Monday, July 23, 2007

Well, This Sucks.

Work blocked this site. Dammit. So, it's the library for me until I actually get around to purchasing my own computer... and a couch must come first. *sigh*

It took me 40 minutes to log in this morning because, according to the IT brain trust I talked to, my company's policy on where your email files live is in direct conflict with Microsoft and how they say to do it. So, nothing works. She told me the only way to "fix" it was to keep restarting the computer until it gave up and let me into my folders.

Then this afternoon, I lost everything - twice - 'cause the network decided to spontaneously reboot.

But, they have all sorts of time to be blocking possible non-work sites. Bastards. I've GOT to get outta here. Only 7 more months!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Well, Duh and Porkchops!

I've been organizing. Left, right, center, drawers, boxes, cupboards - nothing is safe. My super-duper-could-eat-your-arm shredder has munched its way through years of hoarded paper. Yeah - the truth comes out. I have this much to organize because I'm nuts. I have bags of papers that I need to shred, because I'm paranoid about throwing anything with my name, address or any personal information whatsoever into the trash. At my last job, I would occasionally bring in one of these bags and feed it to the industrial shredders that we had living here and there around the office.

At any rate, one side benefit to all of this sorting and stacking is that all of my bills were in one place and easy to find. The other day, I sat down and wrote out the checks and got everything ready to mail. (I do pay things online, but I'm old school. I prefer sending checks.) Then I put stamps on them and whisked them off to the post box, all proud of myself 'cause everything was going out early.

And then two days later, they all came back with a stamp about needing more postage. WTF?? I *just* bought a whole flippin' roll of stamps. Turns out (well, duh!) that time's going faster than I thought, and I'm completely out of the loop. 'Just bought them' is actually more like five months ago, and it turns out that the price of postage went up again. *sigh* So, I bought a bunch of two cent stamps and tried again. (Hmm. Whatever happened to the cent symbol? You know, that little 'c' with the line through it? Well. Anyway.) So maybe I need to rethink the whole old-school sending checks thing. I must ponder. (Anyone else have Two Nu stuck in their head? Ponderous, man, ponderous.)

Since I'm sure my continued whining about the creepy-crawlies in my house has perked up appetites across the land, I thought I'd share the recipe for the really tasty pork chops I fixed on Sunday.

Somewhere, my mom has something very similar written down, and I thought I did too, but then I couldn't find it and they weren't home to ask so I just did what I could remember. It turned out quite tasty. (FYI - ~ means an approximation, since I didn't measure anything.)

1/2 med onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
~ 1/4 - 1/2 stick of butter (or use less and add a bit of olive oil - I couldn't reach my olive oil and the step stool was upstairs)
4 thin boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat (you can use thick - it just takes longer)
~ 1/4 cup flour
~ 2 teaspoons parmessian cheese (Yup, the pulverized s'getti cheese in a can.)
~ 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
~ 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
~ 4 cups of water
1 chicken buillion cube
1 beef buillion cube (I couldn't remember which one to use so I split the difference.)
~ 2 tablespoons flour
~ 1/2 cup water

Trim and rinse the pork chops. In a sealable bag, combine flour, cheese, onion powder, garlic powder and shake well to mix.

Add butter, onion and garlic to a med/large skillet over medium heat. While it cooks, shake excess water from pork chops and drop them, one at a time, into bag with flour mixture. Shake to coat. Remove chops from bag and shake off excess coating.

Before onions are completely cooked, push them to the side of the skillet and place chops in skillet, making sure each is flat in pan. (The timing is a bit delicate here - if you wait for the onions to cook, they burn while the chops brown.) Brown chops on each side, flipping once.

While chops are browning, drop bullion cubes in water and microwave for 3 or 4 minutes. Once chops are browned, pour water into skillet. Be careful! The first water to hit the pan is going to evaporate into HOT steam. Cover skillet. Let it come to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. (Watch it more carefully than I did or you too will spend some quality time cleaning the stove.)

Let it simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or so - if you lose track of time replanting something, it's no big deal. Check to make sure chops are completely cooked (after an hour, if they're thin, they will be.) Remove chops to serving dish. Mix flour and water together (I use a small plastic milk bottle, with a screw on lid and shake the crap outta it.) Increase heat until broth is boiling. While whisking constantly, add flour water in a thin stream. Continue whisking for at least a minute after the last of the flour has been added. Pour thickened gravy over chops, or into separate server.

I made mashed potatoes and corn on the cob with this, and a salad. It's yummy and you can do the whole thing on the stove without turning the oven on. For dessert, I feasted on the Rainier cherries that I found and pounced on at Sam's Club. Happy dining!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Karma Is Toast.

