Monday, December 22, 2008

again already

I don't know when this blog became a tool for tracking how often Ratty Catty would decide to pee in inappropriate locations, but apparently this is the only thing that inspires me to click "New Post." So today the bed was his victim, again. I think I minimized the damage by catching him mid stream. I only had to remove two covers to contain the spillage. Of course it was a mighty chilly morning with rain and such outside, and these were two damn fine covers which I missed dearly, but whatever. Actually, come to think of it, the whole bed still feels contaminated by association, but I have just been so fricking house lazy I can't even begin to think about doing all that much laundry. Maybe if I had bought a stackable washer and dryer when the landlady put in the mini laundry room upstairs, maybe then I'd do recreational loads. But for now, all laundry, peed on or otherwise, must be paraded down the outside stairs and brought into the original laundry room.

Ugh.

And then he just went about his morning like everything was fine and perfectly normal. He even let me pick him up right after. So I put him in the newly-reintroduced litter box. He seemed perplexed. I've got to remember to add dirt, as I know he likes to pee on dirt. My brother suggested I put some sheets in there, maybe a Barbie and some pillows. Very funny. Ha ha. At least yesterday I got myself a bit of belly when Ratty was feeling especially safe (hanging with the Monkey). It didn't last long, and, come to think of it, maybe this is why I had pee in my bed today, but, well, I couldn't help myself.

Sometimes I wonder, "Just when did I become the crazy cat lady?" And then I remember, it was May 3rd, when I chopped Ratty's nuts off and officially made him part of the family.

Whatever.

Mostly, being the crazy cat lady I am, I am not even upset about the most recent insult to the sanctity of my sleep. Today I am upset because I am impatient and all spun up about some possible big law school news on the horizon. I am so spun up, in fact, about this bird in the bush, that my Berkeley in the hand has begun to feel like a consolation prize. And the big purple envelope in the mail from NYU - this should have been exciting, too, and instead I set it aside to continue to watch the phone not ringing for me.

The trouble is, I had convinced myself I wasn't going to hear back from the Law School in the Bush until January. At the soonest. If they decide they don't like me I won't know until April. But they have been flirting. And thus, I figure it's a month tops before they declare their love for me. So I had managed my expectations and disappointment Friday afternoon, when I figured the admissions office went on vacation like the rest of the school. That all went out the window today when my invisible friends on the internet started crowing about their acceptance phone calls. Then I got all excited anew.

And then the phone rang. But it was just my brother. Calling with the helpful Barbie bedding advice.

Now I am left to wonder, are the fine folks at Law School in the Bush working tomorrow as well? Even if they are, I suspect I will not get my call because surely they are in cahoots with the universe and the universe is clearly trying to teach me patience. Why else would I always choose the wrong check out line? Why else would I always miss on dock rescues if I don't wait for my team to arrive? Why else would I be so fricking fat from falling for immediate gratification practically every single time? Patience, fat grasshopper, patience.

And with that I am off to the gym to sweat away this angst. I have just enough time to get my cardio in. It will burn off about the same amount of calories I plan to drink tonight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

perspective

This morning I woke up to find all three cat fishes snuggling me in my bed. Monkey and OC were sharing Erik's side. Ratty was purring at my feet. Immediately I thought, "Crap. I really don't want to do all that laundry again." But I figured he hadn't peed on me yet, at least, cuz he usually pees and bails (unlike his buddy Monkey who seems to prefer to sleep in the smell of his own urine...). So I tempted the fates and made a move to pet him.

I pet and he purred for, I kid you not, twenty full minutes. It was magical. It annoyed OC, who was receiving leftover distracted pets from my spare hand. It displaced Monkey, who was edged out by an obsessively affectionate Ratty. And then it all ended when I moved in for the belly rub. I was reminded (by a scratch and a bite) that stray cat belly is still off limits. This was fine with me as it was really time to bring a close to all this madness before something got peed on.

Well, as it turns out, something was already peed on. My kitchen floor. My foot found the puddle on the way to the recycle bin. Thanks, foot. I'm not complaining, though, cuz I will take floor over bed any time. Much easier to clean and besides, I was due a morning shower anyway.

So yes, I am writing to report that I am pleased with my cat's inappropriate urination. More proof that I truly am the crazy cat lady.

Friday, December 12, 2008

gross

So, I know I should have something to say for myself. Six weeks without posting, though, and most likely there's no one reading any more anyway. I do have an excuse, sort of. Essentially I've been holding my cyber breath as I wait for news back from law schools. Maybe I'm trying not to jinx anything. Maybe I'm just consumed by the cycle and unable to find something newsworthy in my daily life. Maybe I was just looking for a reason to take a break, as I have been a particularly lazy and uninspired blogger this year.

Whatever the case, I've been able to exhale considerably since being accepted to Berkeley Law this week. Yup. I don't have to live in the snow unless I really really want to. Life is good.

But what's so gross, you ask?

Well, remember that Tootsie Roll commercial with the little boy and the owl? The one where the boy asks, "How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?" Substitute the word "weeks" for "licks" and "Ratty Catty" for "to the Tootsie Roll center" and "to pee on your bed" for "of a Tootsie Pop" and you have the same answer the owl gave. One, two, three.

Yeah, I may be smart enough to study at Boalt Hall, but I am not smarter than a stray cat. He's been enjoying the run of the house since Thanksgiving and every night has been a gamble. The sad part is he's only been brave enough to get on the bed in the past few days. So really, you might say it takes only three days for him to pee on your bed, or my bed as you will, but it takes him three weeks to get up the courage. Ugh. I wonder if this means we'll be on lock down again? If so, the other kitties will not be pleased. The open door policy has been popular with them.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to convince the kitties that the attic and the laundry room are the coolest places to hang out. Unfortunately they are rather popular locations in the local rodent circles. Erik doesn't believe me, but twice in the past week I have woken up to hear the scritch scratching of little feet in the ceiling above my head. OC heard them too, so I know I am not crazy, but he doesn't make the best witness. At least my hubby has to believe me about the mice in the laundry room. Their droppings are proof positive. Anyway, I am too embarrassed to ask my landlady, who knows I have three cats, to hire a rodent exterminator. And, though I know they end up dead either way, I'd much rather have the mice die at the hands of my felines than in a snap trap. And I'm sure as hell not going to stick them to glue traps and drown them in a bucket. Thanks, Mom, for that indelible image in my brain. Mostly I am hoping that the mere presence of cats will suggest they should move on as the mice have seemed smart enough to avoid our actual living space. Lord knows there's been enough cat pee around to broadcast the dangers to any semi-intelligent rodent.

Which brings me to the silver lining in this morning's rude wake up call. While the bed sits and waits its turn (as it's inevitably a three load process), the stench of it will be suggesting to the laundry room mice that they should maybe think about clearing out. Either that or it will just give them a good chuckle, as even mice are smart enough not to pee where they sleep.

Well, I guess I'd better get started. Last time Ratty Catty peed on the bed Erik was talking feral cat colony. I know he won't believe that I changed the sheets at 5 am just to be sweet, but at least he'll have a clean place to fall asleep and dream of the life he could've had if he hadn't married the crazy cat lady.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

i'm not not doing this

Wow. Three weeks since I last posted. That may be a record. As usual, it's not for lack of adventure or access that I have been so distant. It may be from lack of inspiration. But mostly, I think, it's from sheer laziness.

So when I realized it was indeed November already, the official "Mo" of NaBloPoMo, I thought, "Hell no." It's not like I've ever successfully completed a NaBloPoMo challenge. And each of my (failed) efforts to post daily has been followed by another month of near nothingness, so does it really benefit you, my imaginary readers? Not likely.

And yet. Here I am. Minutes before the close of the first day, posting for the sake of posting.

Though tonight's post distinctly has no direction or theme, I have realized that I could get some mileage just by catching up on my seal stories. I don't think I've told one since July. If I separate my patients (which I'll likely have to research now, it's been so long), I could fill about half the month. Plus business has been heating up lately (uncharacteristically late in the season), and I even have some cutie-pie fur seals to tell you about. Mostly, though, it was a bleak summer filled with sloppy seconds and doomed patients. Perhaps a source of some of my stagnation? Anyway, the only reason I'm awake now is that I just got back from administering pain meds (in the rain) to a would-be shark snack, woefully named AshRebel. His wounds don't look all that grim, though, so I can't figure out why he's so miserable. But mine is not to wonder why. Mine is to avoid getting bitten.

Then, of course, there is my gripping obsession with my law school application cycle. Having no control over my destiny is virtually killing me. I do have one potential hurdle left, one last interview that I hope to be granted, and so I focus on willing it into existence. Each Friday I wake up and check my empty email inbox for a love letter from Toby Stock, Assistant Dean for Admissions at Harvard Law School. I didn't expect to get any sugar from Harvard this early in the process (if ever), but it seems that the folks who are getting the calls have numbers very similar to my own. But, really, I realize that waiting hardly makes for rivoting reading.

Oh, but I do have one victory under my belt. My first acceptance came from good old Georgetown. Granted, I nearly didn't apply to Georgetown (since my dad went to Villanova and they are basketball rivals), and, sure, we all know it's one of my safety schools, but the invitation to enroll sure did warm my heart. It even came with a handwritten note saying that my personal statement was "beautifully written." So, see, I can write beautifully - just not for you.

