So, we survived the penultimate holiday without too much trouble. Although I always responded “Nothing.” to the questions my family posed to me about what I wanted for the holiday, they ignored me and gave me some gifts that are not-so-subtle reminders to get myself back in the kitchen and get cooking. As the lack of pictures show very well, I have not been cooking much of late, and the people around me are complaining that they’re getting fat because of that, since takeout is usually the order of the day. Yet another failure to mark on my board, alas.

Both of my sisters, when they were younger, went through a vegetarian phase. They both broke out of it eventually – not that I have anything against vegetarians, mind you – and returned to their meat-eating ways. One sister, however, has decided to revert to being a quasi-vegetarian, and has been eating seafood but not meat. Last night, she also decided to forego eating seafood, which made the fish I cooked last night offlimits for her, something I did not know when I picked up the filets at the store, buying them because I knew – or thought I knew – that she would eat fish. That’ll teach me.

The fish was unremarkable, and simply prepared, with a bit of butter, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and dill. I also put on some brown rice, the remainder of which will be turned into arancini as a weird experiment, and made some maple-cornmeal biscuits (the drop kind, not the cut kind). The biscuits were quite good, I must say, especially if you like cornbread.

What else is going on?

The tomatoes, which had sprouted nicely, are going nowhere. I think I need a better heating situation for them, ditto for the zucchini, and I’ll be restarting both. The carrots, lettuce, and herbs are doing very well, and the broccoli, collards, and peas are going nuts – we have some pods appearing on the pea vines, and a couple of heads of broccoli forming in addition to all the leaves of the collards. I’m trying to get back into the mood for cooking, but since very little tastes as it should for some reason, eating and cooking are difficult. That’s even more complicated by the fact that everyone around here has varying schedules, particular food tastes, all want to lose weight, and one is a vegetarian. If I could convince them to let me take measurements, weights, and pictures of them, then devise menus and exercise routines, that would probably be a good project to occupy my time (and turn into a book!), but I doubt that will be happening. And I’ll finally be getting the tube removed in late January or early February, as well as probably continuing with PET scans every three months since the activity around the tumor site just will not go away.


It’s the annual mega hunting and gathering fest otherwise known as Christmas. I’m not really feeling the mood. Still, there are things that need to be done for the holiday, and my aunt has requested that I make some of my cranberry-apple compote for the dinner she’s having Monday (noon, for those interested in joining in). Off we went to Costco to find a huge bag of cranberries. We didn’t find any. Instead, we found something else, which we brought home and steamed to warm.

King crab, at ten bucks a pound, is a great deal if you can find it. Some of the legs were almost as long as my arm. I still wonder just who had the bright idea that these ugly creatures (and lobsters) were suitable for noshing. I’m glad they did, though I couldn’t really taste the crab at all. That’s a bummer, because I always did love it. Everyone else enjoyed it, and there were leftovers that will be turned into something – salad, fritters, cakes, something.

Newton says hello.

Water, please!

My protectors.

Mickey better hope Newton doesn’t let one loose. These dogs and their gas can bring a tear to your eye.

It’s a blast

Anyone who has to travel through Jacksonville at some point can tell you about the bridges. Usually, those tales are peppered throughout with a great deal of cursing, as getting from point A to point B in this town can sometimes be a mammoth undertaking.

Over the years, though, bridge work has been done, to expand capacity and to do away with drawbridges that interrupt the flow of humanity hither and yon. One of the main bridges, which carries traffic on I-95 over the St. John’s River, was rebuilt at a higher level and with more lanes, parallel to the original bridge. The question then became: what do we do with the old Fuller Warren bridge? Some people wanted to leave the bridge up as a fishing pier, with the drawbridge permanently raised. Some people wanted it destroyed, and quickly.

Since the new bridge has been in place, the old bridge has been undergoing disassembly. This week, after some lengthy discussions about the cleanup of debris, a section of pilings was blown. We took ourselves down to the river, cameras in hand, to watch.




We also captured some video of the process. The raw, unedited, 50 meg file is here. If you go frame by frame in the video, you can see the flashes of the blasting caps on each set of pilings.

Over the next several months, there are supposed to be more dates for blasting the remaining groups of pilings. We’re hoping to be there for at least some of them.

O sleep, O gentle sleep

My last “day” has been one of Those Days.

All was right with the world when it started, though. It was a beautiful day Sunday, clear blue skies, nice fall-like temperatures, and not a ton of support requests. This not only allowed me to get some maintenance-type things done within the network and on some servers, but let me go out with the fam to get a tree. Mom and The Boy put it up. Crooked, I said. Nah, they said, you’re just looking at it from an angle. Pictures don’t lie, though.

They straightened it and we left it naked for the day, as we had to haul out the lights, ornaments, and other assorted knickknacks that make up the season. Mickey went with us to pick out a tree and for a stop at Publix for some steaks. After we returned, we ran him around the yard a bit, then came back in to get the steaks in a marinade. This dog can be really flat when he has a mind to be.

