Saturday, February 28, 2009

Same song, second verse

Graphic courtesy of Old Dame Penniwig

It ain't fair! I got walloped with another cold. This one is lotsa coughing and headachy, feveresh...
well, you know how it goes.

So, I'm facing more wasted days recovering my energy. Believe me, Springtime can't come a moment too soon. I need balmy fresh air and soft breezes, ahhhh.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A tribute to the darling daffodil

Many folks would be quite pleased
if the dandelion and the starling
(not to mention the house sparrow)
were never imported into the US.

This does not hold true for the daffodil.
We love daffodils!

They are perky, brightly colored and
welcome anywhere. Grocery stores and
flower markets will begin selling them
soon even though it's far too early for them
to start blooming outdoors. (We have winter
storm warnings forecast for tomorrow. The
sunshine is glorious however.)

There are dozens of Daffodil Festivals all over the US. Many
a school child has learned Wordsworth's Daffodil poem that ends:
"And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

Thank you, Great Britain, for this delightful springtime treasure.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Does heaven want us to take in stray cats?

At the risk of being typecast as a boring "cat lady" I'm doing an update on Gracie, our new kitty. We took her to the vet yesterday for a checkup. We put her in the cat carrier and when we took her out into the cold she squeezed as far back in the corner as she could. It seemed she was scared that she was going to be turned out in the cold again.

At the vet's office they did a blood test for FIV-FIP which was negative (thank goodness). We learned that Gracie is spayed, has no earmites, is healthy, approximately two years old and weighs a little over 8 pounds. They also checked to make sure she didn't have a microchip--she didn't. She does have a few fleas and parasites, so she got de-wormer and flea killer.

We are now the proud owners of a $175.00 stray cat (ouch!).

But, I it altruistic or self-indulgent to take in stray cats?

It's not that we help cats to the exclusion of people. I regularly contribute to the Second Harvest Food Shelf and we often help out a single-mom neighbor with two kids.

When Christ said, "Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me" was he excluding the animals? I have always felt he wasn't, besides, it's my nature to help out any creature that is suffering.

But then again, it seems Christ was only joking when he said, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth". So, how far can you actually take belief?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday is my favorite day of the week

I'm back in business! Ordinary Jo in North Dakota told me what I did wrong.

So, here's a picture of Melissa Leo. She didn't win an Oscar for Frozen River last
night, but it's a good film about a desperate woman who gets into smuggling illegal aliens across the Canadian border. It illustrates how blatantly Native Americans are discriminated against. My heart goes out to the Native peoples for the despicable damage our
ancestors did to them and for the ongoing racism we inflict on them.

If you get a chance, rent Frozen River.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Waffling and wondering

Whoa! I take back what I said about Friday the 13th!

I smugly posted that it made no sense to think there was any cosmic source of luck that could effect us. I even added a nice graphic to emphasize my point.

That's the last time I've been able to use a graphic. For some reason, whenever I try to add a picture now, I get four or five lines of gobbledy gook (that's putz-speak for computer language). On top of that, I also lost the icon for fonts and color at the top of the box. As a result--or in addition--when I use italics or bold, all it does is put EM or STRONG around the word. I think I may have goofed something up when I tried to take out the gap between my header and the text box.

I feel stifled and stupid. Anybody have any REALLY SIMPLE advice? Please?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another good day to hole up

We had more snow last night. It really "prettied the place up" by covering all the dirty, half-melted snow. The new snow softens the edges of objects and also seems to dull sounds adding a peaceful element to the outdoors. It's nice that I can stay inside and enjoy it.

We checked out a few movies at the library and so we can stay in to watch them. We got "W" about Bush and "Frozen River" starring Melissa Leo about a woman helping to smuggle illegal immigrants. Leo used to be on "Homicide-Life on the Streets" and has been nominated for an Oscar for her film role. The Oscars are on tomorrow night and I'm looking forward to watching it.

