Thursday, April 24, 2014

2014 Book(s) 6

In a post below, I discussed restacking the two stacks of books I have in the bedroom because the book after #5 was down toward the bottom of the right stack. Part of redoing the stacks was to take a critical look at all those books. What I discovered was a small stack that I could read in 90 minutes and get them out of the big pile and either give them away or move them to another location to save.

As Sunday was a wonderful day to be on the deck, I decided this was the perfect time to read. Let's see what we have here. I could have counted each book as separate and then patted myself on the back for having read my 12 books for 2014. But that felt like cheating, given that the longest read was 15 minutes. So I lumped them all together.

Let's see what I have here.

I'm not one for aphorisms. There are statements that I like and reflect things I believe. At one time, I thought I needed this book with its quick statements to remind me to be uplifting and remove negativity from my life. I have another book of Salmansohn that is meant to be given away. It's more funny than these are. Come to think of it, this might have been a gift from a "well-meaning" friend who is no longer a friend.

I don't need or want aphorical stickies around my house. I have come to a place where I live life with gratitude, every day. Some of these were just weird to me. Maybe I have a friend who could benefit from these, but I don't know who. Rather than foist it on another, it's gone into the give away bag.

For awhile, I was buying a new children's book every Christmas. I had the intention of creating a small library of literature if a grandchild ever came into my life. That's still a possibility and I have a nice size library if it happens. But when financial issues fell upon me, this turned out to be the last Christmas book I purchased. Raise your hand if you memorized this. I'd need a couple weeks but I'd remember it.

It's a gorgeous book.

"...a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer." Some of the pages were a bit stuck together because it's been in the stack for years. With a slight tug, they came apart and the pop-up sprang to life. This would be a fantastic book to share with family, but not something you'd hand to little ones who don't understand the concept of pop-up. Unlike other pop-ups, nothing moves. There are no levers or wheels to manipulate. It's all about opening the page and seeing a 3 dimensional representation of a part of the poem. I heartily recommend this if you can find it.

This is an entry in the cat book library. If you have a pet, you know that you are drawn to books about that animal. That's what this falls into. I don't remember where I got it, but the only reason I would have it is because, oh wow!, it has a cat on the front and it's about a cat.

The premise is that the owner of Clio has discovered a journal written by Clio over the course of nine lives. It starts in ancient Egypt and goes through China and Europe before coming to the US. The cat talks about the way it changed the course of human history by, for instance, helping Leonardo Da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa. For a 1st grader with a good vocabulary and a desire to learn, this might be a good book, but I'm not sure who the target audience is. Plus, at the end, there is a discussion about each life and how some of the things Clio reports couldn't have happened. Um... Giving this away.

Also in the give away bag is this book.

Again, this falls in the "Oh look! A cat book!" category. I know I picked this up for $3.00 at the Printer's Row Book Fair several years ago. At the time, I really didn't page through it. I simply bought it because it was a book about cats, hardcover and $3.00. Had I actually taken the time to look at it, I wouldn't have brought it home.

The premise is that cats and dogs come from another planet. The animal you see is merely a robot, controlled by minute cats and dogs inside. The dogs, tired of being picked on on their home planet, left and found earth. Cats, now having no one to pick on, followed the dogs so they could continue to harass dogs. If ever there was a stupid premise, this is it. No, you can't have this book. I'm giving it away. I should find someone who will recycle it because it really shouldn't be in circulation.

Graeam Base has always been one of our favorite authors/illustrators. He's Australian and his early works reflected life in that country. If you have never seen any of his works, find a copy of Animalia. It is the most amazingly illustrated book I think I have ever seen. There was a coloring book you could get for awhile as well as a boxed set that included the hardcover book, the coloring book and a set of 5 colored pencils. Get the book in hardcover. You will not regret it.

Base often deals with environmental issues by showing what happens to animals when their environment is challenged or changed. That's what this is about. What happens if the water hole dries up. As with all his other books, the art is fantastic. You can lose yourself for hours just pouring over the illustrations. Think you've see it all? Nope, there's a bug over here, a pair of eyes over there, a baby under mom's legs.

I got this when it first came out but never read it. I see on his web site that I'm way behind in my collection. I have 6 of his 15 books. Looks like I should add him to my list to search for at the book fair this June.

I bought this but I don't know when. This is another book that had I taken the time to look through it, to read some of the pages, I wouldn't have purchased it. It's a series of quotes about women and cats interspersed with selected readings about this topic. Too much of the book is spent comparing appearances and suggesting women would do well to follow the lead of their cats.

