Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Them's Good Eats

Hello lovies. I hope you're all safe and warm wherever you are. That your Christmas/Chanukkah/Kwanza/Solstice was happy and relatively crisis-free. We survived and, once the family obligations were over with, had a lovely time. In spite of my being sick yet again, Husband managed to spoil me on my birthday (the 23rd) and Christmas with Husband and Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) was great.

But on to last night...

Husband and I have some incredibly wonderful friends. Last night we had dinner with one of our favorite couple's at their beautiful home in the Silicon Valley. The Lurker (she reads, but never comments - so Hi Lurker!) and her husband, the Ninja, are warm and wonderful folks. And last night we were also reminded of what amazing hosts they are. The Lurker is a wonderful cook. Everything we had, from the amazing appetizer's to the scrumpy dessert (made my the Ninja's mom) was just mind-blowingly good. Last night I had brussels sprouts that were good. For the first time in my life. After so many people saying "you just haven't had them the way I cook them" only to taste that awful brussels sprouty taste yet again. Last night it was warm and delicious and kind of sweet. There was swordfish so tender that it was practically liquid. A quinoa salad that had just enough heat. A salad with pickled onions. Everything was relatively simple, but so fresh, so tasty that I sat there in a haze of inadequacy at the knowledge that I'd never be able to produce anything even remotely that good.

No, I'm not making a contest out of it. Nor is it. I just meant that the Lurker has the knack for combining flavors that I wouldn't dream of and making everything delicious. Add some good wine and great conversation and you have a perfect evening.

(To the Lurker: A thank-you card is in the mail because I am a very properly brought up young lady.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unpredictably Musicality

When I do my radio show I plan nothing in advance.

I may pull a few CDs from my own library, but most of what I plays comes from the station and I make it up as a I go along. I start with a song and then go from there. Usually I try to avoid jarring segues, like from an upbeat salsa directly into some sad Celtic ballad. But other than that, there are no rules.

Because of this I'm always a bit surprised to go back and look at a show's playlist (tonight's show can be found here) and find unexpected trends. For instance, I seem to have gone heavily into Africa, the Middle East, and Latin music tonight. I have no idea why and it was certainly without malice aforethought. It just happened that way. The Alma Afrobeat Ensemble, Boubacar Traore, Rahim Alhaj, Rachid Taha...they all just sort of fell into my musical mind tonight.

That's one of the things I love about being a DJ at a college radio station, the freedom to play whatever I want. And finding the unexpected thread.

Except for specials (like my annual Thanksgiving week Native American show) there are no rules to my show. If I like it, I play it. And I have been known to stop a song mid-chorus when I discovered I didn't like it. Unprofessional? Sure. But hey, I'm a volunteer DJ and I refuse to play crappy music. And I do tend to go heavily into the upbeat. But when I get home and discover I've gone heavily into Celtic music or played a lot of Cuban tunes, it's always a nice surprise.

In the middle of my show I don't plan more than one song ahead, so I typically have 3-4 minutes to decide what to play next. I don't really put much thought into the theme, just "what would follow what is playing now?" And I do like to break things up so I don't do something like a Latin set followed by a South African set. It's more fun when you play Japanese pop and then lead into Finnish folk music.

OK, I'm rambling...but anyone searching for a dissertation topic might want to look into college radio and what drives a DJ to play, without intention, certain types of music on certain nights.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Radio, Radio

Tune in tonight from 5:30-8 (Pacific time) to At the Cafe Bohemian my weekly world music show. No idea what I'm going to play but I can promise most of it won't be in English.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: The Santa Factor

In the wonderful world before mega malls and Walmarts, towns like Silver Creek had one-off so-called department stores where most people did their shopping. Ours was called Brightman’s and, yes, it was owned by a family of that name.

On the day after Thanksgiving Brightman’s would always open their Winter Wonderland. This spectacle, rivaled only by the Rockettes, consisted of a badly-painted North Pole backdrop and a moth-eaten red throne where Santa would sit while legions of Silver Creek’s kids poured out their desires for Red Flyer wagons and Malibu Barbies.

In my senior year of high school I applied at Brightman’s for the Christmas rush. I really wanted to work in the gift wrap department. What I got was elf duty. Oh god, no. Appearing before all my friends in a red and green elf costume, complete with turned-up shoes, was a trauma from which I thought I’d never recover. But I needed the money and I had just enough of a weird sense of humor to see the lunacy in it all. So I took the job.

Santa was played by Major Thackerman. Retired Marine. He didn’t so much ho-ho-ho as order kids to tell them what they wanted and then get the heck off his lap. He asked “have you been a good little boy?” in such a way that the child felt a “no” would result in having to drop and give him 50 pushups.

My fellow Catholic sufferers from OLA always had a bit of confusion going on about Santa and the confessional. So when Santa would ask about our naughty or niceness, we’d take it as instructions to get our sins off our chest, not a yes or no question. And any kid who felt honest enough to fess up to tiny infractions like “I suppose I could have been nicer to my mom and cleaned up my room before she asked” received a stern lecture on obedience to authority that would lead the child to feel so unworthy of receiving Christmas gifts as to render the very act of asking Santa irrelevant. Usually we’d slink off with our tiny cellophane-wrapped candy cane with a firm determination to be a better person and to suck it up on Christmas morning when all we got was new socks.

But I was a teenager then and no longer afraid of Santa, though I was still kinda freaked out by Major Thackerman. On those days when the Major was off, he was replaced by Waldo Hicks. Mr. Hicks ate more candy canes that he gave away because he mistakenly thought they masked the intense scent of scotch that emanated from him. Waldo was, of course, an alcoholic. But back then we would just say he drank. He was a happy drunk, not a maudlin one, so his ho-ho-ho was genuine. As was his red nose. And, unlike our retired Marine, Waldo needed no padding.

Children weren’t afraid of Waldo the way they were with the Major. And the Waldo Santa as fun. He told silly knock-knock jokes and bad riddles and laughed a lot. Sure he once got in trouble for telling Billy Morrison that he deserved the 10-speed bike he wanted because Billy’s mom was a fine-looking woman. But hey, the kids liked him and he fit the suit.

So there I was, mostly mortified by the costume. Working with General Patton and Foster Brooks. It was my job to stand by Santa’s throne and help the kids on and off his lap, helping to position them correctly so that Sandy (photography elf) could get the requisite shot of terrified kid meeting Saint Nick. Oh yes, and I handed out candy canes.

It was quite an education, I must say. Mostly cementing my conviction that I had no maternal instincts and never, ever, ever wanted to have kids. All that screaming and crying. The ear-splitting shrill cries that only kids can achieve.

But there was one perk to the job and that was working the Brightman’s employee Christmas party.

The best thing about it was being in on it when the employees, exhausted by a long season of long hours and crazy customers, got looped on the contents of an open bar and spilled their secrets to our crazy Santas.

For that party, Waldo was always in the chair because (between you and me) the Brightman’s were just as terrified of the Major as the kids were. (Antlhough the major was always invited.) But the combination of drunken Santa and drunken adults telling him their wishes was ripe for blackmail material. Too bad I didn’t take notes.

There was Mrs. Linker, who managed the cosmetics department, asking for a date with James Garner. (Who knew she had a thing for Rockford?) And Mr. Leary of the sporting goods floor who said he wanted season’s tickets to the 49ers and a date with Mrs. Linker. (Sadly, Mr. Leary looked nothing like James Garner.)

Marian Franklin, sister of my Chemistry teacher, asked Santa for naughty underwear in a voice that made poor Waldo blush under his beard. (I later learned that Miss Franklin and Waldo had a thing going on.)

In between tipsy wishes, Waldo refreshed himself from his thermos of “coffee,” which amused me because there was an open bar and he was still hiding his liquor. And since I didn’t have to do much that night but stand around in that stupid elf suit, I was able to raid the dessert table for chocolate ├ęclairs and buttery Christmas cookies.

My friend Sean was working that year in the men’s department and aside from deriving years of inside jokes about how I look in red and green felt with a pointy hat, having him at the party was golden. The rent-a-bartender was pretty lax about IDs so Sean and I got pretty hammered as well. And with free food, a DJ, and endless freedom to mock all the people we’d had to put up with over the past two months, the night was pretty damned fun.

Until Major Santa realized we’d been hitting the free booze. Unsurprisingly, a hard-assed retired Marine had little patience for underage drinking. “I want your names,” he commanded in tones that booked no question. But hey, I never was good with authority.

“You jerk,” I said, “I’ve been working next to you for two months now and you don’t even know my name?”

And then Sean, never one to leave well enough alone, felt compelled to add. “I think you mean Major Jerk.”

At which point, we both ran.

The next day I burned the elf costume. When I had recovered from my hangover, that is.
The Cat Thief

Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) will steal any warm spot in the house. If you get up from the sofa for two minutes to refill your water bottle, you will come back to find your seat has been turned into a cat bed.

If you get up to pee at 3 am you can count on returning to a bed that includes a cat where you were just sleeping.

Sometimes she looks so darned adorable we just don't have the heart to kick her out, so we change seats or move to the center of the bed instead of the side where you usually sleep.

In my case, this cute thievery runs to a non-stop power struggle for control of the most prized object either of us have access to the heating pad.

