Sunday, March 30, 2008

I'm Back.

La Jolla
This is what I had to leave behind...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I'm still not here.

On vacation until tomorrow. It will be business as usual on Monday, except for the jet lag. I've tried not to stray too far from Atlanta time, which means getting up very early here. Fortunately it has been easy to do - no alarm clock required.

California is pretty this time of year. The scenery at Torrey Pines State Reserve yesterday was stunning - much different than it looked last August. Today is finishing as a lazy day visiting my sister and her family, after an ambitious start -- going on a two-hour harbor cruise of San Diego bay. Good thing the Minnow was not lost, as I did not pack anything for being marooned on a deserted island.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Booze and hookers."

That is PDM's standard answer when I ask him what he is going to do while I am away from home on a trip without him. I think he will probably enjoy a few days to himself. Privacy is hard to get when you are married. Sometimes a short time apart can be refreshing to both.

I am leaving tomorrow for another business trip. Going to La Jolla, CA on a site visit to UCSD. I'm staying a few extra days because I love the San Diego area, and know it well. Besides, if you are going to fly all the way across the country, why wouldn't you want to stay a few extra days? I will be able to visit my sister in Encinitas on Saturday, in between her trips (she is a flight attendant, recently returned from furlough). She tells me that the desert is blooming this time of year and it is lovely. I'm bringing my camera! And I am looking forward to (a)what I will learn from the site visit, (b)the beautiful scenery, (c)seeing my sister and her family, and (d)some California downtime. I am planning to return to Torrey Pines State Reserve to hike the trails by the sea.

As usual, the worst part of traveling is packing for the trip. I hate packing and then some. Always worried that I will forget something crucial. Sure, I guess I can always buy something if I need it and didn't bring it, but what a hassle. I also don't like to commit days in advance, in an unfamiliar climate, to what I will wear. And there is the shoe thing-- trying to minimize the number of pairs needed. *SIGH* Hate it. Mixing business travel with pleasure just makes it worse. Business travel is easy -- no question about what to wear. It is the pleasure part that has no rules and cannot easily be figured out. Aside from knowing that I will hike, I have no idea what kind of "going out" I will do. Makes it damn hard to plan ahead.

Progress on our screened-in porch is sure to go on without me. I am leaving my crappy old digital camera for PDM to use to document each day's changes. Today's photos have been added to the Flickr "porch construction" set. We ran into a snag in the permit process with our county. They sure don't encourage compliance by putting stupid obstacles in place. Makes us just want to say "screw dat" and do it without a permit. Do they want our money, or not? This is a simple change, and they are asking for a ridiculous amount of documentation. I am wondering if it is worth it. They should not make it so hard to do the right thing.

I'll be gone until Sunday. Posting between now and then depends on my locating some free wireless internet access and having something to say. (Ditto for reading and commenting on your blogs.) I'm not paying $9.95 per day to get it at the hotel. "Screw dat!"

Monday, March 24, 2008


PDM has been modeling tile patterns for the porch floor on his computer. Some of the more elaborate ones that use multiple shapes and sizes are pretty, but we will probably go with something simple and classic -- either a diamond or herringbone pattern. Tessellations are pretty damn cool. It would be fun to have a M.C. Escher type of pattern, but our tiles don't come in lizard, fish, or bird shapes. Reptiles is my favorite Escher piece.

The contractors made some progress on the porch again today (even though the county inspectors don't seem to be in a hurry to do their part - inspecting the holes that have been dug for the footings). Today's photos can be viewed here with the others.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

CatBlogging included at no extra charge...

porch construction 3-21
The contractors started working on our new porch late last week. Moxy and Zima have already explored every new nook and cranny. More photos here.

I finished "construction" on the blog. What do you think of the new look? PDM said it was "too purple", so I toned that down a little. The colors look tasteful on my notebook's monitor, but slightly garish on his... I'm thinking we have the saturation levels set differently. I remember Natalie having similar troubles last year with her background color not looking the same for everyone. And go ahead and laugh, but I enlarged the font size because I am tired of squinting at my monitor. No "old" jokes, please. This means you, LL!

Not much else going on this weekend. We did lots of yardwork yesterday, but we are already losing our battle with weeds. Ever since the watering ban, the weeds have taken over - they have no trouble growing when the grass is struggling. We've even got several new varieties that I cannot identify, and I've been pulling weeds for a long time! Stupid weeds. But it isn't all bad news. The catnip is coming back in very healthy. You can't kill mint, although Zima tries her best to love it to death.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Under Construction

I temporarily removed all my sidebar items last week when I posted about Big Daddy's death. They seemed too distracting and frivolous to occupy the same space as such a post, and were easy enough to get rid of. But now I am thinking this is a good opportunity to clean up my template and make some of the changes I have been meaning to do for a long time. So my blog will keep the plain Jane look for a while longer until I get everything the way I want it. Not sure how long that will take. Now that daylight savings time has kicked in, I am more likely to work or relax outside when I get home from work than to spend much time on my computer.

