Monday, March 30, 2009

sogginess in the Spring

It could refer to my knees and ankles, or a pile of newspapers in a water source, but I mean the air and the ground are about equally damp and squishy today. I know I should be glad it isn't freezing solid (or, like Fargo, flooding AND freezing solid), and I am, but it is not raising the heart or the energy level. Or maybe that's the effect of three sleeping cats.

Marten had an upset stomach the day he went for his annual vaccinations and he was more miserable than I have ever seen him, keening (though he is normally almost mute) and hiding under my feet on the way home. So I drove home in sockfeet because I didn't want to crush him when I clutched in. He was not himself for two more days, but now he seems himself again. Nigel is continuing to be a delight, but he wants someone kitteny to play with, because Marten thinks he is a pipsqueak. I do not think I should get a fourth cat, because they cost money and I should also pay attention to creeping Cat-Ladyhood, which can sneak up on a single woman in the near-woods. On nicer days we all go outside and take walks, even Willow.

This is not a nicer day.

There are crocus and mini-iris and snowdrops. No peepers I have noticed yet. We have gone beyond 'mud-luscious' to 'amazing ruts in the driveway.'

On Friday, I made my yearly trip to Northampton to teach spinning and needle-felting at the Smith science fiction convention. I missed my daughter, who had mixed feelings about graduating and leaving Smith, too, but I found I still knew a bunch of people and since at least two of them will still be there next spring, I will probably go again. I also really like spinning and spindles and I don't do enough of it. And science fiction fans, who find it perfectly reasonable to wonder in the middle of a conversation about spinning, _why_ the Greek-style sword is shaped like that. (It was a wooden version, along these lines, for sale and a thing of beauty. I don't know whether it would have to be peace-bonded at a convention, but you could probably give someone a nasty bruising scalp wound.)

An eight-year-old girl with her family from Virginia suggested several more science fiction conventions I could go to when I announced I needed more of this. She and her sister were wearing matching velvet half-cloaks, being steampunk (think Victorian with a heavy Jules Verne overlay, and extra gears and rockets) with their father.

Another person told me she had never heard grownups discussing science fiction before, and another wondered why so many people looked down on it. I tried to explain that there was a time before lots of paperbacked books existed and that it had mostly been small pulp magazines until about 1964, but since I have never understood why 'everyone' in the 'real literary world' thinks science fiction is the lowest form of life except maybe for slasher porn, I wasn't much help. (I am not sure I believe in 'everyone' or the 'real literary world,' either. But I have heard about them.)

But science fiction cons, despite the posing-as-weird-(they-wish), the unwashed, and those in chain-mail bikinis, feel like home to me, so it was good. ConBust was actually quite clean, relatively unweird, and mostly appropriately dressed.

WEBS is selling some really nicely prepared 'domestic wool' (looks like Romney) in several natural colors for 99 cents an ounce. I behaved very well and only spent $18 there, and half that was for needles. It turned out I needed the extra roving I had bought, and the con was charging a materials fee for the spinning class, a great idea I had never had before. The kitchen store has moved next to the comic book store, which could be a bad conjunction for me the next time I go, but I behaved and bought a hostess gift from the comic book people (for when I go back there Memorial Day; I don't think Grace and Debbie read this, so I can say it was a FLUXX deck; and a spice jar holding drawer rack for the kitchen I sincerely believe I will one day be using. It has many drawers. I am hoping t=for the almost empty counter look, so I am giving this a shot.

The cats don't approve of all this gallivanting, but I do. It was beautiful in Henniker on Friday and in Northampton on Saturday, t-shirt weather... someday again, I hope.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Black cat update: He seems to be named Nigel, which means 'Small black thing.' It's also a form of the name of a rather weedy minor male character in Terry Pratchett, who nonetheless has a hero's heart. He is sweet and wants much head-scratching. I am not altogether sure how the litter box issue is working. He also sleeps most of the day and wanders around at night, looking for a party or his relatives. But he is living inside the house and shows up for attention and a huge amount of premium kibble. The other cats are not saying "What a charming playmate," exactly.

It snowed again.

Paul finished putting lights into the kitchen. If it ever becomes a real functioning kitchen (I know, wanting the sink and the stove to be hitched up is just another way to waste energy and water) it will be better lit by a great deal than the old one. Perhaps by June. It's making more progress now with him working on it.

Friday, March 06, 2009

And also

Since my remaining patience is being tried it's a good thing I started the short term wine kit. It turned out that my local brewing shop, Kettle to Keg, carries the brand that I have been successful with. I also picked up a better siphon. This kit will be ready to bottle 4 weeks from when I started it, and though they would prefer I waited 6 months to try it, a month will do. It's a Canadian Malbec. If that's possible.

