Saturday, December 29, 2007

What I did on my Christmas vacation:

Attempted (unsuccessfully) to take Jayden and Kyan ice skating with Christian and Julie:

Knitted Julie a new hat (to replace this one that SHE LOST.  You may ask why, after losing said charming hat that I knitted for her in painstaking fashion, I would make her another one, and the answer would be because I'm powerless against her.  Just look at that face!  Could you say no?  Didn't think so.  Well, and she'll be freezing in Minneapolis this winter.  I had to have some sympathy.  And, how many people would wear a knitted pineapple?):

Played a fantastic game called Bananagrams (which we're buying, and will most likely be killed at by Rich, the word king) that is like individual Scrabble, and had these particularly breathtaking word combinations:

I'm particularly proud of my "skedaddle-stunner" combo.  Christian's "ingratiated" is pretty impressive, too, as is "taxidermy", especially when coupled with "rhapsody".  Smart boy, what?

I have post-Christmas letdown.  Thankfully, I have a box of See's to get me through.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

And now, for something completely snowy...

It snowed all last night. Three new inches, more expected today. I understand that Seattle had the first white Christmas in many, many years, as well. My soul, she is content.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I hear chuckling from above.

It's been snowing beautifully the past two days. Now, it's raining. All of the intense weather-related emotions I felt as a child that kept me from actually enjoying anything at all unless the weather was perfectly appropriate for the season/holiday/alignment of the planets have dropped back upon me like the safe that killed Marvin Acme. I was so happy and joyful today when we were skating (sort of...more like watching while Julie and Christian propped up Jayden and shoved him around the rink) and it was snowing and now I just want to go to bed and cry. Why do I get so terribly overwrought about the weather at Christmas, you ask? Excellent question, and if anyone can tell me, I'll give them a dollar. If I haven't spent it on liquor in which to numb my sorrow.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Best. Present. Ever.

I'm passing the baton on a grant, and the renewal is due January 1st. Christy, friend and co-worker, is the lucky inheritor of said grant, and, as the submission deadline is a holiday, she called the grant administrator to ask whether they would like it on the 31st or the 2nd. The response? "Eh, we usually are pretty flexible about renewals, so two weeks later, there's no rush. Sometime in January." Huh. This is a first. It would probably be inappropriate but seemingly fitting to send him a bottle of champagne with the paperwork.

Monday, December 10, 2007

There really is no place like it.

Home at last.  We didn't leave Orlando until 6ish EST so we got home latelatelate.  I missed the chickens, so I'm glad we didn't stay longer, but it was still hard to come home.  Man, did reality smack me in the ass this morning.  We have so much skanky laundry and the house is covered in feathers and dust, the Tivo isn't working and we have bills, bills, bills.  I hate it when companies change names without notification.  We received our car insurance bill and I would have pitched it for an ad if it hadn't been so thick as the name had changed to Titan.  Ugh.  I really don't like companies named after giant, evil, god-killing monsters.  Thanks, Nationwide.  
Anyway, WDW was fantastic; we had an amazing time.  The weather varied between lovely and temperate and the inside of Satan's mouth.  The parks were only crowded on our last day, so we decided that, the next time we go, we won't end on a Saturday.  We took the Keys to the Kingdom tour, which rocked our socks, and our guide was Distastic.  It was a little ackworthy to see Jessie from Toy Story without her head, though, in the backstage costuming area.  She was very young and pimply and I don't know that I ever needed to know that.  The evenings that we spent in the Magic Kingdom were some of the best I've ever spent.  I think all of us were a little overwhelmed to see Cinderella's Fairy Godmother at our fancy dinner on Saturday night in the Castle.  That the fireworks were going on outside was merely coals to Newcastle.  

It can be hard to dissect a vacation right after taking it.  Too many images and experiences get jumbled together and any kind of sense of timeline is lost.  We spent considerably less than we expected, so I'm proud of that.  Money is tight as I've had a month-long break in regular opera paychecks and we still have Christmas.  We all got pretty sick (well, half of us) at varying times during the week and whatever it is we have has settled into my sinuses.  The wretched air from the plane made my and Shelly's sinuses feel as though the entire top layer of membrane up there could be peeled off like a dried-up pudding skin.  Pretty image, huh?  

This week, I have rehearsals, the Ju-Ju is back from Africa and visiting tomorrow, I have to finish poor Karen's sweater and send off the criminal knits.  And clean the house.  Ugh.  Reality sucks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Made egregious error at work.  Caused panic and upsettedness.  Heart just not in it, apparently.  Checked checking account and damn mortgage accelerator took out extra payment (per agreement of which I was totally unaware as had nothing to do with implementation of), thus eliminating the cash for Disney World.  Now will have to use credit and that just makes me angry.  Don't have any more opera checks coming until med-December.  Don't want to sell Apple stock for vacation.  May have to.  Hate car payment, hate house payment, hate credit cards.  Want to sell everything and live in cottage in forest far away from calendars and grant budgets where can raise birds and alpacas and reptiles and spin own yarn with which to knit garments to sell and earn living.  Christian will have to telecommute.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Christian snapped some amazing pics of Sasha preening, so I shall now force you to view them (well, you could navigate away, but you WON'T, because you love seeing pictures of our birds, don't you?).

I love the long tail feather shots with the fuzzy feather fluff on the back:

That fluff is all over our house.  I have to vacuum every other day or puffy balls of down skitter away from us as we walk through the dining room.

He leans forward and stretches out one foot behind him to zip his tail feathers:

This is my favorite shot:

His belly feathers always look slightly greasy and disheveled, and we feel as though we should bathe him more, but it doesn't seem to help.  He must run into the bathroom after we leave and slather himself in hair pomade.  No wonder why we go through it so quickly.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Sasha let me scratch his back today, even while Christian was sitting there scratching him, too.  He let me preen a pinfeather and feel his fluffy back under the primary feathers.  He has the floofiest down imaginable that feels like kitten fur (without inducing the hives).  Birds are alarmingly fragile-feeling, though, when you get down to their skin and bones.  Skinny pencil necks, hard little craniums, dinky little ribs.  I like to kiss their little toes as they seem to be the sturdiest bits about them: they're all leathery and scaled, like an iguana, but you can't kiss an iguana because of salmonella, so it works out best for everyone if I just kiss the birds' feet.  Well, except for the birds.  They really don't like it.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I'm only disappointed that they didn't mention my blinding cape.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Busy, busy, busy like an average heighted bee.

Rehearsal on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 2-9 or 10 pm, after having worked from 9-2.  We open tomorrow and I think it will be fantastic.  I have a mirrored robe that glints like a liturgical disco ball and I'm wearing so much makeup that passing drag queens shake their heads and spit into their hankies so they can wipe my face.  We all look vaguely "We Three Kings," which I suppose is appropriate as the season approacheth so quickly.  Fa la la and all that.  

I love Christmas.  I love it.  Love. It.  We leave for Disney World two weeks from today, and, not only will the parks be decorated for Christmas, but we're attending Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, so it will be an orgy of festivity combining two of my favorite things.  I'm doing the thing where I try to not get too excited because I'll make myself sick from anxiety over whether or not I've planned enough.  Now there's four people other than my husband to keep entertained, but, they're pretty prepped to be made happy by our trip without my having to do a thing.  Not that I won't try to do lots of things.  Lots, and lots and lots of fun things.  Not excited.  Not at all.  I really should go to bed.  Can't sleep.  Too excited.  

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sad realizations.

