Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I'm watching Dottie for a couple of days while Barb's being a faincy business lady on a faincy business trip. I love having my own little temporary chateau with my own little temporary doggie - yay! But Dottie's not so sure about the arrangement.
Nevertheless, even very worried little doggies get sleepy after a while. And sometimes they even put their sleepy little heads down on one's ankles.
Not a great picture (flashless camera phone), but you get the idea.
What a little cutie-pie.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

People born during the Year of the Ox, so they say, are disciplined and hardworking. This week's demonstration of my failure to blog twice weekly indicates that I am not an Ox!
But you know who is? Obama! A "Metal Ox," apparently. Sounds like exactly what we need around here.
Anyway, happy Chinese New Year! I know people call it lunar New Year these days, but I just remember my old school gym festooned with color and excitement and big signs using the old term, and it's hard to give it up, somehow.
Besides, I do have a Chinese name, you know - Mei Hua - so hey! I'm bona fide! I can call it Chinese New Year if I want! ;-)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Page, the amazing mimic!

I just want to share a couple of pictures of Page, the irresistible Schuer dog, who is a perfect mimic.
First case in point. Here she is with me. We're both smiling and squinting happily straight at the camera.
Then we both turn, and her facial expression is oddly similar to mine:
And this is the best one. Christi is kissing her. And look at her tongue! She's already kissing back!
Thanks, Chris, for sending these, and thanks, Barb, for noticing Page's amazing mimicking talents! They appear in several other photos as well. She simply mirrors the emotions of the person she's with!
She's incredible. And just downright lovable.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Inauguration Day

President Obama's inaugural speech, January 20, 2009:
My fellow citizens,

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them— that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive ... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fire demon!

Scott tried to keep the tiny little pine tree from Christmas alive, but it's been failing fast... so he decided to let it go out in style. Check it out: an actual fire demon emerged from it as it combusted!

I don't know about you, but I see a ferocious demon in there! Maybe it's a Rorschach test type of thing and everyone else sees a butterfly, in which case... well... I guess I'm just demonically-minded.

Happy birthday to Penny and Barb, by the way!

Consider this your birthday demon. :-)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yay asthma!

Okay, I went and saw my doctor today, a month and a half or so after that first terrifying bronchospasm. I did a lung-power test (I'm sure there's some fancy term for it - basically you blow into a little thingy, and a little indicator points to a number), and my lung power is about 10 percent below where it should be. Apparently this is significant but not alarming. And that's great!

After the appointment I went and bought the two supplements the doc wants me to take. When I got home, I realized that my daily list of "stuff I take" is growing significantly!

- multivitamin ('cause I always meant to take one but never consistently did till I got sick)

- royal jelly ('cause I got a box of it for Christmas from my parents)

- steroid inhaler ('cause of my recent asthmatic tendencies)

- albuterol inhaler (ditto)

- "N-Acetyl Cysteine" ('cause it apparently boosts lung function and reduces phlegm production)

- magnesium supplement ('cause... well, apparently magnesium is important)

And you know what? It feels good to be taking these things - to be taking proper care of myself. You have to understand, I have always been healthy as a horse, and I took that for granted. I've never had anything significantly wrong with me until this whole asthmatic thing a month ago. (Well, there was the one instance of non-specific abdominal pain a few months ago that landed me in the E.R., but that seems to have been consigned to the realm of eternal mystery!) Now things have changed. I'm taking supplements. Using inhalers. Drinking water. Using a humidifier. Being careful in cold weather. Staying out of smoky places. Obviously, staying smoke-free myself, which is incredibly easy after you've experienced what it's like not being able to breathe. Just being careful. For my own health's sake.

In other words, I'm healthier now that I've been sick than I ever was when I wasn't!

