Lovely Birdies of Bothell, Plus Undignified Kitteh Pics

It’s a fantastic time of year, my darlings! The birds are out and about, singing lustily as they endeavor to find someone to perform one of the three Fs with, and the new leaves aren’t big enough for the feathery bastards to hide behind. For someone trying to photograph something other than waterbirds, this is outstanding.

I went up to that bit of North Creek a couple miles from my house that has a possible blueschist wall, and one of the first things I spotted was this magnificent towhee. At least I think it’s a towhee. Tell me if I’m right. Continue reading “Lovely Birdies of Bothell, Plus Undignified Kitteh Pics”

Lovely Birdies of Bothell, Plus Undignified Kitteh Pics

Karen Locke, the Introduction

Hello all!  Dana claims that snagging me for an occasional guest post is a great success on her part, but the truth is I’ve been wanting a blogging outlet for a long time; I just don’t have enough to say to write my own blog (or enough time to say it).  I’m really honored that she’s taken me on.

A bit of bio: I started my professional career as a computer engineer, first designing hardware and then developing software.  I even got talked into a short stint as an engineering manager, which tried my patience almost beyond endurance.  But after a couple of decades and some in the field, just as I was getting incredibly bored with solving what seemed to be the same old problems with new technology, I actually needed to quit work altogether to take care of aging parents.  When that task was done, and my parents passed on, rather than re-invent myself as an engineer I listened to my Inner Scientist and took up studying geology.  After a lot of catch-up, I graduated with an MS in December 2011.

Due to chronic health issues, I have trouble working full-time.  However, I’ve been making beaded jewelry for years and will soon open an Etsy shop (and you all will have to endure some shameless self-promotion).

Geology is still my first love, and I’ll mostly use my blogging opportunity here to talk about geo-things that interest me.  I especially love sedimentology*, petrology, petrography, and maps and mapmaking.  But I’ll look at and listen to any rock that’s willing to tell me a story, and share those stories.

As far as family goes, I have a wonderful husband of 32 years.  We are staff to two feline boys, Rocky and Paddy.  I’ll close with photos of our masters:


Rocky is a big, fat, loving, ultimate scaredy-cat.


Paddy is a great lover of boxes. Yes, he only has one eye; a serious eye infection he had when he was rescued as a kitten caused the loss of one eye.


*Locke, Karen Marie, “Composition and Provenance of Sand from Wells, Santa Clara Valley, California” (2011). Master’s Theses. Paper 4100.

Karen Locke, the Introduction

Kitteh in Winter Sunbeam

Because, you know, I’m infected by parasites. You all get to suffer.

Kitteh in Rare Winter
Kitteh in Rare Winter Sunbeam

We had a rare interlude of sunshine, which my kitteh enjoyed immensely. She’s elderly, and on these days, I tend to go a bit overboard on the pictures, knowing each and every slight variation in her posture will bring back warm memories one day. Of course, when she goes, there’ll be another kitteh to take gigabyte upon gigabyte worth of photos of. It’s a good thing memory is so small and cheap now. Otherwise, I’d have to rent an extra room to store the cat photos in. Continue reading “Kitteh in Winter Sunbeam”

Kitteh in Winter Sunbeam

CFI's Policy, SSA's Press, and Cromm's Doom – Happy Caturday, Everyone!

I haz a happee. And it’s not just because I spent all last night and this morning in bed with science, although taking some time to devour a book on random bits of science and reading some nummy posts was excellent. So was having a purring felid curled up with me. But I iz happee for moar reasons!

Continue reading “CFI's Policy, SSA's Press, and Cromm's Doom – Happy Caturday, Everyone!”

CFI's Policy, SSA's Press, and Cromm's Doom – Happy Caturday, Everyone!

Mother's Little Helper and Other Stories

I’ve got nothing, really. I was supposed to be watching a movie with a friend who’s in from out of town, but his family kidnapped him. I’ve spent the time finishing The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rhinehart, who has somewhat restored my faith in mystery novels written by late 19th – early 20th century women. I still prefer British authors, but how can I fail to love the woman who inspired Batman?

As a fake excuse for why I haven’t yet written about Darwin and geology, I present photographic evidence that my help was hindering:

Mother's Little Helper

You see that nice, fresh, shiny white notebook she’s lying on? I’d put that down not two seconds before, preparatory to picking up the Kindle and furiously taking notes. I know you can take notes on the Kindle, but it’s slow. Not quite as slow, though, as trying to take notes upon a notebook the cat has claimed.

