When One Day She Said To Me

Someone small literally ate his way across my garden, after which I'm sure he was quite full.

Last night, Pete discovered wet carpet in our bedroom, puzzling because he could determine no source of moisture. We cleaned it up and scratched our heads. At 7 this morning, we heard a ruckus and found Sweetpea horking up a storm. I cleaned it up and frowned a bit. This afternoon, we returned home to find Sweetpea cooling off under the sideboard. I was talking to Mom when I heard the unmistakable sounds of impending cat yakkitude, but I turned around and found a disturbingly large puddle of existing yak. “Mom,” I said slowly, “I gotta go.” As I cleaned it up, I discovered the goo was clear and bright yellow. I got out the book I turn to first: The Natural Cat. I read every description of puke and called the vet. He did not seem alarmed and asked me to give her 1/2 teaspoon Pepto Bismal.

Sweetpea wore at least as much pink bismuth as she swallowed, but then she and I sunned ourselves on the porch and she let me brush her smooth. Later, she quit hiding and curled up on our bed. That cheered us up a little, though we could see Sweetpea felt like crap and wouldn’t drink water. We never saw her pad upstairs to the litter box either. An hour ago, we gave her water flavored with the cat gravy Georg recommended keeping on hand for kitty emergencies. I wore as much watery gravy as Sweetpea drank, but she’s lounging on a window sill now. We’ll give her some more water before we go to bed and hope for a quiet night. I’m trying to stay calm and think clearly. In her role as Narrator, Topaz keeps trying to tell me something.

And Crazy For Loving You

Yesterday’s Star-Ledger, which apparently does not screen for crazy, contained this letter to the editor that made my brain feel like it was full of soda.

More divining

So the world didn’t end on Saturday. As a card-carrying member of American Mensa, allow me to try again.

If you assign a number to each letter of the names Barack and Obama, such that A equals 1 and B equals 2, etc., Barack sums to 36 and Obama sums to 32. These two numbers share something in common; they are both even submultiples of the number 576. For example, the Obama number, 32, will sum to 576 in exactly 18 steps. If we now introduce Obama’s “essence number,” which is 5, the number numerologists have identified as the number of “change,” and multiply Barack’s 18 steps by the number 5, we get the number 90. If we then add this 90 to the single number that links his first and last names, the number 576, then we get 666.

So there it is. Barack Obama is the Antichrist and America is headed straight for hell.

– Thomas Clough, Maplewood

Yes, I transcribed that. No, I didn’t change – numerologists say 5! – even a single comma. The only important newspaper in New Jersey printed that as you see it. I couldn’t find a link or I’d absolutely demand you go have a look. Absolutely. It’s the kind of thing you should see for yourself and slap me if I’m lying.

Speaking of crazy, which I can because I play for Team Crazy, have a look at this picture from General Hospital.

This is even dumber than it looks.

Here we have actress Brianna Brown standing in front of a locked door in a scene where the actress on the other side of this door is acting out pretending to be locked in this basement – and not because I’ve phrased that incorrectly and union regs prevents anyone from actually being locked in anything. No, the other character in this scene knows she’s about to be rescued by the character who plays her husband. That makes six people – three of them actors and three figments of our imagination – who haven’t noticed what I notice every time I see someone locked into something on a soap opera. Look at this picture again. Know what you don’t see? Hinges. That’s right. The hinges are on the side where the tiny, helpless woman being held captive is. That means the door isn’t actually locked in a way that would prevent her escape. It is rather securely fastened on a temporary basis, especially since it’s a basement door and a basement is where most people would keep tools.

The crazy part is you’re not supposed to know that because you’re a woman, you soap opera viewer you.

We’ll Dress Like Minnie Pearl

To my abiding shame, I’ve found Saturday Night Live funny recently, so long as I was looking at one Lindsey Buckingham at a time.


