Saturday, April 30, 2011

Compare and contrast

Boston temperature today: 61F
Sheffield, TX today: 95F
San Antonio, TX today: 91F

To paraphrase Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the other.

Off I go tomorrow morning on a 9AM flight to San Antonio by way of Detroit where's it's currently 51F.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Small town living, part two

Last night I stopped by the Sinclair gas station for a bottle of water. The check out clerk, a woman probably in her mid-twenties, knew that I was flying home to Boston tonight and asked when I had to leave for Texas.

The thing is, I have no idea who she is. But she sure knew about me!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Small town living

I’ve been in Guernsey, WY since Sunday evening. This is a small town with just over 1000 people, so the restaurant options are pretty limited and really, you don’t get different options at the different restaurants—mostly you just get different versions of the same thing. So I’ve had a hamburger every single day and frankly I’m done with hamburgers for a while. While I’m not a vegetarian, I also don’t look at meat as the point of my meal.

Monday and Tuesday, I stopped by the tiny grocery store and picked up a bean and cheese burrito to microwave for dinner. But last night I thought I’d get something from Crazy Tony’s which is half a block from my motel. I had lunch there during my visit last September so I knew it was a smoking bar/restaurant, but I figured I’d just get something to carry out.

The entrance is very close to the bar and when I walked in, there was an elderly lady at the end, an elderly man next to her (I think it was her husband), another older man and then a middle-aged man. They all swiveled around and stared at me and for a moment I wondered if I’d wandered into a bad Stephen King movie but no, they were just curious about me. They all knew for a fact that I wasn’t from around there.

I placed my order and the men kept staring. Finally I said “Gentlemen, you sure are staring a lot!” and one of them said, “Well you are a pretty woman!” I thanked them and waited for my salad, trying not to cough from the smoke. One finally said he hoped I would sit down and have a drink—I thanked him and said I just couldn’t handle the smoke.

And in fact, when I got back to my room all my clothing reeked from that short exposure. How on earth did I stand it before??

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I tried to describe this to Kent last night but I failed. So here's a picture instead.

Edited to add that I looked more closely at the "towel rack" and I believe it's actually a stirrup. You know, the horse kind.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I’m not quite halfway through this crazy three-week run. The work itself is going well but the trips are killing me. Last week’s bout of bleeding blisters sort of set the tone for the trip—and that was on day one.

Last Friday, I should have gotten home about 12:30 am, which is really Saturday but would have given me two nights at home. My flight from LIT ended up being four hours late so I missed the last flight from ATL to BOS. I didn’t get to my hotel in Atlanta until 12:30 am, which is of course when I should have landed in Boston. I was booked on an early flight Saturday morning, which meant I got a three hour nap. I’ve just now gotten caught up on my sleep.

If all goes well with my flights, I should get home about 11 pm Friday night. Then I catch a 9 am flight Sunday morning to San Antonio and have a four and a half hour drive to get to that program site. I won’t get home until Saturday evening due to distance and lack of flights. But I’ve got Sunday, May 8 marked as a day of utter rest on my calendar.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Packing redeux

My mother had asked that I show more clearly what I pack in my little 17" tote. She pointed out that that it's hard to actually see what I take when I show the layers in the bag. So I thought I'd take a picture of my hanging clothes once I got to my destination--that way, you can see what I actually packed.

What's not shown in these two pictures are my running shoes (I hadn't taken them out of the bag yet), my toiletries, a small hairdryer, a small purse, and my PJs and slippers (I'm wearing them). When I traveled, I wore the khaki jacket you see hanging along with the dark pants and a shirt that's also not shown and the evil brown shoes which are on the right in the second picture. I also have a small Booq backpack which is what I use to carry my netbook, phone, wallet and so on.

From Clothes

From Shoes

Please note that this is the first time I've taken three pairs of dress shoes, and until I got to the Atlanta airport I only had the two pairs. But the bleeding blisters were bad enough that I bought the shoes on the far left just so I could get to the hotel without putting on my pink slippers.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I bought some new brown shoes with a small heel. As you can see, they aren't extreme shoes and in fact they have some sort of comfort padding in them. Generally I avoid round toed shoes because I have long toes but these seemed OK and they were fairly inexpensive. They also filled a gap in my shoe wardrobe.

