Odds and Ends

I am calling this post: Odds and Ends

There is no overlying theme today.  There is no specific rant or rave or anything I am praising or disparaging.  It is going to be like a Larry King article, odds and ends, and I hope it is infinitely more interesting.

My son is home from college and brought along a friend from Cyprus.  I thought Cyprus was a part of Greece but it is its own free standing island nation.  It is located closer to Turkey and Syria than to Greece.  It is near Israel and Lebanon but hopefully the ocean is a big enough space for them to keep out of the crap going on in the Middle East.  They speak Greek, our guest looks Greek, and he is going to be going to a Thanksgiving celebration with 30 of our family members.

We are not hosting Thanksgiving but we will be hosting Christmas.  I told my wife that I would paint our dining room.  I have hated the color for five or six years and I want to paint it before we put in new flooring.  That way I can mess up the place and not have to worry too much about splashing.  My wife and I picked out a color but she wants me to do a pattern on it.  I don’t think it will be too hard but she likes to see me work harder than I have to.  Just kidding, her judgement is solid and I know it will look fantastic once I am done with it.  You know the best part?  I get to take down some old wallpaper edging!  I love doing that job.

We got a new TV and broached the world of UHDTV.  It is supposed to be twice as sharp as regular high definition TV but there is really no programming to go with it so who knows?  I bought a Samsung even though I hate that they use the TV to spy on us.  There is no opting out of the user agreement because you have to be in so that you may work the TV.  We got it for out bedroom because the old TV was small and it was not fun to watch TV up there.  Now we have a TV on steroids and the picture is incredible and the TV is a piece of artwork.  I am excited about it.

Other odds and ends

Winter is coming in Minnesota.  I have winterized the lawn mower and readied the snow blower and I am simply waiting for a big storm to come and hit us.  Iowa was pounded last week but we missed it.  In fact it is going to be 40 degrees today which really feels like a fall day.  I like when the weather is warmer, and no, I do not believe in global warming.

My wife has to go in for a colonoscopy tomorrow.  I am lucky in that I have already had that procedure.  It is painless except for the prep work.  By the time you are done cleansing your intestines, your butt is rubbed raw from even the smoothest of toilet papers.  The only advice I gave her was use a gentle touch when wiping.  Other than that she is on her own.

My daughter is supposed to show up Wednesday.  The poor cats.  They are going to get smothered with love.  She loves anything with a fury face.  She has been missing them so bad that she has a cat friend on campus who she goes and visits three times a week.  That cat does not like to be held so she still is missing the hugs and kisses you can give them.  For the next three days they will be smothered with hugs and loves and kisses.  I tried to warn them but they looked at me with indifference.

We are dog sitting tomorrow.  We already have two dogs but this one is a puppy and had high energy.  His name is Nikkon and he is as smart as can be.  He is also hyper and he bugs the hell out of the cats.  Maybe after Nikkon the cats will not mind my daughter attacking them.  There is usually an hour or so of getting to know the level of the pack and then the dogs get along swimmingly.

That is all.  A nice short odds and ends column.

Cancer, diet, Amy Belle and other assorted subjects blog clean-up

Clean-up: Once in a while when blogging you figure out that assorted blogs

were left in a state of flux.  For some things I talk about there is a beginning, middle and end and it has closure.  For other things I blog about it will be an ongoing process and so once in a while I will post something that rambles and covers a lot of different subjects.  Think of me as the clean-up hitter and I will not be getting men off base and back to home.

First off I would like to mention Amy Belle.  Here is a video of her with Rod Stewart singing “I Don’t Want to Talk About It.”   Look at the pure joy on her face.  Apparently one of Rod Stewart’s friends saw her busking (playing and singing for money) in the subway system in Glasgow, Scotland.  Rod invited her to come on stage and sing in this video.  Besides being one of the best songs ever written you now can see it performed by a singer who is just getting her big break.  Google her music and see what an amazing talent she truly is.  Buy her music and support her.

Now for the Clean-up.

