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Sunday, April 27, 2008

What's left over

OK, fair warning...

This post is about poop and pee. Really. So, if that's going to gross you out, may I suggest pineapples or nene? Those posts don't involve poop at all and are escapist besides. Imagine yourself in Hawaii. See, isn't that nice?

For those of you who are ready for poop, here we go:

As I have pointed out on more occasions than most people would ever want to hear, we have too many pets. It's not that any one of them makes for "too much." Rather, all sixteen paws add up to more paws than our four feet can manage.

Let's have a roll call, ok?


Ah, there she is. 14 years of fussy but sweet kitty.


Oh, look Halo brought her meerkat lovah, in somewhat the same way that Dawn Denbo brought her lover Cindy everywhere on The L Word this season. Actually, it's not really the same. Halo and the Meerkat only had the one tryst and it was documented on my trusty Rebel. Halo is going on six and is a svelte six pounds.

Biscuit? Scout?

We've been calling Biscuit "cockerdome" recently because the last time I got her groomed (really, shaved down, but it makes me feel better to have spent $50 on something called grooming than on something called shaving), I asked that the groomer to leave the top of her head alone. I wanted it left alone because it sometimes can be formed into a forelock that makes Biscuit look like a member of Spandau Ballet. We may have sung (in her "voice") "True" a few times.


Doesn't she kind of look like the guy on the left?

Anyway, the groomer said, "oh, you want me to leave the cocker dome." Thus, Biscuit has become "cockerdome." We may have noted on an occasion or two that she is "beyond cockerdome." Ok, that was my only Mel Gibson reference, I promise. Biscuit is four.

Scout, the most junior member of the quadrapeds, is going on two. He still has a touch of puppy mange and is one of the sweetest dogs I've ever been around.

So everyone is accounted for. Lovely.

Lately Calif has cemented her status as "pet most likely to put waste in inappropriate places." We have one rug that gets washed with so much frequency that the washer must really feel bonded to it. Whether this plot loss is a function of senility, spite, or some combination of both can only be known by the Calif litterbox committee of one.

A few weeks ago I was wearing my slippers and Biscuit came up and started to gently remove something from the bottom of the sole. When I jerked my foot away from her, I noticed a dried piece of cat poop. I had cleaned some up earlier in the day, but must have missed this one (by conveniently stepping on it and fusing it to my slipper). I immediately threw those slippers away. It wasn't a great loss. Still.

Biscuit manages to absent herself appropriately, but her devotion to cat poop as a snack may exceed her devotion to the squeaky football. We call it almond roca. Did I ruin almond roca for you just now? Sorry.

Halo mostly does as she should litterbox-wise, her destructive tendencies are more claw than waste based, so I need to give her some props. Ha-lo. Ha-lo.

All of this brings us to Scout. We were out-of-town last week and Scout and Biscuit went to "dog camp." When Honey brought them home last Saturday, he ran into the house and lifted his leg and peed on the side of the couch. Since then he's peed on the kitchen trashcan twice, my bathroom rug once, and I stopped him from peeing on one of the chairs in the living room. All this from a dog we got housebroken in two days. We've got theories (adolescent male dogness, a bladder infection, kennel-based psychosis, and inaccessibility of preferred backyard pee spots because of yard overgrowth). Whatever the cause, he's making me unhappy.

Last weekend, while doing yard work in the aforementioned overgrown backyard, I found poopland. I shoveled and shoveled. There were hundreds of poops that had previously been obscured by the overgrowth.

All of these pet waste issues compound my frustration over the continued, but not catastrophic, malfunction of our champion toilet.

It won't stop running. When your champion toilet isn't functioning like a champion, it may be emblematic of a larger problem.

There are no simple solutions to managing waste. Therefore, I suppose that my wish for everyone is that your waste management goes smoothly. In the meantime, if you're looking for me, I'm probably washing rugs, coaxing a toilet into stopping, or frolicking in poopland with my poop slippers.

Thus endeth the poop post, appropriately enough, in poopland.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thoughts on two city traveling

I'm back from my travels. Here are some thoughts of a Monday morning in reference to the U.S. cities I visited.

#The Atlanta airport has too many words in its name. (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport)

#Delta is still the best mainstream air carrier. I heart me some Lance crackers.