Ricky Ricardo was a lousy singer.  On the positive side, Lucy's dresses were gorgeous.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

All Growed Up

Shelly and I drove to Spokane this weekend to see the nephews and the folks. Now that the boys are living there, I'll have to make the trip more often as the vital vitamin N blood level drops when I go too long without being tackled or told that I'm loved by a three year old with a lisp. This time, Christian couldn't go as he had to work absurdly long hours to prepare for some big work event, so we left early on Friday afternoon after picking up Mark to take him home before he had to return to work on Monday as he's not telecommuting right now. We listened to mostly Broadway musicals (Curtains and Avenue Q, which both give me hope that the American musical isn't dead) and then some really dirty comedy once the musicals were over.

As this time we left early and returned late (as I don't work on Mondays), we saw the boys repeatedly, visited my grandma, got fitted for bras, walked around the "old" part of town and met up with a former college professor with whom I've maintained contact. Now, when I was 20 and he started teaching, he was in his early thirties, so his first group of students weren't too far from his age, and many of us maintained friendships after college as he's still one of the most hilarious people I've ever known. Mom had sent me an article a while ago on how he purchased an old home in town and was renovating it. Consequently, we got in touch and made plans to meet up and see his house. However, what I didn't remember from the article was that he bought one of the original Kirtland Cutter mansions. We met up at the Music Building on campus to see all the changes in my former program and went to see the house. I wasn't prepared. As we were driving there, we discussed the absurd Seattle real estate prices and crappy square footage and I asked him how big his house was. He asked me about mine, and I told him that it was around 1,200. He replied that his was slightly larger. As soon as I saw the house, I could communicate only in expletives and choking sounds. I think my exact words were, "motherfuckingsonofabitchholyshitohmygodareyoufuckingkiddingme?"

At around 10,000 square feet, the Mission revival style house, built in 1907, was the house I had driven by perhaps a million times when I was a high-schooler and undergrad coming home from my friend's house around the corner and cried over with lust and longing. The house was in, what could most kindly be described as, a catastrophic state. The stucco was discolored and crumbling, the addition on the north side had been veneered using garden lattice and aluminum, and the outside was defaced with wires and tubing.

Since buying the home a year and a half ago in a transaction described my him as borderline insane, my friend had to wait for the current occupants, elderly individuals in need of round the clock care, to be moved to their new home before he could move in and begin any work. That took six months. It took another two months to reskim the stucco, and, while he was encouraged to demolish the addition added in the 60s, he went in the non-recommended opposite direction and rebuilt the infrastructure, recreated windows and doors to match the main house, added a porch on top surrounded by a retaining wall to perfectly match the porch below it, and converted the entire wing, which had formerly been the dormitory for the residents and was in ghastly and deeply disturbing shape, to a master suite with a closet larger than my living room. I cried when I saw that room. I also cried when he showed us the new living room/dining room/concert hall that had recently been completed. Two sets of pocket doors were recovered and refinished and replaced to lead from the foyer to this room, box beams were recreated to match the library across the hall, travertine floors were laid and a bathroom at the rear of this hall with its two filthy toilets was torn out and rebuilt to now contain an original claw-foot bathtub found in the prison-like basement bathroom.

As he walked us through the rest of the house and laid out the plans for work and Shelly and I sobbed a little at every bit of stone (hand carved to represent medieval-style woodland creatures) and woodwork and each piece of molding and leaded glass, I recalled a line from Pride and Prejudice, when Jane asked Lizzy when she first fell in love with Mr. Darcy. She replied that she could date it from first seeing his beautiful estate at Pemberly. When I asked him if he was dating anyone (because I have no boundaries and married people always want everyone else to be married), he replied no. I don't think that will be the case for long.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

With a ho ho ho and a hee hee hee.

Sasha can imitate us saying his name in a low growly voice perfectly, which he follows with his witch cackle.  Why did I spend hundreds of dollars on toys when, more than anything else, he loves a brown sock knotted in the middle and chases it after he throws it across the cage, like a dog playing fetch.  He then laughs again.  It's the thing we can do to get him to stop yelling for us, make him laugh.  He'll laugh and laugh and I really think he knows what it means, but, of course, the things he does are so funny that I'm sure previous owners have laughed when he did them, so it could be that he's just repeating a pattern.  Still, it's adorable and a welcome change from the brakbrakbrakbrakbrakbrak we've been hearing for months.  

Cyril now will yelp when Sasha is screaming, but it's kind of a small, squawky, shrieky sound that is more funny than annoying.  He also fluffs up and then shrinks down with each exhale when squawking, so he looks like a blue poofball toy that's being squeezed.  

Watching my beloved poopers makes it even harder for me to think about the birds Tina is trying to save in Panama.  Apparently, the red tape is such that it may be impossible to bring them to the researcher who can save them.  They will most likely be sold under the table as pets.  

The captured parrot trade is a huge business in Central and South America as well as Africa and Australia as netting and then selling birds is a hugely profitable endeavor as there's almost no expenditure required, just brutal nets that tangle feet and wings.  The death rate of parrots captured and then transported for sale is between 40 and 50 percent, according to CITES.  The sale of captured, wild birds is illegal in the US and the EU, but birds still enter the country through smuggling and are then sold to unscrupulous pet shops.  These wild and ill-treated birds understandably make very poor pets and often die from starvation due to neglect in new homes.  

I really think I need to get involved.  Information will be forthcoming.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I am easily assimilated.

Fine.  I joined Facebook.  Now I have THREE pages to keep updated.  Hmpf.

Three kinds of day.

Morning:  Crappy start, very tired from show closing party the night before.  Behaviorist supposed to come at 9:30, had time down as 1, came at 10:30, stayed for three hours.  Successful session for Christian, not so much for me as was sushed repeatedly like five year old in movie theater.  Cost $240, were planning on $80.

Afternoon:  Excellent time with Rich and Shelly at awesomely tacky Auburn SuperMall.  Shopped at Disney Parks outlet (overstock from Disneyland), found final four blown glass ornaments from 50th anniversary set (have two, couldn't afford rest on last trip) for half price.  Saw "Nightmare before Christmas" in 3-D.

Evening:  Utter shit.  Hit beautiful white stray cat on way home.  When got out of car to try and save cat, saw cat's mate run away.  Cat died in car on way to emergency vet.  Never had this happen before.  Really can't stop thinking about it.  Sick to my stomach and can't get imagery out of my head.

Still, heard from cousin Steph this morning, and she got in to UW for medical school, which is freaking incredible.  So proud, especially as 1) she took time off to volunteer in three countries, went back to school to do pre-reqs and worked while doing so and 2) is first person in family to go to med school.  Christmas this year will be full of celebration.  Need to think of suitable present.  Briefcase?  Wingtips?  Old fashioned doctor's bag?  Hmmm.

Please, though, say a little prayer for the kitty.  I'll do the same.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I shall hop a plane tonight to help.

Because she's WAY too damn modest to post about it herself, I'm going to share my sister's parrot rescue story. To recap Tina's story so far, she's a wildlife biologist who is taking three months off of her normal life to study songbirds in Panama with a grad school colleague. She emailed me this story yesterday:

"Saga 1 -- Parrot rescue! At this park we work at there's a little "office" and people who guard the park work there. They had 4 parrots in 2 small dirty cages, and a mess of other bad things you don't want to hear about. I expressed my concern to (her colleague) about the condition of the cages, the food, water, etc, and said it was not good, and what could I do about it? I started changing their water, and bringing them fresh fruit myself. On Wednesday, we went in and one bird was gone. I asked (another colleague) to ask them what happened, and they said one of the other parrots killed it. I was not surprised given the small cages, mixed species, no proper care and attention. But I was furious and could think of nothing else the rest of the day, as they didn't particularly seem to care. (Colleague 1) thought they have only had the birds about a month, and they were confiscated from someone, and the park people were just going to see "how they go". Well, they are not "going" well!! So I told (Colleague 1) I wanted to talk to whomever was in charge and tell them this wasn't right, or find some way to make it right. Well, the person I can talk to was not there today at the park. But back at Tupper today, he introduced me to (a researcher), who does some work with parrots. When I explained the situation, she immediately said, bring them to me and I'll take them. She'll fatten them up, clean them up, and see what can be done regarding adopting them out or releasing them. I am SO ecstatic. I cannot wait to get those birds out of that situation. I'll take them Saturday when I have a gamboa truck. Yeah!! I just feel awful about the 4th bird, why didn't I do something sooner?"

