Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Catching up

Have you ever noticed that after a trip it seems to take WEEKS to get back into a routine? Im playing catch up all over the place today. Work is about the only thing on schedule! The good news is that part of my catch up is with an old high school buddy I haven't spoken to in 12 years. We're currently having a gabfest on instant messenger and its so good to hear from her!

Other catch ups... Im behind on the blog, missed at least 3 posts last week that I MEANT to make, we're behind on the kitchen renovation, behind on the cleaning, behind on the laundry, and the dishes, and my reading....

Feels like Im behind everything. Back to playing catch up... and hopefully I'll hit a burst of speed and get back in front of the pack soon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Jersey, armpit of the world....

I can tell Ive been delinquent in posting lately, when my readers have no clue where or why I am where I am. To remedy:

I work as a field employee for a company based in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. My managing editor, who also happens to be a personal friend, has been trying to figure out a good time for me to come into the office for training that can't be accomplished long distance. For many reasons, that occurrence has not taken place until this week. Last Thursday, he was able to figure out how/when/where on the booking travel issues and as of Sunday I was here. Although both of my sisters live in the general area, the commute to the New Jersey office from their homes is 2.5+ hours in traffic EACH WAY, so I am staying in a hotel near the office where I can be picked up and dropped off each day with minimal gnashing of teeth. I'll be heading to the city for the weekend, spending a couple of nights with each sis and attending the dedication of my nephew, Jacob, at church on Sabbath.

Its very different being in New Jersey instead of New York/Connecticut and even more weird feeling to be back in an office atmosphere after over 2 years of working "from home". I find myself both more and LESS productive -- more productive because I dont have the mail coming in, the doorbell ringing, the cats attacking crickets, the hubband home from class occasionally, etc. but less productive at times because unless I close the office door I find myself tuning into all the conversations in the corridors and staring at fly spots on the wall. I have automatically closed the office door upon my arrival this am. So far so good.

The hotel is pretty nice... it was recently renovated and so far my only complaint about the actual hotel location/amenities is that last night around 1 am some sort of building/car alarm was set off and continued noisily blaring its message of disturbance until almost 4. Beyond that... I actually slept much better last night. The first night, probably due to a combination of no Hubband, strange room, coffee on the plane, and tension, I only slept for about 3 hours. Coming to my first day at the office with bloodshot eyes and black bags under my eyes wasn't in the plan!

Tomorrow I have a meeting with the department head, which should be interesting. Ive actually never met her in person so it will be nice to finally put a face to the name.

Its funny that Hubband and I are both feeling this separation so much... you'd think after 7 months of deployment and umpteen weeks in a row of work ups while in the Navy we'd be used to it. We function fine. We even have fun. But it feels like something is missing and we're both just chomping at the bit to be back together. He sent me a picture of the kitties on my phone last night saying "Mommy we miss you". VERY cute. Its nice to be here, but Sunday's homecoming will be fun. Also... this gives us the opportunity to experience the "other side" of separation since usually it has been HIM leaving and me keeping the home fires burning. :-)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Insights and Eavesdroppings

My trip to New Jersey was an uneventful yet extremely interesting one. Hubband was able to get a couple of hours free from the restaurant and take me to the airport, where we had dinner together before he had to head back to work. While grabbing our dinner, I overheard (I was in the middle of it all at the table where we were eating, and poor Hubband actually had to dodge the attacking woman at one point while he waited for our order) a fight between two middle-aged women. One of them, apparently, had decided that the other one had "gotten her own way" for the entire vacation and that it had been "ruined" as a result. She stomped around the restaurant, insulting her one-time friend (who seemed very bewildered), embarrassing her husband (who tried to smooth things over with their friends and calm her down), and finally ended by announcing at the top of her lungs that she "wouldn't do it anymore" and didn't "want to see your face anymore". She even went so far as to say "Im done with you", while drawing the lapels of her "Fort _____, Wyoming" jean jacket snugly around her neck. Her husband looked even more sheepish and tried to talk to her, sending deprecating glances to everyone in the restaurant, but she would have none of it, slamming the items around in her carry-on. By this time, her friend and the friend's husband had gathered their own belongings and departed to wait for their flight. We were relieved when the husband finally shooed her out of the area.

