Where Do Cats Sleep?

“Where do cats sleep?” — the obvious answer is: “Anywhere they want to.”  The following is a photographic elaboration on the term “anywhere.”   (Apology:  This is a really photograph*-heavy post and will probably take forever to load — but well worth the wait, I think.

(N.B., this is Claire, a literary cat, who keeps Charles de Lint on track.)

* I only know the source of only one of these photographs.  If one of them is your photograph, please contact me and I’ll credit you.

I’ve Made The Switch

Thursday night, I had dinner at my folks with old family friends, a lady and her two daughters.  The oldest daughter is older than I am, the younger is only a year or two younger than I am.  We have known each other since all of us were young children, and have taken memorable family vacations together, sometimes with just their family, sometimes with a third family.  Their mother has heart problems, congestive heart failure the most serious of them, uses a walker and is on continuous oxygen.  Conversation was punctuated by the soft pffft! of the oxygen bottle as it delivered its precious contents.  The older daughter has two sons, and grandchildren.  The younger one, who lives in another state, had three daughters, one of which was tragically killed in a car crash years ago.  She also has grandchildren.  We spent a delightful evening seeing pictures and finding out who was doing what where.

After they left, I help mom with the washing up, and she made me a “care package” — my share of the leftovers (especially some of the chocolate cake!)–we’d had chicken spaghetti, a casserole recipe my mom got from her oldest sister.  I’ve got the recipe somewhere, I think.  If not I’ll get my mom to email it and I’ll post it.  She makes them two at a time and freezes them.  We also had green beans — known in the family as “geen beans” which is what I called them as a child.  As I was gathering up my things to leave, it occurred to me that I hadn’t brought my cellphone with me. (Just as well, as it happens.  It badly needed to be recharged.)  I actually felt a little flash of fear at the thought of being out without it — understandable when I’m driving a 25-year-old car home at 10 o’clock at night.

When I unlocked the door and walked inside, the house was noticeably warmer than outside.  Downright hot, in fact.  I got the little MagLight flashlight out of my night stand drawer* so I could read the LED on the thermostat — tricky even in the daytime because of where it’s located with regard to light sources.  It read 79F/26C! — Right then, I changed the thermostat over from “heat” to “cold.”  So on 03/29/2012, my house finally got warm enough to officially change over from heating to cooling.  No more using the clothes dryer from now on until I have to switch back to “heat.”  The rest of the ceiling fans get turned on, and they all get put on “medium” speed.  Hot weather has officially started.   The predicted high for today and tomorrow is 92F/33C.

I think I’ll wait until Monday to get out in the yard.  A cold front is evidently coming through then as the high is only supposed to be around 70F/21C, and there’s a “thundershower” icon for Tuesday — (I’ll believe that when I see it!)  Sunday night, I’ll have to deep water that back bed in preparation for planting my Siberian irises.  I’ll put up the hose hanger, and then deep water the other two beds Monday night after I’ve mulched the front bed.  Hopefully the two bags of mulch that are still in the trunk/boot of my car will be enough.  I’ll need to change out the yard lights, too, salvage the ones that are salvageable and put new rechargeable batteries in them.  Monday.   Once I see how far a bag of mulch goes, I may end up mulching that back bed, too.

* I keep MagLight flashlights in every room in the house — little ones in my office, the living room, and in the drawer of my nightstand, a bigger MagLight in the kitchen — to keep the groping about in a pitch-dark house during a power outage to the bare minimum. I also have one on my key ring, which does come in handy.  I think I’ve had that particular one for probably 15 years (I have had to  replace the bulb two or three times).  There are other brands out there besides MagLight, but I keep going back to them not just because they’re made in America, but because they’ve consistently been rugged and dependable.

Oh, Me of Little Faith

The little yellow irises are about bloomed out.  Still, I am heartened to see them, and the pretty yellow jasmine blooming.  I bought two bags of mulch, a new 25-foot garden hose to replace the hose in the front yard that is defunct, and a hose hanger thingie for one of the back yard hoses that has to be attached to the wall of the house.  Since the house is brick, I’ll  have to google around a bit and find out how to do that correctly.

I also got three packages of “Siberian Iriscorms (9 corms in all) which I need to plant in the bed along the back fence.  According to Wikipedia, the “Siberian iris” is a native plant, and is the plant all the hybrid irises are based upon.  I’m not really familiar with this particular form of iris, as all I have ever dealt with are the bearded irises.  Per Wikipedia, Siberian irises are “beardless.”  The “iris” genus is a big one, however, and these are two of many species.

I need to get off my duff and do some work in the yard.  I’ve been caught up in rereading C. J. Cherryh’s book Cyteen which won the Hugo Award in 1989 for best novel, and its sequel, Regenesis, which didn’t come out until 2009.  Both are real page turners.

