Sunday, March 30, 2008

Back to The Headsets

Originally uploaded by Darrell
The Arena Football season has begun, which means another 18 weeks or so behind the microphone. Sadly, My Boys lost their opener, 55-54 by blowing a 20-point fourth quarter lead.
This means another spring and summer of exotic destinations.
For now, though, it's good to be home even though we lost.
The vacation went by too quickly. I think being bedridden for the first day and a half might have had something to do with that.
As for the game, our big off-season acquistion fumbled the ball away in the red zone TWICE. He told me afterward that he cost the team the game. It's hard to argue with that.
The good news is, the team they lost to is really good, which leads us to the conclusion that our guys must be really good, too. Any time you can commit five turnovers and lose by just a point, you figure to be okay in the long run.
We'll get 'em Friday when we're at home again. The next weekend, it's off to Houston, which isn't bad at all.

Game photo by Jim Hudelson of the Shreveport Times.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Guess We're All Tired

Originally uploaded by darebouche
Following his romp in the sea, this 18-year-old person in my traveling party fell to the sand, doing his best uninentional Tom Hanks impersonation.
He came ashore smelling of salt and slightly spent.
We've had the week off and now it's time to return to normal: muddling through the final nine weeks of high school, making a final college decision, continuing to deliver pizza.
For the rest of us, it's back to work and school. We may resume a modified caffeine cunsumption regimen.
We're tired of resting.

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A Terribly Different Kind of Sand

While my family and I are enjoying the gift of freedom, lazily enjoying a seaside retreat, our old friend Joel has been sent to Iraq for the fourth time. He's on his way. Here is a photo from today in Kuwait:I spoke to Joel an hour or so before he left his wife and two young daughters yet again. He is willingly placing himself in harm's way to fight terrorism and to restore order in Iraq. It's business for him and we admire his courage and commitment.
In 2005, Joel came home from fighting in Iraq only to be shipped out less than a month later to New Orleans to help with Katrina relief. He saw some of the worst and the best the world had to offer on disticntly different fronts. I remember him saying at the time that New Orleans actually was more emotionally challenging for him.
He is blogging now. You can read and see more here.
I will also post a permanent link on the right side of this page.
He used to occasionally call from Iraq. Knowing he was as safe as he could be, I would kiddingly call him "Baghdad Boy." This time, for some reason, I don't feel like joking around.
Pray for Joel and his ladies. Let's hope he makes it home safe again.

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Tanned and Rested

Ft. Walton Beach
Originally uploaded by Darrell
We're sitting on the beach in sweatshirts. That's how this trip has gone, and that's okay with us.
One of our favorite beach trips ever was in 1994. We went to Nantucket and had our first experience with seaside strolls in cool weather. I remember saying, "One day we'll be older and won't want to hang out in the sun all day and this will be nice." My wife said, "It's nice now." Turns out, we were both correct.
The last couple of days, we've had the best of both worlds. It's been warm enough during the day to enjoy traditional beach-type activities, and cool enough in the evenings to enjoy an invigorating sea breeze.

Ft. Walton Sunset
Originally uploaded by Darrell
My stomach has recovered sufficiently for me to finally go for the seafood dinner I've been planning.
I have realized a little piece of news that may shed some light on why I've been so sleepy all week. I haven't had a single cup of coffee since we left home. Maybe I'll lay off the coffee altogether.
I will need to wake up for the drive home.
The sun is about to set on my little trip.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Only Way to Fly

Originally uploaded by darebouche
Vacation continues. The Happy Couple bascially said, "Aw, Chute" and went for it. Their parasailing adventure left them smiling and wind-blown. They both said it was serene sixty feet up.
For some reason, I just don't have any energy, so I remained still. I'm about to blow through a Dean Koontz novel and I stupidly sunburned the tops of my feet, along with my knees and calves. At least it's a superficial kind of discomfort.
The low humidity, the gulf breeze and the sound of the waves lapping onto the beach combine to soothe me into submission.
I'm getting lots of sleep.
Good night, now. Zzzzzzzzzz.....................

