Sunday, December 20, 2009

Song of the Week - 7

Happy Holidays! I do love this time of the year. I am just as mesmerized now by homes and streets beautifully lit up, as I was when I was a kid. I love to decorate my own house, and really hate to take it all down after the first of the year. I love making holiday treats for people and I love giving gifts. I love holiday songs and the happy memories the holiday brings. I do believe that this time of the year really brings out the best in many people.

In honor of the holiday and of so many fabulous songs, this week is a double header of classic songs sung by classic singers. Wishing you a happy holiday.

The Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie.

Marshmallow World by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


My love of all things reindeer started when I was a kid. These amazing and beautiful creatures that could fly, without wings, pulling a sleigh with a jolly fellow and tons of presents, seemed magical to me. I just loved them and wanted to have one as a pet but living in a desert-like climate was not an ideal environment for live reindeer. Besides, our backyard was rather flat and contained more decorative rock than foliage.

Apparently, not to let the kids down, my parents came up with a solution. My sister and I got adorable blow-up reindeer. One Christmas morning, they were under the groovy metal tree along with my new Knit-O-Matic and my sister's new Don't Spill the Beans board game.

As an adult, I've managed to collect quite an assortment of reindeer. Ornaments, plush toys, statues. Reindeer on hand towels, wrapping paper, paper plates, gift boxes, treat bags, you name it. Also as an adult, I still love watching the Rankin-Bass classic TV production, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. I love that animated Rudolph so much, that a few years ago, I was lucky enough to get myself this collectible ornament from Avon:

So, as you spend this final week before the Yuletide holiday finishing up shopping, baking, gift wrapping, gift making, maybe take a little time to reflect on the good things in your life - good health, family, friends, talents. Some say that expressing gratitude is good for the soul in so many ways. I'm going to give it try as I find this time of the year to be not only exciting, but somewhat stressful. I think I'll even try to carry this practice out year round.

Whatever or however you celebrate the holiday, may you be surrounded by the people you love and the things you love and may your holiday be filled with joy and cheer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cupboard, cabinet, closet, cat and ants

Growing up, we used all kinds of words to identify one thing. That thing is basically a case having doors and shelves. We had a pantry in the kitchen. We also had kitchen cupboards as well as kitchen cabinets. Why? Aren't they pretty much the same thing? Who knows! We also had a linen closet. The use of so many words to identify a "case having doors and shelves" has recently intrigued me. Mind you, I do realize that a pantry contains more shelves than a cabinet or cupboard (or so I think it does).

So, my recent fascination led me to look up dictionary definitions. According to Websters:

a closet with shelves where dishes, utensils, or food is kept; also : a small closet

a case or cupboard usually having doors and shelves

a cabinet or recess for especially china, household utensils, or clothing

They all seem pretty identical to me. Shelves, doors, utensils, storage.

I asked a friend as well as my sister for their thoughts on this. We all agreed that a closet is bigger and sis even noted that you hang things in closets. I did state that you don't hang linens. She agreed. My friend had the un-scientific impression that cupboards are high and cabinets are low (or was it the other way around?). Could very well be. No real "location" exists in the definitions. So, this mystery may still take some pondering.

I currently have cupboards and cabinets in my kitchen, and something I refer to as a linen closet. My kitchen cupboards and cabinets hold things like dishes, china, utensils, non-perishable food items. My linen closet holds sheets, towels, blankets and cat carriers (yes, not at all linens). Additionally, my linen closet also holds tissues, toothpaste, etc.

When doing laundry, I always do a "cat check" prior to turning on the dryer. I go through the house and make sure I see each cat. A few weeks ago while doing laundry, I found two of the three cats. I searched for the third but couldn't find him. I should say that early on, one of my cats became extremely interested in the "linen closet". He would, and still does, stand beneath it looking up, begging me to open the doors so he can jump in. He also, early on, established the bottom shelf as a new sleeping place, and in an attempt to keep him away from the clean linens, I put his cat bed on the bottom shelf and moved all linens up to the higher shelves. While frantically searching for Petey that night, I found him. He broke my rule. He was only supposed to be on the bottom shelf.

Then, last week, one week ago tonight, I noticed a few ants crawling on one of my built in cutting boards. They were persistent and just didn't seem to go away. I finally decided to open the cupboard, or cabinet, beneath the cutting board. Oh, Lord! I thought I was in the midst of a nightmare. Ants everywhere. Crawling on boxes of tea, crackers and storage bags. All over the shelves and all over jars. I knew if I fainted, they'd surely be crawling all over me!

