To Hear the Words That Keep Falling

Thing 2, left, is actually the smaller and pricklier of the kittens. When I take out a camera, Thing 2 usually makes herself scarce. This time, Thing 1 heard the whirr of camera start up and started to bolt. A second later, the larger, friendlier cat, the one on the right, was off in a cloud of dust.

Things are not always as they appear. Or are they?

Man Shot By Puppy Arrested On Animal Cruelty Charge

You may feel a little pressure. I know I do.

PENSACOLA, FL (AP) – An animal cruelty charge was filed against a man who shot himself when one of the puppies he was preparing to shoot made the gun discharge, deputies said. Jerry Allen Bradford, 37, of Pensacola, was arrested Friday and held on $1,500 bond, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office said.

Hell, I didn’t even know we were arming puppies. I feel so out of the loop!

Bradford was holding two puppies, trying to shoot them in the head with a .38-caliber revolver on Sept. 8 when one wiggled, sending a bullet into Bradford’s wrist, deputies said. Bradford had shot and killed three puppies before he was wounded. Bradford said he decided to shoot the 3-month-old puppies because he couldn’t find another home for the shepherd-mix dogs, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies found three of the puppies in a shallow grave outside Bradford’s home. The other four appeared to be in good health and were taken by Escambia County Animal Control.

Now I’m sorry I’m not arming puppies. There’s one last thing:

The shepherd-mix pup that “fired” the bullet was renamed Trigger.

Good doggy! Bad human! Can we talk now about getting Mom fixed?

No Other Place I’d Rather Be

Yesterday, I cleverly drove to work from one side of the river to the other. A few hours later, rising flood waters prevented my boss from making an almost identical, embarrassingly brief commute. Three of the five routes across the river closed in rapid succession, and the route to a fourth quickly became impassable. I calculated the best path out of town to Route 1 North and took it. When I arrived home safe and dry half an hour later, it seemed like little short of a miracle. Maybe it was pretty good guess work and extraordinary luck, I can’t say; however, I felt strong enough to face the task I’ve avoided for a week: reading and answering condolence cards.

Siobhan’s mother died when Siobhan was 19. I assure you that Siobhan, whose flawless complexion is doubtless the result of keeping a hyperactive portrait artist locked in her attic, hasn’t seen the sunny side of 30 in an eye-rolling while.

Tata: We’re having a monsoon. I’m going to read condolence cards. I’m going to do it.
Siobhan: I have a drawer full of them.
Tata: You what? I haven’t opened mine.
Siobhan: Me neither.
Tata: Okay, just to be clear: you have a drawer full of condolence cards from your mother’s death before we met?
Siobhan: Yes. I despair of ever answering them.
Tata: I…think I hear my mother calling me.

Oddly enough, it was Mom, Queen of Procrastination.

Mom: I understand I have new grandkitties and wish to see them.
Tata: Perhaps you’d like to wait until visiting Rancho Rococo no longer requires the assistance of rugged rescue personnel.
Mom: Within the week, then. What are you doing?
Tata: Contemplating answering a pile of condolence cards.
Mom: You should do that. You don’t want that hanging over your head.
Tata: Did you just…did you just advise me to do something in a timely manner?
Mom: Could be.
Tata: Impostor! Put my real mother on the phone!

I sliced open the envelopes and read each card. My co-workers in the giant library system sent individual and department cards, where handfuls of thoughtful people signed at improvised angles. A few friends sent cards but most of my local friends had moved couches and stocked my refrigerator and collected my mail, so a card would been a bit much. I owe so many people for helping me concentrate on what I had to do in Virginia, and for kind words, and now, people who barely know me rush up to squeeze me and coo. My impulse is to punch them. Instead, I thank them absently and hide under my desk.

With all my staring into space and complaining, writing responses took all afternoon and some of the evening. Then I wrote condolence cards for four people I knew who’d lost a husband, a child and a father in the last month. I felt as if the fine powder Dad’s death ground me to had been tossed into the wind and disappeared. This morning, I put stamps on the envelopes and mailed them.

Somehow this is certain to bring May flowers.

Radiate Everything You Are

Thing Two.

It’s raining. The northeast is in the grip of a nor’easter. Siobhan and I intended to go schmatta shopping but postponed. The kittens are sleeping. I’m thinking of dressing up reasonably rainproof and going out for a hike in the wilds of wet suburbia. Or maybe not: Jacques Pepin is on at 2, and it’s always possible I might learn something.

No, really. It could happen.

Playing on Daddy’s cookbooks. Yes, I put away the cookbooks and gave them the box.

