Things I want to do in theory

Source: Itty Bitty Kitty Committee

Here are some things I want to do in theory, meaning, as soon as I actually tried to do them, I would be a.) very mad at myself, b.) tearful, c.) ashamed, or d.) all of the above.

  1. Adopt a cat! (No, not really. Cats, like 50-gallon aquariums, are very nice to look at, but no one really wants to take care of them. Plus, most cats are mean and their poop is making us all schizophrenic.)
  2. Run 10 miles! (Running is for masochists. And it is bad for you.)
  3. Shave off all my hair! (Beth: Are you crying about father? Jo: My hair…)
  4. Grow out all my hair! (Very quickly, I start to look like this. This is also what you get when you type “homeschool hair” into Google image search.)
  5. Live on a farm in the middle of nowhere! (Can I live on a farm that’s near civilization? Do those exist? I’m scared of the darkness in the woods.)
  6. Raise sheep! (Sheep are actually quite gross. Ever tried to pet one? I dare you. If the woolly grease doesn’t get you, the ticks will.)
  7. Take a remedial math class! (I should do this one, but it would make me very much point b, above.)
  8. Train our future dog to compete in agility! (Agility is hard, y’all. Plus, I’m not competitive or aggressive enough to hang with the humans involved in it.)
  9. Re-upholster furniture! (Despite what the Life List says, this sounds like a terrible, terrible idea. I’d rather buy a new chair.)
  10. Do a split! (That is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious, self.)

Happy Friday! Guion comes home tomorrow night! Can’t wait.

Monday Snax

Carter Mountain with Bo! (Photo courtesy of Guion's iPhone.)

We went on a long, beautiful hike up to Carter Mountain on Saturday with Win, Bo, and new friends Joseph, Lauren, and William. The day was a flawless example of the beauty of this area in early autumn.

Snax:

Three Women in Politics Won the Nobel Peace Prize. Awesome. A quick article about the three women who were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year. (Daily Intel)

Portrait. A series of amazing portraits from Grace’s half-year abroad. Stunning! (Como Say What?)

I Should Now. Mockingbird posts a beautiful poem by Czeslaw Milosz. (Mockingbird)

Live/Work: An Artist’s Dream Space. For real! I can has? (The Charlotte)

New Glasses Again. A brief photo history of Angela’s ever-changing eyewear. (WXTCHOU)

Return of the Kitten Whisperer. Something about this gruff, mustached man acting as a jungle gym for homeless kittens is hilarious to me. (The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee)

Hehehe. This cat looks like a fun time. (Ulicam)

Color Photographs of Circus Performers, 1940-1950. This makes being a circus performer look totally cool and awesome, instead of really degrading and exhausting, as it probably is. (Retronaut)

Ancient Chariot Fleet Unearthed in China. And all of the horses, too! (Retronaut)

The mysterious allure of cats

Source: Itty Bitty Kitty Committee

I have never been a cat person. If you know anything about me, it is probably that I am totally OBSESSED with dogs. But, lately, cats have been very interesting to me.

Don’t worry: I’m not going to get a cat anytime soon. But I would like to learn more about them.

Volunteering at the SPCA has changed my tune about cats. I used to proclaim that I really disliked cats. I don’t say that anymore. I still don’t understand cats, but then again, who really does? I can read a dog’s body language quite quickly, and I like to think I’m pretty good with dogs, on average. But cats? They mystify me.

For example, the last time I went to the SPCA, I decided that I’d spend a few minutes in the Cat Socialization Room. This is a little room with a TV and a loveseat and two litterboxes where eight to ten cats roam around daily. I tentatively walked in and crouched down, waited for the herd of kitties to come to me. I didn’t make any sudden movements. A few came up and sniffed me, but one attentive tortoiseshell put his paw on my knee. I was thrilled. “He likes me! We are going to be friends!” Without my encouragement, he climbed up in my lap and settled down.

I began to slowly stroke him and he started to purr. This continued for a minute or so, until, in mid-stroke, he turned his head and bit me. Not a play bite. This was a “Get away from me now” bite. He jumped off my lap. I was bewildered. What did I do? I moved around the room again, stroked other kitties, and then I felt a paw on my knee. Same sassy tort. He climbed back in my lap, of his own volition, and I let him stay there. Then he tried to bite me again. Seriously. What IS up with CATS.

Dogs would not do that. If a dog pulled a stunt like that, he’d be diagnosed with some kind of brain deformity/chemical imbalance. But cats? Apparently this is normal behavior. I asked my coworker about it; said coworker has 11 (yes, 11) cats and is a general expert on felines. He told me that he had a few cats who would act like that–solicit attention and then lash out for no apparent reason. His best explanation was that cats are extremely complex and they can change their minds from second to second.