I have chronic back pain and the heating pad helps. (Not as much as the Vicodin helps, but it helps nonetheless.) I often will curl up on the sofa with the pad set on low to help ease my soreness, while Cipher plots her scheme to steal it from me. Sometimes she comes right out with her paws and tries to slide it out from behind me. Surprisingly enough for her, this doesn't work. So she curls up and gives me the "I am a pitiful cat and nobody loves me" look that she is convinced will get her everything she wants. This, too, doesn't work. So she waits. And the moment my ass lifts off the sofa, she's there. I don't even get to take a step away from the couch before she's moved in for the kill. She'll pull the pad down so it's flat on the sofa and then she'll curl up on it.

And I come back to a rather smug kitty trying hard to look innocent and failing miserably. But I'm such a pushover that she frequently gets to keep it.

Because Cipher is the queen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Deconstructing The Big Sleep

Husband and I both love old movies. Give us Astaire and Rogers, the Marx Brothers, or Bogart and Bacall and we're in heaven. There are some movies that we've each seen dozens of times and will always watch when we see them in the TV listings. I am genetically incapable of not watching Casablanca if it's on. Never mind that I could probably quote the entire movie, if it's on I'm there. Popcorn, Husband, and Sam playing "As Time Goes By"...life doesn't get much better.

One of those must-watch films is The Big Sleep. Based on a Raymond Chandler novel, the Big Sleep is a crime classic with Bogart as Philip Marlowe and the plot has something to do with a kidnapping, blackmail, a couple of murders, and general law breaking. I say "something to do with" because in spite of the fact that I've probably watched the movie upwards of 50 times, I do not understand what the hell is going on. It has a storyline that is not so much complex as incomprehensible.

There are perhaps 20 characters that either appear or are referred to in the script and many of them I couldn't tell you who they were. There's an old guy who talks about orchids being "too like the flesh of man." There's Bacall smoking hot as one daughter of the old guy. Her younger sister is a drug addict who is being blackmailed and who I don't think appears sober in the entire film. There's a missing chauffeur who doesn't actually appear but his existence is crucial to the plot. Too bad I'm not sure why he's crucial. Bogart is, of course, Marlowe -- the smart-talking, world-weary private dick hired by old guy to help with the blackmail. There's another offstage character named Geiger who owns a bookstore that's a front for something (still no clue what). He's got a sexy adenoidal receptionist who knows nothing about books but who has a small guy with a big crush willing to drink something lethal rather than sell her out. There's some sort of charade about Bacall being at a casino and pretending to win money so a payoff looks nothing like a payoff. And there's a shoot-out at the end.

If I'm vague on the details it's because i am vague on the details. Again, I could quote entire blocks of dialog but I'm still not sure who killed the driver.

And yet, in spite of my ongoing confusion, I love this movie. Most movies that are incomprehensible just annoy the crap out of me. But this is an exception. Perhaps it's because of the razor-sharp dialog (William Faulkner was one of the co-writers of the screenplay). When Bogart and Bacall flirt you can feel the heat coming off the screen. There's a great scene where they're talking about horse racing and it turns into verbal foreplay with Bacall commenting that when it comes to "going the distance" that "it depends on who's in the saddle." Maybe it's the way Marlowe alternates between confused, amused, and just plain angry throughout the film. It could be the intelligent and slightly sly direction by Howard Hawks. But there's something in the magical alchemy that went into this film that captivates me every single time.

And every single time that Husband and I watch it, we turn to each other as the end credits roll and ask "what just happened?"

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Chronicles of a Cat

Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm), like most cats, prizes her coolness. Cats are cool. The jazz hipsters of the animal world. Sure they get crazy when they play. Every cat does that "run as fast as you can around the house for no reason" thing. But for the most part, they are smooth.

Which is why it's so funny when they do something totally spastic and then give you that "I meant to do that" look. Cipher (again, like most cats) likes to sleep on the top of the sofa. So there she was, napping away. Having hip cat dreams. And then the UPS guy rang the doorbell. Cipher, surprised out of her sleep, twitches and falls down onto the sofa. (Luckily she fell forward and not down the back onto the floor.) She immediately scrambles up into a sitting position and looks at me as if to say "you laugh at your peril, woman." Of course I laughed. So hard I gave myself a coughing fit.

It was just so endearingly absurd and she was trying so hard to pretend it never happened. Ah, if only I'd had a video camera.

Working with shelter cats I see a lot of those "I meant to do that" moments. Cats, in spite of their insistence on hipness, do a lot of unintentionally stupid things. There are the cats who run into the window while chasing a toy. "I totally knew that window was there. I was just using it to change my trajectory." The cats who fall off the bench "just testing to make sure gravity still works." And cats who pounce on an object and completely miss it "just putting the fear of Cat into that hapless pipe cleaner."

One of the things that cats don't realize is that it's impossible to play and look cool at the same time. They try, poor things, but never succeed. It defies the laws of nature to maintain a hipster vibe while being menaced with the creature that is your own tail. And that little chirping at the birds noise they make? So not threatening. "Yeah, you stupid finch. come over here and see whose boss!' That's what they think they're saying. But what they're actually saying is "I'm trying to fool you with my bird call but I just sound like I've got a goldfish down my throat."

As any cat owner will tell you, cats have marvelous personalities. Dog owners will say "cats are too aloof" when the truth is that cats, for all their posing, are just Vaudeville comedians with tails. Dogs are fun, sure, but because they are naturally goofy it's not that much of a surprise when they do something that makes you bust out with a laugh. But cats, by their nature, are unexpectedly hilarious and that makes it all the funnier when they break through that wall of poise and fall down onto the sofa.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Ratzilla

I ranted a few weeks ago about this gigantic rat that ate my car and did $700 worth of damage. Well apparently sucking on my transmission wasn't enough so he decided he needed our Christmas decorations as an appetizer. Serves us right for not making chicken wings available for him. But hey, we ain't Hooters.

Husband and I got our Christmas tree today and went up into the loft in our garage where we store Crap We Only Use Once a Year. Like our huge suitcase (nibbled on). Our folding chairs (nibbled on). And our Christmas decorations (eaten).

Luckily our favorites are in a heavy-duty Tupperware container and suffered no damage. But the box containing our lights had a huge hole eaten out of the side, so we'll need to make sure the wires are OK before we string them. But we had a document box (with lid!) filled with some of our second-tier ornaments and Ratzilla ate himself a lovely door and then proceeded to go all a la carte on the contents of the box. I am sad to say that Santa has been eaten by a rat. We had a cloth Santa ornament and the little fucker ate all the stuffing out of him. He also shredded a small, dark blue cardboard box so everything else is covered in blue confetti. He also seems to have eaten the head off an angel. (Shame on him!)

Being an animal lover, I must confess to feeling guilty about setting about to kill something as sentient as a rat. I have no problem squishing spiders and am the scourge of any hapless ant unlucky enough to come into my society. But rats are cartoon characters and I was sort of upset when Husband and I put out lovely little trays full of lovely little ratsbane. But considering the $700 and the demise of Santa, I can only say the miscreant got just what he deserved.

I just hope he wasn't part of a gang.

Yes, at our home we support the death penalty for the consuming of angels and Hondas.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: Busing Tables for God

Our Lady of Angels, like most churches, was constantly having fundraisers. Monday night bingo was a staple and my dad was the caller for many years. The annual Fall Carnival. Selling Christmas seals. Selling candy bars. Selling Christmas trees. Car washes.

And, of course, food.

The St. Patrick’s Day corned beef & cabbage dinner.
The 4th of July pancake breakfast.
The Columbus Day spaghetti dinner.
The end of Fall Carnival bar-b-que.
The Easter brunch.

I swear I spent my entire childhood waiting tables. Because, of course, all the kids were free labor.

The parents did all the cooking, of course, but us kids got roped in for everything else. We swept and cleaned the cafeteria. We set up the tables. We made centerpieces and laid out silverware and glasses. We took tickets. And we schlepped food for hours. Delivering endless plates of food to people who were used to dealing with actual waiters and waitresses and expected us to behave in kind.

We cleared the dirties. Brought coffee and dessert. Fetched and carried. And hated every minute of it. We grumbled about child labor laws and wondered if this would cut our time in Purgatory. But we were not allowed to back out. For days before these events every Catholic kids all over Silver Creek would come down with mysterious illnesses. A combination of flu-like symptoms and scurvy. Perhaps gout. Maybe a touch of the plague.

But their heartless parents would accept nothing less than loss of limb as an excuse to get out of serving duty. In spite of our protestations and our no-doubt wildly contagious illness would infect the entire population of Silver Creek, mothers would deliver us to the cafeteria on time and tell us to behave ourselves.

We’d say goodbye our families with a note of “I’ll never see you again as I’m going off to be a Catholic martyr since serving spaghetti to the pious is just the same as being burnt at the stake” and off we’d go to do our duty. Sadly the parents never gave us the goodbyes our sad state deserved and we were left with the feeling that they didn’t actually care about us.

Sister Luke always seemed to be in charge of the children’s waiter corps and would check our names off on an ancient clipboard. Then she’d hand us aprons so big we’d have to fold them over three or four times so we wouldn’t trip on them. Then she’d give us a crash course in how to deliver food (“crash” being the operative word as someone always managed to drop an entire tray of whatever the night’s meal was) and set us loose.

The parental cooking staff always seemed to be made up of the bossiest people in the parish. Looking back I’m sure they were exhausted by the weeks of planning and days of cooking. But as a child they were something out of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and we lived in fear of being noticed. God forbid you should actually make eye contact with one, they’d take that as free reign to make you their personal child slave and you’d spend the rest of the night being ordered about by Mrs. Cruson or Mrs. Peterson.

