December 2003 Archives

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Our visit with Kevin was great. Even shy girl Thirteen was gave him a warm welcome; she came over to say hello a couple of times, didn't hide, and even let him pet her on the head (she normally doesn't like being touched on the head). He came over around 6:30 last night, and we tried to go to the Q Shack, but they were closed! I joked that he and I are doomed to drive all over the Triangle looking for barbecue, every time we get together. But this time we managed to find barbecue on our second stop: the Barbecue Joint on Weaver Dairy Road. We all enjoyed the fresh pickles, although the cornbread was a bit disappointing, totally flat as if they had forgotten the leavening.

After dinner we went back home where Kevin had gifts! He gave us a Magnetic Fields CD, a set of beautiful buttons shaped like the faces of 7 Japanese gods of good fortune, and most marvelously, a Cosmic Encounter set! I haven't played Cosmic Encounter in years, but I have fond memories of many evenings spent on the floor in the common room of my old dorm, playing with my friends Ray, Kira and Rob. The funny thing is, I don't remember playing very often with Kevin, but he said that it was his set, lent to Rob, that we used to play with! We didn't have enough people for a decent game of Cosmic Encounter, so Kevin taught us to play canasta. Which was great fun, and I'm not just saying that because I came close to winning. Apparently it can be played with two regular decks of cards, but he had a special teaching deck with the points and special abilities written on each card.

I wish we could have spent the entire day with Kevin, but he had to get back to New York so he ended up leaving around ten this morning. We made tentative plans to get together while we're on Staten Island in the first week of January. And Kevin left with one of the best send-off lines I've ever heard: "You have to come to Yonkers and meet the rats!" I would love to see their rats, but I'm not sure that we could make it up to Yonkers. Because we're up there to see Georg's family, we only have one day to go into the city. And it would be a pretty long haul to get all the way out to Yonkers. Especially since we have dinner reservations that night in Manhatten, which means we'll be using public transportation. I'm hoping that we'll be able to see the three of them in a central location.

Anyway, it was really nice to see Kevin again, even if it wasn't for very long. We talked about all kinds of things, including (of course) movies. And Kevin added several things (of course) to my "must see" list. Later in the day Georg had to do the world music show. The guy who was supposed to be on after him came down with the flu, so I took the 4-6 show so that Georg wouldn't be stuck there all day. We were planning to go out right after, so I did my show in my party clothes. I felt a little silly dressing up for the radio, but at least I got a decent shot of The Hat on the webcam.

I enjoyed the show, but I have to say I'm glad I don't have another one until after we get back from NY. I was on the air 4 times last week. That's a lot of radio! Especially since the playlist isn't changing much right now, what with the holiday and all. I think if I had to do another show right away, I'd get really sick of it.

After the show we went to Rio Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse in Raleigh. (Lisa was supposed to join us, but unfortunately she wasn't feeling well. We'll just have to go again with her!) It's a veritable festival of meat: no menu, just a bunch of waiters walking around with meat on swords. You have a little card on the table, and if your card is turned to green, the waiters come over and tell you what kind of meat they have. If you want it, they carve off a chunk for you right at the table. It was great! The only problem was that we were a little overwhelmed by the experience, accepted too much meat too quickly, and both ended up feeling a little overfull. I don't think we ate too much; it's just that we ate too fast. Next time (oh yes, there will be a next time) we're going to be better about taking our time, and not feeling like we have to take everything that comes by the table.

After the dinner we headed over to a fun party at Jason's. I spent most of the evening in the kitchen chatting with Alicia and Gina, who I've known since college but hadn't seen in about seven years. It was really fun to talk to her again. And it turned out that Gina and Alicia knew each other through an online knitting community, but didn't know they had friends in common. Alicia introduced her to the glories of the "Dirty Girl Scout," a bright green (and apparently quite strong) mixed drink. Georg and I did not partake, as he was drinking beer and I was driving.

Now we're watching tonight's Iron Chef on the DVR. Actually, I just looked over and Georg is sleeping. That's usually my job, to fall asleep during Iron Chef.

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Georg and I had a great Christmas. We did the latin show on Christmas Eve. Well to be honest, Georg did all the work. He knows so much more about the music than I do. We ended up playing a lot of rock en español, plus some fun latin christmas music that Sylvia had left us. It was a fun show. Afterwards we came home and had a veal stew that I had set up in the crockpot, and watched Holiday Inn on cable. Actually Georg watched it; I fell asleep.

The next morning the dogs woke me up early, which they often do, but I was glad because it gave me a chance to sneak out and fill Georg's stocking. We exchanged our presents in the morning. I gave Georg a molcajete shaped like a pig, and a swanky shirt. He gave me both of Richard Cheese's albums, volume 2 of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the hat!! I was so surprised. It's funny because we had been at Untidy Museum last weekend looking at that red/pink dress, and I had that noticed the hat was still there. Well Georg went back the next day and bought it for me, and I went back later the same day with Sylvia and Lisa for the dress. Lisa and I noticed that the hat was gone, and she even suggested that Georg might have bought it for me, but I poo-pooed the idea because he and I had been there the day before, and I didn't think he had had time to go back. He thought all week that I had figured it out, but I had no idea. He even put a couple of extra bathroom tiles in the bottom of the gift bag so it would be heavy and I wouldn't guess. What a sweetheart. Yay! The hat!

I know you're not supposed to wear black with brown, but the hat looked so perfect with my polka-dotted dress. So I wore it to our Christmas dinner at Irregardless Cafe, where we were by far the most dressed up people, except for an old lady in a fur coat who looked to be twice my age. A lot of people were there in jeans and sweaters or sweatshirts. To Christmas dinner! Anyway, it was a really nice meal. Georg had prime rib and I had lamb, and we split a fabulous yule log cake for dessert. I must say, the service was remarkably problem-free considering how crowded they were. A bit slow, but not even that much.

After dinner we had a couple of hours in which I watched Since You Went Away, a classic WWII weeper starring Claudette Colbert, Joseph Cotton, Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple, and took a nap. Then it was time for Divaville! We had a great time, although Georg only stayed for the first hour since he had to come back for the 10-12 show. I managed to do two hours of swinging Christmas tunes without too much repetition. I got a tape of the show and listened to part of it this morning. It sounds good, although I need to work on the levels when I'm talking over music. I potted down the music so low that I can hardly hear it at all on the tape. On the headphones it sounded much louder.

Today I'm having a slow day. Tried to run a bunch of errands, most of which were fruitless: went to Costco, which was so crowded I drove away without even going in; and to the library, but it was closed; and to the station for a couple of CDs I seem to have misplaced, but they weren't there. I'm a bit alarmed about that actually. I thought for sure I had gotten everything last night after the show, but this morning when I went to unpack them, "Merry Christmas from the Space Age Bachelor Pad" and "Christmas with the Rat Pack" were missing. I was hoping they had been put in the Christmas box, but I went through the whole box this morning and they weren't there.

Well at least I managed to feed Sylvia's fish, refill Thirteen's cosequin and deliver cookies to the vet, so the errands weren't a total bust. I hope they like the cookies. I baked them on Wednesday but they had already closed by the time I got there. They're peppermint sugar cookies, I got the recipe from Good Eats. I used a bone shaped cookie cutter so they were like little peppermint sugar doggie bones. And (maybe for the first time ever) the recipe actually made as many cookies as it was supposed to. Baking cookies for local businesses is a bit "happy homemaker" for me, but they've been so good to Lina and Thirteen over the past year that I wanted to do something nice for them.

Well coincidentally, Georg just came home early and told me that he has those two CDs. He took them to his 10-12 show last night. Thank god! I was so worried that I had lost them. I'm still bummed about the library being closed. At least I was able to check the online catalog and confirm that they have the two books I wanted: Noel and Cole, a biography of Noel Coward and Cole Porter, and The Singing Detective by Dennis Potter, the basis for the BBC miniseries (which I adore) and the recent movie (which I haven't seen yet). I'll go back next week and get them before we leave for NY.

Now I'm watching Bluffmaster, a Shammi Kapoor movie. I loved his movie Junglee so I'm really glad to find this one. Black and white, unfortunately, but it has subtitles! I should be doing housework actually, but I can rationalize that I'll do the dishes when the laundry is done, because the spin cycle makes everything in the kitchen shake and it's no fun to be in there while the machine is running. Our friend Kevin is coming to stay with us tonight, but I'm not sure yet if he's having dinner with us or coming over later.

