Monday, December 31, 2007

Reflecting on 2007

Interesting In 2007
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
  • Personal heroes this year: Dr. Peter Argenta (my Oncologist) and his nurse, Joan. He saved my life. She has been compassionate and supportive, helping me navigate the office visits and such needed during healing.
  • Three high points of the year: Successful cancer surgery. My cousin returning from deployment abroad. Every day with my Mister.
  • Significant gain this year: I've made several new friends and renewed contact with a few old friends I didn't think I'd hear from again.
  • A Lesson learned about myself: I've learned that I can cope with a lot more physical discomfort than I thought I could. I've learned how much pain I can push through, and at what point it puts normal life on hold.
  • Reading for pleasure: Read 18 fiction books this year. My 3 favorites were: Invoking Darkness (Babylon 5: The Passing of the Techno-Mages, Book 3) by Jeanne Cavelos; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling; Dead to the World (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Bk. 4) by Charlaine Harris
  • Most surprising place I found myself this year: Hiking through an 8 foot high cornfield with my husband, looking for a lost model rocket. Not once, but twice.
  • Something beautiful in nature I'd never seen before 2007: Hoarfrost
  • Hobbies: This year I did more knitting and photography than any of my other hobbies.
  • Favorite meal in a restaurant this year: Tejas in Edina, MN. Wild Mushroom Enchiladas with Humboldt Fog cheese.
  • Favorite meal at home this year: My mom's spaghetti
  • Favorite movie released in 2007: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Favorite movie I watched this year (any release date): 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama
  • Favorite TV series this year (with new episodes): Colbert Report
  • Favorite TV series in re-runs: Conquest
  • Most watched (re-watched and re-re-watched) dvd this year: Egypt: Beyond the Pyramids
  • Gratitude: I am filled with gratitude this year for the compassion and support of so many people. Family and friends who either came to help when I was undergoing my surgeries, or who sent their love and support from afar. Co-workers who helped cover for my workload while I was unable to work. Financial support from family, to help me cover the bills that medical insurance didn't cover. I can't thank everyone enough.
  • Regime Change in 2008: My preferred candidates for next year's Democratic party presidential candidate have narrowed to either John Edwards or Barack Obama. But with so many primaries and caucuses being held earlier than Minnesota's, and since Minnesota holds a caucus rather than a primary election, I don't think my preferences count for much.

2008 Goals

Be more physically active.
Do more quilting.
Learn to crochet.
Observe at least one thing of beauty each day, however simple.
Practice the disciplines of the Eightfold Path.

FSM Cookies

Originally uploaded by fsmcookies
There's a step-by-step how-to on making FSM cookies on flickr if you follow the link from the image. I MUST try this!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Playing WoW with my Mister

Winter Veil in Orgrimmar
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
Spent a bunch of time this weekend playing World of Warcraft with my Honey.

I've been playing on the laptop with my puffy foot up on the couch, and having it elevated a bunch has brought the ankle down to normal size. The rowing machine also seems to be good for it, as it gets my circulation going without having the foot lower than the rest of the leg.

Haven't done anything particularly productive over the last two days, except providing a lot of loves to the kitties.

I was really tired on Friday, so my Honey decided to let me sleep in yesterday, figuring he'd just let me wake up on my own. When I was still sound asleep at 11:30 AM he gave up on that plan and came up to wake me, as it seemed likely that 13 and a half hours was probably more than enough. Goodness knows how long I would have slept.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday in Virginia

Holiday in Virginia
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
Catching up.

A lot has happened since my last post. The Mister and I flew out to Virginia to visit my family out there over Christmas. We had a lovely time, and among others we got to visit with Niece C, Nephew P and my 90 year old grandmother.

Grandma is amazing. She may be more frail, and move more slowly than she did years ago, but she's still sharp and beautiful, and still has her sense of humor.

The fingerless gloves I knitted for her fit, wonder of wonders. My hands are so very much bigger than hers, and I didn't have anyone around who wears her size to try them on. They are wool, cashmere and silk, so they should breathe well and be warm and comfy against her skin. If I could wear wool I'd make myself a pair of them from the same yarn in a heartbeat. I'm just glad I can knit with it, even if I can't wear it.

My step-brother-in-law is Italian, and his family joined us for a sumptuous multi-course Christmas dinner, complete with a cheese plate, oysters Rockefeller casserole (which I forgot to take photos of... Doh!), ham, home fried potatoes, lasagna, and almost too many kinds of desserts to count. My step-sister made an amazing orange and cranberry sauce to go with the ham. I think I ate more of the cranberry sauce than the ham.

