Monday, December 29, 2008

Stacking kitties

In a mostly futile attempt to keep Wally awake during the day, Kent will search out their napping spots and then bring one (usually Wally) into the other and attempt to stack them. Think Legos and you'll see what he's going for. Stacking as stacking rarely works but stacking as a method of waking up kitties is pretty successful. These three pictures show yesterday's stacking effort.





Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

This may be an ordinary wool sock to you and me, but to Wally it's a lot more.



Edited to add: Now Eddie is licking the same sock. I have no idea what's on those merino wool socks but the kitties love them.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

This is our first Christmas in Boston, and at first I thought we would have a white Christmas after getting 14 inches of snow over the weekend. Yesterday was quite cold but today the temperatures are rising, it's supposed to rain all day and tomorrow it will be in the mid-40s. I'm pretty sure our snow will be mostly gone, and what's left will probably be pretty ugly.

We are going to see the Boston Pops today at 3 PM. I hope we like it, because if we do that may end up being a little Boston tradition for us. We were able to get reasonably priced tickets, partly because the main conductor is not doing this show, and I think it's also partly because we are going in the afternoon. Tonight I'm making stuffed flounder from my trusty New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet cookbook. Tomorrow I'll make my mother's fantastic roast pork recipe, along with a port-cranberry sauce (except I use cran-raspberry juice instead of orange juice), and of course mashed potatoes. We'll have pumpkin pie for dessert because to me, pumpkin pie defines holidays. My poor daughter-in-law doesn't like pumpkin pie, which makes me feel so sorry for her!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Congratulations to my sister & her husband!

My sis Amy had her son early this morning--Schuler James Hurst weighs 6 pounds, 9 ounces which is pretty darn cool considering that he's about four weeks early. Way to go Amy!!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

more snow!

Here's the view from this morning. It's still snowing but is supposed to turn to a mix of snow and rain later today. We'll see.

Edited to add: Kent actually measured the snow on our patio table when he shoveled this morning--14 inches!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow galore

I'd planned to walk over to the post office this morning so I could mail Alison's box of clothing to her but as you can see, we got a little snow last night. And it's still snowing this morning plus it's pretty chilly. Our high is supposed to be 20 with wind chill values in the low to mid-teens. Brrr. We're on tap for up to three additional inches today and another couple tomorrow. Sorry Alison, maybe on Monday I can get it mailed.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Busy bee today

I finished Alison's second outfit which you can see here. Kent took this picture and you can see the material I used on the front facing. That dusty plum is a sort of stretch, almost smooth corduroy so it should keep her warm. As I made the pants, the legs seemed a little wide to me so we'll see how they fit.

The picture on the right shows the pants I made to go with the pinafore I made last week. The scrap of material draped across the pants is what I used to make the pinafore. I figure Alison can wear a long sleeve tee shirt under the pinafore while the weather is cooler, and then later (if she hasn't outgrown it), switch to a short sleeve shirt or even no shirt at all. Hey it gets hot in Virginia!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The video says it all

Freaky cat.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yesterday's project

I made this dress for a friend who is having her first girl after two sons. She's due January 20 so by the time she can wear this, it will be summer here.



If you take a look at the slide show on the left, you will see I was well supervised as I sewed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

OK I'm a softie

Kent sent me this link. I'll warn you, it made me tear up. I'll also warn you the song is ultra cheesy and I still teared up.

Sore!

I work out at home, partly because I'm too cheap to join a gym and partly because I'm more apt to actually work out if I can get going first thing in the morning. But I can get bored with the various DVDs I have so from time to time, I'll order new ones. As Kent has said, it's hard to know whether I'll actually like a work out until I can try it. That means I've gotten some that are real dogs (Kathy Smith salsa??) but others have become tried and true favorites.

Lately I'd been feeling as though my abs were getting flabby so I ordered Kathy Smith's Tummy Trimmers. It's got five 10-minute ab work outs on it, and that reminded me of the Ab Lab classes at the Sprint gym. I also liked that the classes were each just 10 minutes, although I did wonder how effective they would be. I love it! The only work out I won't be able to do is the one that uses a stability ball since not only do I not have one, I don't have room for one. But the other four work outs are just fantastic. And the some of them are hard.

On the kitty front, Wally has just been a spaz lately. Here are two pictures that shows what he was into yesterday. I wasn't able to get a picture of him trying hard to get into the butter dish or a picture of him knocking over the trash can, but you get the idea. The last picture is a typical Eddie pose, he's monorail cat on the back of Kent's chair.

Heat lamp kitty:


Dryer kitty:


Monorail cat:


Finally, check out Alison in her new dress. Jen said she was using the bag as a hat.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Warning, book ahead

The last 12 months were really hard. Kent and I lived apart while our KC house was on the market, and weren't sure if it would sell. I didn’t know that the recession had begun, all I knew was that I couldn't find work and worse I couldn't find opportunities I could apply for. I felt like I got the unglamorous end of the relocation stick since I was still in KC, unemployed and responsible for keeping the house in show-ready condition. As I told several of you, the highlight of my day was often deciding whether or not I would vacuum or scoop litter.

