Guidelines for house cats

When a human is paying bills or doing other paper work, sit in the middle of it. When dislodged, watch sadly.  Then roll around on the papers, scattering them to the best of your ability.  After being removed the second time, push pencils, erasers, and other small objects off the table one at a time.

Allow no closed doors in the house. To get door opened, stand on hind legs and hammer with forepaws.  When the door has been opened, it is not necessary to use it.  If it is an outside door, stand in the doorway and think about several things.  This is particularly important during very cold weather, a rainstorm, or mosquito season.

At night, sleep on top of a human or on a body part. Position yourself in a way that prevents the person from moving. If the person tries to push you off gently, meow as though you are in pain.

Accompany guests to the bathroom. It is not necessary to do anything.  Just sit and stare.

When jumping into the lap of a book reader, sit directly under her chin. It’s important to get between the reader’s eyes and the book, unless you can lie across the book itself.

When a human is knitting or mending, lie on the work to obscure as much of it as possible. Pretend to doze, but every so often reach out and slap the knitting needles or other implements.  The worker may try to distract you.  Ignore this.

If you have to throw up, get to an upholstered chair quickly. If you cannot manage this in time, find an Oriental rug.  If no Oriental rug is available, a shag rug is good.  When throwing up on the carpet, make sure you back up during the process so that your deposit is as long as the human’s bare foot.

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Tom Waits, I Love You

Only this year, after my 78th birthday, did I discover Tom Waits.  Now I’m in love and it’s too late.  Tom is probably happily married and too old for this, anyway.  I’m not married, but I’m sure too old.

I’m spellbound by Tom’s gravelly, singing voice  In YouTube videos, I watch him dance on the stage like a kid, leaping into the air with the mike.

You know that Tom Waits loves women. Not in a macho way. In a soft, soulful way.  Listen to “Ole 55” or “Martha” or “Rosie.”  Any woman can hear it.  The melody and chords join the words tenderly.

Tom is outrageous, funny.  You see the rascally kid in him.  But he’s an old soul, too.  His genius makes him the sexiest man I know.

Tom Waits, I love you.

Dam Beavers

This is an actual letter sent to a man named Ryan DeVries by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality, State of Pennsylvania . Mr. Devries’s response is hilarious, but read the State’s letter first, before you get to his response letter.

SUBJECT: DEQ File No.97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County

Dear Mr. DeVries:

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across  the outlet stream of Spring Pond.

A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department’s files shows that no permits have been issued.  Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel.

All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2006. Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.

We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.


David L. Price
District Representative and Water Management Division

Here is the actual response sent back by Mr. DeVries:

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County

Dear Mr. Price,

Your certified letter dated 12/17/02 has been handed to me for my response. I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget Lane, Trout Run, Pennsylvania.

A couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood “debris” dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, authorize, or supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of nature’s building materials “debris.”
I would like to challenge your department to emulate their dam project any time an/or any place you choose.  I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills,  their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.

My first dam question to you is: (1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers, or (2) Do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request?

If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.

I have several concerns. My first concern is, aren’t the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation — so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer.

The Department’s dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event, causing flooding, is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect. In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names.

If you want the stream “restored” to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers — but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English.

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond.

If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers’ Dams). So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now. Why wait until 1/31/2006? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them at that time.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality and health problem in the area. It is the bears! Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting and prosecuting the defecating bears and leaving the beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! The bears are not careful where they dump! Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.



Life Without TV

The other night, a 10-year-old friend told me her class is celebrating No TV Week. When I went to the internet to find out more about this wonderful idea, I learned that TV-Turnoff Network, a nonprofit organization, began promoting No TV Week back in 1995. This grass roots project, started in protest of the mind-numbing shows that dominate American television, encourages families to unplug their sets for a week each year, designated No TV Week. This year it’s April 24-30.

I am definitely in the groove then, though quite by accident. Last week, when I tried to watch Judge Joe Brown, my TV was snowy and without picture or sound. A temporary cable outage, I figured. After the problem failed to clear up, I wondered whether my yard helper had severed the cable. I called Cox Cable in the morning.

One of Cox’s customer service ladies informed me my service had been disconnected. It seems my bill was over 90 days overdue. How could this be? In over 50 years of bill paying, I’ve never had anything disconnected for nonpayment!

Paying the bill online was confusing and frustrating—all the excuse I needed to put it off. Like most other companies in the digital age, Cox prefers online payment. The subject line of their billing e-mail always said “Bill ready to view.” I thought this meant I could pay if I wanted, but there was no hurry. I received lots of other e-mail from them, as well—usually promotions of some kind.

I’m sorry, but I’m like a kid who stops listening to her mom when she talks too much. My reception shuts down. If all you want me to do is view your bill, say, “Bill ready to view.” But if you want me to pay it, you’d better say “Payment due.” If you’re about to cut off the TV, you need to say “Cable service to be disconnected.” I figured Cox Cable would let me know when things got serious. “Bill ready to view” didn’t cut it.

Unfortunately, the Cox lady wasn’t interested in my suggestions for improving customer communications. She kept harping on my 90-day-overdue bill. I could almost see her with her hands on her hips and her lips pursed in disapproval. Because I was so naughty, it seemed, I must fork over a forty-dollar reconnect fee and pay for service in advance to enjoy future TV privileges.

There was no way I was going to slink off like a chastened child. I said I guessed it was time to look into satellite TV—something I’d been thinking about for awhile anyway.

This set her off again, as she warned me about the risks of signing up for satellite service those crooks who put lots of fine print in their service contracts and then bilk naive consumers. “Gosh,” I said, “thanks for sharing. Maybe I’ll just give up TV for awhile. It’s not like it’s raising my IQ or anything.”

So I’m going cold turkey. Do I miss Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, Seinfeld, or Cops? Not much. TV mostly filled the blank spaces in my life, serving much the same purpose as tabloid magazines, chocolate bars, and impulse shopping. Not deadly, but not very healthy, either.

Quitting TV reminds me of times past when I’ve had to go without a wristwatch for a few weeks. I felt a bit lost at first. I was so habituated to checking the time that I relied on it to direct my life. (“It’s six PM. I must be hungry.”) After awhile, being without a timepiece was freeing. I’d realize that I’d become a slave to clock time without knowing it.

As the days go by and my TV screen remains gray, it’s not the money I save that pleases me. It’s the freedom I’ve reclaimed