Sunday, February 28, 2010

If a Chicken is Friendly and Other Thoughts

  • If people have to tell you they have a good sense of humor, they don't.
  • If a guy leads with, "now I'm not the brightest guy", he isn't, but he wants you to tell him he is.
  • If a woman says, "I used to be quite the looker", she wants you to affirm that she still is.
  • If anyone admits they sometimes have a flatulence problem, believe them.
  • If a man (other than my father) says he's just a simple redneck, he is.
  • If you have a Ph.D., you are ineligible for redneck consideration, no matter how cool you think it is Dad.
  • If someone tells a racist joke, I have no sense of humor.
  • If people claim to be safe drivers, remember that 9 out of 10 drivers think the same thing, but 8 out of 10 drivers will get in an accident in their lifetime.
  • If anyone tells you they are pretty laid back or easy going, there's a good chance they are more uptight than they know.
  • If people like to talk mostly about themselves, they have no idea how truly boring they are (but they make a good salesperson).
  • If anyone feels it necessary to tell you they are good at something without being asked, they're insecure about how good they really are.
  • If someone doesn't seem to talk much, consider they're probably not being aloof and could just be shy. Either that or you give them the creeps.
  • If a dog seems very friendly, it is. Dogs don't lie.
  • If a dog seems very nervous around you, be nervous.
  • If a cat seems very friendly, it could be like that all the time, or it could be manipulating you for its own personal pleasure.
  • If a chicken seems very friendly, it wants you to feed it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Day at the Airport

Last Tuesday was one of those days. I had to drive to Logan airport in Boston to pick Kelsey up. Kelsey had a long weekend with Monday and Tuesday off school so she took the time to fly and visit her father in South Carolina. The airport in Providence or Hartford is much more convenient but with this being a popular week for winter break, the airlines jacked their prices up obscenely. Trans Air in Boston seemed the most reasonable way to go. When I had dropped Kelsey off the Friday before, I'd underestimated how long and difficult it would be to decipher the parking garage system at Logan and we were cut short on time. So I wanted to allow plenty of time to get there, park and be there waiting for my daughter who was flying for the first time by herself, too old now to be considered an unaccompanied minor and escorted by the airline through her connecting flight in Baltimore. Kelsey has flown many times with her brother and a few times as an official unaccompanied minor so she's not a novice, but she was a nervous 14-year-old.

