Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Had NO IDEA Laptops Are So Much Trouble!

Having moved firmly into 20th Century Technology with the installation of HiSpeedWiFi and lots and lots of wires snaking about under the bed, down the hall, behind every dresser, so that I might have Wireless Internet (what kind of sense does that make? Cable Guy installed twice as much wiring as I had before, and it's called "wireless"?) I decided it might be time to crack open that beautiful plum-purple Dell Studio 17 inch laptop that has been sitting in its cocoon of styrofoam, waiting for Son One to transfer things from the Dinosaur Desktop onto its yummy purply self. Begging worked.

Proving again, the old adage. Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

Fantasies of editing jewelry photos from the bed, surrounded by fluffy pillows, and watching reruns of "What Not to Wear" gave way to the reality of

TRYING to edit photos, surrounded by Kitties who were certain that those things on the (very delicate and expensive) screen were for them to poke. And that lovely, warm flat metal thing was some sort of Heated Urban Feline Futon.

And that lurking under the bed, hissing and growling at other lurkers would command human interaction. Even if it was the yelling-and-spray-bottle kind.

Foster is curled up, despondent, in front of the Dinosaur Desktop; on the one-time "computer chair." Site of much kitten snuggling. Wondering, I'm sure, just what went wrong.

I feel his pain. And I have NO intention of upgrading my 12-year-old cell phone at this point. Change is not always something I can believe in.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

G.R.I.T.S. and Global Warming

I am most assuredly opposed to Global Warming. I think that glaciers should remain frozen. I think snow should continue to fall on people in puffy nylon suits who like to strap 2x6s on their feet and slide down big hills at Jackson Hole. I even think that you should be allowed to inhabit an Ice Palace in Quebec if you really want to pay a lot of money to sleep on animal skins in an igloo.

That being said, I am Fiercely Pro Local Warming.

You might be familiar with "G.R.I.T.S.". An acronym for, "Girls Raised In The South." Some of us are not of hardy stock. Hollywood has, historically, portrayed us as Sufferers of The Vapors; wilting and swooning in the heat. Setting Aint Bee off for Sweet Tea and smelling salts.

Unfortunate. Because the reality is that:

We can run the Peachtree Road Race on the Fourth of July, and vie for the ALTA (tennis) championships at high noon in August. We can wear linen to a garden wedding under a 100 degree sun without (the linen) wrinkling; and, of course, we wear sunscreen. We can even have a glass or two of Chardonnay at the wedding, without ill effect.

We can handle hot.

Winter? Well, not so much.

A White Christmas is not something we dream of, unless we are having a nightmare. Because we will inevitably find we are out of Classic Coke early Christmas morning, and the 24 hour convenience store will be closed due to the dusting of the White Stuff on the grass. So we'll continue to be out of Classic Coke when the grandkids arrive. Which, of course, they won't; because The Meteorologist Who Had a Major Facelift will have been on the air at The Station You Can Trust For Severe Weather Coverage for the last 48 hours; pointing to red, green, pink and white blotches and telling people to STAY OFF THE ROADS. (You will know he is VERY, VERY SERIOUS because he'll have a pair of scholarly glasses perched low on his nose, although he had that laser surgery and he doesn't need them.)

Also, we consider people who find cold weather "invigorating" to be, well, daft. Cuckoo. Nuts. We think they should stay in New Jersey, and keep their sub-sixty-degree temps there, too. (I was born in New Jersey, but had the good sense to leave as a toddler; in search of like-minded, warm-blooded company.) And, let me tell you, we resent the fool out of those Arctic Blasts. You people in New Jersey signed on for that nonsense. We did not.

Just this weekend I spent some time on the road; listening to a plethora (I love that word) of local talk shows. Including an "Ask the Lawyer" bit. No kidding, a landscaper called in to find out if he could sue the National Weather Service because they said it was going to rain and he sent his crew home and it didn't rain.

Silly, I know, but it got me thinking...perhaps we need a commission to study Weather Redistribution? I think we could solve the melting glaciers and keep the snow falling on the people in those puffy nylon outfits and the 2x6s strapped to their feet if we could just move the cold weather back up there where it belongs. Giant fans? Or some sort of Global Support Bra?

It's just going to waste here. Such a shame.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Origami Cranes! They're Not Just for Baby Showers Anymore!

