Wednesday, December 31, 2008

May Old Acquaintance (never) Be Forgot....

Well, it's the end of 2008. The year can't end soon enough for me! This has been a very hard year for many, including Possumlady. Serious health issues for many in my immediate family, along with the death of three of my cats. Any year that a cat dies marks it as a sad year for me. When three die, words cannot describe it.




Oh my heart aches looking at all these photos, especially Butterball's. I still miss him somethin' awful. Sweet Pea has taken up the slack in becoming the new Leader of the Pack, but he does NOT suffer fools! No, benevolence does not seem to be part of Sweet Pea's style of leadership. It certainly was with the B-man though.

I did not have either Sunkist or Greybeard as long as Butterball, but they fast became members of my family and the lack of their presence in my house makes it less of a home.

*****************

Okay, enough with the sadness. My current pack have been begging me to put up the video of them opening up their Christmas toys from their most favorite Auntie, Auntie Michele. This is the second year she has given the herd an entire box of toys. Last year, they were all red. This year the theme was green!


video



Can you see the little snowman cat hammock? I won it in yet another cat raffle!! I honestly didn't think it would hold my husky gents but behold...





Woody and Sweet Pea, each weighing in at over 15 pounds each.




Here's Figaro, using Woody as a chin rest.


Here's Sweet Pea in a slightly staged photo ;-)

Here's hoping 2009 is a MUCH better year for everyone!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'twas the Night Before Christmas...

...and all through the house



not a creature was stirring




not even a mouse


From all of us at Possumlady Place, we wish that your travels are safe and that you've gotten to where you need to go!
Eat, drink and take lots of naps!!
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Trees, Snow, and Bookcases

I've never had a Christmas Tree of my own. I do love looking at them but they always seemed like too much bother for me. It's hard enough keeping my head above water trying to keep my house in order and all the animal inhabitants healthy and sated. The idea of getting a Christmas Tree, or Christmas decorations for that matter, did not appeal to me at all.
Then my mom passed away in February of 2005. While my family in Minnesota were going through her things they asked if I wanted her little table-top artificial tree, prelit, and it came with a number of little ornaments. Oh yes, please! So, since then, Possumlady has had a Christmas Tree with the BIGGEST surprise being that the cats completely leave it alone! Yesterday was the day to put it up.

Isn't she a cute little thing! You probably can't see them but years ago someone gave me a dozen cute little painted wood cat ornaments that I finally found and added this year.


We are getting the coldest weather of the season this weekend. The wind is starting to pick up and we should be getting gusts up to 40 mph bringing the windchill to the single digits today! Last night we had our first snowfall. Just a dusting on the branches this morning but it was pretty nonetheless. I took a little video and not sure if you will be able to see anything but I'll give it a shot.


video

I think two of the most dreaded words are "assembly required." I've been looking for a small bookcase for my bedroom for over eight months. I know what I'm looking for. Something with a little style, not just a basic rectangle. I've scoured flea markets, Craigslist, used furniture stores and catalogs. I finally found one that was the closest to what I was looking for from the catalog Plow and Hearth. Yes, it has the dreaded "assembly required" attached to it, but really, how hard could it be???


Here is everything right out of the box
Little Oliver checking that things are in order


Sweet Pea--Possumlady's official Snooperviser.
And this is as far as I've gotten. Why? Because the left-hand side does not line up with the holes drilled into the ledges. It's off by just a hair. Arrgh!!!! I don't want to send it back because if I can get it together I really to love how it looks. I think someone with knowledge of power tools will need to come over and drill the holes a little wider on one side for it to fit. Any takers???

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Look What I Won!

A box arrived yesterday from Moki's mom filled with all sorts of cat goodies. I won a raffle that was held to help with Moki's medical expenses. I must tell you that Possumlady NEVER wins ANYTHING, so this was such a delight and a total surprise. And, the very best news is that Moki is feeling much better. He is eating and drinking again and even walking around a bit. His temperature is still not up to the normal levels but it is not dropping dangerously low either.
I'd like to show you everything I received but the cat magnets are already on my fridge. The cute cat plate was used last night to serve some leftover turkey treats to the gang. The pottery bowl is absolutely beautiful! Did someone in the CB make that too? I just love that some of the things are home made.


Here's Chloe checking out the box after flipping around the cute little catnip mouse. The book "The World is your Litter Box" is now sitting on my bedside table waiting to be read.

Chloe again, reaching for the homemade catnip fishy. Sweet Pea (you can see his ears) is waiting for a chance to pounce on it.


video

Here is Figaro testing the huge catnip filled pillow and catnip fishy on the beautiful homemade cat blanket/bed.

