Saturday, February 26, 2011

Waltzing the Cat

Hostess: Erin (me)
Book: Waltzing the Cat by Pam Houston
Food: Lemon Risotto with Asparagus, hummus, pita, baguette, brie en croute, brownies, cheese and crackers
Wine of the Night: Fetzer Merlot
Month: February

My step mom Shellie introduced me to this book and author years ago, and I fell in love with Houston's writing from the minute I opened the book. I couldn't wait to hear what my friends thought of it as well.

Lucy O'Rourke is a fearless figure, traveling about hither and yon, camera in hand, navigating rapid rivers. I read this and think, what a great life, I would love to be a traveling photographer, going on adventures and experiencing new cultures. The only thing that seems to trip her up are her relationships with men. We go from one relationship to the next with Lucy, wondering what is around every turn ~ and we learn she has some excess baggage from her childhood too.

This book is a series of short stories, all about Lucy. We all seemed to have our favorites ~ Chrissy enjoyed the title story, I liked Three Lessons in Amazonian Biology, Jennifer's favorite was Then You Get Up and Have Breakfast...we all seemed to enjoy different stories. When it came to Lucy's relationships, we seemed to root for either Erik Sorenson, the alcoholic, or Marcus, who seems like he will be the one, but is not. We all thought Carter was a joke, and couldn't believe Lucy was even with him! For a while, it seemed like we were talking about the relationships of someone we knew. The book had its emotional ups and downs, aside from Lucy's man troubles - I know quite a few of us said we cried when we read about Lucy's mother, I was sick inside waiting for Ellie the dog to get better, and hoping that she would.

All in all, this book seemed to have a bit of everything for all of us, and we are a group of women with very distinct and different personalities, with interests in common. And, this is the third book I have chosen that features water as a theme and literary device. I am going to have to investigate that further, I think.

Next month is Mary ~ she has chosen A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest Gaines. It should be a thought provoking read, and I am looking forward to it!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bird Nerd

A little known fact about me - I am a bird nerd. I am sure everyone could guess that I love owls, but in fact I love all birds. Except maybe Turkeys. About three years ago I decided to set up bird feeders in my yard - five of them to be exact- and I would actually wake up at 7 AM on the weekend to watch the birds at the feeders. I was usually up before they were, but I still sat glued to the window, watching and waiting. It wasn't long before I bought bird identification books and started making lists of the ones I had spotted. Next I began researching how to attract different types of birds to my yard. I began annoying everyone around me by identifying every bird we saw. Then we got Penny - public enemy number one to backyard birds. So, the bird feeders had to come down.

But I missed my early mornings with the birds - for some reason it was so relaxing to sit inside and watch them feeding, knowing that I was helping them to survive. (except for the times the hawks came to visit the feeders) In the winter, the Northern Cardinals look so bright and beautiful, and in the summer you get the yellow glory of the American Goldfinch. And the bird song in the summer is wonderful to wake up to, or so I think. So a few months ago I hung feeders in the front yard, and I have my birds back. The cats love the placement, and sit and watch them for hours, chattering and pawing the window. I don't do that, but I do sit and watch the birds, always hoping for a new sighting.

Today was a pretty cool day - Billy and I went to Oakwoods Metropark near our home, and hung out in the Nature Center with Ronni, one of the interpreters as she participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count. I have to admit, part of my desire to go to Oakwoods today was to see if they were doing anything with the GBBC; I knew they would have much better sightings. It was so cozy to sit in the Nature Center, with its window that is pretty much the entire back of the building, drinking coffee with someone who can identify the birds for you, and explain the identification. And we saw so many different birds - Bald Eagles, Mallards, an American Black Duck, Nuthatches, Cardinals, Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers to name a few of my favorites of the day. We also saw the ones I see the most- the little saucy Black Capped Chickadee, White Breasted Nuthatches that feed upside down, Cardinals, a Coopers Hawk and a Sharp Shinned Hawk, a Blue Jay. And we were only there an hour! I can't imagine the variety we might have seen had we sat there longer. It was a day after my bird loving heart.

I don't think I will ever be someone who actively will go out and bird watch, fully intending to look for certain birds. Unless I am going on an owl walk, to spot different owls. For the most part, I prefer to stumble upon them while out walking and be surprised, or watch them from my kitchen table, cup of coffee in hand, with a cat on my lap.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pink, sugary, hearts

Valentines Day has never been a big favorite of mine. If I were to rank the big holidays in order of which I like most to the ones I like least, this is one that I would put near the bottom. I like Halloween and St. Patrick's Day much more.

When I was a kid, it was just too pink. And too lavender - maybe I should say just too pastel, for me. I also associated this time of year with car sickness and being overly warm indoors, since my mom would dress me in very warm clothing, to protect me from the cold outside, but then I would get to school and roast to death. I also didn't like having to sign my name to all those little valentine cards, five a night, until they were finished. But I did it, thanks to the persistence of my parents. On the flip side, the day of school party, I would worry that I would show up and have no valentines in my wonderfully created out of construction paper and hearts valentines mailbox, that other parents would not be as diligent as mine. I never had an empty mailbox, but it didn't stop me from worrying.

