Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Interlude With Ornaments

Hope everyone had a happy holiday, and best of luck for 2013!

(I went with an Egyptian theme this year, in honor of the King Tut exhibition downtown. Clockwise from front: Scarab-themed painted wood ornament, cat, hummingbird, griffin, falcon, jackal, lion, and baboon. Paperclay with acrylic paint. Below: a slightly different angle. I ran out of time before I could manage individual detail shots. No shipped ornaments this year... life moves on and so do friends, leaving naught but memories.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Waiting For The World To End

By some interpretations of an ancient Mayan calendar, that is... which, given that the Mayan calendar was evidently cyclical, would no more mean the end of the world than turning the calendar over from December to January, but it gives people something to panic about, which we haven't had since Y2K.

Anyway, it's been a month; I figured I ought to check in, for all none of you who give a dang. (Well, it's either that or risk ruining my ornaments by poking at them before the Paperclay's dry enough to handle...)

Fortunately, given the rest of the year, not much has happened since my last post. At least, not to me.

Grandpa's doing much better... better, in some ways, than he's been for a few years. He was even able to sign his own holiday cards this year - something he hasn't managed for a while. We're enjoying it while it lasts.

The salmon returned to the local stream this year. Not as many as I saw last time, but enough to be encouraging. We haven't destroyed every ecosystem... yet...

I continue to sling books at the local library, while seeking (and failing to find) a viable secondary income stream. I'm trying to whip a few stories into shape for possible submission - on the grounds that I couldn't be any less successful than I am right now, in writing and life in general - but it's going to have to wait until after the holidays. Xmas is only a week out (eek!) and I've still got a small mountain's worth of projects to finish before then. (Heck, I only got my holiday cards out in today's mail.) At least my shopping's done... I think...

Well, I suppose that's enough procrastination for now. Better get back to my work shed and see what I can do...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Interlude with Mushroom and Ivy

Because I saw these growing on a tree and thought they were cool.

Oh - speaking of rot and parasites, I finished my NaNoWriMo novel this evening. It was my fastest victory in four years, one I hope to beat next year.

Yep... knew ya cared...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fall of the Fickle Muse

It's that time of year again... time to start holiday projects and begin a new novel while trying, against all odds, to finish up the other projects I'd hoped to have done long before now.

In other words, it's the time of year when one's muse, the inspiration and drive that enables one to even attempt the aforementioned activities, decides to hitch a ride to sunnier climes.

With the exception of a work shirt for Halloween (pictured above, made with iron-on holographic transfer stuff from the craft store), I've finished exactly nothing that I started out to do at the beginning of autumn. I believe the only reason I pulled off the shirt project was because doing so allowed me to procrastinate on those other things. But now I'm left with a bucketload of projects that need doing, some sooner than others, and no muse to inspire me to do them. My story revisions have sputtered out. My holiday projects are languishing in my workshop. My sketchbook hasn't seen a pencil nor a pen for months. My website still doesn't have the new graphics I promised myself I'd do when I topped 900 reviews. And it's eight hours until November 1 and I only have the vaguest sketch of a potential idea for NaNoWriMo, one so vaporous that it's liable to disperse the moment I fire up Writeway Pro to begin.

So, Muse, if you're reading this, please come home. I know you were with me all year, when I cranked out those half-baked story drafts when I should've been doing other things. I know you were still peeking over my shoulder when I decided to put off story revisions to design a holiday shirt for work for no earthly reason. Just because I have nothing left to procrastinate on doesn't mean I don't still need you in my life!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Interlude with Pumpkin and Salmon

No, I have nothing useful to report. It's been an uneventful month, for the most part. Sometimes, uneventful months are the best kind.

(The pumpkin was from a nearby pumpkin patch; the fish was from the creek downtown.)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

September, Already?

The berries are ripe, the shadows are stretching, and the black bears have been at the bird feeders again... Dang it, I guess it is September!

Just quick I'm-not-dead post, whilst I procrastinate on Other Things...

Since last I stopped by, Grandpa has come home from the hospital. He's suffered a slight memory downgrade, which I suppose is to be expected, but otherwise he's doing fine. Hopefully his recovery continues to be uneventful.

The Sand Sculpture Festival is in the area again, possibly for the last time. If they can't make a go of it this year, it won't be back. In honor of this pivotal, make-or-break year, they moved it to an even less convenient location, brought in only half as many sculptors of notably reduced talent, cut down on the signage until you were right on top of the event, and added a music stage that - when I was there on Sunday - featured Christian rock (for that all-inclusive, if-you-aren't-groveling-to-my-God-you're-goin'-to-Hell feeling.) Needless to say, I only stayed long enough to take some pictures, and bid my silent farewells to the event as I left. Something tells me it'll be the last time I see it...

I've also started posting some of my writing for feedback on the Absolute Write boards, with an eye to getting Something polished up for submission (or at least proper beta-reading.) So far, feedback has been encouraging, though of course there's always room for improvement.

Well, it was a major milestone for me, anyway...

And, for the curious, the cats continue to hang in there. Orion's doing fine on Prozac, and Domino seems healthy enough for now (knock on plywood.) No, I have no plans to replace Leo. Maybe when I get down to one cat, I'll consider another one, but not now.

I suppose that'll do it for the time being.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

And I Thought Last Week Was No Fun...

To continue from my last update...

Leo continued eating less and less. We had 90-plus-degree weather over the weekend, so everyone was a little off their food, but it reached the point where he literally would not eat.

The weather broke Monday. Still no luck. He'd lap up diluted gravy, but nothing solid.

This morning, he vomited clear liquid and was acting very stressed.

Waiting the half-hour for my vet to open has never seemed so long...

Anyway, I just got off the phone with the vet.

Good news: He isn't blocked up.

Bad news: He still has blood in his urine. He still has no appetite. His kidneys are enlarged, possibly with soft-tissue tumors. His pulse rate is off the charts. The vet suspects possible lymphoma, which might respond (temporarily) to drugs, buying another few months. Maybe. Assuming, of course, that he starts eating again.

Why, yes, junior mathematicians, that is significantly more bad news than good.

Anyway, I'm supposed to call back this afternoon to see how things are going. The ball's in Leo's court right now; if he doesn't rally, I'll be bringing home an empty crate.

It's times like this I wish I had friends...

UPDATE: Well, I just got off the phone with the vet. Leo's staying overnight. (I have a bad feeling he's worse off than the vet initially thought... he has eaten some, but still is having troubles.) Tomorrow, I should know more.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Well, That Was No Fun...

