The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Archive for the ‘Alien Pets’ Category

Word of the Day: Pumeism

No, it’s not a real word. It’s actually one of those stupid alphabet salad things you have to type to prove that you’re a human. But sometimes those things make me laugh. Especially when I’m sick and my brain isn’t too sharp. So, given that I have bronchitis and am drinking cough syrup right out of the bottle, I thought pumeism seemed like a good word.

I think it has to do with pumas. As in the religion in which one worships a puma. Sort of like proof that cats were right all along and they really ARE gods.

Which brings me to this. I know, it’s bad. But the good ones wouldn’t embed. For the Garrison Keillor fans out there, you know the translation. Join me as we sing along:


I’m a cat and

You are not

And cannot be

And I don’t care.

And another six months pass….

Okay, it’s time to start blogging again. I know that. I’m lazy. Well, I’m not lazy, I’ve just been busy. But enough is enough.

So here’s the news:

  • We are expecting. Yes, you read that right. We are going to have a granddaughter (another one) in August. Her name is Emma-Sofia Pilar  and we already adore her AND her name.
  • We went to Texas in the spring to see the old grandchildren. Too much fun, even if the weather was crap. We took the Contortionist with us and we all had a great time. The Army Guy got to take the week off and our oldest daughter had the week off as well. Since the kids had spring break that week, we all sat around a played WII games. It may sound boring. I thought it was wonderful. The Grandboy beat the crap out of us at all games. The Grandgirl celebrated her 12th birthday by taking us all out for lunch and a manicure. My first manicure. (And, actually, I paid….but it was her plan. A girl’s day out. That kid is being raised right from the start.)
  • A dear friend, The Priest,  got lung cancer even though she never smoked and ten weeks after diagnosis she died. It was sudden and awful and I’ll probably have more to say but not right now. The funeral was Sunday. It’s still too soon.
  • Two days after The Priest died, Jenny lost control of my 2002 Prius leaving the freeway at the Gee Creek rest stop just north of Vancouver. The antilock brakes locked, we spun, and we hit an aluminum pole. Thank God those things are engineered to fall apart. But seeing a huge pole coming down on top of you is something I never want to see again. The car did what it was designed to do. Namely, die. The crush zones, or whatever they call them, all crushed.  The pole intruded 12 inches into the car, right through the door handle, and smashed Jenny’s elbow and broke her ribs. They had to cut her out of the car. No fun. Fortunately, other than a hateful attitude toward her pain meds, she’s doing okay. I was bumped, bruised, battered, and baffled. I’m still not focusing well, but so it goes.
  • Sophie the cat died. We had given her to our house sitter because the cat, who never accepted the fact that we had kids, had a really hard time after we got a dog and three more cats. The house sitter had her for a couple of months and then she died. She was old, so it wasn’t that odd. But the house sitter wanted her to be buried out here so the Contortionist and Jenny gave her a proper burial while I was out at a church meeting.
  • I have a new car. The car is a 2005 Prius. I tried really hard to buy a Honda, but Toyota’s are in my blood. It is loaded with everything but I’m going to have to get a new cell phone now because the stupid G1 won’t sync phone books with the car.
  • I actually have some things I want to write about, but not right now. I’m sort of tired and that focus thing is still sort of a problem.

More soon.

Creative Everyday Update Week 2.5

Okay, so I’m late. I’ve been busy. Yes, I was playing a new MMORPG, but that’s not all. This week my creative efforts have centered on writing a sermon. I’ve had this idea gestating for a few months but was hoping to preach it in April or May. Then a hole in the worship schedule wound up putting me on for January 24. Can you say pre-term birth?  As a result, I’ve been reading, talking to folks, and jotting notes and ideas. It’s going to be tight, but I’m going to have it together in time. Just need one thesis statement and then good to go.

I also carried on both parts of a conversation with Good Dog Gwyneth in which we determined that a) in her mind, it’s all about me and b) in our minds, the cats think it’s all about them.

