Tag: Tristan

Fifteen Things About Hamlet with Nineteen Pictures

This is our cat Hamlet.

sweet black kitten

July 8, 2010

Last May a litter of kittens showed up outside our window. Being soft-hearted cat people who hadn’t already learned their lesson trying (failing) to help a stray a year before, we felt we had to take care of them and find them homes.

litter of kittens on ground

May 24, 2010

One of them never left. My husband named him Hamlet Samuel.

kitten sleeping on cat

June 23, 2010

I can’t tell you everything about Hamlet in one blog post, but I want to record a few things that we love about him.

Hamlet cuddling with Tristan

June 26, 2010

At mealtime, while we are getting the tub of food down off the refrigerator and putting kibble in their bowls, he rubs against his brothers excitedly, with a force that makes them stumble.

three cats in one bed

June 30, 2010

Hamlet is quite coordinated and athletic. At eight weeks, he was doing things that Tristan had never been able to do, like climb on top of the refrigerator or get on the counter. The other day I saw him jump from the toilet tank to the shower curtain rod, where he balanced for a beat before stepping to the showerhead, then down to the windowsill, and finally the bathtub. He is my sweet little monkey.

kitten climbing on window bars

July 9, 2010

It took Hamlet a long time to learn to meow properly. Before then, all he said was “eee-ooh,” with varying speed and inflections. This earned him the name “Baby Eee-ooh.”

cat looking out window

August 9, 2010

Hamlet loves paper. He used to chew on whatever was on top of the wooden inbox where I put mail and bills. I had to take a library book to the circulation desk and say, apologetically, “My cat ate the cover.” Fortunately, he is largely reformed on this front.

cat shredding paper

August 12, 2010

Hamlet is a happy, confident little cat. He has always walked around with his tail held high. It curves at the end like a question mark.

cat in hallway

September 15, 2010

He was a little slow to warm up to physical affection with us. It started with little things like me realizing he was sitting on my feet while I stood at the kitchen sink, moved on to him climbing on my husband’s shins as he propped his feet on the coffee table, and then, finally, we would be eating dinner and suddenly one of us would feel a little presence in his or her lap. However, he cuddled with his big brothers from the hour his birth siblings left our house.

two cats cuddling

October 7, 2010

He has always been very responsive. He answers when you ask him a question. Often, you just have to say his name for him to say something back. He answers to “Hammy,” “Hamlet,” “Eee-ooh” (with or without “Baby” or “Commander” in front of it), or just “Baby.” We call Hamlet’s conversational noises “speaking sandwich” (get it? Hamlet Samuel? Hammy Sammy? Ham Sandwich?).

cat hanging out of catbed

October 23, 2010

He plays fetch. He will bring me a bouncy ball and drop it at my feet and wait for me to throw it. If it rolls under something and he cannot get to it, he comes back without it and looks at me expectantly. He knows I will go find it for him.

cat with toy dog

October 28, 2010

He likes the dishwasher. He has figured out how it works, and I think soon he will be able to start it on his own. If we can get it on video, he’ll be the next Nora the Piano Cat.

cats under blanket

November 1, 2010

I think one of the most endearing things about Hammy is that it never occurs to him that he may not be invited or that you may not want to share with him. Your lap looks comfortable, so he’s there. He would like to look at the iPad with you, thanks! And your bed is always his bed. He decides he wants to join you, and so he does.

little cat sleeping on big cat

November 15, 2010

He likes the television. We never watched it in our last house during the three and a half months when he lived there (we had canceled cable and moved to only watching DVDs or Hulu on our laptops), so when we turned it on in the new house, he was transfixed. He particularly was fascinated with basketball and ice skating.

cat blocking TV

November 26, 2010

Hamlet is afraid of shoes. I guess this just proves how uncivilized we are, or how rarely we leave the house, or perhaps how we never have anyone over. But, if we are wearing shoes, he would rather us not be walking towards him. He does not run away from our shod feet as quickly as he used to, but he is still wary and on alert when he hears the telltale sounds of footsteps. It doesn’t matter what kind or who’s wearing them.

cat profile

January 9, 2011

For a long time, he burped whenever he was picked up, but I think he has completely stopped that now.

cat stretching with toilet paper

February 2, 2011

Every since he was little bitty, Hamlet has gathered his toys into piles. He is very organized about it.

