Sunday, September 28, 2008

kitten photos

triumphant kitten resting after reaching base camp 4, before attempting  the summit of Mt Luneray
All three kittens on Oscar's lap.
Oscar's not really sideways but the photo is. 

Hanging out after a rough day of climbing up people's bare legs and not pooping in the litter box

Kitten madness

I am sitting hunched over my computer and I am covered with kittens. They are all either sitting on my shoulders or trying to climb up to the top of my head. I'm also covered with kitten scratches, because they all climbed up my bare legs to get to the summit of Mt. Luneray. 

I've figured out names for the kittens. The white one is Nadia, because she is rather a gymnast. She is very sociable and active. 

The male grey kitten I'm calling Jasper, because he purrs very loudly. Jas-PURR, get it? 

The female grey kitten was a bit harder to name. Both grey kittens look identical to me unless I look at their gender bits so it's usually by their behavior that I tell them apart. Grey kitten #2 is more shy and a bit smaller. She also has a very squeaky voice. So she is called Mouse. You know, grey, timid, and squeaks? Plus I like the idea of calling a cat "mouse". 

Now, if they'd figure out that the big box of litter is for pooping in, things would be much nicer. I know they can get in to it, and Mama Cat uses it. Ah well, they are young yet. At least they mostly use the towels that I've placed on the floor. I've found one non-towel deposit; hopefully, that's the only one. Sadly, the office is kind of stinky right now. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

in which I show off most of the new foster cats

Mama cat. Very sweet, but painfully thin. Keeps trying to climb onto my lap when I'm sitting in this chair, but I don't know if she's trying to cuddle or just trying to take the chair over for herself. 
Grey kitten #1. The bold one. Also very noisy. 

Kitten #2. A beauty. Also very friendly. She reminds of a ragdoll in her looks. 

No pictures of grey kitten #2. That one is shy, and is hiding somewhere.

These guys will stay with us until the kittens can be altered (when they weigh two pounds/1 kilo). After the kittens are weaned, Mama cat will be spayed. My guess is three weeks until they will be ready for adoption? 

Apparently, every cat in this house loves me except for Sasha, who came up to me this afternoon, nuzzled a bit and then peed all over my shoulder. This was the final straw. As far as I'm concerned, he's turned himself into an outdoor cat. 

in which our household cat population has increased by four

Currently residing in the office is one very skinny mama cat and three fluff ball kittens. Mama and two of the kittens are grey and the other is cream colored with light grey ears, tail and feet. (Or perhaps it's just dirty, I don't know.) One of the grey kittens is very adventurous and bold and the other one is not. They look identical to me so the only way I know which one is which is that the shy one will hiss. 

Right now, they are all romping around the office. Apparently, it's a great kitten playground. And my toes are a big hit. One or more of the kittens will wander by and nibble a bit and then walk on. 

in which I show off my new hat

Made by me for me

And now me being all faux-artsy by trying to take a self portrait. Mapplethorpe, I'm not.

in which I rave about technology

I am not really a gadget freak. In fact, I tend to be slightly suspicious of new and shiny things which supposedly make your life easier. I think I was the last person in the Pacific Northwest to actually get a cell phone and that was only after I had to pick Oscar up after his evening courses at Cornish and there was that one night of spectacular miscommunication and I wished he could just have called me to tell me where the hell he actually is instead of where I though he would be. 

So my personal cell phone causes embarrassment to just about everyone except me. It's a Nokia pay-as-you-go phone, but it works for me because no one ever calls me anyway (just about everyone contacts me via email). After we moved to Tacoma, we didn't even bother getting a landline in the house, because we never used the phone. Why pay $20 a month for a service you don't use? When I say never, I mean "never". 

I do have a Blackberry, but I got that through work (I didn't want it; I just wanted a cell phone.) Despite what Kat and Crash think, I am not addicted to it. I do find it useful because I can access my personal email on it, and there are some very fun games. I also like it because it allows me to surf the web while at work. Non-work internet use is verboten and tracked and I've already gotten into trouble for it. However, you have to be very, very dedicated to goofing off and surfing the web on my particular Blackberry because it's rather slow (Think dial-up speed) and so many sites don't render well for mobile phones (like my beloved Ravelry). 