I'm just glad that I was able to help Moki's family in a small way. My cats are VERY happy I did too!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

To Give Thanks and to ask for Prayers

Even with all the griping and fear about the current economy, I still have so much to be thankful for. Mainly that all my kitties are all for the most part healthy and happy. I say for the most part because there is always one or two with some kind of allergy or respiratory or stomach or teeth issue. Nothing life threatening, just annoyances. And, I can afford the vet bills when it is necessary to bring one of them in.


The blogsphere is another thing that I'm thankful for. To all you who I've gotten to know through your comments on my blog and from your own blog, thank you so much for your friendship, advice and good wishes.


The cat blogsphere is also amazing. There are so many out there taking in strays and fostering shelter cats spending enormous amounts of their own money. When someone is dealing with mounting vet bills, someone else will hold an auction or raffle to help out. If you read the comments on my past post on pinching pennies you noticed that I won a raffle that was held to help Moki and his family with medical bills. As thrilled as I was to have won the raffle, it has been tempered by the fact that Moki is not getting any better. Moki was taken in over a year ago as a foster kitten. He developed a severe neurological disorder that the vets think was a virus that was spread from his mother. Even with his severe disorder, Moki seems like such a happy and contented kitty. He recently developed a severe urinary tract infection, along with his temperature becoming dangerously low. Moki's family was hoping his temperature problems were a symptom of his UTI but the UTI is now clearing up yet his temp remains low. The real fear now is that the virus that has been dormant is now surfacing and affecting the part of his brain that regulates body temperature.

Here is a photo of Moki all bundled up trying to get his temperature up. You can read more about him at his blog savemoki.blogspot.com. So, I'm asking for your good thoughts and prayers for little Moki and his family this Thanksgiving.

With that, on this Thanksgiving Day, I'd like to leave you with some words from Rev. David O. Rankin, a Unitarian Universalist minister:

I declare a Sabbath Day--to walk in the wilderness of enlarged perceptions; I declare a release from work--to nourish the stamina to pursue ideals; I declare a special hour--to help cherish life's joys and combat life's sorrows; I declare a reign of holiness--to deepen our grounding in the sustaining mystery.

I declare a time for simply being and letting go, for rediscovering great, forgotten truths, for basking in the arts of the ages, and for learning how to live again.

Have a blessed and restful Thanksgiving. From all of us at Possumlady Place (just a fraction of which is represented in the above photo)! Oh, and I DO make my bed! This photo was taken very early one cold morning as I just got out of bed--really, it was ;-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pinching Pennies

Oh I had thought I had gotten over the time in my life when I had to watch every penny. Yes, I have made some very silly financial mistakes in my early years of living on my own--all a part of growing up. I also had the defeatist attitude that I would never make much money so there was no reason to worry about it.

When I started thinking about buying a home my attitude changed. I started reading books on finances and started contributing to my retirement account at work. I stopped getting a permanent and salon hair color. Just little things like bringing soda from home as opposed to buying cans at a vending machine started to add up. It was fun to see my savings account get larger.

Then I bought my home (no small feat for a single gal), having to almost completely deplete my savings account to do so. I was once again thrust into the poor house. That first year was nothing short of miserable. I existed off of baked potatoes for lunch and homemade cheese quesadillas for dinner. No new clothes (including underwear!) for the entire year. I remember if I got really depressed I would go to the local drugstore and treat myself to a new nail polish color! I NEVER went out for lunch or dinner. Any money I could scrape together would go for such exotic items as trash cans, garden hoses, rakes and snow shovels.

But, I kept plugging away. It’s been ten years since I bought my home and every year things would get a little more financially comfortable. Until last year. I have a set amount of money that is automatically put into my savings account with every paycheck. Starting last year I noticed I had to dip into it every now and then just to make it to the next pay period. By early this year, almost every month the entire amount automatically saved has had to be transferred to my checking account to keep me going. Now granted, I’m still putting a sizeable amount extra into my monthly mortgage so I can have my home paid off in seven years. That is something I will not compromise on. I NEED that security of a mortgage-free home by my mid to late 50s as opposed to my early 70s!

I also won’t compromise on my cats’ food. I was reading a blog and someone commented that she had switched her cats to store brand food to save money and they will just have to get used to it. Not me. That’s like me saying I’ll have MacDonalds dollar hamburger and fries every night to save money.

You know what else I won’t compromise on?? Toilet paper! I remember when I first moved to Washington, DC. I lived on Capitol Hill a block away from work at the Dirksen Senate Office Building. I lived in an old rowhouse with a roommate and I had the responsibility of keeping the bathroom clean and supplied with soap and toilet paper. The Dirksen Senate Office building is an old building with wide, dimly lit marble staircases where the housekeeping staff would keep their rolling carts of supplies on the landings. Well, I guess I sort of….stole toilet paper from the carts. Talk about tissue-paper thin! It was awful and scratchy to boot. I’ve been a Charmin girl ever since!

