Monthly Archives: December 2013

To find holiday joy

Gabe and I are having a really hard time feeling festive this December. Typically, starting in September, I’m all geared up for the last  quarter of the year, jumping from my birthday to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas and then tying it all up with New Year celebrations but this year, I lost steam somewhere along the way and now that December is here, I hardly care.

We’re not a religious family so Christmas is not about baby Jesus for us. Instead, it’s about finishing the year, celebrating the snow and cold and nature’s slumber. It’s about spending time with friends we don’t see often enough and with family whom we see all the time but with the added bonus of watching the kids open presents. It’s about spreading joy throughout a dark month. It’s a wonderful time, one we usually enjoy to the fullest.

But this year, we do not care.

It’s not just us; we’re hearing similar sentiments from all corners, Christian and non-Christian alike. Old and young, families and singletons. It seems there are large pockets of the seasonally disaffected everywhere we look.

Where did our holiday spirit go?

In an effort to bring it back, we’ve been watching our favorite holiday movies. So far, we’ve consumed “Elf“, “A Christmas Story“, Rankin & Bass’ “Jack Frost” (ok, my favorite, not Gabe’s; I love the box of dreams they pass around on Christmas day), and “Christmas Vacation.” And yet…nothing.

There are Christmas carols playing, it’s been snowy and cold, the cider is in its final, carmelized stages, but something is missing.

I made ice lights, lumin-ice-ias, if you will, the other night. They’re lovely, all glowing and twinkerly, casting brightness through slightly- melting ice.


Step One: Fill your desired plastic containers with water. Put water-filled containers in the freezing outdoors. Let sit until frozen.


Step Two: Bring frozen water containers inside. Place in sink. Upend container, run warm water over it, watch ice block fall out. If there’s not a bubble in the ice that you can break through, down where the container bottom was, drill a hole big enough in the bottom of the ice block using hot water from the sink. The bottom of the block is now the top and the former top is now the base.
Insert tea light. If it doesn’t fit like you want it to, do some more drilling with the hot water. If it all goes to hell, just refill the tub and put it back outside and try again tomorrow.


Step Three: After testing all your ice lights, put them outside in the snow. Or on the driveway. Or in trees if you can figure that out. Or on parked cars. Just put them somewhere that is easy to reach so you can light them again after they blow out.


Step Four: Light the candles. It’s best to do this when it is dark, as candlelight is more visible in the night, but really, it’s up to you. Light these puppies whenever you want. I’d imagine the fire danger is fairly low unless you’ve got these sitting precariously near open tanks of gasoline. The candle holder is made of ice which is really frozen water and we all know that water puts out fire. Unless it’s a grease fire in which case water doesn’t help at all.


Step Five: Admire your work and take pictures and then check the candles obsessively throughout the evening because you know the breeze keeps sneaking up and blowing them out. Relight as needed. Also, pay attention when taking pictures and don’t get distracted talking to the neighbor or else you’ll end up with images like this one.

I put lights up on the house the first weekend in December in an attempt to bring magic to the yard but the lights are the LED kind and they’re just so empty-looking, so dark, so uncolorful. Hollow. They make me sad with their lack of brightness and warmth. We put up the tree, too, and it’s got cute lights, but that’s as far as we got until the other night when we threw some ornaments on – only about half of them –  and called it good.

I was grateful, though, for the actual ornaments. I’ve got baubles that have come with me from childhood. Gabe has some from his last life, the one before the two of us. We have trinkets we’ve found together on our adventures – we try to buy an ornament every time we go somewhere. We have one from Thanksgiving in Estes Park in 2008, a happy and sad year. We have one from our Disney Cruise honeymoon in 2009 and one from our trip to the La Brea tar pits last year. There are many more; it’s fun to take them out and remember the places we’ve been and things we’ve done.

I have ornaments that have been given to me as gifts and even though I can’t remember anything else in my life, I remember who gave those little decorations to me. I have ornaments from my BFF’s sister who died; T gave friends and family her sister’s Christmas tree decorations so we could continue share the holidays with her. I have such good memories of Christmas Eves with T and her twin so I cherish those ornaments and look forward to seeing them every year. I inherited the handmade ribbon-and-bead ornaments one of my mom’s friends made for her back before I was born. As the 70’s passed, those gaudy, flashy, homemade things became ugly to everyone but me and my siblings. I still think they’re beautiful though I understand why my mom finds them hideous. It doesn’t help that they’ve lost their tassels and a lot of the pins and beads that held them together.


Ok, so the Snoopy ornament? It’s a Hallmark ornament, called Joe Coolest. I got it in an ornament exchange in 2006, I believe. It’s from Calina. I know all this because I remember it.
The Rolling Hills ornament is from our trip to Kansas to visit Noelle and her family for Thanksgiving in 2010. I know this because I have a whole album full of pictures of our trip there over on Facebook.
The popsicle stick Santa was a Christmas present from the Younger Niece. She made it in 2007. I know this because I wrote it on the back.
See how meaningful these are? They all have stories! It’s so wonderful!

Unpacking and hanging the ornaments was like being able to look into a festive, jolly house. I saw, smelled, remembered holiday joy. But I still don’t feel it. The magic is missing and I dont know why.

I’m going to go find it.

And when I do, I’ll love it more than usual because I have missed it. Off I go, on my quest to find my holiday bliss.


I’ll be back next year, folks, with new stories and crazy tales and, hopefully, we will have found the Spirit of Christmas!

Be well, Happy Holidays, and I wish you all a safe and perfect New Year.