But I did say I was going to rave about technology, didn't I? Well here's one piece of technology while I can certainly live without, I love very much and I will miss it when it's not available. 

The iPod. 

I had a first generation shuffle, which bit the dust about a year ago. Then Kat gave me a first generation Nano that she hadn't gotten rid of when she upgraded and lo, it was good. It was so good that I put it in a very secure place and couldn't find it for-freaking-ever so I ended up buying a refurbished Shuffle from apple. (Then I found the Nano stored in one of those pockets in my backpack that I never, ever use.)

They are both very useful and for different reasons. Right now, I generally listen to audiobooks and the shuffle has a weird (actually annoying) quirk of reverting to the beginning of the recording after charging. While it's mildly annoying if it's a book on CD with each CD broken into 26 "songs" (it reverts back to the beginning of the CD), it's maddening with a single audiofile from that's 8 hours long. The long audiofiles have bookmarks that the shuffle didn't recognize, and that's where the Nano is great, since it has a screen and I can scroll through the file and see where I am. 

I like that the shuffle is very small and can clip on to your shirt, belt, whatever. But it's tininess can also be a liability because it's very easy to misplace. The thing is the size of a US quarter coin, not very big! I've learned to clip it to my backpack when not using it. 

Love, love, love the iPod. 

Love it. It's a fundamental piece of my commuter care kit. Not only do I get to "read" and knit at the same time, it also drowns out the conversation of fellow commuters. Actually, train commuters tend to be a fairly quiet bunch, but there is often one person who is either having a very personal conversation at full volume on their cell phone or a group of colleagues griping about work. (Not that I blame them, I just don't want to hear it.) 

Oh, and a personal opinion about cell phone etiquette. If you would not have this certain conversation on the train if the other party were present, then don't sit on the train and have this conversation on the phone either. (To the woman who spent 30 minutes on the phone discussing the problems facing you and your daughter since you found out she was doing meth? I had real sympathy for you until you said "well, at least the meth has made her thin." Now I hate you.) 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

in which I do find something to share

Artist Tara Donovan takes the ordinary and makes beauty.

in which I check in

Not dead

Not injured

Life is just rather dull lately and I just don't have much to say. 

However, the day after tomorrow I am getting some foster cats from the Humane Society. A mama cat and two kittens. I've never had kittens around; it should be fun. :)

And I bought two cans of Spam today. Go ahead and mock me. I love Spam and I'm completely unapologetic about it. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

in which I do hard physical labor

Who knew that removing a shrub would be so freaking hard? There was a large shrub next to the front door that I didn't like so I've spent most of the summer hacking away at it. Just a bit at a time so that it didn't become too onerous. 

Well, it was hacked away and only the stump and root ball remained. Last week, Oscar and I drove out to Calendula Nursery and got a replacement plant (yellow twig dogwood-yes, I know they need to be pruned) and today I did my best to get that damn stump out of the ground. 

Shovel and spading fork did a good job up to a point, but I finally gave up and walked over to my neighbor (who happens to be a master gardener) and asked for her advice. She lent me a digging rod, which turned out to be a very heavy, 6 foot long steel pole to use as a lever. Still no success. I had to expose more roots. I excavated around the roots with a trowel and pretended I was some urban archeologist unearthing a fabulous find instead of a frustrated neophyte gardener nearly weeping with exhaustion. Sometimes the lies we tell ourselves do help us get through the day. 

I took a break and Oscar took up the digging rod and pushed and prodded for several minutes, working up quite the sweat because did I mention that the rod was really heavy? Finally, there was that satisfying loud thunk which signified that some major root had been broken and the stump actually started to move. A few more minutes of levering and some more excavation and the giant root ball broke free. Yay!

