Getting into the spirit

We put up the tree today.

Long-term readers will note that in years past (seven, to be exact – which coincidentally matches up with the number of years Rupert has been a member of our household – go figure!) this has been a very cat-involved process. After all, when one has cats that regularly treat the Christmas tree as just another jungle gym, one accumulates a selection of inexpensive, non-breakable ornaments and keeps all the nice, breakable ones packed securely away for the distant future when this is no longer a problem. And after the first year or so we just sort of shrugged and pretty much embraced the cat-infested tree, and I admit I actually sort of look forward to seeing who scales it first.

We pulled the tree box out. Sherman practiced looking innocent.

We opened up the box. Rupert and Sherman immediately had to investigate.

First section set up. Rupert came over and sniffed but then basically did the cat equivalent of shrugging and ignored it.

Nutmeg’s enthusiasm for the whole process, meanwhile, was palpable.

Sherman – who’s been our primary ‘supervisor’ in years past, climbed up briefly, but once a branch accidentally smacked him in the face, he wandered off. He bounced around the room a bit, but climbing the tree just wasn’t on his mind.

We put up all the ornaments – a couple cats came over to investigate those and Sherman did the customary taste-test on the tree lights (for some reason he really likes to gnaw on them. Luckily they’re made of super-thick plastic so he can’t hurt them).

The fully decorated tree, with a festive top.

A close-up of the tree topper. The Santa hat is what makes him festive. Ho, ho, he’ll drive you all insane, ho.

Later we decided to decorate Nutmeg, who is clearly thrilled by the experience.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

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Delicate balance

I flew home last night. The plane I was on was less than 60% full. I know this because they called up all the people in rows 8 – 11 and re-seated them elsewhere because apparently if the plane is that empty and everyone is in the front then it gets nose-heavy and isn’t safe to fly or something. Of course, the fun part of this is that rows 8 – 11 were all the economy-plus seats, where the frequent travelers who didn’t make the first class upgrade cut get to sit with a couple inches more leg room.

I am not sure how I feel about the fact that a massive piece of machinery capable of traveling great distances through the sky can be apparently be brought down by 24 people sitting in the wrong spot. But luckily, despite the great lamentations and woe that all the re-seated people expressed, many at length, to the gate agents during the entire re-seating process, everyone stayed in their new seats and we all made it to SF in one piece. Yay.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

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The hotel room has a bathroom scale. Why? Who decided this should be a thing?

There is a bench in one of the elevators in the hotel. I am confused by this. The hotel only has ten floors. It isn’t as if it takes a really long time to travel up or down. I mean, major high rise, okay, it could be useful for a quick cat nap, but 10 stories?

“Our restaurant just earned a Michelin Star,” I was told when I first checked in, “so if you’d like to dine there, you’ll need to make reservations.” After the very long meeting yesterday I brought up the restaurant website and took a look at the prices. HA HA HA NEVER MIND, and this is why one doesn’t dine at Michelin Star restaurants when one is traveling for business and I totally earned that peanut butter shake after I had to walk all over the damn place to get more reasonably priced food so STOP JUDGING ME hotel bathroom scale.

There is an ice bucket in my room. This is normal for a hotel room. What isn’t normal is the loud crackling noises that startled the patooties out of me as I sat there, enjoying my (locally sourced, hipster-produced) cheeseburger in complete defiance of Judgy McJudgyScale in the bathroom, and continued until I realized that the sounds were from the ice in the ice bucket, settling. The ice that I DID NOT PUT THERE. So, apparently policy in this place is to fill up the ice buckets. This perplexes me on so many levels, not the least of which is that they did this alongside the notice about conserving water.

One final note. I realize that the world is changing and technology is taking over, but it is very cruel to make a tired person who is suffering from jet lag and also insomnia (because hello, wide-awake at 3am – whee!) try to figure out a complicated coffee making doodad in order to ingest the caffeine that is required in order to figure out a complicated coffee-making doodad.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

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Room with a view

The building in which we are meeting is a massive behemoth that takes up an entire city block and is a maze of hallways intersecting the original (which was basically your standard concrete bunker type office building) and the newer additions.

The women’s bathroom nearest our meeting room is a tiny little thing that was clearly designed long before ADA was a twinkle in anyone’s eye. They have inserted one of those privacy panels so that when you walk in the door, it blocks the view of the rest of the bathroom, and you have to maneuver around the panel in order to get to the main part of the space.

Why am I telling you this? Because as I was drying my hands and turning towards the door, I was a bit startled to see a man’s face staring back at me.

Turns out there’s a floor-to-ceiling mirror opposite the privacy panel, so one can check one’s appearance as one is walking out the door. And on the privacy panel itself there is a large poster, advertising some kind of program available for sign-up, that happens to have a life-sized face on it. Right at eye level. Reflected in the mirror I hadn’t noticed before.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

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En route

I flew to DC today, for work. Because it would take less time for me to drive to San Francisco and take the direct flight across the country, than to fly out of Sacramento and deal with the inevitable layover, I left the house at 9am for a 1pm flight. This worked reasonably well, as I missed the worst of the morning rush hour (although there is really no escaping the Berkeley brake check if one is driving in daylight hours, and we shall not speak of the toll plaza crunch).

