Friday, June 27, 2008


Well, I joined a "message group" on Yahoo. I've never done this before, and it's a very intense experience. It's like getting a 100 emails (or more!) a day from people who all know what they're talking about, and mostly all know each other. After three days of this, I should have learned some lessons.

1. I need to start slower. I'll say that again. I need to start slower. Nah, I'm still not getting it. I {pause for emphasis} NEED { . . . } TO { . . . } START { . . . } SLOWER. Okay.

2. Where do people get the time to post as much as they do? None of my business, of course, but I'm just wondering. Or, possibly I'm confused about this because with a couple dozen people posting a couple times a day apiece, and another couple dozen posting once a day, the impression for the new kid is that everyone's talking at once. Repeatedly.

3. Oh, right. I need to start slower. (This applies to a lot of stuff, not just this list. Slow & steady wins the race.)

4. The Internet sure is the place to go to procrastinate. :-)

Are you getting a sense of what I'm talking about? Everyone in this group is lovely, and I really want to make my involvement in the group work, but if that's my goal, I think I'm going about it all wrong. And really, that's a universal theme in my life right now. I need to start slowly, get to know people, assume nothing, NOT try to get everyone to like me right away, and keep it all in perspective. And get on with other things in REAL life while I'm pacing myself.

I think you all know me well enough to be chuckling right now, "Sure, Magdalen, and how's that working for you?!"

Monday, June 23, 2008

States Revisited

I wasn't satisfied with a map that just showed the "Lower 48" as a solid block of dark red, so I'm back at it, this time with a few more maps.

Here are the states I'd been to before I hooked up with Hub 1.0:

Visited States

Visited US States Map from TravelBlog

Here are the states Hub 1.0 and I have been to together:

Visited States

Visited US States Map from TravelBlog

Here are the states Starman had been to before he and I became an item (I'd do a similar map for Hub 1.0, but as he'd never been to the U.S. all the states would be grey, so what's the point):

Visited States

Visited US States Map from TravelBlog

Yes, folks -- that's Alabama lit up like that. (They were all business trips from when he was a full time software developer.) He's since been to six more, and we'll add a few more with next month's New England tour. I'll update Starman's map after that trip!

Because Starman Doesn't Have His Own Blog . . .

I will tell you that he's discovered his inner flower:

I am a

What Flower

This is so accurate it's not even funny (well, a little funny).

And it reminds me of a nice story. Two years ago, when our friendship was blossoming, and in turn causing him to come out of the shadows of his lonely life and into the sunshine of friendship and shared interests, he shyly informed me that he was "a late summer flower." (Which violets aren't, I know, but it's all allegorical anyway.)

Flickr Meme

This is a game I found here, on a quilter's blog. I highly recommend that you click on the mosaic to get a better sense of what each picture looks like...

If you have a Flickr account, you can go ahead and make your own mosaic. My answers were these:

1. First Name: Magdalen (that dog looks a bit like Mimi)
2. Favorite food: Dessert
3. High school: Linton High School (I only wish my school looked as architecturally cool as this; mysteriously, no one has taken a photo of the Linton High School I went to!)
4. Favorite color: Pinkgreen (don't worry; Flickr totally gets color conjunctions!)
5. Celebrity crush: Bill Nighy ("Charles Kuralt" yielded his gravestone, which was NOT the effect I was looking for)
6. Favorite beverage: Hot chocolate
7. Dream vacation: Alaska (well, as we're going, why not be happy with that as the dream?)
8. Favorite dessert: Boston Creme Pie
9. What I want to be when I grow up: Completely Reconstructed
10. What I love most: Having someone who gets me
11. Word that describes me: Complicated
12. My Flickr name: MagdaleninHarmony

Here's the source for all the photos:

1. Happy Dog Races on Magdalen Green, 2. totoro cupcake 4, 3. linton high school, 4. Shocking pink, 5. Bill Nighy, 6. French Hot Chocolate, 7. Northern Lights with Moon Rising, 8. mini boston creme pie, 9. Instability, 10. Water Park 2, 11. Light can be so complicated., 12. Coffee Jones star quilt

I am grateful to all the photographers -- and can I say what a fun game this is? Wasted LOTS of time!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I Didn't Cheat On This One, But . . .

