Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Back in a Few

I'm off to go get drunk celebrate the New Year! I hope everybody has a happy one, and I'll see you all on Monday.

If you're looking for reading material, you can scroll down to read about my embarrassing dessert obsession, or scroll down even further to read Possibly The Longest Post In The History Of The World, which could very possibly take up your entire weekend (warning: it's about cat toys). (Congrats again, Bridgett!)

See you Monday!

(YET ANOTHER gratuitous cute kitten pic. Hey, it's MY blog. Heh.)

My Secret

Confession time - I spent last evening making my absolute favorite dessert of all time - Jello Crown Jewel Dessert, as prepared from a recipe from my Mom's old "Joys of Jello" cookbook.

I wish I was kidding, but I'm not. This is probably the most complicated thing I make (which says something about my culinary skills, I'm afraid). The "total time" listed for the recipe is nine hours, forty-five minutes, which is freaking insane. I guess people had more time back in the fifties, when this recipe first appeared. Granted, that time includes the jello setting time, but still. Realistically, you have to spread this sucker out over three days. Day one: Make jello and let it set. Day two: Assemble and let the whole thing set (that was last night's job.) Day three: You FINALLY get to eat it.

This recipe takes four different kinds of jello, pineapple juice, graham crackers, and a shit-ton of Cool Whip, among other things. And when assembled, it kinda looks like somebody already ate it once and puked it back up again.

Sound nasty-ass? Oh yes it does. But I kid you not, this is the absolute best dessert ever. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I've been eating this stuff since I was a baby, and my Mom always made it for my birthday, and .......... memmoorrrrrieeeessss ....... light the corners of my miiiiiinnnnddddddd................. *snif*

Seriously, I love this dessert, and when the clock strikes midnight tonight, I'm gonna have a big old plateful of it right in front of me. That's a promise.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cat Toy Review! - Updated!

Disclaimer: If you do not own cats, this will be the most boring (and longest!) post you've ever read. Of course, the same may also apply if you DO own cats, so whatever, you've been warned.

The other day the cats broke their Cat Attack toy - just snapped the wand off right at the base. This toy was battery operated so that the wand would swing around by itself for the cats to bat at. And while they liked it, it was by no means their favorite toy - it would hold their attention for a few minutes, and then they'd wander away.

So I got to thinking about all the cat toys I've bought over the years, both for these guys and other cats, and decided to do a little review. Here we go!

1. Cat Attack (see pic above)

Cost: Approximately twenty bucks when I bought it several years ago for Rocky, which was the most I'd ever spent on a cat toy.

Description: Battery operated. Round base with a wavy wand thing that would randomly wiggle around. Also came with a remote control so you could make it run around on smooth surfaces, i.e., the kitchen floor.

Did they play with it? Sometimes, more so when they were kittens. They preferred to have it placed on an elevated surface so they could leap for the wavy wand thing. Overall, mostly a "meh".

2. Cat Track Cat Toy

Cost: Around ten bucks.

Description: Basically a hollow round plastic tube with a ball inside and openings for inserting paws to bat the ball around.

Did they play with it? For about thirty seconds, until they realized they could not actually get the ball out of the tube, and then interest was lost.

3. Cat Play Cube

Cost: $3.88 at Walmart.

Description: Kind of a pop-up tent, for cats.

Did they play with it? All. the. time. They especially love for me to dangle a toy into one of the openings, so they can pounce on the cube and collapse it.

4. Pure Commotion

Cost: $24.99 at PetSmart, although I later found it on line at Walmart for $14.99. Figures.

Description: See picture above. Battery-operated and timer/speed controlled, with a feather that flings around.

Did they play with it? Little Girl enjoys it for brief periods; The Runt has been more or less ignoring it. And they knocked the wand off the base, so I glued it back on; then they knocked it off AGAIN, so I super-glued it on; then The Runt gave it a body check and knocked the wand off again, so I electrical-taped it back on. The wand is staying on for now.

5. Cat Dancer

Cost: Around three bucks.

Description: Piece of flexible wire with cardboard chew-things on each end.

Did they play with it? This is their absolute favorite toy. They LOVE for me to drag it around the house so they can chase it and pounce on it.

6. Piece of Yarn

Cost: Free, if you've got some yarn lying around.

Description: Yarn. duh.

Did they play with it? Oh, they love for me to drag a length of yarn around for them to chase, but after pulling several inches of it out of The Runt's mouth after he decided it would be a good idea to eat the yarn, I've been a little wary of this.