As a married woman who has been with her husband since she was 17, I do view the holiday a bit differently than when I was in elementary school. At first in our marriage and courtship, I felt such pressure to be romantic. And in my mind, I thought this meant pink and flowers and nausea again. We had to go out to a fancy restaurant, etc. etc. And I enjoyed them, and so did Billy, but it never felt like us. The day became artificial, and inauthentic, except, obviously for our feelings for each other. We were doing what we thought we were supposed to do on Valentines Day, what we had assumed the day was about. And for some people, this is perfect for them. And that is fine too, it is just not Billy and I.

Now, we are more true to our relationship on Valentines Day, and in fact, it is not such a big deal. We cook for each other, or eat at a local, small restaurant that serves good food, but not particularly fancy. We spend a day exploring new places, maybe, or just stay home and order Chinese and hang out together, something that does get lost in our everyday, between work and all our responsibilities. Sure, we celebrate each other, but we do it our way.

Caution- it gets a little sappy here.

I also feel like we show each other everyday, in small ways, that we love each other, like getting out of bed into the freezing cold to start coffee for the other, going somewhere you don't want to go at all without saying a word, simply because you know the other wants to do it, or when Billy fills my bird feeders in the middle of a blizzard because he knows I am worried about the birds.
We will celebrate Valentine's Day, but we remember to love each other everyday.

And hopefully, minus a lot of pastels.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Not Amused

My English Setter Penny is not amused by all this snow we have.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Love Me Because..

Today was a good day in animal rescue ~ it was one of those heart-warming, tear jerking days, the ones that get us through the sad times and the hard times.

This was one of those days that you volunteer in animal rescue for.

The Love Me Because event is an adoption event to help those animals with special needs find their homes. We implore people not to love them despite their problems, but rather because of their problems. We want them to be loved because they are overweight, have medical issues, are older, are not cuddly, have behavior issues because no one taught them better ~ and sometimes, simply because they are overlooked, for no apparent reason.

Today so many of these animals were adopted out, including many long time residents from the shelter I volunteer for.

Tibby is an adorable calico ~ she is very sweet, despite her constant frowny grumpy face. She has been in our shelter for at least 10 months. Today she found her permanent home, one with kids to love her. They looked beyond her grumpy face to the sweet cat within.

Willa Nelson is a gorgeous orange tabby~ she came into the shelter so full of worms they had infiltrated her bloodstream. We treated the worms, yet the neglect she had suffered prior to us had taken its toll, causing poor Willa to slightly drag her back legs. Today, she found a family that loved her, walking impairments and all.

Some of our long timers were not so lucky ~ poor Quicksilver is still looking for his home. I can't believe this handsome devil is still without a permanent, loving family to call his own. He is a fighter and a survivor, having come to our shelter on death's door, starving and flea ridden. He is a well fed, healthy boy now, and continues to wait for the right family. He is a cool guy who even has his own Facebook page, Quickster McChubbs!

Even though Quicksilver still waits, so many others found their homes - a pair of senior sister tortoiseshells were adopted by two senior sisters, a shy black cat named Ranger was adopted to a quiet home where he will flourish, a beagle recovering from ear surgery went to a great home as well. For all of us volunteers, today was a great day, to see those we worried about and loved find their happily ever afters.

You can view more pictures of the event at the Wyandotte Patch.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Big Blizzard Coming..

This is the storm with many names..Snowzilla..Snowtorious B.I.G....Snowpocalypse. The list goes on and on. I like to call it the Blizzard that Ate the World, personally. It is currently snowing like a son of a out there, and I am waiting for Billy and our neighbor Greg to get back from Meijer with a spark plug for the snow blower.

The past few days have been a little crazy around here, gearing up for the storm. Everyone asking, will we get the snow? Will it happen? Running to the store to get supplies and whatever else they feel they need. I didn't go to the store, but I did come up with an emergency plan in case we lose power and heat - thanks to my dad, a full time Red Cross volunteer in the Disaster Services Department, I always have to come up with an emergency plan. My plan is simple : if the power goes out and we don't have heat, we will pack up the animals and head to my aunt's house, and her giant living room and fireplace. She could probably pack our whole family in there to keep us all warm. It would actually probably be kind of fun - I can see all of us with beds of blankets on the floor, talking, drinking, laughing, little Chloe dancing. But I am hoping it doesn't come to this, I would rather stay in my own home, cuddled up here. But it is good to have a plan.

In a minute I am going to make an overnight French Toast Casserole , that sounds like the perfect thing for tomorrow morning. And then I am going to read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I might even read it to Billy while I am at it. It is just a Little House on the Prairie kind of night, in weather and in spirit.