Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart are Cousins????!!

We have a sort of detente in the feline wars after an uncertain day on the battlefield with a few minor skirmishes. I believe there may be acceptance in the offing for the kitten, who is, after all, only defending her home territory against an invader three times her size.  Some sort of peaceful coexistence has been reached between the two combatants, at least to the extent that they can be in the same room in full sight of one another while peace prevails. At least for a little while. 

As I was about to finish this post, I heard some hissing and growling and turned around to find this.  The photo,  once I downloaded it, made me laugh so hard tears rolled down my face and the kitten came over to see what all the noise was about. Note the shaved belly from her surgery.

Sam came with that really neat bit of cat furniture, but this is the first time she's made herself at home on it.  Both have climbed around on it over the past few days, but not in comfort or quiet.  It's a good sign for both.  I've had a day of playing psychologist to a couple of cats.  The Brat is threatened by and frightened of this huge enemy thrust into her home; Sam is equally scared because she's in a new place with a hissy kitten on her tail all the time.  I've had to try to make nice with each of them, make them both feel comfortable and welcome.  Looks like it's worked, for now. Sort of.

I just watched a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed -- Great Balls of Fire, from 1989, the story of Jerry Lee Lewis.  As you might expect, it was a wild, crazy and very entertaining ride, much like the man himself, who did all the singing and piano playing for the film.  Dennis Quaid was wonderful as the irrepressible Jerry Lee, Winona Ryder wonderful as his teenage bride. The most eye-opening part of the film for me was the fact that Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart are cousins who grew up together in Louisiana.  Now, I've heard my share of oxymorons and dichotomies and such, but this one takes the cake.  Maybe it's common knowledge, but I managed to miss it all these years.  Hilarious!  Swaggart was played by a very young, very delicious and gorgeous Alec Baldwin.  I managed to miss his movies from this era, am more familiar with the older, fatter version.  Now, I know what the fuss was all about! All in all, great entertainment and great nostalgia, because I grew up in this era and I can't help liking the man's music. 

The poor man's version of Julia's Boeuf was unbelievably good.  I have no finer words to say about that, other than that I have enough left for 4 more luscious meals.  The storms passed quickly and with no damage, the tornado warnings were called off, and other than some cold days and nights in the offing, all is well.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


 Meet Sam!

There's a new feline in the house and, as you might imagine, The Brat is not too amused.  In fact, she literally has a hissy fit anytime she gets near the other cat or smells her on my hands. 

A few weeks ago an ex-coworker who'd quit to be "Mr. Mom" to his new daughter while his wife returned to work called and asked if I'd like to have their cat, since both his wife and the new baby are allergic.  My response at the time was something along the line of "no way in hell do I need another cat!".  In the meantime, I've been thinking about it and wondering if having another cat in the house might be good company for The Brat, and since she's so fascinated by the ones that come around when she's hanging on the front porch in the evenings, I finally called Daniel and asked if they still had the cat.  Long story short, they brought the cat over last night.  The new cat, Sam, is a huge and beautiful long-hair who has done nothing but hide under furniture since her arrival.  Daniel said they didn't see her for two weeks when they first brought her home.

By morning she was behind the chair in the corner, rather than under it, so I reached down and petted her and talked to her.  Eventually, after I locked The Brat in the bedroom, she let me pick her up and hold her for awhile, shaking with fear.  And even with all her fear, not once did a claw or tooth threaten, unlike The Brat whose claws and teeth seem to come first in almost any instance.  I held her for awhile, walked around the house with her so she could see where she is, but as soon as I let loose she headed under the sofa.  Eventually I coaxed her out once, and she cuddled and walked around a bit, but headed back and for now, I'm going to leave her there in peace.  I'll get her out, bit by bit, at her own pace.