Sorry about that.

So we'll see. Maybe I can at least write often. No promises, though. I think it is the commitment that kills me.

For now I am off to bed cuz pain meds only last six hours so I'm back to work at the crack of dawn.

Friday, October 10, 2008

out of my hands

I think I am relieved. All of my law school applications are submitted (having met my artificial deadline with the help of way too much soda, cookies, and pizza, and way too little sleep). Quite a few of my applications have even gone "complete" already (which is apparently important). But best of all, my Northwestern interview is behind me. The interview went well enough, I think, though I totally came across as the crazy seal lady. I just couldn't stop myself.

"Tell me about a challenge you've faced." - Seal story.

"Tell me about a project you've managed." - Seal story.

"What do you with you spare time?" - Seal stories.

"I mean, besides seals?" - More seal stories.

Um, did I completely forget that I ran a print shop and used to be a normal person with a very demanding job? Indeed. And could I have clutched my hands together any more actively? Probly not. It's funny to notice how rusty I am, having not had any sort of interview for years. Whatever. Really, I know I didn't bomb it and I should get in on numbers alone, so I have to let it go.

Letting go is not so easy for a control freak like me. So now I think I'll start helping my brother fill out his applications (since I learned so much about the particular pitfalls of each school during my three day push...) - but first he has to give me his work history and so far he won't even give me the time of day.

Anyway, I've got other things to think about as I am smack dab in the middle of birthday season.

For Erik's birthday we got pillows - which we needed after Ratty Catty peed on our old ones while we were out of town for the Northwestern interview. I know, it was foolish to trust him, but he'd been in two nights before and hadn't peed on anything... and we set up armaments around the bed (empty laundry baskets, piles of blankets)... but really, we should've moved the pillows into protective custody. Whatever. Stinking Ratty Catty. I will say he is doing much better with his lap snuggling (once he even seemed genuinely relaxed) and he also survived his first encounter with pill swallowing (that was not fun, and did involve pee, but the pill stayed in and the tapeworms died - so hooray). Now his biggest issue is OC, who has decided to hate the little Rat Fink. And OC learned how to be a horrible roommate from the best of them... Poor Ratty...

Anyway, for my birthday we are getting steaks. I tried to get out of the Birthday Steaks tradition (many of my seal friends are Libras, so we've been hitting all the hot spots year by year) but there was no talking my way out of it. Erik's birthday buddy (and the gal I call my future self) is looking at getting gastric bypass in a couple months and so this is her last chance to enjoy big yummy chunks of cow flesh. (By the way, I am so not getting gastric bypass in the future... nor will I be a Republican... So I guess she isn't really my future self...) Anyway, besides, it's our last birthday season together since I'm all moving away to law school and such. So, having exhausted all the notable steak places in our county, we are headed south to Ruth's Chris in Santa Barbara. Yum.

If not for the cat pee and the poverty issue, we might even make a romantic overnight out of it. But, really, I wouldn't be able to enjoy it...

Though I will be able to enjoy one final expensive hotel room this month. Next Tuesday I get to stay in San Francisco's Huntington Hotel (on Nob Hill). I was invited (first by my seal group, then by a seal friend) to attend our annual fund raising Gala (to be held at the Ritz-Carlton). I was excited enough to be included (which was mostly just in theory, for if not for my friend, I'd be looking at going alone or paying a discounted amount - still big bucks - to drag Erik along with me) but then I was doubly super excited to find a great rate on the Huntington (half price).

The Huntington is the hotel Erik first took me to after researching the best pools of San Francisco. And the pool there is, indeed, divine. Later we went there to hide out after Fabian died. We haven't been back since. So I warned my friend that I might cry, and that she will have to see way more of my skin than anyone should (since we will so be in that pool and spa every moment that we can), and I cautioned her that we may end up sharing a bed (cuz it seems like every time I share a hotel room I end up sharing a bed - surely because I don't want to), but she's game. And she'll be hooked. I told her we'll want to leave the party to get back to the spa...

And perhaps best of all, I found a perfectly cute, if not slightly cheesy, fancy gold sweater dress to wear to the event - and it was 75% off. I wasn't looking forward to feeling totally under dressed and I didn't really want to spend a fortune on an outfit (having overshopped for interview clothes) - and now my problem is solved.

Life is good.

Oh, and life is also pretty good for my broken-hearted, admittedly rather violent niece. Sounds like her former friend has already dumped her former boyfriend. The friend is now allowed to stand around the group (though no one will talk to her) and the cheating-cheese-smelling-man-boob-having ex remains persona non grata. Except someone has talked to him enough to learn that while in Europe this summer he got himself a tattoo. Um, but it's not a cool tattoo. It's actually a tramp stamp, like for girls. Yeah. Now I actually feel sorry for him. He lost the best girlfriend ever, he smells of cheese, he has dandruff and man boobs, and he has a tramp stamp. Six pack abs only go so far.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

living the dream, the sequel

Okay, so we all remember the story of my beautiful broken-hearted niecelet, whose no-good stupid-o boyfriend dumped her after two long years for no good reason and with very little finesse. There are details I haven't shared (ah, the awkward horrors of adolescence) - like how the break up actually started as "a break", and how he was inappropriately affectionate with his future girlfriend long before he was remotely single. Some among you may need to hear these details cuz otherwise you might begin to think my wonderful niecelet is maybe overdoing it a bit. Suffice it to say, she is so not overreacting. I swear. I know psycho when I see it. I have been there and done that. She is totally in the right.

As it turns out, the confrontation at the assembly was just a slappetizer.

More recently, she has received solid confirmation that her sleazy ex was messing around with her former friend before their break up. In front of all her friends. Who were then, of course, afraid to tell her. So she was wronged and publicly humiliated. And then she was dumped. Before prom. So the other day she pulled her ex aside to ask him just exactly what about her suspecting he was cheating qualified her as "a paranoid control freak" when, in fact, he was, you know, actually cheating. That's a rhetorical question, obviously. I don't know if he had time to answer anyway.

I do know my super strong brute of a softball whiz then socked him a good one right in the gut. After that she kicked him in the shins. (See? Not psycho. Psycho never goes for the shins. Psycho always goes for the nads...)

And then - this is my favorite part - she told him:
  1. he smells like cheese,
  2. he suffers from dandruff,
  3. and, oh yes, she told him he's got man boobs.

Man boobs. I know. I thought, how does one have man boobs and a six pack both? Apparently the man boobs are a recent development - a side effect of ditching the rowing team. Say goodbye to your abs, slimy cheater boy, cuz six packs cannot survive under the shadow of man boobs. It's a scientific fact.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

boob news

First, let me say that Valium when mixed with Darvocet is a very deceptive little cocktail. While I could very clearly feel the edges of my world had been softened (thank you, Valium), I had great difficultly accepting the fact that I was pretty fricking blotto this afternoon. Simple tasks, such as stating Erik's birthdate and filling out a check, began to clue me in. Then, as Erik enticed me to use words with S's in them, I could totally hear that I was slurring my words. He likened me to Cindy Brady. Mm hm. I was in just the right frame of mind for having long needles poked deep into my unsuspecting boobies.

So imagine my surprise when the doctor decided not to do any poking. Apparently just making me dread the procedure for ten days was torture enough. I still got to strip down and get felt up, but I didn't even have to get my mammy's grammed. At first I was suspicious (or, rather, sssussspisshuss), since you know, a different doctor thought something about my cyst was worth eradicating. But then I grew convinced that my cyst just needed a little more screen time to reveal its benign nature. In the meanwhile, though, my cyst has made some friends. Thanks to a more thorough ultrasound technician (who I totally used to rescue seals with), we are now watching four cysts, not one. But they all appear nice and proper - thin walls, soft shape, no speckling. They are good little cysts. Thanks to these good little cysts I get to have my mammy's grammed again in six months (instead of twelve) - just to make sure everyone has remained on their best behavior.

After spending most of the early evening sleeping off my narcotic haze (and blowing off my gym partner), I have settled back in to my regularly scheduled distraction - my law school applications. If I had the balls, I would submit my Berkeley application in T minus 2 and a half hours - the precise moment they begin accepting them. But I know I have to print everything out and read it when my eyes are fresh and the light is good, cuz typos are the pits and I am way too OCD to forgive myself.

Oh, and besides, I have already screwed up with Stanford. Having my letters of recommendation sent directly to their office was, um, wrong. Great. So I had to confess my super lamedness in order to find out if they bothered to keep my letters. They have two of the three, which is better than I hoped, so I'm all set. Stanford's my longest longshot anyway - they didn't want me as an ungrad, then I attended their rival school, I don't have a perfect GPA, and I haven't cured cancer. Add to that the fact that I can't even follow instructions and I'm thinking my fate is pretty sealed. I only wish there were a place on the application to reveal to them my Big Game curse. Cuz, you know, it's only a curse if you want Cal to win. In fact, I am Stanford's lucky charm. It took all the strength I had not to mention it in my email to the Admissions Office this afternoon. I had to remind myself that a) I was on drugs and b) I already looked stupid.