Visited States

Visited US States Map from TravelBlog

. . . I had to count my childhood to get Oregon and Washington. I wouldn't have done that, but Hub 1.0, who was my travel companion to all of the less-likely-that-I-should-go-to-them states (Nebraska springs to mind; I never imagined I would go to Nebraska!) got to the Pacific Northwest for work, and that raised a tricky question. Guaranteed he and I will never go there together (they're off his list, so he's not heading there any time soon), and I have been there. Heck, I lived near Hanford, Washington for a year as a child; that has to count for something.

This would have been a lot more fun if I'd had a blog in 1998 and added states as we did them. It started with New England; we were in Maine when we saw some obscure state's license plate -- Alaska, maybe. That got Hub 1.0 and me talking about how each state's license plates are different. We started to "collect" them, by which I mean we'd watch for them. We saw a Hawaii on the counter-clockwise Beltway around Washington, D.C., for example. The last one Hub 1.0 saw was South Dakota -- he spotted it in Philadelphia as he was heading to city hall to get our marriage license.

After that, it was easy to talk about seeing all 50 states. For years we believed we could get to them all by the time we turned 50 (we share a birth year, 1956, so we figured Hawaii for my birthday in February, and Alaska in August for his birthday). Instead, we ended our marriage by age 50. But not the travel: all three of us (Starman was part of the picture at this point) went to Nevada (state #46) that autumn. That trip was memorable, as they all were. Some states got shortchanged, though: Florida was a night in a motel near the Georgia border, Indiana was lunch across the Ohio River from Kentucky (I forget if we both walked back across, or just Hub 1.0), and Idaho was literally set foot on. (I'm not kidding about that last one -- we were in Wyoming, near Yellowstone, and we had dinner reservations back in Montana so all we had time to do was cross the Continental Divide into Idaho, open the car door and Hub 1.0 put his foot out onto Idaho soil, or asphalt in this case.)

So, whether Oregon and Washington get an asterisk or not, this map is essentially right: just Alaska and Hawaii to go. We do Alaska this summer -- Hub 1.0's wedding present to us is a cruise for all three of us, preceded by a land excursion to Denali, and followed by a short stay in British Columbia as our thank-you to him.

That just leaves Hawaii!

I Admit It -- I Cheated!

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

I had to take this quiz four times to get a flower I didn't hate. I WANT to be a hydrangea, and I'm tempted to lie on all the questions until I get to be a hydrangea (or a lilac, or lavender, or a peony, or a lupin, or a lily . . . you get the idea). Maybe hydrangeas ARE liars! Hah!! So there.

Well, they got it right, I guess -- snap & dragon!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Latest Adventures From Camp Mimi

We've had Mimi for about 6 weeks now. Let's see -- on the good side, she doesn't bite me anymore. . . Also, she's a bit more attentive, particularly when one of us is holding a bit of chicken for her. She has a wonderful new game, which I'm sure is wildly illegal with the doggy rights enforcers: she leaps up at a ball suspended about four feet off the ground, mouthing it until it comes off the tree so that she can run around with it. She eventually demolished the ball, at which point we hung the "Pup Treads" tire at about the same height. She ignored that in favor of the shreds of rubber that had been the original ball until I had a brilliant idea. I stuffed the remains of the ball inside the tire and let Mimi leap at the combination until the ball fell out. After that, she's happy to leap at the tire!

The reason I say that this leaping game is wildly illegal is that we got a lecture from some people at a local kennel. I won't mention who they were; there are still rules about defamation, after all. Husband and wife -- I'll call them Barbie & Ken. Barbie just LOVES animals; she used to be a veterinarian's assistant. She didn't impress either Starman or me when she said happily that she's the one who yells at their dogs. Um, isn't Ken supposed to be the expert at training dogs? we wondered silently. So where does the yelling come in? Strike one against them.

Starman had found these people when he looked for obedience trainers in the phone book. He spoke with Ken on the phone. After a brief description of Mimi, Starman explained that we wanted obedience classes. (You know, the ones where several owner & dog combos work together on sit, stay, down, heel, etc.) "I never talk about classes until after the evaluation," Ken explained. His plan was, we'd leave Mimi there for 24 hours, he'd work with her, and then he'd tell us what needed to be done. So we loaded up her crate, toys, food, lead, etc., etc., and off we went. We got there a bit late, but Ken wasn't there; he was at his cardiologist. We waited, making chitchat with Barbie, for a long time, but no Ken. "That's okay," Barbie soothed. "Call tomorrow afternoon and Ken will tell you when to pick her up." That worked for us; I had to see a client nearby, and the route home took us close to Barbie & Ken. But when we called, Ken refused to talk to Starman because he was eating his lunch. All we wanted was a time to get there so we'd know if we had time for lunch, but no, he couldn't talk even that long. And he wasn't very polite about it. Strike two.

