Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas Memory

My favorite Christmas photo, Tori on the beach at Vincent T. Mason Coral Reef Park, just south of Frederiksted on St. Croix. This was taken on Christmas Even, 2008. It explains why, despite the problems that have beset the island and the idiosyncrasies of island living, we miss the V.I. and why we DON'T miss snow. At all.

Merry Christmas to All!

From the Baurs of the Big Easy

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

We're Sending a Little One Out in the World for Christmas

Tori volunteers for a spay and neuter center in town, and about six weeks ago she brought home Jane, a kitten we were going to foster. Everyone thought, "Oho! You're in for it now John. You've got a cat."

No, no I don't. This is better.

Jane Austen
Tori named her Jane Austen, although you know about cat names. No matter what we think a cat's name is, we're wrong. She was about 8 ounces of fluff and orange dryer lint. She'd been found on a path in a swamp, so she was kind of scruffy, but a cute little thing.

Over the next three weeks we fed her and fattened her up, took her in for her shots and neutering, played with her, medicated her eye infection, shared the computer with her (she loved to jump up on the keyboard and "help" me write,) cleared up her ear mites, and took her back so that someone could adopt her.

That same day Tori came home with another kitten, Lucy. Hard to describe her – not quite black fur, because she has this sort of peachy/orange undercoat, and a peach streak that runs down the right side of her nose which gives it an odd effect. I'd have named her Schnoz, or Durante, if anyone had asked me, which they didn't.

We were told she needed some discipline, she was unruly, attacked and bit and was unsociable. Goodie. She had been found as a kitten on a boat, and was not at all happy with the change in accommodations.

When she came in, she was naturally skittish, and a little bitey, as kittens will be. But within a few hours she was out and exploring.

She turns out to be the sweetest kitten I've ever seen. I'm not a cat-fan, so I may not be the best judge, but she's pretty sweet. Except when she's doing the manic-kitten-running-around-the-house routine, which she does for about half an hour in the morning and again in the afternoon, all she wants is for you to hold her while she purrs. If you sit on the couch or recliner, she'll end up on your lap – well no, not your lap. She starts there, then works her way up until she has her head wedged under your jaw – and just purrs for the next hour or so.

So last week Jane got adopted, but the family doesn't want to pick her up until Christmas Eve. The spay center needs the space, and she's awfully cute so people kept asking if they could adopt her. The center asked Tori is she could come back here.

I took Lucy down and swapped her out for Jane. Lucy was not happy, growling as I put her in her cage – which was clean and full of food and kitty litter. I brought Jane home and she acted as if she'd never left.

The next day the center called and said Lucy was having trouble, she flat out hated everything about being there, hissed and howled and wouldn't let anyone touch her. So she came back here.

At first she and Jane hated each other. There was much howling and growling and stalking and hiding, staking out territory. That lasted about three hours. Now they get along fine, chase each other playfully, share the various toys and food bowls. Their favorite thing to do is wait until Tori sits on the recliner, then both jump into her lap and spend the next hour sleeping on her. They've done it to me too, but Tori's their favorite.

But now it's Christmas Eve. Time for Jane to go to her new home. It's a family with two little girls who will love her, and name her Mittens or Muffin or Whiskers or something, and have tea parties with her and all that stuff. She'll be a happy cat.

Lucy is more problematic. We've put her up on the spay center's Facebook page, because she just can't abide the center. Hopefully we'll be able to get her adopted that way. All she needs is a place where she's comfortable and she'll be the sweetest cat you'd ever want. So we live in hope.

We like the idea of fostering kittens for a few weeks, helping them get acclimated and find a home. That way we get all the fun of a kitten without having the long-term commitment of a "cat" and all that entails.

We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Just a Quick Question

Oh pressure cooker! Where have you been all my adult life?

I've also acquired a Crock Pot. (An actual Rival Crock Pot, not just a slow cooker.) I know I've had them before, but I can't remember ever cooking in one. What a handy gadget.

But the pressure cooker – Ye gods!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Catching Up for the Holidays

Catching up. I had a cold all week, which just messed me up.

Been thinking about old friends and good times, and a lot of epic Thanksgivings from years past. During the '90s and into the new century we always took part in what we called "the theater orphans' Thanksgiving." Our friends in Oregon were almost all theater folk, and we'd get 16, 18, 24 people over for the day. Everyone would bring the one thing without which it wouldn't be Thanksgiving. We'd do a turkey, and usually there'd be another one, plus someone often brought ham. Mashed potatoes and yams and bread and Pat always brought "the pink stuff," this frozen cranberry horseradish dish. It was always a good time.

And there were pies. Many, many pies. Tori turned the day before Thanksgiving into Pie Day. One year she made 18. She never made less than a dozen. Pumpkin and apple and cherry and a couple of pecans and even mince meat. Her mother, Janet, loved mince meat pie. I never saw anyone else eat that one.

Alex was always an integral part of Pie Day. It would have been hard not to think of her a lot that Wednesday, even if it weren't her birthday.

We still do Pie Day, but this year only four pies – and they were great as always. Our young friend Alan, who was Millie's friend on the island and now lives in San Antonio, came to visit for the day and it was great to see him. Dinner was the usual delight, and the pies were plentiful. I ate too much, as always.

That Saturday we went to the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. It's probably been 40 years since I've been to a Ren Fair. A lot of fun. The kids had a great time. Within an hour of arriving, Kate, who doesn't like going out much, was already talking about how next year she'd have to dress up. I could have gone in pirate garb, but this time I was just there as "Dad," and dressed appropriately.

We saw a comic swordfight team, TheDuelists, and they were very good. The sword stuff, sure, that was fun. But the patter, the stage presence, and timing – brilliant. I enjoy watching pros, and that's what these guys are. They travel from Ren fair to Ren fair,and they know what works, know how to play a crowd. I learned from watching them. We could do an act much better than the Pirate Guy schtick. Just takes practice and being willing to try new stuff.

There was jousting, I suppose that's a standard at these. It was a LOT of fun to watch. We ran into the Whiskey Bay Rovers, old friends from when we went to Mardi Gras with the Krewe of Pirates. They didn't recognize me in my dad costume, but smiled with recognition when I introduced myself. You can hear them here doing "Leaving of Liverpool."

Alan, who is both a computer nerd and a geek, was very helpful Sunday as we searched for Max's Christmas gift. No more on that, since there's the slightest chance Max might actually read this.

And then I took Alan to the airport, we started our regular routine again – just three weeks 'til school is out for the holidays, and I got sick. Not bad sick, just a cold that refused to go away. For most of the week if I wasn't actually writing or editing for the Source, I was asleep or wishing I was asleep. Today is the first day I feel really almost like myself again.

Tori and Max are sure eager for a couple of weeks off from school. And I have some plans for the new year, and I'm eager to get going on a couple of new projects.