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Christmas Eve is always a busy errand day for me. Even if we aren't doing anything special, most stores are closed tomorrow so we need to make sure we have enough food in the house. Besides grocery shopping, I also had to feed Sylvia's fish and run some other errands.

Sylvia had left some goodies for me: first, Latin Christmas albums since we're subbing her show tonight, also two awesome vintage pieces: a red London Fog trench coat that she sold me for a song, and an early 60s little black dress that she gave me! They both fit me perfectly in the waist, although the dress is made for a taller woman (like everything else on the planet) so it kind of bags around the armholes. I'm going to have to take in the shoulder seams about an inch and then it will fit just right. But the coat is perfect. It's even a petite, so the proportions are just right.

This morning at Whole Foods I ran into the woman I used to work for, before HKB. Well, she ran into me actually. It was weird and awkward, and wouldn't have happened if I had seen her first. I don't hold a grudge against her, don't wish her ill or anything, but that doesn't mean I want to spend time with her on Christmas Eve. She didn't really seem to want to talk to me either. I got the impression she only approached me to prove to herself that she could, if that makes sense.

But I was polite. I smiled and nodded and said that it was good to see her too. At one point she said "It's so weird that I haven't seen you in all these years," and I just said "yes" instead of "Not since the day you fired me."

She was having some kind of midlife crisis at the time, talking about getting out of the graphic design business and taking up massage therapy instead. And she axed me over a fairly trivial pretext (in my opinion of course), and said some things that were really uncalled for. Like accusing me of only pretending to be her friend for the five years I had worked for her. There was no need to make it so personal. Like I said, I don't hold a grudge. It was a long time ago and my life is pretty good now, better than it was when I worked for her. But still, I think it's appropriate that we did not keep in touch and I don't have any desire to change that. Maybe she just doesn't realize that firing someone usually means you never see them again.

Well enough of that. I'm enjoying a lull in my afternoon cooking, and using the time to offload some Space Ghost episodes onto videotape. The Shatner episode is brilliant. Georg and I are doing the latin music show tonight from 6-8. Should be fun. Although I'm hoping Georg will do all the backselling; my Spanish pronunciation is so appalling.

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Had a great show this morning, if I do say so myself. I wish I had taped it! I played a lot more rock than usual, more than I would normally play in two or three shows. I actually failed to play my non-rock requirement in the middle hour! The reverse would be more typical for me -- I usually need to make an effort to play any rock. I also got way more calls than usual. (I wonder if there's a connection?) Several requests, and also people calling to find out what I was playing. I love those calls, especially when you can tell they're writing it down. That's such a great feeling.

One of the requests was for Roman Candle, which request I typically would ignore, because the band (or their boosters) call to request them a lot. But this time it was someone who requested something else, which I couldn't find, so I asked him to make another request. Under the circumstances it would have been a bit petty of me not to play his request. The weird thing is, someone called to ask what it was and say how much they liked it! So maybe there's more actual listener demand for Roman Candle than I thought. Or maybe it was one of the Roman Candle boosters (or members) who called to say they liked it. That just occurred to me.

The other calls I got were about "See Line Woman" by Nina Simone, the remix on Verve Remixed, and "Frontier Psychiatrist" by the Avalanches. And the other requests were for Tenki, Belle & Sebastian, and I forget what else. The only bad thing that happened this morning is that I went to play "Lemonade and Somersaults" by the Icicles, and the CD was gone! That makes me so mad. But the whole thing was gone, there wasn't an empty case, so I'm going to be optimistic and assume it was just misfiled. Here's hoping it turns up, because I love that album.

I'm going to be on the air again tomorrow, doing the Latin show from 6-8 with Georg, and again on Thursday from 6-8 doing Divaville. Georg is doing his regular show Thursday from 10-midnight, and I think I saw a post just now that he's subbing someone's show tonight. So we're just a couple of radio fools this week. Seems to be the thing to do for people who aren't traveling this holiday.

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After going on and on about that dress, I suppose I should post a photo of it! I think you will agree that it was worth the money. Now I just need to figure out where to wear it! Being sleeveless but such heavy fabric (padded velvet) makes it hard to imagine the right weather for it. I guess you're supposed to wear it with the jacket to a winter party, but take the jacket off when you get there.

I didn't take any photos of the jacket because it doesn't look that good without the sleeves. However, I did go back to Untidy Museum and take photos of the sleeves and collar on another jacket, which the owner Michelle had brought in for me to see. I love the way the collar folds over itself; it has a snap to hold it in place like that.

Unfortunately Ethel had sewn the sleeves into this other jacket, so I couldn't see how it fastened together. But, I think I can wing it if I try it out first in something cheap but thick, like fleece. Then I can use the fleece pieces as a template. Michelle even offered to lend me her jacket so I can look at the model while I work! I've only been in there a few times, so that really blew me away. She doesn't even know my name!

She and I also got into an interesting conversation about making vintage-esque clothing from vintage patterns and vintage fabric. She said she's been looking for someone to sew for the shop. I'm intrigued. It would be nice to have another revenue stream, especially doing something that I love. On the other hand, sewing is pretty time-consuming. I have my doubts that she could pay enough to make it worth my time. Still, I think after the holiday I'm going to take in a couple of outfits I've made and see what she says. The stewardess dress (the one with the bias collar) came together really fast; I could maybe run up a few of those if she were interested.

I forgot to mention that yesterday after the Untidy Museum, we (Lisa, Sylvia and I) hung out for a while at Francesca's. They've expanded into the space next door, adding a nice extra room to their seating. I had a decaf sugar-free vanilla latte, and let me tell you I felt like such a dork ordering it. A sweet coffee drink without sugar or caffeine, how lame. It tasted good, but I didn't end up drinking the whole thing because it started to bother my stomach. I hardly ever drink coffee so I just wasn't used to it. I guess I should have just gone ahead and had hot chocolate. I've been eating whatever I want the past couple of days anyway, because my appetite has only just come back after the flu.

Today for the first time ever I bought something from the iTunes music store. It took me this long to find something in their catalog that I wanted to buy: "Legal Tender" by the B-52s. If I can remember to burn it tonight, I'll play it during my show tomorrow morning.

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I never got around to the Lina update from Friday. Well, it's good news I think. I took her in to get her stitches out, and while we were there Dr. Lindeke agreed with me that it's unreasonable to expect a dog not to limp ten days after knee surgery (which was what her surgeon had said). Dr. Lindeke had me walk her around the room and said she looks great. And I have noticed that, even though she still limps, she's now putting her whole foot on the floor when she walks. Not just the toes as she had been doing since she hurt herself in October. For the first time since this all happened two months ago, I'm starting to believe that she's going to be OK.

I hadn't stopped thinking about that red dress at Untidy Museum, so I went back yesterday with Lisa and Sylvia. I'm not sure if I wanted other people there to lend a critical eye, or just to talk me into buying it. They povided both, so I now have the dress and the jacket and some ideas on how to wear it. Turns out that the owner (I keep forgetting her name) does have the mink sleeves, because she kept for herself another jacket of Ethel's that also used them. She promised to bring them in today so I can take pictures of how they fit together with the jacket. Then I can buy some nice faux fur and make sleeves myself.

I also started work on Genna and Carina's hats and mittens, but ended up spending most of the afternoon out so I didn't get as far as I had hoped. They're going out of town, so if I don't get them done today, they don't need to be done until January.

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Yesterday was one of those busy tiring days. And today was one of those fun (but still tiring) days. So let's start with today. Georg and I spent the whole day out driving around, and after a week cooped up in the house, I felt like I'd just gotten out of prison. We had lunch at that Mountain View Cafe, that new place in Erwin Square, which seems to have worked the "new restaurant" kinks out of their system, for a much more allover enjoyable experience. I had the same sandwich as last time, and Georg had bacon pancakes. Mmm, bacon. They use really good market style bacon there too.

Then we stopped in at Untidy Museum. My intent was to visit the hat, which was still there, but I ended up trying on the most amazing dress. It was made of this wild red/orange/pink velvet, with a geometric windowpane design embroidered over the entire fabric in bright red. Really outlandish. The color was really not the best in the world for me, but not the worst either and it fit perfectly, if I do say so. In fact when I stepped out of the dressing room, one of the proprietors made me come up to the front to show the other one how the dress is supposed to look. (Apparently they didn't have anyone on staff who looked right in it.)

They told me the whole story behind the dress: it was owned by a woman named Ethel who used to work for Chanel in New York, but she just retired to Florida. On the way down she stopped in Durham, where her daughter lives, and sold a bunch of her clothes to Untidy Museum. They showed me some sweaters that Ethel had knit herself which looked so professional. You really could not tell they were hand made.

