Thursday, December 30, 2010

Not too bad

I was just looking back at January of this year to see if I resolved anything or not. I didn't, sort of. Instead, I said I wanted to get into better shape, go to the gym several times a week, and go hiking more often. And I did. I am definitely in better shape than I was in January, and I have been going to the gym at least 3, often 4 or even 5 times a week, most weeks. Hiking took a hit simply because it was way too hot for much of the summer to even go for a walk around the neighborhood, let alone tromping through the woods.

So now I have to think of non-resolutions for this year. One blog I read, by a dog behaviorist suggested making a commitment, instead of a resolution, to working on something specific with your dog. Sounds like a good plan to me. Off the top of my head, my goal is to help Miikka be a more polite dog, especially when guests come over. He loves people so much that he just has to jump all over them, get attention from them, and behaves like a brat. And he still doesn't understand the point of stay, if treats are not being handed out at 2 second intervals. Sigh. I guess the canine good citizen class is in our future (after our next round of tennis classes and the baby tennis league we will be in - it meets at the same time...)

There is one. Shall I try for others, or is that enough? I will have to think about that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some of my top books of 2010

Hey, it is the end of the year, time for making lists. Since I don't have any pictures to share yet (they are off the camera, but not off the external hard drive...), I am going to give you some book recommendations.  These are ten of the books I really enjoyed this year, in no particular order. They may or may not have been published in 2010, some are fiction, some are not.
  • Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff - I am not quite done with this, but I will be by Friday, so it counts. Anyway, I am learning a lot, like the fact that all the accounts we have of Cleopatra were written by her enemies, mostly misogynist Roman men. Instead of being a witch, or just a seductress, she was a highly capable, incredibly intelligent leader of a vast and wealthy kingdom in a very turbulent era. 
  • The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow - I picked up a signed copy from the author at ALA. I was a little hesitant about it, since it seemed like it belonged on Oprah's book list, and I tend to avoid such things, but I really enjoyed it. There are lots of themes and ideas in it that make it perfect for a book club.
  • Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson - a dog book that can tug at your heartstrings without having to resort to a dead dog. A lovely look at what goes into training a search and rescue dog and handler, I read this in less than 24 hours. And I have been pushing on anyone who comes into our library looking for something to read, no matter what they are there for.
  • Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson - I listened to this on CD in my car during my commute. Again, another of those books I wasn't sure I would like, but which I fell in love with. Major Pettigrew is a very upright, proper British gentleman, embattled by a selfish son, a difficult sister-in-law, and a modernizing world that doesn't seem to have any manners. He starts a friendship with a widowed Pakistani shopkeeper, which turns everything in his life upside down.
  • Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires - One of the most adorable children's books I have read in a long time. 
  • Out on a Limb by Louise Baker - a memoir from the 1940s by a woman who lost a leg in an accident as a child, but didn't let it slow her down. I stumbled upon it during some inventory work here at the library. 
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson - I loved this trilogy, and picked up a copy of the third book in Amsterdam, before it came out here. I read it in one gulp, without stopping, on the plane flight home.
  • Soulless by Gail Carriger - Book One of the Parasol Protectorate series, all of which are delightful. A felicitous discovery that has become one of my favorite steampunk/SF/mystery series. Alexia Tarabotti is not a young woman to be trifled with!
  • The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley - I think I picked this up in wake of the National Parks series on PBS, and it took me a while to read, since it is long and dense, but I really enjoyed it. Theodore Roosevelt is pretty high up on my list of favorite presidents. He had his faults, but he sure did a lot of good for this country. 
  • The Case for God by Karen Armstrong - Another dense book that took me a while to read. A refreshing book that kept me saying "Aha."
I haven't included everything that I liked, so if you want to see what else I have been reading in 2010, I encourage you to get an account on Goodreads. Then you can look at all my various lists, and create some of your own.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A couple of movie recommendations

Tis the season for watching movies.  We rarely go to see movies in the theater, and although we have a Netflix subscription, we don't watch all that many movies at home either.  This is mostly because of me, and my general dislike of the movie form, I will admit. But during the holidays, I somehow become far more open to movies, at home and in the theater. So, over Thanksgiving we went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, and over this past long holiday weekend, we saw two movies that I want to recommend.

