Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Facebook is for...what now?

OK, so I'm the last adult on the planet to sign up on Facebook, and I'm still not entirely sure what the attraction is, other than having yet another place to put one's profile. But I wanted to sign up as a "fan" of the Pickens Plan, so there I am, among the hip folks, with only the tiniest clue as to what I'm doing there.

Well, I'm a late bloomer when it comes to technology (which will strike a lot of those who know me as a weird statement, since I'm the one they come to for computer help). When I was much younger, I spent six months observing other people using a CompuGraphic typesetting machine before beginning to learn it myself; and by the end of my years in small newspapers, I was using ALL the typesetting machines with ease. I piddled around in a limited way with someone else's Macintosh long before buying one myself; and later on I was considered the "Mac guru". I held off switching to a PC (for compatibility with my work docs) for years before finally taking the plunge because I wasn't quite sure I could manage MS Windows' inner workings by myself (I can); and now I'm the MS Word guru and called on to help people with many other PC functions, as well.

I had a cellphone briefly, but found I only rarely had a use for it (emergency calls for a tow truck, for instance), so I dropped it. And I have no desire to own any form of PDF, including the Crackberry.

On the other hand, I LUST after the Amazon Kindle.  :D   But I'm a voracious reader, so that's understandable.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll figure out some use for Facebook other than displaying my few little causes and periodically annoying my one friend.  :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back from my Xmas trip...

...and catching up on my favorite blogs & whatnot. My back is slowly improving, and I'm trying to be careful so as not to aggravate it again. I missed my kitty the whole time I was gone, of course; I was very glad to see her again, and to see that her "nanny" had taken good care of her in my absence.

Monday, December 22, 2008

You know you're getting old...

...when your back locks up just bending over to tie your shoes. For the second day in a row. (OK, yesterday it happened when I bent over to pet my cat, but same principle.) Oy, misery....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nigerian scam redux

I just received an interesting e-mail from the Federal Bureau of Investigation--that's the Effa-Bee-Eye, folks--taking a loving interest in my "illegal transaction" with some Nigerian scammer and offering to send me an ATM card full of bucks as soon as I pay a fee of my real bucks, yada yada yada, for what reason I can't tell--just because the FBI thinks so highly of me, apparently.

This is the stupidest thing I ever heard of--even more stupid than the Nigerian scam itself. What idiot would believe this line of bull? No one, I sincerely hope. But just in case you've received such a message and wondered "What's it all about, Alfie?", here's the lowdown from Snopes.

Honestly, there are some real egomaniacs out there who apparently believe people will buy anything if you just wave the possibility of free money under their noses, no matter how illogical.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Last pee entry?

I certainly hope so, anyway. I found two normal-sized pee clumps and a little one in the litterbox this morning. Hallelujah! Normalcy!  :D  I think that Feliway diffuser is helping. That, and I've stopped yelling at Minnie for getting up on the counter; I just tell her firmly to get off, and she does. No more transmitting my stress to Miss Minnie.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Minnie, Flickr, & the wonders of sleep

Minnie did fine in the house Friday--no pee in inappropriate spots. What was in the litterbox was in smallish clumps, but at least it was all in the right place. Oh, and I got a Feliway diffuser yesterday, so we'll see if that helps Minnie relax. Shee-it, those things are expensive--lucky I had a $25 gift card to cut the cost a little.

My Flickr account has been "pro", which was originally free with my AT&T Internet service, but now AT&T has changed the rules and my Flickr Pro account is going to revert to not-Pro in February--unless I want to renew Pro for 25 smackers per year. Spiffy. There go all my handy pic sets (all but 3, anyway), and apparently I won't be able to see all my pix, although they'll all still be there. (Huh? Yeah, I don't get it, either.) Guess I'll take a closer look at Picasa or hunt down some other online photo-storage outfit. Sorry, but I'm cheap when it comes to frivolities like a place to store my pix online.

The light of the full moon and the relatively mild temperature last night was too much for Minnie to resist--she wanted out at bedtime, then didn't come back before I had to zonk, so she spent the night outside. And I got to sleep until I'd had my fill. Man, it was soooooo nice....

Friday, December 12, 2008

What will I find...

...when I get home? For the past few days, Minnie has demanded to go out for a second time in the morning and wound up spending the whole day outside until I get home from work. I'm not nuts about this, but it's part of our "agreement"--I let her out whenever she wants, if the weather's anywhere near decent, and she doesn't go wacko on my furniture or person as a result of cabin fever. It's been dang cold this week--especially Tuesday--but she's doing fine outside. And, I must admit, I haven't had to worry about her peeing anywhere inappropriate.

Actually, I think she likes going out to play with her new friend, Shadow, a long-haired black cat and a relatively new visitor to my house & yard. They touch noses in a friendly way and romp around through leaves together. I don't know what else, of course, since I can't watch them all day; maybe they nap together, too. I have cat houses (well, small dog houses) with blankets in the garage for that purpose.

Today, however, Minnie wanted back inside when she heard me getting ready to leave for work. Earlier, I had noticed her sitting out by the carport as if waiting for something...or someone...like Shadow. He didn't turn up, so she wanted back in for the day.

Of course, I could be completely anthropomorphizing the situation. But it's kind of a sweet thought, that Minnie might have found a buddy to play & nap with. I'm afraid her mom isn't a very interesting playmate--the old broad gets tired.  :)

Anyway, I hope being inside all day doesn't activate Minnie's peeing problem just as it was backing off again.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another stab at fitness

Believe it or not, we have an exercise report today: I did an hour of it last night. No kidding. If I keep doing this new thing for a month--instead of quitting after two weeks, like I usually do--I'll go into it more here. Otherwise, I'll just hang my head in shame and slink off into the sunset, casting a rather wide shadow.  :)

"Whatcha readin'?"

We have two more books in progress. My breakfast book now is Just After Sunset by Stephen King, a collection of his short stories. I like short stories, and I like ol' Steve, so how could you go wrong? OK, sometimes he could use a bit more editing--as famous as he is, it sometimes seems that editors are afraid to touch his Immortal Prose. But this is a good batch of stories by a mostly excellent author.

BTW, if you used to like King, but feel "his cheese done slipped off his cracker" in the last decade or so, you might try Blaze, a fairly recent publication--it really is very good, like his earlier work (not surprising, since it's based on an early short story that was chucked in the drawer for ages). The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is also very good, with plenty of realistic texture.

At bedtime, I've been reading Chiefs by Stuart Woods, my first encounter with this author. Those of you old enough may recall that Chiefs was made into a TV miniseries way-long-years ago. I liked the series then, and I'm enjoying the book now. I may have to look up some more of this author's work.

Reruns, oy...

Well, spiffy, we're back to tiny pee clumps in the litterbox and frequent urgency on Minnie's part. Lord, I hope she doesn't start peeing on the couch/carpet again. I sure wish I knew what she's so stressed about--it's not like I had repairmen in again over the weekend. She's still taking antibiotics from the first round of this nonsense; maybe it's time to add a Feliway diffuser to the mix.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Let us now praise...Freecycle!

Freecycle is one of the coolest Internet ideas ever. It works through Yahoo! Groups, so it's a mailing list, and its purpose is to keep good stuff out of the landfills that could be reused by someone--basically, "one man's trash is another man's treasure." If you have something you don't need that could still be useful to someone else, you offer it on your local Freecycle Yahoo! Group list. If you want something, you ask for it on the list. Like this:
  • OFFER: baby clothes OR mop head OR rocker/recliner OR just about anything else (Location)

  • WANTED: women's size 8 boots OR music stand OR queen size bed OR whatever (Location)
I've seen anything and everything offered or requested on my local Freecycle group: furniture, clothes, old magazines, bikes, cars that don't run, cars that do run, machines that sorta run, Halloween costume parts, concert tickets, canning jars, dishware, cookware, whatever-ware, even pets (although you should be very careful about that, to make sure your pet finds a good home). You list your location in parentheses at the end of your subject line so people know generally where they'll have to go to pick up your offered whatsit. Sometimes people post pictures of the whatsit they're giving away, but more often they don't (it's not eBay, after all).

Members who are interested in what you have to offer reply to your email and you arrange a time for them to pickup your whatsit. Or if you spot an offer you're interested in, you reply to that person to see if it's still available, and if they pick you (because other people may be emailing about that whatsit, too), you ask when you can pick it up. All very easy. It can be as secure as you want, too--you can always arrange to deliver your Freecycled whatsit at a neutral location rather than at your house.

Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (bless 'em!) and membership is free. To sign up, search Yahoo! Groups with keywords "freecycle" and the name of your town, or go to the main Freecycle website at http://www.freecycle.org/ and either type your city & state in the search box or click "Browse Groups" above the search box.

It's a great way to get otherwise-useful crap out of your house! And, hey, if there's not a Freecycle group in your town, maybe you can start one. Go to Freecycle.org to find out how.  :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Clean winner

This is the stuff that worked--my couch no longer smells like cat pee, hallelujah! It doesn't smell too badly of chemicals, either, which is a nice plus. And that smell will fade, I'm sure. It's Woolite carpet & upholstery cleaner for pet stains/odors + oxygen--some great long name like that.

