Friday, October 30, 2009

Did I mention we got snow yesterday?

Yes! In Texas! In October! Or should I say, ROCKtober!






Imagine what winter will be like out here! I'll need little snow booties for Bors because he loves the snow!

Ah, the holidays

Halloween approacheth (quickly), which means the holiday season approacheth, which means my favorite holiday approacheth: Buy Nothing Day. Buy Nothing Day, the day after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday), amuses me. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I'd rather run a marathon than go shopping on Black Friday (both seem like profoundly bad ideas in my physical shape--cardiac arrest, anyone?), but I do like that there's a day celebrating not shopping, especially when that day will likely turn up at least one story of someone getting murdered while trying to get the latest electronic doohickey. Can't imagine why I stay in.

However, if you've examined the Buy Nothing Day webpage by now, you'll note that AdBusters has chosen to throw in some civil disobedience bits. Remember, I've read a massive biography about Gandhi and have learned a bit about civil disobedience, and let me say that AdBuster's suggestions fall far short of Gandhi's standards (although I do think offering to cut up peoples' credit cards is kind of funny). Apparently it isn't enough to just not spend money--we have to make other people want to spend more money by annoying the bejeebers out of them and making them defiant. Good work, Walmart congo line.

Anyway, everyone else is welcome to brave the cold in zombie makeup while I sit by the warm glow of the heat pump and enjoy a little reading. Or perhaps I'll be at the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute for their Thanksgiving open house. No doubt I'll be observing the habits of Marfans in the land where there are no shopping malls. Should be the sanest Buy Nothing Day I've ever lived through.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's National Feral Cat Day

Therefore, we must celebrate the wonder and the wonderfulness that is Estelle!

Oo. Maybe not. She's giving me the stink-eye.

Oh, to heck with her and her opinions! Estelle came to live with us January 2, 2003. She'd been coming around the house for months with a friend, a manx we called Bruno. Bruno was old, had cataracts, was the sweeter of the two of them, and possibly (judging by Estelle's distinct short backbone, which is a manx trait) Estelle's father. But one day, Bruno got in a fight with another cat and never showed up again. Estelle began to show up at my apartment earlier and earlier and seemed to need more attention. Poor little thing had lost her best friend.

When Chris and I got home from Christmas at my parents, we found Estelle waiting for us. Though we left plenty of food out for her while we were gone, she proceeded to down two whole cans of cat food. It was at this point that we decided that if she did indeed have an owner, then that owner was taking terrible care of her. That's when our favorite little stray kitty moved in.

Estelle still maintains the familiar feral trait of being untrusting of humans. If she gets hungry, though, she'll get a few feet away from us and meow (we call that cuddling), and if we're not looking she'll brush up against our legs. She enjoys nibbling on toes, which ought to be classified as a form of torture because it tickles so much.

Estelle's greatest trait is being a friend to cats. When Trent was dying, she got over her fear of humans enough to sit beside him (and Chris) to make sure he was okay. After Trent died, she sat with Owl to comfort him over the loss of his best friend. Now Owl and Estelle are back to their usual tricks of beating the tar out of each other--I think they're more like siblings than any other two unrelated cats on earth.

There's a sight I miss: the magnificent trio curled up together on a cold day. Trent really became a new Bruno for Estelle, but she's doing quite well without him, fortunately.

She may not like us too much, but she does make life more fun. I can stand her not being a lap kitty so long as she never loses her appetite for human toes.

That's my good Stellee!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back from vacation

Ah, a much-needed weekend out of town. And apparently at just the right time, too: So many people came into town for the reopening of the Judd Works in Concrete that it was the craziest weekend in recent memory. Definitely a fine time to flee town!

We've been in Marfa for a mere two months, yet I realize now that I already feel like I belong here--the urge to go up to locals in town (which was a practical metropolis compared to Marfa) and say, "C'mon, wimp! You don't know real Texas!" was a touch difficult to repress. It didn't help that people in the Hill Country call their hills "mountains". Since we live at the foot of Davis Mountains, I mostly find myself getting annoyed at the cute little habit of theirs.

