Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

Tibi gratias agimus quod nihil fumas.

It says "...freedom of...", not "...freedom from...".

"It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness. People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we're compassionate we'll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint." - Penn Jillette







Saturday, January 31, 2009

Forgiven*

A few days ago I was driving into a spectacular sunset, golden light rippling across bridge abutments, spilling down hills and racing tree shadows into dusk. Peach, pink, turquoise, azure, and deepest evening blue were graced with tiny cloud-chips, back lit by retiring Sol, bright clusters of water droplets transformed by light into gems fit for the gods.

On the odd occasions when I am in the van alone, I tend to think aloud, perhaps work out plot points or character development for a new story, or try to work out where to go next when I'm stuck between point A and point B in a narrative.

On this occasion, I was thinking about what motivates people to behave as they do. What influences us, who influences us, long after an event, an interaction is past? Why would a character act in a certain way? Why do people act in a certain way? Why do I act in a certain way?

What people or events have shaped how I interact with the world today?

When we hold on to negative emotions, negative responses, negative influences, we hurt more than ourselves - clinging to our drama, our trauma, means forcing those who've done us harm to remain as we knew them, to maintain the roll of aggressor, of wrong-doer.

By holding onto the memories of the wrong done to me, by keeping them alive and allowing them to shape who and what I am today, I am also keeping those who hurt me as they were - I do not give them a chance to grow or evolve, to become better people...rather, I am helping to imprison them in my definition of their character.

I hold us all back.

That seems remarkably cruel.

So while I was driving and thinking, I started a sort of chant.

I spoke a name, the name of someone who harmed me (in my perception...and perception is everything) in some way, and added "I forgive you. I forgive you for (whatever event I had been clinging to)", three times per name. It was a sort of letting go, and it felt good.

To forgive someone for doing harm, to let them go and let them evolve, to cease limiting them to my one experience with them, felt like an act of power. Now, even if they don't let go, if they continue along their path the same way, if they remember and feel bad or justified or anything at all about an event, I'm not stuck in the moment with them.

Letting others determine how we live, sometimes even years later, is to give over control of our lives to them. Forgiving, letting go, moving on, is reclaiming that control, reclaiming life. It may take more than one amazing evening sky, more than one bout of introspection, but it's a start, and I felt somehow lighter for having done it.

Who are you holding onto, holding back, giving over control to? Think you can let them go today?

*Edit - I meant to include a mention of what reminded me of the above evening drive. Over at Namasdaisy there's a lovely post about parenting, and one paragraph struck a chord for some reason, and put me in mind of forgiveness: "Some needs are universal, and there is nothing so detrimental to a full life than the feeling that we are adults who have somehow arrived at a plateau where we no longer carry the need to search, expand or endeavor to change. " I think it was the bit about endeavoring to change...anyway, go give her a look if you like - she's a sweetheart!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Back in the saddle...er...brownie pan...again.

Never one to admit defeat, T decided that he was going to have another go at brownies last night.

Good thing I keep a well stocked pantry, huh? Yep, all kinds of healthy stuff from the food groups in there...muffin mix (for when I am too freaking lazy to make my own from scratch), chocolate chips, sugar, and boxed brownie mix...and the occasional Cap'n Crunch super-mega-jumbo box, for light snacking.

Anyway, T decided he would try again, this time actually reading the directions and everything...I didn't even have to get up off my arse to check the batter for smoothness. Score!

In the time honored bonding ritual of the licking of the beater and bowl, my two fellas bonded while the brownies baked.









Does it really matter how the actual brownies came out?

Of course they were awesome.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hanging Myself

But first - those of you currently living under the onslaught of snow, ice, and general Winter weather follies, I hope you're snug, warm, fed, and safe!

OK, on with the show.

I'm spending the day at the gallery, hanging myself.

Well...hanging my pictures, anyway. The show opens Sunday, and between now and then I will finish mounting the extra prints for sale, printing the stories that go with the pictures, and probably pulling my hair out because I will stress over every detail, even as I let go of my need for perfection and control.

Realistically, I can't expect to sell everything, or even anything- it's a small gallery in a remote (albeit lovely) location..but I can hope.

Meanwhile, I had an idea...a narcissistic idea, to be sure...but an idea nonetheless.

I have been blathering about this show for a month, and it seems unfair that I don't inflict on you you don't get to see it...so what if I put it here, too? I'm thinking that maybe I'll "hang" different photos or groupings and their descriptions here as blog posts. They won't be mounted, matted or framed (unless I figure out how to do that electronically in the next few days...don't hold your breath), but it'd be better than nothing...or would it? I could also post photos of the pieces my friends have done - K's paintings and S's sculptures, which are all awesome.

What do you think? Are you interested?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Smell A Rat

Happy Chinese Ney Year, y'all. I'm hangin' out at Casa de Crazy all day, getting ready for my gallery show in all my ratty goodness. So what are you? Are you bull (OK, ox)? Got your goat? Monkeying around? Being a pig? OK, OK, I'll stop. Go check yourself out at this Astrology place - it's fun!

Mmmm, Brownies...

T wanted brownies on Friday night. I usually keep a box mix or twenty two in the pantry, so I told him to heat the oven and eventually I'd get 'round to brownies. Now, T's no dummy - he knows that "eventually" could be quite a long while...so he decided to make them himself.

Don't get me wrong, I like homemade brownies as much as the next person - fudgy, chewy, warm, with vanilla bean ice cream, they're hard to beat. When you're in a rush, though, Betty Crocker Ultimate Fudge brownies are a fine substitute.

He asked me about a few steps (like where the brownie pan lives - in the cupboard with the mixing bowls, natch; what I use to grease the pan - butter; and what kind of oil I use - canola, in the pantry a few shelves down from the top) and wanted me to check the texture of the batter, then poured and baked.

When they were done, he asked me when I put the frosting on.

Umm...frosting? The only brownies I frost are the Double-Double Ghiradelli brownies I make on very rare occasions when I want to get high on chocolate fumes...or anesthetize the chocolate center of my brain.

He was confused - don't I use the frosting?

Umm...what frosting?

I had to go look.

Oops.

You know how they're called Ultimate Fudge Brownies? And on the box there's a picture of a pouch of Hershey's chocolate? And, if you read the directions, it tells you to empty the pouch into the batter and stir it in?

And you know how sometimes, one in a while, on rare occasions, guys might not stop for read the directions?

Guess what? If you ever make Betty Crocker Ultimate Fudge brownies and you forget to add the pouch of fudgy goodness? You can just empty it over the top of the still-warm brownies, spread it evenly, and....yep, still awfully good!

T said he felt stupid...I just laughed and tried to tell him it was OK...that lots of culinary brilliance came from such mistakes. I don't think he bought it.

