Sunday, February 28, 2010

Diet Effectiveness Backfires

So, my cat is fat. Or at least, she was. Maya, our oldest cat, was rescued from the pound only a few months after she'd given birth. The vet said she hadn't regained her girlish figure. It soon became apparent that she wasn't going to. Her belly was too pouchy. Ready to be filled, apparently, because over the next few years, she grew.

We gave her only a quarter cup of indoor formula cat food twice a day. That's, like, a quarter of what the bag said to feed an adult cat of her size. But she always went after the dog food, and even though we'd put it up when the dog didn't eat it, it wasn't possible to keep her away from it completely.

We never thought she was getting enough of the dog food to gain so much weight, nor did she ever get people food, but she still turned into Puddle Cat (she's on the left):

A while ago, because all three cats were getting into the dog food more and more, we cut back on that quarter cup of dry, indoor-formula cat food. Maya was only getting an eighth of a cup because she'd gotten so big. I noticed that it was working. She didn't puddle so much. Then Dolly died, and there was no more dog food for her to get into. And WHOA.

She weighs less than BG, aka Tiny Cat (the cat on the right in the above shot)!

Wii Fit has a Pet Stats feature so you can weight your pets, and that's how we know. Maya is still pouchy, but she's squeezable enough to get through the bars of the gate we have at the top of the basement stairs:

That's about 2.5 inches between bars. !!!

So that's the backfiring part. We don't mind Maya getting downstairs, but I'm afraid she's going to hurt herself. Every day, I hear her either coming up or going down, squeezing herself through those bars.

The gate is up to keep Frisbee from going down. She's a big cat, weighs more than the others because she's longer and a heavier breed (and got into the dog food, too), and hates to jump down from any height greater than about three inches, so the gate works. But I think we're going to have to take it down, and take a chance that she forgot how much she likes to pee on the rug downstairs, just to keep Maya from dislocating a hip or causing internal bleeding.

OR, we could just let her get fat again.


So here are my kitties now:

Maya, No Longer Fat Cat

BG, Apparently Densely Packed

Frisbee, Always and Forever Demon Kitty

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Have Permission to Tell You This

Number One took an Intro to Foreign Foods last semester, a precursor to this semester's Italian Cooking class. She made an excellent Kung Pao Chicken for us all, and recently decided to make Fettuccini Alfredo, her favorite Italian dish, for family dinner.

We tried. Hard. I thought it was odd that it didn't thicken very much, but she'd done everything right, as far as I could tell, and we all made enthusiastic and encouraging noises as we dished up. On first bite, it was pretty good, although sweet. On additional bites, it tasted sweeter and sweeter. I got up to check the basil, to see if she used sweet basil, but she hadn't. Then I thought maybe the basil was old and had therefore changed flavor or something.

After a few minutes in which it became harder and harder to eat the pasta, I suddenly had a brain flash. An image, as I walked through the kitchen, of Number One measuring the flour. From a yellow canister out of the cupboard. Not the glass canister from the counter.

Yeah. She used powdered sugar.

I'll be a good mom and take some of the blame. I walked through the kitchen while she was measuring it, and I was there as she mixed it into the butter. I half noticed how bright white it was, and attributed it to the lighting. But it never occurred to me that she was inexperienced enough not to be able to tell that it was too fine or smelled different. And I wasn't actively supervising her or anything.

She tried again last night, and it was perfect. :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow Day Madness

Phone call at 5:30 this morning. School canceled. Not just a delay! I was surprised, because the actuality had flagrantly defied the forecast. When I got up at 8, I snapped this photo:

People kept telling me bad things were expected, so I figured more was to come, and it was very windy. I mean, not windy enough to close school IMO, but buses do have a high profile and some undoubtedly go out into unsheltered farmy-type areas, so the wind would be blowing yesterday's 1/4-inch dusting across the road.

But my husband told me the roads all the way to work were dry, and he passes through a lot of unsheltered farmy-type areas. We've had flurries, sunshine, and what they call "snow showers" when it comes down faster than flurries, but doesn't stick. But nothing worth closing over.

I don't cast any blame, however. (I know, can you believe it?!) A news report I read talked about the horrible blizzard the Northeast got. Twenty or more inches of snow, furious winds that caused massive fires, tens of thousands of people without power. Even 20 inches of snow here in PA! The PA Turnpike was closed for 60 miles due to a 10-car/tractor trailer pileup. A friend down in York, about 30, 40 miles away, sent me a list of the active 911 calls this morning, with a dozen accidents. She said the plow never came to do her parking lot. We didn't even need to clear off the car! Turn on the wipers and the back defroster, and voila!