My step-brother was there for the weekend, too. I haven't seen him in ages. We've never been close, but it was good to see him, and he seemed to be doing well.

My Honey and I bought each other new Crocs. The kind with the fuzzy lining in them. That came in immensely helpful, because my foot started to swell up the day we were to fly out. It had been doing a little swelling for maybe two months before, but not like this. My foot was swelling too much to wear regular shoes, but Crocs are so loose and comfy I could still wear them even with warm, thick socks. So we opened the crocs as soon as we arrived so we could enjoy our comfy feet during the visit.

We flew out just in time, I'm told, because there were white out conditions the following day that would have made flying out much more difficult. They had chilly days at home, and snow, while we enjoyed temperatures as high as the 50's and 60's F, and a little rain. The locals in Virginia were quick to mention that it was getting cold at night (down in the 20's to 30's F) but it was still warmer than what we've been seeing the last few weeks in Minnesota.

While we were visiting we discovered a lovely local pear port, made by the Horton winery. It was tasty enough to buy some to bring home, which now-a-days means finding a way to keep it from being smashed in your checked-through luggage. Wasn't such a big deal back when you could still carry a bottle of wine in your carry-on luggage. But it made it home without incident.

My Mister and I don't celebrate Christmas left to our own devices (though we do observe the winter solstice and Pastafarian season of Holiday). But Christmas is a very big deal for the rest of the family, and we enjoy being able to share it with them. Our extended family is so spread out that we don't get to see more than a few of them at a time each year. But we try to at least make sure we call on the phone to touch bases. And this year a number of my family members have added Pastafarian Holiday to their winter celebrations, so there was an added level of cheer all around.

Ack, which reminds me that I still haven't mailed out my holiday cards. Good thing they are "season's greetings" cards (to cover the variety of holidays celebrated by my friends this time of year). Note to self: get that taken care of this weekend.

Any way, be brought games for all the adults in the house. We played several games of Settlers of Catan, and a card game called Fluxx. Dad hooked the laptop up to his TV and I showed the kids what the winter holiday in Azeroth (World of Warcraft) looks like. Niece C especially liked watching that, and perched next to me as I made the run through some of the seasonal quests. My Honey also demonstrated the PC game Portal for me and Dad. I couldn't enjoy trying to play a game with so many mind bending changes of perspective, but watching the Mister play it was a whole lot of fun.

Dad and Grandma took me to a wonderful little yarn store near (in?) Middleburg, VA, and let me pick out some yummy yarns. I picked all things I can actually wear. Recycled sari silk, bamboo, and soy silk. Grandma really liked a Möbius cowl that was on display, knitted of very fine mohair and sprinkled with delicate beads. After looking it over for a bit I offered to make one for her, so I got the yarn for that as well. I've never knitted with anything so delicate before, but I am really looking forward to this project. Just need to go out and get some beads and a beading needle to get started.

It was a plush toy Christmas for me. I fell in love with a stuffed toy manatee (I named him Hugh) while shopping for the niece and neffling, and my Honey bought it for me. And I was also given a plush turkey vulture, along with other lovely presents. Niece C and Nephew P drew us some very detailed pictures, too, which was delightful.

Most of the adults went out after Christmas dinner to see the Tim Burton movie Sweeny Todd (based on the Stephen Sondheim stage musical). Not a jolly, happy holiday film, but then we're not a "normal" family. I'd watch a recital of the phone directory if it was directed by Tim Burton. And I particularly enjoy Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman and my Mister especially likes nearly anything with Helena Bonham Carter in it. So we were all for my step-sister's plan to make that our post-dinner outing. The film was dark and disturbing, funny and touching, and the sets, costumes and visual effects were lavishly macabre. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Feast of Winter Veil

Winter in World of Warcraft
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
Visiting Dad and Step-mom's house for the holidays. They've got extended family under one roof, including my step-sister, her husband, and their two kids.

We attached the laptop to the TV to show the kids World of Warcraft. Much fun was had by all. At least for the duration of a 5 year old's attention span.

Myzithra earned some preserved holly from a quest that turned her regular mount into a reindeer. Used on her flying mount, it had a delightful result!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Packing to travel

Logging off shortly to finish packing to travel to visit my family in Virginia. I'm really excited about this trip. Last year I was at home during the winter solstice, looking cancer in the eye and facing my second surgery. This year as the year wheel turns around again, I am cancer free. I may have lingering issues since the surgery, but none of them are cancer. None of them are life threatening.

