Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hello Hellcat

Rajah, aka Hellcat
I sometimes wonder if I have the word “Sucker” written in indelible ink, across my forehead. I wonder that because I am an easy sell when the merchandise is cute, and helpless. It’s a sure bet when it involves my children and cats.

I mentioned a couple of months ago that my daughter Ashley had been talked into adopting two kittens. She really had only wanted one, but was given two anyway. They were a pair of little gray tabbies, one boy one girl, who promptly were named by my granddaughter Helene. Rajah, the boy kitten, and Miko, the girl were terrified of us, and hid behind the water heater when ever one of us approached. I managed to catch Rajah once, needing a band-aid promptly after-wards. It is amazing what a combination of claws and tiny pissed off kitten can wreak when your hand is involved.

After a couple of weeks they calmed down, got used to the place and the humans in residence. They then proceeded to take over control of Ashley’s house. Before long things went missing, mostly socks, as well as Helene’s hairbows, and magnets, which kept disappearing from the fridge. Evidence of late night snack forays were also becoming apparent, Apparently that was training for the “big score”. The big score was a $50 cellular shade that Ashley had installed just two weeks prior. She suspect the main culprit as Rajah, the initially more shy of the two, but there was no actual proof as to the actual culprit, just a sad broken shade. She was at her wits end. Considering she has two very small children, two highly active kittens and a husband who is deployed, her patience was not geared to kittens who liked to destroy things.

Feeling bad for Ashley, I immediately caved and said, I’d take one, it didn’t matter which. I sorta missed having a cute cuddly kitten around. Within the hour, Rajah was delivered. The word “sucker” must have been extra prominent that day.

Normally, when a cat enters a new domain, they react by hiding under the nearest bed for a good 24 hours. They tend to be a bit skittish about new surroundings and and only venture out for food and bathroom breaks. If there is another cat in residence, there will be a lot of posturing and hissing, and retreating to neutral corners, until the chain of dominance is established, then everything calms down. That is under normal circumstances. Apparently I always get the abnormal cats.

Rajah was skittish about the new house for…well not at all. He walked in like he owned the place, quickly discovered where the food was, had the kitty toilet pointed out to him, before he decided to check out the joint. You could almost see the “Oh shit! Who is THAT??” looks on Luna-tic’s and Chernobyll’s faces when they saw Rajah.
Rajah’s response was “COOL! PLAYMATES! LET’S PLAY TAG ! YOU’RE IT!” Luna made a beeline for the backdoor so she could go outside to escape. Nobyll who stays indoors hissed, looked at me with like I had betrayed her and promptly hid. And yes, Rajah is that enthusiastic about everything.

In the couple weeks that he’s lived with me,Rajah has earned the nickname Hellcat. He has knocked most of the contents off my several surfaces, spilled my milk, reconstituted breakfast while standing on my desk, missing my keyboard by millimeters. He’s shredded innumerable amounts of paper that he has pulled out of my trashcan, been scolded for being on the kitchen counter at least five times a day. To keep in the mode of, “I am a hellcat, hear me meow”, Rajah has decided to display some odd little quirks. He takes items that he carries around, like his toy balls, or a refrigerator magnet, and throws them in the toilet. Why does he throw them in the toilet? Because he can.

We have to check now before using our toilets to make sure nothing has to be fished out first. For a cat that was so extremely anti-social at first, he is constantly underfoot. Megan and I have to close the bathroom door when we shower, or else we will have an audience. I have photo evidence of him peeking at me when I was taking a bath. The photo is of Rajah, not me!

He still chases the other two, and they still are not at all happy about how easily he established his own version of the pecking order, but they are starting to wear down a bit. Chernobyll is having the hardest time, as she doesn’t adapt to changes like that very well, however she’ll come around. The other night, three out of four corners of my bed were occupied by cat.

