pameladean: (Default)
"Random Jottings" has a particular literary source, but it's been so long that I cannot recall what that source is.

I think I've finally sorted out the cross-posting to LJ, but I guess we'll see. I assume that it will work perfectly now that LJ has finally gone off the rails for good and I should probably consider not posting there any more. I'll do a separate post asking people to tell me if they plan to stay on LJ and post there, because I don't like losing track of people even though I make it easy to lose track of myself.

I've been trying to be more active on DreamWidth/LiveJournal, but what this has resulted in has been my commenting lavishly and then having a very hard time responding to the responses even though I'm delighted to get them. I doubt anybody is feeling neglected or snubbed, but if you are I apologize; and even if you aren't I will try to do better.

The rest of this post is an International Bad Cat Day post involving tulips, followed by a section about the Guthrie Theater's recent production of King Lear.


Last week I got on a bus and took a large thick envelope of receipts and statements and forms to the accountants' office. I'm not sure when we last got the current year's taxes done by April 15, though we have managed to file an extension and get things done by August 15 a time or two in the last never-mind how-many years. I'm suddenly feeling much more chipper; I hadn't realized what a horrible burden having the undone taxes looming over me was, and yet doing them is such a nightmare. Tax law has no understanding at all of how self-employment works, and doesn't care either. Tax law secretly feels that if you get your money in large lumps rather than in increments week by week or month by month, you are somehow duplicitous, lazy, or both; or else just generally trying to get away with something. It hates me and mine and I hate it back passionately.

When I left, Raphael asked if I knew when I'd be home. I had no idea and was a bit short with R because I was about to miss my bus. (I did, in fact, miss it, but the next one was early, and it wasn't very cold out.) I sent a text once I knew when I was likely to be back, wondering a little, since I wasn't making dinner and we didn't have any firm plans for anything. R texted back that zie had gone for a short walk and might or might not beat me home. I got home first. When Raphael got home I eventually wandered through the kitchen to find her putting white and purple tulips in a Portmeirion vase. "It's a Saffron vase," said Raphael, and indeed the image on the vase was of meadow saffron (a kind of autumn crocus). We have the dinner plate but I hadn't realized that there was a vase as well. The vase was an early anniversary present and the tulips were for getting the taxes done. The overflow went into a Portmeirion mug (with sweet peas on the side) with a broken handle, and the vase spent the afternoon in my office on a high bookshelf, faintly scenting the room with tulip.

But at some point Saffron herself evidenced a strong desire to get up on the bookcase with the tulips. You could see her cat-brain doing the math. Can I jump up from this vantage point? No, not enough room to land. What about from the lower bookcase under the air conditioner? No, can't see properly. What about from the top of the air conditioner? That's better but some monkey has put a paper bag up there on my occasional landing spot. Pause. BUT TULIPS! What about this part of the pile of boxes of author copies and very old files apparently put here just for the convenience of cats? No, not actually convenient to cats. Scaling the lower shelves? No, too many useless bits of decoration and books stuck in sideways for lack of room. She had been allowed to sniff and examine the flowers before they were put in the vase, but she still seemed very determined, so I removed the tulips to my bedroom for the moment.

I was reading peacefully in my bedroom much later when she started the same set of calculations in there, ultimately making it through quite a number of random objects without knocking any of them down, until she was a foot or so from the vase. I removed it and put it on the front stairs. This was useful insofar as it's cold on those stairs, which preserved the tulips nicely. I let Saffron sniff them again before I took them away, but whatever she wanted with them, it wasn't that. When I brought the tulips back up at the end of a busy weekend, and on every day that I had them in my office, she did her mathematics at some point, but by then I was persuaded that she probably couldn't actually get up on that bookcase and was too smart to try and fail.

In late March, Eric and I went to see the Guthrie's performance of King Lear. I meant to write it up immediately so that local people would still have a chance to see it. The Guthrie had not done Lear in twenty years. Raphael and I went to that 1996 production, which was excellent; my main memory of it at this remove is Isabel Monk's tremendous, hilarious, moving performance as the Fool. I mentioned it to Raphael when I was talking about the recent production, and Raphael reminded me that Isabel Monk was so much more robust than Lear in that production that it transformed the entire nature of their relationship.

