Saturday, July 29, 2006

Happenings in the month of July

Just a warning....this blog has not been proof read b/c I am lazy.
This month I look Wilton Cake Decorating Course 1 which is being taught by one of the staff member at the hospital I work at. It is a series of 4 classes. The first class went over the basics of making the cake and icing. The second class we learned how to make stars and write with icing. For my first cake (which was a caramel, coconut, pecan cake --delicious!) I decided to free draw a frog onto my cake (using a coloring page as a visual reference) Here is the result:

Darn well since I am having trouble inserting photos here is the link to the cakes:
Course 1: Class 2

The next week's class we started learning how to do figure piping and rose making. The figure piping involved making clowns. For me, that was not going to happen. So I attempted to make sheep and Oscar the Grouch instead. During the flower making I kept saying how my icing was melting (a problem I had the previous week as well). Well as it turns out, when you substitute 1 cup of butter for 1 cup of Crisco you must decrease 6 tsp of liquid to get the same consistency. Otherwise instead of working with stiff icing that holds, you are working with melted icing like me. So as a result I did not take pictures of this week's homework due to the icing disaster. But there is next week (the final week of Course I). I will be continuing on to Course II next.

Well I got a pretty good start on my book list posted on an earlier blog. I have read My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, Drowning Ruth -- Christina Schwarz , The Secret Life of Bees -- Sue Monk Kidd. They were all very good and told a unique, page turning story. I won't go into too much detail but I will say My Sister's Keeper kept me up to the wee hours of morning several days in a row. I started it not really thinking it was going to be all that impressive but then I just couldn't stop reading it. The ending just threw me for a loop and caught me by surprise (which very rarely happens to me in books).

Shedd Aquarium and Photography
Adam was able to visit us a few weeks ago. Because it was scorching hot we decided the zoo was probably not the best idea. So we headed to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago . A word of advice to those of you planning to visit this wonderful aquarium. There is a HUGE line to get in (a line in which you stand outside for an hour). So either you pre-buy your tickets online or you find a child (still needing a stroller) to bring with you. Either of these situations will place you in an alternate entrance. Anyway, this has to be the best aquarium I have ever been to and they did a fabulous job in offering something for every visitor to enjoy from toddler to the elderly. I had a great time attempting to get practice my "aquarium" shots using my digital SLR camera. With over 200 pictures taken, it isn' t as easy as it looks. The first challenge is that there is low lighting and you can't use a tripod or a flash. Challenge number two is that there is a thick piece of glass b/w you and all the fish. Challenge number three (and yes this is a completely separate challange) is that there are a bazillion children (and adults) fingering the glass as they pass by, leaving greasy (or sticky) finger prints on the glass. Challenge 4, those darn fish don't stay still even if you ask nicely. Anyway I got a small handful of respectful pictures and they can be found on our picture website. The main secret I can share (which I saw on a few tutorials) was to take along a rag to wipe the finger marks off. Use a very, very low apeture setting. Hold your camera as close to the glass a possible. I used my pinkie and thumb to stabilize my camera on the glass. Be patient, fish usually travel in the same pattern over and over again. Ie. oooh! look a rock.......oooooh! look a plant......oooooh! look a rock.

As the summer edges on Mason's excessive panting has started to get worst with a small wheezing component to it. At this point I don't believe surgery is an option to "tie-back" one of this laryngeal folds (since it isn't always curative and it is not a trivial surgery). I have done some research to see what else I can do to make him more comfortable. The main recommendation seems to be (for non-surgical canidates) to invest in a good air conditioner and allow no exposure to the heat (in addition to watching for aspiration pneumonia). There were a couple of other suggestions as well. One was to try steroids to get the inflammation in the airways down and the second is to use a drug to try and open up the lower airways a bit more. So in a desperate attempt to make Mason feel a little better I have put him on these two drugs. First there has been no improvement. Second (even though I have him on a very very low dose of steroids) he is drinking water non-stop, has been trying to get me to feed him more than twice a day, and his peeing like a race horse. I have found a pee stain on our carpet. For those of you who know Mason, he would rather pass out than pee in the house. He hasn't peed in the house in 12 years. So forget the steroids...I have already begun to taper them and I will finish up the other useless drug as well. I have also notice that he now has Horner's syndrome (a condition in which the eyes look sunken into the sockets more than usual). However, only in male golden retrievers between the ages of 9-13 is there a breed predisposition for this. On the good side, he still loves to go on his small walks, get pet by all the blondes, and nibble on his stuff animals.