Next week Rajah will be undergoing a little operation to help ensure that, if he does get outside the cat population will not increase. Will that calm him down any? Only as long as it takes for him to heal from getting a few parts removed, then it will be back to full-body mayhem. The other cats will soon be recruiting him to join their own quests to completely rob me of my sanity while they cover me in cat hair. And all the while that “sucker” etched on my face will continue to glow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Election Project: the second half

As promised, I am giving the links to the responses given by two US Congressional candidates. One for the US house and one for the US Senate. I would have really liked to have more responses, but as I've been told repeatedly,  the fact that there was any responses at all, is probably more then I should have expected. Why? Because I don't represent a larger news agency, just a small community website with some idealistic dreams. Still I think this project was well worth it, on several levels, and to the candidates who did respond, I thank you.

So without further ado, I now bring you the last two candidates and their responses to our questions.

Faye Walters, Candidate for US House, district 4

Tom Clements, Candidate for US Senate

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Election Project: the first half

Yes, as I wrote earlier, my project to give voters better insight into how candidates stood on several issues, met with only marginal success. However I did get a few responses. I still feel it is important to allow people to make informed choices. I was just hoping for better side by side analysis for each of the races. But I'll take what I can get.

Over at Flying Oskar, I have begun posting the responses I have received, giving each of the candidates their own responses and am going to link them on this blog, but in two segments. The first two which are state house candidates will have their links to what I have posted at Flying Oskar today, and the last two which are US Congressional candidates, will go up on Monday. Of course you can just follow the progression at the originating site. I just wanted to try to offer each candidate a bit more coverage.

I am not endorsing or promoting any candidate, as I would have done the same for anyone who responded, regardless of party affiliation, views on issues, etc. I was just trying to provide information, to allow voters make choices. It has been a learning experience, and I will likely try something similar next time around, with some changes. Maybe.

Now on to the responses.

Jerry Blanton, SC house candidate for district 38

Tom Davies, SC house candidate for district 35

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Election Project: An Introduction

A couple of months ago I, with the help of Chris George started a project. The project was intended to give Spartanburg county residents better information about the candidates that would be appearing on the November ballots. A secondary purpose was to give candidates, especially those in smaller less publicized races and third party candidates with miniscule budgets, a chance for voters to hear what they had to say on a few topical issues. Yes, I am an idealistic, wishful-thinking kind of girl.

A list of questions was compiled for each category of candidate based on the seat they hoped to obtain, and each candidate with the exception of those running in unopposed race was contacted. With some, getting the actual questions to the candidates proved impossible, as the campaign headquarters of these candidates did not deem my little list of questions worth bothering their candidate with. Two campaigns promptly put me on their mailing lists however. That was certainly not what I had asked for. As for the actual response from all the people that Chris and I contacted, there was very little.

Yes I am very disappointed, but as was explained to me, I shouldn’t be surprised. Transparency, although much-touted amongst candidates, especially those with ridiculous amounts of funding, is avoided when it comes to real issues like the proverbial plague. Why? Because taking a stand may mean that their opponent may use that as a weapon against them. Crazy, huh? Smaller races, of course have ridiculously low funding to run their campaigns so getting to the voters on issues can be quite the challenge. One would think that they’d fall all over some free publicity, yet, that wasn’t exactly the results I got.

The money that is thrown at the big races so that candidates can pretty much say the same thing over and over again while reminding voters what a horrible person the opponent is, is in my opinion shameful. Just imagine what could be done with the money that instead, ends up in the pockets of consultants, media outlets, speech writers, advertisers etc? One big U.S. Congressional Race could almost refit an Elementary School with state of the art technology, or pay all the teachers salaries of that school for a month. But that’s a rant for another day.
I did receive four response from my list of questions, two from U.S. Congressional candidates and two from SC Congressional candidates. Sadly, we got nothing from the few local County Council candidates races, or the governor’s race. I did not contact state officer candidates like state Secretary of Education, although I considered it. Three of the four were from third parties, one was from a Democrat who’s name appears on a second party in his district.

