Monday, June 29, 2009

Approved Vacation

This is the first morning it has sunk in on the wee ones that Mommy's schedule is different this week. First of all, we slept later by a whole hour. We ate a leisurely breakfast and watched the news, without jumping up to shower and racing around the house gathering all the stuff to go to the office.

Then I started some household chores. The older children beat a hasty retreat when they sensed that the dreaded vacuum cleaner might be coming out. But Dixie is entranced with the process of following Mom around while she picks up clutter and opens cabinet doors for supplies and creates piles of stuff to climb and examine. She has followed me faithfully, step for step.

When I sat down briefly to check the Internet for something, she climbed in my lap and settled herself for a nap. An hour following Mom and she is pooped.

We are making progress. Coco is well. Dixie's tummy is beginning to settle in to her new diet and we are having less accidents to deal with. She definitely knows her name and comes scampering in whenever I call. Boo and Scout are playing with her, mostly amiably. We've cleared a lot of the clutter that was piled around and it no longer looks like a hurricane hit.

Today we are hoping to get the housework pretty much behind us so we can play the rest of the week. Tomorrow is a genealogy day and I look forward to sifting through old records at the court house. (Yesterday was a genealogy day as well, with a trip to the Perry Castaneda Library. It was interesting to look into a new research possibility, but I can't say I was favorably impressed. I don't know where their librarians get their oddball ideas for shelving books, but there is a definite schizophrenic feeling to the place. Hard to describe. Of course it's a university library, so maybe there's an underlying intention to test the abilities of our youth to adapt to a chaotic world. It is not a place for the timid and skittish.)

Well, the sooner we tackle the housework, the sooner we can play. Dixie is just going to have to find someplace else to finish her nap.


Friday, June 26, 2009

R and R

It's been a long time since I've taken a week of vacation and stayed at home. I'm looking forward to 7 days of sleeping late, taking care of assorted household chores that have been long neglected, and piddling.

Oh, yes, and of course waiting on the feline and canine dictators. Coco is much, much better and should be completely back on her feet in another day or two. And this one?

I expect she will have some ideas of how I should keep busy.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Gal Friday

I'm in the midst of a genealogy refiling project. Hence the notebooks and file totes. Everyone needs a good secretary to help out when you have embarked on a paper intensive project. Dixie stands ready, willing and able.

And she keeps a running commentary on how inefficiently things have been run prior to her arrival.

She makes a pretty good paper shredder, too. Of course, it would be nice if she would check and see if I actually wanted it shredded.


The Mommy Contract

Always read the fine print. Right now I have:

1 kitten, partially housebroken with diarrhea and a bad case of clumsies

1 grown cat dispensing hairballs

1 grown dog with gastric disturbances involving both vomiting and diarrhea.

I didn't sign on for this kind of work. Oh, wait, according to the fine print I did.

Listen and learn.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Proceed With Caution

Dixie might have been a shadow of a cat when she arrived, but she's turning into a little wild cat. I'm thinking she might be part piranha.

She got her second bath tonight. She's improving in her use of the bathroom facilities, but she sometimes stumbles and steps in what she's done.

I really forgot how messy kittens are.

But I have remembered how sweet and cuddly they are.

I think the good outweighs the bad.



Sunday, June 21, 2009

Quick Dixie Update

Today marks the one week anniversary of Dixie's arrival in our lives. She's come quite a way in 7 short days. From being so weak she could barely walk without falling over, she now races her way up and down the staircase like she's lived here forever. She is on speaking terms with Boo and Scout. She has become quite an expert at finding me in the house to tell me it's time for her next meal. She's still suffering from upset tummy syndrome, but I'm seeing a slight improvement in that department. Maybe by the end of another week she will have that under control.

Dixie is a motor mouth and she likes to visit with all the inhabitants of the house, talking their ears off. She's begun to take long, deep cat naps that are doing wonders for her. During her waking hours, she keeps a close watch on everything I do.

