Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pics and Stuff

For Mom and Dad: pics of your girls at my place. See? They're doing great!

Bella looking for toys:

Duchess flirting:

The Duckster, liking Millie's bed, and Millie's catnip crab:

Bella, hiding (what else is new?):

When I was on the floor getting the above picture, I looked up to see this:

Of course, there has to be a Millie pic (she's so cute with her little eyes closed!):

And last but not least--a video of Duchess:

How to Terrify and Bewilder the Cat-Guests

Just some ideas...if you ever babysit a family member's cats, here's how to terrify and bewilder them on their first full day at your house.

1. Screaming Hissy Fit

I was reading my email earlier today, after a morning out at Kaiser, a local teacher store, and Safeway. Suddenly, Millie, basking in the living room window, jumped up, making the blinds smack together, screaming her head off. If you've never heard a cat scream three feet from your ear, count yourself among the lucky.

My butt probably got about three inches off of my chair. My heart took a field trip to my throat, then my toes, and then back home to my chest. My mouth launched itself on a tirade as Millie continued to scream at the cat outside our window. "Millie! Stop it!" I went to comfort her, but quickly pulled my hands back as she continued to growl--loudly--at the cat that had the audacity to be curious about the calico in the window.

After this, I went to check on Bella and Duchess. Duckie had been lounging on my bed before the hissy fit. After, she retreated to safety with her sister. I've hardly seen them since.

There are at least half a dozen cats that have the freedom to roam this part of the apartment complex. I've seen then several times, and I know Millie has, too--this is the first time she's screamed like that.

2. Haul Out the Hoover

I've been out of town the last two weekends, and the weekend before that, I had company (Summer), so it's been a while before I've done a good, deep cleaning of the apartment. I knew that I'd have to get down and dirty (pardon the pun) during break. I just can't stand a nasty apartment.

Bella and Duchess have been, of course, under my bed. I figured I'd clean my room first, to get it over with. But no one likes a big, scary vaccuum cleaner being thrust around, into their special hiding spot. Both girls came out from under the bed, looking bewildered. They hung out in the 2nd bedroom for a bit. As soon as I was finished...back they both went.

I'm sure, once I settle down tonight, they will venture out some more. Last night I slept on my pull-out sofa, and while I was reading, both Bella and Duchess came out, one at a time, to peer at me from behind the chair. This morning, there was a little mouse toy on the floor where it had not been the night before, and there is evidence that the litter box has been in use.

In the meantime, Mom and Dad are currently in the air...I imagine by now they are somewhere over Canada, heading towards the north pole on their way to Frankfurt. When they get to Venice, they'll have plenty of blog updates to read. Maybe later I'll post some pictures. : )

The Crazy Cat Lady: Day 2 (Morning)

I woke up at 8:00 this morning. I slept on my fold-out sofa last night because I didn't have time to make my bed after washing the sheets this weekend. Millie was cuddled up in my comforter by my feet. I got up to look in on Bella and Duchess, who were under my bed.

After a moment, they emerged, ready for their morning cookies. All three cats had their cookies, even Bella, who sometimes isn't in the mood.

Then, a few minutes later, Bella threw up. Not so normal, but she is a little bit stressed, so I won't worry just yet.

I'm off in a bit to the doctor to get a physical and then I need to spend the rest of the day scrubbing down my apartment. It's been a few weeks since I've done a good, thorough clean, rather than just spot-checking here and there.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Crazy Cat Lady: Day 1 (and a half)

I got home from choir rehearsal (week four, still loving it!) at about 9:40 tonight. Millie came running out from my bedroom when I called a greeting. Duchess stood in the bedroom doorway, then walked towards me with her tail up (a sign of comfort).

Bella stayed under the bed.

Bella is our scaredy-cat.

Now, at about 10:00, both Kindergatos just came out to the kitchen to the food and water. I suppose that's a good sign!

The Crazy Cat Lady: Day 1

Mom and Dad are leaving tomorrow for a three-week trip that includes a cruise from Venice, Italy, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida...with all the fabulous stops between, of course. (I'm so jealous.)

Normally, when they go on a trip, they hire a local petsitting service to come to the house once or twice a day to freshen up the food and water, clean the litterbox, and check on Bella and Duchess. But with this trip being longer than most, they asked me if I wouldn't mind babysitting the Kindergatos in my own apartment. No problem!

