Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dead Reckoning

Linda at All & Sundry has again posted her end-of-the-year quiz. My 2006 answers are here, and 2007 is here.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before? I went to Alaska

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? As usual, I was pretty crap at following through on my resolutions. This year, I hope to exercise more, appreciate life, and strive to be a better person.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My honorary nephew Macduff was born in May. He is cuteness squared, in stripey socks:

4. Did anyone close to you die? Luckily no human friends or family members were lost, but both my family's oldest dog and my childhood cat passed away this year. It was peaceful and time for each of them to move on, but I do miss the old girls.

5. What countries did you visit? I went to Alaska, so that means I have lots of foreign experience, right? I practically went to Russia, after all.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? As always, I could use more motivation.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? On January 13, we found out that our offer on the house had been accepted. Our closing was February 15, moving day February 16. On April 13, we adopted the best dog ever.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I think I was really able to shine as far as the kind of programming I created and implemented at work. I also did some kickass event planning. Hopefully my bosses noticed.

9. What was your biggest failure? I think I need to work on my time-management skills.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Other than a disgusting bout of Zombie Death Flu on Christmas night, I remained mostly intact this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought? our house, for sure

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? MB has continued to prove that I made the right choice when I married him. Well played, my lover. Well played indeed.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? A friend whom I once considered among the sweetest and most giving people I know reacted in a very ugly, selfish, and small way to an intricate surprise I put together for another friend. In the process, other friends were deeply hurt and I was made to feel like shit for doing something nice and for expressing one of the most core parts of my personality. I thought the hurt and disappointment would pass, but here I am, months later, still feeling that the memories of something that should have been one of the year's best experiences were spoiled. Our friendship may never be the same, sad to say. (Though maybe finally writing it out will help.)

14. Where did most of your money go? Uh...see #11

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The big surprise I mentioned in #13, prior to the explosion of ugliness.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? anything by the Decemberists

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer? Happier, a bit fatter, and poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I'd made a little more time for reading this year.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? procrastinated

20. How did you spend Christmas? We spent it with family and friends.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008? Oh, you could say that...

"Uh...aren't we supposed to be walking?
Not stopping for photos of leaves and flowers and me?"


22. What was your favorite TV program? a tie between Project Runway and Burn Notice

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No, still hate free!

24. What was the best book you read? There were several good ones this year but no massive standouts. I think the one I most want to read again is The World Without Us by Alan Weisman.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? the Decemberists, thanks to Heather Feather

26. What did you want and get? a freaking great dog

27. What did you want and not get? smaller boobs ;)

28. What was your favorite film of this year? I barely went to the theater at all this year, but of the new films I did see, The Dark Knight was a definite standout.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? If I recall, for my birthday this year I just had friends over to see the new house and eat ice cream cake. I turned 27 and posted my 500th blog post on my birthday. Hooray!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I guess it would've been nice to win the lottery and lose ten pounds. But overall, I'm pretty pleased.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? My uniform of jeans and solid-colored shirts from Target served me very well.

32. What kept you sane? family, friends, music, time to write

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Clive Owen

34. What political issue stirred you the most? the election of Barack Obama

35. Who did you miss? I miss my friends who don't live nearby.

36. Who was the best new person you met? I've known her for years online, but I finally got to meet my beloved kittyb in person, and she? Is teh awesome.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. Be true to yourself, be honest, and be compassionate.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. You can't control the sea / She will always do as she pleases / It's her nature to be free

Happy New Year, everyone! Best wishes for what lies ahead!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

This post brought to you by the letter P. How appropriate.

I got this meme from the fabulous Elise at All or Nothing.

The rules:

If you want to participate, leave a comment on this post, and I’ll assign you a letter. You write about ten things you love that begin with your assigned letter, and post it at your place. When people comment on your list, you give them a letter, and the chain continues on and on.

Elise gave me the letter P, and here, at long last and in no particular order, is my list:

1.  peppermint stick ice cream

I don't really like plain peppermint candy or peppermint candy canes or even peppermint gum, but there is just something so perfectly scrumptious about peppermint stick ice cream. My favorite comes from the local ice cream shop where I used to work, and if you ever come to visit me and they have it in stock, I will buy you a cone of it so you can experience the deliciosity for yourself.

2.  pets, specifically mine

They're sometimes rotten, but I wouldn't trade them for anything.

3.  partner, a.k.a. husband

He is my Sun, my Moon, my starlit sky.

4.  paranormal TV shows

They scare the bejeebers out of me, but I love them anyway. Ghost Hunters on SciFi is my favorite. We used to watch A Haunting on Discovery, but it actually got a little too damn scary, with all the demons and whatnot. Me no likey.

