Saturday, June 30, 2007

And another thing...

Oh, also on that topic, I think this is the best Engagement Announcement Tone (tm. Me) that I've ever heard.

"While I'm on the topic of happy news/major life decisions/things that make me blink a lot, I should also mention that about a month ago, Eric and I decided to get married. More on that later; for a long time I have not been especially interested in marriage, as an institution or a personal status, and I was more than a little surprised to realize how much I wanted to."

- Joolie of Oh My Stars and Garters

Gotta be Me

I have a little problem. (So many.)

I have trouble responding appropriately when people announce their impending (or, as often happens to me, recent) marriages. I know that most people are very excited and they want a hearty "Congratulations!" or "Oh my god, that's so awesome you're going to be so happy!" or for me to pull out my enormous wedding scrapbook but...I just can't.

Considering how much money my family has spent to make me a great actress it's unforgivable that I can't fake it.

Here's the thing, isn't expecting to have all this hoopla over getting married like having a huge party on the first day of a job? I'm all about a special dinner or buying yourself a little gift to celebrate getting your dream job and all but...

OK, this is going to sound bad but you've got to be used to that from me by now. Sometimes marriage turns out really well. Sometimes not so much. Sometimes it's both. I would like to be able to treat a marriage announcement similarly to finding a lump in your breast. I'd like to take a wait and see attitude. "OK, when's the procedure?" "Keep me posted." "What can I do to help?" Say on your 5th anniversary I'll send a gift because that seems like enough time to tell whether things are going well, don't you think? By then it'll be clear if it's OK to buy you the chainsaw you registered for or whether, say, pillows are more appropriate. Or duct tape.

Did you feel that breeze? That was hundreds of scrapbook pages being turned so their owners could cross me off the Engagement Announcement Phone Tree.

Good Business Sense

I was walking to the bus today and as I wheeled out of the gate at my apartment complex there were 2, er, gentlemen shouting at each other. I couldn't really understand what the chastised one was saying but he kept talking no matter what. The chastiser was slightly clearer and went on (and on and on and on) in this vein:

"No. No! I said no! You don't. They's too many people. No, you don't 'cause they's too many people around, you gonna get caught with so many people around, they gonna see you!"

Well thank goodness one of them has a business plan.

Whatcha Doin'?

I'm watching Bull Riding on OLN.

Hey, it's been a long time since I've been able to just flip channels in my own home with nothing else to do.

Harve Stewart is the winner tonight. He's got to be like 9 years old.

I wonder if his mother knows he's out this late.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hey, look, it's black out!

Yesterday was hot, as was the day before. It was the natural weather for summer in NYC, which is Hazy, Hot and Humid. It was the kind of hot where office buildings, if they are smart and properly equipped, dim the hallway lights and run the elevators on half power or run fewer elevators to avoid sucking too much power. My boss was leaving for the day and I was leaving for lunchtime errands and I left before he did but was still standing in the hall waiting for the elevator when he came out. So we speculated about the greening of our building and if they were reducing energy usage, which brought us around to black outs we have known. Apparently there was a blackout in '73 that turned him off pizza for good.

An hour and a half later the person he had an appointment with at home called me from the lobby of his building and said that the city was blacked out basically from his apartment north.


I do believe in jinxes, I do, I do, I do!

I couldn't get hold of him no matter how I tried so I left all manner of messages and left the office early to try and circumvent the mess that had been made of the subways. It was ugly but my 3 metric tons of groceries and I made it home in about 90 minutes.

Con Ed has issued a statement that yesterday's blackout was the result of a lightning strike and not indicative of the way the summer will go.

Yeah, right.

Since I moved to the new job I haven't been following the post-9/11 rule of keeping comfortable walking shoes at the office. Time to rectify that I guess.

Just think of all the activity points I'll earn!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's Truth and it's not fully clothed

I often downplay mom's "problem". I thought I was saving her from embarrassment. The thing is, she'll tell anyone, she does tell everyone about what she's doing and what's going on and then she wonders why they give her advice. She pulls no punches about not being able to use the shower and the amount of cat excrement and everything else. While, of course, I run inside and hide.

The truth is it embarrasses me. I feel as though everyone thinks I should do something about it and yet I know that there's little I can do and me doing something won't solve the problem. She needs to do something. She needs to want to do something.

The upshot is that if she's telling the whole wide world then there's no reason I shouldn't. So here are the unexpurgated pictures. I took them on the down low Thursday afternoon and 2 hours later at the nursing home celebration mom lamented that we hadn't taken any photos. "Do not worry mother of mine, I've got you covered."

If Kath thought I was a saint yesterday and that my mom is crazy then god knows what she'll think today.

Oh, and Chrome, you can like yellow cats all you want, you don't have to like this one, mom has another one. He's awesome. Mostly she calls him Little Yellow Cat but sometimes she screams "SYNDEY" at him (the name of one of the cats she and my dad appropriated from neighbors when they were first married) and wonders why he doesn't respond. He needs to be neutered but as soon as that's taken care of he'll probably be the best cat you've ever met. On a whim I picked him up and put him on my shoulders. He's not a huge fan of the picking up part but he loved to just ride around on my shoulders as long as I'd let him. Don't settle for the first of anything you see in mom's house there will always be another.

Ok, so here you go, the front porch. It may not look like I've done much work here but when I arrived there wasn't enough room on the top step for my hips to fit so I could sit down. Since that's the only place on the property where one can actually sit I moved mountains (literally) to consolidate and make room for my fat ass to cop a squat.

