Thursday, July 31, 2008

in which my side hurts from laughing

Cats on treadmill
(link to YouTube video)
One cat just can't quite get the hang of it, and the other keeps up but uses only his front feet. 

Hysterically funny...and not in a cruel way.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

in which new cat is adorable

Taken without flash so as not to wake him up

Kate's keeping a watchful eye on the new houseguest


Remember the sweater I made and how it stretched out after washing?

Well, here you go: 

(EDIT--picture deleted because some jerk decided to post it on a fetish site without my permission)

I can fix the sleeves but I'm not sure what to do about the neckline, which should probably be renamed the buxom line in my case. I have a tank top I can wear under the sweater (the limits of the tank top are visible as the tan line on my otherwise creamy skin. That makes it a bit more modest but still not quite suitable for cold-weather wear, which since it is a wool sweater would be its most likely time to be worn. Maybe it's time to knit a wrap.

In other photographic news, here are some pictures of new stray cat, still unnamed. The vet gave him a tentative name of "Spade" since he has a marking on his back that looks like that card suite. He's actually rather hard to photograph without a telephoto lens because if you are near, he'll come right up, but he's a bit squirmy when he's held. 
He doesn't normally look pissed off but I was holding up his chin to get a picture of his soul patch.

Suggestions for a name?
We've come up with Charlie, Chaplin, Elvis, Elwood or Jake (blues brothers, you know, 'cuz of the soul patch). I like Charlie, but I'm not sure I want another animal name ending in "-ie". But I like the two syllable names; they seem to roll off the tongue well. 

Monday, July 28, 2008

in which the humans are way outnumbered

Household population

Canines: two
Felines: four
Humans: two

Do you remember the black and white cat that has showed up a few times? We've seen him around but never able to get near him. However, this morning, Oscar found him under a car, mewling loudly. He was had been injured and had a terrible gash at the base of his tail, so Oscar took him to the vet. We don't know if he's a stray but he's skinny and kind of scraggly so even if he has a "home", he is probably outdoors only because he certainly has the look of a street cat. But he is super sweet. The vet had a hard time hearing his heartbeat because he was purring so loudly. 

So now he's here, recuperating (and pissing Sasha off with his mere presence). He doesn't like to be held but he loves to sit on laps and be petted. And he loves to be around people. He gets lonely and starts complaining when he is left alone. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

in which I share a musical tidbit

After reading through some of my older posts, I came to the shocking realization that I never told anyone about my current musical fascination with Rockabye Baby. 

What is Rockabye Baby? Quite simply, perfect music for us Gen Xers who are starting to have kids while maintaining a healthy quota of self-referential irony. (and pretty darn perfect for those of us without kids as well.) 

More accurately, Rockabye Baby titles are lullaby versions of rock/punk songs from the 70s to the present. Each album centers on a specific band, and about 12 songs are rearranged lullaby fashion (no vocals). 

I came across them while searching the library site for Green Day and saw one of the titles was "Lullaby Green Day". After an initial "what the hell is that" reaction, my interest was piqued and I checked it out. 

And lo, it was good. 

So good, in fact, that I searched the library for other titles. Here is a sample of bands who have allowed BabyRock Records to create lullaby versions of their songs:
AC/DC, Bjork, Coldplay, Black Sabbath, Bob Marley, Coldplay, Led Zepplin, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, No Doubt, Pink FLoyd, Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, Beach Boys, Beatles, the Cure, Eagles, Pixies, Ramones, Rolling Stones, Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, and U2. And these are just the ones that are available through the Seattle Public Library.

I played a sample of some of these CDs to a colleague of mine who has very young children and he was really interested. "This is a hell of lot more interesting than the crap I normally have to listen to with my kids!"  

Of all the songs/bands I've heard, most work quite well. In the Luneray School of Musical Criticism, that means that the lullaby version is interesting and enjoyable on its own, yet still retains the essential core of the original song. Recognizable, but different. In my humble opinion, of the ones I've heard, the best ones were AC/DC, Green Day, Led Zepplin, and Radiohead. In fact, the Radiohead versions are very good and I think that album stands on its own merits and doesn't need any ironic indulgence. The Nine Inch Nails didn't quite work because Trent Reznor's songs apparently really resist breakdown into tri-instrumental arrangements with a strong melody. 