Wow, this is taking a while. Anybody still there? Hello?

7. Soda bottle tops, crumpled-up cigarette packs, etc. Aka: Stuff that's going in the garbage, with a quick fling past the cats first to see if they're interested.

Cost: Free, by the time it gets to the cats.

Description: Stuff that's going in the garbage, with a quick toss past the cats to see if they want to play with it.

Did they play with it? They'll play with anything, as long as it's moving. Once the movement stops, they're not interested.

8. Ba-Da-Beam laser toy

Cost: Around seventeen bucks, if I remember correctly.

Description: See pic above. Battery-operated toy emits a laser light beam that circles around for the cats to chase.

Did they play with it? Yes! This is one of their favorites. I set it so the light circles around on the wall, and they love to jump after it. And it has a timer, so if you forget to turn it off, the batteries don't run down.

9. Hand-held laser pointer.

Cost: Around five bucks.

Description: Laser pointer, like you'd use in the office.

Did they play with it? Oh, they love for me to go room to room in the apartment, shining the light around, so they can bounce off the walls, the furniture and each other trying to "catch" the light. A big success, if tiring (for me).

10. Fling-Ama.

Cost: About twenty-five bucks

Description: This is a vertical toy that hangs from a doorknob. It has a motorized track with a string that runs around and around for the cats to bat at.

Did they play with it? I got this for them for Christmas, and right now, they think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. They play with it and play with it, and I'm afraid that The Runt's gonna break it pretty soon because he's so rough with it. The only downside is that there's no timer; if you forget to turn it off before you leave the house, you're coming home to a dead battery.

11. Hartz Cat Activity Center

Cost: Around eight bucks

Description: Crinkly plastic mat with wand-type toys sticking out of it.

Did they play with it? Let's insert a big bronx cheer here. They totally ignored this thing.

12. Crackle Chute Play Tube

Cost: Eight Bucks

Description: Flexible tube made out of some type of crinkly material that sounds like plastic bags being scrunched up.

Did they play with it? Oh yeah, they like to ambush each other by waiting until one of them's in the tube and then pouncing. It's about four feet long, though, so it does take up quite a bit of room. But they enjoy it.

13. Motor Mouse

Cost: $18.00 plus tax

Description: Like the Cat Track Cat Toy (#2 above), but battery operated and with a mouse that runs around inside the tube (see pic above). The mouse is free-spinning, so they can play with it even when it's turned off.

Did they play with it? Oh, they were fascinated when I first brought this home, and I thought I had a huge hit on my hands, but then they lost interest. And that's when I finally figured it out: These guys only have an attention span of about three minutes; that's the longest amount of time they'll play with ANYTHING before giving in to their ennui.

Updated to add:

14. Undercover Mouse
Cost: $30.00 *gulp*
Description: A circular plastic mat with a battery-operated wand underneath that scurries about.
Did they play with it? Oh yeah, they like this one. For now, anyway.

So in conclusion (whew!), their favorites are the hand-held laser pointer and the Cat Dancer, because they can chase them all over the apartment (as long as I'm on the other end, of course.) They also love to pounce on the cat play cube, and play with the Fling-Ama. About the only thing they wouldn't play with at all was the Hartz Cat Activity Center. And again, keep in mind that their very short attention spans mean that NOTHING will hold their interest for very long.

If anybody has a cat toy that can hold the cat's attention for more time than it takes to poach an egg, let me know!

Oh, and if anybody's actually made it to the end of this thing, CONGRATULATIONS! You deserve a prize or something .......... wait! That's a great idea! The first person to make it to this part and leave a comment will get a fabulous! prize! (not a cat toy, I promise.) Yippee!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Guess What Santa Brought Me for Christmas?!

A new downstairs tenant. Who likes to crank the bass on his stereo really, really LOUD. All. The. Time.

Folks, I'm done fighting this fight. I've had it. Listie, I think it was you who mentioned that your mother was a realtor and could possibly help me find an agent in this area - does that offer still stand?

The Mansion

A while back, I was at the local museum, which is housed in a formerly privately-owned mansion, taking more pictures of the stained glass. This statue is positioned in front of the big windows. There is a plaque on the statue, but it's too dark in that part of the mansion to read it, so I don't know the provenance.

