Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wishing Everyone a Safe and Warm Holiday!

The tree is decorated, the presents are wrapped, the food is laid in, and the family is on their way. It is Christmas Eve for certain!

Everyone is doing ok, and we'll be enjoying the company of family through the holiday as I hope all of you can do as well.

Our Christmas Eve tradition is to enjoy a "cheese and crackers" dinner, however it is more than just cheese and crackers. We always have sliced sausages, smoked kippers, wonderful fruit and many other finger-foods. It is much easier (to fix and clean up from) than trying to fix a full meal, and gives us time to sit around the tree and reminisce about Christmases gone by.

I will wish you all a very happy holiday, and a safe, prosperous and peaceful new year! Merry Christmas!

A Family Photo
(A first, all the kittehs in one photo!)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

If It Isn't One Thing...

Got Treelo to the vet this myself. ESM apparently caught a bit of a bug and spent half the night last night "driving the porcelain bus," if you catch my drift. Not fun at all. She was in no shape/mood this morning to do anything, let alone take a trip to the vet. So, I got elected.

Unfortunately, I did something to my left foot on Thursday night and have been hobbling around ever since. So, here I am, gimpy, trying to haul the carrier to and from the car and the vet. Must have been a sight, for sure! Luckily, it is my left foot, and my car is an automatic, so I could at least drive. Otherwise, no vet visit...which I'm sure would have made Treelo happy! *grin*

Anyway, after her examination, the vet says it's probably Treelo's asthma acting up along with an allergy of some kind, made worse by the dry air. So, they gave me a prescription for an antihistamine with a bronchial dilator. Hopefully that will help her with her cough. She had two bouts with it today after we got back. Poor thing!

We're still running one humidifier...the other one apparently bit it. It leaked all over the carpet, and ESM had to dry up a pretty big puddle. I am planning on taking the broken one in the shower tomorrow and filling it up to see where the leak is. Maybe I can fix it.

I also need to check my furnace filter. I put a good allergen filter in about a week ago, and I've been meaning to go pull it and see how it's doing. Treelo and I have both been suffering, so my guess is we're both allergic to the same things. Like father, like daughter, eh?

BTW, Hubbard is doing well with his medication and insulin. No more accidental needle pokes into humans to report, so we must be getting better! *grin* His appetite is beginning to return, which is good news as well.

Hopefully, no one ELSE will get sick before Christmas! *knock wood*

--Sundown, Out

Pretty, Pretty Princess

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When the cat has more prescriptions than I do...

Well, we had our vet visit for Hubbard today. He now officially takes more drugs than I do.

ESM and I got our training on how to give him his insulin shots, which went very well. We're both pretty confident we can take care of that without any problems. So, we now have a vial of insulin in the fridge, and a needle dispenser/disposal unit on top of the fridge.

We gave Hubbard his first shot tonight and he seems to be tolerating it ok. ESM was a little nervous at first, but she did just fine. We also started him on the steroid for the pancreatitis. We'll see how he does with that as well. The vet tells us it will increase his appetite, so we're going to feed him well for the next 30 days and see if we can put some of the two pounds he lost back on his bones!

Treelo is still having some trouble, but she has NEVER liked taking pills and trying to give her the Benadryl has been no exception. So, the vet suggested today that we start her on Lysine. Since we had a bottle of the powdered Lysine from when we were giving it to Hubbard, we put some in a little dish of tuna for her. We gave Hubbard some tuna as well before we gave him his insulin...and of course the rest of the Horde wanted some too! *grin* I can see our food bill being a bit crazy for a while!

We're basically prepared for the holiday. Almost all the shopping is done (most of it online) and the house is as decorated as it is going to get this year. For some reason we've been a little busy with other things. *grin* We have family coming for Christmas Eve and staying over for Christmas with us. That will be nice to have them here. And I'm looking forward to a few days off from work before my final big push on the one project I need to have done at the end of the year.

I'll post again after Treelo's vet visit on Saturday and give y'all an update on general kitteh health. Give all your loved ones a hug from us!

--Sundown, Out

Our Precious Boy, Hubbard

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Lot Has Happened...

First off, sorry about the delay. Things have been a little crazy, between kitteh health issues, the holidays, my job with two major projects due before the end of the year, ESM's school finals and a smattering of extended family drama thrown in for good measure.

Ok, first thing's first. Kitteh health issues. Everyone is still with us for now, so don't panic. But, we have had a bit of a set-back with Hubbard.

As you may recall, Hubbard is our senior citizen, being somewhere north of 14 years old. After everyone went home from Thanksgiving, the next weekend we had pretty much to ourselves and we sorta let the horde run loose. Well, several of them (including Treelo, who is not normally allowed upstairs) came up and spent time in the master bedroom, which is Hubbard's domain. He apparently didn't like all the attention, and proceeded to make a wet spot on the carpet next to his box...then again later in the bathroom on the rug. This is very out of character for our boy, so it got our attention.