We are blessed with the most fabulous, wonderful, brilliant and beautiful new granddaughter; with the fanciful middle name of "Crane." A random, yet extremely meaningful appearance by a white crane, early in the pregnancy, precipitated this moniker; and the family has enjoyed the Crane Theme to the hilt. OK, beyond the hilt. Other little girls are surrounded by "Classic Pooh", or Dora, the Explorer; or any of a number of Princesses With Fancy Names. Our angel has birds. And lots of them. I imagine that she will one day curse her parents, because her Crane Collection will fill a Super Deluxe, Climate-Controlled, Two-Story Storage Locker. Until then, well, we will Crane On.

I am also blessed with an eclectic group of seemingly mismatched, yet fabulous friends; who have danced together for some 25 years. They are generally well-bred, but occasionally get kicked out of your more up-scale establishments. Like that Italian restaurant in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee. Or the Fine Dining Eatery in New Hope, PA. Where they decided to, um, rearrange the flowers on the tables. And the tables, while they were at it. (And I won't mention the "On the Boardwalk" video fiasco at the lovely Monteagle, Tennessee, inn. It involved way too much underwear.)

These friends planned a baby shower for Son and Daughter-in-Law; but they wanted to do it after-the-baby-fact; so that they could admire our new little one, and share with her some group lore. (We have been accused of KoolAid consumption. More than one of the group husbands fears for his wife's involvement in the - um - clan. Indoctrination? You decide!)

And they needed a theme. Easy enough!


And an activity. Because, without an activity, we have a little issue with focus.

But, my dear friend "G", from over at

can make pretty much anything out of anything. (She makes angels out of plastic bags, for Pete's sake.) And she folds a mean Origami Crane. She agreed to teach us to fold cranes, too.

It is easier to herd cats than to teach this group to fold cranes. But,

We folded cranes. And then I folded more cranes. And more cranes. And pretty soon I was throwing a "crane for luck" in my jewelry orders. And folding cranes for friends who were looking for jobs. And folding cranes for, well, anyone and everyone who might need cranes.

The weirdest thing is that origami cranes make people happy. Recipients know that the "folder" cares. When I fold them, I know it is because I DO care. Japanese Crane Folders have done so forever; to bring good luck to recipients, and to express support. The Power of Crane.

Fold 1000, and your wish will come true!

Monday, February 16, 2009

NEVER Mix Mosaics and The Cable Guy

OK, so.

I am finally moving into the world of Hi Speed and Wi Fi and other things that are only two letters long. I am ditching the Dial-Up. There is a little problem caused by The Un-Named Monopoly Phone Company, which installed incompatible (oops!) Fiber-Optics, which is not a breakfast cereal to promote good vision. Making it impossible to continue to use my Internet Carrier that I have had for a bazillion years. Since MainFrames. Unless I want to keep Dialing Up, which I do not. Because the converse of Dialing Up is being Dropped. Which I am sick of.

So I have succumbed to the Cable Come-Ons. I bought a Bundle. TV, Hi Speed Internet, phone. Everything on one bill. Great price! (for 6 months, then actual charges revert, retroactively. Substantial surcharge for indoor plumbing, people who take non-generic prescription drugs, and homes of more than 1200 square feet. Prices subject to change. Not available to households in flood zones, or those with more than 6 cats.)

And today was the Day My Phone Number Could be Ported.

Which means, I think, that I will get a big bill from the Phone Company for Exportation of my phone number. And a big bill from the cable company for Importation of my phone number. But I'm no expert on Immigration Law.

So, anyway, I was given a "Window" of time in which to expect the Cable Guy to show. Generally, if you have a 3 hour "window", the technician will show up at exactly 2 hours and 59 minutes into your window. Unless you go to the post office. Which is when he will show up.

My Guy showed up 23 minutes before the "Window" expired. I was feeling lucky. And I was well-prepared. I had a lot of projects that I could finish at the kitchen table, while Cable Guy did his thing, and asked me VERY important questions. Like, "Where is the cable box we issued to you in 1993? It is showing up on your account."

Uh, we haven't used a cable box since 1994. All the important stuff comes straight through the wall, into that cord. And then into the TV.

"Yes ma'am. But I have to pick up your old analog box. Where is it?"

Perhaps I used it as a doorstop in the playroom? Gave it to the Salvation Army? Sold it in a yard sale? I have no idea.