Last night, round about 8:30, I noticed Orion getting snarky towards Leo. It seemed a little odd, but not disturbingly so. I went back to writing.

About five minutes later, Leo hops out of the litter box, takes a few steps, and flops down heavily on the floor. He was panting, as cats do when they are distressed. Since he has a history of urine crystals, I immediately suspected a blockage. As I tried to feel his stomach (to see if I could tell if he was backed up), he leaked bright red.

I was on the phone to the emergency vet before the rest of the minute was up.

Long story short, Leo came home this morning. He had no further issues at the vet's overnight, but they realized he was in some distress. However, they found no sign of a blockage. They put him on pain meds, and something else to help if his issue was caused by spasms. (Mom and I wonder if he passed a small kidney stone, which would explain why it seemed mostly resolved by the time I got him down there.) They also took a urine sample for testing, to see if crystals were indeed to blame.

I need to swing by his regular vet today for more food; I'll mention this little incident, though I think it might be a little much to put him through a thorough exam right now. (He's only a year younger than Orion, after all.)

Orion on Prozac, Leo on pain meds... I just hope Domino doesn't get it into his head that he needs extra attention, too.

UPDATE: The emergency vet finally called with the results of the urinalysis. Good news is he has no crystals, so the special diet's doing it's job. Bad news is he does have white blood cells in his urine. They were leaning toward another hundred-dollar test to check for an infection; I deferred on the grounds that I wanted to touch bases with my regular vet first. (My vet is less prone to expensive testing for the sake of testing than the emergency clinic, for one thing. For another, this seems strangely similar to Orion's issues, save the symptom onset.) In the meantime, Leo's acting better than he was - he's even used the litter box without problems - though the pain meds are making him a little listless.

If this keeps up, I'm gonna need to land a second job just to pay for these guys.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Well, so far no more blood (that I've seen) out of Leo. But he's wised up to the pill pocket trick; he'll take the anti-spasm stuff in his soft food, but I now have to wrestle him down and force the antibiotics down his throat manually. At least that's only once a day... and I only have one more dose of pain medicine to force on him, as well. (Oh, yeah - forgot to mention that my regular vet put him on antibiotics. He also informed me that the urinalysis showed that his urine was too dilute, meaning kidney problems. Maybe it's psychological, or maybe it's the stress, or maybe it's the pain meds, but I look at that cat now, I see how dull his coat looks, and I feel his hips and backbone when I pet him, and I get a bad, sick feeling in my gut...)

Possibly due to the stress of this, I caught Orion marking just outside the litter box an hour ago - his first "accident" since he got back on Prozac. Damn and damn... (On the plus side, though, Orion still eats his "special treats" without any problems. He never was a very thorough chewer, unlike Leo...)

Oh, and my grandfather fell on Wednesday while at a senior center dance. He broke the top of his femur, right where it meets the hip. Amazingly, it sounds like they'll actually do surgery on him, even though he's 93; it's a less invasive procedure than it used to be, and he's relatively active for his age. I really hope this isn't the end of his activity - dancing and music have been huge parts of his life. (When he fell, he was upset that he didn't get to stay to listen to the rest of the music, despite being in pain.)

And I have to take a day and an hour off this month, unpaid, so I don't go over the 69-hour limit for library pages. I don't see why I must be penalized for a month having more than its usual allotment of Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays; I can see restricting overtime, but these are my normal work days. And just when I could really use the extra money, as well.

I wonder if they're still hiring paper carriers locally...

SATURDAY UPDATE: We visited Grandpa at the hospital today. He was a bit loopy on morphine, but the surgery apparently went well. Hopefully he'll be in a rehab center soon... then back on the dance floor.

And Leo continues to chug along. He's still not happy, but he's not any worse. He doesn't seem interested in dry food, but will lap up canned stuff. I'm hoping it's just the antibiotics and the heat. (None of them eat much dry food in the heat.) He's gotta get something on those bones other than skin.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Eternal and the Ephemeral

In honor of this being Take-a-Week-Off-So-HR-Stops-Yelling-At-Me-For-Vacation-Hour-Over-Accrual Week, I decided to take advantage of my free time and actually do something. So, we headed down to the Pacific Science Center to see the King Tut exhibit. With the changes going on in Egypt, this will likely be the last time these treasures ever leave the nation's borders... and be danged if I'm ever walking into the Middle Eastern waspnest as an American tourist, even if I had that kind of money.

I've heard a few people complaining that this wasn't as good as the earlier tour (back in the 1980's), that certain items - such as the iconic gold-and-blue headdress - weren't on display. Having never been to the original exhibition, I can only say that I enjoyed what I did see. They even let people take non-flash photographs, as witness the above. (I had two cameras going, on the throw-enough-stuff-at-the-wall photographic theory that has served me so well.) The sheer age of so many of those items was truly humbling. Aside from plastic bags, nuclear waste, and a devastated biosphere, what legacy is our civilization leaving behind? (Don't answer that... please...)

On the other end of the longevity scale, we also visited the Science Center's tropical butterfly house. Short-lived as they are, those butterflies were every bit as wonderful as the ancient treasure we'd just visited.

All in all, it was a beautiful day.

(For the bored/curious, Orion has been on Prozac for a full week, and hasn't had so much as an errant drop of an accident. If the price of Prozac keeps him around for a few more years, it's one I'm willing to pay.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It Ain't Over Yet...

First off, the good part of the week. The above image was created for a local day camp. I used to go to HJ as a kid, mostly because my mother worked there every year as the craft lady (and, later, the site director who still kept close watch on the crafts.) Every year, she would design and silk-screen a logo for that camp and another local day camp. At some point, they decided to stop doing silk-screen logos at HJ.

This year, however, we got a call. And, since I'd taken over drawing the designs for the other camp, I wound up throwing this one together, as well. I ended up using public domain fonts, a few shapes from the Paint Shop Pro shape library, and pictures from various local zoo trips. (First three from Point Defiance, the last one from Cougar Mountain Zoo.)

They seemed to enjoy it, at any rate...

It was fun to visit the grounds again; I hadn't been there in nearly twenty years. Still the same meadow, still the same big tree at the entrance... the creek's been let revert to a natural state, though. I know it's for the good of the wildlife (what little wildlife remains, as the place is built up and development upstream wreaks havoc on the both the water levels and its quality), but creek-walking was always one of my fond memories of day camp; I can't help feel that today's campers are being deprived of interacting with the water as I did, looking for crayfish and watching water-skimmers and such.

