Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cat TV

I don't generally let television babysit my cats for me, but if it's a educational nature show, I don't mind.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


I swear this cat sits outside the office and as soon as I approach, the race is on to the office chair. And then lots of attitude.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


In a house full of cats, it's hard to believe that we ever had room for a dog. Fortunately, this one helped us raise some of the kittens. Sweet, gentle Bill had a way with kittens and even as full-grown cats, they still loved him and ran up to him when he came into the room, walking through his legs, rubbing against them. 

Yesterday was National Dog Day. I don't have a dog any more, but I thought I'd make this little post in memory of Bill, the best dog-mamma my cats could ever have hoped for. The best guard dog this property could need. The best companion I could imagine and the most loyal friend ever to walk on the face of the earth. 

Even when he was sick and getting more sick – he was weak, he was tired, but he wanted so badly to make us happy that we found it difficult at times to know what we needed to do to make him happy. We just made sure he was always with us, which is what he really wanted in the end.

Pets, especially dogs, take a piece of our hearts with them when they cross over the Rainbow Bridge.

Rest in Peace, Bill. We love you.

Earnest Painter

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why Does my Brain Hurt?

Last week I posted a note for a group that I hang out with (WANATribes). I had had kind of a bad week with family and with myself and I wrote that something just didn't feel right. Like, I don't normally go to work with mismatched shoes on. I threw away my prescription for Stupid Pills, so I wasn't sure what to make of this new, incompetent-yet-rather-amusing Earnie Painter. I did the most logical thing I could do, and that was to visit my doctor. Because, don't you visit the doctor when you're stupid?

My suspicion was confirmed that I was anemic, though not terribly so. The issue is, the iron level has gradually been going down. I had been trying to counter the effects with coffee, but it didn't really help. I was more alert, but I was an alert idiot. Slightly more aware of the mistakes I had made in retrospect and abundantly more reactive to them.

So, armed with this knowledge I doubled down on my efforts to eat leafy vegetables and I began taking iron pills. (Along with vitamin C because my niece is a nutritionist and told me that it would help me absorb the iron.) It's not that I don't eat beef, because I do. It's not that my beef is fast food, because it's not. Hamburgers upset my tummy so I don't eat them, but I'm down with some steak. And, adding greens to my diet actually meant increasing the greens, because I already eat them. I just added spinach to my salad mix. I am to be retested soon.

I think I'm feeling better already. Monday was a little rough because I was dealing with things that I had done last week. Plus, I still get dizzy when I eat first thing in the morning, so some of my reactions were a little out of proportion to what I had actually done. Among the things I did was to write in the time for an online workshop that I took on Monday, and I neglect to note the time zone indicated, which means that I showed up an hour late. At first I thought that the person leading the class was just chatting before it got started, but then I was thinking, "Wow, she's really serious about this chat." I looked around and saw my mistake and lost it just a little bit. I was tired, but mostly I was tired of dealing with things that somebody else was doing to me — that somebody else being myself. At my job I have clients from Atlanta to Anchorage, so time zones are a big part of my life. There was really no excuse for that, except that I was under the influence of stupid when I put it on my calendar. There's been a bit of clean-up lately.

But, I do have more energy and I have gone several days without wearing mismatched shoes. I feel a bit of tightness at the top of my head, like on the scalp, and my head hurts a little bit. There is a ringing in my ear, which might mean that I'm still anemic, from what I've read. We'll see. But, I was wondering why my head was hurting, and why the tingling.

There is still the question of whether or not I'm still anemic. And, either way, one has to ask why I was in the first place. But, for the moment I'm glad to be able to trust myself a little bit more.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Literary Priorities

I think it says a lot about me that as I was walking out into the light rain -  carrying a book and an electronic device/tablet - I put the electronic device on top to keep the book from getting wet.

Nerd Level: 11

Seen recently in Houston, TX.

Nerd Level: 11

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dizzy to a New Level - Part II

As a follow-up to my post about laughing too hard, I just need to point out that I'm not allowed to listen to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me while driving.

Ever again.

Bad things happen when I laugh too hard.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Life Lesson

There is a life lesson that has taken me too many years (decades) to figure out. Partly because I've spent the majority of my adult life renting apartments rather than owning a home. Partly because I've spent the majority of my adult life obliviously walking around, skirting responsibility and commitment. Partly because I'm a hammerhead.

Having something beautiful is a luxury, a delight.

Maintaining something beautiful is work.

This applies to many things.

