Pick me ups

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Some mornings, you just need a pick me up (or two). Luckily, we have the Internets. My personal pick me up predilection? Dogs adopting other animals.

daschund and piggie
Dachshund Adopts Piglet

boxer and goat
Boxer Adopts Goat

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Letter to My Body

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So that post of SJ's I linked to a few days ago? Turns out that is part of a larger project, via BlogHer, started by Suzanne Reisman two weeks ago. It's a hard thing to ask a woman to do, I think, writing a letter to her body. But 89 women have done it so far, according to the blog roll from that post, so I think I can suck it up and give it a try.

Dear Body,

I would really like to write you the kind of letter I see other women writing to their bodies, full of insight and humor, apologies for past abuses and forgiveness. But I am not there yet. Body, I am still angry at you.

I have all of these expectations, and you persistently refuse to fulfill them. I expect to be able to eat what I want, not exercise, and have you stay the same size, but you don't. I expect that you'll allow me to breathe easily through all 12 months of the year, but you don't. I expect to be able to come to work and function properly every day, but as often as not you get sick and I have to pay the price. I'm sick of it. I want you to do what I tell you to do! I'm the boss here, not you!

Most of what you do to me I could forgive you for, or find a way to blame on myself. The weight gain, the worsening skin, even the constant demands for sleep and inability to tolerate red wine appropriately. But what is absolutely your fault and not mine, and unforgivable, is that you are allergic to everything. Every tree, every plant, every mold, every animal, every dust spore. Of all of the ways in which you have let me down, this is the most intolerable. You demand ever increasing pills, sprays, and tricks just to allow me to go on moving through my days. It is expensive, it is inconvenient, and it is completely and totally unfair.

I know you think I should be thanking you for the positive things you do for me--for being able to walk around, to see and smell and hear and touch, but I'm just not in the mood. You're doing a sub-par job and I am sick of it. If I had any other candidates for your position, I would fire you.

Irritatedly yours,

Grace

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Writing with prompts

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Do you ever use writing prompts? I've used them before, in creative writing, and in journaling a little bit, but not too much here on the blog. However, I'm drawing a lot of blog fodder blanks recently, and feeling like I am filling in with a lot of what amounts to bullshit, so I'm going to try using some prompts to get back on track. The first prompter I found was Imagination Prompt Generator, so I'm using that for now, but I'm sure there are a thousand available.

So, some prompted writing.

Prompt 1:

I don't know what I think happens when we die. I wish I did know, or at least had some sort of inclination. I think living would be easier, especially the part of living that entails watching people and animals you love die. I don't harbor a particular fear of non-existence for myself, but I do harbor a fear of not seeing those I love again.

As far as the accepted theories go, I think reincarnation makes more sense to me than heaven does. The idea that this brief span of years we live is all we have to do, our entire journey, doesn't seem totally likely to me. But again I don't know how to separate what I hope is true from what I actually think is true. The bottom line with me on this one, as with any religious question, really, is that I don't know, I don't see how I could know, and I find it frustrating to think about.

Prompt 2:

If I have to bring food to a party, I usually err on the side of dessert. This is both because desserts are so often met with oohs and aahs and because I am a far better baker than I am cook.

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Ashtanga

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I am currently trying to (re)commit to yoga. I think I need it, both for my body and for my mind, and there is a very nice studio very close to my house. So, on Saturday, I took a beginner's Hatha class, which was good, not too stressful, and included a minimum of balancing postures, which I appreciated. Then, last night, I went again, with the intention of trying a beginner's Kundalini class. But I made a scheduling mistake and ending up in a beginner's Ashtanga class instead.

Briefly, Ashtanga uses the same postures as regular Hatha (the ones with which you're probably familiar, even if you don't do yoga), but always in the same sequence, without stopping, and with a focus on a specific style of breathing and "locks," or muscle contractions, in specific areas of the body (most notably, the perenium), to generate internal heat. It's not the one where the room is heated--that's Birkram--but the room isn't at all chilly and gets very warm before the session is done.

It was hard, y'all. No lie. I am in lousy shape, and it was difficult. Just the first sequence of sun salutations had me red-faced with horrible cramps in my feet, and I woke up to unseasonable cold this morning feeling like I'd pulled every muscle between my knees and my neck. But it's good, I think. I felt great when I was finished, and almost immediately starting looking for the next class I could schedule. I'd love to be able to stick with for long enough to improve, to see and feel change. No promises, but I am certainly going to try.

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NaBloPoMo: March version

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So there's good news.

1. Eden has taken NaBloPoMo monthly.
2. There are themes.
3. March's theme is lists.

So the idea, then, is to post a list every day for the entire month of March.

I could not possibly be more in.

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Etsy round-up

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For reasons I will disclose in a later post (possibly even later today), I have been poking around Etsy a lot recently. And, of course, I've come up with no fewer than a zillion things I want. But I'm not gonna buy them. For real. I'm not. Instead, I'm going to share them with you.

cup cuddlerA fantastically named store, GracieDesigns, has lots of super-cool fabric products I am coveting, but none more than the cup cuddlers. The one shown here, in "At the Spa" pattern, is my favorite, but there are lots to choose from. At $6 each plus $2.50 U.S. shipping, it's not too spendy, either. Cute Easter basket addition for a coffee lover?

caughtredhanded pendantcaughtredhanded sells fabulous resin pendants and other lovelies. I can't pick just one as a favorite, but the pink teardrop shaped one shown here surely is lovely. It even comes in its own little tin (but with no neck cord, so be forewarned) for $12 plus $3 shipping.

gift tagselfrida makes gorgeous patterned gift tags. As well as the spring green shown here, they are also available in yellow, pink, red, powder blue, khaki, and brown. For $3.50 plus $1.25 shipping, you get 18 tags. Each is a 2" card stock circle with a small hole already punched in it. I'd love to put these on packages.

egg beater printI really want a print from studio mela. The one pictured here is called "I Love Your Egg Beaters," and it would be so great in my kitchen. She's also got "I Love Your Forks," "I Love Your Spoons," and "I Love Your Spatulas," as well as many non-utensil themed ones. The egg beater print is 8"X10", signed and numbered, for $20 plus $5 shipping.

baby shirtSome day, a child in my life will get a gift from dressme. Each piece is totally original, made of recycled clothing. Now there is a premise I can get behind! The shirt here, made from recycled t-shirts, is size 6-12 months. It is spendy, at $21.50 plus $3.50 shipping and handling, but for one of a kind wearable art, I think it would be worth it.

bird cardsBirdNerd makes collages and linocut prints on bird themes. She is extremely talented, and offers several sizes of prints, as well as postcards and note card sets. The set of five note cards shown here, which are prints of BirdNerd's collages featured birds on cherry bossom branches, are $15 plus $2.50 shipping.

flashcardelectricboogaloo has more potential small friend gifts, including the fantastic nerdy ABC flash cards shown here (A is for Atom through Z is for Zoological Oddity!). The full set of brightly colored 5"X7" printed cards is $18 plus $5 shipping. I'm so there.

ship stamp pendantReach for the Sky Designs is another fantastic Etsy jewelry maker, with the interesting twist of using Scrabble tiles as the basis for her pendants. I like several of them a lot, but this one, made from a $.04 stamp with a ship on it, is my favorite. It comes on a 18" silver plated chain for $11.50 plus $2.50 shipping.

bonsai teeAhpeele makes limited edition screenprinted t-shirts, and they are so damn cool. I'd wear just about all of them, but the pine bonsai one shown here is my favorite. The shirt is a longfit v-neck, available in sizes xl-xxl, for $28 plus $5 S&H.

spiral pendantFinally, one more necklace. I've been eyeing the lovely pendants at Ling Glass for months, particularly the stained glass ones, like the the spiral one shown here. The price, $17.50 plus $3.50 shipping, is for the pendant onlly, but the store also sells cords and chains for between $2.50-$4.

There. I feel better now.

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Oscar Movie project

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I do so love a project...

