Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm having a bad week . . .

Where to start?

Let's see, now both my dogs have diarrhea (but seem to feel ok) and I can't determine what is causing it . . .

My mother had minor surgery this week (which turned out fine), and but lead to me missing two days of work and spending 13 hours at the hospital . . .

My left sinus/glands are so swollen that they are pressing on my left upper molars, making me want to pull out my wisdom tooth with a pliers (alternatively, the tooth/teeth are impacted) . . .

But then I remember the 37 year old woman in the hospital bed next to my mom's who had the best attitude in the world even though she'd just found out that they had ran out of options to treat her congenital kidney condition, and she had 6 months to 5 years to live.

So overall, I think I should count my blessings.

UPDATE: The girls are pooing better . . . (too much information?)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Anyone wondering what the overnight weather in Southern California was like on Saturday night? Well, let me tell you . . .

Since my last post, Hanna (and the rest of us) had a pretty rough weekend.

Because she hadn't had anything unusual to eat, I'm assuming Hanna's upset stomach was a belated side effect of the anesthesia, but it made for a rough rest of the weekend. We didn't get much sleep Saturday night since we had to go for a walk to go to the bathroom at 11:30 pm (drizzling), 12:30 am (drizzling), 1:30 am (pouring rain), and 3:30 am (back to drizzling). After going out again at 6:30 am, I headed over to 7-11 for Pepto Bismol - which can be safely given to dogs. It took a few doses (1/2 tablespoon per 15 lbs. of dog), but by 4 pm, her tummy had calmed down, and we had a good night's sleep last night. Let me tell you, Pepto mixed in with dog food and plenty of water (to make sure she didn't get dehydrated), is truly disgusting. The good news is that all seems well today.

My plans for Sunday were put on hold, and I spent the day watching season 1 of Murder She Wrote on Netflix Watch it Now, and I started another knitting project.

Here is my version of Quant, using some Silk Garden yarn I had in my stash. (It's a headband). The entrelac pattern is challenging enough to be interesting, and the project is a quick knit. The good news? No finishing!

I hope your weekend was more fun/restful/productive.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Here is my dirty little secret - - I love to knit, but I hate to finish the sweaters by stitching the pieces together . . . I have now finished knitting three cardigans that need to be completed for wearing.

My goal for this weekend is to at least complete one of the three . . .
And thanks to everyone for their good wishes for Hanna. She is feeling much better today!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Poor Nanners . . .
Hanna has a big gash in her side after having an ugly lump removed yesterday. While the other lump was a benign lipoma, this nasty one was neither a lipoma nor a sebaceous cyst. The Vet treated it for the worst case scenario, and took out some surrounding tissue too to make sure he got it all.
She was pretty out of it last night, and is a bit more chipper today, but it seems to hurt her to transition from standing to lying down, so she has been standing around alot looking longingly at her dog bed.
Hopefully, that will lessen over this weekend . . .
Poor Nanners . . .
UPDATE - Hanna is feeling MUCH better this afternoon!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I frequently receive emails asking me to send a message to my senators, my congressman, or various cabinet officials, asking them to support or oppose various actions and bills affecting the environment and wildlife. Just today I have filled out forms to send a message protesting the federal government's decision to allow the slaughter of wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Region, and to ask my congressman to support a bill protecting polar bears.

While I would generally think that these mass mailings to officials have little impact, I remain mindful that the Humane Society's email assault on the NFL and Nike impacted their actions as to Michael Vick.

What I find interesting is the response you get. I received email responses earlier this week from both California Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Fienstein, thanking me for contacting them about a global warming bill. However, my congressman is one of the worst in the country - Republican Dana Rohrbacher. So while I dutifully send my emails to him, I do it primarily to irritate him and his staff. I have written him letters before on a variety of issues, and never receive any response.

In contrast, when State Assemblyman Jim Silva (R) sent out a questionnaire seeking confirmation that his constituency agreed with him that the most important issue facing us today was making sure we weren't paying to house any illegal aliens in our jails - like those liberals want the state to do (and I'm quoting here) - and seeking confirmation that we should spend tens of thousands of dollars to root them out of the jail population, I wrote back "Please don't spend my tax dollars on your own personal political agenda" and signed it "one of those liberals". I recently received a response thanking me for supporting hiim on this important issue. (I had asked to be excluded from future mailings).