Around the same time I got my next step into fermentation going: I had bought a bottle of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar a couple of weeks ago (the local food co-op has it). I poured about a third of the bottle into a clean jug and added most of a bottle of undrinkable Zinfandel. It is finally beginning to have the symptoms of acetafication; something like an oil slick is forming. It doesn't smell any more like vinegar than it did, but that may yet happen. Today I gave the matter a great deal of thought and some Googling and have taken several of the small bottles of really-not-very-good stout and put them with some more of the unpasteurized vinegar in a half-gallon jar by the stove, and after awhile I hope to have malt vinegar.

Sarah and I have enticed the Black Kitty back into the house and he feels thoroughly betrayed. He ran straight to the rather camouflaged cat exit, only to find I had shut it (admittedly, after the cat had gone). Sarah is now feeding him tuna fish. i don't eat tuna any more because I admire them and they are not farmed and so on. But if it's here, at least that fish will not have died in vain. Now Cat's rolling on his back and eating tuna out of her hand. Very good at taming people.
So I went to the feed'n'grain a week ago to buy eggs and there was a sign up from an elderly woman on a fixed income with three cats. She had just taken in a pregnant stray, and, oddly, wanted someone else to take the cat. (They have found an obliging vet.) I said that she should call me when she needed a home for a male kitten. Wendy, behind the counter, whipped out three pieces of paper. "Here, black male 5 months old. Or here. Or here -- no, she hasn't popped yet." So I called the black male's owner, who assured me he was a love and litter-trained (yeah, maybe) and she just had too many cats. And a Caesarean and a week-old baby boy. He (cat, not baby) is good about litter boxes but had no shots and was not altered (owner seemed confused as to what I might mean by altered).

Sometime later, I arrived at the house. The owner had 'Tucker' (Tucker is the name of a dog belonging to a friend of mine; it is not a cat name to me) in a catbox, pulled him out and puts him in my arms. A very nice cat, slightly fluffy black with semi-plumy tail. She says they like him, they just have too many cats. ("I'm 24 and well on the way to being a crazy cat lady.") His sister, Freckles, is from a different litter, but Betsy, their mom, has never been a good mom and both litters were mostly raised by Sally, their grandmother, who had been just coming off a litter when Tucker's litter was born and she nursed them after Betty ran off. His and Freckles's fathers had been wandering toms.

Tucker had been rather feral as small kitten but after he was got at by the two rat terriers who live in the basement, he came to live in the house and was just a love.

That's not counting the two dogs upstairs, one of whom has been sent outside for considering biting me. Very protective of the baby, Maleina explains. Other dog had to stay indoors as other dog had mauled goose and killed goose's mate.

Would I like to meet the pony? I met the pony, the rescue pig ( a Tamworth, trodden on by mom, with unusable right leg; the size of a coffee table and looks like a wild boar without tusks. Friendly, polite), and the remaining goose. Maleina, had sewn the goose back together after dog had left her for dead. Goose looked fine now.

So I took Black cat to vet, and he was very calm, like not hiding, and passed all his tests and got his first set of shots and I was in yuppie-shock about having too many cats, not fixed, no vaccines (despite being inside/outside).

Better living through contraception.

After 6 days, he was still sitting with his face squashed into the space FARTHER under the stairs and only coming out when no one was there, unless I offered him tuna. When he came out, he was friendly and charming. So far he has been pooping and peeing on the futon in the spare room.

Yesterday, tired of spending time on my stomach under the stairs, I carried Cat (possibly named Emile) to the other end of the house where I and cats spend most of our time, waiting for spring and the contractor to finish the proper kitchen.
(I still sleep upstairs in my rather chilly bedroom and cats join me to watch bird feeder and glom cat treats.)

I was thinking he could live in the 3/4 bathroom, though it is the only one functioning on first floor, while learning the way of the kitty litter box. And he would be closer to the rest of us, becoming used to noises of life, NOT acting institutionalized with face squished into corner.

This may not have been a good decision. But he was not using the futon for the purposes for which it was intended (and he wasn't using the litter box at all).

He reacted to the bathroom as though he had at some time been put under the shower. There was a lot of reaction. The glass, but fortunately tempered glass, doors of the shower stall fell out of their frame and then the frame fell on my head, while Cat was using me as a place to kick off from in wild dashing around small bathroom. I do not blame him and the holes in my face are small. I am confident of putting the shower stall back together, which would be nice as upstair bathroom is only minimally heated these days.

Marten and Willow were not impressed.

He was under the couch in that room (the kitchenette/sitting room) when I went to bed. No one else fits under the couch. It would be nice if he used one of two litter boxes at hand. I am not looking forward to going down there but since it's not sunny today it's cold here and I am getting hungry.

Later: well. I thought he was under the couch.
Later yet: he is under the front porch. I went out to see the sun attempt to set and there he was. He was not going to be enticed inside, though. At least he is staying nearby.

He may be named Schroedinger.