Darlene Love, Among Other things

People mean well.  I tell myself that a lot.

They mean well when they ask “How are you?”  And they mean well when they make suggestions on how to deal with the things they assume are going to be the most difficult.

They thought that my going through her clothes and papers would be horrible, but I tidy when I’m upset anyway, so this was a natural fit.  A few are concerned about how I will get through Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but tonight might just have more significance to me.  Tonight, David Letterman has Darlene Love on to sing “Merry Christmas, Baby Please Come Home,” as she has for twenty-something years.

We’ve been watching that annual episode for at least a decade.   It also marked the point in the season when my sister would decide it was time for her to start wrapping presents.  It drove me mad and that is probably half the reason she did it.  There are tons of childhood memories I can flick through— Christmas Eves at my aunt or grandmother’s house, presents she gave me, an outfit one of us wore . . . but now things are very fresh so it’s the small things that just we two shared that are the hardest.   Siblings share a lot; far more than you realize until you are in the unfortunate position of looking back on it.

Anyway, I want to wish you all the best the season has to offer, but most especially a gentle winter.  I need winter to be kind to me, and I wish it for you, too.

Here is Darlene singing in 2010.  We liked her ensemble that year, very festive.


The Most Important Thing I Have Ever Done

It’s been a year (more or less) since I wrote here with any regularity.  It was gradual.  I went from multiple posts a week to maybe one, then it became a few a month, and then . . .  I suppose there were various reasons I stopped writing; I’m not even sure of all of them myself.  Writing was always a form of therapy for me and maybe I was getting less out of it.

I can’t say that this appearance is to be the first of many, but if there is a time I need therapy, this would be it.  I hate to be so blunt, but there is no way to ease into this.  On October 11, my sister died.   She was my closest relative in every sense of the word.  She knew everything about me, spoken and unspoken. She accepted me as is despite my not always returning the favor.  She was sister, mother, and friend.

I think—but cannot be certain—that I will have more to say about this in the weeks to come, but for the moment I’m not ready to share anything more than what I wrote for her memorial.  I can’t say it’s the one of the best things I ever wrote, but it is the most important.

Beth was born in Castro Valley in May of 1963.   Her arrival was six weeks early and she spent the first three weeks of her life in an incubator, struggling to survive. The strength, endurance and independence she demonstrated throughout her life might be traced to that beginning.  A year after her birth, her parents Chuck and Judy moved to Fremont, where her brothers Glen and Charles were born.  Beth and her family enjoyed their life here, going to MacFarland’s at Christmas to buy candy canes, getting ice cream in the summer at the drive-thru creamery, and many picnics at Lake Elizabeth, which Beth and Glen told Charles had been named after Beth.  And you know . . . he believed them.

She graduated from Irvington High School with honors and went on to UC Santa Barbara; she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and developed a love for Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley.   After college, she returned to the Bay Area and lived with her grandfather while she worked in San Francisco for PRC.  Her job there involved working with public agencies, one of which was the City of Fremont; that project was her introduction to Pam with whom she formed an instant rapport and a life-long friendship.  She was ready for a professional change and pursued a job at the City, encouraged by the new friends she had made there.  She worked for all three city agencies, remaining there for 23 years.

Family and friends were a big part of Beth’s life.  She loved spending time with her nephews talking baseball and football—she knew all the stats, going to plays and movies with friends, and was always a big part in family celebrations, usually found in the kitchen doing dishes on every major holiday.  Holidays and birthdays were among her favorite things.  She had the special knack of always remembering everyone’s taste, style and interests so she could select each of them the perfect gift.   She particularly delighted in buying gifts for the children in her life; be it her nephews, younger cousins, or the children of friends, they were all the recipients of her gracious nature.

Another passion of hers was cats.  She spent the majority of her life living with them; and in later years, lent her assistance and her finances to a local pet rescue.   With her help, in just a few years, 40 cats that had been lost, abandoned, or born free-roaming were spayed and neutered, and either adopted into loving homes or placed in a free-roaming cat colony where they could be cared for.  In addition, she supported numerous charities, giving generously every year.