Darla is very excited about new cats. In my family, they constitute “grandkitties.” This afternoon:

Darla: Did they tell you their names yet?
Tata: Not yet. It’s tempting to go ahead and name them in relation to one another but they’re so different it’d be a mistake.
Darla: You might do that anyway. Like what?
Tata: Harriet and Sojourner. Krystal and Alexis. Joan and Jackie. Lena and Dorothy. Billie and Dinah. I thought for a while we could be Josie and the Pussycats if I could be Val, the smart one. Daria suggested Cirrus and Nimbus.
Darla: They’d have to be white and fluffy!
Tata: I said Igneous and Sedimentary.
Darla: Rock and Hard Place.
Tata: Scylla and Charybdis. Pride and Prejudice.
Darla: But not Sense and Sensibility!
Tata: Heavens, no! They’re much too young for that!

Thing One surveys the landscape.

Darla and I talk often. Yesterday:

Tata: How about Demeter and Hecate?
Darla: Demeter and who?
Tata: Hecate. It’s got a great beat!
Darla: Agggggggh! That’s a terrible pun! When I made puns, your Dad would say, “That’s awful! Leave the room! One more like that and it’s back to Canada with you!”
Tata: I made a joke like that one day and he was annoyed I’d reached for the easy punchline. He said, “It’s time for you to go home now!” I said, “I know the rule, Daddy: Use a pun. Go to jail.”

Being the kitten is exhausting!

Thing One, left, likes to rub her tiny face against mine and put her paws around my neck. She likes to kiss me, but she doesn’t like when Thing Two comes anywhere near me. I have to go to Thing Two and scritch her. This afternoon, between phone calls back and forth regarding the funeral home’s most recent fuck up, I lay on my bed so the cats could climb on me. Thing One lay across my neck, purring sweetly. Thing Two I could hear prowling around the room but couldn’t see until I had occasion to look at the floor near my head. Finally, she lay down at my feet, but by then, I was so pissed at the hillbilly attempt at extortion, I had to get up. Thing Two opened her eyes for a moment when I took the picture, but they’re both sleeping again. This is a relief because it demonstrates the kittens are relaxing into being here, together and with me. I’ll worry less about going to work all day tomorrow and leaving them alone.

No, come to think of it, I’ll worry about them just because I can, and that’s nice.

Everything Is Easy ‘Cause Of You

Do you know why I am so happy I can barely speak in a register audible to the human ear?


They came with doofy Catholic school girl names I can’t stand.

I’m pretty sure they’ll tell me their names.

In the meantime, let’s call this impetuous gal Thing One.

She’s very affectionate. She licked my nose.

Thing One!

She has blue-green eyes. It doesn’t look that way, but I’m not much of a photographer.

It took her mere moments to warm up to me, if by “moments” I mean about an hour.

At the time of this picture, the kittens were walking all over my apartments, in every direction, looking at everything.

Black kittens on a brothel-red couch: ooh la la!

This is Thing One, deciding I might be okay to play with. Maybe.

Note the papers for the vet. Both kittens are already fixed.

Thing One bears a striking resemblance to Larry, the Little Black Cat Once Bent On Stealing Your Soul.

Meet Thing Two.

Her eyes really are that amazing, intense orange color.

I introduced her to all she could see outside the bedroom and living room windows.

She took a little longer to warm up to new kitten toys, the new apartment and the new human.

Their personalities are quite different.

Thing Two!

It’s a beautiful day and the squirrels nibble, bound and chase one another.

Thing Two, I was warned, would scarf down all wet food I put out for both pussycats.

She doesn’t like to be picked up.

While lovely Thing Two monitored the local fauna –

– equally lovely Thing One subdued me.

These girls are tall and lanky. They weigh so little I hardly know what to make of them.

When she walked all over me, I hardly felt it. When she decided to lie on my head, I couldn’t object.

Couldn’t breathe much, either. Didn’t mind.

As I write this, a kitten is falling asleep on my lap.

As for the superstitious SHHHHHH! of yesterday, an explanation: whenever I tell people what my favorite show is, that show gets canceled. It’s funny, right? Yeah, sure. It’s funny. While I was in Virginia, I discussed my favorite show with Darla’s parents. Last weekend, I noticed it wasn’t on the schedule anymore.

I also say that when I talk about things in the works they don’t happen.

I really needed this to happen. And now it has.

Thank you. I am so far beyond happy I had to share.

Up On Love And Silly Rhymes


We’ve got a secret. It’s a big secret. It’s a big, happy secret. Something is supposed to probably happen tomorrow afternoon that maybe means in thirty-six hours I post pictures of two new – SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

So, we will have absolutely NO CAT BLOGGING today. None!

SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I mean it! As a token of my esteem, please view, courtesy of my brother Todd, this delightful video of a charming man singing oven instructions.

Zip it!

Vonnegut! I’m gonna stop payment on the cheque!

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 1922-2007

From A Man Without A Country:

But I had a good uncle, my late Uncle Alex. He was my father’s kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life-insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

via puputonian at Hullabaloo

Down In Sheets Of Linen

As a temporary concession to our archive problem I’ve doubled the page size, which is going to drive reader Bob a little crazy. I’m sorry, Bob! I’ll put everything back when the simple stuff starts making sense again. In the meantime, the here and now is rather odd.

