Friday, January 30, 2009

Paint ... Pack ... Repeat ...

Sorry that seems to be the only refrain I have going on right now but things are getting down to the wire what with "the muscle" coming over tomorrow to move the bulk of stuff out of of the old house and into the new. I've got two walls to finish in the bedroom over at the new place today and then that room will be all set to have furniture moved in and curtains hung and all that good stuff.

Once I get home from that task, it's going to be pack, pack, pack as there's still so much stuff all over the place, it isn't funny. Where are worker elves when you need 'em?? In the meantime, I continue to be absent from the Blogosphere and for that I apologize but I promise to catch up once I'm caught up!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Believe It or Not - A Very Quick Update!

It's Thursday morning and time to head back over to do some more painting before going into work this afternoon. I'm hoping to get a good part of the bedroom finished so that it has plenty of time to dry tonight and I can do the finishing touches tomorrow before we start moving furniture in on Saturday. Wish me luck!

Jamie had said that perhaps I'd want to "go to the mattresses" and bring in some of the mob to help me out with all this but not knowing any of the Rhode Island mafia personally, I think I'm going to have to continue to do it on my own and then "hit the mattress" later on to rest up!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Midweek Musings

So ... just an update as to what's happening with the move and the painting and the rest of my life (do I have a "rest of my life??). First and foremost, I am bummed as the photography class that I was really looking forward to taking got canceled because the instructor is apparently "laid up". Not exactly sure what that means - bum knee? bum back? bum other body parts? - but what it does mean is that the 8-week class is now the O-week class. Rats! Guess I'm just going to have to continue to struggle along on my own until something else makes itself available. I just wish I had known this earlier in the day as I could have gotten more painting done.

Speaking of painting, I had forgotten how long it takes to get a room ready for painting and how much I hate going up and down a ladder! After getting most of the bedroom taped off (I still have a small bit to do on the ceiling), I did the cut-in painting on the walls where I am using the darker wine color. It looks like the color is going to be a little darker than I originally anticipated but I really think it will still look good with the contrasting lighter walls. The trim is staying white so that will keep it bright in places, too, and it's a definite improvement over the white primer that was there.

Amanda helped me out a little bit when she got out of school yesterday but I kind of had to laugh as she had no clue how to hold a paintbrush or apply paint to a wall. This from the kid who is an artist! She ended up with paint splatters all over the drop cloth and paint pouring down the handle of the brush so I had to give her a second lesson. No doubt by the time she's done painting her own room she'll be an expert but for now it was pretty funny! Wait till she tries a roller for the first time! I'm sure I was just an inept the first time I tried painting a room but that was so long ago, I really can't remember!

The current house is still in no condition to be moved at all. There is stuff all over the place in various piles and places but it's more like moving the mess from one place to another. With my son, his friend, and Andrew coming over to do the moving of the bigger stuff on Saturday, I feel like I am going to be woefully unprepared. Considering that I've also got to work for the next 3 days and try to get in some more painting time, too, this is not going well at all. I need more time! Or a clone of myself who can help out!

We're looking at a big snowstorm here in the Northeast again today so Amanda has been told that when she gets up that she needs to sort through stuff in her room and get rid of things she doesn't want and box up things she does want. Hopefully she can stay off the computer long enough to do that. She's done a good job in the dining room where a lot of her stuff accumulates but there's still a bunch of stuff in her room, too. I rather wish I had a day off to be snowed in and go through things but alas, it's my 16-hour Wednesday shift and I'll be at work thinking about all the things I could be doing at home!

Ah well ... that's about it ... pretty boring stuff, eh? Hopefully this will all be over soon and then my whole life won't revolve around this move as it's doing now. I keep telling myself "this time next month it will be over" in the hopes that will get me through but it doesn't work all the time! Anyone got a better chant I can use?!?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The New Home - The "Before" Edition

Whilst chatting with my old friend and confidant, MizCyn, Sunday night about the new place I'm moving to she mentioned that it might be nice if I were to do a Before & After post showing pictures of the inside of the house before we move and then pictures after I get everything moved in and settled.

Seemed like a plausible idea to me so after swinging by Home Depot and picking up some paint yesterday evening, Amanda and I went by the new humble abode and dropped off a few boxes and took a few pictures. Oh, and if the fast food we grabbed at Wendy's on the way over counts as the first meal in the new place, I guess we did that, too!

Without further ado then, I give you the inside of the new home ...


Now, as you can see, the walls in my room are a very stark white and that's just not going to work so I picked up a couple gallons of paint to take care of that problem. Initially I was going to go with a light lavender sort of color but then a completely different shade caught my eye and instead I'm going with a soft plum and slightly darker wine combination. I'm going to try something different this time and do two walls in one color and the other two in the other to give the room a bit of contrast. I'm not sure exactly how it's going to come out but I have high hopes and am glad I just don't have to prime the walls first as that's obviously already been done!

As for Amanda's room - expect major transformations there as she's going for a black & white stripe pattern with red on the windows and other trim work. She did ask our new landlady if it would be okay for her to paint her room in that fashion and Winnie, who has proven to be a true sweetheart thus far, told her to go right ahead and she would even reimburse us for the cost of paint. While we were getting the paint at Home Depot, the girl who was mixing it for us told Amanda that she was very lucky that her Mom was letting her paint her room that way as her parents always told her no when she suggested something out of the ordinary for her room. Amanda said that she knew she was lucky but I just hope she remembers that when she gets frustrated putting several coats of paint on the trim and it feels like the job is never going to be done! That's her project and I'm going to do my best to stay out of it (anyone want to take any bets as to whether I end up picking up a paintbrush or not??).

