From our family to yours: Happy Halloween.
(you’ll find out more about the dog later)
I’m going to skip the part where I make excuses for my long absence and, instead, jump straight into the meat of things: It is time for HALLOWEEN!
That means it is time for stories and this all crept up on me, despite my watchfulness, so my first ghost story is going to be one that is short and sweet, though a little sad.
I’ve mentioned a time or two that ghosts and I don’t exist on the same plane. I can’t see them, feel them, hear them, sense them. They pass right through me (haunted humor – I’m hilarious) and I am unaware.
Except for this one time.
To back up: A couple of weeks before I was born, my grandmother’s Siamese cat had kittens, a whole litter of ’em. After I was born, my mom and I lived with my grandparents so the kittens and I were raised together. No joke.
Because these kittens were made to be sold, they all found new homes pretty quickly. One was kept for me. They named him Chopin. Apparently, he and I got on quite well and the Household felt we should grow up together and so we did.
When Chopin and I were around 12, he came down with Feline Leukemia and was put to sleep. Well, not all in one day, but it did all happen in a short span of time.
I’d gone to school knowing my cat was sick and I came home to find no cat at all. That was a really hard day, probably the worst of my life up to that point. It still rates in the top 10.
I cried myself to sleep that night. I was so lonely. My bed companion, a constant for my entire life, was gone. There was an empty, cold space where he would have slept. It was horrible.
But then, in the wee, dark hours of the morning, I woke up for no reason. The moonlight was seeping in, I could hear my sisters breathing in their part of the room, and I felt Chopin jump onto my bed. I looked for him and he wasn’t there but all the same, he walked up my side, sat down and purred. I pet him, pet where he was supposed to be and I couldn’t feel him but I could feel him. There was no warmth, no fur, no softness but I could trace his outline all the same. He purred. I cried. And then he was gone. Forever.
He came to tell me goodbye.
Not all ghost stories are scary.
Tonight, I am going to start my cider. I will figure out how to put my Halloween costume together. I will revel in the beginning of my most-favorite season and I think I’m going to take a moment to thank Chopin, my cat, for taking such good care of me.
Welcome to October, my friends. The fun begins!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I’m going to use this space to whine and I’m whining about First World Problems as well as about things that didn’t actually hurt me. It’s almost like I’m clamoring for attention and, on some level, I probably am. I’m beginning to feel a tad traumatized, though, even if my problems are exceedingly minor.
I hate this month. Not the month of June, per se, but the month of June 2013. It started with moving to a warehouse for work while our workspace is renovated. We’re in cramped quarters with psychotic temperature control going on. We’re trying to maintain grace and good humor but I suck at both so I’m failing already. It’s only been two weeks and a couple of days. We’ve got another 3.5 months to go.
My lawnmower broke. We bought a refurbished one last year from Sears and got a service agreement for it that was supposed to allow us to have any problems fixed until 2014. We’d pay $49.95 for whatever problem arose and the rest would be covered. I thought that wasn’t a bad deal. Plus, the guy who sold us this thing told us we’d be able to get it maintenanced under the agreement. Well, come this summer when we finally got around to mowing our redneck yard, the mower wouldn’t start. I had Gabe call Sears and he got a run around so we marched the mower down to the store where we got it. That was a fiasco in itself but finally the guy working our case (yes, I called it a “case”) found the information he needed and reiterated that we’d have to pay $50 if it was more than just general maintenance but after that, the rest would be covered under our service agreement. Turns out, we were all misinformed because the actual technicians called to say that the mower needed a tune-up and the blades needed sharpening and it would be $116. I lost it. The mower is coming back to us, unfixed, and I am going to sever ties with Sears because I am really tired of their bullshit. I loved them once, but I have outgrown them and their crappy service and lousy merchandise so it is time to break up. I am thinking of writing them a strongly worded letter, in addition. That’s how mad I am.
And then I was attacked by something poisonous that has left bubbling blisters on the inside of my forearm. They (the blisters) itch and burn and hurt and ooze and are super gross. I thought it was stinging nettle since I’ve had a run in with that stuff before but then it got much worse than nettle ever did and both Chris and my mom feel I poison ivy’ed/sumac’ed/oak’ed myself. Yay me. No, I’m not going to spend $40 to get a shot when I can spend $10 on over-the-counter medicines and just deal with it. You know, like my ancestors did. Because I’m tough like that. And also, in pain. And whiny.
Then the washing machine broke, the one that washes clothing and takes all the stains and pet hair and poisonous plant oils from my shirts and capris. Of course, this happened when our friends were kicked out of their house by wildfire and came to stay with us.
“Wait, what?” you ask.
