Friday, December 31, 2010

"May you live in interesting times..."

This has been one eventful year--from dealing with feral cats and getting new French doors installed at my old house, to selling that place and setting up in a new house with my sister and our two combative kitties; from workplace security with my old boss and my nice office-with-a-window, through the bloodbath of RIF (reduction in force) and the advent of a new boss (whom, frankly, nobody trusts), to feeling quite a bit less secure (but at least still working!) in my smaller, windowless office; from having practically nothing to do at work because our business is shifting from print to web, to working non-stop (including overtime) on a huge database and front-end web system to better organize our work. At the beginning of this year, I sure didn't expect to be sharing a house with Sister A. quite this soon, nor in this particular city, but it has worked out great. The office mess, well, that's another kettle of fish, but I can't do much about it other than keep my nose clean and make sure the new boss knows what an excellent, useful, hard-working, and multi-talented employee I am.  :)

As to the database, that's going well, and--bonus--it's fun (although coding problems do drive me whacko at times). I've had a heckuva time finding info (and code to steal) for PHP 5.3 with SQL Server 2005, but it's working.

Minnie and Sammi still aren't getting along. We've tried letting them duke it out on their own, we've tried breaking up fights, and we've tried keeping them apart--no luck yet. Our next step is to try Spirit Essences, specifically the combination of Peacemaker, Bully Remedy, and Self-Esteem (read about it on their site). I've tried plain Rescue Remedy before on another cat, trying to get him to chill out and quit spraying indoors, but it didn't work--at least not enough to stop the spraying. I've also tried a Feliway diffuser on Minnie with little or no effect. I'm hoping for better results this time, but I'm not holding my breath.

The humans in this house are getting along just fine, thank you. Sister A. is having a bit of a sad this first holiday after her divorce, but time will heal.

I've had a nice, relaxing week-and-a-day of vacation between Christmas and New Year's. I did go to the office a couple of afternoons this week, both to work in the absolute quiet there and to make sure I didn't forget any of my hard-won code learnin', but not enough to "disturb my relax", as Justin Wilson put it.

Here's hoping everyone lives in slightly less interesting times this year!  :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Spot That Cat!"

Ha! I defy you to pinpoint the cat in these pix.  ;)
"And on laundry day, the human's bed grew a lump.
And it was cozy."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Heard this as I was coming in to work today. I happened to be walking behind a couple of people (who were taking up the entire breadth of the hall, or I wouldn't have stuck around to listen). The man was telling the woman about his plans to be cremated after a stint at medical school (not as a doctor--as postmortem practice material). He named the teaching hospital across the street from us as the recipient of his future cadaver. And the woman replied, "Oh, yes, I used to work over there. I've seen y'all's naked bodies!"

It's not nice to burst out laughing while eavesdropping.  ;)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another round of "Spot That Cat!"

This time, it's Sammi who's found the comfortable spot. The photo is a bit fuzzy, but then, so is she.
As you can see, we have more Xmas decorations up in the living room and kitchen/dining area.

Sister A's cute Southwestern nativity.

Fancy cross-stitch stockings that A. made years ago;
the one on the right was "repurposed" for me with a newly restitched name.  :)
Lookit how much room there is for chockies!

Large ball ornaments are too big to fit on our little Christmas tree,
but they make a nice display in this glass bowl atop the china cabinet.

And lastly, our little door wreath.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas is coming :)

Proximity alert!

Proof positive that these two critters can get along in proximity to one another, on occasion, if they try.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is one of the main things we have to be thankful for today:

Our nice house on a nice, quiet, dead-end street, with nice neighbors and nobody shooting guns in the air on holidays. Bonus!

I'm also thankful that I have a good-paying job that survived the recent RIF (reduction in force) bloodbath, so that we can afford to keep said nice house.

And we're very thankful that we got enough from the sale of my old house to make a lot of improvements on our new house in a short time, without going into hideous debt.

Activity in our house today includes kitties napping, pies cooking, and general relaxation. Life is good.  :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

And now it's time for "Spot That Cat!"

Minnie has found the perfect perch--on top of the neighbor's gazebo. Here she is pointedly not looking at me, in spite of piddling human entreaties. If you can spot her immediately, you win the Kewpie doll!

(OK, I lied, there's not really a Kewpie doll. I can probably Google up a picture of one, though.  :)

Sammi has also perfected the "I'm ignoring you" stance, as you can see in this portrait of Her Floofiness.

Any cat who can't snub her humans properly is a sad specimen indeed.

