Friday, July 1, 2011

Drawing the line...is the world black & white, or are there shades of grey?


I was involved in a conversation recently on Facebook. The topic "Monkeys found in Oregon" was an article about how researchers in Oregon found a link between a naturally occurring disease found in monkeys was linked to MS.  I did some further research on this, and discovered that the monkeys have been dying in Oregon starting in 1986 from an unknown disease.  This disease has since been identified as the monkey form of MS. Recently (in the last 5 yrs or so?) they have discovered a vaccine that prevents the monkeys from getting the disease.

To me, that is a sign of hope for the future, that a cure or vaccine will be available for humans.  Might be too late for me, but it could maybe save future people not even born yet.

Diane's post then started a conversation about whether it was right to use animals for research. One person felt it was very wrong. Using animals, is cruel, inhumane, and inexcusable. Doesn't matter that the outcome benefits future generations. It is just wrong. For her, it was very black & white.

I can understand that viewpoint.  I don't agree with it. I guess I think sometimes the ends can justify the means. I don't like to see animals hurt or tortured. I don't like to see any innocents hurt or tortured. But I also know that research can result in things that save lives. Do I value an animal's life more than a human's? The other person mentioned they valued the animal's life more than their own.  But would they value the animal more than an innocent child? where to draw the line?  My world is more grey.

M & I recently went on a bike ride organized to raise moneys for a local community park. The route went over some rural roads, through some farm land.  We past a farm house, which had a lady outside tending a flower garden in her front yard.  3 huge turkeys were walking up to the rode nearby.  We stopped to take pictures and talked with the lady.  The turkeys (2 toms and a hen) were beautiful.  The Tom's were strutting their feathers all puffed. The lady said they were very social.  That they follow them around and seem to like people.  She mentioned they had gotten the turkeys to raise and have for Thanksgiving dinner last year, then planned to have them over Christmas, then for Easter.  Finally they faced the truth that the turkeys were just pets.  They couldn't bear to eat them. She said the hen has sat on eggs, but that they take the eggs from her because they couldn't face having 20 some-odd turkeys following them around.

I could never be a farmer and raise animals to eat. M's dad W talked about having beef cattle for a period of time, but made the mistake of naming them.  Then he couldn't bear to take them to slaughter. They became pets, he did end up selling them. If I was to have cows, or pigs, or chickens or any other animal that I was trying to raise with the intent of eating their meat, I know I couldn't do it. I would get too attached. But that doesn't make me want to become a vegetarian. I still like to eat meat. See, grey.

I'm a softie when it comes to animals, and really any innocent. I don't really want to see anyone hurt. Although there have been people in my life that I wouldn't shed a tear for, and I really do think there are people that have no conscience and are pure evil.  I'm not sure I would care if they were the ones to get hurt.

I have written about our cats. They are part of the family. They were all rescue kittens.  And they have a good life. Diane mentioned about how it could be viewed very wrong that we humans try to domesticate wild things (cats) and that that could be considered just as cruel in some ways as keeping monkeys in Oregon. What about birds? People keep birds like canaries or parrots as pets. Keep them in a cage. Clip their wings so they can't fly off. Is that right? where do you draw the line?

I just don't see the world in black and white. I can't. There are so many shades of grey, I can't tell where that line is.  I think it might vary on the circumstance.  I just don't think there is any hard fast answer.

friends, family, aquaintences, or enemies?



Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. People choose their friends but can't choose their family.
Sometimes friendship bonds are tighter than family bonds.

Something happened recently that made M question who her friends are. Specifically whether someone she considered as one of her best friends was really even a friend at all. In my opinion some of what the "friend" did was a betrayal of trust, friendship, and was inexcusable. Yet the friend blew it off, no big deal. Loss of trust is a big deal. Especially when it violates ethics, almost gets M into legal trouble, with potential of losing her license, potential of screwing up her passing a security clearance for her job.
So, yeah it was a big deal. So, yeah, K you can't just forge some one's name on a legal document and then say "oops" no biggie...it was just "temporary" until the "real" document showed up.

Once someone betrays trust, then you doubt everything about that person. And I think it makes you look at all your relationships in a new light.  At least M did. She came to the conclusion she really didn't have any "real" friends.

Personally I think she has friends, same as I have friends, sometimes the friends you think are close, aren't so close, and sometimes the ones you tend to overlook are the ones that will be there for you when things get tough.

I think the old saying is true that each of us impact so many people, so many lives, in small imperceivable  ways, and we never realize it. Yet because of things we say or do, we can have great impact on others.  In a good way or a bad way.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring, has sprung... time to ride bike

Finally Spring.  Monday was a really beautiful day. Plus a special day.  26 yrs ago my daughter was born.  My favorite, of course she is my only, but she's still my favorite. This weekend was a nice weekend, although a little on the cool side. 

We went riding a week ago Sunday, (M & I) and put in about 19 miles. I did really well, kicked butt. M was worried about whether I would make it for the bike ride we have scheduled for this coming weekend (the 16th), but she had a lot more trouble than I did. I had been riding inside, with my bike up on a indoor stand, I like riding my own bike much better than riding on our excercise bike, I don't find it comfortable.  I admit though that I am bad about procrastinating riding indoors.  Call me lazy. that's really most of it.  I like riding outside, that's different.

For my daughters b'day we helped her get a new bike. A nice one. She's been working really hard at losing some weight and getting in shape.  She has started doing irish folk dancing - which is pretty cool, and a real workout, plus watching what she eats, and has lost around 25 lbs. Good for her! We spent Saturday picking up the bike, and went for a short ride, then on Sunday we met the kids (her and her boyfriend) and went for a ride near their house. We did 20 miles on one of the rail trails.  Great ride, but a little chilly.  After the ride we took them out for their birthdays (J's is 4/11, his is the 13th).  I think we all had fun. 

I'm riding pretty well, even with my knees. My knees are bad. But I can ride better than I walk.  My main problem is stopping - have to make sure my knee won't give out, that's how I broke my ankle last year. Hills are a problem. Or difficult climbing. I have to remember to shift down, and even if I do in time, if it is a tough hill, I might not make it.  I have to judge it right so if I'm not going to make it I can stop and get off and walk it.  If I push too far, I take the chance of not making it and not being able to stop, and get off without crashing and burning.  How hard can stopping be?

The rest of the week (until today) was rainy, damp, cold and miserable. Or may that was just me that was miserable. My arthritis flares up in the cold damp.  My MS feet flare up in cold damp.  Maybe you know what I mean? My feet are cold, fuzzy, and it feels like I"m walking on a balled up sock under the ball of my foot. It isn't they are numb.  I have sensation in my feet.  They just are fuzzy/tingly, whatever.  When they are bad, then you can test easily for the babinski sign.  My big toe will fly up.  When it is warmer, then my reflexes calm down at least some. I know it is the heat that effects most MS people.  But it is the cold that effects me.  Heat can actuallly help me sometimes.  Like soaking in the hot tub.  I'm glad too. As much money and effort we put in to installing it, and creating our little getaway with the two decks and fences behind the house.  I read something on Lisa's (brass and ivory) blog regarding Uhthoff's Phenomenom, and its opposite - Inverse Uhthoff's syndrome.  I think that is me.  I didn't really find any other text or information on it, but here is the link to Lisa's blog - http://www.brassandivory.org/2011/04/heat-sensitivity-and-uhthoffs.html

Today, however is a beautiful spring day.  Went outside at lunchtime without a jacket - short sleeves.  Think the temps were mid 60's. Sun shining.  I hope it will be as nice tomorrow & Saturday for our bike ride.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring? or Snow... Brrrr

Ok, for about two weeks now I wanted to write a post about spring. The weather was getting warmer, I was ready to get my bike out and thinking about riding.  Signed up again for the MS Ride - this year it is the Mason Dixon Challenge and takes place in Gettysburg July 21.  I have been riding my bike indoors, (I have a special stand for it) but that isn't the same at all. We need to get busy and ride, M & I are signed up to do a Ocean to Bay ride that takes place down in DE (Bethany/Fenwick Island) on April 16th. I'm not sure I'm up for doing 30 miles.  Actually I'm as much concerned about stopping & starting as I am riding. My left knee seems to have issues, and visions of how I broke my ankle last January keep coming back.  But I can't let that stop me.

