Saturday, January 31, 2009

Early Valnetine's treat

While I'm working on finishing the Shabby Chic room to show you, here's a peek at my current Valentine Vignette. I have several images of this room over here and since Blogger gets feisty about loads of images sometimes, and frankly since I don't feel like posting lots of images on the web again, hop through the link and enjoy!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Adventures of Ada and Grace

Meet FH's new friends:




FH has been wanting to have a "wuffie" (read mouse or rat) for a few years now. Normally when I look at them at the pet store I think they're cute and walk away. Today however I saw a calico mouse. I did a double take. She actually has calico coloring and little tigeress stripes on her back.

So I suddenly found myself purchasing a habitat and proper food for a wuffie and pointing out Ada to the salesperson. I got home and set her up in the mouse house. When FH got home he was very happily surprised. We quickly came to the combined conclusion that Ada, who was yet unnamed, needed a companion. We went back to the same pet store and he picked out Grace.

FH is a computer programmer, thus he named the girls after faous women in the field of computer programming. Ada's namesake is Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer. She was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron. Grace is named for Grace Hopper, who wrote the first compiler for a programming language and programmed the Harvard Mark I calculator.

The new girls are causing quite a stir with the household cats. They are very much interested inteh comings and goings of the mice. We decided their habitat must be locked in FH's craft room whenever we are sleeping or out of the house for any length of time. Confetti is already known as a successful mouser. Unlike the rabbits, the mice can't bully the cats back.

The Shabby Chic room will be finished soon I hope. It's hard to work on a project when FH keeps late working hours. I never know when he's coming home on nights like these last few. Hopefully I will get the walls put together tomorrow and get more little things finished.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shabby Chic in 1 inch scale, pt. 1

Pictures of the actual finished scene are coming soon, I promise. Much of yesterday's workshop was spent learning China painting and doing lots of little things while paint and glue dried.

The pallet consists mostly of shades. I thought the more muted tones on the walls would compliment the floor covering better. I will admit that the floor was not something I chose. Rather, everyone in the workshop has the same floors with a twist. In the center of each person's floor is the illusion of an oilcloth that has been incorporated into the carpet. Mine isn't in place yet. I need to mark and cut a hole that will leave a 1/4" overlap of the carpet and glue the "oilcloth" in place.
Obviously the actual structure of the room is not assembled. However I did manage to paint one of the three walls and paper the other two. I didn't have enough paper to get all three walls alike, so I opted for the larger wall becoming an accent wall. HGTV shows have illuminated that sort of decorating technique. I do think it works well in some situations, and this is one of them.

The furniture has been painted a shade of blue and was treated with crackle medium.
The China bit is a cookie jar that is shaped like a bunny rabbit in a dress and hat. I think she's adorable.

Once I get the entire thing put together I will post the pictures. For now this is the best I can do. If things go well I should be able get the floor together and put the walls in place tomorrow. Tonight I've got more accessories to put together and some laundry to run.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A call for color advice

This tiny pillow has been made as part of a "tote bag exchange" for a miniature workshop. The workshop is a roombox in 1" scale done in "Shabby Chic" decor. I'm so not shabby chic, but I wanted to do something new and different for a change.

My question to my fellow miniaturists, to decorators with more talent than me for this sort of thing, and to fiber artists who have an eye for color: Should I embroider any contrasting accents onto the pillow? Or should I just leave it alone? I could always add color to mine after I get the scheme of the room done, but then my friends would either have to go without or do it themselves.

Thanks for any help you can give. I have five more of these to make tonight. The workshop is this weekend, so I have plenty of time to add color after I get them sewn.

Snarky? Me?

Noon CST snuck right passed me today. I plan on watching the rebroadcast of the inauguration tonight with FH when he comes home. Truly though I though I might watch a smidge of the actual thing live.

I really didn't notice the time had flown while I watched missed episodes of a couple ABC shows on their website. And once I started checking blogs and saw this I have to admit my first, jaded thought was, "Huh. I was counting on the kitties to fart cotton candy today." My second thought was lacking sarcasm and went something like,"Thank the gods it went off smoothly. Riots are bad. Here's hoping the populace remembers that President Obama is human and will try to do his best in office."

