Jessica Sprague Photo Editing Class

A friend on FaceBook suggested a free class – Photo Editing: Frame-Ups & Special Effects. The first project was a little basic, but I did learn some important cropping info for CS4. Here’s Clover in my first project for the class.



5am this morning

I know some people allow their pet cats to wander around outside uninhibited. I have friends who do this, and it is their choice, but I don’t agree with it. I have two beautiful boys and I cannot imagine them out there in the big world wandering around. Too many things can happen to them – a car smooshes them, a wild animal gnaws on them, a wild teen lights their tails on fire… So, my boys stay inside and the only outside they get is our screened-in porch.

This morning at 5am I awoke to Clover making what sounded like licking noises. I thought he was licking the window; perhaps some humidity had condensed on the inside? This is the spittiestcat I have ever had. (side note – why is sluttiest a word and spittiest is not?) He uses his tongue for everything. When he is scared, he sticks his tongue out, when he wants to abuse his brother, he licks his hair into spikes, when he’s angry, the tongue comes out, and when he bathes, he ends up looking like we dunked him under the facet. So this was loud licking noises.

When he kept doing it, I figured I better get up and see what was going on. As I got closer to the window, I c0uld hear another cat snarling and meowing. Clover wasn’t licking the window – he was doing his nervous, anxious, “I hate that cat outside” tongue thing. Why this little cat thinks his tongue is going to be a great defense, I will never know.

Clover had his head behind the curtain and the shade, so I wrapped my hands around his itty waist to pull him out and he went ballistic! Hissing and wriggling and spitting. Luigi was also pacing around on the floor below the window, obviously not in a good mood either. I tried to settle Clover down and then looked out the window where there was a dark colored cat prancing around as if to say, “Ha! I’ve disturbed your precious sleep. It’s only 5am and my day is complete!” Damn cat! I banged on the window and made hissing noises myself. It didn’t get upset, but it did jauntily saunter away. M. woke up enough to ask, “What’s going on?” and then went right back to sleep.

Fortunately, the cat did not come back, but it made me mad enough that I just laid there for awhile thinking about how much I do not like other cats in my yard. It upsets Clover and Luigi and I am afraid of the damage they could cause. We have that screened-in porch in the back and a cat’s claws could easily rip it up. I am also going to put some mulching in the back and dread finding the steaming log of cat poo I know will inevitably end up in there. These are not thoughts I want to be having at 5am.

I did finally fall back to sleep only to be woke up at 6am by a starving Luigi…

Just a Rant

Okay, yesterday just sucked. Well, with the exception of lunch with a friend, yesterday sucked.

I had my day all planned out – I even typed, yes typed, up a list/schedule of my projected Thursday on Wednesday night. I was excited Wednesday night. Thursday was going to be a good day. Maybe that was my mistake – setting expectations too high.

It started late Wednesday night. I just could not sleep. This is normally not a problem for me. I typically lay my head down and I’m out. Wednesday night there just was no sleep for me. I laid there until after M. had dozed off and finally decided I would read to see if that helped relax me into sleep. It didn’t. I did doze off some time after 12:30 for a bit, but woke up several times. The last time I woke was around 5:00 am and then just waited for M.’s alarm to go off and I started my day. I did a more vigorous workout than usual, because dang it, I’m getting in shape and this is going to be a good day! I got myself ready and got out of the house a little behind my Wednesday night projection.

I was debating between my first stop. Should I go to Target and get some lotion to match my other bath products and pick up a free 20 oz. Diet Coke (coupons earned from the Coke Rewards program)? (By the way, have you tried Dove’s Go Fresh Energize products? So great! I have the shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and deodorant.) Or, should I head to the mall and get there right as they open to avoid crowds? I have an Old Navy coupon for a free tote and I love totes! I also was out of bubble baths and salts and thought I could also check out Bath & Body Works, and perhaps stop in a shop to do some window shopping on the new spring fashions.

I decided on the mall and headed into town. It wasn’t supposed to take long and then I was going to head to Target and then to PetSmart to pick up some necessary litter and treats. All this would be accomplished before my lunch with AB. I got to the mall and made B&BW my first stop. Right away I am accosted by a sales person and their new fragrance which she slathered all over my hands. I can’t complain too much because I did like the scent and ended up buying it in a bubble bath. But I ended up spending too much time and a bit too much money in B&BW. I was also accosted by the same sales person about 3-4 more times with other new products and scents. Luckily, I did not get a headache from all the sniffing.

I then headed to one of  my favorite clothing shops in the mall and did some browsing. All the bright spring colors really called to me – especially the skirts. I really love skirts! But I resisted. There was a vest I really, really wanted and went back to look at it several times, imagining all the clothes I could wear with this vest. It would go with skirts, jeans, button down shirts, plain T-shirts – all sorts of things! I was really trying to justify the $39.50 price tag. But again, I resisted.

