Friday, March 30, 2007

Un Lun Dun

I just finished reading Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. It's a sci-fi/fantasy book for young readers. I would recommend it for ages 9 & up, because there is some imagery in the book that may be frightening for younger children. Also, there are several "big" words in the book that may be difficult. There is a bit of British slang used, but Mr. Mieville has been thoughtful enough to provide a small glossary at the back of the book. Also, he has kept the chapters short, most are only 4-5 pages long, so it is easy for even a slow reader to get through a chapter quickly. Below is a brief synopsis from

"It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too–including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book.

When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last. But then things begin to go shockingly wrong."

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very imaginative and the illustrations are wonderful! Mr. Mieville is a very talented writer, with a voice that reminds me a lot of Neil Gaiman. Apparently this is his first novel for younger readers, however he does have several other novels out that I will definitely be keeping an eye out for.

I have to say that, since the break through of the Harry Potter series, the quality of novels for the young has skyrocketed. I find myself enjoying these books far more than most of the adult novels I have read. These books seem more original & imaginative, without all the sexual tension/hangups that can cause books aimed at older audiences to falter. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for good love scenes... just not obligatory love scenes. Not every protagonist needs a love interest.

Overall I would give this book 4 out of 5. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have. I am definitely giving this one to my niece.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Insurance Battle

Today I had my first (of many, I'm sure) talk with Blue Cross. Apparently the referral I had was a "global office visit" referral and did not cover the operation, even though it was performed by that doctor. They said I need to call Dr. Randolph's office and have them submit a request for authorization. Ok.

So I call there and am told that, because the operation was performed at the hospital & not "in office", I need to contact surgery scheduling at the hospital & have them do it. I did find out from the lady at the office that I wasn't supposed to get a separate referral, they (meaning surgery scheduling) were supposed to submit said request prior to my operation. So, not my fault. Ok.

Call surgery scheduling. They are going to "try and get the surgery retroactively approved" but need me to call my primary care physician and have them issue a surgery referral. I told them that Blue Cross said I didn't need to do that. But, whatever.

So, tomorrow I have to call my pcp and have them do a retroactive referral and then call the hospital billing dept. and let them know what is going on. Somehow I just don't see this being cleared up anytime soon. (sigh)

On the bright side, I came home to find such loveliness blooming in my backyard...

Also... Honey & I are working on setting up my own website (since I already own the domain). I have set up a blog at wordpress to get a general idea of how I want it to work with multiple pages. Please, take a look and let me know what you think. What aspects do you like/dislike from my blogger site and which aspects do you like/dislike from wordpress. I'd really appreciate the feedback!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stripes & Strife

I want to thank those who commented on my striping dilemma. I really appreciate your input. Unfortunately, I had reached the tipping point on the blanket before I had received any responses and decided to forge ahead with the stripe, reasoning that I could always rip it out if I don't like it. Below is my progress so far, with the borders laid on top to give a hint of what the final product will look like. The measurements are such that there would be 3 such stripes in the end (4 sections of purple).

Please let me know what you think, however I am leaving the final decision to Joanne (after all, it is for her little bun).

As for the strife... I came home to find a $5,000 bill from the hospital for my surgery. Blue Cross, in their infinite wisdom, decided to only cover $200 stating that I had not received a referral from my Primary Care Physician prior to my operation. I BLOODY WELL DID! Now I get to spend the next few months (at least) fighting with them to pay for the damn operation. What is it with the health care system in this country? Even when you jump through all the hoops, they still try to screw you! GRRRRRR

Generational Icon, Or How Do You Like Your Fish Heads

Ok. I need you all to settle a debate between my hubby and I. This morning on the way to work, somehow, the song Fish Heads by Barnes & Barnes (which included Billy Mummy from Lost In Space) came up in conversation. My honey thinks that this song is a "generational icon" for those of us born in the mid60s-mid70s. I disagree and contend that, although it is a pervasive novelty song, most people born in that era probably don't even know it.

So, this is my question to you. Were you previously aware of this song, Fish Heads, and if so would you consider it an iconic song?