On the way to the airport, I saw a car with the license plate “CATBUS1”, and I had so many questions! Does it belong to a person who does cat rescue? A vet? Are the cats commuting to work? If this is Cat Bus 1, does this then suggest that somewhere out there is a Cat Bus 2, or more? Can one sign up to ride on the Cat Bus? Is this a potential career option I hadn’t ever considered? And also, is it possible I haven’t had nearly enough caffeine yet?

The flight to DC was uneventful, in that there was very little turbulence, I had an empty seat next to me, and I got a lot of knitting done. The taxi ride to the hotel was fun, because the driver was very chatty and somehow we got on the subject of that big Powerball jackpot a year or so back, and what we would do with it, and it turns out he’d given it a *lot* of thought, so we came to an agreement that, should one happen to win 1.6 billion bucks, real estate is totally the way to go, and if the words ‘and you could also then buy a presidential election’ were uttered, well, that’s between the two of us.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

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It’s the little things

Today started far earlier for a Saturday than some of us might prefer (okay, by ‘some of us’ I mean Richard because due to a number of issues, only some of which are furry, I pretty much never sleep past 6am anyway) because we had haircut appointments at 8am and there was no way we were skipping that because we were both feeling really shaggy. So once that was done, we hit a couple stores because I had this hope that maybe, just maybe, we could get all the remaining Christmas shopping done early for a change. Hah – if only (although we did cross a few more names off the list), but since there was a PetSmart right there in the same big open shopping mall, I suggested we swing by, just to look. Four bucks later (because cat humiliation is always better when it’s on clearance!), we headed home, cackling evilly.

For the better part of the day I have been swooping down on unsuspecting cats, stuffing this on their heads, and then frantically snapping pictures of their ensuing death stares while laughing hysterically. Because nothing says Happy Holidays like cats plotting your slow and painful demise!





‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

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Pretend the one with the golf club is orange…

The past couple days have been a bit of a scramble, what the usual work stuff, and some non-work projects needing to be finished up and sent off. The number of holiday decorations popping up all over the place grows exponentially every time I turn around in the office, more and more neighbors are putting up their lights, which means our house looks even more Scrooge-like in its stubborn non-lit darkness, and this is the time of year when I am grateful that I do not listen to the radio in my car during my (short) commute anymore, since that means I can then avoid the inevitable overload of yet another wannabe pop star massacring a Christmas tune.

Uh. So. In other words, I am finding it a bit hard to get into the holiday spirit this year. 

Which is why this seems somehow appropriate (click here if the preview doesn’t automatically display below). 

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

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Oh look, it’s that time of year again

It’s December 1st, which means it’s time to dust off this blog and try once again to post daily for a whole month (driven primarily by the deep feelings of guilt when I inevitably don’t make it because I’m one the people running this whole thing and really, if anyone ought to be posting daily, it’s me).

So. Yay. Welcome back to Holidailies! If you’re new here, I hope you’re prepared for a whole lot of blather about knitting, and cats, interspersed with the occasional ramble about baking or singing, oh, and also, special for this year, now with bonus politics-based frothing at the mouth, because for some weird reason the fact that this country just STUPIDLY elected an immature thin-skinned orange narcissistic imbecile whose reaction to pretty much everything is to throw a tantrum on Twitter, and who actively embraces racism, misogyny, science denial, and bigotry, just brings out my rage.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

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A trio

Three things that make me happy today:

  • A KitchenAid with a dough hook.
  • A proofing bucket 
  • Fresh-from-the-oven baked rolls with cream cheese and homemade Spiced Tomato Jam.
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Being other

A long, long, time ago, my Girl Scout troop worked on a badge with a requirement where we had to somehow experience some type of disability.

The normal response to this sort of thing would be to blindfold everyone and have them experience what it would be like to be blind. You have all probably either done this, or seen other people do it. The problem with this sort of exercise, of course, is that by virtue of the blindfold, it is very clear to everyone around them exactly what is going on. So while the person *wearing* the blindfold can’t see, anyone watching knows full well that they’re not really blind at all.

So in order for us to fulfill this particular requirement, our troop decided to do something a bit different. By some quirk of fate, the assistant leader had access to certain equipment, and so on the evening in question, she showed up with a whole bunch of wheelchairs.

These were manual-operated chairs, so we all had to practice for a bit to get the hang of how to maneuver them (it wasn’t easy). There were also only enough for half of us to use at a time, so it was decided we’d do it in two parts. We divided into pairs, and within each pairing, one girl was in the wheelchair when we all went out to dinner, while the second girl got the chair afterwards, during a trip to a shopping mall, with the walking half of the pair there to help maneuver, and to provide any assistance that the chair-occupying half would need. We were, of course, admonished to be very careful; that we were not to treat this as a joke and therefore offend people; that those who were in the chairs were to use them as if they truly could not move their legs. Once we’d all gotten the hang of how to use them, we loaded everything into a couple vans and set off.

