Sunday, January 24, 2016

Woo Hoo!!!!

OK, it's been one heckuva weekend for the sports-fan in me.

First of all, we had beautiful 65 degree weather on Saturday (18C) - sorry to gloat East Coast friends, but it was amazing! CatMan and I went for a bike ride and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. I would have taken some photos for you, except that we didn't stop! We just rode 25 miles non-stop and I've gotta tell you, my little legs are feelin' it today!

I'm not quite back in biking shape yet, but it was fabulously wonderful.

Then I came home in time to watch the Ladies Free Skate at the National Figure Skating Championships.

I'm sure this won't mean much to most of you, but it was an amazing show! The two favorites, Ashley Wagner (who sorta annoys me) and Gracie Gold (who I just love) had both made major errors on their short programs earlier. This left the door open for the youngster, Polina Edmunds, who took a commanding lead.

Anyhow, Ashley made a few mistakes in her long program, which landed her barely in first place with both Polina and Gracie still to skate. Then Polina came out and skated fabulously.

Gracie was the last skater, and the odds were long. She would literally have to skate perfectly, and score significantly better than she'd ever done before, so I was pretty sure that she was only skating for second.

Then this happened:

As I said, I'm pretty sure this won't mean anything to you since I don't think any of my readers follow figure skating, but that was one of the most amazing clutch performances I've ever seen! Go Gracie!!!

For those who didn't want to watch the video, she was amazing
and scored a personal best to win the championship

OK... so then today, my beloved Denver Broncos were underdogs in the AFC championship game. Once again, I know most of you could care less, but here's the storyline.

Our legendary quarterback, Peyton Manning is nearly 40 years old, which is ancient for an NFL quarterback. He had a rough season, missing nearly half of the games with a foot injury. Our backup QB played well enough to keep us in contention, and many were saying that the great Peyton Manning's career would end with a sputter... sitting on the bench watching a younger guy play.

But then, in the final game of the regular season, with Peyton's foot mostly healed, but still sitting on the bench quietly accepting his new role as backup, things were not going well. We were losing badly and all hope seemed lost. Then the coach decided to give the old man one last chance and Peyton rallied the team to victory.

Peyton played again last week in our first playoff game, and once again led the team to a hard fought victory to land us a spot in today's AFC championship game against the New England Patriots. But everyone figured that was it, and that the Patriots (who won the Superbowl last year) would crush us.

But they didn't count on the tenacity of my Bronco babies. It literally came down to the last play, but we hung on to win the game, giving Peyton one last shot at the Superbowl and a chance to go out with a bang rather than a whimper.

OK... I know that many of you don't share my love of sports, and I know there are plenty of good reasons not to support sports, but for me, the stories behind the competition really hit home.

Things get tough... you get knocked down, and sometimes it looks like everything is lost. But in the end hard work and perseverance can pay off as long as you never give up.

Go Gracie!!!!! (World Championships: March 28-April 3)
Go Broncos!!!! (Superbowl 50:  February 7)
Go Cat!!! (Next bike ride: my legs won't hurt quite so much!)


Monday, January 18, 2016

My Purse (or Lack Thereof)

I've run into a few things on the interwebs recently that got me to thinking about my purse... so I figured I'd show it to you:

Yup folks, this and a phone is all that I carry.

It wasn't always this way. Years ago I was one of those women who lugged around a huge bag with everything but the kitchen sink in it.

Then one day, the unthinkable happened. It got stolen. It was nothing terribly dramatic like getting mugged or something - it was taken from under my desk in my private office at work.

But let me tell you folks... it was a total nightmare!

Thankfully, at the time we had a number of rooms in the music school that were kept locked, so I had a habit of carrying my keys in my pocket - if not for that, it could have been much, much worse.

As it was, by the time I got home and called my credit card companies, several thousand dollars had been charged to my accounts. I immediately froze all of the accounts and thankfully didn't have to pay for the charges.

But that's just the beginning of the nightmare. I had been to the bank earlier that day, and had requested a printout of all of my account balances. So my purse had all of the account numbers with balance info in it, as well as my checkbook.

I called the bank and immediately froze all of my accounts - as well as calling the credit agencies and freezing everything from that end.

So now the real nightmare began.

Everything had been in my purse... EVERTYHING - and now it was gone. I had no ID, I had no cash, I had no access to my bank accounts or credit cards, and I found myself caught in an infinite loop of sorts, because without ID, there was no way to un-freeze any of my accounts or start the process of re-building. And there was also no way to replace my ID without other forms of ID - all of which had also been in my purse.

The only way forward was to get a certified copy of my birth certificate. Now, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I was born during a stint when my father was teaching at the University of Hawaii. We moved back to the mainland when I was an infant, but this fact significantly complicated the process of getting a certified copy of my birth certificate. I looked on the State of Hawaii webpage, and they said they could get me one in a few hours if I came into the office.... well... um... let's see, I'll just hop on a plane without any money... um nope!

