Weekend Recap, With Food

Friday night Ron went with me to the Windycon kickoff meeting (mostly to keep me company, but he’s also A/V second). We threw money to Robin for dinner, and had Kao Soy at Baisi Thai, which is at Oakbrook Center. We were concerned we were never going to find the right part of that stupid labyrinth mall, but we did in the end.  The meeting finished by 9:00 (7:30 start), which was a pleasant surprise.

Saturday morning I took a quick look at “One Pot of the Day” and decided what recipes we would be doing. Quiche Lorraine for Saturday night. I defaulted to my usual recipe, no clue how the one in “One Pot of the Day” is.  I got “gypsy bacon” from the Eurofresh deli, which has more flavor than mass-market bacon. I messed with the dairy part of the recipe, using a pint of heavy cream and a can of coconut milk for two quiches. I didn’t notice anything odd about the flavor.

Some of the recipes we’ve been doing have been a bit shy on the vegemals, and there is a “One Salad of the Day” book, so we talked about getting that, and adding salad to the menu some days.

We did a PeaPod order for the rest of the week after Saturday’s trip to Eurofresh, and on reflection on produce, decided to go back to Eurofresh for salad ingredients and napa cabbage for stir-fry this week.

When Robin was a baby we had a little 2-3 cup mini Cuisinart food processor, that we used to make baby food when he seemed to have an issue with carrots (because finding baby food without carrots was challenging, and because baby food meat is disgusting – both Robin and the ferrets turned up their noses at it, which I understood upon tasting. Robin ate it once we added pepper. Throwing some of our dinner into the mini food processor was also cheaper than baby food). It eventually wore out, after many years of service.

Several of the recipes lately have called for finely chopping one or a few shallots or other things – enough to be tedious with a knife, but not enough to warrant breaking out the big Cuisinart, and I started missing the mini one. Turns out a new one was only $35-ish from Crate and Barrel, so we made a trip there Saturday midday.

Saturday afternoon Ron had to go into work, as something on his laptop and/or their system was borked, and he couldn’t log in from home. He ended up spending almost a whole work-day there, boo hiss.  While he was gone I worked on the MuseCon grid handout, to be ready for Capricon, and a few other publication-type things.

My hands were getting cold while working at the computer, so I dug out a pair of fingerless mittens (as opposed to fingerless gloves, which have truncated fingers, these have a truncated mitten hand) I’d gotten from a friend. They helped, but it drove me to want to make a pair that would make me happier – up the fingers more, a thumb gusset, and a bigger thumb bit. So last night I rooted through the stash for some yarn and needles.

I seem to missing one of my set of short steel size zero needles. But I found some bamboo ones, and some Brown Sheep Co. Wildfoote in burgundy with a ply of black. I think I’ll make fingerless mittens. I have a pair of fingerless gloves at work that I made several years ago, and the fingers (which I did in 1/1 rib) are almost too thick).

I also found some sock yarn that’s calling to me, but I told it that it has to wait until I finish my fingerless mittens. I also have a pair of kilt hose going for Ron, and some other UFOs.

Sunday was more poking at the grid, messing about taking pictures of pouches, and finally in the evening we made the trip to Eurofresh for produce. None of the recipes for this week were calling to me, so Ron suggested finding something fairly quick and easy (but real food) to make. That turned out to be dinner salads, which hit the spot.

When we went out to go to Eurofresh yesterday the freezing rain was doing its thing. I did not fall and hurt myself.

This morning, I did not either. We did, however, have a series of issues that kept Robin running in and out.

Ron left the house, then I heard the door, and Robin complaining about cold cold feet. I recinded calling him a doofus for going out in bare feet when I found out that he’d gone out to help Ron, who’d slipped on ice at the bottom of the front-porch steps and fallen.

Ron came back in, very sore and wet, to change clothes. He slid far enough out into the yard that he didn’t crack his skull or his back on the concrete steps, which overall is a good thing.

Shortly after Robin came back in from salting the patch of ice Ron slipped on he went back outside to find Ron’s glasses. Undamaged. Yay.

Then I realized the top had blown off the top-bar hive. I’m afraid it was open most of the night, and the bees are wet, cold, and deceased. But we sent Robin out to put the top back on in case. One set of the hooks that are supposed to hold the top on are all bent up, and I couldn’t find the cam-buckle cargo straps that are somewhere in the house, but  the lightweight ratchet straps are in from the trailer for re-building, and I sent Robin back out with one to strap down that end of the hive top.

What fun. Not.

Weekend Report, Part Umpty-Whatever

Thursday afternoon my boss called and asked if I could make a meeting downtown on Friday, which I could. Ron took Friday off to take Robin to get his drivers’ license, and the last train I could catch and be on time for the meeting left Palatine at 8:30, so we had an un-hurried family breakfast at the Great American Bagel shop.

The meeting started at 10:00 and dragged on until 1:00. After the meeting my boss and I and people from FEMA and the State Water Survey went to lunch at a rather slow TGI Friday’s.  By the time I got back to Palatine my options were to head to the office, then turn around and come back home, or just go home. I think you can guess which I chose.