Consequently the children of OLA were notorious for their bad posture as we all developed a habit of looking at the floor and not actually at anyone. Being repeatedly told to “stand up straight” was better than having Mr. Freire say “You! More garlic bread on the table by the Virgin Mary.” (Invariably your personal slave driver called you “you.” On the nights of fundraiser dinners, every child became “You.” We even had name badges on our aprons. But the cooks were too busy slicing and stirring to read.

I remember one night, I think it was the corned beef & cabbage dinner, when You McKay, You Carpenter, You Folsom and I were on salad duty. We’d walk around the drafty room with huge wooden bowls of salad. These things were the size of taiko drums and weighed a ton. And they were filled with a gourmet mix of iceberg lettuce and an oil and vinegar dressing that slopped over the rim and stained our aprons with a pink tinge. In the middle of serving one us hapless kids, I think it was Marty Carpenter (Sorry, “You” Carpenter) tripped over an untied shoelace and sprayed salad and dressing over half of the women’s club table. There were screams. There was iceberg in the bouffant. And there was Father Sheehey throwing napkins into the fray and muttering “Jesus, Mary, and all the saints!” repeatedly under his breath.

The background accompaniment to all this chaos was the song stylings of Tony Cavalerro and the Cavaliers.

How do I describe them?

Well, “bad” pretty much sums it up. But they really achieved impressive nuances of bad. First off Tony C (as he liked to be called) couldn’t sing. But he insisted on belting out “Volare” every single show. Followed by “That’s Amore” and, of course, “Volare.” No, that’s not a typo. He always sang it twice. Tony C always wanted to be Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Vic Damone. But he was more like the sound I’ve always pictured a cow made when stuck in them mud.

Adding to the merriment was the Cavaliers. I think the rule was if you owned an instrument you could be a Cavalier. Didn’t matter if you could play it. Mattered less if your instrument went with the rest of the band. So at any one time the Cavaliers included an accordion, drums, guitar, violin, trumpet, French horn, bagpipes, triangle, more drums, clarinet, cello, dulcimer, drums, another accordion, tuba, and marimba. We lived in fear of the Cavaliers.

The only good thing about them is that about the third rendition of “Volare,” people actually hope the child waiters spill salad dressing down their dresses so they’ll have an excuse to leave early.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

And They Took My Hound Dog...

I'm gonna write a country song about the tragedy that is getting a smog check in California. You'd think that for something so many people need it would a fairly easy thing to do. But no.

Smog place #1: Our smog guy is out sick. (They had about a dozen people working there. Only one guy knows how to give a smog check?)

Smog place #2: Our smog machine is broken. (Maybe you can lend your healthy, but apparently not busy today, smog guy to the first place?)

Smog place #3: Our smog guy is out stick. (A sudden, serious virus seems to be hitting smog check guys pretty hard.)

Smog place #4: It'll be a two-hour wait. (No doubt because all the other smog places are useless.)

At smog place #5 I finally got it done. But I had to stand in the rain for 15 minutes while they did it. Oh yes, and they're a new place and didn't have their credit card machine in place so I had to pay at the gas station next door and the new girl on the register had to call someone and be talked through the credit card process. In Spanish.

Since when is such a simple process so complicated? I'd rather drive my truck off the bridge because my wife stole my hound dog and my mother broke parole then do this again.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

At the Cafe Bohemian

I'm on the air tonight from 5:30-8 (Pacific time), with my world music show At the Cafe Bohemian. You can listen online via KZSU and share the love.
On the Night Shift

I'm going through one of those lovely insomniac phases where I'm averaging 2-3 hours sleep a night. Fun!

The up side is I'm getting a lot of reading and movie watching done. The bad news is that I'm exhausted. But this too shall pass.

I don't know about you, but there's a hole list of books that I think I've read, but I haven't. Classics, mostly. So I have this rule of reading my way through the list, a few books each year. My latest is The House of the Seven Gables, which I thought I read in high school but after looking at it I realized was completely unfamiliar to me.

I read a lot and I always have. And I love reading the classics, though it's not always an "enjoyable" process. I cannot say that I've had fun getting through some of Dickens, let's say. A marvelous writer and I'm glad to have read him, but I have to admit that getting through The Old Curiousity Shop wasn't filled with unending joy. And I'm finding "Seven Gables" to be like that. When I'm done I'll feel a sort of modest pride that I've read another must-read. But at the moment I do find it hard going at times.

OK, I'm a Philistine. I like Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, Elizabeth Peters and Tony Hillerman. True, I also love Jane Austen, the Brontes, and most of Dickens; Mark Twain and the Dumas (pere and fils). But I am, at heart, someone who loves enjoyable books. Give me "a thumping good read" and I'm happy. Which means I mostly read for pleasure. But occasionally I read because I should. Because I want to know that I've actually made it all the way through Crime and Punishment. (Which, by the way, I never will because my goal to read all the classics does not apply to dreary Russian novels that are 600 pages long and full of peasants and potatoes.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

CD Pick of the Week: De Temps Antan


Totally loving this wonderful new CD from Quebecois band De Temps Antan. Les Habits de Papier features fun and happy folk music based on les pieds (a form of seated clogging unique to Quebec). Hot fiddles, sweet accordion and warm male vocals. Mostly upbeat and so cool. From members of Quebecois supergroup La Bouttine Souriante. Every track is delicious. It's joyous, infectious, and so much fun.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Home Made

Thanks to everyone who commented on my Christmas shopping post. Murr, who has a wonderful blog, mentioned how she makes her gifts. Which I love.

Husband and I decided our first married Christmas to make each other something. And I was instantly outdone. Let me say upfront that I have no artistic or craft skills. I cannot knit, sew, paint, draw, or otherwise create. I can bake, but as I bake cookies all the time that's hardly a gift. So I wracked my brain and came up with the only thing I can do which is write. I wrote a packet of letters from me to him as if we were living in early 1900s and I were touring Egypt. I wrote about the archeological sites I'd seen, going down the Nile, and various stories about my fellow travellers. Then I aged the paper with tea and creases, tied it all up in a red ribbon, and that was it.

And then Husband went and made a book.

Here's the background.

Years ago my friends and I wrote a parody of cheesy Romance novels entitled The Adventures of Aphrodesia Lovejoy about an incredibly clueless heroine working as a governess in a brooding castle full of handsome rakes and one well-hung carriage driver. This book was really special to me and my friends and remains a source of happiness. But it was really a collection of stories written about all of us printed out on a Mac and stapled together. So Husband, who has a background in publishing, hand made a hardcover book. Complete with a dust jacket and slipcase. He even got my friends to write those blurbs like you see on bestsellers. Imagine Husband contacting ex-husband for an author's blurb! He hand sewed the folios together, put in end papers, it looks like an actual published hardcover book. There are even illustrations gathered from some of the worst romance covers ever published.

It is, in short, amazing. I mean no slight to my "took all of an hour" letter project, but holy cats! He must have spent two or three months formatting, getting the info from our friends, learning how to actually make a book by hand, and doing the work. And, to top it off, he wrote a hilarious epilogue to the saga. It was easily the most incredible gift I've ever received.

The problem is, how do I compete with that? I mean I know it's not a competition, but really. It's like I give someone a hand-made ashtray and they give me a Porsche. And no, of course not, he never made me feel like that. It's just my natural insecurities coming out when faced with amazement. Husband pronounced himself delighted with the letters, but that book...!

So that ended the handmade gift thing. The next year I looked at what I could do in terms of making things and said "nope, not gonna." And, frankly, I think Husband was relieved too because he couldn't top it either.

My hand made, hardcover Christmas gift remains a treasured possession. And, to make it even better, Husband went above and beyond and made books for every one of my friends who had written chapters. And they treasure them as well.

Husband is incredible. But I'm glad I don't have the pressure of making something or, worse, coming up with an idea of what to make. Besides, I love buying him gifts. And yet I live in awe of those of you who can, and do, hand make.

Friday, November 26, 2010

In the Christmas Spirit

I put myself through college and grad school by working in bookstores. Some day I should write a book about it. All the ridiculous questions. ("Do you have A Hundred Years of Solid Food?" All the silly customers. ("Do you have that book with the red cover?")

But working retail during the Christmas season has a way of making you hate Christmas. When I stopped managing bookstores I told myself that I'd never set foot in a store between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For the most part, I've been able to keep that vow. I'm almost always done with my shopping by T-day. This year I'm not but I've got an easier task. For the first time ever were drawing names for Christmas rather than everybody buying gifts for everybody else. To which I can only say "thank goodness!"

For one thing we really can't afford to spend a lot. For another, I really don't want more crap from my family. Typically the crap in question goes from my mom's house (where we open gifts) into my car. The car pulls into my garage, we open the trunk, take out the crap, and it goes immediately into the Salvation Army bag. It never even makes it into the house.

Husband and I have vowed to cut back on each other -- which makes me sad as I like nothing better than buying him gifts. But being broke means I can't spoil him the way he deserves.

But I'm already getting into the Christmas mood, which is rare for me. We're going to get our tree this weekend. I've already ordered a few small things for Husband. Our neighbors spent the afternoon putting up lights so from where I sit I can already see a little bit of holiday cheer.

And the first Christmas card arrived today. It's from the shelter where I volunteer and one thing they do, which I love, is that the cards are signed by about 5 of the employees. It's not an impersonal card it has little hand-written notes from the heads of various departments so it says things like "thanks for your work in the kitten nursery" or "it was great to see you at the last adoption fair." So it makes it feel like they know who I am and that my work is actually appreciated.