I blame this debate on NPR. If they weren't in the middle of fund drive I could have been listening to the news!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Dark Chocolate

Yet another study is out touting the health benefits of dark chocolate!

I love it when they tell me eating chocolate is good for me! :)

A Little Peek

Ok. So there hasn't been any knitting content in a while. As I said previously, I have been mainly knitting for Joanne's bun and didn't want to spoil the surprise. I'm not going to show the F.O.'s, but I will show you what I'm working on now... mainly because I want some feedback.

This is a baby blanket. SURPRISE! What you see is the bottom border (the multicolor strip) and the body (the purplely bit). The border will be on the sides & top as well, and the discerning eye will notice the letters A, B, & C faintly appearing in reverse stockingette stitch. Here is my question. Should I continue the body as a solid color, or should I add narrow stripes of the variegated yarn? I'm so torn! I need help!! Opine people, opine!

Oh, and apparently the cats feel they have been neglected on my blog.
I'm clearly more handsome than the dog, worship me!

Addendum: The first trailer is up for the movie Stardust, which is based on a Neil Gaiman story! I am really excited!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pet Food Recall Aftermath

First off, let me just say that Corrina is fine. Now I can relate my story without worrying anyone! :)

This morning I awoke to not one, but two piles of vomit on the floor (one of which I stepped in, bleck!). They were obviously from the dog. Not good. She didn't seem lethargic, which was a good sign, and she ate her breakfast fine. Still, I was concerned. I called the vet and, even though she was fully booked, she wanted me to bring Corrina in. The dog's demeanor was that of a healthy pup, but sometimes they don't want you to know they are in pain, so better to be safe than sorry. Dr. Rhode (who is the most awesome vet ever!) had me bring in a couple pouches of Corrina's old food and ran blood & urine tests on the pup. She said it was probably that the puppy ate something that didn't agree with her, but she was glad I brought her in just be safe. And she is fine, as I stated earlier. Dr. Rhode said that she is extremely healthy. Thank goodness! Now I can obsess about something else! ;)

Now, onto the Recall news. As you may have heard they have identified the substance that caused the deaths as aminopterin, which is a chemotherapy drug that is also used as a rat poison in other countries, but not the US. Apparently it was used as an abortion drug at one time as well. This drug is not even in current use as a cancer treatment, only in research! According to the news reports, they have no idea how it found it's way into the food, however they are NOT launching a criminal investigation! WHAT?! Why the hell not?! How did this substance, that is basically outlawed in the US except for research, find it's way into 2 separate food processing plants?!

Your government at work, folks!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Much Ado About Puppy

After hearing about the problems my dear Joanne (nobody messes with my Joanne!) has been having with Blogger I decided I would give wordpress a try. After all, you can have your own domain name & separate pages attached to your blog. Cool... Well, after 2 days of fussing with it and still being unhappy/frustrated with wordpress I decided not to switch after all... they won't even let you change the colors on the template or modify the html! And all the cool stuff comes at a cost. So, for now, I'm sticking with blogger. (Sorry Joanne, I hope you figure the commenting thing out!) I did end up purchasing a domain, which now means I have to figure out what do with it... (sigh)

In puppy news, I decided to give the whole "cooking" thing a try. She had her first home cooked meal this morning...
steak, peas & redskin potato

Ms. Corrina is now eating better than we are! This definitely gives me peace of mind and the cost ends up being about the same... probably less in the long run.

I will leave you with a bit of a puppy romp. This is her at the dog park this past weekend. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2007


I found this site thanks to Dani. Very cool & amazingly accurate!

Let me know if you try it!

Pet Food Recall

So by now I'm sure you've all heard about the massive pet food recall by Menu Foods, which includes wet food under Eukanuba, Iams and Nutro brands. We have been feeding Corrina the Nutro Natural Choice pouches for at least 6 months, with the odd Eukanuba & Iams pouch thrown in for variety. Needless to say I am fairly wigged! We went through the cupboards and don't have any of the recalled products, but who knows how many of the suspect packages we may have fed her unknowingly? These things have been on the shelves since December at the places where we shop. I threw out any that were manufactured around the same date (we had a few that were made the next day or the day before), but now I don't feel comfortable feeding ANY of them to her.

