oh hai

Jul. 26th, 2011 10:42 pm
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Wow, LJ is back. How nice of it to let me read and post again.

I just wanted to say how awesome Wes (the chef at Salt) is. We showed up tonight, planning to meet Robin and Laura for dinner. We walked right in where Wes greeted us, asking if we're friends of Tara. We, very confusedly, said no, that we were there for dinner. He explained they're closed on Tuesdays but he just got married and was celebrating so we should have a drink and look around and enjoy the hors d'oeuvres.

After I got over my "omg I can't impose" instinct, we got a couple glasses of a delicious rose bubbly, had a guided tour of the wine room and the egyptian theater, and chatted with both the bride and groom. Robin and Laura arrived and we sat a bit while finishing the champagne, then headed a few blocks over to the West End Grill for a tasty dinner. The polenta fries are great.

I can't wait for an occasion to book one of the private spaces at Salt for a party!
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Since Netflix has Star Trek, The Next Generation available on streaming, we've been watching it from the beginning. We're four or five episodes in now, and my loathing of Wesley Crusher has only gotten more intense. Hate Hate Hate. Otherwise, so far this first season is pretty campy compared to some of the later ones I've seen. There are also some pretty hideous costumes.

Last night was the woodturners meeting. I confirmed that I'm going to do a demo of how to make a lidded box in October. I took a small vessel I made and entered it in the "under 3 inch" president's challenge. It won, so I got a $10 gift certificate. Yay! After the meeting we had dinner at a rather nice restaurant (Terraza Grill) in Arnold, part of the Lombardo's family restaurants.

I went and volunteered at the Animal House Fund on Wednesday. People, if you love cats, you need to go there and help out. It's heartbreaking to see so many kitties who need homes. They ham it up for people as they walk by, trying to get attention. It's a no-kill shelter, and they do really great work, but they're clearly in need of people and money and supplies. I did some filing work and I'm going to be helping with process improvements in their computer systems and paperwork. They need people who can build things, do electrical work, run phone lines, play with kitties, clean things, almost anything you can think of! Another organization, Metro Animal, is paired up with the Animal House Fund at the shelter. They also do really great work with TNR and relocating feral cats that are turned in to farms where people need sterilized barn cats to keep rodent populations in check. Please people, the kitties need your help!

During all that Star Trek I've been doing some spinning. It's going along nicely and I finally found all the parts to my niddy noddy so I can skein it. The skein winder Brent's building would make that go faster, but it's not quite done yet.
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We had a fun partial week down in Southern IL. Much of the very southern part of the state is part of the Shawnee national forest. There are some really cool geologic features.

Monday we took a leisurely drive from St. Louis to Mt. Vernon. We stopped in at GenKota Winery for a while and picked up some brochures about wineries further south. Then we checked in to our B&B, Sidwell Friends. It was a lovely house beautifully decorated. A great place to base our adventures for the following days. Dinner was unremarkable as the choices in Mt. Vernon are slim.

Tuesday we went exploring, with the intention of visiting some of the more southern wineries. We got distracted by the natural sights instead though, so we didn't make it to any of them. Our first stop was the Little Grassy Fish Hatchery. They hatch and grow catfish there to get them to 8" long so they can stock them in ponds all over Illinois. Apparently they are suffering greatly from the IL state budget cuts. The visit was interesting though, and we got to feed some little catfish. The lady who showed us around told us about Garden of the Gods state park, and that destination shaped the rest of the day's exploring.

Next, we stopped in at Giant City state park. The visitor center was closed (boo!), and we didn't see any giants or their city, but we did hike up a hill to see what's called a Stone Fort. It was really interesting, and the hike was lovely because it followed a rocky stream bed. The views were also really cool from the top, because you are right up at the edge of some steep cliffs. Anyway, although it's called a fort, there's no evidence that it was actually used as one. In any case, it's still quite interesting and lovely to visit.

From there, we headed east across the state. The next stop was Burden Falls. Right off the highway you can park and there's a very cute little set of falls; in a rocky creekbed. I would have been happy to see that and leave, but Brent said he heard another set of falls, so along the stream bed we went. There wasn't much water so we were able to walk very easily along the dry rocks. Brent was a little ahead of me and as we came to the cliff he looked over and the look on his face was great. The next set of falls was at least a 40 foot drop. There were huge boulders at the bottom where parts of the cliff had sheared off in the past. I only found one good photo of the lower falls, but it did not convey the size properly, so I modified it by drawing in a stick figure for scale. After our visit, Brent was googling to find out more about the site, and he found there had been a fairly recent accident there. I hope they don't try to block off access or put in some kind of railing. It really is such a lovely spot, it should continue to be at one's own risk.

