Archive | October, 2008

Finding the Warm and Cozy Places

October 21, 2008

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That would be us. It’s been FREEZING here in Upstate New York. It was 24 degrees at 7:30am Sunday morning. Brrr. The frost is crispy now. I grudgingly changed the furnace filter and turned on the furnace this weekend. UGH! That marks the final transition from summer to winter for me. I just dread turning on the blasted thing, it sends dollar bills right out the century-old, rickety windows, lol!

Even so, I only keep the house barely warm; the thermostat is stubbornly set at 60 until snow falls. All of us are huddling close together. This is our kitten’s first winter (her first everything, actually– she’s only 11 weeks old). She, like any good cat worth her weight in salt, is already scouting out the warmest places in the house. Namely, my lap as I sit at the computer, typing this.

I sit at a desk now (yay! See, my spine is so much better!) with a warm woolen poncho I use as a lap blanket. Our kitten, Olivia, is still too young to leap into my lap, but what she lacks in mature dexterity, she gains by temerity– her razor-sharp claws raking up my legs and into my lap. (See how calmly I type these words upon the keyboard; I actually get tears in my eyes when she does that, YOW). There, she cuddles into my lap, her head barely poking up from the front desk drawer. She is growing so quickly that I suspect next week she won’t fit here anymore. She squeezes up from my legs, under that drawer, with all her might. Her eyeballs look like they will pop out, but she is DETERMINED to get up here.

Here she is, just squirming through.

Livvy Under Desk 1

Made it! Ahhh.

Livvy Under Desk 2

Sleeping Beauty, waking up from her warm slumber (I shifted my position, that is).

Livvy Under Desk 3

Streeeeeeetch! Ready to take on the Friskies (again. Does this cat EVER stop eating?!).

Livvy Under Desk 4

It’s pretty obvious. I love this cat to bits. I hardly discipline her and I give her canned cat food at every heart-tugging little mew. UGH. See what old age does to you?

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Before You Call the Plumber

October 19, 2008

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I’ve had, er, have my share of plumbing woes with the house. The plumbing is mighty old, and it’s a mish-mash of chrome, copper, iron, and plastic- sometimes interchanging within inches of each other and in varying shapes and sizes! From having washclothes go down the toilets to vent stack problems, I think the plumber has become my new pal, lol.

But I saw this post at Money Saving Pro a few weeks ago.

If you are experiencing clogged, sluggish or backed up drains and/or toilets try the conventional things like liquid or granular treatments and plunging. You can go as far as, using the “snake” (if you like, but you don’t have to) whatever you do- DO NOT -call the plumber before you call your city water/sewer agency and have them come out and flush the main sewer system in your alley. This is a service that almost all cities provide 24/7 that you pay for through your tax dollars. Regardless, whether your neighbors are experiencing the same problems as you are, call the city.

*knocks head* I think we actually have the same kind of problem– the drains, especially the toilets– are achingly, achingly slow. I’ve looked and looked for a clog, but found none. I had supposed it had something to do with a vent stack (lack of one, that is) problem, but our drains became slow over time, not all at once. I think I may try taking Cy’s advice and call my town highway department. Thanks, Cy! You might have saved me $100!

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The Dragon Whisperer

October 18, 2008

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As many of you know, I work online, as a writer of articles and numerous blogs. I just love to write! I write best when I am at my desk– focused and surrounded by my computer, a good cup of coffee, and free from interruptions. However, I also have a back injury (a herniated disk) that sometimes forces me to bed rest for extended periods of time. This last time, just a few weeks ago, I was restricted to bed rest for four weeks! It’s excruciating to be stuck laying on your side in bed, unable to move much, and impossible to type at the computer.

When I was surfing blogs during that time, I came across a terrific product, Dragon Naturally Speaking. I wondered what on earth this was, something about dragons? This video explains it all.

In a nutshell, Dragon Naturally Speaking is a speech-recognition software program that is three times faster than typing, and almost 100% accurate! The video shows how it works, and I am very impressed. This is just amazing to me. It constitutes a whole new world of communication for those of us who have been hindered from sitting up to type at the computer.

