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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Decorating for Halloween!

About Decorating for Halloween....I generally don't.
I've got friends that go whole-hog when decorating for Halloween. And I'll cheer them on, help them find decorating stuff, and proudly describe their accomplishments. 

Me - not so much with the Halloween decorating. 
I don't throw a party or anything and it's just more stuff for the cats to uh, "rearrange". 

I do carve some interesting pumpkins for Halloween. But I didn't this year and I'm not finding electronic pictures of my past carvings. 
(I'll sit down and figure out the scanner feature in the aging printer soon, really). 

Ok, I have been known decorate my desk at the office. 
Just so I could have these pretties out to admire (and hug) at least once a year: 
{The soft Beanie Baby Black Cat with the wicked orange eyes on the
far left is probably my favorite of this group.)
Most of the above (and several from the next group below) were gifts from my best-est friend-of-most-years, Joyce.
I did purchase the tall, 2nd-from-the-left Kitty in the Ghost dress and "Mary-Janes" is from an extremely talented crafting friend whose ability and imagination never cease to amaze me. 

The black cat draped over the bench handle on the left side is actually a scarf - that I plan to wear tonight to greet Trick or Treaters. 

As you've probably guessed, the Door Handle decoration won't be hung on any doors in my home where the monster-cats can reach it. {shudder}
An extremely gifted needlepointing friend made this treasure for me years ago. 

{The nifty fabric on the back!}
She chooses amazing, creative stitches and selects very specific fibers and colours that add texture and depth to her needlepoint pieces. 
{Did you notice the ceramic "Candy Corn" ears?}

Hmmm - it would appear I actually did do some 
"Decorating for Halloween" this year. 
I decorated the blog!

May you all have a safe and fun Halloween with 
many smiles and just the right amount of 
chocolate, excitement, and friends.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Office Critters - from a couple of offices ago

You wouldn't expect to have an encounter with Birds of Prey at a regular office job, but I did.
Several times.
I posted the {not great} pictures of the Family of Hawks I found near the office in a previous "Critter" post.

More than just an Owl: 
One of the odd benefits of leaving work later in the day, ok - at night, was that I got to see the stars, it was a little cooler at that time of day (and so was my car...), and sometimes I got to see the night-time critters.

One evening, as I was walking out to the car, I realized there was a Very Large bird sitting on top of the camera positioned on the SW corner of the building. I realized it was an Owl. A Great Horned Owl.
I ogled it for a few moments and it obligingly spread it's wings and flew a short distance to the balcony overhang and perched there for a bit. About then, I realized there was a 2nd Great Horned Owl perched  on the Eastern-most corner of the building.
I had my little camera with me but in the very low light and at that distance, I only got vague shapes or completely black photos. {sigh}

A much closer view:
My second experience with a Great Horned Owl at work happened a little earlier in the day - late afternoon/early evening. I was walking out of the front of the building when something fast blurred over the grass and went up over my head.
I could see there were tufts of bunny fur on the grass.

Above my head, perched on the front edge of the interesting metal awning on the front of the building, was a Great Horned Owl. He was about 8 feet above my head and looking over at the grass.
He was stunning and Huge!!
{BTW - His talons were empty so the bunny had a narrow escape.}

Again, I had my little camera with me so I quietly reached into my bag to get the camera....
AND he turned and looked down at me. {Beautiful eyes!!}
I froze.
He lost interest and looked away so I tried again for the camera....And he glared at me again!
I froze again.
I tried again to reach for the camera when he looked away but he chose to fly off before I got the camera out and on.   {sigh}

Smaller but more colorful:
The last Bird of Prey I saw at the office was a bit smaller.

This picture has been loitering in my e-mail.
Because it was taken by a very talented Photographer (i.e. not me {grin}) I would still like to share it with you - even though it was taken a few years ago/ a couple of offices ago.
(More info on my friend's pictures and websites appear below.)

I had walked to a set of cubicles on the other side of the office to ask Client Support some questions but when I walked into their cube-area I was stopped short by the unusual bird sitting on the edge of their window. I asked who their friend was but they hadn't realized they had a visitor.
I sent someone to see if our photographically-talented co-worker had his camera with him - which he did and he took this beautiful picture of our American Kestrel visitor.
I admire my friend's abilities greatly. He takes amazing pictures out at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum and at the Arizona Renaissance Festival each year.
This is a link to RaVen's Website. More pictures are available on his Facebook page.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pesto! (Not "Road Apples", really.)

One of the things I have done with my extra time this week is a bit more cooking.
Not a lot...just a few things. With my previous work habits, cooking when I got home from work was pretty rare.

Last week I did a modified version of Crock Pot Alfredo Lasagna - with some substitutions and a mildly tragic addition of broccoli. For color - it looked quite nice. The mildly tragic part was the flavor. It was pretty decent...just "ennhh" on the broccoli bites.

