Monday, October 29, 2012


Brozhy turns one year old sometime around now.  Heck, he might've turned one a while ago.  Oh well. I thought I'd simultaneously poke a little fun at people that do baby-update posts (even though when I have a kid you'd better bet I'll be updating you ALL the time, probably annoyingly so, just to bug you) and sort of reassure people slash repair whatever damage I did in your opinion of Brozhy when I wrote the last post about him.  Before we begin, random fun fact: Brozhy's name when we adopted him was Teddy.  Like a bear?  No se.

First of all, I love what he's done for Sam.  Sam was a total anti-cat person before, but for no particular reason.  He thought they were stupid and boring and ugly and evil.  Or something.  But now it's the opposite.  Sometimes I have to remind Sam to get back to whatever he was on his way to do because he got distracted by playing with the cat.  Most of the time if we pass near the pet aisle in a store, Sam will be like "Wait, I want to look at cat toys!" and then we will spend the next five minutes looking at them while Sam tries to convince me we should buy X or Y because "Brozhy would love this," or "He would go crazy over that!" or whatever.  Anyway, I just love that while Sam originally got the cat mostly for me, it turns out he loves Brozhy just as much or more.  Bonus: sometimes I'll be in the other room and Sam will be somewhere with Brozhy and I'll hear, in varying creepy voices, that nursery rhyme "Kitty cat kitty cat where have you been?"  It never fails to crack me up.
Not sure how I feel about this...
Brozhy has finally reached full size, and he is quite the handsome cat.  I love looking through his thick fur while I pet him.  He's also a great jumper and climber (sometimes this gets him into trouble...that TV is precarious enough without him sleeping on top of it).  His personality (felinality?) is also really starting to show.  After we got over the fact that he sometimes gets in terrible moods, he has become quite the pleasant cat.  If you're wondering how we solved that, we didn't really.  We've just all learned to better deal with it.  We actually had to ease up on punishment because it was too harsh and he didn't understand why and it was making him meaner.  I realized that most of the time he just wanted to play, but I'd freak out and yell or whatever and he'd think I was going to attack him, so he went to town on my legs.  If he's in a stalky-hunty mood and he's coming after me with more than a little nip, I'll distract him with a string or whatever toy is handy.  It nearly always works.  As for the biting when we pet him, we learned that usually it begins as a nip, which is how some cats show affection when they're purring.  I knew that.  It's just that sometimes he goes a little crazy, and again, if we overreacted, it would make it worse.  I know when I'm petting his stomach (which he only likes in very small doses) and he nips non-affectionately, it's time to stop.  If he keeps biting, he gets to cool off.  He knows the command for that.  If he's too riled up, he gets pushed off the bed or kicked out of the room or whatever.  Usually now he's a very sweet and cuddly and curious cat, and I make sure I treat him that way instead of as a vicious animal like I was before.
Give it here Malfoy!
He knows commands!  He always comes a-running and a-chirping when I call his name (unless he's accidentally trapped himself in a closet somewhere).  He also knows "dance" which is that he must stand with his paws on the wall or on his hind legs before he can get his breakfast in the morning.  He also will go to bed on command, sometimes with a little nudge at first.  His bed is an old towel behind the toilet and he goes right to it every time.  He gets a treat for this.  I'm always impressed.  He also knows "go on!" which is used pretty much for everything-- "get out of the closet," "get off of there," "go cool off," or whatever.
It is Tocktober, after all...
He is super affectionate.  He follows me everywhere I go.  Actually, I'm surprised he's not in the room with me right now.  He probably went to London to visit the Queen.  Whenever we come home he's waiting for us at the door, purring and meowing.  When I lie down or sit down, he comes and lies beside me.  He enjoys purring and kneading my hair, neck (ouch!), clothes, pillows, any jackets or blankets or anything left on the bed, everything really.  He likes to watch me in the kitchen, so sometimes I'll move his scratch tower in there so he can sit on it and watch.  Often he will forfeit being right next to me to lie belly-up in a patch of sunshine, so long as I am within view.
He is incredibly talkative, from morning til he goes to bed.  As soon as he hears us stirring in the morning (through two doors no less), he starts meowing at the bathroom door to get let out and be fed.    If we're somewhere (like eating dinner in the kitchen) and he wanders away, he will meow like he's lost until we call him back.  He chats at me while I'm doing whatever, especially when I stare at him or meow back.  I can literally carry on a conversation with this cat (though I don't know what I'm saying).  When I talk to him in English, he usually gets called "Beebs," "Boo," "Toes," "Stripes," or "Ocelittle" (like an ocelot, but not as much-- Sam wants me to point out this was his invention).
All in all, I'm very glad we've decided to keep him, and that we realized that it was just us that needed to adjust to his personality/felinality (seriously, is this a word?).  I realize that he's still really playful (and often uses his teeth) and for anyone who can't defer, deflect, or defend themselves, this may be a problem.  I know this might still cause problems when children roll around (ha! what an image!), but for now, everything's Jake.
Party hat!
Happy birth...time Brozhy!
Also he puts up with my shenanigans.  Thanks Brozh.

