Hello there! Why, yes – this IS my first post of 2015! Actually, that’s not true. It’s my first post of 2015 for Fuzzy Undertones, but I have been quite busy with my other website, which also has a blog. You can check it out HERE (hint hint…yes, please go check it out!!!). In the meantime, here are some pictures of that time way back in January when I accidentally received a blue oyster mushroom kit and ended up watching them grow over the course of about a week.
Even though I can’t stand eating mushrooms (bleck!), I am mesmerized by their life cycle. And this isn’t the first time I documented mushroom growth…remember that time when one of my houseplants decided to grow yellow parasol mushrooms? So very mesmerizing! I swear, you could see them grow by the hour. And the colors were amazing! Have you ever grown mushrooms, intentionally or not?
And for those of you who were expecting to see a little more cowbell in this post, here you go:
Oh dear. I’ve neglected you, faithful Fuzzy Undertones readers, and I am so sorry. But I’m getting into the holiday spirit, and I’m going to write a post that shares with you some of my very favorite things. Perhaps you will do the same!
To-Do lists, specifically marking things completed (“post for Fuzzy Undertones – check!”)
Completing my certification for Feline Behavior and Training through the Animal Behavior Institute. Three classes since March, over 100 hours of field work, and I only have one final left!
Launching my website for Feline Behavior Solutions and becoming a first-time business owner (the website will be launched very soon – just a couple of minor glitches to fix).
Fixing minor website glitches.
Getting away for Thanksgiving. It’s never been one of my favorite holidays, but Chris and I headed up to Seattle to have lunch with his family, then we spent three nights at the Tulalip casino/resort. It was a much needed mini-vacation, and I am grateful for having such an awesome husby!
Cats to come home to.
Furry Friends. My work with them has been so rewarding and I feel like I’ve actually been doing good, useful and productive things with them. They are so generous and kind, and a constant reminder to me that there are good people in this world.
The relief that comes with finding that the people for whom you’d like to purchase Christmas gifts have up-to-date Amazon Wish Lists (HINT HINT – GET ON IT, PEOPLE!!!).
Zombie Cats from Mars! Have I told you that I’m going to be the cat handler for the feature film, Zombie Cats from Mars? It’s true. I’m not making this up. It’s for real. And the zombie cats are coming. You can help the invasion spread by visiting their kickstarter campaign (there’s a short film about the movie there). And if you want, you can watch this “behind the scenes video” that the producers made about the cats and, well, me. Full disclosure: a) I do not know what was wrong with my hair that day so ignore that, and b) I didn’t know that I would be doing any sort of interview, much less be photographed, so please ignore my general slovenly appearance and most of the words that come out of my mouth. I’ll let you decide which ones.
Anyway, I hope you all have a great holiday season. I’m pretty busy these days, with trying to get my business launched and avoid having my brain eaten by marauding zombie cats and all. But as you can see, I’m checking things off my to-do list, getting things done, TCB. I’ll get there eventually! And I’ll keep you posted 🙂
I know I haven’t been blogging as much lately. But that’s actually a good sign, because it means that I’m busy with some really great things right now. I can’t reveal all at this time, but suffice it to say, I’m thinking about my blogging community (you!) and am missing all the reading and writing that comes with being a part of it.
There’s a new chapter I’m working on right now, and it is taking time to form and shape. But it is moving forward. I’m nearly done with my classes and field hours. I’m scheming and making things more and more solid. With the help from a few folks I’m actually getting things done and checking things off my list.
January 1st, folks…I hope to be in business January 1, 2015. It has been a long time coming. Thanks for your support, and forgiveness for being so vague. Muah! ❤
I’m taking a break from my regularly-scheduled-something-about-cats post and thought I’d share with you some musings that I’ve been thinking about for, oh, let’s say 35 years now. Since I’ve been reading a lot about this topic in the media lately, I thought I’d add in my two cents. And I’ll say right up front: even though this post is about me choosing to not have kids (and including some lightheartedly fun and informative links and memes along the way), I honor your decision to have children (or not). It’s not a choice I’ve made for myself, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good choice for you…so if you have kids and you love them, hooray for you and your kids! Truly, I am happy for you.
But let’s get back to talking about me, because this is my blog. I’m forty years old, and I’ve noticed something – my entire life, people have asked me about whether or not I’m going to have kids. But as I’ve aged, those questions have changed, morphing to reflect my (I can only assume) biological child-bearing status. Because I’m getting up there, right? And that biological clock is a-ticking!