And speaking of irony, it's hard to not enjoy a lullaby version of Metallica's "Enter Sandman"--a song about a child's nightmares. Rockabye Baby indeed. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

the mouse that whimpered

Many thanks to Katze who suggested I come out to Pittsburgh where she could teach me how to develop a spine. 

I think that's a good idea, becoming a bit more assertive. 

Y'all okay with that?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

movies, movies, movies!

Kind of weird that I do these movie memes since I don't watch all that many films...


Movie Meme
1. One movie that made you laugh: A Fish Called Wanda
2. One movie that made you cry: Finding Neverland (I almost never cry at movies so I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that this movie made me cry)
3. One movie that you loved as a child:  Raiders of the Lost Ark
4. One movie you've seen more than once:  Harold and Maude
5. One movie you loved, but were embarrassed to admit it:  can't think of one
6. One movie you hated: Sleepless in Seattle
7. One movie that scared you: Silence of The Lambs 
8. One movie that bored you: Pet Cemetery 
9. One movie that made you happy: Wall-E 
10. One movie that made you miserable: No Country For Old Men 
11. One movie that you weren't brave enough to see: Tetsuo, The Iron Man (I gave up after the first five minutes)
12. One movie character you've fallen in love with: Clay from Gods And Monsters. Also, Tyler Durden from Fight Club
13. The last movie you saw: Wall-E 
14. The next movie you hope to see: Hell Boy 2

100 hundred pushups-redux

I've restarted using a different pushup style, because apparently my fat lady, big busted weak upper strength self can't even handle the girly style. (Seriously, I want guys to strap on about 7 extra lbs on their upper chest and see how it affects their pushups!)

I hope you can sense the sarcasm in that previous statement. However, I'm not being self-defeatist. One of the things I like about the challenge is that it's very flexible with the style. While I knew intellectually that with practice, the girly style would become easier, mentally only being barely able to do two while having 100 as a goal was just too, well, hard. So I switched to the wall-style, which are easier but still challenging, but because I can actually do more initially, I feel like I can actually accomplish 100. And then I'll try the girly style. 

However, I didn't do the initial test (in which you to do as many as you can to find out which column you should follow). I did column two (which assumes you can do between 6-10), but the last rep has you do as many as you can and I did 15, so I think I should have done column 3 (which assumes you could do at least 10 initially). 

Anyway, I did my reps; I feel a sense of accomplishment and just a bit of muscle burn. Yay me!

So, 100 pushups. check it out. 

Quote of the day

for all the knitters out there:

"This one has suffered more frogging than a large nature pond in the tadpole season."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

how does Paypal work?


I admit that I like using Paypal if I have to make an online transaction. I thought the business model worked by drawing money from my account immediately and then holding it for a few days before releasing it to the recipient (Paypal holds the money for a few days to earn interest on it). But on the last three paypal transactions I've done, the money has been released to the payee immediately but not withdrawn from my account until several days later. This seems totally backwards, as well as confusing for me. I don't like having to check my bank account transactions to see if those payments had gone through yet. 

Ah well. I guess I have to think of Paypal as if the transactions were actual paper checks. Annoying. 

in which I have modest gardening success

My first ever carrot! I planted a carrot seed mixture called "Rainbow" that had three colors of carrots--orange, yellow, and red. I'm not sure this is completely "ripe" because it's six inches long but I wanted to harvest it anyway. I had a great idea of interspersing radish and carrot seeds in a checkerboard manner, with seeds planted 1" apart. Since carrots germinate so slowly, I figured that the carrots would have sprouted by the time the radishes were ready for harvesting. In theory, it would have worked really well except that the cats went crazy there, and so I lost a lot of seeds. 

Keeping cats out of the raised bed has been the biggest problem. Short of building a fence around the garden bed, I'm not sure what I can do. Any ideas?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

in which I wonder about internet searches

You know, I thought internet searches worked by using keywords/tags/labels but reviewing Sitemeter data listing various visitors who stumble upon this blog from searches, it's really apparent that it's my blog titles that are coming up in search results, not any of the labels. 