On the behavioral front, Minnie's bum has healed nicely and there's been no further bloodshed. I think Sammi knows we're watching her like hawks, and Sister A. is doing a bang-up job of keeping watch over our two fur-kids during the day. Sammi did try to get in Minnie's face one night last week and got zapped for it, but otherwise, things in the Unpeaceable Kingdom are rolling along smoothly, although Minnie's still nervous around Sammi.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kitty problem

Our two cats, Sammi and Minnie, met for the first time during a visit by Sister A. from her then-home in another town. It was not a success, to say the least--they hissed and spat at each other the whole time. We were discouraged from repeating that experiment, so since the cats would never meet again, no problem.

Back in April, though, life happened and A. & Sammi came to live with me & Minnie. Again, the cats hissed and spat at each other. But it was a stressful time, after all, so we hoped they'd eventually get over it and become, if not BFFs, at least tolerant of each other. About two months later, when A. and I bought the larger house together, we figured it would help the feline situation since the cats would be able to give each other a wide berth and still have plenty of individual perching, napping, and playing space. With time, we thought, things would improve between our two pets. So after the move and merging of food and the accompanying messy-poop problems were over with, we decided to let the cats just duke it out until they came to terms with each other.

Not only have they not mellowed toward each other, their hissing & spitting has escalated to short-lived but genuine fights as Sammi has gradually become an outright bully toward Minnie. Poor Minnie slinks around the house trying to stay out of Sammi's way, and Sammi lurks beside doorways waiting to leap out at her. And yesterday evening, I discovered a small wound in Minnie's backside--the work of Sammi's claws, no doubt. No wonder Minnie's so desperate to get outside despite the cold snap!

Letting them sort things out between them has obviously not worked, and we're not sure what to do next. We are not taking the offending bully to the animal shelter--you animal-lovers all know what the result would be. I want A. to be able to keep her kitty (who can be really sweet when she wants to) not only because she loves Sammi, but because one of the things her ex was pissy about was her relationship with her cat--like that took anything away from him!--and she briefly considered giving up Sammi in order to pacify him, which totally made me nuts. (I don't put up with BS from men anymore, anyway, and his jealousy of a cat was just too stupid for words.) I do not want me or mine to be the cause of her finally losing her pet. But both Minnie and Sammi were one-per-household cats before A. and I moved in together; it may be that they can't--or won't--change at this point in their lives.

In any case, aggression will no longer be tolerated. If Sammi tries to get in Minnie's face (as, indeed, she did this morning), we will immediately get in Sammi's face. Sammi was sure surprised this morning when A. plucked her off the potential battlefield, set her in a chair, and held her there until she simmered down! (And in the meantime, Minnie escaped to her cat tree in my bedroom.)

Knowing that Minnie can't even be comfortable in her own home is distressing to both myself and A. If anyone knows of a way to get these two fightin' felines to get along, we'd sure love to hear it. In the meantime, I guess we'll just have to be vigilant in breaking up assaults before they happen.

"Can't we all just get along?"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Art and china

Our contractor finished repainting the china cabinet and brought it by last week, so now Sister A's china is put up all purty instead of cluttering the countertop. The cabinet was painted "dark truffle" outside and Behr Cancun Sand inside. As you can see from the second photo, some of the larger pieces broke from the "herd" to become objets d'art. The china pattern is called Homespun. The cabinet was a faded off-white/yellow before; its new colors suit the china much better.
Speaking of art, we found some posters at Hobby Lobby that we like and put them in nice frames from a seller on eBay, so now the walls are dressed up a bit more. Here's Sammi having her nap interrupted while I shoot pix of the big white rose pic and the colorful potted flowers in A's bedroom.

I also have new art over my bed, a diptych of autum leaves in rust, brown, and cream, but it's Change The Bed Day and I haven't gotten a round tuit yet, so no pix of the slob's room.  :)

In addition, here's a cool piece of "repurposed" art: A. had this spiffy Chinese-design material lying around doing nothing, and during the shuffling of pix & frames, this frame turned up empty, so add a little nutmeg-&-black spray paint and voila!--Art. This is hanging in a corner of my den.

And here are our two living pieces of art, Minnie and Sammi, getting their beauty sleep.  :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Office fun

My new boss has taken over two other departments and squished them all together into one entity. We're all related, more or less, but I've always been the back-room Production sort, and didn't really think of myself as having the same "mission", so to speak, as the dealing-with-students departments. Nevertheless, that's how the cookie crumbles these days.

Now the B. wants us all closer together, so half of us in Dept. A are being squeezed in with Dept. B, across the hall from our present locale (Dept. C is too big to move anywhere else). That means I can kiss my nice office-with-a-window goodbye, and everyone in Dept. A can kiss our common area, with its nice big conference table, goodbye too. All of that blows chunks. And I would complain vociferously about being moved (and the accompanying stupid idea of renting out our wonderful suite to whoever the hell they had in mind, whether university or civilian) if there hadn't been an employee bloodbath recently. As it is, I'll just shut up and appreciate the fact that I'm still among the employed.

