Book Reviews, Cat Reviews and Life Reviews

Welcome to my blog! Check out this site for recommended books, stories about my cats, and stories from my life (real and sometimes imaginary.) Have fun! Unless noted, all photos have not been edited in any way. All content on this site is copyright INAMINI. All rights reserved.

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Location: Washington State, United States

29 September 2006

LOKi's Log

My cat LOKi decided he wants a blog. We started one today, and we had quite a time working with Blogger Beta. He is fairly proud of what he has so far, but, knowing him, he'll be morphing it as he goes along.
LOKi invites everyone to check it out, and offer suggestions, etc. The address is


28 September 2006

My Own Private Stonehenge

After writing about Stonehenge in Eastern Washington, I remembered that I had indeed seen yet another Stonehenge, and promptly forgotten about it. I hauled out my old pictures and scanned them, and then I sepiaed them to give them the feeling of antiquity. I'm not sure if this Stonehenge was actually formed before the one in England, but it sure felt like it.
This Stonehenge is also in Eastern Washington, but much further north. You had to know it was there to get there- no road signs. The road let into a sort of bowl-like valley. It is all volcanic, and the columns are made from basalt. We drove onto the valley floor to set up camp, so all these columns were lined up way above us. From the first time I saw them, I felt weirdly spiritual. Not something I'm used to. The whole frist night was sort of woogly-feeling. We had arrived just as it was getting dark, and set up the tent in the dark. I was looking into the tent-pole bag (filled with dangerous shock-cord poles,) pulled out a handful of poles, and managed to stick one in my eye, which had remained open because I didn't anticipate the danger. I managed to break a bunch of blood vessels in my eye (luckily no permanant damage,) and my eye continued to drool for a long time. All this time, the columns stood over us. Shortly after this boo-boo, we saw a blob of light in the northern sky. It was reddish, and it had a tail. How many people seeing something does it take for it to be a real UFO? We all saw it, and watched it go over us and down through the southern horizon.
That night, I had my usual insomnia, so I decided to go for a walk. The skies was very clear, and there was full moon. It was like walking in the daytime, complete with odd shadows. I climbed up to the circle of basalt columns, and walked through them. They were stunning. It was other-worldly, spooky, beautiful, Halloween-y.
I felt like there were dead people there, although I couldn't see them.
Okay, does anyone know of any other Stonehenges that I've missed? Maybe my next goal is to see every one of them except for the original.

P.S. The glowing orb that we saw was a Soviet (yes, this was that long ago) satellite re-entering the atmosphere. Pretty spooky, huh?


27 September 2006

Don't You Hope You'll End Up Like This

B and I have been married for almost 17 years. Since I never expected to make it to 30 years old (which, much to my chagrin, I did, and then some), let alone get married, I never developed a mental picture for my future. I know we will never have kids (by choice), so no one to take care of us when we get old(er.) (My, it's a parenthetical kind of day.) Sometimes, I see elderly couples walking and holding hands. They may even be smiling. I like it best when they are walking an elderly dog.
I would like B and I to be that kind of couple. Still speaking, wanting each other's company, and walking our cats. It's probably time to start training them.

Maybe we'll still be sleeping in the same bed, and enjoy our memory lapses. I'm hoping my migraines will have stopped by then (they say menopause may end them- something else to look forward to.) I'll probably still have the MINI Cooper, and I will have taken the Defensive Driving courses to give us a discount on our car insurance. Rest assured that I will still be Bending the Rules, and Ruling the Bends.

Since I don't like (and don't allow) having my picture taken, no one will know I'm getting old. I can use a picture of a good-looking couple and say it's B and I, and no one will be the wiser. I'm not sure what my natural hair color is now, so I can do anything purple and just focus on covering the gray.

I will probably be surrounded by books in Large Print, and lots of magnifying glasses. I'll buy 20 pairs of reading glasses for $20 at Costco, and put them everywhere so I don't have to remember where they are. I'll still be using my current laptop, which will be dated like the old 1926 Royal Typewriter I saved from a dumpster (yes, I'm also a lowly dumpster-diver) at the University of Washington. Oh my, I just realized that I have vintage raingear from REI, and a vintage Kelty frame backpack, and Oh My, LEATHER Vasque hiking boots. Maybe I'll grow old having some vintage value. Maybe you'll want to know me when I grow old...

