Monthly Archives: December 2008

There and Back Again

And we’re back! Takaza and I spent the last few days down in St. Louis visiting with my parents and my sister’s family. We had a very enjoyable time, and Christmas was lovely. We visited Soulard Market (though many vendors were closed for the holidays) and got lost (willingly) in downtown St. Louis. Mostly, though, it was just fun to spend time with the family.

The trip down was a bit unpleasant, as we were leaving Chicago in the throes of a snowstorm. Things were much better after we got south of Joliet, but the 40 mph crosswinds between Bloomington and St. Louis made driving difficult. The drive back was a lot more pleasant, though. We detoured into Alton, Illinois on a quest to find Pietown Stompin’ Grounds (visited by Alton Brown in Feasting on Asphalt 2: The River Run) only to find that it was completely closed and out of business – but the website is still up? Bah. We instead stopped for breakfast at Forgettable Family Restaurant #2,341 and then hit the road north. We detoured onto I-39 from Bloomington and came across the nifty wind farm near Mendota, Illinois. Dan took a bunch of pictures – for some reason, I found the sight fascinating.

And here we are in a new, but short, week. Dan has gone off to work; he works today and tomorrow, while I don’t have to go back until next Monday. Hooray! I shan’t be idle today, though. We have a ton of preparations for our New Year’s festivities, starting with a huge shopping trip this morning. I’m making four pans of lasagna, and Dan will be cooking up about twenty pounds of chicken tonight. We’ve got a bunch of other cooking to do, so we’ll be busy today and tomorrow. After that, it’s off to party!

Better Living Through Chemistry

So after adventures in muscle spasms on Friday, I curled up with a nice combination of Valium and Vicodin. takaza stayed home as well because the weather was pretty lousy, with around 10″ of snow falling. I napped a good portion of the day and was quite grateful for the pharmaceutical assistance.

By Saturday the spasms had pretty much abated, though my neck was still stiff. I came in to work (which was mandatory, in exchange for getting Christmas Eve off) and puttered around a bit, then Dan and I went over to his mother’s to exchange Christmas gifts and enjoy a lovely dinner.

Sunday was much more relaxed, though we finally ventured into the high winds and blowing snow to do some Wuffmeet shopping. We did some price comparisons at GFS (and got some good ideas for food), picked up all of the bubbly we need for New Year’s at Trader Joes, and took advantage of a fantastic sale on sodas at Meijer to get $160 or so worth of soda for $90. Unfortunately, while moving all that soda, Dan torqued his back, which has left him somewhat the worse for wear today. As for me, my neck still is a little stiff and I still get occasional pain, but I’ve regained about 80% mobility, which is a huge improvement.

We’re supposed to drive down to St. Louis on Wednesday to spend Christmas with my parents and my sister’s family, but the weather is looking most unpleasant. The snow I could deal with, but the mention of freezing rain between here and there gives me pause. I’m hoping that, at worst, we’ll have to delay our departure until midday Wednesday, but if it’s bad enough we may have to drive down on Christmas morning. We’ll see how the weather works out. Alas, our visit down there will be brief, since Dan has to be back at work on Monday the 29th and I need to tend to all kinds of New Year’s preparations. The one spot of good news is that it looks like I won’t be called in during plant shutdown, which will leave me free to concentrate on party planning.

I hope everyone’s holiday planning is going well. Stay warm and safe!


So yesterday morning I woke up about 15 minutes before the alarm was to go off with a crick in my neck. Ow.

I went ahead and showered and headed off to work, thinking nothing of it. But as the morning progressed, that crick in my neck progressed to a greater pain, then became full-fledged, stop-where-you-are-and-whimper muscle spasms. By 9:30 AM my boss took a look at me and told me to go home. So I came home, took some ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer and tried to relax. Not a lot of help there – the slightest movement set off a muscle spasm and a world of pain. By the time takaza got home, I was a mess. I called my doctor and she (rather surprisingly) called in a prescription for Vicodin and Valium to the nearby pharmacy. That stuff knocked me out, and I was able to get a solid night’s sleep.

This morning the spasms were somewhat shorter in duration, but still there. Given the fact that I still can’t turn my head to the right, as well as the fact that we got ten inches of snow overnight and the roads weren’t plowed yet, I elected to call in (well, e-mail in) to work and stay home. I popped a Valium and a couple of Vicodin and got a very nice nap in. Dan has stayed home as well ( the roads truly do suck) and he’s watching out for me, bless him. Unfortunately, I’m supposed to be at work tomorrow (mandatory work day in exchange for getting Christmas Eve off), so I’ll probably go in no matter how I’m feeling. Hopefully the spasms will have abated by then, though.

Fun times!

Playing Catch-Up

I see I’m in my usual post-convention blogging quiet period. This month is pretty crazy, and as usual, when I’m busy I don’t have much time to document it.