But I'm sure gonna miss my window and my great big desk.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Little Ali's quilt

Sister A. had her new grandbaby's quilt almost done at this point. Now it's finished and has reached its pint-sized owner. Hurrahs all around!

(It's a girl. Can you tell?)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Latest project done

The guys finished the last little bits on the patio cover and front porch yesterday, and we are very pleased with the result. Sister A. and I were both surprised to find that having the patio cover felt "normal"--possibly because one of our early family homes had a wooden patio cover that our dad built. (If it hadn't been for a particularly heavy snowstorm one winter, that sucker would still be standing--Daddy built things to last!) The cats like it, too--they now have an escape from the sun if they want it. Sammi, in particular, likes to sit in her favorite chair (the one with the green striped cushion) under the cover like a queen on her throne.  :)

We also had the guys put a square post cover around the ugly turned post on our front porch, and it goes much better with the style of the house.

Our contractor is now working on A's china cabinet, which was in pretty sorry shape, being exceedingly vintage (like, from the '30s or '40s, and maybe a Sears or "Monkey Ward" special), and warped from rain or some wet environment at some point in its long life. But Sister A. likes it because it fits her china perfectly, so she did not want a new one, she wanted this one fixed. So, by gum, they're fixing it! I'm sure it'll be much improved when Chase is done with it. And then we can finally get rid of the LAST moving box!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Patio cover progress

The guys have been working hard on our patio cover. These pix are from yesterday and today. Below, Chase the Contractor welds cross bars to the framework, then the first sheet of steel goes up.

And they're off! Sheets of steel march across the framework.

Here's why we decided to sheathe the underside of the patio cover, too--apart from the fact that birds would nest in all those convenient C-shaped purlins, it was also ugly.

The top side is complete!

Masonite begins to go up on the underside. It will be painted off-white and get white trim to cover the edges and a bit of a gap down the middle.

And instead of an ugly iron post showing, the guys will box it up in this square column cover.

We're also getting one of these covers around the fake (plastic) turned post on the front porch. It'll go with the style of the house much better.

The guys should be done tomorrow!

Sewing assistant

Sammi performs the very important task of holding down the
quilt-in-progress while Mom pins another piece to it.
Protection, too, is an important job. Lasers on!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kitty pix

After the stress of the past week, I think we need some kitty pix. These were taken last weekend, I think. Here's Minnie proceeding to her favorite "wallow" to have a good, dusty roll. I tried to catch a shot of her fuzzy white tummy, but my camera's shutter lag was too slow.

(She was getting a little freaky at this point.)
And here's Sammi lying in wait for Minnie around the corner of the house. She's a champion lurker. Don't you just want to bury your fingers in that luxurious fur?

Now Minnie walks up to the trap, but stops--she knows something's fishy!
Result: a Mexican standoff.

A bit more remodeling

Well, I didn't get caught in the job upheaval yesterday, thank heavens. As far as I know, I still have a job. I think it was only middle management that got nailed--this round, anyway. That sort of whirlwind-of-destruction sure makes a person feel skittish, though.

On the home front, during the past week, we've had our favorite contractor and his main guy working on our patio. Here are some pix from the project; there are more on my Flickr site.  :)

Here, the guys have dug out and framed up in preparation for pouring concrete. The patio had a curve in it so that some previous homeowner could put a flowerbed there next to the house. We decided not to try to reclaim that flowerbed (it's been a long time since there were any flowers in it) and had the curve filled in and straightened so there won't be a mudhole there when it rains.

You may notice that the stepping-stone forms lead to blank fence rather than to a gate. Yes, we did that on purpose. We're going to put the gate in a different place (like, at the end of that path!) when we have the falling-down fence replaced next spring.

Here's what used to be a little overhang over the utility room door. The guys sawed that off entirely so they could bolt the patio cover to the house.

Yeah, those wires (mostly cable, which we're not using) are practically going to be lying on the patio cover when it's finally up. There's not much we can do about it. But at least nothing will be rubbing on the wires, so I think it'll be OK.

Naturally, the guys replaced the siding over the denuded part of the eave once it was flat.

Next, the fellas cut long C-section iron purlins to build the frame of the patio cover. Two long pieces were bolted securely to the house itself; the rest of the framework will hang on these pieces.

Then they started welding the frame to the house, using a temporary wooden frame to hold it up while they worked.

And here are the finished patio cover "bones".

They have to fix one spot where the frame was welded to the supporting post a bit too high (lest it direct rain runoff straight into the house), then they'll be ready to put the steel on the frame. We're having them cover both the top and bottom of the frame, else birds will nest in the C-shape of the purlins!