All of this, of course, depends on if I actually get old.


26 September 2006

Things I Finally Know

At this stage in my life, and during another bout of insomnia last night, I've decided that there are a few things I know:

  • I know that flannel sheets are great year-round.
  • I know that I'm nothing in the great scheme of things, and that's okay.
  • I know that great chocolate can make my day; maybe even save the world.
  • I know there are things I will never discuss with my parents.
  • I know there are times I like coloring in the lines, but I'm happiest coloring outside the lines.
  • I know that just watching my cats get through a day, without my interfering, can be one of my greatest joys, while also being a great mystery.
  • I know that a good book will always be one of my best friends.
  • I know that my car makes me feel like I am someone (sadly enough.)
  • I know I will never understand children.
  • I know that my cat Bean will probably never really know what's going on.
  • I know that chocolate is good on bread (weird Dutch food.)
  • I know that violence is offensive, not sex.
  • I know that I'm great at starting things, but not so great at finishing them.
  • I know that Black Hook Porter makes me happy.
  • I know that knowing never ends, and it's my perogative to change what I know.

The End


25 September 2006

A Long Time Ago

A Long Time Ago.... was the last time I posted in this here blog. For shame! My bad! I think I have a reason that might suffice for two of those days; the rest of the days fell into my becoming even more compulsive-obsessive.
The large into the small- I came into possession of a bunch of old family papers/documents. For a history fanatic, this was a gold-mine. Included was the service record of my great-great grandfather, dated 1876. What is wonderful is that it has a complete physical description of him, with the shape of his chin and mouth, and even the color of his eyebrows. Way cool. All of this information in beautiful calligraphy (and all in Dutch!) The most emotional were my mother's and grandparents identifications from the war. My mother had no idea that these papers even existed. Most people threw them out after the liberation. There were also food ration coupons from during the war. There were letters dated from 1902, and also during the war.
In Holland, when someone dies, the family has a death notice made. They are on cards with a gray or black border (the envelopes also has the borders.) They are sent out and delivered immediately. I think this is a wonderful thing to do; it honors the person. My grandmother had saved them all from 1905 until she died (1987.) Here are all these cards that people had held so long ago, and meant so much to them. And my grandmothere had saved them.
She had saved a ton of letters also. It amazed me that she kept in such close contact with everyone after she emmigrated. Reading the letters are somewhat of a chore, not only are they in Dutch, the handwriting! Some of it is extremely diagonal.
I am still trying to translate everything, and then I have to scan it and save it to CDs. I have entered everything that I could get so far into the family tree. Based on the information, I was able to add over 100 names to the tree, all by searching the Dutch databases.
I can't figure out how my grandmother was able to save all this stuff. Two World Wars and an emmigration. And my mother didn't even know all these papers still existed. Blows my mind.
So, I'm sorry that I haven't written anything on the blog, but I have been working!

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14 September 2006

A Turbulent Mind

I just read an interesting little blurb(this is copied from the article in Discover magazine- Oct. 2006). Apparently, the paintings that Vincent van Gogh produced when he was at his most psychotic depicted natural phenomena brilliantly. Two men from the National Autonomous University in Mexico plotted the swirls in van Gogh's most turbulent paintings, which coincidentally or not, were made during his most serious dips in mental health. Van Gogh's spiral brushstrokes are near-perfect renderings of turbulence. From the largest visible swaths of paint to the tiniest strokes , his brushwork seems to simulate river eddies and cloud rotations.
Starry Night was painted during a stay in a French insane asylum. Road With Cypress and Star was made after a prolonged bout of disturbing hallucinations and Wheat Field With Crows was finished just before van Gogh committed suicide.
They found that van Gogh's eddies matched the famous (although never heard of by me) Kolmogorov statistical model of turbulence. For a laymen like van Gogh, that's qite a coup, since the problem of turbulence is generally considered the last unsolved mystery of classical physics. It could be possible that van Gogh's mind, warped by disease , was prepared to grasp phenomena that have baffled physicists for centuries.
Van Gogh's talent with natural forms has made an impact in science before. Last year a study found that bumblebees thay had never encountered real flowers favored his Sunflowers over the floral works of other well-known artists.
I went to the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam when I was in Holland. It was absolutely fascinating. The exhibit was presented chronologically, and the first works were the black and white sketches made of the Potato Eaters, and as I moved through the museum, I could see his art change as his mental illness took grip. Towards the end, the paint is very thick and aggressively applied. He was very aware of his mental problems, and he wrote letters to his brother Theo describing his pain. He also committed himself voluntarily off and on into mental hospitals. If you ever have the chance to see van Gogh's work, go see it!!!


