Friday, March 30, 2007

Cat fights

It's been awhile since I've done much cat blogging. Maybe in part it's because the cat situation at my house has felt a little shaky (well, make that really shaky) over the past several months. But it's Friday. It's Spring Break. Seems like a good time to put up a cat blogging entry.

Hansel and Casey

So the instability in our cat situation has come about since we adopted Hansel, a most delightful brown tabby, back in November. We had just lost Clyde, our twenty-year old stoic, and felt that, since we had room for one more, we might as well give a home to one more.

Hansel seemed very calm, very easy going, and so we thought he would be a good friend for Casey, our seven-year-old cowardly cat. And, as you can see (sort of) in the above photo, they do get along. I'm not sure that they qualify as buddies, but sometimes they play together.

Gabe and Simon, however, hate Hansel. Whenever they get a chance, they jump him, and they don't look like they're playing. Hansel screams, runs away, with Gabe and/or Simon in hot pursuit.

As a result, Hansel spends most all of his time separated from the other cats. Sometimes he seems lonely, but he mostly seems ok with it. Simon and Gabe try to get at him. Occasionally, Simon gets so worked up that he jumps on Gabe instead. Casey sometimes opts to spend a little time with Hansel. When he comes out, Gabe gives him a good smell. But neither Simon nor Gabe seem to fight with Casey any more than usual when he has the Hansel smell on him. So I guess that's something.

All in all, though, it isn't good. We don't live in a very large house, so living with three cats in half of the house and one cat in the other half isn't really convenient for any of us. Believe me, we've tried Feliway. We've tried feeding them all some extra tasty food together. That last thing seemed to be working fine, until one day Simon the Siamese cat stopped eating in order to jump Hansel. Since then, we can't convince Hansel to come on out into the kitchen.

My cat sitter says: let them fight it out. But what does that mean? Let Gabe and Simon beat the living daylights out of Hansel? Then they'll all be happy?


Hansel can fetch! He loves playing ball. He won't even wake you up in the morning until the alarm goes off. He's a sweet, sweet fellow. But Simon and Gabe seem hell bent on taking him out.

So we try a few new things, now and then. But, all in all, we're just waiting for Simon and Gabe to get over it. I'm not sure how successful that strategy will be.

That's my sad cat story. The one I haven't been blogging about.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I'd rather just hear the drill, thanks

This morning, an early appointment at the dentist's. I had a bit of work done on a molar. It took awhile. You know, the tongue has to go numb (and, while I usually have full numbness with just one injection, this morning I needed two). It takes time.

And as I was sitting there, waiting for the injections to do their work, I had ample time to consider the music being pumped in.

It was a mix I would call "The Worst of the 70s." I never really thought I would ever have to listen to "Muskrat Love" again. And yet, there I was, listening. Unable not to listen. And I'm talking about the real thing, not a Muzak instrumental version. Toni Tennille, singing, as if a song about rodents doing the shimmy makes all the sense in the world.

And so, when it came time to do the actual dental work, the assistant offered me headphones. Um, no thanks. What a relief, I thought, not to have to listen to that anymore.

I just don't understand, really. Aren't there other options for helping folks stay calm? Even a little smooth jazz, which I'm not too keen on, would be better. At least it wouldn't leave you with words in your head.

Because someone had to select this mix, didn't they? And where do they select it from? Is there a company that markets just to dentist offices?

And, actually, because it's spring break, I've been catching up with all my health care. So I was at the doctor's office a couple of days ago (just a check up), and I was sitting there in the examination room, waiting. And I began contemplating the curtain that is pulled around the entryway to offer a degree of privacy. It was a thoroughly unattractive curtain, white with brown designs. But the designs had to have been chosen by someone, right? Even at the level of production, a decision had to be made. It was an abstract design, curving lines and circles. Wouldn't it have just been easier to do something like straight lines? But, no, this has a kind of intentional design.

Is this a whole industry, I wondered. The making of curtains for examination rooms? And are there folks who specialize in the design of these curtains? Is there some rhyme or reason to it all?

