31 December, 2006
Today is the day we celebrate the birthday of Miss Billie Holiday Kitty. We don't know when her "real" birthday is, so we celebrate it on 31 December, the day she came home to live with Simon and me. She got a new bed, though, for now, she prefers having her old manky bed sitting on top of it (don't tell her, but once we get her scent integrated into the new bed, the old manky one is outta here!). She also got a "house mouse" with catnip, though Simon managed to appropriate it for his own pleasure. And, best of all, Simon is expressly forbidden from harrassing her in any way today (and, so far, he seems to be cooperating).
The past five years have been a real roller-coaster in my relationship with Billie. I've lost count of the number of times that I've wondered if keeping her here is the best thing for her and every time that question enters my mind, my heart shatters. Somehow, though, we always get through the difficult times. We still have our bad days (well, weeks) where she'll pee or poot where she's not supposed to (i.e., my bed...oh that was a Very Bad Week), and there are times when she and Simon will fight so bitterly and then she'll turn her anger on me. But she's learned that she can be bad, she can have an absolute shit day and be a total Biting Screeching Banshee Bitch Troll...but I won't turn her out. I suspect that the reason she was picked up as a stray in Oakland might well have been because she threw one tantrum too many and her previous family put her out and never opened the door again.
But that hasn't happened here. As bad as it's gotten sometimes, she is always loved, and she has finally come to believe in that. She knows that, even when her behaviour is unacceptable, she still gets to be loved for who she is and she still has a very important place in our home. And, ultimately, that's turned her into a very loving, sweet kitty who now has so much more confidence than she had five years ago. She is finally comfortable enough to know she can come to me for comfort and she actually enjoys a quick snuggle (up until 5-6 months ago, trying to snuggle her would get you growled at and/or scratched and bitten). And she has a lot more confidence in joining in with interactive play (though she is still figuring that all out).
It has been such a reward over the past year to watch Billie become a cat who gives love freely and not because she's afraid of being put out if she doesn't "make nice". We know the days ahead may not always be easy, but we know we'll get through them and that our relationship will be stronger. And that makes the good days even better.
Happy Birthday, my Angel Girl!
29 December, 2006
In case you were wondering what all of the fuss was about, I was (impatiently) awaiting my new Canon Digital Rebel XTi. So far, I'm really enjoying it (and, yes, I've taken several shots of the furkids which will all show up here sooner or later).
I also got the "cheap" 70-300mm lens, which, I'm discovering, is good for getting shots like this gorgeous hawk, and also for some portraiture, where I don't want to be right in someone's face.
I haven't completely sold my soul to digital. In fact, it was quite a struggle deciding between this system and getting a medium format film camera. What the decision came down to was Time and Space. To deal with a medium format system, I'd have to get a scanner that can deal with medium format negatives. Cost-wise, it was a push (a new digital rig + a couple of lenses vs. a medium format + a scanner), but I don't have any space to keep a scanner, and it would take so much more time than simply plugging the camera into a USB port and downloading.
The XTi is the 10-megapixel model, so, I think, it's a good investment for me in that I can get some decent, large-sized prints from my image files and it won't feel technologically obsolete in six months.
I'm really happy with the 70-300mm zoom lens. Considering it's the "cheap" model (not the fancy-schmancy USM-IS-go-and-fetch-my-tea-for-me one), it really gets some nice sharp images. I haven't played around with the 18-55mm "kit" lens, yet, so I don't have an opinion one way or the other on that other than it's very very light.
The only hiccup I've had was not being able to run the "Digital Photo Professional" program that comes with the camera that processes RAW files into either TIFF or JPG. It seems that any and all of the RAW conversion programs I looked at required a minimum of 512k RAM and this old eMac has but 256k. However, I discovered a way to process RAW images through the Image Browser that came on the same CD, so I can procrastinate on the RAM stick a little bit longer.
