Sunday, November 30, 2008

Something Different

Anything different. . .

(Click to see bigger.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

This Holiday Weekend

It's hard for me to remember, sometimes, that this isn't a holiday week for some readers.
Here's what we've been up to:

Wednesday was Donald's 36th birthday. It was a regular workday, but we still managed to find some time in the morning and evening for fun, and he got to talk to both his parents and his brother on the computer. (If you'd like to talk to people for free over the Internet, do check out Skype. The sound quality is impressive-- better than through a telephone, I think.)

Wednesday afternoon, my parents were out in the clearing burning a pile of brush while Grandpa L. continued discing (disking?) nearby. We went out and spoke with them for a while (and helped gather a few more things to throw on the fire). It looks like they're going to move forward with their house plans, so there should be some interesting changes in the local landscape, soon.

Thursday was (of course) Thanksgiving, which we spent with my father's side of the family. All the aunts, uncles and cousins were in attendance, including those who live in Georgia. They brought their bulldog ("Gertie", if I'm spelling it correctly) down with them, and she provided the entertainment once the kids (my two young cousins) had gone to visit their other grandmother.

Friday, we did our Day-After-Thanksgiving shopping from home, which in some ways has been nice, but in other ways, it's been less than ideal. Also, though it seems like it ought to be better, not having to get up early, stand in long lines, deal with traffic and possibly be jostled by complete strangers, that's all part of the experience, and without it things just don't feel as much like the kick-off of the holiday season.

The day after Thanksgiving is the traditional day for many (most?) people in the U.S. to put up/decorate the Christmas tree, but as I wrote in the previous entry, I'm thinking of putting that off for another day or two. No sense doing it when I'm not in the mood to enjoy it, right?

In Donald's family, as in most Swedish families, they don't decorate the tree until Christmas Eve morning, but they then leave it there until January 13th. (I think. . .) That's definitely a difference in our traditions! I think Mom was always eager to get the Christmas tree down soon after Christmas day. . .

This afternoon, we went to Aunt Debbie and Uncle Jim's Iron Bowl party. While most of the others watched the game, Carrie, Kimberly, Donald and I played card games. It was nice to see everyone, and fortunately, the "right" team won, so everyone who actually cared about it was happy and easier to live with than if they'd lost. ;o)

The downside: There was a group photo, and when I saw it later that night (at home), I was less than pleased with my part of it. Gross. I don't really look like that, do I? (Please lie to me, if necessary. Otherwise, I may well cry.) Seriously, I don't look that bad in the mirror. . . I know that if I lose some weight I'll be somewhat more photogenic, but in the meantime, I'd much rather be behind the camera than in front of it.

Okay. I know I'm not completely unattractive. There are probably even people who'd happily trade bodies/general physical condition with me. That said, I'm still feeling fairly depressed about this, and I'm not looking forward to being forced into family photos this Christmas. I certainly won't be printing them up for display in my own house.

Anyway. Putting vanity aside.

All in all, a nice holiday weekend, despite unflattering photos and rain. And I definitely have a lot to be thankful for, even if I do look chubby in photographs. I should be thankful to live in such a land of plenty that chubbiness is the problem instead of not having enough to eat-- and I am thankful for that, among so many, many other things. It's good to be reminded to take the time to remember all those blessings. . .

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wasting Time w/ Photoshop

I'm an expert. Not at Photoshop, but at wasting time with it.

If I were an expert at Photoshop, I'd have made the edges look curled, torn, and/or burned like an old piece of paper, but oh well. The program was in a really bad mood toward the end of this session, so I decided this was good enough.

(Click to see it larger.)

I was having lots of fun and contemplating making "WANTED" posters for everyone I've ever known, until Photoshop started misbehaving. Maybe some other time.

Meanwhile, no, our Christmas tree isn't up yet, and it probably won't be going up today. To tell the truth, I just don't feel in the mood for Christmas, yet. Sometimes it feels like a waste to put so much effort into something that no-one will even see (apart from the two of us). I'm sure I'll end up putting it up sooner or later, but at the moment it just seems like a lot of work for nothing. . . (Yes, obviously the Christmas spirit isn't in me today.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rising Early, Trixie, and GoogleReader Pruning

Don't you just love it when the puppy wakes you up before six o'clock, and then you figure you might as well stay up, since you're awake anyway?

My problem is that (after the first foggy minute or two pass) I'm filled with morning enthusiasm (and I think "hey, this way I'll have a whole hour with the house all nice and quiet-- no distractions!"), only to have that enthusiasm ebb away after a couple of hours unless kept carefully going. I'm just going to have to keep it going!

** ** ** ** **

I am seriously considering taking someone off my Google Reader.

This person doesn't even know I exist (I'm 100% lurker on her blog and only found her through her comments on another blog where I never breathe a word) so there's no risk of hurt feelings. I started reading because it looked like we had some shared interests, and every now and then I do still enjoy her blog, but slowly it's gotten more and more negative-- and not just in the "drat, the cat just puked on the couch" or "I'm so sick of figuring out what to cook every day" way, because heaven knows I can relate to that only too well (well, not specifically cat puke, but you get the point), but more in the "oh my gosh, the world markets are collapsing" and "half my favorite restaurants are going out of business in this rotten economy" way.

