Thursday, December 25, 2008

A gift from my new boss

We had an office party on Thursday last week that i missed most of because i was having lunch with a friend who retired from the PO a couple of years ago and it was the only day we could both fit into our schedules. When i got back, the party was still going on. The boss had provided lots of goodies, many that she'd cooked herself and some from other members of her staff. She also bought scrumptious chocolates for everyone (Harry and David truffles and chocolate-covered bing cherries...not bad!)...and they played some trivia games that she awarded prizes for, so that everyone got a small gift. Since i missed that part, she let me select from one of three packages that was left. I took one that looked kind of squashy as if it might have something textile-ish in it, and in fact it was a small pretty pillow in Christmas-y colors. Everyone was kidding me that they knew the kitties would claim it, and i knew that would happen. Sylvie got there first!
I hadn't noticed yesterday when i took this picture that Sylvie looked hunched up...poor sweetie, she was coming down with a urinary tract infection. I had to delay my departure today to take her to the vet. She's on metacam (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory) and clavamox (an antibiotic)...hope Sara-the-cat-sitter is able to get her to take them!

Merry Christmas, Peace on Earth to All

This post is especially for Banshee, an extremely cute calico and former feral who is living with two other kitties, Goldie and Shade, in the snowy woods of eastern Canada. Banshee was delicately and mischievously reaching one little white foot out towards Shade who was resting nearby Fuzzy would like to show her how its done. You snuggle up with your best buddy...and then you stretch out your big furry foot and rest it right on his bottom!
Warm wishes to all kitties everywhere for a holiday of light and love and peace!

Happy Chanukah!

Seems most appropriate to have a Festival of Lights right at the darkest time of year. Here's my two menorahs in the living room window, sending their little bits of light out into the darkness of a very cold Virginia night.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Puppus doggus" quilt

Each year my quilt group has its annual holiday party around this time, each year we draw someone's name for "Secret Santa," each year i make something, and almost every year, it's not quite done on time for the party. This year was no different than any other year!

I drew Jeanne's name. She's currently the president of the quilt group, and loves dogs. She also loves batiks, and bright colors, and blues, greens, and purples. I immediately thought of Ami Simms' "puppus doggus" block that supposedly was designed by Daisy, a Leader Dog puppy raised by Ami, an internationally known quilter, author, and teacher.
Here's Gingy making sure the sewing machine is set up properly.

Here's the first block in progress. I made each of the four dogs from four different blue and white batiks, with the same purple fabric for noses and the same blue fabric (with hearts) for the tongues. For the background, i used a gorgeous purple batik with border print. Ami uses a modified fusible machine applique technique, where the seam allowances are turned under and pressed into place on the fusible, then stitched down with topstitching around the edges.
Here's Louie helping me do the layout on the second block.

Sylvie had to get in the act, too! Here the four dog blocks are all completed and sewn together, and the button eyes sewn on. I didn't buy anything special for this project...everything in it comes from my stash! Next step is the border.
I don't have a picture of the finished quilt yet, because it's not quite finished, but it's very's machine quilted, with the binding 3/4 sewn on. So i have to finish sewing on the binding, stitch down the sleeve (on the back, which will enable Jeanne to hang the quilt on a wall without having to stick pins in it) and add a label.
At the quilting party, gifts are wrapped with only the recipient's name on them. We open the gifts one at a time, so everyone can enjoy each person's gift. Jeanne started laughing hysterically as soon as she opened the box, because on top of the tissue paper inside was a note that read "Uh oh, it's an IOU!" She KNEW it had to be from me. And she did love it. So now i've got it back to do the quick finishing touches.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A new cat nest box

I unpacked the stuff from Sunday's party and meant to move the empty box (which 2/5 of a bushel of wonderful tangerines from Florida came in) down to the basement where i would save it to replace the kitchen nest box. That box has the misfortune of being against a wall that Gingy keeps spraying, so the box bottom gets soggy. I try to spray with a neutralizer but i'm not winning the battle against odor and sogginess. Anyhow...the tangerine box didn't get to make it into storage because Gingy has taken it over as a favorite nest, and she and Fuzzy are comfortable enough together (which is a big milestone for both of them) to cuddle up in adjacent nests.

