Monday, December 31, 2007

Mushroom Hunting... with help

It's definitely mushroom season. The ground is permanantly soggy, even if it doesn't rain for weeks. The sun bareley peeks over the steep hill that makes the southern horizen at my house. Tucked in the deep fold of the ridges, there won't be enough sun to dry this place out for months.

Which is fine by me, because each season has it's beauty. Nevermind my chattering teeth and hunched shoulders. My numb fingers. My use of the oven as a second heater. Look at these flowering fungi that bloomed recently. Purty! Now, I've heard that there are some edible ones, expensive delicacies even, native to this area, but I'm allergic, so don't worry, I won't be sampling my finds. Not that I could tell which was which anyway.

It was four thirty and starting to get dark, so you can't make out these ones too well, but it was a veritable bouqet of black mushrooms. Ok, it was a pile. A rotting pile of mushrooms. But it was a BIG pile, so it earned a photo.

Maggie and Sebastian thought it called for some investigating as well. Maggie tested it's structural integrity while her sister gave it proboscal interogation. I may have made that word up. Or maybe not. One can't be expected to have a full mental catalog of every english word. Nor can one be expected not to improvise. Perhaps one should not refer to one's self as one. Nor use nor. Ok then, "Sebastian got her sniff on." By the look on her face my boouqet description was wrong on so many levels. Mmmmmm, rotting fungi.

By this time Pheonix's paws were cold, and my sprawling on the ground for photo ops provided the footwarming invitation he needed. Not that I REMEMBER saying, "Here Pheonix, hop on, I'll give you a piggy back ride home". He was impressively stubborn about my attempts to dislodge him. You can just make out his sillouhette as I angled and contorted my camera arm to capture photographic representation of the hierarchy in my home. Yes, I may have even felt honored that he leaped up on my back. Or maybe it was just a warm glow of love, yeah, that's it. I just realized that while I'm photo hunting, my kitties are lap hunting. Well, I'd say we all got what we wanted on that hike. Except perhaps the whiff of 'shroom scent for Sebastian.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

This is a pretty famous poem. It was read at my dad's wedding and it's about marrying for love, which I guess wasn't as common back in the 1800's when it was written.

I can never remember if the lake is pea green, or the boat is, or there's fog that's thick as pea soup (though I happen to have the poem right here and it's the boat).

And I happen to know what the Owl and Pussy-Cat's kids would have looked like.

Seems like the Owl had mostly recessive genes, but I'd say she has her Daddy's eyes. Who knew, and here I was thinking all along that Sebastian was just the product of some alley cats. Does this mean I have to call her feather face instead of fur face?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

364 to go...

Merry Christmmukkah and Happy New Solstice! There's some beautiful red berries I was trying to take a picture of 'cause they seemed to embody the winter season but I couldn't get close enough. I even tried busting out the ladder but then I chickened out instead. Maybe if it was a stand alone ladder and not the kind that has to lean against something... I just couldn't cling to a ladder, leeeean out towards the branch, AND obscure my sight with a camera. But there's some nice red berries on that branch, okay?

So Lilly was looking gorgeous as usual and I thought I'd make her my subject. No ladder required. See how cooperative she is?

Aaaaw, Lilly, when I said pose I meant, "Pose for a picture that accurately portays your beauty to my peeps". Oh gawd now she's licking her lips!!!!

Eeeeeek, think about the nice red berries, pretty nice red holiday dingleberries. AAAAAAACK!!!!!

Thanks Lilly. You have now ruined this picture for me. Good thing I love you, little terd brain- and there I go with the references again. But doesn't it look kind of like deer, ahem, "leavings"? Besides the color, obviously. Unless Rudolph was here! Look, kids! There's hard proof of Santa! Wheeeew okay, who spiked my eggnog? Anyway, fluffy holiday bunny feelings to everybody!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Girls

Maggie and Sebastian have been spayed. I bit the bullet and spent $480 dollars to spare their ears. They also got their shots. The vet was moved by the fact that I rescued their feral behinds, though, and gave them pain meds for free. Pain meds are optional(!), and fifteen dollars a cat. I'm glad I spent the extra $430. I think any parent, low income or not, would decline a 90% discount on a medical procedure for their kid if it meant disfiguring them. Okay, I know, cats aren't humans, and I'm pushing it a little with the comparison.

Maggie and Sebastian had three sisters, adopted by Pam, a woman I work with, and she took her kittens to the feral treatment place for 25 bucks each. Now, I totally don't blame her or judge her- I think she's awesome for taking in three cats. The day after she brought them home from their shots and spaying, I asked her how they looked. If it wasn't too bad, I was going to take mine there as well. Maybe the adult aunt or uncle behind the office that looked so awful was just a one time botch job. But Pam nearly started crying, and she couldn't talk for a minute. "They look really bad," she said.

