Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Owning a Cat is a Really Scary Thing*

Owning a cat can sometimes be a terrifying experience. You never know when they're going to suddenly flip, turning from aloof creatures that keep to themselves, to violently affectionate territorial little monsters, seemingly willing to annihilate any other animal vying for your affection.

My cat Hobbie has lately taken it upon himself to scare the living daylights out of me at least once a month. Ignoring the fact that he is disabled, is fixed and therefore should have little no testosterone production going on in his little emasculated kitty body, he has for quite a while now insisted on fighting bigger males on a semi-regular basis. However, that is no longer enough. Oh no. Now he has to get all schizo on me too.

Hobbie doesn't like other people. He hates men. For instance, although our neighbors have fed Hobbie for years, he still conducts himself exactly like a feral cat if they attempt to get near him. He only likes me. He also tolerates my family, but that's only because we all live together. Babies and children disgust him. So do visitors. Whenever he has to be near any of the aforementioned sort of people he'll fix me with this irate stare like, I do this for you, you unworthy creature. Just remember that.

But recently, that all changed.

It started with one bizarre night when Hobbie started dancing around the room, staring crookedly up at the ceiling with this unparalleled look of contentment on his face. It was like his kitty monologue was going: Ooh, look! I see stars! Lots of pretty stars! And I'm a cat! And I'm in a house! Wheeeee! I have three legs! (Or something equally discombobulated and disturbing).

He then proceeded to insinuate himself into my presence in every possible way, lavishing me with physical affectation.

Now, I was up insanely late reading about serial killers, and thinking about how bizarre it would be to work a serial killing animal - think Beast of Gevaudan - into fiction. Do you think maybe I was a little creeped out? It was like having Dr. Jekyll insisting on sitting on your lap while showering you with compliments. I just had to wonder if at any moment he was going to turn into a rabid, claw-wielding Mr. Hyde, diving for my jugular vein with gusto.

Because he also kept grinning at me in this insanely frightening way. It was like being locked in a room with the Cheshire Cat. I kept thinking, what are you going to do with those teeth, Hobbie?

I could only assume he was in an unmatched drug haze. Yes, my cat is a total addict. He keeps hanging with the cats next door, and their parents let them do catnip. I'm tired of trying to make him stop. Don't judge me. (And it makes him act mellow and happy and sometimes he'll let me pet him and tell him how wonderful he is while he's on it).

But anywho, as you can tell, catnip doesn't usually make him act like a cheerful, affection-craving maniac.

I fed him in an attempt to satiate whatever primal urge was making him act so bizarre, and then went to bed because Hobbie never gets on my bed. He can't stand to sleep with me. I wiggle too much. It was the one place I could be safe from him.

I awoke the next morning from one of my epic claustrophobia dreams feeling like I was:

a) having a life-threatening asthma attack

b) being suffocated by a Muppet

No, of course it couldn't be one of those things. That would be too normal. Of course it would be my cat, sitting on my chest and looking cunningly into my face. It was kind of the emotional equivalent of waking up to find someone standing next to your bed with an axe: it's disturbing. And it makes you want to get out of bed and find your mommy really fast.

The next chapter in my saga was Thanksgiving. We had LOTS of family for Thanksgiving. (Which was wonderful). We did a similar thing five years ago. During that holiday, we had family members staying at our house for a week. They actually questioned Hobbie's existence. They just didn't see him. Which is normal. He hates guests. Oh, his food disappeared like clockwork, but otherwise there was no real proof of a feline presence in our house. Because Hobbie hates people.

So what does Hobbie do this Thanksgiving? He saunters into the kitchen, in the thick of the dinner-making action, and begins rubbing himself all over the legs of my aunt who just really dislikes cats.

He then proceeded to make friends with my male cousin. Now, this is slightly more understandable. My cats always loved my grandfather, and my uncle, and this makes perfect sense because they were bona fide cat worshipers, and cats know these things. Naturally my cousin has this gene. So there you go.