Chanukah preliminaries, plus cute cat in box

On Sunday night, our Jewish book club had its First Annual Jewish Food and Film Festival, which really was a Chanukah party at friends' house who have a home theatre, so wanted to show films in addition to our usual book discussion. We followed the tradition we established last year, of not reading a book for the month of December, but instead bringing in a favorite Jewish cookbook, making a recipe from it, and then sharing the recipe and the food with the group. Someone (we can't remember who now) suggested that we should take this opportunity to make latkes (potato pancakes) because the kitchen at the church where we meet has some serious constraints on it now--they have a caterer who does a big brunch every Sunday, and the kitchen has gotten quite dirty. Plus several years ago we made latkes in that kitchen and ended up ruining the garbage disposal with too many potato peelings and too much used oil down the drain. The church folk were nice enough to say that the plumbing was very old and would have broken any time, but i'm not the only one who doesn't want to repeat that fiasco!

Therefore, this past Sunday Rabbi Rose and i made a zillion latkes (give or take a few dozen *g*). We were ably assisted by three other people who helped peel the potatoes. I brought my food processor, cast iron fry pan, pot holders, potato peelers, salt, spatula, and apron (plus homemade applesauce to eat with the cooked latkes), while Rose brought the potatoes, onions, matzo meal, eggs, and vegetable oil. We made latkes and then we made some more! We couldn't flash freeze them, which would have been ideal, because the freezer wasn't big enough or empty enough to accomodate a cookie sheet, so we drained the latkes on paper towels, then placed them in layers separated by wax paper in large plastic containers and put them in Sharon's freezer (she really had to struggle to make room).

When i got home, i put the box full of supplies down on the kitchen floor (the only available horizontal surface) and started to put things away. The next thing i knew, Gingy had stepped into the box, and into the frying pan, and was vigorously licking it! Even though i had washed it in hot water, i guess some molecules of fried potato-flavored oil were still clinging to it!
I probably haven't mentioned before that Gingy's previous owner is a Rabbi...every once in a while, Gingy gives hints about her "upbringing" in that household, such as begging for pieces of challah or rugelach, which totally mystifies the other cats, and i'm thinking her love of the latke pan is another one.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Louie's turn to telecommute

Louie has a very different snuggling style than Fuzzy's. He lies on my lap on his side or on his back, sticks his face into my chest, and purrs and kneads. I usually need to keep both arms around him to keep him from falling off my lap. Here i've taken my right arm from around him to take his picture, and you can see that he becomes totally boneless when he relaxes.

Later, he hopped down, and this is where i found him and Fuzzy...double decker cats sharing my pillow and each other's company. Can you see the beatific smile on Louie's face?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Eat Locally but...

I'm really very much in favor of the "local food movement" food that's produced locally, so i'm supporting my local farmers and not buying food that's been shipped across the country or around the world, out of season, and consuming oodles of fuel in transportation costs. On the other hand...there are some gems of local goods that ship well, and need to be sold to a larger market than is available locally. Someone on the local e-bulletin board posted a link to this cool article in the NY Times about "thrifty treats" to mail order. I'm so pleased that Red Truck Bakery ( is included, because he's a local baker who makes wonderful stuff, including some of the world's best challah. I think it's funny that they mention his stollen, because i stopped off at e-Cow on Sunday night on the way home from a concert at Loren Maazel's beautiful place out (waaaaay out) in the country ...and they carry a lot of Red Truck Bakery's goodies, but were out of almost everything, except one stollen. So i stole it...*g*, i bought it. And it's delicious!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Winter Sunshine Kitty

Gingy on the low bookcase under the living room window, basking in the winter sun. Yes, that's a Christmas cactus on her's been blooming since just before Thanksgiving and will probably keep blooming through February. And yes, that's a box of Chanukah candles. No, i'm not well organized in advance of Chanukah...they're left over from last year...doesn't make sense to put them away now, does it?