This has been an exceedingly weird winter.

So I tried to work this morning. Morning became "entire day." I got some vital e-mails taken care of, confirmed the tax refund came so I could order oil, and was heading into "actual work" territory when Number Two wanted to play Rock Band. I couldn't say no, of course. And then it was lunchtime, and then when I came to work more Number One finished researching her computer and we needed to do additional research and shopping to make everything work. So that took a couple of hours of the day, but it's ordered, and she's very happy even though it won't come until mid April. Gah. Then I had to get Number Two ready to go watch basketball playoffs with her grandfather and father.

I'm still in my jammies.

In my defense, Number One and I were going to go to the club after Number Two left, but she lost her iPod and the idea didn't appeal to her at all, so she went out jogging instead. I'm going to do some Wii Fitting and take a shower. Then I'll try to force myself not to call it a day.

*sigh* Snow days.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Circle of Friends Blog Award

Wow! I'm humbly honored that Vicki Smith passed on the Circle of Friends Blog Award to me! Thanks, Vicki!

Please check out her blog. She is by turns hiLARious (as are her kids) and profound, and reading her blog is one of my semi-daily highlights.

She made choosing who to pass it on to easier, too, by listing many of the ones I read. Since I did the Lovely Blog award recently, I get to cover those I missed!

Cindy Procter-King (please note the E in Procter, that's very important)

Tracy Madison

Monica Burns

Monday, February 22, 2010

Delightful Waste of Time

This is what I've spent most of my late afternoon/evening doing.

It's quite a complex thread. At first, it just seems to be a well-supported sigh of exasperation about yet another unfounded copyright infringement lawsuit. But then you start reading the comments, and you can't stop. (Where "you," of course, = "me")

I cracked up several times, such as the Vogon part, and the bun/knish/naif part. I really got a fit of the giggles in the early 200s. That might have been all the Nazi-Internet stuff.

But there was a bit of ego rollercoastering, too. I consider myself fairly intellectual (though my interests are pretty low-brow overall), sometimes bordering on pomposity, depending on the people I'm with. While I'd never call the commenters in that thread pompous, they are FAR more intellectual than I! Even with my college degree, I felt simultaneously uneducated and stupid, and proud that while I could never talk like that, I *could* understand everything they said. Mostly.

Then there were the dissenters, a couple of whom made cogent (albeit completely inaccurate) arguments but did it drive-by, and the one game defender who just kept coming back for more.

Alas, entertainment completely canceled out my unexpected bonus work time with the kids out of the house. I shall *keek* myself now.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Post Snowpocalypse Maintenance

For those who may not have experienced three feet of snow on their roof, there are aftereffects.  The snow starts to melt, and slides, and fills the gutters, and melts and refreezes, creating ice dams.

A homeowner can ignore these, hoping the weak winter sun will melt it properly so it does no damage, but that’s dumb, because it’s still in the 20s at night, so there’s no “proper” melting possible.

So today, to prevent major roof damage, my heroic husband went up and cleared part of the roof, then emptied the front gutter (the one on the side of the house away from afternoon sun—the back of the house didn’t have ice dams).  Here’s some of what he pulled out:

And, after working for two hours on the roof (up and down the ladder, chiseling at the ice, pulling two-foot-long chunks out and tossing them), he helped Number Two finish building this:

That fort is built with probably half the ice chunks, chinked with snow like a log cabin. Pretty cool, huh?

Me? I did grocery shopping, client work, committee work, and dinner. I’m such a good little housewife. *sigh*

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Watch Kitty

I’m sitting in the dining room, working.  It’s evening, so of course there’s a lot of traffic on the street, people getting home from work, going out to dinner, etc.  Frisbee is our watch cat. She doesn’t cry for every car that goes down the street, but she does alert us when the neighbors are home, and we can tell a difference when she cries because one of us is home.

A few minutes ago, she was cryyyying and cryyyying and cryyyyyying, and even though she just (finally!) had her nails trimmed, I wondered if she’d gotten herself stuck in the screen again.  Nope.  Our neighbor was stopped right in front of our house, waiting for her husband to pull out of their driveway, and Frisbee didn’t seem too happy about the limbo—car running, person inside, no sign of them coming up to the house.

*break for chauffeur duties*

This has been a pretty quiet winter for me.  We used to have two dance classes a week, plus indoor soccer or winter training.  Number Two usually had an after school club once a week.  But they both quit dance when it interfered with soccer, and this winter Number One’s team’s age group got canceled last minute, and Number Two needed to rest her Osgood-Schlatter.

