Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No, I do NOT want to play with the new kittens

Contrary to what these photos might lead you to believe, Dolly was growling the whole time, even while trying to grab Georgie's tail behind the safety of the file cabinet. Silly cat.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I don't believe it

Two days in the office and the Vanalikalikes have already figured out how to get filed. All except Pi, who is a portly little fellow. I also notice that all the papers in this drawer have a filigree of perforations from tiny teeth and claws which beg the question of why I am allocating them storage space at all.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's almost time

My bout of severe cello avoidance, over two months long now, may be coming to an end. This week I thought about playing my cello. I watched a couple of cello videos on YouTube - The Chicago Cello Society has posted all twenty performances from their recent Popper concert in honor of Janos Starker - and indulged in a little retail therapy. I am trying on ideas for what I might like to play this year.

This is what I bought:

Possible solo pieces
Goltermann Capriccio, Marais La Folia (arr. Gendron), Vaughan Williams' Six Studies in English Folksong, Bridge's Four Pieces for Cello and Piano. I am also thinking that I would like another pass at Goltermann Concerto #4, to get the fast parts fast, and still would like to start Haydn C Maj concerto.

Chamber Music
Dvorak American Quartet. It would be lovely to be able to play that on demand, and it has lots of juicy technique. For the same reason, I want to work on the von Weber trio (flute, piano, cello).

For violin and cello: Lee Duet #2, Op 125 No 2; Gliere 8 Duets Op 39, Berg 16 Duets; Bartok Hungarian Folk Melodies. One of the violinists in the quartet I read with has expressed interest in playing some duets, and I really had nothing in my library.

For flute and cello: Villa-Lobos The Jet Whistle. The flautist from my trio would probably willing to play with me. I don't even know what it sounds like, but I'll bet it's fun.

Movie Scores
Music from Titanic and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, arranged for cello and piano. A totally uncharacteristic purchase, but I'm longing to be able to take simple tunes and make compelling music out of them. I thought this might be fun.

Fun. The operative word is fun. The last three years with T- have been so worthwhile, but somewhere along the way I forgot how to have fun.

Last week at church the orchestra played for the first time without prior rehearsal (and I played for the first time in a month). At one point during the read-through before the service, the choir director dashed over to me (while still conducting), bent over, ear to f-holes, and said "I think you're a little sharp." Yikes! I didn't think I was, but maybe my chops are flabbier than I think, and my hearing has even deteriorated.

I think it's time. Maybe next week I'll touch my cello.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mortal danger

This is the crabapple tree a few feet from our back deck. You can see our railing in the picture. If you have very good eyes, you might be able to see a large brown spot near the top.

This is a closeup of the spot. You can see it better if you biggify.

That is the home of my new neighbors, a colony of bald-faced (or white-faced) hornets, which are actually from the same family as yellow-jacket wasps. I was not excited to discover them in the neighborhood, as I am allergic to vespids - the anaphylactic kind of allergic, not the my-arm-swells-up-really-big kind of allergic.

The representative from my homeowners association expeditiously sent an exterminator to my rescue, but unfortunately the nest is too high and too far away from the deck to exterminate safely (from the point of view of the humans). I learned that this type of wasp mounts two sentries near the door, who if disturbed rally the inside members to attack. The distance to the hive is small enough that the bug man's pole could reach the door, but far enough away that installing the powder of death would be difficult. That didn't sound like an optimal situation.

I also learned that at the end of this season the workers will die off and the fertilized queens will hibernate, and they generally do not recolonize the same nest next year. And I've also observed for a few days that they are not really active outside the nest, possibly because I don't have any plants on the deck to attract them.

So in spite of my fear, I will be living with my unwanted neighbors for the rest of the summer. I have dug out my Epi-pens (and will give DH a refresher on how to use them, in case I am not able). Every day I do a little meditation, sending peaceful thoughts to the hive. But I thought, just in case this blog goes completely dead (so to speak) - you can blame it on bald-faced hornets.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What not to wear

Yes, I am a fan of the TLC show What Not to Wear. I pick up a practical tip now and again, but what I really enjoy is talking back to the TV when Stacey and Clinton clean up a mother of toddlers or dog walker or construction worker. They may end up looking nice, but it's not very practical.

This is my current "look", as foster mom to five kitten toddlers.