Music for the Season

Last night, appropriately in the first snow of the season (just a light snowfall that melted almost immediately after falling), i went to the annual Celtic Christmas concert at the Dumbarton church in Washington, DC. The church building dates to the 1850s; its beautiful stained glass windows were installed in the late 1890s; but the church itself was established in 1774, apparently making it one of the oldest Methodist congregations in the U.S. The downstairs area is an open space that on concert nights is used to display works of art for sale and there are always some yummy refreshments for sale. The concerts are upstairs in the sanctuary, which is usually decorated in some way for the season or holiday. At Christmas time, the railing in the front has an evergreen swag tied to it, and this year there was a huge green wreath (probably evergreen Magnolia leaves) on the organ (which is at the back of the small stage), and greens and wreaths in each of the window wells, as well as lit candles, and poinsettia plants all around.

The music was provided by Linn Barnes (lute/guitar/banjo/Irish small pipes) and Alison Hampton (harp) with friends Joseph Cunliffe on flutes and penny whistle, Steven Bloom on all sorts of percussion, and Robert Aubry Davis (of XM/Sirius radio, formerly of the local NPR station) reading several seasonal poems accompanied by the musicians. This is the concert that always marks the beginning of the holiday season for me. The music is uplifting, bright, contemplative, sweet, a little melancholy sometimes...the sweet sweet sounds of the lute and harp lifting up into the church's interior cast a warm light over everything. (Go to the Barnes and Hampton's site and click on the links on the discography page...lovely stuff, isn't it?!)

My favorite reading is Robert Aubry Davis reading Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales. I knew it was somewhat abbreviated from and different than the printed version; my friend David asked Robert about that last night, and the answer was fascinating...he uses a radio script that Dylan Thomas himself adapted from his book for presentation on the BBC, maybe in the 1940s.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Telecommuting again

Just a picture of me trying to type with Fuzzy snoozing on my lap (and keyboard).

Squirrels and Cats

There's a huge oak tree in my backyard neighbor's yard that has harbored generations of squirrels. In the almost 20 years that i've lived here, the original mother nest has grown and daughter nests have sprung up, first elsewhere in the big oak, and then in most of my 7 maple trees. It's really funny at this time of year when most of the leaves are off the trees to look up and see just how many squirrel nests there are up there!

This year the squirrels had pretty good reproductive success, so there are quite a few young squirrels running around in the backyard. And they've taken to running across the roof, which makes Louie and Sylvie in particular sit up and take notice. All four cats love to sit on the various window perches and follow the movements of the squirrels around the yard and up onto my "squirrel proof" feeder.

Not too long ago there was a story on National Public Radio about the dearth of acorns in much of the Northeast US, including northern Virginia and Washington DC . They had probably picked up the story from the Washington Post . Just today Marie blogged about this and included a link to a really marvelous online novel, Beasts of New York by Jon Evans, that apparently was first released in serial form, one chapter a day. It's great fantasy with well-delineated (animal) characters. Squirrels are the principal actors, but all the other animals of New York's Central Park also play a part. And i don't think i will spoil the story if i say that i was so pleased that for once cats were good guys when interacting with the squirrels.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Books and Cats, Cats and Books

I ran across this photo essay on "Books and cats, a love affair in photos" in the LA Times book news and information blog It looks like the editor must have trolled through Flickr looking for cats on books and these guys are mighty cute.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Teddy Bear

Buskitten recently posted a sweet picture of her well-loved old stuffed animals on her blog so i thought i should honor my teddy bear in a similar way. This is my second original teddy is still at my parents' house!...i got this guy when i went in the hospital to have my tonsils out, which would make him 50 years old! (He really does have that 1950's kind of look to him, doesn't he? My original teddy looks considerably more antique.) His name is Freeto Cheeps and he has a windup music box inside (with the key sticking out his back) which still sort of plays Brahms' Lullaby. Over the years my father had to operate on him a couple of times to fix the music parents would discreetly sneak him out of my room at night so i wouldn't have to witness him being cut open! Most recently, my ex-boyfriend operated on teddy about 20 years ago to once again get his music box to work. It skips a little bit (i think some of the teeth in the music box have broken off over the years) but still plays. I sewed teddy back up afterwards, and also repaired his ear, which had come unstitched a long time ago.

