Friday, January 30, 2009

Amber & Customer Service Letter #412

Dear Starbucks,

I have long been a fan of your product, hotdrinks. I generally have a cup of coffee every morning, and several cups of tea throughout the day. Eeven when my hotdrink is not from your establishment, I say a little thanks to you for making coffee taste better in America. Those new breakfast sandwiches that you cook by nuclear radiation are so super yummy, and your new product, London Fog Tazo Tea Latte is my new favorite drink ever, even though I always request only one vanilla instead of the three that come in a venti. (Too much vanilla in my tea turns it into dessert.)

However recently, you invented a little green plastic thing to prevent hotdrinks from spilling out the top of your weird puffy lids. People seem to call these "splash sticks." On the one hand, this is genius. It meshes perfectly with your brand identity and overflowing foam is a problem I have dealt with on the front of my shirt many times. But seriously, wouldn't it better to do away with the puffy lid in favor of one of those coffee shop ones with the tab you can pull up or down? You know which ones I mean? Do we need yet another accessory for our morning cup of hotdrink? We already have the sleeves which you foist upon us even if we bring our own. Now little green stick things are going to show up on the floors of subway cars everywhere. Is that the kind of brand exposure you want?

Therefore, I think it is only fair to ask you to put ONE MILLION DOLLARS on my Starbucks Card in payment for this good advice. I am sure you will agree that this is only fair and will guarantee my loyal fandom for years and years to come.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Amber & Bye, Bye Botanicals

The countdown has begun. On February 13, I will leave my position as Chief Gardener at the Bronx Garden of Botanical Delights in order to become Nursery Director at Mother Goose, Inc. CRD thinks I am going to be so good at herding all those kittens with lost mittens. I hope also to expand the diets of both Jack Spratt and his wife.

Bye, Bye, Garden.

Hello, Mother Goose, Inc.

Amber & Hero Wars

It's hard when your philosophical or spiritual parents fight. Like when Pappa Noam Chomsky says that Koko doesn't really have language because she has no grammar and Dr. Penny says she does because she is communicating complex thoughts through repetitive symbols.

I'm caught in the middle of an argument, and I think I'm going to hide in my room. Dr. Temple Grandin says that a big reason that kitties' emotions are hard for us to read is because they don't have eyebrows like dogs do. James says they do. And, he has even named a day after them. Mark your calendars for Kitty Eyebrows Day, celebrated on June 8. As James describes....

"This is very special day of kitty mystery when every year since 2006 we celebrate kitty eyebrows."

Who's right?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Amber & Small Pets

When I lived in Madisonwisconsin, I thought seriously about getting a small, cage-living pet to both satisfy my need for expanding my love-recipients and to provide some enrichment for Woody & Tiggy. I really wanted a hedgie-- I don't know if you know, but I love hedgies-- but they are illegal in many states, including the one I live in. has showed me that having a hedgie would have been a mistake.
I think having him as a pet would only activate Pet Hedgie's FEAR system.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Amber & When the Cat Lady is Away...

I was away for the weekend and Kevin watched over my kitties. I came home and everything seemed good... nothing was broken, only one roll of paper towel was shredded, and the peppermill was in its alternate home under the couch. I was relieved.

But then Nick found this photo of Ginger & Pickles on the Internet! Clearly, someone took them outside for a walk and was showing off their cuteness to passers-by.

As much as I am eager to share my babies cuteness with the world, I am also afraid of DANGER! What if they had run away? You can tell that they are scaredy by how non-fluffy their tails are! Scandal!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Amber & Brunch

Brunch is my favorite meal. I am so glad they have it here in Boston, too, and it comes with a side of mild amusement and tolerance of my photoresearch.

Amber & When Dreams Become Real

Remember this?

Well, I gotz it.

Amber & Boston Corgis

Boston is different than New York. There are some really nice things here that we don't have in New York.

An example is the nice Corgi named Bunny in the tights and shoe store. [Scroll down for a better picture of Bunny.]

Bunny looks kind of freaky in this photo, but really she was a giant love muffin. Corgis are sheep dogs, but really really small ones. Maybe they have a specialty in small sheeps. I got some nice stripey tights, but I really wanted to take Bunny home with me. Surprise, Woody! You have a new Baby Sister.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Amber & But Wait, There's LOTS More

I know I was super excited about the two new Boneses just one post ago. But, if I weren't already away for the weekend, I would have a very full schedule!

There's a new Psych about firemen. What could be better? Gus and Sean making pop cultural references from my youth, witty fast-paced banter, and fake psychic MURDER solving? What?

