Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Resolution No. 1

I resolve to return to my blog with the frequency and commitment I had before the Giant Project at work took over my life! The Giant Project is over and I miss my little old blog. I have pictures I want to put up, events I want to remember. This is the place for those things. I'll come back this weekend and get going!
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Happy bloggy new year, if anyone is still out there!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Turkey, your days are numbered


Suky gave me a colorful, attractive, decorative, adorable little turkey for Thanksgiving, and I put it on my desk, where I have been eyeing it for a couple of days.

The problem is this: it's chocolate. And I want to eat it. But it's so pretty, and it regards me with a baleful blue eye whenever I decide that its time is up. And then I change my mind.

But then Suky suggested that we take a picture, which will preserve it for eternity (or however long this blog's eternity is), and that way I can devour the real thing with impunity.

Turkey, your days are numbered.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cleveland is an oasis

As I may have mentioned, work is crazy right now. And "right now" basically means "since May." And it also means right now. This was the Big Whoop-Dee-Doo week. Two databases converging. Everyone on tenterhooks. Drumroll. The great unknown.
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This is why it was so important to just dump everything and go to Cleveland last weekend. If there was ever a time to get away from it all, that was it. I couldn't be more grateful for the invite from Barb, Kathy, and Evelyn, and I seized it.

And it was a worthy occasion, all right... Kathy had a big birthday! (Click on the picture for more photos, courtesy of the Literary's Facebook page.)
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We later had a special cook-veggies-and-meat-on-a-burner-right-there-on-the-table dinner at Evelyn's house. I'm sure there's a French word for that, but I don't know what it is! All I know is... it was fabulous. As were our sparkly fingernails, done up special for the birthday disco theme.
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Top it all off with late nights, lots of classic rock from the collections of both Steve and Philippe, and visits to some fun Cleveland places, including a studio showcasing a gigantic metal pineapple from local metalworker Chris Schafle, and you have a weekend to remember.
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Did it make this week at work less stressful? Maybe so. It sure made me happy.
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Thanks, y'all!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ghosts


I was over at Barb's for Halloween, as usual, and we made these groovy ghosts. Aren't they great? There weren't a million trick-or-treaters this time, but hey - we had the best ghosts!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Love's Labor's Lost

Out of nowhere, one of Scott's colleagues had a ticket available for the long sold-out Globe Theatre production of Shakespeare's Love's Labor's Lost. I snapped it up and went, of course! Did they ever pump life into that play. From Latin puns to fart jokes, the production was both esoteric and bawdy, not to mention gloriously performed by an extraordinary cast.
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And of course I managed to read a good portion of the play in advance - can you guess? By downloading it to my iPod Touch, of course!
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Honorificabilitudinitatibus!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm in love

I have actually found and secured the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Perhaps even the Holy Grail. .
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It's the iPod Touch, and it's an early Christmas present from a certain wonderful and extremely generous pair of parents.
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I am spending my time doing any and all of the following:
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- playing Myst (o happy reunion!);
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- watching an episode of "Law and Order" I downloaded;
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- checking in on Facebook;
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- adding to my Netflix queue;
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- playing Tetris (by touching and flinging the pieces!);
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- trying my hand at Sudoku;
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- re-reading Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge (and, after that, I can read any of about 25 books that came in a bundle for $1.99);
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- feeding a pond full of koi fish (Suky showed me that one on her iPhone and it was practically the first thing I downloaded);
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- filling in my calendar with events I am now no longer likely to forget;
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- listening to Pandora (or, of course, my own music collection);
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- responding to my e-mail;
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and any number of other things. All on this one incredible gadget.
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I'm in love!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Beware contamination, all ye who enter here!