I think we can agree: two Lindseys are too much of a good thing. Or a thing. Or if I have to watch this bit again, I’m taking a hostage. After this weekend’s SNL, Pete and I dragged our aging carcasses up to our glaaaaaaamous boudoir, where the sound of the next door neighbor kids’ party was inescapable. Personally, I don’t care and considered taking pictures I could later use for lucrative blackmail purposes but our housemate/tenant drags his more youthful carcass to work at 5 on Sunday mornings. Yes, you read that right. Even the birdies are like, “Dude, no way, I had a hot night with a sweet Minah” and roll over in the nest when he leaves for work. So just after 1:30, I rolled out of bed, which was vibrating for the wrong reasons, and marched next door, where I announced that they’d be taking the party inside the house – and they DID.

Two more miracles and I’m set for eternity.

Fourteen hours later, Pete and I return from our weekly golf clapping at the health food store where the produce is so beautiful it looks like Vermeer painted it during one of those periods when he didn’t doubt his own existence, and found a car parked with its bumper blocking our driveway. Pete started swearing.

Pete: Rassin frassin pix atuny hibbity bapf!
Tata: Do you know whose car that is?
Pete: It’s the rassin frassin kids’ next door.

Still swearing, Pete got out of the car, walked to the end of the driveway, looked at the bumper and marched across the lawn.

Pete: Pakka bibblix quobboparep bu bu bu flibbit!

I gathered grocery bags, let myself into the house and from the living room, heard him standing on the neighbor’s porch, swearing.

Pete: Kekka woo bob wrokkup pibbiloque!

I threw the bags on the floor and realized the reason I couldn’t breathe was that I was laughing hysterically. Pete threw open the front door, found me draped over the kitchen island, gasping for air. Still swearing, he stomped up the stairs, where I could hear him marching from room to room, swearing.

Pete: Dappa vitchiy gik pooder mos libberdiffy poodicles!

My knees buckled. He stomped down the stairs again to the spot on the floor where I lay, howling.

Pete: Whatcha doin’, sweetie?

I finally took a breath.

Tata: Nothing!

And howled for another ten minutes.

And Your Blood Will Sing

Topaz and Drusy approve our yarn purchase. We have enough for at least a month's blankets.

The weather finally turned today and I bicycled to work again. It’s been nearly two weeks of wild rainstorms, showers, dry lightning and mud everywhere. The garden is practically singing. In related news, I found a supplier of locally grown rhubarb and tomorrow I’m going to dehydrate a bunch. This might not seem all that exciting, but I feel inspired, damn it! I don’t know about your evening plans but I’ve got grapes tonight that I hope will be raisins tomorrow. Cha cha cha! School’s in and I’m at the head of my class.

Every Mistake We Must Surely Be

Win some, lose some, make pesto of some.

After more than a week of rain every day the garden looks lush and every plant grew tremendously. Even so: some seeds did not sprout at all; some beets have finally germinated. As I was weeding, I discovered two entire carrots had in fact sprouted so I spent the afternoon attempting to get over a grudge against them. The peas have become giant busybodies that can’t keep their fronds off their neighbors and the parsley’s showboating inspired a very delicious and refreshing salad. I cannot tell a lie: I trimmed that leaf lettuce to its stem for the second time and hope it doesn’t come back. It sounds crass to say the spinach and I have a date for six weeks after the lettuce bites the dust.

Radish jungle at the dining room window, a favorite of resident lovely cats.

Today, I planted two window boxes with two varieties of carrots in soil liberally laced with compost and vermiculite. Vermiculite is supposed to prevent soil compaction, so I’m optimistic the carrots will do better in a dedicated container. It’s working for these wise guys, right? Ever seen such smug radishes?

You Go For So Long

Pink food makes me feel squinty.

It’s rained every day for over a week and though the temperature’s rising, so’s the mud. Yes, it’s Mud Season in Central New Jersey. Don your hip waders, Poor Impulsives! I’d hate for you to ruin your blue suede shoes.

