Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Bunday: Still Life

Still Life: Messy Rabbit with Walnut

Saturday, December 27, 2008

After Christmas

Not much going on around here, except for Cadbury playing with messy toys!

I got some things for Christmas that I had been wanting--new running shoes, a new spin video, and a breadmaker. The breadmaker is one I had selected after reading reviews on them. It's the Breadman TR875. It's a little pricey, but I've been wanting to do more with bread and this will eliminate all the tedious hand mixing. I really can't stand commercial bread (it tastes sour and chemically to me) and since I can buy five pounds of flour for the price of a single loaf of bread, it's crazy not to make my own. I'll be trying it out tomorrow or sometime during the upcoming week.

Christmas with my family went okay. It was a little fraught at times, but Dan and I got in and out in about four hours, which is pretty good, and we managed to avoid getting sucked into watching TV and movies. I don't know why my family is so screwed up, but they seem to think I want to get dressed up and drive all the way across town a video. Uh, no. If we're not going to talk to each other, listen to each other, and foster connections, I'm going home, thanks. I can watch a movie anywhere.

I did a 2.5 hour spin on Christmas day and still felt some lingering heaviness in my legs when I ran this morning. I only did fifteen miles, which should've been easy, but my body is long out of the habit of brick (bike-run) training and I suffered a fair bit for that Thursday workout. I'll probably compound the insult by trying out my new spin video tomorrow. Go for broke, right?

I have no big plans for this week, except to catch up on some sewing projects and housework. I finished the draft for my novel, so I don't even have a big writing project going on, just edits. It's a pretty clean draft and I expect to have it ready for beta readers pretty quickly. I have ideas for other writing projects, but I may do some short stories for a little while, just to give myself a break.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to a quiet week without a lot of time demands. Sometimes I feel over-scheduled in my life because planning ahead and sticking to the plan is the only way I can accomplish the things I want to do. A week of unstructured days will either spoil me or result in not much getting done at all.

We'll see how this plays out and hope for the best.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from Cadbury

The holiday season is for spending time with friends.

And for tolerating small indignities so people can take pictures to show the world your holiday spirit.

However you're celebrating the season, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Bunday: Mousepad Mystery

We had a little mystery this week here in the Cadbury household. We received a mousepad with a very attractive rabbit on it but the giver was unknown. Much speculation ensued.

Just when I was thinking I'd have to put the question to the bunny blogosphere, the sender of the gift revealed herself. It was our dear friend Thomma!

Thanks, Thomma! Merry Christmas to you, the hubby, and the ballicai (cats)!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Congratulations to My Husband!

The big news around here is that Dan finally graduated with his bachelor’s degree!

He went back to school twelve years ago but was never very good at carrying a lot of courses and working full time, so it took him forever. For the last several years, he’s been just taking one class per semester, which at least had the advantage of being cheap since it was always fully covered by the university’s staff scholarship, which pays $1,500 per semester to any benefits-eligible staff member taking a class. So he graduates much later than I did, but with a considerably smaller debt load.

Those who believe in a life script with strict age-delimited timelines for doing certain things will of course say he should’ve gotten his degree decades ago. We don’t think much about scripts around here, though. Dan’s background is the kind from which young people, especially young men, are actively discouraged from seeking higher education. For an inner-city barrio boy who has roped cows from horseback in the mountains of New Mexico, lived at an ashram chanting and eating chapattis, and roadied for punk bands, to become a technology professional with a bachelor’s degree was the ultimate act of rebellion.

And now he’s talking grad school. I say take a little time off first and make sure you really want to make that kind of commitment. Ultimately, of course, it’s his road, his decision. He has one of the qualities I most admire when I find it in others—an openness to new ideas and the courage to reinvent himself when he finds the road he’s on has grown too dull or too narrow to hold him.

Congratulations, Dan!

Saturday Check-In

In spite of my best efforts, I managed to come down with a cold this week, missing out on the snowflake-making at work on Wednesday and not enjoying the Thursday party very much. But it was not a total loss. I spent almost all of Wednesday in bed and went home early Thursday because I still wasn’t one hundred percent. As a result, I got over this bug pretty fast and it didn’t move into my chest and team up with my asthma to give me a case of bronchitis, which is always my big concern when I get sick.

I was well enough today to go for a run, although I kept it short by my standards, only 12.5 miles. I had a hankering to run at Memorial Park, so I went there, with a detour to my bank and back. It would’ve been a solid run except for a persistent cramp in my right hip that had been there since I was sick earlier this week. I think it was caused by all that inactivity!

Two more workdays and I’m off until the January 2nd! Already I’ve got three weeks’ worth of projects for a week and a half of vacation! Yay, me?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday Workplace Silliness

We painted Christmas ornaments today. I could've done without my co-workers singing along with the Christmas music, but you can't have everything.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday Work Silliness

I work with a very silly group of people. In addition to playing Secret Santa all week and having a Christmas party on Thursday, we're having various crafts and contests all week. Monday was "Build a Snowman" day, and here is my creation:

Materials: cotton balls, pipe cleaners, foam backing.

Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten...

Monday Bunday: Hide and Seek

Where is Cadbury? I know he's here somewhere. Oh, Cadbury...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Random Saturday

I went for a nice long run this morning, doing the same route as last weekend. I liked it better this time, so perhaps it was just my own mental state last week that made it seem tedious. It was warmer out than I expected it to be, so I actually had to come home after my warmup loop around campus and change into shorts.

Dan has a cold and I’m hoping he doesn’t pass it to me since I’ve got a lot of meetings this coming week as I try to wrap up some stale projects before the holiday break. Dan’s voice was hoarse last night but today he’s just drippy and is running a slight fever. I’m tagging behind him swiping things with alcohol and feeling glad that at least I don’t have a marathon coming up four weeks from now. Usually I’m paranoid about catching anything this time of year, lest it settle in my chest and turn into bronchitis. I still don’t want that of course, but I’m not out $100 or more in race fees if it happens.

