Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-CHANges

I just read an article suggesting that: to embrace cold weather is to love cold weather.  That's what people reportedly do in the upper reaches of Norway--Tromso to be specific--where the sun barely glimmers from November through February. In chilly, sun-filtered Michigan, interesting to think of a frozen town in far-off, exotic Tromso, Norway.  There, in a twilight kind of sky, heavily-bundled persons ski out windows, drink hot cocoa, and do snuggly things under furs.  All very communal and friendly (1).

Novembers have always been dear to my heart.  Today, that's eating beef kidney stew, surfing the Net, and swilling hot, black tea. But November has taken on added meaning for me, the last couple years.  Now, it's also a harbinger of Winter as a Suck-The-Life-From-Old-People change. Getting older changes things.  Things like my body, specifically. Those changes don't ease in, either.  Last November, I watched my face and skin dry out in a matter of a few days when temperatures plunged and humidity disappeared.  And there are the aches and twinges, building up.  It has dawned on me that those aches and twinges are not going away.   Ergo arthritis is a permanent part of my life.  And here it is, November again.  That means more wrinkles and stiff joints.  Which builds character.

I read about the Happy Norwegians and wonder about their arthritis status in the cold months.  The study about Tromso did not go there.  So I Google "international arthritis rates " and find this interesting chart, which I can't figure out.  But it clearly shows that all countries will give you arthritis (2)

Apparently, arthritis thrives everywhere on the planet, whether or not the weather is cold.  Moving to Australia might or might not make a difference, according to the chart which I can't read.  Possibly people in Australia are physically active enough to keep arthritis at bay, but not enough to damage joints. It's hard to tell.  If you figure it out, let me know.

I do herbs, stretch, walk around town, do some gym. Every effort helps.  Movement is life, they say, and I believe it. But those things won't stop changes, just ease them.  Maybe without changes, we'd all lose interest.

I visualize ageing people in Tromso, scooting out snow-bound windows on sled or skis.  With hot grogg in one hand.  I'll adopt Tromso's plan and slide into changes.  Easier on the joints.


1. http://www.fastcompany.com/3052970/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/the-norwegian-secret-to-enjoying-a-long-winter
2. http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/a/arthritis/stats-country.htm

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cultural Re-Programming is a Large Task, Which Requires Research

Such a day. Only 11:30 a.m. and already I've saved bits of The World. Saving The World has to be done in bits, it's the only way.  Unless you surpass Moses, who could only face down the immense Glory of God in a burning bush metaphor. Too much info burns out the circuits.  Fortunately, I'm armed in my overwhelming mission with Mom's certainty that she was Always Right, and with Dad's ability to sit at the kitchen table and talk to himself.  We all have unique superpowers.  The laptop is a requisite weapon, the Internet my supernatural helper, and a sense of humor essential. 

I've put in my 2 bits today, via Facebook's Baker's Creek Heirloom Seeds blog (1), against the pending threat of unlabeled Genetically Modified foods. BCHS is a radical group in the Ozarks of Missouri, which protects heirloom seeds and speaks out about food issues in the States. They posted this article about unlabeled GM food, which I found frightening enough to share with as many people as I can (2).