So. Things I have lately learned about cats:

  1. Not all cats are aloof; some actually demand affection from humans.
  2. Cats are way more unpredictable than dogs. A cat’s mood can change in the blink of an eye, while most dogs tend to be temperamentally stable in given situations.
  3. Cats cannot truly be called domesticated, as Temple Grandin points out, since they could switch back to being feral whenever they wanted to. Modern dogs, on the other hand, could not survive without some proximity to people, which therefore indicates that dogs can be truly called “domesticated.”
  4. Per point 3, cats are not nearly as attached to humans as dogs are. Evolution does not necessitate their development of a close relationship with humans, although it can happen, should the cat deign to extend his favors to you. For example, cats are not necessarily attached to their families. They can–and will–leave home for months at a time. Most dogs (unless you have an intact male husky) wouldn’t dream of such a thing.
  5. Pregnant ladies should not have cats! Kitty litter will make your baby come out like a cyclops or something.
  6. Cats are very low-maintenance pets. They don’t need even a tenth as much attention and training as dogs do.

I like the idea of getting a cat, one day, many, many years from now. I am not half as interested in cats as I am in dogs, but I think I would like to have one around. Mainly because they make any room in your house look more interesting and glamorous.

To conclude, a photo of the only cat I’ve ever loved: Kitteh.

Kitteh and me in Denver. Source: Grace Farson

Kitteh was my landlords’ cat when I was living in Denver for a summer. Her official name was Kitty, but I found that dull, so she became Kitteh. (Apparently, her people now call her that full time. I am proud.) Kitteh was very docile and affectionate. She slept in my bed with me on the downstairs floor, climbed on my stomach while I was reading, was generally totally wonderful and soothing. If I could get a cat exactly like her, I would.

cat nap
Oh, Kitteh. I love and miss you. Source: Me

Monday Snax

Mama and baby
A perfect dinner out at Blue Mountain Brewery. Baby Leah is trying to decide what kind of beer she wants.
MB!
The tenacious Mary Boyce saved us from a perilously grumpy waitress.
Guion and baby Leah
Guion is undeniably good with babies.

We had a beautiful weekend in Charlottesville; the weather was exquisite, as the humidity had fairly retreated and we were left with idyllic warmth. Paul and Christie invited us on their Friday date night and a small group of us went to Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton (a few photos above; more on Flickr). We went to a church potluck and then we hosted a potluck of our own last night. It was all very wonderful.

Win and Tracy were visiting with the purpose of scouting out a place for Win to live in a few weeks. By the grace of God, Win is living in probably the coolest house we’ve ever seen in town: the Massie-Wills historical home, built in 1830. It’s amazing. He is one lucky dude.

Potlucked Snax:

Pratt’s Ex Libris Collection. Well, of course I’m posting this (if I haven’t already…) The Pratt Library’s collection of gorgeous book plates. I wish people still used these things. I know I would. (Where the Lovely Things Are)

Weird Writing Habits of Famous Authors. I enjoyed reading about the habitual quirks of some of my all-time favorite writers, including Eudora Welty, Vladimir Nabokov, Flannery O’Connor, and T.S. Eliot. (Flavorwire)

Other People’s Houses. A collection of dreamy photographs from the domestic lives of some of today’s most beloved bloggers and photographers. Who doesn’t love a dash of beautiful voyeurism? (Other People’s Houses)

Jennifer Egan Fever. It’s worth catching. (The Paris Review)

South Sudan: The Newest Nation in the World. A series of powerful photographs from the birth of South Sudan. Welcome, South Sudan; we wish you great peace. (The Atlantic: In Focus)

Iceland, Part 10: Blue Lagoon. I know I just keep posting Kris Atomic’s photos of Iceland, but I can’t help it! This place looks so otherworldly. I must go. (Kris Atomic)

Kimono. A collection of gorgeous, modern-looking kimonos from 1920s-1930s Japan. (Anne Louise Likes)

Wasabi Wonder. More from Japan: Ever wanted to know what wasabi looks like in real life, i.e., coming straight out of the ground? Take a look! It’s such a fascinating and weird plant. I bet that friendly-looking farmer just reeks of wasabi all day long. But what a gorgeous place to farm! (Tokyo Photojournalist)

Paper & Kyoto: Shops to Visit. Even more from Japan: Uuugh. This post just confirms what I already ardently believe: That I have to get to Kyoto soon and that the Japanese create the world’s most beautiful stationery and paper products. (Upon a Fold)

Intricate Pattern Notecards from Wild Ink Press. So beautiful! I always feel like I need more stationery, even though it’s almost never true. I also love the “literal” cards at the bottom of the post. (Oh So Beautiful Paper)