Now on to the responses.  The questions for state races were intended for both State House and the Governor’s position. The ones for US Congress covered both houses. I am going post one set of responses per day, beginning tomorrow. I am thankful to Jerry Blanton, Tom Davies, Faye Walters and Tom Clements who took the time to respond. I will give a brief introduction to each candidate then let their responses do the rest of the talking.
Stay tuned. In the meantime, I urge you to discover information about the candidates in your district yourself. For a list of the candidates visit scvotes.org

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Taking a Nap

Miss Mom: Taking a nap

October 19, 2010
By Sylvie Galloway

Isaiah Napping
There is a activity common among the very old and the very young that those of us in the middle partake in all that often, even though it would benefit us greatly. I took the rare opportunity to enjoy this little activity and I had a really good reason to do so.

I took a nap.

There is little doubt that lives like mine are fairly typical of most of us in modern Western societies. We are busy, and counter our business with more activities. Then we add stresses, worries and not enough sleep to the mix, along with just not quite enough exercise and too many french fries and then are surprised that our bodies feel so damned tired all the time.

I am no exception.

I’ve been once again burning through my energy candle at a rapid rate. My blow torch keeps running out of propane as I have tried to get to everything that I’ve needed to get done. Today I hit a wall. I got up tired, tossed in some laundry and stumbled through breakfast. After running a few errands, I came home and face planted right into my bed where I stayed for over an hour.

It was glorious.

I didn’t sleep the entire hour, but instead simply dozed off and on, with at least one cat snoozing alongside me. I decided right then and there, that there is plenty that can wait a day or two and I’ll get to it all eventually. Making time for physical rest from my labors was a priority today and I was bound and determined to check that off my list.

I need to keep adding that simple task called “nap” to my constantly evolving to do list.

I just love when my grandson Isaiah gets sleepy. At first he is a little cranky, then he just sticks a thumb into his mouth and cuddles up to sleep. He is a champion cat napper, and has no problems what so ever with catching ten minutes of sleep when he needs it. Yesterday we were visiting with my sister and her family and my nephews were playing guitar and drums, loudly in another room. Isaiah fell asleep through all the noise.

I need a dark room, a fan running, and complete quiet.

Maybe I’ll start adding naps to my life more often, Lord knows that I can sure use them. But I first need to reteach myself that, taking time to rest is not being wasteful or lazy. That is difficult mindset to break, and its one I’ve maintained most of my adult life. Still, breaking that mindset is likely quite healthy. Then maybe I won’t feel like an extra in a zombie movie all the time. Maybe I should work at trying, more often, to lie down on a soft surface in a quiet room while closing my eyes. The last time I was able to enjoy a daily nap was when I was recovering from surgery. That was two years ago. I sometimes still miss that 2 o’clock siesta.

I doubt I am alone there.

Maybe slowing down just a tad is something we can all do. It must be, because I do return to this very topic every now and then. It is partially a reminder to myself that I need to stop trying so hard to stay busy, feeling like I’m not productive if I am idle. But I think also we all could use a collective nap, just taking some short periods of time in the day to sit back, turn off all the things that would keep us busy for just 30 minutes. We could use that time, not to catch our breaths before jumping back into the fray, but instead purposely deciding that, for now, the fray can wait. For now we are tuning out, and turning off. Things can wait just a bit, as we do a physical and often mental recharge. We can decide not to worry about the bills, the kid’s dentist appointments, how the boss feels about an upcoming project, how the country is “going to hell in a handbasket, and that damned handbasket’s weave is coming undone”, whether we can lose those ten pounds, drop that cholesterol level, or why an extended family member insists on ruining Thanksgiving every single year. We can instead, say no, all that is totally off limits for the next half hour.

Sounds rather nice, doesn’t it?

One of these days, a few decades from now I will be retired and have the capability that I once enjoyed when I was very young, the ability to take a nap whenever I felt like it. Until then I keep trying to balance out my life while I rush headlong into the things I feel I must accomplish. When I do reach that stage in my life, and you catch me napping, please just cover me up and let me be. I do need my rest. you know.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

playing with widgets.

I frequent another blog, http://johnshore.com/ and he recently installed a new widget that I really like, so I installed it here. It is a comment tool, that gives a commenter a few more options, like the ability to edit a comment and to rate another's comments. It also has a couple of other things like commenter rankings.