Gracie sits at the patio door and looks out--after all the months she sat looking in. She doesn't show any desire to go outside. She now wanders around the house and the other three cats are cautiously adjusting to her presence. She purrs with great gusto whenever she is petted. Tweedy sits on the cat tower and sneers at Gracie for purring so readily. True to the International Code of the Cat, Tweedy will purr only under very particular circumstances. Snuffy will purr when I cuddle him but only for a brief time. Sunny (the chunk) parks himself next to my head every morning and purrs earnestly to wake me to feed him. Any additional purring he does during the day is done grudgingly.

Gracie is like a bright, shiny little penny among this group.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wintry Welcoming

Well, the inevitable happened--the patio cat has moved in. As I blog, she is snoozing under a bed not ten feet from me.

The night before last, the kitty (hereafter referred to as Gracie)showed up for her dinner well before the customary time. It was bitter cold and exceptionally windy and she was anxious to get inside. Some time ago, I had fashioned a covered box lined with warm stuff for her but she wouldn't go in, maybe because she felt trapped. She'd only sit on top of the box. After she wolfed down her food, no matter where she went she couldn't get away from the wind. She sat at the patio door looking helpless.

Now, I have to tell you I have a housemate named Sue. Sue is a soft-hearted gal who comes from a family of catlovers (her parents out on a farm have 20-plus cats most of whom hang out in the house. In fact, one of our cats is a kitten from their clan.)
Therefore, it was inevitable.

Sue went to the door and unceremoniously picked up Gracie and brought her in. Just like that. It was very tense at first. Tweedy, our Queen cat, really "has her nose out of joint". She sits on her perch on top of the cat tower and glares at the interloper. The two male cats are more curious than threatened.

Gracie hid under the bed the first night and all through the next day. She finally came out last evening. And then the little girl unleashed the love! She went back and forth between Sue and I purring her head off and luxuriating in the warmth of her new home. Later, the little darling was playing with the catnip toys and checking out the place. She is quite diplomatic about avoiding the other cats, and since none of them are lap kitties, this might be Gracie's niche.

We were able to cut a lot of the cockle burrs out of her coat, but she still needs a lot of grooming. Her poor tail is almost bald. She had an occasional cough which worries me but Sunny (the cat we got from the farm) has that too.

I know that we might be courting disaster, but for now, Ms. Sparrow is quite OK with having four cats. If I ever get the camera to work, I'll be posting pictures.

"Are we really sure the purring is coming from the kitty and not from our very own hearts?" Emme Woodhill-Bache

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Things I miss from my childhood

I was a child until the age of eight. After that, I felt I was too old to play with dolls or go on the merry-go-round anymore. Because I was the oldest of four kids, I was called upon to help my mother with meals and cleaning. That probably influenced my thinking. Anyway, I remember being a child.

I enjoyed playing Jacks with other girls at school and felt like I was good at it. I loved being in school on a rainy day, or walking home from school on a sunny autumn afternoon. There was the wonderful day our class was marched across the street to the Carnegie Library and introduced to the children's section. It was always a treat to come home from school to the aroma of freshly baked bread; sometimes Mom would even make cinnamon raisin bread.

I remember the cheer that would go up in the theater when they showed a cartoon before a movie (it was like dessert). I would sit on the floor in front of the radio straining to listen to "Let's Pretend" through the static on Saturday mornings.

There was also the springtime fun of walking the ditches with my siblings hunting for wild asparagus. In the summer, we always had a great time going to visit cousins up north. It was such fun to play on the farm and build a playhouse in the grove with junk from the trash pile. Then we would play dress-up with old clothes or fashion wedding dresses out of old curtains. We picked crabapples and chokecherries
and couldn't eat them, but it was fun because we were away from home.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Haunted by my other brain

No matter what I am doing, I always feel I should be doing something else. It's a curse. Like right now-- I feel like I should get out in the kitchen and clean up the dishes in the sink. But at the same time, it's such a nice sunny afternoon I feel like getting out of the house and doing something. But then again, I just got a book from the library yesterday that I'd like to get started on. And maybe I should make a pan of apple crisp and on and on...