I guess if this is the clean-up then we are just in the first inning because I will post blogs like this every once in a while.  The first item I need to address is my friend with cancer.  He was diagnosed last week with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow that has no cure.  I talked to him today and he is back in the hospital because the first round of Chemo was a little too aggressive and it dislodged, if that is the correct word, these dead cancer cells into his kidneys and his kidneys are shutting down again.  When I talked to him today he sounded like he always does and I was happy for that.  We talked for about 20 minutes and what we did the most was laugh.  How can you not laugh?  I think now that laughter truly is the best medicine and a great way to fight this fucking disease.

He does not know how long he will be in the hospital this time.  The doctors never tell him a thing.  I know they have to get his kidneys back functioning and they have to get the chemo worked out and tweaked (their version of a clean-up), and they have to make sure that he is good to go.  I plan on going to see him Friday if he is still there.

He accepts his disease.  He accepts that he has this cancer and that it is one that is not curable.  We laughed about a lot of things but at the end of the conversation I told him and he told me that even though we laugh it is a serious disease and that laughter helps a person cope.  I hope I can laugh with him a lot more in the future.  He is going to fight the disease with chemo for a few months and then in the winter he will undergo a stem cell transplant at which point he will lose his hair.  What bastards!  Making a man lose his hair in a Minnesota winter.  That truly is cold.

I accept his disease.  I accept that it happened, we deal with it (or more precisely he deals with it) and we make the best of it as we can.  I am going to do my best to help him any way I can and hope we beat back this disease.

The diet clean-up.

Never has a truer sentence been spoken for I have been doing a hell of a job when it comes time to clean-up my plate.  That is to say the diet is not going exactly to plan.  I am blaming Costco for this one.  You see I was at Costco when this big jar of Almond Toffee called out to me.  I love chocolate, I love sweets and I love toffee.  Since it was Kirkland brand I knew it would be good.  I brought it home and hid it from the kids and I managed to pound down the entire Costco-sized jar in a little under five days.  It was so delicious.  It was buttery and chocolate.  It satiated my sweet tooth but after it did that the jar would call to me to eat more (it always does) and so I did.  Alas.

The running is going slow but it is going fine.  I have been out four out of the last seven days which is about where I want to be.  Since I am getting back into the swing of things I have discovered that it is really tough to come back and run like you used to run.  I used to be able to peel off four or five miles without issue.  Now I am lucky if I can clean up four or five blocks.  the dog doesn’t mind because she is getting older too.  We go about three miles but it is slow and painful.

So clean-up on the diet is that it is still on and the exercise is still on and I will get stronger every day and I will get better at it every day.  Life is good in this regard.

Clean-up miscellaneous.

The cats are doing great although they really hated it when the kids went back to school.  The first day they were not home all day the cats went back to an old trick of theirs: they tore apart a roll of toilet paper.  I found it shredded in our bathroom and it made me laugh.  They used to do this but have not touched the toilet paper in ages.  They also still love their morning snacks and Olie comes and meows at me in the morning until I feed him.  He escaped once into the garage and my son could not get him out.  He tried for 10 minutes and Olie was more wiley than number one son.  My son then went and got his bag of snacks, he shook it for Olie, and Olie came running like he had not eaten in days.  The little sucker loves food.

The dog is good and she love when I take her for a run.  She is an old girl, a good girl, and she keeps up with me when we run.  Her snout is gray but she acts like a puppy.  She is on glucosamine and her bones no longer ache as far as we can tell.

Finally there is not other clean-up news to report–simply have a great day.

An ode to my cats.

My cats are the greatest cats in the world.

Olie and Stan

Olie and Stan in their natural state

I know there are dog people and cat people exclusively in this world and I happen to own both species of animals.   We have had Dixie, our dog, for 10 years now.  We adopted her from an animal rescue place and when we got her she was 30 pounds under weight, she had worms, and when they spayed her they found all her internal organs had been bruised.  She avoided me for the first two weeks she lived with us so we figured a guy did the beatings.  She has had issues her whole life but overall has been a great dog.  She replaced another wonderful dog we had named Buttons.  I will talk about her at some other time.

We also had two cats long ago named Basil and Nigel, named after Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce who played Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the movies.  They shuffled off this mortal coil a few years ago and for the longest time we were only a dog family.  That is until Stan and Ollie entered our lives.

