Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You Know You're In Denial . . .

When you have to move your kayak's life vest to get to the snow brush in the trunk of your car, you're in denial.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stray Cats

I’m one of those crazy old women with no kids and a houseful of cats. Yep, that’s me.
I’m not in animal rescue, however. Just by circumstance, I’ve had a lot more experience with stray and feral cats than with the rescue of tame animals. If you’ve never seen a wild cat when it’s threatened, you really can’t imagine just how savage they can be. I once lured a feral cat onto an enclosed porch and closed the door behind her. It was the first time in her life she’d ever been contained in a “room” and it wasn’t pretty . . .
These animals live short, dangerous lives. Even if they find someone to feed them, there are plenty of other animals vying for the same food; I’ve seen cats and raccoons eat side-by-side in my garage. I’ve also seen a litter of kittens with their heads chewed off by raccoons. There are lots of predators for stray cats; it’s really quite sad.
It doesn’t take long to realize that spay/neuter efforts are the best thing that mankind can do for these wild animals. Generally, these efforts are made to control the feral populations. Honestly, I do it because I have seen, in my own backyard, just how difficult and violent the lives of these animals are; I know it’s humane to prevent more animals from being born into that life.
Toledo is lucky enough to be the home to Humane Ohio, a program that fixes animals at great prices. The price for feral/unfriendly strays is a mere $25! They also operate an animal food bank for folks who need help with paying for pet food.
I have trapped and fixed many feral/stray cats at my house; enough that the population has died out and I now only have the tamed ones living inside. However, there’s a guy down the street who is feeding a bunch of them. I’m helping him get them, one by one, down to Humane Ohio to be fixed. I love helping out this way!
Most cities have a program like this. I’ve found that many smaller communities still don’t grasp the scope of the feral cat problem or the service that is provided by people who care for them. My township’s supervisor once wrote an article in the township’s newsletter, which accused people who “have a yardful of stray cats” of being bad neighbors. Sigh . . . It’s usually impossible to drag these old-school dinosaurs into the 21st Century; I’ve found dealing with an existing program to be much easier than fighting city hall.
All it takes to help out is a $20 live trap. You can learn more at

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting Ready

********There’s nothing like a 5am baking session. I haven’t made pies in a long time; it’s amazing how much easier and quicker it is when you practice regularly.
I’m making a pumpkin pie and I've reserved one baked crust for a cream pie. What would be your choice - chocolate, banana or coconut?

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Happened?

I think I have Attention Deficit Disorder. I’d say mine is a mild case; I’ve seen people who are much worse than me. I’m nowhere near considering medication, but I’d like to try some concentration exercises. While my inability to maintain focus is occasionally inconvenient, I truly believe that ADD is a skill that we’ve developed as a response to our culture. Multi-tasking is necessary in today’s world; it benefits us to become adept at it.
ADD, for me, is like most things – a benefit in some situations and a liability in others. I’m usually good at coming up with solutions, yet completely worthless when it comes to seeing them through. The biggest problem for me is how the lack of concentration impacts my memory. Here’s how that works:
“Gee, they still have their Halloween decorations out.” “My sheets need to be changed.” “I’ll ask Laura what veterinarian she uses.” “Oh, I still need to schedule that dinner!” “I wonder if it would be cheaper if we flew Delta?” “I need to get gas . . .” “If the showing is in the morning, I’ll call her in the afternoon, but if they show him in the afternoon, I’ll have to call her the next day.” “Is this cherry or strawberry flavored? “ “I don’t recognize that phone number.” “Hey, they painted that house!” “How did I get this bruise?” “There are two different campuses?”
So, it makes perfect sense to me that I can’t recall where the Halloween decorations were.
Some of my friends actually get upset when I don’t remember something that they’ve told me; it’s truly nothing personal. There are lots and lots of things that I make no effort to remember; I intentionally save my memory for things that are more likely to matter in the future. The fact that I don’t remember that you prefer to use brown sugar, instead of white sugar, to make bread pudding honestly isn’t indicative of whether or not I think you are important; I just don’t think your recipe is important. If you tell me that you were sexually assaulted as a teenager, though, I will remember it forever and be cognizant of how that may still impact you today.
Something kind of scared me today. While at work, I suddenly remembered that I called a friend last night. I remember looking up the number, and asking her how she was. I remember her saying, “I’m good.” And I had a vague awareness that there was no more to it; that was the end of it. What the hell happened? Wouldn’t I have called her back if the phone had cut us off? Was this just me projecting how I thought the call would begin and I never actually dialed her? I had virtually no awareness of what happened. My cell phone showed that I dialed her, and then I dialed someone else 2 minutes later. Did she even answer? No other calls came in at that time. WTH?!? It’s almost as if my memory were scrubbed; I was just blank.
I really scared me, this mental lapse. About a half hour into it, I remembered that she was eating and I said I’d call her back in 10 minutes. I forgot to do that, of course. But, I was driving home, had talked to my furnace company about having no heat, someone else was texting me, and I called another friend to tell her that an acquaintance had died. I wonder if all that is just too much for me to do at once? Or is there something medically wrong?
Does this happen to everybody? And did I already post about ADD once? ;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Off To The Poorhouse?