My father is flying in tomorrow from New Mexico and will stay through January 4. I had hoped that now he’s retired he would stay through my birthday, but no luck. The family rumor mill has it that he’s already bored after retiring last summer and he’s going to start doing contract work for his previous employer, the New Mexico State School for the Deaf. Like me, he has to stay busy, and there aren’t a lot of things to do in rural New Mexico unless you want to raise goats and chickens and lay in a crop of beans and chiles. He grew up in the country and is very “been there, done that” on the farm thing, so I have a feeling paid employment of some kind is on the horizon, even though he doesn’t need the money.

Not much else happening around here. Last night I bought gifts for a co-worker in the Secret Santa exchange we’re doing at the office next week and I stumbled across some gluten-free chocolate-dipped cookies that I’ll give to my boss. That about wraps things up for my holiday shopping. I need to put all the gifts in one place and double-check, but I think everyone on my list who’s celebrating something in the next few weeks has been bought for, most of them months ago.

Cadbury just joined me in the computer chair. He wants to know when Santa is coming. Well, little bunny, have you been good?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snuggle Time

What's black and white and snuggly all over? Me and Cadbury, staying warm together!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


We're getting snow--actual big snowflakes! It only happens once or twice a decade, so it's a happy occasion. The ground is too warm for any of it to stick. Temps were in the 70s yesterday. But it's fun to stand on the porch and watch the flakes come down, swirling under the streetlights.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monday Bunday: Chair Wars Continue

What do you mean it's your chair?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Saturday Check-In

I tried a new running route today, through the medical center and museum district, then a loop around Rice University before heading back home. I don't know if it was the cold weather or what, but I found the new route a bit tedious. It had no repeats, though, so I might try it again. I'm always looking for new routes that don't involve driving someplace first.

In bunny news, Cadbury has decided he is a cat. He digs in his litterboxes and flings litter everywhere. It's paper litter and easy to clean up, but it's still annoying.

I have a new recipe to try tomorrow: roasted root vegetables. Central Market's deli has a good version of this, but for a price that's comical in comparison to the price of the vegetables themselves. I'm going to add yellow potatoes and sweet potatoes to my version, so we'll see how this goes. And yes, I actually bought a rutabega. I'm a sick puppy.

I may also try to make this spiced nuts recipe before the holidays. It sounds similar to a recipe I've tasted before and I love the simplicity of using a crock pot.

I guess I better go clean up the bunny litter now. Maybe I'll get a mirror and the cat and try to explain a few things to Cadbury. He is so not a cat, even though he just jumped into my lap, expecting me to pet him.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Racing and Me

I interrupt my usual bunny blogging and thoughts about cooking and dull personal topics for a little of what this blog used to be about: endurance sports.

I'm not doing the Houston Marathon this year. The main reason is that it filled up so much earlier than any previous year. I like to wait until I'm back from my summer vacation and have assessed my health and finances before committing. But even though I went to register at an early-for-me date in July, the marathon was already full. Unprecedented.

But in a way I was relieved. The last couple years I've gone out there wondering why I'm doing it, other than habit and orneriness, which aren't good reasons for running 26.2 miles.

In fact, I race very little these days. In my first few years of running, I tried to do all the important local races, especially the marathon warmup series, but then I lost interest, not for the running but for paying money and showing up at a specific place at a designated time to do what I would've done anyway on my own schedule.

The blog owner at Studies in Clydeology summed up my problem in an email to me: The nice thing about a metro area with a good race venue is there are a lot of races. The bad thing is that there are a lot of races but all on the same venue or two.

That's exactly it. All the big Houston races are run on basically the same routes, which are also part of my regular training routes. When I'm on vacation, I'm disappointed if I can't find a race wherever I'm at, because running is a fun way to check out the local scenery. But at home I avoid racing. The idea of paying good money to trot the standard course seems silly.

Having said that, I'm pondering the following two marathons that are close enough to not require major time on the road, but not so close that the venues are in any way familiar:

I might do one, both, or neither, and I hope they don't fill up before I decide. In the past, I've always worked in a job that made me feel like a slacker for taking any time off at all, for any reason. But in my current job, I often feel like the only one not taking personal time each month. This far ahead, there's no reason I couldn't request the Monday after either of these races as a personal day to rest and regroup. And now that I have a little experience driving Dan's Jeep (the newer and more reliable of our two vehicles), transportation isn't a problem for me, either.

I need to do a little more thinking on these two races, and do some research on what others have thought of them. I seem to recall having read positive things, and if I can get the time off from work to make up for time lost from my usual weekend activities around the house, these races might be just what I need to spark things up a bit.

I'm a little sad not to be doing the Houston Marathon this year because it's been such a big part of my life for the last eight years, whether I ran it or ended up having to bow out due to injury or illness. I may skip the expo this year too, as much as I like checking out the new gear and helping myself to the freebies. But I should be taking advantage of the opportunities I have with my new, more relaxed job and start thinking of race venues further afield. I'm lucky to work at a place that pushes work/life balance and there's a lot more to the local running scene than what goes on in and around downtown Houston.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Bit of Sad News

In the early '90s, I dated a guy who had a really neat group of friends. They were musicians, artists, readers and philosophers, and we used to gather at each others' homes to discuss the books and topics of the day over merlot and zinfandel. There were parties and outings for Vietamese food. There were gatherings at bars big and small when the guitarist in our clique had a show. We discussed the affairs of the world over drinks at the pub, and there was even a wedding--the coolest, hippest one I ever attended.

A few years after I broke up with the guy and lost my honorary membership in this eclectic group, I went back to school and took a restaurant job at a nicely upscale place so I could schedule my work around my classes. One of our bar regulars was an acquaintance from the old gang, philosophy professsor Leslie Marenchin. He would sit at the bar nursing a single glass of wine and when I had a few spare minutes I would chat with him about the state of the world and the nature of humanity. Or just the weather. It never mattered with him. He was a gentle soul who was always happy to see a friend, even if there was really nothing to say.