While I'm not a huge fan of John McCain, I have to admit that when he voted against a bill that would have allowed drilling in ANWR, I wrote him a thank you note, and received a response that actually addressed the issue. In contrast, I received no response to my letters to the two Hawaiian Democratic Senators, chastising them for voting for the bill . . .

Does any of this have any impact? Who knows, but I guess I have to try.

On another note, Hanna is having surgery today to remove two lumps - Get Well Soon, Hanna!

(Old photo of her hangin' on the porch)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Twelve Days?

I couldn't find an entry in Guinness World Records for the longest head cold, but I'm pretty sure my 12 days and counting has got to be in the running.

The cold is my justification for being terribly cranky, but these are my observations on the day . . .

Obama, Bill and Hillary - stop snarking at each other. Your fellow Dems are not the enemy.

Rudolph Guiliani should fire his campaign manager. The strategy of waiting until Fl0rida to actively become involved in the primaries had ended his campaign before it even started.

I'm hoping for the first Super Bowl where neither team wins.

I'd like to lose weight, but I don't want to diet, and I feel too crappy to exercise.

Sure, it was after I'd eaten breakfast and lunch, and I was fully dressed, including wearing boots, but how in God's name can the scale at my doctor's office be 12 freakin' pounds heavier than my scale at home?

I realized yesterday that I didn't make as much money last year as I thought - I'd added in income for 13 months, rather than the generally accepted 12 months.

I'm glad I bought the economy sized Nyquil, but how many nights in a row can you take it before you officially become addicted?

And finally, no matter how many times I blow my nose, miraculously, I never run out of snot.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Isn't it Ironic?

A Canadian man survived 96 hours pinned under his all-terrain vehicle in the Rocky Mountains by eating rotting animal carcasses and drinking melted snow.

He said he was checking animal traps on January 8 in an area about 80 miles southwest of Calgary, where ranchers had complained of wolves preying on livestock. The vehicle hit a rock, throwing him off and settling on his legs.

I'm going to go out on a limb (pun intended) and guess that he doesn't see the irony of his being trapped by having his leg pinned down while he was out checking on his barbaric animal traps.
Besides, a real man would have gnawed through his own leg. . . .

Speaking of real men, I recently purchased an audible book - Three Cups of Tea. The website describes the book as follows:

In 1993 Greg Mortenson was descending from his failed attempt to reach the peak of K2. Exhausted and disoriented, he wandered away from his group into the most desolate reaches of northern Pakistan. Alone, without food, water, or shelter he eventually stumbled into an impoverished Pakistani village where he was nursed back to health.

While recovering he observed the village’s 84 children sitting outdoors, scratching their lessons in the dirt with sticks. The village was so poor that it could not afford the $1-a-day salary to hire a teacher. When he left the village, he promised that he would return to build them a school.

From that rash, heartfelt promise grew one of the most incredible humanitarian campaigns of our time: Greg Mortenson’s one-man mission to counteract extremism and terrorism by building schools—especially for girls—throughout the breeding ground of the Taliban.

Twelve years later he’s built fifty-five schools. In 2005, the schools educated 24,000 children.

Two men: one's an idiot, one's a hero.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Charger game didn't start until Noon, so this morning I watched Matt Damon in the Bourne Ultimatum. I'm a big fan of Bond films and the like, and I thought this film was a helluva lotta fun. The movie is very well done, and Damon is great as Bourne.

I had big plans for all the things I was going to accomplish today (around the Game, of course), but my recovery from my cold seems to have regressed, so I'm being pretty lazy, knitting and surfing the net. Yes, the Charger game has started, but it is making me so nervous that I have to find something to keep me busy . . . (Chargers are up 3-0, but the evil empire is moving the ball down the field . . .)

Hanna has surgery scheduled for Thursday; she has a couple of lumps that don't feel completely like the benign lumps old Labradors get, (she'll be 8 next month) so we're going to play it safe and have them removed. I'm actually more worried about Noodles - when I load Hanna into the car, but leave Samantha at home, I'll be able to hear her cries all the way down the street. My neighbors have offered to let her hang out with them . . .