So, we had the warm weather, even got up to close to 70 once or twice.  Really nice! But mother nature wasn't through with us.  So yesterday it dropped back down in the mid 20's to mid 30's and they predicted snow flurries over night.  We didn't seem to get them, but I did see it spitting snow this morning.  Not enough to run my windshield wipers but enough you could see it.  So we are back to damn bitter cold and I don't like it. My knee doesn't like it much either.  So I guess I'm back to riding my bike inside the house.  Or else wrapping up really well and trying to brave the wind.  Even without a wind, you still pick up quite a breeze riding.

I'm more than ready for winter to go away and spring to stay.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cat fun

I posted some video of the cats (well Sonny) playing with the red light.  Ruby has no interest what-so-ever and doesn't get what the fuss is about.  The other two, seem to enjoy playing. Sonny especially. We got the laser light in hopes that we could help Ziggy become more active. He is getting older, he will be 10 this year. And he is overweight. The vet had said not to worry too much about his weight as long as he seemed active, happy, etc. However I know that with cats, as with people, carrying too much weight is not a good thing. And we have noticed that he is starting to have trouble jumping on the bed. So, in order to help him, we have put the cats on a diet. We were using self-feeders, which is very convenient - for us, and for "piggy" to eat as much as he wanted. Ziggy is the one that has a problem with over-eating.  Ruby is if anything underweight.  Sonny is very close to ideal weight for his size.  He also likes to eat a lot, so he could end up with a problem if he doesn't get enough exercise.
So how do you put 3 cats on a diet? Well, I researched on the internet (google is my friend), and decided we would get food that is for overweight adult cats, and mix in with their regular food.  It isn't good to suddenly switch foods without allowing a period for their systems to get used to it. We moved the food upstairs to the kitchen where the water bowl is. Instead of leaving the self feeders out all day, we are now monitoring how much they are eating. And we are limitting the treats.
Exercise is also important. So I bought several toys to try to see if I could get them motivated to play and run around. The laser light is a big hit! Both Ziggy and Sonny will run around and chase it - especially if the room is dark so the light shows up that much more. The light is motorized so you can turn it on and set it down and it will flash the light around the room, but they seem to like it more if we move the light. It becomes more interactive that way. Sonny really loves it. M thinks that maybe he is still young enough to need something like this to help him come out of his shell.  Plus there are times that we hear him going around the house crying looking for someone to play with him.  Ziggy plays with him, but then gets tired out before Sonny does.  So I think the light is helping Sonny as much as Ziggy, even though the original intent was to get it for Ziggy.  Ziggy will run around like crazy chasing the light for a few min, then we can tell he gets worn out and flops down, and then just watches.  M says it is age and the extra weight.  Ok, so I can relate.
Ziggy is my buddy. If playing games with him and putting him on a diet will extend his life and make it more enjoyable then it is more than worth it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sonny playing RED light

video

Video of Sonny playing with the red light. This is our cats new exercise program. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

words

I've had several recent conversations about words.  A email list I participate in was discussing words.  The list is partially made up of authors and a couple of them were discussing the use of "old time words." The list also includes several teachers, and they were talking about how the youth of today has no idea what some words mean, and how "honors" or "AP" classes no longer mean much, and whether or not they do or should filter the words they use.  Several of the teachers said they sprinkle in large words in an attempt to broaden their students exposure to words.

I like words.  I've always thought I have (or had) a pretty large vocabulary.  I still think I do, but I now find I sometimes have more difficulty locating the word I am thinking of.  I know what the word is, I can almost see it, but it just slips through my fingers.  So Frustrating!! why can't I think of what I'm trying to say anymore?

Some of the words that were discussed in the various conversations - curmudgeon, mulling, plushies (or stuffies - meaning stuffed animals), umbrage, individualistic, refute, sensationalistic, and the list goes on.  I like words....

If today's society, (and it isn't just today's youth) is not using words, is it because they are too busy texting, and using text-speak shorthand instead of real words? Is it because no one reads anymore? Or has a real conversation? That is sad.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Brain injury causes man to play piano

I came across this clip, and found it interesting.  This guy, David Amato, was playing around with friends and had a near fatal concussion from hitting his head in a pool.  Before the accident he had never played the piano.

The mind is an amazing thing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

mad cow... tedious number crunching.... PC means more than politically correct..

We were in Germany (West Germany, before the wall came down) for almost 3 yrs. Long enough that I can't donate blood if I wanted to. Something about possibly being exposed to mad cow. Lovely. So, in 1985, my daughter J was born, and it was time to come home.  Back to the states.  As I mentioned, the marriage didn't last, so that was over about the same time. That is it's own long story, and sounds to much like one of the movies of the week to be believable, so I won't go into it for now.

So... it was then time to come back to the states. Now I'm a single mom, and art doesn't pay that well.

My parents generously allowed my daughter (8 mos old) and I to go back home and live with them so I could go back to college. This time round, I gave up on the art idea. I decided I was still interested in the computers, but wanted to ditch the science so switched to computer information systems, which is more the business side of computers. A lot of  the credits I took before transferred. And I discovered that with just adding a couple more courses I could get a double major in CIS and Accounting. Before graduating I got a job with a regional accounting firm, and was offered a full time job there after graduating. One thing led to another and I got my CPA (certified public accountant).

Career #2. I also got to wear the additional hat of being the network administrator at our firm, so got to do both accounting and computers. Quite honestly I didn't really enjoy the accounting side of things.  tedious work. often boring.  Number crunching... audits... balancing books.... taxes.... None of that really interested me.


Flash forward almost another 10 years, and once again I end up planning to move because of love. My daughter is now 9 and we move 1000 miles away without a job.  Oh, I had looked, and even had one decent offer from another accounting firm but just prior to finalizing the move, the accounting firm was bought out by another firm and my new position no longer existed and the guy that had offered it to me was also out of a job. Go figure. I think it was a blessing in disguise.  Did I mention that I found accounting boring?

I took a chance on love, and luck, and packed up and moved. Went from living in a small town where everyone knows your business located in the midst of the bible belt, where I had my folks nearby to help with my daughter to a town where all I really knew was my gf. Sound scary? It was a little. It was also freedom. Freedom to be more of who I am, and not have to worry or feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

My brother says I'm lucky. That he would never have the guts to do some of the things I've done. Things always have a way of working out. And they did.