In the end, it turned out that Ken doesn't do classes (!) -- he takes a dog and works with it for two full weeks, then hands it back to the owner. This makes no sense to me at all; isn't the owner the one who really needs the training? Strike three and yer out!

Otherwise, we were lectured about heart worm (not much of a risk here, we decided after consulting our vet), gastric torsion (say what?), and back injuries from the leaping mentioned above. Okay, so maybe that's not the best exercise. We chatted with him for a while, then wrote a bizarrely large check (say, quadruple the cost of a night's boarding), and drove away with our dog. We did get some things out the experience: We were assured that Mimi is wonderful, given a suggestion for housebreaking, shown how to put a choke chain on properly, and told Barbara Lampman's name. That last item was worth the price of admission, although we could have found her more cheaply, I suppose.

I honestly don't think Ken even evaluated Mimi. At no time did he say what he'd done with her, what paces she was put through. Enh -- who cares. I called Barbara Lampman, who does puppy kindergarten (Mimi's too old for that) and basic obedience classes. One's starting next Monday, and as it conflicts with Starman's yoga, I'll be doing the classes with Mimi. Then on Tuesday, I can show Starman what we learned.

But while we're waiting for that, here are some photos showing Mimi being calm. Calm because she's gnawing on her rawhide bone . . .

Calm because Starman's exercised the heck out of her in 90-degree heat . . .

And calm because she's not stupid enough to do anything other than lie down when it's that warm. We love a calm dog!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Introducing, the Ninnyheads

We need to train Mimi (pictures in a future post, I promise) so Starman took the lead and located a boarding & kennels facility that also does doggy obedience training. The first step was to leave Mimi there for 24 hours for evaluation. Our appointment was for 10:00 a.m., so we decided to make a day of it -- head south for the kennels, then continue on to pick up Starman's CT scan results (he sees the pulmonologist in July), have lunch, go to a movie, do a teeny bit of fabric shopping, get my hairs cut, and head home. An entire day of errands: that's the sort of thing you can only do when the dog's away.

We were nearly into Nicholson when I realized that I'd left the coupons for the fabric store at home. I'd told myself that I needed to put them in my handbag several times (always when I was out of the house, doing something else, in another room, etc. -- you know how that works!), and I'd even uncovered them at breakfast, by accident of course, and put them squarely into view so that I wouldn't forget. Do I even have to repeat that I forgot? No, I didn't think so.

The problem was that the coupons in question are worth about $8-10 apiece, enough so that it's worth using them when I need to buy a lot of one fabric. (I'll discuss the project in greater detail on my quilting blog.) Was it worth the $3.00 in gas to come home and start off again? I checked with the Starman, and he felt it was.

As the trip to the kennels was Starman's responsibility, I trusted him to figure out how to get there. He's very organized, not at all like me, so it was quite a shock when we got all the way to Squier Hill Road, drove its entire length, and no kennels. A quick phone call to the right place, and we found out that there's another bit of Squier Hill Road, and that's where the aptly named Hidden Valley Kennels is located. Twenty minutes later, we got there.

I had been very frustrated with myself for forgetting the coupons, and somewhat frustrated with the Starman, but when he voluntarily referred to himself as a ninnyhead, I had to laugh. Him and me both...

"Hi, we're Magdalen & Starman, the Ninnyheads!"

Postscript: At least we're in good company as eejits: See the news about Tiger Woods, who won the US Open (yay) but did it while he had (supposedly) a double stress fracture in his left tibia (boo). I also read here that it may in fact be something a lot more serious, requiring a knee replacement. That sounds like something that would require 6 months of rehabilitation... You just know some doctor (or, in his case, a phalanx of them) warned him what could happen if he played. So is he that arrogant, that committed, that hard-headed or some combination thereof. I will say this, though -- once he took that line, he didn't fuss about it in the press conferences. His website makes it clear that he wanted the focus to be on the tournament, not his injuries. I bet he didn't think he was going to win!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sorry for the delay

My best friend in law school, Eric, taught me this really cool card game, which he identified as "Michigan Rummy" even though I learned later that's a misnomer. (Hoyle, an authority on card games in my childhood home, points out that it's not a traditional rummy game, nor is it from Michigan.) In the version I learned, you deal out all the cards in a standard deck. The players take turns putting a card on the table, starting with the sevens. If the 7 has been played, for example, another player can place the 6 or the 8 on the 7. Without the 7 in any given suit, none of the other cards in that suit can be played.

