Monday, December 29, 2008

Read any good books lately?

Our society is growing stupider by the second, gentle readers!! My proof? Think about the question we pose to acquaintances that we know we must talk to politely but have no idea what to say:
How 'bout that weather, huh?
This is a Question for All Seasons in Texas, where a spell of perfectly normal, seasonally-appropriate weather is so out of the ordinary that it's worth a comment. But it's not likely to be a lengthy conversation ...
Oh yeah, 84 the day after Christmas, back down to 40 the next day ... um ... sun's shining ... yup.
... nor is it likely to be edifying ...
I keep a weather glass in my house that lets me know when the barometric pressure is falling or rising, but the layman can tell by the presence of rain or strong winds whether (ha!) a cold or warm front is coming through, and it's safe to say that structures erected on the north Texas landscape have had an impact on what kind of weather we get around here nowadays--for instance ...
Suddenly, I don't care if weather talk is edifying or not.

Anyway, I'm on a one woman mission to resurrect an excellent question:
Read any good books lately?
It's an excellent question! And lemme tell ya, carrying Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses around my grandmother's house through Christmas was an excellent conversation starter even if I did get a few funny looks! The world would be a much better, smarter place if we gave less of our time up to discussing the weather and spent it instead giving discourse on the last novel, short story or poetry collection, or essay we read.

So, gentle readers, read any good books lately? Then do leave a comment!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

News so great you'll splode!

(For those of you reaching for your dictionaries, "splode" is a Cute Overload term that, not shockingly, means "explode," but cutely.)

It's a very Very Special Loquacious Loquat kinda day over here at ... well, the Loquacious Loquat. I hope the readership will be pleased with this one:
Hello,

Alexis is doing good. She is walking more. YEA! She is now walking from chair to chair at therapy. She does have a person on each side of her, but she is holding mostly her own weight. She walked 3 times about 10 steps each time. She even started stepping backwards to sit down. YEA! She is so excited about walking. Alexis walks on a treadmill in the water at water therapy one day a week also. She loves water therapy. She can't wait for Thursdays. I can't wait till the pictures come back so that I can show you all of her progress. MIRACLES DO HAPPEN.

At school, Alexis's best friend Emily is having some competition. (Emily has been out sick alot) Alexis is receiving letters from other friends saying "Taylor is Alexis's best friend" When Alexis walks down the ramp, Taylor and Emily had to figure out a schedule so they could take turns. So, Monday, is Emily day to walk down the ramp with Alexis. Tuesday is Taylor's day to walk down the ramp with Alexis. Wednesday is Emily's day to walk down the ramp. Thursday, is Taylor's day to walk down the ramp. Friday, both girls walk with Alexis down the ramp. I am so glad that the kids accept and love Alexis.

I did have another situation with one teacher. It is the same teacher as before. She again didn't send home the work for Alexis then gave Alexis a paper for a grade. So, I had to remind her that I am willing and want to help Alexis by reviewing any work from school prior to being graded on the work. This teacher just doesn't want to follow the IEP, which is the law. I am tired of her wasting my time. So I sent a letter to her bosses. The rest of the school is AWSOME. So, I am hoping that this one teacher starts doing what she is suppose to do, to help Alexis and stop wasting my time, arguing with her.

Alexis is getting alot of mail. One card came from Spain. Then, Alexis received a card offering her to go on an airplane ride in the Spring. Cool! Alexis received 126 cards in one day. She is having so much fun reading each card, and finding the location where the card came from. Alexis looks on the globe or map to find where each card comes from. Alexis enjoys reading the comments people write in the cards. One person wrote "Santa told me to send you mail, and I do what Santa tells me" I KNOW THAT SANTA IS REAL. Alexis has proof. One person wrote "I am elderly and I can't see to drive, so I wrote a letter" Ahh. I decided to call Alexis's mail ANGEL MAIL. I appreciate that people are taking time from their busy day and thinking of Alexis. I believe that there are angels that come to Alexis's rescue. I know we are blessed. One person sent me an email from Pennsylvania and saying that the district will be sending Alexis mail and that "Alexis has a heart which only one could wish for." "I wish that I personally did know her" She continued to say "The true reason for this time of year-giving" This was a beautiful email. I am proud to be Alexis's mom. I am proud that Alexis is a giver and does touch peoples heart from all over the globe. We are having so much fun with the mail. It is so exciting everyday.

We went to see Santa at the Cleveland Sight Center. I said to Alexis "Do you think Santa will have a present for me?" Alexis said "You get a present everyday mommie" then she said "I give you smiles and make you laugh every day and that is the best present mommie" I said "You are right Alexis"

I have attached a picture for you. It takes a minute of two to download, but it is really a cute Christmas picture.

Love,
Rachel and Alexis
You can also see her picture here. She's a cute girl! :) I hope you wrote to her too!

A sad anniversary

I ought to have written this yesterday, but I didn't have much computer time and didn't get back home until 2 AM (and just the thought of that is making me sleepy all over again). That said, I published this a year ago today, and I would like to reissue it.

My friend who gave birth at 25 weeks--her baby died yesterday morning. They were able to hold him one last time. I wanted to pass along this information that has been in the back of my memory banks for years, but that I've only thought of again as I think of him. This is for Tyler.

There are groups all over the country who make receiving blankets for infants who die after birth, are stillborn, or are even miscarried (very tiny blankets). After the baby is gone, the grieving family will still have the blanket to hold on to during those difficult times (and there will be many of them). So for my readers who can knit, crochet, and sew, here's a list of those places:

Afghans for Angels - Headquarters
Afghans for Angels - State Chapters
Afghans for Angels - Starting a New Chapter (if your state isn't represented)
Texas Moms of Tiny Angels

I had hoped to have more, but there are a lot of dead links lurking about.

In addition, NICUs are in constant need of baby clothes for preemies--chances are good your local hospital would love to get some from you. And if you don't knit, crochet, or sew (or if you're like me, you only sew, and you find that knitting and crocheting are skills in higher demand), note that Afghans for Angels always needs old-fashioned safety pins and postage stamps to mail the blankets.