That cinched it. Who needs electricity anyway? Or running water? Or netflix (cry)? At least the girls are now free to enjoy the world without getting sick or preggers. Not that I would mind more kittens... No! Bad Hermitgirl!!!! My happy family is good with five furballs. And ten purty pointy ears.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Woodpile Kitties -end

I've been writing the Woodpile Kitty Chronicles because Thanksgiving was the last time I saw Clarence. He's always had wanderlust, and was often gone for a night or two. He has a huge territory, and I think it takes him that long to make his rounds, you know, freshen up his markings, make sure no one's putting claims down anywhere. I thought when he was nuetered he would become more of a homebody, and get hurt less in fights, but it only curbed the latter. Which is fine, some peeps are just meant to wander. Sometimes our loved ones move far away, like to Germany. Ahem. So if Clarence has itchy feet, as long as he checks in every day or two and stays healthy, I'm happy.

But 14 days passed.

Almost every night I dreamed of him coming home. And getting yelled at while being cuddled. Lately Pheonix has been being really mean to Clarence, who in turn has been growling at the kittens. I made all 5 kitties stay in on Thanksgiving, 'cause I got them each a can of special food, and Clarence enjoyed the food, but then immediately demanded to be let out, so I did. Im all about the "if you love it set it free"; I only make my kitties stay inside if they're sporting coneheads.

I know sometimes cats find new families. Maybe five is too many for one household, ya know? Mostly, though, I just couldn't ponder it. I was desperately groping for that pleasant state of apathy that had worked before. Instead, I found myself crying at really stupid meaningless little things, since I couldn't let it out for Clarence. That would mean actually dealing. Like, I saw this really dorky kid walking down the road, the kind that probably gets beat up every day, the kind I'd be hanging out with in highschool. He was practically skipping, with this big grin on his face, carrying a shiny gold box with huge gold ribbons tied in a bow and trailing from it. And for some reason, that made my eyes tear up.

Then yesterday, it started to really rain. The power went out twice. And in the brief interlude of light while scrambling for lanterns, my honey went out to the porch for more candles, and there was a soaking wet, mewling Clarence. CAN YOU FRICKEN BELIEVE IT?!?!? Two weeks of insomnia, leaky eye faucets, a panic attack or two... 14 fricken days and Clarence comes home, looking stronger and healthier than ever. LITTLE BOOGER HEAD! How insanely lucky am I? I started this story several chapters ago as a eulogy, and instead I got a happy movie ending. Lucky, blessed, thankful, and my scolding quota filled, I am one happy Mom. My life is right again, kitty paws hitting the keyboard and all.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Woodpile Kitties part 3

When we moved to our cabin in the woods where we live now, our cats were excited to learn that they got to be outdoor kitties. It was so fun, exploring what was for them a whole entire new world. There was always another tree to climb, leaf to punce on, log to sharpen claws on. The first time I took them up the hill, they all followed me like I'd trained them. Except Lilly.

She got scared, and holed up under a bush and wouldn't come out. I had to grab her- she and her brother like laps and pettings but hate being picked up- and run down the whole hill with her. I went so fast that none of the kitties knew where I went, and after I deposited Lilly at the house, I had to run back up the hill to find them. At first I could only see Pheonix and Clarence. I thought, great, our first fieldtrip into unknown territory, and I LOSE A KITTEN. ( I'm good at that, have you noticed?)

I panicked. I searched and called and got those two back down the hill and home, and by now I was shaking and out of breath from having climbed and descended the mountain twice, in such a hurry. The panicking didn't help either, but then Roger walked up to me, and I realized he was such a good boy that he had followed me when I ran down the first time, with Lilly.

After that we all stuck together, and we were one big happy family. Clarence and Roger loved being held, and Roger would literally climb onto my shoulder, purring and wiping on me, and then tuck his head to roll into my lap, looking up at me. Then he couldn't stand it and would have to get up and wipe his cheek on mine again, climb onto my shoulder, and summersault into my lap again. At night they would sleep on me, and often I woke to the incredibly ticklish licking of my toes. They had a toe fetish, them kittens.

This is not to say I loved them more than Pheonix and Lilly, they were just more physically affectionate and demanding. Still, I made sure to give every kitty equal amounts of love and attention. When I came back from work, every cat/ kitten would come greet me, and my heart was tight and bursting at the seams with more love than I ever knew it could hold.

And then one day when I got home the head count was one short. I asked Honey when he last saw Roger, because I never missed a day without seeing and petting each of my darlings. Honey said, "I saw him yesterday". They were all pretty good about coming when I called, so I walked around the yard calling for Roger, and the others followed in curiosity. The day passed. He didn't come home. The next day was a weekend, and first thing in the morning I was scouring the hills. I never saw Roger again.