It's like I am of two minds (sorta like a little devil and little angel on either shoulder) that are always in conflict. The wretched result is that I'm perpetually indecisive. It restricts my life and destroys my sense of enjoyment or accomplishment. Often I am so paralyzed with indecision that I wind up sitting on the couch staring at the TV or sitting at my computer staring at the monitor. Stupified.

For example--I've been retired for over three years now and still haven't gotten my pictures sorted and organized. The novel that I started with such gusto now seems moribund. The den still defies being uncluttered and I have a hundred folders floating around with assorted information.

Therefore, if anyone knows of a good book to read or a good saint to petition, let me know so I can get out of this rut. I'm wide open to suggestions!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A question about Friday the 13th

Graphic courtesy of Olde Dame Penniwig
I don't know why anybody takes this seriously. Think about it--does every single human being have bad luck on this day? If so, what is the source of this bad luck? Is there something lurking in the cosmos that dictates good and bad luck? Assuming that this is the case, how does the Cosmic Luck Genie know what calendar date we puny humans assigned in our geographic area of the planet on this day?

I had the same problem with the Y2K scare. The arbitrary assigning of a date by human beings really has no impact on the universe. Different parts of the world use different calendars and our version doesn't take precedence. In fact, our version has been tinkered with a number of times over the centuries.
So, even though there may be more births and crazy stuff going on during a full moon, Friday the 13th ain't gonna hurt yah!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The blaring sound of sadness

According to the Star Tribune, 118 cats were confiscated from a local mobile home a few days ago. It was a case of another hoarder who took in strays and allowed them to breed uncontrolled. The Humane Society has had many offers from people wanting to adopt them. So, I take back my comment that people don't want "used" cats.

The sad fact is that most of those cats are unadoptable. In spite of being confined inside since birth, the poor things are not socialized or healthy. Most had not had a breath of fresh air in their entire lives and will have to be "put down".

I will have to try harder to find a home for my patio kitty. Maybe that will make me feel better about those poor animals living in dreadful conditions.

I should mention that when the authorities confiscated all those cats, they left three with the couple that were hoarding them. It would have been terribly heartless and inhumane to leave them without any cats.

"When you're used to hearing purring and suddenly it's gone, it's hard to silence the blaring sound of sadness." Missy Altijd

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ms Sparrow sounds crabby

It's a sad thing that nobody wants a "used" cat. I've been asking around to find a home for the patio cat and no one is interested. I even sent an email to Animal Ark, but still haven't had any response.

I was going to say I contacted Animal Ark, but the word "contacted" has such broad meaning today that it's meaningless. One can contact someone by phone, "snail mail", texting, email, courier, relay through another person, and methods I'm probably not even "hip" to.

When I was learning grammar and composition eons ago, you were never to end a sentence with a preposition. But then saner minds determined it made better sense to end with "hip to" than "to which I am hip".

And now they (the Great Grammarians of the Universe) are saying split infinitives aren't all that bad. To tell the truth, I've been pretty much splitting infinitives my whole life, but now I don't have to feel sheepish about it.

And my writing is often criticized for being larded with too many commas. Well, pardon me, but,I was taught that it was proper, when you are writing, to use a comma wherever you would pause when speaking. (No, I don't have asthma.)

I'm also told I use "that" too much. Therefore, I probably should have said,"I was taught it was proper..."

It bothers me to think that my writing
is stodgy, and I worry about it. But I try
to comfort myself with the words of
Emile Coue who said, "Every day in every
way I'm getting better and better."

(I'll just try to hold that thought.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My sick friend

My ailing friend SK called last evening for a ride to the Urgent Care Clinic. She has "walking pneumonia" and it had progressed to where she couldn't breathe. After a trip to the clinic, she was referred to the ER at Regions Hospital for a lung xray and respiratory therapy.

The ER is not a jolly place to hang out during cold and flu season. It was full of sick people. They were coughing and hawking and barfing... I buried myself in a National Geographic article about Neanderthals. (I learned that it's now thought they had red hair and hazel eyes, and that one reason they died out is because they required twice as many calories as modern humans.)