Today I found out he died over the weekend in a fall at his home. He was only 54. Apparently he fell down a flight of stairs and hit his head on a tile floor. Friends coming for a book club meeting found him.

I didn't know Leslie well, but he was always kind to me, even in my harum-scarum days when I probably didn't deserve it. I'm saddened that he won't be around any more to share his thoughtful intelligence with friends and students, and that such a silly, pointless accident claimed his life.

Be careful out there, friends.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mid-Week Update

It's been a quiet week at the office so far. I finished a report that was taking up a lot of my time, and now I'm working through the backlog. Fun times, since I have to dig through my notes and emails to figure out what the heck is going on. I'm always relieved when, like this afternoon, I discover that I'm still waiting on data from someone else. I can follow up with them and feel good that my being sidetracked isn't the only reason something didn't get done.

I went for a run around campus this morning, hating the cold but feeling pretty darn good for having run 19 miles on Saturday and done a two-hour spin on Sunday. I'm bored with dark, early morning university runs, though. Unfortunately I don't have much choice, since the alternative is dark, evening university runs. I sometimes wonder if I should talk to my boss about changing my hours. I worked 7:00 - 4:00 at my last job, but in this one it seems a lot more things come up late in the day, so I suspect I wouldn't often get to leave at 4:00 even if that was my schedule. More early runs in the cold are in my future, I think.

On Sunday, I tried this crockpot yogurt recipe. I have a regular yogurt method with steel pan, candy thermometer, sterilized jars and all that, but I was intrigued by the idea of using something as simple as a crockpot. The yogurt took a longer time to set than I expected and I had to strain it to get it as thick as I like, but it turned out fine. Highly recommended, especially if, like me, you find yourself with free milk coupons and no regular use for milk. I also made rice pudding on Sunday, no recipe, just rice, milk, raisins, and some vanilla Better Than Milk soy powder to add flavor, sweetness, and a bit of thickness. I baked the whole concoction on 350 for about 15 minutes with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. Very tasty, especially heated up.

That's about all the excitement around here. I expect to hit 70,000 words on my WIP tonight, and I'd like to finish the draft by the holiday break. It's a fun story and I look forward to being done so I can start sharing about it.

Gotta go now. I've got a bunny in my lap.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday Bunday: Disapproval

What do you mean Thanksgiving is over and it's time to go back to work?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Thanksgiving Holiday So Far

My four-day weekend is nearly over, and of course I haven’t done most of what I planned to do.

Thanksgiving was nicely low-key. I got up late, went for a run, then did a little writing over coffee. Dan and I bought most of our food on Tuesday night from Central Market’s deli, so other than cooking the sweet potatoes, dinner was a simple matter of heating things up. It’s not that we’re too lazy to cook a turkey dinner—it’s just that with only two of us, it would only lead to waste. The few leftovers we have from our deli meal will go into recipes for this week. Turkey should go just fine with chickpeas and curry, right?

I ran a few errands on Friday, enjoying the light traffic and lack of long lines at the post office and grocery store. Everyone was either sleeping off their turkey dinner or fighting each other for bargains at Wal-Mart, and good riddance to them. I also dropped off some magazines at Half-Price Books and donated a bag of paperbacks at the new paperback drop-off at Central Market. The books go to the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s patient library, which is cool.

Today I did a long run under overcast skies that threatened rain but thankfully never delivered. I saw some old friends out for a run by the zoo, I saw early tailgaters at the Rice University stadium (what were they grilling at 8:00 am?), and I observed that Rice has two types of squirrels: the ordinary red kind, and a gray kind with light almost-white fur on the backs of their ears. I ran the Buffalo Bayou trails for the first time since the hurricane and noticed there’s still a lot of silt covering the trails at their low points. And I noticed that there are a lot of new trees (magnolia, oak and pine) being planted along the bayou near my house. These aren’t replacement trees from hurricane damage because they’re in places where there weren’t trees before. I figure it’s part of the entire revitalization project they’ve had going on for the last couple of years along that bayou, re-doing the trails and things like that.

After lunch today, Dan and I went to 10,000 Villages to get a birthday gift for one of his sisters. We got her one of these boxes and some bracelets and other little things to put inside. The store is just a block away from where we go for Indian food in the Rice Village and it's a neat little place to go for reasonably priced gifts that you know won't be what everyone else is giving.

That’s about all the news from around here. I can’t believe I have only one more day off, and it’s pretty well spoken for, since Sunday is for cooking. Oh well. I’ve enjoyed my little break, I’ve gotten some writing done, and Cadbury has enjoyed the extra time hanging out in the chair with me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

The food is great, but it's friends like you that are our real cause for celebration. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Unpleasant Surprise

Tonight there was a ginormous, 2" long roach in the bathtub. It was dead, probably thanks to the cat, but that wasn't the point. I'm a tough gal in a lot of ways, but those creatures creep me out. If I were single, I would've contemplated taking showers at the gym as a better option than having to remove said carapace.

But I'm a married woman.

Thanks, Dan. This is why I love you.

Monday Bunday: Sleepyhead

To sleep, perchance to dream...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Run: Yard Sales and More

I wasn’t looking forward to this morning’s run. It was going to be cold and I was worried I’d set off my lungs like I did two weeks ago and end up on reduced workouts just in time for Thanksgiving. That would’ve sucked. But I had to go to the bank, which is the sort of errand I like to combine with a long Saturday morning run, so I did a craigslist search for yard sales to visit along the way and plotted a route.

It ended up being a very nice run. The day was sunny and there weren’t a lot of other runners out, which was nice. I’m always glad to see people exercising, but when the trails are full of people who don’t understand basic concepts like “keep to the right,” it gets annoying. My route included Hermann Park and Rice University, then I hit three different sales and did well at one. I paid for some items, gave them my business card, and made arrangements for pickup later, then went to the bank and deposited a check. And then I went home, pleased that I had enjoyed a fun run, after all.

