Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the birds and the bees and the story of the spider

So my neighbors moved away last month and as I anticipated, their renters are not filling the bird feeder that sits atop our shared fence. As much as I miss the avian activity, I am comforted to know that things are apparently now a bit more challenging for OC, my beloved serial killer. I haven't seen him munching on a headless carcass in a good while. I've also noticed he's been coming inside more often, looking to play with me. He's bored. I benefit.

In addition to having less bird blood on my hands, I've also found myself in the position to save a good number of bees lately. I keep finding them in the tide line, struggling, dragging their worthless wet wings across the sand. I'm not sure why they are anywhere close to the ocean (very little flowering vegetation nearby) but I figure it's the wind that pulls them to the shore. Escorting them to the dunes has added considerably to my exercise and I'm happy to report that I'm finally on track with the whole excavating my real self from my fat self plan.

Funny enough, the bees started appearing just before I got up the nerve to give my contact info to the honey boys at Farmer's Market. I am hoping to become an amateur apiarist this summer. I'm told we need 15 more inches of rain before the bee farmers will need volunteers. So here's hoping for April showers and May flowers.

And though I've been good to the birds and the bees, I must say I am feeling a bit blue today for what I did to the spider. I discovered him on my desk this morning and while it was clear his plan was to flee like a well behaved arachnid, I was inspired to introduce him to Monkey. This was, I guess, pretty harmless as Monkey soon lost the trail. Feeling sorry for my pathetic indoor kitty, I decided to help Monkey resume the hunt (a couple of different times). He seemed excited. They appeared evenly matched. All was right in the world.

But a few minutes later I noticed the spider limping across the kitchen floor. Monkey had either lost track of him again or let him go. Surely this is the part where I scoop him up in my spider catcher and put him outside, right? Wrong. This is the part where I grab Monkey and have him finish the job. I knew right away that I had made a poor choice. Monkey was having fun, sure, but the spider wasn't. I cringed when I saw that he had crawled into a crack in the wood floor. I poked at his little legs hoping he was just hiding but he was not. He was dead. And I killed him. I have felt horrible ever since.

I was glad Erik was awake to serve as his pall bearer (removing dead spiders is so definitely penis work). And I immediately called and confessed to my sister and my best friend (you can take the girl out of the church, but you can't take the Catholic out of the girl, I always say...). My friend counseled that it was a valuable learning experience. She's very zen that way. My sister distracted me with niecelet, Grace. I told Grace I was sad cuz my cat had chased a spider and it died and she responded, "My cats can die. Lucy died. And Chet died, too." Poor Grace. She's got so many pets to watch pass. She's particularly cute about Lucy, though, that horrible dalmation that no one else loved. I'll never forget the time she called and told me, "I'm going to tell you a story about Lucy. I was worried about her. And then she died." Oh sweet Grace.

Anyway, Erik says I have to let the spider go. It's just mental clutter. Like the $6 Costco rebate I failed to use last year (if I drunk dialed you during the Super Bowl I am sure you heard all about it - repeatedly, apparently) and the $10 coupon I forgot to use at Ralph's when it was new so many years back. But then he went and reminded me of the crickets I bought for Fabe when he was an indoor city kitty. They crawled into the dark corners like roaches and Fabe showed no interest in them so I'm pretty sure he didn't actually kill any. Over the next two weeks we ended up tossing them out the window one by one. I'm almost certain that they died on impact after suffering virtual starvation. Sure, they were feeder crickets, but I think somehow the fate they had on Curtis Street was worse than death. So of course, remembering the crickets has made me feel worse, not better.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

here's hermit

This morning's distraction was last night's action, a super skinny sea lion named Hermit. He came off the drive on beach some time around 9 pm last night. The cute little bugger got a tube feeding and a transport courtesy of my fabulous Saturday crew. He was so adorable it was hard to think of him as mere sloppy seconds.

