Saturday, June 10, 2006

Miss you guys!

Well, this was the first year in a long time that I've been unable to attend the Natural Urban Living Garden Show, put on by the Arlington Organic Garden Club. For the past 10 years our work would start in January, contacting vendors, attending other garden shows to help publicize ours, printing flyers, making posters, designing ads, and lots and lots of fretting: Are we going to have enough vendors this year? Will anyone show up? Will we have enough food? Did we make enough signs? Should we have publicized more?

After 10 years helping out (first, as the webmaster [webmistress??] and later as the club's president), I moved to St. Louis. Strangely, I still feel like a slacker for not helping out for this year's show. I'm 700 miles away so I have an excuse, but it still feels weird: I know how much work goes into one of those shows, and it's all done by volunteers. Most of all I miss the chance to spend the day with a lot of really great people.

After 10 years, it was hard not to meddle but I knew the show was in good hands, as it has been for the past 10 years (right, David?). And there's one thing that corporate life has taught me: everyone can be replaced. Throughout the years I've watched people at work leave for greener pastures, went through the "this place is gonna collapse without them" phase, only to find that life goes on and everyone survives just fine after all. The AOGC is no different: everybody kept doing what they're good at and the show went on, just as has in years past.

After a long day showing some friends the sights in St. Louis (but that's another post), I came home to find an email from Bob, one of our friends from the club. Attached were several pictures from the show, and by the time-stamp I see he sent them while the show was still taking place. The email ended with "Miss you guys." I know how much work goes into one of those shows (it's all volunteer, by the way), so the fact that he took time out from all that to send pictures to Doug and me really meant a lot.

Maggie and David

This is Maggie -- a talented gardener and writer and a good friend of AOGC's -- and David, talented horticulturist, horologist, club president, and a good friend.


This is Bob -- talented photographer, gardener, woodworker, and an all-around neat guy.

This is the AOGC gang, talented gardeners and. . . umm. . . show-putter-onners.

I miss you guys!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Creatures of Habit

It's been a long time since I've blogged... I've been traveling a lot in the last 6 weeks: New York, Montreal, Washington DC, and Austin. Now that this round of customer visits is done, it looks like I'll be in town for awhile. Whew!

After going to bed last night, I got up to investigate a noise. Not a scary noise, just some sort of mechanical noise that I would swear was a far-away train, although we've lived in the house since November and would probably have noticed a train by now. I was trying to tell whether it was inside the house or out so I opened the back door for a listen. The noise was indeed coming from outside, so I went to bed knowing that I didn't have to worry about the air-conditioning or washing machine blowing into a thousand little pieces while Doug and I slept.

This morning Sienna woke me up just before 5. That's not unusual: cats are creatures of habit. Sienna's mission in life is to open closet doors, and she takes her job seriously. She doesn't want to sit on the shoes or anything, she just needs to open the door. Like clockwork, once in the wee morning hours, then again mid-afternoon, she opens the closet doors in the hallway and in the bedroom. The doors are solid and somewhat heavy, so she takes great pride in her accomplishment.

The morning routine is "scratch-scratch-scratch" and when I wake up to shush her, Sienna jumps on the bed all purry and wants to be petted since she completed her very important task, and at this time of the morning the boys are asleep and she doesn't have to worry about getting pounced on. After doling out the obligatory pets, I realized I wasn't pinned to the bed by any other cats, so I got up and stumbled into the bathroom.

Did I mention that cats are creatures of habit? We've had Felix for less than a year, but already he has established that I am not allowed to go to the bathroom by myself. I mean, I am capable -- it's been more than 35 years since I had to hold on to my big sister for fear of falling in and getting flushed. But if I get up in the middle of the night, it is only a matter of moments before I hear THUNK (Felix weighs 14+ pounds, and he usually sleeps on the desk in the den)... thwup-thwup-thwup-thwup-thwup-thwup-thwup-thwup (yes, 14 pounds of cat moving along hardwood floors does make a noise)... "URD?"

Although Felix is capable of meowing, he prefers to say "Urd?" It's the same noise many cats make if you wake them up from a sound sleep... a feline version of "WTF?" But instead of reserving "Urd?" for a surprise wakeup, Felix uses it in his everyday communication. He has learned many other tricks from Sienna and Casper, but he has not yet learned to open doors, so in this case "Urd?" meant "I have noticed you are in the bathroom all by yourself. I feel duty-bound to jump on the edge of the bathtub, rub my face on the shower door, jump back down, walk around the room, and fall over at your feet. I can not do this if the door is closed, kindly open it." Falling over is another one of Felix's peculiar habits... I thought he had a neurological disorder when we first found him, but he is surprisingly agile for a cat that in profile looks somewhat like a pot-bellied pig.

Only this morning there was no THUNK, no thwup-thwup-thwup, and no "URD?" On leaving the bathroom I heard a faint meowing off in the distance. A quick sweep of the house turned up Casper, but no Felix. It was then I noticed the shadow in the back door: Felix spent the night stuck between the back door and the screen, having snuck out when I opened it to investigate the noise last night. Funny thing is, he wasn't traumatized by the incident. When I opened the door he didn't scramble out as though he'd spent the night being tortured by Satan's minions: I'm fairly certain that would have been Casper's reaction (but then again, Casper would have screamed so loudly that this would never have happened). But Felix's morning routine continued as though nothing ever happened: he made one "Urd?," circled around my legs, fell over, then ambled off to the food dish.