As I was watching the 80th Annual Academy Awards last night, I realized that there are a whole bunch of "Best Picture" films I haven't seen. Hard to call myself a film buff when that is the case! So, I decided to embark upon a new project (because really, what do I love more than a project?). I'll watch all the Best Pictures that I haven't seen, all the way back to 1929.

This list is off all the winners, with the ones I have already seen bolded:

1927/28: Wings
1928/29: The Broadway Melody
1929/30: All Quiet on the Western Front
1930/3: Cimarron
1931/32: Grand Hotel
1932/33: Cavalcade
1934: It Happened One Night
1935: Mutiny on the Bounty
1936: The Great Ziegfeld
1937: The Life of Emile Zola
1938: You Can't Take It with You
1939: Gone with the Wind
1940: Rebecca
1941: How Green Was My Valley
1942: Mrs. Miniver
1943: Casablanca
1944: Going My Way
1945: The Lost Weekend
1946: The Best Years of Our Lives
1947: Gentleman's Agreement
1948: Hamlet
1949: All the King's Men
1950: All about Eve
1951: An American in Paris
1952: The Greatest Show on Earth
1953: From Here to Eternity
1954: On the Waterfront
1955: Marty
1956: Around the World in 80 Days
1957: The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958: Gigi
1959: Ben-Hur
1960: The Apartment
1961: West Side Story
1962: Lawrence of Arabia
1963: Tom Jones
1964: My Fair Lady
1965: The Sound of Music
1966: A Man for All Seasons
1967: In the Heat of the Night
1968: Oliver!
1969: Midnight Cowboy
1970: Patton
1971: The French Connection
1972: The Godfather
1973: The Sting
1974: The Godfather Part II
1975: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
1976: Rocky
1977: Annie Hall
1978: The Deer Hunter
1979: Kramer vs. Kramer
1980: Ordinary People
1981: Chariots of Fire
1982: Gandhi
1983: Terms of Endearment
1984: Amadeus
1985: Out of Africa
1986 : Platoon
1987: The Last Emperor
1988: Rain Man
1989: Driving Miss Daisy
1990: Dances With Wolves
1991: The Silence of the Lambs
1992: Unforgiven
1993: Schindler's List
1994: Forrest Gump
1995: Braveheart
1996: The English Patient
1997: Titanic
1998: Shakespeare in Love
1999: American Beauty
2000: Gladiator
2001: A Beautiful Mind
2002: Chicago
2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004: Million Dollar Baby
2005: Crash
2006: The Departed
2007: No Country for Old Men

The question, then, is whether to start at the beginning, with Wings, or whether to start at the most recent end and work backwards. The benefit of the latter is that it will give me time to acclimate to watching older films. The benefit of the former is that it will take me much longer to get to Titanic that way. What do you think?

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Empty nest

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Yesterday, the final kitten was adopted. There is no more constant bell sound in our house, and no more need to watch your feet whenever you walk anywhere, as they are open to attack from a 2 lb black and white fur ball. It's very sad.

That being said, having these kittens has been a wonderful experience. Being able to see them through Illy's entire pregnancy and then their first 8-10 weeks of life was a true blessing. Were I not so afraid to seem sentimental and trite, I'd possibly use the word miracle.

On a more practical note, rescue/fostering cats, at least based on this experience, is somewhere around a million times easier and less stressful than dogs. When we had the puppies there was a constant feeling of barely-maintained sanity. We had them for less total time, but they were way way more work. I'm sure some of that has to do with not having their mom with them, but puppies are just harder--more into things, louder, and entail a world more excretion clean up. Plus puppies are way more expensive. We ended up asking for a $50 adoption fee for each kitten, and while that didn't pay for everything (Illy's vet care while pregnant, food, litter, etc.) it made a sizable dent.

So this has been an overall great experience, and something I'd like to do again. Since both our dogs and our cats react pretty well to new cats, I think we could definitely take in another pregnant stray sometime in the future.

In the meantime, we're still deciding whether or not to try to find a home for Illy. She's fine here, and we really like her, but a third cat was never intended, and it would certainly be easier to foster again without three permanent feline residents. We'll see.

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A Letter to SJ's Body

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I just read this. Coffee spewed forth from my nose in a surprising quantity. She's a funny, funny lady, y'all.

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Impossible not to love them

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Check out this idyllic scene from my house last night.

Atticus and Yuel sleeping next to each other in the same position

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Thrifting finds

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Now that I am not going to bore you with my daily clothing choices, what shall we talk about?

How about my other favorite subject: thrifting!

I have to start bringing my camera when I go to the Goodwill. You would not believe the crap I see. I am a committed re-user. There are very few things I won't buy used. That being said, it is simply inappropriate to see half-used bottles of Astroglide for sale. For real. Ew.

That being said, I did really well thrifting today. I bought an extra large collapsible dog crate, worth about $160 new, in excellent condition, for $15.99. We don't need it--we have one just like it--but the rescue can definitely use it. I also bought some Robeez in excellent condition (a gift for the small friend whom I hope to visit this weekend), and a few items for my crafting pleasure.

And these.

glass jars

These are a set of three super heavy-weight glass jars, from Italy, with cool slanted tops. We use these types of jars for all of our legumes and grains, and these are the by far coolest ones I have ever thrifted. I paid $5.99 for the set, which is probably too much, but I just couldn't resist.

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Theme blogging

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I had such a good time (and felt a bit stretched in the mind) doing the OTHER mother's blogging on a theme last week, I'm thinking I'd like to do more theme-blogging. Does anybody else theme-blog regularly? Where do you get your ideas? I still can't find my Maggie Mason book, or I'd go back to that.

Anybody else interested in forming a weekly theme-blog circle or similar, where we take turns coming up with themes? I'd love that...post in the comments if you're interested?

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Grace's feminist canon take 2

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Quite a while back, I wrote a list of the most important/my favorite feminist books. Since then, I've thought of a lot of additions/subtractions I'd make if I were to re-do the list. So I decided to create an updated version. List 2.0.

The original list contained 39 books in 10 categories. This time around, I'm skipping categories, adding descriptions, and trying to hold myself to a more-manageable 15 books. Here goes. (Note: the links are all to Amazon.com pages, but that is NOT a suggestion that you actually buy any of these books at Amazon.com. Three words: local. feminist. bookstore.)

