Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead (Sort of)

Looks like Sunday alcohol sales will be legal in Georgia, at least in some jurisdictions that actually allowed a vote on the matter. Finally! But not everywhere. In my area, we were not given the opportunity to vote for or against (so I boycotted the election and didn't bother voting - I'm not going to go out of my way and wait in line to answer a one question ballot on SPLOST). I will reward forward thinking and good behavior by going out of my way to buy ALL my beer and wine in those jurisdictions that allow purchases on Sundays. Too bad my county didn't bother putting this on the ballot, but I won't have to drive very far to the nearest city or county that did.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Obligatory "I'm Not Dead" Post

Day 304 - Happy Halloween

Just thought I'd mention it, since I haven't posted in two months.

In the meantime, I had fun at the Dragon*Con Parade on Labor Day weekend...

...and Dragon*Con night at the Georgia Aquarium.

Georgia Tech football was really fun for six weeks, and then not fun at all the last two. And guess who we're playing for homecoming next week? *gulp* I can narrow it down for you - it is an ACC game and the opponent is undefeated. At least it is a night game and we'll all have a good time until kickoff. Wonder how long I can keep my buzz going?

While I'm being all productive on blog updates, I also put something up on that other blog I started (and have neglected for two months) as well.

I think PDM and I will probably do another mini-vacation around New Year's Day that is within 5-6 hours driving distance of Atlanta. Any suggestions? Would prefer to be near a state park or some other natural place where we can do a few winter day hikes. Last year we did northeastern Florida (Amelia Island) and had a good trip. The beaches were great (and deserted) but we would also consider going north to the mountains as well.

That's about all I've got for now.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Photos Speak for Themselves

Sunrise Ridge Trail

Hurricane Ridge


Olympic Marmot

Alpine Beauty

These are all from our last full day on vacation and were taken in the subalpine region near Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. Lets just say it was a terrific vacation. We probably crammed way too much into one week. Drove 1300 miles. Hiked 36 miles. Had some wildlife encounters (including multiple bears).

Dealing with that first week back to work is always the worst, although a light schedule and my fellow physicists made it easier this time. We had a lot of adventures. Great times!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

It's Always Something...

Now that I can breathe a sigh of relief about the national parks being open during my vacation, I found an even bigger problem with my travel plans: SNOW!!! Since the trip is days away, I started checking trail reports. I did not anticipate that nearly every trail I want to hike would still be covered by a thick layer of snow in August. Apparently the Pacific Northwest got record amounts of snowfall last winter, which has failed to melt in the usual timeframe. The higher elevation trails are either impassible, impossible to reach because the roads are also snowed under, or both. Lower elevation trails can be challenging due to fallen trees and high flow creeks and streams due to melting runoff. The net result will be that we have to modify where we visit and will probably not get to do nearly as much hiking as I had hoped for. PDM might prefer this arrangement, but I am disappointed that I won't get to walk through an alpine meadow filled with wildflowers and surrounded by beautiful mountains (unless I can find one that isn't under several feet of snow).

I am also a bit concerned that with far fewer places to spread out, the crowds might be much larger than what we'd prefer (we would rather not have ANY company on a trail other than plants and wildlife of the type that doesn't eat people). Still looking through my books and guides for creative alternatives, and hoping that our innkeepers will be able to point us toward paths less traveled, or maybe the park rangers will have some suggestions. But I am still astounded that my August vacation plans are all shot to hell because of snowpack. That just amazes me - and never crossed my mind when planning this trip.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

