Dainty (8/30)

April 10, 2018

poetry 8-30 D-dainty

the cat comes in

on little snow feet

she makes her rounds

the day to greet

she moves around

without a sound

the air is sweet

with the smell of snow

she pauses now—

where next to go?

 

 

cat coasts (7/30)

April 8, 2018

 

curled tail wards off fiends

look at the tip twitching now

what’s that over there

 

something is nearing

the mysterious unknown

staring intently

 

sit and wait a bit

scamper away in a flash

stop and wait some more

 

a skeptical glance

nose doesn’t leave warmth of tail

older and wiser

 

 

untitled cat poem

April 4, 2018

poetry 1-30 cats.PNG

My girl says mrrrr

just because I look at her.

She’s my Little Ducky.

I feel so lucky.

 

My girl says mrow

when she wants attention now.

She’s my Jammy-Cat,

the boss, and that is that.

 

My girl is quiet

and she doesn’t deny it.

She’s my Squeaky,

just keeping it low-key with me.

 

 

My cat picked out my sushi

August 21, 2014

Mackerel and sea bream cat food

Last Sunday, the Open Streets folks did one near my neighborhood. Open Streets is when a stretch of a road is closed to cars for a day and non-motorized folks get to go nuts on it. I’d been aware of previous events but hadn’t made it to one, so I was excited that I’d have to put forth minimum effort to attend this one.

But to be perfectly honest, the day was one of extreme relative humidity—something gross, like, the dew point was 69F and the air temperature was 71F (21C/22C). I had texted my bikey friend, Jon, at noon to inquire whether he would be toodling over, then stuck my big toe out the front door and immediately decided I wasn’t going out in that, and settled in to watch some Grand Hotel.* After the second episode I decided I at least needed to take a shower because, even inside in air conditioning, I was feeling sticky and yucky. I stood up, checked my phone, and realized that Jon had replied in the affirmative almost right away. I texted him, thinking I’d be lucky if he was still out. I was very lucky because not only was he still out but he was at my end of the two mile stretch of the open street.

Well, fine. I hated the thought of going out in that weather, yet knew I’d regret it if I didn’t finally check out such a convenient Open Streets, and knew I’d appreciate a shower more after I returned home. I met him in the beer garden in the parking lot of my local liquor store.

Dear Open Streets,
I ride my bike back and forth to work every day across two vectors of downtown, Victor. I thought suburban SUV-driving commuters who can’t think outside the car were the bane of my existence. Not so. In that one tiny ride during your event, one-half mile to a neighborhood business I often bike to anyway, I realized that, really, pedestrianing parents with cherubic children are far, far worse. No cars on the street? No motors to listen for to give us audio cues as to how to behave in common space? No problem. No trajectory is too weavy for us to wobble along. I’m riding a bicycle? I might as well be a semi-truck hurtling toward your Croc-shod toddler. You sneer in my general direction.

Ugh.

Beer and band gardenIn hindsight I’m very glad that, when I found Jon and said that I wouldn’t mind riding to the other end and back, he informed me that he had already done so twice and was just going to order another beer. Here’s to neighborhood brewery Harriet Brewing’s Woden Weizen!

Being the humid, unsettled weather it was, the sky soon unleashed another round of showers. Jon and I gamely stood in the rain because, let’s face it, neither of us is fancy, and it felt good. Unlike previous showers that day, though, this one lasted for more than three-and-a-half minutes. It wasn’t bad for us spectators but unfortunately for the band that was playing, the tent-shelter that was protecting them decided to let loose into the keyboard its load of water. That put a damper on the vibe.

But I digress.

I quipped to Jon that I’d still be willing to ride to the other end but he came up with a far better idea. I’m finally getting to the sushi portion of the story.

Across from the liquor store is a fairly new Thai restaurant which also has a sushi bar. It’s really like two restaurants in one. Jon said, nah, let’s just go to Sober Fish and engage in their happy hour. Okay, twist my arm, Croc-shod toddlers!