So -- we'll see what kind of standoff continues.  I took The Brat into the bedroom with me last night because she had just calmed down and curled up for a nap, and I'll do the same tonight, to give Sam a chance to come out and prowl around if she wants to, in peace.  Sam, by the way, is about 3 times the size of The Brat and well able to take care of herself if the young whippersnapper gets too annoying.  Part of my thoughts included the idea that if The Brat continues to be such a little claw-and-tooth-first evil critter, I'll find a home for her and keep Sam, who is by all reviews a sweet cuddler. 

We had a really cold night -- down to 26 or so, depending on which weatherguesser site I look at.  Lots and lots of heavy frost that's finally starting to burn off.  Later, once it all burns off and unfreezes, I think I'll go out and turn one of the compost piles, because I need some exercise and walking is boring.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I promise you, I am not making this up.  The word -- Beeturia -- sounds like a joke, like some futuristic word, perhaps. Actually, it's a medical term for people whose urine turns red after eating beets, and it's something that afflicts a small percentage of the population -- about 14 percent. Including me, apparently. I ate a few beets from the garden over the weekend, and whammo -- red pee!  Since I've studiously disliked and avoided beets until this point in my life, it's not something I've had occasion to notice before.

In and of itself it's apparently harmless, but is a good 'test' for insufficient iron in the body and can also be a sign of pernicious anemia, which my recent blood tests also revealed as a possibility (from my own research, as the doctor -- like most doctors before him -- shrugged it off).  For years I've been seeing abnormalities in my blood work, which all the docs suggested was 'mild' anemia.  Not one of them, including my naturopathic doc, ever wanted to make any efforts to solve the issue even though I've been fighting fatigue and lack of energy for many a long year.   I will give the naturopath credit in that he reacted swiftly to some real abnormality in my blood work last December and referred me to a hematologist.  My next test was normal (because I ate lots of good foods to boost it) but the last one was back to that low point and the current doc just said it was 'normal for me'. Sure it is. But, let's not allow this to become another diatribe against the medical community.  I can and will get more iron in my diet and continue to check the progress with more beets.  Once my body has enough iron, I should be able to eat beets with no red aftereffects.  It's a good test, and I have more of them out in the garden so I can gauge my progress.

It's unfortunate that we live in a world where good healthcare and blood work are accessible mostly and sometimes only to people with money.  Medicare doesn't consider blood work a necessity unless a diagnosis is involved, so I can't have it done nearly as often as I'd like or as I seem to need and because I have a $50 co-pay every time I have blood drawn.  My local doc is practiced and good at finding diagnosis codes to use on his lab orders so I haven't had to pay beyond that, but $50 is a lot of money to me, people.  Pointless anyway, unless I have access to a doctor who seeks root causes for bodily malfunctions, rather than treating the symptoms with drugs, or who just shrugs blood abnormalities away as 'mild' or 'normal'.  If it was so mild, why do I feel so tired and exhausted?  Preventive medicine doesn't seem to be in Medicare's lexicon, but they're happy to pay for serious diseases and surgeries that come about for lack of preventive care or from poor lifestyle choices.  But, I did say I wasn't going to let this become a diatribe against the medical community, did I not?

I've done a world of research on this during the past few days.  Learned about heme (animal) sources of iron and non-heme (vegetable) sources.  Heme sources are most easily absorbed by the body, and surprising to me was that iron-rich dark leafy greens, such as spinach, chard, and beet greens, actually inhibit iron absorption, which is an interesting contradiction.  One source says that this is the case primarily if these foods are eaten raw, and I generally cook them so I am perhaps OK to continue eating them.  I'll make an effort to not consume them at the same meal as iron-rich animal sources however, to be sure.

I've also researched iron supplements, to learn which of the various types is most absorbable by the body.  I have some on order from my usual source, but picked up a generic brand at WalMart last night so I could start taking it sooner.  That was when I thought my order was going to arrive next Tuesday, but since it left the UPS facility near Atlanta yesterday afternoon, I don't know how they can do anything but deliver it tomorrow even though they still give Tuesday as a delivery date.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Really now, could anything be cuter?  Meet Dino, the pal I bought around 1987 in Atlanta, after someone tried to break into my apartment. Royal pedigree from German stock, sweetest little bundle of fur you could ever want.  Smart as a whip.  I loved this little guy dearly but had to let him go when he was six months old and my mother came to stay with me for awhile and since getting rid of my mother was impossible, I had to send him on to another good home with a local news anchor, whose house had just been broken into.  I want another Dino -- but can't really afford this quality and don't want to buy an unknown quality, at any price.

