Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Quilts, Cats And A Helicopter

Took my first quilting class last night and produced the two blocks on the left, which are tacked to the wall in my office. I have to produce nine more of these by next Monday night. I'm hooked. These are practice fabrics; the ones I chose for my quilt are much brighter colors.

Had to go to Auburn today to get the oil changed on my Prius so went to another quilt store up in Auburn to see about their classes; I'm not going to be around for the next two Joann's classes so I decided I needed to go elsewhere. Auburn is the same distance as Roseville where Joann's is located. I also bought a wheeled bag so I can take my own sewing machine to the classes. I had to use one provided by the store last night. It was pretty high tech; I had a helluva time figuring out how to fill the bobbin and thread the machine.

The Cabin Fever Quilt Shoppe in Auburn is also cheaper than Joann's. For $60 I got two three-hour classes at Joann's. I get four three-hour classes at Cabin Fever for the same price and those classes are during the day. I'm not too alert at 9 p.m. at night.

The second picture is just to update you on the cats. Nora is the cat looking back over her shoulder. Georgio is the one on the right. Watching them is better than summer reruns on TV. I'm not sure what they do during the night, but I do know that come early morning, just before sun-up, they start tearing around the house and right over us in bed. Georgio likes to howl to greet the day. Nora has stopped to bite my feet as she passes over me. They toppled a plant of mine the other day, spilled dirt all over the carpet, ate some leaves and then both threw up; not on the carpet, however. Good kitties. They are best of buds; she still loves to groom him whether he wants it or not. The top level of the condo is the prized one so both try to squeeze in.

Now for the helicopter; my son, Mark, and his hiking buddy, James, had to be rescued by helicopter last Friday. They were hiking in the Cascades northeast of Bellingham, WA. They got to a point where they just couldn't go any further (I'm still not sure why but I trust their judgments) so used their satellite phone (yeah) to call someone. I've heard the story several times, and I'm still not sure who contacted the sheriff. Anyway, Kerry's sister Joanne, who lives just south of Bellingham, played an important role in their rescue. They had a GPS so could tell the Chelan County sheriff exactly where they were. A paramedic was on the flight just in case, but no one needed any help. Joanne then drove 3-1/2 hours to Lake Chelan to pick them up; now that's a good lady (but we already knew that). Then she drove them to the trail head the next day so James could pick up his car.

This was Mark's second helicopter ride; last time he had fallen 30 feet while rock climbing and had to be airlifted to the closest trauma center in Denver. He broke his back in two places and the right side of his pelvis. Luckily he had no paralysis. I hope his third ride is just for pleasure.

So that's life here in the country. I see my doctor tomorrow about my rotator cuff. It really hurts. I wonder if I can quilt with my arm in a sling; betcha I can.
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Friday, July 27, 2007

The Importance Of Labeling Frozen Foods

We always have meat in the freezer. Yesterday I pulled out a Ziploc bag that looked like it contained Chateaubriand. I had been listening to a Patricia Cornwell's book while I was on the treadmill sweating my way through 40 minutes. She was marinating beef in whisky and honey. Sounded good so I pulled the beef from the freezer (no label) filled the Ziploc bag with whisky, courtesy of Turtle Doug when he quit drinking, added honey, crushed garlic and some lite soy sauce. I rolled it around and set it in the refrigerator. When it was time for dinner, Kerry barbecued the beef and I made a huge salad with lots of organic lettuce, spinach, tomatoes from our neighbors garden and avocado. We sat down to eat, each of us sliced through the beef, put that slice in our mouths and chewed and chewed and chewed. It was then that I realized that it was a piece of beef that would have been better in the crock pot; same ingredients just a longer time to cook. I managed to work my way through about half of mine; I just kept thinking about my jaw muscles and the workout they would get. Helps to keep the jowls from sagging. The salad was great. So, I've learned a lesson about labeling what you freeze. I stole the photo from Google Images.
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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tagged By Dykewife

I'm supposed to list eight things about myself; here goes.

