Posts Tagged ‘jackson’

They are #cats. Really.

July 26, 2013

Last night I popped open an e-mail from somebody I’ve known for roughly 9 years.  We crossed paths in graduate school and I have, what I would have termed until yesterday, an extremely causal acquaintanceship with this person: meaning if we were at the same party, I’d go over and say hello but not much more that a superficial relationship at best.

“Hi.  I believe in honesty.  I just wanted to let me know that in light of the Trevon Martin decision, I found your link on FB to demonstrate latent racism on your part.  I’ve seen a few of your posts about your cat who you call ‘the world’s dumbest animal’ and now this link about another person referring to a black cat in the same manner.  This IS racism.  I’ve expressed my concerns to you before regarding the names of your animals.  Please consider these types of posts and naming of your animals going forwards.  In Christ’s Peace. . . . “

What. The. Hell.  Ok, get a grip you dumb ass New England Liberal, or more correctly, get your head OUT OF your ass.  Lafitte is a cat. (You know, 4 paws, whiskers, tries to catch birds/mice and meows).  He also is quite dumb.  Cute but dumb.

Jackson IS named after Andrew Jackson.  Yup, there are some aspects of the Jacksonian Era that are questionable, there are also some pretty good things (the start of the national banking system) and some quirky things (oh, big block of cheese, to the victor the spoils and that almost burning down of the White House thanks to a party). And depending on who you are, credit for starting the Democratic Party.  If you knew something about history, you’d get that Laffite was Jackson’s side-kick in the Battle of New Orleans securing the port during the War of 1812 (albeit after the war had ended).

But here is the thing: they are C-A-T-S named after (one could argue) moderately important figures and legends in early American history.  One is orange, one is black.  I had Lafitte’s named picked before I even saw him.  I got him because Jackson needed a side kick.

I’m not denying the very real racism that exists in this country: I’m not denying that as a person of European descent I do not fully grasp the complexities of racism (but when you want to chat with me about sexism, discrimination based on sexual orientation or disability, give me a call).

I am stating for the record, having a dumb black cat named after a pirate doesn’t making me a racist.  But sending me an e-mail telling me I’m one, and then signing your e-mail using religion only re-enforces my entrenched beliefs about over the top liberal idiocy regarding issues and the looking for oppression around every corner in and demanding an apology.

Not everything has a hidden agenda people.  Sometimes, you just name your pet after a few quirky personalities in history.  It’s not like I named him Mussolini.  Now *that* would have been offensive.

And for the record? The writer of the e-mail is a white, heterosexual male.  Not that it should make any difference.

2 nieces, 2 cats, 1 box. I quit. #catspam

May 22, 2013

I had one simple task today. . . . wrap birthday gifts, place in box and mail to twin nieces in Oklahoma.

I'll ignore the fact you want me out of the box.

I’ll ignore the fact you want me out of the box.

This is my box.  Try again.

This is my box. Try again.

Wow, look, a BOX!

Wow, look, a BOX!

Maybe Lauren will take me as a present so I can stay in the box?

Maybe Lauren will take me as a present so I can stay in the box?

An hour later. . . a cat free box with presents for 8 year olds.

An hour later. . . a cat free box with presents for 8 year olds.

And yet, while making the mailing label, I find this.

You really think I'm giving up this box?

You really think I’m giving up this box?

I remember now why I shop on-line.