Lagunitas IPA and Sober Fish shot glassI was glad when he suggested ordering sushi items rather than Thai noodle stuff (which I do like but I was more in the mood for sushi). I was also glad when I saw Lagunitas IPA on the fairly short beer list. Lagunitas IPA goes well with raw fish things. Then I was horrified when he seemed eager to also order the house shot which consisted of cucumber vodka, ginger something, and something else. In the old days I did enjoy my vodka tonic, and in these new days I mix my Pimm’s with cucumber soda (during the two weeks of Wimbledon). Then I saw that you got to keep the shot glass.** I wasn’t too hard a sell on that, then, either.

The drinks were the easy part. It turned out that I like rolls and Jon likes sashimi. Also, we had never collaborated on a food order before so there was that awkwardness, “what do you like?” “Oh, no, what do YOU like?” I’m finally getting to the cat part of the story.

Jon made a hard sell for mackerel sashimi. I countered with advocating for spicy tuna roll. I like that a lot, and when I eat at a new sushi place it’s sort of my benchmark. Not too sophisticated in the big scheme of things but there you go. We decided we’d order both forms.

There were many sashimi choices. Tuna is my favorite raw fish in general, but I’ll always try anything once. Not that mackerel is so exotic. It’s not. Then I comprehended some of the other choices on the sashimi list and formed my opinion as to what else we should select.

As I said, Jon was a big fan of mackerel. I saw that sea bream was also on the list. So I said yes to the mackerel and suggested the sea bream as well.

Why? This is why.

A while ago I decided to bite the bullet on cost and serve my lovely cats wet food because it’s significantly better for their health than dry food. I like to get them the tuna-based kinds, and the tuna almost always includes some other seafood as an accent. The canned food ain’t cheap so I’ve been determining the best balance between ingredients and cost. Along the way I added a third cat, thereby half-againing the cat food budget, so I could no longer afford to buy the tiny cans of best-quality, tuna-based food and instead have had to figure out what’s next best.

I’ve settled on a couple of brands, one of which is pictured above. The store carries four varieties—shrimp (30¢ more per can), sardine, mackerel, and sea bream. Sea-what? Never heard of it.

Empty platesWe ordered my spicy tuna roll and also a caterpillar roll because Jon likes eel, and I like that sweet sauce that usually accompanies it. For sashimi we ordered the mackerel and, as our second sashimi selection at my behest, the sea bream. Do you see where I’m going with this?

My decision-making process: if it’s good enough for the cats, it’s good enough for me. Let’s go for it!

The mackerel was salty and firm and reminded me of smoked salmon or smoked trout. The sea bream was at the opposite end of the spectrum—tender, mild, and nutty. Jon hadn’t had it either and seemed pleasantly surprised by it.

I am embarrassed to admit that it was Jon and not I who said/thought, “This would make a good blog entry.” By that time, the sea bream and mackerel were long gone and we were down to one gyoza.

 

* If, by chance, you start watching Grand Hotel based on this brief mention, stick with it long enough to realize that Inspector Ayala reminds you exactly and completely of Hercule Poirot, which won’t actually take you that long. You will be richly rewarded in episode 23.

** Until that Sober Fish outing, I didn’t actually possess a shot glass. What I do have is a set of four antique aperitif, shot-sized glasses. But they’re delicate, textured glass. They were my grandparents’, and I’m always terrified that it will take only one gentle yet errant tap on the side of the Mason jar into which I mix my Wimbledon Pimm’s to shatter it to pieces. It was an easy sell to convince me order a shot that would resulting my owning a chunky, heavy-duty, actual shot glass. I guess the shot was okay. It was not much like cucumber or ginger, very sweet, and Ecto-Cooler green. One could get into trouble with them …

So long, Robbin Rabbit

November 9, 2013

Robbin was less than a year old, but this is still the best photo ever.

Robbin was less than a year old, but this is still the best photo ever. Quintessential Robbin—friendly, curious, outgoing.

Robbin Rabbit exceeded all expectations. I’ve had rabbits with bigger personalities, but no one was king of the house like Robbin. This is his story.