Ron and I went to Cabela’s and bought a cot we’d seen in a sale flyer (Outfitter XL cot). It should hopefully last better than air mattresses have a habit of doing with us. It’s a fairly wide cot, about the size of a single air mattress. Bigger than an air mattress, but not too bulky. It should be more comfortable than the futon couch, the matteress of which is getting kinda lumpy. And the cot can be set up in the spare bedroom, which provides more privacy than the living room, which also features umpty-zillion blinky lights on various electronics. Comfort of the cot could also be increased by adding to it one of the thermarest pads we have (we looked at the cot mattress Cabela’s has for the cot, but it’s big and pricey, I thought).

Robin failed his driving test on Friday, he hit a curb (not just a slight scuff, in which case he might have passed).  Ron took him to the Sec. State office in Elgin Saturday morning for another attempt, and he passed. Um, yay?  My enthusiasm is muted in part because that means about $220/month more going to Allstate. Ouch.

Saturday morning while they were out I considered cleaning my side of the bedroom, but realized that to do so with any hope of success would mean completely unloading the two sets of shelves that hold our clothes, sheets, etc., sorting, and re-loading. I was not enthused. At all.

So I considered starting ginger-pumpkin birthday cheesecakes, but the kitchen was a disaster and I had to go to the grocery store for ingredients.

Vented via text at Ron, who said he’d help with the bedroom.  I decided that starting the bedroom by folding laundry was the least unattractive option.

After Ron and Robin got home Ron and I went to the grocery store, while Robin put away clean dishes and some other odds and ends. Between that and the load of dishes I washed when I got home the kitchen wasn’t quite so dreadful, and we made cheesecake.  The recipe called for a graham-cracker crust, but we decided to substitute gingersnaps. Unfortunately, the gingersnap crumbs, brown sugar, and butter seem to have made themselves into a yummy caramelized toffee which doesn’t want to let go of  the parchment I lined the pan with. But the cheesecake itself is yummy too, so we’re not complaining.

In the afternoon Ron and I attacked the first set of shelves in our bedroom. Ron got smart, and had Robin fetch the package of dust masks, so he could actually breathe! We got rid of quite a bit of stuff in the process – a bunch of bags for charity, and several of garbage. Then Robin decided to go through all his clothes, which enlarged both piles, even after shifting several pairs of jeans from the charity pile to Robin.

Saturday night we went to dinner at the local tiny hole-in-the-wall, Sushi Asahi. We started out with vegetable tempura and gyoza. Ron and Robin had combination plates, I had two servings of ebi (cold cooked shrimp, on top of rice), and a beef teri-maki roll (california roll topped with lightly seared mostly-raw beef. Yes, I am a carnivore), and pan-fried veggies. It was all very good.

After dinner we went to Games Plus, where Robin got one of the Palladium RPG expansions (Yin-Sloth Jungles), and I got a miniature – a geisha assassin. Without watermelon-chest!

Sunday morning we attacked the second set of shelves in our bedroom, which went fairly quickly. More bags of donations and garbage. After that Ron cleaned up the spare bedroom, one of the tasks being clearing out the corner where the air conditioners spend the winter.  Oh joy and happiness, a bird had built a nest on the windowsill under ours. I got to deal with it, as I couldn’t find the box of XL gloves.

Robin then cleaned his room, as he’d made a mess clearing a path to get his AC unit out.  So all the bedrooms are at least somewhat clean. Still need to lug Kirby up and vacuum, as the accumulation on the floors made the little non-powered carpet sweeper lay down and cry. Note to self: use sweeper more often.

In 20-20 hindsight this morning, I think a slight rearrangement of what is on which sets of shelves is in order, based on frequency of wearing/use and ease of access. But that’s minor compared to the overall project, and should be fairly simple.

After lunch (which I went to the grocery store to procure – it was a busy morning!) Ron went to a CapriCon meeting.  Robin and I idled around until the beehives were in the sun, then went out and took the supers off. I was afraid the girls would be crabby, but there was only a little honey in the super we took off the east hive, and almost none in the super on the north hive, so they weren’t feeling too protective. And apparently haven’t been being pestered by skunks too much this fall – last summer they were being pestered by a skunk, and were very cranky as a result.

By the time we finished, I was tired and didn’t try to work on leather. I looked for old leatherworking books on ABE, but didn’t buy anything. I did order a copy of a book that I think is about making saddles. But I’m not sure, as its Swedish.  Here’s the relevant bits of the description that I can get post-order (the title below is truncated, and also had words that I guess-construed as relating to “saddle”, “adult”, and something like “hand-worker”, based on not knowing any Swedish but a little German):

Title: Intet är som Läder: En bok för alla vänner av ett
Description: Rikt illustrerad, några sidor i färg. Originalhalvklotband, fläckade pärmar. 30 x 22 cm. delvis i färg. 80 sidor. 4:o. Förlagets illustrerade pappband. Published by the Swedish Saddlery Palmgrens. All text in swedish but lots of illustrations, partly in colour 8.5 x 11.5″.

The seller is in New Mexico (Outside of a Dog, Books…), and I should have it in 5-14 business days. I resisted paying for speedier shipping, but I may regret that. Curiosity killed the cat, and all.

I meant to go to bed early, but I got distracted by listening to the first available episode of the “Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap” podcast, by artist/author/cool person Ursula Vernon and her partner Kevin Sonney. They’re up to episode 95, I think I’m just going to go through them all. The current episode is: Episode 95 – The Narwhal Episode  No, we did not actually eat anything Narwhal in this episode, but they are discussed. Other things discussed include a new load of compost, why Ursula is so drunk this time, and the merits of Hot Pockets as ‘not food.’  In between all that we eat more things from our friends in Chicago, try a new cider, and review more Hamburger Helper. All this and more, when We Eat It, So You Don’t Have To!”

