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?
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)
Becket (why not?)
The first season of "Jeeves & Wooster" (continuing the Hugh Laurie/Stephen Fry kick we've been on for years)
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?
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?