So I moved without a job, to live with my gf.  I had my car and a little bit of savings.  My gf was paying the bills, she owned her home, and we weren't that much extra expense.  And I set out to find a job.  I couldn't find anything in the accounting world, but I did find something in computers. So I took a job working at a local computer shop. Started out doing PC and printer repair and occasionally working on servers. I guess this was was the beginning of career #3.  I didn't make a lot. It was a big pay cut going from a CPA to a computer tech, but I enjoyed it. The company liked me. Liked me enough that when I went to them asking if I could take about 6 months leave of absence (without pay) they agreed to hold my job for me when I came back.

As I mentioned in a prior post, I took an almost 6 mos break from working back in 96 in order to travel the US in an RV with my daughter and my gf. My gf was taking a sabbatical from her teaching job, and we went along for the ride. We home-schooled my daughter, and I think it was one of the most awesome experiences either one of us could have. How many people can say they spent 5 months or more travelling the country? That wasn't a career, but it was certainly experience. I was telling someone about it recently and they made the comment about how you must really have to love someone to travel 5 months in an RV with them. Well, yeah. Actually, the relationship didn't last. Perhaps that was part of it. Although it was on the rocks before we left on the trip.  We went more as friends than as lovers. And if I had it to do all over, of course I would.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Art where for art tho? what happened?

My first real career was in art. ...

To continue my earlier post regarding going nowhere, The next thing I was good at was art. I could draw. I started college as an art major.  I was good at drawing/painting. I was also interested in computers but this was before PC's existed so it was a different world. I wanted to find out how to get involved in a career doing some sort of computer animation. My college had no clue what to do with me, but for a while I was a dual major Art & Computer Science. yeah OK whatever. It didn't really mean anything back then.

So I thought I really liked art better than the computer science.  Especially the science bit. To my dad's horror (he was a biology professor) I wasn't that good at science, and I really wasn't that interested in learning Latin names for everything, and physics kicked my butt.  Strange because I aced calculus without trying... but I digress. I was good, no great at art. However, I almost flunked out of a life drawing class because my drawings were too realistic. I got a D in the class.  My teacher said that photo realism was out, and that I needed to learn to be more abstract.  Not sure what that has to do with life drawing, but it was a life lesson. LOL.
Not long after that I fell in love. as M would say now, I was young and dumb. He was in the military and got orders for Germany. So obviously, young love's response was that oh no, we can't be separated for a year or so, so our answer was that we must hurry and marry and then I can go along.  Well, the marriage didn't last, told you I was young and dumb. But I won't complain too much about it. I had an incredible opportunity and experience getting to see West Germany, parts of Europe, and my daughter was born over there.  Other thing I did over there was that I got a job as a head of a graphics art department for an army club system. I designed flyers and posters and put out a monthly magazine. I got to be an artist. The job required a college degree that I didn't have. But I was the most qualified applicant. At least I had gone to college, and they liked my portfolio.  I also did free lance painting - commission work.  I painted several murals around town, in some of the barracks. Big huge murals on walls. Also did some smaller framed commission work. Even won an award from the army divisional commander. So my first real career was as an Artist (luckily for me, it paid well, so I was not a starving artist either).

I don't know what happened to the artist me. I haven't touched a paint brush (house painting doesn't count). I haven't picked up a charcoal pencil or done a pen and ink.  My favorite mediums were pen & ink and colored charcoals, and a mix of the two. But I haven't drawn anything in years. The artist me got lost over the years much like the musician me. But I don't have the excuse that I have when I say I can't make music if I wanted. I could still draw or paint if I really wanted. So what happened? Sometimes I think that aspect of myself is somehow tied to much with who I was back then. I don't want to go back and revisit that time. I have some of my old drawings and paintings. For the most part they are stored away. I've thought of getting them out. But then that always leads to questions. Did you do these? Really? oh but you have so much talent... why aren't you doing something with it? why did you stop? And I don't have those answers. I don't know why I stopped. And I don't know what to say.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

exclusive retirement homes - not welcome

I was going to continue my post from yesterday, and I might still get back to that at some point.  But one nice thing about not having a "readership" or following, I can skip around and let my thoughts go wherever they want, and no one complains that they had trouble following.

I read a post this morning on someone else's blog about retirement homes. And it reminded me of something. Back in 96 I spent almost 6 months travelling the US in an RV (more on that story would have been in installment 4 or 5 if I'd continued on with yesterday's post). One of the places we visited was in Arizona. I forget the exact name, but near Phoenix.  As we were travelling we would research and stay at various campgrounds, and my then partner found this lesbian only campground/trailer park that was set up for retired women only space.  There was a fairly large population staying at this park, and there was another women only park just down the road.  Both had similar rules and restrictions. The premise was this was a space where women could live in a RV community, park their RV or in some cases a mobile home or a park model, during their retirement years.  The place was women only, men were not welcome on the grounds.  Even children were frowned upon and only allowed during certain "daylight" hours, and could not be out running around even then without being with an adult. They had organized dances, and card games, and other community events. While we were there they were having one of their dances and the park down the street was hosting the dance.
I found the place disturbing. Partly because we were there with my daughter who was 10 at the time. Partly because it was so exclusive. My partner thought the place was great. And would have even considered buying into it except for the fact they didn't allow men visitors at all, and she was very close to her brother, not to mention all the neices/nephews that her sisters and brother had.  I think she was ok with the idea of restricting access if it didn't have to apply to her.
The one highlight/memory I have of visiting that place was meeting the woman who was living in the RV next door to our site.  Her name was Elaine Mikels, she was in her mid-70's, and an amazing interesting woman. She had just recently written a book about her part in the events during stonewall.  Both my partner & I ended up getting a version of her book (she had two different editions) and having her sign them.  At that time she was splitting her time between this place and Sante Fe NM.  She seemed to prefer Sante Fe.  She was also opposed to some of the more extreme views and rules/restrictions that were in place there at the campground.  For example she thought it was a mistake to restrict access to both men & children.  Children she felt are our future.
Some things I think are great to participate in a "lesbian or GLBT" space/atmosphere. But I wouldn't want to live year round in a place that was so restrictive.  I have enjoyed vacationing places where gays are openly welcomed. Where it is ok to walk down the street holding hands, or to kiss your lover without fear. But then again those places do not exclude anyone. Other than maybe bigots.  And I'm not sure they are excluded as much as that isn't any place they want to go or would feel comfortable at.  I remember several years back talking about a vacation I was planning to P-town (Provincetown, MA) with some coworkers.  One of them made a comment warning me that there were a lot of "lesbians & gays" there and to watch out. Obviously he didn't realize he was talking to one. LOL

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

going nowhere

I have a job. A very good, well paying job. I work as a network engineer, managing/designing/maintaining computer networks. No, I don't work with computers, or users, or printers, etc.  I work on the network. The routers, switches, firewalls. I work for retail. So next time you are in a store somewhere and the clerks are complaining the network is down, or slow, then someone like me has probably been called to work on the issue. Much of the time when it is stores that are down, there is a telecom vendor involved, and data links or the WAN is down, and it is up to the vendor to resolve.

I also work on VOIP systems.  We have our own customer call center (to support outside customers), and a help desk call center (which supports users at stores, or corporate, which supports internal customers).  The help desk escalates issues to my team if the issues are network related and the help desk can't resolve.  VOIP technology puts the phones on the network, and merges both the world of computer technology and regular telephone technology.  Our telecom group is new to that whole idea. So I work with them because I have background in it.

