Friday, September 30, 2005

Lagging Behind
When I worked as an IT (IT = Information Technology, meaning computers) professional in corporate America, backups were not only expected, they were mandatory. Usually mandated by law, but certainly mandated by good business practice.

Remember the shoemaker's son who went barefoot?

I've been muttering about backing up my laptop documents ever since I bought it nearly three years ago. Two months ago (good grief!) DH bought an external hard drive for me. I see it sitting on the floor under the table were I keep my laptop when it's not in my lap. The box has never been opened.

This is very stupid of me, and I wrote this to put myself to shame and maybe inspire some action. I need to open the box, at the very least. And then read the documentation (or not) and do some backing up.

Phone Service
When I called to order phone service as we moved into this house on a dirt road in the swampy woods fourteen years ago, Verizon told me I would need to go on a party line until a private line became available.

A party line in the 1990's? That was my first clue that there might be some disadvantages to rural living.

A party line, for those of you too young to remember, is a phone line shared by two or more households. Household A picks up the receiver to make a call and possibly hears Household B having a conversation. Household A can not make or receive phonecalls while Household B is using the phone. But Household A can listen to everything Household B says on the phone if they like.

My corporate America employer did not think a party line was acceptable for an employee that needed to be called during off hours, so they used their muscle to intervene and we did get a private line.

Verizon has improved phone service to this area since then, but not much. A few months ago DH picked up the receiver and heard people talking. He asked them who they were, and, although they were reluctant to tell him, they did tell him they were having a cell phone conversation.

We have no cable available, we have no DSL available, we have dialup. In dry weather with a lucky dial, we can hook up at 45.2 kbps tops. Lately it's been raining. When it's raining we are rarely able to top 38 kbps. We know the moisture gets into the Verizon equipment because sometimes it turns to ice and then we have no phone service at all.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday Tidbits for September 15
Bees on the goldenrodBuzz in the Back
For the past several weeks there's been a buzz in the back field. This time of year the field is dominated by goldenrod, and each blossom has multiple bees collecting the goldenrod nectar and pollen.

There are bumblebees, honey bees, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets.

The goldenrod bloom is their last chance to collect food for the winter.

As the dogs and I walk down the mowed paths between the goldenrod, we brush against the plants that are leaning onto the path. The bees are so busy they don't even notice us.

Close up of bee on the goldenrodGathering the Gold
In this bee closeup, you can see the loaded, golden pollen sacs on the bee's legs.

The goldenrod pollen is very high quality and protein rich. It's also very sticky and easy to collect. It doesn't go airborne, which is why goldenrod is not responsible for fall allergies. It only gets blamed because it is so abundant and colorful.

Snap the Apple
The large snapping turtle came out of the pond, walked up the bank to the apple tree, grabbed an apple in its mouth, and ran back to the water.

It's one of the regrets of my summer that I didn't get a picture of that. Snapping turtles gathering apples are much quicker than I would have guessed.

Once the turtle was back in the pond, it let go of the apple. The apple floated on the water, and the turtle ate it from the bottom, under the water. Bob and I watched the apple bob around while the turtle was eating, amazed at what we were watching.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm Smiling Now!
Had a three hour lunch at Bravo with a good friend. We hadn't seen each other in two months and had a wonderful time catching up and enjoying each other's company. And eating, of course. We both had a delicious, tender steak covered with blue cheese sauce and artichokes. Heavenly.

Booked a trip to Idaho to visit Granddaughter Sydney and her wonderful parents. October 18 through October 25. Got a decent price on the tickets and, just as important and just as difficult to manage, only have one stop over each way. It's in Minneapolis, one of my favorite airports.

Booked a trip to Charolottesville, Virginia to have Thanksgiving with Sister Doris, Brother-in-Law John, Sister Carrie. Mom is traveling with me. We're actually going to a little town called Scottsville where Doris and John are just finishing the building of a beautiful house in the woods. They hope to have appliances before it's time to cook the holiday dinner. Or maybe we're eating out? I'm a little short on details, but I'm really looking forward to seeing my sisters again.

The yarn mess is sorted. My stash now only contains yarn I actually intend to knit someday. The rest will be off to the Restash Network as soon as I get a box big enough to hold all of it. A most excellent purge.

Once again there was no knitting today, but there are plans for knitting tomorrow.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Trying To Smile
Unhappy faceI feel cranky and unhappy. Why? I don't have a good reason.

There are plans that aren't working out, the price of gas is way too high, summer is over, I don't feel as well as I would like, and the world isn't perfect. But that's life, and I don't normally react to it by getting cranky and unhappy.

At least I know it's a temporary mood without a cause. I can zip my lips and wait for it to pass.

With three dogs needing attention and walks, there's no going to bed and pulling the covers over my head. It's too hot to do that, anyway. We've been having daytime temps in the 90s, but it cools down beautifully at night.