Oh!  Here's a song for your day.  I think I posted it before, but man, this video is an awesome match to the song.  It's quite mesmerizing.  Have a listen, folks!

Monday, October 22, 2012

In Which I Probably Reveal Too Much

Hidey ho neighbors!  So I've been nominated by my dear SIL Caity for a silly little blog thingy award (silly only because nobody is giving me a prize NO FAIR).  It is called the "Liebster Award" (no, not lobster award, geez). Maybe I should've won a lobster.
Anyway, so here are the rules for this major award:

1. Each person awarded must post 11 facts about themselves.
2. Answer the 11 questions the nominator has set for them.
3. Choose five bloggers to nominate.
4. Create 11 more questions for the bloggers they will nominate.
5. Let the lucky bloggers know.

Hokay.  We begin.  Eleven facts aboot moi:

1. Until I was...some age...I believed that I had a twin that died at birth.  My sister Megan told me she saw her ghost sitting on the stairs at our house wearing one of my dresses.  Then I saw her too because Megan had me so convinced.  This is not creepy, I promise you, it's funny.

2. I have a scar on my scalp from when a cat jumped on my head.  There was another time when a squirrel jumped on my head.  Also a lot of basketballs and volleyballs have hit my head.  My head is attractive.

3. Sam has seen me injured, broken, bleeding, sick, hospitalized, on drugs, you name it.  The worst I've seen him through is like a bad cold.  I kind of hope it stays that way.

4. I have a very specific dream for a lot of things.  Like the number of sheep I want or the names of future dogs.  Ever wonder why Brozhy is named Brozhy?  Because it's a random name I heard in school during a documentary on WWI many years ago.  And somehow it turned into a fantastic name for a cat.

5. There is a 3D, real-time calendar in my mind.  It's been running for as long as I can remember.  It's really hard to describe.  The weekends are fat and angular.  2010 is in the color black.  2007 is blue.  1998 is green.  Weekdays are a gradient gray.  This calendar can spin and go fast forward and reverse.  It is so real it's almost palpable.  It is COOL.

6. If I could have any two powers they would be 1) To be an Animorph.  Like be able to turn into any animal I "acquire," only with no time restrictions.  2) Be able to time travel, mostly to observe with minimal interaction so you don't mess up the space-time continuum.  You know, like when you come across a 100-foot deep pit in the middle of nowhere in you're like "What in tarnation..." You can just go back in time and see what it was used for!

7. I'm thinking that my dream career is to write, and be a photographer, and travel.  So...write about travel while I'm travelling to take peoples pictures?  Notice how this is all lazy freelance work...

8. Sam and I have almost completely different political views.  He's up there somewhere on the right.  And apparently I'm more Ghandi than Ghandi.

9. I did not understand the term "Fall" until maybe three years ago.  Prior to that, it meant hotter than Hades and burning death throughout the land, along with the subsequent choking smoke.  And then Halloween.  I like this quaint and pretty version much better.