Dixie is a people cat, no doubt about it. I think in another few weeks, we won't know how we managed to run the house without her.


Sometimes It Takes Awhile

Many years ago, probably 12-15 of them, Mother and I used to hit a little antiques store in Georgetown on a regular basis. It is, unfortunately, no longer there and hasn't been for some time now. One day we happened on it while they were having a "yard sale" and one of the items was an oak doll display case at what I thought was a ridiculously low price. I figured I would be able to use it for a miniatures display of some kind.

Years passed and I could never quite get a handle on just how I would go about using it for a miniatures scene. I considered laying it on its back and creating a little town inside, which would have required that some kind of fastener be affixed. I never got around to solving that particular obstacle and the doll case eventually worked its way into the back corner of the crafts closet and held an assortment of stuffed animals that were no longer desirable in open display.

I considered at one point giving the case to a friend who actually has dolls to display, but I never could quite make up my mind to turn loose of it. I have such a weakness for golden oak and I kept thinking that one day I might come up with an idea for what use it could serve.

Earlier this week I picked up a closet shelving unit (you know, the kind meant to hold folded sweaters) with the idea that I would put it in the end of the crafts closet to hold yarn. To fit the unit into the closet, I had to move the oak doll case out of the way. I found myself again thinking there had to be something I could use it for. And the light finally dawned.

The case is about the height of an end table and it is the same color as the chest that holds my television. What if I were to place it at the end of the chest and use it to hold my "good" yarn?

I'm going to rearrange the yarn to make a more colorful display, but I think the little case has finally found its place in the house. I like having my yarn visible so that I don't forget what I have on hand, it is protected from dust and cats, and with some judicial arrangement should complement my living room color scheme.

Yes, I'm a packrat and I have a lot of stuff that probably needs to move on to other owners. But, in this case, I'm glad I didn't impulsively get rid of the case. I think it may just turn out to be a nice addition to the scenery.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday at Home

First thing today we restocked the bird and squirrel food and it wasn't long before the deck was busy, busy. I had fun for awhile watching one of the squirrels trying to play keep away with the other two, chasing them from the food stations. He finally realized that he couldn't eat at the same time and gave it up in favor of filling his tummy.

The cat population is settling down. Boo and Scout, while not entirely enthusiastic about the change in the status quo, are being stiffly cordial to Dixie. The three of them have "helped" me all day, as I tackled another pile of the closet clutter.

Dixie's idea of helping leaves a lot to be desired. She has learned to climb up on the ottoman and get between me and my newspaper and the television.

Her idea of helping with the clutter is to get in the box of books I've sorted out and knock them all helter-skelter so Mommy has to pick them up and restack them. Fortunately I found a purple tennis ball that she appropriated and entertained herself with rolling and tumbling all over the room.

Heaven help me, it appears that she is going to be another paper shredder like Scout.

In other news, while I resisted Facebook for a long time, I've begun to dabble in that environment and I've become hooked on a game called Farm Town. I'm busy planting and harvesting all kinds of crops. My grandfather would be shaking his head in disbelief. It does, however, teach you that you won't make a lot of money farming and if you want some inprovements to your farm, you are going to have to plant a lot and not go spending your money on indulgences.

Like cat food.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Dixie Story, Day 4

This is turning into the Dixie Blog.

We are continuing to make progress. Boo and Scout have stopped hissing. They still don't want to be sociable, but they are hanging around keeping an eye on what Dixie does. I think in another week or so, they will all be pals. Boo is asserting his right to come investigate Dixie's food and take it, if he so chooses. I figure it's the least I can do to salvage his dignity. (She was finished anyway.)

I had to go to Petsmart to pick up some litter pan supplies today and found some tiny little balls that Dixie has really taken to. They are soft, so she can pick them up with her claws and pitch them. I feel like it's a good sign that she's beginning to play a little.