The first was a DVD we got from Netflix - Stranger Than Fiction.  A man begins to hear a voice in his head, narrating his every move, and it says he is going to die soon. At the same time, in the same city, an author is trying to get over her writer's block and figure out how to kill her character (the death of the main character being her trademark stylist flourish). It stars Will Ferrell, who I usually cannot stand but here quite liked, Emma Thompson, Queen Latifah, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Dustin Hoffman, as a hilarious over-worked literature professor (he is head faculty life guard - ha!). I don't know why this movie didn't make more noise when it came out in 2006 - it did get nominated for Golden Globes, but otherwise, poof. Anyway, rent it, you will probably enjoy it greatly.

The second movie we saw this weekend was True Grit, the new re-make by the Coen brothers. Again, I don't really like the Coen brothers (or at least, I think I don't. I have enjoyed several of their movies, but didn't like Fargo, which is probably where that idea comes from) but this movie was really, really good. The music was just the right kind of Western music, the actress playing the main character was wonderful, and Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon were also really good. Now I have to go read the novel - written by an Arkansan, and set partially in Arkansas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Home-made toffee, gingerbread, carmel corn, and a trip to the gym

Today at work I have received from various Santas packages bearing home-made toffee and gingerbread cookies, and have shared in a box of Godiva chocolates (I only had one though!). This weekend, in preparation for my parents arrival, I will be making sugar cookies and carmel corn.

Thank goodness I managed to drag myself out of bed this morning (eventually anyway - cuddling came first) and that we have tennis tomorrow. At the gym, I have grown tired of the elliptical trainer, so I have been forcing myself to run on the treadmill - actually run - some days. If I do the interval workout, where I get to alternate the running with walking, I can go for the full 30 minutes. I am not sure I like running, but it does feel good when I stop, and as I tell Benjamin (who has to be all scientific and wet-blankety and say that is impossible) I can feel the fat just jiggling off my hips! Well, the fat may not actually be jiggling off, but running certainly makes my muscles work differently than the elliptical. Anyway, I might become a runner for reals one of these days. Maybe.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Decorating for Christmas

I haven't put up our tree yet this year, but I did decorate our mantle. As you can see, we have a lovely rustic mantle over our fireplace, perfect for a garland, and possibly stockings. I have had that wreath for 8 or 9 years - Mom sent it to me one year in Austin. It is a little the worse for wear when you get up close to it, but hung with a few shiny balls it looks just right.  My wooden Advent calendar is to the left of the wreath. I had to fill it on my own this year, so it is just Hershey's kisses and Reese's peanut butter bells, but hey, chocolate is chocolate. Mostly I just like opening the little doors and marking the time until Christmas. That is all the decorating I will be doing (unless I get the tree out - but that is an iffy prospect, given Miikka's talent for destruction and Oliver's penchant for eating anything gree, even a fake tree).

The mantle is not the only color for Christmas, however. My two Christmas cacti are blooming right now as well. I think this is the first time I have ever gotten them to rebloom. The trick is to keep them on a natural lighting schedule until the blooms are set. In my case, I left them out on the deck until it started to get too cold. I have wanted to do that in the past, but either it was too cold, or I just forgot or something. My mother has a Christmas cactus (or Easter - some years it blooms then instead) that is probably almost as old as I am, and it blooms every year. Maybe this one will survive that long!

Monday, December 13, 2010

No Snow Here

But wowee - other parts of the country sure have a lot! When cities like Seattle, Austin, and Little Rock get all atwitter about snow and the news stations go into natural disaster mode, I tend to roll my eyes. I feel justified in this, now that I have lived in places without snow and places (well, a place) with lots of snow.  But when Minneapolis has a snow storm that has been dubbed "Snow-My-God," you know there is some serious snow. If you haven't seen it anywhere yet, check out the video of the Metrodome collapsing.

We don't have any snow, but it is certainly cold enough. I don't think it has gotten above freezing today. It is sunny and dry though, so we are all at work. Darn. I would take a day off, even if it meant I had to listen to the panic of news casters.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Casual Friday Outfit

So, this is what I would be wearing at the moment, did I not have to be at work. Alas, both the sweats and the dog are far too disreputable to take to work.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Problem with Reading...

Is that I often have to stop doing it to go on with normal life. Today, for example, I have been stuck near the end of two separate books all day, but I am also stuck at work, so I can't really finish them with the single-minded determination I would if I were home. And one of those two is on my iPod, the battery of which died right after I got to work, so I can't even listen to the book on my way home.  Once I get home, I will have to play with Miikka and make dinner with Benjamin, and do domestic things. I might be able to finish the book before I go to bed, but since I have to get up at 5 tomorrow to go to the gym, I can't stay up too late. Why won't the world just let me read?!