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Vacation Photo of the Day

Sara Sunset
Originally uploaded by darebouche
To bring a little sunshine into your computer, here is a gorgeous photo of one-half of The Happy Couple watching the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico.
Since the gulf is situated to the south and the sun sets in the west, you have to have the water on your left to see this, but it's worth the turn.
The best thing about the unseasonably cool weather is that the beach is refreshingly quiet. This contributes to the success of our vacation mission: "Still and Chill."
Tomorrow, an action plan for the younger couple: Jet Skis and-or parasailing. We'll see how it goes.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Off the Soup

Outside McGuire's
Originally uploaded by Darrell
Somewhere late into the evening, It was determined that my battered digestive system had recovered enough for me to try solid food. I still couldn't convince myself to go for seafood, but steak? What the heck?
Apparently, when one is on the Emerald Coast, one must eat at McGuire's. Who am I to defy tradition?
I ordered a sampler of Irish Brews, eight little shots of beers in increasing body and varying flavor. I neglected to factor in that I had not eaten anything of substance in about 48 hours. So, the buzz I did not plan came on quickly.
I ordered a ribeye, and under ordinary circumstances it would have been pretty good. Under digestive duress, however, it seemed under-cooked and over-salted, and I couldn't finish it. I brought it back to the Fabulous Beachfront Condo, though. I'll take another stab at it tomorrow.

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Still and Chill on the Gulf Coast

It has been four or five years since I went on an actual vacation, and I had modest goals for this one: "Chill and Still," and "Eat seafood every night."
To achieve the first goal, I dragged my bride to the library and we checked out several books, including one on CD for the drive. That plan worked. We're halfway through the book on CD and we each have read another. I have not left the Fabulous Beachfront Condo and she has made only a short trip or two to a nearby supermarket for supplies. So, we have definitely been still. The "chill" part was meant to evoke images of relaxation. In fact, I had planned to to maintain a moderate buzz with some nice wine while I'm here. Instead, it's a "be careful what you wish for" thing, because I have been granted my wish more literally than I intended. The temperature fell into the 30's last night.
I got really sick the first night we were here, and that has paid unanticipated dividends. See, we're not out spending audacious amounts of money on extravagent seafood meals or bottles of Cabernet. The very thought of something fishy remains a little nauseating, at least for now. Forget about alcohol in any form. I'm not much of a drinker, anyway. That's why the little buzz was part of the action plan. Gotta shake things up.
The dining highlight of the trip so far has been an unplanned stop at Bigg E's Grill & Bar in Diamondhead, Mississipi. The potato soup and salad I ate there got paid back later that night. Since then, I've been trying to get my stomach back on its feet with store brand soup and saltines.
The temperature rose into the 60's by mid-day and we spent some time on the beach. I think the fresh air did me some good. I might go for the gusto a little later and try a sandwich and a Diet Coke.

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At Least We're Getting Some Rest

Cold on the beach
Originally uploaded by Darrell
We're on the gulf coast with The Happy Couple in tow and it's COLD. You don't go to the beach expecting freeze advisories, but that's what we got. The good news is, temperatures are expected to rise into the 60's today and the 70's tomorrow. The timing isn't as unfortunate as it might have been. The long-range forecast is calling for thunderstorms most of next week.
Our young female travel companion is also struggling with a stuffy head, so she didn't have a lot of energy on day one. At least she was on her feet, which is a lot better than how I found myself.
About an hour after we arrived at our fabulous beachfront condo, I started paying back my dinner. And my lunch. And the Diet Cokes I chugged to keep me alert on the nine-hour drive.
The sickness kicked my tail. I tried to get out of the bed several times. After all, we are on vacation. I couldn't make it more than a half-hour without collapsing. Having spent some time in emergency rooms over the last two weekends, I refused to go to a doctor. Instead, I loaded up on over-the-counter remedies and tried to will away to urge to hurl.
My wife has a sense of humor about all this. She even took pictures to illustrate my misery and her boredom. I was alert enough to polish off a book in one day. Robert Schimmel's Cancer on $5 a Day was difficult to read sometimes, but it is inspiring. I recommend it, particularly to anyone who has dealt with cancer. Sadly, it seems like that's just about everybody.

