Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Formal apology

Once upon a time, I looked upon personal watercraft (Jet-ski's, Sea-Doo's, etc) with scorn and disdain.

After seeing this image, I've changed my mind. I hereby retract every negative statement I've ever said about Jet-Skis.

Pain all around

These are the National Guard troops that my husband's unit is replacing in Iraq right now. Steve says it was awful and weird to watch the hurricane coverage in a room full of people whose hometowns were being wiped out.

I talked to my friend Monique this morning. She's from Metairie (New Orleans suburb) but lives up here now, her husband having enlisted after 9-11. Most of her family is safe, but she's waiting to hear from 3 sets of great-aunts/uncles in the Gulfport area. They refused to leave their homes.

If you haven't done so already, please consider making a donation to Red Cross or Salvation Army.

Military Appreciation Day at Old McDonald's Farm in Sackets Harbor, NY

Tomorrow, (August 31st) Old McDonald's Farm in Sacket's Harbor will have a military appreciation day. With a military ID, admission will be $2.50. This will include a dairy barn tour, tractor ride, and popcorn for the goats.

It's supposed to rain pretty heavily tomorrow (remnants of Katrina) so I doubt that we'll be going - but I just wanted to put this information out there for the North Country readers.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

More dire predictions

Here is a more detailed model of the worst case scenario for New Orleans.

The monster approaches

I've been glued to the live streaming video from the CBS affiliate in New Orleans. I'm astounded by the composure that the anchors are showing.

Last October, I picked up a copy of National Geographic. There was an article about Louisiana's diminishing wetlands. The article described the risk that New Orleans could face if a strong hurricane ever struck. It's frighteningly prescient. God help them.

Worst case scenario

I'm watching a live feed from WWL in New Orleans. Things are looking pretty grim for Southeast Louisiana, and especially for New Orleans. At this point, Hurricane Katrina is at Category 5 status, headed straight for New Orleans. I hope that everyone can get out of there.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Travelogue - dinosaurs and boa constrictors and giant beavers, oh my!

Yesterday, the conditions were auspicious for a day trip to Southeastern Ontario. With a tote bag full of healthy breakfasty-type foods and juices, and a big mug of herbal tea, we set out on Rte. 37 and crossed the border at Ogdensburg, NY. A quick stop at the travel information centre on the Ontario side of the border yielded a treasure trove of goodies, including a booklet chock-full of kid-friendly attractions. As we proceeded to our first intended spot, Prehistoric World in Morrisburg, my son flipped through the booklet for more ideas.

This was our third visit to Prehistoric World. The owners, Paul and Serge Dupuis, are brothers with a life-long passion for paleontology. They have transformed their back yard into a trail through time, with over 50 life-sized, poured concrete statues depicting various dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. They don't do any marketing, but are content with the amount of business generated by repeat visitors and word-of-mouth.

My son, the little paleontology professor, charmed other visitors with his knowledge of dinosaurs. I've picked up some of that knowledge by osmosis (and 2 million readings of books like Oh Say Can You Say Dinosaur.) I found myself cringing when I overheard other visitors mispronouncing stryacosaraus and - even worse - calling dinosaurs "Littlefoot" and "Longneck" à la the Land Before Time movies. It's official, I'm a paleontology snob now.

Here's William, unwisely getting between a Triceratops and a Tyrannosaurus Rex:

And, bravely standing beneath a Baluchitherium, the largest land mammal ever known.

After checking in with all of the extinct creatures, we headed north on Highway 31 towards Ottawa. In flipping through the aforementioned booklet, William found an advertisement for Little Ray's Reptile Zoo. By a staggering coincidence, it was right along the way, so we added a bonus stop to our itinerary. I'd like to say, up front, that I did not scream, faint, or even hyperventilate in the presence of some very large reptiles. I even touched a king snake, a boa constrictor, and tokay gecko, but I drew the line at allowing a tarantula to sit on my hand. May I have a cookie now?

Little Ray's is located in a converted strip mall on the south side of Ottawa. The vast majority of its reptiles are rescued pets - snakes, caimans, lizards, and iguanas abandoned when the novelty wears off. I can't understand such thoughtlessness.

Here's William petting a tokay gecko,

and a boa constrictor.

After washing our hands and shaking off the heebie-jeebies, we were off to the Ice Age Mammals exhibit at the Museum of Nature. It wasn't as extensive as I had hoped, but it was still very nice.

My cousin, V, was wondering how big the giant beaver was. About this big, is the answer:

Our final destination was Mecca:

I bought a new mirror for the bathroom, and feasted upon Swedish meatballs:

Good to the last artery-clogging drop!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Autumn approaches ...  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Quilt of valor - finally completed! This is a "square within squares" pattern. The center pieces came from a wildlife panel I found at Joann's. The quilt will be sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Hopefully, it will provide comfort to a wounded soldier. Hopefully, I won't know the recipient. I know that sounds selfish, or perhaps even bizarre. It took me a long time to make this quilt. It wasn't technically difficult by any stretch of the imagination, but my psyche could only withstand brief periods of work on the quilt. Posted by Picasa

Back of quilt  Posted by Picasa

The problem with a 24-hour news cycle.