Hey T, if it makes you feel any better? I think those brownies added five acres back onto my ass.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thoughtfetti (where Kyddryn is a Debbie Downer)

Lately when I am mucking with the TiVo, when the "erase program" option comes up, there's been a little toggle for an advertisement. It's the little Best Buy logo on the right, and on the left it says "You Happy". Does anyone else have this, and does it piss them off like it does me? How dare they? How dare they intimate that conspicuous consumerism is what I need for happiness? How dare they imply that going deeper into debt to purchase and maintain some electronic gadget or gizmo will make me happy, rather than the truth - that over-buying, overreaching our resources is what helped shove our collective asses right over the cliff and plunged us into an economic depression? Or is it just me?
~~~~~
Patrick Swayze's cancer is pissing me off. No, not the man, nor how he has chosen to live (and eventually die) with it - it's the people who are grumbling because he hasn't gone public, hasn't made a spectacle of himself, has chosen privacy and work over being the poster-boy for research, finding a cure for what ails him.

Yes, it would be nice if he used his celebrity to bring attention to pancreatic cancer. My Aunt D had the very same cancer, and I would be happy for anyone to bring attention to the need for research - breast cancer is the most popular for research dollars, and most of the other cancers are the red-headed step-children of the cancer world. But does anyone have the right to demand that he go against his own wishes, put aside his own happiness and his family, and parade himself before the media? I don't think so. Does anyone have the right to chastise him for making a TV program rather than letting himself decline quietly into death? Again, I don't think so.

A person's life, a person's illness, is their own, and no one has a right to demand that they trot out their disease, their pain, their private selves for all the world to devour or make use of.

Or am I way off base on this?
~~~~~
Nutri-System needs to shut the hell up. Showing Jillian Barbery (or whatever her name is) all skinny, leathery, and cheerful claiming that she went form the rhino in a mu-mu to what she is today by losing twenty pounds on their plan? An insult to my intelligence. I know right well that there was more than twenty pounds going on there. Frankly, I don't find any of their spokespeople believable, and I'm sick of the tactics used to hook desperate people into using their products. Ab-lounger, take heed - you're pissing me off, too.

Want to lose weight? Eat less, move more. You can make payments to my PayPal account.
~~~~~
And now for a question: I was raised that it's rude to talk with your mouth full...so is it rude to sign with your hands full?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Food for Thought...

...or would that be "thought for food"?

The Evil Genius and I have been watching a show on BBCA - You Are What You Eat. Bird calls the hostess "The Health Superhero". I've been using the show to help explain how food affects our bodies, what's healthy and what's not, and which foods benefit which parts of the body.

I've always explained to him how things help make the body strong and healthy...or not...but if I'm going to watch TV, I am going to use it as a teaching tool, too.

We've talked about how having a brown or beige plate means an unbalanced meal - a healthy plate is a rainbow, or at least a broad palate of color. We discuss the idea of whole, fresh, and raw being healthier than processed, and the closer to origin a food is, the better for the body it is.

At six, my son knows more about healthy eating than many adults. I wish someone had made the effort with me - there's a good chance I wouldn't have the fifty-acre...erm...forty-acre...arse and health issues I have now if someone had just explained about calories, vitamins, minerals, fiber, all that. Instead, they berated, called me names, and withheld food. Sigh.

The thing is - it doesn't do any good to create a sense of deprivation, of "can't have", because then we fixate, cave, and binge. And what's the point of being healthy, of having healthy habits, if we can't enjoy the extra time we get from them? If all we can do with those extra hours is think about our "loss"?

Here's what I think: I think we should know, really know, what we eat. We should know what we're putting into our bodies. We should taste what we eat, be mindful of it, enjoy every bite. Food shouldn't be laden with guilt; guilt does as much harm as sodium, as fat, as excess carbs. We should be conscious, mindful eaters, and we should be permitted to enjoy what we eat, be it a chocolate eclair or sliced cucumbers, without bearing a judgemental assault from the world around us. We should make the choice to eat, to be healthy because it's what we want - and if we want to be a dietary disaster, then we should do so mindfully, consciously, and without complaint.

With food, as with everything else, we should accept personal responsibility for our actions and know that there are always consequences - positive or negative - to what we do.

What do you think?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Life According to Meme

I found this over at Susan's and figured, what the hey - I haven't memed in a hiwle and I'm feeling a little low on creativity today...sigh.
~~~~~
Items in bold are what I've done. If you want to tag yourself, just cut and paste and bold the things you've done. Parenthetical items are my two-cents, because you know I can't leave well enough alone!

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars (I adore camping, campfires
3. Played in a band (well, I've sung...does that count?)
4. Visited Hawaii (Oh, I'd love to...are you offering?)
5. Watched a meteor shower (Many times - aren't they lovely?)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world (When I was a kid...I'd lik to go back. Anyone want to sponsor a trip?)
8. Climbed a mountain (Several, in fact, although none recently)
9. Held a praying mantis (They're really cool)
10. Sang a solo (I AM in a band...)
11. Bungee jumped (No way, no how.)
12. Visited Paris (Miserable trip, but I would go beck on MY terms)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (And been in the middle of one, too)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (Several...although some better than others)
15. Adopted a child (I've thought about it...but not yet...)
16. Had food poisoning (Oh, groan, ugh...)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (Never even been...)
18. Grown your own vegetables (They were delightful)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (I wanted to...)
20. Slept on an overnight train (It wasn't supposed to be an overnight, and I slept in my seat...but it was fun and I'd do it again)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked (It wasn't all that dangerous given the place and time I hitched)
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill (Several times...and I never felt bad about it...hmm...)
24. Built a snow fort (Oh, it was an awesome one, too!)
25. Held a lamb (And not because it was a chop, either!)
26. Gone skinny dipping (Oh, yes...and I will again, too...just as soon as I don't think I'll frighten the fish)
27. Run a marathon (No, but I took bronze in the school olympics for sprinting and the relay)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (I've never been...maybe one day...)
29. Seen a total eclipse (Awesome)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (On the beach, on a mountain, at the track, in my living room...I wonder where the next one will be...)
31. Hit a home run (Well, on the wii, but I didn't think that counted)
32. Been on a cruise (Several, and I'd love to go on more...especially Alaska. Anyone want to sponsor??)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (Well, if Sign-Language counts)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (Because really? It isn't about money...so there's never enough...or always enough...)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (Never again unless plied with many, many drinks)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (Better than therapy)
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted/drawn (As long as a caricature counts)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
50. There was no fifty! Quick, alert the media...contact the milk-carton people...we need a fifty! Or, you know...two twenties and a ten...
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (But my Mum was)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class (I wish I'd never stopped...)
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies ('though not as a Girl Scout - I pimp them fro friend's kids)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason (Mostly because I wanted them and so I bought them)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (Way more often than I like)
68. Flown in a helicopter (I was maybe six and remember very little besdies the life jackets and the high window)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar (Eww, ick, nasty...you can have my share)
72. Pieced a quilt (Several...with more in the future)
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (Several...not as awful as you'd think)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (But I'm working on this one)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (I wish...)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (I was six, it was form out school play...)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (But now Publix does it for me...)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury (Not for lack of effort...)
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day (Sometimes more than one)

Looks like I have some things to look forward to, huh?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

You like me...you really like me!