No, my closet is not full of sweats, I just wear the same set over and over. Every couple of days I throw them into the wash with the kittens' bedding. That's my dirty little secret, so to speak.

Note the shoes. I normally wear flip flops this time of year, but have resorted to clogs to protect my toes from their little needle toes.

This is not what you think it is. I had just washed this, then proceeded to drip guacamole on it. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Don't you like that name? Pookie Vanalikalike - I love to say it. So much better than what a friend, who shall not be further identified, was calling him - Horny Toad Hitler (in honor of his two little horns and black mustache).


The Vanalikalikes (and Spud) have been eating exclusively from a dish since Friday. While on one hand that's a good thing, because syringe feeding is time consuming and I can only feed one at a time while the others scream around my ankles, on the other hand it's more work because the kittens need to be bathed after every meal.

Pookie, whom you see in post-meal glory above, is by far the worst. This video demonstrates why.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

If at first you don't succeed...

You gotta admire persistence.

Two days ago I started letting the Vanalikalikes out of the tub in the Nursery and into the Playground for a couple of hours after meals. They absolutely love the new (washable) cotton rug that they can run on without their little frog legs splaying out from under them, and the wedge scratching box with the hidey hole underneath was an instant hit. Good thing they're small, because they insist upon cramming all five little bodies under the step when they are ready for a snooze.

The entry to the Playground is closed by my big wire mesh cubes, with a trash can wedged in the last open bit so that I can step in and out without the hazard of moving the wall.

Two days. They grow so fast at this age (4 weeks +). Here's Puddin (the littlest kitten and only girl) demonstrating that, when you're hungry and you hear "Mom" at the computer, a little trash can is hardly sufficient to keep you away. Even if you fall in the middle.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Poopy Day

It started with a poopy head. (That's Georgie on the left with the poop behind his left ear.)

It ended with a poopy face. (That's Pi, and it wasn't just on his face.)

And a botfly belly in the middle. (That's Spud, who just arrived today.)

I haven't been blogging much lately, but I'm not sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Enumerating News

OK, OK. In response to a complaint that two weeks of seeing the Clik a Pad on top of my blog is more than enough, I am writing a new post.

News for July:

1. I got a new set of four bottle babies last Monday, 3-4 weeks old. For the past week I have been very busy feeding, pottying, cleaning, and weaning. My bigs are wonderful, every so often going in to check out the babies (as Sharae is doing here) but leaving them alone to squirm and wrestle in the Nursery. They're not very interesting yet, unless you are their Mom.

2. Finnegan and Fergus have gone to their forever homes. While not together, they each have a new big sister, are adjusting well, and their new people love them.

3. Molly had a family visit last night, but not the right one for her. I will be very sorry to see Molly leave, even though she is going through an adolescent phase of overturning trash cans, scratching the couch, and suckling at 3am. She's a dear.

4. Sharae, Seri, Dolly, and Molly all went to an adoption event at a local Petco last weekend. The verdict is unanimous. We all hate them.

5. My Board review course was very interesting, and very long. My hip still hurts from the week of non-stop sitting, now several weeks ago.

6. I got in three good days of clutter work at the DC house. Four huge paper recycling bins filled, but the bulk of the work was moving the clutter to a more organized and out-of-the way place. Sigh.

7. I've started participating in a new workout program called CrossFit. I am doing the version scaled down for us Buttercups, and even with that have been marveling at how long it's been since I felt like puking after a workout. The barbell work came in very handy with #6, as I found I could easily lift a 40 lb book box over my head using a clean and jerk technique.

8. I started #7 after I found out in PT that the reason I haven't been able to run without pain yet is that I don't actually use the muscles around my knee during stance to push-off. That has gotten much better with the squat strength-training. I also stopped jogging, and started running as far as I can (about 200 ft <g>) then walking in intervals. I hope I can run 2 complete miles by winter. Reconditioning is so much harder when you're 50. Sigh.

9. I have had one adventure in travel, getting stranded for an extra day in DC because of weather the day before I was supposed to fly home. I've never been delayed a whole day before, and was glad I was in a place where I had somewhere to stay.

10. I have played my cello four times since my last concert in June. I don't know what happened; I've simply lost my desire to play. And now I have also lost much of my finger and thumb calluses, and if I just jump in to play for fun I aggravate my right tennis elbow. It's not looking good on the cello front right at this moment. And I haven't tried to play the piano since June.