It was then time for my actual purpose in going to the mall – the Old Navy tote. I hadn’t been to the mall in some time and didn’t remember which branch of the mall ended in Old Navy, so began wandering and ended up down the wrong branch, had to turn around and try another. I then found the right branch and determinedly headed towards Old Navy. Before ON even came into sight, I was waylaid. I heard a friendly accented voice call out, “Hello. Good morning.” I was in a pretty good mood, so I turned to see who this might be. It was a fairly nice looking guy standing at one of those little kiosks they have all down the center of the mall. “How are you?” he asked. I told him I was fine and walked over, lured by his inviting voice. He asked me how old I am, I told him I am 29, but will be 30 next month. “No!” he exclaimed. “Good for you! You look about 23!” By this time I can feel the heat in my face. My body has betrayed me again and I knew I was all flushed. Now, I know my readers are all inwardly groaning and thinking of how I am being a dope falling for this sales flattery, and in the back of my mind of course I knew that was what he was doing, but hey! Who doesn’t want to be flattered a little every now and then by a stranger?

He was a bit hard to understand with his accent, but I understood he wanted to look at my hand, specifically, my fingernails. This was a bit embarrassing because I am a nail chewer and my cuticles are always rough and dry. But because I am not a frequent mall visitor and have developed a kind of mall naivete, I held out my hand. He picked up some kind of four-sided buffer thing and began rubbing it on my index fingernail, constantly telling me how amazing it was, that he was going to “pamper me,” and as he did the final buffer step he slowed down and asked me if I was “ready to be amazed” before lifting the buffer off my nail. I am really divided now – I like the flattering manner, but I am also aware he is trying to sell me something, something I had no intention of buying. He lifted off the buffer and I had to admit that even though I did not want to be, I was a bit amazed. My fingernail looked like it had been polished. He then told me that the shininess would last for 2 months. Great – I am going to have one shiny nail and nine dull icky ones for 2 months. He pulled out some nail polish remover and invited me to try removing the shine, but I declined. He then wanted me to let him “pamper me” further with some cuticle oil and lotion. Yes, just what I needed, more lotion on my already slathered hand. But I let him do it. And again, I did like how my nail looked. All shiny and smooth. Of course, I was the first customer of the day and he was the manager, so even though the kit that contained the buffer, cuticle oil, and lotion normally sells for $59, he was going to offer me a special price of 50% off. Pffftt! I just wanted to get on my way down to ON, get my tote, and head to Target. But then again, my nails do usually look bad and I don’t like to do a lot of work to look good. I ended up buying the kit for $32.

Of course, before I could leave, he again made eye contact with me – something he was determined to do throughout our interaction even though constant, direct eye contact makes me uncomfortable. Again, he wants to “amaze and pamper” me. I ask the time and decide, fine, 5 more minutes. It’s too late to get to ON now anyway. So, he tells me what great skin I have. Now he has really lost my interest. I know my skin is okay, but I’ve never really had “great” skin. It’s always been oily and very prone to breakouts. But fine, show me what wonderful product you have and then I am going to get out of here. He pulls out a skin peel cream and tells me its for the face, will act as a vacuum for the pores and help clear up acne and balance the skin. He demonstrates on my arm. The results are not as dramatic as the nail stuff, so I get my out and say that while it’s nice, I am going to stick with what I have. I finally make my break and, now frustrated with myself, I head out of the mall.

Once in the car I analyze my time. Really, I don’t have time to stop in Target or PetSmart before lunch. I could probably do it if it not for traffic, but I don’t want to risk getting stuck in a check out line or at a traffic light. So, instead I head to the luncheonette. I have a book and can read until AB arrives. Thank goodness for the lunch! It was nice to see AB again and get caught up. It was definitely what I needed after my embarrassing mall debacle, which I told AB all about.

After lunch, I was feeling better, less frustrated. I decided to cut out Target since the stop really wasn’t needed and I was through with unnecessary stops for the day. I had a job interview in the afternoon and didn’t want to be late. I did have to go to PetSmart, so I headed there. I quickly got what I needed and went to check out. I chose an older cashier whom was there on most of my visits, she’s friendly and I knew it would be a positive check out. While she was nice, as always, PetSmart recently changed their reward credit card from WaMu to Chase, so I was issued a new card. My old WaMu card acted as a PetSmart reward card as well as a credit card and had Luigi’s picture on it. When I got my new Chase card, it came with an explanation that while the photo option was not available, everything else about the card was the same as my WaMu card. Well, while checking out yesterday, I found this wasn’t actually true. When the cashier asked if I had my PetSmart Rewards card, I pulled out my new Chase card and flipped it over. It was then that I realized the Rewards barcode was missing. So now I will have to sign up for a new Rewards card which means that the credit card really doesn’t give any added benefits, so I will probably cancel it. Blah – this really isn’t a big deal, but after mall frustration, I really didn’t need to think about new cards, that there was no advantage to the new Chase card, I would need to call Chase to cancel the card and probably get all sorts of sales pitch from the telemarketer I would have to talk with.