  1. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft. You have to start somewhere, and this may as well be the place. Written in 1792, this is one of the very early works of feminist philosophy. The basic gist is that women should be educated. It seems very conservative by today's standards, but was pretty revolutionary at the time, and is the basis of a lot of what came after.
  2. Sisters: The Lives of America's Suffragists by Jean H. Baker. There are a lot of possible ways to get a the suffragists, but I think this book is the easiest and most accessible. It is a collection of short biographies of five suffragists: Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard, and Alice Paul, circa mid-late 1800s. It is definitely more broad than deep, but it's a great jumping off point for this period.
  3. The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America by Ruth Rosen. I think this book is the best overall 20th century American feminist history book available, and I would use it as the backbone of my class if I were teaching a class on this stuff. It's got a fabulous time line in it and a wonderful bibliography, so it is another one that is easy to jump off from.
  4. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. I don't like this book. It's too white, it's too middle-class, it's too...ug. However, if you are studying American feminism, you can't skip it. It blew things pretty wide open in the early 1960s. Gotta read it.
  5. Personal Politics: The Roots of Women's Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement & the New Left by Sara Evans. Here is where we start getting in to stuff I love. This is a very accessible, personally-written history about how the Second Wave feminist movement grew out of the Civil Rights and anti-war movements in the late 60s and early 70s.
  6. Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women's Liberation Movement edited by Robin Morgan. This book is a collection of essays, collected and published in 1970, from the early Second Wave movement. Some of it isn't very good, but a lot of it is, and it's a great primary source.
  7. Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant by Andrea Dworkin. This is a bit of a non-conventional choice, but I really think it's worth reading. It is Andrea Dworkin's memoir. First, it's a great memoir, and secondly, the rest of Dworkin's work takes on a whole new meaning and is much easier to understand after reading it.
  8. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde. This is a collection of Lorde's short works, focusing on sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism, and classism. She writes lyrically and beautifully, but pulls no punches.
  9. Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. There is only one novel on this list, and this is it. Dorothy Allison's story about Bone, a girl growing up in hard conditions in the poor white South, has stayed with me like nothing else I've ever read. Maybe some wouldn't consider it a feminist novel, but to my mind, it is in fact THE feminist novel.
  10. Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape by Susan Brownmiller. This book is a history of rape. It is neither fun nor easy to read. Everyone should have to.
  11. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf. Some people think this book is light-weight. I disagree. I think the beauty myth, as Wolf describes it, is one of the single biggest things contemporary feminists have to deal with. And it's one of the things that is getting worse rather than better.
  12. Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks. bell hooks' book is markedly different than most of the rest of the list. She's a theorist, and yet, she's not. She is insistent on not just bemoaning the state of things but offering alternatives.
  13. Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image edited by Ophira Edut. This is a book of essays about bodies that exist outside the accepted norm, including fat bodies, transgendered bodies, disabled bodies, and non-white bodies. It's an excellent collection, bringing together the best of the inclusiveness the Third Wave is supposed to represent.
  14. Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism edited by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman. This is another Third Wave-reader, this one focused on women of color in the Third Wave. It's another book that is more wide than deep, but given the newness of the Third Wave, most of what is writen about it/from it is going to have that quality. The best bet, I think, is to focus on anthologies.
  15. Our Bodies, Ourselves by The Boston Women's Health Collective. The Boston Women's Health Collective are among the women I most respect on Earth. In the early 1970s, they started publishing health information books for women, to help them navigate their health lives. Since then, they have become an institution, with many editions of the regular OBOS, as well as one for young women, one for older women, one for Chicana women, etc. There are no words for how great these books are.

And there you have it, the new and updated canon. Obviously, with only 15 books, there are holes, but I'm happy with it. For now.

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Play list: Something blue

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(This is the final installment in the blog carnival hosted by the OTHER mother.)

C'mon, something blue? Of course I'm going to do a play list. It's just too easy. Especially if you happen to actually LIKE classic country.

1. "Blue" by Leanna Rimes
Remember when this came out? She was like 12 and sounded like Patsy Cline? It was amazing.

2. "Blue Suede Shoes" by Elvis Presley
This one is a gimme.

3. "Looking for Blue Eyes" by Jessi Colter
I love this song. I used to listen to it on the Outlaws album. Heh. I thought Jessi Colter must be SO cool, since she was the only girl in that bunch.

4. "Blue Hotel" by Chris Isaak
Chris Isaak has a lot of "blue" songs. Goes with the depressing wish-I-was-Morrissey persona, I guess.

5. "Pale Blue Eyes" by The Velvet Underground
This song gives me the creeps. The way Lou Reed says "make me mad" chills me.

6. "Blue Bayou" by Roy Orbison
Another gimme. This song always reminds me of the movie "Steel Magnolias," even though it wasn't actually this song in that movie.

7. "Tangled Up in Blue" by The Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco
This is, of course, a Bob Dylan song, but like Chris Isaak, Bob Dylan has a lot of "blue" songs, so I decided to use a cover of this one. Always best to use a Dylan cover when you can anyway, I think. Plus I LOVE The Indigo Girls on this song. Can't you just see Amy Ray working for a while on a fishing boat just outside of Delacroix?

8. "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain" by Hank Williams, Sr.
Do you like this version better, or Willie Nelson's?

9. "Blue Skies" by Frank Sinatra
Heehee.

10. "Blue Highway" by Billy Idol
Mostly I just like the Frank Sinatra to Billy Idol transition.

11. "Blue Moon of Kentucky" by Patsy Cline
God I love Patsy Cline. This is not her best work, granted, but wow, I forget how amazing she is.

12. "Almost Blue" By Elvis Costello
An awful lot of my play lists seem to include Elvis Costello.

13. "Devil with a Blue Dress On" by Paul Revere and the Raiders
Remind me sometime to tell you about going to see Paul Revere and the Raiders at the county fair when I was a kid. It's actually one of my first really really clear memories.

14. "Famous Blue Raincoat" by Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen is another artist for whom I'll usually pick a cover, but I really don't like the available covers of this song.

15. "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" by Crystal Gayle
Oddly, this is the first song I thought of for this list. Does Crystal Gayle still have super-long hair?

16. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" by Bob Dylan
This would be the other Dylan song. Don't love it, frankly.

17. "The Grass Is Blue" by Dolly Parton
If you don't have this album, you should get it. Period.

18. "Bullet the Blue Sky" by U2
Apparently this list just wasn't depressingly pretentious enough.

19. "True Blue" by Madonna
OK, there goes the depressing pretention.

20. "Blue" by Joni Mitchell
Nice to bookend both ends with a song that's just "Blue," don't you think?

Clearly there could be 100 more songs on this list. What would you include?


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Happy Valentine's Day from Atticus and Esme

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Atty and Ez remind us that it's not just the kittens and their mama who are cute.

atticus

esme

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Smartass

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My friend Jenny sent me this e-Valentine today.

obama valentine

Isn't he dreamy?

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Something borrowed

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(This is the third installment of my contribution to the OTHER mother's blog carnival.)

Most people, I suspect, don't think of their houses as borrowed. Maybe you do if you rent. But when I face a mortgage statement every month that tells me how much money we still owe on our house, you can bet it feels borrowed to me. So I thought I'd use this "something borrowed" to introduce you all to my house, which is something I wanted to do anyway.

front entrance

What you see here is the front door and entrance hallway, as seen from inside the house (the living room). The unusual tile floor is a product of the previous owners, who did it themselves. It's kind of one of those things you either really like or really don't. Personally I love it, but I think we may re-do it before trying to sell in order to appeal to a broader audience. On the left wall you can barely see a piece of local art, on the right wall is an ugly candle holder I should take down and a collage photo frame of pictures of Mark and I through the years that I gave him for Christmas a couple of years ago. You can also see our second (third?) attempt at keeping a bamboo plant alive. And on the floor you can see Ata's bowl--for some reason, this is one of his spots in the house.

living room 1

If you were to turn around from where the last picture was taken and move slightly to the left, this is what you'd see--the living room, where we spend most of our time. The floor, as I mentioned yesterday, is less-than-attractive uncovered concrete. But it's practical right now. Again you can see local art on the walls, and our ridiculous and space-hogging TV-stereo set up. The old wooden trunk we use as a coffee table is something we inherited when our good friends moved to Europe, and I am so in love with it I can't even tell you. The couch is inherited from the same folks. The chair is remarkably ugly and I'd love to replace it. My favorite thing about the room is the French doors, which you can see at the left. There are actually three sets of them going across the room, and they are so fabulous I can't even tell you.

If you were taking the previous picture, your back would be against this built-in bookshelf.

built in

From the other side of the living room, it looks like this.

living room 2

More local art, new Ikea lighting, cool wine bar.

On one side of the living room is the kitchen, which is the most interesting part of the house, I think, so I'll show you a few views.

kitchen 1

This is the kitchen as taken from one end.

kitchen 2

As taken from the other end.

The details:

kitchen floor

Similar tile floor to the entry hall.

kitchen cabinets

Groovy hand-carved cabinets.

kitchen sink side

Open shelving over windows, poured concrete counter tops, sink side.

kitchen stove side

More open shelving and concrete counters, stove side.

If you go back through the living room, there's a hall, of which there are three bedrooms and a bathroom. At the far left is the master bedroom.

master 1

From the doorway, it looks like this. There is another set of French doors just like the ones in the living room, which is really nice. There is also a bathroom off it, but I don't have a picture of that. It's where the kittens have been living.

master closet

It also has a closet, which looks, embarrassingly enough, like this.

The next room down the hall is the guest bedroom.

guest room 1

This is what it looks like from the doorway. The pineapple light fixtures are also a hold-over from the previous owners, and they really, really need to go.