Years ago, it was illegal to be poor. People who couldn’t care for themselves financially were rounded up and shipped off to the poorhouse. Drifters looking for work, foreigners who couldn’t speak the language, squatters or anyone who was caught begging would likely find themselves there, too.
Poorhouses evolved through the years. In the early 19th century, communities usually paid people to take in the poor; the lowest bidder would be paid by the community to feed and shelter them. There was no oversight of these places and conditions varied greatly from place to place. They were often called almshouses, too. Anyone who was able was expected to work around the home; in England, they came to be called workhouses.
After the Civil War, housing indigents became more governmentally-controlled; poorhouses were often funded and overseen by individual counties and were also called County Homes. These places were run to be as self-sufficient as possible, so they were often large, well-constructed buildings on big tracts of land, sometimes called Poor Farms or County Farms; there are still many roads named Poor Farm Road.
There were a number of reasons a person may find themselves in a poorhouse, so the inmates (as they were called) had varying levels of ability. Some were crazy, some were physically disabled, some were “weak-minded” and others were completely able; often the work to be done was taking care of other residents.
Poorhouse life was difficult. There was tremendous social stigma and residents were treated badly by the greater community; tales of visits to poorhouses tell of children being terrified, as if the residents were wicked. Residents had no freedom: they ate what was given them and they performed the work they were assigned. Rules were strict and firmly enforced; officials didn’t want anyone taking this charity by choice. Researching these places makes you sad; the few pictures hold no smiles. Here’s a melancholy listing of poorhouse residents:

It’s difficult to research the poorhouse era. There are few stories of residents, as many of them had no families. Many died and were buried in unmarked graves in poor farm cemeteries. Here’s a picture of the poor farm from my county.

I’ve seen a couple online references to a poorhouse in my hometown, although I haven’t found evidence of it. I’m going to check with the oldest lady in town. I did find a Poor Farm Museum in a county near mine:
Apparently, Ohio is one of the best documented states of poorhouse history. (The building in the picture at the top of the post once housed Annie Oakley!)
Many of former-poorhouse buildings are still being used. Most poor farms evolved into government-sponsored institutions specific to the type of the residents who resided there – County Infirmaries, asylums and homes for the aged. They were the predecessor of modern nursing homes.
The poorhouse era was kind of a long, government-sponsored experiment; officials were just trying to figure out how to handle indigents. Thankfully, what this trial period led them to was the Social Security system.

Monday, November 14, 2011

English or Western?

There's a farm near my house that has three horses and a miniature donkey, which looks just like a wild burro; I drive by often to see him.
It seems they got a new resident in the pasture. This 4-month old goat has taken quite a shine to the donkey and likes to ride around on his back. The owner says that the donkey didn't like it when they first got the goat, but he's gotten used to it.
She even lays down to nap on him! They suspect she may have been taken from her mother too soon.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day

During WWII, this gentleman attained the rank of Colonel in the US Army. He led charges into Brittany. He oversaw a regiment during the horrendous Battle of the Bulge. Men who served with the Colonel recall him as calm and thoughtful in the face of danger.
My great-aunt, Leona, who served as a nurse in the Army, knew the good Colonel personally. When her nephew suffered extreme physical and psychological injuries during the Battle of the Bulge, the Colonel saw to it that he was sent for treatment in England, where she was serving. He also helped her obtain a bicycle (a rarity during the war) and send it from England to her young neice, my own mother, in Michigan. In the midst of battle, he once pulled his men, a few at a time, out of formation long enough for them to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner. He served on a military tribunal that judged the guilt or innocence of Nazis accused of war crimes.
I love these stories, which evidence how much more there is to war than the fighting.
Thank you, Colonel Jeter, and all the veterans that you represent.

(Photos from: )

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Power of the Press

Boys, boys, boys . . .

************************************************************************************If you ever had to pay someone to keep quiet about the time you pushed their head towards your crotch - YOU'RE NOT PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL.

If you have a secret Baby Mama somewhere out there - YOU'RE NOT PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL.

If your name isn't on the birth certificate of a child walking around with your DNA - YOU'RE NOT PRESIDENTIAL MATERIAL.

Sheesh, is this really the best we can do?!?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Theater Season

I saw The Crucible on stage in Royal Oak yesterday. It was really nice to see this play with Becky, since she and I visited Salem this summer. Based on the Salem Witch Trials, it was playwright Arthur Miller’s answer to 1950’s McCarthyism. I saw this on film as a kid and I remember being mortified when Giles Corey was pressed to death.
The Baldwin Theater is a rehabilitated 1920’s movie theater. It’s quite a gem, as far as community theaters go.

Next up is Much Ado About Nothing at The Hilberry.
I love to check out little theaters all over the state. Theater Season – another reason to appreciate the winter!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Turkish Dessert

********Ann Arbor has so many wonderful ethnic restaurants. One of my favorites is Ayse’s, a nice little Turkish restaurant. Ayse (eye-sha) is the owner, and a trip to her establishment is always a bit of an indulgence. Small side dishes are served individually on tiny plates, there’s special silver just for the coffee, and much of the tableware is of beautiful, hand-painted Turkish patterns. I tend to forget to make everyday things special, so I’m easily charmed by the “dressing up” of daily life.

On my last trip to Ayse’s, I sampled a dessert bar with carrots and walnuts, topped with coconut shavings. It was wonderful! I’ve been trying to recreate it ever since, with no luck finding a recipe. After countless google attempts, I finally learned, through a Polish lady’s blog, that this dessert is traditionally served as bite-sized balls. I now have plenty of recipes for Turkish Carrot Balls, but still haven’t found the one I want. I’ll try another this weekend.
As my housemate says, “The rejects are still pretty tasty.”