Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Creating a Sanctuary

I've heard and read that your bedroom should be your sanctuary. Mine has always been a place where I just crawl into bed and sleep. I've lived in my teeny tiny bungalow for over nine years now and I've painted the living room, kitchen and tv room but my bedroom has remained the same dirty white as when I moved in. I swear it probably hasn't been painted since the '70s. After all, since the bedroom is RIGHT off of the living room, I usually have the door closed when company comes.

Well, I've had enough. Don't I deserve a nice room too?! Of course I do. Problem is, I didn't want to deal with the work involved in cleaning out the room, moving very heavy furniture (by myself), dust and wash the walls, THEN paint. Then came the color choices. Do I want something cool or bright? Or cool AND bright? My biggest mistake was last year I decided on paint color by consensus. Friends at work weighed in as did neighbors. A nice buttery yellow was decided. I bought the paint and painted the ceiling white last year, then I just stopped. I don't know why but I never finished it. I finally decided after all this time that I didn't really LOVE the color. It was very pretty and would have looked great with my white furniture, but I didn't really LOVE it. Sooo, I went back to square one and started looking at colors again. This time, I didn't tell ANYONE. I decided on a BRIGHT yellow-green called Pear from Behr. I went out on Friday to pick it up and when I got to Home Depot I decided it was just too bright and too yellow. This has happened SO many times I was bound and determined to pick a color RIGHT THEN AND THERE! So, after about a half hour I picked a bright green-yellow named Honeydew. Oh, I was excited. Bought the paint, came home and couldn't wait to paint. But, then, I still needed to clean out, dust, wipe down and move furniture. I didn't start painting until just yesterday.

Want to see the color?

Lordy, was I mad at Butterball when I took this picture!! I had thought all the cats were out and he somehow snuck in and planted himself against a wall. I screamed-- he ran--I chased him out. Then I thought, "well, better get a photo for my blog at least"

Okay, now let's see what the color really looks like,

It's a very bright springy green. You know what the terrible thing is--I don't think I like it!!! I'm now thinking of a more softer icy blue. BUT, at least it is painted and it looks a heck of a lot better then it ever has. I'm going to live with it for a while to see if it grows on me.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Sad Sight and a Cat in a Box

Poor Woody feeling a bit depressed.

A little over a year ago, Woody started licking himself raw on his back legs and his stomach. This has consumed my life for many days and nights. Not only is it painful and aggravating for him, he has ruined many of my things from just sitting leaving an oozing, sticky mess. After ruling out food allergies, and labeling it a non-defined allergy, two different vets prescribed a multitude of shots, pills, ointments, sprays, etc. Absolutely nothing has worked. I even went so far as a vet prescribing a valium-like substance that also acts as an antihistamine that I rubbed into his ears to be absorbed since he was so hard to pill. This slowed down his licking but it never stopped. I also tried many different homeopathic drops and shampoos, again to no avail. The "collar" has always been the last resort. Well, actually I did try a collar last year but felt SO bad for him that I took it off after a few hours of watching him stumble around banging into everything.

Can you see his red belly. Actually, since putting the collar on this past Friday, everything has scabbed up nicely.

I was at Petsmart on Friday and looking over yet some other miracle anti-itch medication I decided enough was enough and I needed to get the collar back on him. Since I would be off for five days I thought it would be a good test. Oh, it has been hard. I guess I should consider myself lucky. Woody is so dog-like that he doesn't go beserk with it on like I would guess my other cats would. In fact, I've been giving him lots of extra attention and catnip and he seems pretty content. I do take the collar off a few times a day when I watch him like a hawk. Cats groom themselves all throughout the day and I know it was driving him crazy not being able to wash his face after eating. So I let him jump in my lap and he starts grooming himself like mad. As soon as he starts licking his back legs though the collar has to go back on. I have no idea how long it will have to stay on. Wish us luck!!

Now, onto something silly. What is it with cats and boxes? Everytime I get a box, no matter how small, all the cats try at some point to jump, lay, or squeeze into it. For my birthday, I decided to get a memory foam mattress topper. I used it for the first time last night. I must say I hadn't slept so soundly in a long, long time. And, I woke up refreshed, so I'm really pleased with it. It's a Serta brand and I got it at Target. It came in a good sized box and I always let the cats play with the box until the next trash day.