Got a new playlist on my iPod for the trip:
  • Morrowind Title - Bethesda Softworks
  • Under a Phrygian Sky - Loreena McKennitt
  • Sing Along - Blue Man Group/Chris Matthews
  • I Love You Goodbye - Thomas Dolby
  • My Medea - Vienna Teng
  • Mirror to My Woman's Eyes - Peter Murphy
  • White Out Conditions - Bel Canto
  • The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Assylum) - Fun Boy Three
  • Lindy's Party - The Bolshoi
  • Hallelujah - k.d. Lang
  • Dedication of Merit - Rev. Heng Sure
  • Nothing Else Matters - Metallica
  • Pictures of You- Oingo Boingo
  • The Ship Song - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  • Bläck (Ink) - Garmarna
  • Land of Confusion - Disturbed
  • I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
  • ASouling - Lothlorien
  • Wanting Memories - Keali'i Reichel
  • Clohinne Winds - Sharon Shannon
  • White & Nerdy - Weird Al Yankovic
  • The Promise - When in Rome
  • The Boxer - Simon and Garfunkle
  • Bring Me To Life - Evanescence
  • Losing My Religion - R E M
  • The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove - Dead Can Dance
  • Green Valley Serenade - Vienna Teng
  • Into the West - Annie Lennox/Howard Shore

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I just couldn't resist...

One moment later...
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
I just couldn't resist celebrating freedom of expression by adding a new twist to my regular shot of the billboard by the 52. Click on the image for the larger version, and the description of the "event".

"Yes, Virginia. There really is a Flying Spaghetti Monster."

In other news, the poor air quality alert is starting to pass, and we've warmed up to 23°F (-5°C), with expectations of reaching 32°F today. (0°C).

And for those of you following the LFG web comic, I got a serious chuckle out of today's page.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's their way, or the highway...

This is a billboard next to Highway 52 in St. Paul, where the highway crosses the Mississippi river. I took this photo while stuck in traffic on the way in to work.
It reads:
One God
One human race
One Way to heaven
Read the Bible
The small text between the lines are the passage citations for each. My cell phone camera wasn't quite up to the task of catching those in focus.

It's a Clear Channel billboard. I wonder who sponsored the ad? I wonder if they have a preference as to which of the many versions of the Bible we are supposed to read? Knowing me, I've probably read the wrong one.

For the record, I value diversity in the world. So I can't agree with their message. Which is a bit of a tricky balance. Because valuing diversity means tolerance of their ways, even when those ways are intolerant (as long as those ways aren't violating anyone else's human rights). But it doesn't require me to celebrate intolerance. Only accept it. Which is, admittedly, still tricky.

But this sign does demonstrate two very important American values I certainly agree with:

Freedom of speech provides them the right to post such signs. (And me the right to write this post.)

Freedom of religion provides them the right to have such beliefs, while providing me with the right to disagree.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Working late

I've been at the office nearly 13 hours. Still a lot of work to do. Now, of course, the server decides to be slow.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Knitting and cake by candle light

My Honey was on the party committee at his company this year, and the final big event was the holiday party. It was quite a nice event, good food, lots of people having lots of fun. They had a casino night theme, so there were lots of games for everyone to play.

Walking around the Eden Prairie Center shopping mall earlier in the day sent several of my muscles into an unhappy spasm, so I spent most of the evening at our dining table.

I generally try to avoid all shopping malls during December. I'm not an enthusiastic shopper at the best of times. But I've been doing so much better lately, and the shopping needed doing. So I made the trip, bought the necessary items, and paid for all the hiking through crowds a short time later.

At any rate, I finished the cuff on one of my grandmother's mittens while people danced and my Mister mixed and mingled, did his party committee duties, and won tons of raffle tickets at the Texas Holdem table. Even so, he came back to check on me frequently. I was in good company at the table, and was glad he didn't feel tied down because of my limitations.

Not surprisingly, someone knitting in the middle of a party with 600 attendees did draw some odd stares. Go figure.

Now I'm on the couch with the laptop, and the kitties are taking turns sitting with me and providing me with cat gravity.

I've got a bunch of work I brought home from the office that needs doing, so I'm going to grab a snack and make some progress on that.

The project, a label design, has been a poster child for scope creep for the last two weeks. We told the department in question before we started this project that the deadlines were contingent on my having what I need in the way of data, and not being showered with change requests during design and implementation. That being said, inflexible plans involving travel were made for testing based on those deadlines.