Well, hold on there a second, pard’ner, because that biological clock? I’ve never heard it tick, not once. It’s probably one of those fancy digital types, or maybe that’s too presumptuous. I might not be that evolved, so maybe it’s like a sun-dial, or whatever it was that the Mayans used to track time. The fact is, I’ve never wanted children, even when I was a child myself.
When I was about five, I remember going on a walk with my mom when I was visiting her in L.A. There was a woman who lived down the street from us who didn’t have kids, and I was always kind of nervous around her because of that. I asked my mom, “Mommy, is it against the law to not have kids?” and my mom actually chuckled a little bit and said something like “Of course not! You don’t have to have kids, or you can have as many as you want!” The reason why I remember this so clearly is because of the immense sense of relief I felt; it was as if a burden had been lifted from my five-year-old shoulders. Up until that point, I believed that I had to have children; I had already received the message that because I was a girl, I would grow up to be a mommy.
Not unlike other girls, I had a doll named Mandy whom I used to take everywhere with me. But really, she was much more of a friend or a sister that I took care of, and people talked with me like I was her mother and she was my baby, and that actually pissed me off. I really hated that people assumed that I was Mandy’s mommy! I resented it. It irritated me that people made assumptions about me because of my gender, and I was keenly aware of that, even when I was five years old.
Then, in my teens and twenties, the lecturing started. The inevitable question would be asked: “do you want kids?” My response was always the same – no. And it’s funny, because I think that when people ask that question, they don’t expect you to be honest – they expect you to say yes. The responses to me were always so dismissive or (again) presumptuous: “oh, you’ll change your mind when you get older”, “when you meet the right man, you’ll want to have his children”, “but women are supposed to have children”, and all the rest. Ugh! I just saw this as so disrespectful of me being an individual, with my own identity, hopes and desires for my future. And, it reinforced in me that there is a huge expectation of women to become moms…otherwise, there’s probably something wrong with you. Because I didn’t feel the desire to have children, obviously I had a problem!
In my early 30’s, I got a reprieve. Most people had stopped asking me if or when I was going to have kids. The reason for this, I suspect, is due to two things: first, most people knew me well enough to assume that a question about my reproductive intentions would elicit a reaction from me that would earn the questioner a swift punch in the throat. Secondly (and I’m ok with acknowledging this), most people were probably scared that “the question” might actually encourage me to really think about having kids, and WHO KNOWS what kind of terror would be unleashed upon the world by humans that carry my genetic legacy.
Since I’ve moved and have a new suite of friends and coworkers, the questions have resumed. But, like I mentioned earlier, the questions have changed now that I’m forty. Now, it’s not so much “are you going to have kids?” but “do you have kids?” and I still get mildly irritated by even that question! However, at this point, I can laugh at myself. My responses are more about my own identity and individuality than it ever was: “HEY! Do I look and act mature enough to have kids???” and “puhleeeeze…why would I have kids? Being taken care of when I’m old…that’s what spoiling nieces and nephews is for!” and even more frequently, “Hell no…cats cause enough stress in my life, and you want me to add to the mix small humans who can’t do anything for themselves except create messes and noxious bodily emissions? Disaster!!!” At this point, the fact that others can’t look at me and immediately determine that I don’t have kids is not my fault, and frankly, I’m a little judgmental about their inability to judge me. So hey – if you want to ask me if I have kids (or even when I’ll have kids), that’s on you. You might be my friend, my colleague, or even a relative, but your perceptiveness score has just gone down a notch in my book.
Honestly, for me, it’s not about being stubborn, radical, hating children (which is not the case, but even if it were, that’s still perfectly valid), having a sucky childhood, being depressed, or any number of assumptions that people make about child-free people. I’ve watched my parents divorce and remarry (several times), and have seen great suffering on the part of children who have parents who aren’t up to the task of having kids (I know that sounds judgy, but seriously – there are so many unhappy kids out there whose problems start at home). I saw a great article in Salon on reasons why the article’s author felt that not having kids was the best decision she ever made. I related so much to her words, and this especially struck home:
Those of us who opt out of having children often do so not because we take parenthood lightly, but because we take it so seriously.” — Liz Langley
Kids were just never in the cards for me. I never imagined myself as an adult with kids – I imagined myself as an adult who worked, traveled, had a quiet and calm home, and who had plenty of time for myself and my husband (and my cats). And here I am, just as I imagined. This was what I envisioned, and how I choose to live a fulfilled life. And that’s plenty of living for me.
The end of summer is nigh…and there is so much to catch up on from just a few days of traveling! And since a picture is worth a thousand words, probably the best way to tell you what Chris and I have been up to is to show you what we’ve been up to. How’s that? This post will be mostly about the trip we took at the end of July, which we split between Seattle and San Juan Island. Ready for the recap? Swell!