I'm a key employee, and have lots of specialized knowledge and experience. Sometimes I think I know lots about a lot of things, but not about any one thing.  However, while it might sound conceited, I know a lot more about most of the things I do than anyone else here. I also think that I've gone as far as I can career-wise.  I am not a manager, or supervisor. I am a team lead and have people under me, but they are not direct reports. I'm not even sure I would want to be in management. Management can be so political and such a bureaucracy. I think I prefer to work on things and solve problems and design things.  I'm not sure I would be able to do all of that and be effective in management. I'm also pretty sure I wouldn't even like being in management.

I'm thinking about some of these things because a good friend/coworker was just promoted to manager of her dept.  She was a lead much as I am, only with the DBA team. Her manager will be leaving, so they offered her the position. I don't see that sort of thing being an option in my team. I am fairly certain that my boss is going nowhere, and neither is his boss. Also another good friend recently took a new job within her company and is now a manager of her division. She talks about how she likes, no loves her new job. I like my job, but I don't love my job. I used to love my job when I worked for the company prior to this one. But it was privately owned, and the family decided to sell it off, resulting in a lot of people including me being laid off. It wasn't as bad as it sounds, I got a decent severance and a key employee bonus to stick around until the company dissolved. I was lucky to find this job, and have a smooth transition from one to the other without being without a job in the middle. But this time it is just a job. Not a job that I love.

So am I going nowhere? I guess I'm trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I've re-invented myself several times in this life. When I was young, I taught music lessons for decent money, that and did some baby-sitting. Teaching banjo lessons was a lot more lucrative than any other job for a 14 yr old - I made $25 for 1/2 hr session. I was good at playing/singing. Not great, but good. Banjo, guitar. I had fun with it. I also took piano lessons for several years and could play that. Now (for some years now) I can't play.  My brain can't process reading music anymore.  I can read it, but it is like translating a foreign language, into another language and then from there into a 3rd. that's the best I can explain it. I can look at the music and think about it then, tell you what the note is (a,b,c,d,e,f,g etc), then look at it and figure out the rhythm. but to put it all together? Even when I was young I played much better by ear than sight reading. As for pickin' a banjo, or guitar, my hands wouldn't cooperate now if I remembered what to do. My fuzzy fingers on my right hand would complain if I had to play for very long, and I'm not sure I could work my fingers to pick the way I used to, or even do the cords with my left hand. As for the piano, I lost all memory of how to read/play the bass hand. I can pick out a melody with my right, but to put the two together? forget it. I think it maybe partly MS related. Or maybe it is just result of some other brain injury from the past. I still love music though. And I can still sing. J & I sing together in a local womyns chorus. Music is something I've always felt close to, not that I ever would have been good enough to really make any money at it.

My first real career was in art...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cats Cats Cats... for the Cat lovers out there...

This post is dedicated to my cats... I'll add photos later.
We originally had 4 cats, 1 dog. Now we just have 3 cats.

Coot, may he RIP, was the alpha. Neurotic, slightly psychotic, but lovable Coot. Coot was a silky (very silky soft fur) black cat with a white chest and paws & whiskers.  He was our tuxedo cat, all dressed up, no place to go.  Coot was a worrier.  He worried about everything and everyone.  If the cat's food container (self-feeder) was low, he would cry and let you know.  If the Dog's water dish (the cats shared Hunters large water cooler/watering dish). was low, he cried about that. If coot was crying, something was wrong. You would ask him what's the matter, and he would lead you to the problem.  Stand by to make sure you fixed it, then he would leave.  It wasn't that he wanted the food or the water, he just was afraid it was going to run out.    He even did that when Hunter's dry food would get low.  If Coot was crying, it meant something wasn't right. He wouldn't stop until you went with him to fix it.  He would cry if someone got trapped in the laundry room. Even Ruby - his nemesis. He was the old man. A year older than Ruby. When M & I moved in together my daughter J & I brought Coot & Ziggy. M brought Ruby & Hunter.  And then J felt sorry for this scraggly flea ridden kitten and paid the adoption fee and we ended adding Sonny.  J & I had gotten Coot as a kitten, when some friends found the bedraggled wet kitten that would fit in the palm of your hand out in the rain outside a convenience store.  Our friend already had 2 cats, and couldn't take on another, so we took him.  Coot had grown up around dogs, when he was a kitten my partner at the time had 2 labs, and Coot was unafraid. As a tiny kitten you might find him up under the chin of the big yellow lab trying to get to the gravy in the dog's bowl.  Luckily all the dogs Coot (and the others) have been around were all gentle giants.  Besides being a worrier, Coot was nervous.  Besides crying to let us know when things weren't right, if he got too upset, he would get dandruff really bad.  Which with his black silky fur was very noticeable.   Coot was a sweet kitty, I miss Coot. For that matter, I miss that old yellow lab too.  I was there and watched both (at different times obviously) take their last breath.  I was alone with my partner's old yellow lab, she couldn't deal, so I was there for the big guy.  For Coot, we were all there - me, M & J. All crying and reminiscing about happier times & happier memories.

If Coot was the old man, that makes Ruby the old lady.  Ruby is a calico tabby cat. Dark rusty/brown color, some stripes on her tail, otherwise mottled. White chest, paws & face. Sort of dainty but tough as nails. Don't mess with Ruby. That goes for human or animal.  One minute she can be purring and demanding you pet her, next she'll swat you to let you know you should have stopped that - didn't you get the secret signal she'd had enough? Ruby and Coot had some sort of love/hate relationship going. They would hiss and fight. For some reason, Ruby would get behind the bedroom door, swatting at Coot out through the crack at the hinges.  He would sit and box back at her.  They also like to fight for who got to be on the bed.  Coot was declawed, so he had no front claws.  The rest of the cat's have claws.  So Ruby had the advantage.  But Coot would still wop at Ruby with his paw. He packed a mean punch. Normally Coot would end up chasing Ruby off the bed, then he would lay up there.  He was getting older, and while he would sometimes exhibit signs of acting like a kitten again, he normally didn't want to play with the younger ones - Ziggy & Sonny.  Ruby doesn't like any of the boys. We aren't sure that she likes anyone.  Normally while Coot was alive, he was the only one that really fought with Ruby, on a couple rare occasions, Ziggy joined in, Sonny was a bit clueless.  As I've mentioned before, something is wrong with Ruby's meow. She can get loud when she really wants to, as we have heard her when she got trapped in the laundry room. Most of the time tho, the best she comes up with is a faint "meep" sound. Otherwise you can watch her mouth open and shut but no meow comes out.  Like she has permanent laryngitis. Although when Coot was still around and Ruby would get shut in the laundry room, Coot would be sitting outside the door crying, Ruby would be quiet.  If didn't hear Coot, he'd come looking for us and lead us to her.  Timmy's in the well... you need to come help NOW.  Told you it was a love/hate thing.  Is Ruby the alpha female? she's the only female.  I'm not sure I'd call her alpha.  More likely crotchety.