Cable Guy calls in, "She doesn't have the box." Then he rattles off a VIN for a NEW box, which now sits on top of the TV. So much for all that technoprattle about "boxless" cable.

As usual, I digress.

I had Projects. Very Important Projects, to keep me busy; yet available to Cable Guy. One of them was Millefiori Collage. That is, quite simply, the use of veryveryvery tiny pieces of exquisite millefiori glass, arranged into pleasing patterns, creating unique pieces of art that one can wear. You can see them in my Etsy shop, and on 1000 Markets.

"Millefiori" means manymanymany flowers. Hundreds, thousands, millions. Lots and lots. And the mosaic artists create the TINIEST flowers, to use in the TINIEST spaces.

I had my Millefiori, 3 or 4 pounds of them, at my disposal. Ready to create, while the Cable Guy created a streamlined Web Presence for me.

The only problem is that I also have

Foster. The Geek Cat.

I made things, the Cable Guy made connections (with absolutely no need for the old analog box, I might add.) And then the Cable Guy left. And I carried some supplies back down to the studio, where I heard a noise; unlike any noise I had ever heard. But if I HAD ever heard three or four pounds of mosaic pieces, the size of 1/3 a grain of rice each, raining down on the hardwood floors and then rolling as far across the living room, bedroom, kitchen and dining room as they could before encountering a permanent obstacle like a wall; well, I would have bet it sounded something like that.

According to Foster, it was a test of something like force times velocity. But I was not interested in explanations, no matter how noble the cause.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I am one of those people who is best avoided. I have one of those Black Clouds of Doom overhead at all times; and way, way, way too much stuff happens to me. (I think, to provide blog material. But possibly because I'm a Drama Queen. Or maybe the punchline of some Cosmic Joke.)

For example, just a few months ago, there was the Little Incident with the Exploding Washing Machine. Hilarity, and a Major Flood ensued. Then, The Fire. Of course, I was preparing for Famine, the natural progression after Flood and Fire.

But someone screwed up the Cosmos; and tonight it was the Tornado Siren.

I have now been in four, count 'em, four, tornadoes. I can tell you every inconsistency in the movie, Twister; because I don't have to chase the stupid things. They come to me. I am a Natural Tornado Expert. I am a Tornado Whisperer.

So I was teaching my dance class this evening, at the Comedy Theatre. I turned off the music for the final stretch - because we like to relax and think positive thoughts...I mean talk about the people who didn't show up for class - during the last five minutes. And it got quiet, and we heard Tornado Sirens.

We were in a one-story building, with no basement and a tin roof, and a tornado in the immediate vicinity.

The only other populated shelter in the area was the "adult toy" venue, across the street. They might have a basement, but it could be scarier than a tornado.

What to do?

The obvious answer, of course, was to Make Stupid Jokes.

I won the Stupid Joke Contest, hands down. Because I realized that, in the lobby, was the most beautiful pair of Size 11 Bright Red Sequined Platform Shoes! "Rocky Horror" Rejects? Who knows? Just click your heels together three times, and say, "There's no place like home."

The sirens stopped.

We were safe.

Monday, February 9, 2009

More Stories From the Scorched Earth

What I learned from Bob, the HVAC guy:

...Wait, let me preface this a bit. Bob loves to talk. And he loves to fix things. In between talking. He loves to talk about talk radio. And my kids. And eating, and groceries. I don't know of anything Bob can't, or won't, talk about. And he tells a darned fine story. Why, just today - as he replaced the dud furnace motor that he used to replace the burned-out furnace motor on Friday - I learned that:

We almost didn't get a new motor because the parts house had the exact same motor as the dud, but it had a different sku number on it, by one digit. And that couldn't be swapped out for the dud motor, because it would confuse the computer. But the parts people figured it out, and retroactively changed the number on the old dud to the number on the new (WORKING! YAY! WORKING!) motor and WE HAVE HEAT! That we don't need, this week. But we could have it if we wanted it.

In the late 1950's, there was a major rabies outbreak and Bob and kin trapped foxes, which were a primary source of illness. If you took a fox tail to the Department of Wildlife, you got $2. (And the Department of Wildlife probably made the tails into capes, and sold them for a lot more than $2.)

