Sunday, January 31, 2010

Squatters, Kitchen Purgatory and Picasa angst

Winter was none too happy to discover a squatter in his crinkly cat hole this afternoon.

I'm surprised that the crinkly noises don't scare the dude away. He's usually pretty timid around anything new, especially if it makes noises; but he seems to have gotten over his fears in this case. He's always been a fan of the cocoon feeling.

I managed to recover from a kitchen disaster today, and turn it into something that I may try to recreate. I decided to make my own version of eggs purgatory for lunch today, which is essentially eggs poached in pureed tomatoes with fresh herbs and cheese. I usually use fresh tomatoes, but decided to use some prepackaged vodka tomato sauce instead. (It's like a creamy tomato sauce, with a little bit of a kick.)

Except, I mucked up and tried to scoop the eggs out of the sauce too early; ending up with scrambled eggs mixed up with the sauce. So, instead of poached eggs, I stirred it all up really well, doubled the sauce and melted a couple of ounces of goat cheese into the mix. I poured the whole mess over some whole wheat pasta and it was really good!

In other news, I'm ticked off at Picasa. I've always thought that they did a pretty good job of photo editing and sorting. Even better that it's free. In fact, it's all I've used since Google started publishing it. But. The latest update has screwed everything up.

I can't import one or two photos anymore. No- apparently, I need to import all 600+ 2MB photos every time I open it; regardless of what I tell it to do. I used to be able to go in and pick the last few pictures on the card, import them and start playing right away.

Now, I have to wait while it reloads pictures that have already been imported before I can even select one. I sat through it the first time, thinking it was a one-time thing because of the upgrade. 10 minutes later, the photos were loaded, I highlighted the ones I wanted and said 'import selected'. It tried to import all 600 pictures all over again. Until I can figure this out, any photo that I post will be Straight Out of the Camera, flaws and all.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dr Seuss Would Be Proud

Sometimes, pictures present themselves, and you can't take the time to adjust things, clear up the visual clutter or improve the lighting. The pose is just that good that you can't afford a delay.

This would be one of those times.

I wasn't feeling all that great last night, so I didn't walk the dogs. Instead, I found activities for Tula to do in the house. She's got these turtle eggs that came out of a stuffed turtle at some point. I don't know where the turtle is, but the eggs make for great in-house fetching toys.

I sit in my chair and chuck them down the hall. Tula brings them back with a minimum of damage.

Tonight, I was gearing up the dogs for their usual walk, and I started to tidy up without thinking. I gathered up the eggs, and as I went to put them away, Tula woofed at me. She had her boots on, she'd waited patiently while I'd gotten Cotton all geared up and darnit she was ready to go. She didn't want any more delays.

That's when a thought occurred to me:

Green Eggs and a Ham

I need to go to Melbourne

I need to go soon, before this guy grows up.

... and that gave me a thought.

I love to travel, but am not entirely comfortable in new places on my own. (Thus, my annual trip to the same place.) Where I do feel comfortable is a well run zoo. Maybe, as a way to broaden my horizons, I could start my own personal tour of high caliber zoos.

Right after I win that lottery.

Monday, January 25, 2010

More Pimped Up Truck Wordage

Seen on the back of a truck I followed home tonight:

"My ovaries are bigger than your balls"

Yes. Somebody went to the expense and effort of having this painted onto her truck. It filled the entire back window, from one side to the other.

I'll bet her mama is proud.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Some leftover zoo pictures

I was playing with some of the pictures that I took at the San Diego zoo, and thought I'd post a few more.

These ones took some fiddling... I was there so long that the sun went down on me, so the lighting wasn't great.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Speaking of pimped up trucks...

There's a truck that I've seen around town that belongs to a guy who is apparently very proud of his last name. It's Storm. I know this because he has a vanity place with his first initials and last name: "_ _ STORM". He's also got the phrase "There's a Storm coming" painted on the tailgate of his truck.

What really bugs me about this is that he painted that phrase on the back of his truck.

If I'm looking at the back of his truck, wouldn't it the storm be leaving, not coming?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Romance A Millionaire"

Three ads, lining the side of my Facebook wall:

Meet More Men
Meet Honest Men
Romance A Millionaire

99% of the ads that I see on Facebook are about finding somebody. Yes, I'd like to find the right guy; but it's not my top priority. It's not even in my top ten. I hear that Facebook does like Google and analyzes my profile and the contents that I post to determine what ads I should see. If that's true, they do a pretty crappy job. There's a whole lot more to know about me than the fact that I sleep alone.

