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The Recession Comes Home

Cliff got laid off yesterday. His company cut 21 jobs, mostly in the Houston office but a few in Dallas. His office maybe has 100 employees. Cliff's supervisor got laid off, too. Cliff gets a 5-week severance package plus his accumulated vacation. Then, of course, he's eligible for unemployment.

Last time he was out of work (mid 2001-early 2003), it was a looong 2 years. I think we're in better shape this time. He's got more marketable skills and I make 10K more than back then. Last time, there was no severance and no unemployment. Of course, last time we didn't have a car payment and the mortgage payment was less before we refinanced the house last year. The last payment for the car note is January.

I hope Cliff can find a job soon, but we can't be sure. But we've done this before and Cliff makes an excellent housewife! Cliff is bummed, but the house will be cleaner than ever. Though, he might have to switch to Claritin D since he'll be home with the kitties every day.

Still, this sucks.

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Car Trouble

Our 1994 Corolla's clutch went out. Then, Cliff couldn't get his motorcycle up to speed last night. (It's been just sitting in the garage for a long time.) His bike was our backup plan. So, we're carpooling today. If only we worked on the same side of town! When you're talking about Houston, that's a considerable distance.

I wish that carpooling with my husband wasn't such a bother, 'cause I like the part when we're together. It's the second solo commute that's so irritating when you're driving. Conversely, the other person has to wait around after work until the driver makes it through traffic.

Cliff kept the car because he's meeting with his mentee today. Cliff is a mentor (read: Big Brother type person) at a school close to his workplace. His company encourages the employees to volunteer in the community and will provide some work time to do it. Cliff takes an early lunch and goes to the school to meet with his mentee.

We'll take the ancient Corolla to the shop tonight. Having to fix the clutch kinda sucks because it'll make a dent in our savings for the down payment for the car we plan(ned?) on buying at the end of the year. The car note for the Prius will be finished in December. The Corolla desperately needs to be replaced. We were hoping the Corolla would last without major repairs 'till then. Ah well.

Since we don't want to tackle 2 car payments a month, we can't just buy a car now. We were already talking a 5 year note, instead of another 3 year note like we did for the Prius. I don't think the repairs will really move back the purchase of our next car, but we'll see. It wouldn't be the end of the world if we got our next car in March rather than December.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a hill of beans. However, since this is *our* hill of beans, I reserve the right to grumble.

/grumble

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Love is in the Air...

We jokingly refer to Jack and Lulu as the other married couple in the house. Jack is somewhat curmudgeonly, but somehow allows Lulu's advances. Jack and Penelope have an adversarial relationship, or did until Sasha joined our household. Jack and Penelope sorta have a truce going on in the face of the small black menace, a.k.a. Sasha. I mean, how can you bully the gray one when the black one might jump your ass at any time?

BTW, Penelope brought down another bird this weekend. Per our knowledge, it's
Penelope - 3
Neighborhood Birds - 0

You'd think Penelope would have justly earned some pecks on her back, but she is unmarked. During my childhood, we had a cat who received some pecks on his back that drew blood. And he never actually brought any bird down.

I'm using the Penelope icon because I don't have any pics of her this time. Anyway, here's some pics of feline love.

Lulu and Jack, hanging out butt to head. Jack wouldn't allow that sort of closeness with the other two girls.
From Cats


More where that came from!Collapse )

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Little Black Kitty Update - Sasha!

Well, as Facebook and Twitter friends know, we've brought the kitty inside and intend to keep her. Jack is being a total drama llama about it. But evidently he's a big bluffer and Sasha (the name we gave to her) is not a nervous wilting flower like Penelope. Jack acted like an abused spouse last night, skulking and cringing and hiding. He's hissing at everybody, including Cliff and his girlfriend Lulu. Jack doesn't have any scratch marks, but he has been chased by Sasha. We yell at Sasha whenever we catch such behavior. Keep in mind that Sasha is half Jack's size.

Cliff is convinced that Jack doesn't have very good vision. He's actually had this theory for awhile, but I haven't really seen signs of it up to now. Per the theory, he can't tell if Sasha is in a room which accounts for his defensive posture when he enters and explains his hiding in "safe" rooms/areas. It also accounts for him hissing at everything that moves. The sisters just watch her closely whenever she's in the same area.

Cliff and Jack have a serious bromance going on, so Cliff is feeling very sorry for Jack. Jack was all tensed up, so Cliff was. I could tell last night that he was thinking that Sasha would have to go. But I used his logic when he was defending Jack (no scratches marks) when the shoe was on the other foot and Jack was terrorizing Penelope.

So yeah, there's lots of cat drama in the house. But Sasha is a sweet kitty. She's affectionate and will hang out on the couch next to humans. She seems to like to held and likes to lay on human chests while they're at the computer or watching TV. Cliff has always wanted a lap cat, but has been denied with Jack, Lulu and Penelope. Sasha has charmed Cliff, too.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon with Lulu

I went out with the girls for a late lunch on Sunday and was gone for 3 hours. I do this nearly every Sunday. When I got back, Cliff told me about a slice of life with Lulu.

Lulu is the bed cat. She sleeps with us for a majority of the night and often joins whichever human happens to be taking a nap. She even lays her head and shoulders on the pillows between us. And sometimes, she's a bed hog. She's a total entitlement queen so that's no surprise. It's all about her, dontcha know.

Anyway, on to Cliff's tale. He was feeling ready for a nap Sunday afternoon, so he went looking for Lulu. He couldn't find her anywhere in the house, so he looked in the backyard. There she was, snoozing next to the fence line in the sun.
>

Cliff called out to her, "Lulu, I'm going to take a nap. Come on, baby. Aren't you going to join me?" Lulu opened a sleepy eye, but did not move to get up. Disappointed, Cliff went to bed without her. Lulu hates being picked up, so physically getting her wouldn't work.

