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Friday, January 28, 2011

Sleep on It

We got a new bed.  Like a beloved pet (even Elaine, eventually), our old Temperpedic mattress did -- after 18 years -- die.  Off we went to the Healthy Back Store and bought the updated version.  However, they clerk forgot to mention (or, in our awe and delight, we didn't hear) that there were two depths of foundations.  (Temperpedics are too la de da to have box springs, you know; they come with foundations which are basically big boxes.)  They delivered the 9" high foundation.  We needed step stools just to sink into bed!  I called the store and, with NO PROBLEMS (Healthy Back Stores are wonderful) they made an appointment to exchange it for the 4" foundation. 

So there I was (thank goodness it was the day BEFORE our enormous snow storm), with a freshly ironed, brand new dust ruffle over my shoulder (although why it's called a ruffle when it has a total of three inverted pleats, I don't know, but I'd forgotten to iron it the first time, thinking it would unforld from it's 4 x 6 inch bag smooth and pristine so it had been drooping from the bed a wrinkled mess.  This was a second chance.)  So there I was, standing there, when I had a brilliant idea for  Blog post.  It was something about a blob of something, and then, like a draft through the window, it came to me that that was analogous to a glob of something else.  An idea and a title -- the Blob and the Glob -- all in one swoop.  I couldn't write it down, though, because I was trapped between the end of the bed and the bathroom door while the delivery men were trading the foundations.

They positioned the 4" foundation and I spread on the dust ruffle.  Then they replaced the mattress.  Steve and I showed them out and had a little conversation, and by that time, they idea was gone, wafted away on the mist.  It might come back to me in a dream., though, on my comfy, new, wonderful bed!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sheremetyevo (Sher-ih-met-Yev-oh) Airport in Moscow is old.  The recent renovations brought less dirt brighter lights and more chairs, brighter lights but there's not disguising it's age.  To get there, you had to metro to the end of the line and smuch yourself and your baggage onto an over-crowded bus or hire a car.  The ride took an hour.  When you enter the airport doors, you go through a slue of security checks that are tiresome and, seemingly redundant.  As soon as you go through the airport doors, you are in a line (granted, a chaotic Russian line) to put your bags on an x-ray machine.  Once through that, your stuff goes through another x-ray machine and a hand search before it's loaded on the plane.  You go through another machine before entering the holding pen, er, gate for your flight.

Domodedivo (Do-mo-DED-ih-voh) was the shiny new airport.  A beautiful arc of gray steel and glass, you could actually ride the metro directly to it.  And while the Russian cultural urge to push ahead and call a mob a queue, the airport was spacious and shiny and clean.  It's entry hall was sparkly bright and, even five years ago, Steve and I noticed security wasn't quite as tight as that at Sheremetyevo.  (Go ahead, try it out loud -- you can say it.)  

Now Domodedivo's beauty is shattered by a suicide bomber's hopeless rage. Thirty-five lives blacked out. Fear and pain and sorrow in the world.  Again.  Nothing funny about this entry.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why Clone a Calico?

Several weeks ago, I heard a snippet on NPR about cloning, the commercial cloning of dogs in particular.  The question was asked why didn't "they" clone cats?  In fact, they'd cloned cats first, before dogs.  They cloned a Calico cat. 
                Whoa, I thought, there's trouble.  Of all the millions of sweet, docile or active, playful cats in the world, why would anyone choose to clone a Calico cat?  Elaine, my almost-16-year-old Calico cat, has many great attributes.  Well, at least one, anyway.  She loves me.  I know this because she likes to be in a room with me, except for her morning nap.  After she eats breakfast, she makes me open the sliding glass door to the porch to check the weather.  Yes, still winter (in the warm weather, she goes out and usurps Steve's porch chair all day; if he tries to sit there, he gets a clawful).  When it's cold, though, she arthritically heads downstairs where she yowls four times -- not three times, and not five times, but precisely four times.  Why?  Who knows.  After the yowl, she sleeps until lunch. 
                After lunch, she'll find me and sleep near-by.  She will, sometimes, even curl up in my lap.  She lets me pet her a few times – not too many, though – and wants me to scratch her cheeks – not too much, though.  Yep, loving me is her good trait.  In exchange for these outbursts of affection, I am permitted to feed her, brush her and clean her litter box.  Calicos are known to be like this (although I was innocent of that fact when we got her), just as they are known for living a loooong time.  So, basically, if you get a Calico cat for a pet, you will be a servant to an aloof animal that will live forever.  I love my Elaine, but she is not the cat I would choose     to replicate.  
                                                                                         [Here's Elaine looking deceptively docile.]
There was Merlin who would follow me around the house and around the block and who was smart enough to try to open doors by reaching for the handles.  There was Smedly whose purr could wake you up at night.  There was the sainted Baby Cat who let Stephanie set him atop a pile of toys in a baby swing and swing him.  He also spent significant time in a turquoise dolly skirt that matched mother/daughter skirts Stephanie and I wore.  There was Tabby who slept in the crook of David's arm and, in turn, had his foreleg around David's stuffed bunny.  Any of these affectionate animals would be on my list for ahead of my Elaine for what one wants in a pet. Way ahead.
                The cloned Calico cat's owner felt differently, it seems.  He or she loved his cat ardently and wanted to replace it with itself.  The Calico, as all Calicos do, had different ideas. 
                The geneticists declared that the new animal was an exact replica of the first.  Grown from the same DNA, the two were identical in every way.  The owner, not being blind, could see that they weren't.  The new cat had a different fur pattern from its progenitor.  Perhaps it was splotches instead of patches or a gray spot where the first had a black one.  I don't know.  I only know that, knowing Elaine as I do, no one should have been surprised.  Any self-respecting Calico (which would be all of them) would have both the desire and the ability tweak is own DNA.  
            But if we weren't speaking of pets, I would totally get it.  If someone were to clone me, or, rather, if I were a cloned being, I wouldn't want to be exactly like me  (Are you following this?).  I would want to have some -- any -- small identifier that made me uniquely me.  Maybe I'd have straight hair or maybe -- hey, can I vote for a faster metabolism?  I wonder if people could do that.  I wonder if we have as deep a sense of individuality -- DNA deep -- as a small, furry pussycat.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Santa Rides Again

I know that the Christmas holiday is over, and it seems a little out-of-season to be writing about Santa Claus, but, you know, we all do what we can do, when we can do it.  Here is my story about my little Santa Claus. 