5.  paperback books

I truly love books of all kinds, but paperbacks win because they're cheap, and they start with P.

6.  presents, small & unexpected

I like receiving them, but I actually like giving them even more. There's something so enjoyable about seeing a little thing out at a shop, knowing it would be perfect for someone, and getting it for them as a small surprise.

7.  periscope tail

MB gets up before I do, and after he takes his shower, he lets Indy out of his crate. Our bed is really tall and the dog is a tad small, so when I'm still in bed, all I can see is his upright tail, circling like a little fuzzy periscope. It is unspeakably cute.

8.  planets

I really love seeing the planets in the night sky. Seeing them makes me feel connected to the past and to anyone else who might be looking up and seeing them. Tonight while I was driving home from an errand, I ended up on this flat country-ish road with a perfect view of Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury in the Southwest. It was awesome.

The three of them will only be visible together early this week and Mercury is really low and dim, so head out an hour after sunset tomorrow or the next day if you want to check it out.

9.  pomegranate lotion

Last year I was out Christmas shopping with evilducky, and she gave me a really great coupon for Bath & Body Works. I used it to get a big bottle of midnight pomegranate hand cream. It is so luxurious and smells so wonderful. Best of all, a little goes a very long way, so I still have more than half the bottle left, even a year later.

10.  photography

I have really fallen in love with taking pictures over the last several years. I'm hoping to get a new camera in the next couple of months, and I can't wait to see what I can do with a slightly more advanced toy.

Bonus:  the pooch on his pillow

Indy says, "There is no charge for awesomeness. Or adorableness."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy everything!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, Happy Eid (a little late), Happy just happy! Thanks to everyone who has stopped by this year to make this corner of the internet a little bit brighter. xo!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

One year

It's hard to believe that one of our best adventures began a year ago, give or take a week or two. We weren't there for the beginning, but somewhere around December 19th, a little black puppy was born. We'll never know if he was abandoned or if he was someone's pet but wandered off or if he was a stray from the beginning. We don't really know the story of him becoming un-stray, either. All we know is that during one of the most brutal, icy months in memory, he was found wandering on Curtis Road and someone either scooped him up and took him to the local animal control shelter or called for him to be collected. He would spend two months at the shelter, waiting.

Meanwhile, in the next county, MB and I were moving into our house, the timing of the purchase having been heavily influenced by MB's hope of adopting a dog. April, we said. By the end of April, we'd be settled enough and have enough money saved up to go out and find a dog. We cruised the local humane society's website more than we should've, and pointed out cute little black dogs to each other on Petfinder.com. We discussed several ideas for names, until one night one of us (I think it was me. I hope it was me.) suggested Indiana Bones, and that was the end of the debate. MB did research on training, on tricks, on discipline. I daydreamed about hikes and camping trips and a warm fuzzy belly to scritch on cold winter nights. And in the shelter, a little black dog's time was ticking away.

Luckily, blessedly, there is a group in the next county that takes dogs from the shelter when their time is up and tries to find homes for them. In April, they brought a group of dogs to Petsmart on a Sunday afternoon. We weren't in the store to find a puppy. We'd gone in to buy a pair of pet gates, with the idea that we'd put them up and give Kitters a few weeks to get used to them before we brought a dog into the house to further horrify him. But I saw the cages lined up along the side of the store, and knew it meant there were adoptable dogs in for the day. We hesitated, and almost didn't go look, and even when we did I told MB several times that I didn't want him to feel pressured by a cute face, that we needed to makes sure we were really, really sure about any dog we decided to bring home.

It was nearing the end of the day, and the two black puppies in one cage were tired of bouncing around, tired of fawning over all the squealing children and cooing adults. They were curled around each other napping when we saw them. My eye was caught by the girl, whose long fur reminded me of my mom's puppy, Maggie. MB, who was determined that we would have at least one short-haired pet, pointed firmly to the smaller short-haired black puppy. "I like that one." I liked him, too, so we asked the rescue group volunteer if we could take him for a short walk around the store. She must've been tired, too, but she chatted with us and told us what she knew about the puppy. We walked him around the store, encouraged by his happy demeanor and his friendliness toward other dogs and the people we met along the way. By the time we made a lap of the store, we were sure this was the puppy we wanted.

The rescue group was getting ready to pack up the dogs and cats they'd brought, so MB stayed at the store while I rushed to find an ATM and get cash to pay the adoption fee. When I got back, we filled out a form or two, got the information on how to register the puppy's microchip, and we bought a blank tag to run through the engraving machine. By the time we walked out the door with our new pet and all his gear, he had a for-real name:  Indy.