On to Oscar. This morning when I got up I remember seeing Oscar hanging around in the living room. Before I got my shower (while in my robe) I let Mason out for a quick pee. After he came back in I was surprised not to see Oscar. I looked briefly around the apartment and even peeked outside, No Oscar. After my shower I feed Mason and No Oscar. Now i was slightly concerned b/c that cat is front and center when it is feeding time. I looked really well in the bedroom and No Oscar. So I throw on some clothes and take Mason for his walk. I walk outside and I see a little fuzzy orange kitty on the porch next door, just perched there enjoying the sun. It was Oscar. I am glad he didn't run away too far but I am still trying to figure out how he got outside without me seeing him. Goof ball.

Ok, I am getting is a reminder to myself what to talk about next time: Mortagages, House hunting, quilting, FEMA, possible Darwin award nominee from Kenosha, woofstock, tailgates, upcoming photo, sewing classes.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Random Thoughts and Comments for the Week

1. While Grant and Sheryl where here we got to talking about the "standard" appearance in which geeks typically tend to conform to over time. Take a minute and think about all the geeks you know. Are the generalities in their appearance? Here is what we all came up with:
- Long (stringy and/or greasy) hair
- An attempt to grow facial hair that just turns out like uneven hair blotches on the face.
- Jeans and an old t-shirt (an added plus if it relates to a game or computers)
- Either tall and skinny as a stick, or shorter and around in the middle
- If they are of Caucasian descent: skin so white that it hurts your eyes.

2. Did you know that it is considered "taboo" to have a baby shower in the Jewish faith? It it thought that a baby shower may arouse the "evil" spirits and give your baby bad luck. The most superstition of parents to be won't even mention the name of their new one to family or friends until after the birth. I learned this today from my mom before I sent out the quilt I finished for Baby Bell. But after all the work I did on it (even though it isn't perfect -- still learning) I just wanted to get it out the door and especially out of reach of Oscar (who will find anyway possible to sit on any quilt I make). Pics to come.

3. Speaking of Oscar. Over the last week and a half we have had 3 sets of people who have slept in our living room. Every morning I asked how they slept and if Oscar cuddled with them. Everyone of them said they heard lots of noise in the kitchen overnight. What would be really interesting is to set up a camera overnight and watch what Oscar does. Or perhaps we really don't want to know.

4. At work we were all split into team to redo an exam room for $200. After some brainstorming my team decided to go with a jungle theme. One of the things I definitely wanted to do was add new seating in the exam room. Right now there is 1 beat-up wood chair. My original plan was to make a built-in corner bench with storage and jungle themed cushions that could attach to the wall. But while Nathan and I were in Menards, Nathan once again pointed out reality to me. A bench like that would cost at least $100 to build....which wouldn't leave us with enough money to do the rest of the room.
So today, I came up with a budget for 3 different plans to the room: All 3 scenarios include a refinished seat of some sort from a rummage/estate sale, a coat of primer paint, and a parrot clock from eBay. One idea from a team member was to do a mural on the wall (if she can get her friend to do it b/c none of us are decorative painters). However with this idea we could afford only 6 1-quart cans of acrylic paint. Another idea would be to have a digital mural (VERY LARGE POSTER) printed up. The final idea (sugg. by Adam) was to rasterbate an image. What does rasterbate mean? Well it is basically a technique in which a large image is printed on several to many pieces of paper that can then be taped, mounted, or framed to form a very large poster. So I will keep you updated on the progress of the room.

5. Just a reminder to myself to decide what to write about my new nemesis.

Oh is getting late. Time to hit the sack. Have a great week.

PS. Outlook and my cell phone had it out a few weeks ago and I lost some of my addresses and phone numbers. If you remember can you e-mail me with your current info.