Okay, still not feeling too bad. Had to get to my job interview. The job was mentioned by my former supervisor to AB who told me about it. While it was a social work position, and not ultimately what I wanted to do, after getting a letter with the job description and salary, it did sound attractive. Plus, if I am going to do social work, it was the kind of social work I would want to do – more on the generalist side, a case management position. I was excited because the job only required a bachelor’s degree and I have a master’s degree. I felt I had a good chance. I got to the agency about on time. I was to arrive 15 minutes early to complete an application. I went in and got to work on the application; 5 pages of information I feel like I have filled out thousands of times over the past few months. But it’s okay because I have good qualifications for this job, it pays well, has good benefits, so I am excited.

I complete the application and then wait. They can’t find the lady who is supposed to interview me. She’s not at her desk. So, like so many times I go for an interview, I am early or on time, well-prepared, and the person or persons who are interviewing me are not ready. I wait, and wait. But it’s okay – this will be a good job and I’m excited. I re-read the letter I received with the job description and feel confident I would be good at this job. Twenty minutes after my scheduled interview time I am called back.

The interview starts off in the usual way – they tell me about the job and I tell them about my past experiences, my educational background. They see I have extensive computer experience, which is good because they do almost all their work on computers. Case managers are each issued a laptop to use in the field and complete documentation on. Good! This job sounds better and better. Then they tell me that the state requires their case managers be certified and in order to do that, the applicant must have 1 year of past treatment planning/assessment experience. They ask me what experience I have in that area. Of course, my most recent job really didn’t supply this experience, but the job I had right before that did. Unfortunately, I only had that position for 7 months and fall 3 months short of the state experience requirement. Are you serious?! I have a master’s degree in social work when all that is required is a bachelor’s and I have almost all the prerequisite experience, but I don’t qualify for this job?! They tell me that a request has been submitted to the state to waive this requirement for those with master degrees, but they don’t expect an answer to the request until some time this summer. They send me out telling me that I can check back at the end of the summer.

Well, now because of the lack of sleep, the embarrassing mall debacle, and the PetSmart card woes heaped on top of this blow, I feel deflated. I feel dejected. I had not planned to go home until all my stops in town were completed that day, but decided because of the time (much ahead of schedule since the interview didn’t take nearly as long as I anticipated), I would make one more stop and then go home to check the mail and feed the cats. I went to one branch of our local library and picked up some movies for M. to satisfy his war history interest and headed home.

At home, more bad news. I pull an envelop out of the mailbox that is from our vet. Not the veterinary office, from her personally. We love our vet. She is about our age, talks to our cats like they are babies – which we consider them to be – and was so caring when we lost first Oliver and then Clyde. I knew what was in the envelope before I even opened it. And yes, when I pulled out the letter, I was right. Our vet’s husband accepted a job in another state and she will be leaving the practice at the end of this month. While the other vet at the office is nice, he just isn’t our vet. He didn’t call us with the news Oliver had not made it out of surgery and explain when animal control accidentally cremated him. He didn’t help us through Clyde’s illness and our decision to let him go. He didn’t cry with us as Clyde went to sleep for the last time. He didn’t recognize us out and about in town and stop to chat about our boys. This was another blow on a day of frustration and it’s hard for me to write about it even now – I love our vet.

Back to yesterday, after feeding the cats and unloading the dishwasher, changing clothes out of my interview outfit and into jeans and a tee, I headed to the downtown branch of our library. I had a list of books to pick up and I was scheduled to attend the first of three seminars for people seeking jobs. These are free seminars, so why not? I got to the library about the time a bunch of high school students arrived so the downstairs area where popular materials – fiction, movies, music – are located was very noisy and active. Not a favorite combination for me. I quickly located the books I wanted to check out, got them scanned at the check out, then headed back through the teen zone to the library cafe. I had never been to the cafe and had decided on Wednesday that I would check it out before my seminar and have dinner there. The cafe is a quaint little area, but there was one particular girl there that had to loudly proclaim all her thoughts out loud. After the day I’d had I really did not want or need to hear the inside workings of a girl who looked to be about 13 years old. I scanned the menu, ordered a veggie wrap, and fortunately, shortly after I ordered, Think Out Loud departed the cafe. I pulled out the book I was reading and dug into my wrap. It was delicious, however, it had onions which I did not immediately realize, and I knew that later I would pay for eating them in either heartburn or onion taste in my mouth, or both, later.

