Saturday, November 13, 2010

Things Are Tough All Over

Even cats are losing their jobs.

Yes, it's sad but true. The hotel cats were laid off/fired. Apparently they weren't doing the job for which they were hired -- catching mice. Of course in my opinion, it didn't help that they were being fed plenty of cat food. That took away their incentive to catch the mice. Plus they weren't given much of a chance -- only a week and a half before they were fired.

They were replaced with mousetraps. At least they weren't forced to train their replacements.

And the cats are being given new opportunities; the general manager took one home and one of the desk clerks took the other one home.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall Back

It's the end of Daylight Saving Time.

For most people, the consolation prize for losing an hour of daylight is getting an extra hour of sleep. For those of us who work a vampire shift (11pm to 7 am) that doesn't apply. Our consolation prize is getting (!) an extra hour of work. Instead of working 8 hours I'll work 9. Of course I'll get paid for working 9 hours.

Somehow last spring when time "sprang forward" and I got to work 7 hours instead of 8, I was still paid for 8. I'm not complaining (although I am complaining about not getting that extra hour of sleep!).

In related news, the hotel where I work (which shall remain nameless) recently acquired 2 cats in hopes of keeping the mice under control. The cats are supposed to stay in the basement, but try telling the cats that. I haven't seen them, but one of the desk clerks saw one the other night near the kitchen. The cat ran in front of her, nearly tripping her and generally freaking her out; she's allergic to cats and is also a little afraid of them. Health laws prohibit the cats from being in the kitchen, restaurant, and bar, but again -- try telling the cats that. Besides, that's where the mice are. This could be interesting.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Big -- Good News and Bad News

Here's the latest on Big, the dog who refuses to die.

He was due for his rabies shot and the vet also required an exam to renew his prescription for carprofen (a NSAID). But it's so hard for him to walk around and impossible for him to get up in the Jeep, so we arranged for one of the vets to make a housecall. We scheduled the appointment for August 18. Then he seemed to be getting worse, so last Friday (the 13th) I talked to the vet and said instead of a rabies shot it might be time to euthanize him. She suggested a change in medication - a steroid and a stronger pain med. So I got the new meds that afternoon and by Sunday he was doing so much better it was unbelievable. He could actually stand up and walk and sit or lie down without his back legs going out from under him. And he seemed happier, too. He'd never yelped in pain (this is the dog who chewed through extension cords when they were plugged in and never yelped then, either), but he had obviously been in pain and with the new meds he was in much less pain. He doesn't smile the way Wolfie does, but he had a happier expression on his face and especially in his eyes.

Dr. Sue came and did the housecall Wednesday and we told her about his improvement. She said the steroids could buy us another year or so and we talked about gradually decreasing the dose (steroids have bad side effects on dogs, too, ya know) while keeping him comfortable; it's a balancing effect.

I pointed out some sores on his underbelly (near what's left of his private parts). She had noticed them, but examined them further and said they're tumors -- sarcomas, (cancer) and she said they are probably what will "do him in" in the end. Typically if they're removed surgically they always grow back and at his age, the anaesthesia would be very hard on his body.

So who knows how long he has left? Knowing Big, it could be years. Five years ago we thought he only had six months left. What's most important is his quality of life. If he's in pain and can't get around easily, it's time to let him go, which is why we'd thought about letting him go a few days ago. But the steroids and pain meds are helping, so we'll see how things go.

He has more lives than a cat. I keep saying that he'll outlive us all and we'll have to name a guardian for him in our will. Any takers? He's really turned into a sweet and mellow dog in is old age. He didn't growl at the vet until she started trimming his claws; they're gigantic and not easily trimmed. We put on his Hannibal Lecter muzzle for the vet visit, just as a precaution.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ice Cream and Memories

When we were kids, going to Baskin-Robbins was a rare treat, reserved for a birthday month (when the birthday child was entitled to a free cone) or when I got an "A" on a history test (definitely rare). Sometimes after a movie at the Jefferson Theater (another rare treat), we would go next door to Baskin-Robbins with a throng of fellow theater-goers.