Meatballs and Honey

Have I ever mentioned that Tre Amici Pizza has the best meatballs? No? Consider it mentioned. Yummy yummy meatballs. I had leftover mostaccioli and two meatballs for lunch today.

Tre Amici also has good pizza, calzones, fetuccini alfredo, ribs (naked), ravioli, meatball sandwiches, and beef and sausage sandwiches. Their salads are forgettable, though. Not bad, just not as good as the salads at Lou Malnatis.

No affiliation yadda yadda.

Yesterday we drained the honey from the cappings tank, after I bottled off another gallon.  Then Ron processed the wax – melting them in water then straining to get rid of things like dirt, bits of bee bodies, and whatnot. Cappings are really bulky (“fluffy” sounds like a strange adjective, but isn’t far wrong), and hold a lot of honey. Even after draining a week Ron’s guesstimate is  that there was a good 4 cups of honey in the cappings. In terms of amount of wax, I’d say it was about an inch thick in a 4″ x 9″ loaf pan.

And the house smelled like honey, oh yes it did.

Long Weekend, with Bees

Ron had Friday off, but I didn’t, pout. Ron and Robin pulled the supers off the hives for extraction later in the weekend.

Saturday morning we dropped Robin off at karate, then I realized he didn’t actually have class, so we went shopping instead. We picked up the stupidly large bag of steel-cut oats we’d ordered at GFS, and picked up some other food, including a really big slab of pork ribs. After that we went to Cabela’s for jeans for Robin and shoes for Ron. IIRC there were some other errands, but those were the highlights.

Yesterday we extracted honey. For rather a good chunk of the day. I turned the crank on the extractor. And turned, and turned, and turned it. I think we did 6 loads in the extractor, at 20-30 minutes each. Ron uncapped the frames, Robin provided general assistance (mostly of the strong back and weak mind variety, and Pippin pouted because we put the gate up to keep him out of the kitchen.

I bottled off 2 gallons so we could empty the extractor tank (the strainers were sitting in the honey in the bottling bucket at that point, and therefore wouldn’t drain any farther). A bit later I bottled off another two gallons. We didn’t need that much space in the bucket at that point, but  I figured we would for the honey draining out of the cappings. So, at the moment we have 4 gallons in bottles, 3 gallons or more in the bottling bucket, and another gallon or more in the cappings tank. And if the weather keeps up we may end up getting a bit more.

All the empty frames (in their supers) went out on the back porch for the bees to clean up the last bits of honey from, which resulted in a rather impressive cloud of bees around the porch – they were audible from the side porch. After we’d mostly finished extracting but before cleanup I tried to let the dogs out the back door. Elrond looked out, declined to go out, and asked me if I’d lost my marbles.

After extracting we were pooped, so we invoked plastic and summoned pizza for dinner.

Today we ran over to Guitar Center for a hanger for my soprano ukulele (since soprano uke cases are not to be had), and got some odds and ends of groceries. Then we retreated to the air conditioning: temperature-wise it isn’t really that bad, but it’s horribly sticky. And still a bit pooped.

A little while ago I opened up my package of ribs to start them (in the oven), and discovered it isn’t one slab, it’s two.  I put one in the oven and the other in the freezer. I vaguely followed AB’s “Who Loves Ya Baby-Back” instructions. Ron and Robin are having steak.

Maybe after dinner we’ll drain the honey from the cappings tank. If it isn’t too hot – the tank has a good lid, so an extra day or so draining won’t hurt it.

Er, I Guess it Wasn’t a Quiet Weekend After All

Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter Madness Infects Family!

Last week I mentioned the Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter campaign that Robin had pledged toward. Well, Ron decided that he wanted to get in on the deal too.  The campaign ended on Saturday at 5:00 pm (our time). It passed the minimum funding point early on, before Robin pledged, so “will it succeed?” was not a question. But, throughout the campaign they kept adding goodies, some of which cost extra. And it looked like it was going to be very successful.

So, Friday night we engaged in some Kickstarter-stalking. Saturday morning we got worse. Saturday afternoon . . . we obsessively watched Kickstarter. I made an attempt to ignore it and practice ukulele, but I wasn’t entirely successful. I also did some updates to “my” pledge as a couple really good goodies were added.

In the end, the Reaper Bones campaign was stupidly, insanely, wildly, ludicrously successful. As in Kickstarter’s 3rd-best project. Ever.

Kickstarter page for the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1513061270/reaper-miniatures-bones-an-evolution-of-gaming-min?ref=live

Kicktraq (tracking site) graphs here:  http://www.kicktraq.com/projects/1513061270/reaper-miniatures-bones-an-evolution-of-gaming-min#chart-daily

Fortunately, I did our last update before the load on the Kickstarter servers brought the site to its knees. 10-15 minutes before the project ended the servers just laid down and cried.

To give you an idea how crazy it was to watch, here’s a comparison of some numbers from an hour before the end, and the final numbers:

Pledged, 4:00: $3,312,748       Final: $3,429,236   (the servers were so pounded that number kept going up a couple/few hours after the campaign was officially done)

Backers, 4:00: 17,371     Final: 17,744

Yeah, almost 400 new backers in that last hour. And one of them, if my notes are correct, was at the $1000 level.

