Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Best Part About Leaving...

Before I checked out of the hotel this morning I went for a run from the zombies and was outpaced by some guy wearing jeans who looked older than I was. And no, his legs weren't longer than mine. Clearly I am going to be zombie food when they break free.
Lunch at Dennys in Coalinga (aka, Coaling Station A): I talked to my waitress only once, when she asked if everything was okay halfway through the meal. The guy who seated me took my order and brought the food and silverware. I've noticed a pattern over the years -- the week between Christmas and New Year's is a little iffy at that restaurant. The often don't have half the menu, and the waitstaff seems to be hiding from the customers (probably because they don't have any food). And yet I still eat there because every time I've tried someplace else it's been worse. Maybe next year I'll just grab a big bag of chips at the gas station and call it good.

Anyhow, I made it back in pretty good time and the cats and the birds were happy to see me. The dog gets another two days at camp, but I'm sure she'll be happy to see me as well. She's pretty easy to please.

Here's one last picture for the year. Obviously I haven't quite fixed the whole lighting problem, but I promise there's a cat in this picture. And possibly a panda. I don't know.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


I'm pretty style-deficient. The woman designing my remodel would definitely agree. So I find it interesting that all of these different textures and patterns can be successfully combined in one room. I wish that part of my brain worked better...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Things She Carried

Vacation essentials in modern times...

Monday, December 28, 2015

Survival Gear

After three days around my family...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

It Wasn't Me

I swear the step was like this before I got here. The cookies I ate had nothing to do with it...

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Look Up!

Some random things near or on the ceiling in my room...

Sure, it looks like an electrical socket that they put a cover over... Maybe because they realized that it was three inches from the ceiling. Probably really convenient for the tall freaks people, but not ADA compliant.

And then there's this thing next to one of the sprinklers. How many smoke alarms have they installed and removed in this room?

Finally, we have the current smoke alarm.I know it's active not because I've set it off (yet), but because there's a bright green light that flashes twice about once every five seconds. Not really something you notice during the day, but if it's dark, like say... you're trying to sleep or something...
So there you have it. Random things on or near the ceiling. And for the record, trying to update the blog from an iPad is pretty annoying. So if all you get each day for the rest of the month is one picture with no text, you now know why.

Friday, December 25, 2015


This is why it's so hard to pack...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve Cookies

The little dog was so excited to get in the car, even after watching me pack a bunch of food and treats for her. She seems to lack the logic to put it all together even though she's stayed at the hospital multiple times in the last few years. She remained convinced that we were going to agility right up until I handed her leash off to the kennel helper. Oh well. I'm sure she got over it in ten minutes or less and was running gang initiations before I'd made it back home.

I made my favorite cookies-that-I-burn-pretty-much-every-time today. I can either blame the person who made them, or the photographer, but either way... it's not really what they're supposed to look like.

In trying to make sure I didn't burn them I think I undercooked them a bit. They're a bit gooey. Still, they taste alright.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

If You Value Your Life... Stay Away From Midsomer

Lately I've been watching "Midsomer Murders" -- it's a pretty standard British countryside procedural. There are only a few episodes per season, but there are something like thirteen seasons so it's lasting quite a while.

For the most part the writing is reasonably good, but every once in a while they fall into the mystery trap of "have all the suspects get bumped off one after the other until you arrest the only one left". Can you imagine what would happen if it were like that in real life? Not to mention the fact that there is apparently a horrific violent crime wave happening in one specific county. In real life all of these people would be fired. Still, the countryside is nice and they show some really beautiful gardens.

Pictures of the day --

This makes Crow look fatter than she actually is...
 Scooter... you have to love those whiskers...
Taking pictures of the black cat is more challenging...

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Someday I Shall Aim For Merely Pathetic!

I've switched from the Elph to the iPod Touch, so I was able to take a lot more photos and transfer them more easily. That led to a couple of relatively good photos...

