Friday, October 31, 2008

Skywatch Friday - 10/31/08

Happy Halloween!

This week's Skywatch Friday photo was taken last weekend: we watched some fabulously ominous storm clouds roll in over Henderson Bay in Sackets Harbor, New York.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

sackets getaway

We made it up to the cottage over the weekend. It was probably my last chance for relaxation before the holiday madness.

The weather on Saturday was completely miserable. It rained all day long. So we stuffed ourselves full of food. Kristi and I made some great progress on our crochet projects, and we carved pumpkins!

Kristi's Mr. Bill pumpkin was the result of a happy, unintended carving mishap:

The weather on Sunday was much more conducive to coffee on the beach and strolls up Woods Road:

Stay tuned for photos of the storm rolling in over Henderson. I'll post those on Friday for Skywatch. They're pretty incredible.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Skywatch Friday - 10/24/08

For Skywatch Friday... I have been taking a lot of photos of marshes and swamps lately. This one was from the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Images of Autumn, Part 2

Ahh, Montezuma. Last time we visited, we didn't see anything too out of the ordinary. There were lots of great shore birds, ducks and geese. Loved the coots and American wigeon. I was hoping to see some brant or snow geese. No such luck. We did get some good looks at a bunch of yellow-rumped warblers bee-bopping around in the area below. They sure enjoyed flashing their rear-ends at us!

The vistas were spectacular as always, but the leaves floating in all the various pools were also interesting to look at.

Last weekend Kirk and Kristi joined us for a roasted turkey breast dinner. We gorged as usual. I think the table looked unusually nice, with my assorted gourds and herbs and clippings from the yard. I wished I had some pinecones, though!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Images of Autumn

A few weeks ago I was out in the yard trying to get some things cleaned up, weeds pulled, leaves raked, etc. It was a gorgeous day.

These gourds came right out of the compost pile in the backyard:

I pulled out a ton of weeds, but I left the pokeberry, in case some passing Cedar Waxwings happened to stop by:

I've got a few other great photos from our visits to Iroquois and Montezuma National Wildlife Refuges from the same weekend. And shots of the dinner party we had this past Sunday. I'll get to those eventually.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

mice stories

Very early this morning whilst dreaming about John McCain's angry, rolling bug eyes and the phrase "the failed (insert your favorite issue here) policies of the last eight years", at approximately 2:34 a.m., I heard a thud followed by a scurry and then Isabel's anxious whirring and howling. Scurry under the bed, scurry around the bedroom. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. More howling and a little whining. I figured she just had a bad case of the midnight crazies.

"Isabel! Shut up!" (Yes, we know yelling at the cats really is not all that effective a deterrent, yet for some reason we do it anyway.)

Scurry, scurry.

By now, Ryan and I were both wide awake and wondering what the hell was going on. Something had Isabel ALL worked up and it was obvious we would not be sleeping until this issue was resolved.

"I'm turning on the light."

I peered over the end of the bed, blinking as my eyes adjusted to the sudden assault of light. Isabel was hunkered down, crouched over something. And then, under her paws, I saw the little tail swish. And then she let the poor thing go and it took off. We watched Isabel play a cruel game of catch and release with the creature until Ryan got out of bed, captured the thing, took it downstairs and let it go outside.

This is the second time this month the cats have proven themselves to be at least halfway decent mousers. A few weeks ago while Julia and Matt were visiting us, the cats discovered and chased a cute little brown one all over the house. The darn thing ran up Ryan's pant-leg to get away from everyone. Ryan ran outside, clutching at his jeans, to let it go. About a half an hour later, when things had calmed down a bit, we were sitting on the couch in the living room when his face paled.

"I think it's still in my pants, " he said.

We went out to the back porch. He took off his jeans and shook them and out dropped the mouse. We let that one go outside, too.

At this point, mice in our house are no big deal anymore. As in, I know they're around and I don't freak out about them. Though they seem to have a relatively high entertainment value, I just don't want them pulling out the couch stuffing. I thought the buggers were coming in to the house from the cellar by way of the water pipes under the kitchen sink. I had jammed a bunch of steel wool under there, so either that didn't work, or they're infiltrating from elsewhere.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for humane pest control.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

uh oh, a rash!

