Friday, May 28, 2010

West Philadelphia Orchestra

The West Philadelphia Orchestra performs at the Kimmel Center.

I suspect the tuba Sousaphone player has marching band experience, based on his footwork while playing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I walk Mini around at least part of the perimeter of the old Naval Hospital every day. It's popular with other dog-walkers, as well as people who walk, run, or bike for exercise. (The bikers belong in the street, not on the pavement, but that's a rant for another day.)

What never ceases to amaze me is the number of people who feel compelled to do their walking, running, or biking with earphones on. (I thought biking with earphones was illegal. Again, I'll save that rant for some other time.) Why is it that everyone feels compelled to tune out the outside world and put themselves in their own little audio bubble?

I ask this because the old Naval Hospital grounds are far from being a concrete jungle... there are trees, rabbits, squirrels, and birds galore. I was amazed when a cottontail let me get within 15 feet of it, maybe closer, before hopping calmly to the opposite side of a fence. (And if it was smaller than Mini, all I can say is it wasn't smaller by much. LOL.)

In any event, at this time of year, the birds are singing nonstop. And I wouldn't WANT to play man-made music, which I can listen to at any time, in lieu of listening to the birdcalls. There appear to be at least three pairs of mockingbirds, plus multiple doves and some red-winged blackbirds just on one border of the old Hospital perimeter, and I've heard some additional birdcalls that suggest there are other species as well. (Though it could just be the mockingbirds showing off, lol.)

I just can't see the point of drowning out Mother Nature's daily concert with man-made music. People, put the darn earphones away and enjoy what's around you. Especially in a lovely area that's been carefully designed and manicured to make the entire neighborhood a more pleasent place. Carpe the doggoned diem, rather than tuning it out.

Darn heat

This darn heat. I am going out relatively late in the day to walk the dog, but that's only been a limited help. The sidewalk is still hot, and there's only so much one can do for one's dog when she's tiny and her legs only raise her a few inches above the hot pavement.

She seems to have figured out independently, at least sometimes, that walking on grass is cooler and so is walking in the limited amount of shade we have. But still, we've cut the walks short the past few days due to the dog just getting way too hot.

And this is WITH my giving her water every half block or so once she starts panting. I think she actually recognizes the command, "Drink your water", because she seems to be responding to it by taking a couple laps of water.

I also have a misting bottle. She's not over-fond of that, but she'll stand there and put up with it, albeit with a droopy tail and a sad face, when I wet her down a bit.

We just got back home a few minutes ago and she was still panting a lot. I lowered the temp of the AC a few degrees, turned on the big fan in the living room to circulate the air, misted the dog and sat her in front of one of my small fans. THEN she was all tail-wags and happy doggy faces, so it must have felt good.

Five minutes later, no more panting. She's all better. :-)

Too hot for May, darn it

Say, Mother Nature... about these 90+ temperatures? We're still only 2/3 into SPRING. I wouldn't normally quibble about these things, but I have to walk the dog and DARN but it's hot out there.

Can we have our nice spring temperatures back? Thanks.

Seeing Stars

Joe M. and Pat M. combined their talents for an excellent dinner/cabaret tonight at the Highnote Cafe. The theme was "Seeing Stars", and all the songs had lyrics mentioning stars in one way or another. They both did an outstanding job. The place was packed with Joe's family and friends from all aspects of his life, which was pretty cool, too.

The food was great, and so was the show... so it's time to start pestering Joe to find out when there'll be another one. :-D

I only wish there'd been a recording or, even better, video. Dangit. Actually, the thing I'm going to be pestering Joe about, for starters, is to make that CD of the music he hinted at during the performance. THAT would rock.

After THAT, we can start bugging him about the next cabaret. ;-)

Monday, May 24, 2010


In a word: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! The Flyers are in the Finals!

The deafening roar you heard chanted at the end of the game was, "We want the CUP! We want the CUP!" The parking lots around the Wach Center were chaotic and full of fans and cars with honking horns.