A home. The picture below is the entryway of a mansion in Galveston. It was built in the early 20th century, and it is gorgeous. Hand-carved wood all over. But, it takes a team of employees and volunteers - along with large grants - to keep it up.
The Bishop's Palace - Galveston, Tx
The Bishop's Palace - Galveston, Tx

Or a patio with flowers. Flowers have to be watered regularly, and weeds will grow through the bricks unless we are vigilant.
Cat's Paradise

Jewelry - Silver will tarnish and must be polished.
Pendant - Silver, 18K and Opal by Barry Perez

Talent - musical, artistic or any other talent you may have developed - requires continued practice, or you will lose the skill, the edge, the ease and the beauty with which you perform.
The Talented Jorge & Nicole

Friendships and relationships
Courtesy of Pexels 
Courtesy of Pexels

I was walking home this afternoon from brunch - just before it began to rain. I passed a beautiful house, a house that I would have loved to live in. It occurred to me that the bigger the home, the more there is to maintain because there's that much more to break down. A few years ago I wouldn't have considered that. I have moved in with my partner – the same one who, without my having to call, came to pick me up when it began to rain – and I have begun to learn what it means to truly be responsible for something and its maintenance. The old house we live in has a leak in the roof and it's entirely up to us to fix it. There is no office to call to come take care of it. And, we either mow the lawn or it becomes a forest, regardless of how much I'd prefer to be laying around reading. I could leave when I got angry, or I could finally figure out what it takes to make a relationship work. I have a lifetime of leaving that has become a habit, a way of life. I am having to learn a new way of life.

The lesson hasn't been easy or without tears. But, I have grown so much in the last few years that I almost don't recognize myself. Has it been worth it? As far as I'm concerned, yes. (You'd have to ask my partner for his perspective.) I have a long way to go, but I am so glad I have begun.

Thank you for reading.


Cat fight in...




Thursday, August 11, 2016

How to De-Stress, or How Not to


There is something self-destructive about trying to de-stress – like a self-fulfilling prophesy, but backwards. Sometimes any steps I take to relax after a stressful week only lead to more stress, or simply time lost in the attempt. I'm certain that there are 123,623,326,098 books written on the topic, but sometimes one just wants to get away. Reading suggestions on how to focus, or let go, or any of the other things that my soul wants to do is not quite as appealing as getting in my car and just going. In this way I relate to Rose from The Patron Saint of Liars, Ann Patchett's debut novel. There is something freeing about getting in the car and driving, with no particular place to go. When I was younger, I used to see the signs over the highway indicating a distant city that the highway led to, and I would want to just leave, just stay on the highway and continue to that other city. Not go back home to get anything; that would break the spell. Just go.

Half a lifetime of going, and it's not quite as appealing as it used to be. The idea of escape is still there; it's just dressed in a different disguise these days. I tried drink; I was never very good at it. Intoxication never offered the freedom of driving on a highway with its untapped possibilities. All of it is an illusion one way or the other, but driving didn't generally lead to hangovers or regretful memories of how I had behaved.

This last Saturday I asked my partner if he wanted to go with me on a project. For some reason (mostly anemia, I have come to suspect) I had had a very stressful and anxiety-ridden week. I've had a project in mind that I wanted to work on, a photography project. I want to take pictures of Austin landmarks. Not buildings, but street art. The "HI HOW ARE YOU" frog, the "I love you so much" wall. I started last December with a painted privacy fence only to discover that the camera had no memory chip in it, which is the equivalent of having no film. So, I thought it was time to try again.

The painted privacy fence I pass on the way to work each day

About the only thing I took a picture of this sunny day 

However, we took off at 11 on a bright, sunny morning and this is not conducive to good outdoor photography, unless harsh shadows and overexposed highlights is what you're after. I was driving and I was frustrated. I was angry at myself for not taking off earlier; I was angry at my partner for delaying when I had asked him if he wanted to go; I was just angry and tired and stressed. I abandoned the project, but between the two of us we couldn't think of anything else to do that was fun, so we went home to take a nap.

The next day we had brunch at a local cafe and on the way home he missed the turn to go to our house, so he just kept going. The road got less smooth and more narrow. Eventually, we saw a sign indicating that state maintenance ended and sure enough the road changed from paved to semi-gravel all at once. Eventually we came up to the highway that leads to Lexington, but we turned off, deciding to save that for another day. We had other commitments that day and didn't have the time to spend just exploring a new town. So, we found another road that seemed to want to swing back around to Elgin and took it instead. After a couple of turns we ended up in Coupland, which is on the way back home from Dallas.

View from a random highway on the way back home from an extended wrong turn

I learned from that trip that maybe projects aren't what I need when I desperately need to de-stress. I learned that it can be better if somebody else is driving. I learned that there is an art to letting go, and it's all about timing. Finally, I learned anew that being in the car is relaxing and the anticipation of a new place can be a solace for the soul.

