Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Shadow 1989-2004

This picture of Shadow was taken on Christmas Day, 2001. Posted by Hello

The past day or so has been a sad time for me. My cat, Shadow, was put to sleep yesterday. He had lymphoma for several years, but it has been well under control, due to medication. He even went to the vet two weeks ago and the vet didn't find anything. Since that visit, a mass developed in his abdomen. The vet didn't think that he would have survived surgery. I know I should be happy that he lived as long as he did with the lymphoma, but it's still very difficult.

Shadow had an unusual personality, in part because he had many characteristics that were similar to a dog's.
Before he became deaf, he would come when he was called. He would walk alongside you. He would usually greet me as I pulled my van into the driveway. He even drooled. Perhaps it was because he grew up with my previous dog, Merlin.

In his youth, he also exhibited somewhat psychotic behavior. He would be very loving one minute and viciously attack the next. When he was quite young, I remember his dangling from my arm and my dad had to remove him. Fortunately, I often wore long velour sleeves during the winter in those days. He actually stopped attacking me when he was quite young, but he still considered my mom to be fair game and would occasionally do things like sink his teeth into one of her ankles as she was walking by.

The nicest thing about Shadow was that he really liked me, perhaps more than any other pet that I've owned. When I lived in Durham, we once had a huge thunderstorm and as I left the house in that afternoon, he crawled out from underneath one of our cars and crawled into my lap. He was just the teeniest kitten, much too young to be outside without his mother. When I came back later, he did the same thing. When I went in the house, he sounded as if he were a human frantically wailing to get in. It was almost a scream. Of course, despite already having three other cats and a dog, I was reduced to tears. I had to keep him! We were moving to Hillsborough, so my mom and I took him to the house, because we weren't sure how well such a tiny kitten would be able to fend off the other cats. We put up Lost Kitten signs and no sooner did we get to Hillsborough (which seemed much farther from Durham at the point), one our neighbors called to say "she" was hers. We drove back and talked to her. She was an elderly lady whose children insisted she take one of the kittens from their litter. Instead of keeping him inside until he was old enough, she just let him outside immediately.
Fortunately, she saw how much Shadow, who was plastered to my lap, liked me and suggested that I keep him. I was overjoyed.

Right now, I'm watching Duke basketball on tv and I'm reminded how Shadow used to sit in top of our television and bat at Bobby Hurley with his paws. I will miss him a great deal.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Carolina Designer Craftsmen and Turkey Spaghetti

Yesterday, I went to the Carolina Designer Craftsmen show, at the fairgrounds in Raleigh. It's held every Thanksgiving weekend and I've gone every year for at least ten years, with the exception of one year when I had the flu. The craftspeople that exibit there have exceptional work. I did a lot of Christmas shopping for myself and others. I've run out of things I absolutely need for the house, so I decided to ask my parents for things I wanted from CDC for my birthday and Christmas.

I knew I wanted a piece by Lawrence Favorite, who works with ironwood and inlays it with turquoise. It's a striking combination. I also always get earrings made by Janet Harriman and Nell Chandler. All of those artists are such nice people and I enjoy talking to them every year. I also picked out raku vases from people I'd never bought from before, Phil Chapman and Andy Smith. I picked out a wood turned vase made out of spalted pecan, by Darrell Rhudy. The Smith vase is gray with a lemon yellow striped pattern. Chapman, who was new to the show, sold me a vase that was crackled with a gradation of gray and beige.

I did fairly random stuff today, but I did make spaghetti with leftover turkey, for dinner. I added three small tomatoes, turkey cut up in small pieces, diced leftover garlicky French beans, basil, black pepper and just a little orange peel. I should have either served the meat and vegetables separately and not tossed it with the pasta or made a smaller amount of pasta. It didn't seem like enough stuff to go with a pound of pasta. I could have made more turkey and veggies, of course.

Friday, November 26, 2004


Well, yesterday was Thanksgiving. JJ and JA came over, which was quite a treat. I made a lemon meringue pie, rolls, and cranberry sauce. Wednesday night, I made our traditional lime jello with crushed pineapple, cream cheese and pecans. My mom made the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and garlicky green beans. JA brought Thai pumpkin soup and candied yams. It was way too much food, which is ideal on Thanksgiving.

