Monday, October 16, 2006

King Kitty

My parents have been carousing out east coast way for over a week now and expect to be gone for another two. While I'm thrilled they are kicking up their heels at various east coast hot spots (you know how those relatives can party!), I'll be just as thrilled when they return. For one, I miss them terribly. I speak with my mother every day and it's hard to not be able to pick up the phone and chat. I do have to admit that my parents have called often since they left 10 days ago, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it's not just to check and see how we or the children are doing. It's primarily to see how their very pampered pet cat is doing while visiting us.

We're familiar with pets around here. We have had a multitude over the years and currently house 1 fish, 2 gerbils, 2 cats, and a dog (you'll recall I discussed her here). We're terribly fond of our pets, most of the time anyway, but we're not what I would call pet obsessed. While I have to be honest and say that pet baby talk does often pass my lips, that's the extent of the pet pampering that goes on in this house. My parents and their cat however are another story.

You could tell when they brought him over that they had many things to say. Far more I might add than I did when I left my oldest daughter with them for the first time. First, he likes only one kind of litter. My parents didn't elaborate much here and frankly, I'm not willing to test this. He also likes his litter scooped right away (who can blame him?) and then smoothed out carefully. He likes his canned food damped slightly with a bit of water; just a drop or two. He also is very fond of running water and would appreciate it if we'd run some for him often. He loves hair elastics, paper balls and, despises most humans - when he deigns to notice them that is. My husband refused to believe this even after repeated cautions. One evening soon after Tigger was dropped off, my husband tried to cuddle and pet him. Tigger allowed this at first but kept up a continuous yowl and growl. I warned my husband that this meant he wasn't happy, but he blithely ignored me and insisted that even though he sounded vicious, he was obviously enjoying being petted. The next thing I heard out of my husband's mouth was - yeah, you guessed it - "OW!". While I acknowledge that it was unkind of me, I could barely breathe because I was laughing so hard at Tigger's show of "appreciation" and "enjoyment".

While Tigger is indeed large of girth, he's no match for our portly pooch, Layla. This however doesn't stop him from asserting his superiority and demanding acknowledgement of his illustriousness. This acknowledgement hasn't come easily to Tigger, but he is undaunted in his quest. When clear submission wasn't forthcoming, he waited until she was in her crate for the night, went up to the grilled door and lambasted her. The fact that she was sleeping was unimportant. He hissed. He growled. He batted at the door of the crate. This seemed to satisfy him, although to all who have witnessed this battle, Layla remains unimpressed and unlikely to call Tigger "Your Majesty" any time soon.

As Tom Petty said on his album "Wildflowers", it's apparently good to be king, even if only in your own mind.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sisterly Affection - Part Two

R- eldest daughter - 22
C- middle daughter - 17
M - delightful, engaging, and intelligent family matriarch

The Scene: Evening at a typical American family home. Light filters down over 3 people playing UNO at a dinner table while waiting for expected guests. Joyous laughter is heard and giddy happiness is evident on their faces.

R: C, it's your turn to shuffle.
C: I hate to shuffle.
R: Okay, it's still your turn to shuffle.
C: No. I hate to shuffle.
R (groans in an exaggerated fashion): Oh, please. Give me a break! It's your turn to shuffle!
C: (stubbornly) I hate to shuffle.
M (reaching for cards): Here. I'll do it.

M shuffles the cards in a graceful as well as adroit fashion and deals a hand for each player. Being that R is the next person clockwise from C, it's her turn.

M: R, go ahead. It's your turn.
R: No it isn't. C didn't shuffle, you did. It's C's turn.
C: I'm not going. Mom shuffled for me.
R: It was your turn to shuffle! You didn't. Mom did. Therefore, it's your turn to go first.
C: Mom shuffled for me, therefore it's your turn to go first.
R: No it isn't! You did not shuffle. Since you did not shuffle and mom did, YOU go next!
C: I'm not going to go next.

Let it be clear at this point that there is an innocuous UNO card showing. No "Wild Card Draw Four", no "Skip", no "Reverse" or "Draw Two". There is no harm evident for the player going first.

R: (R has what appears to be a teasing grin on her face, but it is belied by the cool, steely look in her eyes.) Fine. I'm leaving if you're not going to play properly.
C: (shrugging) Okay, go ahead. Whatever. I'm not going first.
M (Calm, collected demeanor starting to crack): What are you two going on about? Someone go next!
R: I'm not going next.
C: I'm not going either.
M: Who cares who goes first? Someone take your turn!
(M takes a look around the table at her daughters. She looks a bit wild and honestly can't even remember why they wanted to play this foolish game in the first place. She takes a calculated risk and, crossing her fingers behind her back, asks C for her cooperation) C? Why don't you go ahead?
C: (C looks over to her mother and decides to be helpful and gracious) Okay.