Trust me, these images don't even really show just how creepy it was. They were EVERYWHERE. It took a few days to completely get rid of them. I have this lovely little can of "Natural Animal Cat Flea Powder". Active ingredients - pyrethrins. Yes, the label does state hazardous if swallowed, etc. Don't breath, don't swallow. Interesting if you're supposed to sprinkle this on cats, I think. I don't sprinkle this on my cats. Just use it when ants invade my living space.

Pyrethrins are natural insecticides produced by certain species of the chrysanthemum plant. I knew about pyrethrins from the very creepy book and then move, "The Naked Lunch". Sprinkle this stuff around infected ant areas, and ants will go away.

In conclusion: Bugs give me the creeps. Beware of what's behind closed doors. Cats will do their own thing. The real difference between cupboard, cabinet, closet is still a mystery to me.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Song of the Week - 6

Yesterday, I blogged about the theatrical production I saw, "Baby its You". It tells the story of New Jersey housewife, Florence Greenberg, who follows her dreams and finds her way into the music industry beginning in 1958. During that time, she also discovered the original "girl group", The Shirelles.

The story was inspiring but also sad. The Shirelles, like so many other entertainers, hit big, had a huge impact, and ultimately found themselves unable to keep up with the changing times and temporarily faded away. But, like so many others, they found their way back some 20, 30, 40 plus years later, with an influence and impact just as huge as it was originally.

The show also reminded us of some of the other greats of that time, namely Dionne Warwick. Dionne Warwick was discovered by the great music composer, Burt Bacharach, and his writing partner, Hal David. As they said in the play, "Dionne is going to be a star". She truly lived up to that!

Burt joined Florence's record label, Scepter Records, and produced the songs he wrote (with Hal) for Dionne. The last three songs of the play were Bacharach songs that Dionne made famous. As the show was wrapping up, with the once chart topping Shirelles sinking, I noticed I had tears running down my face. I was choked up. I guess in part because of the "loss" of the Shirelles (or anyone in such a position), the loss of Florence's romance with her partner, Luther Dixon, and the powerful music and lyrics of Bacharach and David, originally sung by the amazing voice of Warwick. I should add that the actress playing Dionne did it incredibly.

I also think it brought tears to my eyes because it made me think of my dad. He was a huge fan of Dionne and Bacharach. Years ago, I bought a Best of Dionne Warwick CD. I took that to a visit at my parents' house. We played the CD and my dad loved it so much that he asked if I could get him a copy of it. I left it with him and bought myself a new one.

I am pretty convinced that this week's song of the week, is one of the most powerful songs ever written. Even as I sit here typing this, I feel a lump in my throat just at the thought of this song. When I saw the play list last night, and saw this song on it, my hand just automatically landed on my heart as I leaned over to my friend and said, "oh my God, 'Don't Make Me Over'".

If you have never heard Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach or The Shirelles, do take some time and listen. You won't regret it.

The 1900 US Census

The US Census is such a valuable tool when doing genealogical research. The first time I saw my father listed on one as a toddler (2 years old), was truly exciting. These ledgers were handwritten by the Census takers. I am actually at a loss for words to express the feeling of seeing that.

On the other hand, not all Census takers were good spellers or very literate, nor were people at the time. Thus, information must be closely examined. Some people didn't seem to know their birth years and in many cases, last names were spelled wrong. You find that you must kick into detective mode occasionally, but when you can "connect the dots", it is just fascinating, and in some cases, quite sad.

When I first began the search, I started with the US Census and chose 1900. I found Lola in Joliet Township, Will, Illinois. She was apparently born there in October of 1894 and she was listed as being 5 years old. That made sense as the Census was usually taken in January or February. I discovered her father was George and her mother was Effie. George was born in Germany and Effie in Illinois. I also learned that Lola had siblings. She had a sister, Bessie who was 6 years old, a brother Munroe who was 4 years old, and a brother George who was 1 year old.

My dad did tell me that Lola's father was from Germany and that was really all I knew about her family. I did not know names nor did I know she had siblings. Siblings that were my father's aunt and uncles. He never mentioned them. I feel he must have known they existed, but then, who really knows. Those times were different. Maybe young girls married and went wherever their husbands could find work. Their ties may have been severed from their kin, leaving offspring clueless and completely out of touch with their families. This may have been the case with my father, but now that he is deceased and never did talk about this while he was alive, I may never know.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Theatre

I haven't been to the theatre in a while. One morning while heading to work, I stopped at the gas station. The station I generally go to has a local "oldies" radio station playing over the speakers, so you can hear tunes while watching your money get sucked up at the gas pump. This particular morning, the cast from a play were live on this station's morning show.