Continue reading “Mother's Little Helper and Other Stories”

Mother's Little Helper and Other Stories

Scenes from Snowpocalyse 2012

This bird’s arse illustrates how I feel about yesterday:

We’re snowed in. I took the day off, and spoke to various relatives regarding deceased and mentally disabled relatives, and prepared to put out a few brush fires which I shall tell you about when we know whether they’re truly out or liable to erupt into a crown fire. Then I snapped this picture of a bird’s arse through the window, because I am cooped up inside and getting bored. It turned around a moment later and presented a more suitable angle for photography:

Cujo has a rather more flattering portrait of a similar bird. They were adorable. They were also the only entertainment on offer.

Relations spoken to, equipment in readiness for some firefighting on the morrow (now today), I found myself no longer amused by bird butts, and bundled up to walk to Staples. I’ve been deprived of bookstores due to snowstorms since Sunday. I’m out of the turn-of-the-century detective literature I’m craving. So, I thought, I’d get myself a tablet. That way, I could sneer at the weather and just download whatever the fuck I pleased, thus thumbing my nose at the weather whilst still being able to comfortably read in bed.

Staples, however, had closed due to weather. Bastards. How dare they care for their employees’ well-being when I’m literature-deprived? And then, having denied me the chance at a tablet, make me applaud them for their good sense and kindness in allowing their employees to head home while there was still a chance of making it there alive?

There was nothing left to do but drop by my friend Starspider’s apartment and help torture her cat.

This is Galahad, learning that outside is made of cold, wet and pain. We did this to him because he thought outside was made of birds and rainbows and fun, and threatened to run out into traffic. We think he’s been disabused of these tendencies.

This is Galahad considering whether or not to murder his mother. He decided if he did, the chances of the door being opened were minimal, so he refrained.

We tortured the cat until we’d finished our cigarettes, then relented. He still loves us. I’m not sure why. And before you have too much sympathy for him, remember he’s a long-haired cat who never even got damp, and it was ultimately for his own good. He has not, as yet, asked to go back outside, so the experiment so far seems successful.

This experiment will not be repeated with my cat. I value my life.

The snow’s lingering. Next course on the weather menu is a bit more snow and possibly some freezing rain, followed by a rapid warming, which will mean flooding and possible landslides. Fun and more fun. At least it doesn’t do this often.

I took some good images of my outdoor rocks dusted with snow. In our next edition of Scenes from Snowpocalyse 2012, I’ll find some clever things to say about them. Either that, or I’ll just post them without comment, chuck my cat into a snowdrift as a distraction, and flee. Or I could take the safe route and direct you toward Starspider’s post on bitters. For now, it’s time for another dose of Rex Stout. I believe I’ll filch Archie Goodwin’s personality for dealing with counselors, lawyers and snow today. It could come in useful, especially as a tool for retaining my sanity.

Scenes from Snowpocalyse 2012

Interlude with Cat: Le Miewse

Yes, that’s the best title I can come up with. It’s late, Aunty Flow’s here, I’m on a variety of OTC painkillers, I’ve been reading for Los Links and also reading a rather mind-bending book by Oliver Sacks, and I think my brain has quietly slipped out the back door and legged it down an ally to freedom.

So it’s time for pictures full o’ mindless cute. And hideous puns.

pensive cat
The cat pretending she's pondering whilst monopolizing my lap

I’ve spent the last little while writing in bed. It’s easier to jockey a notebook in there – easier, at least, until the cat decides the rest of the bed isn’t good enough, and she must lie atop Mom in about the place where the notebook goes. This is exhausting work for a felid. Luckily, there’s a nice paper pillow nearby.

sleepy kitteh
The cat pillows her head on the notes for my magnum opus.

Do you know how hard it is to write with a cat’s noggin in the way? And she snores. And she’s cute. It’s terribly distracting. I’ve begun to wonder why writers are so often associated with cats. We don’t actually get as much writing done in their presence as one might think.

kitteh with pillow
The cat takes over the second pillow.

When she’s tired of getting bonked in the head with the ever-shifting notebook, she’ll sometimes make her way off to the side, where her pillow is. Yes, that’s her pillow. It lies flat, so that she can curl up on it and bask under the lamp. She’s spoiled rotten, that cat.