Here's the music room, first room you get to when you walk in the side door there. For the record, the pile of boxes directly in front there are all empty, they're being used for sorting papers and precious objects and stuff so they don't really count as clutter because I can envision a day when they'll be gone. As an aside, Ulserad is a freaking saint. He says he's not, he says he's "just" a good friend. I say tomato - tomahto big guy. He works Mon-Fr and his 2 nights to cook at his house are Mon and Tues but he's spent the last 2 nights breaking down boxes and tying them up for the recycling pick up tomorrow. Mostly there's nothing that people can do for this nightmare but sometimes there is something and I felt awful asking him to do this but he was very cool about it. If he drank I'd buy him a bottle of something decadent. Perhaps Pepsi has a particularly good vintage.

You go through the music room, past the little connector hall to the bathroom and into the living room and then through the living room and out the front door. As of the time I departed you could walk from side door to front without ever having to turn to the side to accomodate your...curves. This shot is from the connector hall into the living room.

This is another view of the living room, from the stairs. Spacious, no? I want to point out that the middle of the couch there is completely clear! From this angle it's hard to tell but that cat bed and the butter churn (I know, butter churn, it's just not a battle worth fighting) are on the trunk in front of the couch not on the couch itself.

Up to this point you may have been looking at me like you need to reserve me a seat on the short bus. "Progress?" you've said, "What progress? That place is a sty! It's worse than a sty! I wouldn't let my pig live there." Well, here are some views of the kitchen so you can compare the previous views of rooms on which we busted our asses to the following views of the kitchen which we did not touch. (Yes, she needs to be able to cook but she started off in one direction and she got a foothold and I felt like the laws of inertia should rule.) So, here's the kitchen from the door of the music room. See that path? When I showed up all the paths through all the rooms looked like that. See why the whole walking while facing forward thing was such a big deal?

What does your kitchen table look like? Too cluttered for your brain to deal? You see why I laugh at you when you say that? This is my mom's table.

Here's an example of the creep of the badness. At some point there was no place to put something down and mom was desperate so, just for now, she yanked out a drawer part way and balanced whatever precious thing it was on the open drawer. How many drawers can you see in this picture?

This is her stovetop. No, I'm not kidding.

That about says it all, doesn't it?

10 snapshots of my "vacation"

I believe Alanis Morrisette should have known about this. In later posts you will see my mom's house. If I'd shown you those first you'd never believe that this post-it note is on her microwave. Aunt Rena put it there 17 years ago when she came down to take care of mom during her chemo. Yeah, a paper towel is going to help. Uh huh.

I have been harboring my guilt for many years on this one. I thought that some house guests had stolen this camera about 7 years ago. It was a huge gift when I was a tween and I loved it and used it faithfully and I was crushed but also, even at 38 years of age, afraid to tell my parents. On my last day of work last week I noticed a box flap open and peeked inside. My camera! It needs a serious cleaning and I have no idea if the film inside is any good but I'm going to finish the roll and see what happens.

If you didn't know any better you might think that the step ladder there is for the cat to climb up to his bed. It is, to be sure, but it's also something that mom uses to load things into the washer, which is completely blocked by all the crap upon which the cat bed is resting.

This is the last kitten, Maria (Mah-rye-ah), from the set of kittens that also spawned Elvis, Anna, Pinto & Max. She's also the only girl of the 6 cats with indoor privileges at mom's house. We may not have done her a great service by sending her to the country like that. She lives on the upper levels.

Mostly this is what I saw all last week. No room to sort things inside so I'd haul it out to the curb and mom would sit on a kid's chair (the only type of chair we could extract) and sort things, touching every single item. I would provide her with "save boxes" and trash boxes and tote the contents of the trash boxes to the trash pile as they got full. But mostly I stood around being the silent observer. It's like with civil disobedience, sometimes the simple act of observation is what forestalls the violence. Sometimes not.

The panoramic view of the outside of mom's house. She likes to garden. She likes it more than cleaning. I refused to garden this week. She was not impressed.

Since I don't live back in my hometown I tend to read all the signs and check out all the attractions and stuff. So, as we were driving through town on Wednesday, I noticed that an insurance company sign announced a celebration of the 55 year anniversary of Auntie Blanche's retirement home...the next day. So I went. Here's Auntie Blanche checking out the flower pots she donated to the home when she moved down there almost 3 years ago. She planted them up specially in time for the celebration.

Weirdly I didn't take any pictures of the massive construction going on at the Bee house. As you can see from this shot, though, it's taking a toll on the poor pooch. Ally's only getting 6-10 naps a day and it's killing her.

The ladies at the celebration. Mom, Auntie Blanche and Miss Judy.

I didn't plan the order of these photos but it's fiting we should end here with the cat who, most likely, gave me the disease. If you made a list of all the cliched hateful things about cats you could check each one off for this cat. He's arrogant and a bully but also petrified of loud noises or fast movement. He requires attention almost constantly but entirely on his own schedule and he's not shy about letting you in on the schedule. The one time I moved his fat ass off of something last week he then proceeded to lie down in every tiny path I needed to use to get more stuff out of the house. You know me, you know that I'm willing to house and shelter even the most neurotic and broken animals and yet this cat I would willingly give away.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Oh, and by the way

The "allergic reaction" is probably toxoplasmosis.

Me and 60 million other people. The proverbial "what army".

Don't worry, I can't hurt you.

