Cider Press Hill

Dog bed report

Friday, 3:39 pm

By Kate





Terry has now had her latest dog bed for nearly two months. It will be two months on July 2. She has not destroyed it yet. Nor has she been interested in destroying it. I believe we’ve finally found the perfect combo for her and she has developed a deep and abiding attachment to her bed. She treats it like gold.

Although the doggy bed was an inexpensive affair that I found on sale at K-Mart—a stuffed insert with a heavy fabric zipped and washable cover—it is still thick and comfy. I’ve inserted the entire bed inside a 30 gallon trash bag (like a pillow in a pillow case) with another trash bag slipped on from the other end. That provides wet feet protection and is easy to change if the plastic bags get ripped. I’d rather not have to take the entire bed apart to wash the cover every week if I can help it.

Over the top of that, I placed a genuine Martha Stewart extra soft blanket, Cuban Sand color. Twin size, folded in half. This blanket, I tell you, is indestructible. Terry has pawed at it with her sharp toenails and she has dug around in it to make her nests and she has even nibbled on signs of wear and tear. It’s as if I just took it out of the wrapper. Washes like a dream, too. It just grows softer and plushier. Terry loves her super soft blankie, so very much. It is her most favorite possession. Rather than cuddling with one of her stuffies now, she wads a part of her blanket up to cuddle with. It’s her all-purpose comfort device.

I can’t swear to it, but I think the trash bags covering her bed are also part of the appeal. She seems to like the smooth texture and usually pulls a corner of her blanket back so that she can lay her head directly on the trash bag cover. She’s a funny dog with just-so preferences. Anyhow, I think we did it. We have a winner. The perfect Terry bed.


Lottery winner!

Friday, 2:40 pm

By Kate





Yesterday my email brought me a scam email announcing that I’ve won the Econo-Global E Lottery. Kind of a cheapo lottery though—I only won $500,000.

Econo-Global Lottery
programs 45 Western Avenue
Lagos - Nigeria
Ref. Number: 87K4/336/T071/006
Batch Numbe: 468911521-Bc87


We are pleased to inform you of the result of the
Econo-Global E-Lottery programs 2006.

Your e-mail address attached to ticket number
27522465896 6433 with serial number 3772-554 drew
lucky numbers 942-20-23-28-45 which
consequently won in category 2E, you have therefore
been approved for a lump sum pay out of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND U.S. DOLLARS.

We ask that you keep your winning information
confidential until your claims has been processed and your money Remitted to you. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claims and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants.

All participants were selected through a computer
ballot system drawn from over Twenty Million
companies and Thirty Million individual email
addresses from all over the world. This promotional program takes place every three years.

This lottery was promoted and sponsored by software companies and eminent personalities, we hope with part of your winning, you will take part in our next three years Fifty million USD International Promotion lottery.

To claim your winning, please contact Dr. ChukwunyeEgo the coordinator Econo-Global Lottery programs with the following information only on this E-mail address

(5) SEX: 

Note: Anybody under the age of 18 is automatically

Sincerely yours,

SERVIZIO VOICE: TELEFONA e INVIA SMS dal tuo computer a tariffe vantaggiose!
Scopri come telefonare e videochiamare gratis da pc a pc.

I thought it was interesting that the email was routed through Italy, though it apparently originated in Nigeria, and with a response address. How global, indeed. I looked up one of the email routing addresses in the headers, on Google, which then led me into the world of 419 scams. And the serious new internet hobby called scambaiting.

These 419 scammers are criminals who manage to bilk innocent/ignorant/gullible/etc. people out of hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) each year. Some of their victims actually do travel to contact points throughout the world to meet with ‘representatives’ of said scam and, not infrequently, end up dead or kidnapped for ransom. It’s an ugly hard core business. But the scambaiters are, in many cases, even more creative and devious than the scammers.

Aside from the obvious allure of scamming the scammers, the scambaiters feel that the more time they spend tying the scammers up in knots, making them jump through increasingly bizarre hoops in the belief they’re really going to get their illgotten gains, the less time they’ll have to spend on successfully scamming innocent/ignorant/gullible/etc victims. I don’t know how effective it is, but it does appear to be a quickly growing hobby guaranteed to keep a lot of scammers busy.