I don't know exactly how much that root ball weighed but I'm guessing at least 45 lbs. Probably more. I don't have any trouble lifting a large bag (40lbs) of dog food over my shoulder but I could barely lift this thing into the yard waste bin. 

Oscar says, Finally!

Kate wants to know if it's edible. 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

in which I share some neighborhood gossip

I think my neighbor is involved in some extramarital activities. I do not care about that, but there's a part of me that is hoping that she'll end up leaving her husband and taking all those yappy dogs away.

in which I discover that physical fitness does have its benefits

I've been walking. A lot. It's been fairly easy since the weather is nice. I may have mentioned that I stopped going to Weight Watchers because I was losing my motivation and I wasn't really following the plan anyway. Why pay that much money for nothing. (And besides, it really bugs me that they weigh you to the 0.10 of a pound. That's 45 grams! I guess they do that because it can be inspiring to know that you are losing something but far more often people seemed to stress that they'd gained 0.2 pounds.) But even though I'm not really following the plan, my pants are definitely looser now. And that's what I really care about. I don't care what I weigh.

I've been trying to walk home from the train station. It does require some advance planning; Oscar has to give me a ride in the morning* and I have to make sure that my backpack isn't too heavy. (It's enough of a workout to lug my own 220 lb frame up these hills, much less adding another 30 lbs of library books.) This is not quite three miles, and there is a rather spectacular hill right near the beginning, but for the most part it's fairly flat and there are sidewalks. The downside to this is that I'm usually not interested in taking the dogs for a long walk when I get home. 

On other days, I've been taking long walks through my neighborhood with the dogs. They enjoy it. While sidewalks are rather randomly distributed in my section of the 'hood, east of M street all the streets have sidewalks so it's a much more pleasant walk. I've mapped out paths of various distances, and I'm glad to find out that I can do a five mile walk while staying fairly close to home. Today I did 3.5 miles and I have to admit that I was starting to feel pretty tired near the end. The dogs went straight to the water dish and then collapsed on the living room floor and immediately fell asleep. :)

*Oh yes, I could walk to the train station in the morning, and I did do that once. It's definitely easier since it is all downhill and I definitely felt more alert and awake. But this would mean that I have to leave the house an hour earlier than I normally do and I have a hard enough time waking up as it is. The only reason I'd be able to do it is if I had no other option. Like Oscar being out of town with the car.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

in which I am inspired to poetry

For you, dear readers, a haiku

Little yappy dogs
Live next door and bark all night
I hope they die soon

in which I see my future

Your result for Reincarnation Placement Exam...

Reclusive Artist

We think we've found a place for you.


Your answers indicate that you're very fond of the fruits of civilization... for example, education and technology. But, in some twist of irony, you're not too fond of the pressures of civilization... you know, human beings and crowds and working together. We found you a place where you could enjoy an erudite existence, live a life that's intriguing and not entirely secure -- but far from the madding crowd.


Removed from civilization and humanity, yet educated and sophisticated, you'll make the perfect reclusive artist... An eccentric that produces irresistibly attractive masterpieces. Your art will make people swoon, and yet you will despise your audience. Your audience will probably dislike you as well, though they will go on admiring your work. So it all balances out, and your patrons will leave you alone to shape beauty in the wild, dangerous parts of the world where people won't pester you so much. Probably, you will write under a pseudonym, and mutter a lot when a rare admirer comes calling. If you feel really adventurous, you can pursue the role of a political dissident.


As you age, you will grow into the role of an incorrigible curmudgeon.


You artists, you're all the same.