As you can see, teddy is leaning against one of my current living breathing teddy bears, Louie! My mother wouldn't let us have pets...we did have a cat or two who visited briefly, which i loved but my mother considered a disaster (one went up inside the box spring of their bed, another apparently leaped off a shelf onto the washing machine and scared the heck out of her)...i had a goldfish when i was 4 (we left him with neighbors in Virginia when we moved away; when we came back to visit about 4 years later he was still alive) and my sister and i had a couple of short-lived red eared turtles when we moved to New Jersey. I did have another favorite stuffed animal, a cat with soft white real fur (hate to think now what it was...maybe rabbit) and beautiful green glass eyes. Her name was Katrinka. She's long since gone...i think a lot of her fur got rubbed off and maybe moths got her.

As soon as i went to college, i got a cat (she "belonged" to my roommate but i did a lot to care for her and to raise her...and then had to find a home for her at the end of the school year when neither my roomie nor i was allowed to bring her home). And i've had cats ever since! I can't imagine living without them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cats and dogs

One of my very favorite blogs We Three, Ginger Cat Tales, has recently had a very interesting exploration of the role of cats and dogs in Jackie's life, and her philosophical musings about them and their personalities. She is blessed to have an amazing dog Bella who is companion, friend, and protector of her cats, and teacher to her new dog Rosie.

I don't have a dog...commuting away from home 13 hours a day doesn't make a household that's comfortable for a dog. And the longer i've had cats, the more i've come to prefer their company. However, i do like dogs (and bunnies, horses, sheep, goats, cows, etc. etc.) and i recognize that they are different than cats as is their right. Sunday we had book club meeting at a home with a Samoyed named Trotski. He's very spoiled, and wanted to be right in the middle of everything, literally--he wanted to stand in the middle of the coffee table and be petted and admired by everyone. This would be cute in a cat (in my opinion) but a little hard to ignore when it's done by a 70-pound, extremely fluffy, large white dog! He cried when he was put down in the basement and likewise when he was put outside. He kept circulating amongst the guests and ending up next to me, where each time he vacuumed most of my body surface with his exquisite black nose. Trotski was definitely picking up cat scent molecules since he spent the longest time at the places where cats sit, lean, or rub against me.

When i got home, it was a couple of hours past the cats' usual dinner hour and they were eager to be fed. Only hours later, when i was sitting at the computer, and first Fuzzy and then Louie hopped up for a lap snuggle, was i given a few cursory sniffs. (I had washed my hands...both cats sniffed spots on my wrist that i must have missed.) The reaction of each of them was clear to read "oh, you spent time with a dog. How interesting for you. *yawn* D'you think you could scratch behind my ear, please?"

In praise of friends and family

I am very very lucky in having lots of good friends at home and all around the world. And i am very lucky to still have my father in my life (my mother passed away in February) and my sister. I keep writing several paragraphs enumerating all the people who are important in my life, and then deleting them again...i'm afraid i'd hurt someone by accidentally forgetting them, so better not to mention anyone at all.

I am thankful that my mother, who had been suffering from Alzheimer's for a year or more, died quietly with my father at her side. I am grateful that with as much as she had lost, she still remembered who we were.

I am overjoyed that two friends from my congregation who have been trying unsuccessfully and with great pain for many years to have children have both been blessed with babies this year.

I am grateful for my four cats, each one with a different hard luck story, each one a cherished member of my family.

I give thanks each day when i get out of bed and know that i've got another day on this beautiful earth.