Thanks everyone. Hope you all had a merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christ is born!

Glorify Him!


A merry Christmas to one and all from your favorite loquats! May your bellies be filled with large slabs of the meat of your choosing (or a scrumptious Tofurkey cutlet)! And remember also those without food or shelter and those who are alone on this day. A perhaps write a little note to a sweet little ten year old girl, hmm? (See post below.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Letter writers, get on it!

I was alerted to this via Budgets are Sexy, which is weird but does suggest that I'm not the only one with a "it's my blog and I'll write what I please" complex.

One little girls wish is to receive mail. She has Cerebral Palsy. This is the cheapest easiest good deed one could do....This little girl just wants mail for christmas. If you can find it in your rotten lil hearts to write this angel a letter, I am sure Santa will be very happy....

Alexis Krosky
PO Box 195
Columbiana, Ohio 44408

For more info:
All I want for Christmas is for you to write this little girl :(
If You Own a Pen, Paper and Compassion

And do let me know if you write her so I can know if I have any impact on peoples' actions and so I can possibly guilt you into it!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let Winter Break BEGIN!

Winter break + computer games = Awake until 2 AM + no time to talk to anyone.

The break is much needed. I'm more than happy to have my husband home for a good two weeks. Maybe we'll actually get the tree up and decorated!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I would be remiss not to mention these things

I seem to pay special attention to all things WWII and anything else even mildly related. If you recall "No Laughs, No Thrills, and Villains All Too Real" and my commentary thereon, then you may also be interested in "Berlin memorial to Roma WWII dead." Roma, for the uninitiated, are more commonly known as gypsies, which is in fact a derogatory name. I don't know about anyone else, but it seems to me to be easy to forget that Jews were not the only people who died in the Holocaust. Roma are still despised across Europe--violence against them is frequent and brutal. I don't think Americans really get that: During the Olympics, NBC went back to Athens to look at the remnants of their Olympic arenas. In one decimated location, the reporter announced that all the copper pipe had been "stolen by gypsies." That's like reporting here that a house was broken into by black people. All that to say that a memorial to the Roma lost in WWII is a bigger deal than we may imagine.

Also call to mind my post "Oh, what will those young rapscallions come up with next?!" on the future of our nation deciding "Hit a Jew Day" was perfectly acceptable. You may know where I'm going next, and I'm sorry to do it: The Hitler cake. I don't want to say too much because I feel this has been run terribly into the ground by now, except to say that I can't make heads or tales of this family. I fully expected white supremacists, but they're not really (if you can get past the whole Holocaust denial thing). I think they're just nuts. And I don't condone naming your kids Adolf Hitler and Aryan Nation, much like I don't condone giving your kids names they'll be embarrassed by when they're 40. (Always ask yourself, When their youth is gone, will my children hate me for naming them _______?) The Australians are the worst about this--"Sex Fruit" is a terrible name for a child, folks. (Google "Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii" and for the lists of weird names of children from the OZ.)

Class dismissed.

May I ask a silly question?

Well, sure, it's my blog. I'll do as I please here.

Anyway, does anyone know why Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Sterne's Tristram Shandy, apparently a volume of both works together, is in the nonfiction section at the library? I'd sure hate to see the poor sucker who stumbled upon it and thought that was reality!

Three possible answers:
1. It's mislabeled.
2. They viewed them as social satire instead of fiction. (That's my most forgiving answer.)
3. It's a study guide for both books. (But there's a logical follow-up question to this: Why does the library have three different study guides for Tristram Shandy and no copies of the book itself?)

Ah. Apparently it's part of the Great Books of the Western World series--volume 36, to be exact. Weird.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where the computer games at?

They're supposed to arrive in the mail today.

C'mon, UPS! One can only do wholesome activities like reading the paper or reading The Satanic Verses (the wholesomeness of the latter is questionable, I admit) for so long! Gimme mindless dumb!

As long as I'm waiting, I may as well rant. I love my Mac so much. I love not getting cryptic messages about illegal operations (PCs really are criminals, huh?) and the absence of a CPU and the fact that the screen is larger than my TV's screen. But Mac and PC software is not the same, and Mac and PC games are rarely on the same page. Sim City has moved on to an exciting new version ... the best I can get for the Mac is Sim City 4. And it's $60. Yikes. I guess that's the price for parting with the Game Cube and swearing I'll never get another.

Hurry up, UPS! Chandler bored!

We have updates!

Chris says the interview went pretty well. He also said that, because of Christmas break, they won't be able to hire anyone until mid-January. So now he has to figure out of there will be any trouble from his current employer if he gets the job and chooses to up and leave.

That does put a mighty kink in the works. Well ... it does if the district can cause trouble, that is!

Guess what's happening right now ... or at least, should be ... ?

Chris is in his interview. He made it into Houston last night just fine. I, on the other hand--as though anyone could possibly be interested in my doings, learned exactly how many hours of nothing one could pack into a day! At least I got the laundry done.

I'll update when he gives me a call.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Virtual house hunting II

I think the cat's pretty much out of the bag that we're house hunting from a distance in Houston. Chris is departing tonight for his interview, and I'll be here trying to decide how much is too much if we don't know if we're moving. (Getting pre-approved for a loan? Safe move. Stuffing all the clothing into a bag? Bad move. Packing up china and crystal? Somewhere in between.) We do have some favorite houses at this point (many of which have been on the market for nearly a year--nothing's really wrong with them, just a bad housing market), but it never hurts to keep looking. And these pictures are the unfortunate result of said looking ...

Okay, this is a two-parter. These are both pictures of the same house. I just wonder which one I'm getting ...


Something tells me it's the second picture ...

Ai-yi-yi, amigos! What gives with these funny painted rooms? I'd say, "Give me the purple and green argyle room over this!" but this looks much easier to paint over.

Real nice shot ya got there.

Modern, condominium living in the big city is so hip these days! I mean, look at this bastion of urban coolness--it looks like a torte! I hope that's Bavarian cream in between the layers! Mmm ... I'm thinking red velvet, how 'bout you?