Yesterday at work the subject of Orcas Island and the house I lived in there came up in conversation and a co-worker wanted to see photos.  Some of the remaining photos are prints, others slides that have been digitized, so it was easiest to digitize the prints and put it all here for him to see.  This was the place -- a garage apartment just above Eastsound, overlooking the sound and other side of the island, to the west.  From that little window up there and from the deck, I could see the lights and snow-topped mountains of Vancouver, BC.
I took this photo right after I moved in -- from the corner of my sofa that I'd positioned just so I could see this view while I sat and read or watched TV or anything else.  The view from the deck was, of course, much grander, but this was pretty damned nice.
Sunsets were spectacular -- almost a nightly occurrence but always different in colors that ranged from blazing hot to lavender cool.  My camera lens just wasn't wide enough to take it all in and I always tried to shoot above my landlord's house, which sat below mine.
Spectacular skies, always!  Add that to the ever-changing colors of the water and island amid the mists and fogs and weather and well -- suffice it to say that this was a wonderful place to hang out for a couple of years.
Found this while I was rooting in the photo album, thought I might as well add it to the other 'younger Kitty' photos I've put on this blog.  This was an unknown outing with the GATC, probably somewhere around 1990.  I would have been 48 then -- and that's me on the right.  Sigh.

I'm enjoying this sunny day.  Did my weight work this morning then went out for a walk, running various errands, for about an hour.  Introduced myself to a distant cousin who owns the pharmacy I use and we had a nice chat.  Harvested some greens from the garden for dinner.  Reading -- a book set on Orcas Island which probably started all this nostalgia.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yes -- Again Today! Somedays I Just Can't Help It

I've got this love affair going with how the sun hits my stove on these winter afternoons, making me need to photograph whatever food happens to be there.  This is swiss chard fresh from the garden, tossed into the wok with lots of chopped fresh garlic, a little salt, and coconut oil.  Yum.

I saw this photo on a blog I discovered today, kissssing, and remembered once more why I've always said that if I could be reincarnated as any female from history, it would be Rita Hayworth.  She was not only beautiful, she had an incredible verve and joy about her.  I love this blog, by the way -- wonderful old photos, great quotes.

And speaking of such things -- have any of you been watching Jennifer Grey on Dancing With The Stars?  I'm sure not, for most of you.  She was 'Baby', dancing with Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, also the daughter of Broadway star Joel Grey.  But none of that really matters.  She was 27 when she made Dirty Dancing.  Now she's 50 and if you go to the ABC site and watch her on Episode 9, you won't believe she's a bit older than 27 even now.  Amazing.  If I sound envious, it's because I am.  ABC has the world's worst video player, but she dances early in the show and it's worth the effort just to watch.

The kitten still loves her new toy and, in fact, walked over and scratched the hell out of it a few minutes ago then curled up in the curve for a little bath.  It's looking good, folks.  Her incision looks a little odd this afternoon -- but I think it's just that the stitches are coming out or fading away or whatever they do.  No sign of the thread any more, but a little pinkness around part of the incision that's made me uncomfortable enough to daub a little alcohol on it a couple of times.  Needless to say, she is not amused at this.

This has gotta stop!

The latest permutation of the 'cake for one'.  Lemon poppy seed with a hint of sour cream.  Too damned good, and I'm doing this waaaaaay too often.  If I had a smaller souffle dish, more suitable for one person, it wouldn't be so bad. As it is, this one would feed two, and guess who eats all of it.  Yep.  So, today the remaining sugar in the very small bag I purchased is going into the compost piles, where it will happily encourage all those lovely microbes.