Our company has made a very clear statement about the office I share with Aaron:
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You are encouraged to disinfect before and after contact with us.
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You've been warned!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jambalaya love

You know me. I love my slow cooker. Sometimes, though, I feel as though our relationship is getting a little stale. Variations on a theme. Meat, potatoes, onions. Heat and eat. Not always, of course: I've made some very interesting stuff in there over the years. But I needed something new, with a little oomph.
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Found it!
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Some weeks ago, I accompanied Barb to the Dixboro General Store, where she was buying her couch. As she combed through upholstery samples, I strolled through the creaky side rooms, the ones chock full of cookie jars and such, and that's where I found this:
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A slow-cooker dinner kit! How cool is that!
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What with moving to the new place and all, though, it took me forever to get around to making it. I finally did, yesterday. The box contains a rice packet, a spice packet, and a packet of dehydrated vegetables. You put chicken and andouille sausage in the bottom of the crock, then you layer in the contents of the packets, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, chicken broth, and white wine. Lid on. Step away.
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I was alarmed at first at how much liquid there was, rising inexorably up toward the lid! But then the rice and dried vegetables started absorbing it and the crisis was averted. And then the aroma started wafting gloriously through the house. All that flavor just got beautifully infused, and by the time we stuck a ladle in there several hours later, it was all thick and flavorful and, well, thoroughly jambalaya-like. Not wildly spicy, but the sausage gave it a nice little bite. Oh, man. So good.
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But there was something that tasted better: the leftovers!
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Now I want to try the other dinner kits from this same Delicae Pantry brand. I don't think the store carried more than a couple, so I might have to place an order online. Maybe I could make one a month or something.
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See? All it took was one hot date and I'm in love with my slow cooker all over again.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wow

The 150-year-old husk of the historic Thompson Building.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fire in the Civil War barracks building



Terrible news this morning: the historic Civil War barracks building, just a couple of blocks away from my home, was gutted by fire last night.
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The owner says he still wants to try to save the shell, at least, and go ahead with the renovations he's been laboriously working on for years and years. When I lived just down the block I used to watch with interest as they labored on getting it ready to be used for groovy loft apartments and downstairs businesses. I couldn't wait to see what it would look like in the end.
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Here's hoping he can still save the walls and rebuild within. I have my doubts. News sources are pretty much calling the building destroyed at this point. But one can hope.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New firepit!

I guess they're more properly called "firebowls," but whatever. I've been longing to get one ever since we moved and inherited a yard! We bought one over the weekend and I couldn't be more pleased with it. It feels like sitting around a firepit, gazing happily into the flames.
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And just think... as the evenings get colder, it'll get better and better.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wendy and Kruma's big day

How great was that? Two wonderful people getting hitched, happy guests to witness it, and a perfect day in which to accomplish it. I was honored to have been present last weekend and couldn't be happier for the bride and groom.
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Click here or on the picture for the happy couple's wedding site!

My famous cat

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I wrote a little update about Nigel for the "Happy Tails" section of the Humane Society's web site, and they posted it today!
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Check it out here!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Book club at my new place!

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Well, my camera's on the fritz, so I drove everyone crazy at book club with my Flip camcorder instead. I promised them all no videos, just still shots saved from the videos, and I am holding true to my word: click here for the whole set.
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I do want to apologize to the book club gals for being so obsessed with that whole thing. Many's the shot I could have saved that showed wrinkled brows of slight irritation as I came looming yet again with my camcorder! Sorry about that, you guys. It was my first time hosting book club and I frankly admit that I geeked out. I couldn't help it! It was just so dang exciting.
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It was great fun and I hope to have more (camera-free) gatherings at my groovy new pad as time goes on. It's great to have a place where I can actually have eight people come over and give them plenty of room to sit!
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Here's to book club! It was a great one.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Only in Denmark!