To which I replied, of course, you rock and have done everything you can. Because she's awesome.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Criminal Knits Check In!

All right, knitters of fury, post in comments and let us know how you're coming with hats, mittens and scarves for Miss Clara's little chickens. Leave your email and I'll send you her address for to mail said objects of warmth and comfort. Woot!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Technical Delays

Tech week always prevents me from posting. Four to five hour rehearsals every night for almost ten days tend to make one a wee bit listless. However, the opera has opened to two excellent reviews, and the only umbrage I take with both is the reviewers' criticisms of the set, which I love and think is freaking brilliant. Aside from the (hateful) raked platform stage, I find no fault with the scene the sets set (hee) at all. On the contrary, I think the feelings of mild claustrophobia and decrepit opulence suit the tone of the opera beautifully. And God, can Nuccia Focile sing. That woman is a heart-wrencher, she is.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Knit for the Criminals, 2007

To all the Forumites who wish to give the criminals in Miss Clara's classroom a warmer winter than they'd have otherwise, here are some patterns and sites to get you going:

This link has a ton of free hat and scarf set patterns.  This is a VERY easy mitten pattern, and this is a very easy hat AND mitten pattern.  If you are going to make either of these using one type of yarn, you can make a matching scarf by casting on six inches worth of stitches in the same yarn and working in garter stitch until you run out.  

Here's also an easy earflap hat and this is your standard stockinette hat.  All of these patterns are great stash eaters.  You don't need much time or yarn for any of these.  Good luck, and email me if you need any help!

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Strong is not pronounced "schtrong," despite what the Army wants you to believe. Watching all of Season 1 of Heroes while home sick from work has made me peevish because no one can kill Sylar, dammit, and New York will get blown up before I get a chance to visit again. My nephew, Kyan, called me to tell me that he misses me and I bawled. Gus the three toed box turtle eats superworms like his head is a particularly prehistoric vacuum attachment, and it amuses me to watch his little steam shovel jaw scoop up the leftover crunchy bits. Crap, and speaking of vacuum attachments, I STILL haven't emptied the vacuum cleaner bag to find my diamond earring that got sucked up while I watched in slow motion, too torpid to intercede.

The behaviorist came to help us with Sasha, so we're reading to him and trying to make our presence near his cage less unbearable. It turns out he was pretty terrified from having the cage under the window, so we're undoing our own damage. I hope we can hold him again. Cyril is mad because we got him a new, separate cage, so he bit me, which hurt my feelings. However, he's so cute when he's mad I can hardly stand it. Who's the cutest fluffy angry birdie? He's also gotten very chubby and has breastbone cleavage, which is bad, apparently. I need to take him to the vet for his annual anyway, so I'll ask their advice.

The skylight in the guest bedroom is leaking from a old and busted seal. And why the hell am I so dizzy all the time? I just really want a piece of fried chicken, but then I think of KFC and their awful practices and lose my appetite. Christian and I have hardly seen each other in weeks because I'm rehearsing so much and our vacation seems impossibly far away, even though it's now in less than two months and, between now and then, I have two shows, a holiday and possibly surgery, for which I'm trying to lose weight so I'm hungry all the time. Christian just brought me home a beef and cheddar, though, so I'm fine now.

We had a turkey dinner on Sunday to say goodbye to Tina, and I have no clue what to do with all the leftovers, especially the gravy, which I hate. All the stuffing is gone, too, and that's the best part. Man, I still need to find out what Steel Pig puts in their sauce, now that they're closed and I have nowhere to get my fix.

I wonder if I'm depressed about something.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why not to read opera reviews.

I read a review in the NY Times this morning of Romeo et Juliette at the Met, and the critic effused greatly about the young mezzo playing Stephano, who is a recent graduate of Juilliard's bachelor and master's programs and is managed by the top agency in the US. Now, I love to hear fantastic young voices, but sheesh, it can be depressing to read about those who have had a charmed career. Of course, that means nothing about her personal life and its hardships, but I can viciously hope that, when not making triumphant debuts at major international houses, she's a lonely spinster who sits at home and eats an entire gallon of Haagen-Daaz while watching A Baby Story on TLC.

Friday, September 21, 2007

An Obituary for Alex

And from CNN:

He was one amazing bird.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Photos from the fair, as promised...

Dr. Who done in needlepoint. Yep, David Tennant. In needlepoint.

Plus an angora goat, because, well, I like mohair.

And really, he's very silly.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

If knitting is crack...

I'm definitely its bitch.  I just finished the fisherman's sweater I started LAST YEAR, but since I designed it, it didn't come out even approximately the right size.  It was supposed to be for Christian, but I didn't swatch my cable pattern, and I didn't realize until way, waaaaaaay too late that the center cables I chose would make the sweater about four inches too narrow. Length right, width wrong.  Once I realized that the sweater wouldn't fit Christian, I put it down for many months but thought about it constantly.  I decided that I'd give it to mom, but that's when I thought the body and sleeves would be shorter than they ended up.  I had to pick out and then redo the collar as I also hadn't even followed my own pattern well enough and had not made the armholes the right length.  The good thing about it all is that I think it will now fit Tina as she is very tall and slender and has longish arms, so I'm thinking it will be perfect, and I'll be able to knit Mom something pink and beaded.  I'm just glad someone I love can use it.  And it is quite attractive:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A sad event, indeed.

I just found out that Alex, the African Grey belonging to Dr. Irene Pepperberg, died unexpectedly on September 7th. His last words to Dr. Pepperberg before going to sleep, were, “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.” For the complete article, see here. I am distraught.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I shan't spend it all in one place.

We went to the Puyallup Fair yesterday, ostensibly to eat ourselves into a coma and chortle heartily at the tragic fashion parade in true, obnoxious, elitist, suburban form, but it was really to see if I won anything from entering my shawl in the Home Arts competition, which I DID.  I won second place, which was certainly a surprise, as I made two rather large mistakes in the border and didn't block it aggressively enough.  I won a magnificent $3, and I hope they give my my prize in check form so I can frame it next to the ribbon and this picture:

The first prize went to the shawl pictured below, the pattern for which is in "A Gathering of Lace," a book I also own. 

It is very beautiful and very well done, but I must comfort myself with the knowledge that the body of my shawl is one pattern and the trim is another, and I taught myself how to knit on the trim by picking up edge stitches, and in the winner's pattern, the book SAID how to do it, so nyah.  

Here was some of the competition. This one was very lovely:

And then there was this one, which, well, huh.  It's very Cher as dressed by Bob Mackie in the 80s if Bob favored acrylic fun fur which, really, he did.

I also got to see real Angora goats, from whence we get mohair (not angora, that comes from rabbits), and see mohair boucle yarn spun by one of the artist exhibitors in the hidden hall of classy (not with a k) handiwork.  Thankfully Shelly remembered where it was, as I had forgotten from last year.  I have never really been tempted to spin or dye my own yarn until now, as the colors and textures and materials were so gorgeously delicious that I only narrowly avoided humiliating my friends and necessitating a call to the fair police by throwing all the racks of skeins to the floor, stripping off my clothes and rolling in the piles of superwash merino and bamboo blends.  I was only allowed an hour in the hall, though, so there just wasn't time.  Next year, maybe.