Minnie continues to improve. There were no pee clumps in the litterbox this morning, which is back to normal for her (Minnie prefers to do her business outside).

Update 12/7: Turns out there was a lot more stinkiness on the carpet around the couch, so I had to shove the whole works to the other side of the room and use one of those spray carpet cleaners on it that you vaccuum up after it sits awhile. NOW the smell is gone!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Improvement

Minnie's bathroom problem is much improved after almost a week on antibiotics. There were two normal-sized pee clumps in the box this morning.

Everycat tells me that bad stress can prompt an inflamation of the bladder in girl kitties, and Minnie's problem did arise immediately after I had the repairmen in to work on the furnace. Her favorite hiding place is under the furnace, so I guess she thought she had nowhere safe to go. Silly cat, there are two beds in the house, plus a couch with a nice hiding space behind it! Maybe she needs something she can crawl into and (figuratively, anyway) shut the door behind her, something well padded to block out some sound, with a flap or something she can burrow under. I've probably just invented something that doesn't exist, but I'll research cat furniture for something that looks like a portable hidey-hole.

The couch Minnie peed/leaked on has also improved, although I'll reserve final judgment on the remedy until I've had a chance to flop on it for a while this evening. Alas, the Nature's Miracle did not cut the mustard (or the stench), so I tried something else by Woolite. I'll let you know if it really worked.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Really tired of this subject...

...but there you are, we've got pee in the news again. Minnie sprayed my couch, or leaked on it somewhere, or some damn thing to make it stink. I slathered it with Febreeze last night and Nature's Miracle today, and I hope one or both of them help. I found lots of suspicious spots on the couch, but I can't tell in daylight whether they're actually pee. I'll have to wait and go over the couch after dark with my UV light. Anyway, I sprayed N.M. on all suspect areas and I hope it improves things.

On the kitty front, there were no tiny pee clumps in the litterbox after last night, which means Minnie never felt the urgency (unless she did it on my couch, grrr), so maybe she's getting better.

I really hate the smell of cat pee.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Today on "As the Pee Flows"...it doesn't

Well, it does a little, but certainly not a normal amount. Minnie has taken to sitting in her litterbox for quite a while, but doing only a tiny little pee. And often she'll come back a few minutes later to try again, only to do very little or nothing again. She doesn't seem to be in pain, but she's vocal and restless, so, just in case it was something bad, I took her to the vet yesterday. She was not thrilled by this, especially since Mom had to sort of ambush her to get her in the carrier. The vet said her bladder felt normal and maybe she just has a bladder infection, which girl kitties tend to get now & then (not unlike girl humans).

After her exam, Minnie got back in her carrier without complaint. No doubt, she just wanted to get right the hell away from all the poking & prodding!

We came away from the vet with a liquid antibiotic, a general "don't worry" message, and a recommendation to change her food to something with a urinary health formula (Science Diet or Eukanuba is what he recommended). Anyone have any thoughts on the subject of urinary health food for kitties?

Minnie's been a very good girl about slurping up all her medicine so far. Of course, I serve it with her all-time favorite stinky meat, Fancy Feast Elegant Medleys turkey goop. I hope she gets well soon, because I spotted a dot of urine with some blood in it in an inappropriate place this morning. Poor baby....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another spraying incident

If a female cat sprays once, it might be a fluke--some territorial thing that can be overlooked because she did it outside. If it happens again--this time inside--that could mean trouble.

Yesterday, I had some repairmen in the house and Minnie was just going apeshit, totally freaked out and running all over the place looking for escape or a hiding place or something. She did zip outside once when a repairman went out to look at something, but she stopped dead in her tracks because there was a truck and a bunch of guys doing noisy things in the alley. She was caught between a rock and a hard place! She reluctantly went back into the house and resumed running hither & yon.

Sometime after the repairmen left and I went off to work (so I could pay for said repairmen), Minnie sprayed a bag of (non-smelly) trash I'd left in the kitchen to take out later. And I didn't discover it until this afternoon, when I finally got around to dealing with the trash. I'd wondered why she was sniffing the kitchen floor so intently last night.

It gives me the heebie-jeebies to think I tracked through cat pee in the kitchen and maybe trailed it all through the house. *shudder* Needless to say, I mopped the kitchen thoroughly today after I got that trash bag out...and the rug next to it, which scored an indirect hit. The rest of the house, I'm not going to think about. I don't smell any cat pee, anyway.

OK, so now I have a new cat rule: When Minnie gets so extremely freaked out like that, PUT HER OUTSIDE, at least until the "danger" is past and she's maybe done her spraying on the fence. Because, apparently, spraying is her new I'm-totally-unhinged-with-fright reaction.

It really makes me wonder what I'm going to do with her next March or April when Bro-in-law & Sis & I start demolishing my bathroom to remodel it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Whatcha readin'?"

My breakfast book at the moment is The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen. I'm enjoying the mystery part, which takes place both in the present and in 1880s Boston, but the love-story part is a bit tedious. That's probably just me, though--I've become a bit crotchety on the subject over the years. I like this book well enough to hunt up other titles by this author, though.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Gimme, gimme, gimme...

Everybody wants a freakin' bail-out. I didn't get a bail-out when I was 45 grand in debt, but maybe I'm just snarking....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

All's well

Minnie's bathroom problem finally cleared up by itself. I've been watching her food and treats very closely lately, making sure there's not too much of either one going into her mouth. As it is with computers, so it is with cats: GIGO (garbage in, garbage out).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Be alert! The world needs more lerts.


Red alert!
Originally uploaded by lasmyth
It's high time I put up a photo of my lovely Minnie-cat.

New Year's Day--just a month and a half away--is Minnie's official birthday, or "gotcha" day, the first day of the month she took up residence in my home. She'll be officially five years old then; her actual age is just a guess in that neighborhood. It's hard to believe she's been with me for nearly three years. She's got her moods, like any cat (or any human), but she's almost always a sweetie, and a right pig for scritches...especially at 5:30 a.m. or so, when she senses me coming up reluctantly from sleep in anticipation of the alarm going off.

Anyway, I took this photo a few weeks ago while shooting pix for eBay auctions--I caught her just as she spied someone at the door and went on Red Alert. Click on the pic to "biggify" it on my Flickr site. Plus you'll find three other pix of Minnie, this time squaring off against her archenemy, Leo the Pee Monster.  :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting a little concerned

Minnie's been having bathroom difficulties lately. I had bought her a different kind of treat because I wasn't able to find her usual Dentabites at WalMart anymore and the new treat (tartar-control Temptations, beef flavor) gave her the runs. Dentabites are by Temptations, too, but they're a chlorophyll treat that really improves cat breath. They are kitty-approved in our household.  :)

I found the Dentabites at PetSmart last Saturday, but Minnie's still a little "loose". I don't know what else might be bugging her innards. I've tossed all the "suspect" kitty treats, and I know she's eating the same food as she was before she started having problems. She gets Purina ProPlan weight-management chicken-&-rice, plus a little of the ferals' Cat Chow (she likes the extra fat, I'm sure!), plus a spoonful of Friskies salmon wet food in the morning. Same as ever. How long does it take to shake off treat-related diarrhea?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"Whatcha readin'?"

My breakfast book lately is An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear. This is the fifth book in the Masie Dobbs series about a young woman in the years after the Great War. She's a psychologist/investigator now, making her own way in the world. During WW I, she was a nurse stationed in France, and that experience follows her everywhere. It's an excellent series, full of sensory detail from post-World War I England. This book in particular is quite absorbing--it has made me late to work on several mornings!  :D  The first book in this series is titled Masie Dobbs; you'll want to start there.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Layers like an onion...

I don't know whether to ascribe my packing style to OCD or being an old Girl Scout, but it sure elicits some funny feedback from people who buy stuff from me on eBay. One fellow years ago said his purchase was "packed to withstand a nuclear blast!" Today, I got this one: "GOSH HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRAP THESE ITEMS BUT THANKS AAAAAAAAA++++++++++".  :D  I believe that buyer was happy with the results.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cat food follow-up

I still don't know why my ferals stopped eating--or, rather, slowed way down--but I suspect it might have been the old plastic food shelter I put over their food bowls. I've been using this one a long time, and any cat owner knows how plastic absorbs smells. Well, this one has had to absorb the extra smells of Leo the Pee-Monster spraying it now & then to assert his "ownership" of the property (otherwise known as my backyard). How would you like to eat where someone else has peed? I know I wouldn't!

I checked the food many times, to be sure--there were no bugs in it (the ants have gone to ground now that the weather's turned cold, and I keep out slugs with a perimeter of salt around the food shelter), no weird smells, no effluvia from sick kitties (a problem I had before when poor Mr. Black was deteriorating on his way to the Rainbow Bridge). And my research about Purina confirms that there hasn't been any contamination of their dry food (they had to withdraw only one type of moist dog food, I think).

