Sunday, September 27, 2009

Photos from My New Camera

I have been experimenting with my new camera. It has many different modes, settings, and icons. It's a little bit intimidating, but I am taking it a step at a time. The above photo was my first experiment using the Macro mode... I just snapped a photo of a ribbon lying on my desk.

Below are some photos of the little black kittens that have been visiting our back yard. They are about 30 feet away, so I zoomed in on them.

The next one shows them play-fighting. It's blurry because I took it through the window glass:

I have become very protective of these kitties. I feed them twice a day and worry if I don't see them for a while. They live somewhere in the bushy , tree-lined area behind our yard and come out in the open to visit our yard.

I will be out and about, taking more photos in the coming days. I still find it easier to carry my small camera with me, but I am determined to become more proficient using my newer, larger, more complicated one. It doesn't have detachable lenses... I guess that will be my next step. I have no one to teach me how to use these things; maybe I can find a class.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I have writer's block. I have artist's block, sewing block, quilting block, every kind of creative block. I have oodles of materials: old quilt squares, cutter quilts, a huge fabric stash, needles, thread, embroidery floss, canvas, acrylic paint, mod podge, boxes full of clippings and ephemera for collage, and more. But I can't do anything with it. I have no spirit to move me. I have no confidence in what I can do. I go into my craft room and just look at everything. I pull out pieces that interest me, but nothing comes of it. I have little stacks of half-inspired ideas sitting around. I fiddle, but nothing seems right.

This has been going on for a couple of weeks. Do I need to increase the dosage on my anti-depressant meds? Or are the meds sapping my creativity? A fire has gone out inside of me. I still function in my life. I get up, get dressed, shop, cook, have conversations, take care of my nieces, look out for the kitties, both inside and outside, drink wine with my husband... all the normal things of life. I just can't satisfy my creative urges. They are there, but it feels like they are taunting me... it's weird. Is this normal? Will it go away? It's maddening. Maybe I should just put all the materials away, out of sight and forget about them for a while.

Rain, Rain, Rain

This is what it's like at my house today. No floods (knock wood) expected, as in Atlanta this week, though. This kind of rain is good for the grass, flowers and trees. Not very good, though, for the harvest fests, hay rides and corn mazes. I like a rainy day. It's a quiet, steady rain, no histrionics like lightning, thunder, or gusty winds. A lazy, rainy day...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No News Is...

No news today... just want to touch base with my blog. Sometimes no news is good news, right? I am fine... my kidney stone is out. The stitches in my arm are out, although I have what they call "dog ears" (little bumps where the knots were) at the ends of the scar. My brother-in-law (a surgeon) says they will go away in time... but he's a Republican. (Just kidding!)

My kitties are fine... no more worries about Tiger. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the outdoor (feral) cats that inhabit our back yard. There are four little black kittens that are adorable. They sun themselves out there and romp around and play in the grass. I suppose the best thing to do is to have them neutered and turn them loose again. But, winter will be coming soon and I don't know how they will cope. The animal shelter here will try to have them adopted if they are socialized; otherwise they will be killed. I can't bear to think of that. We have no-kill shelters but they aren't any help. When you call on the phone there is a recording. It says they are full and can't take in any more animals, but "if you want to adopt one, these are the hours you can come in". I have searched the internet for other help, but there just isn't much in this county. All the services in other counties take only feral cats from their own counties.

I picked up my three nieces from school yesterday and took them home to do their homework. They got distracted by "I Dream of Jeannie" on television. When the television is on, no homework gets done. So I make them turn it off. One time they hid the remote so I just unplugged it. They panicked. "You broke the T.V. Dad is going to be mad!" they said. I told them I think Dad can figure out how to plug it back in! But at least the homework got done. They are cute, though. Yesterday they were in the back seat having a conversation about angels. The ten year old knows all about angels, and she was answering all the questions from the eight year old. The ten year old swears she saw an angel one time, in her bedroom. I love just listening to them.

In the car, they were watching a new movie about Barbie and the Three Musketeers. It was full of girls being empowered to be strong and brave. I could tell they were loving it. I looked in the rear-view mirror at them smiling. So, now they have a new motto: "Don't mess with the dress!".

Well, that's all the news from here (not as exciting as Lake Wobegon, I'm afraid).

Sunday, September 20, 2009


This is my sweet cat, Tiger. I am worried about him tonight. He started acting strangely today, and I think he must be sick. At first we noticed him sitting in a strange, hunched over position. Then he withdrew from us and began hiding under furniture. He didn't participate in any of his usual activities, like jumping on the window sill when we opened a window. I will call the vet first thing in the morning. I don't know how we will catch him to put him into a carrier; although he is very sociable he has never allowed either of us to pick him up. I've been reading on the Internet; many suggestions say to throw a towel over him, wrap him in it, and place him, towel and all into the carrier. Well, we will see tomorrow. I just hope he is okay.