I hope that all who read this will have many blessings and much to be thankful for, too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The challenge of telecommuting with cats

Yesterday was my telecommuting day, and the cats caught on that i was home. First Fuzzy came and snuggled while i was typing. Yes, my left hand is on the keyboard under his fuzziness!
Then it was Louie's turn. "Hi, mom!"
He's a little bit harder to snuggle and keep working, because unlike Fuzzy who leans most of his weight on the desk (and keyboard), Louie totally curls up on my lap, and needs to be held in place. Here he is kneading...
I'm more or less able to type like this as long as he doesn't cut off circulation in my hand.
Here i'm trying to participate in a between left ear and shoulder, one arm wrapped around Louie, the other trying to take hand free to type or scroll down the computer screen. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another Waste Not, Want Not Card Sequence

My Big Shot (Stampin' Up's version of Ellison's manual die cutting machine) arrived early this week and i've been playing with it. It can cut a lot more than paper and cardstock. eye fell on the plastic that had been used to keep the cutting platforms from shifting while the machine was in transit. Nice stiff plastic. So i cut a piece to size with my tin snips, and punched it out with the Snowflake die. Oh, that's nice! Then i spiced it up a bit with glue and glitter. With a little bit of metallic thread as a hanger it can be a nice ornament.
I was then left with a piece of plastic with a snowflake punched out of it...perfect stencil! So i made a card dabbing on white craft ink with a sponge, and then added a simple greeting (edges are sponged, it's popped up on dimensionals, and there's a light snowflake stamped over the greeting, none really visible in the picture).

After "stencilling" i was left with a piece of plastic with white craft ink on i placed the plastic ink side down on a piece of cardstock and rubbed the ink off onto it...sort of a transfer print. I stamped the greeting in white craft ink, which stays wet for quite a while, and didn't contrast quite as much as i wanted it to, so i sprinkled on some silver embossing powder and heated it...voila! Also added three of Stampin' Up's new felt snowflakes. die, three different techniques!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You've got to hear this music!

Last week my local National Public Radio Station played an interview with Buika, whose album Nina de Fuego was nominated for a Latin Grammy as best album of the year. She was the only singer from Spain nominated this year. She's the daughter of parents who were refugees from Equatorial Guinea who settled in Mallorca. There's something incredibly lovely, sensual, sad, and joyous all at the same time in her voice. Here's the interview on PRI's The World , including clips of a couple of her songs. has snippets of songs from several of her albums. She reminds me a lot of Cesaria Evora, even though Cesaria is a Cape Verdean who sings in Portuguese. I think it's the soulfulness of the songs and the smoky richness of her voice. It turns out that Buika didn't win the Grammy, but i'm delighted to have discovered her.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cats Never Quite Do What You Want Them To

Friday i was working at home and it was pretty nasty out, so the cats were all curled up asleep. I decided i'd go around taking pictures of them, but of course everybody except Fuzzy woke up when i approached with the camera, and i missed Louie looking straight into the camera and Gingy making a nice toothy yawn...i think the anti-redeye feature of the camera slows it down just enought for a kitty to change expression/position before the camera goes off. Oh well here's what i ended up with.
Fuzzy tucked into his "cave."

Gingy just finished yawning....just missed an amazing view of her dentition.

Louie was curled up, then stood up, stretched, looked at me...oops didn't quite get the pic soon enought.

Gingy quickly went back to sleep. Nice to be able to wrap onesself into such a soft furry blanket!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fog and Drizzle

Last night there was the strangest confluence of cool earth and warm air which by 1 a.m. made a very thick fog...that was illuminated from above by an almost full moon. Looking out my bedroom window, i couldn't see the moon, but i could see that the fog was lit up, almost luminous. This morning i had to take Trucklette (my beloved Subaru Forester now with over 160,000 miles on it) to the garage for new front brakes and an oil change. The fog had started to condense and dissolve into a steady light drizzle. Much to my surprise, the world wasn't all muffled from the was alive with the sound of birds! As i walked home from the garage, i heard robins calling everywhere, and as i got near my house, i heard other birds everywhere. There was a big flock of juncoes just down the street and a mixed flock of starlings, robins, and gold finches flying into my tall cedar tree, settling for a moment to eat its berries, and then moving into the shelter of its branches.