After I'd been on the road about 20 minutes, I realized I'd forgotten my cell phone at home. I debated going back to get it, uneasy about being two hours away from home with no easy way to communicate. I decided against returning because I didn't want to risk being late to Boston. It was snowing that day with 6-8 inches expected in Boston. However, Kelsey's flight left Charlotte on time and the website showed all flights going as planned. You can see what's coming, right? Delay after delay. I was finally told her flight was circling over Logan, waiting for clearance to land. Then her flight was deleted off the monitor and someone waiting in the baggage claim area with me said they'd heard Flight 324 was cancelled. Trying to control my panic, I went upstairs to the Air Tran ticket counter to ask. Yes, the flight was cancelled and returned to Baltimore because after an hour or more of circling Logan Airport, the snow made it unsafe for any planes to land. Here I was with no cell phone and my 14-year-old daughter is back in Baltimore with no clear idea of when and if she was going to make it back to Boston. My chest tightened, my breathing became rapid and I realized I was going to hyperventilate, have an anxiety attack or burst into tears if I didn't calm down. Doing all three seemed very likely at times, but I somehow got control of myself.
The next several hours could have been a nightmare and many would assume it was. However, once I called Jay and had him relay information between us, I accepted that although I didn't have the convenience of a cell phone, I would make the best of the situation. If it looked like Kelsey would be stuck in Baltimore, she does have an aunt living in the area who could get her. Jay spent the better part of his afternoon and evening talking back and forth to Kelsey.
Of course, there were many other people in the same boat I was in at the airport. We formed a relationship of sorts. One woman named Nancy overheard me talking to an airport employee about my plight. She let me use her cell phone, even left me in baggage claim with her phone while she went to use the restroom. Nancy was trying to get to Baltimore. She offered to take Kelsey in at her hotel in Baltimore if they were both stranded there for the night, promising that she wasn't a weirdo. Fortunately we didn't have to take her up on her offer plus we did have Aunt Ann Marie as a backup. Nancy is one of those people who restores your faith in human kindness with her caring and generosity.
While studying the monitor in the Air Trans terminal, I struck up a conversation with two men. Judging by his accent, he was a Boston native. He was there to meet his wife and kids returning from Florida. He had brought their new Boston (what else?) Terrier puppy with him. The other man admitted that although his girlfriend had been lobbying for a dog, he wasn't crazy about the idea. That was before he met Sadie, the puppy. Within minutes the non-dog man was sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the flight monitors with Sadie in his lap. She licked his fingers for a while then fell asleep on her new fan.
I also met a man from Connecticut waiting for his fiancé's flight to arrive from Ohio.
"What part of Connecticut?"
"Ledyard." I expected him to either not know where Ledyard was or to connect it with the casinos, Ledyard's claim to fame.
"You're kidding! I live in Ledyard." He later introduced me to his fiancé who arrived while I was still waiting for Kelsey's flight. They're getting married this weekend.
The temporary friendships formed were a good distraction for me. I also purchased a paperback book called Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese which is very intriguing so far. This was another plus to my predicament; I never take the time to read novels at home. I even found $4 on the floor. The cynical me wished it was larger bills rather than singles because the parking garage was surely going to cost a wee bit more than $4 by the time I left. I wandered around waiting for more money to appear on the floor.
I spent more than $4 in change making calls from the pay phone, giving out my pay phone number so Jay and Kelsey could call me back rather than get cut off after 4 minutes. I saw no need to splurge on a pre-paid phone card with more minutes than I'd ever use. After all, Kelsey was going to land in the next hour, right? How many times did that schedule change?
As I was once again checking the status of Kelsey's flight at the Air Tran counter, a man came up who was obviously irritated with the whole situation. I was reassured that this time Kelsey's flight was going to land in Boston, due at 11:58 pm. I remarked rather nonchalantly that if in fact she did land then, I would've been waiting at the airport for eleven hours. Should we go for twelve? The other man looked at me in disbelief and visibly relaxed, "Well, you've got me beat," he said.
Kelsey's plane finally landed around midnight and as a bonus, her luggage made it in good time also. I was so hyped up on ice coffee and No Doz that I had no issues with staying awake on the drive home, occupying my mind by talking to Kelsey then replaying the day's events after she went to sleep. Kelsey has sworn off ever flying again, declaring it to be the worst day of her life. I'm relieved to finally get my baby back and realized that although the day was less than ideal, it wasn't hell for me. It was a glass half-full/half-empty kind of day. Speaking of which, another incident happened on the drive home soon after Kelsey fell asleep. I took a swig of water from my water bottle and choked. I spewed the water on my lap and had a major coughing fit, hard enough that it sounded like I was vomiting and woke Kelsey up. Hey, at least the fleece gloves I had sitting in my lap soaked up most of the water. It could've been worse, right?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Myths and Misconceptions

Dracoonfly Ginger Cattis, a red classic tabby & white with her 3 red boys

A young lady called the house last night, inquiring if this was the Dracoonfly Maine Coon place. I replied it was. She then asked where I was located so I told her the name of the town, spelling it out slowly at least 3 times. Her next question: What hours are you open? This was by no means the least clued-in person who has called about kittens, but it was the first where someone assumed I had store hours and could drop in and window shop for a kitten. I tried to be patient; this is my home, not a store. My kittens are almost always reserved in advance. They are born in my bedroom. Potential buyers must complete an application and be approved before I'll even put them on the waiting list. I tried, but I knew my explanations were useless. We ended the conversation 3 minutes later than I would've liked. Sometimes it just isn't worth the effort to explain.