High Anxiety

So.... we are going on a vacation in about a week. The plan is to fly into Seattle, then split time between North Cascades National Park, Mt Rainier NP, and Olypmic NP. All of which will be CLOSED if the idiots in charge of our government can't get their shit straight by August 2. I am trying not to freak out, but every day that passes without any hope of an agreement sends my nervous system into overdrive. We have a lot of money tied up in a vacation that may need quite a bit of modification on the fly. NOT what I had in mind when I planned it. We had briefly considered returning to Canada to see the remote parts of Jasper, and now I am wishing that is what we decided to do. It would be far less uncertain. Yes, I know the general area we are traveling to is beautiful, and there should be some state parks and other alternatives, but really, we should be able to just look forward to the trip instead of getting that awful sinking feeling every time we think about it. I have enough stress in real life and on the job. I don't need vacation anxiety. I really don't. (And yes, I realize that far worse things will happen if an agreement is not reached than us not getting to do what we want on vacation. Just another reason why this needs to be resolved by level headed compromising! This is not rocket science - raise income AND cut spending. They need to do both. Duh.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Brain Fog, and Other Excuses

A Flock of Seagulls

I haven't been around the blog much during the last few months. There has been other stuff going on. LOTS of other stuff. Here is my list of excuses:

1) Work - busy days, long hours. Frankly, I don't want to look at a computer once I get home some days. Been there, done that all day, too tired to care.

2) Summer is peak gardening season. This year I declared all out war on the monkey grass that we inherited when we bought this place. It might have seemed like a good idea in 1965, but monkey grass spreads all over the place, including our "lawn" which is mostly a collection of stuff that is NOT grass of any sort. So around Memorial Day weekend, I started ripping out huge beds of monkey grass and replacing it with nice plants that mostly stay where you put them. This coincided with the onslaught of perpetual heat waves, so I had to get up early to do this and it was still pure hell. I also upset a bunch of yellow jackets who had an underground nest in one of the monkey grass beds and got stung. They got blasted with Raid. I win.

3) Lots of doctor visits and tests. I've had some hearing loss and tinnitus in one ear since last October, and ignored it until April, when I started getting vertigo. That was scary and demanded immediate attention. The good news is that I don't have a brain tumor (they did an MRI to check). The bad news is that I have something called Meniere's Disease. They don't know what causes it and there is no cure. Awesome. Anyway, the primary method of managing symptoms is a low sodium diet (<2000mg, which is less than one teaspoon of table salt). Which brings me to #4...

4) Learning how to cook all over again. Almost everything in our standard repertoire of meals has too much sodium for me to eat. So we had to start nearly from scratch. Adapting some recipes (with mixed success) and making new stuff from some new low sodium cookbooks takes more time than we used to spend on meal prep. This diet also greatly limits where we can go out to eat, so we are obligated to do more cooking at home, and much more work is involved. Nearly everything we eat now is fresh, frozen, or dried. NOT canned, cured or processed. If we want sausage, we have to make it ourselves. Ditto for pizza - we have to make that from the dough up. Have to use dried beans, not canned (there goes spontaneity). It is really amazing how much sodium there is in EVERYTHING. I have become quite the label reader. Even cheese is a problem! Bacon, sausage, pickles, olives, cheese, salty snacks, canned goods, soups (unless homemade), fast foods (including my beloved chick-fil-A), breads, condiments, soy sauce, and most common snack foods - all on the bad list.

5) Not feeling well - vertigo takes it out of you. Ditto for stress and migraine headaches. Some days I come home and go straight to bed. Most of my symptoms have improved with the low sodium diet (the hearing loss seems permanent), and I am losing weight and feel better overall. But I still need to crash about once a week due to whatever.

6) Other interests - been doing some photography stuff (finally getting my last vacation shots - like the one with this post - processed and posted on Flickr), reading (not as much as I would like), catching up on our backlog of DVR stuff, vacation planning (happening soon, and we are not ready yet), and I've already mentioned the garden projects.

7) Hanging out other places on the internet - I started a separate blog about the new low sodium lifestyle, and also joined Google+ (both as my very own non-anonymous self). So those are dividing my attention. If any of you are on Google+ (other than the two of you I already know about and have in my circles) let me know in comments or email me - I am fermicat at both gmail and yahoo.