Houston is the fourth largest city in the US, and it's been set to overtake Chicago for quite a while now. Problem is, it takes up more space than the first three combined. It's really shocking how dense it's not--you can tell just driving around the city. For that reason, you can have pasture within the city limits, and for that same reason, you can see horses in city dweller's backyards.

Speaking of ai-yi-yi, my eyeballs need a good scrub after looking at this one. Aqua green and lime green isn't my favorite color combination, really.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chandler Quick Hits

It'll be 77 in Houston the day Chris is there, and it'll be only a measly 65 here in the northern burbs of Dallas. Boohoo.

Thanks to last night's sleet, the Castor Beans That Wouldn't Die may have finally met their match. Now I don't have to kill them myself!


A blog I follow, Budgets are Sexy, put up a recap of their New Years resolutions. I might do this in the upcoming days/weeks. I can't even remember any resolutions I've made other than the one I made a few years ago to use less toilet paper. Uh, let's move on!

I try so hard to be a Luddite, but I'm not very good at it. We booted the Game Cube when it died--it's being replaced by games for the Mac. We're going to boot the TV--the Mac will serve about the same purpose. I used to laugh at the notion of having a device in the car that tells you where to go--our handheld GPS, bought for geocaching purposes, turns out to be used primarily for direction purposes. And now, Chris and I have discovered the joy of texting. In fact, he texted me just today to inform me that he'd chewed out his best class. I texted him back to tell him that the outdoor pipes had frozen. Quite a day on both the work and domestic fronts.

Our virtual house hunting has produced a favorite house. It's in a revitalization area, it's a few blocks from downtown, and it's a mere 40 minute jaunt from the house to the ballpark! Baseball mini-plans, anyone?

We're under a weather advisory I've never heard of before: freezing fog. Sounds perfect for a Christmas-themed thriller movie.

We used to have a subscription to Al Día, the free, Spanish-language newspaper. After a week, they just quit delivering it. Then recently, they began again ... over a year after we'd received our last one! Right.

Monday, December 15, 2008

SCARY!!!

Chris has an interview at a high school in Aldine ISD, a Houston school district, Thursday morning at 9:00 AM! We needed to make sure that his current job couldn't ask TEA to revoke his teaching credentials, but it turned out that they could only do that if he went to a district surrounding Dallas!

As they say on Cute Overload, "Splode!"

Virtual house hunting

Mr. Chris and I are obviously contemplating getting the heck out of Dodge because of our tremendous fondness (loud, obvious coughing) of Dallas. I shan't say too much on the subject just yet, but I will say that we've been fiddling around with online house searches. Frequently, these listings have multiple pictures. Sometimes, those pictures are very nondescript: "Oh look. This house has walls. And electrical outlets. And some doors. Oo, look, a ceiling fan!" (Note: That's a real conversation from some very underwhelming pictures.) More often, though, it shows things that really ought not to be shown when you're trying to sell a house. This is probably first in a series, a collection of some truly terrifying photos. Start quaking in your boots--this is going to be ugly!

Allllriiight ... this house is actually quite adorable if you don't mind that virtually all the plumbing is missing. Copper thieves, probably. I just thought the kitchen sink on the floor was particularly sad.

What is the sound of one Chandler weeping? I would have loved this room as a 13-year-old.

"Look at that fridge!" I exclaimed to my husband. Some things just don't age well.

I understand what a mirror trick is now. The kitchen isn't as big as you think.

Ready for immediate move in.

You know, they make washers and dryers that are supposed to stack on one another, but who am I to argue with what works?

Okay, what the heck is that? It looks like stairs, but some aren't as long as others and I can't tell what those dark red blobs on it are. And if it's stairs, am I at the top looking down or at the bottom looking up? Yecch.

Wonder what else I'll find on this adventure.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

To market, to market, to buy a fat ... bundle of Swiss chard?

Chris and I returned today to the Dallas Farmers Market. We hadn't been in some time because of our CSA subscription, which brought us more food than we could possibly desire, and often of stuff we didn't particularly want (I don't have many food aversions, but eggplant is one of them). But our subscription had drawn to a close for the year, so we went in search of winter eats.

The Dallas Farmers Market has been a force for evil in the past. Very few stalls were actually run by farmers, but rather by dealers who bid on the produce to sell it themselves. The outrage was great, and now the switch is beginning. But it does have tremendous good on its side, too: The farmers market is actually a series of permanent structures. It's not just a set up and tear down kind of thing in some parking lot somewhere. In fact, there are four sheds--here are pics to show you what I mean:



I can recall getting peaches at the farmers market when I was a youngun, and I remember wondering why the farmers market was in a parking garage. See if you can tell why I made such a mistake:


No trip is complete without lunch at El Mercado, which is across from the non-produce shed where you can get spices, tea and coffee, free-range meats, furniture, candles, soaps ...


And here is said lunch--camarones empanizados!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Back to the library

I walked to the library today while Chris was still at school to do a little writing and a little grading for my hubby. After getting bored with that, I perused the fiction section. I really think there ought to be two different fiction sections: Good Fiction, for the classics and those books that will become classics when they're older; and Junk Fiction, for idiotic chick lit about how much fun shopping is (you can build plots on that?!) and poorly written but inexplicably popular drivel.

Anyway, I picked out seven books and set down with them, intending to read the first chapter of each. Chris was a darn sight quicker getting home than I expected (he met me at the library), so I only got through a few. I'm sitting here next to Flannery O'Connor's Everything That Rises Must Converge, John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flats (a modernized version of King Arthur, which is my idea of a good time!), and Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses. I'll have to return for the others at a later date.

I admire the work ethic of some at the library. I got out of the house before school could let out so I wouldn't have to mingle with the chavs leaving the high school. But some kids actually did come in to the library to work ... on a Friday! I wish I'd had that work ethic when I was in school, but I guess it wasn't in my nature actually try studying and whatnot. A lot of that might have been that I seem to process things better by hearing (if I'd secured a few audiobooks I might have done better as an English major), so being a sponge my GPA turned out quite alright. Still, kudos to kiddos who got their work done licketysplit.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's beautiful!!! ***bump***

This is old, but it's still funny, and you can even still read the link on the New York Times! Ethan Frome humor is always good and welcome in my world.


