Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cyber Giving Monday

My online friend Carlo Garcia launched a short campaign to encourage people to donate to our favorite causes on Cyber Monday.  He called it Cyber Giving Monday. 
I was on the road Monday, and I don't like to offer up my credit card on strange Wi-fi, but when I got home last night I made two donations:

This time of year, I always make a contribution to Best Friends Animal Society.  They have been a pioneer in taking the no-kill movement national and building a network of local shelters and rescue groups. 

Second, I made a donation to Trio Animal Foundation - a group in Chicago I mentioned not long ago - that pays the medical bills of homeless animals until they can find permanent homes.  Trio herself passed away not long ago, so to honor her and my cat Spooky I thought this was fitting.

I continue to do much of my microphilanthropy on Crowdrise, so if you'd like to join in, you can find me here.

And if you are interested in Carlo's wrap up post, it can be found here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Travels with My Aunt, by Graham Greene

Book 55

Last year, Writers' Theatre did a play based on Travels with My Aunt.  It was awesome, so I kept an eye out for the book.

Also awesome.  The premise is a retired bank manager - dullest man ever - meets his aunt for the first time and she pulls him into her crazy, crazy world.  It is one of those stories where the straight man is dragged into some goofy action and only realizes later that he had a really good time.

The play does a good job of keeping the action lively, but what the novel brings out is how quickly our hero, Henry, realizes that he hasn't really lived.  It comes out subtly, a line or two at a time.  One example is when Aunt Augusta has gone abroad without him and he says:

"Perhaps it was to prove the reality of my existence that I began a letter to Miss Keane."

The lady that he has tiptoed around for years.

Sometimes the plot gets a bit contrived, but it is a whole lot of fun.  I want to be Aunt Augusta when I grow up.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Everyman, by Philip Roth

Book 54

I read about one Philip Roth novel a year.  Unfortunately, two years in a row I have picked the ones about men whose lives are entirely defined by sexual relationships.

That isn't entirely fair.  But dude was married three times and cheated on each wife.  So the novel starts with his funeral, then tells the short story of his long life and the meditations that he did on death and dying and dying alone.

There were a couple of pretty poignant things:  one was that our Everyman (I don't recall whether he had a name) had given up having a relationship with his two grown sons.  They never forgave him for leaving their mother when they were children.  He says something like: I am not able to apologize and explain myself any more.  There is truth in that.  When you have wronged someone, you apologize and attempt to make up for the wrong (assuming you want to continue the relationship).  If they won't let it happen, if they just keep hammering at you, it isn't healthy for anyone.

Because of a couple of childhood illnesses, our hero had a long-standing relationship with Death.  It isn't exactly "another character", but it is sort of the cloud that hangs over the novel.  I am glad it was a quick read, because however profound, this isn't a place one wants to dwell.

Going to read some Christmas books now.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Reading Challenges

I trust Miss Busy to find the good Holiday Reading Challenges and these are the two she picked:

Christmas in July in December doesn't officially start until December 1, but since I am still finishing up Travels with My Aunt, I think I will be ok.

Then there is The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge.  Technically, this has already started, but I am pretty sure I can catch up.

I have scrounged a bit and come up with a list:

  1. A Christmas Secret, by Anne Perry
  2. In the Dark Streets Shineth, by David McCullough
  3. Christmas in Plains, by Jimmy Carter
  4. The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir, by Ken Harmon
  5. The Autobiography of Santa Claus, as told to Jeff Guinn
And if I finish these in time, I shall be reading A Christmas Carol again.

Small Business Saturday on Sunday

Yesterday was Ainslie's birthday party, and while I got some shopping done, I neglected Small Business Saturday:

The 2nd annual Small Business Saturday® is
a day dedicated to supporting small businesses
on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

So today, I went to Wishes Toy Wonderland, an independent toy store in Glenview.

The great thing about this store is that it carries products that you just can't find at the big box stores.  The downside, of course, is that it is rather pricey.

I didn't find anything for Alex, (because I refuse to spend money on Angry Birds stuff) but there was plenty for Ainslie and Ashlyn.