I'm feeling a little bit twittery these days. My husband is somewhere between Kuwait and Camp Liberty right now. Communication is spotty, and I'm not inclined to go out and about until I've received news that he is safely ensconced at Liberty. Yesterday, I went back and forth between the computer and the quilt I'm working on, obsessively checking my email and the news. There was no email from Steve, but there were plenty of interesting things on the news.

The Canadian media was abuzz yesterday after The Sun media conglomerate published some sensational stories and pictures revealing the whereabouts of Karla Homolka. The papers proclaimed that she was violating at least two conditions of her parole. Oh, her hair is red and she has a dog, now, too. It's in the paper, so it must be true, right?

Except that this information comes courtesy of a petty crook who wrote no less than 20 letters to Homolka's lawyer, requesting that Karla work at his store upon her release from Joliette. Now, why would he go and do a thing like that?

I'm not terribly concerned about Karla Homolka's whereabouts or welfare. Her Karmic fate is pretty much sealed. But chasing her down, and printing the gossip of a crook as if it's gospel truth are unlikely to prevent recidivism in this case.

The rest of the world seemed fixated on allegations that Lance Armstrong was doping. Urine samples preserved from the 1999 TdF indicate that Lance had been taking EPO. Six years ago, the testing was not sophisticated enough to detect EPO use. Now it is.

News flash: Lance did take EPO as part of his recovery from cancer. This was an approved medical use for the drug. It took me all of five seconds to find this information from Google.

It's shameful that the media at large (that means you, Matt Drudge) splashed these sensational headlines on their websites without doing the tiniest bit of research.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Math equation of the day

74.09 x 12 = 889.08

The TV died one year ago. I opted not to replace it, and I cancelled the digital cable. We've saved nearly $900 as a result.

48 hours without coffee ..

.. unless you count the Coffee Crisp I just pulled out of the freezer. I savoured every bit of it and licked the wrapper too. For my non-Canadian friends, a Coffee Crisp is Canada's gift to the world of chocolate bars. Y'all need to sign this petition so that you, too, can enjoy this dreamy concoction.

The chest flutters seem to have disappeared. Merde. Coffee was my last vice.

Oh, and dear family of mine - why didn't you tell me that there is a limited edition Maple Coffee Crisp out right now? Please start building a stash immediately!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Be on the lookout for a second moon

Sit down. This news will be a shock.

I have quit drinking coffee. Cold turkey.

The beautiful, shiny Cuisinart has been retired to the basement.

It's true. Miniature Rose, she of the "they can have my coffee when they pry the mug from my cold dead fingers" has placed herself of a strict regimen of water, tomato juice, and herbal tea.

The martini clinical trials have come to an abrupt end, as well.

This morning, while surfing and enjoying a cuppa, I felt a weird fluttering in my chest. Then I felt it again .. and again .. and again. Just a fluttering - no pain, no nausea, no dizziness, no tachycardia. Strange.

A quick google search pointed to caffeine and alcohol as possible culprits. Magnesium and potassium deficiencies are also likely possibilities. Eliminating my daily cup pot of coffee and thrice-weekly martini, and being vigilant about taking the calcium-magnesium-zinc supplement are my first steps to trying to correct this situation. Given that I've been gorging myself on tomatoes, fresh off the vine, it's highly unlikely that I am deficient in potassium.

Yes, Mom, I hear you saying why didn't you go to the clinic??? Well, our clinic is closed for a training holiday today, for starters. More importantly, it's highly likely that the ~ahem~ professionals at the clinic would fixate on the fact that Steve left precisely one week ago, pat me on the head, and send me home with a bottle of xanax or valium. No, thank you.

Sniff. Bye-bye, coffee, my dear old friend.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

My great-grandfather's grave. Haliburton, Ontario. Posted by Picasa

Barn cat, Warkworth, Ontario Posted by Picasa

Catch of the day. That elusive northern pike failed to keep his appointment with me, and sent his underlings (fingerlings) to greet me instead. Next time ... Posted by Picasa

My faithful companion, waiting patiently while I fish. Posted by Picasa

Did she make it? HELL YEAH!!! Vicki Keith made it!!! Seventy-seven kilometres of butterfly stroke - that's a record. More than 64 continuous hours in the water - that's a record too. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 15, 2005

Gone fishin'

A universal truism: when the soldier deploys, that frigging Murphy guy with his stupid law comes a-knocking on the family's door. I've learned to have the coffee ready for Mr. make-stupid-stuff-happen-just-to-provide-distraction. This time around, the crise du jour is a stinky dog. Fortunately, it was my dog - Chocolate the wundermutt - who had a relatively close encounter with a skunk, rather than the doxies. And fortunately, my friends at A Doggie Doo Pet Care Center have a wide array of shampoos and potions to remove eau de PePe LePeu. The dog smells pretty again, and Mr. Murphy can go find someone else to annoy.
And with that, we're off to Prince Edward County. I have an appointment with a certain northern pike in Lake Consecon. Catch you on the flip side!