I know we're all bound to be negative from time to time. I know I do it, too, though I hope I'm not this bad about it. . . It has gotten to the point that when I saw this morning that she had written a new post, I debated whether or not to even read it. "If it's something about how awful things are, " I told myself, "I'm probably going to take her off my list." Sure enough, it's basically this: "I had a great birthday, but then I heard on the news about poverty and unemployment in my state." (sigh)

Maybe I'm wrong, here, but that just seems like the opposite of "every cloud has a silver lining"-- something like "it's always raining somewhere" or "every day is someone's worst day"-- both true, I'm sure, but not exactly the sort of thing that braces us for our own worst days.

I'm probably too sensitive to this type of thing, lately, but I'm trying to remove the stones from my shoes before embarking on what threatens to be a long, tiring journey, these next few years. . .

(And with that, I have now successfully turned this entry into the very type of entry I myself am trying to avoid! I'm sorry about that.)

** ** ** ** **

Did I earlier write about how nice and quiet the house would be for an hour? Strike that and replace it with something about how Trixie would keep barking every fifteen minutes or so, and then when I would open the crate to take her outside, would just stand there and look at me as though she had no idea what an open door was used for, and what on earth made me think she wanted to leave this cozy crate in the first place? . . . (rolls eyes)

Then, when I finally get her out and deposit her on the kitchen step, instead of getting down to business and finding a parcel of earth just begging to become an impromptu puppy toilet, she became sidetracked-- first by the squeaky chicken Molly left outside overnight, and then by drops of water falling from the roof. She was actually pouncing on them and digging, like she thought the weaselly little things had gone to ground, or something. (Well, I guess that technically speaking, she was right. . .) (She hasn't had much experience with rain, pampered pooch that she is, and she still doesn't really know what to make of falling water.)

Oh, you crazy little puppy!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Too Lazy to Title Today.

I need to catch up on all the "Internetting" that I've gotten behind on in the past several days of doing other things. There's blog-reading, comment-reading/-responding, twitters, Flickr, and so on. It doesn't take long for these things to pile up!

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Wednesday morning, I wrote that we were having problems with our water. Fortunately, that soon cleared up, and we think we know what happened and have tried to prevent it from happening again.

Going without running water isn't much fun, even if you have water saved for emergencies. No showers, no easily flushed toilets. You can't even brush your teeth or wash your hands without a hassle. (Try washing one hand while pouring water with the other.) Still, at least every other aspect of life could continue as usual. Not so on Thursday morning. . .

Thursday, Trixie barked to be let out fairly early (as usual), and it wasn't long afterward that the electricity fluttered a couple of times and then went out completely. I think it was only out for an hour or so, but that was long enough for me to get impatient. I rarely think about how many of my morning rituals rely on power. Showering, turning on the local news on TV, turning on the lights (because it was still pretty dark when I woke), checking email, bumping the heat up a degree or two. All postponed indefinitely. (I think that not knowing how long it would be until we had power again was the most frustrating aspect.) At least I could still have breakfast, since my usual is cereal and milk-- but the house was dark, chilly, and boring. (Donald was still asleep. He's not a morning person, anyway, so it was just as well. I've learned not to bother with serious conversation until later in the day. (g))

So, the point? None, really. Just to remind myself of how spoiled I am by the necessities of modern life.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Hm. Just read that ABC hasn't ordered any new episodes of Pushing Daisies. Disappointing. It was definitely something different from the ordinary TV show, so I suppose it was inevitable. Still annoying, though.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Thanksgiving's already sneaking up on us (much too soon, since that means Christmas is just around the corner)! This week will be much out of the ordinary for us. First, there's Donald's birthday on Wednesday. Then Thursday is Thanksgiving. (We'll be eating lunch with family at my paternal grandparents' home.) Black Friday* follows, of course. Then Saturday afternoon Aunt Debbie, Uncle Jim, and John are hosting an Iron Bowl party. Neither of us are that interested in football, but fortunately we won't be the only ones not glued to the screen.

*For internationals who may not be familiar with this term, the Friday after Thanksgiving is called "Black Friday", and it's traditionally a day for big sales in many stores. Lots of people get up well before the crack of dawn-- and some never even go to bed at all the night before!-- to be waiting at the doors for early bird specials and to try to catch the best deals, which are usually available in very limited numbers. You're sure to have to deal with lines, crowds, and traffic-- and some people seem to use it as an excuse to be crazy and rude-- but if you're lucky, you can get some great deals. You can read a couple of explanations for the name on Wikipedia. (I never know how far to trust Wikipedia. The only explanation I've ever heard is the one about "black ink/profit".)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Recent musical obsessions*:

Instrumental Section--

"The Kiss" from Last of the Mohicans.
A.K.A. "The Gael" by Dougie MacLean. No wonder it sounds Scottish, right? ;o)

"Cora" from the same film.
Much more subdued than the previous piece, but still beautiful.

"River Waltz" from The Painted Veil.
I think I've linked to this song before, but back then, the best video I could find wasn't of the best quality. This is the piano solo version. For the orchestral version (which I also love), check out this video.

"Other" Section--

"Thursday" by Asobi Seksu.
Not crazy about the name of the band, now that I know what it means in Japanese (I mean, please. Must you have a risqué name in order to be "cool"? Do you want me to be embarrassed to talk about you in front of my grandparents?), but I do like this song of theirs.