13 September 2006

A Tour Of Tiles

This will be sort of a picture post- I seem to have run out of day. Hate it when that happens.

All my life, not surprisingly, I have been surrounded by Dutch tiles. Most are known as Delft tiles, but there other types of tiles also. When I went back, I fell in love with the extravagent displays of tiles in fireplace design. I've had a secret desire (yes, a very tame desire) to tile my kitchens with Dutch tiles, but then I would have to tear up my kitchen and bring it with us every time we move. Not very practical.

The first picture is from a house dated 1764, belonging to a friend of my father's. It was so 'gezelig' (roughly meaning cozy, cofortable) to sit in the arm chair and read in this room. The fireplace was magnificent- they were in the process of restoring it.The next two pictures are from Rembrandt's house, dated 1606. I wasn't allowed to get really close to the fireplaces, but they were beautiful. Just being in the house that he painted "The Nightwatch" was something special. Seeing his studio and the tools he used made me feel a little closer to history.
The last picture is from the "Openlucht Museum" in Arnhem, where actual old buildings have been moved from the whole country to make an open-air museum. This was the interior of a middle-class family's house. Very gezelig!

PS- I'm sorry this post looks so bad. I couldn't for the life of me get the pictures to post more attractively, and I finally cried myself to sleep.

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12 September 2006

Are You A Crazy Cat Person?

One of my friends has noticed the life-path I'm taking, and wanted me to admit it. Here is the quiz (you can get your own Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure below):

Are You A Crazy Cat Person?
  • Do you get excited when you hear a can opener?
  • Do you think cats are smarter than people?
  • Do you feel Tom is more talented than Jerry?
  • Do you have more cats than ex-boyfriends?
  • Do you bring new boyfriends home so the cats can meet them?
  • Do you later break up with them because the cats weren't impressed?
  • Do you spend more on doctor bills for your cats than yourself?
  • Do you buy the ice cream your cats prefer instead of the kind you like?
  • Can you tell your cats apart from the roughness of their tongues?
  • Have you ever warned a guest not to sit on a specific piece of furniture because it belongs to the cats?
  • Do you own more than one piece of clothing with a cat on it? (erm, I have some cat socks...)
  • Do you have a website devoted to your cats? Do you have a website for each cat?
  • Do you spend more on Christmas presents for your cats than your famliy?
  • Do you buy more than one kind of cat food because a few of your cats are picky cats?
  • Have you ever had to explain to a police officer that the stuff in the bag really is catnip?
  • Do you feel that the ancient Egyptian tradition of cat worship is the one true religion?
  • Is the sheet of instructions for watching your cats while you're on vacation longer than a page? Two pages? What vacation?

If you answered yes to seven or more of these questions, you may be a crazy cat person!

You can get your own Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure for yourself or someone you love!

11 September 2006

Where I Was

Where was I on 9/11? I was in Holland on a long-awaited journey into my past and my future. I wanted to see how all my parts fit together, and what might happen to the whole.
On 9/11, I was sitting at home alone, surfing the channels. My father and B were out grocery shopping. The house was pretty dark, and I was enjoying the aloneness. We'd been around each other a lot in the preceding weeks, and were, in fact, scheduled to come home on 15 September.
I ended up on CNN, and I saw the first plane hit the tower. I thought it was a movie special effect, and then I saw the second plane hit. Then I knew it was real. I sort of sat there in shock, and then I wanted to say something, but there was no one else there. It was a weird feeling. I just didn't know what to do.
B and my dad finally came home. We watched the news- stunned. What do you say? We watched it over and over again, but nothing got better. I don't even remember if we called my mother- I think my dad did. Since she was on the west coast, she found out after it had happened..