I think I’ve mentioned that I live in Colorado? Yes, well, here in Colorado, our new summertime activity is BURNING DOWN FORESTLAND. It’s not like it’s something we work at doing, though maybe some of us do. Last year, the Waldo Canyon fire ate the homes of two friends and lots of others while we were at a conference in California. It was terrifying to be away from home while our town was in pre-evacuation. I was making calls to my mom and Bedot, asking them to please save the cats and the heirloom cactus (it’s over 100 years old, says family legend) and getting calls from Chris about how the fire just flowed down the entire mountainside and there was nothing anyone could do about it. I was crying at the restaurant table during Gabe’s birthday dinner. It was bad. Thankfully, our town was fine if not somewhat rattled.
This year, we’re dealing with the Black Forest fire and we’re here to experience it firsthand since it’s right down the road. Many of our friends and family were evacuated and I don’t know which ones lost their…well, most everything…yet. Gabe and I have discussed which is worse: To be home and watch it creeping around, getting closer, threatening people you love OR to be far away, worrying, letting your imagination fill in the blanks? We still haven’t come to a conclusion. Both scenarios suck. Thankfully, this one is on its way out, thanks to cooperating weather and a million bazillion fire fighting heroes.
The neat thing about tragedy is the human response is often overwhelmingly loving. Of course there are the jackassholes who will probably writhe in some sort of hell (if there’s an afterlife) for their assholeyness (I’m looking at you, Westboro Baptist and at you, looters) but my community as well as communities up and down the Front Range have come together again to hold each other up. It’s beautiful to watch, much like the horrible fire itself, and it makes you wonder if the beauty is enhanced by the tragedy or if the tragedy causes the beauty. Either way, I’m proud of my people, I’m happy for my friends who have been able to return to their homes, and I worry about all those who lost theirs.
Finally, I don’t want any more shit from this month. DO YOU HEAR ME, JUNE? Knock it off, already.
I’m all out of fresh and wonderful topics on which to post so…I’m cheating and taking a story from the Notes section on my Facebook page. It’s a true story, one that delights Little B every time she reads it. It’s a tale of my petsitting adventures and as housesitting season is upon us, I think this will be timely.
Transcript from early morning hours of August 2, 2011
All participants are in the bedroom with three participants on the bed
Doug: I am Douglas the Great Explorer and I hereby claim this land mass as my own!
Me: Doug! What are you DOING?
Doug: I am exploring and I name this land mass – which I found all by myself – after me. It will heretofore be called DougLandia!
Me: Doug, that’s my chest. Get off! You’re leaving dents in my sternum with your pointy little cat feet. OFF!
I feebly shove Doug off my chest because it’s 3 in the damn morning and I have no strength after being rudely woken from a sound sleep
Max (using a terrible French accent): Oh ho ho, Doog-lass! Zees eez my prop-pair-tee and has been so seence long before you came heer as an eensolent whelp, you eensolent whelp!
Doug: Have you claimed it as your own? Have you named it? Huh? Well, have you?
Max (with same terrible French accent): Zees eez not for you to qwest-ee-on! Eet eez time for us to duel!
Doug: I will fight you!
Doug reclaims his territory and Max, who has claimed the head and shoulders portion of my person, readies for combat. They both open their mouths and begin to slap at each other’s faces. The open mouths attempt to bite the incoming batting paws.
Me: What THE HELL?? Stop fighting on top of me! I am TRYING to SLEEP! Get…OFF!
Both cats are tossed off the bed. Silence resumes.
Maya: *slurp sluuuurp schlrrp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw sluuuurp slrp sllluuuuurrrp*
Me (so tired. so not amused): Maya. What are you doing?
Maya: Taking a bath.
Me: It’s 3:15 in the morning. It’s still dark out. Why are you taking a bath NOW?
Maya: Because I got dirty.
Me: When? When did you get dirty? Was the landing too dirty for your liking? Is your pillow making your fur all gross?
Maya: No. I got dirty when we went for a walk.
Me: Yeah, because you roll in gross things all the time! Every time we go for a walk, you find something to roll in. You’re a dog! Of course you’re dirty! But is 3:15 in the morning really the time for taking care of the consequences of your rolling addiction?
Maya: Yes. *sllluuurp slrp ssschlooooorp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw*
Me: Ohmygod, just stop. You will have all day tomorrow to clean your pretty little paws. Just…be quiet for now and let me sleep.
Maya: …..*slurp sluuuurp schlrrp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw sluuuurp slrp sllluuuuurrrp sllluuurp slrp ssschlooooorp gnawgnawgnawgnawgnaw* This continues for fifteen minutes
Me: Are you done?
Me: Are you sure? You’re clean?
Me: Good. Goodnight.
Something lands on the bed
Doug: HI! Hey. Hey! Are you awake? HEY! Hey, are you awake?
Me: Yes, I am, Doug, because apparently, I am not allowed to sleep anymore. What do you want?
Me: Hi. What do you want?
Doug: Do you want to pet me?
Me: No. I want to sleep.