The Oreck air purifier that I got on Amazon came today.  I’m going to set it up in my bedroom, and if it helps, I’ll get another one for my office.  Anything that will help relieve my allergies is money well spent.

The boxwoods in the front yard are taking off and definitely need some TLC The honey locust tree in duplex A’s front yard is leafing out now.  It is infested with mistletoe, a clump of which you can see on the lowest branch, and has been pruned repeatedly in an attempt to get rid of it.  Thankfully, the mistletoe has not spread to the neighbor’s Siberian elm, but quite frankly, I wish it would get into that [expletive deleted] “Tree of Heaven” [sic] that belongs to the neighbor on the other side, and I wouldn’t be too upset if it got into the wad of paper mulberry trees that are slowly but surely strangling the Siberian elm, both of which are very invasive species.

The Siberian elm is seeding now, which makes this the “oatmeal season.”

Photo © ASU Fruit & Seed Collection

But the best news is in the front flower bed (above):  My Chickasaw Sue” cultivar, one of my bearded irises in the front flower bed, is in bud!  Oh, me of little faith.  My irises are blooming this year after all.   If my “Earl of Essex” blooms, I’ll be over the moon.  So far, no buds spotted though.  Also it looks like either spiderwort or daylillies are coming up in the front bed, too. Can’t tell, though, until they bloom.  Hope they will.

It’s not even April yet, and already it’s starting to get hot.  Right now, at 1 p.m., it’s 82/28CF. Today’s predicted high is 89F/32C and Saturday, we’re supposed to hit 90F.  Evidently, another front is coming through by the end of the weekend.  My weather widget has the “blowing leaves” icon (windy) for Sunday and Monday, and Monday’s predicted high is only 68F/20C.

Now’s Your Chance

In a recent blog post, a blog friend gave out a heads-up on this Kickstarter project called Singularity & Co.  For those who aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it is a grant program that one applies for to get funding for some project of an artistic nature.  If your project is approved, you then solicit pledges from the “web community.”  You have a set number of days to acquire enough pledges.  If you do so, then Kickstarter provides matching funds.  This will be the third kickstarter project I’ve participated in.  The Singularity & Co folks are attempting to raise $15,000 in order to get matching funds.  The pledge deadline is April 2nd, and they’ve gotten  in excess of $34,000+ in pledges so far, so there are a lot of people willing to put their money where Singularity & Co’s aims are.

I am totally behind the idea of making out of print SciFi works available as eBooks.  There is a rich heritage of work out there.  Much of it comes from the days when the scifi genre was printed cheaply and was considered “ephemera.” So much of the early work was only published in cheap paperback editions, and a paperback book is a far, far less robust medium than a hard back book.  They were typically printed as cheaply as possible, newsprint quality paper, which deteriorates fairly rapidly due to the acids used in its manufacture.  Those pioneer works that have been preserved are in many cases almost too fragile to handle due to the deterioration of the paper caused by its acid content.   The goal of Singularity & Co. is  the same as that of Project Gutenberg — to make sure our rich literary heritage follows us into the digital age. An eBook can go places that paper books cannot — anywhere in the world, in fact.  Anyone with internet access can read them.

Singularity & Co. has made the decision  to offer their eBooks in DRM-free format, which truly makes them available to all, even those who do not have “readers” like the iPad, the Kendle, the Nook, etc. , and makes them as shareable as their printed-on-paper counterparts.

To quote from Singularity & Co.’s website, “Rescuing beloved, forgotten, fondly remembered, out-of-print and otherwise lost sci-fi books by bringing them into the digital domain is more than a labor of love – it’s our way of celebrating visions of futures past that shaped the way we live now.”


An Up and Down Day

. . .Is what I had again yesterday.

Thursday, I was all dressed up with nowhere to go.  I got up, booted up my computers, girdled my loins (such as they are), sat down at my desk at 9 o’clock as instructed, all ready and waiting to train into my new job.  And sat there, and sat there.  At 9:38, I called my new boss, and got her voice mail.  Left her a politely worded one to the effect I’m here, I’m ready, but ?????   At quarter of 10, I wrote her a high-priority email with essentially the same text.  At 10:45 she sent me an email from her Blackberry saying that she was “unexpectedly not available,” would I be available tomorrow?  I was, and spent yesterday morning catching up on blogs, webcomics, etc., waiting for word.