What was unexpected was that neighbors that we hadn't even met came over to say how sorry they were about the attacks. The owner of the house said that we could stay there as long as we needed if we couldn't return home as scheduled. The kindness of strangers... It was all a great upheaval, and we had no precedent to guide us. We didn'tnow if we were going to get home, if we had to contact a bunch of people to rearrange our return
As it was, we were able to return. Our tickets were through a Canadian airline (read cheap), and while their were no U.S. flights going out of Schiphol, the Canadian ones were. I'm not sure if I should say we were lucky...

10 September 2006

New Links

I have added a few more links to blogs that I enjoy.
Please check them out!

A Day in the Life...
Human Reflections
Waiting, wishing


A Drive Over A Lake

The IJsselmeer was created in 1932 when the Zuiderzee, an inland sea, was closed by a 32km (19.88 mile) dam, the Afsluitdijk. This was a part of a major land-reclamation project, which was known as the Zuiderzee Works. The IJsselmeer is now used as a major fresh-water reserve- for drinking water, agriculture and recreational activities (although I don't think my father's antics could exactly be construed as a recreational activity.) Continued draining of the IJsselmeer polders exposed many planes that had crashed into the lake during WWII.
My father's little escapade took place in a Citroen 2CV, a "lelijke eend" (ugly duckling.) My father and a couple of his buddies thought it would be a real hoot to drive the Lelijke Eend over the frozen IJsselmeer at night. Their destination- Urk.
Urk was a small isolated (and very religious) island for over 900 years, with salt-water fishing as its main economy. This ended when the Afsluitdijk was built. Urk was then connected to the mainland for the first time. Today, fishing is still the main industry.
Here is a little Urkian story:
The most famous Urkish folktale must be the tale parents tell their children when they want to know where little babies come from. The tale involves a big stone which is about 30 metres from the shore of this former island. This stone is known as the Ommelebommelestien (I dare you to pronounce that!) Legend has it that on this earth there are two kinds of people, strangers and Urkers (people from Urk). Strangers are usually born from a cabbage or a stork brings them to their new parents; however Urkers come from this big stone which lies about 30 meters from the shores of their former island.
Nowadays the stone is usually called 'Ommelebommelestien'(Ommel Bommel Stone), but in older days people used to call this stone the Ommelmoerstien: moer means "mother" in the Urkish dialect.
Father stork comes all the way from Egypt to put babies in this stone. When the baby is about to be born the baby's father has to go to Schokland to pick up the key that gives access to the stone. So when you ask a Urkish man if he has been to Schokland, you actually ask if he has children.
In the older days when both Urk and Schokland were still islands in the Zuiderzee, the father had to take the obstetritian in his boat and row from Urk to Schokland to get the key, and from Schokland to the Ommelebommelestien to get the baby. Nowadays he can probably just go to Schokland by car, but has to row to the stone anyway. The door to the stone is somewhere below sea level, so pretty hard to find.
Once the door is found a small price had to be paid for the baby, one Dutch Guilder for a girl but two for a boy. That was in the old days; nowadays the same amount has to be paid in euros, and because Dutch law does not allow sex discrimination, the price for both a girl and a boy is the same: 2 euros.
Mother is kept in bed with a nail through her right foot. She must celebrate that she has just become a mother. I'd rather celebrate with a gin and tonic. When you visit Urk be sure to have a look at this wonderful stone. Right in front of it a small statue is erected. It shows the father rowing to the stone and the obstetrician holding the baby.
Anyway, back to the intrepid travellers. It was dark, and since the IJsselmeer was a lake, there were no streetlights. Their only guidance was Urk's lighthouse. I'm not sure if most lighthouses are used this way. They had a couple of scares with rough ice, and thin ice. The conclusion is not very exciting, although the drive certainly was. They made it safely, and for some reason, this is one of my dad's favorite memories. My father- parting the Red Sea. He seems very proud when he tells it. I'm sure if I did the same thing I would hear forever about how stupid this kind of motoring is.