My new t-shirt (woohoo!) -- okay, this one isn't such a great photo, but I had to show it off anyhow...
Guido wasn't that impressed with the shirt:

The fluffiness of Scooter:

Crow just hanging out all casual-like:

It also led to some awesome (as in, what the heck is that supposed to be?) outtakes...

Gah, stop moving around!

What a lovely leg you have Guido...

Yes, missed again:

Scooter wasn't a fan of the light:

And I still wasn't a fan of aiming in the right direction:

 And then... Is this my finger over the lens? I think it must be.

Clearly I'm getting better!

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Picture Perfect Evening

On my quest for picture perfection this evening...

The pink elephant in the box gained a friend. (Ripley's quite a good looking cat although you'd never know it from this picture.)

Heaven's most depressed angel:

And this place opened at the end of the street a few months ago. Looks totally legit to me!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ansel Adams In Training

I think I've mentioned that the little dog doesn't play with dog toys. In fact, none of my dogs have every played with dog toys.

The cats, on the other hand, play with all sorts of things. They have two different stuffed pink elephants that they like to drag around the house. I got a new electric blanked, so naturally the box is a great toy by itself, and this is what I came home to this evening:

I've been thinking that I really ought to start putting more pictures on my blog, so that's my new year's self-suggestion (because it's not really a resolution). I know I suck as a photographer, but maybe if I take enough pictures I can get better. Here's the starting point -- and remember, this is a dog that most people say "she's so cute!" when they first see her...

Try#1: (I don't even know what's going on with her feet. Also, my arm is there to keep her from running away.)

Try #2:

Try #3: (This is not the look of cute...)
So really, I can only get better.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Just Speak English, Dammit!

So I was making this recipe (Sweet Potato and Lentil Pie) and everything seemed to be fairly normal aside from calling a sweet potato a kumara and describing the thing as a flan (which I've never heard used for anything other than dessert), but then I got to the last ingredient, which is
  • 1/2 cup cheese, tasty grated
Now... I don't know about you, but I think almost all cheese is pretty darn tasty. I mean, sure, you've got your nasty soft cheeses (brie and blue cheese, I'm looking at you!), but nobody cooks with those.  For cooking, though, there's a world of difference between something like Swiss and feta. (However, there's absolutely no difference between Gruy√®re and Swiss aside from price, and nobody can convince me otherwise...)

It was such an odd thing that I finally googled it and found out that "tasty" is what they call cheddar in Australia and New Zealand. That's just crazy. It's just begging for a "who's on first" type skit.

So there you go. Maybe you, too, are wiser at the end of this day.

Friday, December 18, 2015


In tonight's episode of Running with the Zombies, fiction was on par with truth. The "plot" of the run was that the runner was doing the training workout near a chained up zombie in order to determine how the zombie reacted to different movements. Because... science!

In the best practices of experimental science everywhere (foreshadowed by three disclaimers that of course the zombie was secured well enough!), the zombie got loose and gave chase. There was, naturally, no backup containment feature. OSHA would not approve! No wonder these people lose their staff to the zombies on a regular basis.

Anyhow, I survived and also didn't step in the two inches of cold water sitting at the bottom of the handicap ramp, so win-win.

In slightly more relevant news, I called my petsitter today and the little dog made it to the top of the waiting list for boarding, so Christmas vacation is back on. I am now free to join the hordes of people snarling up traffic in Los Angeles. It's enough to make me giggle (like a crazy person who stopped taking their meds).

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Keeping the Pro In Procrastination

The lumpy Tofurky gravy that got shoved to the back of the refrigerator has gone bad which means it must be almost Christmas. As usual, I'm completely unprepared.
  • Once again I forgot to call my petsitter (for the cats and birds) today.
  • My dog is still on the waiting list for boarding during the holidays. If she doesn't make it in, I'll have to take her with me which is less than ideal because she 
    • doesn't like strangers, 
    • really doesn't like men (but really, who does?),
    • detests children (again...),
    • hates being outside by herself (and I can't blame her).
  • I probably should get my oil changed and the tires checked and all that stuff before driving a few hundred miles.
I also forgot to call the hotline to have the city inspector come out and sign off on the furnace, which means it will have to wait until next week, which probably means it will have to wait until the new year, which really means that I'll eventually forget about it completely.