"February Air" by Lights.
I would never have heard of this artist if her music hadn't been featured on a couple of Old Navy commercials, and the same is true for quite a few other bands/singers. This is one reason why I don't get people who moan and groan about "selling out" when music they love is used in advertising. (The other reason is that I think those moaners and groaners are generally pretentious counter-culture types, and I have little patience for them. What? Can you only enjoy music so long as it's not known and liked by the masses? Why not just like it or not like it regardless of who else likes it, plays it, or uses it to create an image that helps sell things?)

"Voices Carry" by 'Til Tuesday.
When I was a kid, I thought she was singing something like "Baby, don't go! / This is scary!"-- like apparently everyone who was young when this was popular-- though I never really knew what she was supposed to be scared of. The song and video are pretty silly (with the exaggeratedly mean boyfriend), but for whatever reason, it makes the list.

"Cars" by Gary Numan.
He looks kind of creepy and definitely silly. (He reminds me of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, if any of you watch that.) The non-singing portions of the song are much more familiar than the lyrics, probably because the lyrics are so odd.

Stopping now because this is past boring for most of you, I'm sure. . .

*I'm not so much interested in the videos, but YouTube is the easiest way for me to link to music. Videos are ok, but I wasn't an MTV kid/teen, and often I find that videos "ruin" music for me by forcing me to look closer at the fact that the band or their lyrics promote things I don't support. It's easier to ignore that fact if I'm immersed in melody alone. Not that any of these videos in particular make me uncomfortable. Actually, I haven't even watched all of them all of the way through. I tend to start them, then leave them going in the background while I do other things on the computer. Aren't you glad it's early enough in the morning that I'm rambly and decided to tell you all of this?

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Donald had some dental work done this week, and he's still not feeling completely back to normal. I guess I was lucky, back when I had my wisdom teeth removed, that I didn't have to take more than one of the pain pills they gave me. Apparently those things can make you feel sick and just generally not-quite-right.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Blogger is still underlining my contractions in red. So weird! I didn't know that I couldn't use contractions, Blogger, or I wouldn't have-- or shouldn't have-- tried to. Yep. Four for four! "Haven't" seems to be ok, though. Oh, but "ok" isn't. . .

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

We're more seriously looking into getting a new range. The situation with the burners just keeps getting worse, and rather than pour money into possibly fixing up an old appliance, it just makes more sense to put it toward a new one. I'm not sure how old our range is, but since it came with our 1978-ish trailer, I'd guess it's probably of comparable age-- 70s to early 80s. Normally, I'd say that something made in (. . . or, well, someone born in) the late 70s was still practically a baby and certainly nowhere near "old". In fact, I would stick my tongue out at anyone who suggested such a ridiculous thing. But in this case, I make an exception. The range has lived out its useful life*, and it's time to let it retire.

*The AHAM-- Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers-- tells us that according to a 1996 survey, "we" expect a slide-in single oven range-- like ours-- to last seventeen years. Let's see. . . That would be 1991. This range was probably already feeling its age by then. On the other hand, I know someone who's had the same range since before I was born in 1979, so. . .

Aha! I found a site that explains how to use the serial number to tell the age, and unless I'm mistaken, the range was manufactured in October 1985, so it just turned twenty-three. Good enough for me. I also saw the price for replacement burners-- and assuming replacing them would even fix that problem, it's still not worth it to put that much money into such an agéd appliance, I think. Sorry if that makes me part of the modern throw-away society. (shrug)

While I was at it, I checked out our lovely avocado dryer (that also came with the trailer), and it looks like it was manufactured the same year as the trailer-- 1978. Fortunately, it still seems to be working properly. (fingers crossed)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Can't remember what else I was going to say, so it must not have been too important. . .

It seems awfully dark to be only 2:30! I'm taking a while adjusting to the time change and shrinking days, this year. . .

P.S. Blogger, I don't like the way you eat my double and triple spaces when I go to the "edit HTML" tab. It's rude and completely uncalled-for!

P.P.S. I apologize for the excessive use of asterisks and footnotes in this entry. (I probably "can't" call them footnotes, though, since they just went at the bottom of sections instead of the bottom of the whole page. I thought it made more sense that way.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nothing New, Really.

Nothing big has been happening for the past several days. (In fact, just what has been happening. . .? Life, I guess. . .)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Trixie's still in the process of losing her milk teeth and growing her new set of choppers. (Do you call them "choppers" if they belong to a dog? Because dog's teeth don't really make that "chop" sound that human teeth do. It's more of a snapping sound, I'd say. . .)

With the majority of her lost teeth so far, she either lost them while outside or ate them. Or both. We've only managed to see two of them (about a day apart)-- and those only because Donald "helped" them out because she was obviously trying to get them out, pawing at the side of her face, etc. (Don't look at me that way. He didn't tie the tooth to a doorknob or anything primitive like that.)

Here she is in her crate:

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Hm. That was weird.

For a minute or two, Blogger's automatic spell-checker told me that "didn't" wasn't a real word. Apparently, Blogger doesn't think I should use contractions at all, as it is also (temporarily) underlining "won't" and "doesn't". . .