And then, there's a new Burn Notice. This is a show about a former spy trying to figure out who framed him and got him laid off. The thing that makes this show is the voice over where the main character, Michael Westen, explains how spy things are done. It's like a DIY home spy kit. I've learned all kinds of things about making my own cover identity, bomb construction from yogurt in my kitchen, and breaking and entering. Educational. And, in this episode, maybe he will find out that his archnemisis is a Cylon and maybe she's just in his head?

There are probably alot more free Internet Programs (BSG, Lost, 30 Rock, etc.) to tell you about in case you were wondering how to spend your weekend, but I want to go to brunch now. You keep watching.

Amber & Best Bones Ever

I just watched the Best Bones Ever while here in Boston. CRD and I love Bones and think every episode is pretty spectacular, but every now and then there's an episode that's so good, you want to watch it twice. This was the case with the first 2009 episode of "Double Trouble in the Panhandle."

In it, Booth and Bones have to go undercover as circus performers to solve a mysterious MURDER.This epsiode was AWESOME. It was packed with features I love including, but not limited to, Booth, Bones, circus, fake moustaches, undercover, eye patches, and fake Russian accents. We also get some Sweets backstory.

But wait, there's more. By the grace of god, we get ANOTHER new Bones. This one is about ice in its various form: ice fishing, ice hockey, murdered bodies being "iced. It's also a really strong feature but doesn't have eye patches or circus acts and the corpse is a little fleshier than I would prefer. But, there are the usual funny jokes. My favorite line was delivered by Cam when she says, "I like it, just a little too much." I feel the same about these characters.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Amber & Cat Care Instructions

In the event you were ever to at-sit for me, you would get instructions like the following.

I have four cats, Woody, Tiggy, Ginger, and Pickles. Please feel free to fondle the babies. I would advise against trying to touch Tiggy, and Woody might want some pats, but you'll have to sense him out.

On Friday morning, I left the kitties with two dishes of wet food and two dishes of dry. That will hold them over until Saturday.

All of the foods are in the kitchen on the floor. The kittens and Woody eat together, but Tiggy seldom joins them. When you come, you can put down two cans of wet food. There are two different brand foods. Make sure when you do a feeding that you only dish out one brand per feeding. But, you can do whichever brand you like. If you try to serve two different flavors, it causes fighting-- the kittens want whatever Woody is eating, Woody wants the kittens to leave him be, etc.

All of the food is on the white shelves in the kitchen. To serve the wet food, you put one can on a big dish and then sort of mush it with your fork. To that mush, you add one can of water and mix it together to form a sort of stew consistency.

The dry food is in the same spot. You can just fill up the bowls. The kittens eat pretty much constantly, so those bowls should be filled at all times.

There are also some treats on the top of the bookshelf in the bedroom. You can give each kitten one and then Woody and then Tiggy. Tiggy doesn't really like them and won't eat hers but she sniffs it and walks away. It's good for her to have the option.

There are four litter boxes: two in the bathroom, one in the living room near the T.V., and one in my bedroom behind the rocking chair. You'll need to scoop all of them for poops and pees. There will be LOTS. Because they eat constantly, kittens all do the OPPOSITE constantly. There is a plastic bag on the bathroom doorknob and another one in the kitchen. You can use those and just bring them out with you when you go. Don't flush the litter! It clogs 95% of the time. The scoop is a pink thing on the back of the open box in the bathroom. There is also an open bag of litter in the bathroom with a bowl in it. You can add one bowl of litter to each box after you scoop. Because there are kittens who pee 50 times a day, I have tried putting in way more litter and it seems to work good.

For enrichment, you can open the window gate in the bedroom while you're there. The babies like to look out. You can also take the sleeping bag on the foot of the bed and sort of spread it out differently to mix it up. And I left a red sheet on the end of the bed that you can make a nest out of on the couch, too.

Ginger's favorite game is sponge ball. There are these spongey balls (a pink one, an orange one, some are painted like soccer balls) that you bounce and he goes nuts for. The balls get lost regularly, so you may have to go on an explore under furniture to find them. He can carry it around in his mouth, which is super cute. And he's learned to growl-- the new fun part of the game is that he holds the sponge ball in his mouth and growls near other cats to try to provoke them.

Pickles favorite game is throwing fur mice. Or maybe it's wrassling on his back and biting your hand.

Tiggy's favorite game is being left alone. You can open the top dresser drawer and the cabinet for her to go in.

