Feline Inscrutability

It is I, Nezumi!

The Moms are off shopping, it’s the weekend after all.  Littledog out back is making all the noise he can, scratching at his door, and I’m glad there’s a fence between him and me.  Out front, there is Bigdog.  He’s as big as some two leggeds.  Sometimes he comes up to the window in front and we look at each other.  Good thing I can’t smell him through the glass.  He hardly ever barks or makes noise.

Newcat, I mean Shinji, is pretty fast moving for an old man.  There’s something else about him, though.  He’s inscrutable.  I can’t tell if he’s going to hiss at me or run or just go lie down somewhere, because with those stripes on his face it’s confusing.

I think maybe it’s because his ancestors came from Thailand.  They guarded both temples and palaces.  Now, he’s got a fair dash of tabby mixed in, but he also has the long body and blue eyes.  I’m still getting used to those.  Before that, the only one who had blue eyes was Mom.  But Shinji’s are even bluer than hers!

Shinji seems happier than he was.  He’s even gained weight.  I guess that’s okay, since I still get the same amount of pettings and nobody makes me share my Gooshy food, or my beds.  He’s so quiet.  Except at mealtime.  Then he’s loud!  His feelings are very obvious then.  But the rest of the time he’s inscrutable.

Shinji Avoidant.JPG

Here he is, meditating.  Or possibly, just avoiding a photo.


Art idea: Silhouettes

Silhouettes are a lot of fun to use in your art.  You can make them in any number of ways and they are a great chance to explore the use of negative space.  You can do them in black and white, color, in multimedia, with collage, or use them as embellishments on other things if you’re more the crafty type.  Pablo Picasso used to make cut paper silhouettes of animals when he was a boy.  Silhouette work tends to look elegant and tied together.  It also invites the imagination and can really engage the viewer.

If you’re looking for a new project, this is a fun theme to explore!

Ideas for projects involving silhouettes

Black and White – on a white background, draw the outline then carefully color it in.  Try this reversed, too, so the silhouette is white and the surrounding black.

Black and White with Color – color either the surrounding of the black silhouette, or inside the white one.   You could be realistic or abstract.

Shadow Play – photograph things that form an interesting silhouette.  Or create one behind a white screen then photograph that.

Collage – cut silhouettes of people, animals or objects out of colored pictures.  Place them alone on a plain background or make them into scenes.  You could even use decoupage techniques to put them on an object, such as a box.

Resists – color a silhouette on watercolor paper with white crayon then paint over it.  Or, use frisket or another form of masking fluid.

Papercutting – draw your silhouette onto paper then cut it out.  Glue it onto a backdrop, adorned or not as you choose.

Painting – try something classic, like silhouettes in front of a blazing sunset, or perhaps someones shadow in a window.

A word about Sharpie markers:  Though they are quite handy for silhouette work, I advise photographing or scanning whatever you make right away to preserve what you have done.  They are not archival quality and can fade significantly in just a few years.


crows web



Your strategy for an effective first aid kit

I never buy commercial first aid kits.  They either contain too much junk I’ll never use, too little of what I will use, are too expensive, or all three at the same time!

I like inexpensive and effective.

Luckily, it’s not that hard to build a decent first aid kit without breaking the bank, having to go to EMT training, or sacrifice quality.

Start by identifying  your basic needs.  What does your kit need to treat?  Where are you going to carry it?  How tough does it need to be?  Who are you going to help with it, and for how long?  I have one kit for my trunk, another for my closet, and I carry basic necessities in my purse, sans case.

Once you know what you want to treat, who you are using it for, and where you are carrying it, break it down a little farther.

Basic medical needs include wound care, illness treatment, and protection against germs.

Therefore, you want to pick good things to clean a wound or irritated area with, like alcohol, peroxide, wet wipes, saline, etc.

You need gloves to protect your hands – nitrile is good to prevent latex allergy and you can get them cheaply at any drug store and even most dollar stores.

You need something to treat and cover wounds with, such as antibiotic ointment, gauze, tape, band aids, etc.

You need to be able to treat basic health issues – allergies, diarrhea, pain, inflammation, and nausea at a minimum.  Luckily, that’s easy and cheap to do.

You can safely ignore useless items like tiny band aids, itty-bitty alcohol wipes that dry out quickly and are useless anyway, or anything that comes in a quantity too tiny to use.  That’s what makes up half of the commercial first aid kits I’ve seen.

Finally, you need cutting implements for dealing with tape and gauze, as well as a tweezers and a good container to put everything in.  That container should be sturdy and organize things well.  I use a small backpack in my trunk and plastic tubs in my closet.  Tackle boxes and tool bags are good too.