Other than the presence of Hermit, the day proved uneventful. I haven't cleaned my bathroom. I haven't folded my laundry. I haven't even considered beginning purging the kitchen or the closet. Okay, well, obviously I considered it, cuz how could I mention it without considering it?, but I roundly rejected the idea, I suppose. And worst of all, I haven't taken my walk. I put my sneakers on, I got my jacket out, and then I sat here. For an hour. Realizing I have nothing to blog about and thinking how very cold it looked outside.

So now it is an hour colder. My life is no more interesting than it was before. And I am going. Right now. To take my walk. Dammit.

Friday, February 01, 2008

i love it because it's trash

I've never really questioned before why I feel such a fondness towards Oscar the Grouch's theme song, "I Love Trash" (it's even on my iPod), but after spending nine days going through my own stored stuff, I realize that I apparently share Oscar's love of trash. "Anything dirty or dingy or dusty, anything ragged or rotten or rusty...", it was all there in my precious storage tubs. I am embarrassed to admit how much refuse and recycling I have generated by finally getting rid of things such as used wrapping paper, raggedy clothes, and old utility bills. I parted with half finished crafts - my pine cone flowers, some papier mache possibilities, and crusty glow-in-the-dark paint (though the papier mache penguin has earned a temporary reprieve). I've tossed greeting cards and bank statements, shoe boxes and bubble wrap, worn out rubber bands and dried up balloons, spiral notebooks, empty gift baskets, my fat clothes, my skinny clothes, and, of course, old magazines. I wouldn't be my mother's daughter without a bunch of magazines around. I wish I could feel free of my stuff after all the hours spent purging, but since much of it hasn't actually left the premises yet, I just feel more weighed down than ever. Despite using the absentee neighbor's trash cans last week and starting the purge the night before trash pick up, we still have quite a backlog. Thank goodness trash day is on its way around again. Monday's pick up won't bring us back to zero, but any breathing room will be welcome.

My reward? I found lots of treasures. Like the comic above. Notice how I used white out to create my Dad's former comb over? And how I wrote "Just kidding!" on the bottom? I wasn't really kidding.

My favorite, though, is this gem, the note Jules and I gave Erik to order take out for us from Max's Opera Cafe. Why he had to be deaf, I don't know. But it sure was cute watching him go along with the gag and then giving him flack for clapping when the singing stopped. And the quote from the waiter, "White bread, you look like you like white bread," is forever precious.

Anyway, I hope never to amass quite as much crap again. To remove temptation, I went paperless on almost all my bills last year. I even have hippie grocery bags now, though I have yet to use them. (They are actually just my collection of tote bags, pulled one by one from the storage tubs and made useful all of a sudden.) Clearly I am not a true hippie, however, as I still resist flushing my flushable cat litter. This choice then necessitates the presence of shopping bags, a vicious cycle I haven't quite figured out yet... Anyhow, I do think I have gotten a handle on my spending so I shouldn't be bringing new stuff in. I don't cruise thrift stores or garage sales (okay, so the thrift stores here all suck, and, yes, I did buy an air hockey table at a garage sale last year but that was just down the street and I only stopped cuz I saw the table...) and I don't visit eBay. Erik isn't as optimistic as I am, but I don't blame him.

In addition to shedding stuff, I'm working seriously on shedding pounds. I'm still trying to figure out how to lose weight and drink alcohol at the same time. It's working, but I know it would be working better without the booze. I think I will give myself through the Super Bowl with the bottle and then try to put it away until my wedding anniversary on Leap Day (for which I have already bought champagne). Baby steps, right?

Erik was laughing at me because I found it interesting that many of my favorite bloggers are also trying to shed clutter and weight. Erik pointed out that it may be the type of personality that wants to blog also collects crap and calories. Smart fellow, that one.

Though the purge was physically and emotionally grueling, now that it is mostly done, I can say it was worth it. Erik will be happy to get to reclaim some garage space at long last. I remember he was so pleased when he first set it up as his home away from home. All he had was two recliners, a stereo, his surf boards and his tools. Then the construction started and my stuff (which used to be in the laundry room) came down to the garage. I'm pretty sure it was breeding there in the dark of the laundry room cuz it seemed to have multiplied. Anyway, I am trying to respect Erik's "man space" especially since I was touched by a recent episode of Snoop Dogg's Fatherhood. Apparently even Snoop Dogg is reduced to hanging with his homies in a shed in his yard. Poor men. What a price to pay for the ability to pee standing up.