Now to start thinking about Cyber Giving Monday.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dr. Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak

Book 53

Dr. Zhivago had been sitting on my shelf for about ever until..I..cheated on my library.  I went to Northbrook to look at the audiobooks and there it was.

People.  Audio is totally the way to go with the Russian epics.

This was like War and Peace, set during a century later.  One of the reviews on LibraryThing said that the film was actually better, because the screenwriters were forced to condense the points of view to Zhivago's and Lara's which made it easier to follow.  I haven't seen the film, but I can see the point.  It is easy to lose focus.

As great love stories go, I wasn't terribly impressed.  As a narrative of the Russian Revolution, it was fabulous.  Zhivago is an educated working man with affluent roots, so either side could potentially make a friend or enemy of him.  And this was this first story I have read - fiction or non - of the Revolution that was not focused (in fact, it didn't go near) the center of power.  Parts were set in Moscow, but we never see the leaders of the nation and the name Rasputin is never spoken.

I might have to read this again sometime, because I know there are things that I missed.  And I suppose I will have to see the film.  This was worth the time.

Friday, November 25, 2011

He Was Positively Considerate

You may recall that six months ago, we lost a dog.  Shadow had a rough final year and it was hard to watch his decline.  Of course when it was over, we had another cloud hanging over our heads in that Spooky the Cat was 20 years old.

You may also recall that Spooky was the first cat we'd ever had.  Mostly because we are dog people, but also because my mother is allergic.  He was 8 1/2 when he came to live with us.

Because we are very dutiful about veterinary care, we knew that if nothing else got him, his kidneys would fail.  And I gotta tellya, I have heard terrible stuff about that.  But the older he got, the more we heard that he was in great shape for his age.  The joke was that this one would go when he decided to go and it would be damn quick.

So.  Yeah.

Wednesday he was fine.  Yesterday, we came home from my brother's house and found he'd been throwing up.  Spent the better part of the day at two different vet's offices and finally got the verdict:  abdominal mass; it was big and it was malignant.

He was already in pain; which we didn't know.  So that was it.  We had one horrible, godawful day and it was over.

So without any violin music, this is how I will remember Spooky.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Officially Part of the Problem

I’ve been doing my holiday shopping all sneaky-like for the past couple of weeks – trying to beat the crowds without owning the fact that I am now officially a part of the problem with the ever-expanding holiday season.   

I have done a fabulous job of buying myself new clothes.

I went in to Toys R Us for the kids and came out with something for my brother.

I have done extremely well in shopping for my dog.
At lunch today, I went to Ikea.  Because everyone knows that mid-week during the lunch hour is the only safe time to go to Ikea.  I was positively tripping over children.  Shouldn’t they be in school?  Apparently not.  It seems that some districts have Teacher’s Institute and some have Parent/Teacher conferences.   I have a friend in Des Plaines that said yesterday afternoon, her kid’s class had a field trip.  They went bowling.
I have already said, “Shut up” out loud to the voice in my head that is caroling.  All of the decorations are up in my office.    I have eight gifts wrapped.  People, I just bought a second tree because we have that many ornaments.  
I think I’d better stay home on Friday.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Pictures Are Back!

I was telling you all about the Adopt-a-Pet pictures with Santa.  Here they are:

All Portrait-y and Stoic

Looking Good, but Not Looking at the Camera
Smiley, or Scared?

So Gibbs wasn't entirely game, but the photo quality was great and Santa was pretty smooth.  If you are interested in your own pet portraits for a good cause, I'll repeat the details:

 When:   Saturday, Dec. 3, 10:00-2:00
Where:  Wiggly Tails Doggie Daycare
Address:  1915 Holste Rd, Northbrook
Photographer:   Kelly Fitzgerald
Reservations:   847-272-4141 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Trying the New Burger Place that I Didn't Know Existed

I was over at Old Orchard, heading in to Crate and Barrel when I noticed a new burger joint right next door.  I had never heard of Epic Burger before, but by the time I was done shopping, I was ready for red meat.  Also, my friends, family and colleagues expect me to know everything about every place to have lunch in Cook County - I am still in trouble for not trying Smashburger yet.

