Thursday, January 28, 2010

Two down, one to go

Well, I don't have the answer to the identity of my sneak thief, the animal clever and light-weight enough to get in the trap, eat the bait, and then not set said trap off upon exiting. But I do have Sister.

Sister, a mother kitty many times over, showed back up yesterday. She brought several suitors with her, so my time frame of trapping her became narrower with each kitty purr and growl. I loaded the trap with a half-broiled pork rib, moved the trap to where I could observe from the house, and watched.

First rattle out of the box, I found Sister, who does have access to all food passed out on the patio, sitting on top of the trap. She really, really wanted that pork rib. Several suitors were encouraging her in her pursuit of it. Note it was dangling from one string and tied by another to the bottom of the trap. It wasn't going anywhere without a lot of effort. Also note that two of these suitors had already been in the trap. No doubt they were giving her (good?) advice on how to stay out of it. That would be the only good advice they'd be giving her. And so, I went to bed last night with the trap empty, but Sister close by.

This morning, I shone the flashlight in that direction and found two pairs of eyes looking back at me. One pair skittered away and one did not. Just exactly who had fallen prey to the pork rib?

There she was. Very upset with circumstances. Mad at me, even. Really out of sorts by the time she rode in the back of the pick-up to the vet's. Serendipitously, I was able to retrieve her newly-spayed daughter Stripe and leave her. What an exchange!

Now to entice Socks into my scheme. She's a clever kitty, but then, so was her mother.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A sneaky fellow

'Tis the season for female kitties to be led astray. I know this because unknown tomcats have begun to arrive on our property. I've been feeding three near-feral females, a mother and her two half-grown daughters, for several months now. I've known this time is coming when I'd have to get serious about taking them to the vet and it has arrived.

Mother cat, Sister I call her, has now disappeared. She is, no doubt, being bad (or doing what comes natural to a cat, my husband reminds me) with the neighborhood boys who have also disappeared. Of her two daughters, I can pet one and she, unsuspecting darling, let me pick her up yesterday and put her in a carrier. She is now awaiting her surgery so she can become a responsible member of the kitty community: all sleep and rodent-catching, no procreation. She will, however, probably never allow me near her again. It is a price we will both pay.

The other daughter is skittish and I will have to trap her, as I will her mother. Which bring us to the subject at hand, my latest trapping adventure.

So far, I've caught my own outdoor, neutered, sweet as they come, but not particularly bright, yellow cat. I've lost track of how many times he's wandered into my traps. One of these days, Sam may make a more fatal error and get caught in someone else's. He just needs to learn to stay on property.

Sam, though, is not the problem. The problem is whoever is going into the trap, eating the cat food, and getting out without being caught! He's done it three times! My husband thinks this is quite funny. (And so he can keep thinking until we have another batch of kittens.) Therefore, I've gone into the trapping archives and pulled out the trick which I used to catch my first raccoon: a pork rib tied top and bottom to the trap.

It's out there now. I'll let you know who the sneaky fellow is.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

I mint well

One does not pass up 70 degree January days in North Texas. So yesterday, when we had one, I pulled the tulip, crocus, daffie, and hyacinth bulbs out of the refrigerator, grabbed the shovel, and proceeded to push them into the flower beds. Last year's crop of the newly-planted had been beyond disappointing, as none of the 100 tulip bulbs appeared. As I am a creature of habit (all my veggie garden rows curved the same way year after year much to my husband's chagrin), I found myself pushing the shovel into the same areas of ground as last year. How do I know that? I found sprouting bulbs.

Maybe they were taking a year off last season. Whatever, they now have considerable company.

I ended up in the backyard yesterday afternoon, planting a few bulbs and then taking the pruners to the lantana bushes. I love lantana and lantana loves me. Too much love, as I bought the wrong thing several years ago and instead of spreading on the ground and behaving, the varieties grew about 6 feet tall and threatened to take over. I started getting my revenge, however, by cutting them off at the ground. They will be back; I'm sure of it.

This morning, although the weather was not at all as nice as it had been, I determined to finish hacking, uh, pruning the lantana, and I ventured forth once more. I was going great until I reached the herb bed. There's a huge rosemary plant and some plucky sage. Until the 13 degree nights two weeks ago, there was oregano.

And then there's the mint. Everywhere. In the grass. Under the brick edging. Some, but not nearly enough of it, frozen and brown. I started pulling and found luxuriant green growth. Mint must be a weed. It has become a very unwelcome guest and ground cover.

So, I had a thought as I was pulling and pulling and getting no where. By the patio is a patch of ground cover which should have taken over 6 or 7 years ago when it was planted. It is still anemic and lethargic. What if I transplanted some mint? Would it show itself to be its usual hardy and stubborn self, or would it, like all the ground covers I've tried, promptly turn up its little flora nose and refuse to propagate?

It's something to think about.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ground Fault Interrupted

Our hair dryer whined while it blew the other day and it was time to get another. We'd had this one 3 or 4 years. With a track record like that, I bought the same brand and wattage. This year's model was considerably cheaper than I recalled paying before and came in hot pink in support of breast cancer research. Now we can find it in the drawer with all the black things. It does everything but glow in the dark.

Among the copious paperwork which comes with any simple plug-in-and-turn-on appliance nowadays was a notice on ground fault interrupters. As in, we should have one in our bathroom in order to safely operate this new gadget. Now, we have them outside: they're covered with little metal covers or plastic boxes. But in my bathroom? Really? Who was going to pay for the electrician? The manufacturer of my new hair-styling device?

Let me think on that a minute: Probably not them. All of a sudden, a $13 purchase could go into the three figures. That would be of my money.