Old Business

Accolades for this gentleman are long overdue. He's the guy that saved the Wedding Day for Dad and P in April.

The entire complement of wedding participants and guests fit into 2 cars and we arrived at City Hall in plenty of time. This gentleman (so sorry that I didn't remember his name, Mike maybe, just not sure, at least Pony Express made sure to take a picture of him with his secret weapon) was painting some offices that day, since the building was closed, and responded to the repeated ringings of the doorbell. He then proceeded to let us in out of the cold and use the last drips of his cell phone battery to determine that his friend, Mary, (I remember her name, she gets no accolades) had forgotten she had a wedding to perform that day. In her defense (yeah, I'm so not in the mood to defend her, but I'm gonna because it's the nice thing to do and I'm trying to be nice) City Hall is closed on Saturdays and she'd made a special arrangement to do this wedding and no one had called to confirm with her. However, Save the Day Guy was honest with us and said he wasn't exactly surprised and this wasn't the first time this kind of thing had happened with his friend Mary. Finally he got through to Mary (Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary) and the bride arranged for Mary to come to the apartment and perform the ceremony there...6 hours later.

Thank you Save the Day Guy, without you it would have been an even weirder day.

I don't know, it just seemed like the right follow up post

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Death warmed over

I'm back.

I can't even explain.


I feel like hell, a condition that's been ramping up all week. For now I'm calling it an allergic reaction to all the crap in my mom's house. This is, believe it or not, the best case scenario. I'd rather it not be a cold, and I can't figure out how it possibly could be, and if it's a bacterial infection it could be relatively serious and, wow, I'd really prefer it not be that.

If I'm perfectly honest, though, it's probably the latter and that scares the bejesus out of me.

Anyway, tired, sick, nauseous, itchy, thirsty and oh so happy to be home. I've given Elvis his final pill and I'm about to walk the pooch, who was so well taken care of, and hit the hay. Tomorrow is for celebrating Alita's birthday with sushi and cake. And I have to get up in the morning and make cake if we're going to do that.

I'll tell you more soon, maybe when the cake is in the oven.

Hope you've had a great week.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sienna Dog

Sienna Dog
Originally uploaded by kizzzbeth.

Give all your pets some extra treats today. ("Good breathing." "Nice lying there." "Good standing, good standing.") An unexpected downward turn for the Sienna Dog last week during the humans' Grand Canyon trip and ChemE had to let her go this evening. She is missed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Status Report

Warning: HUGE levels of boring ahead.

OK, I have done almost everything on Tuesday's list. Can you guess which one I didn't manage yet? You get 3 guesses and the first 2 don't count. I'm trying to think of it like Chrome does, not like a To Do list but like promises to myself (I love that image) but it isn't quite working for me yet, not quite. Maybe tomorrow, there's always time.

Pony Express came over and packed for me. She's great at that. Given that last time I traveled I forgot all the shirts, she was kind enough to point out that my list didn't include any pants this time around.

No problem, I packed pants.

I'm halfway ready for this.

I've got goals. They involve not screaming. As much as my parents enjoy doing the yelling they can't abide anyone else doing it. So I'll try not to, not because I'm feeling particularly obedient but more because they can't hear me. It ain't fair but it's the way things are so I'm trying to roll with it. (No, you're not imagining it that is a bitter taste I just left in your mouth.)

Anyway, other goals to be listed later because I want to get to bed. I'm tired and I want to be ready and raring to go tomorrow.

I'm leaving the office (and by extension internet access...oh! except if I have time in the JetBlue terminal) around 1:30 tomorrow, flight takes off at 4:15, JetBlue out of JFK, if it goes down please watch the CNN crawl for my name.

Internet/computer access is uncertain. I know that there have been upgrades in the Bee household but there's also construction so it's unclear what the options are. There are 2 local WiFi places but Mr. Chili (cue group bow) is replacing the ailing keyboard on this here laptop and WiFi isn't so easy to use when you're just slamming your fingers against the gingham tablecloth.

Now do you see why I made a post last night with a gajillion links in it? I want to keep you coming back even if I can't.

Don't you forget about me....

or something.

Back in NYC on the 22nd.

Keep me in your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I've got a lot to say but no structure in mind. Just fair warning.

Chili asked what the criteria is for throwing things away at mom's house. Just one rule, really: Don't. I know this seems foreign to a lot of people and I will try to explain that at some point but I don't know if that's explicable, especially not to people who take pictures of their "filthy" kitchen to show the internet and the picture shows 3/4 of the counter still free and clear. It's a disorder, it really is, it's related to OCD and I don't fully understand it myself. Suffice to say the next person who says, "Can't you just go in there and clean it up for her?" or, like my dad, ask "Have you seen the house? When was the last time you saw the house? Have you seen the house lately?" is getting a Red Forman approved foot up the ass. I know that you mean well but it's not like I haven't well, seen the house and haven't thought about this a lot. I have chosen to preserve my relationship with my mother over cleaning up a mess that's not mine because cleaning up messes like that is what people do. It seems weird and I will keep trying to explain it but the bottom line is I know I'm doing the right thing and it's really hard and I hate lots of parts of it so if you're not part of the solution...

Fortunately most of you reading here are part of the solution. No matter what the problem. (One little blogger so many problems!)

I'm watching the Gilmore Girls Series finale for the second time tonight. I tape all the Gilmore eps for Charlie and ChemE missed the finale so I needed to tape it twice. It's not really worthy of 2 viewings so close together but it is better than I remember it being. However, I still really want to know how Amy Sherman-Palladino would have ended the series.