Our next stop was Bell Smith Springs. We just walked around a bit and I played around barefoot in a very cold spring. Since my butt and feet were already wet from falling in the creek at Burden Falls, we didn't want to do any lengthy walks. This is a place we'd like to go back and explore in more detail in the future.

After that, I set set my shoes out under the floor vent so they'd dry before our next stops. We tried to find Lusk Creek Canyon, but the roads and our map failed me, so we continued on to Garden of the Gods State Park. It was awesome. A short interpretive trail leads you out to these huge sandstone boulder cliffs. The trail spurs lead right up to the rocks, clearly inviting one and all to climb up all over them. It was great fun! There were steep drop offs, but if you were sensible about it, it was quite safe. It was definitely worth the drive. I give it an A+ in state park scores.

We then headed back to Mt. Vernon for a lovely dinner at 9th Street Grill. I gather that it must be the nicest place in town, and the food was great.

Wednesday was our boat day. Yay! We puttered around Rend Lake for about 4 hours in a pontoon boat. We had a cooler full of sodas and sandwiches, and we had a lovely lunch on the water. We didn't swim a ton because the water was surprisingly cool, but it was fun to get in for a dip now and then. The lake was nearly deserted and we hardly saw any other boats the whole time we were out there. It was a really cool experience since I'm used to much more crowded and noisy lakes. After the fact I found out that a kid drowned in that lake, while swimming from one of the beaches around the same time we were there. Sad. After that, we stopped by the Art and Artisans center where we saw some cool old and new quilts, and lots of crafts for sale. Some of them were really nice and good values. Some were not. Dinner was back alongside the lake at the resort where the food was ok but the service was very poor.

Thursday we decided to do more National Forest/State Park explorations. We first went back to Giant City State Park, where I was determined to find that Giant City. After much wandering around, we finally found the shelter area where the trail started. Things are hard to find at that park when the visitor center is closed. The trail was a mile long hike that was pretty rigorous. It was up and down hills a lot, but it was worth it. There were very cool rock formations caused by erosion. The graffiti on some of them was awesome too, as people had chiseled their names and the dates into some of the rocks in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This guy has some good pictures of what it looks like. There are also a bunch of natural overhanging cliffs that were used as shelter by some Indian tribes.

From there we headed toward the Mississippi river to see some more sites marked on my map. We saw the Tower Rock out in the Mississippi, but it was considerably less dramatic since the river was very high and only the top-most part of the rock remained.

We tried really, really hard to get into the Larue Pine Hills natural area, but flood waters would not let us in. We were thwarted at every path. We did see the famous road that gets closed every year to allow snake migrations (though apparently it's closed permanently right now due to flood damage). We also saw a mystery mammal that I have not been able to identify. We did a lot of backing up and turning around as many of the roads we took were met with water over the road.

Finally, we did manage to find a way to cross the Big Muddy river so we could get to the Little Grand Canyon. The full hike can take 4 hours, and from some signs at the top, we saw that it was probably not possible to do some parts of the trail due to flooding. So we did the reasonable thing and hiked toward the observation platform marked on the map. It was a pretty easy downhill hike, and we eventually got to a switchback where the path turned to dirt instead of asphalt/gravel. After careful inspection, we determined that the observation point should have been right before the switchback, but some tree falls and/or other issues had wiped out the former bench and railing that denoted the observation point. We could kinda tell there was a canyon there to see, but the trees and brush were really thick, so honestly it wasn't too impressive. If we go again, I'd like to go in a non-floody season and do the whole hike. The hike back up to the parking lot nearly killed me. What was a straightforward downhill to the canyon felt like a nearly vertical hike back up. ouchie. I was pretty wiped out by the top. Half a mile of steep incline kills. However, it was a good exertion and I still enjoyed it despite not getting any amazing views. People hurt themselves and/or get lost and need rescued at this site pretty regularly. Nature is dangerous, people!

