Sunday, January 31, 2010

tales from the litter box

Ah, the ongoing saga that is Jasper's health.

Back around Christmas time (when I was in Michigan visiting my family), Jasper started having random, unexplained bouts of diarrhea... all over the house. Poor Jason could barely get one mess cleaned up before there was another one stinking it up someplace else.

I took Jasper to the vet when I got back to California, they checked him (and his, ahem, donations) out, and they found nothing. We switched him to a new brand of insulin (because of concerns about the old kind's efficacy) and opened a new bag of food, and the diarrhea tapered off.

A week ago it started up again in full force for no apparent reason. He was waking us up in the middle of the night because he'd go pour his insides out in the corner of our bedroom, complete with sound effects. You can probably imagine... Needless to say, we've spent a fortune on carpet cleaner.

We took him back to the vet on Friday. We had to get his blood sugar tested anyway since he's on the new insulin, and I wanted to revisit the diarrhea thing. The veterinarian wants to try prescription food (a different kind than what we had him on a year ago that gave him such a horrible allergic reaction, although it is the same brand), so I've been introducing that and phasing out their normal food. Feeding our cats different foods doesn't work very well; we've tried it before and it's just easier to give all three of them the same thing. Luckily, they all seem to love the prescription food. As long as Jasper isn't allergic to it, I think we have a winner. And he hasn't had diarrhea since yesterday, so at the very least, the prescription food isn't making it worse.

On the plus side, he's no longer having trouble with clumsiness. He's even lost enough weight (he's down to 17.1 pounds, from 25.9 two years ago) that he can jump onto the bathroom counter, which he hasn't been able to do since he was a kitten.

Despite the sick tummy and constant poking and prodding, Jasper is the happiest, most loving cat you could imagine. He's leaning against me as I type this, purring contentedly. I can't imagine our little family without him.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where in the World Wednesday: San Francisco

It's Where in the World Wednesday!

The idea of WITWW is to post a picture of you in someplace in the world... it doesn't have to be somewhere foreign or tropical. Just a picture of you somewhere that you consider traveling. It might even be somewhere in your own hometown!

- Classy in Philadelphia
As I mentioned previously, my sister was in San Francisco last week being A Person Who Travels on Business. She's so important that her employer ensconced her in a frou-frou hotel where the valet-only parking costs $57 a night. I don't understand expensive hotels. You pay so much, only to have to pay even more for things that are free at cheaper hotels. At a place so expensive, shouldn't even more things be gratis? Not at this place. Internet access was $10 a day, and you can forget about continental breakfast in the morning. I'm surprised there were complimentary toiletries. To be fair, a Wall Street Journal was left at her door in the morning... but you can't eat that.

I work until 2:30 p.m. most days, so I was able to drive the 210 miles up to San Fran in time to meet her for dinner Friday evening. After some wandering, we settled on Taylor's Automatic Refresher, a diner-esque (nicer than) fast-food joint. We caught up over french fries and then headed back to her hotel, where we caught up some more. Never mind that we talk to each other every day--we always have something to talk about. With my Maryland-dwelling best friend only a few hours away, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to talk in person. (You guys, I love my sister.)

The next morning we woke up to the sound of box after box after box being dropped down a chute in the sidewalk, presumably into the storage area of the CVS across the street. Being products of suburbia, this was both annoying and intriguing to our delicate ears and morning sensibilities. We ran out to pick up bagels at Noah's before packing our bags, summoning my car, and heading out for some morning adventures in the rain.

Our first stop was Pier 39 to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz (but only from afar), and the sea lions.

Oh, the sea lions. I could have watched them for hours. They'd just be sitting there, lazing in the sun (that finally came out), and then one would bark, then all of the rest of them would start barking back. It went in cycles. Plus they had fat rolls just like someone I know. (Oh wait, it's me.)

Check them out:

Not my video, and NSFW if you sit by anyone who dislikes sea lion barking.

We finally tore ourselves away from the sea lions so that we could fit in a visit to Ghirardelli Square for lunch. Well, okay, for chocolate. But we did have lunch, too, at Lori's Diner. ...After we had chocolate. All too soon it was time to take my sister to the airport for her flight back east.

I plan to return to San Francisco with Jason when we have some spare change (after our taxes are paid and our furniture is paid off). I want to introduce him to my barking friends, go tour the 'traz, and dine among the vegetarian elite at Millennium. And maybe we'll do something Jason likes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

food interlude

(We'll be back to regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow.)

Here's what I've been making lately:

Potato, spinach, and white bean soup (based on potato and kale soup from Robin Robertson's 1,000 Vegan Recipes)

Carbonara-style spaghetti (also from 1,000 Vegan Recipes)

Farfalle with white beans and roasted asparagus (1kVR again)

Walnut brownies (made with Bob's Red Mill gluten-free brownie mix

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I told you all the neighborhood cats like my house better than their own.