Well, Gina does, anyway. At least...I think she does...because she was sweet and gave me an award - my very first, in fact! Thanks, Gina!




The Dardos Award is in appreciation of the merits - cultural, literary and individual- of every blogger who expresses him/herself on his/her blog.

The conditions are to:
Be tickled pink,
Copy and paste the award picture to your blog,
Write down the regulations,
Link the blog who bestowed you the award,and finally
Nominate 15 blogs for the award.

I am delighted, which I hope will be an acceptable stand-in for "tickled pink". I've followed the rules (as much as I ever do), and will now get on with the nominating.

1. Rachel at The Waxing Moon - her blog is part poetry, part environmental crusade, part photo-journal of life in the Yukon. I dig her.
2. Kit at Kitmama's Penseive - she's not just a real-time friend, she's a spot of crunchy granola goodness punctuated with accents of nature, kids, cooking, and occasional Internet goofing-off.
3. Tanis at Attack of the Redneck Mommy - I don't know her in person, but anyone who make me laugh out loud (and then have to tell the Evil Genius that I won't read him what made me laugh because it's adult in content) deserves a prize.
4. Susan at Stop Calling Me That - she's had some rough days recently, but she still brings the funny...and maybe a bit of grace under fire, too.
5. Charlie at Back to the Fridge - dude makes weight loss seem almost like fun. Almost.
6. Marcy at The Glamorous Life Association - her take on vintage ads is hilarious, and her recent series on Swedish Rock Bands almost hurt me, I laughed so hard. Her slices of California life are cool, too.
7. Laurie at Foolery - if you don't know why, you haven't read her...but here's a hint - she's almost as deeply weird as I am, and she's way cuter.
8. Shawn at Backpacking Dad - he's well spoken, thought provoking, and dang it...he's cute!
9. Mrs. G over at Derfwad Manor - she's who I would like to be if I ever grow up.
10. Elden at Fat Cyclist - someone I have never met, never spoken to, but has made quite an impact on my life. I think about his wife, his family, every day, and constantly send them little blessings because they need them. Despite that, he manages to be gracious, funny, and generous with his blog, time, energy, and dollars.
11. Suzy at Hollywood: Where Hot Comes to Die (R) - she's one funny, tart, witty woman who is way underemployed.
12. Mizz Magpie at Magpie Musing - she is warm, welcoming, a real Lady, even when she's not.
13. MereCat at More MereCatherine - she's considering hanging up her hat, but I hope she doesn't - she's fun, bright, and good-natured, and the world needs all of those it can get!
14. Sean at Writer Dad - well spoken, well written, imaginative, creative, and industrious - need I say more?
15. Black Hockey Jesus at The Wind in Your Vagina - there is no way to quantify him, you just have to go read his words to understand.
16. (yeah, yeah, sixteen). Becky at Mommy Wants Vodka - if for no other reason than she's ninety-months pregnant and still has a sense of humor.

Please understand, it wasn't easy for me to narrow it down- I read all those blogs on the sidebar every day, and a few more besides...and every one of them is engaging and worth the time. I didn't mention Mum and her blog, or my dear friend M and hers, because they haven't been writing much of late - but I love them nonetheless. I didn't mention Noble Pig, BloggerDad, Organized Doodles, Boobs Injuries and Dr. Pepper, Baby on Bored, Namasdaisy, and a dozen others because I was trying to follow the rules. Sigh.

Thanks, Gina, for thinking of me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Interview? Moi? Oh, alright.