I find the idea that I'd want to romance a millionaire to be bothersome. There's something seriously wrong with anybody who is considers "rich" to be a requirement in a potential mate. Trust me. I live in an oil town. There are a lot of wealthy red necks and rig pigs in my area, and this is what their money buys:

Thanks, but I'll take intelligent, hard working, thoughtful or kind hearted instead.

And on a shallow note, if I do end up with somebody some day, I really hope he'll be tall.

Monday, January 18, 2010

the importance of cheese

I am anal retentive. I know this, and usually make something of an effort not to impose it on others.

I try not to be one of 'those' customers, so I limit my special requests when I eat out. Specifically, I only ask the specially trained sandwich experts at Subway to "please pick through, and give me tomatoes that aren't green". They do that for me. Sometimes it means that they have to go to the back of the store and get another bowl of pre-sliced tomatoes, so I feel as though I'm pushing my luck to ask any more of them.

That leaves the cheese.

They put all of cheese on the bun so that the big end of the triangle is facing the crease of the bun. Flipping half of the cheese triangles would result in full coverage of the sandwich, but they face all of the cheese slices in the same direction. That leaves cheese overlaps and blank spaces on the sandwich.

It's a whole ball of wrong, I tell you.

I considered not getting tomatoes in order to free up my one special request. The problem is, "Please flip the cheese so that it's more evenly dispersed" makes feel both geeky and high maintenance, as well as anal retentive.

I'm just learning to accept the anal retentiveness. I'm not ready to embrace geeky and high maintenance quite yet.

And so I say nothing. I accept a sandwich with faulty cheese placement; which totally messes with my chi, and leaves me with no choice but to soothe my frustrations with chocolate.

And that's how I've developed an addiction to Subway's M&M cookies. Surely, I can't be the only one.

Come to think of it, that's probably how they get away with charging so much for their cookies.

As a marketing scheme, it's actually kind of brilliant.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A second home for my yard

I'm itching for spring.

I'm yearning for yard work.

I've got plans for a garden or two, but those details are pretty much worked out. It's just the grunt work that needs to be done. However, one thing that I've been planning for the yard for a few years is a bird house.

I don't know why, but I've wanted an ornate, house-like bird house for one specific corner of the yard.

So far, the best birdhouse selection that I can find is at

There's this one:

Or this one:

If money was no object, this is what my own house would look like:

Or, maybe since my reality-based house is a plain bungalow, I should go for another plain bungalow.

Either way, they're all hand painted. I had in mind that I'd repaint whichever one I got to match the colours of my house.

It'll go at the side, where the fence joins the front corner of the house. There's currently a lilac tree nearby, and peony plants below. I want to 'plant' a post right behind the fence, and attach the bird house on top of it, so that it peeks over the fence. There are gardens in front of and behind the fence, so it's a low traffic area.

Keep in mind that the birds don't like me and my newly developed subdivision. They won't eat from my feeders, regardless of what food I leave out for them. They turn up their snotty little beaks at the berries on my tiny new-subdivision trees. I've been planting my gardens with attracting wildlife in mind, but so far to no avail. So, this particular bird house will be more for me than them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The hair scarf

I bought something while I was on my trip in December, and now I can't decide if I love or hate it.

It's a scarf. I often where scarves at work to dress up otherwise plain shirts. This one seemed kind of fun, and I figured that all its colours would help pull a bunch of outfits together.

It brightens up my purple shirt

It classes up the beige shirt

It tones down my orange shirt.
which is in the laundry - sorry, no picture!

So, you might ask, what's not to like about it?
It's the ends of the scarf. They creep me out.

Vanna-Tula will show you why:

Even closer:

It looks like human hair!

The more I think about it, the more certain I am that I can't wear it like this. I thought about cutting the hair fringe off, but closer inspection tells me that it'll probably fray if I do that. Then I thought about cutting the hair off and getting a tailor to wrap some sort of ribbon or something over the edges at the ends. The problem with that is that this scarf is like mosquito netting. I'm worried that adding anything would weigh it down.

What do you figure? Do you think this scarf is salvageable? If so, how?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

DYI, and various levels of success

My dryer stopped working yesterday, about 5 minutes into the load. It was overheated, because the exhaust duct between it and the wall had somehow broken. I'm not sure when that happened, but from the looks of the duct tape and the lint stuck to it, the pipe had been broken for a while. I was envisioning having to pay somebody too much money to come out and fix it, and really didn't want to do that.