Yes. This is how I'm spending my spring break. In health care offices. Inquiring into aesthetic choices.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Looks like it's time for the annual CCCC retrospective. The theme this year? Skip it.

I skipped yoga (which I had hoped to get to) Wednesday night. I hadn't eaten since 8 am or something like that and also had forgotten my registration materials, so, after arriving and checking in to my hotel, I found my way to the Hilton to ask for a new name tag. I knew I was going the right way when I saw the gigantic frogs in front of the building next door. Ah yes, I thought, I remember the gigantic frogs. On closer inspection, they turned out to be gigantic classical torsos. I wondered if I had really thought, last time the Cs was in NYC, that they were gigantic frogs or if it was a case of invented memory. I'll never know. At any rate, like I said, I was deliriously hungry. So I skipped yoga in favor of getting some food.

My panel was the first one after the general session Thursday morning. I needed to do a little tinkering on the paper, so I skipped the WPA breakfast (even though I had registered) and the general session, too.

As has become somewhat usual, I skipped many sessions. While skipping one, I met two current grad students from my PhD-granting institution. One commented on how he was trying to go to every session. Ah, unjaded youth.

I thought I would have to skip the St. Martin's party because I had dinner plans at 7:00 and attended a session that lasted until 5:00 or so. But A, one of my dinner companions, suggested we take a cab to Central Park and at least have a peek at the Tavern on the Green. So we did.

I skipped a number of panels I wanted to attend, including panels by good friends, solely because they were on Saturday afternoon. I just couldn't believe CCCC was going to last all day Saturday. My plane was leaving in the afternoon, so I had to get a cab to the airport around noon. Note to self: next year, stay overnight on Saturday.

I also skipped all of the Sweet Sixteen, except a glimpse now and then to check scores. Since none of the scores were to my liking, I'll skip that, too.

What didn't I skip? Meals with friends. Catching up in the lobby and hallways. A few good panels. A few editorial-type meetings. A walk down Broadway at midnight. (Sensory overload? Oh yes.)

All in all, a good time. Some new ideas. Some new connections. Some connections maintained.

And now, at last, Spring Break.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


(1) In a couple of days, SIU, my former institutional home, will play KU, the arch-rivals of my current institutional home.

(2) Tomorrow morning, first thing, I’m on my way to NYC.

(3) Butler, another of my former institutional homes (I’ve been around), will have the chance to avenge the crushing buzzer beater of 2000 on Friday.

(4) Today, it’s drizzly and cool in Columbia

(5) I hope to get to some panels at the Cs. The number seems to decrease every year.

(6) I’m not staying at the conference hotel.

(7) In fact, I rarely stay at the conference hotel.

(8) And every year, I swear that next year I’m staying at the conference hotel. Just to avoid the bother.

(9) I might do some yoga tomorrow in NYC.

(10) This morning, I returned to CafĂ© Berlin. I still feel the same. I like the idea. The food is pretty good. I just want more. Like, I don’t know, cottage cheese pancakes. French-style omelets that are in thirds rather than halves. Things like that. You have to understand, I want a really cool breakfast place almost more than anything. So, Eli, I want to work with you here.

(11) Yesterday, it seemed that I had about four meetings scheduled for today. But it turns out that only one meeting actually happened.

(12) I just came back from last minute shopping. I always do last minute shopping just before leaving for a conference.

(13) I have to get up really early in the morning.

(14) I have a nonstop flight for the first time in a very long while.

(15) I think my hotel may have free wifi. If that’s the case, that’s probably a good thing about being in a non-conference hotel.

(16) That’s about it. Time to wrap it up.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Next week

This time next week, I will have been in New York city for over 24 hours.

I will have seen old friends.

I will have eaten delicious food.

And I will have already delivered my 4Cs paper.

I will, in short, feel very happy.

That's what I'm predicting, anyway.

And could be I'll be seeing the Salukis play in the Sweet Sixteen.

Ah. Next week.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Saving daylight

Not that I want to jinx the rest of the day by saying so, but, really, dealing with the early time change today hasn't been so bad.

