Saturday, February 20, 2010

Photo of the day: Lamplight

Outside of a pink fire station. Pink!

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Good Day (Cat-Wise)
Some days of cat duty are better than others.

Don't get me wrong, I love every single day that I'm at the shelter. But there are some days where it seems like I spend all my time cleaning cages or dealing with just-this-side-of-feral cats more interested in ripping off my arm than being socialized.

But today but was but one of those really good days. The majority of my time was spent with the inhabitants of "The Condo of Love." It's a kennel with five (5!!) 10-month old kittens. When I opened the cage my lap was instantly inundated with warm, purring bodies who decided I was their best friend. There was fighting for prime lap space. There was licking. There was batting of my head. There was ... well, love.

Luckily one of the get acquainted rooms was empty to I picked up the nearest kitten and took her into the room. Then I closed the door, went back to the cage and got the next kitty. Lather. Rise. Repeat. Once all five were running crazily around the room I left them alone, cleaned out their cage and got it all cozy for their return, and then went to the room to play with the kitties. I swear while I left them by themselves, they multiplied. There must have been 17 cats in that room. There was wrestling. There was meowing. There was attacking the bench, eating the towel, and trying to crawl into my bag.

And that was before I pulled out the toys.

The biggest hit of the day was the laser pointer. One of the kitties (appropriately named "Livewire") went insane chasing the little red light. The other cats very politely took turns in my lap. One would curl up and get the love while the others would play. Then, as if by unspoken agreement, the lap cat would suddenly hop down and decide the laser pointer was more interesting than the attention. A few seconds later another would move into the lap for his or her turn. But then...chaos. They all wanted the lap at once. I was literally covered in cats. One on my lap, another on my stretched-out legs. One curled up next to me, one trying to crawl up my arm (and eventually succeeding and spreading himself across my neck and wedged between my back and the wall).

For some reason, the song "Love Machine" kept going through my head. Along with the thought that I am the luckiest person in the world.
Photo of the day: Things Are Looking Up

I love old buildings. And I love how much you can see when you look up at what surrounds you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Back in TIme
I went to the funeral mass for the mother of a high school friend today. It was pretty weird. For one thing I came face-to-face with half of my high school. It was a definite case of the way-back machine. I think I saw a half dozen people I went to high school with and haven't seen since graduation. It was a bit odd to see these people, remember them as young crazy people, full of dreams and energy, and hear them talk about kids and job troubles.

The other strange bit was being back in the Catholic church of my childhood. For one thing it's amazing how much of the old ritual I recall. For another, it was surprisingly Medieval. The "bells and smells" that haven't changed since back when pope's had mistresses. It was all so 12th century. The sung responses. The candles and incense. The music and flowers. The sermon about resurrection and everlasting life. The communion. I felt like I'd gone back in time to a completely different century, as if I should be veiled and holding a prayer book.

Instead I stood and sat as instructed, admired the stained glass, and wondered (not for the first time) how it is some people have faith and some don't. Me? Not so much.
Photo of the day: Another Cryptic Note from our Engineering Overloards

They're making less sense,but they;re doing in interestingly at least.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Photo of the day; Self Explanatory

So? What is it? Does it work?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: Mrs. Liddle

Mrs. Amelia Liddle was the most theatrical person in all of Silver Creek. Rumor had it she had once been a Rockette and had appeared on Broadway. Rumor was wrong. But somewhere in her dim past she developed a love of the theatre (with an “re” always with an “re”).

She was costume mistress for every production Silver Creek High ever put on. She wrote and directed plays for children at the Rec Center. She put on puppet shows, pantomimes, even some of the worst Shakespeare ever performed. (Picture Romeo and Juliet where Romeo was a foot shorter and 50 pounds lighter than Juliet.) Every Halloween she would dress up in the most amazing costumes and pass out homemade caramel apples. And every Christmas she directed the pageant at every church within a 15 mile radius.

And above all, she instilled in every child who came into her orbit with a love of all things creative. She gave the artistic cheap sets of watercolors and thick pads of butcher paper. She gave the musical free singing or piano lessons. Every budding Olivier got a chance to perform on the stage she set up in her garage. And every would-be Astaire got tap or ballet lessons.

When I was about six or seven and decided I was going to be the next Katharine Hepburn, it was Mrs. Liddle who gave me free scripts to non-royalty plays and taught me to project to the second balcony. She gave me my breakthrough role as Rabbit #2 in an Easter play. I still remember my first line “But what will we do if it rains?” I moaned that line with such intensity, such depth of feeling that I’m sure everyone in the audience (except for my brothers, on whom such passion was lost) wept with total and absolute fear that it would, in fact, rain.