I made chicken soup for the DH on Sunday to help him combat a cold that had been making him frog-voiced since Friday.
Minced Garlic + chicken broth + pasta + rotisserie chicken pieces I'd frozen + frozen veggies (Trader Joes with Garlic sauce) and...oh, dried onion. Came out rather well. The DH had seconds. {Woot!}

So...the "Road Apples" of the Blog Post name?
It pertains to another experiment I tried when a friend gifted me with a branch of basil from the expansive bush o'basil from her back yard.
Fresh Basil is a lovely thing....but what to do with a quantity? The friend suggested Pesto Sauce.

I pulled out a few cookbooks, considered the ingredients...
Basil? Garlic? Pine Nuts? Olive Oil? Parmesan Cheese? 
Yum! I gotta make me some of this! 

And I did - I plotted to combine 2 of the Pesto recipes. I plucked Basil leaves, rinsed them off, christened my purchased but never used Cuisinart, and combined the loverly, basic Pesto ingredients to make Pesto for the first time.

I put the resulting yummy green goo into ice cube trays and froze them for ready-use at a later date.

I was a bit pleased with myself and the following Monday at the office, I showed a couple of friends pictures of my new culinary achievement.

A friend of many years couldn't help but laugh...and point out that the frozen green lumps I was so tickled about looked very much like...Road Apples.
She was right...I couldn't help but laugh and now when I pull out the frozen balls o'pesto to add to eggs, pasta, soup....I think of "Road Apples".  Leetle teeny ones.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What ate this??

It was a busy morning...
(Disclaimer - Don't be tink'n dat dell be a blog posted daily...We'll jus' see how't go's. {apply poorly-executed fake accent of your choice})

I've hosted the Bug Guy, done a laundry load of kitty-towels, updated the Ravellenic medals on the Blog (did you notice? {wry grin}), near-filled the weekly trash pickup with cut oleander branches, picked up the remnants of a broken beer bottle from the sidewalk on the side of our house {sigh-one of the many joys of a corner-house} and paused to ponder this sight:
This is nearly 5 feet from the ground in the towering wall of Prickly Pear and about a foot inside the patch.
??!!??   i.e. W.T.H.?!?
I thought only Javalina ate Prickly Pear cactus, but unless we've achieved "When peccary fly" there's something else munching on the Prickly Pear wall o'cactus.

Yep, after yard work was as done as it was gonna get ("full trash bin"), I came back inside and checked the internet to see What Eats Prickly Pear Cactus:

  • Jackrabbits and Deer. {Seriously? I've seen coyotes in town, but never deer. And bunnies jumping up 5 feet to chomp cactus...Yeah, I don't think so.}
  • "Galapagos Finches". ?? Waaaitt - this is a Monty Python Reference, right? {Sigh - YES (link to applicable "Holy Grail" scene reenactment {with Cats!} courtesy of Paul Klusman).}
  • (I need to get away from WikiAnswers.) 
  • Although - this one is interesting...but it seems to be from Australia: "Wood Rats" and "The Cactoblastas catterpillar""has all but erradicated PRICKLY PEAR from Australia where the catterpillar was introduced to control the cactus." (Ironic.)
  • Ok, lemme find a reference not entirely based on random opinion or humor and possibly for my side of the globe.
  • This one references moths/insects but the effect doesn't seem similar. 
Yeah, well, I'm a bit stumped. My best guess would be a bird is involved, but I'm at a loss regarding what kind of bird. 

The morning was also decorated with slumbering felines: 
Nikoli (top) and CooPurr (bottom)
Well, 2 slumbering felines...one was flossing his teeth on the handle of a paper bag: 
Gryphon (can you tell he's the youngest?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

So...if I'm unemployed, where's the Daily Blog Posts?

I've been kind of wondering that myself.

In a way - it seems like a long weekend (if you don't count taking the Little Brother to the Eye Doc, my own Dr. appointments, catching up on neglected errands {neglected 'cause I'd been working on the far side of town}, studying the Arizona Unemployment Insurance Website...).

The things I'm most pleased with about my newly unemployed state: I've exercised every day save one and I'm not as reluctant to get up in the morning.

Hmmm - that's a bit telling.

The to-do list is long. Getting a job is on the list, but I'm more interested just now in hearing about the Educational Assistance Options from the State of Arizona. Yep, I'm looking into going back to college for a little while. I wouldn't mind some assistance 'bout now. We'll see what they say and what my options are.

So...gonna fix the lack of blogging (since I have some free time)? That is the plan.
I'm going to try to shift away from the current meandering long "weekend" perspective and apply some daily discipline to blog a bit more about what-all I've been up to these last few days.