So the problem must be the old plastic food shelter. I bought another big storage bin this weekend and will get it fixed up as a new food shelter soon. It's been pretty windy the last couple of days, which blows crud into the food and water.

Oh--the cats are eating again, although the food still doesn't dwindle as fast as it used to. Maybe some of my ferals found someone else to mooch off.  :D

Thursday, October 30, 2008

OK, this is odd...

For some reason, my feral cats have stopped eating--or, anyway, they're not eating much. I'm putting out the same food as always (Purina Cat Chow), I cleaned their bowls, I knocked the crud out of the inside of their food shelter, but the food barely dwindles, as if there's something wrong with it. I hope Purina isn't caught up in the tainted Chinese food scandal now. Guess I better check....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Minnie vs. the Nazis

Put a sheet of paper down in the middle of a football field, and sooner or later, a cat will come along and sit on it. New things to sit on are just irresistible to the feline heart...which explains why my lovely cat Minnie is sitting on a Nazi flag in this photo. No, she hasn't gone skinhead, and neither have I--I'm just selling this thing for a little-old-lady friend of my sister. The lady's late husband brought the flag back from Europe after WWII, and it was recently caught up in a massive house-cleaning.

As you can see, Minnie knew exactly what to hand those Nazis. In the pic below, you can see her giving that flag what-for! (I shooed her off immediately, of course, since it's not mine and I have to sell it!)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Whatcha readin'?"

Over breakfast, I've been reading Tell Me Where It Hurts, by Nick Trout, an English vet transplanted to the U.S. early in his career. It's really interesting, and he's a funny guy. I have a little trouble following the "current" patients in among anecdotes about past events, but what da heck--I like all the critter stories.

Also, if you remember Roger Corman's Night of the Living Dead with fondness, you'll love Zombie Haiku. A coworker loaned me this book yesterday and it's a scream. Really--there was quite a lot of screaming. (Well, you know how zombies are, always snacking on the living.) And all in haiku, except for a little narrative at the beginning and end. Very original!

At bedtime, I've been rereading an old Cat Who... and a James Herriot book. I need something more boring, though--I've had a helluva time trying to sleep lately (yeah, and when is it different??). Maybe I'll take up philosophy. That oughta inspire snores....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cool stuff

Very cool tattoo spotted on a Burger King clerk: a bar of music winding four times around her arm.

New visitor

A new kitty has shown up to snack at my ferals' feeding station, a middling-sized orange & white cat. I haven't determined its gender yet--it's very wary and quick to get away when it sees me, so I haven't had a good look at its nether parts. I'm calling this newcomer K.P. (for "Kitchen Patrol") because he/she always cleans up the spilled food around the bowls. Waste not, want not! I'll try to get a photo soon.

That makes three cats I need to trap. I really need to do that before the weather turns much colder, as they'll have to spend a night in my garage in a trap before my KittiCo-type contact can take them to the vet for neutering. Neither of those prospects are fun for the cats in question, of course, but if you feed, you have to spay/neuter; otherwise, the feral population just explodes and you're really not helping them.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Uh oh....

Saw a rather disturbing thing yesterday afternoon--my female cat, Minnie, sprayed the fence in the backyard. The neighbors were mowing and weed-eating at the time, so there was a lot of racket going on, plus there were at least two ferals in my yard at the time, so I hope Minnie was just freaked out by all the noise and felt the need to mark her territory. (It was the fence between us and the noisy neighbors that she sprayed.) I've never seen her spray before, nor found any suspicious spots in the house, so maybe it was a one-time occurrence.

I've heard that some female cats do spray, and she is a very dominant kitty--she puts her paw down with the visiting ferals and lets them know she's in charge. Hopefully, she won't make a habit of spraying. I really think it was just all the noise...I hope.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stuff I learned last weekend

To wit:
  • "Condo" is not necessarily synonymous with "luxury." On the other hand, if it is accompanied by the word "free," it is plenty luxurious.

  • Wedding dresses have no pockets, so if the bride has to carry the groom's ring, where will she keep it? Three guesses, but you'll only need one!

  • It is possible to forget almost everything about swimming (after, say, a 20-year layoff) and still have a great time in a pool.

  • It is also possible to have a great time in a pool despite being 40 or 50 pounds heavier than the last time you wore a swimsuit.

  • With lovely greenery comes monster humidity.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Not quite as dry as usual...

The area where I live is normally pretty dry--not as arid as, say, Las Cruces, NM, where my sister and I once spent almost an entire, busy, tea-slugging, blistering-hot day not peeing at all because the place was so dry our bodies refused to turn loose of any moisture. Anyway, it's pretty dry here; we get an average of 18" of precipitation per year. Not yesterday, oh my goodness no--in the space of 24 hours, we got around eight (that's 8!) inches of rain, and the landscape is way too flat around here to handle that much rain in so short a timespan. Playa lakes filled to capacity, businesses in the worst-hit areas flooded, cars were swept off the road, water rushed in torrents at every intersection, and nearly every street had developed twin rivers running down either side. A guy from my office spent three grueling hours trying to get home yesterday; his little old Ford Aspire (which aspires to be a real car) stalled four times and was almost washed away once. He called in to work this morning, determined not to drive again until the city dried out sufficiently that he wouldn't be taking his life in his hands. Turned out he didn't have to--every school in the city was closed, including the university where we work! Now that's a bad rainy spell!

I had no real trouble driving home yesterday, unlike my workmate, although every loonie in town was out in force, driving as if the streets were bone-dry--darting in front of other cars & so forth. Lord, people are dumb....I drove like an old lady all the way home and was very relieved when I got there.

So I heard on the clock radio this morning that my place of business was closed for the day and I happily snuggled in for another two hours of sleep (well, dozing, anyway--my cat was eager to get outside for her morning constitutional, since the rain had finally stopped, and she did her best to stave off the sandman by meowing or walking across me or both every few minutes). After breakfast, I settled in for some online game-playing and email. Got the email taken care of, but then something in my CPU went crackle-pop-burn and that was it for the computer. Unable to fix the problem myself, I had to hang on the phone with India for three hours. The verdict is probably a dead hard drive (I've never had one go bad on me all at once, so I can't verify that that's correct). Then I spent another fun three hours getting my old laptop (which I'd almost completely wiped in preparation for selling it) to work for me again, including loading a year's worth of updates. It was a rather frustrating day, but everything's working now--well, except for my desktop PC, and that'll work in a few days. And the fix is within warranty, thank goodness.

Poor Minnie, she hasn't gotten much attention today. I'll make it up to her with laser tag & snuggles tonight.  :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

New remodeling plans


I updated my scratchy old floorplan and elevations for the bathroom remodeling project, putting things where they are now intended to go and adding some color for reference. You can see them all on my Flickr site.  :)

The light sconces won't have a square white border around them, of course--that's just the background of a JPG I placed in the Illustrator document.

The colors in the accent tile/paint areas aren't exact, of course, but they'll be somewhere in that range (think roughly Jim Beam, chocolate, and French vanilla ice cream... and try not to puke at the thought of those foods all together). The pattern of the accent paint is totally off; I don't think I'll have a good bead on what it'll look like until we actually start painting it!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Costs up, but still OK

After measuring the floorspace for tile, the baseboard length for that, adding some stuff, dropping other stuff, & generally tweaking the numbers on my list of bathroom remodeling supplies, my estimated total so far is a little under $2,200--quite a bit higher than before, but still under my $2,500 cap. So we're OK. And several questions have been answered, including where I'm going to get a frosted-glass window (order it from Home Depot, no biggie, and now I know how to measure my existing window properly, although I have to tear the wooden trim off to do it).

One other question of world-shaking importance is resolved, too--I've found an adapter that will allow me to replace my long-gone tub overflow plate with the little white cutie pictured here. Just makes ya smile to look at it, doesn't it?!  :D

Oh, and I ordered the adapter. That's Remodel Item #3.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Remodel item #2

I love eBay--now it's yielded the Avalon tub/shower faucet set including valve. The total cost, including shipping, was about $10 less than the cost of the trim set only (not including shipping) that I was watching elsewhere...and I didn't realize until tonight that it was only trim, so I'm glad I spotted this complete set on eBay. The lowest price I found for a comparable set in a quick search tonight is $90 more than I just paid for the set from eBay.

Hey, if I could have bought both faucet sets locally, I would have. I checked first.

That's all I can do in September, though--no more deals this month!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Everything's cool

I spent a long time last weekend digging up every little piece of material I'll need to redo the bathroom, from big vanity modules to tiny shelf brackets, and I've plugged in all the costs I've collected. The total is a bit under $1,800--a lot better than I was expecting! I still need total costs for the floor tiles and almond wall tiles (gotta measure square footage), sheetrock (number of sheets required), cutting the glass shelves, the frosted vinyl-clad window (which I haven't found and will have to order, hopefully through Home Depot), baseboards (gotta measure that, too), incidental materials (nails, screws, wiring, etc.) which I probably won't know about until the day before we start demo, and labor for a tile guy. But I still don't think it'll go beyond $2,500. Not much beyond, anyway. (KNOCK WOOD!)

