Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Did You Know?

I just saw this very though-provoking video.

Watch it.

That Damn Cat

That Attila is unbelievable. I think he's trying to be spiteful over the gross indignity of being forced to wear a diaper with a hot pink baboon-butt bottom.

Twice today I had to wash his soiled fancy pants.

You would think that after having been outside for a few hours with no pants on his bum, that Attila would have gotten all of today's peeing out of his system.

Not so.

Within minutes of coming in and having his freshly cleaned diaper and new panty liner slapped on his butt, the recalcitrant feline had soiled his pants again.

Once again I had to wash those pants and throw them in the dryer while I threw Piss Pot Pete outside.

This time, after the pants finished drying, I decided that instead of putting a panty liner in the pants, I was going to use an ultra-thin maxi pad. After all, the panty liners have not been able to hold all the liquid that cat has been able to produce.

Well, I discovered that the ultra-thin maxi pad worked rather well. In fact, I witnessed the bugger attempting to spray the shop vac in the library.

Yes! I saw it with my own eyes.

There he was with his bum backed up against the shop vac and his tail twitching furiously. Yet nary a drop was spilled. In fact, the pants remained clean and dry.

I wonder how many times am I going to have to change the pad in those fancy pants.

The good thing is that Attila is no longer peeing where he is not suppose to. The down side is that I have to keep checking his pants to make sure that he hasn't gone to the bathroom in them.

I swear, it's just like having a baby.

Never a dull moment in this house with all these animals.

Feline Fashion Modified

Well, it seems as though it did not take Attila all that long to figure out that he could still go to the bathroom while wearing his new fancy pants.

That discovery was made yesterday morning, when I saw that the pillow case on the bathroom sink was wet. Not only that, it smelled of cat pee.

Checking the guilty one's diaper, I noticed that the panty shield in it was stained yellow, and the fancy pants smelled so badly that I had to throw them in the wash and throw that damn cat outside.

Once clean and dry, I had to figure out a way to modify those fancy pants so that Attila would not be encouraged to pee where he was not supposed to.

The obvious modification should have been to the tail hole, which was more than large enough to accommodate a soda can. And it was certainly large enough to leave the offending anatomy exposed.

After all, these fancy pants were not exactly designed for male cats. They were designed for female dogs in heat, whose anatomy is much lower than that ofmisbehaving male cats.

OK. The plan was to make the tail hole smaller so that Attila's sprinkler system would remain covered.

Because all my fabric has been either packed away or given away, I had to come up with another way of making the tail hole smaller. Well, the answer to that question was found at the end of my crochet hook.

Ariana and I both chose hot pink yarn for the job. Sure, that's not an especially dignified color for a cool male cat like Attila. But he's been such a naughty cat that it was decided that he will be having to pay his penance in pink.

The new tail hole insert was a perfect fit.

But I tell you, I could not help but laugh when I saw Attila trotting across the living room floor with what looked like a section of a bright pink tennis ball stuck under his tail. I laughed so hard that I practically needed a pair of fancy pants for myself.

Well, the new tail insert did the trick.

This morning I discovered that Attila did indeed do to the bathroom in his pants ~ both Number 1 and Number 2.

It's like having a baby all over again.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Musings On Spring, Warmer Weather, and Things to Come

Ah yes!

Spring arrived last week. And for that I am extremely grateful. It's always a nice thing when there is no longer that threat of snow hanging over our heads like the swords of Damocles.

However, I am still hesitant to pack away my winter boots. After all, it's still March, and we have been known to have snow even in April, albeit its rarity.

But it's still not unheard of.

Take Lubbock, for example.

All of this week and last week, Lubbock has been arousing my envy in its enjoyment of temperatures in the 70s and 80s. And yet this morning, Lubbock experienced a snow storm. This is an area in the significantly lower latitudes, mind you. It's a good thing that Neil had not yet put away his snow scraper.

For once, it's far warmer here than it's in Lubbock. At this current moment, the temperature is 57 degrees here while Lubbock is shivering at 31 degrees. (However, temps are expected to reach the low 70s by Sunday.)

Still, I am grateful for the warmer weather here. The are signs of stirring new life everywhere.

