Saturday, November 28, 2009

2676 Why not?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Section 1.10.32 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum", written by Cicero in 45 BC: "One does not reject, dislike, or avoid pleasure itself because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful."


Today was supposed to be a quiet day. Lunch at noon with the 50+ (age, not count) Professional Women's Meetup group at Foster's in Rhinebeck, then I planned to take Suzie to Valvoline for an oil transfusion, then home to shovel dust bunnies and crack a whip over paper piles. Or take a nap - whatever.

Instead, I met a Ms. O at lunch, and after lunch we did a bit of window shopping, some people watching on a bench in the middle of town (Rhinebeck is an overgrown but very ritzy touristy village - I think there's only one traffic light) where we talked about men and how complicated they make life, but they sure are nice to have around, then to her friend Ms. L's house in Rhinebeck for tea and brownies, then the three of us headed off to a festival in Rhinecliff.

Sinterklaas (Dutch Santa Claus) was to arrive by boat at the Rhinecliff Hudson River boat landing, with all kinds of dancing and drumming, to start off a week or two or whatever of festivals and displays and performances all around Rhinebeck and Rhinecliff. (I picked up a booklet describing what all is planned, but haven't read it yet.)

There are railroad tracks between Rhinecliff and the river, so pedestrians get to the landing by going up two+ flights, crossing, then back down. We must have crossed back and forth three times. Ms. L was cold (wind!) so we'd head for the Rhinecliff Hotel, then something interesting would start at the landing, so we'd go back, shake, stir, repeat. I got some exercise.

Sinterklaas turned out to be a statue of Santa mounted on a white horse, who arrived on a small sparkling winged boat, and was hoisted high and carried around the streets like a patron saint, to dancing, drumming, and cheers. (The Wikipedia link above mentions that he's supposed to arrive by boat from Spain. I guess Port Ewen, across the river, is Spain for a day.)

We then managed to get a table in the packed bar of the hotel, got some drinks, flirted randomly, managed to capture a man*, and then the four of us repaired to the dining area for dinner. I got home a little after nine. Pretty darn good for a nothing day.

*The "capture" was funny. Ms. O had been married for nearly 40 years, divorced recently and moved from Florida to here, and is just getting back into dating, and says she doesn't know how to flirt. She noticed three nice-looking men at the bar, pointed out that we were three women, so she asked me "How can we get them to join us?" She really liked the looks of the guy in the hunting jacket. I laughed and said, "You walk up to him and say, 'Would you care to join us?'" She caught his eye, crooked her finger, he came over, and she asked if he'd like to join us. By damn it really was that simple! By the end of dinner he was patting her arm when he spoke to her. Call me Cupid.

The pedestrian bridge, Rhinecliff Hotel in the background:

This is some of the "mummers", who made a lot of noise and generally raised hell. My comment - "looks like Mardi Gras".

Sinterklaas arrives. If you look carefully, you'll see him below the stars and flag.

O and L:


Friday, November 27, 2009

2675 Darkness

Friday, November 27, 2009

What bothers me about God is that He hates arrogance so much,
but doesn't seem to mind cruelty.
-- Paraphrased from Elaine May and Mike Nichols (actress and director) --


I went to a movie in Albany this afternoon, "Fantastic Mr. Fox". We got out of the movie about 5:30 or 6 pm and went to a pub for dinner. I cracked up when S. asked the waitress if the kitchen was still open. It was so dark, cold, and windy out that he thought it was 9 or 10 pm.


I must be a little more depressed than I thought I was.

I do almost all my small dry goods shopping online these days. I have rules - if I find an item I want, if it's under $20 I'll just buy it. Between $20 and $30 I'll buy it if it's unique. If it's over $30 I think about whether I really want it, and if so I comparison shop, and by the time I've done that, I've often changed my mind.

When I'm depressed all bets are off. Somebody mentions a book or a CD or a movie, and I'm off to Amazon. Somebody mentions a lipstick, and I'm off to look it up. Switched mentions an application or a gadget, and I'm clicking on the link. Woot is my best friend. And so on.

Apparently I'm finding a lot of <$20 items, or a lot of unique items, or I'm depressed. I am finding "shipping confirmation" emails in my inbox, and I have no idea what they are for, no immediate memory of having bought whatever it is. Today's item was described as "Sequin high-neck black M". It took me a long while to figure out that it was a kurta I'd ordered a few days ago. This one:
It was $22 at this site: I think it sneaked past because it's pretty unique. (I might hem it at mid-hip, about where the model's right ring finger is, depending on how it looks on me.)

Anyway, until I followed the link in the email, I wasn't sure what it referred to.

I may be doing this on purpose - buying little things and then forgetting what I bought - because then when surprises arrive in the mail or are dropped on the doorstep, it's like getting a present.

