Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gummy Kitty: Cordelia Cat has a Rough Month

Cords had a rough couple weeks in October, which necessitated two trips to the vet, which, as far is she is concerned, is two trips too many.  Her least favorite thing to do is anything relating to her crate, which means that any vet trip is a nightmare for me too.  And last winter, after she tore up my entire left arm, and Mum's hand, trying to get her in the crate from my parents' for the trip back to Philly, I told her that she was never going anywhere ever again.
Unless it was to the vet.

It was a Saturday evening, and she started gross-drooling.  I don't want to get into details about this, let's just leave it at gross-drooling.  Leaving nasty, uncharacteristic slobbers all over the place, and not grooming as throughly as she usually does.  I do know her teeth are all messed up: she was in a hoard (well over 350 cat roomies) and has all sorts of issues now (very small, FIV, scared of everything real cats enjoy, bad teeth) plus I think she needs glasses and that she's a lefty.  So Monday morning I call the vet and we schedule a check up for the very next day.  

I shove her in the crate and we head out.  She complains the entire trip to the vet, and the entire time we sat in the waiting room.  Last time we went to the vet, Cords attempted to crawl up the wall of the exam room, and ended up suctioning herself to the floor.  The vet was reluctant to pry her up, so she just did the exam and vaccinations on the floor.  So this time the vet opens Cords file and says, "Has her temperament changed since last fall?  No?  Okay, we'd like to give her a tranquilizer so that we can do a proper thorough exam."  Certainly!  Dope that kitty up!

The verdict: Cordie has a number of foul teeth that need to be removed.  Her blood test comes back all well, so we're set to get the offending chompers extracted.  

Everyone at work kept asking, how many teeth?  I didn't ask.  And it didn't really matter.  Like I'd let her keep nasty teeth in her mouth, when they are clearly sore and she's mouth breathing foul stinky breath into my face at night and leaving gross-drool all over my apartment?  

A week after the initial appointment, I shoved a hungry kitty into the crate and dropped her off early at the vet.  I'd be able to pick up my dopey kitty at the end of the work day.  She was dopey, but not like the dogs would be, all knock-kneed and wobbly.  She kept wandering around the apartment wide-eyed like she'd never seen it before.  Like, "Omg!  Is that a red pillow?  A blue blanket?  Madness!"  

How many teeth had to come out?  Seven.  SEVEN!  And since she'd already been lacking teeth when she moved in, she only has one fang left (on the bottom left) and no teeth at all on the top!  Thankfully, this has not affected her eating habits at all.

Everyone at work did a simultaneous awwww/lol when I explained how Cordie is now Gummy Kitty. She also inspired the chalk pumpkin up in the staff room.  No idea who the artist is...  there are a couple suspects.
(On a side note, we have such a big number of people sharing the same tiny staff room, purges are a regular event.) 

Friday, December 14, 2012


My friend and coworker Lauren was getting married in early October, so Our Mutual Workplace threw her a wedding shower!  Party Planner Stephanie declared that, due to Lauren's appreciation for and skillful appropriate of its fashions, the theme would be Mad Men.  Excellent - as I had long-ago (right after she got engaged) promised Lauren to make some epic jell-o molds for her wedding shower.

To aid in this endeavor, I had my trusty Jell-O cookbook, procured from the Jell-O Museum!

Even though it would have been period-accurate, I decided to avoid the more sinister savory, mysteriously opaque Jell-os.  I wanted to make things that people would willingly eat, without fear or the necessity of a Triple Dog Dare.

All these Jell-O Molds have fancy names, but I can't remember them.  It's December now, I made these suckers in early December, my head is full of other random things now.

Black cherry jell-o, maraschino cherries, pineapple.  
Interesting fact: you have to use canned pineapple in jell-o.  The fresh stuff has an enzyme or something present that prevents the gelatin from setting.
Orange jell-o, orange juice, melted vanilla ice cream.  
This one was declared the best by all present.  It tasted like a creamsicle.
Raspberry jell-o, raspberries, champagne, chambord liqueur.  
It's a Mad Men party, you've got to have at least one boozy jell-o...
In the foreground, raspberry jell-o, raspberries, canned peaches, Greek yogurt.
This is the same lovely jell-o that I made for Marion's going away party.

Not pictured is a huge boozy jell-o that was actually so boozy that it didn't properly retain it's shape.  In the photograph above, it's the sad orange-ish mound in the upper right.  Peach and champagne.
Interesting fact: three cups of champagne in a six cup jell-o mold means that your jell-o will not set properly, no matter how much you try to convince it to...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

West Nile: This is Apparently Where You Get It

Phyllis and I wanted to chill out after our last day working, decompressing a bit before she had to catch her flight home.  I had poked around the internet, and since we had such a nice time touring the Huntsville Botanical Garden, I hoped to find something similar in Jackson.