Task: Also a 4 letter word

August 19, 2011

Days 4 & 5:

  • Simplify work tasks. Our work day is made up of an endless list of
    work tasks. If you simply try to knock off all the tasks on your to-do list,
    you’ll never get everything done, and worse yet, you’ll never get the important
    stuff done. Focus on the essential tasks and eliminate the rest. Read
  • Simplify home tasks. In that vein, think about all the stuff you do
    at home. Sometimes our home task list is just as long as our work list. And
    we’ll never get that done either. So focus on the most important, and try to
    find ways to eliminate the other tasks (automate, eliminate, delegate, or hire

So, this is one of those things where one I don’t have as much control as I’d like (ok, I’m a Type A control freak).  Since I am working as a temp, my work tasks are dependent on others.  I can’t be proactive using lull times to get ahead.  The sad thing is that I’ve become a the type of person who comes in, does her job and leaves.  Since I’m at the end of the totem pole, there I do what is assigned and moved on.  The sad reality of the not-in-a-recession-but-sure-looks-like-it economy.  Hey, I’m working, I have enough to pay my bills and put a bit aside, I’m not complaining.  I’ve just come to realize how much not being vested in an organization has made me disenfranchised with what I do day in and day out.

Simplify at home: oh the both sides of being single! To say I despise cleaning is a mild understatement.  Every fall, I do a massive purge.  This year, I have a hunch is going to be particularly ugly.  I have a few boxes that I haven’t unpacked: I moved to this condo in ’07. Um. I’ll make sure they aren’t things like old tax returns but something tells me they are going in the donation pile.

One of the challenges of tasks I need to simplify is my commitment to shopping locally owned as much as possible.  Yes, target is far more tempting given the fact it now has groceries.  However, I’ve found a different level of intention in shopping local (aside from the do I really need this):  chatting with the grocery store owner of the Brazilian market, having a random conversation about paint with a retired engineer at the hardware store.  Somehow, it has become less cumbersome being in the smaller places versus dodging shopping carts, reckless drivers and the general hassle of big box stores.

What are my big goals for my home this fall? Organize my guest room.  If I haven’t used it, touched it, thought about it in the past 2 years: it will be Ebayed, freecycled (maybe, that sorta creeps me out) or donated.  Then I’ll organize it into some sort of space, I haven’t decided yet (Jackson and Lafitte are angling for a kitty jungle).  The condo has been a giant to-do list for a myriad of reasons I’m not going to blog about: I’m finally ready to untangle the havoc.  Right now, I have the last 3 places I’ve lived sorta in a heap.  Ack.  It’s time to break out the calendar and map the next 8 weekends for the clean, purge, re-do plan!

Just exactly how do I spend my days? Day 3 of 72

August 17, 2011

So, for today:

Evaluate your time. How do you spend your day? What things do you do,
from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep? Make a list, and evaluate
whether they’re in line with your priorities. If not, eliminate the things that
aren’t, and focus on what’s important. Redesign your day.


This one is a bit of  a struggle.  Like many people, I have one immovable block of time: commute/work/commute.  Now, given the nature of my job, I never know if it will be an eight hour day or a twelve hour day.  While I can’t do much about that aspect of my day (for the moment), I can take opportunities in my day to do what I value.  I found myself making notes of what I actually need to get done so I had a plan when I came home: goal for the day, deal with the kitchen.  DONE. :)  I was waiting for a meeting to start and scribbled a letter to my oldest niece because we haven’t talked in a bit then dashed off a quick email to a college friend about some information I thought she might be interested in.  Little things like taking the 5 minutes to reconnect, build community.

I realized during my morning drive time that one of the stories on NPR was about the ice industry: ok, I never KNEW there was an ice industry and that it was struggling as many of them used to be local businesses but are having issues with the centralized purchasing systems of box retailers.  Interesting.  I mean, I guess I can say I never thought about the ice industry before 6:20 am.

I found myself making a to-do list.  I’m a horrific about procrastination.  I need that task list. It gives me goals.  I knew I had to deal with my kitchen, today it was easy to take care of.  Dishes done, canning supplies stacked for this weekend’s project.  It didn’t seem like such a huge chore once I simply had it on a list of things for me to do.  Instead of sitting here at 8:00 pm thinking “I need to do something”, I’ve managed to do everything I needed to do tonight in a non-frantic pace.  I’m not one of those “work in 15 minute increment” type individuals.