After my dinner I still had about an hour before my seminar started. I went upstairs to the nonfiction area, scoped out the meeting room where the seminar would be held, and then found a nice quiet place to sit and read until it was time. Last night’s seminar was titled “Finding a Career That Fits.” I ended up being the youngest of the five attendees. A surprisingly low attendance considering the seminar was free and the economic climate. The seminar went about half an hour over the projected hour time frame, but was pretty good. It gave resources on ways to get free assessments to determine the right career and how to research that career. The library offers many resources I was not aware of. Next week when I am feeling a bit more myself I will probably look into taking several of the assessments and doing some research. Not today.

As I was leaving the library, I gave M. a call to let him know I was on my way home. Naturally, he wanted to know how the interview went. I told him about not being qualified. Again, because of lack of sleep and the events of the day, it was frustrating and upsetting to talk about. I just wanted to be detached and alone for a bit, so I took a little longer than usual getting home, just taking some time to calm down. Once home, M. had a nice effect. He of course told me not to worry – eventually things will work out right. We watched Survivor (and the person I wanted to be voted out was not!) and then went to bed.

This morning I slept in. When I got up, I was sore all over from the more vigorous workout I did yesterday morning. I had a little breakfast of tea and a Kashi pumpkin pie bar and then got on the computer to do my daily job search and look at my favorite sites. Then I got to work on this post and am now ready for some lunch. It feels good to get this all out there, to release it to the internet universe. I think after lunch I will take a nice relaxing bath with some of my new Bath & Body Works products and just veg. I deserve a veg day!

Things that make you go hmmmm…

Remember that song? M. and I have the CD. I was trying to think of titles for this post and that came to mind, which of course made the song run through my head. Another appropriate title for this post would have been “Those amazing snarky cats.”

I was in the middle of my workout this morning and a waft of cat poo came drifting through the living room. Those who own cats know that you can keep a very clean litter box (I scoop poop every day), but sometimes the kitty just drops a malodorous load and nothing is going to stop the smell unless you get that poo out of there. I thought this had to be the case, but didn’t want to interrupt the workout and decided to take care of it immediately after my cool down.

After my last neck stretch, I headed right into the laundry room to take care putrid kitty doo. I finished that oh so fun chore, turned to go out of the laundry room and do some vacuuming and lo and behold! There was a dark blob of something about 3 feet up on the wall dividing the entry way and the living room. I got closer, thinking there was no way that blob was what I was thinking it was. But, yes, it was. It was a blob of cat poo 3 feet off the floor. How it got there or which one of my kitties did it will forever remain a mystery. But that had to be why the scent drifting in to assault my nose during the workout was so strong.

Oh, the things those cats do!

Clover really didn't like the taste of his medicine - it made him foam every time!

Clover really didn't like the taste of his medicine - it made him foam every time!

Luigi pulls this drawer open all by himself and likes to climb in to hide.

Luigi pulls this drawer open all by himself and likes to climb in to hide.

Its Christmas Anyway

I wasn’t planning to put up a Christmas tree this year. I was too bummed about Clyde, thought Luigi would chew the thing, and wanted to focus on Clover.

I got out this morning to get my North Dakota presents shipped. With a little UPS luck, they will arrive prior to Christmas. I also trekked downtown to the main branch of our public library to pick up that book on therapeutic touch for cats I mentioned yesterday. I arrived at the library about 10 minutes prior to them opening the doors, so decided to take a brief drive down the street Clover was found on, since it was also downtown. That was depressing! Mostly industrial businesses and rundown homes. I hate to think of any pet, especially my baby Clover, wandering that street. No wonder he is terrified now!

I headed back to the library and wandered around for about an hour. I ended up coming away with a pile of books: a couple cookbooks, some on successfully interviewing for a job, a couple on finding the right career, and the therapeutic touch book. I also ended up with a few movies. I expect great things to come from this library trip! Well, at least some great cooking… more on that another time.

I also made a stop at our local pet superstore. I checked out the Feliway products and decided on a less expensive diffuser by Nutri-Vet. I also picked up a new toy for the boys and some Christmas mittens (instead of stockings) for them. By the time I arrived home, I had made the decision I had to decorate for Christmas so I could put up Luigi and Clover’s mittens. It only took about two hours and I ended up putting up two trees instead of just one!

Our big tree

Our big tree

No fireplace, but the mittens are still hung with care!

No fireplace, but the mittens are still hung with care!

Our little tree decorated entirely in Star Wars and Winnie the Pooh

Our little tree decorated entirely in Star Wars and Winnie the Pooh

Oh, and either the diffuser is doing it’s job, or it is entirely coincidence, but Clover has been exploring more of the house today. He has ventured into my room (took over my chair too, the stinker), into the living room, and into the kitchen. Luigi accompanied him on his explorations.

Clover is exploring and taking over chairs!

Clover is exploring and taking over chairs!

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