Stan and Olie, nee Sven and Ole, came to us via a friends dad who had them for only a month or two before he had to move to a nursing home.  We rescued then in a way because the brother who gave their dad the cats swore up and down he would take them in his own home if anything happened to their dad but when the shit hit it, he said he was going to put the cats in a shelter.  Our friend who is an animal lover but has three dogs at her house, thought of us and she showed up one night with two Siamese Seal Point cats.  They had the clichéd names of Sven and Ole (we being from Minnesota) and we promptly renamed the cats Stan and Olie after Laurel and Hardy.

New Cats in our lives, new for the dog as well.

They showed up at our door in a kitty carrier meowing and bellowing at the injustice in the world.  We had been free of cats for a couple of years so we had to scramble to find the old liter box and we had to go buy cat supplies.  Deer Point Siamese cats are stunningly beautiful.  They look like they are dressed like James Bond.  They are a luxurious tan color with dark faces, a dark stripe running down their bellies and dark ears.  Stan is the plump one, less athletic and he meows like a mouse squeaking in the corner.  Olie is the athletic one, lithe and agile and he can leap four feet into the air if there happens to be a string hanging above his head.

When we got them they were only six months old.  They were kittens.  The dog, who was about 10 years old at the time, looked at us as if we had really screwed the pooch this time.  Dixie was content in her world, content to relax, content for the attention, and she certainly did not look kindly upon the interruption in her domestic bliss by the new cats.  She ended up being a good sport about it and after a week of chasing and playing they soon became fast friends and now you can find them napping together in the afternoon under a window and getting baked by the sun.  they all have pretty good lives.

The cats do what the cats do and humans have to accept it.

This means that the cats have an independent streak.  They only come when my kids call them.  When they hear the voices of my kids and they hear their names, they both come running to them.  They answer to me in the mornings when it is time for their morning treats.  They love the new hard treats from Wiskas called “Temptations.”  They come in about eight different flavors and we end up buying them one of each until the supply runs dry.  Stan will come to me in the morning when he sees me opening my eyes, and he will come next to me and start to purr loudly and he will want to be petted.  Olie sometimes comes to me when I go to bed at night and am trying to read and he plants himself upon my book to ensure that I notice him.  He loves to have his belly petted and turns over, closes his eyes, and purrs in contentment when I pet him.  Both cats love attention but both cats love attention on their terms.

During the day the cats tend to sleep a lot.  You will find them either cuddled up together in a box or on a chair, most likely in a ray of sunlight coming through the windows, and they will  lay there for hours content.  They are active in the morning when they get their treats but once the cats are fed they are off to slumber for the better part of the day.  Sometimes I will find them curled up next to Dixie in the sun soaking up the warmth.

As an aside when we first got the cats Dixie was not quite sure what to do with them.  They were not dogs, she knew that much.  They did not look like her.  One of the cats was brave and he came up to Dixie and would rub her face and purr in the way that cats show love and affection.  Dixie would try to emulate the purring and let out this low and quiet growl but after about six times she figured it did nothing for her and stopped it.  It was so cute!

When the kids come home now from school the cats are there to great them.  They get excited and run back and forth greeting them.  Like I mentioned early the only way the cats answer to their names are if the kids call them.  The kids then feed off of this and they play with the cats and everyone is happy.  Towards dinner time is when the cats get fed a bit of wet food.  This is odd because the skinny cat eats like a horse and is always skinny and the fat cat (really just plump) hardly eats a thing.  Before they are fed the skinny one will sit on the counter and stare at us or start talking to us until he gets fed.  Once he is fat and happy he will come sit on our laps while we are watching TV or we will see the cats chase each other like raped apes.  They are brothers, they came from he same liter, yet they are utterly different in personality, body-type and attitude.  One talks much more than the other, one is more athletic than the other, one eats more than the other, and one like attention more than the other.

Overall our cats have figured out they have a pretty good life.  They seem to love living with us and they seem to show us affection in their ways and at their times.  They tolerate the dog and the dog does the same with them.  At night they get a little more wild and you can hear the cats hissing and screaming while they are wrestling and biting each others’ balls.

I love my cats.