I think I need a personal assistant.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's Alive!

Good news! I am not dead in a ditch someplace, and zombies are not feasting on my corpse. The week three run synopsis lied. It was really one minute run - one minute walk cycles with a couple of longer "free-form runs" which means you can walk or run as you see fit. I see fit to walk a lot during those.

One of the hazards of running at night is the increased probability of tripping. The route I run is somewhat boring, but it means I don't have to cross any roads and for the most part the sidewalk is level and reasonably well-lighted. However, there are a couple of driveways and one handicap ramp that I have to be careful on. Also, the bottom of the handicap ramp is below gutter level and holds about two inches of cold water -- I found this out the last time it rained.

The nice thing about running at night, though, is that there is pretty much nobody out to see you doing strange things like running for fifteen seconds and then stopping to do heel lifts, or running for one minute and then jogging in place lifting your knees up as high as you can. And if you do trip and fall on your face (which I did a couple of years ago) you don't have to immediately jump up and pretend that nothing happened. Darkness means your dignity remains intact.

Anyhow, if you see someone running for short periods of time and doing strange exercises immediately afterward, it's probably safe to assume that they are listening to the "Zombies, Run!" app. If you're feeling particularly mean, sneak up behind them and moan like a zombie.

And then run away. Chances are good that you'll be able to run longer than they can...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Do Zombies Dream Of Cephalic Peeps?

Agility tonight -- the little dog was awesome.

As much as I'd like to say it was because I was on top of my game and gave her the right signals at exactly the right time... the truth is that I switched treats and she was really into the weird greasy meat tater tots, or whatever they were. She only went running off to do her own thing once, and even then she came back after fifteen seconds.

In other news, tomorrow starts week three of the "Zombies, Run!" 5k training app. Up until this point it's been reasonable easy because
  • Week 1: Repetitions of 15 seconds of running followed by 1 minute of walking
  • Week 2: Repetitions of 30 seconds of running followed by 1 minute of walking
Now suddenly on week three, it's five minutes of running. This could be a problem. I mean, I'm pretty sure I could do one minute of running, but five? What kind of logical progression is this?

So yeah, tomorrow night I'll probably be dead in a ditch someplace. And the zombies will be feasting on my corpse. Or I'll be a zombie. I don't quite understand how it's supposed to work from an energy standpoint -- if everyone who gets killed by a zombie turns into a zombie, what is powering the zombies? Is the universe suddenly allowing perpetual motion machines? (In case it's not clear, I came home from agility and opened a bottle of cider.)

Well, now I've brought logic into it. Clearly that's a mistake.

Right. Well, if I survive tomorrow's run, I'll let you know how it went...

Monday, December 14, 2015

You Can Just Take Your Jingle And Shove It!

I'm just going to say it. I hate Christmas music.

The main reason is the obvious -- musically speaking, most Christmas music is complete and utter crap. The tunes are boring, the subject is repetitive, and the arrangements are probably the real reason for the rise in adult onset diabetes. Once you add in third rate singers trying to restart their floundering careers by releasing a holiday album, it's just a melange of crap. A veritable Musischescheissesuppen, to coin and mangle a German word at the same time. (No, I didn't bother to look any of it up, so I'm guessing that I managed to get all three parts of that word wrong, but what do you want after twenty-five years?)

The fact that I live on the street where the middle school relearns the same arrangement of tunes for the holiday parade every single year does not help. And hey, nothing says "peace, love, and joy to the world" like poorly performed Christmas tunes set to a martial drum.