The pie turned out great, considering it was my first pie. The rolls were also much better, or at least more normal this time. After making so much pizza dough, I've learned that I may need to add extra flour to get it to the right consistency. More importantly, I've learned what the right consistency is. I also liked making the jello, since it was pretty easy. The cranberry sauce was pretty easy, too, actually. The pie was a little more challenging, particularly the pie filling.

One of the problems that I've had with making dough, including cookie dough, is that thick dough in my Kitchenaid mixer causes the bowl to rotate on its screw on base. It's to such a degree that I find it impossible to get it off. Even my dad had difficulties yesterday. I've googled and haven't been able to find a solution to this problem, but I'm considering adding some sort of lubrication to see if that helps.

It really was fun having JJ and JA over. It's always much nicer to have guests on Thanksgiving, so it seems more like a holiday. I love JA's soup, too. I don't generally like orange vegetables in dishes, but his pumpkin soup is a wonderful exception. I, for example, am not willing to eat yams, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, cooked carrots or butternut squash (with the exception of butternut squash ravioli). It's no wonder my night vision is lousy. Raw carrots are fine, as are carrot cake and pumpkin bread.

The weather was interesting yesterday, too. Early in the morning, we had a storm that just sort of flew through. One minute there were partly cloudy skies and the next, it was black overhead. It was gone quickly as it came. The rest of the day was extremely windy with deep blue skies and puffy white clouds as the temperature dropped precipitously.

Today, as soon as I got dressed, I immediately started washing dishes. In just a few hours, I had most of them tackled. By then I was pretty exhausted.

Tonight, my parents and I went to Taverna Nikos for dinner. I had shrimp with spinach fettucine and spinach leaves in a lovely cream sauce. The shrimp were just perfect. For dessert, I had a bowl of rice pudding. D was our waiter and he commisterated with us on the election results.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I finally have a clock radio!

Yesterday, my mom went to CostCo and picked up the Sony ICF-CF863V. The anxious decision making is over. The good thing is that it sounds great! I'm extremely pleased with it. It worked, too. I got up at 6:30 am, which used to be my usual time when I lived with my parents. It was easy with the radio blaring in the bathroom. Unlike turning off my old alarm clock, it's a little difficult to go to another room and turn it off without waking up. I got to work an hour earlier (which makes sense, given that I've been getting up around 7:30). I felt better, too, because I didn't doze off a few times due to snoozes or resetting my alarm.

Still no word on the replacement of my Frigidaire washing machine, which has been deceased about about 6 weeks now...

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Juggling Evening and the Benson Hamfest

Had I written a few days ago, I would have complained about my coffee pot user error, whined about nicking the wall in my bedroom wtih a wicker stool and described observing an unoccupied car burning along the side of the Durham Freeway. Those calamities are so last week.

Instead I will tell you about my weekend. Last night, GM, AE and JH came over. First we had lots of fun practicing juggling. I even think there is hope for me. It just might be possible for me to learn to juggle. I might want to consider practicing more than twice a month, though. It really is a lot of fun, even if you're not very good experienced. We ate two pizzas from the new Papa John's in Hillsborough. I called for delivery and they actually found my house, which is pretty amazing. Afterwards, we ate macaroons that I baked yesterday afternoon. Finally, we watched two episodes of Keeping Up Appearances and two Alfred Hitchcock shorts 0n AE's DVDs. The coolest thing is that I found out that JH, too, is a ham radio operator! That's two hams that I've become friends with before finding out they were hams.

The other such ham, HC, had been encouraging me to go to the Benson Hamfest, a.k.a. JARSFest. So, I got up at 5am this morning in order to be in Benson a little after 8am. Note that Benson is at the intersection of I-40 and I-95, way south of Raleigh, in Johnston County. Fortunately I did get a chance to talk to HC a while at the hamfest and wander around. It's pretty crowded in their indoor area, but the tailgating outside was fantastic in today's beautiful weather. I got to chat with several hams that I hadn't seen in a while. The sad news was that Communications Headquarters, a Wilmington, NC based ham radio equipment retail store, is going out of business.