Hubband and I finished our own meal, said our goodbyes, did a little discreet snuzzling in farewell and I went through security (in front of a girl who carried on at least 5 loud conversations on her cell phone while also talking to her traveling companion... all of the above were regarding the romantic lives of "Christine" "Stu" and I think "Holly"... apparently Christine and Stu had dated, but he was now dating Holly, who was Christine's friend... well, you get the idea -- also behind a woman who was obviously ready for own child, talking incessantly to the baby of the girl in line behind her and flashing her engagement ring excitedly while proclaiming that by "March" she would be married! She was 38! She wanted babies! The whole line knew about it!>grin<).

After collecting a bottle of water and heaving a couple of sighs over the absence of Hubband (its amazing how quickly we have readjusted to having each other everywhere... neither of us slept well last night, either...the first time we've slept apart in months), I wandered to my gate and found... the 2 middle aged ladies again. This time, the hurt was snuffling quietly into a napkin while her husband patted her leg and looked helpless. The Noisy and Immature one (good grief, at her age she should have learned either to speak up about her own wishes or at least accept the choice of a group with some small measure of GRACE) was still slamming around the items in her handbag, complaining to her long-suffering husband, and generally giving off an air of Injured Party that was completely unbelievable. I have to say, perhaps the other friend really did take charge, but I still was thouroughly disgusted by the Immature one's behaviour and attitude.

After all that, our flight arrived in Newark about 50 minutes early, but surprisingly found a gate immediately. I collected my suitcase and waded through the hawkers at the entrance until I reached the taxi stand. One man tried to convince me I was going to pay 65 dollars in the cab to reach my destination and he'd take me in his "nicer" car for the same price!!! Knowing that from LGA and JFK those "great rates" are lies for the unsuspecting tourist, I declined and got a cab (total: $54). Of course, my cabbie promptly got lost in the wilds of New Jersey and it took over an hour to get to my hotel.

Now, after a mostly sleepless night (no hubband, strange bed, strange noises...), Im editing pediatrics and reflecting on strange it has been to come "home" from "home" and to be staying in a hotel while Im here....

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Day of Rest

Im lounging until Hubband wakes up. Sprawled out on the couch in my robe and nighty with cat accessories (one at my head and the other squished into a couch pillow). We're taking a "Home Sabbath" today....

Im being shipped off to New Jersey tomorrow afternoon for a week of work, a weekend of family, and probably at least 1 evening of friends. What with the need to do laundry, pack, etc. We decided we'd rest at home today, do a nice bike ride or something this afternoon in the sunshine, and then go to bed early and get up refreshed to prepare for the trip. Hubband has been threatening to kidnap me somewhere tomorrow afternoon so I'll conveniently miss my plane. :-) This is our first separation of any length since he got home from Cruise. It is "only" a week, but feels longer somehow.

I logged in ready to be eloquent and tell at least a few of the Interesting Incidents of the Past Week, but I find that Ive run out of "oomph" as my mother would say. Instead of thinking back over the week's happenings, Im staring out the window at the leaves and dreaming of coffee and waffles. I think I'll go make them... and then sit on my front step and breathe in Fall.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tip of the Week...

This week I have been putting together a calendar full of tips and facts so I'll just share one of those for the tip today...

A "blue moon" is defined as the second full moon in a single calendar month -- this occurs only about once every 2.5 years.

Interestingly, this definition, while considered correct today, originated from a mistake in a publication of Sky and Telescope magazine in 1946. Previously, the definition of a "blue moon" was the third full moon in a season which contained FOUR such moons.

Interesting eh?

And just as a bonus...

Moths have no stomach.

Books for the week

Im a little late with this post... its been a crazy week! We haven't even had time to do anything more to the house because our evenings have all been filled with other things...

So, this week! Its a very short list...

Dance of the Gods (Nora Roberts) Very good... can't wait for the next in the trilogy to come out. Its due in November, as is her next in the JD Robb series. My only complaint was that the physical descriptions of the women in the Gods trilogy are VERY similar to those in the Key trilogy...But Im sure most people probably dont read Nora as avidly as I do and would never catch the similarities.

Gaudy Night (Dorothy Sayers) Haven't finished this one yet, but its a fun departure from the standard Peter Whimsey novel as this one is told from the viewpoint of Harriet Vane, a detective story writer who is friends with him.

For work, Ive been putting together a calendar of "tips and facts", so Ive also been reading a lot of World Records books and Almanacs, etc.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Clearing the Air...

Ok, I seem to have started a firestorm with the photos I posted of our renovation/demo due to a lack of pictured safety equipment. Let me clarify that we ARE taking precautions!