10. Maybe I'll now tell you all the career paths I seriously pursued for any length of time: veterinarian, marine biologist, cinematographer, pastry chef, archaeologist, and now...whatever.  See #7.  I'm working on it.  Anyone want to buy me a DSLR, please?

11. I am unbelievably awkward and klutzy.  And I think everything is funny.  This makes me appear as a bumbling goofball.  That's why I primarily try to keep quiet and/or subdued around people until I know they aren't going to lynch me or be offended by my stupid jokes.  If I act that way around you, FEEL PRIVILEGED.

AND NOW, for my next trick!  I answer eleven questions posed by Caity:

1. Who is the one celebrity, where if your significant other confessed their undying love for her (or him?), you'd be like "....oh yeah I totally get that."?
Meryl Streep.  Because of this.  And because of everything.

2. Three words to describe your High School self:
Disconnected.  Smart.  Stupid.

3. Three words to describe yourself now:
Lazy.  Brave.  Stupid.

4. If you could eat any ONE thing (no genres, it has to be a single dish) for the rest of your life, nutrition/weight gain aside, what would it be?
Spaghetti.  With Kimberly Sauce.  Or maybe just Kimberly Sauce...

5. What's your favorite thing about yourself?
I really like how fast I can type.  Like for real.  I can type around 80 wpm.  I know that's not like LIGHTNING SPEED but I'm really quite proud of myself.

6. If you could have any super-talent (not super-power, just like, a super crazy talent that makes you better at that one thing than anyone else), what would it be?
I think glass blowing.  Because I could make my own dishes.  And if I was better than everyone else at a more common thing (like any of my hobbies...writing/painting/photography) I'd just feel bad all the time.

7. Do you color your hair?
Nay, Madam!  I don't.  I have been asked many many times if I do, or people have just assumed that I do.  But I don't.  On the rare occasion that I stop being lazy enough to get my hair cut at an actual salon, the hairdresser inevitably comments on my color and how difficult it would be to attain with dye.  Actually, when I was 19 and feeling a bit rebellious, I bought temporary red dye and dyed my hair dark red.  I looked like a cartoon character.  It was gone the next day.

8. If you could be a contestant on any reality-show, which would it be?
Ooooh that one where you go fill up a cart with a bunch of stuff in a certain amount of time and then at the end you get to keep it.  Is that a show?  It should be.  Then I wouldn't have to buy groceries for a while.

9. What's the last song you listened to?
It's hard to tell because my iPod is in the car, so I'm just going to say it was "Long, Cool Woman in a Black Dress" by the Hollies, because I looked it up on YouTube to post it in my other post.

10. What did you study in college/post-high school education?
Archaeology.  I went through a few other majors to get there, but that's not important right now.  I took more Anthropology and Archaeology classes than anything else, so there you go.

11. Who's your favorite Muppet?
Ummm.....Yoda?  I never watched the muppets.  Except for the Christmas one.

Drum roll please!  The nominations go to...
1. Megan !
2. Adrien !!
3. Kimmy !!!
4. "L" !!!!
5. Steph !!!!!

And finally, the NEW eleven questions!

1. How do you wake up in the morning?  ie what wakes you up?

2. If you could drive any car without worrying about gas or street regulations or maintenance, what would it be?

3. If you had to pick one feature on your face to be completely hideous, which would it be? (I'm thinking snaggle teeth and warty noses, don't disappoint me, guys)

4. Assuming you rule the universe, what would be the first thing you would tell people to stop doing?

5.  What is one inside joke you have with a sibling and how did it happen?

6.  Tell me a story about a time you ended up in the ER.  Please.

7.  What are your two guilty pleasures?  Anything.

8.  Why did you choose the post-high school career/education/family/whatever path that you did?

9.  What is the most adventurous thing you've ever done?

10.  What is one thing about yourself or your accomplishments that you are very proud of?

11.  What is your favorite children's book?

Ok, so if I've nominated you, don't despair.  This kind of takes a while, but it's fun, I prommy.  If I didn't nominate you, TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BLOG.  Or just do it anyway and pretend like I actually nominated you.  If you don't have a blog, GET A BLOG THEY ARE FUN.

