Since I am an unemployed wastrel (with less free time on my hands than I expected what with not having to be across the bay 10 hours a day; sleep, yo… maker faire, yo…job search, yo…) I have been informed that my habillement choices are on the dark side.

I like black. Sure it shows some lint and cat hair, but it also doesn’t show drippings from my lunch or other clumsiness that I tend toward. Also, since I don’t have to be crawling around on the floor fixing network connections that IT should have gotten to in a more timely manner (I think in my previous job, they just assumed I was the IT mascot and I could just get this shite done without having to put in a ticket, so one more thing off their plate, thankyouverymuch.) I can wear skirts now without showing everyone my adorable undies from Target.

So, I have a few skirts (read:more than I have every owned in my life; i.e. more than 2) and I am wearing them.

I haven’t totally reconciled the travel aspect of it. I have some built in aversions to wearing too much of one fabric (jean jacket and jeans at the same time) or not having my shoes match my bag (no, I’m not certain where that came from) or mixing black with chocolate brown…. So I have a few requirements to meet when I travel.

Also, do you know how hard it is to find yoga pants in not black?

And my favorite, favorite shirt is black. So wearing comfy pants and my favorite shirt, and a fleece (which is normally black because wearing a color over black pants and black shirt seems wonky to me) leaves me with… all black. Sigh. Back to square one.

So traveling on a plane with my minimal carryon stuff can be a little restrictive, it helps that I have some stuff that packs down pretty well. Also I found some jeans that I love so they are easy to pair with color (though that rules out my bluejean jacket  for me. I can wear it with skirts though, so if I bite the bullet and wear a friggin’ dress, I’m ok. (I’m working on being ok with that.))

Anyhoo, so I am unreasonably excited by road trips now. Mostly because I can have my purse out with gadgety crap and a second bag that I can put an extra jacket in that I normally wouldn’t have room to have with me as carry on AND my little suitcase. (no I will not check a bag on the way to anywhere unless I am just too exhausted to deal with it and still, I will have my minimum requirements with me on the plane so if the other stuff gets lost, it was just gravy anyway.)

Here’s my current packing list for a car trip:

part 1 part 2

Images from Closet (iphone app)

Oh the bounty of outfits! (No I won’t wear it all, but it gives me leeway for various activities, spillages, sweatiness and whatnot. Also some things are meant to be worn over each other… like the white tank and the white button down to keep me cool and not fried by the sun outside. Some is just in case, like the nice dress and heels if I go out to fancy-schmancy dinner. Hiking, beach, etc.)

I can fit this all in my little green shopper (also doubles as spare stuff to leave in the car trunk when we are out), the carry-on LeSportsac Abby and my “fits under the airplane seat… really” American Tourister wheely that is fast becoming my favorite bag ever.

Leave me alone. This is fun.


The luggage that I saw

(this luggage: Briggs & Riley BRX Excursion Backpack & Briggs & Riley BRX Explore 20″ Wide Body Upright ) and drooled over is $410 in the configuration that I want.

For $400 I could get me a Galaxy Tab and just use a Trader Joe’s reusable bag as my luggage.

I have the curse of fabulous taste and a crappy budget.

In Search of… Eagle Creek Bedouin and just a little more

Eagle Creek Bedouin

I got this pack off of EBay about a zillion years ago-mine is all in black. I couldn’t find the name of it on Eagle Creek’s site (and even when I emailed them with a description, they told me a different pack…) I kept searching and found a listing on Sierra Trading Post finally that fit the bill.

I’ve used it for up to 5 day trips (with another bag as a day pack for gadgets) and just for running around but I’ve often wished that I could find a pack almost exactly like it but just a wee bit larger. Perhaps an inch or two all the way around.

Most of the travel packs out there are 40L or 45L and if you put that on me then you might as well be strapping a grand piano to my back.

Technical day packs are almost there, but they tend to only have one central storage area and I really like the option to zip/unzip and have one or two compartments in the pack for shoes, fidldly bits or whatever.

Making it just a bit larger (2200 cu in maybe?) would allow me to use this in the winter for trips and put perhaps one more fleece or layer in for the whole trip. I have convertible suitcases (the eBags Weekender-and it is a great bag) but they don’t carry as easily as this pack.