Does anyone have an antihistamine handy? I have developed a rather nasty red, itchy rash on my face, neck and chest. And while I can’t see it under my hair on my scalp, I suspect it’s there also, as well as behind my ears. My eyelids and cheeks feel puffy and swollen and I am in a general state of malaise.

I don't normally have bad allergic reactions. I stay away from the things that I know cause me problems, i.e. large quantities of MSG in my Asian food and medication from the tetracycline family. I discovered the tetracycline allergy the hard way - in 1999 I was taking Doxycycline for a UTI when after about 12 hours or so, every inch of my body above my waist broke out in hives. I was a hideous scarlet splotchy freak of nature when I went on a job interview the following day. That's probably why I didn't get that job.

Anyway, this morning, after my shower, as I was combing out my tangles in front of the mirror, this rash appearead. I can't figure it out. There are only two things I did differently in the last 12 hours, so maybe one of those things is what caused this.

Last night, while watching the debate, I had a monster cup of chai from a Tastefully Simple mix that I bought from a friend of mine. I've had it before, but not in a really long time, so this morning, I double-checked the ingrediant list: Pure cane sugar, nonfat milk powder, nondairy creamer (partially hydrogenated coconut oil, corn syrup solids, sodium caseinate,
mono and diglycerides, dipotassium phosphate, lecithin), natural tea blend
(black tea, darjeeling), honey, natural flavors, bourbon vanilla extract from
Madagascar, natural spice blend (cinnamon, aniseed, cardamom, clove,
ginger), vegetable gums.

EEK. I suppose it's possible that I have a sensitivity to one or more of those CHEMICALS. Like dipotassium phosphate. Which is used as a fertilizer and pesticide.

The other thing that deviated from my usual morning routine was my facial cleanser choice. Both Ryan and I use Kirk's Castile Soap for facial cleansing (and he uses it for all-body cleansing as well). Well, Ryan is out of town for a couple of days and took with him the bar we had in the shower. So I used Dr. Bronner's Citrus Liquid Soap to wash my face instead. I have used it several times before, not usually on my face, but I have washed my neck and chest with it before and did not get a rash.

Maybe my eyelids will swell shut and I'll have to go home. That would be better than being embarrassed in front of clients all day long.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

getting tired of politics

I admit it. I'm fed up. I'm tired of the he-said-she-said stuff. I have grown weary of the hypocrisy, especially that of the Republican "spin-machine."

It pissed me off big time when Sarah Palin, during the VP debate last week, accused Joe Biden of dredging up the past. And then what did she do? She turned around this week and brought up the whole Obama/William Ayers/Weather Underground thing. Real classy, Palin. She conveniently omitted from her baseless attack that Obama was 8 years old when Ayers was doing his anit-Vietnam protesting.

To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, a political campaign is like a great big circus, where there's a mass baptism and a few hangings along the way.

Yes, I am going to watch the Obama/McCain debate tonight, but I'll be glad when this is all over.

Friday, October 03, 2008

date night/debate night

Instead of going out for date night this week, we decided to stay home and park it on the sofa. We ordered a pizza from Little Venice, opened a bottle of Yalumba Shiraz Voignier, and watched the debate.

Like most everyone else, we had pretty low expectations for Sarah Palin. I don't like her. Not even close. I think she makes women look bad; like we wouldn't be able to hack it in the White House. I think she is recklessly undoing all of the good that Hillary Clinton has done for women. (For further commentary on this particular dymanic, see this article from Slate.)

Ryan and I cheered for Joe Biden and shook our heads in digust when Palin started rambling on about things that didn't make any sense. We were worried that Joe wouldn't keep his cool. I have to give him a lot of credit for holding himself together every time Palin said something asinine. Instead of getting angry, he just flashed that spectacular Irish smile.

I think both candidates handeled themselves well, but Biden clearly had more of a command of the issues. His experience spoke volumes above Palin's lack thereof. (In fact, I like to joke that I have more foreign policy experience than Sarah Palin simply because I was a Student Ambassador and traveled overseas. To other continents. I even attended a session of Parliament in Canberra in 1992. That qualifies me for the VP, doesn't it??)

So, Obama's poll numbers jumped after last night. Good. What I want most out of this election is for people to realize that voting is about using your brain just as much as, if not more than, using your heart. It is blatantly apparent, abundantly obvious, painfully so, that Sarah Palin should not be in this race. What will it take for the American people to realize this?

Don't you want someone in the White House who is smarter than you? I do.