Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in Review

I can honestly say I will be glad to start a new year. With Max's surgery, Grandma Mary V.'s death, and the economy tanking, this hasn't been a great year. On top of that, Mary V's eldest son fell down the stairs on Christmas eve and refused to go to the hospital until Monday, when they found he had a broken neck. Not a good year.

However, we did have a good garden year, a new greenhouse, a refi on the house to get enough equity out to build a new garage (this spring/summer), and the driveway got pulled up and redirected with new stone down. So, it wasn't a total bust.

Enjoy the following video, and be sure to click on the 'View in HD' link at the bottom right of the image. Have a happy and safe New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One inch at a time...

LOVE this video, hope you like it, too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The FUNNIEST thing I've heard in a long time...

I was in the cafeteria on the campus I work at for breakfast this morning. I was standing there, waiting for my bagel to finish toasting. There was a student standing about 6 feet away. Big, burly in a muscular way (not fat), nice suit and tie. He had a Marine high & tight haircut. He had a bag over his shoulder, probably had a laptop in it.

Another guy came up, they obviously knew each other and I assume they were in the same class.

The burly guy pointed at what was on the table in front of him.

Burly: "Is that a banana?"
Guy: "Yes! Take one!"

I still can't believe it.....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chilly, warmish Wednesday

Nothing much going on, so I thought I'd write a boring update post.

Going to an Ergonomics workshop at work this afternoon. Should be interesting.

Max is doing well, no problems. His eye is a little more cloudy than it had been but I'm blaming it on the cooler weather. He's sleeping a lot more, and he may be a bit depressed so we're trying to play with him more. We took him down to the campus I work at to run around a few weekends ago, and maybe we'll do it again this weekend.

Matthew has been on call every third day which wreaks havoc with planning anything. He's had to run out on quite a few calls, too. I hate this time of year because of that.

Nothing selling on Etsy, I'm going to be probably using it primarily as an online portfolio. I'm also planning on approaching some local shops soon. I've made a portfolio to put jewelry in to take to shops.

Christmas is slim this year, of course. Some handmade stuff thrown in for good measure.

And that's about it. Hope you are having a more exciting December! The picture is of the Natural Bridge in Virginia, which we visited back at the end of September.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Draft Dodgers

I learned this from dear old dad. One of my chores as a kid was to help him seal up the windows for winter. This is a great tip for those of you who live in northern climate, and it really REALLY makes a difference in drafty older houses. It is also great to do with the kids.

Go to your local fabric store and buy some of the cording they use in upholstery. It is white, very flexible and looks woven. It may come in various thicknesses, and you may need to experiment to find the right size for your windows.

Now, take a thin flathead screwdriver and start pushing the cord into the gaps around your windows (see left). It is time consuming and a little tedious, make sure you have some fun, loud music on while you do this. It helps time go by faster.

Some of the gaps around our windows are too tight for cording, but still let cold air into the house. In this case, we purchased something called Fingertip Rope Caulk (my dad calls it 'rope putty'). It has the consistency of thick play dough. I get mine at Lowes, one pack lasts me a couple years or so and costs around $4.50.

This is where the kids come in. You want to press this stuff into the cracks that are really thin, and their little fingers can be great for this. They (or you) really need to press, though, to make a good seal (so be sure to check their work).

I also use cotton balls where necessary to fill in the deep tracks where the windows ride up and down.

In the end, though, you have nice, sealed windows for winter. We have seen a noticable difference in our drafty older house.

One tip, though: when the weather starts to warm up don't wait too long to take out the putty. In the heat, it can get really messy. You want to take it out while it is still relatively cool.

We actually leave some of our windows sealed through the summer. There are some windows we just never open, and this method keeps the heat out, too, thereby keeping our cooling bills lower, too!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I'm pretty sure I cracked a tooth.

Calling the dentist tomorrow; stay tuned.

Update: they can't fit me in until Thursday, so I'm hitting up the Advil pretty good. Didn't hurt at all this morning, though. They did say I may have bruised a tooth ligament. Teeth have ligaments?

Second Update: Pain went away on Monday during lunch. I have no idea what is going on. The gum is still a little tender, like I cut it. I'm still going to the dentist, though, because I want to know for sure what the H is going on.

Final (?) Update: We're going with inflamed tooth ligament, so that's good. No unpleasent procedures.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Six random facts about me

Tim tagged me, so here's the scoop. I really don't have anyone to tag, but if YD wants to take this and run, she can be my guest.

Random fact #1

I wanted to be an archaeologist from the time I was 3. I made it through until I was 20 and in college decided to change my major from Anthropology to Sociology. Anthro just seemed to be too voyeuristic. I was raised as a white middle-class female in the most affluent country in the world. You can’t sell me on the possibility of me going to (for example) Papua New Guinea, spending 2 years there and then suddenly proclaiming ‘I understand why they do that!’ Nope. Sorry. Not buying.

Random fact #2

I have a half sister. Somewhere.

Random fact #3

I had 3 of my wisdom teeth removed with only local anesthesia. I was awake for the whole thing. I wouldn’t recommend it, but every time I get scared about something I just say to myself: If I could do that I can do anything.

