Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An urgent SOS from Chocolate the Wundermutt

Whine whimper whine whine whine:

Aaaaarrooooooooohhhh! Ruff ruff whine whimper whimper!


Dear Animal Rescue Agency or anyone who will listen:
I am writing to you under the most dire of circumstances. Since joining my current family, I have only gained 20 pounds. My human refuses to heat my food in the microwave. I have to perform demeaning tricks like sitting and shaking paws before receiving my treats. I am allowed only two pillows when I sleep on the human's bed - imagine! When I recline on the couch after our daily 2-mile walk, there is only one pillow upon which I can rest my weary head! Please see photo below for proof of the bleak nature of my existence.
Whinefully yours,

Canine of leisure

Waiting for Ruben to capture her glory. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Oh, puh-LEEZE!!!

This British study by the University of Bristol found low growth hormone levels were linked to low IQ.

I'm 4'11" on a good day. I was a straight-A student from Day one, and I graduated at the top of my class from one of the most prestigious universities in Canada.

Who funded this study? Could it have been the makers of Injectable Human Growth Hormone?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Not that I've been knitting lately, but ..

turbo charged
You are "turbo" charged.
Fast moving and classy, you get things done with
power and grace. Your expensive tastes can be
deceiving, since what you really value is
quality and efficiency. As you're careening
around those corners in life, finishing a dozen
knitted objects each month, stop and smell the
roses. Don't miss the beauty of process!

What kind of knitting needles are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I am Gandalf

Hear me roar!! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Miniature Rose's Favourite Things

I know that she has used her tremendous and hard-earned power and wealth to create a better world, but sometimes I have to wonder what planet The Oprah actually inhabits. Case in point:

Oprah's Favorite Things

Who, besides The Oprah, could or would actually spend $1800 on a Phillip Stein Teslar Diamond watch?? Or $40 (plus overnight UPS shipping) for 15 frozen croissants - that's $2.67 per croissant and you still have to let the darn things rise for 9 hours then bake them. And Oprah, who are you trying to fool? You are looking very trim these days. Obviously, croissants aren't on your menu.

Without further ado, may I present an alternative to The Oprah List - for those of us who inhabit a little place I like to call Earth. Here is The Miniature Rose List, 2005 version.

The Yardworks 22" Poly Sleigh Shovel, $32.99 (CDN) at Canadian Tire. Save your back whilst dealing with the 18" lake effect snow dump. Also useful for hauling piles of leaves and grass clippings to the compost pile, and for giving children a ride around the yard.

The Columbia Bugaboo 3-in-1 coat, $150 at REI. Women of diminuitive stature, like Miniature Rose, sometimes luck out and find girl's Columbia coats at Campmor for ridiculously low prices. Warm and dry is always in style.

The Jumpstart System from Sam's Club. Pays for itself after only one boost when it's -40 with the wind chill. Oh no, I'm not joking.

Fleece pawprint polar fleece jacket and puppy watch from The Animal Rescue site. Twenty-eight bowls of food for animals living in sanctuaries/shelters are donated with the purchase of either of these items.

Our Endangered Values by Jimmy Carter. An excellent and thought-provoking book, available at bookstores and libraries everywhere.

Finally, for those who do not fear carbohydrates, Timbits from Tim Horton's. A pack of twenty costs a whopping $1.99 CDN. No rising or baking required, just a quick jaunt up to Gananoque. You've always got time for Tim Horton's!

Frigging lake effect snow, 15 inches overnight

Note (wheeze) the (gasp) perfectly (ouch) symmetrical (cough) snowbanks. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 25, 2005

Making Baby Jesus cry

We observed Buy Nothing Day today, thus avoiding the madness that is Black Friday.

Many people were so hell-bent to save a few bucks on crap they didn't need Christmas gifts for their loved ones that they lined up in the cold for hours.

As always, things got violent and ugly. Yeah, I know I should feel some compassion for an elderly lady who got knocked down in the melee at an electronics store. She could be my mom, blah blah blah. Well, my mom is smart enough to avoid stampedes. So, um, nope, I don't feel sorry for the stupid sheeple anyone who was injured today. Caveat emptor.

If you don't like the weather, just wait an hour ...