Ah well, I guess it's back to packing and purging for me. I've so far managed to haul a good seven bags of stuff to the local clothes donation bin and piled even more bags up by the side of the road for the garbage men so progress is being made! I'll be spending a good part of today putting some paint on the new bedroom walls before taking a nice hot shower and going for my first photography class. It's going to be a busy day but I think it will be a productive one!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Post Party Post Prior to Packing!

This is going to be a busy week what with starting to pack up and move things over to the new place (perhaps I'll need some Ephedrasil hardcore to keep me going!), hoping the predicted snow for this week doesn't mess up the big part of the move on Saturday, starting a photography class tomorrow night, and still trying to work but I wanted to post a couple quick pictures from this weekend's party as promised.

First, let me just say that I had a wonderful time and I want to thank American for putting on the party every year. It's so nice to see everyone all dressed up and away from work. In these days of economic downturn, I'm sure it would be a lot easier for the company to cancel the party but instead this year we had it at a very nice venue with food that was very tasty. Even though Dispatch & Scheduling inadvertently got skipped over again when it came time to rattle off statistics for the year, that faux pas was made up for by extra drink tickets given to us and a promise that it won't happen again next year. Thank you, Michael, and I guess we'll see about that come next January!

The Employee of the Year award was given to the person whom I thought would get it - Warren. The winner is a part-time EMT but he spends a lot of time up at the local minor league ballpark in Norwich every summer working at the home games. He's called "Mr. Baseball" by some and rightly so as he practically lives in the EMS room at Dodd Stadium from April to September! Warren has got one of the most positive attitudes ever and he's always smiling and happy. He's also a Building Inspector for the City of Norwich who came out to check my lack of hot water situation but that's just a side point!

For those who left comments and said they hoped that I would win the award - thank you but I won it back in 2004 and am pretty sure I will never get it again. Heck, I don't even win Employee of the Month anymore but I guess that's pretty much standard operating procedure. I don't think that I'm less of a good worker since getting the award, I think they just prefer to give it to others who haven't received it before. At any rate, I get to stand at the front of the room with the other former Employees of the Year as they name the new one and that's always a privilege and an honor (especially considering I get to stand next to Paul who has a great sarcastic sense of humor!). My award will always be extra special to me because I know that I won it based on the opinions of those people whom I dispatch - the road personnel - rather than the opinions of management and even though it would be nice to know that management thinks I'm doing a good job, it's more important to know that the backbone of the company thinks I do a good job. That's job satisfaction right there.

Anyhow, I did say quick photos, didn't I, and here I am babbling on and on when there are a ton of things to do around the house. After I get moved, perhaps I can do a better post with a better explanation of some of the pictures that are going around Facebook (thanks, Jen!) but in the meantime, here are some of the more "conservative ones" ...

From left to right on this one - myself, Jennifer from scheduling, Jen my dispatch partner, Chica from scheduling, and Frank - part-time dispatcher for us and full-time Fire Inspector God at the Mohegan Tribal Fire Department!

Myself and Andrew - my very favorite paramedic of all time and the guy I look forward to borrowing from his wife for one slow dance every year. Thanks again, Bethany!

Myself and JM - the guy I took as my guest to the party so that he could catch up with all of his old buddies from work (JM left American this year to move to Hartford to start paramedic school).

Now, if you see any other pictures over on Facebook that look like more went on than it did with myself and JM, those were simply just fooling around for the camera and not my idea. I can assure you that nothing inappropriate happened and the drought still stands at six years plus and rising. Oh, and as for the "garter" - that's the corsage that I get as a former Employee of the Year and I chose to wear it as an anklet rather than a wristlet.

I'm probably going to be quite absent from the Blogosphere for the rest of this week as there is much to do in order to get nine years worth of accumulated stuff moved from Point A to Point B but I may pop in to post something on occasion. As for visiting everyone else, that's probably not going to happen and for that I apologize. If anything big happens to any of you, please email me and let me know as I will be able to respond to email and though I should be able to read posts while I'm at work through my Reader, I'm not going to be able to comment. I hope that makes sense!

Alright, I need to quit procrastinating and start packing - my days off this week are going to fly by!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Scenery with Lee

sundayscenerybutton_lg

I really want to thank Lee of Tar Heel Ramblings for inspiring me to start posting scenery pictures on Sunday and then for turning it into his very first meme as it really makes it easy for me to figure out what to post on Sundays now. Working 16-hour shifts makes it a little tricky for Sunday blogging but being able to do Sunday Scenery, the Photo Meme solves the problem nicely for me! Feel free to join us and make your Sundays easier, too!

For this week's scene I take you to the icy waters of the Thames River which flow from Norwich down to the Long Island Sound.

The Frozen Thames

If it looks cold, that's because it IS cold and yet there were some die-hard fishermen standing along the banks in an area that was a bit more open casting their lines. Seems to me if you want to get frozen fish, it's easier just to head to the frozen food section at the local grocery store but I guess that takes a bit of the sport out of it!