First up, Chris and I stayed at Tulalip for three nights so that we could [both get pedicures and] attend his high school class 20th year reunion in Seattle. It was weird – even though I didn’t know anyone there, I could still see all the cliques and kind of tell who was who. Everyone was trying to impress everyone else. I can’t say that I’m terribly disappointed that I missed mine last year; between Chris and me, one 20 year reunion was enough! But Chris was happy that he went because catching up with a couple of old close friends was worth it.
The next day was Chris’ 38th birthday. Now he’s only two years younger than me and can’t make fun of me for being super older than him. I took him out to a really nice dinner, because I’m sweet like that ❤
We spent Sunday traveling over to the San Juan Islands. We caught the ferry at Anacortes and took it to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island proper. The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful! We stayed at a nice little bed and breakfast right downtown, where we had our own little apartment complete with private hottub and magically-appearing fresh-baked cookies. And the breakfasts were Ah. Maze. Ing. Nom nom nom!
One of the highlights of our trip was taking a five hour sea-kayaking tour. There were only six of us on the tour, plus our guide, Owen. We left out of Roche Harbor and kayaked completely around Henry Island, which was about 11 miles in all. The weather was completely fantastic – sunny, a slight breeze, and warm. We saw a pair of bald eagles, and a little red fox joined us on our lunch break. We also saw plenty of harbor seals, but whenever I got my camera out, they dunked underwater. Why do they have to be such camera haters? The most amazing part of the trip happened about halfway through our day when we saw approaching orcas – K-pod, to be exact. I don’t know how many we saw, but they did come fairly close; one female swam under our kayaks to get to a younger orca that was headed toward us along the shoreline. It was really cool being so low on the water, watching them surface and blow, and even breach. It was Chris’ first time kayaking (my second) and I’d say it was a success!
But wait! There’s more, yes, still more! The final full day of our vacation was spent driving around the Island, stopping wherever we thought would be interesting. We saw both English Camp (hip hip hooray!) and English Camp (sad) AND I got my NPS passport stamps at both places, we stopped for an unexpected visit to some tidepools, said hi to a few shy alpacas, were astounded (and slightly dismayed) by the gastrointestinal parasites of pinnipeds at The Whale Museum, and bought a few treats at a lavender farm (the lavender ice cream was nom-tastic). Here’s a quick tour!
The Whale Museum
English Camp – so pretty!
Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm
Lime Kiln Point, roughly
American Camp – so ghetto
Pelindaba Lavender Farm
Thanks for joining me on my little vacation retrospective. We had a great time, plus I got to meet this guy and his dog!
Holy schnikies! It’s August already, and here I am, having fallen behind on posting. I have no idea where this summer has gone, although I know where I’ve gone, and those places have been many, far and wide. It has been a great summer, aside from that whole having to work thing that I’ve got going on right now. I love going on vacations, and traveling with my Fuzzy Huzby is always an adventure! And since I’m a little behind, I think I’m going to do mostly a pictorial post today about some of our summer travels.
First up was the family reunion that we went to in Durango, Colorado. Every couple of years or so, my dad’s side of the family (the Koski’s) get together for schmoozin’ and boozin’. This summer, my Uncle Paul and Aunt Renee, who live in Nucla, Colorado, picked Durango for our clan’s gathering. It was a short weekend, but Chris and I packed in a lot of action and adventure!
Everyone who made it to Koski-palooza 2013.
Saturday: Mesa Verde National Park
Chris and I grabbed our cousin Heidi and spent Saturday climbing all over the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, just outside of Durango. First we took the Balcony House tour, where we had to climb up ladders and go through tight tunnels. Then we toured Cliff Palace. Both sites were amazing, but for me, a highlight was letting my big nerd self buy the “Explorer” edition of the National Park Passport and getting a couple of Mesa Verde stamp cancellations!!! Woo hoooooo!!! (Also, I might have purchased ALL yearly stamp collections from 1986 to the present. Also, I might have the Passport App on my iPhone. Also, I might have a problem with being too obsessive about this whole thing.)
Sunday: Narrow-Gauge Train to Silverton
The next day, the whole family took the historic narrow-gauge train from Durango to Silverton, which largely followed the Animas River between the two towns. It’s about a 2.5 hour ride each way, so I occupied my time taking selfies with various people, drinking smuggled Fireball Whiskey with my cousins on the DL, and enjoying the fresh air (which was nicely flavored with freshly burned coal from the steam engine, cough cough cough). Want to see some pictures? Great! I have some!
We smashed pennies!