We decided that it must have been him being upset that day, as he has not done it since. But, it did highlight another problem that had apparently been getting steadily worse. We noticed he was drinking a lot more water and using his box more. Not good. So, we quickly scheduled a vet visit.

They decided to run a "geriatric screen" of tests on him. They also recommended looking for pancreatitis as well. We agreed and they ran the tests. We got most of the results back the next day, and it confirmed one of our suspicions. Hubbard is diabetic. That explains the increased box use and increased water consumption. He also has pancreatitis. They are not sure if one causes the other, but they are likely related some way. He had also lost almost two pounds in the two and a half months since he had seen the vet last! That was the scariest thing to hear, for me.

So, he starts insulin shots on Thursday, after we get a little training on how to give them to him safely. I watched my mother and grandmother give her aging cat insulin many times, so the process doesn't worry me much. We'll be fine.

For the pancreatitis, they will start him on a low-dose steroid. This complicates the blood sugar equation a bit, but they tell us between getting the diabetes under control and the steroid, the pancreatitis should clear up just fine. Then all we have to worry about is getting the weight back on him! I'm sure his appetite will come back when he feels better.

Treelo is also having issues. She is either allergic to something in the new house, or her asthma is flaring up. She has been sneezing and coughing quite a bit lately. It's all clear liquid, so we didn't think is was a cold, nasal infection or something like that...and our vet didn't think so either. The vet told us to go buy straight, old Benadryl (with nothing included, just the diphenhydramine 25mg) and give her half a pill once a day. Was that an adventure!

We poked the half a pill down her, but typical of our princess, she wouldn't swallow. And, once she tasted that bitter pill, she began foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog! Holy cow, I didn't know one cat could emit that much foam from any orifice! We had to follow her around the house with a washcloth and a towel, cleaning up after her for 20 minutes! Unbelievable.

The vet suggested that we either coat the pill in butter, or get some empty gel-caps from the pharmacy and put the pill in one of them, then give it to her. We are going to try that this week sometime. We'll see how that goes.

They also suggested it might be aggravated by the dry air around here, so we started our two portable humidifiers on the main floor of the house as well. That did seem to help her, so we're hoping the Benadryl might also help. We're keeping a close eye on her too.

I promise to post more this week on the other dramas that are playing out, but for now just know that things are somewhat more under control and we're all ok. I'll keep you all up to date on Hubbard and Treelo's progress.

"Wait a minute. Huh? What?"

Monday, November 30, 2009

Turkey Day and Other Stuff

As you may recall from my last post, I was wondering aloud where my “Life” board game had went. Well, now I know.

My parents read my post and since they were coming to stay with us during Thanksgiving, they went through their stuff and brought me a whole stack of my games, including my 1979 version of Life! That was very nice of them. Thanks guys! It is nice to know parents do pay attention sometimes!

The holiday was the first time my parents had met the two new members of our horde. My folks were very pleased with our choices, and thought they were both very cute. Always glad to have parental approval on such things!

My mom even took on the arduous job of feeding the horde their wet food in the mornings while they were here. We appreciated it very much. However, I know she did it mostly out of self-defense. She tends to be an early riser, and the kittehs assume that whoever gets up first in the morning is automatically the food person. And they will bug the snot out of you until you feed them! So it was a choice of either learning to feed them, or listen to them howl until ESM woke up. My mom chose the former.

Our Thanksgiving meal was good, as always. ESM and I have this whole turkey-cooking-thing down. We indeed had nine for the meal, with my sister and her husband and some of my dad’s family. We had a great time, and there was much belt-loosening and inside-eyelid-examining afterwards so I can only assume everyone else enjoyed the food as well.

My folks stuck around for a few days afterwards to celebrate their wedding anniversary with us. We took my mom to her favorite Mexican food restaurant to celebrate (Tortilla Marissa’s). The food was awesome, as usual. My mom loves their salsa and their chile rellenos. She has tried rellenos all over the country, even down in the southwest where they live and she says none of them stack up to these. We ate so much that afterwards we decided to go window-shopping to walk off the food. It was then I remembered how much I hate shopping this time of year and why I do as much as I can online!

My folks are headed home and we are just about finished cleaning up from the holiday, so things around our house are returning to normal. Just in time to start thinking about doing it all again for Christmas. *grin*

Hope everyone out there had a good holiday as well!

--Sundown, Out

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Game Night a Success, But With a Casualty

We had our first game night in the new house last night, and it was a rousing success. We started small, it was just a couple of friends this time. But I think everyone had a good time. There were plenty of snacks, sugary and adult beverages, and pizza to keep us fueled and functioning.