15:45, Friday afternoon. County Sheriff's department issues "no unnecessary driving" order.

Yeah, I'm glad we stayed home this weekend.

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Word of the day

Chutzpah: 1. From the Yiddish, meaning audacity, effrontery, cheekiness. Example: Murdering one's parents then begging the court for leniency on account of being an orphan.
2. Starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm after messing up the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in a way that could only be called spectacular.

The joys of lake effect snow ...

The doppler shows a band of lake effect snow hitting the Tug Hill Plateau ...

What the southern horizon looks like - note the dark clouds over the Tug Hill Plateau and the blue skies above us.

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Zen and the art of snow shovelling

Note the perfectly symmetrical snowbanks. Picture Bree Van de Kamp in the snow belt, and you've pretty much got me pegged.

Given the howling wind and blizzard-like conditions we experienced as I went to bed last night, I had anticipated a great deal more snow. Still, the 3 or 4 inches we now have makes the world look pretty and sparkly today.

Watching newcomers to the Fort Drum area deal with snow shovelling (and winter in general) is always a great source of amusement for me, smug smartass of a Canadian that I am. Here's my rant list of helpful hints for the snow-impaired:

1. Shovel early and shovel often! It is exponentially more difficult to shovel six inches of snow once, than to shovel three inches of snow twice.

2. Let your shovel do the work for you. That's why they're called snowSCRAPERs, not snowTHROWERS. Put shovel on pavement, start walking. You'll thank me later.

3. Invest in a shovel for each of your children. Start training them early, when they still think that shovelling is fun.

4. Invest in proper snow attire for your children. I recommend Columbia parkas and snowsuits, but anything warm and waterproof will suffice. Check Ebay and the thrift shop. Then, let them get out there and enjoy the white stuff. It's going to be a long winter, so make the most of it. Oh, and stock up on mittens and hats. These things invariably get lost in January. By then, the stores will no longer be stocking them. They have to make room for bathing suits and gardening gear, ya know. Don't say I didn't warn you.

5. The same goes for you grownups. Find some snowshoes or cross-country skis and GET. OUT. THERE.

6. For the love of all that is holy, clean the snow off your car before you drive. Better yet, clear all the worthless crap out of your garage and park your $30,000 SUV inside.

7. Complaining about the cold will not make it go away. Trust me, it will be oppressively hot here again in July.

8. My husband tells me that it has cooled down to 70 - 75 degrees in Baghdad, a welcome respite from the 130 F oven that it was when he first arrived. Just a small reality check, FYI.
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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Lake effect

Yup, there it is, drifting northward.

From The Weather Channel:





Note to self: every muscle will hurt tomorrow after shovelling out. Find ibuprofen now.

 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


A 105-lb woman won the annual Thanksgiving Invitational. Her prizewinning feat: devouring a 10 lb turkey in 12 minutes.

The prize: a roasting pan.

Do bulimics experience the turkey coma? The article didn't say.

As the season of conspicuous consumption begins ...

Marg Delahuntey, the Princess Warrior, has taken The Nature Challenge. How about you? Posted by Picasa

Eight going-on thirty

Looking very Alex P. Keaton-esque and entirely too comfortable in the new shirt and tie .. what have I done?? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Road trip: cancelled due to inclement weather

You don't have to say crippling lake effect snow twice to get me to stay at home this Thanksgiving! This weather guy's blog seems to concur.  Posted by Picasa

Crocodile tears

Read this entry with your best southern drawl now, you hear?

There are a million stories to be told in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And in the south, they just love a good story. This one needs no embellishment.

As the floodwaters rose, a family sought refuge on the second floor of their house in Pearlington, Mississippi. From time to time they glanced down the stairs into the detritus of their main floor, and saw that a veritable menagerie of animals had congregated there. There was even a deer.

After night fell, the family awoke to the screams of the deer. In morning light, they saw the cause of the fright - an alligator with a suspiciously large belly.

Yes, an alligator.

In. The. Living. Room.

Poppa shot that gator.

The end.

Now there's a story, y'all.