I stole the brakeman’s cap
Letting off some steam
Me and my dad ❤
The Animas River
Always, with the tongue!!!
It was a really enjoyable trip, but I must say, it was way too short. I feel like I didn’t really get a chance to talk with many people, other than the usual pleasantries and quick updates. I did spend some time hanging out with my Aunt Tje, which was great because I think we’re both somewhat introverted and share some things in common. And, it was really awesome hanging out with my cousin Heidi for the day – I love that she’s grown into such a smart, fun and laid-back young woman! Colorado, and especially Durango, is a beautiful place and I realized that I do miss that landscape. Another successful family reunion…check!
I’ve gotten in a little bit of a rut around exercise (see my recent posts on roller derby, any of them) so I decided to start biking to work again (which may just help me with endurance and my 27-in-5 goals). I pulled my mountain bike out of the shed, dusted it off and tested the brakes when – SNAPPO! – one of the brake cables gave out. One of the brake lines went slack and I couldn’t see how to fix it, so I said “eff this…I’m getting a new bike”! Actually, I’d been wanting a new bike for a while because my mountain bike wasn’t great for biking to work – it’s pretty heavy, and just slow and cumbersome. So after some advice and browsing, I came home from The Bike Gallery with this beauty, a brand new Trek Allant!
It’s a super sweet ride just perfect for the trendy bike commuter – fenders, large squishy seat for my bum, and angled grips to keep my hands from falling asleep. I sit all upright, like Mary Poppins, or more accurately, the Wicked Witch of the West. I breezed to work this morning and barely broke a sweat! Of course, the best part about a new bike is pimping it out with awesome accessories, like my new bike bell:
And just to share all the bicycling fun, here’s an ear-worm for you. Maybe you’ll be inspired to get your bike out, too! (Okay, so this is the official music video and there *might* be (or, more accurately, is) some nudity in it, but seriously, it isn’t any worse/better than the World Naked Bike Ride, held in Portland every year. Enjoy!)
What I remember, when I was maybe four years old, is staring up at the night sky through the back window of my father’s hatchback. We were on the road and it was dark, except for the billions of stars above me. I could feel the tires of the car, a flesh-colored Volkswagen Dasher, on the highway, and it was so late at night, or maybe so early in the morning. I was tired, but being lulled back to sleep by the movement of the car, the smell of the car’s dry heat coming from the plastic vents, and the soft glow of the lights in the dashboard. My brother, a year and a half younger, was asleep next to me. It is a brief memory, but one that I have held onto for some reason.
The events surrounding the memory are a little less clear. I seem to recall my dad waking me up in the middle of the night – or was it early morning and still dark? – and telling me and my brother to get up, that we were going. I can’t remember if the car was packed with our belongings. Previous to that night, I don’t remember my dad packing our things, or telling us we were moving, although I’m sure he did and I was just too young to really know what it meant. I don’t remember arriving at our destination, or if a moving truck was involved. I didn’t know at the time why we were moving.
It was the first time though, that I remember knowing, really understanding, that my mother was not with us, would not be joining us along the way, and would not meet us there. I didn’t know when my brother and I would see her again. I worried that she wouldn’t know how to find us. I worried that we would not see her again, or that perhaps we would be too old and that she wouldn’t recognize us.
And as those stars slipped across the night sky, as we dashed along the highway moving from our home in Wisconsin to our new home in Oklahoma, the distance between me and my mother seemed to grow greater and greater, until we became no closer than the nearest stars in the sky.
This is Day 4 of Writing 101. Today’s assignment was to: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. And the twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.
I really struggled with this post in that I couldn’t think of what to write about, let alone how to incorporate it into a three-post trilogy. I thought of all kinds of losses – people, pets, objects, games…but nothing really stood out, until I found this memory, lurking in the corner of my mind. It wasn’t a permanent loss; today, my mother is very much a part of my life, I am happy to say. I’m not quite sure how this will start my trilogy, but I’ll think of something, eventually!
And now for a little bit of audience participation. I need your help, dear readers, in providing me with a key component of a story I’m trying to unfold. A mystery, an intrigue. A true story (up until this point), and when finished, a potentially entirely true story but likely only partially true story, depending upon the accuracy with which you are able to use the clues I’m going to give you to provide me with the missing piece of this tale. Are you ready?
Meet my neighbors across the street (or at least take a look at their house):
The House Across the Street, aka the House of Mysteries!
