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Musings of a Utah Heathen

22nd April, 2012. 4:41 pm.

My life these days is expressed in small status updates, often 140 characters or less, posted to Facebook or Twitter. A real thrill for me is when more than three or 4 people "like" what I have submitted. It's sad that Facebook says I have 167 friends, but I have no one to come over for cards and conversation.

Sounds depressing, but I do have fun sometimes, when I feel well enough to get out. Yesterday's trip up to Kaysville was a pretty good example. I went up there to see Andy compete in the Utah Mosin Nagant Challenge. For those of you who don't know, Mosin Nagant is a type of Russian rifle. The model 91/30 is very common, a reliable rifle, and at around $100 each, relatively inexpensive. They were made in two different factories in Russia from the 1920s through the mid 1940s, and shoot a 7.62 x 54R bullet. There. Now you know as much as you need to about these rifles. If you want to know more, stand around the used gun rack at Gunnies in Orem. Andy should be along shortly to answer any questions you might have.

Anyway, there were 22 shooters at the match, Andy's first competition since 1985. It was a low-stress, high-fun oriented day with several different strings of fire, the last of which was a "volley" shot, where all shooters stood on the line, and on "Ready! Aim! FIRE!" they all shot at a single target - a pile of water-filled milk jugs which exploded when the bullets hit. When the smoke cleared, Andy had ranked 9th overall - not bad, and he'll do even better next time.

My contribution to the event was trash pickup. I policed all the brass, which was (of course) all the same steel cases, collected used paper targets, and collected aluminum cans and plastic bottles. In short, I took everything that could be recycled. Not surprisingly, after all the recyclables had been removed, there was very little trash.

I don't get out much, but when I do, and my legs allow it, I can have a good time, and I certainly did yesterday.

Current mood: mellow.

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8th April, 2011. 6:29 am. Monthly

Jeez, it looks like I'll just be doing this thing every few weeks. So what's been happening?

The day after I wrote that last entry, my cat Simon turned 19. That's ancient for any cat, especially this one. He's been deaf and has had vertigo since he had an abscess in his ear in October of 2005.

Wow. I just looked over my blog entries for the last few years. I know there's stuff I should be recording but I'm just not. Like the fact that Youngest Daughter just turned 19. Eighteen years old. Old enough to start making her own decisions. Old enough to start making her own mistakes instead of me trying to steer her away from them. That's a tough one. It make it harder that she's still here, living in the same room she lived in when she was 6. Disregard the fact that she's finishing up her second semester at college and has a job (it's at Trafalga in Orem - a mini amusement park). She's still my baby, and it's hard letting go of that.

Eldest Daughter has moved back home after a year in Connecticut where she had a great job and low cost of living requirements, then 6 months or so living in an apartment with several others. The job situation is harder than it looks so she's back home, jobless, carless and 21. What do I do THERE?

Current mood: melancholy.

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22nd March, 2011. 11:47 pm. New Tattoo!

I've been talking about getting a tattoo since I turned 50, and I've finally taken the plunge. Youngest daughter turned 18 in February, and I went in with her to get her own tattoo. I've always known what I wanted, it was only a question of where it was going to be. So here it is:

I've been passionate about environmental issues in general and recycling in particular since I was in high school (and contrary to the belief of my daughters, there WAS more than one room in that school). I can't think of anything that I'm so enthusiastic about that I want someone to know where I stand on the issue before I even open my mouth. A tattoo is a pretty good way of doing that. Anyway, I got it done 3 weeks ago, and since it didn't really hurt, I figured I'd get it touched up. I was NOT expecting the pain to double during that little session. I mentioned that to the artist, and he explained to me (without REALLY making me feel like an idiot, honest) that just a scant 3 weeks ago he was jamming lots and lots of ink-filled needles into the exact same place where he was jamming lots and lots of ink-filled needles today. Whether or not it *looks* healed, it is NOT, and if you poke needles into scabs, they hurt worse that the original injury.

So I managed to grimace and bear it, and I will keep it clean and moisturized over the next few weeks until it's ALL healed up. But it really looks nice now - like someone painted it with acrylic paint and outlined it in a non-smearing dark black pen. I'm really happy with it.

Current mood: sore.

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8th February, 2011. 10:30 am. Climbing slowly, carefully, tentatively back in the saddle

The problem that I have with doing this journal is the longer I put off writing stuff down, the more there is to catch up on, and pretty soon, there's just way too much and I can't do it at all. So here I am starting over. I will "catch up" as things cross my mind, or not. I've done some pretty cool stuff since my last update, and since I didn't look before I started writing, I don't even know when that was.