I tortured myself with the possibilities. Did he get accidentally locked in some shed, starving to death? Did he get hit by a car? Eaten by a coyote? Was he lost, scared and alone? It hit me hard. That's when I quit reading the paper. I quit emailing "save the seals" or whatever the petition of the day was. I stopped being a vegetarian after six years of it, yeah, because I lost my cat. I lost hope in trying to make a difference in the things I believed in, because it didn't seem to matter. Life was going to dish out bad things no matter what I did, and I withdrew. I threw myself into the pursuit of ingnorance, because it was the simplest kind of bliss. It's easier to not get upset about the people dying in wars, the animals tortured in labs, if you just keep all that information away from you. It was a cop-out, but I didn't know how else to deal.

I guess loss can bring a heavy apathy. I didn't snap out of it, it was more of a slow drawing back to reality. It changed me forever though, losing that orange orphan. My little redheaded stepchild. I tell myself that he found a family somewhere, and is healthy and happy, all grown up and handsome like his brother. In fact, he BETTER be (shaking my fist at the universe). As I type this Lilly is curled against my belly, and I'm thankful for her comfort. Hard to believe the power of these small furry creatures.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Woodpile Kitties part 2

This is the picture I took the night Clarence's new family came to take him away. I took it to remember him by, at which point I realized I loved him.

The four tiny feral kittens had slowly learned to tolerate my presence as they ate, as long as I didn't move, and Mamma loved her pettings- still growling the whole time. I knew I couldn't take in the whole family, and was mentally preparing to find homes or them. Haha.

One day only a week or two later I came home from work and called to let the woodpile family know it was dinner time. Two little orange balls tore up to me, looked up, and said, "holy crap I forgot you're a big scary human", promptly hit reverse, and fell off the porch. I laughed, got their food, and took it out. Again only the two orange kittens appeared. I never saw the rest of their family again.

I put my befriending skills into overdrive, and that night reached down to pet them while they were eating. They didn't see me move, and by the time my hand was carressing them, it was too late for fear. They loved it, purring louder than seemed possible as they ate. Then they finished, and ran under the porch.

I spent the next few days petting them and dragging string for them, and before I knew it one was named Roger. My Honey said they were redheaded step children, and that the only name to be had for the other was Clarence. It was November, and the nights were cold, and being only first genertion feral, I soon had them living inside. It seemed to change them, and next thing I knew they were sleepily purring in my lap.

I didn't want to become a cat hoarder, so when a coworker said she'd take one, I tried hard to convince myself it was the right, albeit hard, thing to do. She came over with her 7 year old daughter to pick one, and Roger and Clarence, whom I thought I had transformed from feral to family cats, went wild with terror. My coworker said she would find a carrier and come back with it, and when she and her daughter left, the little orange orphans came back out to play and cuddle and play some more.

I looked at them, and knew I had to call my coworker and call it off. I felt so guilty, so selfish, and so evil, crushing a little girls hopes for a kitten. But it was all I could do not to cry at the thought of parting with the little heart stealers. I made the call, and it was hard. I was embarassed and ashamed as I told her I couldn't do it, and I apologized over and over. In fact, she still holds it over my head because she had to go to the pound the very next day to fullfill the kitten promise for her daughter.

You might think I would have learned my lesson, but Maggie and Sebastian will clear that right up. At least this time I didn't let any hopeful parents-to-be down. And I am so, so glad I kept Roger and Clarence- they were definitly a gift from the universe. Wish granted.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Woodpile Kitties

Okay, I kept thinking, "A Tale of Two Kitties" for the title, but it was just too darn cheesy. We always called them the woodpile kitties, anyway, because that's where they were born. My honey and I lived in a cozy cottage in the suburbs- as suburban as you can get in rural towns. There were a few streetlights, but no sidewalks. My sister, visiting from the city, once remarked in suprise as we took an evening stroll, "It's so dark here!". Lawns were few, and while the place we rented had one, it also had a forgotten woodpile, half overgrown with blackberry canes.
One day as I puttered in the back yard I saw a skinny cat I'd never seen before. Light gray,with cream splotches. Pheonix and Lilly were indoor cats at the time, as the street we lived on was usually driven on at least 10 miles over the limit. This new cat had a collar, but was scrawny, scared, and a little depserate. She eyed me, but wouldn't come too close when I made my "I love cats lets be friends" sounds. I went for a popular tactic and went inside for some food. I put it out for her, and then went back in, closing the screen door and watching from there as she snorked down the whole plate in 2.3 seconds. Can you believe what happened next?
She stuck around. I know, who'da thunk it? Only, the next time I sat outside, and when she was done eating, she approached me, growling. Growling! I was honestly scared, thinking she would attack me, but she jumped into my lap and rubbed her head against me, so I tenatively pet her. She loooved it, and I petted her more and more, and yet she kept growling. It was a bit unnerving, to say the least. That's when I noticed her collar was pretty much choking her- she must have run away or been abondoned as a teen, and grown too big for it. I carefully stood, being as polite as I could about booting her from my lap, and got some skissors. She let me cut off the collar, growled her thanks, and ran off to the berry bushes.