We played "Life" of my favorites. But the version our friend brought is from the mid-nineties. In the early nineties, MB changed the game significantly, making it more "PC". I'm not a big fan of the new Life, I like the old rule set better. The old one has more "penalty" spaces, the stock market is a little more like gambling, and I am personally a fan of the convertables for cars rather than the more eighties minivans. I have a vintage late seventies copy of the game floating around, but could not find it after the move. I suspect it either ended up with my parents at their house, or is packed in some obscure box somewhere. I will have to find it. My ESM ended up being the Millionaire and winning. Good job sweetie!

After Life, we took a turn away from board games and played "Uno." One of our friends is an old hand at Uno, having played it a ton with his family growing up. Our other friend had only played Uno once, and that had been some time ago. ESM and I have played some. However, playing two player is much different, and much less fun, than playing four player. We decided to follow the rules exactly, since we had someone unfamiliar with the game. The rules in our version say to play until someone ends up with 500 points. That takes a LOOOOONG time if you're not hoarding Wild+4 cards to screw your friends with! We played for several hours and decided to call it after someone reached 350. Our friend who had not played Uno much, ended up winning by a 100 point margin!

After that we took a break and our friends asked about the plans for my home theater. So we began discussing that for a bit, and I went down in the basement with them to show them where we were at. As we were down there looking at the space, I opened a door we normally keep closed to one of the unfinished storage spaces. Of course when I did, I immediately had kittehs wanting to see in that room! So, I let them wander around in there for a bit while we were talking. When we finished, I had my friend help me empty the kittehs from the room and I shut the door.

Our friends then left, as it was getting late, and ESM and I headed up to bed. We got up this morning and headed down to feed "The Horde" their wet food. Normally as ESM is preparing it, she naturally draws quite a crowd of kittehs wanting their food. However, Rocky was mysteriously absent. I was upstairs in my office and I began to hear ESM calling for Rocky and not getting a response. This gets my attention!

So, I hot-footed it downstairs, and ESM says, with a touch of panic in her voice, that she can't find Rocky, but she can hear him! We listen for a second, and I hear him cry, faintly. Y'all can see where this is going, can't ya? I went tearing down the stairs to the basement and found him, locked in the storage space! How he got in there without me seeing him, I have no clue! But the space is a bit dim, and he is perfectly camouflaged in dark spaces. He must have slipped past me when I wasn't looking.

I am now feeling less than an inch tall, apologizing profusely to Rocky and ESM about locking him up accidentally. Luckily, he is none the worse for wear. He immediately came and ate his wet food, ran back downstairs and went to the litter box (shows you his priorities!) and then had a nice long drink. Sorry Rock-star!

We decided we'll open the door and leave it open for now, so that doesn't happen again. The sump for the basement is in that room though, and I really didn't want them getting in there. So, we have some kitteh-proofing to do first. Stay tuned!

--Sundown, Out

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Horde!

It's late and I'm tired, but thought I should give everyone a quick update.

"The Horde" is fine as frog's hair. Leo and Rocky are continuing to settle in, and they have figured out that morning is the time for wet food. The cacophony that comes from the kitchen as ESM is getting the food on the plates is almost more than we can stand at times! ESM and I have learned to feed them as a team, to keep the "feeding frenzy" from getting out of hand!

Treelo is beginning to understand that these two are here to stay. There is still a power-struggle going on, but the two boys are learning that Treelo's "bark is worse than her bite." *groan*

We did have our first "injury" on Monday. Came home from work and found that Treelo had a big scratch across her nose. Not bleeding, but I'm sure it hurt! If it helps her along the path towards peace though...

ESM and I are getting ready for a "Board Game Night" on Saturday with a few friends of ours, then having my family here for Thanksgiving. Looks like we'll have nine for dinner this year. In a weird, masochistic way, I'm looking forward to it! *grin*

Have a good night!
--Sundown, Out

Friday, November 13, 2009

First Night Out

Well, "da boyz" (and Miss Treelo) survived their first night out in the house. No scratches, no blood and most importantly, nothing broken or knocked over! *grin* So, they have successfully transitioned into the main part of the house permanently. That's good, as we need our guest room back here soon! We have family coming for the Thanksgiving holiday.

So now that Leo and Rocky can stay out at night, we can go through and get the guest room clean. Not that they "messed it up" mind you, but with all the kitty hair, litter kicked out of boxes and that general "kitteh funk" generated when two cats share a small room for three weeks, it needs to be freshened up a bit. "A bit, yes, a bit..."

Treelo and Leo are beginning to work their relationship out. There is still some hissing once in a while, but they have touched noses without incident several times as well. So that seems to be going ok. Now, Treelo and Rocky? That's a different story. She still growls at him anytime he gets near her. We think it is because he is still a bit of a kitten, and tends to go wildly careening around the house at times. I think it worries her some. What to do, what to do?

