Monday, October 28, 2013

Four years ago

We had what ended up being more than a little excitement what with a 31 inch water main breaking. Every year, the memories are just a bit less . . . I don't know, raw maybe? Some things haven't changed all that much though. The kitties are still very skittish around strangers (they weren't before all the reconstruction, and the unexplained sound of running water makes both Kent and me horribly nervous and uptight.

And we'll never willingly choose to live in a basement apartment or a house in a flood plain (even a 500 year one) if we can possibly avoid it. Honestly, I doubt we ever choose to live in a condo again. You're just too much at the mercy of your potentially insane neighbors.

Here are some pictures of our street the day we flooded. I thought I'd posted them before but couldn't find them in my blog so here you go.

That tiny bubble you see is where the water main broke

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cats as still life

"Helping" again while we sewed.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Kitty weigh-in

Well there's no good progress to report. They are either holding steady at their weights (which the vet said ought to come down) or in the case of Eddie, just outright gaining.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

More letters from me

Dear Brooks,

Success! You delivered on a running jacket that's actually reflective!

Dear Wally,

Where did you take my Road ID bracelet and two of my reflective arm/leg bands? And why did you take one arm and one leg band? Couldn't you at least have left me with a matching set?

Cats these days . . .

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A rant

Dear Nike, Reebok, Road ID and JogALite (also to a lesser extent Athleta),

What is up with the lack of reflective material on your workout clothing??

I have a Nike running shirt that I otherwise love but it has the teeny-tiniest of reflective stripes at the back of the neck (it’s hidden under my not very large pony tail) plus a slender sliver on my left shoulder. That’s it.

Because I cannot imagine wearing a crossing guard vest while running, I bought “reflective” strips from Road ID (top) and JogALite (middle) that are supposed be very reflective – they wrap around my arms and legs and honestly I don’t know why I bother. They reflect very little although the JogALite strips are made from plastic so the plastic is shiny. Not the same thing though.

Reebock isn’t any better. Neither is Athleta, although my running bra has some reflective materials on it. That doesn’t help much though since it’s October, and oh yeah, tomorrow morning when I run the temp is supposed to be around 30°F. So it’s not like I’m wearing just the bra.

By the way, bright colors don’t equal reflective material. Your neon running shirt won’t help me with being seen at 5 a.m. when it’s utterly dark here and I’m out running in a neighborhood without sidewalks.  Grrrr.


Dear Brooks,

Your running shoes have an amazing amount of good reflective stuff on them. That’s why I’ve ordered your reflective running jacket and can't wait until it gets here tomorrow after work. I sincerely hope it’s as good as your shoes because if so, you will have a die hard fan for life from me.

The reason for this rant is pretty simple – I nearly hit a runner one evening a couple of weeks ago. Like me, he had some reflective stuff on but like mine it really didn’t work. I saw something similar this morning – two women stupidly walking down the middle of the street, one had a thin strip of reflective tape on her jacket but it was very, very dim. I only saw her because the sun was finally starting to come up.

New labels

I got sewing labels a few years ago; I thought it would be nice to put labels in the things I made (especially gifts) so I ordered some. I couldn't quite visualize the size of them when I ordered the first set and honestly, I wasn't sure if I would use them or not so I got small (cheap) ones.

But they are really tiny and I never put them in the clothes I make for myself. Kent had gotten himself some labels and I liked his so I ordered from the same company.

Here's a picture of the old ones (on top) and a new on the bottom:

As you can see, I've stayed with the same sort of color scheme (and added a kitty). I really like that I don't have to cut the label to size.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Warm and cozy

Last night, even though it wasn't really cold out, we turned on the fire (it's gas). We take turns sitting on the hearth, soaking up the warmth. Toward the end of the evening, we realized we weren't the only ones enjoying the fire:

Chloe is around 13 or 14 years old. I got her in October 2001 and the rescue place estimated that she was one or two years old then. I always suspected she was closer to one because she was still so kittenish in her behaviors. Either way, she's getting up in years now and I think the warmth of the fire is soothing. I sometimes think she's getting arthritis, and if so then I'm sure the fire really feels good to her.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


In the never-ending quest to rid the house of cat hair (a quest doomed to failure), Kent was vacuuming under the built-in book cases between the dining room and the kitchen. He started hollering for me, telling me I had to come see this right now!

