Saturday, August 16, 2008

And We Are On Our Way!

The four of us are waiting in the President's Club where there is free internet, so I thought I'd let you know that the boys did GREAT going through security!

We drugged them again; this time instead of sprinking a crushed tablet on Tiggie's food we tried having B. hold him on top of the washer (a trick the vet taught us) and I tried to slip a pill down Tig's throat.

He bit. I bleed. A lot. I've got Neosporin on it, a slice along side my middle finger nail. Please pray it doesn't get coverage starts again on the 26th of August.

After that we just sprinkled it on his food again and he slurped it down. Stupid us.

Hart fought, but I got a pill down him too.

It was NOT good news to learn that we really would have to pull them out of their carriers and CARRY them though security.

Like I said....they did great...we did great...and we are on our way outta Sticky Town, where the humidity was 73% today.

I hope I NEVER have that kind of humidity again!

Gotta go get on the plane now.
More later, from SLC!!!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Today is "Test Packing To Go" day. We fly out late tomorrow, but tomorrow is Saturday, which usually has meant prospective buyers dropping by, so we will likely need to be out of the house most of the day. Everything needs to be packed now so if any changes need to be made, it can be done before tomorrow.

Yesterday we test drugged the cats to see how they would do with the medication. Kitty Prozac I'm calling it. Tiggie slurped down wet cat food spiked with a quarter tablet, and within twenty minutes his inner eyelid had slide over half his eye, and he was staggering and missing jumps up on the furniture.

Hart got a pill popped into his mouth. It took a really long time for him to get loopy, and Tiggie kept trying to beat him up.

Tiggie also wanted to eat. A lot. Munchies is a side affect of this drug?

This morning they are back to normal.

They will fly with us in the airplane cabin. Whoo boy...did you know they have frequent flyer programs for pets too? And just to ride under the seat is over a hundred bucks. Yeah for B.'s company for picking up that tab.

Yesterday we had to chop down our two large Japanese maples. They both died suddenly, green one day and crispy brown 48 hours later. Turns out is is a soil borne disease; there was nothing we could do to stop it. Still it was a sad task to saw down the two trees that we loved so much.

Last night I started my test packing. I get two duffel bags to put on the plane, each of which can weigh 70 pounds. One is now full of clothes and weighs less than that amount. It would be SO much easier if I knew when we would be selling the house and having all our stuff shipped to Utah. Should I pack snow boots and sweaters? More cold weather clothes or ???? It could be warm there through October, or we could have an early winter.

I guess if I need to, I will just have to get to know the SLC clothing stores. I just hate to shop when I know I already have what I need back home.

The biggest headache is figuring out what files and cosmetics to take. I realized last night that I would have to take my "good" or sentimental jewelry with me on the plane as it isn't wise to put that in luggage. Ugh...more weight in my back pack that will also hold my laptop and assorted files. I think I will request NO MORE good jewelry!

(I may rethink that later, so don't hold me to it.)

I will feel much better once everything I want to take is in the bags and weighed. Last night my mind kept suggesting other "important" things...and I had to wonder each time if I should just plan on replacing it in SLC if I actually needed it.

Here's the mental kick in the pants about all this: Back in 1880, my great great grandmother left German with two daughters under the age of ten and came to Salt Lake City.

She left behind her oldest daughter who had recently gotten married, and a son.

Later her brother brought the son over.

They were coming to SLC because they had been converted to Mormonism.

The oldest daughter came to SLC ten years later with her husband and three daughters. After they arrived, my grandfather (my mom's dad) was born. They had another son, and then the whole family went BACK to Germany, had another kid or two, then CAME BACK TO SLC AGAIN!!!

And great grandma did all this while PREGNANT!!!!

(Think about it...making such trips with no disposable diapers, not ipods, no videos playing in the back seat, no fast food...long boat ride, train trip...)

The married daughter and her husband and children were not Mormons, and never become Mormon either. They were in Utah during the 1890's when Utah women became the first women with the right to vote.

(Actually a sneaky ploy to get more good Mormon wife would dream of voting in any other fashion than exactly the way her husband or father told her to vote...and remember some of those husband's had lots of wives and daughters. A unique way to stuff the ballot box.)

My grandfather went back to Germany as a US soldier during WWI, then he moved to California, married my grandmother and they moved to San Diego.

The point of this ramble is this: My ancestors managed to travel by boat and train with INFANTS and multiple kids, with just a trunk or two. No "rest of the stuff will be shipped later" nonsense; just go!

In honor of what they did, I have pledged not to whine about my plight.
(At least not too much.)

If they could put up with such a time of testing, then by golly, so can I.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just keep walking....