When I returned from Virginia, the driver’s side rear tire on my car was flat. I was confused because the tire that’d disappointed me twice a week before I departed was the passenger’s front. If your eyes are glazing over, imagine Siobhan answering the phone with, “Which is it today?” Yes, it’s a bore. So I inflated the rear tire and it deflated with extreme prejudice. Inflated. Deflated. Inflated. Deflated. After wailing, “Why can’t we all just get along?” I took it to the mechanic, who pronounced it my first flat in ages he understood.

Him: When you take the nail out and plug the hole it works a lot better!
Tata: Yahtzee!

Rational explanations are good for what ails me.

And I Want To Be A Paperback

Poor Impulse Control’s archives since September or October – back in our misspent youth – are hosed and if you can believe it, neither Siobhan nor I noticed. Our lives are so glamorous, we assumed everyone kept copies or at least records of our antics. Heaven knows we’re constantly autographing come-hither documents from go-whither police officers who insist we quit admiring ourselves in the rearview and/or totalling other people’s cars.

How rude!

We’re working on it. In the meantime, I’m gathering up the posts for January, February, March and April so you late arrivals – aren’t you cute as tiny bubbles! – can join our story in progress. It’s a poignant tale of a man, his cancer, four yelping children children, unruly animal companions and pie on every surface. So: a love story, an adventure.

Wish us luck.

Boy, She’s Waiting There For You

Much of what Jesus said boils down to put up or shut up, which is pretty good advice. Actions count in this world. I’m sure of this because when people talk to me now I feel my eyes slide off their faces and into space. I can’t do anything but freeze and hope I look like I’m still there, but Christ, I’m nervous whenever someone draws a fucking breath to talk. Naturally, then, I went out to dinner last night with my erstwhile drinking buddies for Sharkey’s birthday. The woman across the table didn’t let me get away with disappearing for even seconds, which Sharkey knew would be good for me. I felt like that woman was stabbing me in the forehead. We had a great conversation. Today, I’m ready to start putting me back together like I mean it.

Dad died and gave me homework.

This morning, I made coffee, went out for a good long walk and bought seeds to try growing basil, lettuce and cilantro in small kitchen-size pots. Last year, the kitchen herb garden failed when not a speck of sunlight hit the plants, but I am Italian. If we find a pile of dust in our kitchens we plant basil. I need basil plants in my kitchen. I need them! I’ve put up a grow light and hope the DEA realizes fresh herbs are actually good for you.

The books fall into three general categories: bread, herbs and spices and Jacques Pepin. I am interested in or frustrated by these topics – or both. I called Dad quite often to discuss something as simple as why a recipe might call for an ingredient, and could I substitute another? Sometimes, Dad would say, “Sure, and don’t stop there.” Sometimes, Dad would say, “Do that, and you will die before dessert.” Cooking may be frought with peril, but as you can see from the breadmaking gadgets pictured, Dad’s legacy to me is not one of objects but of curiosity. Of the item on the right he said, “It’s your job to learn what it is and how to use it.” In essence, he left each of his children keys to different kingdoms, connected and changing, and very much alive.

This is the clay pot he wanted to talk about the day I roasted the chicken. He was too weak to explain to me the use of this vessel, so Daria wrapped it up for me with the proviso that I learn how to cook with it. The challenge appealed to me, since I had no information as to the pot’s pedigree. The instructions say there’s no need to add fat for cooking. Hmm. The instructions also say to soak the pot for ten or fifteen minutes before use.

Damn right, I brined.

This is a cornish game hen bathed overnight in the fridge in Dad’s basic brine formula plus Italian seasoning, pepperoncini and cracked black pepper. Consider brining insurance against dry fowl when using a new cooking method. Anyway, while this looks grim and like the Ground Zero of a cross-contamination holocaust, it’s actually fantastic and you should try it. Refrigeration and enthusiastic use of disinfectant on hands, surfaces and tools will save your life. If you choose not to disinfect, please call me so I can laugh at you.

Location, location, location.

It turned out beautifully. The flavor was exciting, the meat really moist, the skin crisp. The potatoes had steamed and roasted. The bed of onion and carrot turned into a nice jus. This experiment was a complete success. Figuring out how to share my findings with the LongItalianLastName Food Science Committee may be beyond me. The thing is just too small. That hen’s stuffed in there nicely but a full size chicken? I’m not so sure. I’ll have to try that next.

The instructions also say this clay pot can be used to bake bread, which I’ll try next weekend. The clay is supposed to create an excellent crust. It’s an interesting possibility.

In the meantime, I polished my toenails, fixed my manicure and Naired my mustache. I’m considering taking a glass of wine and Shirley Corriher’s Cookwise and spending an hour in the bathtub after the Mythbusters quit blowing up stuff. After a month of no TV, it’s a joy to watch a good, vigorous explosion. Today is Miss Sasha’s birthday and Easter. Plan your own resurrection accordingly.