I turned to sewing as a way to get out of my own pity party, and in fact made the first dress for Alison pretty much sniffling the whole time. I know that sounds really drama queen-esque but it was a hard time and I had no idea if or when it would end. Sewing for her helped me focus on something other than myself, and it produced something useful to boot.

I mention all that because while the house did sell (hurrah!) and Kent and I are together again (bigger hurrah!), I’m still unemployed. But when I sewed the dress and pinafore for Alison last week, I had a chance to reflect on where I was mentally and emotionally and knew I was OK with things as they are. I won’t lie, I’d rather be working in my field because I do enjoy it. I don't think that is going to happen—I see the same three jobs posted to Monster in my field and none are suitable—plus I would really like to get the master’s degree in counseling.

All in all, I’ve learned a lot this last year. The biggest, most important thing I’ve learned is that Kent is beyond trustworthy. I had remnants of distrust from my first marriage and while I knew I wasn’t going to starve, I did fear potential resentment from Kent or judgment if I bought, say, a lipstick or a shirt. I don’t know why I tried to put that on him, he has shown me over the last nine years what a kind, generous, and loving man he is.

I’ve also learned I am far more than the sum of my job responsibilities. I’ve had a chance to deepen my relationships with my younger son and his wife, and reach out to people long distance to maintain the friendships that are so important to me.

I might not have learned these lessons had I stayed employed and focused on the hustle and bustle of my career. In a weird sort of way, I find myself grateful.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A new dress

I received the highest compliment anyone who sews can receive--my daughter-in-law asked me to make Alison another dress! I've made her a couple but that was in the summer, and so Jen and I looked at patterns online while we were there for Thanksgiving and picked two out. I got the material for the first one this past Saturday. Yesterday I made the dress and little bag, and today I did the pinafore.

I did make two mistakes: first I didn't get the collar lined up just right so there was a bit of a gap between the two sides. I solved that problem by putting a large button in the middle and honestly I like it better that way. The second mistake was more not realizing I was about out of thread when I was ready to make the buttonholes on the pinafore. So I didn't use the same contrast color I had been using but instead used a color that's a more subtle, background color.

Here's the finished product:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wally the weird again

He is so strange. I sewed all day today, and when he wasn't complaining that he couldn't "help" me, this is how he spent his time.

Of noses and neti pots

Something in Boston doesn't like my sinuses and I've had a lot of congestion, sneezing and general misery for the last three months. I hoped that when the temperatures dropped below freezing for a week that I would feel better, but no luck so far. Here's how bad it is: I will blow my nose and Kent and all three kitties will react to the whistles coming out of my head. Painful, really.

I'd read about neti pots (here's an article from the NY Times) and how they are supposed to help relieve congestion due to allergies or whatever. But I could never bring myself to consider really using one because after all you are basically pouring water in one nostril so it can drain out of the other one. Yuck.

This week, though, I hit rock bottom with the nose. I had a really bad fit of sneezing and snot in the middle of the grocery on Monday, and I thought OK it's time to give the neti pot a try.

I used it yesterday, and will say it's not the cure all I'd hoped for. I found it very difficult to get much water going in my nose, and didn't see much difference yesterday. But I am a little better today so I guess I'll try it again tomorrow.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

First snow!

I doubt it sticks since the temperature is above freezing now; it is supposed to go down to 17 F tonight though.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Will the box obsession ever end?

I took these this morning and stopped briefly between each to keep the file size down. They are in chronological order.

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


PS These are for you, Alison!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Decorations

Since our house was on the market last year, our realtor advised us to put up very few decorations. So most of our things stayed packed up, and then we had to get rid of a lot of them because we knew we wouldn't have a 2800 square foot house in Boston.

Here is this year's tree. Yes, it's a little ceramic tree with LED lights that flash but at least I know the kitties won't eat it, although I guess they could still knock it over and break it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Kent took some Thanksgiving pictures for Ben and Jen, and once he finished taking them, I took this video.



Ben and Jen have two kitties, Milo and Smoochie. Smoochie is named that because when they got him just over a year ago, he was a tiny kitten who would put his little nose up to your face and give you smooches. He doesn't do that any more but he's still quite affectionate, if a whole lot bigger. Both cats love to sit in the dining room window and look outside to the strawberry/raspberry patch and chitter at the birds and squirrels. Their coloring is almost exactly the same; Milo is on the left and is a dusty orange while Smoochie is on the right and has more visible tiger striping on his fur. Well and he's a really big boy.

Milo started out as Ben's kitty but as you can see, he's now all about Jen.









Finally, here's a picture I took when Kent was taking those Thanksgiving pictures I mentioned.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Curlers

Alison has very fine hair, more like her dad (and me) than her mother. And it gets a bit unruly and flyaway. So Jen usually puts it in a cute Kewpie doll ponytail at the top of her head. Yesterday she used foam rollers instead.



