Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Where's Waldo? Burning up the Colorado mountainside..

Went to Colorado for an extended weekend, little relaxing mini-vacation and ended up with an adventure. It's funny how something is "supposed" to be one thing and ends up with a totally different vibe. It makes me laugh but it also makes me sad for the people that are not flexible or want to just complain when a wrench gets thrown into the works.

Looking back the best I can describe it is like the cooking competition where they hand you a box of stuff and you and you alone are responsible for a delightful creation. No recipe, no pre-planning just raw creative gumption.

And Lori here is your box of ingredients:
1 pound  turnips
6 kiwi
A bottle of soy milk
2 fresh Maine Lobsters
and........some limberger cheese

Good luck!

The trek started just as any vacation might, leaving early - VERRRRY early to get a full day in once we got there. It all went well, settled in and went to play in the very colorful Manitou Springs, weather was a little warmer than usual but beautiful. The next day first stop - Garden of the Gods. Great place, the beauty is breath taking but.....what on the horizon did to my wondering eyes appear? but a little puff of smoke......then we start hearing sirens - LOTS of sirens.

Waldo Canyon Fire 2012

We continue on then start hearing the rangers talk. Closing the park? really? sending employees home? oh my.  OK, so we have to take the back way out because many of the roads are closed, it happens. But then we hear Pikes Peak is closed......the roads to a few of the attractions we wanted to see.....closed. We were disappointed but I really felt bad for the residents of Manitou you could see in their faces the worry and distress. You could look to the mountain and see flames, you could see the houses directly in the path of the fire. My heart truly went out to them. And the animals, we were seeing animals that were frightened and out of place.

Then we settled in for the night and at 1:30AM and knock on the door, Manitou was under a mandatory evacuation. YIPES!

After we shook the cobwebs out of our sleepy heads we decided to go stay with friends in Loveland. And yes, even a bigger fire near there but we could go. A side note here- a true friend is one that says, I haven't prepared for you at all AND it's the middle of the night but you are more than welcome to come here. Yep, and we did. And yes, at times the drive between Manitou and Loveland looked and smelled like we were driving through a campfire.

The next day we spent goofing off and decided on the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour. It was really interesting. Another funny event was the rainstorm on Sunday evening. We went into Ft. Collins to Walrus Ice Cream and it started pouring, the students all went out in the street and were dancing in the rain. The residents were yelling and cheering, it was a sight to be sure. Had a great day with lots of laughter (that makes ANYTHING more fun) and found a hotel for the night- hospitality is nice but no one wants to wear out their welcome.

So, was the trip like planned? Not at all, but was the outcome a positive one? Most definitely. Destinations are fun, but the human journey, that is where the joy is found.

Thanks Colorado for making me a deeper person this past weekend.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ch, ch, ch, ch, changes

Occasionally in my office some rearranging of seating happens, sometimes it is because of staff changes and sometimes to facilitate collaboration. This week we had one of those upset the apple cart kinda weeks, not sure how many of us actually switched desk areas but more than 2 and less than 40. I was one of the movers (and shakers - wink). SO - the song, sing it with me, ya know ya wanna - Movin' on up, to the east siiide, to a dee-luxe apartment in the skkkyyyyy. Ok, not a deluxe apartment but I did move one desk to the east so it's sorta true.

Moving whether it be a couple of filing cabinets and turning your chair in a different direction or a whole house can be a tad bit stressful but also a chance to purge and clean. I found out I had a bunch of stuff that I didn't need and I think I may have given the cleaning guy a hernia from lifting my paper laden trash can. OOPS. But all in all, I cleaned and rearranged and took the opportunity to change my "look", and my little desk pod - which is now a corner desk pod (although sadly, no great view from an upper floor).
Pay no attention to the junk behind the curtain, er, under the desk.

There are a few new additions/changes I made in my desk apparel and I really like them. One is a new makeover from my old file holder thingys, they were covered in red paisley fabric and now they are black/white birdish scrapbook paper covered. I LOVE them!

Another change was to get rid of my previous bulletin board. It seemed rather redundant to have a bulletin board hanging over the wall that was basically it's  own bulletin board - so, I just hung the frame over the wall and voila, trĂ©s chic.

I also found this cute little soap dish on the clearance aisle at Hobby Lobby. I took it home and sprayed it black and it works perfectly as a business card holder.

But I would have to say my favorite addition was to add an ornate picture frame around my external monitor. It's like working in a piece of art all day. Love, Love, Love.

My fish, Finley, seems to like the new surroundings as well.

We also got in our staff shirts for Podstock. It's an 80's ish rock concert-type shirt. We had Prairie Print in Wichita do them and they did an awesome job. They also did our regular Podstock shirt, Talk Nerdy to Me and it turned out pretty snazzy as well. Our thanks go out to Doug, Terry and Jason for a job well done!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Sooooo....I wrote a book....

Front and Back cover

It's funny, sometimes we think about doing something and don't really know where to start so it just kinda sits on the back burner, then something happens and is a catalyst to light a fire under us to actually put feet to plans. I've thought about writing a book for a long time, I mean I write a blog, it seems obvious that I enjoy writing. But what kind of book? I had considered a novel or maybe some sort of fiction but never really considered a children's book.

This book, Melly's Imperfect Quilt, was written for a very sweet girl, I was making her a quilt for graduation gift and it was turning out.......well.......imperfect to say the least. I thought I should enclose some sort of note, or poem or something to explain that I have a little trouble with directions......I'm more of a throw it together and be surprised kinda's not only with sewing, I do the same with cooking. A note just sort of evolved and a book was born. I then called my dear friend, Lauren Ritta, and asked her if she could help me by illustrating, she did and it was AWESOME! If I could draw- which I can't- I could not have done more exactly what I wanted. Oh... did I mention I made the quilt and wrote the book within a one week period? AND Lauren did all the illustrations in 48 hours? Yah, we got mad skills.

