Friday, November 28, 2008

Where do I pay?
So today was my first official shift as a cat TLC volunteer at the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA. I'm surprised they don't charge people to volunteer there. It was the most fun, and coolest thing I've done in ages. If you like animals and have a few hours each week, I urge you to get involved.

It was really crowded today (who knew that Black Friday applied to shelters?), which was nice. But it meant I wasn't able to take any of the kitties out of their cages. But they all got lots of love, petting, and play inside their homes. And they were so happy to get the love. Some of the poor things hadn't been socialized at all since last week -- so it's no wonder they were eager for attention and affection (which I was happy to give).

Each cat was different, with a distinct personality. Some were eager for love. Some wanted to attack pipe cleaners. Others made it very clear when they had had enough. There was one biter. A couple of shedders. A lot of purrers. And one that I especially wanted to take home (his name is Reno).

It was a fabulous two hours and I didn't want it to end. In fact, if I didn't have to come home to cook my 15 pound turkey, I'd have stuck around to cuddle a few more.

Honestly, a wonderful, wonderful thing to do.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank you
Today, for those of you either outside the US or in a cave, is Thanksgiving. Which means it's the appropriate time to be thankful for all the wonderful things in our lives. Yeah, it has something to do with eating too much, making polite small talk to relatives, and going into a turkey coma. But thanks is what it should all be about. So....thank you to:

- Husband. Above everything else in my life is this wonderful man who puts up with my moods, my health problems, my white trash family, and my addiction to British mysteries. And who loves me in spite of everything. And for those of you not married to Husband (that would be everyone else)...nyah, nyah....I got the best guy.

- The most amazing friends ever. I think the universe is compensating me for my atrocious family by giving me a family of friends to make up for it. And I love each and every one of them. I'm not sure if I deserve them, but I'm keeping them nonetheless. They are smartest, coolest, funniest, sweetest, most generous and loyal group of people I know and I am so lucky to have them,

- KZSU. The little station that gave me so much. If it weren't for KZSU (and Foreigner and her husband) I never would have met Husband. But each week it gives me something. My show. I love being on the air. I love finding wonderful new World artists to play. I love pulling old favorites out of the library and giving them some love. I love having the freedom to play whatever I want. I love having been part of such lunacy as the short song marathon (as many 1-minute songs we could play in 24-hours) and the 60th Anniversary Special. It's a fabulous place and I'm so grateful to have been part of it for 8 years. I am also grateful to everyone at KZSU who works so hard to keep it up and running; especially our Chief Engineer, our Program Director, our Music Director and all the other genre directors.

- The Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA. Not only did they give us Cipher (the World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) (for whom I am also incredibly thankful) but they let me volunteer there. And every day their dedicated group of staff and volunteers save the lives of animals around the Bay Area. They give life and love to so many deserving critters, keeping them safe until they can find families to love them. I am so proud to be a part of that organization.

- Obama won the election! Enough said.

- Health. After being mysteriously sick for about 18 months they found what was wrong with me and fixed it. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to not be sick. I can eat. I can get out of bed. I don't have to worry about going to ER every other month. And while I miss the fun IVs of pain meds, I'm so much happier having my life back. It's not something I take for granted. Every day I wake up smiling, enjoying the simple pleasure of eating a bowl of corn flakes and knowing I won't throw it up. (Hey, it's the little things in life.)

- Safety. I'm safe. The people I love are safe. We don't live in a war zone. We have enough to eat. We don't have to worry about being shot when we go out of our houses. We don't have to live in fear that we'll be hauled off mysteriously in the night because we wrote "I think George Bush is an idiot" on our blog. We have freedom and security. And that means so much, especially considering so many people in the world don't have that.

- The people who fight. Not just the armed forces. (Regardless of how you feel about the war, you have to feel gratitude for people who do the hard jobs....because hell, I'm not going to.) But also the people who fight to give us all that wonderful safety. Organizations like The Southern Poverty Law Center, Amnesty International, and Doctors Without Borders. Thank you for fighting the good fight, for helping the world, and for having your hearts in the right place.

- Simple joys. There are so many things in life that make me happy. Stupid, little things that make life good. Reading a good book while taking a hot bath. Making cookies from scratch. Watching old movies. Having a cat curl up next to you in bed and start purring. Watching sports (when your team is winning, of course). Great music.

- The people I've never met. People whose work or life has affected me somehow. Who make my life better and who I'll never be able to thank in person. Barack Obama, Sanseverino, Judi Dench, Arturo Perez-Reverte, Lila Downs, Jon Carroll, Patrick McDonnell (creator of the comic "Mutts"), and way too many other musicians to name.

