Friday, September 26, 2008

bother

There's a good reason, I guess, that I've always used flickr for image hosting for pics shown here: trying to upload direct to the blog is giving me fits of frustration!! Blogger, my picture is horizontal, quit flipping it on is side, why don't ya?! Gah.

Which picture, you ask? Well, the one that sums up a nice little post I have fading in my head, about our camping trip last week, about my boy (who is a dear and -almost- everything he does charms me wholly), about a moment I want to remember.

So maybe I can figure out the trouble and try again later. I feel thwarted from every direction these days, like the dumbest details are more complicated than they should be and why bother anyway?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

psst. . .

I'm still here. (that old refrain). I let my flickr account expire and while I still have a smidge of storage space available for my demoted-back-to-free account's monthly storage allotment, I must say that the limit is looming over me like the clouds which will, surely, roll in soon enough here. But right now, lately, it's all blue skies and soft breezes and the most perfect last hurrah weather ever before Fall sets in. I like all of the seasons, but the change from Winter to Spring and then the following cusp between Summer and Autumn enchant me, woo me, win me most of all.

And what does an expired pro flickr account (does the 'pro' label make you chuckle down deep like it does me? maybe pro for prolific, but if it's pro for professional, then i guess they've overestimated the effect of pandering to one's hopeful aspirations, because my quick, unpracticed snaps are as amateur as they get) have to do with not posting in this little bloggy space? Nothing, really, just that the pictures are out of synch now and I don't remember what I wanted to write about or punctuate with a photo, anyway.

This weekend has seen (so far, it's only Saturday, after all), so many diced tomatoes and coaxing a kitten back from the brink of death. I might share more, later, about the former but regarding the latter, let it be known that the healing properties of a young, tenderhearted girl can not be discounted and don't believe everything a veterinarian office tells you, anyway. Little Binx took a real bad turn the other day and, after strong antibiotics and zero response, the same little cat we were at somber "keep comfortable" stage with yesterday, is purring happily, bright-eyed, on my husband's lap right now. It's amazing what a difference a day can make.

And, now, instead of doing something necessary and practical like emptying the memory card on the rebel or washing the rest of the dinner dishes or finding a home for all that laundry on the rocking chair in my bedroom, I think it's going to be Season 2 of Big Love on the portable dvd player, in the bed with the lights out, and maybe a cup of bedtime tea. Oh, it's herbal tea and I brush my teeth first.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

veritable smorgasbord

Hold onto your hat, because I'm about to reveal something astonishing. But, in true april-fashion, I'll give the whole languid segue first, the meandering backstory that has you tapping your foot and hoping I hurry up and get to the point already. In this case, it's that I have a nasty habit of comparing everything in terms of Oregon and Arizona. I don't mean to stack such different places against each other in some neverending, unfair battle, but being that I've lived, in my current adult family life set-up, in only those two distinct places, it's hard not to be always making notes, keeping score. But since we only lasted in Arizona for just shy of three years and hightailed it back to the beaver state at first chance (arguably a tad bit too hasty, perhaps), it's easy to guess which state is winning. I love Oregon best and did a shoddy job of hiding my favor while we were in Phoenix, at the expense, I fear, of being something of an Oregon-snob. I didn't mean to curtail every conversation with a haughty, "well, in Oregon. . . " but, it might have gone a little something like that.

So, within that context, you might be surprised to know that I have found something that is unequivocally, without contest, better in Arizona.

The State Fair.

Maybe you're not the fair going type and you don't so much care for any of them. But I'm fond of any place I can wallow around in the sort of base people watching I love best, with canned goods and handicrafts and baby goats, to boot. I love the idea behind the fair, bringing out your best to show off at summer's end. I try not to notice all the airbrushed t-shirts and deep fried on a stick monstrosities, but those have a special place as some kind of modern/retro sociological evidence, too, I suppose.

We went to the Oregon Fair this past Sunday. It showered off an on and we sure did get wet. And despite soggy hair and having to hide the camera away from rain drops (and missing out on the best pics), we had a fine time. Great, even. It was great and enjoyable and all of that. BUT! I couldn't help wishing I was in Arizona. Well, not exactly, since the state fair there doesn't happen until the first week of October (when it's less likely to hit a solid 110 by late afternoon).

The difference between the two events is exactly the reverse of what you'd expect, or at least, the opposite of what fits tidily into my general sweeping judgments these two places I've called Home.