Still, fun as it was, I didn't feel the sense of nostalgic loss I'd half-expected when I walked in. Day camp was fun, and I made some nice memories there... but it was long ago and far away.

Now, on to the less-fun part of the week.

All none of you who read this blog should remember the Saga of Orion, who took it into his head to develop stress-related litter box issues (translation: he started peeing on my bed.) The Prozac seemed to curb the behavior, but the supply ran out on Sunday/Monday. I probably should've called the vet for more, but I wanted to know if he was over his issues. If, indeed, it was a temporary issue, related to the probable-infection that drove him to misbehave in the first place.

Monday night, all was well and dry. I breathed a mental sigh of relief.

Until last night.  Or this morning, rather, at 3 AM, when I woke up to feed the cats and found a fresh wet spot on my blankets.

Damn, damn, damn...

So now I'm waiting for a call back from the vet. I know the Prozac appeared to work, but I'd like to get him in for another urinalysis, now that he's off all conflicting meds, to see if he still has an infection... or if the blood in his urine wasn't an infection, after all.

I honestly don't know what I'll do if it's still there; if it can't be cleared up through meds, I cannot afford a specialist - unless I get an absolute guarantee that a specialist will fix the problem. (Which isn't going to happen in medicine.)  But I feel like I should know, once and for all, if it's simply behavioral issues, or if the Prozak was just masking the real, ongoing physical problem.

Because if there is something else wrong, I can't help suspecting that painting over it with medicine is only a temporary fix, at best.

One way or another, the Saga of Orion isn't over yet...

LATER THAT DAY UPDATE: Just got off the phone with the vet. He wants to try Prozak again; I get to drive down in the jaws of rush hour to pick it up. Fingers crossed it does the job...

Monday, July 09, 2012

Interlude with Suspension Bridge

Because there's more to life than feline incontinence issues...

(Taken at Bellevue Botanical Gardens, where we went to celebrate the late-but-welcome arrival of summer weather.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Kitty Conundrum

Cats are strange animals, both in the wild and in the home. They can be deathly ill before you know it, or they can behave so bizarrely you'd swear they were on their way out only to shake it off even as you pick up the phone to call the vet.

In the past few weeks, I've been contemplating this matter on a very personal level.

For about a month, I'd been finding random accidents about my room. I figured they were tied in with Leo, who has known urine crystal issues and is, even by this household's standards, kind of weird. (And this household, remember, once had a dog who tried to put a dead outdoor rat into my sister's pet rat cage, because he seemed to figure that's where rats belonged.) Anyway, round about two weeks ago, I finally pinned down the culprit.  Not Leo, but Orion.

Orion had been acting a slight bit strangely - he'd get in bouts where he'd yowl like he was in pain, but immediately forget about it when he was distracted, and showed no discomfort when picked up, unlike Leo when he's in a trouble zone. But, as I've mentioned, we're used to peculiar pet behavior in our household. Peculiar, however, does not extend to accidents. Since Orion was overdue for a physical anyway, I took him in to the vet's.

Aside from an enlarged thyroid, the vet saw no reason for concern, but he ran bloodwork and a urine check anyway. The results: bloodwork and thyroid A-OK, urinalysis not so much. He didn't have crystals (the usual go-to suspect, especially in older cats), but he did have blood in his urine. The next most probable cause was an infection. I picked up some antibiotics that evening and started dosing Orion. (Thank goodness I have weird, and heavily brainwashed, cats who will eat anything concealed in a kitty treat...)

I found a couple of accidents the next few days... but Orion was likely still irritated. And he was still using the litter box most of the time.  Give the antibiotics a few days to kick in, and he'd be right as rain.

The following week - eight days ago - I got a wet wake-up call at 2 AM. Something was trickling onto my face.  It wasn't rain, and it wasn't right.

I scrubbed down my face, changed my pillow, and crawled back into bed half an hour later... only to have Orion return.

And it happened again.

Once is an accident.  Twice is a cry for help.

I locked him outside in the cat run, but he spent all night pawing at the cat door and meowing. I broke at 6 AM, but couldn't risk trying to sleep again. I just kept staring at that cat, willing myself to understand what was wrong, why the antibiotics didn't seem to be working.

What I was going to have to do if he kept this up...

Later that day, when the rest of the world had woken up, I went down to the vet to report this latest development, all the while dreading the next night.  It was a work night.  I couldn't go to work on two hours' sleep.  I still had the incontinence pants from Randy's final days (over ten years ago, one of Orion's brothers had a degenerative nerve issue that rendered him incontinent toward the end), so I thought that would help with the symptom.

It would not solve the problem.

I reported to the vet, who had never heard of a cat intentionally urinating on a human being. (He believed me - I've been going to this vet for nearly 20 years, and it was just too bizarre of a story to make up - but he'd never heard of it.) He decided it was time for further exploration.  I dropped Orion off at the vet on the way to work, and picked him up on the way home.

The good news: the X-rays didn't show anything to worry about.

The bad news: the X-rays didn't show anything to worry about.

The vet said it was probably an idiopathic issue (idiopathic = we don't know what the heck's causing it, but nevertheless it seems to be happening), possibly related to a blocked anal gland he'd discovered while preparing for the X-ray. It could also be a deep-kidney infection that older cats are prone to, which also could've been triggered by the stress of a blocked gland. In any event, even if the now-cleared gland was the trigger, the infection itself still had to be dealt with. The vet decided to try switching him to another, stronger antibiotic for a week to see what happened.

Fingers crossed, this would do it... because I couldn't go on like this. I couldn't live with an incontinent animal forever. It wasn't fair to my other cats.  It wasn't fair to him.  And it wasn't fair to me. (The alternative - kicking him outside - would only be fair to the coyotes.) I also couldn't afford further investigation by specialists, which would be required if antibiotics didn't do the trick. He's an old cat - he'd be in his 80's if he were a human - and there's only so much one can expect to put him through for far-from-guaranteed results.  Which left only one plausible solution... one that made me feel like a monster for considering, after having this cat since he was nine weeks old.

Anyway, I watched that cat like a hawk over the next few days.  He was acting more like his older, playful self. He no longer attempted to urinate on my person. He wasn't doing his yowling-for-no-earthly-reason thing nearly as often.

But I kept finding accidents...

Not as many.  But still there.  And with a disturbing gravitation to my bed.