8) This is not really an excuse for not blogging, and maybe it is a result of the valium I have to take to "suppress my central nervous system" in an attempt to calm down the vertigo, but I am turning into a complete airhead. Absent minded doesn't even begin to describe some of the stuff I do now. It is almost comical. But also kind of sad. I used to be fairly sharp. Now... not so much. And kind of clutzy as well. Running into walls, falling UP stairs, etc. Not fun, and a bit embarrassing (and bruise-inducing).

So... in a nutshell: work, monkey grass, medical tests, learning to cook from scratch, feeling crappy, doing other stuff, being myself on the internet for a change, and brain fog are my excuses for not doing much blogging. How about you?

Photo info: A flock of seagulls crosses the rising sun at the beach. Amelia Island, Florida. Aperture f/8, 1/400 sec exposure, 55mm focal length. January 3, 2011

Monday, July 04, 2011

Freedom Is A Light For Which Many Men Have Died In Darkness

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Have a happy and safe Independence Day.

Take some time out to remember the many souls who sacrificed and died to make our country free.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square (Philadelphia) honors those who died in the Revolutionary War. The tomb itself is inscribed with: "Beneath this stone rests a soldier of Washington's army who died to give you liberty."

This square was used as a mass grave on many occasions beginning in 1706 and continuing through the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793. Paupers, soldiers, common citizens and criminals all lie co-mingled underneath the square. The area was cleaned up and named for George Washington in 1825. In 1956, one soldier was disinterred and placed in the memorial tomb to represent all. The statue, tomb, and memorial were erected to honor both George Washington and the unknown soldier.

An excellent overview of the history of Washington Square can be found here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Dare You To Watch This and NOT Smile

I can't explain it, but watching this made me grin like a madwoman. Charming!

P.S. Happy Summer!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Quick Hits

Living Blur

A dogwood tree fell in our yard during Thursday evening's storms. Not a big deal since it didn't hit anything and isn't in the way. It seems almost a shame to have to remove it -- the cats think it is their personal feline jungle gym. They are all over it.

I've decided that planning our vacations is nearly as much fun as actually going on them. It finally got slow at work the past two days so I started working on our August plans. We're going to Washington state to see North Cascades, Olympic, and Mt. Rainier national parks. And since we're flying into Seattle, I think we'll have to make time to see the Science Fiction Museum just because.

Work is still kicking my ass, but in spite of that I am glad that they switched me to the Midtown location. Change is good. Still covering the "gritty downtown location" two days a week. Also still forced to "share" my Midtown office with a physician two of my three days there. And by "share", my employers mean when she is there I don't get to use it. Not fun.

So why haven't I been around here more? Ironically, my near constant access to the internet provided by my smart phone is the reason that I haven't been around very much. Now that I don't need a computer to read my email and get directions and stuff, I have less of a reason to get on the internet. I'm too busy to do it at work any more and don't really want to sit behind a computer at home since I spend so much time staring at a screen at work.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Forty five sure feels like halfway (or -gulp- more than half way) to something. Anyway, I decided to get myself a present: I'm hiring a housekeeper. I suck at cleaning, don't do it often enough and don't like it. I am more than happy to pay someone else to do it. So that's the plan. We've talked about hiring people to do the yard work also, but I am on the fence about that. I don't dislike yard work. I just don't like doing it when it is hot (kind of a problem when you live in Atlanta - it is hot all the dang time). I'd rather mow the lawn than vacuum any day, even if it is 95F and 95% humidity.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Oh Hai

Yo, What Up?

Soooooo, whatcha been up to?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Merlin the Mighty

Cats are well known for leaving "gifts" of prey at their owners' doorstep. My cats are no exception, which is why it is wise to look down before leaving the house barefoot unless you really enjoy having chipmunk intestine between your toes. Count me out.