**Update on Monday: Tiger seems fine today, is eating and acting like himself again. I'm not as worried, but I am
still going to talk to the vet and see if they want to see him. I know some of my readers are
animal lovers and didn't want to worry you.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Domestic Cats, Feral Cats, Race Horses and Farm Animals, All in My Neighborhood

First, the race horses... we are in Kentucky, after all. In my neighborhood, all the streets are named after famous horses and jockeys. This is an intersection near my house: Aristides and Sea Biscuit. Aristides was the horse that won the first Kentucky Derby in 1875. In 1938, Sea Biscuit won a historic race at Pimlico against War Admiral, a Triple Crown winner. It was called "a race for the ages' and was featured in a popular movie made in 2003. By the way, War Admiral is another street in our neighborhood.

Farm animals aren't far from our neighborhood, either. I took these two photos between two houses down the street. Notice there is a barn in the background, and those little dots are cows. (Not very good photos; I had my old camera with me.)

There is a colony of feral cats behind our house. The photo below shows the food dishes we fill twice a day. The cats come out of the bushes in the background, eat the food, then run back into the bushes. A few are beginning to feel more at home, though, and will come all the way up on our deck. The little kittens sometimes come out to sun themselves or to run around and play on the grass. It's hard to get photos of them because they run when we come outside. The biggest family includes black cats: there is a small adult we call "Little Blackie" and a bigger adult we call "Big Blackie" and four kittens, born in June. There is also a gray cat, a black and white cat, and a new litter of gray kittens born just a few weeks ago. We hope to catch all the cats and have them neutered before the colony grows out of control.

Two of the black kittens:

Then there are the cats who live with us in our house. This is Katie, the oldest. She came with us when we moved here from Philadelphia. She is a Maine Coon cat.

Then there are the two former feral cats we adopted from our back yard. They were little kittens who came up from the bushes behind the house. We started feeding them, then playing with them. Now they are perfectly adjusted house cats. They were easy to socialize. This is Tiger:

And this is Tinkerbell:

It's pretty easy to see how comfortable they are as house cats! They are friendly and playful and completely well-behaved.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Little Miracles

There is something about cats' eyes that makes me stop and think. Actually, it's not just cats' eyes... it's the eyes of all animals. Cats are the ones I live with, so I see them the most often. It makes me think of James Herriott's stories. He took the titles of three of his books from this poem:

"All things bright and beautiful;
All creatures great and small;
All things wise and wonderful;
The Lord God made them all."

I saw this alternative version on the web:

"All things bright and beautiful'
All creatures great and small;
All things wise and wonderful;
Evolution made them all."

I'm not taking sides here; I don't think the two are necessarily incompatible. I regard them as miracles in either case.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Am of Two Minds

I wrote another post about politics. Then I deleted it. It was pretty pessimistic, because that's how I feel about the state of politics today. I deleted it because I've written a couple of similar posts recently, and I don't want to turn my blog into mainly a political blog. I don't want to keep "beating the drums of doom".

I would really like to write here about more upbeat, positive things. So, how can I get my mind off the troubling things in order to focus on the good things in the world? I truly do find a lot of happy, positive things in my everyday life. Today I was out shopping and I saw a couple of really cute little children pushing their miniature grocery carts around the store. One little girl had on her ballet tutu and tights, with her hair in pigtails, and she was skipping as she pushed her cart. People in line at the post office were friendly and smiling at each other. I took my next-door neighbor to the airport to visit her daughter and she gave me a hug.

Lots of good things happen every day. I would rather write about the good things. Always in the back of my mind are the discouraging things that I know are happening in Washington and all over our country. So, sometimes I get a headache going back and forth in my mind. Good... bad... happy... sad... nice.... mean... back and forth. I do feel sometimes like I have two minds... like an angel sitting on one shoulder and a demon sitting on the other. So, I guess some days my blog will reflect the angel mind and some days it will reflect the demon mind. But I prefer to give the angel mind the benefit of the doubt.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Don't Understand...

Yesterday, in Washington, there was a Tea Party protest against government spending under President Obama. Let's take a realistic look at government spending. Many protesters' signs say "Stop Deficit Spending". Where were these people during the Bush administration? I really want to scream as loud as I can: WHERE WERE THEY THEN?!!

Look at this graph. Under President Clinton, we had a budget surplus. See... it's all in the blue. George Bush took that budget and turned it into an all-time high deficit... that's the part below the line, in the red. His all-time high deficit was almost as bad as his father's, before Clinton. I looked into some of the reasons for George Bush's budget deficit. This is what I found:

The CONSERVATIVE think tank, the Heritage Foundation, reported that under Bush, "spending was up across the board". They went on to say that "the biggest education bill in history, the biggest farm bill in history, and the biggest expansion of the Great Society" happened under Bush's watch.

