Sunday, December 31, 2006

Oh, fer Chri -ssssssssssss - sake!

Do I even need to write in complete sentences?

Burmese Python + Florida + Taser.

Albino Python + Florida + Left in closet. Well, credit where credit is due - at least this one wasn't dumped in the Everglades.

Burmese Pythons belong in Burma.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Could you be this forgiving?

A few days ago, a family from Pickering, Ontario, was literally torn apart by a drunk driver.

The St-Denis family had embarked upon a long-awaited and well deserved trip to Florida. They made it as far as Bedford, Pennsylvania, but a drunk in a truck, travelling the wrong way on the interstate, plowed into their minivan. Three members of the family were killed. Only the mother and one adult daughter survived.

Angela St-Denis has forgiven the man who killed her husband and two of her children. She said:

He's a human being. He made a mistake. All I want now is that he never get behind the wheel of a car again.

I wish I could be as noble as Mrs. St-Denis. I would want the driver to be imprisoned for life, with the picture of the family he killed tattooed on his forehead. As far as I'm concerned, he is a murderer.

According for the Centers for Disease Control, 16,885 people in the U.S. died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes in 2005. That's almost 6 times as many victims as the 9/11 attacks. There is absolutely no excuse for drinking and driving. Stay home, take a cab, or abstain from alcohol. Why can't people grasp this simple idea? Why isn't there a "war" on drunk drivers? What will it take to end the carnage?

Monday, December 25, 2006

This is wrong on so many levels but I think I like it anyway

Look at this tenacious little dandelion, popping out to say Merry Christmas, Jefferson County!

It wasn't a white Christmas. It was a green and yellow Christmas. I can't say that I minded, really. After the presents were opened, I enjoyed a brisk and refreshing walk with my four-legged personal trainer.

Then I hung a load of laundry outside.

And watched the chickadees as they gathered a few more sunflower seeds for their winter stash.

Soon, there will be snow. Lots and lots of it, I'm sure.

But perhaps this White Christmas business is just a little overrated.


Fortunately, the chasmosaurus was a herbivore.

Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I want to talk about this, but I don't know what to say

On December 27th, at 9 pm ET/PT, PBS will air a Prime-Time Muppets Special entitled, When Parents Are Deployed. It's aimed at the under-five set - a half-million of whom are waiting for a parent to return from an overseas deployment. That's the largest number since WWII. For many of these little children, particularly those whose parent(s) are Active Duty soldiers on their 2nd or 3rd or 4th tour of Iraq/Afghanistan, this is the only life they've ever known.

My friend M, who teaches at a primary school in this military community, tells me that they are seeing a "difference" in this year's kindergarten cohort. These are the kids who were born in 2001. Their lives are defined by OIF/OEF, by the relentless operation tempo that these deployments demand, by departures and arrivals, and by oceans of tears in between.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


A 48 year old Cincinatti man was strangled by his 4 metre long, pet boa constrictor.

I respect snakes. Around here, there are only garter snakes. My son and I have spent a great deal of time observing these elusive inhabitants of our "back forty." They're actually very pretty, harmless except in self-defense, and incredibly important to the ecosystem. But we don't touch them, and we would never consider taking one out of its habitat and placing it in a glass prison inside our home.

I cannot understand the mentality of someone who would "adopt" a snake, particularly a constrictor. Little Ray's Reptile Zoo in Ottawa is filled to capacity with rescued reptiles - the poor unfortunate creatures who were "adopted" and then abandoned when the reality of owning a large, dangerous animal set in. The delicately balanced ecosystem of the Everglades is being thrown into disarray as a result of a thriving population of Burmese Pythons. No, Burmese Pythons are not native to Florida, but a significant number of former "pets" have been released into the swamp. Having no natural predators in that ecosystem, the population has begun to breed in the wild, and threatens many other species.

Seriously, what is wrong with people?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Whither Zebastian?

Zebastian the Zebra is missing.

No ordinary zebra, Zebastian is brown with black stripes. He disappeared from his pasture in Carrot Creek, Alberta, last week.