Oh, please read this! I beg of you!! "There will be a quiz." 

As always it's the NY Times, so read it before its nine days are up. For that reason, I want this paragraph preserved here for posterity's sake:

To their credit, the folks at Barnes & Noble make a habit of challenging readers’ assumptions and sometimes getting right in their faces. For example, their edition of “The Picture of Dorian Grey” included the intemperate question “Is sin ugly or beautiful?,” while “Ethan Frome,” the unreadable Edith Wharton novel that ends in a toboggan disaster that simply must be read to be believed, even though the book is unreadable, got right down to the nitty-gritty and demanded: “Is this novel just too grim to be enjoyed?”

The miserable truth is that Ethan Frome is just too lousy to be enjoyed. All school children should be subjected to it the way I was. It builds character.

I dedicate this post to my history professor father, who probably has a collection of sample questions even better than these. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I am happy

Why am I happy?

Tea with chocolate in it? Yes, please! A present I purchased was from SerendipiTea, and I couldn't resist throwing in a few things for myself. Decaf ChocolaTea was one of them. Mmm.

Lata Mangeshkar? Yes, please! Needing a pick-me-up earlier in the week, I turned to the radio section of iTunes and the international channels. And now yours truly has a bit of a Bollywood obsession. "Bombay Beats India" (which isn't a sports headline) has the best beats, but "Hindi Radio Mera Sangeet" will play classic stuff occasionally. Shake your booty.

Chris finished with classes at SMU? Yes, please! Of course, probably no one is happier than he is. He was the one having to keep up with his students' and his own classwork! But after a year and a half of it, I still hadn't grown accustomed to his absence on Mondays--even this Monday evening I started work on dinner before realizing that he wouldn't be home until after 8:30.

Free gift with purchase? Yes, please! SeredipiTea threw in a cool strainer with my tea purchase. Ain't that sweet?

Getting up early? Yes, please! I even got the unprecedented pleasure of waking the cat up. Lemmy usually gets sick of waiting for me to get up and puts forth her best effort to get me up, which means I get stomped over (as much as an 8 lb cat can) and my nose sniffed. She was happy to see me up so early, but still had to get the formality of sniffing my nose out of the way.

No Christmas music? Yes, please! I really don't like the stuff. Listening to Bollywood is a sure-fire way to make sure I don't hear a note of it! Talk radio helps too.

You'd be happy, too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What about the blog, part II

Okay, it was voted to keep the blog alive and leave it alone. I didn't want to leave it alone, so I deleted a lot of posts (this is #200 again) and reorganized it. You'll notice some new labels:

Chandler Needs a Life: There's lots of stuff about the deceased Game Cube and my obsession with Zelda games in here. I have neither now, but I'm sure there will still be proof that I need a life (or at least a job).
Kitties: High time they got their own category! Especially now that they've regained their pseudo-kid status.
Social Studies Class: "Distracted by History" combined with current events--it's 7th grade social studies all over again!
Near and Dear: Topics near and dear to the hearts of the bloggers.
Today on a Very Special Loquacious Loquat: In spite of the silly, after-school-special kind of name, this is the important stuff that needs extra attention.

There are other new ones, but they're less interesting.

Things are now organize to my satisfaction. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Many happy returns

We're home! Drove our spiffy new car back from mid-MO to suburban Dallas! Chris is off springing the cats from prison--Lemmy's already home (she stayed at a vet in town, and the other cats went to our former vet). Oh, the lengths you go to when you have one more cat than city ordinance allows (stopping just short, of course, of giving one up)! Don't tell on me, okay? :)

In US news, we've proven how we can be utter, heartless idiots. For the sake of all things good in this world, you may want to join me on this next year:


I'm glad my Christmas shopping's nearly done!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blogging optional

I've done my best to steer clear of the computer whilst home in Columbia, MO, simply because I think people can be a little weird about computers and need them too much. I don't mean to diminish those who really do need them, but I know nothing will fall apart if I'm not checking my email every 10 minutes or, say, blogging every day. So here I am, enjoying the computer-free life and getting ready for Thanksgiving!

In case I don't pop online tomorrow, everyone have a lovely Thanksgiving and a lovely Buy-Nothing Day the day after. That's the day we're traveling back to Texas, so I don't think a whole lot of shopping will be going on!

Monday, November 17, 2008

My mom will kill me

Or maybe she'll agree with me.

It's coming, folks ...

Chris and I will be celebrating 7 years of togetherness that day (in the capacities of marriage and dating combined), so shopping isn't high on my list of things to do anyway. A little geocaching and lunch at home?

Again, sorry Mom. But I'm sure Bluestem will take in plenty of moolah without me (I'll just shop there earlier in the week!).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Support your local library, for it supports you

(Click on the comic to blow it up.)

One of the last things we did when we lived in our previous abode was to fall in love with the libraries. Then, of course, we moved. One of our first acts in our new town was to get a library card (and then we connected the electricity). It's taken awhile to warm up to the two libraries here, but we're finally doing it. Today I was overtaken by the desire for opera CDs, so off we went.

I have no clue why libraries are so underutilized. IT'S FREE, FOLKS! The only thing to complain about is the queue for the most popular books, but do you really have to be the first person to read the last book in the Twilight saga? Really? Or can you park yourself at 68th in line for the book and maybe read the forlorn copy of To Kill a Mockingbird to pass the time? I swear I heard that our current financial woes caused a surge in issued library cards, but now that gas is back to $1.99 I'm sure we'll all return to the gluttony of Blockbuster and Amazon.