I guess it makes sense. Data (the android from Star Trek for you poor souls not in the know) couldn't use contractions, and Blogger's spell-check is presumably a computer (or, well, a program, but that's close enough for me), so maybe it's a related problem. (You'd really think they would've figured out a way to fix a minor issue like that by whatever distant date Star Trek: TNG is meant to take place in.)

It seems that Blogger doesn't recognize itself as an entity (or whatever), because when I type "Blogger's", it doesn't like that either. . . Oh, well, now it changed it's mind and deems it acceptable!

(pauses, then whispers) Do you think it's been listening in on what I'm typing?

And the really sad thing is that, based on what I've recently seen on FAILblog and a few similar sites, I'm pretty sure that there are a few people out there who might think that was actually possible! Or that the spell-check program is actually a person with a dictionary, carefully monitoring every word we write and underlining the misspellings in red pixels.

Here's a perfect example of what I mean:

I feel sorry for this person, but also a little frightened-- and not by the rainbows. Someone who believes that a "sprinkler rainbow" is evidence of something bad in the water (one of many conspiracy theories in her videos) seems capable of believing almost anything. That really is scary to me.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Great. Our water's not working, and Donald has to go somewhere first thing this morning. So, no water until he gets back (which fortunately shouldn't be too long) and we can figure out if it's something we can fix or if we have to call someone. Or maybe it'll just magically fix itself. (Not holding my breath.)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Well, I guess that's it for now.

You have Trixie's earlier-than-usual morning bark to thank for this little bundle of nothing. I am evidently prone to pointless rambling when I first wake up.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I guess I'm "tacky", then. . .

I was reading through some blogs this morning and came across a recent post from "KiwiRia" about Etiquette Hell and some things she'd found there that mystified her. For instance, she didn't understand why people would think that it was bad etiquette to open gifts during the wedding reception. Neither do I!

I've read about this "breach of etiquette" before, and it always irks me-- perhaps because we opened gifts during our wedding reception, and I don't think it was "tacky" to do so. In fact, it was expected that we open our gifts there in front of everyone so that the guests could (1) watch as we first saw what they had given us, and (2) admire the gifts from everyone else.

Personally, I might rather not have had to open them at the reception, because I'm fairly shy and rarely welcome an audience. There was also that pressure you feel to make sure everyone sees that you appreciate their thoughtfulness. In this case, that meant lots of smiling with cheeks that were already sore from hours of constant grinning! ;o) However, not opening the gifts would have suggested to at least some guests that we didn't care about their presents.

Anyway, I hope that somehow, some way, someone who's trashed a bridal couple simply because they opened the wedding gifts toward the end of a long reception will read this and-- if not feel ashamed of themselves for their own rudeness-- at least have a change of heart and realize that this practice is traditional for many people. It's certainly not a "wow! look at all those presents! gimme gimme gimme right now!" thing, for most of us. We're simply fulfilling the guests' expectation and showing appreciation for their generosity.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Microsoft Virtual Earth

This may be old news to all of you, but it was new to us.

Donald happened across something interesting this evening: Microsoft Virtual Earth.

How interesting it is to you, personally, may depend on whether or not you're able to see your own house on it. Also, if you're able to see your house in Google's "Street View" thing-a-ma-jig, you may not be impressed. Our house isn't on Street View, but we're able to see it (and my maternal grandparents' place) from multiple angles with Microsoft's "Bird's Eye" feature-- and that is pretty neat!

Here's how it works: Open the page I've linked to above. Type in the address you want (or use the zoom/magnifying glass and arrows to find your own way around). When you get in fairly tight on the area you want to see photos of, click "Bird's eye" in the menu at the top of the map. (If the words are greyed out, that means there are no bird's-eye-view photos of that area available.) Try clicking the rotate buttons on the left-hand side of the map to see different angles of the location. (This may not be available for some places.)

What is and is not available seems to be fairly random. We can't see my parents' house, for instance, and yet there's our house from four different angles!

Like I said, pretty neat. But also a little bit. . . creepy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Photos & Flattery

I was flattered the other day when someone wrote me wanting to purchase one of my photos on Flickr. (I decided that the compliment was payment enough, particularly since I wasn't sure that the original would really be large enough to print on the scale he wanted.)

In the usual way of things, it wasn't a photo I'd have expected anyone to take special notice of. I'd supposed the world had already had its fill of "birds perched on dilapidated pier remnants" photos. ;o) However, the photo apparently struck a chord with this particular person, who has fond memories of growing up on the shores of Mobile Bay.

I don't know if he'll ever actually have it printed or not, but I like to think that he will. Imagining my photo resting calmly in the background of another person's life makes me smile. It's not all that often, lately, that I feel so connected to random strangers around the world. . .

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Speaking of photography. . .

Now that I know (most of) the secrets behind the dreamy photography technique I finally identified as "the Orton Effect"-- and have since moved on to fiddling with layers and textures-- I'm now looking into night-time photography. I don't really know much about it beyond the most basic basics, but I know that the possibilities intrigue me. It's wonderful, how many things there are to try with hobbies you love. You can really never run completely out of new avenues to explore, can you?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Booking Through Thrursday: Why Buy?

Booking Through Thursday's prompt for this week:

I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?

If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?