I want to draw your attention to a story that falls even further outside the realm of plausibility. After this story was posted on an MSNBC blog, with the picture to prove it, a veritable s--tstorm erupted in the blogosphere. The comments section was bombarded with accusations of cruelty to animals. It was said that killing the gator was just unnecessary, that the poor gator was just trying to survive, that the shooter was cowardly and trigger-happy.

Now, I get sad and a little nauseated this time of year when I see all the dead deer being hauled away from hunting camp, strapped on the trunks of cars or crammed into the backs of pickup trucks. I don't consider hunting to be a sport, and I get the heebidijeebies when I see the heads of animals mounted on walls. But I just don't have a problem with shooting a gator if it's in your living room in the middle of a hurricane!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ten years ago today

This morning, on my daily walk, I was musing that I measure my married life not in years, but in deployments. I remember most events of the past decade in terms of where my husband was at the time.

Today is the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord which set out to end the civil war in Bosnia. Shortly thereafter, my husband deployed to Bosnia as part of the first Implementation Force (IFOR). It was my first experience with a deployment, and I thought the sky was falling. (Insert rueful laugh here.) We were living in Vicenza, Italy at the time, and thanks to some immigration snafu's and the complexities of being a Canadian citizen living on an American base in Europe, I was unemployed. The fact that I had a valid Louisiana RN license was irrelevant - I couldn't even work at the Burger King. There are worse places to be unemployed than Italy, but let me remind you that the sky was falling! I struggled to find my new niche and felt very sorry for myself as I celebrated Christmas, New Year's, and our first anniversary alone and worried for my husband's safety.

The world is, of course, a very different place now. Bosnia remains peaceful, though poor. While I am moving towards resuscitating my nursing career, my days are so packed with volunteer work and the minutiae of managing the family's activities, that I wonder how I will find time for one of those job thingies. A six month peacekeeping tour in Bosnia would seem like a respite compared to the back-to-back-to-back year-long missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the holidays approach, there will be empty seats at many tables. Two thousand and ninety-six will never be filled again. Please do not forget these families, for whom the sky truly did fall.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Happy 88th Birthday, Senator Byrd!

And thank you for this speech.


Please forgive the recent silence. It's not that there hasn't been anything interesting going on (cough cough Dems growing a backbone, GOP pulling childish pranks) but I haven't found much about which to blog. But lo! And behold! I found this story in the Christian Science Monitor. Dover, MA is in the midst of a turkey war, and it has nothing to do with Ottomans. Or chesterfields for that matter.*

Here's the scoop:

As in many suburbs nationwide, where McMansions meet nature, a wild turkey war is simmering here. Some neighbors are not on speaking terms, torn by turkey pros and cons. Backpack-laden kindergartners struggle to catch school buses before territorial gobblers catch them; churchgoers, post-office patrons, and brawny construction workers are routinely held hostage in their cars by scolding toms; unsuspecting joggers are followed by trotting turkey shadows reminiscent of Jurassic Park raptors; rush-hour traffic can be stalled by bumper- pecking broods. More than once here on Centre Street, residents say, the state environmental authorities have deployed camouflaged SWAT teams that act a lot like FBI sting operations: Officers hide behind trees with net guns, hoping to subdue their suspects without igniting an animal rights backlash. (The ubiquitous turkeys never seem to show up on those days.)

When we moved to the Fort Drum area 8 years ago, I was fascinated by the wild turkeys who strutted around the fields. Mostly, I wondered what they tasted like. My curiosity remains unquenched because Gandalf ignores me when I instruct him to bring me a wild tom, and thinks he's fooling me by leaving field mice on the doorstep. But I digress.

In this particular suburb of Boston, wild turkeys have become a menace. Around these parts, I can't even get close enough to snap a decent picture.

*I've been a little scatterbrained of late (shut up James) hence the dearth of blog entries. For example, it took me a full week of listening to "One Little Slip" from the Chicken Little soundtrack to realize that the witty lyrics and perfectly arranged music were courtesy of Barenaked Ladies - which is only my most favourite band ever.

The mystery of Gandalf's genetic makeup deepens ...

When we adopted Chocolate the Wundermutt 3 years ago, we tried to crate-train her. All of the books said this was the golden ticket towards optimal canine behaviour. Given her abandonment issues, Chocolate wanted no part of this crate business. After a year and some successful car rides in the crate, Chocolate started to enjoy her little cave. Just as the books promised, Chocolate started sleeping in her crate with the door open.
But .. why does Gandalf, the beast of the NNY moors, like to sleep in there?