27 December, 2006
When someone requests a package be sent 2nd Day Air, that is a pretty good indication that that person is in a freaking hurry to get said package. Therefore, hanging onto that package until the end of the business day is a REALLY BAD IDEA. Especially when the recipient has had only 2.5 hours of sleep, has dragged herself to the office after riding a ferry that was tossed around on San Francisco Bay like a piece of driftwood and the only reason she dragged her sleep-deprived, slightly seasick body in today was because her package would come...and she remembered they usually get deliveries in the morning. And, lo! There was one delivery from UPS to the office this morning THAT WASN'T HER FUCKING PACKAGE!!!
At 2:30 p.m., the recipient is now quite sorry she resisted the urge to break into the UPS truck in the alley way and rifle through the packages to see if one of them might be HERS. After 6-1/2 hours of waiting, the recipient would just as soon cock-punch your driver as sign for her package.
That is all (for now).
As the Peralta was being tossed (I think we may have been airborne at one point) about on San Francisco Bay in this morning's wicked storm, I had Echo and the Bunnymen cranked up. Had I not had the iPod, I would surely have had the theme from Gilligan's Island running a demon loop through my head.
23 December, 2006
Simon, Billie and I wish you all a Very Happy Holiday Weekend. May you all be safe and happy and may every furkid get all of the toys and treats on his or her Wish List.
(*Simon Sunday is going up a few hours early because Mom's Sunday is booked solid and we wanted to give a shout out to all y'all...)
So we've had THREE earthquakes since Wednesday evening, and all three have been centered in virtually the same spot. Wednesday and Friday night's scored a 3.7 but this morning's got only a 3.5 from that damn French judge (boo! fix! shenannigans!).
Anyway, it's all starting to creep me out and the cats are SO DONE with earthquakes. (Actually, now that I type that, I wonder if all that rumbly activity is why they've been so pissy at each other all week...)
22 December, 2006
You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion* but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.
What is Your World View?
created with QuizFarm.com
21 December, 2006
Strolling along Thompson Ave. in Alameda reminded me of the Christmases my mom and I would stroll along Peacock Lane in Portland. One year, when my friend Colleen was visiting from Australia, we had snow, which made it about as perfect a Holiday Experience as we could get.
Thompson Avenue didn't have snow...but it sure felt like it could snow! It was great fun, hanging out with fellow Flickr friends, shooting and freezing our asses off before settling into the always-chaotic La Piñata for a late supper.
But then, when I came home and it was so late, I thought I'd rewind my film before going to bed because I knew I'd forget to do it before leaving for work the next morning. So, naturally, the rewind knob on my Pentax MX (a.k.a. "Old Faithful") broke off in my hand. After many attempts to stick it back on, pleading with it, cursing it and threatening to throw the whole damn camera across the room, I tearfully gave up and went to bed. It's now at Adolph Gasser's where they're going to try to repair the rewind knob AND (pleeeeaseeee!!!) save the roll of film I shot along Thompson (a.k.a. Christmas Tree Lane).
17 December, 2006
Simon had a very busy and stressful week last week. In the 5-1/2 years we've been together, he's only seen me really sick once or twice, last week's adventure being the worst by far. Normally, he has to deal with me when one of my migraines set in. They're about as incapacitating as my bout with food poisoning (or stomach flu, whatever), but it's much more temporary (unless I don't have any migraine-formula Advil in the house, then I'm well and truly f'ed). But my Furry Nursing Team of Simon and Billie pulled me through.
I remember at one point last Sunday, when I was hunched over the toilet, looking over at Simon, who was sitting just outside the bathroom door watching me. He looked at me as if to say, "that must be a really bad hairball, Mom!" He snuggled me, he got along with Billie (we had had a very bad week with them fighting constantly, so detente was most welcomed). He even put up with having many of his meals served late!
I'd like to believe all of that was because he loves me so much. But I suspect he knows that it's nearly that time of year when Sandy Paws brings toys and treats to all the good furkids in the world and he was hoping to get his name off of the "naughty" list and onto the "nice" one.