It's too bad Ethel's favorite color seems to be pink, which is a terrible color on me, because she and I are just about the same size. On the other hand, Ethel had expensive taste in clothing so maybe it's better this way. I have to think about that dress -- it's pretty expensive, really expensive actually, and the color isn't my favorite. But, but, but. It just looked so good. I'd never seen anything like that fabric before, and the fit truly was perfect. It came with a sleeveless jacket which was meant to have mink sleeves attached, but the mink sleeves weren't there. Maybe Ethel kept them. Maybe I could make sleeves? They occasionally have decent quality faux fur at the fabric store.

Speaking of which, the fabric store was our next stop. We were heading to Cary anyway, and I had heard they had a nicer Hancock than the one near me in Durham. I wanted to get some fleece to make hats and scarves for my little friends Carina and Genna, so Georg obligingly went with me. While I was getting my fleece cut, Georg found some great retro fabric that would make nice kitchen curtains. I'm going to figure out how much we need and go back either next week or the week after.

After that we killed time for awhile at Barnes and Noble, which had two copies of our deck, yay for them! Then on to the Madstone Theater which was showing White Christmas, which I had never actually seen before (shh, don't tell anyone!). It's not replacing Holiday Inn as my favorite Christmas movie, but it was a lot of fun, definitely worth the trip. The lack of Fred Astaire was made up for by the presence of Rosemary Clooney.

The funniest part of the evening, I must admit, was when Georg finally got fed up with the people who sat right behind us -- with only twelve people in the theater! -- and kept talking. He turned around and hissed "Hey, I didn't come here to listen to you!" To our surprise, that actually worked. It usually doesn't when I try it. I don't know whether it's because these people were less inherently rude than the norm, or because Georg looks scarier than I do. The rude people in this instance were an older couple, old enough to maybe have seen the movie when it was new. So maybe they were just easily intimidated.

After the movie we tried to go to Patio Loco, which we hadn't been to in ages, but they were closed for the holiday! Boo! So we went to Blue Corn Cafe instead. It was yummy. And now we're home, watching Iron Chef. After finishing this up I'm going to start work on my fleece presents for the girls. All in all, a great day.

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I'm listening to the delightful sounds of classic lounge/exotica, courtesy of Space Age Pop Music's Live365 broadcast. Live365 has an awful lot of ads, and it doesn't seem to work with Safari, damn them, but in Explorer the interface works pretty well. I guess I shouldn't bitch about the ads when they have a paid membership available that I'm not paying for.

I have to say, the first few minutes of Space Age Pop Music made me feel really sad that getting sick derailed my plan to sign up for a nice timeslot at WXDU during the holiday and do my lounge show, "Jungle Madness," which I had hoped to make an annual thing. But after listening for a while, now I feel like my own lounge/exotica collection sucks and I need to spend the next year acquiring before I'd be qualified to do the show again. Maybe I'm just feeling cranky.

I think Dr. Roe was right about Lina. Less than a day after putting her back on Rimadyl she was walking much better. Limping when she first gets up, but walking almost normally when we go outside. Whew! She still lifts her leg up and down when she's standing still, as though she's uncomfortable on it. But Dr., I mean Mr. Magnus told me that the leg is aligned differently and she has to learn how to use it all over again, so it's understandable that she'd be trying to find a comfortable footing. At least, I hope that's it.

She has to go back to St. Francis tomorrow to get her stitches out. I was thinking about asking my unsqueamish friend Pam to come over and remove the stitches so I wouldn't have to get Lina in and out of the car again. But on the other hand, it might be worth the trip to get Dr. Lindeke's opinion on her limp.

As for me, I seem to be on the mend. Feel much less zoned out, and actually slept for a while last night. My appetite is still completely out of whack though. The first couple of days I just had no interest in food. Now I find myself thinking about food, planning nice things I could make for myself, but then when mealtime comes around I have to force myself to eat. I hope that goes away soon.

Due to the being sick and all, I had to bail on Stoneline yesterday and on The Return of the King, which Georg, Lisa and I had planned to see together. Fortunately Georg was able to give my ticket to Jeff from his office. Even better, he said the movie was good enough that he'll be happy to see it again with me when I'm better.

And best of all, Lisa sent Georg home with the Buffy season 5 DVDs for me to watch while I recover. I can't sleep in the bedroom during the day, because I have to keep Lina off the bed. And if I close the door, they scratch on it and keep me awake. So I've been spending all my time on the living room couch, watching way too much TV. I could really use something fresh to watch, so these DVDs are just in the nick of time.

TCM did have an interesting series a couple of days ago: "unromantic romantic comedies." Lots of tawdry 30s comedies about marriages of convenience and adulterous affairs. I think my favorite was The Goose and the Gander, in which Kay Francis sets out to split up her ex-husband and his new wife by revealing the wife's affair with Georg Brent. But of course, Francis and Brent fall in love along the way. Somehow they all end up trapped in a country house with a couple of jewel thieves. Everyone is pretending to be someone else and pretending they don't know who the others are and providing lame excuses for why they need twin beds. It's pretty hilarious, and racy stuff for 1935.

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Being sick is no damn fun. I think it might be the flu: I've got a fever, chills, headache, stuffed up, coughing, legs ache, tired but difficulty sleeping. I thought about calling my doctor, but I looked it up online on a medical website, and they said really the best treatment is just rest and over the counter medicines for the symptoms. They said there is an antiviral treatment, but it's really expensive and only works in the first couple of days.

Lina's limping is still concerning me, so yesterday I called the veterinary college and asked to speak to Dr. Magnus, the student who I had mostly dealt with. The lady on the phone informed me (rather snippily I must say) that as a student, Dr, er, Mr. Magnus isn't a doctor yet. She also said that he's not in orthopedics this round anyway. But she had Dr. Roe, Lina's surgeon, call me back.

Dr. Roe said that of course he can't diagnose her over the phone, but it's not normal for her to still be lame this long after the surgery. He suggested that I put her back on the Rimadyl and if she hasn't improved in a couple of days, call him again.

I think that one of the reasons she's limping so much is her lack of activity. Heck, if I had to lay still all the time, only walking for a few minutes a couple of times a day, I'd probably limp too. She does seem to be steadier on her leg after her walks. But it's been less than two weeks, and they said she's not supposed to have any activity at all until four weeks. Maybe I'm not doing enough of the range of motion exercises.

And I have nothing else to say, because I've done nothing but lie around being sick for the past couple of days.

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Woke up feeling crummy this morning. Headachy and stuffed up. Ugh. The dogs have the right idea: they're sleeping soundly, like they always do on cold rainy days. I should be doing the same, but instead I'm watching The Shop Around the Corner and writing this.

At least we had fun last night, putting up Christmas decorations and listening to swinging holiday CDs. I had already put a bowl of ornaments on the coffee table, and last week bought a little tinsel tree from Metropolitan Deluxe. Last night we decorated the tree, and put up the garland we had bought at the farmer's market. We have a nice collection of ornaments, old ones from my childhood (like the Raggedy Ann) and some new ones (like the muffin man) we bought at Morgan Imports' annual Christmas sale a few years ago. I even hung up my stocking. I don't think we did any decorating last year because we went away for Christmas. So it's nice to have some holiday cheer this year.

As my Christmas present to myself, I bought a couple of nice bras from Ebay. (Don't be grossed out! They're new with tags.) Won the auction, but the weird thing is when I tried to pay, Ebay insisting on adding $30.80 to the price. Even though the listing page clearly said the shipping cost was $9 including insurance. I was afraid it was some kind of scam -- $9 shipping plus an unannounced $21.80 "handling charge," something like that -- but luckily it was all just a mistake. The seller was just as confused as I was, so we bypassed the Ebay page and I sent her the money directly through Paypal. She had very few feedbacks, so I think maybe she's new at Ebay selling and set something up wrong.

I think I'm going to take it easy for the rest of the day. Bundle up under some blankets and watch TV. Tonight is the Survivor grand finale, and I can't wait. This has been the best season since the first one. I know, I'm a dork. Have I ever denied it?

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After chatting with Christa about it, I'm really starting to look forward to Divaville on Christmas day. Bought two albums today -- Christmas Cocktails 2 and Christmas Belles -- and now I'm completely ready. With these, the ones we already had, and borrowing Christa's, I'll easily have two hours of music without too much repeating of either artists or songs. (A certain amount of repetition is inevitable, since there simply aren't an infinite number of Christmas songs out there. But I'd rather not play "Let It Snow" five times in two hours if I can avoid it.)