That, plus leftovers from yesterday's yummy dinner at my brother's, has put me in a very happy mood.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: The Pilgrim’s Progress

In the childhood oddness of growing up in Silver Creek was the annual Thanksgiving pageant. Unlike the all-inclusive Christmas festivities where all the local churches participated, the Thanksgiving pageant was all Our Lady of Angels.

Which is weird, because the pilgrims weren’t Catholic. But Father Sheehy decided to opt it as an OLA holiday and so the pageant was born. Father Sheehy didn’t actually claim that the pilgrims were Catholic, but he did rewrite history somewhat to have them saying the Hail Mary every time someone turned around.

I was in 7th grade and really wanted to be one of the Indians. Which meant, of course, that I was cast as 4th Pilgrim from the Left. In retrospect, considering that the whole event was about as politically correct as a Nuremberg rally, I am so glad that no blackmail photos exist of me as an Indian. But back then I was pissed. The Indians had all the fun. They got to whoop around and say things like “White man need food. We give cranberry sauce.” No….really….that was in the script.

Meanwhile, as a pilgrim, my sole contribution to the event consisted of a lot of nodding as the boys had all the good lines. Other than that, nothing except an itchy costume that smelled like last year’s pilgrim and was so tight at the collar that it left a red line around my neck when I finally took it off. I also had the requisite white pilgrim hat and black shoes with buckles.

I woke up Thanksgiving day wanting nothing more than to watch the balloons in the Macy’s parade on TV and was immediately roped in to my mother’s usual holiday panic. Every year she’d by some poor turkey the size of a Volkswagen and every year she’d have no clue how long to cook it. It would be 9 am and she’d be there with her arm up a turkey butt shoving stuffing into it and telling us not to fill up on corn flakes as dinner would be early. In her mind, nobody should be allowed to eat from noon on Wednesday until Thanksgiving dinner itself. And, given her cluelessness on turkey cooking, that dinner could be anywhere from 1 pm to 10 pm, depending upon when she panicked and put the bird in. Invariably she’d look at the turkey at some point, typically two hours before she thought it would be done, and pronounce the turkey cooked. Then we’d all be shanghaied into frantically mashing potatoes, making gravy and, of course, opening a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup for the dreaded Green Bean Surprise Casserole with Canned French’s Onion Rings on Top. I lived in fear of this dish every year. I still do. Oh yes, and the last thing on the table was always canned cranberry sauce. The kind where you can see the rings of the can on it when you tip it into the dish.

That year I’d hoped pilgrim duty would get me out of KP. But the 47-pound turkey was upsetting mom’s delicate equilibrium, which meant all hands on deck. I was set to peeling potatoes – not wanting to point out to my already mad mother that we wouldn’t be boiling them for at least another four or five hours. But I was able to snag the one seat at the kitchen table that afforded a view of the TV in the living room so I did get to see Smokey the Bear float along Broadway. But I couldn’t hear the marching bands – just mom muttering to herself weird alchemy about poultry pounds, oven temps, and timing. When she was so distracted by advanced math that she couldn’t pour on the guilt, I told her I needed to get into costume and head down to the church. She nodded. I ran.

I would have preferred to put on my costume at OLA, but it was a two-people job and I’d rather get help from Kathleen or Diane rather than one of the church ladies. They always smelled like dead flowers and I was vaguely afraid of them.

Diane was looking for an excuse to get out of celery chopping (celery being the only fresh vegetable anywhere near our Thanksgiving table). So she volunteered to tie me into my pilgrim suit and walk with me to the church. But she lied about the church bit. As soon as we were out the door she dumped me to go flirt with Keith Vandersloot and I was left to walk the few blocks to the church alone. Ridiculous in my pilgrim costume.

Old people smiled. Everyone who was in school with me but not in the pageant laughed. I tried to swallow in my tight collar and found myself daydreaming of wild ad-libs during the play. I had a big crush Timmy Ryan who played the Indian chief and envisioned myself saying “Screw the Hail Mary, I’m running off with Chief Blue Eyes Like the Sky in Spring. (OK, he was just called “Indian Chief” in the program, but Timmy did have great eyes.

Mrs. Murchison was, as usual, in her garden and told me I looked just like Priscilla Alden. Which confused me because I thought she meant I looked like Vicky Templeton (the bitch), who was playing Priscilla in our show. And I looked nothing like her.

Shannon Carey was sympathetic enough to my plight to not say anything when she saw my pilgrim self walking down the street – but I did hear her laugh as I went by. And even one of Silver Creek’s police cars slowed down, perhaps making sure I wasn’t hiding a bootleg turkey under that black dress.

By the time I got to OLA I felt like an idiot and had no good thoughts about Father Sheehy, Thanksgiving and, especially, the pilgrims. The pilgrims were all idiots who didn’t know how to dress and who ruined a perfectly good day by giving us canned cranberries and making small children put on silly costumes to recite embarrassing lines.

Not even the thought of pie (Sara Lee, of course) could redeem the day for me.

But then I saw the god that was Timmy Ryan. And even though he looked wild and romantic in his Indian costume, he also seemed to be as uncomfortable as I. Our eyes met over the baptismal fount. “This is it,” I thought. “This ridiculous costume will be worth it if it finally brings Timmy and I together as we should be.” But all he said was “hey” before walking on and talking to…..Vicky Temple (the bitch).

Sigh….there’s really nothing to be thankful for when you’re in 7th grade.
Thanks Full

Tomorrow is my favorite of the holidays. I am all about the food. Turkey. Cranberry sauce. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Even when my family ruins it, the remnants of goodness are there.

This year is the first time we're doing Thanksgiving someplace other than my mom's. My newlywed brother and new sis-in-law are hosting (which means dinner might actually be good!). I'm in charge of pumpkin bisque and homemade cranberry sauce (with orange juice and cinnamon stick). And I'm going to start the cranberries soon because they actually taste better the next day.

So before I get all caught up in cooking, I wanted to say thank you to you all.

Thanks for reading, even when I'm dull. Even when my dyslexia is so bad that I'm incomprehensible. Even when I haven't posted for a week or two because life intervenes.

Thanks for commenting, for making me feel like my words aren't just disappearing into the ether. For the ego boosts and the laughs and the thoughtful words that never fail to make my day.

Thank you for your words. Most of you have blogs that inspire and amuse me, make me think or teach me something new, make me laugh or make me think. You are all of you amazing people.

I wish you and all that you love a wonderful Thanksgiving. May your turkey be moist and may the company be good.

Smoochies,
Decca

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sorry About the Smallpox

Tuesday marks my 10th annual Thanksgiving week Native American Music special. Join me from 5:30-8 pm (Pacific time) to hear a mix of traditional and contemporary indigenous music from a variety of First Nations artists.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And So They Were Married....After Some Sushi

My brother's wedding was last night and it was quite nice. And a bit odd. About 30 people in a private room at a yummy restaurant. (The food was amazing.)

But the whole night was a bit weird. The bride and groom were mingling before the wedding. Invitations said 6 pm. The ceremony didn't actually start until 7:30. Before the ceremony, the bride and groom were a bit peckish so decided to have appetizers first. So we all sat down at our tables and ate sushi, pulled pork sliders, and calamari. I think husband and I have a new private joke....would you like some sushi or would you like to get married?

After some yummy sushi, brother said to me "well, let's get started." So we mosied over to a cozy corner of the room and called for quiet. We were going to start the ceremony when the bride realized she'd forgotten her flowers across the room so said "wait" and scurried across to grab her bouquet.

She got her flowers, walked back, and we started.

My family and free alcohol. A bad combination. I think Husband and I were honestly the only sober ones there. No, really. But nobody was obnoxious. Just very happy.

Considering the fact that I finished the ceremony at noon yesterday, I think it turned out well. It was personal and romantic, a bit funny and relaxed. Brother and new sister-in-law said they were thrilled. I also put together a few CDs of background music which seemed to be a big hit as well.

After the ceremony, things were equally relaxed (OK, disorganized). Several of the guests had already left before the cake was cut. (I never did get any cake!) But the room was beautiful, the bride was gorgeous, and the groom was beaming. When they said their personal vows both were near tears. And the night was full of laughter.

And more weirdness. Someone hit the wrong photo slideshow and dinner was accompanied by the photos of the happy couple -- at Alcatraz. Nothing like a picture of a morgue to put you in the wedding mood.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Catching up

Some links I thought you might like...

First off, I don't even like babies. (Or this song) but this had me cracking up.

Speaking of music, here's a French music video with cool animation, a fun sound, and a scary storyline.

Seriously one of the sweetest, most joyful things ever. I watch this every few months and sometimes it makes me so happy I cry. No, honestly.
Greetings

Yeah, it's been a while. Bronchitis followed by mono. Trust me to get mono. Here's a quick update:

- We have a rat. Scrabbling in the walls behind our kitchen cabinets. Fun. Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) just noticed today. We've heard it for a week now. We've bought some ratsbane and are keeping our fingers crossed.

- Next week: book group, Husband doing an interview at a San Francisco library and, oh yes, my brother is getting married, I'm performing the ceremony and I haven't written it yet.

- Mom is sometimes OK with her new place. Sometimes not. Eldest sister is freaking out big time and seems to be having a harder time than mom is. We're visiting her and doing our best to help her settle in. The people there are doing a wonderful job of making sure she has plenty of company and things to do. When I went the other day one of the managers was sitting with her doing a puzzle. He left when I arrived and when he saw me leaving later he told one of the aides to go up and make sure she wasn't alone. It's hard seeing her there. It's weird because at home she was just mom but when I go there and see all the old people with walkers it makes me realize how fragile it is. It's only been two weeks but so far it seems to be going as well as can be expected.