There are a few reasons why I buy books, depending on the circumstances of the purchase.
  • I know I love it (or I'm reasonably sure I'll love it because of experience with the author, or a really good review or blurb). If I love a book, it's worth owning (assuming I can afford a copy). I want to have it available for re-reads. I'd be irritated if I had to make a special trip to the library (or satisfy myself with reading off the computer monitor) every time I wanted to read an old favorite. And what if it was already checked out, right when I needed to read it again? That would be unacceptable.
  • They are objets d'art. ;o) I sometimes enjoy just looking over my best-loved books, lined up neatly on their shelves. Even the tattered paperbacks I've had since middle school are collectibles, as far as I'm concerned, though I do tend to put the "pretty" books on display and keep the falling-apart ones on the lower shelves, behind closed doors. Not everyone appreciates the beauty of an old Bantam paperback the way I do.
  • They are souvenirs. (This reason ties in with the previous one.) They can be traditional souvenirs-- bought while on vacation-- or they can be souvenirs of periods of my life (adolescence, college) or even souvenirs of people or events. Looking at, touching, and smelling these books is a trip down memory lane. A library book just isn't the same for me.
  • I prefer to read my own copy. I like to feel free to read at my own pace, taking as much time as I like, stopping for days or weeks, then picking it back up again whenever I want. I don't like knowing that there's a deadline. Also, I just like the feeling that "this is mine" and knowing that I can write in it, take it wherever I like, and so on.
  • Sometimes buying is cheaper than the gas and time to go to the library. If I can get the book cheaply enough (at library sales, for instance), I'll take more of a gamble on unfamiliar titles or authors.
  • I can't (easily) get it at the library. This is actually an issue, sometimes.
And I think that about covers it. :o)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bits & Pieces

Just like the title says. :o)

Some of the bits may be tastier than others. Skip at will! ;o)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

When I was a kid, we had a book about a white dog with black spots (Harry) who hated baths and got so dirty that he ended up looking like a black dog with white spots:

If we let Trixie dig in the red soil as much as she'd like to, we'd soon end up with an all-red dog. (Red until her hair shed the soil, which happens surprisingly quickly with these self-cleaning Eskies.)

Here she is after a glorious hour or two of digging:

This is what she's s'posed to look like, in case you've forgotten. ;o)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Donald recently cleared out the dog pen so that we could leave Trixie out on her own, sometimes. Technically speaking, we could leave her out on her own in the whole yard, but the pen is a more controlled environment. No overgrown areas. Less potential for snakes. Not as many things she can get and eat without our knowing about it.

Today, she was in the pen, and we'd let Molly out for a while so she could roam the whole yard without a puppy shadowing her every move. We'd done this before with nothing worse than a few dissatisfied barks from Trixie. But this time, when I went to bring them back inside, I found that Trixie had gotten her head stuck in the gap between the gate and the gate post. Molly was right there in her face, making things worse by barking.

Trixie must have found a way to get her head out (in an effort to get to Molly, no doubt), but then couldn't get it back in again. Fortunately, it wasn't hard to free her, once I opened the gate, but then Molly began acting crazy and scared Trixie into her submissive "belly-up" pose.

Eventually, everything was sorted out. Trixie was sweet (not nibbling) for a while, like she usually is after she's been (severely) scolded, scared, or just woken-up-- but (also like usual) she soon recovered and was back to her jaunty self.

For just a minute, though-- when I saw Molly barking frantically and Trixie just lying there at the gate, not responding when I called her name-- I felt sick with worry that something awful had happened. That puppy's going to have to be a little more careful with her well-being, for both our sakes!

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Minnesotans, you aren't really going to elect Al Franken into a serious political office, are you? (What is it about Minnesota and kooky political figures?) I can't believe it's so close that there has to be a recount. The whole thing seems like a really bad joke. You know, the kind you see on Saturday Night Live.

Incidentally, I honestly don't understand how that show has survived so long. Maybe it was funny once upon a time. Maybe it can be funny, now, on very rare occasions, but every time we've watched it in the past however-many years, we've been sorely disappointed. Is it just us? Do you have to be drunk to appreciate their way of taking a mediocre joke and repeating it over and over again until it's actually painful (for the sober and mentally competent) to watch? Yeah, that must be it. It's certainly not that we don't have a sense of humor. If you like silly late-night stuff, try MadTV for a change, sometime. It can be stupid, too, but I think it's generally better than SNL.

But I digress. Back to the subject at hand.

Al Franken? Seriously? (shudder)

I try not to make (too many) comments on people's physical appearances, because sometimes we just can't help the way we look-- and I'm not under the illusion that I'm everyone's ideal of beauty, myself. That said, the man gives me a major case of the gross-outs. I think it's his mouth. . . and his weird "Jokeresque" eyebrows. (shudder again) If so much else about the man weren't also repugnant, maybe I wouldn't dislike the very look of him, but as it is-- yuck. Also, if he weren't such a (fill in the blank), I wouldn't feel comfortable insulting him publicly, even if I still privately thought him hideous. (shrug)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

The pa-tay-o (as I like to call it) still looks kind of like this, from a distance:

But one of these days it's gonna be great. ;o)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

It's a real nail-biter!

Our local energy cooperative recently sent out ballots.

As members of this cooperative, we get to vote for trustees for the various districts-- and to encourage members to vote (by mail-in ballot), we are promised a $5 credit on our electric bills, so long as our vote is received by a certain date.

Well, a $5 credit is worth the effort, I think, so I'll definitely be voting. I just don't know how I'm going to make this decision, though. . .