Yep, we can do this next March.  :)

I have no idea what I'm going to do about my kitty during all this remodeling--she's going to be so freaked out! Maybe I can board her with my regular cat-sitter, just until all the holes are filled in and the paint's dry. Will have to think on that.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Here come the sweats

I'm starting to get a little nervous about what this bathroom redo is going to cost--I just added up the things in my Amazon remodeling wish list and it's over $750...for just those few things. If I cut $100 out of my debt-paying fund every month for supplies between now and March (when I was planning to have the work done), I can't even cover the wish list. And that doesn't even include the tile, paint, lumber, new window, labor for whatever professionals are required, etc....Maybe I should put off this project for another year so I can, over that time, buy more of the supplies with cash. The idea of piling more debt on my credit cards makes me uneasy, especially when I'm so close to have the whole mess paid off.

As Fagin said in Oliver!, "I think I'd better think it out again."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A collection starts with one thing...

I won the sink faucet for my bathroom remodel on eBay and saved $50 off retail--YAY! I was going to get the light sconces first, but this faucet turned up at such a good price, I didn't want to miss it. I'll be on the lookout for the matching shower/tub set now.  :)  If it doesn't turn up next month, I'll get the sconces then.

Haven't added up all the costs of materials yet, because I haven't figured yet how many square feet of floor & wall tiles we'll need. When I do figure the cost, it'll probably scare the bejesus out of me.

The walls were going to be pale yellow, but we've changed to Navajo white to go better with the tiles we picked out. Also, all the towel bars will be white ceramic (haven't picked out a style yet) instead of the rustic bronze that goes with my faucets. Just the two faucets (sink & shower) should be enough "jewelry" in this small bathroom.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tile and faucets

All the tilesAvalon shower setHere are pix of the different tiles I'll be using in my remodeled bathroom. The big tile is going on the floor; the one in this pic is a 6" sample I bought, but the actual tile will be 13" x 13". It's called Tuscany Gold. The plain 4" tile is almond; that will be the base color in the tub/shower area and around the vanity. And the sparklies in the lower right of the pic are 1"-square glass tiles with rough edges in 3-4 different colors. They come assembled in a one-foot square on mesh backing. They cost a bit, but we're only going to be using 8-9' of it as a horizontal color band in the tub/shower area. You can get a better look at the mosaic tile on my Flickr site.

Avalon sink faucetThe two other pix are the hardware I've picked out: Price Pfister, style Avalon, finish Rustic Bronze. They should look great with the tile colors.  :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Release the hounds!

I'm totally wiped, but it's been a very productive weekend so far. I've had visitors in the persons of my bathroom designer and contractor (otherwise known as sister A. and bro-in-law V.) and we finally have a color scheme! We couldn't make any progress until that was established; now I can start collecting stuff for the Big Remodel next spring. We found a gorgeous multicolored glass mosaic tile for the accent color band in the tub/shower area, A's got a great idea for a matching color band on the painted walls, and I've chosen a finish for the sink faucet and tub/shower hardware. V. checked out the floor and found no "squishy" areas that would need repairs, plus he said the rusty spot on my art deco iron tub isn't so bad, after all, so I get to keep it. And A. & I found two modular vanity pieces that can be put together with some small, hand-built shelves to make a 44" vanity, the top of which will be made from Hardiboard (I think that's what it's called) with a nice, old-fashioned white oval sink plopped into it and tile over the rest matching the base-color tile in the tub/shower area. We also found a great tile for the floor. V. also says we can reverse the bathroom door so that it's hinged on the right side instead of the left, and will open flat against the water heater closet door (which is dead space most of the time) instead of right up against the vanity (which is tremendously in the way and just makes the bathroom look smaller).

This afternoon, after returning from an extended browse through Home Depot to collect prices on various supplies, A. & I used blue painter's tape to mark off areas in the bathroom where the various paint, tile, and other areas will be. It's going to look wonderful! The best room in the house!

Which, of course, means I'll have to fix up the rest of the house.  :D  Well, I was planning to do that, anyway...although not soon!

Tomorrow, I'll knock out some new sketches of the rearranged remodeling plan, plus pix of the tile samples we brought back, along with any pix I can find of all the stuff we picked out at Home Depot, etc. And I'm going to redo my budget to include a small allowance for remodeling supplies each month, which won't hurt my debt payoff amount too much and will help me keep the remodeling costs on a cash basis as much as possible (because we all know the evils of credit cards).

This is so much fun!  :)  Come back for colors and tile tomorrow!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oil man promotes ditching oil as energy source

This is interesting. Famous oil man T. Boone Pickens is now pushing American self-sufficiency via wind power, natural gas, and solar power, rather than continuing to drain the country paying for oil so that Middle Eastern sheiks can get richer and tighten their stranglehold on us. Pickens doesn't seem to have a political agenda (or maybe it's just not obvious to me). Anyway, T. Boone's "plan" is worth a read.

Oil is one addiction we, as a nation, could definitely stand to break, for both environmental and national security reasons.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

B-day bliss

Life is good today. Not only did I get shrimpies for lunch, two very nice people gave me a total of $40 to spend at Barnes & Noble. What excellent prezzies!

Now I need to go home and work off my shrimp fettucini.  :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Not older--better

In ten days, I'll be 47. If I have to get older, I want shrimp for lunch that day. Screw the diet, it's my birthday. Nyah.

Hey, I saw a Prius in my very own "hood" yesterday! (That has nothing to do with my birthday, although I do want one after my current car is paid off.) I don't know whether the owner was a resident or a visitor, but I was glad to see that someone around here digs hybrids. Higher MPG isn't the only goal; cleaning up the air one vehicle at a time is important, too. Cheaper fuel cost is a great bonus, though!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Notes, various

Bathroom notes
We've decided to ditch the ceiling's acoustic tile altogether and put up new sheetrock--that tile is gross, anyway. And the new window will be all frosted glass, so I'll be able to ditch the blinds, as well. And the toilet lid I was thinking of changing to a color is staying white so as not to "draw the eye down and clutter up the 'openness' we are trying to achieve," sez my personal designer (sister A.). Sounds good by me.

Still haven't decided about the flooring, but I know the walls will be pale yellow except for a broad stripe around the room (including the tub/shower area tiles) to visually lengthen the room. The yellow paint is about the only known quantity at this point. But, hey! that's some progress! What color the stripe will be, I dunno yet. It depends on the colors of tiles we find while roaming around the home improvement stores.

Cat notes
Since I restarted the feral feeding program, I decided to take another shot at flea-doping Leo--and I got him. First time in two months, and I had to sneak up on him, of course. Now he can rub on me all he wants.

Minnie, that adventurous soul, has been spending a lot of time outside despite the hot, muggy weather. Why anyone in a permanent fur coat would want to hang out in a steam bath when they could lounge around in a nice cool house is beyond me. I guess she's just tough (or more interested in stuff outside). She also spends a lot of time outside when it's bone-chillingly cold.

Health notes
Haven't lost an ounce yet. In fact, I think I've gained another pound. *le sigh* Guess I better try harder.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Cavin' in here, boss!"

OK, I caved--the ferals' feeding station is in operation again. Yes, I'm a wimp, the limpest noodle in the bowl. Here's a photo of my boss, Leo, who has been pitching his piercing meows at me everytime he sees me, whether I'm inside or out. "FEED ME, FEED ME, FEED ME!" OK, so SHUT UP already! You'll notice in the picture that he fairly glows with demonic energy.

So much for independence from the stink of cat pee--I'm sure it'll come back along with most of my furry visitors.

Well, Minnie made it difficult, for one thing, because she sometimes doesn't come back from her morning constitutional in time for me to get her inside before I have to leave for work, which means she's stuck outside all day, which means she'll need food and water. Twice last week, I had to leave food and water outside--and I had to leave a lot, plenty for several cats, because otherwise Minnie wouldn't have gotten a bite all day. Leo lapped it up, of course, and took it as encouragement for a renewed attack upon my resolve (which was weakening already; I missed my feral kitties).

I'm not going overboard, though. One shelter, one food bowl, one water bowl--that's it. And if they want to fight about it, let 'em--I'm not breaking up fights anymore.

Anyway, I promised Leo's late big brother that I'd take care of him. And if one can't be relied upon to keep one's promises to dead cats, well, just what is the world coming to?!?

BTW, two points and a Kewpie doll to anyone who recognizes the origin of this post's homage-paying title. (Well, two points, anyway.)

Bathroom plan update

It turns out I won't be able to keep my current tub, after all--my bro-in-law, V. (who's probably going to be doing the work since he has beaucoups experience with it) says it's too rusted and trying to fix it would cost more than just replacing it. So I'll be getting a new iron tub (I don't like the plastic ones--they don't feel stable underfoot; makes me feel like I'm living in a motel room).