But Hobbie seemed to have, for the day, lost his ability to discern who likes cats and who doesn't. He also seemed to never tire of attention from others. Usually he has a short attention span for adoration. He just finds it exasperating after five minutes or so. But for some sick reason, he was suddenly acting like a house cat. I'll admit, I was getting a little jealous.

I would say that the turkey had drawn out his inner Ms. Congeniality, but Hobbie doesn't love turkey, and his personality was completely altered. Rather than allowing willing humans to come into his presence and dote on him, he had actually been making friendly advances, shamelessly currying the favor of every heretofore despised human in the house.

And also, he was acting so giddy I was terrified he might have some degenerative brain disease and might spontaneously start running through our home and mauling house-guests.

I swept him away at the first opportunity and locked him in my parent's room with some food. He seemed to have the munchies anyway. I also thought it best to put him away before he embarrassed himself too much. (A gesture I was sure he would appreciate when he came to his senses).

Since then, Hobbie seems to have recovered some of his cold demeanor and natural feline dignity. However, at this very moment he is hovering over me as I write, pupils dilated, tail twitching. If I make eye contact with him, he places a paw on my arm or even tries to crawl into my lap, purring, claws perpetually extended. Normal? I think not.

I'm going to go feed him and retreat under my covers, but not before I say this: whoever has been giving my cat crack, please stop. You don't know what it's like to live with someone on a perpetual trip. It's getting scarier every day.

*Note: Okay, But I'm not really scared of my house pets (On a regular basis. For that long. Or that much). But most importantly, I am so not a cat lady. Just in case you may have been wondering about that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vintage Christmas

Wonderful vintage Christmas pictures, all of which make me feel incredibly happy and festive.

The above picture is cute, but I feel obliged to inform everybody that, although this woman seems overtaken by a spirit of possessive joy upon receiving her delightful little vacuum cleaner, I don't think most would find this a spectacular Christmas present. At least I wouldn't.

Buying your child a Schwinn will make him the toast of the neighborhood.

Take note, people. Gun enthusiasts are having their Christmas gift wishes so blatantly ignored they're having to buy presents for themselves. I want you to think really hard: is there anyone in your life who would like a Colt for Christmas? Or Hanukkah...or Kwanzaa...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Making Up for the General Lack of Sarcasm and Hyperbole On This Blog

So, it's that time of year again. Peace on earth, goodwill towards men, blah blah blah blah blah.

Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas and the winter holidays. But inside of all of us there is an irate Grinch just dying to come out and ruin it for everybody.
Therefore, I am taking it upon myself to make a series of whiny, griping, unnecessary posts, mostly to bring my sarcasm level up to a healthy number.
And I will start with the Woman at Aldi.

I've never understood why people choose to believe that Christmas is a time of year when people do or should treat each other with more goodwill and respect. If anything, Christmas seems to turn me into more of a greedy, avarice-filled consumer, ready to fight in grocery stores and crush any human who gets in between me and my desired purchase.

Running a few errands for my mom with my girlfriend was no exception. Shopping is serious stuff. The object is to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible, while spending the least amount of money and getting the most amount of food. Speed is a priority.

I had carefully stacked our shopping destinations, first going to the supermarket, where we needed the of groceries, and finally ending up at Aldi.
The aisles at Aldi are very low. Across the top of one I eyed a predatory, hawk-like shopper who seemed to be breezing through her shopping, unhappy children in tow, with the intensity of a headhunter close on the heels of a prize suspect. She regarded my friendly we're-both-shopping-and-we-just-made-eye-contact smile with disgust and dark suspicion.
Noting her unpleasant demeanor and pasting a winning smile on my face so that I could at least feel like a nicer person (I think not having a child to jerk around by the arm probably put me in the lead for the Nice Award anyway), I recommenced my shopping.

But the Headhunter Demon Shopper wasn't through with me yet.