Weekdays will always be tight for me: I never know how long I have to work in a given day based on a project I’m involved with.  I know I’m gone usually 10 hours a day.  Somedays, it can stretch to 14.  For me, the struggle is finding that balance of using “short” days to do some of the chores I despise so when I have a day off, I can do what I enjoy.  I do know tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the week: CSA pick up day.  That will mean an evening of plotting and planning.  I’m very glad I found the bottom of the kitchen table!

Evaluating commitments: Day 2 of 72

August 16, 2011

Mine are pretty simple: work and cats.  My family is pretty flung out so most of my time with them is crammed around various holidays.  I’m single which in and of itself can be a push/pull.  There are days it is exhausting (hi, if I don’t get it done, it’s not going to get done – the cats are lazy like that), there are days it’s lonely, there are days it’s fantastic.  Being single can make it harder to find community (you don’t have that instant introduction of kid-things, a partner who is probably more social that you are).  Being single takes time: nobody to share the household chores.

When I think of what gives me value in my life at the moment? I’m into canning.  There is something relaxing about chopping, processing, making various food items.  I am having a blast going to local farms and finding the produce that I want to preserve.  It’s my de-stressor (having tried knitting, reading and a host of other activities).  I’ve found a fun community on Facebook over canning.  I am able to reduce my carbon foot print by canning/freezing items that are grown in a nearby radius of my home.

My job is one of those things: it is what it is.  I have been working temp for a year or so.  My commute depends on traffic and my hours vary from 8 to oh 14 hours a day.  While yes, working is a necessity and yes it can be stressful and busy, with the economy as it is, I’m grateful for my job.  What I’ve learned in working in a stressful environment is that it is necessary to find slices of respite in the day.  Years ago, I’d never take breaks at work.  Now, I do.  I find that time for a walk around the campus to clear my mind before returning to work.  I jot e-mails to people.  There have been a few times at work where I’ve had to say “No.”  (and wow, is that uncomfortable as a temp!).

As I balance the commute, being single, trying to not live in an episode of hoarders, and watching a tight budget, I’ve learned that it’s ok to scale back.  I find myself only offering to do something when I actually want to (this is a perk of child-free, I don’t feel obligated to doing a host of things for my kids, the cats are GOOD that way!) participate in the activity.  My dirty little secret is that I probably do have a selfish life.  Yes, I donate my time, cash, efforts when I *have* the means.  I should do more.  A place for further reflections, I am sure!

50 Random Things About Me. . . .

April 13, 2011

So, a friend of mine made a list of 100 non-negative statements about her … uh, yeah. I’m not that brave. So, here are 50 random nonnegative (unless we pick opposite sports teams) about me.

1) I love to travel. My must go to before I die list stands at India, back to China, SE Asia circuit, Trans-Siberian Rail, New Zealand and Australia. Winning the Lotto would help this addiction.

2) I’m a good cook. I’m a really good cook when I put my mind to it – pretty rare – but a good cook.

3) I can travel for 3 weeks including a laptop and CPAP in a backpack the size of a carry on.

4) The aforementioned backpack is the only piece of luggage I own.

5) I once got stuck in the Paris Metro gates with the backpack while on crutches after having my hip reconstructed. It was pretty funny.

6) I’m wildly sarcastic and sardonic. 

7) I have Halloween cats named Jackson and Lafitte.

8) I love college sports.  Doesn’t really matter the sport … there is something about the passion.

9) I have 8 friends who are published authors.

10) I’m terrified of the dentist.

11) I’ve had surgery 31 times (hence the blog name).

12) I’m on the fence about the Kindle or other such book readers. Something about the feel of paper.

13) I actually have written a real letter in the past year. And mailed it.

14) My shower curtain has dancing monkeys on it. Ok, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

15) I’m left-handed.

16) I totaled my car while moving cross-country.

17) I recycle.

18) I’m fiercely loyal to my friends … but if you cross me?

19) I vote in every election.