In this production, the Fool was played by Armin Shimerman. I gazed and gazed at that name and at the photo of the actor, which was not familiar. I was only clued in by the conversation of the people next to us. All of you are no doubt jumping up and down to tell me that Mr. Shimerman played Quark on "Deep Space Nine" and later, Principal Schneider on "Buffy." Lear was played by Stephen Yoakum, who long ago was Henry Bolingbroke in Garland Wright's production of the History Plays, which I saw at least four times, most of them on day-tickets. It was in that line that I overheard a bunch of late-adolescent girls fangirling Henry V. Not Kenneth Branagh, whose movie had come out recently; and not the actor who played Henry -- Henry himself. It was awesome, as was that whole run of plays. They did Richard II; a very long and deeply distressing adaptation of both parts of Henry IV; and Henry V.

I didn't recognize Mr. Yoakum, but I recognized his voice at once in the first scene.

It almost always takes a few minutes to settle into Shakespeare's language, and while that was happening I looked over all the characters who were on stage at the beginning and suddenly recalled the scene from the third season of "Slings and Arrows" in which Charles Kingman, meeting the rest of the cast in a production for which he had been invited to play Lear, asks the woman playing Cordelia how much she weighs and reacts very rudely to her answer of 107 pounds. This Lear would not have needed to do that even if he had been twice as rude a person: Yoakum's Lear is physically robust even as his mind breaks and breaks again into smaller bits.

Cordelia and Goneril both also had very robust physical presences. Goneril was tall and Cordelia was just very much present. Regan was more withdrawn and quiet, which made the later scene with Gloucester particularly horrible and creepy. I had forgotten how funny Goneril is; horribly funny, but funny. Another thing that struck me was that, when she has her first tantrum, she behaved and sounded really exactly like Lear just had when he flew into a rage at Cordelia and exiled her.

Edgar's first appearance was made with his hair falling into his eyes and a wineglass in his hand; he was clearly pie-eyed and may not have been completely sober until sometime after his transformation into a Bedlam boy. This made his complete cozening by Edmund more plausible than is sometimes the case. And of course it lighted up what's already present, his gaining clarity while feigning madness. Edmund was very well done; I had remembered that he is funny, but actors vary in how well they manage this, and this one did a very good job.

Armin Schimerman was an excellent Fool, much smaller than Lear but much more mentally present. The production also did something I don't remember seeing before. The Fool simply vanishes from the proceedings during the thunderstorm. At the end of the play Lear says, "And my poor fool is hanged," and there is, or was, much speculation about whether he means the actual Fool or is using a fond term for his daughter Cordelia. The parts were probably doubled originally, which explains the Fool's disappearance so that Cordelia can reappear from her exile, but it's still very weird how the Fool just falls silent. When Isabel Monk played the part, she deliberately withdrew and turned her back on the entire situation, wracked with many feelings. In this production, as Lear's mind breaks down, he stabs and kills the Fool without knowing it, to the horror of Kent and Edgar.

I was sad that they cut so much of Edgar's speech when he's persuading his father that they are standing at the edge of the cliffs of Dover when really he's been leading Gloucester in circles, but the scene was very affecting anyway. And they did leave in the bit during the torture of Gloucester where the one servant objects to what is being done and is killed for his pity. C.S. Lewis has said somewhere that while that is a very small part, it's the part he would want to play in actual life.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
The vegetarian portion of the household gets the majority of its groceries from Coborns' Delivers. We have been doing this since Coborns' was Simon's. Before that I went out on the bus to shop, but after one strenuous exertion to get everything into the house, I actually weighed the groceries to see if they were really heavy or if I was just whiny. Ninety pounds. All right, then.

In any case, I went out onto the porch to get the groceries in on Monday afternoon, and when I opened the first tote I thought they had given us the wrong order (this has happened once in about a decade) or at least one tote from somebody else's order (this has also happened just once, resulting in the contribution to the downstairs of a collection of strange but sometimes delectable foods like frozen waffles, breakfast sausages, and some kind of strange roll). The top item was a plastic box of blueberry mini-muffins, with a sticker on it saying "Oops! We were out of the item you ordered and substituted this." I had not ordered anything for which a box of mini-muffins could be considered a substitute. I checked the packing list, which did mention that they had not delivered or charged me for a yellow bell pepper because they were out. This was fine; they'd been having a sale on red, yellow, and orange bell peppers and I'd gotten some of each on principle, not because I must have a yellow bell pepper. But obviously one does not substitute blueberry muffins for bell peppers of any color. I brought things in and put them away and checked the website to see if I had mistakenly ordered some kind of pastry, but of course the printed list was just taken from the website and there were no pastries thereon.

