Sunday, November 28, 2010

Because I Couldn't Resist

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

More Bits and Pieces

First, let me say that not one of these pictures is mine.
I'll to the 'why' on that in a minute.

This weekend is busy for me---in a very good way.

No, I'm not traveling to Michigan.
Our niece, Livvy, is traveling to see us for Thanksgiving.
We haven't seen her in who knows how long. I think G'pa knows how long.
I digress.
She is getting here on Sunday evening and staying until Thanksgiving day.
"She's leaving on Thanksgiving day?", you ask.
Yes. She's not a seasoned flyer, and we figured leaving on a day that wasn't quite so hectic would be beneficial for her. We'll be celebrating our Thanksgiving on Wednesday instead.
More on this subject next week.

Who knows what this is?
Looks like some sort of fancy CD player to me---or at least the inside of one.
I'm wrong.
It's a hard drive.
The Apple people tell me that not only does my computer need a new video card, it needs a new hard drive as well.
((Deep Sigh)).
At this typing, I don't know what we're going to do. We may just go get it with it's new video card and see how it does without a new HD.
This is why none of these pictures are mine. My pictures are all on my Apple.
((Deep Sigh))

If you don't know who these three kids are, then you should.
We've watched them grow from mere 11 year olds to now fighting for the safety of the entire world. Harry Potter and his buddies have captured the hearts and minds of a generation of children (and their parents).
Honestly, I'm sad that it's almost over.
The movies, for the most part, have been very well done and follow the books quite well.
I will hopefully be seeing this movie in the next week or so.
Pearl is attending a Harry Potter Party (say that 3 times, fast!) today. All the food is based on food in the books. Then they'll all attend the movie together. I wish I could go!

Lastly, it is the weekend of our annual Thanksgiving dinner for the men and women who attend our breakfast program at church. Homeless or not, we serve anyone who attends.
This year will be far different than the 18 previous ones.
Our church is undergoing some renovations and it is unsafe for the attendees to come into the building.
We will be serving a "to-go" dinner of Ham, Sweet Potatoes, Stuffing, Green Beans, Pumpkin Pie and a bottle of juice.
Unfortunately, our breakfast program will have to be on hiatus until construction is finished in late April.

And so, I better get in the game for my upcoming weekend and get off the computer.
I hope you all have a great weekend.
What will you be doing?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

iMac Attack

I cried when Lee bought me an iMac.
Well, I didn't really cry until I turned it on and tried to use it.
It is nothing like a PC, except that it magically brings in and sends out information.
Lee will tell you it's not magic, but he's a computer magician.
Computer magicians never share trade secrets except with other magicians.

At the time, there were no 'how-to' books available to go along with the purchase of a Mac.
Apple offered all sorts of classes and private sessions in order to teach you how to use the product.
I just wanted to use the darn thing, I didn't want to have to go to school to learn how to use it.
I muddled through and taught myself how to do the things I wanted to do with it.
I'm quite certain that I'm only using about 10% of the capabilities of my Mac.
My kids know how to use the other 90% and they are always teaching me new things.

A year ago last September, my Mac freaked out.
It needed a new something or other. A major something or other.
Since it was still under warranty, Apple picked up the tab.

In late October of this year, the monitor screen started having fits. Pixels of green and gray would show up in the middle of the screen.
Then it would take over the whole screen.
If we turned it off and on a few times, we could get it to run right again.....
for a few days.
Early last week, it wigged out for good.
Lee, who doesn't really like the Mac because he can't work his magic on it, was talking about replacing it with a PC.

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth of teeth on my part, he relented and said I could take it in to have it looked at.
Yesterday, I left my beloved Mac at the Apple store.
They gave me an early diagnosis of, "Sounds like you need a new video card."
They'll call me if they find anything worse.

Until then, I'm on the ancient PC.
It works just fine and I'm remembering how to use it.
I still want my Mac back.