Random fact #4

I took horseback riding lessons for 6 years when I was a kid. I never really did anything with it. Two interesting things happened, though. I got kicked in the face by a horse once. A car backfired and scared the horse as I was leading it out of the ring and it reared up and his left front hoof caught me on the back swing. One inch higher and it would have taken out my right eye. I was very lucky it didn’t break my cheekbone, but I had only a black eye for a week or so.

Got kicked in the head by a horse. It explains a lot!

I also fell off a horse a few times. The one that still amazes me was the time the horse stopped dead right in front of a jump. I flew over the horses head and landed in front of the horse….in front of the jump…….with the reigns still in my hands…….and…….wait for it……..….I landed on my feet. I wish I had it on tape, it must have been incredibly funny. Then again, Christopher Reeves did the same thing but had another outcome.

Random fact #5

I spent about 3 years of my childhood on rollerskates, at least while I wasn’t at school or in the house. Sometimes in the house, too. I was pretty good at it, and fast. I attribute my leg muscles to that and horseback riding.

Random fact #6

I have a habit of collecting quotes. Right now on my bulletin board at work, I have the following:

Anger blocks intelligence
Superheros are disastrous for humankind. – Frank Herbert 1980
Marshall’s Generalized Iceberg Theorem: 7/8ths of everything can’t be seen
Beware of the left, for they will bankrupt you; beware of the right, for they will kill you.
When people start looking for the perfect life they end up miserable.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

New blog...

...which means I'll probably be spending more time there in the next few months. Please visit it, link to it, send people to it, etc etc. I'm trying to drum up business to the


I KNOW!!!! How exciting is that? So anyway, go over and look, tell me what you think. Be honest, I really want to make this work.

I am adding Etsy links to all my blogs but I am NOT adding links FROM my jewelry blog TO this one. My personal life is the business of people I know, or those I met on here (that's you, YD). In other words, I don't want my coworkers, etc, reading some of the things I write here. =O

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It is a new day, America.

It must have been about 15 years ago I was home at my parents house and Oprah was on. I don't know why I was watching, but this particular show (IIRC) was about the beauty industry and how stringent it was with what was considered 'beautiful,' meaning tall, thin and white. I remember a slew of models coming out and none of them were what was considered to be the ideal: they were either 'flawed' by eyes too close together or something equally stupid or they were ethnically non-white.

The part I remember most vividly was Oprah standing on the runway with an African woman who was very tall, her hair was cropped into a tight cap, and she was so black that her eyes and teeth almost glowed. She was smiling and laughing, and Oprah said to great applause: "It is a new day, America. A new day."

This is a new day.

We have the opportunity for the first time in the history of this country to really do some healing. This is the first time we, as a country, can finally work through some of the race issues we've been carrying with us for 200 years. It is an incredible opportunity, and one I hope we don't screw up.

This is the right person in the right place at the right time, and he has an ability to bring people together that we need after 8+ years of tearing this country apart.

As much as I think he is a hipocrite, it was moving to see Rev. Jesse Jackson crying last night, and I knew he was thinking about his time spent with Dr. King. The scene at Ebenezer Baptist Church last night was equally moving. McCain's speech was also eloquent and gracious (no matter what he must have been actually thinking), and I thought it very crass the way the crowd was booing him.

It was time for this to happen, and we have a lot of work ahead of us. I know in my own family not all is happiness and light right now. My father voted yesterday for the first time since Kennedy, specifically AGAINST Obama. Not FOR McCain, but against Obama. My FIL is convinced that Michelle is going to persuade Obama as president to make it so blacks in this country basically get a free ride. Nevermind the fact that our government doesn't work that way, the president does not have a blank check even when the congress is stacked in his favor.

Fear and anger can make even the smartest person ignorant.
Don't let them get away with it: call them on it. Take them to task, make them back up their beliefs with fact, not opinion...not 'I heard someone say...' Do it nicely. Make them think, really THINK about what they are saying and believing. Don't let this opportunity pass. The torch has been passed, and we're the ones holding it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Needle Me

So, my little hint in my last post, did anyone guess? Did anyone bother? HMMMM!!!!????? Well, let me fill you in, then.

I had my first Acupuncture treatment.

Yes! I got stuck with needles! On purpose! And it was everything I thought it could be!

I specifically went in for two things: joint pain and gallbladder issues. We had a consultation and talked about specifics.

Then he asked to look at my tongue. This is a traditional Chinese Medicine practice. Someone who has been trained can tell everything they need to know about the general state of your health and diet. He told me I was very healthy and generally eat well, lots of veggies. And that is true, I haven’t had a cold in 3 years and do eat a lot of veggies.

He told me it sounded as though my yang was low (as in Yin and Yang), and he thought he could help me out by getting my energy to start to flow properly. He said (and I’d read elsewhere) that pain is caused by blockages in your energy lines, and getting the blockages removed helps get rid of the pain.

I did not have to put on a gown, thank goodness. He had me lay face-up on a table with my pants pulled up over my knees. He lifted up my shirt to palpate my gallbladder area and this is where he put in the first needle.