I put the package on top of the dishwasher and went to consult Raphael, who allowed as how it would be interesting to at least try a muffin before I offered them to the more omnivorous downstairs people. (We know from experience that we get to keep what is delivered in error, whether we want it or not.) I ended up eating one myself -- it was all right, but I prefer more blueberries in my blueberry muffins.

The cats had been having a hungry day, beginning with fussing at me from seven in the morning on and going right through to demanding food at hours they are not fed and being everlasting nuisances any time I was trying to eat something or even just stepped into the kitchen. I did give them extra treats, but the treats don't have many calories and were evidently insufficient. They get a quarter can of wet food each at around nine in the evening, and were in full-on trompling mode, walking on the laptop keyboard and chewing on the edge of the screen and knocking things off my desk, til I went into my bedroom and read a Sue Grafton book, which provided less scope for demonstrations. Saffron did steal the bookmark and murder it, but she may do that even when not hungry. When it was time I gave them the wet food, which did not prevent their sitting upright and intrigued on either side of the computer while I ate the late dinner that Raphael had produced. This dinner was actually vegan, but they wanted it anyway.

They followed me into the kitchen when I took my empty plate in, so I rinsed it carefully and put it in a stack of others. They didn't come back to the office with me, but shortly I heard an alarming crackly slam, as of a breakable object hitting the floor, followed by a series of exclamations from Raphael. I ran in and was asked to "CORRAL THEM" so that Raphael could pick up the mess. I was fearing broken glass, but evidently a plastic tray full of blueberry muffins makes quite a racket on a wood floor. I put Cassie through the door into the cat-sitting room, but she went back into the kitchen while I was securing Saffron. A second try netted me Cass while Saffron prudently retired to the top of the cat tree and looked innocent, so I shut the door on them. Four muffins were still in the box, so we kept those and Raphael put the rest, in various stages of disintegration, into the organics recycling, peeling off the paper cups where they had not already been savaged by cat teeth. R's primary concern had been that Cassie, after giving a muffin a killing shake, had been gnawing at the paper.

When things were cleared up I opened the door again and they both rushed in and cleaned every minute particle of muffin or paper from the floor.

They were of course entirely unrepentant, and once Raphael was over the worry that Cassie would bolt a lot of paper and then return it in a nastier form to the carpet, we had a good laugh over the killing shake. No muffin will ever harm us while Cass is around.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
When we adopted Saffron, the people who had been fostering her brought her over to our house so she'd know that they thought we were okay. They were telling us about some of her quirks, and I asked if they had any tricks for getting her into the cat carrier. After a blank pause, one of the fosters said, "She usually just goes in." I assumed that this meant that if you picked the cat up and headed her into the carrier, she would feel that her dignity required going in meekly rather than struggling.

The first time we took her to the vet, I got out the carrier and put a fresh discarded T-shirt into it, and Raphael dusted it a bit. Cassie hid as soon as she heard the door squeak; Saffron came sauntering along to see what was up, and walked right into the carrier and lay down. It was much too early to go to the vet, and she eventually got out again, but when it was time to corral her, she was back in the carrier and all I had to do was to shut the door. Every time we've taken her to the vet, she's just gotten into the carrier on her own. She doesn't like the vet and is an uncooperative patient, but the carrier is awesome.

Today Cassie was due for shots, so Raphael got out her carrier and dusted it and put a nice thick sweater in the bottom. Cass tends to hide at first, but eventually get over herself -- after all, the carrier might be for Saffron. I had just gotten home from looking after Toliman when Raphael arrived in a rush from a trip to the post office, checked the time, and in a few minutes scooped up Cassie and took her to the carrier. Saffron appeared from nowhere and walked into the carrier just ahead of Raphael's attempt to put Cassie in. I ran out of my office and tried to dump her out, but she wouldn't go, instead retreating to the back of the carrier. I tried to pull her out on the sweater, but she removed herself from it. Cassie does not like to be picked up or held, does not like the carrier, and does not like the vet, so she was struggling a lot. I finally got Saffron to come out, probably because she didn't like the fuss in her place of rest; and she ran off with a kind of flounce of her shoulders, only to return ten seconds later, talking furiously and demanding treats, which we had decided to postpone til Cass was back from the vet.

She forgave us for being weird, but she certainly had no idea that she was doing anything untoward.

Once we had Cassie where she belonged, we started to laugh, and I suggested that Raphael could either have taken both cats to the vet, or taken Saffron "because this is the one I could catch."