Am I over-reacting? I just don't have any confidence in the manufacturers anymore. Are they not taking the precautions they should because it's "just dog & cat " food? Here I thought I was being a good puppy momma by spending the extra 10-20 cents a pouch to get brands that are supposedly more nutritious... would I have been better off with Alpo?

I am really upset about this. We don't have children, may never be able to have children, and these animals are our babies!

I'm seriously considering making her food myself from now on. I found a couple of good articles online about it. I will have to discuss it with my vet. (sigh)

As if life isn't stressful enough!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Knit, Knit, Knitty

Last night we hit Borders because honey was in need of a new book. Whilst there I wandered over to the magazine section. I picked up the spring Interweave Knits and the March issue of the British knitting magazine Simply Knitting.

I'm not sure I like the new layout of Interweave Knits, seems a lot like Vogues layout to me, but there are several really cute patterns in this one. I particularly like Merry Maiden's Dress by Gryphon Perkins

and the Ribs & Lace Tank by Jodi Green.

I picked up the Simply Knitting mag specifically for the Farmyard Frolics by Alan Dart.

This issue has patterns for the horse, cow & sheep. Looking at the pictures it seems that I will have to get the next issue for the pig, duck, & chick patterns.. well worth it though, too too cute!

Btw- you may have noticed the little mp3 player widget in the upper right corner of the page. There are several songs you can play by some of my favorite artist. The list is still growing (it takes awhile to upload the files) and I haven't yet figured out how to get it to "shuffle" the songs. Please, give me some feedback! Let me know if you like it, like the songs, have suggestions... :)

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Limerick

In honor of St. Patricks Day, I thought a limerick was in order. This one was written by a classmate of Kris' back in elementary school and it just too cute.

There once was a fat little guniea pig,
Who was sad that he wasn't a skinny pig,
He tried to reduce,
By living on juice,
And now he's a regular mini-pig.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sunny & 70!

That was yesterday. 73 actually. Gorgeous! To take full advantage of the weather, I took Corrina to the dog park after work. It was packed! There must have been 20-25 dogs there! Needless to day, she had a wonderful time and came home absolutely filthy! Kris will be bathing her tonight!

As a consequence of this beautiful weather, my poor plants are prematurely budding:

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This premature warming is wreaking havoc on the poor things. Alas, they will be dead by morning, as we are supposed to get snow overnight. I have to say, I can't remember when we've had such a mild winter & I've lived here my whole life!

In music news, I've been listening to The Essex Green lately. Honey loaded them on my ipod, cause he thought I'd like them. He was right. The female vocalist reminds me of early 10,000 Maniacs era Natalie Merchant, especially on the first track "This Isn't Farm Life". I'm really digging them. Check out Don't Know Why (You Stay) from their latest album Cannibal Sea. Catchy, ain't it!

Thanks for the suggestions on the use of my beautiful Manos yarn. I think I may go with the "My So Called Scarf" pattern that Ingrid suggested. Very purty!

Ok, now I must have myself a little rant. Has anyone else been following the firing scandal in the justice department? I swear I don't know how much more of this people are going to stand before they impeach this administration! For pete's sake, they impeached Clinton for lying about having sex! These idiots have lead us into a war under false pretenses, are sanctioning torture, and have suspended habeas corpus! The rampant cronyism & incompetence are disgusting! (puts soap box away... for now)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Man Oh Manos

Last weekend Kris was in New York & Connecticut doing sound for Gandalf Murphy. Apparently, the little town he was staying in had a yarn shop. So my dear hubby, the sweet man that he is, decided to browse their selection to see if there was anything special he could bring me. He decided on this:

Anyone have a suggestion on what to make with 2 skeins of Manos?