I am thinking now that I'd like to do a series about Melly visiting different places in Kansas and I've got the Cosmosphere in my sights as the destination of the next book. I'm excited and can't wait to get started.

Here's a few pages from the book:

The Betta and the Pea — just another fish tale

The other day my home fish (kinda like home boy, only it's not, it's just the fish I have at home) started acting strange. I quickly was brought back to the time, not so long ago, when my previous home fish, Frank got sick and died. I was resigning myself to the fact that maybe fish just aren't my thing, kinda like making toffee, it's just not in me to make it work.

I watched him and it was like someone had given him fish crack or something, he would be very still with his head down in the rocks then suddenly swim frantically all around the bowl and then drift back down to the bottom. I tapped on the bowl which usually brings him wagging his little tail fin over to my finger and seem really happy but this time he didn't even glance over at me. I tried putting some food in and he didn't even seem to take notice of the tasty blood worm hors d'oeuvres floating tantalizingly on top.  Yes, it seemed the end was near for poor Billy Betta fish.

Then I remembered what a friend had told me, she said this same type thing happened with a coworkers Betta and she put in a frozen pea. Yes, I know, I thought it ridiculous too but I had to at least try. So I threw a frozen pea in and I guess I expected him to miraculously swim over, ingest the pea and live happily ever after. No. Didn't happen. I watched and then......nothing. I pushed the pea over near his little fish mouth, still, nothing. All day, every time I went in the kitchen I moved the pea close to where ever Billy had floated and the pea went untouched.

That night I went to bed fully expecting to find Billy to have expired during the night and having to move him, respectfully, of course, from the fish bowl to the toilet bowl. The next morning I went over to the bowl and bracing myself for the worst the most amazing thing had happened....... Billy was waiting patiently for me, wiggling and almost looking like he wanted a good game of fetch or something. I couldn't believe it. MY OLD BILLY WAS BACK!!! It was the miracle of the frozen pea! I looked and it still didn't seem Billy had munched even a little of the pea.
Billy, swimming happily in his little tank, under the watchful eye of Shrek.

So I did do a little research and this is what I found: (full article at velvet dragon)

Swim Bladder Disorder (also called SBD, Swim Bladder Disease, or simply "swim bladder") is an extremely common disorder among bettas and other fish, particularly due to husbandry misconceptions. The swim bladder is an flexible-walled organ filled with gas, which controls the fish's buoyancy. Swim bladder disorder is a symptom rather than a disease in and of itself, but should be taken very seriously, as the conditions leading to it can be deadly if left untreated. 

The betta is unable to swim properly, characterized by floating at the top, sinking to the bottom and/or listing sideways. The betta often looks like it takes it a great deal of work to swim to the bottom (if floating) or reach the surface (if sinking), and will pop back up like a cork or sink like a stone.
A constipated fish may look bloated (slightly or greatly), or seem to have difficulty passing feces (stringy, trailing, or exceptionally large poop). 

When SBD is observed with no other symptoms or known causes, it is best to begin treatment for constipation. Most of the time, SBD will clear up immediately when the fish is no longer constipated.
  • Keep the water super clean and warm (increase the temperature slowly, only a degree every couple hours, until it is around 80 degrees; keep the temperature stable).
  • If possible, leave the tank's bottom bare (no gravel, rocks or marbles), so you can monitor the fish's feces. A hospital tank may be useful.
  • Encourage the betta to flare by placing another betta's tank nearby, or showing the betta a mirror. Bettas often poo when they flare.
  • Fast the fish for three days. No food at all.
  • On the fourth day, feed the betta a blanched (frozen-thawed) pea. For bettas, as obligate carnivores, the pea consists mostly of undigestible fiber, which is wonderful for clearing out the digestive tract. Most bettas find peas extremely palatable!
    Take a frozen pea. Do not use fresh (risk of pesticides or other environmental toxins) or canned (too squishy and way too much salt). Place the pea in some dechlorinated, conditioned water (or simply take some from your betta's tank) in a microwave-safe container. Microwave the pea for a few seconds (mine takes about 10 seconds, but ovens vary), until thawed.
    Skin the pea by slitting the skin and squeezing out the two halves of pea. Discard the skin.
    Take about a quarter of the pea, and chop it into super tiny pieces. Remember, bettas have tiny stomachs, and do not need more than about a quarter. Feed the tiny pieces to your betta. Most of them love it!
  • Usually, the betta will have a bowel movement within a day of the pea treatment. If the betta does not poo or there is no improvement, repeat treatment (fast and pea).
If the betta is pooping normally at the onset of SBD, and/or there is still no improvement after fasting and feeding a pea, the cause may be internal parasites or bacterial infection. Parasites may cause bloating. Either may cause clamped fins, lethargy, paleness and other general symptoms. If you are unsure which, it may be helpful to treat for both. Many anti-parasite medications and antibiotics can be used in conjunction, but check first.
If the cause is an injury, the only treatment is time, and keeping the water super clean and warm. Adding a pinch of pre-dissolved aquarium salt to the tank is also beneficial to help prevent secondary infections and assist the betta's other systems. With luck, the injury will heal and the betta will make a full recovery.

Green pea, either fresh or frozen, is often used by betta keepers to alleviate mild constipation sometimes caused by flake, pellet or freeze dried fish foods. While it does little nutritionally for bettas, it is high in fiber and contains added moisture which often lacks from commercial dry fish food.

Now, I did not do any special preparation like the article mentioned,  I just threw the frozen pea into the bowl and it worked just fine. It never did seem like he ate any of the pea, but whatever the secret is it worked. I am here to testify to the miracle of the frozen pea.