My friend Rachel over at Waxing Moon was good enough to hunt me down and ask me ever so sweetly if I would play along with this whole interview thing. I was hesitant at first - you may not realize it, but I'm actually quite shy. Still, she begged so prettily, I had to relent! There are rules to this game, and they're posted after the interview if you'd like to play, too.*
~~~~~

1) Reading your blog, I get an image of a funky, crafty, musical, baking homeschooling house. In what ways do you interweave or integrate your role as a homeschooling mother with that of a musician and craftsperson?

I don't know that I make a conscious effort at blending things...I think of everything as an opportunity to teach - teachable moments, I've heard them called - rather than setting aside any one time for set lessons. Music is integral to our lives (have you ever heard a three-year-old sing "Honky Tonk Badonk-a-donk"? One of my fondest musical memories of the Evil Genius' third year!). One of the many reasons I home-school is because I am a musician - and while I am not in high demand, I do occasionally have to travel during the regular school year. Home-schooling means the Evil Genius can travel with me without worrying about attendance or missing vital schooling.

Baking is actually useful on several fronts - it makes my house smell good, makes our friends happy when we bring them the results of our day in the kitchen, and it's a fine opportunity to teach nutrition, chemistry, fractions, basic math, and housekeeping skills while we're at it.

As far as crafting goes, he sees me and wants to play, too, so I try to find ways to let him express himself that mimic what I do - for Yule, T gave him his own digital camera that clicks and downloads pics on the computer, so now he can learn about focus, composition, and cropping.

Ultimately we dance, we sing, we play, and we learn every day, as unconsciously as breathing - which is pretty darned nifty, if you ask me!

2) From waking until bedtime, what is your favourite kind of day? What would you be doing, and with who?

Oh, my...this is a tough one. I love my Evil Genius, and we have some terrific days together...but I also value my alone time. I have to split this answer, I think, if I am to answer fully.

A favorite kind of day with Bird starts with sleeping in, waking gently, and having a nice cuddle. We play, wrestle a bit on the bed, and he quizzes me about whatever questions the fairies planted in his head while he slept - "Mommy, will you tell me about...?" This past Tuesday he wanted to know what a Democrat was, a Republican, Social Security, Welfare, and Income Redistribution, as well as what the President does, the branches of the military, and Congress. Whew. We have breakfast, run errands, maybe go to the Nature Center, come home and catch a nap, maybe bake or play some games, and if it's a really good day I can wrangle him into writing practice! A good day with the family is just us, together, doing as we please, no schedule, no stress.

Another favorite day is the rare (very rare) day I have for myself. A day when I wake when I wake, eat when I eat, and do as I please without worrying about feeding, clothing, or entertaining anyone else. The days I spend at the gallery are good days - I get to be creative among creative people, and how awesome is that??

If you're talking about a fantasy day, it would involve me, Mike Rowe, and a lot of getting dirty and then getting clean again. Heh.

Really, you shouldn't ask an Aquarius for a favorite anything - we can so seldom answer definitively!

3) If you had the power to go back in time and spend an hour with one historical person, who would it be? How would you spend the hour?

Oh...heh...well, I can't think of just one. Einstein, for a chat about physics and time. Eleanor Roosevelt, and I'd chat about anything she liked. I wouldn't mind spending an afternoon with Walt Whitman, out in the woods, just...being. Meeting Buddha would be insanely wonderful. Van Gogh - just to speak to him, have tea, and see how he observed and interacted with his world. Right now, though? I'd go back and ask the founding fathers a few questions, get some clarity about a number of issues that lawyers, rights groups, and constitutional scholars can't seem to agree on.

4) What does the colour purple speak to you of?

The movie? Fine acting, some lovely scenery, and some amazing music. The color itself? Spirit, spiritual energy, and sassy older women who don't give a fig what anyone else thinks of them.

5) If someone gave you a gift, and it was the finest thing in the world you could ever be gifted, what would it be?

Hmm...I think answering this question would require me to live a static life - otherwise my answer would change from moment to moment - maybe an endless supply of yarn, always the right color, weight, and length for the project at hand? A never-ending supply of fabric, always just what I wanted? Prosperity that meant I always had enough and a bit more besides? Maybe. Maybe health, fitness, grace, strength. Maybe confidence. Definitely love, friendship, trust, those things that friends give freely to each other, asking nothing but the same in return.
~~~~~
Here are the instructions if you wish to be interviewed by me:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me".
2. I will respond by e-mailing you five questions (I get to pick the questions)
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. (Please include a link to my blog with your answers, so people can follow along.)
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. I will post a list of those who have agreed to an interview so everyone can follow along.
~~~~~

I interviewed Devil's Ivy and she's given some brilliant answers - head on over and take a peek!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Letter to the President

It's a rerun, I know, but I mean it enough to post it twice - with an addition or two.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Mr. President,

Please remember that our wonderful nation is founded on the basic principal that government is not here to protect us from ourselves, to regulate us into submission, or to quash our freedoms; it exists to help us maintain our freedoms and to ensure that we are equal under the law.

Please remember that we are a disparate people, passionate about many things, but we are all Americans and deserve to be treated with dignity and concern by the people we've elected to watch out for us while we go about the business of raising our families, enriching our nation, and living our lives.

Remember that you made promises, and whether I like them or not, you should be a man of your word. You should not permit yourself to be forsworn for expedience' sake, nor for fear of what others may think of you, nor to curry favor with people in positions of power. You represent us, all of us, not your own small interests.

When you put yourself forward for this office, you handed the reins of your life over to We, the People - don't forget that.

Remember that it says "Freedom of...", not "Freedom from..." and try to take it to heart.

Try to maintain the dignity of your office and remember that there is always someone watching, someone listening, someone who knows what you are doing, someone taking notes and recording.

Remember, thou art mortal.

I wish you luck in the next four years - we are an obstreperous, rowdy bunch to manage, and we're awfully unapologetic about it; you've got your work cut out for you, and I don't envy you one little bit.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK Day Thoughts

I wrote about this day last year. Below is an excerpt from that post (slightly modified).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I have a dream that one day no one will be judged by their clothing, weight, sex, piercings or tattoos, but rather by how they help to build our fellowship of humanity and give it strength, grace, endurance, and beauty.

I have a dream that who, where, or how a person worships won't affect how they are received by their fellow man.

I have a dream that one day, NOT noticing the color of a person's skin will no longer be a crime.

I have a dream that my child, and your children, and their children, will not have to live in fear of their government, but will rather find themselves free to simply be, love, speak, and do.

I have a dream that who we love will one day be less important than how we love - and that our laws will reflect that.

I have a dream that one day teachers will be free to teach, without fearing their students or lawsuits or restrictive policies or gangs or unions or indifferent administrations.

I have a dream that people who home-school will one day be left to do so in peace without fear of hounding from DFACS, teacher's unions, school boards, and people who know nothing about it but will lecture endlessly about how parents are ruining their children's future because we care more about really educating our kids than about making them into mindless drones.

I have a dream that one day soon I won't have to worry about filling out all these so-called "voluntary" tax papers and fork over a chunk of what our household (read - husband) earns, but will rather be free to spend it and donate it as I/we choose.

I have a dream that we will no longer blame and punish victims for simply being victims, but will champion them against their abusers, rapists, perpetrators of violent acts, or oppressors. And that we will stop keeping them victims when they are ready to be strong, to be survivors, to move on.

I have a dream that one day, our bloated legal system will be torn asunder and made anew to better reflect the needs of We, the People, rather than they, the lawyers.

I have a dream that one day people who do harm to the innocent will come to justice...whether the innocent be child, woman, man, or animal. All living things deserve compassion, mercy, and equality, don't they?

I have a dream...that one day...the gods of all men willing...there will never again be a person on this planet who isn't free...that there will not be one person unjustly imprisoned for speaking truth, for questioning law, government, religion, or convention...that no one will have to fear losing their children because they believe differently, eat differently, look differently, or even act differently. That no one will ever again have to fear the men who come in the night with guns, torches, threats, violence, anger, hatred, fear, domination, ignorance, badges, handcuffs, unjust laws, pain and death.

I am still dreaming.

G'night, sleep tight, and dream deep.

The original post, in case you're interested.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Foggy, Grey, Soggy Day

Yesterday the clouds were light, pale mounds of cotton batting rolled across the sky, hinting at snow. No promise, mind, just a hint - maybe, maybe not.

This morning, a heavier layer has stretched itself from one horizon to another, evening the batik white-and-grey to a more uniform pale-slate wash. No snow, but rain, more rain, welcome rain.

I wouldn't mind a bit of the fluffy stuff, falling lazily down and powdered-sugar-coating the land around our home. The Evil Genius has been obsessed with snow this Winter, constantly looking out the window and saying "Goddess, I wish you would make it snow". Every time the slightest bit of cloud passes over, he wonders aloud if it will ever snow.