Play resumes - finally.

Scene closes (thankfully!!)

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Well, after weeks of procrastination, half pint jars of apple butter now grace my shelves. The house smelled lovely all day yesterday as the apple butter simmered. Quite a change from the smells I'm normally accustomed to facing each day. As a small sample of the olfactory goodness that is my home I give you two examples: the dog (please tell me why their breath smells the way it does?) and the shoes of the youngest (I'm sure I need say nothing else about that scent). Suffice to say, neither smell is quite as nice as the apple butter.

There's something so incredibly satisfying seeing those jars lined up on a shelf, isn't there? I've still got close to 20 lbs. of apples to deal with. I'm thinking that canned apple pie filling is next on the agenda. If I'm not ready to start chucking the apples out the back door for the raccoons later, I might try my hand at some applesauce too.

Laziness, as appealing as it generally is to me on a daily basis, might not be an option tomorrow.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sibling Rivalry

Oh, how lovely the children at right are. Such a picture of sisterly love, affection and assistance! Of course, the minute the illustrator's back was turned, they began arguing over who had turned the rope enough times, who had the prettiest dress, who was spoiled and indulged, who worked the hardest, who never worked at all, and, of course, that perennial favorite - who was mother's favorite. At least, ignoring the jump rope for the moment, those are the arguments that I've heard my own three daughters engage in on occasion.

Early last week, I left my youngest at home with my husband and headed off with my middle daughter to visit the eldest, who has lived away from home for over a year now. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We'd head off to the local market, pick up something yummy for dinner and dessert, and head over to her place for a fun DVD. It sounds good in theory but . . well, you'll see.

First the market. We spent what felt like hours searching the market for something that everyone wanted to eat. While it didn't help that we were there around 7:30-8:00 pm and many of the "hot buffet" and soups were being put away for the evening, it still took far longer than it should have to agree on something to eat. Finally settling on fresh pasta, fresh alfredo sauce, and salad, we headed out, happy at last. That is, until we actually got there. Once we arrived, my oldest and middle decided to argue over who was actually going to cook the pasta and warm up the sauce. I kid you not, 10 minutes tops to "cook" dinner and they argued over who had to do it. Once I put the pot of water on the stove, difficult task that it was, we spent a blissful 30 minutes or so of argument free companionship. Of course, we completely forgot that the water had been boiling for the same 30 minutes - all alone, without pasta. Upon that realization, I, once again, put the pasta in the water. This made me somewhat churlish and irritated since I'd already cooked dinner at home for my husband and daughter. Heading back to the living room with the girls to await the pasta, I cuddled my oldest on the sofa. My middle daughter took one insulted look and insisted that it had been "ages" since I'd held her that way. Keep in mind we're talking about a 22 yr. old and a 17 yr. old, who, BTW, I cuddle and hug every single day. While arguing about who got the most of my attention, the pasta boiled merrily on, completely forgotten. No one had thought to set the timer.

With the preparation of dinner out of the way, (if that's what it could be called - tortellini that was practically bursting it was so overcooked) it was time to check out Rebecca's assortment of movies and make a selection suitable for dinnertime viewing. The girls insisted that the choice of "Resident Evil", "Resident Evil: Apocolypse", "28 Days Later" and other assorted zombie films were indeed appropriate for viewing while eating pasta and salad. I found myself less than enthusiastic at the prospect of such stellar storytelling and visual mayhem. I suggested "Die Hard". Now, at first this may seem like an unlikely choice, given that there is indeed mayhem, visual and otherwise. However, the film does have a decided lack of zombies - a significant plus in my view. No deal. Caroline was adamantly against Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman at their finest. Maybe "The Ref"? Nope. Bec had already seen it with her boyfriend recently. "The Matrix" (always a crowd pleaser)? Bec and Andrew just saw it recently as well (sheesh, don't these two ever do anything other than watch films that I want to watch???). How about "Monsoon Wedding"? Are you kidding? Subtitles . . . tonight?? And so on and so on. We finally agreed on - drumroll please - a Joquain Phoenix film called "Clay Pigeons". A sigh of relief was had by all . . . that is until we actually attempted to watch the film. Oh my. A worse film you couldn't hope to find. Ever.

With dinner completed and a film partially watched before being abandoned in disgust, it was time to head home. To say I was drained and cranky is an understatement. It appeared that the stars were simply not aligned for a stress-free evening with my girls. To add insult to utter injury, the following morning, my youngest daughter informed me that the dinner I'd made sure I cooked for her and her father the night before went uneaten. The two of them decided that they'd eat out.

Life remains seriously unfair.