I ended up requesting the birth certificate by mail, but I had to pay $14 or so... and my checking account had been frozen... I ended up borrowing some cash from CatMan and getting a cashier's check to pay for the birth certificates - which took several weeks to arrive. (And yes... in case you're curious, it looks just like Obama's - we were born in the same hospital.)

Oh, but the joy was just beginning. I had all of my paychecks automatically deposited into my checking account, and all of my bills automatically withdrawn. The account had to be closed permanently, and thus began the process of contacting every institution that I paid bills to out of that account and redoing the entire process... plus dealing with the bills that hadn't gotten paid in the weeks that it took to get the birth certificate so I could get a replacement driver's license, so I could open a new checking account to start over.


Anyhow, the whole experience was horrible enough, that I decided to make some changes.

The first thing I did was to get rid of the purse! I decided that anything as important as a credit card or my driver's license was going to stay on my person whenever I was out of the house. The little coin purse pictured above works perfectly. It's just big enough to carry a few cards and some cash, but small enough to fit nicely into a pocket.

This does mean that I need to pick my clothing carefully to ensure that I have adequate pockets (preferably pockets with zippers), but that's a small price to pay for never having to go through the whole stolen purse thing again.

The other change I made was to stop carrying everything important with me. I actually opened a second checking account that I call my spending account. I only keep a few hundred bucks in there at any given time, and I have a debit card for that account that I carry with me - no check book. My "main checking account" still has everything automatically deposited and deducted, but that checkbook lives in a locked box in a safe place in my house, and NOTHING with that info on it ever leaves the house.

I also keep some emergency cash in a safe place at home, and only carry one credit card with me - the others stay in the lock box at home.

When I first made these changes I thought it would be a huge inconvenience, but the truth is, it is just SO MUCH EASIER! You never have to worry about leaving it somewhere, or deal with the thing sliding off your shoulder, or lugging it around. I think it's safe to say that I will never go back!

So how about you? Do you carry a big purse with you? Have you ever had it stolen? What do you think about this whole topic?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Yesterday was Jasper's post-surgery checkup and I am happy to announce that he is healing wonderfully from his oral surgery. He still has some sutures from where they had to extract the three bad teeth, but they are the absorbable variety, so he doesn't have to go back to get them out, and with any luck we are finished with the vet for a good long while! Woo Hoo!

He has his last antibiotic pill last night, so we're done with that too! And with the creative use of empty gel-caps and tuna fish, I didn't even have to resort to pilling him. Yay!

To make my sense of being done even better, I also finished up some tedious editing that I was doing on one of my webpages... that project that took several months, and I've just felt like everything was in a holding pattern until it was done.

But now it's all done!!! Hooray!

Done done done done done... dun be dooby,
done done done done done... dun be dooby
done done done done done... dun be dooby done
Wah wah wah waaaaaaah.
(that was supposed to be sung to the intro of the song Come Go with Me... just in case you somehow missed that oh, so obvious reference.)

I'm not sure why, but getting those things over and done with has filled me with a sense of openness and new possibilities. For the first time in seemingly forever, I actually feel like I can take a deep breath, focus my energies and move forward. And if feels fabulous!

So the first thing I did was to start working on finding good homes for the feral cat houses that I no longer need. 

The TNR (trap neuter & return) group that helped me trap and fix the cats said they'd take them, but I felt like perhaps there was a better way to use them to get some of the folks in my neighborhood (who are feeding but not fixing) on board with TNR.

So, inspired by something Eliza wrote in a recent post over at Happy Simple Living, I decided to sign up for - which is a networking site focused on connecting you with folks in your immediate neighborhood. 

I signed up and posted something in the free section offering the cat shelters. So far I've connected with two separate women in the immediate area who are feeding the feral cats.

I met with one of them today and she was delighted to have one of the houses. As we were chatting she was telling me that one of the cats she cares for has an injured leg, and she was at her wits end trying to figure out how to get it to a vet. So I told her all about the feral cat organization, and how they rent out traps, and about their feral cat clinic and the TNR program. She was so happy to learn that there was an organization out there that could actually help her, and was thrilled to learn about TNR.

I'm still playing phone tag with the other woman, but I'm hoping for a similar outcome. 

Perhaps this is crazy, but if I can somehow take the very painful experience of losing Gray Boy and having to give up the kittens, and use it to help other people help cats... well, I feel like it's a big win all around. 

I mean, I couldn't save Gray Boy, and I've pretty much decided that I just can't emotionally or financially take on the responsibility of caring for any more feral cats. But I can help other people save other cats. And if I can get even a few people in the neighborhood to TNR instead of just feeding... well, the impact will be multiplied many times over.

And I can't think of a better legacy for my sweet beautiful Gray Boy.