We did finally get started at 11 o’clock yesterday, and I got shown the ropes (their software is a whole lot more user-friendly and easier to use than that three-ringed software circus I was using with the previous company).  I down-loaded the requisite software, launched it, and then couldn’t get the window to size down to fit on my screen, no matter what I tried.  I dragged and I dragged, and the window simply refused to size.  Period.  So then I waited another hour and a half for a tech to get an “open window” to link into my computer and see if he couldn’t find out what the deal was.

Wouldn’t you know, my wallpaper changer chose then to feature a picture of Ruben Cortado in a miniscule bathing suit on a beach in Flagrante.  (One of the less obvious perks of working from home.)  And when he linked into my computer, the tech got both barrels, so to speak. I think I was as taken aback as he was.  I’ve had techs link into my computer to fix stuff before, and they’ve never been able to see my wallpaper before, even when I wanted them to.  It never occurred to me that whatever software this tech was using would show my wallpaper, and frankly it was the very least of my worries at that point.  (And when you get right down to it, how was this different from him having a picture of Beyonce, or Shakira, or some other sex symbol du jour in corpus delectable on his desktop?)

Well, the only way we could get the software window to fit the screen was to change the resolution on my 1366 X 768 wide screen monitor to 800 x 600, which kinda defeats the purpose of a wide screen monitor just a tad.  So then I wrestled the octopus and switched out monitors so that the shared monitor is the 1280 X 1024 Dell and the wide screen monitor is the one that is hardwired into my play computer.  (At some point, hopefully, I’ll be able to afford the Belkin KVM switch that will allow me to share both monitors.)  Even so, I’m still having to use 800 x 600 resolution on the Dell 1280 x 1024 monitor, but at least the Dell has the same length/width ratio and has hardly any distortion distortion at that resolution, unlike the wide screen monitor. . . .

It was a relatively easy solution, but I held my breath.  It worked fine for about 6 hours until I got my 3 test documents done and turned off the Vista machine.  Then while I was sitting there reading and replying to blogs, the wide screen froze up and whited out.  You can imagine the disaster scenarios that went through my head.  (Especially since the wide screen monitor is out of warranty.)  I rebooted the Windows 7 machine and got it up, but now the screens were reversed.  Instead of being able to move smoothly to the right on the wide screen across to the left side of the Dell, they were backwards, and I had to get from one screen to the other by the Columbus method (go west by sailing east) — I had to go off the left side of the wide screen to end up on the right side of the Dell.  AARRGGHH!  Took me over an hour, but I think I got it sorted, only now the wallpaper pictures are not in the center of either of the screens any more.  *#^&%$#@!

With no segue whatever to a completely new topic, I’ve had allergies since a child, and it was only just the other day that I found out that extreme sleepiness, as in “can barely keep your eyes open” can be a symptom of allergies.  Apparently this is a big secret that nobody has let the allergy specialists in on, never mind their patients.  I had to hear about it from two other fellow sufferers.  The upshot is that I ordered the same kind of Oreck air filter they use and swear by, but it won’t be here until Tuesday!!!!!  In the meantime, I’m dealing with pollen, mold spores in the duct work, and what have you and fighting to stay awake.  (The light bulb comes on — it wasn’t the medication change that was putting me to sleep, it’s the allergies — the chronology matches up exactly with the times my allergies are the worst!)   If this thing does the trick, I’m getting another one so I won’t have to be moving the one that’s coming Tuesday back and forth between my bedroom and my office.

Oh, well.  Here’s the high point of my day yesterday:

Serendipity Strikes Again

God, I love the internet!  I was following links to a giveaway by the publishing company who has just published a book by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Bear, and practically fell over this not two clicks away.

There’s a big debate going in the scientific community about what makes us “human”  — what line did we as a species cross that divides us from the rest of the animal kingdom? (Or is there a line? A line where?) The ability to invent and use tools?  Our use of language?  For my money, this thing I found is a perfect example of what I think sets us apart as a species.  Imagination.  Plain and simple.  You can’t make a tool, unless you can imagine what it needs to be to do what you need it to do.  And what is language but a gossamer concoction spun out of noise and imagination?  The persons responsible for the above little gem of the animation art had some Grade A, industrial strength imagination going on. Stuff like this makes my mind grin from ear to ear and laugh with delight.

Imagine me taking off my figurative hat and performing a special deluxe,  Elizabethean bow (for use with royal and emperial highnesses, pontifical eminences and other dry game) with the knob turned up to 11, in salute to the perpetrators of this exquisite jewel-winged butterfly of a film.  Yowza!

An odd sensation:  Sitting in a recliner, with a lap robe on, absorbed in blogging, and the black kitty noses under the end of the lap robe, crawls up between my legs and curls up between my knees.  He is sleek and warm, and his whiskers tickle my skin.  We are both content.