As I listened, I knew I had to get tickets. True, the opening of the production takes place before my time, but I knew all the songs. The play, "Baby its You", tells the story of New Jersey housewife, Florence Greenberg, who discovered The Shirelles and also started her own record label. That was a great accomplishment in the late 50s - early 60s! While folding laundry and cooking dinner for her husband (with dresses on and perfect hair and make-up), she listened to the radio and had a gift for music. She told her husband she had to follow her dream and moved back to New York to start her career in music. As I do not know all the details, I'm surely lacking valuable information and am motivated to learn more about her. Songwriter and producer, Luther Dixon, became her partner, in both work and life. This was truly scandalous at the time, not only a May-December relationship (I've read she was 48 and he was 28) but they were an interracial couple.

The music was so fabulous. The actors were as well. They ALL had amazing singing voices. It really blows my mind that these fabulous voices are not on vinyl! Considering artists currently popular and on vinyl is why I do NOT watch any music awards show.

This is not a paid advertisement. I do recommend seeing this show if you are in the Pasadena, California area. It has been extended through December 20th. I loved how some of my favorites made an appearance - Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick! I did see a local new stations cover this and talk about the show possibly going to Broadway. That would be cool because that would mean there'd be a great soundtrack coming out. The other positive factor was that the show also touched on history - something I love.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Song of the Week - 5

Let me start with a disclaimer. Anything I write here about music is ONLY my opinion and surely some might disagree with me.

I have said it before and I'll say it again, I really feel lucky growing up when I did - a kid in the 60s and a teenager in the 70s. Add to that, my parents' love of swing, big band, swooners and my older sister with a bunch of cool records, and there was really never a quiet moment musically in our house. Before the (in my opinion back then) dreaded disco era, there was the glam era. So intriguing and very musical. Raw, energetic, heavy guitar riffs, peppered by cool (mostly) English guys with wild hair, costumes, and (gasp) make-up.

Future "Song of Week" posts will feature some of these greats. This post, however, will pay tribute to a more recent band. I may be considered a "drag" when it comes to modern music (or maybe I'm turning into my parents) but I really don't find modern music that interesting or good. Wimpy female voices attached to bodies trying to do nothing more than show off fake chests and "dance" moves. Female-bashing rap. Whining boy bands. A bunch of stuff that just sounds so "produced" and without any real creativity. Sure, we had that in the 60s too, and I did love that as a kid, but, still it was different and catchy back then.

This week's song reminds me so much of Iggy Pop and the Stooges and their raw sound. So, when I thought music was dead, along came this band. If any of you know of more modern bands that are good, please let me know. In the meantime, enjoy! The band is from Australia and called Jet. The song - "Are You Gonna Be My Girl".

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The cats of the house - Petey

Petey is my middle "child", the beta cat of the house. Sometimes, though, he pretends to be the alpha cat. He came into my home back at my previous house, in 2005. Petey was adopted by a young family from the Humane Society. He first came into my life one rainy night in October of 2004. I was standing on my front porch and spotted this little cat out in the torrential down pour, in my front yard. I was able to lure him to me and pick him up. He didn't like that and struggled to flee my "evil" clutches. He did escape, but I was able to retrieve the little tag he wore on his humane society issued collar. It had a number on it. I called the local Humane Society, hoping to get contact info or to leave my contact info so that his new "parents" could be contacted. Sadly (but probably not) I reached an exchange and was not able to get or give any information. I didn't see him for a while after that.

At that time, I lived on a lot with two houses. My good friends lived in the other house. Our backyards (or the space masquerading as backyards) was connected, and we would spend many a day and night out there sitting at the table talking, eating, drinking, reading tarot cards, with music playing. It was just a blast living so close and sharing a yard. The neighborhood cats would generally swing by for a visit, running through the yard, playing with and chasing each other. Not only would the neighborhood cats, but also the local wildlife. As a rule, we had regular visits from skunks, possums and raccoons.

One such night, these wacky neighborhood cats thought it would be fun to chase the baby skunks around while we were all sitting out at the table. Well, us human-folk didn't think that was such a good idea but could not distract the cats. Finally, my sister announced she was turning in for the night and left the table. The animal and wildlife seemed to go "home" as well, and at some point, I decided to turn in myself. When I went into the house, my sister was sitting on the couch watching TV. She told me to look at the chair in the living room. I couldn't believe my eyes. There was Petey, the neighbor's cat, comfy and stretched out, sleeping on the chair. She told me that when she opened the door to go in, he was at her heels and walked right in, making himself at home! He never left after that.