The story is strange enough on its own merits, but I have my own special, six degrees of separation spin on it.

I actually know someone who lives in the tiny hamlet of Carrot Creek. A few months ago, an old friend contacted me through Di-Anne has always lived the life of a gypsy, and at this point on her journey, she finds herself in .. wait for it .. Carrot Creek, AB.

It's a small world after all .. but not so small that one cannot lose a zebra in it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Look good in a bikini, save the planet?

A Norwegian businessman wants your love handles.

I can't paraphrase this, so I'll just cut and paste and credit the afore-linked article.

Lauri Venøy wants to use the product created from liposuction to develop bio-diesel.

Bio-diesel can be produced from plant oils and/or animal fat, and the Norwegian sees the scheme as a renewable energy source, newspaper Dagens Nærinsgliv reports.

More than sixty percent of Americans are overweight and the Norwegian's firm in Miami, Florida is in the process of signing an agreement with US hospital giant Jackson Memorial. This deal would give Venøy & Co. around 11,500 liters of human fat a week from liposuction operations, which is enough to produce about 10,000 liters of bio-diesel.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Winter emergency preparations are now complete

Power to the people! After six long years of begging petitioning Nestle to make Coffee Crisp available to the people of the United States of America, the folks at have achieved success! Coffee Crisp bars are now available at Dollar Tree Stores AND from the vending machine at my husband's office AND from the vending machine at the F.X. Caprara Volkswagen Dealership on Outer Washington Street, Watertown.

AND - Jeff Dem will be pleased to learn that Coffee Crisp bars contain no trans fats.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Manhattan: Same state, different planet

I am bemused to note that the two most popular e-mailed stories from today's New York Times hail from the Fashion & Style section. I had read both pieces earlier today, and have been mentally composing blog entries about them all day. In regards to the first article, Woman's Best Friend, or Fashion Accessory? I must ask, what would Cesar Millan say about these toy dogs who are toted around Manhattan in designer purses, dressed in the same haute couture as their humans? Evidently, Cesar's opinion was not solicited, but other trainers "point out that pets are not accessories, and treating them like prize possessions, no matter how well meaning, can deprive an animal of what it needs. 'Socialization, training and exercise are paramount,' said Bash Dibra, a trainer based in New York. 'Otherwise you have a problem.' An overly coddled dog can become territorial and aggressive, Mr. Dibra said. 'Sometimes the dog goes into a rage. It’s not a happy situation.' ”

The second article is about fashion victims - literally! It seems that Manhattan's doctors, chiropractors and massage therapists are working overtime, dealing with back and shoulder injuries caused by the ubiquitous oversized handbags that the fashionistas insist upon toting. While chiropractic adjustments and deep tissue massage seems to temporarily alleviate the pain, the brain damage caused by these gaudy and overpriced satchels appears to be permanent. One massage therapist says that she doesn't bother to advise her clients to stop trying to tote the kitchen sink all over TriBeCa. “It’s like telling a woman, ‘You cannot wear Manolo Blahniks,’ ” she said. “It’s just not realistic.”

Huh? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. One woman even boasts that she has had MRI's and cortisone shots to offset the physical damage caused by her oversized Chanel Tote.

I apologize for the clunkiness of this post. I'm having difficulty because I just don't understand these women. It's hard to believe that Manhattan is only a few hours away from here. It sounds like it's a whole other planet.

Should I be worried?

I see that my blog has had a visitor from the US House of Representatives. Welcome, welcome! Would you like a cup of tea? A cranberry muffin, perhaps? I'm afraid that this humble hausfrau can offer nothing else of great interest or import. So, get back to work, civil servant!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's, like, hard to be a Congress Critter ..

.. especially now that the work week will stretch out to nearly five days!

Poor, poor Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga) was accustomed to flying into DC on Tuesdays, and going back home on Thursdays. Now, he'll have to be in DC by 18:30 on Mondays, and will have to keep working right up until 14:00 on Friday afternoons. He laments that "keeping us here eats away at families. Marriages suffer. The Democrats don't care about families -- that's what this says."