16,475 of the backers were at the $100+ “Vampire” level. Kicktraq says the average pledge was almost $200.

FWIW, Ron and Robin are each getting a Vampire package (although I’m pretty sure that only is counted as one Vampire level for stats), plus extras, for about 250 miniatures each, at an average of something like 67 cents/miniature. And some of those are big – one of the dragons or Cthulhu is 6-8″ tall. Yeah, gonna be a lot of minis in the house next spring.

The boggling, we had it.

Other Cool Projects Found While Obsessively Kick-Stalking the Reaper Project

I must love my husband. He’s pledged toward this project, a quick-change lens-holding system for Nikon or Canon lenses:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1022605159/quikdraw-an-innovative-lens-holster?ref=category

It hasn’t made the minimum goal, but the Kicktraq projection is favorable. Ron’s mentioned it on G+, he’d really like it to succeed.

I haven’t pledged to this spiffy drawing board/paper roll manager, but I’m thinking about it – both Ron and Robin like it too, so if we pledged enough to get one it would probably be used:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/antonreinig/sketchboard?ref=category

There’s a couple more things I’ve got reminders set on: a knitting book that I don’t think has any hope, and another miniature company campaign that Robin likes, but isn’t going to pledge to unless he gets a job before it ends.

There’s one project that I would considered pledging to, if it had been structured differently. An early-teen-age beekeeper is trying to raise money to buy her own extracting equipment. The problem is, she set her goal way too high (IMO, obviously), and it’s not looking good. She set her goal as a pretty nice set of motorized/automated equipment – over $6K worth. My approach would be to set  minimum goal (ie: the if you don’t hit it, you get $ZERO point) lower, to get extracting equipment like what we’ve got – a hot knife for uncapping, hand-crank  or smaller-capacity motorized extractor, and extras; and then state that if she gets to $X, $Y, and $Z goals she can upgrade to this, that, and other even better equipment.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1766386210/the-story-of-a-blossoming-honey-business?ref=live

On the one hand, I’d like to see this girl succeed, but OTOH, I think the goals are . . . not entirely realistic. If you choose your basic equipment right, you can upgrade/supplement without obsolescence. I think that’s a much better way to plan for business growth than the all-or-nothing approach the campaign appears to be taking.

Drums in the (Semi-) Dark

Saturday night we finally got to the “4th Saturday” drum circle that’s held at the Palatine UU church again. Since last time we’ve missed it because of cons/SCA event conflicts, and several times we meant to go but spaced out until it was too late. D’oh!

This time the group wasn’t as big or high-energy as the first one we went to (which IIRC was 30+ people?), but it was still fun. I ended up with Ron with his big 18″ djembe on one side, and a guy with the 16″ version on my other side. Hello, welcome to the bass-beat basement!

Actually, it wasn’t that bad. And a steady bass beat seems like it’s a necessary thing for the improvisers to play around. But a couple times I switched to my little drum with the tambourine-like jingles just to break out of the bass thing.

Somewhat Kickstarter-Related Ukulele Fallout

Yesterday Ron had a headache and the weather had me feeling very unmotivated to work on the Otter Necessities books or projects. So I poked around looking for open music stores to get a converter to go from the 5/8″ diameter threads to 3/8″ ones, for microphone stands. Ron got this nifty iPad holder (I have lust), a tabletop little tripod, and adapter (we already had one mike stand), but realized another adapter would be useful.

direct link to iPad holder: http://produkte.k-m.de/en/Multimedia-Equipment/Holders/19710-iPad-stand-holder-black-3-8

Unfortunately, there are not many music stores open on Sundays, and none of those had the adapter (we’d also checked Sam Ash and Guitar Center on Saturday). But we decided to go to Player’s Bench Music (http://www.playersbenchmusic.com/) in Crystal Lake anyway, because they were actually open, and looked like a cool store and we were bored.

It is a cool store. It’s in an older building, and has character, including creaky wooden floors, and somewhat oddly placed partitions and benches.

They also have ukuleles. Soprano ones. Nice soprano ones. And one less nice soprano uke than they did yesterday. Er. Um. No, I didn’t actually plan on getting a uke yesterday.  I blame Ron wanting to spoil me in return for spoiling him via Kickstarter.

My plan is that if we ever get to the point where we can play a song together, I’ll play the soprano. If I’m playing by myself, I’ll probably stick to the tenor.

Other Musical Stuff

Saturday we went looking for a  strap for my tenor uke. Couldn’t find the style we wanted, which hooks onto the bottom of the sound hole, goes under the body of the uke (or guitar), and then up and around your neck. So I got a regular guitar strap and button that they hook to.  I didn’t watch while Ron drilled the pilot hole yesterday, even though the block he had to hit is large and there was almost no risk of serious failure. But everything worked out fine.

Finding a strap at Sam Ash was interesting. A tenor ukulele is not exactly heavy, even if it is challenging to hold it and chord with one hand, so I didn’t need a big wide strap, or one with lots of padding, blah blah blah. Fortunately, I found one with a red brocade fabric. Pretty and not too overkill FTW!

Sunday we did find the other type of strap, and got one. But I’ll probably more or less re-build it, or at least wrap it in other fabric, as it’s made from a very scratchy plasticy nylon or something (also kinda ugly). But it was inexpensize, so even if I toss everything but the hardware I don’t mind.

