Friday Cat Blogging: Is the Loneliest Edition


Madame is often underfoot, scolding me for some minor transgression. She chastises me for the condition of the apartment by finding woodscrews and batting them noisily across the floors. She pouts when I wash dishes if she cannot sit on the counter to observe. She refuses to ruffle her kitteny dignity by asking to be scritched; she will however accept modest caresses if we happen to be alone in the kitchen, and the other cat’s otherwise occupied. Maybe.

Pete and I were in Sears when I heard the siren song of red shoes. I picked out a pair, fully expecting to suck it up and pay full price. If you look at the box, there’s a sticker on it I did not see. The red shoes were reduced from $39 to about $15, and there was an additional 50% off. When the cashier said, “That’s $7.49,” I thought I heard wrong, but no! $7.49 for a pair of red Land’s End suede shoes! I called Daria and the next day, we went and bought her a pair. Then Daria went back and bought the babysitter a pair, and Mom, and Daria’s best friend. I told my co-workers. One went yesterday and bought four pair. Last night, I informed Anya and Corinne that there were $7.49 red suede shoes. Note the tiny paw of the happy kitten as she sits in the tiny charming shoe box.

Topaz rejoices!

Do With Those Stars In Your Eyes

Part I.
Part II.
Part III.

Part IV.
When you’re working as fast as you can at something you haven’t done before you have little time for reflection. You skeedaddle in the moment and ponder later. Then again, sometimes you scamper and consider and hope your feet don’t get tangled in a low-hanging thought, like driving like Jehu across four states and realizing you have to get up after 5 for an 8 AM garage sale.

Well, that sucks, huh?

After dinner, there was still organizing to do. Pete and I cleaned up and plunked down at the kitchen table, where we played The Price Is Right with Darla and Daria.

Daria: What do you think of this?
Pete: What is it?
Daria: A matching set of cheesy glass candleholders that weigh a ton.
Tata: $3!
Pete: Two for $5!
Daria: Sold!

The auctioneer peeled off pre-printed price tags and stuck them on things, over and over, until we were too bleary to continue.

Darla: This thing?
Tata: $1.
Darla: Why a dollar?
Tata: Maybe I don’t have to look at it again?
Darla: Good point.

On Friday night, the oddness of putting prices on Dad’s things did not really penetrate my travel exhaustion and white wine fog, which did not facilitate sleep. In my own bed, I’m not a good sleeper. For instance, this morning, I wandered into the kitchen, fed the kittens breakfast, thought about breakfast and fired up the laptop before noticing it was 2 AM. I went back to bed.

Pete: Whatcha doin’?
Tata: Evidently, I felt an overpowering subconscious need to spoon a quarter can of cat food into a bowl twice.

Next thing I knew the alarm blared and it was just after six, so I’m not just a bad sleeper, I make sleep mistakes. Likewise, the night before the garage sale, I tossed and turned. Then, because I’m thorough, I checked my work by tossing and turning again. Finally, around 5, I heard one of Darla’s cats register a complaint from outside, so I went downstairs to let him in. When I came back up the stairs, Daria popped out of her bedroom door, fully wound.

Daria: You’re up! Can I get up now? I can get up now that someone else is up!
Tata: It’s still dark out.
Daria: I’m up! Is it time to get up yet?
Tata: Sure. Why don’t you make us some coffee? Most of us will really need that.

Darla appeared at the other end of the hall like the sitcom wacky neighbor.

Darla: Where’s everyone else? We have to be at Cleo’s in half an hour.
Tata: It’s still dark out.
Daria: Dara’s teenage butt’s still in bed.
Tata: I have to shower before other humans smell me.
Darla: Cleo reminded me that even though I advertised for an 8 AM start, I should expect crazy fuckers before 6.
Tata: Intriguing! I have to tell Pete we expect early bird crazy fuckers.