At that point everything devolved back into the used stream of conscious that in normally floating around my brain. Bits about really needed to change out of pjs (it's my lazy day today), cursing myself for forgetting to goo Castor's ear this morning, needing to somehow get to the store, wondering what on Earth I will fix for dinner, wishing I could hear Hugh Laurie speaking in his real voice (same goes for the new, red-headed actor on Grey's Anatomy)...

Nothing feels overly special and different. We have different politician in office today than we did yesterday. So far he hasn't done anything official to impress or depress me. I will admit after the last 8 years it will be hard to depress me further, but there is always something underneath rock bottom. Usually magma.

I won't say I'm "over" the historic election we had in November. That was great. It was far more meaningful than the first time I was able to vote in a presidential election. But for me, once the actual election is over I really don't feel any (and I use the term loosely) magic. I suppose it's easy for me to say that I don't give a thought to our new leader's race unless someone else mentions it. I've always been funny that way. When you're from a background that is already a living commercial for ketchup and your family is as diverse as neighborhoods in New York, you learn to judge folks on their merits. So I'm waiting to see some merits now. Merits make sparks of hope for me. Hope is what makes me giddy and emotional...that and FH.

So far this is what I'm looking for:

1. A lack of disregard for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution
2. Less government intrution into the private lives of citizens': this includes my stances on gun control, the (hah) war on drugs, and trying to tax people's choice of foods that are technically "unhealthy"..amoung other things
3. Regaining some respect, and keeping it, from other countries who share the planet with us
4. Not getting assasinated... that would create a huge nest of nastiness that I pray we can avoid
5. Getting some real help for public schools
6. Stabilizing framework for social security and healthcare
7. Supporting our military while they are overseas, but also getting them out of conflicts we can avoid... I want to support more living troops and mourn fewer casualties

I'm sure there are more in my head somewhere. I just won't remember them until later. But these 7 seem to be the most important right now since they're the ones I could readily come up with.

I do have one idea that I think should be labelled "pipe dream" rather than hope:
A program designed to forgive governent issued educational loans for people who have earned their degrees and agree to some form of civil service in a program that can utilize their education.

In other words, please sign me up for the forrestry or a park somewhere and give me a break on my loan payments. Hence, "pipe dream." Not going to happen, I know. But neither will I get to have one on one contact with any handsome actors from the British Isles who star in popular FOX and ABC shows and possess sexy voices.

I'm off to medicate a cat and write a check for my loans.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Peer Pressure

Well to make things easier for a friend who is going overseas to fight for our freedom, I made a Facebook profile. Ugh.

I only did it so she can see loads of pictures of things that she'll miss otherwise. Also made sure she knows where this blog is located. Everything is pretty much locked to her.

The other side of the world is a long way away.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Water, water

And I'm thanking the gods that it is not everywhere.

The pipes thawed out and managed to not burst last night. FH and I celebrated by running loads of laundry.

This evening we took a trip to Toulon, IL (middle of nowhere with gorgeous buildings) to visit our friend who rolled her van in November at the nursing home. The core group of artisans from the Rendezvous society had our Christmas in January so she could be included. Dinner was potluck and consisted of dip type things, Italian pulled venison, and plenty of sweets. It was a good time.

I have a splitting headache thanks to the alarms on the outer doors to the facility. Since it's a nursing home they have alarms on the doors to make sure staff know when the inner doors open from the inside. When people come in, the outer doors turn off the alarm. But when you leave and the code isn't entered, the beeping from Hades starts up. It is much better than having grammy with Alzheimer's wandering out into the bitter cold and getting lost. But I wish the "party room" where we were having dinner was further from the exterior doors.

Castor has new medication now. The vet had his Metronidazole and Ranitidine compunded into a goop to spread in his ears. That has gone over much better than the pills. However it's much, much more expensive. Here's hoping the 10-day doses work and he doesn't need refills. He is a bit annoyed with the cold goo in his ears, but as far as FH and I are concerned he can just deal with it. I'm not bleeding and he's still breathing.