Vicki Keith should be starting her swim right about now. This time, she's staying close to the shore, aiming to swim (in butterfly) from Point Petre, near Picton, to Kingston. My son and I are headed in that general direction sometime today, and hopefully we'll catch a glimpse of her.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

More doxieblogging. I can't help myself. Check out those ears! Doxies' human returns tomorrow, so we'll be down to our usual slew of 1 dog, 3 cats and 2 fish.  Posted by Picasa

Leibling Posted by Picasa

Shotzie Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 12, 2005

Day one of 365+

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I expect that this Service Flag will be quite faded by the time my husband comes home again. Special thanks go out to Marilyn for dropping by to check on us, and to Valerie and M&D for calling today. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 11, 2005

More on that Air France lawsuit

A Toronto Star columnist, known as Slinger, has penned a tongue-in-cheek piece about the $75 million class action suit filed in the wake of "The Miracle at Pearson." Touche.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blogged for posterity more than anything else

My quirky son could tell you that there are 47 species of lemurs in Madagascar. Me, I'd have to look that kind of thing up. It's sad, sad, sad, when your eight year old is smarter than you.
But LO! and BEHOLD! Tonight I can trump my son, because I now know that two new species of lemur have been discovered, raising the total to 49.
Okay, I can trump him only because I found this news story after he went to bed. But for the next 8 hours, I can gloat a little.

Oh! Oh! Over here!

I have about 2 acres that need mowing!

Try as I might, I cannot avoid the news that The Runaway Bride had to cut some grass as part of her community service. With a bagging, self propelled Husqvarna lawn mower, no less. Big whoop. I saw nine-year old Amish girls cutting grass with a rotary mower in Lancaster County.

My cranky Husqvarna Tractor is refusing to start. AGAIN. So Ms. Wilbanks, feel free to c'mon up here and help me out!

Failing that, does anyone have a few goats or sheep I can borrow?

And so it begins

1st Brigade starts shipping out. Warm thoughts appreciated.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

What's better than a dachshund? TWO dachshunds! Shotzie and Leibling are staying with us this week. How cute are they? Posted by Picasa

Batboy - aged 8 years, one day Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Let the ugliness begin

It wasn't enough for the crew of Air France Flight 358 to implement their emergency training with superb precision, and evacuate all passengers from the ill-fated aircraft in under two minutes. The investigation into the cause of the crash has just begun, the flames have barely been extinguished, and already, the first class action lawsuit, to the tune of $75 million CDN has been filed.

Dessert part one

My homage to Martha Posted by Picasa

Dessert part two

Spiderman cupcakes for our little hero Posted by Picasa

Happy Birthday!

Happy 8th Birthday, Bat Boy! We love you! Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 05, 2005

Packing Day .. trying out Daddy's helmet Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A little math on a Thursday evening

Tom Selleck plus Lunenburg, Nova Scotia equals delightful fodder for daydreaming. I'm just saying.
PS - Valerie, I believe this constitutes the fourth sign that you need to get your talented butt back behind the camera.

Quote of the day

"When, Lord, when will Rex Murphy get to be Governor General?"

My husband, in response to the news that Michaëlle Jean will be Canada's next Governor General.

And with that, I just sent my sainted mother into a fit of apoplexy. I'll bring you some rum on my next visit, Mom.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Happy Birthday, Martha!!

Today is Martha Stewart's 64th birthday. May you celebrate many, many more!

Full marks for effort, anyway

It wasn't meant to be. Vicki Keith had to end her Lake Ontario swim as a result of 2 metre-high waves. Even slight waves throw my lake swims completely off their mark .. and I can't even do the butterfly stroke. Vicki Keith still rocks.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Go Vicki!

This morning, a 44 year old lady went for a dip in Lake Ontario.
She's still swimming.
She's going to swim from Oswego, New York, to Kingston, Ontario. That's over 50 miles/80 km.
Oh, and she's doing the butterfly stroke the entire way.
You rock, Vicki Keith!

Damn! How do they bypass Hotmail's filters?

Just got an email, supposedly from Paypal .. another phishy email. Sneaky bastards, I'm onto them now.

All together now ... Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 01, 2005

I am married to Worf

Is this description not apt?
You appear tough and cold, but deep inside you are a hopeless romantic and highly motivated by your emotions and sense of honor and ethics.
Yup, that's my warrior.

Wish I had Troi's hair ...

Good to know

Strange. My husband just got an email from a bank he'd never heard of, saying that there had been some unusual activity on his account. Stranger still, the email went to his hotmail inbox, and not to the junk mail folder. A quick search revealed that this was an attempt at phishing.
Here is a good website to check before following any link in an email.
Spammers are slimy, and there's a special place in hell for them.

I am thrilled to announce ..

Take the Star Trek Quiz

Ha! Made you look!

Here's the description: Always in control, you are a great leader, deligator, and diplomat. These qualities attract people to you, and this sometimes annoys you.

Aloof, introspective, and philosophical; you enjoy quiet time in solitude.

Feel free to comment if you know me in real life.

And for the last time, Steve, Picard is the superior Captain. Get over it.