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
Saffron is prone to inflammation of the gums, so she eats a prescription diet called TD, which is in large hard pieces that have to be crunched up, not bolted whole as is the feline way. She got the hang of it quite quickly. Cassie eats a different food. They each get a small handful of Greenies dental treats every afternoon. These are also hard and crunchy and need to be chewed. Cassie can bolt them whole if she tries and then eject them in a far more repulsive state, so she gets hers fed to her one at a time. If I'm home, I give the treats to the cats. If I'm not, Raphael gives the treats to them. This situation exists because they are more effective at bothering me as treat time approaches. Yesterday afternoon I was at the MinnStf pool party, so Raphael provided the treats to cats.

For complex historical reasons, Saffron gets her evening food at the foot of my bed, while Cass is shut up in another room lest she eat faster and then come steal the remainder of Saffron's food. So last night I turned off the light to the sound of crunching. At some point Saf leapt from the bed and ran off into the kitchen. She's easily distracted, though it's more common in warmer weather when the windows are open and she can, apparently, hear a rabbit hop through the back yard. It does sometimes seem that she can also hear a spider moving across the kitchen floor. I started to drift off to sleep, and then heard more crunching as, I thought, she finished her food. Then she came and burrowed under the quilt and purred madly and kneaded my arm and we went to sleep.

At six a.m., I came slowly and reluctantly awake to the sound of crunching. Had Saffron actually left some of her dinner for a sunrise snack? No. The plate was empty. The crunching turned to rustling, then to crunching again. I got blearily out of bed, found my keychain with its flashlight, and looked around. Saffron had kindly left her tail sticking out from under the bed. She had a badly-mauled bag of treats and was fishing them out one by one and eating them. I took it away from her, and after wandering around for a few moments, stuck it into a cupboard with a door and went back to bed. For some sleep-befuddled reason, putting it back in the cupboard where it belonged didn't appeal to me because it had cat spit on it. A few last crunches came from under the bed, but then she came back and got very purry with me.

At ten a.m., I was once again awakened by crunching, though no rustling. Raphael had let Cassie out at some point, and both cats were under the bed chasing down the last few treats. There did not seem much point in trying to take the scattered treats away from them. At least the treats were meant to be eaten by cats. This has not always been the case with things I have heard them eating.

They were still quite keen for their breakfast an hour later. Raphael said zie must have failed to put the treat bag away -- it's a bit tricky hand-feeding Cassie and making sure Saffron gets a roughly equal number of treats and doesn't end up taking Cassie's away from her. Their internal protocol seems to be that Cassie gets dibs on food, including Saffron's, but Saf gets dibs on all treats, including Cassie's. I had left the bag out myself just a few days ago, when the phone rang as I was giving them their last couple, but they hadn't yet found the bag when I came to my senses and put it back in the cupboard.

This entire adventure was punctuated, once the sun came up, by the tweeting and squawking of the house sparrows that often nest under my window air conditioner, and by the much less welcome rattle and grind of yet another squirrel trying to chew through the accordions so it could make a nest in the spot between the air conditioner and the edge of the window. The previous air conditioner had been installed with much more room on the left than on the right, and we had hoped that putting the new one in the middle and avoiding the creation of a large space would discourage such activity. Sadly, squirrels trying to make a nest in such a spot mostly seem to be young ones, and they have no sense at all.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
First! The ebook version of Points of Departure, Pat Wrede's and my collection of all our original Liavek stories plus a new story by Pat and a new collaboration by both of us, telling the often-crossing stories of Granny Carry and the Benedicti family, is on sale for $2.99 from the following vendors:

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/zppqh9d

ibooks: http://tinyurl.com/jpca42t

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/jr7adpw

Paperback copies vary wildly in price, but I always encourage people to support their local independent bookstore if they are lucky enough to have one.

Second!

This is what actually impelled me to post. You may recall a cat-related saga earlier in the year when I lost most of our 2014 tax information and then rediscovered it. I'm afraid that I did not, in gratitude, immediately finish preparing the taxes. Sadly, I finished preparing the taxes the week before Thanksgiving, impelled by the realization that one is not eligible to apply for health insurance subsidies on the individual market if one has not filed one's taxes, but upheld by the knowledge that our accountants just last year went to all-electronic filing, so that once things were done the filing part would be instantaneous.