The next day, when I saw she was still around, I put out some food. I went back about my buisiness, and when I glanced out at the food dish, I saw four tiny kittens. Can you say, heart skipping a beat and caught in your throat? So many times over the years I've met people who just found a kiten, and secretly, it was always my wish it would happen to me. I mean, that's like winning the lottery! Not to mention, and as much as I fully wholeheartedly vouch for and believe in inner beauty, I had always, always wanted an orang cat. There were two orange kittens, a black one, and a gray one. I absolutely would have taken them all anyway, heck, I'd take the ugliest kitten you ever saw and love it like my own child.
Digression alert. I helped feed almost twenty foster kittens once, and there was one with matted, mangy hair, one eye, and leaking fluids. It could barely wobble around it's littermates and friends, and it was the second to smallest one. All the others scampered around, using it as their toy, its own healthy sibs twice it's size. There was every color, there were feisty kittens, cudly kittens, all playful and all friendly kittens. But when I was asked which I would pick, I of course picked the mangy, oozy, one eyed kitten. It was indeed ugly, but it needed love and as far as cats go, I have an unending supply of that. I couldn't actually take it, not having my own place, but I wanted to, so badly.
Okay, I wasn't trying to sound all martyr-ee and tootin my own horn. Just hoping to illustrate my borderline psychotic love of all things feline. And boy oh boy let me tell you, the love was in overdrive when I saw those tiny kittens on my back porch.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Slacker! ...wait, not.

A beautiful tossing of autumnal forest finery- or is it? Is it instead a predator stalking her prey, peeking around a tree trunk? As I pranced around ooohing and ahhing at the colors like a Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds laden hippy, little did I know it was the latter.

What's this, a mushroom? I can't just stoop down and take a picture, no, I gotta git down on the damp and scented earth for a close up. Like a naive fawn joyously snifing out tender shoots of dinner, oblivious to my suroundings. Actually, maybe more like a wild boar, singlemindedly pawing at a truffle. Yeah, I think boar is more like it than fawn. Hey, it's been between 20 and 40 degrees lately, I need my winter layer. Never mind that I sported the same layer of cozy fat through the hundred degree days of summer. Ahem, I digress. And then I was caught.

I seem to have passed boar and landed right in couch territory. There I was, innocently groovin' on nature, when I became Lilly's new perch. But that's not all. You can see that there's no way I could take this picture. Not only was I oblivious to approaching lap seekers, I forgot that I'm not the only human on the planet. And my honey wasn't alone. His friend dropped him off at home, and was then treated to confirmation that yes, my honey does indeed date the crazy cat lady. Can you tell if my face is redder than the maple leaves?

As far as being a slacker is concerned, in my defense I have been working 9 and ten hour days (for 7 and half hours pay, bless the guv'mints teeny tiny cold little pebble of a heart). I can't wait to move to AZ, and write my heart out- and maybe find a job that I don't hate, and that pays by the hour. Silly dreamer. No, I haven't been sampling wild mushrooms. Course, that may not be what the neighbors thiink. Or does everyone play in the autumn leaves? Well, they should. :) I can't promise my regular presence through these hectic holiday hours, but in the words of Arnie, "I'll be back".

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Funnest Game Ever

Lilly sees something. Something... interesting. Something she has to get. Ooooooh this is going to be fun. What is it Lilly? Hey! It's Maggie!

In a tree. Lately I've taken to calling her Lillymonster- she has been terrorizing the kittens. It seems they make good practice. Or maybe it's a big sister thing. I wouldn't know. I never stalked my sister, hiding patiently, waiting for her to enter the room or round the corner to jump out at. And scare the crap out of. No, I never ever did anything like that to my little sibs. Just so we're clear on that.

Oh boy. Kitten in a tree, this is worth waiting for, woohoo fun stuff! When she comes down, Lilly is sooo gonna get her! Maybe chase her accross the porch, in the cat window,and under the bed. Then nonchalantly stroll to the food bowl, sit there eating, like she's not keeping one ear pointed at the bed. If she would just get out of the tree!! Lilly is getting bored now.