Cats are always seen as aloof and women are likened to this. There are put-downs galore and the book ends with quotes about how cats are a witch's familiar and the shape witches prefer to change into and then roam the neighborhood.

It wasn't a pleasant book. The only thing I got out of it was a list of names for future cats; Tewhit, Jarmara, Jeso, Prickear, Peyewacket and Griezl Greedigut. Why these names? Well, any cat given one of these was definitely a witch's familiar. Into the bag it goes.

And the last one. 

This is a small book that falls into the "Oh! Cat book!" vein. No clue where I picked it up or if it was a gift. I was prepared to go "meh" about it, but I found that I actually liked it. I like the ink drawings. They are fluid and peaceful. Cats and Eastern religions have long gone together. The cat exhibits the stillness and the ability to be "in the moment", so to speak, that Zen teaches. Some of the quips about cats are true. "One coat of fur sheds everywhere." "Find where the paths cross--sit smack center." "Door open--stay in. Door closed--go out."

One statement I found particularly interesting. "If I have but nine lives to live, let me live them as a cat." That would be with awareness and calm, unless there's a thunderstorm, in which case, go hide under the bed. I'm hanging on to this book.

So, there you have my Sunday reading. Four are being given away and three are staying. My stacks are smaller. Book #7 is on the ottoman in the living room and, based on the first 8 pages, I'm going to enjoy it.

Beverage:  Water


Breakfast Is Good, Photo 23

We're just...I can't even describe, adequately, how busy work is. We're all yelling at the phone to stop ringing. The boss finally had to tell someone, "No, we can't be there tomorrow" because we couldn't do the job. We just don't have the personnel.

It's not just the field work. After that is done, there is the paperwork, the reports, to get out. Remember the "paperless society" touted 30 years ago. HA! Again I say, "HA!" Never, ever going to happen. Never. Digital reporting can condense 85 pages onto a CD, but as technology changes, being able to retrieve that information off an old CD is going to be a problem. 3.5 inch floppy, anyone? I have photos stored on a whole bunch of those and I don't know how to retrieve them.

Anyway, I'm now working overtime to produce reports for all the field work I've done. Getting up, eating breakfast and getting out the door on time has been a problem for me now that I have RA. It takes a good 10 minutes to "warm up", so to speak, and it doesn't matter if I get up 10 minutes or 40 minutes earlier than usual. I seem to leave the house at the same time. But what if I got breakfast on the way, at least during this time period while I have to do reports? I'm making enough in overtime to cover the expense of breakfast and it's pretty much always the same cost. I stop at either Dunkin' Donuts or Panera. I could do this. My budget, for right now, would allow this.

Everyone has a loyalty program. I hadn't joined Dunkin's yet and I probably get breakfast there more than at Panera. I get the same thing every time; a large tea and 2 donuts. One donut is always the double chocolate and the other is the variable. On this date, it was the lemon filled.

It's not the most healthy breakfast I could have, but it's quick and I can get into the office early with something satisfying to last until lunch. I earned a free medium beverage, which the guy behind the counter knew would be tea, and, I'll be earning other perks as I continue with the program. There is a Dunkin' a block from the office, but I will come here, to the one near me in Wheaton. They know me and I don't even have to tell them what the beverage is.

As I was leaving, the guy behind the counter said, "See you tomorrow." Guess I have to go back. I think I can do that.

Beverage:  Dunkin' Donuts tea (Duh)


Guess I Will Be Back, Photo 22

We were out of cat food. Oh no! Yes, it was a somewhat dark day. We had come to the bottom of the Hills Ideal Balance bag and it was time to get more. I wasn't getting Hills, that's for sure. Not going to spend that kind of money on cat food no matter how much I love them. Besides, Merrick is just as good and it's cheaper for a bigger bag.

I used to go to Pet Supplies Plus, back when we had a pride of cats in the house and everyone was eating Fancy Feast. It's across the street from my favorite Dunkin Donuts so it's close to me. Fancy Feast was always, always 5-10 cents cheaper than at the grocery or at Target. When you're buying 40 cans at a time, that's a big deal.

But when I looked up places to buy Merrick, this store didn't come up on the list. Petco did and there is one in south Wheaton. Petco sponsors adoptions and their foundation is one of the biggest supporters of TNR; Trap, Neuter, Return; of feral cats. They work with Best Friends Animal Society and other no-kill organizations around the US to make the goal of "No More Homeless Pets" a reality. But prices tend to be higher at Petco and it's out of my way to go there. I have a Petco "loyalty" card, one of those little thingees that hang off a key ring. I hadn't seen any real benefit from it. I was also tired on Tuesday, yet the girls needed food.

