Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of year meme

I saw this over at Chessa's and thought I'd give it a try. You'll find some blog flashbacks in this post! I have to be honest with you, though: I think the quality of my writing was not that great earlier in the year, when I started blogging on a daily basis. I'm a much better blogger now.

Still, enjoy the trip in the Wayback Machine!

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
Wow...I did so much! I went to a national convention, for starters, campaigned for a presidential candidate, and blogged on a daily basis. I also went to a corn maze and performed in a talent show.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
A friend of mine has a saying: "May your troubles last as long as your resolutions." I did, however, make one resolution, one that I really hope will stick: I resolve to stop biting my nails.

I hope that this will stick, because my resolutions tend to last for very brief periods of time. I'm lucky if I get past the third week of January!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend's sister-in-law had a baby back in March...does that count? I have another friend who is due to give birth to a daughter in either January or February, and another one is due to give birth to twin boys in May.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no. There's been a lot of serious illnesses amongst my circle of friends, but fortunately, no death. Just a lot of bravery.

5. What countries did you visit?
The United States of America. The farthest I got from Connecticut this year was Washington, DC and four trips to NYC. They're both very international cities!

I also made several trips to Mohegan Sun, which is not considered to be on state land. I know, I'm stretching things a bit...

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
More time with family and friends. More time to read. More time to play. More time to just be.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
July 5th: Got to see Barack Obama speak.

November 4th - The world changed.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finally getting my butt to a great therapist in January and beginning a makeover of my spiritual, emotional, and mental well-being. This blog has helped quite a bit. I have really enjoyed all of the growth that I've made over the past year, and can finally say that I am a very happy, contented person.

It's an ongoing process, though, and it hasn't been easy. There have been a few stumbling blocks.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I don't want to dwell on the negative. Failure is just too strong a word.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I'm asthmatic and suffer from seasonal allergies. My mother calls me a human barometer. I'm never without my inhaler, Sudafed, or Kleenex.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My Kodak C813 Easy Share digital camera. I've been taking pictures like a fiend. Also, my new purple iPod Nano, the new generation. I can't be without my music. Ever.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My family and friends, without whose support over the last 12-15 months I would not have made it through a rocky period of my life.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The behavior of those who head the American auto industry, for gross mismanagement; those who head our federal government (1/20/09 can't come soon enough), executives at AIG; and Rod Blagojevich.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, bills, credit card payments, student loans (still--ick)...although I've done a lot better for myself now that I've finally been able to stick to a budget for the first time in my life.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Opportunities to travel locally, spend some time with friends, and meet lots of new people.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
Ooohhhh, sooooooooo many...Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" and Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" have been two recent standouts. Seriously, though, anything that's on my iPod playlists for this year will always remind me of 2008.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Happier, thinner, richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Scrapbook. Cross stitch. Anything crafty.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worry and fret.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Alas, no. One day, though, God willing. I'm in no rush. It'll happen when it's supposed to.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
I WANT DVR!!! I don't want it so badly, though, that I have to pay the extra $20 monthly fee for cable. I really don't have a favorite TV program...unless you count my DVD subscription to The Carol Burnett Show.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is a very strong word. I don't hate people. Life is too short for hating people.

24. What was the best book you read?
Oh God...I don't know what to choose! I really enjoyed A Town Like Paris and Almost Like Being in Love.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Country music has been a greater influence on my musical tastes this year than it ever has. I love Brad Paisley and Phil Vassar!

26. What did you want and get?
Personal satisfaction and contentment.

27. What did you want and not get?
Time. Especially time nurturing relationships.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I'm not a movie person at all. It's very hard for me to sit down for 90-120 straight minutes to watch a movie. I've been compiling a list, though, of certain films I do want to see in the new year. I need to broaden my horizons.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 32 on the third day of the third month. I really didn't celebrate my birthday at all this year, save for dinner with my family. I feel really funny throwing a party for myself, in my honor, the older I get.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More travel!

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Potential nominee for What Not to Wear. Seriously. After yesterday's trip to NYC, I've concluded that I will never have fashion sense. Every woman dresses nicely in New York! I looked like a shlub...and it's worse at work!

32. What kept you sane?
Reading, blogging, music.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Barack and Michelle Obama.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election. The financial crisis. The bailouts of the financial and auto industries. Sarah Palin's candidacy. Gay rights. I could go on and on.

35. Who did you miss?
This year, I really missed my maternal grandmother, who died when I was 9. I just felt a really strong connection/pull to her this year more than any other when she was alive...

36. Who was the best new person you met?
I've met a lot of wonderful people this year, both in real life and in the blogging community. It would not be fair for me to single out just one person.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
I'm with Chessa on this one: Things always have a way of working themselves out.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"So it goes like it goes
Like the river flows
And time it rolls right on
And maybe what's good gets a little bit better
And maybe what's bad gets gone."
--"It Goes Like It Goes," theme from Norma Rae

My one resolution...

I know that bloggers across the nation will be posting their resolutions publicly.

I refused, initially, to be one of those people, since my resolutions never last that long to begin with.

Last year I flirted with the idea of creating a blog called "52 Weeks, 52 Resolutions," where I would make a new resolution for every week of the year. It was too much pressure to come up with four, let alone 52.

But this year, there's one nasty habit I really want to break, and I'm going to mention it now:

This year, I resolve to stop abusing my fingernails.

I have very weak nails to begin with. They break, chip, shred, or peel once they get past my fingertips. I tend to pick them out of boredom or anxiety, which makes them much weaker.

This year, I want to put an end to that.

I don't want to grow them long enough to use colored nail polish; I gave up on that long ago. However, I would love to have a French manicure without having to use fake nails. (I've done this several times to prep for weddings).

I feel comfortable mentioning this, since in the last month, my blog has earned a steady following. (Thanks Jen, Yaya, Chessa, Dora, and NurseExec!) And I've gotten many more hits, too.

On the first of the month I'll post a photo of my hands and my nails, and will update you on the progress throughout the year.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Clip of the Week on hiatus

The Clip of the Week is on hiatus until further notice. Reason? Lame as it may seem, I just can't seem to find a good clip to share with you this week. Nothing's really grabbed my attention.

But, once I find something, it'll make an appearance here.

Until then, amuse yourselves with the archives...that is, providing that YouTube hasn't taken down the majority of my clips!

Sinus infection: 48 hours post-diagnosis

The antibiotics are kicking in, just like Evil Doc said they would. There are certain periods of the day when I'm able to breathe through both nostrils. That having been said, those periods are not consistent, more like five minutes here and there. If I could only get rid of the here and there part I'd be golden.

I called the pharmacist today and asked if I could take a decongestant along with the antibiotics. He said it was fine, and actually encouraged it. Yay! So I'm taking Sudafed along with the generic Augmentin, and it's working. I'm clearing a lot of the crap out.

Yeah, I know that's not a great image, but it was the best I could describe it without turning into Roseanne Rosannadanna.

In other words, I'm starting to feel better.

And not a moment too soon: BFF and I are heading to the city tomorrow! Yeah!

Friday, December 26, 2008

As if Sarah Palin isn't overexposed enough already...

