Sunday, October 31, 2010

Opinions on trick-or-treaters

I spent about three hours today dressed for warmth and hanging out on my porch to give out candy. Mr. Gaba joined me for about an hour and a half of it, and for almost the entire three hours a neighborhood boy, Tony, sat on our porch swing and we chatted. Other neighbors stopped by and mostly it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours. Last year I ran out of candy in less than one hour so this year I over-bought, but it became clear that this October I’m on a much less popular street.
I bear no ill will to the late October beggars who come clambering up my stairs for candy, but I do expect them to at least attempt to costume themselves with more than a grocery bag in hand to identify themselves as trick-or-treaters. In one case, two boys clad in jeans, sneakers, dark sweatshirts and open jackets (it was hovering just below 50 degrees) climbed up my stairs and held out their Wal-mart bags, I asked, “So what are you supposed to be?” They stared at me, ignored my question, said, “Trick or Treat” and then failed to say thank you after I put candy in their bags. At that point I decided that any kid approaching with no sign of any costume would get one piece of candy. Kids who made an effort of any sort: face paint (one kid had his face painted black which was hard to see until he got up my stairs since it was almost the same shade as the rest of his skin), a hat or even a mask carried in their hand or worn off their face would get two. The fully clad Spiderman got four.
The other thing I noticed was the lack of imaginative costumes. They either didn’t try to dress up at all, only wore one piece of costume, or were in obviously store bought costumes that screamed “we went to a Halloween store.” There were no monochromatic kids with cone shaped paper hats and a hand drawn color label down their front and back, no cardboard robots, no fairies with tinfoil star wands, not even an assortment of bums or hobos. The closest to made-it-up-from-what-we-had-around were two boys with shoulder pads who carried helmets that appeared to be part of their pee-wee football uniforms. It is sort of sad. When I was a kid Halloween was an occasion for creativity and ingenuity; now it’s just an opportunity to get candy—costume optional. In some cases coming to the door was optional as well, as in the case of one mother holding three bags and expecting me to put treats in each, as her little ones didn’t want to get out of the warmth of the car—they also only got one piece each.


lhg edited and approved

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dorian's tale last report from the air.

Sep 12, 2010 in the air over America

When asked what I wanted to do in Utah I came up blank. While I feel that it is always good when you travel to try and take in the local culture I made the trip to get a cat and I was more than a little short on ideas. One thing was for sure. I don’t really care at all about Mormon history. In the end we did something that I’m very glad indeed that I did. Sadly without a guided tour, but I visited the state capital. It makes for a rather odd addition to capitals I’ve scoped out: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and Utah. (Insert Sesame Street—“One of these things is not like the others” music here)

After the capital we stopped a few streets away at the Catholic cathedral which, of all the catholic buildings I’ve been in is, in decorating terms, “Not afraid of color.”

So I managed to find a state building and a church to tour in Utah, and I took pictures of the lions and a Manhattan Indian and avoided shots of Brigham Young.

We also stopped at an Old Navy to get Jillian some much needed fall clothes, and in the process drove past a Brazilian festival at the downtown mall.

While Utah is not known for its great food I did enjoy some all you can eat sushi, some really good hummus and pita bread at a place called Roosters, and when we went to a Five Guys burger joint I learned of a local custom—fry sauce. Fry sauce is an alternative to ketchup for your fries. It consists of ketchup, mayo and pickle juice. I tried it twice to be sure, but I don’t think I’ll be trying to make my own at home.
In my mixed up, screwed up head I planned this trip with the impression that I was coming home on Monday, so I packed for that and it wasn’t until we were headed to the capital on Saturday that I learned of my mistake. We double checked our various itinerary e-mails when we got back before dinner and sure enough I was flying out Sunday. I then once again got in frantic traveling mode. It’s just as well that I spent most of Saturday believing I had an extra day, it made me a much calmer person to be around.

I had told Latif he was getting me Monday so I called and left him a message to return my call so I would sleep better. He called somewhere close to 11pm and I slept as well as I can the day before flying. I was up at 5am. I used the computer and read up on flying with cats and what to expect. I made a list of things of Dorian’s that I needed to ask about and then I got myself ready and packed everything up. 8:20 we left for church. It was about 12:30 when we got home. I changed and gathered things up and said goodbye and they said goodbye to their cat. For all concerned this is the best of all worlds. They know Dorian is going to a good home they know that they will be able to see him come summer when they visit Milwaukee again for the SSP retreat and to take in that great city on a Great Lake.

