To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Monday, May 29, 2006

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

- Lt. Col. John McCrae

Sunday, May 28, 2006

We're repapering the kitchen this weekend. The paper that was there when we moved in in 1990 was OK except that the people who papered before us didn't strip the previous stuff, so it didn't adhere well and we've been having to try to stick it back up periodically. Eventually you just can't do that anymore. The walls are stripped, cleaned, and primed in spots now, and tomorrow morning we'll see if our marriage and family structure will once again survive the acid test of a home improvement project.

This is partly because it really needed to be done, and partly because we need to start getting our house ready to go on the market in case we end up moving. We have some other things that we need to do as well. The downstairs bathroom floor needs work ONCE AGAIN. The upstairs bathroom ceiling needs help where years ago the roof leaked and the ceiling had kind of a delayed reaction. And things of that nature. If we end up staying in Memphis, we'll be glad we did this stuff. I thought we'd stay in this house forever. It'll be paid off in a few more years. Well, who knows what will happen.

F started researching Kalamazoo as soon as I told her what was up. She has been inserting factoids into various conversations - 69.7 inches of snow per year, normal low in January of 16 degrees, etc. The other day, however, I was driving her somewhere and the traffic was just impossible. I was spitting by the time I got her where she was going - when I dropped her off she told me to stop somewhere and sit down and get a cold drink. But when I wondered what the traffic is like in Kalamazoo, she told me that between 2001 and 2003 there were 10 traffic fatalities, compared to 232 for that time period in Shelby County, with only about 4 times as many people. I repeated this to R. Last night we were leaving the grocery store and it was such an ordeal just to leave the parking lot that he looked at me and said, "I'm ready to go."

So we're going back and forth.

In other news, we did put down a litter box for Molly in her chosen corner of the living room, and to our great relief, she has been using it. We left it there for a few days and now have it inserted in a solvent box lying on its side, so she can have some privacy, and have started moving it toward the bathroom. To fill the spot where it was so she doesn't get ideas, we bought a little cat bed today and put it down, and I sprinkled it with catnip. Molly thinks it's the bee's knees. So maybe this little crisis is behind us.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Egg riddle resolved

May 27, 2006

A TEAM of scientists claims to have found the answer to the question: What came first, the chicken or the egg?

The team comprising a geneticist, a philosopher and a chicken farmer says the egg came first.

The first chicken developed differently to its avian predecessors.

Such mutations could only have occurred at the start of the chicken's life when it was in the egg. Therefore, the egg existed before the first chicken had hatched.

Professor John Brookfield of the University of Nottingham, who is an expert in evolutionary genetics, said the first chicken would have hatched from another species of bird.

I have a feeling that there is just a whole lot of information left out of this article. At least, I hope so.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

OK, it's official and I can talk about it now. They're closing my workplace. My division is being moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan some time in the next year or so. I have been offered relocation, so if I can't replace my job here, I will be a gal in Kalamazoo. Quite a change for this Southern girl. My boss and I are flying up for a couple of days next week to get started with the transition.

R goes back and forth on the pro's and cons of moving. F takes a dim view.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I've been keeping up with BSE (mad cow) and avian flu through reading a publication called Feedstuffs, which we get at my workplace. Sounds really riveting, right? But there are lots of really interesting and informative articles about epidemiology, or I guess epizoology. Last year an article about avian flu described the virus's spread by saying that it was "marching across the Asian steppes on the wings of migratory fowl". I had to share that sentence with my family. Today I ran across an article that stated that the virus appears to be burning out; there are few new cases, indicating that the containment measures are probably working; and here is the pertinent sentence: "The animal markets received some of their best news in months last week, and it came on the wings of wild birds...." At least it didn't march on them.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I'm tired as a dog, but I had a fun evening. Theatre Memphis is doing "Cats" this summer. They wanted a few people to sing in the pit to kind of help the dancers on some of the choral stuff and one of those people will be me. Tonight was the first rehearsal I've attended with the dancers and all. The kids are so cute, they're really talented, and it ought to be a great show. A nice change for me from WORK WORK WORK all the time, too, although I'm probably singing "Jellicles can and jellicles do, jellicles do and jellicles can" at work without realizing it and driving people nuts.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I've been non-blogging for a bit. A lot on my mind that I can't talk about. But I had to link to Flaurella's blog for this picture, which I think is a bit excessive, and mention this sentence in an article in the local paper about diversity: "There is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to diversity." This is possibly one of the silliest sentences I have seen lately.