...you can now spend all 12 months of the year with her! That's right, 365 days with the governor of Alaska, no matter where you live!
Seriously, Kittens, Amazon.com is selling a Sarah Palin calendar. You read that right, a calendar. Read more about it here, courtesy of CNN's political ticker.

P.S. I learned recently that Alaska's celebrating the 50th anniversary of its statehood on January 3rd. More Sarah Palin news coverage then, I can almost guarantee that!

Sinus infection

This morning I woke up with wet PJs on. They weren't sopping wet, but wet enough to tell me that I had a sweat.

A sweat upon awakening + not feeling well = fever.

Off to the walk-in clinic I went.

Now I prefer seeing my regular physician, whom I adore, but when I originally called for an appointment she was booked for two weeks. So I drove the half mile down to the clinic, book in hand, and prepared to wait.

There was a fleet of cars in the shopping plaza where the walk-in clinic treats its patients, and I knew damn well that they weren't all going to the 60% off sale at Dress Barn.

I took a deep breath, walked from my car to the clinic, and opened the door.

The waiting room was full.

Good thing I had a really thick book with me. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Amazing, amazing book. I'll be posting a formal review soon.

I had read about 100 or so pages when I was finally called in. I gave the nurse my symptoms: clogged and congested, tingling sensation in my right ear, sore throat, yellow-green mucus. I added that I had been sick on and off since the first week of December. Nurse took a throat culture and went away for a while.

I don't know how long I waited for the doctor; I didn't bring the watch. I never bring a watch to the clinic because I know I'm going to spend a good portion of my life in the waiting room.

Finally, the doctor arrives. She examines my throat, my ears, my sinuses.

Yep, my suspicions were confirmed: sinus infection.

She was very blunt, and scolded me for waiting so long to see a doctor.

Well someone had a Merry Christmas! :P

She gave me a prescription for an antibiotic, and I was on my way. I started the car. Two hours at the clinic.

Went to CVS, got my prescription filled. Yay for $5 generics!

I'm not supposed to take the first dose till supper. One pill every 12 hours. I don't want to wake up at 1:30 AM to take a pill, so I'm starting with the evening meal tonight.

At least I'm on the mend...yay antibiotics!

Friday cat blogging

A friend of mine just E-mailed me this clip:

You could never get my cats to exercise like that.

Dedicated to those who have succumbed to the evils of cold and flu season...

I am one of those who has succumbed to the evils of cold and flu season.

Thankfully, it's just been nasal congestion and post-nasal drip...mild compared to what I could really get.

I came across this old Opus comic strip tonight and thought I would share it with you. It really speaks to our national dependency on medicine, prescription and otherwise.

Ahh, Opus...you always had a way of commenting on our national travails. I miss you so.

***Special thanks to Salon.com for the archived comic.***

***UPDATE: Here's the link to the Salon.com archives. You can't really see it too well on the blog. I'm still trying to figure out the "click to enlarge" thing.***

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cooking with Kitten: Holiday leftovers edition

Well, Kittens, another Christmas has come and gone, and once again, we are faced with the holiday leftovers in our collective refrigerators.

What shall we do with those leftovers?

Last month Food Network aired a special on what exactly to do. Sunny Anderson suggested taking your green bean casserole and making little pot pies. Yum. Guy Fieri offered a yummy recipe for turkey hash.

But seriously, Kittens, who wants to do all of that slicing and dicing and rolling out pastry dough after we've spent a day gorging, with a post-dinner hangover the next day?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present you, the easiest post-holiday recipe on earth:


*Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I need to say that I myself do not eat this sandwich. However, we here at The Bookkitten are equal opportunists who try to cater to all tastes. This recipe will likely appeal to grown men and kids. It's not so much for the ladies.*

But here's the recipe anyway. It's easy.
  • You're gonna start out with two slices of bread. Any bread will do, but Wonder Bread, that childhood staple, just seems to fit for this one.
  • Next, spread a layer of mashed potatoes on both slices of bread. It's best if the mashed potatoes are at room temperature.
  • Spread a layer of stuffing on top of the taters. Again, it's best to have your ingredients at room temperature.
  • Put some turkey slices on top of the stuffing. Do this for only one of the slices of bread.
  • If you have slices of canned cranberry sauce, use 'em here, on top of the turkey.
  • Put the second slice of bread on top of the first one. Nuke it if you want a hot lunch.
  • If you nuke the sandwich, feel free to add a layer of gravy to it. If you do this, you're gonna have to eat it with a knife and fork. Otherwise, bon appetit!

If you're not such a big fan of the leftover sandwich, may I suggest:

  • Get yerself a bag of salad greens and add some turkey pieces and possibly some bits of the canned cranberry. Top with a lowfat vinagrette.
  • Make shepherd's pie.

Just remember, taters and stuffing do not freeze well. At all. I learned this the hard way.

As for me, I'm just going to take my turkey, taters, and stuffing, arrange them on a plate, and stretch the Christmas dinner out for a couple more days. Yummmmmmmmmmm...

Christmas Eve Mass, 2008

A few days ago, I composed a post about how I dreaded attending Mass on Christmas Eve, when 75% of my immediate family consists of lapsed Catholics.

I would like to take all of the negative things I said in that post back.

I still have my issues with the Catholic church, but last night's Christmas Eve service was one of the loveliest I've ever attended.

Going to Mass, especially for a lapsed Catholic, is like riding a bicycle. I hadn't been to a Catholic church since last Christmas Eve, and upon entering the church, my right hand automatically reached for the holy water and crossed myself. I also genuflected when we got to our pew, put down the kneeler, crossed myself again, and prayed.

The scriptures were all comfortingly familiar. Luke's Gospel, in particular, was very nice. Maybe it's just the way that the priest reads it. Maybe it's like wrapping a security blanket around you. It just felt really good to hear that Biblical passage last night, moreso than ever.

And the homily...oh, the homily! My parents' priest is extremely clever when it comes to homilies, especially at this time of year. One year he brought out a ukelele and told a story about a little rabbit looking for a home on Christmas. Another year his sermon was an anti war lament. He preached as the choir softly hummed "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" in the background. Last year he pondered the meaning of Christmas, and took out a tape recorder, and played "And So This is Christmas." He took a microphone, and started to sing, encouraging the rest of the congregation to join him in the chorus. Sister Kitten and I did just that, waving our hands and singing "war is over" over and over again.

This year, he told a story about his little grand-nephew, who, at Thanksgiving, asked him if Santa Claus existed. Our priest told the story of the history of Saint Nicholas, that he really was a saint, a bishop who wore red. He recounted to his little grand-nephew the different versions of St. Nick all around the world, such as Pere Noel in France.

At one point, another grand-nephew joined the conversation and told him that he once wrote a letter to Santa, and Santa wrote back!

This was when the priest paused during the homily. He took out a pen and paper, had his lector move a music stand in front of the pulpit, and announced that he was composing a letter to Santa Claus. With a recording of "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" playing in the background, he read his letter aloud as he wrote. He recounted his wishes for the First Communion kids, that they always hold the joy of that First Communion in their hearts. He wished that the Confirmation kids would grow and blossom in their relationship with the church. I don't remember what he wished for the adults, but I was so touched by this gesture.