Can I cut back? Sure. Again, I just figured that at closing in on 50 years old, I should not have to be worried about every little penny. One luxury I afford myself is that instead of bringing my lunch every day, I buy a 5.00 sandwich down the block from my office. Always the same, chicken salad on toast. So, this weekend I bought some crackers, cheese and some good Tabouleh and have brought that to work. I’ll eat that every other day and continue to be able to get my chicken salad sandwich a couple times a week. I still don’t go out to dinner or movies.

So this past weekend I’m at Petsmart and privately lamenting the HUGE increases in the cost of cat food when I see these cute little cat toy mousies. Oh aren’t they adorable! The cats would LOVE them. I look at the price--$6.49. Must……resist……toy……mousies!! I hang them back up and feeling quite proud of myself round the corner to the check out line when I see another sign…all cat beds on sale. Well, I’m not too enthused by them. But wait! Is that a tassled PINK quilted cat bed I see buried underneath a big pile. It IS..It IS a tassled PINK quilted cat bed and on SALE for only $14.00!! Oh, this would look SOOO cute on my bed, wouldn’t it? Oh and look, it has a zipper that you can take out the padding and wash the cover. My eyes were glazed over at that point and with a big smile on my face, dropped the bed in my cart. Was it worth it?


I think......



the cats.....

Approve!!

What about you? Are you feeling the pinch? Are there things that you just won't compromise on? Enquiring minds want to know.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brrrr!

First morning below freezing. I'm in Possumlady Heaven!!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Buddy

I keep all my bird and squirrel food in my car. Living in a teeny tiny house with no storage space can be challenging at times. So, with my feeders all near my car I thought it made sense to just keep everything in the back of my car so when I get home from work I can refill the feeders and spread out the peanuts without ever having to go in the house first.

One squirrel noticed this and started hanging around my car. I have to admit he startled me at first, turning around to find a squirrel about a foot away cautiously moving forward. So, I started throwing peanuts to him. Then, I decided to see if he would take an unshelled peanut from my hand. After a little hesitation he did. He then started following me to the front porch looking for more handouts. Then, one morning as I was getting ready for work I saw him hanging on my porch window screen looking in waiting for me.

Thus started my friendship with Buddy.


video

I almost didn't post this because of my dirty threadbare wicker! I had decided earlier this summer to replace it but with the economy as it is and just finding out on Thursday that our usual pay raises (that in no way made up for the cost of inflation) were going to be cut in half!! Well, new wicker furniture is out for now. I guess I will just repaint. Anyway, enjoy Buddy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"He's really just a bag of bones"

(See update on Ned at end of post)

Article reprinted here from the St. Petersburg Times
November 11, 2008
By Rebecca Catalanello

He weighs a ton less than he should weigh.

His cheeks are gaunt. His shoulder blades, sternum, hips and spine protrude from his leathery 9-foot-6 frame.

But 21-year-old Ned, a captive-born Asian elephant from Tampa, wobbled slowly out of a trailer Sunday into a new phase of his life.

No more circuses. No more trainers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Saturday whisked him away from Balm owner Lance Ramos, convinced the trainer had violated the federal Animal Welfare Act as Ned's owner.
More than 700 miles away at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, founder and director Carol Buckley made plans to nurse 7,500-pound Ned back to health.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the healthiest, Buckley said, Ned's body mass is a 2.
"He's really just a bag of bones," she said.

Attempts to reach Ramos for comment were unsuccessful.
This is not the first time Ramos, also known as Lancelot Kollman, has had run-ins with the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
In 2000, the federal agency charged him with violating the Animal Welfare Act after an 18-year-old female elephant broke free from a chain and killed Ramos' sister, Teresa Ramos-Caballero. The elephant died soon after of unknown reasons.

Over the course of Ramos' career, which included training animals for the Oscarian Brothers Circus, he was also cited by the USDA for failing to provide veterinary care to injured animals, causing trauma and harm to a jaguar and tolerating unsanitary conditions.

USDA spokeswoman Jessica Milteer said Ramos is appealing a court ruling in a case brought by the USDA concerning his treatment of two bigs cats. RaeLeann Smith, a circus and government affairs specialist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, lauded the USDA for confiscating Ned. But she also wrote a letter urging the agency to pursue criminal charges. Ramos has been fined thousands of dollars before. But, Smith said, he continues to offend. "We've long been concerned with his abysmal care of animals," Smith said. Milteer said the agency is only authorized to impose civil penalties. But Smith pointed to a section of federal law that appears to allow criminal penalties of up to a year in prison, or a fine of not more than $2,500, or both. "These animal abusers get a slap on the wrist and they're allowed to continue," Smith said. "They shouldn't stop there."
Back at the elephant refuge in Tennessee, Buckley said Ned seems to be making slow progress.
He is easily frightened and seems nervous to wander more than 200 feet from the barn, she said. At first, he seemed unfamiliar with fruits and vegetables. By Monday, he was eating pumpkins, broccoli, corn — "everything imaginable," she said. A healthy elephant diet includes grass, grain, and vegetation, sanctuary spokeswoman Kate Elliot said. Buckley said she suspects Ned had little more than hay for his diet — the least nutritious food commonly available to elephants.

