Every One Of Them And Running Wild

You can’t help it. “Oh Ta,” you ask, “I love your cats as much as the next Topaz & Drusy Groupie – by the way, we’re totally having a Groupie Weekend with matching t-shirts and koi cupcakes because We Heart teh Little Black Catses! – but you’re three for three. What gives?”

Princess Drusy in gray, size 7.

About the little things I may never shut my elegant trap, but about big stuff I’m more circumspect. A few weeks ago, a sports medicine doctor stared at my X-rays and went a little pale. On the one hand, I was wildly relieved that whatever was causing my cross-eyed complaining was visible on film. On the other, I wish my problems had been a little more camera-shy. The stupefying outcome of this appointment: apparently, I haven’t been complaining enough.

I know. I didn’t see that coming.

Side-by-side Drusy-to-Sweetpea size comparison.

Pete and I took stock of our situation and did what anyone would do: we went shopping. We obsessively scoured the intertoobz for stationary bicycles and non-skid footwear for yoga and pilates. Then we went out and sat on a score of stationary bikes and finally we bought one, which turned out to be the cheapest one we saw anywhere. I bought two pair of new sneakers with sturdy treads, and that was good news for little black cats who fit perfectly into boxes the size of two of my shoes.

Exercise has always been the answer. I’m going to need non-skid yoga gloves.

And I Don’t Even Know Their Names

A girl and her trebuchet.

Princess Drusy, she of the fawn-like legs and kissy disposition, loves to share a glass of water with her favorite humans. I oblige her by pouring eight to twelve ounces of her preferred potable into widemouth glasses, taking a sip myself and setting them down where she will find them. She sweetly obliges me by drinking, drinking, drinking and wandering off to be wonderful elsewhere – unless I too am on the move. Then Drusy must know where and why, especially if it might involve the bathroom and another drink from the sink.

And Another Child Grows Up To Be

The giant kitten wants me all to herself. That should come as no surprise to you since all of the cats want me all to themselves. I’m like a rock star to them.

This is not my cat. I lack the fu of Photoshop that everyone in the whole world seems to have now. Even so, every morning, the giant kitten I call Sweetpea and Pete calls Attila the Adorable Hun decides at an indecent hour that it is time for me to wake up. If the bedroom door has been open all night, this decision is delivered in the form of a 14 pound cat landing on my head which, you’ll be pleased to hear, is irresistably delicious. If the bedroom door has been closed all night, Sweetpea bashes her head against the door in a manner that suggests I might need a bigger boat.

Or maybe I should quit chumming before bedtime, I can’t say. In the old days of tiny Topaz and swift Drusy’s heartwrenchingly adorable and terrifying kitteny morning rampages, I could shut the bedroom door and pout that they might miss me. Now I worry that I might be causing a kitty concussion. I bet the Beatles felt the same way.

Without Ever Knowing the Way

Edith and Andy in Guatemala, 1976

Today is the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Answers.com:

The worst factory fire in the history of New York City occurred on March 25, 1911, in the Asch building, where the Triangle Shirtwaist Company occupied the top three of ten floors. Five hundred women, mostly Jewish immigrants between thirteen and twenty-three years old, were employed there. The owners had locked the doors leading to the exits to keep the women at their sewing machines. In less than fifteen minutes, 146 women died. The event galvanized support for additional efforts to be made to increase safety in the workplace. It also garnered support for labor unions in the garment district, and in particular for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

Crooks and Liars, 24 March 2009:

Lanny Davis enlisted by Big Business to promote a “Third Way” Corporate Compromise on EFCA

Money never misses a chance to lock the doors and let us burn.

Stories Of the Tour Unfold Booking Agents

My brother forwarded a collection of images of outstanding test failures. I liked this one very much. It reminded me of the Little Prince’s drawing that was not a hat. Physics, you see, must be full of elephants we can’t see.

Last week, I had an appointment with a sports medicine specialist because regular doctors have different goals than I do. For instance, I believe I should be able to dance until I turn a gilded 100, though medical professionals regard this as evidence of a fantasy-prone personality. It’s hard to convince doctors you, as the user of your body, might know something about what’s wrong with it, but I managed with the sports medicine specialist. He was very serious about the narrowing of channels and calcification, radiating pain and “bone remodeling” – in fact, he was so serious that when he mentioned the hip joints appeared impact damaged I didn’t make a joke. I didn’t make a joke about going back to my first love, the trampoline – or being one. I passed up the line about going from speed dating to carbon dating. I even kept my trap shut when I wondered if my hip joints could be replaced with Slinkys. I smiled a lot and made an appointment for physical therapy.

When Every Day Your Secrets End

Topaz, Queen of the Jungle.