Everyone have a great Sunday and don't forget to swing by Lee's and check out the rest of this week's Sunday Scenery entries!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Of Parties and Shoes

Today is going to be a very busy day as I will not only be trying to get some moving stuff taken care of but tonight is the employee party that American Ambulance holds for us every year. They call it the holiday party but considering we are way past Christmas and Valentine's Day is nowhere in sight, I think of it just as the annual employee party and let it go at that.

No matter what you call it, though, I look forward to the party every year as it not only gives me a chance to dress up a little bit but it also gives everyone the opportunity to socialize outside of a work setting without having to worry about 911 ringing again or your ambulance being called out for an emergency. During the course of the evening there will be dining and dancing and service awards given out (I'm up for my five-year pin this year) as well as the naming of the Employee of the Year.

I think I have a pretty good idea of who is going to be getting the coveted parking space in the front of the building this year and if it's who I think it is, he well deserves it. That might sound funny as you would think that anyone who gets Employee of the Year deserves it but, unfortunately, sometimes it kind of feels like the person who should have received it got cheesed and it went to someone who knew how to play the game better. That's only happened once since I've been at American but still - I really had to wonder what the Executive Team was thinking that year but that's probably enough said on that before I get myself in trouble here!

Those of you with whom I am friends on Facebook will probably recall that I was on a mission last Saturday to find shoes to wear to tonight's shindig but was having no success in finding footwear that was both attractive and yet comfortable at the same time. Having back issues and being a bit of a clod when it comes to walking around in heels, I have to be really careful about what I put on my feet but at the same time, I don't want to look like someone's grandmother (even though I am, in fact, someone's grandmother!).

The Fashion Nazi's at work had strictly forbidden me to wear slippers or some snazzy black sneakers (which I thought might be kinda cute) but the search was proving to be quite futile until I stumbled across a website called Endless.com (and no, this isn't a paid post for them!). Like my other favorite shoe website, Zappos, this website promised free shipping both ways and they had a fantastic selection. I typed in the sort of shoes I was looking for, hit search, and was given pages and pages of some great-looking shoes at quite reasonable prices.

I narrowed my choices down to three different pairs, called Amanda into the living room for a consult, and ended up choosing this lovely pair here that cost me a mere $19.90 plus tax. They didn't have free overnight shipping, like a lot of the shoes did, but the website said I would have them in plenty of time and - sure enough - I did as they arrived on Wednesday. I figured if they weren't comfortable in real life I could send them back using the free return shipping and it would be no harm-no foul but they are quite comfortable and I was even able to take a walk around the inside of the house without turning an ankle - woohoo!

With any luck I'll keep the things on my feet all night though I wouldn't place any money on that as I never seem to keep my shoes on when I'm doing the dress-up thing. A lot of it is going to depend on how my back holds up and how much time I spend on my feet overall - perhaps I could sneak my slippers in with me just in case? Considering I don't usually spend a lot of time on the dance floor (being a clod not only limits my ability to wear high heels but also to dance), my feet should be just fine.

I'm really looking forward to the evening and will be sure to take pictures and let you know what a good time it was - and whether I was right on my guess for the new Employee of the Year! Of course, that post may be a little while in coming as I've got to be at work bright and early Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m. no matter what time I get home tonight and will be there until 11:00 p.m. - ugh! Methinks I may not get to that post until Monday at the earliest or maybe even Tuesday depending on how long it takes me to recover!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - The Change Version!

Lookingatthesky

I originally had a different picture that I was going to use for this Friday's fun new meme that Tisha at CrAzY Working Mom developed but changed my mind after taking this picture yesterday afternoon ...

Blue skies through my new tree

You can see a beautiful blue January New England sky through the bare branches of the tree that stands in what will be my new side yard at my new humble abode so I guess this counts as a "Looking at the Sky" picture, right?

In yesterday's post I had said that change was coming for Amanda and I and most of you were astute enough to figure out that I was referring to moving to a new home. This is a change that is long past due and one that - even though it's going to be a royal pain in the back and other body parts - is going to be well worth it. I vowed back in December that this was going to be the last winter I spent trying to get up and down two very steep hills and even though moving in January in Connecticut is not the easiest thing to do, the time has come to stop just thinking about it and do it.

I was very fortunate to find a lovely new place to move to which is not only within walking distance to Amanda's high school but that doesn't require the climbing of any hills to get to either! The neighborhood is a lovely older one (well, most neighborhoods in Norwich are old to be honest) and it's within walking distance of Yantic Falls and one my favorite Norwich haunts, the Yantic Cemetery.

Rather than living in a single family home, as I have been, we will be occupying the first floor of a large older house that is very well constructed and very well maintained. The hardwood floors are beautiful, the rooms are quite large, and there's even a wood-burning fireplace in the living room. With over 1,100 square feet there will be plenty of room for Amanda and I as well as Jamie when she comes up from Florida. There are things I'm going to miss about my current home - like the wonderful front porch - but it is definitely time for a change and I think this change will be quite beneficial for Amanda and I both.

The New House

This is a shot of the house from the front and, as you can see, the sky is just as beautiful and blue from this angle as it was from the other- the only difference here is that you get a few wispy clouds to boot! Speaking of beautiful skies, if you want to see other wonderful sky shots, make sure you check out Tisha's blog and visit the links!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go find some boxes!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Change!

Our new President isn't the only one who can promise change and hope as that's exactly what I am promising Amanda and myself in the coming weeks. Of course, the change is going to take up a lot of my free time (free time?? what the heck is that?!?) for the next couple of weeks so if I'm not able to do much blog-visiting it isn't because I don't want to but that other things are a little more pressing and time-sensitive.

