February 28, 2006

a long week in the Northeast

Tom has spent the last week in Baltimore, MD and Philadelphia, PA. Here are some pictures of where he was- the first two are the job site in the Baltimore suburbs, a very nice retirement community named Carroll Lutheran Village... this house is great, with the porch, and the views across the hills- I wanna retire someplace like this!!! The other two pictures were taken on Sunday, his only free day of the trip. Since he had to stay over for the weekend, he at least did something exciting with his time. He called me Sunday afternoon to tell me he was at the top of the Washington Monument... how cool is that??? And the seagull picture just cracked me up!

He's finally on his way home, thank goodness- but, up till the LAST minute, he wasn't sure. (disclaimer- any negative opinions expressed here are solely my own- venting to follow!) For some background: since the retirement community has single-family homes, they need to have a wireless network for part of the system- receivers in the attics of some of the houses that pick up signals from the surrounding area and send them on via antenna to the main system... and one of the receivers just wouldn't work, no matter what he tried to do to it. The company "Network Guy" had been there before Tom was, and he couldn't get it to work- they thought they had a fix for it, so they had Tom work on it again, but Friday when he worked on it, he still couldn't get it to work. So, Tom was talking to his boss this afternoon as he was driving to the airport to catch his flight, and was told... "give me a little time before you turn the car in, we might come up with something." !!!!!! They couldn't have worked out the issues between Friday and today (Tuesday??) ??!!?? Anytime up until he was driving to the airport would have been better, actually...I won't say anything more about it, but I had a few choice words at the ready when he called me and told me this... not just because I want him to come home, but because he was almost at the airport! Make up your minds, people!!! (And, a saying I hold true to: "A crisis on your part does not necessarily constitute an emergency on my part" especially when the crisis is because of poor planning!) [ Rant over.]

But, he is coming home, and will be home around 12:30 am.

February 21, 2006

a wonderful weekend! Now, back to reality-

Tom and I had a wonderful weekend, after his (basically) week off of comp time:

Tom spent Saturday messing around with his flight simulator program while I was gone- he downloaded a new plane made by some group of Asian plane enthusiasts... These planes have very realistic graphics and controls, but since English was not their first language, he was having some problems understanding the hundreds of pages of instruction manual that came with the plane download. I talked to him at one point during the day, and he said it had been over 1 1/2 hours, and he still hadn't figured out how to do even the simplest things with it. (he thinks this kind of thing is fun... go figure! I would be knocking my head against the wall, if it was me.)

The scrapbooking crop I went to on Saturday was pretty fun- of course, I took all my paper, half my stamps, an assortment of punches, fibers, etc. etc. etc. And did I have anything planned for any of those supplies? No!! But, I did get 12 pages done (minus journaling), and had a good time doing it. (I'll post pictures of a couple of my favorites once I get the digital camera back from Tom.) Lisa, the woman who runs these crops, has quite a business- she arranges day-long crops in Scottsdale, and is expanding to the East or West Valley suburbs, as well as Tucson and Lake Havasu City. There are even overnight crops during the summer, which might be kinda fun- set up your stuff, stay up as late as you want, sleep at the hotel, and leave it all set up for the next day!

I got there a little late (not planning until the night before tends to delay things!), around 10 am, and got settled in at my 6 foot table (! loads of space !). I was across from another new person; most everyone else had been to these crops before, and were there with friends. There was a Close to my Heart consultant who did a make-and-take project- a cute card using some of their new stamps. Throughout the day, we collected tickets for pages completed, and Lisa drew ticket numbers to win prizes. I won a new magazine issue and a couple other things I can't remember. Lunch was served on the patio right outside the ballroom, next to the pool. There were actually hotel guests swimming, although I thought it was a bit chilly to swim (mid 60s).

I ran out of steam around 9 pm; the crop went till midnight, but there was no way I would have made it that long... there were between 10 and 15 people still there when I left, though!

I spent some time doing fancier than normal things on some of my pages, since I had the time. I also tried out the embossing paste with my brass stencils, but you will have to wait to see those results till you all get a card in the mail. The results are nice, but it was a bit messy to do... kinda like glue, sticky, but with the consistency of creamy frosting. It gets spread over the stencil, the extra is squeegeed off, then the stencil is removed and the paste is left to dry on the paper... hard to describe, but kind of cool looking in reality.

