Friday Cat Blogging: Toro Toro Taxi Edition

Yesterday, I stood up at my desk. Mathilde stood up. Beth stood up. Then we were doing the twist, because who cannot hear Dick Dale on the mental jukebox?

Drusy is a lanky five-pound pussycat who wants with her whole heart to fit into this basket I placed on the living room floor in anticipation of kitty curiosity, yet that cat – she does not fit! Her eyes glow with determination and lumpy adorability. This picture reminded me, though I was no fan, of stage whispered tabloid warnings that Princess Di should lay off the melba toast if she wanted to go strapless. Thus, I will acquire a larger basket for the slender pussycat and the feline version of bon bons.

Topaz is not a hat, but neither is she a python that has swallowed an elephant. Thus, there were always other possibilities for the Little Prince. Perhaps the pilot drew a shape and filled in the contents and not, as one might surmise, drawn contents from the inside out. In the case of lovely Topaz, we cannot know if she is full of an elephant but I would bet against it as I seldom hear loud trumpeting.

Pete took these pictures at my urging because only one of us at a time is allowed to be rendered speechless with glee – some sort of local ordinance – and it was my turn. This is a fine image of a cat rump. I would go so far as to say it is among the finest images of a cat rump I’ve ever seen, especially since the head distantly attached to this rump tried to burrow under the couch. Many have tried, kitty!

I’m Odds And Ends

From the nerdacious circles in which Mr. Wintle travels comes this wild vision of a better future: One Laptop Per Child. The mission:

OLPC’s mission [ed’s note: See? They have one!] is to provide a means for learning, self-expression, and exploration to the nearly two billion children of the developing world with little or no access to education. While children are by nature eager for knowledge, many countries have insufficient resources to devote to education—sometimes less than $20 per year per child (compared to an average of $7,500 in the United States). By giving children their very own connected XO laptop, we are giving them a window to the outside world, access to vast amounts of information, a way to connect with each other, and a springboard into their future. And we’re also helping these countries develop an essential resource – educated, empowered children.

Wait, I have questions – !

From now through December 31, 2007, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. This is the first time the revolutionary XO laptop has been made available to the general public. For a donation of $399, one XO laptop will be sent to empower a child in a developing nation and one will be sent to the child in your life in recognition of your contribution. $200 of your donation is tax-deductible (your $399 donation minus the fair market value of the XO laptop you will be receiving).

For all U.S. donors who participate in the Give One Get One program, T-Mobile is offering one year of complimentary HotSpot access. Find out more.

Please be aware that we will make every effort to deliver the XO laptops by the holidays, but quantities are limited. Early purchasers have the best chance of receiving their XO laptops in time for the holidays, but we cannot guarantee timing.

I’m pretty bad at math. That’s why the unnamed university lets me play with money. I have to say the above description didn’t make as much sense as I’d hoped. Maybe Siobhan will type verrrrrry slowly and explain it to me. But about you:

Bring the light of learning to a child who would otherwise be left without adequate access to information and education with a donation of one or more XO laptops. A donation of $200 will pay for and deliver one XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, $400 will pay for and deliver two XO laptops, and so on. Your entire contribution will be tax-deductible.

That I understand. Give it a look, won’t you?

See How the Black Moon Fades

Johnny, our Southwest correspondent reports.

Looking at these pictures makes me shake my head in disbelief that I am still alive. I used to say when I was young that the heart could break a thousand times, that you just got up and got back in the ring. But nothing bad had happened to me then. The worst heartbreak I’d had to face was if some punk rock girl wouldn’t have sex with me.

In the death throes of my first marriage, we moved into a broken down old house in Arlington, a grimy second-rate suburb of Cambridge, a dry town where you couldn’t even buy a bottle of beer to drown your sorrows. The house was creaky and sagging and an ominous wind blew across the loose clapboards from the cemetery directly behind it.

I would come home from work and walk Tano, then I’d take a six of beer upstairs, which was my territory. I’d drink and kill the time until dinner, staring out the window at the forsaken headstones, wishing one of them said my name. I dreaded my wife’s hateful stare so powerfully that I wouldn’t even go downstairs to the bathroom. I pissed in empty gallon jugs and lined them up in the back of the closet.