I forgot my camera. Really, that's okay--often it just gets in the way. Nothing can interrupt a moment like, "Wait, let me get a shot of this." I might have liked some footage of Bors hiking--the hunting dog in him came out, and he was more than happy to be leader--but it won't be the last time I hike with him.

We were promised weather in the mid- to low-70s and partly cloudy. What we got was weather in the mid- to low-50s and rain. Perfection.

Somewhere between mountain territory and Hill Country, the terrain gets rather boring. However, it's right about in this area that monarch butterflies on migration pass through. We must have seen dozens, if not hundreds. I did kind of miss the camera then. Still, nothing beats the experience of watching 50 monarchs float overhead at a rest stop.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Random thoughts on vegetarianism (then and now)

Once upon a time, in high school (getting to be so long ago now), I spent about two years as a vegetarian. Eventually I added back fish and later chicken because of what I perceived as anemia (more likely the blood sugar issues that plague me to this day), and it wasn't until late in college that I admitted to eating red meat (I'd eaten it on and off, but didn't cop to being a red meat eater for years). And then this morning I sat at the table eating sliced apples and tahini with a cup of oolong tea, and I found myself missing the vegetarian years.

I apparently had more dedication back when I was in high school because any and all attempts to become a vegetarian again have failed. It's less a love of meat and more a love of convenience--now that I'm in the desert paradise of Marfa, TX, which only has one fast food place, it's easier to cook in general.

I hate cooking meat, honestly. I fear so many food-borne illnesses that once I have cooked every last germ to death dinner has a bit of a shoe-leather vibe. I'm only willing to cook fish, which is the only meat I'm madly in love with. Everything else I can take or leave. I could call myself a pescetarian, but it's a term that seriously pisses off vegans. I don't think the people who go veggie for health reasons give a rip, but the animal-rights style of vegans don't want to be associated with so-called vegetarians who murder defenseless fish. Animal-rights vegans often have a problem with honey because it exploits poor defenseless bees. Ironically, most bees live through the honey process ... what often kills them is being shipped off hundreds of miles to farms to pollinate vegetables covered in pesticides. Carried to its most insane extreme, members of PETA will eventually eat nothing.

I ate more interesting things when I was vegetarian. I still admire the simplicity of many of the meals I ate at the Main Squeeze in Columbia, MO, during those vegetarian years. Kale, tahini, and a bowl full of beans still strikes me as my idea of a good time. Sometimes I wonder if the meat obsession in America keeps Americans from trying truly good foods that just happen to not have meat in them. Chris tells me that people like Chinese immigrants who open restaurants are often shocked at how much meat they have to order just to sate their American customers.

In an example of a strange reversal, having been vegetarian makes it easier to be an Orthodox Christian, but being Orthodox makes it harder to become a vegetarian again. When you've made satisfying meals of kale, tahini, and beans, you're certainly not tearing your hair out trying to figure out how to feed yourself for 40 days; that said, after going 40 days without meat, dairy, etc, just adding back a little cheese doesn't seem all that different. Understand?

I'm going to do a series as Lent draws closer called Vegan Nutrition for Orthodox Christians. Sorry kids, but you need more than lentils throughout the fast.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Mystery Continues

I've asked it before and I'll ask it again: Do you know this man?


I've had this icon for years now and we still have no clue what we're looking at. So I did what any normal person would do: I tore into the frame.


The colors are certainly a lot brighter when it's out from behind that lousy glass, but that's not the most interesting part. This is:


Yep, it's entirely reverse-painted onto a pane of glass! No wonder it was so heavy!

So that's one clue to its origin, and once we sort out the origin we'll be closer to figuring out who is depicted. But here's an even more helpful clue to its origin:


I always say you should spend a good minute (preferably more) looking at any piece of art, but I wasn't smart enough to do that when we first got this. Turns out there's some language on it--Chris's guess was Arabic, but there are more than a few Indian languages that look like this. What it does do is effectively rule out our initial guess of this icon being Ethiopian--that language in no way resembles Amharic.

So spread the word to anyone who might know! I'm determined to find out more about this mystery icon!