Also, my personal designer (sister A.) reminded me that the tall, narrow linen cabinet I was thinking about would mess up our goal of visually widening the bathroom space, so I'll be getting a slightly wider vanity instead, one that has shelves behind doors (instead of drawers and a sort-of useable space under the sink). I didn't know they made 'em like that. The wider vanity means I can get a wider medicine cabinet and put light sconces on either side instead of a light over the top. Nice....

It also turns out that an over-the-john cabinet can be recessed into the wall just like a medicine cabinet (well, of course!), so I can have extra storage there, too, without cutting too deeply into the space. Any amount of storage we can shoehorn into this little room is a great thing!

I took pix of my bathroom as-is and put them up on my Flickr page, along with three plans I drew yesterday while taking measurements. Now to start collecting goodies so they'll all be ready for my remodeler. Of course, that'll take quite a while, because I also have some debt left to pay off over the next several months, but I'll do what I can when I can. Just have to dial down my eagerness a bit.  :)  "All good things to those who wait...."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bathroom plan, short version

Sister A. whittled my scary-big list of remodeling tasks down to a list of work done in "layers," which sounds a lot less scary:
  1. Gut the bathroom down to the studs and subfloor. Send the tub to be refinished. Retain the toilet to be reset.
  2. Repair/replace subfloor as necessary and install new flooring.
  3. Reset toilet. (Sure hope these first three steps can be done in one day, or I'll have to rent a port-a-john!)
  4. Replace/repair electrical.
  5. Replace/repair plumbing.
  6. Install new vinyl-clad window and frame.
  7. Install new moisture-proof sheetrock.
  8. Reset tub.
  9. Tile tub area and set grab bars.
  10. Install new water heater closet door, medicine cabinet, vanity, and linen cabinet.
  11. Paint.
  12. Install new light fixtures.
  13. Install new towel bars, switch plate covers, cabinet knobs, and décor items.
Sounds easier, doesn't it? OK, maybe not, but it's shorter!

I've started compiling a list of goodies I want in my bathroom, thanks to Amazon's new Universal Wish List button, which allows you to collect wish list items from any online store. (Unsolicited plug, there.) I can put stuff from Home Depot & Lowe's & whoever else all in one place--very handy! Mom, you know how to find it.  :)

Today, I take pix and measurements. I'll post the pix on Flickr later.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Remodeling plans

Now that I can see the light at the end of the Debt Tunnel, I've started getting serious about remodeling my ugly, water-damaged bathroom, both for myself and for future sale of the house (way down the road). So far, I've got a list of work that needs to be done...and, boy, there's a bunch of it, more than I'd realized. Just as in programming a seemingly simple task, when you break it down into specific events, there's an amazing lot of 'em. Here's my list so far--and it doesn't even include color and design yet!

Bathroom Changes
  • remove ugly old brown masonite
  • replace drywall (there's probably water damage)
  • fix leak coming from outside window (to prevent more water damage)
  • remove carpet & replace with tile or vinyl
  • cover edge of hall carpet with metal carpet threshold (if necessary--not sure)
  • replace tub hardware (including built-in shower head); should match sink hardware (might have to replace sink faucet, too)
  • re-enamel rusty place on tub where a round metal thing (overflow drain cover?) used to go (want to keep tub, if possible)
  • remove wood trim around tub & replace with plastic trim or just caulk
  • tile tub/shower area
  • install safety bars in tub/shower area (cuz I ain't no spring chicken)
  • install beadboard halfway up wall in rest of room (maybe, if it doesn't make a small room look even smaller)
  • replace weird many-part door to water heater with a 1- or 2-part door (to look neater; just make from lumber & add door handle[s], since door will be an odd size) (Clarification: The space were the WH is used to be a linen closet with the WH up on a high shelf, of all silly things. But after the original WH died--and leaked all over my towels--I had the shelves taken out & the next WH put, sensibly, on the floor. Now, of course, there's no storage in the bathroom except for two little drawers in the vanity and the space under the sink with the broken floor where I keep a few cleansers & the litterbox-scooping stuff. My towels reside in the bottom drawer of my dresser.)
  • paint walls, trim, & new water heater door (off-white or pale yellow, probably)
  • take out rotten wood window sill over tub & replace with minimal plastic or other waterproof window frame
  • replace broken vanity with new one (including sink), possibly reaching from current right-hand point to wall at left (with sink in right half of vanity--not sure that's possible)
  • add narrow linen storage, either a tall unit to left of new same-size vanity or a short unit sitting on left end of new wider vanity
  • replace medicine chest & move it down to my (average) height (the person who installed the existing medicine chest must have been 7 feet tall!)
  • install light over medicine chest (the old one died & fell off the wall years ago)
  • replace ugly towel bars, switchplate, & drawer/door handles
  • replace ceiling light fixture with something that goes with new "look"
  • ditto towels, toothbrush holder, cup, etc.

Current Stuff to Keep
  • tub (just fix rusty area & add the hardware that goes there)
  • toilet
  • window
  • ceiling (maybe--see "Possible Repairs")

Possible Repairs
  • plumbing behind tub/shower wall
  • subfloor (check for rot)
  • update ancient wiring for light over medicine cabinet (it's weird in there)
  • ceiling has a leak stain; find/fix leak & replace ceiling tiles (might leave that for roof repair & insulation project later on)

Like I said, quite a bit to consider. Next stop: Home Depot for ideas about the vanity, hardware, and so forth...and some idea of how much the materials will cost. Labor is still up in the air.

There are other repair/remodeling projects coming later, but this one needs to be done first. I'd like to have the bathroom done after the last of my debt is paid off, but the tub faucet's growing leak might hurry things up a bit (it'd be stupid to replace the tub faucet before doing the remodeling, since it would all have to be torn up again later). I'll wait as long as the leak doesn't get too bad.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Magician cat


This pic turned up in my office email. Eat your heart out, David Copperfield!  :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Another little step

OK, two more accounts are now paid off courtesy of my unexpected refund from the debt consolidation people and the amount I'd budgeted for their usual draft which--YAHOO!--is not being drafted anymore. That leaves the last two credit cards. One of those will be paid off in the next two months. The other should be paid off by May 2009, barring unforseen expenses (knock wood!).

Friday, July 4, 2008

Sounds like thunder to me!

Poor Minnie, she does not like thunder and lightning, and tonight we have both--artificial, of course, this being the evening of July 4th, but that makes no difference to my little scaredy-cat. Just as she does during storms, she's hiding under the furnace from the banging of fireworks.

I must say, the banging seems louder than usual. Must be some hot new type of firecracker. Joy.

Missions accomplished

Mission #1
Well, we got 'em married off! Everybody was happy and the whole thing went off without a hitch--although the bride had some extremely nervous moments when the groom failed to materialize on cue; neither he nor the best man had heard the music they were supposed to come in on. They got it on the second playing of that particular song, though, and it all sounded seamless. On our "cue" song, the bride and I made our stately way up the aisle, me with a giant man's ring hidden on one thumb (lest I drop it), she with a bit of a quiver to her bouquet. When we got up to the groom, she whispered that he'd scared the daylights out of her--LOL! But everything went fine (although the giant ring had to go on his pinkie for now because his ring finger is even more giant).

After the wedding and lots of picture-taking, the wedding party headed home to change out of our monkey suits, then went back to the church for the tail-end of a Bible study class and the wedding reception afterward. Lots of people turned up, and a good time was had by all. Then the bride & groom headed off on their mini-honeymoon and I went back to their place in their other car to crash after all the excitement and sugar and waaaay too many people. I had a nice, relaxing night cat-sitting. I headed home about 11am the next day.

And now here I am raising an imaginary glass of champagne, wishing them all the luck in the world.  :)

Mission #2
On July 2nd, to my surprise and vast relief, I got an email from the debt consolidation company I signed up with five years ago saying that my June payment to them covered the LAST of my debt and, on top of that, I had a big fat refund check coming! No more huge drafts from my account! My money is mine again! Now I can hammer away at the debt that accumulated while I was forking out nearly half my income to pay off the big debt and had no savings--a much smaller debt that I should have paid off by May 2009. Then I'll be FREE!!!

By the way, in case you're considering letting a debt consolidation company clean up your mess for you, DON'T. Read my tale of woe first. If I had it to do over again (which I will never do), I'd control paying off my debt myself instead of delegating it to someone else. It'd be slow going, but at least it wouldn't wreck my credit rating.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Shoe place

Just in case anybody with a weird shoe size reads this blog, the specialty shoe outfit I mentioned in my last post is Maryland Square. And the flats I ordered fit great.

OK, T-minus-3 days to blast-off. I really do hope this re-marriage works. But guys are guys, and old guys don't change easily, if at all. I just don't want my sister getting stuck with all the "heavy lifting" and stress again.