I will elaborate more as time allows (and no, this change doesn't involve any Dwarf Little Gem Magnolia trees!) but for now, I have a doctor's appointment this morning and then am going to go acquire the keys of change and run a couple other errands before having to go into work.

I'll try to get around to visit everyone as time permits; in the meantime, please forgive my horrible visiting skills as commenting is going to be spotty at best until this change is complete!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stealing My Happiness Away

The older I get, the more I have come to the conclusion that it really is the small things that make me happy ... a warm breeze, beautiful cotton-like clouds, freshly changed sheets, a good book, being able to sleep in rather than get up at the command of my alarm clock, the scent of vanilla candles, and a good cup of coffee are some of the things that come to mind.

All small things that can be easily found or attained for the most part but sometimes there are those who try to take away some of my small bits of happiness ... those who didn't have the foresight to provide for their own happiness and try to steal mine away ...

Coffee!

Amanda the coffee thief Sorry, Amanda, if you had wanted a cup of liquid happiness, you should have ordered your own!

This one is mine!

My coffee!

Don't forget to scroll down to see who won my photography contest!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And the Winners Are ...

Before I announce the two winners of my Mouseski's Photographic Musings contest I'd like to ask you guys a favor ... Could someone please remind me that the next time I decide to have a contest that I need to find a better way to run it than one that requires me to fill out names on 185 tiny little slips of paper then fold those 185 tiny slips and put them in a container from which to pull the winners?? Please??

Of course, I'm really thrilled that there were 185 entries to begin with and I want to thank each and every one of you for your support in this endeavor. I'm pretty sure I'm never going to sell a photograph but it's still great to have the support and enthusiasm of people behind me encouraging me in my new-found hobby. And who knows? Maybe someday I will be pleasantly surprised!

Anyhow, enough about me! I'm sure you want to know about the winners!

Once all of the entries were placed inside the former Chinese take-out container (as I recall, the wonton soup that came in it was quite tasty!), I shook them up and made sure to mix them really well before reaching in and pulling out first one winner and then the other ...

Rob of In Times & Out Goals is the grand prize winner of the contest and will receive a 20" x 16" matted print of his choice. Rob left a comment on my RedBubbleSite that Making Tracks was his favorite picture but he's certainly entitled to change his mind and as soon as he lets me know for sure which picture he wants, I will send in the order and get his prize to him.

The runner-up is Sheila Kay and she will receive three greeting cards with her choice of photos. Sheila is a reader of my blog via The Norwich Bulletin website who signed up with RedBubble and left comments as well as sent me several very nice emails. Sheila grew up here in Norwich and she's enjoyed seeing my take on the area. Thank you so much for both your emails and your comments, Sheila, and be sure to let me know which photos you would like to see on your greeting cards. You can send me an email and let me know which pictures you'd like and where you'd like your cards shipped and I promise to not divulge your information.

Congratulations to both winners and again, thank you so much to everyone for playing along. I really wish that I could afford to send all of you a picture or two but alas, I am a little low on funds to be doing that! If, however, you ever find yourself in need of a picture or two (especially when you're stumped about what to get that certain someone who has everything!) then please visit Mouseski's Photographic Musings and help a starving artist reach one of her goals for the year; the goal being to sell one picture! There ... so much for shameless self-promotion!

Creative Photography

I've missed out on joining in with Roger's Creative Photography Meme for the past couple weeks as I just flat out kept forgetting to get a picture posted on time. I am beginning to seriously think that I need some of Miss Bee's fish oil what with this increasingly faulty memory of mine! Problem is, I keep forgetting to pick up any when I go to the store!

Speaking of Miss Bee, she's been "threatening" her readers-but-not-comment-leavers over at her blog and it's been working beautifully for her! I've been wondering if I should resort to the same sort of shenanigans that she pulls in order to get more of my lurkers to leave a comment or two ... after all, she's an Empress and I'm a Duchess so it may just be one of those royalty things. Hmmm ... Ah well, while I mull over what might be a good incentive to get some of you folks to leave a comment or two please take a gander at my pictures for this week's Creative Photography Meme!

Posted by Picasa

This neon sign at the Green Onion pizza restaurant up the road from us in Lisbon, Connecticut caught my eye last night while Amanda and I were waiting for our order so I popped out to the car to get my trusty Nikon in spite of Amanda's eye-rolling. Ah, teenagers, it's great when you can embarrass them in public! Makes up for just a little bit of the hell they put you through, doesn't it?!

Obviously because I took the shot from inside the building the words are backwards but I thought it looked pretty cool from that angle and I guess if you want to hold your computer monitor up to a mirror, you could see it forwards if you'd like! Once I got home, I used some of the new photo-editing tools at Photobucket to invert the colors and this is the result -

Posted by Picasa

I think it definitely adds a different sort of look to it and just might qualify as "creative"! For more great creative entries, be sure to swing by the Creative Photography blog and check out the links - there's some pretty cool stuff over there!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inaugural Irritations

I don’t know about the rest of you but I, for one, will be more than happy to see President-Elect Obama finally take the Oath of Office and become President Obama. Not because I think the man is going to be able to perform miracles and fix everything as soon as he sits behind the desk in the Oval Office but because I am sick to death of hearing about his inauguration and how it’s going to be the biggest party ever which comes along with the biggest price tag ever – a price tag four times higher than that of the most costly inaugurations of the past.