He signed the letter, put it in an envelope, and gave it to his lector, with the instructions to deliver it to the post office, which was right down the road, ASAP.

And with that, the homily was over, and I recited the Nicene Creed by heart. Again, Mass is like riding a bicycle.

I couldn't go up for Communion, however. I hadn't been to a Catholic church in so long, I couldn't justify it for myself.

However, in spite of this, something special happened last night.

I started to make peace with Catholicism.

I still have some disagreements with the church that I have to iron out, but I guess you could say that I'm on the road to recovery. I left church feeling really, really good. I guess you could use the word serene. I decided that I should attend Mass more often.

Don't get me wrong, I still love my little UU church and cherish its community. It will always be my spiritual home. But Catholicism is a huge part of my past; it gave me a spiritual foundation.

And it played such a great role in my life, I really can't cut off ties completely.

It has nothing to do with Catholic guilt. It once did, but it doesn't anymore.

Can I balance the UU church with Catholicism? We shall see.

But for now, I'll just take pride in the fact that I am a child of God, and to remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

Thursday Thunks: Christmas 2008 Edition

Here's the latest Thursday Thunk, postdated so I can spend the holiday with the Cat Family.

1. Have you ever started your Christmas tree on fire?
In the last seven years, since I've owned my own tree, no. Actually, when I was growing up, we never set the tree on fire, either. Come to think of it, I don't know anyone who has set the tree on fire.

Let me correct myself: I haven't set my tree on fire...yet.

2. How many rings do you wear?
Two. One on each ring finger. I always wear my aquamarine birthstone ring on my right hand; it's my fashion signature.

3. I say "dog barking", you say _________ ?
Who's dog is that, so I can call my neighbor and tell him/her to shut his dog up!

4. How many pictures are in the room that you are in?
Two. One is of the Eiffel Tower, the other is a ten-year-old picture of me and my two best friends from college.

5. Do you decorate the outside of your house for Christmas?
I put a wreath on my door. When you live in a condo complex, your options for decorating are tres limited.

6. What's your favorite Christmas song?
The original version of "Jingle Bell Rock." I also like Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town."

7. What do you fill your Christmas stockings with?
Travel-sized toiletries like toothpaste and shampoo. My family travels a lot, so this is a great little surprise to have.

8. How many times a week do you charge your cell phone?
Twice a week. I charge it once every five or six days. It's a brand new phone, so I can go for awhile between charges.

9. Do you own any exercise equipment? What are they?
I own free weights and the Firm Fanny Lifter.

10. What's your cookie jar look like?
I don't own a cookie jar, so I'll go with my parents': it's a ceramic cookie jar with a white persian cat looking as if it's peeking out of a basket. It's very cute.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I've written quite a bit over the past month about how this holiday season has not been the merriest for either me or many people I know.

Yet every time I think about all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, Linus Van Pelt always pops into my mind to give me some perspective:

No matter how many times I've seen this clip, it always gets me. It's timeless.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I'll be back in a couple of days, if not, sooner. (Knowing me, it'll be sooner.) :)

The Bookkitten's iPod Playlist: Holiday Edition

I didn't think I'd come up with a playlist, but I am for three reasons:

1. I'm still procrastinating on the wrapping;
2. "Another Christmas Song" is just too good to be left off of a playlist;
3. I love Patti LuPone's version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".

Sooo...here we go:

1. "Another Christmas Song," Stephen Colbert
2. "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," Andy Williams
3. "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee
4. "Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby Helms
5. "Santa Claus is Comin' To Town," Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
6. "Christmas Time Is Here," A Charlie Brown Christmas
7. "Sleigh Ride," Debbie Gibson
8. "Feliz Navidad," Jose Feliciano
9. "Christmas Wrapping," the Waitresses
10. "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow," Michael Buble
11. "White Christmas," Bing Crosby
12. "A Holly Jolly Christmas," Burl Ives
13. "Kung Pao Buckaroo Holiday," Brad Paisley with Bill Anderson, George Jones, and Little Jimmy Dickens
14. "The Chipmunk Song," the Chipmunks
15. "Skating," A Charlie Brown Christmas
16. "Sleigh Ride," Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra
17. "Linus and Lucy," A Charlile Brown Christmas
18. "The Christmas Waltz," Harry Connick, Jr.
19. "Gloria," Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra
20. "Carol of the Bells," Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra
21. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," Patti LuPone
22. "My Dear Acquaintance," Peggy Lee

Okay, NOW I'm off to wrap gifts!

Merry Christmas from Stephen Colbert

The first segment from Stephen Colbert's Christmas special.

And yes, Kittens, those are his real kids making a cameo appearance here.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert wish you a Happy Hanukkah

<a href="http://www.colbertnation.com/" target="_blank">A Colbert Christmas: Jon Stewart</a>

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch...

Imagine my surprise and delight when I turned the TV on at 8:00 last night and was thrilled to be reunited with an old friend.

Hellllllllloooooooooooo, Mr. Grinch!

Given my lack of Yuletide Pride this year, I sat down and drank it all in.

I just love his multitude of facial expressions:

But it's this one that's my absolute favorite:

I just love that smirk on his face, that absolute look of delicious evilness. When you watch the special, Chuck Jones does a superb job animating his face. The mouth turns up ever so slowly into this wide, delicious smirk. And I love how the brows go down in tandem with the face. And it's not just this face Mr. Jones animates this way; it's all of the faces that the Grinch makes.

I love the rhymes of Dr. Seuss, and I love the way Boris Karloff brings them to life. You can't imagine anyone else narrating this classic.

And the Whos...ahh, the Whos! Those delightful creatures whose goodwill and cheer prevail in the end, even though their material Christmas possessions have been taken away and nearly dumped over the side of Mount Crumpet. Such delightful little expressions of commercialism, these Whos, whose dietary staples are Who Hash and the Roast Beast. (I just love those little chef's hat thingies they put on the end of the Roast Beast!)

The special itself lasted half an hour, followed by a "making of" segment hosted by Tom Bergeron. I had known that the vocalist for the songs, Thurl Ravenscroft, was also the voice of Tony the Tiger (they're grrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!), but I didn't know that Albert Hague was the composer of the songs.

Albert Hague?

The guy who played Shorofsky on Fame?
Yep, that one.

(Speaking of which, when are they ever gonna bring the rest of the seasons of Fame on DVD? I know they've got the first season).

Anyhoo, that's how I spent last night, in the company of Mr. Grinch.

And my Yuletide Pride feels ever so much better now that he paid me a visit.

Well, maybe just a teensy bit better. :)

Radio Flyer 2.0

I was on CNN.com earlier, checking up on the morning news, when I saw this.

I couldn't believe it. A wagon with safety straps, I'm okay with. But the fact that it has cup holders?!?!?! And a space for an MP3 PLAYER?!?!?!!

Aren't today's kids spoiled enough?

Bring back the classic little red wagon, PLEASE!!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas wrapping

Every holiday season, there is always one chore that I postpone until the very last possible minute.