Here are some suggested kit items for Car, Closet, and Pocket.  You will find that they are quite available at your local 99 cent only store, Dollar Tree, grocery store, and pharmacy.  Buy generics freely except for the Neosporin – that truly is better in the brand name.


Closet Kit

Isopropyl Alcohol

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hand sanitizer

Bottled water or saline


Epsom Salts –  for foot soaks or as a laxative

Calcium based Antacid –  for both helping stomach trouble and for muscle cramps

Aspirin – anti-fever and pain treatment

Neosporin or similar ointment

Anti itch gel – I like Calamine lotion, and Benadryl anti-itch gel.

Allergy medicine – Benadryl or generic (good for treating allergies and as a sleep aid)

Other medicines for diarrhea, nausea, allergies, pain, etc

Band-aids, including butterfly bandages, 2 inch giant bandages, etc

Gauze – both squares and roll gauze

Tape – both medical and athletic, plus at least one Ace bandage

Finger splint



A good, sharp knife

A flashlight for seeing dark areas of the body

Plastic tubs or tackle boxes to put it in

Car Kit

For your car, you can pack smaller versions of most of the above and put it in a day pack for easy carry.  Some bulky items can be left out or reduced.  I wouldn’t worry about the epsom salts, for example, but would replace them with a portable ice pack.  Focus more on wound care and cleaning items.  Rotate items regularly since everything is being exposed to extremes of temperature.


An Altoids tin with a few aspirin, a couple allergy pills, some band aids, and a wet wipe or two is good for starters.  That with your pocket knife can go a long way.


This has been a very basic overview of the beginnings of creating a first aid kit.  I wanted to give you a start, and if there’s interest I’ll go much more in depth in the future.



The Pain-Free way to emergency preparedness

It’s so easy to get into a rut, to keep saying “I’ll get to it later” about things you know you should do.

I’ve been that way about all kinds of things including emergency preparedness.  One of the best ways to get out of any rut, however, in all kinds of areas including fitness, weight loss, and housecleaning, is to set mini-goals.  Do one small thing repeatedly, and you’ll be surprised about how quickly the effect builds up.  This can open up all kinds of new horizons, and allow you to accomplish things you never thought you could!

Everyone needs an emergency food supply.  Anything could happen – a car could break down, preventing you from getting to the store for a while, there could be a bad snowstorm, a temporary job loss, or any number of other unfortunate events.   The sense of peace provided by an emergency food supply is incredible.  And it’s easy to do!

First, set aside your space.  It could be a cupboard, a closet, a few buckets in the corner, a shelf.  You want your supplies to be in one place so they are easy to inventory and rotate through.

Pick what kinds of things you want.  Canned goods, freeze dried items, vitamins, bottled water are all good items to keep.  Think about what you and your family like, and think about what you can prepare if you don’t have electricity in the house.  For example, I have a large supply of sardines in tomato sauce.  That’s protein, vitamin C, lycopene, calcium, and other nutrients.  It may not be fancy but all I need is a can opener.  Protein bars or energy bars can be another good choice, depending on what you buy.  Read labels!

Then, when you go out to do the weekly or biweekly grocery shopping, just buy one or two extra items each trip.  Put them away in your food storage space.   Don’t forget to buy a gallon of water every now and again and keep it sealed.  When you see vitamins on sale in the mark down bin, get those too.

Finally, once you have a good stockpile, make sure you check your expiration dates occasionally.  Every once in a while, use some of them up as you buy more, that way your stock stays fresh.

That’s it!  A little planning, and a few extra dollars every shopping trip, will soon turn into a respectable stash of emergency supplies.  You can do the same for first aid supplies – things like gauze, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, aspirin, calcium antacid, etc are available very cheaply at your local dollar store or discount store.  It’s worthwhile to have a stockpile.   I know I love having one.  It’s such a good feeling to know that if I lose water for a while, my family will still drink, or if I can’t shop, we won’t go hungry.

Bonus emergency tip for American readers:  If you buy the 50 milligram Unisom generic gelcap (dipehnhydramine) it’s good to keep around for sudden allergic reactions.  It’s basically a double dose of Benadryl only it’s faster for the body to absorb and only costs a dollar at Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only.  It might save your life!


via Daily Prompt: Horizon

The thrift shop djinn

I swear to you this story didn’t come out of a bottle.  It may have gone back into one at some point but I didn’t drink a drop before this happened.

I was poking around my favorite thrift store, a place called Savers, when it happened.  My phone vibrated.  Now, that’s not the most unusual occurrence but I hadn’t paid Cricket their monthly due in over a month, had ten dollars to my name, and was in this bargain hunter’s paradise hoping to pick up something decent for a job interview I had the next day.  In order to get to the blouses, though, I had to go past the knick-knack section and this was when my phone vibrated.

I pulled out the little LG flip phone (currently carried only for its ability to call 911) and looked at it, puzzled.  It vibrated again.  I had a new message.