Well, it would have been, but, not really amazingly, there's a deadline for e-filing, and it's in October. So yesterday, after a horrified look at the calendar and a quick call to the accountant's office, I waylaid David as he was heading innocently out the door to take a thumb drive containing a concert video to friends. We went to the accountants' office and had a nice chat with the accountant while the taxes were being photocopied. Then we went to the nearest post office, helpfully pointed out by the accountant's getting me to stand behind a plant in a far corner of his office and peer out the window. We signed the taxes in the car and then, having stood in line for a while, I paid various amounts of money to get the tax forms to St. Paul and Fresno as quickly as possible.

I want to pause to extol the extreme kindness, sympathy, knowledegability, and helpfulness of the Post Office employees, not only to me, but to the many equally infuriating people ahead of me in line who didn't know what they wanted, complained when it cost money, had not packed up their boxes adequately or had forgotten the slips for the packages they wanted to pick up. Every single one of those Post Office employees deserves to be paid twice as much as they get, whatever it is.

Then we took the thumb drive along to our friends and had a lovely chat with them as well.

I was figuring that I would not be able to sign up for health insurance in time to get coverage by January 1, and would need to get some kind of interim coverage for that month. However, I got an email this morning saying that MNSure had extended the deadline to December 28th, which provides a much better chance that things will work out.

Third.

Thanksgiving went off pretty well, given how many people we had and the curious attrition that had occurred in our supply of dishes and flatware. David and I had Lund's sushi for lunch; the rice had suffered in storage, but it was still tasty and prevented sudden blood-sugar drops later on. I did not manage to make my small casserole, which is just as well, because the new-to-me mock cheese I'd been planning to use is really not up to snuff and would not have worked properly. I did make the roasted vegetables, and they were delicious. My youngest brother was a delight, and did cook the salmon for non-eaters of turkey. He called up recipes on his phone, and when informed sadly that no, we did not actually have any parsley or almonds, he just kept looking until he lit upon a reduction of mustard and balsamic vinegar with garlic and olive oil, which was so tasty that my other brother ate the extra salmon filet I'd had plans for. This continued a theme: [livejournal.com profile] arkuat had brought vinho verde because he knows that I like it, but I was too busy running around during the appetizer phase, and everybody else drank it all. Next year I am going to manage better.

My mother brought mashed potatoes, including a non-dairy version just for me; she also brought braised celery and leeks, which is about a dozen times as delicious as you think it will be, even if you think highly of the idea. [livejournal.com profile] fgh's cranberry sauce with ginger was excellent with salmon. Both her daughters came along this year, which was extremely pleasant, and they brought a very nice spread of appetizers. And my mother and local brother and I were very glad to see our youngest, even though he'd arrived at 2 am on Wednesday and was expecting the band's bus to collect him again around midnight on Thanksgiving. My family accordingly left around nine, and [livejournal.com profile] lydy kindly gave Eric a ride home so he wouldn't have to cope with the holiday bus schedule; but Felicia, Rachel, and Judy stuck around to keep us company while David carved the rest of the turkey and reduced the carcass into a form suitable for soup. The house smelled of turkey soup for the next day or two. I can't eat it, but it still smells lovely to me.

Fourth.

International Bad Cat Day, pastry version. So I went to a monthly gathering of fellow writers at a bakery that sometimes has olive-oil pastries flavored with orange and fennel. I don't know if there is egg in them, but they don't do me any harm, so there can't be much. They had the pastries, so I got half a dozen and ate one while socializing and drinking tea with all the lovely people. Then I met Eric for a date and gave him one. Then I gave Raphael one. The following day, I ate the fourth, and reminded Raphael that there were two left. We had a late dinner that night. If it's just the two of us, we often eat dinner in Raphael's office, with the door shut. My office has no door. If you eat where the cats can see you there are various behaviors that make finishing your food difficult, let alone reading or watching TV or even conversing while consuming it. So we had our dinner and watched whatever we were watching at that point (Dr. Who or Parks and Rec, probably). When we came out, it was time for the cats' own supper. Ordinarily the two of them pour into the office with the appearance of about a dozen, tails upright, voices proclaiming starvation.

No cats. "WHERE ARE THEY?" I said. "WHAT HAVE THEY DONE?"

There was no depredation in the kitchen. In my office, however, the brown paper bag containing the last two pastries -- which I had carefully set on a tall filing cabinet that Cassie couldn't get onto in one jump, and that I believed Saffron could not, less because of the height than because she couldn't get a good run or a good view of the top first -- was on the office floor with the bottom torn out, and both cats were feasting on the pastries. Raphael took the bag away from them and then I cleaned up the crumbs, to much feline protest. They had had quite enough to be going on with. Next time I am just eating everything at once. Possibly with some nice vinho verde.