But it’s about to gear up again. Number One is on paint crew for the high school musical.  They lost more than a week due to snow and the make-up day, so they’re probably going to be stretching out their sessions. Soccer open gym starts next week, and it’s at a different school. So she’ll get home at 3:21 and need to be at open gym at 3:30, until 5:30, then go straight to paint crew, which starts at 5:30 and usually goes until well after 8. Homework and dinner will be after that. She usually goes to bed at 9ish!

Also, Number Two’s after school clubs will be coming back. It remains to be seen if she’ll do one, but if she does, it will mean picking her up in the afternoon, probably around the same time her sister will need to go to open gym.  I may just force Number One to walk between schools. They’re not far, and it certainly won’t kill her. :)

Oh, before I forget AGAIN, SciFi Chick/s is doing the Supernatural March Madness again.  I think this is the  third year, and she’s running preliminaries right now.  It’s always so hard to pick favorites!  Go check it out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

See What I Mean?

Starting Saturday or Sunday, the weather people started telling us whoa, look out, more snow coming!  They couldn’t tell us how much to expect, just that it would be “plowable.”  I heard a few places say 5-8 inches, someone else said 2-4.  Guess what we got?

Yeah, we got as close to nothing as you can get and still have snow fall from the sky.  It was supposed to snow from 2 yesterday afternoon until 7 this morning.  It started late, and stopped about 12 hours early.  I had to brush a dusting off my rear windows, but the streets were only wet.  Some were actually pretty slick this morning from refreezing, but apparently not enough for them to call a two-hour delay.

So THAT’s why I live permanently in the “wait and see” category for ANY predicted snow. :)

Okay, I promise, that’s the last I’ll talk about the weather for a good long while.

We have oil.  I’m on the second load of dishes in the dishwasher*, the house is warm, the kids can shower.**

*The boiler heats the hot water, so we didn’t run the dishwasher, and we don’t wash dishes by hand—that’s what the dishwasher is for! LOL

**Not that the kids minded not showering. They chose skipping over taking short ones.

We saw two movies last weekend.  Number One and I saw Valentine’s Day on Friday night, and it was awesome.  The theater was packed—and I mean PACKED, like I was the oldest one there! and we were wall to wall, elbow to elbow—with teenyboppers.  They were fine during the movie until Taylor Swift came on screen.  We missed more dialogue for the high-pitched screeches for her than the ones for Taylor Lautner.  What’s up with that?  But then they awwwwed for the characters outside their demographic, too, so that was heartening.

Valentine’s Day was built like Love Actually, with intertwining relationships. It was masterfully done, so that you never lost track of who was doing what and why, no story thread got short shrift, and we learned enough about every character to really care what happened to them at the end.  My two very favorite parts were surprises (though one could be figured out if you had the right perspective, and I do :) ) so I can’t mention them here.  MJ, you, especially, will like this movie, I think.

The other movie saw was The Lightning Thief, a family outing, which are rare as Number Two is outgrowing one level of movies but not quiiiiite there for the next level.  We all liked it, though it was so hard not to be annoyed at certain changes.  Some made sense for the transition from page to screen.  Some were totally unnecessary.  Like what happened in the fight with the minotaur.  But most of the casting was good (even if the gods were so melodramatic they all deserve a Razzie) and there was a lot of humor.  Definitely a fun movie, especially if you didn’t read the book. :)

This just in: Supernatural has been renewed for a sixth season!  Woo hooo!

*runs off to tell everyone*

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snowmageddon and Stuff

Geez, it's been a long time since I posted! A friend even e-mailed to see if I was okay because I hadn't posted about Supernatural. I know, it's enough to make anyone think I was sick or dead. :)

Mostly, I've been buried. We got another 18 inches of snow last Wednesday, on top of the two feet we got the Saturday before. That's not the official amount, but it's what I shoveled Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. You know what's bad about that much snow? It's not the amount on the driveway. It's the amount on the SIDE of the driveway. When you have to lift every shovelful over your head, the job becomes three times harder. My husband was sick, so the kids and I did most of it. I wanted to cry every time I tried to toss it over the bank, it stuck to the shovel, hit the top of the bank, and rolled down into the driveway behind me. But we got it done.

And I learned something. I'd pulled my car into the carport so we only had one to clean off, because I hate cleaning them off and trying to shovel around them. I find shoveling the empty driveway far easier. But that's only when we have less than a foot. So for the snow we're getting tonight (I KNOW!), we're parking in the driveway. At the bottom, because there's just no place for the snow to go down there!