Wrapping presents.

I hate it.

As much as I would like to pay someone to wrap for me, I don't. I can't really justify the expense. Besides, there have been occasions where I have left the gift tag off, and let the wrapping speak for itself. People know when a gift is from me just by the wrapping.

There have been times where I've just done the tissue-paper-and-bag thing, but I even have enough trouble wrapping the damn tissue paper.

People still know the gift is from me in those cases.

I waste more wrapping paper and tape than anyone I know. I either cut too short of a piece, or I cut too much and have to trim it. Then I have ribbons of waste around my house. It's not fun at all.

And then there's the matter of the tape. I use entirely too much. I'm also like one of those commercials where the guy cuts off a tiny patch of paper to mask a missed spot.

I have a lot of those too, the missed spots.

It's never fun, no matter how much fun I try to make it.

So tomorrow morning, shortly before I leave for the Cat homestead, I'll be wrapping presents. Or rather, tangling myself in a mess or wasted gift wrap and scotch tape is more like it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Eve with Mama and Papa Cat

Every time winter weather occurs, I have to call Mama Cat both when I arrive at work and when I come home from work.

Tonight, following my dentist's appointment, I called her to let her know I got home OK. As the conversation progressed, talk turned to Christmas Eve:

ME: Are we going to Mass Christmas Eve?
MAMA CAT: I dunno. I don't know if Dad's church has Mass on Christmas Eve?
ME: What's the point of going? Dad's the only practicing Catholic in our family.
MAMA CAT: I don't get it either. When you were kids Dad was always asking "Do I have to go to church today?" whenever we got ready on Sundays.
ME: Now it's the reverse. What happened?
MAMA CAT: I don't know.

My parents wanted to give both me and my sister a spiritual foundation. We were both baptized and raised Catholic, received our First Communion when we were eight, and were confirmed when we were 14.

I went to a Catholic high school, a Jesuit university, and earned my Master's from another local Catholic institution. During those years, I was Super Catholic Girl. My faith was of the utmost importance to me. I became a Eucharistic Minister, went to Mass as often as possible, and engaged in all sorts of service projects. Catholicism was such an important fiber of my being, some of my friends wondered if I was going to become a nun.

Sister Kitten went through a similar spiritual phase. She went to a public high school, but started going on Emmaus retreats with her best friend, who was a member of the Episcopal church. Her faith, while it differed from mine, became an important fiber of her being.

In spite of our spiritual journeys, we had trouble discussing our experiences at the time. I argued that Catholicism was the one true religion, while she accused me of being closed-minded and not open to any other perspectives. I told her about how the Jesuits valued education, and how they encouraged people to question things and to learn, as well as their commitment to service. She would hear none of it.

The subject of religion and faith has not come up recently between me and Sister Kitten, although I would like to talk about it with her someday.

But I digress.

I especially loved my faith journey during my undergrad days. Fairfield had a 10:00 Mass on Monday nights, and I loved to go because it was so informal, and Father Carrier, our chaplain, knew how to talk to college kids. He made scripture real to us, and never failed to relate it to what was going on both on campus and in the outside world.

Upon graduation, that was one of the hardest things for me to part with.

Post-graduation, I started falling out of love with the Catholic church.

For about a year, I alternated between two churches: my parents', and the Catholic church the next town over. I had so much difficulty relating to the sermons and the scripture. For one, I was the youngest person attending Mass. Everyone else was either elderly or had young families. There was nothing for young, twentysomething single people like me. There were also very few service opportunities available. I didn't feel the same magical connection that I did when I attended Mass in college, and a part of me started dying.

I stopped attending church after that.

September 11th occurred two months after I moved out of my parents' house. I went to the local Catholic church, seeking some guidance. I had the same question that many Americans did that weekend: "How could God let this happen?"

It was the same question that the priest asked at the beginning of his sermon.

When he compared 9/11 to abortion, I walked out.

I thought it was incredibly tasteless, tactless--I'm still pissed at that memory.

I still didn't give up, though. I still sought a spiritual home. I felt obligated that it be a Catholic house of worship, because of my long history with Catholicism, and that I would feel guilty if I ever gave it up. After all, I reasoned, I spent so much time studying it, being absorbed in it, really immersing myself in it.

I thought I had found a home, and joined the choir. I felt that music helped me strengthen my relationship with God. However, I had trouble making connections with the other members of the parish. Again, I was the youngest person there, a single twentysomething in a pool of older congregants.

I left that church.

I moved up to Middletown and heard a lot of good things about another Catholic church. I joined because I heard there were a lot of service opportunities there. However, there was that same problem of not bonding with my fellow parishioners.

But this time, things were different.

I started to notice, during Mass, that I would take a seat in the last available pew and pray that no one would talk to me. I had never felt that way before. I also noticed two things: one, nobody talked to each other, save for the Kiss of Peace. Two, those who did talk to each other were old friends, and didn't bother to welcome the newcomers.

Not only that, but I was having some major issues with some of the positions that the Catholic church took with respect to women, abortion, and gay rights. I was tired of the conservative doctrine, the "one true faith" perspective that the Vatican had. I was tired of being told what to believe, and tired of not being allowed to ask questions.

In other words, I finally knew what Sister Kitten was trying to tell me all those years ago.

For about three or four years, I didn't go to church of any kind, save for Christmas with my family and the occasional Easter service. I didn't realize it then, but my spiritual side was shriveled up and grey, or, as Dr. Seuss would say, my "heart was two sizes too small."

In 2006, my mentor passed away, and her funeral was held at her church, a small, non-denominational Christian church. The service was absolutely beautiful, personal, and full of love. There was some ritual, but it was planned in a way that honored my mentor's favorite music, poems, and memories.

Although it was a funeral, you could really feel the sense of community that was there. So many members of the church had come together to help plan the service and the reception afterwards.

That was what I missed the most.


I knew I needed a new spiritual home, but where would I find one?

Last June, I was at a party at my best friend's house when another friend of mine told me that she and her husband had just joined a Unitarian Universalist church. She raved about it. She told me about how she and her husband were both of different faiths, and how they both agreed that their son should be raised with a spiritual education. She liked how the UU religious program taught about religions and faiths of all backgrounds--Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism--you name it, the kids learned about it. They weren't pigeonholed to believe one thing, but were encouraged to explore different traditions and make it their own.

I was intrigued. I decided to investigate.

That night, I found the website for the Unitarian Universalist Association, typed in my city, state, and zip code, and found a church within a reasonable driving distance. I attended the service the second week of July. It was a small church, but the people there were super-friendly and welcomed me with open arms.

"What's your name?"

"Where are you from?"

"What brings you here?"

"Do you have any questions for us?"

It was not the type of service that I was used to. There was a chalice lighting, but nothing from the Bible, Torah, or any kind of scripture. There was a lot of yoga in that service, with some expressive art thrown in. I liked it, and decided to return the next week.

When I did return the next week, I was amazed that people remembered my name. I'm not being sarcastic here; when you attend a Catholic church for years and you don't know anyone's name, this is something you take for granted.

"Welcome back!"

"Glad you're here!"