I wish I had five things, but I don't seem to.

I wish you light in this season of darkness.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
No, nobody has been ordering junky cat food or $500 cat furniture on the internet.

Yesterday the basement floor drain backed up. Not very much, but experience has taught us that this kind of thing does not get better on its own. I accordingly went to Roto-Rooter's website and scheduled an appointment for this afternoon. This meant that I had to set an alarm and get up an hour or so earlier than I usually do. I have always hated waking up to an alarm; the initial sensation and its slow draining away are just nasty. I hated it when I was in high school, I hated it when I had day jobs, and I still hate it. I did get up, however, and gave the cats a somewhat early breakfast, and took my first medication and a shower. While I was wandering around my bedroom getting dressed, Saffron began her usual antics at that time of the morning -- clawing at the tape covering the air conditioner's accordion, clawing at the tape sealing a crack in the other window, and knocking things off my dresser. I'd always thought these behaviors were intended to elicit breakfast, but apparently they are just a morning vent for high spirits. I had picked up my cellphone to see if Roto-Rooter had called early, as technicians are wont to do, just as Saf knocked a pillbox, the tube of toothpaste the dentist always gives me, a small flashlight, and a map of Wild River State Park off the dresser and, fortunately, into the open underwear drawer.

I put down the cellphone, removed Saffron from the dresser, and put the objects back.

Saffron, who is very good-natured about having her pursuits interrupted, unless they involve moths or squirrels, settled down on a stack of storage tubs that I had put a folded quilt down on a few days earlier. I had put the quilt there because, having washed it, I realized there was nowhere to store it. But in Saffron's opinion I had made her a nice bed just at squirrel-watching level.

After I was dressed, I put keys and wallet into my pocket and looked for the phone. No phone. I checked to see if I'd wandered into my office and put it on the charger. No. I finally picked up the landline phone in my bedroom, and called my cell. I didn't want to wake Raphael, so I only let it ring once. It was definitely in my bedroom. But I still couldn't find it. At last I called it again and just let it ring. It was in the bedroom. It was vibrating as well as ringing, but the sound was muffled. I followed it to the apparent source near the dresser. No phone.

Saffron was folded sedately onto the quilt with all her feet tucked up. She looked at me with mild interest as I bent closer and closer to her in pursuit of my phone. Had it fallen into the wastebasket? Slid under the radiator?

No. It was under the cat. I pulled it out from beneath her belly, Saffron regarding me with the utmost benignity the entire time, and put it firmly into my pocket.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
We got an extension on filing our taxes this year. I had very good intentions of dealing with them much sooner than now, but didn't get to actually sorting papers and finding vital information until last week. I ended up with seven or eight file folders with stuff in them, a brown paper bag of papers for recycling, and an as-yet-unsorted mass, mostly of medical information, but with a leavening of charitable contributions and so on. I put the file folders, with all the W2 and other income forms, and the sorted household expenses and rental income information, back into the brown paper bag that said 2014 TAXES in large friendly letters, and then just slid the folders with sorted stuff in them down one side of the bag. I left the recycling in my bedroom, where I had been using the bed for sorting because my desk is a horror show; and I brought the bag of actual tax information, sorted and not, back into my office, because I was still discovering random credit-card statements and receipts for prescription medication and technicians' invoices for fixing dishwashers, and so on. Then I spent about a week and a half avoiding more sorting, though the deadline is approaching pretty quickly. At some point in this interval, I took out several brown paper bags of papers for recycling, labeled RECYCLING in large friendly letters.

Do not lecture me about this system. I know it is stupid. However, it has got me through catching up on *mumble* years of late taxes. Let me tell you, a brown paper bag for the year in question is a huge improvement over my previous method, which I don't intend to discuss because nobody could refrain from lecturing me about that one.

This afternoon, the internet went down. Well, I thought, I guess I'll sort some more of that stuff for taxes, and maybe get all the utility bills entered properly, because that's very tedious and I won't do it if I can do something more interesting. I picked up the brown paper bag from the location where I had left the one that said 2014 TAXES in large friendly letters. It said 2015 TAXES in letters superficially just as large but noticeably less friendly.

There are really too many brown paper bags in my office. It is okay, in my opinion, and do not start on me because I will not listen to you, to have bags of both useful paper and recycling. However, having the lovely shimmery moon and stars mobile that Eileen gave us as a housewarming present, which we recently had to take off the library light fixture but hope to hang elsewhere, in a brown paper bag is confusing; and having extra copies of the reissued Secret Country trilogy in a brown paper bag is confusing, and having a bag of brown sugar, a lidless refrigerator dish and a recipe for scones in a brown paper bag is DEEPLY CONFUSING. It's also less than helpful to have bags saying 2009 NON-TAX. They raise hope only to squash it flat again.