This was more difficult, but I ended up finding a little garden, the former grounds of a 19th-century mansion.
We told our university clients that we would be garden-visiting, and they were all, "Don't.  You'll get the West Nile.  It's here now.  Did you know that a baby died from it?"

Me saying, "Oh yes, we've had West Nile in Pennsylvania for aaaaaages.  I'm not worried, I don't know anyone who has had it," had absolutely no effect on them.  We would willfully go, get West Nile, and then die just like that baby.

The garden was little and pretty, but jam-packed full of standing water and mosquitoes.  I thought Mississippians knew about mosquitoes... so why all the standing water?  Shouldn't they know better?

Those mosquitoes were everywhere, and I got a zillion bites.  Even still I wasn't too concerned about getting West Nile.  Liang and Dara came to Philly the day I arrived back, for our Regularly Scheduled Roomie Weekend (of Eating).  And I kept telling them that I had West Nile, that I could feel it, but that it got better.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Back to Jackson

So, I was back again to Jackson, Mississippi, at the end of the summer.  Downtown Jackson, with wonderful fifties shopfronts, is still generally a crumbling mess and (from what the locals said) not overly safe.

The hotel was fabulous and beautiful, but observe the downtown outside of my hotel window.  All of those shops are closed, and the second building from the left, the entire roof has collapsed.
My assistant Phyllis from the Huntsville, Alabama, trip was able to come with me to Jackson as well, which was fantastic.  Not only calm and level-headed, she was also ready to do some Mississippi food-exploring!

First stop: the Mayflower Cafe.  Used as a location for some scene in "The Help" but also Jackson's longest running diner.  We got huge plates full of red snapper, recommended as the best local speciality by the waitress, which was fab.  Brockway folks - it reminded me so much of JJs, back in the day when everyone in town would go for the Friday fish specials.
Beat down after the first day, we ended up having dinner in the hotel restaurant with one of my coworkers who was in town.  (We actually shouldn't have been there at the same time, but our client's mistake resulted in our schedules improperly overlapping.)

Final dinner out: Phyllis and I drove out of the downtown to the busier (and less crumbly) northeast section of Jackson, to a new joint called Julip.  You guys: if you're ever in Jackson, get yourself to Julip.

Phyllis' choice: fried chicken on waffles.
Shrimp and Grits.  No kidding, this may have been the best thing I've ever eaten.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Worst Airport Ever

Atlanta.  Nothing about this place is good. 
The lights, the muzak, the inefficient seating (why all the footrests?), the unavoidable constantly-running tvs which resulted in me being fairly convinced that I had actually contracted the flesh-eating bacteria, the veggie lo mein that actually resembled an unnatural spaghette bolognese (the only thing Asian about that mess was the name), the lack of Starbucks or any other coffee/tea shop, and the fact that you have to walk half-way down the terminals (ten minutes) before you hit the bank of screens that tell you where your flight is leaving from.

It can be depressing if you're doing lots of travel to the Deep South, as Atlanta is the major midway point for everything in and out of the region.  However, the Charlotte (NC) airport is also a possible connecting point, and I highly recommend it.  Clean and bright, no tvs, multiple speedy Starbucks, and a respectable sushi bar.

(Please note: I'm not a Starbucks person, as I'm not a coffee drinker.  But Starbucks is reliable in that no matter where you are, you know exactly what you're going to end up with when you purchase something.  As per what you purchase, I recommend an Earle Grey tea with added vanilla syrup and cream.  They might be momentarily confused, but it'll always work out.  They'll put the vanilla in, and you add the cream yourself.  Tasty!)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Huntsville Airport

These are the advertisements in the Huntsville airport, which really speak to the industry in the area and the types of people that generally pass through.  No high-end fashion nonsense here.

These escalators brought to you by Boeing!

This is by far my favorite ad.  It's so Team America, with it's missile-taloned screaming eagle.  Not even pretending to be anything but what it is.  Glorious.

Fifty years of support to the Warfighter?  Good job guys!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Huntsville Botanical Garden

If for some reason you find yourself in Huntsville, Alabama, rest assured.  There is ample non-deep fried foodstuff available due to the large Seventh-Day Adventist population and in addition to the awesome Space and Rocket Center, there is a large and well-maintained botanical garden.
I was returning to Huntsville for work again, this time with an assistant from another southern university.  We met at the airport (we were carpooling during the visit) and if she seemed cool, I hoped to convince her to come with me to visit the garden.  Happily, little convincing was needed, and she turned out to be the perfect assistant!
This was exactly what was needed after hours of airports (Atlanta airport - I still hate you.)
There are a large number of more formal didactic gardens which are themed, like the Tea Garden (containing plants and herbs commonly found is teas) and the Shakespeare Garden (including the relevant quotes on little plaques next to the various plants).