They gave SK more antibiotics and more medications to sustain her. Thankfully, she was feeling much better by the time we left at 9:30. By then, we were both starving and went back to my place for matzo ball soup which really hit the spot.

As I was driving her home, she said a real nice thing to me, "Thanks so much for taking me in and I hope I never have to return the favor."


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chicken soup for the putz's soul

I started out to write a post about everybody being sick. It was titled "Tis the season for chicken soup". Then I decided to cleverly illustrate it with a bowl of chicken soup. So I went into Yahoo Images to check out some pictures and I got sidetracked into all the Chicken Soup for the (whatever) Soul books that have been published.
There are well over 100 of them--for everyone from Canadians to Hawaiians, and NASCAR fans to cancer survivors. But, I couldn't find even one book for the sick person.

Anyway, I forgot to save my original post and the text was lost and I had to start over. Now, why isn't there a Chicken Soup book for putzes?

A big GET WELL SOON wish to all my sick friends and relatives.
Here's that bowl of chicken soup.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sparrow seeks warm home for cold cat

I've mentioned before that I've been feeding a feral cat for several months. It first appeared when I was putting out food for the opossums back in November. It wouldn't come close enough that I could even tell what it looked like.

As the temperatures fell--sometimes to more than 20 below--the kitty found it could always count on me for a hot meal. Gradually, the small, long-haired black and brown cat with big golden eyes would come and sit just outside the patio door in the cold to watch as I hurried to fix a dish of food.

The kitty has become increasingly friendly recently. This may be because the temperatures have gone up above freezing. Last night, after eating its food, it hung around. I opened the door and put my hand out to pet it. As I did, I could feel all the cockle burrs imbedded in its fur. The tail is almost naked from all the cockle burrs being pulled out. I reached down to feel its tiny paws and I discovered the kitty is declawed! I also got the impression that she's a female, not a tomcat as I assumed.

Since she is declawed, she is almost certainly spayed. From the way she reveled in being petted, she is most certainly socialized and not feral. This little girl needs to come in out of the cold and find a home!

My three cats have made it quite clear that they will not allow this stranger into their domain. So, I have to find a kind way to get the kitty from my patio to a safe place where it can be groomed and checked out by a vet. After the hellish winter she has survived so far, she deserves to have a good home and be pampered for the rest of her life.

I'm talking to several neighbors about taking her. One way or another, she's going to get out of the cold as soon as possible.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Summer 1950

I often wonder how so many women accomplish so much. They hold fulltime jobs, read copiously and blog thoughtfully, all the while running a household and raising children.

My mom never had a job when I was growing up in the 40's and 50's. But then, just doing the family laundry was a job-and-a-half! Listen to this, all you sweet young things (under 59).

We lived on an old farmplace with no plumbing. There was a hand pump at the kitchen sink with a "slop bucket" underneath. We would pump hard water into a big, crusty old Everware steam kettle to heat water for doing dishes, cooking or washing up and dump the water down the drain. If we were inattentive, the bucket hidden under the sink would run over and create an emergency-not funny when you're getting ready for church on Sunday morning!

Anyway, on Monday the first thing was to bring in the soft water for washing clothes. There was an open cistern holding rain water beside the back porch. It was the designated job of us four kids to take the cover off the cistern and lower a bucket on a rope down into the depths and pull up the water. Sometimes we'd bring up frogs which was fun. The water was carried into the kitchen where Mom had positioned a huge oval galvanized tub over two stove burners to heat the water.

Mom would then pull the wringer washing machine into the kitchen from the back porch and line it up with the double washer tubs on wheels. We'd have to bring in more buckets of water to fill the rinse tubs. Next we'd gather all the dirty clothes and bring them to the kitchen to be sorted into piles all over the floor.

Mom dipped hot water from the tub on the stove into the washing machine, added the clothes (always the whites in the first load) and Oxydol detergent. The gyrator was turned on and the lid lowered to help keep the water warm as long as possible.