I got up in time to see a pretty spectacular sunset: Explosive sunset At last, it doesn't feel like somebody kicked me in the gut then punched me in the head. Today, I plan to actually go to the beach.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

You Know It's Spring in Louisiana....

crawfish boil
Originally uploaded by Chris Lin
This early spring day in north Louisiana was picture perfect - High blue sky, low humidity, temperatures in the 70's and a breeze! We went to our first crawfish boil of the year, and everyone was in fine spirits.
Crawfish boils are more social than nutritional. A group of people share a collective purpose, and there's something to keep your hands occupied. If the conversation drags, you can always immerse yourself in peeling your mudbugs.
Today's event was socially effortless because the organizers had set up big-screen TV's with the NCAA basketball tournament on them. There were plenty of distractions. The crawfish were well prepared, spicy but not overbearing. Jambalaya, corn and new potatoes were available to fill in the gaps. The beer was free.
What more could you ask for? Welcome to spring.

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The Middle Age Pinch

It's hard to say which is more challenging, parenting teenagers or fretting over aging parents. My wife said yesterday that one word will sum up what w're are presently experiencing: Worry.
She's easily worried. I'm easily frustrated. While the kids are running amok and there's not a whole lot we can do about it, we're busy paying it back to our surviving parents. My mother-in-law is holding up quite well in her first couple of months of being a widow, and we're proud of her. My father, ten years her senior, is hanging in there.
I spent a second consecutive Saturday in an emergency room. The phone rang at 3:00am and my father said he needed to go the the hospital. He has an overwhelming tendency to think the absolute worst. I guess that's because he's old and feels bad most of the time. He actually said, "If this is a heart attack, I hope its a big one because I'm sick of living this way." So, that's how my day started.
He's okay. They're running fluids into him because he is dehydrated. That's it. Since this is No Big Thing, I feel okay complaining about the other stresser that came into play here. He didn't call an ambulance. He called me. (That should have been everyone's first clue that it wasn't "the big one"). When I got to his house about 3:15am, he wanted me to take him to The Competition. There was no compelling reason to do that. Once we made it to the correct health care facility, he was glad that decision was made. He saw a real difference. It's nice to shake the hand that feeds me.
One day I will be able to sleep a little more and worry a little less, I hope. Until then, I suppose the circle of life will spin like a top.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Hockey

Darrell and Clawed
Originally uploaded by darebouche
A well-rounded citizen of Shreveport-Bossier must attend a hockey game. It dawned on me this afternoon that the Mudbugs' season is just about finished and I had not been to a game all season. This was completely unacceptable, so we went about the business of rectifying that situation.
I went all out, representing with my Mudbugs cap and, of course, tracking down the mascot for a photo. These games actually are a lot of fun, accentuated by the culture created by the fans. Thousands of people doing the same cheers after their team scores, dancing in unison and generally carrying on can induce anything from a grin to a belly laugh.
Our team has the best record in the Central Hockey League. Our coach is the CHL coach of the year and the team has home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Woo-Hoo!
Who says there's nothing to do around here? Concerts, symphony, comedy shows, casinos and hockey. We're busy!
All that and Arena Football starts next week.
Or, we could stay home with a Netflix movie and a bag of store brand microwave popcorn.
Go Bugs.

The excellent photo of CHL coach of the year Scott Muscutt is by Val Horvath of the Shreveport Times.

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Meeting My Easter Needs

This digital sign outside a pharmacy/ convenience store struck me as particularly presumptuous. Of course, I'm likely giving the sign's "author" entirely too much credit.
So, CVS has all my Easter needs? Can CVS offer me the hope of the Resurrection? Can CVS renew my spirit and forgive my sins? Can CVS open the doors of Heaven to sinners? Quite frankly, those are my Easter needs.
Oh, Wait. CVS has little plastic eggs and chocolate bunnies with hollow ears? Do they have Peeps and fake grass to stick into baskets? Do they have PAAS egg die? Is that what we're talking about here?
This reminds me of a young co-worker who had moved from the Pacific Northwest. She asked, to the shock and dismay of many, "Easter? Is that some kind of southern thing?" That's someone who has Easter needs. I hope CVS helps her.