Let me set the stage: we live on a normal street, in a normal neighborhood. Our houses are all ranch-style, built in the 1950s (when people evidently didn’t need any closets or counter space). Our houses are fairly nice – kept up, yards managed, pleasant. Except for the house across the street. Note the following:
Blinds drawn on all windows all of the time
Front porch light left on all of the time
Front yard consists of gravel, which also serves as a driveway to a gravel parking lot in the back (where the back yard should be)
Crumbling paint job and general shoddy appearance
Yellow sign and stickers in all windows advertising the security company that protects this gem of a home from potential robberies
Who remembers Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched?
I’ve lived across the street from this house for over three years now, and about a year ago came to the conclusion that this house is some sort ofbusiness. Two or three cars arrive every morning at about the time I leave for work; I usually see one normal-looking, middle-aged woman (the same woman, daily) park on the street and enter the home in the back entrance. Occasionally, an unmarked white van (it looks like a utility type van, not a passenger van) will park in the driveway or go around back. For the past year, I’ve been trying to figure out what type of business this could possibly be. Are they making or packaging meth? Is this some sort of prostitution ring? Are they breeding small monkeys for circuses and fairs and shuttling them in and out of the house with the vans? I don’t see a lot of strange men visiting, nor do I detect any odd fumes wafting through our neighborhood, so I think that rules out the first two possibilities. But the third??? Hmmm…
Last week, as I was backing out of my driveway and the woman I usually see was locking up her car at the start of our day, I seized my golden opportunity to get more information. I rolled down my window. “Excuse me…hello?” The woman looked up at me and smiled. “Hi! Just curious, but what type of business is this?” She paused, and said, “oh, it’s a tax business.” I wrinkled my nose, puzzled and disappointed. “Oh, ok…thanks.” I drove away.
Wait a minute, LIES, all LIES!!! When I got to work, the first thing I did was search for “tax business” in the vicinity of my address. It took a little digging around, but a business did pop up – Jackson Hewitt. But since when does a Jackson Hewitt tax service look like THIS??? I’m thinking it’s got to be a front. I, for one, would not be surprised at all if there were indeed small primates being bred in that house!
Here’s where YOU come in. Tell me, WHAT KIND OF OPERATION IS GOING ON IN THIS HOUSE??? Leave your ideas and thoughts in a comment, and I will try to incorporate the winning idea (or ideas, or maybe even all of them) in a short story or poem or diorama or some other medium of my choosing. What do you think is happening here? Should I be scared? Are they missing some key permits? Are they underground because they can’t meet some sort of compliance or regulation? Are they building something? Are they harboring space aliens? Are they under quarantine for an infectious disease and the women who visit daily are there to feed the infected??? What do you think? LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW, PLEASE, and I’ll choose the winner(s) at the end of June! Good luck – I can’t wait to find out what my neighbors are up to!
**UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE** This morning, I saw the other woman (who, incidentally, always arrives in a newer model black Mustang, so I assume there’s money actually involved in this business) enter the house with a small bouquet of flowers. Who are the flowers for? Is it the birthday of the lady that I talked to? Or maybe they are for one of the lepers that they must have impounded in their basement? And YES, THEY HAVE A BASEMENT.
This past weekend I started on my path to doing pet therapy work on a volunteer basis. This means that I took an all-day class on the human component of a therapy animal team. The class is offered by Pet Partners and is the first step in becoming registered to do animal therapy with your pet – you know, visiting people in hospitals, retirement and nursing homes, schools, prisons, and other places where people can benefit from having a visit from animals. I’m SOOOO looking forward to being a part of this!
But did you know that the vast majority of therapy animals are dogs??? The course instructor had never taught anyone who wanted to use their cat as a therapy animal, but Pet Partners certainly supports it. To the instructor’s credit, he did his best to answer my cat questions and even invited me to attend a cat evaluation the next day, which was also very informative.
Please don’t get me wrong – I really do like dogs, but obviously I am a cat person. And I like dog people too, but obviously, I am a cat person. I was a little nervous about being trapped with hanging out with a bunch of dog people for the entire day, but they really were friendly and nice, just as I expected them to be; I just didn’t know how much I would have in common with them. And to be fair, cat people can be kind of weird, too. But man, they sure do get passionate about various breeds and talking about the differences between all the various types of doggies! This made me think, just as there are personality differences between breeds, surely there are personality differences between dog people and cat people. So I did a little investigating. And here’s what I found:
Interesting, yes? And for those of you who want a little more detail, I found these stats from DeathandTaxesMag.com:
I don’t know how true these figures are, but they sound about right to me. Perhaps this can be best illustrated by the following video, which has been floating around for a while, but I love it:
Hmmmm…on second thought, perhaps using cats as therapy animals might be a bit more challenging than I was expecting. So, if you have any hints or advice for me, feel free to let me know. Anyone? Anyone???
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