Born Oct. 10, 1987, at Busch Gardens, Ned was the offspring of two elephants captured in Southeast Asia. At age 2, he was sold to a circus trainer and performed in the Big Apple Circus. When elephants were cut from the circus lineup, Ned wound up in Ramos' care. He recently performed in the Royal Hanneford traveling circus, Elliot said.

But Buckley said all of that is behind Ned now. If things go as planned, he will grow stronger and eventually be placed in a permanent home. "He has the potential," Buckley said, "to live to be 70."

##########################

Welcome to the Sanctuary Ned! I've read in the diary of your life these past few days at the Sanctuary that they have yet to hear a sound from you. Poor thing. Elephants normally make all kinds of grunts, rumbles and squeaks. I and hundreds of others are sending positive and healing thoughts your way. You have paid a high price for your freedom.
UPDATE: November 14
From the Elephant Sanctuary's Ned Diary
Ned had a great day. He ambled in and out of his barn all day, carrying groceries with him. Tonight he greeted his caregiver with a series of rumbles. Each time produce and grain were put in front of him, he rumbled; when the browse and bamboo were placed in his stall, he rumbled; when three varieties of hay where tossed his way, he rumbled; and when a watermelon rolled across the floor, stopping just inches from his trunk, he froze, glanced up and let out a gloriously long rumble. He is definitely coming around!

Ned went exploring first thing this morning, up the hill and into the woods—he is a very curious guy. After a short time, he came back down the hill to the hay and produce spread around his yard. He found a watermelon, stepped on in and began eating. Eleanor, one of the Sanctuary rescued dogs, had spied Ned's produce and wanted to help herself to a piece of potato. Ned stood calmly munching away on the watermelon while keeping one eye on the approaching dog. When Eleanor got closer than Ned felt appropriate, he spun and ran at her. What a sight; lanky-legged Ned racing at stubby-legged Eleanor the Bassett hound, running as quickly as her short little legs could. Eleanor dashed out of the yard, stopping just outside the corral. Ned ambled back to his groceries as Eleanor tried another approach. When Eleanor walked under the corral a second time, Ned raised his head and barked a vocalization at her. it was awesome; he was not intimidated by the dog, he was simply setting boundaries. Eleanor froze at the sound, retreated outside of the corral again and plopped down on her belly looking for another approach to the prize potatoes.

Ned seemed to think this was a good game. He watched Eleanor and each time she tried to enter his yard, he would yell at her or run towards her. Her retreats seems less fearful and more frustrated that she could not fool this elephant. The two may prove to be good friends, we will just have to wait and see.



Wow, doesn't he look like he could just walk right through those bars?!


This photo just makes my heart hurt.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Black cats
Glitter Graphics



Flotsam and Jetsam

Has it been that long since I last posted? Wow. Between working, worrying and being obsessive about the upcoming election and enjoying this wonderful cool, windy weather, I’ve just kind of bowed out of the blogging world for a while. I guess that’s why I have my little “Blogging Without Obligation” (BWO) logo on my website.

Speaking of work, this time of year is when everyone goes crazy at my office in preparation for our large annual conference that we sponsor. It starts next week and will be in Dallas, Texas. Let me just say right from the start that I’ve always dreaded going to our conference. I’m a real reserved and introverted kind of gal and being around 20-25,000 people for a week stresses the heck out of me. Plus, since our association is the host, all us staffers have to be all smiles and “How can I help you” Bleh! So, this year I took a chance and asked my boss about a month ago if I could stay here and not travel to the conference. He actually said he had no problem with it, and it has been like a great weight has been taken off of me. I think I must have told him once a week how much this means to me to NOT have to go. Such a relief, you will never know.

So, what else has been happening in my little world. Well, about three weeks ago my sister and niece came over to go to my little town’s Takoma Street Festival. We had a good day and came back to my house to chat for a while. Sweet Pea was craving attention and my niece kept laughing at him because his tongue kept sticking out of his mouth. All you cat owners have seen it. A cat is cleaning himself and stops and the tongue is still sticking out a bit. Well, Sweet Pea’s tongue never went back in his mouth. As cute as it was it, it was out of the ordinary and it made me take note to watch him closely over the next week. He was still acting very normal, happily racing around the house, trilling and meowing. He was eating and drinking regularly. Then, on Columbus Day I was throwing treats to all the cats and when Sweet Pea looked up I noticed something dripping from his mouth. It was blood. It was so shocking but Sweet Pea, again, was not acting like anything was wrong. I tried to see my vet that day but he was all booked until the next morning. When I brought him in the vet found a decaying, rotten tooth that needed to come out. Luckily, I thought that might be the case and fasted him overnight so they could take him in that day. I got a call from the vet around 4:00 that afternoon to say that they actually had to take out FOUR teeth! Oh, poor Sweet Pea!! He had to stay overnight and I picked him up the following afternoon. He was on pain medication and antibiotics and needed to eat only soft foods for a few days. Boy, did I feel guilty. I talked to my vet and, I guess to make excuses for myself, stated over and over that he showed absolutely no symptoms of being in any pain. I also told him that since all my cats have been rescued as adults, I’ve never been able to look in their mouths, much less brush their teeth. The vet reassured me that some cats just won’t show the usual symptoms and the owners never find out until something catastrophic happens (like bleeding from the mouth).