It sure feels good to be moving forward again. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Separated by a Common Language

So I've been musing over the differences between American and British English again. This time it was prompted by reading a blog post about someone who received a package of biscuits in the mail from a friend.

My first thought was... "My, that's an odd gift! Aren't you supposed to eat them hot from the oven? And wouldn't they get all smooshed in the mail?" Then I remembered that she's Australian, so she probably meant cookies.

British Biscuits
American Biscuits

Well, at least she didn't call them "digestives" - that one always leaves me feeling a bit queasy in the stomach!

British Digestive

American Digestive??

Anyhow, it all reminded me of a little revelation that I had over the holidays while watching an old version of A Christmas Carol. It suddenly dawned on me that "plum pudding" is actually cake, and not some sort of disgusting fruit custard as I had always imagined! Well, that's a relief!

British Pudding

American Pudding

I also get confused when British people talk about eating "chips".

British Chips

American Chips

And I can't help but blush when the British talk about using a "rubber" in school, because here in America, a "rubber" is... well... not something one would expect to see in the classroom!

British Rubbers

American Rubbers

And, of course, my image of camping in Britain got much less... um... exciting, when I finally figured out that a "torch" was a flashlight. I had pictured the British out in the woods, reliving some sort of pagan Celtic ritual... but no.

British Torch

American Torch

Oh yes, and I have finally figured out that when British people say they're going to visit the chemist's they're not talking about a mad scientist.

Visiting the British Chemist

Visiting the American Chemist

And just the other day I stumbled upon something about "candyfloss" that had me entirely mystified until I looked it up!

British Candyfloss
American Candyfloss???

Then, of course there are jumpers...

British Jumper

American Jumper

And bonnets...
British Bonnet

American Bonnet
And boots...

British Boot

American Boot

And we won't even talk about the whole "fanny" thing...

American Fanny

British Fanny

And in researching this post I just discovered that if a British person is giving their child a "dummy" it's not because they want them to become a ventriloquist!

British Dummy

American Dummy
Who knew?

So tell me, do you ever get confused when chatting with someone across the pond?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Ice Man Rideth!

OK... before I start just wanted to pass along some good news. Just got a call from my vet and Jasper's dental surgery went just fine. I get to go pick him up in a little bit. Yay and Phew!

The vet had to extract 3 teeth, one of which was so bad that it was actually loose and probably causing significant pain. My poor little JassyBoy! Well, hopefully we can look forward to some calm in the land of kitties now.

So, back to the story at hand.

It's been nearly a month since I've been able to ride my bike. Our big blizzard was 3 weeks ago and while the main streets are long since clear, the side streets and bike paths are another story altogether.

I went for a walk yesterday and many of the side streets still look like this:

Oy! I actually went for a little reconnaissance drive this morning to warm up the car before taking Jasper to the vet, and... well... I think it's gonna be a while. I couldn't find a clear route to even get to the bike path, plus it doesn't look like it's been plowed, so there's snow and ice covering it in the shady spots.

Oh well, I guess this just means that I'll have to spend more time doing yoga!

CatMan, on the other hand, was going absolutely stir crazy. Because of his neurological issues, bike riding is one of the few forms of exercise that he can enjoy, and he was suffering from cabin fever big time!

So he dropped $250 and bought himself a set of these:

Yup, those are studded snow tires. He says they're absolutely amazing and he's able to ride through snow and rutted ice with no problems. He even rode up a hill totally covered with glare ice while people on foot couldn't even get up it!

I've gotta admit, I'm tempted. But here's the thing....

It's COLD out there!

OK, well, today we're actually having a heat wave and it's nearly 50 degrees outside, but still... when there's snow and ice covering the ground all around you it gets pretty darned chilly no matter what the air temperature is. Throw in the wind factor (riding 20mph has the same wind chill as if the wind was blowing 20mph) and Brrrrr!

So I'm thinkin' it's gonna be a while before I'm puttin' any miles on my bike again.

But I did do my annual odometer reset, and considering the flooding this spring, I'm pretty satisfied with these numbers.

Yup, that's over 2500 miles on the bike and less than 650 in the car - and no, that trip meter didn't go around multiple times, I really only drove about 50 miles a month. Woo Hoo!

I'm just hoping that some of the snow and ice will melt over the next day or two, because the snow is scheduled to return later this week. Sigh.

I suppose in the meantime I'll just have to content myself with vicariously experiencing the IceMan's - er, I mean CatMan's rides!

Did I mention I got him an iPhone for his birthday last month?

Well, he's been wanting one for a loooong time, and I'm afraid I may have created a monster. He's installed a tracking app so I can actually watch his bike rides and seethe with jealousy in real time.

But the worst is that he now thinks he wants to start texting! OMG, what have I done?!?!?

Well anyhow, I'm off to go pick up my sweet Jasper Pea... Happy Happy Happy!!!!

So tell me, are the roads bike-able in your neck of the woods?