Cows know when a fox is rabid, and will kick it and try to smother it. Other animals will try to avoid a rabid fox. Because they know, too.

Roosters will hide behind things and jump out at you to scare you. Just to be mean.

It would have been a lot smarter to convert your photo slides into regular photos 30 years ago, rather than converting them to digital images now; because slides fade and it is a major process to put the missing parts back in.

In Vietnam, some people bathe in the river.

Squirrel is delicious, but most people won't try it.

The buffet sushi restaurant on Anderson Road has reopened. It was closed because they had a fire - which only burned the insides - but new people own it. The food is still as good. But it's pricier than the (smaller) sushi buffet restaurant in-town. Of course, it has the crab legs, and the in-town restaurant doesn't. And it has more sashimi.

Chicken poop is bad for streams and lakes, because it has a high ammonia content.

You can put goat pellets in a bucket of water, and use it to water the vegetables. They will grow to epic proportion.

People pay a lot of money for good horse poop and cow poop.

If you shoot at a rabid fox hiding under the hay, the hay will catch on fire.

Which, since I just experienced a mini-fire, with no loss of life and just about no loss of property except the furnace motor; reminds me how fortunate I am. While I think about my good friends in Australia (many of whom are in fire-affected areas) and hope and pray for their safety in the face of these horrible natural and man-made disasters. There is nothing funny in their stories.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Stories from the Scorched Earth

What I learned from the fire:

No matter how much garage space they consume, one must ALWAYS have as many cat carriers as cats. In case there is not an extra car around to stash cats in.

When the (wonderful, fabulous, awesome) firemen turn off the breakers to one's furnaces, it is a good idea to double check the panel to be certain that they have not also turned off the water heater. Especially if it 11 degrees outside, and the ONLY thing that could possibly warm one up is a nice, hot bath.

Occasionally the HVAC guru, Bob, will spend all day trying to repair a burned-out furnace; only to discover - just at the stroke of 5 PM, when the Parts Warehouse closes - that the brand new motor he just installed is a dud.

And this will be on a Friday. So it will be Monday, at the earliest, before one again has heat.

If there is one space heater to sit in front of, and six Kitties who want to sit there, something bad is going to happen.

One can't cure "burny" with FeBreze.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nancy and The Kitties Have a Three-Alarm Fire, and Also A Three-Ring Circus

You know those days when you just want to scream because your life is so booooring? Well, today wasn't one of them.

I was editing photos of "Two Fish" when I noticed that something smelled, um, burny. Which is a word I just learned today, on a forum post about made-up words. Serendipity!

Checked the coffee pot, oven, stove, microwave, hair curlers and the electric mixer. (Even though I hadn't used the electric mixer since I made my father a lemon meringue pie last month for his birthday.) Nothing on, nothing burny.

Checked the automatic litter boxes to be sure the Geek Kitty had not stuffed sticks in the motors. Went outside to breathe (extremely cold) fresh air and came back in to be sure something was burny.

It was.

I guessed it might be the heat pump. Changed the filters I knew about. There are Secret Filters that only Bob, the HVAC guy is aware of. Called Bob, who is never home and returns calls sometime between the time you call him and eternity.

But, when he does stop by to find that you have a busted Rumple Basket on your heater's Strippel, he will know where to find a discarded Rumple Basket behind the Dairy Queen a few towns over. And he will have the heat back on, Rumple Basket and All, for $50. Including the changing of all Secret Filters.

I waited awhile, and wandered the house. Not so burny upstairs, or in the basement. But the main level of the house was now burny, and a bit OH KRAP! SMOKY!!!!

I dialed 911 and spoke with Deborah. After she introduced herself in Starbucks fashion, "Hi, my name is Deborah. How can I help you with your emergency today?" I tried to respond in Calm/Collected/Capable mode, "Hi, Deborah. I have a..."

"This is 9-1-1! What is the nature of your emergency?"

"I smell something burny, and there is smoke."

"You have SMOKE?"

"Yes, Ma'am. Smoke."

"Get everyone out of the house and I will have the fire department respond immediately! I repeat, get everyone out!"

"Yes ma'am. Uh, Thank you."

"Thank you??" It was time to feed the dogs and cats their dinner. And I was supposed to get them out because the fire department was on the way. Where could I put them? The Kitties had never been outside in their LIVES!?!