Which leads me up to today.  I spent the morning at the laundromat, cleaning my blankets, while a tarp covered my bed. I also hunted - in vain - for an actual waterproof, non-absorbent bed cover, the kind they used to sell for kids with bedwetting issues. (Mom and I have determined that modern kids apparently no longer wet beds - or, if they do, the rest of the family must start wetting theirs so the child's self-esteem isn't hurt, as it would be if they were forced to use specialized bedding to keep their sheets and mattresses urine-free, as kids in my generation were.) We finally settled on an oversized waterproof mattress cover to cover my bed during the day. This won't, however, help me at night; I can't sleep under plastic without suffocating, and some of his "accidents" have happened while I've been sleeping. Including one on my pillow.

That afternoon, I called the vet with the update.

No, the continued accidents, especially the seemingly-intentional nature, were Not Good.  They seemed to indicate some sort of stress or separation anxiety... though Orion did it whether I was in the room or not. But the vet didn't think we should give up yet. Maybe he was still irritated, and maybe he just needed some help calming down.

This evening, in addition to the antibiotics, Orion started on kitty Prozac. He's also on Cosequin; apparently, they've recently discovered that there's a glucosamine coating on the bladder in cats, which seems to have something to do with protecting it, so he figured an extra dose of the stuff couldn't hurt.

This is pretty much all he can think to try. If this doesn't work... if this habit can't be broken...

So now I'm sitting here, watching Orion like a hawk, wondering if I'll be able to sleep through the night without having to change my pillowcase (again.) Wondering if we've finally hit on the magic bullet that will get him back in the litter box habit.

And wondering if I'll still have three cats by the end of July.

(The photo at the start was from a recent visit to the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma. I would've blogged about it, but why bother?)

SATURDAY UPDATE: Well, it looked like we were making progress... Only two accidents since I posted this. Not as bad as it was, but still enough to show that the problem's still there, and that it's not entirely under control.

Damn, damn, damn...

If it keeps up, I'll be talking to the vet early next week. Orion might just need a higher dose of Prozak.

Fingers crossed, that's all he needs... because that is doable. Continuing to live with an eye and a nose peeled for fresh "spills" isn't.

TUESDAY UPDATE: 72 hours without a known accident. Definitely looking better, knock on plywood-colored substance... I might try doing a "towel test" later today or sometime tomorrow. (This involves putting a towel down.  Last time I had a towel on the floor or on my plastic-covered bed... well, it would test to see if he still feels the need to mark, but has simply been avoiding the plastic.) It would be nice if I didn't have to sit on plastic to type on my computer... or sleep on a plastic-bag-covered pillow. (The cover is technically supposed to be waterproof, but I wasn't going to take the chance with cat urine.)

NEXT SATURDAY UPDATE: Thus far, Orion has passed the "towel test." And the "pillow without plastic" test. And the "chair without plastic test." However, he did not pass the "sandals left on the floor" test. Still, much better than I'd feared.  I expect I'll be calling the vet next week with the update, and to ask what to do about it - he might just need a larger dose of Prozak. He also might need checking to make sure the infection itself is actually gone, too - since it's not nearly so frequent, it might just be residual behavior issues.

In any event, things are looking up from a week ago.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Too Lazy To Think Of A Witty Title Right Now

This being Memorial Day Weekend, the family wandered down to the annual Folklife Festival at Seattle Center. Usually, when we go, we have an idea of what we intend to see and do, or at least a rough plan. This year, though, we were universally underwhelmed by the schedule. So we figured we'd just go our separate ways and wander across whatever we might.

Actually, it was the least stressful Folklife I remember. Without having to be somewhere at a given time, or staking out one of the precious few seats at a popular stage three acts in advance, or otherwise feeling inclined to fight crowds, the day seemed to go better.

Every year, the venue seems to shrink a slight bit. First, it was EMP gnawing into the Seattle Center footprint. Then they dumped Fun Forest, the amusement center that had been the salvation of many a childhood journey to the Center, altogether. Now, they've taken a huge bite with the new Chihuly Garden and Glass, yet another part of Seattle's efforts to honor the "for the public" charter of Seattle Center by systematically slicing it up for high-priced tourist gimmicks to suck in the cruise ship crowd. (As if it wasn't enough for Chihuly to have a money-losing Museum of Glass just down the interstate in Tacoma... I swear the man won't rest until they actually dedicate a religion to him.) We're waiting for them to rope off the central fountain and start charging admission there.

They've been telling us that the potentially radioactive debris from the Japanese tsunami that's starting to wash up on our shores isn't dangerous, but I see these webs and I have to wonder...

(Evidently, it was part of someone's art project. Either that, or Granny's off her meds again.)

Whatever the explanation, it must've been a heck of a job to install.

Speaking of art projects, we watched a team of college kids drawing a mega-hopscotch course around the fountain. With today's children more likely to turn to their phones or Playstations than the sidewalks for amusement, we wondered if anyone under 21 would even recognize hopscotch.

I suppose, if you build it, they will come... (Maybe there is some hope for humanity, after all.  Or maybe they just saw it on YouTube.)

This being the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair, the reason the grounds were built and dedicated in the first place, they had a special exhibit highlighting the fair. While I lacked direct memory of the event, years of attending Folklife have acquainted me with its legacy. (And I still remember the Bubbleator...) The above photo shows just how times have changed... or at least the common American vernacular.

Well, that's about all I can think to ramble about. Mostly, I wandered around, taking pictures and listening to random things, spending too much on a T-shirt and a wooden Indonesian dragon (which was a steal at the price I paid, but still more than I probably should've spent on anything, given my income.) Eventually, we headed home.

And thus ends The World's Least Interesting Trip Report. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have exactly one hour and 14 minutes to do something remotely productive with my Saturday.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Rhodies Are Red, Poppies Are Blue...

Today, in honor of the weather being suspiciously springlike, the family made a trek to the nearby Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden.  Aside from the rhodies and a bonsai collection, it apparently also featured the rare Blue Poppy from the Himalayas, a notoriously difficult species to successfully cultivate. Given the usual family luck, I was skeptical that we'd actually see them in bloom.

The above photo cuts a long and winding story mercifully short.

Not only were there blue poppies, but they were in bloom.  Several of them.  Enough that one could see how they actually emerge from the pods purple, then turn a bright sky-blue as they age.

Aside from Grandpa being less than alert (even for him), it was a fairly pleasant day. I could've spent longer just wandering around, pretending I knew what I was doing with my cameras... though by the time we left the crowds were getting thicker.  It seems we weren't the only ones searching for the legendary blue poppies.