Alison sat in her Princess chair (which she loves) and held the bag of curlers while Jen rolled her hair.

Here she is all done. Jen didn't like it but the rest of us thought it was super cute. Also you can't really tell in the picture but Alison and I are both wearing pink.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sunglasses

Yeah I'm getting a little video happy, but as I told Kent in this video, they are better than still photos!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are in Detroit with family, and I'm sure I will have pictures and videos of our granddaughter and the kitties here. Until I get those, here's a video from Monday for you. Guess brotherly love is not so loving after all.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wally redeaux

I thought this would be about Chloe but I was wrong.

Cats and boxes yet again

Wally is such a weirdo.



More Wally plus a bit of Eddie.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Are they parrots?

Or cats? You decide.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wally would do this

Kent found this link yesterday and sent it to me with the comment that he could completely see Wally doing this. I agree. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A bored kitty is never a good thing

Yesterday Wally got into mischief while the other two kitties napped. First he attacked the Kleenex on Kent's nightstand--I heard the sound of paper tearing and found this:



Then he attacked my poor knitting project again. No pictures because I caught him before permanent damage was done. After tearing around the apartment for another 30 minutes or so, I think he got hot because then he settled down for a nap in our bedroom window. Even with a pillow in the window, it's not the warmest spot in the house because it's not sealed all that well. He doesn't seem to mind.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How Eddie gets in my lap

We worked hard to get this super short clip--Kent has tried at least four times to capture this with the camera but for a big kitty, Eddie moves fast. Usually by the time Kent has the camera turned on, Eddie has already gotten settled.

You see, Eddie has developed very specific requirements for how he prefers to be in my lap, and I think he did so because of how huge he is. He will grudgingly sit in my lap if I sit normally but what he really wants is for me to sit cross-legged in my chair. He'll eye my lap, rub his cheeks against my chair and my desk, come back to the right side of the chair (always the right side, never the left) and then do the jump, drop and roll move you see here. What the video doesn't show is how he pushes really hard with his paws against my tummy, which can sometimes be pretty uncomfortable against all the scar tissue I have from all those surgeries.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bird watching

Our kitties love to hang out in one of the living room windows or else at the back door which is by my computer desk. They have a great view of the patio and that means they can also see the birds, squirrels and other cats who drop by for visits. Kent took this video this morning and it's pretty typical of how they get completely engrossed in watching whatever's dropped by. Today's visitor was a tiny bird on the upper level of the patio.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Neglected, overlooked or forgotten recipes

I'm sure I'm not the only one to do this. I'll find a recipe and go nuts over it for a few weeks, maybe a few months and then it will just fall out of rotation. Then I forget about it. Well I went through my recipe box the other day (quick aside, do people even use recipe boxes any more?) looking for something to make since I was bored by the usual suspects. I got a nice little trip down memory lane and rediscovered a couple of favorites.

For example, I have a recipe from my mother that's a chicken, rice and swiss cheese casserole. It's really fast to make since I tend to steam a big batch of rice every week or so and also tend to keep baked chicken on hand. All that's left then is shred the cheese, saute an onion and mushrooms, add a few herbs and a dash of sherry and bake it.

Another yummy favorite also from my mother, and one that works even for people who aren't curry fans is a curry-glazed chicken dish that uses a mild curry powder with honey and Dijon mustard. It's so tasty and quick to make.

I also found yet another recipe from her that's sort of a vegetable quiche, but made with Bisquick. Did you know Bisquick now has a low fat version? I altered that recipe quite a bit by substituting diced cooked chicken for the broccoli and also adding in sauted mushrooms and onions. It's like a chicken pot pie and it turned out really well.

Finally for those of you with Joy of Cooking on your bookshelves, I made the Almond Thumbprint Cookies (in my version, it's on page 836) and did a nutritional analysis of it on Calorie Count. The recipe makes 36 cookies and each cookie is just 59 calories. Now that's a guilt-free treat in my book.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Made me laugh

And it might make you laugh, too.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Decisions, decisions

I’m coming up on almost a full year of unemployment, which is discouraging as well as boring beyond belief. For those of you who haven’t been in this situation, be very grateful. I know I didn’t appreciate how demoralizing it can be to apply for jobs for which I’m fully suited only to have my applications apparently fall into a black hole of oblivion. I’d almost rather have a negative response than no response at all.

To be honest, I haven’t seen lots of job openings. Generally when companies have to cut their budgets, training and development groups are the first to go so not only are new jobs not created, even the existing jobs tend to get cut. I’ve gone weeks with no suitable jobs coming up in my searches.

So I am looking into getting another graduate degree. When I earned my MS, I had originally planned to get an MA in counseling but learned about the degree I did get, which is in industrial/organizational psychology. I thought it would be a good degree to have because I could build on my 10 years of corporate experience, and also satisfy my strong desire to help people deal with stresses, just in a work environment.