Son One had left his car in the driveway, and his dog in the house, while he went to Hawai'i and I had a fire. I thought it was fair to use his car as a giant cat carrier. I started grabbing felines and stuffing them into the Honda. But I quickly reached Critical Mass. Throwing one more in would result in the escape of at least one already captured, so it was on to Plan B. Vet carriers. One cat in one, two cats in the bigger one. Hisses, spits and claws. I was bleeding profusely from bites and scratches.

The DOGS! They really wanted dinner, but they followed the biscuits to my car. And they like the car, so they just went to sleep, drooling on the leather.

Then I realized - I hadn't made the bed. In the master bedroom, which was where the smoke was thickest. (There was a good reason for my negligence. Although I had canceled their appointment, the Vietnamese Cleaning team had been on the way; and I was going to have them change the linens.) How embarrassing to have the fire department arrive with the bed unmade...I got it done just in the nick of time.

It must have been a slow fire day. I thought maybe one of those red cars with the flashing lights would show up. In fact, three ladder trucks arrived at about the same time. There were at least 15 people in the house; climbing into the attic, poking around in the closets, scanning with some kind of TV devices. And asking a zillion questions. "When did you turn the heat on?" "Uh - September?" "Did you notice any strange noises today?" "Yes, but I have a very noisy neighbor." "Man, this is a great house!" "It's about to go on the market, you want to buy it?" "That car is, um, moaning?" "There are 3 cats in there."

After a bunch of questions and a whole lot of waving devices about and the arrival of another half-dozen or so other people who had other things to wave around, it was determined that no one had a clue why there was smoke and the house smelled burny. But probably it had something to do with a busted Rumple Basket and I needed to get Bob on the case.

In the meantime, the breakers for the heat pump had been shut off. We had no heat. Bob had not called.


The fire department used gigantimongous fans to blow the smoke away. So the house didn't smell so burny. I added three quilts to the bed. The space heater was blowing in the master; with Kitties camped out all around. Bob would find us a new Rumple Basket behind a Dairy Queen in the morning. And the coffee pot was ready to be plugged in.

All the Kitties survived the Honda and the vet carriers.

Life was good.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Who Are You Calling "Chicken?"

I have spent a remarkable amount of time on the Internet, recently; Googling chickens.

Not blogs about chicken stock reduction, or recipes for chicken tetrazzini. Chickens. That cackle and lay eggs.

This behavior, of course, is due to Green Acres. Lisa in satin housedress and boa, would float out to the coop and sweet talk Hungarian-English to Henrietta the Hen; who would reward our Hungarian Heroine with an egg. To make "panscake batter."

Generations of young girls, thanks to cable TV and Amazon DVDs, have been imprinted with not only Lisa's satin-and-boa fashion sense, as one would expect; but also a deep-seated need for Pet Poultry.

Psychotherapists describe this subconscious longing for chickens as a "latent tendency." Which makes perfect sense if you go to this website:

Backyard Chickens

Here is the Welcome Message for the site. Read it carefully:

Welcome to!

Established in 1999, BackyardChickens has become the #1 destination for the information you need to raise, keep, and appreciate chickens. Originally designed for the urban chicken owner, we're here to help and support chickens in any backyard!

Let's peck this apart, shall we?

"Established in 1999" CLEARLY indicates the latency of Chicken Envy. Green Acres originally aired in the mid 1960s. Unlike the affection for satin and boas, which peaks in prepubescent girls around age 7; there is a lag of at least 30 years between exposure to friendly chickens named Henrietta and the urge to harbor them in the back yard.

And then there is THIS quote:

"Originally designed for the urban chicken owner". WHAT could be more "urban" than a penthouse on Park Avenue? Right above "The Stores!" And steps away from "Times Square!"?

I have merely scratched the surface of the Lisa Douglas Effect. Naturally, I have made a grant application for further study.

I am also anxious to explore the impact of a seemingly-major extenuating factor, The Eglu:

A cute coop.

Lisa was cute. Her chickens were cute. The coop? Not so much. After all, Ol-ee-ver probably got the makin's for it from Mr. Haney, who stole them from his own mother.

Cute coops, available in 5 different colors, would seem to affect the Lisa Douglas Effect, diminishing the Latency Lag. This is definitely going to require a double-blind study protocol.

And a lot of grant money. This is not chicken feed.