It's easy to attract angry people on FB blogs, by posting an opinion.  I've researched this.  Sometimes I think I shouldn't express an opinion on a public forum.  But public opinion tends to be expressed most vocally by radical minorities; a lot of moderates just don't speak up, perhaps knowing that eventually all issues fade into the background as new ones arise. I'm sure I've said a lot of stupider stuff when I was younger, myself, so I have a certain amount of sympathy for protestors and younger, inexperienced stupid people.  But I also feel that, like Mom, I have to set things straight.  Its my responsibility as an older, and formerly more stupid, person to perpetuate the species by helping them see things straight.  I am old enough to remember the thalidomide horror from the 50's (3), Agent Orange defoliant from Vietnam (supposed to be safe for people, huh?), and the recent (like today) FDA renewed, upgraded, warning that Ibuprofen and it's ilk can be fatal (4).It makes good sense,  if the Powers That Be screw up even once in a while on chemical malfunctions, to be skeptical of anything they say.  Lifting advice from an article which I read and then lost, Nature is a slow-moving force.  Give it a good 50 years of testing before messing with any tweaks of it.  In addition to the uncertainty of the source, type, and reliability of testing on GM foods (or any chemicals marketed to the public; like um Roundup, recently after MANY YEARS declared the murderer of Monarch Butterflies) a great many sources have also suggested that palms are being greased to deny and forbid GM labeling.  Being an American citizen, I believe these sources have a point.  Some companies are probably paying big bucks to get their GM food products sold.  Marketing did the incredibly unthinkable practice of fracking no good, because of all the places in Oklahoma and Texas where the ground is caving in and stuff. A great many people eyewitness that it is, in fact, a bad practice.  So GM companies say, " skip trying to convert the public, just vote against labeling foods GM or OR GM-free.  Let them eat it all, and don't tell them which it is."  I can only hope that there are some lawmakers who also have Mom's ability to be Always Right, and invoke it, soon.

What I have come to realize about Being Right and Saving the World is that it requires more than just eye-opening counter-information.  It requires the leadership abilities of Franklin Roosevelt, who talked the country into WW2 by using a fire hose metaphor.  It requires the otherworldly scientific ability of a Carl Sagan, with turtlenecks and galactic-sized facts. 

Most of all, it requires Herculean Cultural Re-Programming.  The ability to divert a couple rivers and clean out the Augean stables, in a manner of speaking (5).  We, the People of the U.S., tend to believe what our doctors tell us, what TV advertisements claim, what the FDA advises, and other things that do not come directly from Always Right sources who care for our physical well-being.  Its a joke that in the U.S. we have so many choices, so much available to us, that we can afford to make choices.  And we can make stupid choices and get away with them.  For a while, til they catch up.  As I argued with one FB blogger, giving GM food to starving people in other countries is a moot argument for not labeling GM food--starving people in other countries will take anything to not starve, even our crap.  Monsanto, or some other chemical company, should consider offering free birth control along with GM products, if they really want to help people.  Which they don't, they really want to make a profit.  Am I right?

So I have a lot more sympathy for Mom these days.  Being Always Right means swaying opinions, sorting out all kinds of screwed-up thinking, taking flak from dissenters.  Mom didn't worry about backing up Right with facts, however.  Her kids had to do what she told them, period. I on the other hand acquired a degree which compels me to at least make a passing effort to get some facts and line them up.  I am not keen on giving space to opposing opinions, however; that training fell on barren soil.  But here's where Dad genes come in:  I talk to myself a lot, chew things over as he put it, until the smoke clears and things come together.  Which I hope, with practice, will give me an FDR edge.

There are a lot of issues besides GM to re-program The World on.  The whole plastic, illusory lifestyle of the U.S. needs some shakedown.  What with growing conviction by even nay-sayers that the Earth is undergoing a 6th Mass Extinction, precipitated by humans (our era gets to be called the Anthropecene in honor of us fucking things up, almost exclusively), the Augean Stables of cultural programming needs to be cleaned up, fast.  I left my day job to save the planet, so I'll keep plugging away.  I'd appreciate suggestions, especially for useful public-swaying metaphors.  I'm just no poet. 

Here's a helpful assignment in the meantime:  Boycott individual Bottled Water Bottles. 
Next assignment:  Composting is fun and easy.

 
1.  Baker's Heirloom Seed Company.  Radical stuff on this blog, they get really aggressive about GMOs in particular.  It is fitting that they are headquartered in the Ozarks, which is as good a place as any to headquarter a Green Revolution and call down government stupidity on Food and Drugs. I follow them on Facebook, had some extended violent disagreements from people posting on their blog who( undoubtedly) work for Monsanto or it's subsidiaries, and feel that GMOs shouldn't be labeled.  So I had to block several of them from my FB, hopefully preventing future Monsanto-sponsored reprisals on GM-labeled supporters.  http://www.rareseeds.com/news/

2.  http://www.gmwatch.org/  July 20, 2015,  The top story, on glyphosphates, is scary enough, but if you're game read them all, and never never eat GM foods.  Knowingly.  Which might be tough if legislation is passed to forbid labeling in the U.S.   This makes me think of Aspartame, which is also really harmful to health and which other countries like Japan never took up with.  the U.S. embraces aspartame and now is hedging on its safety.  Sheesh, like imbibing huge amounts of any chemical is fine with sheep.

