Enter the Cats

Ah, my babies. Our first cat, Skittles, was brought home curled up in my 12 year old stepson’s t-shirt; he asked if we could keep her and we couldn’t resist. She was my “only child”, a sweet beautiful kitty (when she wasn’t being a ferocious hunter) who was with us for almost 18 years. She finally succumbed to kidney disease in December of 2009. This is my Skittles.

We weren’t sure we could bear to have another kitty after that; but three weeks later, on New Year’s Eve 2009 I found myself on the SPCA website looking for another baby to adopt. I found a beautiful little black kitty and D offered to go out to look at her. Well…our next door neighbor and good friend worked at the SPCA at the time. When we told her we were interested in adopting and told her which kitty we were looking at, she said: “It’s your lucky day! That kitten has a brother who needs adopting too, and it’s two for one day–you can adopt them both for the price of one!” Of course D loved them both and there was no way he could leave one sitting in the cage while he took the other one home.

Baby grandson Jojo with baby kitties Rico and Zoe

So we ended up cancelling our plans to go to a New Year’s party that night, and stayed home laughing our butts off at the antics of two three month old kittens. There was the Cat Condo Caper–we had a large packing carton which they thought was great fun, and D had a blast cutting out doors and windows in it, then taping it together with other boxes. That lasted until one of his grandkids wanted it for HER condo and it ended up eventually breaking apart.

Then there was the paper bag game, which Zoe and Rico thought was great fun–but you know how that goes, it’s all fun and games until somebody gets the handle stuck around their neck. 🙂

These two cats LOVE each other–they washed each other, slept and played together. It was so sweet to see, and we were so glad they got along.

Then about six months after getting Rico and Zoe, our neighbor told us about another beautiful black and white cat that needed a home. He unfortunately had been at the shelter too long and was in danger of being euthanized if he wasn’t adopted soon. D’s daughter was going to take him but it didn’t work out and so….Ozzy joined our household.

Checking out his new home

He’s three months younger than the other two but is SO long and large, he appeared more adult.

We were a little nervous about introducing a new guy to our happy pair, but after a day or two of hissing and showing the new guy who was boss, both Rico and Zoe warmed up to Ozzy. They’ve been together almost two years now, and all three of them still play and eat together and often sleep together. They even hunt together!

They are all three mighty hunters–so far they’ve brought in all kinds of rodents (alive and dead), birds (even a live steller jay they managed to get in the cat door!), a squirrel (dead), a Pacific ring neck snake (alive), and their last prey was a bat (also alive, that was flying around our TV room). We’ve had a bit of a reprieve with the colder winter weather, but when spring arrives, the fun will begin again…

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Keeping It Weird

Just back from a weekend trip to Portland, Oregon.  I hadn’t been there in years and was looking forward to exploring.  Cold temps (well, cold for us Cali Central Coasters) and rainy weather kept me from doing as much walking/exploring as I’d planned, but I was still able to capture some of the unique weirdness of which Portlanders seem so proud.

Portland’s signature motto:

Across the street from the billboard was this amazing sculpture in front of a clothing boutique for “queen-sized” women:

In front of a women's clothing boutique

The Hippo Hardware store is a Portland institution, in business for over 35 years and boasting an impressive selection of vintage, hard to find, or just plain funky hardware, lighting and plumbing, not to mention the most amazing collection of hippo and other stuffies anywhere.

Every column on the building is decorated with a painted hippo, but this one with the “Mom” tattoo was my favorite:

At the Hippo Hardware store

Part of the hippo collection:

I’m not sure how good their actual inventory was–I was more intrigued by the decorations:

This guy's been wandering around in the store too long....

I could have spent all morning just there, but there were other sights to see. We drove by the Voodoo Doughnut Shop but didn’t have time to check it out. One of their signature doughnuts–a bacon maple bar. Yep, you heard right, a maple bar topped with bacon.

A quest for a good place for brunch brought us to The Original “A Dinerant” on SW 6th, based on diners of the 50s and 60s, featuring comfort food in large portions. I ordered a veggie breakfast burrito that would easily have fed three people. One of the vegetables in the burrito was Brussel sprouts! It’s never been a favorite vegetable of mine, but it had been sautĂ©ed with cumin–excellent! There’s also an art gallery contained within the restaurant and artwork is displayed on the walls of the restaurant. This rather odd mixed media taxidermy work by Brooke Weston caught my eye:

It turns out Brooke is from here on the Central Coast, and as the bio on her website states:

Her addiction to the bizarre, morbid and fantastical was apparent at a very young age.