Nothing for nothing here, folks, but it doesn't seem right to me that with the entire country in an economic recession and people losing their jobs, their homes, their retirement plans, and everything else in between that over $160 million is being spent on Tuesday’s inauguration. What is wrong with this picture? Am I the only one who thinks this is complete and total craziness?

According to news sources, $35 million was raised by Obama for the inaugural committee - which normally pays for inaugural celebrations - but unless my math skills are even worse than they were in high school, that still leaves about $125 million for taxpayers to pick up the tab on. $125 million for an inauguration celebration in the midst of the worst economic crisis that I can ever remember.

Somehow this whole thing just leaves a really, really bad taste in my mouth and whether this inauguration is “historic” or not there should have been some restraint taken when it came to spending. I get the feeling that everyone is trying to make up for past transgressions where racial equality is concerned by throwing the biggest shindig America has ever seen but one gi-normous party is NOT going to make up for the years and years of inequality no matter who attends the event.

Carole Florman, spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, told the New York Daily News:
"We're always very budget conscious. But we're sending a message to the entire world about our peaceful transition of power, and you don't want it to look like a schlock affair. It needs to be appropriate to the magnitude of events that it is."
Excuse me?? Is that supposed to mean that past inaugurations were “schlock affairs”? Does that mean you can’t have a really nice inauguration for less than $160 million? Does that mean that we here in America really are all just about appearances? Or is this more of that “we’re going to treat the new First Family like Hollywood Royalty” mindset that we’ve all heard so much about? It seems to me that the real message we’re sending to the entire world is “hey, no matter how broke we are, there’s always money to spend on a good time!”

And some people wonder why other countries hate us … yeah, right …

Regardless of what it means or doesn't mean, though, I will be quite glad when all of the hoopla is said and done and our new President can finally get down to the real business at hand – running the country and maybe digging us a little bit out of the ever-widening hole that we’re in ... a hole that’s apparently NOT deep enough to cause worry when it comes to spending an AWFUL lot of money on a big ole' par-tay the likes of which Washington has never seen.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Scenery

sundayscenerybutton_lg

My friend Lee at Tarheel Ramblings has come up with a new Sunday photo meme for folks to participate in with some very simple rules or - even simpler! - perhaps no rules? As Lee puts it ...

"There are no real rules for participation. All you have to post a favorite photograph and come back here on Sunday morning to link your post to mine. I do ask that you post only photographs you can claim the copyright to (in other words, you clicked the shutter). That’s all there is to it! Have fun and be sure to get out there and enjoy the Sunday Scenery!"

If you decide to play along there's even a couple of cool buttons from which to choose from over at Lee's place (like the one I have above) so click here, grab yourself one, and join in! This meme is a great way to keep it simple on Sunday and considering I usually work 16 hour shifts on Sunday - simple is good!

For my Sunday Scenery today I thought I'd post a picture of a building that I've taken pictures of before - the Slater Building at Norwich Free Academy where Amanda attends high school. I took this picture this past Monday when we had some beautiful clear blue skies.

Slater Towers

As an added bonus, I thought I'd also post pictures of the archways and doors that lead into the Slater Building as I just thought they were kind of cool and I love the architecture. They just don't build things like they used to!

Monday, January 12th

Whatever you do and wherever you go today, may your Sunday and your scenery both be beautiful!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Snaking My Way Through Another Post

Allow me to introduce you to the latest addition to our household ...

This is Tardis who is a baby Ultramel Anery Corn Snake. She has blue irises, ruby pupils, and various shades of grey scales; as she gets older she may develop yellow on the jaw-line and neck area.

Now I'm saying "she" at this point but for all we know, Tardis could be a "he" however Amanda says it's too early to tell and the owner of the pet store where we found Tardis wasn't sure either. Our guess is that Tardis is about two to three weeks old and he/she's very lovable and friendly.

For those of you who are Doctor Who fans, I'm sure you already know that TARDIS is a time machine - the acronym stands for "Time and Relative Dimensions in Space". Amanda has recently become a big fan of the show herself and thought it would make a cool name for a snake though I'm hoping that our Tardis doesn't do any time traveling of her own as she's already given me one major scare already and I'm not sure I'm ready for another.

Shortly after we got home with Solaris' replacement (and I do really wish that she'd show back up somewhere as I can't stand the thought of her freezing to death in the house), Amanda placed Tardis in the habitat in her room and made doubly sure that the lid was firmly attached. We had even bought a second set of clamps just to insure there wouldn't be another great escape. Considering that Tardis is less than a foot long and very petite I'm pretty sure she's not strong enough to pry the lid up but Amanda also took extra precautions by placing several large books on top of the lid, too.

About half an hour later Amanda went upstairs to check on her but couldn't find her anywhere. What?!? I went upstairs and checked through the substrate myself while I pulled out rocks and logs and the water bowl but sure enough - Tardis was not in the habitat. Are you freakin' kidding me?!?

I could not for the life of me figure out where she might have gone and Amanda was beside herself she was so upset. We both looked all over the room and I went through the habitat again taking out everything that was in there. No Tardis. All I could think is that Solaris had somehow reappeared, whispered the joys of the free life into Tardis' little snaky ears (do snakes have ears?) and helped her make good her escape leaving behind an empty habitat and a tearful teenager.