Minutes later, I discovered that Darla had vigorously cleaned the common bathroom, which would have been newsworthy anytime but was made even more so because I had to wash my entire person with Pantene-knockoff shampoo. I couldn’t wait to tell Daria that Darla had emptied the once-packed bathroom of dozens of personal cleaning products and bathing came with full-body frizz control. Darla went on ahead to Cleo’s house. Pete, Daria, Dara and I followed half an hour later as the sun rose and as we pulled up, crazy fuckers were already standing on Cleo’s lawn.

It was at this instant I realized that ads in the Staunton News Leader, signs on poles and chatter on WSVA, where Dad was on the radio for 20 years, had brought all these people here for a piece of Dad. I had no illusion that he belonged to me or to us and that by keeping these objects I could keep him. Dara’s been a local celebrity since before she was born because Dad was always a public person. He’s gone. Still, I hesitated for just a moment. Then, I grabbed a box and lugged it past those people to a table in the yard.

In Town, The Boys Are Back

Pete’s job is kicking my ass.

Let me explain – though when I say that all I hear in my head is Mandy Patankin saying, all Inigo Montoya-y, “No, zer ees no time!” and Mr. blogenfreude complaining that Mandy Patankin should be strung up by his ragged Capezios – let me explain: my alarm shatters the pre-dawn stillness, possibly a few times depending on who reaches the clock first, mere moments after six on school days. Yes, those are moments I treasure. Most days, I get up and lumber off to fight crime. Or close purchase orders. I forget which. Most days, Pete sleeps in a bit because while he takes care of a house five blocks away, his actual job starts at 2, a twenty-five minute drive away. Thus, on school nights, he calls from that other house at 10:33, promising to bicycle over before 11:15.

I often see part of the Daily Show. Then I see my cats running around the apartment, furiously declaring their love for Pete’s sneakers. Where until recently I had horrible insomnia, now I have a companion for 45 minutes before I absolutely have to try sleeping like I more or less mean it, and I have to tell you, you can spend that much time looking for keys to the handcuffs.

The man needs a new job so I can get some sleep.

It sounds so reasonable until I say it out loud.

Groovin’ Up Slowly

I interrupt this brief interlude to get back to the story.

Part I.
Part II.

I’m taking this out of order now, but what don’t I? At some point during the yard sale, Darla looked around impatiently and said she wished she’d brought a camera so she could record the day. I allowed as how I’d brought a camera and could take pictures. Then I apologized in advance for the crappy pictures I was about to take. So here you see images of people in scenic Staunton, Virginia, doing what people in Staunton, Virginia do on a sunny Saturday: forage through other people’s stuff.

This is one moment in all of history. I took these pictures in rapid succession because the moment itself was important, not the individual foragers and not even us, if you will, though we are not pictured. This is just time passing. This is just objects changing hands. Despite the price tags we put on each item, we sold most for a handful of change because the items themselves had become a burden on us and especially on Darla. The idea was to put these things into the hands of people who needed or wanted them, to put stuff back into circulation, without reservation. We did not turn down offers. People went away with some very nice things, and good for them. Good for us.

The important facts: a sunny day at the house of a friend, Dad’s things in boxes and on tables, two of my sisters, both of my stepmothers, Pete, me and for one moment, you.

We arranged table after table, box after box, palate after palate of Dad’s clothes, books, handtools and kitchen gadgets. We put out bookcases, lamps and recliners. We put out contraptions we could only explain because Darla is a genius. People took about half of everything.

We repacked everything that was left, hauled it back to Darla’s house and dragged it to the sun porch. By 5:30 PM, we could barely lift our arms to pack everything left over into our cars and trucks. Darla intends to pay her bills for the next month in quarters.

The Story, It’s A Little Thing

Belated cat blogging, if you will. Left to right: Pete’s feet, Drusy and Topaz.