But that company's not the only one wanting to spend my money for me this week. On one of my loops, I've been looking for someone to accompany me 30 miles to a 5:45 in the morning TV interview for a program said loop is sponsoring. No one has raced to do that, but one member suggested I spend the night in a hotel.

Alas, she didn't include her credit card number.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chico's responds

So I sat down and composed an email about the fabric content of the Chico's jeans line and sent it merrily on its cyber-way to customer service. I promptly had an answer which thanked me for my comments.

Maybe if enough of us comment, the answer will be longer next time.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why my brown jeans fit better than my blue or black

This past summer, my favorite purveyor of clothing, Chico's, brought out a new line of jeans. Called Ultimate Fit and coming in straight leg and boot cut, they were available in an assortment of colors. I was dissatisfied with what I was wearing, bought a pair of straight leg blue denim and fell in love.

So much so that I bought a pair of black ones. And one of brown. And that's where the trouble began. The brown ones, same size and cut, felt better. I attributed it to the dye. Then I purchased what is called 'cairo', a very light brown. They are more comfortable than sweats.

Hmmm... It was time to pull out the fabric tags and sure enough, they were different. The blues and black were 99% cotton and 1% spandex. The brown was 66/33/1, cotton to polyester to spandex. And the cairo were made of 70% cotton and 30% elasterell-P. That's a fancy name for a special polyester.

Well, it works. Now to convince Chico's to put this combo of fibers in all their jeans. Just let me wear the current ones out a bit first, if I can convince myself to not live in cairo.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

All Keyed Up

For whatever reason, I looked down at my laptop keyboard the other day and realized that some serious wear was taking place. The following letters are almost gone, replaced by dark gray smudges: e, a, s. The t, r, n, and d have serious issues also. The left 'shift' key is scratched, the right one untouched because I never learned to shift with my right pinkie. The numbers look good and the F-keys are pristine, since I've never bothered to learn what they do. The F-keys, not the numbers.

I would think the delete key would be worn since it's a favorite of mine, but it's not.

I looked up the frequency of the most commonly used letters and found that Mr. Morse, in inventing his telegraph code, used this string taken from the frequency of letters in English text to make it simpler for his transcribers: etaoin shrdlu. My letters are in there. But if you used letters contained in English vocabulary, the list becomes eariot nslcud. Again, I've made the top 12, but barely.

I got lost in the Ask Oxford site. I do not recommend you click through unless you've time to spare. As to the wear on my keys, it's a good thing I'm a letter-touch typist.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010


I am not a cold-weather sort of gal. I can handle 60s and a whisper of brisk in the morning air, but I'm really fond of 75+.

So the last three days of sub-32 have not gone over well. All I can say is, at least it's dry! The drizzle from Wed night which is on our second-story north windows gives proof to the bad news of wet and cold since it is 1) still there and 2) has made lovely ice crystal patterns. Lovely to look at--now be gone!

And hope is on the way. It was a blistering 34 on the patio earlier. Maybe the cats' water bowl will defrost and they can start drinking again.

Another good note: It's post-solstice. The days are getting incrementally longer.

Now, if I can just wait until April.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Too valuable to use

While I have long subscribed to the philosophy that if I have it, I should use it, there are some things which become too precious to use. A case in point would be the first Christmas tablecloth which I began having our dinner guests sign. My mother was among the first, then my dad. Friends of ours who've long-since moved, friends of our sons. To use it isn't a worry; to wash it and slowly erode the "permanent" ink is. So it is in my hope chest.

Now, I have another item which I'm about to retire, my Australian Starbucks mug. There's a slight crack around the rim and yesterday I kept hearing popping sounds from it as my coffee cooled. I think this portends an ultimate, sooner rather than later, mug collapse. I have used this mug since it traveled home with us from Sydney in Feb 2005. For five years, it has been my faithful morning companion and no one else has sipped from it. (They wouldn't dare.) Since then, I've acquired other international mugs, some of which I've brought home, others that I've "traded" for with a friend. I have Lima, Chile, San Diego, Vancouver, London, Adelaide (second trip). Dallas, even. Some are too big for morning coffee and are in storage.

But I'm going to have to choose a new favorite. To break my purple and white mug with the koala and Sydney Harbor Bridge on it would cause me no little sadness. It has finally become too valuable to use.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

So which decade are you in?

All this hype about it being a new decade. Okay, people, let's all raise our fingers in front of our faces. Got 'em up there?

Count. Starting on the left. One, two, three... you know the drill. What's on the far right? Your little right pinkie finger is what when you're counting? That's right: ten!

That would be, the end of a ten. 2010. Next year's the end of the decade. I did hear a commentator on one of the XM Public Radio stations state that yesterday, so I know I'm not alone in this conviction. But perhaps we are just so ready to get rid of these first years of the 21st century, that we (media, you know who you are) have found a convenient way to package them up, tie them with a virtual bow, and push them back in a corner. Ah... 2010. A new decade.

Or not.

But these first years have been a difficult labor and birth process. Fetching the newspaper this morning, I looked up at our now-nonfunctioning (by choice, ours, not its) front yard light. Ten years ago, on the morning of Jan. 1, 2000, we had come in from spending the night elsewhere and found that a brick had been thrown through one of the glass panes. Happy New Year, someone had said and smashed part of our glass. We put it back together, much as we've been seeking to put ourselves back together in the wake of 9/11 and the Iran/Afghanistan miseries, terrorism on our shores and the recession. Now that I think about it, perhaps it is best to bundle it all up, declare a new decade, and march on.

But on a personal level, it's been a good decade. Both sons out of college/grad school, both married to wonderful women, two grandchildren healthy and growing. We've been privileged to travel to Australia not once, but twice! We've made new friends and learned to treasure old ones more deeply.

Happy New Year, no matter which decade you think you're in.

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