The Executive Director of the Concord Coalition, a non-partisan budget watchdog group: "Bush joined with a Republican-led congress in a huge explosion of spending".

I could say more. Like, a year ago the economy took a nosedive under Bush's watch. Like, Bush enacted a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. Like, he wanted to privatize Social Security and put our accounts into the stock market. Look what happened to the stock market! My IRS account still hasn't recovered. In January 2001, there was a federal surplus of $236 billion. George Bush left us with a $400+ billion deficit. Where were the protesters then? I don't understand...

And, as for Health Care Reform... I can't find the words to describe the LIES... downright, irresponsible lies! People are believing the most outrageous things about Obama's health care reform package. The most recent AARP Bulletin's cover story is "The Hype, The Lies, The Facts, How to tune out the fear-mongering and misinformation and make sense of the health care debate." The AARP Bulletin calls their article "The Assault on Truth".

Here are the questions, and the answers according to the AARP:

Question: Will the government take over health care so we end up with socialized medicine?

Answer: No.

Question: Will private insurance be outlawed or wither on the vine?

Answer: No.

Question: Will the government encourage euthanasia to save costs?

Answer: No.

Question: Will Medicare be eliminated or gutted to pay for reform?

Answer: No.

Question: Will the government ration care?

Answer: No.

I don't have space here to rewrite the whole article, but under each Question and Answer is the following information:
"Where did this myth come from?" and "What does the proposal say?"

I can't even watch the news anymore. I cringe when I hear the lies and distortions on Fox News. I get angry when I hear the lies from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin. I live in fear when I see how many people believe them. I just don't understand...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Kittens Have Reappeared!

Back in June, I wrote about finding a mother cat and her litter of kittens under our next-door neighbor's porch. A few days later they disappeared, leaving a rumpled little nest of straw and grass. We thought it was likely that the mother had moved them to another location. It was a mystery. Where had they gone? Well, the kittens have reappeared... in our back yard! And here they are:

We have been putting food out, and they come by almost every day. Last night, they came all the way up onto our deck. We will try to catch them and take them to be neutered. There is a fairly large population of feral cats in our neighborhood, and we know what will happen if it just keeps growing. We already adopted two a couple of years ago, but there won't be enough people to adopt them all. Since these kittens were born in June, there has already been another litter born in our next-door neighbor's yard.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Lithotripsy Adventure

That lady lying on the table with the blue cap on her head was me yesterday. I had a kidney stone. A big kidney stone, that was stuck in my kidney. I was lying on the table to have a Lithotripsy procedure, They put you to sleep, then lower the machine into place. It hits your kidney stone with shock waves until it breaks up into small pieces.

The procedure took about 45 minutes, they tell me. I had no idea, as I was sound asleep the whole time. I asked the nurse what it would feel like if I remained awake. She said it would feel like someone is snapping a rubber band against your side about a thousand times. Ouch! They told me that the stone broke up really well. Now I just have to wait for the pieces to come out.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Politics is Bumming Me Out

What is happening to our country? There have always been differences. Good people have always disagreed with each other. But it feels like something different is happening now. Real hatred. Real paranoia. It's really making me sad, and it's really scaring me. People are shouting each other down in the most vicious way. There is no exchange of ideas; only narrow minds refusing to listen to "the other". So much mean-spiritedness. There is talk of violence and "blood in the streets". People are flaunting deadly weapons. What is going on?

We are beginning to remind me of Middle Eastern countries where one tribe hates the other tribe. We are dividing into tribes. I see civil war brewing. To one tribe, our President is not "our" President. Parents are freaking out because he wants to address their children about getting a good education. Some in the media have called this "silly". Yes, it's silly; but it's also very scary. And very, very sad.

This is what a town hall meeting should look like. One person is talking and the others are listening. Then, another person will get up and talk and they will listen to him/her. Then another, and another, and so on.

This is how town halls have been looking this summer. Do these people look like they are listening to anyone? No... they are just trying to drown out what "the other" has to say. Very ugly, and very, very sad.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Fine Saturday Night

A little over three years ago, we moved here to Northern Kentucky from Philadelphia. We were spoiled by Philadelphia... by the arts, the entertainment, and the good food to be found in an ever-expanding number of wonderful restaurants. We are still finding our way around here, still looking for good places to go.

We succeeded on Saturday night. We had tickets to Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park. Twenty-plus years ago, before we moved to Chicago then Philadelphia, we had season tickets. We decided to buy them again this year. The Playhouse in the Park is one of the best things around here. In 2004, they one the Tony Award for best regional theater. In 2007, they one another Tony Award for their revival of "Company", which went on to great success on Broadway.