And it really isn't. I helped raise the Terrible Torties from the day we brought them home. They know me, they know Millie, and I know they'll be fine once they get over the shock of being ripped out of their comfortable home today. I feel bad for them being scared, but...well, moments of hilarity ensued:

1. Kitty Korus

It took all three of us to strap the three cat carriers into my car, and the bawling that was going on gave new meaning to the word, "caterwauling." I've joked in the past that "Millie and the Kindergatos" sounds like a bad rock band. Well, I heard their whole album in the first 20 minutes of the drive, and I can say that they won't be going Solid Gold.

2. If Music Be the Food of Love (and Sanity), Play On...

I've noticed a trend with Millie in the car. If, for some reason, I don't have the music going, she cries, but generally, as long as I have music playing, she's quiet. I thought this must be a little quirk of a musician's kitty, but it turns out that Bella and Duchess, after the first 20 minutes or so, had that same vibe. All would be calm while the music was going, and they even got a free concert of me singing some of my greatest hits, like "Dreams" by the Cranberries, and a song by Billy Joel. But in between songs, in those few seconds of silence, the crying would start up again.

3. Oh, poop

Mom, Dad and I had a hell of a time catching Bella and Duchess today. Millie is an experienced traveller. She's pretty resigned to being put in her box. Bella and Duchess, however, are not used to travelling, so catching them once they realized something was up proved difficult.

When Mom finally caught Duchess, the poor little thing was so scared from being chased around the house that she pooped...giving literal meaning to the term "scared shitless."

It's not funny, and yet, it is. I have to admit I was laughing pretty hard as Mom carried a pooping kitty across the guest bedroom, leaving little turdlets from one side to the other. Poor Ducky.

I'm pleased to say that the girls appear to be okay. When I got them to my apartment, I brought Millie in first, then the sisters. Millie hissed at them (some hostess) and Bella and Duchess set off, crouched low to the ground, to sniff out their temporary home. They've taken refuge under my bed--just as I expected they would--and I am giving them some space to adjust. I have a feeling that in a few days, they'll be more comfortable, and perhaps more social.

In the meantime, bon voyage, Mom and Dad! Have a wonderful trip, and I'll be updating the blog from time to time with kitty stories and pictures. They're in good hands!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Who Knew?

When I was offered my current job back in July, my first thoughts were as follows:

1. "Woohoo!! A job! Oh, the relief!!!"

2. "Waitaminute...Stockton?!"

3. "Well, the job is exactly what I want."

4. "But still...Stockton...

Let's face it, Stockton doesn't have a shining reputation. Most people thing gang wars, murder and mayhem. I thought, "Well, here goes."

I've been pleasantly surprised. Yes, there are parts of Stockton I avoid like the plague; and while it's by far not the worst part of Stockton, I wouldn't want to live in the neighborhood in which I teach (but that's also partly because then my kids would figure out where I live). But I found a cute, reasonably-priced apartment in the northern part of town, and I have found that downtown Stockton, while not as beautiful and cosmopolitan as other cities in California, still has a lot to offer in terms of art, music, sporting events, and culture. And let's not forget that Stockton is home to University of the Pacific (UOP), Cal State Stanislaus, and San Joaquin Delta College.

Tonight I sat down and did some serious Googling, looking for things to do in the next couple of months--events at which I might meet interesting people and further my enjoyment of this city I rather impulsively decided to call home. Here's what I came up with:

1. The Bob Hope Theater

The Bob Hope Theater has a full season of Broadway shows, comedy shows, jazz, and classic cinema. They draw some interesting names, including upcoming concerts featuring The Temptations and Chaka Khan. I can dig it.

2. Stockton Civic Theater

This is the local theater group, and it looks like they do some great shows as well, including their upcoming run of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. I'm toying with the idea of becoming a volunteer usher.

3. The Haggin Museum

I'm very excited about this museum--it has a nice art collection (including one of my favorite of the French Impressionists, Pierre-Auguste Renoir), and I'm very excited about an upcoming exhibition of photos entitled "Portraits from the Golden Age of Jazz." I'm so there.