Bizarre, indeed.

We also visited a very nice farmer’s market. Had I not been going to hop on a plane the next morning, I would have stocked up on some delicious-looking produce. Especially loved the black carrots:

Something truly weird about Portland is that chickens are a favorite pet, to the point that tours of local chicken coops are offered! Next trip, I’ll have to add the Tour De Coops to my itinerary. 🙂

Nothing weird about this image–it was a beautiful old gate covered with ivy, just across the street from our friends’ home in the Portland Heights district:

The weekend was filled with excellent company, good food and fun–and despite an introduction to voodoo doughnuts, tattooed hippos, taxidermy and chicken art, and Brussel sprout burritos, I have a feeling I’ve only scratched the surface of Portland’s unique weirdness.

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I suppose I need to get on my Twitter account more.  I’m not really familiar with it and I feel old when I try to use it!  There’s lots of slang, lots of shorthand, lots of references to things I’ve never even heard of before.  This was amazing:

#BestBandsIHaveSeenLive one direction tehe. d3y luked gorjuss specially @zaynmalik. his i’s. i cud see dem shine from da back row. xxxxxxx
After reading it a few times, I translate it to “One Direction”.  Teehee.  D3Y (is that the name of a person?) looked gorgeous especially @zaynmalik. His eyes. I could see them shine from the back row.”  Right?
So I find translating some tweets from Spanish to English for the articles I work on for Global Voices pretty difficult.  My next challenge is to set up a Twitter account in Spanish and try to start navigating around that.  If I can get to understand Spanish-language tweets, I can translate anything!
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Lost in translation…

A side benefit to working on the translations for Global Voices is learning about so many different issues and events I admit I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to learn about on my own:  the legacy of African-Peruvian music in PerĂş; social movements–waste pickers in Latin America working for social/legal inclusion and recognition of their work and Peruvians demonstrating against mining interests that could damage the ecosystem in Cajamarca; political events–a possible pardon for Alberto Fujimori in PerĂş; also in PerĂş, a new law criminalizing femicide; the mayor of Panama City resigning under pressure from the president.

The biggest problem for me is that I’m an avid reader and learner–once I start clicking on the links in the articles I’m translating, it leads to the next link and the next….soon I have webpages covering my screen and the biggest challenge I have is to stop reading all the back stories and get back to the translation.

It’s noon, and I am still sitting at my computer in my jammies, having been here all morning, first translating an article about the resignation of the mayor of Panama City and then reading articles about the history of Panamá.

The translation is done, and it’s a beautiful day outside so I really should get out into the sun. 🙂

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First Translation for Global Voices Online

When I started my first translation for Global Voices, I was….frightened! The assignment was a fascinating article about social networks helping create visibility for primary recyclers in Latin America, and I was excited to translate it from Spanish to English.

I’d never worked with WordPress before, however, so when I clicked on the HTML tab to begin work, all I could see was a lot of confusing code. For you experienced bloggers out there, it would have been no big deal, but it was quite daunting to a newbie like me. Fortunately, I had the help of Silvia Viñas Regional Editor, Latin America for GV. She and Paula GoĂ©s, the Multi-Lingual Editor for GV, have been immensely encouraging and helpful in getting me started with this project.

It is gratifying to be associated with such a worthwhile project–a space for people whose stories are often ignored or downplayed by mainstream media to communicate for themselves and let the rest of the world know what is going on in their countries.

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A new adventure for me–trying out the world of blogging.  I recently started volunteering as a Spanish/English translator for GlobalVoicesOnline.org, “an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from around the world.”  GV bridges the gap created by mainstream media not always reporting items of interest to millions of the world’s citizens.

From their website:

Global Voices aims to redress some of the inequities in media attention by leveraging the power of citizens’ media. We believe in free speech, and in bridging the gulfs that divide people.

We wish to:

  • Call attention to the most interesting conversations and perspectives emerging from citizens’ media around the world by linking to text, photos, podcasts, video and other forms of grassroots citizens’ media.
  • Facilitate the emergence of new citizens’ voices through training, online tutorials, and publicizing the ways in which open-source and free tools can be used safely by people around the world to express themselves.
  • Advocate for freedom of expression around the world and protect the rights of citizen journalists to report on events and opinions without fear of censorship or persecution.

Not only do I get to participate in a vital part of the worldwide communication and information chain as a volunteer translator, I also am earning credit for a Graduate Certificate in Translation Studies from the University of Denver.

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.— Gustave Flaubert

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