Sunday was also wonderful... we got dressed up for a nice change, and enjoyed a leisurely brunch at Top of the Rock restaurant at the Buttes Resort in Tempe- the service there was top-notch, and the spread of food was amazing! Just to name a few of our favorite choices: smoked salmon with dill, capers, and red onion (one of my favorites!); Southwest potatoes O'Brien; a creamy artichoke and mushroom salad; lamb chops (Tom's hands-down favorite!); roasted carrots and asparagus (another must-have for me!); a carving station where you could get prime rib, ham, or custom-made omelets; a station where you could get fruit crepes or waffles made to order (Tom's favorite is crepes with bananas, strawberries, and caramel sauce); a fresh fruit tray; a dessert tray, with triple layer chocolate cake (!), cheesecake, and individual fruit tarts, each decorated with a raspberry, blueberry, kiwi slice, strawberry slice, and mandarin orange slice (they were so cute it was a shame to eat one, but it was delicious!)... there were lots more choices, but I can't possibly remember them all.

And, of course, it wouldn't be champagne brunch without champagne (or mimosas, which was my choice). The view from the restaurant is amazing; you can see downtown Phoenix, Chase Field (which used to be called Bank One Ballpark, aka BOB), and Sky Harbor airport. There was also live music- a singer/guitar player- for even more atmosphere. (We had our waiter take our picture for the scrapbook, too, but it's still in the camera.)

We've eaten the champagne brunch there twice now, and the service was superb both times- the wait staff is always there to take away your empty plates, give you more flatware, fill your glasses, and they even refold the napkin into the fancy fold every time you leave your table! I would love to eat dinner there some evening, to see the view of the city as the sun sets.

We finally headed back home to relax in our comfy clothes in front of the Daytona 500, although I must confess, we both napped through parts of it after that wonderful brunch... The race was also somewhat disappointing to me, with the aggressive driving incidents, and the green-white-checkered finish that ended under a caution. Didn't seem like a real "race" if you know what I mean.

Now for the reality part of it- Tom left for work on Monday thinking he would be leaving that afternoon for the Philadelphia suburbs. Luckily his departure was delayed till today, when he headed for Baltimore, MD. About a half hour before his flight, he found out he would have to be in Philadelphia tomorrow after all, so as I type this, he is driving from the Baltimore airport to a hotel in Media, PA (west of Philly) so he can be at the site tomorrow morning to work on an upgrade to an installation they just did. Then, he will have to head back to Baltimore, to start the job he's out there to do!

He's not sure how long he will be gone, since the Philadelphia detour will delay the start of the job in Baltimore for at least a day. But, thankfully, the weather forecast for the Northeast is clear, with not much chance of snow, so he won't be driving in any blizzards, at least.

So, Sedona, the cats, and I will hang out by ourselves for the rest of the week, maybe even the weekend, if Tom doesn't make it back. I still have my SB stuff all over the place, so I might work on finishing the pages I started at the crop, or even doing a couple more!

February 17, 2006

30 second update- It's Friday- Yay!!!

Here is a pic of the hummingbird sitting on her nest. She's pretty well camouflaged on top of the pine cone. If you didn't know she was there, a casual glance at the tree wouldn't notice a thing. Tom took this picture using a stepstool. The taller stepladder is in the storage closet; and I'm sort of tempted to get it, except it's probably buried under all sorts of junk. Hopefully we will be able to see the babies as they grow up and stretch the nest to its limits- I'm just crossing my fingers that they don't fall prey to one of the many stray cats we have around our apartment complex.

Tom is still home (yay! again), and probably will be till sometime next week- he went into the office today for the first time this week and found out that his immediate supervisor Mark, who was the experienced installer/project manager for the company, quit. So, starting next week, it's just Tom and Marcos (Marcos got hired about a week after Tom was). No more comp time for a while, probably... the director of operations is going to work out a game plan for keeping up on the work; it'll be an interesting few months for him!

Right now I should be packing, not blogging- tomorrow I am going to the Resort Suites of Scottsdale for a 9 am to 9 pm scrapbooking crop, and I don't have a thing packed or planned yet! It should be a fun day; I will get a 6 foot table to myself (for all the crap I'll need to take, due to my lack of plannint- LOL!), lunch and snacks are provided, make and take activities, goodies, etc. etc. I did get 100+ pictures developed after Christmas, and also have a couple other projects in mind, including my Easter cards (using embossing paste- spackle-like stuff that you use to fill in the brass stencil to make it dimensional- stay tuned for the results!)

Sedona is exhausted after playing "laser tag" for the last hour plus... she loves the laser pointer, and will fixate on it as it sits on the breakfast bar till we get it down and play with her. she likes to go in circles to chase it; her highest number of revolutions so far is 13 in a row... most of the time she either gets dizzy or whacks her head on the footstool before then! (yes, I feel bad for her, but she's the one who wants to do it!)

