Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In the bleak midwinter...

Ah, December 30. Christmas is over and I managed to accomplish somewhere around 90% of the things on my list. I did not manage to get the kitchen trim or crown molding done, and the dogs still haven't had their baths and won't be getting them for a week or two yet as Kita just had surgery to remove six fatty tumors from his head and belly so he can't have a bath until the stitches are out in ten days or so. I managed to finish all my shopping at the last minute but I decided to do a somewhat simplified route for the gift wrap (read: the gifts were wrapped, but nowhere near the level of Martha Stewart's wrapping. And I am perfectly ok with that.)

And although I am glad to finally be done with all the shopping and wrapping for another year, I am sad to see Christmas go. Not so much because I miss the gifts or the food (we have a special breakfast menu that we only use once or twice a year) but because I miss the season. Up until December 25 there's this huge thing to look forward to: decorations are set out, lights are up on the houses, people are - for the most part - pleasant and giving, families spend time together and everything seems somehow brighter.

After Christmas you have until New Years, give or take a few days, and then all the decorations get put away, the lights pulled down and stored, and there is nothing to look forward to. Just three months of cold, grey, bleak weather. I can't even look forward to snow, at least not on a regular basis. Any snow that shows up here is, for the most part, a pleasant surprise and short lived. We had an unexpected snowfall yesterday but by this morning all that remained was slush on the sidewalks that makes it dangerous to walk three exuberant dogs.

So here we go, entering the hardest part of the year. And it will be especially dreary this year as I am headed back to school (for the zillionth time) and am signed up for the oh-so-exciting classes of Statistics and Intro to Accounting. I can hardly wait. School-wise, spring doesn't look much better: I have to take on campus classes of chemistry and microbiology, with labs. There are few things I hate more than lab classes. Sigh.

Speaking of things I've been dreading brings me to January 1st. The day that all my resolutions go into effect, including the one to weigh in at the beginning of every month. It will, in all likelihood, not be pleasant as I have been munching on the four basic food groups all this month: chocolate, ice cream, cake and chips. And I have been using my current cold as an excuse to avoid my workouts.

I just realized that I've been rambling on about just about everything except my animal family here on the Unfarm. So what can I tell you? Minna continues to wiggle out of her diaper most nights, leaving me a mess to clean up in the morning - but both ducks have at least been staying in their corner as opposed to fly-jumping onto the rabbit cages in the morning. (Knock on wood.) The chickens have seen snow before and weren't particularly pleased to see it again. The ducks had not seen it before but didn't seem to mind it much - it is, after all, just another form of water - especially today when it melted and left puddles everywhere. Kita was excited to see the snow but unfortunately wasn't up to playing in it much as he was still recuperating from his surgery. Buddy the Wimpet will take snow over rain, if forced to choose one, but would much rather deal with the heat, and Maia doesn't care what the weather does as long as she gets to sleep on the bed during the 23 hours and 45 minutes that she isn't outside every day. I attempted another bonding between TJ and Jojo yesterday. It failed - I'll allow you a minute or two to get over your shock. [Humming a little tune...] Mynx was sad to see her mom go home yesterday but she has decided that her routine here isn't so bad and Aspen has discovered that when we are out of his preferred milk he will gladly accept a squirt of whipped cream as a substitute. And that's the news on the Unfarm, for now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

[Partial] Christmas To Do List

Here it is, December 16 and I have a million things still to do. In an effort to get organized, I am writing up a list of at least some of the things I have to get done. So here it is. On the plus side, the weather has finally gotten into the 40-50 degree range, meaning that everything that was frozen has now thawed out and I can once again use the hose outside to do the animal chores, making things MUCH easier. For the (too many days) that the temperatures were below freezing, I was having to lug a bucket of water, soap and scrub brush out to the side of the yard to clean off the duck stuff every morning. And I didn't even try to clean out the rabbit boxes. We were having all the inconvenience of snow without any of the fun of it. Just cold and clear and not a snowflake in sight.