20) I believe in day baseball, the Cubs winning the World Series and Santa Claus. Well 2 of the 3.

21) I go to church, uh, once a year.

22) I try to remember that most things aren’t as important as we make them out to be.

23) I think Oreos and Diet Coke make a perfect dinner. 

24) Occasionally, I like to splash in the big puddles.

25) I prefer tea over coffee.

26) I read just about everything . . . except vampire and romance books. Which is odd because 2 of my friends have published books in those genres.

27) I’ll defend just about anybody’s right for free speech … even if I disagree with them.

28) Casablanca is my favorite movie.

29) I enjoy watching people … we can learn so much by just watching.

30) I’m not as outgoing as most people assume I am; I’m actually pretty reserved.

31) I’m allergic to shellfish.

32) I dyed my hair brown once … it turned out orange. Whoops.

33) I love my 3 nieces and 3 nephews more than anything else on this planet.

34) I love red wine.

35) My favorite item of clothing is my Ohio State hoodie … it replaced my GAP hoodie.

36) I try to laugh as much as possible.

37) I support as many local businesses as possible.

38) When I swim laps, I sing Bon Jovi in my head.

39) I am amazed at my friends and family who can parent, work and find time for themselves.

40) I try to remember my Grandmother’s favorite question “what did you learn today?”

41) I have had bone grafts from cadaver donors . . . I hope I can make the same choice if ever presented to me.

42) I once threw a pan away after a cooking experiment.

43) I have a bobble head Jesus and Moses action figure doll.

44) I’m a slightly rabid basketball fan.

45) My mother’s name is misspelled on my birth certificate.

46) Every year, I really think the Cubs are going to win the World Series. One year, I’ll be right!

47) When I play tennis, I sometimes switch hands with my racquet.

48) I’m afraid of ice storms.

49) I graduated from Hollins College.

50) I’m pretty sure peanut butter is the world’s most perfect food.

Ribbons, Wristbands and Avatars!

January 4, 2011

I have to say, that I’ve probably gotten into more than my “fair share” of arguments over the years.  99% of the time, it’s because I have zero interest in letting people make sweeping generalizations, proclaim from the mount that one way is the best way (unless you are talking about day baseball, then there IS only one way).  I will say, that by far, the most insipid argument I’ve been involved in is the changing of avatars on facebook, wearing “awareness” bands and other pretty mundane acts that individuals may do to promote awareness or a cause. Nobody can know a snowball/downhill impact of a gesture of somebody seeing a bumper sticker, an avatar, a bracelet and either speaking up or seeking help.

 One person suggested that there wasn’t “quantifiable data” to see if it works: My thought? If Susan G. Komen and the Pink Ribbon awareness campaigns were not around, how much money would be raised for breast cancer? How much early detection would be done? The “slacktivist” (and I despise that word) actions (based on perception) have roots in history from the song Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon (For Her Lover Who Is Fur, Fur Away) from 1917 but the origins of a yellow ribbon for a member in the armed forces traces back to the ENGLISH civil war.

Historically, I think of the red ribbon campaign early in the AIDS era, the pink ribbon for breast cancer, patches worn by teams to honor a fallen teammate or alum, the teal ribbon for awareness and simply wonder “what is wrong with just raising awareness?” Isn’t raising awareness activism in and of itself? And besides, why should *anybody* care if I opt to change a pick, wear a ribbon or wear a bracelet. The last time I checked, nobody made one for drug use, illiteracy or abuse.

The picture of Jackson has him modeling 2 bracelets made by a friend for her daughter: the daughter suffers from crippling migraines. The purpose of the bracelets? In part, to remind her that there are people who care, love and support her.  And, that is what part of being a human is all about! And we never know when a gesture, even simple, can help another person out.

