Monday, June 26, 2017

Highland Park Improvement Club Book Swap

The summer reading program at out local elementary school needed books, and the local civic organization (the Highland Park Improvement Club) stepped up with a book swap Sunday. One of the organizers asked if I'd bring some books - both children's books for the youths and adult books for their parents - prompted no doubt by the Little Free Library I host in my front yard.
I am clearing out the detritus of years, which includes a lot of stock for culling and resale that never made it into the listing process. Amazon's rates have increased to the point that formerly marginal books are losers, and my finding a regularly paying job means that time spent on slightly profitable books is a loss. Even the time culling is a loss since the profit from the whole enterprise at this point approaches nil.
I took six or eight boxes to HPIC and boy were they surprised! Looking back, I see that they expected five or ten, maybe twenty books, and what they got  was literally half the stock they had to swap. I made sure to ask if they wanted help cleaning up if it didn't all get distributed, and they assured me that they would take care of it. They may have a small lending library at HPIC now, haha!
I chose not to tell them of the other 3 boxes in the trunk, which I had earmarked for the VA Hospital Lending library. Instead, I drove over there and put them in, and then treated myself to stopping by Pegasus Book Exchange and hanging out. There's always a good conversation and plenty to read!
The end result of the day is that I clear out ten or more boxes, not counting the recycling. I have much left to do on the house but at least I have a method now.
I am currently collecting and reviewing bids for the heating system. I have an acceptable bid but I feel that I ought to get a couple more just to be meticulous. I am having to weigh the raw price against the fuzzy notion of service. If there was an easy answer, I would already have it, but I do have the comfort of knowing that I already have an acceptable answer - I am merely trying to do better!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Chesterfield Watching Over Me, Or Behind Me Anyway

Ever get the feeling someone is watching you?


I love this photo, but it's a total setup. The way to get a picture of a cat looking at you is to stand where the cat is looking. I love this cat but he's not quick - or maybe he has his own interests.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day To Me: Thanks, Ladies!

Father's Day is complex this year. My father passed on decades ago, and with the passage of time his sacrifices become more clear. Thank you. Among my friends and family there are many fathers- to you all, congratulations, your children are remarkable! I am happy to be their uncle and I thank you for making it possible.
And then there's this: my housemates (in the mother-in-law apartment) are the daughter of my first ex-wife and her own wife. What to call our relationship?
I resisted adopting a fatherly role, because the way my father modeled was to be in charge all the time: to make the decisions, to issue orders, to expect followership, and to be unhappy if a child disagreed. Neither he nor I understood any other way to be a father, and I knew d@mn well this would not work with these two fully adult and capable young women. Instead, we went with "Big brother". 
Elder brother is a fun role. We would meet in the kitchen to share joy in success, pride in achievement, concern over problems, and joint solutions to getting through this thing called life, whatever that may be. In the nature of things, I'm almost 40 years older so, although not inherently wiser, I have had so many more experiences that usually I can usually come up with a solution or at least cryptic advice. I can also pass on to them some of the material help I had gotten from past father figures who had supported me in ways I'm only now understanding (lookin' at you, John Cole!) I appreciate that this is not the same as walking a colicky baby at 3AM. Most parents have done much more than I (I don't deny that), and yet I should not minimize that my support has been helpful.
And today: I must report that the ladies have thanked me for being a dad figure to them. 
What a surprise! What a joy! My heart melts with gladness just thinking of it. It is an entirely new class of happiness that I had not expected. They are wonderful young people who have always justified my faith in them, and this is a reward beyond rewards!
What is fatherhood? Beyond the simple and meaningless bio-definition, it seems to have something to do with loving and with responsibility and with not being a jerk. The details beyond that we have have to work out on an ad hoc basis, because each person in an individual with their own peculiarities. In our case, the fatherhood/daughtershood thing is peculiar cubed. And we like it that way!
So on this Father's Day let me thank you, young ladies, for the chance to be a father figure for you makes me happy and proud!

So This Is My Zibaldone ....

... before blogs: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-to-keep-a-zibaldone-a-13thcentury-answer-to-tumblr

Monday, June 12, 2017

In Which Arthur Was Really Pissed

The other day I texted Kris to ask whether she would be interested in any of the furniture that I was moving out. There are several pieces that were pretty cool while we were married, but that I use only for accumulating piles of stuff, and my life would be better with an empty space where they once were, and eventually something more appropriate.
She was eager. The Chinese cabinet, the rice chest, the kitchen table and chairs, and above all the vintage chaise lounge were of interest.
In a world ruled by economically rational self-interest I would consign these items and be done with it. Perhaps I still shall, for I owe Kris nothing. But I knew that she valued them once and I felt better making the offer. We're never entirely rational.
Kris accepted gratefully, and asked if she could come over to take measurements. When she arrived, I was exercising Arthur outside on his leash. She spoke, and Arthur hissed. He stared at her, growled, and then ran for the door. I let him in, removed his leash, and then discussed the furniture with Kris. Arthur was still angry. After all the measurements were taken, we sat in the kitchen and discussed when to pick up the items. Arthur went in the corner, raised his tail, and pissed.
I could not be angry at him; his emotions were sincere.
Kris and I went to get a pizza at Proletariat as we had so many times before. While our conversation reminded me why we had been friends, it also reminded me that our conversations ultimately became boring. She complains, and expresses joy very little. She paid for the pizza, which was only fair considering the furniture, and she had brought over some cake for me to enjoy, and she offered to clean the carpet (...in retrospect, she wants the carpet and that she shall never have...) but ultimately it was a conversation that was pretty much nothing.
Kris had her own reasons for going her own way, and this conversation confirmed what I had decided after dancing on the matter: I don't want her back. She's not very interesting.
The furniture will soon be gone and that will leave room from potential.
After she left, I took some recycling out and Arthur made a sprint for the door. We walked into the front yard and took a long, long piss. When he was done, I took him inside and we agreed it was better now.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Closing Argument: Hearing on the Charge that Randy is a Crazy Cat Person