Jason was sitting at the kitchen table having breakfast at about 5:45 this morning when he looked up from his cereal bowl and said, "Hey, the neighbor's cat is outside!" I went over to the door to look, expecting to see stalker cat Coco. Instead, there was little Boots, Crazy Navy Wife's kitten, sitting out on the patio. It was cold, dark, and rainy, so I marched out there in my sock feet, scooped her up, and brought her inside. Apparently, little miss Boots has a penchant for running away. I let a few hours pass before I called CNW and left a message on her machine that I had her cat.

I was thrilled to see Boots again, but my three cats... not so much. Boots spent the morning chowing down on all of the edible items in sight (leading me to believe that she'd been out overnight) and chasing Jacob and Jasper around the house. Lola sat in the corner of the living room and growled menacingly every time Boots crossed her line of sight. She growled even when Boots wasn't in the room, presumably for good measure in case any more kittens were thinking of stopping by. All three of them kept looking at me with a pleading look, like oh please oh please oh please can't you just send her home, already?

My poor antisocial cats don't play well with others. I have no idea whatsoever where they picked that up. Certainly not from me... What?

Not to be left out of the fun, Coco came over, too. I don't know why, since Coco doesn't play well with others, either. It was the meeting of the neighborhood tuxedo cats. I guess Boots won the staredown, because Coco eventually walked away.

CNW came over to retrieve Boots around lunchtime. Our interaction was actually fairly pleasant this time. She even thanked me twice.

Maybe I don't have to deflate her Christmas monstrosities next holiday season after all.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where in the World Wednesday: Bella Italia!

Buona sera, and welcome to Where in the World Wednesday!

The idea of WITWW is to post a picture of you in someplace in the world... it doesn't have to be somewhere foreign or tropical. Just a picture of you somewhere that you consider traveling.

- Classy in Philadelphia
As you might have gathered already, we're going to Italy this week, which is where I was in July 1999, on the last leg of a trip to Europe with my high school French class.

We left off last week in the south of France. From Nice, we drove along the coast to Pisa (home of the Leaning Tower--which was still leaning then) for the day. On the way from Pisa to Montecatini, we stopped in Lucca, a Tuscan city known for the walls that surround the heart of town that date back to the Renaissance.

It's also where my Italian roots are! You'd never be able to tell by looking at me, with my German/Swedish blond hair and blue eyes, but I have a sliver of Italian in me, too. In another life, I was a Frediani! My mom and I managed to dig up a phone book at a random shop and found a whole page full of Fredianis. Distant cousins, perhaps? We'll never know. The picture is of me in Lucca. I have no idea if the building had any significance or if we just liked the arches. Either way, it was cool to go home after the trip and tell my grandmother that we'd been to Lucca.

After a night in Montecatini, we made our way to Florence, where my mom took another picture of me with some arches. (I'm sensing a theme.) I don't remember the significance of this building, either, so I'm just going to give credit to the arches.

After Florence we spent two days in Rome, touring ruins, storming the Vatican, avoiding predatory Italian men, and such. Then it was time to say ciao, bella to the boot and jet it back home to the mitten.

Looking back, I'm realizing that I sure did get to do a lot in high school. I don't know if my sixteen-year-old self deserved it, but I sure am grateful to have had the experiences that I did. Maybe someday I'll take my Italian husband back to his motherland and show him some arches.

In the meantime, we have to settle for the ones here in Lemoore:

I guess all the rain and nastiness that started yesterday wasn't for nothing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Get the ark ready.

It's raining, it's pouring, the old man Jason is snoring (because he already went to bed).

The roads are flooding here on base and out in town. It makes me think fondly of Virginia Beach, where the roads flooded more often than not. The thing about California floods that I do not like is the smell. My god, the smell. NAS Lemoore is surrounded by cow farms, and when it rains, the smell is nearly unbearable. Think rotten eggs and feces, which are bad enough on their own, but combined... Well, no wonder so many of the people here are knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers. Jason reminded me last night that we only have two more years here until we can negotiate for orders somewhere else, and I can say with some certainty that we'd happily go anywhere else (except Massachusetts). It's supposed to be rainy again tomorrow, and windy to boot. So the feces-egg soup will seep into my house if I so much as look at a window or door.

Meanwhile, my dear sister is cooling her heels up in the equally rainy San Francisco for a business trip. I'll be heading up there on Friday to invade her hotel room, but Internet isn't free there so you might never hear about it.