The word generosity has been used repeatedly today; it was key to who Beth was, and key to the way she defined friendship. One of her favorite movies was Fried Green Tomatoes, a movie that had a lot to say about love and friendship.  A pivotal scene involved a clipping from The Book of Ruth.  “And Ruth said: ‘Whither thou goest, I will go. Where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people.’”  That quote perfectly expresses the kind of friend Beth was.  She put her friends’ happiness and interests first, because giving friendship was as rewarding to her as receiving it.

The United States of Stupid

I have not blogged since January.   The Boston Marathon bombing did not bring me out of hibernation; neither did poor Paula Deen’s trials and tribulations.  Nor, the Republican party starting yet another war against lady parts.  Or Justin Bieber peeing in a bucket while saying “Fuck you, Bill Clinton” while his lame Canadian posse proclaimed themselves to be the Wild Kidz or Wonder Twinz or whatever.


So, you ask yourself (pretend you did), “What has caused Cat Boy to surface?”

This did.

(1) Marc Anthony is not Mexican.  He is American-born and of Puerto Rican descent.  He is also two months older than me. Ha ha! You’re older than me.


(2) Irving Berlin, who wrote God Bless America, was not born in here.  He was born in Russia.

(3) God Bless America is a really weak song.  The lyrics are trite and the music derivative.

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. ”

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

(4) I do not go to baseball games with any regularity but I resent that post-9/11, some idiot decided that instead of using the Seventh Inning Stretch to stand up, work the kinks out of our back, buy a bag of peanuts, or pee in a trough,  that instead we should listen to a very average patriotic song made popular by Kate Smith, who did not make anything else in the world even remotely popular.  Except maybe turkey dinners.


Stolen Meme

Age:  44.  I am 44 and cannot think of anything either witty or insightful to say about it.

Bed Size:  Actually, there’s a very interesting story behind this.  I went mattress shopping on Labor Day three or four years ago, and the sales person in the store expressed shock and concern over my saying I wanted to buy a full-sized mattress.

“We never sell full beds to adults; they all want a queen size, at least.”  I told him that a full bed fit the room perfectly and that the extra six inches of length on a queen bed would bring it too close to the facing wall.  He explained that most people are willing to deal with a cramped room if it means a bigger bed to sleep in; I explained that most people are stupid.  I have since swapped rooms with my foster cats, taking the room that is a foot narrower for myself.    Had I listened to that salesperson and got the queen bed  I would now have to walk sideways to get in the room.

This was not a very interesting story, but I wanted to demonstrate my belief that whenever someone says “Actually, it’s a very interesting story,” it rarely is.

Chore that you hate:  I currently hate most household chores.  I have less time in which to do them so I end up rushing through things with half-assed results.  It’s difficult to enjoy things that you are doing both quickly and poorly.

Dogs:  I like some dogs.  I like dogs who do not feel the need to jump on me when they seem me.  I like dogs who have no interest in licking my face. I’ll feed them treats and deal with their spit on my hands, but I prefer that they keep it off my face. I like dogs who are Corgis.  I like cartoon dogs who make friends with cats.

I would normally insert a video here of Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot but youtube doesn’t seem to have the original cartoon up right now.

Essential start to your day:  I pee, I drink water, and I feed a lot of cats.

Favorite Color:  “Favorite” questions are tedious.

Greatest achievement:  I’m just going to say something facetious so let’s skip it.

Height:  5 foot 6 inches as far as I know.

Instruments that you play:  I played a Fisher Price xylophone many years ago but I’m sure I wasn’t very good at it.

Justin Bieber:  He looks like a 21st century Shaun Cassidy, but he speaks like a white kid with gangsta delusions.  It makes me sad inside.

Kids:  I like children.  Not all children. Mainly just those who are adorable and don’t require anything of me.  Some kids (especially those of Indian and Middle Eastern descent) who come into the pet rescue adoption clinics have gorgeous eyelashes and I want to steal them for myself. But you’re not allowed to steal children’s body parts for your own use.

Live:  And in person.  What is this question supposed to be asking?

Mother’s Name: It’s from the Bible.  Her character cut off some guy’s head.  Do your research and you’ll figure it out.  No, it’s not Salome. Salome asked for someone’s head; she did not do any actual cutting.

Nicknames:  I recently called someone “Nightmare on Slut Street.”  I also called a man whose name I forgot “The Moroccan guy with the scowling neighbor.”  This type of nickname is okay by me, but if your name is William and you go by Willie, you have made a mistake.