Can you imagine living in a house with windows like that? And statues like that? Too cool.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas, 1966

That's me in the front. Check out my haircut - can you tell that Dad really, really wanted another boy? Nice sideburns, for Pete's sake! That's my Dad kneeling behind me - he was the present giver-outer. And with six kids, that could take a long time. Oh, and my Dad always wore those plaid shirts - always. No solid colors for him! And that's my brother in the back - nice widow's peak, bro! I think he actually has more hair now, forty years later, than he had back then.

Thanks, everybody, for reading all my stuff this past year - it still amazes me that anybody actually reads this blog, and it's the best Christmas gift I could hope for.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Want some lichen-flavored gum? It'll perk you up!"

The only Christmas TV special that I watch anymore is "Olive the Other Reindeer", simply because it's the most twisted Christmas cartoon I've ever seen. Some of the characters are drawn positively picasso-esque, and any special with a cameo by Michael Stipe as an angry reindeer is okay with me.

As far as the others - Rudolph, the Grinch, etc. - meh. I used to watch them every year, but a few years back, I realized that once you've seen a show ten or twenty times, it's really no longer required watching.

I like the 1970 movie version of Scrooge, with Albert Finney. I've got an old tape of SNL Christmas skits that I usually watch every year. And I usually watch "The Homecoming", the original "Waltons" movie, every Christmas. Oh, and "Love, Actually", because while it's not actually a Christmas movie, it is set in the Christmas season, and it's really cute.

How about you? What's your favorite Christmas TV special/movie? Least favorite?

The Big Reveal!

Oh Stabby Tree, Oh Stabby Tree,
How prickly are your branches!

And no, it's not really crooked - blame the photographer.

And yes, that IS a Bill's banner in the window - Hey, it was a game day!

Oh, and I discovered that for whatever reason, there really IS a live tree shortage in this area this year! Several people I talked to had the same problem I had - none of the usual tree-sellers had any trees.

So that's my excuse for the Charlie Brown tree. Take it or leave it.

Movie Review - "The Orphanage"

Or, "El Orfanato", in its native Spanish. No spoilers ahead; it's okay to read this if you haven't seen the movie yet.

This is a thriller about a woman whose child disappears, and the lengths she goes through to find him. I thought it was really creepy, and the ending was a knockout. There's almost no gore, but I still wouldn't let the young'uns watch this one, as I think the subject matter would freak a kid right out. Oh, and it's in Spanish with subtitles, if you're a subtitle-hater.

I enjoyed this one; I'd like to watch it again, because I think I missed some of the subtler stuff on the first viewing. Recommended!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Three Days to Go .....

..... and I'm almost ready. I just have to go to the grocery store, go to the pet store to pick up some Greenies for the cats (Yes, they will get treats, and more toys, for Christmas - Shut up!), wrap the office gifts, and ........ bake a birthday cake? WTF?

Somehow, I got talked into baking a birthday cake for the in-law who gets all pissy if his birthday is not properly acknowledged - on Christmas day.

I think the last time I tried to decorate a cake was when I was in junior high - and I misspelled the word "Valentine's". I could be in trouble here.

Hope you're not expecting too much, in-law.

Just Happy To Be Here

With the exception of The Runt, everybody in my household almost met their makers this weekend.

On Saturday morning, I discovered that the spike bar that supplies power to the fish tank had come unplugged, and the tank water was down to 66 degrees. The fish were sluggish, but recovered once the tank got back up to temp.

On Saturday afternoon, I made possibly one of the worst decisions of my life by deciding to take a back road home from the grocery store. I had assumed that the town would have plowed and sanded this particular twisty, turny, extremely steep road by then; I was wrong. Suffice it to say that I was shaking by the time I finally got off that hill.

Yesterday, Little Girl disappeared for several hours in the snow and cold and wind. I finally found her in the garden, snuggled next to Mr. Z (a garden statue) underneath his tarp.

So this morning, when it's seven degrees out and windy? That's okay. We're all still here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it -

........ um, guys? L'il snowflakes? You can stop now. You've worked hard all morning, and you've already laid down several inches of the white stuff, so it's okay to knock off and call it a day.

....... what? WHAT?! Whaddaya mean, SIX TO TWELVE INCHES?! You say your contract calls for six to twelve today? Come on, we all know that the maximum required output is half of the minimum forecast, and you've already put down at least three, so it's time to quit! I mean it!

....... what? You say you're going to start snowing harder?! You say you're trying to improve your job performance? And you're gonna do it again on Sunday?