Captured from the Crater Lake webcam last week.  It's been snowing up here for a few weeks now, but the camera more often captures fog and gray skies, rather than this spectacular sight.

The latest cold front to hit the deep south brought cool days and drizzly, constant rain to this area yesterday and probably through the day today.  The good part of that is that the nights are much warmer -- various weather sites put our morning temp at anywhere from 57 to 61.  Not cold, whatever it is.  Merely damp.  After this, we go back to sunny days,  but cooler temps day and night. 

The Brat is back to normal, trying to destroy the house.  I need one of those climbing towers covered with carpet or sisal -- I think she'd make good use of that and perhaps spare the carpet and furniture -- but alas, I cannot afford one.  They are not cheap.

And then there is Netflix.  Yesterday I received the front part of an envelope from them, the part with my address on it, stamped "received without contents" presumably by the post office.  Tried to report it as a problem (and they even had a 'problem' to click on about receiving an envelope without a disc), but when I clicked it, I got a message that while the disc was expected to arrive on the 15th (yesterday), there could be delays in the mail so this issue couldn't be reported until the 17th.  Hello!  What part of 'received without a disc' makes you think the PO will somehow or other magically find and deliver the now unaddressed disc envelope to me?  Contact Netflix?  Forgetaboutit.  If you can't click on a issue, there is no contacting them, that I can find.  Tried last week on another issue.[edit, a couple of hours later]  OK. I got an email that the disc was received by Netflix and they would be shipping the next disc.  That won't work, since it's disc 2 of a 3-disc series, and I really don't want to watch disc 3 before disc 2. There is a phone number, but when I called it last week I got the sweet message that they had a high volume of calls and to please try again later.  Not too encouraging.  This morning I called, waited 2-3 minutes then got a very helpful young man who overrode the system and is having the disc reshipped. A frustrating process, but hopefully it will turn out ok in the end.

The day is young.  For me, there'll be a trip to the library and pharmacy, preceded by a workout with the weights.  After that, it'll probably be moments of peace and relaxation interspersed by longer moments of yelling at The Brat.  Stop that!  Get down!  No!  It's the litany of my life.  Yep -- I really need to get a life!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Peace from The Brat, and Fighting City Hall

The brat -- otherwise known as this 'sweet' little kitten, has gone to the vet to be spayed and I won't pick her up again until after work tomorrow.  I've been looking forward to this day and a chance to relax.  I felt sad to be leaving her for some reason -- and while it's nice to be able to eat in peace, for example, it feels strange, too.  Turns out that she's still a tad less than 5 pounds, and that if she's under 6 pounds they have to put a heart monitor on her, which isn't covered by the Spay Georgia certificate I got, so there's going to be another $20 and maybe another $45, if she's in heat.  That seems to be the refrain of my life lately -- another $40 here and there, what's the big deal?  The big deal is that I don't have a lot of extra $40 to spend and while the income is limited, the demands certainly are not.

She really needs a new home.  I've tried to be patient with her hoping she'd grow out of it, but I think her craziness is more than typical kitten craziness, and she has a serious anger management problem.  If I'm typing at the keyboard, for example, and gently move her aside when she wants to walk across the keyboard, she'll get mad and attack my hand -- teeth and claws and not being playful.  Other times she'll stalk around growling, waiting for her opportunity to retaliate (i.e, attacking with teeth and claws) and she'll retaliate several times for any given 'offense' by me.  She's sweet when she's sleeping, but that's it.  So, somehow or other I need to find her a home, now that I've spent $$ with shots and spaying.  It saddens me, but I really need the peace and I need to not have the stress this little critter brings into my life.

I'm struggling -- feeling very fragile emotionally -- and every financial or emotional setback or stress brings me closer to spilling over into.....whatever.  I always said that I'd know I was crazy if I found myself running naked down Main Street, and I'm not quite ready for that, but I don't like this place I'm in, and I have to do whatever I can to make life more stable for myself.  I've lived on the edge -- financially and emotionally -- for my entire adult life and at this stage of the game, that delicate balance is more delicate than ever.