While Amanda sat in her room to try to pull herself together after the loss of yet another pet that she had quickly become attached to, I came back downstairs just not quite believing that the little snake that we had spent all afternoon visiting various pet stores to find had somehow escaped. It just didn't make sense!

A few minutes later I heard Amanda cry out "There you are!" and wondered if Tardis had somehow crawled out of an area we hadn't looked in. Turns out that she had crawled up into the very top of the hollow log and was sleeping in spite of the fact that both Amanda and I had picked up the log and looked into it. Amanda had looked one more time just in case and, because of her coloring, she wasn't easy to see so both of us completely missed her being there.

That's what Amanda thinks happened. I'm beginning to think that Tardis really did do a little bit of time traveling and for a short period of time escaped the confines of her habitat and journeyed through time and space to another place and dimension. At this point I'm beginning to think that perhaps Amanda should have named her Louisa instead!

Either way, I'm glad Tardis turned back up and I do hope she'll stick around this time as I honestly don't think that either I or Amanda can go through this again. If it does happen, you can bet your bottom dollar her next pet is going to be a Pet Rock and that's it!

Snake Gone Wild

So ... once I move out of the place where I currently live it seems that the landlord will be able to advertise it as a three-bedroom, one bath, two-story singe family dwelling complete with a snake hidden somewhere inside. Yep ... you read that right ... a snake hidden somewhere inside!

Photobucket

When Amanda went to go get Solaris out of her habitat to give her the weekly mouse that she has for food on Thursday, Solaris was nowhere to be found. Apparently sometime during the night the little escape artist had managed to wiggle her way out between the top of the habitat and the cover (though I still find it hard to believe that she was strong enough to push the thing up far enough to get out). We searched high and low in Amanda's room but there was no snake anywhere to be found.

Needless to say, Amanda was/is pretty upset about the whole thing but it wasn't due to any negligence on her part as she had both clamps attached tightly to the lid; Solaris just managed to find a way out somehow. Apparently she longed for the wild more than she did for domesticity or maybe she somehow placed a call to Westgate and made reservations at hotel in a warmer clime then left without telling us (yeah, yeah ... I know, I'm being silly on that one, snakes don't have fingers and can't make phone calls plus she would have needed me to drive her to the airport!).

Believe it or not, I feel badly about the whole thing not just because Amanda's pet has gone missing but because it's been darned cold here this week and only getting colder and I'm afraid that Solaris is going to freeze to death wherever she has gotten herself off to. I keep hoping she'll show up in a basket of laundry or something (even though I'm sure it would take a few years off of me to find her there initially) but Amanda doesn't think that's going to happen. She figures she got into a hole near the heat registers and is long gone. Which is too bad because I had kind of grown attached to her and had even spent some time holding her the other night while Amanda cleaned out her habitat.

This is why I don't like having pets - when you lose them for whatever reason it's just too upsetting - even when that pet is of the reptilian variety. See? I really am a softie but don't tell anyone, I've got a reputation to maintain!

Alarming Times Call for Alarming Measures

It seems that whenever a nation (such as ours) is going through tough economic times, you start to notice that certain things become more prevalent such as an increase in robberies whether it be a bank or store, an increase in homelessness, and even an increase in home invasions and break-ins. As it has been said in the past, "desperate times call for desperate measures" while people feel driven to make a choice between breaking the law and going to jail or trying to feed their families. That's not to say that everyone who robs a bank or store is trying to feed their family, some have other "addictions" they need to feed but I think you get the gist of what I'm trying to say.

At any rate, during times like this it's probably a good idea to think about perhaps investing in a home security system. I don't have one myself, and probably never will, but that's because I live in an area where home burglaries are not very common at all. That doesn't mean that they don't happen, though, and maybe I'm just being a little too trusting but I've always figured that if anyone broke into my house the only thing they were going to get was disappointed as I really don't own much of value that could be pawned (otherwise I'd probably be pawning it myself in order to keep myself afloat!).

It's too bad that people have to barricade themselves in their own homes behind security systems but reality is what it is and I have a feeling that regardless of who is being sworn into the Office of the President next week, change is going to be a long time in coming and those desperate times and desperate measures will continue. It's probably not a bad idea to protect yourself and those things you hold dear in the meantime.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday - The Orange Version!

It's Friday so that means it's time once again for us all to look up and take a gander at the skies with that CrAzY Working Mom of three - Tisha! As a mom of three myself (though the first two were really spaced quite a few years apart), I spent a lot of time looking up myself though I think most of it was in supplication to the heavens and wondering "WHY??"

This week's pictures come courtesy of the great view I have from my job in dispatch and the beautiful sunrise that we had last Saturday morning which was the proverbial "calm before the storm" as it was snowing pretty heavily by 3:00 that afternoon. I guess this one was pretty accurate when it comes to the saying of "red in the morning, sailor take warning" even though a lot of the sky was orange!

Be sure to stop by the home of Looking at the Sky on Friday and follow the links to see what other people saw when they took the time to look up and not down. Oh, and feel free to tell Tisha I sent you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I've Got a Question - You've Got an Answer

Lately I've been thinking a lot about moving to a different humble abode other than the one that I've been living in for nine years come April. The reasons are many and varied but one of the main reasons is the fact that I live on the side of two rather large hills and getting up and down the roads to my house during the winter months is sometimes downright impossible. Last winter there was a time when I couldn't stop on the snow-covered road and slid out into the main roadway (luckily no one was coming down the road and hit me) and then this winter I did that whole 180 degree turn in the middle of the road while taking Amanda to the train station. Neither time was cool and both times got me to thinking that it was perhaps time to seek housing on slightly more level ground.