Here is Sweet Pea just a few minutes after I let him out of his carrier when we returned from the vet. He ran straight for his catnip body pillow and rabbit-kicked the heck out of it! I think he needed to let off a little steam.

Anyway, Sweet Pea is back to acting crazy silly again, maybe even a little more lively. I’m sure his mouth must feel a whole lot better. Poor guy must have been in pain for quite some time.

A few nights ago when we were getting a cold front moving through, it was incredibly windy and cold (my kind of weather). I opened the storm door at some point and Woody got out. For someone not that bright (I can’t even call him a pea brain—Woody is a lentil brain), he sure knows how to sneak his way behind me and scoot out the door. Since Woody was a stray, he certainly knows his way around my yard so I just sighed and let him run, chase leaves and climb trees for a while. After about a half hour I went out on the front porch to call him. C’mon Woody…..come, come, come, come….W O O D Y…. He came barreling up the front porch and into the house. At the same time, I heard this galloping across my roof. Now, who is that?



Oh, look, its Trouble the raccoon!

He heard me calling and was hoping for a handout. Sorry, buddy. I'm all out of grapes.
Then there is this election coming up. A friend of mine sent me the cutest button so I tried to show it off as best as I could

Hmm, a little blurred

Sweet Pea: "I do not like to be used for your political propaganda!"

And finally.....

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Here Comes Trouble

A very quick post with a very short video! I wrote about Trouble in the comment section of Nina's beautiful and sad post this week about a young raccoon that was killed by a car.

I usually have lots of raccoons and possums coming by nightly for food. Lately it seems like the raccoons have moved on...all except for Trouble. Trouble is a small, young raccoon that still comes by nightly for a snack and, I really believe, some companionship. When he hears my voice he comes running to the door where I will toss out a few grapes for him. He tries to engage the cats in play, but a quick hiss from them keeps Trouble at bay. About a month ago when the storm Hanna was threatening, I took down my glass windchimes and put them securely in a cat bed on the front porch. Later that evening, I was watching TV and heard the familiar tinkling of my windchimes. It took me a while to remember that I had indeed taken them down! I walked to the front door and sure enough, there was Trouble, sitting on the porch gleefully tangling up my windchimes while clinking them together.

Here is a quick 5 second video of Trouble who was at the front door wondering when his grapes would be forthcoming. Sorry it is so dark.


video

Just a few days ago I saw another raccoon on the front porch with Trouble. Same size but much more skittish around me, which is a good thing. I've since heard the two of them on my back porch roof wrestling. Trouble has a playmate!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Animals and Religion: Caring for All of God's Creatures

Living in a large metropolitan area has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages of living in the Washington, DC area is being able to take advantage of so many free lectures/talks about virtually anything you can imagine.

I've written about the Washington National Cathedral before and how it truly is a magnificent piece of architecture, along with all the enlightening programs they sponsor. Every week they hold a "Sunday Forum: Critical Issues in the Light of Faith", a series of honest, intellectually probing, and generous-spirited conversations about the intersection of faith and public life.


Yesterday, the Sunday Forum's guest speaker was Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). He was there to kick off HSUS' latest campaign, "All Creatures Great and Small" It was an inspiring talk followed by a service dedicated to all living creatures. The All Creatures Great and Small initiative asks people in faith communities to educate themselves about the humane treatment of farm animals and provides educational materials about various faith traditions' teachings on animal welfare.

Here is what the Humane Society's website writes about the campaign:

**********************************

Eating is an activity with moral implications, even the simplest decisions we make in the marketplace can make a substantial difference in the lives of animals. It is only with collective action, in terms of personal food choices and policy reforms, that we can develop a more humane farming system in this country. The current system of factory farming causes serious problems in animal welfare, environmental protection, and food safety.

Few people know about the lives of approximately 10 billion animals who are raised on
U.S. factory farms every year before appearing on our dinner plates.