3. Thalidomide, and heroine Frances Oldham Kelsey https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide#United_States

4. AARP is good info.  Who knew Ibuprofen was bad for seniors?  I didn't.  http://blog.aarp.org/2015/07/20/new-painkiller-warning-what-does-it-mean-for-you/

5. Hercules and the 5th Labor http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Herakles/stables.html
 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cheer Up, Stuff Happens

Last summer, a surprise plant popped up in the shady southwest corner of the yard, under the mulberry tree. The plant was about 8 inches tall, and bore small, pale, round, orange fruits inside a paper shell lantern.  I thought maybe it was deadly nightshade, which is deadly (2).  I was planning to look it up, when I saw it at a local farmer's market.  It was a ground cherry (1), which is a member of the nightshade family, but not deadly (be sure to know the difference before trying things out in your yard).  They taste like musky, light cherries.  I know that they are a wild edible, but I don't know how it got in my yard.  It could've come on the wind, in the feces of an animal, or laid dormant in the soil for decades, waiting for it's Moment to arrive.  A mystery to me, because I have no comprehension of the scope of the universe.  So I'll just defer to Jeff Goldblum's classic line about self-fertilizing Raptor eggs in Jurassic Park:  life finds a way.

Fascinating how flora just Shows Up. The first settlers to America knew well that Nature in their new domain had to be actively fought off, or It would win. A few centuries later, that landscape has been raped.  In fact all over the planet it seems like Earth has decidedly lost a few rounds in the Battle to Be.  But looks are deceptive.  There is The Obvious, and there is The Insidious.  American suburbanites, for example, obviously commandeer water and pesticides and wide open spaces, like there is no tomorrow and no competition. What is a raccoon or a honeybee or a fish or old-growth tree going to say about humans trashing prime real estate, really?  A manicured yard gives the impression that Man, not Nature, is in control; everything looks uniform, cookie-cutter, predictable, within boundaries, sterile.  

But this is a pathetic illusion.  Without constant intervention, Nature has her way, Nature is 'What Life on Earth Is."   Although territory is in dispute, control is not.  Climate Change will weigh in pretty heavily one day soon. But even on a smaller scale, Nature still--always--Shows Up. 

One terra-example of Nature takeover is ruins of ancient civilizations, absorbed into the physical strata.  A fine example in this century is the city of Detroit, where abandoned inner-city sites are everywhere.  These sites are becoming grown-over (check this out: http://dornob.com/houses-gone-wild-haunting-photos-of-abandoned-homes/).  But you don't have to be a devastated civilization to have a view of what we're dealing with in Nature.  A smaller example of Nature Showing Up is in my tiny suburban yard, where "in control" is not practiced, and Nature stuff happens.

In addition to the visiting ground cherries, I was surprised to find a couple of milkweed last year.  Another gift from the birds, or the wind, or who-knows.  Last year I found two milkweed plants;  this year, over a dozen and still counting. They must like it here! They seem to spread by root, and are growing under a domestic blackberry bush. In fact, that bush was a start given to me by Dad from his Southern Illinois farm;  it may well have brought the milkweed with it.  If so, it's been dormant for years. I will take a year to observe and accurately identify and learn about this little prize, but in the meantime, it's great news for neighborhood pollinators. It's also good  news for my growing abundance of edible wild plants: http://foragersharvest.com/milkweed-a-truly-remarkable-wild-vegetable/

So, its hard to see Nature take the big hits: sprouting subdivisions; water orgies in desert lands that were never designed for water orgies; decimation of small animal populations that are displaced by human activity; melting ice caps.  But it is comforting to see small things that persist in Nature, despite human insult to the planet.  Nature is way older than humans, and has long-established methods. Many small things, someone said, make a difference.  Life goes on, stuff happens.
 