Of course, we're up to our eyeballs in change requests and data revisions. It's all things that can be handled except there has been no adjustment to deadlines in response to the changes, and now questions are dropping out of the adminisphere about why the project is behind. I'm too low on the totem pole to dictate deadline changes, so I need to adapt in response. Joy.

I'll be glad when I put this project behind me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Up too late

Stayed up too late tonight.

The rats are boxing in their cage (which is darned cute, I must say) and the cats are all staring at me, waiting for me to go upstairs so they can have their bedtime goodies on the cat tree. I'm disrupting their schedule, I suppose. Didn't get any knitting done tonight. Didn't get much of anything done tonight, really. Too tired to be productive, but disinclined to stop being awake, despite being sleepy. Insomnia, I suppose. Too much going on in my head right now, with the deadlines looming at work, holiday planning, anticipating traveling to Virginia soon, my Mister looking for a new job, and other life stuff mixed in.

I'm just in an odd mood.

Well, time to tell the mood to take a hike and give the ol' sleeping thing a shot.

Oh, and for the record it's 5°F (-15°C) outside right now. Can't believe people lived in this part of the country before the advent of central heating and polar fleece.

Balmy today, not as warm tomorrow

Just remembered something from this morning that made me smile. The tv weatherman this morning described the forecast for today as "relatively balmy" and tomorrow's weather as "not as mild as today". He was predicting temps in the high 20's°F, possibly "as warm as" 32°F (0°C) in some places.

I just love when they start using terms like "as warm as" and "balmy" to describe temps at or below freezing. It makes me smile every time.

In case you haven't guessed yet, I'm fascinated by weather. If I hadn't had such a phobia of math as a kid (ok, until my late 20's) I would have gone into a scientific field. Fear is a potent inhibitor, however irrational that fear might be.

Frosty Morning Commute

Frosty Morning Commute
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
The photos in this collage were all taken on my way to work on Dec. 12, 2007 at around 8:30 in the morning, using my cameraphone. Those taken while in motion were blind captures. I was driving in much later than usual, so I had sunlight to see a wonder of nature I'd not experienced before.

We had hoarfrost that morning, which coated all the trees with shimmering ice crystals. Part of my drive was through a fog composed of very tiny bits of ice that looked like glitter floating in the air. There was very little in the way of a breeze, and MPR was reporting the temperature as around 6° F (-14° C).

It made me glad I'd decided to go into the office instead of working from home.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Catrina on Squirrel Patrol

Catrina on Squirrel Patrol
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
Working from home one last day. Might've gone in today, as I'm nearing ready to entering a bunch of data into our database, which is slower over the vpn. But I started antibiotics yesterday for what might be strep (culture isn't back, definitely an infection of some kind) and I don't want to be near a pregnant co-worker until we know I'm not contagious.

Meanwhile, There are about 5 squirrels outside as I type this. They're fighting over the dish of corn outside the window.

The cats have been taking turns making sure the squirrels don't come inside. It must be a big deal having squirrels by the window, to make it worth interrupting the kittons' mid-day naps.

Zabartik tried to dig his way through the window for a few minutes. The squirrels were not impressed. He stalked away in what looked like a huff before I got out the camera. He's back now, watching them again, but the camera has been put away so I can get back to work. (edit: I did eventually pull the camera back out and take some shots of Zabster, too, but later on in the afternoon.)

Catrina has long since given up trying to actually reach the squirrels. She watches intently, but with none of the agitation the other cats display.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Back and forth

Back and forth
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
Back and forth from home today to visit my doctor. Picked up a bug somewhere along the line that turned into a sinus and throat infection. I've been sick for two weeks, and getting progressively worse. Fortunately, it's the kind of thing that responds quickly to the miracles of modern medicine.

Also lucky for me it had warmed up quite a bit today, so I wasn't uncomfortably cold while out running around while sick. With temps around 20°F (-6° C), and no breeze, the locals were mostly out and about without hats or gloves, jackets unzipped. The fellows at the local Lunds grocery store who carry groceries out to your car even had on short sleeved shirts. I'm still "not from around here" and I am sick, so I had on a hat and warm jacket.

Also on a medical note, we just got the results back from the autopsy on our pet rat. The cause of G'Kar's death was apparently a heart defect that made him too weak to be anesthetized. The good news is that he tested completely negative for mycoplasma, which is very common in the domestic rat population, and highly contagious.

This is good news because we didn't have a proper quarantine period when he came into the house, and his cage was in the same room with our lady rats for several weeks. Our vets says that since he was clean, it is nearly certain that they don't have it either.