Petey is not shy. He has no problem rubbing up against anyone, whether he knows them or not, if he wants food. Nor does he have any problem with using the cat box in the presence of strangers! He is such a sweet, vocal and animated guy. He was named Petey when he wandered in and I decided to keep that name. Mid 2005, my landlord told me I would have to move as they were selling the property. I knew without a doubt, I would take him with me, although, for months I was feeling kind of guilty knowing that his first family lived two houses away and probably missed him and didn't know what happened.

The landlords' realtor came in to photograph the houses on the lot. The not shy Petey found his way into some of the photos that ultimately ended up on the fliers advertising the houses. A few weeks before the actual move (oddly, another rainy day), Petey's first "mom" came over. I was shitting bricks. She saw his picture on the flyer and knew we were moving. She wanted to make sure we were taking him with us and not abandoning him. She told me that after moving in, she hired workers to remodel her house and then went on a vacation, leaving Petey home. Maybe he didn't like that as he is a very social cat and likes his people's attention. It is rare that he doesn't sleep on his "special" blanket on the bed.

Petey is a very lovable guy, as is Louie, and such a bright spot in my life. My friends come to visit and threaten to take him home with them. I won't allow that, no matter how they try to accuse me of stealing him! He, too, is a joy and a creative inspiration for me. He was the inspiration for my "guitar cat" series.

Sneak Peak

The week is just flying by, much to my surprise. I really thought that after the long weekend, this full work week would drag. Not the case. So, in an attempt to keep my promise to myself of two to three blog posts a week, I thought I should share.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have an unpopulated Etsy shop. I have been struggling to complete my shop policies (policies that I can live with and live up to) as well as figuring out the shipping details. I don't know why this is so hard for me to do.

I love many art forms. I draw, carve, print, paint, make jewelry. I made a bunch of memory wire bracelets last month for two craft fairs I participated in. They have approximately 3 loops. Memory wire is so cool. It looks a bit like a Slinky. It is so easy to put on and take off as it just easily wraps around the wrist. I used glass beads and charms.

I also have cat drawings that I scanned and then digitally colored in Photoshop. I plan to list a series of these prints in different color "themes" as well as dish towels and scarves hand printed with my carvings, screen printed shirts and Gocco prints. I am also working on some poodle drawings.

So, in between the copying, pasting and editing from various Etsy shop policies to create my own, I have started the holiday decorating of the house. I pulled the fake tree out of the box and put it up and added the little LED lights. Boy, that tree is nowhere near as full as depicted on the box photo! Looks like a trip to Target for tinsel is on the horizon! I'm looking forward to completing the decorating. I really could leave all the holiday decorations up year round, but surely some would find that tacky! Festive things around the house just seem so comforting. Alas, after all the work and thought in putting everything out on display, it will all be torn down and put back in storage in a matter of a few weeks for another year. Hmm, a year that will fly by in almost the blink of an eye.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Song of the Week - 4

Wow, the Thanksgiving holiday week has come and gone, and I broke my unspoken rule - to post at least two to three times a week. I guess that life gets in the way on occasion. Picking up mom. Cramming five days of work into three. Taking off early and taking mom shopping. Finishing up last minute holiday dinner grocery shopping. Cooking. Visiting with friends, blah, blah, blah. And now it's Sunday night. Ugh.

I did manage to catch the news this weekend and heard that this new movie, "New Moon" was the biggest money maker at the box office. This movie is based on a book from the "Twilight" series - tween books about vampires, forbidden love and the supernatural, written by apparently, a Mormon housewife. I haven't read the books yet, but am anxious to. Wow, Mormon housewife writing about supernatural stuff makes me wonder if she's still accepted in her church! No "meow" intended.

When I was a kid, I became obsessed with a popular soap opera at the time. I can't tell you how I discovered this show, but can tell you that I had to run home from school every single day to watch it. My friend, Lisa, and I, would trade off watching our FAV show between her house and mine. She lived two blocks away. We were obsessed. At the time, our moms were at home and not working out of the house.

In case you're wondering, the show was Dark Shadows! OMG, a daily soap opera about the goings on at this huge house called Collinwood. The house was owned by an "old money" family called Collins. They didn't know that their long deceased relative, one Barnabas Collins, was now a vampire. Yes! A creature of the night. Among the undead. A bloodsucker. There was just all kinds of chaos happening at Collinwood, and as a kid, I couldn't get enough. My obsession was so bad that I even had the "Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows" board game. I really wish I still had that game, BTW.