He started as a mostly friendly, spunky little dog who snarled at us whenever we got near his food bowl. He had worms and giardia and needed a bath on the second day after meeting us. He had to eat pills and gross milky medicine that I could only get him to take by squirting it onto bread and adding peanut butter. He learned to shake and give high fives within six days of moving in with us. I went to Walmart at 11:00 one night to find a harness for him, because walking him in the morning was making my elbow ache all day long. We enrolled him in obedience school and then hoped he wouldn't get thrown out for being ridiculously sassy at every class.

The first time I gave Indy a tennis ball, he didn't know what to do with it. His first attempts at picking it up failed, though it was clear that he understood that he was supposed to play with it. For the first few months after we brought him home, I came home at lunch every day to let Indy out into the yard for half an hour or so. We worked on a few tricks, but mostly I just let him enjoy the grass and the birds and the fresh air. We went for a walk almost every morning, and I started looking forward to our early morning treks and our mid-day breaks together. His food-guarding behavior disappeared with training, and he managed to pass his obedience class with flying colors.

His list of tricks grew by the week, and he started enjoying regular playdates with his BFF Maggie and visits to Petsmart and the local pet store. We took him not quite swimming, we took him hiking. MB took him down to Kentucky to visit family, and we finally got to take him camping.

He's not always good. He has a bad habit of snitching shopping lists and mail and shoes and dirty socks. Sometimes he stinks, and sometimes he REALLY stinks. Mostly, though, he's a good dog. A great dog, even. He has taught me to appreciate the simple things in life, like cool crisp mornings and trips to the pet store. He has reminded me that it's a good idea to take time to enjoy the scenery, that life is less about where you're headed than where you are at this moment. He has made our lives richer, fuller, better. Happy, happy birthday to our little Solstice dog, our Christmas boy, our perfect Indiana Bones.

You're the best, buddy.

(a year of Indy on Flickr)

Saturday, December 20, 2008


This blog is the #1 google hit for "bad ass egg salad."

(#2 is this.)

Anonymous google searcher, you complete me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Photo Friday

This is an old one, but still one of my favorites.

View the entire Photo Friday collection on Flickr.

Things I did today:

>> changed the sheets

>> flipped the mattress (freaking the hell out of the dog in the process)

>> finished up the last of the laundry

>> procured a super sweet convertible high chair for future spawnling via freecycle (it just needs a new seat cover). (There should be photos of this, but my camera has suddenly decided it doesn't want to speak to my computer. *sigh*)

>> took the dog on an outing to celebrate his birthday

>> finished addressing / preparing the last of our Christmas cards

>> procured a heating pad thingie for MB's achy back

>> cleaned out the fridge

>> washed the dishes

>> baked one batch of my grandma's skillet cookies, one batch of sugar cookies, one batch of cherry chip cookies, half a batch of chocolate chip / walnut cookies, and a pan of brownies

>> prepared the dough for a half-batch of butterscotch chip cookies

>> washed the dishes again (because as much as it sucks to wash dishes directly after baking for ten hours, it sucks more to wake up to a kitchen full of dirty dishes)

Things I did not do, and thus must do tomorrow before we leave at 1:00 to go visit MB's family:

>> bake butterscotch cookies

>> make a sweet potato casserole

>> wrap Christmas gifts

>> sweep the floors

>> write the dog's birthday blog entry

>> take care of 1 - 3 other writing items that are waiting somewhat impatiently on my to-do list

>> finish four more of this year's homemade Christmas ornaments

>> tidy up the house, which has somehow managed to breed 1700 piles of clutter since it was pristine for Thanksmas v.1.0 last weekend.

>> pack


Thursday, December 18, 2008

lolkitters: the triumphant return

I was starting to run out of ideas for lolkitters-es, and it was bugging me that in times of infrequent posting, the blog was basically all cat pictures. I am a cat nerd, but I'm not quite that big of a crazy cat lady just yet.

So, after taking November off and thinking about it, I have decided to keep lolkitters around, but to only post new ones once a month. So, from now on, weekly lolkitters will be Third Thursday lolkitters. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Summer blows away and quietly gets swallowed by a wave

Way back in October, I posted the first recap of my September trip to Anchorage. And then I sort of forgot about the whole thing until recently. Mostly I put it off because I had almost 500 photos from the trip, and no time to sort them out. But I finally found a bit of time, so here's the story of our adventure at sea. The meeting I went up there for was over on Wednesday night, and on Thursday the host had arranged to rent a van and drive us down to Seward to go on a glacier cruise.

The weather was terrible -- cold, gray, windy, rainy -- but the drive from Anchorage to Seward was stunning. (Unfortunately, photographing it from a moving car in the rain wasn't quite the best way to capture it.)

