Thursday, December 27, 2012

Double feature

The first video is a montage of how the kitties reacted to their new, ultra swanky lounger from Kerry and Brad. We sprinkled cat nip on it because at first they were pretty wary of it.

And you can think of this second video almost as an outtake, or perhaps just more proof that Eddie can be a bit of a bully.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A kitty rumble

First, merry Christmas from all of us to you. I hope you are spending today with those you love.

Second, Eddie and Wally aren't so good at the whole brotherly love thing. Even though they're litter mates, they sometimes fight like . . . uh cats and dogs.

Here they are yesterday, on Christmas Eve:

Told you  Eddie gets piggy with the cat perch.

Monday, December 24, 2012

He's not fat, he's . . . fat

Another cat in a box picture:

And just for context and so you can truly see that no, no he doesn't fit in this box at all:

That box is missing part of the side, the part where you see Eddie's body coming out. Kent cut that bit out to put over the power strip he uses for his desk computer and light because Wally has figured out how to turn off the power.

You may think I'm exaggerating that cat's intelligence, but I'm not. He gets bored and will first try to get our attention by pawing at the front of Kent's CPU. If that doesn't work or he doesn't like the results (he's usually looking for a specific toy and we don't always get it right), he's been walking to the back of the CPU where the power strip is on the floor and then turning the power off. Well as you might imagine, that gets him attention right away . . . although I'm pretty sure it's not the kind of attention he's looking for.

And here are a couple of pictures that show how Eddie will try to force Wally off the top perch by way of his size:

The top perch is the smaller of the two perches -- you can see the second perch under Eddie but he doesn't want the bigger, lower perch. He wants the top perch.

Wally looks pretty squished, doesn't he?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Utterly random

First, a cat in a box:

And second, my hair's been long enough to braid for a while although I just got around to having Kent take a picture:

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Is losing the last 1/8 cup measuring cup from my set of Foley cups.

You may remember I wrote about the search for Foley cups. Since they are out of business, finding those measuring cups was not easy. And now we've lost both of the 1/8 cups. The handle on one cup just flat fell off, and this one didn't survive a close encounter with the disposal.

Alas, poor measuring cup!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pigs on parade

When we were in Smithfield a couple of weeks ago, we saw some of the pigs that make up their Porcine Parade. Gotta say I was tickled by the piggies and it reminded me of the cows in Kansas City (Kansas City participated in the cow parade in 2001).

So enjoy and maybe throw in an oink or two.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas decorations

If you celebrate Christmas, do you decorate your house? Put up a tree? Maybe use different plates?

I’ve written about this before, I know. But for someone who usually decorates, I haven’t done much in the last six years.
  • In 2007, we’d put our house up for sale so no decorations were allowed.
  • We spent our first Christmas in Boston in 2008, and did manage to find a ceramic tree that ended up getting knocked off the table and breaking. That’s cats for you.
  • 2009 was a challenge all the way around because we’d recently flooded and were living in a temporary place while our home underwent extensive renovations. Kent convinced me we should spend money we didn't really have to get a little tree made of Christmas decorations. 
  • In 2010, we went to Oklahoma for Christmas, I was traveling pretty much 100% and didn’t see any point to put up things only the cats would see and probably destroy. And apparently I was so swamped, I didn’t even write a blog post about Christmas that year, except my not-very-subtle hint to Kent about Despicable Me.
  • Last year, Kent surprised me with a tiny live tree which had little colored lights and teeny tiny decorations. That was pretty cool. We put up other decorations too but couldn’t hang our ornaments on the tiny tree (it was about 18 inches tall).
  • This year, we figured we wouldn’t put up the tree we bought after Christmas last year.* We’re moving in the middle of January and thought we’d save ourselves the hassle. We also feared  that Wally and Eddie would either eat the tree (remember, Wally loves plastic) or knock it over or both.

But after the events of last week in Connecticut and China, I realized I really truly did want to celebrate almost as a way of defying such evil events. I asked around about cat deterrents, found the recommended product and sprayed the snot out of the lower third of the tree. We strategically hung decorations no lower than about 18 inches off the floor and used soft ornaments at the lower levels. So far, Eddie’s tried to eat a branch just once, and both have stayed out of it.  

And now we have a place to put our presents. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

*Yes, I like live trees too, but I'm also aware of my own limitations. I remember to give the cats fresh water every day but they are quite vocal in their reminders. Trees don't really have that ability.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Boring stories of glory days

I’d already posted about my favorite Christmas music when Harriet decided to host this holiday blog go round; if you'd rather read about my four favorites plus a bonus fifth song, they're right here. Otherwise, I'll tell you a story.


So far, we've heard from:

Harriet at spynotes
Hugh at Permanent qui vive
Jeanne at Necromancy never pays
Cranky at It’s My Blog!
Readersguide at Reader’s Guide to…
Freshhell at Life in Scribbletown

Over the years I've played so many Christmas or holiday concerts that I feel a little immune to the wonders of the music. It's like watching a show from backstage, you see all the less glamorous stuff that goes on behind the curtains. And really, once you've played Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride 100 times, it gets pretty old and it's just not as much fun (unless the percussion section screws up the whip sounds, in which case it's fun in a painful sort of way).

Years ago, when I was still an oboist but could see the end of that thanks to my arm, I'd started singing more frequently although I avoided the so-called serious genres of music. I stuck mostly to rock or pop music unless specific music was requested for the gig. Although I’d been an oboist for a couple of decades, I didn’t have nearly as much vocal training as I’d had on my instrument so I was intimidated by singing anything more legitmate. I’ve watched plenty of singers who aren’t well trained try to do that, and to me it’s like putting on clothes that don’t quite fit. I was also still adjusting to not having the instrument to hide behind, and on top of that, my voice teacher refused to let me sing alto any more. "Like most women, you're a chickenshit soprano," she said.


