Category Archives: Cats, dogs, chickens, and other critters

How was your day, dear?

Well, I gotta tell ya…

Good. And bad. And good. And seemingly neverending.

The pool is lovely, bright, and deep.

After a very restless night and very little sleep, I bagged it, got up, and did some work to clear a few things off my list. All the while, I seriously contemplated the distinct possibility that I might wind up puking before going off to get a cashier’s check for closing.

But I didn’t puke, I did get the check, and did head off to sign my life away.

Naturally, in the midst of signing all the papers, one of the servers went down and would not come back. A bit of misinterpretation by one of the guys equaled an issue that lasted quite a bit longer than it should have. I wound up blasting out to the NOC, at the beginning of rush hour, to run some commands on the server. While working on that one, another page from the monitor: another server has bitten the dust. Fortunately, I was already there, as that server, after a reboot, needed a disk check as well. With that running, but before the final reboot to bring that one back online, yet another page: another person has crashed their server (but this one does this on a fairly regular basis). That one, of course, came right back after a power cycle, as it was the one I was least concerned about. With all the disk checks done, everything back online, and the monitor all clear with all services green, I could finally enjoy the moment.

Just the tiniest taste for me, since alcohol and my tongue are still not yet approaching being even the most distant of friends.

Back on the road for more work, then back on the road to return to the HQ. Ding! Yet another server issue, and it’s the same one that went off earlier today as I was working on server number one. Criminy. Manage to get to a safe spot, get logged on to the reboot port via my phone. Ding! Recovery notices. In the five minutes or so it took me to do that, the user has rebooted the server (although, I believe that if you can get into the server, 99% of the time it isn’t necessary). Back on the road, finally to the HQ, settle back in to work.

Only to consider that perhaps our habit of answering tickets almost instantly is something we should rethink, as a user is demanding to know why someone hasn’t answered a ticket in 30 minutes – a ticket related to that very server, in fact. That could be because my vehicle, sad to say, does not travel at the speed of light, it’s impossible for me to answer tickets on my phone, and I’m the one covering tonight. Ergo, no response to that ticket or any other in the preceding 30 minutes.

Take care of that, whip through the other few tickets that have arrived, and then receive a real winner: someone complaining about a charge for domain registration, telling us they have no account with us and to remove it. Well, genius, it would help if you could give us some kind of hint as to who you are, when the charge was processed, what the domain name was on the invoice, what the invoice number was, or perhaps what the last four of the credit card were. You know – any sort of information whatsoever that would let us know which of the numerous charges we process on any given day would be The One.

Oh, and this is what greeted me when I got back to the old house.

What used to be a pillow was now a collection of small fluffy islands in the foyer, living room, and office. And no, Newton was not the culprit. But he did pose nicely.

Mickey had wisely decided to take his ass outside after laying down on the floor at my feet, knowing that he’d been bad. Damn dogs. Good thing they’re so cute.

The first couple of loads of stuff is at the new place. Tomorrow will bring more work and more back and forth between the old and new houses. It will be a rather exhausting weekend, I can see this already.

You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie

Yesterday, we had the distinct pleasure of taking my aunt and uncle out to the house to let them get a view of it before it’s finished.

I also took a photo of the master bedroom ceiling for Anna (hi, Anna!) – there certainly must be some architectural word for this type.

We found a pool guy slaving away in the back, putting in the line to the pump.

A late afternoon nap is just the thing everyone needs sometimes. And if you can have three out of the four furry critters with you, so much the better.

When we went back to the house today to plan out the walking paths and seating areas in the front, we found that the pool guy had almost finished the entire run, except for the termination area at the pump itself. Things are moving right along.

Mid-winter reruns

Since some people were out of town last week for my aunt’s birthday party, we had to have an encore of food. Ribs, to be specific about it all. The changes I’ve made to the brining time and the rub are working out quite well.

If my sister were eating meat again, this would have been her gnawing away on some ribs. As it is, she was tempted by the sweet smell of pork, but refrained from eating any.

The rest of us, though, under no such constraints, dove in to this.

And some zucchini gratin, made with a combination of jarlsberg, pecorino romano, and manchego.

With beans and a salad, it was a full meal. We sent some of the ribs home with a couple of lucky diners, and the rest are being eaten here and there by us. They’re not going to last long at this rate.

With dinner out of the way, it was time for conversation and playtime. Newton finally scored the hamburger squeaky toy (which, alas, no longer squeaks, since Mickey has chewed it so much).

Tim, the ex-wrestler, took on Mickey. The poor pup was so tired by the time it was all over and everyone left that he could barely keep his eyes open.