Yesterday, we all took a nap together. I’ve had a rough week with pain and by Friday morning, I couldn’t face another agonizing day at my desk so I called out and spent most of the day supine and perturbed. Pete, smarter than your average bear, took off early to run errands and came back exhausted. When all four of us lay down to nap, I couldn’t say who snored first. It was all paws in the air for a while, then I limped of to the living room for the camera. The big surprise is that Drusy didn’t follow me, as she always does.

Monday morning, the bedroom closet pushed open and out padded tiny Topaz with an ancestral ball of yarn in her teeth. She made eye contact for a moment and ran off. Later, my apartment looked like a giant blue polyester spider web. Even when the kittens catnapped, my attempts to roll up the yarn and put it away met with playful resistance. Plus, if I did get the yarn back in the closet, Topaz would just steal it back. I couldn’t be annoyed because the knotty designs around and under the furniture across three rooms were so, so cool.

Last week, I took two fantastic yoga classes. This week, I’m hoping to take three.

To Gather Stones Together

Sometimes, one locks the door and the truth smashes a window to break in. Minstrel Boy:

I’m dragging myself through the morning today. Muttering to myself. Slouching and bitching through the chores. In three short hours I will be playing yet another funeral for a fine young man who has fallen due to the misguided policy and schemes of George W. Bush and also because of the craven cowardice or callous cynicism of the Congress that refuses to do their duty and stop this shit.

I’m doing this because it fucking hurts. That’s right. I’ll say it again, I’m doing this BECAUSE it hurts.

It hurts to see that another young person has been brutally killed. It hurts to see the faces of the surviving family. It hurts to stand with honor guard and play sad songs on the harp and pipes. It hurts even more when it is the child of a neighbor, it hurts even more when it was a kid that I knew.

Want to know something else? It hurts even more when I’m going to or leaving something like that and realize that most of this country doesn’t even know, or much care, how bad it hurts.

Damn it. Just – damn it.

Here’s my challenge to you. Find a way to make this personal. Do like Jersey Cynic and Liz did over at BlondeSense did. They got out in the street to protest. They even got Jim Yeager of Mockingbird’s Medley to join them. You know Jim. He used to blog as Mimus Pauly, now he’s just doing it under his name.

Make it personal. Find a way to make this shit mean something deep inside you. Make it hurt. Then Do. It. Some. More. Feel the pain, feel the sadness when a 20 year old kid gets rolled over in a truck wreck. Then go to the next one. And the one after that. And the one after that.

Keep. It. Personal. Do that and you might find a way to ensure that this madness stops. Drag people along with you so that they know how much it hurts.

My cousin and his partner are coming to the funeral with me today.

That’s two more people.

Maybe we won’t stop this war. It has the distinct potential of stopping itself. The military can simply break down and cease to function like it did with Alexander. Of course, it just might get worse. Still.

I’m keeping it personal. I’m going to walk through the hurt, the grief, the pain and do what I can to make something, some fucking where a little better.

That’s what I’m doing.

How about you?

Frankly, I don’t know if I have the strength to do as MB asks, but he is right and I have to try.

How about you?

Crossposted at Brilliant@Breakfast.

Take These Broken Wings

I could just puke. How can anyone vote against habeas corpus?