In other news, I still have not picked out a clock radio. I am debating between the Sony ICF-CD843V and the Sony ICF-CD863V.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Tilapia Radio

This weekend, I've been looking on-line for a clock radio. I had no idea how difficult this would be. All I really want is a good sounding stereo AM/FM receiver with dual alarms and a battery backup. I would also prefer that it last several years. This is not something that is easy to find. I guess I'm also hoping that it not cost a fortune. Generally it seems that if you want decent basic features, then you also have to get it with a CD player. It's like shopping for a nightlight and ending up with a refrigerator. I'm just going to have to sleep on this and hope that I'm motivated enough to wake up and buy it another day. The idea is that I want to put this in the bathroom so I have to actually get up in order to turn it off. I also want to be able to enjoy the music while I'm getting ready in the mornings. Perhaps that will help with the motivation, too.

I unpacked boxes most of the day and then cooked dinner for my dad. My mom wasn't hungry. In case you're wondering, she said that she wasn't hungry before we decided not to go out to eat. I cooked a pot of rice and baked three tilapia filets with basil, lots of minced garlic, celery and tomatoes. I was actually extremely pleased with the way it turned out. The celery and tomatoes seem to have kept the temperature down, so it had to stay in an extra four minutes. Next time I might add more tomatoes.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Treasured Pancakes

I feel like blogging and, therefore, I should probably blog. Then I can clean and unpack boxes. Then I can look over the code that I want to look over sometime this weekend, since I don't think I fully absorbed it yesterday. There.. Now I have my priorities in (reverse) order.

Wrong. It was necessary to feed the birds and squirrels once more before blogging.

There were two major exciting events this week. Last Sunday I made thin pancakes with my dad and on Thursday night I went to see National Treasure.

Before time began (sometime before I was born), my dad came up with a recipe for quasi crepe pancakes. They are plate sized, or more accurately, bottom of the frying pan in diamter and two to three millimeters thick. To give you an idea, they have a dozen eggs in them, per three to four servings or ten pancakes. I'd be happy to e-mail readers the recipes for anything I've mentioned, by the way. In fact, I still need to send the mocha cake recipe to KB. Dad's pancakes are great, because they can be served with syrup or filled with fresh fruit and real whipped cream. They would also be good with anything else inside, such as chicken and gravy or salmon and cream sauce. They are a little tricky to flip without tearing, so I really appreciated my dad's help. I also added the last ten eggs to the batter all at once, when I should have either added them while the mixer was going or at least mixed after the addition of each egg. If I dothat, it should be easier to get out the lumps next time.

JR, at work, gave me four free passes to go to a sneak preview of National Treasure on Wednesday night. Although I'd heard about other friends of mine going to see movies with free passes, I'd never tried it myself, so I was definitely curious. I invited CL, JL and JL's dad to go with me. I rushed over after work to JL's office and CL picked up food from Wendy's and then we ate quickly before heading over the Wynnsong, in Durham.
It was also cool getting to meet JL's father for the first time after hearing so much about him.

There weren't many people in the theatre, except for those who were waiting in line to see National Treasure. Apparently, they always give away more passes than people will fit in the theatre to ensure that it's full.
I'm not entirely sure why they have these sneak previews except for the possibility that they are trying to seed the word-of-mouth advertising or perhaps it's so they can sell concessions on an otherwise off night.
In any case, I really enjoyed the movie. It was produced by the same people that did Pirates of the Caribbean and it definitely had a similar flow in that it was faced paced and fairly funny at times. I often like movies with Nicholas Cage in them, but there are some exceptions. Overall, I do recommend the film and would be happy to see it again. Surprisingly, I think that's true for several of the movies I've seen lately.

Today my mom picked up food from the Q-shack. Every time I hear the name of the place, I think of an altered B-52's song. Unfortunately, they have stopped making my cherished fried pies. They only make cobbler now and, for some reason, my mom decided that I didn't like cobbler. I have no idea why, but it's probably for the best, because I just put a full four cup container of leftovers in the refrigerator. I have this feeling that after half of a loaded baked potato, hush puppies and onion rings, I'm not going to be anywhere close to hungry at dinner time.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

A Rough Week

I've intended to post something all week that would sum up the feeling angst that many of us now feel. I know I am not the only one who had to display heroic levels of self restraint when encountering gleeful Republicans at the office or resist the urge to incite road rage in the drivers of pickups sporting "W" stickers in combination with disrespectful American flag waving during the morning commute. Or perhaps you don't even have a morning commute anymore.