I spent a short time whimpering and emptying out bags of recycling. Then I thought, okay, I really do not think that that is the mistake that I made. I always read the bag and go through it before I recycle it. Always. Because I know my system is stupid.

I looked through every brown paper bag in the upstairs. We also have cat toys in paper bags. And sometimes actual cats.

I searched around and discovered that the IRS, grudgingly, has a way to get you a replacement copy of your W2 or other tax form, but it takes a long time. They prefer you to remember everything you need to about your employment, or have actual pay stubs, which seem to be going out of fashion quite fast, and reconstruct an estimate of your income and file that instead. I really didn't want to do that. One can also apply to the employers in question; how long that takes will of course vary with employer. I made about $26 in royalties last year, and the other income was made by David, with at least three different employers.

I decided to sleep on it, since I did not actually believe I had taken all the tax information and recycled it. Then I would have to email the accountants and hope that they would not also recommend the reconstruction of the income stream, not to mention the household expenses. At least the rental income is consistent, and one can get copies of bank and credit-card statements from the respective providers, though they tend to cut off abruptly at the date you want and demand compensation for sending you anything. Still, it could be done, one way or another.

The internet came back up. I started making vegan jambalaya. (NO, really, stop it. Nobody is making you eat it.) I went into my office, and Saffron was sprawled on the desk cushion. I reached out to rub her belly, and my brain said to me, "File drawer." I looked in the empty file drawer. Yes, yes, yes, it's empty because everything is in brown paper bags. It was not empty. In it was my bag with the folders and the unsorted receipts and statements, with 2014 TAXES in large friendly letters.

I now recalled quite clearly that Saffron had kept pawing at the bag of tax papers until it fell onto the floor, whereupon Cassie licked some of the bank statements. I have no idea; they were not visibly stained, nor did anything in the bag smell of anything but paper and dust. After three iterations of this behavior, I put the bag in the file drawer. Then, while procrastinating, I forgot all about it.

But now there is vegan jambalaya simmering on the stove, and it seems possible that sorting the damn papers won't be so tedious. At least they are there to be sorted.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I don't always sleep very well. Last night was pretty good to start with. I went to bed around 1:30, petted the purring, kneading, face-patting, wrist-licking, belly-showing Saffron, and was asleep before I looked at the clock to see how long it was taking me to go to sleep. I woke up at six and used the bathroom and actually got back to sleep rather than lying awake worrying about things I can't do much about. Into this unusual sleep, after two and a half hours, came a strong sound of music. I sat up groggily. Saffron was sitting on a stack of storage tubs, swiveling her head around and looking inquisitive. Cassie was sitting in the middle of the bed with her ears back. It was a rather pleasant piece for violin and flute, and I thought that under other circumstances I might recognize it. I got up and went into Raphael's office, since that was, I believed, the closest possible source of music. All was dark and quiet there, however. Both cats followed me, campaigning for breakfast.

I went back into my room and there was the music. I finally remembered that the clock on top of the dresser, which Raphael and I got long ago either in Arizona or in Bemidji, I can't recall, because we needed better weather reports than the Weather Channel could provide when we were planning on being outside all day hiking, actually has a regular radio in it as well. The button that turns on the weather radio is on top, and Saffron has stepped on it before. But I did not awaken to the automated voice describing the weather. I hit the button, and there was the weather radio. When I hit it again there was supposed to be silence, but the music came back. I finally had to turn the volume down all the way because I could not figure out what Saffron had done. The time-setting controls and the weather radio button are on the top of the clock, but everything else is on the sides. She might have been sharpening her face on the sides, I suppose.

I didn't feed the cats, partly because it was only 8:30, but mostly because I didn't want to encourage whatever it was she had done. I wouldn't put it past her to remember what it was.

In other news, we got the final digital files for Points of Departure from the publisher, and I'm going over my stories looking for errors. There is an error spreadsheet one is supposed to use to locate and describe what should be corrected. I had to ask the nice person in Production how to use it, but it's simple enough.