In the meantime, there has been no progress on the sale of the house, which has been pretty much ham-strung and stalled by this lousy economy. (For some reason, this area of New England always takes the hardest hit and is the slowest in the nation to experience a recovery.)

Today I met with MaryBeth, my real estate agent, and we had to agree that another price reduction was in store.

Anyhow, we're pretty much stuck in this area until the end of April/beginning of May, which is when Ariana is scheduled to testify as a witness at an up-coming trial.

Hopefully after her testimony, the stars will be in our favor, and we will be able to hit the road. I really hate the notion of having to spend all of summer here when there's a whole new place to just waiting to be explored.

And besides, all of my summer clothes are packed. If we were to spend the summer here, it would not be a simple matter of just unpacking the clothes. You see, I have also used those same clothes as packing material in order to economize on space.

In the meantime, I decided that our road trip is going to be a straight forward drive with no side trips alone the way. That means that there will be no stop at the Kangaroo Conservation Center in Georgia for me, and no stop in Dallas for Ariana to see a friend.

With us renting an RV, those extra trips will wind up costing us more in both rental fees and gas. And right now, especially with the fast sale of this house hinging on a miracle of Biblical proportions, recreational spending would not be a wise idea.

As for that matter, would we really want to be on the road all that long? It's a long drive from here to Texas. And while Ariana and I have no problems getting along, would we be able to maintain our sanity having Jeremiah with us, close quarters, for all those days on the road?

He and Neil may have had the classic male bonding experience while on the road, but Jeremiah tends to be a lot more unrestrained and stubborn around Ariana and me.

Oh well, we'll deal with that when the time comes.

For the time being, all I hope and plan to do is to enjoy this warmer weather and the reawakening of Spring.

The Latest in Feline Fashion

Meet Mr. Fancy Pants. That is my new name for Attila, though Ariana dislikes this new appellation.

As I have been fond of mentioning to others, Attila is a creative genius for finding litter box alternatives.

You would not believe the different odd areas where he has gone to the bathroom ~ on top of the refrigerator, in fruit bowls, in drinking cups, and even inside the glass enclosure of a 7-day candle (all without spilling a single drop).

Just what is it that makes Attila spray and go to the bathroom where he's not supposed to? In our case, it's probably due to the large number of cats ~ especially male cats ~ that we have in the house. It's a territorial issue.

(And for the record, Attila is not the only cat I caught peeing in inappropriate places. He's just the most prodigious pee-er.)

For some reason, Attila will not go to the bathroom in Ariana's room, where he likes to spend most of the day. But the rest of the house is fair game.

Finally, enough was enough. Something had to be done, especially since we'll most likely be renting a house when we relocate to Texas (whenever that's going to happen). We cannot have Attila damaging someone else's property with his wanton and indiscriminate marking.

I got the idea of getting Attila a pair of washable diaper pants after seeing a pair on my vet's office cat, Julio. (Julio, while a charming ambassador for the Mattapoisett Animal Hospital, had the annoying habit of voiding his bladder on clients' coats and expensive leather handbags.)

Sporting the latest in feline fashion did not, in no shape or form, dampen Julio's unbounded affection towards visitors to the animal hospital. As such, I thought it was a worthy experiment to try on Attila, AKA Pissattila.

At first Attila got a reprieve because the diaper pants that I bought were too small. When I exchanged them for the proper size, he got another break from having to suffer indignity when I had to launder the pants, as per their instructions.

Fresh out of the dryer, we were ready for business. At least I was.

The first several minutes were the roughest as Attila was totally bewildered. He staggered like a drunk and fell over sideways and backwards, knocking over my birthday African violet that's already been seriously struggling to hold on to what little life it had left in its poor pathetic and shrivelled leaves.

Attila was definitely not happy with his new fancy pants, and he took out his extreme displeasure on the nearest target, Big Fat Stevie. Poor Stevie. Attila has never beat on him before.

And poor Attila, having to suffer this terrible indignity. Where is the justice?

But what other choice did we have with such a recalcitrant cat, short of locking him up 24/7? I overheard Ariana say to Attila, "You brought this all on yourself." How true.