Chili also asked who I found from elementary school. It was Robert Squier, actually. I was looking at this week's offerings from PostSecret and I saw a card that reminded me of his artwork so I googled him. I don't know why I'm embarrassed by something that almost everyone does but I practically blush every time I do it. Anyway, he's got a web site and a fledgling blog and it looks like he's having great success doing what he loves. I'm green with envy but totally thrilled for him. Maybe when I'm home I'll find the beautiful piece of artwork he did for me when we were in high school.

I've been all over the internet at work this week. Miraculously I've also been doing all my work. Having all that filing done is a real weight off the brain. Anyway, I've come across a lot of interesting blogs and blog posts.

Fussy starts it all, of course. Her father died recently and she wrote a simple and spot on post about the day of the funeral. Catholic service followed by military service and she echoes my sentiments on both.

Through the NaBloPoMo list I found a few other folks. Like Tippy Tippy. I don't know why I like her exactly but I really do. She's arty and fun and fallible in a lovely way and I sucked up her archives like pet hair in my vacuum.

I don't know if Rich was direct from that list or through someone else (the pathways of the internet are twisty, just ask Gypsy) but I read even more of his archives than I did of Tippy's. I can't figure him out, which is more interesting than you might think. I learned something from his posts today. In AA apparently they tell newcomers, "We will love you until you can love yourself." I might be trying to teach that lesson next week. It's a good one.

Oh, and the whole inspiration for this post (in tandem with the Fussy funeral post) was from Katie Granju. She linked to this visual scale developed by mental health experts for use by hoarders and their families to help identify the extent of a hoarder's problem. There are 8 choices in each room they show. My mother is between a 7 and an 8. There's no category for car. Or dead boyfriend's house. So it's not a perfect scale but it's good enough for diagnosis.

Katie also led me to her sister-in-law who talks about organ donation, something I'm very much in favor of. Turns out I don't know as much about it as I thought and I was so grateful for Julie's candor.

Katie's blog is all newly designed thanks to some hosting problems but mostly thanks to her husband. I could kiss Jon right on the mouth if he weren't married...and too long a drive away because he's designed it all so that when she links to something I can get back to it so I can tell you all where to find it easily. I love that. LOVE IT!

Gerry Rosser is a frequent commenter on both of Chili's sites. I was strolling through his archives last week too and I got to Memorial Day. Gerry, a veteran of the US armed services, says, "...the only worthwhile memorial to our fallen soldiers is peace. We dishonor them with war." He claims it's only his opinion but I must concur and I'm glad he put it out there so succinctly that I could link to it.

OK, there was more, there is more, I'm sure. Oh! Like go look at my first trip to the horse track as memorialized by intrepid internet journalist, Kath. We had such an awesome time, we want to go again. Also, as if their status as low pro rock stars wasn't firmly cemented enough Kath reached out to me today, set up a time for me to drop off Em's things and took "drop off dog" off my list and put "pick up dog" on hers (or possibly Alex's), which was a huge help to me. You know, in the long list of huge helps it is to keep one's elderly 62 lb. dog for 8 days.

Now, if I don't start linking now I will never get this done by bedtime. Everyone cross your fingers for Zelda's wayward cat, Charlotte. Tell that kitten to come home NOW!

Sleep tight, y'all, I'm exhausted but a little wired from being in planning mode.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Early is valid

I'll do 10 things (at least!) that I have to do before I go to work on Thursday then get on a plane and then go to New England where I spend a week helping my mother get back into her house*.

1. Pack. Natch. Which will involve a whole list of what to pack, you know how much I like the listing.

2. Buy pet food enough to get the kindly caretakers of my menagerie through the week.

3. Coordinate the moving of food and pets and stuff over to Kath & Alex's pad.

4. Figure out if Pony Express is just pilling the cat every other day or if she'll also be feeding the cats every day. Which is sort of an if than proposition because if she is doing both then I don't have to do anything but if she's only pilling then I have to figure out who can feed the cats.

5. Clean, clean, clean. The Southern Girls Dinner Club is meeting at my place the Thursday after I return and I simply can't clean, shop and cook while simultaneously unpacking and baking a cake and going to the Mermaid Parade to celebrate Alita's birthday when I get back.

6. Get rid of the pieces of furniture and electronics and whatnot that I'm done with. There are rules about how one does that here but there are ways to get around it and I can't decide whether to be a good girl or not.

7. Lunch with Norwegian Chef tomorrow. She surprised me with a phone call today and I'm really looking forward to it.

8. Clean off my desk at work and leave a trail of bread crumbs for the bosses who will be in while I'm out. For instance, neither of them has ever successfully checked their own phone messages.

9. Make 2 huge phone calls for the Shakespeare show because if I don't do it well...I'll just feel shitty.

10. Gird my loins. This one will make more sense once I get out that post about why I'm going and all. It's a biggie, though.

Bonus. I accidentally found an old elementary school chum online today and I'm considering the relative wisdom of commenting on the artist's blog to see if he wants to have coffee or something while I'm home.

Bonus necessity: ARGH! Almost forgot I have to pay my maintenance. Damn. Where is that bill?

*Whole. Nother. Post.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Getting a Win

This afternoon I walked over to BAX to see some trimester-end student performances. This was Alita's first class session at BAX and she was great. There were no photos allowed during the performance but they gave us a photo op at the end of the show. Sadly this was the only shot I got before the batteries in my camera gave up.

