Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cursing Cat


to attribute or ascribe human form or behaviour to (a god,animal, object, etc)

First, let me make it clear that I can not say "Anthropomorphize" on the first try.
Seldom on the second try.
In fact, I have to see that word to be able to say it at all.

The way the letters are arranged, it wants to roll off my tongue as "Anthro PRO morphize", and not "Anthro PO morphize".
Who cares really?
I just needed to give the definition of how we tend to make our animals have human feelings and characteristics to explain their behavior.
I guess that only makes sense, seeing as how we're human and all.
It makes us think our animals understand us, and that we understand them.
Or not.
Mostly, not.

If you had been in the room when the picture above was taken, you'd have clearly heard Hobbes saying, "Who ate all the $#@* icecream!!"

He does a lot of cussing these days.
He is, after all, about 14 in human years.
A teenager.
While lacking the testosterone to back up his behavior, he is a snot.
A pillbug.
A brat.
A pain-in-the-tookus.

He picks fights with the dogs who outweigh him by 40 pounds and have infinitely larger mouths.

He bites, but doesn't draw blood, on those that wish to shower him with affection at a time he deems inappropriate.

He stalks the young lady cat from across the street. She dismisses him every. single. time.

He chases, but cannot catch the cheeky squirrels.

He does as he is asked (comes inside at dusk), but marches around the house in a snit for at least an hour afterward.
Often, the snit is accompanied by cursing.
Long, drawn-out, deep meowing to anyone within earshot--including dogs.

See, anthropomorphizing at its best.
Cats can't even talk, so how can they curse?

Anyone who has ever owned a teenaged cat, will attest to the fact that they do, indeed, curse.
"Who ate all the $#@* icecream!!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Many Faces of the Birthday Boy

Yesterday, my first born turned 20 years old.
I don't know how that's possible, since I'm only about 30.
Well, maybe I'm closer to 40.
Or 50.
Anyway, we celebrated.

We have a favorite pizza place that always ends up being the go-to place for birthdays.
Afterwards, we came home to eat the amazing homemade, triple layer German chocolate cake. James and Grandma created it with love, as they always do.

It also happens that Tom bought his first car last weekend. A '99 Ford Taurus.
It's a long way from his dream car, but "dream car" and "first car" seldom come at the same time in life.
It's in amazingly good shape mechanically and physically for its age.

He asked for money for a gift this year and that's exactly what he got.
Turns out buying your own car, tax/title/license, and a few other must-haves (jumper cables, extra oil for the slight oil leak, a tire gauge, etc.) can put drain on the bank account.

Happy Birthday, Tom!
I hope it was a good one for you!
I can't believe that it's been 20 years, but time flies when you're having fun.

Friday, January 20, 2012

By The Hundreds

This is a map of American Robin sightings on Christmas day.
I didn't participate in this study, but I could have.
I haven't thought about Robins much since I moved from Missouri to Texas.

We don't see very many Robins in central Texas.
Even in the winter when our temperatures are more....temperate.
Robins are invertebrate (bugs, larvae and worms) and fruit/berry eaters.
We may see one or two as the winter progresses, but never more than that.

This year, something has changed.
We see hundreds of Robins every single day.
They fly over in large flocks.
They stop in large flocks.
My pasture is littered with red-breasted birds, hopping, eating, and calling.
But why?
Why this year and never before?
I've lived in central Texas for 23 years and never seen anything like it.

Could it be our unseasonably warm temperatures?
It makes sense, but research tells me otherwise.
It seems that most migratory birds aren't necessarily trying to escape cold temperatures, they are trying to find food.
That's why you'll find Robins in Central Park in January.
They can stand the cold, they just have to be able to find food.

But we've always had food.
Despite our horrid summer, many of the bushes/trees in our area put on berries. My pyracantha and hollys are full of berries.
Normally, the Cedar Waxwings will come through and strip a bush in a day or so.
That can't be it.

I'm thinking it's the bugs.
The Robins have spent their time in my pasture and not my berried bushes.
We've gotten a few inches of rain in the last 2 months and had crazy warm temperatures.
Those two things rarely happen at the same time during our winters (rain and warm).
The bugs seem to think it's springtime.

In fact, most every plant and animal is confused.
The bluebirds are checking out the bluebird house.
The chickens are laying again.
A few trees have started to bud.
There are more than my fair share of flies in the house.
The grass is beginning to green up a bit.

Unfortunately, one hard cold front and all those things will change.
I always feel so sorry for the animals.
It must be so confusing.