I liked to try different flavors, but my sister (known to the blogosphere as Natasha) would always get Peppermint Fudge Ribbon when it was available. I had it once or twice, and is was definitely good. Every once in awhile over the years, I've looked for that flavor in the stores and on their website, but they seem to have discontinued it.

Recently I discovered something that's just as good (maybe even better): Peppermint Ice Cream topped with Hot Fudge Sauce!

One of the grocery stores here, Smith's, is "part of the Kroger family" so the store brand items are labeled Kroger. Kroger makes unbelievable delicious (and inexpensive, since it's a store brand) Peppermint Ice Cream. It even has small chunks of peppermint candy (think candy canes) mixed in. So if you're near a Kroger, Smith's, King Sooper's, or City Market, stop in and get a carton of Peppermint Ice Cream. Topped with homemade Hot Fudge Sauce, it's so good I can't believe it. It's almost addictive. Seriously. A couple of hours after I've eaten some, I find myself thinking about how good it was and about how soon I'll be home so I can have some more. By the time I've gotten home, of course, I've forgotten all about it, so I'm not really eating it as much as it sounds.

Now that I've found the perfect ice cream, I need to find the perfect hot fudge sauce. I'm not happy with the recipes I've tried so far. I'm looking for something thick and smooth and chocolatey. Something like Gifford's Ice Cream Parlor used to have.

Gifford's. Now there's a whole other set of memories. Gifford's was even more rare than Baskin-Robbins because it wasn't as close to home and because it was more expensive (after all, it was a sit-down place, not just a counter selling cones). The ice cream came in tall glasses and the hot fudge sauce came in tiny metal pitchers so you could pour in a little or as much at a time as you wanted. I remember going to Gifford's after the baptisms of my first two nephews and may a couple of other times.

Anyone have a hot fudge sauce like theirs? Elle, where are you?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's Not the Heat; It's the Humidity

That may be a cliché, but it's also true (after all, most clichés start by being truths before moving on the become clichés). In the last part of June and the first half of July, we endured blazing heat, with highs in the 90s. One day it got up to 97, which is the highest temperature we've had since we installed the weather station at our house 5½ years ago.

But the humidity was always low, often in the single digits. We reached another record, an all-time low humidty of 3%. It reached the point where 20% humidity felt muggy!

When the humidity was in the single digits and I went outside, I could practically feel the moisture being sucked from my skin. But somehow it felt invigorating, definitely not energy-sapping the way high humidity feels.

In the last two weeks of July, the temperatures went down, but the humidity went up and it really did feel muggy. Monsoon season had arrived, with brief but heavy rainstorms almost every afternoon. The air stayed humid. The sugar in the sugar bowl developed lumps and a light crust on the surface. We rarely use salt, so I don't know if the salt developed lumps, too.

The muggy days and nights felt so unfamiliar. After spending the first 32 years of my life on the muggy east coast, I've spent the past 15 in the arid west. I don't remember the past few years being so humid during monsoon season.

One weekend night it was 11:30 at night and I was at my hotel job (Night Auditor on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights 11 pm to 7 am). The air hadn't cooled off much, which is very unusual. The warm sticky air reminded me so much of the summer nights back in Falls Church, when it felt as if it would never cool down. For an instant, I was transported back to my parents' house when I was a kid, before they had air conditioning. For a second, I felt like I was really there, out on the front porch, trying to cool off a little. It was weird.

Now that it's August, monsoon season is in full swing. Every afternoon the clouds form (and build) and the breezes blow and we get an occasional rumble of thunder; rain seems imminent, but doesn't always appear. I don't even have to watch the weather portion of the news. It's the same for the next seven days (at least): highs in the 80s, lows in the 50s, chance of afternoon showers.