Mr. Kingston, I double-dog-dare you to visit a military community and whine to us about professional duties eating into your family time. For bonus points, go ahead and try out your whiny rant at Fort Wainwright, home of the 172nd Stryker Brigade, who is only now returning from sixteen months, boots on the ground in Iraq.

If Fairbanks, Alaska, is a little too far for you to travel, may I suggest a quick jaunt up Georgia Avenue NW to Walter Reed Army Medical Center? Take a look around, if you can stand it. Then get your priorities in order, and get back to work.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Kickin' it, homeschool style

What homeschoolers do on a snow day, while everyone else is waiting for superintendents to decide between a two hour delay and cancellation of classes in accordance with the "no unnecessary travel" advisory from the sheriff's department.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The joys of simplicity

If you know me in real life, you may be shocked to learn that sometimes I make things more complicated than they need to be.

Case in point: salt. Basic, elemental sodium chloride.

Last Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me a lovely gift pack of various exotic sea salt crystals. It has remained intact and unused for 11 months because I didn't have a salt grinder and couldn't find one that met my standards of form, function and frugality. Not even at IKEA.

Tonight, it finally occured to me that I could simply place a small amount of sea salt on my cutting board and crush it with my rolling pin. Don't worry. I've already smacked my forehead repeatedly.

I combined some Brazilian Sea Salt with a touch of Rosemary Garlic Seasoning and sprinkled it on lamb chops*, which were drizzled with olive oil and then baked at 400F for about 10 minutes.**
My son, who until recently was a very light eater, devoured this dish. He paused only to rub his belly and say "MMMMMM!"

La Vita è bella.

*locally raised and absolutely delicious!

**Don't quote me on that, always use a meat thermometer and not the timer to assess the doneness of your food.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Childhood dream

When I was younger, I used to spend hours looking at National Geographic. I harboured a secret fantasy of becoming a wildlife photographer.

While the Thompson Park Zoo isn't an exotic or challenging locale, it does offer a great opportunity for me to live out my nature stalkarazzi fantasy.

Barred owl, 29 November 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Feline behaviour

One of the things I love about house cats is their strong connection to the larger feline species. They do many of the same things that the big cats do,

like cuddling together between bouts of playfighting,

and tucking their paws under their chests when feeling relaxed.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Insert exasperated sigh and eyerolling here

Hello again, my new internet friends. It looks like there's a bit of a discussion brewing in the comments section of my "Peace On Earth" posting. For some reason, the new blogger beta application won't allow me to remove the comments which I find objectionable. So let me say this: Nazi references and snarky arguments are not welcome here. If you want to indulge in that kind of rhetoric, get your own blog.

To "anonymous" who snarked: Ok. It doesn't offend you. That settles the argument. You are representative of all soldiers' wives, my response is this: I have never claimed to represent any point of view beyond my own. That's why I write in the first person, singular.

We now return to our regularly scheduled pet and photoblogging.

Holy Blog Traffic Jam, Batman!

Greetings to all of my new internet friends, who found my blog via a google search for Bob Kearns/Linda Jensen/Pagosa Springs or some variant thereof. Judging from the twenty-fold spike in visitors to my humble abode on the internets yesterday, I think it's safe to say that Mr. Bob Kearns really stepped in it made an error in judgment.

All is well, though. The Homeowner's Association changed its mind yesterday. The wreath can stay, and the fines have been cancelled.

While I have your attention, I'd like to point out that our soldiers are still being killed and seriously injured on a daily basis in Iraq. Thanks to improved body armour, many soldiers are surviving attacks which would have been deadly in years gone by. But the road to recovery is long and painful. Please consider making a donation to the Fisher House program, which provides a home away from home for the families of the wounded.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Peace on earth, goodwill towards men ..

.. but not for the people who live in a 200-home subdivision in Colorado.

Linda Jensen hung a Christmas wreath with a peace symbol on her door. A few other homeowners in the subdivision complained, including some whose children are serving in Iraq. The president of the homeowner's association, Bob Kearns, ordered the Architectural Control Committee to require Ms. Jensen to remove the wreath. All five members of the committee refused. Mr. Kearns fired them. Ho ho ho, y'all.