Well, we decided it may be time to put the bells back on Rocky and Leo's collars. The collars we bought for them when they came to join our merry band had little bells on them. We took them off, as we know from experience that will cause Hubbard to run the other direction if he hears a kitteh bell coming. We wanted Hubbard to meet them a little more "up close and personal." But, now that they are downstairs more (except for the occasional jailbreak where Leo goes over the gate), Hubbard is not the big concern now. However, if they have their bells on, Treelo will know when they're coming and maybe they can't sneak up on her (which I've seen them do, repeatedly).

Does Hubbard get along with them ok? He tends to leave them alone, and they are beginning to understand he should be left alone. So, everyone is more often ignoring one another. Since that equals peace, quiet and no bloodshed, we're happy.

ESM snapped this pic earlier this week of Hubbard wondering who that is eating his kibble.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Finally, A New Update

Sorry about the delay folks. Two new kittehs is a little more work than I think we expected. Not that we're worrying about such things, and they certainly aren't going anywhere!

First, about their names. They came from the shelter with Leo and Rocky. But, we have expanded on those names, coming up with full names.

Leo is short for Leopold Gustav, in honor of another handsome orange kitteh who got a home through Hubble Space Paws recently. Head over to her blog ( and search for'll find him.

Rocky is short for Roquefort Rococo. Does he like French art and elegant room design? Don't know really. He is rather elegant and has a naturally flowing design...but Rococo came more from his name just rolling off the tongue as "Rocky Rococo." Roquefort? Does he like cheese? Not so much, but having a cat named after a cheese just seemed to fit. *grin*

Rocky also has many aliases. Rocky Ricardo (a favorite of my wife), The Rock, Rockstar, Rock and Roll, and Rocky Gibraltar (referenced in Looney Toons, I believe...can't find it on the intertubes though).

Rocky is the most "cat-like" cat we've had. He likes us, but only has to come see what we're doing occasionally. He can go off on his own and do his "thing" and he is happy as a clam. Leo, on the other hand, is like most large cats we've had in that he wants to be where you are. He has to be close by or he gets upset. And TALK! OMG, there are times when he just won't shut up! *grin*

Leo and Rocky are getting settled in nicely, though. They already got along where they came from, and that has not changed one bit being here. They have been good company for one another during their "unfortunate incarceration" in the guest room. I have seen them even wrestle several times with one another...never aggressively, obviously just playing. That is an oddity around here, you understand. We're not used to that kind of stuff!

Treelo is not happy about these new interlopers in her territory. But, with a liberal application of wet food and four bags of kitty treats, she is slowly adjusting. We can already see she is following them around, seemingly wondering, "WHAT are they up to NOW?!?" That was the way she was with Ziggy. And that is what helps keep her in shape, which is another reason we adopted da boyz.

They have both had recent FIV/FeLV tests which were negative, but we will be testing them again in 60 days, just to make sure. None of us wants a repeat of what happened to our poor Mr. Ziggy.

They both got a clean bill of health from the vet, other than Leo having conjunctivitis or "pink-eye." With the application of some eye ointment for five days and an antibiotic vaccination, he is recovering nicely thank-you-very-much!

They are both enjoying being out in the house most of the day, but we still return them to the guest room at night. We still don't trust Treelo yet. Maybe this weekend we'll let them stay loose one night and see how they get along.

What does Hubbard think of all this? He is typically grumpy, and there has been much paw-waving and hissing, when he thinks they are around. But, since he has trouble seeing, no blows have landed yet. He seems to be trying to tell these two whipper-snappers who's in charge...but not succeeding. Mostly, he just sleeps on the bed or in the window, trying to ignore them as much as possible.

Below is a collage of photos I put together for you guys. Enjoy and I will attempt to get more posts up soon!

-- Sundown, Out

New Kittehs Will Keep You Busy!

Boy, ever since the arrival of our two new fur-babies, we have been BUSY! I'm at work, so I'll give a quick update and get you more details and pictures tonight.

The two boys are doing well, although Leo had conjunctivitis in one eye we had to clear up. But even that is doing much better after the application of some eye ointment for a while. And no one else caught it, thank goodness.

The introductions are going about as well as we can expect given Treelo's known bad attitude towards interlopers in her space! The boys are spending days out and about in the house now, and only getting closed in their room at night. So far, so good. No bloodshed, yet.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Escape! Escape!

Well, there was a little excitement around here last night! Leo tried to introduce himself to Treelo a little earlier than planned!

I decided our two new kittehs had been cooped up long enough, so I hatched a plan to let them out so they could explore most of the upstairs area of the house. Given the configuration of the hallway I could block off the kitty gate at the top of the stairs and put Hubbard in the master bedroom and close the door. So, I set up a seven-foot tall "wall" of moving boxes to block off the hallway and figured that would be ok for their outing. Wrong-o, moose-breath!

It took Leo less than ten minutes to figure out how to circumvent the box blockade, and he then very quickly and quietly jumped over the 48-inch high gate without me seeing him. I was watching Rocky at the time, and the only thing that worked in my favor is I heard an ever-so-slight rattle from the gate as Leo cleared it. So, I hurriedly put Rocky back in the guest room, and went after Leo.