In the meantime, my head is too full of the two books to focus properly. So, sorry if I mess up the answer to your reference question...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Post-Thanksgiving Hike Photo Massacre

This is the only picture that survived my photo accident last weekend. We went to Lake Catherine State Park for our annual post-Thanksgiving hike. The main trail we planned to hike was closed for no apparent reason (at least not apparent to us) but we managed to put together a decent hike from the other two loops.  It had rained all day Thanksgiving, so there was actually a good amount of water in the little creeks and the waterfall. It would probably be a good place to go swimming in the summer.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Outfit Time

It appears that I have turned Friday blog posts into outfit posts, so here is one for this week. This picture is from the beginning of the month, before the crepe myrtle turned red and then lost all its leaves and before the grass turned bland brown.  But I did wear a variation of this on Wednesday, substituting my boots and black leggings for the red shoes and argyle tights. Oh, and my hair is more red now. I like this particular combination better I think, but either way, it is pretty cute.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Just look at the size of those biscuits.

Thankfully, my pictures from Thanksgiving were not among the pictures lost in the, er, accident.  We had a lovely meal - roast chicken with roasted root vegetables, stuffing muffins, Quaker bonnet biscuits (which somehow puffed up to almost life-like proportions), roasted broccoli with walnuts, pumpkin pie, and an apple crostata.  Yum yum.

Crystal was unable to go home for Thanksgiving, but we were very happy to add her to our table (not to mention her pie and broccoli).

It was a lovely evening, the food was splendid, the company delightful, and the weather suitably rainy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Funny Story

Umm, so you know how I said I had pictures but that I had to get them off the camera? Well, about that. I have a new camera, and it turns out that the numbering system repeats itself, and when you try to move pictures from the camera to the computer you have to be careful to not erase things. So yeah, I managed to erase almost all the pictures from our hike, and from last week's neat full moon, and the birds I was using to try out my telephoto lens. Sigh. Part of me wants to blame the technology, but it was all my fault, and it really isn't any different from the time(s) I accidentally exposed the film in my old camera. So I have re-learned a lesson I thought I had learned a long time ago. And you are deprived of all but a few pictures. Sigh again.

Let's Have Recess!

After a long holiday weekend, coming back to work is hard. Getting out of bed at my normal time is hard - it is warm, and cozy, and why in the world do I need to go to work?  Keeping awake after lunch is also hard.  So when I read this article about the benefits of recess for adults at work, I was in hearty agreement. Recess would be a great way to wake back up. I am not talking about a full work-out or anything - I, for one, have already done that (see - working out early in the morning smugness at play here). But a chance to get up, walk about the building or around the block without getting penalized or glared at would be so nice.

We did go hiking on Friday, and I do have pictures...they just aren't off the camera right now. Maybe by tomorrow?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kirby Says Be Thankful

For raisins, boxes to hide in and play in, and sticks to chew on.

We are off for our annual post-Thanksgiving hike. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Little Rock Booze Tour Part Deux

After the great tour at Rock Town Distillery, the six of us headed over to Vino's Brewpub. They make really good pizza and calzones - you can even get an individual slice made to order. They do make their own beer, but I don't think any of us had it; Taine, George and I shared a pitcher of root beer that was their's, I think.

From Vino's, it was on to Diamond Bear Brewing, which is located in downtown Little Rock, only a few blocks from the capitol building (Governor Mike Beebe was feature prominently in a couple of pictures).

They have a little pub set up, and everyone who comes for a tour gets three wooden nickles to exchange for samples of beer. This was a big hit with the group. I don't actually like beer very much, so after a couple of sips of one sample, I gave the rest to Benjamin and switched to root beer. Their root beer is fantastic. They only sell it on-site in growlers or in kegs, which is a pity, because I would totally keep it in the fridge if I could get it in small bottles. As it is, I shall have to get a growler sometime for a root beer float party or something.

The tour guide pointed out that the company tries to be as environmentally friendly as it can, and to that end, many of the kegs and other equipment is recycled from other breweries.  The grain silo in the yard came from an Arkansas farmer who reportedly exchanged it for beer or something.  These kegs and some of the other equipment came from Seattle.