Eventually it would be time for the dinner ordeal. We’d glower at each other with barely concealed hostility until it was over. Then I’d take another six upstairs to help me kill the rest of the evening. It made me so desperately sad to walk past her sleeping on the couch that sometimes, rather than go down to the horrible little room in the corner where I slept, I’d lie down on the floor in my little office and spend the night there. Then I’d get up in the morning, stiff-necked and hung over, have a couple of beers, and go to work.

I remember the night I told her that I would be moving out in the morning. I’d gotten a lot of nasty surprises when I married her, and, to be fair, she’d gotten just as many from me, but she said something that night that I couldn’t even believe I was hearing. She said ‘Are you seeing someone?’ Like the torture of surviving another hour of our miserable existence together wasn’t enough to drive me out of that haunted house.

I blamed my first wife for a long time. Then I got over it. People will tell you that things happen for a reason. I think that’s shite. I don’t believe that some malevolent all-knowing entity crucified me and broke my spirit just so I could appreciate the marriage I have now. But that’s the way it shook out. So who am I to complain?

It doesn’t all fit in the scanner, but you get the idea. I smeared a bunch of medium and extender on a piece of window screen, then stuck in an outline of the Captain cut from tarp canvas. I’ll take a picture of it the way it really works, stuck to a window, with the sun behind it. The medium turns opalescent and the Arabic turns luminous and unearthly. I have about nine paintings going and am in love with all of them and want to ask them to marry me. The glee, the glee, the glee of paint. Did I forget to mention the glee of paint? I don’t care what I had to crawl through to get here. God damn. Life is good.

P.S. I don’t know much about history. Don’t know much biology. But I do know. Mandinka.

And Its News Is Captured

Today is Siobhan’s birthday and in honor of the only person I’ve ever met on a first name basis with her UPS man, let’s talk about shopping. Today is the beginning of the online shopping season. I heard this on the news this morning as I did some stretching and bending. Since it pays to be flexible, this morning I’ve replaced my co-workers’ soymilk (with which I replaced cow milk) with almond milk. We’ll see soon if they run screaming – or even notice.

A few days ago, I found myself seated in the blast zone of a complete stranger expounding upon the medicinal uses of cinnamon for controlling blood sugar in certain kinds of diabetics and pre-diabetics. Her extended family, seated all around me, showed a propensity toward hyperglycemia. This stranger advised that drops of cinnamon oil – “It burns. Want some?” – or two teaspoons of cinnamon per day would help regulate blood sugar. I sat there picturing Cinnabon as the front line in the Battle of Good and Evil, with little raisins carried out on Red Cross stretchers and walnuts tending broken pecans. There was icing everywhere! Everywhere! And I resolved to look this up next time I sat down at the World’s Largest Encyclopedia. Which is where you are now. See?

According to Cheryl Korn, internet expert on everything from the Buffalo Sabres to the basics of organic food, cinnamon is made of surprising goo.

Cinnamon’s primary chemical constituents include cinnamadehyde, gum, tannin, mamitol, coumarins, and essential oils (aldehydes, eugenol, and pinene.)

It would be terrible of you to make a joke like, “Mamitol, Tannin! Coumarins and eugenol pinene!” so I won’t either. Probably.

Cinnamon has many medicinal purposes including calming a cough, which produces the spitting of a whitish phlegm in the elderly. They can chew or swallow a small pinch of cinnamon for effective relief. This also helps with the problem of cold hands and feet, especially at night.

Just half a teaspoon per day may reduce blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels by as much as 20 percent in Type II diabetes patients not taking insulin. Some research seems to point to cinnamon augmenting the action of insulin; however, this has yet to be proven.

Cinnamon is mildly carminative and can be used to treat nausea, flatulence and possibly diarrhea. It increases peripheral blood flow and is a urine stimulant. Cinnamon is also a great essential oil with antibacterial and antifungal qualities.

Then I had to look up carminative because it wasn’t – like fuck – a word commonly used around the dinner table. Wikipedia:

A carminative, also known as carminativum (plural carminativa), is a medicinal drug with antispasmodic activity that is used against cramps of the digestive tract in combination with flatulence. They are often mixtures of essential oils and herbal spices with a tradition in folk medicine for this use.

