Category Archives: Cats

Elegiac

It was a tough week to lose Padme.

Padme Pattertis Paddingtail joined the B-Ks in September 2002. We were living at 1005 at the time and reckoned it was time for a kitten, plus it was Jim’s birthday. When we went to the kitten foster house and Jim noticed an energetic li’l badass trying to sneak out of the room, the woman in charge told Jim, No, you don’t want her – she’s the bad one. Jim responded by scooping the kitten up in all of her terrible and tawny badness, and thus began our lives together. She put up with a lot in her almost-15 years, including a Star Wars name, a move, the eventual addition of 3 other cats, undignified nicknames such as “Paddles” and “Squeaks on a Stick”, watching her favorite young humans grow up and eventually leave, and the vacuum cleaner. She hated that thing.

Things Padme enjoyed included shredding paper, hopelessly messing up balls of yarn, drinking/grooming loudly, eating plastic bags, chattering at birds out the window, her humans (in order: Jim, Cody, Lilly, me), belly rubs, and the sun. That cat enjoyed the SHIT out of the sun and the breeze on her face. In fact, a few days before she died – we had just discovered she was sick – Padme suddenly appeared in the kitchen and made for the back door. She had shown zero interest in going outside for weeks, given the weather and her heretofore-unknown-to-us illness, but that day was a bit warmer and I thought, OK, you can go out, and opened the door for her. She stepped out and sat on the back steps. A few minutes later, I looked out the window and she was still there, gazing over the driveway and into the neighbor’s yard with the breeze on her face and a look in her eyes that can only be described as “faraway”. I let her back inside when she was ready, she looked up at me as she passed through the kitchen, and she went and resettled herself on the couch. That was Friday, January 13; we said goodbye on Monday, January 16. This is how I imagine she’s spending her time:

She will live on in our garden, amongst the birds she loved/hated so much.

It’s kind of a crappy week when it’s bookended by the death of a friend and a Presidential inauguration that most definitely ushered in… something. However, Saturday was a new day, and a good start.

Protest is an excellent tool of rebellion and resistance, but what comes the next day? The day after that? The day after that? The weeks, months, years after that? Yesterday’s protests were global and sent a very powerful message, but the day-to-day work is in our heads, homes, neighborhoods, and communities. Here are 10 totally free activities we can consider integrating into our day-to-day, if we’re not doing some or all of them already. I know I’m not. They’re really small steps that will help us get ready for bigger steps, should we need to/want to take them.

talk to a neighbor about squirrels, the weather, whatever, and check if they need anything | go to the library, if you have access, and see what they have to offer, because it’s a lot, and get a card if you don’t have one | take five minutes to breathe deeply, because most of us are not breathing to full capacity | appreciate a work of art – music, writing, painting, etc – seriously, take it all in | read or listen to something that makes you uncomfortable (see: library) | find out more about where you live, even if you’ve always lived there or plan to leave ASAP | related: get a bead on your local elected officials and ask them why, when, and how | pet and say hello to a dog or cat or guinea pig or gerbil or bird or whatever and look them in the eye while doing so | while vigilance is ever-important, step away from the news once in awhile | take a page out of Padme’s playbook and enjoy the goddamn breeze on your face

Love, and luck, to all of us. Oh, and…

Stirring

JULY

 

Regal feline

 

Home to roost

 

Together v 1.0

 

AUGUST

 

Dumpling gang

 

‘Twas the night before college

 

SEPTEMBER

 

Championship match

 

Poster Children at Pygmalion

 

OCTOBER

 

Midterm

 

Kanken stash at Fjallraven, St. Paul

 

NOVEMBER

 

Meadowbrook

 

Studio space at Same Street Textiles & Scrap Yard

 

Fireplace upgrade at 909

 

DECEMBER

 

Love is all around

 

Together v 2.0

 

My sentiments exactly (photo source unknown)

 

Currently: Knitting a rectangle and patiently waiting for this year to come to a close. I’ve got a list of possessions and behaviors to jettison, and others to reclaim.  I’m also wondering, as we hurtle into a new calendar year: What does complacency mean to you? Is it something to be aspired toward? Or challenged?

 

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs, Saved Aggressively):

Wondering how Perry Possum would respond to such overtures

How huge is your mammoth? Mine is enormous. And loud

Buying this shirt, brb

Carrie Fisher’s unofficial doctoring made the ESB script better. Way better

Discovering Donella Meadows

Wish I’d thought of this name

Always reading the comments at Archdruid Report

Granola Shotgun providing inspiration for the coming year(s)

I keep coming back to Nance Klehm

My friend Lisa writes AMAZING stuff

The sun rises and sets on Urbana, IL

Right Now

It’s been embarrassingly forever, jeez. Weird how a couple of months can get away from a person. Mattie Lonesome (a cat) would like to tell you about it.

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So! Interesting times have descended here at BYIHQ.

Tim and I are in the process of finishing up the video/webseries (3 more episodes to be released, OMG), and the radio series, after 93 episodes and 4 1/2 years on the air, came to an end on December 18. Why? The biggest, most primary reasons are a) my daughter is entering a pretty intense time in terms of school, soccer, college considerations, etc and I’d like to be available for her; b) I want to be fully present for my paid work for the station (heading up its marketing ops), which was getting harder to keep separate; c) I want to explore other options for the future – longer form, more blogging and photography, boosting the social media presences, a possible writing project… all of which means BYI isn’t going anywhere but forward, y’all. Just with fewer deadlines.

I’m forever grateful to Illinois Public Media and especially to my producer, Dave Dickey, for talking me into writing for the radio almost 5 years ago. And I’m glad to report that IPM will continue hosting every last radio episode – they’re available for streaming or download at the BYI page on the Illinois Public Media website. I’m sure I’ll be linking back all the time.

