Saturday, January 31, 2009

Putting my money where my mouth is

Today a friend of ours sidled up beside me at the counter of the local gathering spot. "Hey,do you know what our new national anthem is?"
"No, what."
"Movin On Up."
I met this with silence and I told him that I didn't much care for what passes for Obama "jokes" and I have made a personal pledge not to pretend to laugh at them just for politeness sake. "However," I said helpfully, "I will still laugh at Norweigan jokes."
"I want to know why people who get all pissed about Obama jokes don't get pissed about Norweigan jokes."
"I'm not pissed, but if you can tell me about any Norweigans who were forcibly taken from their homes and held as slaves for 300 years, lynched on a whim, and denied the right to vote until 1964, I won't laugh at those either."
Maybe some day I'll learn some tact.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter, Begone!

This has been a very, very, very long winter, starting with a snowstorm October 10, a melt and a little respite, and then the day after Thanksgiving wham, it has been cold, snowing, blizzardy, nasty and evil since then. I'm always highly amused when the weatherman on CNN talks about the "brutal cold" when it's 2 degrees in New York City, when here it is -30 and then add a wind chill to that. We haven't had 10 days above freezing between Thanksgiving and now, and that's a long cold spell. And February is usually the ICKY month! My aging scottish terrier has decided he wants to go for a walk so he can do his stuff outside of the yard (which is de riguer in the summer and fall and spring), but the problem is we get half a block away and his feet are so cold I have to carry him. Yes I have those darling boots, but when I put them on him he stands in one spot and shakes, paralyzed. So I get to take him out every hour until he finally relents and will go in the auxillary magic poop spot. I also take care of a group of feral cats and they get watered at least once a day, and I have to portage food in to them as well. This is the first winter I have really had to drag myself to take care of those cats, but I do. And they eat commensurately more just to sustain their body temperature.

Frigid weather takes planning. I have to take 2 of my cats to be neutered tomorrow and they need to be there at 8 in the morning. This is very early for me. Appallingly early. Its dark. Its cold. I will have to go start my car at least half an hour before I dare take off across the tundra - my pampered darlings might catch a chill. In my car I have a goosedown sleeping bag, a couple of blankets, extra clothes and socks, a shovel, a couple of candles and a tin can to burn them in, matches, toilet paper (!) and a deck of cards or a book. If you get stalled on the road or stuck in the snow and can't get yourself out, you hunker down and wait. People who leave their stalled vehicles in the winter in North Dakota die, or lose parts of their bodies they'd prefer to keep. A cell phone will not keep you warm if it is storming too badly for help to get to you. My car always has a heavy-duty battery in it so it starts in all but the very coldest weather, so if I didn't, I'd have to go start my car every couple of hours or so just to keep the engine limbered up. I don't drive after dark if I can help it. But I'm old and not as adventurous as I used to be. Sometimes I even wear socks.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


This is most of my cat collection. I always have company while I'm at the computer. Unfortunately, another of their favorite places to relax is right across the keyboard. This is not conducive to productive work. I think they are too large for their bed, but they don't. Maybe because it is heated? I need to rearrange my desk so they can have an even bigger lounge area. I draw the line at a litter box. There's one missing who is very shy, but she looks just like the little white cat in the top picture. That's because she is his sister. I think it's great how those two on the left posed themselves. The ones on the bottom are way more casual.

These cats, except the tortoise shell with the yellow stripe on her nose, are rescue kittens from a group of ferals I take care of. I'm doing my best to get them all fixed, but it is a daunting and expensive process. The gray and white tabby was so sick with pneumonia that he couldn't outrun me, so home he came. I had him for 3 weeks before I was sure he had both of his eyes. He was a wreck, but he's doing much better now! The aforementioned tortie with the yellow stripe on her nose came from the animal shelter as a friend for the first kitty. I found the white kitten with the black ears after an early snow storm, and I brought him home so he could have a nice warm place to die, which my vet said he would indeed, in 15 or 20 years. He was nothing but skin and bones, literally. I could feel every vertebra. He is beautiful and affectionate and so loving and trusting. I watched the kitten with the intriguing black mask all summer, and when I had the opportunity, I trapped her. She was an older kitten and very suspicious, and disappeared for several days. After living on top of the gun cabinet in my office for 3 weeks, she decided to come down and be sociable, and she is the first one to come sit on my shoulder when I sit on the sofa. She talks too. She has the thickest, softest fur. The little yellow cat being used for a pillow was handed to me by someone who was astonished that he wouldn't eat meat or anything else. It could have been that he was so constipated he couldn't eat anything, and besides, he didn't have any teeth. He has turned into a very laid-back cat. You can pick him up and drape him over your arm like a stole, or he flops over and lays upside down in your arms and purrs like the dickens. Anyway, that is part of the cat herd. Now I'd better get to work, which I have been avoiding.


