Wednesday, February 28, 2007

More Snow, More Snow ...

Just a quick shoutout to my friends up in Iowa. We're supposed to get about only 3-5 inches of snow here (I say only ... it's still a bit of snow), but we're hoping it melts off by the weekend.

However, in the last week, you guys are suffering through the nastiest winter weather the state has had for years (and I should know something about Iowa winters, having lived there the six years previous, including the year the state set the record for longest snow cover on the ground (late October through early May)).

Everyone please drive safe, stay warm, and be very careful, especially if you have power outages ... I'm hoping to see you at our wedding in March.

Monday, February 26, 2007

On a Serious Note: The Millenium Development Goals

Neither one of us are Catholic (although Woodgie used to be one growing up), but we both decided that we would observe Lent in a small way by doing a water/juice fast on Sunday evenings in lieu of dinner, and at the end of Lent, donating the money we would have otherwise spent on meals to a church charity. We thought it would be fitting to do this, in light of both the Episcopal Church and Lutheran Church's support of the UN Millenium Development Goals.

One of the MDGs is "the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger worldwide". While we often think of poverty and hunger as far off events in foreign countries, I'm finding as a food pantry volunteer that often, poverty and hunger are as close as your next-door neighbors or your community.

Personally, I've never experienced extreme poverty or hunger for a prolonged basis, but there have been a few tight moments in my life, especially while growing up. We were a low-income farming family who managed to squeak through every year, but we never felt that we were "poor", and there was always food on the table (although there was one Thanksgiving while I was in graduate school that was pretty bleak due to a lot of bad weather and poor crops). Apart from doing a 20 mile CROP walk fundraiser in middle school, the closest I came to hunger (in the sense of deprivation) was watching "Save the Children" fund-raising appeals on TV, and those were always far away, somewhere overseas, or in Africa. Certainly not close to home.

Both my own past experiences and my current ones have made me realize until we see poverty and hunger up close, that as long as we think of it with mindsets of "it's a far-off problem" and "it can't happen here" and "it's too big a problem to be dealt with", these mindsets intimidate us and blind us to what is needed, both locally and in other countries.

Trust me, the need is there. According to the USDA (, 2007):
  • In 2005, 35.1 million Americans lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households, 22.7 million adults and 12.4 million children.
  • In 2005, 55.6% of food-insecure (low food security or very low food security) households participated in at least one of the three major Federal food assistance programs Food Stamp Program, The National School Lunch Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, an increase from 55.2% in 2004.
And that was roughly two years ago.

Rather than watching it from a distance, I now see it every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon, as families come through who need help. They may be struggling single parent families, or they may be single-income families with kids who have gone a week without groceries, or individuals who simply need help supplementing what they do have. And they are grateful, as we give them what we can give.

Granted, the Millenium Goals are ambitious in their scope, but it can start locally: doing such a small thing such as donating regularly to the local food pantry or to a local branch of Second Harvest, or volunteering time to work at one a few hours a week, or working on a Habitat for Humanity home is something positive. And it is something that can be done here and now.

Snowy Pictures

Okay ... it looks like Google changed something with the Blogger photo upload process, which means I have to go change a firewall setting in order to post. Oy veh ... why couldn't they leave something unbroken?

So, here are some delayed (by a few days) pics of Snowy ... not the snow outside (which we're tired of), but Snowy the kitten:

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Testing, Testing ...

Okay ... this is a little frustrating. Google HAD photo uploads working, but now for some reason, even with the cache cleared, the upload function isn't working again. What gives?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

This Weekend

In the forecast: more snow! Not as much as they're supposed to get up in Iowa, but another couple of inches ... something tells me that the groundhog made a small mistake this year.

