Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Modern Manger

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Musical Advice

A few years ago, I met Rachel Zylstra at a film conference at Calvin College. One night the men at the conference got together to go bowling, which left us ladies free to hit the town on our own. We were joined by another new friend, Donna. We all seemed to hit it off right away.

We talked for hours as old friends will do - except we were new friends... so the conversation was full of "get to know you" questions, interesting explanations, and many many new stories of our lives in our three home states, our families, our jobs, and our hopes for the future. We were interested, we were funny, and we were totally enjoying our girls' night.

At one point, a man at the next table stood up. He'd been sitting there for awhile, and was alone. He walked to our table and placed a note, scribbled on a napkin in the middle of the table. He muttered something like "Excuse me, sorry-to-bother-you..." and walked out.

The funny thing? The note wasn't for ONE of us - it was for ALL of us. He apologized for eavesdropping, but said our conversation was both enlightening and entertaining, and thanked us for the "company." He mentioned he was a nurse - and if we had any medical questions, we could always call him. He left us his number.

None of us kept the note... and certainly never contacted him, so we'll never know if he was just being sweet, or was a crazed lunatic.... All I have to say was that he was right - the conversation WAS both enlightening and entertaining... and I'm really glad I had the evening to get to know Rachel and Donna.

ANYWAY - all this to say, sometime after the conference, Rachel moved to NYC to begin her musical career. She's a remarkable pianist whose playing style reminds me of Tori Amos'. Her music is well-crafted, art-house fare... In her, I see an original. She's not following trend, and she's a sound-alike to no one I can think of. However, her songwriting style elicits a pinch of the Mercury (Freddie that is), as well as those clever singer/songwriters I love - like Jonatha Brooke, Jewel, Paula Cole... You know the stuff. Good, honest, fun...

Rachel is doing a new thing - which I applaud her for - A musical advice column - hosted on blogger... You can find her here. You owe it to yourselves to give her a listen. She's not only remarkably creative, but pretty insightful!

For example, to an unemployed woman who wants to know if it's okay that she tell others the truth of her current status as jobless/homeless and in need of a job, Rachel sings:

"You gotta take this full-on; honesty can be fun. Here’s your script:
“I’m unemployed - aka on the ready
to be your friend or colleague or your girlfriend going steady -
keeping real, keeping gracious with my peops and my folks as I camp out at their places
and I laugh at all their jokes.
Yeah boy, I’m homeless, living on a bum flux,
riding on a need wave – surfing for my own house.
In the steady meantime, I possess a width of time.
I’m overqualified; I can make your sentence rhyme –"

(KELLINCATTY's ASIDE: She sang "BUM FLUX!!!!" If I ever quit my band, I'm going to find a new one and name it BUM FLUX!)

Here she is on YOUTUBE: doling out fashion advice:

So fun. Check her out. Ask her a question - She'll tell you no lies.

And Rach? Can I produce your music videos?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Photo Inspiration

I've been on a quest for inspiration lately, so a friend of mine and I started a photo inspiration site... you can find it on Facebook - type "PhotoPhotoPhoto: Inspiration for Shutterbugs" in the search bar - and you can join us - post, comment, and have fun.

My faves are the purple mask and the little perfume bottle & quarter... both shot in my house with no special lighting (save a bit of tin foil wrapped around a cereal box to give a little highlight to the perfume bottle). I did mess with the mask in photoshop - the original background color was orange.


Monday, March 08, 2010


A few months ago, I had a scuffle with a company called PEEL, INC. Today, out of curiosity, I looked them up - The Chicago Better Business Bureau reports this:

Government Actions

On February 17, 2010 IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against Peel, Inc., and its President Brian Dale. The company sells products online at dozens of Web sites, including,, and

The company markets its products using "free trial" offers and requires consumers to provide their billing information purportedly to cover shipping and handling fees for the supposedly free merchandise. However, within days of signing up for a free trial, consumers begin receiving unauthorized charges ranging from $19.99 to $49.99 on their credit cards.

Further, Madigan's complaint alleges that if consumers are able to reach Peel's customer service, the company allegedly promises to stop charging consumers but fails to do so. Consumers continue to receive unauthorized charges on their credit cards. Madigan's Consumer Fraud Bureau and the Better Business Bureau have received more than 2,300 complaints against Peel and its affiliated Web sites.

Madigan's suit alleges the defendants violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act by placing unauthorized charges on consumers' credit card bills. The suit seeks a permanent injunction barring the defendants from doing business in Illinois, restitution for consumers, civil penalties of $50,000 for violating the Consumer Fraud Act, and an additional $50,000 for each violation committed with the intent to defraud.

I'd like to think I had a hand in taking these horses'patooies down! Shame on you Brian Dale. You deserve to be making license plates in jail.

I'm still a dope for falling for these losers - but you won't find me falling for this crap again.

Saving Face(book)

I'm such an idiot.