I like the sleek profile of it as it doesn’t stick out 5 feet from my back, but still that tiny bit of extra space would mean the difference between several days and a full week in there. I even like the waist pack (yes, then dreaded fanny pack) and I put a shoulder strap on it and use it as a purse. I use it to store knitting supplies when it is attached. When I don’t take the waist pack along I can roll up a fleece and clip it in it’s place, but it tends to be a little sticky-outy which I don’t love, so I don’t do that unless it is an emergency. It has a zipper divider in the main compartment so that I can separate out the silo into 2 areas or make it long enough to put my down coat in a compression sack, flattened, then slide it down the back and pack over it.

Here’s an old post when STP had it:

This practical travel pack is designed to keep needed items at hand. Features water bottle holsters and many organizer pockets. All seams taped and stress points reinforced. Made of ultra-durable Cordura® Plus nylon.
Features two main compartments (top and bottom) with removable waist pack, padded backpack straps and padded back panel.
2000 cu.in.
2 lb. 5 oz.

What say, Eagle Creek? Wanna make a modified Bedouin again? I’d buy it.

Travelly bits

Packing is fun.
You know how some people have gift wrapping rooms? I want a packing room/closet.
It would have my current Stolmen shelves on 3 sides, one wall for framed maps and pictures and a big table with drawers/organize-y things in the middle.
But I don’t have that and my closet is currently is kinda messy, so I’ll just make a list well in advance, put things into a designated bag for keeping  them together until the trip, then take over the bed for a while when I do actually pack.
I’ve got my annual trip to Green Bay coming up next week (umm…eeek.) and I need to take more than I usually do. I also think it will be rather nippy this time (last year I wore my jacket liner over a long sleeve SmartWool shirt and was warm enough. Crazy.)
I have a very serious down coat, a honkin’ pile o’ SmartWool things, a wool JCrew rollneck sweater (that I wore in 20 degree weather without knowing it because it is perfect) and snow boots. Actually I have two pairs of snow boots and I’m debating which ones I should take. I suspect I’ll take the lace up ones and use it as an excuse to wear leggings tucked into them the whole weekend instead of proper pants.
There’s a dress involved in this year’s round up so I have to take some girl clothes type things… yuck.
If I use Tex as a mule, I can put more shoes in his bag. I’d check a bag and just use a bigger suitcase, but I’m paranoid about checking bag on the way to a destination. The universe never actually loses your dirty laundry and smelly socks, but crucial items are fair game. (I may still check a non-essentials bag and just rough it with existing things in my carry on if they lose my checked luggage.)
I even have a new carry-on for this trip (yeah, i know I get a new bag almost every trip- but some of them get given away or re-purposed, so I don’t have that much actual luggage. I do sometimes use just bags for short trips.). I found this Lucas lightweight carry-on that is gray with a leaf pattern on it. It had butternut squash colored accents and worked with a lumbar pack I have (that I used for a weekend in Texas when I needed to be hands free as I had borked my nerve in my neck.) Atypical matching luggage, but it met my criteria and kept the inner luggage dork happy.
… until I decided to use the same bag for Green Bay.
Lucas Leaf carryon bag
I could get away with minimal packing at my grandmother’s because really I end up living in one pair of yoga pants the whole time I’m there (multiple Tshirts, socks and undies) then changing back into the plane outfit that is fit for public viewing. At most you need one of those bags that fit under the seat and a backpack full of gadgets.
But for Green Bay (and especially this year; see above.) there’s no way I could fit all my cold friggin’ weather gear in a small carry-on. So my inner freakazoid went bonkers trying to come up with a “matching” set that would hold enough for 5 days in the cold. It really only had to be a tenuous link, but a link nonetheless. So I went Marshall’s/Ross/TJ Maxx crawling (Marshall’s was the most likely success as that was where I found the original bag.) and I lucked out and found a small suitcase only $10 more than the original that matched exactly. It isn’t a wheelie but I don’t necessarily need another wheelie.
I test drove it last weekend when I stayed down close to the Monterey Aquarium last weekend and it holds a surprising amount of crap (but you have to be careful or they will get crabby on the plane and not let you in and make you check it… it’s a fine line.)
AT stuff on my cube at work.
The other thing in my head is a longer trip to the AT. About the same time frame and location as the other with a few adjustment (namely, marshmallows for mama, not eating a group meal and a slower pace with less panic that I was holding up the group.) I don’t regret a thing about the last trip, but I also would like to try a few new things while I’m there and I know myself fairly well, so adjustments will be made.
I’m not quite ready to do 6-8 weeks on the trail and do the entire state yet for a variety of reasons, but I will.
Now, gotta get on the treadmill and also start doing 4-6 miles each weekend day to get ready.