You can hear more about my trip last Friday, though, now that I'm not being so emo. Jason had to go to Morro Bay because he was volunteering to be a creek sampler for the Morro Bay National Estuary Program. What that really means is that he got to wear big rubber wading boots and carry around a clipboard for two hours while nerds told him numbers to write down. It'll make him look better come Navy evaluation time, so he was happy to give up a few hours of his precious Friday, and I was happy to go along for the ride.

Once he was done being clipboard man, he fetched me from the coffee shop over which I was presiding, and we traipsed about Morro Bay on foot, finding things like yard lions, weird old cars, and sleeping shop cats. I am a fan of all three. Behold:

We stopped at a vegetarian café/health food store that Jason (aka best husband ever) had pre-scouted for a late lunch. I probably stared at the menu board for 10 minutes before I finally made up my mind. I'm not used to having options! I also spent just a few minutes (you know, like 45) perusing the shelves, making googly eyes at all of the health food store goodies that little old Lemoore has never heard of. I ended up buying two gallons of nutritional yeast, some of which I turned into a wicked vegan cheeseburger macaroni at home over the weekend. Yum.

In other news, Fatty Fat is in full effect. I am currently matching my highest weight ever. Yay for me.

As long as I lose some of it in time for my sister's wedding in June 2011, I'll be fine.

Until then? Sweatpants.

Friday, January 15, 2010

In which I try to write meaningfully about Haiti... and fail.

I've been avoiding reading or watching coverage of the earthquake in Haiti. It's upsetting to me, and sitting there crying about it doesn't accomplish anything for me or for the people who are suffering.

And it makes me feel guilty to be sitting here in a cute little coffee shop in the coastal California tourist town Morro Bay, wearing a new sweater and boots, drinking a four dollar cup of chai after road-tripping it here in our Corvette yesterday, having dinner out, and spending the night in a hotel.

I think nothing of throwing away money on frivolous beverages while the people in Haiti don't even have water to drink. Think about that. Just pause and think. The last time you purchased a beverage, did you even think about it? Or did you just buy it, drink it (maybe not even all of it), and toss the bottle away without a second thought? Because that's what I do. Sure, I try not to waste anything and I recycle, but I never think about the possibility of not having anything to drink.

I'm privileged. That's what it comes down to. I'm incredibly privileged. There's not much that I want that I don't eventually get. Privileged and spoiled.

But this post isn't supposed to be about me. It's about the people of Haiti who need help. Desperately.

If you identify with anything I've said about privilege, please give what you can to organizations that are working in Haiti. I donated to Doctors Without Borders today, and there is a helpful guide of groups to support and those to avoid at Lifehacker. If you are reading this, you are probably equally as privileged as I am, so please give. It's as simple as skipping that daily $5 cup of coffee.

P.S. Go enter Classy in Philadelphia's giveaway. It's jewelry--you know you want to!

P.P.S. I recognize the irony of bloviating about the importance of charitable giving and then going right back to my materialistic ways in the very next breath, but think of it this way: if you win the giveaway you can give the money that you otherwise would have spent on jewelry to charity. See how nicely that works?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Where in the World Wednesday: Paris, 1999

I've been taking a little break from living on the Internet, but I'm back for the moment to bring you another installment of Where in the World Wednesday.

The idea of WITWW is to post a picture of you in someplace in the world... it doesn't have to be somewhere foreign or tropical. Just a picture of you somewhere that you consider traveling.
- Classy in Philadelphia
This week we're going to France. Oui oui! I went on a trip to England, France, Monaco, and Italy with my French class for two weeks in July of 1999. My mom came along as a chaperone, and I was glad to have her company (and someone to room with so that I didn't get stuck sharing with any of the girls I didn't like). Yes, that's right, I liked my mom enough to share a room with her for two weeks when I was sixteen. Could you have said that when you were sixteen?

We had two days in London before taking a boat across the English Channel to France. I listened to the Titanic soundtrack in my Discman the entire crossing. It seemed appropriate somehow. Remember life before iPods?

Once in France, my mom and I vowed to speak only French to each other, and we actually lasted quite a few days. At that point I was semi-fluent. I can still read in French fairly well, but speaking and writing are another matter entirely. Use it or lose it, mes amis!

In Paris, I marvelled at the Eiffel Tower. I must have dozens of pictures of it from over the span of a few days (note the different outfits in the pictures)--and that's not counting the ones I took looking out over the city when we climbed it. La Tour Eiffel... I love it so much that I even have a series of pictures of it being built hanging in our bedroom.

165 days until the year 2000!

We saw Notre Dame Cathedral and took an evening boat cruise on the Batobus (bateau bus, or boat bus) down the river Seine. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep on the cruise because I was so jet-lagged. Oops.

