Saturday, January 31, 2009

A sad state of affairs

This is what happens when you live with two cats and two dogs; floors full of rough surfaces, nails and staples sticking out; and you tend to run outside to get the paper or the mail in your slippers. Your cute little monkey slippers end up blinded, ragged and torn, and kinda gross looking.

The latest victim of the cup and card method

This particular prisoner was in my tub this morning, the second such spider in my tub that I've found during the last few weeks. What gives, spider community??? Can't a girl bathe in peace?

And of course... encourage my addiction, I've uploaded Facebook for iPhone to my phone. Hey, it was free, so what can I say?


I've crossed over to the Dark Side...

I finally did it. I joined Facebook. Yes, I know, I've heard it's addictive. But it seems like people have been talking about it a lot lately, and I figure networking right now is a GOOD thing.

I'm leery of having my info out there, no matter how minimal. But honestly, I babble about myself so much here, it's not exactly like my life is a mystery. Still, I guess I'm a bit nervous, but I've already seen a bunch of people I know on there.

So...will you be my friend? LOL

Lose It! for iPhone

I've discovered this crazy-wonderful new app for iPhone called Lose It! If you are trying to lose weight and have had trouble doing so, this app is for you. Not only does it do an awesome job at tracking what you eat, how much you exercise, how much you weigh, and your weight loss goals, but it's FREE!

I've just started using it and I'm already thrilled with the results. It's easy to use, and it does away with keeping track the old way—calories scribbled on pads of paper, trying to figure out how much you ate, how much you worked out, and how it's all affecting your weight loss. I didn't realize how much I had been eating, which has probably been sabotaging my weight loss program so far. With Lose It! I've been able to track EVERYTHING and it's all at the palm of my hand.

Seriously, this thing rocks. And again, it's FREE! Check it out.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Waiting for the harvest

"Money tree, don't fail me now!"

(A random thought at work this week)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Welcome, Tallulah Jacqueline!

Per my Aunt Cherie:

Baby Tallulah Jacqueline Scott arrived at 5:34 am Sunday, Jan. 25. She weighed in at 7lbs, 7oz and was 20" long. Jonnie and baby (and Quinn) are doing fine. And Quinn and Jonnie are "over the moon" with happiness!

(Photos are by my cousin Sean's girlfriend, Jackie)

Wisdom from my morning cup of tea

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The marvels of modern dentistry

My head is still spinning from how fast I had my cavities filled today at the dentist. I wasn't in the chair more than 15 minutes before I was being cleaned up and sent on my merry way. They have sure come a long way since the days of painful shots, whining drills, and lots of cotton jammed in the mouth. I must say that the pain afterward hasn't changed all that much, but maybe I'm just being a baby. It's been so long since I've had a cavity or anything of that nature, so I suppose I've forgotten what it's like.

At any rate, I'm headed to bed shortly to get some rest. My mouth hurts, and my furry children are being especially annoying and persistent tonight, for which I have little patience. I missed out on reading most of my favorite blogs, but I'll be back tomorrow night when I'm feeling a little better. Ant thanks to everyone who left words of comfort and encouragement regarding my impending layoff, I really appreciate it.

And there you have it

I knew it was coming. We all did. Our company has been dying a slow, painful death over the last few years, and especially during the last 8 months or so. We were just never sure when. And with all the games, the intimidation, the finger pointing, keeping your head down was a priority and you expected the ax to fall at any moment. Seriously, every day was agony. Would it be today? Who would go? How would they go? They have botched previous layoffs before. People were sometimes notified by hearsay from others about their own layoffs. Or the "angel of death"—an employee chosen to retrieve the unlucky ones from their cubes and take them to the HR office—would incite fear and panic every time her head could be seen bobbing along a department's row.

Yesterday was no different. The early email about a company-wide meeting was the first panic alarm sounded. Then it was the glimpse of corporate higher ups milling about. Finally, seeing the HR person on site on her off day (she only came by our company twice a month) incited nervous chattering and upset stomachs. No one could focus, and you could cut the tension with a knife.