I didn't need a camera to see how well she did, though. She had fun and she had clearly learned great things and was, as usual, just beautiful.

Right now I'm watching the Tony Awards on a time delay thanks to the glorious technology of the DVR.

It's kind of killing me.

I'm so happy for everyone, there are a number of people connected with these plays that I know in one way or another and for them I am so happy but I can't really stop tearing up. I don't feel successful and I feel as though I have been undermotivated (I know I have been) and I've let me hold myself back. I've been very discouraged of late and...distracted is such a terrible way to refer to it...but distracted by a number of emotional things in the rest of life. (In case you haven't noticed, 2007 has sucked the proverbial eggs.)

As I said to Alex last night, I need a win, people. I need it badly.

Not sure how I'm going to get it but I believe I'm now being inspired to figure that out.

In the meantime it was good to go to see Alita get one of her first big wins. As we walked to our celebratory pizza lunch we had the following conversation:

Me: What was your favorite part of performing today? (Up until now she'd only talked about the things she loved about the other performances in the show.)

Her: Um, well, I liked the....I don't know!

Me: You can't choose?

Her: Nope.

Me: Was there anything you didn't like about performing?

Her: (Immediately) Nothing!

That's my girl.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Is it just me?

Or does this guy bear a striking resemblance to a young Denis Leary? I'm finding him scrumptious.

His name is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, he's Danish and he's starring in a show called New Amsterdam, coming to FOX this fall. The show seems to be about a NYPD Detective who is immortal. Yeah, I know. If he didn't remind me so strongly of the beloved craggy one I probably wouldn't have given it a second look. However, I think FOX may have hooked me for at least a couple of episodes.

Going to hell and I don't even care

It would be charitable of me not to be so happy about this but, oh well, I'm already pretty much taking a first class ride to hell when the time comes so this is just going to give me my choice of surf or turf as my meal.

gave us all the heads up that someone in this post didn't get a contract for next season (Hint: It's not Sandra Oh). He's an ass and he was lessening my enjoyment of the show, knowing how badly he was treating some really stellar actors.

For more of my ranting on the rightness of this action see me long rambly comment on Chili's post.

Huzzah to justice! Revenge has been ours!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Spam A Lot

So, I got this spam today, as one does. The advertisement was for Cia11is in one of those no water required to take them tabs and the subject was "Cia11is Soft".

Someone needs a better marketing staff.

I mean, really, that's not going to bring in the right crowd is it? You don't really have to get all that creative to come up with something better either. Let's give it a whirl:

Cia11is now comes with a creamy center!

Now you can take her anywhere!

Melts in your mouth and in your hand!

Ok, that's enough from me, you try. Come on, you know you want to.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Huffing & Puffing It's So Hot in Here

I've been watching the 1st season of Huff. Frankly it didn't grab me right off but, you know me, I can't leave a season unfinished so I stuck with it. I'm getting into it now, and mostly because of all these Hot People, who happen also to be super talented.

T.J. Tynes was a guest star but I like him so much on Bones that I included him.

Did I run the gamut of age and gender? Sorry about the ethnicity factor but it's a pretty lily white show.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Check out my can!

I took all these pictures of the garbage cans we painted for It's My Park Day but somehow neglected to take a picture of the one that I personally painted. Whoops. I believe my Freudian slip is showing...or something.

This first one is by our fearless PUPS founder, Kath. It's Emily and Teddy kissing, how sweet is that? The can was upside down for drying purposes so I flipped the image, that's why it looks a

Next one is by Teddy's Girl. She did some research and found picture of the Soldiers & Sailors monument in the park and she gridded the image and then painted it beautifully on one side of the can. Then she went and got all generous with some slightly odd woman who came very late to the party and offered her the other side of the can. After T'sG left the woman painted trees partially over her image totally ruining the perspective. This is a sore spot. I still like the image but it's hard on the artist, which I totally get.

I call this one "Sunset Over Fort Greene Park. It's really lovely and they've placed it right near the entrance to the park that I use most often. Also, if you ever get married find someone like this can's painter's husband. She started the can then got stuck so she called him and asked him to bring her some art books that showed how objects look in the light of sunset. He came right out with some research material. How nice is that?

Teddy did not paint any garbage cans but we just don't have enough pictures of Teddy around so I took some while we were on our Photographic Tour of Rubbish Receptacles.

This is "The Look". I can't quite define it but Teddy uses it all the time. It's a sort of wheedling demand with a healthy dose of self-pity...or something. That's not it, but I love the way he looks.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Theme? I don't need no stinking theme!

1. Didn't realize you were supposed to refrigerate the cat's antibiotics. I think it's still OK but, dude, that cat just can't catch a break can he?

2. Chrome has a 10 list that made me shiver a little with delight.

3. A recent entry in the who's hotter than who game: "The guy who plays Jason Street (who sleeps with Lyla Garrity) on Friday Night Lights is hotter than the guy who plays Sean Garrity on Rescue Me.

4. I'm getting pretty good at this poker thing. Partly it's learning the players and partly it's learning the game. So loving it.

5. As a result of #4 I have given myself a horrible headache that's been pestering me all day long.

6. Tonight was the night of food problems. Cucumbers? Frozen. Rice? Flies in it. Beans? Refried, not regular. Transfer to portion control containers? Ended up with at least half a serving all over the floor.