She was my first and only singing teacher. In her booming, Ethel Merman-esque voice she’d lead me through selections from Oklahoma with decreasing enthusiasm as she and I both slowly realized that I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. But once she got singing, it was hard to get her to stop and often our lessons would end with her belting out her “You’ll Never Walk Alone” with such force and depth of feeling you could feel the windows rattle. Her voice was an almost physical force, emanating from her giant prow of a bosom, typically covered in layers of costume jewelry.

Mrs. Liddle, much to her disappointment, had three athletic but entirely talentless sons. She loved them all, but never quite got over the feeling that God had somehow misplaced their parentage. She was sure at least one would win an Oscar or paint a masterpiece. But, alas, all they wanted to do was run around a track or throw a football. All were tone deaf and had two left feet. Each failed miserably at piano, drawing, singing, or acting. Her youngest, Eddie, at least felt enough filial affection to try out for school plays. But his intense stage fright would render his lines inaudible. And for boys thoroughly coordinated on the playing field, each was tremendously and surprisingly awkward on the dance floor. The middle boy, Simon, tripped up his date to the winter formal and she broke her ankle (and the romance).

Mr. Liddle was something of an enigma. His sole contribution to theatricality was being the news director of a local AM radio station. He had a commanding voice, which seemed to absorb the whole of his personality as he was physically almost invisible. I often saw him at church and five minutes later couldn’t possibly describe him. I don’t know if it was because Mrs. Liddle was so larger than life that she overshadowed him, or if it was because he truly was unremarkable. But, as Mrs Liddle once said “he doesn’t ever get in my way” so he perhaps he was used to standing in the background.

Most unexpectedly, in my senior year of high school. Mrs. Liddle died. She’s gone into the hospital for a routine operation but her huge heart gave out and she died on the table. The entire town went into mourning. When news came, the principal made the announcement over the loudspeaker at school and then dismissed classes for the afternoon. Stores on Union Street closed or taped up hastily made RIP signs. I saw big, tough high school athletes cry at the memory of Mrs. Liddle helping them to survive the terrors of the church choir or the summer musical.

Our Lady of Angels was packed for her funeral mass. It seemed as if every child in town, and half of the adults, had come into contact with Mrs. Liddle. The choir seemed lost without their director, and quieter without her soaring soprano. And those of us who had benefited from her generous expertise, her enormous talent, and her Halloween caramel apples sat a bit lost, feeling as if all of Silver Creek had gotten quieter.

Which it had.
Photo of the day: Gathering No Rolling Stones

A lovely little patch of moss growing under the downspout in our backyard.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic Fever
Yeah, I admit it. I got it. Husband and I are both huge Olympic fans (although we'll have to decided between watching the Olympics and watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show). We've been glued to the TV all weekend and will continue to be obsessed until they put out the torch.

We're not all "USA! USA!" about it. We'll root for the underdog. We love it when some athlete from, say, Moldova, wins their country's first winter medal. We're all about the competition. Whoever seems to work the hardest or gives the best performance is the guy we'll be pulling for.

Our favorite sport is biathlon -- the cross-country skiing, stopping to shoot, sport. Based upon its military history, it makes perfect sense. But when you take it apart, it seems insane. Like swimming and then stopping to play badminton. How they do it is beyond me. They ski flat out and get all exhausted and then suddenly stop, slow their breathing and heart rate somehow, and blow away five targets.

We're not so fond of the "extreme" sports, but we'll watch pretty much anything.

And the coverage so far? Iffy. I am already sick of the Dreamworks movie ads where they try to tie the Olympics into their upcoming film. And there are a few commercials that make me lunge for the mute button. The sports themselves are OK, but again overdone with the "tragic athlete we're going to focus on with the dead grandmother whose parents had to sell their blood to send kid to the games" stories. But that's to be expected. We were a little pissed on Saturday when the women's biathlon coverage go 6 1/2 minutes (we timed out) out of a four hour broadcast. But apparently biathlon isn't a commercial sport. I suppose if we want fuller coverage we'll need to move to Norway.

In other news, our book group meets tonight. One of the highlights of the month. Sadly tonight's gathering will be thin due to illness, a rehearsal conflict, and a visit from distant family. I think there will only be five of us. But there will be lively talk, some yummy cheese, good friends and, in honor of the Olympics, Nanaimo Bars.
Photo of the day: Steve's Tree

Signs of life on the apricot tree that my best friend Steve planted right after I moved into this house.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Photo of the day: A Small Valentine's Rose

For all the people that I love. For all the reasons wby I love them.