So when we all finally sat down in that meeting, some of us with kleenex at the ready, others already wiping the tears away, we all knew. That didn't make it any easier, although the certainty of it happening and having an end date (April 1st) for our doors to permanently close was somehow a huge relief. Never knowing if you might be working your last day or not was agony; knowing you were working toward your last day is strangely not. Not being singled out as in previous layoffs, but instead leaving in one large group, together, was easier to stomach too. And although not all of us will likely make it to April 1st, we are fairly certain we'll be around in February for the job search seminars. March, on the other hand, is another matter entirely.

So the severance packets have been passed around, an HR meeting is scheduled for today (there are so many questions), but life at our company goes on for the moment. It's a scary world out there right now, with record unemployment levels and a global financial downward spiral underway. But I think this current dark and ominous path will lead to brighter and happier places ahead. To have nowhere to go but up can be a good thing in a way. It lends an air of hope and promise, and gives one a sense of purpose when job hunting, especially if careers are to be changed and professions to be re-examined.

Until that time, however, our company's slow painful death continues—but with all of us in this together now, until a definite end, which has finally been granted.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Scrappy's passing

Yesterday my beloved goldfish (black moor) Scrappy died. It was quite a sad moment for me. It may seem odd that someone might get upset about a fish dying, but Scrappy was different. From the time I picked him out from the hordes of fish at the pet store, I knew he was different. He was not the prettiest fish, and had some scales missing and such. He was always happy, however, and his favorite thing in the world was dinner time. When I fed the fish (Kayo was his roommate), Scrappy would swim to the top and grab a mouthful of flakes, then proceed to perform a series of splashes and swimming maneuvers in his joy. It always made me laugh that a creature like a goldfish could be so excited when it was time to eat, and show it, too.

A young Scrappy

Scrappy almost died, twice, during the over four years I had him. One hot summer day I was heading out to meet Jen so that we could drive to a Dave Matthews concert together. As I was leaving, I noticed Scrappy was floating on the bottom, looking forlorn (if that was possible for a fish). He had a large rock tumbling about in his mouth, and as big as his mouth was, even as a little fish, he still couldn't spit that rock out.

Scrappy and an earlier roommate, Virgil, who died years ago

So Pete and I tried a bunch of ways to get that rock out, to no avail. We ended up using a tiny pair of hemostats to pop that rock out, and only seconds after being plopped back into the water, Scrappy was back to sucking on the rocks again, lesson unlearned, apparently. He would go on to repeat this same scenario months later, and this time we knew what to do.

Scrappy swimming in the tank near Dollie's butt—a good way to show how big Scrappy got in his final months

This death-defying fish grew to an enormous size, as is evident in the picture above. I could barely fit Scrappy in the palm of my hand, and had to buy an extra large net for the tank because of his huge body. Still, he remained happy and content, never fighting with other fish, and always excited to see people at his tank, mainly because he thought he might get a dinner pretty soon afterward. When Slimy Hoover joined the tank, he sucked at his shell a few times and then moved on, content to wait for those floating flakes of food instead. (Slimy Hoover has since passed on.)

During the last several months, Scrappy became sick and started floating upside down, the victim of swim bladder issues. I tried several medications, cleaned the tank and water, and even fed the fish canned peas on the advice of a pet store employee to help with the problem (it didn't help). He still tried to eat, and even splashed every now and then, but he was never quite the same after that. I kept him as comfortable and happy as possible, but it was evident that he was slowly fading away.

And so I awoke from a really bad dream yesterday morning and was already in a rather delicate state of mind when I walked downstairs, only to discover Scrappy's lifeless body floating in the tank. Kayo was poking him with his nose, confused as to why his buddy was no longer moving around and excited about meal time. It was really heartbreaking to see him go like that. He was such a charismatic fish, and I have never had a fish live so long or get so big before.

Why all the fuss about a fish? Because that's who I am. I love animals and all the pets I have had over the years, from toads to fish to birds, and of course dogs and cats. And they have all given me great joy, made me laugh, made me cry, and have been a constant in my life. So see one of them die, even a "simple" goldfish, is still really sad to me. It's one more bit of light that is gone, no matter how small or insignificant. Scrappy made me smile, gave me stories to tell, and was always entertaining—and that's all that matters.