That’s strawberry-rhubarb pie filling. Working up your own recipes for jarring is supposed to be very bad juju, fraught with perilous peril, unless you’ve been jarring since before you could tie your own apron strings. Thing is: sometimes you can go from book to book to book and find recipes filled with crap you’re not interested in eating; such was the case with rhubarb pie filling. I was not at all interested in including thickeners other than sugars, since I couldn’t find anyone making a case that the additional ingredients affected the pH and I would prefer my jarred pie fillings not congeal in the jar. Dude: it’s hard to get gelatin out of a quart jar and I develop needless hostility for delicious fruit. No, I want to open a jar of fruit like peaches, toss that into a pie crust, open a jar of pie filling and pour that on top without a fight or unnerving SLOOSHing sounds. Then I want to roll out a top crust, crimp that bad boy and bake it until it sings to me because, dagnabbit, in January, pink pie might save your life. Back to my point: I found recipes for rhubarb preserves and strawberry preserves, both of which included only fruit and sugar, that’s it. So I macerated the strawberries, macerated the rhubarb, cooked them a little, put a tablespoon of lemon juice in each jar, and poured in gently simmered fruit. The jars processed for half an hour, which seemed sensible. The flip side of working up a recipe is that I have to be prepared to accept it if I’ve fucked up. So okay: if I open a jar and the pink pie filling’s turned a startling fuzzy blue I have no one to blame but myself. If it’s tasty, though, I shall be impossible to live with.

Belong To Me And Ease My Mind

What's in your Gustav Klimt yarn bag? Mine is nearly empty.

Kind of weird, but I’m nearly out of yarn. I’d say I have about one more blanket’s worth of yarn after the blanket I’m working on. It’s an exciting turning point in the project. Pete’s all atwitter because I’ll finally have a chance to sort out and move out the last of my friend’s friend’s late mother’s odd possessions, which have been gathering dust in a clean corner of the basement. Further: I’m really looking forward to cleaning and reorganizing the pantry shelves. Last weekend, I emptied some messy cabinets in the kitchen and threw out everything I couldn’t re-use. I’m preparing to work every weekend on jarring and canning and to learn as much as I can. There’s room for fun in all this churning and driving: Pete’s going to put up sorbets every weekend. On a sweltering afternoon, a scoop of crisp, homemade fruit sorbet in a glass of seltzer can be positively dreamy.

Who Just Crumbles And Burns

Topaz is curled up in my lap. She and Drusy came to live with me a little over four years ago now. It’s been about sixteen months since prickly Topaz threw caution to the wind and climbed into my lap to cuddle. After awhile, it’s time to get over what was, what we did, who we might have been. If Topaz can, I can, too. Today, I looked up the video for Fake Plastic Trees, which I’ve never seen.

For fifteen years, the memory of this and and depression were enough to turn me inside, but not today. I waited for a feeling of familiar devastation that didn’t come. Waited. Waited. Nothing! Then I felt stupid for expecting to feel small and broken.

Well, whaddya know: I might be over it. Whaddoo I do now? If I am free, this is a new life.

A Forest Than A Street

Drusy is so adorable your heart could stop.

About a week ago, our kitchen fridge started making a heeeeee haaaa heeeeee noise, not unlike Felix Ungar’s hinky sinuses. Pete whacked it a few times and unplugged it. We moved everything into the now-packed spare fridge in the basement, so it wasn’t a crisis, but running down and up the stairs was hard for me. Pete’s dad owns the house, but he was visiting relatives on the other side of the country and not fridge-shopping. Even though we had stuff to do, lives to lead and influence to peddle, we put those nefarious deeds mostly on hold and spent our evenings hunting for a deal. A treasure hunt through appliance stores can be exciting if you’re into it, but staring at ice machines makes for shitty blogging. Last Friday, Pete and his dad bought a fridge. It was delivered today and is cooling off now. In a bit, I’ll start moving things from the basement to the kitchen. As problems go, this one was small and annoying, but time-consuming and attention-hogging. Putting it behind us will be a pleasure.

The cats freaked with people in the house. Their fur stood on end and they went Full Kitty Invisible for a couple of hours. I later found Sweetpea in a spot behind the couch where I’d looked for cats and did not find them, but Topaz and Drusy’s hiding spots remain mysterious. As I write, Topaz crouches on the dining room table, blinking slowly at me. The noise and the hubbub were too much for them, which makes them cuddly and suspicious now. Sweetpea snores softly on the couch and Drusy crunch-crunch-crunches kibble in the new quiet of the kitchen.