I do realize that my blog is not nearly as popular as John's...yet, but I like the tool and so am testing it here. Give it a try,why don't you?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Love and Hate

I found myself in a sort of reflective mood. Maybe it is because I am very tired, having spent a lot of time and energy, on work, college and how exactly am I going to solve a transportation issue on my tiny budget. Add what I think an asthma related flareup which has left me feeling rather less than perky, and I discover myself still in my jammies, with socks because I’m cold, and dreading having to work on a Sunday. Oh yeah attending church was so not happening  as well.

So in this somewhat negative, yet reflective setting I find myself in, I thought I would engage in a little self therapy. I am going to play the hate/love game. I invite you to play along.

hate having health issues like asthma. It often shows up without warning, is starting to worsen, and combined with other issues like allergies, and no sense of smell, so I can avoid some possible attack triggers, asthma can take the fun right out of my day.

love however that I have medical professionals who are helping me manage my asthma. I have medications that I take either daily or as needed to keep things under control. Plus I have friends who are understanding of my situation and will get me coffee or my inhaler in case I get a sudden flare-up. I am also very thankful that being aggressive about treatment is allowing me to live this crazy whirlwind of a life with only occasional needs to stop and spend a day in bed.

hate having just enough bills to use up all my paycheck. Luxuries for me these days is take out from one of my favorite restaurants like Monsoon Noodle house, and those luxuries I try to space out. The life changes I made this past year have made my financial situation somewhat worrisome, and I tend to fret that a surprise expense is going to show up to toss me over the proverbial edge.

love however, that I also tend to be frugal. Every month all the bills get paid, every last one. Yeah I am making only partial payments on some of the medical ones, but I get them something every month. I am thankful that I have a job, and it is one I enjoy. And I am also knowing that I am taking a major step, because of the mentioned major life change to work towards a brighter financial future.

hate knowing that there are children in my community, my state, my nation, my planet who don’t have enough to eat, or have a safe place to play, or sleep, or who live in fear of someone they know, or of strangers who’s intention is only to harm. To hear or read about yet another person who has been arrested for treating a child in any way other than they should be treated deeply saddens and angers me. To see photos of children in crises often brings me to tears and I wish I had the room and the money to bring every last one home with me. To know that statistics say that this is more common than we’d like to realize just saddens and angers me more. To know that so many simply don’t care and that I am so incapable of doing much more than pointing out that we need to help these little ones is very disheartening.

I love children. My own three make me extraordinarily proud, and my two grandbabies make my heart melt every time I see them. I love that there are other parents who feel as I do about their own kids who sacrifice and work hard to try to give their kids a bright future. I love that many parents also extend the love for their own kids to other kids they come into contact with. Those kids remember years later how a friend’s Mom always made them feel special and loved, even when things were tough at their own homes. I love that there are people who willingly go out of their way to open their hearts to reach out and help kids in need. People like social workers, guardian ad lid ems, people who foster children, teachers, child care workers, nurses, doctors, and a host of other people many who are parents or grandparents, aunts or uncles, sisters, brothers or cousins, who themselves work quietly and diligently to nurture give assistant to children and their care-givers.

hate bigotry. I hate it even more that it is becoming more common, not less, all it seems to have done is shifted focus to some new groups I hate that I find bigotry is even quite common amongst my faith and feel strongly that it should never have been allowed to take hold within Christianity. I hate that bigotry keeps people apart, preventing them from actually getting to know each other’s values and worth. I hate that it instead separates; the anglo and the hispanic, the liberal and the conservative, the gay and the straight, the people of any other faith and your own, the pro life and the pro choice, the poor and the wealthy. I hate that bigotry is often fed from fear and ignorance and mindset that the other person or people group is inferior or a threat to livelihood, social status, economic stability or cultural acceptance of another. I wish I could eradicate bigotry forever from the human psyche.