Yay asthma!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Revisiting the holiday break, Part I

I just moved my holiday photos over from my camera, so I want to post a couple of them.
Scott got an iPod Shuffle for Christmas:
Evelyn and Della bestowed their fabulous presence upon us:
Sarah rocked New Year's Eve by showing up in coveralls:
Hank received much recognition upon his death, and his memorial is now beautiful to behold. There's his catnip and his toy, and look how we saved a daisy and the bow from the bouquet. And check out the likeness between the picture of Hank (from fatter and happier times) and the card Wendy sent!
The memorial is even more pleasing when you see it the way we see it, in our dim and comfortable living room lighting:
It's kinda like having Hank still hanging out in front of the furnace.
So that's five random pictures from over the break.
I say "Part I" in the title of this post because my sis-in-law Chris still has a bunch of Christmas photos I am determined to post! Christmas at the Schuers' is always a glorious hullaballoo of shrieks and shredded wrapping paper and laughter, and this year was no different. I'll be posting those eventually, too.
Meanwhile, 2009 is well under way. Book club was awesome (thanks, Norma!), and I'm pleased that we won't be waiting seven weeks again this time before the next one. I've learned that I'm going on an actual business trip in February (first time ever, I might add!). And I'm getting an order together for jars of honey from Pitcairn Island! If you want in, e-mail me!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mulholland Drive

One of my favorite movies ever is David Lynch's bizarre Mulholland Drive. After seeing that several times, I always notice when other movies include shots of that same spot. And, wow, it shows up a lot once you start noticing!

Sis-in-law Angie and her boyfriend Jim were there recently. Must post photos! Too cool!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's Sunday again

Okay, clearly I need to make a New Year's resolution about this blog - I have to write a post at least twice a week. Otherwise what's the point? Consider the resolution made.

Part of it is that this was actually a full five-day week. After the luxuries of having innumerable days off over the break, this hardly seemed possible when Monday rolled around: I had to work five days?! In a row? Outrageous! It was all I could do to struggle through the days, let alone blog at the end of them!

It was good, though, to be back to it. It's going to be a good year, I suspect. It started with a Pousse Rapière cocktail evening with a gaggle of good friends... and continued with a week-long re-reading of Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, mainly because I thought maybe I would understand the ending this time (I didn't)... and I should add that Scott made some incredible mid-week dinners, too. This was a wintry week for staying indoors, reading, and being cooked for. Am I lucky.

Last night was Clint's sixtieth birthday party: memorable as always, and it was fun to be back at the old Clint homestead now that Casey owns it. Who knew it was so spacious without all those plants and birds in it?! I love standing there in the pink kitchen (Clint: "It's peach! Peach! Not pink!"), enthusiastically prattling at people I only see once a year in that very spot, and probably saying much the same things as last year, but who cares? This year it was particularly fun to reminisce about the Eurovision song contest and rave about salt licorice with Casey's new upstairs tenant, who is Norwegian. Sometimes you gotta let yourself get nostalgic!

And this afternoon is book club. I'm making spinach artichoke dip in my new appetizer-size slow cooker, which, by the way, is tiny and adorable. I do have to stop collecting slow cookers, though. Three slow cookers are enough for anyone, Maeve. Stop. (I bought this one with a Christmas gift card, though, so hey! It doesn't count.)

Now - more coffee.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

First post of the new year

Well, I've cleared away Christmas. The tree is packed away. The mischievous kravlenisser are gone. The cards are put away - I didn't get around to sending any this year, so I am surprised and happy that people sent me any - thank you so much! The Christmas gløgg has been drunk, as has the batch of små grå that Scott whipped up for the New Year's Eve shenanigans.

The only thing left of the holidays (other than the presents, of course - hurrah!) is this stupid cold I managed to get a couple of days ago. Am I doomed to have a cold almost constantly? And to think I used to be so proud of how rarely I got sick.

Never mind, though. This means I get my one cold of 2009 out of the way early in January! I believe! I believe! This is my only cold of the year!

I start the new year grateful for friends and family. It was a terrific holiday break, filled with people I love being with. And such a long break, too! Frankly, I've forgotten what work is. What do I do, again?! But I'm also grateful for some groovy coworkers, who make it downright fun to go to work every day. How many people get to say that? I really do rummage around the data sandbox with some awesome people.

I also start the new year happy that we did the right thing for my little Hank. Who knows - perhaps I will even enjoy a cat-free life! For a while, anyway. Eventually, a cat will find Scott and me, move in, and benevolently employ us as its indentured house-servants. Meanwhile, I have 17 years' worth of memories of my ridiculous, loving, and none-too-swift little orange cat, who absolutely adored me. And, let's face it, my litterbox-free bathroom smells nice for a change.

Everything, except for this stupid cold, is a fresh start. Heck, we've even got an exciting new president being inaugurated in less than a fortnight!

Let's carpe the ol' diem, eh?

Whoo hoo!

(And atchoo!)