Wikipedia says: “See anti-foaming agent.” My stars! That is blunt.

Further sources rhapsodize:

In Chinese medicine, cinnamon is one of the most widely used “warming” herbs that aid in circulation and digestion. It is a common ingredient used in tea for nausea during pregnancy. It is also used following delivery to decrease hemorrhage. Cinnamon raises vitality, warms the system, stimulates all the vital functions of the body, counteracts congestion, improves digestion, relieves abdominal spasms and aids in peripheral circulation.

The essential oils contained in cinnamon include eugenol, cinnamic aldehyde, methyl-eugenol, tannin, and mannitol, which gives cinnamon its sweet flavor. It also contains cinnzelanin and cinnzelanol, which are both known insecticides. Try putting some liquid soap and cinnamon in a spray bottle and use on plants as an organic bug repellent. Cinnamon is also included in many medicinal recipes that are used for lice, scabies, and other skin parasites.

Cinnamon has antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial activities. It has been shown to suppress E. coli, staphylococcus, and candida albicans.

Between cinnamon and wearing flipflops in public showers, I should be okay, right? Maybe not.

Along with the medicinal effects come the side effects and interactions that medicinal cinnamon causes. Some people may be sensitive or allergic to cinnamon. Also, some people may develop dermatitis after exposure to it. Therefore, to take precautions to these possible side effects, only small amounts should be given to a person who lacks prier exposure to it. Chronic chewing of cinnamon gum or use of cinnamon flavored toothpaste can cause inflammation of the mouth, and lead to pre-cancerous growth. The highly concentrated cinnamon oil is more likely to cause side effects than the cinnamon powder. Cinnamon oil should never be ingested.

Cinnamon oil is exactly what that dinner guest recommended, so I’m back at the beginning. I don’t know anything for sure.

My coffee is tasty. Happy Birthday, Siobhan!

Moon Shadow Moon Shadow

It’s my whole family, by gum.


Daria: Mom learned a new word today and she really liked it.
Tata: What’s happening here?
Daria: Mom learned a new word: furfuracious.
Mom: Furfuracious!
Tata: How are we spelling this?
Daria: F-u-r-f-u-r-a-c-i-o-u-s.
Mom: It’s a good word.
Tata: I’ve never heard of this word. What’s it mean?
Daria: It’s kind of like fur, squared. And we thought you should know it because you have two cats.


Mom: I learned another word yesterday and it too was a really good word.
Tata: Fascinating. What was it?
Mom: It was a very good word and I can’t think of it right now. It started with S.
Tata: So many of our best words do. Can you describe this word?
Mom: It started with S and it was a very good word. Daria, your dictionary is in the same place?
Daria: It sure is!
Mom I’ll just go look it up.
Tata: Did…did Mom just take the two-year-old and head off to read the S-section of the dictionary during Thanksgiving dessert?

You Spinning You Have No Choice

Life is full of accidental discoveries. Horoscopically speaking, today you will wish to shower me with flowers and Porsches, but it’s Wednesday so I expect that. A few nights ago, I happened to look up at the TV when the phone rang. I can’t explain that. It was Siobhan on a rampage.

Tata: Cable phone service appears to give me caller ID now. It came up on my TV so you’re the star of One Life to Live. This is better than an hour ago, when I thought my sister Daria was on American Justice.
Siobhan: That shirt said, PRACTICE SAFE SEX. GO FUCK YOURSELF! Spencer Gifts sells them. I’m right about this and I need you to tell me I’m right.
Tata: Please. Go practice safe sex.

It’s been plain for some time that I would make a terrible witness because my brain rearranges things but this is ridiculous. I repeated the shirt’s message over and over to Siobhan while we were in Macy’s. In case you haven’t noticed, the word FUCK doesn’t offend me, so the t-shirt she describes wouldn’t have bothered me. No. I was offended by vomitrocious misogyny and disdain for his sex partner(s). Still, I can’t prove any of it beyond that I bought four bras. I have receipts!

Monday, Stop & Shop called me at work – well, a very nice lady with a musical voice and a gently jumbled Boston-Midwest accent called, stammering. I was immediately amused that someone took my letter so personally.