- I went to dog training night at the shelter so now I can help at mobile adoptions. I haven't signed up for my first one yet as I have so much going on, but I should be scheduled for one by the end of the month. I'll still be concentrating on cats, but at the adoption events I'll be helping out with both cats and dogs. I can't wait.

- This is perhaps the most boring update I've ever written.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick, No Treat

The siblings have decided on a senior home for mom and we're moving her in on Halloween.

After weeks of talking about it, it suddenly seems to be happening quite fast. My brother is organizing things and there are e-mails flying. My eldest sister is taking mom for a ride on Sunday and the rest of us are moving her things in. I haven't seen the room, but apparently it's nice and sunny. There's room for her bedroom set, a chair and TV. A small dining area. She has a mini-kitchen with fridge, microwave, coffeemaker and toaster oven. And her own bath. There are lots of windows and she'll have a view of SFO, which will make her happy as she loves to watch the planes take off and land.

And I feel like crap.

I've been dealing with bad daughter syndrome for years now because I'm not closer to her. And egged on by family guilt at not doing more, I've had it worse and worse. But it's finally sinking in that we're putting my mom in a home. Oh it's a nice one. Not a hospital. More of a retirement center with very nice people and lots of activities. I think it'll actually help her to have regular stimulation and company and things to do doing the day. But it remains that we're moving her out of the house she's lived in for nearly 60 years.

And she doesn't know. We haven't told her because 1) we don't know how and; 2) they advise us not to upset her until the last minute. They're the experts and know what to do. We've gotten some anti-agitation medicine and we'll all be there to show her around and make sure she's comfortable before we leave. Plus she's lost so much of her memory that even if we did tell her she wouldn't remember when she got there and we'd have to tell her all over again.

I know it's the right thing. We all do. She fell again the other day and bruised her forehead. Not seriously but, again, proof that she need more care than we can give her. They'll check in with her regularly, make sure she socializes, give her her medicine on time and, all and all, seems like the best solution.

But I still feel like crap.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Superstitions

Husband, who is normally a very rational man, has definite superstitions when it comes to sports. His all revolve around hats.

At the start of every hockey season he buys himself a new Philadelphia Flyers cap. This must be worn at all times when the Flyers are on the ice. However, if the Flyers should start to suck, the hat comes off because (obviously) the hat mojo isn't working. Of course he doesn't actually believe his headgear affects the outcome of games, but it's a superstition nonetheless.

At the start of tonight's playoff game between the Giants and the Phillies, Husband was wearing his Giants cap. However, the Giants soon began some form of suckage and the hat came off. And Husband (who didn't wear the cap last night, when the Giants won) proclaimed this a no-hat series as far as he's concerned.

Superstitions are odd things. I started my college career as an acting major and that's a profession overcrowded with superstitions. No whistling backstage. Saying "good luck" is bad luck. And, the biggie, you must never, never, never say the name Macbeth in a theatre. If you even quote from it, the production is jinxed until you go out of the theatre and turn around three times clockwise. (Who comes up with this shit?)

I don't believe in these, but I adhered to them because everyone else did and I didn't want to piss them off. But it's a weird thing.

I don't know that I have any superstitions. I work around tons of black cats. I've walked under ladders. I've broken mirrors. I don't knock wood or throw salt over my shoulder. But I respect other's superstitions so I don't do things to upset them. But it's odd how these things start and continue.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Am Not Crazy

I've always harbored a bit of a resentment towards those who think I'm "a crazy cat lady." This New York Times piece explains it nicely, thank you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: The Hiram House

I think every town has, or should have, a haunted house. With Halloween approaching, it seemed fitting to tell you about Silver Creek’s.

It was called the Hiram House and, sadly, it is no longer there. With typical Silver Creekian respect for the past it was torn down to build a picture-framing store. There was a movement to save it, but it was so dilapidated that it was deemed a fire hazard and, in spite of some civic spirit, there was nobody willing to fund a restoration. And, really, no point. It was just a shell. A shell with an interesting history, and some weird architecture, but beyond hope really.

Hiram House was one of the first five buildings in Silver Creek. Part of the original Spanish land grant to a man named Israel Hiram who did some dubious service and was rewarded with a plot of land in an as-yet-unnamed part of what would be California.

Hiram brought up a fat wife and some skinny cows from Mexico and started a dairy. And he built a house. It was just a square of four rooms at first. But as the dairy grew, and his fortunes along with it, he added rooms and kids at regular intervals. Eventually it was two stories with porches all around and mismatched windows. Some tall and skinny. Some arched. Two in one room. Three in another. Nothing matched and yet it all seemed to fit somehow. As if their disunity was what united the whole.

But, as with all good ghost stories, there was a tragedy. In this case an influenza epidemic that wiped out the fat wife and the numerous children. Only tough old Israel was left. He lost interest in the cows and stopped building the house and grew old and died. End of story.

But Hiram House sat there while Silver Creek grew up around it. The building falling apart. The land that the dairy was on turned into subdivisions and fast-food joints. And the old building of adobe and pine settled into lumps and ruins; an anomaly in suburbia.

As a child I lived about four blocks from Hiram House and walked past it on my way to Our Lady of Angels or the library. My friend Sean, however, lived on the same street, Hiram Road (imaginatively enough) and could see the old place from his bedroom window.
Being imaginative kids we, of course, invested the place with all sorts of specters. Not content with old Israel wandering about the place mourning the loss of his family, we came up with everything this side of Anne Boleyn wandering the place “with her head tucked underneath her arm.”

But we didn’t really believe the place was haunted. Not really. Sort of.

It was a hot August night when Sean, his elder brother Nick, and I were walking home after a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. We were in high school and not afraid of anything. Certainly not walking past the Hiram House at 2 am.

We’d sort of run out of conversation by then and were just enjoying the warm night and good friends. I was walking in-between the brothers, holding Sean’s hand. Nick was whistling "The Time Warp" quietly. Then we walked past the overgrown lot where the Hiram House stood. And we saw the man.

He was pale and scrawny. Seemed to be covered in dust. And was illuminated perfectly by the blue light of the moon as he stood staring at the empty house. And I stopped. And I looked. And then we all looked. And then he turned from the house and stared at us. He opened his mouth, but no sound emerged. Sean, always a chicken, made a sound like a wounded spaniel and high-tailed it for home. Nick and I took off after him without thought.

And once in the safety of the Logan house, we said nothing. And we never did. Not to each other. Not to anyone else. We all three saw him and all three knew the others had seen, but it was never spoken.

About six years later Hiram House was torn down. The only reference we ever made to that night was that Sean always referred to “The Haunted Picture-Framer” as the business that moved in.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Into Compulsion

I've been reading Jon Krakauer's fascinating book Into Thin Air. For those of you who don't know it, it details the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest in which nine people were killed. He's a great storyteller and it's a page-turning read.

It's also one of those books that makes you think about what you'd do in a particular situation.

In this case, I wouldn't be in that situation.

When I was a kid I decided that I was going to climb Everest. I think I saw it on The Wonderful World of Disney and, of course, planned on making the climb. After all, how hard could it be? You climb. End of story.

But somewhere in between Tinkerbell flying over the castle and my reaching the age I am now, I've changed my mind. I got smarter. Or lazier. Or something. But looking on it now, I wonder that anyone wants to do it. Forget "because it's there" it's insane!

You're sick all the time. You're exhausted. You alternately cough up blood or feel like you're otherwise going to die. People do die, every year. And you pay at least $75,000 for the privilege.

In many ways I'm in awe of people who achieve this. The discipline required to get your body into shape for an Everest climb is beyond my comprehension. And the drive necessary to achieve this one goal through pain, deprivation, fear, and threat of freezing to death is equally mysterious. Frostbite is nearly certain, apparently. Who really needs all 10 toes? And sure I'm willing to forsake family and friends for three months while I acclimatize my body to 29,000 feet. Sure, I want to live at the altitude that planes usually cruise at.

The whole thing seems both pointless and admirable -- crazy and and fascinating. I'm glad I read the book, but equally glad i'll never do it myself.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Plots
Ah, fall. The Giants are kicking baseballbutt (go Giants!). Halloween decorations abound and I have an excuse to accidentally eat two peanut butter cups. And the countdown has already begun for NaNoWriMo.


Last year I started a book with the deliriously bad title of Anton Schickler Sings Bad Songs of a German Childhood. I am still in love in love with title. It went no where, which was helped by my flu. So I started but didn't finish. Husband, however, being a stud not only wrong a book in a month, but he wrote a damned good one. He published it through Blurb and sold about 50 copies. Mostly to friends but a few times to total strangers (with good taste).

So we're coming up on 2010 NaNoWriMo and I am already panicking. No idea. None. Not a clue. No setting. No characters. No genre. Not even the merest hint of an idea. Should be fun.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Now With Platypus Liver!

I find cosmetics marketing hilarious.

First off, I don't really understand it. Aside from an insane high school addiction to root beer lip gloss I've never worn make up. The only so-called beauty product I buy is moisturizer.

But most women wear cosmetics and advertising it is a huge market. But what gets me is when they suddenly announce that an ingredient you never heard of or never knew would make you beautiful is suddenly touted in TV ads.