It also does not help that every business feels obligated to play Christmas tunes the minute the Thanksgiving turkey is off the shelves. And that's if you're lucky. I heard Alvin and the Chipmunks doing Jingle Bell Rock in October. This year has been slightly better merely because I have achieved 80% of my goal of becoming a shut-in, so I've managed to avoid most of it.

Anyhow, my grass-roots campaign to have one day a week declared "Christmas-Music-Free" is off to a slow start (possibly owing to the 80% shut-in goal). I thought the problem might be that it needed a catchier name, so I asked around. Dale had the winning entry with "Anti-Christ Afternoon" which wasn't quite what I was aiming for, but does prove yet again that my friends are much funnier than I will ever be.

So there you have it. Bah humbug!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Great Bags Of Fire!

Well, tonight was supposed to be the neighborhood luminary night. Once a year we all get together and line the sidewalks with white paper bags with candles. It's very pretty, especially when the whole street participates, and people go out and stroll through the neighborhood. It raises some money for the local food pantry and brings us all together.

This evening was windy. Really windy. I'm going to assume that the wind strength was different at the house of the person who had the final word on whether to go ahead or hold off for another week, because otherwise that person is just a lunatic. In any case, word came down that it was a go.

My neighbors and I looked at each other and shrugged and then bent into the wind to put out the bags and light the candles. I know I was making "To Build A Fire" jokes the other day, but have you ever tried to light a candle in gusty winds? My neighbors lit theirs (in the bags) inside the house and carefully brought each one out. I have cats. I don't light flames inside my house.

In any case, they got half of theirs outside. I managed to get one candle lit, and while I was preparing the next one a gust of wind came and knocked the first bag over (extinguishing the candle) and lit the one next to it on fire.

Since it was supposed to be "Luminary Night" not "Flaming Bags of Terror Night" we gave up and went inside. During my run later in the evening it looked like some people managed to keep theirs lit and others gave up. Not really the moment of neighborhood togetherness we were hoping for. Oh well.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Where Should I Put This?

My brain sometimes does this thing... I have to admit right now neurology was not my favorite subject in vet school, so I have no idea what part of the brain is responsible or what this "feature" is called.

The math side of me wants to call it a lack of the transitive property, but that's not quite accurate.

The programmer in me describes it as a singly-linked list.

And the part of me that has spent way too much time accidentally memorizing lyrics calls it "You can't get there from here." Now that I think about it, that's from an REM song, and the name of the band has something to do with the brain so it all works.

Let me describe the phenomenon I'm referring to by giving an example. A few years ago I decided to make banana bread, and while I was buying ingredients in the store I was trying to remember if I had a loaf pan. I finally decided that I didn't, so I bought one. I made the banana bread, then washed the pan. When it came time to put it away, I thought "Where should I put this?" And then my brain responded "Why not put it in the same place as the other loaf pan?" Because yes, I already owned a loaf pan. And I knew this. Sort of.

Today I made chocolate almond cookies again. The last time I made them I searched all over for powdered sugar, and finally decided that I didn't have any so I just used regular granulated sugar for the meringue topping. (It turned out just fine -- it had little sparkles in it!) But today when I was grabbing something from the top of the refrigerator I realized there was an unopened box of powdered sugar. So I opened the box and used it. And then it came time to put it away and I thought "I should put it in the right lower side of the fridge next to the other box of powdered sugar."

It turns out sometimes I know things. I just have to ask the right questions...

Friday, December 11, 2015

Feeling A Little Tropical

The new furnace is in (yay!) which is good because even though it hasn't been that cold here, it's harder to get out of bed in the morning when it's less than sixty degrees in the house.

They showed up with the crane at 7:30 in the morning and of course there was no parking in front of the house, so they had to track down the owner of one of the cars and ask them to move it. A few hundred frantic barks from Ginger later I was the proud owner of a new furnace.