I Need To Check My Tumblr Stream More Often

My Tumblr blog is:  Notes From The Owl Underground.  I found these in the two Tumblr blogs I follow, and picked up two new Tumblr blogs  — which I haven’t finished reading yet as it’s 3 a.m. and I have to get up at 8 o’clock and start a new job.

Mirmiam Makeba singing in Xhosa. Gorgeous.

Rap.  In Xhosa.  Rap is taking over the world! There’s no escape!  AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!

And two for SilverTiger:

“Angel of Tigers” by Nell Fallcard

“Dive” by Anastasia Korochansckaja

And one for me:

This painting was supposedly painted at the same time as the Mona Lisa

I’ve Got Good News and Better News

The good news is that the lady I talked to Sunday offered me the job this morning and I accepted it.  I start training on the software Thursday.  It’s that part time position I mentioned in a previous post  — I don’t want a full time position.  It also means I got the exact schedule I wanted.  Of the other three possibilities, one only had full time positions open, one didn’t feel I met their needs (and if I had, I would have had to work evenings), and I never heard back from the third one.

To celebrate, I bought groceries this afternoon.  I had a small list of items I needed, but now that I’m going to be working again, I didn’t have to rigidly adhere to it.  Also, I’ll be able to afford to water the yard.  So, I bought a new garden hose (hose pipe) for the front yard — the hose I have is at least 8 or 9 years old and has deteriorated to the point that it has one big hole in it, and probably several more.  Since the front yard is slightly bigger than a postage stamp, I got a 25-foot hose  in a nice, bright, primary blue color which will go good with the El Cheapo yellow plastic sprinkler I got.  There’s no point in my spending a lot of money on a sprinkler.  We have such hard water here that sprinklers become useless after a couple of years because the lime and scale deposits plug up all the little holes and calcify any internal workings into immobility.  The pruning shears I had are on their last legs, so I got a new pair of  those too. I think the other two hoses are pretty much OK.

I also got one of those hose holder things that you screw onto the side of your house to hang your coiled hose on.  I had one of those boxes that lets you wind up the hose into it, but in the last couple of years, it’s started leaking badly where you attach the hose inside the holder.  I’ll have to charge up my drill and play “Toolbelt Diva” to hang it.   I also got two yard lights to replace the two the yard guys broke.  I have to be out and about Thursday afternoon so I’ll swing by and get cat food and litter, and then I’ll head back to Wal-Mart and get a couple of bags of mulch for the front flower beds. (The stupid yard guys that my duplex manager pays to keep the yard have decided that in addition to mowing, edging and blowing off the sidewalks, they are going to blow and rake all the leaves out of the flower beds, too.  They hauled perfectly good, free leaf mulch off to the dumpster, and now I have to go buy commercial mulch at the store to replace it.  Duh!)  (The yard lights and the mulch are coming off the rent.)

So, what’s the better news?  Take a look at this.  See anything interesting?

Take a closer look:

Those are iris buds!  So far I’ve counted four of them.  I swear they weren’t there when I looked out this morning, but this afternoon before I went over to my folks house to fix a table lamp for my mom (the socket had burnt out), I looked out the back door window and saw little flecks of yellow.  I did a double take and was out the back door in a New York minute to take a closer look.  I have several different colors, and each color blooms at a different time.  These little yellow ones are always the first to bloom.  They are descendants of one little corm that just suddenly sprouted up right in the middle of the pass through from the back yard to the front fence gate.  I rescued it and transplanted it into my iris bed with the little two-tone purple ones that were there when I moved in.  The first summer I lived here, I bought every color of iris corm Wal-mart had, dumped them all in a bowl and just grabbed and planted.  This fall, I need to thin this bed out and do some transplanting.

While I was out in the yard, I looked around and saw all kinds of nice little surprises:

The lawn grass we have here is called “Bermuda grass.”  It propagates by seed, but it also propagates by runners.  Each fall, the year’s growth withers and dies back to the roots.  The dead part is that whitish tan litter you can see underneath the new growth that has come back out from the roots again.  (The dead grass always reminds me of the paintings Andrew Wyeth did in tempera.  The light here has the same intense, glaring quality as the light I see in those paintings, with the same washed out, sun-faded colors).

My jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is beginning to bloom, too:

There’s at least one bud on the red climbing rose by the east fence.

There are buds on the bush roses, and the honeysuckle is going nuts.

Yes, I’ve got aphids on some of my roses.  But they are “tame” aphids.  They are being herded by the resident sugar ants (Camponotus consobrinus).  Even if there weren’t a baby and a 4-year-old child living in the other side of the duplex, I still wouldn’t poison the aphids.  Because the ants have the aphids as a food source, they haven’t needed to come in my house looking for food — and that means I don’t have to have a bug guy come out and spray.