By the end of August, the temperatures will cool off drastically, especially at night, and it'll start to feel like Fall.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Love and eBay

When Ron and I first set up housekeeping together (back in 1987!!) we had to buy some necessary basics for the kitchen. One of the best things I bought was a set of 3 Pyrex bowls.

The blue one is perfect for mixing up cakes and frostings; the yellow and red ones are perfect for smaller tasks. The red one is also excellent for a "generous" portion of soup, chili, etc. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that I use at least one of them (sometimes two or all three) almost every day.

A few months ago, I was in bed and almost asleep when I heard a crash in the kitchen. I ran out, not even pausing to put on my glasses. The small red bowl was on the floor, broken into many, many pieces. With my blurred vision, I thought some of the small pieces of broken glass were drops of blood. Ron had been standing holding the bowl, eating something out of it when Brutus jumped up on him, startling him, and he dropped the bowl. I put on my glasses and we cleaned up the broken glass. Ron felt bad about breaking the bowl, but I wasn't upset; we'd had the bowl for more than 20 years and had gotten more than our money's worth.

I didn't think anything more about it, but a few weeks later, a package arrived via UPS. Ron said, "This package has to do with Brutus," but I had no idea what could be in the package, so I opened it. And found a red Pyrex bowl, an exact replacement for the bowl that broke (exact down to a few minor scratches on the inside). I couldn't believe it! He'd gone on eBay and searched for that red Pyrex bowl and found several! The one he got came from Canada.

I thought that was so sweet of him and kept telling him that, but he didn't think it was anything unusual. His point of view was that he broke something and he replaced it. "But that bowl was more than 20 years old!" I said. "It's not something you can just go get at WalMart." He still didn't (and doesn't) think he did anything special. But I disagree.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Birthday Recap

I had a great birthday. Of course it helped that the Saints won the Super Bowl, but even better was that I got to talk on the phone with my mom and several siblings -- even Oldest Brother, a.k.a. No Handle.

After the Super Bowl revelry, I got to set up and play with my present from Ron -- an All-in-One Printer/Copier/Scanner/Fax. It's so cool! We've had a fax machine for years, but it was a cheapie model, prone to frequent paper jams, so we used it infrequently. (In case you're wondering, our fax number is the same as our phone number, so if you want to send a fax, call first.)

It's a Lexmark 6675, pictured below.

We like Lexmark printers; they don't seem to be the ink hogs that other ink jet printers are.

It's even wireless and connected into our home network, so visitors with laptop computers will be able to print things more easily than they could before.

Wishing warm weather for all of you who are snowbound.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

That Extra Syllable

OK, it's my birthday. I'm 47, but I'm having a hard time dealing with that number. For some reason, 47 seems much older than 46. I think maybe it's that extra syllable. Does that mean 48 will be easier?

Yeah, I know -- "age is just a number" and "you're as old as you want to be" and "you're as old as you feel." Most of the time I feel like I'm 27; of course sometimes I feel like I'm 97!

Regardless of the number, this is a very special birthday for me. Not only is it Super Bowl Sunday, but the New Orleans Saints will be playing in their very first Super Bowl. I've been a Saints fan for years because of Ron, but they've struggled for years. And the city of New Orleans has struggled in the years since Hurricane Katrina. When the Saints reached 8 and 0 this season, it was the first time they'd ever been 8 and 0. Then they kept winning. And winning. It really seemed possible they could make it to the Super Bowl. Now it just seems like Destiny that they win.

Here is a picture of the birthday cake Ron ordered from me from one of the local grocery stores.

He picked it up yesterday. Last night he kept asking me if I wanted to start celebrating my birthday early -- have the cake, open my present, etc. I declined, saying I wanted to wait for my birthday. He admitted he wanted to start eating the cake, but I knew that. It's Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Carrot cake means it's healthy, right? The decoration in the middle -- the helmets against the Miami skyline -- is something called an edible decal. The cake looks even better in real life and I wish you could smell it; that cream cheese frosting smells so good!