Then they had to pressure-test the ducts in the house which meant they had to have access to every room, so I couldn't have the cats all rounded up in one place before they came in. I had one of the guys do the cat room first so I could get them all in there and not have to worry about the front door being left open. Getting all four cats in their safe room when I'm the only one in the house takes about thirty seconds. When there are three other people with ladders dropping tools and calling out to each other around the house... it takes significantly longer. Crow, of course, showed up the minute I shook the bag of treats. Crow is a cat after my own heart.

Anyhow it's nice and toasty in here now, and there haven't been any moose swan songs so I think it's all good.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day Had Dawned Cold And Gray...

Only twelve more hours until they start installing the new furnace and I have heat again. Actually less than that -- they're supposed to show up at the ungodly time of 8am. What is it about people who do physical labor that they feel the need to be up and about before it's light outside? They're trying to kill me.

Speaking of murderous intent, the cats knocked a open box of truffles onto the floor for the dog. Had the dog actually eaten the remainder of the box... eh, she probably still would have been okay. I only saw one dog on emergency that had eaten enough chocolate to really worry me, and that was a five pound chihuahua that had jumped on the table and scarfed down half its body weight in "death by chocolate" (oh, the irony!) cake. And even then I was never sure if the trembling was because of the chocolate or if it was one of those little dogs that constantly shivers. (I hospitalized it and treated it and it was fine in the morning. One of my patients lived!)

So, yeah, my dog took so long to decide whether she wanted to eat the strange things on the floor that I was able to keep her from eating any of them although I did have to throw them out because she'd slobbered on them. The cats are going to have to try harder to kill her off if they want to see results.

So, yes, I should have heat by this time tomorrow. Not that we're exactly in "To Build A Fire" territory right now anyhow. I mean, no, I probably couldn't build a fire, but not because I'm shivering, but because I've never been able to build a decent fire in my life. That's why I have central heating.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Four Cat Night

Well, yesterday's dying moose is actually dead. The repair guy said the gas valve isn't closing all the way, which means there's always something burning. He wasn't completely sure that was the entire problem, but my AC/heater is really old, they don't make the valves any more, and while he might be able to find a used one, that wouldn't fix all the other stuff wrong with it. Since everyone who has looked at the unit in the last five years has advised me to replace it as soon as possible, I decided to just get it over with. The new heater/AC is going to (maybe) be installed on Friday. He said they were even going to file a permit with the city, but that's only because they'll have to park a crane in front of the house so it's not like they can just sneak the whole thing in.

I told my neighbors about this and found out they had been trying to figure out where that sound was coming from. We had a good laugh. See -- my disintegrating house is bringing the neighborhood together!

Anyhow, because of the valve issue, the repair guy thought it wasn't safe to leave on, so now I have no heat.  If I lived somewhere it got really cold that might be a problem, but I think I can make it through the 53 degree low tonight without frostbite. I suspect it might be a four cat night.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Home Ownership Blues (and Purples!)

Agility tonight with the new dog from the intermediate class -- I was expecting Ginger and Trinket to be horrible to the new dog and they didn't disappoint. Trinket's owner refers to them as the "mean girls". I guess that's better than going with the slightly more accurate "assholes". Oh well. At some point I'll be able to claim that Ginger's just a crotchety old dog. She's already ten -- maybe in a couple years that excuse will work?

But today's post is about home ownership. It definitely has its upsides because nobody in the entire world would rent a house to me and all my animals, plus I can paint my bedroom purple and there are no consequences other than my designer's smile getting a little tight around the edges.

However, it also means that when something goes wrong I have to deal with it, and that's always just a complete pain in the butt. Right now, for instance, the blower on my heater keeps coming on at random times when the thermostat says it shouldn't, just for a few seconds, and then cuts out again. Other than that, it's working just fine. It's probably some sensor connected to the blower that needs to be replaced, but the damn thing is on the roof and I don't do heights, so it doesn't really matter if it's something I could theoretically fix myself.

