Friday, January 30, 2009

Another Earthquake

We experienced another temblor yesterday afternoon around 4 p.m. This time, it was only a 2.5 magnitude quake. There wasn’t a lot of shaking, and it sounded more like an explosion this time. But I could tell it came from the same direction as the one we had in December. Charleston has a history of earthquakes. In 1886 an earthquake measuring between 6.6 and 7.3 on the Richter scale occurred around 10 p.m. The city didn’t have electricity and the full extent of the damage wasn’t realized until the next morning. Every building sustained some measure of damage. People lived in tents in the city parks for weeks because they were afraid to go back in their homes. If you are interested in viewing actual photos taken in 1886 following that devastating earthquake, you can see them at this website belonging to the St. Louis University Earthquake Center - Amazingly, the streetscape is recognizable today. Most of the buildings pictured are still standing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Let’s Spell It Out!

Down south, we put our initials on everything – purses, flip flops, pendants, bracelets, shirts, jackets, towels…you get the picture. I decided I wanted to put our initial on the front door, so I asked my brother-in-law if he could cut a “G” out for me with his scroll saw. He agreed. First, I printed a “G” using the computer in a font that I liked. I made it as large as possible while still fitting on a standard sheet of paper. Then I enlarged it by hand on a piece of poster board. I’m somewhat crafty, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to sketch out. Then I cut the letter out and gave it to my brother-in-law. A few days later, he had it cut out using a nice grade plywood. I originally was going to hang it with ribbon, so I found a pretty turquoise and green ribbon and matched the paint to it. But after I painted the letter, the ribbon detracted from it. I think perhaps a plain ribbon would have worked better but I’m happy with it just like it is. My husband attached a D-ring hanger on the back and I finished it up by spraying it with a glossy sealer.

P1000495 P1000496

Easy peasy! (If you know someone with a scroll saw…)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where’s An Exorcist When You Need One?

Yesterday evening I was surfing the web, clicking through blogs just to see what other people were writing, and how they format and design their blogs. I was innocently clicking the ‘Next Blog’ hyperlink that you see in the Navbar that is at the top of most blogspot blogs. I don’t recommend doing that! After leaping through several interesting blogs, I landed on a blog that downloaded a malware bot on my machine. Even though I have anti-spyware and virus protection installed and running, I was attacked. As soon as the blog opened, I knew that it was loading something bad, so I used task manager to close down the explorer session. But it was too late. This malicious code created a pop-up that told me I was in danger and that I need to purchase ‘antiviruspro’ to protect myself. It also disabled the automatic update in my Windows security center. I could not manually reset it. It also opened multiple sessions of Internet Explorer, and as I was trying to close them, more kept opening. I ended up having to manually shut down my computer. Next, I researched ‘antiviruspro’ on the virus and spyware forum at It is a particularly nasty one. It even prevents you from running programs that it knows will destroy it. I followed the numerous suggestions of poor folks who also had the misfortune of being infected. I stayed up past midnight last night running various apps and ran more all day today. Almost 24 hours later, I think the issue is resolved, but only time will tell.

I notified blogspot, but I don’t know how long it will take them to remove the blog. I do know I’m not going to visit it to check!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Valentine Decor

I always like to try to decorate for Valentine's Day. It is my favorite holiday, the holiday of romance. Last year I used a cloche for my Valentine decor. I assembled it using an antique hanky, a vintage pin, a picture of my grandson and a teddy bear.

This year I brought the cloche out again. I used a small figurine, valentine sprinkles, a valentine candle ring and a big red heart. I tied a red ribbon on the knob to finish it off.

"To be content in bliss, without desire or insistence anywhere, this was heaven: to be together in happy stillness." D.H. Lawrence

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Saved a Human Today

I rescued a human today.
Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels.
I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.
As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage.
I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me.
I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her.
Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.
A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.
Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side.
I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.
I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors.
So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.
I rescued a human today.

This beautiful poem was written by Carl Nyland. I found it at

This picture was taken of Gus shortly after I adopted him. I had him for eighteen years. He was a smart little devil, but he definitely had a mind of his own. When I saw him in the kennel at the SPCA, he sat up and begged. I thought he was begging me to choose him. Now I think it was the case of him choosing me, instead.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What Not to Say to Potential Clients

Last week my Mom's insurance agent came to the house to introduce himself (and to see if he could sell us some additional coverage). He was a polite young man. When he came in, he graciously said how nice our home was and was very solicitous, asking about our health and if we had enjoyed the past holidays. Then he said it. He innocently remarked, "You really remind me of my Mom".