Woody might like some rubs. You can use the blue brush near the canned food or a people brush and just brush his head between his ears. He HATES to have his body brushed, but LOVES his head groomed.

If there is hissing or the adults make noise at the kittens, let them be. It's important they can assert themselves to the kittens. They're not that stressed out-- they're just telling the kittens they don't play that crap.

There are three water dishes which will definitely need to be refilled. The kittens clean their toys in their dishes, so they empty about once each day. The dishes are under the table, in the hall outside the bathroom, and against the big blue wall in the bedroom. Rinse and refill them in the bathroom-- the kitchen water is nasty-tasting and they don't like it. If Woody shows interest in sink hands, the new way we do it is that I fill my hands up with water in the sink and he sits on the edge of the tub. I then put my hands right in front of him and he drinks. We usually do this three times in a row.

If Ginger's eyes are goopy, there is an eye wash near the lamp in the bedroom you can just drop in his eyes. Hold him tight, he doesn't mind it so much, although he hates the antibiotic cream (so you don't have to do that). There are also "pet wipes" you can use to clean the boogers if you need to.

I left the heat on in both the living room and bedroom. Windows are open in the kitchen and living room, and the bathroom (no screen! DO NOT OPEN MORE!) is cracked.

I am HIGHLY reachable in Boston, or you can't let me know if there are any questions at present. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Amber & Temple Grandin

While I was eating my vegetarian chili, I just read this really nice review of the new book Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals and then placed an order for it on Amazon. I love Temple Grandin as much as she loves animals, but maybe not as much as I love animals.

If you haven't heard about her, Temple is austic and has theorized that the experience of being austic is much like experiencing animal perceptions and emotions. I've read everything she has ever written (some things in bound proof form) and I take very seriously her opinions on how to make sure my cohabitating beasties have full, happy lives.

I can't wait to write a book review to share with you all.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Amber & Mystery: Solved

Remember this mysterious photo?

Jimmy explains the mystery!

"The photo was taken at the annual Epiphany diving for the cross at the South Street Seaport. A Greek congregation from Astoria holds a ceremony and then men dive in the water for the cross -- the first one to get it receives a blessing. This year, even though it was "warmer," the water had turned into an undulating icy Slurpee. The Police diver, pictured, is advising one of the priests not to have men dive in for safety reasons. Instead they tossed the cross into the water on a lanyard and then yanked it back up. Here's another priest untangling the lanyard for that:"

Who'd have guessed?

Amber & Obama Dreams

Collectively, we're all excited and dreamy-eyed about our new President. Even if he dances just like me and steals my signature move.

Our new President creeps into conversations, our, and little kids' homework, and I'm sure it's only a short time before he starts making guest appearances in our nocturnal memory filing and brain clean-up activities, known as "dreams."

The clever folks over here at I Have An Obama are ready for us. You can add your dream or, once one of my friends enters his own dream where he is browsing real estate and Obama comes with the apartment-- and then the apartment is the White House!--but it's in Murray Hill-- you can read the dreams of others.

Amber & Don't Eat the Kitties

Kitties are not food. Even though sometimes they are so delicious that you feel like you want to eat them up, you should not.

Even though they might bite you, or gnaw on your face when you go to kiss their bellies, you are the more advanced animal and you need to set an example. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you-- not as they do unto you at 6 a.m.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Amber & Kinkajous? No, kinkamoi.

Kevin asked, with seeming urgency, in the comments below...

What is that Tiggy!?

At first, I was confused because everybody knows that Tiggy is a magnificent animal: a cat. But, I figured out that what Kevin was asking is...

What animal does Tiggy resemble in this week's Tiggy of the Wink?

The answer, dear readers, is a kinkajou. This little guy is an arboreal rainforest mammal, and is also known as the "honey bear," which happens to be my nickname for my sister and Woody. And of course, Pooh. The Bronx Zoo has one of these little buddies. I wonder if he works in the Membership ofice with my friend Gale.

You can get kinkajou wallpaper here at National Geographic, or you can read about a real old Hawaiian kinkajou here. I don't advise getting one as a pet, not because I don't think you'd be a loving kinkamomma, but because they're not really domesticated animals and won't really be happy-- even if you buy them a carpet tree, it won't compare to a real one. And, as Paris Hilton will tell you, they bite.

They sure are cutie, though.

Amber & Spoilers

No spoilers, people! I am not watching the inauguration until tonight, so don't tell me how it turns out. I want to be on the edge of my seat.

This t-shirt says it all.

Yes, we can wear novelty t-shirts (but not to work)!