Our recession-proof conquests?
BOOKS:
The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross (a book I started but didn't have time to complete--I'm ready to read it again)
The Silmarillion by Tolkien (we're on a bit of a Tolkien kick right now)
The History of English Literature by Perry Keenlyside (an audiobook)
DVDs:
Becket (why not?)
The first season of "Jeeves & Wooster" (continuing the Hugh Laurie/Stephen Fry kick we've been on for years)
MUSIC:
Wozzeck by Alan Berg (which Ross raved about in The Rest is Noise)
The Damnation of Faust by Berlioz (because I'm in that kind of mood)
Akhnaten by Philip Glass (I think liking Philip Glass automatically causes people to raise their eyebrows and think you must be weird)
Rachmaninov's "Vespers" (for Chris)
I think we made out a darn sight better than Keith and Kerstin in the comic! I'll be going on an opera-listening spree tomorrow, methinks!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Shelter Cats (sorry it's long, but do read!)

In honor of National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, which draws to a close this Saturday, I thought I'd honor animal shelters by appreciating our two shelter cats, Owl and Miss Lemon. But here's a picture of the other two, just so they don't feel left out. :)


The two cats in question are a study in contrasts. When we adopted Owl in January of 2003 from our previous abode's pound, the place had yet to undergo a nasty little scandal. There was a tall gate with barbwire along the top, and the kitty cages were small. All the cats were antisocial--most hid in the corners of their cages and several growled at us! In all honesty, I didn't even see Owl, who was doing an excellent job in not being noticed. Not being noticed could have ended poorly for him, however: He'd already been scheduled to die once, but the pound workers thought he was so cute that they stayed his execution. But his luck was running out, and he was scheduled to be put down the next day. Fortunately, my eagle-eyed mother spotted him, and it was narrowed down between him and the world's largest barn cat. The barn cat growled at us. Little Owl's life was spared.

Owl was my first pet in my first apartment, but he was not everything I'd hoped for and more! I now know there's a term for it: semi-social. Though I expected a lap kitty, I got a very scared and upset little lump of a cat. He'd hide in his warm little cat house all day and only come out at night. Then at night I'd noticed that he would talk a lot, and I realized, "He's lonely!" When Chris traveled home for a funeral, I said, "Bring Trent back with you." Trent gave Owl the best friend he needed to open up to us. He's still not a lap kitty, but he no longer hides all day. He can still be pretty scared of people--strangers, certainly--but now he loves pets so much that he'll get bushy from all the love, and he can knock an adult over with his powerful kisses! That's a shelter kitty who's come a long, long way.


One of our most shocking discoveries about Owl is his breed. He was billed as a black domestic shorthair (but he was also billed a girl, so that may explain a lot), but we were quick to notice something different. First, perusing the cats at Texas Siamese Rescue, we noticed the uncanny resemblance between him and the black Orientals on the website (compare the picture of the cat on the first page, Isabella, to the picture of our Ooly). Then we noticed he fit the description of an Oriental: he rarely spoke, but when he did it was clear that his voice was not that of a typical cat. He had an unusually long trunk and legs and the thickest, most velvety fur. The final straw was his tail: a "crook-tail" is a very typical genetic defect in purebred Oriental and Siamese cats. My guess is that his previous owner was a disreputable dealer who tossed him out for having that defect. As Owl is the funniest, sweetest, most beautiful cat we have, I say the dealer's loss is our gain.

We returned to the pound in June of 2007 in a fit of madness that told us another cat was a perfectly good idea. What attracted us was something on the pound's website: kittens with extra toes! What we found there was most pleasant: the barbwire was gone, the cages were roomy, the cats were happy to see us. Even the ones labelled "feral" who were there most likely to be neutered and released were big friendlies! What we discovered, I think, is a real credit to us as pet lovers: we were much more interested in adult cats than kittens, and we knew in our hearts that the kittens would find homes while the adults might not.

In one extra-large cage was a beautiful pair of Siamese cats. They were seal points with wedgie heads, and they'd just been brought in two days ago by their owner. (This is a good example of what wedgie head and seal point means, but these cats were older. Siamese cats change colors as they age, and these were dark brown and black, not cream and brown/black.) I had my limits, though. Four cats is pretty insane, but five is worthy of straight jackets and padded rooms. There was a white oriental with beautiful blue eyes ... a youthful orange cat who wouldn't shut up ... a cat who looked like Trent Jr ... and the ugliest Siamese cat I'd ever seen in my life. Her fur was matted and missing in spots, she only had pale blue eyes and not deep blue ones like the Oriental and the Siamese duo, she was small and unhealthy looking, she was lactating because she was the mama of the polydactyl kittens, she looked like she'd lived on the street her whole little life, and she was named "Monkey" because she looked like one. My heart was calling to the duo even though they weren't an option, so Chris pointed at the ugly cat and said, "Well, she's a Siamese too!" So we asked to see her, and we got to hold her and pet her, and she was so nice and sweet. Monkey ended up being adopted before any of her kittens. Monkey turned into Miss Lemon.

Lemmy pulled a real fast one on us after she was spayed and came home. We were prepared for her to do what the typical cat does in their new home according to Siamese Rescue: disappear under the bed and not come out for a few days. Shortly after being let out of her cage, she went under the bed ... then came back out five minutes later, jumped on the bed, demanded pets, kneaded the blanket, curled up, and fell asleep. Owl's polar opposite. Here's what she looked like the day she came home (sorry, I don't have old pictures of Owl!):


Brushing eventually got the matting out of her fur, good food helped it grow in soft and thick. She lost the creamy-whiteness of the young Siamese cat and has gotten darker--she'll eventually look like the Siamese duo at the pound, but with tabby stripes. Here she is now:


When one becomes accustomed to laid-back kitties who don't run around a lot and behave well most of the time, the feline version of Usain Bolt with a penchant for biting comes as a real shock. She took some getting used to, but she's calmed down quite a bit. Like another crazy, ill-mannered cat from my past, she attached to me. (My parents are nodding their heads and thinking of the dearly departed Zo, who was mean, not to be trifled with, and putty in my hands.) When I just look at things in terms of numbers, I hate having that fourth cat. But when I look at the four I have, there's not a one I'd part with--most certainly not my Lemmy-Pie!

So that's my bit for National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week. Go love up on your shelter pet if you have one, and if you don't, think about getting one!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

You've come a long way, America.