Obama or McCain:  I would swear I already voted on this one.

Pet peeves:  People.

Quote:  “My boot!  You have my boot!”  Patti LuPone

(I did in fact have her boot.)

Random:  Black-eyed peas are supposed to be eaten on New Years Day for good luck. The only year I recall doing this was the year my cousin died, my half-sister excommunicated my family from her life, my aunt developed Parkinson’s Disease, I started taking Ativan . . . I do not eat black-eyed peas, ever.

Subway or Quiznos:  I have never been to Quiznos.  I went to Subway once.  I did not return. I think that says it.

Twitter:  Twitter is a website where a user can post links and photos and text updates of no more than 14o characters.  Celebrities often make use of the service in an effort to try to destroy their careers and reputations.

Underwear:  I am all for it.

Vegetable(s) you hate:  I don’t hate any vegetable.  Right now the smell of broccoli cooking makes me sick to my stomach but I don’t hate the vegetable because of it;  I just avoid it.

What makes you run late:  I always wait until about 30 minutes before I am due to leave the house to get in the shower; trying to get household chores, business calls, or paperwork done, so I don’t have to face them when I come home.  This is perfectly fine if you plan ahead and know that your clothes are laundered and where you think they are, that there is shampoo in the shower, etc.  I tend to forget those little things and end up running out the door while trying to tie my shoes.

X-rays you’ve had:  Teeth/mouth/jaw and chest.

Yummy food that you make:  I make very good plum jam.

Zoo animal:  People mostly answer “Lions” to a question like this and I think they’re wrong.  Tiger is the correct answer.  You give a lion a haircut and it no longer looks impressive, but you could shave a tiger and it would still be a tiger.  They have stripes and lions do not.  They walk with a little more style that lions do.  They are very patient and/or tolerant; it took years before one of them finally attacked Siegfried or Roy. Tigers have a baseball team named after them which makes sense since cats enjoy watching baseball.  Lions have a football team named after them which makes no sense since no cat (or me) would ever want to watch a football game.   Tigers like Frosted Flakes.  Lions require a lot of grooming to look good; tigers just wash their paws, give themselves a good shake, and they’re ready to go.

I could go on all day. . . Tiger is the correct answer.

It’s The End of the World and I Missed It

I would like to state for the record that I am sick of zombies.  I’m sick of historical fiction involving zombies,  sick of talk about a zombie apocalypse, zombie costumes, zombie t-shirts . . . I’m sick of zombies in the same way people last year were sick of hearing about the Royal Wedding.  That sick of them.

So, fuck zombies.

Three people in my extended circle died this week and so far none are seeking out the brains of the living.  My brother lost two friends on Christmas day and my cousin’s wife died yesterday.  My father got a pacemaker fitted on Christmas Eve, and some idiot called me to say that she couldn’t find the kitten she adopted and could we get her a replacement before Christmas morning.  In addition, a checker at TJ Maxx forgot to give me one of my four bags filled with gifts.  The one that had the expensive chocolate-dipped pretzels and Stonewall Kitchen jams.

It was not a stellar holiday.  But it wasn’t the worst I’ve ever had.  I got some new socks and I needed new socks.

I knew it wasn’t going to be a good season before it began.  (No need to tell me that a negative outlook is going to yield a negative result; I was not being negative, I was being pragmatic.)  I had so much going on with the pet rescue and was making an effort to be helpful to my parents with some long-neglected things in their home, I knew all the cooking, baking, decorating and such would be rushed and therefore not much fun.  I also knew I wouldn’t have time to do anything festive like go see A Christmas Carol in the city, or have a lunch out with friends.

Those things, more than the actual holiday celebrations, make the season for me.  It’s fine, though. There will be other holidays and celebrations; and I’m too occupied with other things to dwell on it for long.

I still have seven foster cats and I’m not sure that is going to change anytime soon.  Adoptions are slow. And the group needs CPR.  2013 is the crucial year for us, I believe: we die, or live on.  I define who I am for the next decade or so, or I wonder what I am supposed to do now.  It seems appropriate to me that this is happening now, as we (according to the Mayans and other sources) enter a new age.  I’m excited about entering a new age, although not enough to start wearing turquoise jewelry, hemp clothing,  and move to New Mexico.

I think I’ll likely be a low-key new ager.