I cannot recall the actual events, but I do remember my mom threatening to cut me off of my habit! Turns out one night I was screaming in my sleep. This woke my mom up. She ran into my room and once I was awake, she discovered I was screaming because of a nightmare I had about Dark Shadows. She told me I couldn't watch it any longer. NO! I freaked out. I couldn't be without my show. I begged, cried, carried on, promised to have no more nightmares, until she couldn't stand me any longer. She gave me an ultimatum - I could continue to watch, but the next time I had a nightmare - goodbye Dark Shadows. I never had another DS related nightmare - thank God.

I looked for the actual opening song to the original show. I did not find that clip with the waves crashing on the shore with the scary house in the background, but I did find a still of the house with the theme.

This week's song is the theme from that oh so FAB and scary soap opera, Dark Shadows. Sleep tight.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Song of the Week - 3

I was a kid in the 60s and in my opinion, that was the best time to grow up. That may seem strange considering it was such a turbulent time. The very unpopular Vietnam war was raging on, students were protesting, the civil rights movement was in full swing, horrible assassinations happened, the Manson family went on a murderous spree, California was being terrorized by Zodiac Killer.

On the bright side, cartoons were awesome and TV shows were too. I think it was mandatory for every TV show to have a great theme. That was probably because they were penned and performed by incredible bandleaders like Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin and Quincy Jones, to name a few. Clothes were fun and colorful, printed with things like flowers and peace signs. We could even put washable tattoos on our skin or clothes - Lancelot Links, Secret Chimp was available in Jiffy Pop popcorn. The other great thing about growing up in the 60s was all the fab music.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I'm pretty much obsessed with my hair. It is curly. Throughout my life, my curl pattern has varied, and sadly, I have had my share of bad hair cuts. I don't deal well with that. This week's song is a favorite (really, I have so many favorites). This was one of the many songs that we used to "go-go" dance in the living room to, surely to my parents' dismay.

I must say, before introducing this week's song, that I've always loved long hair on guys. True, not all guys wear it well, but why not grow it while you can? There will come a time when guys will either have to buzz their hair because of sports, or military service, or they join the corporate world, or they just start balding. When I see young guys with suede heads I am so tempted to say, "dude grow it while you can!"

The song, Hair, was from the theatrical production of the same name. There was also a very popular soundtrack. The version that was played on the radio, was recorded by (the real life inspiration for the Partridge Family) The Cowsills. I searched for vintage footage of this one but the only vintage footage was not very clear. This one was recorded live in this decade by the now adult Cowsills. I like that their live version has the verse that never made it to the popular recorded version:

My hair like Jesus wore it
Hallelujah I adore it
Hallelujah Mary loved her son
Why don't my mother love me?

Enjoy and possibly go-go dance in your living room.

Semper Fi, Pop

I was up and on the road early yesterday. I made the 99 mile trek up to my mom's house. My mission was to pick her up and bring her back to the cat house for the Thanksgiving holiday. When I got there, she was packed and ready to go. I did have one other mission, to hit the safety deposit box.

I was hoping to find my dad's draft registration, birth certificate, marriage or divorce records, or anything that might mention Lola. I didn't find any of these (hmm, obviously they were removed and are elsewhere) but I did find my dad's U.S.M.C. Honorable Discharge document.

Back at the cat house, we started reading the document. I discovered a few things about my dad that I was never aware of. I knew his service was in the Pacific, and now I have the time frame - from 15 Sept 1945 to 14 Aug 1946. He was inducted on the 22nd day of May 1945. His complexion was noted as "ruddy". His "Special military qualifications - Air Hydraulic, Mechanic" and Weapons qualification - Marksman - Rifle. He received a Good Conduct Medal and had no offenses.

My sister and I were intrigued by the mechanic qualification. Now, I am not sure if this qualification was aircraft or vehicle, but a mechanic none the less. During our teen years, when the cars would make weird noises or something didn't seem right, we'd always go to dad for help. His answer never changed, "Don't ask me. I'm not the damn mechanic." Well, pop, apparently you were.

His monthly rate of pay when discharged was $90.00. On the 26th day of August, 1946, he was "furnished" travel allowance at the rate of five cents per mile from San Diego, California to Maywood, California and was "paid $223.73 in full to date of discharge."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Imperial Margarine and the effects of advertising on kids

I was raised by a mother that at the time would have been considered either a "food faddist" or a "health food nut". We didn't have white bread or white rice, and white sugar was scarce. We also didn't have dessert on any regular basis. My mom brought us up to believe that yogurt or cottage cheese with canned peaches was dessert. On occasion, she would bake peanut butter cookies and then my little sister and I would get one cookie each, one night a week, before going to bed. That was a treat!

My dad basically went along with my mom's "rules", as long as he had the stuff he liked. He was a major meat and potatoes guy that was raised in the depression and considered things like hot dogs and sliced potatoes to be comfort food.