If anyone needs me, I'll be pacing around the house . . .

Chargers lose . . . bummer

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I'm not a very high-tech gal, but as the proud 5 day owner of an iPhone, I have to say that it is a ton of fun. I'm still learning all the bells and whistles, but it is really, really cool. I've managed to create a custom ringtone (Hard Sun by Eddie Vedder from the Into the Wild soundtrack) and find my home on a satellite photo.

Here are a couple of photos I snapped on it today while the girls and I were out running a few errands.

Noodles sits in the back like a big girl (she used to be scared of riding in the car, and had to sit on your lap).

Hanna, on the other hand, insists on leading the charge.

Monday, January 14, 2008

We enjoyed some really fun wolf watching while I was in Yellowstone. The primary pack we observed is the Druid Peak pack (most of which are pictured, above) that controls the Lamar Valley. They hung around the same part of the valley for a couple of days, feeding on a bull elk carcass. This is the alpha female having a nibble.

The pack currently has 16 members, including the beta male, Wolf 302. As wolves are collared in the Park, they receive a number. While few have nicknames, 302, a big black wolf, is known as "Casanova". Because he cannot breed within his pack (he's the beta, not the alpha, male, and many of the females are his kin - wolves actively avoid inter-family breeding), each spring he takes off in search of romance. When I was in Yellowstone last February, he was all the talk because he had managed to badly injure his leg while out carousing, and it was unclear if he would make it back to the Druids. I learned this year that he is back and better than ever).

It took 302 years to join the Druids, and it was only after Wolf 21 (the old alpha male) died, that he was welcomed into the pack. What goes around, comes around, and there are currently two lone gray wolves sniffing around, hoping to join the Druids. While the current alpha male doesn't mind them, and the puppies love them, 302 keeps running them off. Since they are 1-2 years old, and 302 is 7-8 years old, they don't have much trouble keeping ahead of him in a chase.

The little, light gray wolf was especially pitiful. Here he is curled up alone on a snowy hilltop, waiting for the chance to feed on the bull elk carcass being devoured by the Druids. (Ok, so it's not an award winning photo). The little gray has a bare stomach, and no one knows what has caused it. While it could be mange, he wasn't seen scratching. It could also be from scarring. Two days in a row we observed him curled up, hungry and apart from the Druids, and we all felt sorry for the little guy.

The final day we had had no luck spotting wolves; the visibility was poor, and it seemed that they had all gone farther into the hills. Then, at the end of the day, as we were driving past the part of the valley where the little gray had been, we spotted a lone black wolf pulling at another old elk carcass in a stream pretty near the road. Lo and behold the little gray was in the area too. Much to our delight, we were able to observe love blossom between the little fella and a good looking gal. It was fun watching them interact - approaching each other with tails wagging - but then separating again. Finally, the interactions increased as night was falling, and we could hear the little gray whimpering to her . . . . Then he started into a plaintive howling, and that finally won her heart. They took off together, playing and romping, and when last spotted, they had disappeared into the trees together.

Who knows if love will last, but we were all overjoyed that the lone wolf had found a friend.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Puzzle for the week. My time - 5:38.

Click to Mix and Solve

Apparently, hell has frozen over, and the Chargers beat the Colts! Despite the mollycoddling given the Colts by the officials, and injuries to the Chargers' quarterback and star running back, they pulled out the victory!
The prize? A trip to New England next week to play the Patriots . . .
Go Bolts!!!!!

In Yellowstone, we stayed at the Buffalo Ranch in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone. We stayed in cabins, (that's my cabin in the middle) and the food was catered by Zac, and was wonderful. At night, you could hear the coyotes outside your door exchanging howls with the coyotes in the surrounding hills. The bathhouse was seperate, but pretty darn nice, including having heated floors. (The electricity at the ranch is provided by solar panels.)

I was able to see a couple of animals I've never seen before, including river otters in the river along which this photo was taken (they are too quick for photos!), and a pine marten.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I had a great time in Yellowstone, even if I brought back a cold with me. Here are some photos from our first snowshoe expedition.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

By this time tomorrow, I should be surrounded by snow, instead of rain, in the natural beauty of Yellowstone National Park.

