What the Boss Likes – two more pictures of our new boys

more cat photos of our two new adopted ferals.

Here is Tez who loves to lay on his back and who is huge.  He is happy but isn’t quite sure about the pettins yet.


Tezcatlipocal the monster black cat


and Agamemnon, aka Aggie, our love bug who is only slightly smaller.

Aggie the lovebug



What the Boss Likes – a symbol for being kind

Legend, and reality appears to agree, says during the Great Depression, itinerant workers e.g. hoboes, would let each other know about the conditions of the road and towns that they passed through by using a language of signs. If there was a chance of work, dangerous dogs, vigilant police, that could all be read in a sign left by scratching a nail, rock on metal, etc.

One of those signs was the cat. This signified that a kind hearted woman lived at a home or farm. A hobo might hope to get at least bread and butter and perhaps a cup of milk. Being that I like cats quite a lot, it always appealed to me that a cat would signify someone who cared for others.  The people wearing the pinky pussy hats  at the very successful marches around the world  also got me thinking about this.

I think this sign would make a good thing to let people know that kindness still exists, a kindness with claws behind it.

Here are some images I made up. Please use, but do not abuse, if you’d like. Larger/hi res/different format ones are available. Leave me a note in comments.


What the Boss Likes – we got really cool upholstered chairs!

As the title says, we got really cool upholstered chairs.   Some background on this,  my husband’s parents once did upholstery.  And when my mother in law was dying from colon cancer, she asked what we would like.  We got a pair of decrepit chairs that my husband loved because they were so comfortable, and a gold painted mirror, shelf and candle sconces from circa 1970.  The gold set is now at the base of our staircase.

front-preupholsteryside-preupholsteryThe chairs were in desperate shape 20 years ago, and weren’t getting any better.  But we wanted them to be a nice as possible when we finally shelled out the cash to get them done.   They left clumps of ancient cotton batting, horsehair and decaying bits of fabric everywhere.  There had been this very nice upholstery shop I walked past every day at work, Neil Choquette Fine Upholstery.  They had an old store front that had great glass display windows in front, always filled with such lovely vignettes of what was currently finished.  I always hoped we could get them done there.  Then they vanished.

Years passed…

And finally we had the funds to get them done.  As luck would have it, we read about the long lost upholsterers and found out that they were near-by.  So we contact them.  And couldn’t be happier.   This was not a cheap undertaking.  We got the fabric we wanted, not what was inexpensive.  With all of the insane pleating and buttons and every other upholstery term I don’t know,  it took ten yards of fabric that was $100+/yard, a lovely sculpted velvet that is a deep marine blue, the color of the ocean as seen from the lovely windjammer clipper we vacationed on in Maine a few years back.  The frames, sticky and opaque with decades of Pledge, were stripped and rehabbed by a Mennonite fellow that Neil works with.  I think they are maple and are now a lovely caramel color, gleaming with the deep sheen that good wood has.  Neil thought they were probably 1940s or so.  He did a very clever thing to the chairs. On the seat under the cushion, instead of using just heavy muslin or some such, he used the velvet and reversed the hand so the velvet from the cushion would catch and the cushion wouldn’t always go slipping off.

Feast your eyes.  This pair are as identical as could be made, an incredibly impressive feat.  They are essentially a 50th birthday present for my husband and a 25th wedding anniversary present for the both of us.   Someone will have a great pair of chairs when our estate is dispersed with after we leave this mortal coil.

Of course Muffin had to give her approval.  🙂




From the Bar and Kitchen – grilled chicken, shrimp, beer, and random kibitzing

Hello! Finally getting a chance to catch up on posts about food, alcohol and other things. I do get wrapped up in commenting on other blogs and sadly neglect my own. Current blog commenting is with a Catholic, Joe, which has been interesting, especially when I have asked him if he would obey a Christian theocracy, and with Barry, someone who considers religion something other than believing in a deity and worshipping it, the basic definition of religion. That one is a mind-bender and many thanks to my dear friend, Mak, for hosting the discussion.