The rejoicing continued in the Subway, and when we got out at Oregon, chaos had already been in progress for a while. From the north side of Oregon and proceeding as far north as the eye could see, Broad Street was *completely* filled with revelers covering every available inch of pavement and street. There was zero chance of traffic getting through any of that, so we had cops routing cars in a detour around the celebration.

From Broad and Oregon, we drove home, and even from here we can STILL hear the car horns going.

The city has gone bananas and we're still four wins away from the actual championship. UNREAL. I love it!

LET'S GO, FLYERS!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pata Pata

What did we do before search engines? I mean, seriously? We had to sit there Not Knowing the information we were wondering about, or start calling friends and relatives on the off-chance that one of them could resolve a question or settle a bet.

Take tonight. I saw a car ad which played a song I remember from the 60s. I was pretty small then, well before the age of finding out the names of artists or song titles, so I literally had no clue what to look for. Not even the lyrics could help, because they weren't in English or in any other language that I have a hope in creation of recognizing. For all I knew at that age (think preschool/kindergarten), they were just random syllables strung together.

What did I do? I typed the car ad's slogan into the search engine bar on my web browser window. BOOM. Done. A pageful of answers sprang up. The song is "Pata Pata" by Miriam Makeba. She is a South African performer and the lyrics are in the Xhosa language.

CLICK HERE to watch a vintage TV performance of "Pata Pata" on YouTube.

In any event, my point is that within a minute of seeing the car ad and wondering what song they were using, I had one browser tab playing said song on a Youtube video, another tab from Wikipedia giving a history of the artist, and a tab with the lyrics in it. So, I repeat, what in HECK did we ever do before the internet and search engines came along?

I wouldn't want to go back to those days, that's for sure.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Surely you'll remember this

We're going into the "vaults" on rec.pets.cats.anecdotes and posting favorite old posts. So I went on a treasure hunt and located this one of mine.

January 14, 2003

(For those who are unfamiliar with Philadelphia pro sports, the Eagles and Flyers are two of our local teams. The Eagles are also this-close to qualifying for the championship of the National Football League, the Super Bowl. Predictably, the entire city has gone insane as a result.)

Sigh. This "Eagles Fever" is enough to make a non-football fan bananas. I mean, I'm definitely happy that the Eagles are one win away from reaching the Superbowl, but the unending Eagles coverage every moment of the day, well... aack! Overkill! (Either that, or treat the FLYERS this way when WE go deep into the playoffs. ;-) ) You can't turn on a local channel without seeing an Eagles story. Heck, it seems like every time I turn the faucet on, Eagles news stories come out.

Anyway. The other part of this, which I expected because I've seen it happen for the Flyers, too, is that everyone's decorating their home with Eagles paraphenalia. Banners, posters, signs in the window, that sort of thing. The skyline has joined in, and many of the builldings that normally sport white floodlighting during the year are done up with green lighting for the occasion.

This is all well and good. I think. Well, it STARTED out as well and good, lol...

We have a light outside the house, so DH thought he'd go get a green light bulb for it. He went out, and came back with a green bulb. Um, and also with a green flood light. LOL! We now have the front of the house awash in green light at night.

OK, so we have a green house now. That's fine. My favorite color is green, anyway. But DH wanted to do more. I made the mistake of remembering the *huge* teal balloon that we got from the Flyers' carnival a couple years ago. Me and my big mouth. I said, "It's a shame we don't have helium, we could put that big balloon outside the house." Well. Did you ever regret uttering words the moment they left you? DH found the balloon (deflated) in the drawer, and started inflating it. This had to happen in stages, because this thing's about the size of a very large beach ball at full size. Nobody but the Jolly Green Giant can inflate THAT completely, using their own breath, in one session.

Then he wanted to write GO EAGLES on it. I said, "Don't do that, the ink will probably screw up the balloon rubber and make it leak, over time". So he decided to take the Eagles 8x10 poster, courtesy of the Daily News last year in honor of last season's Eastern Conference championship, that has lived on our refrigerator since then. He taped that to the balloon instead, because on the reverse side of the football picture, THAT had a "Go Eagles!" sign on it.