We're still very sad to have lost him. But we're so very glad to know he didn't die of something contagious.

Now, when we decide to bring a new male rat into the house, we'll need to try to seek out a breeder who is fairly certain that s/he doesn't have mycoplasma in her/his colony. You can't be positive with such things, I know. But outside of finding a lab rat, a reputable breeder is our best chance to avoid introducing the illness into our home. We just got lucky with our adoption from the Humane Society, and then a pet store rat.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Catrina helps with the mitten knittin'

The first mitten is nearly done. I've made more progress since taking this shot of Catrina, modeling the cables.

Warmed up into the mid teens F today, which was welcome as we went running around today. We had dim sum with some friends at Yangtze in St Louis Park.

My cold still persists, which at this point I think is worth getting looked at by a doctor. Two weeks, with my throat getting worse instead of better. I'll see how things are going tomorrow, and decide then.

Memories of Grandpa

Funeral Flag presentation
Originally uploaded by studio.nuovo
My father posted some photos of my Grandfather's funeral. I wasn't able to fly out there for the memorial or interment of his ashes at Arlington. I'm so grateful for the photos he made available. I am lucky, because I have so very, very many fond memories of Grandpa.

I feel so blessed when I think of my family. We may not see each other as often as we would like, separated as we are by so many miles. But they are always in my heart.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Mitten Is Born

A Mitten Is Born
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
Ah ha! Mitten is progressing. I had to frog the whole wrist because I'd miscounted my cast on, but it's slowly becoming a mitten. Click the photo for more info.

What? You say it's still just a tube? Well, yes. But I can begin to see the mitten where now there is only empty space. I can dream, can't I?


NOAA says it's 6°F (-14°C) outside right now. The evening sky is an even pale gray, the light on the snow is gray. I'm getting tired of my cold, which still shows no signs of giving up and going away. But I'm inside and it's warm and comfy, and I'm knitting with kitties all around me.

The yarn is a soft tweedy gray, a blend of wool, cashmere and silk. I'm working on a pair of mittens for my grandmother. But I'm a bit distracted, so it's been knit 4 rows, frog one. It's what I get for trying to knit and talk on the phone at the same time. Mom is sick. Fortunately it's nothing that some hydration, antibiotics and a hefty dose of rest won't fix. Mom just called to say she's home and the kitties are making sure she's getting that doctor mandated rest by sitting on her and being too cute to disturb them.

Now that I've received that good news, maybe I'll be able to focus on the mitten at hand. I'm going to rustle up some herbal tea and work on making friends with this mitten. No point in fighting with yarn. The yarn always wins if I approach it like that.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Work, work

Missy Tash
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
Just finished the hardest step of my current project. Won't be done working for another couple of hours, so just breaking to grab a little dinner and pat some kittons.

When this project is caught up, I'm going to jump for joy. Then I'm going to dive into knitting a gift for my grandmother. And editing some photos for my cousin. And at some point I need to squeeze in some holiday shopping. Keeping things simple this year, and it's a darned good thing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Shhhh. We's nappin'

Shhhh. We's nappin'
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
I have pretty much figured out by trial and error that there aren't many cold medicines that I can tolerate given my current daily meds. Even 12mg of Benadryl these days will make me too loopy to focus on difficult concepts (or read for pleasure, or type without liberal use of the backspace key and spell checker.)

Afrin seems to do alright, but since you can't use it for more than a couple of days, it doesn't help with a persistent cold. Guaifenesin seems to be side-effect free so it's on the approved list, but has limited effectiveness for a cold all by itself. Vitamins, liquids, the humidifier and healthy foods help, but not with immediate symptoms.

So this cold gets to run amok for the rest of the day, while I take a break from work before I do more harm than good to my project under the influence of a child's dose of Benadryl.

Going to have to make up the time tomorrow. In the meantime, I think the cats snoring on the sofa and in the sunbeams nearby have the right idea. All the critters in the house are napping except me.

Bodhisattva in the Snow

Bodhisattva in the Snow
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
Coffee break!

Beautiful sunny day out there today after snowing most of the day yesterday. Still chilly, 7°F (-14°C) according to NOAA, but the sun is sparkling on the snow and warming the kitties lying in the sunbeams indoors.

Worked until 9:30 last night, and will be working late again today to meet a deadline. Today should be the hardest day of the project, and then it should start to roll into the smooth but tedious phase.