Five minutes later, Lulu took her rightful place in the middle of the bed, dirty paws and all. Awww! Cliff didn't realize she was dusty, but I had to brush off soil and the odd bit of vegetation off the bed that night after he told me.

I really need to make an icon with all my kitties.

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Five Years of Wedded Bliss

Today Cliff and I have been married five years. Our relationship is seven years old. I've been asking him if he's been feeling some itches, heh.

Yesterday, he sent me flowers (roses&carnations). His note said, "Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and me too!!" That's so Cliff. I love my husband.

Tonight we're going out to a very nice steakhouse to celebrate.

I need to use this icon more often. I don't think I've used it since last time around this year.

ETA: Cliff sent me flowers today, too! (Bird of paradise flowers)
What a sweetie!

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Mah Jongg

I received a proper Mah Jongg set for Christmas. It came in a nice cherry case. All together it's somewhat heavy--like carrying around 4-5 sets of dominoes or so. Today I sat down with a couple of friends and Cliff and proceeded to learn how to play.

First, I must state that it is very hard to learn a game when the instructions are in Engrish. We struggled through those instructions until I proclaimed I was going to google some instructions in English. I found a decent page to print off and we muddled through both instructions. After my friends left, I discovered Mahjongg.com. That site had illustrated and easy to understand rules. Though don't be mistaken to think Mah Jongg is a simple game.

I'd describe Mah Jongg kinda like Gin on steroids.Collapse )

Mighty Hunters

Jack and Penelope are the mighty hunters in our household. Lulu is just not that interested. The squirrel incident from a few weeks back proved these predilections.

On Saturday, Jack brought a small black bird into the house. This time, I caught him doing it. Cliff separated Jack from the bird and put it in a box. Jack tried to get into the box, and Lulu was interested in the situation. I gathered up Jack and Lulu and locked them in the master bedroom, while Cliff took the bird outside.

I followed Cliff and saw him release the bird, who thankfully had not broken a wing and still seemed able, if frantic. The little bird flew towards the back fence when Penelope came out from behind a bush, and with a mighty leap caught the bird in mid-flight. I have to admit I was hella impressed, despite the fact we were trying to save the bird. I mean, this was a nature show quality take down. Penelope is quite the huntress! She may not be the brightest kitty, but damn if that girl doesn't have the hunting instinct. I should note she also brought a lizard into the house yesterday.

We shooed Penelope away from the bird, and I grabbed her and took her inside. Cliff said the bird took off again, but didn't get enough height and hit the fence. Yikes. However, the bird must have recovered because we looked for it about a half hour later and it was nowhere to be found.

Monday, Monday

My husband is off to Austin for a business trip for a week. He's driving the new hotness Prius and I'll have old and busted Corolla. He's taking a class on a specific software package (Lombardi). I've left him alone for a couple of trips, but this will be the first time I'll be left alone at home.

The thing is, he wanted me to come with him. However, my work didn't want me to take the whole week off. I know why they don't want me to go, but it's still irritating. Being needed sometimes sucks. :P

So, it's just me and the kitties this week. Jack will miss Cliff, but he hated being boarded so this is probably better for him. Not to say the sisters won't miss him, but Cliff is much more Jack's human. Lulu loves everybody and Penelope kinda leans more towards me.

Speaking of new hotness, we picked up a 22" widescreen monitor for Cliff this weekend. I don't think it's set up properly yet, though. Everything seems a bit
*w i d e* on it. I may fiddle with it this week. It's "native" resolution is supposed to be, iirc, 1680X1050. I'm not sure that's where he has it set.

I meant to try to get a voice post in this weekend, but it didn't happen. But I'll bet it will this week.

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Valentine's Day

I like how LJ gets all festive on the holidays. I'm liking the hearts design on the inner LJ pages. I changed my layout last night to one of the style contest winners, so LJ is all shiny and new for me today.

Though I must admit, Valentine's Day is more fun if you're a kid or in a committed relationship. And even that's not guaranteed if your partner isn't romantic in the slightest. When I was single and unattached, which still comprises the the majority of my years, Valentine's Day was just another day. Despite the fact that Cliff and I have been together for 6 years, it still feels almost odd to treat the day as special.

But Valentine's Day means probably more than usual to us because our wedding anniversary is tomorrow. It'll be our 4th. I tell people, Cliff has two days to remember. As long as he remembers at least one of 'em, he's okay. Heh. Cliff is actually more romantic than I am, the dear man.

I woke Cliff up this morning with a little breakfast and cocoa-coffee and a V-Day card. He'll get a couple of e-cards today and a couple tomorrow. I already gave him some of his favorite candy yesterday. Tomorrow night, we're going out to eat to celebrate. He has told me that he has "something planned". In years past, he's sent lovely flowers, so I imagine something along those lines.

He was reluctant to tell me he had "something planned", but when I ooohed over the Vermont Teddy Bears website, he said, "You're not getting that!" I kinda stared at him and told him I wasn't asking for anything, I just thought the bears were cute.

I must admit, I have a bad habit of admiring things in the company of people that might assume I'm asking for said things without actually asking explicitly. My mother used to yell at me when I was a kid, "You can't have that!" I'd look at in confusion and then have to explain I wasn't asking for (fill in the blank). I just thought it was cool. I guess I pulled the same thing on Cliff. Whoops.

For the record, it is possible to admire things with no thought of actually receiving the aforementioned thing. Just sayin'...

Anyways, I turned the tables on Cliff. There was a jewelry commercial on during some show we were watching, showing off some diamond pendant. I turned to Cliff and said, "You're not getting that!"

Heh.

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