#Captain's wafers with cream cheese and scallions eastbound. Whole wheat with cheddar westbound. Mmm.

#My dad's classic car is cool, but the gas fumes made me a little sick. Did people stay a little sick from gas fumes all the time prior to catalytic converters?

#It's weird that one of the best Philly cheese steaks I've ever had (and yes, I've had them in Philadelphia) is made by people from the Indian subcontinent at a strip mall in Atlanta.

#Getting from Atlanta to San Diego by way of LAX is a pain in the ass, but my Honey made it seem easy.

#Should you have occasion to stay at the Sheraton Marina in San Diego and the front desk person says, "we'll put you in the Bay Tower," please know that you will be in an entirely different hotel. And it will sucketh.

#Downtown San Diego looks a lot like Waikiki. Too much like it, really, only cleaner, less crowded, reachable by car, and with fewer one-way streets. There are fewer street performers, unless you want to count drunk people.

#Petco Park is a great place to watch a ballgame. There are no pets there. The food was good for ballpark food. None of it was kibble.

#People should not be preparing to be stupidly drunk at 8pm. The Gaslamp district was full of people whose paths were clearly about drinking a lot then getting arrested.

#Boring conferences are boring.

#Hard cider at a cool Irish pub will help make the boring conference go away. Leave early, though. (cf. drunk people)

#There are a lot of places that sell fancy cheese in San Diego.

#Most of them also have fancy jam. The jam will probably be more fancy than you want, if your jam tastes are anything like mine. The jars will be pretty, though.

#Did all the cheese stores used to be book and record stores? What will happen to the cheese stores when someone figures out how to internet market fancy cheese?

#I'm glad to be home.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Travel details

It's easy enough to get lost in the details. Is my airplane seat where I want it to be? Is my ipod charged and loaded with things I'll like? Do they have my Starwood Preferred number?  Which suitcase should I take?  Can I deal with how stupid the van for Parking Spot is?

Without descending into another "travel used to be better" reverie, my fixation on the details has made me wonder about what it was like when the details didn't matter.

I think sometimes about what it was like in those long sweaty summers where I had to go the Baptist "day camp." There was little to look forward to, really, given the Baptist (at least the ones who ran the camp) tendency toward, "go play in the creek and catch crawdads if you can." These Baptists were not so much into structured day camps. Trapped by the creek for days on end, the very idea of traveling seemed better than Christmas. We'd get in the car and drive to the beach. I looked forward to it, despite strong evidence that it wouldn't be as fun as I hoped. Because my brother and I couldn't get along in the car, one of us would often be banished to the "way back" of our VW station wagon, underneath which was the engine. In the South.  In the summer.  Without air conditioning. Still, a trip was a trip was a trip and at least I didn't have to go hang out with the Baptists for a week.

Next week, as you might guess, I travel. I travel from one coast to another and back and then down this one some away from where I live.  I've worked the details. Somehow, I can't access those feelings of anticipation  I used to have. I try to comfort myself that this trip will involve no time on top of the engine of a mid-1970s Volkswagen 412 station wagon.

Still I can't help wishing it felt a little less like staring into green water looking for the crawdads I could never catch.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A tale of flames and boxing

When I first started my current job, I took on a fight. I meant to take it on, but I didn't have any idea how outmatched I was. I got beaten up, knocked around, threatened, and told I was ruining civilization itself. In sum, I lost. Badly.

Recently, I encountered a problem to which I offered a simple solution. Here's the rub; the problem occurred in the same arena as my lost fight. I knew I was stepping close to the edges of that fight, but I had allies now, knew where the punches were likely to come from, and really wasn't starting up the fight again.

Last night, I found out that the old opponents, unbeknown to me, had stepped into the ring and started punching me. To say I was angry was an understatement.

Sigh. I miss Madeline Kahn.

Anyway, I was furious. Flames on the side of my face furious.

There is nothing, and I do mean nothing, I hate more than having my integrity questioned. Nothing.

It was being questioned. Beaten up, really.

