Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tall Boy Preens

Tall Boy in his new winter coat.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Homecoming Day, D!

Was it really 2004? It was. January 29, 2004, I went to our local humane society and decided to adopt a long-haired, brown tabby. The card on her cage said she was very friendly. (Well, sort of). The card on her cage said she was very affectionate. (Weeeellll, when she wants to be affectionate, she can be, but those moments are less common than I thought they'd be.) The card on her cage said she was a Maine Coon mix. (Well, maybe.) My friend D and her daughter R stopped by while I was there to see which cat I had chosen, and I gave R the choice of two names (both characters in Jane Austen novels). So she named my cat by selecting the one she liked better. Given the ultimate personality that emerged, I'm not sure R chose the name that suits the personality.

On January 30, I went to pick up her after her spay surgery. Upon shaving her belly, the humane society had found the scar from her previous spay surgery, so someone, somewhere, had already taken care of that. All they knew of her was that she'd been found as a stray. From the way she likes to climb my pine tree, I suspect she somehow got outside and/or got lost.

It took her six weeks to get used to the dogs. By week four, I was despairing she would ever tolerate them. She hid behind the baby gate that whole first month. Then, as I watched, she took a look at my dear, darling Georgie, who was completely unfazed by the dogs and walking past them. I could almost see her little brain thinking "Well, if they don't bother that cat, they won't bother me, and I'm sick of this bedroom." Out she came. And she's never looked backed.

She's a typical tabby girl--a bit of a pistol, a little on the grumpy side (but not nearly as grumpy as the wonderful Camille was), too aware that she is far superior to every other life form in this house. I don't think she knows she's a cat. Like the Samoyeds, she doesn't like too sleep with those heat-generating humans, but a couple of times a month she will come and sleep on my head for an hour or two. She's still quite spry at age 10-ish. She has learned to come when called. She would really like to be an only pet, and if not that, than at least an only cat. She is curious, afraid of the vacuum, and chirps like a Maine Coon. She hates being combed or having her nails trimmed. She gets the crazies on a regular basis. She's my stripey girl.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Let's Go Hiking in The Nature

My AVA walking club held their annual January hike in the mountains to the west of the city yesterday (literally west of the city; it takes 20 minutes from my door to be in these mountains). DoodleBug has been doing some training 5K walks to get ready to start hiking, including practice wearing Mr. Big's backpack. So yesterday was the day to start him on his hiking career. He loved it!

T decided to bring her dog, Bertram, even though the most Bertram walks is about 3/4 of a mile on pavement (I'll be he's sore today). She mentioned the hike to her coworkers C and M, and they decided to tag along with their GoldenDoddle, Sidney. Let's just say that Tall Boy is now in love with this tall golden girl.

It warmed up pretty quickly, so I wound up carrying the backpack down (yes, insert jokes about how well-trained I am). Golden Boy was straining to always be in front; in fact, he wasn't happy unless he was in front. But we both walked the fastest of the group, so really, we both were happy when were leading.

I first joined the AVA chapter about 20 years ago, thanks to my friend Regina. Ten years ago, I started doing them with the Fluffy Dogs. They were usually the only dogs on the trail, with their red and green matching Wolf Pack backpacks (super durable backpacks--I absolutely love them and they are well worth the investment). I'd walk up to the sign-in table and people would start hollering "Hey, here come the fluffy dogs!" They were quite well known. It saddened me greatly when arthritis and older age meant they could no longer do their 5K and 10K hikes. Resuming these was one of the reasons I wanted a dog this young, but who could train a lot faster than the new pup will to walk these kinds of distances. But yesterday, we passed about 15-20 dogs, all hiking with their walking club member owners. All these well-behaved dogs out enjoying a beautiful desert day with their owners--it was wonderful to see.

Anyway, below is a a photo gallery of part of our hike in The Nature, as my friend The Gingerbread Lady calls it. Gorgeous weather in the low 60s, piercing blue sky. Tall Boy was disappointed we had to turn around at 5K, but he and I had our Click-a-Trick class that afternoon, I was Eucharistic minister at mass that night, and then straight from church to a surprise birthday party, so we couldn't dawdle. Next time, I promise, we dawdle.