kitten lying on floor with toys

March 11, 2011

Hamlet’s mother showed up with her kittens at a time when our household was already stressed and frustrated. I knew when I first saw them that if we tried to care for them that we would be committing time and energy I did not feel I had, and I was hesitant. I was not at all convinced that we should keep one. But now I am so glad we did. My husband once said, “Hamlet fixes something in my heart that was broken.” After I gave him a chance, he did the same for me.

cat on top of cat in bed

May 24, 2011

Kitten-Proof Coasters

We have a lot of wooden surfaces at our house, so we like to use coasters. I recently made my husband and myself each one out of flannel.

coasters under mugs

I didn’t just wake up one day with the urge to quilt coasters, however. The impetus was a small roommate who developed a taste for cork.

cork coasters

These are ones we caught him chewing on early. We have become vigilant about storing them when not in use, but all it takes is one trip to refill one’s coffee mug, leaving Hamlet supposedly snoozing in his bed in the study, to return to a spread of little leftovers from his second breakfast all over the carpet. We bought a 25- or 30-pack of them several years ago, and we are now down to two or three, and they all have the beginnings of that Pac-Man shape.

We used to have a collection of cardboard bar coasters, but they degraded with use and we started to care more about having a house that looked like grown-ups lived in it, so most of them didn’t get moved to the last state with us and most of the rest didn’t move to this state. We only have a few special ones left.

cardboard coaster

So I decided to make coasters and thought absorbent flannel might do the trick.

Happily, I had a lot of flannel left over from previous projects, some in very husbandish colors and some pink. My compulsion to save all little leftover bits comes in handy.

flannel fabric scraps

I picked a picture for the center of each coaster and trimmed it. I didn’t measure it carefully or anything. Just trimmed.

middles cut

Then I did a little log-cabin-esque thing around it, except not in a circular way. I did not plan this out. I just sewed strips of about the right length where it looked like a strip was needed, and trimmed before adding a perpendicular strip. I ironed these as I went.

pink cat center

And I trimmed the strips themselves when they were too wide. I tried to make them slightly different widths and lengths, so that my not-measuring looked casually artistic instead of like a bunch of mistakes.

brown house center

I can’t sew anything without gaining some help.

black cat in pile of fabric

I found Tristan a bed. Here you can see my lovely studio dining room kitchen area table and my fantastic 6 by 6 inch yellow square ruler that I was using to (surprise) square everything up.

cat in bed on sewing table

You can see I worried that my pink one was too straight so as a last-ditch effort to make it funkier, I set my last dark strip at a jaunty angle.

finished pink coaster

The coaster-eater himself joined us.

two cats in bed on table

The piece of flannel I cut for each back was about three-quarters of an inch bigger than the front all the way around (so about an inch and a half wider total in both directions). I’m not sure about that (I was winging this and didn’t take notes), but I folded the sides in twice and the resulting binding is between a quarter and a half inch, so I am retrospectively declaring it as probably true.

I used craft fleece for the batting of the coaster quilt block. It is cut the same size as the coaster front. I did square up the coaster front at this stage too. My finished size was 5 by 5 inches.

layers of coaster

Then I pinned them all together and folded over the edges to create my binding. I ironed the folds at this point so I could picture the finish projects and pin them better. I did not actually quilt these. I don’t see the need.

coasters layered but not bound

“These do not look edible, Pretty Lady!”

cat on cutting mat

Percival joined us to supervise the finishing up.

cats spilling out of bed onto fabric

I sewed the binding down by hand, but it would be easier and work out just as well to do it by machine. I think I mainly did it by hand because I needed to put my machine away so we could use the table to eat on, and I also like having a little handiwork project.

finished coasters

There you have it. Two non-appetizing, durable, and cute coasters. A nice afternoon’s work.

Endnotes and Asides to “Your Moments”

This is a “part two” post. If you have not read “part one,” none of this is going to make any sense. You can find the original post here.

I worked on that last post for a week, and I have all this content that just did not fit. Like a good writer, I tried to edit it down and just include what was most relevant (now that I have attended library school I keep thinking of that as “weeding”). So here I present you all the leftover things I kind of wanted to tell you, in endnote form. It seems self-indulgent to do so, but, hey, that’s what blogs are for, right?

When I was sixteen, a boy made me a mix tape.
There is something about that sentence that fixes me in time and culture.

caption=”View from Dalkey Castle”
These photographs of Dublin were taken by my husband or me in the summer of 2000.