Gandalf is still working on showing everyone just who is boss around here (me, but she has rule of the animals). She is still not very happy, but she has already shown Mickey just who ranks higher on the food chain.

Very late Sunday evening, one of the oldest servers in the network decided that it had had about enough and gave in the start of death throes for the primary drive. After sending out a round of emergency notices about moves from this server to another, I began the quest to get everyone moved and keep the server running. Anyone who has worked in tech knows how difficult a prospect this can be, and the bulk of my time – except for a too-short nap – has been spent moving people and trying to keep the server up so we can move people. An unfortunate fact of life in this world of ours, and I wound up in rush hour traffic headed to the datacenter to get the damn thing back on the air this afternoon. This was done via a Frankenstein-like setup that I hope will last until the last of the accounts are moved off, and for the moment it seems to be working well.

On a brighter note, we went back for the other new member of the family. When we stopped into the pet supply store next to the adoption center, we ran into one of the volunteers from the center, who told us the poor guy whined much of Sunday, even though we’d told him we were coming back for him on Monday. He is a Lhaso Apso (or mix, with the Lhaso predominant), and is currently shaved because they picked him up as a stray and he was matted. This evening he had a bath and will be going in for more grooming as he still has a few knots here and there. The center estimates he’s about five, maybe five and a half years old. Mom and I had been calling him Goofy, because he is, but my sister has decided to name him Newton.

Wet dog!

He’ll be handsome when his hair grows back.

So far, things are going pretty well between the two dogs, and the little cat has gone nose to nose with Newton and sniffed Mickey. We’ll all be one big happy family before too long, I think.

I should also mention that Mickey tried to kill me tonight. I had gone to pick up The Boy from a catering gig, and Mickey went along for the ride. As we came back in the front door, Mickey, being a border collie, tried to herd me. To avoid stepping on him, I allowed it, and he managed to herd me into a stack of boxes containing decorations. This would not have been so bad had Mickey not suddenly changed course, going under my feet again, which resulted in me taking one of those exaggerated steps people take when they’re trying to avoid stepping on a child or small animal. Even this would not have been so bad had Mickey not pushed into my other leg at the same time. All of these together, though, caused me to fall, hard, flat in the foyer. As I was assessing the damage – both knees hit, and both will have spectacular bruising, my right elbow banged into one of the boxes before hitting the floor, my left shoulder jammed as there’s not enough strength on that side to catch my bodyweight, and my right shoulder took a hit as the weight rolled to that side – Mickey was very contrite and came over to lie down next to me and rest his head on my shin. What a smart dog. Except for the part where he then tried to lay over both of my legs, just below my knees. And the part where he peed on the carpet after we’d stayed out front for a few minutes after the car ride home in case he had to go.

Dog days

The “dog days of summer” phrase, for those of us linguistically inclined, is said to have originated because of the rise pattern of Sirius (the dog star) before the sun during the hot, heavy days of summer arrive.

Our dog days, though, have come right now.

My mother, who has said for quite some time now that there will be no more animals in the house, had a change of heart after watching the news and seeing a dog named Paddington (as in Paddington Bear) on the news as one of the featured dogs picked up by City Rescue and available for adoption. During the public service tidbit, the web site was flashed, so of course she had to visit. Where, of course, she found all sorts of cute dogs, including one named Hana, a Lhaso Apso mix. Despite her best intentions, she decided we should go visit Hana and see what she was like. I knew that if she were available, we’d be bringing her home.

When we walked in the door of the adoption center, though, we found that someone else had already begun the paperwork to adopt her. Luckily for us, another Lhaso mix, a five year old male, was also available. We decided to bring him home – except that the center had neglected to implant his microchip and give him the required rabies shot. So, on Monday we’ll head back to pick him up.

I’d told my sister that when we moved to our farm, we should get a border collie, especially if we wound up having livestock of any sort. Wouldn’t you know it, while at the center, we spotted a lab/border collie mix. We visited with him as we had with the Lhaso, and decided against taking him home – at four months old, and with the energy of a puppy, we thought he might be too excitable.

As we drove away, though, we decided that he would be young enough to train properly – this household is not quite the same as some households who get dogs and then don’t really do much with them beyond feed and water them. So we turned around and went back for him.

The training has already started. He’s quite a smart dog, and except for a couple of accidents – hey, he’s a puppy – the training is going well indeed. The cats are not happy with the sudden invasion, but they are cats and hence the rulers of the world, so they’ll claim their rightful place in the hierarchy and everyone will be just fine.

This means that we’ll be a two dog household come early next week. Better find that dream property and get ourselves moved…

Let them eat…bread

Sometimes, you just have to do a little baking. The freaks in the house like raisins in their bread, and since I’m not eating all that much bread myself, the baking would have to be for them, so raisins it is.

Out of the oven, brushed with butter.

Is there anything like freshly cut homemade bread, the scent of which lingers for hours?

Answer? No. There is nothing quite like it.