The cats love to follow us in the laundry room and will sometimes hide and get shut in there when we shut the door. All cats seem to have a door alarm. Even if they are in another part of the house, they know if you go in a room (bathroom?) and shut the door, and will immediately appear outside said door and cry and stick their paws under the door trying to signal to you that they are there and that help is on the way, soon as they figure out how to get that damn door open... Cabinets, now cabinets they can open. Just so you know, they can open all the cabinets, weave in and out and around all the pots and pans and anything else you have in there. Normally they don't, but they can.  Just in case, we always rinse off the pots/pans. But the doors, can't quite get those door knobs to turn.  That proved a problem once. M & I had left on a week long vacation and taken Hunter with us.  J was stopping by the house off and on checking on the cats.  With plenty of water and self feeders out, and clean litter boxes, they are usually good for a couple days on their own.  Sometime between when we left on Friday and J showing up on Sunday, however, all 4 cats somehow shut themselves in our bedroom.  This was odd, in that Coot & Ruby had managed to get the door shut before while boxing with each other, but normally Coot is outside the door when this happens.  But this time all 4 were in the bedroom.  This could have been really bad. Or well, worse than it was, I guess being stuck in a bedroom for possibly 2 days without food or easy access to water isn't a good thing.  Our bedroom has a full bath attached, so they could drink out of the toilet if necessary, and the cats used our walk in shower as their bathroom, and left a few presents.  As I say, could have been a lot worse.  The shower was much easier to clean up than if they peed/pooped in the bedroom.  We aren't sure how they came up with the idea, but could tell they'd all used it. After that incident we started blocking the bedroom door so nothing similar could happen again.  That was really the only room that it was an issue, and that was because of how/where the door is.

Hunter was the next oldest.  He was a large sweet dog. Rarely barked. Was a very good dog. Definitely a gentle giant. His mother was golden retriever, not sure about the rest.  It was claimed the father of the puppies was a Rottweiler, but he didn't have Rottweiler in him, they are stocky. He was almost as large as a Great Dane, had a running dog's build, and loved to stretch those legs.  He was fast.  The vet said he might be part Irish Setter. He had short reddish hair.  He looked a little like a very large Vizsla. He got along well with the cats.  He and Coot became very good buds, Coot would walk in and around Hunter rubbing all over him.  Hunter wanted to play so bad with the cats that sometimes he would try to put his paw on them, coot especially and he would yelp, and we'd have to fuss at Hunter to leave the cat alone, then there would be Coot right back over there beside Hunter rubbing all over him.  Sonny also was a big pal.  We think Sonny thought he might be a big dog too. When Hunter would get a treat or table scraps, like a piece of steak, Sonny was right there wanting a piece too. Course we had to give Sonny a much much smaller piece, but he seemed to always want whatever the big guy got.  Sonny also tries to make a sound like a woof.... more like mouf... Hunter always had dry food sitting out, and also got one can of wet food a day.  He especially liked the kind with gravy.  Problem is that the cats also really liked the gravy.  Many times, we would put out Hunter's food, and he would come to us and lean against us whining, and the cats (especially Coot) would be on their hind legs licking the gravy off the food in Hunter's bowl.  Hunter could have gone over and growled or barked or scared the cats off, but no, he would come whine to us like he was saying "the cats are eating my food again.... cant you do something?"  To solve the problem we got a second bowl, and would pour a little of the gravy off into the "cats" bowl, then put the rest of the can in Hunter's dish.  Made everyone happy. And whatever the cats didn't finish up, Hunter would later.

The cats have a pecking order when it comes to eating. However, they take turns. When Coot was around, he was often first.  Then either Ruby or Ziggy and Sonny.  Now that Coot is gone, sometime Ruby gets there first and Ziggy will wait until she is done, or Ziggy will be first and Ruby will wait.  No real rhyme or reason.  Sonny, our special needs kitty, he eats when he wants.  The others will let him. They seem to all know he is special. Ruby will fuss a little bit, but let him go out of turn.  Ziggy will just share the bowl with him.  Same with the water dish.  Now when they used to share Hunter's water bowl, they never shared at the same time with the dog. but because the bowl was large, it was easy for more than one of them to drink at the same time.  Now they have a smaller "cat sized" bowl which is really too small for more than 1 but sometimes we will still see both Sonny & Ziggy trying to drink at the same time.  Another difference now they no longer have the large water bowl is that the floor doesn't stay as wet.  There were two reasons for the wet kitchen floor.  First was Hunter, he would slosh water, and leave a trail after taking several gulps of water.  So you had to watch out for the patches of dog slime.  The 2nd reason was Ziggy.  He likes to drink from his paw, and will sometimes splash water, we sometimes wondered if he was doing it for fun, or trying to skim the dog slobber off the top of the water before he drank.  We think mostly he just wanted to play, because we would catch him slinging water at Sonny or at Hunter.  For some time Hunter was blamed for all the wet floor issues until Ziggy was caught in the act.

Ziggy is our little grey tiger. Ok, he's not so little. Over weight actually, although the vet did say as long as he is active, jumping and playing not to worry too much.  He can jump and he plays. So for now, we haven't changed the means of feeding the cats.  To put Ziggy on a diet would mean they all get put on a diet and we would have to take away the self-feeders and make sure they all got their dinner.  As for Ziggy's jumping ability, not long after we moved into this house, we found him on top of the top kitchen cabinets (up over top of the refrigerator by about a foot 1/2.  We guess that he got up there by jumping on the counter top and from there to the top of the fridge and from there to the top of the cabinets - unless he went from the counter to the top of the cabinet directly.  That's really the only time we found him up there.... he just wanted to see what the view was and whether there was anything worth checking out.  Ziggy is a lover boy and loves to snuggle and is very social. He's best pals with Sonny. J and I got him as a small kitty and he bonded instantly to me.  He is my boy.  He will be social with anyone but he is definitely attached to me.  He is very playful and has a mischievous streak.  He is very gentle when he plays, and rarely puts his claws out.  Even the vet has commented on it.  We believe he learned to play keeping his claws in because of Coot, who was declawed.  After all using claws wouldn't be fair when Coot couldn't.  Only rarely if you are playing with Ziggy will he barely put his claws out sort of as a warning.... but not enough to really do any damage.  He does the same thing when you are petting him and he doesn't like something you are doing, or he might "fake bite" you, put his mouth on you, without actually biting down. Just long enough so you get the idea.  Ziggy was always Coot's pal.  Whenever we needed to take Coot to the vet, we often would end up taking both Ziggy & Coot (in the same cat carrier) because it would help make Coot feel better and less worried. Later, as Coot got older he didn't want to play as much and Ziggy bonded more with Sonny and took Sonny under his wing.  Ziggy is also our attack cat.  Early warning alarm system.  If strange people show up (as in complete strangers, repair men, UPS drivers, etc), or if strange vehicles pull into the drive (or we have discovered lately he reacts even if a delivery truck pulls into the neighbors drive), then he growls.  Yes, he growls. I first told M about it after we moved in together to let her know, if she heard Ziggy growling that it meant we probably had someone pulling in the drive or something wasn't right.  She responded with a yeah right, cats don't growl.  Now Hunter would bark if a strange dog, or rather a strange big dog (he seemed to think little dogs were maybe cats) was around.  He would bark if you left him outside too long.  And if someone strange was outside in the middle of the night sort of thing.  Otherwise he didn't bark.  He didn't bark if we had repairmen coming to fix things... He would scare the repairmen because he was big, and he would be straining against whoever was trying to hold him back... because he thought all visitors to the house were there to see and pet him. But even if Hunter didn't always bark or growl, well Ziggy would.  First time M heard him, she told me (surprised) Ziggy does growl... yes. really. ferocious little tiger he is.  Course I'm not sure what he would really do if there was danger or the danger came in the house, maybe run to the treat cabinet and hope the thief was breaking in to give the cats treats? no, but seriously I do think Ziggy maybe would do what he could to protect us. Especially me.  Not sure what he could/would do, but he'd try, least that is what I believe.

