Month: August 2007


I came home Monday to this:
Ben left a pillow in her crate. When I took her out she was wobbly and bloated, but very happy. What a nut. Ever since they she has been really sneezy. It seemed worse this morning, and yesterday she was kind of lethargic. Overall she’s seems like her happy normal self with a good appetite. From what I gleaned on the internet, the most likely causes are:
1) foreign object in nose
2) a cold
3) allergies
Number one would be most likely, since she’s been rubbing her nose and the fluff incident is when the sneezing started. But teh internets said any nose running would be only on one side, where the object is, and would have blood in it. She has just a small, clear, bilateral runny nose. Thus #2 or 3 matches. Especially since she was tired all day yesterday. But what can I do about it? Pretty much ride it out. I read that an untreated dog cold will run its course in about two weeks, and treated with the vet’s meds it will be gone in about 14 days 😉 I think we’ll wait to see if she gets worse being seeking help.

Generous Neighbors share their gardens

Delicious grilled burgers with roasted Anaheims, sweet onions, and green beans.

Strawberries filled with cream cheese frosting!

Baked sandwich loaf with pork loin, onion, and cheddar, with carrots and yellow squash.

What a haul!!!

Brian made the chicken cordon bleu and oven fries. I made the garlicky yellow squash with basil and glazed carrots with thyme.

Jem’s away, the Cat will play

Ben took Jem to Iowa for a friend’s wedding reception (yes, the drove). So Molly and I have two days with the house all to ourselves!! I’m going to vacuum up a storm and wash every sock Jem has tussled around the house. The other day I counted NINE socks in the basement. Oy.

Things are crazy for me now. School starts in about a week. I’m taking Anatomy and Physiology II, Nutrition, and then a whole bunch of classes I don’t want. Because Regis is a Jesuit school their undergrad program has philosophy and religious studies requirements. Although CU covered religion and philosophical thought in all of my liberal arts classes (which were many), none of them will transfer to Regis. Thus I have to take NINE additional courses this semester, just in case I get into Regis (which is my top choice, so I guess it’s worth it) (9 is the number of the day, eh?). So I’m adding Comparative Religions, Logic, and Old Testament to my schedule.

Meanwhile, work is changing too. The company I’ve been with since I graduated college is closing. They’ve failed to get any new contracts during the last year, so I can’t count on regular hours, benefits, or anything. Basically I’ll be coming in a couple hours each week to check phones, faxes, and emails to keep our single study running until it’s scheduled end in March. Good thing Ben has found such a great job that he loves to keep us going. I’m picking up some hours doing data entry for his boss, but it’s not much.

Also this week I volunteered to help the local cat shelter, Angels with Paws. I’ve spent 6 hours there so far, feeding, cleaning, and giving TLC. It’s a no-kill shelter, which I’m not sure I agree with. So many cats just won’t be adopted, because they’re too old, too mean, or too sick. It’s sad but true. I guess there is a barn in the mountains they can take cats who they deem to be lost causes. But I wonder if that’s really any better than putting them down. Anyway, I’m enjoying helping out. They’re short staffed and are over capacity for cats and kittens. More than help, they need people to take the cats home! If you are at all interested in a pet please come take one. I met at least three on my first day I would love to take home, if I didn’t already have Jem and Molly. My rule is we have to have more humans than animals in the house (fish don’t count).

Needless to say, my weekly schedule is fairly erratic these days. I really hope when school starts I can find a rhythm.

Tacos and garden goods

Before the trip I did some cooking.

Homemade tortillas! So easy a good, I’m making them again tonight. I plugged in my crepe griddle on the porch to keep the kitchen cool. I got the tortilla recipe out of the big yellow Bittman book.

I’ll be honest, this picture is just to make Amanda drool:

Turkey and gouda sandwich with steamed green and wax beans from Greg’s garden. I still have more beans, and Ben brought home a giant zucchini today. It’s tough keeping up!