"Our minister's here! You'll get to meet her!"

I became a full-fledged member of that church last January. After I had been going to services there for a few months, I started to realize something: my depression, that I had battled on and off for years, was lifting. I started to feel happier, more whole.

My heart grew three sizes.

I like being a UU because I can now "live the questions." I'm still learning a lot about my faith and my religious beliefs. I believe in Jesus, and in God, but I also enjoy the pagan rituals such as Samhain and Yule. I believe in the Big Bang, but I also believe in Adam and Eve. How do I connect the two?

I attend church with humanists, atheists, pagans, and agnostics. We have discussion after each service. I love hearing the different perspectives, and I love how I can contribute to discussion without fear of judgment or being judged.

Catholicism, though, will always remain a part of my life. I still have issues with the Catholic church, but it gave me a strong foundation, and helped make me who I am. I treasure the opportunites that it brought me, such as going to Washington, DC to assist with Habitat for Humanity, and working with underprivileged youth in urban areas.

However, I still feel like a hypocrite attending Mass on Christmas Eve. I've become part of the "once a year people" that I once despised in my youth.

That's not the kind of feeling I want to experience on Christmas Eve.

How does Michelle Duggar stay so calm and centered?

Here's a clip of a Today show interview with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, just days after their 18th child was born.

You know, I kinda like the Duggars. I'm amazed at how articulate some of the younger ones are. They really do seem to be a sweet family.

But how does Michelle stay so calm and centered with all those kids? She just had her 18th child, and she looks like she got a full body massage!

I think I'll just buy their book and find out for myself...I just got a 40% off coupon from Border in my inbox. I may just use it on that.

An afternoon rendez-vous chez le dentiste

I like my dentist!

I know I'm in the minority of the American population when I say that. I've heard many stories about patients who have to take a Xanax or Valium or related drug before they even get in the car to go to the dentist's office. I've also heard stories about those who have had to be put under general anesthesia before they even go for a cleaning.

I'm glad I'm not one such patient. My dentist rocks.

The Good Doc is a 15-minute drive from work, and a half-hour drive from my house. Yeah, I know it's kinda far, but I'm willing to travel that distance to see him. That's how good he is. His office is clean without being overly sterile. The waiting room is open, bright, and friendly, with a wide variety of current magazines (a big plus for any doctor's office). His staff is cheerful, but not to the point of perky. (And y'all know I don't do perky.) They knew me by name by my second visit--which came six months after the first.

I had gone to the same dentist my entire life before I met The Good Doc. When I moved out of my parents' house I had no choice but to find a new dentist--a choice which, to be honest, I welcomed. I didn't like my old guy's corny, tooth-related jokes, and I really didn't like his hygienists, who all seemed to talk nonstop and expect me to answer questions while I was getting my teeth cleaned. Ever try to answer an existential question while someone's scraping the tartar off your back molars? Right. I didn't think so.

The Good Doc's not like that. He still talks to you, but actually stops what he's doing to let you converse in an articulate manner. He explains every step of what he's doing to you, and really has a way of putting you at ease. His hygienist is the same exact way. Best of all, they don't expect you to talk while they're working on your teeth.

Best of all, I like The Good Doc and his hygienist because they're honest without being intimidating. I don't get any major scoldings for not doing what I'm supposed to (like flossing). For example, I went in today thinking I had two new cavities. It turned out to be tooth sensitivity caused by aggressive tooth brushing. They both noticed that two of my teeth (which they refer to by numbers; I'll just call them my second right molar and the tooth above it) had receding gums so badly, and in the same spot, that it was due to tooth brushing. The Good Doc asked if my teeth hurt whenever I went outside, in the cold air; I said they didn't. He relaxed when I told him this, concluding that it was my heavy hand with the brush that caused the sensitivity.

I was relieved to learn that I had no cavities. I haven't had a cavity in six years. I got my first and only cavity when I was 26, and The Good Doc was the one who found it. For some reason, parts of my back molars don't have any tooth enamel, but have brown spots instead. My former dentist wasn't too concerned, but the good doc was. He had me come in to get some sealants done.

Yep, sealants.

At the age of 26.

The Good Doc said that the sealants would prevent the brown spots from decay, and if any were already decaying, they'd fill it in. Well, sure enough, one of them was a wee bit soft, so they drilled a bit and filled it.

I don't remember the procedure.

And I was awake the whole time. I didn't need anesthesia.

My old dentist would have ignored the brown spots had I stayed with him.

I haven't had a cavity since.

I know how lucky I am. My family hasn't had a very good dental history. Mama Cat's mouth is full of fillings, as well as a gold tooth, which helps her greatly when it comes to weather predictions. It gets more or less sensitive depending on the direction of the barometer. Her teeth are also overcrowded and crooked, because her family couldn't afford orthodontia when she was a kid.

Papa Cat has straight, uniform, white teeth. Over half of them, however, are false. Both he and Mama Cat make regular trips to the periodontist. Last year he had a bridge put in, which cost him thousands of dollars. The company that made the bridge, however, couldn't get it molded right, so the periodontist kept sending the teeth back. For a while, Papa Cat had to wear a retainer with the missing teeth attached to it--well, at least he wore it in public. Mama Cat kept complaining about finding the retainer on the bathroom sink at night.

Sister Kitten had it the worst out of the four of us. She went through two rounds of braces and jaw surgery to correct an underbite. When she was sixteen, she had her upper jaw moved forward and her lower jaw moved back. She has a titanium plate in her soft palate and two titanium screws holding her jaw together. She lost a lot of weight because she couldn't fully open her mouth for a week, save for Ensure, which she hated. When she could finally open her mouth a little, she started eating soft foods. One of the foods she requested was cheesecake. Mama Cat bought her a six-inch marble cheesecake from the supermarket. Sister Kitten was only able to open her mouth wide enough to fit a demitasse spoon. So as she recovered, for breakfast, she'd take the cheesecake out of the refrigerator and eat from the center of it with the demitasse spoon, smirking at me and taunting me as I ate my Cracklin' Oat Bran.

As for me, when I was ten I started out with a quad behind my top row of teeth, which I hated. I was able to wiggle it out of my mouth with my tongue. Neither Mama nor Papa Cat were pleased. I moved up to a retainer, and after that, two years of braces, with some teeth pulling a year into the braces for good measure. Then I had my wisdom teeth extracted when I was 19. I've had it easy compared to the dental travails of my family.

My maternal grandmother had dentures, and I always loved to see her take them out of her mouth, put them in a glass, fill up the glass with water, and drop in the Polident. I loved watching that little tablet fizz. Both Grandma and Mama Cat, however, told me that Grandma Cat had dentures because she didn't take very good care of her teeth.

I've always been vigilant about my teeth. As a kid I used to chew those pink dental tablets before I brushed my teeth--you know, the ones that turn your teeth pink to indicate the presence of plaque. I brushed, flossed, and used Listerine. These days I just brush twice a day. I floss whenever I remember to do so. I've gotten very lazy about it. Lately I've gotten into the very bad habit of flossing a week before my six-month checkup.

I think I have The Good Doc and company fooled.