Last night was the holiday party for the bakehouse where Georg works. Every year the bakehouse parties are all about the food, which is just the way I like it. This year instead of catering, they had excellent home cooking from various employees. Ham, chopped barbecue, turkey, collards, fried shrimp, potato salad and cole slaw. No black eyed peas or mac and cheese, but there was so much food we hardly missed it. The winner of the evening was Mr. Ellis' deep fried turkey. I had never had deep fried turkey before; man it was good! I heard he injected the birds with cajun spices. Yum. I had a humongous piece of cornbread too. Not exactly low carb but what the heck, it went down perfectly with the turkey and collards.

After the party we went home and watched some more of the Amitabh Collection DVD. Alas, the dialogue scenes were a total loss without subtitles. Except for providing further proof that Amitabh is the king of 70s fashion. Huggy Bear has nothing on him!

Today Georg and I took a day off from house-work and Lina-worry and just drove around having fun. Went to the farmer's market to buy firewood, but ended up making an appointment to have a truckload delivered later in the week. So we won't have a fire tonight, but once the delivery arrives we'll be set for the winter. This late in the winter the produce looks a bit shriveled, but we did buy turnips, a spaghetti squash and some collards. Also picked up a pine garland to hang in the dining room, since we don't have room for a tree.

After the farmer's market we had lunch in Cary, at a nice little place called Hotpoint that has really nice salads and individual pizzas. I had a fabulous Thai chicken salad, and Georg had a pizza that was sort of like sub sandwich meats. Yum! The sandwich menu looked good too but we didn't try it. Then we stopped at Borders, where we confirmed that they have our deck in stock (I always like to check), and I bought the aforementioned Divaville Christmas CDs. I must say, it was really nice to have an afternoon to ourselves, with nothing to do and no worrying. Really amazingly nice. I hadn't realized how much all the stress over Lina has been wearing me down.

Speaking of Lina, I am concerned about her leg. Her limp has been substantially worse since we went to the vet on Thursday. She has much more trouble putting weight on it, and the ice pack/leg massage bothers her more too. The benign explanation is that without the medication in the patch, she's simply in more pain so everything is more difficult for her. I'm really hoping that's it, not that the leg was injured getting in and out of my car or pulling off the patch. I'm going to call her doctor at the veterinary hospital on Monday and ask him about it.

Now time to make dinner. Shepherd's pie, perfect for a cold night.

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Georg rented something from Netflix called "The Amitabh Collection." Classic scenes and songs from Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan. He starred in Amar Akbar Anthony, one of our favorites, so we were really excited about this DVD. Only problem is, no subtitles or captions! So the dialogue scenes are pretty much meaningless, and we can't tell what movies the dance numbers came from. I guess in future we'll have to be better about reading the fine print when getting foreign films from Netflix.

We seem to have settled into a routine of taking turns sleeping on the air mattress in the living room with the dogs. If we both slept in the bedroom, we'd have to crate Lina to keep her from either a) jumping on the bed, or b) clawing a hole in the bedroom door trying to get in to jump on the bed. But if one of us stays out in the living room with her, she sleeps pretty peacefully. So the other can shut the bedroom door and get a good night's sleep.

It is getting better as the days go on, but I'm trying not to think about the fact that we have another seven weeks of this. I feel like I now have some small understanding of what it's like to care for an infant. Here's hoping I never get a more thorough understanding!

It was my turn on the air mattress last night. Just before the dogs woke me up this morning, I dreamed that I had grown old and retired from my job as a university art professor, and was living in this unbelievable apartment. It was such a nice apartment that I'm tempted to try and draw a plan of it while I can still remember it. There was a front room, sort of a large entry-way, that I was using for an office / meeting space. Other than that, there weren't any interior walls in the place. The bed had a low ceiling over it, supported by four square columns, but no walls. And all the perimeter walls had floor to ceiling bookshelves which were all full. Every inch of wall space was completely covered with books. The front office also had a lot of binders, I guess old notes, but still mostly books. I don't know why an art teacher would have so many books, but I did. I had a visitor, I think he was my replacement at the unversity. While I was walking him out I stopped and looked at the books and thought to myself "this is who I am." Anyone who looked at my books would understand me completely.

The weird thing about the dream is that I have no desire to teach, or to return to a university setting. But there I was, happily retiring from my teaching position at a university. Also the person in the dream was pretty much irrelevant. The dream was about me, my apartment and my books.

We don't really have near that many books, but book storage is an ongoing issue. We have multiple bookshelves, almost all full, in three of the four rooms of our house -- living room, dining room and study. No shelves in the bedroom, but the headboard has shelves which are usually full of books. So I guess it's entirely possible that I'll end up in a home full of bookshelves someday. I seemed pretty happy about it in the dream.

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Took Lina in to the vet today to get that fentanyl patch off her leg. They had trouble too, but with two of us holding her still, they managed to get it off her without too much trauma. Frankly I think getting in and out of the car was more strain on her leg. She's been limping tonight more than usual.

I told Dr. Lindeke about Lina jumping on the bed her first day back, and how much that freaked me out. She told me this hilarious story about boarding a ten month old shorted haired pointer who had just had osteopathic surgery of some kind (she told me but I forget the specifics). She said that when they walked it, the silly thing was so excited to be outside that it kept leaping back and forth. Even though they had it on a one foot leash. She said that even though it did everything wrong, the dog healed up just fine. So maybe I shouldn't stress so much about Lina's occasional exertions. Maybe the surgeon made it sound so dire because they know dogs are going to be antsy.

Other than that, this was one of those annoying days where all errands take three-four times longer than hey should. Mainly because they were all at places I try to avoid in December, like Costco, Wal-mart and the post office. Not fun places to be two weeks before Christmas!

Looks like we're going to have an early Christmas dinner at Il Palio, the restaurant at the Siena hotel. The rest of the evening isn't exactly going to be a traditional Christmas: I'm covering Divaville from 6 to 8. And then Georg has his regular show from 10 to midnight. So we'll be spending the evening going back and forth to our shows, not mulling cider or roasting chestnuts over an open fire or what-have-you. I think maybe we should just offer to cover the 8-10 show and spend the whole evening there.

Llewellyn sounds positive about the TV show thing. The usage person there said she'd write back to them right away. They said the show airs on Jan. 12, so one way or the other I'll know pretty quickly if it's going to work out.

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Had an interesting VRT e-mail from the UK this morning. (Because of the time difference, European email usually comes in the early a.m. So my morning mail is sometimes really fun.) Someone working on a Russell Grant astrology chat show for Sky One -- I'm assuming this is a satellite channel? -- wants to use blown up images from VRT as background art for the show.

I've heard a general sense of disdain for Russell Grant from people who are serious about astrology. I get the impression that he's, well, not as bad as Miss Cleo. Maybe more like that John Edward guy on Sci-Fi who pretends to talk to dead relatives. But still, I think it would be a kick for VRT to be on television. I guess I'd have to ask someone British to get a screen cap of the show for me.

My only concern is their release agreement: in exchange for a fee, it grants them the right to "exploit the material as part of the Programme(s) by any and all means throughout the world in perpetuity." I think what they mean is that they don't want me to come after them for additional money if VRT images show up in promotional photos, reruns in other countries, DVDs, whatever. But what it actually says seems a lot more broad than that. I forwarded the message to the usage person at Llewellyn, who surely has a lot more experience with these agreements than I do. Here's hoping it works out!

My only gripe about the exchange is a common complaint for me: I have a page on my website called "Usage Guidelines." Which page comprises, as you might guess, VRT usage guidelines. Plus contact information for the usage person at Llewellyn. But no one ever seems to read that page. If the woman from the show had read it, she would have known to contact Hollie at Llewellyn directly. Maybe I need to make the usage information more prominent. I think I'll add a link to the text of the contact page.

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What a miserable, rainy, dreary day. I had planned to run some errands before Stoneline, but it was raining so hard I just couldn't stand the thought of running in and out of stores all afternoon. Both dogs slept all day, I guess because of the weather. Wish I could have done the same.

I was supposed to take the patch of Lina's leg yesterday, but I couldn't get it off! The bandage is stuck to itself so firmly that I was afraid of hurting her leg. I called the vet this morning, they said I can take her in tomorrow and they'll remove it.