Now with Platypus Liver! They'll proclaim. Really? Who knew platypus liver was good for you? The big thing seems to be random oil. New Like Me Mascara enriches your lashes with Aspidistra Oil. What the heck is aspidistra oil when it's at home?

Men's products don't seem to suffer from the same problem. You never see an ad for shaving cream that's now made with trout scales or oak cream.

And since I'm on a rant (and when am I not?) what is it with too many made-up flavors. Nothing is chocolate anymore. It's Belgian Chocolate Creme Originale. Vanilla Bean Tahitian. There's always one weird geographic reference, I suppose to make it more cosmopolitan. But it's too much. Canadian Caramel Dream is not a flavor. It's a stripper.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Genius that was William Topz McGongall

If you are unfamiliar with the poetic oeuvre of Mr. McGonagall then you are in for a delight. Billed as "McGonagall the Prince of Dioggerell: and "The Worst Poet in the English Language" the poor man more than lived up to his name. This 19th century hack was firmly convinced of his Divine Talent and his duty to his Muse. He had no sense of humor regarding his work. At one point he wrote with great seriousness that while reciting his verses, people began throwing peas at him. And when you read his works, you really ca't blame them. His favorite subjects were train disasters, burials of famous peoples, bridge crashes, fires, and various other lyrical calamaties. Here I give you but a sample of the magic that was William McConagall's "talent":

The Late Sir John Ogilvy

Alas! Sir John Ogilby is dead, aged eighty=seven
But I hop his soul his now is heaven;
For he was a generous-hearted gentleman I am sure
And in particular, ery kind unto the poor

He was a Christian gentlemen in every degree
And, for many a years, was an M.P. for Bonnie Dundee,
And while he was an M.P. he didn't neglect
To advocate the rights of Dundee in every respect

He was a public benefactor in man way,s
especially in erecting an asylum for imbecile children to spend their days
Then he handed the institution over as free
As a free gift and boon to the people of Dundee

He was chairman gentlemen in his time,
and he now lies buried in the family vault in Strathmartine
but I hope his sould has gone alonft where all troubles cease
amonsgt the blessed saits where all is joy and peace

to the peple around Baldovan he will be a great loss,
because he was a kind hearted man and a Solder of the Cross
He had always a kind word for every one he met
And the loss of such a good man will be felt with deep regret

Because such men as Sir John Ogilvy are hard to be found,
Especially in Christian charity his large heart did abound
Therefore a monumentshould be erected for him most handsome to behold
And his good deeds engraven thereon in letters of gold

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CD Pick of the Week: Salif Keita

Salif Keita's new release is a must-have for fans of Afro-pop. This Malian superstar has struggled his whole life against intolerance shown towards his albinism. In this release he sings about his life experiences as “a white man with black blood.” Featuring rhythmic guitar riffs and stylish kora groove plus his gorgeous voice set against a female chorus, this is all delicious.

Even better? All proceeds from the sale of this CD benefit his charity Salif Keita Pour Les Albinos which helps to combat the stigma that albinism has in Africa.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Musical Updates
KZSU has announced its Fall Schedule and I'm still on Tuesday nights, with a bit of a time change. You can listen to my show, At the Cafe Bohemian, from 5:50-8 pm. Tune in and listen to what the rest of the world sounds like.

If you have iTunes you can listen that way as well. Go to iTunes -> Radio -> Colleges & Universities -> KZSU.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Don't Call it Frisco

I'm very proud of my San Francisco roots. My great-grandparents came to SF in the 1870s. My grandmother lived through the 1906 earthquake and I remember her stories of what it was like. My father was born and raised in an area of the city then known as "Butchertown." It wasn't because it was a rough neighborhood (although, sadly, it is now). It referred to the large proportion of butcher shops in the area. It was predominately French. So much so that the neighborhood church had Sunday masses in French.

The SF Bay Area is a mecca for people who want to work in high tech or are searching for a more diverse community. Those of us who are born and raised her are something of a rare breed. One place where I worked I was on a team of 12 and I was the only one who was from here. Everyone else had relocated from another part of the US or another country.

I adore the SF Giants and am a Niners fan (even though they suck). I have great memories of raiding SF when I was in high school. We'd borrow a car and drive around the city. Dancing under the rotunda at the Palace of Fine Arts. Picnics at Land's End. One memorable night we stole a whole bunch of orange cones, blocked off the top of Lombard Street and drove up. Yes, we drove UP Lombard Street.

San Francisco is my city. And I hate it when people call it Frisco. Nearly as bad is when they call it San Fran. Would it kill you to add the other two syllables? Calling it SF is acceptable. Here it's merely called "the City." If you say "there's this great Basque restaurant up in the City" nobody would ask "what city?"

But people (mostly sports announcers who, in spite of their annoying-ness, still qualify as people) insist on Frisco or San Fran. No. Bad announcers! No cookie!

I'm not sure if other cities have this problem. Most of them don't get abbreviated the way SF does. Husband is a Philadelphia native and he's fine with "Philly." Other cities seem to have nicknames rather than abbreviations. And people seem to be OK with them. Folks in New Orleans don't get peeved when you refer to it as "the Crescent City." Detroit is proud of their "Motown" label. Chicagoians use "the windy city" themselves. (By the way, did you know that doesn't refer to the wind? It's because politicians from that city were very long-winded while pleading their case to host the World's Fair back in the 1880s.) But they don't have annoying shortening of their names that pisses off the locals.

So please, don't call it Frisco.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: The Ballad of Queenie and Skeeter

Champion Victoria of India Star was a purebred Pembroke Welsh Corgi with an impeccable pedigree. One of her grandmothers won Best of Breed at Crufts and a littermate took the group at Westminster.

Ch. Victoria (known to all as Queenie) was, in spite of her breeding, a dog of the people. Much to the dismay of her owners. Her owners had no such pedigree, just the pretention.

Mr. and Mrs. Donald Wright were two of the biggest snobs on the planet. They were British and you’d think they’d invented the concept. They weren’t Lord and Lady Wright. They weren’t titled. But they acted like it. They were known about Silver Creek as “the always Wrights.”

They drove a succession of wildly unsuitable Jaguars that they insisted you pronounce in the English way of jag-you-are. They name-dropped English institutions with hilarious regularity. The finals at Wimbledon. Royal watching at Ascot. Phrases like “in my Oxford days” and “you can’t get real marmalade here can you” would be greeted with varying degrees of patience amusement or eye rolls.

Their greatest wish was to make others feel inferior, but they never once succeeded. And Queenie was no help in this matter.

Anyone who was unlucky enough to get stopped long enough heard all about Ch. Victoria of India Star. Her breeder had sold corgis to a “someone high up in the English royal family” but of course they couldn’t say whom. Queenie herself had won several Best of Shows and could have gone to Westminster, if the Wrights had been so inclined. But they showed her only until she got her Champion status and then retired her. Their intention was to breed her, but before they could, fate intervened.

Fate in the guise of a sweet but ugly mutt named Skeeter.

Skeeter was sort of a dirty water brown and looked as if he’d been put together by a committee. Eddie Collins, who lived next door to the Wrights, adopted him from a local shelter because; as he explained “something that ugly has to have some redeeming qualities.” And he was right. Skeeter was loyal, loving, and smart. He knew dozens of tricks and was devoted to his owner. Every kid in town knew and loved Skeeter. Eddie would keep his pockets full of dog treats and whenever a kid came by he’d hand over a few snacks so we could all feed Skeeter and get lots of lovely dog licks all over our faces.

Eddie couldn’t have been more different than his neighbors. He was a Marine. (Of course he was a Marine in WWII but I remember him saying there’s no such thing as an ex-Marine.) He was friendly to everyone and seemed to be on a first name basis with the entire town. He was a hard working plumber and proud of it. And he no pretentions at all. He loved a cold beer at the end of the day. Loved Monday Night Football. Loved Maybelle Reiter, who owned the Sunny Day Hair Salon. (And she loved him back.)

And loved sitting on the lawn, endlessly throwing the ball for Skeeter. Which is how the trouble started.

Champion Victoria of India Star should have been the pampered diva princess of her parent’s dreams. Instead, she liked nothing better than to roll in something deliciously stinky. She liked to knock over garbage cans and see if there was anything to eat inside. And she loved to burrow under the fence between the two yards and chase balls with Skeeter.

Skeeter was the love of her life. Her warm brown eyes positively glowed when his ugly shape ambled out into the yard. They would great each other rapturously, eagerly butt-sniffing and alternately rolling around and nosing each other.

And Eddie, well aware that Queenie was on the lam, would nevertheless make sure he threw the ball for her too. In his opinion, Queenie was a deprived animal. No ball chasing. No running in the sprinklers on a hot day. No getting dirty and being hosed off in the front yard.

Queenie was on a strict diet of homemade dog food and holistic treats. So of course she went nuts when Eddie shared his beef jerky and cheese puffs with her.

Usually Eddie was good about lifting Queenie back over the fence before the always Wrights knew she was gone. But one time Donald Wright came looking for her and nearly had a stroke. There was his Queenie, his Champion, eating cheese puffs and getting artificial orange dust all over her muzzle. Worse, she was sitting next to that….that mutt as if they were equals!

There was what Mr. Wright would have called “a scene” and Eddie called a “freak out.” Mr. Wright shouting, climbing over the fence to retrieve his precious girl and take her away from such ruffians. Eddie laughing and telling the man to calm down. Mr. Wright making vague mentions of the police. Eddie making distinct mentions of various places where Mr. Wright could put his police.