It isn't just my blog that is undergoing some construction. We just signed a contract to have a screened in porch built where our patio is now. This time we were smart enough to hire somebody rather than to try it on our own. Photos to follow, of course.

And no, the bathroom is not yet finished. PDM wants you to know that my use of "we" when I have discussed this project is misleading, as he is doing nearly all of the work these days.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


It has been a strange weekend. I feel sad, but I'm OK. The tornado that ravaged downtown Atlanta did not affect us here on the outskirts, twelve miles away. We're fine.

Normally, there would have been a lot going on this weekend into Monday with a wake and funeral, but Big Daddy is to be cremated and we'll have a celebration of his life in a few weeks. But it seemed wrong to just go about my business like nothing happened. So I didn't.

I was getting ready for work Friday when Mom called. It could only mean one thing. I sent word in to work, so they'd know not to expect me, and to let the people know who treated Big Daddy when he was our patient. Arranged to pick my sister up at the airport - she'd been about to work a trip (she is a flight attendant) from Atlanta to Hawaii. Called Mom to let her know we were on our way.

There wasn't an official wake planned, but I am glad that Big Daddy had one anyway. The old fashioned kind that doesn't involve embalming or funeral homes. Just the body and people who loved the dead. I kept fighting the temptation to stop the clock in the room, an old tradition. Its ticking seemed intrusive, distracting, unnecessary. I was there with my sister, my mother, and Big Daddy's "sweetcake", Jean. His priest came and went before I got there, to perform last rites. It is an experience I will never forget. After they came for the body, we went over to Big Daddy's house to console one another and make some phone calls. Jean and I sat for hours on Big Daddy's porch and watched the birds and the intermittent rain while voicing our memories. He was larger than life, and his absence leaves a big hole.

The rest of the weekend was, for me, rather low-key. I did not know about the tornado that hit downtown on Friday night until we got Saturday's paper. It was just a thunderstorm here, and we were spending a quiet evening at home once I got back from Big Daddy's. No TV or radio on, so we didn't hear about the havoc. PDM and I turned off the carport lights and stood in the darkness there to more fully experience the storm that came through. Other than one very close lightning hit, it was (to us) a normal thunderstorm. There were several more storms Friday night through Saturday. The unsettled weather fit my unsettled mood.

Yes, life will go on, but it will feel unsettled until we have one last gathering for Big Daddy. I miss him.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Big Daddy passed away this morning.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I've gone back and forth about whether to post anything about this. I'm still not entirely sure, but for the most part this blog is read mostly by friends, whether I've "met you" in real life or not. And friends are there for you when things are not always the best.

Big Daddy is dying.

He has been in hospice care for about three weeks. This was after months of outpatient and inpatient care related to his metastatic prostate cancer and other health conditions. For a while, it looked like he could re-hab his leg and get back to a normal life, but his other health conditions decided otherwise - mostly his lungs, even though he quite smoking in the 1940s, apparently the damage never quite goes away. Big Daddy's quality of life has deteriorated significantly, and he finally decided that he's had enough of hospitals, doctors, medicines, tube and wires, tests, and interventions. The longer I see him in this condition, the easier I think it will be to finally let go. He has had 90 years, and been hale and healthy through most of them. We have been fabulously lucky to have had that time with him. And I am grateful.

Here is a video of him from last summer, in better days: Big Daddy and Sam.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cracking Up

This post contains crude, silly, juvenile humor. I've already admitted that I have a weakness for this kind of stuff. I understand that not everyone is so easily amused. If you are not, or you happen have a monkey butt, please accept my apologies.

I haven't been doing enough laughing lately, so it was excellent timing when I opened a group email last night from a friend. These are people I knew from my Massachusetts days and we all still keep in touch even though some of us have moved away. Lots of times the subject is bizarre-o stuff we've found on the internet and want to share. Friends don't let friends miss funny stuff on the internets!

Last night's email was titled "Anti WHAT?" and contained a link to this product:

Heh heh heh.... That, plus the responses to it, had me laughing hard enough to hurt. After a few exchanges, she sent around another product link for this:

Gack!! Can you imagine approaching the register with this stuff? The first two reminded me of another product I have run across somewhere (maybe one of your blogs, who knows?). So I sent around the link for Crack Creme.

And as an added bonus, when I searched the drugstore site for "crack", I also found this beauty!