But, hey, what do I know? I suck at relationships.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wedding finery

So this is going to be a church wedding, with the bride (my sister, A.) in a gorgeous, sparkly, champagne-colored formal dress and the groom in a snappy tux, which means I need to look decent (being a bridesmaid & all). Fortunately, I'm spared the usual hideous bridesmaid's dress and got to pick out my own togs. After much searching, I found a nice pantsuit in the fat ladies' section of a store at the mall (that shows you how desperate I got, that I'd set foot in the mall!). It's made of a nifty crinkly fabric (55% linen/45% rayon) with spots of beadwork and embroidery, and it looks pretty good on me (despite the fact that there's currently too much of me). It's turquoise, sorta--it has less green than what I think of as turquoise. Maybe electric blue? Anyway, it's bright, but not loud.

And, of course, one must have shoes to go with it. Nobody local carries my weird size, so I've had to express-mail two pairs of white dress shoes. Yes, I only need one, but the first pair of pumps was SO painful to wear (and not quite narrow enough) that the day after I received them, I picked out a different pair from a specialty outfit I've done a lot of business with, this time ordering flats, also white, also with a pointy toe, but not as pointy. I'll send the first pair back as soon as I confirm the second pair is present, accounted for, and fits.

I don't really have a shoe fetish, although I look at shoes rather a lot, and I have a permanent search set up on eBay for my size and favorite attributes (or, rather, the attributes I don't want). You try fitting a 9.5 narrow foot--9.5 AA or even AAA in pumps--and see if you're not a little obsessed with shoes!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Stranger than fiction

Try this sequence on for size:

1. A marries B.
2. After almost fifteen years, A and B split up and decide to divorce.
3. About three months later, the divorce is final.
4. About two weeks later, A and B REMARRY!

This is a real thing happening in my family right now. You can't make this stuff up.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Some people suck worse than I do

The human race does not deserve to survive, I swear. A few minutes ago, I yelled at a little girl across the street a while ago for throwing a kitten on the ground THREE TIMES--she tossed it once, the kitten came back to her, she tossed it harder, the kitten came back, then this same evil child raised the kitten OVER HER HEAD before throwing it down on the ground! I couldn't believe what I was seeing! I jumped out on my porch and yelled at her, "Hey, what's the matter with you, kid?! Don't be throwing that cat!" and the little psycho ducked into her house.

Maybe she won't do it again.

Yeah, because people are so good at heart.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

OK, so I suck, & here's why

I'm done feeding ferals. I've been cutting down on the amount of food I set out and the regularity with which I do it, and today I didn't set out food or water at all. Took the last remaining shelter cover down and brought the bowls in. Ignored Leo when he came meowing at me for food and/or water and/or attention. I guess I'm done TNR'ing, too, although I'll keep my borrowed traps for a while just in case.

Why quit feeding? I'm tired. Tired of the constant mess, the cat fights, cats spraying all around the back porch (and the stench in summertime, OMG), fighting slugs, roaches, & ants, occasional cat poop inside the food shelters (who the hell shits where they eat???), and Leo screeching at me every time I put a foot out the door....I'm just tired of it. The low Z levels in my head might have something to do with it (that's temporary--a new, larger prescription is en route, hallelujah), but anyway, I'm done. I've fed ferals for five or six years now and I guess that's the limit of my do-goodness. Besides, I saw Leo quite far afield yesterday and I'm sure, now, that he goes other places where people set out food and water for feral kitties.

Like I said, I suck. But I'm still done.

All the ferals have disappeared, including Leo. It doesn't take long when the weather's yucky-hot and there's no big water bowl set out for them.

I hope Leo finds someone else he trusts enough to get headrubs from. But it would be quite amazing if he ever trusted another human again.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Blue days

Having a little round of the blues during which I don't feel like doing anything, including the exercise I had started. I quit taking the extra half Z--the extra cost was worrying me. I hated counting my pills and worrying whether I'd have enough to last until the next budgeted purchase date. I wasn't sure it was helping, anyway, but maybe it was. And I feel fat (possibly because I am). No problem spending money, though--I do that with great ease, even when I can't afford it. Sheesh....The car repair bill recently didn't help, of course, but the rest was my own damn fault, as usual.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Skeeters 2

I put the cats' food shelter covers back on the same day I took them off because rain was rolling in. The next day, I bought an electric mosquito killer. Hung it inside the garage at first, for lack of anywhere better, then had a handyman put up a hook on the outside of the garage so the skeeter killer could hang out there and probably do more good. Naturally, we had an absolute deluge of a rainstorm that day which started 20 minutes before I got off work and damaged the skeeter killer. I had it up & running for all of two days--grrr! Fortunately (miraculously, really), the manufacturer said I can mail it to them and they'll ship a replacement, so that's underway. In the meantime, of course, we still have skeeters. I haven't noticed them in the food shelters again, just munching on me when I go outside. Will keep an eye on things.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Skeeters

Well, this is an awkward development: When I was taking out food for the feral kitties last night, a squadron of mosquitos came out of nowhere and started chowing down on me. This morning, in the light, I found out where they came from: inside the food shelters! They were all bunched up in a corner in one of them. In all the years I've been feeding cats from those shelters, I've never had that happen. I took the shelters off this morning and killed a bunch of skeeters, but now the cats' food is open to wind & rain & (once the salt blows away) slugs. I need to find out if there's a way to keep mosquitos away that doesn't involve leaving a special candle burning (not a good idea around kitties if I'm not there to mind it).

Also, I'd better get the holes in my screen door patched quick if I ever want to leave the glass door open again. Skeeters are very small and cat claws leave nice big "doors" for them.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Healthy kitty

Minnie was back to her old self by the time I got home from work yesterday. I figured she just needed that extra rest to shake off the effects of her many vaccinations. It's too bad ya gotta make 'em feel bad for a little while to ensure that they're protected against distemper, rabies, FIP, etc., but that price is pretty low, all things considered.  :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Stuff I learned about eBay selling over the years

I ran across this in an old email I wrote to a coworker and thought it would be useful to post here.
  • Look up items like the one you want to sell on eBay in the completed listings and see what they've sold for recently, then pick a reasonable starting price. eBay charges two fees--one for the listing itself and one based on final sale price--so remember to keep that in mind when picking a start price; you don't want to wind up eating any cost by starting too low. Don't start too high, either--it discourages bids. Shoot for a happy medium!  :)

  • Pack up your items (separately, if you'll be selling them separately) and weigh them so you can calculate the cost of shipping by various methods. There may be a scale at your local post office that you can use if you don't have one at home. Priority Mail is more expensive than Parcel Post, but it's also more dependable. If your items are very breakable, require insurance. State the weight of the item and cost of required insurance in your eBay copy.

  • Get all the info you possibly can about your items and put it in your auction copy--remember, bidders can't pick up the items and check 'em out in person. Mention any problems, cosmetic or otherwise.

  • Write your auction copy ahead of time so you don't have to spend so long putting up your auctions. That also ensures that you've collected all the necessary information before you get on eBay.

  • Re: Priority Mail--they have a flat-rate box, which is supposed to be convenient, but it's also a helluva lot more expensive for the buyer (who has to pay for shipping). Personally, I prefer to use regular Priority Mail boxes and get my bidders the lowest possible shipping cost.

  • The best times to start auctions are, in order, Tuesday evening, Thursday evening, and Sunday afternoons. Don't ask me why. Also, sales slack off during the summer months, so take that into account if you're going to be selling a lot.

  • After the sale, ship promptly, send emails when you receive payment and again when you ship, leave positive feedback if it's deserved, and play nice!  :)  It's good for your rep.

  • eBay sellers are required to enter a credit card in order to register, I think--a checking account number might also do; it's been a long time since I registered--from which eBay listing and final value fees can be deducted. eBay will send you a notice when fees are due for payment, or you can set up for automatic draft.

  • Shipping internationally costs a lot more than shipping domestically. PayPal also charges more to process international payments. In my experience, those two facts wind up eating my lunch and I might as well have given away the item. I won't sell internationally again.

Post-poke trauma and horrible gas

Poor Minnie, she was not happy yesterday after her vet visit--I don't think she even slept with me all night, just hopped up for lovin' shortly before the alarm went off this morning. The rest of the time, she hid in the bedroom closet (and sometimes under the furnace, in a space accessible from the closet). She went back to the closet again this morning. I don't know if she's still not feeling well or what. She ate normally this morning and went out to play, but came back in early. She should be OK after a day's rest, though. She did get three vaccinations, after all--that'd put me off my feed, too.

I'm a little concerned about Leo. He seems fine, but he's looking rather skinny these days.

I noticed gas went up a few cents again yesterday and decided to top off my tank before the price really gets nasty on Memorial Day. Apparently, everybody else had a same idea. I had a heckuva time convincing the rather harried attendant that I wasn't the person who had just pumped $9 from the pump I went to. Guess the woman before me stiffed 'em. For what, two and a half gallons?? Some people have no manners.

