unicorn quest

Creative writing, bicycling, wild west living, volunteer work, crafts, literature, religion and philosophy, all delivered to you by a 40 year old aspiring writer with Rosanna-Rosannadanna hair and glasses!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Cold bath anyone? Posted by Hello

Snow What

This is only my second winter in Montana, so I am still constantly surprised by the many wild and way-out permutations of the snow.

The other day Jack Frost had left pictures on all the car windows. And I do mean pictures. Whole landscapes of trees, sky, mountains. I would’ve gone back for my camera, but it was my day to work a day shift as well as a night shift; by the time I got back, the pictures had melted away, like sand paintings in the wind.

I stupidly walked outside last week with wet hair, not realizing the temperature had been dipping. Well, by the time I got up the hill to Montana Tech, my hair had frozen into lovely Victorian ringlets. I tried to brush it back from my face, and it wouldn’t budge. It was stiffer than any hairspray could get it. So my new beauty tip for those with unmanageable hair–freeze it into place. But be aware it may melt when you enter a warm building, much like Cinderella’s dress at midnight.

Any park lawn or football field that has been mowed in a circular pattern looks great when a light snow falls. Suddenly it transforms into a white frosted cake that’s been combed into swirls. (I used to be a baker, and that’s how they get those nice swirls into the frosting–with a cake comb. It’s metal and looks like a tiny chainsaw.)

Let’s not forget rogue icicles. I don’t mean those small dainty ones all in a row, such as those that always appear on our neighbor Bill’s roof. No. For some reason, giant, crazy, standalone “rogue” icicles like to form on our back porch. I always think of them as unicorn horns or maybe Finnish spears. Look out below!

I know by now those of you in California or even Oregon are shivering, while those of you in cold states or countries probably have your own stories of weird snow phenomena.

What's Jack Frost doing in your neighborhood?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Thanksgiving Snow Posted by Hello

Christmas List Salute

I read recently that fewer and fewer people are sending Christmas cards these days. (I mean REAL cards, not ecards. Fun as those are, you can't take them out of a box 20 years later and read a letter scrawled by your 6 year old cousin, who is now married and a college grad!)

You also can't take out of that box the dear, familiar handwriting of someone who has just passed away. No--ecards disappear in 30 days. Letters last forever--sometimes centuries.

When I was a little kid in the late 60s, we'd get anywhere from 30-50 Christmas cards a year--enough to fill the entire back of the front door. That was our tradition--stick them on the back of the door and peel them off after New Year's. Postage was just a few cents, and so we'd get them from every distant relative, every co-worker of my dad's. We'd have so many wonderful cards to make crafts out of next year.

Nowadays I'm lucky to get 5-10 cards. . .

I still send out about 40.

The really sad part is that my list keeps shrinking. All of my uncles on my mom's side of the family have passed away, and most of my dad's relatives too. We lost my dad 2 years ago around Easter.

I'm really glad I've still got some of those letters in a box, in my sister's closet.

I currently know a lot of elderly people here in Butte, many struggling with cancer or chronic ailments, and I try to remember each time I see them, that I might not see them again. I try to give them all a hug at each get-together, and be glad for another day together.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and don't forget your old friends, and your lonely distant relatives!

We just got some sparkly snow on the ground, and here in Montana Elk Hunting season is in full swing.

How's things in your neck of the woods?

Monday, November 15, 2004

Dam'd if you do, Dam'd if you don't

GREENSBURG, La. - Beavers found a bag of bills stolen from a casino, tore it open and wove the money into the sticks and brush of their dam on a creek near Baton Rouge.

"They hadn't torn the bills up. They were still whole," said Maj. Michael Martin of the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office.

The money was part of at least $70,000 taken last week from the Lucky Dollar Casino in Greensburg, about 30 miles northeast of Baton Rouge.

I can so believe this story, because something similar happened with my hamster!

I'd bought myself a new pair of satin underwear. They were beautiful, never worn by me, and I happened to put them down only a few inches away from the hamster's cage, which was in my bedroom.

Several hours later I came back, and peered into the cage to see what the hamster was up to.

He was asleep in a gorgeous, fluffy nest. Aww, how cute, I thought. And then I realized what the nest was made out of--my new underwear! He'd shredded and artfully woven it into a lovely new nest for himself.

For one second I was upset, and then I just laughed. He looked so blissful.

Lucky for the casino people, the beavers left the money intact!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Dressed for the Weather! Posted by Hello

Halloween Surprises

This year Halloween was full of surprises.

First was the snow. Last year it was cold but dry, and we had some Trick or Treaters. This year it snowed the first good, sticking snow of the year, and the only Tricksters we had were three teenagers in thick coats and monster face makeup who said they’d been helping at the local haunted house. The just held their hands out for candy and put it in their pockets, since they didn’t have a treat bag.

I got a worried call from our Canadian friend Dwayne, who lives a few blocks away.
“I’ve got a big bowl of Kit Kats here, and no Trick or Treaters.”
“I’ve got a big bowl of Tootsie Rolls and Smarties and no Trick or Treaters here either,” I said to him.

That candy wasn’t all I had.

I’d come home from work in the late afternoon (we had wrapped up our shift early because of Halloween) only to find Mark asleep on the couch with a little cat on his lap! The cat perked up and meowed at me three times eagerly when I walked in. A cat!

Mark had been threatening to borrow a friend’s cat for a little while, because of the sudden appearance of mice in our house, as you’ve read on previous posts.

It turned out, this cat was lost and shivering in the snow, just like in a James Herriott All Creatures Great and Small story. She looks to be about 9 months old, a half grown kitten, white with black and grey splotches on her, and pink paw pads.

We fed her some tuna fish and chicken as we had no cat food, and put out a plastic box with some dirt from the garden. She sat in it right away and did her business. What a good cat!

After only a few hours we discovered this little skinny, lost, no longer cold and shivering cat loves to nestle, sit in laps, loves to play with a crumpled up piece of paper tied to a piece of string, and loves to chase mice!

Yes, one of the infamous mice darted across the floor before I got home from work, and Gertie Maxine went streaking in hot pursuit. She sniffed at every place the mice had been hiding: behind the fridge, behind the stove, under the couch. We saw no sign of any mice the rest of the evening. I think the mice are down in the basement huddled together packing their bags and leaving for a nice barn or garage in the neighborhood. Gertie smells the mice, and I am sure they smell her now.

Gertie also found the lost rubber bathtub plug. Mark was shaving this morning and gulping his coffee, and noticed her batting a small object across the floor. “Hey, it’s the plug you were looking for, Honey!” Gert then picked it up by the metal handle with her mouth and brought it to him and laid it at his feet, wagging her tail.

So, we decided she’s another “dog-cat” like our friends Dave and Ali’s cat Fergus. Fergus comes to the door to greet you, fetches, wags his tail, and is in general very loving and nothing like the aloof cat stereotype.

I hadn’t wanted to get a cat, thinking that we might take another long bike trip, and then where would the cat be?

But of course we couldn’t leave a hungry kitty out in the snow, and it only took her about 2 minutes flat to worm her way into my heart.

I told Mark this morning that she’s my birthday present. Back when I was 7 years old I asked for a cat for my birthday, and my mom said she’d try. My dad was allergic, the apartment building we lived in frowned on animals, but she’d try. On my birthday I opened up a present, and it was a little yellow stuffed cat. My mom wasn’t able to do it, and offered the toy cat as a substitute. Of course I was disappointed.

I am turning 41 in a week, and have never had my own cat or dog, having lived in animal unfriendly apartments all my life.

Gertie needed a home, and we needed a mouser.

I don’t think we adopted her–I think she adopted US!