Coffee's ready. Back to work. Sooner it's done, sooner I can goof off!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ratties on the mend

Hiding with the stuffed toys
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
I'm pleased to say the rattie girlies seem to be showing continued improvement in the sneezing department. All signs of porphyrin around their eyes or wee nosies are gone. Hardly any sneezing from Dureena and Talia. And Delenn is better each day. The humidifier is on full power, we've checked for drafts, and they're still getting a tiny dose of baby Benadryl each day.

I'm also adding a bit of couscous with olive oil and garlic to their meals. I take omega 3 supplements all winter to help with dry eyes and sinuses, so I figured the olive oil couldn't hurt them. They're so tiny, I don't want to take any risks with fish oil based supplements in case there's any mercury in them. And they love the olive oil flavor. Garlic is recommended on the web in various places to help keep them healthy, too. So this pasta salad seems to be a hit. I'm going to look for whole wheat couscous next time I shop. Right now the girls have just got the regular stuff.

No word yet on G'Kar's autopsy. The doc says it will take a while so they can do the cultures properly.

Monday, December 3, 2007

First snow

First snow accumulation of the year. We got a pretty decent snow fall on Dec. 1st. A kind of dry, gritty snow that fell all day, but didn't pile to more than 3 or 4 inches deep. It was good and windy, though, and cold enough to keep us happily indoors. We've obviously still not "gone native."

It's 20°F (-7°C) out right now, according to NOAA with a wind chill of 9°F (-13°C). Tomorrow we're expecting an Alberta Clipper to come through with some more of the white stuff. Glad I'll be working from home, since the morning commute gets so much more "interesting" when it snows during rush hour.

Speaking of working from home... break is over. Time to make myself useful.

Friday, November 30, 2007

100% Chance of snow

Just a quick post as I dive into a working from home frenzy.

According to NOAA it's 4°F (-16°C) out there right now with a wind chill of BRRRR!!! Well, -10°F (-23°C) wind chill, actually. But they're roughly the same. NOAA's also saying we've got a 100% chance of snow for tomorrow. Guaranteed. You betcha!

The rats all seem to be on the mend today. Hardly any sneezes from Dureena and Talia, and Delenn sounds a lot better. Keeping the humidifier running all the time isn't bad for the humans in the house either. The ratties are getting canned pumpkin and other moist treats, too, which is quite popular with all of them.

Well, break's over. Back to work.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quick post on my break

We had flurries last night, but no snow accumulation. Just those nifty ghostlike snow patterns blowing around on the road. Today it's 16°F (-9°C) with a wind chill of 4°F (-16°C). But sunny and calm. Not that I'm out roaming around outside today. I'm working from home for a few days on a big project.

But I wanted to take a few minutes over my lunch break to post my photos from the Anthony Bourdain book signing at the Mall of America the other night. You can see the rest of the set here

Went to the vet for the lady rats yesterday, because they've got the sneezes. Fortunately it looks like a little upper respiratory irritation is all they're dealing with, so they're on some baby Benadryl now, and we've got the humidifier cranked up. Seems to be helping. Now if only my cold would just go away...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rest in peace, Little Dude

Rest in peace, Little Dude
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
19°F (-7°C) / wind chill 7°F (-14°C) according to NOAA. The wind outside is rattling in the chimney.

Today was a mixed day for us. I'm about half over my cold, which is a plus.

Our little Ambassador passed away during his neutering surgery. The vet says she's never lost a rat during a neuter before. My Honey and I are both very sad, as he'd really endeared himself to us in the short time he was with us. The University of MN will do rat autopsies, so we'll be able to find out what happened.

On the up side today we got to meet Tony Bourdain at a book signing at the Mall of America. (I'll post photos of that soon.)

A huge owl flew across the road in front of me on the way home from the book signing, close enough I was a afraid he'd smack into my windscreen. Startled the heck out of me. But it was really lovely.

Then the guild had a really good run through Mechanar in WoW...

More ups than downs. But the ups are still touched by the sad part.

Sleep well, sweet little G'Kar... you will be missed.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The mummy speaks

29°F (-2°C) According to NOAA.

Working from home today. Thank goodness for the vpn.

I managed to catch one of the colds that was being shared all over the airplane, either on the trip out or a fast pouncing one on the way back. I can talk, but my voice sounds like a mummy recently risen from the tomb. Hmm... no, wait. Boris Karloff had a lovely voice as Im-ho-tep (dba Ardath Bey) in my favorite mummy film of all times: The Mummy (1932).