The guest room also has a much more organized closet (go Elfa!).

guest closet

Across the hall from the guest room is the bathroom. Where you can usually find one or more cats.

bathroom

Finally, at the end of the hall, there is an office. It is a complete disaster.

office

One day, it will be clean.

That's it! Thanks for visiting my borrowed house!

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The deal with my floor

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For any inquiring minds who have noticed my odd living room floor, as shown in this picture, the deal is thusly: When we bought our house, the carpets were made of sea grass. It is not allergy friendly and not animal friendly. After a while, we got sick of it and pulled it up. What you see is the bare concrete floor that was beneath it. Before we sell the house, we will put in new flooring, but we're waiting as to have new flooring that has not been animal-trod when we sell. While it isn't the prettiest thing, it's practical for us right now, and we're not going to live here much longer, so we deal.

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Something new

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(This is my second post for the OTHER mother's carnival.)

Last night, in a small corner of the world about which not all that many people care, history was made. Something new happened.

A beagle won Westminster.

unoWhat you see here is the 15-inch beagle, Ch K-Run's Park Me In First, or Uno, being crowned the top dog in the nation.

Why do I care? Well, a few reasons. The first is that I love to see a dog from a working breed of any sort win. A dog that functions first as a dog, not as a showpiece. And beagles, who have changed not much at all from their hunting stock, definitely fit that bill. Secondly, I love to see breeds that don't usually win take the big trophy. If you look here, you can see a list of the historical winners of the show over the past 100 years. Lots of terriers. Spaniels. Poodles. Almost no working dogs, and few hounds of any kind (all I see is a couple of Afghans). So a beagle winning is unprecedented, which is great. Third, I loved watching Uno show--he's a perfect show dog. Great movement, beautiful coat, fantastic stack. Loved it.

And finally? Mark and I are, at present, hound rescuers. We see first-hand the surplus of beagles and how badly they need homes. Having one in the news could increase interest, which could increase our possible adopters. That's not a bad thing.

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Thrift finds 2

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Some time ago, I started what I intended to be a series of posts highlighting some of my coolest thrift finds. Given my propensity to start and not finish things, it is unremarkable that my series ended up one post long. However, I'm picking it back up, so hopefully I'll remember to actually do it regularly now.

pie platesWhat you see here is part of a set of cool looking pie plates I've thrifted. I paid between $2 and $3 each for them. I actually also have a few more similar plates that don't belong in this set, and there was one more, a strawberry pie one, which I had to throw out because it broke. I'm still on the lookout for another one of those, plus the pecan pie, cheesecake, and quiche Lorraine plates that go with the set.

Internet research tells me that these aren't actually as old as they appear. In fact, I think they are part of the Royal China Country Harvest series, which means they're from the late-70s/early-80s. They don't have any branding on them, just a "USA" stamp on the back. So, they aren't worth much, or even enough to be worth my time Ebaying them, but that's just as well, because I love them and want to keep them.

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Something Old

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(This post is part of a carnival hosted by the OTHER mother.)

stub and hazelThis is probably my favorite photograph ever. It was taken in a photo booth in a train station one night around midnight, in 1945. In a world where the second great war in a generation had just ended and prosperity was beginning, the woman in the picture was 35 and just married. She's my grandmother, and in a few weeks she will be 98.

In my memory, she has always been old, but looking at her now, I can still clearly see the woman in this picture. Both her beauty and her will, her iron spine. I can see, in both the old woman I know and this young woman, how she came to make it almost all the way through college before the measles took her eye sight, how she grew up working the land, how she cooked in logging camps. How she raised three children to be fantastic people. How, a decade or so after this picture was taken, she moved her young family across several states, away from where they lived near a nuclear testing facility, because she didn't think it right to bring up children somewhere nothing would grow.

The man in the picture, her husband, died before I was born, but lives on in legend as a bare-knuckle boxer during the Depression and a teller of world-famous bullshit stories. I think I would have liked to know him.

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Another thing that improves my daily life

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bodum cupA long time ago, Bomboniera posted about a French press travel mug. Then, after she actually acquired said mug, she posted again about its awesomeness. Since reading these posts, I have been lusting after said mug. But I have refrained from buying it, thinking it unnecessary, as I have a French press at home and a French press at work.

Well, yesterday at the Goodwill, I spotted the mug show at left, this Bodum model. New with a Target sticker stuck on it (probably the reason Target sent it to the GW). For $1.

How could I say no?

I'm drinking out of it today, and it is indeed everything I'd hoped. It doesn't keep the coffee hot for as long as my regular travel mug, but it also lets me make the perfect amount of coffee, not wasting any. Plus it has a great lid that actually closes so I don't slosh coffee all over.

Score!

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PSA

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Sugar Bowl Bakery Petite Brownie Bites are amazing. They are perfect brownies, in bite sized. They come in giant packs from Costco. If you buy one, you will eat it all in less than ten days.

Or at least you will if you are me.

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Strange times at the GW

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Yesterday afternoon, Mark and I finally got around to pulling some stuff out of our garage and loading into the Element to take to the Goodwill. I drove it over to my favorite store, which also happens to be the one closest to our house. When I pulled up and popped the back open, the man on duty wrinkled his nose and told me, in nearly these exact words, that he couldn't take my cat-hair covered crap, and that I should throw it away myself and not expect them to do it for me. I was stunned into silence. The things in my truck were not exactly prized possessions, but they were not crap. They were what I would consider about median items for that particular store. And, as someone who visits that store about once a week, I think I'd know. I wasn't really angry that the dude didn't want my stuff--that's fine, that's his perogative--but I honestly couldn't believe he was so rude about it. And I checked afterwards--nothing in my car was on the posted list of stuff the Goodwill won't take.

So I drove the stuff home, and proceeded to forget to take it out of the truck. Then, today, I visited another Goodwill, this one closer to work (and one for which I desperately need to write a review, as it is fast becoming my second favorite). On a whim, before I left, I whipped over to their donation area and asked the two men there if they would accept the stuff in my car. They said of course, were very polite and kind, and even thanked me for helping them get it out of my car (there was a heavy piece of furniture involved). Then they offered me a receipt, thanked me for my donation, and sent me on my way.

I am thinking this shouldn't piss me off. I should be charitable and assume that the guy at the first GW was just having a bad day, or was allergic to cats (because I am not about to pretend my stuff was hair free). There was nothing insulting in my load of donations. Nothing that should be repellent to touch. There were no uncleaned Diaper Genies or half-used bottles of KY jelly, which are both things I have seen for sale in that store. I didn't do anything wrong. So it had to be something having to do with that particular dude. Still, a very strange experience, and one that left a bad taste in my mouth.

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Indoor/outdoor debate, for Amanda

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In a nutshell.

Reasons cats should be allowed outdoors:


  • They need fresh air.

  • It is mean to keep them trapped inside.

  • They need to hunt.

Reasons cats should not be allowed outdoors:


  • They harm native bird species.

  • It statistically shortens their lifespans, via accident, predators, and/or disease.

  • it is irresponsible to allow your pet to defecate somewhere you can't clean it up.

  • It is irresponsible to allow your pet free access to other people's property.

/nutshell

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Play List: Cat songs

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In honor of my kittens birthday today, I give you cat songs.

1. "Everybody Wants to be a Cat" from The Aristocats

2. "Cats in the Cradle" by Cat Stevens

3. "What's New Pussycat?" by Tom Jones

4. "Mean-Eyed Cat" by Johnny Cash

5. "Cat Scratch Fever" by Ted Nugent

6. "The Siamese Song" from Lady & the Tramp (as performed by Hilary and Haley Duff)

7. "Stray Cat Strut" by The Stray Cats

8. "Cat in the Window (Bird in the Sky)" by Petula Clark

9. "Leave My Kitten Alone" by The Detroit Cobras

10. "Cool Cat" by Queen

11. "An Cat Dubh" by U2

12. "Cats Without Claws" by Donna Summers

13. "All Cats Are Gray" by The Cure

14. "My Cat's Name is Maceo" by Jane's Addiction

15. "The Love Cats" by Tricky

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Yuel

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I make no bones about it--Yuel is my favorite of the kittens. I'd love to keep him (her?). Yuel is the slowest, cuddliest, shyest, sweetest. Also, to my eye, the cutest. So I thought I'd share.

yuel on scratching post.jpg


yuel on scratching post close-up.jpg

yuel on scratching post 2.jpg

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A kitten frustration

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A week ago, we had adopters lined up for all of the kittens.