Anyhoo.  Happy day to all!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Conversation on Mandolins at Sunrise in the Desert

If you were wondering why I recently dropped off the face of the social networking planet, it's because until a couple days ago I was busily employed for a short stint as a contract archaeologist for a company based out of Salt Lake.  It was a very interesting experience.  Would I do it again?  Probably not.  Mostly because I prefer job security.  But though it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, I'm glad I did it.  And I guess you could say I learned a lesson.  Or six.

Lesson Number One:  Besides the fact that I've spent 20+ years of my life outside of Happy Valley, after only a couple of years there you start to expect people to fit a certain mold.  And holy crap is there a Happy Valley mold.  In fact, so many people realize that there's a mold that they try to break out of it, not realizing that by doing so they actually re-mold themselves.  I think that's why there're so many hipsters here.  Hm.  Anyway, getting out and up and meeting people that really didn't fit the mold at all was at first a little bizarre but then incredibly refreshing.  Get ready for a sidetrack.

Portrait of a Contract Archaeologist: (Maybe one of these days I will draw an actual portrait) They are primarily nomadic.  You kind of have to be in order to follow the uncertain and non-concrete work opportunities.  The more you travel, the more you work, the more connections you make (this is nation-wide mind you), the more you work!  They all have crazy stories to tell.  Like the guy who had a conch shell mask that he excavated tattooed on his forearm-- a tattoo he got in honor of the professor who led the dig who later was murdered in the Amazon HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE.  Some of them are hippies, some are video game nerds, some are men who knit, some are old salts (I really want a dog named Indiana too...), and they come from all over the country (there was even a guy who grew up as a Quaker--how awesome is that).  The one thing they seem to have in common though is an affinity for NPR, Americana/bluegrass, and music in general.  And archaeology.  I heard more excavation and survey story swaps then anywhere else.  And more bluegrass.  Why bluegrass?

Back to business.  Lesson Number Two:  I'm not as physically capable as I think I am.  I normally walk or run a few miles a week.  Go immediately from that to 6-10 miles a day and you will rethink your whole will to live.  Tylenol and Tiger Balm will become your new best friends.  Oh, not to mention your "social life" outside of work will cease to exist.

Lesson Number Three: Cold food can actually provide sustenance.  Breakfast at 6am in the dark in your car as you battle traffic at 60mph is hard.  I ate nothing but cold muffins and a little carefully-timed drink of orange juice from a bottle every morning.  Delish.  And for lunch it was cold pizza, cold spaghetti, cold beans and rice (never again, I swear), cold chicken-flavored pasta (surprisingly not bad), etc.  Thank goodness for honeydew melon, it makes anything bearable.

Lesson Number Four: SLEEP WHEN YOU CAN.  I think that's pretty self-explanatory.  Naps in the car once you get out of the field, and go to bed at 8:30.  Yep.

Lesson Number Five: There's always more to learn.  I learned how to navigate a Trimble GPS.  I learned how to gauge distance by how thirsty you are.  I learned better about how to tell the relative time by the position of the sun.  And I learned the term "baja" first hand.  Sidetrack again.

Baja [bah-hah] verb Driving in a truck (or jeep, or whatever can take it) across bumpy, holey, bushy, or otherwise crazy land that has no road with everybody hanging on for dear life and resisting the urge to laugh maniacally.  The baja-ing experience can be greatly improved by the appropriate song.  My personal choice is this lovely tune.

Lesson Number Six: I do love archaeology.  It's sometimes disproportionately all hard labor, and then you get to record sites and you use all your sciencey knowledge and you find crazy artifacts or you see a brilliant sunrise on your way to site, or you stand on a knoll next to a lone obsidian biface and look out over the cloudy afternoon valley with a breeze at your back and you remember why you want to be an archaeologist.  And that, my friends, is a great feeling.