When everything else goes straight to Hell, Pete and I still have Sundays. Pete’s a cyclist and it’s finally warm enough for him to spend an hour this morning on the bike trails along the canal. I skipped an exercise class in favor of rowing upstairs in the attic and discovered the cats love the baker’s rack by a south-facing window and mid-morning sunbeam naps. Rowing makes a racket on the ancient machine but Drusy dozed the whole half hour. I crept downstairs to retrieve the camera but turned around and found her at my heels. Knowing it is totally irresistible to pussycats, I marched all the way back up to the attic and plunked down on the floor, which was like calling the cats through the anchovy phone.

A Line That Goes Here That Rhymes With Anything

So I’m tooling around FDL and I read this cheery post by Christy Hardin Smith. La la la la Obamas plant a garden at the White House hooray!

The Obamas will plant a garden at the White House, the first since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during WWII. Now that is some change I can fully believe in:

And then I made the mistake of clicking through to the happy article about the happy visit to the White House of some wholesome common sense and I fully expect to see Alice Waters dancing on a table, and I read these words in this order in the motherfucking Washington Post:

President Obama famously learned the political perils of being too familiar with “elite” vegetables such as arugula.

I’d worry more about Obama learning the political perils of being too familiar with “elite” vegetables like Timothy Geithner, who may yet turn out to be a member of the Animal Kingdom. Jesus Donkeypunching Christ, “elite” vegetables? “ELITE” VEGETABLES?

Okay, let’s take this slowly for the They Come Out Of A Can crowd: when seeds and fertilizer love each other in a certain way, in the presence of water and dirt and with sunshine and time, little sprouts turn into bushes, trees and vines that flower and fruit, and – voila! – vegetables ripen, from the lowly potato – though not the potatoe – to majestic corn. Arugula is freaking lettuce. Everyone’s eaten lettuce. Italians everywhere have just decided not to invite the reporter to dinner, fearful of exposing Ms Jane Black to an “elitist” wheat dish called macaroni.

In an unrelated bit of eye-opening hogwash, someone “owns” Colorado’s rainwater, and has for more than 100 years.

But according to the state of Colorado, the rain that falls on [Kris] Holstrom’s property is not hers to keep. It should be allowed to fall to the ground and flow unimpeded into surrounding creeks and streams, the law states, to become the property of farmers, ranchers, developers and water agencies that have bought the rights to those waterways.

What Holstrom does is called rainwater harvesting. It’s a practice that dates back to the dawn of civilization, and is increasingly in vogue among environmentalists and others who pursue sustainable lifestyles. They collect varying amounts of water, depending on the rainfall and the vessels they collect it in. The only risk involved is losing it to evaporation. Or running afoul of Western states’ water laws.

Those laws, some of them more than a century old, have governed the development of the region since pioneer days.

“If you try to collect rainwater, well, that water really belongs to someone else,” said Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress. “We get into a very detailed accounting on every little drop.”

Frank Jaeger of the Parker Water and Sanitation District, on the arid foothills south of Denver, sees water harvesting as an insidious attempt to take water from entities that have paid dearly for the resource.

“Every drop of water that comes down keeps the ground wet and helps the flow of the river,” Jaeger said. He scoffs at arguments that harvesters like Holstrom only take a few drops from rivers. “Everything always starts with one little bite at a time.”

What what what? What what? An insidious attempt to take water from entities that have paid dearly for the resource – I read that over and over. Stealing water from the sky. Stealing it. From the sky. What in glamorous tarnation is going on in that man’s head?

Organic farmers and urban dreamers aren’t the only people pushing to legalize water harvesting. Developer Harold Smethills wants to build more than 10,000 homes southwest of Denver that would be supplied by giant cisterns that capture the rain that falls on the 3,200-acre subdivision. He supports the change in Colorado law.

“We believe there is something to rainwater harvesting,” Smethills said. “We believe it makes economic sense.”

Collected rainwater is generally considered “gray water,” or water that is not reliably pure enough to drink but can be used to water yards, flush toilets and power heaters. In some states, developers try to include a network of cisterns and catchment pools in every subdivision, but in others, those who catch the rain tend to do so covertly.

In Colorado, rights to bodies of water are held by entities who get preference based on the dates of their claims. Like many other Western states, Colorado has more claims than available water, and even those who hold rights dating back to the late 19th century sometimes find they do not get all of the water they should.

“If I decide to [take rainwater] in 2009, somewhere, maybe 100 miles downstream, there’s a water right that outdates me by 100 years” that’s losing water, said Kevin Rein, assistant state engineer.

State Sen. Chris Romer found out about this facet of state water policy when he built his ecological dream house in Denver, entirely powered by solar energy. He wanted to install a system to catch rainwater, but the state said it couldn’t be permitted.

“It was stunning to me that this common-sense thing couldn’t be done,” said Romer, a Democrat. He sponsored a bill last year to allow water harvesting, but it did not pass.

“Welcome to water politics in Colorado,” Romer said. “You don’t touch my gun, you don’t touch my whiskey, and you don’t touch my water.”