Guys, this isn't funny anymore! Knock it off! STOP SNOWING!

Snowflakes. They never listen.

This One's for the Haters

Thinking about Stabby, the Homicidal Christmas Tree, got me thinking about the word "stabby", which pretty much describes some of us this time of year. So I came up with the following song, sung to the tune of "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas":

Have a stabby, jabby Christmas
It's the worst time of the year
I don't know
If there'll be woe
But I'm sure woe is near

Have a stabby, jabby Christmas
As you're driving through the sleet
Say, "Hell, no,
I just won't go
To one more meet-and-greet."

Uh, oh, I broke my toe
Struggling with the tree
At least nobody's sick
Wait - was that a sneeze?

Have a stabby, jabby Christmas
Better drink a ton of beer
Oh, be crabby
Have a stabby, jabby Christmas this year!

Thankyou. Thankyouverymuch.

But wait! I've got more ......

Said the night fart to the little lamb,
Do you smell what I smell?
Bringing tears to eyes, little lamb,
Do you smell what I smell?

I guess I'm still stuck in sixth grade .......

Thursday, December 18, 2008

And It Wasn't Even On My List!

Guess who just got a raise?!

A week before Christmas, no less!

Thanks, Santa! Boss!

Late Last Night, Upon the Stair ........

Well, not last night, but a couple of weekends ago, I finally met my new neighbor, who moved into the vacant apartment next to mine.

And it's really weird, because as it turns out, he had actually moved in a few days before I met him, and I had no idea that anyone was even living over there because he's so damn quiet.

A quiet neighbor! Finally! It's a miracle! A f*cking Christmas miracle! I hope he never, ever moves out. We've talked a little bit; he's originally from Pakistan, and moved here from The City (what us hicks call NYC) to take a job with a local company.

And then I started noticing the coins. Pennies, dimes, sometimes quarters, scattered on the back porch by his door and on the stairs. At first I thought he was just accidentally dropping some change as he dug for his apartment key. And I picked up the change, because The Runt will attempt to eat just about anything, and I didn't want to be finding coinage in the litterbox. But the coins have started to occur more regularly, and I'm starting to wonder. Is this some sort of Pakistani custom? Is he purposely scattering the change to tempt the gods to bring him luck or something? Because if so, I don't want to be spoiling the tradition by picking up the coins; The Runt'll just have to take his chances in the gastrointestinal department.

I tried looking on line and couldn't find any info. Has anybody heard of coin-scattering as a tradition?

(More) Recently Read

Standard disclaimer: Feel free to skip this.

The Story of My Father by Sue Miller - Memoir about a woman caring for her father who has Alzheimer's disease. Mesmerizing. My Mom has Alzheimer's, so I could really relate to this book. At one point she talks about how her Dad thought his vision was going, when he was actually losing his ability to read - my Mom went through that exact same thing.

Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek - Novel about a young girl with a troubled family. A little bit over-the-top, melodrama-wise, but still a good book.

And I Don't Want to Live This Life by Deborah Spungen - Memoir from the mother of Nancy Spungen, who was killed by Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols. Just sad.

I'm Looking Through You by Jennifer Boylan - Non-fiction about a pre-op transsexual growing up in a haunted house. Should have been really interesting, but I found it just so-so.

Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg - Yet another "My mother was a monster; it's a miracle I'm normal" memoir. If this was the first one of these I'd read, I might have found it fascinating, but I'm getting tired of the genre and quit after about 90 pages.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - Novel about the lives of people living on Guernsey Island during and after WWII. Normally novels written entirely in correspondence drive me crazy, but this one was really good, if a little hokey. Recommended.

Back to the Damn Soil by Mary Gubser - About a small family farm in the late 30s/early 40s. A quick read. Okay.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson - This came highly recommended, but I just ...... no. I didn't like her writing style and gave up.

Lately I feel like I'm quitting more books early than I am finishing them. But! To end on a bright note:

I Thought My Father Was God by Paul Auster - Oh, I love this book! I've read it several times. Basically, the author/editor asked people to send him their (true) stories, and they did, by the thousands, and he picked the best/most interesting ones. It started out as an NPR project, and then he made it into a book. I can't recommend this book highly enough; the stories are just fascinating. Read this book!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stabby, the Homicidal Christmas Tree

See the beginning of this story here.

Once I had the tree up and in the stand, it was time for the lights. I got out my strings of lights and tested them. The first string was fine; the second string only had about half the lights lit. So! Time to start testing lights. Bleecccchhhh.