He wanted to attach it outside the house. So he and the kitchen chair and the giant teal GO EAGLES beach ball all headed out the front door. I bit my tongue. Then I watched the interesting-looking silhouettes that were being made on our miniblinds, courtesy of the green floodlight, as DH did I Knew Not What to affix the giant teal GO EAGLES beach ball to our awning. When the mission was accomplished to his satisfaction, he and the kitchen chair returned from the great outdoors, leaving the giant teal GO EAGLES beach ball creating rather vigorously-waving round shadows on our miniblinds, courtesy of the green floodlight. It was very windy last night.

Harmony sat and looked at the round, constantly moving shadow on the miniblind. She was hypnotized by this, as only cats CAN be, and just sat at attention watching the show.

I asked DH, "What did you attach the balloon to?"

"To a rubber band."

"What did you attach the rubber band to?"

"A paper clip."

This was getting me nowhere, fast. "What did you attach the PAPER CLIP to?"

"To one of those white clips that we hung the Christmas lights from".

I didn't think that the "white clip", a piece of plastic that kind of slid onto the edge of the awning like a clothespin, was going to stand up to that wind, not with a giant teal GO EAGLES beachball dangling from it. But I just said, "Oh." Harmony just kept watching the vigorously-waving round shadow dance in the green floodlight.

About a half hour later, DH noticed that Harmony had lost interest in staring at the green-floodlit front window. Sure enough, the vigorously-waving round shadow was nowhere to be seen. He looked out the door. Also emulating the Margaret Mitchell classic (Gone with the Wind) were the giant teal GO EAGLES beach ball, the rubber band, the paper clip, and the white clip that helped affix the Christmas lights to the awning. DH donned his coat and went out to search for it, but it was a lost cause. Goodness knows when it came off, or where it went, but it was well and truly vanished by the time DH went out looking for it.

Our prevailing wind was from the southwest last night, so the giant teal GO EAGLES beachball could be headed your way. If you see it, send it back. In the meantime, we're not only out one mega-sized balloon, we're also missing a 2001 Eagles conference championship poster and one of the clips for the Christmas lights. Grrr.... I hope that next December we don't regret reducing the population of Christmas light awning clips by one.

Those Eagles had better have two more wins left in them this season (next Sunday and the Super Bowl), or I am gonna be seriously steamed.


Ten Easy Pieces

Last weekend, we had a get-together at JFM's, and he was talking about a Maureen McGovern performance he'd attended. That got us talking about her song choices... how could she NOT do the theme from "Angie"? For goodness sakes, anybody who can peg that top note ought to be flaunting it. Unless, with the passage of time, she's found it increasingly difficult to reach the female falsetto range... it can happen. (In which case, she should've done the song anyway, sans the falsetto, because I've always liked the song. :-) )

In any case, the fact that a Jimmy Webb tribute was included in the performance got us talking about the songs he wrote. Karla mentioned the Webb album "Ten Easy Pieces", which includes several of the song choices that were in the tribute.

That reminded me that I actually HAVE the album in question, in digital form. So I've been playing it. Good songs. Here's a link to the album itself, complete with the abiity to play song clips, on Amazon:

P.S. If you like Glen Campbell, you'll like this album, as Mr. Campbell made hits out of a lot of these songs. Overall, it's interesting to hear the actual songwriter's take on music that other artists have not only recorded, but received significant amounts of airtime and had major hits with. Webb's take on some of the music is very different from that of some artists that have used it (cough*MACARTHUR PARK*cough). I like giving my ears a little lesson on how many different ways a piece of music can be interpreted. And in that case, it's hard to go wrong when using the interpretation of the person who WROTE the song in the first place. :-)

Anyway, I've been reminding myself over the past couple of days how I like the album. It's nice to revisit music that I hadn't spent time listening to in a while. ("Listening", as opposed to "used as audio wallpaper while doing something else".) Go try it now, with an album that's fallen into the background in your own music collection, and you'll surely agree with me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Yesterday, while I was walking the dog, I saw a young robin hopping around. But his tail feathers were so short, I'm not convinced he was old enough to be on the ground. I think his wings/tail feathers need more time to develop.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get quite as close to him as I would have liked. I wanted a better look at those tail feathers, but the birdie had other ideas. Though Mini showed no real interest in the robin, the bird wanted no parts of me or the dog and kept running away. Smart bird. At least he knows enough to avoid potential predators. I'm hoping the parent birds will still feed him while he's on the ground, if he hasn't got enough feather growth to get back into the trees.