Sonny, is a long haired, part Maine Coon cat.  Yellow. His fur is yellow/orange with faint stripes, and he has a white chest and white paws.  And he is Yellow. A big scaredy cat. Did I mention big? He has enormous paws, he is much bigger than the other cats.  He isn't fat, just big.  Apparently Main Coon's get big, and he isn't as big as some of them I found on the Internet.  He's also a big coward.  Afraid of noise, his shadow, sudden movement...  As I mentioned, J picked out Sonny when we first moved into our house. He was still a kitten but several months old.  With long gangly legs, and scrawny. Very awkward.  J says she saw him and was afraid no one would adopt him and that she felt the need to do so to make sure he had a good home. Nothing like bringing a 4th cat into a household that has just blended 2 families.  A dog & cat, plus two cats, plus sonny.  Poor Sonny was odd man out.  First thing we had to do was isolate him in one of the bathrooms until we could flea dip him and make sure the fleas were gone.  We did not want to have a flea infested household!  We took him to the vet to make sure he was up on his shots.  The vet told us he was a short hair domestic cat.  Yeah, ok. In the beginning, none of the animals wanted anything to do with him. He wanted to play.  He was able to pal around some with Hunter, but the cats didn't want him around.  In fact, the other cats would torment him.  As he grew, we discovered he is not short haired.  He has soo much hair, he has tufts of hair growing out between the pads of his feet.  His pads never actually touch the ground.  Which makes him slide easily on the linoleum.  The other cats figured this out.  Our house makes a circle where you can go from the living room to the dining room to the kitchen, out the other side of the kitchen back in the living room, completing the circuit.  The house is carpeted except for the kitchen, the landing (we have a split level) and the downstairs hallway and the bathrooms all have linoleum.  The other cats discovered they could play chase with Sonny and lead him through the kitchen from the dining room and they could turn and run out the doorway to the living room, and Sonny couldn't make the corner and would slide into the kitchen table and chairs, BAM.  Perhaps that is one reason Sonny is a special needs kid - too many BAMs.  But really Sonny isn't so dumb.  He learned to skid into the turn.  Looking much like a little kid on a skate board, he knows just when to slide and lean and make the corner and can now fly through the kitchen and out the door no trouble at all.  He does the same thing running down the stairs making the corner on the landing and down the rest of the stairs and around to the cat room.  After we had Sonny for a few months, he started filling out some and growing into those gangly legs.  He is still awkward (probably always will be), he has huge paws, and is a bit of a klutz.  As he filled out his hair grew.  Besides the tufts growing out the pads of his feet, he has tuffs coming out his ears, and has what looks like a lion mane, a fluffy feather duster like tail, and so much fur that M says he always looks like he is running with his pants falling down.  We don't have any proof that he is Maine Coon cat, but we are sure he is NOT a domestic short hair.    I did some Internet searching and found out that he has all the indicators of being a Main Coon after a friend suggested he might be one.  It wasn't long after we all started to get settled in the new house, and all the animals started getting used to each other that Ziggy & Sonny started palling around.  Ziggy took the kitty under his wing, and would snuggle with him, groom him, etc.  Animals are funny though. We took Sonny to the vet and he stayed overnight when it was time to have him fixed.  When he came home he smelled different and Ziggy wanted nothing to do with him.  Would just hiss and spit at him.  After a day or so, he realized it really was Sonny and all was ok again. Sonny is fine around the other animals, and can even be brave when it comes to taking what he wants - like food etc. but when it comes to people, that's when he is really a scaredy cat.  Strangers, loud noises, etc.  Sonny runs like a yellow blur down the stairs to the cat room.  Sonny has so much fur that we started taking him to the groomer to have him shaved.  If not, his fur will get so matted that it isn't healthy for him, and he won't hardly let us brush him or help him take care of it.  So J will come by every 3-4 months and help grab him and put him in one of the cat carriers and take him to the groomers.  They give him a "lion cut" which leaves his mane and a fluff on the end of his tail, and makes him look that much more like a little lion.  The groomer say he is very sweet. They wanted to know if he was nervous (you think? Mr. cowardly lion, nervous?) - apparently they said he chews his nails. Which is much like in humans.  We knew Coot was nervous, he had dandruff that would flare up when he was upset.  Sonny, he jumps when you make sudden moves, or if he hears loud noises, or if strange people come in the house. Or for that matter if any of us open the front door. Think he associates the front door with strange people coming in the house since we all mostly use the garage.

Our "cat room" is a storage room at the bottom of the stairs that has a cat door cut in the bottom of the door.  Besides being used for storage it is where the litter boxes and cat food is kept.  Main purpose was to keep it out of Hunters reach.  Unfortunately dogs think cat poo is a form of delicacy... we will leave that thought at that.
After Coot was gone, the cats had an adjustment period where they all figured out their place in cat society.  Well except for Sonny, who appears to be exempt. If you watch them, you can tell they (all the animals) just make allowances for him.  Ziggy became a bully. It appears he feels it is his place in life to make Ruby's life miserable.  To follow Coots footsteps and keep Ruby off the bed.  Ruby is not having any of it.  Normally Ziggy snuggles with us at bed time.  Often wants under the covers and snuggles in.  Otherwise he snuggles with Sonny at the foot of the bed. Ruby likes to sleep by M, or up on her pillows at the top of the bed.  It is a king, so there is plenty of room for all the cats and us.  Ziggy will chase Ruby off then sit at the bottom scowling and guarding the bed so that she can't get back on.  Sort of an example of cutting his nose off to spite his face because he can't get any attention down there, doesn't get to snuggle in, but guess he's happy because he is keeping Ruby away.
Another thing that has changed since Coot & Hunter have gone is Ziggy's behavior after I leave and come back.  Before if I had to travel for work.  He would be so upset and pissed at me when I would get back that he wouldn't have anything to do with me for several days.  He would make sure he was in the same room noticeably ignoring me.  Not come when called, and not want me to pet him, etc.  Now, if I leave, then when I get back he won't let me out of his site, and wants to be glued to me like a furry tumor.  It takes a few days before he relaxes and goes back to normal.

So.... that's our furry family members. We wouldn't take any thing for any of them.  And most definitely miss the ones that are gone.

Monday, February 7, 2011

shaky shaky meow meow

The cats have a new ritual.  They have a toy mouse - not new, they have had it for a few years, but never paid any attention to it until now.   They have several toys.  Which they carry to different parts of the house and leave them strewn around like a toddler with their toys.  I think part of this is because we no longer have the dog to "eat" the toys.  Hunter loved to shred anything stuffed. And if it wasn't stuffed he would slobber it and no cat would be interested.  So I think now that Hunter isn't around to bother their toys, they are now feeling safe at carrying them around and leaving them out in the open.

Ruby likes to carry a couple of the stuffed toys - a catnip caterpillar worm thing, and a hedgehog, and then cry over them like they were her long lost kittens.  First time I heard her do this, I thought she was in pain, or something, she sounded so forlorn and pitiful. 

