Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Where Have All the Colors Gone?

It snowed this morning again. Not a lot, only a couple of inches, but as I looked out my window at the white snow, white sky and black branches, I wondered. Why is winter black and white and the rest of the year technicolor? Oh, I know there are "gray days", mostly in the early spring and late fall, but winter black and white is so much starker.

There is a blue spruce in the back yard. In the summer it is a lovely glowing gray-blue. In the winter, it's just gray. The ivy, which is emerald most of the year looks black in the winter. Is it simply the contrast with the white, white snow. or do the colors actually flee the cold?
But then comes a Downy Woodpecker
or a Northern Flicker to the suet feeder, quick bright flashes of red, or the subtle rose of a House Finch's breast at the seed feeder and the world is technicolor again.
The bird pictures are not mine, they are links from Utah Birds.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Whale of a Limerick

There once was a blue whale named Bill
Who tired of his diet of krill
He stopped filt'ring saline
And traded his baleen
For teeth, then he went for the kill.
Uploading this animated gif was a very strange experience. I tried to host it on Blogger's server, but the little legs wouldn't kick (which, considering how obnoxious they are, wouldn't have been all bad), so I uploaded it to another server I have access to and linked it. For some reason it uploaded multiple copies of the image. Kept uploading until I closed the upload window, then all of the uploads showed up in the Blogger composition window. Took me a long time to delete them, but now I'm down to one. Let's hope this works...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Of Cats and Kittens

Miss Mitten the silly young kitten
Thought humans should all be quite smitten
By big yellow eyes
And soft plaintive cries
And that food as a tribute was fittin'.

This isn't a kitten named Mitten, this is Brianna. She died about a year ago. It broke Kitsu's, the Engineer's and my hearts.

Brianna loved to play hide and seek and had a wicked sense of humor. As with most cats, she loved the bathroom. If I went in without her, she would dig at the door and howl until I let her in. She always stood guard when I showered to make sure I didn't drown. Kitsu also likes the bathroom, though she has never had quite the passion for it that Bri did. Kitsu's favorite thing was watching the water swirl down the toilet.

One day I was in there and Bri was hiding in the laundry hamper right next to the toilet. When Kitsu realized there was bathroom action going on, she came running in and waited for the flush. As she stood on her hind legs, watching the swirl, Brianna exploded out of the laundry hamper like a trapdoor spider from its lair and landed right on top of Kitsu. Kitsu let out a yowl, went vertical, then bounded out of the bathroom. Bri ran around the toilet a couple of times in celebration, then sat down behind it to order her mussed fur.

The toilet filled slowly. Kitsu, hearing that the water was still running and hoping to see some more swirling, reentered the bathroom and hopped up onto the toilet seat to get a better view.

Brianna saw her opportunity. leaped out from behind the toilet and rammed both of her front paws into Kitsu, knocking her into the toilet bowl. Splash!

I don't think Kitsu's feet ever touched the ground on her way out of the bathroom that time. She was a wet orange shooting star trailing a tail of water. She disappeared down the basement steps. not to be seen again for a couple of hours.

Brianna was smugly pleased with herself and totally unrepentant. It was quite a while before Kitsu watched swirlies again.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tiptoe Down the Tootsy Trail

I was contemplating my feet this morning, mainly because I answered the door barefoot and stepped on a couple of nail heads poking up from the floor. Ouch. I'll be glad when we get the new carpet installed. Then I'll be able to stop wearing flip flops in the house.

When I was a kid, I never wore shoes in the summer. My feet were like little hooves, I could run over gravel with no pain. Hot sand or concrete made me dance and sprint, though. Worst of all were the rare times I crossed the street without paying attention to where I was placing my feet and ran into melted tar. Yowzer, that hurt and it didn't cool off instantly when you hit the grass. Really ticked Mom off if I came home with tarry feet too.

She claimed that when she was a kid that all the kids chewed on melted tar from the roads since they couldn't afford gum. Gross!

I still don't much like shoes, but nowadays my feet aren't tough enough to run barefoot so I wear sandals outside all summer. When I was in college, I decided my feet were too pale to be attractive so I paint my toenails in the summer. Doesn't make my feet any more able to walk on gravel, but I guess they're more scenic.

Of course they'll never be as cute as kitty toes.

This is what happens when you try to scan a kitten.

I thought I was weird to be contemplating my toes until I Googled toes and found this page:

Now that's weird.

One Limerick and a Promise for More to Come

Now this is the tale of old Sadie
A very lascivious lady
If she happened to spy
A handsome young guy
She would whistle and shout out, "Oh baby!"