- You. Thanks for reading. I know who most of you are. I'm sure there are a few I don't know. But I thank you for giving me a venue for my occasionally dull thoughts and but taking the time to comment when I say something you like, don't like, or that makes you laugh.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kitten smitten
Today I was shadowed on my first session as a cat TLC volunteer at the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA. It was wonderful and I start my first solo volunteer shift this Friday afternoon.

They are really in need of volunteers, so if any of you like cats and have time to kill -- especially during the weekdays, I urge you to come down and volunteer. The shelter is overrun with cats -- so many that a few are only getting out of their kennels once or twice a week. That's not nearly enough. Cat TLC volunteers take cats out, play with them, give them love, and generally make them happy while the kitties wait to find their forever homes. It's so hard not to want to adopt a few myself, and each time I go in I fall a little in love with one or two. I just wish they all had the love and comfort of a family like Cipher (the World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) has with us. They all deserve a family. And if you want to get involved in an incredibly worthwhile organization, I can't recommend PHS too highly. Everyone I've meet there has been wonderful, warm, and kind. I'm really looking forward to getting more involved and am so thankful to Husband for giving me this opportunity to do something I love.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Now taking reservations for leftovers
So every year when I have to drag poor Husband to my mom's for a stomach-churning white trash Thanksgiving, we compensate the next day by having our own Thanksgiving the next day. We do the whole meal over again: turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, pie, you name it.

Well, yesterday I went shopping for our provisions but when I was looking at turkeys they didn't have anything smaller than 12 lbs. So I decided to try a different store later in the week and buy just a turkey breast. Then I went to the checkout. Because it was both bookgroup night and I was shopping for Thanksgiving, it was a pretty hefty grocery bill. And at the checkout, the nice lady said that this week, if you spend over $100, you get a free turkey. "Well, why not?" I asked myself. I hadn't bought one yet and this would save us some money. So I accepted. And off the bag girl trots to the free turkey bin and comes back with a fucking 15 pound frozen monstrosity. Really, the thing must be part ostrich. Or mastadon.

I couldn't actually refuse at that point (mostly because it was immediately put in a plastic bag and dumped into the under part of the grocery cart) so off I go with the Turkey That Ate Montana.

So now Husband and I, in our Thanksgiving dinner for two, now have about 7 pounds of turkey each we have to get through.

I am hereby inviting all our friends to join us on Friday for Thanksgiving, Part Deux. Seriously, if any of you want to come and hang out, have some dinner, play some games, listen to great music, and help us get through this mega-bird, we'd love to have you. Please. (Please?)

I shall now start clipping recipes for turkey soup, turkey pot pie, turkey tacos...

Fifteen pounds?!?!?!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sorry About Those Treaties
So I'm on the air twice tomorrow. From noon-3 I'll be hosting a show I call "The Rent Party." It's a mix of blues, jazz, world, and bluegrass. Not my usual fare, but hopefully enjoyable.

Then in my regular spot, 6-8 pm, I'm doing my 8th annual Thanksgiving week Native American music special. This time around it's entitled "Sorry About Those Treaties." It'll be a mix of traditional and contemporary music from a variety of First Nations artists. I'm sorry it's not a full 3-hour slot, but it'll be damned good anyway, I promise.

You can listen to KZSU online or via iTunes. (Radio -> College -> KZSU). And I'll be updating my playlist as I go on our wonderful friend Zookeeper.
I miss Freddie
It doesn't seem possible, but it was on this day way back in 1991 that Queen front-man Freddie Mercury died of AIDS. I've always thought he had one of the best voices in rock music and I'm a huge Queen fan. I recall years ago walking by one of his panels when we went to the display of the AIDS Quilt in D.C. and feeling tremendously sad.

AIDS isn't in the news much these days. It's been supplanted by breast cancer as the disease of popular consciousness. Nothing against breast cancer, it's a horrible disease and deserves as much attention and research as possible. But I wish the tragic urgency of the 80s hadn't faded so much. I don't miss the pain, but I do miss the money it brought in.

It's hard to comprehend how long The Steves have been gone. I still miss them every day. After cursing the fact that AIDS has faded from people's minds, I have to confess that I'm one of the guilty. I still write the checks (though not as much as we used to since we're living on one income) but I don't give my time the way I did. Illness kept me from AIDS Walk this year for the first time in, what, 15 years? And i don't give my time, or my heart, like I used to. These days I volunteer with kitties, not the dying. Easier on the soul but I do feel the "I'm not doing enough" guilt. And I do the old "if not me, who?" trip on myself to try (and fail) to convince myself to go back. But I honestly don't think I can.

But what I can do is let today's sad anniversary inspire me send a bit of money to the American Foundation for AIDS Research. And maybe play "You're My Best Friend" and hope it doesn't make me cry.