As you know, my husband has served in Iraq. Ms. Jensen says she wasn't thinking about the war when she hung the wreath. Even if she was making a political statement with her wreath, I wouldn't take offense. I'd be grateful that someone in America diverted their attention away from American Idol and Britney Spears and Michael Richards' ridiculous rants and the lunacy of Black Friday sales long enough to notice that thousands of American military families and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi families are suffering with no end in sight.

So, Mr. Bob Kearns of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, this is for you:

Edited to add: I'm on the same page as Wil Wheaton. I'm in good company.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A post which proves that I am a perfectly rational and sane dog person

Several months ago, I found myself in a bit of a culinary quandry. I had taken too many packages of ground beef out of the freezer, and needed to use up an extra pound of ground round. A vague idea of homemade dog food floated across my mind, so I cooked up the beef with some brown rice and grated carrots. Lady Chocolate was quite enthusiastic about my little experiment. I discovered that it really wasn't much more expensive than the tinned food I had been feeding her. It was much less hassle to cook up some food for her than to open the tin, mess up a series of spatulas scraping the gelatinous blobs of mystery meat onto her dish, cleaning the cans, and hauling them off to the recycling depot. Further reading into how commercial dog food is made sealed the deal for us.

Friends and family are somewhat bemused by, but generally accepting of, this culinary canine eccentricity of mine. The vet raised an eyebrow upon hearing of this dietary change, then pronounced Chocolate to be a lucky dog. The ultimate proof of the pudding is the health and happiness of our beloved mutt. And I confess, I feel a little smug in that Martha-Stewart kind of way when I tell people about the canine cuisine served at our home.

Tonight, I am a little less smug. I was searching for a recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara when I happened upon this recipe for Canine Carbonara. Once I clarified that this was a dish intended for dogs, I was fascinated. I was also knocked down a peg or two. Not only has someone created a plethora of delicious-sounding dishes for dogs, they've taken the time to compile these recipes in great website.

I just hope my dog doesn't read this.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Spoiled rotten!!!!

In my next life, I want to come back as one of my pets.

That's not a camera angle trick - Gandalf, the cat, is huge. When stretched out like that, he's over 3 feet long.

Gomen nasai*

I'm starting to freak myself out a little bit here.

A couple of weeks ago, I took my son on a homeschooling field trip to Ottawa and Smiths Falls. We visited the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology, the Canadian Museum of Nature, and the Hershey Chocolate Factory. Last week, the Hershey Factory had to shut down and recall several of its products after a salmonella scare. I swear, we didn't touch anything!

This week, our homeschooling focus is Japan. We are studying Japan's history, culture, language, and geography. You can see where I'm going with this. No sooner did we explore Japan's vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunamis, did a 7.8 magnitude earthquake strike the Kuril islands, sending a small tsunami towards Hokkaido.

I think we'll return our focus to the three R's for now!

*Japanese for "I am sorry."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Monday, November 13, 2006

'tis the last rose of summer

Thompson Park Zoo, 13 November 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006

To all the winos Oenophiles out there

I know you already recycle your wine bottles, but did you know that you can recycle the corks, too?

In other wine news, it appears that large doses of red wine extract kept obese mice healthy and flexible.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Happy Hallowe'en/Samhain from our house to yours.

A story worth noting

From today's New York Times:

Trained by Inmates, New Best Friends for Disabled Veterans


Insert exasperated sigh here

Part of our TV-free existence means that Oprah is no longer my afternoon guest. I do remain tangentially aware of The Oprah's activities, mostly through internet news articles. For the most part, I remain indifferent to The Oprah.

This article in today's Washington Post, however, raised my ire. Lisa de Moraes' snarky title, "Gee, Oprah. A thousand smackeroos. Thanks a bunch." pretty much says it all - about the pervasive entitlement mentality which appears to be spreading like a malignant tumor over our society.

Oprah gave each audience member a $1000 debit card, which is to be paid forward to the charity of their choice. The author of the article snarks about the "patronization of a woman whose financial worth has been put at $1.5 billion" and "the complacency of a woman who owns three homes."

