Random Sophie Sunday

Cute Little Sophie

So, I know it has been years since I’ve had a Sophie Sunday. I started them shortly after we adopted our sweet kitten for a few reasons, but mostly because we had a lot of growing pains with her. I have known for a very long time that I wanted a Maine Coon one day for their looks, personality, and temperament. I entertained the notion of buying a pure bred from a local breeder in 2006—then my health issues exploded and adding a pet to our lives was the last thing we were thinking about. Meanwhile, taking a step back gave me time to think about the choice of buying a pure bred.

I had not become a member of the ASPCA yet, but the pull to rescue an animal was so strong that I could no longer ignore what I really wanted to do. I was still interested in the breed, but I wanted to save an animal’s life more. Nick (he likes to take all the credit…which he should, because I was searching only for male Maine Coon rescues) found Sophie, who had been given the name “Bambi” by her foster home in Iowa. This kitten was close to six month old. Someone dropped off her and her siblings at a farm one day and sped off. The farmer took care of the litter in his barn over the winter and then took them to a pet rescue organization in the spring of 2007.

Let me just say for a second here that people who drop off animals at farms really suck. I wish they would be responsible and either try to find a home for the animals themselves or take them to a no kill shelter. Instead, many just leave them somewhere dangerous because they figure that if someone discovers them, they’ll be in good hands. They pull over their cars and leave new litters in the ditch, hoping baby kittens will figure out to walk to the barn. More often than not, they die on the road. IT’S CRUEL.

I will get off my soapbox now.

Fortunately, at least Sophie and her sister made it to the barn and the care of a kindhearted farmer. I am not sure if she had any other siblings. I just know that she made it through six months relatively healthy when her sister was all kinds of sick and not up for adoption. She had almost six months of being feral, instinct telling her that humans were mean and to avoid them, one week at a foster home, and then we came and uprooted her yet again. This time she didn’t even have other foster animals there. It was just me an Nick: the scary humans.

There were definitely times during those initial months that I regretted our decision to rescue such an unpolished animal. We never saw her, and she had so much anxiety and outright fear around us. I started doing Sophie Sundays because for a snapshot in time, I saw a glimpse of the sweet little cat that she might be one day. I say “little” lightly, of course. She is a Maine Coon. She started coming out for me more often, but she was still very skittish.

It took about six whole months before we were fully acclimated to each other. Today, Nick and I will both swear that she is the sweetest, most loving cat that either of us have ever been around. She is funny and curious, maintaining her kitten-like playfulness. She runs to the door when we come home from work and cuddles with us on the couch. She likes to be involved in whatever activity we are doing—making the bed is a particular favorite—and she starts purring if I just blink slowly at her. True, a lot of these are just plain, old, everyday Maine Coon traits.

Yet, there is a special closeness there. Sophie came into our lives not long after I found out that having children was not possible. She filled a void for both of us (and she is a pampered kitty, let me tell you). There seems to be a love there because we rescued each other.

The above picture was taken yesterday. She had a lion cut about six weeks ago, so her coat hasn’t quite grown back to its usual Snuffleupagus state yet. She’s so funny after she gets her summer crew cut: suddenly she is rubbing against and rolling on every surface because it feels so good without those layers of fuzz. We may try to squeeze in one more full cut in before the cold weather sets in. She really is spoiled—but so are we.

Kitty Kisses

Salvage Value

My first iPod Nano officially died this morning.

It was a 2nd generation that Nick gave to me back in 2006. When he got on the bandwagon with the iPods in 2007, he bought me a 3rd generation Nano so that he could use my older model for running (it was only 1 gigabyte, and I had already expressed interest in upgrading). He got up early to run before work this morning, but the little iPod couldn’t get going. His run sidelined, he wasted a good hour-and-a-half troubleshooting the problem before deciding to dismantle it.

At that point, any hope I had for the 2nd generation Nano was squashed.

After work today, he bought a 5th generation Nano. I was rather fond of my 3rd gen, particularly the shape and size of it, but like a good wife-to-be, I accepted the brand new, sparkly Nano with video, built in sound, camera, and radio. I told Nick that he wasn’t allowed to change the assigned name on the other one: it will always be Crookshanks.

At home, with my new old Nano strapped to his arm for a run, he asked aloud, “Wanna see what’s inside an iPod!?”

I couldn’t help but think of this YouTube video:

Anyway, as I saw bits of whoozits and whatzits flying about, I sighed sadly. “I cannot believe that you destroyed it. It was the first gift you ever gave me.” Slowing down in his man/boy delight of destruction, he felt bad. He said that he did not realize that it had sentimental value for me.

I leaned into him, saying that it was okay. I pointed to the new sparkley 5th generation Nano syncing with my iTunes library, saying, “I suppose you got me that one too.” Thinking for a second, we said simultaneously as we pointed to the iPod strapped to his bicep, “You [I] got me [you] that one, too!”