After pulling up the carpet and flooring and making the one small hole (pictured) in the drywall to verify our ability to move a beam, we used face masks AND safety glasses, and even went and bought new ones after we saw how quickly they "clogged" when we were working with that nasty old insulation. We also wore LONG SLEEVES and LONG PANTS and GLOVES and immediately washed any nicks and scratches with antibacterial soap. I PROMISE we're being careful! hehe.

I love that you all are worried about us, we sure know we're loved! The part we're really not looking forward to is when Hubband has to crawl under the house to work on the plumbing... we already bought him a full body tyvex suit and he has his gloves and such, but that isn't going to be fun!

In a side note... while the insulation we found is VERY old, there was a nifty little reference for us tucked into one of the walls. It was an original bag for the insulation! Nicely labeled with manufacturing date (1952) and ingredients (wool, and some sort of synthetic like polyester that I can't think of right now but is NOT asbestos). Cool, eh? We also found a Christmas package bow and label. Gotta wonder how THOSE got in the wall! Must have dropped down from the attic or something.

And so it begins....

This last week saw us receiving the financing for our kitchen, ordering the cabinets, tearing out carpet, and starting demo...

I have to say, as much as I enjoy the whole renovation process and most of the work is usually at least INTERESTING if not fun... our demo process was none of the above. Have you ever breathed 60-year-old insulation dust? Ripped out a huge piece of drywall, tripped over the one on the floor, and ended up crashing to the floor? Slammed your sledge into the drywall and have it hit a hidden double stud, bounce off the wall, and send the few tiny chips of drywall it dislodged straight into your eyes? All of those incidents happened to us in our first major day of demo. The good side? Since Friday afternoon (and with taking Friday evening and all day Sabbath off...) we have accomplished the following:

Ripped up carpet and pad
Pulled out carpet tacks, staples, and tack strips
Pulled off the crown and baseboard molding
Ripped out two sections of rotten subflooring
Removed the drywall from 3 walls
Pulled down 2.45 cabinets (the only ones we had)
Pulled drywall off an existing soffit
Removed the soffit framing and insulation
Pulled up 2 layers of linoleum
Scraped up about half of the final layer of linoleum (original to the house)
Made 3 runs to Home Depot and 2 to Lowes

Not too shabby, eh?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Two Years ago today....

Thank you for 2 wonderful years, my love. I have only grown to know you better, to love you more, and to know that our life together is better than I ever dreamed it would be.

I love you, here's to 50 more....

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tip of the Week

Dont sit in sweatpants on a microfiber couch with a laptop in your lap and then scoot forward and pick up the laptop. This results in a significant electrical charge running through your body as the static you've generated interacts with the laptop battery.

Yes. Sadly, Im speaking from experience.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What Im Reading ...

This week has been so busy, and we've been out and about so much, I didn't get as many books in...

1) Patricia (Grace Livingstone Hill): I thought I hadn't read this one yet, but by the end it was quite familiar. Still a nice Friday evening/Sabbath afternoon read.
2.Wildfire At Midnight (Mary Stewart): Again... I think I have read this before, but am not sure if it were perhaps published at some point under another title... VERY good mystery. I love MS because her heroines are always smart, flawed, stupid, etc. at all the right times.
3. Carry on, Jeeves (PG Wodehouse) Ive just discovered the Jeeves books and love them. VERY fun.

I also got Morrigans Cross and its sequel Dance of the Gods. Ive started rereading Morrigans (since I read it in the bookstore last time...). Also started reading Killjoy by Julie Garwood, then realized I'd heard it on an audio book. *giggle* I guess it has just been a "rereading" kind of week...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Disappointment in The Departed

If you plan to see The Departed, do not read this entry!

Saturday night we met up with the youth group and got TCBY, then headed to a movie. The gang wanted to see The Departed; I was so-so, didn't mind, but wasn't sure I wanted it to be the first movie I've seen in the Theater since Rhonda visited us in Oak Harbor before the move. Hubband? Was adamantly against the movie. Not only does he not generally enjoy gangster movies, he doesn't like Matt Damon, Leo DiCaprio, OR Jack Nicholson (I know, I married a freak). We decided to meet the gang for ice cream and if we couldn't change their minds about the movie we just would head home or see something else on our own. There was nothing else playing. The gang wasn't sure about anything else anyway, and AK had to get up at around 4 am so didn't want anything that started late... so we went to The Departed (Hubband: "We came to go to a movie with the gang, lets go to a movie with the gang!").