I live in a small town in ND, and since Barack Obama has been elected and now inaugurated, I am extremely disappointed at the off-hand bigotry and the casual way racist "jokes," and comments are just thrown out there like that is normal speech, and that no one within hearing is disapproving of what they are saying. There are some wonderful things about living in a small town, but this is not one of them. This is a highly partisan Republican section of a very conservative state (the newspaper in the largest town in this area criticized Obama for not "fixing" the sliding stock market a week after he was elected). I am hoping that this is the shock of having Democrats back in charge, and not entirely the fact that President Obama happens to be black.

The new president and his family have so much in common with the collective "us" here in this little burg. They come from modest circumstances and are self-made, value their education and their families, are loyal to their friends, are open and honest about their faith. It will be a shame if we don't learn some tolerance from their example. I think the best thing I can do is not to let these things passed unchallenged. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today my best friend from high school came to my house at 10:30 a.m. and we popped a cork and cried and toasted the new President of the United States. And made rude comments about the departing #43. And Jill Biden's mini-skirt and black boots. And Michelle's bowlegs. I have watched the weekend festivities, mainly on CNN (which is turning into the Cooper News Network, but that's a topic for another day. Or not). There was a subtle difference in the crowd shots behind the reporters or maybe it is just my imagination, but there is such joy and and pride and a sense of belonging in all those faces; a heads-up-and-shoulders-back look of confidence and being at ease. I watched a lot if MLK history yesterday and saw those sad little dull-eyed black children in the newsreels, and compared them with the faces on the children from the Ron Carlson Academy in Atlanta, and the contrast was stunning.

I was 4 or 5 years old in 1963 and I vaguely remember watching the 5:30 news with Walter Cronkite (like scripture in our house!) and seeing those same pictures, and knowing on some level that what was happening was wrong. Being from Lily White North Dakota, I had no concept of race. Later on I learned from my mother that she had been in Georgia during WWII, where she was working in the defense industry. She was riding on a bus, and protested to the driver when a young black woman was ordered to give up her seat for a white person. She told him that the woman's husband was wearing the same uniform as hers, and that woman had as much right to sit in that seat as she did. I think they both got tossed off the bus, but I was always very proud of my mother for standing up for that woman. It did not strike me until recently how courageous, and dangerous, an act that was, in the deep South in 1944, and wondered what possessed a skinny little girl from ND to speak up in that manner.

And now I am proud of our country for doing the right thing by looking past this gifted young man's color and making him our President, and I feel like I can stand up a little taller too.

Holy mackeral, I am older than the President of the United States. Shocking revelation.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Rabid Right

I just read a few posts from a couple of right-wing blogs and I was struck by the vituperation I found in them. You would think that with the evil that had been bestowed upon the world and the nation by Dubya, they would keep a little quiet, but they don't. There is not one scintilla of humility. Rush Windbag wannabees. The right wing likes to call names, I notice, and make mean, nasty, and hateful comments. Here's an imaginary conversation. Lefty: " Barack Obama won the election by a sizeable margin in the popular vote and the electorial college, he has vast good will throughout the country and the world, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the next 4 years will be like." Righty: "You fat bitch."

Translated for Sarah Palin fans:
Vituperation: Haarsh spoken or written abuse; abusive, often with ranting or railing; expression of bitter, deep-seated ill will.

Scintilla: shred; tiny, barely detectible amount.

Rush Windbag: Descriptive nickname for a drugged-out rage peddler who can't get it up. Synonyms: Rush Limpballs, Rush Oxycontinbaugh.

It has occurred to me that there are going to be more people on the mall in Washington DC to witness Barack Obama's inauguration on Tuesday than there are people in North Dakota and South Dakota.