Working on cleaning my office and finding lots of lost items which will allow me to be more creative when the desktop is finally found. However, new books on my desk (the kind I work on, not the kind I read for pleasure) may short-circuit desk cleaning for a while.

Oh, and I bought a new pair of tap shoes. My old ones have heels and I’m way too old to wear heels if I value my ankles, which I do. So I bought a pair of jazz taps. As soon as Christmas is put away (we celebrate through Epiphany) and I can find the office floor where Santa’s workshop lives right now, a wood floor will be built out of leftover laminate so I have a tap floor. (Right now I have to go outside since the taps will ruin the wood floors, and I won’t go outside because it’s raining.) (and, yes, my office is big enough to tap in…besides it’s the only room tap will be allowed in unless I build lots of tap floors which, while creative, I’m not going to do.)

On other fronts, more yarn has been spun, more knitting has been done (with less frogging), and more words have been written. Nothing spectacular, although I did choose yarn for a couple of baby projects for the impending new grandchild.

Hey, since birthing and raising the babe’s mom was a creative endeavor,  I think I should get credit for some part of creating the baby. Are you with me?

And I fessed up to a speeding ticket. Not sure how creative that is, but that’s two in one month. Both in Milwaukie. That town needs revenue.

Football Redux

Two days ago I wasted time watching part of the Rose Bowl. I attended U of O so I sort of hoped the Ducks would win, but I don’t get football so in that sense I didn’t care. But I did learn (?) some new things about the game.

  • We need a larger TV. Apparently there were words at the bottom of the screen of our old 27″ television which showed things like the score, how many minutes were left in the quarter, and other important information. After I’d asked what quarter it was and how many minutes were left one time too many, Jenny pointed out that this information was readily available. I, however, being 58 with bad eyes, couldn’t see it. Nor could I see the ball. Hence, we need a new TV.
  • The dog thinks that Jenny yells because there are whole packs of wild wolves circling the backdoor. So everytime something happened (I have no idea what those things might have been as I couldn’t see the ball, the score, the clock, or what was going on) Jenny yelled, the dog woke up from her football stupor and looked hopefully out the back windows. No wolves. Just football. I’d prefer wolves. So would the dog.
  • Just when I thought I’d figured out the whole “1st in 10” thing, Jenny introduced the “1st in 15” thing which is just like the “1st in 10” thing except it includes a penalty. I didn’t recognize it as a penalty since no one hit anyone with a stick or got sent to a penalty box. I speak better hockey than I do football.
  • If your knees touch the ground, the play is over. Which begs the question, why do football players pray? And if they pray on the field is the game over?
  • If your knees, however, are on top of another player, and you put your arm over the goal line with the ball in it, it’s a touchdown even if the guy on the other team pushes it back. Unless, of course, you’re rooting for the other team. Then it’s a bad call by the ref.
  • Halftime is only important to me. I like cheerleaders. I like marching bands. What I don’t like is color commentary and instant replays. Which is what they had during halftime.
  • After the non-event of halftime, I left Jenny to her stupid game and took a nap. The Ducks lost. I’m sure the two were not related.
  • Sometimes when someone kicks the ball it’s called a conversion and it has one point. Sometimes when someone kicks the ball it’s called a field goal and has three points. Or maybe two. I’m not sure. Nor am I sure which is which.
  • I still don’t know what offsides is.
  • Instant replays are a thinly disguised way to hide the fact that a football game lasts for approximately 17 minutes but takes four hours to watch.
  • For further adventures in football see this

Near-Death by Kittens

Okay, no excuses. I’ve been busy, I’ve been working, and I’ve been to the hospital twice. Yes, twice. This (see photo) has been trying to murder me.  Now, I am many things but I’m


reasonably sure I am not a cat tree. I am not made of wood. I am not covered with cheap carpet or sisal. I am not stationary.