The few projects I’ve been able to do in my field have been very satisfying, but alas the work has petered out—which is why I am rethinking the decision to not pursue counseling as a profession. I know the money won’t be great but as Kent has told me, job satisfaction counts for a lot.

In my heart of hearts, I’d prefer to get the PscychD which is a PhD in counseling (not clinical psych). I found one program but holy cow, I don’t know if I can swing the cost of three years of full time school (16 credit hours a semester) at $900 a credit hour. That’s about $30,000 a YEAR or almost $100,000 for that PhD. So I am also looking at the MAs in counseling.

If you are the praying kind, I’d take your prayers as I try to make a wise decision about how to best prepare for what I probably should have done three years ago. If you aren’t the praying kind but have advice for me, feel free to share your advice.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Eddie the cuddle bunny

He's very affectionate with me, and seeks out my lap about as soon as my butt hits the chair. Kent finally saw the new jump-drop-purr movement last night; Eddie does this special move only when I'm sitting cross-legged in my chair. He'll leap over the arm of the chair (no easy feat with a gut like his) and as soon as his paws touch my lap, he sort of curls to the right and lands on his side in as small of a ball as he can manage. He usually puts a paw over his face and goes into a deep, deep sleep. This picture is from the other day when he was being ultra snuggly:



And the brown ottoman is still prime napping real estate. Kent snapped this picture the other night:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Temperature differential and how kitties stay warm

Fall is well and truly here, although we haven’t yet had a good frost—that’s supposed to happen tomorrow night and my nose and I really hope that it does. With fall comes dropping temperatures, and although it’s not been super cold it’s been cold enough. Our stairs that lead to the front of the building are nothing but a big chimney, sending our precious warm air to collect at the top of the stairs and do us absolutely no good. So we got some curtains and hung them where the stairwell is open to the downstairs. Yesterday our high was about 40 F, so I was curious if the curtains were working as intended. We have these travel alarm clocks that also have thermometers in them, and Kent ran one up to the top of the stairs. Downstairs it was a very pleasant 70 F and at the top of the stairs it was 61! So we are glad we took the time to hang those curtains. We’ve hung similar curtains across the back door wall but I didn’t bother to take a picture of that.

Eddie deals with the colder temperatures by seeking out my lap. I took this picture which is why it looks so weird since I had to hold my arm out. He’s got his head buried in the blanket draped over the arm of the chair.

Chloe found a different solution. These pictures are all from today, she hardly moved. She’s created a real burrow there on the back of the couch and I just know the cat hair has got to be thick there now.







Thursday, October 30, 2008

Before, during and after

On the left I’ve added a before, during, and after slide show with pictures of our bedroom so you can see the progress we’ve made. I’d say that room is essentially done with the possible exception of replacing the Pergo flooring. But that’s a whole house project and not limited to the bedroom.

We’re making a project list and getting information about costs so we can start knocking off home improvement projects in a timely way. First on the list is under cabinet lighting in the kitchen. We got an estimate about six weeks ago for $1200. Yikes. So we’ll be getting second and third estimates on that project to see if that’s normal, welcome to Boston or if that particular company is the Lexus of electrical work.

The list also includes replacing the Pergo flooring if we can, and replacing the tile in the bathroom; while we think it’s really cool it’s also really dark. The same thing goes for the granite in our kitchen—black is best used in a space with lots of natural light, like our house in Kansas City.

As Kent said, a small space doesn’t equal small, easy or inexpensive home projects. You just have a lot less room in which to work.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I thought I left these days far, far behind

When Jordan was little, he got ear infections—lots and lots of them—and strep throat and stuff like that. When Ben got sick, he puked. Thankfully he didn’t get sick often, but when he did, he puked.

I thought once my sons grew up and left home that I was done with cleaning up vomit other than my own. Enter Eddie. Some cats have sensitive stomachs so they puke, and some cats are gorgers and eat until they puke. Eddie does both. We’ve been able to reduce the puke rate by switching the cats' food to a kind designed for cats with sensitive stomachs, but he does still puke.

I’ve mentioned before that Eddie likes to get on the bed in the middle of the night and meow at me so I’ll open the covers and he can crawl inside.

You can see where this is going, right? Sure enough, last night shortly after he'd gotten under the covers with us, he started to make that weird coughing noises that all species must make before gakking. Believe me, I was instantly awake at that point and unceremoniously dumped him over the side of the bed on Kent’s side. Sure enough, he puked his guts out. Kent began cleaning it up and while he was occupied with that pile, Eddie found another spot and started hurling more. So I cleaned up that one.

Eddie still doesn’t feel energetic today as you can see from this picture. He’s got his head so burrowed into my huge fluffy robe that I had to sort of moosh everything back to even get any of his face to show.


P.S. Forgot to mention that we left the paper towel on the countertop. Guess who found it? Yep, Wally's strange paper obsession continues.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Of pizza and kitties

You might remember we have a large pass-through between our kitchen and the living room. That’s also where the cook top is, which makes it very nice when one of us is cooking; the other can sit at one of the barstools and help with prep work or just chat.