I guess I'll just have to read through the candidate profiles and go with my gut. . .

I Fear for the Future of the World. ;o)

No, this isn't another political post. ;o)

I've just been looking at FAIL Blog for the first time, and oh my gosh!

I have to wonder if some of these are real (or if they've been Photoshopped or something), but either way, I'm getting some good laughs out of it. (Some are better than others, of course, and don't bother looking at the comments, as they appear to have been taken over by a group of unruly teenage monkeys on drugs.)

So, if you need a laugh, maybe take a look. :o)

Absolute Trivia About AL License Plates

Here's one for the "as if there aren't enough more important things to get upset about" file. . .

Alabama's changing to a new state license plate, starting next year (and lasting until 2014). Personally, I welcome some change, because I've never been crazy about the "Stars Fell on Alabama" one we have now. (But Andy Rooney can still just keep his grumpy opinions about it to himself, as far as I'm concerned. Look, dude, it's a song [and a novel] based on a [locally] famous meteor shower. Go find something else to gripe about, ok? . . .I find it amusing to refer to elderly grumps as "dudes". One of those little joys that mercifully abound in life!)

So, anyway, the new plate will feature a beach scene and the words "Sweet Home Alabama". Evidently a tourism official from the northern part of the state feels that the plate should have included their mountains, too.

But. . . wouldn't that make it look like we have beaches and mountains in the same place? (We don't. Mountains are in the north, beaches are down here on the coastal plain.) And even if you could figure a way to get them both on the same plate, mightn't they look a bit cramped?

In a way, I feel sorry for Mr. Mountain-Tourism. It must be hard, knowing that most tourists (if they think of Alabama at all) think of our state's beaches. Then there's the painful fact that most Southeastern mountain-seekers (including those in my own family) aren't satisfied with what Alabama has to offer, and prefer to go further into Appalachia. But please, try to remember that this is just a license plate. Truly, it's not that big of a deal.

And maybe, someday, we'll have one with a picture of a mountain on it. But only if you behave yourself in the meantime. ;o)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wanted: Fat Pants

Pants that fit me last year no longer want to button comfortably (or, in some cases, at all). I knew I wasn't exactly losing weight, these past several months, but neither did I think I was (still) gaining it. We have a bathroom scale, of course, but not being a fitness-geek, I never step near the darn thing. (Well, would you, if it kept insisting you were getting pudgy?!) I prefer to ignore concrete numbers whenever possible, but now my own once-beloved pants are turning on me.

(sigh) This means I have to figure out some way of losing weight-- meaning some way that I can actually stick with long enough to see results. We're coming up on what is universally acknowledged as the peak seasons for weight-gain (festive meals, desserts galore, cold-weather cravings for all sorts of goodies-- and that holiday feeling that you really deserve to indulge), but if I ever want to wear half my wardrobe again, it has to be done.

Why, oh why can't typing/mousing, TV-remote-pushing, and page-turning be aerobic exercise?! Those are the types of things I want to do in my free time-- not sitting for hours on the bike or (shudder) running. Cruel world!

The most irritating thing? Knowing that no matter what I do, I'm not going to be able to slim down noticeably in time for all those holiday photos. Nope. The 2008 "out of shape" me will be captured forever in untold numbers of digital photographs. Oh well.

(Hey, you family photographers out there? If you could, whenever we get ready to take those pictures, please tell me how to pose so that I at least don't appear to have too much of a double chin. You know, "lower your chin a little" or "angle yourself more to the right" or "wrap this scarf around your neck". ;o) Please?)

If When If -- Ok, let's be optimistic here!-- WHEN I lose enough weight, I'm going to take a gazillion photos of myself to look at and show off when I'm old(er) and gray(er) and have earned the right to not care so much if I put on a little extra weight.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mole or Mole Cricket? & Etc.

Something has been messing up our lawn for the past couple of weeks. I'm not sure if it's a mole or a mole cricket. Donald thinks it's a cricket, and he may be right, but I wouldn't have thought an insect would make such large, extensive tunnels.

I seem to remember thinking as a kid that these little raised trails in the ground were fun to follow, smushing the grass back into place as I went. (Yes, it just may be possible that I was a weird kid. For a certain amount of time, I had a weekly dusting ritual, and I thought it was fun to clear the holes in our salt shaker with a toothpick. . . For better or worse, "clean freak" behaviors subsided with age. Come visit my house now, if you don't believe me. Then again, no. Please don't come visiting without prior notice. The clutter has nearly reached catastrophic level, and it'll probably take a couple of days just to get it decent again.)

As an adult, I find the tunneling simply irritating. Smushing grass and soil back down somehow doesn't hold the same fascination as it once did, and I'm preoccupied by thoughts of turf damage. Ha. "Turf". That almost makes it sound like I'm one of those poor sod-obsessed souls who trim the lawn one blade at a time with specialty shears. Trust me, I'm not. I probably ought to care more about the lawn than I do, in fact, but even I feel the good old burn of groundskeeper's ire when I see that crazy network of ridges pop up across the yard.

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In other news--
The patio-ing continues apace! Maybe it's technically already taken too long for "apace" to apply. It's picking up steam, anyway.