Scrappy little milkweeds that came from who-knows-where,
and have made themselves at home in the garden. I'm easily excited about
visiting plants, but these will be great for pollinators and,
when I have it figured out, for food. 


(1) Ground cherries:  edible members of the nightshade family (which includes tomatoes!)
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=ground%20cherries&qs=n&form=QBIR&pq=ground%20cherries&sc=8-15&sp=-1&sk=

(2) Deadly nightshade pictures:  (DONT eat these) http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=deadly+nightshade+picture&qpvt=deadly+nightshade+picture&qpvt=deadly+nightshade+picture&FORM=IGRE













Monday, April 20, 2015

"Son Mat" Says It All. Or Quite a Lot.

Son mat  projects in progress:  sauerkraut, mead.

I get crazy about food preparation. "Healing-and-spiritual nutrition" takes over my brain. My kids joke about the overkill of food when they visit.  This form of maternal/paternal food-crazy is widespread, through families and cultures. Food is maybe its own religion. Food is Love, especially when prepared by the hands of those who love us.  Hence the title of this post:

Son mat:  the taste of hands. 

Son mat is a Korean phrase I borrowed from an article about kimchi (1).   My paraphrased definition, from the excerpt below, is: the physical touching and preparation of food imparts a change in that food, and to our bodies and  minds. Like anything in Nature, this change occurs over time.

My family raised, foraged, preserved, cooked food on a 75-acre farm. We were surrounded by food in its native state: cows, pigs, chickens, truck garden, wild berries--a typical rural connection. Typical urban food connection, though, is the most common food experience in the U.S. today: processed, fast-food, ready-made.  Most people eat out frequently; and as my friend the Detroit food inspector assures me, restaurants are dirty places.  Food preparation, at home, from ground-up is time-consuming, and dirty.  When it comes to growing, harvesting, and killing food, most people prefer to sanitize the connection: "if I don't see it, it doesn't happen."  So, folks in the U.S. today don't toss food scraps to the pig whose bacon they eat in restaurants.  Most don't weed, or water, or oversee the life-and-death of lettuce from the store.  Our urban food supply is not grown hands-on, nor by people we know. Sometimes not by people, at all. Does a physical connection make a difference in the healthful-ness of our food? 

Many in the U.S. are thinking, or remembering, "yes."  Many other cultures have never left that connection.  (In defense of the U.S., we are a very young culture, and going through adolescence is not easy. If we don't kill ourselves and the rest of the planet, we'll do great things.)

As a result, many people are practicing a revival of hands-on food.  A generation of baby-boomers "left the farm," and the next generation is looking to recover that connection. New words are surfacing to describe this revival, a sure-fire sign of cultural change.  They reference the old American habit of going off West to start a new life: urban homesteading, survival homesteading, off-the-grid.  The shared consciousness of Internet fires the food Can-Do and DIY spirit.  So does growing recognition of our eco-system's fragility.  This revival includes personalizing food.  Urbanites are growing their own, eating local and in-season, preserving food.  Borrowing a term from Buddhism:  mindfulness.  Be aware of what goes in our body. Screw fast-food thinking.

 I'm taking the fermented route to food-as-religion, and resurrecting Mom's 10-gallon sauerkraut crock.  The plan is to fill it with pickles from the garden, and watch them ferment throughout the winter months.  That's the plan.  I shared the plan with my backyard neighbor, suggesting that if she were up for it, we could share our common chain-link fence to great advantage by planting pickles on either side of it.  By uniting resources, I explained, we'd be in better shape for the Apocalypse.  She looked up at the sky and casually asked,"When is this Apocalypse?"  I answered that it would be when the Zombies come.  Of course.