From there we headed home, stopping in Waterloo for dinner. The kitties were mostly happy to see us when we got home. Lola wouldn't leave me alone, and the others seemed eager to be petted. Or maybe they just wanted their bowls shaken. I had to work from about 10pm til 1am, for a deployment, but that all went very smoothly.

Now the holiday weekend is ahead. Brent's off doing things today, so I'm going to do some woodturning. Tomorrow is dinner with Dad and Dannye. Sunday is fireworks at my sister's place in Jefferson County. Monday is a low key 4th of July with some rooftop fireworks watching.

Flooding

Jun. 21st, 2011 04:52 pm
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More from the flooding up north. This is Corning, a tiny town about 9 miles from the house I grew up in. We picked up kids there on my school bus route. Brent and I visited a church there to see the pipe organ on one of our visits home.

http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/261479_10150338545051124_190404836123_10098360_4286759_n.jpg

There's not much above water there right now.
zinniz: (Default)
I won't be traveling to Minnesota again for a few more weeks, so that's nice. I've been doing pretty good lately with coming up with weekly meal plans and eating at home rather than going out. We've had some delicious stuff. I made chicken speidini one night, and a marinated/grilled flank steak another night. I haven't figured out this week's meals yet though.

I watched a shameful number of "extreme couponing" episodes last week. First off, those people are completely crazy. Second, it has inspired me to clip a few coupons and pay attention to what's on sale a little more. We'll see how long this inspiration lasts. I can, however, guarantee that there will be no food stockpile here. Good for my sanity, bad for the zombie apocalypse.

Flooding is getting pretty bad up in Atchison County. Fairfax is up away from the river, but a lot of people live or farm closer to the river. The town that we'd exit at from the interstate is evacuating tomorrow: http://stjoechannel.com/fulltext-news/?nxd_id=207537 My cousin posted some video of a road near her house washing out. It sounds like some pretty rough times up there. At least at this time, the Tarkio river isn't flooding, so Fairfax itself should be just fine, including the water supply there.

This weekend was a lot of movie fun. We saw Red at Tim and Tiffany's movie night, then Super 8 yesterday afternoon. I think I have Brent convinced to go see Company with me tomorrow since that's the last day it's playing in theaters. I enjoyed watching Super 8, but some of the special effects were way over the top for what the movie was trying to be. I found it really irritating, and in my opinion, the movie needed a little more subtlety to fit in with the retro vibes it was going for.

In house news, the AC is working marvelously now on both floors. We are able to keep a constant comfortable 76 degrees without the condenser running continuously. I just ordered a diaper genie to help contain litter box smells and encourage frequent scooping. We'll see how that works.
zinniz: (Default)
Just for tracking purposes...

1. Sand and spray paint the outdoor wooden chairs.
2. Scrape and paint the railing.
3. Fix the small table in the bathroom.
4. Shellac the back stairs.

Chores

Jun. 13th, 2011 12:52 pm
zinniz: (Default)
I'm working on putting together a chart of household chore/to do items so we can keep caught up on things. Plus I like to mark things off lists.

In looking online at suggested lists, it seems like most people say to wash their sheets weekly. We have been washing every other week. Do you guys wash/change sheets weekly?

How often do you clean out your refrigerator/freezer too? I am ashamed to admit this probably happens about once a year around here, but I am trying to be a little better there. Every 3 months? Every month? What's the standard?

Also, if you have any sample chore charts, I'd love to see them.

Dreamwidth

Jun. 10th, 2011 10:24 am
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Do any of you guys use Dreamwidth? What do you think? I'm wondering if it might be a good place to move this journal over to.

Whew

Jun. 5th, 2011 04:47 pm
zinniz: (Default)
I am a sweaty mess. It's humid in the basement and with my turning smock and face shield on, I really work up a sweat. This morning I rough turned a spalted ambrosia maple bowl. It's in the tub of alcohol soaking now. Then this afternoon I took out two loads of shavings from the basement, including one bin full of walnut that I dumped on a corner of the yard to see if it kills the weeds. That gave me some working space free of shavings so I grabbed one of the mulberry blanks I rough turned last weekend. It was actually dry and ready for finish turning from what I can tell. It was the one that had a crack when I started, and there's a tiny crack left in the bottom so I just put some glue on it and we'll see if it holds.