People, such as Michael Moore, have encouraged us to look on the bright side or at least not to slit our wrists. At *least* 55, 949, 407 people voted for Kerry. That's quite a few. Only (at least) 115, 409, 172 people voted all together. That means, using 2000 census figures, (at most) 166, 012, 734 didn't vote. Why? Some of those people think that the fight is fixed, so why bother. Some of those people probably didn't register in time.
Some of those people couldn't get to the polls easily. Did the people who benefit from Meals on Wheels get to vote? Are all the polling places accessible to everyone? If there are people who just don't care, then why? Why are the voting mechanisms different in some states from others? If voters in Oregon get their ballots by mail, then shouldn't we all? Shouldn't black box voting be abandoned? Obviously there are questions still to be answered and more work to be done. If, in the worse case, it is fixed, then something needs to be done about it.

There won't be a major election for a while and people will keep dying in Iraq, the environment will be damaged and kids in our schools will be educated about creationism while we wait for another chance. I realize that the obvious solution is to round up the 59,459,765 Bush voters (Guantanamo style) and hold them in a containment area in close proximity to the US's leaking chemical weapon stockpiles. I'm afraid that it's probably *not* an option.

Many people simply are not aware of what is going in the world around them. In most people's cases, all they have time to do is watch the news. That's what I do. I try to at least make sure I watch every new episode of the Daily Show. Given that news media is influenced by their corporations or they feel threatened enough not to report the news at all, simply watching the news does not provide people with an adequate sense of their surroundings. It is vitally important that you try to educate these people by explaining what you have read in books, foreign newspapers and, yes, on the net. There are so many reputable resources available that you should have no trouble backing up your arguments. I have even run into many progressive friends who don't know about all the activities of the neocons, so it's important to make sure that they are on top of things as well.

What else can you do? Hit them in the only place they care about, their pocketbooks. I know that the five or so people who read my blog regularly will be something like the nibble of a dustmite, but every little bit helps.
Check out boycottbush.net, which, somewhat surprisingly, is a British site. There are other good links on there, too. Sometimes choosing products or businesses based on the candidates they support is impractical, but if enough people choose wisely at least part of the time, it will make a difference.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Halloween and Election Eve

Yesterday was Halloween. The excitement began when my dad and I went to the American Tobacco Historic District to hear the Durham Community Concert Band. I went because both GM and AE play in it. Knowing the musicians always makes concerts more fun. For added entertainment, GM dressed up as a werewolf, complete with furry hands and socks. AE had bright green hair! It's funny that I knew the only people dressed up out of 55 people.

Afterwards, I went over to JJ and JA's place to hang out while the Trick'r'Treaters came by steal candy. I've never seen so many in my life. They easily had 500 kids. It obviously helps to live in a closely packed urban neighorhood. It was amazing. Amongst the many spidermen, Tiggers, unidentified costumes and princesses, there were two very cool groups. There were two girls together and one of them was a weapons inspector and the other was a bomb. The inspector was looking around everywhere with a magnifying glass. The bomb said "Vote for Bush!" The inspector said, "No, don't tell them that!" The bomb said, "Oh! That's right! Vote for Kerry, because he's the bomb." We gave them extra candy. There were also 12-15 teenage pirates that had a huge chest and implied that they were going to take all our candy. Instead of taking the offered three pieces for each of them, they said they would take 60 each, but they just took a single handful for the whole group. Their costumes were very well done, too. It was a beautiful night for Halloween and we just sat on their front porch, eating cheese and crackers while the kids grabbed candy. One girl wanted one of our crackers and seemed very excited about getting one.

I made calls for the Kerry PhoneCorps again this evening. I actually signed some people up! It was very exciting, indeed. Unfortunately, it said that the call center was closed at 9pm, when I could have kept calling time zones to the west of here. It's definitely let me call later than that before, so that's really odd.

If you haven't voted already, please vote tomorrow. If you're still undecided, just go to the polling place and think, "What would Lenore do?" Vote accordingly.