7. So, yes, it's all pretty good news with Elvis but KSA (she's awesome, I told you) gave me the run down of what happened when her cat was diagnosed with a heart murmur at a similar stage. She wrote me a long, detailed, beautiful e-mail that was like an estrogen-heavy episode of Friday Night Lights (Clear eyes! Full hearts! Can't Lose!). The timeline was 2 years of home monitoring with no meds. Three years of annual ultrasounds and semi-annual check ups with meds delivered once a day and mini-strokes as the heart muscle closed up and clots had trouble passing. A swift end over the course of about 24 hours precipitated by a massive stroke. About 5 years, give or take.

8. This weekend I moved the dresser out of my bedroom to make room for the bookcase from the living room to make room for the piano.

9. I did start reading Nickeled & Dimed: On (not) getting by in America. There's a whole post in me about it, at least one, but wow, if you ever tip 10% in a restaurant, even when the service is less than stellar you really should go shave your head and go to confession immediately 'cause honestly if you think you're above getting your ass kicked by the capitalist system you're wrong.

10. Lauren Graham really should be getting offers for bigger and better roles. For the record, I do like Katie Holmes (who made the leap from popular WB show to wonderful feature film roles) but LG is a better actress and her taste in men is far less frightening.

And #11 is that, since I've been disparaging Wordpress it was inevitable that ammo was going to be given to the anti-Blogger campaign. There are no links in this entry because I can't get blogger to respond to my request.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Best case worst case scenario

OK, so the vet just called to say that the ultrasound is over. Apparently the mitral valve which is on the left side of his heart isn't snapping fully shut when the heart pumps. So the "whoosh" we heard (yes, I got to put on the stethoscope and hear the wrongness, then she went to the dog and let me hear the rightness in her heart for comparison, it's handy to have a control group pet) on Friday is essentially blood backwash. Yum, backwash. This is causing his atrium, aorta, whatever the a part is in the heart to grow larger because it is having to work harder to get the same amount of blood to the body. When that happens it doesn't make the entirety of the heart larger it encroaches on the space inside that the blood flows through. Which is, well, not ideal.

However, there is good news. Having seen it and seen what's happening they don't feel that he needs medication at this time and the recommended plan is to check his blood pressure today (apparently an intricate and somewhat innacurate process with cats, big surprise) and to ultrasound him again in a year. (Note to self: Budget $300 + vet visit per annum for cat bringing cat up to most costly pet in household.) Since they feel comfortable letting him go a year that seems pretty optimistic, right? Way long term it doesn't bode so well, he probably won't live to be 25 or anything but for now I can stop watching him for signs of impending doom and I can go help my mom in a couple of weeks without worrying that I'm leaving the End of Days to some poor soul who's offered to feed the cats.

I pick him up tonight and take him home and keep torturing him with meds to try and stop him from skinning himself alive and we go on from there.

I feel like I should buy some sort of present for Anna, something to make up for all the money not being spent on her. I think the last time she went to the vet was for her last shots as a kitten. She remains happy and healthy, and seems to be getting smarter which I didn't think was likely or possible. All she asks is to sit on the keyboard while I type and to lick my hair while I sleep.

Cat in a Box

Usually this box holds paper for recycling.

He's welcome to stay in there as long as he likes, provided he comes back from this ultrasound today with good news.

If you look closely you can see the nasty scabs where he's been chewing on himself. Poor cat. There's no proof of this but I suspect the murmur went undiagnosed which made him feel anxious which at the very least contributed to the escalation of his licking/chewing problem.

Yes, I am the crazy cat lady, it's OK, it's genetic. (Hi mom!)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Foot Loose and Fancy Free

Teddy's Girl, Carmencita, Alita and I all went to the New York Aquarium yesterday. It was an interesting experiment and a fabulous day. For instance I can tell Alita is about to be 6 without thinking about it at all. How? Perhaps the endless pestering all the time at the Aquarium, "I want to go swimming. Can we go swimming now? We've been at this place a very long time." despite the fact that she was actually having a really good time. You've never seen 3 adults more excited than when the following conversation occurred:

Me: Hey, look at those cool seahorses. They're camouflaging themselves in the sea grass.

Alita: ...

Teddy's Girl: Camouflage means to blend in with something.

Alita: We're studying camouflage in school.

Me & Teddy's Girl: Cool! Wow! So you can tell your teacher all about these seahorses.

(Insert endless coaching on what to say to the teacher and neverending pointings out of other animals using camouflage. I give it a 50-50 shot whether she remembers to tell her teacher.)

Hee. never go on an unauthorized field trip with a bunch of ex-teachers.

I, personally, could have spent the entire day watching the otters, sea lions and the enromous walrus. So cool. I can also highly recommend this year's cheesy attraction Deep Sea 3-D (pronounced in a deep, scary, announcer voice). I don't want to spoil it in case you go but it's totally cheesy and super fun. I'm embarrassed to say that I actually involuntarily squinched my eyes shut and braced for impact at one point. Oh yes, brave as a lion am I.

Eventually (some might say finally) we did go to the beach (a matter of walking about 10 steps from the Aquarium entrance) and this is what it looked like.

The girls came in for just a minute at one point. They were brave and stalked upright into the waves like awesome Amazons.

I only went in this far. But I wanted you to see.

Then I walked up and sat on the towel for a while. My sneakers still have sand in them. Memories of childhood. ("Dust your feet off before you get into the car. Before for god's sake!")

By the time I got home I was exhausted. This whole having a life thing is intense. How do you people do it?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Dollars and Sense

I've got an addiction.

Damn, girl, another one?