So.  The motto is "a more mindful burger" and while I was standing in line, I noticed the ketchup bottles on the table were Heinz Organic.  I knew not to bother asking for fries with cheese sauce.  When I reached the front of the line, I asked how big the burgers were.  I may have mentioned that since I gave up the giving up of junk food, I have gotten serious about kid-sizing.

The regular burger is 1/3 pound (there is an option for a double) and a junior is 1/4 pound.  I ordered a junior cheeseburger.  The cheese options were "blue, cheddar and havarti".  I went with havarti.  They also have a fried egg option (which seems to be getting more popular these days) and nitrate-free bacon.  And plenty of other stuff, although now that I think about it, I don't remember seeing avocado.

Avocado makes everything better.

 The bun appeared to be fresh made and was grilled with butter.  The havarti involved horseradish, which I would absolutely not have done if I had known, but it was only one slice so it didn't overwhelm the meat.  Overall, it was very tasty.  The fries were crispy, which isn't always the case when they are fresh cut.  Along with the organic Heinz on the table was a bottle of Grey Poupon, but they make you walk over to the condiment display to get a shaker of salt.  That's just not normal.  I'd call it hardcore, but they aren't really hardcore because they do have a soda fountain that includes phosphoric acid (even if it is Pepsi products).

I paid what I would normally pay for lunch out..$8 or $10.  The seating area was clean, but I could see it being very cramped during the lunch rush.  The staff was pleasant.  My table was bussed before I had my coat on, which turns some people off.  But again - lunch rush.

Then I came home and checked out the website.  It includes nutritional information, so I plugged in my meal.  1279 calories, minus whatever the difference between a regular and a junior burger and the fact that I didn't eat all of the fries.  Not tragic for a burger and fries, and I was hella full.

I think I can recommend it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Losing Mum and Pup, by Christopher Buckley

Book 52

I haven't read any of Christopher Buckley's fiction, but I read great things about this memoir when it was released.  His story is that of a middle aged only child who lost both parents in the span of a year.  Add on that his parents were William F. and Patricia Buckley and there was no way this book wouldn't be good.

I was right.  It was great.

He won me over right away by saying that he never meant to write a book about his parents, but that "when the universe hands you material like this, not writing about it seems either a waste or a conscious act of evasion".  He apologizes nearly every time he name drops.

But here is an example:

St. Patrick's Cathedral limits each funeral to two eulogies.  For his father's funeral, he was doing one and Henry Kissinger was doing the other.  Then the White House called.  Dick Cheney would like to attend, and to speak.  So Christopher had to decide - drop his own eulogy, boot Kissinger (a great friend of his father) or decline Cheney. 'Cause there is no arguing with St. Pat's.

Cheney was out.

I particular liked the stories of Patricia Buckley.  Apparently, she was a storyteller in the sense that you could never quite tell if her stories were true.  Put that on top of the ability to throw a helluva party and I would've loved to be her friend.  Seriously, look at that cover photo.  She was clearly fabulous.

Finally, I listened to the audiobook, which Buckley narrated himself.  Listening to a guy quote his own parents is pretty cool.

I am not rushing out to pick up any Buckley fiction - Boomsday just sounded morbid - but I will probably stop and look the next time I see his name.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Adopt-a-Pet, Inc.

On Sunday, Morton Grove Animal Hospital hosted an event for Adopt-a-Pet: Holiday Pet Photos.  The office isn't terribly far from my house, and Dr. B is a Crowdrise buddy, so I took Gibbs over for a portrait with Santa Claus.

Hi, my name is Anne and I just paid $10 for my dog to have his picture taken with Santa Claus.

For charity, people.

I actually took Gibbs to the dog park before heading over.  I somehow thought that if he was tired, he would cooperate better.  Ha.

They had two options - snapshot that you could take with you or digital to be e-mailed at a later date and you better believe I took the digital.  They also had a "paw print painting" holiday card thing, but that might have been more than Gibbs could stand.

I am happy to report that Gibbs was perfectly pleasant to everyone that he saw - except perhaps that one lady that eyed him suspiciously as her 10 pound darling walked by us.  He might have barked.  Then it was over.  I am thinking he just didn't understand the concept of a dog wearing a sweater.