Sorry, but Oprah doesn't owe anyone a damn thing. Oprah could very easily take her billions, drop out of public life, and live happily ever after without the tabloids cackling over every pound she gains or loses. I wonder how much Ms. de Moraes has contributed to charity this week.

Switching gears a little - I know what we would do with a $1000 debit card. It would go directly to the Mennonite Disaster Service. Gentle reader, how would you spend your $1000?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Maybe he wanted to go to Graceland

A manatee was spotted in the Mississippi River near downtown Memphis yesterday, far from his usual environs of the warm coastal waters from Alabama to South Carolina.

I think he just wanted to pay a little visit to The King.

Friday, October 20, 2006

What the ??????

Blogged for posterity:

20 October 2006, 14:02, Jefferson County, New York.

Same view, 30 minutes later.

And again, at 16:30, after I shovelled the driveway. Twice.

It has been precisely one week since Buffalo, NY was walloped with two feet of lake effect snow.

Whilst I have most of the requisite provisions for dealing with power outages, I am alarmed to note that we are out of wine and vodka at this time. Not good. Not good at all.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Eco-friendly dishwasher detergent

To my great embarrassment, it was only recently that I clued in to the environmental hazards posed by the phosphates in most dishwasher detergents. When the phosphorus returns to the water system, it acts as a fertilizer and promotes an algae bloom. The algae bloom, in turn, chokes out the rest of the life in the ecosystem.

In the Canadian Province of Manitoba, the leader of the Liberal Party is introducing a private member's bill to ban phosphates in dishwasher soap, as was done several years ago with regards to laundry detergent.

There are a few dishwasher detergents on the market which are low in or free from phosphates. Mrs. Meyer's liquid and Method Dish Cubes come to mind, but both are rather expensive and neither are readily available in my area.

Fortunately for me, and for the planet, an economical, efficient, and eco-friendly dishwashing powder can be assembled from basic ingredients which are already in my pantry and laundry room. Here's the recipe, courtesy of Lynn at The New Homemaker.

In a container with a tight fitting lid (like a recycled peanut butter jar) combine:

1 cup Borax
1 cup Baking Soda
1/4 cup table salt
2 packets of dye-free unsweetened Kool-Aid or 1/4 cup citric acid*
a few drops of tea tree oil and a few drops of a citrus-y essential oil**
Shake well.
Use 2-3 teaspoons per wash.
* I use Kool-Aid because I can get it cheap, cheap, cheap at the grocery store on Fort Drum. Citric acid is available at wine-making shops, of which we have none in this area.
** I am using Sweet Orange Oil as it was the cheapest essential oil at the local health food store. The Tea Tree oil is germicidal.

Apart from being phosphate free and economical, this powder is highly efficient and cleans my dishes as well as any commercial product I've tried.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Challenge of the day

Gentle readers, (at least, those who are optically challenged!)

How many old pairs of glasses are you holding on to? If you're like me, you probably have a couple of spare pairs just in case something happens to your current pair. And if you're like me, nothing catastrophic has happened to your spectacles since you lost your first pair 25 years ago and learned a valuable lesson in responsibility.

Those old glasses could be put to better use. The World Health Organization released the results of a study today, which indicates that glasses could help end the cycle of poverty for millions of people in low to middle income countries.

The Lion's Club collects old eyeglasses, cleans and repairs them, and re-distributes them to people in need.

My challenge of the day is for all 5 readers of this blog to gather up their old spectacles and bring them to the nearest eyeglass recycling centre.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pachyderm Anomie?

There was a fascinating and heartbreaking article in Sunday's New York Times about the breakdown of elephant society. Those who study the problem of Human-Elephant Conflict argue that "today’s elephant populations are suffering from a form of chronic stress, a kind of species-wide trauma. Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture."

The article is quite long, but worth reading.