I heard it first about a year ago on Brenda Dayne’s podcast Cast On.
Cast On is a podcast for knitters. I am not a knitter, so you may think it is strange that I listen to it, but some of the content is not knitting-related and I do not mind that which is. Knitting is not all that different from quilting and other crafts, after all. Brenda has a soothing voice and an intimate style. Hers is one of the first podcasts I found and remains my favorite. I think knitting and podcasts go together well—it might just be (one of) my corner(s) of the internet, but I think knitters were some of the first to jump on the scene with podcasts and the crafty presence in podcasting is still strong and growing. I love it. I have about forty-five podcasts I subscribe to in iTunes (hard to tell whether a couple have quit or are just taking a while between episodes, so my number is inexact), and—I just counted—nine of them are produced by knitters.

(Actually about knitting in large part: Cast On, CraftLit, and The Knitting Librarian. Mostly about quilting, but the podcasters also knit: Hip to Be a Square, Patchwork and Pacifiers, Quilted Cupcake, and Sew, Stitch, Create. About crafting in general, and the podcasters knit: CraftSanity and Creative Mom. [And not about crafts at all, but the podcaster crochets and talks about it on Cast On: QN Podcast.])

Brenda played it again recently, so when I had some free Amazon mp3 credits to use, I remembered it and downloaded it.
I prefer to buy my music on CDs for multiple reasons (and then import it to iTunes too), but I can’t pass up free gifts. I’m sure you’re dying to know what else I downloaded. Okay, I got Jonatha Brooke‘s “Linger” and Kate Voegele‘s version of the Leonard Cohen “Hallelujah.” I was going to get the Rufus Wainwright version, but after I searched by song title and came up with a page of hits, I just clicked on “sample all” and chose her partly because I wanted to support and try someone I hadn’t heard of and partly because I could sing along with her well.

I think it had me with the piano, and then it had me again when I heard the word “book.”
I have not played the piano regularly for more than twice as many years as I played the piano regularly. But I still think of the piano as my instrument and am drawn to it.

I have been reading The Man Who Lied to His Laptop, which is about human-computer interaction. The author, Clifford Nass, talks about research showing that we are much more likely to respond positively to people (and machines, it turns out) who reflect ourselves, who share traits and similarities, both physical and otherwise.

So am I drawn to piano-playing mezzo-sopranos because that’s how I identify myself? Do I like piano in my songs because I grew to love the piano through playing for many years or do I just appreciate the effort and skill that goes into piano playing? Or is there something in a person that leads her to wanting to play the piano and both these musicians and I have it? (Not that I would compare my childhood piano “career” to anything a professional does with the instrument.) Ah, the classic nature/nurture/it’s more complicated conundrum.

It was one of those songs that made me stop what I was doing in the kitchen so I could concentrate on listening.
And then I was very proud of myself for actually going and finding my cute little Moleskine book and writing down the name of the artist and song. However, although I am good at collecting, I am not so good at the doing something with the things I collect, and so a year later when I heard the song again, I still hadn’t gotten the information out of the notebook and done anything about it.

A quick search confirmed that the words are by William Butler Yeats.
Katy Wehr comments briefly on this in an article in Image (about a third of the way down). She likens writing the music to someone else’s words to a conversation. I like that. Also, she reveals that she is a quilter.

old scrappy quilt

I love using leftover fabric from an older quilt project in a new one—it creates a continuing story between projects.

(That quilt was made by my great-grandmother. And didn’t she match my color scheme well?)

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
I haven’t want to spoil the poem/song any by reading interpretations or criticism of it, but when I was searching for a source to copy the words from, those little snatches of pages in Google kept catching my eye. It’s a wedding poem, a Valentine’s Day poem, but a classic “dark” poem. The speaker is a former lover, or it’s about unrequited love, or it’s written for a beloved. Huh. Seems like the authors of those free essays on the internet don’t quite agree with each other! We’ll have to think for ourselves.

I sat at my computer and listened to the song on my iPod nano with the earbuds in, reading the words while I did.
This confused the cats. They came and looked at me because they knew no one else was home and they couldn’t hear the music I was singing to. Percy in particular was very interested. He climbed up on the desk and stuck his face inches from my face. He has this look that he gets when he can’t figure out what you are doing but he is trying so very hard to understand.

cat in window looking at camera

What is going on, Pretty Lady?

caption=”Dublin Writers Museum”
I think the most eyeopening and culture-shocky thing about visiting Dublin was the way it celebrates its strong literary tradition. There are tributes to writers and literary figures throughout the city. Writers! A statue of James Joyce just hanging out on a busy street. A monument to Samuel Beckett, clearly a tourist attraction. Plaques in their parks and signs on their buildings, everywhere, mentioning writers and books. The most fascinating thing about the Dublin Writers Museum to me was that it existed, a whole museum dedicated to people like me.