Sweet Pea wasted no time.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

It's Possumlady's Birthday!!!

Happy Birthday to me! At 9:14 a.m. on August 25, 1959, my mom gave birth to a baby girl. Just under five pounds I would have normally been kept in the hospital, but since my mom already had four kids, the doctor figured I'd be better off at home. With 3 girls already and one boy, I was supposed to be named Christopher John. Oh well. I'll just post some photos and I apologize for the blurry ones. They are all photos of photos and my camera just doesn't do well with that.

Hmm, I don't know. I think I was 2 or 3 here with my mom and brother.

Catching a sunny near my aunt and uncle's resort in northern Wisconsin.

Ahh, the old homestead at 170 on the West Side of St. Paul.

We lived about 6-8 blocks from Cherokee Park in St. Paul and made many field trips there.

First communion. I remember feeling SO grown up.

Good times at my friend Janet's family cabin in Wisconsin in the late 70s. Left to right: Possumlady, Kathy G., Peggy C., and Janet M.

Probably my most favorite photograph. This was taken in Tanzania outside of Oldavai Gorge at a Masai village. It was very crowded and I kept feeling this thing against my leg. I finally looked down and saw the cutest baby goat! I wanted to take it home with me.

A night out watching the Washington Nationals with good friend Paul and Joy and crazy Adam with the loud shirt. Yes, I'm the hobbitesque one.

Monday, August 20, 2007

One Goodbye and One Keep in Touch

Many of you know that I look after a herd of cats. I have four cats of my own that are strictly indoor cats. Then, there are the outside ones. These are cats that have migrated over from my neighbor's house. My neighbor is known throughout the area that if you have an animal in need, she will take it in. There is a low-income elder community close by and my neighbor helps many of the folks there with their animals, i.e. bringing their animals to the vet and sometimes paying for the visits, getting them pet food when otherwise they could not afford it, etc. Many times when a person dies, the animal is left with no place to go. Such was the case with Buddy. I can't even remember when Buddy started showing up outside. Beautiful Maine Coon mix. The problem with Buddy is that he is a bully. He was very sweet to me and so craved human attention that he would drool buckets whenever I spent any time with him. But then, something would click and he would just want to hunt down any other cat and would do some serious damage. I kept a supersoaker on my front porch just for him.

Here he is on a neighbor's front porch giving a squirrel the hairy eyeball.

Every once in a while I would catch him, crate him up and deliver him to my neighbor asking if he could be kept inside to keep the peace in the neighborhood. She would keep him in for a while, then he would somehow sneak back out. One of the times I picked him up I noticed he seemed awfully thin. I mentioned that to my neighbor on numerous times. Finally, before I went to Puerto Rico, she said she now had the time to take him in to the vet to get him checked out. She suspected a thyroid problem as two of the symptoms are lost weight and aggressiveness.
I took this photo of him on my front porch just a few weeks before heading off to Puerto Rico.

When I returned, I noticed Buddy wasn't around so I assumed my neighbor had him in her house. Last week, I asked her how he was and she said she had him put down while I was in Puerto Rico. She had him tested and he did have a serious thyroid problem that would have cost a ton of money to manage. Poor Buddy, he didn't have much of a life here after his owner died. We just couldn't find a home for him. But, his life did matter and I'm glad I got to know him and give him some much appreciated attention.

Then, there's Jelly. Short for Jellicle. Jelly was found at the Elder community way back in 2001. The residents there were feeding her. She had had a litter but no kittens were ever found. My neighbor took her in--spayed her and gave her all her shots. Jelly is very cute, black and white and tiny, about 5-7 pounds, but a real hell raiser. My neighbor tried adopting her out on three separate occasions, only to get her back because Jelly would go beserk in the houses and try to escape. She even broke out of my neighbor's house on numerous occasions, pushing out the screen windows and doors. On Christmas Day in 2002 I woke up and looked out my bedroom window. It was a miserable day--cold wind and sleeting. There on my porch railing was Jelly, soaking wet, staring at my front door. I opened the door and she came trotting in, meowing the entire time. My four cats were quite perplexed but they gave her a wide berth. She ate a few bites of cat food, used the litterbox, then headed to the door. I let her out and she ran off. That began our relationship. She started coming by regularly twice a day for food and attention, but then on her own time, would want to leave. Let me tell you by 2003, I had tried so many times to make her an inside only cat. I've done it before with Woody and Sweet Pea. Jelly was another animal all together. She would come in to sleep only on the coldest of nights.