She is beginning to protest at being left alone in the bathroom through the long day while Mommy is at work. I still don't feel like it's safe to leave her alone with the big guys. She boils out of the door when I open it, yowling for SOMETHING TO EAT!! She's beginning to catch up with her missed meals. Her little tummy is round and her purrs are loud. I have to be careful where I step, because she follows me like a little puppy.

She's smart. Day four and she is responding to her name. I think we may have us a winner.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Slight Thaw

At least Scout is now willing to be in the same room with the intruder.

Boo has gone so far as to let Dixie approach him nose to nose. She's still not too sure on her feet and surprised him by falling over against him once. He did a fantastic standing broad jump in response.

Even the most minute progress is encouraging when it comes to cat diplomatic relations.


Portent of Things to Come

The days I work at home, Coco and Mojo generally pile up on the dog bed under the desk. This morning I put the backup pet bed beside my chair for Dixie and the next thing I knew:

Dixie had the dog bed and Coco was good-naturedly on the less comfortable bed I had intended for the baby.

I suspect that the dogs had better hang onto their hats. Dixie has ideas of taking over.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wondering if it Was Worth It

Dixie had her doubts this afternoon. Between the gastrointestinal issues she has at the moment with the de-worming meds and the switch to a real diet and the dirt she had collected in her long fur, she was a filthy, dirty mess when I got home this afternoon. I gritted my teeth and did something I've never done before in my life. I gave a cat a good soaking bath in the sink, rinsing her about 5 times before the water was running clear. I thought she looked pitiful before, but wet she looks like a skinny, drowned rat.

The bath produced a bad case of shivers, so we went out on the deck and let her dry out in the warm sun. She thought she had gotten hold of a crazy person. Practically drowned her and then nearly froze her. When we came in, she took a long nap in my lap, cuddled against my arm and purring like mad.

This is what we look like clean.

Dixie said she didn't know the price she was going to have to pay to move from the country to the city. However, the food is good, so maybe she will stick it out.

(Boo is coming round slowly. Still no signs of yielding from Scout.)


Mr. Pouty Face

Who knew? Mr. Boo cat has a jealous streak. This is the face of a cat who has had his world turned on edge.

I've always known that Boo and Scout are fond of me, but they aren't overly demonstrative about it. Once or twice a day they each come around and talk to me and get their recommended daily requirement of head patting, but for the most part they are independent and involved in their own interests. Typical teenagers. Ready to take every handout, but unwilling to take on any adult responsibility for the smooth operation of the household.

Well. Dixie's arrival has put some teenaged cat noses decidedly out of joint. So far their interaction with her has been long distance hissing and growling. Once in awhile Boo will sneak up to her little backside and give an inquiring sniff, at which Dixie turns around to see what's going on and Boo retreats with more cat cursing.

But the funny part is his sudden clingyness. If I call "kitty, kitty" to locate Dixie or to call her to her food bowl, here comes Boo running and eager to fulfill whatever kitty requirements I have. This is the same cat that two days ago would put his nose in the air and walk the opposite direction when I called. If I sit down at my desk (and Dixie is in the other room with Coco), here comes Boo, talking and purring and rubbing his head on my leg. "Gee, Mommy, I love you soooo much!" Uh-huh. I dug out some of his old cat toys for the baby and he decided if Mommy wants to play with the kitty toys, he would be happy to oblige. Oy.

I'm a good cat Mommy. I'm making sure he gets the reassurances he is after right now. He's still top cat of the household (so far as he's concerned). His curiousity about the newcomer will, I think, eventually get the best of him.

Scout, on the other hand, may be a harder sell. She's spending a lot of time under the bed right now.


Monday, June 15, 2009


Normally when I go on cemetery jaunts, I only bring back photos. Yesterday, I got more than I bargained for.