Now I was told by many people and read first hand reports by many people that say it really doesn’t hurt. So imagine my surprise when it HURT! Badly! Really hurt! Yeowch! That first one was the worst, I believe it had more to do with location than anything. The rest only stung a bit.

He put 3-4 needles in each foot, 1-2 around my left knee, one in my ear, 2-3 in each hand, 2 in my tummy.

After he had all the needles in he adjusted them, meaning twisting them and pushing them in further until they hit the spot they were supposed to be hitting. This didn’t hurt, per se, but it didn’t tickle either. Have you ever had a Charlie horse? This felt like the muscle twisting like a Charlie horse, but before the pain set in. A very strange sensation, but not painful.

What was most interesting is what I noticed during the time he was still inserting the needles. I had a rush of warmth start to run all along my arms and legs and then through the rest of my body. It was really intense! It was not a ‘I’m going to start sweating’ kind of heat, but very obvious and noticeable.

No obvious changes yet, this is something that accumulates over time. It will be interesting to see what happens, and I’m looking forward to my next visit. I may increase the time to 3-weeks, just because of money, but I’m not sure yet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In other news....

Checked my 401(k) today and it's down almost $10,000. *takes deep breath*

Monday, October 13, 2008

Leveling out….I hope

It seems my life is finally leveling out a bit, although I hate to say that in fear that I might jinx it. I don’t know why I’ve had such a hard time getting back to normal since the hooplah of July, but there you go.

Matthew has been working diligently on the greenhouse, getting the inside structure up (to help with possible snow load this winter) and shelving. He’s doing a great job on it. He’s also putting a deck around the outside which will be very nice and helpful. As soon as that’s all done we can start cleaning out the garage and knock it down.

I’ve been busy with the garden but I don’t want to steal the garden blog thunder, so go over there to see what I’ve been up to. I’ve also been canning, so far I’ve made ketchup, salsa, and blackberry-chipotle sauce that is to die for.

My mom is planning on retiring the middle of November, but keep it hush hush because no one knows yet. They recently purchased a used white PT Cruiser with a moon roof.

Speaking of cars, the Camry goes in for some fixes. The gas pedal has been sticking really bad lately, and we have some lights out and a few other more cosmetic things to fix.

Max is doing well, he has been spending hours outside with us when we’re working. Hunting chipmunks (see action shot, right). All Hail Max, Conqueror of Chipmunks! He occasionally runs into something, but doesn’t get hurt. He did find a patch of briars, the kind that cling and stick to his fur. He had two stuck on the underside of his paw around the pads of his foot, not comfortable. He also had three on his inner thighs that we had a real time getting out. Fortunately none got stuck to his, ah, manhood, which would have been excruciating, I’m sure.

I’ve been watching the election coverage and the economy meltdown with concerned interest. This is a very very good time for people my age and younger, we can recoup our losses and then some when the markets go back up. This is a very very bad time for people of my inlaws generation because they can’t recoup this. My inlaws have all their retirement in the stock market, I can only imagine how much they’ve lost in the past few weeks. I don’t think they know yet, and quite frankly I don’t think they even realize they may be in trouble. I haven’t heard any heads exploding yet. Stay tuned.

Work has been interesting. We have a new head honcho who’s been tweaking the website and the card catalog to his heart’s content, and so far I like the outcome. Things keep getting screwy, though, because some changes have unforeseen consequences. So it’s been entertaining.

I’ve decided to search for a new doctor, again. This is the second one this year. I’m just not comfortable with the place I chose 8 months ago. So I’m off to find another. I’ve got almost 2 months to find one, a prescription I have runs out in December.

Tim is coming to visit at the end of the month, hallelujah! I’m not sure what all we’ll get up to, stay tuned.

I’m doing something interesting this week for the first time, stay tuned for a report!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Voyage of the (Euro)Dammed, Part 2 (days 3 and 4)

Day three of the trip was spent wandering around again and seeing what we'd missed. I also had a scalp massage scheduled in the Greenhouse Spa, which was heavenly. The women's locker room was directly above our stateroom, as it so happened. The outer walls of the locker room were floor-to-ceiling windows, which gave a stunning view of the sun coming up over the ocean. It also would give a stunning view to someone who just so happened to be in the right place at the right time if you were in port, so be sure to close the curtains in that case.

One thing that Holland America is known for is their HUGE, real flower arrangements. I took pictures of several, here is one example.

There is a sports bar onboard, they have some great chairs that look like baseball gloves. Believe it or not, they are incredibly comfortable.

We spent some time in the Crow's Nest but it was FREEZING up there, I don't know why. They were having a game show where you had to guess someone's weird job using only yes or no questions. They had an opera singer, a traffic reporter (helicopter), and an Aussie guy who collected toys for Santa to give to needy kids. It was a lot of fun.

That night, mom and I had reservations for the Italian restaurant on board....staffed with Italians. Young Itallians. Young, buff, good looking Italians. In tight black pants and black and white striped shirts. Very nice. The food was good, too, I was impressed. And after your main course and before your dessert they bring you a big plate of pink cotton candy. I'm not sure why, anybody know?

The next morning we were up ultra early because mom was worrying all night about catching our train and she woke me up. We were getting off the ship later in the morning, so we decided to order room service because we didn't know what the game plan was for leaving and didn't want to get stuck in one of the eateries and miss our train.

