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Meet Harvey the Hell Cat: Art Therapy Project

art therapy emotional turmoil

He’s flattened. He’s wincing. His wide eyes are filled with fear. Heck, he even has a fear portal located keenly above his solar plexus where fear can be pumped in or sucked out, depending on the mood of the day.

He’s Harvey the Hell Cat, and he’s one creepy creature indeed (who happens to look smashing on my living room wall).

While Harvey the Hell Cat may seem like a peppy enough project to be done for fun, he was actually the result of yet another intriguing art therapy topic from Tucson’s Dr. B.

  • Topic: Emotional Turmoil
  • Result: Harvey the Hell Cat, a kooky critter crafted out of papier-mache-like clay then painted with dark colors. Additional details include eyes made from a metal washer and nut, sheet-metal teeth, and the aforementioned fear portal framed by gold and blue hues.
art therapy emotional turmoil

Why a flattened cat?

Flattened cats have a strong link to my past emotional turmoil, one of which was the star of an incident back in Brooklyn. When my then-boyfriend’s cat was dying, the cat waited until I came home one day to perform his final dying ceremony. It came complete with a swan song.

He crawled into the center of the room, laid on his side, and let out the loudest, most distressing extended cat yeowl I’ve ever heard in my life. I tried comforting him as he continued, until taking his very last breath.

I still get goosebumps thinking about it, especially what I called in a poem “his glazed eye filled with fear.”

Fear of death has kicked up plenty of emotional turmoil in me over the years, although I’m learning to deal with it by reaffirming my belief that yes, our souls live onward and no, I won’t come back as a picnic table.

Is Harvey the Hell Cat for sale?

You bet!

While I cannot part with the original Harvey the Hell Cat, I’d be delighted to make you one of your very own, using any colors you wish. Order now at the rynski etsy shop.

Enjoy!

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3 Thrilling Facts about Air Conditioners

new daikin air conditioner

It’s official. This summer marks the year of air conditioning deaths. A pal posted on Facebook that hers had died. A neighbor had an old one hauled away on a flatbed. Mine was close to death, not expected to last through to fall, so I avoided a sudden and violent death by having it replaced this week.

Summers can be brutal in Tucson if you’re stuck without an air conditioner. But that’s not one the thrilling facts I’m about to expose. That one is just common sense.

The thrilling facts are a bit more intriguing, coming from the experienced pros at D&H Air Conditioning Company.  I was graced with several visits where the D&H AC guys first checked in on my old unit and then turned me on to and installed a new one. All were knowledgeable, personable and served up exceptional explanations, along with these three fascinating AC facts.

Dogs Use AC Units as Personal Grooming Systems

Globs and globs of dog hair. That’s the main thing that came out of our old outdoor AC unit. The globs and globs came from years and years of long-haired dogs, coupled with the fact that no one ever actually opened and cleaned out the unit for the past decade.

Now, we all already know that dogs are smart. The AC man made them even smarter still by noting he sees globs of dog hair all the time.

“Dogs learn to rub on the unit,” he said, noting that the force sucking in the outside air pulls wayward hair and debris off their coats. It’s like their own personal grooming system.

Since my current two dogs flee in terror from the room if you even sneeze, I cannot imagine them actually going near a loud, vibrating box – much less rubbing on it – but I liked the idea of putting a little fence or barrier around the unit. Not because it would ensure the dogs don’t get close enough for a massage, but for aesthetic reasons. A metal dragon cut-out privacy screen thing is nicer to look at than an AC unit, no?

Stolen Freon is a Hot Market

Yep, air conditioning Freon has a thriving black market, with thousands of dollars’ worth swiped from unsuspecting homeowners every year. On older AC units, all a Freon thief has to do is open a valve on the Freon AC hose, empty the stuff into whatever vessel works for Freon stealing, and then sell it to other people who don’t feel like paying full price for non-stolen Freon.

The AC man said they’ve seen entire neighborhoods hit, with sneaky thieves simply shimmying from house to house in the middle of the night. Homeowners wake up to a non-working AC unit – and a big bill for Freon replacement.