The white tube in the left of the picture is carrying ground up grain or hops from the grinder to the other room, where it is mixed with water and set to turn into beer. (At least, I think that's the story. I know the tube carries grain from the silo into this room then on to the next stage...).  You can see that the tour guide has a glass of beer in hand - he insisted it was bad luck to go on a brewery tour with an empty glass.

The big silver tanks are where the various beer varieties are made. They all have names: Nicole and Paris, Laverne and Shirley, Ginger and Mary Anne, and Bertha. There is a good chance the copper still at the distillery had a name too, but we didn't know to ask, and Phil didn't tell us. Ah well, next time we take the tour.

This bottling machine is from the 1950s, and was quite the contraption. It washed all the bottles, filled them with beer, then capped them. From there, workers take the bottles and put them in six packs and cartons. We didn't actually get to see it in action (I am sure there are health and safety rules against that), but it was fairly impressive anyway.

A glass of porter. Benjamin got to finish this one too.

And there you have it. The booze tour was a great success, and I would recommend both tours and Vino's to anyone who wants something to do on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon (Diamond Bear can also sell beer in six-packs on Sundays - a great rarity in Arkansas).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Little Rock Booze Tour, part 1

On Sunday Benjamin and I, along with Donovan, Angel, Taine and George, went on a booze tour that I arranged as a form of local tourism.  We started at Brandon's Rock Town Distillery, with a tour given by Phil Brandon - the founder and owner himself.  They make vodka, gin, and bourbon right near downtown Little Rock.

Bourbon casks, busy aging.
The tour started in the cask-aging room, where casks of bourbon were resting. Our new friend Phil told us all about what makes bourbon bourbon, and not just another kind of whiskey (it's the percent of corn, the amount of alcohol, and the brand new, charred barrels). All of the ingredients have been grown in Arkansas, and the casks were made by a cooper in Hot Springs.

The bourbon isn't going to be ready until January - so we will have to go back for another tour when it is ready.

Mmm, fermenting corn mash.
From the barrel room we moved into the still room. Before everything goes into the barrels, it goes into the still, but before that, the mash has to ferment.  You may notice that the big tub is uncovered - they don't really worry about contamination because all the impurities will be taken out through the distilling process, and alcohol is self-sterilizing, or something like that. (To get the details correctly, you will have to take the tour yourself).

And here is the still. It is a lovely, steampunky contraption made of copper and pipes and tubes. There was some mash inside, waiting to be strained (I think).  There were a lot of technical details about how gin and vodka are made that I don't want to put down because I will just get them wrong. Go on the tour to find out for yourself.

And then it is on to the bottling room, where the bottles are filled by hand, the labels hand written, the stoppers put on the bottles, and the bottles packed into boxes.  After the tour, Phil gave us all tastes of the vodka and gin, but because of the strange laws in Arkansas, he couldn't actually sell any bottles to us. I don't know much about either vodka or gin, but they both had really good flavors, We will be making a trip to the liquor store soon.  It was a great tour, and I would highly recommend it as a destination when you have family or friends to entertain.  The factory is close to the Heifer International building and the Clinton Presidential Center, so you could combine a couple of activities in one afternoon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I got something!

I have actual content for this week, I promise, but first, since this blog is titled "An Archivist's Miscellania," I had to share this hilarious and oh-so-true little video with you. Without further ado: Why you shouldn't become an archivist.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I got nothing

Last weekend we were so busy I didn't have time to write. This weekend, I was so not busy that I don't have anything to write about. Our tennis lesson got postponed due to weather and a state tournament. We didn't have any parties or plays or other activities to go to. We took Miikka for some walks, I got groceries and baked cookies.

This week is only two days old, and I am ready for it to be over. I know the calendar says today is Tuesday, but the traffic said Monday, the patrons say Monday (well, not literally, but the way they are acting feels like a Monday), and the weather is cold and rainy, which might as well say Monday. Bah. Too bad I can't go home right this moment and snuggle up on the couch with Miikka and a good book...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Summer will never be the same again

Yesterday, Dave Niehaus passed away. He was the announcer for the Seattle Mariners for 34 years, and the voice of summer. I have been listening to him since childhood, through the bad years and the really bad years, and the good years, and the great years and back to the bad years. Right now, it feels like a favorite uncle has died, and I can't imagine what baseball will be like without Dave. I am not particularly a baseball fan, but I am a Mariners fan, and that is in large part due to Dave.