Five years ago the Greens took Dorian in. Five years ago I lost both my cats. I was offered many cats after I lost the second one in our house fire, but I think we were just waiting for Dorian to need a home. In about two hours he’ll be in Riverwest.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dorian's back story

Mike and Amy had friends in New Orleans who bought a home and were told that the cat came with it. The friends were told the cat male but as it turns out that “male” cat gave birth to kittens underneath the home. They were all terribly flea infested, one was so bad her back legs had so much blood drawn that she couldn’t stand. That kitten was taken to the vet, cleaned up and named Gloria. Mike and Amy took her home and spoiled her rotten. Gender confusion seemed to run in the family, because after a while someone pointed out that Gloria was a male. Not wanting to confuse a cat that had gotten used to the tone of his name they searched for something male that sounded similar enough and settled on Dorian. That is how an orange and white cat ended up with a name that leads everyone to assume that he is gray. Dorian by then was completely healthy—he has a slightly unusual gate for a cat but you’d have to be looking for it to notice. He was also neutered and much to his owner’s later regret completely declawed. He will have to remain an indoor cat for the rest of his life. Just as he was getting to full size Katrina hit. The Greens were on the move and Dorian became a Katrina refugee. Mike got a job in Salt Lake and they relocated there. Amy flew with Dorian to their new home on Delta and bought the carrier that he now sits in at my feet.
Dorian enjoyed only-child status in the home, as the Greens worked to adopt, being told that they just may not be able to have children in the more conventional way. Dorian got used to not having children around and when a small nephew visited, decided that he didn’t like this little person and bit him. Not long after that, God surprised the Greens with Jillian, their miracle baby. Now Amy had a problem. Dorian was not getting the attention he was used to and went into a deep depression, she considered giving him to a no-kill shelter, but felt that she would always worry that a new owner would abuse him or let him outside. She wasn’t sure that Dorian would take to Jillian once she became mobile, and keeping up with the amount of fur was getting hard since the baby took priority. “I’d be coming upstairs with a baby in one arm and laundry in the other and see him and realize that I hadn’t pet him all day. I just felt so guilty.”

The timing of this small new addition to our lives truthfully could not be better. Latif is working essentially 2nd shift. The change from three months of him being there to him being almost instantly totally absent was startling, so I’m glad that in the evenings I will have someone to keep me company and to talk to. Cats are great listeners, as I discovered with my cat Neko when I was a teen. If you talk to yourself people will think you are crazy but talking to an animal is perfectly sane, though I will admit that I got some stares for appearing to talk to my carry-on luggage.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dorians Tale part 3

Sep 12, 2010 6:40pm Las Vegas

Dorian is stowed below the seat in front of me for what, I’m sure he hopes, is his last flight. Again it’s a full flight and again it is leaving late.

I got to the Salt Lake airport with plenty of time. Paid the $75 for pet transport, got him tagged, and then turned my bags over to security. I checked two bags. One was my stuff; the other was a hard case pet taxi, filled with Dorian’s food, toys, water bowl, and litter scoop & lint rollers. With wheels on the suitcase and cat stuff not weighing as much as the cat, I found getting to security a bit of a challenge. I ended up making a request at security; Dorian was skittish and I didn’t want to take him out of the bag. I asked if it could be hand inspected they said no but opened a gate and took the cat carrier. I went through security and followed two security agents to a small room where I held Dorian and an agent patted him down (she really likes cats.) while the other one ran the carrier through the x-ray machine. They declared both bomb free. When the guy brought in the bag Dorian practically jumped back into it and squatted down to make it easy to zip shut. It was a far cry from the wrestling match Amy and I did to get him zipped into it for the trip to the airport.

After security I needed to hike to my gate. It was not a short trip and while Dorian is not the fattest cat I’ve ever owned, he’s not the lightest either. The carrier has no wheels and by the time I found my gate the first order of business was getting a drink, and taking some pills for my back and then doing a little bit of stretching—stretching that I failed to do in Vegas. I didn’t notice until that point that the flight was delayed. We got off the ground an hour late. I felt sorry for Dorian who could have enjoyed another hour not trapped in a carrier. That’s the thing, as long of a day as it is for me I can at least do things like eat, drink, and most importantly, use a bathroom. I did bring a bit of food for him but we cut off his water supply before leaving for church. I’ve wet my fingers a few times on my trips to bathrooms and stuck them in the carrier in case he would like to lick them dry. I’ve also grabbed a few of his food pellets and from time to time have offered him some. In truth I’m glad that my flight from Salt Lake was late because given the choice I’d much rather sit in that airport and watch the Packer game on monitors, than sit in the sun in Vegas and have to look at slot machines. Go Pack Go. The game was just finishing the 3rd quarter when we boarded. For the first half I was sitting too far away. I thought Dorian would enjoy looking out a window so I sat by the windows that were far from the monitors. People asked about him and I happily told his story. Vegas no one made eye-contact even though we’re all headed back to Wisconsin. I tried to strike up a conversation with one woman, but she didn’t seem to enjoy the idea of returning to Milwaukee as much as I did.

In Las Vegas we were supposed to land at gate B12 and the flight was to take off from B12, but because they were holding flights for those who were late our plan gated at B20 and again I had some walking to do with a very squirmy cat. With Southwest’s numbered boarding system and this trip being planned back in July, I had good numbers. For the first flight I was the 68th passenger to board. For the next I was 32. All the planes are the same 737s and If you must know I like to sit just behind the wing on the left side when facing front. Row 17 is my favorite but with a bunch of crumbs on the floor this flight I moved one row back and I’ve got to tell you I don’t like the position of the windows. It’s kind of sad. Each flight is a bit less fun than the one before. The pilot just chimed in and the wind is in our favor so we may not be too late. The book I was reading I finished, so all I’ve got now is my writing.

I didn’t’ buy dinner; the Vegas airport did not impress me at all.