Last night we held a memorial service for the 24-year old daughter of one of our congregation families. She was their only child. She was found dead in her apartment in a nearby town. It seemed like such a terrible waste of a young life. We are guessing that drugs and alcohol were involved. At tonight's service, our Rabbi read a piece from the Friday night service that just hit home, about the necessity of listening...listening to others who might be crying out for help, listening to others in need, listening to the voice of G*d. Her parents were right there, the first time they've attended regular services with us, and i wonder if these words cut to their hearts. They clearly had tried to do the best for their daughter, and then had to let her go to lead the life she insisted she wanted to live. But i'm betting they wished they had listened to her a bit more and not been put off by her tough and defiant facade.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cats in Baskets and Boxes

It was so much fun posting the pictures of Gingy in my market basket, i thought i'd go through my pictures to find some more pictures of her and the other cats in containers. I haven't yet found all the cats in boxes pictures....maybe they're still on one of the memory cards (yikes) but here's Fuzzy in the orange box in the kitchen (1/2 bushel of oranges fits in this box).
Here's another of Fuzzy, this time in my market basket (my only attempt at basket making):
Gingy on a mat, Louie in the box, after both pigged out on fresh catnip that i brought in from the garden this summer:
This is Sylvie in front of the fridge on the tray that comes under a case of canned cat food. These end up getting flattened and torn into perfect catnestitude:

One last pic, of Gingy in her nest in my study. It's a box of flimsy cardboard that 500 envelopes came in. It's on top of a pile of stuff, behind a jumble of other stuff, on a storage desk. I'm not sure how she found it, but she's the only one lithe enough to hop up there, which she does with great ease and then swirls herself around to (just barely) fit in the box:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cat in a Basket

What is it about boxes and baskets that so attract kitties?! Maybe they like the security of sleeping in a container that hugs them from all sides. Or at cats are so big...and get into containers that are so small...that they are hugged from all sides! This morning Gingy was in the big African basket/purse that my friend Cathy gave me a few years ago. It's way too large to fit anywhere except the living room floor, where it promptly acquired a filling of quilting fabric and a Laurel Burch bag or two. And then Gingy discovered it as the perfect nest! None of the other cats has ever even thought about getting in there (Louie does claw at it occasionally, hence the "poik" marks on the side and the slightly shredded handle), but Gingy just goes right up to the basket, leaps lightly in, curls herself around, and there she is.

Oh, i can't resist posting this one, from this past April, when the level of stuff in the basket was a bit higher...and that blue so compliments her fur color!

Here's Gingy a few Fall seasons ago, in my market basket...i must've just come back from the Farmer's Market because there's an acorn squash in there with her!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cardmaker's Dilemma

I need to make a (belated) anniversary card for my friends Rose and Gary, a sympathy card for my friend Adrienne whose mother passed away, and another for a member of our Congregation whose daughter died last week. But what did i do? I made two holiday cards! I've been cruising through assorted blogs and came on this really pretty and simple card on Tandra's blog .

Here's her card

She used the gorgeous new Bella Rosa designer paper (Stampin' Up! of course) and not only do i have this paper, i've also got the stamp set and the ribbon. Usually i look at someone else's card and figure out how to simplify it enough to make it. This time i thought maybe i could gussy it up a bit, so i used the new striped twill ribbon and two different holiday greetings with sponged edges and Kiwi Kiss paper behind them, popped up on dimensionals. This first one uses a really beautiful stamp for the sentiment, but it was too big to fit in the medium oval punch, so i had to punch it out with the wide punch and then make do with two green ovals to imitate a larger oval behind it

The second one i used a smaller greeting so i could punch it out with the medium oval and mount it on a large green oval.

Friday, November 7, 2008

In praise of telecommuting

Within the last couple of months my employer decided to try Alternative Work Schedule/Telecommuting again. They had experimented with Alternative Work Schedules about 10 years ago when the rest of the Federal government tried it, too, but the experiment was cut short with no explanation...possibly it was because the unions representing our blue collar employees felt it unfair that their members weren't able to take part. Now there's a movement government-wide to encourage people to spend fewer days at work (either working 9 days of longer hours so one can have a 10th day off every two weeks or working from home one day every week) ostensibly for environmental reasons.