There are times, when she’s cuddled up with me like this, that I just put the notebook down and look in to her eyes. She’s got remarkable eyes, green with hints of blue and gold. She’s got a very patrician stare. Most of the time, she looks upon me as a serving wench, staring as if from a great height no matter how high above her I tower. But at times, those green-gold-blue eyes stare into mine with the purest adoration, and she purrs so loudly the whole bed seems to hum, and stretches her little white-capped paws out on me with vast contentment, and sighs deeply, as if she’s sinking in to the rightness of the world. In those moments, I get a sense of the love parents must have for their children, that vast and unconditional and heart-wrenching affection the English language doesn’t have a proper word for.

We’ve been together a lot of years, that cat and I. I have no idea how many good ones we’ve got left. So sometimes, I do take the time to just stop and cuddle with her. Gather your cuddles while ye may…

She’s over on the back of the couch right now, snoring away. In a short little while, we’ll head for bed, where she’ll probably do her usual routine of using Mommy as a trampoline before settling down for the night. I may wake in the morning to a little feline face butting mine, and some pretty urgent meowing, if I forget to fill the food bowl. I may wake to a warm bundle of fur ready for a snuggle before the day starts. I never know what I’m getting from her, except this one thing: companionship.

Interlude with Cat: Le Miewse

I'm Unexpectedly Entertaining

Not like funny ha ha or dramatic or anything like that sort of entertaining, alas. A very dear friend from Oregon has arrived, and I haven’t got anything pre-written, so I’m afraid it’s the cat for you lot again.

I got her with her eyes open, for once:

It was a sunbeam sort of day. We haven’t had many of those. And she was annoyed because I’d had the audacity to make some sort of noise.

I’m afraid she finds me a failure as a personal assistant. Sigh.

Anyway, whilst I’m busy, do go entertain yourself watching Jen take on the Burzynski Clinic and leave nothing but scorched earth and perhaps a few melted syringes behind.

I'm Unexpectedly Entertaining

I'm Running Late. Have a Cat.

I’ve spent most of the day on the phone with various family members. The problem with getting in touch with people you haven’t spoken to in years is that you get caught up in catching up, and then all your cunning plans for finishing Los Links go right out the door. I could do it tonight, but I’m not gonna. Got fiction writing to do.

I’ll have them out sometime during the day. In the meantime, I shall distract you once again with my cute cat.

This is her idea of being an aid to the creative process. Isn’t she cute? You can even, if you look closely, spot the bright white spot on my arm where she bit me once. She is the reason I will never ever own a tiger or other wild cat. That temptation, never strong, ended the day we were playing and she nearly bit my arm in half during a moment of enthusiasm.

People wonder why I love such a violent little beast. But I mean, really, it’s hard not to love this face:

And she doesn’t bite nearly so hard as she used to. She’s merely quasi-evil now.

I'm Running Late. Have a Cat.

Interlude with Cat III: Winter Sunshine

Our server’s acting the idiot again, and I have to work on my usual day off, plus I’m needing to get some reading done for Los links, so I’m afraid there won’t be substantial posting today. Here. Have a kitty in the sunshine:

She’s enjoying one of those rare winter mornings where bouncing sunshine hurls itself against the windowpane, waking Mommy up despite heavy curtains. It’s now at an angle where it hits the bed early on, which means she doesn’t have to go through all the hard work of moving on to the floor to find a sunbeam.

Still, even the minimal effort required to find the perfect position from which to enjoy it exhausts the poor dear:

She then attempted to look too dignified for photos.

When this didn’t persuade me to stop, she attacked. I haven’t got pictures of that, because I was trying to prevent her from ripping my hands off. She’s evil. Beautiful, but evil. And when there are sunbeams, she forgets her mother is where warm laps and cat food comes from.

Dog people don’t understand why I can adore such a wee vicious evil beastie. They talk of devotion and unconditional love and affection. When I look at a dog, all I think of is barking, drooling, strange smells, and the necessity of taking the damned thing out in all weather to relieve itself. Dogs are find for them as likes ’em, and I wouldn’t mind owning a nice German Shepherd again someday. But I do so love the strange personalities, aloofness, self-sufficiency, purring, and occasional moment of conditional love interspersed with the unpredictable mayhem that kittehs provide. Keeps me humble and on me toes, that.

Gimme a cat any day.

Interlude with Cat III: Winter Sunshine