Romer and Republican state Rep. Marsha Looper introduced bills this year to allow harvesting in certain circumstances. Armed with a study that shows that 97% of rainwater that falls on the soil never makes it to streams, they propose to allow harvesting in 11 pilot projects in urban areas, and for rural users like Kris Holstrom whose wells are depleted by drought.

Could Michelle Obama install some rain barrels, too?

Seriously, last weekend, I stood at the customer service counter the Lowe’s on Route 18 in East Brunswick, NJ and explained to five different employees, with various titles on their Hi, I’m ____ name tags, that I would like to be able to walk into their embarrassingly huge garden section and walk out with rain barrels. I need at least four of them, I explained, and to have them shipped to my house would cost as much as a fifth rain barrel. I would prefer, I repeated and repeated, to pay Lowe’s for rain barrels and leave. Not one of them saw there might be some profit to Lowe’s to carry the very specific thing a customer was asking to buy four of. No, really.

Manager: At corporate, they don’t think it’s a good idea to carry something we might sell only once a year.
Tata: Water is expensive. This is a good guard against drought, and you have a lot of small farms around here.
Manager: Maybe you could try our website.
Tata: Did you not hear me explain about the shipping charges? I want to be able to come here, pick out the kind I want, pay you and leave. I want to be able to look at them and see them before they are at my house.
Manager: Some things are just decided at corporate.
Tata: Well, they decided wrongly.

I feel kind of silly hoping simple, obvious things can go right.

I’ll Give You Everything I Have In My Hand

Why bother disguising your racism when you can parade is all over the front page?

“People here are afraid of the police,” said Terry Willis, vice president of the Homer branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. “They harass black people, they stop people for no reason and rough them up without charging them with anything.”

That is how it should be, responded Homer Police Chief Russell Mills, who noted the high rates of gun and drug arrests in the neighborhood.

“If I see three or four young black men walking down the street, I have to stop them and check their names,” said Mills, who is white. “I want them to be afraid every time they see the police that they might get arrested.

“We’re not out there trying to abuse and harass people – we’re trying to protect the law-abiding citizens locked behind their doors in fear.”

This is bullshit cowardice, as everyone knows deep down, and it never, never ends well.

On the last afternoon of his life, Bernard Monroe was hosting a cookout for family and friends in front of his dilapidated home in this small northern Louisiana town.

Throat cancer had left the 73-year-old retired electric utility worker unable to talk, but family members said he clearly was enjoying the commotion of a dozen of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren cavorting in the grassless yard.

Then the Homer police showed up, two white officers whose arrival caused the participants at the black family’s gathering to fall silent.

This is pretty bad. The chief wants black people to be afraid when they see cops. Well, mission accomplished:

Four witnesses said he was sitting outside his home in the late afternoon on Feb. 20 — clutching a large sports-drink bottle — when two police officers pulled up and summoned over his son, Shawn.

Shawn Monroe, who has a long record of arrests and convictions on charges of assault and battery but was not wanted on any warrants, reportedly ran into the house.

One of the officers, who had been on Homer’s police force only a few weeks, chased after him and reappeared moments later in the doorway, the witnesses said.

Meanwhile, the elder Monroe had started walking toward the front door. When he got to the first step on the porch, the witnesses said, the rookie officer opened fire, striking Monroe several times.

“He just shot him through the screen door,” said Denise Nicholson, a family friend who said she was standing a few feet away. “After [Monroe] was on the ground, we kept asking the officer to call an ambulance, but all he did was get on his radio and say, ‘Officer in distress.’ “

The witnesses said the second officer picked up a handgun that Monroe, an avid hunter, always kept in plain sight on the porch for protection. Using a latex glove, the officer grasped the gun by its handle, the witnesses said, and ordered everyone to back away. The next thing they said they saw was the gun next to Monroe’s body.

“I saw him pick up the gun off the porch,” Marcus Frazier said. “I said, ‘What are you doing?’ The cop told me, ‘Shut the hell up, you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ “

Homer police maintain Monroe was holding a loaded gun when he was shot, but would not comment further.

Oh. My. God. These people aren’t even good at being bad. They’re just racist fucks. Fortunately, because they’ve attracted the attention of the Feds.

Now the Louisiana State Police, the FBI and the Justice Department are swarming over this impoverished lumber town of 3,800, drawn by allegations from numerous witnesses that police killed Monroe without justification – and then moved a gun to make it look like he had been holding it.

“We are closely monitoring the events in Homer,” said Donald Washington, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Louisiana. “I understand that a number of allegations are being made that, if true, would be serious enough for us to follow up on very quickly.”

You know where we might apply some stimulus funds? To hiring investigators and prosecutors to protect us from jackbooted thugs of all kinds, but especially from thugs passing for public servants. I can’t wait to watch the judicial system turn the incarceration industry inside out and put bad cops on the inside.