Monday, December 31, 2007

Party Cats

We had an early New Year's party last night. After the first few groups of people arrived and it started to get noisy, Kitsu ventured out of the master bedroom where she had been supervising the placement of coats on the bed and ran a quick circuit around the party rooms. She must have liked what she saw, because her tail went up like a fluffy, striped flag and she proceeded to work the room as Official Greeter Cat.

Eventually, Sachi realized that she was missing out on all of the action. She came up from the basement and ensconced herself on the cat tree in the kitchen to hold court. It was a very successful strategy. Everyone who walked by told her what beautiful blue eyes she had.

When the guests left, the cats ran around the house trying to find them. Hoards of admirers seem to tickle their feline fancies. That and I think they've been missing the contractors and construction noise they'd been living with for the last year and a half.

Only problem, in the girls' eyes, was that none of the guests brought a ladder. That would have made it perfect.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I seem to be developing a bad habit of losing my winter coats in airports.

About four years ago, I got tapped in the Houston airport for one of those icky pat-down searches and managed to forget my coat in the rush to get on the plane before they closed the doors. Even though I left it in the pat-down area, it was lost forever.

So I got a new coat.

And dropped it today while running through the airport to get to my gate.

The Engineer and I ran back and forth over the path I'd taken, but did not find the missing coat. I tracked down the phone number for the airport lost and found and called repeatedly until boarding, but only got a machine telling me to call again later.

Dang! It was 20 degrees when I got back to Salt Lake City. Not fun for finding the car in the parking lot while toting two suitcases. Guess I'll have to get another coat. I really regret losing the leather gloves and cashmere scarf I had tucked in the pockets. The scarf was the Engineer's first Christmas present to me.

Under the circumstances (or any circumstances) I'm glad I don't have my sister-in-law's taste in coats. This is a picture of her and her sister clad in their long mink coats on Christmas day.
It boggles my mind that anyone would spend $6,000 on a coat made of dead weasels.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Farewell For Now

Tomorrow morning a jet flies from Salt Lake City to Detroit, Michigan. I will be on it. I will return after Christmas. Until then...

Happy Holidays!

Christmas Tokens

If I was rich in my own right, I would probably end up giving most of it away. I simply don't have whatever it takes to put the acquisition and hoarding of money front and center in my life. I also like to give gifts.

But, alas, I'm not rich, so I have to think of less extravagant gifts than a Porsche or a diamond tiara.

I want to give my friends tokens that say I appreciate having them as friends, yet that don't cost a whole lot of money. I want them to be pleased, not to feel obligated.

One of my friends makes beaded and bent wire jewelry. She has "earring parties" at her home a couple of times a month where she opens her bead boxes and gives instruction on how to build earrings. She taught me how, so I've decided to make earrings for some of my friends for Christmas. Actual construction doesn't take a long time, but the selection of materials does. I look for beads and findings (the parts that finish the jewelry off and give it structure) that go with the person I'm making the jewelry for.

My young nieces get butterflies and fairies. My cousin who loves vibrant colors gets rich red. It's fun to try to find things that each person will like and put them together pleasingly. Sure hope the victims, oops, recipients, like my efforts.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Casual Endearments

This morning the Engineer took my car and me to his office well before the sun rose. He's headed out of town again, and will go from office to airport later in the day. I had a back seat full of Christmas boxes to ship and, since his office is near UPS, I went to a restaurant between the two places to have a bite of breakfast while waiting for UPS to open its door.

As an aside: Geeze o' Pete! Do you know how much it costs to ship packages 3rd Day?!?!?!?!? I almost had a heart attack! Thank goodness for plastic money. The Engineer said to "Do it," so he can't complain when he gets the bill.

The waitress at the family-style restaurant was excellent, very attentive and on the shady side of 50. Having worked as a waitress in my teen years, I am polite and a heavy tipper. I think most experienced waitresses have radar that can detect this. She took my order and said, "That'll be up in just a minute dear."

I don't know about most folks, but it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to be called dear.