It was a nice little break from the other projects I've been running in circles trying to finish (my latest written monstrosity, the annual run at Copyright Infringement Hell, online work training, etc.)

(As a PS, I offer two pictures:

How is this possible?

Further proof of Wizard's First Rule...)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Lions of Spring

The weather's warmer, the grass is greener, and roving prides of dandelions raise their heads to the sun in lawns across the Northern hemisphere.

Yes, it's springtime once again.

Well, it's been a month - about time for an I'm-not-dead-I'm-busy post in the off chance anyone wanders through.

At the tail end of March, my sister and I waged a fierce and heroic battle against an overgrown juniper at our grandfather's house.  Much like the hydra of legend, it seemed to keep sprouting new limbs to thwart us... but, in the end, we emerged victorious. It just about did in our poor electric chainsaw, though...
This is what's left; the stumps are roughly 5-6 feet high, to give an idea of scale.  And the greenish lump along the back is a large section of juniper over half the size of the pile above.  We both know there wasn't that much tree up there when we started cutting.
We also got through another Easter. This year, instead of eating in an empty house, we went up to my aunt's place. Grandpa was a little off, but otherwise it went well enough for a family gathering, I suppose. I spent a fair portion of the gathering hiding behind my Kindle with headphones; I find family gatherings go better when I'm invisible. (What can I say? I'm not a social butterfly.  I'm also dull as dirt.)
With the improving weather, I've been able to get back into my walking routine. It's better exercise than pacing around the house, and I don't get snarked at by annoyed relatives. Down on the swampy end of my walking route, a pair of mallards is - once again - showing signs of trying to set up housekeeping. Pretty much every year they try. Pretty much every year, at least one of them ends up on the wrong end of a steel-belted radial; we have a fair number of would-be NASCAR drivers whipping around that corner. But that just opens up the space for another pair. (I wonder if it holds the same attraction for ducks that haunted houses with histories of bloody tragedy seem to hold for humans, at least in bad movies; how many bodies have to pile up before someone clues in that it's a bad place to live and bulldozes the damned place?)
I've also - slowly - been getting back into a creative groove. For the first time in too long, I have a painted drum in the works. It's a frog for one of my sister's woodcarving teachers, who suffered a stroke that knocked him out of commission until at least fall. It's been fighting me, but it's coming along. (The above picture is not the one I'm using. It's a frog from one of Mom's backyard ponds. Not the brightest bulb in the frog world, really - I literally almost touched the idiot with the camera while taking the photo, and he didn't move. By now, I'm sure he's made friends with a local owl.  Maybe frogs and ducks are related... or it's something in the water that inhibits self-preservation.)
Speaking of the workshop, I finally got myself a good drawing surface for the place: a portable drawing board that can be raised to an angle or lay down flat (for when I want to do non-drawing things on it; I have too little working space to dedicate one area solely to drawing.) It came from Hobby Lobby, a national craft chain that's finally creeping into the Pacific Northwest. Today was my first trip to the place. It's definitely more of a craft store than Michael's, but I was frankly expecting more. At the very least, it would've been nice if they labeled their aisles in some meaningful fashion, instead of expecting customers to wander aimlessly until they stumble over what they want. But they had my drawing board, and it got me out of the house on a sunny day.

Well, that's about it. Just thought I'd keep the place from getting too lonely, and perpetuate my self-delusion that I actually do things worth posting about.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Interlude with Pine Siskin

A friendly reminder to our avian friends:

I understand that it's spring.  I understand you're excited about the longer days and warming weather - we all are.  I understand you can't wait to chat up that pretty little finch on the other feeder and talk to all of your friends about their winter vacations. But that doesn't make windows any softer.

Please, don't tweet and fly.

Thank you.

(The above was one of the lucky ones - just stunned.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


Roundabout six-odd years ago, I purchased the computer on which I'm currently writing this blog entry. (Well, I'm actually typing it on a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard which is somewhat newer. The computer is the means by which these words are transmitted to the Internet, and thus the world in general.)  In that time, I've stuck in a few RAM chips, fiddled with the graphics card, succumbed to one particularly insidious virus, and otherwise enjoyed the ups and downs of computer life.

But all things, as they say, must come to an end.  And, after six years, no amount of upgrading would keep this old boy in fighting trim for newer software. (Not that I buy much new software anymore... new games especially tend to come packed with computer-destroying viruses euphemistically referred to as "anti-piracy software.")

This afternoon, after wrestling with The World's Least Enthused Sales Guy (who I swear didn't actually want to sell anything), I placed my order for my new machine. (I was actually eyeballing the next model up, but with the money I saved I can invest in a kick-arse graphics card and some more software. That's the advantage to hole-in-the-wall machines; I can pop 'em open for upgrades not void any warranty.) It's supposed to be ready by this evening.

Right now, I'm doing my last-minute data transfers and software wipes, then I'll be crawling all over my room tracking down my master CDs and other stuff I need to complete the virtual brain transplant.

With luck, I'll have everything hooked up before I go to bed tonight. (Stop laughing! It could happen! Really, it could!)

The old computer now concludes its broadcast day.

UPDATE: Well, it's 7:50 PM, and I'm checking in on the new beast.  It's going... well, it's going, I'll leave it at that. Except to say that I can't seem to get the speakers to work, even though Windows 7 agrees that they're plugged in. And the World's Least Enthused Sales Guy once again gave me the brush-off; the man buying a computer before me was being shown every nut, cord, bag, and scrap of paper in his new computer's box, while they couldn't shove me out the door fast enough. (Well, to be fair, it wasn't just him; everyone in the frellin' store had better things to do than deal with a lowly paying customer.)

I'm trying to reload some vitals before I call it a night, but I gotta be honest: working with a mute machine is kinda unnerving. I count on Windows screaming at me if I do something wrong.

Oh, well... back at it...

LATER: Well, it's 10 PM, and - thanks to some friendly advice from my Windows 7-savvy sister - I finally got my speakers working!  Yay!

Unfortunately, I gotta shut down soon.  Work tomorrow... (Boo!)

But that means more money, so I can't complain... (Yay!)

(Gotta end on a positive note...)

Monday, February 06, 2012

Interlude with Caterpillar

This morning, we watched a hummingbird gather material for a nest. Later, at the park, I spied this furry little harbinger of spring.