So, I drive to Petco. I am the ONLY customer in the store at 4:30 p.m. The store is located in a strip mall that has lost its major tenant, a Dominicks grocery store. The IHop closed, which is really sad because there isn't another one close to me. There is a cluster of stores to the north of the Dominicks and that's where the Petco is, but the parking lot looks so sad, so empty.

The store manager greeted me as I came in and asked if I needed help. "I just need cat food." "That's over here," he replied. I resisted the urge to say, "I know." He's just trying to be helpful and I am the only customer in the store. He's probably thrilled to see someone. "Which brand?" he asked. "Merrick," I responded. I walked right to the display. Which Merrick to get them. We've had chicken flavor and they like that, but there is a salmon flavor and there is a version called "Healthy Weight". I stood weighing my options. The big bags were all priced the same. I opted for chicken since I knew they liked it. Franco took my bag to the front. The store manager, who hadn't left my side asked if I needed anything else. I got 3 cans of the Hills Ideal Balance wet cat food. Pilchard loves it and she's the chunkiest, at the moment. I have to travel for work in the next couple of weeks so my guilt at leaving them will be assuaged by a can of wet food which Mija will sniff and then look at me accusingly as if I'm trying to starve her.

He asked, "Do you need litter?" I stopped. Actually, I do need litter. I have half of a box left and I have to replace, completely, the contents of one of the boxes. It's time to do that. Wash another box. Completely replace the litter and we're good to go. (One of the nice side effects of the change in food is no more stinky poopers. Seriously. If you're having problems with smelly poop, change the food. I get, maybe, one every other month. When I was feeding them Purina, "Oh lordy that smells" was an every other day occurrence, even with a clean litter box.) I looked at him. "Well, what does litter cost here? I'll buy a box if it's close to what I pay at the grocery."

This is what we use and I watch for sales on this stuff. I know what price I'll pay and if it's that price or lower, I buy it, even if I have a box or two. It's going to get used.

It was $2 more. That was close, but I was willing to wait to go to the grocery since I have to go anyway this weekend. I told him what I paid the last time I got litter and he said, "We can match that." Well, sold then. "Only one box?" Yeah, even matching the price, I didn't need another box, even completely replacing litter. I'm good. I have to consider that I have to lug it into the house. The manager grabbed the litter and took that up front. Franco carried the litter and the food out to the Jeep for me, too.

When I paid for everything, I discovered the food was $2 off because of my "loyalty" card. I saved $4 which more than covers the sales tax and the gas to drive out of my way. I still wonder if Pet Supplies carries Merrick. I should go there and see. I can't count on that store manager always being at Petco and matching the price for litter. I need to be aware of what things costs around me. But I was impressed. I guess I will be back.

Beverage:  Dunkin' Donuts tea


Winter's Residue, Photo 21

In addition to the aches and pains of an almost non-stop shoveling season, winter has left me with one other thing, really dry skin. It's normal to have some dry skin. Winter air lacks humidity so it absorbs water from wherever it can find it. You'll see this in your home when you get cracks in the miter joints of your doors and windows or in the junctions of your walls. Even though things look and feel "dry", there is still water contained in the paint or the wood. Once spring arrives and, one hopes, the spring rains return, those cracks expand back to their original size and are less noticeable. Because the human body practically sloshes with water, the air is going to take whatever it can find and that dries out the skin; dries it out everywhere.

I like Vaseline Intensive Care for my hands. I've tried other, cheaper, hand lotions and I always come back to this. Right now, I'm using the Aloe version, but I'll use all of them and I watch for them to go on sale. Some things I'm just brand loyal on.

But for everywhere else, whatever I can find suits me just fine. I'm particularly drawn to fragranced lotions for the legs and arms. Right now, I'm using the lotion shown to the right. I like the scent and that's really my first consideration in selecting a body lotion, how does it smell. I don't remember how long I've had this kind but it's about half gone. I don't know about your skin, but I have to lotion up every day. It's still really dry and I don't like the itchy feeling on my legs or the back of my arms when my skin is that dry. It's a great feeling to slather on the lotion and feel your skin drink it in. This scent is great in that it doesn't clash with the cologne I'm wearing. I'm still working through those mini bottles. I have so many to use up. It's going to be years of the same scent.

So tell me, have you fought the dried skin battle this winter? Are you still fighting it? Any favorite lotion?

Beverage:  Dunkin Donuts tea