Here's what I saw:

Photo bomb by Eddie

We've been in this house nine months and never knew there were drawers at the bottom of our book cases.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

You're one of my kind

One of the blogs I read is written by a collection of veterinarians who specialize in cats (yes, I do love kitties). There’ve been a lot of interesting articles on the blog but one in particular got me thinking about my own three cats.

The article discusses the nature of social groupings in cats and asks readers how many exist in their own home. Naturally enough, that got me to consider Wally, Eddie and Chloe.

Chloe has never been interested in other cats; in fact, for a long time she was downright hostile toward her own species. Little Sammie tried to kitty pile with her but she was having nothing to do with him. After he died and we got Wally and Eddie, they too tried to kitty pile with her. Age had not softened her solitary ways but the boys did not care. They still played with her and tried to snooze with her. The playing often got out of hand because she’d get angry with them and the kitty pile naps were a non-starter. Sometimes Wally could sleep near her after she was asleep but that was about as far as things got.

A long time ago!
The boys were a different story. They are litter mates and for the first few years, they slept in piles around the house, groomed each other and just generally behaved as though they were one cat in two bodies.

I’m not sure when things changed but certainly by the time we flooded the first time, they were no longer quite so cozy with each other. By then, we’d stuffed them in their carriers for a cross country move, and made them live for a couple of months in a teeny, tiny place that didn’t allow cats and certainly didn’t have any room for kitty romping. And then we flooded. All three were in the apartment with me when the water started coming in, and I’m sure they picked up on my own fear and uncertainty as I shoved them none too gently into their carriers. And of course who can forget the first night in the crack house hotel, followed by living for three weeks in the basement of a very generous friend and then moving again to a temporary apartment . . . yeah, that was a lot for the cats.

After reading that article, though, I realized we do have social groupings. It’s just that I’m at the center of these groupings. There’s Wally and me, Eddie and me, and Chloe and me. Wally and Chloe have a tiny bit of warmth to their relationship but I’m still in the middle of that. And I get in the middle of the Eddie/Chloe relationship because that’s still not a very friendly environment.

I didn’t put Kent in this diagram because I wasn’t sure how to depict his status. When he’s home during the day, Eddie sleeps on his lap almost all day long. That's hard to show in a diagram, wouldn't you agree? And I aligned the cats the way I did because Wally does mostly interact in a positive way with the other two. But they all swarm me.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pieces of paper

Usually I end up with bits of ticket stubs in my purse or suitcase from our trips. Then I'll pull one out at a random moment and ask Kent if he wants to go to wherever the ticket is from. For several months, I'd ask him if he wanted to go back to the Sistine Chapel but finally I cleaned out my purse and tossed that ticket.

So what you have here is a collection of the tickets and receipts we got while in Barcelona, along with the explanations for each of them.

Click the image to enlarge

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'm so tired

I’ve written before that my friends and co-workers think Kent and I are insane for our four day Crazy Trips™. These are the trips we take to another country or away from North America. Generally we leave on a Friday, land on Saturday morning and go like gangbusters until Sunday evening, when we fly home again. The Crazy Trips™ have to meet some criteria in order to work for us: Delta has to fly there, and we need to be able to get there with just one plane change (not always so easy when you live in the middle of the country). To date, we’ve gone to Rome, London, Montreal and Honolulu using this method.

Last week, though, we flew to Barcelona for a more extended stay. Getting to Barcelona from Kansas City requires two plane changes (which ups the odds of encountering travel delays) and obviously takes more travel time in general. But we knew we wanted to have a special trip for our anniversary so we considered the time well spent.

But oh my golly. I am so extremely exhausted and it’s not from jet lag. I adjust really fast to the time zones. No, I am flat out beat from traveling 24 hours there and 24 hours back again and just not getting enough sleep. As much fun as we had (and we really did have a great time) and as many interesting things as we saw, it’s still been exhausting.

Truly I find the Crazy Trips™ far less tiring. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go blow my husband’s mind and take a nap.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

By the numbers

Today is our 10th wedding anniversary. I thought it might be interesting to see the time we’ve spent unemployed or on short term disability expressed as a percentage of our total amount of time married.