The other day I posted a new status on Facebook. It went something like this (I've since deleted - so forgive the paraphrase) - "Kellincatty wonders what Sarah Palin wants to be when she grows up. Standup? Jay Leno, I never took you for an enabler."

Big mistake, but since I'm unpacking and unloading right now, let me explain a few things.

I'm not a fan of Palin... but not for the reasons you may be thinking. Where some people see her as a champion of conservative values, I just see her as a big ego with legs... I see her as striving to be... as opposed to just being. To me, she's the Bree Hodge of politics, desperately seeking to appear perfect when she's as flawed as the rest of us... To me, that's sad.

In addition, she seems to want to be all things to all people: politician, leader, supermom, hot wife, champion of traditional values, author, star interviewee, keynote speaker, commentator, sports analyst, storyteller, Republican pinup girl, Presidential material, hero of Alaska, FOX sweetheart and now standup comedian? Too many hats for me!

Now I realize that the whole pantheon of politicians very likely have the same mythic self image... but what I can't understand is this Svengali-like hold she seems to have on certain people. But maybe it's just too simple: My husband shrugs, "She's pretty good lookin' Kell..."

Ok - so now, do you guys understand the issue I have with her? I just view her antics as desperate unprofessionalism. I don't think she's necessarily unintelligent (although she has not a shred of talent in extemporaneous public speaking). I don't hate that she has family values (although I didn't personally take offense to the episode of Family Guy where Chris falls for a Down's Syndrome girl). I don't care that she wrote on her hand. I think it's great that she's making enough money to send her kids to college. Honest... I just wish she'd stick to what she's good at.

It doesn't matter that I'm not exactly sure what that is.

However, when I wrote that status on Facebook, I was accused of being anti-values... sort of. Let me say I felt like I was accused of all this and more.

At one point, someone admitted that Palin may not be presidential material, but might make a good cabinet member (meanwhile, Kellincatty thinks - "What, How?") Then I purport that perhaps the commenter has a crush on her. (I know, mean, right?) Commenter then says that no one reads de Toqueville anymore... Or the Federalist papers - so we no longer understand the values on which this nation was built.

Because I didn't see what this had to do with my point, I just started poking fun. I posted this little de Toqueville gem, which succinctly details my feelings for Mrs. Palin: "As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?"

I also mentioned that we don't see Ann Coulter running for office...

To make a long story short, this elicited a slew of comments (and another de Toqueville point which leads me to belive you can apply his words to anything you believe...) - not just from my accusatory friend... everyone was getting in on the action - even my mother. Finally, I deleted the thread. Enough is enough.

Know what the weirdest part? I wasn't mad about the run-amok-comments about Palin. I was angry because I felt like my accusatory Facebook friend wasn't hearing me... He just wanted to get his digs in - about how he hates our president and the "Chi-town thugs" (his words) who sit in the White House.

I never intended to get into the litany of her values and politics. I just commented on Palin's behavior. And the more I failed to make my point clear, the more badly I behaved... and for that I need to apologize.

I really should know better. Where I love a good fight, I've gotta either start directing my communications in a more positive way - I should just save face(book) and politely refuse to enter the fray.

The worst part? I now have to give Sarah Palin one more friggin' hat - counselor.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Drive Me Crazy

I was driving my nephew home after he spent the weekend at my house. He is one of those 13-year olds who will never agree with anyone - because he desperately needs and wants to feel smart - perhaps even superior:

Nephew: Women can't drive. They're terrible drivers.
Kellincatty: I'm driving now - Do yo feel unsafe? I mean, that's a pretty broad statement you're making...
Nephew: It's true.
Kellincatty: How can you say that? I mean, you're making a very broad statement.
Nephew: No...
Kellincatty: Know who the worst driver I've ever come across is? The one I refuse to ever get in a car with when he's driving?
Nephew: Who?
Kellincatty: Your father. He's a guy. Not a girl.

It's true. The last time I got in the car with my ridiculous former brother-in-law, I honestly thought I was going to die. He wouldn't pay attention. Five seconds after I gave a "turn right here" direction, he'd continue going straight. If I said 'Take the next exit,' he'd keep going... It was miserable, and I'm tired of it. The next time I had to transport myself and him, I told him I was driving... He kept saying, 'I can drive....'

It just wasn't true.

This week, I was told I couldn't drive a transport van (my van, mind you) to pick up some friends at the airport, because someone "would feel safer if it was a guy."


Then came the post script: But can we still use your van?

Granted, the one who would feel safer if a man drove to the airport backpedalled a little and said "Hey - I was just thinking that a woman driving to JFK at night wouldn't be as safe as a man driving to JFK at night..." (But can I still use your van)

Hey - for all you toads out there, I just want you to know that I haven't had (knock on wood) a vehicular accident in well over 20 years... I've caused no incidents, I've created no problems, I don't drive drunk... My insurance is really inexpensive because 1) I've taken good enough care of my car that I've had it for over 10 years... and 2) because my driving record is really really good.