Yeah, I know. Ridiculous isn't it?

I don't know if I was asking about it here or somewhere verbally but I wanted to find a way to practice Texas Hold 'Em against virtual players with fake money before I branch out in either the direction of real folk or real cash and I wanted it to cost $20 or less. Crash had a game on his iPod and I'd failed to ask for a recommendation. I found it on iTunes (but of course you did) and it fell into the price range ($4.99, actually) so finally after, honestly, like a month of waffling I decided I was allowed buy it.

Can't stop playing.

Was late leaving the house this morning because of it, had to force myself to eat then feed and medicate the pets before I started playing again tonight. I'm not a bad player but I'm probably a little inconsistent. I'm also quite the Wreckless Erica with fake cashola, it turns out. Which is ironic considering what a tightwad I am in real life. Truly, a month to justify a $5 pleasure purchase, I'm not even kidding.

I take home around $1600 every 2 weeks. My health insurance is paid for out of that and that's almost $800 a month so it's not as pretty as it looks but it's comfy. My full roster of monthly expenses runs, I think, around $2800 a month. So I'm not right on the edge, certainly. I have a savings account in the low 5 figures. I add $50 a month to that - $25 each pay period. I have some mutual funds and I automatically invest $100 in those once a month. My 2 IRAs are from employers and are entirely employer funded right now.

My financial goals are...murky. Mostly I'm motivated by never ever wanting to have to spread my bills out by due date and figure out which I can manage to pay and if I have time to put off others until the next pay check. I simply never want to have that much stress and planning going into mathly matters ever again in my life. I did it for a very long time and I hated every second of it and it made me a shitty customer to boot because I'd just not open my mail for a couple of months because I couldn't stand the process and the sense of panic and failure it gave me. Christmas 2006 was the first Christmas since I've had my savings account that I haven't transferred money out of savings to cover the expenses of the holiday. Chances are I could have fudged and strained and charged and come out even but I wanted to pay for shit outright and not have to worry every time I went to the ATM that I'd be out of cash. I was inordinately pleased with myself for getting through the holidays without the transfer this year.

I made it a whole 5 months until I had to transfer. I did it today. I might be able to make it the next 2 weeks but I'm not totally sure.

Oh, did I mention that I hide money in my apartment, too? I keep an emergency stash of between $200 and $1200 hidden around the place (Hello, Stalkers!) in case of low cash flow on a night when I want to order in or I don't have time to go to the cash machine or if I have to move or whatnot. Other than the take out food I don't know that I've ever splurged on an actual purchase from that stash. I have used it for trip cash. I increase it by putting $20-$40 in every time I go to the ATM. Oh my god, the more I tell you how I handle money the more I realize what an uncontrollable nutbag I am financially. I hide money people. If I were hiding liquor like this you'd be calling Bill W. on me right now.

I feel a little failury about having to transfer out of savings. It's really complicated. My financial advisor is my uncle and last time we checked in he said, "Why are you keeping so much money in savings?" I have a great savings account (ING Direct, I've done the research, it really is the best return on this kind of account) but even the greatest savings account isn't making the same kind of return that other types of investments should. But I was waiting until I felt like I had "enough" money in savings.

What's enough?

Erm...until I feel comfortable?

What would make you feel comfortable?

Uh.....I don't know. Is there an amount that would mean I could quit my day job and do the job I love full time?

I was feeling OK about the amount that was in there lately, though. I was seriously contemplating buying a nice camera. I was able to pay for the recording I did and the DVD and the computer upgrades and even the new iPod (contingent on the old one crapping out) out of my checking account and not dip into the savings (Huh, talking over all the shit I've purchased over the last year I'm starting to understand why I've had to dip into the savings now). I was doing the math and I was almost feeling confident about quitting my job or asking to reduce my hours or something. Then I started to look at the checking account last week and it was seeming tight. Then I realized that I'd automatically hand my debit card over at the vet on Monday and I wasn't sure if there'd be enough money in there to cover the procedure so I transferred and felt like, somehow, I'd failed. Even though that doesn't make sense as I type it. Each of the aforementioned projects were ones that I took on by telling myself, "If I have to dip into savings this is a good reason for it, so I'm going to go ahead and do this." I just happened to make it work without going in. So maybe I'm doing a lot better than I think.

I know that the starving children in Armenia/China/Schenectady would beg to differ but feline cardiac ultrasound is also a good enough reason to dip into the pot, and that's why I made the transfer today. Back in the days when I was making $300 on a good week and it was all temp so a day off was a day unpaid I had to hospitalize the pooch for days and on more than one occasion and medicate her for weeks. I broke her out of the emergency vet by handing over a credit card to charge $1500 and, while I broke out in a cold sweat, I didn't regret it even for a second.

Wow, OK, this post was supposed to go in an advice seeking direction but I think I've talked myself into a good place about the money movements. (All except for the part where I fear that anyone I've ever said, "I'm not sure I can afford it" to is going to be sitting at their computer reading this and going, "Bitch!" because I didn't buy, donate or travel while thinking I couldn't afford it because to them it seems like I should be able to afford it. My neuroses are varied and deep, enjoy! Also, please forgive me for whatever I didn't do. I'm working on it, I promise.)

If I were going to ask advice it'd be, "Would you raise on a Queen, Jack off suit?"