This afternoon, the last of those adopters backed out, for various reasons (and some without reasons). We are now back to square one, with four nearly eight-week old kittens and nary an adopter in sight.

I have a post up at Craigslist about them, as well as on Petfinder. I've gotten quite a few initial emails, but so far nobody is willing to pay an (IMO small) adoption fee or sign a contract guaranteeing they kitten won't be declawed, will be spayed/neutered, and will be indoor. Those are all non-negotiable for us. We would rather turn them over to the Humane Society than adopt them to homes that can't or won't agree to those stipulations.

So...here we are. They aren't hurting anything and are fun to have around, so it's not that big a deal if we need to keep them for a week or three more, but I'm still frustrated with the adopters all bailing at the last minute. And concerned...are we doing something to alienate them?

To make me feel better, I took some pictures of Feliz and Noel.

feliz and noel.jpg

feliz and noel 2.jpg

noel attacking camera string.jpg

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A few words on the hating of men

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OK, so I have been called, more than once by now, a man hater. Honestly, it's not something that much bothers me, or that I even correct much of the time. But this is a post I've been sort of putting off writing for a while, and now is as good a time (and this as good a reason) as any.

First, to be clear: I am partnered with a man and have been for years. While it's not perfect, this partnership is happy and healthy. The man is a good man. This man is a man with whom I have every intention of spending my life. My last serious relationship with also with a man. While it wasn't always happy and healthy, whose is in their late teens and early twenties? Parts of it were great, and I don't have any ill will towards that man either. I am neither a lesbian nor a separatist.

I also have other men in my life. Some of them (co-workers, family members) are in my life by chance, but the majority of them are chosen. They are my friends.

I have never been a victim of serious abuse at the hands of a man. Sure, my dad is a fuck-up, but he's never had a large role in my life. I got into with my step-dad a few times as a kid and teen, but he's a mostly good guy. I've never been raped or molested. I've suffered only fairly inconsequential sexual harassment. I've never hit the glass ceiling. Yeah, I've had some bad experiences (a boss calling me a cunt when I was 14 comes immediately to mind, as does every time some dude has ever grabbed my ass), but nothing bad enough to be considered out-of-the-ordinary.

Despite all of the above, I don't find it hard to make a categorical statement against men. I don't find it particularly insulting to hear myself called a "man-hater." Why? Because just because these horrible things haven't happened to me doesn't mean that they haven't happened. Because it is possible to despise men as a class and still like and even love a few specific ones. Because my brain is big enough to hold more than one idea at a time.

The reality is that men as a class are very, very bad for women, as a class. From huge crimes like beating us, raping us, and killing us, to the more mundane expecting us to do all the housework and paying us less for the same job, they're not good for us. And it is both dangerous and stupid to let yourself forget that because the men in your life aren't like that, or it isn't happening to you. First, some of it is probably happening to you, whether you like to admit it or not, and secondly, even if it's not happening to you, it's happening. All over the world, all the time. And that's a damn good reason to hate. There's a word for only caring about things that happen to you directly--narcissistic.

What does it mean, then, to "hate" men and still have them in your life? Well, for me, mostly, it means caution. I have a higher natural level of caution towards men in general, and particularly towards men I don't know, than towards women. That could, I suppose, be called sexism. Given the world in which I live, I'd call it good sense.

It also means that I go out of way to involve women in my life rather than involving men. I choose female doctors, I frequent women-only or mostly-women spaces. This is, at least in part, because I believe that I am safer with women than with men, but it's also because I prefer to be around women. Even if they are in no way directly threatening me, men are likely to irritate me. Your average man (no, not EVERY man, your average man) doesn't think a whole lot about his privilege. That bugs me. And I don't want to have to spend every minute of every day trying to cajole, convince, and educate. I'd much rather be surrounded by people who get it already, and those people are more likely to be women.

So yes, if it makes you feel better to call me a man hater, go right ahead. It might do you some good to think, though, not about why I hate men (because I've been abused or had bad relationships seem to be the going theories), but why you don't. Do you really disbelieve the harm men have collectively done? They've been in charge for centuries, and look where they've gotten us! Or is it maybe just because it's easier to believe the problem is little hysterical me and not something as monolithic as an oppressor class? Maybe thinking about the systematic problem caused by men as a class would bum you out, or cause you to have to change the way you're living your life?

Just a thought.

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Songs to hate men to

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I'm going to have something more serious to say about this later, but in the meantime, here is my response, through music, to the claim that I hate men. Why on Earth wouldn't I?

1. "Letter to a John" by Ani DiFranco
"Women learn to be women/and men learn to be men/and I don't blame it all on you/but I don't want to be your friend."

2. "Goodbye Earl" by The Dixie Chicks
"Well it wasn't two weeks/after she got married that/Wanda started gettin' abused/She put on dark glasses and long sleeved blouses/And make-up to cover a bruise/Well she finally got the nerve to file for divorce/She let the law take it from there/But Earl walked right through that restraining order/And put her in intensive care."

3. "Polly" by Nirvana
"Polly wants a cracker/I think I should get off her first/I think she wants some water/To put out the blow torch."

4. "Ballad of Yvonne Johnson" by Eliza Gilkyson
"I didn’t have a language for the pain I suffered through/escaping into marriage, but your past just catches up with you/until I had three children and a ragged family/a desperate urge to keep them from the wolves that got to me, boys/wolves that got to me."

5. "Cell Block Tango (He Had it Coming)" from Chicago!
"He had it coming/He had it coming/He took a flower/In its prime/And then he used it/And he abused it/It was a murder/But not a crime!"

6. "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman
"You got a fast car/And I got a job that pays all our bills/You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids/I'd always hoped for better/Thought maybe together you and me would find it/I got no plans I ain't going nowhere/So take your fast car and keep on driving."

7. "The Thunder Rolls" by Garth Brooks
"She's waitin' by the window/When he pulls into the drive/She rushes out to hold him/Thankful he's alive/Through all the wind and rain/A strange new perfume blows/And the lightnin' flashes in her eyes/And he knows that she knows/And the thunder rolls."

8. "Janie's Got a Gun" by Aerosmith
"They said when Janie was arrested/they found him underneath a train/But man, he had it comin' Now that Janie's got a gun/she ain't never gonna be the same."

9. "Luka" by Suzanne Vega
"They only hit until you cry/And after that you don't ask why/You just don't argue anymore."

10. "Behind the Wall" by Tracy Chapman
"And when they arrive/They say they can't interfere/With domestic affairs/Between a man and his wife/And as they walk out the door/The tears well up in her eyes."

11. "Caleb Meyer" by Gillian Welsh
"Caleb Meyer, your ghost is gonna/wear them rattlin' chains./but when I go to sleep at night,/Don't you call my name."

12. "Me and a Gun" by Tori Amos
"Me and a gun/and a man/On my back/But I haven't seen Barbados/So I must get out of this."

13. "Only Women Bleed" by Lita Ford (originally Alice Cooper)
"He lies right at you/You know you hate this game/He slaps you once in a while and you live and love in pain."

14. "Ladykillers" by Lush
"So he talks for hours about his sensitive soul/And his favorite subject is sex/I don't think he even wanted it/But, Christ this guy's too much."

15. "I Hate Men" from Kiss Me Kate
"But I hate men./Of all the types I've ever met within our democracy,/I hate most the athlete with his manner bold and brassy/He may have hair upon his chest but, sister, so has Lassie."

