Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A montage from last week

The one thing I didn't get either a picture or video of was the fire I mentioned. The next-door neighbors used a deep fat fryer for their turkey and it was out in the back yard.

What you can't see in any of these pictures is how very wooded the neighborhood is and how many trees still have a lot of dead leaves on them. When the fryer caught fire, the neighbors weren't home because they'd finished their cooking and meal hours ago and were taking food to friends. They had house guests who were home and came outside when they noticed the fire but by then, a tree in the back yard had also caught fire. Fortunately this is a very friendly neighborhood and several others had noticed and brought over hoses, including a fire fighter who'd just finished his shift. We heard him telling the house guest that no, the danger wasn't over and that they did need to keep water on the burn area.

This is a montage from the trip and will probably be interesting only to those who were there.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Home again

We had a great time in Virginia; this is the first time I’ve gotten to see both sons with their wives/families that wasn’t tied to a wedding or family reunion.

I did, in fact, get selected for the backscatter machine and opted out. It was a strange situation because Kent went through first, and was sent through the metal detector. The agent stopped me, asked if I were traveling with anyone and then told me I was selected to go through the backscatter machine. I was very polite when I said I opted out; I’m not interested in getting into any sort of argument about the whole process. I’m just not going through that machine.

Anyway, we eventually got through security and after a lot of delays at JFK (flight was canceled, and we were rerouted through Atlanta to get to Norfolk) we got to Virginia.

I’m still pretty tired since we didn’t get home until after 10 last night; later this week I'll write more about our trip (bonus teaser: we saw a HUGE unintentional fire). In the meantime, here are a few pictures for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The feeding frenzy

Now that we've added canned food to the cats' diets, mealtime is a lot more interesting to all three of them.

Monday, November 22, 2010


She doesn't usually go near the tube; that's been mostly the boys' toy. Plus the tube is made of some crinkly material that makes noise and I think Chloe gets nervous when she hears it. I'd put the tube on the couch so I could sweep the floor. So the tube is on the couch.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why I will opt out every time

Disclaimer: Parts of this post may get more personal than you care to read. Come back tomorrow for fluffy cat posts if that’s the case.

I fly a fair amount for my job; the travel is a requirement and the locations I have to go to mean I must fly in order to do my job. It’s just not practical for me to drive from Boston to San Luis Obispo, CA—never mind Hilo, HI. I knew that before I accepted the job. Along with the travel, that means I accepted the screening processes put in place by the TSA and I accepted all risks associated with air travel.

You’ve probably heard about the new backscatter machines being used in a lot of the major airports and if you watch TV, you may have seen the pat downs now being used for people who either won’t go through the backscatter machines or who trigger some sort of alarm.

As things stand, travelers who are picked to go through the backscatter machine can choose to opt out and receive a hands-on inspection. I will be one of those who opts out every single time. I’m well aware that I’ll receive the new pat down, which is from all accounts a lot more hands on and personal. For me, that’s the lesser of two evils.

I have a couple of reasons for this decision.

First, I haven’t seen peer-reviewed research on the long-term effects of this machine to determine that the risk is worth the results. In fact, what I’ve found so far was published by the company who makes the machines and the TSA. That’s a little too self-interested in my opinion to count as objective research. So for my health, I’ll opt out. Yes I know I receive radiation every time I fly—that’s just another reason for me to avoid additional exposure when I can.

Second, I am intensely uncomfortable with the images that are displayed using this machine. If you have not yet seen what those images look like, I urge you to take a look. Pretty much nothing is left to the imagination. Here’s the personal part for me: I was sexually molested as a little girl and part of that molestation involved voyeurism. Now that I am an adult, I have the ability to say no and enforce that boundary. So forget the backscatter machine.

There’s a lot of chatter about Fourth Amendment rights and charges of abuse at the hands of the TSA. I’m not much of a political animal—I vote, read up on the issues and so on but I’m not the ranty type when it comes to issues. I think there may be some merit in the Fourth Amendment rights talk but honestly even if this screening process is found to be OK in those terms, it will still not be OK for me.

I really feel for the folks who would choose to go through the backscatter machines but can’t because they cannot hold the proper position. That means they must get manually searched—I, at least, am choosing that option.

Let me say that I do believe that we need a screening process; I just don’t think this is the right way to go about the screenings. Other options include metal detectors, the millimeter wave machines (although given my personal history, I would still not go through them), and the apparently-no-longer-in-use puffer machines.

Those who fly once or twice a year or who have a different personal history than I do may reach a different decision, and I can respect that. I ask that my decision also be respected.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

When I'm gone

Kent's struggled with his allergies and/or cold this week (poor man has wicked bad allergies, I've never seen such snot production) so he worked from home a couple of days. I'd left my robe on my desk chair because Eddie was curled up on it and I didn't have the heart to disturb him. Apparently it became the place to congregate that day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The new water dish

A few weeks ago, Chloe had some accidents outside the box, which is completely out of character for her. We took her to the vet who found nothing wrong with her kidneys or overall health. But the vet couldn't test her urine because he couldn't get a urine sample from her. He said that she might have started going outside the box because she wasn't drinking enough water, which could make her urine super concentrated which in turn would be painful to pass. So he suggested we look at ways to increase her water intake.