Ziggy and sunny like to carry a couple of the stuffed mice around and leave them, brave hunters that they are, where you will find them and step on them in the dark.  I guess it is good we don't have mice, or we might find real ones left for us to find.  The closest they get to actual hunting is bugs.  Amazingly enough (least to me) is that they can catch them and kill them.  Ziggy is very intent and serious hunter.  Sunny is spastic.  He's our special needs kitty.  Ziggy will stay crouched ready to pounce for long periods, Sunny will crouch beside him, watching him, and imitating, for a couple minutes, then forget what he was doing there, and sometimes will try to get Ziggy to play with him, but Ziggy will be intent on the hunt, and then sunny will suddenly remember what he was supposed to be doing and then crouch down again, like oh yeah, I forgot... we're huntin'.... be vewwy vewwy quiet, we's huntin bugs...

The new toy of interest though is a mouse that sounds like a bean bag when you shake it.  Couple weekends ago, I was trying to nap (I find I like napping on weekends - it allows me to catch up on sleep I miss all week). Ziggy however did not want me to nap.  He wanted me to appreciate that he had this toy mouse.  He was grabbing the mouse shaking it so that it rattled, then drop it, and meow loudly. over and over. he jumped up on the bed to present this mouse and repeat his routine. I was not impressed.

On Saturday night/Sunday morning, he played this game with M.  She was definitely not impressed.  She was working a mandatory OT shift at work on Sunday, daylight shift which meant getting up at 5am. She normally works 2nd shift, and is not an early morning person.  If anyone asks if I wake up grouchy in the mornings, my reply is only if I have to.... I know better.  Actually, I prefer staying up at night to getting up early, but I wake up fairly easily, and I am normally good natured when woke up.  Not M.  LOL.  So Ziggy, doing his shake shake, drop the mouse, meow meow, routine at 3:30/4 in the morning early Sunday didn't go over well. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

stumbling around

For the past week I have been limping and hobbling around.  Last monday I went to see my knee dr and got a shot in my left knee.  I was originally supposed to get the first of 3 synvisc shots but when I got there, they told me "its your lucky day." Now considering my luck I should have been suspicious right then.  But they told me that someone had scheduled getting a synvisc-one shot and cancelled and since they couldn't return the shot, they could give it to me for free.  No charge for the shot or visit.  So, I discuss the differences between the 1 shot vs the 3, I had major reservations regarding doing the 1 shot, because it was basically taking the exact same formula, and doing the shot all at once vs breaking into three separate shots.  I was concerned because sometimes getting the amount in the 1/3 shot was a lot of pressure, but he said he would inject it in a little different place and that would give it more room, so I decided to try it out.

So I got the shot, and it wasn't too bad.  A little sore that day - this is typical, usually the day of the shot is a achy and it takes a day or so before it kicks in.  I went on to work, same with Tuesday.  But then by Wednesday, my knee was killing me.  I was hobbling around and could barely walk.  M said she thought my knee was swollen, at that point I couldn't see it myself.  We got snow, so I took a "snow day" and worked from home.  Luckily I can do my job as easily from home as I can from the office.  It is just preferred that we go in.  Thursday, it was worse, so I took a sick day and even called back into the dr.  said my knee was swelling, and achy and I couldn't walk, etc.  Spoke to the assistant, and was told that maybe it was just because I did the one shot instead of doing the 3, that it was a lot more fluid and to keep it elevated and ice on it.  I slept most of thursday, hoping to "sleep it off and feel better." That didn't really work.  I asked about taking another sick day on Friday but was told that no... my boss and the entire rest of my team was already out on vacation, trying to get their last days in before end of year.  So worked from home again.  Was miserable most of the weekend.

M told me to start using one of my canes... which helped, not sure why I didn't do it myself.  I think she is over me being home and hobbling.  I'm not sure if it is that she feels a little helpless when I'm sick or "under the weather" or if she just finds it irritating.  In any case she has become very irritable, and being irritable myself from being in pain, I'm having a little trouble being sympathetic.

I went back to the Dr this morning, they drained off over 10 cc's of fluid off my knee.  Two huge syringes.  The amount looked about 4 times the amount of that shot from last week.  But it did make a big difference.  The achy pain that was my constant friend, throbbing from my knee down into my ankle,  keeping a beat all its own with sharp heart beats of pain radiating.  actually I think most of the pain was down in my ankle.  Think that is a good example of "referred pain".  I tried most everything.  Ice, heat, elevate, massage, hot tub, advil, vicodin, even alcohol.  No not all at the same time.  Though, if I had thought it might help, well.... I got the best relief from some pain relief cream that I would rub on my knee and down the back of my calf and around my ankle.  Flexerall plus.  It has a stronger smell than ben-gay, but unlike ben-gay it helps when I've had bad knee aches in the past.  So Why not? I tried it.  I think all it did was distract the nerves along my leg.  But it helped.

Now after having the fluid removed, my leg no longer looks deformed.  and the constant pain is gone. Did I mention that? That is huge! Big difference.  my knee still aches, but instead of being a 9-11 on that 1-10 scale, it is now more like a 3. I can ignore a 3.  sometimes it aches and the pain climbs but again, it is bearable.  I'm hoping I will be able to sleep tonight.  I haven't slept much the past week.  My knee kept waking me up, I couldn't find a comfortable position. You know, you keep moving hoping to get situated so the pain goes away or calms down, but it wasn't happening.  Sometimes it felt better moving than stopping. But it is hard to keep moving and sleep.  So my sleep was disturbed.  Which meant I disturbed everyone else.  Perhaps that was why M was irritable? lol

I even disturbed the cats. Ziggy hates the smell of the "old lady cream" as M calls the flexerall.  Must be the strong menthol.  He gets a whiff and runs.  I should be more considerate of the rest of the family.

I think I will sleep good tonight.

winter blahs!

I am so sick of the snow and cold weather.  Spring will not come too soon.  We have not gotten one big snow storm like we have in years past, instead this year it has been a day of 1-2 inches, followed by a cold spell (temps in the low 20's) then another 2-3 inches, then warms up to the upper 30's but not enough to melt the snow off the grass.  Then another day of snow.  It has been several days without snow, so it is time.  Weather reports that it is supposed to start overnight and continue into tomorrow.  Total accumulation of about 4-5 inches.  Fun fun.  Better rush to the grocery (market) and fight the crowds so you can load your cart with at least 5-10 loaves of bread and a dozen or more gallons of milk.  Nevermind that we can rarely finish 1 loaf or a 1/2 gallon of milk before either go bad.  It is a local LAW to buy mass quantities whenever they predict a big snow.  Just watch the supermarkets and grocery stores - check out the people with carts full of both bread and milk.  What do they do with all that? Ok, you can freeze bread, but I think it doesn't taste as good after thawed. But milk? what? make ice cream? what?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year Resolutions

I have noticed a growing trend among friends and fellow bloggers of people that don't "do resolutions."  Which made me think about what that really means.


From Webster's online dictionary:
Definition of RESOLUTION

1 : the act or process of resolving: as
a : the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones
b : the act of answering : solving
c : the act of determining
d : the passing of a voice part from a dissonant to a consonant tone or the progression of a chord from dissonance to consonance
e : the separating of a chemical compound or mixture into its constituents
f (1) : the division of a prosodic element into its component parts (2) : the substitution in Greek or Latin prosody of two short syllables for a long syllable
g : the analysis of a vector into two or more vectors of which it is the sum
2 : the subsidence of a pathological state (as inflammation)
3 a : something that is resolved
b : firmness of resolve
4 : a formal expression of opinion, will, or intent voted by an official body or assembled group
5 : the point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out
6 a : the process or capability of making distinguishable the individual parts of an object, closely adjacent optical images, or sources of light
b : a measure of the sharpness of an image or of the fineness with which a device (as a video display, printer, or scanner) can produce or record such an image usually expressed as the total number or density of pixels in the image


Hmmm.... ok so how does that fit with making a New Year resolution? I guess choice 3 a) is closest to being an example of a New Year type resolution.  