Fingers crossed that we've seen the tail end of ice storms...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hoofin' It

This past Xmas, my uncle surprised us with tickets to a local event: Cavalia, a touring equestrian/acrobatic show in the vein of Cirque du Soleil. With Grandpa's mental and physical state iffy at best, and relatives just plain unpredictable, we weren't altogether certain how it would go. But it was a Family Thing, and who knows how many of those we'll have before the Family is less complete than it is now?

The weather, as one might surmise from the photograph, wasn't particularly promising. Online reports indicated that the tent was climate-controlled, at least. We showed up about an hour before showtime to wait for relatives and gather tickets - a smart move, as the lines grew exponentially longer by the minute. Fortunately, the rest of the clan had the same idea, so we didn't have to stand around outside waiting. Also fortunately, Grandpa was in an "up" mood, relatively alert and mobile.

When we got inside, we discovered that our seats were closer than we'd anticipated - only about seven rows back, if off to the side. The online seating chart warned that these were "partially obstructed" views, but the stage looked plenty big enough for that not to be a problem. Meanwhile, we were wondering how to get Grandpa and his walker up the stairs to our seats. The problem solved itself before it was encountered; the staff, taking note of his mobility, offered two front-row floor seats for him and a relative. My horse-nut sister opted to sit by him, while the rest of us settled into our "partially obstructed" seats amid the growing crowd.

To cut a long story short, the show - after a bit of a slow start - proved magnificent. We failed to see how our view was in any way obstructed by anything. My only complaint was that they could've routed traffic better during the intermission. (Well, that and merchandising selection, but then I'm often disappointed with merchandising selection. Didn't stop me from buying a keychain, though...) We were all impressed - even Grandpa, who was more talkative than he has been in many a moon. Dad declared it the most spectacular thing he'd ever seen in his life - which covers more than 80 years, so that's saying something. As for my horse-nut sister, she came home with a keychain, a pictorial program, and the deluxe book.

All in all, this was probably one of the best belated Xmas gifts I've ever received.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dreamer in the Dark

Or: Reading by Lamplight

Well, it's been a few days, hasn't it? If not for you, then certainly for me. The short story is that the snowstorm mentioned in my previous post took a turn for the nasty, leaving us without power for 5 1/2 days.

The long story? Read onward...

When last I left me, on Wednesday afternoon, I had returned home from an abbreviated workday, braving nearly-deserted roads. At the time, it was just a snowstorm... if an unusually heavy snowstorm for our region and altitude. I figured we'd get a good coating of crystallized rain and that would be that.

I figured wrong.

So, evidently, did the weather people.

As the storm wore on, snow began turning to ice. Ice, as one might know from science class or personal experience, is heavier than snow.

And we had a lot of trees whose boughs were already straining under the burden of snow...

Late on Wednesday night, at almost 9 on the nose, the power died. We gave it a few minutes to see if it was just a hiccup, but it wasn't. Not a problem, we figured. It had been years since we'd had a multi-day outage. Since the nearest town went from being a bedroom community to a full-blown city in its own right, we tended to be in a higher-priority area than we used to be as no-name suburban-country hicks. Besides, we had a gas generator. While it wasn't strong enough to run the well pump, it could run the furnace or the microwave (or a freezer). We had some bottled water and some nukable dinner options. By the time I went to work on Thursday, we'd be back up and running.

THURSDAY - Dawn of Darkness

Sure enough, at around 4 AM, I heard the power come back on. It's strange, listening to dead silence - one is almost startled by the sudden resurgence of hum and thrum and buzz, the nearly subsonic breath and pulse of our modern electrified age. I quietly rejoiced, as much for the power as for the realization that I had a few more hours of sleep before the alarm went off.

I woke from a half-doze two hours later to a rising silence. The silence of the dark.

I knew I should've taken a shower at 4 AM when I had the chance...

Crawling out of bed, I managed to make do with a little leftovers from the hot water tank and a bucket. In the meantime, Mom emerged from her room with a radio news update. As bad as driving was on Wednesday, Thursday was worse. The roads were sheets of ice. Branches and trees (and power lines) were dropping left and right - a fact I could personally attest to, with half a minute's listening. They had even invoked the Emergency Broadcast System to tell people to stay home unless they absolutely had to leave.

I called the closure line at work, thinking I'd hear the same story. Instead, I was informed that work would be starting at the normal time... which gave the roads about an hour to shape up.

Peering into the driveway, I saw my car encased in ice. Literally encased. I watched a massive limb crash down from the Douglas fir in the yard... adding to the pile already on my mother's car. I poked my head out the front door and found the stairs to be impassable.

I called work back a half-hour later and told them I was unable to even reach my car, let alone drive in to work. The tech on the phone didn't sound surprised; several people had already called out, and they'd just lost power anyway.

So I found myself with an unexpected day off.

I don't know why I found myself buried in my Kindle. Perhaps I've worked for the library long enough that my subconscious demanded I spend my day among books, if not slinging them then actually reading them. And, really, there wasn't much else I could do in a dark house. No computer, no internet, no TV. But at least we had heat. And power couldn't be more than a day away.

Even if Dad had forgotten to fill the gas can before the storm hit, leaving us with half a tank of gas against a day and a night of ice and snow.  Even if our upstairs fridge was rapidly defrosting. Even if my mother's car already had one dangerously large branch draped over it, with more raining down as the day progressed... enough that we didn't dare check for damages, because even a small branch off this monster tree would be lethal.

I was beginning to suspect that we were not as well prepared for the storm as we'd previously believed...

To further complicate matters, that afternoon the largest branch we had yet seen dropped from the heavens. This thing was large enough to be its own tree. As frightening as it was watching this fall, with hardly a crack to announce its sudden departure from the greater trunk, its fall was capped by an almighty crack against the wall.

That crack was the end of our phone line whipping back against the living room window.

With ice-encrusted roads, power lines down on either end of the street, dropping limbs (which we later learned actually killed a neighbor, if not one we knew by name), and now no phone, we were effectively isolated from the outside world.

Worse, word was that power crews were actually being called back from the job due to dangerous conditions.

And we were nearing the end of our backup water supply...

FRIDAY - The Drive of Death

On Friday, the ice storm itself was over. Limbs were still falling, but new ice wasn't accumulating. Temperatures were set to rise over the day. Things had to be improving.

Had to be, because I had a job to get to, and no way to even call in to find out if we were still on early-start (as we'd discussed on Wednesday.) I tried my cell phone, but the nearest tower was out of service.