Friday, September 07, 2007


So, all the tests are done and all the tubes are out. A week and a half of sleepless nights are over and I feel a surprisingly strong sense of relief and I am no longer annoyed at, well, everything (Christian is heard to breathe a sigh of relief from his Redmond office).

It was confirmed that I have a hiatal hernia, which I knew. It's a sliding hernia, the more common type, thankfully, as a paraesophageal hernia is v. v. bad and can cause icky problems, like esophageal strangulation, which sounds like the esophagus would make little acky noises and hold its hands to its throat in the universal sign for "give me the Heimlich".

Anyway, the hernia isn't large, which is good, but it's either caused the sphincter at the base of my esophagus to become incompetent (useless thing) or the incompetent sphincter caused my stomach to migrate into my esophagus. Chicken...egg...

Interestingly, I also have a wastrel esophagus. It doesn't perform its job adequately, and sometimes not at all. The wretched manometry showed that the muscles don't move in synch to push food down, and sometimes give up all together and just flap around while looking for a place to nap.

Consequently, I can get a Toupet fundoplication performed to correct the hernia and limit the reflux, but this procedure isn't quite as effective as the full fundoplication, for which I'm not eligible because of the layabout esophagus. Another wrench in the works is that I'm too heavy right now to ensure the best outcome from the surgery. I actually felt a little sorry for the doctor, as he seemed a trifle nervous to bring up my weight, as though I would heave around my ass and smother him in outrage for letting that taboo subject be discussed amongst strangers, like my weight is an illegitimate child or Auntie's affair with the neighbor's hunky son. But really, saying I need to lose weight is like saying that global warming exists. We know it's there, it doesn't have a quick solution, but it's perfectly manageable if we all work together and exercise some restraint. Consequently, before I get the procedure done, I need to get the plump little ball rolling. Support and solidarity are requested.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tube in, stomach contents out.

First three of four tests are done. First test, horrible. Large tube embedded with metal sensorballs inserted painfully through nose and down throat, inducing several vomiting bouts, embarrassingly, and then had to swallow salt water and viscous gel meant to simulate chewed food, all to test muscle strength and coordination as well as sphincter capabilities. Scrumptious. However, husband's love proven yet again, as held hand and petted head and lifted me up, while I oozed liquids from eyes, nose and throat. Wonderful husband. Love husband.

Finished test and then very happily sedated for second, of which absolutely nothing is remembered. Lovely drugs. Hiatal hernia confirmed. Had yet another tube inserted through nose, down esophagus and into stomach, fortunately while groggy enough to not care. Came home and was surprisingly alert, although surprisingly exhausted. Oddly, no reflux and belching now, irritatingly. Want proof of vexing issues. Where is proof? Need acid now. Must keep diary of incidents, but few incidents to report, as of yet.

Shelly and Angie came over and gave beautiful present, cupcakes and ice cream because they are loveliest friends and wanted to help. Shelly even taking me back tomorrow so I don't have to drive. At 7:30 am. Must buy chocolates for that.

Tube out tomorrow morning and then barium swallow. Consult with doctor at 9:30. Cross your fingers and hope for possibility of laparoscopic repair.

Monday, September 03, 2007

It burnses, it burnses.

Day five off Prilosec. Scope not for two more days. Esophagus burns. Throat hurts. Acid bubbling up from lack of sphincter. Intestines cramping from unaccustomed levels of gastric juices. No caffeine as makes more burning. Finally understand what endoscopy clinic questionnaire means when asks if stomach symptoms interfere with every day life. Can't sleep. Wake up coughing. No voice. Can't sing. Must constantly eat bland food to give hydrochloric something to do. However, all food sounds horrible as want to vomit all the time. Very burpy, which causes much embarrassment.

Bright side, lack of energy means I re-finished front and back of Aran sweater as only want to sit on ass and watch Coupling marathon. Don't want to work tomorrow as will be very busy and is Christian's birthday. Want to celebrate (in limited fashion). Can't wait for glorious drugs for scope.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

By God, it works.

Thank you, Boombella.

Edited to add video!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wait one cotton, pickin' minute...

Have I misspelled Sweetener this ENTIRE time?? Did I accidentally change it? I know I spelled it right when I first made the blog as I LOOKED IT UP. Am I going crazy?


Thanks to being browbeaten into compliance, I've submitted my shawl (despite the fact that it's still not flat and thin enough and needs to be blocked again) to the Puyallup Fair to be judged in the Home Arts category. I love that quilting, cross-stitching, sewing, pickling, canning, knitting, crocheting, etc are still called the home arts. I've been trying to think up other, more suitable names for them, like:

1. You've Become your Mother Arts
2. Go Home and Fix your Husband a Drink Arts
3. Would You Like Some Cool Whip on that Jello Arts
4. Jesus is my Accessory Arts
5. Feminism Never Happened Arts
6. I am a Feminist and I'm Doing this Because It's Fun, I Swear Arts
7. I have Fourteen Cats Arts

I also have to say that I was pretty amused by the guidelines for submission. One area the judges will pay special attention to is cleanliness of the submitted piece of knitted, crocheted, quilted or cross-stitched work. I'm picturing a nicotine-stained afghan knitted in Red Heart Pound of Love acrylic with bits of Spam still stuck to it. The image is very clear.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


It's a cosmic punishment for being so smug when he first came home with us. I know that. That's what happens when you have pride. You get part of your cuticle torn away from your thumb. Poor Christian.

We're having some aggression issues with Sasha. We were foolish (so foolish!) when we first brought him home, and we have unleashed upon ourselves Nature, red in tooth and claw. Literally. I doubt that Sasha had any structure in his previous homes, if his behavior is any indication. He gets frustrated very, very quickly and his moods can change faster than a teenage girl's. All of the bird books espouse structure and consistency in the same way that books about human children do. They need rules, the books say, they need to rely upon their humans for the guidance as well as for food and shelter as, in their captive situations, they cannot provide any of these things for themselves. Don't begin patterning your bird with negative behavior when you first bring them home as it will lead to problems down the road. Carefully monitor your bird's posture and vocalizations as they will tell you what your bird is feeling and how to respond to it. Yep, yep, all true.

The charming and hilarious video below? Oh, if we could only go back and undo what has been done. He's nesting now, trying to build a home for a mate that will never come. He's mercurial and irritable and wants everything his way because we've set no boundaries. Christian can no longer pick him up from the ground or play with him in the same manner as he could even a week ago.

Birds bite because that's the only way they know how to communicate certain messages. This morning, Christian tried to step Sasha up onto a t-perch. Sasha didn't want to go, but Christian persisted, as he had always been able to do in the past. Sasha latched onto his thumb and wouldn't let go. I had to intervene with another hand-held perch and put Sasha back in his cage to allow Christian to tend to his very badly battered hand. It was torn in two places and bitten in several others. It's gotten very hard to tell which bites are new and which are old as Sasha will preen the scabs off the old bites if given half a chance.