I wasn’t sure what the “mention in the news of the world” line was, but after I looked it up on a lyrics site, I was able to learn the rest of the words by listening to the song on repeat.
Are there any sites more annoying than lyrics ones? I really tried to choose the least irritating ones to link to, but I’m sure you will encounter some fun pop-ups and flashy crap anyway, and for that I am sorry.

It surprises me that this method works for me, because I think of myself as a visual learner. It may only work if I’ve seen the lyrics and can picture them as necessary. One of my college roommates was a music major and singer. She learned the words to her songs by writing them over and over when she was supposed to be taking notes in her other classes. She’d write as much as she could, look at the lyrics, and then start over, writing as much as she could again. I don’t think I’ve ever tried that.

Every other day, on the way to the community college six miles away and back home again, on repeat—by the end of the week, I knew every word.
And then the next week I printed out the lyrics for my composition class and played them the song. They were writing personal essays, and I was trying to show them how collages worked. It occured to me that “Red Dirt Girl” was a collage essay in song form. You learn about Lillian through these little snapshots of her life given by the speaker. I’m not sure whether they appreciated it or not. They were a hard class to read. But if you teach writing, you may steal that idea from me.

girl pushing boy in wheelbarrow

Loves her brother—I remember back when.

When we’d buy CDs without them, my roommate and I would have to sit with our heads near the speakers and ask, “Okay, there, what is she saying about the moon? Rewind it.”
Yeah, I know, we’re talking about CDs, not tapes, so there’s no rewinding, but some of us are probably going to be rewinding discs and dialing cell phone numbers until we die. Or until those brain implants they’re going to invent any day now make discs and phones obsolete.

I had—or, my family had—one of those old boomboxes with only one side, and I would keep a blank tape in it and hit “record” when something I liked came over KKNG FM 92.5.
And I felt lucky to have such an advanced recorder! This was a step up from my clock radio, which had melted under the light of my bed lamp so that the alarm switch was permanently set to “on.”

I found pages from this notebook recently: a weird embarrassing mix of Air Supply and Dan Fogelberg from the radio, Xeroxed hymns and Amy Grant from church choir, and lots of John Denver handcopied from sheet music books checked out of the library.
One of the joys of moving is running across collections like that. I seem to have a lot of them (as I said above, I’m good at the collecting). I keep throwing things away (weeding), but then more surface. Oh, you want to see? Okay.

handwritten song lyrics

Are you more amazed at how things change or how they stay the same?

I’ve forgotten lots of things, but I can’t forget these words that I took the time to learn so thoroughly. I know them now, and they’re part of me.
So now they are in my head and I can sing them out loud when no one is home but me and the cats. And perhaps sometimes I pick up Tristan and make him dance with me.

cat in window looking with love

He fills up my senses.

Where I’m Writing From and Other Stories

This is the condensed version. I may expand on some of this in future posts. I’m fairly confident that anyone who currently reads this knows what I’ve been up for the last few months, but for the sake of posterity and as a way of easing back into writing more often, I’ll summarize.

At the end of May, we happened into a litter of kittens and their adolescent mama. We took them all to the vet and then brought them inside and cared for them.

mama cat and three kittens

In early June, I started teaching a summer class. Graduate-level class + summer school + never taught it before + other job duties = a lot of work.

By late June, we had found a home for two of the kittens. It became apparent that the little black one, however, had moved in for good. His name is Hamlet and he is delightful.

cat and kitten in cardboard box

At the end of June, I flew to Washington, DC, to attend ALA. It was overwhelming but exciting. I’d been home less than 24 hours before I left again for a short campus visit and job interview.

crowded room of people watching presentation

In July, I finished teaching my summer course. In August, I helped my superviser prepare for the start of classes. I am neither teacher nor student this fall, but working for a university meant I was involved in various back-to-school activities.

In late August, the husband and I decided to move 1234 miles west. I flew out to meet a friend in our new city, chose a house on September 1st, and returned home to pack everything up.

We donated several hundred books to a library book sale, threw the wedding china and too many unfinished craft projects in a moving truck, and filled the backseat of the car with cat carriers. By September 15th, we were standing on the porch of our new residence.

cat carriers in backseat of car

kitten sitting in hallway of empty house

I skipped over some things, but that’s the gist. We like it here in our new place. We aren’t quite settled in yet, but so far October’s shaping up to be a good month and the fresh mountain air and sunshine makes us happy.

cat looking out window at sky