I finished shopping about five minutes before her, but of course having more than one check-out line open would have been just extravagant, so I had to hang out sideways in line, since it was too long for my cart to sit in straight. But I was clearly in line, and had been so for five freaking minutes when who should finish her grocery hunting but Demon Shopper.
I saw her regarding the long, single line through narrowed eyes. Just then, the first shopper was checked out and the line moved up dramatically.
The next moment went down in slow motion. The racket of Johnny Mathis music died away, and there was only silence, the Demon Shopper, and I.
She looked at the line. She looked at me. She stood at the bottom of one aisle, which fed directly into the end of the line. My cart was still hanging out in an awkward diagonal position.
Suddenly, she flew into action. In order to straighten my cart out, I had to withdraw and do some fancy steering work. As I commenced this, the woman ran down the aisle, denim skirt flapping around her legs and rucking up over her tennis shoes, enough for male customers to possibly even see her ankles in her rabid rush towards the check-out line.
I gasped, throwing myself against the cart in that epic moment, shoving my girlfriend out of the way and running over her foot in my haste to reposition my buggy in a more obviously territorial fashion. (Actually, I may not have run over her foot...maybe I almost ran over her foot. Anyways, I would have, if it had been in my way).
And then she came, twitching with victory, and shoved my cart out of the way, nosing her much fuller cart in front of mine.
My friend bit her lip in agony. The woman who had proceeded me in line, but was now in front of the check-out line equivalent to Alexander the Great, looked at me and my usurper with surprise and vague discomfort, blinking several times. The wench that took my spot looked out towards the exit and refused to make eye contact.
I stood, seething for a moment. The appropriate thing to do would have been to say,
"Excuse me, you took my spot."
However, so great was my rage, augmented by the irritating voice of Mathis bellowing something historically undocumented about St. Nicholas, that I knew if I opened my mouth only one word could possibly come out. And this word is insulting and is sometimes used to refer to female dogs. And it would inevitably be loud and infinitely audible to the other shoppers.

So the moral is:

1) There are nastier people than me in the store.

2) What I should have done from the beginning was ask the docile older lady originally in front of me to move her fanny up a little, and then made everyone in line very uncomfortable by wedging myself behind them in the clearly limited space, ultimately forcing everyone to slowly cram together into more intense physical closeness to make room for ME.


3) Dressing like a less-stylish Michelle Duggar does not make you a better person. If you're a petty self-absorbed woman with a tendency to emotionally abuse children, you will still be a petty self-absorbed woman with a tendency to emotionally abuse children after you put on the turtle-neck and denim skirt. In fact, even forcing your children to follow you in your sartorial downfall and willfully neglecting your hair for an extended period of time will not make you a nicer person. But it does make it easier for irrationally bitter bloggers to make fun of you.

Anywho, I stood there frothing at the mouth and trying to remember all the things my beautiful parents taught me about acting like Jesus until suddenly another line opened.

Final result? I got to stand in line behind a chatty, potentially creepy old man buying beer and hear about the evil of folks on food stamps. Merry Christmas.

Pearl Harbor Day

It's Pearl Harbor Day again, people. The surprise attack that hauled the U.S.A. into World War II, which would ultimately cost us thousands of American lives.

In honor of Pearl Harbor day, I wanted to share a less grim story my great-grandmother told me recently.
It was December of 1941. My grandmother was a young teenager, and after taking driver's ed, had to take a driving test, as all unfortunate teens must at some point in their already angst-ridden lives. She doesn't remember the exact date of the test, but lets just say it was some time prior to December 7th.
And it was the North. And, because doing your driving test without natural impediment just isn't nerve-wracking enough, of course it was snowy too.
She said there was a rough spot with some ice, and she just wasn't sure she could make it through the test without wrecking something/someone/herself.
However, my grandmother triumphed in the end, completely dominating the weather and her cunning driving test, and therefore winning her license and the right to share the highway with all capable American adults! Hooray!
Until this little thing called Pearl Harbor happened. A few days later. After that, it was gas rations and driving as little as possible, so although she got her license my grandmother didn't sit behind a steering wheel until the end of the war.
Now how's that for irony?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Florida. I love Florida, can you tell?
These three personable palm trees I photographed at St. Augustine.