Of course the cats love to get up on that counter. By cats I mean Eddie and Wally, because I don’t think Chloe has a naughty bone in her body. We will get up and chase the cats off the counter and usually (but not always) they act as though they didn’t really mean to get up there.

Last night Kent was slicing up our pizza toppings, which included some salami and anchovies. Well oh my goodness that brought the boys running and they were far bolder than normal. At first they sat on the bar stools and watched but then Wally figured he would just come get some of those yummy tasty treats.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The right tool makes all the difference

Kent is fond of saying that, usually with his cordless drill in hand. He’ll punctuate it by revving the drill a couple of times. But he’s right, when you have the right tool then the task becomes a lot easier.

That segue leads nicely into talking about my running jacket, which looks something like this. Mine is actually from Nike but the idea is the same. This jacket isn’t my cold weather running jacket but a layering piece that blocks wind and is water resistant. I got it last fall at the outlet mall in Kansas City, KS and about croaked because it cost $80. Eighty dollars for what looked like a glorified wind breaker! Well let me tell you my jacket is amazing. It really does keep rain and wind out and also keeps my sweat from getting cold on windy runs.

Yesterday morning when I ran, it was about 45 F, a bit windy and also lightly raining. So I especially appreciated the jacket. Now I’d have to say my $80 was well spent.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Walter!

When my children were little—heck when I was little—using the full name meant someone was in serious trouble. If my mother used my full name, I generally went running for a place to hide. Today Wally had better consider that option.

It’s partly Kent’s fault, though. Just this weekend he remarked that the boy kitties seemed to be settling in and weren’t being such noisy terrors at night. Naturally ever since then they’ve been determined to prove him wrong. I say they but really it’s Wally.

Last night he:
•Knocked over the wire trash can.
•Knocked over the paper shredder bin.
•Jumped up onto the top shelf of a five-foot book case to grab the bag that holds my knitting.
•“Investigated” a paper bag we left out—loudly too.

You get the idea. Today my mission is to wake his furry butt up every time I see him sleeping. He’s already been giving me the stink eye but too bad. Tonight I sleep or else he’ll be in a pet carrier.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Eddie better watch out

I love Ikea, the furniture is very clever and more than that, you can take the various pieces and come up with creative ways to use them for other than what Ikea intended. In fact there’s a whole blog devoted to these “hack” and Kent and I marvel at how clever people are with their ideas. This blog is devoted to pet hacks, so take a look.

If you scroll down in that blog, you’ll see how someone else solved the fat cat problem. I giggled at the caption on one of their pictures that says slim cat gets to eat. That idea appealed to us because we too have a very fat cat. Behold Eddie in all his glory:



So if Eddie's not careful, we may end up creating our own version of the Fat Cat Feeding System just for him.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Knitting stinks

When I was a little girl, my grandmother tried to teach me to knit. I must have been younger than 5th grade because I learned to sew that year and I don’t recall that I knew how to sew when she tried to teach me to knit. I say tried because she cast on for me and showed me how to knit two, perl two (I think) and turned me loose. Well I am really quite good at somehow adding stitches as I go and my poor little scarf grew from the normal 28-stitch width to over double that size in about 10 rows. The thing looked absolutely retarded.

I’ve been intimidated by knitting ever since. I’ve sewn lots of clothes, made curtains, bedspreads, dolls, doll clothes, lined coats, done counted cross-stitch but have avoided knitting all these years.

My friend Sabrina made me a really cool scarf last year to go with my new down coat, and I was so impressed, I thought OK I will give this a try. I managed to procrastinate starting until a few weeks ago when I realized that yet again I’d let a ball of yarn scare me. So I bought Knitting for Dummies, a skein of yarn in what they call dark blue, and a pair of size 8 knitting needles, and I fearlessly dived right in.

What a pain in the booty. Seriously! How do people make all those cool socks and hats and sweaters and stuff? I am still fantastic at adding stitches and what you see here has had more than a few rows pulled out and done over. Only for Alison would I ever consider doing something so dang tedious.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Catching up

I’ve been remiss in keeping up with the Kitty Tales, so here are a few vignettes from the last week.

First up is a picture of the boys the day Uncle Doug and Kim left. They were exceptionally excited that we had visitors and bounced all over the apartment, Uncle Doug, Kim, us, furniture—well you get the idea. And since the weather was nice, we left windows open and they saw nocturnal creatures to hiss and get righteously upset with that night. They were completely wiped out and stayed this way all day long.

I don’t have a picture of this next story, mostly because I was too taken aback it was occurring to even think about getting my camera. We’d bought a wicker/woven basket with a lid on it that’s large enough to store kitty toys, extra litter, the plastic bags we use to scoop into, that sort of thing. But I don’t like the cardboard boxes that the litter comes in since they aren’t very sturdy and are apt to dribble litter everywhere, which is annoying. So I bought a plastic bin with a lid that snaps on, thinking I’d use that for storing the clean litter. I’d filled up the bin with the remnants of a box of litter and left the room for maybe two minutes. I returned to find Eddie squatting in the bin, peeing his brains out. As Kalea remarked, that one was entirely my fault.