At any rate, I sound lousy. And I'm sick enough that the other denizens of our cube farm would really rather I didn't come in today.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Home again

My cousin and Cassie
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
We got back from our North Carolina trip this afternoon to weather at home around 40°F (4°C) and windy, but bright and sunny.

There was a layover in Atlanta, GA, where we had breakfast and saw someone on a segue, apparently patrolling the corridors. Well, I spotted it, but my Honey missed it. He was disappointed because he's never seen a segue out "in the wild". Only on tv and the interweb.

On the plane out of Atlanta we found ourselves seated in front of a small boy (maybe 4?) named Miah his mom and a slightly older brother. Miah started off the flight by telling his brother-- in one of those child voices that can carry even over airplane engine noise-- a story about a talking penis. His mother stopped that story short, but not before its subject had been announced to everyone sitting within several rows in either direction. Miah fussed, yelled, cried, whined, sneezed, made random hooting noises, kicked my seat, and kept up a constant stream of high-volume 4-year old chatter for the whole 2+ hour flight. His mom tried to quiet him about once every 5 minutes, to little effect.

On the up-side, there was an in-flight movie. We didn't use the headphones, and missed the title, so we had to figure out the plot from whatever clues the visuals gave us. Looked like some kind of Thanksgiving special you might see produced by Hallmark.

Near as we could tell, there was a were-pigeon living on some blond woman's windowsill. Said pigeon was possibly also Blond's therapist in disguise. There seemed to be some fisherman guy in the Pacific North West who missed the Blond Lady, but she was in New York, and neither was willing to move to the other's city.

Someone managed to ruin a roasted turkey at Blond Lady's apartment by squirting it with a broken kitchen faucet, so they had to eat burgers for Thanksgiving. There was a mysterious woman in the burger restaurant who we suspect was the therapist/pigeon in human form.

There was another lady at a more traditional holiday dinner who didn't get any pumpkin pie. Her pielessness seemed to be the last straw, because she left the dinner table in a huff even though two folks offered to share their pie with her. We never managed to figure out what No-pie-for-me Lady was doing in Blond Lady's story.

Long story short, Blond Lady eventually put the were-pigeon in a shoe box and dropped it off in Central Park. The scene changed to show some new brunette lady showing up at Pacific North West Boyfriend's house. Her appearance seemed to perplex him. I think he was expecting Blond Lady. But maybe he was expecting the were-pigeon?

The movie ended there, without showing us where Blond Lady went, or why PNW Boyfriend wasn't happy to see Brunette Lady. We suspect that the were-pigeon hurried back from the park to Blond Lady's apartment and talked her out of a hair-brained scheme. But that's just a guess on our part. At any rate, the pigeon really should have had more screen time, but I guess it was meant to be a small but pivotal role.

Edited to fix some really lousy grammar. From now on maybe I'll just let it stay as a reminder to me to proofread?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Caution Hot Surface

Caution Hot Surface
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
We flew out to North Carolina for Thanksgiving this year to spend it with my cousins. The weather was lovely, the food was splendid, and everyone had a wonderful time.

We're still here (visiting) until day after tomorrow. One of my cousins has been back from an extended army deployment for only a few months, and I hadn't seen him in nearly a decade when he came back. So it's been great getting to introduce him and my other cousins to my husband, and having time to relax and get to know one another again.

We used a Char-Broil Big Easy infrared cooker to cook the turkey. The rim of the cooker was stamped "Caution Hot Surface."

There are more photos from the visit on my flickr page.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sunrise commute on I 494

Sunrise commute on I 494
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
There was a beautiful sky for me to enjoy on my way in to work this morning. Got out the door a bit late, so the sunrise was already well under way as I drove.

This is a blind cellphone capture, but the traffic was also quite slow when I took this. I promise I had my eyes on the road, not the cameraphone.

It was a cool 30-something °F on the ride in, but looks to be shaping up to another 40-something day.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Call me Scrooge

Gray, foggy, drizzly day. NOAA says it's a 42°F (6°C) outside right now. But it's likely to get cold in a day or two.

Sometimes I'm reminded that I'll never be mistaken for a Minnesota native. I got an invitation through my employer to be in the Holidazzle parade as:
... a Jingle Elf, Toy Soldier, Holiday Light Bulb or one of many other storybook characters!
I know a lot of folks here are really excited by the Holidazzle tradition. And it does look (from what I've seen on TV) like an especially good parade. But I have just never been excited enough about any parade to sit outside on a December night in Minnesota to watch a parade go by. So I don't see myself dressing up as a giant light bulb to hike along with one any time soon.