I love natural surprises.
Like seeing the palmettos in the forest.
Isn't it just weird to see palm leaves and pine trees side by side?
Or a fairy ring, with one mushroom heading out on it's own.

I always like to see what was on the under side. The small one looks like a lady in a huge hat!
(This is a good picture to click on to enlarge...)

Check out the Beauty Berries ripening in a blushing tide. (Another click on/enlarge worthy!)

The color gradation makes me think of paint samples, where the colors go from dark to light.

This year's Beauty Berries have been spectacular; the biggest clusters ever!

(And I think if the fantasy story about the baby snake with the crystal ever gets written, it should include Beauty Berries in the plot. And mushrooms that have run away from the fairy ring...)

Other berries are also turning...the black ones shine like the blackest of pearls, and each reflect the scene around them like mirrors. ( the shape of me taking the picture?)
Perhaps they are the fantasy's secret windows to watch out for danger and such...
Isn't there anyone out there who wants to write this story?
How about if I catch a picture of a fairy in action?
Will that do it?
There are blazes of fall color in the outskirts of the woods. The Chinese Tallow trees are turning color already, and disturbingly also turning brown as well.
It has been a hotter summer than normal. is very strange to see color so soon in the year.

A new kind of mushroom with a purple brown eye. (Oh heck, just enlarge all of them....)
The top is cup shaped, beneath the petticoat looks like it has been caught in an updraft.
The mushrooms are dotting the forest floor; pushing up between the pine needle blanket that the last tropical storm created. The moisture and high humidity of that storm has made condition favorable for mushroom growth everywhere; neighborhood lawns sport toad stools the size of dessert plates!
Yesterday we were standing out front on the lawn while our real estate agent put up an Open House sign. We were chatting away, and this dragonfly kept zooming through the air around us.
It consistently lit on a fallen pine branch; after about the tenth time I went inside and got my camera.
Try enlarging the pictures for a real treat. Aren't those glassy wings amazing?
Cats, squirrels, butterflies and now dragonflies that are into posing.
Love the bug eyes. (hee hee..)

In case you are wondering how I am finding time to mess around with my camera in the woods right now:
B.'s company is paying to move EVERYTHING, and they WILL NOT insure anything I pack. So I am now stuck...the housesitter will stay with the house until it sells, and at that time everything will be packed and shipped.
Nothing special for me to do for now aside from shipping our bonsai and African violets off (the only thing the company won't cover) and figuring out what I want to take with me that will fit into two duffel bags and will weigh less than 130 lbs total.
I'm really trying to keep up with my usual exercise routines: walking, zumba, yoga, swimming, and biking. When I don't exercise, I find I have more back problems. Right now the back is doing good.
My belly dancing class has stopped, but Jeff assures me I can find another class up in SLC.
Oh yeah...imagine how it must feel being a 28 year old son having to ask where his MOM can take a belly dancing class.
My son: I think I'll keep him!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Millinery: Avocado Inspirations

Hat making time!

(Or should I say "I needed a creative energy outlet, the heck with moving time!" ?)

You should know the drill by now. Take one straw hood (aka "cone")

Dunk or spray hood with water that has unflavored gelatin added to provide sizing.

And in this case, since the hood was an antique gold color, I'm added some tropical blue dye as well.

I'm aiming for an avocado hue.

(Bernie on the other hand is going for the blanched white in horror hue when he realizes that I have a pot of dye on our stove top...this after being scrupulously careful to not get anything in the kitchen stained or dirty. It was fine, I knew what I was doing. Sorta. Anyway, no dye impacted the pristine counter top. Whew.)

I like it! Not too dark, not too light.

Next step: Start putting semi random tucks into the hood, holding them in place with clip style clothes pins until the straw dries.

The more pinches and folds the merrier!

After the straw has dried, I removed the clothes pins, and gently tugged the hat over a rather basic hat block, just enough to make a head space. I used tacks to hold the hat in place, spraying it with a gentle water mist, and then letting it dry again.

Try on the hat. isn't quite there yet.

I put the hat on Jane, (who has taken up pouting because I have used her so little of late...)

I think the creases need to be softened, and the crown deepened.

Better. Front view...

Side one

Side two.

I'm not completely convinced this is the right front and back. I keep trying different spins and tilts.

The back is great though.
I like how the top of the crown (the tip) looks from the back.

The more tilt, the more attitude.
Funny how even the inanimate model seems to change expressions with the each change of the hat tilt.
The brim is taking on personality and doing what I call a "potato chip"; it will never lay totally flat unless it is cut into an oval shape instead of a circle. The wearer will choose where to have the dip and where to have the lift.

I sew in a small bead as a marker from which one can remember how the hat was put on the head. Right now I'm calling the bead "the back". But the next time it is worn, the bead may be at the side, or even in front!