I need to share this e-mail from my mother. It's too much fun not to share!
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This evening we went back to the marketplace at Gammeltorv for our evening meal. We were sitting comfortably, enjoying our entrecote steaks, when Dad decided he should find a toilet. He headed down Strøget toward the big public toilets there. Well, time passed...and time passed...and time passed. I began to wonder if he had become ill or something, but he suddenly showed up, bursting with something to tell me. It turned out to be something that could only happen to John Venning. This is his story:
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He went down the steps to the men's toilet, only to find two young women there, one of them naked except for bikini panties. She was being painted by the other one.
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"Excuse me, but this is the men's toilet."
"Yes, that's all right."
"But someone could call the police about you."
"The police already know."
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So of course Dad got into conversation with them, while the body-painting continued, and discovered that this was part of a big campaign. You see, the almost-naked girl was standing with her back to the wall. One side of her body was being painted to match the cement blocks of the wall there, while the other side was being painted sort of off-white with narrow maroon stripes to match the wall there. The idea was to make her almost invisible, just a part of the wall. The campaign? To make people aware of the need to wash their hands after going to the toilet, as part of the campaign warning people about H1N1 (swine flu). If someone started to leave without washing his hands, part of the wall would leap at him, yelling at him to wash his hands. Is that a novel idea, or what?
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After we finished our steaks, we went back there, and Dad led me down the steps to the men's toilet. By that time a young man was sitting at the entrance where clients are to drop their 2 kroner, and Dad told him, "My wife has to see this." He grinned understandingly. I was startled to see how well the young woman did blend into the wall, even though I knew she would be there. Dad, the young man, and I fell into a brief, amusing conversation. The girl held her pose and her silence. Of course Dad stepped toward her and offered to touch up a couple of places where he said the paint brush had missed. Playing along, I grabbed his arm and exclaimed, "You just stay away from her!" The young man was laughing, but he also told us in a low voice that there's a camera taking everything that happens during this campaign. So when someone goes over that footage, Dad and I will be stars.
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Actually, I can imagine how it might go. As one enters the main room, the girl is on the left, hardly noticeable. One could easily head quickly for the toilets straight ahead and not look to the left at all. Then, coming out of the toilet, he might be zipping up his pants, not looking one way or the other. If he walked right past the sinks without using them, that's when the wall would leap at him. I just hope there aren't any deaths from heart attacks. As Penny would say about Dad's propensity for odd experiences, "Why does life keep happening to him?!"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Four good things

Grilling chicken in the yard at our new place on our anniversary:
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A cat under a coffee table:
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New slipcovers and a big old earth-tonesy 1970s painting:
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And filmy new curtains to go with the groovy hanging spider plant:
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lollipop!

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I have recently been obsessed with PBS. You know those concerts they've been showing for about five years now? It's been the glam Seventies, the psychedelic Sixties, or the mod Sixties - so many options with the amazing span of that decade... but finally they've dived into the Fifties with a big concert of mainstream Fifties groups. And for some reason I have become downright obsessed with this one. For all I know, it's from years ago, but I am only now discovering it, at any rate.
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If I had to pick a favorite musical era it would be ten or fifteen years later or ten years earlier: let's face it, there's a Fifties formula here. All the "doo-wop-she-waddy-waddies" and the "sh-boom-sh-booms" are pretty repetitive after a while.
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But to see these people today is what is so exciting.
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See, that's the irony. This gang is older than the others PBS has trucked out. But they seem as young as they ever were. Here's why - and remember, this comes to you from a hippie T-shirt-and-jeans girl, so don't think I'm selling you some kind of conservative line, here. The thing is, these singers come out in well-turned dresses and suits, just as they did when they were brand new faces on the scene. The Four Preps are all coordinated and buttoned. The McGuire Sisters are shimmery and crisp. The years melt away.
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Conversely, the musicians of the Sixties and Seventies went to great lengths to break free of that dress code, and thank God for that, say I! But when those guys come out, silver-haired but in long hair and caps and ratty denim, they look - well, old. They're still wearing the costume of the young rebel, as they should, and as they did! They have no choice. It's who they are. I get that. I wouldn't want it any other way.
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But then you see the Four Aces and they're as they always were, somehow. They haven't aged. At all. Not really.
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My favorite part: Lynn Evans, the lead singer from the Chordettes. I was in the kitchen when I heard her announced, and then that saucy little song came on: "Lollipop! Lollipop! Oh! lolli-lolli-lolli-lollipop! Lollipop! Oh!" To me, that song screams teenager. Some fresh little Lolita breezing by the corner with a lollipop - knowing exactly her effect on, say, the Four Lads, who happen to be standing there "standin' on the corner, watchin' all the girls go by." That's the power of very early rock and roll. You can hear the sex appeal loud and clear, and it stays - you know - contained. But no less urgent.
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And when I came into the living room, there was Lynn Evans today, in a long, trim dress, swaying and singing. She was spirited and rockin' and she sounded and looked like - well, like herself, and like the Fifties, and like an older woman, and, equally, like that saucy teenager on the corner. Hinting, smiling. "He loves to kiss me till I can't see straight." Wow!
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Fifties pop.
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*Pop!*

Monday, August 17, 2009

My sister has a green thumb!