The Supermom Myth + Follow Up on Breadwinners. An additional post from Jenna of Sweet Fine Day, just because I always like what she writes and I think she’s a wise, judicious woman. (Sweet Fine Day)

Five Women Who Changed the Face of Ballet. I loved reading about these dancers, mainly because I’m gearing up to read Jennifer Homans’ widely acclaimed Apollo’s Angels. (Behind Ballet)

Sarah Palin for Newsweek. Noted photographer Emily Shur talks about her casual cover shoot of Sarah Palin for Newsweek. Shur really humanized Palin for me in a way that the “liberal media” have not. It’s an interesting little vignette, at least. (Emily Shur)

Dear Mom. Catching bunnies snuggling together? The best thing ever. Guion, I think you should know that even though I’m obsessed with getting a dog, I’m also still obsessed with getting a bunny. Or three. (Maura Grace)

How Handwriting Builds Character. If this is true, I must have really well-built character. Kidding! (The Atlantic)

Megegan: Un an plus tard. What a beautiful woman. And I’m so very interested in the things that she happens to be carrying around with her. (Au coin de ma rue)

On the Street: Via Fogazzaro, Milan. This looks like a still from a film I’d really want to watch. (The Sartorialist)

Women’s Magazines Are Obviously Horrible. This is true and hilarious, but I still really love reading In Style and People on the beach… (The Hairpin)

Instant Cat Pants! Why do kittens do the things they do? We may never know. (Pawesome)

The Lost Roles of “Arrested Development.” Rainn Wilson as Gob Bluth?? Can you imagine it? I certainly can’t. I love Rainn, but let us all say thanks that we were gifted by the glorious presence of Will Arnett. (The Bluth Company)

Tuesday snax

Crazy, long, fun weekend. I even posted a few pictures on Flickr to demonstrate. We did so much this weekend: had Kelsey and Alex stay with us, threw the Belmontonia bash with our neighbors, met the nicest cop ever after setting off fireworks, went hiking on Humpback Rock, had a dinner party at the Blue House, watched “There Will Be Blood” and finished “Daniel Deronda.” Very full, very fun.

Also, for the curious, I have posted a new portfolio page on my calligraphy site from the job I just finished.

And now, for your special edition of Tuesday snax! A big dose. Apparently, there was a lot of really great stuff on the web this week.

Man Already Knows Everything He Needs to Know About Muslims. Funny, but also sad, because it’s true of so many. Probably myself included. We need to be challenged to higher levels of knowledge about others. (The Onion)

It’s Time to Play “Bush, Obama, or Imam?” In a similar vein… (The Daily Intel)

You and Everything You Own. Beautiful and stark photographs, especially the ones from China. Amazing, too. In my consumerist-American mindset, I look at some of these pictures and marvel: How on earth do they live with only those possessions? And then, What would my stuff look like in front of our house? And finally, What a huge pain for those families. (Mint)

Missed Connections. I hope Jonathan reads here occasionally, because he will just love this. Illustrator Sophie Blackall creates paintings from the “missed connections” section of Craigslist. Beautiful, haunting, sometimes creepy–as missed connections tend to be! (Modish)

“Paradactyl Kittens.” Hilarious. I love the mash-up graphic, too.  (You Suck at Craigslist)

The Impossibly Glamorous Black Fawn! Teehee. I don’t know why this is so funny to me, but it is. (Cute Overload)

Not-so-sweet somethings. These dogs hate their lives so much. (Blue Bird Official Vintage Blog)

Disney Releases Poster for Secretariat-Biscuit. Haha. Seriously! Step it up, Hollywood. (Best Week Ever)

Diva. “Someone did not get the Cheerios she had written into her contract for photo shoots…” Yes, it’s a blog about a mom in Utah, but it’s probably one of the best on the whole world wide Interwebs. I’ve been following Heather Armstrong and family for two years now, and I just love them more than ever.  (Dooce)

Kisses and Pigtails. So cute! The blog Like Mom, Like Dad lets people send in photos of themselves (and, possibly, their own children) imitating photos of themselves with their parents. This is one of my favorites I’ve seen. (Like Mom, Like Dad)

Un Petit Tour Chez Zid Zid Kids. Um, can I live here with these French kids? (Les Zigouis)

Looks Like Books Are Coming to an End. Aw, come on now, Harper Lee! Cheer up, some! (Letters of Note)

Ways Christians Have Messed Up with Sex. I think this is a really sincere and true perspective on the ways many of us Christians have distorted and perverted God’s message on sex. His point that “we write 10 books about lust for every one on sex” was also very resonant. (Stuff Christians Like)