Thinking of selling my clarinets. One is a decent but unexceptional plastic model, the other is a nice wooden one. The wooden one deserves to go to a new home where somebody will appreciate it and play it, which is highly unlikely to ever be me when it comes to playing it.  Not positive yet I’m going to send them on, but if I decide to I’ll probably take them to The Music Room, rather than dealing with selling them myself.

Critters

After looking at the weather report, we decided to defer extracting honey to this coming weekend. The weather Saturday was ok, but Saturday mornings usually are clobbered by one thing and another.  And Sunday was Right Out. Opening a hive when its rainy is just asking for cranky girls.

Next weekend also has the advantage of more possible days to accomplish setup, extracting, and cleanup. No, we’re not going to WorldCon. Just not interested.

Loyal dog is loyal: Even though he could have joined Ron and Elrond in flopping on the beds in the air-conditioning, Pippin stayed downstairs, snuggled up to me on the couch, while I played my new uke yesterday afternoon.

I’m getting the feeling I’ve missed something, but I think this is enough of a novel as it is – and I tried not to go step-by-step through our weekend!

Pippin, (Digital) Music, and More

I’d kinda figured from Pippin’s size and looks that either he’s a giant mutant Alaskan Klee Kai or a Siberian Husky mix. Last night I had it pretty much confirmed.

As I’ve mentioned, Pippin is a talkative boy. But last night he demonstrated that he has a watchdog bark. I skipped VS, and was upstairs practicing on Ron’s ukulele. Ron and Robin got home, and Pippin *launched* himself off the bed and ran downstairs barking. I was rather surprised by the watchdog behavior – huskies are craptastic watchdogs.  (Pippin has springs for legs, so the launch part was not particularly surprising in and of itself)  Our huskies have been known to bark when someone comes to the door, but it’s all about being excited and happy to see whoever it is. If they’re rushing the door, it’s because they want to say hi/slip out for an unauthorized run around around the neighborhood/help with the pizza. Guarding the house? Not so much.

So, not only do I have a dog, I have a watchdog.  Based on his shape and voice, I’m guessing he’s got some of one of the German Spitz breeds in him – which is right in line with being a jumbo AKK or a mix.

Happiness in dog-land, Robin has only one afternoon class today, and no classes on Fridays.

I think we may be extracting honey this weekend. IIRC Saturday’s weather forecast is better, but Sunday would be better time-wise. We’ll see what happens, no firm plans yet.

Tried playing “London Homesick Blues” with fair success last night. I even sang along. Not so much for “Rivers of Texas”, mostly because I didn’t have the actual melody (just the words and chords), couldn’t remember it, it wasn’t on my phone or iPad, and I was insufficiently motivated to go downstairs and get my iPod.  Note to self: make an iTunes playlist of songs that we have that we’re learning to play, and put it on all my iThingies.

Amazon gave me a $5 credit toward a digital music purchase for buying over $25 in textbooks, so I bought an album by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britian.  The purchase itself went fine, but I downloading it was an exercise in frustration. When I hit the big friendly “download” button(s), I got to pages informing me I’d already downloaded the songs – which you can only do once.

Found the help page that included contacting Amazon, and had them call me, initiating the call from my browser – nifty trick, points for putting it on their bill; whereupon I got to sit on hold until I actually was connected to someone.  The solution turned out to be rather non-obvious: launch Amazon’s cloud player, and download from there. Non-DRM MP3 files successfully downloaded, but it wasn’t a process that enamored me. I’ll stick to buying CDs and ripping them, thanks.

Reaper Miniatures’ Kickstarter campaign (which Robin has pledged to, via my credit card/Kicktstarter account) has reached what appears to be ludicrous levels of success. I think they hit their base goal within a couple days, passed $1M sometime last week, and now they’re approaching $2 Million,  in a 30-ish day run that ends tomorrow. Coincidentally, I read an article at The Beeb about crowdsourcing, and they mentioned that there’s some small number of Kickstarter campaigns that have cracked the 1-million level. I’m wondering if this is going to be a record-maker. Sometime come spring Robin is going to be getting a very large box of miniatures, at an average cost of $1 each, or less. He’s been cackling like a demented thing the last couple-few days.

Over the weekend I’d found beef tenderloins on sale at Eurofresh for $6.99/pound. Yes, one followed me home.  We finished it off last night (as steaks). It was yummy. I did trim off some silverskin, but it was pretty well trimmed even before I did that – much better than some tenderloin I’ve gotten in the past from CostCo, for a higher price.

Robin got a ball or two of pizza dough out of the freezer this morning, the plan is pizza for dinner. Toward that end we have pre-shredded cheese, pepperoni, onions, and a small jar of red sauce; but who knows what else may end up in the list of toppings.

Quick Updates

“Into the Woods, Jr.” was good. Some bugs, probably due in part to it being opening night. Instead of the 2nd act, the youth theatre group did a “cabaret” of musical numbers. We sat in the front row of the balcony, which wasn’t too bad.

Saturday was busy. Dogs to vet’s office for baths and getting Pippin’s stitches out, breakfast, errands errands and more errands, Robin to and from karate, picking dogs up, lunch, a MuseCon meeting, and then finally home. And maybe another errand? I forget.

Yesterday was more relaxed. I finally built my Lego Maersk container train/truck set. I think Robin worked on miniatures. And I washed all the dirty dishes and cooked dinner. And then we ate dinner which created more dirty dishes. Damn vicious circles. (viscous circles are more interesting).