After getting downstairs, I could see neither Leo or Treelo. So, I started calling. I walked over and turned on the light in the living room, and here is Treelo under the coffee table, hunched down, ears back, and she starts growling. I followed her gaze and found Leo sitting in the dining room, next to the sliding glass door that goes out to our sunroom. Oh, joy.

So I quickly grabbed Leo and threw him over my shoulder. He immediately dug all his front claws into my skin and began hissing angrily. I then hot-footed it through the living room, avoiding stepping on Treelo, who is by now following me trying to get to Leo. I managed to make it up the stairs and through the gate with Leo clamped to my shoulder, hissing all the way.

As I opened the door to the guest room, Rocky makes a break for it. I threw Leo on the bed by the door and just managed to catch Rocky by the tail. After another short struggle, I had them both back in the guest room.

Then, it was time for damage control. Checked in on Hubbard...he's sleeping on the bed...good. Went downstairs and started looking for Treelo. After calling her a couple of times, she very cautiously looks around the corner of the couch in the family room, and on seeing me, comes trotting over wanting loves and reassurance. Ok, that could have been worse. So, I sit down with her on the couch for a while and pet her until she falls asleep. Then I head upstairs to see how the boys are fairing. They both are very happy to see me, and both want loves and skritches just like normal. Whew! Looks like I avoided a nasty "incident" this time.

So, I went downstairs and poured myself a double scotch. *grin*

I'm now working on a better way to block off the gate, so they can't get downstairs anymore until formal introductions are in order!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Well, Now We've Gone And Done It!

I would like to introduce to the world, the two newest members of our clan.

Meet Rocky...

And Leo...

I apologize for the crude pictures, but they were all I could get tonight. I will have some better ones as they begin to settle down and become calmer.

We met these two on Saturday and they just seemed like a natural pair. They were hanging out in a big box pet store, waiting for a home. They actually both came from a no-kill sanctuary in the area, and were just sorta "on display" to get more exposure for adoption. Well, looks like it worked!

To be fair, we did look at other shelters in the area, including the one where we adopted Ziggy, but none of the other kittehs "spoke" to our hearts like these two did. I think we made the right choice. Time, however, will be the ultimate judge.

They are quarantined in our guest suite for now, with all the comforts of home. We also have the Feliway running and have added some Rescue Remedy to the water. The combination of the two seemed to help ease the transition to the new family for Ziggy, as well as the move for Hubbard and Treelo. I see no reason it will not work for these two. And both seem to like a pinch of the 'nip, so we have used it liberally in their space. *grin*

My ESM is going to visit her parents this weekend, so we are planning on a vet visit early next week for FIV tests, and general check-ups. They both seem healthy, despite being in kennels for the last week or so. We'll keep a close eye out for signs of "shelter croup" or any other upper respiratory problems...but we've seen none so far.

I'll post more as we learn more about these two. For now, stop by the comments section and say your hello's to them!

-- Sundown, Out

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Garage Near Completion, and New Basement Plans

One more car to go! I just got one half of our garage cleared out so I can put one car away. I still have some more to do with the other side, but most of the boxes and stuff there is going down in the basement next weekend. My ESM is going to be gone then to visit her parents for a few days, and I plan to use the time to move stuff around and get the garage together for the winter.

The house is coming along pretty well. With the garage in shape for winter, now all we have left is the bedrooms, my office and ESM's art studio. *grin* Oh, and the basement! Can't forget the basement!

Speaking of which, I have a couple of ideas together for the basement remodel. Nothing is firm yet, but the demo is going to happen as soon as the weather gets cold and we have no yard work to do. Should only take a weekend or two to get the old stuff out. Anyone that wants to help, and get free passes to the home theater I'm planning to build, speak up! *lol*

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Short Geek Diversion

This weekend, we took a break from working on the house, and went to one of my all-time favorite annual events here on the Eastern Slope of Colorado. The three-day high-end audio extravaganza known as Rocky Mountain Audiofest.

This is the largest consumer audio show in the country, and one of the best if you believe all the press this show has gotten over the last six years. They basically take over a high-rise hotel in the Denver Technological Center, clear the furniture out of over 180 guest rooms, and the exhibitors then set up all their gear in the rooms. This allows anyone who pays the ticket price ($10 per person for one day, but multi-day passes are available) to come through and hear some audio systems that most of us will never have the money to afford!

I have gone every year since the show came into being in 2003. And I always have a good time! And yes, my Everlasting SoulMate goes with me occasionally. She likes music, but tends to spend more time in the audio recordings room, pawing through vinyl and CDs.