It is tempting to tug it further down on my head.

But since this hat has not been made for me to wear, I will let it's owner decide what is the right amount of tug needed, and will put her own shapings to make the hat look uniquely right on her.

Can you guess who that will be?

Hint #1: Tiggie and her kitty correspond regularly.
Hint #2: She has a tree in her back yard that grows the most delicious avocados.
Hint #3: She and Bernie went to college together.
Hint #4: She is creating a custom hat pin for the hat from her own bead collection.

Give up?

Go to this link to see who is Birthmonth rocking in the hat!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Cajun Dinner

Knowing my fellow librarian Hope B. is a delight. A Louisiana Cajun, she brings the fun loving enthusiasm and spirit of adventure to all that she does.

One of her most interesting adventures was meeting and marrying an Irish guy.
As in Northern Ireland.
Don't's complicated.
Some day I'm going to write a novel based on the romantic events that lead to their marriage.

I've even come up with a raft of possible titles for this story.

(A Clauddagh for Mardi Gras or A Cajun in Clover are two of my favorite titles right now...)

Anyway, Hope's husband Dominic is quite a guy. That's Dominic as in Doctor Dominic.
He has a Phd in Political Science and in addition to being a college prof, he also seems to manage to be invited on road trips around the globe where he is asked to contribute his brain power to studying some of the world's more ticklish peace problem.

His last trip was to the Middle East. Yeah, they have a bit of a political issue or two going on over in that neck of the woods from what I hear.

Hope and Dominic invited us over a farewell meal last Saturday. She told me that they agonized over the menu for days before realizing that what we would really enjoy most would be what we would no longer be able to get once we left Houston:

Authentic Cajun Cuisine.

Oh yeah baby! Let the good times roll!

Dominic greeted us with flutes of champagne spiked with a kiss of Grand Marnier. Just perfect to sip while Hope gave me a tour of her newly framed art collection. She and Dom travel extensively, and purchase original art or prints during each of their trips.

I loved her taste in art, especially her sentimental collection of Irish art work, and thought that Dom's taste in Egyptian art was fabulous. They also enjoy wine tasting, and have recently framed prints of a California's winery's labels that they got on their last trip to the California wine country.

The bold modern colors of the labels felt like jazz for the eyes, and were in perfect auditory harmony with the soft jazz/blues that Hope had playing in the background.

While Hope and I chatted about the art, Dominic plated our first course: Shrimp Etouffee.
Good heavens.
Why have I never had this classic recipe served on puff pastry before?
It is a fabulous appetizer concept: Skip the bed of rice and use puff pastry instead.

If all political issues are ever resolved and peace breaks out everywhere, I am comforted to know that with this single dish, Dominic could easily start a new career as a chef.

You know what they say: You should always have something to fall back on...

The meal actually had several courses that I missed photographing: Gumbo, Corn bread stuffed chicken, another shrimp dish, the salad above. I should have had either Hope or Dominic write down everything they served. I was so busy enjoying every bite and sipping my favorite wine and listening to the conversation that I forgot to do that.

It is an important detail: When they come visit us some day I will want them to create the meal again and teach me all their culinary secrets.

Salt Lake City needs this.
I need this.
How ever am I going to survive in Utah without Cajun food????

Everyone please bow their head right now!!! and pray with me:

Dear God;

Please let all political matters be permanently resolved and all world conflict end so Dominic can quit being a Phd of Political Science and become an Irish Cajun chef in Salt Lake City Utah instead.


Did you notice the way cool square dishes that Dom served his entries on?
And that he gave me the one with Art Library written in French on it? this guy a catch or what?
No Cajun/Creole meal should ever end without the flaming dessert known as Bananas Foster being served over vanilla ice cream.
Dom is a pro with a kitchen torch. While Hope had a fit because the recipe called for brown sugar and at the last moment it was discovered that the pantry was bereft of that ingredient, Dom just stirred up a new version of the classic treat.
Tasted good to me...heck, EVERYTHING that was served tasted good to me.
Great food, great wines, and great conversation followed the meal.
I never did hear the end of Dominic's story of how an Irish lad came to be married to a Louisiana girl, but I do mean find out one day.
Hope plans to celebrate her 40th birthday in Ireland in two years.
I plan to be there.
If only to hear the rest of the story.
Thanks for the wonderful evening you two!
(And don't forget you promised to take the rest of our opened and therefore unshippable liquor bottles. We'll call and bring them over just before we leave. I know you'll be glad to help us out. After all, what else are friends for, right?)

Final Day at Work

I have worked at North Harris College as an adjunct Reference Librarian for the past three years. Usually I was at work less than ten hours a week, with an occasional 19 hour week as needed.