But for some reason, this and his/her sibling (I can’t tell which one that is…but I think it’s Abby) has been making daily attempts to cause me to bleed out. With some modicum of success.

But, about 10 days ago, my leg suddenly got hot, bright red, and blew up to piano leg proportions. We have a box grand piano, with elephantine legs, so that’s pretty damn big. And it hurt like hell. Jenny decided that a trip to Urgency Care was in order. I had pretty much decided that I’d cracked my tibia/fibia (always get those two mixed up…the little one) when I slipped on wet leaves the week before. So I reluctantly agreed.

Diagnosis: Cellulitis caused by cat scratch. Okay, fine. Sounds tame. Then they start jabbering about necrotizing fasciaitis and other things that sound nasty and are.  They natter, Jenny panics, I’m just hoping there’s some good drugs involved. We go home with heavy duty antibiotics and by the next day, a miracle! I’m worse! The leg is redder, parts of it are turning purple, and it hurts like hell. I call the advice nurse and her advice, after consulting a physician, is get to the ER IMMEDIATELY.

Which we do. (Well, we did eat dinner but it was already cooked and we were hungry so make that Immediately plus 10 minutes.) We are members of Kaiser and mostly that’s a good thing. But on a Monday night (or any night for that matter if staff are to be believed) it is a freaking zoo. I get in line and am second in line. The line moves and I am first in line. It is about 8:15 pm.

The line grinds to a halt. A triage nurse, the only triage nurse it seems, is using the check in counter to do, well, triage. So the person who checks us in can’t because of HIPAA laws. So I’m standing there, getting purpler, and swollen, and the triage nurse yells at me and about 20 other people to BACK UP. BEHIND THE LINE. FOR CONFIDENTIALITY. We’re already behind the line but we back up. Which forces some people out the automatic doors. Which start opening and closing. Which causes the triage nurse to yell at them  to stop playing with the doors. Which they aren’t but what do I know. I stand there for close to an hour. I am not happy.

Finally, it’s my turn to check in. It is now after 9 pm. I’m told to go sit down and that I will be seen soon. Only if soon means five hours later. We sit across the room and can STILL hear the triage nurse asking personal HIPAA-covered questions to people at the desk. That dang line is so damned effective!

Finally, after a couple hours, I get called into a room where I am weighed and my blood pressure is taken. Then I am sent back to the waiting room but not until I’ve found out (being a former newsy and all) that the ER has 43 rooms, 4 doctors, and 8 nurses, and that some REAL emergencies have been waiting over 2 hours. And that the triage nurse, who should be in the little room talking to people in private because of HIPAA LAWS, has been told to do triage at the front desk by Kaiser management. Which means people can’t be checked in while she’s doing triage. Following that? My Kaiser dollars at work.

If I decide to try to die in some particularly dramatic way, I ain’t going to Kaiser Sunnyside.

Two more hours pass. I am returned to the little room for another blood pressure check. I am not weighed although I’m sure I’ve lost a couple pounds waiting. My blood pressure is up but I’m one of those folks who has low blood pressure so up for me is normal for you.

Then the triage nurse wants me again. Just to see if I’m worse. She wants to know what’s changed since we came in. I tell her my leg is now swollen up like a giant oak and she says, no, what is new. I say that is new. It wasn’t swollen when we got there because I was following doctor’s orders and elevating it. I’m sent back to my seat for insolence.

Then Jenny  gets bugged enough to go up and talk to the nurse. Finally, I am taken to the exam room. The doctor comes in, draws around the infection with a pen, mumbles MRSA, and prescribes Clindamycin. Look it up. It’s nasty. Better than being admitted for an IV but still nasty. My favorite side effect is that it may cause nasty side effects in my lower GI tract SIX MONTHS after I finish taking it. Not that it isn’t causing them already. YOGURT IS GOD.

Anyway, we got home after 3 am. It’s now been ten days and I am on the mend. Nothing is eating my flesh. My left leg will stay attached. No tubes are coming out my arm. I will live. The kittens are still using their claws on me. They will live too.