Next here's Wally and his "sun" lamp. I say that because any time it gets even slightly chilly in the apartment, or at least cooler than a kitty likes, he will seek out any lamp that's on and huddle under it. He prefers the lamps on either side of the couch but I think the reason is two-fold: the lamps are closer to him and also the couch is pretty comfy.

Finally here’s a picture of Wally from this morning. I’d just gotten the sheet out of the dryer so it’s all soft and warm and that expression on his face is exactly the way he looked. I bet it was like kitty heaven to him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First visitors!

We had our first visitors last week! My Uncle Doug and his daughter Kim stayed with us Thursday night on their way to Maine. She’s been living in New York City for the last eight years and is returning to San Antonio TX to stay with him for a while.

It turns out I come by my crazy cat lady ways honestly. I had forgotten that Uncle Doug feeds a bunch of feral and semi-feral cats twice a day and has gotten them fixed and also named them. He says he’s not a cat person, that he’s just continuing what Aunt Sonya did before she died but I’m not buying that excuse. There’s too much affection and concern in his voice when he talks about the kitties—they have names like Wampus, little Gray Kitty, and the one that still tickles me, the Hill Kitties. He says the Hill Kitties stay perched out on the small hill in his back yard and never approach the food while he’s outside. So yeah, I think Uncle Doug is a crazy cat lady too.



The new slide show on the left occurred as we were getting the sleeping arrangements set up for Uncle Doug and Kim. Kim used a sleeping bag, which is what's draped over the chair. Eddie thought it was a great hiding spot, and so did Wally. You can watch the progression as Wally muscles Eddie right off the chair to claim his prize.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A couple of interesting (to me anyway) links

The company Kent works for is ultimately owned by Time Warner, which means we can get a lot of magazines pretty cheaply. I say that to explain how it is we think Runner’s World appeared in our mailbox. I certainly wouldn’t have subscribed to it, since I just run, I’m not a Runner™. Kent doesn’t recall ordering it, but then again he didn’t remember ordering Food & Wine either until it appeared in our mailbox, too.

But I’m an avid reader and pretty much anything goes. Well the first article I read was the third column called Newbie. Apparently it’s by a man in his 40s who decided he would learn to run. This column was pretty funny so I’m including a link to the first article here and the second one here.

I also read an article on cost cutting if you are in debt. I do a lot of these but not all and figured you might find it interesting too.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Happy birthday, Kerry

Kerry is my best friend and it's super easy to remember her birthday, since it's the day after my anniversary. She told me at our reception that it was like a giant birthday party for her. I always liked that.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy anniversary, Kent

Five years ago today, Kent and I got married at Pilgrim Chapel in Kansas City, MO. He likes to say that he’s the winner, but the truth is that I am. Let me share a few things with you and then I think you’ll agree I am really the fortunate one.

While the last five years have been pretty challenging, those challenges have been external and not from the relationship. We’ve moved three times, I’ve had major surgery three times along with some health issues that lingered for a year, and I’ve gotten a master’s degree—and he’s been right there with me through all of it.

I’ve told him this before, and I’m sure I will tell him again and again. I had no idea marriage could be fun, and I’ve never been loved so thoroughly and so unconditionally.

Sometimes I forget I was married to someone else for 16 years, I’ll turn to him to say “hey do you remember when we did . . . oh wait, I wasn’t married to you then.” It’s a cool thing to feel like he’s always been part of my life.

So happy anniversary to us! I am so thankful I got over my fear and I’m so glad he didn’t snub me when I finally did.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Look closely

I left the right door to my wardrobe open this morning. I just went to get a pair of socks (it's a little chilly in the house) and found Chloe on the bed per usual and Eddie had just been on my lap so I knew where he was. I didn't see Wally but noticed one of my shoes had been knocked out of the wardrobe. Ah ha!

Here's a close up in case you missed it. That will teach me to close the doors in the morning.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Another hidey-hole

My desk is really cool because when I close all the doors, it resembles a small sideboard, not a piece of office furniture. I mention my desk because yesterday I heard weird noises coming from there.

On the sliding shelf above the file drawer, you can see my printer, and a couple of notebooks. I hid a power strip/surge protector behind that and use it to plug in everything, including my laptop. This laptop is a desktop replacement so it's pretty big and weighs almost 10 pounds. As you might expect, the power supply is big--think brick and you'll have the right idea. That brick puts out nice heat, too. In Kansas City, I used to slip off my shoes and put my feet on the power supply brick during the winter because it kept my feet warm.

Wally likes small enclosed places and now that it's cold, I guess he's liking the heat too. Yes, it was Wally making the noises in my desk. I know he's not a huge cat, but I am still baffled how he got in there without knocking out any of the notebooks.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Happy birthday to Chloe!