Then, I noticed in early summer she was coming by less and less frequently. I would call and call and she would show up maybe a couple days later. I have a neighbor living next door to me, Doug. He's in his mid-60s, lives alone except for an ancient cat named Winston. Doug came by one Saturday to tell me that Jelly had been spending a lot of time with him and Winston. I was pleased that I found out where she had been going, but I also felt just a tiny bit hurt. Literally a week after Doug came by, he stopped by again to tell me that his beloved cat Winston died in his sleep. Winston was one month short of his 19th birthday! Well, Jelly has been at his house ever since. I told Doug he has just been adopted.

Don't be a stranger Jelly! (Actually, she just stopped by for a visit yesterday. First time in about 3 weeks!)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ahhh, Sweet Brief Relief

It seems like the entire country has been gripped with this awful heat wave. To say I've not gotten much sleep from last Monday through Friday would be an understatement. So on Friday night I decided to take some Tylenol PM to try and knock me out for the night since I didn't have to get up early on Saturday. Boy howdy did it work. I finally woke up with a start at almost 8:00 am!! The cats usually won't let me sleep past 6:30. Something seemed strange....hmmm......what was it..............OH MY GOD THE AIR CONDITIONER IS NOT RUNNING!!! What I have feared had come true! The thing had worked itself to death. I flew open the front door to be greeted by this incredible rush of cool dry air. Oh, happy day!! The AC is not broken, it has just finally cooled down! Needing to desperately go to the bathroom and with a long line of cats following me around wanting to get fed, I pushed all that aside to run around and open up every single window in the house and breath deeply for a few minutes. I could just feel my head clearing and my mood improving.

After taking care of my personal business and feeding the cats I decided to open up and assemble my new toy:

I have been looking at these for 3 years now. I entered every contest I could find to win one but no such luck. After I saw my neighbor with one a few months ago I decided to go ahead and buy one. Here she is after I assembled her:

This is a battery-operated lawn mower! Very cool, very quiet and very expensive!! It cost about twice what an electric lawn mower costs. But after dealing with just a push mower and a weed whacker for 8 years, I was desperate. I couldn't in good conscience get a gas mower and I've borrowed neighbors' electric mowers and I just hated dealing with the cord. I charged up the battery on Saturday and took her out this morning for a spin. I love her! I think I shall name her Nettie.....yes, Nettie Neut. Do you want to see the cutest thing about her.........

Her wheels have little newts imprinted on them!!

This is a great little mower for a small to medium yard. The battery will last for 45 minutes. More than enough for my yard. But if I wanted to, I could purchase an extra battery and have that charged and ready to go if the first one runs out. Very easy to pop the battery in and out. Also very easy to change the height of the mower for a closer cut. All in all, a very user friendly machine.

Well, I need to be off and do some inside cleaning. The humidity comes back for a spell in the middle of the week so I'm trying to get as much done as I can before I lose all my energy again.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Oh the Humanity!

That may be a bit melodramatic, but my God it is just plain gross outside. And, no, I'm not one of those people that complain in the winter too. I always pray for cold weather. I'm a native Minnesotan after all. I went to bed early last night so awoke at 5:00 am today. I just checked the temps outside and it is 81 degrees with 81 percent humidity which makes it actually feel like 87. 87 degrees at 5:00 am!!! That is just plain wrong. I replaced my roughly 25 year old central AC a few years ago but I still worry about it breaking down. It just never seems to stop in this weather. But, I should consider myself lucky. There are still many homes in my town and neighborhood without central air and folks make due with a couple window units. Heck, I moved to DC in 1982 and I didn't live with air conditioning until the summer of 1992. My first car with air conditioning was bought in 1997! When I bought my cute little two-seater Honda CRX in 1986, I opted for a sunroof instead of AC as I couldn't afford both. Yes, fashion over comfort in those days.

Well, that is all I can think of to say in my heat-induced stupor this early in the morning. I'll leave you with a couple cute photos. The first being a black cat samich with a sweet butterball fillng:
The little cat ledge that they are all sleeping on is right above a vent with nice cool air blasting out of it. Left to right: Woody, Butterball, and Apu.