Today we have mist, fog, rain, grey. Also cold (relative to location, of course - cold in Georgia is temperatures in the twenties, sometimes the teens, while cold in North Dakota could be unfathomable degrees below zero). I don't mind the cold. My heat pump does. It's struggling to keep our huge, boxy house warmed to my miserly temperature of sixty-five degrees. I refuse to turn it up any more than that - the bills would send me through the roof.

I want a fireplace.

Can you tell that I am scattered today? A little - I slept alright (for a change), but my mind is full of plans for the upcoming show, concerns over how much I can afford to print, mount, mat, frame, and hope that someone will find one or two prints worth purchasing. Sigh. I never got this nervous about a concert.

The lake is up several feet, but we have tens of feet to go before we can consider it full. That's why I am not complaining about the rain. Well, that and the fact that I like to go out and let the rain pepper me with sky-kisses, wash my soul, connect me with everything that has touched water, now, in the past, in the future. It's a circle of life kind of thing.

I have been in something of a good mood lately. The end is nigh.

Now that I've wasted all these words on nothing, I think I'll go make a grocery list and clean something...or bake something...or eat something...or all of the above. Cheers.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Don't Feel like Dancin'...

Well, actually, yeah I do.

I'm not much of a dancer, at least not the indoors sort - I love dancing around a good fire when the drums are low and sultry and there aren't many people around to point and laugh.

Up near Mum's, there's a dance every couple of weeks. I've gone with her a few times, and even hauled my friend S along for giggles. We had great fun last time - S had her arse grabbed by an octogenarian who still has some of his own teeth! It was really kinda funny - we were at the refreshments table and he kept telling us to try the sausage, grinning like a fool. Only when we walked away did S tell me he'd grabbed her arse. I quipped "So he was telling us to try the sausage while he was reaching for the ham!" Heh...juvenile, but it still makes me chuckle.

We're going up to hang with Mum this evening (yep, I'm ditching the family again to go play), go to the dance (S said she'll bring some ham this time...which will make those of us in the know laugh like fiends), and spend the night at the cabin. We have a Saturday AM class at the gallery to make Artist's Trading Cards, like baseball cards but reflecting our art. Basically we'll be playing with scraps, paints, photos, stickers, and whatever else we can dig up from the supply closet. Fun!!

Oh, and yesterday? I top-mounted and framed fourteen photographs of varying sizes and sorted through almost a thousand more to choose another couple of dozen for the show. Thirty-something photos should do the trick, right? I have no idea...but I'm game to learn.

Now I'm off to write bios for me and K (S will write her own) - we need to submit them to the gallery for the website, press releases, and show-notices. Whee! I hate to admit it...but I'm having fun...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gallereeeey, Galleraaaahhhh, Gallereeeeey, Gallerahahahahaha....

I'll be at the gallery most of today.

It struck me that maybe I haven't explained about the gallery and what I'm doing there. Or maybe I have and forgot. If the former, I'm about to remedy that. If the latter, well, sorry - I am far too lazy to go back through my archives (Have you tried wading through all that crap? The IRS doesn't have as many files to search through!) and see, so you'll have to endure it again.

Ahem.

On Thursdays when T is in town, I leave him with the Evil Genius and strict instructions not to burn down the house, feed the boy a diet of nothing but sugar and food coloring, or permit any alien abductions while I'm away. I then drive as quickly as I can away from the madhouse I call Casa de Crazy sedately and obeying the speed limit like the insane woman normal person I am (hush, T, I can hear you laughing) up to the Georgia Heritage Center for the Arts, a gallery housed in what was once a Georgia Power building at Tallulah Falls. If you click the link, check out the Heritage Room (housing a basket exhibit in the photo). That's the room where my combined arts show will be.

I'm what's called a demonstrating artist, someone who (in theory) comes in once a week and demonstrates their art form. My day is Thursday, because that's when Mum and her Tribe of Outrageous and Insanely Funny Women demonstrate, and I like to hang with my peeps.

As I have something I call "Crafter's ADD", I don't demonstrate any one art or craft - sometimes I make photo greeting cards, sometimes I do collage cards, sometimes I do bead work, sometimes I crochet, now and then I color or do a kind of wriggly line art, and sometimes I glom on to someone else's art supplies and play with them (S's polymer clay is darned near irresistible!). When I need to get up and walk around because all the blood has pooled into my arse and I want it to circulate again, I go play the flutes. I loooove the flutes. I bought two of them last year, one made of PVC pipe, and they are loverly. I'm eyeing a river cane darling right now. Sigh. Anyway, I play them because they need playing, especially the wood/cane ones. If they aren't played from time to time, they will dry out and crack, be ruined, and make me cry. It's a public service. Yeah.

I am there from open to close, and it's amazing how slow the minutes, how swift the hours can go.

Tuesday afternoon, Mum and I invaded raided cleaned out calmly, quietly, and sanely shopped at JoAnn's, were we found archival paper (for top-mounting photos)(I love top mounting prints, especially because most of mine are odd sizes and won't fit in a standard mat), frames on sale (Two-for-one? Count me in!!), and mats. I can assemble frames like nobody's business, but I can't actually cut the legs myself...and while I have a very cha-cha mat cutter, have no concept of how to actually use it to, you know, cut mats with openings and stuff.

We garnered enough supplies for me to mount and frame all the prints I have for the show, and some spare mats so I can print more, mat them, and sell them without frames. I'll buy more mats, frames, and paper as budget allows, and may actually have a pretty decent show for Feblueberry.

Back to the gallery. I'll be spending today's demonstrating time trying very hard not to cuss while mounting, matting, and framing the show pieces. If I manage to get any pics, I'll post them...eventually.

I love my gallery time - even if I feel inferior to many of the artists up there, I have a blast and they're so freakin' supportive that one can't help feeling rather chuffed with one's work by the end of the day. Also, they're delightfully off-kilter, so I fit right in!

I think it's terrific that the gallery is there, supporting local artists and giving them a place to make contact with the public, demonstrate sometimes dying arts, have shows, and socialize. The public gets to meet artists every day, ask questions, and see the work that goes into the things for sale in the gallery. Win-win. I wish more communities had a resource like this.

So, does your community have a gallery? An arts center? Something to nurture the creative soul? Tell me about it!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Oooh, Ahhhh, Ouch!

Our roommate gave me a gift certificate for Xmas...for a massage. Thoughtful chap, and smart enough to know he should listen when I answer his query about what makes a good gift.

I went yesterday - the timing couldn't have been better. I'm stressing about finances, stressing about having a go at showing my art, and stressing about getting the illustrations done for my trio of children's stories so I can try and get the dad-blasted thing published, which is another stress...ugh, letting people read and judge...bleh!

So a massage is just the thing.

I forgot about how wonderful and ouchie massages can be. I'm wincing even as I type this - no kidding, as relaxed and marvelous as I still feel, I hurt all the way to my fingertips. It's a good hurt, but still...

I wonder if I can score another one for my birthday...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Choosing Not to Choose is Still a Choice

It's true - choosing to wait, to be patient, to weather the storm and see where the chips fall without pushing, pulling, trying to make things turn out one's own way...it's still choosing.

Not proactive choice, but choice nonetheless. Sometimes all one can do is allow the currents to carry one along to quieter waters.

T had some potential work issues this weekend, brought on by another's foolishness but impacting his ability to do his job and casting doubt as to whether he'd have a job today. Yesterday was distressing, because of it. He is still uncertain, but not because his own actions have shown him to be unworthy of the company...he's worried that the third party is such a selfish shit that he'll take T's job down with him. Spoiled, rich, and utterly unconcerned with the fact that T has a family, is a solid employee, and never says "no" to more work even when his wife threatens to kill him twice daily, thrice on Sundays, the ass-hat who is making trouble cares only for getting his way - or he'll take his ball and everyone else's and go home. I can't go into it more than that...but I will say this - I am not a cursing witch. No, I'm not. But sometimes a body would be wise to fear the blessings I come up with - they stick, and they can be ugly...because I'm all about the Karma, and reminding people that their actions will return to them, all grown up and ready to rock. Also? I really didn't need to be irritated, angered, or made to feel that I can't take any chances right now.

Why?

I'm putting together a show for the gallery...printing, matting, framing, a little of this, a little of that. It's a huge chance, and it requires a bit of an investment on my part, an investment that will stretch us to the limits and could mean a steady diet of Ramen for a while if it fails. If all goes according to plan (or even slightly sideways to the plan)(because really, I don't often plan ahead, knowing the futility of it)(no kidding, I don't usually discuss plans because the so often go awry), the show will open in Feblueberry. I'm sharing the space with an artistic friend or two, which spares me the horror of filling an entire room with my prints and gives me the chance to love their art all over again.

It is unusual for me to put my work out there...unless it's out in the Blue Nowhere, where my fellow Blogopolians are usually quite sweet about it.

But enough is enough - I'm tired of feeling insecure, unsure, and worthless. So there.

Remind me of this bravado in a few days when I'm curled up in the corner wondering what the hell I've gotten myself into. Cheers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Maybe Another Day

Yes, there's a story here. It's not over, so I can't really tell it. The following poem-ish thing was written in the moment...but the moment changes...and I have no idea what it will be in an hour, or tomorrow, or next week. When it's all played out, maybe I'll tell you about it. But not until then, because I don't want to waste words.
~~~~~~~~~~