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Clothes you can be proud to wear

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With some help from some of my online friends, I've been putting together a list of resources for buying clothes that are organic and/or fair trade. Thought now might be a good time to share them.

American Apparel: Probably the best known U.S. "sweatshop free" clothing manufacturer. They also have a pretty good sized line of organic cotton clothing. Unfortunately, they are also a horrifically sexist organization (as well as being union-busting?) and not one I am much into supporting.

bamboosa shirtBamboosa: Made in America bamboo clothing and baby products. Selection is not huge, and it's really basic, but the stuff isn't terribly expensive. I like the super lightweight long-sleeved v-necks. They are available in a variety of colors, xs-xl, for $26 (regular price).

Certified Jeans: 100% organic cotton jeans made in the U.S.A. Only a few styles available, $74-$88. Women's sized only up to 14, which a mark against them in my book.

Decent Exposures: Offers a huge variety of bras and some other basic clothing (tee-shirts, underwear, leggings) all 100% cotton and some with latex-free elastic. Everything is made in Seattle at a living wage shop. Some organic choices. Not hugely expensive (for example, most bras are in the $30-$40 range).

earth creation cardiganEarth Creations: Fair trade and sweatshop-free American-made natural fiber casual clothes. Pretty basic, hippy-looking stuff, but I really like some of the women's clothes that aren't screen-printed tee-shirts, and they aren't too bad price-wise. This cute kimono-style cardigan is a blend of hemp and organic cotton, available in three naturally dyed colors, sizes small-large, for $49.

fair indigo ballet topFair Indigo: Features fair trade clothes, mostly made outside the U.S.A. Has a line of organic cotton clothing. Neither cheap nor extraordinarily expensive, and the clothes are said to be well-made (I have no personal experience with them). Fairly basic, "pretty" stuff (think J. Crew or similar). Sales section looks to be pretty good. My favorite thing there right now is the wide balletneck top show at right. It is available in brown and berry as well as white and is marked down to $19 (originally $49). It was made fairly in Macau.

The Green Loop: A Portland (yay!) company that only sells things that are "made by conscientious companies who are committed to environmental stewardship and social responsibility." They also do carbon-neutral shipping. There is a large variety here, but it is definitely not cheap. Even in the extensive clearance section there isn't much I can afford.

hemp purseHemp Sisters: Large website selling clothing and accessories made from natural fibers, including and especially hemp. Focused on handmade and fair-trade items. Also sells bath/body products. Not too expensive, decent sale section. Currently they are having a 15% off sale on handbags, in honor of Valentine's Day. I like the fair trade hemp shoulder bag at the left, marked down to $33.99 from $39.99. I don't like that the website doesn't say where it's made, though.

blue canoe top.jpgLotus Organics: Very nice looking organic natural fiber clothing, made under Fair Trade conditions. I wish there were more information on the site as to where the clothes are made. Features clothing by several different manufacturers, including dressier clothing, exercise stuff, and baby/kids clothes. No separate sale section, but lots of stuff seems to be on sale. I like the Blue Canoe crossover top at right, which is available in a ton of colors and is marked down to $36 (originally $46).

maggies pajamasMaggie's Functional Organics: Sells "fair trade clothing and accessories made with certified organic fibers." The stuff is mostly loungewear, socks, and cotton basics, as well as stuff for babies and kids. Nothing high fashion, but it looks like good stuff and it's not extraordinarily expensive. I've seen the socks in person at my co-op and they definitely seem nice. There is also a good close-out/irregular section. The thing I am liking most at Maggie's currently are the lounge pants and camisoles sets at left. They are made of organic cotton, fair trade, in Costa Rica or Nicaragua. They are currently $30.34 (down from $37).

mantra socksNatureWear Organics: Organic natural fiber clothes made outside sweatshops by companies including Maggie's and Blue Canoe. Pretty basic stuff, but a wide selection and fairly decent regular prices (as well as a clearance section). I like the organic cotton blend Mantra Socks by Maggie's, selling for $7.65 (down from $9). They are available in five olors with corresponding mantras, including my favorite, the black ones that say "Just Breathe."

no sweat teeshirtNo Sweat: "Union-made Sweatshop-Free Casual Apparel." Not necessarily organic (though some things are). Basic casual clothing and some housewares, made responsibly, for decent prices. Mostly tees, socks, basic jeans, etc. I particularly like the funky Rosie the Riveter tee-shirt shown here. It's organic, made in Bethlehem by members of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, and sells for $18 in sizes up to 2X.

rawganique dressRawganique: Sells sweatshop-free, U.S., Canada, and European-made organic cotton, hemp, and linen clothing. Also sells paper products, bed and bath stuff, and books. Not cheap, but given the mission, how could it be? I'm especially impressed with the wedding line, and love the hemp and raw silk dress at left. It's available in sizes 2-24, in three colors (ecru, eggplant, and sage). It's made in Europe and costs $179.

Shirts of Bamboo: Bamboo clothing and body products, made by companies adhering to social accountability (SA 8000) standards. Fairly large selection of basic clothes, screen printed tees, kids' stuff, and bath stuff.

As always, used is best. But if you can't buy used, it's good to have options that are easier on the environment and supportive of fair labor practices, right? Please leave any suggested additions to this list in the comments.

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My first Lent

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I was thinking, as I was getting ready this morning, about Lent. I'm not Catholic, never have been, doubt they'd have me. I've tried, at various times, to get into being either Lutheran or Episcopalian, but I've never been able to get past Jesus, so it's never lasted long. And yet, for years I have, in my own way, observed Lent. Mostly, I like that there is a time of year to focus on loosening your grip on the things and habits that slip into your life that are not necessarily what you want for yourself. Partially, I'm sure, I'm just masochistic enough to like the idea of self-denial, but there is something else, as well, more connected to strengthening yourself by giving something up, that appeals to me.

I was, I think, about 13 when I first observed Lent. I had recently started going to church, mainly because there was a "teen" group on Sunday nights and one of the members was a boy in whom I was interested (lovely curly hair and chocolate brown eyes). It wasn't, however, a church that observed Lent. In fact, the kind of rural fundamentalist church about which I am talking probably considers observation of the Catholic calendar sacrilegious. However, I had read something about Lent and decided that, in my new quest for spirituality, it would be a good idea for me to observe it. Since fasting was out (I was really skinny at the time and my mom would have had a conniption fit if I'd tried to stop eating), I decided I'd give something up. But it had to be something precious--I was serious about this (at 13, I was serious about everything).

I grew up poor and did not have a lot of nice things. However, that year my dad had given me a leather bomber jacket for Christmas. It was, I remember clearly, from Costco and cost $99. I'd seen it there and drooled over it without even considering it could be mine for months before it showed up under the tree. I loved that coat. It's soft buttery leather. It's silky polyester inner lining with imprints of old maps on it. The smell. How great it looked. I wore it non-stop from Christmas Day onwards.

So, of course, for Lent it had to go. Relegated to my closet, where I looked at it longingly but never wore it.

Except on Sundays, to church. For some reason, my understanding of Lent was that you give something up except for Sundays. So every Sunday I lovingly took it out and wore it to church, then returned it for the week, until Easter Sunday, when, in an act of symbolism that felt huge to me at the time, I left it home and wore something else to the church pageant.

Of course this all seems very silly now--both the church going (that church was really a pretty terrible place) and the value that coat held for me. But it's kind of impressive, too--my 13 year-old self had self-control for which my adult self strives every day.

I'm not giving anything up for Lent this year. Mostly this is because I've already given up the things I needed to remove from my life, more or less. I have been working since New Years on controlling my shopping and spending and paying down credit cards, and although there is a long way to go, I am doing well with it. Plus, I'm just too old at this point to find self-denial romantic anymore. Yeah, I could give up coffee for Lent, suffer the headaches, and probably feel better about being caffeine-free by the end of the season. But it wouldn't have the same magic giving up that jacket had at 13. That's the problem with me and religion these days--I still don't believe it, and it's not romantic anymore to go through the motions and pretend that I do.