I could, of course, ignore the problem except that when it turns on like that it's sucking against a vacuum, so the whole furnace vibrates and it sounds like a dying moose. A loud dying moose. (No, I haven't ever actually heard a moose die before. We didn't treat them during my residency. But if we had seen them, it almost certainly would have died on me just like everything else...) Once a day I could deal with. Every five minutes when I'm trying to go to sleep, not so much. My neighbors probably aren't too thrilled about the sound either. The repair guy is supposed to come by... tomorrow? He was a little noncommittal.

Speaking of my designer -- for the most part she tries really hard to come up with things that I like and that look good. We were talking about getting some sort of art to put on the bathroom wall, and I pointed out that everything I have on my walls is something I or someone in my family has made. Some of it is, um, not so professional looking (eg, the oompa loompa portrait on the side of this website), but I like it all because it means something to me.

So she listened to me talk about this, and I showed her a few things, and then she finally suggested that I look for something on Etsy. I think I laughed for about ten minutes after she left. I mean, I really do feel sorry for her -- how do you handle a client like me with obviously deficient taste while still being polite?

Whatever. I've decided to make a mosaic for the bathroom wall. I mean, really, how hard can it be?

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Players In Agility

Tomorrow starts a new half-session of agility during which I will gradually become more agile as I run after my damn dog who ignores everything I say, harrumph. (Yes, we're back in the slump part of the cycle. I just have to keep reminding myself that she really is having a good time...)

There have been four dogs in the "advanced" class for the past few months, but for the next three weeks the intermediate class will be combined with ours since only one person in that class is in town. This will give Ginger a chance to show off her excellent on-leash social skills with the new dog by which I mean she will prove that five years of constant training have pretty much done nothing and she will continue to act like a crazed piranha.

Anyhow, Ginger has a soulmate in the class -- Trinket is a Rat Terrier who exhibits the same bad little dog attitude. Ginger and Trinket sort of tolerate each other -- I think it's a case of flirting through bad behavior.

Of the other two dogs, one is a gigantic service dog who I will call The Big Guy since I don't know how to spell his real name and his shoulder is at my hip height. I run the course with TBG (whose owner is in a wheelchair) which is a nice change from Ginger because TBG actually pays attention. In some ways he makes me look good because he's really smart and usually has most of the course memorized just by watching the other dogs go through it. On the other hand, if The Big Guy doesn't do the right thing, it's nearly always because I screwed it up. The one exception to this is when he stops and walks around the jumps while looking me in the eye with the clear message that whatever treat I gave him last just wasn't good enough. (I mentioned he's smart, but did I also mention how manipulative this dog is? I really, really have to watch what I'm doing or I'm in trouble.)

Ginger tries to pull her "I'm a little land shark, short and stout" song with The Big Guy, but TBG just can't even be bothered to notice so she soon gives up.

The final dog in the class is a Labrador that I'll call Bambie because I can never remember her name. (I swear this is the only dog/owner pair where I remember the owner's name more often than the dog's.) Bambie is a really nice dog. Not much of an athlete -- she'll usually knock down at least one or two jumps during the course -- but really wants to please.

Sadly, Ginger has terrorized Bambie so much in the last six months (from a distance) that Bambie sees Ginger and gets behind her owner's legs. It's sad.

So, yeah, my dog is that kid in kindergarten that none of the other parents want their kids to be friends with. I guess I would expect nothing less.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

How Much Is That Puppy In The Yard Next Door?

You know what's way better than knowing someone with a small child you can play with for a little while and then send home? Having next door neighbors with a puppy, specifically the cute mini Australian Shepherd shown here.

Cooper came over to our yard today and spent about an hour trying to annoy Ginger into playing with him while I raked leaves out front. I finally decided to take pity on Ginger and go back to play with them both. It was completely selfless, I assure you.