I was out at the Old Red Rock Cemetery, where I have numerous Lentz and Frankum relatives buried. It was the annual picnic Sunday and while I wasn't intending to stay for the picnic, I wanted to make connections to pass along a few photos and some family history for the association's ongoing history project. That accomplished, I headed out to the cemetery to take a few photos with my new camera.

I was alone at the remote cemetery, down a country road about a quarter mile from the main highway. I had visited my great-great grandfather Lentz's grave and was strolling away from it to search for some graves to fulfill photo requests for FindaGrave. Out of the blue I heard a demanding "MIAOW!".

I looked all around and could not find the cat who was talking to me. I thought for a second I was experiencing a ghostly visitation. However, a minute later a scrawny little grey fluff ball crawled out of a clump of brush behind one of the tombstones. I judged the kitten to be about 8 weeks old and it was in a sad state, so weak it was toppling over from side to side as it came toward me. There are no houses close by to this cemetery, so I couldn't imagine where it had come from.

I headed back to the car to get one of the bottles of water I had brought along with me. It was beastly hot out there and there's no water source. I figured the kitten would be too weak to follow, but I was wrong. It bounced along behind me all the way to the car, falling every so often, but gamely getting up and chasing along after me. It drank a little bit and talked. And talked and talked. Heaven only knows what story it was trying to tell me about how it had arrived in the middle of nowhere.

Well, no way was I going to drive off and leave the poor thing to the rattlesnakes, coyotes and hawks. I fashioned a cage out of a storage crate I keep in the car, pulling one of my recyclable grocery sacks down over the top to keep it confined, cancelled the rest of the cemetery visits I had planned for the afternoon, and headed for home.

On arriving home, I quickly discovered the poor little thing was starved. It gobbled down a half-packet of cat food with gusto, mumbling all the while it ate. I was very afraid that the little orphan might have some dreaded cat disease, so I kept it isolated all afternoon and all night, checking on it from time to time and feeding it every few hours. I refused to spend much time with it until I had a chance to get a vet's evaluation, knowing I might possibly have a problem on my hands and that a difficult decision might have to be made.

But, my vet gave it all the blood tests and checked it over thoroughly and pronounced I had a little girl in good health, though somewhat malnourished. She remarked she was sure that I would take care of that issue in no time. A treatment for earmites and the usual kitten intestinal parasites and Dixie was ready to go home.

Great-Great Grandpa Lentz was a soldier in the Confederacy. Since I found the little waif just down from his grave and she was gray like the uniforms of the Confederacy, her name would be Dixie.

Mojo and Coco have been surprisingly tolerant of the new arrival. Coco is particularly enamored and follows Dixie around, periodically holding her down when she gets too active.

Boo and Scout, on the other hand, are sitting at a distance, hissing and spitting. It promises to be a volatile couple of weeks on the homefront. At least I'm hoping by that time we have established a detente.

Dixie says she is here to stay. Boo and Scout can get over themselves.


Sunday, June 14, 2009


Yesterday brought another round of digging in the recesses of the storage closet and reminding myself of the trash and treasures to be found there.

I reacquainted myself with the stash of inherited quilts made by my grandmother Lucy Hodge that are carefully wrapped in cotton pillowcases. I hope someday to rotate them on display in the guest room I plan to create at some point in the future when I finish this household purge and remodel.

I found some odd pieces of small furniture that haven't seen the light of day for many years.

I found the boxes of vinyl LPs. Oh. What. Fun.

I spent yesterday afternoon listening to the music of my youth. Marty Robbins. Patti Page. Billy Vaughn. (Ok, those were more the music of my parents' youth, but I heard them plenty back when and they are old, dear friends.) Captain and Tennille. Kenny Rogers. Linda Ronstadt. Neil Sedaka. Larry Gatlin before his brothers joined him.

How times have changed. I had to return every 15 to 20 minutes to change to a new record. The music was punctuated with pops and hisses and the occasional lurch across a dust mite.