It's a hard thing, wanting an animal to love you because you love it. We know Sasha is very attached to Christian, but fear of being bitten has changed a relationship that they both had grown to enjoy and rely upon. We now have to totally restructure how we interact with Sasha, try to establish a wholly different relationship, and that will be hard. We had gotten so complacent about being able to pick him up off of his cage and play with him that it will be a wrench to have to be more disciplined about using hand-held perches. I'm actually quite heartbroken that this poor bird that has had such an inconsistent life up until now has to endure more change because we were too lazy to pattern our interactions with him properly from the first day we brought him home.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Thanks to Rich (and, via him, Douglas Adams) and my obvious and compensatory (yes, I know about 50 people lately have said I need a kid) love for and obsession with parrots, I've become a little fixated on the Kakapo (fluffy bunny), the extremely endangered, flightless and utterly weird New Zealand parrot (pooper head).  Now, my favorite living artist, Eleanor Grosch, has a print of the Kakapo (chicken butt), and all proceeds from purchases of the print go to Kakapo (squidgy doo) rescue.  

She's my hero.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

American Arrogance

There is a fine line between observing a problem and creating one. This is a perfect example of the latter. Considering that the folks unwillingly sucked into this controversy are actually involved with animal welfare and conservation at home (and here, as one of the ambassadors went to EVERGREEN and lives here half the year) and chose to come to our beloved zoo as an opportunity to share their work, the argument that they are "part of the exhibit" is offensive and ludicrous, especially as it implies that the very people who are working the hardest to protect their own environment and who have traveled around the world to help us greedy bastard consumers understand that our wastefulness has far-reaching consequences are naive enough to be hoodwinked into a being part of a Victorian sideshow.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mad as Pants

In the British sense of the word, I mean:

Monday, August 06, 2007

Knitting my Shroud

You all know about my fixation with alpacas. During the first visit to the farm of long-lashed will-destroyers, I purchased from the farm store a beautiful hank of dark turquoise fingering weight alpaca yarn spun from the animals at the farm with a shimmery metallic thread plied in. I debated long about what to knit with it, as it was very expensive, $36 a hank, and I wanted to make something particularly lovely and worthy of the cost and effort. I couldn't decide and couldn't decide and kept buying more and more of the yarn every time we'd drive to Bellingham to visit the IL's and would stop at the farm (well, I'd take the exit without any say from Christian as I usually drive and he is at my mercy). No one else was buying it, and it was all one dye lot, so I kept accumulating it at $36 a pop until I had four of the five hanks available, which equalled 1,460 yards of yarn. That's a lot. I just couldn't bear to knit anything boring with it, so I kept swatching and frogging and setting it aside to think on it.

Late last year, while reading one of the many knitting magazines that litter our bedroom floor and make me twitch either with disgust from the hideous waste of perfectly good wool or with lust over yarn I could NEVER afford, I came across an article on knitted lace. There were pictures of the most incredible shawls I'd ever seen, straight out of Queen Victoria's dress wardrobe. Catherine the Great would have gone to war over some of these pieces (she apparently was given a gift of a spectacular wedding-ring shawl from the Hebrides and had the eyes of the knitter put out, ugh, so she couldn't knit any more, but the knitter's daughter had learned the craft and passed down her skills to following generations, bless her). Anyway, I really wanted a good project to be portable and beautiful, so I found a pattern I liked from (as they had really jumped on the lace train (snork)), the candle-flame shawl pattern, and brought it on the plane with me to England last January. I only finished about a few inches on that trip as we were so busy, but I had lots of time this last Spring in which to knit and finished the body in about three months. It wouldn't normally have taken nearly so long, but I had to periodically set it aside to work on other projects, like hedgehogs and sweater sets.

Once it was done, though, it seemed a little drab. I had purchased second hand a book on traditional knitted shawl patterns and the author had charted out some beautiful edges. She also included instructions on how to actually knit the edging onto the body of the completed work by picking up edge stitches every other row. As I really wanted to make this damn thing spectacular (I had visions of walking into a performance and hearing everyone gasp with awe and admiration of the sheer gorgeousity of the thing), I picked a wide border that I thought would compliment the overall pattern of the body. I had also, unfortunately, read an article about beading your knitting, and HAD to buy Czech glass beads in the same color as the yarn to add to the yarn overs in the edging. Yeah. Just a little mad.

So, I threaded on all the beads and started to knit, and it took a really, really long time. I fortunately realized fairly early in the trim knitting that I'd run out of yarn and had to ask the farm to send me the final hank of yarn that had, fortunately, not been purchased. I was getting so close to the end by the last week of July that I spent six hours knitting last Monday while Shelly and I watched the Thin Man movies I had received from Christian for our anniversary (thanks, honey!). Well, after seven and a half months, 5,470 feet of yarn and 1,500 pre-strung beads, I finished the damn thing. And boy, did it look terrible. However, it's supposed to. Lace knitting looks like a pile of twisted ass when finished, as it has to be aggressively blocked to lie flat and look proper. I read all the lace blocking instructions on reputable sites and decided to make my own blocking frame out of PVC and eye hooks. It took about five hours last Friday night to cut the pipe, drill the holes and screw in the hooks. This is what it looked like (and it's modular so I can take it apart to store and make any size to allow for varied garment blocking):

I had to soak the shawl in warm water and mild detergent, and then gently press out the excess water with a towel. Bask in the lumpy shrivellness:

To get all the little edge points to stick out and get the body to lay flat, I strung each point with twine and ran the twine through the hooks:

Christian helped me, and once all the twine was in place, I pulled it tight and began to see the incredible definition of the lace pattern in the body and on the edge:

I cannot tell you how this sight made me feel. It was so lovely and graceful-looking that I could barely believe that gallumphing me had knitted it.

When I took it off the frame after it had completely dried, it only sprang back the tiniest bit. All of the edging peaks stayed peaky and the pattern definition stayed defined. The pretty beads make a wonderful clacking sound when they hit together and give the piece a lovely drape, so my efforts were rewarded.

The final measurements of the thing top 9 feet long by 3.5 feet wide. Should provide me with plenty of coverage, if I can only think of something worthy with which to wear it. Maybe I'll have to make a dress. Hmmmm...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

On the radio, sounding REALLY annoying...

The topic for the second hour of KUOW's Weekday was birds in the home, so I HAD to call in and put in a plug for parrot adoption. You can listen to it here. I'm about 35 minutes in. Do I always sound that over-eager and knowitallish? Ugh. Still, good topic.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And what a lovely day it is, too.

Today is a momentous day for two notable reasons:

#1, my mother in law, the lovely and charming Lynn, who not only gave me her son but many knitting tips and tools, was born. May she remember this day for all the glorious things sure to come to her, deserving woman that she is. Lynn, may you ride all day in perfect weather and only come home because there's an excellent bottle of wine and a cake waiting for you with a new puzzle to complete afterwards. Sal, do you hear me?

#2, the muffin head was born, fluffy pooper bunny that he is.

There is much to celebrate.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Six years ago, on this very day (tomorrow)...

Hi honey. Tomorrow is our anniversary, but since we'll be in Bellingham celebrating your mom's birthday, I thought I'd write this today.

Six years of marriage. Apparently, the sixth anniversary gift should be candy, at least traditionally. The modern gift is iron, but you already have several shot puts and I bought you a hammer (against my will) a couple of Christmases ago. Oddly enough, recommended sixth anniversary vacations are Hershey, PA and Walt Disney World, so I guess our upcoming vacation in WDW was meant to be, although I think the best evidence for that is the $60 hotel room price we all got.

I was thinking about our marriage the other day, and I got kind of giggly. That's seems to be my usual response when thinking of us. I giggle like I'm twelve and the boy I like just looked at me, except I'm 34 and the boy I like lives with me and I get to wake up with him every day. The comment I always hear about the two of us as a couple is that we seem made for each other, and I think that's because we're always laughing. It's kind of a miracle that, considering how easy it is for me to lose perspective on, well, everything and become so anxious and clamped down, laughter is such the predominant theme in our marriage that I can't think of us without chuckling, but in a happy, non-Mr. Burns, non-demoniacal kind of way. I don't know how you've managed to turn me into this person who not only laughs all the time but who can laugh about things I used to cry over. That's practically a miracle.