Oof. I just looked. It was almost exactly a year ago. Since that time, I've gone on a week-long cruise to Mexico with Youngest Daughter, went as a guest of NASA to Houston to visit the Johnson Space Center (talk about dream-come-true stuff) went to Ohio to help my sister celebrate my niece Kelly's graduation (Summa Cum Laude) from college, went to the annual family Free-For-All in Maryland, drove with my daughter as she helped her friend move to Seattle, did some racing in the summer and stayed home for Christmas. Eldest daughter moved back from Ohio, but then moved out on her own for several months. After finding the job market a little tighter than she'd expected, she moved back home last month. Youngest Daughter is in her second semester at Utah Valley University (UVU), first as a pre-dance major, now undeclared.

That just about covers the high points, I think. We still have 5 cats. I'm still not working, but Hubby is and we're working to stay afloat financially.

That wasn't so bad. Anyway, here I am!

Current mood: determined.

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12th February, 2010. 10:47 pm. Post-surgery update

No, not mine; Jennifur's. I dropped her off at the spay/neuter clinic this morning at 7am and they told me to pick her up at 3pm. They called me around 2:45 and told me that they were running behind and not to come get her until 4. It wasn't until after I picked her up that I realized that it wasn't that she hadn't yet recovered, but I think they hadn't even done the surgery until shortly before I picked her up.

When I got her, she was still totally freaked out, disoriented and scared half to death. She had no opportunity to wake up before she was put back in the carrier and driven home in a bouncy, noisy truck.

I set up the kennel in the dining room, covered it with a blanket, put a small bowl of water, food and kitty litter in with her, and she seems to finally be sleeping normally now. I'll check on her in the morning, and hopefully, she'll be back to her old self again.

Current mood: worried.

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11th February, 2010. 3:21 pm. prrrrrooowwwOOOOOWWWWooooowwwOOOOOWWW

The subject line is the closest phonetic representation I can make for the noise that is coming out of my little kitten, Jennifur.

I rescued Jennifur when she was probably 2 months old back in October, along with Boo, whom I thought was a boy, turned out to be a girl and we totally fell in love with her, so spayed her, shot her, kept her. Boo, that is.

Jennifur makes cat number 5, which is not really acceptable in the long term - four seems to be the ideal number of cats in this household. My intention was to keep her long enough to socialize her, make sure she's healthy and get her to the rescue organization.

Well, I may have waited a little too long. According to my calculations, she was born around August 15th which makes her just under 6 months. Yesterday afternoon at 2:17 pm she went into heat. Ohmigod she's upsetting the entire household with her wailing and flailing and I've got an appointment with the spay/neuter clinic first thing in the morning. I just hope that they'll spay her when she's in heat.

Poor Mickey is almost 7, was fixed when he was 6 months old, and she just won't leave him alone. Every time she meows, he hisses. And Boo, who was spayed over a month ago, is playing the role of suitor by biting the back of her neck and straddling her. I knew she went both ways, I just *knew* it.

Anyway, Jenni is sleeping now, but I'm afraid that the next 16 hours are going to be a challenge.

Current mood: annoyed.

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10th January, 2010. 9:45 am. Christmas in January

Every year, I, my siblings and our families get together for a week at Christmas. The location rotates between my house in Utah and my siblings' houses in Youngstown, OH, Baltimore, MD and Nashua, NH. Generally, we celebrate the week right around Christmas, and sometimes because of travel plans, we celebrate Christmas on a different day from December 25th, but it's close.

This year, we have several of our children that work in retail, so they couldn't get off either the week before Christmas nor the days after, plus it's a LOT easier to fly non-rev (free - did I mention my sister works for an airline?) other than the week between Christmas and New Year. So we flew to my oldest sister's in Baltimore on Wednesday, January 6th (Youngest Daughter flew out Friday so as not to miss the last two days of the semester and all her final exams) and "Christmas" was yesterday, January 9th. By agreement, since money is extremely tight this year, the only one receiving gifts were the children and each of the adults had one or two that we were responsible for buying gifts for.

My charge was my youngest sister's daughter who is very close to graduating college and only asked for money. I didn't just want to wrap up a $100 bill or something, so I made trips to dollar store and discount places and picked up useful, functional or fun but cheap gifts and enclosed either a 5- or 10-dollar bill in each one. It was fun watching her open them and adding to that ever growing stack of money on the side. I ran out of gifts and still had a $10 bill left, so I folded it into a star burst heart Here is a really great instructional video of how to fold it. I hope she had fun opening them all.

The rest of the time was spent like most of our Christmas vacations together are - 30% cooking, 30% eating, 30% playing games, 10% trying to get the kids to help clean up the mess. It's generally a fun time and even when it gets out of hand (I have nasty scab over my left eye from one such out-of-hand moments) the bad feelings don't last too long.

Hubby and youngest daughter fly back on Tuesday on tickets that we bought (Sis only had 2 available non-rev passes for Eldest Daughter and me) and I will try to find a flight with an empty seat on the same day. It shouldn't be a problem.