shrimpsWith the weather being unusually warm, we’ve had a chance to grill out a couple of times. One meal was grilled shrimp, grilled romaine (yes, the lettuce) and a very tasty rice blend, Texmati Royal Blend. We brushed the shrimps with Frank’s Sweet Chili Sauce, and grilled them over a very hot fire for a short amount of time. We also always remove the tails, since saucy tails are rather pointless. I like the sauce since it has a good hit of vinegar in amongst the sweet and heat. The romaine was brushed with olive oil, grilled to get a nice char and then dressed with Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing. It’s a Harrisburg original, an oil and vinegar dressing with a fair amount of oregano (I think). I love it on cold cut subs.  The rice is Texmati Royal Blend White, Brown and Red Rice, which smells like popcorn when cooking.

chickenWe experimented on another weekend with cooking chicken legs. It is definitely a time for indirect cooking. We built a pile of charcoal in the center of the grill, and arranged the legs around it in a circle, turning them about every 10 minutes for around 45 minutes. It was the first time I actually got a golden brown, not half rubbery and half charcoal skin on my chicken on a grill.




squirel 1While we were cooking one evening, a squirrel decided to join us. I gave him some roasted peanuts in the shell.

wallWe have been restructuring the backyard. Here’s our new stonewall mostly done, with water pipe and new statue of the three Graces.

Watched a couple of movies recently. The newest Godzilla movie is bad. I love giant monster movies, so suspension of disbelief isn’t hard for me. However, this sorry movie had so many ridiculous, LAZY, plot holes in it, it was ridiculous. Same for X-Men: Days of Future Past. I used to be a huge X-Men fan in the 70s and 80s. Nice special effects, utter nonsense for a story.


krampusoverflowing beerFinally, we had brewed some beer over the winter, the Festivus Ale from Northern Brewing. We put a label with the Krampus on it. It was a Festivus miracle since we got nearly 12% alcohol if our measuring device is to be believed. It was a very tasty beer, with fairly sweet with toffee and a good measure of spice. We kept it perhaps too long since it started foaming uncontrollably and did actually blow up some bottles. Glad we had the bottles in a plastic bag lined cardboard box because the glass bottles became bombs, peppering the inside of the box with shrapnel.






Here’s a cat picture for good measure.cats

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – the passing of another pet

???????????????????????????????Again, I ask you to bear with me as I express my grief and memories of a dearly departed pet.  This, and working at a grocery store near the US Thanksgiving holiday, explain why I haven’t been around  much.  Twice this year we have had to say good-bye to one of our cats. This time, it is our dear cat Grendel that has passed into death by our decision for euthanasia.  As I stated back in the post about the passing of our cat Mordred, this atheist is still an atheist, no matter how tempting it would be to pray to some imaginary friend for help to save her pet’s life.   There is still an atheist in this foxhole.

Grendel was one of three kittens we adopted from my parents’ farm. A momma cat was killed and of course one can’t just adopt one. Grendel introduced himself by climbing up my husband’s pant leg.  And during the evening of that day, the discussion wasn’t “should we take them?” but “okay, what are their names?”   So we had Grendel and his sisters, Luna and Mystra since 1998.  Grendel was a long tall brown tabby with an unusual chevron on his shoulders. We called him Private First Class Grendel.

He was a fantastic jumper, able to jump more than 6 feet (around 2 meters) straight up at a standing start.  He had a habit of sitting on the top of doors, and I still have no idea on how he didn’t make the door swing.  He also loved to jump to the top of a wood and class curio cabinet and sit up there for hours.  My husband would lift him there in these last few months of his life.  He also dearly loved catnip.  When we left him outside for supervised visits, he would make a beeline to the catnip plants and then for the gate to the alley out back.

???????????????????????????????About 7 years back, he had terrible trouble with his bladder being blocked with stones.  We chose to have a perineal urethrostomy. This means that the penis is removed and the cat is essentially “replumbed”.  We were warned that he might have problems of leaking but he did perfectly after it.  It was during his first day back from surgery that we found a small kitten in the backyard, who became Muffin, the black and white hellion that we have.

He died of complications from feline diabetes.  We could have given him insulin, but the process of getting the right dose is very hard, if it works at all, and I didn’t want him to dread my approach if I had to cause him pain from injections. So we managed it as well as we could by diet.  The worst was the neuropathy and he eventually was unable to walk and sit up while he used the litter box.  So we made the horrible but humane and necessary decision to have him euthanized.  We were lucky those 7 years ago to be able to afford to help him then.  So many people can’t and I wish I could change that.  But there was no help to be had now.  As I said back when our cat Mordred passed away, I have read that one makes an agreement with sorrow as soon as one adopts a pet that will live a shorter life span than you will.   You get many years of comfort and companionship from your loving pets but you pay for it later.