Happy driving. :-)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Flowerpot of Happiness

I was going to take picture of Austintatious things yesterday, but it got to be too sunny and too harsh-shadowy. So, I'll put that project off for another day. Instead I'll share a picture of the blissful feline Flowerpot of Happiness, which we are fortunate enough to have on our patio.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dizzy to a New Level

There were sounds around me – things being moved around. Music. Normal sounds for a house that has people in it. I had been thinking about something; what was it? I couldn't remember. It was like waking from a dream and trying to remember what you were dreaming about, but not quite able to do so. My head was on my arm on the desk and I listened to the music (my music) and the sounds filling the air around me, trying to piece things together. I stayed there for a few seconds, wondering. Trying to remember what brought me to this moment. I lifted my head up, a little groggy, and I was in front of my computer and the screen was unlocked with windows open. The air was warm and the music was coming from the computer; sounds were coming from my partner cleaning in the next room. I sat up. "What the hell just happened?" left my mouth and Barry stopped cleaning momentarily to look at me like I had lost my mind. "What's wrong with you?"

Nothing was wrong, per se, but I was curious as to why I had had my head on the desk and why I was in front of the computer in the first place. I hadn't actually been asleep; I knew that. My thoughts had blended with the ambient noise, like it happens when you're falling asleep. But, I had NOT been asleep. If I had been, then there would be no need for an explanation.

I looked at the computer and I saw that I had been working on my blog. That seemed familiar. It was coming back to me now. I had several tabs open, as usual, and one of them – as usual – was Facebook. I had been on Facebook. I had been laughing. My sister, my brother and I had been chatting and he had asked me an embarrassing question. I tried to change the subject, then ignore him and get back to work on my blog, but he kept asking. Then he posted a picture. I was laughing and laughing. Laughing so hard I couldn't write. I started to get thick-headed and I had laid my head down on my arm on the desk. That's what it was. That's how I had come to be in that position.

Fainting Goat

I've been on Atripla for many years now and I've written before of the effect they warn about on the bottle: "May make you dizzy". The same effect that tends to make me drunk the first time I eat on any given day. I've gotten light-headed before when laughing or straining (as in to pick up a heavy bag of soil.) But, I had never blacked out before. Even this time I didn't fall on the floor or anything – I had kept my balance and stayed in the chair, but when I came to (and that is a very accurate statement of how it felt) I had no idea what was going on, or how I got to be sitting there in that position. It even took me a few seconds to realize where I was. I noticed that all of my skin was covered in a layer of perspiration. Afterwards, and for the rest of the afternoon, the top of my head was a little tight. It didn't hurt exactly, but it felt like the skin on the tippy top of my head was, I don't know, being pulled. Like it was shrinking and pulling the rest of the skin on my head up a little bit. It felt a little tingly. I decided to have a lie-down, after letting my sister and brother know why I had stopped chatting. I was a little tired for the rest of the evening.

I'm not going to lie; it's a little disturbing. My sister told me that she hopes I never get the giggles while driving. I've gotten used to the intoxicated feeling that comes along after breakfast and I more or less plan my life around it. Sometimes there's nothing to do but lay down and sleep, though that's not an option at work. (Interestingly, at work I never feel like I need to lie down. I think that keeping myself busy helps. Not having a bed at hand helps.)

All in all, though, I can't complain. I mean, I'm alive. That's good, and it's thanks to Atripla. And, laughing is good. Maybe blacking out momentarily can be a little inconvenient, but it's not the end of the world. It's actually a little funny, if taken in the right context with the right company. My friends and family don't seem to mind. I think that in a perverse way I like it. I mean, not everybody can say that they laughed so hard they passed out. That's a good time, right there.

Monday, August 1, 2016


A warning, this might not be for the faint of heart.

I heard about this on the radio show, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Somebody has decided to produce skin in a lab from human DNA and then use it... to make leather. Then use the leather for clothing and accessories. Designer, Tina Gorjanc, gives reasons for her Pure Human line of products on her website, but the reasons are very difficult to understand and all I can come up with is that they are trying to use sophisticated, artsy-sounding words and get away with it and/or it is a publicity stunt for the designer. (She wants to "address shortcomings concerning the protection of biological information" and move the debate into the court system?) (Because that's the job of designers of clothing and accessories.)


Brette's Disgust by Parke Ladd (Cropped)

Photo by Parke Ladd / CC BY 2.0

As if that wasn't creepy enough, they're going to call the items "Tanned Bag" (with a tan line where the label was laying over the bag), "Freckled Backpack" and "Tattooed Jacket".

I have read that blog posts should always include a picture, but I'm not going to include one here from the designer's site for a variety of reasons. One, the images are most likely copyrighted and I have less than no desire to be taken to court by a company or designer who makes human skin in a lab and then users that to make leather accessories. Two, I believe I read on the site somewhere (or in an article about them) that the images are mock-ups made from pig skin. And three: ew.

But, to make this story even more disturbing, as I was searching for this designer (after I  heard about it on the radio) I came across another company who claims to use donated skin to make leather. They went as far a to describe the best part of the body to use.

All in all I'd say that people have far too much time on their hands and they need to stop.