Even though this is an osprey, he kept making me think of the song 'Hej Sokoły.' (Polish national means 'Hey, falcon.' Don't listen to it. It's catchy). Anyhow, I took a lot of pictures to get this one.

This lovely gator is technically "the one that got away." I had forgotten my zoom in the house, and subsequently, missed out on a photograph that could have appeared to have been taken from only a few feet away. And I couldn't get a picture of his fascinating tail.

Dragonfly larvae. (I believe).

This is one of my favorites. A boat came through and made these wonderful ripples.
Mist in the early morning.

Here I become rather obsessed with reflection. When I was younger I thought it was bad luck to see my reflection in the lake, so I wouldn't look. It's actually sort of cool. The water was, one evening in particular, just like a looking glass.
Snail eggs. They were a delicate pink color that doesn't even show up as nicely as it did in person.

More reflections...

This is also one of my most mourned photographs. If it had been more centered, the heron and his reflection would have been frame-worthy.

I like this island a lot, as you can probably tell. It has a lot of character. One day I'm going to buy a canoe and go chasing alligators all over it. (It's too swampy to really walk across, though).

So, that is my Florida trip, summed up in pictures. Maybe I'll add my St. Augustine photographs later.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I'm in Florida! Having so much fun visiting my cousin. June has been packed, I feel like I've hardly seen my family and I'm sort of starting to miss them! Thankfully we'll all be together again soon...
My cousin has a beautiful new baby girl whom I am positively in love with. She was a week old and making eye contact with me - just studying the world. I have never seen anything quite like it. She's so tiny and delicate, like a little porcelain doll. She has the most wise eyes and amazing, smooth skin. It's really unreal. She hardly ever cries. She's just so content. She loves watching the colorful fish in her daddy's aquarium - she just stares and wonders. She just looks intelligent, like she's really pondering all she sees.
Also there is my cousin's little two-year-old boy - he is such a sweetie, so helpful and sweet! He's such a good child. He's going to be the most wonderful big brother, I'm sure they'll be best friends when they get a little older. I feel so privileged to have had this time to watch them. These early days are so precious and formative and wonderful. I have had such a wonderful time visiting with my cousin, and experiencing her young family in a way I never have before. I hope they can all come up and visit us sometime!
Also, I love Florida. I just miss it sometimes. It's nice to see a lot of palm trees, tan people, and chickens running all over downtown like they own the place. (Okay, so that's not a widespread Floridian trait - I'm pretty sure that's just concentrated to our little area).
Also, it's been really interesting to do stuff until you feel it's done - and then have a lot of terribly quiet free time! So different after coming from a big house and a big family. Not quite sure how I feel about it...but I love having uninterrupted time to write, read my bible, and read a little fiction - all in one sitting, uninterrupted! It's wonderful.
I've been reading mainly two things, one of them being Saki's short stories. I got a 'complete works' in Boiling Springs back home. I was at Gardner-Webb University for the Charlotte Mason conference, which I hope to write more about later, and picked up a lot of wonderful books there.
Also I've been reading The Lovely Bones, which my cousin loaned me. I heard a little about the book before the movie came out, but I just wasn't sure if I was into the heavy plot line. Due to my penchant for depressing literature of late, I thought it was very appropriate to have Saki's terse, laugh-inducing short works to counterbalance.
The Lovely Bones starts off intense. I'd compare it to a punch in the gut. It made me feel so entirely unhappy that I put it down, intending to stop reading. (Which is a big thing for me. I'm sort of obsessive about finishing books). However, predictably, I have continued. Because I want to know how it ends! And it better be good.
But wait! Intense books really have no relation to Florida, I just do that anyway. But what is associated with Florida? The beach! I went with my cousins last week. I got a wonderful sunburn, which left me at first a deep, rich red, giving the vague impression of someone in a spandex Santa suit. It then faded off to a dull cherry glow - it was an inspiring color, really - and now I have a light tan.
I prided myself on not peeling. Until this afternoon I looked in the mirror and thought I had dandruff. No. My hairline sunburned, and is now peeling. And managing to pollute much of the surrounding area.
Then I realized my back is a little too. And just now I itched my shoulder. And started flaking. But despite my brash words of before, I've realized that Summer wouldn't be Summer without me flaking like a diseased reptile.
All that aside, the beach was wonderful. The water was unbelievably clear and beautiful, I could see all around me at all times, even when I went in up to my chest. (And this is the part where I do not comment on the oil spill). So anyways, I felt pretty sure I would at least not be surprised if a shark decided to maul me.
And of course we brought the little man with us, and he is a beach loving fiend! He spoke of nothing else for several days, and formed his own sentence around that theme: my cousin and I were talking, and I mentioned that I loved something or other. He suddenly looked up from his toys and said, "I love the beach." You could tell he was surprised and delighted to make the connection. It was adorable!
Okay, enough random post for tonight. My plan of one hour ago was to be asleep by this time.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Josiah's Birthday