love however, the fact that there are people who are willing to challenge bigotry and harmful prejudices. They are willing to ask tough questions and to take the heat for asking them. They invite discourse, challenge the reasons for certain beliefs when it comes to the discrimination of others and welcome willingly the opportunity for people of varied views and backgrounds to come together to see how alike we really are. They are willing to accept and respect the differences that shape us, deciding its ok to disagree on a principle, but still value and willingly interact with the person they differ with. I love the journey of perception that challenging bigotry has set me on, and the people I have been fortunate to encounter along the way. I also love the fact that I can choose not to go the way of divvying up people into supposedly little neat and totally separate categories. I believe in the beauty of diversity, that diversity is intentional, having been made that way by the God I worship.

Putting things into the “yucks and the yays” can help us get a better perspective on how we feel. Life isn’t all bad, and it isn’t all good. Some things we can change, others we cannot. My list is of course the greatly condensed version of my hate vs. love things in life.

So what about you? What is it that you hate that you can counter with the concept of love? Do you hate American politics but love your community enough to get involved? Do you hate that people don’t really care that we still keep polluting our planet and ourselves, but love finding new ways to live greener? Do you hate the choices that are on television but you love the fact that turning the TV off has given your family opportunities to interact that you hadn’t thought of? Sharing those things can actually help us to check our own perspectives and maybe work together to get rid of some of those hateful things.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lets review a couple of things

I have had a whole heap of stuff on my plate lately so I haven't had time to do any product reviews. Therefore I am going to do three in one blog. Two have been sent to me, one is something I decided to try on m own to see how it worked.

The first is from the Febreeze company. They have a new product called Set and Refresh.
The first nice thing about this is that there is no need to plug it in anywhere. It is also pretty small and you can place it about anywhere you choose that has a flat surface. Because of its small compact size it can easily hide behind another object but the simple shape of the refreshener holder makes it not stand out like some other products.

I of course can't notice the smell, but one thing I do like about Febreeze products is that they do not trigger allergy or asthma symptoms. My tester, or youngest daughter who still lives with me, likes the smell. I have had it sitting on my entertainment center for well over a month. There is still a little bit of the liquid yet to evaporate which is how these products work. In my opinion they last longer then the plug in type room refresheners as heat tends to make liquids evaporate more quickly. This one is a keeper.

The second products is one I decided to buy and try. It is a stick and leave fabric softener for my dryer. I

I needed fabric softener one day and I saw these sitting on the shelf. As I am one to always forget fabric softener sheets, and feel that I go through the liquid kind too quickly, I thought I'd give these a try. 

I don't know yet how long the dryer bar will last as I am only approaching about 6 weeks since I bought the thing. But I suspect that for me I won't use up all the product in two months. I don't do that much laundry anymore. However it does work very nicely. I have no static cling, my laundry is nice and soft, but not overly so. Plus this appeals to my little "save the planet" side. The packaging was small and recyclable and the product itself doesn't have to be thrown away or added to the water system after each use. Time will tell, when I need to replace, how hard the sticked on holder will be to remove from my dryer. Hopefully that is not a big issue.

The last product is something a bit different. I was sent these little timers. http://www.timesince.biz/Welcome.html They are small and compact and can easily be set on top of a prescription bottle. The concept is that one sets the timer so that you get a reminder when it is time again to take that medicine. This would work best for those types of medicine that you need to take every few hours, like cough medicines for that sick child, or a pain medication that you don't want to take too early. There are other applications that could apply where one would need a reminder to do something in, say four hours. 

The downside to this timer, is that it isn't very useful to a someone who takes medication at set times of day, like I do, every morning, when I get up and  right before bed, and is used to that routine, but there are certainly situations where these little timers could come in very handy. For example, if you are one of those that is prone to forget to take that medicine when you are supposed to.

That's all my reviews for now. If you try any of these products yourself, send me feedback.  On the items with aromas, I always need help. My sense of smell, being non-existent, does handicap me a bit and forces me to rely on people with working olfactory senses. If you have something you want me to test and review, send me an email and I will add that to my list of things to test and try.