I'm going to go find something for this headache and a warm, horizontal surface. Hopefully there will be kitties following me. It's still cold enough that I prefer them to curl up all over me than for them to sleep elsewhere.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bitter Bloody Cold - with editted update

The kittens and I are about to go curl up in the bed with FH. I've been up running water through the washing machine's pipes to make sure they don't freeze again. We have faucets on down the hall in both bathrooms, but the last time a pipe froze it was the cold water line to the laundry. So in the morning I will be doing even more laundry.

I'm wishing the bunnies could reliably curl up with us in the big bed too, since it's colder than normal in the house. Sadly the bunnies would fight each other all night and then run around the house instead of staying where it's warm. Not to mention Tempie is still too fat to properly wash her butt by herself, so ew. It's almost time to give her a bit of a shave soon.

At least the drafts in the front room have been mostly dealt with. We have a large chunk of fleece hanging over the front door and plastic film over the windows. We couldn't get anything over the sliding glass door, but it's not too bad. The office and my craft room are the two coldest rooms in the house.

I feel sorry for FH having to go out in this horrid cold in the morning. He's still got a bit of that cough. We're waiting for him to get paid so we can afford the $50 bill for the new medicine for Castor. The vet is having the drugs compounded into a gel to rub in his ear. I hope it works with only one does. The way things are looking we wouln't be able to afford that as a regular expense. Their special food is bad enough.

Pollux is so easy to pill. I wish his brother was the same way. He gets a pill every other night with very little difficulty. Confetti is sowhere in between the two, but she only has to get a pill before she sees the vet. Tranquillizers are best for her and the vet. The bunnies get liquid medications. That's the easiest thing in the world. Tempie actually think some of her medicines are treats. She will keep licking the syringes after they are empty. We have not had to medicate 'Bert for anything yet. Force feeding him has happened, but not medications.

Anyhow I'm being stared at by a pair of green eyes who want me to make room on my lap for the rest of her. She gets cold easily and likes to burrow under blankets and into laps. If we bother to crawl ot of bed tomorrow I will post the high (hahaha!) that the temperature reaches.

It's less than 12 hours after the original post. The cold water to the washer has frozen. FH is coming home with a space heater to point at the wall. That worked last time. The high right now is -7F. The expected low is -19F. That's without windchill. All the schools are closed. Holly and I are not going gallivanting today as planned as it's too bloody cold and the kids are home. I'm going to go prep things for FH's return and check the faucets at the back end of the house...again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nominclature...sort of

I've been asked to explain the origin of Castor's name. In doing so I will also automatically explain his brother's.

In Greek mythology Castor and Pollux are sons of Leda and Zeus, and brothers of Helen of Troy. They were excellent horsemen and warriors. Pollux was famed for his boxing abilities. After they stole their cousins (Pheobe and Hilaeira), who were already betrothed to other men (Idas and Lynceus), Castor was ambushed and killed by Idas.

Idas met his fate as the twin's enraged father, Zeus, zapped him with a thunderbolt. Pollux killed Lynceus and was given the choice of individual immortality or splitting the gift with Castor. Pollux chose to share with his brother and the two then had a divided existence between Mt. Olympus and Hades.

In Astronomy, they represent the constellation Gemini.

When the boys were born they come out as a pair of twins. But like all twins they had their own personality. We pondered "twin names" from history and mythology along with rhyming names for a while. The obvious sets of famous (or infamous) twins were: Cain and Abel, Romulus and Remus, and Castor and Pollux. The first two sets were rejected for the simple fact that one twin murdered the other. We weren't going to have that cloud hanging over the kittens. So Castor and Pollux were chosen. If one twin were to outlive the other, better it not be because his brother killed him.

Then came the question of which was which. After observing them for a while it became obvious that Castor had very good balance when riding on a person's shoulder and Pollux was the better fighter.