Photolog of Niagara

Get ready for a lot of pictures!

First things first, we had to get Buffalo wings in Buffalo. They were pretty good, but this menu (on left) clued to the fact that this region is not known for its culinary crafts. In addition to hot wings and being the birthplace of Cool Whip, local foods include Beef on Weck, Fried Bologna sandwich and Loganberry juice (tastes like really really sweet cranberry juice).

The next morning we hopped in our rented PT cruiser (like that, Amanda?) and drove the 30 minutes to Niagara Falls, NY.

The American side is pretty much a ghost town. Had we known this, we would have headed into Canada sooner. But we had a fun time doing the American park tours anyway. If you go, don’t bother walking through town like we did. There’s literally nothing there but empty malls, overpriced bad Indian buffets, and a Denny’s.

But the Falls are amazing.

The observation tower behind Ben, and the American and Bridal Veil Falls.

The Maid of the Mist tour was really fun. I wished I had gotten a picture of the dock assistant, but it was too wet. Once we set off on the river he sat in a glass room (in green on the top deck) and did word search puzzles with headphones on, while we tourists ooo-ed and gawked at the majesty. I imagine it got boring after his first day working there. It was hilarious watching the falls dump buckets on deck, soaking the tourists who screamed and squealed, while he calmly did his puzzles 🙂

I took the above shot from the Skylon so you can see how wet we get, without even getting that close to the mist in Horseshoe Falls. It was amazing!

Since we were already a little wet, we hiked up Crow’s Nest to get up close and personal with the fall. Then we were REALLY wet.

Waiting for the educational and corny IMAX movie Niagara: Miracles, Myths, and Magic, we tried to keep our legs warm by rolling up the wet pants. How corny? Annie, the first to go over the falls, took a kitten with her. In the movie it’s a black kitten going in, and a scared white kitten coming out. Lots of footage of dummies and barrels going over the falls. I’d like to know how many takes they had to do because the objects weren’t visible enough.

The Cave if the Winds is a bit misleading, as there is no cave. It collapsed some years ago. You go down an elevator, through a hall with (lots of condensation on the ceiling) and then walk along wooden platforms (rebuilt every year after the ice melts) and get really close to Bridal Veil.

You can see people on the platforms in the pictures I took from the Maid of the Mist boat above.

Nearby is a monument to Nikola Tesla. Ben got an urgent call from his work he had to take. Luckily he got it fixed via phone.

Onto Canada!

Does anyone know what this animal is? Besides this rodent and a few squirrels, there were surprisingly few wild animals. I figured there’d at least be raccoons eating trash, but none to be seen.

There were fireworks Friday night.

Saturday morning we had a buffet on top of the Skylon. Spectacular views.

On the observation deck. It took a lot of willpower to pass by these red stairs leading to a “Danger” marked door. They made it so tempting!

Our hotel is the shorter building across the street from the casino, with red/pink glass on the upper floors.

Guess which plate belonged to me and Ben.

Jay Cochrane about to do his walk. Me enjoying the gardens.

I love that this sign felt it needed to include (Tourist Area), just so people aren’t confused.

After getting Slush Puppies we went back to the hotel for our car. To get away from the tourists and rest our legs we drove into town to see the Simpsons movie. Meh. But it was nice to see some real local stuff. I love the name of the coffee shop in the theater.

We drove further into Canada to St. Catherine’s. Malls in Canada look the same as the US.

We tried poutine at the food court. Truly gross.

The grocery store had a few different things, but mostly it’s the same conglomerate brands like Kraft and Pillsbury, selling similar products under different names than in the US.

Still, they had four kinds of eggplant! And their milk comes in bags!

Back to the falls for food and some final wandering.

I LOVED this picture in our hotel bathroom, but never found it, or any other historical reprints for sale.

The one really great meal I had is above. A delicious burger with bourbon carmelized onions, bacon, and sweet potato fries. The falls at night were crazy crowded.