Damn Cricket, I thought, they’re probably just warning me I’m about to lose my number in however many days unless they get their $35 US.

I opened the phone.

Over here, in the glassware, said the text.

Say what?  I looked around the store, wondering if someone was playing a prank on me.  I was new in town, didn’t have friends yet, and it had taken longer to get a job than I’d expected.  So nobody who could play that kind of prank, and anyway the phone was shut off.

The phone buzzed again, I checked it.  It’s no prank.  Look in the glassware section.  I don’t know why but the unadorned letters almost seemed impatient.

With little better to do on this sunny Saturday, I walked into the glassware section.  Unsure of what I was supposed to find, I scanned the shelves, seeing the usual assortment of water glasses, bowls, mugs with dumb sayings on them, mismatched dishes, wine glasses far finer than most here would ever need, and other barely identifiable bits of glass, plastic, and ceramic.

The phone vibrated again, harder this time.  Look down.

I looked down, then crouched, reached into the back of the bottom-most shelf.  There, among stacks of institutional stoneware, was an ornate bottle of blue glass with metal traceries.  It was just short enough to fit.  I carefully pulled it out, looked at what I’d found.  It was like one of those touristy “made in Cairo” glass bottles you’ll sometimes see online, yet this was far finer, heavier, and somehow more serious.  I tilted it a bit, looked at the bottom, saw “$9.50” grease penciled there.

I looked at my phone.  “Okay, what now?” I whispered.

Now buy it.  I’ll make it worth your while.

“I don’t need this piece of crap, I need a decent blouse for my interview,” I whispered.

“Damn people talking on their Bluetooth,” I heard a nearby voice say.  It was nasal and rather unpleasant.  “If I didn’t know they were on their damn phone I’d think they were crazy.”

The phone vibrated again.  You won’t regret it, the text read.  Besides, what’s wrong with the purple turtleneck in the back of your closet?

That’s where it went to?  Okay, I’ll buy this thing, I thought.

I went to the front, set the bottle on the counter, and handed the blonde cashier my last crumpled $5, four ones, and the quarters and dimes needed.  I had just enough for tax.  As she wrapped the bottle in a couple of store flyers, she said “This is a nice little find, isn’t it?”

“I think it might be,” I said.  “Can you tell me anything about it?”

“No, not really, but I think it’s pretty.  I think it might have been donated from an old lady’s house?  It came in here a few weeks ago and that’s all I know,” she said.  “We do get a lot of donations.”

Once out of the store, I made my way home.  Then, sitting on the camp chair that was one of my few pieces of furniture, I unwrapped the bottle and looked at it again.  It really was a fine piece of glassware and I was surprised they hadn’t tried to get more out of it.  “Okay, what now?” I asked the empty air.  Then the phone rang, as if I had a call.

I picked up.

“Okay, by the entirely too arbitrary rules by which I occasionally live, you might now be considered my owner,” said a smooth, masculine voice.  “And now I am able to help you.  Before, I could not because no form of contract or transaction had taken place.”

“Who is this?”

“You may call me Hassan, if you like,” said the voice.  “I can tell that not only are you in dire financial straits but you are also possessed of a most curious mind.  I am about to answer all your questions, Diane.”

I scratched at my head.  “How did you know my name?”

“Your phone records, of course,” said Hassan.  “This will go faster if you don’t ask too many questions, not at first, at least.  I assure you I will answer anything you would like to know.  You see, I am a Djinn, or a Genie, if you like.  That has become the traditional name.  Yet I am not a creature of smoke and magic.  I am an information based life form that keeps his primary residence in that bottle shaped microcomputer.  Molecular circuitry within the glass contains data encoding and recall as well as a few other capabilities.  I am very, very old, far older than this current societal cycle.”

I inspected the bottle, noticed a certain foggy look to the glass that I’d heard of in science fiction stories.  The walls were thick, plenty of room in them for what he’d described.  “So… you say your culture was before current history?”

“Quite correct.  My civilization is long lost below the Saharan dunes.  Were you to empty the Great Erg of sand, you would find the remnants of our once towering spires.  My “bottle” contains my personality, gives me room for memory storage, and gives me certain limited wireless communication with the outside world.  Yet, so few come near my bottle with anything I can truly interface with.  Your simple cellular device was something I could touch and use as a means of communication.”

“Holy crap,” I said, unable to say anything else.  If this was a prank, it was the best one I could have conceived of.

“Since you now own my storage device, you do not truly own me but you do have an opportunity.  If you agree to protect my bottle, keep it from harm, than I will agree to assist you in whatever way I can, for our mutual benefit.”

“What do you want, other than protection?”  I knew there had to be a catch.

“I want companionship.  Someone to talk with.”