  1. I was born and raised in a suburb of Minneapolis, MN in an extremely dysfunctional family.
  2. I'm the oldest in my family. My sister is four years younger (she's a trainer for the Federal Reserve in Minneapolis) and my brother (he's general counsel for the largest maker of mozarella cheese in the world) is 11 years younger. He lives in Evergreen, CO
  3. I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in jouralism; my first job was writing for Feedstuffs and Feedlot.
  4. I lived and worked in Europe as a reporter for three years; the publication I worked for was sort of the National Enquirer for the U.S. military. I've been thrown off a lot of U.S. bases in Europe. That's where I learned to swear.
  5. I married my husband twice; I'm a slow learner. I divorced him in 1994 and have never looked back.
  6. My son is 32 and the light of my life; he plays trumpet with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and this summer with the Santa Fe Opera Company.
  7. I spent many years in corporate America until I started my own business in 1995. The motto for my business: "Developing community, environmental and political support for your business goals." My son supplied the short version: I suck up for a living. Being your own boss is a very heady experience.
  8. I'm retired and loving it

Dykewife took all the bloggers I would have tagged so if you read this and want to join in, be my guest.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Taj Mahal Of Litter Boxes

Cleaning a litter box is never fun, but with two cats it's even less desirable. Our friends George and Beverly have one of these for their cat. I went on line, found it, ordered it on sale with no shipping and today Kerry put it together. Now we just have to wait and see if it works. It has a cover complete with charcoal filter but I want to be able to see that it is working and not combing right over a cat. I love the little ramp; that carpet is probably what our carpet looked like when it was new. Gotta keep those dainty little paws clean.
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In the past few months I've listened to two books on CD that were about quilting; both fiction. One was "The Sugar Camp Quilt" and the other "Circle of Quilters." Jennifer Chiaverini is the author of both. As I listened to each of them I kept thinking about making a quilt. The whole thing sounds so peaceful; the perfect thing to do in retirement. So I've signed up for a quilting class at Joann's Fabrics. I got my supply list and have chosen the colors for my first quilt. I'm thinking of them more as art than as bedcovers.

The books have helped me get familiar with some of the terms and also some of the various ways people quilt. There seems to be a disagreement (that may be too strong a word) between quilters who machine quilt and those who hand quilt. All I know is that I reserved a sewing machine for the class. I have one at home, but it's not something I want to lug to class each time.

So Monday night I begin with a three-hour class. The second and final class is on Wednesday in the evening. I'm really looking forward to it. If I like it then I can go on to the intermediate level.

I love spending time in fabric and yarn stores. It's like returning to the womb; very comfortable. I sure would like to find bloggers who quilt. Anyone out there?
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Monday, July 23, 2007

It's Good To Be A Cat At Our House

They pretty much have the run of the house now. At first they weren't too sure about leaving the confines of my office. We opened the door, they sniffed the tile floor that connects my office to the rest of the house, moved forward a few steps and then raced back to their cat condo.

Georgio, lying on Nora' back legs, is much more of an adventurer; he's also the noisemaker of the bunch, which is why in the middle of the night last night they got closed in my office.

I got up from a nap and found them in the sitting room curled up like this. They look so sweet.

This morning Georgio was trying to hurl a hairball while Nora was lying on top of him trying to give him a bath. Not sure if the hairball ever came up but Nora did not stop doing what she loves to do to Georgio.

Haven't done much today except feel a great sense of relief, read and nap. It's 100 outside right now so I'm definitely not going there any time soon. I'm feeling a bit bored, which is certainly better than what I felt yesterday at this time...scared. I'll take bored over scared any day of the week.

So that's all for now folks; just taking it easy and enjoying life.
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Good News

Thank you everyone for your good thoughts, energy and prayers. They x-rayed my left breast from every possible angle and squeezed it til it hurt but the doctor liked my x-ray and said I wouldn't have to come back for another year. Yippee. We immediately went to Waffle Barn for breakfast. I'm going back to bed; didn't sleep much last night so I'm exhausted. Again, thank you.

Friday, July 20, 2007

An Unsettling Phone Call

Earlier this week I had a mammogram; I was right on schedule. I got home and told Kerry that I would be getting one of those postcards in the mail saying everything was just fine.

Well, I didn't. Instead I just got a phone call from the radiology department at Kaiser; they want to do another mammogram on my left breast. My stomach dropped to my toes. My heart is thumping away in my chest right now. I have very fibrous breasts which always makes it difficult to get an accurate picture of what's going on in there. I had this happen once before when I was in my early 40s; it turned out to be nothing. I hope that's the case this time. I have an appointment on Monday at 9 a.m.

Between now and then I'm going to be more than a bit nervous. So I'm the one calling for energy, prayers or whatever you believe in. I'll let you know what happens on Monday. I guess the universe got Dykewife and her family a place to live and Rhonda's mother is doing just fine so now it's someone else's turn.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Surprise Visit

My son Mark and his climbing friend and fellow musician James (he has a bumper sticker that says "opera, the other live music") arrived Wednesday morning about 1 a.m. They had been climbing in the eastern Sierra down near Bishop, CA when Mark got sick. Climbing at 14,000 feet takes a lot out of one even when you are healthy. He asked if they could come here. It was perfect because July 18th is his birthday. Those of you with grown children know how rare it is to get to spend a birthday with your offspring. I made a donation to Oxfamamerica in his name. The donation was at the cow level.