New units come with a special key that locks the Freon valve, and only authorized AC companies are allowed to have the key.

Many AC Units Still Use Technology from 1908

In its early days, air conditioning cooled the interior by coming on full blast, 100-percent power, filling the room with cold air, and then shutting off. It would then wait until the room heated up and repeat the process again and again. That type of system is known as the single-stage system. It’s also what made my old AC unit end up with charred black panel where the starter thing had to start it up full force every time it went on.

Newer AC unit feature a two-step system, which works to maintain an even temperature more like a refrigerator. The system’s first stage hits 60 percent power, filling a room with cold air. It then reduces the load to about 15 to 20 percent power to maintain a steady coolness throughout the interior. Instead of going on and off at 100 percent like a madman, it keeps a slower and more steady pace.

Our AC “comfort advisor” (love the title!) gave us a spot-on analogy. He said the single-stage system was like being a red light and then flooring the gas pedal to speed up and stop at the next red light. A two-stage system was like smoothly accelerating and gently reaching the desired speed, providing far less wear and tear on the car.

Even though I drive like a single-stage system, I went for the two-stage for the new AC unit.

While getting a new AC unit may not be as exciting as getting a new car or killer suede boots, the experience can still be fun. Not only do you get a quieter, more efficient way to cool your home, but your dogs get a brand-new personal grooming system.

Make your cool home even cooler with art from the rynski shop on etsy.

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Dogs vs. Cats: A Fresh Take on an Age-Old Debate

dogs as needy girlfriends

Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Yes, you can be both. And yes, you can switch sides.

I was a cat person growing up, until I discovered dogs in adulthood.

A woman I met at the recent Valley Dogs Rescue fundraiser, Petsfly Founder Jeni Redmond, was just the opposite. She also gave quite a thought-provoking reason for her switch from dogs to cats.

“Dogs are like needy girlfriends,” she said, noting their constant pleas for attention are akin to the flurry of texts you get from gals who feel they’re being ignored.

When dogs get too insistent, she just wants to scream “Stop texting me!’” She explained it all with a laugh.

I laughed, too. Then I immediately thought of my Belgian Tervuren Reggie who actually sits on my head when I’m lying down watching Netflix instead of him. Yep, that fits.

So if dogs are prone to falling into the needy girlfriend category, what does that make cats?

With their aloof nature and penchant for completely disregarding you, many could definitely double as the emotionally unavailable boyfriend. To make sure the idea was on the right track, I tested the theory below.

Dogs as Needy Girlfriends

dogs as needy girlfriends
Dogs Needy Girlfriends
Demands to know where you are at all times Yes Yes
Checks in on you multiple times a day  Yes Yes
Gets upset if you go somewhere without her Yes Yes
Gets mad if you forget her birthday Not really Yes
Gets jealous if you give attention to someone else Yes, sometimes jealous enough to draw blood Yes, sometimes jealous enough to draw blood

This one appears to check out, aside from the tidbit about the birthday.

Cats as Emotionally Unavailable Boyfriends

cats as emotionally unavailable boyfriends
Cats Emotionally Unavailable Boyfriends
Doesn’t bother to tell you where he’s going or when he’ll be back Yes Yes
Ducks your calls multiple times a day Yes Yes
Gets annoyed when you ask to accompany him wherever he’s going Sometimes Yes
Totally forgets your birthday Yes Yes
Doesn’t even notice if you give attention to someone else Yes, unless it involves food or catnip Yes

This one aligns, too, proving the theory is correct.

The Good News

The good news is you don’t have to date your dog or cat. And not all dogs and cats will neatly fit into the needy girlfriend or emotionally unavailable boyfriend category. Not even all girlfriends and boyfriends will fall into those categories (thank goodness).

Please note this theory is all in fun, providing altogether politically incorrect stereotypes that hopefully made you at least chuckle.

Dogs and cats each have their unique quirks, which is part of the reason they’re so much fun. It’s even more fun when you learn how to work with those quirks to make a truly personal connection.