Needless to say, he will be sorely missed.

Party for Pete

Yesterday we stopped over at my parents' house yet again for a January birthday party, this time a belated one for Pete. We all dined on stir fry and French bread, and a cherry filled-cake was served up for his birthday.

Pete's cake, complete with the ever-present number candles

Pete, Steve, Stephi, Matt, dad, mom, and I all sang happy birthday to a bashful Pete

A card and some sweets for my sweet

The goofy card I gave to Pete, complete with a cartoon animal couple, in honor of my parents' preference for such cards over the years

Otto contained in his cage, eating a piece of cake after barking along to "Happy Birthday"

Cherry-filled goodness

That's the last birthday we're celebrating in my family until springtime, although Pete has some birthdays in his family coming up (his mom's is in February). But at least we can breathe a sigh of relief for the January onslaught, although we'll be celebrating AGAIN this Sunday for all the birthdays as a sort of recap. Yeah, we're weird like that.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A trip back to the Adirondacks

Pete and I (and maybe our dogs) might be going back to the Adirondacks this summer with Pete's sisters and nieces. I am so excited just thinking about it! We had such a good time back in August '07, and I would love the opportunity to go back.

Here are some pix from that trip:

The Ausable River

Dusk near our cabin

Duck in Lake Placid

Pete's niece Olivia jumping on rocks across a nearby river

Jeanette, Olivia, me, and Pete in front of our awesome cabin in the woods

Niagara Falls, which we visited on the way home

If we can go, I will be super-psyched. Really, I don't see why we wouldn't. Jeanette's looking into whether our dogs could go or not. If not, we'd have to get a sitter (and yes, they'd be heartbroken). But otherwise we're clearing our calendar for August again. I have no idea where I'll be working or what will be happening in our lives by then, but just knowing we have this trip to look forward to is happiness enough for me.

I might be posting pix to Flickr for this trip from '07, but I need a small break after uploading a billion Hawaii photos during the last several days. I'll let you know when I upload them though.

Finally wore 'em

I ordered these boots well over a month or two ago after receiving a gift card for DSW from a friend. So you would think I'd have worn them to death by now, right? Heck no. Why? I think it's because I've sunk back into that funk of mine as far as appearance goes, and only when I go to work. I mean, I wore the boots to Pete's dinner and party last night, and dressed up a bit, but come Monday I'll have a hard time convincing myself I should wear them to work. I got lots of compliments on them, but I'm not sure that will be enough for me to bring them back out again.

I wish I could work up the will to wear these lovelies, as well as all the other pretty stuff in my closet, but I've retreated into a pattern of comfort and minimal effort. I think it's partly because I'm more and more (and more) unhappy at work and don't feel like making the effort, but also because I've slid quite a bit in my fitness routine during the last few months. Essentially I have NO fitness routine since becoming sick back in December, when I was in the height of health, working out, and feeling better about myself.

It's been hard to get back into that grove, and I'm wondering what will give me that push back onto the treadmill, even if to just walk a little. Perhaps warmer weather, or just the itch to get back into a healthy routine. Whatever it may be, I know I'll be back at that point soon, because it's been on my mind a lot lately and my clothes have become rather ill fitting. If that's not a motivating factor, I don't know what is.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

All done

The Hawaii honeymoon pix are all on Flickr now, compiled into a pretty little collection with this cool mosaic cover.

Whew! That was a lot of caption writing... Enjoy!

Secret cat code?

Dollie laying all over my other desk and the PC keyboard

I was writing captions for the billions of pictures I uploaded to Flickr for the honeymoon pix, Day Twelve (will it ever end?) and stopped in the kitchen to grab some more coffee and talk to Pete. When I came back, I surprised Dollie, who was on my keyboard and had written this:

\ bbbbbbbbb


(and so on for a million more 2's)


For this photo:

I'm not sure what it means. Could it be a secret rendezvous place (in Maui, of all places) for her other cat cohorts? She seemed rather suspicious, and quickly tried to hide what she was typing with her furry body. I was on to her though, and shooed her away from the keyboard, hopefully stopping the code from being transmitted to other cats across the country.