OK, while I would like to know your feelings on that it wouldn't be the first money advice I'd ask for. I'd ask for a little direction with the savings account. As I've said, my goals are smudgy. I am afraid to leave my job because I'm afraid of being in that poor place again, of losing my apartment (and thereby letting down the relatives that lent me the money blah blah blah emotional baggage) of failing in a lot of ways. But, ultimately, I don't want to be doing this job. I can do it but I shouldn't have to. Eh, everybody does shit they don't want to do, I'm the first person to remind people of that, but if there's a way for me to do something I love I really want to do that. I think I can do more good in the world doing that. What's the right amount of financial investment in that pursuit, though?

There's my question. How do I direct my money toward creating a "support job" that I love? How much money is too little to spend on that goal? How much is too much? How much should I make at this loved career before I should feel comfortable leaving the job I have now? (Keeping in mind that I'll probably get some far less costly and therefore less convenient health care when I'm paying for it out of my own career.)

Anyway, other random financial facts that I feel I should disclose: I'm paying at least $50 extra a month on my mortgage. Mortgage is $750 a month. There's also an amount paid to the co-op company for maintenance that's between $550 and $625 a month. It costs $76 a month to get an unlimited metrocard for public transport in the city right now. I usually bring all or part of my lunch to work. I'm buying a lot of fruits and vegetables with my new eating style, which is somewhat expensive. I buy ridiculously expensive food for my pets, there is no component of their diet that you can get at a supermarket. I usually put half of my tax return and half of my Christmas bonus money into savings. I don't think I did that with either one this year, though, I cannot remember at all. My mortgage and one last payment of $320 to my mom are my only debts right now. Though I'll probably continue to pay my mom a similar amount per month to pay for her storage space until she can get moved out of that or she and I can come to an agreement about it. I got this 30 year mortgage when I was 33, I think I'll have paid it off early but I don't think it's going to be significant. For instance, if I pay it off before I turn 60 I'll be surprised.

OK, I'm done and I'm off to a fake living room in fake Cupertino, CA to play a real card game with fake folks for fake dough, 'cause thinking about real money issues is freaking me out.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Meanwhile, back on the block

I bank at a national bank that's fairly famous for being truly heartless and horrifying. Just ask Rob. Let's call it Skank of US. In my neighborhood previous to this the only national bank chain is affectionately known as Shittibank. So, it was a sign of the apocal...I mean, gentrification, that we had this second, quite slick, national chain buy out our awesome neighborhood hardware store and put one of their airy, open plan branches in its place.

Today 2 dudes robbed the joint.
I don't have any other details, I hope they'll be forthcoming. I also understand that I should be a little more upset that my insured financial institution and a business mere steps from my front door let it's ass get taken by 2 guys from the 'hood but, frankly, the first thing that came to my head was, "Awesome."

These guys have been robbing me blind for years, it's about time someone returned the favor.


This is the million dollar cat. He's made of solid gold, can't you see it? If his life were baseball he'd be Pedro Martinez.

At age 4, the very earliest that a cat usually shows symptoms of a chronic UTI problem, he did.

About a year and a half ago he started licking all the hair off his legs and stomach. When he's gotten rid of all the hair he could reach he started chewing his own skin. He is now covered in open sores. Charming, huh?

Today, on a visit from hell to the vet's office, which also turned out to be the worst day the vet had ever had since she'd gotten her license, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur. Which is, frankly, just as scary as it sounds. He goes for a cardiac ultrasound on Monday ($300 not counting what we spent today, and yet worth every penny).

He's on steroids to help him stop itching and antibiotics to stop/prevent any possible infection in the aforementioned open sores. After Monday he'll probably be on cardiac meds for the rest of his life. They will strive to keep him asymptomatic but they won't reverse anything and they won't prolong his life. That being said the vet did have a cat who was diagnosed at 7 years old and lived to be 20. His last meal? Ethiopian food. My vet enjoys a good chat no matter how behind she is on her appointments. She's kind of awesome.

Elvis will be 7 in September (as will Anna, Eva's Max & Pinto and Mom's Maria). That is a whole lot older than I think of them being. They're still just kittens to me. But it is technically senior citizenship for cats so the whole rapid onset heart murmur thing shouldn't be so sad, right? Yeah, fuck that.

The vet was talking today about an old saying that our pets are with us for as long as we need them. Yesterday I would have told you that I loved him and I even like him a bunch but I surely didn't need him.

Uh, who the fuck do I think I'm kidding? Who else will keep me humble like that? Totally need him and he better not die of this thing because if he does I will kick his ass.

2007? The a veritable sucktasm of sucktastic things that suck. So far.

Bunch of whiners!

Gertrude wrote about the last set of Hot People: "Who or what told you these people were hot? Or is this a list of your own making?"

I feel like a wayward child. I am unable to identify hot when I see it, apparently, and later she lets me know that I'm a dirty, dirty old woman for choosing such young 'uns.

She may, in fact, be right.

Other dissenters, Kath and Chrome Plated Girl, put forth their own ideas of hot and both options were....let's call it age appropriate.

Kath offers Robin Zander from her extensive research into musicians of all forms. I, of course, didn't know who the hell he was. Turns out he was one of the guys from Cheap Trick. So here's a little bit of that.

For Chrome we have Henry Rollins. He...uh....well I know he hosts some show on IFC or Sundance and I know he did something before that which is why he got that show but I don't know what that was. It's possible that he maimed people in a socially sanctioned way for a living but that might be my own dirty old woman proclivities rearing their heads again. Anyway, enjoy you some HR!

Hot People posts have been a bit slow the past few months, suggestions are gratefully received.