It's too bad that Attila has to wear this new attire, especially since he is a very handsome cat, and having to wear a diaper looks just plain silly.

Anyhow, Attila is adjusting to his fancy pants. His tail still twitches like an angry snake, but he's now walking a bit more normally. His rear legs aren't as splayed out like duck feet as they were earlier. And pretty soon, we hope he'll be walking without the slightest uncool impediment to his typical cool-cat stride.

For some reason, Attila likes to lick his new fancy pants. Why? I have no idea. Maybe they still have unseen remnants of the catnip that he rolled in after I gave him some in order to assuage the insult of having to wear a diaper.

The funny thing is that the tail hole is large enough to permit Attila to go to the bathroom without my having to remove his pants. But he hasn't figured that out just yet. To him, those fancy pants are a significant distraction from going to the bathroom.

The next part of the fancy pants learning curving has been trying to figure out when Attila needs to go to the bathroom. Unlike monkeys and baby humans, Attila does not pee in his diaper. And unlike the dogs, he doesn't stand at the back door waiting to be let out to go to the bathroom.

The fancy pants experiment is still too new for us to have any idea in how to gauge Attila's bathroom needs.

I have taken off the diaper at certain times of the day, but Attila did not rush to the litter box or even to any inappropriate spot.

For the past two mornings, I have taken off the diaper and put Attila outside for about an hour or so. Whether he went to the bathroom while he was outside was another matter, and I had no way of determining whether he had or not.

I suppose as days go on, the learning curve will level out of both Attila and us.

And perhaps later on, I'll be able to sew a fancy pants wardrobe for Attila so that he doesn't have to keep wearing the same blue denim pattern. Hmmm. Perhaps hot pink zebra stripes.

It's a Wrap

When I was not sick with the flu, I was busy crocheting this shawl.

I got the idea for this shawl from my dear friend Ruth in Australia. (Hi, Ruth!)

To make the shawl, I first crocheted a chain of 260 stitches. Each new row involved a new yarn, which was crocheted into the previous row, decreasing the number of stitches by one on each end.

The further along I got in my shawl, the quicker each row went. However, it still took well over a week to finish this project.

When I had finished the shawl, it measured 1.77 meters. (Ruth's measured 2.4 meters.) And while I was happy to have finally finished the shawl, I did wish that it covered my elbows when I had it draped over my shoulders.

Well, there is a way to address this issue ~ simply crochet more rows at the top, increasing the stitches by one on each end.

And that is what I am doing right now whenever the mood hits me. Of course, now that I am working in an upward direction, each row is taking longer to crochet than the previous row. But with the weather getting warmer, I am in no great rush to get the shawl to its desired width.

Some Video Fun

After having recovered from my flu, I had a lot of catching up to do with my favorite video site, Maniac World. (YouTube is a great site, too.)

Watching videos, for me, is a fun way to unwind and sometimes get a good laugh. Other times I am amazed by what I see. And then there are some videos that leave me shaking my head.

This morning I was showing Ariana some amusing videos, and she recommended that I go onto YouTube to see a couple of her favorites.

Here's a good one. (Neil, I think you'll really appreciate this one.)

Isn't this guy amazing?! Ariana and I think that the fellow is probably aspiring to be a movie stunt man, if he isn't one already. I can imagine being in a shopping mall and seeing this crazy character come out of nowhere, run up a wall, and do back flips.

(The Urban Ninja is so good, that the both of us wondered if he is full of himself. Wouldn't it be nice if he was a really nice and decent fellow?)

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, check out this video of the
Annoying Devil. (I would have embedded this video to make it easier to video, but the embedding function had been disabled. Sorry.)

Isn't this guy a royal jerk? Yeah, but you have to admit, some of the stunts that he pulls are funny. However, I certainly would not want to be on the receiving end of these stunts.

This other video, about Leonardo the Robot, is simply amazing. As the robotics researcher in the video said, this robot is the "Stradivarius of robots." Watch this video, and you'll see why.

Don't you just want one of your own? Look at those eyes. The expression in them just draws you right in. Those cute ears and the tiny paws are the icing on the cake.