And we're off! The leggy Sidney and Bertram.

All right, humans, get a move on! Golden coming through! (His backpack was admired by several passersby).

Sidney decides not to cooperate.
Shade is a premium in the desert, even in the winter.

The Fluffy Dogs and me on the exact same hike, Jan, 26, 2002--K's first birthday and six weeks after M was adopted.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I Cook

Throw one really old piece of meat, one can of tomatoes, an onion, various herbs and spices into the crockpot and voila. Six hours later, tough old meat that is falling apart and succulent. The meat really is in there, under all that tomato.

Then, saute root vegetables, throw into a pie crust, bake, and voila. Root vegetable pie, guaranteed to indulge your wintery desire to hibernate somewhere dark and cosy and quiet. Like a mole.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Not a Nice P-Word

Okay, Universe, who decided that women of a certain age, specifically, middle, on the down side of the 5th decade, should still get blemishes??? Yes, zits! At my age! Preposterous! And not just the occasional, perimenopausal-induced blemish, but two. Two! On opposite sides of my face, so I can't even sit with just one side of my face towards my companion. Who, I ask, who?

Pimple.  Bbbaaadddd p-word.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dare I Call Them Resolutions? Reflections on the P-Words

Or should I just tell myself they are changes I want to make? Somehow my life has gotten off track and isn't quite where I thought it would be now. Yes, I know, you can change any time you want, not just because an arbitrary calendar date rolls over to the next in the sequence, determined by a long-dead pope hundreds of years ago. But tearing the page off, unwrapping that new calendar, all its empty dates waiting to be filled in, so full of promise, everyone full of plans and resolutions--makes me feel like palpable change is in the air. It's a new year--anything is possible.

My sister wrote about focus as her theme for the year on her blog. That would be a good one for me, since goodness knows, I ended last year feeling completely worn out. I, the captain of my own destiny, queen of my castle, who has always been in charge of her own life, made her own decisions, been responsible for everything, had control wrested from me. Things happened I couldn't control, couldn't change, couldn't bend to my will.

And I didn't like it.

2011 left me feeling lost and frazzled and uncentered. So I will recenter myself in 2012. My resolutions center on the letter 'P.'  Patience. Planning. Proactive. Productive. Be positive. Then I looked at my 2010 resolutions, hanging inside the medicine cabinet door, and guess what I read? "Be positive." Gave me pause, that. Have I been wallowing in negativity that long? Then I remembered it was fall 2009 when I lost my beloved George, and I had some trying projects at work. The same problems (darn, another p-word) beset me in 2011 (yes, a certain federal agency, I am pointing my finger--yes, a p-word!--at you!) with re: to a terrible project at the end of the year that sapped all my love for my job, and the death of my beloved Pupgirl and the illness of Sweet Little Miss. Too much bad, not enough good.

I'm sliding "waste not" in there, too, because that's always a good goal. And re-center.  R is near P and therefore can be considered part of the goal.

But, 2012--Positive. Productive. Possibilities. Yup, p-words are good.

The boys have their own human-imposed resolution: behave.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sticky, Gloppy Mess = Yummy Dog Treats

Homemade 3-cheese biscuits. Notice the uneven, messy ones on the left that the sticky, gloppy dough made. The nicer ones on the right were formed with a little extra flour on the outside. The boys say "We don't care how they look; they taste great."

Friday, January 6, 2012

Knit Your Bit World War II Museum Scarves

As promised, the scarves made during my Christmas vacation for the Knit Your Bit campaign spearheaded by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Since I can't make a scarf for my beloved Dad, a WWII vet, I'll make one for some old gent who doesn't have a daughter or granddaughter to make him a scarf.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy 2012

I know, it's a little late for new year wishes, however sincere, but I took no photos at the 2011 New Year's Pajama Party (my annual hostess with the mostest shindig) to share with you, Gentle Reader, and, frankly, I was just lazy. Because I was on vacation for 2 whole stinkin' weeks and I didn't do anything! Ha ha ha ha ha! And it was glorious.