Apple, are you done yet? I miss my machine.
Call me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Ate My Chicken?

There is no picture here, because all my pictures are on my other computer.
My other computer is having a breakdown of some sort.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
Today it doesn't.
It didn't yesterday either.
It may be ready for the bench or retirement or at least a visit with a "Genius" at the Apple store.
Yes, they call their techs, "Genius".

What does all this have to do with the title?
Nothing at all, except I can't post a photo of a lovely Buff Orpington chicken that is no longer a part of my flock.
She is a part of some animal's digestive system.

I came home from a weekend away and went to check in with the chickens.
Since they were out free ranging, I wasn't alarmed that one of them seemed to be missing.
I went to the coop to see if she might be on the nest.

A pile of feathers between me and the chicken coop caught my eye.
Just feathers.
Another pile, a ways off.
Then another pile in the tall pasture grass.
Finally, a very large pile of feathers.
Not one single, solitary bit of chicken.

Just feathers.
Oh, and the darned critter left me a 'calling card' right there among the last batch of feathers, where the eating had gone on.

My question:
What predator am I up against?

Here's a list of suspects.
Keep in mind that this happened in the late evening or possibly overnight.

Coyote--although they usually tote their dinner off from the catch sight. They also eat feathers.
Opossum---I've never known of them to eat an entire chicken.
Raccoon---My prime suspect.
Skunk--Not sure if they, with their small jaws, eat an entire chicken.
Grey Fox--possible, but they are much smaller than a Red fox. They only reach 7-12 lbs.
Great Horned Owl--They do de-feather their bird prey, but there wasn't a tree in sight and they prefer not to eat on the ground.
Feral Cat--we have a small feral cat that has been in the neighborhood for at least a year. He only weighs about 8 lbs.

Now for "too much information".
The scat that the animal left behind was about the size of a medium dog and was full of berry seeds, and a small amount of animal fur. The fur could have been from grooming itself, or from a small mammal.

So, I'm asking all you chicken folks out there--what do you think it was that ate my chicken?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kitty Litter Lotto

Two things you need to know before reading this story.
1. I'm very sensitive to scents/smells.
2. I've never owned an indoor-only cat.
When Hobbes joined our family, we knew it might be a year before he was able to venture outside without a chaperone. We are even debating whether to ever let him out without a human by his side.
Why? Because a coyote was finally wily enough last February to catch our beloved cat of 10 years. Just opening the story to provide a link made my stomach ball up and my heart lurch.

So why the discussion? Cats the world over are indoor-only cats. Hobbes will be just fine as an indoor only cat----except for one thing. The litter box! The litter box is making me crazy.
With Lucky, we never had a litter box. He went outside to do his business. We had a box in the house that he only used when we were out of town or during torrential downpours.

Here's where I'm at.
Obviously, we don't want the house to smell like cat potty. We've all seen commercials about it and we all know at least one person who has an apartment/house that smells like cats. These people must not be using the right kitty litter, right???

On the flip side, to combat the odors that come from kitties, the litter people have added all multitude of perfumes to cover up said odors. If you look back up to the top, you'll see that this is a problem for me in bullet #1.

I don't want any scent or odor of any kind? Is that possible? If you'll look at #2, you'll notice I've never done this before.

Are these my only options?
A. Have the house smell like kitty potty?
B. Have my house smell like litter perfume?
C. Have my house smell like both A. and B. ?

Here are the litters I've tried. If you have something different that you are using and have a house that smells like......a house. PLEASE share your litter choice with me!

I'm guessing this really means, "More perfume"?

Who is breathing easier, the cat or me? It's 99% dust free but it's also non-clumping. Problem.

These folks add baking soda to their mix. They also add "Fresh Scent".
Same stuff, only it's "Unscented". No it's not--the liars! Unscented stuff is never really unscented, it just doesn't have any added perfumes.

Immediate odor control. Immediate mix of kitty potty and litter perfume. Ewwww.