That particular year, I'd done all the usual Christmas concerts both for the military, college and church. But we'd also scheduled a Sunday evening recital at church with the vocalists choosing what they wanted to sing. I figured I'd been studying voice for a while and my voice was in pretty good shape and besides, I wanted to try something new (and above the staff). So with my newfound vocal bravery or perhaps it was just pure foolishness, I picked an aria from The Messiah, I Know That My Redeemer Liveth. Then another singer asked if I’d sing a duet with her, also from The Messiah, And He Shall Feed His Flock. I was very flattered, she had some serious vocal chops so I said yes. 

Please don’t think for a moment that I believe my voice sounded anything like what you’ll hear in this clip or the next one. Because it most certainly did not. But I didn’t shame myself.

And I didn’t shame myself in the duet either.

That recital was a pivotal event for me. I was in my early 30s, and had been told that fall that the tendonitis I'd developed from being an oboist wasn’t going to go away, that the damage I’d already sustained was probably permanent and that I needed to stop playing. I’d been so nervous, felt so inadequate as I started doing more singing but that night showed me it would be OK. Even though singing would never be as satisfying as performing on oboe, I realized there was life for me post-oboe and my fear needed to go. So that recital marked the beginning of the end of my deep sadness over losing something that had been part of my life for a couple of decades. 

This is the eighth blog post about holiday music. Next up is My Kids' Mom at Pook and Bug. After My Kids' Mom, we have:

joyhowie at The Crooked Line
Magpie at Magpie Musing
And the bow on the package will be  a wrap up by Harriet at spynotes

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Only partially dead

I took this photo Monday morning before I left for work. I love that both of the greys are curled up in such strange, dead cat poses.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Family history

We flew to Virginia Saturday for a surprise party for Ben. He's completed seminary and in fact took his oral exams that day (he passed!).

About six or eight months ago, when it was clear he'd be finishing this year, I knew I wanted to give him my grandfather's childhood Bible. For the most part, I'm the family historian among my siblings -- it's not that they don't care about our family history, it's just a lot more important to me. So I've collected various family odds and ends and as I've had the appropriate occasion, I've passed them along. For example, I saved both of my mother's childhood tea sets and gave one to my sister Amy and the other one to my sister Martha.

I'd gotten G'Pa's Bible after he died at age 95 in 2005 and just hung on to it. It's in remarkably good shape, only the binding is damaged. It's clear that this Bible was intended for children, but not because it's in some simplified language. It's not, it's a King James version, but it's got illustrations sprinkled throughout. And at the very end of the Bible, after the Book of Revelations, there's a page that says "End." That just tickles me.

Anyway, I had Kent take a picture of the inscription page. I'm pretty sure that G'Pa's sister is Anna Margaret  Wood. She was a few years older; G'Pa would have been seven the year he received this. Now it's in Ben's hands, which is where it belongs. Not only has he completed seminary, he also collects old books and Bibles, and he too is the family historian of his generation.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Brown paper packages

We shipped some things from Virginia since we didn't bring extra suitcases. The packing paper was of great interest to the cats. I love the bit at the very end when Eddie tries to groom Wally.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A big milestone

And I almost missed it.

Take a look at our family photo from two years ago:

Here's last year's picture: 

And here's the photo from this year:

Do you see the difference? Miss Alison is a big girl now, she wasn’t held by anyone.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A few of my favorite things

One of my friends on Facebook asked what our favorite Christmas songs or carols are. And I couldn’t just give a title. There are reasons these songs make my tops list,

Little Drummer Boy. In 7th grade, I switched from playing flute to oboe which was probably the best musical decision I ever made. I know I’m not the only one to believe that personalities and instruments have to match. If you like being in a group, you should play something like flute, clarinet, violin or viola. If you don’t mind standing out, or even positively want to stand out, then consider the double reeds – oboe, English horn, bassoon. So the oboe was a good fit for me.

Every year, the junior high advanced band would play Little Drummer Boy at the Christmas concert (this was when Moby Dick was a minnow so the concerts were still called that), and that arrangement had an oboe duet right at the beginning. Now I’d only been playing oboe for about six or seven weeks so I was still really learning what it meant to be a double reed player, and I wasn’t in the advanced band, I was in the beginner band. But the advanced band had just one oboist so I was tapped to play second oboe in that piece. I’m sure we sounded like dying ducks but I was so exhilarated by playing that piece and so convinced of my pure awesomeness on the oboe that I never looked back.

Breath of Heaven. I heard this piece about 20 years ago on Amy Grant’s second Christmas album and along with most CCM listeners, was captivated by the words and the melody. Amy has said before that she’s not the best singer and knows there are other artists out there who are far more talented than she, but to me her voice fits this piece perfectly. I love that she’s singing from the perspective of a young, scared, very pregnant Mary wondering why she was picked to be the mother of Christ and whether or not she can actually do it.

‘twas da Night: Take 6 did an amazing version of this old favorite which made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it and hasn’t stopped being entertaining since. Plus they’re just amazing vocalists.

Carol of the Bells. I flat out love this song whether it’s done as an instrumental or vocal version.

Chant Noel. OK, this isn’t one song, it’s an entire Christmas CD put out by the Benedictine Monks about 20 years ago as a follow up to their first CD. I don’t know Latin at all but I still love this CD and it’s on my Christmas playlist.

And here's something I posted on Facebook yesterday, which is well worth the four minutes it takes to watch:

What about you? What are your favorite Christmas songs?