In Chicago, the first harbinger of spring was not the twittering of the birds, the tender buds of crocus breaking open or the aroma of skunk wafting through the neighborhood. It was the ants in my bathroom. Every spring, tiny little black ants would appear in the corner near the tub. And every spring, I would watch them with interest and in two or three days, they would disappear until the next year. Ants traps and insecticide were unnecessary. I have no idea how they got in, where they went or what they thought they would find in my bathroom but they didn't bother me and I didn't bother them. The spiders that survived the cats were shepherded outside (or during winter, to the furnace room). I did kill any stray house flies or mosquitoes that crossed my path, but even the occasional centipede, as much as they creeped me out, was free to make its way in the world.

Then I moved here. And I encountered the four inch long flying cockroaches. Water bug, my ass. It's a roach and my house has 'em. My dear landlord told me that it was my fault - the cardboard boxes drew them in. I've since learned (after talking to the neighbors and three different pest control companies) that it more likely stems from the house being vacant for at least two years prior to my moving in. Most of the ones that I encounter are already dead, or mostly so, and have been placed by my little hunters, leaving carcasses displayed about for my approval. *shudder* If I do find one alive, however, I must confess - I do NOT let it live. I kill it, with extreme prejudice. It is powder by the time I'm finished stomping on it. So my karma took a hit along with bugs. Squish.

Shortly after moving in, I noticed ants in my downstairs bathroom. [What is it with tiny black ants and bathrooms, anyway?] Once again, I watched them with interest and left them alone... and in a few days they were gone. I didn't think too much about it.

Then, Saturday, I noticed ants in my trash can. These ants were still black but they were bigger. I didn't think much about it - the trash goes out on Sundays. Sunday, I removed the bag and dumped it outside. I felt kinda bad about the ants in the trash bag, but only for as long as it took me to get the bag out to the trash can.

Oh goodness. Monday, I came downstairs to discover that the ants had invaded - the truce was over. Obviously my removal of the trash buffet was an act of war. My counters were covered with hundreds, thousands, kajillions of ants. I got home last night to find my kitchen still under siege... so I launched my offensive. Man, that Raid stuff (for ants and roaches) works! It was a massacre. Thousands died. I was ruthless. It was the insect version of the Bomb. Not content to just spray them into submission, I also planted bait - I intend to win this war, and take no prisoners. By the time I retired for the evening, there wasn't an ant in sight. This morning, still no ants. We'll see how it goes tonight, but for now the enemy is vanquished... but I do mourn the dead. And I'm fairly convinced now that I'll be coming back as either a roach or an ant. *sigh* Well, there's always the next life to be peaceable, right?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Yay! Blinky Bugs, and Boring Weekend Stuff

Friday's list? Ha. Right. I wasn't a total lump this weekend, but it was close. The cardboard from the storage rack has been dealt with (if by dealt with you mean added to the stack of cardboard in the entry way that is now as tall as I am).

Jeep? Still filthy and in need of an oil change. This week. It'll definitely happen this week. Mandavilla vine? Still squashed in a baby pot and falling over every time the wind blows. Plantlets - not only not fertilized, but now getting rather desperate for water too. Bad plant parent. Bad. Bookcases? Still a mess. Stuff for goodwill? Still strewn all over the house. The sweeping/mopping/dusting/cleaning thing? Yeah. You could ask the cat fur tumbleweeds about that - I think they're nearly sentient at this point. Drive scooped? Nope. And it needs it. Ugh. Have I mentioned lately how much I appreciate living near people whose idea of pet care is a flea collar on their outside, unfixed animals?

But, craft room organized? Well, no. But I'm getting there. My charts and kits and random stash and supplies were pretty much in the bags from the store and any time I needed anything, I had to dig through everything for it. Now, my kits are divided into 2 drawers. My charts are filed neatly - alphabetically by title within the proper category. Stacks of several years of various magazines are sorted, organized and stored in those cool magazine holder things. I have finished assembling (finally) all of the boxes of furniture in-house, at least until I go buy more.

Part of the reason that nothing much got done was the I discovered something wonderful! We have blinky bugs here! Before I moved, I was kind of freaking out about it. I don't want to live any place that doesn't have lightning bugs. (Did I look at crime statistics? No. Schools? No. Amenities? No. Cultural opportunities? No. Calculate the cost of living? Nope. My criteria, established once I got here, was - do they have blinky bugs? I may need to rethink this before the next move.) My mom and I decided, for no reason that I can remember now (but may have had something to do with my cousin in San Diego not having them) that I was moving to a lightning bug free zone. I was quite bummed out by this. Over the weekend, I discovered that we do indeed have them, and my unmowed jungle is a virtual playground for them. So, instead of getting a bunch of stuff done this weekend, I spent several hours chasing blinky bugs around my back yard. You can make me work, you can't make me grow up. If you can't find a rose to sniff, take the time to chase around the wildlife.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Week That Wouldn't Die

It's Friday! Hooray! I don't know how it works that I had a day off this week and it stills seems like this week took a month to get through. I STILL haven't talked to my boss - but we have another meeting scheduled for next Friday. Maybe that one will happen.