Alphabetical by Senator Name
Akaka (D-HI), Yea
Alexander (R-TN), Nay
Allard (R-CO), Nay
Barrasso (R-WY), Nay
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Bennett (R-UT), Nay
Biden (D-DE), Yea
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Bond (R-MO), Nay
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brown (D-OH), Yea
Brownback (R-KS), Nay
Bunning (R-KY), Nay
Burr (R-NC), Nay
Byrd (D-WV), Yea
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Cardin (D-MD), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Chambliss (R-GA), Not Voting
Clinton (D-NY), Yea
Coburn (R-OK), Nay
Cochran (R-MS), Nay
Coleman (R-MN), Nay
Collins (R-ME), Nay
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Corker (R-TN), Nay
Cornyn (R-TX), Nay
Craig (R-ID), Nay
Crapo (R-ID), Nay
DeMint (R-SC), Nay
Dodd (D-CT), Yea
Dole (R-NC), Nay
Domenici (R-NM), Nay
Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Ensign (R-NV), Nay
Enzi (R-WY), Nay
Feingold (D-WI), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Nay
Grassley (R-IA), Nay
Gregg (R-NH), Nay
Hagel (R-NE), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Yea
Hatch (R-UT), Nay
Hutchison (R-TX), Nay
Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Isakson (R-GA), Nay
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kennedy (D-MA), Yea
Kerry (D-MA), Yea
Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Kyl (R-AZ), Nay
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Yea
Levin (D-MI), Yea
Lieberman (ID-CT), Nay
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Lott (R-MS), Nay
Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Martinez (R-FL), Nay
McCain (R-AZ), Nay
McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Nay
Menendez (D-NJ), Yea
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Nay
Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Roberts (R-KS), Nay
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Sanders (I-VT), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Smith (R-OR), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Stevens (R-AK), Nay
Sununu (R-NH), Yea
Tester (D-MT), Yea
Thune (R-SD), Nay
Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Voinovich (R-OH), Nay
Warner (R-VA), Nay
Webb (D-VA), Yea
Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
Wyden (D-OR), Yea

Despite what you may hear, the issue is simply not that complicated. There is no excuse for cowardice, and no day will dawn when this will become a glorious moment. There is only infamy here, and shame.

Walking Where the Wildlife Goes

Part I

You can get so tangled up in the events of your life that you forget the rest of the world entirely. Tomorrow is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Last week, I wrote a blog post in which my verbs were all over like snot on a toddler, and I see now I neglected to mention that the video came from Petulant via Melissa McEwan. This is not at all like me. I credit the pavement as I walk down the street, so who knows what was going on in my brain before we went to Virginia – all we know is what I am thinking when we arrive.

Tata: Pete, will you please do something tasty to these pork chops so I can eat them?

Time as you know it does not exist in the Casa Con Cows. During the month Dad was dying, we developed a syncopated rhythm, yes, but a steady beat – nope. Our days worked something like this:

1. Get up too early. Make tea and coffee. Crank up the laptop. Peek to see if Dad’s awake, possibly sit and talk with Dad. Empty garbage. Address needs of the cat herd. Eat fantastic leftovers.
2. Answer email. Work on laundry and the family store’s website while other members of the household work on Dad’s papers, errands or shopping. We grocery shop almost every day.
3. In the afternoon, we consider dinner.
4. It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where dinner is?

It doesn’t sound busy but Daria, Darla and I were lucky to get showers every other day. To combat this, we started thinking about dinner around 10 a.m., but that was then and this is now, and I want to eat the yummy pork chops before breakfast. We know from experience we fall right back into this whirling vortex the moment we hit the driveway but hope our esteemed colleague has some fight in him.

Daria: Take the panko and go on without me!
Pete: Um…got eggs?
Tata: I’m standing next to the fridge. If only I could reach…
Pete: Flour?

Daria walks around the corner to the pantry and returns with a pail of flour that reaches halfway up her thigh. She smiles knowingly.

Pete: Oil?

Daria holds one finger up in the air and disappears back into the pantry. She returns lugging a bottle the size of a gas can. Since we can’t lift the thing and most of us grew up during the gas crisis of the seventies, siphoning is no problem and the taste is more appetizing than Exxon Regular. The mass of spaghetti, mysteriously still growing in a back burner pot, is a handy canvas for the fresh sauce Daria concocts from the neighbors’ tomatoes. Pete breads and fries the pork chops. We make plates for ourselves and sit, but some habits are hard to break.

Darla: Oh, minions?
Dara: Can I get you another pork chop?
Daria: Do you need salad?
Tata: I’ll get you another glass of wine.
Darla: I was going to say it’s good to have you back but the servitude is nice, too.