Sunday Tom and I are having a combination Valentine'sDay/Anniversary brunch here... http://www.wyndham.com/hotels/PHXBU/main.wnt We had their champagne brunch once before, and it was wonderful!!! We will miss the opening coverage of the Daytona 500, but will be spending the rest of the day in front of the TV.

It's been chilly and windy here the last couple days- today's high in the Valley was only 63 degrees, more than 5 degrees below normal! A far cry from the Thunder Snow storm Mom described in her latest e-mail, and the deep freeze across the eastern part of the country, I know- I hope you all are keeping warm, and have dug yourselves out!

February 15, 2006

Hummingbird Hijinks

(fyi, Tom is home for a few days, collecting some much needed comp-time... that's why he's here, in this story, instead of in some other city!)

To set the scene: Monday afternoon, I just got home from work, and we're relaxing on the patio in the afternoon sunshine. In late afternoon, the hummingbirds start feeding more aggresively, to store up for the evenings which still do get cool (in the 40s-low 50s). The patio faces west, so Tom had his chair near the patio wall, facing in towards the apartment; this meant he was pretty much underneath the hummingbird feeder. They don't mind us, so they were still zipping back and forth, even with us out there. I was under the shade, so I was facing him, reading the remnants of the Sunday paper. He had just lit his cigar and leaned back in his chair when a female hummingbird zoomed in towards the feeder.

Tom says, "Hello there, little hummingbird- you're not going to poop on me, are you?" (hummingbird poop is a discussion we've had in the past- what does it look like, and how much of it is there? after all, they're pretty small birds!) Just as he completed his sentence, it did poop on him!!! She let loose, and the poop landed right on his cheek- I watched it happen! He sat there, stunned, while I burst out laughing... It was just so perfectly timed! The perfect angle, wind conditions, everything! I couldn't stop laughing, but I did manage to get him a soapy washcloth and a towel... he didn't know what to say, except "what are the odds of that happening?" Maybe we should have bought a lottery ticket after that.

We did, however, find out that hummingbird poop is a clear liquid with a pretty watery consistency... :-)

Today, Tom had another (better) hummingbird experience- he was outside the front door, shaking dog hair out of the rug, and noticed a female hummingbird hovering around, eyeing him carefully. He stopped shaking the rug, so she calmed down, and flew to a nearby pine tree, where she landed on her nest!!! He showed it to me when I got home from work- it's amazing! It's light grayish green, and is built on one of the lowest branches, nestled between a pine cone and the tree branch (kind of a precarious perch, in my opinion- I hope the pine cone doesn't fall anytime soon!). It was pretty windy today, but she was settled in for the ride. Hopefully we'll be able to get at least a couple pictures of it that will look like more than a greenish blob- if so, I will definitely post them!

February 09, 2006

yay no dog poopies to clean up!

Today when I got home from work, Sedona's crate was poop-free!! I'm not holding my breath, but I think her digestive system might be getting back to normal. I did do a lot of reading last evening about diarrhea and possible causes, and stress is probably it. (I highly doubt she picked up any of the strange parasites or other weird things that could cause diarrhea...) She's pretty high-strung most of the time, and I would venture to say she also suffers from a bit of separation anxiety, possibly due to the breed of dog she is- like the breeder told us, Shelties always want to be where "their people" are. Sedona follows that pattern- she's underfoot or right next to us most of the time. (Not that there's a lot of other places to be in our apartment- lol!) She also gets really frantic and overexcited when we come home from being away... we have to keep it really low-key, or she'll piddle all over without knowing it. I'm going to feed her a "bland diet" dinner of cooked hamburger and rice tonight, just to help things along, and hopefully the "poop-free crate" trend will continue! This pic is just a nice pose from a few weeks ago- her coat has really filled out, although since she's female I don't think she'll ever get the really full, shaggy coat that is typical of the male dogs. (it does blow in the breeze really nice when she runs, though- and her tail is like a flag waving when she's really paying attention to something- it reminds me of a whitetail deer!)

Another thing I did a little more reading about was crate training- since she's now in her crate all day long, a couple sites suggested all day and at night is sometimes too much for a dog to handle. Last night, to help alleviate this, I let her stay with me on the bed- she was pretty settled, for the most part (this is probably because we played ball and tag for over an hour!)... she slept next to me till about 1 am, when she started getting restless- I took her outside to pee, then put her in the crate for the rest of the night. We probably won't let her sleep with us all the time, and it's not like I got the best sleep in the world, but once in a while is okay with me.

Thanks, Jackie, for the comment about Doggie Day Care- we do want to find something like this for her, although we'll probably only be able to take her there occasionally for a "play date" instead of every day.