I also read that they are going to have 5000 port-a-potties on the mall for "ticketed" participants. Am I to assume that the "unticketed" participants will have to hang their asses over the curb? Are there going to be toilet concierges to tell you which pottie to use? Will there be first, second, and third-class crappers? Will there be a velvet robe behind which you must stand before you go to your appropriate toidy? I think it would be great. "Now serving number 1. Now serving number 2. Now serving number 1. Now serving number 1. Now serving number 2." et cetera, et cetera. I'm sure that's a logistical nightmare, and I would prefer to stay home and watch the inauguration, and wait for my summons to the White House to invite me to receive the Medal of Freedom for my scintillating work in the blogosphere. (not to be confused with scintilla, SarahPalinFans).

With that I return to work. I'm working 60 hours a week now for two-thirds of the wages I made just a year ago, so you can see I have done so much better under the Bush League. Ta ta for now! It is 29 degrees above zero but the wind is blowing. Still beats the hell out of 40 below.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

No Good Can Come From Getting Up at 5 a.m.

CNN just reported that Israel has dropped white phosphorus bombs on the UN Relief Agency in Gaza. John Ging who is the guy heading that effort in Gaza said he had warned Israel hourly that their shells were getting closer, but apparently that didn't phase them. White phosphorus is a terrorist weapon, plain and simple, and they've been dropping those bombs on innocent Palestinians and denying it. Evil begets evil, and they are sewing the seeds of their own destruction with every child they kill. I am not excusing Hamas, but this is beyond all reason.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Oh my goodness, has it been that long?

I promised myself I was going to keep up with this thing a bit better in the new year and its time to get started. After all, I have missed making so many scintillating and witty comments about the presidential campaign and the election and election night that I can hardly bear to think of all the wonderful thoughts that I never got written down. In fact, I logged in with a perfectly wonderful thought in my mind, and I thought "you have got to start blogging again," logged in, and promptly forgot what it was I was going to write down that was so fabulous. Which leads me to believe it wasn't really so fabulous, because you don't forget fabulous things. You just don't. Witness "Fourscore and seven years ago, et cetera." OH YEAH now I remember. I was listening to CNN talk about Obama's train ride to Washington, where he is going to follow the steps Lincoln took on his way to the White House oh say, 148 years ago, and I was wondering if he was going to do it all to the letter and sneak into Washington in the dead of night wearing a big old cloak. See, it wasn't that fabulous at all. I am just so happy he's going to be president. His election renews my faith in humanity. I wish him and the Country well and I pray for both daily.

By the way, it is 26 degrees below zero with wind chill of minus 51. Just thought I'd throw that in for historical purposes. It is supposed to be minus 35 to minus 40 tonight, and then warm up toward the end of the week, and be above freezing on Monday, for the first time since right after Thanksgiving. This has been the longest cold snap I can remember, and I'm getting old enough to remember a lot of cold winters. I take care of a colony of feral cats living at an old lumber yard here in town, and I feel very sorry for them. I've made them shelters and they have food constantly and water daily, but man, 30 below is 30 below. Two cats have migraded south from the neighbor's 1 block north of here, and have taken up residence in the dog house, which has a heated floor and a little kitty sleeping bag. Really, it came in its own little stuff bag. Every morning I reach in under the covering over the door and pull out their food dish and slap a couple of cans of Friskies' on it, and slide it back under and close the flap. I see little cat tracks heading for the bird bath (open water) and peeholes in the snow, and the cat food disappears, so I know they are alive, but they stay snuggled in pretty good. They are beautiful cats, huge orange cats with long hair and sweet faces. I would have loved to have adopted them and brought them in the house, but they spray everything outside, and I doubt they'd have any compunctions about doing the same in here. So out they stay. They're both fixed and so they don't waste a lot of energy running and fighting, which is to their benefit. Right now I am sharing my office desk with 3 half-grown kittens who are curled up on a little bed they've had since they were little kittens. And that's only half of the ones who live here - I like to tell people I have 4 cats and am fostering 2 more, but the truth of the matter is that I have 6 cats. They're all fixed or will be shortly and have had their shots, so I am not The Cat Lady yet. Yet.