They also have relics of the history of Stockton, the Delta, and California, which sounds exciting to the history buff in me.

4. Sports!

I love sporting events. I find them exciting and fun. So I'm excited to see that Stockton has a minor-league hockey team, the Stockton Thunder, and, of course, the collegiate sports.

5. Farmer's Market

Did you know that my current town, Antioch, did not have a farmer's market? I once looked up the nearest farmer's market and it was miles out of the way. In Stockton, there's one at a nearby mall on Sundays, though I suspect it will be closing for the winter soon.

My planner is filling up fast with things I want to do. I think on Thursday, I'll head over to the "Expressions in Paint" opening event at San Joaquin Delta College. UOP is having Morgan Spurlock (he of "Supersize Me" fame) speak on October 18--and it's free to the public!

Now, the only question is...would anyone like to join me in any of these events? : )

A Chance to HELP

I'm appealing to everyone I know, because it would be so very sad to see a wonderful place have to close.

In May, my dad saw the following on our local news:

Intrigued, we decided to attend the open house, which, of course, I blogged about.

Mom started volunteering there every other Monday, grooming the horses, donkey and goats, and enjoying herself immensely. I go with her when I am in town on a Monday morning. My most recent visit was on Labor Day.

In our brief acquaintance with Deanna and Woody of A Chance for Bliss, we have come to know them to be wonderful, giving people. What they do for these animals is truly lovely--and now, they are in financial peril, due to the economic downturn. They've been in crisis for some months; Woody's job in mortage hasn't been doing so well with the housing crisis. They have tried to bail themselves out on their own, but now are appealing for help.

I wouldn't normally do this, but I believe in what these lovely people are doing--so I am posting about their troubles in my blog in the hopes that this will reach more people who can help--even five dollars would help Woody and Deanna keep their dream alive...and keep their beloved animals where they belong--at a quiet, comfortable farm where they can live out their days in peace and safety.

If you are interested in learning more about this, visit their web site. They are an approved non-profit organization.

I would so hate to see Handsome, Spike and all of their lovely animals lose their home!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I [Heart] Grey's Anatomy

...and the Season Five premiere is tonight!!

I've been watching Season Four on DVD, and learning, once again, how emotionally invested I am in this show. I laugh, I cry, I want more.

Bring on Meredith and McDreamy. I'm there!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Life...in Children's Songs

Seeing as how I spend quite a bit of time these days singing childrens songs and playing music games, I thought it would be fun to update my blog readers with recent events, as they pertain to children's songs and stories.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider...Who Died in My Shower

Alas, this itsy-bitsy spider did not climb up the spout again...because it was washed down the drain of my shower.

I was in the middle of washing my hair yesterday when I noticed a small spider on the floor of my shower, at the end that remains relatively dry. Under normal circumstances I would immediately grab my "telephone" shower nozzle and wash that little spider right down the drain, curling up my toes to keep said spider from washing over them.

But yesterday, I was a victim to PMS. I wanted to save a life, not end it. When the stupid arachnid started creeping closer to the water, instead of away from it, it got caught. I gently toed the water in a direction away from the drain, watching the spider struggle and regain its footing--only to come BACK towards the running water!

I tried for a good few minutes to keep that spider from its death, but finally, it was too far gone, and I had to watch it take a ride down the bathtub and into the drain. Here's the kicker--I felt horrible! I almost cried.

Some months Auntie Flo is nice...and others, she's a hurricane. There are high winds in my apartment this week.

Jack and the Beanstalk

Today, I had a couple of first grade classes come to my room for music. One class had a sub, a man I saw was quite tall.

The class went very well, and after 30 minutes, the sub came back to collect his wee charges--twenty 6-year-olds hyped up from a rousing, almost endless, game of "Punchinello the Clown," a song which will be stuck in my head for at least another week--as I lined them up at the door. One of the little girls walked up to me, and in the loudest stage whisper ever, said, "Our sub...he's HUGE!!!" I let out a puff of laughter, got control of myself, and said, "Why yes, he certainly is tall."

After school, I saw the giant in the office and told him what had happened. He just laughed and ruefully replied, "I think some of them were scared of me."

Dude, use it to your advantage.