Mostly I worked evenings.
Often it hardly seemed like work at all.

That's the way it is when you love your job and have great co-workers to work with.

I almost didn't take the job when I realized the college was a 45 minute drive from my house. But I decided that doing the drive only twice or three times a week wouldn't be too bad.
I can now say I'm glad I did decide to take it despite the drive.
It turned out that the scenery on the way was often quite interesting.

Each time I commuted to work, it took me almost 15 minutes to get out of Kingwood, then about ten minutes more on the 59 freeway to 1960, past the mall and then into rural areas that flanked the Houston airport.
On this last drive to work I was amused to see three turkey buzzards perched on fence posts. Off in the distance you can see the airport control tower.

A turn off from 1960 led to a bumpy road with nothing but prairie on either side. The clouds often are beautiful in the distance and I enjoyed seeing the seasons change in the meadow. Right now small sunflower are brightening up the roadside...merrily disguising the purpose of the land: It is designated for emergency crash landings.

Thankfully it has never has served it purpose, and I hope it never will.

Once I got to work, I was surprised to see Virginia at reference desk wearing the hat I had made for her. She has come through her cancer treatments and is now in remission! Hurrah!
She never actually needed the hat for anything other than a fashion accessory. No hair loss on her head, and she looks just great.
Don't you just love a happy ending to a cancer treatment?

Once I headed into the back I saw Norma our technical librarian also behatted. She looks adorable in a hat...I think she too should add additional initials to her titles: MLS, HFP.
(HFP: Hat Friendly Profile.)
Karen, our collections development librarian was even wearing a hat! She has firmly resisted all my attempts to convert her to the hat wearing, but wore a hat in my honor on my last day.
Hope, the Super Librarian, needs little convincing to wear a hat. She was always eager to give my newest millinery creations a try, and would LOVE to own more hats herself. Despite being quite brainy, she wears a smaller hat size, which is hard to come by.
Olia was under the weather but nevertheless made the effort to show up for the "going away" party. She and my boss Predeep went together to get me a book of poetry written by our next national poet laureate, in honor of my campus Poet Laureat program that I created for the school.

Have I mentioned how really thoughtful this group of ladies are?
They think of everything!

A group portrait.
Yes, librarians have fun AND look good wearing hats!
So it was my farewell appearance at ref desk. The students at the computers by the window didn't bat an eye to the fact that I was wearing an enormous hat.

My last look at the pine trees surrounding the school. It is a beautiful campus in a beautiful location.
The first campus poet laureate David Bell won his title based on this three line haiku on the theme "Achievement":


North Harris College,
pine-nestled symposia
Aspirations Soar!

The refence desk is on the third floor; usually I took the elevator to get there, but the stairway gave a great view of outside.
The reference collection, only a small part of the two story library.
The library's circulation staff were greatly appreciated by me. If a book is in the correct place on a shelf, and the library user's records are in order, you have a circulation staff member to thank.
Plus they usually had better goodies to eat than we librarians did upstairs...and Terry was always good for a smile and a cheery greeting as she mange the second floor crew.

I usually made one trip downstairs each shift just to check out our display of our newest books. It was tempting to kick back in the reading area, plus... just beyond that...there were periodicals, which included Vogue and other fashion magazines.
Always good for flipping through during a slow night at desk, and of course for finding new fragances samples to rub on. That was fun too.
Libraries should be fun in my opinion.

The second floor also had an interesting collection of framed photographs of people from other cultures. I thought this girl looked so happy and relaxed that I would find myself smiling just by seeing her.

On the other hand, this little Mennonite lass always made me wonder.

She looks so very unhappy; maybe scared, maybe defiant. What was going through her young mind as the photographer focused upon her and took her picture, forever capturing the complex expression under the great big hat.

I wonder how old she must be now, and what she would think of seeing her photograph presiding over student engaged in learning at a library so far away.

I so enjoyed working with all the staff over the years at the NHC library. Each of them had distinctive personalities and interests, and I think all of them were interesting people to get to know.

In my next job I will be a solo librarian for a fourteen college campus system, with schools in eight different states. I will manage the libraries remotely, ordering books and collecting materials to support the curriculum needs and the student's success.

I know I will miss swinging into work and chatting with other librarians about ideas and activities as I did at North Harris. By the time I start at my new job on September 1st, my old library pals will be doing without both me and Hope, as she has accepted a position at another Lone Star College district campus. Things will have changed there is true, nothing really ever stays the same...

Thankfully we will be able to stay in touch through email, blogs and maybe even professional conferences or two along the way.

And if all else fails, maybe they can make a trip to SLC, see the mountains, and me, and get an massage as well.

(More about that option later!)

Thanks everyone!
Best of luck in the new school year!