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How can anyone resist them?

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So we have kitten trouble.

Or, rather, we still have kittens, which is trouble. A few days ago, we thought we were on easy street, with three adopters lined up, one of whom was going to take two of the kitties. In the last 24 hours, two of those adopters have backed out, including the one who was going to take a pair. So, as of now, we have three nearly eight-week old kittens with no homes lined up for them.

I'm sure we'll find someone soon, but I'm frustrated. We always have the Humane Society as a back-up, of course, but I'd rather not do that if we don't have to.

In case you forgot, here's how cute they are:

kittens on scratch post

yuel and feliz on scratch post

noel licking his lips

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Play List: Ash Wednesday ash songs

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Today's play list is inspired by Ash Wednesday, and by the first song on the list, which is, to my mind, hysterical. All the songs contain ash references/imagery.

1. "Mary Catherine's Ash Wednesday Journal Entry" by Christine Kane
"Easter's just around the bend/Once again it is Lent/And my face is smeared with ashes/And either I will run away/Or I'll stay and sit through/Another hundred million masses."

2. "Ashes to Ashes" by David Bowie
"Ashes to ashes, funk to funky/We know Major Tom's a junkie/Strung out in heavens high/Hitting an all-time low."

3. "Ashes by Now" by Leanne Womack
"Baby, I can't go through this again/I don't need to go down more than I've already been/Just like a wildfire, you're runnin' all over town/As much as you've burned me baby, I should be ashes by now."

4. "We'll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning" by Gram Parsons
"We know it's wrong to let this fire burn between us/We've got to stop this wild desire in you and in me/So we'll let the flame burn once again until the thrill is gone/Then we'll sweep out the ashes in the morning."

5. "Northern Star" by Hole
"They run to the pines/It's black in here, blot out the sun/And run to the pines/Our misery runs wild and free/And I knew, the fire and the ashes of his grave."

6. "Ashes" by Rufus Wainwright
"But now there's ashes, from exquisite eyelashes/So far away, past the border, past the turnstyle/And even I know, and I do believe, and I do believe that there was a morning/I saw your true love burning next to me."

7. "Smoke and Ashes" by Tracy Chapman
"I've got a red hot heart/And your heart's as blue as the blood in your veins/I say there's fire down below/You say it's only smoke and ashes baby."

8. "All Apologies" by Nirvana
"Find my nest of salt/Everything is my fault/I'll take all the blame/Aqua seafoam shame/Sunburn with freezerburn/Choking on the ashes of her enemy."

9. "Ashes to Ashes" by Steve Earle
"And someday even man's best laid plans/Will lie twisted and covered in rust/When we've done all that we can but it slipped through our hands/And it's ashes to ashes and dust to dust."

10. "Ashes" by KT Tunstall
"Everyday, like a power station/You know it isn't good/I know you're burning too much wood/Oh, and you burn out/The twisted irony is/Your ashes come home to me."

11. "So Tonight That I Might See" by Mazzy Star
"Come up crash with the muses fells dust into ash."

12. "Ballad in Plain D" by Bob Dylan
"All is gone, all is gone, admit it, take flight./I gagged twice, doubled, tears blinding my sight./My mind it was mangled, I ran into the night/Leaving all of love's ashes behind me."

13. "Mexican Wine" by Fountains of Wayne
"He was killed by a cellular phone explosion/They scattered his ashes across the ocean/The water was used to make baby lotion/The wheels of promotion were set into motion."

14. "Self Evident" by Ani DiFranco
"Even as the blue toxic smoke of our lesson in retribution/is still hanging in the air/and there's ash on our shoes/and there's ash in our hair."

What did I miss?

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Companies that don't suck: Amy's Kitchen

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I've been meaning to post about this:

I am making a concerted effort to bring my lunch to work and not buy lunch when I'm here, and I've been doing really well. One thing that helps is to have an emergency stash of canned soup for days when I forget. However, I hate most canned soup, as it is salty and nasty. But Amy's Kitchen makes some pretty good lentil soup, so I usually use that.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, Amy's soup was on sale at the co-op and I picked up some more varieties to have around. One of these was potato leek. I like potato leek soup a lot, so I was jazzed to see it. Then, on a Friday, with the rest of my at-work soup supply gone, I popped open the potato leek.

It was so incredibly gross. It both looked and tasted like paste. It was gray, lumpy, and completely inedible. So I wrote an email to Amy's, telling them how bad it was and how disappointed I was, particularly since I usually enjoy their products.

Someone wrote me back. Not in three to six weeks, or even three to six day, but in a couple of hours. She said that they are aware of the problem with the potato leek soup (it doesn't hold up once it is in the cans) and are pulling it from the market. She also asked for my mailing address to send me some coupons for my trouble.

So I expected that I'd receive coupons for a couple of free cans of soup in several weeks.

Well, once again, they surprised me. By the following Wednesday (bad soup was on Friday) there was an envelope in my mailbox that contained EIGHT coupons, each for a free Amy's product. Any Amy's product. Not just soup, which I buy at the co-op for less than $2 per can, but frozen pizzas (which cost $6 or more each) or anything else. So, basically, the sent me $48 worth of coupons.

That is customer service about which I cannot complain. My complaint was addressed quickly, I was treated very courteously, and the company made it right. I will definitely remain a supporter of Amy's, and thought it only right to share the experience with you as well.

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Obigatory Super Tuesday post

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I've not said much here yet about the presidential race, not because I am not decided, but because I'm already sick of reading other people's views, so I figured you'd probably not be all that interested in mine. However, as today is Super Tuesday, I thought maybe I'd come out with.

I'm supporting Obama for the Democratic nomination. I am a feminist woman who is not supporting our first serious female presidential contender. It pains me to say that, but that's how it is.

When it comes down to it, I'm less against Hillary Clinton than I am for Barak Obama, but if I am totally honest I will tell you that Clinton doesn't thrill me as a candidate. Mostly, the problem I have with her is that she's part of a Democratic party machine that has been disappointing me for more than a decade. More than any other single thing in this election, I want someone new.

It's better, though, to focus on what I like about Obama than what I don't like about Clinton. I'll admit I'm swayed by rhetorical style here--I like Obama because listening to him speak inspires me, and that has never been the case of a presidential contender in my life. Listening to him I believe things can change. At this point in my own apathy and in the country's, that is worth a lot.

And I like him because he's new. He isn't an old-school embedded party politician. Some people call this a lack of experience,and that may be right, but to me, right now, it's worth the risk.

None of this, though, says anything about Obama's actual positions. Well...those tend to be on the conservative side for me, but the truth is that nobody who doesn't strike me as too conservative is going to get elected, so I'm not too worried about that right now. I'd prefer he take a harder liberal line on things like universal health care and getting the hell out of Iraq, but I understand why he doesn't, politically, and I'm willing to give him a four-year chance and see how he does.

So that's my Super Tuesday spiel. We'll see how it goes.

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Play list: Super songs

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In honor of Super Tuesday, and by suggestion of my friend Frog, today's play list is Super Songs:

1. "Superhero" by Ani DiFranco
"I used to be a superhero/no one could hurt me/not even myself/You are like a phone booth/that I somehow stumbled into/And now look at me/I am just like everybody else."

2. "That's Really Super, Supergirl" by XTC
"Hurt like kryptonite/Put me on my knees/Now that I've found out just what you're doing.With your secret identities."

3. "Superman's Song" by The Crash Test Dummies
"Superman never made any money/For saving the world from Solomon Grundy/And sometimes I despair the world will never see/Another man like him."

4. "Superstar" by Tegan and Sara
"Hardcore superstar by far/You're the ultimate star/Hardcore superstar by far/You're the ultimate star/Do you wanna be a superstar?"

5. "Super Duper Love" by Joss Stone
"Your love is super/Are you diggin on me coz im diggin on you/I'm just trying to tell you/Oh this love is super duper."

6. "Super Hyperspastic" by Sugarcult
"I'm super hyper spastic, yeah.I lost my sex drive and I'm holdin' out on you."