Some conclusions:

It's amazing how much easier things are when you use the correct tool. I went to Sam's Club last weekend and bought a Gorilla Rack for my storage room. It's the largest single shelving unit I've found - with six shelves, measuring 84" high. Wednesday I attempted to put the rack together. Yeah, that worked out great. It doesn't have screws - it's got rivets that (in theory) lock into this keyhole arrangement - the only tool you need to put it together is a hammer. The problem with the hammer, however, is the vibration. As you whack away at one end of the metal bar, the other end pops out of its little channel. Very frustrating, especially given my mood this week. Instead of chucking the whole thing through the nearest window, I walked away... and came back last night with a rubber mallet. That worked MUCH better. It was still a pain in the hindquarters to put together, but I did get it put together, and mostly loaded. Yay! It's amazing how much more organized that room looks now, even with just the one unit in there.

In other news, the vet looked at the Peanut last night. Her glands are as they should be, and she doesn't seem as sore through her back as she was. He recommended that I give her 2 more doses of the drugs, but all seems well on that front. He also had some literature for the drug for me 'cause apparently I'm the only one on the planet who reads the drug inserts for pet medications. (The drug is Medical or some such thing and it says that it is for dogs only all over the package. If you read the insert, it's got "not for use in cats" in bold, buried halfway down the page on the back - so I called the vet and asked about it before I gave it to her. The man was thrilled.)

I'm mostly over my gloom about being away from home on my favorite holiday for the first time ever. Mostly. That's not gonna happen again. The fourth of July is for blowing up shit with your family and friends. Next year, I'll remember that and plan ahead.

And I have a plan for this weekend:
* clean out the inside of my Jeep
* replant the mandavilla vine into a MUCH bigger pot
* fertilize the plantlets
* deal with the cardboard/wrapping from the storage rack
* organize at least one bookcase of books
* gather stuff for goodwill into one pile (maybe even in the Jeep)
* sweep/mop/dust/clean bathrooms - typical weekend behavior
* spend at least half a day working on getting my craft room organized
* scoop the driveway, again

We'll see how much of it actually happens.

Man, this day is dragging! Only 400 hours to go before I can go home. Are we there yet?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Whine, Moan, Ramble

Update from yesterday: since NOTHING is open past 5:00 around here, I had to leave work early to take the furball to the vet. Once I'd dropped her back at the house, I returned to work to finish a few things. I returned home around 11:00 last night to find the Peanut hissing and growling at Sophia. Until then, I wasn't aware that she even knew how to growl or hiss.

When I walked towards her, she crouched low and kinda slinked away - this is extremely unusual behavior for my Peanut. She's usually the soul of friendliness and affection. Something was clearly not right. I scooped her up and sat down under a light to investigate things and found a clump of fur near her rear hip that appeared to be sensitive. The more I tried to see what was going on, the more she freaked out, until I was glad of the hold I had on her neck since she tried striking out at me. This was not my cat.

So I bundled her into the cat carrier still sitting in the hall from Sophia's earlier road trip and called the emergency vet. A forty minute drive later, the vet poked and prodded away while my poor little cat squirmed and whimpered in fear and pain. Not fun. (When one finds oneself tempted to bite the vet if she keeps hurting one's cat, maybe it's time to wait in the lobby.) The nearest the vet can figure, it appears to be a muscle pull in her lumbar region. I was unaware that cats could pull muscles. Learn something new every day. So the Peanut got a shot and I came home with a bottle of pain medication for my cat that should be administered every other day. I will keep her appointment on Thursday and we'll review the situation then. D*mn expensive beast.

One other new bit of information - the little porker has gained 4 pounds (to 13 lbs) since getting fixed in January. So now, in addition to being taller than Sophia, she's heavier too. (On my Chicago vet's recommendation, she remained on kitten chow for nearly a full year. Perhaps that wasn't necessary.)

Today I came into work to find that a supplier just announced that they're moving our product line from Europe to Mexico... by September. So, I have at least one and maybe two more trips to Mexico coming up yet this summer. Hopefully this time I will have at least one ally among the throng.

And my dear coworker sent out minutes to upper management's visit last week, and was kind enough to assign me all sorts of actions. I'm going to particularly enjoy making up minutes to meetings I did not attend. *growl*

Ooh, and THEN I got to spend 2.5 hours on the phone arguing with another esteemed colleauge about the way we are handling MY supplier. This is what happens when someone is nuts enough to ask for support from HQ in Germany - they stick you with a stalker that you routinely have to shout down in meetings with suppliers because he is crazy. That impresses the HELL out of suppliers, you know. I have to give the guy credit for nerves, or sheer stupidity, 'cause no one else continues to argue with me once my voice gets that tone in it. We'll see how Thursday's meeting goes, but I think I won... momentarily anyway.