The first time I wore them, I didn't put on hose or knee highs and I had a big blister on the bottom of my foot plus some hot spots. I figured they'd be OK if I wore some sort of sock or knee highs so I wore them yesterday as I traveled to Arkansas.

Boy was I wrong. Each foot has a blister on a toe, both blisters ruptured and the one on my right foot bled.


This is not a good way to start my three weeks away from home. I put on my other pair of dress shoes in the Atlanta airport but they rubbed those blisters horribly enough that I was hobbling like an old lady. I ended up buying a pair of leather flip flops which I don't want just so I could finish this trip without wearing my slippers out in public. To top things off, those flip flops rub the tops of my feet--I guess I traded one point of pain for another.

I wish I had nice, normal feet without narrow heels, long toes and high arches. Buying shoes is just no fun for me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

On the road again

Today I leave for Arkansas. I get back again around 12:30 AM next Saturday. I should have enough time to do a load of laundry, which is good because the next day (Sunday) I fly to Wyoming.

I get back again around 12:30 AM, again on Saturday. I should have enough time to do a load of laundry, which is good because the next day (Sunday) I fly to Texas.

Are you seeing a pattern?

I will get back from that trip around 8:30 PM Saturday.

Cats are glaring at me, cat sitter is all arranged, husband would be sighing at me only he left yesterday for Ireland, and I've got my 17" tote packed for the week.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oh Wally

I don't need an assistant at work. I have one.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The fridge

Yesterday Wally was most insistent I pay attention to him as he supervised me from the top of the fridge. What cracked me up was how he kept reaching down to pat at me and you can see him do it to the camera, too. It's almost as though he's so weary of all the paparazzi. If it wouldn't violate copyright laws (and also get my video removed from YouTube), I'd have put Lady Gaga's song on this video.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Chloe gets very agitated as the day goes on. She wants her canned food and she wants it sooner than dinnertime, so starting around 3 she'll begin pacing and whining at me. Eddie loves to sleep and groom himself and generally just lie around the house. Wally loves the boxes, whether he sleeps in them or rabbit kicks them. So this video is a perfect vignette of typical behavior for all three cats.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Annoying and yet so photogenic

Wally cycles through various activities when he wants to be petted at night. His attention-getting behavior is designed to wake us up so we'll pet him. Unlike his litter mate, Eddie, he can't just come to the bed and meow at us for petting. Nope, he has to act out.

He will try to flush the toilet several nights in a row--he doesn't weigh enough to flush successfully, but he can get the toilet to run and of course we hear the handle jiggling up and down. Then he'll move on to knocking every single item off all counters. That's always fun to hear in the middle of the night.

Right now he's in the bang-cabinet-doors-all-night phase and was particularly enthusiastic about it last night. I've been trying my best not to reinforce his bad behavior, so when the cabinets started slamming last night, I got up and shut my bedroom door. That's not as effective as you might think because the kitchen is right by the bedroom, although it did reduce the noise a little bit.

But then he'll be super cute and when he wants to be, he's super sweet. As Kent says, he's a complicated cat.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gardeners come forth

Pay no attention to the time captions, I got messed up and had already saved the pictures with the incorrect text. The pictures start at about 10:30 AM and the last one was taken about 1PM. Obviously this is early April so we will get more sun in the patio later this summer, but never all day and never full sun in the entire patio.

What can I grow that we can eat? I have grown basil, thyme, rosemary and some flowers too, although none of the true sun piggies. Impatiens do really well in among the ivy. But I want tomatoes, dammit, or something like that. Is it a hopeless dream? Am I doomed to disappointment and failure?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The never-ending plastic wrap

After we flooded in October, 2009, we had to buy a lot of replacement items—just normal stuff like paper towel, toilet paper, soap, shampoo and plastic wrap. Some of those things ended up being OK but we didn’t get them back for months and obviously needed them sooner.

Plastic wrap falls in this category. We’d just bought a two pack of giant rolls from Costco and had only just opened the first one when we flooded. Well we’re thrifty people who save and use leftovers so we needed some when we lived in that temporary apartment. I bought this roll:

And we are still using it 17 months later.