He was less than pleased with the photo session and barely stopped squirming long enough to snap the shots.  Luckily, the photographer had an awesome camera and is certain that he got what he needed.  Santa was very patient (there were Hanukkah options also) and the other volunteer had squeaky props to get the dog's attention.  I don't have the pictures back yet, but it felt pretty professional to me.

Adopt-a-Pet also had fresh baked dog biscuits for sale and we went home with a small bag of those.  Gibbs likes pumpkin cookies.

So why am I posting about this when I don't even have a picture?  Because Adopt-a-Pet has one more such event scheduled:

When:   Saturday, Dec. 3, 10:00-2:00
Where:  Wiggly Tails Doggie Daycare
Address:  1915 Holste Rd, Northbrook
Photographer:   Kelly Fitzgerald
Reservations:   847-272-4141 

Morton Grove Animal Hospital also has a Crowdrise project to support Adopt-a-Pet.  The group's next volunteer orientation happens to be at Glenview's library on December 3 at 1pm.  And oh, do they have the cutest black cocker spaniel available for adoption.

Monday, November 14, 2011

November Blanket Day and Blanket 62

Saturday was Blanket Day for our chapter of Project Linus.  I am sorry to say that I totally forgot to take pictures.  But the final product looks pretty much the same every time:

This day's take resembled 560 blankets bagged, tagged and ready to deliver.

I was working on this:

It had been awhile since I'd done a fully crocheted blanket.  This was Bernat's Waverly yarn in Greek Sea and Aqua Frost.  It really irritates me that the one skein was clearly shorter than the others.  But it is a thing that I doubt the kids will judge.  Otherwise, I really liked that yarn and I finished the blanket that night over an audio book.

Judy and Linda, the chapter coordinators, mentioned that they were looking for volunteers to help with some other chapter stuff: delivering blankets, newsletter, tagging blankets, etc.  I said that I'd do anything that could be done online - so we'll see where that goes.  And we have Starbucks night on Wednesday, which means I am sure to come home with a big pile of prepared fleece.

Until then, I am working on scarves and..scarves.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes

After my last visit to the cupcake truck in Washington, I told several colleagues that they were insane.  The lemon cupcake was clearly superior to the red velvet.  A non-zero number didn't even want to talk about Curbside Cupcakes, because just that week a colleague in PR had brought pumpin cupcakes to the office and they were the best thing ever.

So the next time I happened to be passing by the lady's office, I told her that the building had judged her cupcakes better than Curbside's.  She laughed and said it was a recipe from Emeril.

I told my mother this story when I came home and she went online to find these mythical cupcakes.  Before tracking it down, she found one from Betty Crocker that involved using a dry yellow cake mix, a can of pumpkin and some other stuff.  She ran with it:

She actually roasted pecans.  A woman that wouldn't make the cake from scratch roasted pecans for the icing.

They were good.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Lake of Dreams, by Kim Edwards

Book 51

I have said before that nothing is more boring than listening to people talk about their dreams.  I have found one.  It is listening to fictional characters talk about their dreams.

This is a chick book.  And I had just about given up on it by the third CD, but there was one plot thread that kept me interested.  Mostly, I found the main character boring.

Prodigal daughter comes home during a crossroads in her life and confronts family drama centering on her father's death 10 years before.  Insert 100-year old family letters illuminating a mysterious aunt no one had ever heard of before whose life must have something to teach our lost little heroine.


The supporting characters are, thankfully, more interesting.  But the thing is, the twists and turns weren't terribly surprising.  The only really shocking moment was when Lucy went "nightswimming" by herself and.....didn't get caught.  I guess I have seen too many soap operas.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A few months ago, Chicago lost its alternative radio station.  There aren't very many rock stations left, and Q101 was a Gen X staple.  If I remember correctly, it launched the summer that I left for college.  I had two clues that it was fading:

  1. Each December, they would run the top 100 songs of each year they had been on the air, and listeners could vote on their favorite year.  Those 100 songs would be played again on New Years Eve.  The same year's songs won every single time.  That would be 1994.  The #1 song was "Closer" - Nine Inch Nails.  They stopped that particular holiday event.
  2. Joy and I were talking about Q101 and she commented, "All their songs are old."  I immediately denied it, but then I started noticing.  
Well.  Music was just better in the 90's.  Or something.  Damn, we are old.