I only had to test about fifteen lights before I found the bad one. Insert new bulb, and voila! Two operational strings of lights.

It was when I started putting the lights on the tree that I realized just exactly how pokey this tree is. Its needles jabbed me, and jabbed me, and jabjabjabjabOWWW! I have no idea what kind of tree it is; I'm guessing it's of the SHARP variety.

Oh! So then I get all the lights up (ow ow ow), and it's time for the big reveal. I plug the lights in, and ......... only about half the lights lit up. Now there was no way that I was going to start testing lights again, and these strings of lights are older than dirt anyway, so I thought I'd call it a day, and go out Sunday morning and buy new lights.

But! As I was putting the drop cloth back in the attic, I discovered a brand new box of lights which I had forgotten I even had, evidently some post-Christmas-sale purchase of years past.

I grabbed the box, took it downstairs, opened it up, plugged in the lights, and ..... success! I took down the old lights (jab jab jab) and put up the new lights (ow ow ow) and was ready for ornaments.

And if I thought I'd gotten poked (heh) putting up the lights, putting on the ornaments was a fresh new circle of hell. I tried wearing gloves, but I kept dropping the ornaments, and so I finally had to grit my teeth and put the ornaments on bare-handed, ow ow ow-ing all the way. Merry Christmas!

Oh, and as I'm typing this, I'm all, "ow! ow! OW!" because my fingers are full of pine-tree-needle punctures. Band-aids don't seem to be helping, and it looks like I stuck my hands in the office paper shredder. *sigh*

Paging Charlie Brown ........

....... I think I've got your tree!

Saturday morning was "tree day". I like Douglas Firs, because their needles are soft and non-poky. I used to make a big deal out of going to various tree lots, comparing trees, blah blah blah. For the last several years, I've just been going to Lowe's. They always have a good selection, the prices are reasonable, and they'll put a fresh cut on the trunk, bale the tree, and pop it in/on your car. Piece of cake!

So I cleared out the back of the wagon Saturday, threw down a drop cloth, and headed for Lowe's, thinking I could be back home in half an hour. I got to Lowe's and ........ it was a ghost town. There were only about ten trees, covered in snow and ice. And it was about fifteen degrees out, meaning that all that snow and ice would have to melt off inside the house. Shit!

I knew that Home Depot sold trees, so I headed there, and ...... same story. Just a few sad, ice-and-snow-covered trees. There was a cub scout pack selling trees down the street from Home Depot, so I stopped there. And there were some decent trees, but when I hoisted a couple, it felt like they were made of lead. I needed something that I can haul up the stairs, so ..... no.

Next stop, Agway. Same story. I was beginning to wonder if there was some sort of Christmas tree shortage of which I was unaware. Then I remembered a sign that I had driven by countless times while running errands. A local Lions club sells trees for one day only each year, for nineteen bucks for any tree on the lot, starting at one o'clock. And Saturday was the day they were selling the trees.

I figured that if the trees were halfway decent, the place would be a mob scene, so I got there right at one. And it was what I imagine the wedding dress sale at Filene's Basement must be like...... utter chaos.

But! There were lots of nice volunteers. Unfortunately, there were no Douglas Firs. At this point, I just wanted a tree, any tree. So, trying not to get elbowed by any of the nine million other people who were storming the lot, I picked out a tree, had a fresh cut put on the bottom, and headed for home. Whew! Mission accomplished.

To be continued .............

Monday, December 15, 2008

(More) Gratuitous Cute Kitten Pics

Last Thursday night, we got our first appreciable snowfall of the season. So when I let the cats outside on Friday after work, I kind of wondered what their reaction would be, as this was their first snow ever. Little Girl, being the more sensible of the two, took a couple of steps into the snow, then decided that the porch was the place for her. The Runt went flying out into the backyard, skidded to a halt, and then tiptoed around for a little bit.

By Saturday afternoon, they were both running around in the snow, coming inside periodically to warm up.
I have a feeling that this tree may be on the floor by the time I get home from work today:

Here's The Runt, being tutored by Little Girl in ornament destruction tactics:

And yes, I went ahead and set up (a part of) the creche:
Pretend not to notice the suspiciously brown needles on the tree, ok? (Have I got a story for you.......)

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Groove Tube

Does anyone else remember that movie? It came out in the seventies, and was basically a series of satirical skits.