Hey Earl, this one's for you...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Says You

Had a great time tonight. Went out with five friends for an early dinner then on to a taping of my favorite NPR program, Says You. I showed three of my friends the back way to the ladies' room, and who should I meet on the stairs but three of the cast members, Francine Achbar, Paula Lyons and Barry Nolan. We had a nice ten minute talk, which my friends joined in on their way back to the auditorium. Sure made watching the taping more fun. And thanks to my friends for going with me, that's what made it most fun of all.

But, it's late and I'm tired and Monday morning comes too darn early, so here's a pretty picture to finish off the blog entry.

Albion Basin Sunset

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Why I don't share a bathroom with my husband

The scum dragon is dead. Tonight I girded my loins and cleaned my husband's stall shower.

Actually, if I want to be completely accurate, I ungirded my everything and cleaned his shower. Only way I know to scrub a shower is to get nekkid and climb on in. I sprayed the whole shower with foaming cleanser and went at it with a sponge.

I was sad to see the scum dragon go. He had been born on a previous assault on the shower when the hot water ran out before I finished the door. I saw him next time I went in there, liked him, and washed around him. There's only so many times you can do something like that, though, before the spouse gets genuinely ticked off. As a hint to use the daily shower spray the scum dragon didn't make a dent in the male's bony head. My Beloved says shower cleaner smells bad, so he won't use it and the only time I can is when he's out of town.

I don't like his shower anyway. It's one of those 30 inch by 30 inch vertical coffins. There's no place to put the soap that it doesn't have water splashing on it, which is, of course, why the dang shower gets so scummy.

The toilet is an arm's length away, directly across from the shower. When my spouse turns off the water, he immediately explodes out of the shower like Shamu going for The Big Jump. Water splatters everywhere. If I stagger into the bathroom, mindless in the middle of the night, and sit down on a wet seat... I can't think of a way to explain how much I hate that without using profanity.

Then there's the little issue of counter space. There is none. My Engineer has to arrange his bathroom accouterments across the span of the counter top with geometric precision. His television is the general at one corner and the mousse, toothpaste and other items are the ranks of soldiers. I can only clean around them. Should I move one little soldier from its assigned place, I feel like I will face a court marshal. And dare I put anything of mine on the counter... I've made a terrible mess.

So he has the master bath and I have the hall bath.

It works.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Back Story on the Remodeling

The kitchen ceiling had been leaking since we moved into this house. Drip, drip, drip on my head as I did the dishes. Talk about adding insult to injury. My BelovedEngineer kept insisting that the roof didn't leak, that the problem was the gutters had leaves in them. Last winter bits of plaster started falling. I left them on the floor so he would be sure to notice that it was more than raindrops falling on my head. When it looked like this,

he finally admitted that, perhaps, the roof was leaking.

We live in Utah. True, it doesn't rain much in the summer, but it sure as heck snows in the winter. We decided to tear off the old flat roof and put on a pitched roof. We would vault the living room ceiling while we were at it and update and modernize our 50-year-old house.

We started in July, thinking we would be finished by the end of September.


This is what happened the first of August...

When we had no roof but plastic, there came a mighty rain storm. A true frog strangler. A microburst preceded it. The wind didn't blow the plastic off, it shattered it, blasting shards of plastic all over the neighborhood.

The rain came in like a waterfall for three hours. Great chunks of the ceiling fell with thundering crashes. The basement flooded as the water ran down the interior walls. And of course my Beloved was out of town that week. His timing is always immaculate.

As a result, we have been remodeling the whole house. The roof and the first floor are mostly done now. Next week we will begin on the basement.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Seeing Things -- Weird Things Mostly

Maybe it's because I read so much science fiction, but I've never outgrown seeing things. Clouds, of course, have always stimulated the imagination. They have so many shapes and change so fluidly, sprouting a tail here, spreading a wing there, all on wafts of air.

Dragon cloud

The bathroom can also be a fruitful place to look for hidden creatures and strange little people. I've avoided thoroughly cleaning the glass door to the stall shower because it has a scum dragon on it. I see him as an enormous dragon, coalescing from the smoke of an ocean liner's stacks.

And of course the towel alien. Do you see him?

Look again.

He honestly did try to warn her
That a dragon lurked just 'round the corner
But she gave him a look
And called him a schnook
Now he finds quite hard to mourn her.

Monday, January 15, 2007


I am married to an engineer. And not the kind that drives a train. Nor is he simply an engineer, he has a PhD in engineering, he is an UberEngineer.