Oh oh oh, and my new shoes arrived already. I still actually love the red ones a little bit better, but don't tell the black ones that cuz they are much more functional (being, you know, the right size and all). I don't want them getting any hurt feelings, after all. And I haven't had the heart to introduce them to my old work shoes. Those poor guys are so dusty and neglected, they already know they are yesterday's news. They don't need to see me parading around in my sexy grown up shoes. Not just yet anyway. And my new shoes don't need to know how I treat my shoes once the shiny newness wears off. Right now they can still believe they will be stored all orderly like, perhaps even in their original boxes. Maybe they think I will place them on a shelf built just for them, with a polaroid picture of themselves posed just so, so that I can always find them when I need them. Little do they know they are doomed to share a room with the stray cat who pees too much.

Anyway, I am just procrastinating now. All you really needed to know is that my boobs and my cysts are getting along swimmingly. Oh, but stay tuned tomorrow for the latest on my oldest niecelet and her no-good cheating man-whore of an ex-boyfriend. If you enjoyed the story of the slap heard round the school, you'll love the sequel.

Monday, September 29, 2008

delirious?

Last night I had trouble sleeping. Perhaps it was the Pepsi I pounded at midnight. I hate to admit that caffeine might hold some power over me. I feel like that's some sign of weakness - or, more likely, aging.

And then I thought perhaps I was awake due to my grumpy new muscles. I seldom (as in never) seem to stretch after working out and it appears to be catching up with me. A friend is trying to entice me into attending yoga at our gym, but I still don't feel ready to do Downward Facing Dog in public. At least I went to the gym, right? Too bad my hour on the elliptical machine only canceled out all the full sugar soda I drank yesterday. The Chips Ahoy I inhaled are apparently free to roam about the cabin...

But the soda and the cookies were both part of the essay process. I think I made serious progress on my applications this weekend. My Berkeley essay might even be done. And good. Erik inspired the ending - the part where I warn the admissions committee that I have an apparent jinx that causes Cal to lose to Stanford in the Big Game. I'm hoping that still seems inspired and appropriate tomorrow, or else I have to craft another conclusion. Anyway, post essay excitement might also have been the reason I couldn't fall sleep.

But mostly I suspect I wasn't restful because I knew today I would have to wake up and have an "ultrasound guided biopsy" of my poor right boob. I keep telling myself it's most likely just a routine aspiration of a harmless cyst, but I hate that I had to use the word "biopsy" when making the appointment. Anyway, after the poking I get to enjoy some squishing, as they gram my mammies one more time, in order to be sure the part they poked was the part they saw on the scan in the first damn place.

So, yeah. Caffeine. Conclusion. Impending torture. Any of these could have been last night's culprit.

But this morning, thanks to this site, I find myself laughing so hard I am crying. I only wish my mother were savvy enough to send a emails or a texts as I am certain I could contribute mightily. Also, I am sorry to see that this site is currently not supporting submissions as I was fully prepared to upload my "Jenni Africa" photo for all the world to see.

{An aside to my dear Wendy: I totally think these are the folks that produced that book I found for you. Remember how I was so bummed that I never knew about Duran Duran fan fiction? Well, it seems after talking to my brother last night, I realized that had I actually been inclined as a teen to author any Fab Five inspired soft porn that I would need now to go back and make some revisions. Apparently the English are not big on circumcision. While I don't have any diary entries to alter, I have been forced to update a few of my mental images...}


Anyway, I am also excited because today is OC's buttiversary. One year ago today he had his last enema. I ordered orange cupcakes with chocolate sprinkles to give to the vet in celebration. I know the folks there are at least as relieved as OC and I are that none of them has had to put their fingers up his anus lately.

On that note, I am either off to the gym and then the bakery, or just off to the bakery. I haven't decided which.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

updates from hermitville

Sorry, folks, for my (continued) virtual absence. I'm sure you've grown used to such neglect, but it is still no excuse.

I wish I could say that I have spent my time away appropriately - that I have finished up all my applications earlier than planned - but indeed I have not. In truth, I am only posting now as a brief respite from my dreaded "diversity essay" - the one piece of my application puzzle which I ought to send to all schools. I know, I know, what exactly is so diverse about a middle-aged white woman? That's precisely my challenge. But I think this morning I might actually be on a roll. After that, I have left only the love letters - why I love Berkeley, why I love Penn, why I love Northwestern, why I love Cornell - and I believe I am still (barely) on track to hit my October 1st submission goal.

Speaking of Northwestern, have I mentioned that I have to profess my love for them in person? This semi-unexpected, not-entirely-required roadblock has sent me into a dizzying array of diversions. I have a room reserved (the interview is a 3 hour drive away - the price of living in paradise) and my resume is sparkly and fresh. I've had my hair done - not just cut, but colored - and I've done much shopping - you know, for grown up clothes, like bras and stockings and high heel shoes. By the way, I am in love with my shoes. This is probably because I have only worn them for 2 minutes, but they are so perfectly my style. I love love love love love my shoes. I love them so much that I stole a picture of them from Zappos just to share with you. Then, darn it, while I was there I ordered a pair in black - in a size more appropriate for my woefully wide feet. I have done so much shopping lately that I am expecting to receive one of those fraud alert phone calls any time now. "Um, excuse me, ma'am, but your card has shown some suspicious activity lately. In all the years we've had you as a customer we've never known you to visit a hair salon or a specialty undergarment shop..."

Another benefit of the upcoming Northwestern interview is that it gave me an extra excuse to look cute for my new driver's license picture. I don't know why the DMV suddenly decided that this was the year I had to renew in person, but I put it off until the very last second, dreading the photo shoot and weight question. In fact, the woman who processed my application was awesome. When it came to the needlessly invasive quesiton of weight she whispered her request for the information. As I hestitated, she encouraged me, assuring me it would be okay to list my "goal weight." I suppose I should have been mortified, having the DMV acknowledge that I am of a size worth lying about, but I was relieved. We immediately bonded over our fluctuating sizes (she confessed she once shed 200 pounds on the South Beach diet) and it was over in a flash. If you're lucky, loyal readers, I may even share with you my new picture, once it arrives. Of course, it can only be appreciated in contrast to my existing picture - the oompa-loompa as I call it - which was taken at the other local DMV, the one which sorely needs to color correct its damned camera. And that, that will be hard to share.

Anyway, other recent distractions include the near purchasing of yet another house in our neighborhood. This time I was actually genuinely on board with the process because the house was cute and not gross. Turns out it was also severely underpriced and we lost it in a bidding war by tens of thousands of dollars. C'est la vie.

But most of all I have been busying myself with doctor's appointments. I had my teeth cleaned, which was not near as much fun knowing that my regular dentist died three months ago (cancer of some sort). And the new dentist is making me come back to fill a little something that isn't quite big enough to call a cavity. In the meanwhile, Erik got a referral to consider getting braces. His lower teeth are all crammed in together causing him more headaches than I do. For years he's longed just to yank one out. Hopefully his new orthodontist will talk some sense into him about that particular plan...

I've also had my eye checked. That stupid scratch in my cornea is still there - four years later - so I finally let the doctor hasten the healing by poking holes all around it. Why this works even he couldn't say, but I wish I'd known how painless it was two years ago. I would've let him do it then, when the scratch was gigantic and easier to find. I also need to get both my eyes checked as I have begun seriously guessing at those eye charts. At worst I am apparently 20/40, as that is the DMV requirement, but I figure I should get glasses before I go off to school anyway. I look kinda cute in glasses, I think, and I will soon be doing a crapload of reading.

But mostly I have been getting my boobs checked. Indeed, I failed my second mammogram and was sent off to get a sticky old ultrasound. The radiologist is pretty sure my abnormality is just a cyst, so he's planning to drain it on Monday. Afterwards I will get my third ever mammogram. Here's to hoping the third time's a charm. Anyway, everyone is acting all very casual about my so-called cyst, but I have heard talk of a biopsy (if it turns out to be solid) and they ordered me a nice cocktail of drugs (Valium and Darvocet) for the poking day, so I'm not wholly convinced that everything is hunky dory fine. My experience with my breast cancer by proxy was that the doctors tend to tell you just enough to make sure you show up for your next appointment. They leave all the freaky bad stuff out until they are super sure.

Anyway, I am mostly not freaked out and I promise a prompt update when I know something. But for now I really must return to my diversity essay. Guess you will have to wait to hear about Bushy, an actual real live sea lion I got to net during this strange summer of the sloppy seconds... I can't believe even my seals haven't got me posting. So sad. Oh, and I didn't take any pictures (I know, you're glad) but I got to see a Harbor Porpoise necropsy which was kinda interesting. Poor gal was beat up by a gang of bottle nosed dolphins, which is way more common than you'd like to think.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

living the dream

Ha, I just realized from the title that you might think I am living the American Dream - of home ownership, that is. But indeed, thank God, I am (so far) not a home owner (or home ower, as my friend Tony used to call himself). Erik's bid was countered and he chose not to play ball. Still, I feel like the house is a looming possibility. It makes me buy cookies and ciders. But whatever. Today's post is not about my financial fears.

Instead, today it is about my dearest niece, miss Zoë herself. As the oldest - sister, niece, soul - Zoë is doomed to suffer all sorts of experiences first. This week's uncharted territory is the terrible break up. Drat that no good six pack ab toting cutie of a rich boy she's been dating for two years. After basking in the glory of her wonderfulness for so long, he finally broke down and has returned to being the serial dating man-whore he was when she found him.