Hokey Pokey (Snore)

Yesterday, I had three--count 'em, three--2nd grade classes in my room at the same time for music (scheduling difficulties forced me to do it this way). One class had a sub. The sub fell asleep. While sixty (three classes, times 20 kids per class) 2nd graders sang the Hokey Pokey!

There are no words.

Looby Loo Loogie

I was walking to the garbage can during my 6th period class today (7th/8th grades) when I looked down to see a puddle of SPIT on the floor.

My eyes crossed.

Steam came out of my ears.

My stomach rolled.

The kids were starting at me while I stood there for whole minutes, staring at the floor. Finally, one kid got up, looked down, and yelled, "Eww!! Miss Cooper, you spit on the floor!!"

"Sit. Down," was my growl in reply.

Needless to say, no one was going to admit to spitting on the floor of my classroom, no one was going to "snitch," and certainly no one was going to clean it up. So I called the office. The assistant principal arrived shortly and we got down to finding out "whodunnit." We used anonymous notes from each kid. We got about 18 "I don't knows" and one name.

It was the kid who jumped up and yelled, "Eww!! Miss Cooper, you spit on the floor!!" He denied it, but he didn't get out of getting a paper towel and some soap to clean it up.


If You're Happy and You Know It

I have two more days, and then a lovely, two-week fall break. I plan on catching up with lesson plans, doing a deep cleaning of my apartment, and listing a bunch of stuff on eBay. I'm also getting my hair did (in Antioch--a good hairdresser is worth driving for!) and contemplating a day trip or two.

Mostly, though, I'll be relaxing with Millie and the cats formerly known as the Kindergatos. Mom and Dad are going on a three-week Meditterannean cruise, so I'm babysitting. : )

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Well, Duh...

In this week's "Oh, Meg, what are we going to do with you?!" category...the unpaid phone bill and inability to use my landline to call my parents.

I am very, very good about paying my bills and rent on time. It's a personal point of pride for me that I do this. I love looking at my parents and saying, "I'm a responsible adult!"

Then came yesterday.

As you know, I moved this summer, from Antioch to Stockton. Obviously, this means a new phone number. With AT&T, your phone number is your account number.

For the last two months, I've been merrily paying my bill through my online banking--to the old account number. It didn't even connect in my brain when I got a refund check for those payments a week or so ago. I just thought, "Cool! Free money!" and put it in the bank.

In my own defense, I'll just point out that things happened kind of quickly with the new job and the move.

Anyway, yesterday, I had one of those cranky days that come along once in a while. I left my cell phone at school, so imagine my dismay when I arrived home and couldn't call my parents from the land line. I emailed a terse "Call me" email to Mom and Dad, telling them how "f-ed up" AT&T is, telling me in a letter I got that I haven't paid my bill. What could they be talking about?!

Dad called, and said, "You know, when we switched over, I got a refund check, too...when you paid your bill, did you put in your new account number?"

Imagine the "Oh. DUH!!" look on my face (and go ahead, laugh at my expense--it's okay, really!).

"Um. No. I did not."

Dad just laughed.

It's all sorted out now, and I should have calling ability soon, once the payment goes from my bank account to AT&T. In the meantime, I'll be making calls from the trusty cell phone. I'm still on Dad's account, so no worries there!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thinking of My Girls in Houston

I have two NASCAR friends, Shae and Michelle, who live in Houston, where, of course, they are watching Ike blast towards them. I haven't talked to Michelle, but I have been keeping up with Shae this evening. Shae, you may recall, was introduced to the City by the Bay in June 2007, by Yours Truly.

This isn't her first hurricane, but she is definitely nervous. She has my cell phone number and strict instructions to text me (at ANY time, even in the wee hours!) with updates should she lose her power and, therefore, her internet connection. I plan to keep my phone near me all night.

So tonight I'm sending good vibes and big prayers to my girls in Houston. Stay safe!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


So, of course, today is the seventh--I know, seven years! Amazing--anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It's hard to escape the anniversary, unless, like my friend Shae, you live in Houston, where they have bigger things on their minds.

But here in the Central Valley, it's business as usual, and when you teach middle school, well, even more so. My 7th and 8th graders were in kindergarten and first grade when the attacks happened. Most admitted freely that it's not something they really remember, aside from bits and pieces.