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Oh, the weather outside is frightful ...

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 14, 2005

Which Monty Python character are you?

: "You are the Minister of Silly Walks...Dare to be different!
You are the Minister of Silly Walks

What Monty Python Sketch Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla"

And now for something completely different - a newly discovered species of lemur has been named after John Cleese.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

If you could see the looks on their faces ..

Today's trip to Rosamund Gifford Zoo in Syracuse proved to be a little more ~ahem~ educational than I had anticipated.

I'll pause for a moment to allow you to absorb my meaning.

Yeah, that's exactly what I mean.
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Bill O'Reilly makes my head hurt. Life would be so much easier if he was consistent in his jack-ass routine. If he would just stick to being a blowhard and a bully who encouraged Al Qaeda to blow up San Francisco, he would eventually lose all corporate sponsorship and end up in a van by the river eating government cheese.

But noooooo .. he had to go and say something downright humane:

"(T)he issue this evening is helping the children of military people, who have been killed in the war on terror. So far, about 1,100 American children have lost a parent in Iraq, and hundreds of other kids have had parents killed in Afghanistan.

We believe the U.S. government should pay college education costs for those children. At a time when patriotic Americans are volunteering to protect their country against evil, the government should step up and look out for their kids.

So we're asking congressmen and senators to draft legislation and pass a bill providing college tuition to the children of slain military people. We owe it to those who have died in the struggle to help their kids. And "The Factor" urges our federal leaders to directly contact us if they believe that as well.

Remember, the 9/11 families received government assistance. So this is a fair and logical proposition. We also encourage you to contact your congresspeople and senators and urge them to back this proposed legislation.

John Cusack for President.

Because he is a witty genius, and because he has the stones to write something like this.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Remembrance Day - Veteran's Day

What is the proper salutation for this day? Yesterday, Shelagh Rogers ended her show on CBC Radio with "Happy Remembrance Day." That doesn't seem quite right, does it?

I struggle with the meaning of this day and the differences in the way it is observed on either side of the border. In Canada, the emphasis is placed on honouring the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who did not return from war. It is a somber day, marked by two minutes of silence at 11 AM, and the placing of wreaths at cenotaphs across the nation.

In the United States, Veteran's Day honours all who have served in the military, and Memorial Day is reserved for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. November 11th does not seem to carry the same gravitas south of the border, at least in the eyes of this wife of a veteran.

I was in Canada this morning, and stood in silent contemplation at 11 AM. Today, with bowed head and closed eyes, the concept of loss was no longer abstract. Now, I actually know someone who has been lost to war.

The tradional Canadian Remembrance Day service includes the reading of these lines:
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Rest in peace, Leon. You are not forgotten.

Doublespeak, anyone?

"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges." - George W. Bush, speaking at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania, Veteran's Day, 2005.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Garage doors in Ottawa are working again and the mysterious radio signal has disappeared.

No further comment.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Some recognition for Vicki Keith

As you will recall, Vicki Keith did completed a record-breaking 64-hour marathon swim a few months ago.
The accolades continue. She is mentioned in the current issue of Sports Illustrated. Funny, isn't it? A woman who can actually swim, in a swimsuit that will actually see water, is in Sports Illustrated. Will wonders never cease?
Check out Vicki Keith's fundraising efforts at Penguins Can Fly.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Wherein I reveal my paranoid tendencies and love of a good conspiracy theory

So, about six months ago, we bought a Sirius Satellite Radio. We enjoyed it, and all was well until about May or June. My husband was driving in a certain area on a certain military installation, and the radio stopped working. Period. Eventually, the kind folks at Sanyo sent us another radio, and all is back to normal. Chalk it up to strangeness, right?

One of my summer hobbies is to step out on the doorstep in the evening, and watch the bats flitting about. We have lots of trees, and there are usually lots of bats. This past summer, I saw a total of three bats. My contractor, a down-to-earth, organic kinda guy, has also noted the absence of bats this year. Bats, as my son will tell you in great detail, rely upon echolocation - sound waves in the air.