Grendel being scrutable :)
Grendel being scrutable 🙂

We will miss him intensely as we miss all of the cats and ferrets that have gone before.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Euthanasia, atheists in “foxholes” and my cat

Mordred, my scrawny little black cat
Mordred, my scrawny little black cat

(if it is too much to read about another person’s grief for the reader, I would suggest you skip this post.)

Today I had to have my one cat euthanized, a polite word for having to have my cat killed because it was the best decision of a lot of bad ones. I’ve read that when one accepts having a pet, one makes an agreement with sorrow. It was our sweet Mordred, who was with us for almost 16 years. He started acting not like himself and that is always a bad thing when it comes to elderly cats. He was diagnosed with pancreatitis, which one of the hallmark symptoms is refusing to eat or drink. The vet gave him some IV fluids and meds to decrease the disease and increase his appetite. But he still refused to eat and drink, except for a few treats, far too few calories to live on. The last two days, we gave him fluids by mouth with a needle-less syringe to keep him comfortable at home for a few more days.

Now, we could have had a feeding tube installed, given fluids sub-Q (with a needle syringe under the skin) and kept him alive for a while longer, and he would likely have simply slept most of the time. But that isn’t much of a life, not when he would run away from me when he saw me coming with the supposed “help”.

I’ve always been a proponent of euthanasia, that one’s death is just as important as one’s life and life isn’t simply respirating and metabolizing. I’ve believed this as a theist and as an atheist, that life has no innate specialness that should require suffering in its final days. I never accepted that some deity had the only right to kill people, which was probably one of the early signs I wasn’t going to always remain a Christian. But it’s still very hard to let a loved one go, and in my case, it’s much harder to lose my pets than any human that I have cared for. I guess it’s because I’ve chosen to have my pets and they depend on me to take care of them.  They understand nothing but that.

It would be easy to say “well, I don’t agree with euthanasia this once when it will hurt me personally.” Taking extreme measures could ease the pain that comes from the dreadful responsibility to care for an animal and friend even if that care means that you make his death gentle and peaceful. But that would only be putting off the terrible day for no better reason than my own selfishness. I miss Mordred terribly, but I know that a gentle death is better than a slow fearful starvation.

Many theists would claim that it is in just such a painful situation as loss of a friend would make everyone believe in the god that they tout, the vile claim of “no atheists in foxholes”. By their claims, I *must* have been praying desperately to these gods for a miracle and seeking solace in claims of some afterlife. But I’m not and their false claims fail again. From all of the evidence we have, there is no afterlife, no heaven or Elysian Fields, or reincarnation or some returning to a vague spiritual force. I will never see my cats again, though I do wish I would. I have only my happy memories of them. Please let me share a few with you:

chat noirMordred was a tiny cat, about 7 pounds, and black with a white locket. He looked much like the “Le Chat Noir” poster, all scruffy and pure attitude. He was adopted from the local Humane Society and he was probably only about 9 months old when we got him. He was always full of piss and vinegar, making it his business to ambush the other cats, most who outweighed him by at least double his weight.

Mordred was quite an acrobat. He once jumped backward from a standing start entirely over a loveseat when he was startled by who knows what. He also made the questionable decision to leap upon a hanging basket (holding plants) that we had just put up in our living room, quickly plummeting to the ground. Needless to say, the hanging basket never was put back up.

Much to his disgust, and our amusement, he became a surrogate mother to three of the other cats we have. They were very small kittens when we got them from my parents’ farm. The momma cat had been killed but they at least could drink on their own. They absolutely loved Mordred, always trying to curl up with him. He would growl, get up, move a foot and then settle down again, and was rejoined by the kittens. One of them, Grendel, still loved to do so, even when he was about three times Mordred’s size.

In the last year or two, he took to lying on top of our microwave so he could keep me company in the kitchen, being my little kitchen goblin. He also learned to get up there just before I got home from work. When I opened the door, he greeted me with a loud squawk, demanding treats. If treats were not forthcoming, then he would do his best to grab anyone who walked by.