One such scambaiter was written up in a BBC article, in 2004: Turning the tables on Nigeria’s e-mail conmen. From what I’ve read about scambaiting and on a few of the scambaiting forums, this is a fairly representative story, save for the exchange of cash by the scammer. That happens, but not often. Even criminals can be gullible.


Reclaiming my house

Thursday, 1:17 pm

By Kate




It is the oddest thing. The lad has been away for two weeks and will be gone another two weeks. My mind says “this is what it’s going to be like from the end of August until forever.” And while sometimes that is a freaky thought that sends little shocks to my nerve endings, I find that I’m beginning to plan as if he isn’t here anymore. It’s as if his return home from the middle of July until the last week of August is vacation and something to be planned around. In my mind, I think that I’ve already had him leave home. Something has definitely changed in the last week. When I talk with him on the phone it’s as if he doesn’t live here anymore and we’re just catching up on what the other is to adult. That was a brand new development that took me by surprise. But I like it.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been in a gradual process of reclaiming my house. For me and not with an eye toward accommodating the lad. Sometimes that feels strange (and a little guilt inducing), but mainly it feels good. There’s nothing big happening, but bit by bit, I’m rearranging patterns and habits that have been dormant for a long time. My house, my way.

It’s still a rather new feeling and I haven’t gotten used to it yet—I still find myself glancing at the clock thinking “he’s going to be coming in the door any minute” and then, he’s not. But more and more often, I find myself thinking that in another month, I can can move this, throw that out, put this away, pack these up...and on and on. Some of it I can do now.

I’m still not convinced that I’m ready for this empty nest thing, but all indications seem to suggest that it’s not going to be as bad as I thought. If anything, it seems to be growing on me, incrementally. I’m not look back, but looking forward with some amount of pleasant anticipation. I’m surprised at myself.

In unrelated news—the rain has finally stopped falling. And, after several days of ghastly humidity, that, too, is dropping. I can literally feel the air drying out and turning crisper this afternoon. That’s relative, of course. Eighty percent humidity isn’t exactly dry, but surely feels like it after the past week. I’m not sticking to everything this afternoon and the walls and floors have lost their tacky feeling. This is such a welcome improvement and it may even last for several days. Man, that would be a relief. I want to go outside and do gardening stuff—not only catch up, but start new projects, too. So far this summer, outdoor work has mainly been a matter of catching up on the basics between deluges. was trash day. My favorite day of the week. Strangers take anything away that I drag out to the curb. What a deal. It’s a good thing the lad wasn’t here this morning. He’ll never miss what I dispatched to the curb this morning, but I can guarantee that it would have been dragged straight back into the house if he had been here. Heh.


I have an address again. Yay!

Wednesday, 5:55 pm

By Kate





I am reminded, anew, why I ceased doing business with the US Postal Service in this town. I discovered that they were returning packages, publications and over sized envelopes to senders. I guess the ‘hold mail’ deal only applied to envelopes under a certain size. In their minds anyway. We surely must have the worst mail service in the US (fer instance the mail carriers who used to leave my new orders of bank checks sitting on top of the communal mail box at the end of the street. Every single time). Damn them. In the last two days my voice mail and email boxes have been full of reported returned mail. And my bank, bless them, soaks me $5 per account for returned mail that has to be resent.

But I do have a new mailing address (way cooler than the last one) and I’ve been wading through the changes of address. What a tedious project. Although, the Internet makes the project a little less tedious and a lot more timely. I still know that I am going to forget someone important and it’s going to come back to take a bite out of me at some point. I also take it on faith that the post office will totally ignore my change of address submission whenever the mood strikes. (Historical experience)

If I was a little more organized, I’d have all this information stored in one folder, neatly typed out for future reference. Right.


Here and there

Wednesday, 8:43 am

By Kate





Not that I should sound like a broken record or anything, but guess what it’s been doing outside?

Well, not quite rain, but it was misting for most of the early morning hours. Then we had intermittent sunshine for about a half an hour—our weekly allotment—and now the clouds have thickened and the wind is circulating off the ocean again. It’s supposed to be all downhill from here.

I noticed this morning, the north side of my house has adopted a green hue again this summer. I don’t know what it is exactly...I’ll just call it green slime. Between the humidity and the endless rain, it’s just blooming. There is probably no sense in trying to do anything about it until this streak of ugly weather passes. If it does.