I'm also harnessing wild yeast for sourdough starter, none of that sissy store-bought stuff for this survivalist homesteader. ( I read in  my new bible, "The Art of Fermenting" by Sandoor Katz, that shared sourdough starter takes on the name of whoever shares it. I thereby name mine:  Patsy Cline.)  And I'm working on  mead, because  the world needs hands-on alcoholic beverages. I love my food from the moment of it's birth.  And now my obsession has a great personal motto: son mat.  (I will (hand) make a T-shirt with my motto.)

Here is an excerpt from the kimchi article mentioned above:

" But Korean's affinity for kimchi goes deeper than just a tasty pile of cabbage.  Kimchi-making is traditionally a woman's job in Korea, where recipes are passed down from generations.  Most people have fierce pride in their mother's kimchi; it is intimately connected to the maker as she handcrafts batches, and it is thought that her hands help impart that perfect taste.  In describing flavors of kimchi, many talk about son mat, literally translated as "the taste of hands."  I vividly remember my mother soaking her hands --flushed and swollen from touching the salt and chilies--in a milk bath after spending an entire day making kimchi. . . . I came to believe that a combination of the cold weather, my grandmother's chilly kitchen, the heat of the chili, the stink of the garlic, and the brininess of the salt penetrated my mother's hands and released her son mat into the kimchi."  (1)

If God is in the details, as they say, surely hands-on food is as good a place as any to find Her. Who doesn't want to leave a little of themselves in those we love?  Passing on the taste of our body, feeding yeast and bacteria to live on in our descendants. The definition of "re-incarnation " keeps broadening (2).


1.  Kim, Chi-Hoon.  "From Kim-chi to Infinity."  Hyphen;  www.hyphenmagazine.com
     PBS site re-posted by Sandoor Katz on Facebook, 4/11/15.
2. This blog post is on the verge of proclaiming bacteria my take on re-incarnation.  For my take       on  DNA as re-incarnation, check out my blog post 10/14/14:  "Conversation on the Afterlife, Part 1:



 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Great Balls of Joy?

I rolled out of bed this morning at the behest of two cats, performed feeding acts and minimal ablutions, and transported oats and tea and notebook up to the writing nook.   The writing nook is a ritual, which gives me a nice, warm, flicker of joy around the edges.  Yay, Joy!  Happy to see you there, buddy.

Being a professional worrier, though, I worry that "joy" could become a victim of my personal ageing process.  Losing vision, loved ones, youthful vigor and strength, and things yet un-lost is a sure-fire Joy douser, but I keep stoking that fire.  Ageing is loss, joy is survival. 

I recently quit a full-time job, and I need to shift gears into other fulfilling work.  I need to justify, to myself, the validity of those alternate pursuits.  Sometimes I feel guilty about being an introverted researcher of mundane proportions by day, instead of building a paycheck and being respectably middle-class.  But I'm giving it over.  Living joyfully is an art.  It requires fuel to feed the fire.  I collect, by bits, fuel for the pursuit and maintenance of joy.

In front of me,Howard Thurman advises: "Don't ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you
come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."  Howard, I'm lookin' at you, right here in front of my word-joy maker.

In my head, Kathy Mattea tells the story of a retired trucker and his philosophy:"With pieces of the old dream/ they're gonna light a new flame,/  doing what they please, leaving every other reason behind."  (2)  Kathy, I'm singing your song, and doing what I please.

My Tiny Garden fires me up .  Everybody I know is forced to view baby pictures of Kentucky Wonder pole beans, artisan gourds, and mygodyes! the grape vines that inspire pest research, home canning, pruning methods,and,especially, contemplative reclining-under.  Kitchen Garden fuels preventative medicine research. Research fuels me.

Visiting my son recently, I woke up to a softly turning doorknob and a smiling 4-year-old in my face.  She whispered, "Damma, get up. You have to look out the window. The sun is awake." Then she asked to listen to my heart.  Then I listened to hers.  Her Dad recently explained hearts send food all over our body. She will listen to anybody's heart at the drop of a hat.  Hearts pump joy, too, I will tell her.