Destroys odors instantly as opposed to immediately. Still with the "Fresh Scent"

"Instant action". Poor kitty, it must be like when humans use those automatic flush potties at the airport that flush before you're done. Scary.

Feline Pine OriginalYesterday's News Original Formula Bag
These are both good ideas, but they are pellets instead of litter. These have no odor control really. No clumping, either. That means the litter box is a mess. Very difficult to clean every day.

This is just about where I am. I'm about to go dig up some dirt and put it in the litter box. It has very little odor and can be dumped when the box needs cleaning.
Litter makers, are you listening? How about bagging up some dirt and putting a sweet kitten on the outside of the package. You could call it "Dirt Cheap".

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hobbes Visits the Factory

He's not too sure what to think of his co-workers.
I believe he thought he was better than them---looking down on their factory floor from his cozy window office.
He knows they don't enjoy the benefits package that he does.
It wasn't until he met them in person that he realized they are just animals like he is. They are friendly and diligent workers as well.
It also wasn't until he met them, that he realized they could beat the tar out of him and he'd better stop looking down his nose at them.

photo by Pearl

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pork Verde' over Rice

A primer for all my friends that are not necessarily Mexican food aficionados.
Verde means green in Spanish. This soup is green.
Green in a good way.
Green in a warm-you-to-the soul way.

This soup has tomatillos in the ingredient list.
"What the heck is a tomatillo, they look like a green tomato?" you inquire.
Well, they are scientifically in the tomato family, but are more closely related to the gooseberry. Just waaay bigger than a gooseberry.

Stay with me. I promise you'll be glad you did.
Canned tomatillos are found in the mexican food section of your grocery store. Probably on the bottom shelf.

Ingredients are as follows:
1 large soup pot
2 lbs boneless country style pork ribs
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 large yellow onion
8 cloves garlic (yes, 8 cloves)
2 28oz. cans tomatillos--drained
2 seeded/chopped fresh jalapenos
8 cups chicken broth
Monterey seasoning to taste
Extra light Olive oil for browning

Cut, season with Montreal seasoning, and brown the pork. Set aside.

Slice onions, garlic and jalapenos.
Brown all three on low heat in pan used to brown the pork.

While the veggies are cooking, place both cans of drained tomatillos and cilantro in a food processor or blender.

Blend until it looks like this.

Add the tomatillo mixture to the onion/garlic mixture.
Add chicken broth and return meat to the pan.

At this point you can simmer on the stove top for a couple hours or dump it in your crock pot on low for several hours.
We serve it over rice at our house.

Questions I've been asked:

Is this a spicy dish?
No, but I'm a southern girl. I used small jalapenos and they were mild. You can obviously use less or none at all---but don't. The little bit of heat is what makes it fun and warms you up on cold winter evenings.

Do I have to use cilantro? I really don't care for it.
Yes. It adds a layer of flavor without being the first thing you taste when you put it in your mouth. You won't know it's in there, but you'll miss it if you don't use it. Trust me.

Can I use another cut of pork? We're watching our saturated fat content.
Good for you. I originally made this dish with a leftover piece of pork loin. Very dry meat.
If you go this route, don't put the meat into the soup until just before serving. Refrigerate the meat until you are ready to use it and be sure to heat it all the way through. I'm a 'proper food temperature nazi' in the kitchen.

How do you pronounce 'tomatillos'?
Toe Ma Tea Yos

What if I can't find tomatillos?
Look again. I'm serious.
If you find the grocery manager and they are positive they don't carry tomatillos, put your house on the market and move south. At the very least, call another grocery store to see if they carry them. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Better Call a Rescue Group

Hobbes and Smokie are being mistreated.
Their only hope for a better life is a new home.
One that doesn't have toys and warm, comfy places to nap.
One where the owner of the pets doesn't go outside and specifically pull grass heads off an ornamental plant for Hobbes to play with.

One that doesn't come with it's own heated mattress that also simulates the up and down motion of the ocean.