Have y'all seen the AOL ad where the couple is all excited to get another AOL CD, because they're using them to make a wall sculpture of a fish? I'm bemused by an ad that so openly acknowledges the nuisance factor of the company's marketing strategy. It kind of reminds me of those Hardee's ads where blue-collar guys talk about reluctantly going to Hardee's, and being amazed to discover that the burgers don't suck after all. I don't even want to know how bad those burgers must be, if "It's Not That Bad!" is their marketing slogan.

Georg was watching Alphaville when I got home from Stoneline. Man, that is a weird movie. Now I'm watching 2001. I'm not up for the whole movie, but I had to watch the scene with the ultra-mod spaceport and stewardess outfits. Total fashion inspiration!

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Food Network reran the second Iron Chef USA special over the weekend. I must say that, while it didn't make me forget the original, it was a thousand times better than the first edition of Iron Chef USA. The commentators were way less stupid this time, and there was a minimum of lame stunts like the chefs taking cell phone calls during the battle. And I still say Shatner is perfect for the Chairman; I can't think of another American actor who'd do better. It would have been nice, though, if the judges had included one person who actually knows something about food.

It Happened One Night is on cable right now. I've seen it too many times to count, but I never get tired of it. Tonight I'm mainly watching for Alan Hale's brilliant scene as a con man who picks them up on the road, sings a kooky song, then tries to steal their bags. "Young people in LOOOVE are VERY seldom HUUNgry!"

Alan Hale, a great character actor, looked so much like his son Alan Hale Jr. that when I saw The Adventures of Robin Hood for the first time I thought, "wow, the Skipper!" I thought I had seen a bunch of his movies, but I just looked him up in IMDB and discovered that his acting career, which began in 1911, includes 185 films! Looks like I've got some catching up to do.

Sean and Pam came by to visit Lina this evening. She was really happy to have the attention. Of course we've been paying her tons of attention, but in the form of ice packs and range of motion exercises and being put in the crate and being told not to lick her stitches. So it was nice for her to have visitors who gave her only affection. Pam was especially nice about sitting with Lina and petting her quietly, so she wouldn't get too excited.

We talked about maybe having Nutty come to visit over the weekend, but I think we'd better wait. Being old dogs they usually don't get too worked up, but the doctor said she can't have any opportunity to run or play. I know Lina would love to see Nutty, but she'll love it just as much in a few weeks when it's safe for her leg.

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Lina's been doing much better the past couple of days. She's less groggy & also less whiny, resting more comfortably. The crate continues to be a problem (know how hard it is to get a cat into a carrier? Imagine trying to shove a 55 pound cat into a crate, while taking utmost care not to jar one of its legs), but now that she's calmed down we're not needing the crate as much as I had feared.

The first few days her leg was really red. I know that lines of red around a wound are a really bad sign, but this was solid color all over the leg. It looked like a bruise except red, not purple. I was going to call the doctor and ask his advice on it, but when I checked this morning it wasn't red anymore. So it must have been normal inflammation.

Here's another photo of her leg that shows how long the stitches are. It's pretty impressive, running almost the whole way down the leg.

I had been worried about Lina's doctor assigning her a "body condition" of 5/9, because I thought that referred to general health, and the scale was 1=death's door, 9=perfect health. So I thought 5 must be pretty bad for a dog I thought was basically healthy. But my friend Judith wrote to say that the scale is actually body size, with 1=emaciated, and 9=extreme obesity. So 5 is just about right: not thin, but healthy. Just like me. Aw!

I've been indulging in a little shopping therapy to relieve the stress of the past few days. Continued my endless quest to find another pair of jeans I like, with the same lack of success as always. It's weird how hard it is to find decent jeans that actually fit. Also went to Sears to check out their Lands End selection, but alas, they didn't have the things I wanted in my size. I specifically wanted this cute little hat in green & red striped polartec, but they only had it in large/x-large. Well I've got polartec (just not cute striped polartec); I can make my own hat.

On the bright side I did get a couple pairs of shoes (brown Hush Puppies and cute black mary janes) and a purse at Ross. Also bought some of those shelves that hang underneath cabinets, to put our spices in. When the new dryer was installed, we lost the shelf where we used to keep the spices and still haven't found a new permanent home for them. But alas, the under-cabinet shelves I bought are too narrow.

Had my radio show this morning. The first hour or so was a mess: I had a really cool request -- "Cantaloop" by Us 3 -- that I couldn't fill, because the CD is missing. Or possibly the station never had it, and I was just confused because I have that album at home. So I thought I'd play "Cantaloupe Island" by Herbie Hancock, but I couldn't find that either, even though I thought for sure we used to have it. So instead I pulled another Hancock album, "New Standards," only to find an empty case! I so love when that happens.

After that I accidently ejected the CD that was playing at the time, and then a little while later a track ended a minute before it was supposed to, but I didn't have anything else cued up yet. So I was feeling pretty frazzled. But I finally hit my stride about half way through, and the show ended a lot better than it began if I do say so myself.

In other news, the tree guy showed up! He came yesterday with another guy and cut up the fallen tree. Unfortunately he hasn't hauled the brush away yet, which he said he would have done by today. Oh well, maybe he'll get it done by the end of the week. Even with the piles of brush all over the place, the yard still looks so much bigger.

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I had an email this morning when I got up, from a Romanian woman who had just found my website and really connected with VRT. She wrote to ask my permission to copy the images off my site to make a personal deck. (It's not clear from her letter that she realized the deck is available for sale.) I've got to admit that it was such a nice letter, and I appreciated so much that she even bothered to ask, I was tempted to say yes.

But if I gave the deck away to everyone who wrote me a nice letter, we wouldn't have any sales at all. So I wrote back telling her that she could buy it from me, or from Amazon.com (if that's an option for her), or I can find out where Llewellyn titles are sold in Bucharest, her location. I did offer to help her out if cost is a problem and she wanted to buy it from me. Again, not something I should be doing if the point is to make money. But we all know that's not really the point; if it were I would have ditched the Tarot project as soon as it began and gone into commercial illustration instead. Anyway I figured that since I'd still get the royalty on that copy, it wouldn't be a total loss.

Although we didn't get to the Chapel Hill Christmas parade yesterday, we did have lunch at the Q Shack with Lisa and her new beetle crew. It was fun to hear their description of the parade, and made me really regret that we hadn't gone. Next year for sure! Someone off-handed mentioned that they should have done synchronized driving movements. I think that's a great idea & I hope we can plan something for next year. I would love to have Undersea Mah Jongg, bubbles flying, doing a synchronized dance down the middle of Franklin Street with a bunch of New Beetles.

Speaking of which, the New Beetle folks have some pretty impressive cars! Shelley showed me some of the work she's done on her green beetle, Kirby. I must say, that is a gorgeous car. Spacepod looked great, of course; I really like the monochromatic look Lisa does with it. She had this beautiful wreath of silver and light blue jingle bells attached to the rear luggage rack. I didn't get to see the beaded bra on Spacepod, but she took it out of the back and showed it to me. I hope she posts photos soon (nudge, nudge!)

As was mentioned in a comment to an earlier post, I set up a Livejournal account that mirrors this diary. Originally I set it up just so I could comment on LJ without having to be "anonymous." (Livejournal is annoyingly unfriendly to people who aren't on Livejournal, which I guess is the point.) But once I had set it up, I found I really like that "friends" page, that shows recent posts from all your friends. So I've started posting on LJ -- just the first paragraph of each post, and a link back here. So if you're on Livejournal and want to have this diary show up on your friends page, my username is sarah_ovenall.

In Lina news, yesterday and last night proved all too well that our attempt to confine her without the crate will only lead to far too little sleep for us, and far too much activity for her. She even got onto the bed yesterday evening while I wasn't looking, which after all the "no jumping" admonitions from her doctor, nearly gave me a heart attack. Well I guess if she had done any serious damage, she'd be having more trouble walking today. I hope.

So we're going to use the crate more often from now on, and just try to ignore the crying. I predict lots of earplugs and loud music on headphones in my future. On the bright side, all the energy she spends crying and wailing to be let out of the crate seems to tire her out. So when we do let her out, she's a bit easier to manage.

I took the bandage off last night, and man I was amazed at the size of the incision. It runs almost the whole length of her leg! Also, I don't understand how she could be so brave about having a giant bandage pulled off her leg -- it had to hurt, but she never made a peep -- but such a wussy girl about the crate. Her leg is swollen and pretty red, especially on the inside. I might call her doctor tomorrow and ask if that's normal. She's pretty good about the ice pack, doesn't make a fuss about it, and she's also okay with the range of motion exercises. But she doesn't like the leg massage at all. I wish I had asked the doctor to show me how. I'm not sure if it's helping at all, or just, you know, poking her bad leg.