By this time I am extremely tired of "The Green Cat." It being the oldest of the stories, the digital version had not survived translation from format to format and repeated backups, so I ended up typing it all in again not really that long ago. I was a little impatient with "Two Houses in Saltigos" too, but am both pleased and abashed to admit that "Paint the Meadows With Delight" still makes me laugh, even though I wrote it. Then again, Silvertop is not my character, but Emma's; so perhaps that explains it.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Saffron has been feeling her oats lately. She has escaped down the front stairs to the cat-free zone several times, though she is very good at letting me pick her up and take her back upstairs, only turning her head upside down to look at me quizzically. She is a large and somewhat unwieldy cat, so she could make a lot more trouble if she liked.

Well, she does like, but struggling to make me put her down isn't one of her methods.

On the Eve of International Bad Cat Day, this iteration, I heard a clatter from the kitchen that did not belong there in the absence of humans. I went in to find Casssie and Saffron both sniffing at the sink drainer, which was on the floor. Very obsessive readers may recall that when I was making pies for Thanksgiving, Raphael and I found the sink drainer stranded in the middle of the kitchen floor. Cassie seldom jumps that high, so I assume that Saffron fished the drainer out and dropped it on the floor for reasons of her own.

This evening, as we often do on a Friday, Raphael and I ordered Chinese food. The restaurant had packed the dishes in the reverse of the usual order; the appetizers were on the bottom. We usually get shrimp in garlic sauce, the sauce of which is very viscous, clingy, and insinuating. It had already, from its position at the top of the stack of takeout dishes, leaked all over the inside of the bag and onto the other dishes and the packets of extra soy sauce and the fortune cookies in their wrappers. I ended up tearing the bag down one side to get at things without making quite such a mess. Then I rinsed some lids and Raphael wiped up some leaks, and we served ourselves. I then put the actual leftover food and rice into the refrigerator, but failed to realize that a torn bag with a lot of garlic sauce in it would be attractive to cats. When we came out of Raphael's office (where we retreat when we don't want cats marauding our food) with our empty plates, Raphael found the empty, torn wrapper of a fortune cookie on the floor of my bedroom, with the fortune lying nearby.

Having ascertained that none of the plastic seemed to have been eaten, Raphael picked up the fortune and burst out laughing. I took it and read, "Tomorrow you will find the item you have been searching for."

This struck us both as irresistibly funny. When we had stopped laughing, Raphael said, "I wonder which of them ate it."

"I would bet on Cassie," I said, "but I wouldn't bet much."

There was no question of who had taken the cookie out of the bag. That would be Saffron.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
This morning I was sitting peacefully at my desk with a cup of tea that mercifully does not figure further in this anecdote, and an old Portmeirion plate with a faded image of a cactus on it that was given us by David's mother when she went into assisted living. On the plate was half a toasted bagel with peanut butter and the other half of the same bagel with chevre spread on it.

Enter Cassie, whiskers aquiver, trills spilling out of her. She is not interested in peanut butter, but goat cheese rivets her. I gave up eating and went to put my plate up on the four-drawer filing cabinet. Cats can get up there, but I have warning when they are going to try, and Cass can't really jump that high. Typically, if I put food up there, she understands that it is no longer available to her, and leaves. Unfortunately, there were a plate and a soup bowl from the night before still on the cabinet. I decided to take these dishes to the kitchen, and for some reason probably to do, now that I think of it, with not yet having drunk any of the tea that I said did not figure further in this anecdote, I balanced my bagel plate atop this short pile of dishes because I didn't want to leave it unattended in the office. I have two hands and could have just carried the bagel plate separately, but I did not.

Cassie, seeing that the goat cheese was about to leave her reach, plunged forward and planted her nose and both paws on the bagel plate, which flipped over and landed on the carpet with the other plate and the bowl on top of it. The cactus plate broke in two and the peanut butter and goat cheese mingled with the carpet. Raphael, hearing my cries, came and inquired, "Did Cassie do something?"

I asked that Cassie be removed. Her adoption page said that there wasn't a mean bone in her body, and this is true, but she had a bad kittenhood and does not like being restrained, so she kicked out and scratched Raphael's arm. Raphael put her in my bedroom and shut the door, then went to get a bandaid out of the linen cupboard for the cat wound. Saffron promptly jumped into the linen cupboard and had to be chastised.

"Is it International Bad Cat Day or something?" I asked.

"Why, yes," said Raphael, unwrapping the bandage, "December 5 is, by a huge coincidence, International Bad Cat Day. Amazingly, December 6th is also International Bad Cat Day."

"And December 4th?" I said suspiciously. "What about that?"

"Let me just check -- yes. Also International Bad Cat Day."

Just so you know.

Pamela

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