So I told them my story, and tried to make it real for them. I told them how scared I was that day, even though my family was 3,000 miles away from the events unfolding. I told them how I rarely cry at movies, but that day, my tears flowed freely.

Next Wednesday is Constitution Day, and all students and teachers will be singing the National Anthem together at the beginning of the school day. It's also the only day this year the kids will be allowed to wear red and royal blue--colors usually banned in the school district because of their gang affiliations. In preparation for Constitution Day, I offered to make sure the 7th and 8th grade classes all know the Star-Spangled Banner.

Well, of course, my kids are reluctant to sing. I gave them three options:

1. Citation (a referral)

2. A solo try at the song in front of their peers.

3. Just sing it once, whole group, with the CD and be done with it. The song, with intro, takes a whole whopping one minute and ten seconds.

They may be preteens, but they're not stupid! They happily chose Option Number Three. So I started the CD--and saw the kids leaning, talking, laughing, passing notes. So I stopped.

"You know what?" I asked them. "There are American men and women--right now--sitting in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting for your right to behave like idiots during the National Anthem. My dad? Yeah. He fought in the Vietnam war--I'm very lucky he didn't die there, because then I wouldn't have been born. But he could have died--and he would have done it so you could have the right to be completely disrespectful during the National Anthem. Now, if you will please get your bottoms off the table and stand respectfully, we'll try this again."

Suddenly, you could hear a pin drop. They realized that I was serious, and they sang the song--they were a little chagrined, but they sang. When it was done, I let them sit back down, and told them the story of how Francis Scott Key came to pen the famous poem that would become our National Anthem. I put the words of the Anthem into teen-speak. Suddenly, a class that has a hard time sitting still was quiet, listening, and buying in. It's a very good feeling.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sing, Sing, Sing!

Yesterday was just another manic Monday. After a full day at work, I jumped into Rosie Pro and drove to another school in the district for a VAPA meeting, stopping at Safeway along the way because everyone with last names A-M was asked to bring something to munch on.

I arrived at the very large campus a few minutes before 4:00, and set off to find the VAPA room. I asked several people for directions and finally, sweaty and breathing a little heavy, found it.

It was closed, locked and there was definitely no one home.

I found one of the ladies who had given me directions and said, "The email said Hoover Elementary!"

"Oh! This is Caldwell! Hoover is next door."

Yep...two campuses...both K-8, separated by nothing more than a long fire lane, which I walked the entire lenghth of, looking for an entrance.

I arrived at my meeting about fifteen minutes late, and apologized to the lady in charge. She got a smile on her face and I said, "Two schools!" She just laughed.

The meeting let out at 5:30, and I was off. I had to be in downtown Stockton (not too far away, but I didn't want to take any chances) by 6:00 to try out for the Stockton Chorale. Rehearsals are every Monday night at St. John's Anglican Church.

Promptly at 6:00, the conductor, one Dr. Edward Cetto of University of the Pacific, met a small handful of us who were waiting to audition. He took us into the church itself, and I volunteered to sing first.

Ted (that's what everyone calls him) looked at my audition sheet and made a couple of, "Oh!" and "Nice!" noises as he read about my musical background. I told him I just moved to Stockton to take a teaching job and had found, quite by chance, the Stockton Chorale web site. He asked what part I like to sing and I told him I'm pretty happy to sing soprano or alto, and that, in the past, different directors have put me in alto because I can hold a part, or soprano to work on my head voice.

I sang for him for maybe five minutes, after which he said, "Well, you're in like flint!" This made me giggle with relief. He decided to put me in the Soprano 2 section, because he likes my higher range.

He sent me to give my audition form to a lady in the rehearsal room. I was given rehearsal and concert schedules, some necessary information, and shown to the soprano section. I still had about 45 minutes to kill before rehearsal, so I slipped outside to call Mom and Dad (Dad said, "I had no doubt you'd make it, with your background!"), and then I went back inside to sit and relax for a bit.

I can't begin to say how NICE everyone is! Several people made a point of introducing themselves and asking me about myself. There are people of all ages in the group, and many of them have been in the Chorale for years. There is tremendous enthusiasm for the music, the director, and the group as a whole. Their enthusiasm is contagious.