I remember watching it in the living room with my sister Ditzy, who is eight years older than me, and some of her friends. I must have been twelve or thirteen at the time, and I guess the movie must have gotten a little racy, because my Mom finally said, "Okay, Rockycat, enough of this movie for you", and sent me off to bed.

And I remember being secretly glad, because even though I didn't understand all of the innuendos, I understood enough to know that I was really embarrassed by what I was seeing.

As a kid, whenever a tv show would show two people kissing, or (gulp!) in bed together, I'd get all embarrassed, squeal "Ewwww, love junk!" and leave the room.

I guess I was a little, erm, prude-ish. And up until my Mom got Alzheimer's, which left her unable to understand the content of anything on tv, I would get embarrassed if we were watching tv together and "love junk" would come on.

So tell me: Do kids still get embarrassed by "love junk" on tv, or are they so overexposed these days that it fails to register? Is there anything that you're embarrassed to watch with your Mom?

Just curious.

Oh! And when I was in high school, I pawing through the bookshelf in the dining room one day, looking for something to read. And my Mom handed me her copy of "The Thorn Birds" and said, "Here, try this one - it's really good". And, well, if you've ever read "The Thorn Birds", you know it's got some parts that are a little steamy. And I was reading along, and I was all, like, "Oh my GOD my MOM read this!! And TOLD ME to read it! She KNOWS I'm reading this! Eeeek!" Heh.

The Cards Are On Their Way!

When you receive your card (if you asked for one, that is!), here are some helpful hints:

If the card is stuck shut due to overapplication of glue during the assembly process, just pry the darn thing open.

Alternatively, if pieces have fallen off due to underapplication of glue during the assembly process, try to think of it as a fun! Christmas! puzzle! to put together.


(obviously, I'm not so good with the glue.)

(and I'm blaming the shaky handwriting on the kittens - they kept batting at the pen as I tried to write.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Little Introspection Can Be a Dangerous Thing

I was in line at the post office, waiting to buy stamps for my Christmas cards. The choices this year are "nutcracker" (kinda weird-looking and scary nutcrackers, if you ask me, but then again, aren't all nutcrackers kinda weird-looking and scary?), and a portrayal of the Madonna and Child. (And why are the Christmas stamps always lame? Postal Service, get on that, would ya?)

I was thinking, "those nutcrackers are scary; maybe I should go with the Madonna/Child", but then I thought, "well, I'm not religious, so Madonna/Child is probably not the best choice", and then it hit me:

Wait a minute! Why am I, a non-religious person, even sending out Christmas cards to begin with? As far as that goes, should I even be putting up a tree? Or decorating the porch?

And then I thought, "well, you can still celebrate Christmas without being religious, right?"

Um, well, technically, ......... no. I'm pretty sure you're supposed to be a Christian in order to celebrate Christmas.

But I'm gonna do it anyway. The cards, the tree, the whole nine yards - because it's a tradition that I enjoy, and it helps get me through the winter.

"Hypocrite" - it's my middle name.

Oh! And it's not to0 late to get your card! (hee!) Hurry hurry!

Department of Unneccessary Products

Introducing ....... the Scotch Gift Wrap Cutter!

Just in case you haven't yet mastered using scissors.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Must .............. Resist ..................

Oh, I'm sorry, but I'm losing this battle. I have got to put up these pics from Behold!

funny pictures of cats with captions

more animals

more animals
funny pictures of cats with captions

more animals
funny pictures of cats with captions

Some days you just gotta give in .............

Chewing Gum and Cigarettes

I sorted through my VCR tapes (yes, I am old) the other night, and tossed a bunch of stuff that I hadn't watched in ....... oh .......... YEARS. But I did find some stuff that I had forgotten I had, so I've been taking a little trip down memory lane watching these old shows that I taped.

And the other night I was watching some tribute-charity-concert-for-Queen (the band, not the monarch) thing that I taped back in the stone age, and Def Lepard came out. And the lead singer was bouncing around the stage, and playing air guitar, and wailing his little heart out. And then they did a close-up, and he was ........ chewing gum.

And I was all like, Duuuuuude! I know it's your JOB and all, and you've sung these same songs a bazillion times, but are you really SO BOOOORRRRRRRRED that you have to chew gum?

And I was actually a little, well, insulted. You are supposed to be entertaining me! Spit out the damn gum!

And then, later on, Slash was on stage, and he was ripping up a guitar solo, and .... smoking a cigarette. And I was like, can't you save the smoke for later?!