The sad irony of my Castor being so ill has not escaped me. He started out being the weaker kitten in the litter. It doesn't surprise me that we're having such trouble with him now. If something doesn't get figured out soon I'm afraid he will waste away and one morning I will wake up and he will be gone.

The pilling is not working. We even tried crushing them and mixing them in wet food, which is a treat in our house. Last night when we tried the pill gun for the ba-zillionth time he nearly choked to death trying to get out from the towel he was wrapped in. I could feel him loosing air. It was terrifying. Needless to say he is still breathing but it took a while to get him calmed down and the spit cleaned of of his face. After that FH and I decided that we were not going to try using the pill gun again. It's too dangerous for Castor and us. The "10-day trial" of these medicines is now over as far as I am concerned.

The vet either needs to give us medication that can go in his ear or be injected or he only gets pills once a day and they get to attempt to administer them. Maybe if they actually see how bad it really gets we can work harder at finding another solution. Here's hoping there is one.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

No Good Deed

So I took Castor to the vet yesterday in hopes that something could be done about his stomach and bowel issues. The steroid injections were no longer helping and it was time to try something different. However, there is a reason the steroids were injected. When someone tries to pill this cat he turns into a miniature deforestation-machine from the deepest corners of Hell...

His first dose of the two (not one, but 2!) new pills were administered by the vet yesterday morning. I had to grin like an idiot because she actually got to experience the foaming, struggling reaction that I have become accustomed to. I also smiled because neither the vet nor her assistant were injured in the process of pilling him. Always preferable. Have I mentioned that these pills must be given twice a day? No? Well yeah...

So last night with FH's help I managed to get the pills into his mouth. They dissolved rapidly into the "beard of spit" that I mentioned before. Our lovely vet suggested an alternative to the solid pills; crush them and melt them in warm water. Thus enabling them to be squirted into kitty's mouth and harder to reject. Hmm...

So I decided this morning that I would give that a go. FH got out of the warm bed where he was sprawling and helped hold Castor. We didn't even get through the main syringe of water+pill dust when a front foot got loose from the towel and tore into the index finger of my left hand. It actually sunk in deeply and ripped. And his pill-foam nastiness went into the wound. Less than pleasant. Being bitten through an artery was much nicer; cleaner too.

I know I haven't mentioned the list of antibiotics and other drugs that I am either allergic to or have sensitivities to. It's a long list. I had to call the vet and determine what families his pills are in so I could call my pharmacy and have them compare my list with his drugs. Fortunately according to my pharmacist, I only have to worry about the bacterial grossness that live around kitty feet infecting my wound and not an allergic reaction on top of it all.

That being dealt with I finished flushing said wound with water, soap, and alcohol. I then kept pressure on it with a sterile bit of non-adhesive cotton, dug out the Bactine with aloe and some wonderful numbing agent, and bandaged myself up. FH took Castor to the vet's so they could finish the pilling for the day. If I know him, he's going to beg them for drugs that will do the same that are injectable.

Later tonight Castor's getting a pedicure. I'm going to be busy hoping I don't react to the bandage adhesive or develop an infection in the wound. I'm really getting tired of being allergic to everything. Ugh.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cyber House Cleaning

I just uploaded the new changes to my dollhouse miniature website. There is now a whole page of how-to projects that I can add to when I bloody well feel like it as opposed to a new one each month.

I got tired of coming up with new projects each month instead of having the freedom to actually design new things for the store or *gasp* actually work on my own projects.

So now in the "to-do" line up for the rest of the month is:

-finish Benjamin and Anna's birth announcements
- stain and paint the frames for above
-block and frame the wedding sampler that still is sitting around waiting on me
-make and wrap a few birthday gifts for my mini friends back in St. Louis
-wrap the Christmas/Hanukkah gifts for the same mini friends
-finish the cross stitched bread cloth (a chickadee.. for me!)
-finish one un-finished. but "mostly done" miniature project
-make at least two new things for my store

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Yay Science

Well I got my hands on a copy of the Science article about the North American impact theory I mentioned yesterday. Thanks to a professor at my former university for helping get it to me and so quickly too. You rock, Dr. Mormile!