Have you figured out yet I have no knitting to write about?

I've been working on the corner of the spare bedroom that holds my stash in bins. So much more there than I remembered. So unorganized. It didn't get done today, but hopefully tomorrow will see the finish of the sorting. There will be several large boxes going out to Restash Network coordinators.

The coordinators of the Restash Network are taking yarn and needles directly to the shelters and giving it to knitters who want it and will use it. Several are making up kits with yarn, pattern, and needles. What a great way to cull my stash without guilt while doing something for evacuee knitters.

The thought of making someone else happy makes sorting out piles of unorganized yarn almost enjoyable.

Happy face

Now I need to plaster a smile on my face and take Sunny to doggy school.

Good girl Marguerite!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sunny Shines at the Vet's Office
Close up of Sunny looking backwardWhy are you sticking that pan under my butt every time I squat to pee?

Sunny went in for blood and urine rechecks today. The news was good, but not excellent.

After two weeks of antibiotics, her white cell count is back in the normal range.

Dr. B. is still concerned about her urine being too dilute. He would like to measure her water intake over a 24 hour period. To do that, we would need to keep her separated from the other dogs. Not an easy thing to do. My guess is that she would be so upset at being kept away from the heart of the family the results of the measuring would be meaningless.

Since her blood work is all normal now, meaning no kidney problems or diabetes, we're not doing it unless she starts leaking again.

The incontinence problem that started all this testing has been resolved with 1 mg of estrogen a week. If she starts "leaking" again, we will address the dilute urine problem in more detail.

The first time I had to do a doggy urine collection, I had no idea how to go about it.

This sneaky method works with Sunny:

  1. Use a shallow pie plate shaped pan. It's better if it's plastic because pee hitting a metal pan makes a startling noise and the dog jumps. I have a Glad plastic plate to use for doggy urine collection.

  2. Take the dog out on a short leash.

  3. Wait until she squats and just starts to pee. Then, slide the edge of the plate under her back legs as far as possible without bumping her legs.

  4. Careful not to spill the urine before you get it poured into a taller container. It's nice to have help. When I don't have help I set the plate down, take the dog into the house, and then go back out to get the sample.

Vets don't need very much, so if you don't get the entire catch it's OK.

I've never done a collection on a male dog. That would require some different planning.

The best plan is to tell your dog to stay healthy so you never have to do it.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Dog Ears
It's Pappy's night at doggy school. We're standing in line waiting our turn to do a long distance drop on recall. I was half watching the working dog and half looking at Grayson, the beautiful Australian Shepherd in line ahead of us.

"Grayson looks handsome tonight. Looks like his ear finally went up," I remarked.

"Prick ears," his owner answered with a voice so disgusted she might have been saying "dog vomit."

That got my attention. "Huh?" It was beginning to register that I'd said something stupid and probably offensive.

"They're called prick ears. They're a severe fault in the breed. He didn't get them from his father, they came from his mother."

I looked across the room where Grayson's father, Casey, was training. I've know Casey for three years now and his ears are breed standard, breaking forward and over. Whatever was I thinking? Even more important, what do I say next?

Grayson's owner is a kind lady. She gave me an out by saying, "Lots of people like the erect ears."

I still felt very sorry for mentioning Grayson's ears. Ears can be a very sensitive topic for dog owners.

Pappy the PapillonMy little Papillon rescue dog Pappy has one ear that hangs because the cartilage is broken, either from abuse or an accident. I'm forever having well intending people tell me how cute it is that one ear is up and the other down.

I never know how to respond to that compliment. While I don't give a hoot about meeting Pappy's breed standard, I do care that one of his ears was so badly injured. The fallen ear will never be cute to me because of the pain it represents, but it is endearing.

I'm going to start answering that way: "It is endearing." Much better than trying to splutter thanks for something I wish wasn't true.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Let's Play Turtle
Sunny and her toy turtleNothing gets Sunny's adrenaline pumping quicker than a squeak from her toy turtle.

She hops, skips, and levitates at the sight of it. She goes completely bonkers at the sound of it.

She loves playing turtle fetch, she loves playing turtle tug, and she loves playing turtle catch. She is obsessed with shaking it hard enough to kill it.

Sunny with her toy turtle in her mouthShe's hard on turtles.

Until now, I've always kept at least one spare hidden away. The store that has carried turtles for four years no longer has them. I can't find them on the internet. This one is looking a little ratty and the squeaker is not working.

What am I going to do? How can I explain this to Sunny? Help!

Close up of Sunnys last toy turtleSeriously now, if anyone knows where I can get one (or a hundred) of these things, please let me know.

It's a Krislin Latex Dog Toy, 50-094.

A Google search for Krislin shows a few recalls and a few boycotts because they're made in China.