So, for the next week, we can expect more of the same. Rain. Mist. Thunderstorms. Tropical Rain. Torrential Rain. Downpours. More thunderstorms. Floods. And let’s not forget more Rain and totally gross humidity.

But I haven’t seen a single mosquito yet this year. That’s downright weird. We’re surrounded by miles of mosquito producing salt marshes and they aren’t producing mosquitoes this year. If someone offered to give us one minute of sunshine per mosquito, I’d be tempted. But it is nice to walk outside without being pounced on by the hungry hordes.

Meanwhile, I also noticed this morning that my new redbud twigs have grown already. They have lots of new green growth that will soon become branches. At least they’re happy!


The lad called me last night. First I’ve heard from him since Friday when he announced that he’d like to stay for at least another week. I spoke with the Dad over the weekend and we agreed that this is a good experience for him and it would be okay for him to stay longer. The lad told me last night that his Dad had extended his stay for two weeks, though the Dad admitted to me that he’d much prefer the lad to come home this weekend. He’s still nervous and still freaks out if a day passes without being able to contact the lad, who thinks it’s rather amusing, when he checks his phone at the end of the day, to find 9 missed calls from his Dad.

It’s kind of funny, really. I’ve talked more and exchanged more emails with the man in the last week than in the previous 12 years. This has not been easy for him. I am surprised that he agreed to the extension.

Anyway, the lad regaled me with stories and his doings. Somehow or other he has found himself in charge of booking entertainment for the residents and volunteers. He’s learned more about the music industry and musicians guild in the past week than he ever wanted to know. But, in any case, he managed to book a New Orleans blues group/band called Slewfoot and Cary B for a bash over the weekend. Residents by the dozens showed up until the place was packed to the rafters and they ran out of prepared food. Sounds as if it was a fantastic success and Slewfoot was extremely pleased by and grateful for the turnout. New Orleans musicians are going through lean times. As I understand it, the musicians guild (or union) will pay the musicians for gigs done for charity. Slewfoot said there was a great deal of interest in Camp Hope’s proposed music night venue. It’s a win-win for everyone.

The lad is also in charge of designing and setting up a recreation room and social center for residents and volunteers. He’s lined up artists to paint murals on the walls and he’s been foraging for stuff to develop a Bourbon Street backdrop and a bluesy/jazz theme. Foraging is not a difficult task currently. Habitat for Humanity has built them a stage platform and he’s dug up several paint and furniture donations. He’s really enjoying this.

I asked how he managed to end up with these responsibilities and he simply replied, “I offered to do it.” Guess that’s a good reason. It’s a world where normal conventions seem to be in state of suspended animation.

Oh, he’s met a girl. They’ve gone on long evening walks in the French Quarter and spent time sitting in Jackson Square talking under the stars. So far, nothing more than platonic interest—at least that’s what he tells me. They have fun together. They’ve sampled taste treats in some of the touristy spots (Cafe DuMonde’s coffee and beignets) and have enjoyed catfish that ‘tastes like butter’ in some out of the way establishment. And also Lebanese food at Mona’s in mid-city.

And, let’s see...he also got to go out into bayou country (a short hop, skip, and jump) to deliver food to some outlying residents where the poverty was unimaginable before the hurricanes. A different world he said. And a darned buggy one (he came back infested with chiggers). The people are wonderful, but he couldn’t understand half of what they said (although he is learning from one of the local vols who is fluent in the patois—is that the right word or is that considered a derogatory term?). But he understood the genuine gratitude and generous smiles. The place is really growing on him. He loves the people and the place itself.

I am quite amazed. I don’t think he’s spending much time on sleep.

And, I’ll tell you, talking with him has been a different experience the last two times. He has grown up. So much so that it takes my breath away. It’s like talking to a different person. He’s on a completely different noetic plane than he was two weeks ago. And his vocabulary is different, too. He’s obviously been hobnobbing with some philosophers. I wonder how long it will last when he comes home. Maybe it will. He’s just different. In a really good way.


Go splat

Wednesday, 12:31 am

By Kate




partly cloudy

Let your inner Jackson Pollock loose. It’s fun. These work well for wallpaper if you have the tools to transform them from a screen capture.


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