Before I get to the point of this story -- and thus the point of this post -- I will explain just a bit more about why I love Michigan Rummy. There are four money cards -- if you have any of those four cards in your hand, and you get to play it, you collect all the money that's on that card. Well, I don't think I ever played with actual money. Probably you're meant to play with poker chips, but that's so boring. I like variety. Buttons are good, but we've also used beach glass. Anything that's small and, if possible, lots of one-of-a-kinds so that you can look at your stash while you're waiting for someone else to play/shuffle/deal/whatever. The best stash, though, has to have been the collection of old, foreign money collected by Hub 1.0's family. You know that odd set of pesetas or francs or pence you have after a trip abroad? Well, what Hub 1.0's forefathers used to do is dump these motley coins into a box. And they really traveled: Indian annas, Chinese coins with the square hole in the middle, the Swaziland lilangeni -- stuff like that. There is a fair number of old style English pennies, which are huge; one dates back to 1839, although it's in really poor condition.

We used to play with the entire coin collection when we were in London visiting my former m-i-l. We would play with Susan, Hub 1.0's sister. When it was time to divvy up the coin collection, she got first dibs, but put aside a very nice assortment of goodies for Hub 1.0 and me to take away. That plastic pot of coinage is here in Harmony; they clearly should stay with Hub 1.0 but the fact of the matter is that they're most useful playing cards, and he's never likely to host a card party in Philly. I toyed with the idea of just not mentioning the coins to him; he was more likely than not to forget about them, but that seemed wrong. And bless him -- he totally got the point about their usefulness being site-specific. So, yes, they belong to him, but they stay here.

Back to the game of Michigan Rummy that I was taught. Eric explained that there was a house rule when he was growing up: "no grandpas." It seems his grandfather would have a card in his hand that could be played onto the table, but he'd miss it or something and would instead pay a coin into the ante. Later on, he'd notice the card he could have played, everyone would cry "Grandpa!" and he'd apologize. While it seems like such a move would benefit the other players -- the object of the game is to play all your cards before anyone else and thus win the ante pot -- it can be strategic to hold up a card everyone else really needs to be on the board. So of course if you can play anything, you must play something. That's the No Grandpas rule.

Hub 1.0 and I added a house rule of our own. It's the "Please Play" rule, and it's limited to sevens. Remember that you can't play a six or an eight until the seven is down, and you can't play anything lower until the six is played, or higher until the eight is played. Therefore, if one player was dealt all the sevens, the game's going to get off to a slow start while that person plays the sevens seriatim. Which is fine, but if that person also has some sixes or eights in addition to their sevens, it might be a long time before all the sevens get played. So we felt that it was only fair to be allowed to "request" that a seven be played.

Last night, Starman went to yoga. Hope was there. As we know, she reads this blog regularly. (...but never comments! -- ed.) Hope gently asked Starman, "Is Magdalen ever going to blog again?" and it had the effect on me similar to asking me to play that last seven in my hand.

So, with apologies for the long, long delay, here's my post on Mimi's ability to dismantle a perfectly inoffensive throwing toy.

This is a lovely toy. It has a nice Frisbee-esque quality in the air, and yet is soft enough around the edges not to hurt a dog's tender gums. It's constructed out of very stiff, thick black nylon. Think kids' backpacks -- that sort of material.

This is Mimi "playing" with her lovely throwing toy. This activity is much preferred over just catching it in her mouth. Oh, she started by running & catching, but then she'd worry it vigorously, thrashing her head back and forth to subdue the thing. Finally she got a foot on it and tugged. And tore. And ripped.

Ah, lovely black nylon throwing toy, we hardly knew ye. Rest in peace.

P.S. If you want to know more on Michigan Rummy, let me know. I looked for an appropriate site to link you to, but they appear to play a different version of the game. And they wouldn't include the house rules!