Another successful dinner with good company. Now if only the house stalking…I mean, house hunting was as fun and satisfying as this.

Wednesday is doughnut experiment day around here. I had a request from someone who shall remain unnamed for doughnuts, like Krispy Kreme makes: yeasty, glazed, warm circles of carby goodness. We’ll see how that turns out, since I’ve never made a doughnut in my life. And I suppose we’ll have to have dinner as well – I considered pasta, but then thought that might be a little too much carb-loading for one night. Only one more day to figure it out…

Defenders of the home front

Sometimes, you just can’t help yourself. You might start off small, never intending for things to escalate. and then, before you know it, you have a full-on episode.

Take the humble strawberry. Or, rather, take a humble strawberry. Like this one.

Simple enough. A test of chocolate dipping in a semisweet ganache. Nothing more. But then, quite suddenly, there are more.

And even more, lined up like soldiers.

The supporting troops arrive shortly thereafter.

It’s all fun and games until the chocolate takes over the world, isn’t it?

Super Sunday

Superbowl Sunday is a bona fide holiday around here: the championship game (which we always hope will be good and not a blowout) and also the true end of the football season (a sad thing indeed).

The broccoli gratin, having been eaten to the point of people scraping the last traces of cheese from the dish, had to be recreated for Sunday. Even with a smaller group, it didn’t last. Neither did the guacamole I’d made.

I also ordered some dashi and it arrived in time for Sunday’s bash.

This made a world of difference in the tempura dipping sauce, which was spot on. I made a lot of tempura, and by the end of the night, only a lonely green bean remained, having hidden itself under a tray.

A few hours before the game, I had gone to the store to pick up a few things, and decided that there was time for some braised short ribs. Got them browned, then sauteed some onions and garlic in the same pan, added some red wine, beef broth, spices, and a couple teaspoons of tomato paste, threw the ribs back in, and about two and a half hours later, had this.

Boy, were those good. I’ve been eating the couple that were left over for the past two days, with sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, and onions. It’s just as good now as it was Sunday, but I’m down to the last of it. Might be time to make more.

Football haze

There is no better way – in my humble opinion – to start off the year than to have an entire day full of football bowl games, even if you are like me and have no particular favorite college team. Work is fairly slow (unless a server’s hard drive is in imminent danger of death, as one is today), and it’s usually a good day to do a little of this or that. For me, between working and moving accounts around, that means baking some bread for the carb fiends around this place. It also means making another batch of the maple-cornmeal biscuits to go with the traditional southern new year’s meal of black-eyed peas this evening.

My sister, lucky girl that she is, had the opportunity to go to the Gator Bowl in person, sit in one of the terrace suites, and be waited on while watching what turned out to be an exciting game. The rest of us had to be content with watching on television, which worked out well: we all got a lot of work done, watched a bunch of different football games, played with the dogs, packed some more holiday stuff to be stowed away until later this year, and in general had a day that wasn’t particularly frenetic but wasn’t so slow as to put you in a coma. And my mom made small meatloaves.

My mom loves hamburger: extra-lean, lean, chuck, round, whatever. If it’s from a cow and can be formed into a patty, fried, perhaps with some sauteed mushrooms and onions on the side, and maybe a pan gravy by yours truly, she’s happy as – well, happy as a pig in poop, I suppose, or as happy as one of those cows in the California cheese ads.

She has a recipe she sort of follows to make meatloaf these days, that is more meat than loaf, if you get what I mean. Make a few extra, toss them in the freezer, and it’s an instant fix for the beef-addicted.

We had meatloaf tonight, along with rice (with shallots and parm), black-eyed peas, maple-cornbread biscuits, and corn on the cob.

And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee for me today. Mom also fed the dogs Cheetos, because she’s a sucker for a cute face.

Right now, the cinnamon-raisin loaves have just gone into the oven. I’m not pleased with the feel the dough had as I rolled it, and I would not be at all surprised if there were gaps in the bread, because for some reason the dough just felt extra sticky and wet. Wet = steam = bad oven spring = gaps. Still, it will taste fine, and the fam will down it even if it isn’t perfect, but this tells me I need to work on this recipe a bit. I’m also going to try my hand at this no-knead bread that apparently everyone in the world knew about but me until today. Instead of kneading the bread, the gluten develops through an extra long rising period of about 18 hours. It would be rather handy to toss everything together and forget about it, instead of fussing with dough every couple hours – although that is part of the fun. Some days are meant for a hands-off approach.


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.