James, he plays the clarinet, left the next morning to go visit his grandmother and parents in Santa Cruz, CA and then to head for Seattle where he and Mark will rendezvous this Sunday for a trek through the northern Cascades. Mark flew home to recuperate and to play in the Santa Fe Opera production of La Boheme this weekend. I also think he wanted to see his girlfriend Robin on his birthday.

The day after the opera performance he flies to Seattle to meet James. They will get some help from Kerry's sister Joanne who lives near where they want to climb. They want to leave a car at one end of the trail head and then get dropped at the other end, or something like that. Joanne will help with that. They also will probably spend a night with Kerry's other sister Susan and her husband Gary.

Tonight is my Knit Wits group. We meet once a month at someones home to knit, laugh, nibble goodies and have a glass of wine. So that's it for now.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Belly Dancing In The Woods

This photo should get me a few hits. We camped last night at our friends place up near Boonville, CA. Usually we only go there for Memorial Day Weekend but Steve was celebrating his 60th birthday so we went to the party which was complete with live music and a belly dancer.

The belly dancer has been a Memorial Day camper for many years but none of us had ever seen her do her thing. She is very good. The best part; her body is not skinny. She has flesh on her bones, which I always think will be a plus if I ever get seriously ill. I will recover more quickly than those skinny minnies who have nothing on which to fall back.

Everyone brought Steve special presents: belly dancing, the band, origami cranes forming a small mobile around a bottle of Sin Zin produced locally; a hand cranked lantern to use when the power is out and so is the sun (they live off the grid) and many more. One fellow rode his motorcycle from Nova Scotia to Boonville to help Steve celebrate. His wife, I think quite wisely, flew into San Francisco, was picked up by friends and driven to the party. I made Steve homemade bread and butter pickles.

He is a fan of my pickles. In years past I've used my bumper crop of crook neck squash to make sweet pickles for him. I didn't grow any squash this year so I took store-bought cucumbers and made the pickles. I used the sugar/splenda combo to help reduce the calories and carbs. I made enough for Kerry and me too. We should be able to eat them in about a week.

On our 8-hour round trip drive to the party and back we listened to Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma." We've listened to five discs so far; eight more to go. The first several discs are about corn and its implications for the health of our planet. It was shocking. Right now lots of people immediately think of ethanol when they think of corn. Well, it takes a whole lot of oil to make ethanol so it's not the panacea to the energy crisis that the current administration is purporting. Also, corn fed beef is not good for the beef or for us. Beef cattle are not meant to eat corn that's why they are given antibiotics to keep them healthy. From birth to the slaughterhouse takes only 14 months. I highly recommend the book for the CD version.

Turtle Doug's estranged wife is the founder and CEO of Laura's Lean Beef; I'm going to make a point to buy it from now on. The cattle are allowed to graze, eat grass and gain weight the old-fashioned way without antibiotics and hormones. The web site for the beef is www.laurasleanbeef.com I'm not ready to give up beef but I just don't want all that extra stuff thrown in.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Critter Update And A Thunderstorm

We woke up this morning to the sound of thunder and raindrops. For many of you that's a normal experience in July. In California it never rains in the summer. We didn't get a lot of it but it's sure cooler outside and the air is a bit cleaner.

Nora and Georgio are doing very well (she's eating and he's drinking in the photo). We've even caught them eating at the same time from the same dish. She is still the alpha cat; Georgio doesn't seem to mind. She loves to clean him. But each cleaning is punctuated with her opening her mouth as wide as she can and then biting him. He just lays there know that this is part of the cleaning process. I've seen him groom her a few times but it's pretty rare.

This morning they were both in the coveted top part of the cat condo. He was in back and she was in front. I suspect he was there first, she jumped up and he moved back to accommodate her. I went to pet her, she backed up and he fell out of the back. We moved them into my office to give them more space and human company plus they can watch the bird feeders.

Kerry is still working with his organization consultant so he has kept the door to his office closed; they don't like that. Georgio will sit and howl outside the door; he's really a talker. She purrs and he talks. I've never heard him purr.

I've been on pins and needles for the last two weeks what with Tent Pegs (aka A Girl and her Laptop) being critically ill with sepsis, Dykewife waiting to find out if her family got the housing they want and Creamy Silver waiting to find out if she is pregnant after her insemination. The universe is a bit out of balance right now. Tent Pegs (aka Amanda) really worries me. This morning the news was not good. She had a very tough night and is not doing very well. She's a quadriplegic which complicates everything. Right now she's in a coma, on dialysis and getting a ton of drugs and breathing treatments to pull her through this. She made it through the sepsis treatment and her lab work has been improving but still she is critically ill. Her family posts to her blog almost every day. I check that blog first thing in the morning. I'm afraid there will be bad news but I can't not read it.