[The site above,, has lots of pretty kurti at more than reasonable prices.]

2674 She of the thundering feet

Friday, November 27, 2009

"One parent can support ten children,
but ten children cannot support one parent."
--- Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz --


Miss Thunderfoot died at about 1:30 am, yesterday morning.

For ten days I'd been thinking every day that she wouldn't make it through the night. I haven't much left the house for the past week. She'd been alternating between a box on a heating pad in the kitchen during the day and a towel bed in the shower stall at night (a spot she chose), and Wednesday afternoon she disappeared. I couldn't find her in any of the usual places and she didn't answer when I called. About 5 pm, Jasper told me that something was wrong with the litter box, and I found that Thunder had collapsed in the litter.

I was sad that her last attempt to move had been to use the litter box. Such a good little girl.

I sat next to her that night. I didn't attempt to hold her - she never liked being touched anywhere but the top of her head, she loved strokes between her ears - so I sat on the floor next to the nest box in the kitchen and stroked her head as her breathing got slower and slower.


When I moved in with Jay in 1994, I brought two dogs and a cat with me. Siddy Kitty (formally Obsidian) died three years later at age 20. Jay wanted to go get another cat immediately, but I told him, "No. That's not how cats work. You can keep your eye out for a cat, but the right one will come to you, reach out a claw and snag you. You don't choose cats. They choose you."

He watched the newspaper and called a few times for kittens, but they were always already spoken for. Obviously not the right kitties.

Then one day I saw an ad on the bulletin board in the grocery store, "found cat", with a photo. It was a small gray and white longhair. The guy who'd found her said he couldn't keep her. I waited a few days, and then called the number. I told him it wasn't my cat, but if her owners didn't claim her, I'd take her. It turned out the guy worked in the village pet shop, and I knew him. A few days later she came home with me, and when she saw Jay, she acted like she recognized him and was happy to be reunited with him. She wouldn't let me touch her, but she spent hours purring on his lap.

The pet shop guy, the vet, and I all thought at first that she was very young, because she was so small and had changeable eyes. Some days her eyes were white, some days palest blue, occasionally pastel green or yellow-tinted. But mostly white. That usually means young. Apparently not - her eyes never darkened, and she never grew any larger. She also showed no interest in any toys, not the jingly balls, or the catnip cigar, not even trailing strings. Now I think she must have been a few years old, maybe even fully mature. She'd been spayed, and she already knew about not scratching furniture.

Jay wanted to give her a regal feminine name, like Princess, or Lady, and he tried a few names, but they just didn't work. I told him, "No, that's not how cats work. You can think about names, but you don't name cats. Cats name themselves." She was very regal, and very feminine, quiet and ladylike, polite, but one thing that made us laugh was the way she'd run down the hall when she heard food. There's a thick plush carpet in the hall, over dense foam padding, and then an oriental rug on top. And yet, when she heard food, it sounded for all the world like a bowling ball on hardwood. Rumble rumble rumble. I still don't know how she did it. She became Miss Thunderfoot, and it fit her.

It also fit because both of our dogs were afraid of thunder, and they both respected her.

She'd obviously had a rough life. The pet shop guy said he found her outside the grocery store. She was rubbing at the legs of people going into and coming out of the store and meowing, obviously asking for food, begging to be taken home. He said he felt especially sorry for her because people were kicking her away.

She had some broken and badly healed bones. Her left front leg bent oddly inward at the wrist, and her right hip had a dent. Her ribs were rippled, like some had been broken.

She also had a bad skin condition. She had large wens, bumps, under the skin of her sides and back. They didn't grow, or drain, they were just there. The vet said they were probably filled with sebum, and he could cut and drain them, but they'd just come back. She didn't like them touched.

She had terrible fur. Her fur was ratty, thick and thin patches (my vet described her as "motheaten"). Her tail was ridiculous - long hair at the bottom and a few inches of the tip, then thin short hair, almost bald, in the middle few inches. She shed like no animal I'd ever seen. Jay used to say that if we saved three day's worth of shed fur, we could build a whole new cat. No exaggeration. It was hard to believe she could produce that much fur. It came out in chunks, everywhere she moved, everywhere she sat or lay. She'd be asleep for an hour, and when she got up there'd be two handfuls of fur left behind. The wens meant you couldn't get ahead of the fur by combing her, and there was no way to get a vaccuum cleaner within yards of her.

She loved Jay dearly. She was his shadow. In his last months she didn't leave his side. Her place was under the hospital bed, under his head. She'd tell me when he awoke during the night. It was several months after he died before she would allow me to touch her, and a year before she began sleeping on my bed at night.