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Well it turned out to be a near-perfect day for a parade. Dry, warmer than expected, even bright and almost sunny. Unfortunately, Undersea Mah Jongg isn't there. We called Lisa the new beetle queen last night and bailed on the parade. I just didn't feel good about leaving Lina in the crate for so much of the day, on her first full day home.

In retrospect it was a good decision, because last night was pretty bad. We put Lina in the crate for the night around 11:30, and she immediately started whining and crying. I thought maybe being alone was upsetting her, so I took my pillow and a blanket and lay down on the living room couch right next to her crate. I don't say "slept" because I didn't do a whole lot of sleeping. I think my being in the room with her helped, because she cried a lot louder whenever I left the room, but she didn't stop when I was there. I was hoping she'd get tired after a few minutes and go to sleep, but no, the piteous wailing -- loud enough to penetrate my earplugs -- continued until about 3:30 when I gave up and let her out of the crate. At which point she lay down on her bed and went right to sleep. Until 6, when she wanted out to go to the bathroom. Which we have to do on leash, to make sure she doesn't try to ramble around the backyard. So as I said, I didn't get a whole lot of sleep.

(If you're thinking that this situation is entirely my fault for never disciplining her properly over the past 10 years, all I can say is, tell me something I don't know.)

My concern about leaving her out of the crate overnight is that she likes to sleep in our bed, especially in cold weather. And the doctors have impressed upon me the importance of not allowing her to jump (such as jumping onto the bed) at all for at least eight weeks. If I sleep in the bed and she isn't confined, I guarantee that she will be trying to get into the bed with me as soon as caninely possible.

Not sure what we're going to do tonight. I may sleep on the air mattress on the floor. That way she can get into bed with me without having to jump. In a few weeks when she's able to climb stairs, maybe I can get her a step-stool to get into the bed or something? It's going to be a long couple of months.

So anyway, it's about 10:30 and I guess the new beetle club are rolling down Franklin Street as I write this. Kind of a bummer that we couldn't go, but it would have been a nightmare to get going so early, after last night. We're going to meet them for lunch afterwards at the Q Shack, so that will be fun.

I felt like I needed a treat for myself with all this stress going on, so last night I started working on a new outfit. It's a cute A-line dress with shaped seams on the front. This pattern actually did not come from Ebay; I got it from Thriftworld years and years ago. The fabric I'm using is an amazing dark brown cotton with light green and white polka dots, which I got at a vintage fabric store in Asheville. Very cool.

In other news, Lina seems to like the ice pack (frozen cranberries, as we did not have a full bag of frozen peas) but emphatically does not like having that leg massaged. I'm sure it's painful to have me rubbing the leg they just operated on. I'm going to try again this afternoon & see if I can do it more gently.

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We're home from the hospital!

lina_home.jpg

We got back about an hour ago. They shaved practically her whole backside because they gave her an epidural, poor baby. They also shaved a spot on her front leg, probably for an IV drip. The big bandage over her knee is where they did the surgery. The smaller bandage wrapped around her lower leg covers a "fentanyl transdermal patch," which is a slow-release painkiller that lasts for 3-5 days. Apparently this drug can be dangerous to humans, so I've been warned not to touch the bandage and to use gloves when removing it. Also I can't put the electric blanket in her bedding, because the heat could make the patch release too fast and give her an overdose.

She seems to be in some pain, having trouble walking and tends to "knuckle" that leg, meaning she turns the foot under and leans on the tops of her toes, not the pad of the foot. The doctor said that's to be expected because with the bones realigned, her leg doesn't work the same way anymore. However, she's walking better than I had expected, her main difficulty is getting up the three steps at the back door.

I'm supposed to keep her severely confined for 4 weeks! She has to be inside her crate unless I'm right there, to make sure she can't run or jump. She's only allowed out for short leash walks to go to the bathroom. After 4 weeks she can have a 10 minute walk once a day, and after 8 weeks we can start longer walks. Right now I'm sitting with her in the living room so she can sleep on her bed, instead of having to go in the crate. She went into the crate on her own when we first got home, but she came out after a minute or two. It's a good thing I'm home during the day, so she won't have to be crated all day. Just certain times like my weekly trips to Denovo and Stoneline, and my radio show.

The drive home was a bit stressful because the doctor had warned me to make sure she didn't jump or climb, so I had her lie down on the floor of the front seat. But she kept acting like she wanted to climb up on the seat. (When she rides in the car, she always sits on the back seat so she can look out the windows.) And she was obviously in pain. So I was driving with one hand and trying to soothe her with the other, the whole way back from Raleigh. Fun drive!

The doctors at the veterinary teaching hospital were so nice to her. I'm really glad we went there. They gave me this printout with information about the visit, diagnosis ("left cranial cruciate ligament rupture"), procedure ("left tibial wedge osteotomy"), medication, etc. It says she has mild cloudiness/cataracts in both eyes, but they told me about that on Wednesday. They gave her a "body condition score" of 5 out of 9! I wish I had seen that when we were there, so I could have asked what that means. Maybe that's normal for a dog her age. She seems to be perfectly fine to me. Except for the bum leg of course.

We have to go back in 8 weeks so they can give her another x-ray. In the meantime, it's time for a frozen peas ice pack! I'm so glad to have my baby back.

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Just talked to Lina's doctor. I never got to talk to him yesterday, because he called the office half an hour after I had left, then in the evening he called here but I was cooking with the music turned up, and didn't hear the phone. My house is so small that I thought that was impossible, but apparently not.

Anyway. Lina's fine. She's alert, putting weight on her leg, and trying to get out of her cage. That's my girl! He said I can come pick her up at 2. That gives me enough time to clean the crate, which was totally disgusting when Georg got it out of the attic last night. And I might even have time to decorate my car for the parade tomorrow. And hey, I just checked weather.com and they're not predicting rain tomorrow! Yay!

The chili last night turned out well, if I do say so myself. I found a recipe on epicurious.com -- by the way, I love that site, they have a "comment" feature on each recipe so you can find out what other people thought of it -- which was supposed to include ground beef, ground pork, and diced beef. But all I had was the diced beef so I added a couple of slices of bacon. Mmm, bacon. A lot of the comments said it was really bland & they had to increase the spices, so I made a 1/3 recipe but did not reduce the spices at all. And I have to say, essentially tripling the spices made it turn out just right. The only changes I would make are to saute the onions first -- the recipe has you just throw the uncooked onions into the pot, and I think the texture is not as nice -- and I would simmer it at least a half hour longer, maybe an hour. (I had already simmered it a lot longer than the recipe called for, but it still wasn't enough.) The beef wasn't tough, but it definitely should have been more tender.

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In non-Lina news, we finally got the postcard for the Chapel Hill parade this Saturday. Our entry number is 48. Too bad the weather looks like it's going to totally suck this weekend. I called the organizer and her voice mail said that they won't cancel due to weather unless it's so bad the police declare it unsafe. (I seem to recall they did postpone last year, but that must have been the big ice storm.) So I'm crossing my fingers that this cold, dreary, drizzly rain passes by Friday night.

Also the Montefiori Cocktail album I had ordered, Re*shaken, finally arrived. It's all remixes by people like Fantastic Plastic Machine, Le Hammond Inferno, and Ursula 1000. I have to say I nearly wet myself when I read the track listing on Amazon, and the actual album isn't letting me down.

Last night Georg and I watched a freakish movie called "Every Girl Should Be Married" that he had taped off TCM. In the pre-movie chitchat, Robert Osbourne mentioned that women today might cringe at the title. The title didn't bother me (I've seen enough movies from the 40s to be over it); it's the plot that threw me for a loop. Basically the movie is about a young single woman (Betsy Drake) who bumps into a bachelor pediatrician (Cary Grant) in a drugstore, decides on the basis of two minutes' conversation that he's the guy for her, and spends the rest of the movie stalking him. I'm not talking about movie-cute following around; I mean serious, restraining-order, change-your-name-and-move-out-of-state stalking. It's supposed to be sweet and funny, but I actually ended up feeling like "good lord, that poor sick woman, was this really supposed to be a comedy?" Funny-strange in a big way. I can't recommend the movie unless you're interested in the extremely screwed-up nature of post-war gender roles, or you're a really big Cary Grant fan. (The female lead, Betsy Drake, married Grant a year later.)