For a few days afterwards, Queenie was not left in the yard. She was taken for nice, decorous walks on her nice, decorous leash. The Wrights were careful to always turn her right down the block, away from Eddie’s place. And Skeeter, ever the romantic, would run hopefully along the fence line, no doubt calling to her in his best doggy Don Juan way.

And, as love will, it prevailed. One muggy summer night when the Wrights were watching Masterpiece Theatre (“My dear, the only thing worth watching on American telly!”) Queenie nosed open the screen door and made her escape. Within minutes she had bellied under the fence and was reunited with her Skeeter.

Later, when Queenie was safely delivered of a litter of scraggy dogs with short Corgi legs. The Wrights decided that she wasn’t the dog for them. We always wondered whether they sold or gave her to Eddie, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was that Queenie and Skeeter were together.

And from them on, we kids had two dogs to give treats to.
Photo of the day: Lucky

This is Lucky. She redefines adorable.
Photo of the day: The Condo of Love

This is a band of 3 and 4 month old kittens that like nothing better than to sleep in a pile. Every time I walk by their cage they are curled around each other like furry yin and yangs.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Another Planet

My mother's mind is now another planet. And sometimes that planet goes out of orbit.

Dementia is a horrible process. I went through it with my best friend. He had AIDS-related dementia. The day I walked in and he had no idea who I was, I felt little bits of my heart break inside of me.

Mom has senior dementia. At times it just manifests itself as having absolutely no memory. At times it's worse. Last weekend she took me on a tour of the home I grew up in because she thought I'd never been there before. She also talked about her kids like I wasn't one of them.

Saturday night the switch flipped and she turned aggressive, paranoid, and violent. I wasn't there. My poor nephew and his girlfriend were on grandma watch and went from being fine to asking who they were and what they were doing in her home. She accused them of trying to rob her. She said she hated them. She threw things. Worried she might hurt herself or someone else, they called 911. That made it worse. My mother, my nice mild-mannered mother, bit a cop. (Somehow I always thought if a mom bit a cop it would be Husband's mother. The ex-hippie and still political activist. I can see her biting a cop as he tries to drag her away from a protest.) But my mom? Nope. Too much a scaredy cat to cross authority.

Apparently it took a cop and two EMTs to get her to the ambulance. And once at the hospital she calmed down a bit and then went off again. She ripped out her IV and her ID tag and yelled at the nurses. They sedated her and she was able to go home a few hours later.

The siblings and I are working out when we can all meet up to have "the talk." We've come to realize she needs more care than she has now. My exceptional big sister lives with her, but I don't thinks it's just a matter of making sure she has company. She's getting worse. Unfortunately my mother's insurance doesn't cover in-home care. We've looked into care agencies and they charge $25 an hour. I'm not sure even with all of us chipping in we can afford that. Nobody wants to put her into senior care but we may have no choice.

It's tragic, because there are times when she's her. When she knows us. When she loves puttering around the home she's live in for close on 60 years. Where she was so happy with my father. And when she's her, she'll hate not being at home. She'll hate being someplace strange, surrounded by strange people. Of course we'll all visit and make sure she has as much family time as possible, but there will be times when her kids aren't there.

I am staying detached. Partly because I am and partly because I know from sad experience that in times like this, someone has to be. When I was Steve's primary caregiver I had to force myself to stay detached. If I let on how much it hurt, I wouldn't have been able to sign the papers to have him put into an AIDS hospice. So I put my feelings in a hurt locker and carried on.

This is easier. I've never felt exceptionally close to my mom, not like my siblings. I know it's much harder for them than for I. While they do what they can for mom, I'll do what I can for them. I'll go to the family conference, I'll give an opinion, I'll check my budget to see how much I can chip in for care. If necessary, I'll give up my volunteering and go back to work to be able to contribute more. But my job, as I see it now, is to whatever hard work I can. I'm OK with signing papers and being the one who makes the hard call. If my siblings will let me.

But they won't. Because to them I'll always be 9 years old. I will always be the baby of the family and incapable of being a responsible adult.

And for now we take care of mom as best we can. And hope her planet doesn't spin out of orbit while we're on duty.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lazy on a Saturday

When Husband is out of town I lose all desire to leave the house. Not out of misery at being a bachelor girl for the weekend. I do get to spend time alone here during the week. But there's something special about having a weekend alone. Don't get me wrong, I miss him big time. (But I'm loving his coverage of the Monterey Jazz Festival. Check it out at Jazz Observer.)

I'm watching movies he would have no desire to see. Taking lot, hot baths. Eating junk food. Having a great time. Sure I can do all this while he's here, but there's an illicit pleasure in doing it while he's gone. Like I'm doing something wrong.

Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) misses him more than me. When Husband is gone she follows me around like "I let one of you out of my sight, I'm not letting the other one leave." She's currently sleeping on his side of the bed. And last night, at her usual play time, she brought me her favorite toy. It's a stick with little crinkly bits on it. The problem is she only wants to play with Husband. Apparently I don't do it right. I did my best, but she gave me a pityingly patient look that said "you loser" and would not bite. Then she did the cat equivalent of looking at her watch to figure out when Husband was going to be home. I find it amusing that I spend most of my week playing with cats who can't get enough of my attention yet my own cat refuses to play with me.

So while Husband is gone Cipher will have to put up with a second-rate player. And I'm indulging in an orgy of the British show Top Gear. I'm going to have popcorn for dinner. Cipher will have tuna (her favorite). And Husband will have a full day and night of amazing music.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kitten update

It's been a while since I've updated you about things at the nursery.

We're in quarantine due to a possible positive test for feline leukemia and ringworm. The second leukemia test was negative, which is a good thing, but we're still keeping an eye out. Luckily the litter in question is thriving. Getting fat and happy and playing like crazy.

Because of the quarantine there are no litters in or out, so we've got the same full house we've had for the past two weeks. Everybody is doing great. Some should have been moved to adoption last week so they're huge and far more active than a little cage can hold. Their close to breaking out and we have to be extra careful about securing the cages because they can break out.

We're coming to the end of the season. Last year the nursery closed the first week in October. We'll probably shut down once this quarantine is over and the litters are moved to foster or adoption. And we've already broken our record for kittens. Last year we had 62. This year we had 86.

I'm going to miss the nursery when it shuts down. I'll go back to doing cats four days a week, but there's nothing like working with the kittens.

Next year we'll be in the shelter's new building with a separate nursery for the kittens, not just a small out-building. We'll be able to have more kennels and can save more kittens. I can't wait.

Husband, if you're reading this, thank you for making it possible for me to do what I love.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stupid f$#&@^g design
After 30+ hours I finally got some sleep (thank you Ambien)!.

Now, here's my crankypants rant for the day.

How hard is it to design a clock radio? My old faithful one died, mostly due to a certain cat (who shall remain nameless) knocking it off the nightstand in a repeated attempt to get fed at 3 am.

So I bought a new one. All I wanted was a clock radio. You chose a station, you set the time, the alarm goes on and off.

Well this one does all that. But it does it badly.

My biggest complaint is that the alarm on/off button is directly behind the volume knob. What idiot puts the most used feature on a product directly behind the least used feature? How often do you change the volume of your clock radio? How often do you turn it on and off? Plus the volume is controlled my a wheel so unless you reach around it, you're liable to turn the volume up to mach 2 in your sleepy stupor. And if you aren't careful while turning the alarm on at night, you might accidentally hit the wheel and turn the volume down to nothing so that you don't wake up.

Don't people think any more? This seems to be to be completely illogical. It's just annoying enough that, after about a month, I'm on the lookout for a new clock radio.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Night Off From the Airwaves
I'm not on the radio tonight. I've been awake for something like 30 hours now and probably shouldn't get behind the wheel of a car. So I'm going to take an Ambien and sleep for the evening.

Yay!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Things that are right with the world today...

It's the first full Sunday of the NFL season. Go Niners!

Yesterday the coolest in-laws on the planet (mine!) participated in the pro-Islamic demonstration in NYC. I am so proud of them for being on the side of tolerance, education, and kindness.

The Sunday paper was full of stories from this week's explosion disaster. Lots of generosity and charity. Focusing on how many people are giving of their time and money, how much appreciation shown to first responders, and how the community is pulling together.

Positive updates from the shelter on happy reunions between displaced pets and frantic pet owners. Plus outpourings of kindness from people offering their homes as foster to pets without a home until their owners get back on their feet.

Husband is on the radio today (if he ever gets out of a horrific traffic jam on the freeway!), playing jazz from 1-3.

Had dinner last night with a good friend. Someone I knew in high school that I've recently reconnected with thanks to Facebook. I swear he and Husband were separated at birth. So funny to see how much they have in common.

Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) is sleeping in a sunbeam.

Have I mentioned it's football season?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Oh...my

We were WAY too close that that explosion/fire yesterday. Our town borders San Bruno, where it all happened. From our back yard we could see a huge plume of black smoke and could smell the fire. Sirens going off all over town. People standing in the street to look and wonder.

It's one of those events that makes you realize how lucky you are, and how quickly it can all be taken away.

The Bay Area has mobilized, as it does in times of trial. People lined up to donate food and clothes. Blood banks booked solid. The shelter was busy taking care of displaced animals, injured wildlife, and frantic pet owners. THere had already been a half-dozen tear-filled reunions between pets and people. Sadly, more coming in all day. Our overflow was taken by shelters in neighboring counties. Kennels lined up in hallways and offices. We've moved some of our adoptable animals to other locations so we can keep people's pets in-house. Our amazing volunteers have stepped up to put in extra hours feeding and caring. Others have opened their homes as foster houses.