Tata: Domenica speaking.
Nice Lady: Is this Domenica LongItalianLastName?
Tata: Domenica speaking?
Nice Lady: Domenica, this is Mrs. SoAndSo from Stop & Shop Customer Service. I’ve read your letter – several times, actually, and I just couldn’t write a response to it.
Tata: I didn’t really expect a response but it’s funny to hear from you.
NL: I couldn’t write a response to it. Literally. I tried! But then I just had to call you and find out –
Tata: If I were a real human?
NL: Well, yes –
Tata: And if I carry a tune in a bucket?
NL: That, too.
Tata: I’m as real as imaginary friends get.

There followed a sort of apology from Mrs. SoAndSo for my unsatisfying shopping experience, which wasn’t at all what I was after when I wrote. I think. As we see above, my crappy memory may be worse than previously imagined, so who knows what I was thinking?

Tata: While I have you on the phone, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the recycled paper products situation. It’s intolerable.
NL: We have people in house working on that situation and –
Tata: In your stores, if there is one brand of recycled paper products it is Seventh Generation, which is a good brand. But why is there only one brand? Marcal products are manufactured in New Jersey and you don’t carry them. Considering the amount of fossil fuels used to drag these things around the nation’s highways, it seems like a natural for you to want to sell Marcal here at least. But why is there only one brand in your stores, and presented as an afterthought at that?
NL: That sounds very reasonable.
Tata: Obviously, a situation is way out of control when I sound reasonable. That store in my town is every bit as bad as I said it was. And please, when you send someone to go check don’t use my name. It’s a small town and my neighbors will come visit me.
NL: Don’t use your name?
Tata: God no. I’m not using my Stop & Shop card anytime soon. Just so you know.
NL: Please accept my apologies for the rotten grapes. We’re going to get a regional manager in there. We hope to improve everything you mentioned. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Tata: That reminds me: I better go buy a shovel.
NL: Is it snowing?
Tata: Not that kind. But thank you!

But the Point Is Probably Moot

If you can stand it, I keep forgetting what to write about, and then I forget to write. Time passes, and other people at other blogs wonder why my name is on the masthead over there when they got game and lately I got ungotz. That is, by the way, a very naughty word and you shouldn’t use it around your grandmother unless your grandmother is me. You can trust me on this: I am not, almost certainly, your grandmother. Nope.

Out in the wide world of the intertubes, you can find all kinds of people writing all kinds of material. I read through blogrolls because I am curious about everything. Almost everything. Many things. There’s some yecky stuff I could live without. Anyway, for a while, BitchPhD linked to the Countess all the time, and at the Countess, you read about men’s rights activists, chocolate and sex. It’s a breathtakingly short hop from there to a whole planet of exhibitionists who get their groove on daily; some are fantastic smutty writers I’d read if they wrote phone books, though the pages might stick together. Last week, a blog I often read by an interesting woman on the low wattage end in a dominant/submissive power exchange relationship disappeared – the blog was deleted by the dominant in a fit of pique – and I was shaken by how real that erasure felt. I know exactly how I’d feel if I were cut off from my work. I’ve been cut off from my work by my cranky brain chemistry. I know what would happen if a person did that to me. She is certainly not me, though, and the component parts of her personality are very different from mine. We know this because you can figure out who’s friends with whom in this underground world, and rumor has it she’s not under arrest for homicide.

What I do not know is how people can live like that. Or like this:

Daria found that. We like Rick Springfield. When dinosaurs roamed the earth, I peeled cans of Fosters for depressed corporate filmmakers on the Turnpike on a hazardous weeknight mission to see Rick Springfield or die trying. I have almost certainly risked all for Rick. Yet this video makes me want to regrout my synapses.

What were they thinking?

Thinking Of Me When You

Siobhan and I embarked Saturday on a pilgrimage to Macy’s one day bra sale. Bra shopping is depressing, exhausting and never occurs without incident. This incident was special, I think: we ascended on an escalator to the floor where lingerie waited, if lingerie can be said to wait. Honest, I was minding my own business. There before us stood a man wearing jeans, a jacket and a t-shirt with the words partially obscured. Immediately furious, then doubtful, then furious again, I pursed my lips and pushed past him and his pasty clan.