A large part of all this is a noise issue in the neighborhood that I've been struggling with the city to solve for months now.  There's a church a block away, housed in an old corrugated metal furniture store that obviously has no sound insulation.  They hold services every night and all day Saturday and Sunday and blast out rock music into the surrounding area.  All I can hear/feel is the bass thump, which is something that's always driven me crazy, but when it's day after day, hour after hour, it literally about drives me mad.  I want to (and sometimes do) scream and cry, but there is no escape other than leaving home.  This morning I met with our new City Manager who struck me as a reasonable person and promised me he'd make every effort to get this solved for me.  We both know that the biggest issue is that it's a church -- in this city and county that are very deeply in the Bible belt and feel strongly about the right to worship.  We both also agreed that the issue is not a right to worship, but that they are breaking the law.  He's going to have to work carefully around this issue and I understand that and more importantly, feel that he has the political savvy to do so.  He's also been fighting a similar problem in the community he served in recently, so he's no stranger to the problem.  I sure hope he finds a solution -- because at the moment, and for a long time now, I'm sorry I ever bought this house and sorry I ever moved back here, because of that church and the noise that inundates my already fragile emotional system.

It's not yet noon and I'm already drained.  Think the rest of the day will be for rest.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Missing Eugene - Revisited

There are ways around most things, and while none of these really compare with being there, I've found small solutions to at least some of the things I was missing. My Oregon sweatshirt arrived yesterday, and I was more than a little surprised at the strength of the emotion that I felt when I opened the package and saw the logo.  I'm not an alumni, but I spent plenty of time walking or cycling through and around campus, which was only a few  blocks from my home.  I also spent hours at Hayward Field volunteering for various track and field events, including the Olympic Trials, so I certainly forged an attachment.

Do I dare wear this around here?  Lots of rabid Auburn fans who might take exception!

And -- this makes a pretty good replacement for a Dutch Bros. mocha, I must say.  In fact, I just finished one, after my morning coffee and breakfast.

Not much to say about the farmer's market -- no solution to that, other than a raft of fresh greens in my own garden.  The variety isn't great, and some things aren't growing as well as I'd like (spinach and chard in particular), but there is plenty of lettuce for big salads and eventually, the chard will get bigger.  Maybe it's time for another spraying of  Garrett Juice.  I pulled all the collard plants out and tossed them into the compost pile the other day, after discovering that I don't like collards any more now than I did when I was a kid.

All things considered, even if money wasn't an issue I don't see that I could ever live in Oregon again, as much as I love it.  Emotionally, it's best that I put distance between Eugene and me, and that's all I'm going to say about that.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

Need I say more?

I'm not sure quite when it was that I discovered I could bake a 'cake' for one person without a recipe.  I believe it began with chocolate waffles and went from there. The waffle part happened in Corvallis a dozen or more years ago and was so successful that suddenly the mystery veil of science that always covered cake recipes lifted forever. It's one of the downfalls of cool weather, for me, although I try not to have the ingredients on hand (cocoa powder and flour, in particular).  I've also intentionally avoided having pans of a suitable size on hand for several years now, but then I bought a couple of souffle dishes to use for cat food and water.  Naturally, these are larger than what I used in the past and hold enough for two, so I've doubled the guilt -- as well as the pleasure.

It's pretty simple.  I use one egg, vary the amount of flour, sugar and cocoa to fit the size of the pan, add a little baking powder and salt, milk and cooking oil and vanilla, and that's it.  The waxed paper collar is the lazy way of lining the dish so the cake doesn't stick.  Always tastes yummy, because I always load it with cocoa powder.