Spent the whole morning and early afternoon at the office, mostly worrying about Lina but also getting some decent work done. They're installing a new shopping cart system for one site and they were having trouble modifying the page templates. It wasn't very clear, and the documentation was just about non-existant, but I was able to make enough headway that I can do the rest from here.

Thirteen was besides herself with happiness when I finally got home. She's really not used to being alone. Wish I could take Thirteen with me to get Lina tomorrow, but I think getting Lina into the car is going to be complicated enough on its own, no need to make matters worse.

The tree guy didn't show up, but his wife (?) called to let me know that it was due to the weather, and he'd be here the next clear day. Yay for responsible contractors! I can't wait to get that fallen tree out of the front yard. It's oak, and he said he'll cut it into firewood sized pieces for us. Unfortunately it was still connected to the main tree and even has leaves on it, so it will be too fresh to burn this year. Oh well, we'll have a nice stockpile of firewood for next year.

Spent so much time talking about chili in Christa's blog that I ended up buying some beef to make chili myself tonight! In fact, it needs to simmer for a couple of hours so I better get started.

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Lina update: She had the surgery, it went well, they did an X-ray afterwards and everything looks like it should. She's in recovery now. They think she'll be able to come home tomorrow, but they're going to call me in the morning and let me know for sure.

Whew!

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Lina's surgeon just called. He said the X-ray shows an abnormally steep "tibial plateau," and she would benefit from the bone surgery. So that's what they're going to do. According to the handout, "a wedge of bone is removed, and the cut is stabilized with a plate and screws." Poor dog! It sounds horrendous, but he said it would heal faster than the other treatment with the sutures.

The surgeon called me himself, which I appreciate. His name is either Roe or Rove. The funny thing is, in person I couldn't place his accent, but on the phone I got it immediately: Australia. In fact he sounds just like an actor, Ingo Rademacher, who's from New South Wales. Don't know why I didn't recognize it at first.

Anyway, they're going to call me tomorrow after the surgery and let me know when I can pick her up. Probably early Friday afternoon. That gives me a day to get the crate out of the attic, put fresh bedding in it and so forth. I wonder if she's even going to be able to walk to the car? I didn't used to be able to pick her up but I can now, so I could carry her if necessary. Or do they have little doggie wheelchairs or something?

lina update

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I'm back from the vet hospital. They kept Lina, she can't come home until Friday. We saw two students -- a fourth year who conducted the initial exam, and a second year who assisted him -- and a surgeon. They were really nice to her. She was extremely freaked out, whining and shedding, but she did OK. I found something that seems to calm her pretty well: I stand over her, facing the same way, with her body between my legs, lean forward and scratch her head and chest. Maybe she feels protected? The only problem is that my back got tired from standing like that, but when I stood up, or tried to sit in front of her, she started whining again.

They said she tore the cranial cruciate ligament, inside the knee, and the joint is unstable. The tibia is able to move forward further than it's supposed to. I guess that's why she's been falling so much. Lately if she's rushing to get in or out the door, she'll slip and her back legs go right out from under her.

Apparently the delay between injury and treatment makes it likely that the meniscus (a cushion inside the knee) is also damaged. They said they could hear clicking in her knee which indicates problems with the meniscus. When I had TMJ surgery a few years ago, they said the meniscus on one side of my jaw was pretty badly damaged, but the other side wasn't so bad. I can still hear (well, mainly feel) clicking in my jaw sometimes, like if I'm on the air and have a long talkset, sometimes as I talk I can feel it go click-click-click just in front of my right ear.

There are 2 treatment options, the surgeon said that neither one is clearly "better" than the other. One is to add permanent sutures that stabilize the joint. In essence the sutures perform the function of the ligament. This way is less expensive but takes longer to heal. And if the dog is too active too soon, the sutures can be damaged and she'll be right back where she started.

The other way is to realign the bones to reduce stress on the joint. This is more expensive & also more drastic. It involves reshaping the tibia, and she'd have to have pins and a plate in the bone. But he said that as long as the bones heal properly, she would heal faster and would have a better chance of being back to normal.

He asked me if I had a preference between the two, which I appreciate, but good grief, I don't know enough about it to know which one is better. So I told him that before the injury she was in good health, pretty active for her age, and I wanted to do the one that would provide the fullest recovery.

They are going to do a radiograph (that means an X-ray, right?) to see if her bones would be a good candidate for leveling the tibia. If the tibial plateau is already fairly flat, then the bone reshaping wouldn't do much good. In which case they'd go with the sutures. They're going to call me this afternoon and let me know which surgery they want to do.

Georg and I had been planning a trip in the first week of Jan, to see his family on Staten Island, but we weren't sure if that would be too soon after the surgery. I asked the surgeon about it and he said that would be fine. Whichever surgery they choose, we're going to have to restrict her to a crate for weeks (!) with only short leash walks. The kennel will keep her inside a pen, so that will be restrict her movement sufficiently.

We also talked about physical therapy afterwards, and they gave me a handout which explains it in detail. I'm going to have to put ice packs on her knee, massage the knee, and do passive range of motion exercises. The student said that Lina is already showing slight atrophy from favoring that leg for the past month, so I think the physical therapy will be important. They also recommend a couple of clinics with underwater treadmills where she could do physical therapy, but I think that might be a bit excessive.

I had to pay a deposit of 50% of the highest estimate. Which deposit was $1,200. Aie! Well, that's not too far off from the estimate they gave me over the phone. And if they go with the suture method, I will have almost completely paid already.

Since I got back, Thirteen has seemed out of sorts but basically all right. She keeps pacing around the house, looking in every room, like she's hoping to find Lina. They're almost never separated so I knew it would be weird for her. She's probably feeling better now that I'm home and she's not totally alone.

In other news, the tree guy was supposed to come either today or tomorrow to cut up that fallen oak in our front yard. I thought I was going to be out all day, so I had told him that I would leave a check on the front porch. But I forgot. I hope he didn't come by, see that there wasn't a check, and leave. If he doesn't come today I'll call him this evening.

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I went by Northgate yesterday to pick up my makeup and gift. Lancome Liz wasn't there; in fact there was no one at the Lancome counter or any of the surrounding counters. I circled the Lancome counter a few times until finally Clarins Wanda came over and rang me up. Like all makeup counter women, she was wearing a scary amount of makeup. I don't get why saleswomen wearing ten times too much makeup is supposed to help sell makeup. Where is the makeup counter for women who want to look like normal people? It was kind of a bummer to have had to wait for my makeup, but the gift was pretty nice I must admit. It included enough stuff that the original purchase felt less exhorbitant.

Yesterday we started hanging art in the living room. The house is turning into a regular David Terry art gallery because of the art-for-web-design trading we've done. I had bought a couple of painting spotlights from Ikea but had never gotten around to using them before. They look pretty good I think! Brighten up the room. The electric cord hanging out the bottom isn't so nice, but at least it's white so it's not too obtrusive. And over the mantel I put the tallest picture right in front of the cord, to better disguise it.

Well it's December, time to be inundated with holiday cheer. Most importantly, it's time for non-stop Rankin-Bass animated specials on ABC Family channel. The best one is on right now: "The Year Without a Santa Claus." Heat Miser's doing his song at this very moment. Georg tells me that the voice of Cold Miser was provided by the guy who played the terrible actor playing Hitler in The Producers. I also like "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," the one with the misfit toys and Fred Astaire as the narrator/postman.

For sheer weirdness you can't beat "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus," based on a Frank Baum story in all its freaky pagan-fairy glory. I think in that one, Santa is a foundling who ends up being adopted by a wood nymph and a horned stag god. And instead of the Burgermeister Meisterburger, the villains are malevolant animal spirits. I guess Rankin and Bass must have been seriously running out of ideas by that point. And I have to say, with TV shows like that out there, it's no wonder fundamentalist Christians get a bee in their bonnet about Santa.

Lina goes to the veterinary teaching hospital in the morning. They called me this afternoon to confirm, so I took the opportunity to ask them exactly how much time we're going to be spending there over the next couple of days. They said that tomorrow is the consultation. If she's cleared for surgery they'll keep her tomorrow night and do the surgery on Thursday. I wish she could come home with me tomorrow night, but on the other hand I'll be spending less time driving back and forth to Raleigh. Poor dog, she has no idea what she's in for.

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If you're not interested in food, skip this entry. OK, our dinner at Morimoto. Was totally fabulous! The directions on the website were easy to follow, although it was raining so hard that night that poor Georg still had a tough time of the drive. I had wanted to get a photo of the front entrance but again, heavy rain, so I had to skip it.