Wait, is it bath time now? Yeah that's more interesting. That sap between the toes is the worst! ( Pssst! Little Maggie May! Now's your chance, run for it!!) And, now completely engrossed in primping, Lilly misses her target. Maggie makes her getaway.

Free! And all is well in the world of felines, until the next time Pheonix feels like playing- then it's Lilly in the hot seat. I think Maggie likes that part.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Best Toy Ever

Pheonix and I went hiking yesterday, just the two of us. He stepped in a huge glob of sap and so the whole walk he was flinging his hind leg and tweaking his toes, trying to dislodge the debris that kept clinging.It was pretty hilarious. I tried to clean it off for him, but just ended up with stickyness all over myself, too. The other cats started out with us, but about ten feet up the trail discovered this:

Oh no it isn't. Is it? Yes, that's a squirrel tail. Turns out, acorns aren't the best toy ever. THIS is. They were still tossing it around when P and I got back. Eeeeeew. Later that night, when my honey got home, he said, "do you know what's on the porch?" I answered, "a squirrel tail?" and yup, turns out they'd brought it home. Which he found out by, it being dusk and all, picking it up. Then he patted my cheek and said, "with this hand". Lucky for me he was kiddding about the hand, unlucky for him he really did pick up a disembodied squirrel tail. Did I already say eeeeeeew? (Mom, you want me to mail it to you? Kidding! Well, I would, but something tore it to shreds last night.) Moving on!

Totally out of the blue, like this subject change, at work Del says, "Let's name our vehicles!"
Jan: Like "peice of s***"?
Ted: They're all named that.
Del: No, like... I'm naming mine Tonto!
We all laugh.
Me: K, mine's Silver then. (you know, like hi ho Silver away)
Jan: Mine's still peice of s***.
Me: Ok, we'll cal it Pos.
Del: Ted's can be Running Nose!
The rest of us:...uh...
Del: I don't know it just came to me.
Me: Like a native american name.
Ted: Yeah, they probably didn't all have cool names like Sitting Bull.
Me: Pooping Bear!

And there you have it. It has been officially written on the vehicle check-out sheet: Pos, Pooping Bear, Silver, and Tonto. it's nice to laugh at work. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Earthquake Country

Or "earthquake weather", they call it. 'They' being anyone who lived here in '89. Oooh, I guess I'm one of them. The Loma Prieta quake was first a 7.2, then downgraded several years later to a 6.9. I was in a car, already sick and soon to be actually delerious with strep throat, and I was 10 years old. At first I thought one of my siblings was bouncing around in the back seat, shaking the car, but when I looked around I saw the streetlights swinging and waving, and all the cars stopped around us, rocking like boats. The woman in the car next to us looked at me with her eyes wide and her mouth a perfect O.

At my mom's house, the chimney collapsed, into the kitchen I think, I was too sick to remember much of the aftermath. Things were flung from shelves. At my dads house cracks tore through the walls and foundation, all the dishes leaped to their deaths from the cupboards, and, most awful to me, the fish tank lurched and the fish met a sad end. There were ten aftershocks over the next few days. Schools were closed, buildings downtown were rubble, and people died. The effects reached for miles and miles. I don't remember how long the power was out.

There was a sudden increase in earthquake awareness and preparedness, albeit a little late, and childproofing was recomended on cupboards and shelves, fishtanks strapped to walls, evacuation plans made, drills practiced regularly in school. And yet, it was always more exciting than frightening to me. Running for a doorway- the next safest place if you can't get outside quick enough. There have been many gentle tremors over the 18 years since then, the anniversay only two weeks ago.

Then we had one, the night before last, that wasn't like the other tremors. It wasn't short, and it wasn't small. 5.6 on the richter scale and almost thirty seconds long, I was cooking some fried squash and mashed potatoes when I felt it. It took a few seconds to be certain, sometimes they're so mellow it could almost be a heavy truck passing by. Then when I realized what it was, I thought, cool, an earthquake. Yeah, probably not the most typical response, but I figured it would pass- they always do. I've been through tens of 'em, even a biggie. But it didn't stop, and then it started shaking more. It got louder. Rumbling, and the first creakings in my house, the floor moving under my feet, and still it didn't stop. And then an image came to my mind, of our roof, and how it just eeeeeever so slightly looks bowed, and that was when I felt, not the quake, it was still growing, and going, steadily bigger. I felt the fear hit me. I could imagine the roof falling in on me.

I've never been scared in an earthquake before now. I dropped the spatula, and ran for the door, debated whether to run from the porch or not. I'm completely surounded by trees, though, and there's nowhere open I could run to, so I stayed in the doorway. And still it kept shaking and rumbling, but I felt like I had done what I was supposed to, and the fear lessened. It seemed to last so long, and though I estimated 30 seconds at the time, I thought I might be just imagining it, you know? The one in '89 was something like 45 seconds long. I had time enough for the fear to ebb as I stood in the doorway, time enough to think, "Dang it, right in the midddle of cookingh dinner". And then it faded away and was gone, like a storm passing to new ground.

