Just Graft Yourself On

Liiiiiiiiice. I can’t quit you, lice. The latest development is nits that pass through our official professionally recommended best nit combs.  I have a sinking feeling that lice are adapting by having smaller nits. There’s no point in discussing this here.

Shall we have a big reveal? Recall, the original Mama cat:

water color cat 1

The artist is a woman named Aurore de la Morinerie.

Here is the outline that I lived with for four months:

Version 2

Here is the photo that the artist showed me that made me lose my utter shit:


That chest area by the front paws – I saw an inflated, bloody sausage.   I basically eased gently out of the room, turned tail and ran. (No I didn’t – we discussed it. But I said clearly, “I think I’m done for today. I need to sleep on it and process different ways of going forward.”)

Here is a slightly less atrocious view of it, oriented for easy comparison with the original:

img_3594.jpgwater color cat 1 - flipped horizontally

See how the posture is altered? The tattoo cat is sitting on her hind feet, the painted cat is sprawled on her side, feet going away from the viewer, and then twisted.  Coming from the tail, the spine of the tattoo cat is high in the air, whereas the spine of the painted cat is much closer to the floor. Because of this,  the tattoo cat has a weirdly acute waist.  Plus the chest area looking so over-inflated.

(I was pretty upset.)

Here is the fix that I presented to the tattoo artist, last Monday. My mom painted this:


(We concluded that we were stuck with the new posture.)

Okay, ready for the drum roll? Here is how it turned out:


Yes, I love it.  I think it’s beautiful and I’m really happy.  It’s still got some strange bits, but they’re well within my range of acceptable odd parts.

I don’t know what to think about the twists and turns it took to get here, but it’s all really okay.


Rascal: “My teacher taught me a song. It goes When I had no parents, I died!  When I had no parents, I died! When I had no parents, I diiiiiiiiied!”  I must say, I’m shocked that the Poppies classroom would teach such morbid lyrics.


Rascal is also a blast at the pool. He is our only kid who naturally, readily loved going under water. He holds his breath for quite some time there.


He likes to dive for the rings, but he can’t really get himself anywhere underwater, so he just sort of wriggles around and reaches hard. It’s the best.

This is a Heebie University parking lot:


I believe those are mesquite trees.  That first one has the damndest thing going on:


A different kind of plant has grafted itself on to the underside of a branch. It looks like a tree with two kinds of leaves.

IMG_3899 (1)

Here’s another couple places, along the trunk, where this second species has grafted itself on. It isn’t just superficially attached like moss – it’s growing from the wood.

My new bloggy digs reminds me strongly of this:

The Cat Ate My Gymsuit

which was the version I owned, mid-eighties.  I can’t remember much about the book anymore, except she sure did skip out on a lot of PE.

Pokey brought this home from the park:


A fun fact that I’ve learned over this past year is this:

Neo-Nazis use the number 88 as an abbreviation for the Nazi salute Heil Hitler. The letter H is eighth in the alphabet, whereby 88 becomes HH. Often, this number is associated with the number 14, e.g. 14/88, 14-88, or 1488; this number symbolizes the Fourteen Words coined by David Lane, a prominent white nationalist.

So now I’ve managed to outsmart myself of whether this particular 88 is laden with meanings or not.

City Camp was closed this week. So Jammies ran Daddy Camp with the big kids. They biked every morning, he played endless games with them, took them ice skating, took them trampoline jumping, and so on.

Hawaii had herself a personal project:


Here is a typical page:


It’s a photo album of Hawaii! She has worked extremely hard on this – choosing photos off of Jammies’ computer, printing them all out, cutting them to size, taping them in according to layouts, and so on.

Given that she’s nine years old, there must be easily 50 pages of scrapbooking.  It really is a fun project.

I saw this guy on my morning walk:


Apparently he is an Egyptian Goose:


and they really are native to Egypt and the Nile Valley, and apparently show up in ancient Egyptian art.  They are thriving here, though.


Two more the next day.  I think they like me!

Ace, what’s on your face?


“It’s bloooooooood.”