Today, Merlin brought us a gift of his own, but I'm not sure he really gets the concept. He was quite proud of his catch. And as usual in our cat household, the prey he was in the process of eating wasn't quite dead yet. Merlin ate the wings first. A bird, you ask? Sadly, no. The noble creature that Merlin bagged was... a butterfly. Which he carried to our doorstep, meowed until we opened the door, and then ate in front of us. He probably didn't understand why we were laughing at him.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Alive and Kicking

Morning Glow

'Been a while. Figured I should let people know I am still alive (PDM and the cats are all OK as well - I know LL must have been worried sick). I haven't been posting since my work assignment changed a month ago*. When I feel like posting, I don't have time. When I have time, I don't feel like posting. Thus my month of silence.

I don't really feel much like posting right now, so I will leave you with the little blurb below and this photo of the morning sky over the north Georgia mountains, where PDM and I had a short getaway last weekend. We stayed in a cottage at a state park, and this was the view from our back porch. Not bad, eh?

*Still covering the gritty downtown location, but now I spend the other three days at the upscale midtown location. I was feeling burned out at the main location, so I am generally happy that they switched me to new horizons. Traffic is more of a hassle since I am going into the heart of Atlanta every day, but on the plus side my lunch choices have improved dramatically. You gotta look at the positive. This is a good thing long term, but in the short term there is a situation that makes this change very challenging and sometimes irritating. It should smooth out in a few months (fingers crossed). Maybe I won't be quite so damn busy after that. One can always hope.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hammock Time

The View From My Hammock

This is the view from our hammock. Rather awesome, no?

Atlanta had such great weekend weather*, I brought the hammock out of storage early and had some well deserved time to rest in it after a whole lot of yard work. It was our annual "chop down the old monkey grass" weekend. Like I always say, if it has "monkey" in the title, it is bound to give you trouble. We also did a bunch of other chores that you don't want to hear about.

Now the smell of charcoal smoke and jerk pork is filling the evening air. I am sipping wine and catching up on internet stuff while my husband cooks. Hope your weekend was equally productive and enjoyable. Smells like it is time to eat - gotta go!

*It isn't all wine and pork aroma. We are paying dearly for the early spring with a very high pollen count - especially considering it is only February. At least we are warm and comfortable while we sneeze and rub our eyes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What a pain...

I spent eight hours today moving my CDs and assorted booklets and cover art from jewel cases to plastic sleeves. Sadly, I did not even come close to finishing the job. I am just glad that all the music we have purchased over the last several years is digital and not still sitting in my "to do" pile. I've got several hours to go before I can box up the jewel cases for the recycler. Some other time... not tonight.

Parts of my 2011 decluttering effort have been more painful than others. Today moved straight to the top of that list. Apparently, I am too old to spend eight hours sitting cross legged on the floor. *sigh* At least I have a nice desk to sit at while I complain about my lower back pain on my blog. And a good chair with lumbar support that is doing more to soothe my back than that useless painkiller I took an hour ago.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mac Desk 2.0

Did some more redecorating. This time we tackled the desk in our den that houses the "fun computer". I use the Mac for all my photography stuff, and it is our digital juke box for the house. We outgrew the old desk years ago when we got the big monitor but we kept limping along with it. Since this is in our den, I wanted real furniture that looks nice. This desk fit the bill. The CPU is now hidden in the closet, but is easily accessible through the curtain. Ditto for the accessories and supplies. Big improvement!

Mac Desk 2.0

Mac Desk: Before

Friday, February 11, 2011

Crichton Kitteh?

This one's for my Farscape friends. Don't know what I'm talking about? Watch, and learn. HIGHLY recommended.

funny pictures - In ur wormholez,
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Friday, February 04, 2011


Day 343 - Merlin

Merlin, formerly known as "New Cat", has settled in with us nicely. He and Silvio have become partners in crime. The girls are relieved that they keep each other occupied and out of their fur. I'm glad we took him in. He's a good cat.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cat and Mouse

Day 363 - Cat and Mouse

Something's been off this year. Finally figured out what it is.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Home Office: After & Before

We spent Sunday overhauling the home office. Threw away or recycled a ton of stuff and created a much nicer space to work in. Next up: the Mac desk in our den.