Think about it– what if you typed as fast as you talked? Impossible? Think again! Check out Dragon’s typing speed test! to see how quickly you type- I’ll bet Dragon Naturally Speaking can match it! The software compared much better than my typing- I get 44 words per minute. :-p However, as a New Yorker, I probably speak 200+ words per minute, ha! Think of all the time I could save…

This is the beauty of this software program– you no longer need to type to express yourself through written word. And this software doesn’t *just* handle stuff like word documents– you can command your computer to open up email, open up your browser, search for a bookmarked site, and loads more. It’s been designed to be extremely accurate, even on windy days or for fast talkers (like me).

Dragon Naturally Speaking is a Godsend for those of us who are incapable of sitting up at the computer to type. I know of so many people who could benefit from Dragon Naturally Speaking! I’ll bet you do, too! This software is the hottest thing to hit the market; check out the rave

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For Bed-der or For Worse

October 15, 2008

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I found this video today- it’s from Germany, a type of “Candid Camera” prank that was pulled at a mattress store. Oh my, you Germans must have a great sense of humor- everyone smiles after the prank. I’d be steaming mad, lol. Watch how some folks audaciously jump onto the mattress. Surprise! 😐

Mr. M and I went mattress shopping a week ago. I’ll be posting more about what we got- we haven’t bought a new bed in about 14 years, back when we were also fitting out our second-youngest for crib bedding! Seems so long ago! I love Baby Earth designs… it’s so pretty and decorative, and much less expensive than some of the lower quality stuff I’ve bought.

Well, Mr. M got a very nice set for us (like I said, more on that later! I’m still testing it out for a review) The old bed was quite beat up, and my aching back was telling me I needed something firmer. I’m really liking our choice. And so I really chuckled when I saw this video– what perfect timing. THANKFULLY no one at our local bedding store was THAT funny. I cannot imagine jumping into a box of water, unexpectedly. Whoa!

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Wordless Wed: To Sleep like a Baby

October 15, 2008

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She’s growing so fast! She’s losing her baby fuzz, getting razor-sharp teeth (chewing on everything), and developing the long and slender Siamese physique. She can also plop down and sleep anywhere.

Livvy baby

Waking up.

Livvy sleep

She looks good in pink. 🙂

Livvy napping

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The Underground Chicken Movement

October 11, 2008

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What lies stealthily behind those innocent looking suburb and urban fences across the United States? Henhouses! With CHICKENS! It’s an illicit movement rapidly spreading across the country, ruffling the feathers of city ordinance boards.

The Worldwatch Institute reports that a growing number of US city-dwellers are raising their own chickens, often in defiance of local ordinances.

Citing unsanctioned henhouses in Denver, Boston, and other cities, Worldwatch’s Ben Block notes that an “underground ‘urban chicken’ movement has swept across the United States in recent years,” flouting authorities’ concerns about noise, odors, and public health.

But in some cities, such as Ann Arbor, Mich., Ft. Collins, Colo., South Portland, Maine, and Madison, Wisc., owners of these clandestine coops have successfully changed the laws to allow them to keep a limited number of hens. (Roosters, whose characteristic crowing can disturb neighbors, are usually more restricted, but they’re not needed for hens to lay unfertilized eggs.)

I have been trying to convince my husband that we need chickens. After all the exposure of the corrupt and dirty food factory industries and CAFOs (such as salmonella poisoning, Mad Cow disease, melamine in dairy, etc), I am ready to start raising my own poultry and limit our consumption of beef and pork. Mr. M says he doesn’t think our area is zoned for poultry. However, one neighbor of ours has a few horses, and another neighbor runs a small wildlife refuge with peacocks, geese, and a rooster.

Which reminds me: Did you know that roosters do not only crow at sunrise? Nay! I can tell you from experience that roosters crow ALL day and ALL night, and very loudly, too! But I defend the right of my neighbor to keep her chickens, I do!

Many large US cities, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Seattle apparently never thought to ban the domesticated fowl within city limits. These cities have served as an incubator of sorts for the emerging movement, in which urban henkeepers post online tips on building coops, caring for the birds, and fending off raccoons and other predators.

Zoning ordinances are for the people, not the people for zoning ordinances. If the residents want to change the city’s pecking orders, they should be allowed to do so.

I also tend to believe that the real ‘fowl’ play is coming from the state and local governments, who are not too pleased that people are strating to take their own food supply into their own hands. The food industry is BIG business.