We've both grown a lot in the last year. We each took new jobs, causing our income to plummet. However, you never let the money be a factor in your insistence that I work only half time so I can sing and not want to fling myself off the roof of our house in sheer dramatic exhaustion. You've become so handy, even more so than you were before, and good Lord, am I grateful. I love that you're so competent around the house that all I have to do is ask you to auger the bathtub and it's done. You seem to take great pleasure in being "the man of the house," and I'm shocked that I don't mind. Well, not really. I like the fact that, despite what I say to the contrary at 1 am when we've been hanging shelves all day, you simply MUST screw everything into a stud. When that inevitable earthquake comes, that picture of our house on the bird room wall won't budge. Of course, I also like that I can put together furniture and such and you let me do it without standing to one side with a beer in your hand criticizing how I used your drill.

One thing that happened this last year, though, really defines for me what our marriage is, and what makes it my lifeline. I had slowly been becoming resistant to my anxiety medication, and I was putting off going to the doctor. We were getting ready for bed one night and I was particularly ornery and unwilling to put away laundry, and, while most other people would get upset or argue in the same situation, you looked at me and said, very calmly, that you could tell that I was much more anxious and upset than when my medication was working, and that you were going to harass me until I went to the doctor because you hated to see me so unhappy. You were right, and I knew you were right, and I finally went to the doctor because you wanted me to. It's funny how sometimes that's what it takes for me to do things I know I have to do. I won't do them for myself, but I'll do them for you. I'd do anything for you.

I love you, sweetie. Happy anniversary.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

So many kinds of pretty.

Shelly and I went raspberry picking (my favorite, favorite thing) on Tuesday, and, while the recent rainy weather caused about half of the berries on the bush to mold (is this summer? IS IT, I ASK YOU??), we did get about 10 pounds, which is a third of what I usually pick.  I did manage to put up 15 containers of freezer jam, but I only had enough to bake one pie, with a lone bowl of fruit left over which, even after having been refrigerated, molded completely in one day.  Still, we had lovely weather and talked about musical theater and sex.  No bad can come from that.

Pretty, pretty jam.  Too bad peanut butter never, ever enters our house.  And that hazelnut/chocolate spread in the closet, Christian?  That's where it stays.

I also finished the tunic dress for my friend Laura's birthday.  She does burlesque and I wanted something that could be saucy and easily removable, if necessary:

Note the ribbon and pearly buttons. Those were my addition. I'm so creative.

The whole dress is quite lovely and I want to knit one for myself.  It would be much easier this time, as the unconscionable number of mistakes in the bottom trim pattern I found after knitting and frogging it three times got corrected when I charted out the pattern MYSELF (which took as long as knitting the dress in the first place:

But so, so pretty.  I hope she gets to rip it right off.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Domestic Goddess

Teenage girls usually rail against becoming like their mothers.  The idea of being the kind of person who wears pantyhose every day is terrifying to the "likelikelike" mentality of the 15-year-old.  Then you move out on your own and get a job that requires you to look nice every day and thusly need to iron your clothes at 7 am and then you realize that nylon and lycra are the only things keeping you from being lumpy and you understand why your mother owned 25 pairs of Hanes, the kind that you get in an egg from the drugstore.  Why were they always suntan?

Anyway, when I was 20, I didn't want a house, I didn't want to cook, I hated the idea of a yard and I never hemmed a thing.  Now, I have a house that I love a little too much to be healthy, I still don't like weeding, but I do it because I don't want to look like a hillbilly, I could cook all day long and I made a skirt on Friday night because I wanted one to wear shopping with Tina on Saturday (and I now have commissions by two fellow choristers to make the same skirt for them).  My motivation in making the skirt was that I didn't want to go shopping downtown and look slobby.  Mom always dressed up to go shopping.  She said she wanted to look nice so she could wouldn't feel embarrassed, aaaaaand that's why I did it, too.  That and I didn't want to be sneered at by the salesclerks.  I even went shopping for the shopping.  I had to buy a pair of pink and white shoes and a lightweight cardigan that would match my new skirt.  I even wore makeup and fixed my hair.  When I met Tina for breakfast before the shopping, she was also wearing a skirt and a necklace and said she didn't want to look slovenly for shopping, either.  Well done, Mom, the subliminal messaging worked.  I refuse to wear hosiery from the drugstore, however.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In Print

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this in the last post.


For someone who doesn't enjoy gambling, I am a glutton for chance. Singing at my level is all about odds. You do as many auditions as possible and hope that, if you're singing well enough, the odds will be in your favor. If you're of a common voice type, you have lower odds. If you're a tenor, the odds are much higher. I'm somewhere in the middle. However, the odds have been oddly (hee) with me this summer and I've gotten roles from my last two auditions. Both auditions were pretty good and I feel lately that I can keep it together long enough to sing well, at least for the ten minutes in front of the panel. The performing part is great, it's just the auditioning that sucks my ass.

Christian has to keep forcing me to go to auditions. I schedule them, and then, the day of, I whinge and complain and whine that no one will ever cast me and I'm too fat and why do I bother (as I've stated in NUMEROUS earlier posts) and then Christian withers me with a glance (all while squeezing his Hard Woody (sorry, IRON Woody is the proper name according to Christian, which is MUCH better) grip strengthener so he can throw further as he never backs out of anything) and I go and then, afterwards, painfully and minutely dissect everything I've done and drive myself into the ground with my convincing description of my own ineptitude. Usually what follows is a letter or email saying that there wasn't a part for me and I swear it all off all over again. But , recently, I decided that I wanted to be a sidekick. I don't want to be the lead. Too much pressure. I want to quip from the background and be in it with the butler. My auditions got much better after that. Fewer unrealistic expectations. Seems to be working. Sweet.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Loquacious Lolly

We're trying to capture all of the words and expressions that were obviously taught to Sasha by an owner that could only have been an old man with lots of dogs and cats.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Insufficiently Saucy

I can tell you that, when I first saw a photo of a knitted bikini, I was aghast. Not only would any yarn one could use to knit such a tawdry waste of fiber lose, when wet, whatever stitch structure kitting gave it, but my God, would a knit bikini be ITCHY. While I still think knitted swimwear is utterly retarded and obviously the product of some silly little skinny dilettante knitter who wanted to give the needles a go because Vogue said it was in but didn't want to invest the time to knit anything larger than your average pocket square, I now find myself adoring the idea of knitted lingerie. Same shapes, more understandable function and less water-induced droop.

There are a couple of recently published books on lingerie and related scandalous underthings, but when I looked at them, I noticed a real lack of any delicacy and, well, cleverness in the stitches used and in the weights and textures. Everything seemed to be in stockinette stitch, which is the average stitch used in a sweater, and were made with mid-weight yarn and large needles. Now, pardon me, but, while I adore my concealing yet fashionable warm outerwear, I don't wear it to feel particularly slutty or exhibitionistic. When thinking about knitted lingerie, I imagined mysterious and complicated lace patterns that allow one to catch forbidden glimpses of skin underneath before the fabric shifts, making one wonder if one saw anything at all, all knit on tiny needles using thin, seemingly fragile yarn that is deceptively strong engough to withstand some good use. It would have to drape and have enough structure to stay put without having too much heft. In one particular book, the items depicted all looked as though they were made for Soviet brides before the Cold War ended and all the yarn anyone could get was wool from the Steppes and so the bra sets and peignoirs look as though they could be used as body armor in case the wearer got got in a stray gun fight with NATO forces. I know the authors were going for garments in the STYLE of lingerie, but the camisoles that "could be worn under a suit or nothing at all!" look as though they'd keep you warm through the cold, New England winter, with their ribbed edges and obvious lack of any kind of lingerie-like elements. Where's the lace? Where's the sense that the garment could be ripped off at any second? Sheesh, folks, I understand that we all like to think that we own pieces of clothing we can wear with everything, but a nightie that looks like the sweater I'm knitting for Christian isn't lingerie, no matter how low you make the back.