You don't have to go to some high tech robotics lab to find some amazing stuff. Interesting wonders abound all around us, in simple everyday places. It's just a matter of being at the right place at the right time, which in this instance is on board a Southwestern flight 372 to Oklahoma city.

You got to hand it to this flight attendant in making a boring, routine speech into something entertaining and memorable. How many people on board that flight, do you suppose, told their family, friends, and co-workers about this talented flight attendant?

I know that I would have. Heck, while I haven't yet come across a flight attendant such at this, I did, however, come across an airport terminal worker dancing in the Detroit airport. He was pretty good. Pity I did not have a camcorder to record his moves.

Speaking of airplane flights, awhile ago I blogged about
Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger of US Airways. You may have remembered him. He was a cool-as-a-cucumber class act behind the wheel of the the US Airways flight 1549 that went down in the Hudson River on January 15th.

Anyhow, I found this real-time animation of that fateful flight.

Even though this event happened over 2 months ago, Sully's icy calmness and heroism still never ceases to amaze me.

Gee! I could go on forever about my favorite videos. And believe me, there are tons and tons of excellent videos to be had. But I don't want to clutter this blog with an overwhelming amount of videos.

However, I will close with this delightfully ridiculous and entertaining video of the Rube Goldberg persuasion.


Now go on
Maniac World and YouTube and find some cool vidoes for yourself.

I'm Back

For all of you who have been wondering why I have been remiss in my blogging, here's the scoop:

This has been a somewhat challenging winter, healthwise. For someone who very rarely gets sick, I got sick not once, but twice, this past winter. And both times have left me bed-ridden for a good part of the week.

Last week was the worse of the two. I woke up that Monday morning with a sore throat and aching muscles. Despite my discomfort, I made myself do some housework, and actually managed to get all my tasks, except vacuuming the floors, done before noon.

However, as the day progressed, I found myself feeling more wretched.

The next day, I actually had a high fever, which is even more rare for me than getting sick. The fever persisted for 3 1/2 days.

Not getting high fevers very often, I am unaccustomed to to their effects. Common sense would tell me that having a high fever would be the perfect inducement for sleep.

It's not.

I found it frustratingly difficult to fall asleep. That, coupled with with being too wiped out to read, made for long days. It was agonizingly boring just lying in bed, watching and feeling the countless minutes inexorably roll by.

My fever, which topped off at 102.7 finally broke last Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Even though my fever broke, I was still not out of the woods, for I had several days worth of dizziness and light-headedness.

All that finally left me sometime in the middle of this week. Except for constantly coughing up gunk, I am feeling a lot better ~ so much better that I spent the good part of this morning meticulously vacuuming out the accumulated and packed dirt that's been trapped in the floor boards downstairs.

Finally, I am able to resume writing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Signs of Spring

Winter's lion was a purring kitten in less than a week after March arrived. Winter had been de-fanged and had lost its bite.

Saturday and Sunday were gorgeous days with temperatures in the high 50s to mid 60s.

Yesterday I saw the heart-stirring sight of purple crocuses in bloom by the Church of the Good Shepherd in Fairhaven. Ah! blooming flowers! A sure sign that spring is on the way!

Today I noticed the beginnings of pink in a coarse ground cover, whose name I had forgotten, that sits on top of our front embankment.

This morning started off wet and rainy, and I was reminded of the fact that March could be a rainy month. But rain was a far more welcome form of precipitation than that of snow.

But March may still have bits of winter tucked inside its bag of tricks. The lion may be sleeping now, but it came still awake at any time.

I thought of this in light of today's weather forecast with the rain supposing to turn to snow later on in the day.

And I meditated on this as I sat on the front porch this morning.

The Braeburn apple tree in front already had buds, as did many of the trees outside. Yet the trees know not to throw caution to the wind and burst open their buds in the finicky month of March.

All in good time.

I take solace in the fact that this time next month there will be more green and more color in this winter white-washed world.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Singing the Winter Blues While the Lion Roars

March arrived like a lion, and that lion roared like a sonavabitch.

Yesterday, I was up a little after 6:00 AM, and looking out the window, I saw white. And there was more white coming down.


With all that frozen precipitation, it was not a day for people to want to be up and about.