Either that, or they're not saying anything.

My next appointment's in six months. If all goes well, I still won't have any cavities.

Or maybe I'll get a root canal.

Maybe that's why I don't mind the dentist--I've never had any major dental work done.


I hope I'll still like him if that day ever comes.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Clip of the Week: Stephen Colbert's stock advice

I thought we'd take a break from all clips Christmas and get a taste of Mr. Colbert.

Happy Solstice, everyone!

Well, I just got word that the Revels services at church were canceled due to the weather. It's not snowing too badly right now, but the weathermen are all saying that it'll change to a mix of sleet and freezing rain by noontime. Yuck. I hate freezing rain! I can deal with snow, but anything that has to do with ice just creeps me out!

I'm ok with that decision, thought. One, I'd rather be safe than sorry. Two, last night's church social salvaged my Christmas spirit before I would turn into the female equivalent of Ebenezer Scrooge. So today, after much procrastination, I am finally going to festoon my tree. Pics to follow.

Of course, I still promised you pics of the first storm of the season. Those will come, too.

In the meantime, Kittens, enjoy the winter solstice! I'm psyched it's finally here! That means the days are going to get longer from here on out. More sunshine--yeah!

Christmas spirit: I haz it

No, I didn't misspell accidentally; I did it on purpose. Those of you who visit LOL Cats often will understand that that type of spelling is quite common.

Anyhoo, after almost a month of wondering where my Christmas spirit had gone, it finally arrived during our church social. It was a small, festive get together with friends, a carol sing, and holiday food. The carol sing's what did it for me.

I drove home feeling positively giddy. I'm very tired right now, but happy.

This feeling of Christmas spirit may not last too long, but I'm going to hang onto it for as long as I can.

I'll let you know what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My morning so far

Kitten's morning, December 20, 2008 (all times approximate):

5:30: Wake up naturally, without the aid of an alarm or noise. Turn on TV to confirm it's not 4 AM. Realize I fell asleep on the couch last night--without the TV on. Greeted by Maggie, who senses my first subtle movements, leaps onto my belly, and commences massage therapy.

6:00: Turn on the news to see what's been delayed/canceled. Also to see if there are any road closures. At 17 degrees, there wasn't gonna be any melting today.

7:00: Head to shower and dress after checking up on E-mail, Facebook, and the first blog post of the day. Dress in head to toe layers.

7:30: Put Christmas cards in purse, photo to scan at CVS in purse, grab keys and my shovel. It's time to dig out.

7:32: Commence digging out. Brush off the 8 or 9 inches of snow that fell on my car yesterday. Dig out from behind my car. The plowman came to clear the snow off the parking lot, but left a barrier of snow, trapping in all the cars in the lot.

8:26: Start car. Warm up for four minutes.

8:30: Put car in reverse. Car will not budge. I hit the gas. Nada.

8:30:30: Get out of car. Grab shovel again. Shovel under tires.

8:31: Attempt to back car out again. Still nothing.

8:31:31: Get out of car. Grab shovel again. Dig out the snow on the passenger side of the car.

8:36: 3rd attempt to put car in reverse. Still nada. Hit the gas all the way to the floor. Rubber starts to burn. I start to curse and pound the steering wheel.

8:37: Get out of car. Slam door. Kick tire. Get shovel again. Thinks I've finally found the culprit: lots of snow around the passenger front tire. Digging commences--again.

8:40: Backed out of parking space. At last!

8:42: Leave parking lot. The state highway is a mess. Plenty of blacktop, but lots of slush and icy spots. Drive 20 mph down hill.

8:45: Arrive at Mobil station. Pull into gas pump. Realize that I pulled in on the wrong side. Decide, "Screw it," and head to the Shell station.

8:48: Arrive at Shell station. Put gas in the car. Filled tank for under 20 bucks--first time in years that I've done that.

8:54: Head across town to post office. Take the back roads. Main Street is usually the worst plowed street in town--then again, there isn't a well-plowed street in town when it snows. At all. Snow starts to fall again.

9:19: Arrival at post office. This is normally a ten-minute drive from my house.

9:24: Leave post office. Spent enough time there to buy stamps and mail Christmas cards. There was no line (!) and I got right through. That was a first!

9:25: Debate whether to go to the CVS near the post office for the scan or to the one closer to my house. I decide on the one closer to my house.

9:46: Arrival at CVS. Learn that the scanner's broken. Decide to head to Walgreen's instead.

9:49: Arrival at Walgreen's. Scan photo. Photo will be ready at 10:27 AM. Do some shopping: get Mama Cat one last Christmas gift, buy some magazines in case of snow-boundedness tomorrow, and some snacks and Kraft Mac n' Cheese. There's something about the cold weather that makes me crave the blue box. Comfort food. Ahh.

10:45: Leave Walgreen's.

10:49: Arrive back at the condo. About to turn in when I realize everyone's pulled out of their spaces. The plow's now going to clear the parking spaces. I get out of the left turn only lane and head westward.

10:49:49: Decide to head to church. The roads in Middlefield and Meriden aren't any better--they're actually worse. You would think that a New England state would know how to plow. I see people digging out everywhere.

11:19: Arrival at church. The parking lot's plowed; a good sign. Looks like the social will go on after all.

11:19:19: Commence the drive home. Pray that the spaces have been plowed; I'm sick of being in the car!

11:23: Feel comfortable enough to turn on the radio for the drive home. I decided I can concentrate with some background talk/music. Decide on NPR. Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Mavis Staples is the guest. She is a riot!

11:46: Arrival back home.

Now I've gotta bake cookies for the church social tonight. If it gets canceled due to the weather, I will seriously cry.

And they're already thinking 'bout number 19...

Once again, Michelle Duggar has defied the feats of the human uterus and has given birth to her 18th--yes, Kittens, you've read that right, 18th--child. Read all about it at the Today Show website by clicking here.

A while back, I wrote about my dislike--hatred is too strong of a word, but I do have an intense dislike--of reality shows. However, I make an exception to the Duggars' reality show, 17 Kids and Counting, which airs on TLC Monday nights at 10. It's not the fascination of a family with so many kids that draws me in. It's how they manage having so many kids that makes me want to watch.

Consider these points:

1. They're thrifty. (Click on the preceding sentence for a link).
With a family of 20, it's easy to run up huge bills for everything from clothing to groceries to electricity. However, the Duggars claim that they live debt-free. Their credo is, "Buy used, save the difference."

That's a credo we can all live by, especially in this economy.

Maybe Obama would have done well by appointing Jim Bob as an economic adviser in his cabinet.

Anyhoo, the Duggars have always bought used vehicles, have relied on thrift shops, tag sales, and have paid cash for everything they need. They make their own clothes (especially for the girls). Their biggest expense, according to Jim Bob, is, logically, groceries and diapers, at an expense of $3,000 a month.

Groceries, however, don't have to be quite that expensive. They do their primary shopping at Aldi, and buy many of their items in bulk. They bake their own bread. They even make their own laundry detergent. The recipe seems quite simple; I may just have to investigate this myself.