I hate it. I hate it with the white hot passion of 10,000 suns because the cutter blade is on the outside of the package where it nicks us and tries to cut us and because the blasted stuff isn’t all that clingy. In fact it’s just clingy enough to be annoying. But I dislike waste and don’t want to throw it out. But I hate it every time I use it. I think I need permission to get rid of it. Feel free to tell me so.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Forget Cat in the Hat, we have boxes

And today it's all about Wally. He loves to sleep in things, preferably small things. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sir Edmund

Do/did you watch The Simpsons? I did not, I’m probably one of a dozen people in the US who didn’t care for the show—I watched a show or two when it first came out and thought Bart was the most obnoxious child ever. I couldn’t believe people would spend time watching a bratty child. God knows there are plenty of those around in real life. But Kent loved the show. He’s told me that while the show initially started out to be about Bart, it shifted over time to focus on Homer, the clueless dad.

In much the same way, when I first started this blog, I mostly wrote about Wally and about daily events here in Boston. I’d toss in the occasional story about the other two cats but Wally was and is a funny cat who does crazy things and he’s pretty entertaining in his own right. Apparently others think so too; a friend talked me into creating a Facebook fan page for Wally and he’s now got 185 fans. I know 29 of them.

But Eddie’s sort of crept in more and more. He’s not nearly as complex as Wally which can be a relief. He’s also very affectionate, has a big vocabulary, is quite strong, can flush the toilet, and loves to be a monorail cat on the backs of our office chairs.

He prefers that I sit cross-legged in my chair so he has a proper nest to sit in and will holler at me until I sit in the correct manner, he wakes Kent up in the mornings when he believes Kent’s had enough sleep, and he tends to wander around the apartment with one of his cat toys in his mouth, meowing away to let us know he “caught” it.

He also discovered one of his toys had a pull-out tail. WE hadn’t figured it out but Eddie did; he carried the hedgehog (it's the second one from the left) in his mouth by the tail and used his big paws to pull the body down to make the vibrating noise as it retracted.

When I’ve had a rough day or feel lonely when Kent’s gone, it’s pretty easy to convince ol Fattie to curl up in my lap. Weighing in around 17 pounds, that’s a lot of purring comfort and usually he’ll end up making one of my legs go to sleep. He also prefers to sleep under the covers between us and will holler at us until we accommodate him. This addition to the bed is quite nice in the winter since cats run hotter than humans (100.5 to 102.5 F compared to our 98.6F +/- a degree or so). As you might expect, this is not so great in the summer. But you try saying no to Eddie.

My mother-in-law very kindly gives the cats presents at Christmas and she picks good ones—she may be a dog person by inclination but she has a gift for picking toys the cats love. She’s the one who got the hedgehog and this year she got them a hanging toy. It’s got a ball that makes a slight rattling noise hanging almost at the end and there used to be a feather there too (feathers don’t last more than a couple of hours in our house). I did have it hanging from the armoire but the cats sort of ignored it after destroying the feather. This week I moved it to the back door and that changed everything. Most mornings I find it on the ground because big ol Eddie has pulled on it hard enough to separate the Velcro bits on the straps.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dang I pack well

On my trip to Shreveport in February, I had two and a half hours between my flights in Memphis, but because of very strong head winds that time was cut down to 30 minutes. However I’d had to gate check my 19” suitcase because I was flying on a very small regional jet, the kind with no head room and tiny overhead bins. I stood on the jet way in Memphis and heard the final call for my flight while I waited for that blasted gate checked bag. I ended up being stuck at the Memphis airport for four hours waiting on the next flight to Shreveport.

That was the nudge I needed to move down in luggage size and ditch the wheels. There are good reasons for having wheels and if you are going to check your bag anyway, then it doesn’t matter if your suitcase has wheels or not. But I rarely check bags—in fact, I think the last time I actually did check a bag was last July on the way back from my first business trip out to Hawaii and I just didn’t want to mess with it. Otherwise I use carry on sized bags.


I got a new tote which you can see here. I had a nice 20% off discount coupon and the shipping was free so I think I got a good deal. Briggs & Riley has the best warranty in suitcases I’ve ever seen because it even includes damage by the airlines with no time limit.

And here are two pictures of my packing process for my trip to Georgia last week.

To my utter surprise and delight, I didn’t need to take a second tote for my things. I did take my Booq backpack with my netbook and so on in it, but that was it. Talk about freeing--everything fit in the dinky overhead bins or under the seat in front of me.

I think I can do this for a longer trip, too. I’ll almost certainly have a chance to try later this month. It looks like I’ll be in Arkansas, Wyoming and Texas in April.