Mom had fallen in love with their tomato juice, which she said was the best she's ever had, and I already knew their chocolate croissants were to die for, as well as the bagels with lox and cream cheese. We had a wonderful breakfast while coming into NY Harbor.

I got this great shot of the Emperor of the Kingdom of Fools try to outrun us as we were turning into our berth. We are a BIG SHIP. This is a DINKY BOAT. But no, he just had to speed up on us on that side and try to beat us. He did beat us, but god it was close.

I'm not sure what buildings these are, but I really liked this picture because it is a straight shot up the street. I just thought it was cool.

We sat in Penn Station for an hour waiting for our train. The station wasn't crowded at all, but the train from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh was sold out. We got off in Harrisburg, dad met us and was really happy to see us. He'd been there an hour, I think he said.

All in all, a great trip. I'd do the train again in a heart beat. I'd go on the Eurodam again, too, without question. Just a beautiful ship. Mom is hooked, she's already sent away for Holland America's New England/Canada itinerary book. She won't be going with me, but I think she will go in the next few years. If dad lets her, of course.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

General happenings and comings up

On the home-front, not too much has been going on. Summer is winding down noticeably with nights in the 50s and sometimes 40s. The leaves have been changing colors. Max has been sleeping under the bankies with us to keep warm, which we don’t mind but would probably freak some people out. I find it very comforting in a cave-dweller kind of way when he cuddles up to me. Humans and dogs have been doing that for tens of thousands of years.

Speaking of Max, on our most recent trip to see the Opth doc we had good news and bad news. The Good News is that his corneal ulcer is totally healed and the internal inflammation is going down so he can go off two of the anti-inflamatories and the antibiotic. She did put us back on another steroid anti-inflamatory, though, but that still brings our total med count from 7 to 5. He is totally de-coned, too, and the pressure in both eyes is normal.

The Bad News is that he still has no functional vision in the eye and she did an ultrasound to confirm her hunch that he did, in fact, have a detached retina in that eye. So unless we want to have another surgery to reattach the retina (not) he is totally blind in that eye from now on. However, it doesn’t seem to be affecting him much at all. He gets around fine, he runs and jumps and plays fine. He just can’t see anything that you do off to his left side. If you hold a toy or biscuit on that side he can’t see it, and if you are walking towards him from that direction he can’t see you but usually can hear you if he’s paying attention and not zoning. I think he’s just ok, the only thing we need to do is keep sure that the eye remains healthy. He’s a sweet dog.

I will be posting part 2 of the cruise here soon, maybe next week. I have off next week, I’m going to be doing quite a bit of computer work (mainly business related, I’ll get to that in a minute). Matt and I will also be leaving this Friday for a mini-vacation. We haven’t had one this year at all. We’d planned a few day trips to DC and a couple other places over the summer that never materialized due to the Dog Emergency. Friday we’re driving down to Lexington, VA, to stay with a former coworker for 2 nights. We will be visiting Monticello, Tommy J’s old stomping ground, and the Natural Rock Bridge. Then Sunday we will be driving to West Virginia to see one of the National Radio Astronomy Observatories and to Cass Scenic Railroad. We’ll be spending the night in a B&B, which we’ve never done before. Then heading north to Blackwater Falls and whatever else we may run into that strikes our fancy, and to a lodge with a really interesting chef. Then home on Tuesday. I hope to have some really great pictures.

On the business front, I published the website last week. I still need to tweak it and add a lot of pictures to the Gallery page. I made my first sale yesterday!!! Two pair of earrings to a friend of Matt’s mom. Yippee!!! I need to celebrate somehow. The only down side is now I have to pay tax.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cruise of the (Euro)dammed! Part 1 (day 1 and 2)

The cruise was fantastic, mom and I both had a good time.

The train ride was wonderful, great time watching the scenery go by. I would recommend this mode of travel highly. It took us just over 3 hours to get from Harrisburg to NYC Penn Station via Philadelphia and we made LOTS of stops along the way. Very smooth, very clean. Got to use a train toilet, so it was also entertaining.

The cab ride from Penn Station to the pier was great fun, I think we were on sidewalks for part of the time. Mom thoroughly enjoyed herself, she is still talking about it.

We had booked what they call and obstructed view stateroom, which meant that the windows were totally blocked by the lifeboats. Two days before we left I found out that we had been visited by what is called the Upgrade Fairy. The Upgrade Fairy gave us a VA-category balcony stateroom right behind the bridge, which would have cost at least double what we actually paid. This was a 14-category upgrade. We were incredibly lucky. Either that or the ritual sacrifices worked. :)

We had early dinner in the main dining room and were seated with two couples at a six person table near the windows at the very aft of the ship. Someone must have done their homework, because one of the men at the table was a retired fire chief. Mom and I both work at the National Fire Academy, so we had a lot to talk about. Very nice people. Food was excellent.

They actually started pulling out of port before we left the dining room. I could tell we were moving only by looking out the window, it was that smooth. Mom and I left and went up top to wach sail-away. We went by the statue of liberty, and quite a lot of crew members came out from their duty stations to see the Statue of Liberty go by. They'd never seen her before.