(Heretoforth, some pictures, for those who don't follow me on Instagram)
Skull Valley: home of the 5,000 acre worksite
View from the previously mentioned knoll

Sunrise on the road

Historic cocoa tin
Mattress spring covering a (mine?) shaft at least 100ft deep

Cute little Log Cabin syrup tin :D

Monday, October 1, 2012

He's All...Higgeldy Piggeldy

I'm supposed to be writing our Italy plans down right now.  You know, like the contact info of our landlords while we're there, and how much cash in Euros we're going to need on hand, that sort of thing.  Important stuffs.  And brain is in full-blown Procrastinayshe Mode (yes, that's a thing, don't question my spelling).  Brozhy is waffling between grump and crazybones today (I have the scratches to prove it) so it's not like I can concentrate with the clicky-clack of his tiny claws on the wood floor as he runs from room to room, or the dragging of the feather wand (sans feathers a long time ago because he ate them) as he proudly takes his prey to his lair (or to me, if he's feeling generous).  In any case, concentration is not happening, and the Italy plans will have to wait a bit longer.

I know a lot of people who are pregnant right now or who recently had babies-- my sister-in-law and my half-sister for one (two?).  So naturally my brain constantly leaps to babies and the conglomerate features they derived from their parents.  Naturally.  And then I start pitying my unborn progeny.

A Wonderful List of Things My/Our Kids Have to Look Forward to:

1. They will never drink cows milk.  I'm lactose intolerant.  Sam is allergic to the horomones/antibodies/who-knows-what in milk not certified organic.  Or maybe he's just high maintenance.  But that random glass of chocolate milk at a friend's house or ice cream at a festival...probably never happening.

2. All they will ever be able to eat anyway is bread and water.  Combined, Sam and I make one big picky eater.  I can't eat foods high in fat or sugar-- or lots of peanut butter...or malt flavoring-- because I lost my gallbladder in 'Nam all those many years ago.  Sam is randomly allergic to fun foods like mint, apples (raw), and certain kinds of oil (uncooked).  At least I can eat all the carbs I can handle!  And Sam has pears.  He loves pears.

3. They will have teeth worse than a Liverpool sailor.  Sam had bad teeth as a kid.  He did the braces thing and only recently started wearing his retainers again.  I had terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad teeth.  I got braces at the beginning of 4th grade.  They were pink and purple.  Yep.  I had teeth coming in at weird angles and no where near where they were supposed to be.  I blame it on a lot of wonky-mouthed English ancestors.
Bad-teeth Shannon, age 6.  Fun Fact: This is the last time I showed my
teeth in a school picture until 8th grade. You now know why.
I still wear the same retainers I got a million years ago when I finally got my braces off just before High School.  At night, when the retainers have been popped into place, Sam and I have some pretty interesting conversations:

"Did gyoo know Frontier airlinthe ith shtopping their fligthsh out of Profo?"

"That ith shtoopid, they jusht shtarted!"

"Yeah, and I heard mosht of their flightsh are alwaysh full."

"Don't they only ko to lichhe Billingsh, Montana?"

And so forth.

4. They will sport a very bizarre and perhaps at times creepy sense of humor.  That will come primarily from me, but Sam's oddities are far from infrequent...why do you think I married him?

Exhibit A: "Dying Man" My siblings' and my darkish twist on Hangman.  Complete with nonsensical words that probably wouldn't make sense to many other people.
Hurt me!
Don't ask me, I have no explanation.
5. They'll have delightfully huge noses, skin issues, eye problems, the fat gene, psychological issues (they will never sit still...they will never concentrate...they will never be grounded in reality...yay!) BUT WAIT, if you call within the next seven minutes!

At the very least, they are going to have pretty hair (hopefully), and pretty eyes.  Yikes, I hope so, otherwise we will have to hide them in cages and pass their bread and water through the bars.