Oh well ... it's a good weekend for staying in, making scratch pizza, scrapbooking (for Woodgie), and playing with the kitties.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Volunteer Work

Just a quick post for now (since I'm typing this right before bed). Today I started volunteer work with the local food pantry ... mostly a couple of hours a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday stocking shelves and helping clients, but also getting to know the other volunteers. It isn't hard work, but it is fulfilling, which is something I need right now.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Nothing Major to Post ... Just a Few Notes

Nothing major to post, so today it's odds and ends day:

Yesterday, we had our second encounter with the "marital-industrial" complex in town, with a student-run bridal show on campus. It wasn't that bad ... plenty of chocolate to go around, and Lauren even won a discount cert for a photography package during one round of door prizes. Unfortunately, it was for the other photographer in attendance, not the one who we had already hired and whose booth was sitting 10 foot away from us. So we politely declined.

This morning, the local vets in town are running discounts through the 28th on spaying and neutering, so we took Snowball into the vet for her shots, declawing, and neutering. We hope that when we get her back tomorrow that she isn't too mad at us.

EDIT: We got her back yesterday morning from the vet, and fortunately, she's still her cuddly, lovable self. Here is a better picture of her:

Friday, February 16, 2007

Valentine's Day

Oops ... before I forget, here's a quick post on Valentine's Day: rather than try to get reservations at A&G, we instead decided that we were going to start a tradition of cooking each other dinner every other year. Since Lauren cooked when I came down last year, it was my turn to cook this year. Sorry, there are no pictures of the meal ... I'm usually the picture taker, and I was too busy cooking it to take any pictures.

The meal itself came out very well, although it turned into a running dinner because we had to cook the Cornish hens a little bit longer than the recipe called for ... no biggie. It just simply meant we were eating dinner while watching the movie Chocolat rather than before.

Soup: I originally planned a curried pumpkin soup, but I changed my mind and used a box of Campbell's Select Gold Roasted Portabella Mushroom soup instead. This is comfort food.

Roasted Cornish Hens: These were done with a marinade of whisky, Splenda, lots of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and freshly ground pepper, for three to four hours, then baked at 375 for a minimum of 1 hour (not 30 minutes as the recipe called for). Then, for a tasty sauce for the hens, I took a cup of the marinade, added an equal amount of balsamic vinegar, and reduced it down for 2 minutes.

Asian Spinach: to complement the Cornish Hens, I did a pretty simple stir-fry of spinach with toasted sesame seeds, minced garlic, soy sauce, and a bit of Splenda to balance the soy sauce off ... sort of a continuation of a theme.

Rice with Carrots, Lemon, and Mint: long-grain rice with a mirepoix of minced carrots, scallions, and the juice and a small amount of zest from one lemon.

Dessert: Woodgie had bought a small set of Chinese New Year specialty chocolates (the Lapsang Suchoung and dark chocolate ones were sublime). We had these with a chocolate-infused tea from the same company.

When done, she proclaimed it one of the best meals she has had.

High and Dry

Another interesting morning here in Maryville: woke up this morning to NO WATER in the house. Our city water department thinks that our meter froze: no surprise, given temps dropped down to -4 here overnight (before wind chill). Hopefully, someone will be out before noon to have it looked at.

I stopped off at Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of gallons in the meantime, but in the meantime, it's shaping up to be one of those mornings. Sigh.

EDIT: We got water service back at about 11:30, although we're now having to keep one faucet at a drip/trickle to avoid a repeat of the problem. Oh well.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Test Post Following the Conversion

Hi all ... just a test post after converting to the "new" Blogger system, which hasn't impressed me so far (let's see ... can't post pictures due to a glitch, can't edit and repost an existing post due to another glitch). As much as I like the new features, the new system is batting 0 for 2 right now.

Edit: that's fixed. Turns out that in order for the "new" Blogger to work, you have to clean out the old Blogger cookies. Thirty seconds later, and I'm able to post pictures and edit and repost existing posts.

And now I can play with the tags ...

Monday, February 12, 2007

The 100th Post: Some Cozy Kitties

Welcome to the 100th post for the Cozy Kitty's Weblog ... so it's only fair to devote this entry to ... ahem, some cozy kitties:

First up, some pictures of Stinkerbelle and Opie, plus my Woodgie:

Another of Opie with Woodgie:

A close-up of Stinkerbelle:

And now, the introduction to the newest member of the menagerie, who arrived late yesterday evening: Snowball!!! (Yes, we know she's a black kitten ... we didn't name her, but we do think the name is ironically appropriate). She's 3 months old, and we got her from one of Lauren's students, whose boyfriend discovered he had one too many kittens and needed a new home for her, so when they found out that we had lost Kitty, they offered her to us.