This will be my last and only talk about politics for now, at least concerning the recent presidential election. First off, wow--how long since the civil rights movement? Since race riots? Like I said once before, every thing I learned about race relations I learned from Amiri Baraka's Dutchman in college, so I'm not so naive as to think that America's race problems are all fixed. (I'll give us a lot of credit, though--Europe didn't extend its progressivism to race. It's bad.) But good golly ... who'da thunk?

This next part goes a little deeper than you may be accustomed to on this blog, but it's my blog and I do as I please here! I didn't vote for anyone for president--I left it blank. I didn't write in anyone dumb in or vote for Nader either. I'm uncomfortable with Republicans billing themselves as the Christian party yet seemingly ignoring the mass of the Bible's directives not to favor the rich over justice for the poor. Open up any section--the Prophets, the Psalms, the Gospels--and there's a good chance this will get mentioned. That said, I was uncomfortable with Obama's rather extreme views on abortion. I'm still not happy that the Democratic Party still won't acknowledge Democrats for Life while the Republican Party is more than welcome to pro-choice candidates. Hmm. That's just how I felt, and that's my full disclosure.

We both agreed that if John McCain had been throughout his campaign the man he was last night during his concession speech, we would've been much more inclined to vote for him. We were fond of McCain at times when being fond of McCain was unfashionable! But he was not the same person. I think the negativity got to everyone involved, and I believe they said of Palin last night that, if she returned to the national spotlight (seems likely to me), she would not conduct a campaign that way. Still, even if the candidates are on their best behavior, I doubt that many supporters will be so kind. I think Berkeley Breathed said it best when talking about the end of "Opus":

In most aspects, there's no arc to the human story. Only a line heading upward. For nearly everything. In this case, the coarsening of the National Discourse. We aren't returning someday to any sort of golden era of political civility. The line heads heavenward and has been since the Republic started. And with the intersection of two rather dramatic dynamics -- the cable and Web technology allowing All Snark All the Time ... and the political realities of No More Free Lunch in America, it will spike in the coming years ...

It's not so much dark times now, as profane and loud. Satire you'll have, oh dear me, indeedy yes. "Vomitous" and "awash" are two words that come to mind. It used to be that everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. How antediluvian. Rather, everyone will now want a satirical YouTube film with 15 megabytes.

Satire we'll have. Rather, the real dearth in our world will be sweetness, comfort, thoughtfulness and civility.

Still, there's something profoundly uncynical about this whole election. Stripping away everything else, the choices were our first black president or our first female vice president. I can't think of a better sign that we've come a long way.

To bring it back to cynicism, however, I wonder if Stevens (who, ironically, can't even vote now that he's been convicted of a felony) won in Alaska again ...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

They didn't have stickers at my precinct. This will have to do.


Elections can be so ugly, but this is so cute. The second picture continues to blow my mind. Love their little ears.

I Didn't Vote for Fritz Golem: Random Thoughts After Voting

Good morning from a first-time voter! We're so cute, aren't we? No celebrations for the guy voting for the 50th time--just the first timer. But I feel like my cuteness has already worn off.

Who's Fritz Golem?
Photobucket
In other words, I got to vote on paper.

The headlines are saying that there are long lines at the polls already. Not in my experience. Early voting just makes election day voting that much easier! And best of luck to those of you without that option.

Chris dropped me off (the polling place was down the street), and afterwards I walked home. Blessedly, I didn't forget my keys, but you probably figured that out since I'm blogging and not shivering in the cold. I probably could've gone to the library when it opened, but that still would've been a 3 hour wait. At least I could've hung out with the library swans.

I notice funny things now. As I walked home, I wasn't thinking of how I'd contributed to our wonderful democracy. Nope. I was thinking about how the sidewalks were inaccessible. Just wait until I get the kids home--I'll notice how how society is biased against the blind all the time!!

Tonight, we're pulling the mattress into the soon-to-be-former boys' room (where the TV is) and pulling an all-nighter. This is now a tradition for me: Last election, I managed to last until 3 AM watching ABC. Last time I ever saw Peter Jennings (sniffle)! Things get crazy in the wee hours. They had Al Jazeera-London on at some point after midnight! When Chris got up to go to work, I threw in the towel. I really wanted to be there when they announced the president, but for all our technology, they still can't get stinkin' results in in a timely manner!! But this year, my social studies teachin' husband is joining me in my all-night election coverage marathon. Sleeping is not my forte, so I predict I'll see much more coverage than he will.

Civic duty: COMPLETE!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The end. *sniffle*

Oh, go ahead and break my heart a little more, why dontcha?!

In case you forgot what today was, I put all the hops, skips, and jumps in one place for your convenience.

First, click here.

Now, click here.

National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week is Nov. 2 to 8. Git yerself a dog or a gato and give them big hugs for me, 'kay?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh, what will those young rapscallions come up with next?!

Remember back quite a while ago when I did this post? Remember how I said that there was hope for the world in today's youth?

Remember that?

... ? ...

I take it all back: Mo. students face punishment for `Hit a Jew Day'

Monday, October 27, 2008

We're home!

Got home yesterday, of course. We were so exhausted that we, uh, neglected to update the blog! The pictures are up at Backcountry Peripatetic.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Off to the Hill Country!

Will see everyone on Sunday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More views from the garden

All the cool-weather beans I planted the other day have sprouted, which is both fantastic and unusual. 100% germination is a rare feat. I planted 10 more in another pot just yesterday, so we'll see how they do. Today I went out and scattered some spinach and mustard green seeds in the two big planters were the peas will go when the temperature drops even more. I managed to sneak them in before the rain started, so I didn't even have to turn on the hose!

I've got some pictures as well. The beans in the courtyard garden are still blooming, and some of those blooms did their job. Aren't the tiny pods cute?




The castor beans have also been going to seed. Most of them are duds, but I've gotten five that I may try planting later. They look quite a bit like pinto beans, and I think they're really pretty:



Pretty well-behaved garden right now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

"I Like Turtles": Another Childhood Favorite Bites the Dust

I could talk about voting again, or issues of great import to the nation, or how it's nearly November and it's still in the 80s (start crossing your fingers for Christmas in the 70s!). But I won't. I'll talk about something very near and dear to my heart. Something I remember from my youth. The end of an era.