About a million years ago (okay, about 25 years ago) , I saw the most adorable pattern for a tiny stuffed Santa and Rudolf.  I bought some cute Christmas fabric and, even though stuffing is my least favorite craft activity, I made them up.  They were SO CUTE!  Being slightly (yes, really, only slightly) obsessive and because they were so cute, I made all the reindeer.  At the 5 & 10 – which, when they existed, were the most wonderful stores in the world  --  I found a small rattan sleigh.  I wrapped some tiny boxes (did I mention the slightly obsessive thing?), bought a tiny ornament sack labeled "reindeer feed," and Santa flew across the coffee table or book case every Christmas, in the past fifteen years witnessed by my children's dolls and stuff animals gathered under the tree.  However, the past few years, we were either in Russia or at Pumpkin and Pie Boy's house, and so Santa and the dolls stayed smushed in the plastic tub (yes, with cedar slats).

Last December we all barreled down to Disney World so just Steve and I were here for the holiday.  However, Pumkin and Pie Boy were here for Thanksgiving, so the next day I pulled out the tub the next day and put out Santa while they arranged the toys around the room (alllll around the room).  I was sad to notice that Santa's fabric was splitting down the middle of his back and his cotton beard, which I'd been vowing to replace for many years, was grayer and more more sparse than ever.  When I re-packed Christmas, I held Santa back for repair.

 I inserted a piece of Stitch Witchery under the bright cotton on his back, smoothed the fabric over it, and ironed.  This did a lovely job of fusing the fabric together.  Unfortunately, it also melted some of the stuffing, making Santa's back stiff as a board.  He now sports excellent posture.  I clipped his beard close and deep in the recesses of my linen closet found the old roll of bandaging cotton.  I don't think this stuff is even sold any more, and you certainlywouldn't want to use this particular roll (opened since 1982) for an open cuts or abrasions or anything really.  I don't think I've even used it for crafting since Santa's first beard.  There it was, though, cleverly forgotten in the back beyond.  I cut a piece, glued it in place andpulled and fluffed it. 

Santa is repaired!  The man, the myth, the jolly old elf rides again in his full glory!  And he's still really cute.



And, for a fuller picture, here's Santa, Rudolph and Cupid -- 'cause what's Christmas without a little love.


(Lookit me!  *puffs with pride*  I uploaded pictures!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stinky Shears

Have you had the delight of hosting stink bugs?  As I'm sure you know, they are the latest invasive species to cross our boarders.  No fences or patrols or tough laws will keep them out. 

At the end of the summer, we had quite a few.  Then it got really cold, and the infestation abated.  It warmed up again, and we had a lethargic few appear now and again.  At one point, our eating area lamp, which hangs like a bowl, had six or seven burnt up ones nestled inside.  Steve got the vacuum cleaner extension and sucked 'em out. 

Now it's cold again, and they haven't been much seen until today.  Today I decided to try some different curtains in our bedroom.  I took down the flowered valences to find 6 or 7 stink bugs in their folds.  Then I took down the shears.  Oho!  Each panel was a little stink bug highway.  They were strolling up and down at a leisruely pace.  We carefully picked them off (if you sqeeze them, they, well, they stink), Steve gently with toilet paper, me gently with my hands.  No, I'm not squeemish.  We dropped them in the toilet and flushed -- the only way to smellessly get rid of them. 

I've gone around the rest of the house with a feather duster, but the other curtains seem clean.  Those little buggies loved just the green shears.  Maybe the fabric was alluring?  Maybe it held in the heat better?  Maybe it was just the color?  Who knows?  Who cares?  They (the shears, not the bugs) are currently spinning in my dryer on high heat. 

Steve read an article in The Post a while ago that was touting preparation of new dishes based on  invasive species as a way to control their numbers.  No natural preditors?  Let humans step up.  Could I whip up a tasty Kadzu salad with stink bug dressing to complement those odd-looking Asian fish that fill up our ponds?  Well, I COULD, but don't hold your breath.  Espcially if you've just breathed in the aroma of a squashed stink bug.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Popcorn WITH Butter

Have you noticed how many good movies came out over the winter holidays? I usually go to four or five movies over the course of a year (God save Netflix!), but I saw five (5!) over the break, surpassing the norm within a month. In case you haven't seen them, I thought I'd give a quick overview of each.

Megamind: Great for the 3 – 9 set. The phrase, "That was a bad idea," is hysterical to a three-year-old.  Adults can sit through it without pain.

Tangled: A perfectly charming way to comb out the snarls. Kudos to Disney for finally featuring a prince equally as important as a princess.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I: I'm a Ravenclaw, and it's all TRUE.

The Black Swan: Odette. Odille. OH, No.  Doesn't work as a ballet movie nor as a psychological thriller; save your money.

Narnia, The Dawn Treader:  World's Best Sea Monster! 

The King's Speech: Brits stuttering are better to listen to than American s not. Plus they can act, plus it has a good script.
Yet to come: Tron and True Grit