When the timer rang, the wringer arm was swung into position and the whites were wrung through into the first rinse tub. The next load went into the washer and the first load was put through the second rinse, and then into the laundry basket. The wet clothes were taken out to the clothes line where they would hang until they dried. If it was a breezy day, they would dry fast enough that some could be taken down before the final load was done.

It was late afternoon before everything was done. Then we had to carry all the wash water and rinse water to dump outside, put the washer and tubs away, clean up the kitchen, bring in the dry laundry and get supper started. No wonder Mom was always tired!

We lived in that old farm house for only one summer. But it was a really old house, so some poor woman lived there and did laundry for many summers and winters. Bless her heart.

So all you sweet young things (under 59) go give your automatic washer a great big hug!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Viva la thrift stores!

There are blogs that I read regularly for their "newsiness", some for inspiration and others are day brighteners. So, I thought to myself, I should write a day brightener! Here goes:

According to various news sources, Thrift Stores and Second-hand Stores are now THE place to shop. While retail stores are suffering poor sales, the thrift stores are booming.

I love thrift stores. They combine all the charm of an antique shop with the savings of a dollar store or close-out sale. Fortunately, there are a number of thrift stores in my "home territory" and I do much of my shopping/browsing in them.

The thrill of finding the right item at a ridiculously low price is the ultimate joy of shopping. I once lucked upon a shoulder high, carpeted cat tower for $15, like new. I later discovered it sold for almost $200. It has been well-loved by many cats since then.

There's also the fun of spotting an old glass or cup that's just like one you had as a kid. Or, maybe an old-fashioned pitcher like your grandma had. Sometimes you find a piece like one you inherited and stored away; you check the price and feel good that it has value.

You may also find a replacement item. It's really rewarding to find a lid to a pot or tupperware bowl that has been long lost. There's a sense that some sort of balance has been restored to your personal universe.

So, get out and shop, folks. May it brighten your day!

Monday, February 2, 2009

I really do have a human face

I really wanted to have a picture to post on my profile by now. I got an inexpensive digital camera and printer a while back. I truly thought that I might, at long last, be able to take respectable pictures. You know, pictures that you can show people without apologizing for the odd angle or poor light, or the fuzzy ones you snapped a second too soon or too late.

But the camera hates me, just like every other camera I've ever known. I fumble with the buttons and the darn thing senses my insecurity. It sneers as it plays evil tricks on me and chuckles to itself inside its smug, compact little shell. Photosmart indeed!

My daughter majored in photography for a year and thus became the family photog, and wimp that I am, I was happy to relinquish that role. She always takes wonderful pictures and shares them with everyone to I shouldn't complain.

Its just that I have always had a yearning to be really good at something. Much as I love writing, I have come to realize that I'm merely OK at it. I'm an average singer, never could dance, I'm a great follower but not much of a leader. I'm not artistic or crafty or musical--that dang camera senses all of that; it snubs me.

And, that's why I still don't have a picture to post. (I will keep trying though.)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Another calendar page

I turned the page on my cat calendar today. A gray and white kitten is washing its face while sitting on a window sill. There is absolutely nothing more charming and lovable to me than a kitten.

I sometimes wonder what it is in each of us that finds certain things appealing to the exclusion of others. Some people are nuts about flowers, and while I find them attractive, they are more or less just wallpaper. I have known women who were crazy about jewelry or shoes, and I can't help but wonder why. I have very few items of either.

Calendars, however, are a passion of mine. I can never pass a display of calendars without checking them all out. I buy calendars for everyone I know at Christmas and several for myself.I save all my old calendars because I can't bear to throw them away. Calendar art is something to be preserved.

For instance, several of my past calendars have been the artwork of Bev Doolittle. When I was still working downtown, I used to go over to a nearby art gallery that sold her paintings and visit them. Bev's outdoorsy works are full of marvelous hidden things. I could never afford to buy a Bev Doolittle, but for the price of a calendar, I could enjoy her art all year long.