So.  Some conglomerate decided to kill Q101 and start an FM news radio station.  But in its final week, all the old DJs started calling in and they would talk about music and antics and I remembered how many of them I liked.  

I remembered hearing that Q101 would live on, but I hadn't actually gone online and played the live stream.  Someone mentioned it on my twitter feed, and I clicked over.

It is Q101 music. With no DJs.  And no commercials!  Some people are trying to build its online presence and perhaps get it back on the air.  (You know what's playing right now?  Limp Bizkit covering George Michael!  Ha!) So.  Facebook.  Twitter. Check it out.

I swear, I am listening more now than when they were on the air.  Apparently, I am not the only one:

"96,000+ listeners in September....GREW to 156,000+ in October! Thank you for listening to!!!!"

I could do without the multiple exclamation points.  

So, now I listen to whenever I am at home, online and not otherwise audio-occupied.  I listened to it when I was at the library.  I listened when I was in Washington!


I love the Internet.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Genetic Testing - The Results

I had my follow up appointment last Friday with the MD and genetic counselor.  It was not too terrible a preamble before the verdict: the test came back Normal, meaning that no genetic mutations were found in my BRCA gene.  The doctor said the degree of accuracy is around 93%.

They explained that in light of this result, they reviewed a whole bunch of models and determined that my probability of having a breast cancer diagnosis in my lifetime is about 17.5% - slightly elevated due to the family history but factoring in the Normal BRCA gene.  The protocol in my case is to continue annual clinical exams and monthly self exams, plus step up the mammogram schedule so that I have them annually beginning now, rather than after age 40.
My statistical probability of having ovarian cancer is that of the average woman – about 1.5% - or perhaps a bit lower since I have been using birth control pills for many years.
And that was it.

Following is the cost breakdown.  Please note that this coverage may vary from plan to plan, and may be subject to proof of medical necessity.  You should do your own homework with your provider before pursuing these tests.
Initial appointment:
Retail cost was $278, BCBS negotiated down to $212.  Because I have met my out-of-pocket limit this year, it was 100% covered.
Lab #1:

Retail cost was $700.  BCBS negotiated to 639.57 and covered 100%.  Again, there is a protocol to determine “medical necessity” for my insurance plan and the doctor confirmed that I met the terms before we ran the test.  This lab picks up 90% of the mutations of the BRCA gene.  If this comes back Abnormal, they would not have run the second, more expensive, lab.
Lab #2:

Picks up much fewer mutations, but covers some territory that the first lab doesn’t.  It is also far more expensive: $3,340.00 retail.  BCBS negotiated it to $3,044.03 and covered at 100%.
I presume the cost of the follow up appointment will be no more than the cost of the initial appointment, but I don’t have the report back from my insurance company.  Which leads me to say something you don’t hear very often:

Thank you, to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and my awesome employer for providing this coverage.  This issue has been a cloud hanging over my head for as long as I can remember and while this test is no guarantee of anything, I am controlling what I can control. And I feel much, much better now. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Blankets 59 - 61

The lighting here is so messed up that you can't even tell that the fleece is pink.  The yarn was Red Heart's Monet.  Four rows, single crochet.

This was Red Heart's Lemon.  Three rows single crochet.

This actually is a yellow fleece.  Four rows single crochet in Red Heart's Watercolor.

I have also been making loads of scarves - around 20 by now.  My mother has made three.  When I called her out, she said, "You haven't done anything else!"

Really?  Because it looks like I have made sixty-one blankets for Project Linus!  And counting.

The next Blanket Day for the North and Central Chicagoland is next Saturday.  Details here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Homer and Langley, by E.L. Doctorow

Book 50

Doctorow's latest novel made a big splash last year partly because it is (very loosely) based on the lives of a pair of eccentric, reclusive brothers that lived on 5th Avenue.  Basically, Doctorow took a couple of facts - the brothers lived alone in a huge, inherited townhouse, they retreated from the world and hoarded stuff until  they were old men.  Finally, they were found dead: one was crushed by stuff and the other, who was disabled, starved to death.

Doctorow imagined how they might have lived in their own heads as the world continue to turn around them.  Awesome premise.