OK it’s not really her birthday, but it is the seventh anniversary of the day I brought her home, and at the time my vet estimated she was about a year old. So I think she is eight years old.

Miss Chloe was abandoned by her first owner (moron!) and the rescue organization placed her with a foster family to see if she had any issues. Apparently she was deathly timid about everyone and everything, and hated other cats with the white-hot passion of 10,000 suns. She so hated other cats that the foster mother made sure I had no other pets in the home.

I met her at an adoption clinic at Petsmart or Petco, one of those two places, and the tag on her cage said “very shy, won’t approach you, ask for help.” Being the kitty lover that I am, I put a finger in her cage and she came right to me and rubbed on my hand. When taken out of the cage, she completely snuggled up to me and purred like a maniac. So much for deathly timid with me! I’ve come to realize that she doesn’t actually like to be picked up—although she will camp on my lap for hours at a time, and in fact is doing so as I type this entry—so her behavior that day was completely out of character for her. I like to flatter myself that she did it because she was picking me to be her human.

She's come a long way in her attitude toward other cats. She tolerated Sammie, our kitty who died of FIP in 2007, mostly by ignoring him. Eddie and Wally are not to be ignored, as you might imagine, and although I haven't yet seen a true kitty pile with her involved, she does play and scamper with them. She also never hesitates to kick their kitty butts when they pester her too much.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Addendum

I've tried uploading this video four times, and Blogger keeps hanging up. It's too bad, because it's of Wally with the toy mouse we got at Ikea. Wally just goes nutty over the mouse, and at the end, Eddie just reaches down and bites Wally hard. In fact he pulled some fur out. I think he was jealous. I'll try uploading later today.



Woohoo, success!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fun with Ikea

Today we bought the pieces and parts to assemble our two wardrobes. In addition to really needing a little more storage, I was most anxious to get my clothes out of the other closet and into our bedroom. We planned to pick up the U Haul cargo van about 9 AM and get to Ikea when they opened at 10. Ha.

U Haul took 45 minutes alone. The reservation system isn't the best and the people manning the desk were all fairly new. That meant we didn't get to Ikea until 10:30. Fortunately no one else got moving early so we were able to knock off the items on our list and head to the check out. Ouch.

Would you care to guess how much we "stimulated" the economy today? We dropped almost $1300. That got us a lidded basket for storing cat toys and litter supplies, a small trash can for outside to hold the used litter offerings, a cat toy (more about that later), an office storage cart for Kent, and of course all the pieces for our new wardrobes.

Getting home was fine, even though that cargo van turned like a semi--well really, that's probably insulting to semis everywhere. But we got home, unloaded everything and headed off to turn in the van. This time the reservation system was entirely down, and so the process took another 45 minutes. Ultimately we didn't start putting everything together until 2 PM.

Of course the cats were all very interested in the packages. I'm not sure if I've mentioned before how very much Eddie likes to eat cardboard. While dark, I think you can still see what he's doing here in this video. He does this with every cardboard box he runs across. I wonder if a veterinary school would be interested in researching how strange my cats are.

Evil, evil crackers

Since moving to Boston, I've discovered Doctor Kracker organic & artisan backed crackers. I get the Klassic 3 seed snackers and holy cow they are good. Kent likes them too. In fact we both like them a little too much. I bought a box yesterday and as I sit here this morning, there are maybe four little squares left. No more crackers for us for a while.

Well at least until I go to the store again.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm lucky

I've heard unpleasant stories from friends of mine about their mothers-in-law, and each time I do, I'm grateful again for my mother-in-law. Since the first time she met me, she's been nothing but kind, accepting and loving to me. I feel as much a part of her family as I do my own.

Let me tell you a quick story that illustrates how Ardis is. I took a long time to finish college. I'd started back in 1989 and then dropped out the fall of my senior year. My first marriage was collapsing, my older son had just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and frankly school was my last priority. I started back in 1999, taking a class or two each semester and finally finished in May 2003.

Ardis and Kent's aunt JB drove the four hours from Tulsa to be at my graduation, and then turned around and drove home. That's a lot of driving in one day just to get broiled in the sun at Memorial Stadium on the KU campus. And it was HOT, we all got sunburns and sweated buckets.

I was just blown away she would do that for someone who wasn't yet married to her son. That's just one reason I consider her my role model in how to be the kind of mother-in-law you want to have around, not the kind you make jokes about.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hahaha!

I was looking for a different picture (of a person, not the kitties) and ran across this. Hilarious, I guess he grew into his ears.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why did the chicken cross the cat?

This entry will feature Eddie, mostly because he tolerates the chicken hat the best AND because I got some decent pictures of him for once.

First, in this picture I think he's getting ready for the lady cats.


I haven't tossed this box yet because he enjoys "hiding" in it so much.


Finally, here's Eddie in an encore presentation of the Chicken Hat.