Check out that crazy zucchini!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Here I am

In the time since I last posted, I plunged into the busiest part of the big integration project at work and completely disappeared from the rest of my life. And I moved to the new place. It's been crazy. I feel as though the world is whooshing around me - Elvis Fest and all manner of other events have come and gone in Riverside Park... friends have gone on exotic trips to Argentina... there have been flurries of excitement in the news, including quite the variety of celebrity deaths...! And I've been missing the whole thing. I've even broken lunch dates with good friends and that makes me mad.
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But there's a faint light dawning on the horizon now. I had a super-lazy Sunday and I am feeling a thousand times better for it. Time to check in on Facebook, catch up on some e-mail, and see what the world is up to.
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Meanwhile, there's nothing to blog about, as you might imagine, since I haven't done anything in the last three weeks except work. Oh, except I got a groovy haircut. It was getting pretty shaggy. The homeless look is not very becoming.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Here's to manipulation

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My mother often lets me in on interesting tidbits she reads about in the news, and recently she had this little anecdote for me:
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Here's a news story especially for you and Scott: Sussex University has completed a study which shows that cats manipulate people. That special purr they make when people pay attention to them? That is specifically to say, "Now I'll make this attractive sound, and they'll think I love them, and they'll continue to feed me." The story was even on TV news, with Sussex people holding adorable kittens who were purring like mad. So, now you know that you are being manipulated.
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:-D
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I responded that I am more than happy to be manipulated. I don't expect people who are indifferent to feline charms to understand this, but the fact is, when Nigel reaches out a paw and gently touches my cheek while gazing into my eyes with his earnest little face, I don't care what his motivation is. I'm a goner either way!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

King Alan

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For many years, I have heard about "the lawn" at "Pine Knob." Now I have experienced it! We went to see Alan Parsons there Friday night. I particularly loved when they would turn a worshipful white spotlight on Alan himself. In middle school, my best friend Silvia and I listened to her brother's Alan Parsons Project albums for hours, methodically deconstructing the lyrics. So, sitting there on the lawn, I knew every line of every song they played! Which means everyone around me had to hear me bellowing along, too.
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1970s/80s progressive rock still lives!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A virtual tour of my new apartment!

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Just click here! When you get there, click on the next picture at the right to advance to the next picture. I wrote captions!
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If you just want to see the slideshow ('cause after all, you're not quite as excited about all this as I am, I would think), then click here and to heck with the captions. :-)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The new UMMA

Scott and I went to the University of Michigan Museum of Art today, excited to see the new building and the new layout. It's truly beautiful. With its blond wood, wide windows, and open spaces, it reminds me of nothing so much as the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark: you stumble upon paintings or sculptures in the same happy, accidental-feeling way, in beautiful places, and you can look across several levels of rooms at one time from any number of viewing spots. I will be revisiting often.
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Right now, I have to urge you all to go see the exhibit running there right now called History Painting: Painting and Public Life in the 21st Century. It's amazing how art can make you see universally-known events in a completely new way. There is a huge canvas of the cascading streaks we all remember from the terrible Challenger disaster. There are architecturally perfect paintings of Iraqi detention camps. There's Patty Hearst, wielding her gun like an electric guitar.
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There's a three-minute animation of the O.J. Simpson verdict by artist Kota Ezawa, which I found particularly fascinating: I found myself breathlessly waiting for O.J.'s tiny, triumphant smile!
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It's great stuff. Go check it out. Don't worry -- you have plenty of time. It's there till mid-September.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Carlos Ruiz Zafón!