I do not recall whether the troop leader had called ahead to let them know there’d be a lot of people in wheelchairs at the restaurant, although I’m sure she had to at least make a reservation and check to make sure the space was handicap accessible. This was, by the way, before the  Americans with Disabilities Act and all its related building requirements became law, which is possibly why we ended up having such a hard time in the bathroom – we couldn’t figure out how to maneuver the chairs into the handicap stall and eventually just had one half of the pair stand guard to make sure no one else was coming into the restroom while the other quickly used the facilities and then hopped back into the chair with no one the wiser.

Afterwards, we loaded everything back up into the vans and headed off to a shopping mall, where we swapped out who was the walker and who was the chair-bound person. I was in the chair in the mall, and I remember having fun, toodling around in the stores, checking out clothing, trying to figure out how to find the elevator in the department store, laughing and having a grand time in a group and generally just acting like normal teenage girls.

And then at the end of the evening, we all piled back into the vans and we drove back to wherever it was we’d first met up, and we turned in the chairs, and we went on with our lives,

I am not telling you this story in order to claim that, by virtue of having spent a couple hours in a wheelchair, I suddenly gained insight into what it is like to live with a physical disability, because clearly, no.

I am telling you this story because of the thing that I remember most about the whole experience. 

Not everyone treated us differently. Most of them just went about their business, or smiled hello, or just generally treated us like any other pack of giggling teenage girls out for an evening, having fun.

But I remember that in the restaurant, the wait staff, when they came to take our orders, never asked the girls in the chairs what they wanted to eat. Instead they asked the visibly ‘able-bodied’ person sitting next to them what the chair-bound person wanted.

And I remember that in the mall, that the general reactions were to either outright ignore us, or else to shy away from us,as if being in a wheelchair was somehow catching. I remember that when we tried to go buy some ice cream, that the clerk literally could not see us over the counter; that the ‘able-bodied’ girls were the ones who had to get their attention, and that they, too, didn’t seem to know how to address us directly.

I was pretty oblivious as a child. I have it on good authority that I was also pretty oblivious as a teenager. I am sure that even as an adult, I am still not as aware of everything around me as I really ought to be.

But I remember what it felt like, to be treated as ‘less than’, simply because I was sitting in a wheelchair. And to watch my friends being treated as ‘less than’ as well.

I bet that every single person who made a joke at our expense that night would be quick to defend that *they* don’t discriminate.

And I am sure that if you asked the wait staff – the ones who directed all their questions to the ‘able-bodied’ and not to the chair-bound girls – if they discriminated, they would insist that they didn’t.

But just because they didn’t mean to be hurtful, doesn’t make their behavior any less wrong.

We all have our own biases, against those who are ‘other’ to us. It might be color of skin, or gender, or sexual orientation, or religion, or culture, or any of a myriad of different reasons. And we can all claim as much as we want that *we’re* not racist; *we’re* not sexist; *we* don’t see color; *we* don’t discriminate.

But every single one of us has, at some point in the past, said or done things that made someone else feel ‘less than’, whether we actively meant to or not. And every single one of us will at some point in the future, do or say things that makes someone else feel ‘less than’, and whether we mean to do it or not doesn’t matter if the insult has been made.

But more importantly, every single one of us will see, or hear, someone around us say, or do something that demeans people for being ‘other’ – whether it is their weight, or their religion, or their sexual orientation, or their gender, or their race, or their culture, or their political party, and on and on. It might be said as a joke, even though it isn’t funny. It might be said in anger, even though that should never be a justification. It might be yet another report in the news, or a story shared online, of someone who, once again, has been pushed aside, or stopped by the police, or sexually assaulted, or killed, or even just pecked away at, over and over again, by the relentless racism and sexism and ableism that is so deeply, firmly ingrained in this society.

But when we do not speak up to say ‘hey, that’s not okay’, we are part of the problem.

When we insist ‘oh, it’ can’t be that bad, ‘ or ‘well she must have been asking for it,’ or ‘he must have done something to *deserve* being beaten or shot’, or ‘those radicals who enact terrible acts in the name of their religion *clearly* speak for all of them’, or ‘you’re just being too sensitive’, or ‘can’t you take a joke?’ or, or, or, then we are part of the problem.

When we get uncomfortable with being called on our complacency and splutter back with #NotAllMen, #NotAllChristians, #NotAllWhites instead of actually *listening* to the people who are telling us ‘look, these things are happening, they are real, they exist’ and doing our best to see things from their point of view, we are part of the problem.

We shouldn’t have to be the one to experience the racial profiling, or the sexism, or the nasty comments, or the discrimination, in order to recognize and accept that it exists.

We just have to be willing to listen. We have to look outside of our own insulated social bubbles and pay attention. And we have to speak up, even when it’s uncomfortable, or inconvenient (*especially* then) and keep speaking up, over and over, until things change.

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