On factory farms, chickens, pigs and cows are warehoused in enclosures so small the animals cannot even turn around. Read more about how
egg-laying hens, veal calves and pigs live on factory farms. Surely there is time and space in our day to choose compassion, by reducing our consumption of animal products and/or selecting products from animals who are raised in more natural, less inhumane environments.

At present, there are more than 300 million religious people in North America. The author and essayist, Garret Keizer asks, "What if even half of them refused to purchase factory-produced chicken because that kind of food production is unjust to family farmers, unhealthy for poultry workers and certainly unpleasant for chickens? With a single stroke they could change the way farmers farm, the way chickens live—the way Christians witness."(1)

Sign the Pledge
You can make a difference by making a simple pledge to make more humane food choices for the month of
October.

Battery-cage eggs are produced by hens who are confined in tiny "battery cages"—enclosures so small the animals can't even spread their wings. Nearly 280 million egg-laying hens in the U.S. are raised this way.

*********************************

So, every month I will let you know what that month's pledge will be. I hope you will read it, think about it and sign it. This month is very easy for me. I'm not much of an egg eater, a dozen eggs can last me a few months! Even so, I always purchase eggs from my local co-op. They sell eggs that come from local Montgomery County farms and also from Amish farms in Pennsylvania that are certified organic and humanely raised. That means that the eggs come from free roaming hens that have access to the outdoors, all organic feed, no antibiotics, and are not de-beaked.

Kindness and mercy exemplify the best of the human spirit. Click here to pledge compassion. All creatures great and small.


Saint Basil's Prayer

The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof
Dear God, enlarge in us our sense of fellowship with the animals.
to whom Thou gave the earth to be a common home before us
and who share with us the toils, trials, and joys of life.
We remember with sorrow that, in the past,
we have often exercised the high dominion of our kind
with ruthless cruelty
so that the voice of the earth
which should have gone up to Thee in song
has so often risen instead as a groan of travail.
May we realize that they live not for us alone
but for themselves and for Thee
and that they, too, love the sweetness of life.
Amen.
Peace of the Lord


P.S. I've been doing the exercises my physical therapist gave me when I stopped going to physical therapy over a year ago. I had hoped they would help but I can't see any improvement. Sooo I guess I will have to buck up and call the acupuncturist this week. I've noticed a definite difference from weekday to weekend. It really makes a difference how much time I spend on the computer! So, again, I apologize for not commenting and even not reading many of your blogs of late. When I get a chance, I try to sneak-read some of your posts during work so I don't have to turn on my computer at home.

I have to say, I have a lot of respect for those who are chronic pain sufferers! This pain tends to sap all my energy and puts me in quite a depressive mood. Nothing seems to help---hot compresses, cold compresses, any type of OTC pain reliever--nothing. Yesterday, for some reason, I had a good look at my kitchen floor and YUK, it really needs to be cleaned. Not just Swiffer Wet Jet clean either. It needs a good get on my elbows and knees scrubbing. I filled up a bucket with warm sudsy water and got on my knees, bent over and the pain in my arm was excruciating! How dumb was that?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

In Need of Some Sweet Comfort

Oh, what a sad day. The man for whom I had my first big crush has died. It was just released that Paul Newman died yesterday at his home in Connecticut. He was 83.





I developed my crush in grade school watching old Paul Newman movies on TV. Then when I was a freshman in high school, (for reasons I still can't understand) my Catholic high school took us on a field trip to see the movie The Sting. On the bus ride back to school all the girls were almost swooning while they squealed about Robert Redford. I stayed pretty quiet until someone asked me if I didn't think Robert Redford was to die for. I stated, you can all HAVE Robert Redford, I'll take Paul Newman ANY day. PAUL NEWMAN?!! they laughed, he's too old! I started getting a little defensive. "I'll admit that Robert Redford is good looking but Paul Newman has class!!" That quieted them all down and we just agreed that I could have Paul Newman, and they would all have to fight over Robert Redford.


If you haven't seen the movie Road to Perdition, see it! It was Paul Newman's last theatrically-released movie that came out in 2002. I wasn't that keen to see the movie when it came out. But, since Paul Newman was in it, I felt I had to. I'm so glad I did. Yes, the movie is very dark and sad and Paul Newman's role was not very big, but it really took me into another world and I found myself thinking about the movie for days after.

On days when I need some comfort, I make fudge. Making fudge brings me back to childhood and my mom. She would make a little fudge once or twice a week. Always without warning, usually at night. We'd hear the saucepan being put on the stove and come running. In fact, making fudge was so associated with my mom that we put it in her eulogy.

When I was talking to her a few years ago on the phone, I asked for the recipe. "Oh, Chrissy, it's so easy. Just remember that everything is in quarters......well, except for the sugar." I don't know why, but I always laugh thinking about that.