By this time, I was laughing uncontrollably, like Beavis and Butthead in a sex-ed class. Sadly, I was at work and had to knock it off. But assembling the photos for this admittedly very juvenile post got me going again. Laughing feels good. And is easy to induce in people like me, who have a decidedly low-brow sense of humor. PDM doesn't understand it. But sometimes there is nothing funnier than a good butt joke. Except maybe a good fart joke...

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Some days I really, really, REALLY hate computers.

Today's Really Stupid Problem started innocently enough when I made a completely mundane request of my computer: print a form from a web page. Normally this occurs almost immediately and I move on to other things. This time, nothing happened. I checked all my connections and didn't find anything suspect. So I opened up Print Manager (PM) to see what it had to report on the status of the print job. Nothing out of the ordinary, except PM was under the impression that the file was printing, yet the printer was most definitely NOT doing any sort of printing. It didn't even look like it was thinking about printing. It was just sitting there like a bump on a log, except with pretty LED buttons all lit up like things should be working. So I sent the file to the printer again. And now there were two jobs stuck in the queue not printing. So I told PM to delete all print jobs. PM continued to display the canceled job with status (deleting-printing). And continued. And continued. So I told it to delete again. And it continued to say it was deleting, but never did it. Liar!

After much cursing and bitching, and attempting to stop the delete process using Task Manager, and restarting the computer, and reinstalling the driver, and a whole bunch of other crap, the frikkin' file was still in there, NOT being deleted!!!! So I uninstalled every damn bit of the HP software. Then I deleted the printer completely (which got rid of the print job that wouldn't delete, my only success out of the whole afternoon). Then I reinstalled the HP software. Then I plugged in my "plug and play" printer. And...

Nothing happened. Nothing at all. My computer SHOULD HAVE recognized the new device and automatically installed it, but FOR WHATEVER STUPID REASON chose to completely ignore it, as if HP and MS are having some ridiculous feud and refuse to acknowledge each other's existence. I went from having an installed and formerly functional printer, to having an installed printer that wouldn't print anything, to not having a printer installed even though it was CLEARLY connected to my computer. I give up.

I need a drink. Or a Mac. Or both.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday CatBlogging*

Silvio is so adorable that it is easy to forget what a stinker he can be. Like when he gallops around the house (and all over the bed) very early in the morning when we are trying to squeeze in a few extra minutes of sleep before we have to get ready for work. He can sound like a whole herd of cats, stirring up trouble and pestering the other two. His "midnight cat crazies" tend to happen at 3, 4, or 5am.

*This Friday CatBlogging is being posted on a Friday. Just for LL.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

30-Minute Meal, My Ass.

PDM and I both worked late tonight. Again. I got home first, and started cruising our cookbooks for some supper ideas. I was looking for something relatively simple and easy, since I have had two long days in a row, and had developed a migraine somewhere between 5-6pm, and did not arrive home until 7pm. Not the best time to try anything fancy. I flipped through a few books and finally turned to a Rachel Ray 30-minute meal cookbook. The "chicken piccata pasta toss" didn't sound too hard. It actually sounded pretty good. I made a list and then went for a quick trip to the grocery store. But as usual, the "30-minute meal" took me around an hour and a half to prepare, and that included getting some major help from PDM once he got home. It was after 9pm when we ate.

I have never cooked one of these 30-minute recipes in less than 45 minutes. Anyone else have this problem, or is it just me? I realize that I am very slow with chopping up meat and veggies, but I do not see how this could add an extra hour to the prep time. I am usually good at multitasking, but not so much in the kitchen...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Owl Watching and Other Outdoor Projects

The barred owls continue to include our yard in their territory. We usually see the male shortly before sunset, as shown in the photo (yes there really is an owl in those trees, and yes I need a telephoto lens and do not have one). It was a nice, mild weekend in Atlanta, so we hung out on our patio late this afternoon with the cats. The male owl flew into a nearby tree to roost before the nightly hunt began. He called to the female a few times and she answered. We didn't get a glimpse of her, just heard her replies. She may be nesting already. There was also a brilliant red male cardinal wooing a female with song. It is safe to assume from the duet that she was interested. Never saw her either. It appears to be the bird-romance time of year. Our birdhouses are cleaned and ready, and I have been putting out dryer lint for the birdies along with keeping the feeder full. In a few weeks, it will be time to hang the nectar feeders again for the first wave of migrating hummingbirds. Ahhh, spring! Almost here...

Speaking of our patio, we met with a contractor on Saturday to discuss transforming that concrete pad into a screened-in porch. It is something we have wanted to do since we bought the house. We have a wonderful, wooded, peaceful back yard. We would enjoy it a lot more if we could sit out there and not get chewed up by mosquitoes. Before and after photos will be posted here once things get going. Hopefully that project will proceed more smoothly than the damn bathroom project, which is STILL going on. It seems like no matter what we do, those walls aren't good enough to paint.