I can't imagine the stunned look that must have crossed my face as I struggled to regain my composure. It was bad enough when the bag boys at the grocery store started calling me ma'am, but having a grown man tell me I look like his mother was almost more than I could bear. I admit I'm only a few days shy of my 54th birthday - and I have a grandson. But I've never had children of my own and I have never thought of myself as a mother. Whatever else he had to say after that was lost in a fog. The poor guy obviously thought he was paying me a compliment, but a slap in the face would have been more welcome.

Even though bifocals and menopause serve as a reminder to the contrary, on the inside I'm still a childless 30-something, wondering what I'm going to do when I grow up.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How to Make a Silhouette

If you have seen all the silhouette decor lately and wish you could do it yourself, it is pretty easy with software. I used Microsoft Digital Image Pro 7. It's an old program, but is quite simple to use. This is much easier than trying to cut out a silhouette using tiny specialty scissors. Especially if you have issues with close-up work like I do.

The first step is to take a good shot of your subject from the side. After I took this, I realized it would have been much easier to 'cut' it out if I'd lit him up from the side and then took a picture of the shadow itself on the wall with no flash. This worked okay, but I made more work for myself.

Then I uploaded the photo to Digital Image and cut out the the portion I wanted to use. Next I filled it with black (I added his eyelashes by hand). For the writing in the background, I searched the internet for sayings about boys and typed my favorite ones in Word - repeating when necessary. They don't really show up that much. I just wanted something written in a nice script in the background. Another possibility would be to type your child's name, or adjectives describing him. Then I made the writing transparent by fifty percent. When I was done, I printed it on parchment paper.

This is the finished product. I found the perfect frame at Target. (Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The New Camera

Santa Claus was good to me and brought the camera I asked for. I was wanting a camera to take indoor pictures of the kittens using just natural light. They move so swiftly, it is very difficult to get a good shot of them except when they are sleeping. Santa brought a Panasonic LX3, which has the option of using either manual or automatic settings. I love it. I am getting some great pictures already - even outdoor pictures of the house with the Christmas lights on.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Our Foundlings

At the end of June, my husband found an abandoned kitten at work. Since we are animal lovers, he brought it home. It was only three weeks old, and very tiny. But it had a huge voice. We took it to the vet and it was determined to be healthy and a female. I had to bottle-feed her several times a day for a couple of weeks (this also entailed burping and stimulating elimination). We named her Taji - which means 'silver and yellow' in Japanese. Her eyes eventually turned into a beautiful pale aqua. A week or so later, he found two more kittens. A co-worker took one, and he brought the other home. She was so thin and frail, you could feel every bone in her tiny body. She felt as weightless as a little bird in your hand. She was only about half the size of the first kitten. We named her Max. At the time we had a bit of gender confusion, which was cleared up during her first visit to the vet. Max is a brown tabby with amber gold eyes and she has a heart shape on her right flank. Both are now spayed and micro-chipped. They are active, healthy, fun-loving kittens - practically inseparable. Our oldest cat, Ling, ignores them unless they invade her space. If they get too close, she snarls at them and quickly runs away. The younger cat, Bella, now plays with them and they chase one another up and down the hall and all throughout the house. At night, the three youngest pile up on the bed with us. Mom gives them treats every morning when she gets up, and you would think it was the Pied Piper coming down the hall. They practically stampede in front of her, sometimes coming back and winding themselves around her legs, crying plaintively for their treats. Taji is still very vocal, and insistently demanding. She is much more vocal and assertive than Max with her hesitant little mew. Max is the lover of the group. She still wants to be picked up and snuggled often. She will stand up on her haunches and reach up to me to be picked up. Taji likes to be held and stroked early in the morning and late at night. She shows her pleasure by purring very loudly. But they both like to doze on my lap while I'm watching TV in the evening, and curl up with Mom during the day.
I can't begin to tell you how fulfilling it is to know that we've saved two little lives. The love we've received in return is priceless.

Guess what, that isn't the end of this story. Two weeks later, my husband found a fourth kitten, the lone male of the group. He brought it home and our neighbor adopted him. This little boy kitty loves getting baths and being dressed in doll clothes. I can't imagine our two going along with that.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

To all non-pet owners who visit and complain about our cats

They live here. You don't.
If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.
I like my cats a lot better than I like some people.
To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted children who are short, furry, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, cats are better than kids because they...
1. eat less,
2. don't ask for money all the time,
3. are easier to train,
4. normally come when called,
5. never ask to drive the car,
6. don't hang out with drug-using people,
7. don't smoke or drink,
8. don't want to wear my clothes,
9. don't have to buy the latest fashions,
10. don't need a gazillion dollars for college and
11. if they get pregnant, I can sell their children.

Merry Christmas

We enjoyed sharing a very blessed Christmas together. We ate until we were stuffed, then ate some more.