First Cooper and I played fetch with an apple (because I have no dog toys because none of my dogs have ever played with toys). Then Cooper and Ginger chased each other around for a while because Ginger actually will play as long as I'm there watching. Then Cooper found out how much fun it was to leap around in the ivy. And then I put a leash on the puppy and we went inside just to check out how it would be if he ever needed to spend time with us.

Cooper thought the house was great, mostly because of all the cat toys that are strewn around the place. He had something in his mouth (a ball with a rattle, a little donkey, and a pink elephant) the entire tour. The cats were a little bent out of shape, but mostly they just sat on the counter and looked at him. Crow hissed and Cooper backed up a few feet and looked away, so I'm pretty sure he's had dealings with cats out at the barn. Ginger didn't really care about having another dog in the house because she just wanted her dinner, dammit.

And then I took the tired, muddy puppy next door and gave him back.

It's the perfect system.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Zombies, Wait For Me!

True sentence: I'd like to be out running from zombies, but instead I am stuck inside waiting for a football game to end.

In the meantime, here is a picture of Scooter, reading my email. I think he might need reading glasses.

I keep telling him to move back a bit because that's not an ergonomic position, but he always ignores me.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Can I Plead Insanity?

You know how they say don't go grocery shopping when you're hungry? I have a new rule: Don't go grocery shopping when you're irritated. (People who know me well might start worrying that I'll starve to death if I take this rule seriously, but... there's always pizza delivery.)

So I was a little annoyed tonight that I have to work again tomorrow, thus missing not one but two social engagements which literally is about 40% of my socializing for the year. And I mean the old-school definition of literally there.

But I ate dinner. And I made a list. I put down all the ingredients for this winter root vegetable and lentil stew. Then while I was driving there I was thinking about Jenipurr's cheddar potato soup, or at least what I could remember from when I saw the recipe a few days ago. Plus I could make pizza.

In the store, I thought "I should make a batch of the almond-chocolate cookies for the party tomorrow", and I refused to admit to myself that not only will I be unable to go to the party, I won't have time to make something that requires over an hour to bake, so I got almonds, chocolate, and eggs. Two aisles later I relented on the impossibility of baking time and bought both white fudge covered Oreos (for the first party that I won't be able to make it to) and peppermint truffles (for the second party that I won't be able to make it to).

I should have really just checked out and left when I added the vegetarian marshmallows to my cart not because I needed or even wanted marshmallows, but because I wanted them to continue stocking things like that.

And I probably should have just abandoned the cart and run out of the store when I added a quart of eggnog to my supplies. I don't even like eggnog. Clearly at this point I had just gone insane and was trying to buy a holiday that wasn't going to happen.

I was almost to the registers when I remembered that I was going to try to make something with butternut squash, Parmesan cheese, walnuts, and won ton wrappers, so I got those too.

Anyhow, all this is to explain why my bill was twice what it normally is and I have enough food to feed about ten people which is a bit of a problem because I live alone.

But at least I bought three different kinds of cider. Somehow I think I'll be needing it...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Novel Poetry

The Sacramento NaNoWriMo region has a tradition of the Thank God It's Over (TGIO) party, a chance for anyone still alive to come together and celebrate the fact that you now have eleven months to catch up on sleep and maybe dial back the caffeine tolerance just a tad.

During the party everyone is given the chance to read a haiku or limerick about their novel. Most of them are pretty darn funny. This year I had planned to go to both the Sacramento and Yolo regions' TGIO parties, but it turns out that I may have to miss both of them and work instead (because football sucks and the 49ers suck and the Super Bowl sucks and I need a job where nobody is even allowed to mention sports and... [deep breaths]). What was I saying? Oh yes, I was saying that I might not make it to the party.

So, given that, I've decided to release my poetry about my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel to the world a little early. (And right now I'm laughing because I accidentally typed NoNoWriMo, which sounds like a completely different thing.)