Edit: Molly had a return to the vet today, she's better but not completely over her infection, we are to have 7 more days of antibiotics, and now that she shouldn't be having pain when she potties, we are to try putting a litter box in her corner of choice. I hope this works.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Molly feels better, and apparently has forgiven me for taking her to the vet. She draped herself across my leg while I was watching a movie. (I do have two legs. I moved the other one for the picture.) Molly thinks she's pretty special because she gets a teaspoon of Fancy Feast twice a day. I started out giving her pills the way I did when she was a baby and needed something, but it upset her to be restrained. So I tried poking the pill into a bite of canned cat food, and that did the trick. In fact, I'm pretty sure she knows what I'm doing because I can pick up the envelope that has her pills in it and she starts hollering. Smart kitty.

Molly came to us a couple of years ago. F volunteered at a cat shelter in town, going about 3 times a week through the summer, and performing tasks such as changing food and water and litter, doing laundry and vacuuming, and assessing the cats in her assigned cages for the sorts of illnesses and things that can happen to cats in a shelter. I told her when she started that she wouldn't be bringing any cats home. We had two cats, and that was enough. Love them while they're there, I told her. Ha ha.

Toward the end of the summer, F started talking about a kitten named Molly. I pretended I didn't hear. One Saturday when she was ready to come home she called me and asked if I would come and "look at" Molly. After I hung up the phone I told R that F wanted me to "look at" Molly. He looked over at the tomcat and said, "Your life is about to change."

Well, I thought Molly was one of the ugliest scraggly excuses for a kitten that I had ever seen, but F kept saying, "Isn't she beautiful? Isn't she adorable?" and finally I said, "You want her, don't you?" So that was that.

The day after we brought Molly home F came to me and said, "I think Molly has ringworm." She showed me some spots that felt scabby and had hair missing. I e-mailed the shelter and asked if I could bring her by and they could tell me if it was ringworm. I know what ringworm looks like on people, and that wasn't it. The shelter director called me at work to say that she had looked at the other kittens that had been in the cage with Molly and that they had ringworm, so that was probably it. She told me to go to the store and get some Monistat cream - "You know what that is?" I did. Three times a day for 28 days, and keep her away from the other cats.

F and I went to Target, and when we found the Monistat cream we discovered that it said FOR VAGINAL YEAST INFECTION all over the box. F said, "I guess you have to carry that so that people can see it." I looked around and didn't see anybody on our aisle, so I held the box over my head with one hand and pointed to it with the other and mock-shouted, "It's for the cat, people! For the cat!" F turned bright red and pulled my hand down. (It's gratifying when you can horrify a teenager - I think I've mentioned that before.) But then she started giggling as she thought people would wonder how we knew the cat ... well, anyway.

So we got home, and F said she didn't want Molly sleeping in the bed with her because she didn't want ringworm. I said, "You took her away from her brothers and sisters, and all the other cats at the shelter, and she'll be shut away from our cats while you're at school during the day. You can't leave this baby shut up by herself all day and all night." But I couldn't make F expose herself to ringworm either, could I? I'd be a bad mother if I did that. So guess who slept in F's bed for a month, with a ringworm-infested kitten, (while F slept on the daybed in the other room,) and showered and washed her hair with Nizoral every morning. Sigh. At least neither I nor anyone else got ringworm.

F also told me she thought Molly had conjunctivitis (pinkeye). When I took her to the vet for her first checkup, the Saturday after we took her home, the vet said that the Monistat cream would clear up the ringworm and that apart from that she looked fine. I said, "My daughter says she has conjunctivitis." The vet looked again and said, "Oh, yeah," and came up with some ointment to squeeze into her eye - and let me tell you what a treat THAT was.