One that doesn't come with a pillow and a blanket in a warm office on a leather couch.

So who's going to call? I can't do it. I'd be incriminating myself.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

30 Things

A blogger friend, Katie, has been to hell and back this year. She spent February in the ICU fighting for her life. Meningococcal septicemia almost won. It redefined how she looks at herself and the world around her.
Today on her blog she listed
"30 Things I Love About Myself".
Brave woman.

I'm going to give it a shot today. Thank you, Katie, for helping me outside my comfort zone. It's important that we all do it once in a while.

Most days, I'd be hard pressed to list things I even 'like' about myself.
I think it's a woman thing.
We aren't supposed to pat ourselves on the back.
We aren't trained to say, "Thank You" when someone compliments us.
We are trained to say,
"Aw, this old thing, I've had it for years".
"Really, you think so? I was thinking it makes my backside look big."
"You have to say that because we're married."
"Really? I think it has waaay too much salt in it."

And so, feeling much like this fawn did when I took his picture, I will list 30 things I love about myself.

If you are feeling brave, please list a thing or two about yourself that you love.

Thirty Things I Love About Myself

1. Friends can count on me.
2. I almost always make dinner for the family.
3. I have thick, happy hair.
4. I know a little bit about a lot of things.
5. I'm frugal.
6. I will turn the car around to rescue a turtle in the road.
7. If I'm wrong, I will apologize.
8. I have learned to say 'No, I'm sorry I can't ...."
9. I have great skin.
10. I am accepting of all people.
11. I conquered my fear of flying.
12. I'm not afraid of physical work.
13. I try to make our home a refuge from work and school.
14. I make pie crust and biscuits from scratch.
15. I am brave to have an animal put down when it's time.
16. I would do #15 for a friend, if they couldn't.
17. I try to give folks a 'story' (excuse) if they are rude to me.
18. I don't think I'm any better than anyone else.
19. I sing in the car. Loudly.
20. I make up silly songs about the people I love.
21. I would drive all the way to DDs house to move a dead animal if she asked me to.
22. I will take care of any neighbor's animals for free. Even horses, which I'm allergic to.
23. I love nature/outdoors.
24. I believe in God.
25. I believe that God doesn't have to be found in church or religion.
26. I talk to my animals.
27. I am raising good kids.
28. I can take pretty good pictures.
29. I am working on understanding what my kids mean and not just what they say.
30. I take a nap without feeling guilty.

How about you? Anything you love about yourself?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bits and Pieces

My beautiful bumblebee, Pearl and her buddies for halloween.

James as 2d, from the Gorillaz. A musical group that uses cartoon characters for all their videos.

Remember momma raccoon and her four babies? I saw hide nor hair of them all summer. Last Saturday, I saw all four babies crossing the road at the corner of my property. They were cute little, balls of 6 month old furr. They were also looking for dinner. What this means is, momma, poppa, and four babies living in the immediate vicinity of my chicken coop. Not normally a problem, but there is the odd night where the coop is either not locked up at all, or not locked up until very late.
Raccoons + chickens = dead chickens.

Hobbes has declared that we may never go on vacation again. He is a lap kitty that needs people. He had about 24 hours of limited human contact when we went to San Francisco. If it hadn't been for our neighbors, he would have had none for those 24 hours. Then Tom came home from college and rescued him by staying at the house. To punish me for leaving him, he gave me a big chomp on the arm. He got in trouble for it. Then we kissed and made up.

My iMac has been having nervous breakdowns. It is my primary computer. Blogging becomes nearly impossible when it has a fit. I can use our ancient PC, but I don't have any access to pictures on it. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the Mac has moments of clarity (like now). That means it isn't a priority to get fixed, because it's only down sometimes. One of the kids took this picture to show me what it's doing when it flips out. I have yet to witness it. If you are a Mac person and recognize this color combo (gray and green), followed by a completely white screen, let me know.