This past week was pretty busy at the office. I’ve been drawn into a lot of special projects and reports, which I like, but my equity analysis and job create duties don’t go away just because I’m working on committee reports. I’ve got two training sessions on Monday, but I expect to be able to start getting caught up on Tuesday and Wednesday. A lot of people at the university take extra time off around Thanksgiving and other holidays, but I don't because I treasure having a few days where no one gives me extra work and I can get ahead of the game.

Dan and I have no family plans for Thanksgiving this year and we’re pretty excited about that. We had such a relaxing time last year having our own turkey dinner and visiting with each other, instead of making the rounds of local relatives with their worldviews so different from ours and their TVs that are never shut off. Dan and I often feel like strangers with our families, so it’s nice to not have to run that gauntlet and hang out with each other and our furry critters instead.

I also want to do some work on the studio, set up the sewing machine (manual arrived today, so I can figure out how to thread the damn thing) and do some work on some of my alteration projects. I also need to do some cleaning and reorganizing in the house, and maybe Dan and I can put up our Christmas lights. And I hope to get a lot of writing done, too.

Relaxing four-day weekend? Sure. It’ll be gone before I know it and then I'll be in need of a vacation.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Bunday: Lord of All He Surveys

Someone looks very regal posing in "his" chair...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Quick Link and True Story

Just a quick note that I've got a true story from one of my vacations posted over on my writing blog as my contribution to this weekend's Sunday Scribblings. It's one of those "odd coincidence" stories of the sort that make you think no way can the universe be random because what are the odds of something like this happening?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Bargain-Hunting

I didn't run today. I did a three-hour spin instead, but I still feel like I cheated. I know it was the right thing to do, but that doesn't mean I like it. I spent all last week fighting borderline bronchitis symptoms and I'm still not 100%. I can exercise, but I knew this morning's temps in the low 40s and strong winds blowing dust around would lead to a setback and another week of reduced workouts and general grumpiness. Spinning this morning in my studio was the right thing to do, but I felt like a slacker. I second-guess myself at times like this, trying to determine if I've really got an excuse or if I'm just looking for one.

Today was a great day for cheap finds! On our way to lunch, Dan and I came across an estate sale. It was pretty picked over, but Dan got a floor lamp for $10 that he will take to his office, and I got a red glass plate for $5 and found some antique books and two first-edition WWII accounts for $1 apiece. My favorite find was a 1929 Spanish book. It's an informational book about Mexico, written in Spanish for students of the language. I also picked up some second edition Zane Gray novels (at $1 apiece) in good condition that I'll give to my mom for Christmas.

Then after lunch I heard back from a woman I had contacted via Craigslist, who had a sewing machine for sale. I went and picked it up-- a Singer FM-17 Fashion Mate, clean, in good running order, for $25. Tonight I got online and found a manual for it so I'll know how to thread the darn thing. I learned how to use a sewing machine when I was a kid, but I've never had one of my own, so this is exciting for me. I have a lot of projects that never get finished because of the tedium of doing everything by hand.

So in all, it was a good day. I'll try to run tomorrow afternoon during my usual spin time, when the temps are supposed to be in the 60s. And I'm signed up to bring macaroni and cheese to my department's Thanksgiving lunch next week, so guess what I'll be cooking again soon? I hope some of my readers have had a chance to try last week's recipe, and I'm looking forward to seeing what my co-workers think of it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vintage Film: Children and Rabbits

I'm becoming addicted to the British Film Institute's Edwardian footage. Check out this 1901 clip of some children playing (a bit roughly if you ask me) with some bunnies. Lots of bunnies:

I'm not sure what's up with the kid who has no underwear or diaper. I think it may have been common to let the kids run around like that if there wasn't a special occasion and there was nothing the child could soil, like a carriage seat. Keeping up with laundry was hard enough in those days without mounds of diapers. Rural Chinese still put kids in split pants until they are toilet trained, so I would think it's a similar concept, although pretty disgusting to our way of thinking.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Bunday: Civic-Minded

Someone's getting civic-minded on me. I think he has an ulterior motive, though. They're soliciting volunteers to help with upkeep on the gardens in the little esplanades at the entrances to our neighborhood.

Okay, Cadbury. 'Fess up. What's your real reason for wanting to attend the next civic association meeting?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Recipe Share: OMG Seriously Good!

I made this Mac and Cheese recipe today, and let me tell you, this is some seriously good stuff. I doubled the recipe, thinking eight ounces of macaroni wasn't very much, and not noticing the part about having to double three cups of milk into six, etc. At one point I found myself thinking I had seriously screwed up by making so much, but then I tasted it.


If I hadn't doubled the recipe, Dan and I would've ended up fighting over it.

This was my first time making macaroni and cheese from scratch and I was surprised at how easy it was, so don't be intimidated if your only experience is with boxed recipes. Make this for someone you love. Or better yet, make it for someone you hate. They'll end up loving you, and won't that be nice?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Saturday Check-In

I realize I haven't been doing much with this blog lately other than posting bunny pics. Not that there's anything wrong with that, since who doesn't like bunny pics?

The truth is that things are pretty quiet around here and I'm happy for it to stay that way for awhile. Between changing jobs, losing Tid, learning the habits of a frisky new bunny, and dealing with a hurricane, I'm treasuring a bit of normalcy. I'm also working on a new novel, and my writing time is mostly diverted in that direction, rather than toward blogging.

(By the way, isn't it funny how the presidential slip-up "normalcy" has become standard English?)