We weren't sure if we would get a big hooplah when we left the harbor, but we did. This was the first time the Eurodam had been to a US port, so we got the fireboat spraying water, we got the police boat escort, we got the police helicopter escort. It was very cool.

We were passing the statue of liberty and had the FDNY fireboat doing its thing, and all of a sudden the ship’s horn sounded. BWOOOOOOOOOOMP! We all jumped. It scared the bejezzus out of us collectively. It blew for about 15-20 seconds, and that thing is LOUD. We were right below it. Then it did it again. And again. And then the fireboat sounded its horn: meep! And the Eurodam hit it again, a short blast in response: BWOMP! It was so funny, everyone was laughing.

We passed under the Verezanno Bridge (I think that's what it was) so I got a chance to try out my night setting on the camera. I liked it, it worked out well.

We wandered the ship, had a drinky, and went to bed early. We weren't interestedin the entertainment and we were both beat, I hadn't slept well for 3 nights.

The Muster drill (lifeboat drill) was the next morning, so after a buffet breakfast (I had fruit, bagel with smoked salmon, and a chocolate croissant), we headed to our room for our life jackets and headed back down to the promenade deck. It was entertaining, too, in a people-watching kind of way. There was a woman in our boat (lucky us) who kept wandering back and forth without a life jacket on. She had a ‘duh’ look plastered on her face but after a while you could kind of tell that she knew where her life jacket was, she just didn’t want to go get it. She wanted someone on deck to give her one. After about 15 minutes of half sentences asking people and crew ‘well, why don’t I have one?’ someone finally gave her one…and walked away. So we were also treated to her trying in vain to put it on.

Our room was behind the bridge. At one point I was leaving our stateroom…and I walked into this large white wall. And I looked up, and up. And up, and it was the tallest officer I have ever seen. Actually, they have a picture of him on the Eurodam Blog, he’s 7 feet tall! I moved out of his way and watched him make his way down the hall, stooped down and dodging the light fixtures and sprinkler heads. Wow.

We sat in on an Acupuncture lecture sponsored by the Greenhouse Spa, which was very interesting and has pushed me to contact our local acupuncturist and set up an appointment next month. We also checked out the shops on board, I got a pair of Roman glass earrings similar to these. We got some tea and went and sat out on our room's balcony. We have decided we are now spoiled and can never get anything but a balcony room ever again. Sigh.

Dinner was formal tonight, and I have the pictures to prove it. I will scan one in sometime and add it in here. It was another early night.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cruise of the Dammed!

This weekend is the weekend to end all weekends. This weekend will go down in history. This is the weekend that will try men's souls.

My mother and I are going on a cruise.

I had suggested it last January and to my great surprise my father decided to let (ahem) my mother do it. Yes, I know, the less said about that the better. Mom had expressed interest in a cruise, especially after Matt and I did the 11-day Caribean for our 5-year anniversary. She was concerned, however, that she wouldn't like and that she would get seasick.

When I saw this short, 3-day introductory cruise on Holland America's brand-spanking-new Eurodam (HATE the name), I thought it would be ideal. The price was right, the location was good, it would be a good taste for her to get an idea on what it is all about. So we booked it.
We leave Harrisburg on Amtrak at 9ish this coming Friday morning. We get to NYC around noon, just in time to wait at the pier for maybe 3-4 hours because they bumped back the embarkation time. *sigh* The timing on this trip has become almost a comedy of errors:
  • Embarkation was supposed to be at 1, but it was bumped back to 3pm. Since this is the first time the Eurodam will be in a US port the Coast Guard has to do its inspection, followed by
  • The muster drill (lifeboat drill) we'd heard was pushed back to 11pm! That turned out to be inaccurate, thank god, or else we'd be in nighties and slippers and a lifevest. The new muster drill is 4:45, which will just give us time to head to
  • Dinner, which we have a set time in the main dinning room at 5:45. If we skip dessert the first night we may just be able to make it to
  • Sailaway, which was supposed to be at 7:30 but was bumped up to 7:00. Mom really wants to see the Statue of Liberty.

Don't worry, we can get dessert somewhere else on the ship or from room service. :) As many as we want.

We have an outside stateroom with an obstructed view, so we will get natural light but not much real view (which is fine because we're not GOING anywhere). This picture is actually of the cabin next to ours. I'm a member of CruiseCritic online, and it just so happened that one of the people on the boards was on the innagural cruise and happened to be in the room next to the one Mom & I'll be in.

This is a picture of the the atrium on the ship. People on CruiseCritic started calling it the 'condom pile.' I can see it. It's funny, because now the staff on the ship also call it the condom pile. And it changes colors, too.

And this is the casino. I don't know how much time we'll spend here, but some at least.

This is a really big ship. It holds 2100 passengers (the other ship we were on carried 1200 passengers, and it wasn't dinky by any stretch of the imagination).