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Alas, I wasn't there, much as I loved The Shadow of the Wind when we read it in book club - but Christine, Liza, Norma, and Wendy went and saw Carlos Ruiz Zafón at Nicola's Books, touring to promote his new book, The Angel's Game. It's a prequel to Shadow. Can't wait to hear about my fellow book clubbers' impressions, but if their smiles in this picture with the author are anything to go by, I think I may want to read it!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Two more photos

I've been so busy recently that this has become less of a blog and more of an occasional photo showcase. I do hope this changes soon. I have learned something about myself as work has exploded into mayhem: I am not someone who thrives on a hectic pace. I can do it. But I wouldn't say I thrive on it.
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So let me distract myself with two amusing photos.
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First, here is my dad, who has acquired a small supply of his favorite beverage. Should keep him going for a couple of days, anyway. My mother reports that he e-mailed the photo to a friend who responded, "How did you do it? Photoshop?" His response: "It's not Photoshop - it's the Real Thing!"
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Secondly, here is a highly enviable Detroit Tigers t-shirt, snapped by Barb's camera phone at Friday night's game. In these difficult economic times, why buy a new t-shirt just because your favorite player leaves the team?
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Classy!
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And now it's Father's Day already. Where is the summer going?!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Miscellaneous photos

Didn't anyone ever tell Scott not to use the hotel phone?
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All dolled up and ready for a wedding.
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This is a band photo if ever I saw one.
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Weird German electric car from the 1970s at the Orphan Car Show.
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Perhaps one of the last shots of Tiger Stadium.
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And Nigel!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wedding weekend

Went to Vikki's wedding this weekend and had a splendid time. It was particularly fun because it coincided with our landlady tiling our bathroom floor, which meant that she put us up in a hotel for the weekend. It really felt as though we had traveled a long way to come to Ann Arbor for our friend's wedding and were staying in a hotel just for the occasion!
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Anyway - gorgeous wedding - gorgeous locale - gorgeous bride! And good friends.
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Congratulations, Vikki!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Our new abode

So - new cat - and now, new apartment! Life is pretty exciting right now. Check this out.
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There's a studio apartment on one side, and we get the whole rest of the house. Basically, we will be renting three-quarters of a house! Here's the side of the house, with the sunset reflected in the living room window:
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And the back. Look at the long, narrow kitchen window. We'll be sitting right there, gazing out into the yard, having breakfast.
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We have a "carriage barn" to store things in - and when we went by the apartment today to skulk around triumphantly out front ("This is our place - in less than a month!"), we noticed that the side of the barn has been fixed up as - a climbing wall!
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And look at that yard, too. We'll be putting yard furniture out there, of course!
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And - the front. The front stoop! And me sitting on it!
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Can't wait.
Meanwhile, as Dad said: "Now comes the hard part." Clean, clean, declutter, declutter, work, work, then - move!
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New cat in tow!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Please welcome Nigel

After contemplation of many name options for "Uncle Wiggley," we have come to a decision. "Uncle Wiggley" is now Nigel.
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And,as you can see, he is completely at home already.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Our new cat!

It's a big day! My cat-free life has ended. We have a new cat companion!
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The Ann Arbor News features a Pet of the Week from the Humane Society shelter every week. Last week they listed a little blond cat named (and believe me, we will change this!) "Uncle Wiggley." This little guy is about seven years old and was a stray that was brought in about two months ago. Two months is a long time at a shelter, which is probably why they featured him.
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We just kept finding ourselves thinking about him, and then, in the Sunday paper, they printed a link to a little video. We watched it and that was that. We wanted him!
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Today, while I was at work, Scott went to the shelter and adopted him. Right now he's perched on the back of the couch, peering out the window, as though he's always been here. He follows Scott around the apartment like a little shadow.
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So great to have a feline housemate again!
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Now to come up with a name...!
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

A brand new camera!

Wow! It's been ages since I blogged, and I still don't really have time right now... what a crazy time. I never knew the meaning of busy until the last few weeks!
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In the midst of all the whirl of work work work, a package arrived on my desk. Thinking it was just more work work work, I ripped it open - and discovered - a new camera! It's a Canon Power Shot to replace my mysteriously defunct Sony. A surprise present from my generous parents!
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I was thrilled!
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Traditionally, the first photo I take with a new camera is of my cat. Alas, I now have no cat. But I have a canine friend named Dottie who didn't seem to mind having her portrait picture taken!
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Monday, May 11, 2009

The best vegetarian chili in the world



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For months, maybe years, we've had a recipe on the fridge, which Scott cut out from a newspaper. The headline: "The best vegetarian chili in the world."

Well, Scott made it today. And I have to say. The headline does not lie.

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