With encouragement, cat or kid, I check the sun every morning.  I gather fuel and light the fires.  "Go joyful into that good night," eh Dylan Thomas.




1. Yep, I'm a licensed Linguist and writing teacher and I spell "grandaughter" with one "d" because I wage personal battle against all kinds of stuff including redundant and non-represational spelling and grammar.  Don't think that Spell-Check encourages that sort of thing, either, I have to fight back against it.  I also take license with prescribed research writing reference protocol, because I forget what element comes when, despite having taught it for years.  As I tell English Second Language students:  first, just be understood.  My passionate observations of Grammar--including the joy/job of visually landscaping writing--require a future post. 

2. Mattea, Kathy.  "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses.
"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ElCpHuiWkA
 

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Conundrum of Cats; Part One

(Due to downing a few cups of real coffee in the last 2 hours, and in keeping with the nature of the topic, this post will not hold to any point, but be stuffed with adjectives, side trips and hyper phrases.  Maybe Mystery.)

This past summer, my new neighbors 2 doors north of me moved in to their new and small abode.  I said hello in passing, and in that and every following brief encounter She has somehow managed to squeeze in the sentence "It's small, but we really loved the backyard!" (referring to their new house).  This suggests to me, as a repeated anomaly in the landscape of Her conversation, that she suffers from Buyers Remorse and wishes that They hadn't purchased such a small house. 

Since They did buy such a small house, however, Chaos took over and things happen relatively.  They got rid of possessions, for one thing.  One day as my new front porch was being created, I looked north up my street, and observed Him carrying out some quite nice looking furniture to sit at the curb.  I'm used to seeing things set out at the curb, but not usually of the caliber this looked to be from a distance of two houses.  So I walked not ran over to the nice young newlywed, and asked, "Are you getting rid of this?"  This being two nice contemporary like-new armchairs with matching ottoman.  Just what I was looking for, if the price was right.

But first I did re-introduce myself, ask how things were going.  THEN I asked if They were getting rid of the chairs.  He said, "Yes, we don't have room."  So I cautiously said Oh if you're getting rid of them, I might take them.  And he said with enthusiasm Oh sure!  That's fine!  Then we both walked off, he to get rid of more things and me to ponder if this was for real.  I didn't think about it too long, though, because there was a good chance that the alluring trio at the curb would attract the attention of others at any moment. 

In my house--attendant on: school being out for the summer, on being stuck with his dad who was among those working on my porch, and also on his unexpected skill and interest in calming and entertaining my 9 month old grandson--was  Eddie.  Eddie is larger than the average teenaged male, and capable of carrying large furniture.  So Eddie and I did a quick turnaround after the situation was explained and he said  Sure.  We trooped down to the new neighbors, trying not to attract attention, and divvied up the burdens.  Within a few minutes I had a lovely new living room re-d├ęcor for FREE.

I thought Wow, karma and the universe and good luck, bite me!  And things went on in the way of things. 

A few  days later, the new neighbors were putting out a LOT of things on their driveway.  Since I felt like family, having inherited some furniture from them, I strolled down to check out the new development.  A sense of unease grew as I saw prices stuck to the possessions.  My synapses were connecting "getting rid of things" + "garage sale"+ "curious disposal of high quality furniture for free by clueless husband" + "young wife's mom now involved."  Since I have a Masters in Linguistics, I added all those up very quickly in my short journey.

Although I add quickly, I stumble with feeling entitled.  So instead of playing the dumb card, I said Hi, I'm your neighbor down the street right there with the new porch.  I took the chairs your husband set out the other day.

Mom lit up (too brightly, I later thought) and said to her daughter the New Neighbor, Oh!  This is your neighbor who took the chairs!  How Nice!  And the feeling grew within me that Mom would have sliced off the New Neighbor's Husbands head if the past could have been rehashed before he gave away some very nice brand name furniture prior to a fund-raising garage sale.  But I smiled and nodded.  The New Neighbor wasn't very good at picking up quickly and without rancor, so she looked off into the middle of the street and said Oh, right!  then after a moment of silence, "and here's the custom-made slipcovers, in this box!  They're in the yard sale!"  So Mom and NN look happily at the box full of beige-y cloth with ties and elastic.  I put on a look of great excitement and discovery and say Wow!  how much are you asking?  And NN says, now gazing at the box, ")h, $10.  Each."  and they both smiled and looked pleased.  So they weren't all that fast on their feet, either, or else they counted on guilt to make itself manifest to me.

