Monday, October 27, 2008

This, that, and the other or: Sam, work-in-progress, antiquing trip, and pear preserves

1. It's darn impossible to trap a raccoon when the trap is otherwise occupied. I let Sammy cat out of it twice last night before I had gone to bed and again this morning when I got up. I just can't think of any bait which will be enticing to a raccoon but not enticing to him. I have thought of setting two traps, which I have. Even Sammy cannot be in two places at one time.

2. I have a new opening post on my website. Please visit and read about my new work-in-progress.

3. I mentioned I'd been on a trip, but haven't written about it yet. A friend and I spent three days in Oklahoma near Muscogee antiquing. I'd say we did it at our leisure, but that would be a lie. There were so many antique stores and malls to see that we not only lost count of those visited, but also there was nothing leisurely about the pace we set. She goes to bed late and I go early. She'll catch a few extra winks if she can and I'm up before 6. We were in bed the second night by 10 and slept until 7:30. Who says antiquing isn't hard work?

4. And, last but not least, I've had a comment on my pear preserves blog from two years ago, asking if I ever found an exact recipe. Sorta.

Peel, slice, and weigh pears. An approximately equal poundage of sugar will be needed to cover the pears, although in my last batch, 5 pounds of sugar covered 8 pounds of prepared pears. Add 1-3 sliced lemons, cover, and let set overnight. Cook pears down until color and consistency desired. This takes hours and impatient soul that I am, I scooped liquid off so it would be faster. Spoon into jars, seal, water-bath. My 8 pounds of prepared pears yielded 8 cups of preserves.


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Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Sammy wars... or how many times should one be trapped before one gets a hint?

Yes, that's right, some kitties are not very smart. This pains me to admit, since I love cats and find myself out-foxed by them all the time. However, outdoor kitty Sam, he of the sea-green eyes and orange tabby coat, is none too bright. (For the record, I think the black and white tuxedo cats are the brains of the species, the calicos the divas.)

And why is Sammy fitting himself so nicely into my dumb-as-a-bump-on-a-log stereotype of orange tabbys? Because he's been in the trap twice more. He looks at me so pitifully as I rescue him, Friday morning and then again Friday night. He hasn't eaten the cat food bait. Not a bit. Maybe he just wanted to be near it.

But the last experience must have resonated somewhere in that little-bitty brain, because he stayed out of the trap long enough for a very large raccoon to find accommodations inside. He did eat the bait--and proceeded to tear the old margarine tub to smithereens. But he has a new home now where wild animals are supposed to be.

I can always hope Sammy is wiser for his experiences, but I'll be checking the trap an hour after I set it from now on just in case.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Just who's trapped here?

Following my last post, I set the trap to boot-scoot Mr. Raccoon out of my neighborhood and certainly off my roof. However, Sam the outside cat had different plans. I practically had to sweep him off the trap when I first set it and became so desperate for him to leave it alone that I gave him part of the bait, a can of premium cat food. I left him at bedtime on the patio chaise.

I found him at 6 Monday morning in the trap. He was waiting patiently for me to release him. This is a bad habit, Sam, I told him. Bad, bad cat.

So I glowered at him when I re-set it on Monday night. He didn't seem as inclined as before to climb right in. Soon, there wasn't room, as Mama cat, a secondary object in my trap-crosshairs, had found the cat food irresistible and put herself in. I felt bad to leave her in there all night, but I had a home for her the next morning with her kittens in a barn in the country. Needless to say, she scarcely said 'thank you' as I released her from the trap into the shelter and safety of a workshop. She shot to the back, hopefully following the trail of her kittens. Their new owner says he sees them at mealtime and they are doing well.

Having put that family back together, I'm still at odds with Mr. R. He didn't show up Tuesday night, but the cat's water was filthy this morning, so he's still moseying through. However, how can he be trapped when it's already so full?

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rumble on the roof

Thursday morning (I've been out of town, subject of the next blog) so this is just now being shared, but Thursday morning, my cat Pyewacket, he of the six-pound, no-apparent-reason, weight-loss, woke me up at 5:15. He was in the landing window, a perch he could not have obtained pre-loss, and he was growling.

I was home alone (except for the menagerie) and growling at an opened window is just never good news. I could see from his silhouette (we keep lots of night lights glowing) that he was doubled in size, his tail a huge frizz and his back in hissy-kitty formation. His brother and partner in crime was crouched on the stairs. He could not attain the window in his state of pork-ulence (thanks to friend David for this variation of corpulence) so it fell to Pye to defend the home front.

I think I knew before I propped my chin on elbows in the window what I would find. Neighbor kitties are not given to second story climbing. Squirrels are still asleep and I think this sort of disturbance beneath their dignity anyway. But it's not beneath the dignity of... you guessed it... a raccoon.