One of the things I really enjoy about the show, besides looking at all the gear, is you can bring your own music and most exhibitors will allow you to listen to a song or two on their gear. There is something about hearing a pristine vintage recording of Tito Puente’s “El Cayuco” coming out of one set of speakers and amps that together cost more than a Cadillac CTS-V. *evil grin*

Now, I know some of you are thinking, “How come they charge so much? Is the gear really that much better?” In a word, yes. However, there is a caveat to that. You must be one of those people whose ears work differently than most to even think about paying that much for audio gear. Accomplished musicians know what I’m talking about. Most of us can listen to, and appreciate, the music we like. But, some folks can process much more information contained within the music and hear small nuances that others cannot. This show is full of this kind of gear that those folks would appreciate.

Now, before some of you all get huffy with me, I’m NOT an audio-snob! I’m not one of these boorish, elitist, nose-in-the-air snobs who walk around the show with a bundle of old jazz vinyl under their arms (“because digital music is sooo over-rated”), who won’t listen to anything without tubes in it (“Oh, digital electronics take so much away from the music!”), and would never even look at something that costs less than my car (“If it isn’t expensive, how can it be any good?”).

I do appreciate the value of good vinyl LPs. I have them. I listen to them. There are certain vintage recordings that will NEVER be released in a digital format, so the only way to hear them in on vinyl. My dad has a whole stack of those in his collection. But, I also understand that digital music is very, very good these days, and the convenience and overall ruggedness compared to an LP is much higher.

I am a geek audiophile. I appreciate not only the musical qualities and audio nuances of esoteric gear, but the technological innovation going on as well. I like to see a piece of equipment doing things in a new way, something that no one had thought of before. And, I appreciate the design aesthetics of the gear too. Follow the link above to the RMAF site and check out the pictures to see what I’m on about.

I have a somewhat eclectic taste in music. I like a LOT of different stuff. I have most everything in my personal collection, from classical symphonic and jazz music to oldies from the fifties to some of the hardest heavy-metal/thrash around. And I listen to it all, depending on my mood. Witness my taste by what I took to the show in my CD holder:

  • Michael Aggson – Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (A good friend of mine who writes and records his own music, and is an accomplished guitarist)
  • Herb Alpert – Definitive Hits
  • Andy McKee – Dreamcatcher
  • Andy McKee & Don Ross – The Thing That Came From Somewhere
  • SouND MiNDS – Jazzorros (An uncle of mine played in this band as the keyboardist)
  • Men of Steel – Live: Men of Steel (Steel-string acoustic guitar music by four of the best players, Dan Crary, Don Ross, Beppe Gambetta and Tony McManus)
  • Chuck Mangione – 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection
  • Various Artists – Windham Hill Records Sampler ’82
  • Phil Keaggy – Acoustic Sketches
  • Shaw-Blades – Influence (Tommy Shaw from Styx and Jack Blades from Night Ranger)

Obviously, I don’t take really wild stuff to the show. Some people’s tastes are not as broad as mine, and Metallica or Green Day just aren’t heard very much at the show. You tend to hear a lot of jazz, new-age, some classical, and just a smattering of rock.

There are always new companies at the show, and I enjoy seeing what is new this year. However, I also make sure to stop by a few rooms of those who have some of my favorite gear. YG Acoustics has made appearances at the last several shows, and believe me, if I could afford it I would have a pair of their floor-standing Anat Reference II’s. They have some of the cleanest, most accurate sound I have ever heard. Awesome.

Ok, another short geek moment. I stopped by the room of Obad Imports. They are a small company in Canada selling, amongst other things, KingRex class-T amplifiers. These are some of the most interesting devices to come around in a long time. They are an inexpensive (by high-end standards) digital amp, that sounds for all the world like a $10,000+ single-ended valve tube amp. The music produced is wonderful! I have been reading about them online, but this was my first chance to listen to one of them with my own ears. I will be getting one soon!

This year, my time at the show was a little shorter than normal. The hotel, with almost 200 rooms full of amps and audio gear, had a major power failure, complete with fire alarm and a full evacuation of the building! That’s the first time I’ve seen that at the show! *grin*

Anyhow, I did have a good time as always, came home with a few new SACDs to listen to and a whole bag full of swag. If you get a chance in early October, and love audio gear like I do…make plans to come out to Colorado and attend RMAF. You definitely won’t be disappointed. And, who knows, maybe you’ll see me there!

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

My one remaining grandparent, my dad’s dad, just turned ninety. That’s right, 9-0! And he’s still in pretty good shape for being almost a century old. His mind isn’t as sharp as it once was, and he isn’t quite so fast on has feet anymore, but he’s still the loveable grandfather I remember from my youth. He actually had his party the day after our housewarming (see the earlier post). We went and had a good time with the whole extended family and a lot of his friends who are still around.

My aunt, who has dedicated a good portion of her life to doing genealogy for our family, had several poster-sized boards made up for the birthday party with pictures chronicling his life all the way back to when he was a boy. What wonderful images and memories! We asked for copies of a few, and I’ll post them when I get them.