I did have some good, homemade beef veggie soup that I made yesterday from some natural beef soup bones I grabbed from the meat freezer at the dairy.  I guess that's kind of like having a huge calorie-laden meal then washing it all down with diet soda, but at the moment, I don't even care.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Missing Eugene

I've found myself really missing much about Eugene the past few days.  What brought it all on was the urge for a good Mocha from Dutch Brothers Coffee, or from any of a myriad of places in Eugene to get good coffee.  I didn't take huge advantage of the plethora of coffee shops and kiosks that proliferate everywhere in Oregon and  Washington, but I always knew it was there if the urge hit.  Rome has one Starbucks, and frankly, I don't consider that good coffee.  Certainly overpriced.  I can make good plain coffee here, and I do so, but a Mocha or Latte takes a good machine. Plus for me, there was always the sense of a little splurge involved.

I'm also missing the crackle in the fall air of Ducks Football Fever.  I'm the first to admit that I don't know a damned thing about football, and have never really cared to learn.  But Eugene is something else entirely when a game, especially a big game, is playing at Autzen Stadium any given week.  Literally, you can feel the excitement and it's catching, even for non-football types like me.  This year, I can almost feel that excitement all the way out here in Georgia, but it'd be a lot more fun to be on-site. I ordered a Ducks sweatshirt the other day, mostly for me, but partly to irritate the many Auburn fans around here. 

I always miss the Eugene Saturday Market and the 3x week farmer's markets filled with fresh, wonderful organic produce.  Frankly, easier and better than growing it myself.  No such thing exists here, and when you can find a farmer's market I'm afraid the variety and quality pale in comparison to Eugene.  And forget the local stores.  Chard?  What's that?  If it doesn't come in bags, or if it isn't collards, forget it.  Speaking of collards, after I cooked that mess of 'em the other day, I remembered why I hated collards as a kid.  Yuk.  So, I guess all those healthy collard plants in my garden are going to see the compost pile and hopefully be replaced by seedlings of something more interesting.  Too late to start seeds, so I'll have to see what HD has.

Back to Eugene.  Missing these things doesn't mean I have any slight desire to move back (although after the elections last week I found myself wishing I'd moved to Western North Carolina, near Asheville, which not only has great organic farms and farmer's markets, but is also more like Eugene politically -- more blue than red.  But, that's another story.  I'm content where I am, but I do miss that Dutch Bros. on the corner next to my apartment building.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

And the winners are....

 China Beach, First Prize, Landscape category. CNN liked this one, too, as do I.  A wonderful memory of a one-time hike to find this beautiful beach that is inaccessible other than by hiking down -- and back up -- a steep, rough trail.  SO worth the effort!
Ajijic, Mexico, First Prize, Plants category. It's nice to have an unbiased professional photography judge agree with me that this is a lovely photo.

Remember the GATC photo contest I entered months ago?  The results arrived yesterday, and I was  honored that the above photos did rather well.  With all the photog talent in the club, winning blue with two out of six entries is nothing to be sneezed at.  Didn't win best of show, however, so I can't be too egotistical here. Grins.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More Progress....

New plumbing! Not completely, of course -- just the drains, but the rest of it is OK, for now.  I should have no more issues with drainage of any kind. Best of all, that ugly mess behind the washer is gone.

 Before -- old pipes, old, too-short blinds. They wouldn't go any lower than this.

After -- washer now fits farther back into the space, is nicely balanced, and while you can't really see them, new blinds that actually cover the entire window.  Imagine that!

The men who did it were great -- good southern 'boys' who actually cleaned up after themselves fairly well, for men and for plumbers.  Nice local family that's been in the business for years, came highly recommended.

So -- one more major chore out of the way on the long road to making this house a good retirement home.  When you think about it, I've actually accomplished quite a bit over a period of nine months.  All the yard work, roof ventilation, replaced some dry rot at one end of the front porch, two new and one rehabbed window, old insulation out and new insulation in, vapor barrier down, a new heater, new washer, new cooking stove and now, new plumbing.  The goal is to work a couple of years and earn enough money to make all this rehab possible, so I can relax and try to live on social security.  I think I'm well on the way to that end.

So -- the sun is out and life is good.