Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's a bird! It's . . . a bird? It's really a bird!

New clients: I'm happy to add LID Editorial of Madrid, Spain, and Barron's Educational Series of Hauppauge, New York, to my client roster. I'm looking forward to working on a test-prep title for Barron's next month and titles in English for LID Editorial when the firm moves in that direction.

Now about that bird . . .

Doug and I came home from running errands and smelled something bad. "Did one of the dogs throw up?" Doug asked. "No," I said, seeing the source on the floor, "someone made a big doo-doo."

Both dogs are 100 percent housetrained, so if someone doo-doos, it's because of a crisis of some kind, not a breach of discipline. Therefore, we didn't punish but simply grabbed both dogs and got them outside so they couldn't step in it and start tracking it around the house. As I moved through the kitchen toward the back door with the second dog, I heard -- and felt -- the rapid beating of wings.

"What the . . . ?" I yelled.

"Hey, there's something . . . ! Doug yelled.

A sparrow had somehow gotten into the house and was battering itself against the windows in the kitchen and dining room. Fortunately, as soon as I opened the door to push the dog out, the bird beelined (birdlined?) for it and let itself out. So that was simple. No chasing a terrified bird around and around the house trying to shoo it toward an opening.

The bird must have been so exciting -- or so terrifying (both dogs seemed pretty abashed, though that might have been shame over the bad doo-doo) -- that someone lost control. Too bad the cat was shut upstairs. She would have put a quick end to the fun. Bootsie has been a very effective huntress of mice, and I have no doubt she would have nailed the bird.

We've gotten birds in the house twice before, both times in the basement. (This time, the door to the basement was open, so the sparrow probably started there and then came upstairs.) I think we managed to shoo one out. We found the other just before we had to leave for work and didn't have time to deal with it. When we got home, we found a feather on the floor, and the late Gideon had a smile on his kitty face.

Did I mention that this occurred on the coldest day of the season so far? It was minus something Fahrenheit outside, and we had to open the windows to air the place out.

Speaking of weather, we had a beautifully fluffy snowfall that was light to shovel and makes everything pretty. But we're also having some truly frigid temperatures this week: the high today is forecast to be -6F with windchill readings down to -40F. A windchill warning is in effect for the next few days. This weekend, however, temperatures are supposed to get up to 30F, which will feel like T-shirt weather. Seriously! The body can get used to anything, and I'll certainly be taking out the garbage, etc. without bundling up at all when it climbs above 20F.


I want to shout out to a few friends who are doing some pretty cool things:
  • Thru A Cat's Eyes is just starting up but is already a lovely place for cat lovers to get affirmation and practical advice. Host Catherine "Cat" Holms blogs the antics and travails of her own cats and has started a photo gallery of cute kitty pics. 2153 <== Those numbers are cat Bootsie's addition to this entry. I'm sure they have great significance.
  • Congratulations to my friend, the Reverend Lyle Schlundt, who was ordained last year. He is helping with Wonderful Wednesday services at Unity Christ Church in Golden Valley, Minnesota; officiating at weddings; and seeking a permanent ministry position with a congregation. As a certified shiatsu massage therapist, he also works a couple of days a week at The Aliveness Project in Minneapolis, serving the HIV/AIDS community.
  • What a pleasure it was to reconnect with high school classmate Everett Howe. We've been out of touch for over a quarter century (gleep!), but whadda-ya-know? In high school, we shared an interest in J. S. Bach and Monthy Python. Today, we share an interest in public radio, indie bookstores, recycling, and off-the-beaten-track music. In San Diego, California, Everett is a professional mathematician working for a think tank on secret cryptography staff, and his wife works for a public policy dialog consultancy. It's ever so cool when interesting people stay interesting!

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Saturday, January 10, 2009


The weekend after Christmas, we went to a small gathering that included little bundles of germs joy. A few days later, I came down with a miserable sore throat the progressed to a cold. I can attest to the high degree of functionality of my snot glands; they did a great job. [bleh] Fortunately, I was able to work through it, and I had a couple of really interesting projects -- a book for teachers on how to grade students in a way that helps them learn and a book for health care practioners about how to avoid malpractice lawsuits. However, I tried to control the symptoms with over-the-counter cold medicine, and that stuff does strange things to my sleep patterns. Hoping to get back to normal soon. Also, I haven't felt like exercising, and I feel flabby. [double bleh]

Housework came to a screeching halt when I didn't feel good, but I should have some time this weekend to reclean the five rooms I got clean (it's very frustrating that things get dirty after being cleaned) and then tackle the living room. Check back for another exciting episode in this ongoing drama.

The economy seems to be tanking in a big way. The official unemployment figure is 7.2 percent, and that doesn't count all the people who have jobs but fewer hours than they would like or less pay than their qualification would normally merit. I keep hoping the economists have no clue and the whole thing will blow over without being nearly the crisis that it's predicted to be, but I'm not really optimistic.

The book publishing industry has seen a slew of bad news recently: staff cuts, pay freezes, acquisition freezes, and plummeting book sales in sync with plummeting retail sales in general. I've been getting a steady stream of projects, but then a bunch of them have been delayed or even cancelled altogether. I used to think I didn't mind if publishing moved to more electronic formats -- the text will still need to be edited. However, I'm discovering that there are zillions of people in India who are fluent in (British) English and will work for $1/hour. I can't work for $1/hour.

The health care industry is still going strong. I've done some preliminary research into becoming a nurse practitioner (NP). I see an NP as my primary care provider. She's cool. Plus I like the role that NPs play in providing health care. I might enjoy being an NP with a psych specialty. There are increasing numbers of master's programs open to people who aren't already RNs, and coursework is increasingly being offered online for distance learners. I swore ages ago that I was never going back to school again, but maybe this would be a good profession for my "golden years" -- age 50+. (I plan to work until I'm 80.) It's just something to continue to keep an eye on. I've based my professional life on always having a Plan B. It's probably kept me from rising to the top of any one field, but it's also meant that I've never been unemployed and I've never been bored.

Fun: An orange tabby visits Rafael Nadal during a doubles match in Doha, Qatar (Jan. 9, 2009).

Cat and Nadal

"George" the lobster is probably about 140 years old. He was captured and kept in a restaurant's tank as a mascot for 10 days, but now he's being released into a no-lobster-trapping zone off the coast of Maine.

Old Lobster