I know. This is bad. This is pints of ice cream in the fridge, crying unconsolably all night bad. It's even had me sobbing, once while on the eliptical machine at the gym thanks to an ill-timed teen-angsty tune on my ipod Shuffle. And I'm not even premenstrual. Weird, huh?

Anyway, Zoë is fortunate to have my best friend as her mother. Jules has kept her daughter from making all the mistakes a broken heart wants to make - crawling back, begging for reconciliation - and instead has made sure she heads off to school each daying looking like the hottie that she is. We are also extra fortunate that Sadie, Zoë's little sister, was admitted to the same private high school so we can get her firsthand perspective on the break up. According to Sadie, her sister has been totally winning the split - she's been looking calm and collected and he's been looking down and dejected.

Until yesterday. Yesterday, after having a good cry in the dark room (a great place to cry, by the way - I used to cry in the dark room at work all too regularly...), Zoë was called off to an assembly. There she discovered her man-whore ex-boyfriend was parading around his newest catch, her former friend (of course). Zoë didn't miss a beat. She walked up to them, slapped him (hard) across the face, and told him to fuck himself. Twice. And then she asked him never to talk to her again.

I know. Awesome, right?

As the day wore on, Zoë's true friend made sure that the rest of the (very small) school knew her side of the story. Walking the halls Zoë found herself receiving high fives and style points. At lunch time, when the man-whore and his new catch tried to join the regular group in the regular place, Zoë got up and left. So did about 30 or 40 other people.

Kinda warms your heart, doesn't it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

nothing says lovin

Nothing says lovin like something in the oven. Today I made the tuna casserole. Even before I read the comment from yesterday's post. Because I do love that house-buying man. Though I still hope he's not buying this house. And in addition to powerlessness, isolation, and financial anxiety, my three years of unemployment have brought me bliss and reconnection, adventure and relaxation. They have been life saving. And I wouldn't have had them without him. I wouldn't have much without him.

So says the tuna.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

really

Yesterday he put a bid in on the house. Or rather, I, as his wifely secretary, put the bid in for him. It involved a frustrating stint at the fax machine (abusing my privileges as a volunteer), a trip to the copy center (since the fax no longer felt like copying the multitude of pages), and a stop at the post office. This was followed by a failed attempt to keep my Monday workout date. I drove to the gym but found all I could do was sit in the parking lot and cry.

My gym buddy understood. Her life is so much more colorful than my own. She has surely spent more than her fair share of time sitting in cars and crying. So then I went home and tried to get drunk. That didn't work out all that well either. This was particularly disturbing, because I am usually all too skilled at sucking down the sauce.

Finally I went to bed. Until I woke up. At 3 am. I was not awake because of the cats (miracle?). I did not even have a full bladder (darned failed drinking attempt). I was just awake.

I waited until the sun came up and the gym opened and I did my penance on the elliptical machine. But the rest of the day has been a surreal sleep deprived day of hoping against hope that the bid is rejected. This, apparently, we won't find out until Friday (thanks to a vacationing realtor).

But really, whether he buys the house or not, my world is still rocked. For the first time in our sixteen years together something huge came up. For the first time ever I didn't get my way. This is not to say that's necessarily a bad thing. Truth be told, if he can pull off the payments, the house is probly a great investment. Even so, it hurts. Because now I feel all the things I feared I'd feel when I walked away from my job three years ago - powerless, isolated, and worried about money.

This afternoon he called to see if I wanted him to pick up anything on the way home. I told him I didn't need anything, I was already working on something for dinner. He actually thought this dinner might be for him. Really. You decide to buy a house that I vehemently don't believe in and you think this is the day I will wake up and become domestic? Really?

It's sad to know he checked the fridge and the oven for these fantasy fixins while I pretended to nap in the bed. It's sad because he probly actually deserves to come home to a warm meal (maybe not today, but most days). It's sad because it wouldn't have been all that difficult for me to throw together the batch of Tuna Noodle (the legendary family favorite that ironically started as my mom's way to punish my dad) that I've been talking about for weeks. But mostly it's sad because it proves I really am isolated and he has no idea what I'm feeling.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

suddenly september

So I'm surprised I haven't been blogging recently as I have been very actively procrastinating on the law school application process. Like most projects in my life, the vision is there and most of the elements are 90% completed, but still I haven't quite managed to send off a single application. Granted, any application received before Thanksgiving is considered an early application, and applications just became available last week, but the perfectionist in me is disappointed. Personally, I think perfect me should be pleased that procrastinating me has gotten so much laundry done at least.

Anyway, I have to keep this entry brief if I hope to make it to the gym this evening. Yes, I have a gym. And I actually go. I kinda sorta hate my gym - it is stuffy and hot and has not a single water feature - no pool, no hot tub, not even a steam room or sauna - but it does have, well, all the stuff you need to make muscles. I considered joining the sexy gym, of course, but it is almost 20 full miles from my home. I knew I'd never go. So I signed on with the old folks gym. Besides, I'm certain I have more in common with the old folks than the sexy folks, so it's working for me.

Having been a gym rat now for nearly six weeks, I'm kinda bummed that I've only dropped maybe five pounds (depending on what sort of scale voodoo I do and which of the gazillion times I step on the scale each week counts as my official weigh in). Still, I am thrilled to have rediscovered my quads and my pecs, and best of all, my abs. I'm working on making friends with my biceps, especially as it will improve my net throwing stamina, but so far they are still pretty puny. My triceps, on the other hand, are almost not even flabby - though they are still far from their former waitressing glory. Sure, waiting tables was tough on my back and I got blisters from hot plates and I always smelled like food, but, man, were my arms cute. I want them back, my waitress arms. In fact, I have even considered getting a car that lacks power steering (I had one for a few of my peak waitress years), but I drive so infrequently I don't think it would be worth the investment. Oh well.

Anyway, I am tempting fate to go to the gym at all today as today I am in charge of seals. Recently, though, I seem to only get to enjoy other people's sloppy seconds (like the super cutie pie yearling we shipped off yesterday - sorry, no pix until I really get down to business on the great seal story catch up episode). Since I was on call yesterday, there are no seconds to enjoy today, so I am feeling kinda safe. Besides, I am extra overjoyed by an email I just received about a hideously wounded sea lion I sort of attempted to rescue a couple weeks back. Seems he found his way to Santa Cruz where he was rescued by my counterparts at our sister satellite location in Monterey. Too bad he didn't actually survive another 24 hours, but I'm surprised, given his exposed skull and all, that he made it into rehab at all. I could post pictures of him, but I know my graphic photos aren't exactly popular with my reader(s).

Speaking of my reader(s), little miss Wendy celebrated her 37th birthday just this past Tuesday. Her mom posted a fabulous birthday tribute, which made me feel both better and worse for merely thinking good thoughts her way all day. Not sure what happened to my birthday blogs this year, but once I skipped one I decided to skip them all. Anyhow, sounds like Wendy enjoyed her day, which is all that matters...

Personally, I was just pleased to make it through a Labor Day weekend without having any cats go missing. Last year, of course, poor Blackers got himself runned over. And the year before, you'll recall, troublesome OC got himself abducted. I was so proud that I was able to control my paranoia enough not to lock the kitties in all weekend. Little did I know I was due another dose of kitty drama, just a few days later. It was Thursday when once again old OC did not show up for his dinner. I wasn't too worried until I realized he'd missed his 4 am feeding, and then his 7 am breakfast. It wasn't until Friday afternoon that I was able to take what I refer to as the "worry walk" - cruising his turf, calling his name. I was at the far end of his known territory when I finally heard him answer back - from the crawl space of a neighbor's house two blocks away. He was a little freaked out, a little embarrassed, and a lot hungry. For the past couple days he's hardly left my side. It's been nice.

While OC was out exploring on Thursday, I went for my first mammogram. It was just to get a baseline reading, so it was no big deal. In fact, I found the most painful part was removing the little metal stickers from my nipples (which they use as landmarks on the xrays). They sent me home with a flower (making it feel more like an awkward date) and all was well.

Until they called me yesterday. Apparently I failed my first mammogram. I have to go back in a couple weeks for a do over. Normally I am a big fan of the do over, and even as they told me not to worry, I wasn't worried. Sure, my best friend has had breast cancer which she got, hmmm, just a couple years older than I am now. And sure, there's now breast cancer on both sides of my gene pool. But I know mammograms are imperfect and big boobs might be the best part about being fat, but they aren't the easiest to xray. But when I suggested we postpone the follow up appointment by a couple more weeks (calculating my likely bloat factor), I was told I couldn't wait the extra couple weeks. Two weeks, apparently, is fine, but four, four weeks is a problem. So which is it, I wonder? Nothing to worry about? Or something that can't wait? Whichever it is, I guess there is no sense in fretting about it. Still, I find myself absent-mindedly poking around the suspected boob to see if I can find anything. All I feel is boob.

Besides, I've got bigger things to worry about than my boobs. Lately my husband has been getting very very close to buying a dumpy little beach cottage we totally can't afford. I've been as supportive as I can - assembling the paperwork, making the phone calls - while being about as passive-aggressive and bitchy as I've ever been. Buying a house would be a great idea if I weren't, oh, I don't know, planning to take on up to $200,000 in student loans starting next year. Buying a house would make perfect sense if I wasn't pulling him away from his great state job in less than twelve months. Buying a house would be fabulous, if we had an extra thousand dollars in the bank each month - the difference between the rent on our awesome rental and the mortgage on his beloved scary crank house. At least he's decided to go for a crappier loan - so he doesn't have to drain my retirement accounts (just his own) to come up with the down payment. Yeah, good times.