I hope everyone has a safe, sane and satisfying week . . .

They said it wouldn't happen until pigs can fly . . .

But the Chargers won a play-off game!

Next week . . . Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

This week's puzzle - my time - 5:43

Click to Mix and Solve

Good things about this Sunday:

1. It is one day before my vacation;

2. The Chargers are in the play-offs; and

3. The fifth and final season of the Wire starts on HBO.

I'm not a huge TV watcher, except for my obsessive devotion to Murder She Wrote, Ellery Queen, Diagnosis Murder, and Law & Order Criminal Intent. You may notice that only one of these shows was made in the last 20 years. I would go so far as to say most TV these days is complete crap, except for The Office and 30 Rock.

The other exception to this is HBO's The Wire, a show that has been called the best show on TV by by TIME, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, the Chicago Tribune, Slate, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Philadelphia Daily News. Despite the positive reviews, the show has failed to draw an audience commensurate with its quality.

The show was created by David Simon, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, and has a wonderful team of writers including Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos. Each season has delved into a different aspect of life in the crumbling inner city of Baltimore: the battle between drug dealers and the police; problems on the docks; corrupt politicians; and the schools. In particular, season four dealing with the ineffectual education system should be required viewing for anyone trying to implement "no child left behind". The finale was heartbreaking.

All the characters - and the casts are extensive - are developed and realistic. Police officers are not all good, and drug lords are not all bad. The show has been described as "Dickensian" - Dickens used the setting of London to shed a light on society's ills, and Simon does the same with the Wire, set in Baltimore.

I can't in good conscious urge anyone not familiar with the show to tune in on Sunday. Instead, I beg you to begin with Season one on DVD, and bring yourself up to the current season. In a day and age where few politicians focus on domestic problems on the campaign trail, and where most news programs focus on fluff, the Wire reminds us that there are many tragic problems close to home that should not be conveniently ignored.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Go Obama! I was pleased to see Barack Obama come out in front in the Iowa caucus, although I have no idea what a caucus is . . .

I like Obama, and I think he is a nice change from business as usual. I'm also mindful that national polls show Hillary Clinton losing to every potential GOP candidate . . .

All of the GOP candidates still scare the bejesus out of me.

Looks cold, eh? This is where I will be, albeit very bundled up, in two days. Last year's visit to Yellowstone left me pretty well prepared for this trip. We are staying in old cabins in the Park, so the guests need to bring sleeping bags, pillows, towels, etc., but the food will be catered and brought in every day - beer and wine even! This trip should also involve a bit more showshoeing, which I am looking forward to. Our guides also report that there has been exceptional wolf activity of late . . .

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Do you remember the first 45 record you bought? How about your first album?

For me, the first two 45s I recall buying were Eli's Coming/Circle for a Landing by Three Dog Night, and Down on the Corner by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I was about 8 years old. My best friend at the time and I had dances we would dress up in old petticoats and perform to each record

The first album I recall owning was given to me for Christmas - The Partridge Family Album by the Partridge Family. . . .

How about you?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

This sweet HP dv9700t laptop is winding its way from Costco to my office. It was recommended to me by the friends who hosted the Rose Bowl party, and it is a sweet computer. I made a couple of late 2007 investments into my business, and I'm very excited about this upgrade to my computing.

Hallelujah! And remind me not to let Noodles walk across the keyboard.

Law & Order has made some cast changes. I'm going to give a thumbs up to adding Jeremy Sisto as Ed Green's partner, but I'm not so thrilled with moving Sam Waterston's Jack McCoy from the courtroom to the office . . . I'm not sure who the actor is playing the new ADA, but the '80s feathered haircut has to go . . .

Heavy rain is expected in So Cal over the next few days - wish my luck coaxing Noodles out of the house . . .

I'm off to put together slow cooker oatmeal for breakfast manana . . .

Goodnight Gracie!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The holidays are over, and the girls and I are exhausted. I went to some friends' house today for the Rose Bowl game. The game was a bit lopsided, but it was great seeing some old friends, and learning to play "Left, Right, Center", a fun dice game. I've really enjoyed taking some time off, but tomorrow, it's back to the grindstone . . . for this week anyways, then I am off to Yellowstone next Monday.