We got started at 7:00, doing a quick warm-up. Warm-ups are a good time to get a feel for a group. I'd read a bit on the web site about the group, and knew from the audition process that we are expected to be able to learn quickly. Still, I had no idea what the group was actually going to sound like until we all opened our mouths to sing.

All I can say is, "Wow." This is a group of strong voices and high ability. As the rehearsal went on, I noticed that everyone picks the music up quickly--and we're not doing easy music! Some of the harmonies are very difficult, as we are doing 20th Century settings of old Latin texts. There was, of course, time spent tuning little things. There are a lot of "close" harmonies, meaning two sections (most often the tenors and altos) singing notes that are very close, but not the same. It can be very hard for two sections to hold these harmonies, and thus keep the chord true. This group can do it--on the first night of rehearsal!

Needless to say, I'm excited. : ) I have a group to sing with, plenty of performance opportunities (we have four concerts this semester alone), and the music is exciting and challenging.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Princess Fuzzy Buns Strikes Again

Good grief...I gave my cat a new toy and a new collar, celebrated her birthday in my blog, and even got her pretty face on Stuff On My Cat...and she repays me by biting my toe when I try to get my rightful share of the ottoman!! After all, I am chief breadwinner and housecleaner around this place. All I wanted was a couple more inches of space for my feet, but nooooo, Princess I-Run-This-Place had a problem with that. One little nudge and she chomped down on my toe!

She got unceremoniously set on the floor for that one.

Hmph. Little brat. Of course, in a little bit she'll be all over me with the cuddles and purrs and all will be forgotten.

Isn't that how it works?

Oh, the Temptation...

from $1529 Roundtrip

4:50 pm Depart San Francisco (SFO)
Arrive London (LHR) 11:00 am +1 day Mon 1-Jun
Duration: 10hr 10mn British Airways 284
Nonstop flight

Preview seat availability Choose this departure

Urgh!! I have way more than that in my savings!! I could so just buy that ticket right now and KNOW I'm going to England next year...and yet, what holds me back is that big What If? What if I need that money for something else?


A Bari Good Thing

You might be aware of my nieces' and nephews' stories, if you've heard me talk about them. Katie, Echo, Brayden and Tyson all came to our family as foster children. All but Brayden have been adopted.

The official word, as of a few days ago, is that all systems are go for Aaron and Susanne to adopt Brayden, as well. I haven't met him yet, but I spoke to him on the phone and he sounds very sweet. I think he's seven or eight years old.

Anyway, the kids all came into our family at different ages--but none of them were adopted as babies. This blog is a little "brag" about Echo, who came to us at the delicate age of ten, from a life, beforehand, that wasn't always pleasant.

Echo, being a preteen girl with a history of abuse, has her emotions to work through. Rome wasn't built in a day, and damaged children aren't cured in a day, either. Add puberty into the mix, and, well, let's be honest--it hasn't always been pretty! Puberty can be a pretty horrifying time in a girl's life...as anyone who has been there, done that can attest.

Time, counseling and love are doing their part to help Echo along. She continues to grow stronger every day, and, according to Susanne, she has three close girlfriends through school and church. Their church has been supportive of all of Aaron and Susanne's children, knowing that these are children who need a lot of love and acceptance. Echo is maturing and taking on more responsibilities at home. She does what she can to help look after her younger brothers, and is looking forward to a time when she is old enough to babysit to earn some extra money.

All of this is wonderful, but it's not the point of this blog. This blog entry is to brag a little on something really, really cool.

Last weekend, Dad mentioned that Echo has taken up the baritone in her school band (she just started 6th grade). The first words out of Auntie Music Teacher's mouth were, "Right on!! That's COOL!!!" Anyone who has spent more than ten minutes in my company knows that I am an Advocate (with a capital "A") for music education, and the power of music in a person's life.

On Thursday evening, my phone rang. My phone with caller ID isn't working, so I've been using an "old-fashioned," non-digital phone on my land line--and making most of my calls via cell phone. So I answered reluctantly, because I didn't want to deal with anyone annoying. But I picked it up, anyway, figuring it might be important.

"Hi Aunt Megan...this is Echo."

"Hi Echo! How are you?"

"Fine. I wanted to tell you that I'm playing baritone in band at school."