I think they are onto something but for me they haven't presented enough evidence. They only referenced three areas that they took samples from and only two of those had iridium in them. And all three areas were very widespread. They are right about the ways the nano-diamonds form, but really that is not enough proof.

What I would love to see are sampling from more locales and then some correlation with the pollen and other plant remains from the Younger Dryas Boundary. Something like an impact occurs and it messes with the growing cycles and the botanical zones. The pollen would tell us for sure if something wonky happened. And it sure wouldn't be the first time palynology was used in conjunction with larger fossils and samples. Heck, if undergrads and grad students can do that in the middle of the Missouri Ozarks, surely the PhDs on the projects can call a palynologist up for tea, crumpets, and some collaboration.

And if Dr. Kennett or his wonderful colleagues ever see this, I would happily present my creditials and apply to a master's program to be a research-slave, I mean grad student who stares at pollen all day. Of course I'd have to move to Oregon, California, or Arizona unless something could be worked out with someone more local.

'Bert and his Daddy

'Bert ate some of his dinner when FH fed the critters this evening. In fact he ate enough that I opted to not give him the last feeding of the night. I thought it might get too crowded in his tummy and be uncomfortable.

FH continues to improve. He is currently snoozing so deeply that I actually had to make sure he was still breathing.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


The taste of fresh cinnamon bread that completely lacks raisins (the fleas of Satan) is one of the best tastes I've had in a while. The swirl of spice is evenly distributed and generously thick. The crust is delicate and flaky. All things considered, it is the best cinnamon bread I've had in my life. What's even better is I didn't have to bake it! ;-)

The wonderful brothers at St. Benedict's Abbey baked this bread, along with many other types, and offer them for sale via a local farmers' market. The Heritage Farmer's Market doesn't advertise except by word of mouth. They have no website. In fact if you didn't know they were next door to a vet's office in Tazewell County, off of Route 9, between Tremont and Pekin, you would never find them. They sell only foods and crafts that are produced locally. Meats, cheeses, breads, preserves, home-canned vegetables, candles, honey, and even wine from the same abbey.

FH and I took a field trip out there last Saturday and we will be returning. We're almost out of bread... and we'll have cooked up the pork steaks this week. Oh yeah, they have fudge too. Really, really good fudge. The lady makes it with local cream. It's awesome. We brought home some Snickers and Amaretto varieties. I think FH forgot we have it, since the Snickers flavor is still intact.

We were lucky enough to meet one of the brothers from the abbey. He was there with his knitting. He and I talked about good science fiction, baking, Canada (he's Canadian), and hockey. FH gabbed with the owner for a while about everything. They got along great. The owner's wife is the veternarian next door. She and I talked about critters, the benefits of eating locally/organically, and chemical allergies/sensitivites. All in all it was a fun day. I believe we'll be heading back there this Saturday.

Slow Improvements

'Bert is slowly getting to feel better. His guts are still moving, which is great because he never hit a full stasis. I've slowly worked him up to 6 syringes of food a day, with 2 more of water. I want to get 8 to 9 into him each day for a bit but he's just so high strung that I'm purposely taking my time and limiting handling so he's not stressed more. Tomorrow will be our first 8 to 9 day. So far I've had him out twice a day for food and water. We'll see how he handles three times.

FH got wonderful medicine from the doctor on Sunday. He doesn't cough through the night now. Both of us can get sleep now. He actually seems much closer to 100% than he has in weeks.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Paleo Happenings in the News

The Kennetts have finally go around to publishing their work on the theory that a large comet impacted North America during the Ice Age and that caused to the extinction of the megafauna and the collapse of the Clovis culture. A summary and review can be read here. To read the actual article you need a copy of Science magazine, which sadly I don't own.

I've been following this theory as closely as possible without access to a university library or colleagues that work with the Ice Age. I first learned of it when their story was featured on a television show a few years ago.