Perhaps you wonder about his name. There used to be this place, the Robbinsdale Farm & Garden. It’s where I had been going to purchase my fifty-pound bags of Purina Rabbit Chow and I knew they sold animals. I was in the market for a new bun.* I chose the adorable little squirt with great grey splodges on white with a faintly orange stripe down his spine. In the car on the way home I wracked my brain about what to call him. I wasn’t feeling too creative, apparently, because Robbin after Robbinsdale is what I came up with.

Robbin's ears would wilt in the heat during his first summer.
Robbin’s ears would wilt in the heat during his first summer.
Yul, Dhia, and Robbin
Yul, Dhia, and Robbin
Dhia naps on Robbin
This photo made it onto cuteoverload.com 
Dhia naps on Robbin
Contentment

I had two cats, Dhia and Yul, and the three of them fell in together pretty quickly. Both cats had lived since kittenhood with my previous rabbits so having a hoppity brother was nothing untoward. They welcomed him into the family.

The rabbit cage had a front door. When I was around to supervise, my bun could come and go as he or she pleased and have the run of the place, all the while being able to return to the cage for refreshments or bathroom breaks. Every rabbit was reliable, and once he or she discovered the location of the cats’ litterbox were very good about using it as well. However, I never felt like I could completely let down my guard because they were, after all, chewing machines.

The family that poops together…
The family that poops together…

That changed with Robbin. He had impeccable toilet habits and, strangely enough for a rabbit, seemed to have no interest in chewing on anything except cardboard. As a good rabbit mom, I always provided hay but Robbin couldn’t be bothered. I always joked that he would rather starve than eat hay (and he would—I tested him a couple times) or that he’d rather eat cardboard than eat hay. That was borne out by the evidence.

I grew bolder and bolder with leaving him out overnight while I was sleeping (no problem), with leaving him out during the day while I was at work (no problem), with leaving him out all the time (few problems). He had earned it. He was a free-range rabbit!

bunny date
I took Robbin to the Humane Society where he chose Bibi.
Robbin and Bibi
Hanging out
Robbin and Bibi
Matching buns

I had learned that rabbits are social creatures within their own rabbitdom and so I took Robbin on some bunny dates. He picked out Bibi and they quickly became best friends. Dhia and Yul welcomed Bibi and it was one big, happy, furry family. It didn’t take long before Bibi, too, earned her free-range stripes. But the joy was not to last.

The happiest family
The happiest family. Believe it or not, they lined up like this all on their own! Best photo ever! Dhia, Yul, Robbin, Bibi.

We said goodbye first to Yul and then to Dhia. Soon, CJ Cat came into our lives. She is a sweetheart but she was already about two years old. She hadn’t had the advantage of growing up with a rabbit like the other cats had. She just didn’t know what to do about Robbin and Bibi.

CJ would nip their ears or swat their tails, tactics cats use successfully to provoke each other into playing. As a prey animal, Robbin would become very defensive and chase CJ, comically so. They’d run back and forth until finally the rabbit treed the cat on the bed or the windowsill or any place where the rabbit wouldn’t immediately go. He was very protective of Bibi, too.

Dasie and CJ were never sure what to make of the rabbits.
Dasie and CJ were never sure what to make of the rabbits.

So Dasie the cat was added to our family for CJ’s benefit. Dasie a friendly goofball who also had no idea what to make of rabbits. After being chased around enough times both cats developed the technique of giving Robbin, and to a lesser extent Bibi, a very wide berth when they needed to pass by.

Unfortunately, Bibi was soon departed. Her malady was gut stasis, a common ailment of rabbits, but I still wonder if it wasn’t brought on by the stress of dealing with two new, semi-hostile cats. She came from a multi-species household when I adopted her, so I’m probably making that up, and yet the timing was so coincidental. Robbin reverted to being an only rabbit.

Robbin the mountain goat
Robbin the mountain goat
Is it suppertime yet?
Is it suppertime yet?