The south hive absconded and is empty. The north hive isn’t doing a lot, and Ron said they were pissy, but they are storing some honey. The top-bar hive seems healthy. The east hive, however, has three supers. I think that’s the most one of our hives has needed, although a couple years ago we extracted twice, so it’s hard to say.

Finished Liscentia’s jacket, working on the knicker-ish hakama-ish things. I really need to put her wig on one of these days. IIRC I was going to order a silicone skullcap to go under it (helps hold it in place), too.

Work-wise, the biggest news is that the office refrigerator appears to be dead.

Yes, such exciting lives.

Not Exactly a Fun Long Weekend

Thursday night we talked about Eowyn. Ron and I agreed it was probably about that time; and while Robin didn’t agree, he didn’t disagree either. I had suggested taking her Saturday morning, but on Friday morning I think we realized that it was just dragging out the unhappiness for us, so I took a personal day (Ron had decided a couple weeks ago to take a vacation day, since his office was going to be a ghost town anyway), we piled everybody in the truck (since Elrond was due for vaccinations), made a stop for an Egg McMuffin for Eowyn, and went to the vet’s office.

Here’s a blog post from Saturday with a not-too-old picture of a happy, healthier Eowyn:  http://otternecessities.blogspot.com/2012/07/goodbye-eowyn.html

I really like Care Animal Hospital. We don’t generally see any specific vet, and I’ve liked all of them. Saturday we saw Dr. Sheridan. I’m assuming he looked at our chart, or maybe just us; he didn’t question our decision (not that we’d have had a problem if he’d wanted to talk about it), and he didn’t rush anything. Eowyn’s breathing was pretty raspy, even just standing in the exam room. I think he felt bad about it, too. The staff brought in a blanket for Eowyn, which she of course ignored until we insisted. Stubborn wench.

Given that everywhere we’ve ever dug in the yard we’ve encountered rocks, the ungodly heat, Ron’s back, yadda yadda, we opted for cremation. Ouchie, that’s gone up since it was Lobo’s time.

After we dropped Robin and Elrond off at home, Ron and my laptop and I went up to B&N to work on the program book (I did ask Robin if he’d wanted us to stay home and keep us company). I’d gotten to the point  where I just couldn’t stand the sight of the bedroom any more. Not so much because of the empty dog bed, just from feeling cooped up because of the heat.

And at B&N we could practice our denial skills and pretend that nothing was different at home.

Yes, we bought drinks and pastries at the cafe, and also a couple books.

Came home, moped around, went out for dinner, and then to Hobby Lobby. While Robin got the diorama supplies he was there for, I loitered around the fabric section. I found some things I liked, but that I wouldn’t wear myself. But I realized my dolls could and would, so 3 or 4 1-yard pieces of calico followed me home. I took pictures, but I left my phone at home today, sorry.

Sunday Saturday morning we looked at local shelter websites. We were thinking another medium or large dog, probably a short coat, maybe a hound (we’d started talking about “next dogs” in vague terms a couple-few months ago).

One problem with the general rescues, at least locally to us, is the abundance of pit bulls and pit-mixes. I know pits can be very sweet wonderful dogs, but I also know someone who has horrible problems getting a vet, groomer, boarding, etc. for hers just because he’s a big pit bull. I really don’t want to deal with that, so the pits and mixes that have very “bully” faces were out IMO.

First we went to The Buddy Foundation, in Arlington Heights. Of our short-list, everybody was out for one reason or another, but they suggested a husky-cross, Rooney, that I had thought looked too bully (http://www.thebuddyfoundation.org/component/joomgallery/?func=detail&id=1408). He was from Chicago Animal Control, and they have no clue how Chicago AC determined that he was a husky mix. We met him, he is a very sweet dog, and looks less bully in person. Elrond seemed ok with him, but ignored him pretty pointedly.  We decided to think about it.

Next stop (since Kay’s Animal Shelter didn’t list any dogs we were interested in) was Save-A-Pet. Years ago  we’d adopted cats from them, when they were on Rand Rd. in Palatine, raising money for their current facility, which is in Grayslake.

We had a pretty long “short” list, but had also noted dogs we were especially interested in on that list. One thing I don’t like about Save-A-Pet is that they let people browse through the kennel areas, mostly unattended. They ask you to stay in the middle of the aisle, and not to stop right in front of a kennel and look right at the dogs – because then they get wound up thinking you’re a new volunteer who’s going to take them for a walk. The lady with two little girls who was in front of us clearly was incapable of following instructions. Insert cranky scathing muttering here.

Anyway, after going through the kennels and seeing who was there, we asked about three dogs:

Dexter, a husky: http://www.saveapetil.org/pet/dexter

Bella, a hound: http://www.saveapetil.org/pet/bella

and Cody Bear, a Wolfhound/Schnauzer mix:  http://www.saveapetil.org/cody-bear

Unfortunately, although the previous owners said Cody Bear was good with other dogs, Save-A-Pet has yet to find any that it’s true about.

They were up front about Cody’s problems, and also Belle’s (apparently “Bella” on-line is a typo). Belle has shyness issues, and has been nippy. Not actually injuring anyone, but she’s a big girl and it scares people. OTOH, she’s only a year and a half old, so it’s also quite likely to simply be puppy behavior she wasn’t taught about earlier.