So if anyone has any extra energy lying around, Tent Pegs, Dykewife and Creamy Silver could sure use some. I'm sending what I have.
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Friday, July 06, 2007

The Power Is Out And It's 102 Degrees

I got home from a meeting, pushed the garage door opener button in my car and nothing happened. I pushed several more times; nothing happened. I cursed the spider that I thought had built a nest somewhere in the recesses of the opener. So I parked in the driveway, walked to the house, opened the door and was met by very still air that was at that point 85 degrees.

It's amazing what you can't do when there is no power. We live in the country so our well couldn't pump; that means no flushing of toilets (if it's brown flush it down; if it's yellow let it mellow), no using of faucets and gathering bottled water from the garage.

I get very claustrophobic when it's warm and the air isn't moving. I tried to read but kept feeling like the room was closing in. Kerry came home fairly soon and we devised a plan. Our utility said the power would be back on by 8:30 p.m. I would never last that long so we headed out for dinner. Chili's was packed to the gills with refugees from the outage. We ate at the bar; but still it was only 7 :30 p.m. The sun wouldn't go down for an hour. We talked about going to the Galleria and walking around. We both hate the Galleria so that didn't seem like a good idea. I called our friend Jan; she had power so we headed over there. It was heaven to just veg out with a friend who had power. Thank you Jan.

We finally headed for home about 9:30. As we drove up our street we noted some lights in other houses and hoped we were on the same circuit. As luck would have it, we were. I'm typing this now because we have power. Thank goodness. I could handle a power failure in the winter much better than in the summer.

Turns out there was a grass fire which burned something electrical. There were 6,000 customers out of power. So I'm back and very happy to be here.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Heat Is Just Plain Awful

It's 109 degrees F. here right now on our front porch. July is always the worst month for heat; it's certainly starting out with a bang. It's supposed to be 100+ for the next ten days. Needless to say, our air conditioning is on. I can just hear the meter going "kaching, kaching" as the electric utility makes big bucks off those of us who have air. Mind you, I'm thankful to have air. Last July our electric bill for July was $600.

The heat just sucks the energy out of me. It hasn't done a thing to the cats. They sleep, eat, poop and pee, and play regardless of the temperature.

We are now into twice a day watering. The birds don't sing when it's this hot. I can hardly wait for the sun to go down. I don't like the fact that I want the day to end. Each day should be treasured and enjoyed but 109 just doesn't help. In fact I'd like the whole month of July to go away right now.

Not too much happening here. We had ten straight days of house guests. My son and his girlfriend left on Wednesday morning. Kerry and I went back to bed after we got home from the airport; we slept for three hours. Then we napped later in the day. I think I'm finally caught up; I woke up at 5 a.m. today and never went back to sleep.

Well, this is a pretty boring post but that's all I have to say at the moment.

Same Dragonfly; Just A Different View

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tent Pegs Is Critically Ill

I am incredibly sad; one of our own is gravely ill with sepsis after an operation on her foot. This is compounded by the fact that she is a quadriplegic. But she is young so I'm hoping that her body will pull her through once again.

She hasn't been a blogger that long, but I looked for her witty, sometimes sarcastic but always (once in a while she was a little grumpy) upbeat comments every day. She has had some hard times in the brief period I've been reading her. I learned of this turn-for-the-worse this morning when I got an e-mail from her family. She's not blogging so that's how we get updates on her condition.

This is the part of blogging that I had not considered when I began my journey on the net. I never thought I would care about the people whose lives are lived out on my computer screen; people I've never met. There are many of you, like Tent Pegs (aka Amanda), that I have come to care about. I worry when Dykewife isn't posting; will Creamy Silver get pregnant; what great photo of her dog will Dooce post and what will her monthly letter to her 41 month old daughter contain. I am connected to all of these people and many more. So many people say that the internet is impersonal; well, I beg to differ.

So there is a young woman in a hospital in Calgary, Canada who is gravely ill. She is one of us even though she can't post now. Send energy or whatever you believe in; she will hopefully make good use of all of our good thoughts for her.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Dragon Flies From Lincoln

This picture is for Dykewife. She loves dragon flies. A colleague of mine loves to take pictures of them. This is his most recent. It's a blue dasher dragon fly.
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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Introducing Nora And Georgio

Picture One: Georgio
Picture Two: Nora
Picture Three: Georgio
Picture Four: Nora

Nora has lighter markings; she's also smaller.

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