Robbin was a very athletic rabbit as opposed to Bibi, who was an utter landlubber. There was no bed or sofa that was too tall for him. It warmed the cockles of my heart to walk in the door after a tough day at work to find him folded up on the end of the couch in the front room. When we moved to my current place, all the stacked boxes waiting to be unpacked provided a nice climbing range for my mountain goat rabbit. Sometimes I believed that he thought he was a cat. He had, after all, grown up with two. He loved jumping up onto things, including the tin in which I kept his food, a not-so-subtle hint that I should feed him now.

Robbin camps out on my dad's bed
Robbin camps out on my dad’s bed
Getting a banana fix from his dealer
Getting a banana fix from his dealer
relaxing in the sheepskin basket
Relaxing in the sheepskin basket 

Robbin also always enjoyed my parents’ visits. Not only would he follow my mom around because she was his banana dealer, but he also would spend most of the day lounging on the poofy surface provided by my dad’s improvised bed of my big sleeping bag laid out on a futon. Robbin did enjoy luxury. While we had it, he could often be found in the sheepskin cat bed that I had put in a wicker basket.

A few years ago, Robbin had a health incident which I think was a seizure of some sort, and one hind side was temporarily weakened as a result. He seemed to recover fully but in the last months it was his back end that failed, particularly on the side that had been affected by whatever that episode had been all about. As he aged his flexibility declined, which inhibited his ability to do everyday rabbity necessities, and his quality of life gradually diminished.

Finally I could no longer deny that it was time to say good-bye. February 2003–October 2013.

Robbin, CJ, and Dasie
Robbin, CJ, and Dasie, the uneasy detente. Note the ear that remains cocked toward the cats.

*Disclaimer: Don’t worry, I long ago learned about [insert cute baby animal] mills. Robbin was my last pet not acquired from a rescue/foster organization.

Cj_kylie

There are a number of reasons why I’m a bit manic right now, but what it probably mainly comes down to is that this afternoon I finished a phase of a work project and that was a big relief. But there are other reasons why I’m a little goofy tonight and I am not necessarily listing them in chronological order.

Charitable giving. Today, as promised to him, I donated to my friend Todd’s Movember men’s health fundraising campaign. If you’re reading this during November 2012, consider making a donation on behalf of Todd, or his team, or somebody else you know.

This evening, when I was feeling a gush of gratitude toward my local PBS station for re-airing (at least two episodes of) “Foyle’s War,” I finally signed up to be a sustaining member. And the same sentiment toward Minnesota Public Radio. I was particularly thankful for the (political) commercial-free news coverage in the forty-eight hours prior to the recent presidential election when I just couldn’t bear to turn on a television network (well, other than Al Jazeera English, which I have to watch online because Shitcast doesn’t carry it).

A couple of months ago I had a similar burst of generosity when I donated to the recovery fund of a group of co-habitating musicians who my Boston friend knows whose house went up in flames, as well as a micro-loan thing that my Nashville friend frequently contributes to, which allowed me to guilt-freely frivolously donate to The Oatmeal’s Wyndenhall/Tesla museum endeavor. I helped build a goddamn Tesla museum!

Guest blogging and beer. This morning, my first writing tiny project outside of work became public. And not only that, it was about beer. Not only was it about beer, but somebody other than I wanted me to write it! Concurrently, another friend chose me to guest-post on her wildly popular blog next week, and she said she wouldn’t mind if I wrote about beer there, too. I don’t know if I will, but I might.

Speaking of beer. I recently resumed working out and had good one tonight. Afterwards I dashed home, then dashed to my neighborhood awesome liquor store, Zipp’s Liquors, where aforementioned mustache Todd was dispensing samples of his Odell Brewing Company’s awesome beers. I mostly only intended to get Surly Abrasive (came out yesterday) and Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale but I ended up high a bottle of the Odell Woodcut No. 6, too. They are all beers of annual limited availability. And delicious.