In frustration, I wedged myself behind the dryer and took the various parts of the exhaust duct apart. It turns out that the elbow joint had snapped at some point, so I went to the Mecca (AKA Home Depot) and bought a replacement part. It took some jimmying, and a flurry of F bombs, but I got the thing back together in one piece. $3.90 and an hour's worth of work? I'll take that over paying a repair man any day.

That may have been the end of my success.

I had myself a serious fit of giggles this morning. I'd finally finished painting the bedside table that I've been working on, and went to install the glass (fake crystal) drawer pull. It was so big against the little drawer, it looked like the whole table was going to topple over from the weight of it. I'm a big fan of all things sparkly, but this was ostentatious. I see now that I'm going to have to scale back.

I've got an aphid problem in my house. A friend of mine told me of a great way to get rid of them, where you soak a few cigarette butts in water, and then spray the plants with the water. Apparently, the nicotine kills them dead; so I decided to give it a shot. I asked a coworker who smokes for a few butts, and he came back a little later with 4.

I don't mean to trash smokers, but I can't believe the stench. In fact, I don't understand why I never noticed it on him. The 4 butts were wrapped in a paper towel, but the smell around my cubical was immediately overwhelming. I put them in the sandwich container from my lunch, but the smell was still there. When I left the area a little later, a friend told me that she could still smell them on me. When I came home, I had to throw my knapsack in the wash, and the sandwich container in the dishwasher. Even so, I could still smell smoke for hours.

Ultimately, I put the butts into a big container of water (about a gallon) and left that downstairs in the basement. After a few days, that water is the colour of weak tea. I suspect that it's ready to use on the plants now; but frankly, I'm not sure I'm prepared to spread that smell around. Right now I'm thinking that the aphids are preferable.

The kid who does my shovelling for me doesn't do a very good job. He's a 13 year old kid, so I'm not entirely surprised. However, for $50/month, I don't think that I'm unreasonable to want him to do a good job. I've gone over a few times and asked him to redo/fix his work, and hoped that he'd get the idea for what I expect. Not so much.

It has really warmed up over the last couple of days, and the snow is starting to melt. I thought I'd take advantage of it to go fix the sidewalks. He'd shovelled a path along the walk, but had left a foot on either side instead of shovelling from edge to edge. (The snow he'd left behind was 18" high and encrusted in ice.) He's also stopped about 6' short of the end of the sidewalk, before the alley. Cars had driven over that area, and left the snow packed down .

Considering how out of shape I am lately, fixing this was really hard work. I was out there for almost two hours, before I finally got it done. What really annoyed me was that his mom came out and was working in her yard. She saw me working, and never did anything.

I'm not a parent; but if I knew that somebody was having to work as hard as I was working to fix something that my child had been paid well to do, I'd be telling that kid to get their ass out there and help out. She did nothing. Even worse, for the last 15 minutes that I was working, the kid came out to wait for a ride from his friends. He watched me work - never said a thing - and made no effort to assist. I've already prepaid him for January, but I think I'm either going to do my own shovelling in February or hire somebody else.

Friday, January 8, 2010


I have questions:

Now that the cat hole has received acceptance, how long do I have to leave it on the mantel and where should it go?

Is it dumb to frame pictures of animals that you took at a zoo and put them on the wall? Does that imply in any way that you've been on a real, live safari and seen them in their natural habitat?

Where did Tallulah find the sock (most definitely not mine) that she just brought to me?

Why - Oh, God, why - does everybody who learns that I'm taking iron for my anemia think it's OK to ask me if I'm constipated as a result? Seriously - what does one say in response to a question like that?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Location, Location, Location

Apparently, in order for the kitty to show interest in the obscenely expensive Crinkly Cat Hole, one must place said cat hole in the place that the loyal feeder would find the least attractive. In fact, the loyal feeder must remove a favorite globe from its place of honor on on the fireplace mantel, and replace it with the ugly cat hole. Then, and only then, will the cat hole become a favorite hangout.

Himself has now permanently planted himself in the cat hole, and has no plans to come out.

In other news, the dogs were groomed today.

Sergeant Cotton Dog is looking svelte and happy.

(The word "cookie" may have been responsible for that look on his face.)

The groomer deemed Tallulah too skinny to go out in the cold with short hair and refused to shave her down. Now she looks fat, which may have been the plan. I suspect that after seeing so many obese animals, the groomer has lost sight of what a healthy weight is for a dog. I may not be able to do it for myself, but I've managed to keep both of my dogs at an ideal - thin - weight.