Amber & Kitty Computing

What is it that attracts kitties to laptops?

They're all over lolcats.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

And, a while back, I found Woody busy Googling.

If you click on the image, you can see both what he was looking up, and what Google suggested he meant.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Amber & Big Bar

I've always wanted just to be a regular person. You know, the one who comes in to an establishment and the proprietors greet by name? And the one who has a "usual?"

I'm currently a regular at Webster Café during the breakfast rush. I come in, they say good morning and, without asking, pour me a large coffee with milk and sometimes sugar (sometimes not), no bag, one napkin. I am a regular who sometimes gets sugar and sometimes not.

It's real nice being a coffee regular, but I'd really rather be a regular at Big Bar. Way, way back in the day, Arto, Lara and I would go there to discuss our independent studies. Back then, my drink of choice was a seabreeze and my preferred topic was Blondes. Then, I became a vodka tonic girl to keep away the mosquitos. I did a short spell as a whiskey drinker (neat, water on the side), but that's a little much for my gardener wages and current medicinal combinations. Then, I moved on to gin and tonic-- even though Grandma said Never trust a gin drinker.

I used to live across the street from Big Bar. Now, even though I live far, far north, it's still my preferred meeting place. Good music, red lighting that vaguely suggests something illict, and booths. And friends. I associate Big Bar with Kevin, Art and Diana. I can think of no more pleasant way to pass an evening on the Lower East Side.

Hey, is my glass on the table there half empty? No! It's half full.

Amber & Photographic Mysteries

Two mysterious photos have presented themselves this evening.

The first was found in my recent phone synching. Last night's phone chaos began when Diana wanted to do something fun. Kevin, she and I went to see Milk at a theater on 42nd Street. I left CRD a message, inviting him along, and then sent him 14 text messages just to be sure he knew I was trying to reach him.

Anyhow, when I got to the theater, I discovered that I couldn't sign on to my phone. I kept getting the PIN screen, and the buttons clicked, but it never let me in to the phone to answer incoming calls-- except magically once I put on the earbuds I could answer using that squeezy thing on the cord.

After the film, which was beautiful and moving and so incredibly well method-acted, Kevin fiddled around and eventually fixed my phone. However, when I went to synch this morning, I discovered that the phone had somehow photographed itself in the midst of not allowing me to use it. Caught in the act, phone!

The second mysterious photo was taken by James.

I'm tempted not to explain what's happening here and make you guess. In fact, why don't you guess in the comments and then we'll let Jimmy tell us tomorrow if you're right?

Who was it that urged us to think critically about images that promise to contain dangerous knowledge, and perhaps truth? Oh, right. Art Simon.

Amber & Bonus Content

I took this photo last night of CRD and his nephew, Kitty Zach.

There are a number of remarkable things about this photo, about which I will now remark with numbers.

1. Zach matches CRD's pants super well. It's like it's fate for them to be nephews.

2. Zach is, apparently, very bendy. He is folded in half and doing bicycles with his legs. The thing you can't tell from the photo is that he was purring ferociously because being bent on his nephew CRD's lap is his fave.

3. CRD seems surprised that I am taking the photo, even though he was not. He is method acting, being the surprise.

4. This bonus post is for Kevin who thinks it is odd that CRD and I limit ourselves to one post per day when some days there might be many more things to post about. Like cats.

Amber & Dreams I Have Had

Happy MLK Jr. Day!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Amber & Kittendom

This video I found on during my morning "news" review perfectly sums up the nature of kittenhood.

I post this after having been woken up by this guy's cold, wet nose pressing against my eyelids, and his brother helped by licking my hairline right behind my ears.

They just wanted to wrassle.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Amber & Shortcomings

The Great Paint Endeavor of 2009 has begun!

I picked a pretty blue-gray, "beacon gray," for all four bedroom walls.

The color matches Woody's eyes perfectly.


I bought this decal set in white for the wall across from the bed.

Only, I'm undecided if I can put other things on the wall with those decals, namely the photos of friends from Jimmy that used to be there. Opinions welcome in comments below.

Only one wall in the living room is getting painted, and it is the unfortunately named pinkish brown, "burlap."
It matches the color of the tips of Woody's ears.

Right now, with nothing on it, it reminds me of the color crayon I used to use for my skin color when I was little. Or a ballet slipper. But soon it will have stuff on it and be less fleshy.

So, things seem to be going well. Turns out you can wash paint off with water these days! I remember paint thinner from my youth. Progress!