Oh, love...

I was in a creative place,
A hopeful place
Looking to a day not too distant
When I would dare to spread my wings
Throw myself from the cliff
And soar

I was in that dreamy
Half-awake
Half-asleep place
Where I believed I could
And wanted to
Succeed

Floating, I came
And spoke of maybe, and time,
And effort
Of looking at tomorrow a little differently

And oh, you couldn't know
How thoroughly you deflated me
With bitter words

How well you broke the nascent joy
Into tiny pieces
Dusty particles of
I can't do it
It won't do any good

Your hammer
Was someone else's words
Deeds
But you swung unconsciously well

So that one misbehaves,
Is selfish, careless
Cruel

And I suffer

Broken wings

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sun, Moon, Sky

Peach gold, the Sun, hanging bright and bold on the horizon of evening, night following at a distance, trailing her scarf of many colors behind her. He shone hard, fierce, showing his flaming peacock self, his phoenix-envying rich flame self, his copper, gold, bronze, brass, peach, molten heart self. He had an audience.

Bold Moon, silver disc, saucy and bright, she sat opposite the sun's horizon. She saw him, but pretended not to, her gaze never lighting on him more than a moment. Pale blue gauze skirt floating around her, she was adrift in a sea of sky, languid, adored, knowing he saw her and was showing his finery to catch her eye.

Each in their place, they reached for the other, arms wide, spanning the great dome above. Where they met, their light entwined, orange and aqua, midnight and crimson. I imagined it hissed, sizzled, rang out pure, perfect, bell pure notes of ecstasy.

How often do moon and sun sit so square in the sky? Usually they run, one after the other, giving each other their backs, giving chase. How rare to see them turn, smiling, into each other's embrace before soaring onward in their dance. Rare, and lovely, to see the daylit moon curtsy to the dusk heavy sun, even as he bows to her.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Joining the Etsy Era While Doing the Bump(er)

I finally did it - I joined the Etsy era. I sent a chunk of yesterday fiddling about with it and managed to get a few things listed. It's nowhere near done, but it's a good start...and I'll get some more done later today, when I get up.