Take Reincarnation Placement Exam at HelloQuizzy

Sunday, September 07, 2008

in which I am saved a lot of wasted effort

You know how you look at clothes in a catalog, and they seem so lovely and flattering, so you buy the item, and then when you try it on, it just doesn't look all that good on you? Now, I've long since grown out of the hope that a particular shirt will make my size 18 frame and DD bust look waifishly thin, and have recently learned that baggy clothes on a fat frame not only do not make you look thinner, but in fact make you look fatter. (In fact, baggy shirts have a tendency to drape ONLY the bits that I want to hide, perversely emphasizing said attributes.)  And so, after nearly 20 plus years of wearing baggy clothes, I am finally taking baby steps toward more fitted clothing. (Hey, give me a break. I came of age in the 80s, when oversize was mandatory. No shoulder pads for me though. Ever.)
'tis not so different with knitting. Now that I feel confident enough to knit a sweater for myself, and have read enough knitting books and am armed with plenty of skills to customize a sweater to fit ME, I feel ready to tackle such a project.   Yes, I've been measured accurately. The numbers don't frighten me.   
A few years ago, I fell in love with the Nantucket Sweater.
Is it truly not gorgeous? All that wonderful texture, the panel shaping, the sheer interestingness of knitting it. I bought the yarn, and even cast on for it (flush with confidence because I'd recently completed a sweater for Gusano Medidor), but completely screwed it up about half way up the back piece, and so I frogged it in tearful fury and stuffed all the yarn back into the bag, where it has sat for the last year and a half.  
Like the pain of childbirth, the pain of Mis-Knits eventually fades to the point that you are willing to try again. Mothers-to-be have Parents Magazine and Dr Spock and knitters (and crocheters) have Ravelry. What is Ravelry? It's kind of like the best of the internet-based knitting/crochet community in one spot. (If you knit or crochet, and aren't yet on Ravelry, get thee now to the site and sign up. It's free. You'll thank me for it.) One of the many, many, MANY things I like about Ravelry is that you can search for a pattern, like the Nantucket Sweater, and see who else is also working on it, and learn from their experiences.   And what I've learned is that the Nantucket Sweater looks like absolute crap on any woman who is, shall we say, buxom. Really slim, really fat, or somewhere in between, the sweater doesn't look good on the well-endowed ladies. Why? Because there isn't any 3-D shaping in front for the bust. I know the theory for shaping for a bust, but I can't figure out how to do it in this sweater with all its intricate texture without destroying the intricate texture, which is what makes this sweater so beautiful in the first place.
So, no Nantucket Sweater for me. I've already put in several 10s of hours for a sweater that doesn't look very good on me. No need to repeat the experience.    

in which I show off my neighborhood

Here's a collection of photos I took today during the walk, just in case you are interested in seeing what my neighborhood looks like. (What you don't see is the comedy of me actually trying to take ANY photos while walking two dogs and constantly pulling up my yoga pants which kept falling down.)

In no particular order are some snaps of South End Tacoma:

A variation on the American Folk Custom of a pair of  shoes tossed over powerlines: headphones tossed over powerlines
A scarecrow! This woman has a fabulous garden and also keeps geese.
The VW bug graveyard. Right across the street from Geese Lady. A connection?
S 47th St. Not the most interesting place. At least their are sidewalks. That thing in the foreground is a portable basketball hoop. Notice the lack of people outside? I walk through my neighborhood almost every day and rarely see anyone. It's like a ghost town. 
Not the greatest picture, but this tree is loaded with apples. There were a lot on the ground, too, and the air smelt like applesauce. 

Just an old detached garage, charming in its dilapidated state.
Our neighborhood actually has alleyways! This one is actually useable, unlike the one behind our house.
I like this house. I love the big porch. 
Curbside garden. Very nice. The neighborhood has varying levels of infrastructure. All the streets are paved but curbs, gutters, and sidewalks are kind of randomly distributed. I guess this is more accurately called a "drainage ditch-side garden". Still nice. 
One happy dog, enjoying a good roll in the early autumn sunshine.
Sing along with me. "Our house. In the middle of our street."  Our house is the one on the far left. We do have sidewalk, curb, AND gutter!  (No, that brown car doesn't belong to us. That's our neighbor's, whose house doesn't appear in the photo.)
One block away. Sidewalk, no curb, no gutter. 
Two blocks away. Freshly resurfaced roadway. No sidewalk, curb, or gutter. 
This guy turned his backyard into an RV storage barn. 

I like how the city put in wheelchair access to a patch of grass and a steep staircase.