So far, she's been a doll; for now, we're keeping her in the bedroom, to give both her and us time to acclimate to having a new kitten in the house. Right now, she's having fun exploring the nooks and crannies of her new home and having her first meal. Later this morning, I'm going to re-introduce her to the litter box and see if she can get comfortable with the other two cats.

And now, to borrow a very old Internet meme:

Friday, February 02, 2007

Cheshirekitty speaks: A tribute to Kitty

Here is a picture of Kitty in better days. You may or may not be able to notice this, but Kitty was an odd-eyed white, with one blue and one gold-green eye.

I adopted Kitty as a tw0-year-old cat at the Otsego County (New York) Humane Society several years ago. Or perhaps she adopted me. She was the only cat at the shelter that not only liked petting, but invited it by standing up and grabbing my hand.

Kitty was the consummate "cuddleslut". She lived to be petted. If two people in the room were simultaneously petting her, she would look reproachfully at the third, as if to say, "Why aren't YOU petting me?" She spent some time outdoors when she was younger, mostly because she felt her social options were too limited as an indoor cat. When I lived in upstate NY, she was known to the whole neighborhood as "the white cat", and the little girls in the neighborhood would come to my yard to visit her.

Wherever she was in the yard, she would stroll to meet anyone who came to visit. She had no fear, once daring even to try to break up a catfight between two neighboring cats (to no avail).

Later in life, she became much more mellow, and in her last year of life had chosen to remain indoors. However, if any other cat in the house was getting attention, she would stroll over with her "Pet ME, pet ME" attitude.

Kitty is already sorely missed.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Kitty: Now at the Rainbow Bridge

Today's been a long day: earlier this morning at 5:00, we woke to the distressed yowls of Kitty, our 12 year old geriatric cat (the odd-eyed white), who with the exception of minor dental problems (due to her being an outdoor cat for quite awhile), had been quite healthy.

We brought Kitty into the bedroom and put her on a towel in a small Sterlite tub, so we could take turns calming her down and keeping her warm (we'd noticed that she had lost function and circulation in her back legs), while we put in a fast call to the vet. Maryville is too small a town to have an emergency or on-call vet service, but in this case, it wouldn't have helped, as the damage had already been done before we got to her.

We had thought that Kitty had a stroke, which was partially correct: as best as the vet could tell, after the morning litter, she developed an aortic blood clot, resulting in a iliac or "saddleback" thrombosis , a form of aortic embolism which lodged in her femur or femoral artery, leaving her hindquarters paralyzed due to circulatory failure. It was also causing her significant gastrointestinal distress, and, although we didn't know it at the time, the condition also apparently causes a cat great pain, due to the circulatory cutoff and damage to nerve tissue.

Although there are recorded cases of cats surviving an occurrance, if the diagnosis and surgery to remove the clot is immediate, it appears that most (90 percent) of cats ultimately have a second episode, and the prognosis for full recovery is poor.

As a long-time cat owner, Lauren had already prepared for what was to come, due to the advanced age of both Kitty and Opie, but it was a new experience for me, as my family had never had pets growing up. After the diagnosis, we both knew that prolonging Kitty's life was out of the question, so by 8:30, the vet was adminstering an anesthetic to put her to sleep, followed by a shot to euthanize her.

We're not sure yet if we're going to get another cat ... we're going to watch our remaining cats to see how well they will adjust, but I'm guessing that we'll probably be looking for one down the road. We had already planned to put in a small "cat" themed garden, with pussywillows and other "feline" themed plants and decorations, but now we will add a small memorial stone for Kitty as well.

As for where Kitty is now, I'm not sure if I fully believe in the Rainbow Bridge, but it is a comforting thought to hope that she is now running through a sunny meadow with hills of catnip, accompanied by other pets waiting for their loved ones.