Well, not completely true. I did clean, a little. I knit and crocheted, a lot. (Scarves for the WWII vets; a photo will come to show you the 7 or 8 scarves I made using up my yarn stash--almost an entire small crate of yarn. I'm entering the new year feeling so virtuous.) I read, a lot. I ate, a lot. I cooked (but you saw some of those photos in a late-year post, so I won't bore you). I shuffled around in my bathrobe, a lot. I played with the dogs and the cats, a lot, especially the sick Little Miss.

My New Year's Bash? You didn't know I throw a Pajama Party for the new year, every year? I do, I have for years. None of my friends are late night partiers, or were even in their thirties (I sure wasn't), so now in the latter part of our fourth decades, we're even less inclined to put on pantyhose (Shudder!), high heels (Shudder again!), and a girdle, er, spanxy-type thing (Beyond shuddering to absolute, dig-your-heels-in refusal) and stand around with a bunch of kids young enough to be our kids, who are getting drunk and throwing up on those uncomfortable high heels. My solution--throw a pajama party. Attendees wear their jammies or sweat pants, we eat lots of food, drinks are involved, but so is knitting or crocheting, movies, chocolate, and gossip. Some years we make it to midnight, some years we don't.

This year I decided that if we were wearing pajamas, we should eat breakfast, so I served raisin challah french toast, tofu bacon, fruit salad (courtesy of T), and mimosas. Tea and cookies were served halfway through this year's movie selection, Eat, Pray, Love (2010). M brought her usual hoppin' john to satisfy her half-Texan side, and straight-from-Vermont maple syrup. T brought the Young Turk, a.k.a. her 13-month-old puppy, who was a bit of a terror (dogs do go through the canine equivalent of the teenage years). The food was yummy! Raisin challah french toast is such a comfort food to me, I could eat it every day if it didn't like to reside in my midsection and not budge an inch.

My movie review, prefaced by my admission that I have not read the book on which it was based: meh. Scenery--gorgeous. I love that they even mentioned the mosquitoes in India. Everyone was physically gorgeous. I never met gorgeous people when I spent all those years traveling abroad, but I guess my mistake was not going to Italy because they are clearly out there for others to meet. I adored the Indonesian man who played Ketut.

I get the divorce-is-painful-I-feel-lost-I-need-to-find-myself theme, but I don't know a single person who could take off an entire year to just travel the world to find themselves (yes, I know firsthand how cheap it is to live in Third World countries), nor do I know people who could raise $18,000 in response to an email from me (but that's a reflection on my reality, and I'm sure there are lots of highly-paid people who could).

It just seemed to me Liz wallowed in self pity far too long. Why didn't Delia smack her upside the head and say "You have so many gifts and blessings. You want spirituality, here's the address to a soup kitchen downtown that never has enough volunteers." I never 'got' her marriage, which may be good; maybe that's what the director wanted me to feel, that it wasn't right. Or was that just a lack of chemistry between the actors? But if it wasn't right to begin with, why such devastation when it disintegrated? I never understood why she thought she'd find herself out there rather than in here.

The book may be better at detailing how she discovered herself within herself, how she came to be at peace with, to accept, to love herself. It seemed to me that transformation only happened in the movie after a hunky man fell in love with her (which would seem to this spinster biddy to be symptomatic of her problems to begin with, that she values herself only in relation to a man and not as her own individual, and therefore the whole cycle may start again in this relationship). She didn't realize how fortunate she was by living amidst poverty in India or Indonesia; she lived in an ashram and in a gorgeous cabana that had to have been part of a resort in real life. She didn't begin to understand her importance to life by making a difference, even in one life; she went to Italy and ate lots of pasta (although the acceptance of your body as it is and not as advertisers using 12-year-old, airbrushed models tell you it should be was a good message that too many women never hear).

Sometimes I want to run away to a place where no one knows me, change my name, be someone totally different. I think we all have bad days where we fantasize about that. I haul myself out of that abyss by eventually remembering how fortunate I am in so many ways, and I would hope that if I couldn't find that within myself, my sisters would smack me upside the head and help me get recentered. Was the movie inspiring? Nope. But it was very pretty to look at.