So sad my little man is three already! He woke up yesterday morning and dressed himself for the first time.
We had a small family party, just us and Grammy and Granddad. Josiah had asked for a variety of cakes - blueberry, chocolate, et cetera - and we got a lovely Bavarian cake with whipped cream frosting. It was so good!
Josiah is the sweetest little boy ever. He is so creative and generous - he even offered me one of his presents when he was admiring them in their wrapping! He's very thoughtful. He crawls in bed with me almost every night to cuddle. He's so loving, every year with him has been wonderful, has changed my life. I can't wait to see what he's like when he's older - several months ago I had a dream I came home to visit for Josiah's 17th birthday. In the dream he was taller than me, and picked me up when he was giving me a hug. What's hard to imagine is that it will probably come true...

Some delicious dinner. Pork, broccoli and cheese, mashed potatoes, and Caesar salad. (Which is, by the way, my new absolute favorite. I could eat Caesar salad and coffee for the rest of my life and be a very happy girl).

Here he is, waiting for our lovely dinner...
And here, FOUR varieties of ice cream! They were having a sale, so dad brought these home - Reese's, chocolate chip chocolate, vanilla, and cookie dough, yum!

Josiah's cake. He's been asking for Playmobil for practically forever - he's always stealing everybody else's, which doesn't encourage brotherly love. So here is his pirate man and soldier! It came with lots of little parts which probably won't stick around long...but he's been carrying his pirate around everywhere, he loves it!

This was him blowing the candles out, VERY eagerly, before we were even through singing happy birthday! Of course it was dark, but my lovely flash lights it up like day. You'll have to imagine the dark part.
He had to lick the bottom of everything taken off the cake.

The candles, too.

Benny, eagerly awaiting his dessert . . .

Mm, so yummy! There is now a grand total of seven different kinds of ice cream in our freezer. The most we've ever had. And I have no self-control. Needless to say, Operation Fat Kaley is well under way. Thank heavens I love to exercise.
Opening presents! These are his dinosaur pajamas.

Dad, not falling asleep.

Giving Grammy hugs!

The rest of his Playmobil set!
And the tricycle! See how he manages to ride his Radio Flyer while still clutching his Playmobil?
And it has a bell! Which has been thoroughly broken in since yesterday...
Max was determined to reached the tricycle...
Victory! With a little help from Grammy, tee hee.

Granddad demonstrated some facial distortions at dinner time.
Josiah showing how he could shoot my eyes out.

Here he is, trying to hold up three fingers. Apparently he's not quite there with the coordination thing.
I love you, little man! My favorite wild thing fairy-tales partner! Happy birthday!