Anyway, I haven't been completely without seal action. Usually a good rescue story inspires me to blog, but I guess not this time. Maybe cuz I didn't do much? On January 26th I got to help pick up Stocky, a 50 kg sea lion, from the rocks of the jetty. I didn't bother to go down and get photos of him with my own camera so thanks to my good neighbor rescue pal for this shot. Notice how he's hard to find? They'd already called off the search before I got there. They'd been soaked by the crashing waves (larger than usual - it's been stormy) and had been told the animal was farther down the jetty than he was. Someone in the parking lot saw us putting away the net, though, and pointed us in the right direction, so I didn't miss a thing. Anyway, sadly Stocky is already toast, suffering uncontrollable seizures up in Sausalito.

On a happier note, I learned that they released Castelanetta and Jiffy. Jiffy's bit of good news came as a shock to me cuz he really needed his eye removed and he was most likely a long term domoic acid victim too. When I was told they probly wouldn't do the surgery, I figured they probly wouldn't do anything, if you know what I mean. And it's such a difficult call - whether or not a sea lion with brain damage can really thrive in the wild - I thought they'd err on the side of euthanasia. Glad he got a second chance, though I wouldn't be surprised if he shows up again.

I was bummed to find out that I missed the first ever (to my knowledge) stellar sea lion brought in from our county. Poor thing was super skinny and just a pup (though he was already the same size as Stocky). After seeing the pictures, it was no surprise to learn he died soon after making it to Sausalito. It made me a little less jealous that I missed getting to work with him.

And of course the 25th, the day before Stocky's rescue, was my 3rd sadiversary of Fabe's death. I've actually been more emotional about Blackers lately, having found his baby picture while sifting through my stuff. And tonight, as if to remind me of the horrors of the outdoor kitty, OC caught up with me on the tail end of my walk and cut in front of two cars in the process. I'm sure I looked like an ass, walking down the middle of the street trying to block for him, but I didn't want my cat to get run over (again) and I wasn't sure they could see him. Ay yi yi. But he really is so happy outside. Sigh.

And a couple days after my seal action, on the 28th, Grace had her fourth birthday and Billy had his 33rd. Apparently I haven't come up with a birthday tribute idea for this year (having also skipped my sister's in November). I'm lame like that, I guess. So Grace had a party at the zoo and rode the carousel there a whole bunch. She loves a carousel, that girl. She called and told me all about it. It's so awesome that she calls, even though I still can't understand all of what she says and she often tries to show me things over the phone.

In the meanwhile, I've made some decent progress on my law school efforts. I have secured two solid letters of recommendation. A friend offered to write one last year and I finally approached my former boss this week. I was sweating his response because the company has a no recommendation policy, but I preemptively argued that this was a different sort of recommendation. It's for school, not work, and besides, I don't even get a copy of the letter (unless he wants to give me one). So I'm just about ready to pop the question to my third and final potential recommender, my former TA. He actually inadvertently started this whole purge cuz I knew I had saved my midterms from his class - somewhere. (I found them early on in the process but continued cuz I was on a roll.) In the letter I haven't sent him yet I told him that I hope the archived midterms speak more to my resourcefulness than to my hoarding disorder, but I fear the truth is closer to the latter.

And, as if I haven't been productive enough, this morning I got our taxes done. This year I took the time to pay attention and realized I probly overpaid a bit the past few years. I'm always in a rush to file so I have a tendency to make the calculations before I have all the pieces of the puzzle. This year I waited and realized I could take an extra deduction or two. Of course soon after I mailed off our returns, I realized I could've taken yet another deduction for Erik's union dues. Whatever. Next year. I freak out about having to pay an extra 2 cents for gas, but somehow I can't let myself obsess on giving the government more than its due. So the extra time I spent was worth $71 and I was surprised to see we are getting a total of 8 grand back. And I know I say this every year, but we really do have the potential to be free of credit card debt by the end of 2008.