I was a wee shaky myself, and I kind of just stood there, feeling like, what now? But nothing had fallen, aside from the spatula, the power was still on, and everything seemed the same. I didn't feel normal, but I think I've already established that I'm somewhat less than normal anyway. I kid, I kid. After a few minutes of standing around, I went back to the sink, washed off the spatula, and stirred the veggies. That earthquake brought back a lot of memories, and feelings that I'd forgotten, but the fear was new. It faded as quick as the earthquake, a fading that felt about as quick as 10 minutes in the waiting room at the dentist before a root canal. I'm not afraid now, of one to come, more afraid of the fear itself. Like the spider. Is this a new thing, or a one time thing? I thought fear lessened with age, like bad dreams and boogeymen (who, by the way, when I was a kid I thought was a monster made out of boogers). Or do we trade the fantastic fears from our protected childhoods for realistic ones as adults?

Now, I'd like to add, I wasn't crippled by it or anything, and honestly, I'm not worried. As a worrier by nature, that's saying a lot. It' just something that's been on my mind since the earthquake. I guess fear is a perfectly natural thing, a saftey mechanism, but it seems like America treats it as an evil that not only can be combatted, but could be wiped from the planet entirely. You know, now that I got all my thoughts down about it, I don't even fear the fear. It's a real part of life, but it didn't hinder me, and I feel confident. Cool. I think I just passed an internal test or something. I'm a strong person, and I can count on myself.

P.S. Belatedly I must say, eeeeeeeeew a booger man.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


It looks like the aliens have landed, and this is their vehicle. You know, the aliens I may have inadvertently caused an intergalactic "incident" with. This landing pod was almost a foot and a half in diameter. It seems to have been abandoned; perhaps there is a hibernation stage between arrival and attack during which the aliens physically prepare for battle on this foreign planet. Obviously I'm kidding. It WAS a fourteen inch mushroom, though, biggest I ever saw. Eight inchers I see several times a damp season, maybe ten, but this thing was so huge it couldn't support it's own weight. Cool.

Clarence is being a pumpkin for halloween. Neither of us had to dress up this year- he's orange, I went to work as a disgruntled employee. HAHAHA. Kidding! One of my coworkers was a pirate, another a clown, and they were great costumes, really elaborate. White glittery false eyelashes and jumbo shoes with multi color daisies, and a realistic 17th century looking captains hat, one of those humpbacked with frills ones. I forgot it even was going to be Halloween until last night. It used to be my favorite holiday, I don't know what happened.
Oh, I love useless facts, so here's one I heard on NPR on the way to work: Halloween is the fourth biggest cash cow event of the year, after Christmas (of course #1) New Year's, and the Superbowl. Wait, is it THE superbowl, or just superbowl? Yeah, not much of a sports fan. Ok, not a sports fan at all, heh heh. What kind of american am I, anyway? I heard the red sox (socks?) were doing good in the world series, but I couldnt tell you who they were playing against or if it was even over yet. GASP! Forget I displayed my ignorance. I have to go make some oatmeal. It's almost dark and you never know, I might get a trick or treater. I heard the look on their faces is priceless when you plop a scoop of oatmeal on their bag of candy.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hermit Ranch

Sebastian likes to pretend she's a wild animal stalking the jungle. Okay, maybe I like to pretend that I'm doing the stalking, of wild animals in their natural settings. Wait, did I say pretend? What am I, twelve? This cub seems unaware of the danger humans represent. The natural curiosity of felines has been quoted as a popular demise for individuals of the species, but here in Hermit Ranch all cats are microchipped and constantly monitored. This may account for the lack of fear displayed, though youth most likely plays a part.

Lilly, the dominant female of the group, surveys her domain. Using scent glands in her paws and cheeks, she leaves her mark high up on trees to confuse rivals and predators about her true size.

Pheonix, the patriarch of the tribe, cleans between his toes while Lilly stands guard duty. Good hygiene is essential for survival, and is seen to whenever a moment arises. Some social grooming can occur, most often between siblings, though Clarence, the social butterfly (not pictured) has been seen grooming all tribe members. However, most standings in the group are taken more seriously, and woe to the cub who pokes a nose where it doesn't belong.