As she flitted around the dining room, pouring coffee and serving eggs, I notice that she called everyone dear, sweetheart and honey. This kinda took the shine off my warm fuzzy as I realized it was her standard mode of address. Ah well, she was a fine waitress, so she got a 25% tip nonetheless.

The use of casual endearments is a phenomenon I have noticed in middle-aged waitresses across the country. Back in North Carolina it was "darlin'." In Michigan it was "sweetie." I wonder if it improves the size of the tip or if that's how they address all casually met people in their lives.

I was raised by a Proper Southern Lady, so I call any woman over a certain age Ma'am. Men of a similar age are Sir. Can't help it, that's what comes out my mouth. I must admit to feeling rather foolish, though, responding to my waitress's "dear" with "Ma'am."

For the record, if you ever hear an endearment from me, it's not a mode of address, it's a sign of affection.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hotel Hell

For some possibly crazed reason, I have always thought that hotels and motels, being in the business of renting folks a place to sleep, should be expert at anything to do with beds.

Silly me.

I have spent the last two weekends at resorts. High-dollar, fancy-dancy, expensive resorts. (Not my choice, business trips with the Engineer both times.) If hotels and motels should know about beds, resorts should excel at providing their clients with sybaritic beds and sleeping environs.


In common with the cheapest fleabag flop house, the powers that be at these resorts had no idea of how to properly make a bed.

Last weekend it was the flat sheet on the bottom syndrome. The bed is made with a flat sheet that is tucked under at the head and on the sides. It's not tucked under at the foot because it's not long enough. The sheet is not centered on the bed, so one side is stuffed well under the mattress while the other is barely tucked under the edge. Then, just to make things more interesting, the top sheet and blanket are tucked snuggly under the mattress along both sides and the bottom. In order to get into the bed to sleep, one must pull the top sheet and blanket out from under the mattress. Which also pulls the bottom sheet out from under the mattress. The bottom sheet must then be tucked back under the mattress. Unless one pulls all of the sheets off the bed and remakes it from scratch, the bottom sheet is still on unevenly. The short side of the sheet inevitably comes untucked as soon as the sleeper rolls over the first time and bunches up underneath him, leaving him sleeping on the bare mattress. How happy for him.

Last night, at a ski resort which shall remain nameless, the bed was made with a fitted sheet. Of course, the top sheet and blanket were still tucked in rendering the bed unusable until they were untucked, but at least the bed was made with a fitted sheet.

Kind of...

If you've bought a new mattress lately, you will discover that they are making them thicker than they used to, which means that none of your old fitted sheets are deep enough. This $200 a night ski resort had not bothered to get new deep-dish fitted sheets to go with their new pillow top mattresses. The bed itself was comfy, but every time either the Engineer or I moved, the top corner of the sheet popped off. Again leaving the would be sleeper in intimate contact with the bare mattress.

Why doesn't the hospitality industry understand how to make a bed? My mother taught me how when I was in grade school. Neither concept nor execution is that difficult.

Ah well, I guess I should be thankful there were no bed bugs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Letters

The first year I was married to the Engineer, I made the mistake of writing a newsletter to put into the Christmas cards we sent to the folks we didn't communicate with on a frequent basis. This, of course, set precedent. Now I have to do it every year. Don't know why, when I am so frequently afflicted with diarrhea of the word processor, but I have trouble doing it. And the two cats trying to jam themselves between my chest and the keyboard don't help at all.

When one is writing a Christmas newsletter, one must find exactly the right tone, bearing in mind that it's the season of cheer and that it's going out to a wide variety of people, from kids to octogenarians, broke to well off, liberal to conservative, It's got to be upbeat, but the folks who aren't sitting on top the world should be able to read it without feeling their noses are being rubbed in the writer's smug self satisfaction.

One must also consider how to handle the important events that are not so good. One can't just say, "Uncle Ed croaked last May and good riddance, he was a horrible old grouch." One must think of some unmistakable euphemism. "We lost Uncle Ed last spring," might mean he wandered off while touring Disney Land. "Uncle Ed passed through the pearly gates last May. We shall miss him, but have warm memories of time shared with him to console us." Smarmy, but the older generation will appreciate it. (After all, it's going to be them one of these days.)