So UP WITH CHICKENS! Chicken-keepers, unite! A chicken in every pot! For those who think we’re going back to the “trust us, the food supply is perfectly safe” schpiel, you’re cuckoo!

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Feeling Wine-y

October 10, 2008

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This post is for my husband, a wine nut. He used to work at some fancy hotels, and had the position of wine steward. He has subsequently become a bit of a wine snob (lol). He loves wine tasting events. We’re really hoping to get to a winery and see how wine is made, hopefully before winter comes. Wine season is now open and there is something so beautiful about driving down winding roads, with russet-colored trees hanging above you, the air crisp and clear, and acres of vineyards before you. We’ve been to a local brewery which was OK, but a winery is a more elegant and romantic affair.

My mother used to make dandelion wine (the worst stuff I’ve ever had, although she meant well). I’ve never tried making wine, but I hope to someday. I’m nursing a lovely little grapevine in the garden that I hope will bless me with its juices someday.

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My Lovely Livvy

October 10, 2008

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Kitten Update!

I know you have all been waiting with tuna-baited breath, dear friends!

We’ve had her for two weeks, and she has grown so much. I feel like a dottering old mother, I dote on this critter so much. I just love the kitten stage and it is with bittersweet regret that I watch it pass. She looks so mature in this photo.

Livvy Portrait

She’s a real people cat. She just hates to be alone. I had to gate her out of part of the house a few days ago, and she pleaded so pitifully on the other side. Aww, my heart almost broke.

She is losing her baby fuzz and starting to show spots of her new coat. She is looking more like a Siberian tiger than the half-Siamese that she is. See her brown and white stripes? You can also see her giant paws. She has 6 toes per paw. They make her a little clumsy.

Livvy Tiger

GOTCHA! Stunned by the flash.

Livvy GOTCHA

She has two white stripes on her back. She looks a little bit like a chipmunk. She also has a slight kink at the end of her tail. You can make it out a little in the photo. I don’t know why it’s like that– must be genetic.

Livvy Chipmunk

And for your information, it took me FOREVER to get that camera shot. Wow. I don’t know how you cat bloggers take such great photos. Everything is a blur with this baby. We just love her to bits. 🙂

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Play With That Food!

October 9, 2008

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This video is called “The Vegetable Orchestra” and shows people making and playing vegetables as musical instruments. As I watched it, and had to wonder: is this for real?! Are they really making clarinet sounds with that carrot, or has it been overdubbed? It’s a rather long video, but the most interesting part is when it shows them making the vegetables into musical instruments.

Something about it irks me, though. I think it’s because it seems wasteful. Who knows, maybe they have a vegetable pot luck dinner in their las vegas suites after the concert. I certainly hope so.

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NYRI Hearings Scheduled

October 6, 2008

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For those of you who don’t know, New York State is being targeted by foreign investors, called New York Regional Interconnect, or NYRI, who want to built a 200-mile, super high-voltage power line through the state. We have power lines all over, no big deal, right? Well, this mammoth power line is going to follow the railroad tracks, from central New York all the way down toward New York City. And the railroad tracks are in the middle of our towns, next to our homes, down our streets.

Ice Factory Rd. Clayville

We Deserve This Anyway

That’s hundreds of miles of high voltage power lines strung right over the tops of our houses and businesses, those houses and businesses that aren’t taken away from us by the government, that is. There’s a lot of lobbying and political gaming going on. The power line company is slowing chugging toward having their way. We residents have put up a lot of legal barriers filled with red tape, but the process is moving forward. Consider this a hurricane-type disaster. These politicians and investors are looking to wipe out our properties so they can develop on them. Good Lord, the battle never ends, does it?

Its Pretty But Not As Pretty As Powerlines

This House is Ugly Anyway, Right

So there’s another meeting coming up, to continue fighting this thing. It’s really terrible that this can happen, that we have so little property rights anymore. It’s even more disgusting that our property taxes keep going up.

Oh, and the power line company wants US residents (who are left) to pay for the maintenance of the lines that run over our houses, too. Oh, AND they have demanded that New York State subsidize their business by having the state guarantee the company a 13.5% profit. How the heck can government guaranteeing a profit for a business be legal is beyond me!

See here for the schedule about the meetings. This must be stopped.

See my post last year about the Worst Trip of My Life for more details and photos of some affected areas.

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