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Breaking Out of the Restaurant Rut

We love to go out to eat, no matter what time of day. It's fair to say that most days we have to talk ourselves out of going out. It would be easy to take the path of least resistance and patronize the chain restaurants, but I try to help the local restaurant owner whenever I can.
One of The Bosses and I recently took a noonday diversion to Shreveport's Highland district and ducked into Lila's. We thought we would be getting away. Sadly for us and happily for Lila and her family, it simply wasn't the case. We saw some high-profile people from work there, as well as a couple of local celebrities. So, I guess we were among the last people to be let in on the news that Lila's is a little midtown gem.
As you can see in Mike Roseberry's photo, the place has an old-school charm.

More recently, my wife and I found ourseves in Broadmoor at dinnertime, so we ducked into Rollin' in the Dough. The place was packed, and after eating there I know why. It was fantastic. We saw some people we know and confessed it was our first time there. It looked like somebody slapped them. They literally flinched. Their faces showed complete surprise, kind of like "Are you kidding me?"
The place doesn't have much curb appeal, but obviously its food, reputation and loyal customer base are enough to help it thrive. They were doing a robust take-out business, too.
Both of these new culinary encounters came to pass because I got out of my neighborhood. I recommend it.
I'm glad we have usual complement of chain restaurants, but I get a little embarrassed eating there sometimes. (I admit I ate at Olive Garden this week and it was pretty good.) My mother-in-law loves McAllister's Deli, for instance. She has a friend in from out of town, and that's where they went to lunch. That makes me a litte uncomfortable because I think it shows a lack of imagination. McAlister's, Friday's, Ruby Tuesday, whatever. It's all like McDonald's. You can eat there anywhere.
We need to support places that are unique to home. Can anybody say Herby K?

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

TV Confessions - Top Ten Edition

Two "Top Tens" got my attention Wednesday night.I am a Battlestar Galactica geek. The long-anticipated, well overdue fourth and final season will premier April 4th. On Wednesday, David Letterman had ten cast members on the show to offer the "Top Ten Reasons to Watch the New Season of Battlestar Galactica." It wasn't that funny, but the fact that the show got that much attention pleased me. Plus, I'm a long-time Dave devotee, so I got an eleven-for-one deal.
I am now ready to publicly declare my "American Idol" rooting interest. Brooke! The contenders have been whittled down to the Top Ten, and Brooke White is my Top One. I'm inclined to agree with the hype about this being the best group of finalists. Ramiele Mulabay is the weakest performer so far with Kristi Lee Cook giving her pressure for the dubious honor. I think Cook has more potential to be consistently entertaining, plus she's really good-looking. Brooke has it all: beautiful, likeable, a songwriter, a musician, a singer. Carly Smithson is the best singer in the group, but she needs to cover up that tattooed arm to get more votes. Girls are digging the Archuleta kid. Women are all about Michael Johns.
I spent some time with an avid sports fan yesterday. He was talking about the expectation that he would be grinding the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but had a confession. "If it's a choice between 'Lost' and a first-round game, 'Lost' will win. I'll flip over to the game during ads." Given the state of things with "Lost," he probably wouldn't get an argument from me.
At the urging of many Daddy D readers, we have finally given Jon Stewart a chance. Now, he's a TiVo priority. We don't watch him at 10:00, but we do watch him essentially every night. I can get through the good parts of The Daily Show and then Letterman and still be asleep by 11:30.
We still love us some "Boston Legal," even though Julie Bowen is gone from the show. I must be the mad cow.
I can hardly wait for football season. Until then, vote for Brooke.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why Would You Do This?