Home Office: After

Here is what it looked like before (err, actually "during" since you can see some parts of the new desk on the floor in the foreground and the area to the left of the old desk has been cleaned):

Home Office: Before

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Slacker Cat

PDM says I should rename this blog "Slacker Cat" because of my lack of updates. It is true that I am ignoring my blog (and many others), but not because I am a slacker. I've been Getting Shit Done at home and that is a very good thing. It finally dawned on me after five years in this house that it is not gonna decorate itself. I gave it plenty of chances. So, for whatever reason, right after I got back from the New Years vacation, I got obsessed with decluttering and getting all the crap outta here. I'm off to a great start. Dropped off eight huge shopping bags of schtuff at Goodwill this very afternoon. Recycled a ton of paper/cardboard. Freed up a lot of shelf and closet space. And I am only getting started.

No more living like a grad student. Time to be a grown up. I'm ditching the particle board and getting some real furniture. Gonna hang some ART on the walls - probably lots of my own photos, enlarged and framed. I've got 600 CD sleeves on the way so I can finally get rid of all those stupid jewel cases. I donated all my VHS movies. If it doesn't fit or hasn't been worn in several years, it is outta here. If I am keeping it, it is going to be packed away in an orderly fashion.

Making a list of home projects to be crossed off in 2011. Some are easily accompished - like today's project of getting rid of those stupid bathtub "safety" decals that have mostly disintegrated and have been ugly germ traps for years. Done! Other low-hanging fruit includes some painting (although that includes some drywall repair that might not be trivial). Every one of our interior doors needs to be replaced.

So sorry about the blog neglect, but it feels so good to be getting so much done at home. I didn't check my feed reader on vacation 12/30 - 1/4, and then I was busy and couldn't do it, and then realized last week that I didn't really miss most of it. So today I checked on my friends and deleted the rest. Very similar to the other decluttering I've been engaged in!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Freezing Fog?

It's in the forecast. Can't wait. This has been a really weird week so far.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Project 365

I took at least one photograph every day in 2010 as a project to get to know my new DSLR camera. [Except on May 30, when I was busy with party preparations and then the actual party and totally forgot about Project 365 so I didn't take any photos until it was after midnight and too late to fix, dammit.] The project helped me develop as a photographer and I did get to know what all the buttons and knobs on the camera do. I also was driven to learn some new Photoshop techniques to keep things interesting and fresh. I'd say Project 365 was a success!

At approximately one photo per second, it will take six minutes of your time if you wish to watch the Project 365 slideshow all the way through (I think you can also manually click through them faster or slower if you wish). Warning: contains CATS. Also rocks, trees, fungus, bugs, flowers, pollen, astronomical objects, gastronomical objects (i.e. "food"), Tech stuff, vacation photos, abstract artsy shots, more cats, great photos, good photos, a few bad photos that I tried to rescue, and even a piece or two of me.

Project 365 involved a pretty big commitment, so I won't be repeating it in 2011. Hopefully the photography habit that I nurtured this past year will stick around and quality will now take the place of quantity. I remain interested in developing new digital post processing skills and making the most out of what I capture. I'll admit that taking a few days off photography has been refreshing. There will always be inspiration and I plan to take advantage of what I've learned. [Perhaps in a couple of days, when "snowmegeddon" arrives. Yes, Atlanta is due for some sort of big "snow event". Be afraid. Be very afraid.]

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy 2011

Happy New Year from warm and sunny Florida. PDM and I are down here on mini-vacation (staying not quite a week). Having a wonderful time biking, hiking, eating, drinking. Wish you were here. :-)