Sharks and luggage and knitting… oh my! But not really.

Week 4 of the new phone. I do like it a lot, but I miss my Centro.
Its been kind of a funky transition that I suppose most people go through when moving (house/car/phone). I’m having to consolidate and reorganize all my addresses into my Gmail account rather than my Palm Desktop. I suppose I could have just done an export, but I figured after 14 years of the same database with only cursory tidying up over the last however-many-years it was time to start afresh. Like spring cleaning.
Of course, I’m getting a little obsessive over it, would you expect any less from me? No, I thought not.

The search for a bluetooth keyboard continues. I actually have the perfect keyboard (Stowaway) but when I opened it up to get it going with Roy Batty, several screws fell out of it and a piece of plastic broke off. So I put the whole pile in a ziploc bag and glare at it from time to time while I google other options. Pesky items that don’t last even 10 years. Hell, my cat lasted longer than that.

Speaking of hell and my cat, I managed to extract several videos of Bunny meowing at me from my Centro and put them on my new phone. I have to watch them rather judiciously or I’m a mess for about 12 hours.

The long weekend coming up promises to be filled with sharks and chores. Possibly some knitting. The trip to Green Bay looms as well. I’ll write up a packing list and a musing on luggage next. I’ve learned its best not to try to logic myself out of wanting matching luggage… it’s…well, dangerous. I might regret it, but it doesn’t seem to matter.
Know thyself and thy carry-on luggage neuroses.

Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo

Sunday we spent the day at Mikey's having the pre-birthday celebration for Tex (cupcakes and puppy dog noses trying to get in the cupcakes) and was a pretty good day. We got back to the apartment and fed Bunny, who was acting pretty normal, though she started slowing down about an hour later and then her front leg seemed to fill with fluid very quickly.
She wasn't acting right so I carried her on to the bed to pet her.
Her leg was tender, it was swollen so it would be tender, but I couldn't find a break or a cut. But she also wasn't putting much weight on it, so there was something wrong.
She started acting disoriented, but not in pain and it was one of the things animals do before they die… I really couldn't deal with THAT decision right then, so I tried to get her to settle and talked to her to keep her calm.
I thought I was losing her.
I turned up the warming pad in her bed to keep her comfy and just talked to her for about an hour. I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I was going to lose her at that point.
When she finally  stretched out on the heating pad and sighed a little Bunny sigh, I figured we were out of the woods. Poor little kitty doesn't have very much blood as it is, when she gets cold I supposed it gathers center mass and leaves her brain to its own devices. Also, her leg drained nicely and she rested for a while as long as I stayed there. So I didn't move.
I fell asleep sideways on the bed and woke up about 3 am with my legs killing me (from hanging over the side of the bed) and had to pee like mad. When I got up, she stood up, all perky-like, meowed and hopped off the bed as neat as you please to go to the kitchen for her 3am snack.
I was still worried about her the next morning even though she was moving around well, eating like a little lion and generally acting her normal self. Tex was home all day Monday, so I went to work and left her in his care (he was a wreck at this point). I called the vet and told them about what happened and asked my vet to call me back with a yay/nay on bringing her in for a look-see and also what her test results were from last time.

Eventually, my very tolerant and long suffering veterinarian calls me back and says that her numbers are improving, that we should keep all her medicines at current levels and to keep doing what I am doing. He wasn't as concerned about the fluid build up in her leg as it had already receded. He did agree with my theory about her getting cold and her internal pumps going a little cattywampus.
Then he said he really didn't need to see her for another 6 months.
This kind of floored me because I got the impression from his last visit, because he didn't give out a year’s prescription on the fluids and needles, that he didn't believe she had that long left… and she had lost a little more weight last time, I thought she was starting her final decline.
Such relief that I get to  be around her a lot more.
She's such a sweet little cat. She's smart, she's hilarious, she loves me and frankly after 18 years of having her around, I don't know what I will do without her. I was basically a different person when I got her.
So, I still have my little kitty and I'll do every thing I possibly can for her while she still wants to be here.
Punto; full stop.

