to come and celebrate with them. I hope they look back on the day as one of the best in their lives.

Now to write the dates on the calendar so I can send anniversary cards.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Friday, July 15, 2011

For Sightseeing?

I had to be in the city yesterday at a job along Michigan Avenue. At one point, I had to wait for a guy so it gave me a chance to people watch. This is prime people watching time in Chicago. Vacations are in full swing and Michigan Avenue is one of the prime vacation spots in the city. Even if you never buy anything other than a Coke and a candy bar, just walking up and down the street is exciting. Of course, walking is a bit painful for me, as is standing for long periods of time, but it was a gorgeous morning, perfect to be in the city. (Now, the smell from Dunkin Donuts on the next block east should be considered cruel and unusual punishment when you don't have extra cash.)

It's clear what people are tourists and what people live in Chicago. These were tourists because they had a map and were standing at the corner with their map, pointing in several directions. What I want to know is why, why on earth you would wear shoes like these when you're going to be walking?

Is there something I'm missing?

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Slightly Amusing

As I was driving to the doctor's office 10 days ago, the city was repainting the stripes in the street. The site of the cones in perfect alignment stuck me as slightly amusing. It looked like they were marching down the street. I always have my camera with me now, since it's small enough to fit into my purse or a pocket.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Remember to Check Your Dry Cleaning

Mom and I are sitting at a table at Christina's wedding in June. She's been fussing with her dress off and on all evening. She finally turns to me and asks, "Do you have a safety pin? I really don't like how low the front of this goes."

Remember "Let's Make a Deal"? Monty Hall would point at someone with a purse or bag and say, "Do you have a 5/16th inch wrench in there?" People used to bring everything including the kitchen sink just to be able to pull whatever was asked out of their purse.

While I'm not that bad, I do, sometimes, have the oddest things in my purse. At the time they were put into the bag, they were important. Then I forget to remove them and they run around with me for 3 to 4 months before I finally remove them for lack of space.

Safety pins probably are the kind of thing I should always have in my purse. You never know when some article of clothing will break or rip and having a safety pin saves the day. Well, of course, I didn't have any in my purse. I emptied the whole thing, much to the amusement of everyone at the table. Then, as I was considering where there might be one, I felt this bump at the side seam of the jacket. Viola. These tags help dry cleaners match your ticket to the clothing item. Generally, smart people remove these tags before they wear the article of clothing again. I checked the hem of the dress. There was the matching tag. In the dark at the reception, I removed both.

As it turned out, we couldn't figure out a way to pin shut the top of mom's dress. Since it was the reception, dark and no one was really paying attention, mom just made sure, when she sat down, that things were properly organized.

I took the outfit to the cleaners when I got home. I didn't wear the dress to Jon's wedding later in the month as my knees were acting up and I felt I couldn't walk in the shoes that go with the outfit. I did, however, remove the tags when I got the pieces back from the cleaners. Actually, those are very nice safety pins. I use them in my sewing projects.

And yes, you have my permission to look me over to make sure I've remembered to remove any and all tags.

Beverage: English Breakfast tea


My Chair

I'm not a dog person. Dogs are fine as long as they belong to someone else. My mom's husband loves dogs. In the time that they have been married, he's had Maggie, George and I think one other.

When I went there in June for my niece's wedding, Buddy was the newest addition to the family.

That's not a dog, that's a horse.

He is the sweetest thing, loves everyone dearly and wants to be your friend. He's beautiful but sheds almost worse than Pilchard. He is also a pound rescue. Dale wouldn't think of going anywhere else.

It also appears he likes to have his picture taken.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Photos Have Arrived

I received my order on Wednesday.

They are lovely and come in a very nice container designed to make sure they don't get bent. I appreciate that. These are 4x6 and I know, somewhere, I have an album I can use just for these. I intend, over the next months to get more but this was all I could afford at the time to use the money off coupon I received. I need an 8x10 for my living room wall. I've worked overtime this month so perhaps, once all the bills are paid, I can get one.

I look back through these and it seems years ago and then it feels like just last week.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Advertising

Two weeks ago, I was in Chicago at the University of Chicago, working. As the Bernard Mitchell Hospital is close to the university, it's not uncommon to hear their helicopter arriving or departing. During the late morning, there was a drone of an aircraft that wasn't a helicopter.