Last week included a delicious dinner with perro, darkwolph, and linnaeus at Tramonto’s Steak and Seafood, which sadly is due to close its doors very soon (along with RT’s Lounge and Osteria di Tramonto) due to Rick Tramonto departing the joint venture. We’ve heard some promising possibilities about what will be happening with those restaurants in the new year, but nothing for certain. We’ll see what happens!

The next day I joined justincheetah and calapurr for a tasty dinner (with some tasty wine) at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant. The short ribs there were delicious! I’m thinking that during Wuffmeet we may need to swing by there and sample their latest wines.

On Saturday, takaza‘s family came over for an evening of dinner and games. I made a killer Lasagna Bolognese that was simply outstanding. I substituted ground bison for the ground beef and, not having ground veal readily available, did 50/50 ground bison and ground pork. Instead of Parmesan cheese, I used an aged Mahon cheese which was quite tasty (and half the price of Parmesana Reggiano). This was good enough that I think it may be one of our entrees for Wuffmeet. I just need to figure out the logistics of making the sauces, assembly, baking, and reheating.

Sunday? We did nothing. And it was good. (Oh, and the person I was rooting for won Survivor. That was nice too.)

Yesterday I finished my Christmas shopping. Yay! Hooray for 🙂 I’m impressed that some of that stuff will be arriving today. I {heart} Amazon Prime – we really do get our money’s worth on that.

And then there’s today. I’m keeping a close eye on the weather radar as we’re supposed to get hit with 2-6 inches of snow in the next 24 hours. I’m not wild about this since tonight we’re having dinner with the folks we’ve worked with at the Westin North Shore down in Lincolnshire. Still, travel difficulties aside, it should be a good meal and I’m looking forward to it.

For the rest of the week: I’m hoping that we can help genet celebrate completing her last final for the semester tomorrow. Then on Saturday (after I have to work all day in exchange for getting Christmas Eve off), Dan and I will be going over to his mom’s house to exchange gifts with her, since we’ll be out of town on Christmas. Oh, in case I haven’t mentioned it, Dan and I will be in St. Louis visiting my parents and my sister’s family from December 24th through 28th. We hope to do a bit of touring around the city (though I just found out yesterday that a main highway is closed – man, that’s got to suck!). If nothing else, hope to hit one of the fine eateries the Good Mister Brown visited during his road trip through the city.

Well, time to take care of a bit of work before today’s free “Holiday Lunch” – the usual uninspiring beef/chicken/pasta buffet. Hey, at least it’s free…

Edit @ 5 PM – No steak dinner for me – the Westin folks cancelled due to weather, and I can’t blame them. Dan is on his way home, and he’s thinking that his normal 50-minute commute is going to be closer to 2 to 2.5 hours.

One Husky, Missing In Action

So what the heck have we been up to?

I know I’ve been pretty quiet since Midwest FurFest wrapped up. I’m mostly recovered at this point, and just sweeping up the last few bits of business before we put MFF 2008 to bed and can start looking toward 2009. Yeah, theoretically there should be a break in between there, but there’s no rest for the weary, or in this case, no rest for the chairman, as there’s staffing, website, and facilities issues for 2009 that need attention sooner than later.

In non-convention news, we had a lovely dinner last week with the Artists Alley crew and other friends up at Charcoal Grill in Kenosha, followed the next day by Thanksgiving dinner with takaza‘s mom with the usual huge amounts of food. We took home (and enjoyed!) many leftovers. And on Saturday night, we welcomed roho, genet, linnaeus, justincheetah, and calapurr over to our place for a yummy dinner of fondue and several bottles of wine (enjoyed in the fabulous gift we received from the Westin’s convention services manager). Cheetah and Cala spent the night and we had a nice lazy morning the next day before they had to head home.

And this week? It’s been pretty quiet. We’ve stayed in each night, though Dan’s employer’s holiday party was last night at The Cubby Bear North. While he was off at that I had an exciting evening of laundry, doing the dishes, and taking care of some much-needed sewing. Tomorrow I’m off in the morning to drop my car off for new tires (finally! After 50,000 miles, the OEM tires on there are getting far too slick, making starting from a standing stop an exciting exercise) then getting a nice 90-minute massage. Dan will pick me up after that and we’ll head over to meet Roho, Genet, and Linnaeus for lunch at a local French restaurant. I’m looking forward to it!

(Oh yes! And fancy new icon by sakuranym-kim. Woo!)


I just found out that Boiled in Lead has a new album out. They’ve brought back Todd Menton, their original singer, Todd Menton, and brought Dean Magraw, a phenomonal guitarist, on board. And it’s on iTunes! Woohoo!

I wonder if they’re still doing their annual St. Patrick’s Day gig at First Avenue in Minneapolis? It’s been a good ten years since I saw them there last…