Doug: Do you want to pet me before you sleep? Listen, I’m purring!
Me: No. I don’t want to pet you and I don’t want to listen to you. Get off my chest! Why do you keep denting my chest?
Max: Hello. I have returned.
Me: Oh, yay.
Max: Doog-lass! I see you are trying to stake your claim upon my territory yet again! We must fight.
Me: You already fought, you idiots! Doug, get off me! Max, lie down and shut up!
Maya (appearing at the side of the bed, tail hitting the mattress): *thump thump thump thump* Hey! Are we getting up now? Because I need to go to the bathroom! Let’s get up, ok?
Me: Maya, you do not have to go to the bathroom, yet! Lie down and go to sleep.
Maya: Yes, I do. I need to go right now. And you have to get up because I can’t go downstairs in the dark by myself.
Me: So take Doug.
Maya: But neither of us can open the door.
Me: I hate you. I. Hate. ALL. Of. You.
Everyone goes downstairs. Maya goes outside. I feed the cats their Fancy Feast; may as well since everyone’s up anyhow.
Everyone is back in bed. Doug and Max start fighting again. Doug and Max get thrown off the bed again. Something big lands on the bed.
Maya: There were cats landing on me. I’m going to sleep here. Move over.
Me: I’m not moving over! You have your own bed!
Maya (lies down and shoves me): THIS is my bed. Move over.
Me: Ohmygod, I so hate you all! If you three don’t knock it off, I am going to drive you all over to the Chinese restaurant! DO YOU UNDERSTAND??
Maya (taking up way more space than she needs on the bed): Shhh. I’m trying to sleep. And you’re being racist.
Maya is hogging the bed and Max is back on his head/shoulders perch
Doug: HEY! It’s morning time! It’s time for you to feed us!
Me (so very groggy): I already fed you.
Doug: But it’s morning and you can give us our food now.
Me: I already gave you your food!
Doug: But, now it’s time for food!
Me: So go downstairs and lick the Fancy Feast crumbs out of your stupid bowl!
Doug: Will you come with?
Me: NO! And get off my chest, you freakin’ psychopath!
Maya: It’s time to get up. I have to go find all the bunnies in town.
Me (whining): I can’t get up. I am too tired.
Maya: Stop being lazy! You have to get up, now. The sun is up and we have to find bunnies. Get up.
Me: Make me, you giant oaf.
Maya: (shifting over and pinning my arm under her paws) *lick lick lick lick lick lick*
Me (trying to get my arm back): STOP LICKING MY ARM! What is WRONG with you!!
Maya: *lick lick lick lick lick lick lick lick*
Me: ARGH! That’s so GROSS! STOP IT!!!
I manage to get my arm free and then dive under the covers to hide from my assailant
Maya (pawing the lump under the cover with her Paws of Death): Hey! I know you’re in there. Get up! We have to go for a walk! It’s time to walk!
Me: No it’s not! I have until 6:30! Let me sleep!
Starts to cry
Maya flumps her whole freakin’ self on top of the lump under the covers
Me (muffled): Get off! You’re suffocating me!!!!
Me: FINE! FINE! I’m getting up! Are you all happy?
Max: I’m not. I was busy sleeping on your pillow, on your hair.
Me: You are all on my list. I am going to make duct tape restraints for each of you.
Maya: Hurry up! There are bunnies and they’re getting away! Get dressed faster!
Me: Move out of my way faster, you obnoxious lump!
Doug: Hey! What are you doing? Why aren’t you in bed? I need to stand on your chest!
Everyone tumbles down the stairs while I finish tying my shoes.
Doug: I want to go for a walk, too.
Me: Well, you can’t. Maya, come here so I can put your harness on you.
Maya (all full of spirit and fun): Come get me!
Me: Oh, hell, no. I am NOT playing “chase” with you. You will come here and put your harness on or I am going to go back to bed for the next half hour and you can suffer without your morning walk.
Maya: You’re so mean!
Lies down in front of me, just out of reach
Me: Seriously? This is what you do? SERIOUSLY?
Me: So help me, if you don’t get your furry butt over here and put your harness on, I really will leave you all walkless this morning and you WILL be SORRY!
Maya: Fine. Put my stupid harness on.
Me: Come over here.
Maya: No. YOU come over HERE.
Me: You are horrible. I walk over to Maya and manage to get the harness on her, even though Maya is lying down Ok. Let’s go.
Doug: I want to come, too.
Me and Maya: NO!
Doug is shoved back into the house by my foot as Maya pulls toward the street. My arm is nearly ripped off and Doug nearly gets a door slammed on his head. Maya and I leave the house, Doug stays in. We walk down the stairs into the lovely, new and fresh summer morning. One bunny was found. Several chickens were stalked. Friends were greeted on the trail and calling cards were left all over the place.
Everyone managed to survive…but just barely.
The end of the beginning of the day.