In addition to that there are beginning to be problems with the house and, with a landlord who is more concerned with other areas of his life, I don't see any fixes on the horizon anytime soon. I can live with a roof that leaks a bit, a front door lock that sticks, and a dishwasher that is busted among other things but not having hot water since the weather turned cold is pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back so I am looking elsewhere in Norwich and have my fingers crossed that something suitable will turn up soon.

Moving, though, gives me mixed emotions as I've never ever in my entire life lived anywhere longer than I have lived in this house. Anything over two-and-a-half years is a record for me as I grew up a military brat, joined the military myself, and then continued to move every so often right up until I settled into this house in April of 2002. Moving was a way of life and I never minded it as my roots were shallow and it was easy to pull them up. This time the roots run a bit deeper and I'm going to have to dig a bit to get them out but get them out I will.

By now you're probably wondering what on earth all this has to do with any sort of a question but trust me - there's one here and I'm getting to it right now! While I was thinking about the fact that I finally managed to stay in one place for a good chunk of years before I got a major itch to move, I got to wondering how long most people live in one spot and so that's my question for this post -

What's the longest you have ever lived in one place and where was/is it?
I know that there are some people out there who spend almost the entirety of their lives in the same place, a concept that is very foreign to me!, but I'm sure there are others who have moved almost as much as I have. So, it's your turn - let's hear it from you while I peruse Craig'sList and see what's available in the Norwich area for a single mom, her teenage daughter, and a couple of well-behaved reptiles. Wherever it is, hot water is a must and no hills would be a major bonus!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More Norwich History - Dam!

Today's post is another shout-out of sorts to the people who come to visit my blog via The Norwich Bulletin website as it concentrates on another part of the local area and a little more local history. Maybe I can get one more lurker non-communicative reader to leave a comment like the very nice one that did yesterday (and thank you very much for that!).

Norwich, the place I've called home for the past almost-nine years, is located in a part of southeastern Connecticut where three rivers converge into one to become the Thames River, a rather short 15-mile river and tidal estuary that flows south before tumbling into the Long Island Sound in the area of Groton and New London. Those rivers are the Yantic River (of which I've written in the past), the Quinebaug River, and the Shetucket River. Today's post and pictures concentrate on the last of those three.

The Frozen Shetucket

Northwest of Norwich in the town of Willimantic, the Natchaug and Willimantic Rivers come together to form the Shetucket River, a 25-mile long tributary of the Thames River that ambles its way along a very rural path. The Shetucket River snakes its way southeast through the nationally designated Quinebaug Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor until it reaches a spot approximately four miles north of Norwich where it joins up with the Quinebaug River, an 80-mile river that originates from an unnamed pond in Union, Connecticut and several ponds northwest of Sturbridge, Massachusetts. At their junction prior to Norwich, both rivers broaden into a wide estuary which stretches southeast and finally joins the Thames River estuary on the south side of Norwich.

Shetucket River

Also known as "The Last Green Valley" of the sprawling metropolitan area between Boston and Washington, the Quinebaug Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor was designated by Congress in 1994. In 1999, Congress enlarged the Corridor to include several Quinebaug and Shetucket River Valley towns in both Massachusetts and Connecticut making the total number 35 towns in all, as well as numerous villages, in an area that covers 850 square miles. Norwich is one of those 35 towns located in the Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor.

Bank of the Shetucket

The Shetucket River, loosely translated as "the land between two rivers “ in the Mohegan-Pequot language, was used by the Pequot, Mohegan and Nipmuck peoples and their ancestors for hundreds of years for fishing, transportation and village sites. After English settlers built up Norwich, the Shetucket River was used as a major source of power for many of the mills that became an integral part of Norwich. Dams were built in both the Greeneville and Occum sections of Norwich so that the hydro-electric power could be harnessed and used by the many industries that helped Norwich to flourish and become the great manufacturing city that it once was.

Occum dam

In 1864 in the small Village of Occum, one of the former milltowns that was incorporated into Norwich, the Occum Dam was built by Moses Pierce and L. W. Carroll who formed the Occum Company and bought several acres of land along the Shetucket River where they were granted water rights. They constructed a dam that was 14 feet high and 800 feet long with a 2,000 foot long canal built along the west bank of the river that was designed to provide water flow to two woolen mills that were situated on the Shetucket. Joseph Converse and Sons, the first mill, was in operation until it burned down in 1982; in its place now stands a park named for Red McKeon, a longtime citizen of Occum and proponent of improving the area around the former mill site who dedicated 35 years of his life to the Occum Volunteer Fire Department.

Occum dam1

In 1934, the Norwich Gas & Electric Company (now known as Norwich Public Utilities and to whom I send a check every month) built a powerhouse that was put into operation in 1937. That same hydro unit is still in operation today and provides an average of 2,700 – 3,700 megawatt hours of clean and green renewable energy to the Norwich community each year. Some of which I pay for! The canal that was constructed by the Occum Company was buried under an embankment in the 1930's while in 1938, a hurricane washed out the east side of the dam and spillway structure along with the traffic bridge which was eventually rebuilt along with the parts of the dam that were damaged.