This is a picture of the chairs in the Crow's Nest. Matt and I spent a lot of time in the Crow's Nest. It is at the top of the ship at the front (don't ask me to say bow and starbord and all that, I can't keep it straight) and is a great panoramic view. It also has a bar, and on the Eurodam it apparently has Star Trek seating. :)

So, wish me luck. We'll be home on Monday, again by train.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Business update

I'm working slowly to get my jewelry business going. I purchased the domain name and (barely started working on it. I will let everyone know when it has been 'published.' I have been working on getting some better photographs of my work so I can easily post them on the website, too.

I also have been working on tags for the jewelry, which are mini cards I purchased from My bud Tim told me about them, they are the cat's meow. I have grommets and a grommet gun that I'm using to make durable holes with a bit of color, then using thin ribbon to actually attatch them to jewelry.

I also bought a 1/16 inch hole punch to make earring hang tags with. all the card came printed on the back with my business name, website, and a blurb about me. They are really high quality cards, plastic coated. I would highly recommend them. MOO now has business cards, too, which if they'd had them when I'd been in the market for them I'd have gotten them from MOO.
So, it's going. Slowly, but that's what I wanted. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Max update

We went to visit with Dr. Caruso yesterday, Max is doing well (notice he got part of a biscuit stuck in the bottom of his cone):
  • His corneal ulcers are healed. He lost one contact lens but the other stayed in.
  • He has some corneal edema (cloudiness) in both eyes (left more than right), and she's thinking that this is what caused the ulcers. It happens in older dogs. She prescribed another drop to help get rid of the the edema. I'm not sure if this is a forever thing or what yet.
  • There is still some inflamation in the surgery eye, but it is expected and improving.
  • There is a small cataract in his right eye, but no evidence of lens loosening in that eye.
  • The pressure was good in both eyes, not sure if that is due to the glaucoma meds or what. She's planning on weaning him off those meds over time to see if the pressure stays down or goes up.
  • She also bumped us back on the meds, so only 4 drops twice a day instead of 7 drops 2 or 3 times a day, and only 2 drops in the right eye.

While I was in there I saw a beagle, a husky, a french bulldog, a poodle, and several cats. I also saw a vet tech walk a lab mix outside, she had a bell around her front leg (the lab, not the tech :). I asked why, she said it annoys the dog and makes them lift the (injured/operated on) leg instead of dragging it and helps them heal faster. Interesting. They should do that for people.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Grandma Mary V. 1925 - 2008

Last year we threw a surprise birthday party for my mother in law, JoAnne. Mary V was instrumental in the decoy actions, we three drove up to Ashcombe’s greenhouses while everyone arrived for the party and set up, got food together, etc. JoAnne was very surprised. One of the married-in family, Rod, made some frozen fruit drink concoction that was VERY strong. I distinctly remember Mary V wandering through the crowd, drink in hand, smacking and licking her lips in ecstasy.
  • She’s been almost totally deaf most of her life, with the last remaining hearing in her ‘good’ ear dwindling away in the time that I’ve known her. Last February she went through with the surgery to get a cochlear implant, and for the first time in years she had some hearing back. She was so thrilled. This June for her birthday a lot of people gave her those musical cards. The family has decided to donate her external implant device back to Johns Hopkins.
  • Last year sometime Matt and I went to visit grandma. We notices she kept rubbing at her ribs on one side and finally Matt asked her about it. Well, she said, she was out in the garage and something had to be removed. So she went to the basement and got Steven’s 4’ bolt cutters and went and cut the thing, but she wound up catching her sides in the handles of the cutters. “I think I cracked a rib,” she told us. “It hurts when I breath a little. But there isn’t anything they can do about it, anyway, except tape it.” She never did go get it checked out.
  • Whenever we visit she always fed us really well. She never got out of the habit of cooking for a large family, so when people would arrive she would start bring out casseroles, ham or tuna salad, bread, lunchmeat, cookies, homemade candy, pies, tarts, and especially the breads (banana, zucchini, etc) she would make almost daily. Everything from scratch, no mixes here. She would also give us breads that were frozen to take home. Also, every summer she would can dozens and dozens of jars of jellies and jams, pickles, relish, and especially tomato sauce, then she would take us to the basement and give us boxes so we could fill up. We haven’t bought tomato sauce in about 4-5 years. Of everything she made, my favorites were the green tomato dill pickles and the orange marmalade. Both were very strong. I’m hoping to get the recipes, but it is very possible she did it from memory.
  • Mary had a computer and she and I would email back and forth fairly regularly. Due to her hearing problems, this was a really great way to communicate with her. She was fairly savvy with a computer.
  • She and I shared a love of gardening. I shared some seeds with her this year for the Guatemalan Blue Banana winter squash. She was so tickled, she told JoAnne just the day before she died, the squash vines were going around her vegetable patch 3 times! She’d never seen anything like it. I’ll probably be going over to tend her garden the rest of the summer, I don’t think anyone else will be doing it.
  • She made the best coffee I have ever had, and I’ll miss it terribly.
  • Most of you know that I also make jewelry (just got my business license, actually). Christmas a year ago I made a necklace for her as a gift. She was thrilled, and JoAnne told me Sunday that she apparently wore it all the time. She had it on Sunday.
  • She was pulled over for a speeding ticket a couple years ago and told the cop he should be out catching criminals instead of picking on little old ladies. So there.
  • On the other hand, someone told me yesterday she hit a an automatic car wash. I hadn't heard about this at all. Go Grandma.