Folks always talk about the weather.
Always have.
Around here, folks are wondering if our incredibly warm winter is a precursor to another summer of triple digit temperatures.

In any case, I've enjoyed seeing a bird I loved as a child.
I'd forgotten how sassy and funny they can be.
At least this weather is benefiting the birds.
For now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Unaware We Were Playing a Game

Do you see anything?

How about now?

I'm sure you do now.

Eggs. Chicken eggs.

Twenty-two chicken eggs.
Twenty-two old chicken eggs.

Evidently, sometime last summer, my hens started a game of hide-and-go-seek.
They failed to tell me.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Don't Hate All Men

Just this one.
Well, it's not really a man, but it is the male of its species.
This is the male Ash Juniper aka Mountain Cedar.

Here is his female counterpart.
She is lovely and evergreen and provides berries for wildlife. Especially migratory fruit-eating birds.
She provides erosion control and nesting sites and nesting materials.
She provides shade where other trees cannot survive.
Her only enemies are fire, chainsaws and bulldozers.

But can't the male tree do all those things too?

Yes, he can, but he also does one extra thing that I hate.
One extra thing that thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of people hate as well.

He pollinates.
He pollinates in a big way.

Central Texas is home to millions and millions of these trees. They grow up to 30 feet tall.
Every winter, usually just after Christmas, he and his fellow trees begin their quest to pollinate as many female trees as possible.
They do it with gusto.
Overkill is another word that comes to mind.

Two days ago, the pollen count was 5629gr/m3/High
What does that mean?
It means that 5,629 grains of pollen were counted in a cubic meter of air. That count is considered "High"

The thing is, they're only getting started.
The picture at the top is of a tree on my neighbor's property. The things that look like teeny, tiny pine cones are pollen that haven't "popped" yet.

But why all the fuss? Why do I hate this tree?

Because it makes me miserable in a very big way.
It makes nearly half of everyone it encounters, miserable.

Around here, it's called "Cedar Fever".
Itchy, runny, swollen eyes.
Respiratory problems.
Sneezing fits, followed closely by a plugged up nasal system.
The inside of my nose feels just as I would imagine it would feel if I snorted Tabasco sauce.
The outside of my nose becomes raw, despite my using those tissues that are infused with lotion.
I get sinus headaches bad enough to send me to bed.
I have to breathe with my mouth open, because my nose doesn't work.
I end up with a dry mouth and dog breath from doing all that mouth breathing.
I get achy, and whiney, and grouchy.

It's an allergic reaction that Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra won't touch.
Benedryl works, but taking a nap while driving your kids home from school is frowned up by most folks.

Central Texas becomes a town of zombie-like humans. Mouths agape, noses running, swollen eyes and brain fogged. Everyone is running on low sleep, too much OTC medication and lack of oxygen.

It is the price we all pay for living here.
Luckily for all of us, the pollen is often done with its lovemaking by mid-February.
Just in time for Valentine's day, when we begin our own lovemaking.

Until then, we suffer.
If you have business with someone from Central Texas this time of year, and they seem a little off, blame it on the Cedar.
Specifically, the male Cedar trees.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Office Assistant Misunderstands Signage

Did you ever have one of those horrifying moments when you realize you had walked into the wrong bathroom?

Men into Ladies room or Ladies into the Mens room?

Often, restaurants will try to follow a theme and end up making your choice of bathrooms confusing.

Inboard and Outboard motors.--this assumes you even know what those motors look like in the first place. Then there's the biology lesson.

The signs for male and female.--goodness knows, I can't remember which is which.

The name in another language.--I know Spanish and that's it. Any other language and I'm left wondering.

Hippies with braids and Hippies without braids.--I've seen men and women wearing braids in Austin. This sign is no help at all.

What all those signs do is cause me to have to stop and think.
Not what I want to do when I'm searching for a bathroom.

One restaurant (Macaroni Grill) even goes so far as to confuse me when I am washing my hands and ready to leave. They have the opposite sex label on the inside of the door. In the ladies room, the back of the door has "Mens room" on it. I suppose it's possible that they print it that way so they can hang the doors as they please, depending on how the restaurant is set up. Mostly, it just makes me question their concept of humor.
I'm sure there must be a camera pointed just at the door to take pictures of people's reaction and them looking around wildly to be sure they are in the correct bathroom.

Misunderstanding signs is not only for the human population.
Take my office assistant, Hobbes here.

He is clearly laying on a bed marked with a pawprint for "Dogs".

