Kitsch

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Its Holiday Time! Break out the little winter world!

Kitsch.

According to Wikipedia, it denotes “art that is considered an inferior, tasteless copy of an extant style of art.”

Frasier Crane and his brother, Niles would be repulsed by kitsch.

Kitsch is velvet Elvis but, hey, some people like velvet Elvis. Who am I to say someone’s opinion or taste is better or worse than my own?

Back in the day, brightly colored bold Hawaiian flowers pasted all over men’s shirts were considered kitschy when tacky tourists wore them on the islands. Its a completely different ball game now! Coffee table books have been published on the history of Aloha wear and clothing companies are making waves in the fashion industry with it!

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some of Alistair’s Aloha wear… I love it!

I love finding new Aloha shirts in colors and patterns that Alistair likes and the clothing itself makes me smile because it transports me to a warm, tropical paradise with trade winds, mai tais and a never-ending golf season.

Maybe that was part of the problem with kitschy things. They make people smile or feel good because they are simple.

Unlike complicated art that begs for comprehension amidst confusing words or designs. Writings that lament the human condition or an individual’s inability to grasp the meaning of life.

Frasier and Niles love art and poetry or writings like that.

But this blog isn’t about Aloha wear.

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One of the tanks in the Fish Room

Its about waiting over 20 years for a kitschy fish tank.

Alistair had fish and small mammals growing up and he bred and sold fish to pet stores for years. His tanks always were (are) clean, healthy, tasteful and well designed. They contain a normal substrate you would find in nature, like brown or tan rocks and gravel with real wood, pieces of slate and large rocks throughout.

His plants are green or a version of that and some are living and some are plastic. They look like the real plants you would see in a pond, creek or lake and they offer hiding places or they provide discreet areas to deposit eggs.

 

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Fish Room tank #2. Goldfish is very swirly!

He will add some fun variety like these broken clay pots and his fish communities thrive for years. And they are lovely!

Some of our little ecosystems (well, not so little when you consider the 150 gallon Texas or Convict Cichlid tanks!) have been with us since we moved to Montana from Bismarck in 2007. They had breeding pairs and lots of fry over the years and their DNA lives on.

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Guest room tank. Very natural-looking environment.

We like to sit and watch the tanks at night, feeding them every couple of days or so. We have a couch facing the tanks in the fish room and you can just feel your heart rate and blood pressure going down when you sit and watch. And listen to the bubbles.

On his last trip here Alistair combined fish from 3 less populated tanks for larger communities as fish had gradually died off from some of them.

This gave us a couple of empty tanks along with substrate and hoods… it was the ultimate time for The Dream Tank….. Kitsch!

For whatever reason I have always wanted a fairy-tale, princess type of tank with vibrant colors, a bubbling clam shell, buried sparkly treasure and pink gravel or rocks. I wanted pink plants and clear, shiny marbles on the ground because, as simple as it was, I knew it would always make me smile.

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The Kitschy Tank!

And Alistair gave me my little land of fantasy.

We used some items from our consolidated tanks and found some other fabulous, colored things at PetSmart in Missoula. My step-daughter, Whitney had bought me the sunken pirate ship, the oversized pirate and the missing jewels years ago knowing I yearned for my silly tank.

The colors aren’t real- they aren’t what you would find in nature but they are bright and fun and funky and they really do make me smile.

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Bubbling clam shell!

Alistair even found a bubbling clam shell and dropped marble-like pink glass shells all throughout the tank.

And bubbles are everywhere, providing such a relaxing sound as well as the visual to go along with it.

Now we just need fish!

We are going to go with African Cichlids again but it has been a few years. They are a more challenging fish species to care for because of their pH requirements but they are usually absolutely stunning fish as far as their own color spectrums go.

I will keep you all updated…

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Decidedly essential and non-kitschy.

For now, though, this is today’s reality.

We have been fortunate enough to have had a snow-free November but Mother Nature is more than making up for it today. We already have a foot of it out there and its still coming down. It started blowing about an hour ago, too, and the temperature is predicted to plummet into the night.

Which means I need to plug all of the rigs in and just get used to dragging my warm, heavy, huge boots through thick snow, and keep a piddle path plowed for Loki and gloves or mittens near every door in the house while not forgetting to stoke the fire and keep tabs on how the wood pile at the house is looking and just get used to wearing a toque and 3 layers of clothes with leggings and ski pants whenever I’m outside.

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Lovely orange glow! Ahhhhhh….

We weren’t sure last year (or the year before that) if Loki would make it to another winter. November was fabulous for our little grand-dog, though, even if she is becoming more clingy and set in her ways.

Loki needs her couch time at night, particularly when Alistair isn’t here. She was banging on the French doors to the living room repeatedly 2 nights ago, the day Gampy left to go in or come out because I was eating my supper at the kitchen table enjoying my veterinary journals.

She got completely worked up about it and ended up having  a wake-up seizure early yesterday morning.

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Enjoying the mild weather last month.

It wasn’t a bad or unusual seizure but it was the 2nd one we have witnessed when she had been asleep. I don’t know the pathology behind that or even if its significant. She did piddle, though, and was pretty tired afterwards.

Since then she has been great and even toughed out the snow better than her younger brother, UB this morning. Poor Loki was high-centering on the snow and trying to do her business, grunting and “chibbering” at the same time while UB ran to the barn to climb up onto the hay bales with the barn kitties.

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Front pathway after some shoveling this afternoon.

She eats with wild abandon (ground beef added to the kibble, morning and night), does her business when she has to (with occasional “I’m-pissed-at-you-Step-Gammy” moist notifications on the tile floor if I’m gone from the house too long), pin-balls her way around the house (particularly if she realizes I am in another room and she comes to find me) and cuddles into my legs or lap during couch time at night (where she snores and sometimes toots and also breaks my heart because she’s so damned adorable and endearing and I know to treasure each night we have together because each day is a gift.)

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Conked out on the bathmat by the shower I had just got out of.

Loving and caring for our little old friend is a big part of our lives right now but we aren’t willing to stop unless she indicates that she’s not having any fun anymore. But you all know that.

Which is why the kitschy tank is even more special to me right now. Its a boat load of Happy with glass shells and a silly pirate (“Arrrrrgh!”) and a shiny clam shell that burps out its own bubbles and pink, blue, orange and teal plants.

I didn’t get my pastel pink gravel because the cheapskate in me agreed with my Scotsman husband that we should re-purpose the gravel from the tanks he had shut down.

But I’m happy. And even Alistair admits that its a pretty cool tank.

And Loki is sleeping on my feet right now.

I will leave you all with a fun video we shared from our Aloha hot tub to Facebook-land the other night. Just like the sunny new fish tank in our wintery world, the tiki torches and Aloha music station help make anything dreary bright again. Its kitschy, no doubt, and Frasier and Niles wouldn’t want much to do with it.

Which is fine by us. We’re kind of private people up here anyhow.

 

 

 

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Not quite the same today.

 

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The front of the house this afternoon.

 

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Convict Cichlid tank in the Bling Emporium! (Note the natural-looking gravel, rockery and plant-life)

 

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Hiking out back last week before the snow fell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curious Case of Bebe Fyfe

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Fabulous Babulous…. sunbeaming again.

Most folks who visit the Fyfe Farm haven’t met Bebe, our mysterious feline companion. If she hears that doorbell ring or a voice in the house she disappears like magic and we won’t see her for at least 2 hours.

If the house guests are spending the night I won’t see her until its time for soft food when the guest room door is closed before bed. I don’t know where she re-appears from. Sometimes the garage, sometimes the boat, sometimes from behind the washing machine.

She’s been that way ever since Whitney and her friend brought her and her littermate, Cartman home in Bismarck. I had only told the kids about the litter of kittens down the road so they would slow down with their driving. Not because we needed 2 more cats.

 

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Bebe as a kitten

When Babs and Cartman joined us that brought our indoor collection of cats to 8, which is totally ridiculous and I think it might be partly why she is as shy as she is.

When you’re the youngest sibling in a household of older, well established sibs you probably don’t need to communicate much. Or interact, other than for basic necessities like eating & using the litter box.