She came home from daycare wearing it, and kept it on for another hour or so, which is really a long time to have tape on your face.

I posted Daddy Cat, but I never did the full reveal like the others.  Here is the original, by Ferdinand Ogor:

Large Ferdinand Oger

Here is the stencil outline from last March:

Version 2

Here is how he ended up after two sessions:


This is the photo I posted before. I wasn’t very happy with his face, but that was before the trauma of mama cat.  All of a sudden I grew a happy perspective on the shortcomings of Daddy cat.

Nevertheless, I worked him over ten ways from Sunday, and ended up presenting the artist with this, courtesy of my own mama:

Daddy cat adjusted head

in order to lighten the brow a bit.

Here’s the before and after:

Daddy cat currentIMG_3950

I mean, it’s not very different, but I’m also not going to lose sleep over it. Jammies loves Daddy Cat, which is super important to me.

Here’s the whole thing:


I think the extra fur on the left of his head helps quite a bit, actually.

We have one last appointment in about a month. We’re going to make the browns in the kittens a little more intense, to match the adult cats, and any last details that I want her to tweak can be tweaked.

Here’s the thing about this artist: I can’t praise her highly enough for how flexible and easy-going she is. She’s never gotten huffy or hurt over my corrections and micromanaging.  She just rolls with it.  I couldn’t be more grateful to her for that.

Version 2

Tiny pixelated Rascal does gymnastics!

Version 2

Tiny pixelated Ace does gymnastics!


Pokey stands around in between activities at gymnastics!

(Hawaii’s class is on a different night.)


A New Hope

So, I’m here now! Welcome! Let me show you around! Is the background color too dark? Is the header too big? Is the font legible? I am eager to please.


Hawaii made us pop-tarts. She made the pie crust from scratch. It was flaky and insanely good.


Blueberry and strawberry.

Hawaii: “When I am in high school, I’m going to have enemies. And I’m going to bake them pastries, only instead of SUGAR I’m going to put in SALT!”

So why move now? I’ve been getting increasingly nervous about LiveJournal. First, it’s now hosted entirely in Russia.  (People write about that like we all know it’s ominous, but I don’t really know why. I mean, I get that Russia is on our collective shitlist, but I’m missing some details with respect to the gap between destroying democracies, jailing gay people, and murdering journalists on one hand, and web-hosting personal journals of mild-mannered Texans on the other.)

Second, the loadtime has been getting increasingly creaky.  Bizarrely creaky. Why does a static webpage take so excessively long to load? What’s going on in the background? That certainly seems shady.

Third, they changed it so that I can’t eliminate advertisements for my readers, even though I have a paid account. That last one made me livid. So I threw in the towel, after 13 years at LiveJournal.  Here we are in WordPress.  The archives aren’t migrated yet. I have a fear that they’ll all disappear once the Russians learn of my disloyalty, which is why I superstitiously have not vocalized my complaints much on the old site.



More dying of the hair! The old colors lasted about two weeks.


Purple hair dye and playing Go Fish.


Half blue, half neon green, which only half showed up.


Hawaii’s closet.

See those three hangers, one with a red square of paper, one with a green, and one with a blue square of paper? That’s marking off sections of Hawaii’s closet. Don’t hang the shirts with the dresses.


I’m studying Fluffy’s face for clues on how to make Daddy Cat’s brow less furrowed and Neanderthalesque.  My next appointment is tomorrow. I’m not hyperventilating about it at this exact second, at least.



Rascal asks, “Do dogs eat pizza?” Honestly, the only reason I’m posting this is due to a  nagging sensation that I would have posted this kind of thing when Hawaii was three. That it seems marvelous and novel with your first kid – look, dog-themed questions! – but utterly unremarkable with your fourth.  I bet you’d know all about Rascal’s class’s unit on dogs, if Rascal was our oldest. (He does have a cute monologue about dalmations, boxers, chihuahuas, and a few others that I’m forgetting.)

Amusingly, Rascal – in the course of pretending to be a puppy – asked Jammies what his dog’s name was. Jammies said, “Rascal” because Rascal was originally Jammies’ childhood cocker spaniel.  So now real life Rascal is demanding that we call him Rascal, and it’s a bit surreal for me.