My dad and I would go to games in the Kingdome, each with our own headset and radio, so we could hear Dave's descriptions of the games. In 1994, when the season was shortened by a player's strike, Dave put together and broadcast an imaginary World Series game between Seattle and Atlanta. Even though I knew Seattle had to win, since it was our announcer doing it for us, I listened to that game as intently as if it was real.  I remember the first time I ever heard his grand slam call - "Get out the rye bread and the mustard Grandma, it's Grand Salami Time!" and how fans started lowering salami to the press box.

I'll miss you Dave. We all will. Thanks for all the memories.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Here, thanks to the Cooking Light website, is the recipe for the pumpkin ice cream I made over the weekend. Note that it does require 8 hours of cooling time in the fridge before you can actually make the ice cream in your machine.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)


  • 1 1/2  cups  1% low-fat milk, divided
  • 2  tablespoons  dark brown sugar
  • 2  large egg yolks
  • 1  (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 1  cup  canned pumpkin (I used pureed pumpkin from an actual pumpkin)
  • 1  (8-ounce) carton reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2  commercial biscotti, crumbled (about 3/4 cup) (I used ginger cookies instead)


Combine 1 cup 1% milk and brown sugar in a medium, heavy saucepan, and heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat.
Place egg yolks in a bowl. Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg yolks, stirring constantly with a whisk. Place mixture in pan. Cook over medium heat until mixture coats a metal spoon (about 4 minutes), stirring constantly. Drain custard through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
Combine 1/2 cup 1% milk, sweetened condensed milk, and next 5 ingredients (sweetened condensed milk through salt) in a medium bowl. Stir in pumpkin. Gradually add custard, stirring with a whisk. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.
Combine 1/2 cup pumpkin mixture and sour cream, stirring well with a whisk. Add sour cream mixture to chilled pumpkin mixture, and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture into freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container; fold in crumbled biscotti. Cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm.

Taken from Kathryn Conrad, Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2002 (Have I really been holding on to this recipe for that long, never to have tried it before?! What was I thinking?!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sometimes, quitting is the right thing to do

Last night, I quit Miikka's obedience class. We are half-way through the 8-week course, and I had just had enough.  What I wanted - more practice on self-control for Miikka, more practice on stay and down, and general better home behavior - was not what was on offer in the class we were in. Instead, it was focused on show ring obedience - staying for an infinitely long time with squeaky toys and treats being offered as distractions, heeling perfectly and sitting precisely parallel to my feet - none of which Miikka did well at, nor did I. To be fair, the class was what it claimed to be; however, the description on the website did not make clear just how much emphasis would be placed on show behavior.

So I quit. I have no intention of ever trying to show Miikka in obedience. If I even want to compete in anything ever, it would be in agility, and though we need certain obedience commands there, I don't have to worry quite so much about the eternal stay or the perfect parallel sit. After class, while explaining myself (without mentioning my objections to the assistant teacher - she was totally condescending and didn't even give me a chance to show what Miikka could do before she tried to "make" him do things, not a good idea with him - and the physical correctives applied to the dogs, and the pinch collar incident) the teacher suggested that I might want to try the Canine Good Citizen class instead. And indeed I might, and I might have signed up for it instead, if it was even mentioned on the website anywhere. I just checked, and it isn't mentioned anywhere except on the class application. Sigh. Anyway, the class coordinator suggested I audit a class in a week or so, and if I want to take that class next session, I could do it for free, as a make-up or retake.

I hate quitting anything. It isn't in my nature to give up on something, even when it would be better for me to do so. Taking that step last night was hard, but I know it is the right choice for both Miikka and me. I want my training time with Miikka to be fun and enjoyable, not flusterating (as one of the teachers put it last night). I also know that not every training session will be pleasant, but I am going to do the best I can.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekend recap

Whew! That was a busy weekend. Normally, for us, a weekend with one planned activity is a lot; this weekend, we had somewhere to be three nights in a row, and our first tennis lesson on Saturday morning.

Friday night we went to see The Bacchae put on by the UCA theater department. It was interesting - we decided that they were trying to do a lot of different things, including adding some modern dance moves, projection screens, bilingual actresses, and that not all of them worked.  But it was fun to see, since Benjamin and I had both read the play in college.