How to disinfect the dining room floor

1. Decide to start quilting again after a one year hiatus.
2. Find a fun pattern.
3. Dig through stash to find suitable fabrics.
4. Gather supplies and get everything set up in the dining room.
5. Be interrupted by the cat who wants to come in out of the cool evening air and sit by your feet. Aw, how cute. Thanks, Gandalf!
6. Start cutting fabric again.
7. Be interrupted by strange crunching sounds coming from the vicinity of your feet.
8. Be horrified to realize that Gandalf is eating a mouse mere inches from your feet.
9. Notify husband that he is on rodent removal duty, effective immediately.
10. Gather rodent removal supplies - gloves and paper towels for the husband, a glass of Pinot Grigio for the freaked out hausfrau.
11. Note that only the mouse's liver remains by the time the supplies have been gathered.
12. Use entire bottle of bleach to disinfect dining room floor.
13. Have another glass of wine.
14. Order more de-worming medicine for the rodent murderer.
15. Be grateful that this time, Gandalf didn't kill a bunny.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It's funny unless you live in Poland

Ananaova article offered without further comment because I'm laughing so hard:

Police hunt farting dissident

Monday, October 02, 2006

I thought I had become inured to this sort of thing

At the time of this writing, there is breaking news of a shooting at a one-room Amish school in Lancaster County, PA.

If an Amish school isn't safe, then what is?

What's worn under the kilt?

The answer to that question may well be revealed today, which is Kilt Day! (The classic answer is, of course, "Nothing is worn under the kilt. It's all in verra, verrra good condition!"

Alas, I am unable to wear my kilt today. Apparently, I was the size of a Keebler Elf when I acquired my kilt. I suspect that my 10 year old niece will soon be in possession of a lovely grey and wine-coloured kilt.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Through the eyes of a child

On this lovely, crisp autumn day, we took a leisurely drive through the North Country. We found ourselves at the home of The Divine Ms. M. Alas, Ms. M was not in residence, but some of her friends were.

Bold as brass, aren't they? At least they weren't dining on the lovely flowers which grace Ms. M's front porch.

My son took note of a walking stick on the porch. He doesn't miss a thing, this child!

Admit it, gentle reader. You had to strain to find the walking stick, didn't you? I wouldn't have seen it on the steps. In fact, I think this is the first time I've ever seen a walking stick outside of the zoo. I have probably been in close proximity to dozens of them. I just never bothered to look.

Friday, September 29, 2006

His Majesty

Rosamund Gifford Zoo, Syracuse, NY

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sugar is not our friend!

A Norwegian study shows a direct linear relationship between the amount of soda teens consumed and symptoms of hyperactivity.

Shocking, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


but still beautiful.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Yet another reason that we are glad to be homeschoolers!

In the online edition of my hometown paper, the letter of the day comes from my elementary school French teacher, Monsieur Guay. M. Guay decries the school fundraisers which are heavily reliant on the sale of junk food. He says, "Perhaps the only frustrating aspect of my many years of teaching young children was watching our schools participate enthusiastically in the process of poisoning our children with junk food." He goes on to lament: "The schools will tell you they need to do this to raise funds for special activities for which they have no money. With that argument, I’m wondering why we don’t have our children going door-to-door selling cigarettes." I think this is a valid point!

This is our first year of homeschooling. I won't miss the constant stream of fundraisers, and the pressure placed on the kids to sell overpriced, unnecessary crap. I won't miss seeing that my son barely touched his carefully packed lunch in the overwhelmingly noisy and crowded cafeteria, thus leaving him hungry and unable to focus throughout the afternoon. I won't miss the pressure from the PTO Alpha Moms to collect those damned General Mills Boxtops for education from processed, packaged foods that we don't eat. And I certainly won't miss the mixed messages sent out by the powers that be, such as rewarding children who participated in the American Heart Walk with premium ice cream.

Monday, September 11, 2006



Today I learned that a sprained ankle hurts like a sumbitch!

I wish I had an exciting story to go along with the injury. Alas, it occurred when I set my foot down the wrong way at the bottom of the basement stairs. I really thought I had broken a few metatarsals again, but the x-ray showed only minor soft tissue damage.