I think I know what probably happened. Some couple had adopted a beautiful little long-haired gray tuxedo kitten, who grew into a quiet and polite little cat - a cat who was motheaten and no longer pretty, and who shed horribly all over the place. The male of the couple saw no problem and was good to the cat. The female got more and more frustrated at cleaning up after the sea of shedding. There were yells and kicks, and finally a furtive dropping off in the village. "Gee, I don't know where she is, Dear. Maybe she ran away...."

She came to the right place. I've never had a horror of dirt, hairballs, or dust bunnies, and there was a man here to love her.

She was a good little girl.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2673 Proclamation

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Next to great joy, no state of mind is so frolicsome as great distress.
-- Henry James, A Most Extraordinary Case --


Abraham Lincoln's proclamation establishing Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday:


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2672 Link to saying it

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One who considers himself a victim of circumstance
is more often a prisoner of his own decisions.


This post by a lawyer in Philadelphia expresses some of my own feelings, especially the quoted letter.


Later edit - the comments on Field's post are starting to pile up. I found this one interesting:
Race Traitoress said...


"Thank goodness a bunch of Rastafarians didn't decide to blow up the World Trade Center. Because if they did, and George Bush was in power, Jamaica would be nothing but a memory."

It was a bunch of Saudis who took down the WTC, yet we didn't invade Saudi Arabia. If Rastafarians had been responsible, we'd have still gone into Iraq. That was the plan all along.

Yep. I agree.

Monday, November 23, 2009

2671 Nat'l Geo Photo Contest

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bumper sticker, 2003: I love my country, but I fear my government.

--------------------------'s photo set today is a selection of entries in the National Geographic photo contest. Some are breathtaking, many are amazing, almost all are beautiful. Number 8 will ruin Niagara Falls for you forever.

2670 Veggies

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light.


I want vegetables! Why is it so hard to get vegetables? I've been eating out a lot lately, and living mostly on doggy bags between outings, and I am veggie deprived. Restaurant meals seem to come with meat and starch, and that's about all. The last dinner was one pound (!!!) of steak (four days of meat), a mountain of fries, and five, that's 5!, lonely string beans on the plate. Yeah, there are salads, but they tend to be mostly lettuce, which doesn't count.

I buy vegetables at the grocery store, but most things I want don't come in small quantities. I'm so tired of throwing out 3/4 of the head of cabbage, most of the bunch of carrots, 80% of the stalk of celery, half the bag of baby spinach, when they shrivel and die. Lately even the things that I used to be able to buy in small quantities, like loose string beans or broccoli spears, aren't sold loose anymore. They are in enormous bags. I suppose it has something to do with disease - they don't want people handling things that don't get peeled.

Frozen vegetables also come in "too much", never "just right". Yeah, I can open a bag and take out what I want, but a) it's not raw, and I want RAW, and b) if I don't finish off the bag quickly once opened, they get icky. I often end up throwing out half the bags.

Grocery store salad bars were wonderful, a boon to single people. I used to get a container, and fill it with a little bit of this, and a little of that, and I'd have two or three days of a variety of veggies to nibble on. Throw in a chunk of cheese, and I was eating well.

Grocery store salad bars seem to be a thing of the past. I don't know whether they were considered to have too much waste, or whether it's the sanitary thing again. Now the stores that used to have salad bars have prepackaged containers of salad instead - mostly lettuce, with a few bits of this and that lying on top. No good at all.

I've been buying the stir-fry mixes and then eating it raw or steamed, and they were good and worked for a while, but lately they seem to be difficult to find, and have become mostly broccoli, which is ok once in a while, but not every day, and so again I end up throwing out half.

I want veggies, without waste. Something like 40% of households are singles living alone. Why has no one noticed us? Why does no one cater to us? Why is it so hard to put a few whatevers in a bag, next to the umpteen pound bags? Give us a choice?


Later update: I went to the grocery store, stared balefully at the huge bunches, boxes, and bags of fresh vegetables, and then hit the frozen foods section. Lean Cuisine dinners, my plan B, include veggies.

This evening for dinner I am having LC butternut squash-stuffed ravioli, with lots of carrots, green beans, peas, walnuts, and summer squash in the sauce. I'll just shake off most of the sauce.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2669 Saying Nothing

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"There is nothing wrong with having nothing to say ---
unless you insist on saying it."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson --


The quotation above is rather apt. I don't seem to have much of anything to say these days. Maybe it's a sort of depression (I HATE winter), a seasonal affective disorder that won't be fixed with a light bar. It happens every year at about this time. At least this year I've been getting out to movies and dinners, but lately I've been thinking I've been doing too much of that, and I feel more like staying home and hibernating.



At least four times in the past two days I have read or heard highly educated people, people who should know better, express disdain for something by saying, "I could care less."

If they thought for two seconds about what they said, they'd know it should be "I couldn't care less."