28 May 2008
To whom it may concern:
I am writing to you on behalf of the United Syndicate of Small Rodents (USSR) with regards to the practice of sport killing. Basically we feel that this is an inhumane practice that has got to stop. You people cling to the reenactment of threadbare stereotypes, insisting on tilting your ears forward and calling it a “game” when the other participant not only has no chance of winning, but never signed up to participate in the first place.
As a member of the race that opens your cans and scoops your poop, I am hereby calling for an international boycott until you people decide to organize and change your ways. By the way, none of this by any means means that I am Catist; some of my best friends are cats. I've got 9 of you people sleeping on my furniture right now. I'm not denying your cuteness or your fluffiness. But I'm also not going to turn a blind eye when I feel your actions are unjust.
You claim to want to live up to our finer achievements; you want to eat our food, sharpen your claws on our couches and sleep on top of our television sets – and no one begrudges you these social advancements.
But when you insist on emulating the very lowest of our society, you make a mockery not only of us, but of yourselves, and you can no longer claim moral superiority.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with feral cats who have to hunt for food - chances are not many of those cats have internet access anyway so they won’t be reading this – but to those of you who live indoors, eat out of aesthetically pleasing molded plastic dishes and think every time the refrigerator opens it’s all about you; to you I say: Stop the cruelty.
Or, in terms you can better understand: ...............No!
27 May 2008
OK - we've got a bit of a problem here. Wim was just on his way out the door for his evening run, when he saw the neighbor's cat "playing with" a rather terrified little field mouse. As you and I and that field mouse know, a cat's idea of fun can be very one-sided. Wim ran back in the house to get a container, ran back out, and rescued the little guy just as the cat (who's name is "Muis", incidentally) was playing a new game that involved tossing people in the air and catching them in sharp teeth.
Luckily we've got lots of empty critter cages and hay and food laying around, so the little terrified guy (who I've called Manuel) was quickly packed into one and I've put my black raincoat over the cage to make him more secure.
So anyway, he's sitting there breathing heavily and his leg is sticking out funny (not funny "ha ha") and I can't tell if he's wounded or just traumatized. So - while I hate the thought of keeping him in captivity especially if he's got a family waiting for him, I just can't put him back outside on the off chance he'd be walking with a limp, which would very likely attract the wrong sort of attention from the wrong sort of "people".
Aaaaaargh! What do I do? I wish he would walk around or something. Or at least stop standing like that.
So if he looks like he's still feeling poorly tomorrow, I'll have to go to the pet shop and get him a play wheel and a friend (mice don't like to be alone). I hope I'm right that he's a boy.
It's always something........
25 May 2008
So our Farm Hunt continues, and this time when we went out looking at places I remembered to take pictures of everywhere we went BUT now the connection thingy is broken on the camera so I can’t load the photos onto my computer. (Plus the button thingy on the camera is weird so you have to hold it down for a really long time then it takes a picture right when everyone is blinking, but that’s neither here nor there) So I’m afraid you, the reader (and I do mean that singularly), will have to make do with the photos I’ve provided.
So we have seen even more places and yet we are still in love with the very first place we saw. Apparently “love at first sight” works in the case of houses, too. I already knew it worked with men and cats.
So here is our problem: This whole venture is loosely based on a combination of the films Field of Dreams and The Secret. We are actively looking for a house without having what one would call actual money. But if we visualize it, as Kevin Costner and Ramtha would have us believe, so it will materialize. Also there’s the fact that sometimes people get lucky at auctions (not in a dirty way). We’re not completely without a plan - Wim has been buying lottery tickets and I’ve been refilling water bottles to take to the gym – but apparently it’s just as well that we don’t get too attached to anything just yet. Still, miracles do happen, and encouraged by stories like the one about our friend who bought the haunted house for mere pocket change, we’re still feeling positive.
So the one we like goes on auction the first week in June and we’re hoping that no one else will see how abso-fucking-lutely cool it is. It’s structurally sound and yet a little run down looking. It doesn’t really have a kitchen to speak of, but Wim and I are willing to move in and order pizzas for however long it takes to build one. It has a nice big back area with chicken coops (wheeeee!!) and lots of room for rabbits and other rescue critters. And it’s definitely a place where I could have a pet pig and several watchdog geese (If they were good enough for the Romans, they’re good enough for me!), and there are lots of rooms and an area we could build into a guest apartment so our visiting friends will no longer have to sleep on our fold-out couch and get shat on by our cat Walter (it’s one of his quirks).
Ah, but I mustn’t get attached! And I definitely mustn’t get obsessed like I did about the neighbors’ house. So right now, we are treating all these houses like the book The Rules tells unmarried ladies they should treat the fellas. We’re still seeing lots of other houses until one of the houses realizes that we are A Creature Unlike Any Other and shows that it’s serious about us. And until then, we’re definitely not sleeping with any of them.