I had an frustrating long run this morning. My hip didn't hurt (yay!) but my energy level was low and the early morning cold triggered some breathing difficulties. I honestly don't know how asthmatics in northern climes manage to not keel over every time they walk out the door, but I suppose that's another topic altogether. In the end, I did my nineteen miles, but wasn't feeling it. Too bad, since it's so rare for my hip not to bother me. I'm trying a new taping method, which I hope is helping. If I can get this hip issue under control, I can go back to doing triathlons, which would be nice.

Cadbury is all over this "sit in the chair" thing. Now he hops up here with me every night, which is sweet but sometimes interferes with what I'm trying to do. If I'm not quick to pet him, he'll get in my lap and put his front feet on my chest, demanding that I notice him. Right, little rabbit. Like you could ever be invisible.

I may be trying a new recipe tomorrow, so if I do, I'll be sure to post the results.

Gotta go. I have a demanding bunny in my lap.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

All Ears

My, what big ears you have, Cadbury! They look soft, too.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Monday Bunday: Chair Time

It's official. This is Cadbury's chair. Humans permitted, but only if they behave.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Someone was more interested in the treats...

Than the trick of getting into his Zorro costume.

Unlike me and my co-workers. I'm the rock star in the middle (deliciously awful wig, isn't it?), my boss is the '50s greaser chick on the left, and the diabolical doctor on the right is a co-worker who is being groomed for management. They might want to reconsider, now that she's going around with fangs. It's not nice to scare people away from the HR department.

I'll try again later to get Cadbury into his costume and if it works out, I'll post the results.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back to Reality

Well, my two days of play time are over. I enjoyed the conference, sick puppy that I am. I think it's a sign of serious mental disorder when you get excited about economics and labor force issues and when your critique of the conference as a whole is that there should've been a dedicated breakout session for discussion of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

I was also way too virtuous, not once dipping into the candy dishes or partaking of the afternoon cookies and brownies. Oddly, since I quit eating pre-made, processed foods, I find I rarely have cravings. I used to not be able to avoid inhaling any cookie in a three mile radius, but it's pretty easy to walk on by these days. Eating real food in realistic amounts really works!

The layout of the conference hotel was kind of odd. The conference rooms were all underground and parking was in a maze-like garage another level below, so that unless one made an intentional trip upstairs (no need for those of us not staying at the hotel) one could go all day without seeing daylight. They kept us busy the entire two days, with only fifteen-minute breaks before the next session, roundtable, panel, or speaker. I met some nice people, though, and was never bored. I got some great ideas to take back to the office with me and I found out about a workshop I'd like to attend in the spring. We'll see how that goes, since it would be overnight and my department hasn't got much money. But they have budget to send me to two conferences and a lunch workshop since I began working for them in June, so I'm not complaining. The number of conferences I went to in twelve years with my previous department? One. In the entire twelve years.

Yeah, I like my new job. For a lot of reasons.

So it's back to the salt mines now. I wonder if they've missed me?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Bunday: At the Trough

Okay, so it's not really a trough. Managing the hay when bunny is free to roam can be something of a problem, though. Cadbury is better than other bunnies I've had about not needing to take the food all over the room, searching for the perfect place to dine. It makes things easier when he'll eat out of the wooden toy box.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Recipe Share

In honor of our nice autumn weather (or as close as we can realistically expect on the Gulf Coast) I'm posting a link to this Butternut Squash Recipe. I've been making this for years and it's a personal favorite, either as a side dish or a light meal. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Big Enough for the Both of Us

Tonight Cadbury decided that the computer chair is big enough for both of us. The mayhem started with a leap into my lap. Soon that was not enough and he wanted to explore the rest of the chair, which didn't make for a relaxing time reading the news. He hung out in the chair with me for quite awhile and I'll be curious to see if this becomes a regular thing.

In other news, I have a new-to-me phone! I had been using a very ancient Nokia, due to the fact that I hardly ever need to use a phone and therefore can't justify buying a new one. I can certainly afford one, but I'm not one to buy things just because I can.

Dan loves bright and shiny new things though, and a few months after he bought a nice new phone, he switched to a Blackberry. My response: Whatever. We keep our money separate and as long as he makes his contributions to shared expenses, what he does with the rest of his money is his own business.

But then one day recently I was looking for something in the closet and asked what his fancy-pants pre-Blackberry phone was doing sitting there on the shelf while I was using something that barely held a charge and hasn't been cutting edge since around the time of French and Indian Wars. Dan thought my question was an excellent one and went on about his usual business of downloading ring tones for his Blackberry.

But today--joy! He found the charger for the unused phone, transferred my SIM card and got me all set up. Now I, too, can waste entire afternoons downloading ringtones that will annoy my co-workers. Yay, me!

And that's about it for news. We're having lovely weather here, by Houston standards, and I actually needed a long-sleeved shirt at the start of this morning's run. On Monday and Tuesday I'll be attending a local conference. It won't involve any travel, but it'll be a nice change of pace from sitting in my office all day doing job and salary analysis. And who knows? Maybe I'll take some pictures of the fancy hotel with my new phone!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Every Day Fiction

Hey, peeps! I have a flash fiction published today at Every Day Fiction. Go check it out when you have time, and if you like it, be sure to leave a comment!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Okay, since all of Cadbury's bunny-blog pals are doing it, he's in, too. Here he is showing off his 'tocks as he checks to see if there are any craisins or other good treats under a comforter that ended up on the floor. Silly bunny.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Bunday: Captive!

Alert the authorities! I'm being held against my will!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday Musings and Catch-up

Not much has been happening around here lately, as you probably figured out from the lack of blog postings. A lot of co-workers were at a conference this week, which gave me time to work on some older projects without a lot of new things coming my way. Wednesday was the university’s annual Tech Fair, and although I usually don’t go because there’s nothing I’m in the market for (nor do I want to be marketed to), Dan was working the fair and it was a chance to see a lot of my old IT friends, so I went and hung out for a bit. Sometimes it’s good to go to these things for no other reason than to have a little face time with people you know, keep your name out there and all that.