We were also willing to consider Dexter, who has epilepsy. BTW, and SPOILER ALERT (if you don’t read the Otter Blog or G+): that’s the last time I’m going to call him Dexter. He’s Pippin now.  Yes, as in Peregrin Took. LoTR names are a Winsauer thing.

We filled out an adoption application form and had an interview with a counselor.

We met Belle first. If you’ve ever seen Ron with dogs, you know that dogs almost universally love Ron. Even dogs that are shy, don’t like men because they’ve been abused by men, yadda yadda, they almost all decide that Ron is a safe person. Or funny dog. Whatever.

Unfortunately, Belle was the exception. It really boggles my mind that she didn’t take to Ron. She obviously did trust the volunteer who’s been working with her, so there’s hope. She’s a big, gorgeous black-and-tan girl, and I really really liked her. I wanted her, in fact. But if she wasn’t going to take to Ron, it wasn’t going to happen. I think Ron was disappointed, too. Our guess is she never was socialized as a young pup, and now she’s big and scares people.  Hopefully the right person comes in that she clicks with and has the time and patience she needs.

So then we met Pippin. He’s little, and was kinda hyper, and very very friendly. Not sure if he doesn’t have much under-coat, or he’s already finished blowing it out.

We went back toward home, had supper, picked up Elrond, and went back. Elrond and Pippin were definitely interested in each other. We had to tell the volunteer that no, they’re fine, they’re just being huskies with each other – which we had to learn when we got Lobo, because huskies being introduced looks like other breeds not liking each other, and huskies like to play rip-your-throat-out. Also had to explain that at the Buddy Foundation, but the volunteer there seemed a little more willing to listen.

Anyway, we were deemed acceptable (I did overhear that there was a concern about something, but not what it was), and Pippin went home with us.

He was just neutered on Tuesday, and had his back dewclaws removed (they were floaters, and they were concerned he’d have problems with them based on his energy level or in a seizure), so he has stitches, and is understandably protective about his privates. He gets 1 grain of phenobarbatol twice a day, and in the month he was at Save-A-Pet had had no seizures. Before that he was at Chicago AC, where he was reported to have had seizures and started on the meds.

On the way home we stopped at PetWhatever and got a small crate (shelter couldn’t guarantee he’s house-trained, and all our crates are too big for potty training), some new toys, and a Gentle Leader for Pippin. Because he *pulls*. The volunteer who did the “interactions” with us with Belle and Pippin (and ran us through some more obviously-screening questions) suggested a harness; at which I laughed and said that huskies just lean into them, we like Gentle Leaders, thanks. Hmm…I bet that was the issue – the guy clearly wasn’t a fan, and even seemed mildly disapproving when he suggested a limited-slip nylon collar, and I said we make our own leather ones.

So, here’s my blog post with pictures of Pippin in his first visit to the back yard:  http://otternecessities.blogspot.com/2012/07/not-replacement-but.html 

Pippin had to be coaxed up the (open) porch steps, and the steps to the second floor with food the first couple times, but by bedtime had mastered steps. By morning he’d noticed the dog door to the bedroom – the dog runs at SaP all have dog doors to outdoor areas, so that was no surprise.  We’re not trusting him outside loose/unsupervised, so the dog door to outside is only open at night for Elrond when Pippin is in his crate.

Pippin likes to snuggle, he’s napped with us both yesterday morning and this morning after an early-morning trip outside (as has Elrond), and on the couch. He was less hyper yesterday than Saturday, I suspect part of his hyperness was excitement. But he is much more active than Elrond is. We’ve started taking walks again. Training Pippin to wear the Gentle Leader is proceeding slowly, he’s fighting it more than the big dogs did.

Pippin is bold and pushy. He also likes to collect toys. Yesterday afternoon there was a squabble when he tried to go in Elrond’s crate, when Elrond was already in it. Ron hauled him out and scolded him, and we’ve been working on barking whenever he tries to go in Elrond’s crate. Although this morning while we were showering he stole the nylabones out of Elrond’s crate.

This morning Elrond was sticking up for himself more. When Pippin and I came downstairs Elrond was at the bottom of the stairs waiting, and at first I wasn’t sure he was going to let Pippin by. I suspect the timing is not a coincedence, to start asserting himself when the Alpha (Ron) and The Enforcer (me) were going off to work – he knows what getting ready for work looks like.

Yesterday Robin was grumbling about the collar Pippin wore home from the shelter, so we made him a new one, with a second dee ring opposite the buckle and dee that his tags hang from (so when the buckle and tags are under the dogs’ chin, the second dee is easy to find on the back of the neck, and easy to hook a lead to). When we went to take the old collar off, I couldn’t – it’s a nylon one, with no buckle, just a size adjustment, which was already full-size. Ron ended up cutting the size slider, which gave him enough slack to get it off. Pippin *had* put on weight since SaP got him, and his neck seemed fine, but it still didn’t make me happy.

Yesterday we let Pippin follow us around the backyard dragging his lead. Not surprisingly, as we went past the beehives he went to investigate (we hadn’t let him Saturday). I elbowed Ron but didn’t say anything when he stuck his nose into a bunch of bees around the entrance. Once the girls let him know how they felt about that we called him back (and fussed over him a bit). It’s the only way he’ll learn to leave them alone, but we didn’t want him feeling like a pincushion.