I'll be out on foot, sans the dog, at some point today to go vote. I'll keep an eye open when I'm in the general area where I saw the robin yesterday. Without the dog, I'll have both hands free to possibly boost the little guy into the nearest tree, should I happen to find him still on the ground and not ready for flight.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Pgh/Mtl game is on Arenavision at the Wach Center.

The Pgh/Mtl game is on Arenavision at the Wach Center. Montreal just took a 1-0 lead, drawing a roar of approval from the Flyers fans who have arrived early.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Celebration of Misty

I was looking through Google Groups at some of my old Usenet posts on the rec.pets.cats discussion group. I ran across the one I was hoping was still out there, since I've been thinking about it lately. Having my first-ever dog has brought to my mind some of the stories about my first-ever *cat*. Here is the post I wrote for what would have been the 20th anniversary of Misty's birth.

A Celebration of Misty -- April 24, 1976 - November 24, 1989

Twenty years ago, on April 24, 1976, the world became a better place. That's the day that a small puff of grey-and-white fur, soon to be known as "Misty", arrived on the face of the earth. For the next 13 1/2 years, she delighted everyone who knew her, not just with her beauty, but with her cleverness and her friendliness. She went to the Rainbow Bridge six and a half years ago, and although I miss her to this day, this post is not intended to focus on mourning her loss. I am posting this to celebrate her life.

It's a miracle that I ever got a cat in the first place. When I was a child, I was not allowed to have a pet, because my mom was extremely afraid of animals. I wanted a dog, but that was out of the question, because Mom's phobia of dogs was worse than her fear of anything else. I wasn't really a "cat person" at that time, although I liked ALL animals. By the time I was 10, I'd started giving lunchmeat to every neighborhood stray cat that I happened upon; this was as close as I could come to actually *having* a pet. The problem was that I always got attached to these cats and would beg my parents to let me keep them; the answer was always "No". When I was 11, I got very, VERY attached to a magnificent tuxedo-cat stray, and when I was not allowed to keep HIM, I cried so much, for so many days in a row, that I literally got sick. It must've been the trips to the doctor, the missed school days, and the 104 degree fever from this episode that started to change my dad's mind, because he was not a "cat person" either. He'd grown up with a dog, and would've preferred getting a puppy, not a kitten. However, after I got sick, he started trying to talk my mother into allowing me to have a cat. It took him over a year to convince her, but finally, it worked! My parents agreed in the spring of 1976 that, at the end of the school year, I could get a kitten. I was 12 years old.

I borrowed every single book from our neighborhood library branch that contained info about cat care, and read them until I could recite the info in my sleep. :) During this time, my friends' next door neighbor's cat gave birth to kittens, which would turn 7 weeks old on the day after school let out in June. We went to look at the litter and choose a kitten. Ever since I wasn't allowed to take in that stray tuxedo cat the year before,I'd been promising myself that I'd choose a tuxedo cat over any other color pattern. There were 3 female kittens available, and two of them were black-and-white tuxedo cats! I was delighted. The third kitten was grey and white, and the people whose cat it was made it clear that their favorite of the litter - possibly of ALL her litters, EVER - was the grey one. They felt there was just Something About That Kitten. After spending time with all three kittens, I astonished myself by agreeing with them. Though I'd walked in with my heart set on getting a tuxedo cat, I walked out agreeing that the grey kitten was The One For Me.

Picture a cat with incredibly soft fur and a solid dark grey body (except in bright sunlight, when dark-on-dark grey tabby markings were visible). Imagine that her chin, throat, and tummy are brilliant white, her face and legs have light-on-dark grey tabby markings. Visualize a cat with gold eyes - not yellow, but a nearly-metallic GOLD in color. Combine these features with an intelligent, affectionate personality and an ever-ready loud purrrrrr, and you've got a good idea what Misty was like.