Two can play at this game, my feline friend, two can play...

Dollie laying on my closed (and safe, for now) laptop

Last of the January birthday people

Did you guess who's birthday it was yesterday? Yup, my hubby Pete! I don't have any pix of the festivities, but I can tell you we had a great time. We ate dinner at The Bank in Wheaton, which was wonderful, then stopped by Nicole's to have some birthday cake. Then we all hung out for several hours talking, jamming (Pete and Jim, that is), and eating cake and drinking beer.

Pete was very happy, and he was especially pleased by the surprise appearance of his mom and stepdad, who weren't scheduled to be in town but came all the way out anyhow (a 2.5 hr drive one way). They headed back after cake, but their presence was certainly appreciated.

I found this picture of Pete to use for this post while sorting through my honeymoon pix (this is from Day Twelve). I always liked this pic, and think that Pete looks rather handsome here, like an actor in a suspense movie or something (we were at the base of a volcano, exploring). Anyhow, I'll be taking him out for a meal today and a birthday gift of his choosing, which I'm guessing will be either tools or books.

So happy birthday to you, Pete!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Days Four and Five of Honeymoon in Hawaii...

Pete in water, talking to a couple on a beach near Hanalei Bay as the sun sets, Kauai, Hawaii

...can now be seen on my Flickr page. More days to come...

UPDATE: Days Six through Ten are now uploaded, only three days to go...

ANOTHER UPDATE: They're all uploaded, so check 'em out!

Me and my Dollie-Cat

Today I decided to use one of my favorite mugs as I uploaded more of my Hawaii pix to Flickr and worked on my freelance project that's due like super soon. What mug, you ask? Why, my Dollie mug, of course! I don't remember where it came from—I think someone gave it to us?—but as you can see, the cat on the mug looks just like Dollie's mug. Ho ho ho, I crack myself up!

Anyhow, of course Dollie happened to appear as I was getting my coffee. I don't like her going on the counters (I usually shoo her off) but I let it go so I could take her picture next to my mug. She seemed rather blasé about being famous enough to appear on a mug, but that's just her, she's very humble like that. And sorry about that crud on the counter—it's the result of living with a messy husband.

What?! Has Dollie taken up smoking too? I don't think I can live with another smoker!

I'm probably very biased, but although I have three cats (Max and Dollie, who live at my house, and Ginger, who lives with my parents), I think Dollie is the absolute cutest cat in the world. Although she is sweet, hyper, friendly, funny, and super affectionate, she is also quite a scrapper. She loves nothing more than climbing and exploring, especially the dirtiest and most dangerous spots in the house—which there are many, since this rental house is old and in ill repair. I will often go in the basement to do a load of laundry and call out to her, only to see her pop up from high above, chortling in her funny little cat talk, face peering out from some duct work, completely covered in spider webs but having a grand old time.

Minutes after the above pix were taken, I heard a commotion in our creepy basement. I went down there and peered below, between the wall by the stairs and a gap near the back of the refrigerator. I saw Dollie hanging from some sort of ventilation and shimmying along a brick column.

She eventually had to let herself fall from this spot, but she calmly walked away and reappeared a second later, ready for some Fancy Feast. You would never think that a cat that is as chubby and short limbed as Dollie would be the adventurer. Max the slender and elegant model cat prefers to lounge around, but Dollie is as hardy and curious as they come.

Okay, gushing over. Back to work...

Oh yeah, check out my first three albums of Hawaii pix here. I'm still writing captions for Day Three, so you might want to check back later to look at that album, but One and Two are ready for viewing. And Days Four through Thirteen are on their way this weekend.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Quad Camera for iPhone

I got this cool new app for my iPhone called Quad Camera. It imitates those cameras that take four slightly different exposures and puts them together in an image. It's actually rather cool and I think it was under $4. I know I'll have lots of fun playing with this one. But it helps if you have willing participants. Matt thought it was cool, but Pete was groggy, Spanky was confused, and Adora just didn't seem to care.

Sigh...I'll have to seek out other more interesting (and interested) subjects elsewhere.