My new prophylactic treatment is water aerobics. I figure the chemicals in the water will cancel out cat slobber and other stuff. Don’t tell me otherwise. Some of us require our fantasy lives to survive. And Vicodin.

Kitten Alert

basket cats 1 The one on the left is Abby, named for Abigail Schuto on NCIS. The other one was going to be Ziva, the trained assassin, but Jenny has a bias against boys with girls’ names and insisted he be called Zorro.  When he’s really annoying, he becomes Zero.  Here are some interesting kitten factoids specific to these two kittens:

  • Maggie calls them Cupcake and Squidget
  • Squidget, er, Zorro, has already been trapped in the refrigerator. Obviously he has figured out how to zip through doors when nobody is looking.
  • I now compulsively check the freezer every time I open it.
  • Because I scream so loud when they try to climb my bare legs, they are both learning the words NO and DOWN
  • Good Dog Gwyneth thinks they are her puppies. She grooms them and follows them around to keep them safe.
  • Sophie, the evil cat, is starting to be sort of interested in them.  Mostly to hiss at them, but sometimes to stalk them.
  • Abby loves to play. Zorro not so much.
  • Abby is clearly the smarter of the two. Zorro is the lover.
  • Unlike every other cat we’ve had, these two love yarn, sleep in yarn, climb on the loom, chew on the drive band on the spinning wheel. I think they’ll love it the next time I dye….painted cats anyone?

Thursday's Three Theological Things

Funny how hard times turn the mind to God. I’ve found myself praying that the slump in my business dissipate before I’m broke. But I’m also using the time off to work on other things. Like writing. Like renewing my teaching certificate and signing up to substitute. Like think about what I really want and need. All very spiritual pursuits.

I’m taking a class called Writing the Spirit that conveniently falls during Lent. A couple weeks ago, we were given the task of writing an “I am from….” poem about our spiritual lives. It was an interesting exercise, everyone in the group wrote amazing stuff, and I’ve decided to let you read mine.  If you want to do your own, all you have to do is write “I am from…” and get that pen moving.

So, for my first theological thing, here’s my poem.

I am from stained glass and uniforms,
Jewish boys carrying crosses they don’t believe in
While Christian girls with covered heads are excluded from the altar

I am from concentration camps and schism over buttons
The 1928 prayer book and the Coverdale psalms
Too many years in seminary and not enough in prayer
Messiahs and Prophets (blessed be their names).

I am from gentle lovers and fierce daughters, wise men and wiser women,
From evolution, revolution, metanoia, and koinonia
From words and the Word, bread and wine,
Matzo balls and latkes, Sabbath-keeping and rule-breaking

I from choirs of children in four-part harmony
From wanting what I could not have
Until women defied the church and paved the way
And I found I did not want it anymore.

I am from midrash and surahs, gitas and rubrics, Genesis and Luke,
From women’s circles and men’s rules
From broken vows and understanding abbots,
From priests and nuns, rabbis and teachers,
From buried and broken Alleluias.

I am from the holy, whatever be its form.
I am.

Second Theological Thing
Shifting gears a bit, but still staying holed up in the library of the UU church, this week’s assignment involved Carolyn Myss’ Sacred Contracts and her archetype cards. We each chose three cards from the deck, after setting an intention for discovering more about our spiritual path. The three cards represent past, present, and future, or where I come from, where I am, and where I’m going.  I drew the Hermit, the Fool, and God.  Interesting choices for me.