Berkeley Breathed is retiring.

I haven't always been the biggest fan of "Opus," Breathed's most recent cartoon featuring the beloved penguin. "Bloom County" was always strange, but in my worldly wisdom (which can only be acquired by not being a kid anymore) I've grown to like it. But "Outland"? That was the bees knees! I loved that comic as a kid--my parents can attest to that! So when we began to get the Dallas Morning News, I was surprised to see that Opus was alive and well in an eponymous Sunday comic strip. But the past months, my attention was caught by one strip where the Creator (Breathed) corners Opus in the bathroom (where else?) and begins talking to him about retirement. Oh no.

I go to Salon.com once a week to read the comic of a new favorite cartoonist, Keith Knight (like the state of Texas, my list of favorite cartoons are minority-majority), and I happened upon an article about Breathed's retirement. It goes a long way towards explaining why "Opus" wasn't one of my favorites: The political climate is getting to be so cruel that it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the cartoon lighthearted. He either had to send Opus to his eternal rest or turn the lovable penguin bitter. As much as it pains me that something beloved from my childhood is drawing to an end, it's probably good.

I took some things away from the article:
1. I think I'll start throwing conversations off by saying, "I like turtles," myself.
2. I thought the strips where Lola Granola became a radical Islamist were pretty funny even if everyone else was offended.
3. I nodded my head in agreement when he said, "The very, absolute last comic strip characters destined to become true household words across America were invented 23 years ago: Calvin & Hobbes. There are and will be no more new ones."
4. I genuinely thought, "Wow, he talks just like Opus." And it's true. I love that.
You can read the article here: The End of Opus. Be advised of an unusually strong language warning on page 2 (but if you can fight through it, it's pretty funny).

Early Voting Starts Today

I'm going to vote for the first time ever. Our local library is doing early voting, so at some point this week, Chris and I will traipse over there and flex our civic muscles by doing our civic duty.

Even I'm shocked that I've never voted before. I was months too young when it was Bush versus Gore, my brain shorted out when Kerry ran against Bush, and most people can't be bothered to vote in interim elections. I'm not a tremendously opinionated American citizen (not to say that I don't have opinions, but we all know that "opinionated voter" is synonymous with "loud, obnoxious blowhard"--perhaps a better term is "informed voter"), but I am fascinated by politics. And I'm glad to have the ability to be fascinated.

Earlier this year, anyone who was paying attention (everyone but the majority of Americans) saw what happened with the Zimbabwe elections. The "wrong result" ended in a contested election, followed by months of violence against the opposition's supporters, followed by the opposition dropping out of the race to halt the bloodshed. The opposition leader was basically exiled to South Africa. Power-sharing talks between the two parties just collapsed. Voters in Zimbabwe have a very distinctive way of marking that someone has already voted, and all the pictures of Zimbabweans with fingers dipped in red dye was downright ominous. You may say that the government doesn't represent you, that the system is unfair, whatever; however, when seen in the light of Zimbabweans defiantly standing up to Robert Mugabe despite threats, violence, torture, rape, murder ... well, those words ring false.

So I'm voting for the first time this year because, although I don't have strong opinions on a lot of issues, I enjoy having a real choice.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Drum roll, please

Chris did not, I repeat, not lose his job.

All is well in the world for now.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And now, for my next trick ...

... I will turn this ordinary brown lizard ...


... BRIGHT GREEN!!!








He's still out behind the beans, lurking about. And he's still bright green. I thought he would change back to brown, but I guess he was too close to green. Make sure and click on the last picture so you can see his scaliness!

Great, now I'll have to go to the library finding out how lizards change colors like that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fall gardening

My garden fell by the wayside after my tomatoes failed, my peppers were consumed by tomato horn worms (those things get huge, by the way), and everything but the herbs failed to produce. Mosquitos and temperatures in the 100 range didn't really help, either. But now it's time to do some clean-up, and I'm rarin' to go!

Apparently, my garden is, too ...

Oh, so now you're ready to bloom, huh?! Lesson learned: Beans don't like the heat.

Do you remember this cute little plant? (The cable running behind it is about a foot from the ground.)

Well, it looks a might different now:



These castor beans are monster plants. I have plans to plant them again next year! The one on the left in the first picture is a foot taller than Chris--you can see it's nearly up to our roof! You might see a lot of strings. The rain weighed them down and I had to stand them back up. For the tall one, it was a preemptive strike because rain's coming and it hadn't fallen over yet.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lighthearted post, anyone?

Look closely! Do you see him? You may have to click on the picture.


I got taken in by a slow-moving lizard on my planter. He was dark brown--"He matches the planter!" I thought. (Yes, it's also brown.) Then he began slowly inching his way up the trellis. By the time he reached the leaves, he was bright green! There's a chameleon on my beans!!

Always nice to see nature in this suburban jungle.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

We have entered the red zone

Firings from the school district can begin anywhere between today and October 17th. I'm sure Chris will have more to say on the subject later.

You can imagine that the uncertainty has us all excited. Nothing like an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride to make you glad to be alive in these upbeat economic times.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Our expensive new hobby, part 2

I have a good definition of geocaching for those who still don't get it: "Geocache is a new sport/hobby where participants use multi-billion dollar satellite technology to find tupperware hidden in the woods." :)

Our area has a real dearth of waymarks, so we went back out into the woods to find some. The Fort Worth Nature Center has a trail with several CCC-built things on it, so we went and found the coordinates for them. I don't have them up on the website yet--turns out that there's also a dearth of information about the CCC structures themselves, so I need to do a little more investigation! They won't let me post them without a history of the structures. There's probably not much to say anyway, but right now all I know is the CCC unit number. Around our domicile, there's really only Texas historical markers. There has to be more to this town than that, right? So I'm up for the hunt!