The thing the vet couldn't help with was that Molly was separated from her mother too early. She and her sibs were left on the doorstep of the shelter at about 3 weeks of age and had to be fostered on a mama cat until they were old enough to wean. The shelter people did the best they could for her but she really missed her mommy. So she had this horrifying habit of burying her face in my neck in the middle of the night and trying to nurse. The vet said this could be a lifelong habit. But fortunately, all she does now is kind of press her forehead against me and purr.

So she's settled in with us now. She gets along very well with Bonnie, our 4-year-old Himalayan mix. They run through the house together with their ears back and they lick each other. She slaps the 15-year-old tomcat and he just rolls his eyes, so to speak. And I guess R and I can stand her. F still thinks she's the most wonderful cat she's ever seen. Whatever.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A word to the wise.

Never tell your boss that you don't make mistakes. Never. Your boss knows that everybody makes mistakes. If you tell your boss that you don't, your boss will fear that your pride, or lack of self-confidence, or fear of looking stupid, or fundamental dishonesty, will cause you not to confess to errors that you will inevitably make. That cannot be tolerated.

Obviously, you have to try not to make mistakes. You can ask somebody to check behind you. You can leave your glassware out, so you can go back and make sure that you did the dilutions you thought you did. It's fine to tell your boss, if she questions your dilutions, that you wondered about them too and checked your glassware to confirm them. You can offer to re-do your work just to make sure. Check your calculations for the 42,753rd time. Ask someone else to check them. Keep a list, mental or on paper, of things to check for so you don't repeat the same mistake. If you find that you are prone to a particular error, find a way to not make it anymore - that's your responsibility, not your boss's.

And that's really the main thing. Own your work. Look over it before you pass it on, to make sure it's correct and complete. If you don't know how to do something, find out. Own your successes and own your mistakes.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The neverending saga ... I took Molly to the vet today. Litter box avoidance. She has a urinary tract infection and must have antibiotic pills and special food. I hope she likes the food. The other two cats have been chowing down on it ever since I put it in their bowl. It would be about par for the course, for them to eat it and Molly not.

And Molly peed on me while we were leaving the vet. Isn't that nice. I have to take her back in 2 weeks. Maybe I should wear a rubber apron.

Seems like when I was a kid you got a pet and put it out in the yard.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The tomcat woke R up at ~3:30 this morning - "Something's wrong! You have to fix it!" What was wrong was that the hose going to the washing machine ruptured and there was water spraying the ceiling in the laundry room. Bless his heart, he tried to deal with it without waking me. I had taken some sudafed and antihistamine before bed in hopes of not waking up with a headache and so was sleeping like a rock. But I did wake up when I heard him dragging the ironing board out of the laundry room. He woke up so suddenly that he didn't wake up all the way - know what I mean? I found him standing in the doorway of the laundry room with a pair of pliers in each hand, looking at the jetting water and saying, "I don't know which one it is!" I asked if he didn't want to turn off the water to the house. "Oh, yeah! That's it!" and he found the water key and had to go out to his truck and drive around to the water thing, because you can't get there from here. R has complained to the city before that the water thing leaks but they haven't fixed it. So at 3:45 AM he was fishing around in the icy water with the water key, barefoot and in the dark because he didn't remember to take his flashlight. Once the water was turned off he was able to go into the laundry room and pull the washing machine away from the wall - although this was problematic too because he was standing in a puddle and couldn't get traction. He did get the valve turned off, (this reminded him of submarine movies he has watched because although the water was no longer spraying it was dripping briskly from the ceiling,) then went back around to turn the water on. And when he came home we went back to bed. We are both SO TIRED. R picked up a replacement hose today but it will have to wait until tomorrow to be installed.

Why isn't my house flooded? you ask. Well, because we have a basement, with a drain in the floor, and somehow the water found its way down there instead of out into the house. Otherwise we would have had a real mess on our hands.