The thing is, I don't want to make him trade his dream for mine. It sucks that my taking of the LSAT just for kicks happened to coincide with the bursting of the housing bubble. So who knows? It might happen. But right now I'm "winning." After I assured him that if he took on this debt, I would enroll in the law school that offered me the best financial package even if it wasn't the best school I got in to, he put his plans on hold. Truthfully, I might choose the scholarship over the prestige either way. At my age, that's not the worst strategy. In fact, at any age, it's not a bad choice. And I don't want to get my way through blackmail. So we'll see. I can't believe I am actually considering talking him back in to something I have been so actively talking him out of... I feel like I am on Judge Judy and I am saying too much, and she looks at me and asks if it looks like she needs any help? And I am supposed to say "no" and then shut up and keep winning. But winning doesn't feel like winning when it's in a marriage. I'd much rather find a way for us to agree - as long as we agree with me.

I know. I'm horrible.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

abruptly august

Well, well, I see that my July blogging streak ended with a whimper. Much as I detest love NaBloPoMo, it seems in many ways it is the kiss of death. Despite my best intentions, my enthusiasm always fades and usually I spend the following month in recovery. August was no exception, apparently. Still, I think more than an entire month off might be a record.

What's worse is I was unknowingly inspiring another NaBloPoMo rebellion over at Random Thoughts. Ironically, while I was justifying my own radio silence by MerryME's unscheduled vacation, she was doing the same with mine. A couple of emails and one hurricane later and we have finally broken the stalemate. Only, I think I tricked her into posting as I left this in draft mode for another week or so. Sorry about that.

You know, I've never been too productive during August anyway. The only month without a holiday (except dorky ones like National Tooth Fairy Day - which you can apparently celebrate on February 28th, anyway), August seems to exude laziness itself. Come to think of it, perhaps my hiatus was simply European. After all, don't the Italians take the entire month off for vacation? So see, I am actually back a few days early. Whew. I feel much better now.

Anyhow, you really haven't missed that much. The most notable thing I can come up with is that my mom was featured in her local paper thanks to the craftiness of my brother Billy and our Cuzen Bob. The actual spread was way cooler than the on-line version - it was the entire section front with a teaser on A-1. I wonder if newspapers make their on-line counterparts so woefully inferior on purpose, to avoid competing with themselves, or if they all just suck at it because they are new to the business? I suppose if I still had a job or even bothered to keep up with my old work friends I would know for sure.

Other newsworthy events include the fact that I have finally been able to pet the dreaded Ratty Catty without being rewarded with urine. His rules are pretty strict - primarily he prefers to be pet before breakfast or in the office, but then only if Monkey is around. But of course I am testing the boundaries. So far I have found I can pick him up briefly and he won't pee, but he will squirm and hide under the bathtub later. I've even held him in my lap once - but that was clearly a major violation of trust for which I got the claws. Oh, and if I try to touch his scabby knee - all bets are off. He turns on the attitude and shreds my hand like it is a cat toy. It's pretty funny to be scared of a 6 pound cat. Reminds me quite a bit of the winter of fur seals. It also means Ratty has some potential to be a real kitty someday.

In the meanwhile, Monkey has been actively trying to train his pet on the proper cat behavior. He comes to me when called and submits to snuggles and inspections. Here you can see Monkey introducing Ratty to the joys of napping in the laundry. (You can also see the look of disdain Ratty gives me constantly.) At least this was a load that was already dirty. Ratty's not allowed near the clean laundry anymore as it seems he likes to pee on it. In fact, we've been on pretty serious lock down since the last time Ratty soiled the bed. Oh, and my theory that I could keep him out of it with the Scat Mat? Scrapped. OC was the unwitting test subject on my set up. Turns out a cat who is shocked on the edge of the bed will not jump to the floor but will seek respite deeper in the bed - up by the pillows and such. I had thought for a while that the Scat Mat had maybe earned its keep by shooing Ratty off the couch, but seeing how high OC jumped when shocked, I think maybe Ratty jumped down on his own, before connecting two wires.

I am way behind with my seal stories (I think I owe June and July - I only hope I can reconstruct them), but so far in August you have missed precious little. I really only have one significant seal saga. It involves this little sea lion who got a fish hook in her throat. We know this as we could see, at least until she swallowed it, the fishing line coming out of her mouth. She also had an ugly abscess on her hind end which she acquired after something bit her bum and her girlie parts. Anyway, as you can see, she had a fondness for hanging out with the big boys. I don't blame her - they are quite sexy after all - but it made it much harder to get a good shot at her. Sadly, I blew the best shot of all - she was alone, about four feet closer to the edge than in this picture. My approach was fabulous, prolonged and subtle, by I was carrying the heavy net (not my fabulous lucky lightweight net) and I just didn't have enough strength to get ahead of her. In the following weeks I did my penance by doggedly stalking the dock and calling her in to others. It took 3 weeks and countless other attempts, but she finally turned up in a different location (on some rocks deeper into the harbor) and a pal of mine picked her up. He is, of course, officially my hero now. He named our girl Weston, after a friend who was visiting from out of town.

Anyway, here's a close up of the fishing line (see it coming from the left side of her mouth and then up to the center of her chest?).

And here she is in captivity. I'm pretty sure the knot on the right side of her neck is where the hook is working its way through.

Now I am trying not to obsess on two other sea lions I've seen lately. One was a big girl who started hanging on the same dock as Weston. That gal has a prolapse uterus (usually cancer, almost certainly fatal). I went trolling for her a few times, but I haven't seen her at all since Friday. Her condition was so advanced that I'm pretty sure she's found her way across the rainbow bridge on her own by now.

The other is a yearling who hangs on a tiny private dock. The neighbors' kid named him "Okie Badokie". Well, I'm kinda thinking he's Okie Dokie, cuz I had him halfway in my net (my lucky net) a couple times and he had the gumption to get away twice. Not that my dock rescue skills are impeccable, but it takes some energy to maneuver as he did. And the neighbors haven't called again, so I assume he moved on (as a healthy seal would after such harassment).

No, I have plenty to obsess upon right now as it is. Application season starts in just a few days which means I have a handful of essays to finish up and a resume to polish off. As a result, I've been catching up on my housework (and now my blogging). I have gotten one key essay done - the dreaded Yale 250 - and I actually love love love it. It makes me feel like I might actually have half a chance of admission now - it's that good. I only wish more things in life were determined by standardized tests and essay questions - except, of course, I know how meaningless and biased they are.

Anyhow, by now it is old news (literally, it's in the dump), but I finally uploaded photos of that fort that Kevin and I built for the nieces. Here it was in its glory days.

The fort: complete with removable pirate flag, very fancy "Beware of" sign (with lots of things to choose from - pirates, monster, mom, dad, Savannah, Maddie...), and the permanently mounted "No Boys Allowed" notice. The stained "glass" window flaps open, the door locks with a key, and the stuff on top of the fort is the roll-away roof for the courtyard area.

Here's a close up of the front door.

Another of the flag and roll up roof.


This is the spacious interior - room for all three niecelets and their anti.




And here's the other stained wax paper window.







In the courtyard they had a built in cabinet (which helped hold up the roof). Maddie immediately decided it was the perfect place to store her binkies (pacifiers).







Here's what we stashed inside before the binkies got there - two telescopes, a doll they already owned, and the first clue to the treasure hunt.







The clue took them to the coy pond.








Where they found a message in a bottle (inspired, perhaps, by the Police concert we'd just seen?). I was so thrilled that Kevin has a taste for Maker's Mark (as I now do, too, thanks Wendy). It was so superior to the wine bottle we'd been working with...


Anyway, the map led them around the yard to this table where, X marks the spot.


Here the final clue told them to look up.


Where they found the "treasure" which was really just a couple of Happy Bunny books I bought them, the aforementioned vomit flavored jelly beans, and some coins from Kevin's dresser. He was made I included real money - he'd tossed in his foreign coins and other things that "look like money." When Savannah asked why there was a button in the treasure, I explained the logic and she replied, "Uncle Kevin is an idiot."

Ah, the thanks we get.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

for bony

Because hotmail can't handle it, here is a video I shot this spring of Mandella during her rescue:

video

Sunday, July 20, 2008

easy as abc

My travel day begins in less than 8 hours.  While I'm excited to get to see my man and my cat fishes again, I am sad to be leaving my family.  It feels like I've had very little actual time visiting and yet I've been away for two full weeks.  I know, though, that I've enjoyed much quality time (mainly with the delightful G) and I've added to my collection of notable quotables (my new favorite is Dad's "No time for laughter" and also G's "What?  Pie?" response to They Might Be Giants' tune "Fibber Island"...).  So I should be happy, not blue.  

Um, but, yeah, I haven't posted for a bit have I?  I almost blew you off again tonight but then I actually had two food related thoughts so I figured I ought to share.

