Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I was in my bathroom this morning, deciding whether or not to curl my hair, when I heard the words "Have a Happy Period" from the TV set closest by.

Have a happy what?

Apparently, one menstrual pad/tampon company decided that in order to market itself more effectively, the newest line of pads will include what amounts to a baby wipe attached to each individual package. You take the new pad out and lo and behold, you can get that "shower-clean feeling" as a bonus for buying their product. First of all, I have never gotten a clean enough feeling from what amounts of a small, moistened towellette to classify it with the "shower" genre, and second, and more importantly, WHO came up with that marketing campaign?

My answer--it must have been a guy, regardless of the fact that the voices that advertize feminine hygene products are never masculine. A woman would have slammed that one down right way--the implication that a wet towel could, in any large scale way, turn what is at least three days of living hell into a "happy" experience.

However, there is, of course the OB line of tampons, which, although "designed by a woman" are completely without applicators. Given that omission, I tend to believe that is more a gimmick than a reality.

On the ligher, and local, side, Buddy Cianci, former Mayor of Providence and subject of the book, "The Prince of Providence," has been released from prison, and Steve Laffey, who challenged the incubent Republican Sentor last fall, has published a book that he claims Rhode Islanders will love. If that is the case, you would hope that more people would have voted for the man.

At least the weather is good, and my cats are happy, although there has been a significant reduction in the local chipmunk population of late for whom I have become primary gravedigger.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Escape Attempt

My sister came home for her "spring break" from school in February. Usually, whenever any of us kids have to travel somewhere by plane, we ask our father to do it for us. Since his work takes him all over the country on a regular basis, he has a quick and easy program on his computer that makes it happen in the most efficient manner for the right price. This time, Heather did not stick with her original travel plan. She changed her tickets from a United flight to a Delta equivalent--similar timing, arriving in the same place....so, why the change?

Well, one very small thing distinguishes these two reputable airlines. United will not allow pets to fly on board. Delta, with a few exceptions, will.

Heather arrived at the airport with a very small plastic cage in her purse. Inside were two fairly substancially sized hamsters--a male and a female. The female was dubbed "Nevens," although I am unclear as to what this name represents. The male carried the very plebian name "Hamster," given he was a replacement for his predecessor, Kenevil, who tragically died upon meeting up with a friend's pet dog that still retained some hunting instincts. Heather brought them upstairs and put them into the bathroom that she and I share. Half an hour later, I entered the bathroom only to find one hamster present. Nevens was comfortably lodged behind the toilet by the door. Hamster, on the other hand, could not be found. We looked through every room on the second floor save one--our parents had retired to bed leaving one of the doubled doors to their room cracked to allow access to the cat population. After hours of searching, we concluded that he must have gone in, and we had to abandon our efforts.

At about 6:30 in the morning, my father presented a sleeping Heather with Hamster. He had gotten up at his usually early hour to find Hamster in an overturned can of peanuts on the carpet by his side of the bed. Fortunately, he did so before Harriet, our oldest and most capably mouse-catching cat, came into the room, sniffed out the peanut can, and followed the scent to the closed door of Heather's room outside of which she sat for the next few hours.

Heather flew out to Colorado the following weekend, leaving Hamster and Nevens in our temporary care (although I beg to ask how temporary). Because the two of them did not get along, we gave them each their own cage. Nevens has her own space with a removeable plastic top and a few nooks and crannies she likes to sleep in. Hamster, the most athletic of the two, has a wire cage that is higher than it is wide, but it includes a wheel in which he will run for hours to make up for the lack of floor space.

Their cages are cleaned once a week. A few weeks ago, my mother brought both of them downstairs and proceded to change their fluff and add extra food and water--a process the hamsters, as hoarders who enjoy filth, never quite appreciate. She finished Nevens' cage last and left it on the countertop overnight. The next morning, the entire top of the cage had been removed and Nevens was nowhere to be found.

A search was immediately mounted. At first, it was concluded that she must have been injured by the fall from the counter to the floor and perhaps limped off somewhere nearby. However, an inspection of the all of the closest undersides of cabinets and appliances revealed nothing. My father put out small piles of food in random places, and they all remained untouched. Ironically, there was never a point when they assumed that one or more of the half a dozen cats in the house had got a hold of the innocent creature and brought it to an untimely end. As the days went by, the active search became a recovery mission. Nothing turned up at all. We resigned Nevens to the long line of unsolved residential mysteries.

One evening, my mother and I were sitting in the living room--it had been about five days since we had last seen Nevens. My mother turned down the volume on the TV set--she heard scratching somewhere, she claimed. Once the set was no longer interfering with this scratching sound, I also heard it, but I thought it was the printer on the second floor resetting itself in the usual "contacting the printer planet-like" manner. However, my mother was not content with that explanation. She walked over to the opposite wall and peered into the air conditioning vent on the floor closest to the TV. Lo and behold, there she was, scratching about on the metal grating under the floor plating. She reached in and brought out Nevens. With very little protest, Nevens was returned to her cage five days after officially breaking out. After a quick nibble, a little water, and some rummaging of the new fluff, she was comfortably asleep in her usual spot as if nothing ever happened.

So much for having a house full of felines.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare was promptly placed on top of her removeable cage top to prevent a repeat of the recent events. Due to good behavior, that has been downgraded to The Joy of Cooking. If this trend continues, the American Heritage Dictionary is next.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bits and Pieces

Ah, May. And now, we, the population of New England, are finally getting a taste of the weather we would normally associate with this time of the year. There are blooming trees. lots of flowers, even leaves *almost* out and full grown now. The sun even makes varying appearances over our little cluster of six states.

Finally, the website upon which so many of us spent our winter working has been put online. If you're interested, please see The Mayflower Story. To allay any confusion, this is not about the famous voyage of the pilgrims in 1620. Instead, this website focuses on the journey of the Mayflower II, part of the exhibit on the waterfront belonging to Plimoth Plantation. Check out the web clips along the path of the voyage--we really focused on those in particular. This summer, the remaining members of the crew from the 1957 voyage have been invited to the US for the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary this year of the ship's arrival. We will hopefully be sailing the ship this upcoming July as a result. I have never seen the ship sail in person, actually, for all the work I have done at Plimoth Plantation, so regardless of where I am by that time, I will certainly at least make an effort to see it happen.

So, Tony Blair is finally stepping down as PM in the UK. When I first went over in October of 2005, I remember the whole election process of a new opposition party leader--something that I completely did not understand given my background. Eventually, David Cameron was elected to this post, and although a little slick for my tastes (and obviously with his "eye on the prize"), I can see how his charisma will win him votes. I am curious to know if there will be an election following Blair's departure, which was something hinted at but not confirmed by last fall. If so, I can clearly see David Cameron go up against Gordon Brown, and therefore, winning the election.

I have decided to go to my five year college reunion. We'll see how that goes.

Wasps have decided that the eave over my main window is the best place to create a comb complex. The combined forces of my hose and my bottle of Raid says otherwise.

Well there you are. I hope all is well out there with the rest of you.