Weekend before last, we set the posts (as you may recall). This weekend, Donald filled in the gaps around the posts, getting the pavers in there all nice and snug. He also cut the decorative (curvy) edge of the whatever-you-call-'em boards that will eventually support the shade cloth. Now I need to get started painting those boards and the lumber that we'll use to build a little railing around parts of the patio. It's starting to look like something, now. (Something other than a pile of supplies just outside our fence, that is.) I'm looking forward to getting it "done" enough that I can decorate in it and around it. (Silly me. As if there's not plenty enough to decorate inside the house!) I'm not looking forward quite so much to getting up on the ladder to paint, but it'll have to be done, as there are high-up spots needing another coat.

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Today, I talked about polymer clay (and showed some samples. . . and guided a little bead-making) at a local home-maker's club that my paternal grandmother is a member of. I saw a couple of family members I haven't seen in a while-- as well as the lady who was secretary when I was in elementary school-- so that was nice. :o)

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I came home this afternoon to find that a magazine had been delivered for me. Months ago, someone from this new magazine contacted me via my polymer clay button shop (on Etsy), wondering if I would be interested in sending them some of my buttons for possible inclusion in this new publication (Stitch, a "quilting arts" magazine). Of course I was interested-- but so much time had passed without feedback that I thought they might have decided against including my buttons. But here it is-- a photo of some of my little buttons in a magazine right next to a handful of other button-makers' works! Very exciting! (Maybe it's time I started paying more attention to my Etsy shops, again. . . I've been feeling guilty about neglecting them, anyway, but even more so now!)

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I'm still not used to this time change (and the still shortening days). Already the very last vestiges of twilight are fading away, and it's only 5:15! Enough blogging for now, I guess. Hope your week's off to a pleasant start!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kind of Negative Today, I'm Afraid. . .

As for the election, the less said, the better, lest I make myself sick. :o)

At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that the majority of the people living around me-- well, make that of the voters living around me-- are of a similar mind, politically speaking. Seventy-six percent of voters in my county tried to elect McCain (according to what polls say at the moment, at least). That truly does make me feel somewhat better. In my online life, since I haven't actively sought out blogs and friends on a political basis, I often feel overwhelmed by liberal viewpoints. I mean no offense to anyone in particular-- and of course if I'm upset, it's up to me to just take an Internet vacation-- but does get old after a while to be surrounded by people whose opinions (on certain issues) are so diametrically opposed to my own.

Oh, and one more thing. Yesterday morning, one channel's local news show (and I have a feeling it was a common occurrence across the country) featured an interview with a woman who'd been waiting at her polling place since some ridiculous hour of the morning-- 2 or 4 a.m., I think. She explained that she wanted to "make sure her vote would count". What? Does she think voting is like a Black Friday sale with a limited number of ballots in stock? "Oh, I'm sorry, but we're all out. You shoulda come earlier. Better luck next time!" Ugh. Look, lady, my vote at 9:something in the morning counted just as much as yours, no matter how long you waited in (a nonexistent) line. In fact, I could've waited around and been the last person to vote, and my vote would still have been worth as much as yours. Please get over yourself just the tiniest bit. Please?

On to the next thing!

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This morning, I was researching some medication-- trying to see if the one we get from the local pharmacy is the same one offered at Walmart for $4 . One of my top results had this "teaser" under the link in Google: "He wrapped his arms around me, diclofenac drawing me close. ... Desire, he called it, diclofenac sod 75mg maybe it was. But only you are laughing to..."

Mm-hmm. . . Yeah. . . Weird. I guess this is just one of those sites that pretends to be about everything, trying to lure you in for some nefarious purpose or other. Still, pretty exceptionally weird, I thought.

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Oh my gosh. . .

If you want to be weirded out and. . . well, honestly scared by some people's taste for conspiracy theories, google "FEMA coffins" and see what you get. (There are some videos on YouTube that are beyond belief.) Apparently, FEMA (headed by the evil George W. Bush-- member of the sinister Illuminati) plans to execute 90% of the U.S. population and crush the rest of us under the iron fist of martial law. (rolls eyes) Excuse me if I'm more worried over about a zillion other more likely Worst Case Scenarios.

It's sickening that the same idiots who believe this stuff are the ones that FEMA shovels out the money for at the slightest provocation. Yeah, I'm afraid of FEMA-- afraid that it's letting the undeserving dupe it out of months of free meals and hotel stays-- not to mention all the other ways it wastes the tax-payers' hard-earned cash.

By the way-- assuming that these black plastic bins are tied to FEMA at all and that they are intended to hold bodies (both of which appear to have been proven false), doesn't it seem more likely that they'd be placed around the country in preparation for a major disaster? I mean, that's what FEMA's there for-- to help restore order after a big problem, and big problems have the potential to kill lots of people at one time.

But these people don't want to hear a logical explanation. Not really. Some folks are just convinced that the whole world is out to get them-- and they seem to like it that way. (Same mentality as married couples who are happier when they bicker than they are when they get along nicely. I guess they feel that life is more exciting when lived on the brink of a catastrophe (even an imagined one). That's probably also why some people insist on risky behavior-- drug-use, for instance, or even something more socially acceptable, like living beyond their means. . . Personally, I just throw the occasional temper tantrum and over-indulge in junk food. ;o) (And procrastinate. . .)

