The offensive mouse

I wanted a mouse to take to meetings at work, but I didn’t want a black one that could be confused with everyone else’s mouse. So I bought a pink one.
Not long after I started using this mouse I looked closely at the design. It looks like a pole dancer! It’s definitely some dancing woman with quite the body and long designer arms that remind me of Barrel of Monkeys monkey arms. Soon other people came to know my mouse as the Naked Lady Mouse.

It was obscure enought that I continued to use it, but I just didn’t understand the design the manufacturer chose. Then last week I rode my bike to work and when I arrived, the Naked Lady Mouse didn’t work. The little receiver had cracked during my travels. Fortunately my laptop always does well on this trip! I put it in a foam sleeve but I guess that wasn’t enough for the mouse receiver.

To round out the story, when I came out to my bike that afternoon, I found a friend had decorated it with a joke magnet that had previously gone undetected on her car for weeks. But everyone at work saw it on my bike right when they went in the door!


I bought a new mouse. It’s the same model, but it’s BLUE. No design.

Málaga, wrapping up bike tour

ongoing account of May trip to Spain

Just a neat shot of the palms along the streets

In Constitution Square

Another vegetarian restaurant! More good food

I asked the tour leader what she recommended for an evening activity and made arrangements with the Polish couple to ride with them the next day to another city. Next up: the “white village” of Mijas

Málaga, beach on bike tour

ongoing account of May trip to Spain

1-3. Every bike tour should stop at the beach for a drink! We sat in the sun and had a sweet wine, Málaga Dulce. In that first picture they’re cooking seafood in the small yellow and white boat.
4. Hans Christian Andersen statue, with a duck in his bag (patito feo). He enjoyed his time spent in the city and now spends every day in the sun facing the sea.

Málaga, more bike tour

ongoing account of May trip to Spain

Picasso sits on a bench in Plaza de la Merced where he was born in 1881. (Antonio Banderas was born in this city too.)

Mosques become churches with a little paint

At the bullring. I was glad to hear they only have fights a couple times per year here… but many cities have bullrings. Meanwhile Catalonia has banned bullfighting just this year, though it may be less a statement of cruelty to animals than it is their wish to be separate from the rest of Spain.

An alley not far from Calle Larios

Málaga, bike tour

ongoing account of May trip to Spain

On the second day I decided to go on a bike tour, which was led by a native English speaker who moved to Málaga a few years back, and I was joined by a young couple from Poland who now live in Glasgow (plus the husband is half Algerian, I think, and his English had a lot of Scottish brogue to it!). We saw several of the same places I had toured the previous day, but this time I got a lot of back story and also found new sights to explore.

1. Calle Larios, where my hostel was located
2. statue near the hostel
3. on the bikes
4. The Alcazaba from the top of the building across the street
5. The Roman theater from across the street. It was only rediscovered in the 1950s
6-7. Holy Week (Semana Santa) celebrations in many cities in Andalusia (and other Hispanic-influenced parts of the world) are elaborate. The description of the marching people carrying these massive thrones down the streets made me want to visit during the religious holidays someday. I had seen huge doors the previous day, which turned out to house a couple thrones decorated with gold, silver, lace, and elaborate embroidered fabrics. The party we saw the night before was a fundraiser for these huge floats which are stored all around the city by the various groups who have cared for them for centuries (plus they are too big to keep in the churches). The woman who ran the bike tour knew the people who managed this building and they let us in to see the thrones up close.

An idea of the street processions:

Sea kayaking

Two weekends ago, David and I did an all day sea kayaking course. Our group picnicked on Sandycove island which got smaller and smaller as the tide came in, saw a seal poking its head out in the harbor because boats mean fishermen feeding them, and explored caves in the cliff walls from Kinsale Harbo(u)r down to the Old Head Pier. Neither of us fell in! Can’t say the same for some other guy who was adjusting his shirt one moment and slipping into the sea the next. I was INCREDIBLY exhausted the next day; not sure what was up with that but it made work a challenge.

Wildlife was mostly cormorants, jellyfish, and mussels, plus all the seagulls. Anyway the kayaking was fun but I opted out of course day 2, while David and our friend Kathleen did that this past Monday. They had to practice getting back in after intentionally falling out of the boat, and it doesn’t sound like the water was particularly comfortable even with a wet suit!

Flashback: I found a disposable 35mm camera at a petrol station (€12!) and used it during kayaking, then found a place in town that actually develops fillum. (That’s film but we can’t get over the way it’s pronounced here.) Fortunately the processing was cheaper than the camera itself. The pictures aren’t the quality I’m used to with my digital, but the risk of drowning a good camera was too high to try for snazzy photos. Also, I didn’t think paying a fortune for a special case to take my camera underwater was worth it.

And now, time to reminisce about working nights at Qualex… are they even still in business? [nope!] On busy summer nights we’d develop, print, cut, and package 40,000 rolls of film. The slowest night still had 15,000, the amount of film used by northern Indiana, southern Michigan, and a few remote MI towns that flew in their orders! The couriers would drive to every pharmacy, grocery, and photo shop within a couple hours and that’s how all your next-day and two-day processing happened. Didn’t matter if you took it to Target or Kroger: same place made it into prints.

At the time I couldn’t predict there wouldn’t be a market for any of it just a few years later. Those nights in factories make me appreciate where I am now! I did enjoy that kind of work, though.

Here you go, scanned fillum photos!