For example, one visitor was looking for "funny picture of radish", and the result was not the actual post of my uber-manly root vegetable, but this one in which I reference the radish in the title.  

(I've also noticed that all the searches leading here were done on Google. Blogger is owned by Google. Coincidence? Or perhaps no one really is actually using any other search engine?)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

in which the joke is on me

Note: I normally shy away from discussing politics of any sort at any time, but I have decided to share the following anecdote because it highlights my particular brand of spinelessness and is not a dig at anyone else's voting preferences. It's a free country, and I am happy that people can actually vote. 

During lunch, I usually walk to the library and to get there, I pass through a very lovely plaza next to the downtown bus tunnel entrance. On a beautiful day like today, the plaza is packed with people from the local businesses enjoying their lunch in the fresh air. Because it's so well populated and strategically located, the plaza is also a hotspot for any sort of person whose job it is to engage random passersby to sign petitions, donate money to a charity or some other organization, what have you.

The scene: one plump transportation engineer, walking briskly through the plaza carrying a bag full of books. She must walk quickly because she only gets 30 minutes for lunch and it's almost a mile to the library. She notices a well-groomed young man, wearing a DNC T-shirt and carrying a large signature board which looks an awful lot like a petition. He is right in her way, and there is no way to avoid him unless someone else walks in front of her, but a quick glance around confirms that all the other people in her immediate vicinity are sitting down in various locales eating their lunches. Selfish bastards.

Because our protagonist has lived in the Pacific Northwest for her entire adult life, she has adopted the particular local custom known variously as "extreme politeness" or "passive-aggressiveness". Refusing something flat out is just not polite, and our protagonist just doesn't have the time to go through the elaborate ritual of mournful, faux sincerity. ("Oh, I'm sorry but I'm just not interested" with a sad expression on your face which conveys that you are just as sad not to be interested in whatever the other person is so clearly interested in as you are to actually refuse.) 

So our protagonist mentally rehearses her arsenal of stock excuses so that the proper one would be at hand. She approaches. Well groomed young man in DNC shirt makes eye contact. Smiles.

DNC guy: "Excuse me. Are you interested in supporting Barack Obama?"

None of her oft-used excuses will quite fit this situation.
"I'm not a registered voter." Lie.
"I'm not actually a citizen." Lie.
"I've already signed that petition." Usually a lie, but sometimes true.

Keep in mind that our protagonist has always voted Democratic and will be voting for Barack Obama in the upcoming presidential election, and has given money to the DNC on more than one occasion. 

So what popped out of our spineless protagonist's mouth instead of just saying "not interested" or "don't bother me" or even "can't talk because I'm in a hurry"?

"I vote Republican."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

in which I admit that yes, I will drink that

Smoothie made with Spirulina protein powder

Is there anything more appetizing than drinking a liquid that's the same color as bread mold? 


in which I Get Stuff Done and eat well

It was a busy weekend chez Luneray. Granted, this isn't saying too much given that my usual weekend routine is hanging around the house, either reading a book or working on some fibery project. But this time, I actually got stuff done on my to-do list--very soon after these items were actually put on my to-do list. This, my internet friends, is a great victory for me, because I have grand ideas and am a compulsive list maker, but unless I can get around to it right away, things sit and sit and sit, and eventually just become part of the scenery. (However, the leaky shower faucet that I kept meaning to get around to fixing actually seems to have stopped leaking. I don't understand this, and I do hope that it doesn't mean that the leak has just moved inside the wall but in my naivetee/wishful thinking/sheer laziness, I will assume the best.)

1. I acted the responsible car owner and got the oil changed and taillight fixed. I've known for a long time that one taillight was burned out but I kept forgetting about it. 