The election and what we need to learn

November 4, 2010

I have a few addictions in my life: cooking, Farmville (shhh), and books. Lots of books on everything from travel to Pagan’s.  The true addiction in my life, however, is dissecting the political climate and if I remember, I try to do so with a sense of perspective.  There are given axioms that make some sense: all politics are local and people vote their pocketbook.  I had told myself that I wouldn’t go off on the mid-term elections, and I won’t.  There are races I agree with and ones I disagreed with the outcome.  There were ballot initiatives that cracked me up and ones that I found appalling. In short, it was a normal political season, at least, on the surface.

I’m tired. I’m tired of the hatred that was unleashed at a personal level on candidates, supporters of candidates and the insane amount of money that was spent while our country is in a deep non-recovery but not still a recession economy. Although the numbers might never be known, 4 BILLION dollars on ad buys, posters, events is quite simply insane.

4 BILLION dollars. That would pay for eight MILLION months of health care premiums for me. (Yup, I buy my own: $500 a month). Or $13.97 PER person in this country (308 million people). Not registered voters, not likely voters just PEOPLE. For what? Hate spewed rhetoric? Dividing the country further? If I could re-invent the election rules here is what I would do:

1) Real campaign finance reform. Yes, technically anybody should be able to spend their money how they want but reform the out of control spending like this: for every $1.00 you spend in political advertising, you must, by law, donate $5.00 into the area you are purchasing the media buy (robo calls, television, radio) for agencies such as the following: 1) Social service agencies addressing at risk populations 2) Public education PreK-12 3) Agencies addressing the needs of all members of the armed services/veterans 4) Agencies addressing hunger and 5) Agencies addressing renewal/revitalization of urban and rural areas.  The donations are done without recognition but are mandated and verified by the receiving 501(c)3 organizations documents.  Based on this year alone: that would be 20 billion dollars to our social service agencies and organizations that work towards improving the lives of those who have served us, our future and those in need.

2) Some offices are should never be elected. Judges and coroners should have a state based appointment systems with internal checks. Both professions require graduate training, skill and should be well above the political fray. I do not want somebody who has had to spend part of the 4 billion dollars to decide guilt or innocence or cause of death!

3) Our election system has become like the never-ending NBA and NHL seasons. We are roughly 730 days from the next general election. We need to adapt an election calendar: six weeks before the general election there is a primary. All 50 states on the same day. The top 3 in each position run six weeks later in the general election. The primary by party goes away: very simply everybody can vote for their top 3 choices and then those move on in that state for statewide and Congressional offices. The top 3 for president nationally move on. No more “who is around after New Hampshire/South Carolina” madness.  No election ads, special interest ads until one month before the first round. Consolidate the election season into 10 weeks: less than summer vacation.

4) An end to the bulk mailing rates for political mail.

People should continue to work for the candidates of their choice. There is nothing wrong with ringing door bells, holding signs and urging people to get out the vote. There is something wrong being told one person is less patriotic than another because he/she does not share your political beliefs.

Andrew Jackson, certainly a far cry from a perfect President, did not join the Presbyterian church until close to his death. The reason? Before the minister would allow him to join he told Jackson that he must forgive his enemies. Jackson struggled with this: he could forgive those who opposed him in war as that was their duty. But Jackson struggled with forgiving those who launched personal attacks on his family and himself in the political arena. He did not see a need for it. Eventually, Jackson forgave those who attacked his family and joined the church. Personal hatred in politics is not new: maybe it’s time we end it.

We have the privilege to vote at so many levels: to engage in the process. There is nothing wrong with a civil discussion on differences. There is everything to be gained by compromise. Nobody won on Tuesday. We all just woke up to a few brief weeks of respite before the primary season starts. That is, if they finish counting the votes by then.

Butternut squash and my addiction

November 3, 2010

Ok. I have this THING for butternut squash. As in I love it. Fortunately, It’s not horrific for you (well, actually pretty good for you). Butternut squash is my temptress in the fall. I can’t pass it in the farmers market. I know. I’m a freak. I’ve been playing around with ideas on how to creatively cook up the latest squash to invade my condo (and hence, save my 2 loyal readers my post-election tirade) and came up with the following. It’s pretty good. And yes, I’m biased.