There is also a butterfly house and a large children's garden, making this a second good stop if you have kiddos and you're in town to check out the Rockets (I'm like Tourism Huntsville or something, but it's true.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Solar Queen

One of the most wonderful things about visiting Canada this summer is that this was Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee.  As you may or may not know, Canada is a commonwealth nation, and the Queen is the head of state.  Ultimately, it could be said that it was her fault that I had to walk 40 minutes in knee-high snow to get to work every morning, for months, when I lived there.  And then forty minutes back home at the end of the day.  But not really uphill...  (See: Manifestation! and More Manifestation!)

Anyway, Jubilee means Jubilee Swag.  I scored a commemorative mug at the Scottish & Irish Store around the corner from the ThinkTank.  And this gem from Chapters, the big chain bookstore in Canada.

You guys!  It's a solar powered QEII!  She has a little solar cell in her handbag, which powers her perpetually waving hand!  She is sitting next to my bench at the lab now, right on a sunny windowsill, where she is perpetually waving at me.
(This is not my picture: I found it on The Google.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

J'ai trait une vache! Or, Ottawa!

Ages ago, when my friend Canada Justine (girlfriend of former roomie Canada Steve) was in Philly for a conference, we started chatting about one of our mutual favorite (Canadian) musicians, and how a new record was out, how lives shows were so awesome, etc.  In the course of that, I said something along the lines of, "If he's playing at Bluesfest, I'm coming up to go to the show with you."

Of course, the list of musicians playing Bluesfest pops up, and guess who is playing the main stage a couple days after the early July holidays?  City and Colour.  So I start looking for airplane tickets...

Luckily for me, something intriguing popped up at work, which didn't necessarily require a visit to Ottawa, but which certainly was helped by a visit to Ottawa.  In short, some art showed up and I had questions about the artist's materials and techniques.  The artist was Canadian and was represented in all the major Canadian museums.  The National Gallery of Canada had some written references on the artist, and a couple speedy emails to Supervisors Greg's wife, the Lovely Anne, and I was set to visit the conservation labs at the Library and Archives Canada.  

So my visit was justified!  I had to do some research, close my Canadian bank account (like Mitt Romney, I too had an overseas bank account - but that's where the resemblence ends), and go to an awesome show at a massive outdoor venue with a friend!  Yay Canada!

First stop: the library at the National Gallery.  I was a little confused how to get into the library as a regular patron: as an intern, we had a clever little back door we could use.  And we were allowed to wander directly down into the compact shelving to browse.  But it all worked out!
How delightful.  Stuck to the back of the paper towel dispenser in the bathroom off the stair-ramp at the Gallery.  People: when you visit the Gallery, the bathroom to go to is the one off the stair-ramp, right at the middle.  There is never a line and it's always tidy.
The old roomies only had green tea.  Since I require stronger stuff in order to function, I hiked it down to the Loblaws to pick up some Tetley.  Note: now in Canada the British Blend has become Tetley BOLD.  It's a nouvelle allure.  Canada's a Commonwealth Nation after all.  Colonies are out, as it British Blend.  BOLD is in.
Even though the States have long since thrown off the Yoke of the Oppressor, our strong Tetley continues to be called British Blend.  This is nonsense: we should have Tetley BOLD south of the 49th parallel as well!

Anyway, the art research went even better than hoped-for.  And the concert was fabulous.  It was perfect weather for an outdoor show.
We sang along with Dallas (which is how Justine refers to the singer/songwriter of City and Colour, like they're besties).

My flip flop broke on the way out afterwards, so I had to ride the bus home looking like that drunk girl, even though I wasn't remotely drunk.  I ended up taking both off and walking barefoot back from the bus stop to the International House of Pancakes.  Which is something I would contemplate only in Canada, as it is so very clean there!  

Justine and I ate crumpets back at the house and recapped the show to a friendly but ultimately uninterested Canada Steve.  Oh well!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Airport Literature, Billings, Montana

Yes, I did flip through it.  Yes, its as horrid as it looks.  I wanted to buy it sooooo bad... and then gift it to Mark.

Driving through Montana

Out the window of my rental car, heading from Yellowstone back to Billings, Montana.

Speed limit 75 mph!  Which means people will happily go, like, 90 mph!  Only in a state with long long flat roads can this fly: Pennsylvanian roads are far too hilly and twisty for a speed limit like that...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Animals Other than Buffles

I saw plenty of animals aside from buffles, but not nearly as many.

This is, Wikipedia tells me, a Lady Elk.
There's a little white canine-ish guy in the mid-ground.  I think he was a coyote.  He was pretty far away, but one wandered much closer by while I was at some boiling mud bogs.  I was just too slow when it came to operating the photographing machine at that moment...
And heading out of Yellowstone, this time through the North Gate, back into Montana.