Today, I caught up on some bookmarked Internet items I've been meaning to get back to, some gotta-dos and, yeah, some meandering:
  • An NPR Summary about "The Lasting Appeal of Orff's "Carmina Burana". (No, this hasn't been waiting for me since 2008 - I read of it on a favored blog a few months about and searched to see what music was being praised. Not surprisingly, some of it is quite familiar - as you've probably already found.)
  • Checking into reporting a Graffiti attack on our brick wall surrounding our back yard. {SIGH/Grrrrr} {Does tagging remind you of dogs marking territory?} (Cool - looks like there might be removal assistance too!)
  • I tweeted out some pictures of Nikoli {"Look!It's Fall!"} & Mikale {Effect of Sunshine} and checked in on Twitter. (OK, I did get distracted for a bit with The Bloggess' recent blogs and Pinterest Board. {Wicked-clever sense of humor on that woman, I swear.})
  • Checked into a Movie a friend had invited me to join her in viewing at the Loft Theater
  • I splurged a very little to purchase books/donate to some charities via The Humble eBook Bundle (which I saw Tweeted by Neil Gaiman (also on his blog)).
  • They seem big to me. Need to measure recipient's feet myself. 
  • I've been catching up on the video blog by MSkiKnits of SingleHandedKnits. (I'm still a bit behind. Rather like my "Sock The Vote" KAL sock knitting. {sigh} (I'll post pictures later - now it's later. Here's the current status of my STV socks: STV KAL.
  • Last night a friend took me to a Faculty Artist Series Recital at the UofA College of Fine Arts School of Music. Mark Votapek (cello) and John Milbauer (piano) performed at Holsclaw Hall. It was a lovely evening and I'll be looking into attending more of these {some} inexpensive treasures. (My first time at Holsclaw Hall - there's a picture to pull into this post...)   
Pre-concert view. (I'd like to go hear
the organ played sometime!)
Whups - Accidental photo of my concert knitting. 

  • As already noted, I checked into old-job exodus updates and new-job/schooling options.
  • The list goes on and ONLY gets more boring as I type. Stopping with the bullets now.

This afternoon's plot - HAIRCUT!! (Those of you who have experienced the bit-shaggy, unruly escapades of curly hair can relate to the joy of a pending haircut when you Really need it!).
Then - errands, graffiti picture-taking, baby-sweater seaming, and possibly a $1.50 movie outing!

{wry grin} I do appear to be a cheap date.

Have a good Tuesday folks!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

For the first time since I was a teen-ager...

For the first time since I was a teen-ager....I am not gainfully employed.

It's been nearly a year since I was "Mildly excited at the prospect of unemployment".
The gent who purchased our system earlier this year and invited a few of us to come along to run the system decided about a week ago that he was not going to pursue this particular endeavor any further.

Our work ethic, knowledge base and potential did not inspire the closure of our branch of the company. Because honestly - we have a very good reputation in the industry and have done (and continued to do) stellar work; accomplishing much in short time spans that could not be matched by our competitors. {Disclaimer - the post represents only my opinion. However, I am not prone to self-aggrandizement so if I offer this level of compliment, I'm pretty serious and I'm still understating reality.}.
I'm not at liberty to discuss the comments made during our final meeting or the many internal employee discussions, suppositions, theories or mostly good-humored grousing that followed. But I have to say, our final meeting and official notice of layoff had some profound Sitcom properties (would probably work on "The Office").
There's nothing for it but to laugh and move on.

This has been an eventful year. I have to acknowledge {with sincere and profound thanks} that my "interesting" employment situation between the two companies in the last year enabled me to spend the time needed at the hospitals and participate in my Little Brother's recovery from the Diabetes crash in February.
This kind of happenstance does lend credence to the premise that "things happen for a reason". 
Additionally, because of the employment ending with the last company and the "in transition" limbo at the new company, I was not torn between working the usual extra nights/weekends and being available to my Little brother. Because we were waiting on the new company and I wasn't doing daily trouble-shooting, I was able to clear out a huge chunk of my research/document to-do list and then, when I was drafted back into QA, I had time to refresh my memory and "flex" my brain on testing programs. (Which I hadn't done in over a decade {I have to say, it's A LOT more fun to test programs when the deadlines don't have to be enforced because you're "in transition"}).

So, what to do now.
The resume is mostly updated - and tends to be industry specific. I suspect it will not make sense to folks outside the industry so I'll need to figure out how to do a 2nd, skills-oriented version for the rest of the business world. (Do I even need a resume if I just want to go work at a big-box store?)
I also need to figure out the Unemployment rules, benefits, support options and how to use them.

Mostly, I need to decide what I'd like to do and when. I'm seriously considering getting out of the industry that has harbored me for so long - and inspired me to donate so much extra time out of my life.

I would also like to have some down-time. I'd like to work on the house and the many neglected and half-started projects laying about. I'd like to catch up on sleep. {What a concept.}.

But I have to confess, going back to school for a bit is also on my mind. Finish the programming degree? There are lots of new languages to learn. Maybe focus on Fiber Arts and finish pursuing my Master Knitter certification. Very tempting.

We shall see. It's only been a few days.
Although, I have to wonder how long a recovering Work-a-holic can stand to be unemployed.