There was another funny story that Matt told yesterday, I've forgotten it now. I'll post it when I remember.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Update on both fronts

Max is doing well, we had his appointment yesterday afternoon to get checked out post op. There is a normal amount of inflamation in his operative eye. The corneal ulcers aren't healing as quickly as she'd wanted, so she recommended and did another procedure for that. I won't go into details. Suffice it to say it has a 99% success rate within 2 weeks and he now has contact lenses. Yes, you read that right. My mother just loved that, she joked that she can just see me on my hands and knees at a outdoor cafe or something, saying "Don't mind me, I'm just looking for my dog's contact lens!" We go back the end of next week for another checkup.

He also still wasn't eating this morning (not much to eat since Friday evening). We were concerned about this. Matt has been maintaining that it has to do with his habit of rolling on his food and he can't with the cones on his head. I scoffed at this, but apparently it worked because Matt took a handful of food, rubbed it on his back and Max then ate it right up. Yes, you read that right. Dogs are strange.

As for the Grandma situation, the viewing is going to be Wednesday night and the funeral mass Thursday morning. Family is starting to fly in today. 3 people are staying with my inlaws, despite the fact they had their well drilled deeper yesterday and as of an hour ago the people had still not shown up to put in the well pump and hook everything up.

Monday, July 21, 2008

When it rains….

…it pours. This week has been really rough. Max is doing well, from what we can gather from his attitude and actions. He goes for his one week check up today, I’ll report back when I know something.

However, Mary V., one of Matt’s grandmothers, died very unexpectedly yesterday in a freak carbon monoxide accident. They found her ‘asleep’ on the sofa, barely breathing. After 911 was called, etc etc, they found the car had been running in the garage long enough to run out of gas. The CO was 1700 parts per million, enough to kill in 2 hours. (Everyone: PLEASE be sure your smoke detectors are also CO detectors!)

The shock of the accident is the worst part. Grandma had a really good run, she was feisty. She’d had 11 kids. She was an extremely active senior and at 4’11” still did a lot of her own work around the house, carrying the 8' step ladder up from the basement to fix the curtains, etc. Her kids gave her hell when they found out these things, but Matt and I had a catchphrase we used for her: GO GRANDMA!!!!

She was my adopted grandma, too. My two grandfathers died when I was 6, on of my grandmothers died before I was born, and the other was estranged from us, so I really never had grandparents that I really knew. Mary V. was my adopted grammy. I’m glad to have had 10 years with her. She’s the kind of old lady I want to be when I grow up. And, hey, there are worse ways to go. It could have been a stroke or cancer, she could have lingered for a long time…

I will do a grammy retrospective sometime this week, you won’t want to miss it. Lots of funny stories.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


First and foremost, Max is doing well. (The above picture is from his neutering last year.)

OK, the back story. We woke up on Sunday morning, Max's left eye was closed and goopy. We cleaned the goop away, and noticed that his eye appeared cloudy, like a cataract patient. I called the emergency vet in Frederick, MD, then drove him down there around 7:30. They did a pressure test on his eye and it was very high. They also notice the lens looked like it was tilted. They sent us to the emergency vet in Gaithersburg, MD, right on the outskirts of Washington, DC. I was not happy about driving down there, but it was a lot closer than I thought, Max slept the whole way, and at least I didn't have to fight rush hour traffic.

This was an advanced care facility with a lot of specialists. Their Opthamologist wasn't in that day (of course), but they did some tests and started him on some pressure reducing meds. They told me he had an anterior luxating lens. I'm very eye squeemish, so I won't go into details. They kept him and I headed home, exhausted and hungry. I got home about 12:30.

They did the surgery to remove the lens on Monday night, it went well and as expected. He's also developed corneal ulcers, one on each eye, which are painful and complicate the situation. They don't know why these developed. The good news is that they reduced the pressure in time and reduced the damage to the eye, so he has sight in that eye. The bad news was the price tag, which was almost high enough that we wouldn't have been able to do it. Almost.

They sent us home with 7 eye drops, 2 pills and one goop that you squirt in his mouth. He hates the drops, so we also hate the drops.

He has two elizabethian collars on. He is getting drops 3x/day, he has a good appetite, and although he's not too interested in drinking anything we are getting him to drink some occasionally. He slept downstairs by himself last night, cones in place, and did ok.

I'm at work today, I'm going to go check on him at lunch. I feel like I should check in to a hospital or something, I'm so stressed about all this. I was home with him yesterday and although he slept almost all day I was just so stressed I couldn't eat anything. I am trying to eat a bagel and have some coffee this morning, but I've already got a tension headache. I keep telling myself I can only do what I can do: give him his meds, talk to him, love him up, let him out. The rest is up to...him? Fate?

Sunday, July 06, 2008


I had off this week, and thank god because I had a lot of work around here to do. And I got almost everything done that I wanted to!

I did a lot of weeding in the veggie patch, it took me two mornings but I got it done. I also got newspaper and hay around the squash plants to keep the weeds at bay. Almost everything is blooming, except the pumpkins, and I have two little baby zuchs and a few tiny yellow squash. The winter squash vines are starting to run. I have no idea how long they'll get, but the time I grew pumpkins they must have run over 20'!