The Good: The movie was excellently written, well-directed, and the acting overall was top-notch.

The Bad: Everyone dies. It was worse than a Shakespeare tragedy, too, because not only does everyone die, the good guys die FIRST and the bad guy's death isn't any sort of closure of the case or the issue or anything, its just this sickening BANG in the head.

The Worse: Lots of blood. Lots of swearing. Lots of drugs and weird love triangles.

The Worst: The last 20 minutes of the movie. Up until then, I wouldnt' have said to anyone "go see this", but at least I wasn't feeling that it was a total waste of time and money.

Comparison movies: 3000 Miles to Graceland plus Pulp Fiction and a little Dangerous Liasons/Quills thrown in for good measure.

After the movie, everyone told us that they should have listened to us and gone to see something else. Only Hubband and one other guy liked the movie at all, and Hubband liked it only because all the actors that he dislikes died!

What a waste of a Saturday night on the town...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tip of the Week

Im going to try and give out tips every week based on what Ive read over the week, be it blog or book or periodical or work-related. They may be truly helpful, or just totally random bits of trivia that have floated through my brain (like, did you know that the flood lasted EXACTLY 5 months? It started and ended on the 17th day of the month...)

This week's tip comes to you after reading this post by Dooce. In it she mentions her disappointment in the removal several years ago of the TOSTADA from Taco Bell's menu.

My Tip:

Since the advent of the Crunchwrap Supreme, Taco Bell Tostadas are once again available. It may not appear on your local TB menu, but if you order it they will make it for you, they have never even asked me what it is or had to question the price. I think its still on the cash registers!

Eat up!

Hilarious and Horrible at the Same Time

We brought Obie home from the vet on Friday afternoon and he was NOT a happy kitty. They had been able to get his xrays accomplished fine (without the radiologist they could tell in this set IMMEDIATELY that he does have a congenital defect in the bone structure of his pelvis. We find out more tomorrow), but they did have to knock him out to do it. They let us come back and get him from "population" ourselves. It was kind of funny because he was growling and glaring at everyone until he realized it was DADDY talking to him and then he gave this plaintive little yowl and tried to stand up and get to Hubband. Well, he was still mostly drugged and couldn't walk so the poor guy kind of toppled over in the crate and Hubband had to scoop him up and carry him to his "home" crate.

We got him home and he tried to get out of his crate and talk to his sister, who immediately hissed at him, smacked him in the head, and ran away. Poor guy! He tried to take a few steps and his back end just gave out. It was kind of funny in a horrid way... it lasted all night. He'd try to walk and would be so relaxed that those weaker muscles in his back end would just give out. Hubband said he looked kind of like a jack knifing semi every time he took more than 1 step because his front end would go one way and the rest of him would just sort of swing out to the side and collapse.

Today he's doing better, and we're looking forward to finding out what our options are for treatment, as well as the "official" diagnosis. There has been talk of using him as a case study as it appears to be a syndrome that regularly appears in canines (particularly german shepherds), but not in felines! Who knows... we're just glad he's home and feeling pretty good. He spent the morning curled up on a throw pillow on the couch next to me as I worked. Tough life!

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Bookish Kind of Gal

Apparently, not everyone reads as voraciously as we do in my family, a fact which never fails to surprise me. Even at my busiest, I will devour an average of 4 books a week. If Im swamped with work and cleaning the house and keeping up the yard and running errands, there is still the 5 minutes while the coffee perks in the morning and the oatmeal is cooking, all those times you have waste in the bathroom, meal time, etc. With the coming renovation (read: building) of the kitchen, I think my reading time will shrink slightly. However, just to give you an idea... Here is what Ive read since last Friday:

1. Morrigan's Cross (Nora Roberts)
2. Wait Until Midnight (Amanda Quick)
3. Shadow Game (Christine Feehan)
4. A Busman's Holiday (Dorothy Sayers)
5. How to Kiss a Frog (dont remember who the author is)
6. White Flower (Grace Livingstone Hill)
7. The Enchanted Barn (Grace Livingstone Hill)
8. The Admiral's Bride (Suzanne Brockman)

At the library on Monday and Wednesday evenings, I also read/studied several books on writing/designing HTML templates, wandered in the history and food sections for around an hour each, and even poked my nose into gardening and comparative religions.