And I kept hoping that the singer dude would be halfway through a high note, and choke on the damn gum, and get all red-faced and keel over, and the roadies would have to come out and give him the Heimlich maneuver, and the gum would come flying out and hit some poor kid in the front row in the face, but then the kid would hold it up over his head like a fly ball and the audience would roar and ........... that didn't happen.

Those tribute concerts. They're never as good as you hope they will be.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cards here! Getcher cards here!

Having OCD is hard, especially when it comes time to do the home-made Christmas cards. Add in some neuroses and a bad case of perfectionism (which really sucks, as I NEVER get anything perfect, or even close), and I begin to wonder why I even started this project.

But! I am pressing on! I was just going to go the store-bought route this year, but I was at a flea market a few weeks ago and found some great old pictures. Here's my favorite:

Look! Santa finally brought him the pony!

I am taking the pictures, adding some snark, and making Christmas cards! And now I find that I've made more than I need, and I don't think I'm going to be able to stop any time soon (thanks, OCD!), so if you would like a home-made Christmas card from yours truly, just e-mail your name and address to me*. (If you have a blog, put that address in there, too, so I can check it out!) My email address is rockycat 24 AT yahoo DOT com. I will email you back within a couple of days to confirm, and then, voila! A Christmas card from me will show up at your mailbox! Hopefully before Christmas.

Now, don't embarrass me, guys. At least one or two of you would like a card, right? Right?

*Of course, all addresses will stay strictly confidential. And I'm not a scary stalker, so don't worry about me showing up at your door.

Voicing Her Opinion

Don't worry, Little Girl, I won't make you wear them. Well, maybe long enough for a picture .......

Friday, December 05, 2008


So yesterday morning I wrote a post about poverty (see below), and when I got home from work last night, there was a sign on the downstairs neighbor's door. It was an eviction notice. The last time he'd paid the rent was in September.

Updated to add: And yes, I am ready to put my money where my mouth is and see if this guy needs some help. But here's the thing: He doesn't know that I saw the eviction notice*. (He wasn't home at the time.) So will it be weird when I ask him if there's anything I can do for him? Should I just put an anonymous card with some money in it in his door?

* no, I was not snooping. I have to walk past his door to get to my place, and the notice was in GREAT BIG LETTERS.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Poverty Porn

I watched some of "The Secret Millionaire" last night. The show takes millionaires and plops them down "undercover" in poor communities, where they have to live amongst the poor people and then give some of their money away at the end of the show.

And it was kind of funny, because at first the rich people were all, like, "Oh my God, people live like this?!" I mean, the first rich people, a guy and his son, had to find a low-rent apartment, and they were shocked, shocked, to find a place with holes in the walls and exposed wiring and bugs in the sink. And I was thinking, "Shit, I've seen worse than that. Hell, I've lived in worse than that." And then the second rich couple, a husband and wife, were amazed to find out how much groceries actually cost, because, after all, they had someone to do their shopping for them.

And I was thinking, I'll bet a lot of people are kind of relieved watching the poor people on this program, because they're thinking "Hell, I might be bad off, but I'm not that bad off." And then I thought, well, you know what? Even if you're not living in poverty right now, it's right next to you. In case you think it's far away, it's not. Think about the change jar next to the cash register at your local convenience store with the picture on the front of a little girl with heart problems whose parents have no health insurance. Think about that elderly widow living next door who's on a fixed income and can't afford to hire someone to shovel her sidewalk.

And then I was thinking, Why should needy people have to hope that the producers of some tacky TV show drop down out of the sky to save their lives? I guess that's why poor people buy the most lottery tickets. Because they know that a bolt out of the blue, no matter how unrealistic, is their only chance.

And it shouldn't be that way. And before anybody starts going on and on about how these people just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and blah blah blah: Yeah, some of them do just need to get their shit together. But some of them can't. Are you going to tell that 80-year-old widow next door to go get some job training? Tell that sick child's parents to just get some better damn jobs so she can have health insurance? Do you think they're not already trying?

And here's the sad thing: The government won't help these people. It could, but it won't. Oh, our fine representatives on Capitol Hill can bail out the investment banks and the big three automakers and anybody else who contributes mightily to their campaigns, but it looks like little Betsy's gonna have to pay for her heart surgery with the proceeds from bake sales.