I mostly bought it.  The perspective was a first person narrative of Homer, the physically disabled brother.  Langley is the brother that came home from the (frist World) War badly damaged.  As Langley's mental health slowly deteriorates, Homer just kind of goes along with all the weirdness.  Buying and reading every city paper - morning and evening - and keeping them, was the very first.  There were several times when I found myself saying to Homer, "Dude....stop him now!"  But I guess when you are caught up in the madness every single day, it is easy to lose the big picture of the situation.

This book was sad and now that I am thinking about it, the other Doctorow novels I have read are infused with sadness.  He must be really good to keep me coming back.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Genetic Testing - Preamble and First Appointment

I am pursuing genetic testing to determine my risk for breast and ovarian cancer.  Every person that I have told has had a hundred questions, so I thought it worth writing:

It starts with my grandmother - the first of three sisters diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had been pondering genetic testing for a couple of years, and when my mother was diagnosed with an ovarian mass (benign, thankfully), I was spooked enough to talk to my doctor.  He gave me a referral to the group at NorthShore University Health and I made an appointment.
When I called, the lady who answered the phone said that she would be sending me a questionnaire asking for health and family history so the doctors would have the information in front of them in advance of my appointment.  She was very confident that my insurance would cover the initial appointment and explained that they would not run any labs without confirmation that insurance is approved for them.
The questionnaire was pretty detailed – we had to make some phone calls to fill in details.  Caught up on some family gossip, I daresay.  But going through the process crystallized something that I already felt in my gut.  Cancer is a Bastard that really likes my family.
When I arrived for the appointment, I first spoke with a genetic counselor.  She confirmed her understanding of the details I had written and started building it out in the form of a tree.  The breast cancer history was clearly the glaring scary thing on the page.  Then she explained the statistics on breast cancer (I hope I remember this correctly):
1.       The average woman has about a 12% chance of a breast cancer diagnosis at some point in her life.

2.       A woman with The Bad Gene has a 60 – 85% chance.  And a 30% chance of developing ovarian cancer, which is utterly terrifying.

3.       There is a third group that they are calling “clusters” in a family that has not The Bad Gene, but some combination of other genetic and environmental factors that increase the breast cancer likelihood to 20% or so.

Apparently, my grandmother may have been part of a “cluster” rather than The Bad Gene.  The fact that two of the three were definitely past menopause at the age of diagnosis is..encouraging is a weird word, but whatever.
By the time the doctor came in to review, he gave me this easy math.  Even if my grandmother had the gene, there is only a 50/50 that my mother has it.  And in that event, there is only a 50/50 that I have it.  That’s a 25% chance on a presumption that my grandmother had The Bad Gene.  The probability was small enough that he wasn’t even sure that my insurance would cover the labs.
Finally, they walked me through the test process – blood draw and follow up consultation.  Then the What ifs.  If the test is positive, my ovaries have to go and a preventative double mastectomy may be in order.  I could see the counselor trying to determine whether I would be traumatized.  Not.  I am pretty open to all of the options.  If the test is negative, my risk factor may still be high enough to step up the testing schedule for mammograms and perhaps even the MRI.  They asked me if I still wanted to pursue the tests.
I had my blood drawn and made a follow up appointment.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Very Facebook Halloween

One of the more amusing things on Facebook is the Halloween pics.  My friends' kids in costume.  This is a list:

  • Big brother was Joker and little brother was Robin.
  • Big brother was Buzz Lightyear and little sister was Daphne from Scooby Doo (that one was awesome).
  • Big sister was candy corn witch and little sister was a vampire.  Their friend was zombie Alice in Wonderland.
  • Twin sister Hobbits
  • Lamb
  • Cow
  • Big brother G.I. Joe, little sister Super Girl
  • Big brother firefighter, little sister princess
  • Michael Jackson
My brother is lame, and has not posted pictures of his kids.  Alex had waffled on the costume.  He has been Spiderman for two years straight, so he thought he would be Batman.  Then he said he wanted to be a football player.  Ainslie and Ashlyn were going as Dora and Boots.

And a gratuitous puppy pic.  This was from the October Facebook album from Doggie Do Rite:

The caption read: "Gibbs is all grown up, well almost.."