We had allowed a lot of extra time in case we had problems with the directions, and we ended up getting there about 20 minutes early. It wasn't that crowded, maybe because of the holiday weekend, so they seated us right away. In retrospect maybe we should have gone up to the lounge just to see it, but we didn't think of that at the time.

The interior was not large but impressively designed. The side walls were concrete carved with this swirly pattern, and the ceiling was hardwood that curved against the wall. Way in the back was the sushi bar, where Chef Morimoto was working when we came in. The booths had plexiglass dividers between them, lit from inside, that changed color! We wondered if there was some kind of gas inside the plexiglass, because the color seemed to start out at the bottom, where the lights were, and then gradually work its way up to the top. As if maybe there was something in there absorbing the colored light.

Morimoto was working the sushi bar when we got there, then after about a half an hour he walked around and talked to a few tables, then he disappeared downstairs, to the office I guess. I didn't have the nerve to introduce myself to him, but I did snap a photo while he was chatting up a table near us. Unfortunately the photo is really blurry because the restaurant was so dim. I can say that his ponytail has gotten really long and he now has a goatee.

My sister used to date the sous-chef there, so we asked if Cliff was working that night. Only to find out that he had just left! He's moving to California and his last day was the Sunday before. What a bummer to have missed him by only five days. I liked Cliff, was looking forward to saying hello to him and maybe getting his recommendation on what to order.

Without the inside scoop from Cliff, we decided to go with omakase, the chef's choice tasting menu. I was a little concerned about getting something I wouldn't like, but the waitress said it was fine to request no raw shellfish. So that's what we did.

I should say that the service was excellent. Very attentive without being overbearing. We had one waitress who was basically in charge of our table, but the dishes were served by a number of different people. There were chopsticks on the table when we were seated, but they brought out additional silverware as necessary for each omakase dish (and took it away after each dish so we had clean silver every time). Also I was pleased that none of the staff looked askance at my snapping photos of every dish. I bet they're used to that, with a celebrity chef and all.

My only complaint was that the restaurant was so loud, it was sometimes hard to hear the descriptions of the dishes. (With omakase you have no idea what you're getting until it arrives, so we really wanted to hear the descriptions.) The noise, caused by that high wooden ceiling, I bet, also made it nearly impossible to hear the music. Which is too bad because it sounded like a nice downtempo mix. I swear I heard snatches of "Omid" by Theivery Corporation followed by something from Dzihan & Kamien's latest album. I wonder if someone will release a Morimoto CD, like every hip restaurant in all of Paris has done.

First course: toro. This was the only course where Georg and I got different dishes. Which set up false hopes that it would happen every time, and therefore we'd have twice as dishes to try. However, at other tables that ordered omakase I noticed that they were all getting the same dishes as well. In fact from a distance they looked like the same dishe we were getting. Which made me wonder if they have one omakase menu per night.

In any case, back to the toro. Toro is tuna belly, fattier and therefore more flavorful than maguro (leaner cuts of tuna). I had seared toro and Georg had toro tartare. In both dishes the toro was sort of ground into a paste, which lost the texture of the fish but made it light and very lush. Georg's toro tartare was in a bowl of soy-based sauce with a bit of caviar on top. On the side was a fruit that tasted sort of like a raspberry, and a dab of fresh wasabi. Which, wow. I guess all I'd ever had before was reconstituted, because this had a totally different texture and a different flavor as well. More flavor, I should say, rather than just heat. I even ate a dab of it by itself, which I would never do with the regular stuff.

My seared toro was only heated very lightly, so still pretty raw. Which suited me fine; it would have been a waste of that silky texture to cook it all the way through. It was topped with a basil sauce, caviar, red onions, sliced tomatoes, and sliced jalapenos. Which I did not eat, but the fish was still nicely hot from having had the jalapenos on it.

Second course: chilean sea bass. This was the only food photo that really disappointed me; it was the only one that despite my efforts ended up looking shiny and glisteny and gross. We wondered if maybe it was because the fish had an oily sauce that reflected too much light. Whatever the reason, the bass looked much more appetizing in this photo than in real life. It was seared, so again, mostly raw, with a gingery oil-based sauce.

Third course: sashimi plate. This was a sizeable chunk of red snapper, and two strips of salmon rolled around each other in a flower shape. Unfortunately you can't see the salmon because it was hidden under an extremely thin slice of Japanese turnip. The fish was accompanied by some kind of small peppery green, a few bonito (dried fish) shavings, and a sesame oil sauce. My only complaint about this dish was the piece of snapper was big enough to be a bit unmanageable. In contrast, the thin slices of salmon were just perfect. But at least they had provided us with a knife.

Palate cleanser: wasabi sorbet. This really didn't taste much like wasabi to me; it just had a nice, light sharpness. Honestly, if I'd had to guess I would have said it was lemon. But if you really tried to taste the wasabi, you could tell it was there. Served with a "wasabi beignet," which was a tiny little pastry in which the delicate sharp flavor was even less distinct. Probably because the other ingredients were stronger than in the sorbet.

Fourth course: halibut. First cooked dish. The halibut was steamed, topped with black bean sauce and some kind of shredded green (scallion I think), and served on a banana leaf. The neat thing is that the banana leaf was folded up in a tent shape when it came to the table, and the waitress popped it open as she described the dish. I wish I could have gotten a photo of it folded up too.

Fifth course: kobe beef. Our only non-fish dish excepting dessert. It was served with teriyaki sauce, on top of "japanese yam potatoes," which are much less orange and less sweet than sweet potatoes. The texture was also firmer, more like a potato, but that may be from cooking technique. Teriyaki sauce isn't my favorite thing, probably from eating too many dishes where a thick, overly sweet and overly salty sauce is used to conceal inferior meat. Still, in this case the sauce was light and not so salty, and the beef was of course superlative. Rarer than what I normally like (I'm a bit of a philistine when it comes to beef, I can't eat rare and even medium-rare is sometimes iffy) but the slice was so thin that I could appreciate the flavor and juiciness without being grossed out by how rare it was.

Sixth course: sushi. From left to right: toro (fatty tuna), hamachi (yellowfin tuna), tai (red snapper), kohada (shad), and unagi (eel). Do I even need to say how good this was?

We had already had toro and tai in previous courses, but I didn't mind at all about the toro since it's hard to find in NC sushi restaurants. Also I didn't mind about the snapper because, while it would have been nice to try a different fish, we could have ended up with ika (squid) or tako (octopus) or some other thing I wouldn't have been comfortable eating. (I have tried them both, once, so I don't feel bad about never wanting to eat them again!) Maybe my "no raw shellfish" request translated to "only unchallenging raw dishes," I don't know.

Unagi is a favorite of Georg's but I'd never had it before. There's just something psychological about eating eel that bothered me, even knowing that it's cooked and has barbecue sauce so I would probably like it. Well, I decided that if there was ever a time to try unagi, this was it. And I must say, once I stopped thinking "oh my god I'm eating eel, eww," it was really really good. So tender it practically dissolved. Georg said that unagi is usually chewier than that, so I don't know if I'm going to start ordering it on a regular basis. But still, it was nice to eat it and enjoy it this time.

Seventh course: dessert. My sister had warned me that she didn't like the wasabi tiramisu, but we didn't get that, so no need to worry about whether we'd like it or not. Instead we got "Irish Coffee": a dish of sweet whipped cream with a thick coffee syrup at the bottom, and a big dab of strawberry sorbet on top. An odd, but fortuitous, combination. On the left of the plate is "wasabi candy." I couldn't taste wasabi at all, although Georg insisted that he could taste a hint of that sharpness. And on the right is "Japanese jelly candy," which had the texture of a lemon square and was not at all sweet. In fact, none of the dessert was sweet excepting the strawberry sorbet.

My mother mentioned learning from her Japanese ESL students that sweet desserts aren't popular in Japan among adults, and in fact most men won't eat sweets at all because it's considered unmasculine. She said that it's strange for them to come here and see men in restaurants happily eating a big slice of cake or ice cream sundae, because in their minds sweets are appropriate for children and women. That actually explains some comments I've heard on Iron Chef about desserts. For instance once the panel were served a dessert that sounded like it was more bitter than sweet, and one of the judges (a young male athlete) said something to the effect that he wasn't "mature" enough to enjoy it.

So that was the Morimoto experience. Really amazing. My only disappointment in the food was that we didn't get the "yosedofu," fresh tofu made at the table. I've heard that it's amazing. I guess we'll just have to go back and try it!

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