The first was a sound bite from my brother this evening.  "Mom, how can your fridge be so full of nothing to eat?"  You would think this was the perspective of a unimaginative cook or a disgruntled teen, but in this case it was a simple statement of fact.  My mom's fridge is packed full of nothing to eat.  In part this is because she has a fancy shallow fridge, designed to fit in with the wall of cabinets.  Mostly, though, it is because she loves to keep aging produce around. So much so that two days ago she put back in the fridge a bunch of ready made salad after telling it, "Oh, you're getting bad."  Only last night did she begrudgingly, bewilderedly shuffle it off to the compost...  She knows she has a produce problem, but she doesn't care.  Mostly I just wish the fridge weren't an avalanche waiting to happen and that there was room for more than one or two Diet Cokes at a time.  But, in fact, tonight Mom made us a very yummy meal (after making a trip to the store for fresh salad).  My inner carnivore even caved as her pork roast seemed so not like dead pig and much more so like food.   But then technically the roast came from the freezer.  And my mom's freezer is actually full of real stuff to eat - it just takes a long time to cook it.

But the real food story on my mind is the sharing of Jelly Belly's Bean Boozled jelly beans. These beans feature identical coatings but distinctly different flavors.   There are some combos I'll risk anytime (such as berry or toothpaste or even plum or pepper) and others that are nasty no matter which way you go (coconut or baby wipes and black licorice or skunk spray).  For whatever reason, disgusting flavored candy is so up my alley.  I split a box with my brother a few days ago and that was just fine and dandy.  We were grown ups, taking chances, and laughing as we could tell what the other must be tasting.  I was disappointed I never encountered the rotten egg and got only one moldy cheese, but all in all it was quite satisfying.

This evening, however, I split a box with my niecelets.  (Well, with Savannah, mostly, and eventually Grace - Madisyn is way too smart to eat gross jelly bellys...) Since the girls were unwilling to even try the definite losers (the aforementioned licorice/skunk or coconut/baby wipes), I was stuck eating all of them. And then I discovered that though they might be game to try other colors, they weren't willing to swallow the gross ones.  And so I became the human garbage disposal, forced to consume the ABC (already been chewed) jelly bellys - much to the delight and disgust of my niecelets.  Some I would've salvaged anyway - no point in letting a good vomit go to waste - but others I could've lived without.  I must say, though, I was really proud when Grace branched out from the safety of the berry/toothpaste realm and encountered her first booger.  She's a trooper, that one.

Anyway, more on the evening with the nieces when I'm back on Californian soil and can process the photos I took of the amazing fort.  I am totally not exaggerating when I call it amazing. Grace told Uncle Kevin it was, "really really really really really really really really really really cool."  Madisyn told me she didn't like it, she "LOVED it."  Meanwhile, Savannah seemed pleased but soon decided it was insufficiently decorated.  She grabbed a roll of toilet paper and a roll of duct tape and the three girls made it spookier.  Sadly, we could only play together for a few hours, but it was a blast.

As for now, it's time for bed.  It's not like I need to be fully rested to hang out in the airport, but it would be nice to be chipper enough in the morning to earn more scorn from my dear dad...

Friday, July 18, 2008

breakfast bites

After a late night (fueled by possible design changes and assorted law school essay inspirations), I woke up early to see my family off for their last work day of my visit.  Looks like I caught on a little late, though, as breakfast was already eaten, the paper already read, and now the folks are already gone.

So I will have to amuse myself by recalling yesterday morning when my dad was annoyed by my rested, unemployed energy.  Like my hubby, my dad is a man of few words and 24 hours ago he used some to tell me, "We like quiet in the mornings," in an effort to dampen my enthusiasm. This was quickly followed by, "There's no time for laughter," directed at both myself and my mutually tickled brother.

 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

careful what you wish for

Tonight's update from home was a grim one.  Apparently Ratty Catty finally decided to test out the waterproof mattress pad I ordered last month.  Though the pad surely did its job, protecting the already peed upon mattress, it seems this was little consolation to Erik who still had to process loads of soiled bedding.  He was particularly bummed that Ratty has now christened the brand new comforter.  (We tossed all the previously peed on ones thinking the smells trapped within might be the primary target.  While we couldn't quite justify tossing out our $80 investment after just one pee, I know we both considered it...)  A man of few words, my beloved made the effort to mention the phrase "feral cat colony," suggesting that I might have to choose "which f*cked up cat" I liked best.  OC is reportedly growing more feral himself, upset as he is with the steeper security measures keeping him from my bed.  He's back to only showing up for meals.  Poor thing.

Instead of contemplating my Sophie's choice (which is really no choice at all - OC wins), I turned to the two things which help me solve most of my problems - the internets and my credit card.  Next month's attempt at regaining my sanity will involve the use of a static charged scat mat (or two, as I bought an extension as well as an AC adapter - I never can just stick my toe in the water, can I?).  I also nearly purchased a tone based cat trainer, but having pulled the batteries from my overzealous smoke detector, I couldn't imagine spending money to hear the same type of noise coming from my bed.

But inside I feel a little bit guilty.  First, for disabling my smoke detector, of course.  I know this is foolish and dangerous but that is a whole other topic...  Second, for spending money I don't have.  Suze Orman would surely tell me I cannot afford my feral cat...  But mostly I feel guilty because each night as I went to sleep on my distinctly less comfortable waterproof mattress, I would grumble to myself, "Damn.  My bed is now sucky and sweaty and for what? No one has even peed on it..." Now I have gotten what I wished for.  My only solace is that I didn't give in to temptation and swap out the mattress pads...  Oh, and obviously I feel guilty that my husband married the crazy cat lady.  Who knew? Well, he probly did.

Speaking of crazy cat ladies, I am forced to realize that it is in my genes as I sit here in my mother's cat pee smelling house.  (Sorry, Mom, but it is true.  Usually I visit in the winter when it is unbearably cold and the only cat pee I notice is the fresh stuff I find.  The heat of this summer has cooked all the latent pee spots and the entire main floor reeks...)  In fact, I was a bit embarrassed today to have to show the cable guy around.  Turns out the smell of the house was the least of my worries.  After the cable guy determined he couldn't make the changes we wanted, I put him on the phone to explain it to my mom.  Wanting to include me in the discussion, he put the phone on speaker.  When my mom heard my voice return she assumed the phone was back in my hands, exclaiming promptly, "that cable guy is crazy."  He smiled and told her that he could hear her.  Good times, indeed.  While my mom's charm didn't succeed in convincing the guy to make any changes, surprisingly enough I was able to get him to give me a signal enhancer.  It may or may not help anything and we've still got extension cords running across doorways, but, heck, that's pretty nice for a crazy guy. 

Anyway, I spent the rest of the day working on a surprise for my absentee niecelets.  It's an arts and crafts project inspired by the tons of cardboard used to package my mom's new propane grill. (Which, by the way, I totally bailed out of assembling.  I helped my brother stage it but ended up wiped out in the process.  Turns out we both have the sense I was born with.  Not taking the time to investigate, we lifted the incredibly hot, heinously heavy grill up two flights of stairs.  Only after our herculean feat did we realize that the grill was holding ten smaller boxes we could've carried up separately...)  So now I am building a fort.  A kick ass fort - complete with stained glass windows made from crayon shavings and wax paper.  (Which bled onto the towel I was using to iron them through.  I was surprised.  My mother was not.  So often I wish I had the sense she was born with...  Looking at her ruined towel, I believe tonight she wished the same thing...)  Tomorrow I've got to work on a few more details (anyone know how to make rolling shades roll up?  It has a retractable roof...), but I also plan to spend the day with G.  I figure she won't mind playing at her cousins' house and she can help me test the fort's fun level...

It's a blessing that I have a play date with G at all.  It's only thanks to her dad.  As suspected, my sis still thinks I am a loser and is not exactly talking to (or even texting) me.  She's just begun a string of four consecutive graveyard shifts (which end the day my plane leaves), so I understand why she was bummed when I flaked out on her last available night off.  But I've got to be me. And I am a flake. Through and through.  Give me a glass of wine and a comfy couch over a crowded room and live music any day.  Especially when I am exhausted from being on vacation.

Speaking of exhausted, it's off to bed with me.  With arts and crafts and child care on the agenda, I've got to recharge my batteries.  

    

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

i'm a loser, baby

Tonight I am a loser.  Not only because I once again totally blew off my plan to post everyday, but more specifically because I bailed on my plan to attend a concert with my sister.  As a single mother with a full time job, she was not terribly sympathetic to my plea that my vacation has been exhausting.  But really, it has been.  So much so I am going to keep this brief.  I'm a loser.  That's all.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

couldn't do it

I knew full well when I went to bed last night that I was blowing off NaBloPoMo.  Convincing my eyes to stay open for even another five minutes was unthinkable.  And this morning, after the first full night of sleep I've had since starting my vacation, I still find myself fairly uninspired but I'm thrilled to feel rested.  

Much has happened that I could talk about.  For one, my sister brought my niecelet G along with us on our road trip so she could attend her first concert ever.  G had a fabulous time and was a great sport.  She made us laugh when she commented that Sting looked like Uncle Billy (which Mom points out must mean Billy looks really old...).  She made us smile when she boogied down with another 4 year old, a boy named Jack, in the aisle.  We even snuck in a little sign language practice - signing the colors of the lights on stage, the stars and moon in the sky, and the grass we were sitting on.  Finally, as Sue hurried home (due in Seattle very early the next morning) G went back to the hotel and had a sleep over with her Anti and Uncle, including a late night run to Wendy's followed by a 2 am bed time.