We toured the Paris opera house, Palais Garnier, which some of you may know as the setting of The Phantom of the Opera (both the 1909 Gaston Leroux novel and the 1986 Andrew Lloyd Webber musical). My mom and I are huge Phantom fans, so of course we had to find Box Five--the Phantom's box! As in:

Did I not instruct that Box Five was to be kept empty?
If you read that silently (or, even better, out loud) to yourself in Michael Crawford's Phantom voice, let's be best friends.

(Your part is silent, little toad).

When our time in Paris came to an end, we boarded an overnight sleeper train to Nice and the French Riviera. I don't know if I'll ever take a train trip like that again, but it was cool to do it at least once--and surrounded by friends instead of by strangers. The south of France was sunny and gorgeous and tropical, with brightly colored flowers (and perfume factories) blooming left and right, as you'd expect.

But I didn't take my best picture there.

No, my best picture was taken fifty miles outside of Paris, on the flower-lined path leading up to the home of Claude Monet in the village of Giverny. Using it is bending the rules a little because I'm not in it, but indulge me just this once:

My crappy little point-and-shoot film camera didn't do it justice at all, but there's something about the combination of the path, the sky, and the flowers that pulls me in to this picture and takes me back to that beautiful day.

Somebody make sure I have a copy of this picture when I'm old and in a nursing home, because I could look at it all day long.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Where in the World Wednesday: More Disney

It's Wednesday (at least it still is on the West Coast, anyway), so it's time for my second go-round of Classy in Philadelphia's Where in the World Wednesday!

Says Classy in Philly: The idea of WITWW is to post a picture of you in someplace in the world... it doesn't have to be somewhere foreign or tropical. Just a picture of you somewhere that you consider traveling.

This week I want to finish up what I started last week: the Disney trip I went on with my mom and sister for Christmas and New Year's in 1998. While we were at Disney World, we stayed at what is now Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter (back then it was just Port Orleans). We had stayed there on a previous trip when I was in elementary school, and picked it again because it wasn't heinously expensive and because we liked it.

The walkways were lined with faux hitching posts with horse heads on the top. The whole place had a pseudo-Southern atmosphere. It was authentic enough for this Northern girl!

We met some princesses at the Magic Kingdom. I'm betting that the princess job is not as glamorous as it looks. And also that those costumes could use a good laundering. We went to Epcot, where I apparently didn't take any pictures, and to Hollywood Studios, where I rocked the Star Wars speeder outside the Star Tours attraction.

Judging by the change of clothes, it got quite a bit warmer the day we went to Hollywood Studios.

Sometime in the next couple of years I intend to drag Jason along to Disneyland, now that we live just a few hours away from it. I've never done Disney California-style, and Jason's never done any Disney at all! It's my mission to make up for his bleak, deprived, Mickey-less childhood... and luckily for me, he's all for it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

twenty ten pounds heavier

We're four days into 2010, and any hint of a resolution to lose weight has been squashed into submission by the 8 pounds of cookbooks I got for Christmas.

Yes, I weighed them.

And then I weighed myself and the scale's cries reverberated throughout NAS Lemoore.

And then Jason got me a happy yellow bookshelf so I can keep said 8 pounds of cookbooks in the kitchen instead of having to haul my cookbook-heavy butt down the hall to get them off of my office bookshelf (which would take my time away from churning out peanut butter ice cream pies).

I've noticed that a lot of recipes these days call for a food processor. I am Amish behind the times and do not have a food processor. You may have noticed that there's a peanut butter-covered potato masher in the measuring cup above. That is because my blender did not take kindly to being asked to combine two cups of peanut butter with a quart of soy ice cream, so I had to scrape all that gooeyness out of the blender and combine it the old-fashioned way: with ingenuity and elbow grease. As a result, my pie turned out to be peanut butter chunk ice cream pie. I love peanut butter, so to me it is almost better with the unblended peanut butter pockets in there, but that's not what the recipe intended.

I also used a premade Oreo crust rather than making my own--the recipe says to process vegan chocolate cookies (like Oreos, minus the filling) into crumbs, but... no food processor. I suppose I could have put them in a plastic bag and used a rolling pin to crush them, but there's only so much DIY assembly I can take before I reach my manual labor quota for the day. I have to save some energy for my fork-to-mouth bicep curls.

For my next recipe, I'm thinking I'll skip the middleman and make something I can stuff in my mouth sans fork: chai spice cookies.

Oh, and in a sign that the apocalypse is approaching... Crazy Navy Wife came up to me on New Year's Eve while I was unloading rum and paper towel groceries from the car, informed me that they were having a party and that we were welcome to come on over, and then semi-apologized for being such a heinous monster. We didn't go, despite her promise of "plenty of alcohol"--I'm not trying to do anything irresponsible in front of someone who has already threatened to call the police on me for driving down my own street. Next time I see her patrolling the block, though, I'll smile and wave. It can't hurt to feign pleasantries.