2. All 17 kids seem to get along very well.
There are no fights--at least on TV.

All of the Duggar children seem to be very mild-mannered and polite. Their secret? Speak softly when disciplining, and praise more than criticize.

Sister Kitten and I fought all the time when we were growing up. But we came from a family of four! I guess when you're a family of 20 you have no choice but to get along, considering how many potential fights you can get into. I'm glad this discipline works for Jim Bob and Michelle, because if it ever backfired...whoa...

Twenty siblings getting along...seems like a dream...

Which leads me to my next point...

3. The whole family just seems too damn perfect.
I think we can use the word sheltered here quite safely, Kittens.

Eldest son Josh, 20, recently married. When he and his wife were "courting" (they don't use the word "dating" in this family), they had to have a chaperone with them every time they went out. A CHAPERONE? AT 20 YEARS OLD? Both Josh and his wife, Anna, committed not to have premarital sex. Not only that, they committed not to have their first kiss until their wedding day.


They had to have a chaperone for THAT?!?!

I respect the decision to remain celebate until the wedding night. That's a personal choice, and I guess the whole kissing thing is a personal choice, too. However, how can you not kiss your romantic partner? I mean, kisses are so romantic, they make you feel so secure, so loved, so...

Sorry, I'm digressing.

My point is this: How much of the outside world do the Duggars get exposed to outside of their Arkansas compound? It's great that the kids are so well-traveled domestically, but when it comes to day-to-day stuff, do they know how other kids act outside of their home?

And that brings me to my final consideration...

4. With a family that seems so perfect, I really want to see one of the kids rebel.
Yes, I know that is a horrible thing to write. A very horrible thing indeed. But how would the Duggars deal if one of their kids came out of the closet? How would they deal if one of them--especially one of the girls--decided to move out of the house before they got hitched? Or worse, what if one of the girls decided to move out and move in with a boyfriend?!?!

I hope to stay awake long enough to watch the latest episode of 17 Kids and Counting. It'll document the birth of the newest Duggar, Jordyn-Grace Makiya (Makiya?!). Lately I've been either too sick, too busy, or too tired to stay up till 10 PM.

I just hope that it doesn't prevent me from sleeping at 11 PM.

No, wait, that's when The Daily Show comes on.

Okay, that's more reason for me to watch!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas spirit?!?! What Christmas spirit?!?!

I can't ever remember being so not into the Christmas spirit. I just finished addressing my Christmas cards, and I felt like it was more of a chore this year than a joy.

And I haven't even written out the damn cards yet.

This year, I dreaded everything about the holiday--decorating the tree, baking, caroling--all things that always make me happy.

But this year, it's different.

I know I'm not alone. The whole world's going to pot and no one's feeling cheerful right now. Many of my friends are in the same situation, but they also have some pretty serious problems going on in their lives (and I'm saying this rather lightly. This blog, however, is not the place for me to broadcast my friends' lives; I need to respect their privacy).

It also doesn't help that this year, many of the holiday traditions that I hold so near and dear have not materialized.

Number one, a bunch of us always gets together and sees the Boston Pops when they come to Bridgeport. No matter how poor we were in any given year, we always managed to find the funds for Pops tickets. It was the concert that not only put us in the holiday mood, but put us in over the top holiday mood.

We didn't go this year. Several of my friends had to sing in a concert scheduled for that same night--the Messiah. I've seen the Messiah several times and, to be quite honest, am bored with it every single time I see it, save for the "Hallelujah Chorus."

I felt obligated this year, however, to go see it, so I could be in the holiday spirit and spend some time with my friends post-concert.

Didn't happen, though.

Not at $50 a ticket.

I'll pay $50 for Keith Lockhart and his crew, but not to fall asleep during another round of the Messiah.

Plus, my friends had to dash immediately back home post-concert.

Then, just yesterday, our office holiday party, scheduled for today, was canceled due to the snow. The organizers tried to reschedule it, but the venue didn't have any other dates available to us.

Finally, and this is the straw that could potentially break the camel's back, our Revels/Solstice service at church might be canceled because we're expecting another big snowstorm on Sunday. With this cancellation, our Mummers play, which is the highlight of the service, will be canceled, too.

Can you see why I'm feeling down and out, Kittens?

I hope that the New Year's Eve celebration at my best friend's place is a lot better. It's always a good time, though.

Let's all hope that 2009 is a better year than 2008 was.

And that includes next Christmas.

But until then...it's time for me to make out those damn Christmas cards.

Claymation Christmas, Part Three

This is the final portion of Claymation Christmas, featuring the world-famous California Raisins.

The California Raisins were in their hayday in the late 1980s. Now they have all but disappeared. When I was in middle school, one of the 8th grade homerooms did a lip-synch routine to "I Heard It Through the Grapevine". They were all dressed as raisins. They used Hefty garbage bags for their costumes.

Ahh, good times...

Claymation Christmas, Part Two

Here's part two of the Claymation Christmas special. This is, I feel, the most sentimental portion of the program.

I can't decide which segment I like better--the walruses or the "Joy to the World" portion.

Claymation Christmas, Part One

As promised, here's part one of the Claymation Christmas special from 1987.

You will recall that I posted the "Carol of the Bells" segment as the Clip of the Week this past Sunday.

This first part includes the "Carol of the Bells" segment, as well as a delightful version of "We Three Kings."

Parts two and three to follow tres rapidement.

Snow day!

It's a little after 6:30 in the morning, and it's a Friday, and I'm still in my PJs! Reason? I HAVE A SNOW DAY TODAY! I get just as excited, if not more so, about snow days as an adult than I did when I was a child. I think it's because I have more responsibilities now as an adult, but I am not fully sure why.

Anyway, I didn't get the official call until 6 AM, when I was up and at 'em, so I'm not entirely sure if I'm going to go back to bed. I just did the e-mail and Facebook thing, caught up on my blogs, and had breakfast.

The snow isn't supposed to start till around noontime, but getting the kids home on the buses can be tricky--especially since they're predicting a snowfall rate of 1-2 inches an hour.

I've got my camera at the ready and will post pictures for y'all! If the weathermen are right about this (and you know how right they usually are), then it's gonna be a gullywhumper!*

*Gullywhumper is a term that a former meterologist for WFSB, Hilton Kaderli, used to describe big storms. Hilton Kaderli was originally from Oklahoma and became a television legend here in Connecticut. He retired from the airwaves in 1998. He lived for days like this!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday Thunk: December 18, 2008

Hey, Kittens, it's time for another round of Thursday Thunks!

1. If you had to have a brain transplant and had to choose between a cat brain and a dog brain, which would you choose?
Why, a cat brain, of course! After all, a cat brain puts the "kitten" in Bookkitten.

2. Why do you think bananas are shaped the way they are?
God decided that he needed a laugh. Bananas provide endless jokes. They're shaped like phones, and you can use the peel for all sorts of merry amusement.

3. Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip?
Uh, neither. They're both disgusting. I use plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise. But if I were stranded on a desert island and was forced to choose, I'd go with mayo. At least it's all natural.

4. Do you use keyboard shortcuts?
Hell, yeah! I live and die by them!

5. Are you a member at InsanityCafe Forums & Arcade? If not, you should be.
No, I am not a member. I'm not sure if I can get addicted to more computer games.