Moving on

It’s been a weird week, a combo of sad and reflective and sick of work and then doing ok until someone asks How are your dogs? I had been managing Casper’s terminal illness for months, but the last few weeks became more urgent and sad. She went from playing with Walter to having to be syringe fed in a matter of days. There was actually some relief when I made the appointment and spent the day with her last Monday, but counting down the hours and then being unable to explain to Walter where she went was gutting. Then when I finally got myself under control a few days later, I felt guilty for not being a wreck 24/7 and wondered how her life had been shortened by moving her to Ireland and changing her diet and even stuff I did five years ago. Despite knowing it was coming for months, it all seemed to happen so fast. Even cuddling with Walter just doesn’t measure up. Casper was my heart dog and he is not and as much as I love him, we don’t have that connection.

In the end David and I were with her, and I tried to make that decision when her days were more bad than good, and I know it was the right thing. Still sucks though. We are already remembering her quirks in a happy way, though. I wonder when I will see another doggy love nibble or nosing of the radiator or the fun police again.

I do want to thank everyone who sent kind words here, on Facebook, and through email… I appreciate them very much. Even if I’m a little more animal-focused than most people, I’m comforted that others recognize how important the bond can be (and so many of you are dog people that I know the feeling is understood).

Tried to keep ourselves busy the last few days… we went to a surprisingly well-attended concert in the pouring rain last week, Chicago brothers Hypnotic Brass Ensemble who were opened by a Nigerian group. They played at Charles Fort just up from our house. I think most of the people there had bought their expensive tickets ahead of time or they wouldn’t have braved the ridiculous weather. We were given free tickets so it was more of an adventure to us! David gave up before I did; we had all our fancy technical rain gear on, but mine’s all new and his seems to have lost some of its waterproofness over the years. Rain pants FTW! I love them.

Kinsale in better weather this week

Yesterday the weather was better than at the concert (though not exactly good), and we reattempted a hike in Co. Tipperary in the Galtees to Lake Muskry. We took Walter there a few weeks back and discovered it was mostly through sheep country and dogs aren’t allowed. Would have been nice for my fancy Hiking in Ireland book to have mentioned this fact… at least now I know to expect dogs not being allowed just about anywhere we want to trek. He’s a good dog but I can see why farmers wouldn’t want a dog among their livestock, plus they might shoot him or leave out poison, and that’s just not fair to chance.

Anyway, the wind howling through the valley hurt our ears but we trudged through the sheep paths and made our way up a ridge where there was a corrie (lake) suspended in the hills. It was a neat hike and we’re glad we went, but we didn’t do the whole mountain loop because it was just rather crummy out. The sheep were skittish when we got near and some of them can really run fast! David got to play with his backpacking GPS for the first time. The maps are too expensive but at least it can keep a trail of breadcrumbs running so you know how to get back.

Cycling the hills

Just a quick note to report we are still alive and the dogs are finally pooping in a recognizable manner. Casper’s age is starting to catch up to her. She’s having a hard time getting up from the floor so we help lift her rear, and David re-suggested the Collie Trolley (mostly because it sounds funny, but it started when she was falling down the basement stairs at the Indy house). She still likes to wrestle with Walter and seems happy, but it’s hard to see her get old and not be able to take her on walks into town, let alone up the cliffs Walter gets to see. I guess she never has been much of an explorer so she’s probably happy being at home anyway.

I’m working on finding a pet sitter so we can plan our adventures. The wish list (outside Ireland and Northern Ireland) includes:
-Iceland (we always intended to go there even before there was a job in Europe or a volcanic eruption)
-Glasgow (David has friends there)
-Prague (everyone says this is fabulous)
-Germany somewhere
-Paris because I figure I should

That ought to keep us busy. I figure we’ll go to as many as we can afford and make time for, plus we’ll have to see how much we hate each other after the first few trips! I feel like I’ve gotten Italy, Spain, and the UK mostly out of the way for this round.

I rode my bike to work today for the first time here. It’s less than five miles but dang the hills are hard. I’m a little worried about the way home! I need to tighten my rear brake and get in better shape as the first orders of business. I wonder how many car trips I have to replace with my bike to offset all the air travel we have planned…

Pack, purge, panic

Some random thoughts to prove I’m still alive.

I did indeed have cadaver bone put in during my osteomyelitis treatment! It was irradiated, powdered, and mixed with what is basically plaster of Paris, but it still sounds exotic. Unfortunately I’ve had some additional dental pain recently. You’d think I traumatized my teeth or something.

Arliss had her fourth surgery a week ago (vet and I agreed she didn’t need a CT scan after all) and she’s doing great! She even gained weight in the last two weeks.

Loving the Indy Winter Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. The place is PACKED and I love seeing cyclists with panniers riding in the snow! Note: the local chickens went on strike when it got super cold the last couple of weeks, so eggs were harder to come by. I like being able to get a half dozen a month since we don’t use more than that, and then I can take the carton back to the farmer to use again.

I discovered recently-reopened El Sol de Tala. This town has more Mexican (I use that as a geographic/ethnic term loosely) restaurants than you can imagine, but this one place stands out. They even have a veggie menu. It’s not the same old enchiladas anymore, people!

Following a craving, I had French toast at Denny’s, and even if they hadn’t ruined it with cinnamon and powdered sugar, it still was nowhere as good as Dad’s. He also blows away every pancake on earth.

I’ve finally heard from some of the relocation folks and the target start date in Ireland is March 1. There’s so much to do that it’s hard not just to plop on the couch with 81 SVU reruns on Tivo and ignore the obvious (that’s how many were scheduled in this two week period). One of my current focuses (okay, foci) is pantry raid: use up all the groceries that line our cupboards and freezer. In the past week we had breakfasty stuff to use up biscuits and fake sausages and last night I made chik’n and rice casserole. My freezer has several fake meat products that I’ve always kept as backup, but usually have been creative enough not to need for most cooking. I see a lot of chili in our future for the ground ‘beef’ crumbles…