I know I’m overjoyed when Reggie rewards my constant attention with his happy little clicking noise in the back of his throat – or by moving far enough off my head so I can actually see the TV screen and breathe.

I was likewise over the moon when the cat pictured above, my pal Stephanie’s cat Witchbird, actually let me take her picture without running to hide in the closet.

Bonding with animals is a treat, whether its dogs, cats, goats or rats. This especially holds true when you fill the needs of a needy-girlfriend dog or get an emotionally-unavailable-boyfriend cat to open up or remember your birthday.

For more insights on dogs, get The Rynski Doggie Dictionary. For more insights on cats, check back later after Witchbird comes out of the closet.  

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Don’t Weld in Your Underwear (and Other Beginner Welding Tips)

beginner welding tips

Alright, you got me. I didn’t really weld in my underwear. It was technically a pair of boxer shorts I wore as pajamas. This was years ago when I bought my first low-powered welder and thought I could be a welding genius in two minutes or less. I wasn’t. So I put the welder in the shed and my burnt boxer shorts in the garbage.

Fast forward nine years later, and I no longer have the delusions of being a welding genius in two minutes or less. I also wear pants and sensible shoes. Yes, I’ve gotten serious about the art of welding, investing in a high-powered, multi-purpose welding machine as well as a plasma cutting system. Heavy metal, here I come.

Beginning welders have a lot to learn, stuff that goes far beyond welder types, shielding gas and the melting point of mild steel. Things you won’t find in a beginner welding guide or manual. Things that include a handful of do’s and don’ts I’ve learned the hard way. Ready?

DON’T wear Crocs.

The little holes in the Crocs tops let little bits of flame fall directly on your feet. Ouch. Invest in a sensible pair of shoes, preferably made of a less-meltable material than rubber.

DO adjust the timer on your automatic watering system.

It’s not a good thing when the automatic watering kicks on at 6:04 p.m. while you’re still on the back porch playing around with metal and electricity.

DON’T expect a regular household current to cut it.

Some welding machines and plasma cutting systems say they can work on both the regular 110 household outlets as well as the 220 outlets, which are usually reserved for things like air conditioning units and dryers. Don’t believe them. The 110 option will sputter out, blow the fuse, and make you think it’s all your fault the metal won’t stick together.

Call Mr. Electric, get the 220 outlet installed, and go to town. It’s amazing what double the electric power can do for sticking metal together. 

DO remember dogs are people, too.

That means their eyes will get all starry and blurry if they look at the harmful infrared and ultraviolet rays of the welding arc. Since outfitting them with a welding helmet or goggles doesn’t work that well, try a welding curtain.

Instead of one of the big jamung curtains that stretch over 12 feet or more, I purchased a rather expensive tabletop curtain that I amended to sit on my welding table. Ever since I bought it, the dogs haven’t even been outside when I’m welding, never mind actually looking anywhere near the general direction of what I’m doing.

Guess it’s like the umbrella theory. It’ll never rain when you’re carrying one.

DON’T listen to piano-based classical music.

Classical piano music is ideal for certain types of creation, like painting, writing poetry or sculpting a naked statue of David. Welding needs a heavier, rougher sound. My two favorites so far have been Robin Trower (thanks, Beezel!) and live Jane’s Addiction, which comes complete with all kinds of swearing. The swearing blends in nicely with my own.

DO keep welding’s universal axiom in mind.

Most activities have a universal axiom that inevitably comes true. The one for motorcycle riding is something like: “It’s not if you’ll fall, it’s when you’ll fall.” There’s a similar one for beginning welders:

“It’s not if you’ll get burned, it’s when you’ll get burned.”

Mine happened when I unthinkingly removed my super-thick leather welding gloves to press my palm on a welded angle I just finished to make it wider. Yes, that was really dumb. No, I will never do it again.

And if you want to get the burning over with early in your welding career, you can always cut to the chase by wearing Crocs or welding in your underwear.

Be safe, and enjoy!

Feel free to check out some of my welding projects thus far, with more to come for sure (especially now that I have a really expensive welding curtain my dogs don’t even need).

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