And that’s pretty much it! Again, thank you to my parents for helping us stay here, and thanks to Brian for looking up things online as needed, and even though we had a tough time getting home, it was a great way to celebrate our 5 years together.

Shuffle back from Buffalo

This is just a quick note to say that Ben and I had a great vacation, and are now home safe. Niagara was really fun. Some parts were a little disappointing (The American side is a complete ghost town!) but we were in such good spirits that we still enjoyed it. Our hotel was wonderful (thank you mom and dad!) and the Canada side was great. The falls were majestic.

Unfortunately the ending was marred by traveling woes. We got to the airport smoothly, easily checked in, waited for an hour, and boarded the plane 20 minutes early. The pilot announced that there was a maintenance problem being checked, and he’ll get back to us when he knows more. At 11:00 am, scheduled take-off time, he announces that the wing has been dented, they don’t know how or when, and they’re measuring it to see if its flyable. 15 minutes later he says it’s definitely not flyable and we should all deplane and wait at the gate. So we do. Here is where we start to realize that Delta’s customer service is completely inept. They continue to tell us to wait at the gate every so often, lasting 40 minutes. At that time they announced that the plane is unflyable (which we already knew) and that we all need to go back through security to the ticketing counter to rebook a different flight. They didn’t have any other planes so they just cancelled the flight. This is 1.5 hours after the original announcement. The whole crowd runs out of the terminal to the ticketing booth. The “customer service/ticket reps” wave us away and point to the 4 phones that say “Reservations.” They refuse to help us personally. After 5 or 10 minutes we realize those phones are just connecting people to the general 1-800 number, so we all call on our cells. We’re told the only option for getting to Denver is flying standby. Ben and I refused, especially since this is a small airport anyway, thoroughly booked, and now all our fellow passengers are probably also going to fly standby. Luckily they agreed to refund the whole ticket price. After pushing through the crowds to the customer service desk we learn our luggage has been dumped at the claim center. There was no general announcement about it.

After getting our luggage we go to Jet Blue, hoping to get to Denver via another airline. They can do it for almost $500. I want to look at other airlines, but Ben insisted that Jet Blue was the cheapest and that our best option is to DRIVE TO DENVER. At this point I’m very upset and starting to feel hopeless. So Ben pushes me to the car rental desks and we find that there is indeed a Budget car we can take to Denver for $97. I told Ben that I wanted to check for other flights, and again he says this is the best choice and goes ahead and makes the contract to drive to Denver. I only didn’t protest because at this point I was so beat, and the sticker price seemed so much cheaper. Ben said we could get home in 19 hours and that it would be FUN. I did not agree, but went along anyway. It was miserable. 10 miles away I knew he had made a big mistake. My parents reported that google maps says it is a 25 hour drive. we had 24 hours to get the car back to the DIA, or we’d be charged another day. At least we really got 26 hours because of the time zone change. So now we were driving on unknown roads, fast, all night, with a time limit. I was stressed to the bone. Oh, and the car smelled like cigarettes.

I could go on and on about the wretched last 24 hours. It was horrible. I never want to drive cross country again, and I let Ben know several times how mad I am that he pushed me into this. The only reason I sort of agreed was I figured it would be cheaper. But with all the gas and snacks needed to fuel the drive, and the lost wages for missing work today, and the danger of driving at night through fog and heavy rain, it was totally not worth it. If he had just stopped to think through his decision instead of grabbing the first solution that pops in his head and then romanticize it and bully me into agreeing, we would have taken a later, leisurely flight and gotten home last night.

That’s all I’m going to say about it. I wish our great trip hadn’t ended on such a foul note, but I can’t change things now. We’re home in one piece, the animals are all fine, and with no work at least he could drive me to and from the mechanic to get badly needed new tires on my car. So now that I’ve shared, we’ll pretend it didn’t happen. Later when I’m more rested I’ll upload some photos from the good part of our trip. Going to sleep now.

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