I'm not too upset, though, because I was only charged half price for Tallulah's bath, comb out and face/feet trim.

Typical poodle, Tallulah's always happy to jump on anything resembling a pedestal.
However, she has yet to master the whole "sitting like a lady" thing.

A funny story from the groomer:

Her shop is downtown. Over the last few years, there's been a pretty big problem with the druggies in the downtown area. The front of her shop is all windows, and she watches the area carefully. At any sign of drug activity, she gets on the phones and calls the cops. She's also very protective of her clients, since many of us are dropping our dogs off in the early morning hours. Once, there was somebody rooting through the garbage can that had been left out for pickup when I drove in, and she came out, chased him away and escorted me in.

This morning, she came out from the back area of the shop and saw one of her clients getting out of her car. As the lady reached into the back seat to get her dog, a rail-thin man came out from behind the car and started talking to her. She said he was almost skeletal, his hair was long and greasy and he was wearing ratty old sweats about 6 sizes too big with no coat. (It's -20C today.) When he turned around, his pants were falling down so far that she could see his plumber's crack. Normally, she calls the police first but this guy looked so bad she was worried about the lady's safety and didn't want to delay. She rushed outside, grabbed him by his arm, and told him to get off her property because she wasn't going to have him accosting her clients.

It turns out that this guy was the client's boyfriend, who she hadn't seen get out of the passenger side of the car.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Foiled again.

Himself has very specific tastes. He knows what he likes, and what he doesn't.

He likes his round cushion, which I got for $3 in a discount bin.
He LOVES his boxes, which are pretty much free.

He likes his $5 basket, especially when it's lined with crinkly paper.

What he doesn't like, apparently, is the $45 crinkly cat hole.

I shoulda known better.

Monday, January 4, 2010

For Pix

I pretty much spent 3 days in bed after I got home. The trip, as great as it was, really wore me out. I also had iron issues. I'd changed the type of iron that I was taking a few days before I left to help with nausea, and apparently the new pills have less iron. I also wasn't as religious as I should have been about taking them when I was supposed to. Long story short, my anemia hit an all time high. I was swollen from the knees down, light headed and tired.

No worries, though: I am feeling better. I'm taking a mix of the old pills and the new pills, so I'm only sort of nauseous. I have a follow up appointment with the doctor tomorrow, and I'm on the mend. More importantly, the trip was totally worth it.

I also had some visitors for a few days. My friend Jeff, his wife Michele and their kids came to stay with me. Not only did we have a great visit, but Jeff set up my wireless network for me so that I don't have to steal internet from the neighbours anymore. Plus, they took me out for Italian. Yum!

But not exactly cooperative with my New Year's diet.

So, instead of "I'm going to lose weight", I've decided to rework that to "I'm going to eat fruits and veggies at every meal". Yesterday, I attempted to start off with a bang, and made a roast beef with three veggie sides. I rubbed the roast in garlic and pepper, then put it in the slow cooker with a mix of Burgundy and broth. It's a recipe that I've tried a few times, but it has resulted in extremely dry beef each time. As good as it sounds, I think I need to write this recipe off. In the meantime, I had an old shoe roast left over.

Tonight, I chopped it all up, used the remaining Burgundy/broth from the slow cooker, and simmered it for a half hour. I added an onion and a whack of chopped up mushrooms, then a cup of light sour cream. I served it all over mashed potatoes and it was tender and delish. Off the cuff beef stroganoff to the rescue!

Other than that, I have a project I've been working on. I have a small table that I'd picked up at a scratch, dent and butt ugly sale. It has good lines, but the paint job was awful. It was black, with streaks of silver glaze. I couldn't decide if it was a really bad 80's castoff, or if somebody had applied the glaze with a toilet brush. Either way, I set out to fix it.

I sanded it down, then primed and painted it. It's got three coats of paint, and is still going to need a few more. From black to cream is not an easy transition.

I'm also feeling indecisive on something and would appreciate some input. I couldn't decide if I wanted it to be white or cream, so I went with a cream. However, I'm still thinking that white might have been the way to go.

I have a jar of pearlescent white paint. I was thinking of painting the drawer panel bit that's bumped out with it, but decided that'd too much of another form of an 80's homage. Then I thought of painting just the top of the table in the pearlescent white. That idea is sticking with me, but I torn between thinking it'd be fabulous or OTT. Keeping in mind that I'm going to try to find a crystal knob to replace the wooden one, what do you think? Should I leave it alone, or paint the top in the pearly finish?

(Behr owes me $50 for the product placement.)