18 May 2008
So Mr. Jovanka and I are currently looking for a house to buy at auction. We got the idea when our neighbor’s house went on auction, and having been there for a party where I saw how cool it was inside I became mad with the need to possess it. I thought we’d get a good deal on it, too, because our friend Robbie bought a house on auction and there was only one other bidder who got there too late to bid, so Robbie got it super cheap. Granted Robbie's place needed work, and it was haunted by the spirit of a dead crack addict who’d been found inside, but apart from that it was rather fabulous. The spirit has gone, by the way, after a conversation I had with him at a party where I urged him to move on. You’d think these sort of things would be obvious to spirits; I’m dead, I’m stuck on the earth plane, hey what’s that light over there? and that they wouldn’t need some drunk woman at a party to shout, “move toward the light!” into and empty room, but dead people aren’t too skilled with deductive reasoning, apparently.
So when we were getting ready to go to the auction for our neighbor’s place I was feeling very positive. I was certain we’d be the only people at the auction and get the place for like 20 Euros or something. I was already eyeing the place possessively and telling the rabbits they would finally have a garden. When perspective viewers came by to look at the place I would try to send them vibes saying, ”You don’t want this place” and we purposely left our bicycles tipped over and generally didn’t clean up in front of our house so they’d think the neighborhood was shabby. We were also encouraged by seeing a few of them arrive to view the property with smiles on their faces and leave with furrowed brows and looks of concern. On one particular viewing day I was positively dancing around the living room at the looks of misery as they left the place. “Look at them! They hated the place! It’s ours I tell you!! Ours! OURS!”
So I was, to say the least, rather nonplussed when on the day of the auction nearly 100 bidders showed up; in fact there weren’t enough chairs in the room. Given the rather non-Rockefeller state of our finances, we were outbid rather quickly (before we’d actually made a bid, actually), and we went home where I suppressed the urge to throw a tantrum. But the whole episode had sparked something and we soon discovered that there are auctions going on all the time, so now we’ve begun looking at the listings and yesterday we had our first day of driving around and looking at places.
Here’s what we are looking for: A small farm. Belgium is absolutely silly with small tracts of land with 100 and 200-year old farmhouses on them (some even older!) just screaming to be painted all sorts of funky colors and turned into small animal sanctuaries. So that’s what we looked at: Places with the word “farm” somewhere in the description.
A few places we saw, we didn’t even bother getting out of the car. Some people’s concept of “farm” must be a warehouse 2 meters from a major highway with Russian mafia guys hanging around outside, is all I’m saying. But we did end up seeing a few charming places. One was so charming that I forgot to take pictures of it. It was in a tiny village that takes “charm” to almost sickening levels; it was big and roomy inside, and the rabbits would go absolutely nuts if they saw the garden. In retrospect I’m glad we didn’t bring them along for the viewings for this very reason.
So we were in a great mood and ready for even more charm when we went to see the next property. It was way back, remote, tucked away away from everything in an overgrown field, which I love. So points on right away. It was slightly shabby-looking, but hey, what’s wrong with a fixer-upper?
Aaaaaand, then we went inside. This was the kitchen:
Hmmm. Being generally cheerful in nature, though, I thought well hey, what’s wrong with an even bigger fixer-upper? I tapped my fingers reassuringly against the green metal wall paneling and we moved on. Here’s what the living room looked like:
I was just trying to talk myself into thinking that the dark oppressive feeling was nothing a lick of paint couldn’t brighten up when we saw the upstairs. First of all, I use the term “stairs” very lightly; it was really a barely glorified ladder that the strange woman showing us around planted herself at the bottom of and refused to go up. I soon found out why:
Mmmmmm. Nice, eh? So….Let me paint the picture for you: These people knew that people were coming over to see the property to possibly bid on it. Did they think, “Perhaps I’ll fold a few things, put some things in a drawer, tidy up a bit.”? No. Apparently they instead opted to present it in the “decrepit neglect” style, chucking a few broken chairs on top of everything to complete the look. Before we had started to ascend the “stairs”, the strange woman told us it was a bit dark up there because the light bulb kept going out.
“Oh really?” Wim joked, “Have you got a ghost?” To which the strange woman replied with an awkward silence and a swift change of subject. We soon realized why. We felt an icy chill behind us, turned around and saw this:
OK. I exaggerated that a bit with special effects. But still, it looked like this:
And it was really spooky. Trust me. I guess you had to be there. There was definitely a ghost there. And you really have to wonder about a ghost who would be willing to be seen in such an absolute state. I was temporarily overcome with the urge to stand in the doorway with a glass of wine and shout him toward the light. But I thought better of it and instead struggled down the ladder first so Wim would have to be the one standing there alone for a few seconds.
I tried to think of positive things about the place. Maybe it was better on the outside?
Unfortunately, the “farm” bit consisted of a rather grotty and decidedly small bit of yard at the side of the house. The current crop looked to be ready-for-harvest tracts of ragweed, and while they did seem to be flourishing, it wasn’t quite my cup of tea.
But the good news is we could probably get it really cheap. And us being who we are, that was how the conversation ran the whole way home in the car.
“OK. There isn’t really any land to speak of, the electricity won’t work because someone died upstairs, there’s green metal paneling in the kitchen and it’s smaller than where we live now…But do you think we could make it work?”