News stories about whales and dolphins usually catch my eye. There has been a preponderance of stories about aquatic mammal beachings, and some evidence of a causal relationship between Naval Sonar exercises and strange behaviour in whales.

See where I'm going with this?

Now, it appears that there is a mystery signal blocking Ottawa door devices. Garage doors, embassy gates, that kind of thing - all within a 25 mile radius - are refusing to operate.

Garage door openers operate on the 390 megaHertz band. So does the U.S. military's new state-of-the-art Land Mobile Radio System. And yes, there have been reports of garage door-opener failures around military bases in the U.S.

On the plus side - autumn usually brings cluster flies to my house. You guessed it. This year, there have been none. Coincidence?

If you'll excuse me, I need to make a new tinfoil hat.

The perch ... Posted by Picasa

When's it gonna be my turn to cut the grass? Posted by Picasa

Red sky at night Posted by Picasa

Red Sky at Morning

Taken at 0628 this morning Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Crazy lady with all the pets

I can't get my cats to deliver an opinion on this DogCat Radio business. Chocolate the wundermutt is keeping her thoughts to herself.

On the other hand, I am totally digging the music they're playing.

Shania Twain, Stevie Wonder, the Bee Gees, and Elvis - lots and lots of Elvis - what's not to love?

I'm not quite sure what that says about my mental status ...

Do Mine Eyes Deceive Me?

Did the Fox News website actually post this article, saying that "the military's attempts to hide the truth about Pat Tillman's death dishonors a true hero"?

The piece picks up steam as it goes along, making these strong accusations as it reaches its crescendo:

"So what’s going on here? Why would the Pentagon and Army brass cover up Tillman’s friendly fire death? The answer may be that the Pentagon had too much invested in Tillman to concede that its own mistakes led to his death. Tillman’s decision to eschew the life of a professional athlete for a tour in the Army was a public relations dream for the military, and they treated it as such. This despite the fact that Tillman specifically asked that the military not make a spectacle of him (Tillman shunned requests for fawning interviews and fluffy media profiles).

It would have been tough for the military to concede its own ineptitude caused the death of the war on terror’s poster soldier in any setting. But just days after Tillman’s death, the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. The military was in desperate need of some good news. Recycling Tillman’s selfless bravery put torture stories on the backburner for at least a news cycle or two."

Is Bill O'Reilly going to sing Kum-By-Ya tonight? Will Hannity start wearing tie-dyed shirts and grow out his hair?

Or is my sinus medication stronger than I thought?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What a heavenly sight!

Could this be the Saint who will lead us out of the desert?

Give 'em hell, Harry Reid (D-Nev) !!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Love this!

Over the years, a plethora of pets have joined our household. If it weren't for the rather small dimensions of our house, and the exhortation of our son that we have enough pets already!!!! we'd have a gaggle of greyhounds and/or a stampede of dachshunds, too. All in good time, all in good time!

We do show some restraint in our life with pets. We don't dress them up for Halloween or have pictures of them taken with Santa Claus. However, I think I've found a new indulgence for them:
DogCat Radio, The Radio Station All Pets Enjoy!

'Twas not this blogger

I see that I just had a whole slew of visitors from the domain, logging in from Fort Drum via Newzjunky. Hi there, welcome, would you like some coffee?

I have a hunch that they were looking for the authoress of the now-defunct Alpha Company xyz lockdown whatever whatever blog. Sorry, she is not me. I did have a chance to peruse that particular blog before it went dark. It was a rather interesting read, to say the least. That particular blogger was writing, in real time, about a particular episode of disciplinary action on an infantry company, how it impacted her family, and how she felt about it. The comments got rather incendiary, but that's par for the course when a commander makes a controversial decision. I've heard much worse in line at the commissary. The only difference is that the words were written, not spoken. One would hope that the commander who is willing to make tough calls (in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, of course) would also have a thick enough skin to deal with the fallout. Or a good supply of asbestos underwear.

It raises an interesting question. Is there a difference between venting while standing in line at the commissary, and venting on a blog? Assuming that there is no breach of operation security, if a blog documents "this is what I perceive to be happening and this is how I feel about it" .. what repercussions can there be? Is the blogger responsible for the comments left on her blog?