The cruise was supposed to be an all-day affair, but as soon as we got to the dock we found out that the weather was going to cut our cruise short. We were supposed to do the whole National Park Cruise, but a squall had blown up overnight, and the water out in the Gulf of Alaska was way too rough. I have to admit that I was disappointed at first, though once we got out onto the pier and saw the boats, I got over it and started to get excited.

This one's ours

I hadn't been on a boat since I took a wildlife cruise on James Bay during a college trip back in 2002, so I was kind of nervous that I'd get seasick. At the beginning of the trip, I did start to feel a bit ooky, but once the captain gave the word that we could go outside, we headed up to the top deck and I felt a lot better. Then I started to worry about my mom just a bit, because she's not usually a big fan of wind or cold weather, and she actually hadn't ever been on a big boat before.

We had to stay within the shelter of Resurrection Bay for the whole cruise, and even then the ride was pretty wild. We found out about midway through the trip that we were getting 10-foot seas, with a few 12-footers thrown in for kicks. It's hard to describe how crazy the ride was. We were almost always holding on to something. When the captain advised us to stand in the middle of the upper deck (where we were somewhat sheltered behind the upper cabin) we had to kind of let go of the rail and make a hail mary dive for the bars on the backs of the deck seats. My officemate and his girlfriend spent most of the cruise on the lower deck at the back, and he told me later that there were points where we'd hit a trough, and the wave coming up behind was taller than the freaking boat.

wicked-cool rock slide

In the cabin, people were dropping like flies. Probably 2/3 of the passengers ended up getting sick. We went inside one time, but then I started to feel ill and so we went back out and stayed out for the rest of the trip. It was cold as hell, wet, windy, and it was a damn good time. My mom? TOTALLY bad-ass. She's a shy, vastly stereotypical Midwestern library bookshelver, for God's sake, and she LOVED being out on this crazy wave-tossed boat in the freezing spray.

Now, quite obviously the captain could not control the weather and because of the constraints of our trip we could not come back on a better day, but I was somewhat disappointed that we didn't get to see more of the glaciers. We were supposed to get right up against Bear Glacier, possibly even be able to reach out and grab a piece of it, but this is about as close as we could get:

still pretty incredible, even from far away

To get this (not very) close, we almost had to leave the shelter of Resurrection Bay, and the water got pretty insane. At one point the captain was looking for a certain rock where sea lions usually hang out, and then realized that the storm the night before had smashed the rock to pieces.

After the glacier, we went into a beautiful, (relatively) calm cove. I have no idea where we were on the map, but this place was breathtaking. The water was this insane blue-green and we could see the gorgeous pine trees surrounding us.

slice. of. heaven.
No lie, wouldn't this be the fucking COOLEST vacation home EVER?? I covet.

More pretty:

And finally! At long last! Sea lions!

They were really huddled together on their rock, and who could blame them? Between the boat rising and falling several feet at a time and the spray and the wind, it was hard to get a good shot of them.

I put a bunch of photos of the drive and the cruise on Flickr, in case you're not sick of them yet. There are also a few videos, if you want to hear my big mouth for yourself. If you ever make it to Seward, I definitely 150% recommend taking a cruise with Kenai Fjords Tours. I promise they are not paying me to say it, they don't even know I'm talking about them, but I was so impressed with everything about our tour. The weather was atrocious and we still had a fantastic time. Rock. On.


I'm working on a long post with pictures and interesting stuff like that, but it's taking forever to finish, so here's something that I find endlessly amusing (though the tune does get stuck in my head something fierce. Sorry about that.):

Bum buh buh buh bum. Dee dee-dee-dee!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I have to do a lot of research for my job, and in the course of my Googling, I find all manner of bizarre things. Yesterday, I was looking for examples I could use to teach kids how to make shadow puppets. I assumed I'd see lots of dogs, some ducks, maybe a bird or two. Instead, I found a ridiculously awesome shadow puppetry guide, originally published in 1859. These aren't shadow puppets so much as Victorian gang signs.

Camel! In your face!

Bitch, please! Squinty-eyed deer!

Disapproving rabbit!

Elephant! Oh...what now?!

YOUR MOM, that's what's next.


STFU, little kid. BIRD IN FLIGHT!

I'm gonna choke out your bird.


Angry bear!

Pissed-off miniature dachshund with short-man syndrome!

Oh, yeah? Well, here's...take a...I've got...shit. I give up.

Reading  Rocket Man by William Elliott Hazelgrove

Playing  Pearl Jam radio on Pandora

Graphics from Hand Shadows by Henry Bursill, published in 1859 by Griffith & Farran, corner of St. Paul's churchyard