And it's not right. It's just not. But you know what? The government won't help these people, but you can. They're right there, right next to you. You can drop a quarter in the change jar; you can shovel your neighbor's walk. Until we get people in power who have some idea of what real people are going through, it's up to us.

They're right next to you.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Movie Review - "The Strangers"

No spoilers ahead - if you haven't already seen it, it's okay to read this.

"The Strangers" is a typical "scary movie". Young couple, isolated house, menacing people outside. That said, there are some (fairly) interesting twists. This is one of those movies that actually got a little better upon a second drunken viewing. And "Mama Tried", which I had not heard in years, was on the soundtrack, so that's a plus. Also, it's got a really short running time, so by the time you're getting exasperated with the ridiculousness of it all, the movie's over! And there is not a lot of gore, so you don't have to spend a good chunk of the movie with your hands over your eyes.

All of which, unfortunately, cannot outweigh the fact that Liv Tyler can't act. At all. Watching any movie in which she appears, at first you're just taken in by her beauty. That face! Those legs! But after a while you're wincing, because Jeeezus Christ, that girl couldn't act her way out of a paper bag.

So! Do I recommend this one? Sure, go ahead. It's no classic for the ages, but it is watchable, which is more than can be said for most horror movies.

Oh! And if you've already seen it: WHAT IS THE DEAL with that nightie her boyfriend gives her? Is it supposed to be sexy? 'Cause it looks a lot like something my gramma used to wear.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I'm reading "Of Human Bondage"* during my lunch breaks at work**, and I'm at the point where Philip is about to literally starve to death, and I'm so worried for him! Granted, it's mostly his own fault, after blowing all his money on bad investments and Mildred the hooker, but still!

I hope he makes it, poor kid.

*I freely admit that before I started reading it, I assumed that "Of Human Bondage" was about African-American slavery in the 1800s. Oops.

**No, I'm not a pretentious jerk (I don't think so, anyway) - just trying to read some of the classics that I never got around to when I was younger.

Boys .......

Last night when I got home I let the cats out. And within an hour, I heard what sounded like an epic cat fight going on in the neighbor's backyard. Little Girl came tearing up the stairs, flew into the house, and stayed in the rest of the night. The Runt came in a little later, minus his collar and with a bloody paw.

My last cat, Rocky, was a fighter. And while rabies shots are generally good for three years, I don't think even a year ever went by without him getting a rabies booster, as the vet would give him the shot as a precaution each time I brought him in for post-fight repairs. That cat probably had enough anti-rabies serum in him to keep four cats vaccinated.

Rocky didn't care who he fought with. Cats, dogs, woodchucks, skunks - it was all the same to him. Although as far as I know, he only tangled with a skunk once before learning that particular lesson. And he didn't stop fighting once he was "fixed" - he kept fighting his entire life.

I am hoping that The Runt learned a lesson last night, and will stop messing with other animals. But I'm not counting on it.

Get Ready ......... Get Set ............

I had this dream last night ........

(click click click clickclickclickCLICKCLICKCLICKCLICK)

(That's the sound of everybody clicking over to other sites at the mention of SOMEONE ELSE'S DREAM, for God's sake.)

ANYWAY (heh), I had this really scary dream about zombies. Normally, zombies are not in the top ten list of things I worry about, mainly because THEY DO NOT EXIST, but I dreamed about them anyway, and it was one of those dreams that was so frightening, I woke up and was still in the dream for a moment, wondering how I was going to get rid of the damn zombies.

So! That's the last "dream post" I'll do, oh ......... ever. I'll get something else up here real soon so everybody can come back.

Monday, December 01, 2008

How to Remove Stitches from a Kitten.

Tools required: Cuticle scissors, flashlight, steady hands.

1. Wait until she's sleeping.

2. Move very, very quietly.

After deciding there was no way in hell I was going to try and take those stitches out myself, I stopped by the shelter on Saturday to make sure someone was available to remove them before I brought Little Girl over. And, well, they didn't want to remove them on Saturday as it was only Day 9 after the surgery, as opposed to Sunday, which would be Day 10. Except, whoops, they're closed on Sunday, and oh yeah, they're closed on Monday too ...... So on Sunday, I took the stitches out myself.

Now I know how to remove stitches from a kitten. I guess it's just one of those skills, like changing a flat tire, that you hope you never have to actually use.

3, Oh, and if the kitten wakes up mid-procedure? Just keep going. If you're fast enough, you can have them all out before she realizes what's going on.