2. A colleague gave me a large quantity of her older clothes and I took all the ones that I didn't want to the Goodwill while the car was being worked on. (The two businesses are located right next to each other. I'd call this an effective use of time management, thank you very much.) We also scored a large Rubbermaid storage bin WITH A LID and a brand new Weber grill. (While in the shop, I was also approached by a guy who tried to sell me some watches and a bunch of ladies underwear. Even he admitted that the underwear thing was a bit creepy.)

3. Oscar and I went to the Farmer's Market in the Proctor neighborhood (one of Tacoma's nicer areas). The market is small but it is a real farmer's market. No boutique-y jewelry or clothes, etc. There are a few plant nurseries, some food vendors (I wish I'd known beforehand that there would be a vendor selling Hungarian cuisine, but we ate before we went there. Bummer. Hungarian cuisine is Yum.) We got some fruits and veggies--peaches and cherries, chioggia beets, green beans, and some weird-looking curly garlic shoots type things*. But no berries because the they were all sold out before we got there. Good for the vendor. Bummer for us. We also got some fresh chevre and oysters. It was a lot of work to shuck the oysters, but Oscar did it all. I didn't even want to be in the same room as him while he was shucking them because Oscar is easily distracted and my mind was filled with horrible thoughts that knife slipping as his attention wavered because I'd distracted him. But the oysters were all shucked without any visits to the emergency room, and Oscar broiled them with a topping that he just made up, consisting of those weird-looking curly garlic shoot things sauteed in butter and mixed with a bit of parmesan cheese and panko. Oh.My.God.Were.These.Good.

(Note: if Oscar ever, EVER offers to make you something to eat, say yes. He is a fabulous cook and even stuff he just "throws together" is always really good.)

4. I finally got my spinning wheel assembled. I expected it to take about an hour but it took most of the afternoon. I assembled it outside and when I started, I was in the shade but after awhile the shade moved on and I think it took so long because my brain started to fry. But it's all put together now, I think correctly, and tonight I will practice a bit. I wonder if I can card all that freshly washed fleece in one week?

5. Planted some new items in the garden: a passionflower to grow around the front fence and some Thai basil and garlic chives for the kitchen garden. I need to get the winter crops started now, but I didn't get around to preparing that bed.  

Oscar was again very hopeful when he bought all those heirloom tomatoes, but given that it's the middle of July and not a single tomato has set a single fruit, I don't think it's going to be a good year for tomatoes around here. It always a gamble, even for the varieties developed for this region. But odds aren't good for that Brandywine, with its 100 days needed for long as it doesn't rain until October...

*EDIT--I've since found out that the weird looking curly garlic shoot type things are garlic scapes, the stem from hardneck garlic. The ones we got were much curlier than the ones in the picture I linked to. Oh, and Oscar did slice himself while shucking the last oyster this evening. He cut his wrist and the base of his palm but thankfully, the cut is shallow and doesn't need stitches. 

Two happy dogs

Kate showing off her big smile.

Seamus, always a happy boy. 

Monday, July 14, 2008

in which I am humbly reminded that every journey begins with a single step

100 pushups.

Week 1, day 1, and (ahem) column 1. 


And not without extended rest periods. (You are supposed to rest at least 60 seconds between sets. Between sets 3&4 and 4&5, I had to rest 120. Yes, I used a timer.)

And I really need to vacuum the carpet too.  And kick the animals out next time. It's hard enough for me to do even a single girly pushup without my cat deciding he wants to hang out right under my chest.  

Saturday, July 12, 2008

in which I become a buffet

I am a tasty dish indeed. Warm, succulent, sweet and salty.

Just ask any of the two million or so mosquitos who feasted on my lifeblood this evening.

I can imagine a dining review in the Mosquito Blog. "Four stars for fat chick in S. End Tacoma. She doesn't smoke and she drinks lots of water, so her skin is soft and her blood pleasingly textured. Most importantly, she is so engrossed in reading/knitting/gardening/yelling at the dogs to shut up that she won't even notice you!"

Anyway, dabbing the bites with rubbing alcohol helps alleviate the itch as well as anything else I've tried. It's certainly cheaper than calamine lotion and it doesn't turn your skin pink!