Mordred was also often in bed with us, especially during the cooler months. He decided his favorite spot was on my head. For a very small cat, he would take up as much pillow real estate as possible, and then curl around my head. He also had a tendency to sleep with one eye open.

It will be a sad and lonely time for my husband and I. And unfortunately, the “kittens” aren’t so young anymore either so it won’t be the last time we know we will grieve this year or the next. It hurts very much, and it is worth enjoying every moment with that which you love to pay for such pain. Don’t figure on some time “later”, don’t regret not doing something now.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – How silly the Qu’ran is and a bonus photo of my cat

It seems like Mr. Rogers isn’t coming back, though I do hope that isn’t the case.  This is unsuprising.  The usual scenario is that the TrueChristiantm will convince himself that I didn’t “really” want to discuss Christianity and he’ll tell himself that I wasn’t honest.  That’s a real two-fer in lying.    

Mordred, my scrawny little black cat
Mordred, my scrawny little black cat

First a cute picture of my one cat, Mordred.  You’d never be able to force him to sit so pretty in my beer photography box but here he is, sitting there on his own.

Mohammed supposedly liked cats. A legend speaks about his cat Muezza.  I will have to say, I always have an irrational soft spot for anyone who likes cats.  Vladimir Putin likes snow leopards.  🙂 

I thought I’d address just how another religion could make an interesting mini-series with the nonsense found with in its holy book.  Islam has some similarities to Christianity and Judaism, claiming to be worshipping the same god, accepting some of what the other two claim but it does differ.  Here’s a link to translations of the qu’ran.

All postulate a rather bizarre opponent for their god.  In Islam, we have the devil/Satan in the guise of Iblis/Shaitan.  Now, for enitites that supposedly know that this god is omnieverything, they certainly make some rather ridiculous decisions.  Yep, let’s go against something we know we can’t beat.  A human emotion to be sure, since us humans are stubborn creatures, sure that our luck will get us through.  We all have doubts about how powerful something really is, but these angels supposedly knew better.  It sounds rather like the Israelites in the exodus,who supposedly saw this god do all sorts of magical things but still bitched about the quail and manna.  As usual, this god is a snotty thing and just says “I know better than you” when it comes to answering the valid question of the angels e.g. why the heck are you placing a flawed being in charge of earth when you got all of us?  Of course, just like in the bible creation story, we see that this god screws up.

Noah has arguments with the folks that live on the earth with him prior to the flood. He claims to be warning them but it’s rather hard for anyone to believe someone who can’t show that a god exists, much less that he can talk to it.  Even Noah’s son disbelieved Noah.  It does have Noah saying that if this god wants to kill you and not bother with showing he exists, that’s okay.   

 We also have the same Sodom and Gomorrah.  That’s another great one to have, showing how a father has no problem in offering his children to a rapacious crowd to protect two supposed angels.  He’s not told he shouldn’t do that, and to add insult to injury, the angels say “leave your wife here to die.”  Lot’s wife isn’t turned to salt in this one. I will have to say, at least the bible is easier to read than the qu’ran. No wonder it needs the hadith so badly. 

The Islamic Abraham is at least more honest than the bible one.  IA is “hey kid, you’re going to be sacrificed” (assumed it is Ishmael, but no name given) whilst BA is “let’s go for a walk.” (Issac in this)  Both should be great to see on screen, a father willing to do *anything* he’s told, including murder his child.  And a omnipotent god needing to test anyone?  Not so omniscient is he?  

Isn't this an awesome bird?  it's latin name is Upupa Epops!
Isn’t this an awesome bird? it’s latin name is Upupa Epops!

Solomon chats with ants and birds and it’s acknowledged that there is magic that can be confused with a god’s actions. (Sura 27). Solomon also gets upset with a hoopoe for being absent.  The hoopoe was out spying on the Queen of Sheba.   

Unsuprisingly, the qu’ran is just as rife with contradictions as the bible.  And often has the same problems.  There are a few sites out there (answering islam, being one of them) who are Christians who are so smug about how they’ve found so much wrong with the qu’ran; nothing like watching the pot call the kettle black.