There was a time, shortly after Hawaii was born, where I had referred to her far more often as “Hawaii” on the internet than I had uttered her real name. After all, a newborn baby doesn’t know its name, and often you just say “the baby” in reference, whereas I was blogging about her constantly.  For a short weird period, “Hawaiian Punch” seemed to be her authentic name and her actual name seemed like a nickname.


My little ducklings are growing! Cruising across the river. All that green is Texas wild rice, which is endangered.  When I first moved here, there were tons of nutria and elephant ears and other invasive species.  The conservation groups have worked hard to protect the various endangered salamanders and wild rice, and to fight invasive species.

All the same, I adore elephant ears and kind of miss them.


Stealth invasion of elephant ears, above! Creeping across the opposite bank of the river.

I also liked the nutria – big glossy otter looking things – but I haven’t seen one in ten years. I like nutria the way I like buzzards and deer: they’re just so big!  I like when giant-sized nature prefers our domesticated urban order. Deer, nutria, and vultures: they’re all basically just squirrels and pigeons. But giant!


Blue bucket, what have you got to say for yourself?


Days of label-makers past.


We got a funny letter from Jammies’ former employer. (We opened it, read it, and said they were SUCKERS!)(No we didn’t.)

The letter said that since Jammies is 40, he’s a protected class, and thus they will document for him that his lay-off is not due to his protected status. Out of the 300 people or so in his part of the company, ten were laid off. They provided the job titles and ages of all 300 people, and whether or not they were laid off.

So how did it shake out?  Of the ten people who were fired, eight were 40 or older, and the last two were both 39.  Verdict: Hrmmm.  However, we prefer our severance package over the unpleasantness of mounting a legal challenge, and it would be forfeited if we tilted at the windmill. So we’ll take our money and slink off (into the most peaceful, relaxed summer we’ve ever had.)


The summer is languid and slow. My research project at school is going swimmingly. My colleague has been noticeably less irritating than usual. Even when I met him, in his 20s, his default state was what I call Chuckles the Grandpa, and he drove me nuts with its folksy wisdom and indulgent you-betchas.

I still hear him, being Chuckles, through my open door, when he hangs out with the department secretary, who eats it up. The two of them adore each other, and I think it’s sweet but taxing.  The point being: I notice that he turns off Chuckles when we’re talking and planning, and it’s a very considerate gesture that has probably saved our collaboration.


That is a big snapping turtle.

Summer, languid or slow. The big kids are done with summer camp for the next month, partly due to flexibility now that Jammies is home.  We are going to the pool or the river nearly daily.


The pool was very empty on the 4th of July.  The location is really terrible – it’s right by the river. So there is literally no pool parking, since everything fills up with river users. This is the only public pool in town, and it’s really only available if you’re within walking distance of it.

Also, they removed the slides, and there’s no diving board, so the deep end is rather sad to behold. Still, it’s refreshing.  On the 4th of July, we were booted from the pool due to lightning, and made it home just as the heavens opened.


It was cozy inside and dramatic outside. We watched from the back deck. Friends came over.  At the end, we watched fireworks from our driveway. Jingoism was nearly nonexistent.


Our neighbor planted red, white, and blue seeds, which sprouted just in time for the holiday.

For the 4th of July, I registered with the county as a Volunteer Deputy Registrar, which means I can register people to vote for the November election.

Unsurprisingly, Texas is awful in terms of hoops to jump through, in order to vote.  The one which I suspect is most damaging is the one about updating your address when you move.  It doesn’t feel like the most controversial requirement, but young people and poor people move so often.  Obviously it’s in bad faith, but for the sake of argument, you could obviously let people update their address when they vote. “Is your information still current?” you could say. “No!” they might respond, “That’s my old address. Now I live at this new address!” and then your voter information would be complete.

For my 40th birthday and Jammies’ unemployment, he installed some pipes for hanging plants for me:


I think I like it?  I was going for Bohemian, but I think I landed on Atrium at the Old Folks Home.  It may need tweaking.