I think I'll put in a good word with Sandy Paws for Simon and Billie.
16 December, 2006
Often, I'll have conversations with people where they talk about having to learn to be with themselves. Most often these observations take place after they've had a break-up and they're transitioning from a partnership to life as a single person.
I seem to have the opposite problem: I'm having to learn how to be with other people. I don't mean this in the sense that I can't go out in public; I don't have a social phobia (though I do get uncomfortable if I'm in really large crowds). It's much more, I don't know, intimate, I suppose.
My recent bout with food poisoning (or stomach flu, possibly) is a perfect example. As I was riding the ferry into San Francisco on Thursday, I was telling my friend about my illness and how I foolishly dragged myself to the grocery store (twice!). I suddenly realized that I didn't need to do that. I have friends who offered to go to the store for me and I
could should have thanked them and given them a list and some money. I know that I would not (and have not) hesitate to come to their aid, when they need it. I really need to learn to let go and let my friends in.
I promise I'll do better next time. (Though I hope next time is a really really long way off!)
14 December, 2006
The rumours have proven true. Dead Moon have called it quits. It's a sad day for rock 'n' roll.
Thanks for 20 years of great music, Fred, Toody and Andrew. Some of the best times I've had were at your shows. In a business that is so full of pretentiousness, you guys always kept it real. When other bands maintained a space between themselves and their fans, you embraced one and all and made each one of us feel like your oldest best friend.
I'm absolutely gutted that I'll never see another Dead Moon show, but somehow I get the feeling I may be seeing you guys again.
RIP, Dead Moon. Long Live Toody, Fred and Andrew, and all of the great music, memories and friendships you gave us!
EDIT TO ADD: I'll add links as I can find them. Here's the obit from Wilammette Week.
12 December, 2006
Artemesia popped up in my Netflix rotation again, so I really went for it: I popped in the DVD and made a slice of dry wheat toast for supper.
This week, that's livin' on the edge.
Getting over this weekend's bout with food poisoning is tough slogging. I assumed that, once the seriously violent episode was over, I'd feel like shit for a few hours, or maybe a whole day, and that would be it. It was that thought, while hunched over the toilet for hours and hours, that kept me from just dropping my head in the toilet and doing myself in.
I was mistaken in my assumption.
Evidently, besides the offending supper, I flushed my entire life force into the septic system last weekend. On Sunday, I couldn't stand or sit for more than a few minutes without getting shaky. It took me nearly half an hour to get the cats fed because I had to stop and sit down constantly. The seriousness of the situation hit home when I realized that I didn't even have the strength to hold onto a book to read. Other than the times when I had to get out of bed, I could not move from it all day. If I made it to the living room, I had to stop and rest in the computer chair, unless I could make it to the couch.
Monday saw a tiny bit of improvement. I was finally able to get the cats fed in a timely manner and was eventually able to remain upright long enough to take a shower. But then I did something rather foolish (this is a pattern with me, as you'll see): Rather than take my friend Gary up on his heroic offer to go to the store for me, I went to the local market myself. I figured it was small enough that I'd find what I needed without having to wander through the 20,000 sq. ft. or so of Safeway or Albertsons. Also, I was desperate to get out into some fresh air. That trip pretty well did me in for the day, though I was able to sit up for a good portion of the afternoon.
I read Jane Austen's Persuasion. I was so happy that I could at least hold up a book that I didn't want to put it down. I read Volume One and half of Volume Two last night and then finished the book this morning.
I spoke to my boss at work yesterday and, having suffered food poisoning herself, she thought I should plan to be out today (Tuesday) as well. I hung up planning for that, but hoping that, if I could just eat some Jello for supper, that it (and the odd blue Gatorade I had been drinking) would push me along the road to recovery enough that I might just be able to make it into the office.