If you haven't heard any engineer jokes, here are a couple of classics:

An architect, an artist and an engineer were discussing whether it was better to spend time with the wife or a mistress. The architect said he enjoyed time with his wife, building a solid foundation for an enduring relationship. The artist said he enjoyed time with his mistress, because of the passion and mystery he found there. The engineer said, "I like both."
Engineer: "Yeah. If you have a wife and a mistress, they will each assume you are spending time with the other woman, and you can go to the lab and get some work done."

Two engineering students were walking across campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?"
The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday minding my own business when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want."
The second engineer nodded approvingly, "Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn't have fit."

An engineer dies and reports to hell. Pretty soon, the engineer gets dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and starts designing and building improvements. After a while, they've got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and the engineer is a pretty popular guy. One day God calls Satan up on the telephone and says with a sneer, "So, how's it going down there in hell?" Satan replies, "Hey things are going great. We've got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there's no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next." God replies, "What??? You've got an engineer? That's a mistake -- he should never have gotten down there; send him up here." Satan says, "No way. I like having an engineer on the staff, and I'm keeping him." God says, "Send him back up here or I'll sue." Satan laughs uproariously and answers, "Yeah, right. And just where are you going to get a lawyer?"

Of course that last one is a lawyer joke too, but there's a whole lot of truth in these jokes.

Living with an engineer might be many things, but - with my engineer anyway - it's never boring.

This limerick is in his honor

A Latvian engineer
Made odd calculations I fear
His circles he found
Didn't come out quite round
'Cause he never had pi without beer.

Shun the Frumious Bandersnatch!

No pithy post or lascivious limerick tonight. I picked up a virus and spent way too long killing it and cleaning up. Evil Language!

Saturday, January 13, 2007


"From ghoulies and ghosties
And long leggety beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!"
- Scottish saying

I think monsters are cool. Not real monsters like people who do horrible things to children, but imaginary monsters like Chupacabras and Nessie. I don't like them so much that I buy The National Enquirer or The Star, though those tabloids can be fun to read while you wait in line at the grocery store. I have taken out more than one book on monsters from the library and read about them on-line sometimes.

I dream about them too. A couple of those dreams were so scary that they will stay with me for all of my life, some of them have been simply totally bizarre.

When I was a kid, I kinda believed in the UnderBedMonster and in the magical power of covers to keep myself safe. My UnderBedMonster wasn't a traditional big, hairy, clawed, smelly creature, it was a hive sort of a creature whose components swam around under the bed like air fish, looking for anything that might dangle over the edge. I knew they weren't really there -- I know they aren't really there -- but, to this day, I am not comfortable if any part of me hangs over the edge of my bed. Occasionally I will test myself and let one of my hands dangle over the edge, but I can only do it for so long before my fingers start to twitch with apprehension, awaiting the bite of savage fangs.

What I would really like would be a MoatMonster.

The Salt Lake Public Library had one in its reflecting pond a couple of summers ago during the annual art festival.

Here's his picture.
Isn't he gorgeous?

I want him for my very own!

A monster lived under the bed
It filled the poor children with dread
It liked to bite toes
Would nip finger or nose
And would happily snap off your head.


Snoozing at the keyboard will make for a lovely blog entry. I forgot to go to sleep last night until about 3:30 because I was reading an interesting novel. Finished it. Said a couple of colorful words when I realized how late (or early depending upon your point of view) it was. This wasn't the first time. Won't be the last time.

I love to read. Fiction, specifically science fiction or historical adventure. Why should I read contemporary literature? I live in the here and now; when I read I'm looking to escape from real life. My guidelines are really fairly simple -- if anyone in the story is driving a car, I don't read it. Space ship, cool. Ox cart, good. Chevy Cavalier, bad. I will, however, make an exception for Precious Ramotswe's tiny white van (how could anyone not love The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency?)

I've been trying to write a limerick for tonight, but I'm too groggy. It's not progressing beyond the first two lines. I like the first two lines and I think I know where I want to go, but it's not popping into my head.

Limericks are fun to write. First thing is to get down the pattern. To do that I recite the old classic:

There was a young lady named Bright
Whose speed was much faster than light
She set out one day
In her relative way
And returned on the previous night.

And there has to be a topic. Give me a topic and some time to chew on it, and I can produce a limerick. I won't promise it will be a good limerick (is there such a thing?), but I will write one.

When I have my topic I think about appropriate words, then about words that rhyme with those words. I mumble under my breath a lot.