We’ve been married 520 weeks now, so I totaled up the amount of weeks for the various categories and then figured out what percentage of 520 they each were. Obviously the percentages add up to more than 100%.

No matter how much of our time together was spent on some not fun stuff, I’m just amazed and happy that it sort of doesn’t matter. Yes, those bad times happened and yes, they were fairly wretched – especially the ones I didn’t put in there like number of times we flooded or the number of dry wall holes we had or things like that. Those don’t bear thinking of, not today.

So here’s to us. Here’s to the best 10 years of my life and here’s hoping we grow really old together before it’s all over.

It's really weird that we've lived the longest in Boston.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What we'll do for a cup of joe

We bought a small coffee pot yesterday.

We ran the numbers on buying our morning coffee every day from a cafe or from Starbucks and realized that for a couple of Euros more, we could get the pot and the freedom to have our coffee the instant we wake up. So for 22 Euros, we gained a lot of flexibility.

Of course we can't bring it home, so the cleaning folks will have a practically new pot if they want it. And we will have had our coffee first thing in the morning, which will really count on Friday. Our flight leaves Barcelona at 6:30 AM and I can promise you, no store will be open two hours prior to that. This is Europe, after all.

Have you ever bought something like that on vacation, something you know you can't take home with you?

Friday, October 4, 2013

This is spinal tap

A friend of mine had to have a lumbar puncture the other day (she is fine now) and unfortunately she developed a spinal headache as a result of that puncture.

Her situation brought back memories of my own spinal tap and spinal headache, although her treatment was different than mine. Let me explain.

I had c-sections with both my children and I chose to have a spinal block for the anesthesia. If you know me well, then you already know that I have an extreme phobia of needles and all things related to needle-administered drugs or therapies or really anything. I hate needles. I hate them so much that for the first three of my seven major abdominal surgeries, I refused all pain medication because it was administered by a shot. I’m not sure why my phobia is only about needles because my pain tolerance is actually quite high (see also no pain relief because it came by a shot). There’s just something about being punctured and feeling the drug enter my body that’s horrifying to me. No thanks!

So for me to have a spinal block was a huge act of love. I knew it was best for my babies and I steeled myself to endure those horrible needles both times. But with my second child, I developed a spinal headache. As my anesthesiologist explained it to me, I was leaking some spinal fluid through the puncture, and as a result my poor brain was sort of sagging in my skull and that’s why I was in so much pain. I’ve never been so aware of the anatomy of my skull and my brain pan as I was that day.

He told me there were several options for fixing this leak. He could administer a blood patch at the site of the original spinal block. Um no thanks, that’s a needle. What’s behind door number two? Well, he said, we could restart your IV. Oh hell no, that’s even worse. Are there any other options?? Yes, he said, we don’t know why this works but if you drink caffeine that can fix the problem.

I didn’t yet drink coffee (that love affair didn’t begin for another decade), but I did like drinking Coke so I told him line them up and I’ll slug them down! So I got a bunch of Cokes, slugged them all down and miracle of miracles, it worked.

My friend chose the patch. I’m guessing she doesn’t hate needles as much as I do.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

All the cool kids are doing it

I don’t remember where I read the article, I just remember that it described the power of peer pressure on things like weight, dietary habits and exercise routines.

The article provided the results of some research study that essentially said we drift toward the norms of our social groups – so if we hang out with sedentary people, we are more likely to be that way and if our friends are a few or more pounds overweight, that becomes our normal and we will end up there also.

In the last four or five months, I’ve been able to return to my previous workout habits because my lungs are finally well enough for me to do so. I also have a FitBit now (which I wrote about here), and as my real life friends can attest I talk about pretty frequently. The upshot of all of this is that I’ve become the change agent in my circle of friends. Now they are being more mindful of the foods they eat and they are the ones choosing to find and actually do exercises they enjoy. One of my friends has started running, and I’m so proud of him because he really likes it a lot and has decided to enter a 5k race because he wants to see how he’ll do. He knows I don’t run races because (a) I’m way too competitive already and (b) I need running to be fun, but that’s not stopping him.

I have to say this feels pretty good. I don’t know that I’ve ever really been a positive influence like this before but I like it. I like it a lot.