Ah, the sound of kibbles hitting the dinner dish. The wild life of danger and adventure is interrupted when food is poured from a bag. Visit Hermit Ranch next time for candid shots of mischievous cubs, proud hunters, and rolls in the catnip.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

National Day of the Spider

At work, we have a safety monitor. It's not a paid position, just a title that was given by vote to Ted. So far the only thing he's ever done is declare the local bar to be the meeting place in case of emergencies or evacuation. I'd say my vote was well placed. Not every one has a special, unpaid second position, but I also do. I'm the Official Catch and Release Technician. 'Kay I just made that up. I mean, they actually do call me for any spiders, and I catch and release them, unharmed, back into the wild, but I don't really have that title.

At home it's the same deal. Until this one. She watched me brush my teeth this morning, twitching her hangin' hairy mandibles and occasionally moving a leg. I watched her right back. She was the hugest spider I ever saw. She was also the first spider to ever scare me. I've had a black widow dangling from my wrist when I missed with the cup, and I got a little adrenaline rush, but I still scooped her up after the miss. This spider, though, I couldn't even get near with a dollar bill or coin for size refrence, for the photo, so I left her there. Then when I got to work I realized she could go anywhere in my home, now unsupervised.

Supposedly we eat spiders occasionally, when we're sleeping. You ever wake up with particularly bad breathe and something black in your teeth when you know you brushed before bed? Okay, not me, eeew. It's probably just an urban legend. Also supposedly there is a spider every four feet all over the entire earth. All of a sudden I feel itchy.

Well, I only kill bugs in self defense- mosquitoes, ticks, fleas. And even though this was one terrifying critter, I am happy to report that she was safely caught and released. I even feel bad saying she was so scary. Like she'll read this and get her feelings hurt. Anyway, I have to say how amazed I am that CL didn't squish her. Usually it's shoot first ask questions later with him and spiders. I did the release, once she was caught. She thumped when I dumped her out. Far, far away. Probably not far enough, come to think of it. I hope the fear was a one time reaction. I've got a reputation to uphold.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

King Sleep

I went to bed around midnight last night. Kind of early for a weekend. I woke at 7, fed the cats, debated staying up, and decided to just lay in bed. That's the best thing about sleeping in- not even sleeping, just laying in bed, all cozy and warm, for an hour after you've woken up. Pheonix has obviously taking the joy of sleep to new heights.

Yes, the windshield wiper. Better than a thousand dollar mattress. I fell back to sleep until noon, heh heh, but Pheonix makes me look like an early riser. I think he sleeps about 18 hours a day. And he doesn't need heaps of blankets and pillows, lucky terd.

Aaaaaaw, but who could begrudge a face like that a litle sleep? He knows how to tug my heart strings juuuuust right. He's behind my computer right now, his second favorite place to nap. In fact, when I get home and he's there, I say, "Would you like me to turn your heater on darling?" And I turn my computer on for him. It's a really good thing he can't speak english, because I'm wrapped around his pinky toe. Can you imagine? My whole paycheck would go to fresh fish and electric blankets!
I think he's spoiled enough as it is. But, again, who could say no to that face? Excuse me, I have to go pet him now.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Swirly Trees Stop Flow and Kids R Mean (waah)

Oh my gad this picture makes me dizzy and nauseaus. That's why I thought I'd share it. I'm just wondering if it's just me. It makes me even more queasy than the photo of Lilly eating brains out of a broken open squirrel head. GROSS. Perhaps you wonder why I have such a picture? I wonder too. Just be glad I didn't post that one.

A tree affected thousands of people in my area today. It fell across all four lanes of the lifeline highway between the monster city and my county. The delivery truck couldn't get to my office, and we all sat around, unpaid, for 2 hours. At work. Now THAT will make a person nauseaus.

I got that photo trying to catch Sebastian on the tree. I obviously wasn't holding still for the shutter, but can you make her out? Or does it make you ill like it does me? If so, appologies! I had much nicer pics but my computer just couldn't handle the information.

Omg, I need a faster comp. I had 24 people stand around watching me fail, talking in my headset about what a loser I was, and sending me typed messages to the same effect all because my comp is too slow. They were counting on me in a dungeon raid, and I let them down. Man, it was worse than highschool, the ostracism, the taunting and ridicule, the panic, the nervous sweat, the pain in the pit of my stomach. Wait, this IS a game, right? Sigh. At least my guildmaster apologized later. And I got another invite the next day, so I haven't been branded permanantly as an outcast. I'm just wondering, though, does anyone ACTUALLY have fond memories of highschool? For really real? And why am I taking highschool gamers seriously? Can you believe that's my ESCAPE?? Sheesh.... And back to game I go, for more testing of my herd animal limits. Maybe if I buy candy for all the cool kids they'll like me. Otherwise I'll send them pictures of squirrel brain.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Look at the alien life form I discovered today! Does that mean I get to name it? To tour it's home planet before any one else? I went for a walk in the forest today, intending to just sprawl on the soft bed of needles and maybe even take a nap. How soon the blue skies dissipate the fog and rain, or at least my memory of it. The ground wasn't soaking, but close. So I turned my quest to press as much of my body's surface area against the wild earth to a quest for mushrooms.