So, while Kris was off buying me yarn, I spent Saturday afternoon with my sister and my niece. We had a lovely lunch, I let my sister fill her ipod from our music hd, and then Autumn stayed with me while Dawn went off to bowling. We rented a movie, and about 45 min in this happened:

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Poor thing woke up just in time to go home. :)

Other than that, the weekend was pretty uneventful. We had warm weather on Saturday, which turned the back yard into a pond. Corrina loved it!

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Of course, when she came in she needed a good cleaning. Thankfully Windle was more than happy to help out...

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Thankfully she didn't notice this...

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Poor thing has no idea how close it came to being squirrel tar tar!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Oh the books I've read!

I haven't done a meme in a while. I saw this one (may have done it before, who knows) and thought it looked interesting. So, here it is:

Look at the list of (100) books below.
Bold the ones you've read.
Italicize the ones you want to read.
leave blank the ones that you aren't interested in.
Movies don't count.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25 . Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones' Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

23 of 100 read, not too bad. And only 1 (Brave New World) was read for a class! Still haven't read any Dickens though, will have to remedy that soon.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sock Invaders!

The new issue of Knitty is up! I totally have to make these:

I can just hear the atari sound effects. :)

I've actually gotten a fair bit of knitting done recently.. finished stuff & everything, but I don't want to show it yet cause it's baby stuff for Joanne and I want her to be somewhat surprised when she gets it!

Not much else is going on with me. Honey has been rather busy lately, running off every weekend to do sound for Gandalf Murphy And The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams! I am so happy for him. He really, really, really enjoys working with these guys, and they are all so sweet! Not only is their music wonderful, but they even have their own kick-ass brand of coffee!

That's about it here. There have been no more squirrel casualties... let's hope it stays that way! :)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Beware the Sheep!

Wow.. just.. wow...

Monday, March 05, 2007


The first signs of spring are appearing here in frosty Ypsilanti.

A few days ago I noticed little green hosta shoots beginning to peak out of the soil. I've been hearing more and more birds tweeting in the trees. And today, I saw the first open Dairy Queen! It is official! SPRING!

Of course, the temp is supposed to get down to 5 below tonight. But that's just a technicality! ;)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

We Have A Wiggy Factor of 10!

There are some events that bring home the jarring realization that your sweet, adorable, loving little fluffballs are in fact animals who still have their predatory instincts.

With the cats, it was the first time I found bits of a mouse (not even half a mouse) laying in the middle of the carpet and 4 very satisfied looking pussy cats.

Well, last night I had this moment with Corrina.

Yesterday I let her out to do her business and have a romp in the yard. About 5 min later I hear her barking. Not her usual "Look at the THING!" bark, but a more aggressive, territorial "Get out of my yard or this will happen to you" kinda bark. I looked outside and there was a squirrel in the tree, about halfway down the trunk. Too high for her to reach. I left her to it. She is after all a dog, and they love to bark & chase squirrels.

I let her in a little bit later and there were no signs of the squirrel. I assumed the squirrel had climbed higher in the tree, or jumped to our neighbors yard, and didn't think anything more of it.

The rest of the day pasted uneventfully. She was doing her little kid routine, wanting to go out & then come back in every 5-10 min.

Around 10:30pm I let her out for her bedtime potty. When I went to let her back in 10 min later, I received a serious case of the wiggies! My sweet, loving, gentle baby had in fact killed the squirrel... and then brought it to me! EEK! She dropped it on the porch and I let her inside. We went to bed. She promptly jumped up & lay down in my spot and was looking pitiful. She probably didn't understand why I was wigged... and I was too wigged to properly snuggle with the dog... I mean, she murdered a squirrel!

Ok. So, here we are this morning. I wake up resigned to the fact that I am living with 5 cold-blooded killers (at least of rodents) and let my baby outside for her morning pee. I brought a garbage bag with me to scoop up the corpse. When I bent over, I got my first good look at the squirrel. It looked normal.. except for the head, which Corrina had tore the skin & fur from... she ripped off the squirrel's FACE! DUDE! (shiver)

I think I need a lay-down.

Squirrel Enemy #1