Yesterday, as I wasn't blogging, G and I went to Portland's Saturday Market to pass the time while Uncle Kevin got a tattoo.  At the Market, G mastered the art of spinning a top (no small feat at her age).  Her enthusiasm was so contagious that I was moved to buy her the top that spun for her the best.  Unfortunately, this left us without enough money for even a snow cone, let alone lunch, so we played in the fountain before retreating to the car to seek out an actual indoor restaurant.  There she didn't eat much (though she did make soup of her ice cream - a favorite childhood activity of mine) but it didn't matter as we succeeded in cooling off.  We were also able to camp out long enough for Kevin's tattoo appointment to end, allowing the last leg of the road trip to begin.

Today's task involves waiting for the UPS man to deliver a new propane grill and then assembling it before dinner time.  Mom's bringing home salmon, a dish I generally find yummy but morally complex since I began my work with the sea lions...  I suppose I should go on about it (seeing as how July is about the food), but I think most folks understand the challenges of our place in the food chain so I don't feel the need to rehash the details just now.

What I do feel the need for is breakfast and a shower.  Perhaps not in that order.  And a bit of quiet time with my brother, not my blog, so until later... 


   

Friday, July 11, 2008

starting to peel

As my crispy fried skin starts to separate from my body, I am gearing up for yet another day in the sun.  Today involves a road trip followed by an outdoor concert followed by more road trip and a night in a hotel.  Somehow I accidentally woke up early again today.  It was actually pleasant to have the house to myself and have a chance to catch up on my soap opera...    

Having a few moments of calm made me realize that I was so whiny yesterday that I forgot to mention the good times that were had. Watching my niecelet paint her own finger and toe nails (for the first time ever) with my magic changing color glitter nail polish was priceless.  I loved how she insisted on painting from left to right (not up and down) and how Mom's nail polish remover was as old and ineffectual as her pancake mix.  Thus I can't be totally to blame that G's generously painted polish didn't dry completely and ended up rubbing off onto Mom's green couch.  We rubbed away the sparkles and figured Mom would never notice unless the couch got full sun (turning the subtle streak bright red).  Of course I later learned the couch does catch quite a few rays in the morning but not surprisingly Mom doesn't care.  This couch is, after all, in the pee room and has seen worse things than a smear of nail polish.

Also, I failed to mention how it was worth nearly two hours in traffic to spend 45 minutes with my other niecelets.  I feel so bad I have trouble hooking up with my brother's girls.  We still didn't get much quality time in but I did learn that the younger sister is a groomer.  I too love the popping of a zit or the pulling of a stray hair so I totally understand this primal urge.  So I entertained her by letting her isolate and pluck the gray out of my hair.  She only pulled a couple brown strands so it was worth it...

Anyway, I have nothing remarkable to say about food except that I learned today that my brother Kevin likes his coffee black.  Yuck.  I think the only reason to drink coffee is as a vehicle for sugar and cream.  But right now all Kevin cares about is getting me in a vehicle at all so I'd better go...    

Thursday, July 10, 2008

crispy fried me

Ow.  My boobs are sunburned.  Suddenly the things I love most about being fat are the most painful part of my body.  Besides being fried, I am also tired and generally frazzled after having spent a 12 hour day doing favors for various family members.

The first favor was making breakfast for my niecelet.  She complained (and I concurred) that the pancakes were yucky and weird.  At my mom's house it is a miracle I could make pancakes at all.  There is little doubt that the bisquick I used was well out of date...  I disagreed, however, that the scrambled eggs were burned.  I happily ate them all while Grace drank a "milkie" (pediasure meal replacement)...

My next favor was watching my niecelet not drown while my sister caught up with a friend of hers.  This lunch date would've been a lot more fun if not for the fact that I was reburning my burned boobs and if I were not dreading the next favor on my schedule.

The dreaded favor was driving my other niecelets and their extended family to the airport so they could go to San Diego.  It was my only chance to see them, though, and my mom wanted her car back so whatever.  And in fact I didn't have to actually drive to the airport - just back from it.  During rush hour traffic.  With a seat belt scratching my extra burned boobs.  

Finally, though, I had a favor done for me.  I met with my folks and my brother for dinner and drinks before moving on to the next favor.

But the day wasn't over.  After dinner I had to drive out to my other brother's house and fetch a few forgotten items.  Tomorrow I get to mail one of them to San Diego.

For now, though, I am done with favors and have moved on to playing cards.  In the darkness.  And it is delightful.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

sleep over snippet

My second night in Washington and already a sleep over.  After accidentally waking up way too early, I am struggling to keep up with my energetic niecelet.  Mostly I am wishing I could have another piece of pizza but my ex-brother-in-law ate more than his share.  So instead I will have an extra glass of wine.

Today's bit of wisdom, discussed over the rapidly disappearing pizza:

While ranking the relative craziness of my siblings and their spouses, we first decided the girls were in a tie for first.  Sister cuz she has too many pets and has allowed her ex to move back in, sister-in-law cuz, well, she married my crazy brother for starters...  This would put my bipolar brother in a solid third, which he was delighted to hear.  Then, by default, the insatiable ex-brother-in-law lands in fourth, mostly for being willing to move in with his ex.

Then, between bites of pizza, he says he is grateful to be living with his ex.

Which is when we realize he's obviously taken over third place.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

out the door

Just a quickie post today as I am nearly out the door to begin my trip to Washington. I kinda dig my brand new but still bottom of the line luggage. I was happy to find it was on sale (though I wonder if it is just always "on sale"...) so I resisted the urge to comparison shop. That would have really let the errand eat up my day. As a result, I got packed up and in bed at a reasonable hour.

Since July is all about the food, I will report that the only creatures that have been fed so far today are the hummingbirds. Their food is only good for a week and I'm gone for two, so I figured best I could do was feed them this morning... The kitties are about to get fed, of course, and if there is time I will eat something... Come to think of it, I should've picked up more cat food while I was out and about yesterday but I didn't have the heart for a second stop. Besides, I know Erik will feed them way less often than I would've and he'll cycle in the really cheap stuff. Poor kitties.

As far as a kitty update goes: Monkey smells less like pee since he's stopped sleeping in it. OC knows I'm leaving - he has been sweet and attentive and even slept in the bed last night. Ratty is just Ratty but we did have a little play session last night. Guess that's all I can hope for.

And Erik, poor Erik, is nursing a wounded knee and ankle and trying to catch up on sleep lost to work and the holiday. I've got to get him up now as he is driving me to the airport.

So I guess that is your update. Bags bought. Birds fed. Cats crazy. Husband tired. Pretty typical day around this beach bungalow.

Monday, July 07, 2008

packing problems

Okay, so my first packing problem is that I haven't really started yet. My flight departs in 25 hours. My trip begins in 19 hours. My laundry is mostly clean but not folded. A list is made but it is ambiguous and incomplete.

But my big packing problem is the one I just discovered. My luggage smells like pee. I know, I know. There's really no denying I am the crazy cat lady now. The question is, when and how did the luggage get peed on? It seems to have happened when the bags were nested (as the two biggest bags / outer layers have the stench) but they are almost always stored on end, and this is too much stink to be from vertical marking. This happened horizontally. The bags have been on their side since last night (Monkey has been sleeping on them, thus he too smells of pee), but nothing is wet. Just very stinky. So the stink must be old. Hell, for all I know the bags could've been peed on in one of the crazy cat houses I was in last (my mom's, my friend's...), but really, the evidence suggests this is not necessarily true and even if it were, it would only be marginally comforting.

I guess when and how it happened doesn't matter. And why we'll never know. The real question is, what do I do now?

I suppose I could run out and buy a new big bag. I needed new luggage anyway. The last time I flew with a "Damaged" sticker wrapped around my bag to hold it closed and one of the pockets was sewn shut where a second zipper had failed. But I planned to get something cool off the internets, not something equally crappy from a department store, and I really don't want to spend all day going out to SLO spending money I don't have.

I could have used my old duffel type bag for supplementary space but that poor thing was peed on and tossed out long ago. (That culprit was OC, who did the deed right in front of me...) And I already "donated" all my super old (pre college era) luggage to the thrift store (sadly, just this year...).

I could spare the expense and just pack really really lightly. Oh, how proud would Dad be if I only brought carry on? I'd probly end up checking the bag anyway. I hate being burdened by real life personal baggage (in and out of restrooms - yuck, up and down escalators - scary, bonking around stores - discouraging...) and I can never really lift it safely into the overhead compartment... But really I just can't see myself packing that lightly. My favorite oversized sweatshirt would pretty much fill the only non-stink bag that is left.

I could just cry. As my pee stink covered cat snuggles my lap. As I wonder why I agreed to be away from home for two weeks anyhow? I hate traveling. I always have. And now I hate it just a little more.

After I cry I guess I will go to Costco. I sure hope Monkey doesn't still smell like pee when I get home.

Oh, and just cuz I should make some token effort to tie in the food theme - the only thing that's gotten better about traveling lately is that airlines seem less likely to serve those icky honey roasted peanuts. Why they would serve anything so wretchedly aromatic in such an uncomfortably intimate environment is beyond me. Hooray for all the poor peanut allergy sufferers who have spared me any future torturous inhaling of a hundred people's collective peanut breath.