(I think he secretly likes the hat . . . )

Monday, September 29, 2008

We are mean

And if the Cat Nanny ever sees these videos, she might not watch our kitties again. I saw the hat on a display at Target that was filled with dog costumes for Halloween. This hat was designed for cats and had a cut out of a cat head in it. I couldn't resist.



Eddie actually tolerated the hat better.



Chloe just looked like we were torturing her so I won't embarrass her by posting her video.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The task that grew or how we organized one of our two closets

Having been a project manager, I do love to make task lists. Kent accuses me of scope creep in that I’ll say we are going to do some task and then I (sneakily) add on. While that’s true sometimes, it wasn’t true yesterday. The task at hand was just huge all by itself.

We have just two closets in our apartment and both are pretty big. We’d already organized the one in our bedroom because we had to when we replaced the damaged dry wall. But we’d just thrown things into the closet under the stairs. I was confident we could get more in there and also be able to get things out more easily if we restacked everything. So that was on my list for yesterday. In addition, we have those few pesky boxes left to sort through and figure out where the contents go. That was on my list too.

The slide show on the left will give you some hint of the amount of crap stuffed in that closet. We went through all the boxes and got utterly ruthless with things. Wally kept hopping from box to box, looking all cute so I had to keep grabbing my camera and getting pictures of the cuteness.

We did finish the closet (hurrah!) but it took all day. And one unexpected outcome was poor Eddie lost his perch by Kent’s desk. He seemed really bereft last night, and cried and cried even more than he normally does.

Finally, Kent took this video last night. I’ll warn you, its two minutes long and kind of boring, but it’s also very typical of how the boys groom each other. At one point, Wally bites Eddie’s throat because Eddie stops grooming him. That’s brotherly love for you.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It’s the end of the world

As we know it, and I feel fine. Mom, this blog entry is for you.

Last night Kent and I finally got to have dinner at Franklin Café. We’d heard good things about it from our realtor, Paul, who also warned us that it tends to fill quickly and you can’t make reservations. We got there about 6:30 and snagged the last table, which was by the window. That made for chilly eating but great people watching.

Kent had the steak frites and I had the roasted chicken, which came with brussel sprouts. My mother can attest to my extreme dislike for most strong-tasting vegetables, and brussel sprouts definitely fall into that category. But I decided that if the nasty sprouts were just on the side, in other words not actually incorporated into the chicken, I could work around them. The server assured me they were a side dish and furthermore that they were amazingly good. I remained skeptical but thought well maybe it’s time to give the sprouts another taste. I told Kent I would taste them if he would and he immediately said no way.

Dear me, our server was not lying. As I recall, sprouts have always tasted exactly like nasty little cooked cabbages, which I still dislike. But these had not a hint of that flavor—they’d been thinly sliced and quickly sautéd, probably in olive oil, and had salt and pepper and some other savory seasonings on them. Seriously they were good. Kent had a taste and agreed, then I ate the rest.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The strange cat

Actually we have two cats that roam around our patio. I haven't been able to get a picture of the other one, it's pretty big and all white and moves really fast. Both Eddie and Wally hiss at it when they see it.

This is the ginger cat I mentioned yesterday that Eddie was hollering about. I was amazed at how bold this guy was, he stuck his head through the security bars to try to peer into our back door. I got this picture and one other one that has a sliver of his backside as he slunk away. When I've walked through the alley on my way to the store, I've seen this guy and always call him. He never comes but he also doesn't run away, so I think he's been around people a lot. I'm not sure that's true for the white cat. He was skulking around this morning but before I could get my camera turned on, he'd zipped away.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Crazy cat

I was going to tell you about the ginger and white cat who roams around outside, not sure if he's feral or just an outdoor cat. Eddie and he went eye to eye this morning through the window with the air conditioner in it. The outside cat stood on top of the air conditioner outside while Eddie stood on top of it in the house as they hollered at each other. But this afternoon as is often the case, Wally upstaged Eddie.

Kent got in this morning after being gone for most of the month. Because he was gone so long and had to take his suits, he ended up taking the ultra huge suitcase. Before he headed into the office, he did unpack but he left the suitcase out. Wally found it and you can see what happened in the two pictures.





I think Wally was looking for presents but all he found was a ticket stub which he's been batting around the apartment.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pictures are worth a thousand words

And here's how Wally does it (with bonus help from Eddie).

First, here's the toilet. I don't know that he would have figured this out if the handle were on the front of the tank. But it's on the side and you push it down toward the floor to flush.



Next, you see Wally in position and working the lever.



Finally, here's Eddie trying to help. In fact, just a moment later he got up on the back of the toilet to see what the fuss was about but didn't have a clue what to do.



This afternoon, Wally used his lil head to push the handle. He never actually gets it fully flushed so when I hear the toilet running, I know what he's been doing. Kent gets home tomorrow, so I'll have him show me how to turn my camera to the movie clip mode and see if I can get a video of him doing it. I swear Wally likes to be photographed.