The turning is all finished and has a lovely bark edge, but now I need to sand it. Ugh. A messy task when I'm sweaty already. Maybe I'll work on it tonight. It would be nice to have it ready for show and tell at next week's turning club meeting.

I have about 20 minutes of work I need to do today. True to my personal style, I'm waiting until the last minute.

There was quite a shocking revelation at the end of yesterday's Dr. Who. I can't wait to see what happens next week.

Ok, enough procrastinating for now. Time to get cleaned up and start some laundry.
zinniz: (Default)
1. It makes your hands turn black.
2. It causes almost instant rust on unfinished metal.
3. It is more dense than maple and mulberry.

Idiots

Jun. 1st, 2011 06:57 pm
zinniz: (Default)
I'm good at putting things together from kits. I follow the step by step directions and get it done. Clearly some people FAIL at this.

I took apart more of the band saw today, only to find a missing part on the drive shaft. According to the manual, there should be a 3/16" woodruff key to affix the drive pulley to the spindle that makes the saw work. Once I finally got it apart, I find that there is no key affixing the two parts together. The idiot who put it together just left it out, then screwed the set screw in as far as it goes, therefore making the saw moderately functional, though it slips easily under a heavy load.

The set screw has chewed up the spindle a bit where it had slipped, but I got it all apart, and the home depot website tells me they sell woodruff keys in a 2-pack for 74 cents.

Come on people, power tools are not the place to skimp when it comes to reading the assembly instructions.

At least I have a purry lap kitty to whisk the irritation away.

Stuff

Jun. 1st, 2011 04:11 pm
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We closed today on our refinance to move from a 30 year to a 20 year loan, cutting 5 years out (since we were already 5 years in on the 30 year. Awesome! This also means I don't have a mortgage payment til August. Sweet!

I dropped off Joanna's place mats at the history museum today for the "Woven in Time" exhibit coming up this fall. There was much confusion since they did not tell me that I should be dropping it off at the research library location rather than the museum itself. Bad communications on their part. Oh well, it's done.

We finally have the AC on. The second floor is working great but the first floor is not. Someone's coming to look at it tomorrow. That'll probably take care of spending the surplus we'll have from not paying the mortgage this month. The joys of being a homeowner, right there.

I spent a lot of time fixing the band saw on Sunday, and it worked fine for a while, but now I'm having a new problem. I think either the belt is loose, or the blade is too dull. I might work on that tonight so I can get on to preparing some more turning blanks. The ones I roughed out this weekend seem to be drying ok out on the back porch. I hope they don't crack.

Allergies have hit me hard this spring. So far, everything except sudafed makes me sleepy or doesn't work. Maybe I should just plan more naps into my days.

I have a very tedious task that needs doing at work. I'm going to do it this evening I think, after dinner. Actually, as I think of it now, I can do that tedious task in 1 delightfully quick update statement because I only have to do it in dev (where I have access to update via sql). The poor payroll team is then the ones that will have to do it all manually in production. Poor guys, I'm glad I'm not in payroll. Maybe I'll go do that update statement now.
zinniz: (Default)
I'm sad it's over. The weekend was filled with summertime reading choices (Lakeshore Chronicles by Susan Wiggs), wood turning, and a few social events. It was lovely.

I had ordered a couple new woodturning tools, both of which came unhandled, so this weekend I made handles for them. It was pretty easy--definitely something I'll do again. Once I had the new bowl gouge ready, I tried it out on some of the library mulberry.

The wood was so wet it actually flung water at me as I turned the lathe on. I had to clean my face shield every few minutes. I still haven't cleaned up all the shavings downstairs either. I rough turned 3 natural edge mulberry bowls, and one maple bowl. I learned an important lesson about turning while wearing shorts. Don't drop the tool to your side and let the tip of it touch your leg. If you've been doing some heavy turning, it may be hot enough to burn. Ouch.

After I got the rough turnings done, I fixed up a 5 gallon bucket of denatured alcohol. The internets tell me that soaking the bowls in alcohol will hasten drying and reduce risk of cracking. We shall see how it goes.

Today or tomorrow, I have to go by the history museum to drop off the place mats for the exhibit there. Tomorrow we finally close on our refinance. Yay for knocking off 5 years from the mortgage without increasing monthly payments much.