Signing up for things. A couple of months ago I initiated my Hulu Plus subscription. Tonight I did the same at Netflix. Why did that take me so long? The first weirdo (non-American) TV series I searched for (“Spooks”) it had, and six of the resulting ten recommendations it foisted on me were series I already know that I like or love. Huzzah, $8 per month!

This might be the final straw on my want-to-ditch-Shitcast-TV camel’s back.

Cats where they do not belong. At first it was cute when my cat Dasie occasionally jumped up on the cabinet smack in front of the TV screen. She’d sit there for a minute or two then move around to the back where she’d curl up and snooze in the warmth of the heat sink.

About half the time these days, I have to guess what’s going on in the middle of the picture, you know, where all the action is happening, because my other cat CJ has become an ardent fan as well. From cricket to Kylie, they are both enamored of the boob tube (the head LED?). CJ spends more time blocking, and Dasie spends more time stabbing at what’s moving. Fortunately, there have been no expensive electronic topplings-over yet. It has become plenty annoying, but I’d also have a hard time saying that it isn’t still darned endearing.*

Exercise. I recently started working out again. I was very diligent for about a year and a half when I could easily drop in on my way home from work, but not only did that location close but so did the one I transferred to, which was less convenient to get to anyway. It’s been about two years since I went even sporadically, but I finally signed up with a new place which now, again, I can easily stop at on my way home from work. It’s a different brand and I’m not getting as good a workout, but a less good workout is better than no workout. Tonight I had a less bad workout and it felt good!

I’ve had worse days.

Dasie_cricket

 

*For those who don’t know them, that’s CJ at the top with Kylie on Dancing with the Stars/Strictly Come Dancing, and Dasie sat the bottom with last months Champions League Twenty20 playoffs.

My family crest

October 19, 2011

Familycrest-sm_tweak

A couple of weeks ago we were challenged to draw a family crest for ourselves. I scribbled mine out during brief interludes in the relatively autopilot production project I had going at work. Usually I like to hand-draw (as much as you can call what I do “drawing”) with my navy Sharpie, but I don’t have one right now. Nor do I have my other favorite color, the brickish-maroon (I’m sure I’ve horrified some Sharpie executive with that description). I used a lowly graphite mechanical pencil for the initial line drawing which turned out to be a good thing, in this case, because then I could get it right (as right as what I call “drawing” can be). Usually I like to do free and easy gesture drawings on which I don’t waste too much brain power, but a little more care was called for in this case. I had intended to color it with the bazillion colored pencils we have at the office, but they seem to have disappeared in the last clear-out, so I was left with fabric paint markers or crayons. Crude crayons it was!

It will come as no surprise what I included.

Animals. Crests often have some beast of valor. I used beasts of favor, the rabbit that has become my symbol, and the closest I could come to a cat in the same style. Interesting side note, I only ever draw the rabbit facing to the left, so it was utterly awkward to draw the cat the other way.

Activities. You will often find a weapon on a crest. I included my weapons of choice for the zombie apocalypse, a bowling ball and bowling pins. Oh wait, no zombies? Bowling is the quest upon which I embark twice weekly. Still appropriate for a crest. The pins give the animals a platform for sitting.

Foliage. What crest would be complete with some kind of viney, leafy thing sinewing its way around? You guessed it. I gave my crest a few hop vine leaves and hop flower cones, representative of the beverage that keeps me going strong, beer, in particular, hoppy ales.

Shield. The above elements will be arranged around a central anchor, usually some kind of shield shape. I decided to use a beer bottle, upon which the cat and rabbit can lovingly gaze. I took poetic license with perspective and had the thumb hole of the bowling ball double as the opening in the bottle.

Banner. Well, isn’t there always some wavy thing containing the family name? This is my least favorite part at the moment. It’s like a big old cummerbund around the bowling ball’s beer belly. And it’s my username not my real last name. But it serves its purpose.

I am mostly so pleased by how it turned out, and I fully intend to create a more refined version on the computer. Then I can adjust some of the things that bother me. 

It was a very fun little project. I challenge you to make your own family crest. If you do, post a link to it in the comments!

 

October 3, 2011