My parents would usually do the weekly grocery shopping on Saturdays. Sometimes, though, things ran out during the week, or were just missed on the Saturday shopping trip. One time in particular sticks with me.

My little sis and I were both determined to try this Imperial Margarine. Why not, really? After all, you could eat a piece of bread that was "buttered" with this margarine, and music would play and a crown would suddenly be on your head! Well, who wouldn't want that? We begged my mom for this margarine, but to no avail. She was a Mazola gal all the way. That was the only margarine allowed in our house.

It just so happened that the Mazola was out and an "emergency", out of the weekly norm shopping trip was required. My dad was pegged with that job. My dad was nowhere near as strict with products as my mom. My sister and I went to the store with our dad. Our begging worked with my dad, and luckily we convinced him to get Imperial Margarine instead of Mazola. We were quite excited. The crown was finally in sight!

Well, we got home and unpacked the grocery bag. Much to my mom's horror, we did not bring home Mazola. She hit the roof and demanded this "crap" be returned and replaced with Mazola. We lost the battle. My dad gave in and off to the store he went to return the Imperial. Needless to say, little sis and I were not happy. The crown that was so close, was now completely out of reach.

So, for just a moment here, as you watch the video below, reconnect with your inner child and tell me if you did, or would have bought the "concept". On the other hand, how would you have felt once you did bite into that bread "buttered" with Imperial Margarine and there was NO music and NO crown on your head? To me, although I never got to try it, that would have been a HUGE disappointment. And, how exactly did the advertisers plan to defend their lies? Obviously the adults knew better, but let's face it, ads are not really geared towards knowing adults. Ads are geared towards kids that believe and then torture their parents into buying something. Sadly, maybe, my mom didn't buy into the kid torture. Maybe I should contact Mad Men for an interview and explanation of this. Oh wait, they're not real either.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The cats of the house - Louie

Louie is my elder cat. The alpha cat, actually, of the house. He came into my life as a little kitten back in 1997. His mother lived on the grounds where I worked at the time.

One morning, my desk phone rang. It was our receptionist. I answered the phone and could tell I was on the speaker. The receptionist was telling me that there was someone that wanted to see me, while I could hear humans mimicking cats (meowing) in the background. I had no choice but to head out quickly to the reception area.

When I got there, I found a tiny little kitten in a box. He was so tiny that he fit in the palm of my hand. A few of the ladies in the office saw him outside the reception doors and caught him. They got him some milk from the cafeteria (well meaning I know, even though milk is not good for cats or kittens). I picked him up and held him. He was so small, and shaking. He smelled horrible and his eyes didn't look right.

I immediately said I'd take him and got my purse and took him to my vet. I asked the vet to run the normal tests and to begin the vaccination process and said I'd be back to get him at the end of the day. When I went to pick him up, I was told the norm - keep him segregated from the other cats until the test results are back and there is no danger of any contagious illnesses. The vet sent us home with oral antibiotics and eye drops that I was to give to him twice a day, as he seemed to have an infection of some sort in his eyes.

When we got home, my alpha cat at that time, Max, wanted to know what I had. Max was a beautiful cat, but not known for his manners or friendly behavior. I had to keep the little guy in my room with the door closed. Max was not used to the door being closed and spent the entire night outside of the door, scratching at it and just carrying on. I couldn't allow Max to see the little guy though.

The little guy was scared and exhausted. I put him on my bed and he finally just collapsed, his little limbs didn't even bend as he fell sideways close to me and went to sleep. As I looked at him, I began to get teary-eyed, hoping for his clean bill of health, as I was already becoming attached.

The next morning, the vet gave him a clean bill of health! Thank God. I was still nervous, though, to let Max too close to the baby, as I didn't quite know what Max would do. I sat in the chair with the little guy on my lap while Max demanded to see this thing. The little guy was equally interested in Max, so I carefully and slowly let them see each other. Max was so good and gentle and really loved the little guy. Suddenly, the little one wanted to get off of my lap and hang out with Max on the floor. While they were on the floor together, Max's big fluffy tail was shaking and the baby couldn't help but attack it. They bonded immediately and were thick as thieves until we lost Max two years later.

For the next two weeks, I gave the baby his antibiotics and eye drops twice daily. His eyes were looking better, yet still not right. When we went for our two week check up, the vet, upon investigating, told me the baby had a birth defect (and gave me the Latin term that I'll never remember) where his eyelids never completely developed. This generally happens in the womb. He said that if I was going to allow the babe to go outdoors, I'd need to get him plastic surgery as that was his only means of protecting his eyes from the outdoor elements. If animals eyes get infected it can be fatal. I was keeping my cats indoors, so that was not an issue.