The kids hardly had any school last week. Two-hour delay Monday and Friday, one full day on Tuesday, off completely Wednesday and Thursday. They were supposed to be off today, but it's a snow makeup day. They have to make up March 12, too. The way things are going, I won't be surprised if they have to extend the school year. My kids are so good about letting me work on snow days and stuff, but despite that, it cuts into my schedule. I don't get up as early, I feel guilty if I ignore them all day, they do need me for some things, and then there's the whole shoveling thing.

The snow caused another problem. Well, really, it's all my fault. We're almost out of oil! We filled the tank, a rare occurrence, in December. I'd been watching it, but it had a quick slide between half a tank and a quarter. I planned to call for delivery, but with the chaos of last week, didn't call until Thursday, payday. I wasn't surprised when she said they were behind and couldn't come until Tuesday, but I hadn't thought about it beforehand. And of COURSE the temperature then dropped to low teens every night since. We've cut back on showers, not run the dishwasher (our boiler provides the hot water as well as the heat), used the fireplace, and cut the thermostats way back, and still had to get some kerosene to get us through. Do you know how long it takes to pour five gallons? It doesn't sound like much, but man, it's heavy. :)

I have to say, I don't know how people keep their thermostats at 65 all the time. I used to do that during the day, but then the furnace ran so much in the evening, it clearly doesn't save anything. Now I keep it between 69 and 71 most of the time. That's a little lower than other people in the house would like, but we've found it endurable. But 65 is so not.

Maybe it's the configuration of my house, which is a ranch. The thermostat is at the end of the hall, near the living room. It's always comfortable on that side of the house. Number Two's bedroom is right near it, she only has one exterior wall, and she sleeps in a loft bed, so she's always fine, even now with the temp low. But Number Two is on a corner, and the master bedroom is on the north corner. When the thermostat says 65, the master bathroom is 55 degrees. Our bedroom is probably about 60. In the spring, when we've been enduring 10-degree days for five months, 60 is heaven. In the dead of winter, not so much.

Okay, moving on. Enough about the stupid weather already!

Supernatural. I admit I don't talk about it as much here anymore because of Supernatural Sisters. But last week? OMG GROSS. That definitely takes the prize for Biggest Grossfest. Ugh. I'm not going to list the ways it was gross, we all know them. Let's talk about Castiel! I love that guy so much. "They're not incontinent." "I'm here." "Nobody likes it." Misha's delivery is golden. But come on, there's no logic for him being stuck in the same clothes all the time. Let him change! :)

I thought Jared did a masterful job with the addiction, and so did Sam. I hate the clown face (wipe it off before you head to the diner, buddy!) but the way he ignored the craving and did away with Famine was awesome. Dean's utter helplessness every time he watches his brother go badass is both poignant and frustrating. Dude! Cut off the damned ring already!

I don't think any of us buy Famine's assertion that Dean's already dead inside. I know he believes it, he talked about the hole inside him when he returned from Hell. But no one cares that much about people, especially strangers, and is dead. One of the commenters (I'm too lazy to double-check who) at SPN Sis said what Dean craves is peace, so that's why Famine didn't work on him. There's no way to gorge yourself on peace, none around to feed the craving. I think that's brilliant. Though the idea of a well-fed Dean? Oh, yum.

This final six-week hiatus might kill me, especially since it coincides with the Olympics and therefore hiatus for most of my other shows.

Fringe went on an even longer hiatus, joining Glee and FlashForward for Insanely Long Breaks. I'm slightly disappointed with the way they handled the whole Peter revelation. Why didn't Olivia notice it right away? Why not Peter before the building, when she realized she was scared? Why not in the daycare center, when she was selecting the 16 things from the other world? I get why they connected it to their "date," but her reaction was a little underwhelming, too. But oh, well. It was a good cliffhanger.

The problem with waiting so long to blog is these gigantic posts. You're bored (if you're even still reading), I'm behind on my work, and it takes up a LOT of space on the page. So I'm going to stop now.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Snowpocalypse

Number Two went out a few minutes ago and measured our current accumulation. 20 inches! It's drifted higher in a few places. The weather people have updated the ranges so that where it was supposed to be 5-15 inches they're now predicting 20, and we're on that border between areas, so south of us might get 30, and we'll probably get close to that, as it's not slowing down at all.

It's kind of a bummer that it's happening, yet again, on a Saturday. I'd rather the kids go to school on the 15th (they're currently off, but it's a snow makeup day) and have had this happen yesterday, and still get my writer's meeting today! :( Oh, well, I think this is only the second time we've had to cancel in the 14 years I've been a member.