We saw one of the Tony Awards, which the Playhouse displays in its lobby:

Before the play, we had dinner at Otto's. Otto's is a small, family-owned restaurant in Covington, Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati. We were new to Otto's; a neighbor had recommended it to us. A very pleasant surprise... the food was great, the service friendly and efficient, and the atmosphere eclectic, in an old row house. Quite a nice change from the huge number of chain restaurants in our area. We will go back!

Between dinner and the play, we had some extra time. We went to the Blind Lemon for a drink. How can I describe the Blind Lemon? It's a Cincinnati landmark to those of us who lived here in the 1970s. We used to go there when we lived here 25 years ago, and it's exactly the same. It's a tiny bar squeezed between rowhouses on Mount Adams. Mount Adams is the "cool" place to be in Cincinnati. Some have said is reminiscent of San Francisco, with the hills and the narrow, winding streets. The Blind Lemon has a courtyard out in the back, with the same garden furniture and old light fixtures. You can relax with a drink and listen to live music. It's best after dark, when it takes on a candle-lit ambience.

See the shadow in the middle of the photo? That's the stairway you take to go back to the courtyard. It's a narrow stairway with stone walls on both sides... it feels a bit like descending into a dungeon, but it's a short walk, then the courtyard opens up before you. See the plaque on the left side of the shadow? They list the names of all the celebrities who have visited there, including local Kentucky boy George Clooney (before he acquired a villa in Italy, of course) and many old Cincinnati Reds from the "Big Red Machine" era. It was a kind of "blast from the past" for us... visiting a place where we went in our youth and finding it just the same.

So, it was a nice Saturday night. Good things are there, if you take the time to find them.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Post-Op Day... My Little Surgery

I had a "Stage Zero" melanoma on my left arm. It looks like the illustration below... just on the top surface of the skin. If you have to have a melanoma, I guess it's the best kind to have. Well, now it's gone... I had it cut off yesterday at the dermatologist's office. They numbed the area with lidocaine. That stung a little, but the cutting itself was not felt at all. Before I knew it, he was stitching it up and applying a bandage. So, I now have a big bandage on my arm. I have to go back in two weeks to have the stitches removed. It's a good thing to discover a melanoma and have it removed before it grows deeper into the tissue; that's when the cancer cells can begin to spread to other areas in the body. So, I am happy that I have had this done.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cat Fur in the Fridge?

This little drawing is pretty much what my fridge really looks like. No fancy stainless steel, four doors, with ice dispenser here... nosiree. Just the basic fridge on top and freezer on the bottom. Why? because when we moved here, there was no room in the kitchen for a bigger fridge.

I didn't think it would be much of a problem because there are only two of us in the household... how much stuff did we need? Besides, it looks kind of retro, like Rachael Ray's fridge. Well, as it turns out, it drives me nuts! There is never enough room to put the groceries, and we can never find anything. Too often, when you open the door, something falls out. The darn thing is deeper than it is wide, so things get lost in the back all the time.

My answer is to clean it out and organize it more often. At least that was the plan! When it comes to fridge cleaning and organizing, months seem to fly by. Well, today is the day! I decided I am putting it off no longer. I looked up some organizing tips online, and I am ready... and determined.

I pulled the first drawer out to wash it, and what did I find underneath? Cat fur! (Not much, just a little... but cat fur indeed!) How in the world does cat fur get into the fridge? Have they been sneaking in there for midnight snacks? A more meticulous homemaker would probably freak. (Did anyone see Kate Gosselin having fits about cleaning the fridge in her new house? Jeesh!) Personally, I am more of a cat lover than a clean freak, so it didn't really gross me out. But... how did it get in there?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Light Has Gone Out

Erich Kunzel died today...

He was my "Michael Jackson".

Feeling Sorry for Yourself is Not a Good Thing...

Yesterday, I was feeling sorry for myself. I have an appointment Thursday to have a melanoma cut out of my arm. I've been dreading that. Next week, I have an appointment to have a kidney stone smashed to pieces by lithotripsy, which is scary because I don't know what to expect. I've been dreading that, too. Feeling sorry for myself, I didn't do anything yesterday but lie around and watch mind-numbing television. I hate days like that! After the fact I feel so ashamed of myself... after all, there are so many people with so many worse problems.

Today I am determined to get over it! The weather helps... it's a gorgeous day here. Sunny, clear, not humid. I think I will take a drive on a country road with the convertible top down! Later today, I will pick up my three nieces from school. There is nothing like three lively, energetic girls to take your mind off yourself!

One last thought: it sure would be nice to have a beach to walk along. That's the ultimate mood lifter...

September by. Earth, Wind and Fire

Favorite month and a favorite song: