Monday, January 29, 2007


I have not written about the cats since they were kittens. I must tell you how Pearl is getting on now that she is almost two. Pearl is still perfect. She is petite and beautiful with delicate features and little tufts of hair at the tips of her large ears that make her look like a pixie. Her coat is slightly curly—wavy really—like an elegant 1920s hairdo. Some would say (actually have said) that she is standoffish and not very friendly, but to me she is perfectly independent. Not like Rex, who most categorize as outgoing and friendly and I categorize as pathologically needy. Pearl does have her odd habits, though. She licks paper. Obsessively licks paper. Rex licks me, which I find annoying, but Pearl prefers paper. I don't know why. And then while Rex will play and retrieve a ball, Pearl carries things. She methodically brings things up from my studio or the laundry closet and deposits them by the front door or on the stairs. It is a real drag to come home and find socks, underwear, and balls of yarn on the doormat. But I guess it beats finding dead and maimed vermin. I have filled many a basket with her nightly haul. At first I thought she was bringing "prey" to show me, but then it occurred to me that maybe it is kittens. Maybe she needs kittens. Maybe she needs something to lick and to carry. She is not fixed and she is very vocal about the fact that something is missing in her life.

And that brings me to her one flaw: her voice. Her attempts at attracting a mate, are, to my ears, repellent. She is like the silent movie actress in Singing in the Rain who is beautiful and elegant, but when the talkies come along, it turns out she has a terrible voice. Pearl, it seems, can only do whiny and loud. There is no persuasion, no finesse, only obnoxious demanding. Rex, the goofy one, has a modulated voice that can sound very charming and almost like he is talking. Pearl has just one horrible sound. Oh well.

A couple of weeks ago I was home working when she just would not let up. She would get right in my face and repeatedly let out her screechy meow. I was getting ready to go out and she redoubled her efforts. What was up? I thought I had just better check downstairs to see if there was some reason for her behavior. I looked, and sure enough, I had left the door to their litter box closed. Ooops. Okay, so I opened that and looked around some more to find that Rex had been shut in my studio the whole time too. So she may be loud and obnoxious, but she was right. I still think she is perfect.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More outdoor tips from last weekend’s paper

No Swimming: much of what you know about surviving an avalanche is wrong

Okay, and then there was this skiing piece—

Hucking yourself off your first cliff: jumping off cliffs takes a little practice but isn’t as hard as it may seem

Right, so we’ve got 72-hour marathons, running trails at night, surviving avalanches, and jumping off cliffs. Do any of these sound like good ideas to you? I didn't even write about the 53 year old man who free solos (that's rock climbing without ropes) 1,500 vertical feet every morning. He said the experience was "embiggening" which is right up there with "Danielesque" in my book. Such is life in Boulder. Can't wait to see what's suggested in next weekend's paper.

Nocturnal adventure

Yes, we have had quite a bit of snow. For the most part, it has been nice. Colorado snow is usually what snow should be: fluffy, white, and beautiful. Combine that with the warm temperatures that usually follow and lots of solar radiation, and for us, that means snow can be experienced in shirt sleeves and quickly melts off all the roads and pathways. We have not been too inconvenienced by the snow, but, because we’ve had so much, we did have a few days there of icky gray icy stuff. A few more inches of powder over the weekend took care of that. It’s above freezing and sunny again today.

So snow in Colorado I don’t mind so much. But the wind can be brutal. We regularly have 90mph winds in our neighborhood and those days are tough. Or maybe I should say nights, because the winds mostly happen at night, but can go on for days.

It was a week ago and we were in a bit of climactic shock after returning from our tropical vacation with Greg’s family. We were pleased that we were able to drive our car out of the park-and-ride (an uncovered lot with lots of new snow during the interval we were away)—just barely—without getting stuck in the snow for too long. The long day of travel, the snow, tired children, a frozen hatchback door, all conspired to somehow keep us from putting on socks. The snow and the close call getting stuck at the park-and-ride kept us from parking in our driveway, so we walked the last block to the house in flip flops with suitcases and sleeping children. That was a sight I am sure.

The next day we unpacked, moved back in, took down the holiday decorations to prepare for Kadin’s birthday, and hunkered down for the predicted windstorm, safe and cozy in the house. The storms are LOUD. When people say hurricanes sound like a freight train, they are right. Everyone has trouble sleeping on such nights. I am always a bit worried about what might blow away outside or what might blow into the house. Just after Greg and I got into bed and read for a bit, the power went out. So we went to sleep.

At about 2:30 in the morning, Kadin came up to say his leg hurt. I put him back to bed and remembered the visions I’d been having all night of the Christmas tree that I’d put out in front of the house blowing into the window like a javelin or breaking off some of the small new trees I’d planted out front. The snow was gusting up against the windows, the wind was roaring, and outside did not look fit for man or beast. I could see the Christmas tree lashing up against the new sumacs I’d planted. I’ll just do it, I thought, run out and move it to the back. It will only take a second and then I’ll sleep better.

So I put on a coat and shoes, unlocked the deadbolt and dashed out. Luckily it was not too cold and I quickly found a better spot to deposit the tree. Dashed back to the front door to find it…locked. I had forgotten about the lock on the knob. We usually don’t use that and it was dark so I didn’t see that it was locked. No big deal, I’ll go in through the garage. But the garage is electric and the electricity was still out. No dice. So that’s why the kids were sleeping without their night lights…. Okay, so another door. I mentally go through the other doors and know they are all locked as I had just checked them that evening and, since we’d been away, everything was double checked and tight. Fine, I’ll have to wake Greg up with the doorbell. Only—uh oh—no doorbell, that requires power too. It was LOUD with the wind/freight train. I tried knocking, to no avail. I pictured Greg sleeping soundly with five pillows stacked on his head to keep out the sound of the wind. I called and I knocked and the sound got sucked away as soon as it was made. At first I worried that I might wake the kids, then I hoped I would! I had plenty of time to think through options and I couldn’t think of any. Wake a neighbor and call? How could I wake a neighbor if I couldn’t wake Greg? Who would be up if the power was out? Finally I decided to trek around to the back of the house. There was a nice, bright moon. If it weren’t for the wind it would have been peaceful with the white snow and no electric lights. But then I felt very visible, like mountain lion bait. The trek was daunting in 2ft of snow, but luckily the snow had mostly blown away by then into big drifts in the field behind. When I called and knocked on the back, by Greg’s head, he heard me and came to the front door.

“What in the world are you doing out here????” he asked, incredulous, “Do you often walk around in the middle of the night?”

I explained the conspiracy of circumstances. So I survived the windstorm in the end and got back to sleep eventually. The next morning on the walk to school I noticed a strange square in the snow next to our neighbor’s house. Inside were toy dinosaurs and a plastic play fence. How odd that this little set up survived the snow and the wind. Something was missing, though. What used to be there? And then, about 50ft down the path, I saw their wooden sandbox smashed against some boulders. Another 20ft down the path was the awning for the sandbox that had turned into a sail. Whoa.