As such, my open house was a total wash out, with the only person showing up being a curious neighbor who wanted to snoop inside my house.

There was more of that white stuff outside this morning. Even though it was just 3 inches, it was a coarse and granular snow that was slightly moist. Its texture held tight and would not allow me to sink all the way down to the ground through those scant 3 inches.

For sure, I knew that this was not the type of snow where I could easily barrel out of the driveway with my car. Far from it. My car would easily get stuck within 3 feet of trying to move.

With no warm spell in sight, I had no choice but to get the driveway cleared.

I tried calling the plow guy. But his phone just rang and rang without even going into a voice mail.

In the meantime, it was already 9:00 AM, and the paper still had not arrived. And with the paper not being here, there was no sense in my staying in and doing nothing. Looked like I was going to have to go outside, right then and there, just to give myself something to do until the paper arrived.

Because it was not overly cold, as far as New England winter weather went, there was no need for me to get into my parka, and not even my down vest.

All I needed, besides what I normally wear inside, was a pair of snow boots, gloves, a polar fleece roll around my head to keep my ears warm, and another polar fleece roll around my neck to keep it warm.

Heading out, I grabbed a can of silicon spray to spray on the shovel so that snow would not stick to it. I guess I needed to wait a couple of minutes for the spray to penetrate, because when I started shoveling, the snow still stuck to the shovel.

It was slow going. While not densely-packed heavy snow, it still was not easy shoveling.

As I had predicted, the layers that I wore were enough to keep me warm. Sometimes I even felt very warm.

20 - 30 minutes into shoveling the newspaper arrived. 5 - 10 minutes later, as I was already out to the street, the garbage truck came to pick up the trash.

I chatted briefly with the garbage guy. Like everyone else, he has gotten rather weary and disgusted with all this white crap.

(Have I mentioned that "snow" is a 4-letter word?)

With half of the driveway completed, it was now time to work my way up from the street back to my car.

I was not amused with all the shoveling that I had to do, and I took little consolation in the fact that I was getting a work out. Frankly, I can think of many ways far more pleasant to get my exercise.

After the driveway was done, I set out to work on clearing out a space in front of my mailbox for George the letter carrier to be able to deliver my mail. Most people are not aware of the fact that the LLVs (long life vehicles) driven by letter carriers are horrible to drive in this kind of weather.

Once that was done, I shoveled the front steps and the front walkway.

As I predicted once more, the entire job took me 2 hours.

Now I was ready to come inside and enjoy a cup of coffee with my paper. All this time, the 2 old dogs and the little dog were comfortably ensconced inside, having distributed themselves between the couch and the blanket-lined dog crate.

While reading the paper, I felt in the mood for some green split pea soup and heavily buttered potato bread toast. Boy! That hit the spot.

Once I was done with my paper and my meal, I was thinking of heading to the laptop to do a bit of blogging. However, all of a sudden I started feeling very, very tired. In addition, I was feeling colder than ever.

Not even the little electric heater was enough to get me warmed up. I felt cold right down to the core.

At that point, I felt as though I had no choice but to go upstairs, where it was significantly warmer, in order to heat up.

The upstairs is so warm that I generally have to remove a couple of layers of clothing in order to feel comfortable. But I was so chilled to the bone that everything stayed on, including the polar fleece roll that I had around my head.

Even getting under the covers did nothing to help my body warm up. All I could feel was this uncomfortable hollow cold within my inner core. I was definitely in need of the restorative power of sleep.

And this time I did not have to feel guilty about taking a mid-day nap. I worked my butt off shoveling snow, and I earned that precious and blissful nap.

I was hoping to rest for only half an hour. But when I woke up, I noticed that 1 1/2 hours had passed. However, I was restored.

Unfortunately, the lion has not finished with its roaring. The temperature is supposed to drop into the frigid degrees.

While we're experiencing a shivering 25 degrees here right now, it is a sinfully balmy 78 degrees in Lubbock where Neil is. Not only that, the temperature is expected to go up to 84 degrees this Wednesday. Our temperature prediction for the same day is a high of 28 degrees.

That's another reason why I am anxious to get to Texas right away. The lion is well-muzzled there.