The baby was also a loud talker from the second day with me. I thought about an appropriate name for him and decided on Louie. He is named after Louie Prima, the great singer and bandleader. My dad was a huge fan and we grew up listening to Prima. FYI - Louie Prima was the voice of King Louie from the cartoon, The Jungle Book, and King Louie's moves and those of the his band of apes, were inspired by Louie Prima and the Witnesses.

My Louie is such a joy and a very lovable guy. Everyone that meets him is not only taken with his personality, but intrigued by his eyes. He certainly makes my life more enjoyable and he is a creative inspiration for me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Song of the Week - 2

This week's song seems appropriate. My blog is called Cathouseprints (as is my not yet populated Etsy shop). I've always been around cats. I have always loved cats. For most of my life, I've always had cats.

I grew up during a time when one television in the house was the norm (gasp, I know). Some of the popular TV shows were Bonanza, Lawrence Welk, Hawaii 5-0, Perry Mason, Tom Jones, etc. Growing up when I did, with one TV, the shows were most likely dictated by your parents (suprise, kids, not you). I'm really not sure why or when that changed. Could it be that my generation and the one after mine, has taken to completely spoiling children?

Back in the 60s, when I was very young, my parents got me a Donald Duck record player. What good is a record player, without a record? My parents got me a 45 (record), my very first as far as I can recall. I loved that record and that song! I would play it and sing along. Why not, I not only love the song, I love the singer, the songwriter, the movie and cats.

Here ya go - song of the week - week 2 - What's New Pussycat. Sung by Tom Jones. Written by Burt Bacharach! Movie written by the newly introduced,Woody Allen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Facebook in Heaven

I love a good mystery, especially if it is of a “supernatural” nature. Why wouldn’t I? I was the kid that grew up having tarot cards, Ouija board and watching scary movies (back in the day before “slasher” movies). Imagine my excitement one day when a friend came in looking like she’d just seen a ghost, her hand clutching at her chest feeling like she was going to pass out.

My friend Marilyn (not her real name) lost her husband in November of 2008. She joined Facebook (FB) in December of 2008. Flash forward about 10 months. To say the least, she was freaking out! She had just returned from a business trip and decided to check her personal email which she hadn’t been able to do for a few days. She had an email from FB that her deceased husband, Jack (not his real name) had accepted her friend request. What? How could this be? She did confess that when she did join, she searched for Jack, but his name is common and there were many. Besides, why would she send him a friend request?

Since her deceased husband had accepted her apparent friend request, Marilyn was able to view his FB wall. Things there were logical. She was his only friend and the only other thing on his wall was that he’d joined a FB kidney dialysis support group. The avatar used as his profile picture was one she said suited his personality and that he would have picked. The email address in his profile information was one of his actual email addresses. This particular email address was a freebie he got with a newspaper subscription. She did mention that she thought the email address shouldn’t be good any longer as she never renewed the subscription. The other thing - his birthday was correct.

Our mutual friend, Joan (not her real name) decided to send a friend request to Jack. She also sent him a message via FB. These messages are sent to an email address. Within a few minutes, the email came back as undeliverable. That made sense because Marilyn had not renewed the newspaper subscription. It was either later that day or early the next, that Joan got a message from FB that Jack had accepted her friend request. She then wrote on his FB wall, but never got a comment back.

We discussed the possibilities of what the heck was going on. It seemed interesting to me that Marilyn got the original notice from FB after returning from her trip. She said she was finally beginning to feel at peace over her loss and could finally be at certain places that reminded her of their time together, without crying. Could it then be that with her new found sense of peace, Jack really tried to make contact with her, however brief? Was it possible that someone had not only hacked Jack’s FB account, but Marilyn’s as well, to play a cruel joke? I guess it’s possible, yet I somehow find that hard to imagine. Joan did write a little about this on her own FB wall and had a few friends send her messages that they have heard of this happening. One friend even said he’s heard of a medium that has been very busy with clients having similar experiences.

A few weeks ago, Marilyn was at home on a Sunday evening checking FB. She got a chat message from “Jack”. The message said, “How you doing?” When he was alive, he would call her at night when she was on business trips and when she’d answer her phone he would always say, “How you doing?” She did reply, but the exchange stopped there.

I just love the idea of deceased loved ones trying to contact us through vehicles such as FB (remember, me with tarot cards and Ouija boards) and really don’t want to consider the possibility of this being criminal behavior. I would love to hear your thoughts about this. Has anyone out there heard of or experienced anything like this?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Song of the Week

Back when I decided to start a blog, one thing I wanted to include was a "feature" called Song of the Week. This will feature songs that for whatever reason, have meant something to me throughout my life. I hope to share some details as to what each song meant.