I have no idea what the banner is. East of the University is the 57th street/ Museum of Science and Industry beach along Lake Michigan. I'm sure that's where the airplane was destined. It circled the university 4 times before disappearing. Each time, it was headed from north to south and you couldn't read the banner.

We don't see these things in the suburbs. This seems to be strictly a Chicago and, more importantly, a beach thing in the summer. It's interesting to see what is deemed worthy to be hauled behind an airplane. Occasionally, you'd see sky-writing but that seems to have died out.

One thing we do see in the western suburbs are the blimps.

This is the MetLife blimp and it was out over the beaches near 47th street and Lake Shore Drive. Blimps are usually stored at the DuPage Airport which is straight west of me. I can remember seeing the Goodyear Blimp with its scrolling screen on the underside of the blimp, flying over the house at midnight. Blimps have a distinctive sound so, if you know what you're listening for, you know it's a blimp. They used to give rides when they were in town, too, but I don't know that they do anymore. I haven't heard a blimp fly over the house in a couple of years. Those are impressive since they don't fly all that high. My luck, they will fly over when I'm in the middle of a World of Warcraft raid.

Beverage: English Breakfast tea


Fascinating in an "Ewww" Sort of Way

This is the wall between the front door and the front windows. Never mind about the cobwebs. At this time of year, I am sweeping cobwebs off everything and two days later, some tiny spider the size of the period at the end of the sentence, has built a web in the exact space. Add a shedding black cat and I'm removing cobwebs festooned with cat hair from the same spot sometimes twice a day.

But this post isn't about cobwebs. The last weekend in June, someone tossed their lunch in the middle of the night. I think it was Mija because, when I jumped out of bed to clean it up, she was the one who ran. They don't seem to understand I'm not mad at them. It happens. I just need to clean it up before it hardens into something I'll need a hammer and chisel to get off the floor.

I couldn't find it. I didn't see any place on the floor where there was a pile of something. So, I assumed it was dry heaves and went back to bed. Meh, it happens.

Sunday, June 26th, I'm seated at the table in the living room, eating breakfast and reading a newspaper. Out of the corner of my eye I see something moving on the windowsill. It's an ant but it's not just any ant, it's a whole army of ants. I follow them to the right and they are going off the windowsill, down the side of the wall and out of the house between the door and the threshold. My first instinct was to grab the ant killer and spray the heck out of them. I don't want any ants in the house and certainly not what appears to be a whole colony marching across the windowsill in the living room.

But, I decided to see where they were going. I followed them to the left and there, on the windowsill, was what had been upchucked. Ants were all over it. Yes, that is certainly an "ewww" moment, but it was also kind of fascinating. Some of the debris had missed the sill and had fallen on the floor and ants were all over that as well. I decided to let them clean it up to see just how thorough they would be and how fast this would take them. Man did that take self-restraint.

Every time I walked into the living room, I checked on their progress. It took them 3 days, working around the clock, but by Wednesday evening, June 28th, the piles had been reduced to a couple of small items that were too hard to break down. The ants were gone, no trace that they had even been in the house. I have since washed the area where the trails were as well as the area where Mija tossed her supper. I was quite amazed by their thoroughness.

Now, I wouldn't do that if the ants had been in my kitchen. In fact, I've found them in dishes in the sink and immediately, I spray and clean. The kitchen is NOT the place for ants. This was different and it was fascinating to see them at work. I have not seen an ant in the living room since so I'm not worried they have scouts looking for the next meal. I'll still clean something up as soon as I find it. It was fun once, but not a second time.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea


I Don't Have the Patience

I'm not sure how many of you poke around in the "Blogs I Read" to the right. One of them, Craft, had a link to a web site where they showed you how to make these cookies. These are sugar cookies with icing piped to look like crochet granny squares. This qualifies as awesome in my book. I could make the sugar cookies but I certainly don't have the patience to do the icing, particularly not in this huge variety of colors.

I am always amazed at how creative some people are. If you are interested in reading the instructions and then sending me a dozen cookies, head over to this blog, Sugar & Meringue. I have added a link to the main page in my "Blogs I Read". I think this is one blog I'm going to enjoy reading.

Beverage:  English Breakfast tea