Eldest daughter will not be coming back with us. She is traveling on to New Hampshire to move in with her friend and she'll try to make a new start there. Of course I'm a little worried about her, as she has little money and little experience making her way, but she's 19 (20 in February) and old enough to be making her own choices. I wish her luck.

Hope she doesn't mind that I'm renting out her room.

Current mood: cheerful.

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4th November, 2009. 8:21 pm. Kaitlyn: 7/4/1993 - 11/4/2009

Kaitlyn was born around the Fourth of July in 1993, a little more than 4 months after Youngest Daughter was. She was initially adopted into a family that had cat-hating dogs and one day while traveling, she ended up at our house. Not a long journey, it must be said, having only walked through 1 yard on the way here. In any case, we offered her food with no prospect of canine intruders, and she decided that she wanted to stay. She stayed with us for the next 16 years and she had some unique personality traits that endeared her to us.

First of all, she was a lover, and not a very discerning one at that. Anyone that came into the house got the polite request for a pet or a scritch and if that was not forthcoming, you got the patented Kaitlyn Head-Butt. She used that pretty effectively, and on occasion forcefully to remind you that there's a head to be scratched right here, right now if you don't mind, thankyouverymuch.

She was also a talker, especially if you woke her up from a nap. She would chatter at you, and if you talked to her, she'd talk back, carrying on a conversation that would last a few minutes if you kept talking to her.

I've never had a cat that would purr so loudly or so frequently. If she was awake, the chances are good that she was purring, often loud enough to be heard in the next room. She purred for everything: when she was getting pets or eating or when she was comfortable and even when she was terrified, she would purr. Many times, when she went to the vet, they had trouble hearing heart and lung sounds because the sound of her purring would drown them out.

I'm not sure why, but for the last few years she would always accompany me to the bathroom. Even if I got up at 2 in the morning, if she wasn't waiting for me in the hallway (I think she could hear me get out of bed), she would join me after I got there. I think she was certain that I couldn't do it on my own, so she had to be there for moral support.

Kaitlyn was the most easy-going cat you'd ever want to meet. It was easy to pick her up (if you could LIFT her) and put her wherever you wanted to. She hardly ever put up a fight when it was time to give her a pill or liquid medicine and even when she needed bloodwork, she handled needles with grace and aplomb.

All of our cats have "superlative" nicknames. Simon is "The Bravest One" for his victorious match against a yearling boxer that foolishly stuck his head through the kitty door. Mickey is "The Fluffiest One" and Hutchess is "The Smallest One," both for obvious reasons. Kaitlyn has always been "The Prettiest One" because she has such striking markings on her face, including the briefly in-vogue eyeliner look, and rabbit-soft fur on her front. I will miss stroking that fur.

On November 4th, 2009 at 7:45pm MST, Kaitlyn's suffering ended and she went to wait at the Rainbow Bridge for us to join her. She was purring right up until the light faded from her eyes. Kaitlyn, thank you for the time you've given us. Thanks for being a wonderful companion. Thanks for the love you've given and thanks for staying with us as long as you did. I love you and I'll miss you.

Current mood: heartbroken.

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6th October, 2009. 9:13 pm. Feral Kitten Rescue - Days 7 and 8

The kittens have continued to play with each other and separately, which is good news. The little girl kitty slept on my lap today. The boy doesn't like being picked up, but he certainly does like being petted. He has a purr that sounds like boulders in a cement truck, and uses that to good advantage.

Boy has started to grow on me, but I need to get him checked out medically before I start thinking about giving him a name. He still chokes or at least hitches when he's being picked up and I'm not sure what's up with that. I suppose I should at least get the wheels started to get them into the adoption system through Lost Paws.

The good news is that the cat that's been treating them most poorly (Hutchess), today swiped at a tail and ran as if to say, "Come chase me!" Of course the other cats are NOT chasing her because every time they've caught up with her so far, she's turned around and smacked them. Maybe she's starting to come around.

We'll all be one big kitten playground here in a few days, you just wait and see.

Current mood: amused.

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4th October, 2009. 9:33 pm. Feral Kitten Rescue - Day 6

I was up early this morning and my little white boy was up too. My concern about his lack of solitary play seems to have been premature. He's hopping around this morning, attacking imaginary foes all over the place. He'll even play with The Hand, as long as I'm only moving one finger. He loves to be petted, but does not like to be picked up. When I pick him up he scoots backward until he falls out of my arms - or would if I let him. I put him down when he does that, but he needs to be more "cuddlable" if he's going to be adoptable. We'll see.

I noticed something else about the little boy today. He makes really funny noises when he's sleeping. I'm not sure if he's snoring, meowing or wheezing. If I decide to adopt them out myself, I'll probably take him in for a checkup first.

Both kittens were involved in a couple of "firsts" tonight - for them, anyway. It was their first Spaghetti Night, which had 10 humans in attendance, and the first wood stove fire of the season. They handled both okay, though I had to use the spray bottle to keep them away from the wood stove. They'll learn.

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