Savory Butternut Squash


Everything used (save the olive oil and brown sugar) are locally farmed from New England/Upstate New York and purchased from small businesses.

Pre-heat oven to 350. Cut butternut squash in half. Remove seeds. Depending on size of squash cut in half again. Brush lightly with olive oil. Cooking time will vary on size of squash but no longer than 45 minutes. Remove and let cool. Fry bacon. Cool. Cut/tear into pieces. Skin squash. Cut into chunks. Gently fold in rosemary, and 1/2 of cheese, brown sugar and bacon. Place in a single layer on a 9×12 baking dish Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cook at 350 until warm and cheese is melted and heated thru. Approximately 15 minutes.

It even ranked 8 paws. Which at this zoo, is pretty good!

The Naming Controversy

June 19, 2010

Thinking deep thoughtsTo appreciate my affinity for Andrew Jackson, one has to go back to my sophomore year at Hollins College.  I enrolled in a course entitled England to 1688 taught by somebody who we were all pretty sure was a pirate in a former life (and shall remain nameless for reasons of privacy).  During a meandering period of the discussion of the history of tequila, he asked do you know how the saying “to the victor the spoils came about?” and the nine or so of us gave glazed over looks and we were told tales of Andrew Jackson, a wild inauguration party complete with a pig being thrown out onto the lawn of the White House to prevent the party goers from burning the place down and rumors of shots being fired IN the building itself.  Now, who knows how much of this is true or not (mind you, this is the same professor who’s famous first words to his son were “I’m sorry to tell you Ronald Regan is president) but the story of a president who could throw a party stuck with me (now about England to 1688, I remember something about Ethelred the Unready, a classmates purple coat and being off topic most of the semester!).

A decade or so later, The West Wing had their infamous block of cheese episodes which aired during the first two seasons.  Andrew Jackson allegedly had a block of cheese for people to eat while waiting to speak to the President about concerns because it was the “peoples” house. I became fascinated with the guy on the $20 bill.  I knew he was the first president not from one of the original 13.  His family home was outside of Nashville and he gave the state its nickname: the Volunteer State when saying he didn’t need a full army, just a few good volunteers from the state of Tennessee.  He didn’t join the Presbyterian Church until shortly before his death: he struggled with forgiveness in political and personal  attacks.  His writings indicate that he could forgive actions on a battlefield because one follows the lead of command: a valuable lesson perhaps we all should continue to remember.  He was not a saint: the Trail of Tears is a sore reminder.  He was a character – the first maverick to probably hold the office.  He had a biting sense humor: when called a jackass, he used it as his motto.  Seen as the founder of the Democratic Party, the Donkey, in part, remains its symbol in honor to Jackson.

So, when I went to adopt cat number one in Colorado, I wound up with this long, lean orange-ish creature who totally has opinions.  He was a Jackson.  When I moved to Massachusetts, I became peppered with questions: WHO was Jackson named for? Ok, let me be clear: this is a CAT. MEOW. Jackson Pollack? Michael Jackson? Uh, no. Andrew Jackson. It was a whip around you killed Bambi’s mother moment.  He KILLED the Native Americans.  ( Now, in fair disclosure, I did have fish in college named Marx and Lenin) Ok. He’s a cat? He also did some good things? And there is historical context. And, well, it was after a TV show, a biography, a professor.

And I stopped. My mother’s family is CHEROKEE! Andrew Jackson was a prisoner of war! I was engaging lunacy over how I named my cat. Never mind that in the early 19th century, women, non-property holders and a host of others couldn’t vote.  My cat was named for one of the early characters in American history.  And his brother? Well, he was named for his Jimmy Buffet side kick pirate/privateer.  And between them? They re-enact the Battle of New Orleans at 4:30 am most mornings.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.