Guilt did.  I said "Oh I'll just run to the bank and get some cash and be right back!" because I hardly ever carry cash, lest I get suckered into garage sale materialism when I'm wandering around in the summer.  They nodded and smiled brightly and I ran to get my car keys and go to the bank, where I withdrew $60.  I went immediately back to the New Neighbors and made happy with the custom made slipcovers, and said So $20 each, that's $60?  And NN smiled and nodded, still not meeting my eyes or acknowledging my slipped-in price-increase to compensate for my getting something free that maybe she hadn't wanted to be quite so free.  So the transaction was made and we parted to meet some other day, I carrying a mound of beige cloth, she tucking some absolution for her very cute but blonde husbands mis-cue into the garage sale money box.

After several tutorial-practices, over a period of weeks, I was able to get the pricey slipcovers on all the nice free furniture in a pretty presentable fashion.  Slipcovers are not easy.  The chairs and slipcovers have been comfortable and praised into the middle of winter, now.  Friends sit in them, they look well with Dad's old magazine table, the Ikea contemporary-print fabric worked up swimmingly into drapes next to them, and the tiny-house living room looks positively upgraded because of them.  Ricky and Kiki the cats love their plush back-cushions to drowse on.  Ricky likes to sneak up under the slipcovers behind, and sharpen his claws.  He has been discouraged from doing that, but Ricky is only loveable and not very attentive to instructions.  Kiki likes to stay away from Ricky when possible.

The slipcovers of course come off for holidays, and for company except grandchildren.  Over Christmas and New Years, in fact, they were left off for a couple weeks.  I was working up to putting the slipcovers on, just yesterday in fact putting the basket full of beige and formed cloth on the ottoman, to wrestle onto the chairs bright and early this morning.  And as this morning broke cold and clear, after tenderly feeding Ricky and Kiki their alternative-breakfast treat, I went to open THEIR living room windows to facilitate their observation of the bird feeder and birds on the new front porch.

My psychic Master's Degree synapses popped a little when I saw a large dark spot in the middle of one of the chairs, as I crossed the darkened room to open up the blinds.  Since my cataract surgery, I don't distinguish light/dark too well, so I had to look closely to confirm that a cat had definitely deposited something on the nice and un-slipclothed chair nearest the window.  Smack in the middle of the seat.  It was not the usual occasional barf deposit, either, to my surprise, but a still-warm poo. 

I cleaned up the crap, muttering under my breath but quietly so as not to alert the culprit, whichever one it was.  I calmly picked up Kiki and put her on the cleaned spot, to watch her reaction.  She growled, which is usual, and after a quick glance in the general direction of The Spot, jumped down and ran out of the room.  Aha, I thought, Guilty.  But to be fair I picked up Ricky and placed him by the spot.  He looked interested and took a few deep sniffs, and eventually had to be forcibly removed because he was too interested and it was still damp from cleaning.

Did Kiki take off because of guilt or because of disgust for Ricky's poo?  Was Ricky interested because it was Kiki's poo or because he's not attentive and forgot it was his own?  Occam's razor?  Damocles' sword?  Who givesashit?

So I am stuck with the perennial problem of those who live with cats:  how to figure them.  Despite books which probably exist and explain how to figure cats out....is that like work?.  I prefer them
enigmatic and unfathomable.  Which leaves unanswered the question "Who pooed on the nice free armchair without the slipcover on?"  And leads to the thought that some things in life need to have mystery.  Mystery is as good as a euphemism as any for a great many unexplained things that just wear you out tracking them down, anyway.  I'm betting the New Neighbors chalked up their old/my new living room set to Mystery.  I hope so.