I got my first paycheck from Kelly Services today! They spelled my last name wrong, though- hopefully the bank will still let me cash (oops- I meant deposit! LOL!) it!!

February 08, 2006

long time, no blog!

also known as: life as usual- never enough time...

So, today marks the midpoint of my second week back in the working world. It's been okay so far, except for a couple things...

I do not like getting up at 4:45 am!!! I was very used to waking up at 8:30 am, when it's already light outside! But, starting work at 6:30 am does have it's advantages- by the time my lunch break is over (noon), the workday is already more than half done! And, leaving work at 3:00 means I avoid the worst of rush hour, and am home by 3:30 pm.

The other negative to working is worse, in my opinion- Sedona has been having some digestive issues (stress, or something else, I don't know what yet), and today is the second day in a row that I have come home to a mess in her crate because she had an accident... I know she can't help it, but it's still gross! Yesterday, she had every stuffed toy in her crate, and they all had to be washed. She also got into it, so she had to be washed too- Today, she managed to keep a couple of toys clean, and herself too, thank goodness, but I still had to wash the towel and a couple toys again. I just wish I knew why it was happening! She seemed okay last week when I started working, but since the weekend, her bowels just haven't been working correctly (I don't want to give you too much information, but lets just say it's really runny, and leave it at that!). Maybe it is stress- after all, since we've had her, one or both of us has been home with her, so she's never been left all day, every day, till last week. Hopefully it will clear itself up soon!!!

The job itself is okay- it involves testing the accuracy of an instrument (called a compounder) that hospital pharmacies use to dispense and mix solutions. My testing involves measuring and weighing out 50 bottles of sterile water (by hand) to a certain weight, setting up the instrument with solutions of Potassium Chloride (KCl), running the compounder to dispense KCl into the bottles, then measuring the amount of KCl in each bottle. Then, the results are typed into a spreadsheet that calculates the amount of KCl dispensed into each bottle. This determines if the machine is dispensing the proper amount, within a prescribed tolerance. It's not hard, but it is very time consuming to get all the materials set up. (Completing testing on two machines a day is the norm.) And then, of course, there's the paperwork! The place is small, and a bit crowded, but seeing what goes into actually repairing and maintaining the IV pumps and compounders is kind of interesting (not that I know what the techs are doing- electrical stuff was the part of physics class that I absolutely hated).

Tom is in San Francisco this week; (fyi, last week he was in Philadelphia, but it was a very busy trip). Earlier today he called me while he was taking a late lunch; he was describing to me the scene at the Golden Gate Bridge... he said it was beautiful, but he wished it was about 30 degrees warmer (it was probably in the mid 60s... LOL!) And, he forgot his camera at their job site! Fortunately, his partner had a camera, so he will have some pictures to remember it by. They thought it would be a pretty easy installation, but unfortunately the electrical contractors hadn't completed all the work they needed, so they'll be delayed a little- he may not get back till Saturday.

Our TV went to the Great TV Repair Place in the Sky... (well, Walt's TV Repair, anyway- LOL!) And, it's not coming back- they can't get the part they need to fix it, because rear-projection TVs of that type are being phased out of production. Luckily, Best Buy honored the extended warranty, and we got full purchase price credit towards a new TV, which Tom picked up Monday (he had a comp day from work). I had no idea about the comp day, or about the TV decision being finalized- when I got home from work, there was a huge box in the living room, and Tom was putting all the video components onto the new TV stand. It's new technology (Liquid Crystal on Silicon ? I think), that combines LCD display with something called DRP (? I think), which involves a chip with thousands of tiny mirrors that makes the picture... it all has to do with how good the picture looks, and boy, it looks really good! Supposedly the technology of the TV is better than the current technology for filming movies or TV shows, so it's ahead of it's time. (This hopefully means it won't be obsolete in 2 or 3 years like the old one! We got the extended warranty on this TV, too, just in case!) It's also bigger than the old one (it's a 60 inch diagonal), so in our tiny living room, it's like sitting down front at the movies. When we get a house, hopefully we will have a bigger family room, and it will fit in just fine.

I'm headed for an all-day scrapbooking crop on Saturday, Feb 18th that will be held at a resort in Scottsdale- 9 am to 9 pm, including my own 6 foot table to work on, lunch, snacks, projects, prizes, etc. etc. Now, I just have to get some pages planned out, so I don't have to take all my supplies with me! (but, like Jude said when I told her about it, yes, I probably will take it all with me... just in case!)

well, now I'm off to surf the net for info on dogs and stress and diarrhea... lucky me!