"I heard! I'm so excited for you."

From there we went on to talk about how much she likes it, and band, and sixth grade. Then she put the phone down so she could play for me. They were those first akward notes of a beginning musician...and the most beautiful sound I've ever heard.

I praised her up one side and down the other, telling her how much fun I had in band in my school years, and all the wonderful things I got to do because of my musical career. Then Echo, who has long had a dream of being a vet one day (certainly a very noble goal) said, "I might change my mind and be a music teacher."

Can someone please pass a very proud Auntie Meg a tissue...or twelve?

Friday, September 05, 2008


On her ninth birthday, my Millie-girl is once again made famous on Stuff On My Cat!

I submitted this picture in January, and it's finally up--these guys have a serious backlog of cat lovers with adorable cats. :)

Anyway, check it out here--it's my Mill at her finest!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Happy Birthday, Millie!!

I can hardly believe it, but my baby is nine (in human years). She was born to a feral cat, so I don't know what her date of birth is. All I know is she was about three months when I got her in December 1999. The shelter said she was probably born in late August or early September.

It's not really important, I guess, but I wanted a date to mark her years with, so I picked September 5, because it was my Grandma Bean's birthday. So tomorrow is Millie's ninth birthday. I wish her many, many more years of being my sweet baby. She brings a lot of joy to my life.

Tonight, I scanned the first Millie picture. This was minutes after Mom and Dad arrived at my apartment, surprising me with a baby calico.

"The ladies at the shelter called her Punky Brewster," Mom told me. "But you can call her whatever you want." So she became Millennium Joy, my Millie-girl.

Mom promised me that day that Millie would be a wonderful friend. "She'll never tell your secrets." And it's true. In the last nine years, I've been comforted many times by the cuddles and purrs of this sweet little soul.

She's like no other cat I've ever known: smarter than is probably good for her, able to remember me after a long absence (my year in England) and to immediately go back to complete trust and affection. She is curious, snoopy, playful, loving, sweet, talkative, quick to purr, sassy, mischievious, and a source of laughter and joy in my life. I swear she knows when I've had a bad day.

She's had really good health, and for a nine-year-old cat, she's still somewhat active and playful. She never did turn into the "fat lady of middle years" I expected all those years ago, but has retained her girlish 8-pound figure. Am I jealous? You bet! She once got a really bad bug, and I spent one panic-filled afternoon hysterically crying because I thought I might have to have her put down. I unabashedly took a day off of work to nurse her through that illness, forcing water and Gerber Chicken and Rice down her throat with a syringe in an attempt to hydrate my poor, sick kitty.

Some people say that cats (and animals in general) are stupid, that they don't feel. I don't buy it for one second. If there are angels on earth, surely they come in small furry bodies, with comforting purrs and playful spirits.

Happy Birthday, Millie!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Horses, of Courses!

And many other animals, too...

Mom and I went to A Chance for Bliss today (see my links to the right --->) to groom the horses, donkey and goats. Mom goes every other Monday; I tag along when I'm in town. We took a large supply of apples and carrots, and for a few brief moments, we were the most popular mammals in the paddock. Then we ran out, alas.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the geese (and one lone duck), who promptly told us off for invading their territory.

Mom had the bag of goodies, and the horses were all over her:

Daisy (foreground) and Big Cloud grazing. Big Cloud gets downright panicked if his girlfriend Daisy isn't around.

Dolly (I had the song "Hello Dolly" stuck in my head for a while after grooming her)

A shy sheep:

More games of Duck, Duck, Goose:

I groomed this little cutie, and then he followed me around the paddock. I swear he's smiling in this picture!

On our way to the other paddock, we stopped to feed the two resident bunnies.

Mom grooming Handsome the pony (P.S. Mom had cataract surgery last week, hence the special glasses):

I Like Spike!

Here's a video of Mom getting bombarded by Handsome, Dusty, Star, and other members of that paddock looking for carrots and apples (my new nickname for Handsome is Greedy Gut).


Me with Big Cloud (it's windy today...can you tell?)

Mom with Big Cloud and Dolly (these are great because they showcase just how uncooperative horses can be when you're photographing them!)

Happy Goat : )

One last shot of the geese and duck: