Maybe dinosaurs, but not fossils

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Dinosaur exhibit @ Carnegie Museum of Natural History

I’ve been unplugged. When I do take time to perch in front of my keyboard lately, I find I have nothing to write. Easier than forcing myself to drum up writing inspiration, I just unplug instead.

Maybe, I mused, I’ve contracted cabin fever and dreary weather causes me to be so uninspired. It seems to be a cyclical thing with me as well, often occurring in February.  

I could blame my lack of creativity and motivation to write during this month because of that doggone lack of sunshine we have in my neck of the woods.

Even though we’ve experienced a mild winter (so far), overcast days on end with little to no sunshine takes its toll on me as does the fact that January lasts soooooooo long and daylight is so short. As usual, when February finally arrives, I do find myself infected with a full-blown case of cabin fever. 

At the beginning of this month,  Papa and I were relaxing in the family room one evening. While he flipped through Amazon Prime and Netflix trying to find something worthwhile to watch, I alternated between reading a library book and an inane color by number app on my iPad.

Suddenly, I thought “Enough! We are so predictable and this is becoming much too much of a regular routine!” So I looked at Papa and said, “We need to get out of here. We need to go somewhere, do something, to get me out of these winter doldrums.”

Of course, Papa works part-time so for several hours a week, he does get out. But Nana keeps the home fires burning in this country ‘cabin’ of ours and in between bouts of cleaning out clutter and babysitting Little One, Nana’s been antsy to get out of the house.

“Okay,” Papa replied, “where do you want to go? What do you want to do?”

Well, there’s the problem. I didn’t have any good ideas. We are scheduled to take a week-long excursion this spring, so my attention has been on making those plans with Papa. But where to go nearby now? What to do? I was stymied.

At this point, you need to know the back story. Born and raised in this area where we now live, this was my home until I went off to college. So I’ve seen just about every site within driving distance, in our nearby city, and in this part of the state that’s worth visiting.

But Papa, he grew up in our capital city several hours away and we spent almost half of our married life residing in other states here in the USA.  And even though we’ve lived in this house for 20 years now, there are still some sightseeing spots in this area he hasn’t visited yet.

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Art in Pittsburgh is one of those places. Since my husband is quite the history aficionado, he’s always wanted to visit this museum. And it’s been more years than I care to recall since I visited the museum as a youngster.

Several times in the past, we’ve discussed attending the Carnegie but would relegate it to one of those “we’ll visit it in the winter time when it’s better to be indoors” kind of places. Well, what better time than a winter day during a snow squall?

So we headed to the city one morning to spend an entire day at the museum, arriving shortly after it opened and leaving almost at closing time. Papa enjoyed a hey-day since he was in his element. This Nana got just the stimulation and photo ops she needed to light a little spark under my inertia.  

Particularly fascinating to me were the National Geographic: 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs exhibition (amazing!!); the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems, which displays more than 1,300 minerals and gems from all over the world; and the Wertz Gallery, where some of the minerals have been fashioned into beautiful gemstones and jewelry.

That breathtaking gallery includes close to 500 gems, crystals, and pieces of jewelry displayed in glass cases in a mirrored room. The spectacle of it just boggles your mind and seems maze-like. Trying to capture photographs and gazing at the astonishing beauty of the gallery truly was exquisite.

And of course, one of the most famous exhibitions of the Carnegie (one that I remember so very well from my childhood) is Dinosaurs in their Time, a remarkable collection of original fossils and actual dinosaur skeletons found out west.

When I was a kid, the dinosaur collection was merely erected bones and fossils displayed, but the exhibition now is remarkable, depicting those creatures in replicas of what their natural habitat might have been like. So much more intriguing.

But that wasn’t the only intriguing aspect. As we wandered through that exhibition viewing the displays, a pleasant elderly man, leaning on his cane, tapped my arm and asked if we had a minute to spare.

We stopped, nodded our heads, and listened to him tell us most interesting facts about the displays. We enjoyed listening to the gentleman, an enthusiastic museum volunteer, share his knowledge.

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The knowledgeable museum volunteer

My curiosity aroused, I questioned him about how he became a volunteer and knew so much about the fossils and dinosaur displays, wondering if he was a retired professor or researcher.

He then shared how he had worked in research of a different kind in his working career,  retired in the 1980’s, and promptly became bored with retirement. So he decided to volunteer at the museum and has been doing so for the last 30-some years.  

His eyes sparkled as he recounted his story and he ended it this way with a huge smile on his face: “It’s fun!” What a great attitude he had!

A day at the museum with my husband. It truly was fun. It was fun to get out of the house. It was fun to shake off my case of cabin fever.

And it reminded me that at our age, especially now in these retirement years, we may be dinosaurs, but we don’t have to be fossils. Papa and I will continue to seek out new experiences (even if they’re new, old experiences), learn new things, and most importantly, have fun together.

“Retirement is when having a good time is your only job.” ~ unknown

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

When the cat has cabin fever too

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Please let me in!

(It’s been several years since our sweet calico cat named Callie crossed the “rainbow bridge.” Just the other day I was thinking about her and remembered that I wrote a post back in February 2011 as if I were our kitty.  If you’re a long time reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, you may recall this. If not, I hope this repost amuses you.)

Don’t let them know, but after my humans left for church this morning, I turned on this contraption that Mama always seems to have on her lap now days instead of me.

I better let you know, it’s me typing this…Callie…the calico cat in the empty nest.  I don’t know why Mama keeps telling people she lives in an empty nest.   Excuse me, what am I, chopped liver

Chopped liver….that sounds pretty good actually.  Wait a minute while I scour the kitchen floor and see if they left any crumbs from breakfast lying around.

Drat, she must have swept the floor recently, nothing good to nom on.  Of course, my humans don’t eat chopped liver. 

If they did, I would know because I always instantly smell what they’re cooking or eating and patiently wait beside the kitchen table by the big tall one, the one my fun humans call Dad.  He’s a softie, that one.  He always gives me a few bites of whatever he eats.

The short round one who refers to herself as Mama, she’s a meanie.  Never gives me her food.  But she does provide pretty sweet kitty treats for me from time to time. 

However, she has the audacity to expect me to perform tricks to get a treat.  Can you believe that???  A cat doing tricks…[shakes head]

I usually comply with her shenanigans because those treats are very tasty and she’s such a stickler, she won’t just hand some over to me.  No, she makes me sit, dance, and beg. 

And then she has the nerve to make me get my own tidbits out of the can.  She’s a trip, but I do admit I like it when she pays attention to me.

Oh yeah, that’s been a problem lately.  She’s been ignoring me A LOT!  I don’t understand it.  You would think that since the fun humans moved out and left us all alone that I would be receiving the royal treatment like I deserve.  By the way, I really like those three younger humans, especially the male one; I love licking his tasty ears.

But since they’re gone, wouldn’t you think Mama would just dote on me?  Shouldn’t she be fawning over me instead of this black thing without fur?  I try so hard to see why she’s attracted to this box, but every time I attempt to walk over the typing buttons or see what’s on the screen, she pushes me away.  How rude!

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Hey, I see you — let me in!

You know I wouldn’t be so offended if it wasn’t winter and I didn’t have cat cabin fever.  I absolutely hate snow!  I hate it when it’s cold!  I don’t know why Mama gushes over and over again about liking cold weather.  I think she’s nuts.

Cold weather, that’s the problem.  I don’t want to go outside when it’s frigid, snowy or rainy.

Sometimes just because I’m feeling a little antsy having to stay in the house, Mama gets all huffy with me and dumps me outside on the front porch or on the back deck.  How could she do that to me?

So what if I make her get up from whatever she’s doing every five minutes to let me in and out of the garage?  We wouldn’t have this problem if they would keep my litter box inside the house. 

And sometimes I just like to go out there for a change of scenery.  And can I help it if I awaken from my daytime naps and I’m hungry?  I hear her telling Dad that I am a pest!  That really burns me.

She gets mad when I sneak upstairs to sleep on my missing humans’ beds.  Well, I miss them and their beds are comfy.  They always paid more attention to me than she does. 

She gets mad if I follow her around in the kitchen when I can smell darn well that she’s making food.  She gets mad if I think I might want to go outside (you know, just to check if it’s suddenly gotten warmer) and then I decide no way, it’s too cold and I run away to hide when she opens the door to the deck.

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C’mon! I hate snow!

She also gets mad when I sit at the front door and sniff to see if I can catch a whiff of something interesting. 

For some reason, she thinks I want to go out in the freezing cold weather so she opens the door and I just sit there looking at her and won’t step outside! 

And then she gets mad all over again and tells me I’m driving her crazy!

Well, she drives me crazy.   Listen, I’m not a noisy kitty.  I’m very gentile and well-mannered so I don’t loudly meow at her.  Can I help it if she’s so engrossed in her black box that she doesn’t hear my soft lady-like “mee-ahhs” when I need something?

When she ignores my pleas for help, I jump up behind her if she’s sitting on a chair or sometimes reach up and tap her with my paw and she actually shoves me away!  Then she gets mad again if I accidentally sink my claw into her leg.  Well, how else can I get her attention?

Personally, I think she wouldn’t be so provoked at me all the time if she would just do what I want her to do,  focus on my needs, play with me when I want to play, pet me when I want petted, and ignore this weird box.  

After all, I can’t wait for spring to come too.  She’s not the only one here that’s experiencing cabin fever!

I can’t wait to go outside and chase some birds.  I can’t wait to take my naps in sunshine on the warm wooden planks of the deck.  I can’t wait to guard the yard from pesky intruders in the evening. 

I can’t wait to leap at flying bugs and roll around in the green grass and eat some of it too.  I’m tired of staying in the house all winter, but it’s much too cold to be outside and I don’t want wet paws.

Instead I am cooped up in this house with one cranky Mama who tells me I’m getting too fat and that I’m annoying sometimes.  If she would just let me sleep where ever I want, eat whenever I want, and stop complaining that I’m making her hot when I’m trying to catch a few zzz’s on her lap, maybe I wouldn’t be so antsy.

She just needs to stop devoting so much time to her “blog” (I don’t really understand what that is anyway, but I know it’s not as pretty as me!) and play with me, stroke my head, and talk to me.  Is that too much to ask?

Uh-oh, I hear the garage door going up.  That means my humans are back.  I’ve got to sign off, but before I go stick my nose out the garage door to see if it’s warmer outside, could you do me a favor?

Tell Mama the cat’s out of the bag.  Tell her you know she’s been ignoring me and you won’t read the stuff she puts in this box any more until she starts paying more attention to me!

Mee-ahh.  [That’s thanks in kitty talk.]

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Cat cabin fever

blogdscn0566Don’t let them know, but after my humans left for church this morning, I turned on this contraption that Mama always seems to have on her lap now days instead of me.

I better let you know, it’s me typing this…Callie…the calico cat in the empty nest.  I don’t know why Mama keeps telling people she lives in an empty nest.   Excuse me, what am I, chopped liver?  Chopped liver….that sounds pretty good actually.  Wait a minute while I scour the kitchen floor and see if they left any crumbs from breakfast lying around.

Drat, she must have swept the floor recently, nothing good to nom on.  Of course, my humans don’t eat chopped liver.  If they did, I would know because I always instantly smell what they’re cooking or eating and patiently wait beside the kitchen table by the big tall one, the one my fun humans call Dad.  He’s a softie, that one.  He always gives me a few bites of whatever he eats.

The short round one who refers to herself as Mama, she’s a meanie.  Never gives me her food.  But she does provide pretty sweet kitty treats for me from time to time.  However, she has the audacity to expect me to perform tricks to get a treat.  Can you believe that???  A cat doing tricks…[shakes head]

I usually comply with her shenanigans because those treats are very tasty and she’s such a stickler, she won’t just hand some over to me.  No, she makes me sit, dance and beg.   And then she has the nerve to make me get my own tidbits out of the can.  She’s a trip, but I do admit I like it when she pays attention to me.

Oh yeah, that’s been a problem lately.  She’s been ignoring me A LOT!  I don’t understand it.  You would think that since the fun humans moved out and left us all alone that I would be receiving the royal treatment like I deserve.  By the way, I really like those three younger humans, especially the male one; I love licking his tasty ears.

But since they’re gone, wouldn’t you think Mama would just dote on me?  Shouldn’t she be fawning over me instead of this black thing without fur?  I try so hard to see why she’s attracted to this box, but every time I attempt to walk over the typing buttons or see what’s on the screen, she pushes me away.  How rude!

blogDSCN0569You know I wouldn’t be so offended if it wasn’t winter and I didn’t have cat cabin fever.  I absolutely hate snow!  I hate it when it’s cold!  I don’t know why Mama gushes over and over again about liking cold weather.  I think she’s nuts.

Cold weather, that’s the problem.  I don’t want to go outside when it’s frigid, snowy or rainy and sometimes just because I’m feeling a little antsy having to stay in the house, Mama gets all huffy with me and dumps me outside on the front porch or on the back deck.  How could she do that to me?

So what if I make her get up from whatever she’s doing every five minutes to let me in and out of the garage?  We wouldn’t have this problem if they would keep my litter box inside the house.  And sometimes I just like to go out there for a change of scenery.  Can I help it if I awaken from my daytime naps and I’m hungry?  I hear her telling Dad that I am a pest!  That really burns me.

She gets mad when I sneak upstairs to sleep on my missing humans’ beds.  Well, I miss them and their beds are comfy.  They always paid more attention to me than she does.  She gets mad if I follow her around in the kitchen when I can smell darn well that she’s making food.  She gets mad if I think I might want to go outside (you know, just to check if it’s suddenly gotten warmer) and then I decide no way, it’s too cold and I run away to hide when she opens the door to the deck.

blogDSCN0568She also gets mad when I sit at the front door and sniff to see if I can catch a whiff of something interesting.  For some reason, she thinks I want to go out in the freezing cold weather so she opens the door and I just sit there looking at her and won’t step outside!  And then she gets mad all over again and tells me I’m driving her crazy!

Well, she drives me crazy.   Listen, I’m not a noisy kitty.  I’m very gentile and well-mannered so I don’t loudly meow at her.  Can I help it if she’s so engrossed in her black box that she doesn’t hear my soft lady-like “mee-ahhs” when I need something?

When she ignores my pleas for help, I jump up behind her if she’s sitting on a kitchen chair or sometimes reach up and tap her with my paw and she actually shoves me away!  Then she gets mad again if I accidently sink my claw into her leg.  Well, how else can I get her attention?

Personally, I think she wouldn’t be so provoked at me all the time if she would just do what I want her to do,  focus on my needs, play with me when I want to play, pet me when I want petted and ignore this weird box.  After all, I can’t wait for spring to come too.  She’s not the only one here that’s experiencing cabin fever!

I can’t wait to go outside and chase some birds.  I can’t wait to take my naps in sunshine on the warm wooden planks of the deck.  I can’t wait to guard the yard from pesky intruders in the evening.  I can’t wait to jump at flying bugs and roll around in the green grass and eat some of it too.  I’m tired of staying in the house all winter, but it’s much too cold to be outside and I don’t want wet paws.

Instead I am cooped up in this house with one cranky Mama who tells me I’m getting too fat and that I’m annoying sometimes.  If she would just let me sleep where ever I want, eat whenever I want and stop complaining that I’m making her hot when I’m trying to catch a few zzz’s on her lap, maybe I wouldn’t be so antsy.

She just needs to stop devoting so much time to her “blog” (I don’t really understand what that is anyway, but I know it’s not as pretty as me!) and play with me, stroke my head and talk to me.  Is that too much to ask?

Uh-oh, I hear the garage door going up.  That means my humans are back.  I’ve got to sign off, but before I go stick my nose out the garage door to see if it’s warmer outside, could you do me a favor?

Tell Mama the cat’s out of the bag.  Tell her you know she’s been ignoring me and you won’t read the stuff she puts in this box any more until she starts paying more attention to me! Mee-ahh.  [That’s thanks in kitty speak.]

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com