Want to see? Of course I called it Shade and Sweetwater - go check it out, and feel free to come back here and tell me what you think!
~~~~~
Yes I'm a bitch, just not yours.

I'm trying to see things your way but I can't get my head up my butt.

I don't do perky.

Oh help, I am so devastated by your caustic barbs.

My child sold your HONOR STUDENT the answers to the test.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cats, Part Three (the last and longest)(with pictures)

Before our story continues, we bring you this special announcement: Unless you intend to be a breeder, please be responsible and spay or neuter your animal housemates. Even if they are indoor only, spay or neuter - you never know when someone will leave a door open a moment too long. If you have indoor/outdoor animals, or outdoor ones, and you don't spay or neuter...what the Hell are you thinking??? Do the world a favor and keep your pet from adding to the feral population...unless you like the idea of half-wild animals tearing up other people's pets, carrying disease from home to home, starving to death on your lawn, being hit by cars on the road, and being caught and killed by animal control. Not that I feel strongly about this...
And now for the conclusion of our story:
We had another gap in feeding - our budget got tight, and I had an obligation first to my family, then to the strays. I'd put a handful of food out from time to time, but not with any regularity. I prayed that they would find food elsewhere, and they seemed to be doing well enough through the fall that I didn't worry too much.

I also prayed that they would come here if something was wrong, if they were hurt or being chased. I know it's silly, but I hoped that some part of them would know that this house, these humans, are safe. I was constantly telling them that it was alright, that I wouldn't hurt them. I could not bear the thought that I might find one of them dead, hit by a car or torn by dogs or hunting birds. It worried me. As the days grew noticeably shorter, T and I began to debate what we should do...we're a pair of softies, and we worry that they'll be cold, get wet, starve.

I decided that we would feed them again, and this time there would be no gaps. We can do without a few boxes of Cheez-Its to feed our little family.

Now, their bowl is on the front stoop. I go out and fill it, making a purling sort of call, and they come running. One day last week, they were so hungry they ran right up despite the fact that I wasn't back in the house yet. Less than a foot from me, they ate...and ate...and ate. These little kitties can put away as much in a day as our three cats eat in a week!

Sometimes Little Mother comes first, shy and sweet, telling me about her night or how hungry she is but never getting too close. She waits, halfway up the front stairs, until I retreat into the house, behind the glass door, then she comes up. If she is first, the three children wait their turn. She will put them in their place if they try to share, but she always leaves them plenty.

If the kittens come first, they all three eat together, although once in a while they'll growl at each other.

I sit on the bottom step in the foyer and watch them through the glass door, usually talking to them. Peach (as I've taken to calling the grayish one) is the most wary - she (I think) will jump and run if I move to quickly. Doppelganger (the tuxedo, so called because it looks exactly like Little Mother) is less frightened, usually taking only a step or two before returning to the food. Little Bit (the mostly black runt of the litter) pays me no mind, letting me get within inches. If I get too close or try to touch her, though, she will run away. Like her mother, she will come sit in the driveway and chat with me - we meow back and forth and I'm certain the neighbors think me barmy.

I have named them. Oh, dear. Well, I knew it was inevitable. We're thinking about investing in have-a-heart traps and finding a vet who will spay or neuter for free. It would be nice if Neighbor would neuter his Ginger Tom...he chuckles when I bring it up, a sort of "boys will be boys" laugh. He's not a bad man, just not as concerned about Ginger Tom's wild ways as I am.

We wouldn't try to tame them or make them pets - that ship has sailed - but it would help control the feral population and probably give them a slightly better life.

I'm worried about a couple of other large, obviously domestic cats that are lurking in the yard - they've treed Little Mother several times and are not afraid of me when I try to chase them off. I don't mind feeding them, too, but only after Little mother and her kittens have eaten, and the big cats keep them away. I told one I would turn the hose on him and he stared down his nose at me as if to dare me to try! I showed him who was boss, though - for a big woman, I can move fast, and I scared the crap out of him when he was prowling my stoop one day. War whoops are still useful, it seems.

We're talking about buying one of those dog igloos and placing it at the top of the back steps for the family. I have some scrap fleece we could line it with. On the top step, they wouldn't have to fear being chased off by other cats or wild things - too close to the house, and they already know we won't hurt them. They trust us, in their own fashion.

I thought I had some photographs from when we first found them, but Bob the Wonder Computer begs to differ. Oh, well. here are some from the last few weeks. They're blurry and grainy because I had to shoot through the glass door or living room window, but they'll do for now.

Little Bit and Little mother aren't sure what they think of the flash.


Little Bit and Little Mother look on while Doppelganger has breakfast.


Peach keeps his/her distance, but sits still long enough for a rare photo.

Maya wants to be friends, but the wild kitties aren't sure how they feel about that.

Another day, and Maya is still trying...

The kittens have taken to climbing the Pink Popcorn Tree (Ornamental Cherry) and trying to catch the birds that wait there for a turn at the suet cages or the feeder. The birds find this amusing, as do we in the house. Here, Little Bit has just caught herself before falling - she has continued to try and walk on twigs, because if the birds can do it, so can she!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Another Kind of Vote

Don't worry - the conclusion to the (probably boring unless you're into cats and strays and acts of critter kindness) kitty story will be up tomorrow.

Meanwhile, how about taking part in a different kind of voting? There's some kind of blog award thingy going on, and one of the blogs I adore is in the running for Best Canadian Blog. Yep, I read blogs from Canada - thanks to NAFTA, there's no tariff on them, so why not??

Any way, if you'd like to make a Canadian redneck's day, go check out Tanis at Attack of the Redneck Mommy and then vote for her (scroll down until you find the link to Best Canadian Blogger, click, then vote). She's in second place right now, and if all three of us vote for her every day (unlike Presidential elections, in this one you may vote daily), she could win...or at least make it a close finish!

Oh, and the NAFTA comment? Joking, y'all - I not that clueless!

Cats, Part Two

I brusquely asked T to go fetch a handful of cat food from the house - he brought it out to me in a dish and I fed the little girl (I checked) a few pieces. She quivered in my hand, torn between lunch and fear. I put her down and let her be...I cannot bring another cat into the house - not fair to the three who already live here, not wise when I can't afford to get her shots, flea treatments, tested for communicable diseases. She flung herself away from me and I went in search of the others.

I found the little tuxedo kitten under a tree and managed to put a hand on it. It bit me but good, my own fault, and let me know what it thought of me. Mum was nearby, staring at me. I tried to soothe them both, but they were too wild. I let them go. Eventually, the peach/gray colored one rejoined them and all four were back on the steps, a blessing of sun-warmed wood during the day and a haven from cat-hungry critters at night.

Of course we started feeding them. We owe them. I will not let them starve. No one goes hungry 'round here if I can help it.

At first, they would scatter when we brought food out. We had a dish on the bottom landing of the back steps and fed them daily. Eventually, they simply retreated a short way and stared while we filled food and water bowls for them.

By late Summer we stopped feeding them - hunting was good and we didn't see much of them, just glimpses here and there in the neighborhood.

In the Fall, I notice that the mum-cat (I call her "Little Mother") was limping. Something was wrong with her foot...she couldn't run, or even walk very well, although she certainly tried.

She would never let me near enough to see what's wrong, let alone to touch and possibly help it heal. I decided to start feeding them again. I wouldn't make them endure cold weather on empty bellies, and with a pronounced limp/hobble, I knew Little Mother wasn't hunting well.

One morning, she sat in the driveway and cried to me. It had been a few days since I put out food, and she was hungry! At my behest, T ran inside and opened a can of tuna, which I placed on the ground. I sat on the concrete and waited, perhaps four feet from the tuna. Hunger won, and she came close and ate. I inched nearer, until I was perhaps two feet away. She always had an eye on me. I was worried about the kittens, because they used to follow her everywhere - but it turns out they had begin hanging out with the Ginger Tom (a neighbor's cat - I've asked him to neuter the lad, but Neighbor seems to think it's not necessary. Sigh.) following him around like a little parade.

I was putting their food near my trailer, because they like hiding under it. The little black one filled out nicely, no longer looked like she would blow away in a stiff wind. One evening, when some friends and I were sitting outside so our kids could run wild, Little Mother actually came quite close to our group and joined the conversation. I brought out some food and she ate, still watchful but not as prone to jump and run when someone moved. I was quite pleased.

To be continued...again...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cats, Part One

No, not the musical - although I did see that when it came to the Fox Theater in Atlanta way back when dinosaurs roamed freely up and down Peachtree street. If you ever have the chance to see a show at the Fox, go - especially if you can get front row center loge seats...although, there's no bad seat at the Fox.

But I digress.

My friend Rachel wrote a post that mentioned stray cats. It reminded me that I haven't told you about our strays. I must remedy that!