I got seven gallons and it cost me $26-something. Unbelievable. I remember 28-cent/gal. gas a loooooooooong time ago. And 8-cent stamps. And an issue of Mad magazine for 75 cents or thereabouts.

Good gravy, I'm old....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vet visit

Minnie got a trip to the "stabby place" today, which she did not enjoy at all. She was pretty good, though--meowed her head off all the way there and all the way back, but she was still and fairly cooperative at the vet's, even though she got stuck four times. She got three vaccinations and a blood test for FIP, FIV, and FeLk. All tests were negative, which is a relief (she's an indoor/outdoor cat, so the risk is real, but she'd absolutely hate being kept indoors all the time, and I'd rather she be live happy than simply exist in sterile isolation). Mom gave her fishy treats after we got home, then she slunk off to hide under the furnace. Mom went back to work to collapse with a real live high-octane Dr. Pepper.  :P  Ah, the dark goddess, come back to me....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Stimulation time

Got my stimulus payment yesterday, so Minnie gets a trip to the vet next week for her every-two-year shots & tests. She'll be thrilled. And sometime today, I need to dose her and her outside brother, Leo, with flea stuff. I'll have to sneak up on both of them somehow; Leo is especially wary about it.

What else are we spending our guv'mint bucks on? A long overdue car wash, maybe some cool cotton shirts from Goodwill for the summer, and the rest goes to pay down my debt.

I'd love to pay someone else to mow the lawn, but that really is frivilous. Besides, I need the exercise.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Warm stinky meat

Minnie loves her stinky meat in the morning--especially anything fishy, especially salmon. For two or three mornings in a row, though, she was just nibbling at it, then covering it up. I don't blame her--the stuff seems gross to me, too. Willy, my first cat, preferred his stinky meat nuked briefly to take the chill off straight out of the fridge, so I did that for Minnie, too, for the first time yesterday...and she snarfed it all like it was the greatest thing since sliced bread (or sliced fish, as the case may be). It's just a little bitty bother for me & she loves it, so she can have it.  :)

Cover the plate with cling wrap (or one of those microwave plate covers) and nuke the little blob of stinky meat for a mere 6 seconds--that's plenty. Your cat will be yelling his or her head off in anticipation.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Copycat

This morning, Minnie followed Leo's lead and caught her very own bird. She proudly brought it to the glass back door and looked at me to be let in, but ungrateful Mom was not appreciative of her gift and refused to let her in with that bird in her mouth (she once brought a not-quite-dead bird into the house before I spotted it and her prey got loose and flapped all around the room before I could catch it!). Minnie walked around with this bird in her mouth awhile, then settled down where Leo had eaten his bird, and, whaddayaknow, here comes Leo. Minnie never ate her prize, oddly, and eventually Leo stole it away from her. I thought he was going to eat it right away, like he did the other bird, but he batted it around for a while as if it were a fuzzy mouse. Yuckola!

I hope these birds learn soon that they risk their lives getting too close to the ground in my yard.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nature red in tooth and claw

If I needed any evidence that Leo, the semi-feral cat who formerly shared my house (until he sprayed the kitchen), is getting along well outside, I had it yesterday evening: Leo supplemented his scientifically balanced Purina diet with a juicy little bird he'd caught. Needless to say, I did not stick around to observe the feast--I just made sure the bird was dead (and so couldn't be tortured) and left Leo to his bounty. Minnie, my house cat, who was inside at the time, sat by the glass back door fascinated at the sight of Leo's extra dinner...and probably wanting to get out there & swipe a bit for herself.

Cats are most definitely carnivores.

Oh, BTW, those purple flowering bushes I photographed and blogged last time are probably catmint. I still don't know what the red ones are.

Today, I washed out the little doghouses (peed-in, again), took out the winter bedding, and set them outside so the feral cats (including Leo the Pee Monster) can get out of the sun without having to resort to the horribly hot garage. I don't know how welcome or effective this will be, but I read it online somewhere and thought I'd try it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Spring has sprung

Here are some pretty flowers (or flowering bushes-- whatever) growing in the courtyard of my office building. I have no idea what they are (a green thumb I am not), but they're nice to look at out my window when I really should be working.  :)  This pic is on my Flickr site; there are more of today's courtyard pix there.

I actually got enough sleep this morning. I woke at 7-freakin'-a.m., but I felt refreshed. Unreal how rare that is. I can only assume that Minnie found something fascinating to occupy herself all night, or maybe she just took pity on me and let me have an entire night's sleep for once.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Meeting report

Well, the meeting between my cat Minnie and my sister's cat Sammi didn't exactly go smoothly. I really thought the trouble would come from Minnie's side (after all, she's known as the "scrappin' cat" at my vet's office), but Sammi demonstrated a crabby nature hitherto unsuspected in a cat who, up to now, has seemed to be the most laid-back feline on the planet (except for Ragdolls). Every time Sammi saw Minnie in the house or one of the ferals outside, she'd thrash her tail & hiss & make that "scat or I'll shred you!" warning growl. We tried introducing our two girls through the door of my sister's room (usually my office), we tried introducing them with Sammi out in the living room in her carrier, we tried introducing them face-to-face 48 hours after Sammi had arrived....All a big no-go. We think Sammi was just stressed and insecure, but it does seem strange that she would so assiduously defend territory not her own. Even my friendliest feral cat, Leo, who is never allowed inside the house anymore, provoked Sammi's wrath when he came up to the screen door and peered in at her.

Poor Sammi--she was completely freaky by the time the last morning of her visit rolled around. My sister decided to book outta here ASAP in order to get Sammi back home.

The weird thing is, Minnie sat outside the office door several times while Sammi was shut in there and just purred her little heart out. I think she wanted to be friends! This is very unusual behavior for my scrappin' cat, but there you are. We had two oddball cats this weekend.

So the experiment failed, but at least there were no bloody fights--we just "rotated" the cats depending on when Minnie wanted out. If Minnie's outside, Sammi can have the run of the house; when Minnie wants in, Sammi has to go back in her room. It worked out fine, especially with Minnie wanting to soak up as much nice weather as possible this weekend. And now Sammi's gone back home, and Minnie's the queen of her castle again.

Anyway, my sister & I had fun, even if the cats didn't.  :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Meetin' the relatives

So if, while speaking to my cat (who, of course, understands every word I say), I refer to my sister as "Aunt A.," does that mean my sister's cat would be Minnie's cousin?  :D  At any rate, Minnie gets to meet her "cousin" Sammi next Thursday, which should be very interesting (and, hopefully, not bloody). I'm going to plug in the Comfort-Zone-clone cat-calming thingy Thursday morning in hopes of keeping Minnie mellow when Sammi arrives. They'll be in close proximity for four days. We'll see how it goes!

Friday, April 4, 2008

NOT sick, yay!

At least I don't think Minnie's sick--she certainly acted normal this morning & nearly normal yesterday evening. And she went right for the stinky meat on both occasions, plus ate her normal dry food in normal amounts. Maybe she ate a weird bug Wednesday night and that's why she was off her feed Thursday morning. In any case, I'm sure glad she's better.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sick kitty?

Minnie was off her feed this morning--she turned up her nose at her favorite stinky meat and was very quiet generally. I was going to put off her shots-&-tests trip until May (financial thing), but I may have to take her to the vet before that. I'll see how she's feeling after work today and then decide. Since she's an indoor/outdoor kitty, she's at risk for FeLk and FIV...and I did notice a scratch in one ear a couple of weeks ago. I hope it's just a temporary bug or she ate something slightly weird. She was just fine last night, snuggling up on my shoulder in bed.

I know, lots of people preach on keeping cats indoor-only, but it just isn't practical. Minnie would hate it and get psychotic on me like Willy did.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Some days I just need to look at rainbows...

...and there are some beauties at Missouri Skies.

I've had a little problem in the old brainpan for a while. Tried upping my Z dose, but had to cut back again because the scrip ran out. The cavalry is coming to the rescue, however--just a matter of days. In the meantime, I need to get back to pretending I'm a good employee instead of wallowing in bed. Starting tomorrow.

Stumpy

This is one of the ferals who visit my backyard. I've named him Stumpy, but you can't see why in this photo: his tail is truncated maybe an inch above the natural tip and the fur is sort of squared-off at the end. He's a sweetie; sometimes he'll almost let me pet him. He and Minnie sniff noses now & then, too.

Also, this is a test of blogging a pic from Flickr. All these new-fangled thangs need tryin' out.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Photo class

Took my camera for a walk again today and came away with several pictures of jackrabbits and redbud trees. It was pretty cloudy, so I enhanced the color and contrast in Photoshop quite a bit. Next time I buy a camera, I'd like a telephoto lens and a real viewfinder--the telephoto lens for getting better close-ups of critters I can't really get close to without alarming them, and the viewfinder so I can see what the tar I'm shooting despite the ambient light. Even on an overcast day, the LED screen was hard to see.