The Hermit, or Mystic, at its best, withdraws from society to focus on the inner life. While I don’t necessarily withdraw, I do like my solitude. Although I can’t say I always use it to advantage. Sometimes I do things that nurture my inner life. Other times I just play World of Warcraft. Which some might argue IS an inner life. Or at least an imaginary life. At its worst, the Hermit withdraws because of fear, intolerance, or to avoid the problems of the world.  I will admit to some fear, and some avoidance, but I’m in therapy again for the gazillionth time to work on that.
Therapy, for me, is a very Hermit-like thing to do. The self-reflection, with someone to call me on a tendency to navel-gaze, has been an invaluable tool in my life. And right now I’m not doing therapy because there is anything particularly wrong but because I want to indulge a desire to grow. Yes, part of that is looking at old stuff, but I’ve done most of the hard, painful part of that already. Now I’m spending an hour every other week in a very disciplined focus on my inner life. And I’ve found one of those once in a lifetime therapists who is truly gifted and is able to serve as both guide and friend. All in all, I’m enjoying my Hermit-age.

My present card is the Fool. In tarot, the Fool is the Zen ‘beginner mind’, the child just starting out on the journey, a reminder that we are always beginning again. In Myss’ archetypes, it’s the ability to communicate profound truth through humor and represents what we’d like to say if we just had the courage.  The downside, or shadow, is a tendency to use humor in cruel ways. I hope I don’t have that. But I am one who uses humor a great deal in my writing, preaching, and life and there are few sacred cows. I pretty much say what I mean, and often do it with humor.

My future card is God. I asked the question about whether this card was gendered, or if it included goddess. It is gendered, and is the male god. In tarot, it would probably be the Heirophant or the Emperor. I’m not done thinking about it so I can’t tell which for sure. Maybe it’s elements of both. This card is the ultimate in male dominance. If used wisely, it is compassion and benevolence (the Emperor). Used poorly, it is the dictator or despot. I’m guessing that Jenny might see moments of the dictator in me but I like to think that I am headed for compassion.

Anyway, my assignment is to think and journal about these things. I guess I just did part of it publically. But I wanted to share about these archetypes, an idea that fascinates me and can be very helpful in looking at life.

Third Theological Thing



As we all know, God is Dog spelled backwards and I’ve found this dog to be unconditional love on paws so it must be true. We took a walk along Johnson Creek today, in the freezing cold, and Gwynnie found this pool. Now, given the temps we’ve had here the last few days, I’m guessing that water was pretty dang cold. I would have posted the whole sequence, as she first went in with front paws only, then her back toes, then up to her ankles (do dogs have ankles? Does God?)  But over the course of about 30 seconds, most of them captured on my new camera, she went in up to her belly. I was sure she was going to start swimming but she drew the line somewhere. Anyway, I’m thinking she was feeling the need for a baptism in icy water.

Here’s the strange part. We live on a freaking CREEK. About 30 feet off the end of our house is Beaver Creek. Has this dog EVER gone in the creek? No. She has her own little latrine spot near the creek (can’t train her to be environmentally friendly), and there is a spring that feeds the creek which is also her personal drinking fountain, but she has NEVER gone in the creek. First time she’s near a body of water that is not on our property, she’s right in there. Can’t be a desire to swim. She can do that right here. Nope, I’m pretty sure she was baptising herself.

And don’t start with me about dogs having souls or not. There was a whole theological debate on whether women had souls back in time and the debate was not souls or no souls. Nope, it was do women HAVE souls or ARE women souls. I vote that women are pure soul and as such have no need of HAVING souls. And I think the same is true of my dog. On the other hand, being the roommate of a purely evil cat, I’m pretty sure Sophie doesn’t have one, nor is she one. Some of you will, of course, argue with that. You know who you are. Feel free to comment. Just be civil. Now, talk amongst yourselves.

Photo of the Day or, She's Learned a New Trick

Good Dog Gwyneth

Good Dog Gwyneth

You probably think I’m talking about the illustrious Gwyneth and that photo does make it appear that she’s learned a new trick. Namely, “COME.” But, alas, she is no better at that one than she is at most others. Well, there is “BEG,” but she does that whether we ask her to or not.

Nope, the “she” in the title is me. I’ve got a new camera, I’m learning how to use it, and I just figured out how to put a photo on my blog. So, today’s photo of the day is over there to the left. Cool, huh?