For more on the garden, visit my garden blog, I'll be updating it Monday or Tuesday.

We're still waiting on the greenhouse, it should be shipped tomorrow.

We also made our semi-annual pilgrimage to the local liquour store and, as usual, bought a lot of different stuff. It is interesting to me to just go in and look around a good liquour store because you never know what you're going to find. This is what we bought:
  • Sweet & Sour mix and a bottle of Triple Sec for my favorite cocktail, the Sidecar.
  • A bottle of cheap but good white wine.
  • Matt got a bottle of single malt scotch, his drink of choice. He actually has a book of scotches that talks about all the distilleries in Scotland and what they produce. He's going to try to get one of everything in the book to try. Hey, everyone needs a hobby.
  • Matt also got a good ($$) bottle of tequila and a matching ($$) bottle of coffee-flavored tequila. The coffee one is very very good, I can't drink but a tiny sip of it but the aftertaste is wonderful.
  • I got a bottle of Chocolate Zinfindel white wine. I haven't tried it yet, I'm waiting for an appropriate occasion.
  • I also found a bottle of Maple Cream liqueur, which I've already cracked open and found it wonderful over ice.

I think that was it. I'm not going to tell you how much all that cost.

I finally received my business cards, they look great. I also ordered some mini cards from to use as hang tags for my jewerly. I purchased a gorgeous brown leather 3-ring binder to use as a portfolio to take into local shops and show my jewelry. I bought some stuff at AC Moore to finish the portolio pages up and some grommets to use with the mini cards, I'll try to take pictures and post it all sometime in the future.

I think that's about it. I took a nap while I was off, that was exciting. :)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It's set in concrete now!

We recently purchased a 10'x12' greenhouse, which isn't here yet and is, of course, on back order. We don't know when it will get here because they keep pushing the date back, those silly people. But in order to have a nice home for it, we made a form and poured a concrete foundation.

The same day, we got a guy we know to come up with his bobcat and do what is commonly called 'work' around the property to help us with some problem areas. We had some straight edges that needed smoothed out and our driveway badly BADLY needed straightened out. I will post pictures of the work Joe did for us later.

The picture above is the 'before' of the place where the greenhouse is going. The brown thing is our incinerator, where we burn our paper trash. The pile of rocks on the left is...well a pile of rocks we got from the local quarry. It was free! It is their junk rock (below), they can't do anything with it because of the quartz veins running through it, can you believe it? So we asked for it so we could build some nice rock walls with it in the future, and they were kind enough to just drop it off for us.

All this is in the big hole that was supposed to be the site for our new garage, but since that was dug out we decided to rebuild the garage where the current one is and do things a little differently. So this is a perfect place for a greenhouse or two, sheltered, flattened already.

The bank in the picture above, right also was to come out and get smoothed out (see below).

As for the foundation, we had a lot of big PVC drainpipe that Matt used for the foundation (see below). It worked out, this will easily drain water away from the greenhouse while making it so we didn't have to buy a lot of wood to use instead. A money-saving idea! We likes these, yes we does.

Matt estimted 5 yards of concrete and the truck was due for 8am on Saturday and lo! That's when they arrived. And they actually made it up the driveway! Will wonders never cease.

Notice the drain sitting up in the middle of the floor. That's 'crush n run' that they are standing on, it makes a good base.

That's Matt and his dad, Ray, and the guy from the concrete company on the right there. I didn't catch his name, let's call him Magnus.

Magnus actually pitched in quite a bit, even though I don't have any pictures of it.

(Left) And here it comes!

(Right) Making sure there's enough in the far corners.

(Left) Pulling it from the middle to the nearer corners. You can't see the drain, but it sits a few inches lower than the edge of the foundation. It was covered up with duct tape to keep the concrete from getting in, but they needed to make sure the floor sloped away from the drain so they had to keep pulling concrete from the middle to the edges.

(Right) Starting to skreet the floor. The skreet is resting on the drain in the middle and Matt is using it to flesh out the slope of the floor from the edges. Ray is still pulling concrete into the corners and to the edge.

(Left) Almost finished skreeting!

(Right) Pouring the ramp. Before the greenhouse will really be a greenhouse, we're going to be using it for a shed. We needed a place to empty our garage into, and this seemed like it would kill two birds with one stone. Now, we can empty the garage, tear it down and rebuild a new one AND then have a usable greenhouse afterwards instead of a shed that we'd have no future use for. A lot of the stuff in the garage will need to be moved using a dolly, hence the ramp.

(Left and below) Matt, smoothing out the already skreeted floor with a hand-held 'float' trowel.

(Left) Matt. Smoothing out the middle of the floor. Balancing on a 2x10. If he had lost his balance it would have been a MUCH better picture.

After this was finished, we all went next door where they were also pouring a floor in the basement.
We also purchases some concrete sealer to use on the floor. It is stained a nice rusty red color, we thought it would be a nice color.
Stay tuned, this weekend I will probably post pictures of the work Joe did to the driveway area.