Siobhan: I can’t believe it! You’re offened by that guy’s shirt!
Tata: I was, but now I’m not sure.
Siobhan: You’re offended because that guy’s shirt said FUCK, admit it!
Tata: I was offended because I thought that guy’s shirt said, USE BIRTH CONTROL? GO FUCK YOURSELF!, but then I wondered if the jacket concealed other words, and the shirt actually said, NOT USING BIRTH CONTROL? GO FUCK YOURSELF! I mean, if I’m being invited to go fuck myself I’d like to know why but I’m not going to get into it with him before I purchase two bras and get two bras free.
Siobhan: No, no. I’ve seen that shirt before. It says, USE BIRTH CONTROL? GO FUCK YOURSELF!
Tata: What is that asshole’s actual message?
Siobhan: His message is that you should go fuck yourself.
Tata: Sure, but why? I mean, is he saying he’s not gloving up for anything? Is he saying he has a moral issue with preventing unwanted pregnancy? Because his shirt is designed to provoke a response and he’s wearing it where children can see it. Even meek mommies have a problem with that.
Siobhan: No, no. His actual message is that you should go fuck yourself.
Tata: Me in particular? How’d he know I’d be here?
Siobhan: Magic 8 Ball.

When this scene was described to him later, Pete asked good questions.

Pete: Was he alone? Was he with a woman?
Tata: He was.
Pete: Did she have her front teeth?

I allowed as I didn’t know because to get even a little tangled in this scenario would involve Constitutional issues I didn’t want to discuss with the local constabulary in Ladies Lingerie. But hey, I appreciate his honesty in wearing that out in public because I could see what kind of misogynist douchebag he was, and that discussion would prove fruitless. I wondered briefly what other ideologically revealing t-shirts he possessed. Then we bought bras.

I Need An Order!

It was a rough day for imagery.

Tata: So how is the feline quartet?
Darla: Ah! The Gang of Fur! Samantha was sick so I took her to the vet. The last thing I need would be to kill off your father’s cat.
Tata: She’s okay?
Darla: Yeah, I enjoyed giving her antibiotics twice a day for a week.
Tata: She’s a sweet pussycat but I can see her trying to julienne you.
Darla: Last night, Edgar sat on my desk with foam running down his chin. I thought, ‘Terrific. He’s got rabies.’ I sniffed him and realized somewhere in the house lay an empty tube of toothpaste.
Tata: So, Gang of Fur: is it Madame Mao or I Love A Man In Uniform?

Darla: Do you know I’ve had four cats for ten years and you’re the first person to ask?

Friday Cat Blogging: Seasons Change And So Edition

You’re just here for the cats. I know your secret.

Pourquoi? Pourquoi pas?

Ah, lovely Topaz! I adore her but she can be a bit of a pill. Her hobby (nudging things from atop other things, preferably at a good height and where disastrous collision with the earth generates an impressive crashy cacophony) sometimes interferes with ordinary apartment life. The other night, Topaz nudged Pete’s wallet from its perch atop the pictured festive footrest. What Pete failed to notice and I failed to mention the time was that a few leaves of his wallet photo holder fell out. The next day, Pete was in Home Depot buying paint and found his wallet a little light. He rushed home in a panic and scoured his house for the missing items, then found them on my living room floor. He knew immediately what had happened. Topaz remains mum on the subject.

Last night, we were treated to the kitty version of big time wrestling, which is no fun since it left stinky high school gyms and went all glam. Our feline friends nibbled on one another ears and flung themselves at one another and peculiar angles. We applauded harrowing holds and narrow escapes. We gasped at creative uses of teeth and feathered cat toys. The fully grown pussycats have a wide range of facial expressions and vocal intonations. We know when to pick up our feet and wait for the furry fighters to chase something shiiiiiny.

The spookiest of spooky Drusys. She is pouncy! She is relaxy! She weighs all of five pounds but she is five pounds of toe-nibbly, lip-locky, finicky feline. Pete had a cold last week. When he lay down on the couch, Drusy lay on his chest and kissed him over and over. I said, “Doesn’t that make you feel better?” He said, “Well, it doesn’t make you mad.