Names, or writing while tired:
There once was a book about Chloe,
In some chapters also called Zoe,
But why have one name
When these two sound the same?
Consistency? Ha, you don't know me!

So drama my book should not lack,
Two people end up in the sack,
My mom may not read
What I wrote in this screed
Despite the too-quick fade to black.

When the outline isn't quite enough:
Four thousand words still left to go
But the plot was all finished and so
My muse, she just sang,
Explosions went bang!
Michael Bay taught me well don't you know?

So there you have it. I was going to say that the novel is better than the poetry, but at this stage they're about equal...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Secret Cat Scrolls

I walked in on the cats behaving more suspiciously than usual (*) and I caught a whiff of smoke from the fireplace. After they had all scattered, I found this incompletely burned paper among the embers.

(Click to make it bigger)

A close-up of part of it:

I'd always suspected such a document, showing the need to jump on me before getting off the bed no matter where the cat was in relation to the door, existed and now I have proof. (I also have proof that my cats can't draw worth a damn, but let's not get side-tracked.)

There was also a note attached that read "In case of no further movement, after two minutes return to battle positions."

This explains so much...

* -- No, I don't know what that means either...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Exercise Indulgences

You might not know this, but I was brought up in a church-going style. Mostly this has left me with a fear of being trapped in an uncomfortable seat listening to some old guy speak, a dislike of choirs where the sopranos outnumber all the other parts by a factor of five to one and are trying to compete to see who can sing the loudest, and an absolute love of sleeping in on Sundays. However, it did also provide me with some useless Catholic trivia.

Did you know that the Catholic Church used to sell indulgences? Apparently if you had money, there was no need to schedule a confession at the last possible moment in order to get into heaven. You could just pay the Church a bunch of money and alakazam! Your soul is shriven and through the eye of the needle you go! We have something similar in the secular court system, but nowadays you have to hire an expensive attorney and at least pretend to be humble while the judge is looking.

Anyhow, the point of this isn't to prove that 1/7th of my childhood wasn't wasted. And it isn't even to have an excuse to bring up my mother's relative who had an elaborate plan to live a sinful life without the benefit of church then confess everything on his deathbed, a plan that was thwarted when his devout (or possibly malicious) wife wouldn't let the priest in the house at the last minute. (It is an awesome story, though, so it deserves to be mentioned.)

No, the point here is to acknowledge that subconsciously I believe that fitness ought to work the same way.

I hate exercising, and it shows. Sometimes I'm not upset when my dog refuses to go to the right obstacle during a long agility run because it gives me an excuse to stand there and catch my breath. But every once in a while I realize that I really ought to be in better shape. So I go buy something. Running shoes, an exercise bicycle, an elliptical machine -- if fitness was a function of money spent, I'd be able to run a marathon.

Sadly, exercise indulgences have also been a big failure.

But... this time is going to be different!

This time I have running shoes and an iPod Touch that has an app on it to make me feel that zombies are chasing me! That will make all the difference!

Or at least it should...

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Should I Make A G-Rated Version As Well?

Woohoo, time for a little happy dance!

I'm not completely sure my mom is allowed to read this one...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It's Done!

Another note from my general contractor: "You'll need to replace your electrical panel the next time you do anything else. It's maxed out. Oh, and one of the breakers is arcing a little bit."

Then he told me he would make sure that all of my smoke detectors are in working order.

Anyhow, it's all done aside from the final inspection tomorrow. I took my first shower in there this morning and I might have to replace my water heater with a tankless version so I can spend the rest of my life in the shower without worrying that the hot water will run out.

First the bedroom ceiling -- this used to be a big hole:

The sink, with me doing my best not to end up in the picture:
Another picture looking into the bathroom from the bedroom. The shower is to the left of the sink:
 And the shower, with complimentary cat butt in the shot:
Another picture of the shower, again with Ripley:

Right. So it turns out that photographing a bathroom well is beyond my skill set. You'll just have to take my word for it that it turned out very nicely.