And now to get back to work where I have a production issue that's not huge, but is irritating enough I have to come up with a solution in the next couple days.
zinniz: (Default)
What I did this weekend? It feels like almost all I did was sleep. I don't know what was up, but I could not get enough sleep.

Friday we hit the art walk in grand center and saw some weird stuff (like "Pee Body" as seen here: http://theslideprojector.com/images/1990s/smith/peebody2.jpg).

We got some dinner away from grand center (Soulard) and hung out on the patio for a while. I got to bed at a reasonable time Friday night, but was up early for wood turning on Saturday.

Saturday we had a 5 hour wood turning class--our last regular session, plus an hour "break" (through which we turned), and a 2 hour private lesson. I did the private lesson so that I could learn to use deep hollowing tools, which required somewhat more supervision than normal, thus why I couldn't do it in a regular class.

It turned out to be relatively easy to do! The first few cuts were pretty scary as I had to get used to holding the tool, since it uses an arm brace and side handles for extra control. I also had to become accustomed to not being able to see what I'm doing. They call it "Blind Hollowing" for a good reason.

In the end, I now have a hollow form with a small opening at the top. It's roughly the size and shape of a quart mason jar. I'm pretty tickled over the whole process.

I don't have the setup to do more hollowing at home right now, but I may be looking to get it in the future. My aunt and uncle have asked me to make them urns, so I'd need the equipment if I were to do that.

After class we had lunch and a couple hours to rest before we headed out to Melinda's for Harrison's birthday. We missed the big party because of class, so we just hung out on the front porch with everyone for a few hours. We stopped at 11 mile house on the way home for dinner, and I was in bed by 10:00, Exhausted. I slept til 9, then was up puttering around the house until Brent got home in the afternoon. After lunch I was back to napping again. After some woodturning and dinner, and a little reading, I was in bed pretty early again, and slept fairly late today.

I have no idea what it is, but clearly I needed to do some serious sleeping. I'm feeling pretty good at least, now.

Ew

May. 16th, 2011 12:17 pm
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Something I really did not need to overhear in the elevator today: "...then I had a cup of coffee to grease the wheels..."

In other news, it's a glorious day in Minneapolis today.

And Found!

May. 12th, 2011 12:34 am
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Bubbles is home again! Brent heard meowing and rattling from the cage, which we had set right under our side balcony off the bedroom. We put her in the bathroom for initial isolation since she was pretty agitated after being caught.

As soon as she was out of the cage she was rubbing feet and asking to be petted (all while meowing very loudly). She was a silent kitty before, but I guess her big adventure taught her to make noise to get what she wants. For the first 45 minutes she was only quiet when I was petting or brushing her. She even made noises while eating.

She was full of stick-weed burrs. I just pulled out buckets and buckets from the yard so I'm not surprised. I got most of them out of her fur. She even let me brush her tail and belly. She has a small abrasion on her chin, and is skinnier than she was, but seems otherwise in good shape.

She'd like to be out of the bathroom, but the other cats have been rather agitated and she's still pretty upset, so I think we'll wait a bit before letting her out.

So nice to have our clowder back whole again.
zinniz: (Default)
Today's catch in the cat trap: Gray cat, one of the alley cats that we've already had spayed. She was mighty upset when I let her out this morning.

This afternoon I had an appointment with a financial planner to make some changes to an IRA that I've had since Infor bought out Workbrain, but that I haven't bothered with specifying the funds I want, so it was in a default plan. We got all that figured out, then they started questioning me about all the other things I should do, but haven't done.

Apparently I need a power of attorney to allow Brent access to any accounts that are in my name only, in case I was incapacitated in a hospital or something. And also a will, because without one, things (uh, like the house) don't automatically go to Brent--anyone in my family could claim them and make a mess of things in court. I had no idea. Not that I would expect such troubles from the family, but as the financial planner guy said, "people can get weird when money is involved". I also need to assess whether I have enough life insurance and disability insurance. Both things I rarely think about. Sigh.

In other financial news, we just had an appraiser come yesterday to prepare an appraisal for my attempt to refinance. I'm trying to switch to a 20 year loan (cut 5 years off the current loan) and get a nice low rate, which should all work out quite nicely if I can get a reasonable appraisal. It doesn't even have to appraise for what we purchased it at. I just need it to appraise at 160k or so. The appraiser loved the house, but then, most people who like old architecture do. She said it would take a couple days for her to finish. I hope she can find some good comps.