An advantage of not having kids is not having to think of positive ways to portray what they're up to. "Jillian celebrated her high school graduation by getting plastered and knocked up by some unknown young stud. As she didn't tell us until too late for an abortion, we are still debating the options of adoption or keeping the little ba..." Good grief! You can't say that! "Jillian graduated from high school last spring and is currently exploring a myriad of paths opening to a bright future." That's what the politicians call "spin." Likewise, "Jeb got caught smoking dope behind the bleachers at homecoming and is serving 16 months in juvie," is simply not acceptable.

Fortunately for my Christmas newsletter, nobody died this year, or lost their job, or ran afoul of the law. My brother did get divorced, which makes me very sad, but I never mention him in the Christmas letter anyway, so I don't have to get into that. I did slip in that little 'we're real folks and life's not perfect' note though:

The remodeling project continues. Two humans, two cats and Wunx~’s computer all lived in one 12’x12’ bedroom for seven months -- you could, literally, call us a very close family. The upstairs is mostly finished now, though, and living conditions are much improved. The newly vaulted ceilings in living and dining areas and master bedroom give the house a totally different feel. That it no longer rains in the kitchen is also a plus. We like it.

And so it goes, nothing too bad, nothing too self congratulatory, try not to be boring and add a little humor as leavening.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Night Noises

Bump, bump... rattle, rattle...

The cats and I are alone tonight, the Engineer's in Canada. I know it's the wind, but I don't know what it's playing with on the roof.

I'm not going outside to find out.

My ears are better than most folks'. I hear things. Mostly things that really are there, but sometimes I let my imagination run away with me.

In North Carolina, one morning at the crack of dawn, I heard something scrabbling at my bedroom window, trying to get in. I got my baseball bat and pulled the shade up with a snap. Found myself eye to eye with a hawk. We stared at each other, mouths open, for a fraction of a second before he shoved off and flew away. I think he was trying to make love with his reflection in the glass.

The baseball bat is my chosen protector when I hear night noises. I figure if it's burglars, I'll take out their kneecaps, then they won't be able to chase me as I flee. I've made more than one baseball bat patrol since being married to the Engineer. Once he's asleep it would take an explosion in a beer factory to wake him -- and only if the flying beer hit him right in the face.

When we were first married and living in Houston, there was a terrible storm one night. Pounding rain, lightning, thunder, the wind shook the whole house. I was sure a tornado was bearing down on us. I grabbed the Engineer's arm and tried to drag him out of bed into the central hall where we would be safer. I couldn't wake him. I couldn't budge him. I resigned myself to an early death for both of us.

We survived.

Next morning when he woke up, he asked me what the heck had happened that branches were down all over the yard.

Yup, my trusty baseball bat is my first line of defense against night noises.

Friday, December 7, 2007

If It's December, I Must Be On the Road

Why does everybody schedule everything in December? Don't they know it's the Christmas season and we're already busy?

The Engineer is a poohbah and has to attend important board (bored) meetings. I get to go too. (Click here for my reaction to that.)

Off Friday morning, back late Sunday night. I will try to have something worthwhile to post by then.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cats Rule, Dogs Drool

It's a 99.9% surety that was written by a cat. A female cat, to be specific. Esmerelda Vibrissae, Beauty Cat, Queen of the Universe, always claimed that male cats were actually little dogs dressed up in cat suits. She did not feel their disguise was particularly believable. Of course, Esmerelda looked down her regal nose at animals. a category which included human children under the age of 12.

The attitude of cattitude is probably why I like girl cats so much. I wish I had more of it myself.

Dogs are nicer folks, but... they do drool. Click here for a good cartoon.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Shopping

Though kids can be naughty or nice
At Christmas they all share a vice
Our whole culture's got it
We're sadly besotted
With how much we can get for what price.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Picnic Table Report

Finally -- the first real snow of the year!
And still coming down!

The Engineer's going skiing tomorrow!