Here is the recipe:


In a small saucepan mix together,
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter


Bring it to a slow boil over medium heat. When it starts boiling, time it for 3 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Then, take it off the heat and immerse it in cold water (about an inch in the sink) and start stirring. The stirring cools and thickens it. Stir it for--oh, I don't know--about 30 seconds to a minute. Then, pour it onto a buttered plate. Usually a small salad plate is big enough. Then let it cool. This doesn't make a large amount. Just enough for me for two days worth of snacking.


I'll post photos of the fudge making after I make my batch tonight. Somehow it just doesn't feel right making it unless it is dark outside!




Goodbye Paul and Rest in Peace. This fudge's for you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Glimmer of Hope

Okay, I'm putting myself out on a limb here, but I can't help it. This upcoming election is scaring the bejeebus out of me. I have literally lost sleep worrying what would happen to our country if McCain/Palin got elected. I'm a Democrat. I don't hate Republicans. I have friends and family members who are Republicans. We are all good people. We basically want to see the same end results, just disagree on how to get there. But, really, McCain frightens me. He is not the same John McCain from 2000. Sarah Palin...I don't know even where to begin. Her inexperience notwithstanding... her suing the federal government to take the polar bear off the endangered species list...her allowing the aerial shooting of wolves (so there would be more moose for hunters), her inquiries into banning books, etc.

So I had a little glimmer of hope today when I came across the blog Mudflats, written by a woman who has lived over 17 years in Alaska. I'm copying her latest blog entry verbatim. You can check out her blog at mudflats.wordpress.com.



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I attended the Welcome Home rally for Sarah Palin this morning. Hooo. It was an experience. About a thousand (maybe) hard-core Palin supporters showed up to hear her speak at the new Dena’ina Convention Center in downtown Anchorage.

After shaking it off with a good double shot of espresso, and a brisk walk back to my car, it was time to head to the Alaska Women Reject Palin rally. It was to be held outside on the lawn in front of the Loussac Library in midtown Anchorage. Home made signs were encouraged, and the idea was to make a statement that Sarah Palin does not speak for all Alaska women, or men. I had no idea what to expect.

The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It’s probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally “a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots”, and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received many nasty, harassing and threatening messages.

So, as I jettisoned myself from the jaws of the ‘Drill Baby Drill’ crowd and toward the mystery rally at the library, I felt a bit apprehensive. I’d been disappointed before by the turnout at other rallies. Basically, in Anchorage, if you can get 25 people to show up at an event, it’s a success. So, I thought to myself, if we can actually get 100 people there that aren’t sent by Eddie Burke, we’ll be doing good. A real statement will have been made. I confess, I still had a mental image of 15 demonstrators surrounded by hundreds of menacing “socialist baby-killing maggot” haters.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t tailgating when I saw the crowd in front of the library or I would have ended up in somebody’s trunk. When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep! I could hardly find a place to park. I nabbed one of the last spots in the library lot, and as I got out of the car and started walking, people seemed to join in from every direction, carrying signs.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn’t honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn’t happen here.

Then, the infamous Eddie Burke showed up. He tried to talk to the media, and was instantly surrounded by a group of 20 people who started shouting O-BA-MA so loud he couldn’t be heard. Then passing cars started honking in a rhythmic pattern of 3, like the Obama chant, while the crowd cheered, hooted and waved their signs high.

So, if you’ve been doing the math… Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around (links are appreciated) to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska, who know her best, have things to say.






Sorry the photos are so blurry. They are enlarged from little thumbnail photos. This one says, Polar Bear Moms say No to Palin.

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Yes, I little glimmer of hope. Now, back to my regular blogs on cats, elephants, recipes and other non-divisive things.

P.S. I don't know when my next post will be (watch, it'll be tomorrow), as the pain from my pinched nerve in my neck has gotten quite bad. It started getting really bad a few days after cleaning my gutters when my right arm and shoulder were at a weird angle for two straight days. Having to work all day on the computer really seems to make the pain worse. I have to figure out what to do next. Do I go back to the doctor when this surfaced over a year and a half ago, who will then prescribe six more weeks of physical therapy at 3x a week? Even though insurance covers the bulk of the therapy costs, it still is about $45.00 a week for six weeks. Not a small amount for Possumlady. Then, some folks are telling me to try out acupuncture. I'm really leaning towards that, though I know it is not cheap either. I need to check because I think my insurance company actually covers acupuncture. Well, the arm pain is telling me to stop. So, hopefully, I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pasta with Asparagus

Ahh, the first real cool front of the season has passed through. Highs today will only be in the low 70s with lows in the upper 50s!! Oh sure, we can still get some hot days in September and even into the first part of October, but they are now few and far between. Thank Heaven for that!!