Whatever the justification, i love it! My carpool buddy and i both elected to telecommute every Friday. That means that i can wake up two hours later than usual, have a leisurely breakfast, and wander into the home office by 8 a.m. It's a 55-mile drive to work, which this week has been taking 1.5 to 2 hours every morning and at least 1.5 hours every evening. Traffic on Friday evenings is usually horrendous. But now...on Friday i can work a full day, then stop working...and i'm home! When gas was close to $4 a gallon it was costing me over $16 a day just in gasoline to go to work. And that doesn't factor in the wear and tear on Trucklette or myself.

Here's another perk of telecommuting...a purr symphony while i'm typing!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

YES We Can!!!

I am so excited. This country has come such a long way. I remember my parents being distressed that the public schools in Virginia didn't offer kindergarten in the 1950s when we lived there, so if you wanted your child to go to kindergarten, you had to pay to send them to a private one. Which meant that the children of the poor already started off first grade behind the eight ball because they were a year behind in education. Now let's hope that the new Obama administration will work to cure remaining inequities in the education system, restore civil liberties stolen wholesale by Bush's Justice Department, heal the suffering environment, provide well-paid jobs for eager American workers, end our military excursions in places where our presence does nothing except provide training for terrorists and drains our economy, restore our place in the eyes of the world as a beacon of hope, innovation, and opportunity...Yes We Can.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Today's Election Day here in the U.S. It seems like the run up to the election has been going on for years and years, and now today is finally the day. I hope the election is actually decided today, not a long protracted process with the dubious results we had in 2004. I'm usually about the sixth person who shows up to vote at my local polling place when it opens at 6 a.m. This year, i got there at 6 a.m. and had trouble finding a place to park, then joined a line of more than 100 people, some of whom had been there since before 5:30. It took me half an hour to get in to cast my vote. I was #53 in the line of persons with last names P-Z...assuming an equal distribution amongst the lines, that would mean about 150 people had already voted by 6:30 a.m.! Of course i hope my candidate wins, but i was cheered to see so many people turn out to enthusiastically take part in our democracy, no matter who they voted for.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Indoor Cat Hunting Skills

The long-awaited Wegmans grocery store finally opened at 7 a.m. today, and my friend April and i were there, with about a zillion other people. (Let it be known that normally on Sunday i'm not usually even stirring for a couple more hours.) It's a fantastic store, a foodie's delight, plus the necessities are well-priced, the produce is beautiful and much of it is organic and/or locally grown, and the bakery is to die for. And they make REAL bagels, the kind that go into a boiling water bath before sliding onto a conveyor belt trip through the oven. The store also has a well-deserved reputation for treating its employees among the best in the industry.

One of the things that i got was a "Caribbean lime" rotisserie chicken...for $4.99! All of my purchases fit into two big Wegman's reusable shopping bags, which with their club card were only 99 cents each. I put the two bags full of groceries down on the kitchen floor and dashed off to the bathroom, from where i heard the unmistakeable sound of a bag being knocked over and plastic rustling.

First we see the great huntress (Gingy on the left) crouching over her prey in its covert. Note the male of the species (Fuzzy on the right), waiting for the prey to be brought down.

Then we see that Gingy has extracted the prey from its lair and is busily plucking its feathers, er, tearing off shreds of the plastic bag, revealing the chicken in all its glory. Of course i rescued the chicken from her tender mercies. I think if i had given her enough time she probably could have figured out how to break in to the plastic container around the chicken. (Yes, of course i gave them all some chicken!)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

It was a perfect but not too cool and sunny, also the strong winds of the last few days died down (my next door neighbors dress their house up to a fare-thee-well and a couple of their decorations rolled and blew over here). I telecommute on Fridays now, so i thought that i would be home to see the little kids who i usually miss since i often don't get home until 6 or later. But strangely, the first kid didn't show up until after 7 p.m.! There were more homemade costumes this year, which was great to see. The scariest were a neighbor's daughter and son-in-law who came as Palin and McCain!

