Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas cat

Cozy, yes? Nice kitty, all snuggled in my office chair with a cushy pillow and full belly. This is the cat we took in a couple weeks ago when temps hovered in the single digits and ice coated everything. He came prowling round our doorstep, mewling and pitiful. Cold! Hungry!
Oh, poor baby! Even though he was supposedly famished, he was finicky. Didn't like dry cat food. Didn't like canned cat food. (I should have known!) But he just LOVED those chicken drumsticks I baked for him. Yes, I BAKED for him, and then I continued to labor by separating the meat from the bones and the skin and so on. Cat-sized portions remain in the freezer.

But come to find out, this is an opportunistic animal, a neighborhood cat, who has now disappeared to more favored digs. Turns out he has at least three homes that welcome him, and all within shouting distance, plus the home where he "belongs," which is apparently not acceptable. I'm not sure why, but I hear they have an unfriendly dog. They're missing out. This is a sweet cat that enters your home and claims the territory. He drapes over furniture, rubs along legs, and stands by the door in a mannerly fashion when he needs to exit to do his business.
Why did we take him in? One, we like cats. and two, we stared directly into his pleading eyes and believed he needed our help. I think most people are like that. If you can see a being —person, or animal, that is clearly in jeopardy, and you are in a solitary position to help, then you will. It's not like the shared responsibility we have for beggars with "will work for food" signs whose eyes you avoid, and who are ignored by most people in passing cars, and whose plight you figure somebody else will address. And whose motives you may question.

But when it's just you and a suffering (supposedly) being, and you are the only person who can alleviate the situation, what do you do? Most people open the door or the wallet.  I know I do.

All those mailed appeals with photos of children with cleft palates and hideous living conditions and polio and so on, not to mention the puppy mills and chained starving animals, attempt to duplicate the impact of beings who are suffering right before our eyes. Local newspapers at Christmas time highlight pathetic story after pathetic story of "friends in need" and the community responds with an outpouring of cash and goods and trips to Disneyland. But nothing quite rivals the domestic animal who shows up on your doorstep on a frigid night looking for a way in. Unless it could be a child fleeing abuse or neglect. Can you imagine a terrified child trembling at your door? Could you turn her away? I couldn't. But I'm afraid I ignore some of the most plaintive appeals from the most worthy non profits because I just can't take it all on. But give me a cat on a cold night? You're in, baby.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

65 Alive

Today I am 6-freaking-5 years old. Thank you, my friends, for your birthday wishes. And thank you,  Laurie, for taking this photo a couple weeks ago, proof that yoga works no matter your age. If I can still do this in 10 years, I'll send the picture to a tabloid. "Seventy-five-year -old woman does splits!!" If we even have printed papers then.  It's difficult to project what the world at large will be like tomorrow, let alone what might come in the next decade. For sure our own  personal molecular swirls will have undergone vast change and may even be circling the drain by then. Ha!  Don't you love how things change so fast you can't keep up? I do, except for the getting-old part.

I cannot believe I've reached the Medicare birthday. But isn't that the way it is no matter how old you've suddenly become? I heard my sons recently complaining about turning 31 and 23 and I say, poor babies! I felt practically the same astonishment turning 40 and 50 and 60 that I do now that the next milestone on the horizon is the big 7-0! Time passes in a blur. Remember this song? Time Is by It's a Beautiful Day. If you click, scroll to song number seven. Crank it up, please, and twirl around and sing along. It will be good for your soul. And mine, too. I love to have dance partners, even those I can't see.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sharing Love Through Food, Wine, Music, Dance.....and Ping Pong!

Thanks, Steve, for the wholesome post title, (my first attempt was "Dance, Drink and Dink Around) and Laurie Gerloff's photo, above,  which says it all. Ping pong and dancing were temporarily suspended so the feast and toasting could proceed apace. Nothing fancy in the presentation, but what a gourmet spread! And what a celebration. The best way to start the holiday season is with friends and family, music and dancing, PING PONG, and a lush cornucopia of deliciousness that spills across December like a wave of rich gravy crested by sweet potatoes and pecan pie.
It's taken two weeks to sort this out, and I'm not sure it's quite jelled. But as I've learned,  writing, and even thinking about writing, is a process that can reveal (to yourself and maybe your readers, if you have any) what you're thinking and feeling. I'm writing this because I'm curious. What  am I thinking? It should be easy to describe something that was absolute fun, starting on Wednesday before T-giving and ending on Sunday after.

But.... no. I have to complicate with comparisons of Thanksgivings past and sentimental reflections about the future. But first off, it's clear that the marathon shared with a gang of friends and family bore NO resemblance to the iconic Norman Rockwell painting. For one thing, those sitting at Rockwell's Thanksgiving table don't look like they had anything to do with preparing dinner. And who's going to clean up? Never mind. And have you wondered how that fleshy grandmother held a 25-pound bird at arm's length? There are other problems. Celery sticks? Water? Where's the wine? Where's the stuffing and cranberry sauce? Where are the Brussels sprouts? I see you Norman, peeking out from the right lower corner. I wonder what you'd think of our Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Southern Oregon deep freeze— perfect for solar home

It's unusually COLD in southern Oregon and has been for several days. This morning was just 8 degrees F and now, close to 11 a.m. under blues skies and brilliant sun, it's still only 18. But the solar water panels on our roof have kicked in to heat the water circulating in the hot water tank to 100. Before long, it will will rise to around 150, as it did yesterday, and I'll throw a load of clothes into the washer and fire up the dishwasher. It'll also be time for a long hot shower because for the next 12 hours or so, we'll have free hot water. Thanks to our modest passive solar home, built in the early 1980's, we'll also have free heat as waves rise out of the simple solarium and sun streams through south-facing windows in a living room addition built in 1994. PK took pains all those years ago to include every energy-saving trick we could afford including:
  • a clean-burning woodstove
  • 10-inch thick insulation
  • whole-house fan, which is primarily responsible for summer cooling
  • ceiling fans
  • double-door entrances
  • a solarium that heats the house on cold sunny days, doubles as greenhouse in the spring, and serves as a winter clothes dryer
  • orienting the house to face south
  • double-paned woodframe windows
Everything still works, and summer or winter, nary a sunny day goes by without thanking our sun-smart 2.300 sq. ft. home—warm in the winter and cool in the summer for an average energy bill of around $100 a month, year-round. (In addition to a tiny woodstove in the living room, we use a natural gas stove in the center of the house for heating, and also cook with natural gas.) Next up, perhaps, solar-electric panels.