Because I had not been able to enjoy my morning mug of English Breakfast Tea, I had developed a bastard of a caffeine-withdrawal headache, which, by last evening, was wandering into migraine territory and making me nauseated all over again. My joints felt sore, especially my shoulders, causing me to only be able to sleep in fits and starts. The lack of quality sleep pretty well put the brakes on commuting to work this morning. Probably just as well, considering how rainy the morning commute was, I probably wouldn't have wanted to be on the ferry or the bus.
With a break in the storm later this morning I foolishly pushed myself (again) and went to Safeway to get a couple of things I couldn't find at the corner market yesterday. (Note to self: When your friend offers to do something nice for you like go to the store, learn to say, 'Yes thank you!' instead of trying to be so damned independent!) The nice woman at the checkout stand alerted me to some free samples of some sort of beef product they had somewhere in the store. I smiled and said thanks, but I'm getting over food poisoning just now. She apologized and figured she should have guessed, given the contents of my basket (pedialyte, more Jello and some bread for dry toast--though that may be a bit optimistic on my part).
By the time I got back home, I had difficulty getting my key in the lock because I was wobbling in the doorway. Once inside, I collapsed on the couch for half an hour. I got back up and wobbled around in the shower (I was so desperate to wash my hair and shocked at how much energy it took just to accomplish that) and am now on the couch for the duration. I'm determined to get back enough energy to make it to the office tomorrow, but my legs and arms feel so damned rubbery right now I'm starting to feel discouraged.
Through it all, I have had the two best furry nursemaids I could have hoped for in Billie and Simon. I have been snuggled and, a couple of times, groomed and Simon has been as patient as he could be about getting his meals a little late. Best of all, they've hardly fought at all in the last several days, other than a couple of territorial spats over who got to take a nap on Mom's legs.
So, besides regaling all y'all with my tale of woe, and just general whining, I write this as a record of what it is like to suffer full-blown food poisoning so that, when I hear of someone else suffering it, I will remember how awful it was and will be a better sympathetic and supportive friend.
I might indeed wish such a violent affliction on my worst enemy, but s/he would have to really piss me off, first.
11 December, 2006
My most beloved Portland band, Dead Moon, recently cancelled their "welcome back to Portland" gig (they had just finished touring Europe), as well as their upcoming New Year's Eve gig--which is something of a tradition for them. The rumours are flying that Dead Moon have broken up. If it's true, that makes me very, very sad indeed.
10 December, 2006
SIMON SUNDAY will probably not get written until Monday, or possibly not until next Sunday because Simon's Mom has been battling a nasty case of food poisoning since last night (if you're scoring at home, the bacteria won in a first-round knockout). This is the first time today I've been able to be somewhat upright for more than three minutes without breaking into a shaky flop sweat and feeling like I'm gonna hurl or pass out or both. Right now, I'm drinking water and praying I can get it down and keep it down. I may be ready to try apple juice and/or sports drink, but that won't happen until I know I can get to the store and back without any, ummmm, incident.
I certainly cannot end this post without some Simon content. Once he realized how deathly ill I was and that the reason I was staying in bed was because I couldn't get out of bed (except when I, uh, had to), he curled his fuzzy body around my head, hugged my head tight to him and rested his chin on my forehead. Sometimes, when I stirred, he'd hug my head tight to him again and sigh. And now he won't let me out of his sight for more than a couple of minutes. Such a different kitty than the one I was going to write about for Simon Sunday.
If only he could go to the store for me...
06 December, 2006
I was absolutely gutted to see that James Kim's body was found in the Big Windy Creek drainage this afternoon. I do not know the Kim family, but I was really hoping he would have made it back to the family, friends and co-workers who love him. When I saw how far he had hiked and how he had come back around along the drainage and died so very close to where his car was (he was just 1-1/2 miles below their stranded Saab), I felt sick.