The truth is, I like Daylight Savings Time. I like the longer-lasting daylight. (What gets me, more than Daylight Savings Time, is the going back. The days are already getting short, and then we make them shorter. It's very strange.)

The day has been so welcoming, in fact, that C. and I went for a walk this morning. And we found some roads, just practically across the street, that we had never seen before. Columbia is a surprisingly hilly place, and so we found ourselves climbing some pretty steep hills, looking on some pretty tall houses that edge up against tree-lined valleys.

Our yard, meanwhile, is like a bog. All that ice from January finally melted away a couple of weeks ago, but it's rained since, and the ground just can't absorb it all.

Next week, CCCC. After that, Spring Break. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The time change thing

A few weeks ago, I started getting little email notices about the upcoming change in daylight savings time. To wit: it will begin earlier (as in, this weekend) and end later (November, I think).

And I just want to register my displeasure. With you, my readers. Not that it's your fault. Not that you can help me.

But, sheesh. I don't even get to have Spring Break until the last week of the month. And now I'm losing an hour?

And not only that, but according to the article linked to above,

Planes won't fall from the sky . . .but there are going to be a lot of little, minor annoyances that make people's days a little more hectic, a little more painful.

Cause, you know, older computers and such won't realize daylight savings time is coming earlier.

So I'm just preparing myself to feel really grumpy come Sunday. Watch out. The Nightmare of Anger may appear.

Monday, March 05, 2007

What cats think of academic discourse

So, this morning, I'm working on my CCCC paper. And I'm thinking, hey, this isn't so bad. I've got some things to say.

Then Simon the Siamese cat decides to walk across my keyboard. I look back at my CCCC draft, and I see that Simon has left a comment:


I kid you not.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Studio thinking

Just a snatch of a thought, after reading Dr. B's "New Media Studio" course description. As many (Jenny, for starters) noted during our recent Carnival, Trimbur argues for a seminar model to replace, or at least exist alongside, the workshop model of teaching writing. And I know that some places already have things called "Writer's Studio," which seems to usually mean a basic writing class taught more like a tutoring session.

But I'm wondering what would happen if we thought about writing as a studio course, something where new ideas are circulated and opportunities to experiment are de rigueur? I've totally not thought this out. I'm just putting this here, to think about later.

Great becomings

Last night, the musical highlight of my year: guitarist Bill Frisell with violinist Jenny Scheinman and steel/dobro player Greg Leisz. At The Blue Note. (I'm happy to play here, at the real Blue Note, Frisell joked.)

The three entered the stage, sat close by each other, with Scheinman in the center, facing out. We had a table right up front, so we had a great view (except that Frisell turned inward, toward Scheinman, so that we couldn't see his hands--to the mild disappointment, I think, of the nice guitar-playing fellow from Kansas City--also named Bill--who shared our table). Frisell sat on the edge of his chair, perched on his toes. He had a small electronic box at his side and another at his feet, and after they sat, he was, it seemed, tuning his guitar, punching various buttons on the boxes. Leisz played a few notes, too. Were they just tuning up? It was hard to know. Eventually, a melody emerged. They played. So that set the theme of the evening, I would say: beauty emerging out of available means. Maybe one of them would wind up a music box, and so they would find their way with that, matching the rhythm. Reaching outward. Snatches of Monk's "Mysterioso" here. A repetiton of "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie" there. If they couldn't find the way to an ending, they just moved on to another melody.

It was wonderful. Music that kept us all, like Frisell, on our toes. Listening. Never quite sure where we were going. But going. And loving every minute of it. Like when Scheinman and Frisell cracked up during one segue. Because what's the point of anything if it doesn't bring joy?

And then when I got home, a message on my phone: my first great nephew had finally made his entrance in the world while I was gone. So two pretty amazing things, in one night.

(Great nephew, you might ask? Or at least I hope you might. I'm the youngest of four children, and my siblings are, on average, a decade my senior. So I became an aunt for the first time at age eleven. And now that nephew has become a father. Ah, time!)

And, anyway, my sister is kind of young for a grandmother, if you ask me. See for yourself:

Debbie and Aiden