6. Where I live it was a low of -19 degrees this morning - what was your low last night/this morning?
Anywhere between 26 and 32 degrees...I just go by what the morning weather report says for the general forecast. I don't look for specifics.

7. Do you like hard boiled eggs?
Yeah, they're great chopped up in salads! But if I eat them by themselves, I only eat the whites. I don't like the yolks by themselves.

8. Have you ever drank green beer?
Nope, not even on Saint Patty's Day. I just haven't had the desire.

9. Whats your favorite cleaner?
Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Surface Scrub in Lavender Scent. It's a scrummy smell, and it makes me happy every time I use it! (Gee, that sounded weird...happiness from a cleaner!)

10.White or whole wheat bread?
Whole wheat, please. No Wonder bread for this girl! I don't like eating bread that I can roll into little white pellets. I'm surprised that more schoolchildren haven't used it as a weapon over the years.

11. Everyone has some type of phobia - whats yours?
I have a rather intense fear of snakes. I've gotten to the point where I can finally look at a picture of one without getting chills down my spine, but if I see one in the wild, forget it. Even if I see one on the road when I'm in the car, I get scared--even though I'm in the car.

12. Aren't you glad there weren't any Christmas related meme questions?
Yes, thank you. More Christmas-related questions would further remind me of my massive procrastination with all things holiday-related this year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And now...a list of must-reads from the National Endowment for the Arts

Special thanks to Chessa over at Ciao, Chessa for the inspiration for this post. I don't know the source of her list, but according to Chessa, "the National Endowment for the Arts estimates that the average adult in the United States has only read 6 out of the 100 books they've listed below.

Here's my version of the list. Here are the instructions:

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize AND BOLD the books you LOVE.
3) Just italicize those you intend to read.

Okay...here goes:

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (I've only read the first one and need to read the others. But first, I need to reread the first one to refresh my memory).

5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (it's one of my top 10 favorites)

6. The Bible (not all of it but a significant portion)

7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (I'm sure I'd like it more now that I'm older)

11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (this has been in my bookcase for years--we're talking middle school here--and I've never read it)

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (I've read a good portion of his plays and sonnets, but not all of them)

15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18. Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger (one of my favorite books in high school and is still a favorite)

19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch - George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (I tried reading this in the 8th grade and never made it past page 10...or was it page 5?)

22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (many people have told me I should read this one)

26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (I preferred the Disney version; the original was just too weird when I first read it...but then again, if I read it now I may feel differently)

30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (I've got this in my bookcase)

34. Emma - Jane Austen

35. Persuasion - Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (Another one in my bookcase that I haven't gotten around to reading yet)

37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41. Animal Farm - George Orwell (All together now..."Beasts of England, Beasts of Ireland...")

42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (I've had a lot of people tell me to read this one as well)

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (Faithful readers of this blog are aware of my adoration for Anne)

47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50. Atonement - Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52. Dune - Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon (OMG, I MUST post a review on this!!! This book is simply amazing!!!)

60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding (Sister Kitten named one of her cats after the Shazzer character)

69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72. Dracula - Bram Stoker

73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (Another book I need to review! I read it for the first time last spring and absolutely adored it!)

74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson (Bill Bryson is one of my favorite authors!)

75. Ulysses - James Joyce

76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal - Emile Zola (I read this in college--in French!)

79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession - AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (amazing how many people have seen all of the tv, movie, and theatrical versions but have never, ever picked up the book)

82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (I read this in college--in French--as well).

86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White (this became one of my top 10 favorites when my second grade teacher read this to us...oh, I feel another "Book That Changed My Life" post coming on!

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (I first read the English version when Nickelodeon had an animated series based on this book, and a lot of the material was over my head. When I read it in French, when I was a junior in high school, I was amazed that our public library even considered it a children's book.)

93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94. Watership Down - Richard Adams (I have a friend who insists I should read this, but I can't get past the bunnies.)

95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (my second grade teacher read this one aloud, too).

100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (I guess I feel obligated, but since I love the musical so much, I'll just keep making comparisons).

OK, so I just counted the ones in bold and I've read 26 of these books. That's a little more than a fourth of those that are listed, but I didn't count the ones that are simply italicized. I have to thank my high school teachers for contributing to this list; if it weren't for them, I wouldn't have read a lot of these books, like the Dickens ones, on my own!

And...I just realized that I haven't put some of these books on my Library Thing bookshelf yet! Off I go!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"I love Paris in the winter..."

I have no idea how I found this blog, Paris 2e, but I am in love with it.

I studied in Paris for the fall semester of my junior year of college. It's hard to believe that was twelve years ago this month that I departed the City of Light to return to my home soil.

I want to return in the worst way. I know that, with my lifestyle, it's not possible for me to stay there for a month, but even a week back there would be wonderful.

Anyhoo, to get a taste of this blog, click here and here to see how the City of Light festoons itself for the holidays. Click here and here to get a taste of French politics.

Bon voyage!

Clip of the Week: Claymation Carol of the Bells

When I was a kid, the good people at Claymation studios put out a very, very clever Christmas special. The following clip is the segment that I remember the most--a very clever, well written rendition of "Carol of the Bells."

I must say this is one of the best versions of "Carol of the Bells" I've ever seen--perhaps the best! (Or at least it's the most clever.)

P.S. If there's any interest, the whole special's on YouTube, so I may just post each of the three parts. Ah heck, I'm just gonna post it anyway.

Consider this a teaser!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Bookkitten's iPod Playlist: December 13, 2008

I put the iTunes on shuffle to come up with these goodies, which I listened to as I blogged and responded to e-mail tonight. Enjoy!

1. "Superman (I Wish I Could Fly)", Patti LuPone
2. "You Never Can Tell," Chuck Berry
3. "Born to Be My Baby," Bon Jovi
4. "Eensy Weensy Spider," Carole and Paula
5. "Downtown Train," Rod Stewart
6. "La Valse Brune," Eric Amado
7. "El Shaddai," Amy Grant
8. "Shatner Says Goodbye," Brad Paisley and William Shatner
9. "52nd Street," Billy Joel
10. "Outtake #2," Brad Paisley and Little Jimmy Dickens
11. "True," Spandau Ballet

More Hugh Jackman goodness

And here's Hugh's performance from the 2004 Tony Awards, when he performed in the musical "The Boy from Oz," in the title role of Peter Allen.

Drool...where's my bucket?

Bonus Clip of the Week

Hugh Jackman is hosting the 2009 Oscars! That alone is reason to watch! That is, if this clip doesn't give you a good enough reason to do so!

I'll be watching the Oscars with a bucket by my side. I need something to catch all the drool!


Jon Stewart on the auto bailout

Mr. Stewart does bring up a valid point here.

By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I must add that my family, at the same time they owned the Volare, also owned a Pinto. A two-door, bright orange, everyone in town knew it, couldn't miss it, Pinto hatchback.

We owned a Volare and a Pinto?!?!


Well, Papa Cat's first car was a Mustang convertable, so at least he at one point had some taste in cars...