Last night was the end of the year for the AGO, so after a dinner and recital, several of the organists came over for drinks and snacks and socialization. Even the recitalist stopped by. It was very late when the last ones left.

And now, I will snuggle in bed with Lola. She's been very cuddly today, and she's currently curled up next to me, napping. What a sweetie.

Hopeful

May. 9th, 2011 09:36 am
zinniz: (Default)
Laura came over for dinner on Saturday evening, and we spent much of the evening chatting out on the back porch. Around 8:30 or so, a very vocal kitty showed up on our neighbor's back steps. We couldn't see the cat, so Brent ran and got the flashlight. Once we could spotlight her, we were sure it was Bubbles. We tried to nab her, but she's skittish and hates being cornered, so she ran a couple houses down. We decided to go the trapping route then. A little while later, just as Brent was coming back from getting some wet cat food at 7-11, Bubbles showed up in our yard. He put the food in the trap and she went in to eat it, but she didn't set off the trap. Brent scared her away when he tried to manually spring the trap.

Since then, we've set the trap twice (once each night). The first night we caught an orange tabby. The second night (last night), a baby raccoon.

It was such a relief to see the kitten puff and know she's not hurt and she hasn't gone far. I'm sure it will just be a matter of a couple days to nab her and get her back inside where she'll be safe and well fed.

In other news, I worked on the yard all afternoon on Saturday and all day yesterday. It's looking pretty good. I planted a ton of flowers, some strawberries, watermelon, and zucchini. I wanted to plant catnip but I didn't see any plants or seeds at the nursery we went to.

Brent got the free mulch from the park, and we've got it around all the plants now, in the south flowerbed, and also in the space under the tree where not much grows. Also, Brent planted some boxwoods out in the front yard to line the sidewalk. They're pretty cute.

In turning news, I started a really interesting off-center shell shape on Saturday and will finish it at home one day this week. Brent has some interesting shapes he's supposed to work on too (tadpole, i hear). We have two more classes in this session, then a private lesson after the last class for me to learn deep hollowing.

Today's a busy day. Later this morning some lady is coming to appraise the house for a re-finance. It doesn't need to even appraise at what we bought it for in order to get approved. I think the target value is somewhere around 150k. We'll see how that goes. There aren't a lot of comps in the area for houses like this. The only one for sale currently that is somewhat similar is across the street, where nothing has been updated or redecorated for 40 years at least. It's listed at 100k at the moment. A steal, actually, if anyone is shopping for a big old house to thoroughly redecorate.

This evening I'm going to some dinner/recital thing for the AGO. Then we're having a post-recital reception/party at our house for the organists. This is their last meeting of the season (they have summers off), so it seemed appropriate to have some kind of festivities.
zinniz: (Default)
I have dreams almost every night. I remember quite a lot of them in the early mornings when I first wake up. Sometimes I can even go back to sleep and continue the dream.

I'm really not sure what's going on in my head, but when I'm sleeping, to entertain itself, my brain very clearly loves to invent fantastical sci/fi type stories. I am constantly amazed by what things my mind comes up with.

Today's somehow involved an alien occupation. We weren't sure whether they were going to be friendly or unfriendly. I was hiding with some other people in my house, when we noticed that the aliens could fly by themselves (in a suit of some sort, which i can still picture from the dream, but can't really describe), and one just went past the window, above the house. At that point, we knew they couldn't see us, but started to wonder if they realized they could use heat sensors to find people, and what were they going to do with the people they found?

It was all quite thrilling. I really love how my mind chooses to entertain itself.

untitled.

May. 4th, 2011 10:06 am
zinniz: (Default)
Still no bubbles. I filled out a lost cat report at the humane society, but it's very unlikely anyone would take her there. She looks exactly like all the feral cats in the neighborhood (duh) and she does not take well to strangers, so she probably would hiss and hide. I can only hope she's one of the cats eating the food Brent's putting out, and that soon we will find her and bring her back in.

If not, well, I know she's had a good life for the past 6 months. That's more than she would have had if we hadn't caught her as a tiny kitten at the beginning of a very cold winter.

It's been a hard week to be stuck in Minneapolis.

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