But then again, it might be just another reason why I do the sometimes not-so-wise things I do, and that I'm very proud of doing them.

09 September 2006

Palouse Falls

Palouse Falls is in Southeastern Washington. It is spectacular. It looks like you're driving on a flat plateau, and then, bam, you're standing over these falls. The view of all that water going down into a deep pool, and then flowing down the canyon, is mesmerizing.
There are five small falls above the main falls. Native American legend has it that the beaver god was being chased down the canyon, and then he flapped his tail five times, creating the smaller falls. The god then jumped down and landed at the bottom of the falls, and then resumed running. The streaks of basalt rock were formed by the beaver clawing the sides of the basalt walls.
These pictures were taken over many years, during different seasons. The falls and canyon are always beautiful. Eastern Washington's geology was formed mainly by volcanic basalt eruptions and glacial activity. Palouse Falls is south of the glacial activity, and it is mainly basalt and basalt formations Another Native American story is that the lichen plants that bloom along the canyon walls were the result of a food fight among some female gods.

Aren't these stories better than boring old geology?

08 September 2006

Additional Non-Marketable Skills

Since I was nowhere near listing all my lack of skills, here are some more.

  • I know the botanical names of native plants.
  • I can clip cats' nails.
  • I can give myself shots, and I can give myself IV meds.
  • I can hand-write.
  • I can give a cat a bath.
  • I know one good winery (let me know if you want the name)
  • I can spot a Dutch accent from hundreds of feet away.
  • I can eat with a fork and a knife.
  • I can tell the difference between Dutch and German (no, they are not the same!)
  • I know the Dewey Decimal System.
  • I can start a camp-fire.
  • I can make hot chocolate from scratch.
  • I can write a blog, at least I think I can.

07 September 2006

Stealth Gardening

I just realized that it's getting time to buy bulbs for spring flowering. The rules at our townhouse prohibit planting stuff in the small space in the back and the one in the front. They have planted these ugly shrubs and used the mulch that means that we did something really bad in our previous life- beauty bark.

That stuff is nasty. If you don't know what it is, it's chunks of cedar bark, a by-product of logging. I'll give that it looks nice at first- all woody and red-brown. Then it starts to fade, and now it just looks like dried-out crap. It is terrible to work with; I don't know how many invisible splinters I have gotten.
Anyway, I have planted some pots, but it just isn't the same as having a garden. That is truly the one thing I miss from having a house. B and I have decided to "Bend the Rules," and plant tulip and daffodil bulbs. We're pretty sure that we'll have to do it late at night. We'll rake up the beauty bark, find the soil, which will probably be mostly clay. Then we'll add good soil, get those bulbs stuffed down there, and add bulb food. Return the beauty bark, and no-one will know until the flowers pop up. Won't they be surprised!

06 September 2006

Stonehenge- The Copy

Here is another attempt at posting some pics of Stonehenge- the one in Washington State.
It looks like we have a lift-off! Yay!
The Journey- Continued...
After the stop at Stonehenge, we drove north to Yakima, and then through the Yakima Canyon, which has always been one of my favorite roads, and has turned out to be a great MINI-road. It was another sunny day, and we killed many a bug. All in all, a 750-mile trip.

Okay- here's a quick thought- I just read in the news that taller people are more intelligent than shorter people, based on a study from the U.K. This poses an issue for me since I am a big 5'2" tall. Okay, here's another thought. My parents aren't very tall because they grew up during the war and had very little food and no medical care. Of the kids in my family (4 of us,) none of us are tall (I am the shortest.) After the war, a new government was put into place, with emphasis on social issues. Everyone has free medical care and education, along with other benefits. Since all this has been in place, the Dutch population has become taller, and is now the tallest society in the world. When B and I were there, we were dwarfed. The women on average are 6 feet tall, and they pretty much looked like models.
Anyway, back to the original thought. I am going to go on believing that I'm okay even though I'm short. I wonder if I would have been smarter if I had grown up in Holland, notwithstanding the fact that their education system is leagues ahead of the U.S. Notwithstanding that the social system here sucks.