Eventually I start to write lines down. Sometimes I like then, sometimes I hate them. I jimmy things around, erase and rewrite, mumble some more. Then I price rhyming dictionaries on, never buy one, though. Mumbling turns into grumbling, then, suddenly, epiphany! There's a limerick!

But I'm too groggy tonight. My head is fuzzy and my thoughts keep sliding off sideways. So here's one I wrote a while ago:

A stern Bible thumper, McFlarity
Despised any kind of hilarity
He got down on his knees
And he asked the Lord, Please,
To preserve him from all jocularity.

Somehow a picture of a robin laying an egg seemed appropriate here.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Snow, snow and some more snow

A chill wind it started to blow
It blowed and it blowed drifts of snow
I got out the shovel
It was lots of trouble
But the snow blower just wouldn't go.

Dumb limerick, but true. Here's the moribund snow blower. Ain't technology grand?
The snow can make driving a challenge, especially the getting up the driveway part. I have a horrible car eating driveway. It's very steep, has a curve in it, has a stone retaining wall on one side and a drop-off of several feet on the other. Which is why I drive a Subaru -- all wheel drive, my winter friend.

Kitsu decided to inspect the bird feeder today. Here she is up to her belly, hollering for help.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Limericks and Explainations

I really didn't forget to do a limerick yesterday. I just didn't think the serious topic of predators went well with limericks, so here's one for yesterday:

There was a strange fellow was Mose
Who had a great liking for toes
Whenever he saw 'em
He'd lick and he'd gnaw 'em
And shove 'em up into his nose.

And now I'd better either explain or apologize for that little gem.

When I was in college, my best friend was... unique. He was a math major. For those of you who know any math majors well, no further explanation is needed. For those of you who don't: Math majors may be brilliant, my friend was, but their minds don't work like those of normal people. They're even farther from the norm than engineers (and that's saying a lot.)

I had been getting repeated calls from a guy with a passion for panty hose (I can only think he'd never tried wearing them.) When I answered my phone, he would moan, "Panty hose! Panty Hose! Do you wear panty hose?" I thought this was hilarious, so I'd tell him only if they were black fishnet panty hose and hang up.

My friend and his roommate were hanging out in my room one time when this happened and the roommate was totally grossed out. When I realized this, I, of course, went into a protracted and suggestive conversation about panty hose with my anonymous caller. My friend was delighted. Ever after that, if he saw me with bare feet and his roommate was around, he would grab one of my feet and cry out, "Toes up the nose! Toes up the nose!" and try to fit action to words. His roommate would practically turn inside out with disgust.

What can I say, we were a little weird, but we sure had fun.

This was the only even marginally topical photo in my archives.

Oops, forgot this one, much more glamorous.

It isn't easy coming up with photos either. I've taken lots of flower and landscape (yes, and kitty) pictures, but I don't want to get too redundant. I'll have to start carrying the camera and snapping interesting images.

And now for an equally edifying limerick for today:

There was a young fellow named Quiggly
Who tried to make love to a piggly
He grabbed on to its rump
As it started to jump
He hadn't known pigs were so wiggly.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


One of my neighbors, whom I've always considered to be a wee bit eccentric, has claimed to have seen coyotes in the neighborhood. As I was getting into my car tonight at sunset, I heard them for the first time, yipping and howling in the hills above the house. It sounded like there were quite a few of them.

Somehow coyotes seem like much wilder wildlife than the mule deer that come up on my front porch to eat the bushes. I think it's because they're predators, like the hawks that occasionally land on the back fence or rattlesnakes I've encountered in the shrubbery. Animals that kill to live bring out a more visceral reaction than those that nibble on plants.

It's interesting to me that man's two closest companion animals, cats and dogs, are both predators. Do we respect an animal that kills more than
we would respect a herbivore?

BadStrangerCat hunting birds.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Tonight's Topical Limerick

Coach Meyer had a BCS date
With number one Ohio State
State thought they'd be cruisin'
But they got a bruisin'
And turned out to be Gator bait.

Being a Michigan State alumnus, I can't really find it in me to feel sorry for Ohio State. Living in Utah makes me wish Urban Meyer had stayed here after his unbeaten season two years ago. Being not that intrinsically interested in football (I hate the noise they make when they crash into each other) means none of it matters a whole heck of a lot to me, but it was good limerick fodder.

RIP Ohio State

Monday, January 8, 2007

Looking For Subject Matter

What have I done to myself? I resolved to write a blog entry every day in 2007. No biggie, I thought, blog entries are short.