I knew we had (another) one because the outdoor cats' water bowl has been very dirty every morning. Sure enough, staring at me not two feet from the window, was the object of my next entrapment. He continued to chitter, then turned that sassy tail and sauntered off the roof, onto the pergola, and out of sight.

Let the games begin.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Free fall

Just a comment: The only thing I've seen fall faster than the stock market this week is the retail price of a gallon of gasoline. This is not a complaint, just a comment. From kissing $4/gallon around here in Aug/Sept, the price now hovers near $2.50. This is the price I saw in 2005 when we were on a trip to Houston and watched the prices on our way south so we'd know where to replenish the vehicle's tank on the way back north.

As quickly as gas prices went up this summer in the wake of the rising per barrel price and then the hurricanes, I don't believe they went up as fast as they're coming down.

Again, this is not a complaint. And may it continue, but really, it has to level out somewhere.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Waiting for the spell checker to kick in

I read--with many grimaces--the text messages sent to me by my sons. They are full of the abbreviated words common to that particular media. I shake my head over the future of the well-written (or at least correctly spelled) word. And I'm a sucker for reading that old email where one letter at a time is gradually subtracted from the alphabet and we can still read the darn thing!

So, there I was writing notes to myself, the best way for me to get anything done because I love crossing them off, and I wrote the word 'amethyst.' And then I stared at it, wondered if I'd spelled it correctly--and had to smile because I was waiting for the spell-check to kick in. I guess that would be the one in my pen?


(And, yes, that word is now red-squiggly underlined.)


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Chico's responds

Dated Oct. 4, which was a Saturday and am I ever impressed by that, a letter from Chico's Correspondent Consultant, has now arrived in my snail mail box. And it solves my problems?

Not quite.

I have been added to the "must mail" list. That's snail mail and since I did receive my September catalog, I can now eagerly await the October. The email "blasts" are random. Really? After being on their random-on list for several years, I'm now part of the random-off list just as I stop receiving catalogs, too? Doesn't sound quite right to me.

And, no, I haven't received an email since August. It would seem that if a customer is willing to have emails, then they should, no randomness about it.

The letter went on to tell me which coupon I now have available to me and if I haven't it in hand, how to get proper credit. That's good, except I haven't bought anything in a month.

I'm waiting for an email.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

An open letter to Chico's

This is my 300th post, so something of a milestone. I've not written every day but when I started this blog 25 months ago, I don't know that I considered there would eventually be a 300th entry.

And, alas, it is an entry of complaint. Real complaint, not some observation about life that doesn't suit me. A genuine consumer comment of the disgruntled kind.

I am the quintessential Chico's customer. For anyone who doesn't know, Chico's is a "boutique" clothing retailer whose demographic is women over, oh, say, 35, who have disposable income for casual jackets over $100 and tee-shirts and jeans in the $50 and up range. Their styles are comfortable, for the most part washable, and well-made. I've been a customer for over 5 years and essentially shop no where else. My closet is 95% Chico's. I belong to their Passport Club, get 5% off of all purchases and if I order online, it's delivered very quickly with no shipping fee.

So why am I complaining?

When I didn't get my August catalog, the one with the coveted, semi-annual 50% off coupon, when my emails of specials dried up, and the store register showed my account as having no coupons available as well, I called customer service. We reached an accommodation on the 50% coupon. I had emailed customer service about it as well and received an answer 3 days later, noting the phone calls. Fair enough. When my September catalog didn't come and I STILL wasn't receiving emails, I put my fingers to the keyboard and wrote a snail mail letter to headquarters. The next day I received my September catalog, but by that point in the exercise, it was irrelevant and continues to be so.

Why? I wrote that letter three weeks ago and I haven't received an answer. Unconscionable. At the very least, I expected a snail mail reply. At the most, I expected to start getting emails, perhaps as if by magic. I am in receipt of neither.

I am very disappointed with Chico's. Very. And I haven't bought a thing since.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

"Fall"in' into autumn

As the hot days of August give way to mid-September, we gradually change our habits, falling into a pattern we've developed over nearly 30 years in this house. The a/c goes off and the windows go up. But not all of them like in the spring. Six month ago it was only going to get hotter. Now, we'll more likely close a window than open a new one. First, the doors stay open in the mornings and late into the evening. Then, they don't. The ceiling fans are turned down, then off. The extra bedroom fan is stored.

Then one day, I'll wake up and not open a window. During the night, we would have arisen and closed the ones in the bedroom. The blanket will be dragged from the cedar chest. I'll wear socks, then house shoes. Both cats will beat us to bed to get warm. One day the decision will be made: the heat will have to be turned on. The smell from an unused system will fill the house and then dissipate.

It will be what passes for winter in north Texas.

And I'll be hungry for spring.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hangin' up my guessin' shoes

Enough already! Dancing with the Stars is now safe from my next day prognostication. Maybe it's because I know who so few of these "stars" are, that I can't keep up with them. Perhaps I'll get better as the season wears on.

But you'll never know, cause I'm stopping advertising it.