Of course it's so easy to Monday Morning Quarterback, but this awful tragedy could so easily have been prevented. Having grown up in Oregon, I have traveled many of the routes through the coast range between the I-5 corridor and the coast. In fact, I think I know US 26 as well as I know my own body. I traveled that route from Seaside, OR back to Portland one night while it was snowing and vowed to never do that again. For the most part, the roads through the coast range are dark and winding and if you hit snow and don't beat a hasty retreat, you can easily find yourself stuck in a very cold, very damp, very dark place. (For that matter, I wouldn't touch any part of Southern Oregon between late October and, oh, maybe mid- to late April because it can be a nice, balmy 50 degrees today and be a blizzard/ice storm tonight.) If Only #1: if only the Kims had consulted someone at the restaurant in Roseburg, or asked the person at the inn in Gold Beach if there was a good, reasonably safe route. Most likely, a local would have directed them to the nearest Mariott and told them to get a good night's sleep and wait for daylight before cutting over to the coast.
It is unclear what map they consulted when, after missing their exit for Hwy 42, they ended up on Bear Camp Road. By the time it turned into a single-lane road and the snow got too bad, it was too late. Their mistake was compounded when they turned off onto a spur road, hoping to be able to turn around, but instead they were stuck. Over the next several days, they did the right things, by burning their tires for heat (and a hopeful signal to would-be rescuers), stomping out SOS in the snow, and by staying with their car. If Only #2: if only they had made a stop for more groceries. I won't even take a day trip around the Bay Area without plenty of water and snacks in the car. A bag of groceries stashed in the back of their wagon may have prevented If Only #3.
If Only James Kim had stayed with the family car. It's the first and most fundamental rule if you're stranded somewhere: You never leave your vehicle. It's a hell of a lot easier for a helicopter pilot to see a big car than it is to see a person.
But, oh...I so completely understand WHY he took off in search of help. For sure, I'm not the type of person who would willingly sit around hoping someone might find me, so I know I'd have a hard time resisting the temptation to look for someone, anyone who could rescue me and my family. But, having not eaten in days, he was nowhere near strong enough (physically and mentally) to undertake such a hike. That he got as far as he did is testimony to his sheer determination and, IMO, miraculous.
I don't mean for this post to be harshly critical of James and Kati Kim; rather, it should be a lesson for anyone traveling through unfamiliar territory. Be a chatty traveler: find out from locals what the best and safest routes are (either by talking to them or through online social networks...there's a group for every topic, after all). If you find you're stranded somewhere do not leave your vehicle unless it is unsafe to remain with it. To me, this all seems like common sense. But that's based on my experience, which is probably a lot different from their life experience. I know how treacherous the Coast Range can be this time of year: The Kims may not have had any experience with that kind of terrain. Going from I-5 to the Oregon Coast is a hell of a lot different than going from US 101 or I-280 to Santa Cruz. Even though both trips require traveling a winding, dark road, you're more likely to have a lot of traffic going through the Santa Cruz mountains at night than you are likely to encounter on any of the passes through the Oregon Coast Range.
Before I finish this, I want to commend the parents of James and Kati Kim, who hired their own helicopter crews to assist in the search. Rural Sherrifs' departments generally are not very wealthy enterprises. A search on the scale of the one for the Kims costs one hell of a lot of money. It is wonderful that they had the resources to pay for the additional search helicopters and it may have prevented an even greater tragedy.
Rest in Peace, James Kim. I am certain that your last thoughts were not of your own suffering, but of your deep love for your wife and children.
And may the family and friends of James Kim find peace in the memory of his kindness and love and his dogged determination to help his family.
03 December, 2006
Simon with his Cat Dancer, which is his most favourite toy EVER because it's interactive, which means he has my undivided attention. He hasn't been too happy about my going back to the office after having me almost exclusively to himself for a week. So, whenever I've been home in the evenings and over the weekend, he has scarcely let me out of his sight. Except for right now, because he's in the bathroom eating cat litter*...
(*We use World's Best Cat Litter, which is made from corn cob, so it's non-toxic if kitty should happen to ingest any. Thanks goodness. But EWWWWW!!!)
01 December, 2006
(via gwen) Evidently, I am rather anti-social and also an intellectual snob.