Ron took Pippin to our vet’s office yesterday while I worked on the program book. The doctor they saw took the bandaging off his back legs, she prefers to let incisions/stitches to get air while healing. And he’d been trying to take the vet-wrap off anyway. He did come home wearing a Cone of Shame, because he wouldn’t leave his paws alone. It seems, though, it was just temporary, after a while we released him from the cone (with three people to keep an eye on him it seemed safe), and he left them alone the rest of the day. Stitches come out Friday. a 90-day supply of phenobarbatol was only $60. IIRC one of Ron’s inhalers is more expensive than that, with insurance.

Pippin is just a hair shy of 40 lbs, and about 21″ at the shoulder. SaP said he was 4, but my brain is still trying to say he’s a puppy, because of his size. He’s on the bottom end of the breed standard for huskies, as opposed to the big dogs, who we’d always called our giant mutant huskies (Eowyn was 2″ taller than the max size for males). We had wondered if he was an Alaskan Klee Kai (AKK), which is pretty much a miniature husky. He does look more like an AKK than a Sibe to me – muzzle shape, ear size (BIG ears), and amount of tail curl, but he’s too big. So maybe he’s a giant mutant Klee Kai.  🙂  Or a cross.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaskan_Klee_Kai 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberian_Husky

The significant differences between Sibes and AKK’s seem to boil down to the size, and AKK’s being much more reserved, which Pippin definitely is *not*. And I’m not sure it really matters.

So, we still have an Eowyn-shaped hole in our lives, but Pippin helps. I was worried that people would think we got rid of Eowyn so we could get a new dog, but anybody who thinks that can take a hike, our friends will get it.  I haven’t really second-guessed myself on the decision about Eowyn; I know we didn’t take her before it was time, and I don’t think we waited until she was suffering.

More Insectoid Chaos

Last night, if you’d been watching our front yard at the right time, you would have seen Ron and I come rushing out the front door, and stripping my skirt and bee jacket off in a hurry…

Yeah, fun stuff.

When I got home we started to put the package of bees in the top-bar hive. We started with no protective clothing on, but either Ron hadn’t sufficiently soaked them with sugar water, or they were feeling cranky; when he started to shake them into the hive it was . . . dramatic. No stings incurred, but we finished up wearing jackets/veils.

Then we went and messed with the swarm. There was still a large mass on the ground under the shrubbery, so we searched the frames we’d tried to shake them into for the queen. No luck, but they slim down dramatically when getting ready to swarm, so she could have been there and we missed her.

Back to our yard to put the second supers on the two overwintered hives. We really need to put a gate in the other side of the house, especially since swarms seem to like the neighbors on the non-gate side of the yard.

After dinner we suited up again, closed up the box, pulled the wagon home, and re-assembled the hive we put the swarm in (put box with bees on base, put second box on top, add covers). I felt a sting on my thigh, but not too bad – I was proud of myself for not screaming and running about like a goon.

Checked each other over for loose bees, went inside, took off my gloves, pulled up my skirt, and oh my! Lots of bees! I hadn’t noticed because I was wearing cotton tights/leggings under my skirt. Cue the rushing out and partial stripping.

While I was losing my skirt, I realized a bee had gone up my sleeve, and either her little feet were feeling prickly, or she was giving me warning not-quite-stings. Ron helped me lose the jacket quickly (pullover style with integrated veil, and a little snug), then shook things out.

Since checking under my skirt had loosed a few bees in the living room, Robin had retreated upstairs. I only saw 2-3 when I went to bed, none this morning. And bees in the house typically buzz around windows or lights being confused, not cranky, so not a big deal. Much preferable to flies, IMO.

The sting on my leg is minor, not sure if I didn’t get a full shot through my tights, or if Benadryl kept it from getting too bad.

Hopefully the swarm queen is in the hive, and the girls under the bushes were just being stubborn/loyal to lingering pheremones, and still close enough to her, and clear out now that she’s out of the vicinity. We had something similar happen with a package last year – a bunch of workers decided the empty queen cage needed to be hung out on the way it would if the queen was still in it, even though she was in the hive.  We’ll see…

Did find somebody local-ish for the extra package, they were picked up yesterday.

Busy Weekend, with Bugs

AAARGH! The troll under the ethernet bridge just ate a long post!

Ok, at this point you get the tl;dr version.

Friday through Sunday was long busy days at CodCon (gaming convention at College of DuPage).

Yesterday I drove to Elgin to get leather, to Vernon Hills to pick up Ron, to Watertown WI to pick up bees for our two empty hives, back to Vernon Hills to get the truck, then back home. IIRC I left home about 7:30 am and got back home about 5 pm.

Then we cleaned wax moth damage out of one of the two empty beehives that didn’t make it through the winter.

After that, our neighbor came over to tell us about a big swarm of bees that had been in his yard since Wednesday.

So then we had to go deal with the swarm, which got shaken into one of the boxes for the empty hive, which means we now have an extra package of bees, which I’ve offered on the state beekeepers’ list.  The swarm was more docile than we’d have expected if they’d been there since Wednesday, and we were home Thursday night, so I’m wondering if the neighbor is mis-remembering what day the swarm landed. Not sure if the swarm came from one of our colonies, which we did quick checks on after dealing with the swarm, and both look strong. The swarm could also have come from a wild colony.

After Robin mows the lawn this morning (off for standardized testing for the Junior class), we’ll install the one package of bees we’re keeping in the top-bar hive, and put another set of honey supers on the two hives that over-wintered, in case they need more space.

Can I have a nap now?