Nevertheless, I dutifully chiseled out my car. Someone had to make a run to civilization, for water and more food if nothing else, and be danged if I was going to give up before I even tried getting through to work.

The downed lines were still down, but I knew a way out to the main road through a nearby church parking lot. Unfortunately, so did someone else...someone whose 4 x 4 had torn up the road so badly I danged near got stuck. But I had to get out, and there was no turning back, so I coaxed the Golden Taurus down to the (thankfully plowed and sanded) main road. It was more of a controlled slide than a true drive, as my poor car wallowed and ground its way in the direction most favored by gravity. I made it, but realized even as I did so that I'd committed myself - I could never get my car back up the torn-up road I'd just come down. Hell, I wasn't sure I'd even get the car back up the road to my driveway. But here I was, and here I must remain.

As I rolled through town, I noticed a couple of things. The power was out at every business, and the roads were still almost empty. When I saw that the local library was pitch dark, I suspected that I would have no work to do if I drove out to the shipping facility. I wanted to try calling again, but I needed a place to pull over and check for cell service. Unfortunately, the plows had buried the parking lot entrances to every store along the main road. I'd already pushed my luck on my slalom-ride down to the main road; no way I was risking my undercarriage on an unplowed parking lot. When I finally hit working stoplights across town, I found a gas station whose patrons had helpfully compacted the plow-dam enough for me to pull off. Finding I had a signal, I called in to work to find out what the hell I was doing in the middle of a deserted town at 7:45 AM.

The phone at work rang... and rang...and rang. This doesn't happen - either someone picks up, or the answering machine kicks in. And we were supposed to have started work at 8 AM.

I'd already risked my car getting this far. At the very least, I'd swing by a store to pick up some more supplies before throwing in the towel.

The nearest store was wide open. Literally - doors standing open to the weather. I thought it closed - the parking lot was nigh deserted, a rough and laneless stretch of tire tracks and slushy ice. But the lights were on inside - generator lights, true, but lights nonetheless - and I saw someone come out with a shopping bag. I went in and managed to grab water, some more food, and even a sack of litter to grit the stairs (one of those things I thought for sure we had when I was stocking up for the storm, but which I'd evidently hallucinated.) Sitting in the parking lot, I gave work another try. Twelve unanswered rings answered my question: I was not going to work today. I was also not sitting in the parking lot for another hour to keep trying.

So, I went home. How did I manage it, if I couldn't get back up the church road? I wound up driving over a downed power line. Previous tire tracks convinced me it must be safe, though in retrospect it was probably one of the dumbest things I'd done, not unlike the whole morning's adventures to be perfectly honest. (Besides, my only alternative was sitting around in a powerless city, calling work until my cell phone died; I couldn't even call home with the cell towers acting up. All things considered, I didn't think I had much of a choice.)

I'd forgotten to grab the gas can before I went - I had thought I was going to work, after all - but our neighbors had made the matter of generator fuel moot; they offered us an extension cord from their commercial-grade natural gas generator. It powered everything our gas furnace would've done, allowing us to save the half-tank for a rainy (or snowy) day.

Thank you, Fate. I knew we fools could count on you...

Another day of reading gave way to writing: I'd backed up four book reviews, and wound up writing them out longhand so I wouldn't forget my thoughts on them. If nothing else, this outage was sure clearing up my Kindle reading backlog. Later that night, I pressed the Little Black Critter into service typing them up in Notepad, so I could cut and paste them online when the opportunity arose. Then I read some more.

SATURDAY - Winter Showers

On Saturday, we were ready to break. Two and a half days trapped together were threatening to turn this little outage into a crime scene. And it was two and a half days too long without access to a proper shower. (There's only so much one can do with a bucket of icewater and a washcloth...) Fortunately, my  grandfather's unoccupied house had power, and by now the roads were much improved, if not entirely clear. So we piled ourselves, our laundry, and our soap into the Golden Taurus and struck out for brighter skies and warmer water.

Oh, but it felt good to have a proper shower...

(I've determined that I'd never make a good survivalist. I'm too addicted to creature comforts like hot water.)

While we were over there, we dropped by the adult home to visit my grandfather. He's doing pretty well, telling us about the icicles which had, until recently, adorned the roof. We also grabbed more food and headed home, via a few unexpected detours. (Really, would it have killed the road crews to announce the need for a detour due to a major road closure before I saw the Road Closed sign in my headlights?)

Which brings us to Saturday night, as I type this on the Little Black Critter, by the light of a lantern dangling from the edge of a shelf. With improving conditions, the power crews have made great strides in restoring electricity. Why, just this evening, I called their automated line for an update on our outage. We were told that power was expected to be restored by 8 PM this very night.

It's 10:53 PM as I type this... by the light of a lantern, in my darkened room.

Oh, well... at least I got my shower today.

SUNDAY - Unanswered Prayers

My hopes, raised so high last night, of an impending resolution to our power problem grow decidedly dim. Before, the power company outage hotline was able to give us a plausible cause and approximate time that we could expect our electricity back. This morning, waking to find the house as dark and dead as it was last night, I called again. While they inform us that the outage is on their books, they claim that the cause is a "tree falling on the lines," and that they are unable to even speculate on a repair time.

On the plus side, the roads are bare, and ice only lingers in patches on the driveway and lawn.

This morning, the neighbors helped us extract Mom's car from the branch fortress that had formed around it during the ice storm. Despite my fears about the state of the hood, the car started up just fine. (The "Maintenance Required" dashboard light didn't even turn on. I guess the car thinks it's perfectly healthy, despite the shattered windshield and cracked light and dented hood. I never have trusted those catch-all lights...) This bodes well for the repair bill and work time, at least.

Later in the day, we headed into town to pick up a prescription for Mother. It didn't go well... the blood pressure meds she needs were once again denied. This time, Mom went in and demanded an explanation. After playing phone tag with doctors and insurance, the pharmacist was able to answer the question that had plagued her since November. While the new doctor's office has flubbed a bit, and her doctor didn't always follow through, the bulk of the blame lies squarely on the weaselly little shoulders of her insurance company. They did give mother a prescription for another blood pressure med that the company approved of - one that she swears she's tried and which didn't work for her, but at least it's something. So at least now she knows who to yell at.

We grabbed batteries and more illumination devices at Freddy's, including the cheapie head lamp that's currently illuminating my keyboard. Too cool... Then, we grabbed lunch at Wendy's.  While there, we heard two guys thanking the employees profusely for being open. I guess we aren't the only ones still without power around these parts.