Little snake
Originally uploaded by flylike_paper
I know the young lady in this photo. I'm very fond of her. She is welcome in my house any time, but she CANNOT bring her friend along.
I'm not sure what's happening here, but I suspect there's a wacky science teacher involved somewhere.
She's not old enough to remember the mind-blowing photo of Nastassja Kinski and the serpent; but if a picture of my cat can remind a commenter of a famous Vermeer painting then our friend with the snake certainly can bring this to mind:

It has been twenty-seven years since Richard Avedon captured this legendary image. He took advantage of Kinski's fame in the wake of her film role in "Tess," one of sixty or so films in which Kinski appeared, but arguably her most famous.
I was in my early 20's when this photo became famous. Clearly, it made an impression on me. Funny, I've never really been afraid of snakes.
As Mary points out in her comment, this image is kind of cut in half horizontally.
See the photo in all it original glory here.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Cat with a Pearl Earring?

Our enigmatic cat seems to be generating some fascination from the blogosphere. It all started with a photo of her resting comfortably on my chest while I was passed out on painkillers.
Readers commented about her girth. She was compared to a moose, called "tubby," and we have received a lot of good advice about feeding her properly.
A recent comment, however, leaves me puzzled. Someone said a photo of the cat reminded him of this painting.
I'm not sure which photo evoked this famous work by Vermeer, but maybe it's this one:
True Love
The cat is facing the wrong way. Maybe the earring is on the other side.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Dude Will Abide

Years ago, I started affectionately calling my son "the Dude." this was a reference to Jeff Bridges' character in the film "The Big Lebowski," a cult hit.
I fear this has become a self fulfilling prophecy. If you haven't seen the movie, trust me that "the Dude" is not necessarily someone you would want your son to emulate. The Dude is not a role model, even though he is outrageously funny.
Entertainment Weekly has a feature article in its current issue which celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the film's release. The magazine has a full-page photoillustration which uses a screen shot from the movie.
Need I say more?

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Traversing the Cultural Diameter

Less than 24 hours after enjoying a rare night out with a bunch of guys, I found myself herding women. My wife, mother-in-law, daughter and two of her friends sat on the same row with me for the Shreveport Symphony's presentation of "Broadway Today." Yes, I went from Friday's blue jeans and beer crowd laughing hysterically at scatological humor to the Saturday blue blood set getting goosebumps from show tunes.
You may question my manhood for attending such an event, but I will tell you I went enthusiatically. The wife and I go to this show every year and it never disappoints. The headliner is Craig Schulman. If you want to talk about manhood, this guy has it. He is the only person to perform on Broadway in the lead roles of Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Jekyll & Hyde. Dude has talent...buckets of talent. He always brings beautiful women to perform with him, and this year was no exception. My 16-year-old said to me during one episode of thunderous applause that Collen Hawks took her breath away singing "Defying Gravity" from "Wicked." When Tamra Hayden emotionally offered "On my Own" from Les Mis, patrons young and old were crying. When Schulman hit us with "Bring Him Home" and "Music of the Night," the crowd was simply awed. The 16 and 17-year-old girls hung around Riverview Theater to buy CD's and get autographs, and that tells me they know the've seen something special.
The Shreveport Symphony is celebrating its 60th season, but it remains one of the most underappreciated enterprises in the area. Talk about big-time, Shreveport had it again Saturday night. Those of us fortunate enough to be there know what we heard. We had the goosebumps to prove it.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Guys' Night Out

The Strand
Originally uploaded by darebouche
This never happens. I went out with a group of guys: Steve, Chuck, Cliff, Charlie, Sonny, Mike and Robert. We saw the Bob and Tom Comedy All-Stars at the Strand Theater. It was a great show featuring hysterically funny stand-up comedians. 1700 people packed into the historic venue and we laughed until our heads hurt.
I was honored to be included. I like all of those guys, who I know from work. The thing is: Robert, Chuck, Steve, Sonny, Charlie and Cliff ARE ALL MY BOSSES. If they weren't so nice, it would have been intimidating.
Bob and Tom are the hosts of a nationally syndicated radio show who make household names of lots of comedians. Patty Vasquez, Nick Griffin, Greg Hahn and Ralph Harris hit the stage, but the clear attraction was Donnie Baker.
He's a recurring character on Bob & Tom. I had a chance to meet him before the show. He's just a regular guy who works on a radio show, but when he hits the stage, he takes on a whole new persona.
The big news, though, is the rare guys' night out. I used to work nights at a TV station, and I would sometimes go out in groups after the news on Fridays. I think this is the first time in at least four years that I had gone out in town without my wife. Does that sound pathetic?