I thought about what to do. I backed up and looked at what I wanted to have happen. The problem is not solved yet, but I pushed it out of the boxing ring and sent it down another road. I have back-up. I have firepower. I haven't yet used my fists or my guns, but they're loaded and ready. (Am I taking this metaphor too far? It's all rather martial, admittedly.)

Four years and a lost fight can make a difference in perspective, but I also think I've gotten pretty good at what I do. Late this afternoon, in another context entirely, a guy I'd been having a little trouble with of late, came up to me and said something really nice just because it occurred to him. I know external validation is fleeting. In that moment though, with this other issue on the road I prepared, I felt good.

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you figure out what you're good at and somebody lets you do it. Still and all, if someone can tell me how to protect my integrity from attacks, I'd be grateful. Bubble wrap? Plastic couch covers? Maybe it needs boxing gloves?

It's real--my integrity--even if not everyone can see it. That is also true of my invisible friend.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


A couple of summers ago, as is my wont, I traveled to the beach with books I had carefully selected over the course of several months. As is also my wont, I didn't find any of them satisfying as beach reading. The level of my restlessness at our annual beach trip with my family would rank high on any machine designed to measure such things. I'd love a machine of that type for myself. I could tune it on on various people and see how tense/restless/about to flay their skin off they were. It would be much easier that reading the tension in the corners of people's eyes.

Anyway, the place where we usually go to the beach has just the one bookstore and prominently features authors from the South Carolina lowcountry. (It drives my copy editor Honey wild that there is no consistency in how one "styles" (as she would say) those two words referring to the swampy beachy part of the more southern of the Carolinas). I'm not a big fan of most Southern writing, post, say, Yoknapatawpha, so the lowcountry fare wasn't going to do much for me. I chose, instead, a book called The Ruins. I didn't like it, which was a pleasant serendipity for Honey, who promptly started it and then recounted the plot to me when she was done.

I liked her telling of it much better than the 30 pages or so that I read of the book itself. Now, if you pay any attention to the current movie releases, you'll know that it has just been released as a film. The LA Times review described it as: "depressingly inert and blithely gruesome." The basic story of the The Ruins centers around killer ivy that eats you inside out.

Killer ivy should not be confused with Poison Ivy.


That's Poison Ivy.


That's killer ivy that eats you from the inside out.

I think I ended up reading a Spanish novel whose name escapes me right at the moment at the beach that summer.

Flash forward to this morning. I sometimes read the Sunday paper in what we call "the middle room."

Aside: does everyone have these kinds of labels for rooms? When I was growing up we referred to one room in our house as the "green room" even though it wasn't. I do understand it had been at one point.

Anyway, Honey and I are two people with many more pets than we need. We also have more bedrooms than we need. The "middle room" is a very small bedroom that we've turned into a sort of denette. I like to use it sometimes to escape the various technologies in my life. So, this morning, I retreated into it to read the paper. I was finishing the travel section (always my last section--paper section preference sorting is important to me) and I rolled my head around on my neck as I sometimes do.

As I did so, I noticed a vine. A vine. IN THE HOUSE. Poking out from under the blinds. Killer ivy. In the retreat room. It had grown THROUGH the window. Ok, really, it had grown through the gap in our 50 year old windowsill, but still.

Ten minutes of mild effort and I pulled all the ivy off the side of the house and Honey got the inside ivy into the trash can.

I'm not sure what lesson to take from all of this Sunday drama. One, lesson to be learned certainly focuses on using the middle/retreat room more and scouting it for unauthorized plant life more often. Another is that neither Honey nor I should really be allowed to own a home if we can't control our ivy.

Finally, for those of you who see me IRL, could you keep an eye out? If I start looking like that girl in The Ruins, help me somehow. Calling me "depressingly inert" might be a place to start.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I feel as if all I'm doing lately is complaining on my blog. Might as well continue the theme...

Can anyone explain to me why I keep getting little cuts on my hands?

I've eliminated the glass-shards in my soap dispenser theory.

I moisturize regularly.

Are little cuts on hands also a function of turning 40?

I'm not going to start wearing gloves.

I band-aid and disinfect them.

Some cut causes are known.

Others cuts simply appear.

My hands are less than pretty, what with the cuts, the band-aids and the little teeny scars.

I have not started a new job in a razor blade factory.

Ok, maybe gloves.

Any other ideas?