25 Random Things

  1. I have no idea how to put a Facebook link in a blog post and need Lisa to help me.
  2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are the only dog allowed in the British Parliament by order of Cavalier King Charles who is dead but the rule lives on.
  3. My daughter is in Peru right now. So is her husband. He is Peruvian which sort of explains why they are in Peru.
  4. I am two degrees of separation from several presidents and three degrees away from Barack Obama. I am one degree of separation away from Sally Struthers which puts me two away from a whole bunch of movie stars. However, I am not impressed with myself. I just need to put 25 random things down and those came to mind.
  5. My uncle had mafia connections. As in the Rat Pack. Really. It’s true. Just ask my sisters. OH! That puts me two degrees away from Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.!
  6. I write mysteries. The current one has the mafia in it. Also theology, sex, politics, lesbians, and guns. Did I mention sex?
  7. St. Paul was a feminist in his day. I know. Hard to believe. But true. Live with it.
  8. So was Mohammed. Really. And virgins may actually be olives…..
  9. Paraguay is a country in South America. I almost forgot that.
  10. Maize.  In elementary school social studies, the answer was almost always maize.
  11. That was before 42 was the answer.
  12. Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was rejected several dozen times over close to a decade.
  13. Then it won the Newberry Medal.
  14. It snowed in Portland today. I drove anyway because it was just pretend snow. The kind that happens when it’s 40 degrees out.
  15. I used to be a real live hippy. I’m still real and still alive. But I had kids and sort of grew up. Sort of.
  16. My daughter calls me her pothead mom because I smoked pot recently to see if it helped with the pain. It did. But I forgot how to smoke and choked. Not a nice experience.
  17. If I would agree to live in the car with her,  Good Dog Gwynth thinks that would be a very good thing. She loves the car almost as much as she loves Jenny.
  18. I have no idea how to spell my dog’s name. The Good Dog part I’m okay with. It’s the last part that baffles me. One n? Two n? Another y?
  19. When I was a kid I learned the vowels were a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y. They don’t teach w and y as vowels anymore. But I’m sure that the w and/or y in my dog’s name are vowels. At least I’m pretty sure. I may be missing something. No, they have to be. Because all the other things are definitely consonants. And there has to be a vowel. That’s another rule that lives on. Unless you are from another dimension or something. And actually, the dog’s name has two syllables which means there needs to be ANOTHER vowel and I don’t think wy counts as two vowels. Where does the other one go? This is going to keep me awake tonight.
  20. Cows can be tipped over and I’d like to try it. Despite what people think, I’m not particularly fond of cows. Just because I gave one talk on cow piety…….Strange the things you get standing ovations for…..
  21. This is the 21st random thing tonight. Four more to go.
  22. I learned a lot of new stuff today. I believe you should learn at least one new thing every day. I’m set until mid-May, 2010.
  23. My favorite podcast is Cast On. It’s about knitting. It’s funny. It’s in Wales. It’s by a lesbian. These are a few of my favorite things. (Although I still love all the straight women in my life, too!)
  24. It really is time to go to bed because a friend is coming over at 10 am to work on a service we’re doing this Sunday. It’s on Sabbath and about Sabbath. I’m preaching. Look out! Heresy alert!
  25. I just learned how to knit a moebius strip. Now I’ll have to learn how to quit knitting it. But there is no real stopping point so it may go on for awhile.

She's at it again….

Gwyneth, the-official-best-dog-in-the-world, is up to her old tricks. Once again, I am being awakened at ungodly hours so she can protest the fact that Jenny actually has to go away to work. What the dog wants is for me to get up, let her out on the porch, and hang with her while she stares intently at the driveway. What I want to do is sleep. So I am learning to pat her head and say “Go back to bed.” Not that it works for her. But I go back to sleep and she can do whatever she wants.

Hopefully, this will discourage her in her pursuit of holding Jenny hostage.

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