Now that the weather is cooler, I don’t have to start my Saturday long runs so ridiculously early. So today instead of driving to Memorial Park at 5 am to run where it’s safe to do so in the dark, I started my run around 6 here at home, running around the university until there was enough light to head out to Hermann Park and Rice. Nothing special happened on the run, but it was nice to do a route I hadn’t done in awhile and that didn't require I drive somewhere first. And in case you’re wondering why the university is safe at 6 am but not 5 am, it has to do with the arrival time of work and cleaning crews for both regular operations and the seemingly endless activities and events that go on over the weekend. The police presence seems to step up around that time, too. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to upcoming time change. More morning daylight is a good thing for early-rising runners.

Here are a couple of recipes I’ve tried recently:

Oatmeal and Prune Muffins: In spite of prunes’ reputation, they’re moist and tasty dried plums that aren’t any more likely to send you to the bathroom than any other dried fruit. I made a loaf of quickbread out of this recipe instead of muffins, baking it on 350 for about 45 minutes. The first time I made this recipe the salt-to-sweet ratio seemed off but I followed the instructions exactly. My suspicions were right. The second time I reduced the salt by half and added raisins and chopped pecans just for fun. The result was very tasty. And since it contains molasses and raisins, I can claim it as a source of iron! Okay, maybe that’s pushing it a little. But it’s good and healthy, regardless.

Bulgar Salad with Grapes and Feta: This was a nice dish to prep ahead for weekday lunches. It requires no cooking other than boiling a little water. I’m not crazy about sweets in my main courses, so I skipped the grapes and used grape tomatoes. I added some finely chopped fresh spinach, since I had no fresh herbs handy, but the herbs of your choice and/or some fresh chives would work nicely in this. Top with freshly ground black pepper before eating and enjoy! As noted in the recipe, it only serves two so I recommend doubling or even tripling it.

And that's about it for news in my life. All the excitement is in my current fiction project. Although I've written some amusing scenes in previous fiction, this is my first novel-length work intended solely as a humor piece. It's been a fun ride so far and a welcome distraction from post-hurricane stress and the gyrations of the global economy. I could write a lot about the economy, although I don't know if I will because I try to avoid controversial topics on this blog. I will say, though, that if you aren't going to be retiring for at least another decade or more, this is a time of great opportunity. Play it smart.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Monday Bunday: Banana Chip

In keeping with Sophia's Monday Bunday challenge of finding the perfect banana treat, we see Cadbury enjoying a banana chip!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Six Random Things: Cadbury

We were tagged by our friend Roadbunner for the Six Random Things meme. I interviewed Cadbury as he worked diligently to extract old pieces of hay from the most inaccessible places under his cage, even though he had a box of fresh hay nearby. Here are his answers:

  • I honk when I run, and I love to run! Big circles, little circles, figure-eights, you name it!
  • I love timmy cakes but won’t actually eat timmy hay, since I prefer orchard grass.
  • I like to chew wood and the occasional mouse cord, but not cloth. The last bunny that lived here chewed perfect circles out of shirts and sheets but it’s not a hobby I’m particularly interested in.
  • I love nose rubs so much that I put my front paws on the female human’s leg and put my nose up for rubbing. Sometimes I even jump in her lap.
  • Even with my cage door open and a big bowl of fresh water on the floor, I usually drink out of my water bottle. That’s because it’s a fancy glass one with a little yellow duck that floats to show how much water is left.
  • I wear a mask to protect my secret identity.

We've seen this meme around for awhile, so we won't tag anyone individually. If you haven't played yet, you're it.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


What all the fashionable rabbits are wearing to keep their ears back.

Now available in trendy willow.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bunny Butt

Cadbury has such a cute, flippy little tail!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Saturday Run

I went to Memorial Park this morning for my first run-in-the-dark since the hurricane. Most of the lights are back on now and the park was full of early-morning runners, so it all had a nice feel of normality to it.

Once the sun was up I continued my run up Memorial Drive into the fancy area just outside the loop. Big mistake! So many of the rich peoples' trees came down that the place still looked like a Pacific Northwest logging area three weeks after the hurricane. Since Memorial Drive is a major thoroughfare and of course they can't stack the debris at the edge of their lawns like us middle-class folk did, the cut logs and tree limbs were piled up on the sidewalks for the better part of a mile, sometimes five and six feet high like a primitive wall or barricade. It was a difficult and dangerous area to run in and I spent a lot of time running in the street or on the esplanade. But luckily I didn't have such hazards on the rest of my run, so it all turned out well. I was left wondering, though, why the well-heeled people of Memorial haven't hired a private contractor to clear everything out, like a lot of us did in our far more humble neighborhood.

I got a nice surprise on my run, though, when I came to the roadside garden and found that the citrus trees were still loaded with fruit. I had thought for sure the winds would've stripped the branches bare of unripe oranges and grapefruit, but there they still were, a very good harvest in the making. Maybe I should plant some citrus trees in my yard. I could have the stump of the old bee tree removed and have oranges instead.

Not much else is going on around here. I'm just glad to have things back to normal. Cadbury is happy, too. Now that I have internet again, I'm at my desk in the study instead of at the office and he can do bunny flops at my feet. Simple pleasures are sometimes best!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sunny Window

Feline + Sunshine = Bliss

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Yes, friends, we have internet service at home again!

Last night Dan got a call from our next door neighbor that his modem was working. We tried ours, but no luck. Dan called Comcast and was able to get some information on repairs going on in the neighborhood. He got us onto the list and today at noon I noticed that the modem was working. I plugged in the router but was unable to get online due to setup issues. Dan fixed it on his lunch break, though, and everything is working great!

So nearly three weeks after the storm, my life is finally back to normal.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Monday Bunday: Gifts Galore

On Saturday, the UPS man brought Cadbury a package, addressed to him and his family. The box appeared to be full of treats:

First, of course, we had to read the note:

Then came the unpacking:

Orchard Grass! Our favorite!