Its amazing to me that I had time to read all that when Ive felt completely overwhelmed with work, bills, vet visits, pet worry, remodeling research/ideas, etc.

So, what are you reading?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Neurological or Congenital?

Many of you know that our cat, Oberon (the puddle who adores coffee), has been having some difficulty with his back legs over the last couple months. These problems first became noticeable around the time of our move and began to worsen over the last few weeks that we became quite worried. I was able to get a recommendation for a vet from a friend and we made an appointment.

The Drama

First off, I ADORE this cat. I adore BOTH my cats, but Oberon (aka Boopy, Boo, Oobers, Obi-Wan Kenobi cat, Obie, etc) has a special place in my heart. Perhaps because he has such an attitude, I dunno. He's just a major love bug and cuddler and ... anyway! We have been quite worried that something HORRID was going to turn out to be wrong with him AND we had a very bad experience with our last vet, so we arrived at the office with no little amount of trepidation.

When we first spoke with the vet (who we love and adore, incidentally), it was so NOT encouraging that I ended up sobbing in the treatment room the entire time they had him in back getting his labs done.

We ended up being at the office for over 2 hours and Boo had a shot, an exam, xrays, AND blood work. The doc showed us the xrays and pointed out that, encouragingly, there were no lesions or anything that on first look was at all bad or scary. He did have some small kidney stones forming, but that's easily treated by changing his food a little. We told them about his hypothyroidism diagnosed by our old vet and they were VERY intrigued as apparently that is a rarity in felines. Knowing that the old vet had really done a number on Obie, the new one went out of her way to pet and coo at him as well as inform us every step of the way what they were doing and why.

The Diagnosis: An ongoing drama!

After all the results from all those tests came in, here is the breakdown.

1) He has an extreme form of hyperesthesia, which basically means he is hypersensitive. This is why he doesn't always like to be petted on his back and why during petting sessions he may suddenly snip at the person who had him in full blown purr just moments earlier. The hyperesthesia may be caused or worsened by whatever is causing the weakness in his back legs

2) The weakness in his legs and hindquarters could be caused by a neurological problem that would require an MRI to further isolate/diagnose.

3) His blood work came back GREAT (even his thyroid levels were RIGHT ON, which causes much curiosity on my part as to the competence of that other vet. grrrr), so that took away the worries that there WAS cancer or something hiding in his system.

4) The weakness could be caused by a problem that the radiologist found on his xrays. Our vet did not see the issue at first look, but when the radiologist looked them over at her request, it appears that Obie has either a congenital or injury-related problem with his pelvis that could be cutting off the nerves and reducing blood flow to his legs. Whether this, in combination with the neurological/hyperesthesia has all combined to make the problem worse or is the problem all by itself has yet to be determined.

Next Steps?

So, we will be dropping him off on Friday morning to be put to sleep (NOT permanently!) and have a full xray panel completed. Yesterday they gave him a shot to calm him down so they could do basic spinal films, but they will need to put him in some positions that require he be asleep so no one gets bit, scratched, broken, etc. The results of those films will tell us what direction to go next. If the pelvis truly isn't an issue, we've ruled out all but the neurological causation and could then move on to an MRI or simply trying a few different treatment options and isolate that way.

Please keep him in your prayers. We love our kitty! He is family! I'll keep ya'll updated as we know more.....

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Working on it...

Well, you are stuck with this template for a while. I don't like any of the standard blogger templates and am slowly (but surely!) working on a new one of my own(ish) design. Im going to test it out on another page, so you'll probably forget we even had the "template change" discussion by the time it changes. hehe. Oh well. Im not a designer! (said in an austrian accent, of course).

I went to the bookstore today while Hubband was at work and read a book. A whole book. I still want to buy it, but at least now Im not agonizing over the fact that its sequel comes out in 4 days and I haven't even read the first. Of course, while I was there, I found out that 3 more of my fav authors have published new works. Im now about 6 months behind on my reading! WHATEVER WILL I DO?! Back to amazon to update the wishlist and make more trips to the library and bookstore. Its the only thing a girl CAN do...

I also saw the 2007 guide to publishing is out. Its a $30 book, but has been subdivided by category now (novel, poetry, etc). It made me renew my resolve to work on my novel. I'd love to be able to finish the manuscript by this time next year. Then I could actually justify spending that $30 since I may end up selling my book out of the deal. I could probably finish a draft of it even sooner than that... if I could just get past the fear that it sucks and WRITE. Typical, isn't it?