Here are the men of our family, posing outside my house during our housewarming party. That’s me, my dad, my grandfather and my one uncle (left to right).

Happy Birthday Grandpa Bert!

Time Flies When You're Unpacking

Wow, it’s been three weeks since I posted! Where did the time go?

Well, I’ll tell you! *grin*

We spent the first two weeks preparing for our open-house/housewarming party. We decided even before we moved that we wanted to do an open-house to show off the new digs, and we wanted to do it very soon after we moved. Now I know what you’re saying, “That sounds like a lot of work for just after moving!” Well, it is. But, I had an ulterior motive. If we had to get the main living areas ready for a party, they would get finished! See, without the proper motivation, it would have taken us six months in our busy lives to get it done. This way, it only took one!

The party itself was, unfortunately, not quite as well-attended as we first thought it would be. One of Everlasting SoulMate’s friends had their family come down with flu. We’re not sure if it was piggy flu, but they were in NO shape to come. And we had a couple of other families that didn’t make it at the last-minute for other reasons. So, we’ve had plenty of leftovers to eat over the last week.

Follow the link here to a few shots from before and during the party.

This last week, we’ve been cleaning up from the party *grin* and taking a well-deserved rest. Before the party, we painted several rooms (including the kitchen, which was a job and a half!), did a ton of electrical work to replace switches and outlets and make sure the downstairs was up to snuff, finished hanging pictures and decorating the main living area, did yard-work and outside cleaning, etc. But, the place really looks like it’s coming together!

Oh, BTW, the jelly-making hasn’t happened yet. ESM got the juice made, but then the party prep started in earnest and she hasn’t gotten back to it. We have plenty more grapes to work with though.

Now begins the work on the garage (so we can get our cars under cover before the snow flies) and upstairs in the bedrooms, studio and office.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

As If We Needed ANOTHER Project!

My sister did a post on her blog on Sept. 3rd that coincidentally went right along with something the ESM and I have been discussing in earnest. Preserving food.

I have a lot of the same memories of my grandmother that my sister talks about. She was a pretty fair cook, but she cooked for a farm family. I would think you would become good either in self-defense or just by sheer volume/repetition. But along with her cooking, she could preserve and can most anything you could come up with, and dehydrating was also no mystery to this woman. Most of my memories of the farm are intertwined with the wonderful smells that came from that kitchen most every day.

I remember our family always had a freezer and pantry full of the canned goods that came from the farm. Strawberry jam and raspberry jelly, green beans and such. The one that stands out for me was her wonderful tomato juice! That was such a messy process, but yielded such scrumptious results! Chili made with my grandmother's home-canned tomato

Fast-forward about thirty years and I'm about to embark on an endeavor that would make my grandmother proud. In self-defense, we're going to make homemade grape jelly. Why, you ask? Because I have a whole Nipsey Russell* of grapes growing on the arbor in my new backyard!

They are table grapes we were told by the original owner, and there are both red and green seedless varieties. There is no way we can eat them all before they get overripe, as there is probably a good twenty to thirty pounds of them! So we decided jelly or juice would be the best thing to do. After a little game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock to decide, jelly won (Spock vaporizes rock, BTW). But that means we need a canning outfit to help us put up our jelly.

I have been looking at several kits online, and I think I've narrowed it to this one. It has all the stuff (as I remember), seems reasonably priced and will work with our flat-top stove. I think we may look a couple of other places locally before ordering, but this gives me a good idea what we should pay for a similar kit, or for the individual pieces. It's been a long time since I've even seen this done, but between ESM and myself, I am confident we will prevail. *grin* We'll keep y'all posted on how well we do.

So wish us luck in our journey, and if you have advice, I would welcome it.

--Sundown, Out

* - So, you didn't know Nipsey Russell was a measure of volume, huh? Neither did I, until a good friend of mine used that phrase in my presence many years ago. I liked it so much I immediately added it to my lexicon and continue to use it to this day. It is roughly equivalent to a "metric buttload."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kitchen Before and After

As promised, here is a Picasa album with before and after shots of the kitchen.

The first two are before, and the second two are after. There are several things you can't really see from the photos that we've been working on.

The water line going to the fridge needed to be redone, as it was too short to allow the fridge to roll out far enough to clean behind it. So, I redid all the copper tubing all the way into the basement to the shut-off valve. And, I replaced the water filter in the fridge. I don't think it had ever been changed since the fridge was new! Yuck!

Since we had all the outlet and switch covers off to paint, I decided to go ahead and replace all the old, funky light switches and outlets with new Decora-style units. I also changed out one standard outlet next to the sink with a GFCI one. I got lucky and the outlet on the other side of the sink was inline with the GFCI, so with one unit I am protecting both outlets. Very nice.