First picture is of Fuzzy and Sylvie waiting for the trick-or-treaters to start arriving. Pretty impressive cat costumes, eh? *g* If you look at the detail view of Sylvie, you can see that she's got red eye despite the red eye correction of my camera...and you can see the notch in her tail, where the vet shaved off the fur so that i could clean a nasty scratch she had there, either from construction or another cat's claw.

The second picture is of my decorations awaiting the kids...two metal black cat candle lanterns from Mexico and a pumpkin that i made with Stampin' Up! papers and ribbon and inks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Amazing what a kitty can do!

There's a rural town in Japan at the end of a failing train line, which adopted a local kitty as its mascot...and now the town is doing $10 million in business a year to a tourist trade eager to visit the kitty and buy kitty things. She's really cute...a Japanese calico with a short tail. I haven't figured out how to embed the video, but you can read her story and watch the video here

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A thank you card

Our Sukkot celebration was held at the lovely home of one of the members of our Congregation. They live out in the country, on 10 acres of land with its own pond, rolling hills, and fabulous views. The day was quite chilly and breezy, but beautifully clear and sunny. I made a thank you card...the bird is popped up on dimensionals (little foam blocks with adhesive) and its eye is a silver bead. Not nearly as elegant as the home where we met, but the colors are in our hostess's dining room (fantastic pomegranate wallpaper sort of like a William Morris design in a yellowish green/gold).

Waste not, want not...

When we cut the snowflakes out of a square of paper with the BigShot, it left behind a "frame" with a negative image of a snowflake in it. At the very least i thought i could use these as snowflake stencils. Then it struck me that they would look great with some designer paper behind them...and made two cards this evening using the negatives from the two cards i made with die cut snowflakes yesterday.

Stampin' fun

I recently became a demonstrator for Stampin' Up! (r). It's a home party plan that sells rubber stamps, paper, and all the wonderful embellishments that go with it. My original plan was to just buy the ink and stamps to use in quilting, which is my major creative outlet these days. But i've made my own cards for years, so i easily got hooked on rubber stamping my cards. And you can't buy just one stamp also need assorted papers, inks, and on and on. It's addictive!

Yesterday (Saturday) i went to the home of my upline for a "WOW Christmas Cards Class" (admittedly a strange way for a nice Jewish girl to spend Shabbat...). I went with my friend April and there were 10 other women there. We made 2 each of 5 different cards in 5 hours...some of them were fairly labor intensive. All were lovely. The one pictured here uses the new BigShot to cut the snowflakes from paper or card stock. (These cards all had a lot of bling...i actually forgot to put a line of glitter along the edges of the Navy card stock but it's still got a lot of sparkle.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Welcome to my blog! I don't know whether i'll actually be able to keep up with it or not, but here you'll find mewsings about cats, quilts, stampin' (I finally bit the bullet and became a Stampin' Up! demonstrator this month), mewsic, Judaica, gardening, cooking, and the many other things that i find interesting.
This picture is from last night. The weather has turned very quickly to Fall, with temperatures outdoors approaching freezing and temperatures indoors fairly cool, t00. I'm not sure which cat got up on the couch first, but then the other one joined him...these two are neutered males, several years apart in age, one formerly the abused and neglected and abandoned cat of a neighbor, the other formerly the neglected cat of a different neighbor, and now they are both my dear cats and dear friends to each other!
Louie, the cat on the right, is the family ambassador. He likes everybody and MAKES them like him. Fuzzy, who is the largest and oldest (but not most senior) member of the household, can sometimes be timid. (Which is so funny, because i was afraid to let him in the house at first, thinking he would try to beat up all the indoors cats. Instead, fate forced my hand. I had to bring him in because he became terribly ill. As he recovered in the warm quiet of the basement, the other cats checked him out under the basement door. They actually all knew him, because they used to be indoor/outdoor cats, and ran into him in the yard. Anyhow, when he recovered and came upstairs, he immediately let it be known that he considered himself the low cat on the totem pole.) Fuzzy and Louie have a very warm friendship, almost like litter-mates.