My little woodland babies have returned last night. Look how dirty they make everything!!
Stay cool and safe everyone and remember to drink that water!!!
P.S. Today in the Washington Post there was a story about the heat. The article mentioned a heat wave in 1930 where it hit 100 or above for 10 days out of 21. Then it went on to state:
The 1930 heat wave was the cause of what The Washington Post called "unusual happenings":

A woman living in an apartment on 10th Street NW shot and killed her husband when he refused to give her money for food. She blamed the heat. The morning she pulled the trigger, temperatures in the couple's apartment had reached 110 degrees, she told police.

Chickens that had been entered in an egg-laying contest at the University of Maryland Experiment Station were listless. Yields were disappointing.

A 16-year-old Virginia hunter collapsed after being overcome by heat and shot himself in the head with a .22 caliber rifle. The ball knocked him out but only inflicted a scalp wound, the Post reported.

Thirteen-year-old Betty Allen Conner of 5535 30th Place NW had her own unique take on the oppressive heat of August. In her poem, "Heat," published by the Post on Aug. 3, 1930, she wrote:
" We call out, we ask:
'Give us a winter day,
A frozen, icy day.'
But the sun,
The mighty, golden, burning sun,
Only laughs,
And, dizzy with its power,
Overwhelms the city and man"
I couldn't have said it better myself!

Monday, August 6, 2007

From Harry Potter to Beatrix Potter

I saw the most delightful and charming movie this weekend--Miss Potter. It tells the story of the life of Beatrix Potter. It came out in January and it seems like it went straight to DVD. I knew as soon as it came out that it wouldn't last. My one gripe is the casting of Renee Zellwegger (spelling?) as Miss Potter. I have never been a big fan of hers. The rest of the cast was wonderful and appropriately all British. Why would they cast Renee Z when there are so many british actors that could have been a much better fit. Kate Winslet immediately came to mind. That said I will grudgingly say that Renee Z put in a very good performance. The movie took some liberties but since it didn't say it was a factual biography, I guess that is just what they do.

By pure coincidence, at the same time the movie came out, a local author came out with an incredible biography of Beatrix Potter: Beatrix Potter--A Life in Nature, by Linda Lear

We have a wonderful nationally-known independent bookstore in DC called Politics and Prose. It is in an old building and when you walk around the old floorboards creak and dip throughout the store. The sales staff are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. They also have author readings that are broadcast on C-Span. I'm very lucky to live about 10 minutes from the store. I went to three different author talks in a span of two weeks in January and one was Linda Lear talking about researching for her book. Beatrix Potter was truly a remarkable woman. She was a naturalist and an enviromentalist without any formal education. She didn't just draw and paint cute bunnies, ducks, and hedgehogs. She painted and studied all manner of flora and fauna of the english countryside. She was also a feminist and didn't marry until her 40s. Then, as most know, she bought up many farms in the Lake District that were being parceled off for development and kept them as working farms and bequeathed them to the english trust for historic preservation (I'm not sure if that is the actually name of the organization).

I bought the book after the author's reading January and started it but work got in the way. I've just now picked it up again and highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Harry Potter

Whew!! Well, I finally finished the last Harry Potter book. Without giving away anything, many lives were lost, tears were shed, but it ended the way it should have ended.

I've thought a lot about all the Harry Potter books I've read and tried to figure out their immense appeal to me. Although I've said as much, you really cannot boil it all down to the fight between good and evil. Throughout the series and especially in this last book, the author weaves a lot of current issues into her books. Ethnic cleansing and racial superiority regarding the full-blooded wizards vs. the half-bloods (mudbloods) and the muggles. The idea of absolute power corrupting even the noblest of men.

The one thing that struck me the most though was the acute sense of loss that Harry experienced repeatedly throughout the books. The writing was so poignant and mirrored so many feelings that I have felt over the years. I feel the books resonated so much more deeply with me then they would if I hadn't experienced so many losses in my life. As I was mulling this over, I felt quite proud of myself when I saw an interview with J.K. Rowling who said she felt the main theme that ran throughout the books was death and the different ways people approached and dealt with death. She said the death of her mother played a very important role in how she wrote the series.

So long Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid and the rest. You've been good friends and kept me company since 1999. I'll miss you. (Oh great, another loss!!)