05 September 2006

The Long Way Home

For our route home, we decided to go through the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon side, and then cross the river back into Washington. We got our free continental (free is important) at the hotel, packed our large amount of stuff into the MINI, and took off into the sunrise. We stopped at several waterfalls- I couldn't believe how high and steep they were. I tried taking some pictures, and this one was the best. It was still pretty dark, and my digital couldn't handle it very well.

We stopped at Hood River to check out the "famous windsurfing scene". For future reference, know that Hood River has a lot of not-very-well-marked one-way streets. We got honked at embarrassingsly often. There was no wind, so no windsurfing scene. I remember going to a windsurfing area on Maui, and I have never seen anything like it. Hood River disappointed me.
After we crossed to Washington, the first stop was Maryhill Museum. It is modeled after a Flemish (read Southern Holland) chateau, and sits high all by its lonesome on a cliff over the Columbia River. It has several original Rodin sculptures and Romanian furniture. It was built by Sam Hill, of "What The Sam Hill" fame. There was no wood used in the building; interior walls are made of steel-stud construction with plaster over metal lath.

About four miles east of Maryhill, there is a replica of Stonehenge. It was also built by Sam Hill as a monument to the 8 young men from Klickitat County who were killed in WWI. I haven't been there for over 23 years, so it was really neat to see it again. I have always wanted to got to Great Britain to see the real Stonehenge. The idea of something made so long ago makes me almost tingle. I'm thinking that this may be the closest I'll get to the real one. Sigh...
I have pictures, but Blogger doesn't seem to be too excited about posting them. I will keep trying.
Maybe Blogger is anti-paganist?

04 September 2006

Catch-Up (Not Ketchup) Day

Okay, now I will try to get to today, which means dealing with previous days. First, I added a couple links to other blogs. Please check them out! They are "I Am Woman, Hear Me Blog," and "It's A Blog Eat Blog World."

I think this guy had the right idea!

The car show was a lot of fun.We met a lot of nice people, and worked hard to remain cool (yes, we are soooo cool!) and hydrated. The temperature was 93 degrees. On the trip down to Portland, we decided to go the scenic route. We went to the coast to see the Pacific Ocean, which was grand, to say the least. I never get sick of smelling the salt air and listening to the wind. Th weather was sunny, so the colors are beautiful. One place I was determined ti go to was Oysterville, a historic little town on the Long Beach Peninsula, which has over 25 miles of sandy ocean beaches. Leave me there! What a wonderful little town.. B and I have found another place to retire to. Again, as per our nature, more talking about retiring and not working. We'd be sitting on the beach everyday, just staring at the water and listening to the wind- we are easily occupied. That's a wonderful by-product of being the "High I.Q. Couple.
Back to the car show- here are some pictures:

I just love the Classic Minis!

Tomorrow, I will write about our trip home (we took the long way home!) I could post a lot more tonight, but I have to deal with real life, which sucks.

Here is a book about Oysterville, which was written by a member of the founding family of the town. Maybe it will convince you to visit also!

03 September 2006

Okay, So I Missed a Day

Yes, yes, I didn't post anything yesterday. I would have, honest, but Internet access at the hotel pretty much sucked. I'm not writing much today, due to driving exhaustion. I will address everyone's comments tomorrow, after I have taken a really long shower. Thanks for reading and commenting! Here are a couple of pictures from the car show. Okay, so I didn't follow through on that either (computer and/or Blogger won't let me.)
Tomorrow, tomorrow! Gives you something to look forward to!

01 September 2006

On the Way to the Car Show

Yes, today we motored a great distance to go to a car show. We finally made it to Portland, OR- and after a tussle with the hotel staff (they said that we didn't have reservations- but I convinced them we did) we re-washed the car. God, I didn't know that large wasps can wedge themselves so deeply in a car's orifices. Maybe that's not so unusual at high speeds. It sure didn't look like we spent four hours washing it yesterday.
It was a day to be thankful for air-conditioning. I didn't know it would be so warm- usually I prepare the night ahead by spraying Febreze on my clothes as a pre-emptive strike. Today I simply stunk.
Okay- big question- is it all right to wrap your whole identity around a car? My answer is yes- especially if you don't have one to begin with.
Remember that.