Have I talked about her lineage?
I worked at a bookstore in Austin and worked with some seriously awesome people. Melvyn (his nickname, I have a thing for nicknames…you may have noticed) and Amy were roomies before Melvyn became my roomie. Amy had Peanut the cat who was a dark brown calico. She had a litter at one point and one of those kitties went to her brother Marshall in San Antonio. Marshall had a problem with not spaying his cats, so lucky for me, she had kittens; I asked for the runt and got Bunny.
She's part siamese, I believe, and part calico. I always hear that she is the most beautiful cat… and she is :) . She started off with dark ears and tail and the rest of her was white with cream spots. Gorgeous then and gorgeous now that she darkened up over time (that's siamese trait)  to dark brown, caramel and tan (calico markings). Silky fur and blue eyes…not to mention the siamese talkative thing. She's got quite the vocabulary. She even has special meows for different people; ring tones effectively.

I've mentioned before what weird luck I have. In fact, I wouldn't call it luck per se, but more along the lines of balance put upon me.
Something horrible happens and then something offsets it.
Bunny seemed like she was dying, then she was ok and I find out her numbers are actually very good.
or then what happened MON night…
My car's Check Engine light came on and I find out its just a little hose that we replaced summarily with a minimum of jostling… and I don't even have to use up my spare $100 part I keep in the car for the more common failure.

At 150k miles, the beast is a work horse. I love this car.
Its comfy, it gets reasonable gas mileage and its of a vintage that its still repairable by a non-dealer mechanic. (Even more awesome is the fact that Tex's nephew is my pet mechanic and we bribe him with computer parts and keep his machine going). I even have a spare ignition coil to fix it on the spot when I get that particular code showing on the code reader. However, it turned out not to be the case in this one. It was the mass airflow filter that we'd replaced a while back, and I didn't have a spare one of those…but Michael looked at it and said "Hmmm, this hose feels funny."
He replaced it and so far, so good. 

So, Bunny still trotting around nicely, the tension levels (well, Bunny related tensions) in the house have calmed (ants are back…grr. I don't want to move but Tex is insane when the ants show up. We'll see what happens.(read:if he wants to move my apartment full of crap, he'll get off his butt, go find a place and organize the money to do so himself. I'm busy taking care of Bunny and the rest of life right now.)) and I think I found a reasonable option for keeping her warm when the radiator is off. Summer is coming and in NorCal is COLD.
I got one of those pop-up dog crates. I turned it on its side so that one of the vents was under her, the other one, now on top, I covered with a dishtowel to keep the warm air in and then covered the whole thing with a beach towel for insulation.
Her warming pad and current towel I moved in wholesale and set it all on the couch.

She was not amused.

She walked in and stood there with her tail swishing in that I'm-irritated-with-you way and didn't move for a full minute. Then she turned around, walked out and then climbed all over me (I was sitting in the chair where her bed used to be.) and gave me The Look several times.
After about 45 minutes, she got in, turned around and lay down, but still gave me the look telling me that this wasn't over yet. (I called it "The Oven"… obvious joke of "The Bun is in The Oven" followed shortly after.)
I think that it will hold enough heat to keep her a bit more comfy, but I'm sure we'll tweak the setup over time and see if she starts to get used to it.

So, the plan for the next six months it to keep her weight up. We're talking ounces, so a regular scale is useless, she's not featherweight so a kitchen scale is too wimpy, and some of the larger scales seem overkill.
My fabulous find? A travel luggage scale. Works in ounces and is compact. I'll just stuff her in a carrier for a few minutes every few weeks and weigh her; I'm sure she'll love that.

PACKING LIST:Super-cool reusable Trader Joe’s Grocery Bags

Remember in Friends where they all go to the beach and Joey shows up with a paper bag…?

Joey: (walking up carrying a brown paper bag) Hey!

Monica: Oh, hey! Oh good, you brought food!

Joey: No, it’s just my luggage.

yeah well this particular packing list is sort of like that…but with a Trader Joe’s reusable bag.
They are the perfect size, sturdy, cool looking and are wonderful even if you can’t really sling them over your shoulder (but really, if I was THAT concerned with it, I wouldn’t be using Joey Luggage.)

For a last minute “Hey! let’s jump in the car after work run off down the coast this weekend!*” like in college. (yes you are allowed to stock up on munchies at Trader Joe’s on the way out.)

  • Trader Joe’s grocery bag
  • Trader Joe’s citrus sampler kit
  • towel
  • swimsuit
  • yoga pants
  • polar fleece sweatshirt
  • bandanna

*We’ll assume you don’t have prior commitments, your cell phone is charged and you don’t have pets that will starve without you there.