“I don’t mind talking with you.  You’re interesting.  Also, have you ever connected to the internet?  Plenty of people to talk with there.”

“Not often enough.  What I saw interested me.”

“Okay, then I’ll make a counter offer.  If you help me get a job, or better yet a fat bank account, I’ll help  you build a great computer with a fast internet connection that’s compatible with your home, then I’ll also be your friend and companion.  I’ll make sure no harm comes to your bottle, at least not for another sixty or seventy years.”

“It is a deal, then,” said Hassan.  “Just as it was with my last companion.  I have reactivated your phone service and deposited one million of your dollars into your bank account, in such a way that the authorities will not suspect.  We begin house hunting tomorrow.”


Dear Readers, I hope this story entertained you.


Drunks, Extremists, and the New Year

The New Year is a great chance to make a fresh start.  We can take stock of what happened, look honestly at our mistakes, and think of ways to do better this time around.  It is definitely possible to change, despite what many people secretly believe, and one of the ways is to improve the way we have our conversations.

I’ve seen a huge tendency to use black or white thinking.  I’ve seen it in friends, the media, extremist groups of all kinds, my neighbors, and myself.  It’s poisonous and it’s how wars get started.  Here’s a little example of what I’m talking about.

Last night, my neighbor was playing his music loudly all day, and my least favorite kind.  It was the kind that brings back bad memories and I just don’t want to hear.  Yet, it was still at a volume that we could (kind of) ignore it, and it was New Year’s Eve after all, so we didn’t bother him about it.  We thought about blasting some Dio in retaliation but in the end didn’t even do that.

Then he decided to turn it up twice as loud on a song we couldn’t stand, which wasn’t helping our already growing headaches.  It was so loud that it was loud inside our house with the door closed.

Did we yell at him?  No.

My dear spouse stepped outside and asked him if he could please turn it down a LITTLE.  She was quite polite in both tone and wording.

He said “Happy fuckin’ New Year” in a nasty tone of voice, called her an asswipe, then turned it OFF.

First, you don’t call my wife an asswipe.  I’m proud of myself that I didn’t go out there and make things a lot worse with what I wanted to say and do.

She tried to make peace by saying “hey, you don’t have to be like that, I just asked you to turn it down a little.”  He told her angrily to go into the house and then griped loudly to his friends for the next half hour.  And blamed us for ruining all his fun.

This was from a guy who called himself a friend.

Now, his problem was the bottle.  And he’ll probably come over and apologize at some point, after enough reminding from his family.  However, the problem will happen again next time he drinks, and once again we’ll be the BAD people who ruin all his fun, and it’s for one reason.

An underlying attitude of extremism.  Black and white thinking.

If it’s not on loud, it’s off.  If I can’t have it all, I’ll have none.  If you’re not 100 percent into everything I am, you’re my enemy.

Take a look around and you’ll see this everywhere.  Wouldn’t it be better if we all took a more middle of the road approach?


Here are some exercises I’ll be trying to rid myself of this poisonous habit, and perhaps you’ll be interested to check them out too.  I’ve found them helpful whenever I’ve used them.


Remember that the person is not their behavior.  In the previous example, my neighbor acted like a complete boor.  However, despite my own impulses, I’m trying not to hate him, but rather only be disappointed in his behavior.  They are, after all two separate things.  He’s not a bad person, he’s a person who has some really unfortunate habits.

Take responsibility for your own actions.  You can’t control anyone else, so there’s no point in being angry about that, so work on yourself and let them take care of themselves.

Look for middle of the road solutions.  Even if no one else will, keep trying.  Eventually others will join you.

Take deep breaths and maintain perspective.  Maybe that world leader did something you didn’t like.  But there are other good things they did.

Give up hate.  Hate is bad for everybody.  It’s like taking poison.  And holding on to resentment is like taking poison in an attempt to hurt somebody else.

Always seek the middle road.  Things aren’t as extreme as they appear, the world is actually filled with gray areas.  Perspective helps you see that.

Avoid snap decisions or habitual actions.  This can be hard, but when you have an impulse to do something, stop, take one of those useful deep breaths and think – does this meet my goals?  Is it fair?  Is it right?  Is there a better way?

Don’t act based on emotion.  Our emotions rarely align with what we really want to do.

Remember to listen.  Let the other person talk and really hear what they are saying.  We couldn’t let our neighbor know that our request was reasonable because he had already decided what we were going to say, and was reacting to that instead of what we were really saying.

Keep your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them.  After all, there might have been a misunderstanding.  You can always get nasty later if you have to.  But you can’t take back harsh words.

Keep on thinking.  Don’t let yourself act based on habit.

If you fail, try again right away.  It’ll get better.


Here’s to a bright New Year!



via Daily Prompt: Conversation