There are more vendors, more stuff for sale, more Super Amazing! products, hands down, at the Oregon fair and remarkably fewer handmade items and canned foods and acrylic yarn afghans on display here. There seems to be, in Oregon, a stronger representation from 4-H groups and not a lot of offerings from independent children. This was disappointing. It was thrilling two years ago to be wandering up and down through the children's art exhibits and see other students from my girl's same art teacher. (as a really random aside: we miss her art classes almost more than we miss anything else. If Larry every stumbles on this humble blog here, I implore him to move within a doable drive of my little house. ha!). Of course, we weren't expecting to find any familiar names among the photographs and textiles, but we also weren't expecting to see such a puny offerering. Like, no collections! In Arizona, there's a whole building dedicated to showing off of individuals' collections: stamps and kewpie dolls and whatever else you think someone might collect and want to show off, in glass display cases, in a dusty fairground building. I totally eat that stuff up.

And there's stuff for sale in Arizona, don't get me wrong, and sleepy toothless carnies heckling to win one for the kiddies, but that ilk pales in contrast to the cake decorating demonstrations and mineral exhibits and hands-on activities for children. It's not even that I'm opposed to a hefty dose of Fair Only! For Sale specials, super absorbent shammy cloths and quick and brite cleaner and, may my Grandmother rest in peace, the Vita Mix mixer. Seriously, about the Vita-Mix: I have in my possession, but not in current use, a stainless steel vintage seventies jobbie that mimics, precisely, the same lovely unit that my father uses every day and which he purchased at the State Fair of New Mexico before I was even born. Since you don't know my dad at all, you'll have to trust me when I tell you that any appliance that withstands his use on a daily basis for three decades is worth whatever exorbitant price it might have cost at the time. Now, my old vita-mix is not functional, it's been a couple years since I used it regularly (the Oster blender from Target I picked up is a sad, sad replacement) and I miss it. So it was with great interest and true enthusiasm that I stood in the crowd and watched the VitaMix guy whiz up cabbage and fruit and ice and whatever else into something "like sorbet" and then wait, impatiently, for my own tiny paper cup sample.

I love the Fair!

But for all my excitement, there was something lacking the other day. The carnival rides were embarrassing. I mean, let me state right now that if I were the CEO of Funtastic Rides in Portland, I'd be embarrassed. The Ferris Wheel, so small! A State Fair begs for one of those Giant Wheels, the ones that goggle eyes and make children second guess their own bravery in line. But the wheel at the Oregon Fair was the same wheel you might see at any neighborhood carnival and was, I am almost certain, the exact wheel that stood over the carnival of my little town's summer festival. Little town carnivals and State Fair carnivals should not be the same and while I know any midway is nothing but many variations on the same spinning theme, a good midway will at least entice a nine year old and I can tell you right now that my nine year old was not enticed at all, but rode along on the roundy roundy dumptruck ride and the upsie downsie firetruck ride on account of pleasing her little brother.

The corn we bought was boiled, not roasted. The nerve! We pack our own snacks, generally, but might be tempted into one or two little things that don't entirely upset our gastronomical sensibilities. We shared a piece of pie but even the kettle corn seemed inferior (we walked by).

Man, who even thinks about one state's fair versus another? And then writes about it? You'd think it was somebody who didn't have anything else to do, and not some person trying to play big money, big money (or at least, higher number, higher number!) with the pedometer and who just printed out a recipe for pita bread and is going to try to make some now, on account of having all that hummus whizzed up in the fridge and nothing to eat it with.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

the numbers don't lie

pedometer

Didn't fast food restaurants start handing out pedometers instead of french fries a few years ago? I seem to recall a marketing blitz direct from the golden arches down to the hoi polloi about step counting. I'm not much for the company of Grimace and Ronald, though, so I can't be sure. I do think that it's been a while since these little gadgets were everywhere and while I like to pretend I'm ahead of the trends (all day aprons, wait for it!), sometimes I roll into the party seconds before last call (uh, Facebook, anyone?).

I guess I'm just curious about how much I walk every day. I *feel* busy. I fall into bed sometimes and think I haven't sat down much all day. But perception is a tricky beast and it was time for some sort of tangible evidence. The husband picked up this little pedometer for me months ago, but I didn't get around to opening it up and trying it out until yesterday.

I didn't remember to clip it on until after I'd changed out of my pajamas, so I missed the whole fixing breakfast, starting the morning hour. And then I tried to forget about it. It's really tiny so that was easy to do. I wanted to see what a normal day was like. Give or take.

"They" say 10,000 steps is a decent goal, right? I don't know for whom this goal is decent, for your averagely healthy and fit person? For someone with a strict appointment with every judge show on daytime television and the world's largest collection of empty dorito bags? Who? I guess it's just an average person.

I must be pretty average, then. By the time bedtime drew close, I was just topping out over ten thousand. Which means that I'm not sedentary (I think I knew that already) but that I should probably make a higher goal, if I want this to be about improved fitness.