Shetucket in Winter

Prior to doing some exploring and picture-taking around the Occum Dam yesterday, I really didn't know much about this area myself but I've found that taking pictures of the local area then prompts me to do some research which in turn gives me a greater appreciation of the part of Connecticut I live in. I tell ya, if I had been given access to a computer and a digital camera back when I was in high school, I bet I could have written some kick-ass reports! Alas, now the only reports I make are to you, my readers who are probably sick to death of learning about the Norwich area! Aren't you guys glad I bought that Nikon?!?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Walk in the Park

If my stat counter is correct, I've got lots of readers that stop in by way of the Norwich Bulletin but alas, none of them ever seem to leave me any comments. Maybe I should have a mandatory comment day like Miss Bee does on occasion and then I could get a few of those folks to at least say "hi". Wouldn't that be nice? Well, I won't hold my breath for that to happen but I will do a local post for those who stop in from the local area and hopefully those of you who don't live in the general area might just enjoy it, too.

Park Entrance

Even though it was pretty darned cold yesterday, it was still a day with gorgeous blue skies and beautiful sunshine so after my once-a-month get-together with my friend Rhonda I decided to spend a little time outdoors enjoying the sun and taking some pictures. After all, you've got to soak up the sun while you can during the winter and what better way to do it then a trip to a local park? To that end, I drove over to Mohegan Park, a place some of you may remember from a post that I did in November.

Fencing

First off, I really need to give a shout-out to the Public Works folks here in Norwich as they did a fantastic job clearing off the roadways and pathways around the park. We had a bit of a snowstorm Saturday into Sunday that left not only snow but a layer of frozen precipitation on top of it that formed a crunchy crust. It's not the easiest stuff to clean up but I was very impressed with the cleared steps and parking lots as it made getting around the snow-covered park very easy.

Snow trees

The woods were quite beautiful as I made my way over to the playground area, a spot that I hadn't gotten to during my November visit.

Snowcastle

Snowscape

The playscape looked more like a snowscape and I thought the snow made some really cool patterns so I couldn't resist taking a picture or two.

Snowy Woods

Beautiful trees surround the playground area and even though I was hoping to maybe see a squirrel or two out enjoying the day, the woods were empty except for the trees.

Firetruck for Boukie

My friend Erik, who writes The Fire Insider, had wondered in a comment that he left on my other post about Mohegan Park if the fire engine was still there that he used to play on as a boy growing up in Norwich. Even though this one is obviously fairly new, it's nice to see that a firetruck is still there for all of the kids to practice on until they're old enough to drive a real one!

Waiting on summer

The snow-covered picnic tables seemed to just be waiting for summer to return so that they could once again be part of family barbecues and other get-togethers.

Sun through the trees

Finally, I took this shot of the sun through the trees as I was getting ready to leave the park and head over to pick up Amanda after school. Cold or not, I thought it looked beautiful and it was a sight that lifted my spirits as it reminded me that even though winter can be too long and too cold, it can't be too pretty.

I hope you all enjoyed my little walk through Mohegan Park on a pretty winter's day and for those of you who stop in via The Bulletin, thank you and feel free to leave a comment once in awhile - I'd be happy to hear from you!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers - Update!

Believe it or not, I'm actually going to write a short post today! Hey, hey, I heard that gasping all the way over here - it's not THAT shocking! Well, okay, maybe it is! Truth be told I've got lots to do today so the blog has to take a backseat for a little while - believe it or not!

Before I venture out into the cold, though, I wanted to do a quick update about the post concerning the package with Jamie's glasses that a kind stranger offered to mail for me at the post office last Tuesday. For those who need yet another bit of proof that not only do kind strangers exist but that they do what they say they're going to do - Jamie's glasses arrived in Florida on Friday just as if I had mailed them myself. I was right to trust that really nice guy at the post office and my faith in human nature has gone up a couple more notches. Thanks again, Kind Stranger!

Now, before I go, let me just remind you once again to enter the Mouseski's Photographic Musings contest that I'm holding that ends next Monday with a couple of cool prizes. I've gotten some great comments from folks on my pictures over at RedBubble and I really appreciate those who have taken the time to register and leave them. Thanks for going that extra mile!

Now, speaking of going an extra mile, I'm outta here - hope everyone has a great Monday wherever you are and whatever you're doing!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Scenery

Cummings-Gagne Funeral Home Norwich CT

I honestly have no clue why I like this picture but I do; there's just something appealing about the intricate woodwork around the roof-line of this building and I especially like it when seen against the blue sky. The black bird just adds a little something extra!

I get the feeling that this building is probably pretty old though I'm not exactly sure when it dates back to. It's the Cummings-Gagne Funeral Home located on Cliff Street here in Norwich and even though I did some searching, it's apparently downright hard to find any sort of historical information on funeral homes! I do know that the funeral home is located across from a house that is of similar structure that was built in 1850 so perhaps it's of the same vintage? With the buildings being so similar, I have to wonder if they're related somehow. Hmm, perhaps this could be a research project for sometime in the future should I find myself with a little spare time.

Don't forget to swing by Lee's Tarheel Ramblings and see what he's got for you to look at this Sunday,too. If you want to join us for Sunday Scenery, jump on in but just be sure to let us know so we can come visit! Have a great Sunday and may all your scenery be beautiful!