This photo, courtesy our pals at 99X, shows Charlie and me along with Nick Griffin, Chick McGee, Greg Hahn, Donnie Baker, Patty Vasquez and Ralph Harris.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Irony in Eating Out

Low-fat at Strawns?
Originally uploaded by Darrell
One of Shreveport's legendary eatieries is still thriving. There are three Strawn's locations I know about and people go there because they know what they will get: good old-fashioned salty, greasy food.
So, I was amused when someone ordered a low-fat breakfast. That's like going to a Chinese restaurant and getting a hamburger. What's the point?
Having spent thousands of dollars in the Strawnses of the world in my lifetime, I know how I will react when I walk in. There's a lot of saliva involved. The place just exudes, "So good but so bad for you."
Honestly, i think it's good for you every once in a while to just indulge. Have a cheeseburger. Salt your fries. Have a slice of pie. It's the kind of thing that makes life worth living. If you want low fat, go to Subway or a salad bar. Smell the salt and hot oil. Live a little.
Strawn's (10) Low-fat Omelette! Yum.Strawn's (9) Not Low-fat pancakes. Better!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What if Silda Said.....

Silda Spitzer's husband is in big trouble. The lower photo shows the pair in happier times, when Mrs. Spitzer looked lovely. Now that her husband has resigned as governor of New York in disgrace, the strain is showing. She was forced to stand beside him as he offered an apology for employing the services of a high-dollar prostitution service. If recent media reports are to be believed, Mr. Spitzer has spent at least $80,000 to do whatever it is he does with those women.
There's been a lot of babbling lately about Silda Spitzer, Wendy Vitter and other political wives who have been slapped by sex scandal over the years.
Just once I would like to see, in the middle of the big mea culpa by her husband, one of the women stride up to the microphone and say something like this: "Look, here's the thing. Eliot has certain, let's say tastes, in the bedroom that make me uncomfortable. I don't want to participate in these activities. He has found an outlet for this, and I accept that. It's kept our marriage together. Yes, it's illegal and probably immoral. But, the way I see it these professional women are no threat to me. I'd rather him hire someone than cavort like that with a co-worker who might break up my family."
That would grab some headlines! Wouldn't it be refreshing, just a little?(AP Photo from Spitzer's resignation announcement by Stephen Chernin)

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Leave My Cat Alone

Cat nap
Originally uploaded by Darrell
A photo of this cat using me for a bed while I was passed out on narcotics over the weekend has caused a disturbance in the Daddy D Force. You people are abusing the poor thing in comments and e-mails. I guess she has gotten fat, but I haven't noticed.
The cat lives in our home despite her mercurial nature. She's ten years old, so I guess we're stuck with her for a while yet. She serves no real purpose except to get cat hair on the sofa and to annoy me.
About 80% of the time, she's a tolerable animal. It's the other 20% that gets to you. Without warning, she will pounce on you. Sometimes, when provoked, she will bite. Most of my kids' friends just hate her, fear her or have a general disregard for her.
We got her as a kitten for our then-6 year old daughter. They were inspeparable for seven or eight years, but now the Disappearing Teenager has basically abandoned her cat and so by default she comes around to bug us all the time.
She's fat because we can't keep her out of the dog food. She earns her keep as the dog's best friend and constant companion. So, she does serve a purpose in the house.
She has no front claws, so she can't go outside unsupervised. We love her in spite of her personality flaws, maybe because of them.
If you don't mind, we'll keep feeding her.
True Love

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