Another misconception is that because the Maine Coon is a large, imposing-looking cat (or just because it's a cat), it is supposed to go outside. I actually had a man tell me years ago that he thought a Maine Coon would be the right breed for him because it was "big enough to handle the coyotes". To put it in monetary terms, why would a "cat lover" spend $800 plus on a kitten and then risk its life by allowing it to roam outside? Hey, I grew up in the time when cats lived outside and nobody got their cat "fixed". Unfortunately, most of our cats didn't make it past the age of four and many didn't even reach adulthood. Cats were disposable pets back then. I hope the time will come when all cat owners value their kitties enough to keep them safely indoors.

Other cat misconceptions:
  • Male cats are more affectionate than females
  • All torbie or tortie females have "torbietude" (this is like saying all red-heads have quick tempers or all blonds are dumb)
  • Red tabby males are sweet and stupid (another colorist statement)
  • All red tabbies are male (FACT: approximately 1/3 of the reds are female so males are the majority in this color)
  • Only male cats spray
  • Female cats don't like to play or are aloof
  • All long-haired tabbies must be at least part Maine Coon
  • All cats over 20 pounds must be part Maine Coon
  • Hens need a rooster in order to lay eggs (just seeing if you're paying attention)
  • True Maine Coons have an "M" on their foreheads (Animal Planet gets partial credit for starting this one)
  • Cats, like dogs, can be labeled as a breed (FACT: only 4% of all cats are pedigreed, the rest are just cats)
  • Maine Coons should weigh over 30 pounds (FACT: if it does, it is overweight)
  • The Maine Coon developed from a raccoon breeding a domestic cat
  • Dry cat food is better for their teeth
  • Only Maine Coon cats get hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  • The fur of a Maine Coon is hypo-allergenic
  • Pregnant women need to get rid of their cats in case they get toxoplasmosis
  • You can make a lot of money breeding cats
Those are some of the myths and misconceptions I've encountered over the years. If anyone has any others (or "facts" they've always wondered about), feel free to comment or send them to me and I'll post it.

Dracoonfly Salmon Candy, another red classic tabby female

Friday, February 5, 2010

Response from Mister Duncan MacBeth

Dear Sharon,

Hello! Mom and Dad just read your blog and were thoroughly surprised to find the story of my re-naming on there. They were just as delighted, however, to see my photo and to fondly recall that that's how I looked when they came to adopt me all those years ago. In fact, they're currently celebrating my sixth birthday - and making far too big a deal of it, if you ask me.

But my, how I've grown. I am enormous, in the most attractive way. Though Sadie has the biggest attitude I've ever come across, I trump her when it comes to sheer density (Editor's note: Sadie is Duncan's slightly older feline sister from another litter). Mom and Dad have been working for months now to regulate my diet, and I suppose I'm a little svelter than when they started, but the truth is this. I. LOVE. FOOD.

I also love Dad's music, and one of my favorite things to do is curl up in his guitar case (it's lined with the coolest purple fur!) while he's playing guitar. And I love sunshine and the dining room rug, and having my bedroom all to myself when Sadie is otherwise occupied.

Mom and Dad keep fawning over the fact that I'm six years old - I'm just yawning. I mean, what's in a number, anyway? Unless, of course, we're counting snacks (Feline Greenies rule!), in which case, I'm all over that kind of keeping score. As I alluded to earlier, they've gotten much stingier when it comes to kibbles and treats, but I'm inclined to make the best of a trying situation. After all, I've managed to co-exist with Sadie for all this time.

Well, I've got another nap to take, so I'll sign off - but not before wishing you, Jay and everyone at Dracoonfly a very happy weekend.


Mister Duncan MacBeth=

My reply to Duncan:

Well hello Birthday Boy! So good to hear from you! I love your note so much I'd like to use it for my next blog. I'd forgotten what a good writer you (and Sadie) are.

You know, one way to trim the pounds for kitties of your caliber is to eat less dry food (too many carbs) and eat more canned food. Do you like canned food? If so, then maybe Mom and Dad can mix a tablespoon of a special treat called Metamucil in it. It's yummy and will help you lose weight safely without feeling hungry.

I hope you had a wonderful birthday. BTW, Sadie's half-birthday is tomorrow...she'll be 6 1/2. Try to be a nice little brother. Give Sadie a headbutt for me and my best to your Mom and Dad.