Over the years she slowly packed on some weight and she just did her own thing.

She, like every other female Fyfe adored our big boy, Oscar, who was basically the king of the cats.

 

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Cooper, Boomer and Bebe snuggled in with Oscar

It wasn’t unusual to find any combination of the girls with him in one of the cat beds scattered throughout the house.

This went on for years.

Until we lost Oscar.

That was the beginning of the change in feline dynamics around here because Mulder was suddenly in charge. Until we lost him, too.

 

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You can imagine the dynamics when there are this many of you! And you can’t even see Sport and Cooper!

And everything changed as Attrition continued until, as of February, we had a house with 2 indoor cats and Babs is one of them.

Which is when we got to meet the real Bebe Fyfe.

Our quiet, not-so-little fan of sunbeams and soft food has become a Domesticated Indoor Cat.

 

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Shy, young Bebe many years ago

She meows at me to remind me that our morning routine has changed.

On top of letting the dogs out, feeding the dogs, cleaning the litter box, feeding Loki, getting Rimadyl for Loki, changing the water in the water dish, getting water to Luigi, and giving treats to Luigi as I clean his cage, I now have to give 3 Greenies treats to a somewhat demanding grey & white Domesticated Indoor Cat.

I mean, she’s cute about it but when did this all start? I didn’t even know she could meow!

Bebe now comes down to our bedroom on sleep-in mornings if we’re lazily watching Netflix while sipping our Kona coffee and joins us.

On. The. Bed.

 

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“What?”

And she purrs and cuddles and interacts as if she’s been a normal cat all of her life.

She’s also lost some weight, probably due to being more active around the house and outside as well. She’s much smaller than she was in the photo above, which was taken just after we lost Boomer in February.

Boomer and Bebe always cuddled in the cat beds but there must have been something about her that kept our strange little Bebe quiet all those years.

Bebe’s sole pastime for years (aside from sunbeaming) was staring at our freezers in the garage. When I had my clinic that’s where I would sadly bring home patients we’d lost who were going in for cremation. Bebe would make the strangest chirping sounds and tip her head from side to side while staring at the freezer. We just figured she was communicating with the spirits and we’ve been fine with that.

 

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“You don’t want me to exercise, do you?”

I don’t see her staring at the freezer much any more.

Maybe she was communicating with the spirits who were likely a bit confused about their situation. I know that every paw of every pet that I have held while they transitioned with their families by their side was ready to lay down and have a good, long nap. They may not have put that thought together but I have only ever said goodbye when it was necessary.

Never out of convenience.

I used to think that was an endearing quality that Bebe had and really, she did it with such regularity it was almost a bit freakish.

But it doesn’t happen now & that’s not because our freezer is empty. Mouse, Boomer, Calypso & Phillipa sadly are beneath Alistair’s treasured huckleberries right now. I think Bebe just knows that they understand where they are and their spirits are still right at home.

 

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Bebe & Sport waiting for Mummy to open the kitchen door a few days ago.

And her own spirit is blossoming as she grows into the Domesticated Indoor Cat that she is becoming.

And we like her chirping and meowing and visiting us throughout the house. I like seeing her and Loki sleeping closer and closer together on the bed. I love the feel of her clawless paws as she kneads my lap when she explores the land of lap-sitting. I like feeding her bits of bacon on sleep-in mornings although I suspect we won’t ever get to the Kiss Piece stage of domestication.

Its fun watching her explore our house- the living room with the warm wood stove and the snoring Boston Terrier snoozing in front of it; our bedroom with all of its windows and the big TV she likes to stare at; the computer room where I do all of my creating and Loki sleeps on my feet like she is now; and the outdoor world where she has even brought a couple of mice up that big old plank.

And I love sharing Fabulous Babulous with all of you!

 

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Just another day in a cat bed with Cooper & Oscar and Boomer wondering where she was going to fit.

 

Jacques and Bebe 2010

“Pleased to meet you, Jacques. I’m Bebe. Don’t chase me, okay?”

 

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The ultimate Sunbeamer.

 

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Just now, refusing to look at the camera. Oh, Bebe!