Athletic she was not; one of my friends described Misty as "a stuffed animal that purrs". She had no shyness around new people; in her experience, humans' main goal in life was to dote on her. One of her early nicknames, "Misty-poo", eventually got shortened to "Poo". One of her favorite games was to catch playing cards that I "frisbeed" at her. She used to sit in the front window and "play" with the fingers tapping on the outside of the glass, but she gave up on this activity after she got over-excited and rolled right off the windowsill one day. Everything made her purr, such as when I'd fit our profiles together and tell her, "I put my nose on you". She loved when I sang to her; sometimes I'd take a song with the word "you" in the lyrics and change it to "Poo". She loved that most of all - she would purr even louder every time I did it. :) My favorite of the songs that I re-worded for her was a verse from "Master of the House" from _Les_Miserables_:

Misty of the House,
Pretty little Poo,
Cute and grey and pampered and a fuzzball, too!
Stretching with a yawn,
Sleeping on the bed,
All she has to do all day is purr and shed!
And she loves to watch the birdies,
And she's never seen a mouse,
Fast enough to catch a cold is the Misty of the house!

Misty, you were my first cat, and to me you're the First Cat. By the time you left, you'd been with me for more than half of my life. I raised you and grew up with you, and every cat I have after you will be adopted, not only because you helped me discover that I'm truly a "cat person", but also to honor your memory. When you went to the Rainbow Bridge, part of me went with you, but you left part of yourself with me in return. There'll never be another one like you, which makes me feel all the more blessed that you were my soul-cat. One of the best things I ever did was decide that the grey kitten was The One For Me. You left behind so many wonderful memories that the world is still a better place today, even though it did diminish a bit when you left us. However, on the very day you left us, the Rainbow Bridge became a better place. I'll see you when I get there.

Purrs, hugs, and kisses to you from Donna, and the two Little Sisters adopted after you, Melody and Harmony

P.S. I put my nose on you.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What's wrong with THIS picture?

So I went with a friend today for his first visit to a low-vision specialist. As a new patient, my friend had to fill out some forms. The freaking paperwork was in the TINIEST PRINT imaginable, and was obviously xeroxed numerous times because it was all speckly and blurry.

How the flying farg is a low-vision patient supposed to read something like that? I don't have vision loss and I could barely make out some of the words.


And yes, I did mention the issue to the doctor.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Good News and Blah News

I've got some good news and not-so-good news today.

The good news: All went well when we brought Mini for a long day out at my sister-in-law's, as part of my brother-in-law's 60th birthday party. All the humans had a great time, and Mini was very well-behaved and liked all the doting she got.

Bad news #1: my mother-in-law was under the weather with a stomach virus and couldn't be there. My father-in-law stayed home with her. I hope she's feeling better in time for Mother's Day on Sunday. I hated to see them miss the b-day party, but I know that sometimes the three best things for fighting off a bug are rest, rest, and rest. Phooey on stomach trouble.

Bad news #2: Mini ate lunchmeat at the party yesterday, as well as a little bit of junk food (little bits of tortilla chips), resulting in, shall we say, two different types of digestive issues today. That's the end of feeding her non-dog-food... next time we're going to be out of the house at dinner time, I'm bringing a sandwich baggie of dog food. Live and learn.

Also, it seems that I've used the last of my migraine medication. I could have sworn I had two more doses, but no luck. I guess the last one I used, the "carry in the purse for emergencies" dose, was the last one. I hasten to add that it's great that I haven't had a migraine since late last year. Going MONTHS between migraines is excellent. But unfortunately, my head's not doing so well at the moment and being out of medicine is a great big BOO HISS. I went to my old standby, Alka-Seltzer, which is the OTC med I used to take for migraines before I got the prescription.

Oh, well. I guess I'll be on the phone tomorrow getting the Imitrex script renewed.

We did get a good walk in today for Mini, between her bouts of digestive rebellion and before my head started to feel like it was going to fall off. She was great with the two little dogs we met during the course of the walk. Sometimes she ignores other dogs, sometimes she barks at them, but today she was all kinds of friendly. :-) Good girl.