Today, I also learned that for the past 20 years, I have been incorrect in the assessment of my height. I had always believed that I was 4'11", which is what I told the nurse who was setting up my pediatric crutches. When he gave them to me, he said, "you aren't 4'11! Let's try 5'0"!!!!" And behold, the crutches set for a person who is five feet tall fit me perfectly.

This changes my entire world view. Evidently, I have surpassed that crucial five foot mark. Maybe it's the yoga, or maybe it was the crocs I was wearing. At any rate, I am revelling in this new component of my self-identity. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 07, 2006



Calcium Nature Trail, 7 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

Monarch on Loosestrife


Calcium Nature Trail, 7 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

Baby snapping turtle


Calcium Nature Trail, 7 September 2006 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Good to know!

My son has a rather intense interest in dinosaurs. By the age of three, he could identify almost any well-known dinosaur. He wouldn't tell you his name, but he'd tell you that the toy in your hand was a brachiosaurus. His interest has never really waned. His extensive dinosaur collection is sorted into therapods versus saurapods, and his reading material of choice is a dinosaur encyclopedia. He has promised to take us on a fossil dig in Mongolia when he grows up.

Fortunately, paleontology is still a rather young field of study. It is estimated that over seventy percent of dinosaur groupings have yet to be discovered. Dr. Peter Dodson of the University of Pennsylvania says that "It's a safe bet that a child born today could expect a very fruitful career in dinosaur paleontology."

Guess I'd better get a passport.

Monday, September 04, 2006

RIP, Mate

I learned of Steve Irwin's death on the 4 AM news. (The radio in the bedroom usually stays on all night.) I had to get up and check several news sites for myself before I could believe that the Crocodile Hunter was gone.

We've been TV-free for 2 years now, so the Croc Hunter was no longer a part of our daily lives, but I credit Steve Irwin with curing my visceral fear of reptiles. What a sad day for Australia and for the world.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Harry Potter: The "King of Darkness" ????

Well, so sayeth the Pope's chief exorcist, Rev. Gabriele Amorth.

Oh really, Father?

Has Harry Potter diddled any altar boys? Did Dumbledore ever close his eyes to the outrageous abuse of children?

No, I didn't think so.

Why don't you focus on the true evil in the real world, and leave a fine work of fiction alone?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bird on a wire


Yep, definitely an American Kestrel. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

All hail the American Kestrel!!!


Behold this most noble bird, my fine feathered friend!
This magnificent American Kestrel just captured the nasty little rat who was nibbling at my tomatoes. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 24, 2006



The bald eagle is back on exhibit at the Thompson Park Zoo. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Proof of a benevolent Goddess

Or, at the very least, proof of the benefits of supplementing the soil with epsom salts.


A small segment of my tomato harvest. (That's pronounced to-MAH-to!) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Do you ever feel "Left" out?

Well, today, I don't! It's Left Handers Day 2006!

Greetings and salutations to my fellow lefties, including JP's Momma and Poppa!

Friday, August 11, 2006



Pleasent Valley Buffalo Ranch, Cape Vincent, NY 11 August 2006 Posted by Picasa

Pair of Osprey


Perch River Wildlife Management Area, Jefferson County, NY 11 August 2006 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Uh-Oh. Another idea to tickle and nag me!

I have a new obsession: Miniature cows. Specifically, I'd like a Miniature Jersey.

Yes, I know. It's all fodder for my commitment hearing.


The budget for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center will be cut in half this year.

As I have mentioned earlier, this is a particularly important issue for my family.

In other news, it turns out that the removal of the lipoma was not the directly responsible for my husband's improved mental status. It appears that it was the local nerve block in the scalp. As the anaesthesia wore off, Steve's pain returned. Still, it's given us a starting point. The surgeon said "A-Ha! A trigger point! Let's get you a referral to the pain clinic and try to replicate these results!" In the interim, some relief has been achieved through visits to a Trigger Point/Myofascial Release Therapist.

The pain relief brought about by the nerve block shores up the theory that my husband's health issues are the afteraffect of numerous service-related concussions over the past 18 years. Given that multiple concussions seem to be the signature injury of the Iraq war, it is unconscionable that the funding to treat these soldiers has been slashed.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Eat dirt!!