How's things in your neck of the woods?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Ranty McRanterton, and TV Comments

So the northeast is about to be blanketed with a storm system. It's pretty certain we're going to get the snow, since the system is massive and will definitely pass over us. But the predicted snowfall range is huge, from 5 to 15 inches. And there IS a precedent for the forecasters to be totally wrong. Several years ago we were supposed to get a similar dumping, and got not a flake.

That makes things tricky, I know. Here in central PA, we're on an edge whereby if the storm tracks just a few miles north or south of the prediction, it has a huge effect on how much we get. And someone half an hour south or east could get three times as much snow as we get here in my neighborhood.

So I always take a wait and see approach. I TRY not to be all superior and obnoxious about having to plan ahead. Like, a neighbor's son was supposed to have a sleepover, with activities at a nearby sports facility right around the time the storm will be ramping up. So it makes sense to play it safe and reschedule.

But what REALLY gets me in an uproar...I'm just glad this wasn't my school...A couple of local school districts—and I mean just up the road, one of them AWAY from the approaching storm—announced an early dismissal for today. Last night, before 9:00 p.m. Despite the consistent forecast that said nothing was going to start until rush hour, and the heaviest snow will be overnight. No, they had to get their kids home at 12:30. Those buses are driving around right now, in the ZERO precipitation. For what? Nothing. So they can inconvenience parents who had to scramble to make arrangements for their kids, so they can make some of those kids wait outside in the cold or be home alone because their parents never dreamed there'd be an early dismissal because NOTHING IS HAPPENING.

I've lived here 18 years, I'll never get over the idiocy obsessive overcaution.

Enough of that. Some comments on recent TV:

1. I love the way Booth looks at Brennan.

2. I hate the way our local affiliate (I guess) decided not to air Better Off Ted this week, replacing it with an hour-long Ford infomercial.

3. Some people took my comment about Lost as an indicator that the show is over. I won't tease them for not seeing the massive amounts of promotion and media attention the last season premiere has been getting over the last two months. :) They don't watch anymore, why would they pay attention? Anyway, just to clarify—no other show I've ever watched in my life makes me feel the way I feel watchingLost. Tuesday's episodes bore NO resemblance to past seasons, even the first one, but watching it was exactly like watching season 1 again. I had all these "Frogurt! Arzt! Boone! CHARLIE!" moments. I struggled to decide if the timelines were simultaneous, what-ifs, or neithers. I mourned Juliet, and totally knew Jacob was going to take over Sayid's body when he was standing over him, talking to Hurley (unless that's not what happened, then I guess I was just being led by the trickery—and I don't care!). I'm so glad the show is back.

4. Because last week was massively busy, and I went away for the weekend, and I've been super-tired this week, my DVR is filling up. As of tonight, I'll have (may not be accurate, it's off the top of my head): Jimmy Kimmel and Nightline with Darlton; Life Unexpected; Human Target; 2 Numbers; 2 Fringe; The Mentalist; Modern Family; 2 White Collar; and 2 Leverage to watch.

5. Favorite lines of the week (so far):

"You shouldn'ta done that. I was supposed to die."

"You're psycho." "Lapsed."

"It appeals to the schizophrenic in me. Both of them."

"I don't understand that reference!"

6. I loved how they did the Dollhouse finale, though not what happened to Paul. It had its shock value, of course, but *sob*. It was intriguingly awesome that Alpha was "okay." I love seeing Tudyk in a heroic role again, even so short. He's been quite the bad guy lately.

7. Supernatural. Ohhhh, Supernatural. I know what I said about Lost, but don't worry, honey, you're still my favorite. I still love you best. If I had to choose, I wouldn't even hesitate to pick you. Talk about shock value—I totally sucked all the air out of the room when Michael showed up. And there wasn't much, after Anna shoved that pipe through Sam. (Did you notice the blood coming out of the pipe as he lay on the floor? Nice touch!) I knew Mary was pregnant as soon as she opened the door. My heart broke for Sam as he watched her, and when he talked to John. Castiel is cracking my sh** up every time he's on screen, which is not enough, let me tell you. Last night was a mean tease, breaking him and hiding him in a hotel room all episode.

So that's all I have right now. I have to go finish up some work in preparation for being holed up in the house all weekend. Yes, I'm succumbing to the weight of hysteria for the coming snowpocalypse (credit to my brother for that one). But I'm showing them. I'm NOT joining the hordes descending on the grocery store. I already HAVE milk and bread. So, HA!


Tuesday, February 02, 2010