And for you scoffers who want to note the crack in my bumper, feed on this: My husband borrowed the car - and backed into a dumpster on his way home one night. I wasn't even in the car - let alone the driver.

You boys with your convoluted ideas? You drive me crazy.... I arrive at "crazy" safely and in one piece... but I'm at crazy nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti, Miracles, and Tears for Those We Lost

It's difficult to believe that it's been 9 years since I've seen Haiti for the last time - at least in person. I spent one week there for three years... photographing a medical clinic - and trying to make sense of a nation that seemed to defy conventional thinking... It's difficult to know what to say, watching the news this past week. Everything I see seems familiar - and worse.

First off, Port Au Prince has never been a glamourous place. It's dirty, it's smelly, it's dangerous... It came to be this way due to something the US did to them - namely, we levied an embargo that shut their export business down... Today, it's dirtier, smellier, and more dangerous due to the natural disaster that forces us to confront our relationship with the nation. Think about it. It's a four hour plane ride from New York City... From take off to landing, I can actually get to Port Au Prince before I could reach Pittsburgh by car. It's full of historical corruption that's left the booming population in poverty we can't comprehend.

I can't seem to do enough... And I can't stop being weepy about what I'm seeing on the news.

This week, I've been able to point people to Haiti - by sharing photos, stories of the people I knew (some of whom didn't make it), singing - and telling people where to donate (here - no admin! It's guaranteed that 100% of your donations will go directly to the Haitians...). So far, over 21K has been raised - and wouldn't it be great to send more?

I guess what I'd like to share with you guys today - is the part that I'm not seeing on the news - is the spirit of the Haitians. When your job at the baseball factory is lost because of international powers you can't control - when you can't depend on having any electricity during the day (on a normal day) - you can't rely on local government to keep you safe, transport you to medical care, or provide basic services like sewage control - when your diet consists of meat covered in flies and dirt - and your stomach can withstand just about anything (because far richer people contract dysentery far more easily than any Hatian I've met) - and you just have nothing... there remains a spirit.

The Haitians - at least those I met through my medical missions - have such faith, hope, and spirit of community, the really taught me something of joy. They spend a lot of time together. Fathers carried their little girls to clinics, church and school... towns self-police, looking after each other's welfare... They protect each other... They maintain their dignity each day. You'll never see a Haitian in church without their Sunday best - washed, bleached, and ironed... They sing with their souls on fire - with the hope they have in eternal life... They're amazing.

Anyway, let's take a look at a few photos - in hopes that you'll see what I've witnessed.

This is Celem on the left. I've never been happier to find out that anyone was still alive! His home is on the bank of a "Creek," an open sewer full of trash, poop, and feral animals... Several years ago, members of the mission team I worked with feared that a hurricane would come and wash his cement block home into the sewer... An engineer from Virginia figured out and constructed a retaining wall that anchored far enough into the ground to keep Celem and his family safe from the rains.

That engineer knew his stuff. The same retaining wall saved Celem and his family - who were unhurt by the earthquake. I'm confident that he will be able to assume the work of leading the church, school and community (their pastor, Bienne L'Amarique, was killed in the quake... More on that in a minute)

Here are some random kids looking over the wall that enclosed L'Eglese Siloe Baptiste - the church that hosted our medical clinics. Most of the walls remained in tact after the quake, and provide a safe haven, triage center, and meeting place for the Haitians who can't find their families, have lost their homes, and need care.

The following are photos from a mortgage burning party - which marked the members of Siloe Baptiste as the owners of property... a rare thing for the lower and middle classes of the island!

I'll post more later... Just thinking out loud - and praying for the people of Haiti.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Paint Me An Answer

My parents came over to visit today. It wasn't a social call. My father needed to pick a few things up. During the visit, he mentioned he was going over to my sister Gwen's house to help her finish painting her hall. I instantly remembered that she and I had talked about this... I had 2/3 can of khaki colored paint that I said she could have for the hall... So I asked my father, "She didn't buy paint did she? I told her she could have the leftover stuff from my living room..."

The rest of the conversation went like this:

Dad: Well, I was going to take a cup of her leftover dark salmon - and a cup of her leftover Shrek Green to make brown, then I was going to add white till it was the right shade of tan...

Kelly: Um, do you want my paint or don't you?

Dad: Uh - Yeah.

Recipe for a Category (5) Sauce!!!!

I found this on a friend's website - in the "RECIPE" section. It made me laugh, so I thought I'd share it! Thanks John and Karen!

Apache's famous Skunk Bath Formula
By John and Karen

Helpful with desperate strong odors.

1 liter of Peroxide
1/2 box (8 oz) of baking soda
1-2 tbs. of citrus smelling dish detergent
Febreeze spray
mix peroxide, baking soda and dish detergent in bucket with warm water. Sponge on Apache until completely soaked. Allow to soak for at least one hour. Rinse and shampoo as normal.
For a final "finish". Apply febreeze spray to dry, shampoo'ed and conditioned coat and allow re-entry into residence.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 60 minutes

Category: Sauces

Servings: 1