Thursday, August 28, 2008

abruptly august

Well, well, I see that my July blogging streak ended with a whimper. Much as I detest love NaBloPoMo, it seems in many ways it is the kiss of death. Despite my best intentions, my enthusiasm always fades and usually I spend the following month in recovery. August was no exception, apparently. Still, I think more than an entire month off might be a record.

What's worse is I was unknowingly inspiring another NaBloPoMo rebellion over at Random Thoughts. Ironically, while I was justifying my own radio silence by MerryME's unscheduled vacation, she was doing the same with mine. A couple of emails and one hurricane later and we have finally broken the stalemate. Only, I think I tricked her into posting as I left this in draft mode for another week or so. Sorry about that.

You know, I've never been too productive during August anyway. The only month without a holiday (except dorky ones like National Tooth Fairy Day - which you can apparently celebrate on February 28th, anyway), August seems to exude laziness itself. Come to think of it, perhaps my hiatus was simply European. After all, don't the Italians take the entire month off for vacation? So see, I am actually back a few days early. Whew. I feel much better now.

Anyhow, you really haven't missed that much. The most notable thing I can come up with is that my mom was featured in her local paper thanks to the craftiness of my brother Billy and our Cuzen Bob. The actual spread was way cooler than the on-line version - it was the entire section front with a teaser on A-1. I wonder if newspapers make their on-line counterparts so woefully inferior on purpose, to avoid competing with themselves, or if they all just suck at it because they are new to the business? I suppose if I still had a job or even bothered to keep up with my old work friends I would know for sure.

Other newsworthy events include the fact that I have finally been able to pet the dreaded Ratty Catty without being rewarded with urine. His rules are pretty strict - primarily he prefers to be pet before breakfast or in the office, but then only if Monkey is around. But of course I am testing the boundaries. So far I have found I can pick him up briefly and he won't pee, but he will squirm and hide under the bathtub later. I've even held him in my lap once - but that was clearly a major violation of trust for which I got the claws. Oh, and if I try to touch his scabby knee - all bets are off. He turns on the attitude and shreds my hand like it is a cat toy. It's pretty funny to be scared of a 6 pound cat. Reminds me quite a bit of the winter of fur seals. It also means Ratty has some potential to be a real kitty someday.

In the meanwhile, Monkey has been actively trying to train his pet on the proper cat behavior. He comes to me when called and submits to snuggles and inspections. Here you can see Monkey introducing Ratty to the joys of napping in the laundry. (You can also see the look of disdain Ratty gives me constantly.) At least this was a load that was already dirty. Ratty's not allowed near the clean laundry anymore as it seems he likes to pee on it. In fact, we've been on pretty serious lock down since the last time Ratty soiled the bed. Oh, and my theory that I could keep him out of it with the Scat Mat? Scrapped. OC was the unwitting test subject on my set up. Turns out a cat who is shocked on the edge of the bed will not jump to the floor but will seek respite deeper in the bed - up by the pillows and such. I had thought for a while that the Scat Mat had maybe earned its keep by shooing Ratty off the couch, but seeing how high OC jumped when shocked, I think maybe Ratty jumped down on his own, before connecting two wires.

I am way behind with my seal stories (I think I owe June and July - I only hope I can reconstruct them), but so far in August you have missed precious little. I really only have one significant seal saga. It involves this little sea lion who got a fish hook in her throat. We know this as we could see, at least until she swallowed it, the fishing line coming out of her mouth. She also had an ugly abscess on her hind end which she acquired after something bit her bum and her girlie parts. Anyway, as you can see, she had a fondness for hanging out with the big boys. I don't blame her - they are quite sexy after all - but it made it much harder to get a good shot at her. Sadly, I blew the best shot of all - she was alone, about four feet closer to the edge than in this picture. My approach was fabulous, prolonged and subtle, by I was carrying the heavy net (not my fabulous lucky lightweight net) and I just didn't have enough strength to get ahead of her. In the following weeks I did my penance by doggedly stalking the dock and calling her in to others. It took 3 weeks and countless other attempts, but she finally turned up in a different location (on some rocks deeper into the harbor) and a pal of mine picked her up. He is, of course, officially my hero now. He named our girl Weston, after a friend who was visiting from out of town.

Anyway, here's a close up of the fishing line (see it coming from the left side of her mouth and then up to the center of her chest?).

And here she is in captivity. I'm pretty sure the knot on the right side of her neck is where the hook is working its way through.

Now I am trying not to obsess on two other sea lions I've seen lately. One was a big girl who started hanging on the same dock as Weston. That gal has a prolapse uterus (usually cancer, almost certainly fatal). I went trolling for her a few times, but I haven't seen her at all since Friday. Her condition was so advanced that I'm pretty sure she's found her way across the rainbow bridge on her own by now.

The other is a yearling who hangs on a tiny private dock. The neighbors' kid named him "Okie Badokie". Well, I'm kinda thinking he's Okie Dokie, cuz I had him halfway in my net (my lucky net) a couple times and he had the gumption to get away twice. Not that my dock rescue skills are impeccable, but it takes some energy to maneuver as he did. And the neighbors haven't called again, so I assume he moved on (as a healthy seal would after such harassment).

No, I have plenty to obsess upon right now as it is. Application season starts in just a few days which means I have a handful of essays to finish up and a resume to polish off. As a result, I've been catching up on my housework (and now my blogging). I have gotten one key essay done - the dreaded Yale 250 - and I actually love love love it. It makes me feel like I might actually have half a chance of admission now - it's that good. I only wish more things in life were determined by standardized tests and essay questions - except, of course, I know how meaningless and biased they are.

Anyhow, by now it is old news (literally, it's in the dump), but I finally uploaded photos of that fort that Kevin and I built for the nieces. Here it was in its glory days.

The fort: complete with removable pirate flag, very fancy "Beware of" sign (with lots of things to choose from - pirates, monster, mom, dad, Savannah, Maddie...), and the permanently mounted "No Boys Allowed" notice. The stained "glass" window flaps open, the door locks with a key, and the stuff on top of the fort is the roll-away roof for the courtyard area.

Here's a close up of the front door.

Another of the flag and roll up roof.

This is the spacious interior - room for all three niecelets and their anti.

And here's the other stained wax paper window.

In the courtyard they had a built in cabinet (which helped hold up the roof). Maddie immediately decided it was the perfect place to store her binkies (pacifiers).

Here's what we stashed inside before the binkies got there - two telescopes, a doll they already owned, and the first clue to the treasure hunt.

The clue took them to the coy pond.

Where they found a message in a bottle (inspired, perhaps, by the Police concert we'd just seen?). I was so thrilled that Kevin has a taste for Maker's Mark (as I now do, too, thanks Wendy). It was so superior to the wine bottle we'd been working with...

Anyway, the map led them around the yard to this table where, X marks the spot.

Here the final clue told them to look up.

Where they found the "treasure" which was really just a couple of Happy Bunny books I bought them, the aforementioned vomit flavored jelly beans, and some coins from Kevin's dresser. He was made I included real money - he'd tossed in his foreign coins and other things that "look like money." When Savannah asked why there was a button in the treasure, I explained the logic and she replied, "Uncle Kevin is an idiot."

Ah, the thanks we get.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

for bony

Because hotmail can't handle it, here is a video I shot this spring of Mandella during her rescue: