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!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hiking with Cats and Pink Eleks

I guess when people stop by your house to make sure you're still alive, it's time to unplug the computer. Dad and my Stepmom stopped by the other day doing just that, and so we went on a hike. I didn't bring my computer. I didn't turn it off, though, either.
Pheonix came with us; here he is swatting a bug, heehee. Clarence was off strutting his stuff in the neighborhood somewhere, and Lilly wanted us to stay at home with her, so she went about halfway and then started meowing. The kittens are still feral around new people so they were scarce. It was so great to get out into nature, and awesome to show my hill to people. The weather has been beautiful, sunny, not too hot, and yesterday it was foggy and also beautiful. Yesterday when it was just me hiking, all 5 kitties came along. And ALL FIVE curled up in a row on a big stump with me. It was sooo cool, cuz normally Lilly only tolerates Pheonix, who only tolerates her and Clarence, who loves everybody. This time they set aside their differences to all hang out with me- guess it had been a week (ok, or two) since I went for a forest stroll. I am so fired!
And while I am happy to say that nothing bad has happened to keep me away, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I haven't been doing anything particularly productive , either. Though I have been making almost daily rounds on the acorn collection, mostly I've been... well... actually my 'toon has been geting sloshed at Brewfest and making the pink eleks visible.

It's bad, people. One night I only got three hours of sleep before work because I was in this hectic dungeon with a bunch of friends fighting gnarly monsters. They just added a new game feature, too, where you can talk with any player on your headset in live time. I almost typed "ur" instead of "your" because its game slang. But hey, you know, sometimes I'm EVEN SERVING MY COUNTRY like today when I lent an ear to a real live deployed sodier who just needed to talk. I told him that even though I'm green party, he's a hero and he rules. He was stoked 'cause I guess sometimes when he comes home people give him crap, how messed up is that. Save the crap for Bush, I say. Ok that's not really serving my country by playing a game hahaha but, hey, I did help a soldier, even if I just cheered him up a little.
Anyway, once when I was a kid I ate an entire bag if reeses peanut butter cups, and I never ate one again, sooooo I think I'm a little overdosed on game now, heeehee. And if you can't tell by my running on and on, I missed this. I can't say I'll never play again, but I think I'm going to stop ignoring my peeps, my kitties, and my exersize, haha. Except I think I totally missed dinner at my Dad's yesterday because I was in a dungeon and then my brother-in-law and his wife AND friends stopped by and I had to interact with people not just in real time but in game TOO. Wow. I am such a dork. And did I mention I'm fired?
Ah well. Good thing I'm also an egomaniac. :P

Monday, October 1, 2007

Murderous Buckaroo

I found these black acorns on a hike today. They are so pretty. They don't look like the others I've been collecting, but I didn't see any different kind of tree where I found them. The green ones turn brown, not black, so maybe these ones have the plague or something.

I am so not allowed to hike without my camera ever again. I don't know why I even did. I was listening to a hawk calling out above me when I heard a crunching in the leaves to my right. I was on a little deer path, almost to the crest of a hill, and there, peeking over the curve of the mountain, was a buck. Less than twenty feet away. I held still, and he watched me, too. The cats were all up on their hind legs like meerkats. I could see the beautiful markings on his face, tan and white and black, and his antlers had three points each.

I heard more noise behind him, but couldn't see, so I think he had a friend with him. I thought for a second he might charge me, so he would look brave in front of his friend. I should have told him to leave my garden alone! Last night some of his breathren went on a murderous rampage, stripping the last of the tomatoes, glories, potatoes, and four o'clocks. They even ate some of my baby trees that they'd never touched before, dang forest cows.

I didn't yell at him, though. It was too cool just to be so close, deep in his turf like that. Then, just when Pheonix decided he wanted a closer look, the kittens decided this was WAY too scary and took off and up the closest tree. The crashing spooked the buck, and he too crashed away. I was able to see how big he was as he bounded up the hill, and was suddenly glad I hadn't pissed him off. He was HUGE!! I didn't see his friend, though I scrambled up the ridge for a better look.

When the noise of their dash had faded, I heard a far off mewing, and knew it was Lilly, who hadn't started the hike with us. She probably realized she was missing out, which she does a lot, and wanted us to go back for her, which, after calling for the spooked kittens and Pheonix, who was still stalking the departed deer, I did. She was so glad to see me that she jumped up onto my leg- ouch. She's a lil' booger, but I sure love her.

Next time I'll make sure I don't leave without her. Or my camera. The least that buck could do in return for the tender morsels of my garden is hold still for a few close ups. The murderous cow.