Saturday morning was our first tennis lesson of 5.  A few weeks ago, there was a Groupon for $15 tennis lessons at a local tennis club, and since we have begun to play more tennis than racquetball, and since we have never had lessons, it seemed like a no-brainer. The class was 7 people, all of us coming because of the Groupon, and the coach was experience and personable.  I am looking forward to future classes - my swing is a mess, and my overhand serve is non-existent, so hopefully I will improve rapidly with some coaching.

Saturday evening was the cocktail party fundraiser for the Conway Shakespeare Theatre.  I did indeed wear the red shoes, which may have been a mistake, since I had to stand the entire evening. Ouch. Anyway, there were delicious desserts provided by local companies, and we got to see some friends and have a good time. Yay for Shakespeare! Oh yes, we also paid for our membership and got new t-shirts.

Sunday was mostly stay at home, but we did have dinner at a friend's house, pasta with homemade mushroom "meatballs" that were splendid, and homemade pumpkin ice cream.  I have had the recipe sitting in my recipes-to-try file for years, and finally decided the time had come. It was delicious. Try it for yourself. I dare you to just eat one small serving.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday favorites

For Friday this week, here are a few of my favorite things.
Swallow Spin skirt
  • Mnemosyne Designs shop on Etsy. They make beautiful, comfortable clothes. I have one of their skirts, and two of their blouses. If I had the means, I would have them make me an entire wardrobe.
  • Questionable Content: One of my favorite web comics.  The artist, Jeph Jacques, just published the first volume of collected comics, and I love reading.  Benjamin has decided that I am Faye, just without the tragic past and heavy drinking.
  • Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre: We have been to see every play they put on for the last two summer seasons.  Tomorrow night we will be attending their fall fund raising party.  A chance to dress up (probably with the red shoes), see some friends, and have a good time.
The common thread among all of these is that they are small business/local. Technically, Mnemosyne and QC aren't local to me, but they are handmade, and made in the USA, and I love supporting small businesses. Dealing with real people is so much better than trying to deal with a corporation or chain store.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    A Pox on Both Their Houses

    Miikka says "Enough with all the politics. It is time to get me some cookies." I agree. Cookies = yes. Politics = no more! Almost none of the candidates or issues went the way I voted. At least we kept our Democrat governor.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Mr. Meowster

    Meowster in full voice.
     One of Oliver's nicknames is Mr. Meowster. He likes the sound of his own voice, and he uses his voice a lot. He just starts, for no apparent reason, and continues until he goes back to his cat napping. Sometimes it is to let us know that the food bowl is empty, but mostly, it is just to let us know he is there, at least as far as we can tell.

    Mr. Meowster does not approve of paparazzi.
    He really wants to be with us in the evenings, when we are in the living room, and he really wants to go out on the deck and into the yard to eat grass. Miikka likes to chase Oliver, when he notices that Oliver is in the room. Too often, Meowster sabotages himself through his incessant meowing. If he would just stay quiet, Miikka would ignore him - I know this because on the rare occasions Oliver refrains, he is left unmolested. But Oliver is our kitty of very little brain, so he never quite makes the connection. Sigh.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Remind me why we didn't buy a townhouse

    Between the two of us, Benjamin and I spent about 10 hours in the yard this weekend. Most of that time was spent raking and bagging oak leaves. The bagging is the worst part, because the black plastic bags don't stand up on their own, and it is hard to shovel leaves into them without a second pair of hands. For some reason, the home improvement stores around here only carry the paper bags in the spring, and if you go asking for them in the fall, the staff look at you like you have four arms (which you need for the plastic bags). You may remember that last year I bought a leaf blower/sucker that was supposed to speed up the process and reduce the number of bags we needed. It is a great blower. But it really sucks as a sucker. It clogs. It is slow. The bag release gets gummed up by ground up leaves, requiring two people to pull the darn thing apart. I eventually gave up and went with Benjamin's baleen whale approach to scooping up leaves. And of course, we will have to do this all over again at least one more time before all the trees are bare.

    At least the weather was nice.  The sun was out, and it got warm, but not too hot.  Miikka had fun helping on Saturday - biting the rake, running through leaf piles, escaping from the back yard when the gate was opened. But he also got to do some leisurely sun bathing.

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Crazy Cat Lady

    Complete with crazy look in the eyes.
    For Halloween this year, I was a crazy cat lady. It really isn't much of a stretch, and I didn't have to look very hard for the outfit, which came with authentic cat hair. That dress has been lying in my closet, where the cats have been using it as a bed all summer - I actually had to run it through the dryer for a while to get hair off so that I wouldn't trigger allergies throughout our building.