Filed under My Dearly Beloveds

Cat pee on my shoulders…makes me stinky

Here’s a sad thing: It’s December and we have absolutely no holiday spirit in our house. It’s like we can’t feel Christmas or Yuletide or Feastmas or anything. We are numb. Is this the result of having Christmas shoved down our throats since the end of August? Are we becoming even more curmudgeonly? Are we really pod people from the planet Mars and have no actual emotions? I don’t know. All I know is that I do not have the vim or vigor required to create fabulous holiday posts, not like last year.

Instead, I’m going to talk about our cat, Evie.


So small, so precious. Such a sweet baby.
Or IS she?

Evie has a thing about peeing. It’s a fetish, really. And, apparently, I do it wrong.

Here’s what happened:

Sometime this past summer, Evie realized that as soon as I get home from work, I run upstairs to the bathroom. She’s been with us since 2008 but only just now noticed this habit of mine. Anyhow, one day, curiosity got the best of her (she is a cat, after all) and as I headed toward the tinkletorium, she raced me up the stairs and into the bathroom to see what I do in there. The moment I sat down, she scurried over, sat in front of me and watched me, watched me pee. It was weird. But it got weirder. She started rubbing against my legs and then she checked my progress, poking her nose between the seat and the bowl. Was she sniffing what I’d had for lunch? Was she making sure it was my pee coming out and I wasn’t faking it? She purred and…well, encouraged me, rubbing against and looking up at me like she was letting me know I was doing a good job.


“How’s it going in the potty? Are you doing this right? Let me see. I need to see if you are peeing the right way.”

Evie, I’ve been peeing for 41 years and 39 of those peeing years were done on toilets. Mostly. I think I’ve got this down by now.

As I finished, she hopped up on my lap and gave me nose kisses. “Good job, Mommy! You peed correctly! You are so smart!” Then she hopped back down and waited for me to clean up, stand up, and flush the toilet.

OHMYGOD, the toilet flushing. It’s so magical.

She stood, little cat hands on the seat, and watched everything swoosh down the hole with an intensity usually reserved for dogs and food or children and candy. When the flush finished, she leapt upon the seat and stuck her entire front half into the bowl where she started playing with the potty water, splishing it and splashing it and even drinking a bit. Because she is a classy lady.

This has become a ritual.  Every. Damn. Workday. And it’s not like I can just evade her or shut her out or pick her up and toss her down the stairs violently. You try catching a cat on a mission when your bladder is full-up and ready to burst.

Since she’s so fussy over peeing, you’d think she’d confine hers to the litterbox, right?

She doesn’t.

Her poop, yes. She’ll come racing in from whatever she was doing outside to run downstairs and into the bathroom where she shuts the door and poops in her box. But pee? Oh, her nasty cat pee is the ultimate weapon.

Should we forget to clean her box one day, she’ll pee on the couch.

If Gabe is too unloving throughout the morning, she’ll find his important papers and pee all over them.

This started when we got her. I took her to the vet for the very first time, it was a bad experience for us both, and that night, she squirmed her cute little kitten self up onto the bed, walked right up my legs, glared at me, squatted, and peed all over the comforter while staring straight at me. And then she took off. I was stunned.

She’s used this weapon against us ever since.

The worst, though, was the one time we angered her beyond measure. I don’t recall what it was we’d done, but I remember telling Gabe, “Oh, we’re going to pay for this!” hoping she’d get something that could be cleaned and wouldn’t have to be tossed. We were on the lookout for days but found nothing. During that time, we cleaned the house, folded the laundry, dusted, all that jazz…and no pee. I thought maybe our little girl was growing up and finding better ways to express her anger.


Evie dreams of getting us back. That’s what she does all day long.

I was wrong.

One day, maybe a few weeks after The Angering Incident, whatever it was, I got dressed for work, ran downstairs, put my jacket on and left the house. When I got to work, I removed my jacket and sat down and…smelled cat pee. I sniffed around. It wasn’t on my chair. It wasn’t on my jacket. Not my shoes. Not anything else nearby, not that anything else could have been peed upon; I was at work. But the longer I sat there, the stronger it became.

Finally, I got fed up and went to the bathroom. I took off my shirt and examined it with my nose. Guess what? Evie sprinkled little bits of pee on the back shoulder of the shirt when it was in the clean laundry basket. She did it in such a way that it dried quickly and was not smellable when we folded our clothes. It was sleeper agent pee, activated when the shirt was on the body. The more the shirt warmed up, the stronger the scent became. Of course, this wasn’t a shirt that I could go without for the day as I wasn’t wearing anything else underneath or over the top.  And I was super poor at the time so couldn’t run to Target or the thrift shop to buy another shirt. Also, I live 20 minutes from work so it’s not like running home to change was an option. And it had gotten onto my bra strap, anyhow, so I was all peed up no matter what.

I did what anyone would do in this situation. I put my shirt back on, found some Lysol, returned to the bathroom, sprayed myself down, waited for that smell to dissipate a little, returned to my desk and put on a sweater, hoping to mask the odor of urine du chat. When anyone came near me, I yelled at her to stand back and hold her breath; we’d communicate via sign language and she’d better be obvious since I don’t actually know ASL.

It was a long day. I was so angry when I got home. I lectured Evie. She smirked at me, amused at her wicked clever ways.

You know what? Now that I’m remembering all this, I think when I get home tonight, I will miss the toilet and pee on her. We’ll see how she likes it.


How can something that started out this sweet be so very evil? How??


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, Tales from Toiletopia