There is more to say on all of these subjects, as well as others, but this is just a check-in for the moment.  I hope everyone had a holiday season that was no more trying than mine, and that you all have a safe and healthy new year.

For an overview of what is going on (or at least what I hope will be going on with my group in future) you can read this.

Long Overdue, But There Are Pictures

I don’t think I have ever gone this long without a post of some kind, and I’m not going to try to justify it.  (Here comes a digression.)  I am fully tired of people using the “I am so busy” excuse.  It’s old. It’s overused.  It no longer has meaning.

It’s become a reflex action for people who have better things to do than the things they have agreed to/chosen to/are required to do.  And they might actually be busy: busy with their job; busy raising kids; busy playing online games or masturbating; busy eating Chunky Monkey.

I don’t care if it’s a valid busy or not; it’s still a “I had something more important to do than the thing I said I would” statement.  So I am going to do my damnedest not to use that excuse ever again.


I currently have nine fosters and one that I still need to catch.  In an earlier post I predicted that Momma Threadgoode—the cat who has evaded my trap for three years—was working on her second litter of the year, and I was right.  There were three.  Buddy died shortly after I caught him, from injuries that probably resulted in his being hit by a car.  His sister Dinah was adopted today, and their other sibling has refused so far to enter any of the traps I have set for him.

Right now I’m more worried about the cats actually in my possession.  None of them show all that well at the adoption clinics.  Boris has a good excuse, he is disabled and that has left him more nervous. His sister and brother, Nell and Dudley, are less nervous and a bit friendlier but they don’t show it in public.  Neither do any of the others really, with the possible exception of Tessie.

So I’m worried about getting stuck with eight cats.

I am down three, though.  Any post here is long overdue, but this part of this post is really long overdue.  Last week, Tiny Tim, Nora, and Amy were all placed at Fat Kitty City.  I wasn’t sure when it was going to happen because of the cost. I got a lot of donations—many from people reading this, but they raised their price to $1500 per cat. And I added Amy, one of last years fosters, to the list.

Because of the excess funds the rescue group currently has and my pretty much giving up all outside interests to help keep them functioning, they offered to pay the balance for me.  If this group is indeed the Titanic, this assures that I will be going down with the ship.  And whatever I may think when that happens, right now I see it as being worth it.

Having said that, I can never stress enough how important the donations I got from online friends and acquaintances were, however big or small.  They kept me optimistic, they kept me focused, they kept me looking at various sanctuaries to be sure I picked the right one, and I did.  It’s small for the moment but there are plans to expand considerably as time and finances allow, but as we walked through and one of the owners introduced us by name to a hundred or so cats, I knew however big it got it would still be a real home to all the cats who live there.  And that’s what we wanted, not just a safe place for them to spend their lives; a happy, friendly, comforting place.

So thank you all—those who gave money and those who gave encouragement.  I always seem to need a little more of both than I can muster up on my own.

Note to RNC

I should have posted this here weeks ago—I did say something on facebook and twitter, but unless you follow me you’d have missed it.

When someone suggests a song to promote one your candidates or ideas, call me.  I could have warned you that Paul Ryan saying his favorite band was Rage Against the Machine would draw laughter from liberals (who would say that his party is in fact the machine), confusion from older conservatives, and possibly an editorial from someone associated with RATM.

I could have also warned Mitt Romney and Co. not to use a Silversun Pickups song for his campaign.  And on and on and on—Sarah Palin: Baracuda; Ronald Reagan: Born in the USA; Bush and Mc Cain: Still the One, etc.  I cannot say that I could have warned Barack Obama about not using a song by the band Sam and Dave because I knew nothing about that until after it was all over.

As far as tonight’s brilliant choice—We Built This City, where do I start?  To begin with, the song is a last-ditch effort of a band in decline, and it pretty much cinched the deal for them.  It’s a song about anti-commercialism, anti-corporatism, and yet it sounds exactly like a 1980s TV commercial.  And, the song is set in San Francisco.

San Francisco, the one in California.  Where people get gay married and recycle.  Where they believe in climate change.  Where foie gras is illegal but condoms are given out in churches.

Really, call me first next time.

PS.  I made up the part about handing out condoms in church but I feel fairly confident that if I spent some time doing research I would find that at least once church in the city has done this.