As my Everlasting SoulMate and I were working on the electrical paraphenalia swaps, I did pull a bonehead move. And, I'm big enough to admit it! I was careful and shut off all the power to the outlets and lights, but forgot the one for the disposal. And, unfortunately, ESM got into that switch and found out the hard way. It was totally an accident! And yes, I did take her out for ice cream afterwards to say I'm sorry! Sorry honey!

Anyway, other than some light decorating (pictures, knick-knacks, etc.) the kitchen is done for now. And, we're pretty happy with it! Now, on to other projects! *grin*

--Sundown, Out

Moved in? Yes. Finished? No.

Wow, a week has gone by. I'm not sure where it went. Let's see...

I went back to work after two months off. Ok, to be fair, it only FELT like two months. It was, in reality, only five days. In going back to work, I had to start getting used to my new commute. The rental house was only seven minutes from where I worked, now I'm about thirty minutes away. I can hear you asking all the way from here...why did you move farther away?!? Well, where we were living was "too expensive." We could not afford any of the houses there, and still continue to get by on my salary. So, we had to move to a part of town that we could afford, and that meant a longer commute. But, as you know from things I have said, we got a bigger house out of the deal, and my wife has a somewhat shorter drive to school as well. So, I'll deal with the longer commute. In a weird way, the more time spent on the road gives me more time to decompress and "shift gears" from working-mode to husband-mode.

Speaking of school, my Everlasting SoulMate started back to school in earnest this week. She goes three days a week now, and is taking evening classes. I don't see her until after 9pm on school-nights. So, she's been spending her days working on unpacking and organizing the kitchen. She's about got it together, and we just finished painting the walls this weekend. It looks pretty good. When we get it mostly back together after our painting-party, I'll post some before and after shots.

I've been working on getting the technological side of the move taken care of. We got our satellite TV installed the day after we moved in, but I just got our Internet connection back on Wednesday. So, I have been busy getting the network, servers and our workstations back up and running. As you can see, I was successful, but not without a few interesting moments. I'll do a geek post in the near future about the network legerdemain I had to do.

The kittehs are pretty much settled in. Treelo generally hangs out close by when we're home, but I never know where I will find her when I come home. She has several spots she likes to sleep in. Hubbard is enjoying the upstairs. ESM posted a letter from Hubbard on her blog the other day, detailing his experiences in the new house. Definitely check it out here.

We have a new nickname for the house. You've all heard of "Happy Acres" I'm sure. Well, this is "Half-Vast Acres". Say it fast and without a pause on the hyphen, and you'll get the full meaning.

As we've been living here, we are slowly discovering all the crap that was done in a rather half-hearted fashion. Now, I'm certainly not the end-all and be-all of home renovation and maintenance, but I am pretty sure you should shim up and level kitchen cabinets as you put them in, and not try to fix anything that doesn't fit by filling the gaps with caulk, and certainly not use an interior door in an exterior door location. That's just a small sample of things we have found.

To be fair, this is not a huge slam on the gentleman who lived here before us. He was a pretty nice guy, but he had lived here a long time and was used to things being the way they were. A new set of eyes will generally see those things that have been ignored, and I'm going to try my best to fix most of them. They won't all get done tomorrow, certainly, but most will be fixed in time.

I just realized I had not posted any shots of the new house, so here's one of the front. And, now that all things tech are working again, I hope to post more often.

Later Days,
--Sundown , Out.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Still Not Done

Well, we're ALMOST out of the rental house! >:-P

After several major trips across town today, and packing both our cars to the rafters, only the tops of my earlobes are not hurting from all the packing and moving...and we're still not quite there. We brought the last load of the day over about two hours ago. I spent the rest of the time getting our fridge here clean so we could load in all the food we brought over. I also tried to get our washer and dryer hooked up, but the dryer hose I bought is too short by about two feet. Luckily, we both have enough clothes for tomorrow, so I can go rectify the dryer hose calamity on my way home tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, I have to go BACK to the rental house one last time to make sure the cleaning people did a good job, and to pick up the last few things we couldn't get today. I still need to bring over the lawnmower, Everlasting SoulMate's gardening tools and the propane tank for my BBQ. Once I do that, we should be all done and out. Finally. And if I EVER have to pack another moving box,!!!

The kittehs seem to have survived the day without incident, even without us being around much. Treelo seems much more calm today, although she is still a bit jumpy and gets startled easily. I'm sure she'll become more comfortable with each passing day. Tomorrow is a big day for her, as we plan to move her litter box, food and water out of my office upstairs and down into the main part of the house, and let Hubbard start to have the run of the second floor. We'll see how that works out. Also, I plan to move back into the master bedroom tomorrow night as well. I'm tired of sleeping apart from my ESM.

I'm sorry, I wish I had some pics to post, but we've been SO BUSY today that I did not get a chance to take any. Will get some up as soon as I have the energy to do so.

I'm off to peel my shoes from my feet (remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon anyone?), eat several Advil and hit the sack. Nighty-night.