And just so I don't sound super whiny, I did once get a really cool airplane snack. They were little goldfish shaped like airplanes. I think I was on Southwest. I loved the idea so much I kept the package. Cuz I am a pack rat.

An overweight crazy cat lady pack rat with a drinking problem and bad hair, who needs to go shopping for luggage now.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

unintentionally ingested

Today it's tough to write about food as I am incredibly preoccupied by the one thing I ate today that wasn't edible.

As so often happens during seal rescues (or in this case, seal goose chases, as our rescue call turned out to be inspired by a perfectly healthy SWIMMING harbor seal... can you see why we are often reluctant to investigate second hand reports, especially when they are nearly an hour away?), my crew and I encountered a bunch of trash. The garbage today seemed particularly abundant - perhaps because we are in a holiday weekend, more likely because our "sick seal" was near a popular fishing spot... And so, although we had left many of the grossest pieces behind (an abandoned sock, slimy plastic bait tubs, a chocolate covered candy bar wrapper), we just couldn't walk past the plastic grocery bag stuffed full of unmentionables. Actually, I suppose we probly could've walked past it, but I made the case that we shouldn't, as plastic bags are my weakness. I cannot leave them behind. Plastic bags, fricking balloons, and, of course, fishing lines or lure - these are the things I will always pick up.

So, okay, yeah, we are discouraged to have no seal to rescue (especially cuz at this time we are still wondering if the seal was there for us earlier and we blew it by showing up too late) but at least we've done our good deed, right? Feeling good, I begin securing the lightweight trash in the back of my cab. I loosen a bungee cord to run it through the bag's handle when suddenly it slips. The cord flies out of my hand and as it whizzes past my face it fills my mouth with sandy salty muck from the outside of the bag. Yuck. It still makes me gag. I'm a good two hours from being able to go home and wash my face and brush my teeth. I don't want to drink anything to wash it down as I don't want to ingest any more of it than I already have. I spit. I whine. I tell myself it is okay. Surely the mystery liquid is just ocean water - not fish guts or urine. I want to cry.

I must say, though, I am grateful that my incompetent bungee handling did not result in the injury of myself or my rescue partner. I have seen those things do some wicked damage and though it is funny when it is not your and not your fault, I would've felt awful if either of us had taken an actual hit. So I put everything in perspective, mostly.

And then I remember many of our sea lions are suffering from leptospirosis this year. Lepto, that icky bacterial infection that is contagious to dogs and humans, is passed through contact with infected urine. So now I am really hoping that was sea water I ate, not pee water. And I Google lepto to see how long it incubates. I should know in as little as two days or as many as four weeks. But it was just sea water, right?

Anyway, then I go back to the site and treat the sea lion we do have (the one who really does most likely have lepto) and I am delighted to see I can actually get fluids into her tonight. All by myself. No other boarder to protect me. Nothing but me and my super quick hands and super calm demeanor. So I am feeling awesome (albeit still disgusted) until I try to get her into the kiddie pool to offer her fish. Now I just look like a bungling fool who is bound to injure her back, pushing and prodding at 55 kg of dead weight. Finally, after way too long, I give up and let the poor girl go back to resting. But not before picking up the smell of dead fish on my hands (which happens how, exactly, when I am wearing gloves the whole time?).

So now I feel like I have ingested pee and I smell like fish. But I take this NaBloPoMo thing so seriously here I am posting before I shower. Cuz I'm good like that. Or gross like that. Not sure.

Um, so is fish and sandy mystery liquid enough of a reference to food? I sure hope so. Cuz I've really got to hit the shower.

Oh, but while we're thinking of pee, our not-so-beloved Ratty Catty has officially already peed on our recently cleaned carpets. I am only glad because it was not my fault (I wasn't even home and he wasn't even trapped) and because I didn't have to clean it up (being not home and all). Still, I am sad for Erik, who did have to clean it up after apparently inspiring it, and I am sad for all of us cuz, you know, what the hell? When will this end? At least he's got me all warmed up for my pending visit to my mom's house. Her pee cat Ginger will make me feel right at home, I am sure.

Ugh.

Anyway, yeah, got to pack, got to travel. But really really got to shower.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

not who i thought i was

The arrival of Erik's aunt and her grandson has called in to question my very sense of being. Having a lifelong relationship with my own father's cousin, a genealogy buff herself, I felt confident I could accurately define the boys' family ties. I insisted that my hubby is a second cousin to his cousin's son. Still, it sounded odd to assert that I was right because, "My Aunt Kathy is my second cousin." This prompted a rather entertaining separate conversation about a friend's cousin who married his step sibling, resulting in complicated, duplicitous familial titles... Perhaps more surprising is the fact that I too know married step siblings. I had always thought it was funny that my pal's stepdad was also his father-in-law, but I had never realized this meant his nephews on his wife's side were also his cousins in some way.

Anyway, the debate carried over to the next day as we pondered the possibility that the boys might be first cousins, once removed. Unable to determine what "once removed" refers to, I wondered if we might both be right - if the "removal" might be from the first degree to the second... A quick visit to a genealogy website confirmed that the boys are indeed first cousins, once removed, and thus I am not the second cousin I always thought I was. (Much as I would love to sum up my newfound grasp on the topic, I think it's simpler for you to just follow the link if you really care...)

All that cousin talk inspired me to make a quick call, for the first time ever, apparently, to my own first cousin once removed, and my now second (not third) cousin, her daughter Carrie. They've been on my mind quite a bit lately as they live south of me just a couple of hours, very close to one of California's countless wildfires. I learned the flames have been even closer than I would've thought - a mere five streets away. Evacuation was imminent enough to inspire the packing of the car... Yikes. Thankfully, the fire has since changed direction a bit, so it seems they are in the clear. Besides, I know the blaze has been receiving the highest priority response, given its proximity to such a heavily populated area, so presumably it will be fully contained soon.

But what does this all have to do with food? Well, yeah, nothing so far. Who thought food would be such a difficult theme to stick to? Today I am finding food especially uninspiring as I'm still stuffed from yesterday. Since I'm sure you're dying to know how it all worked out, and because I need to tie in the topic, here's a quick rundown of my efforts:

It turns out that although my sangria was indeed a bit scary, it got yummier the more I drank. Next time I won't use as many oranges and I'll save room for soda water. Oh, and I will so ditch my "secret ingredient" - rose water. It's great in ice cream (mmm... my favorite Persian dessert), but in the wine it just made me think I was drinking soap.

On the other hand, the jello shots were ideal, causing me to wonder why I ever over complicated the recipe in the past. The remaining shots are calling to me from inside the fridge but I am on seal call in just two hours. I know as soon as I give in to temptation the phone will ring with a drive on rescue. And if I resist it will be a quiet night.

The corn muffins were, as usual, a big hit. I'm particularly pleased that this time we had the forethought to store the left overs in the fridge. (Being very cheesy they are quick to grow mold...) And I think the mild version was yummy but I haven't yet done a head count to see if one flavor was more popular than the other.

The peach and pineapple salsa and the cobbler were also both great. In fact, Erik enjoyed them so much he refused to take them to his brother's, ensuring he'd have plenty for later. The cobbler was indeed runny and, in fact, also undercooked, but it made for an interesting, if unintentional, consistency. I mean, really, you can't go wrong with fruit and sugar and crust, right? But I could've done better. And the salsa could've been hotter, for my tastes, but you just never know how hot those serrano chilies are until it is too late, so I played it safe this time...

Ironically, once again my 4th of July lacked any corn on the cob. Though we always buy plenty of it, Erik never seems to make it around to grilling it. This twisted tradition would be funny by now if it weren't so darned tragic.

Meanwhile, the half flat of strawberries and the watermelon suffered similar fates of being not worth the prep time they required. The watermelon will be delightful on another day but it seems the strawberries aren't saving well. I know this is because I get them from the biggest farmers at Farmer's Market, thus they are simply not as fresh as the other more expensive vendors... When will I learn that it isn't worth saving a couple bucks when you throw nearly half the berries in the trash?

Anyway, my beet and carrot salad was, I guess, too scary for my carnivorous guests. No problem there. I'm so digging the leftovers.

And then Erik's got plenty of his ham, steaks, and sausage goodies to go with the rest.

So all in all, another successful holiday. In fact, I also enjoyed the added peace of mind of being fortunate enough to trap both OC and Monkey in the house before we left for the beach. Even more fortunate was the fact that neither of them used the litter box during their captivity. All peace and no pee. Ratty Catty was, of course, on his own, but I'm sure he was more comfortable outside than in anyway. Speaking of Ratty, today, I am happy to say, I got to pet him twice - without even breaking the new "don't make Ratty pee on the carpets just so you can snuggle him" house rules. He's taken to hanging out on his old chair in its new location. Apparently it gives him a false sense of security, so I can get very close to him before he thinks of making his escape. Meanwhile, it is a tad difficult to escape from, so I have more time to swoop in. Thus I was able to get a quick swipe in earlier and a full session just now. I know this means he'll be too jumpy to approach tomorrow, but since I am leaving town in a couple days I figured what the heck...

Oh my god, I'm leaving town in a couple days. I sure hope I have a quiet seal day tomorrow so I can get some packing done. Ay yi yi...