So anyway, what's the big problem with making a New Year resolution? I make resolutions all the time, all year long.  I resolve to get more exercise, to pay more attention to what I am eating, and to try to get healthier.  I resolve to get more sleep at night.  Sometimes I am successful at whatever I resolve to do or change, other times not so much.  Sort of like sticking with a diet, I have lots of good intentions at first, but then before I know it, I've fallen off the wagon, and start becoming hap-hazard and next thing I know, all those good intentions have sailed out the window. 


But so what is so different about those day to day resolutions and a "New Year Resolution"? Only thing I can figure out is that by saying it is a New Year Resolution, we are somehow promising to stick to it, and promise to follow through not just "try" and are, at least in our own minds, somehow held accountable to not break them for the entire year? And just as those other day to day resolutions that I've made through out the year and failed to keep, I will fail at the New Year Resolution, and somehow it will be a bigger failure because it has the words "New Year" tacked to it.  Sorry, I don't see the significance.  Or is it because it becomes a more "public" declaration, especially if others ask what your New Year resolutions are, and you share?  By publicly declaring you will stick to your diet, or get more sleep (to use my examples from above), and when you fail, then you become more of a failure because it becomes more public.  Sorry, I don't buy that either.  Oh I understand and accept others declarations that they "don't do New Year resolutions".  That's fine.  Maybe they don't do resolutions at all.  But I will admit to myself that I do do resolutions.  And I normally repeat the same ones over and over, and I break them over and over, but then I dust myself off and get back on track and start all over again with good intentions.  
Call them New Year resolutions or not.  It matters not to me.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

travelling for the holidays

My daughter and I flew to western KY to spend the holiday's with my mom on Xmas eve, and my brother and family drove in from mid-state (5 1/2 hr drive) on Saturday and left again on Sunday.  Another whirlwind family get-together.  My mom loved it. And was left completely exhausted.  She seemed to be doing pretty good this visit. But that can be hard to tell. She is still complaining that it hurts to swallow, talk, basically use her throat.  But she'll be ok. We flew back on Thursday the 30th, and then got stuck in Chicago (apparently high winds - hmm windy city?) due to delays. Airlines no longer give you free rooms if you are stranded. They offer "discounts", I'd hate to see what the normal prices of some of these places are.  On the other hand, if I think about it, why should the airline have to pay for a hotel for me, when the flight was delayed by weather? Basically they chose to limit the number of flights that could take off or land at any given time due to the high winds. Which in turn caused some major delays and caused us (along with lots of other people) to miss their connections.  So is that the airline's fault?  I think it makes a little more sense to blame the airline when they just randomly cancel a flight, or they bump you without reason, etc.  Last year we had an issue in Cincinnati trying to catch a connection, and went to the gate to be told the plane just left.  I said, but I have 10 after, the flight isn't scheduled to leave until 20 after, and had the attendant tell me quite proudly that her monitor said 15 after. When I tried to explain how that still mean the plane left early, she shrugged and said it was already gone, and did I want help getting a replacement flight?
One of my main complaints with flying these days is that checked bags cost at least $25 a bag, unless of course you pay extra to fly first class - then you can get free checked bags (in some cases 3). Ok, if there is a problem with passengers taking too much and they need to limit bags, charging would be a way to do that. But oh, then you hear that they are having to add sand bags as ballast to even out the load since people aren't taking as many bags. Go figure.  Then there are all the people that go through security lugging way more bags than the 1 bag plus one personal item (purse, pillow, etc).  I guess there are a lot of people that don't know how to count.  Also, these same people that can't count are the ones that have the "over-sized" carry-ons and have to gate-check them.  Which is free.  Which is why these people are doing this.  Basically it is like checking a bag, only it is free, and you get your bag back at plane side when you reach your destination.  Other advantage I guess is that if you get stranded like we did in Chicago, you got your bag with you.  Ours somehow didn't miss our connection (even tho we landed when the other plane was supposedly taking off) even though we did.  So we got to spend the night without our luggage.  I carry a laptop bag with me that has my essential stuff in it.  So I was ok.
We stayed in the Hilton at the Chicago airport - in the airport actually. Cost a little more, but to me it was worth not have to try to go out find and catch a shuttle for a 20 min drive to some hotel and be at their mercy to be able to get a shuttle the next morning and not miss our return flight.  It already took us almost 15-20 minutes to walk from the airport itself to the hotel lobby, much less go on outside where the shuttle buses were.  The hotel was nice. Not that I ever plan to go back to it.  The main down point of the stay in Chicago was walking into an elevator just as a homeless man was exiting to discover he had just peed in the corner. Ewww. and why there? never mind I don't want to know.  J wondered how he knew he could be finished in time before the doors opened... I don't know? practice?
M also had her own fun travelling over the holiday. She flew to SC to see W. Was supposed to fly out on Friday and return Monday, making it a 4 day weekend trip.  She got stuck because of a connecting flight through Newark, and had her Monday flight rescheduled for Thursday, and then when it looked like it might be cancelled again, ended up having to get another flight home. She is holding her breath waiting for a refund on the original return flight.  Which they did promise, so maybe.  I think the worst part of her getting stuck was that she was staying with W and his girlfriend D and she got sick of hearing sales pitches for XANGO. The miracle fruit, cure for MS and anything that ails you, that I wrote about before.  You don't sell the product, you just find 5 friends that will join and market it, and they find 5 friends, etc.  The other issue was that D's cooking apparently left something to be desired, she said the meals were things that really sounded good, but every time she put any of it in her mouth she was disappointed.  The other problem was that it was unseasonably cold in SC.  And apparently W & D didn't feel the need to turn up the heat.  M was talking about having to put socks on her hands to read so her hands didn't freeze.  M doesn't normally complain of the cold.
Western KY is really not that far south of where I live in Central PA. But a lot of people from this area seem to believe I am travelling south when I mention going to see my mom.  Now, granted if you listen to the accents of the locals, you will definitely hear a drawl. And like a lot of the south, they don't get in any hurry. But geographically, it is really more west than south.  Temperature-wise it normally is within a few degrees of here.  In fact, we had a white xmas (about 3-4 inches) which was more than here. In any case, I wish it was further south and that the temperatures reflected it.  I am pretty much over winter time.  Today was a "warm spell" - regular heat wave with temps climbing into the 40's.  Feels a lot better than 20's and below.  And this single digit stuff with the wind chill - it really has to go.  I truly think my MS doesn't like cold.  Maybe it is just me that doesn't like cold, but I like to think it is one thing that we agree on.  Something we can both be on the same side regarding.  I just really don't like the bitter cold. Especially damp & cold.  I don't care for extreme heat either, but the cold just seems to do something to me.  And plus arthur doesn't care for it either.  So the 3 of us - arthur, MS & me all would greatly prefer if we were done with winter now please.  My arthritis in my left knee has really been acting up.  I saw the dr yesterday and talked about seeing another specialist to discuss a knee replacement.  Hiking across the airport, riding my bike, stepping out in the cold.  None of those things are much fun these days.  So I think it is time.  It isn't going to get any better.  And the things that were helping (like the walking, exercising and riding bike) don't seem to be doing it now.  So I need to take the next step and see what I need to know to plan.