I loved every minute of it. I hardly ever listen to music anymore, preferring audio books now. When I do take a stack of CDs with me, I listen to just the tracks I like and skip over the ones I don't want or have the time to invest in to establish a relationship with them. Back in the good old days of vinyl, you listened to the whole thing over and over and learned to love some obscure songs that never got air play. Some of the songs I had not heard in probably 30 plus years and I can still sing every word. It was a really pleasant afternoon wandering down memory lane.

This morning I am enjoying my collection of Smothers Brothers albums. Beats the heck out of cable tv. I'm beginning to remember what quality entertainment means.

It's groovy, man.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rat Terrier TV

The wee ones don't have to look far for entertainment. Just outside the bedroom door, on the deck, is all they could possibly ask for. I hear periodic frenzied barking coming from that direction and I know their favorite program is on.

This morning the resident roadrunner actually spent some time on the deck, which put the squirrel's nose a little out of joint, but they managed to co-exist peacefully for the duration of RR's visit.

You would think I am running a squirrel spa. First they fill up on sunflower seeds. Then, they have an after-dinner rest on the deck railing.

And, sometimes, we see a full moon.

This drives Mojo and Coco plumb crazy. I think I hear the faint sound of squirrel giggles.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cafe Noir

A few months back I had made a vow not to buy any more containers for miniature scenes until I had finished some of the ones I already had on hand. However, one day I was in World Market and saw a glass terrarium that immediately spoke to me.

I had an instant vision of the mini scene I wanted to put into this black and glass terrarium. I decided it would be a black and white scene. I already had some of the things I needed in my stash, primarily two sets of cafe tables and chairs. It took awhile to find the other things in my vision.

The Texas Miniatures Showcase in Dallas was of great assistance in my quest. EBAY helped a lot.

Finally, late last week the final piece arrived in the mail and tonight I set out to create Cafe Noir, a little out of the way place to get a cup of coffee and a little something sweet to eat while you read your newspaper or your book or just look into your sweetheart's eyes.

(Very difficult to get good photo angles. I hope you get the idea.)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Ain't They Sweet?

Lately I can't seem to put two thoughts together, so just bear with me for awhile. Last night I came in, lay down on the couch and crashed for about an hour, got up and ate some leftovers I found in the fridge and lay down on the couch and crashed for another couple of hours, went to bed and crashed for good.

Mojo and Coco think this is a good thing. They are perfectly happy to pile up on the couch for a group nap.

Our latest experiment with learning to travel with Mom was conducted on Saturday morning. Mojo needed to go to the vet's for a little routine maintenance and we decided to have an adventure afterwards. I wanted to go to the McDade Cemetery for some volunteer photography and so, after we had finished our business at the vet's, we headed there.

It was still fairly cool for a June morning in Texas, but too warm for them to wait in the car while I searched for the requested grave sites. So I set their carriers on the ground under a shady tree where they had a good view of my activities. They contentedly watched me walk the cemetery grounds while a cool breeze blew through the screened sides of their carriers. We all enjoyed our little outing.

I anticipate that future cemetery expeditions will be a group activity now.


Saturday, June 06, 2009

About Time

My cousin Amanda started something a few weeks back. She sent me some odd pieces of flatware that our grandmother had given her many years ago. Our grandmother had set about to provide each of her granddaughters (there were only the two of us at the time - Laura came along much later) a set of china and a set of flatware, purchasing piece by piece through grocery store promotions. I think both of us got a complete set of china. Mine had small scattered pink roses. I think Amanda's was also a rose pattern, but with larger flowers.

Neither of us got a complete set of flatware. When Grandma gave me the flatware she had collected for me, I had almost 6 place settings of a very nice tailored pattern. I've often wished I could find more of it because it is not only a nice, simply elegant pattern, it feels good in the hand and in the mouth.

Amanda's collection of odd pieces was a beautiful floral pattern. In her case, she had all the serving pieces and a handful of teaspoons. When she offered to send the pieces to me to add to the family archives, I was hopeful that they might be the same pattern as mine but I didn't really expect them to be and they weren't. What I did not expect was how much I would like the pattern and the feel of the pieces. Again I found myself wishing there were more pieces.