He's even pointing to it. He seems not to care that he is in a bed made for dogs.

In fact, it may be that he purposefully laid down and took a nap, despite the signage to the contrary.
You see in Hobbes world, all thing belong to him. The rest of us only get to borrow the things that belong to him. Hobbes clearly knows the difference between cat and dog prints, but I began to wonder.
I looked it up, in case I'm ever at a restaurant that has paw prints on the bathroom doors.
(because everyone knows that all cats are "she" and all dogs are "he", or not)

Tutorial for those bathroom signage challenged like myself:

Dog print has one hump at the top of the main pad and two at bottom.

Cat print has two humps at the top of the main pad and three at the bottom.

Both animals have four toes.

So now you know and so do I.
Good luck with themed bathroom signs.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Kitchen Toys

I didn't post much over the holidays for a number of reasons.
However, I do want to show off some new kitchen toys that I got before Thanksgiving.
I try very hard to stick to the "No Unitaskers" rule when buying myself things for the kitchen. What normally happens when I've given in to my urge to buy a unitasker, is that I use it once or twice and then it just takes up valuable room in my cabinets.

I broke that rule, but I think it will be okay.

Lee and I were getting ideas for Christmas presents after seeing a movie at the mall.
When we're at the mall, he's sweet enough to wander Wm. Sonoma with me as I "ooo and ahh" over beautiful knives and shiny espresso machines and seasonal plates with matching aprons, soap, and dishtowels.
William Sonoma is just chock-full of unitaskers.
Microplanes for grinding nutmeg.
Avocado cutter/scoopers.
Apple corer/peeler/slicers.
Garlic holders.
Onion holders.
It would take all day to list them.

Piecrust Cutters
This is what I bought.
Well, not exactly this, but the same idea.
Tiny pastry cutters.
Mine are "Fall Themed Pie Crust Cutters".
A leaf, a turkey, an acorn and a pumpkin.
I love making pie. My family loves pie. I love that my family loves pie.

These tiny unitaskers will be used multiple times. I have renamed them Mulitaskers so Alton Brown and I can rest easy knowing they aren't wasting space in my kitchen.
I may even buy more of them this spring.
Maybe they'll have a duckling, bunny, flower, easter egg set?

Mr. Turkey fell in the apple pie, but he sure was pretty.

Apple pie with turkey and acorns.

Pumpkin pie with (what else?) pumpkins and leaves.

Cherry pie with leaves.

They didn't make the pie taste better, but they sure made them a little prettier and I had fun with my new kitchen toys.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Higher Math

Molting has stopped.
Feathers are in.
The Winter solstice has passed.
The days are getting infinitesimally longer.
The "I Laid an Egg" song is being sung.
It was sung FOUR times in one day on January 3rd!

The other hens decided if an old hen like Penny can lay eggs, so can they.
Long live the yard egg!
Out with the grocery store egg!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Love a Good Puzzle

Yesterday, I tackled the herculean task of unChristmasing (I just know that's a word) the house.
It was too herculean!
The dang tree is 8 feet tall!
It's a beautiful fake tree, that needs to be unFluffed (another real word) and the tiers unConnected (probably not a word) from each other and put back in the giant box.
Herculean task, I'm positive now.

Plus, there was the peripheral decorations that had to be stored away until next year.
Getting it all assembled in one area to be repacked is the easy part.
Getting it to all fit in 3 bins-- THAT is the puzzle that must be solved each and every year.

I suppose I could take pictures of each layer in each bin as we are getting it out every Thanksgiving, but that would be too easy.
Where's the fun in that?

Getting a big box, perfectly packed with smaller boxes is a triumph.
It makes a person (me) stand back with hands on hips and a big smile on my face. "Well done", I say to myself.
It also makes a person (me) stand on the ladder I used to take down the tree and take pictures of aforementioned boxes.

It always feels so cruel to unChristmas the house, so I wait until the children have gone back to school.
That way, it's not all up in their face that,
"It's over! Your vacation is over! You are going back to school soon!"

I remember from my own childhood how horrible I felt when two events happened each year:

1. The appearance of "Back to School" commercials as soon as the last firecracker popped on 4th of July.


2. The appearance of "Lose those Holiday Pounds for Swimsuit Season" commercials as soon as the last package was opened on Christmas day.

I want my kids to have being on vacation and Christmas to last as long as possible.
So, for them, I wait until they've gone back to school.

Guess that means I have to get to work on losing those holiday pounds for swimsuit season.