Each of the kitties took a turn sniffing the bread-gone-bad looking suckers, Sebastian rather warily. I poked it with a stick. I should have guessed by the twigs embedded in it that it was soft, but it's doughy consistency took me by suprise. Or maybe it was the clear liquid that ran out from where my twig touched that did it. If cream puff looking carnivores descend in a vengeful wrath from another planet, you can thank me for wounding their emissary. Look at that thing. Weeeeiird.

I found some rather plump acorns, too. I swear, one day I'm going to take my hair down and three or four will hit the ground around me. I found one on the back of the couch when I reached for the remote. There was one on the bathroom counter that I may have picked apart while, um, waiting. Nevermind! There is one on my desk, and one at the base of the stove, and several in my pocket. Although, after today, they may be a less desirable toy for awhile, at least for Pheonix. See, Lilly already learned last year that she has no knack for stopping them before they home in on her pretty pink nose. Poor Pheonix. I tossed him a really big one, and he LEAPED into the air, only to miss with his paws and connect audibly with his nose. He dropped to the ground and crouched there, nose wrinkled, mouth open, and held that pose for a minute. Then he flattened his ears and scampered down the deer path, tossing his head to my cries of "Oh, Pheonix! Are you okay, darling? Aaaaaww! Poor boy!"

It reminded me of how kids can get over confident and cocky, or at least, how I can, and one time when I was ten or so. I was in pennsylvania visiting my family, and I was throwing a softball around with my two uncles, whom I worshipped (still do, actually). All the words of encouragement as I started to really let that ball fly, and my head growing bigger by the second. I got my pitchin' swagger on, yelled out for them to, "go further!", and even threw in a little side spittin here and there to show I was big time, major league, the real deal, playah! And then a return pitch bounced up outta my glove and smacked me right in the face. It was at that point, the hot air whooshing from my ego in nanoseconds, that I really had an irk about calling those things "soft" balls. And I cried, and felt like a dork. I was back to peewee player.

It makes me laugh now, but boy did I learn some stuff that day. One, just because the ball hit your glove doesn't mean success is guaranteed- you have to CLOSE that glove! Hang on to that ball! And two, if I'm feeling not just confident but cocky, I try to take a second's pause to take in the situation. Oh yeah, and throw underhand... when tossing acorns for exuberant, unsuspecting kitties! Not that Pheonix was being cocky. He's more in a permanant state of self righteous entitlement. Which he deserves! If only his humble servant would throw the 'corns correctly.

Wounding my darling cat and starting intergalictic wars (maybe), I'm on a roll today!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rain, Rain, Come to Stay

It's cold and gray and wet out. And beautiful. I think just about all weather is beautiful; sunny days with puffy blue clouds, dark thrashing storms, bleached saunas, shimmering rain... but gray days are my favorite. In the dead of night when a rustle in the dark might be an animated corpse shuffling closer, the next day the glaring reality of the sun sends all such thoughts safely back to the realm of fiction. An overcast day, though, is in between the two extremes, and it always feels mysterious, like magic is more possible now than at any "witching hour" or friday the 13th. Like I might just catch a glipse of a unicorn swirling through the mist, or goblin peeking from a tree branch. Nothing malevolent, like the fears of dark. Just a thinner line between the known and the unknown. Hey, what are you doing with that strait jacket? Shoo, I say.

I do get some magical feelings from sunny days, like when I sit in the July noon for an hour, sweat running down me, watching the tall grasses wave... It's medically proven that sun causes euphoria, that's why people get addicted to tanning booths. I heard it on NPR so it has to be true. I may have mentioned this before, it's just that I get a kick out of scientific studies stating what I already know: nature gets you high, man! Whether it's getting your zen on with a view, sun induced euphoria, or seeping fog tendrils teasing your thoughts.

Well, we're still in stage 2 water conservation, though the rain is here. And I guess when I say it's cold out, I'm forgetting Febuary when it was in the teens and twenties the WHOLE month. But it's not just me that finds this lovely weather nippy- check the Lillometer:

The thing on the window might say 50 degrees, but I'd have to guess even lower by Lilly's settings. Just what is that foot doing sticking out like that? She's curled up tighter than a hibernating squirrel, but she forgot her foot! I couldn't help laughing out loud at this, though I managed to control my louder squeals at her cuteness. She woke up anyway, untucked her head long enough to say "mra-mrow" at me, and then tucked her head right back in. Aaaaaahhh, yup, one more thing in nature that makes me literally dizzy with euphoric love and gidiness. My kitties!