Meanwhile, we're counting down to our hiking vacation in the lovely Hill Country. After all the job stress, it's much needed. And there's an Earthcache (which, and this ought to shock you, is a geological feature search) at Longhorn Cavern State Park. That'll be fun.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Our expensive new hobby

Last weekend, I did something painful. Here's a transcript:

Me: You can't go to church this evening. [It was Saturday, time for Vigil.]
Chris: Why?
Me: I need you to do something right now. If you don't, we'll never do it.
Chris: What is it?
Me: I need you to sell the Game Cube games.

No more Game Cube, and its place will not be filled by a Wii. The Game Cube will be recycled as soon as I can figure out where electronics recycling in this city is. Right now, it's useless without its games. And that was the point.

So what predicated this shocking development in our household? Why, a trip to REI did! Chris needed some shoes that wouldn't cause him to go careening down a ravine, so off into deepest Dallas ... okay, North Dallas, about 10 miles from our house ... to get some trail running shoes. But that wasn't all we got. Chris had become fascinated by geocaching (some of you are standing up and cheering now), a strange, outdoorsy game involving a GPS system. So after securing some trail runners, we ventured downstairs (two level store with a rock climbing wall in the center--woot!) to the electronics section ... and found out just how cheap GPS systems aren't.

As we were being up-sold into a more expensive model (one that wouldn't crap out in the middle of a forest), I thought to myself, "Wow, this makes getting a Wii look cheap!" Then the wheels began turning. The GPS would be a one-time cost, but between buying new games and new equipment, plus hours that could be well-spent doing things other than sitting on one's rumpus, geocaching seemed like a better use of our time.

Okay, so what's geocaching? Here's a good explanation. Basically, there's treasure at the end of the coordinates that people post, and you can trade out something for something in the cache. Fun for the kids, right? Apparently fun for grown-ups too.

Chris is in charge of geocaching. I've appointed myself Prime Minister of Waymarking. I became obsessed with the virtual cache on geocaching.com, which is when you seek a particular landmark instead of a little box with stuff. But then I found out that virtual caches had been grandfathered out, meaning no more could be added. That got me all pouty, and I ended up at waymarking.com. It's less scavenger hunt-y, but it's still a great way to see hidden things where you live. Case in point? I didn't know that Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie & Clyde) and Mickey Mantle were buried here in Dallas.

And that's our expensive new hobby. I recommend it. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Crash, bang, boom

I'm foul-humored right now, so I'm hoping that writing this will perk me up.

We were in our room last night: I was sitting on the bed reading about how children will make my life miserable (what did you think adoption books were for?), and Chris was doing some last minute computering. Naturally, we had the curtains open in spite of the fact that the sun had gone down long ago. (Our lights attract bugs, which in turn attracts geckos, and who am I to deny them an easy meal? Lemmy loves it!) That was when there was a flash followed by a boom. Nope--not lightning. A transformer. And, blessedly, not the one that controls our house.

"Why does it seem that no transformers blow at, like, 2:00 PM? It always seems to be between 11:00 PM and 4:00 AM," I mused.

"I'll call the electric company!" came a cry from the street.

No! Anyone but the electric company! Blown transformers seem so common that surely they shouldn't cause as much trouble as they do. Alas, here's a sample itinerary of a blown transformer:

12:00 AM - Transformer blows in a lovely display of fireworks.
12:02 AM - Having assessed the situation, someone calls the power company.
12:20 AM - The power company arrives (and you bet they took their sweet time).
12:30 AM - An attempt to fix results in another blown transformer, resulting in a five-block radius without power.
1:00 AM - A series of catastrophic events results in half the city being without power.


You can see where this is going.

Since falling asleep in a timely manner is not one of my strong suits, after we turned in I got to enjoy the whole ordeal from the comfort of my pillow. After the power company arrived, complete with a full squadron of workers who talk loudly and don't seem to realize that SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO GET SOME SLEEP AROUND HERE!!!, another loud bang shook the neighborhood. Clearly, the transformer is not fixed. Nor was it 10 minutes later, when there was yet another loud bang. Things were especially not fixed when the fourth loud bang came ... and I realized that I couldn't hear my ceiling fan turning anymore. I peeled my eyes open to see that the modem's lights were off.

Yup. That's how you fix a problem: by making it worse. I recall thinking then that solar panels on the house were sounding like a mighty good idea. Wonder how much that would cost.

You wonder how long it will last, like, "Will it turn back on in 5 minutes, or will my husband have to take a dark shower and trade in his morning toast for plain bread?" According to the discrepancy between my cellphone's clock and the blinking clock radio, the power was off for about 40 minutes. Then the fifth loud bang came and I felt the cool breeze return, followed by as many loud noises as computers and charging cellphones can muster.

Ready for the punch line?

Chris slept through everything. All four loud bangs (minus the first, when we were both awake). Know what finally roused him from sleep? The printer turning back on. I'm surprised he didn't ask me what I was printing at this hour.

Clearly he missed his calling by not going into the military. The sounds of battle wouldn't rouse him from sleep, and provided that reveille sounded like a 5-year-old HP he'd get up just fine.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Another hike

Chris had the day off, so out of the house we went to Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. It's the best hike we've done by far, and I think we were out there for 3-1/2 hours and hiked almost 5 miles. And yes, we are completely exhausted, thank you for asking. We managed to make it out there with lots of food and homemade sports drink, so we held up much better than last week on the trails at LLELA (where we barely went two miles). All the pictures (21 in total) can be found at Backcountry Peripatetic, so make sure and check that out if you haven't yet. Here are the highlights.


This is where the "& Refuge" comes from: The bison herd. I was so thrilled to see them!

We saw 4 armadillos on the trail. I think this is a great shot. Make sure to click on the picture and blow it up to see him well.

We saw two deer: a little one was on the road as we were driving (alive, not dead on the side of the road, just for clarification), and this one was on the trail. It's kind of hard to see her in the picture, but she was pretty interested in us like we were in her. As we got closer, she snorted loudly (I didn't know anything could snort that loudly) and bounded off. What a treat!

In a show of fantastic timing, the shutter clicked just as this blue heron spread its wings. I could've died happy right then! If anyone knows how to get this picture on my headstone, then make it happen!

And finally, Mom, I hope this settles the "What is bluestem?" debate that continues at your place of work. ;)