I'm still confused about all the image options on my camera--there are so many, I can't remember them all (or even a few!), plus I'm never sure after I get home and empty the camera what settings worked well & what didn't. But it's not like I've been getting out there every day to shoot pix. I should also take a notebook; that was recommended in one of the digital photography books I read recently.

As you can see, Zen bunny is at one with the redbuds. You can see more of my pix at my Flickr page.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Note to self...

If you start to fill the humidifier from the kitchen sink...DO NOT LEAVE THE KITCHEN! I plumb forgot I'd left the water running, with predictable results. Oh well, the floor needed mopping anyway....

Cat attack!

So there I was sleeping peacefully when this huge clatter and a faceful of fur woke me up at 1 in the freakin' A.M. Apparently, Minnie had been trying to climb up on the headboard of my bed (maybe to get at the birds & fish in the Chinese bamboo hangings above it) when gravity reasserted itself and she came crashing down sorta halfway on my head. Let's hear it for adrenaline in the wee hours. She's fine, of course--the bed and my face broke her fall.

Later on, at a slightly more civilized hour, she had an interesting time chasing a spider who had taken up residence in her litterbox. That's the first time she's set paw in the box in months (she prefers to do her business outside). Alas, she broke her "toy".

On a non-fuzzy note, I'm still doing my laps in the halls on break twice a day, but not, I must admit, with perfect regularity. It's so easy to find a reason not to walk: the meeting took up too much time, gotta work; lunch with the crew ran too long, gotta work; birthday party with calorie-laden cake, gotta descend into a carb-coma.... Gotta do better, is what I gotta.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Oh, am I in the way?"


While shooting pictures for some eBay auctions, this is what I saw instead of a pair of boots.

Such an innocent face! Who could ever shoo her away?

By the way, I'm "oddmarket" on eBay, just in case you wanna see my stuff.  :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Computer whiz (sorta)

I'm back from a flying trip to rescue my sister's computer from being stuck in a loop. Fortunately, it turned out not to be the worm I feared & I didn't have to reinstall anything serious. Going up there, I wasn't sure I could fix it, but everything's cool now & I feel ever so accomplished.  :)

Up until two or three years ago, I was a dedicated Mac-head, but I finally decided that my home setup really needed to mirror my work setup. (I think I mentioned this in one of my 20-things-about-me posts.) I wasn't sure I could handle a PC, since they weren't as user-friendly as Macs, but, to be honest, the Mac system's inner workings had become a mite complicated, too. Turns out I could handle a PC just fine (with occasional help from my friendly neighborhood geek), which was a great relief, and I can exchange data with my work setup without anymore translation.

"When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master."
"Only a master of evil, Darth."

(Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars, of course.)

BTW, big thanks to my most excellent cat-sitter, who always comes through in an emergency.  :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Leo strikes again

Minnie came home the other night smelling of Eau de Pee, so I figured Leo had soiled the bedding in one of his doghouses in the garage at some point & Minnie burrowed into one of them (she loves to burrow). Oy...turned out to be the bedding in both doghouses, all over the inside of both houses, and, just for kicks, some on the outside, too. Good lord....Why on earth would he pee/spray so liberally in both beds? Why piss where you sleep?? Why ask why--he's a cat, & all that spraying is why he lives outside now. When the weather warms up, I won't have to deal with pee-covered bedding--just the doghouses themselves, I'm sure. As it was, I had quite a mess to clean up yesterday after work, when I was so ready to collapse on the couch instead.

By the way, those bathing wipes for cats, in combination with a thorough brushing, do get the smell of pee out of a long-haired cat, thank goodness.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Diet vs. Girl Scout Cookies

All I can say is it's a damn good thing the Girl Scouts sell cookies only once a year. I love lemon cookies. And, of course, there are thin mints. And neither of those treats really falls into the losing-weight category. But it's only once a year!

And then there's candy at Valentine's (assuming, since I'm single, that someone takes pity on me), candy at Halloween, swarms of goodies at Christmas, and (usually) M&M's in the office dispenser. Nobody's been filling the dadgum dispenser lately. That's probably a good thing.

One good diet-ish thing I've done lately is more-or-less give up soda pop. Practically unAmerican, isn't it? Over the course of switching to decaf sodas, then reducing my intake of them (because they're just not as good, for some reason), I seem to have lost my addiction to Dr. Pepper. We won't even discuss diet sodas; they're too nasty for words. So I'm basically off the half-pound of sugar that comes in every soda. That oughta help some.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Head music

While walking my laps at work this morning, a guy from another department passed me & said I needed an MP3 player to entertain me while I walk. At that very moment, I was in fact "listening" to "Jerusalem" ("And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England's mountains green...")--but not on a gadget, just in my head. Who needs a gadget when you've had a lifetime to listen to great music & it's all stored up on your head to call upon whenever you like? Beethoven, Brahms, Shostakovich, Dvorak, Grieg, Ravel, Mahler, Phillip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Jean Pierre Rampal, Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballe, Metallica, the Beatles, the Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, Siouxsie and the Banshees; movie themes like "The Hunt for Red October," "Conan the Barbarian," "A Beautiful Mind," "Alexander Nevsky"; music from operas like "Turandot," "Carmen," "Madame Butterfly"; crazy stuff from Spike Jones, Tom Lehrer, Victor Borge (the Great Dane), and whoever wrote those nutty "Them" poems; musical numbers from "West Side Story," "Amahl and the Night Visitors," "Royal Wedding," "Singing in the Rain"; and more, more, more.

If I ever go deaf, I won't miss my music, that's for sure. And I don't need an MP3 player to enjoy it whenever I like.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Flea dope time

Managed to put some flea dope on Leo--I sneaked up on him when he was distracted by rubbing all over me...which is why I put the flea dope on him even though he lives outside now.  :)

He's doing well outside. His mind is probably more active now than when he was curled up asleep in my house all day. And I think he has a friend or two among the other ferals--cats he doesn't run away from or try to pick fights with, anyway. He still meows at the door, wanting in, but he's OK out there.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New visitor

Here's a recent addition to my feral family; I've named him/her Butterscotch (haven't determined yet whether it's male or female). Such a beautiful coat!

I had to switch from Photoshop Big-Boy Version to Photoshop Elements (what used to be called LE) recently because my Pshop 7 CD died & I couldn't afford to replace it. I'm sure liking Pshop Elements, though--unlike its LE predecessor, it's very easy to get around in, has most of full-Pshop's same commands, & has nothing more than I need to mess with my little bit of home photography. Just what the doctor ordered.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fun foto & still walking

For some reason, photographing cats from below while they sit on glass tables is irresistible. Must be the cute little paw-pads.

Humorous Pictures


Yeah, I bop into icanhascheezburger.com rather often.  :)  No, I didn't create that one.

I'm still walking during my breaks at work. It'd be so easy to blow it off because I'm tired or busy or whatever, but I'm not doin' it. People passing in the halls titter at me--who exercises at work??--but just let 'em. I know I'm doing myself some good.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pedometer report

OK, four circuits of the long hallway at work is about 1250 steps, which is a little over half a mile (assuming I set my stride length correctly in the pedometer). So I'm doing a little over a mile a day in two shots. Not recordbreaking, but a good start. After a while, I'll add two more circuits per walk, which would take me up to almost 0.8 mile per walk, or 1.6 per day. There's not enough time in my breaks to do more than that.

This being Valentine's Day, various people brought piles of chocolate goodies. I won't say I didn't have some, but it was less than I usually snarf on such occasions.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Walk it off

You know those Subway ads featuring Jared, the guy who lost a ton of weight eating healthy Subway sandwiches? What they don't mention anymore is that Jared walked to Subway & back twice a day, so it wasn't just the healthy sandwiches that did it--it was the physical activity, as well.

So I've got this long hallway at work & I've decided that I should (a) take my two allotted breaks every day instead of skipping them like I usually do and (b) walk the hallway during those breaks. Four circuits takes me 10 minutes, which sounds pretty good to me. It gets me a little winded & lets the flabby ol' heart do a little work for once. Plus it wakes me up & I feel better. If I can remember by the time I get home, I'll bring my little pedometer & see how many steps there are in four circuits of the hallway.

My diet (such as it is) also needs to change a bit (well, a bit more, since I'd already changed it to cut caffeine & lower salt because of Meniere's disease). I discovered recently that one of the foods I used to love--pepperoni pizza--I don't really like much anymore. It still tastes good, but I'm aware all the time I'm eating it how incredibly much salt & fat & other badness are in it. Hardly a recipe for a good time. So I don't need to be ordering pizzas anymore.

Strangely enough, I really do like steamed veggies, even though they're good for me.  :D  I don't have a lot of recipes I like yet, but I'll look into them more. And add more fish. And, somewhere, somehow, find a low-sodium recipe for pinto beans or lentils that'll give me a flavorful, high-fiber, easy side dish without taken for-frickin'-ever to cook. Tall order, that, but I'll work on it.

Wanna hear something scary? I'd like to lose 40 pounds. There--I said it. Don't know if I'll do it, but I'll work on that, too. Walking should help.