Although if I'm being candid here (which, frankly, uh, this isn't my completely candid place and I'm all about the soft focus lens here, so I might still shoot from the hip, but it's cotton balls I'm shooting, I think.) then I'll admit that I didn't hit the 10K mark today. It was a drive into the city day, though, which eats up an hour each way of my time and gives my wallet, and not my legs, a good run. I sat on a blanket, or stood in the shade, at the park and chatted with other mothers of my persuasion and watched the children play. A nice afternoon, but not much walking. I really did think I'd make it up come dinner making and house tidying and all the other things that happen around here in the evening, but I didn't. Maybe on account of some not-what-we-were-hoping for news today there was a thick, oozy pall cast, stepping through which took considerable effort.

I'll give it a go again tomorrow. Clip the little ticker on my pocket and see what happens. Oddly, even though I haven't really tried yet to amend my normal stepping, wearing the pedometer has already made me more aware, somehow, of walking, how every regular old step can add up. And even if this information doesn't add one iota to my general fitness level, it's an interesting tidbit to throw around during awkward lulls in conversations. I don't suppose I can find a discrete little counter for totting up accidental non-sequiturs. Yeah, probably not.

Monday, September 01, 2008

crazy cat people

another kitty

I've got such a backlog of blog entries taking up space in my brain (not paying rent, but I''m not committed enough to evict them) that I never got around to mentioning here (I don't think?) about the kitten I brought home for my girl on the Saturday before Memorial Day. If you know my girl, you know that she loves cats. Our old lumpy, furry feline, Cozy, came into our family (as an already grown and predictable cat) because the girl, when she was still just two years old, couldn't stop talking about getting a cat. But that was seven years ago and within the last several months, my girl started wishing audibly for "a little black kitten with green eyes to call me own" (insert your own fake Irish brogue). I flirted with the idea around the time of her 9th birthday, in January, but decided it wasn't the right time (I wasn't so sold on the idea myself). But once Spring inched into Summer, I knew there wouldn't be a better time, so I responded to a craigslist post and half an hour later (whisper out loud that you might want a kitten and they practically fall from the sky) we had a tiny (so tiny!) little Ozma. Named by the girl as a nod to one of her favorite book series, that little kitten is nearly full grown now. It's true what they say about kittens! They turn into cats, and fast! She was fuzzy when she was little but's so sleek now, like a panther; her green eyes turned yellower and yellower. And with two of them (and a dog, to boot, maybe don't get me started on the dog, we're at odds, and I feel no guilt at all because you know what? we've had her for eleven years and most marriages these days don't last so long) I thought we were at capacity. Full. Finished. The end.

But let's say it's a quarter til six on a Tuesday morning and your phone rings. You answer groggily, waking up from a weird dream about an overful animal shelter (no joke!) and hear, on the other end, your husband. And he doesn't know what to do. About the kitten he's holding. That he just pulled out of the engine compartment of his car. Because when he stopped for a red light, he heard mewing.

You tell him to bring it here. What else? And when he arrives back, at dawn, a few minutes later, you get a towel and some water and set the pitiful little animal up in the garage with the side door open (maybe it will go home?).

But pitiful, bony animals with fleas and weepy eyes, dull hair and lethargy don't have a home.

I posted adds on craigslist and no one answered (surprise!). We asked around and the neighbors didn't know anything. We left, as a overhanging question mark, the option of taking him to a shelter. We didn't need another cat! We just went, after nearly seven years, from one to two. Isn't that enough? But the shelters are so full! And we're such softies. It's true.

It's amazing what a little kindess and good food will do. And in a few days, the pitiful animal perked up and became a very normal little kitten, a sweet gray and white boy about (oh, I'm guessing here) ten weeks old. What we mistook for sickness was probably just hunger and today he's just as playful as any kitten. Just as playful but, oh, so much sweeter. Probably the sweetest little cat I've ever known.

The husband, who feels a particular bond from pulling him out from around a hot engine and burning up his own hand in the process, took to calling the little guy Tom Kitten. But I decided (with really no vote, sometiemes I just pound my gravel and say something is so) to call him Binx. Binx Bolling, but who can be so formal with a cat? The husband feels a special kinship from being the rescuer (no doubt the kitten would have died had he not been pulled out right then) but I felt a bond from first from being the namer (but, then, I'm a namer of all things and enjoy the process quite a lot, be it a kid or a cat or a car) and, later, because he really is sweeter than any cat I've yet to know.

He's in my lap as I type, filled-out and clear-eyed, fur clean and soft, whiskers starting to regrow (they were all singed off in the car), purring contentedly. The love-iest kitty of all lovey cats. It's been two weeks now since he's been here.

I think he's staying.