All three cats are on the fussier side regarding water and will drink from the water bowl when I first fill it and put it down. After that, they prefer the water left over in the tub from our showers. In the interest of better cat hydration and accident avoidance, we ordered a Cat It water fountain which got here last night. The slight hum you can hear in the video is the water fountain; it's very quiet and the water doesn't make any noise. We put it in the bathroom since the floor in there is slate tile. The boys can splash away and not ruin anything.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Lately we've been on a boiled egg kick. We'll cook up enough for the week and each take one in our lunch boxes. Thanks to Joy of Cooking, the eggs turn out perfectly cooked every time (I used to cook them far too long and they'd be really rubbery and gross). The only time I have issues with the eggs is if one cracks when I slip it into the water.

Usually one of us will eat the cracked egg while it's still warm. But last night neither of us were hungry so I pitched the cracked egg--but not before taking this picture. Doesn't it look like a chicken in a chef's hat?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A tutorial

On how to tell the difference between Eddie and Chloe (with a little bonus Wally sighting as well).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fur monsters

If you have indoor cats or dogs, then you have the same fur problem we do. We sort of noticed it in Kansas City, especially because our dog was a stress shedder. When she got nervous, you could see the fur fall from her almost like snow. It was oddly compelling.

Now that we are in a place 1/3 the size of that house, we can't escape the fur and we have to work much harder to control it. We sweep, dust mop and vacuum a couple of times a week and the hand attachment on the vacuum isn't just nice, it's a necessity to get the fur off the furniture. We regularly use the Furminator on the cats. And I also have a special secret method which, while low tech, is quite effective. I put on my dish washing gloves, get them slightly damp and then pet the cats from head to toe, ruffling their fur as I go. It's amazing how much fur comes off that way.

The cats love to sleep on our bed. So in the summer, we use a washable bedspread which is washed at least once a week. In the winter, we use the amazing quilt my mother made, which we don't wash. The colors are vivid and I want them to stay that way. To help keep the fur off the quilt, we use a washable lightweight blanket on top.

Kent had washed the blanket on Sunday but by Wednesday, it was super furry again. So I washed it Thursday. This picture shows how much fur was in the dryer lint trap after just five days of use:

Friday, November 12, 2010

By your command

Wally has two very special fans in Indiana. They are daughters of a virtual friend of mine who provided words of wisdom last fall when the shit hit the fan. They requested ordinary footage of Wally and so I present to you the following 3 minute movie:

Thursday, November 11, 2010


The scene: we are sitting in our comfy office chairs. I have my legs resting on Kent's lap because he's (very kindly) rubbing my feet. Chloe is sitting on my lap as the interloper approaches.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day

It's not until tomorrow but I scanned a couple of pictures of me from my active duty days. I'll be using one as my profile picture on Facebook. I am 20 in both pictures. The thing you see in my mouth in the second picture is my oboe reed and the reason I look like I feel awful is that I did feel awful. I was pregnant although I didn't know it yet. I threw up every day for five months with that pregnancy; if I'd known then how long I was going to be sick, I might have chewed that reed in half.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Little pyro kitty

Since we have just the one bathroom, we use a candle to help remove certain unwanted odors. That keeps things a little more civilized. Right now we're using a candle that smells like pumpkin pie, although normally I'd just get a vanilla one.

At any rate, Wally is thoroughly obsessed with the lit candle. He likes to get on the counter and just watch it. I hope he never gets too close, he could really singe his whiskers.

Monday, November 8, 2010

More about the feral kitties

I apologize in advance for the graininess and the wobbles; I'd just finished running and wanted to get shots of the feral cats before I went inside. I also removed the sound because it was just traffic noise and wind, and also pretty annoying.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What I did with an unexpected day off

I drove up to the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

I wasn't really dressed for hiking around (skirt and flip flops) but I did walk down the pretty steep path to see the Thurston Lava Tubes. What the website fails to mention is how HUGE that tube is--it's easily 20 feet tall.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A room with a view

Here's my hotel view in Waikiki. It's a lot noisier here because I am, after all, in Honolulu and the number of tourists roaming around is truly staggering.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What I actually took

Here's what I actually packed this week (items I wore are still italicized, removed items are struck out and new items are bolded):

  • Suit jacket
  • Suit pants
  • Five short-sleeved tops
  • One dress tank top
  • One very light-weight wool sweater
  • Dress pants
  • Underwear
  • Running shorts
  • Exercise top
  • Sports bra
  • Running socks
  • Yoga pants (also sleep in them, hey I don’t sweat THAT much)
  • Sleep top
  • Running shoes
  • Black dress shoes
  • Dress sandals
  • Flip flops 
  • New lace up dress shoes
  • Hair dryer
  • Two brushes
  • Cosmetics
  • Shampoo etc (in the 3-1-1 bag)
  • One large scarf (like a pashmina)
  • Zip up fleece jacket for the hotel room
  • My Circa notebook
  • Small purse (empty)
  • Probably my yoga mat although I’m thinking about taking a yoga class or two there
  • Via and sweetener (this hotel gives you ONE free day of coffee--the rest cost $2 each)
  • A casual skirt for at night when I'm actually NOT on a mountain and am near the beach
  • A bathing suit.
  • Netbook
  • Kindle
  • Camera
  • All power cords
  • Baby extension cord
  • Wallet
  • Small bag for things like lip balm
  • Zune
  • Noise-canceling ear buds
  • Phone
  • Folder with boarding passes etc in it
  • Pen
  • Two granola bars
  • An apple
  • Carrot sticks
  • A boiled egg
Everything fit just fine and the only thing I would change is I miss having my slippers. They are from LL Bean and look like terrycloth covered flip flops. The flip flops I brought are OK but I like my slippers better.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wally the nut

He loves to get into things.