Friday, July 04, 2008

in which the animals are freaking out

July 4th is not a happy day for the animals chez Luneray. Although fireworks are banned within the city limits, many people are ignoring it and it does sound like I imagine a battle zone would sound like (because happily, I've never been in a battle zone). 

Kate is seriously freaked. She is curled up under my desk, as close to my body as she can possibly be without actually melding with my legs. Seamus seems to be doing all right, and the cats are hiding somewhere. Kate will be ok; she is calmer now than she was. I was in the kitchen doing dishes and I kept tripping over her. Now that I am sitting, I'm sending the message that I'm calm, everything's all right, and she is not shaking anymore. 

Best firework stand name? "Ill Eagle Fireworks" on the Puyallup Reservation by the Emerald Queen Casino. I admire a good pun.

by popular request

Here's a picture that Oscar took of the new cat that recently showed up

in which I am almost done washing fleece

The final bit of fleece is being washed right now. I have a great deal more respect for my foremothers who had to wash fleece without the benefit of running water in their houses. Ok, washing fleece isn't nearly as labor intensive as washing clothes by hand, but it still takes an awful lot of time. 

I changed my procedure slightly based on something else I've read. This time, I let the fleece presoak in a tub of room temperature water for an hour before actually starting to wash it. This gets off a great deal of dirt (but probably very little lanolin). The first batch of fleece that I presoaked seems to be much cleaner than the first batches I washed, but it also may be because I used a different cleanser. The first few batches were washed with "wool washes", stuff sold to wash wool. These are expensive. But then I read that you can use almost any sort of cleanser... including dish detergent and shampoo. (Clothes detergent was discouraged though, because of all the added brighteners, etc.) So for the second batch, I'm using Suave Shampoo at $1.99 a bottle (vs. Kookaburra wool wash at $10 a bottle.) 

It'll be several hours before this last bit of fleece is cleaned but I will be very glad once it's all done!

Now to finish staining my spinning wheel so that I can assemble the darn thing.  

Thursday, July 03, 2008

in which I wonder who the first person on the block will want one of these

The Grass Scanner

Measures how green your grass really is, and will settle once and for all whether it really is greener on the other side. 

in which I am sucked into the latest internet craze

Well, one of them anyway.

Hell yes, I'm doing them "girly-style".

After having to wrestle with Seamus at the vet, I think I need all the upper body strength I can get. 

What happened? Well, he got really anxious and started to jump up on me. Please remember that he was there to get his nails trimmed. Within a single minute, my arms were covered in scratches (one was bloody) and he left deep scratches along the vet's erstwhile pristine, beautiful green wall. Everyone thought it would be a good idea to sedate him, so I helped the vet tech lead Seamus into a kennel and she gave him a shot (no problem). 

After a while, the vet came into the exam room and said that the sedative was having an unusual effect on Seamus and instead of calming down, he was trying to dig his way out of the kennel. They took Eddie to the back, and brought Seamus into the exam room, where he kept pacing back and forth. Eventually, the sedative started to take effect because the vet noticed that his eyes looked a bit glazed and we were able to get his nails trimmed. Me to put the muzzle on him, the vet tech to physically lie down on him and hold his front legs, I held the back legs, and the vet clipped his nails. 

I highly recommend Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital if you are looking for a good vet in Tacoma.  It's a good place, even if Seamus doesn't agree.

in which I need your good wishes

In less than 30 minutes, I'm off to take 3/5 of our animal family to the vet. Eddie, formally stray cat, needs a checkup and all his shots. In exactly four minutes (I have the timer on), I will commence the search for said cat so that I can crate him. 

Also, Kate and Seamus are getting their nails trimmed. Last time we tried to trim Kate's nails, we ended up having to take her to the canine emergency room because we screwed up. Also, last time I took Seamus in for his nail trim, it took two techs, one receptionist and me to hold him. They gave me some sedatives for the next time...which I can not find anywhere in the house. So Seamus is going in sans sedative. 

This should be interesting.

P.S. A new stray cat has been hanging out in our yard. He's black and white, very friendly, and has the same weird kinked tail that Eddie has. Is there some sort of cat messaging service that is advertising our house as a good place for felines?