1. Finish three week drawing in less than two days

2. Get to IKEA for picture frames

3. Make fudge

4. Order Bootie Pop panties ( haha - as if!

5. Make rocky road candy

6. Make butter toffee candy

7. Make chocolate covered cherries

8. Bake rolled sugar cookies

9. Bake cranberry coconut cookies

10. Give away 90% of what I just made.

11. Finish Christmas newsletter

12. Take the train to Spokane

13. Alter Maggie's diapers (ugg - I wish they would just stay ON)

14. Make new diapers for Minna (see comment for number 13)

15. Deliver Scentsy orders

16. Give the dogs a bath - all three of them (dogs, that is, not baths)

17. Give Aspen a haircut (remembering to first recruit help and write my Will, and keep plenty of bandages nearby and an ambulance on stand-by)

18. Buy Christmas gift(s) for the cats

19. Ditto for the dogs, bunnies, ducks and chickens

20. Finish the kitchen baseboards

21. Buy, cut, and put up crown molding in the kitchen

22. Replace the old kitchen trim with the new stuff.

23. Vow to never again start a project that I think I can handle only to realize that I really actually handle it. Or can handle it but don't really want to handle it.

24. Buy Christmas gifts for Mom, Dad, Liz, Pete, and Jenny, and wrap them all in yards of gift wrap, ribbons, bows, and hand stamped and embossed gift tags, as per Martha Stewart's instructions.

25. Buy birthday gifts for Mom, Liz and Pete, and wrap them as indicated above.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Unfarm introductions - Mynx

In which we discover how Mynx came to live on the Unfarm, we learn how she and Emmy got along, and we reveal some of the quirks of Mynx herself.

Mynx is our most recent cat acquisition. Not that we often go out actively looking for cats to acquire. Of all the cats that I've encountered here - eleven, that I can recall - eight of them have found me. Mynx was one of those eight, who came to live with us four years ago after she followed me home on a walk.

She was tiny, her coat in rough shape, hungry, white with black spots (picture a holstein cow, in the size and shape of a cat, and that's basically what she looks like), with a tail that is only 3/4 length, with a little bump on the end of it, and - after looking for her home for a couple weeks with no results - ours.

We thought (a bit naively) that she would be the perfect addition to the current cats on the Unfarm - that she and Emmy (our female cat) would get along great, seeing as they had so much in common. They were, after all, both female, both petite, both variations on the black and white theme, and both rescued from homelessness and starvation.

This picture of domestic bliss we had envisioned turned out to look - in actuality - much like extreme hatred would. Emmy and Mynx, instead of curling up together on a rug in front of the fire, would only come within five feet of each other if they were in the midst of a raging, yowling cat fight. These fights were, fortunately, not too common an occurrence - fights are dangerous to both parties, after all, and it is in everyone's best interest to find another way to work out disagreements. Which they did, much to the dismay of our carpets.

They began staging what I can only describe as "pee battles," the rules of which are as follows: one cat pees on the carpet somewhere and the other cat retaliates by peeing somewhere else. They were dividing up the house, staking out their respective territories by scent marking them. While this may be a natural behavior for cats to engage in, it certainly made the house rather unpleasant to live in: while we were often able to figure out which room had been marked, we couldn't always find the exact location. Needless to say, the carpet cleaner was well used.

By the time Emmy died this past April, she and Mynx had established a sort of tentative truce and the Great Pee War was largely over, with both sides sticking to their mutually agreed upon territories. And while we are still feeling the loss of our Little Miss Emmy - the gentlest and most cuddly of all the animals - Mynx seems to be taking rather well.

And so now, of the female cats, it is just Mynx left on the Unfarm. What we didn't know, when we brought her home, was just how shy she is. I don't know if she's really shy, so much as half wild. She is, to put it simply, Mynx.

Here's Mynx in a nutshell: She can not stand to be held, but the moment you sit down she's in your lap and she will lick your hand until your skin falls off. She always drinks water with her paw in the bowl. She is condensed – our vet's word – that is to say, she is not fat, but she is incredibly heavy: it actually hurts when she stands on your stomach. She loves to play. She plays with cat toys, bunny berries, invisible bugs; anything she sees (or thinks she sees.) She only goes outside if the temperature is above 80 degrees F. And even then, only for ten minutes at a time – as it is November now, she won't even look out the window until May, at the earliest. She is, at the moment, sprawled out on the table with one foot on the cable box - she does this when she's gotten too hot from sleeping curled up on top of the cable box. She will spend hours at a time moving from the cable box to the table and back again. And then there's her diet: she likes catnip (yesterday I caught her licking the plastic bag that we keep the catnip toys in) and junk food. I eat apples with those little Laughing Cow cheeses and Mynx is constantly trying to eat the cheese out of the wrapper. She also eats popcorn – both Kettle and Butter flavors – and Sun Chips.

So there you have it: a (perhaps not so) short introduction to our Mynxy cat, in all her quirky glory.