And then my boss postponed our meeting AGAIN. He told me two weeks ago that he wanted to talk to me. He put me off two or three times when I went to see him, then told me we'd cover it in the one-on-one which should have been Friday. We had to reschedule it 'till yesterday then he never sent the invite so I found him yesterday afternoon and he said today. Today he told me that he'll send an invite for "sometime this week." Arrgh! I can't handle this. If you're going to yell at me, yell at me and get it over with! This waiting is KILLING me.

Can't tell I'm a hormonal wreck this week, can you? I'd really rather be at home curled around either a cat or a hot water bottle. That would have the added benefit of hiding me while my face explodes and my hair goes completely feral. *sigh* Is it Friday yet?

But posting the picture above made me remember - I DID actually finish a piece this week... which is good 'cause it's the first one this year. I'm such a slacker! This isn't mine, it's the model from the front of the package. It's called "Purr-dicament" and it was designed by Margaret Sherry.

I've stacked the odds in my favor for another quick finish by digging out a WIP (work in progress, for the non-stitching crowd) that is only a couple hours from being finished. I completed everything but the backstitch several years ago, and then my brother and his girlfriend split up. Since it was for their house, I never bothered finishing it but he told me the other day that lighthouses were his thing, not hers, so it can go up in his new house. Yay, two things done this year!

Ooh, I've got to remember to call my parents, although hopefully they won't be home. Today is their 40th wedding anniversary so they'll probably be out canoodling somewhere. As much as I'd rather not think about it, I'm glad that they're still enjoying it and each other.

Hmm. I'm feeling better, so I should probably get back to work. Happy fourth, everyone!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Well This Is Gross.

(If you're particularly squeamish, stop here. Wait for me to remember the pictures from last week so I actually publish the cool little frogs. Really, you have been warned.)

I just got back from the vet's office. Yuck, yuck, yuck. There are a lot of inner workings (cat, people, etc) that I'm just as happy to never know about. Ever. Thursday evening, the Peanut came over to the recliner, sat strangely on the floor, looked directly into my eyes and started chattering away. Clearly she wanted something. Just as clearly, I had no clue what. Then, still demanding whatever and looking right at me, she started dragging her rear across the floor. In dog world, this means... worms. Ugh. Here are words that as a pet owner, I'd be thrilled to never say: discharge... stain... odor... Really, it's nearly enough to have me investigating pet rocks.

So, one thing leading to another, I called the vet on Friday for an appointment - and they managed to squeeze me in on Monday. Then Friday evening, Sophia started acting strangely too. She would never be so undignified as to drag her rear across the carpet, but something was undoubtedly wrong. Suddenly her skin would twitch and she'd take off running, only to stop and start licking frantically.

Over the weekend, I gathered my courage and went looking for evidence of my dog = cat theory and found nothing. No fleas, no worms, no worm-looking things - just odd behavior.

I had a couple of other issues to ask a vet about regarding Sophia so tonight she lost the vet lottery. One bad thing about the new place - WAY too much room for cats to run and not nearly enough ways to trap them in rooms with doors. I'm going to make my millions by perfecting a very slippery silicone funnel - the cat funnel - and you'll just stick one end in the opening of a cat carrier (placed on end), drop the cat into the funnel and watch 'em spin down into the carrier - like one of those make a wish things with the change. I swear that animal grows several extra limbs when it comes time to stuff her furry little body into the evil plastic box.

At any rate, the news was mostly good - fecal came back negative for creepy crawlies, her Avid chip still works, although it has migrated down her back a bit, and the sore under her ear is nothing serious and easy to remove. Then the vet drew a picture and educated me on more things I'd really rather not think about... like glands. And where they are located in cats - which explains why cats are always interested in sniffing one another's nether regions. And how sometimes, things (or glands) get clogged... with stuff. Good news - the vet made it all better. The bad news - Sophia made noises I didn't know were possible from a domesticated animal and did her level best to maime the vet and the 2 techs it took to hold her down for the um, cleansing... and once again, she's got a warning in her file so they know to bring out the lion tamer gloves when she comes to visit. That's my baby.

So now I have to work out how to trap the Peanut on Thursday, when it's her turn for a cleansing, and I have to try to figure out how exactly they both got... clogged at the same time (assuming Peanut's problem is the same as Sophia's) and then for the real trick - how to capture Sophia next week for the vet appointment to remove the cyst thing on her neck.

Those rocks are looking mighty attractive right now.