I hugged Cipher (The World's Most Amazing Cat, Screw You if You Don't Agree tm) a bit tighter today and thought how devastated I'd be if anything happened to her.

As long as I had her and Husband, I'd be OK. But far too many of our friends and neighbors have lost it all.

I can still smell residual smoke in the air. i can tell by my coughing that my allergies and bronchitis (have I mentioned I have bronchitis?) have been affected. There was a light dust of ash this morning. The backyard cats were more skittish than usual.

We watched the news last night until the anchors ran out of things to say. After hours of non-stop coverage of a disaster having some yobbo say "this is obviously a serious situation" is actually darkly funny. My brother is a local fire chief so I knew he was in the thick of things. He and his guys are all fine, thankfully. And thankfully far fewer fatalities than there could have been.

Today was a bit unreal. People were more considerate of each other. Drivers a bit nicer. I noticed more people talking on the streets, comparing notes, checking in. All my shelter friends greeted each other with "everyone you know OK?" and took the time to reassure or commiserate.

That's the only good thing about bad things.

Hug your loves a bit closer for me.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

4-Chord Wonders

Catching up on cool things around the Inter webs...

The amazing Axis of Awesome with the Four Chord Song. I'm not cool enough to get all the references, but it is hilarious. (NSFW.)
Death and the Plants

I can't grow anything. Gray hair, yes. Plants, no. If I try, it will die a sad and tragic death.

I have friends (Finny, this means you) who can grow anything. They get the idea "I'd like to own a peach orchard" and trees magically start blooming in their back yards. Perfect rounds of ripe fruit, glistening with dew like in the pages of a Japanese catalog, will hang tantalizingly from the branches. And animated bluebirds will chirp happily and land on her fingers.

I will buy a plant and it will die in the car on the way home.

The only thing I have ever successfully managed to not murder is cactus. Which is strangely appropriate.

We have a couple of wildly phallic cacti in our front yard that I am just childish enough to giggle about when I see them. There are a few on the kitchen counter above the sink. But other than that our indoor greenery consists of a bamboo tree that I tried to prune and turned into a bamboo stalk. And the other plant is something else. No clue what it is. It's been here since the Hoover administration so it's origin is shrouded in the mists of time.

The house we rent comes with a gardener, so we fortunately never have to deal with mowing the lawn or pruning the roses. There are a few bare spots in the dirt which I've tried to fill with various bits of greenery or ground cover only to end up with brown, striggly plants that looks crisp enough to break with an actual "snap."

Now being a thoroughly modern woman, I do have excuses. First off, the neighborhood cats look upon our house as home base so they feel perfectly justified in digging up, peeing on, and generally killing off anything in the yard. That's one of the reasons why I put cactus out front. When I tried planting basil we decided we didn't actually want to use it because there was cat poo all over the planter. The freaky thing is that we've actually seen the cats sleeping in the planters with the cactus. It doesn't seem to bother them.

The other excuse is that we don't actually have soil in our yard. We have concrete. At one point the ground cover in our front yard died completely and it made our yard look like we lived in the sole crack house on the block. So I finally got fed up and decided to replant. I couldn't dig it up. The mix of ancient dirt and natural clay was so rock-hard that I actually had to sit there with a hammer and chisel (no, I am not kidding) and break up clods. Took me fucking forever. Several months, actually. I was never once able to use a shovel, a trowel, or any other normal gardening implement. Nope. Me and stone tools.

Once I got it all broken up I dutifully added fresh soil and fertilizer and various other nutrients before planting the new ground cover. And it's the one and only thing (thankfully) that has ever stuck around. Huzzah! We don't look abandoned! But knowing what's required does not inspire me to do it all round the house. I'm just not that interested.

So hats off to all of you who toil and sweat in the yard and then sit back with the butter running off your chin as you eat your fresh corn. Your hard work deserves all the yummy and beautiful things you grow. But for me, well I don't actually enjoy feeling like I'm on a Georgia chain gang. So I'll just buy my crops and envy you your freshness.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Naming

I've commented before on the oddness of names. They fascinate me. The labels we carry into life. For good or for bad they help define our personalities. The can affect how people perceive us even before we've met them. And yet so many parents seem to think only of the sound and not of the burden a bad name can create.

One of my fellow volunteers just showed me photos of her new granddaughter. Not doing babies I commented non-commitally about the wrinkled pink creature she was oohing over. And, of course, I asked what her name is.

Luella.

Really? It's 2010 and you've named your daughter after Miss Iowa 1934?

Luella has two older brothers. Spencer and Morgan. Typical 21st century Hollywood-wannabe "cool" name. They'll fit right in with all the Madisons and Codys in their school. And given their names, you'd think Luella would have ended up as Brittany or Shea. But no, she's a Luella.

Now those of you who know me will be surprised I didn't immediately blurt out "god lord, why?" when I heard the name. Luckily, I didn't have to. As soon as grandma told me her name she instantly added "horrible, isn't it?" Well, yeah. I gotta be honest. I think it's horrible. No offense to any Luellas out there. But really, in today's society, it's a name that doesn't need to be given to anyone.

I asked grandma if Luella was a family name. She said no, with a laugh. And she says she and her husband honestly expect her daughter and son-in-law to either change it or start calling her by her middle name.

Which is, matching with Spencer and Morgan, Clio.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Radio, Radio

If it's Tuesday it must be radio night.

Join me from 6-9 pm (Pacific) on KZSU for At the Cafe Bohemian. Not sure what I'm going to play tonight. I might do a "women of the world" focus.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Art and Whine

Every Labor Day weekend our town hosts an Art & Wine Festival. It's huge. One of the largest in the Bay Area. And, oh joy!, it's about three blocks from where we live.

We celebrate this occasion by staying as far away as possible from downtown. We go without food because getting to the grocery store would be a nightmare. We plan our away trips with care as we know there will be no parking in front of our house when we get back. And even though we are three whole blocks from fun central, we get groups of loud drunk people walking in front of our house and freaking out the cats.

All the neighborhood feral cats have been hiding in the relative sanctuary of our back yard all weekend. It looks like a cat apocalypse out there. Bodies everywhere. (Peacefully sleeping, of course, not dead.) But at least a half dozen of them sprawled like the Battle of Gettysburg on the concrete, under the bushes, by the chairs. There are a few in the front yard, but the sidewalks are too full of people with too much wine in them and too little taste. People carrying handmade wicker bird cages and ugly ceramic flower pots. People wearing hand-painted baseball caps with dandelions on them. People eating funnel cakes and sporting farmer's tans.

Luckily it's over. It's only a two day event and tomorrow our street will go back to being relatively quiet. There will be far fewer people in an alcoholic stupor parking in our driveway. But the neighborhood cats will still be here. Just less freaked out.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: The Silver Creek Series

As mentioned earlier, not much happened in Silver Creek in the summertime. A high school musical. Band concerts at the park. Fireworks. But the big social event of the season was the Garcia vs. Fire Department softball game.

It started when I was in 4th grade. Mr. Garcia, who owned a local insurance business was best friends with Chief Nettles, who was then chief of the fire department. After years of mini golf games, pub trivia nights, and one memorable donkey baseball event they decided on full on softball.

If you were a friend or relation of the Garcia family, you were a Garcia Giant. If you were an employee or family member of the Silver Creek Fire Department, you were a Hydrant.

Since Jessie Garcia was one of my dearest friends, I was always on the Garcia team and was considered something of a secret weapon. You see, don’t tell anyone, but I could hit anything you threw at me. Fast balls. Sliders. Curves. Didn’t matter, I’d smack ‘em out. I could be counted on for at least a single and usually a double or triple every at bat..

That was the good news. The bad was that I couldn’t field to save my life. I’d see a ball coming at me and all I could focus on was the word “Spaulding” coming ever closer to my forehead. Twice games were stopped while the EMTs (on the Fire Dept Team) checked me our for possible concussions. Once asking me who was president. When I refused to say “Reagan” he passed me as being OK. After twice being bonked out of left field they took me out of the game, debated the merit of the designated hitter, and put me in from time to time.

After a hotly contested game there were hot dogs and lemonade, beer and bratworst, and lots of lying on who played better.

To this day I still swear you can read “Spaulding” on the top of my head . Husband says it isn’t obvious if I comb my hair right.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Meeker

There's a kat named Meeker that isn't in the adoption area. He's in the feral room, having only recently been caught in a busy office park area. Meeker isn't at all happy to be inside. He's an outdoor cat and lets you know it. Chances are he might go back there,, as there's a volunteer with a horse barn in use of a mouser. Meeker might suit very well. But until then he's got to learn some basic people skills, like "do not maim the nice volunteers."

Meeker (what an inappropriate name!) should be approached with a whip and a chair. As it is, I do pull out my leather gloves when dealing with him. We just need to get him used to people. He'll never be a lap cat, and that's OK. But he can't keep jumping with claws out at anyone within walking distance. While cleaning the cage of the cat below him, Meeker calmly lifted a paw out and slammed it down upon my unsuspecting head. Blood ensued.

This is not a house cat in the making. This is a cat that wants to be on the hunt. And as soon as the vets finish treating his broken foot and worms, he'll be healthy enough to go "home." And this wooded barn area with lots of squirrels and nobody trying to play "here kitty, kitty" with him seems like the perfect solution.

But until then, Meeker is a mean old Tom who has earned my wariness. And caused me two band-aids.