A fun new toy:

And sticks for chewing:

Pixel got some tasty gifts, too:

And there were even treats for humans:

Best of all, of course, was the fun of the box itself:

Thanks, Glenna, Pink, and Elvis! You’re great pals!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday Update: Good News, Bad News

We have mixed news on the storm repair front. The good news is that the crews are finally at work restoring power to the rest of my neighborhood. The broken pole has been replaced and although I won't know until dark how many of my neighbors got their power on today, at least work is being done and that's great news. Also, the neighbors at the end of our street have power again and our friend's neon kitty is lighting up her window again. Once everyone has lights and we have a few streetlights, things will start to feel more normal and I won't be so nervous coming home from campus after dark.

Yes, after dark. We still have no internet. I had high hopes when I saw the pole repair crews today, since I think our cable outage is somehow tied into the whole no-power, no-lines thing. But Dan saw a Comcast truck today-- the first one we've seen since the storm. They told Dan they were doing an assessment. WTF? Two weeks and lots of phone calls and they're just now assessing? They told they Dan didn't know yet when we'd have service, but they told our next-door neighbor it would be one to two weeks. WTF again? I really wish these clowns would get their stories straight and give us answers we can plan around.

In the meantime, it's hard to live in my usual way, since I'm used to being online a lot, puttering on office projects, emailing friends, looking for new recipes, doing research for my writing, submitting stories, visiting friends' blogs, and reading news. I can do all of those things at the office, obviously, and I'm very fortunate that it's just a short walk away. But it's also not convenient or even safe sometimes, and after awhile it just gets old.

Today was long run day and I stayed home again because I wasn't sure if Memorial Park had lights yet and I've read that the bayous still stink. Running around campus seemed the better option and I did 17.5 miles. I'm still not at my old distances, but the weather was nice and I felt pretty good, so I'm happy.

And finally, Cadbury got another package in the mail! I forgot my jump drive at home and I'm not going to go back and get it tonight, so everyone will have to wait until tomorrow to see what his friends Glenna, Pink, and Elvis sent him! Thanks, friends!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Recipe Share

Last night I tried this recipe for Polenta Spinach Pie. It's basically a cornbread crust pizza and I added fresh garlic, didn't use anything remotely like two cups of sauce, and I used both mozarella and parmesan on top. Dan and I were both very pleased with the results. It's easy, quick, tasty, and would probably be delicious with any toppings, if one weren't crazy about spinach.

We still don't have internet service at home and I'm torn on the subject of whether or not to spring for a land line for backup. We wouldn't use it very often and I would only consider it worth the initial expense if Comcast were going to be out for another week or more. But Comcast can't say how long before we have service again. It could be a day, a week, or a month. No one at the customer service level has any clue. It's frustrating.

I'm beginning to suspect that the problem with our cable is related to the fact that most of our neighborhood remains without power. This morning I saw that the street at the far opposite side of the neighborhood has power but they, like we, have back yards that abut university property. Everyone in the middle is dark and other than the tree-cutters, no crews have come to work at restoring service. And in spite of the Houston Chronicle's assertion that not all power restoration requires actual trucks, you've seen the pictures of the smashed pole, broken box and sagging cables. We do, in fact, need trucks. And workers. And equipment. Lots of it.

If our internet is related somehow to the power problem, we could be waiting awhile, since I don't think our neighbors are scheduled for electric service restoration until the weekend, and that's if workers actually show up and start doing something and no additional problems are found.

I'm going to check if my studio gets any wireless bleedover from the university. I doubt it, because I don't think the university's wireless service extends to the back of the parking lot and therefore to my fence, but one never knows and it's worth checking.

In the meantime, it's getting easier to write and do other projects. It was hard at first because I just wasn't in the right frame of mind. It gets easier, though, and I have to keep reminding myself that we've been much luckier than our neighbors and I need to grateful. Time will pass and someday this will all be an amusing memory.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Bunday: The Art of the Nap

Getting sleepy...


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday Update

Still no internet at home, but I tried to make this as close to an ordinary day as possible. I had to do my long run on campus, which meant starting after the sun was up. This made it hard to go as long as I wanted because I ran out of time before I needed to be home getting ready for us to go have lunch. I ended up only doing fourteen miles, but I'll consider that a success for now. Memorial Park was out of the question since it still doesn't have lights, so running circles there posed no benefit over running circles at home. The bayous all stink, so anything involving bayou trails wasn't a good option, either.

We do what we can.

Our Indian restaurant was open today - yay! I had hoped to get some more destructo-pics on my first outing since the storm, but I didn't see as much damage as I expected. Everyone has been very busy cleaning up and the biggest evidence now of last week's storm is the cut trees and piles of branches in front of nearly every inner loop home, and the open windows marking who still doesn't have power.

I wonder what will happen to all that wood? I hope the cut up trees will be shipped north for people challenged by high fuel oil prices this winter. It would be a nice way to bring something good out of the disaster.

We were very lucky to get power restored when we did. As it turns out, we're on the same grid as part of the university and not where I showed the picture a few days ago of the damaged box and lines. The university was considered a priority and the area behind our back fence didn't have trees to damage the lines, so they brought it on much faster than the rest of our neighborhood, which is still dark. For those of us whose back yards abut the university, though, we're up and running.

Except for internet. I know I shouldn't complain when so many still don't even have lights but if Comcast could just give us a real estimate, that would be a big help. Instead we get canned answers about "crews working in your area." Right. Haven't seen a single one. Given that Comcast's call center is probably in India, I'm sure it's a reasonable answer to them, but Houston metro area is the size of a small country! "In your area" could mean anything.

But I have the university and for that I'm grateful. I have to be careful coming and going after dark, but I carry nothing of value with me and so far the only danger I've encountered is nearly being run down by some dorm rats playing a game that looked like a version of flag football where a stolen pylon was being used in place of a ball. I could've sworn I was safely out of bounds, but I was a dorm rat once myself and I can vouch for the fact that these late-night games have very flexible rules, all of them made up on the fly.