A special thanks to CRD for coming up this afternoon to help me with the tops of the walls. Even with my step ladder, I just couldn't reach. I get by with a little help from my tall friends.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Amber & The Prisoner

Long ago, on a couch now far away in a landfill somewhere, James introduced me to The Prisoner on DVD. I loved it. The opening credits tell you the backstory, which is also about as much explanation as you ever get.

They want information; they'll never get it. He thinks he is not a number; they think that's laughable. Etc. The show is said to be one of the major inspirations for Lost, another show that takes place on a mysterious island. But, instead of the rover (backward footage of a weather balloon), they have a smokemonster keeping them from wandering off too far. And we don't know who"they" really are, do we?

R.I.P. Patrick McGoohan. Be seeing you.

"I think progress is the biggest enemy on earth, apart from oneself… I think we're gonna take good care of this planet shortly… there's never been a weapon created yet on the face of the Earth that hadn't been used…

…We're run by the Pentagon, we're run by Madison Avenue, we're run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don't revolt we'll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche… As long as we go out and buy stuff, we're at their mercy. We're at the mercy of the advertiser and of course there are certain things that we need, but a lot of the stuff that is bought is not needed…

…We all live in a little Village… Your village may be different from other people's villages but we are all prisoners."

— 1977 interview

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Amber & Thursday Off

After working an excessively large amount, I find that, now that I am not working, I like not working better than working. First of all, you get to sleep as much as you need to. And, you can do chores and stuff that helps make your life easier like buying groceries.

And you get to see what your kitties do all day. Not surprisingly, they sleep.

And some sleep on the window sill, which I have actually never seen before.

And some of them miss you. You can't tell that for sure because you are there (like the tree falling in the forest), but the clues are that she follows you around all day and climbs on your chest every time you sit down.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Amber & News Items

I have sooo many news items to report.

1. Ginger and Pickles have had their manhood stolen from them by Dr. Schaubhut.
And, while he was at it, he also removed a polyp the size of a nickel which was blocking Ginger's throat. Ginger still has conjunctivitis--and it was boogers, not glue sealing his eye shut as CRD falsely reported. Pickles is taking the loss of his manparts pretty hard; he's sleepy and mewy. But, Ginger is back trotting around the house and biting everything in sight.

2. Mandara had a baby! It's a gorilla!
You may, or may not, remember Mandara from my time volunteering at the National Zoo. She and Barack, the Zoo's silverback, had a tiny, tiny baby. They don't know yet if it's a boy or a girl, but they are 100% it is cute. You need to see the video here. Keeper Becky, who totally remembers me, sent this photo.

3. I am getting my hair did today and may abandon my six-hairs plan.
Medium hair is just so hard and medium seeming. I may need to go back to short and abandon all hope of puffs. But flips are nice, right?

4. Cranberry won.
You, my dear readers, picked cranberry as the preferred color for my yarncraft accessories. A victory for the bitter berry despite Diana's best efforts.

5. Day Four Schedule
Here we are on day four of my vacation. Day One was spent in a lump on the couch, Days Two and Three were spent bringing cats downtown for vet visits and then tending to said cats. Today is laundry and hair appointment and socializing in the evening.

6. John Berry, National Zoo Director, has accepted an Obama Appointment.
You may remember Mr. Berry from my volunteering at Zoo Lights. We talked long johns and I found him to be very personable. Maybe he needs an Assistant Director of Kittycat Management?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Amber & Erranding

Well, hello there! It's me, CRD.

Where In The World Is ALH, you ask? Is she lying on the back of her sofa with a Woody of a Tramp Stamp?

No! She decided to celebrate her second day off in a ROW by taking care of a few things.

ONE thing she's doing it taking her puss puss Ginger to the vets. Why, you ask? Well, Amber has always liked Zach a whole heap, and was jealous of the time he wore an eye-patch pretending to be evil. So, in her best Baroness von Munchausen imitation, she glued poor Gin-Gin's eye shut. They're on their way to the Shaubhut now.

But why, you ask, can't she blog before heading downtown? Well, that is probably because she is at home eating her bon bons and tossing the glue out the window. But she SAYS it's because her kitties ate through the power cord for the laptop I bought her. This could be true, and if so, I imagine the scenario looked something like this:

Good luck with the errands, Amber! Don't forget that tonight we have Program Club!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Amber & How I Plan to Spend My First Day Off

Sitting on the couch, watching programs, browsing the Internet.

Enjoying being home in the afternoon when the apartment is flooded with light.

Laying on the bed, reading and listening to music.

And maybe taking a little nap.

This is how I plan to spend my first day off of a week-long vacation.