Besides, when I figure in how excited I was yesterday to be able to go grocery shopping without pain, marching beside a float doesn't seem like a great idea.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Relaxing weekend

38°F (3°C)
We had big fluffy snowflakes this afternoon, while it was a bit cooler than it is now, but it was still too warm for them to stick. And still warm enough for Joe to make dinner on the grill.

Spent much of the day playing World of Warcraft with my Joe after running errands in the morning. We decided to try out a pair of Tauren Druids for a change of pace. Played up to level 11 before logging off.

Finally walking again without the leg cramps that made getting around so difficult last month. Haven't tried pushing my luck yet, but it's definitely getting better. That bodes well for a less complicated visit to my cousin's house for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Discombobulated grocery list

Catrina in the window
Originally uploaded by Pockafwye
Current temp outside: 36°F (2°C) overcast and calm.

Snowed a bit this morning. Just enough to make everything damp. The cats are flopped all over the floor, napping in the weak sun coming through the patio door. The exception is Catrina, who is watching the squirrel feeding station in case one of the chipmunks or squirrels should happen to come by. Of course, as soon as Catrina switches to a different window, one of the chipmunks starts raids on the seeds she'd just been watching.

Spent part of the morning figuring out the grocery list for our Thanksgiving in NC with relatives. My Joe and I are cooking the main dishes, and dessert is taken care of already. Keeping things uncomplicated, but yummy.

Here's what I ended up sending in my email.

2 medium onions. Sweet (i.e. Vidalia) onions if possible, else brown.

sage (dried)



2 eggs

butter (unsalted) at least a couple of sticks

1 bulb of fresh garlic

rosemary (fresh, only need a few sprigs)

mild Italian sausage (1/3 lb or about 2 sausages worth)

Bag or box of dried bread cubes (or a loaf of bread to be dried the night before if no plain cubes are available). NOT boxed pre-flavored stuffing mix.

A red apple. Prefer one of the crisper brands, not mealy like red delicious. Fuji, gala, honeycrisp, or whatever is good in your region.

Turkey or chicken broth as available. Preferably one of the boxed "natural" brands like Pacific. 2 of the 1 qt sized boxes or cans. Will be used in gravy and dressing.

Non-stick spray. Preferably the "Mazola Pure" brand. Doesn't matter which "flavor". We usually buy the "butter" one since it's a better multi-tasker.

1 small jar/can of chestnuts (not water chestnuts) if you like them in your dressing. They're spendy, so consider them optional.

A 1/4 cup or so all purpose flour (for the gravy)

Salad (?) - whatever you like in your salad. Especially tomatoes if they're still flavorful where you live. Salad dressing.

We like green beans, steamed and then lightly tossed with olive oil that has been infused with a bit of garlic and a bit of caramelized onion. So a bunch of fresh green beans, enough for 6 adults. If you are from the "must have green bean casserole" tradition instead, get whatever is usually used to make that instead and we'll figure it out.

A wisk for the gravy.

Bread rolls if you want them. Believe it or not, the Pillsbury frozen dinner rolls are quite tasty.

We planned on doing savory chipotle mashed sweet potatoes. For that we'd need enough whole, raw yams/sweet potatoes (whichever looks better in your grocery store) for the 6 adults, figuring a half of a large yam for each. We figured it's more kid-friendly than our other favorite yam dish.

Tobasco brand sauce, chipotle flavor. Small size is fine. (

I'm bringing frozen cranberry sauce in my luggage. Easier and tastier made ahead.

Potatoes for mashing if you want regular mashed potatoes along with the mashed yams. If we go this way, we may not need quite so many yams.

A strainer/colander for draining potatoes.

Either a bit of milk, or some half and half for the mashed potatoes, depending on how rich you like them.

Tupperware for leftovers =)

Turkey notes: I understand we'll be using an oil-free "fryer". Joe says this new fryer thing lets you collect the turkey drippings (?) That's good news for the gravy.

Needless to say, if you do any prep to the bird before we arrive, please make sure to save the neck and other bits inside for the gravy.

Joe would like to brine the turkey the night before. We'll bring the brining spices. He'll also need a clean, unscented plastic trash bag, an ice chest that the turkey will fit into, and about 10 lbs of ice cubes. For a more flavorful brine, a couple of extra quarts of broth would be a bonus.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hello World

Well, ok, I think my audience is likely to be one or two at most. But "hello" just the same.

High 42°F
Low: 27°F
They're starting to use the word "windchill" around here again. Winter must be on its way.