I only found one piece in a magazine aimed at the young, hip knitting audience that will work for the intended purpose. It's a knitted lace sheath that looks like a flapper dress and will be given to my friend who recently completed her Burlesque course. I did have this glorious notion of knitting delicious and inspiring underthings for all my friends' birthdays and such, but to do so, I'll now have to turn my hand to designing, as well. The stuff I've seen wouldn't inspire anything but a cross-country snowshoeing jaunt.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Things Sasha says:

Pretty bird
Come here
Go away (mainly said to me)
Here, kitty, kitty, kitty
Step up
A variety of other, unintelligible words we can't quite discern

Things he does:

Barks like a dog
Shakes his head and growls, as though playing with a rawhide toy

All shall hopefully be taped soon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wrong again.

Sasha is a boy. Break out the Stogies.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


We got one of those calls last night that I live in terror of, the bad news phone call informing me of some problem that will cost an assload of money and my peaceful slumber. Our insurance company, with whom I've had my car insurance for 18 years, has been bought out by another company and that company will not cover me because of my driving history. I now have to go with a "high-risk" insurance company that will cost double per month and makes me feel like a serial drunken driver. Last year was a very bad year, indeed.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Our adoption of Sasha was approved by the Exotic Bird Rescue, so now she's ours, all ours!! Mwah ha ha ha! Hee. So happy.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Crazy

While Christian and I are developing a certain reputation for, um, insanity from the ever increasing fauna in our home, the last thing I want is to actually be considered bat-shit crazy. I have a whole passel of nuts in my brain, due to the panic-ishness of my genes, but I started taking medication four years ago to keep the crazy in check, and to keep Christian from coming after me with a kitchen knife after I had finally pushed him to crack with my constant paranoia and hysteria (although, without the uterus, could what I have actually be called hysteria?). However, the crazy started seeping back in about six months ago. At first, I tried to take it in stride and thought that, despite all evidence pointing to the notion that I was becoming resistant to my med dose, I could handle the symptoms. There were, after all, perks to this new state, namely that the bedroom once again became more than a room in which to sleep. Sorry, family who doesn't want to hear that, but it's true. However, the resistance has gotten more pronounced in the past two months or so, and when the meaningless crying and crushing headaches began, I thought it might be time to up the dose. It was only the other night when, at rehearsal, I had a vision of Christian walking in the door holding handfuls of dead birds because I had let something happen to them and throwing them down at my feet in front of all my opera colleagues and screaming at me that he was leaving me, that I fully understood the importance of the appointment I had made with my doctor to discuss treatment options. We're all glad now that the dosages have been upped.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Little losses.

We lost one of our frogs, Buxtehude, today. He was the smaller of the two White's treefrogs, and never really thrived as he should have. He lived for the last three years in the vivarium in the kitchen with Squinky, who, I think, may be a food hog. I wonder if maybe Buxtehude simply couldn't compete with el Chubbo for the bugs we give them every night. It's next to impossible to tell with frogs, unless blood work or an xray are performed, what ails them, and the numbers of vets who will perform diagnostics are few and far between. We have no idea how old the frogs were when we got them, but I assume at least a few years, as they were fully grown. Buxtehude didn't show any over signs of illness, no red legs, no hard abdomen, nothing to indicate encroaching demise. As soon as I saw him in his cage this morning, struggling to move, I removed him and soaked him in purified water over a heating pad, but it was too late. He lasted until about a half hour ago, when he finally passed to the great eucalyptus tree in the sky.

It's awfully hard to truly get attached to pets that are so fragile. We keep them and observe them and wonder over them, and hope that they do well with the meagre resources we can provide. We read everything we can on their keeping and we obsess over research published in the herp journals. It works sometimes, and doesn't others. Amphibian keepers are an optimistic bunch, though, so we keep trying. I know the zoo raises their own bugs for their herps, as that's the only way a large enough variety can be provided to keep them as they would be in the wild, but we're lacking a few of the resources (and space) they have, so we buy our little tubs of worms and pots of crickets and powder them with vitamins. Our vet is extremely against keeping any animal in the home that eats insects as there is no way to give them a wide enough spectrum to keep them hale, and I'm beginning to agree with him. We are lucky with Gus, the turtle, as his species is indigenous to North America, and it's easy enough, from all the observational research, to feed him a complete diet. That, and box turtles are stubborn and tough. I wish the frogs were, too.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Toasty Toes

Squee. And I hate my voice. Ugh. So whiny.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The long, long journey home.

Our home was inspected by the Exotic Bird Rescue volunteer on Friday, and the volunteer said she was embarrassed to be inspecting us as our house was so clean and that approval was a given. We decided to take immediate action and drive down that night to Eugene, so we could fetch Sasha the next morning and be back by afternoon. I had already purchased her travel/quarantine cage, so we'd be ready to go as soon as we were given the good word.

The drive to Eugene was hellacious as we got shunted off the freeway in Portland due to poor signage and couldn't get back on due to a wretched festival that had clogged the streets with drunken idiots and blocked the freeway on ramps. We drove around downtown for almost forty minutes until we just gave up, got on northbound I-5 again and got off and on in a less congested area.

We made it to Springfield, where we were staying, at around 11:30 and checked into the Motel 6 in which I had reserved a room the second the inspector told us we had passed. It was cheap, and never, ever again will I let that be the deciding factor for a lodging choice. The pillows were tiny and flat and stank of cigarette smoke, the mattress was wretchedly uncomfortable and poky with aggressive springs and the towels had been soaked in bleach flogged against stones long enough to give them just the right texture to flay the flesh from our bones.

We got up with the wake up call and were more exhausted than when we had gone to sleep. We raced through breakfast and got to the coordinator's house at around 10:40. Sasha was out and waiting for us, and we wrote our check and ran. Christian held Sasha as he sat in the back seat until we reached the freeway, and he then put her in her cage to keep her safe.

She was so quiet and content sitting with him that it seemed a shame to put her in the cage, but it's simply not safe to have a loose pet in the car on the freeway. She took to her cage with a equanimity that was utterly unexpected and allowed us to feed and scratch her through the doors. For a bird purported to have cage aggression issues, she was remarkably placid. She hardly uttered a peep the entire ride back, and had no trouble stepping right up onto her beloved's finger to carry her in the house when we arrived home at around 4:30. We took the snakes upstairs to bask in the heat and set Sasha's cage up on the desk at the foot of the bed.

It's far too small for a bird her size to live in permanently, but it's just her quarantine cage for a month, and then she'll be moved to the large cage in the living room, next to the muffinhead.

She has been so silent as to almost be eerie. We've taken her in and out of her cage and outside and into the shower and all over and we're waiting for that damn shoe to fall from the sky. She's been too good. It just can't last. Our hearts are lost, though, so it won't matter if she decides that our fingers are all she wants to eat.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Take another little piece of my heart.

Dusty Springfield said it best. What tiny part of my heart that wasn't owned by a cute boy residing in my house or in Mark's is now in Oregon with Sasha.