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Speaking of FEMA waste, prepare to be infuriated:

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This has been just one negative thing after another, hasn't it? Sorry about that. I'll be on the look-out for something fun for next time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Playing Catch-Up

It feels like I haven't written a "general update" in a while. . .

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Donald's been working from home a lot, these past few weeks. There are occasional trips to R. (hometown, where office is located), D./M./S.F. (other nearby towns that seem to "share" a shopping mall that has a Panera Bread-- a.k.a. "the office away from the office", as they meet there so often), and the businesses of clients, but most of the time, he's been working right here at home. We're not sure how long that'll last.

Once his office is finished in the (currently under interior construction) company building, he'll probably spend a couple weeks or so working every day in town, to get more properly into the groove of things. After that, he thinks his day-to-day location will depend on the specific tasks allotted for each day. When making things for the company itself, it makes more sense to work in the building, where he can get instant feedback, but on days when he'll be focused completely on larger projects for other businesses, he should be able to work from home. Then there's the possibility that his "department" might get enough business to expand and hire more employees. If that happens, he may not be able to work from home as much.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens. As long as the business keeps its main office in R., his drive to and from work/meetings with clients should be much shorter and less stressful than his old drive to Mobile.

. . . So far, I've been writing only about work location and the commute, and of course that's only a small part of the big picture. For the rest, I think he's enjoying the new job. It's more about designing websites than his old job had come to be, and I think he feels that designing is the fun part of the process-- so that's good. . .

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Donald was in the "local" section of the Mobile paper, last week. (Or was it the week before?) He knew that someone had written up a press release relating (I think) to the new branch of the business-- and he'd sent in a photo at their request-- but he didn't even know it had been printed until his prosthodontist mentioned having seen him in the paper. So, he's famous now. ;o) And I am, too, "kind of", because I'm the one who took the photo that they printed. (Of course, I'm sure it wasn't credited to me, so technically, I'm still only famous in the eyes of Molly and Trixie, because they've known all along that they're living with a "famebus phlotograpper". . .) Or in other words, yeah, we've hit the Big Time now, alright. (g)

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Over the weekend, we put the nine posts for the patio-covering structure in the ground, braced them, and set them in concrete. I call it a "patio-covering structure" because I'm not sure what the proper name would be. It's going to be kind of like a pergola, I guess, only with shade cloth over the open, wooden "roof".

Anyway, it's good to have those posts up. It looks fairly junky just now, with the crazily mismatched braces and strings all over the place, but those'll be going away before long. It's amazing how just those nine posts already make the patio feel more like a room. Just a little vertical element was all it took to make it feel quite a bit more private than it did before-- not to mention larger. It's also easier to begin imagining how we can fill the space with a swing, a small table, and some chairs.

I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like when we're all done, but that probably won't happen for a while. The time change has taken away more of the evening light-- and the days are still getting shorter-- so we'll probably be working on it mostly on the weekends. I can work on it some during the day, but there's only so much that I can do on my own. Painting? Yes. Lifting large boards, carrying them up a ladder and hammering them in place by myself? No, not likely. Not unless I have no other choice, and the fate of the world depends on it. Then I might at least give it a try.

Projects like this one take us so much longer that I feel like they will-- or should-- take. Maybe I'm just overly optimistic-- which is surprising, as I don't generally think of myself as an optimist. (I'm a realist with periods of pessimism that must be remedied with pleasant distractions. (g))

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As for the political side of my life. . . (Don't worry, I'm not going to go off on a long rant. Well, not a very long one, at least.) It's been a while since I decided to take most of the political stuff out of my daily life-- a choice I made because the constant exposure to political news was making me nervous and depressed. Still, it's been impossible to stay away from all of it. (Even Donald's mormor, when she spoke to him over the weekend, was complaining that, lately, too much of the news in Sweden seems to focus on American politics.)

I don't have a very good feeling about the results of tomorrow's election, but I refuse to give up hope that the lesser of two evils will win. I'll definitely be voting. I don't think there's any risk (whatsoever) of "the other guy" winning the popular vote in my conservative-leaning state (Thank you, Sweet Home Alabama!), but I'm too opinionated to not cast a ballot. Then, with that duty done, I'll just try to resign myself to whatever's going to happen. It shouldn't be the end of the world, whichever way it goes. We'll see. ;o) My main concern is that, if Obama becomes president, he might bring about the "change" he promises-- and it's not the kind of change I want to see.

So. Now you know where I stand, as if there had been any question. I'll be glad just to have this election behind us, to tell the truth. I'm tired of being force-fed "political crap" in every possible venue-- day in, day out for months on end.

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Trixie continues to grow. I think Donald said that she weighed about 16 pounds, last time he checked. Her hair is noticeably lengthening-- particularly on her tail and the backs of her legs, taking her one step closer to the appearance of a grown Eskie. She still likes to bite, at times-- probably because she's teething. She's also still fond of people. For instance, she and Molly were both outside when our meter reader came by. Donald watched from a window as Molly barked and kept her distance. Trixie, on the other hand, ran up to the fence, bouncing happily, and was petted several times by this person she didn't even know. Some watchdog, huh? ;o) Seriously, though, I'll be glad if she just barks to let us know people are here, but still maintains the ability to interact happily with people outside her circle of known humans.

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Well, time to go finish supper and work on getting used to the fact that it's an hour earlier than it feels like it is. . .