The "dirt cup cake" made in honour of my son's 9th birthday. Where does the time go? Posted by Picasa

Workin' at the car wash ...

Inspired by this idea from Family Fun magazine, I cobbled together a Kid Wash for my son's 9th birthday. The kids have been enjoying this contraption, made from an old tent frame, some strong rope, four sprinklers, and an old towel.

Who needs to drive two hours to an amusement park? Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Weird and wonderful

The week that I had been dreading has passed, and all is well.

My Dad is now at home, recovering nicely from Tuesday's prostate surgery. The Surgeon is confident that the cancer had not spread outside the (now removed) prostate. My Dad's pre-operative fitness level is undoubtedly playing a role in his swift recovery.

Nothing dramatic or definitive came out of Steve's consultation with the Neurologist at Walter Reed. Another MRI has been ordered, but we left Washington without any new insight or information about what could have been causing Steve's left-sided weakness, fatigue, or episodic confusion and mental fogginess.

On Wednesday, we took the scenic route home through central Pennsylvania. We stopped in at Carson Long Military Institute, where Steve attended boarding school from grades 8 through 12. It boosted Steve's spirits to visit his old stomping grounds and catch up on old times with his former teachers. We continued on the road less traveled, and drove through the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania. It's simply gorgeous!

On Friday, Steve had outpatient surgery to remove a bump from the left side of his forehead. This bump appeared a few years ago, and all along, the doctors have shrugged it off. From all appearances, it was a lipoma - a benign fatty tumour. The surgeon who removed it was confident that it was indeed a lipoma with some muscular involvement. The incised tissues have been sent off to the histology lab for further analysis, just to be certain. The entire staff of the Outpatient Procedures Unit of Samaritan Hospital in Watertown, NY, is to be commended for their professionalism. We are completely satisfied with the experience.

Now, here's the weird and wonderful part: Steve feels better than he has in years. He usually rated his joint pain as a 7 or 8 on the classic ten point scale, with some days being worse than others. Yesterday and today, he has reported a pain level of 2 or 3 - without the aid of Darvocet. More to the point, his mental clarity and sharpness have returned. We're not really sure why. The Surgeon called yesterday to check up on Steve. Yes, the Surgeon, himself! On a Saturday afternoon! He was quite certain that the surgery was not the reason for the improved mental clarity. From an anatomical and pathological standpoint, there doesn't seem to be any possible correlation. Yet, here we are, in a happy place.

Are there any medical sleuths out there? Is it possible that the lipoma was exerting backpressure on the blood vessels and nerves supplying the underlying facialis muscle? Could that cause episodic fatigue and confusion?

To those who have sent their prayers and kind thoughts, we thank you profusely. And now, we're off to enjoy this beautiful day.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Greetings From Sunny Maryland

Gentle reader, please forgive the recent dearth of blog entries. Things have been rather hectic. Last week, my husband FINALLY (!!!!) got a referral to the Neurology Department at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. So, tonight, we are safely ensconced in the air conditioned comfort of the Courtyard Marriott in Silver Spring, Maryland, just a short bus ride north of the hospital.
We are right across the street from a Whole Foods Market, from which I gleaned a wonderful picnic dinner for my family. It's all part of my "turning lemons into lemonade" strategy. Most of the elements of the big picture are beyond my control, but by hook or by crook, that which is within my sphere of influence will be pleasant, goddammit.
And now, in the grand Army tradition of "Hurry Up and Wait" .. we wait. Please send warm thoughts, white light, prayers, or good wishes our way.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hey, Minutemen!

And all you other neocon alarmist "pay-no-heed-to-Quagmiraq-we-gots-go-get-rid-of-those-darned-illegals" freaks.

If I get scurvy this winter due to a lack of orange juice, I will hold each and every one of you responsible. Especially you, Michelle Malkin.

That is all. Carry on.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Oddly enough,


My Italian-born son is cheering for France in today's World Cup finals. Posted by Picasa