We drove to Oregon on Saturday, hitting Powell's and Torrid in Portland for some tax free shopping before spending the rest of the day with aunt Marianne and uncle Gene at their place in Molalla (and watched Little Children, which is not a movie one would normally watch with ones father's sister. We have an unusual family). At Powell's, we found a used copy of the seminal macaw book with an author annotation and signature. I really do wonder who would sell a book that was a gift from a famous author with her signature and personal note inside. I think I'd carry it around with me and work it into conversation. We're good at doing that with bird topics. I'm sure none of you have noticed, we're so subtle. It's like a Jedi mind trick.

We drove to Eugene on Sunday, checked into our $50 Priceline hotel (woot!) and contacted the intake coordinator at the Eugene Exotic Bird Rescue, at whose house Sasha is living. Being whiny city folk, it seemed like we drove forever to get to her country house. Oh my God, why can't people live in the city?? We pulled into the drive and saw why they can't live in the city, namely the rows upon rows of donated cages waiting to be needed for surrendered birds. The sound was unmistakable, the cockatoo scream that you can hear three counties over coupled with the stream of Amazon chatter and giddy macaw chuckling. We could see one of the loudest perps through the window of the bird room as we walked up as he ran back and forth on his perch and shouted at us, like a white, fluffy guard dog. And she had those too, five of them, from the tiniest, squishiest little Chiahuaha EVER (squee) to an enormous, elderly shepherd who had the saddest face ever put on a mammal. And 22 birds. Say that with me. 22 birds, seven of which were the coordinator's own pets. She fosters some of the birds that are surrendered or rescued and socializes them to the best of human ability before they are adopted or given to rescue aviaries. 22 birds. And y'all think we're nuts.

The coordinator got Sasha out of her cage with a handheld perch as she, like many birds who have passed from hand to hand (most parrots will have an average of eight owners in their lifetime), is cage aggressive. However, once out of the cage, she was the sweetest, prettiest little muffin head I've ever seen. She was fairly tolerant of us on that first day, and we spent about two hours holding her and talking to her and bribing her with treats.

Mmmm...carrots, lucky girl.

The coordinator graciously offered to give us the class required to adopt when we returned the next day so we wouldn't have to drive down for it later in June. We had a take home test and an application to fill out together. We did quite well, I might add, and better than most, apparently. Thank God the hours of reading all the contradictory literature in aviculture has served some purpose, because my vet doesn't agree with most of it.

We returned to the coordinator's house the next morning after checking out and eating breakfast at the Original Pancake House (mmmm, coconut pancakes), next to a famous UofO athlete who had little boys clamoring for his autograph as we left and after a visit from the Oregon Duck and his girl, who are supposed to look like Donald and Daisy but actually looked like the Mexican knockoffs we saw on our Mazatlan shore excursion from the cruise.

Anyway, we returned, took the test and spent more time with Sasha, where I found that I am only a mere incidental compared to Christian. I'm quite jealous, actually. She showed such an obvious preference to his broad shoulders and manly scent that she would leap off my hand and onto his if he got within feet of me. Well, Cyril likes me better. Nyah.

After the test and visit, the coordinator told us that we were just the kind of people who should have Sasha in their home. We were thrilled, and only have the home inspection hurdle to overcome before we can get her and bring her home. As it turns out, one of the board members/home inspectors was in Seattle over the weekend and could have seen our home and allowed us to take Sasha with us when we left. Sigh. Regardless, the inspector from Olympia should be calling us soon to arrange a time to run over our house with a white cotton glove. Thank God we're mostly tidy. I can't bear to think of what would happen if they decided we just seemed too sketchy to have the little fluffy bunny head. However, I think we're keen. We can provide written testimonials.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

One of several men with whom I share a shower.

I read a hilarious article a while back about the realities of bird ownership, and, until two weeks ago, thought that the answer to the question on bathing would forever describe how our birds felt about our attempts to get them wet. When we would try to approach any of them with the spray bottle or bring them to the shower, they would shiver in terror and fling themselves to the floor. Once we got them into the shower, they would clamp down their feathers so tightly that the water would merely bead up and roll off, like off of a freshly waxed car. But, as one of the most important things that a bird owner can do to help keep their birds' feathers in good condition is bathe them, we kept trying.

On a recent morning when Cyril seemed particularly dry and dusty, was losing a large number of feathers and was bristly with new ones, I thought I'd help ease his suffering a bit by drenching him to the nostrils. Apparently, molting is a pretty crappy, itchy process and the water helps to soothe the skin. I brought him into the bathroom with me on his portable stand and set him on the edge of the tub. Now, ever since I taught him to wave for a treat, he picks up his left foot and touches his beak whenever he sees something he wants. He also turns around in a circle, just like we taught him, thinking logically that a treat will follow, that smart chicken. So, I'm in the shower, and he's waving and spinning and leaning towards the water, which I'd never seen him do, so I picked up the perch and brought him close to the spray. He spread his wings, fluffed up all his feathers, opened his mouth and stuck his head underneath the showerhead. He delightedly shook and fluffed and flapped and squacked and drank and was so happy that, when I tried to move him so I could take a shower myself, he kept yelling and leeeeeeeaning and flying back to me and tangling himself in my hair. I must have held him in the spray for ten minutes. Of course, Christian was in Whistler for a work trip, so he missed the little show. I kept hoping that Cyril would want to shower again, but in the times that I had brought him to the bathroom since, he hadn't shown much interest, until yesterday. I always say good morning to the birds as soon as I get up, and I noticed that Cyril seemed twitchier than usual, so I got the perch and took him to the bathroom, hoping that he'd want to shower. As soon as I set him down on the tub, he started to lean and wave and turn. When I turned on the shower, he fluffed up and started to pace, so impatient. I picked him up on his perch, got in and stuck him under the showerhead. Thankfully, Christian was home this time and caught the bliss on film:

He refused to leave the shower until he was so wet that his tail feathers were dripping. You've never seen anything so scraggly as a wet parrot's ear hole. I then, of course, had to give him a little blow dry, which he also loves, and, like a dog, tries to eat the air as it's blowing in his face. I only use the low setting, of course. He was still slightly damp when I got home. I'm hoping that I can get him to run through the sprinklers this summer.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I know.

I know! Geez, I've been working on a painfully horrifying enormous grant that is due next week but will most likely kill me beforehand due to the stress of it and not being able to sleep because I dream about trainee tables taunting me because no one ever wants to give me their information and I have to beg and promise cookies and ask my bosses to go after people to find out from where Bob Smith recieved his bachelor's degree thirty years ago and I've had La Boheme which will seemingly never end either because this is the longest opera run in creation and I really hate this show anyway so it's just torture to hear the same shite over and over again five nights a week (at least the money is good) and we have birthday parties and baptisms this weekend and a cheese festival that I'm probably going to have to miss although that makes me cry because I love cheese more than life itself and we have to go to Eugene next weekend to meet Sasha and I'm taking the following week off to recover but I have a travel class I don't know if I should reschedule because they only happen every few months but I want to stay in Eugene to take Sasha to the vet to get her checked out (we can't have her if she'd make the poopers sick) and I haven't had the time/energy to vacuum and Mom and Dad are staying with us this weekend and oh shit, I forgot to change the bedsheets in the guest room and I haven't planted the tomatoes, pumpkins and cucumbers we bought last weekend and they're going to die and WHEN THE HELL will I get a chance to do that? Oh yeah, NEVER.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Project Object

I could spend the rest of my life just knitting for the boys.

With models this cute, I could make a killing selling baby knitwear. I love this little sweater. Love. It. I wanted to carry it around with me in my pocket and take it out occasionally when in a bad mood. Of course, the hat was too small for the giant head. I think I should start taking orders now.