Until I can either read their publication or put my hands on their evidence and examine it for myself I will be reserving judgment. I will say that when I first heard about their postulate that I did think they might be onto something. I will be trying to locate a copy of Science this week... when I have the car.

I will also say that I'd give my eye teeth to be working with them. I would give almost anything (not FH or my critters or my health) to be there working with them. This kind of work is like the Superbowl for Ice Age paleontologists. The last time something about extinctions was postulated it was the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. Hats off to Alvarez for "T Rex and the Crater of Doom." Yes, that's a real book. It's very well written and factual. More about the science and less about the scientist...unlike some more recent books. *cough* Gorgon! *cough*


Just got off the phone with a friend who's trying to locate a copy of the article via our university, where he still happens to work. He has also been following the television spots. Huzzah for scientific cooperation!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sick bunny and bunnydaddy

Albert Wilbert is feeling a bit under the weather. From the looks of things he's probably working on a bit of a hairball. I'm guessing nobody brushed him while I was so sick after Thanksgiving... I know I didn't have the strength to hold him then.

So since it's Saturday/Sunday and the best rabbit vet is 200+ miles away, we're administering canned pumpkin mixed with banana baby food via syringe and forcing extra water. If I don't like the feel of his skin tomorrow (too loose) we're going to give him some sub-q fluids... that shouldn't be necessary though. Thankfully we've been through the mill with our other bunny to the point that our vet back in St. Louis loaded us up with various things to create a lapine critical care hospital in our living room and the knowledge about giving fluids and force feeding.

From the looks of the litterbox his kidneys and bladder are functioning well. It's just his bowels that are not their usual selves. The last time this happened two rounds of force feeding is all it took to set him straight. I'm hoping that works this time around. Otherwise I may have to somehow get the two of us to St. Louis.

FH has a nasty cough that is sounding drier and more painful by the day. He's coughed his back out and I'm starting to try and use logic to persuede him to see a doctor. Apparently the pain he's currently in still isn't enough to get him to see reason...not even when added to the guilt of keeping me up at night with the coughing. I'm wondering if he will be sick enough tomorrow that I can load him up into the car and drive to the nearby Urgent Care place. That's what it took the last time he was sick.

I'm going to go collapse and see if I can get to Holly's in time tomorrow to let her dog out before he has an accident in his kennel. It's been a long day.

Maybe if I get some sleep I can blog about the awesome market that sells only locally produced food, including fresh bread made by the monks at the nearby abby.

Friday, January 2, 2009

My Bling is Back!

After months of looking for a local jeweler who would actually do the work himself and not ship it elsewhere, my wedding ring is repaired! There was a bezel behind the stone that came loose and the stone was threatening to fall out and vanish. So I had been unable to wear it for a while. We dropped it off right before Christmas and I picked it up today.

I have to admit I'm not found of seeing the prongs through the stone, but for the moment I know it's staying put. And I will be wearing it lots again.

I also had my hair trimmed and styled today. My friend, Holly, and I went out for a "girl's day" with her daughter. We all had our hair done, got lunch at a local restaurant, and went shopping. I'm not normally one for shopping but Tractor Supply, Hallmark, and a local shop called "Primitive At Heart" are favorite places of mine. We also swung into Bergner's so I could see some earrings Holly was telling me about. They have realistic leaves on them... I might have to get a pair.

I was restrained while shopping. I bought some Christmas ornaments that were marked down from Primitive At Heart and got FH a blaze orange Carhart hoodie from Tractor Supply that is lined heavily and was marked down. I saw many other things that I wanted but told myself no. If he wasn't going hunting again tomorrow I'd have passed on the Carhart. His current orange just is not heavy enough for this region. It worked when we lived in the Missouri Ozarks but not so much here.

Speaking of which he brought home some meat yesterday. The hide is sitting on top of my deep freeze in the garage, covered in salt. The cats really, reall, REALLY want to know what is through the door that smells so good. He's going to try a natural tanning method that he read about on the PaleoPlanet forums. We use everything from an animal that he brings home. I wouldn't have married him otherwise. ;-)