And speaking of being out after dark, it's after 9:00 and I need to think about wrapping things up here and going home. I have some "lessons learned" posts I'm working on and that I will copy and paste over the coming week, so be prepared for some prep lists and recommendations.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Eggs and Internet

It seems amazing that a week has already gone by since I woke up to find Dan parked in front of the TV watching the storm surge crashing over the Galveston seawall. Even though we were without power until Wednesday afternoon, we were incredibly fortunate to have cool weather and the resources of the university at our disposal. Things could have been much worse for us.

Our only two dilemmas now are lack of internet service at home and the state of the city in general. Dan tried to go run errands the other evening and came back saying it was still too crazy out there. From my co-workers I hear of long gas lines, long grocery lines, debris, detours, and traffic lights out everywhere.

This leaves us dependent on our existing food storage at home. It's not a really huge problem for me since I'm content to eat pretty much the same thing day in and day out. But I like to provide Dan with variety and it's starting to become problematic. Or rather, the lack of eggs is becoming problematic. I'm running low on cheese and butter, too, but without eggs I'm having to get creative to avoid serving some variation of rice and beans every day.

I should've stored powdered eggs and that's all there is to it. I used to have some but they tended to clump and were tricky to work with. I feel kind of stupid now for not keeping some on hand anyway. It's an important lesson learned. I also want to find out how to make yogurt without a starter. I think I can do this with acidophillus tablets but I'll have to do a little research first. Yogurt would be great to have as a substitute for sour cream, buttermilk, and cheese. I know how to make yogurt and I have powdered milk. Just nothing to use as a starter. Another lesson learned.

This is not a real crisis, though. We have other food. We have restaurants right here on campus. We can go to the store if we're willing to put in the time and deal with the hassle. But I'm using this experience to understand where my planning gaps are, and eggs and yogurt are big ones.

Last night I made a loaf of honey-wheat bread for sandwiches (we've got plenty of peanut butter) and a focaccia pizza using a focaccia mix I bought several months ago, and Bag Lady's wonderful pizza sauce. I topped it with the last of my mozzarella and some rehydrated onions, tomatoes, zucchini and spinach leaves. It was completely delicious and there's a lot left over. I also found a recipe for empanadas in one of my cookbooks, so I plan to give that a try using minced rehydrated jerky and onions, and with a side of rehydrated refried beans.

So no, we're not starving by any stretch of the imagination. But I never realized until now how much I really needed eggs! Or the internet. I miss being able to read blogs and news at home. I have to rush through things here at the office because I'm supposed to be working.

Like right now.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Power Restored!

When I went home for lunch our power was back up. Yay! We still don't have internet because Dan couldn't get the router working before he had to go back to the office but at least the worst is over. I took a late lunch and began doing cleanup and most of my life can resume its normal patterns now. I sure hope Dan can get the router up tonight but if our electricity stays up, I'm happy for now.

What a relief to have air conditioning again!

Signs of Progress

The tree cutters are in our area today, removing the trees from the power lines. Yay! It's a step in the right direction. I just hope once the trees are removed it will be a simple task to get the power restored.

For everyone who keeps asking, we haven't used the soda can stove and now that we have access to our neighbor's house with a gas stove, we won't be doing any more camp cooking. Here is a website that talks about the soda can stove, though: Best Camp Stove Ever

Please be patient with me. I have no electricity or internet at home. It takes a long time to do basic tasks and I'm expected to be at work every day now, too.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hurricane Pics

The storm hideout in the closet. You can just see Cadbury's ear in the carrier. I had to have a kleenex box in the closet with me because the closet was dusty and I kept sneezing. You can also see I have pillows and a stash of books. When the FM radio stations all went out I read aloud to Dan for awhile until we decided to quit waiting for FM to come back on and found a good AM station instead.

Fearless hurricane bunny!

Dan, checking the doppler on his Blackberry to see if the storm would EVER end. The reason the pic is so bright is because of the camera flash. It was actually very dark in the house and we were doing everything by the light of electric lanterns and glow sticks.

Pixel, high and dry on the fireplace mantel.

The view from our porch the morning after.

The tree that fell in our yard. No little sapling!

The view looking up the street from our house.

Someone who didn't fare as well with their tree.

This one looks bad but it's only cosmetic damage.

This street had three more trees of this size blocking the road, but none fell onto the houses.

Remember my bayou? This is soon after the storm had passed. In the lower left corner you can see the debris where the bayou left its banks, flooding my my neighborhood's streets but thankfully not our houses.

This part of MacGregor Road, about half a mile from my house, was still flooded even after my neighborhood was clear.

By evening the bayou had gone down considerably and the evening light was an odd yellowish color.

Cadbury back in his room, glad to be out of the carrier but puzzled as to why everything is so dark and stuffy.

Pixel, checking out the mosquito netting over the door.

Our neighbor's new trampoline, courtesy of Ike.

Honey, anyone? This explains why our tree fell-- it was a bee tree!

Look closely. The top of the tower is bent over. The satellite is supposed to face the other way.

Farther up my street, toward the bayou.

Someone else who got lucky with the direction their tree fell.

If you look carefully, you can see that some clever person used a fallen branch to prop up a tree that was pulling down a power line. Good thinking, since if the line doesn't break we'll get power back on sooner.

This tree fell in front of my office building.

College of Architecture, with most of the roof of one wing lying on the ground. Same thing happened on the other side of the building. I find it ironic that the College of Architecture was the only one to lose its roof.

Trees and light posts down outside the Computing Center.

Trees uprooted in the picnic area in front of the Computing Center.

Sign on tree says No Parking. Good advice.

Sagging power line at the entrance to my neighborhood.

Why I'm skeptical that we'll have power again anytime real soon.