     Do you like my bag of cats too?  Wendy made a great gypsy - it is even better when you know that she is wearing a wig and actually has rather red hair.

    Like the cat on my shoulder?
    Donovan made a frighteningly good agent of Satan (but his duties are mostly ceremonial - it's on his button). As fun as it was to wear slippers to work this Friday, I look forward to wearing my red shoes again next week.

    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    Saturday place holder

    Well, I have been too busy working in the yard today to get pictures off the camera, so you will have to wait one more day for pictures of my crazy cat lady.

    I spent 2 hours before lunch out in the yard - pulling out the tomatoes and other plants in the garden and cleaning leaves off the deck.  After lunch Benjamin and I spent another 2 hours raking and sucking and grinding leaves. I lost track of the number of bags. It was a lot. Miikka "helped" by attacking the rake and jumping in the piles. He only escaped the yard once when the gate was open.

    We are going to see Hamlet tonight - a good ghosty sort of play for Halloween, don't you think.

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    Halloween costumes

    Here are a couple of my childhood Halloween costumes. My mom made these Little House on the Prairie dresses for my neighbor friend Joy and I. I loved, loved, loved that dress. The next year, she made us pilgrim dresses. 

     This was my grandmother's Campfire outfit, with beaded necklaces that she made for projects. I was really cute with bangs and braids.

    Tomorrow I will have pictures of this year's costume that I am wearing to work today: Crazy Cat Lady. Funny how easy it was...

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Unhappy Jack-o-Lantern

    photo by Michael Donovan
    This jack-o-lantern must have been listening to too many political ads. I know they make me feel this way. I can ignore them now though, because I voted on Tuesday during early voting.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Tea and Sympathy

    I'm home sick today - nothing serious, just the nagging cold that won't go away. I went to the doctor yesterday and he gave me some drugs that should help. But I haven't slept well for over a week, and I'm coughing, so I decided that a day of resting at home was in order. The sun is out, there is a cool fall feeling in the air, and I have plenty of tea to drink. Miikka is certainly happy I am home - when I sit on the couch to read or nap, he sprawls on my lap with his bone. Better company than the cats!

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Seven Hollows Flora and Fauna

    The fall color wasn't the only natural reason to enjoy a hike at Seven Hollows.  The fall berries and flowers were out too. The purple beautyberries really lived up to their name. Such lovely clusters of bright purple berries.

    The sumac is another striking plant to see as you walk along - furry, rusty red. I imagine the birds and other little critters enjoy it throughout the winter too.

    In among the hollows are rock overhangs with damp places that shelter ferns and moss. There probably would have been even more ferns, but this year has been so dry that all the little creeks and drips and seeps had dried up.

    If you are lucky while hiking, you may see a feral poodle.  And you thought poodles were only those pampered, primped frou-frou dogs from dog shows! No siree - they like to get down and dirty in the mud and leaves like any dog. Doesn't she look happy?

    And there are rocks, lots of 'em - little ones and big ones.  If you look closely, you can see Vincent's head in the left bottom corner. He is over 6'5", so you know that is one big rock

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Seven Hollows hike, part 1

    On Sunday we went hiking at Petit Jean State Park with Amber, Vincent, Collette and Brook.  This was the first trail we hiked after we moved to Arkansas, back in August 2008. I didn't post many pictures that time, so I am going to make up for it with at least two days worth this time.The four of us have been wanting to go hiking together for a while, but since we all have busy schedules, it has taken us a while to get to it. I'd say it was worth the wait - it was humid, very humid, but not too hot, and the threatened rain held off for us.

    Collette and Brook, charging down the trail.
    The dogs all had a great time. Miikka was more focused on hiking than on the girls, and actually kept up a better pace at the end (of course, the girls got to go off-leash and started out the hike running ahead, then back to us, then ahead again, so they probably did double the distance). It had rained overnight, so there were many, many good smells.

    The mighty hiker is ready to go.
    Although the color this year is not as brilliant as it can be, autumn was in full force. There were yellow, red, brown and orange leaves all in view.

    Blazing yellow.

    In the hollows.

    Rain clouds in the distance. But not on us.

    The neat thing about the Seven Hollows trail is that it takes you down into the hollows, then leads you up to the tops of the bluffs, so you can look up at fascinating rock formations, then down into the hollows and over the tree tops.

    Taking a quick break.
    Tomorrow, more dogs, more flora.