After lunch, we hit the gas station (for the car and the generator can), and headed home.  Where Mother promptly realized that she'd left her purse in Wendy's. Her purse with her cell phone and her money and her everything. Unload the car, and I drive her back out to search for the thing. Fearing the worst, I went in to ask if someone had found a brown fanny-pack purse. A tense wait, as people talked to people. Then a miracle. Yes, they had it! I threw a dollar into the donation jar at the counter and returned in triumph to the car.

At least that much is going right...

When we got home, we called the power guys again. Same story, same non-answer. Funny thing is, we saw no trees down between the dark houses and the illuminated houses on our drive out of town. Either of them. My guess is that they're giving us the brush-off; we should've come back up with the rest of the people they restored last night, they don't know why we didn't, and they've therefore dropped us to the bottom of the repair list until they deign fit to bother with us lowly little peons who aren't worth their prime time.

Our fault for daring to be their customer, I suppose.

So now it's 8:27 PM - over 24 hours past when we should've been repowered - and I'm typing on the LBC by the twin illumination of a fluorescent lamp and an LED headlight.

And now I can't find my little purple flash drive or my cheap tiger mouse pad from my laptop case.

And we're going to have to chuck most of what's in the fridge.

And I'm really pissed off at the power company for forgetting about us.

Please, please, please, Master Water Dragon, whose year of honor commences tomorrow... do be kind and help us start your year well!

MONDAY - New Year by Lanternlight

Another day of broken promises by the power company and frayed nerves in the household.

The sun was shining on the last of the snowmelt, with bare roads and rising temperatures.

At the cat vet, where I was grabbing more food for one of my boys, I mentioned that we were still without power.  The lady at the desk said that she lived much further out than us, and she had power.

When I called the power hotline this morning to check on our status, we were given an ominous message about how they didn't even want to hear about it unless it was an emergency. I think they're just sick of hearing from us.

This evening, we grabbed a pizza for dinner. We fervently hoped to see the annoying garage light on the way home, the loud and buzzing and always-on thing that heralds whether or not we have power.

It was dark.

Tonight, we were given a deadline of 11:30.

After midnight, the neighbor's generator stopped providing power, but their house is dark, as is the neighborhood. We fired up our puny gas generator, so at least we won't freeze.

Dad called for an update.  New time? 8 AM tomorrow morning.

At least we'll be getting our 50-buck rebate from the power company, for being out more than 5 days...

I'd rather have the juice...

TUESDAY - The Light at the End of the Tunnel

8 AM came and went. Like so many promises made by the power company, it amounted to nothing. (Their new deadline was 12. Or 6.)

Today, at least, the phone company was due out to fix our phone. When, they couldn't tell us, but some time between dusk and dawn seemed the most likely time. While Dad waited for them, the rest of us piled into the faithful Golden Taurus with a bag of laundry and headed back to Grandpa's, also known as the Oasis of Warm Water. Showers and laundry (and lunch) accomplished, we came back home - this time returning by our usual route, the one that was denied us by road closures on Saturday.

Our private road lies off a "horseshoe" spur, touching on the main road at either end. Usually, we only see one half of it in a given day - the half that leads to the nearest town. Our return trip took us up the other side.

We finally understood why the power company was having trouble.

Even now, five days after the storm, the place was an almost-impassable disaster zone. Half the lines that could be knocked down were. Piles of debris and branches that were practically trees themselves lay alongside - and even in - the roadway, choking passing to a narrow single lane at one point.

This is the end of the road where a neighbor had died. (We still don't know exactly who, or which house they were in, but it was a sobering thought.)

Needless to say, 12 passed without so much as a blip from the power lines. My sister went off to attend a continuing education class she'd signed up for a month ago, taking my father along to help navigate. (He's  freakishly good at navigation, as he's freakishly good at waiting for tech guys and other tedious tasks.)  Mother and I went out to look for more batteries, as our supply was running dangerously low.

On our way home, I saw a glimmer of light from the main road.

A particular annoying, always-on garage light glowed in the darkness...

It was too much to hope for.

I held my breath, biting my tongue, as we crept up the road and into our driveway.

Our motion-activated lights gave us the best welcome I've had in many a moon.


And thus ends the Great Power Saga of January 2012. Given weather patterns, I have a bad feeling that it won't be our last brush with the darkness before the winter ends.

In the meantime, I have five days' worth of websurfing to catch up on, and eight new book reviews to format and post.

Oh, yeah... and work tomorrow.

(Mother's branch-encased car. Bad as it looks, it actually could've been much worse, considering the size of the branches that fell mere inches to either side.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Delay

When I was young, snow on a weekday meant eagerly listening to the radio, holding our breath as the list of closures and delays was read off - or, sometimes, watching the morning news on TV as the little bar beneath the babbling anchors scrolled through names familiar and strange. Closures were best, of course, but a delay meant little more than a change in routine. It was too late to actually crawl back into bed and get more sleep. In truth, as someone to whom crawling out of bed in the morning was never a pleasant task, it was rather annoying; if I'd known beforehand, I could've at least slept in.

Today, work had called for an early start, as the MLK Weekend "storm surge" was due to strike. The weather gurus, however, have been muttering and mumbling about a Major Snow Event, the potential for a foot of snow today, with possible winds. Around here, we take our weather forecasts with a steamshovel of salt, but - sure enough - this morning I woke to see a fresh layer of white across the yard, and fine wet flakes still sifting down from the great flour sieve in the skies.

Now, I know what work is not school. We grown-ups are expected to risk our necks on icy roads amid our fellow grown-ups to get to our jobs, trivial as they may be. And the library is, technically, government. They don't close down unless they can't get the doors open, or unless the power's out.

Still, memories of school days, of the golden "C" word, prompted me to call in before I took the time to excavate my car from the driveway.

We have a one-hour delay, after which we lowly part-timers are to call in and check to see if the facilities are opening at all.

So, I crawled out of bed on maybe 5 hours sleep for nothing... and, once again, if I'd known beforehand, I could've at least slept in.

Dang it...

(Did they make us go in? Even when nobody else made their employees go in, except maybe Metro and the Post Office? Did they make us drive on icy roads that were almost entirely devoid of other vehicles?

Yes. Yes they did. For all of 2 1/2 hours. Turns out that most of the rest of the library system was closed or intended to close early, so it was pointless to keep us there any longer. Tomorrow we finish the holiday load we were supposed to do today. And Friday we get slammed with snow-day catchups.

And I forgot my sandwich at work, too...

Dang it.)