The very first Song of the Week (back when this was in my head, I had already picked the premier song) is just so cool. Love this song. It makes me happy and holds happy memories (yet I couldn't begin to tell you what they are).

The Flirtations - Nothing But a Heartache.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Latina Style

Some people accomplish so much in such a short amount of time, while others accomplish little. What is it that drives some to achieve their goals while others can’t seem to get it together? I tend to fall into the latter category, I’m afraid. Not a great place for someone with dreams. I recently checked the alumni page of my high school senior class and was shocked to see how many classmates are now deceased. One in particular caught me by such surprise that I was immediately motivated to Google her.

Anna Arias (aka Anna Maria Arias) was in my class. We didn’t run in the same circle, but I knew who she was - a cheerleader, a class officer, and a loyal friend (from what I’ve read). She passed away October 1, 2001, succumbing to the illness aplastic anemia.

She was someone that had the drive to see her dreams become reality. She went to Hawaii once and fell in love with it. She told her mom that she was going to move there. She got a summer job and saved her money. She moved there! While in Hawaii, she worked and went to college. She graduated college and then moved to the DC area and found herself in politics. Seeing a need, she became a driving force for the economic empowerment of Latinas. She started a magazine called Latina Style. In 1998 she created the Latina Style Business Series as a way to give back to her readers. What she contributed in her 41 years is impressive. Her drive to help others succeed was, and is, commendable.

I did go to my local Borders Books to pick up the latest issue of Latina Style. Although they had the current issue of Serial Killer Magazine, sadly, they did not have Latina Style Magazine. I wonder if that is a sign to move to a new city.

Teachers come to us in many forms. Anna’s time on earth (in my opinion) helped, promoted and improved the lives of so many - and not just Latinas, but women and people in general. What she and her magazine offers can help anyone. She is proof that a dream and drive can produce desired and positive results.

This is my small tribute to an amazing woman. Please read more about her here where her life is better documented.

If you knew Anna, are familiar with the magazine, or are just inspired, please feel free to comment.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

US Census

My previous post about Lola features a photo. It occurred to me that there could be an assumption that she is the woman in the photo. Not so. That is a picture of my mom and dad before they were married. Just thought I should clarify.

Here is a picture of my dad when he was a young teenager with two women. I have no idea who these women are. Could one of them be Lola? I have studied the photo, looking for any resemblance between my dad and either woman, but cannot see any. I know there is a photo of Lola somewhere. Apparently my dad carried a picture of her. I have all the photos and am slowly going through them.

I have to say I am so thankful for something called The US Census. Not sure where my search would be without it. I have been able to piece some things together with the help of these documents, along with the stories I've heard. So far, the last thing I have been able to find is Lola in the 1930 Census. It seems that she vanished after that. The 1940 Census will not be released until some time in 2010.

How sad that she could just vanish. How does that happen? I wonder if she "knows" she has granddaughters looking for her. I believe that somewhere there are the children and grandchildren of her siblings. Someone must know something. So, the search continues.

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Search for Lola

I’m researching my paternal grandmother, Lola. I never met her, never really knew much about her, including when or where she died. I do know when my dad last saw her (year is vague). My dad’s childhood was horrible and that caused him to want to completely sever memories and connections. He never would tell us much while he was alive. When we would talk to him about wanting to do research, he said he’d never talk to us again.

My friend, Jim, stopped by on Labor Day and we spent hours on I began to learn things about Lola’s life. It was horrible. The way people lived in the early 20th century was hard and those of us now would surely never survive that lifestyle. I’m discovering so much.

According to my mom, my dad was taken away from Lola and placed somewhere, when he was about 14. She was then institutionalized. My grandfather, Earl (aka Red), had gone to No. CA (I believe) during that time for work. Details are still vague. I have learned that Lola had a brother in LA and must now do the research to find his family (family that I do not know). This connection could prove valuable in my search.

Hello Blog

Starting a blog has been on my “to do” list for many years. As with so many things, it has been out there as a goal, yet, the follow through was out there even farther. Probably about three weeks ago, I finally started a blog! It then fell on the back burner while I began working on inventory for a craft fair I participated in. As a matter of fact, most things fell on the back burner for about three weeks (including emailing friends). Pretty much, the only thing I did was the day job and creative stuff in the evening. I now feel like I can breathe.

During this self-imposed exile, many things happened that I wanted to blog about. I expect this blog will evolve over time. My purpose here is many. I want to share my art projects, interesting vegan recipes, stuff in general, and document my search for my paternal grandmother, Lola.