Ah, but they should be short and pithy.

Pithy, now there's a word to play with. It sounds so delightfully vulgar. But it isn't.

pith·y [pith-ee]
adjective, pith·i·er, pith·i·est.
1. brief, forceful, and meaningful in expression; full of vigor, substance, or meaning; terse; forcible: a pithy observation.

It's a word to challenge a person who's trying to apply it to their prose. And I do want my blog entries to be pithy. True I'm writing this for me, but if someone stumbles across it, I would like it to be worth reading.

How 'bout a couple of limericks with no socially redeeming value? Limericks are short and entertaining. My favorite kind are the slightly scandalous ones -- I'm not going to go so far as to write about that famous guy from Nantucket, however.

A girl who wouldn't clean house
Put on a dirty old blouse
She found in the breast
Was built quite a nest
Inhabited by a small mouse.

Sweet Susie went out for a lark
And decided that she'd like to park
With a bold teenage stud
Their hormones in flood
Lord knows what they did in the dark.

Perhaps I should try to write a limerick a day to either open or close my blog entry. That could be fun...

Today I will close with a picture of one of my orchids.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

A Little History

Kitsu and Sachi were both pound kitties. The city pound here posts pictures of all its animals on-line and that's how I found both cats.

Kitsu was an unwed teenage mother. She had the two cutest foofy orange kittens you've ever seen. I went to the pound to get one of the kittens but came home with the MomCat. She had mastitis so badly she looked like Pamela Anderson all the way down -- a whole lot of big boobies on a scrawny little cat. It was very early spring and Kitsu's kittens were the only little ones at the pound. I was sure that they would be adopted and that the mother with her raging infection would be taking the one way walk. She was a classy little madonna and I just couldn't bear that thought. Kitsu will be three around the first of May. She is a wonderful cat.

Sachi, who is seven months old now, was abandoned along with four other cats when her humans were evicted from their apartment. The landlord dumped them all at the city shelter. Sachi came home with me on October 31st. In honor of the day, Kitsu and Sachi made Halloween cats at each other when they met, but within about five hours, Kitsu's maternal instincts came to the fore and she was giving Sachi a face bath. Sachi recognised Kitsu as a MomCat and went looking for the milk bar. Got her ears severely bitten in response. Ah well, a girl has to try.

Kitsu and Sachi are the best of buddies. Right now they are curled up between my chest and the keyboard, purring. Makes typing more than a little difficult.

Friday, January 5, 2007


The plastic came off today. Weird! I can walk through the kitchen without tripping now.

The house is in the middle of being remodeled so the kitchen has been wrapped in plastic for the last month. Never thought I would get sick of eating out, but, wow, am I sick of eating out.

Kitsu and Sachi think the plastic kitchen wrap is a giant cat toy. They like to play savage hunter kitty in it. They dive under it and slide around like cartoon cats under a rug. Best of all is the slack under the plastic over the island, they can skulk under that and leap out to attack unwary humans. They don't seem to realize the humans can see through the plastic. I pretend I'm surprised anyway and squeak and run so they can chase me. I've been under the expert tutelage of generations of lady cats. I'm well trained.
Tomorrow I will scrub the kitchen down then go to the grocery store. Hope I still remember how to cook. Wish I didn't have to remember how to wash dishes...

It's Cold Outside

And it snowed all day.
I'm glad I'm not a bird.
I often wonder how they keep their bony little bird feet from freezing. I put out seeds and suet for them in the winter. The cats think the bird feeders are for their entertainment. Fortunately the cats don't like to get their feet cold any better than I do, so they are mostly content to sit inside the house and watch the birds, fantasizing what they would do with the bitty bundles of feathers once they had them in their claws. Sachi gets so excited that she makes funny staccato noises and quivers as she watches them. Kitsu just watches, flexing her claws and licking her lips.
Sure am glad I'm not a bird.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

New Year, New Blog

2007, a time to practice consistency, one of those traits I've never been strong on. Thus a blog entry to write every day -- every day I have access to my computer anyway. It should build character, or so my mother would have me believe. Setting goals and whacking away at them, consistently, is good for a person's character. I'll bet all the mothers tell their children that.

We'll see if it works.

Perhaps I should introduce the cats who will undoubtedly feature prominently on this blog.

They're good cats who do their best to keep me in line and sane. And to make sure I keep their dishes full and their ears rubbed -- they are cats after all, queens of unenlightened self interest.

It's getting late so I had best crawl into bed with my snoozing cats and follow their fine example.