After a moment of silence, wherein I was felling pretty darn good about myself, Nick asked, “Have you ever even bought an iPod!?” Why no, no I haven’t. I am rather proud of that distinction. Considering that the 5th generation is a vibrantly fiery-copper, and keeping with the Harry Potter theme, I named this one Fawkes, after Dumbledore’s phoenix.

By the way, unlike the VCR above, we didn’t find any salvageable bits inside the Nano…a bit of a bummer because I was really hoping to find a thumb drive and some camera storage cards. We went into the endeavor without marshmallows, so that was probably our undoing.

These Guys are my new Heros:

As you all know, one of my passions in life is ending animal cruelty. Rescue Ink is one of the coolest organizations that I have ever heard of.

Look, we all have a past. We have all made mistakes. These people feel that they were given a second chance with their lives, and that animals deserve a second chance too. Their website reads:

THIS AIN’T YOUR MOTHER’S RESCUE GROUP

You’ve never met a rescue group like Rescue Inkā„¢ – an army of tattooed, motorcycle-riding street guys who have zero tolerance for animal abuse and neglect. We think abusers are losers, and we have no problem “educating” them about the error of their ways. Hey, we’re no angels, and we’ve made plenty of mistakes in our lives, but we’ve been given a second chance. And we think neglected and abused animals deserve one, too.

I caught the end of a television show on dog fighting, one of the most hateful activities on earth, today. The man who had been previously convicted of cruelty for his dog-fighting activities defended himself. He tried to say that the dogs like fighting, that the videos of dogs crying are usually dogs who are new to the “game” and afraid; they have to test out the dogs to see if they will fight—but oh, it’s still not cruelty, he said.

The guys from Rescue Ink were there, one of the burlier ones (and they’re all pretty burly) stood up and asked the dog fighter if he’d like to be tested. People bully animals simply because they can, because the animal won’t fight back, and the animal doesn’t have a voice. It’s gutless and despicable. It was a rush seeing someone not only stand up to these monsters, but to instill the same intimidation in them that they do instill in their animals.

There are just times when telling it “like it is” is so refreshing. I just donated to their cause…please consider doing the same. Let’s help them stick up for the animals.

New Camera

We bit the bullet and bought a new camera a couple weeks ago: a Nikon D90. Yes, I know that there is talk that they are getting ready to replace this one now…but from what I have read, the main areas for improvement on the D90 involve the video, and I rarely use video to begin with. There is something much more romantic about a photograph, if you ask me.

Anyway, I knew that I wanted a new camera before heading to Florida in December, and I knew that I wanted time for us both to figure out how to use the darn thing before we had the daunting task of capturing our wedding/honeymoon adventures. We bought a package that came with a bag and another lens, and all pieces arrived last Friday. We decided to go to Olbrich Gardens the next day to get some practice in.

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Since it has his time to get to learn the camera too, I allowed myself to be the occasional subject. Nick was tickled that I was actually a good sport with pictures this time instead of giving him dirty looks whenever he so much as thought about getting me in a picture. Just for the record, I’d rather be behind the camera! It was good though…he practiced taking pictures of humans while I focused my attention on prettier things:

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It was the last weekend of their Blooming Butterflies exhibit. I have used Kodak cameras pretty much all of my adult life, so I was having a bit of a time figuring out where certain settings were on a different brand. You can see the rest of the pictures here if you like…they’re definitely a bit rough and could use some work with curves, but hey—they’re not bad for being a “getting to know your camera” thing!

I have missed taking pictures since I started school, but my eyes are just so tired after work and course reading. About three months to go and I am a free woman and can go nuts as a shutterbug. There is at least one more lens that I would like for the camera (a nice macro lens). I also want a flash, but I am not decided on which one yet. Then there are several other little accessories that have prices that don’t come with such weighty price tags.

Usually when we make a big purchase, there is always that period of buyer’s remorse. I love this camera. No remorse from me! Nick went out and bought a handful of accessories for it the other day, including a nondescript, smaller camera bag for traveling. I am happy that he is excited too—we should have done this a long time ago. Now bring on the wedding!

Sadly, I’m Totally Stoked

So this year is about accomplishing a lot of things, one of them being to run 1,000 miles this year. This challenge requires new shoes on a much faster rotation because I am reaching that 300 mile mark much faster. I got smart in February/March, and bought two pairs of 2009 New Balance running shoe models at a heavy discount. I have been rotating between the two pair, which are different models completely, with my runs. My feet feel awesome.

The NB shoes now come with those bubble laces. I love them. My shoes never come untied. Or at least they never did, until this year. Now I am wearing these suckers down. For the first time ever in my entire life, I need to replace shoelaces before replacing shoes.

So I ordered two sets of laces, and they arrived last week. Just tonight, I re-laced my first pair of shoes. Oh my lord, what a difference it makes! Like new shoes! They hug my feet properly again! I don’t have to double knot! I have another six weeks or so before I need to buy more shoes, so this is great to have the feeling of new for three dollars during the interim.

I keep telling myself to snap out of it, they’re only laces—BUT, they’re really nice laces without sweat stains and that new shoe smell!!! I’m definitely a lace-changing convert! Try it!