First, I will share with you one of my (many) peculiar philosophies: We are responsible for cats. We, humans, are. We made them, manipulated their shape and size to become more pleasing to us. What we forgot to do was work out how to shrink their ego, their will, their spirit to a house-cat size. They all think they're tigers or the cats of the desert, not tiny little tabbies or tuxedos or jersey-spotted beasties. Because we altered them, we have a responsibility to them, to provide for them - we owe them. I did mention it's a peculiar philosophy.

So, on with the story!

Last Spring/Summer, a mum-cat had her kittens on our back steps. Hmm...turns out that black and white cat I thought was fighting the orange tabby tom from the neighbors? Was actually not fighting, exactly. The noises they make are not all that distinct, so it was (I think) an honest mistake.

I found out about the little family when I chased mum-cat away from the front of my house because she was pilfering my lizards (she had a big fat one in her mouth, still kicking). I felt awful - she was just trying to feed herself and her babies. She kept right on running, but the babies were halfway up the back steps and too small to jump. The peach colored one hissed at me and jumped anyway, following hot on the mum-cat's tail. The tuxedo (who looks just like its mum) growled and shot past me, tumbling down the steps and sailing off the bottom landing, utterly failing its saving throws for grace, style, and agility - it landed on its back, blinked, and hauled ass into the woods, meowling and feeding my guilt with worry I'd made it hurt itself. The last kitten simply huddled against a step and watched me with huge eyes. It was shaking, skinny, terrified. I picked it up, ever so carefully, and pet it a little. I could feel ribs, spine, leg bones. poor baby - it was the runt, and not getting much milk or prey. I honestly didn't know if the wee bairn would live very long.

To be continued (or this would be a very long post, indeed)...

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Tipping Point

Friday, T and Bird were wrestling on one of the big, horrible chairs. There were lots of giggles and gales of laughter, until this happened:

They found the tipping point for a big, horrible chair. It was slow, inexorable, the backwards tilt accelerating into a THUD!

Then there was a moment of silence before we all dissolved into a fit of hilarity. Eventually, I did put down my camera and help T get up...but not until after I swept up the mess that was under the chair before it tipped.



No chairs were injured in the filming of this episode. Dang.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Whew!

With Bird's birthday comes the culmination of the holiday season at Casa de Crazy.

We had a lovely day.

It began with waking on my own - no ringing phone, no meowling cats, no small boy with footsicles wanting to cuddle and defrost at the same time. I love Bird/the Evil Genius/Mr. Picklebottom, but his feet have found a way to be tucked under a warm comforter and still reach something approaching absolute zero. I enjoy the cold, but not when applied directly to my warm fundament while I am still sleeping.

T, the Evil Genius and I cleaned the pit of despair...er...the Evil Genius' room...first thing - before breakfast, even. We had a race to see who could pick up their section the quickest. I won, but don't tell Bird - he thinks he did.

A gift came in the mail from Aunt D and Uncle T - a book about the Nile Crocodile. It has a 3-D model in it, and when one turns the pages, a part is removed to show deeper into the beast. Very cool. I let him open it before the party. Why not?


I had plenty of munchies set out, and more waiting in the wings if needed:

It wasn't needed...so I guess I'll save the egg-rolls and pizza rolls for another day.

Bird asked for a strawberry cake. I made sure to clarify - did he want a strawberry flavored cake or one with strawberries on top? On top, he said. I will cop to buying a boxed caked mix - Duncan Hines, white cake mix to be precise (it was the least expensive of the name brands). I made the frosting from scratch, though.

I cut the strawberries last night and sugared them so they'd make a nice syrup. This morning I poked the cake layers with a fork and carefully poured the strawberry syrup over them, then iced it with homemade vanilla buttercream, leaving a bare spot surrounded by a wall of frosting on the top. Just before it was time to serve the cake I spooned the strawberries into the well.

There was much rejoicing.

He got some cool gifts from his Gramlin - she found some games and a carrying case for the Didj that his grandfather gave him for Christmas. A Spongebob game? Awesome! (Who taught my child how to speak like a surfer? Not me...)(much)

The racing game is neat, too...and the Dinosaur book for his Leap Pad is a coup - he had one with a malfunctioning cartridge and it frustrated him for several years...and then, when we tried to find a new one, we learned that Leap Pad isn't making this kind any more, they have a new system. Ack! Gramlin (my Mum) went on an epic search across the wilds of the Blue Nowhere and found a copy. My hero!

Mommy and Daddy (me and T) did OK, too - three books:

I look forward to reading this classic to him - and to hearing him read it to me! I can't believe I scored this for ninety-nine cents. There were quite a few copies - I could kick myself fro not buying more for my friend's kids. What was I thinking??

I think six is old enough to have a dictionary. I told him it was a magic book, full of the power of words. Yeah, I'm cheesy - but I hope he comes to love understanding words and shaping the world with them.

I got this book for ninety-nine cents, and it's awesome!! I loved reading it aloud to Bird - it has a groovy rhythm and some fantastic, fun words that roll right off the tongue. The art is funky, colorful, and brilliant. I foresee this being a favorite - of mine if not his!


Yep...more tiny pieces to unite into a diabolical design that will last ten minutes before the Evil Genius decides he can do it better with fewer bits, leaving all the extras on the floor for our feet to delight in. Eh...what the heck - he loves 'em.

He's even learning how to build things on his own, following the directions...

...and sharing with a friend. That's Littleman - he's close to Bird in age, and his mum Kit is a good friend (she even told me I could publish pictures of her kids on my blog before I had to ask!). She has two other kids:


Sweet Cheeks (here enjoying his turn to play in the Big Box o' Fun and Games, because who needs toys when you have an empty cardboard box??)...

...and Baby Man (that's Kit playing "let's see how long we can hold the baby upside-down before he goes off like a fountain at the Bellagio)(Isn't she cute?? Couldn't you just eat this family up?? Well, back off - I saw them first!!)

Kit and Bird's Grandma D both had pity on me and made contributions to his college fund rather than contributing to the toy-shop environment we live in. Sweet!

All in all, it was a good day - the boys played in Bird's room most of the time, had fun with the new toys, and didn't want the day to end. It's amazing - a year ago, they never would have played together quietly like they did today, taking turns and playing cooperatively. The grown-ups got to eat and talk without hearing shrieks of dismay, anger, or injury or refereeing a fight. Wow.

It came to a close like this:


Please ignore the messy bookshelves, pile of (clean!) laundry at the foot of the bed, various stuffed critters, unmade bed (I made it once, back in nineteen-something...) and the length of salt-dyed silk that used to be draped in the scroll work but has been knocked askew by one too many "cuddle" nights, which could more truthfully be called "future UFC champion" practice sessions.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Thoughtfetti

The Evil Genius turns six tomorrow. I am a glutton for punishment because I'm giving him even more Lego's and a pile of books for his birthday. One book is a paperback copy of one I had on my sixth birthday - A.A.Milne's Now We Are Six. I still have mine, a little worn from love and reading, and I hope he'll love his, too. He's also getting his first dictionary, a children's dictionary I scored for three bucks at a book sale!
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Today, a day when T is gone for half the day, I need to: devil eggs, prepare crudites, bake a cake, make onion dip, slice and sugar strawberries, clean the kitchen, living room, hall bathroom, and dining room, dry, fold and put away Bird's laundry and run several loads of my own (I'm out of underwear, time to do laundry. I know you needed to know that, and I hate to deprive you), clean cat boxes, clean Bird's room, sweep the stairs, clean off the kitchen table, and collapse in a corner, a whimpering mess before noon.
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How can a woman who is five feet, ten inches tall and eighty pounds larger than she oughta be feel overwhelmingly small and alone?
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I saw the moon just after dusk, a thick slice of light high above me, Venus nearby. Diana's Bow, she used to be called when she looked that way, Venus the tip of her arrow, ready to fly. Lovely, she was, and I thought about my friend K who is out of state just now, and I though "I love you under this moon" and maybe she felt it. Why not?
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I wrote over a thousand words tonight, no mean trick because I was chatting with Mum and told two people's fortunes while I was at it. A thousand words closer to done, whew.
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Holy crap, my kid's turning six. Again I ask, how the hell did that happen?? I'm glad he still hugs, cuddles, clings tight to my arm and says "Oh, I love you so much Mommy I just don't ever want to let you go!"

I love you too, little dude...oy, oy, oy.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy Blah, Blah, Blah

OK, so for the last month I have been a holiday cheerleader, wishing a happy whateveryoucelebratepleasedon'tkillme to any and all comers.

And I meant it.

I hope everyone had awesome holidays, spent with the people they loved best and full of calm, peace, and good times.

I'd be fibbing, though, if I said I was sorry it's over. I'm whupped.

Last night T, the Evil Genius and I rang in the new year by...umm...well, sleeping, to be honest. We played some games on the Wii (I won one in December, or we'd never have it - I refuse to pay that much for a game!) and had a quiet night of it. I never was one to party, so I didn't miss the champagne, loud music, and drunken groping. I'm fine with water, sound effects, and sober groping here at home where I don't have to fear drunk drivers and all their fun and games.

Today, I'm at the gallery for the day and then to Borders - the old patterns are back in place after the chaos of the holidays.

Until Saturday, anyway. The Evil Genius is turning six! How the hell did that happen??

Anyway, happy new year to you, dear reader. I hope it's one of health, happiness, and prosperity for you.