Time to start cooking again. One of my current favorite quick pasta dishes is Pasta with Asparagus. I found this recipe online and it is quick, delicious and really (I don't think) not that bad as far as fat and/or calories go.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound of pasta of your choice

asparagus (don't have a measure for this, I just chop up as much as I want. Also, I've used both fresh and frozen and while fresh is better for the texture, frozen is just as good)


1 tbls extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of minced garlic (I just put it through a garlic press)

1/2 cup of 1% milk

1 egg

3 tbls of parmesan cheese (I substitute parrano cheese, a wonderful nutty and buttery cheese from Holland that is a cross between parmesan and gouda--melts beautifully)



Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions on package. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Throw in the chopped asparagus and garlic into the skillet. (Most recipes call for adding the garlic first. I've found through my years of cooking that garlic cooks VERY quickly and I hate to burn it. So I always throw it in together with other things that need to be sauteed.) While the asparagus and garlic are sauteeing for a few minutes, add the milk and egg together in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to break up the egg. Then add the cheese. Add all of this to the skillet and let it come up to a low boil for a few minutes (3-4) while stirring occasionally.

Here is what it looks like just after adding the milk, egg, and cheese to the asparagus and garlic


Here it is after it has been thickening up for a few minutes, bubbling and ready for the pasta

When the pasta is done cooking, drain and add directly into the skillet and toss with the egg/cheese/asparagus mixture. Voila! You are done. This tastes and feels SO rich with the addition of the egg. It really does taste like you've used heavy cream and a lot of cheese. It serves two good sized portions for a dinner with salad. The recipe can be easily doubled.


For extra comfort, I decided to use extra wide egg noodles. Yummy!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What Has Possumlady Been Doing

For now, I, along with everyone else here in the DC metro region is anticipating the arrival of Hanna. So far we've just been getting bands of light rain with no winds. The newscasts say the high winds and heavy rains should start around 10:00 this morning. I'm waiting for 9:00 to come so I can make a two block dash to my co-op to get some fresh french bread and some "happy hens" free range organic eggs.
Of course I didn't get any of the projects done that I had planned for the inside. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous these past two weeks. With the exception of yesterday and today, my AC has been off the entire time and windows have been wide open to let in the dry air. I have to say that the first week off was a bust. I found myself dragging all week, taking naps and watching mindless TV. Then as last weekend came I suddenly got more energy and started my outside plans. The biggest job I accomplished was cleaning my gutters!! What an ordeal that was!! I've hired people occasionally to clean my gutters but I never thought they did a very good job (especially on the after clean up). So for the last three years the gutters have been filling up with who knows what. With the economy as it is I'm trying to cut way back on spending so I made up my mind that I just had to grit my teeth and do it myself. Now, I'm not a big fan of heights and the 8-foot ladder that I borrowed from my neighbor was wobbly and kept slipping. I had to steel myself every time I stepped up to the highest rung and pray that it didn't topple over.


Ahh, freshly cleaned gutters just in time for Hanna! If you look at the upper right hand side you will see that this side of the porch gutter did not get cleaned as it is right next to my electric lines. I have no idea how I'm going to clean that little piece. My neighbor thinks I need to get on the porch roof. I think not.


I also found this beautiful feather just sitting on top of my gutters. Obviously way too big for the normal back yard birds. Anyone have an idea as to who it might belong too? A hawk?

After the gutter cleaning (which took two days) I turned my attention to jungle removal. Yes, my side yard is THAT bad. The back yard is just as bad but my neighbor put me in touch with the folks who work on her yard and their card reads "lot cleaning" so I'm going to see what they will cost to sweep in and clean up my back yard once and for all.



But for now, I filled four big trash cans with yard debris from the side yard and still have not made much of a dent.

Then my eye turned to an old wicker rocker that I had sitting up against the side of my house. It has certainly seen better days but I do like it as the more timid outside cats like to sleep there far from the Madding crowd on my front porch. So I decided to spray paint it. Lordy it took me forever to try to decide on one of two colors when I was at Home Depot. Just when I thought I would go insane my eyes glanced at the price--$3.47 a can. D'oh! I think I can afford to purchase both cans and see what I like best on the chair.


The blue is called Wildflower Blue and the green, Green Apple, though it really is more like a celery. As you can see I really liked the green and decided to go all the way with it.


Here it is with just the first coat on. Shabby Chic indeed! I like the color so much I may even paint the wicker love seat and chair that is currently on my front porch. Give the porch a little boost of color.

Yesterday was spent getting the second coat of paint on the rocker while also picking up and storing any loose items in my yard that might get blown away today. I also did two loads of laundry since my unfinished basement in this 1927 bungalow gets wet during heavy rains.

Today I'll try to rearrange my bedroom and do some basic clean up. All in all a delightful two week break from the world. I won't say that I'm looking forward to going back to work on Monday but the thought doesn't depress me either.

The cats, though will really miss having me around. Here is chunky Lisa Marie in her new favorite sleeping spot.

Have a good weekend and say a little prayer that my electricity stays on and we receive no damage from Hanna.