Sooooo, naturally I had to see if I could nail down the patterns and discover if there was any secondary market for these 1960s era product lines. I studied the markings, did some internet searching, and found that there was indeed some folks on EBAY with assorted pieces of "Grypsholm" (my pattern) and "Springtime" (Amanda's pattern) in their inventory.

Another collecting fever has ensued. I've already added 3 knives and a butter knife to my set and this morning I placed another order for enough pieces to complete a 9 place setting collection.

Grypsholm by Wm. Rogers

I have no doubt that I will be compelled to begin adding to the Springtime set in the near future. In fact, I have my eye on two large collections of pieces that are on the auction block as we speak.

I've been wanting to rid myself of the current "every day" stainless for some time now. By this time next week, I expect that the Grypsholm set will move into the position of daily favorite. In another couple of weeks, I may have a backup set for Sunday company.

Why do I think I faintly hear the sound of my grandmother muttering "It's about time"?


Friday, June 05, 2009


Sometimes Mom should just stay out of the way.

The scorpions are active at the moment. We've had a lot of problems with scorpions since we moved to our present location and I've learned not to patter about the house barefoot. I won't see one for months and then all of a sudden I will see one every day for a week or so. I killed one on Tuesday when I put the trash out at the curb. (They love to rest in the cool shade the trash bin provides. Unfortunately for them, when I move the can and see them, it is a simple matter to dispatch them to the great scorpion heaven by rolling over them with the trash bin wheel.) Once I see one, I know I will be seeing more for awhile.

This morning I had let the dogs out for a quick run in the neighbor's yard (hey, he has grass and I don't). When we came in, I saw a big, fat scorpion scoot across the threshhold and into the house. My first thought was to get the dogs safely past him without them stopping to sniff the newcomer. My second problem this morning was that both of the heathen cats spotted his arrival and were quick to stick their two noses into the fray.

I was picking up dogs and tossing them over the thing, yelling at the cats to "leave it alone, leave it alone" and reaching for the heavy doorstop (my second favorite tool of scorpion destruction). I had him cornered against the kitchen cabinet. I thought. As I was using the doorstop to push him back into a good squashing zone, he suddenly feinted and slipped into the crack between the cabinet and the wall. I sprayed bug poison into the crack, not because I thought it would do any harm to the blasted thing, but I thought it might make him mad enough to come back out and fight. No sign of him was to be had.

So I have a scorpion on the loose in the house. What fun.

Now, in the background I had the heathen cats looking at me with utter disgust. It was not difficult to figure out the problem. They actually enjoy catching and destroying scorpions. I don't know how they manage to do so without falling victim to being stung, but I've seen some pretty pitiful dead specimans lying around after they have their fun.

If I had just let them alone, I wouldn't have a scorpion on the loose.

Mom should just stay out of the way and let the experts handle things.


Monday, June 01, 2009

I Have No Idea

I am still alive and kicking, believe it or not. However, I am still bone weary from the perils of May, so am keeping a low profile.

I have miniatures on the brain and the desire to dive into a new genealogical project, but my mind refuses to focus and I know that it would be folly to try either until the fog clears.

That doesn't keep me from creating new opportunities and putting more pressure on myself. I went to the Antique Mall today, just looking for a place to spend a pleasant lunch hour. I really did not intend to come home with another container for a future miniatures vignette, but as soon as I saw it, I knew I was hooked.

It was labeled a glass and wood display box. It has a curved glass top, slightly smoky in color, and a mirrored back wall.



I am waiting for inspiration. It speaks of a ballet studio, but I'm not interested in ballet. Maybe a garden scene. Perhaps an art exhibit.

I have no idea what the future holds for this great little box. Mysteries are always fun. We will just have to wait and find out.