7. "Superfreak" by Rick James
"That girl is pretty wild now/The girl's a super freak/The kind of girl you read about/In new-wave magazine."

8. "Superman (It's Not Easy)" by Five for Fighting
"It may sound absurd/but don't be naive/Even heroes have the right to bleed/I may be disturbed/but won't you concede/Even heroes have the right to dream/It's not easy to be me."

9. "Super Trouper" by ABBA
"Super trouper beams are gonna blind me/But I wont feel blue/Like I always do/cause somewhere in the crowd theres you."

10. "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" by David Bowie
"Scary monsters, super creeps/Keep me running, running scared."

11. "Super Disco Breakin'" by The Beastie Boys
"Money Makin Money Money Makin Manhattan Super Disco Disco Breakin'"

12. "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" by The Kinks
"I need you, but I hate to see you this way/If I were Superman then we'd fly away/I'd really like to change the world/And save it from the mess it's in/I'm too weak, I'm so thin/I'd like to fly but I can't even swim."

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Kittens with toys

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I've been asked for more kitten pictures, and who am I to deny their fan base? The kittens are all scheduled to go to their new homes this coming weekend (just before their 8 week birthday), so I guess we'd better get the cute in while we can.

Last night when I got home, I opened a package from the mail my cats were VERY interested in. A bunch of new felted wool toys, packed in catnip! What could be better?

First, mama got in on the toy action.

illy with toy

illy with toy 2

She wouldn't let Atticus have a turn at all.

Then I tossed a felted mouse into the cat room, and Feliz instantly monopolized it.

feliz with toy

feliz with toy 2

The other kittens didn't get much of a chance, but I did get some cute pictures of Noel and Holly anyway.

holly

noel

And finally, one more of Feliz, post-nip.

feliz


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Appealing to the voyeur in me

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This is the coolest thing. The photographer, David Ichioka, set up a camera with a timer to take pictures of people sleeping, together or alone, at 20 or 30 minute intervals. I think my favorite set is this one, of a woman sleeping with her dog, but they are all fascinating.

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Play list: Songs for Monday morning

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I haven't done this in a while, but got the urge today. Go here to listen to my special Monday morning play list. Note that these are mostly songs that appeal to me as an office drone, not labor songs.

1. "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton
Doesn't get any better than this, ever.
"Its a rich mans game/No matter what they call it/And you spend your life/Putting money in his wallet."

2. "Manic Monday" by The Bangles
C'mon, like I wasn't going to lead with this one?
"But I can't be late/'Cause then I guess I just won't get paid/These are the days/When you wish your bed was already made "

3. "I Don't Like Mondays" by Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats
Not strictly about work, but hard to resist. At least I'm not using the Bon Jovi cover. Don't think I didn't consider it.
"Tell me why/I don’t like Mondays/I wanna shoot the whole day down."

4. "Take This Job and Shove It" by Johnny Paycheck, as covered by The Dead Kennedys
I love The Dead Kennedys covering this. Opens up a whole new world of funny for me.
"You better not try to stand in my way/As im a walking out the door./Take this job and shove it/I ain't working here no more."

5. "Come Next Monday" by K.T. Oslin
Again, not strictly about working, but I love this song and have since my mom had the 80s Ladies CD. Can't help it.
"Come next Monday/I'm going to bed early/I won't talk dirty for a week or maybe two/I'm going on a diet/Just like sugar, honey/Come next Monday/I'm gonna give up on you."\

6. "Welcome to the Working Week" by Elvis Costello
A classic.
"Welcome to the workin' week./Oh I know it don't thrill you, I hope it don't kill you./Welcome to the workin' week./You gotta do it till you're through it so you better get to it."

7. "Work is a Four-Letter Word" by The Smiths
I'll go on record not being a Smiths fan. Still, though...and ode to a lazy woman? How can I not dig that?
"I don't need/A house that's a showplace/I just feel/That we're going no place/While you say that/Work Is A Four-Letter Word."

8. "Rainy Days and Mondays" by The Carpenters
Could someone who actually LIKES folk music really leave this one off? Plus, it's actually a song about depression, which I'm all for (all for songs, that is, not so much all for depression).
"Talkin' to myself and feelin' old/Sometimes I'd like to quit/Nothing ever seems to fit/Hangin' around/Nothing to do but frown/Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down."

9. "Blue Monday" by New Order
Again, a shoo-in, even if it's not so much about work. Plus I need something to cheer me up after The Carpenters.
"Those who came before me/Lived through their vocations/From the past until completion/They will turn away no more."

10. "Except for Mondays" by Lorrie Morgan
I hadn't heard this for years before I made this list, and yet I still get it in my head regularly. I don't know what that means about it, exactly, but I had to include it.
"Except for Monday which was never good anyway/Tuesday I get a little sideways/Wednesday I feel better just for spite/Thursday and Friday take too long/Before I knew it,Saturday's gone/But it's Sunday now you can bet that I'm alright."

11. "Hey Julie" by Fountains of Wayne
Probably the best modern day "labor" song I can think of.
"Why must I spend my time/Filling up my mind/With facts and figures that never add up anyway?/They never add up anyway."

12. "Workin' for the Weekend" by Loverboy
Again, need some levity on this list.
"Everybody's workin' for the weekend/Everybody wants a new romance/Everybody's goin' off the deep end/Everybody needs a second chance."

13. "16 Tons" by Tennessee Ernie Ford
I know I said no labor songs, but I couldn't resist. Besides, the parallels to our modern debt-based system keep it relevant.
"You haul Sixteen Tons, whadaya get?/Another older and deeper in debt/Saint Peter don't you call me cause I can't go/I owe my soul to the company store."

14. "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere" by Jimmy Buffet and Alan Jackson
Well, maybe it's just me, but Monday makes me want a drink...
"Gettin' paid by the hour and older by the minute/My boss just pushed me over the limit/I'd like to call him somethin'/But think I'll just call it a day."

15. "The Job That Ate My Brain" by The Ramones
Amen.
"Five o'clock rolls around/I feel so glad I kiss the ground/Ain't enough hours in the day/There's go to be a better way."

Happy Monday, y'all.

Editing to try to embed it...

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Allie on budget love

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I know I am posting far too much recently about Allie and her blogs Wardrobe Oxygen and My Wardrobe Today, but she's got another great post up that I have to point you towards. At Wardrobe Oxygen, she takes up the question of what the style-conscious should do with their magic economy-stimulating tax rebates, suggesting debt pay-off, charitable contributions, or environmentally friendly upgrades, rather than new purses or shoes. She's a recovered shopaholic, she says, and points out:

It’s amazing what reduced or no debt can do for a woman – her skin is radiant from a good night’s sleep, she has better posture, a beautiful engaging smile for all. She cheerily answers her phone on the first ring instead of checking Caller ID for collectors, and she looks forward to the mail every day because it may bring a favorite periodical or card from a friend, not a Second Notice or Past Due statement.

I love Allie for writing this. God bless her for being someone who writes mostly about clothes and cosmetics but is still both willing and able to practice and advocate fiscal responsibility. Since both climbing out of debt/learning to live within my means and bettering my style are goals for me this year, she is definitely a good influence.

And for what it's worth, my tax rebate is going towards my credit cards.

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February Giving

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I've been reading a lot about moral eating recently (I just finished Plenty, about the 100-Mile Diet), and in that spirit, the charity I am choosing to give to and highlight on my blog for February is Farm Sanctuary.

Farm Sanctuary works to end cruelty to farm animals and promotes compassionate living through rescue, education and advocacy. We envision a world where the violence that animal agriculture inflicts upon people, animals and the environment has ended, and where instead we exercise values of compassion.

For those who are new to the blog, I do this every month, both to remind myself to give and to let readers know about giving opportunities about which they might not otherwise be aware. The logo for Farm Sanctuary will be featured over on the sidebar all month.

And no matter who you support, don't forget to save receipts of your donations--they're tax deductible!

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