I’m also very, very indebted to everyone who ever listened, gave encouragement, pitched me an idea, participated in an interview, etc. Please don’t go anywhere, because my  v v supportive and holiday spirit-inclined spouse gave me some equipment (see photo above for an example) to kick my ass toward actually creating my own broadcasts for distribution on the internet, i.e. podcasting. You know, like Serial. Ha. Anyway, since I can no longer just talk about it and must actually DO IT, it looks like he and I will be cobbling together, in the coming months, a little home vocal studio in what we fondly (?) refer to as “the cloffice”. I recorded BYI in there from 2010-2012, though it was never soundproofed and quite sounded like crap.

I have no doubt that I’ll suck at this at first. Proof of my lack of doubt:

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Challenge accepted. More soon!

Rain Reign

A delightful pop-up thunderstorm, whose lightning to the south put on quite the show as the storm slowly made its way across the prairie, visited last night. FINALLY.

It rained, hard enough, for about half an hour before lumbering on to the next town. This was good, as I’d only watered the plants in containers before succumbing to a severe case of the I-don’t-wannas and hoped for the best.

I got up this morning and went out, as I do almost every morning in the summer, to investigate the potential aftermath. Peony bushes always look like downed swans to me after a storm, the flowers gracefully drooping to the ground under the weight of rain. The weeds, as I’d expected, had rioted overnight. The sun was shining and the scent of the earth was heady stuff; I entertained rebellious thoughts of maybe skipping work for a garden-health day…

[The scent immediately brought me back to a very specific time in 2003, when we were living at 1005 and were being paid a visit by my friend Kristin and her family. They had been visiting relatives in St. Louis and asked if they could swing by our place on their way back to their home in New York. I said yes, of course. I had never met her in person – we had been online friends for a couple of years at that point, brought together by similar stories exchanged on the message boards at hipMama – the boards were a lifeline to many back then. Anyway, after saying yes, I was like what am I doing? What if it’s weird? What if they think we’re weird? What if it’s painfully awkward? It was awesome, of course. We had dinner and the kids engaged in a huge water balloon fight and the spouses (both tall guys named Jim) got on well. But my favorite moments were when Kristin and I visited several gardens – my small one out back, my friend Janna’s huge one down the street, and the plots out at Meadowbrook. I might have even had a plot out there that year – I can’t remember. I think Kristin was impressed with the utter fertility of the place. At any rate, it was the smell of the Meadowbrook gardens on that specific day that has stayed with me – humid air, warmed soil, the dill that ran rampant in all the garden plots every year…]

… but I sucked it up and went to work. I came home later and started tending to this.

Greens

When I planted the greens, I knew I’d be getting more than the seeds I was planting. I’m not one for neat beds, that’s for sure; calendula had lived in the bed the year before, lamb’s quarter lives EVERYWHERE in my yard, always, and I know from experience that if you let even one dill plant go to seed, you’re going to have it in unexpected places in the spring. And so it is with the greens patch this year. It smells delicious.

I did weed a huge patch of zinnias. I opened a beer and brought my radio out to help the task along. Jim came outside and chatted with me as I picked and pulled. Mattie Flicktail Lonesome settled into the garlic to observe the dogs in the yard behind us.

Garlic Cat

Mattie and her son, Teacups Nibbles Lonesome (not pictured), are quite fond, this year, of hanging out with me in the yard, just like the CSN&Y song. They’re mostly fond of rolling around on top of whatever I’ve just planted, but it’s still pretty cool to have them out there. Back in the Chicken Days, I talked to the girls incessantly while I gardened; now I mostly gruff at the cats to quit rolling around in the flowers or to stop eating the grass that inevitably makes them hurl.

Times have changed, obviously, but the calendula, dill, and lamb’s quarter still reign (and smell) supreme.

Shorn Off, Pt. 1

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The weather here in the Midwest, which I’m certain most people are sick of talking/hearing/reading about, has finally taken a turn for the better. (Midwest is best!) Those chickens up there were complretely stoked to be outside in 40-degree (or so) sunshine. The BYI crew was out at my friend Cathe Capel’s place –  Seven Sisters Farm, in Sidney, Illinois – to watch (and film) the annual shearing of her small flock of very woolly (and in some cases, very pregnant) sheep.

First we had a freaking awesome meal around the dining room table in Cathe’s gorgeous 19th century abode. She dished up chili, cornbread, pie, strong coffee, and a most convivial table. I wish I could adequately explain how I feel about settings like this. I wanted to hug everyone while we were eating.

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We also ate some tea eggs that Emma from Lucky Duck Farm brought to share. They were exquisitely dessert-like. I love eggs anyway, but these were… sublime.

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After we ate, we went into the barn, where Tigger lives. She has three legs, amazing green eyes, and is a total badass.

IMG_6980We got a look at some vintage shearing equipment – this clipper hand crank (not sure what the actual nomenclature is) dates to 1910.

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The sheep were like, we know something is going on but cannot quite remember what it is. Hmm.

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Harold Davis, a sheep-shearing legend in Illinois, showed the group how to get to it, New Zealand style. Harold has shorn 900,000 sheep in his day and knows what he’s doing. Needless to say, the rest of us were not interested in giving this particular method a go.

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Part Two: I meet a ewe named Dawn, I come to grips with the clippers, and I feel sad when leaving Sidney. I’ll post that this week.

In the meantime, enjoy this radio piece I did two years ago (you can tell it was two years ago because I talk about how winter never came) about the same class, led that time by another Illinois shearing rockstar, Dick Cobb. He’ll also feature in Part Two.

OK. Time to jet. Cosmos is on.