Ladies and gentlemen of the jury ….

I submit that I am not a crazy cat person. I admit that I have more cats than ex-wives ( and I have a lot of ex-wives ), but I am innocent victim of circumstance. Consider:

When I bought my house, I was determined to have no cat.
A cat must poop indoors or outdoors.
If indoors, there is the catbox - not my favorite thing. 
If outdoors, the cat kills birds. Outside cats die sooner, what with coyotes and cars and feline leukemia, contracted by contact with other cats.

1. My firm determination lasted a solid three months. One spring day a hungry young pink-nosed tabby marched through an open door bawling boldly she had no fear of humans so feed me now! She inhaled a can of tuna hardly stopping for air, and when she looked up I felt like the Grinch at the end of the Christmas special - I actually felt my heart grow two sizes.
I got a catbox.

2. Imp I named her. She Is a perfect delight but for one thing: she wants to play all the time. I must go work, so Imp needs a playmate.
I went to the Furry Faces Foundation at the Alaska Junction to see their a wall of cats, each more worthy than the next. Two in the same cage stood out: Michelle and Shadow.
Michelle is a miniature milk cow, just furry: white with black splotches, large, bony, placid.

3. Shadow is a pleasant middle-aged tabby, with an expression of perpetual worry. Ordinary toys she ignored - fur mice or lasers - sunlight refleZcted by a mirror is catnip to her. I dithered: which would be better with Imp? The adoption counselor spoke up: they are best friends and never apart. This was a ploy. It worked. I brought both home. The Feline Trinity: Michelle the bossy, Shadow the worrier and Imp the hyperactive made a happy family.

4. Last year the humans reshuffled living arrangements. Michelle moved out with the ex ( which was for the best: they were very attached.) Moving in with my sister-in-law and her spouse came three cats: Ginny, Chesterfield, and the mysterious Gandalf.

5. Ginny is a small spunky woman cat with big hair and a personalty to match. She’s the diva, the dancing queen, the center of attention and if she’s not the center of attention she’ll push something over. It’s all about her.

6. Chesterfield is a large galumphing adolescent, a tall redhaired boy in a crewcut, the sort whose body grew faster than his brain, so it rattles in his skull a little bit. He is always pleasant, never hissy and he likes sports. If he occasionally crashes into things it’s because just forgets where his legs are; he has no malice.

7. The third new cat is the mysterious Gandalf, a midnight black shorthair who silently appears, looks around, and seems to evaporate although I know that’s not possible. The ladies assure me that Gandalf is very verbal with them, but I have never heard him make a sound. Perhaps he has nothing to say to me.

8. With those three new cats we were a stable household of eight souls and would be that way today but for a graduation requirement of Nessa, my sister-in-law. For her final vet tech program project, she selected Arthur, an elderly grey with hip, thyroid and eye problems. His owners could not afford his treatment and continuing medication. In the old days he would simply have been put down but this is 2017. We found him a home: ours.

It is easy but mistaken to define a person by their disabilities, whether human or feline. If I told you Arthur has one eye, a bad hip and chronic anxiety you might think you knew him, but you don’t. Arthur is affectionate and playful and loves to explore the neighborhood on a leash (He would prefer to explore on his own, but: car-coyotes-leukemia.) He and I are the old men of the house; we look after each other and the youngsters.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: now you have the facts. I ask you:
* Would you have done any differently?
* Is this madness, or is it fate?
* Am I crazy cat person or merely fortunate in my feline friends?
Find me innocent - maybe a little too innocent.

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Late afternoon Tuesday I signed the paperwork for refinancing my home. This is an great improvement in my situation, as I was legally required to get Kris off the mortgage by the end of the year and I was dreading having to fight over that. Also in the refi process I was able to bundle my high-interest student loans into a lower, secured loan, representing an improvement in my cash flow. Finally, I'm taking some of the equity out so I can upgrade the heating system at my leisure over the summer, rather than in a hurry in the winter. Life is good!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Earthquake Strapping!

Today's project was Earthquake Strapping!
 It sounds really butch but is just some metal bands stuck to the wall. Since the wall was concrete I got to play with an especially special special drill, then figure out how to insert the fasteners with no room to swing a hammer. ( I went to screws for the last couple of attachments - the rachet was easier.)