Friday, May 29, 2009

Sisterhood of the Traveling Cats

Moving historically provides little entertainment value as we carefully pack our most cherished belongings, lovingly wrapping that strange looking monkey sculpture Aunt Ida (or other eclectic aunt) gave you, hoping beyond hope that it might “accidentally” be shattered in some bizarre, fell-off-the-back-of-the-truck, type of accident. Some of us take the time to carefully label each box with not only contents, but which room it’s to be delivered to. Then there is the pride one feels at having had the forethought to tape a piece of paper to the door of each room identifying which room is which for your would-be helpers so as to minimize the growling, grumbling, and general grumpiness that will, sooner rather than later, be directed at you for having duped them into helping you move, yet again. Apparently there is no amount of pizza and beer that can adequately repay your friends who have begrudgingly given up a weekend to toil like slaves. One can only hope that all who volunteer can keep their wits about them, employ a sense of humor, and at least find some measure of satisfaction in knowing that you have weeks of work ahead of you not only in unpacking and decorating, but in acclimating your family’s animals to their new home.

I recall the first time we moved after having adopted our now 12 year old cats; they rode unfettered in the front seat of the U-haul with my husband. One hid under his seat, howling for the entire 45 minute ride. The other spent the trip wrapped snugly around his neck, not unlike a snake, claws dug into his shoulders, making a low, guttural, growling noise pretty much the entire way. Hubby was less than amused. Last summer when we moved, we made multiple trips throughout a week, doing what we could to lessen the “major moving” over the weekend. During one of our last trips, we decided it was time to bring the animals over. My daughter drew the short straw. When she arrived in her Jeep, she and her brother hauled our extremely displeased cats into the house where they immediately hunkered down, did a slow belly crawl, and made growling noises again, all while familiarizing themselves with the new digs. My daughter said that as usual Tazzy hid under the front seat and howled, but Sam spent the trip in a near fetal position on the floor board of her Jeep, with her mouth wide open as far as it would physically go, seemingly in abject horror. There were no noises coming from that mouth, just wide open, silent scream, kitty-panic. Monyka felt terrible, but said it was the funniest albeit creepiest thing she’d ever seen. Eventually the cats may forgive the affront of having been tortured by yet another car ride. Or they may not; I still half expect them to attempt a complete hostile takeover one night while we sleep.

Witty quip of the day: Dogs have owners, cats have “staff”. Cats are as likely to curl in your lap and purr with contentment as they are to quietly, over a period of years, plan your demise.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

And the award goes to...

It’s been said that motherhood is the noblest position one could attain. Sadly, while almost anyone can achieve that lofty goal, there is no users manual that goes along with it.

If there were parenting awards I’m positive I would get the “Bad Mommy Award” multiple years running. I’m the mom that tries to make sure all the details are covered, yet still manages to forget to get the phone number of the friend with whom my son is staying the night, then panics in the middle of the night when I realize it. I’m the mom that plans the beach trip and while remembering to pack the kids clothing appropriate to the unpredictable weather, forgets to bring or even purchase while there, the sunscreen to keep them from scorching like lobsters. I’m the mom who “takes one for the team” and takes the kids and their friends to the water park for the day, and while this time remembering and actually putting to use the sunscreen, doesn’t think to dry off my son before reapplying thus causing the sunburn he came home with because the sunscreen didn’t properly soak into his skin. Yep, motherhood is just a good time to be had by all. Or not.

My favorite bad mommy award moment was probably the time I was picking up my two older children from grade school. I was a long line of cars and when I finally pulled to the front of the school, I hurried the kids to get in and get belted, as there were a ton of other cars behind me. I started to take off and my daughter screams at me to stop. I look in the backseat and realize that my son hadn’t made it fully into the car before I started to drive away! Thankfully no one was hurt, although I’m pretty sure I was the laughingstock of the elementary school for quite some time after. Even worse was the repeat performance later that year! Recently I took my youngest to the doctor for a checkup. We discussed his allergies during the appointment and I asked for a recommendation for allergy medication as his symptoms had been acting up for three weeks or so and he’d been sniffling, sneezing, complaining of a headache, etc. Upon examination she determined it was not in fact allergies, but rather a nasty sinus infection he’d been suffering with for the last three weeks. I’m pretty sure I’m a front-runner at this years awards show. My awards are currently on display on my mantel.

Witty quip of the day: “The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.” - Frank A. Clark. My kids will simply run screaming to the nearest therapist. We’re hoping for full recoveries.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mommy, what's courtesy mean?

The golden rule: treat people as you would have them treat you. Common courtesy: a more modern way of saying the same thing. We seem to have lost sight of the simple concept of treating one another with even the tiniest morsel of respect. Remember when you would run in to the grocery store for milk and bread, and upon reaching the checkout line, the kind lady ahead of you would invite you in front of her as she had an entire cart full? Or getting to a stop sign at the same time as another car and having them wave you through for no other reason than it was the polite thing to do? We said please and thank you and goodbye upon ending phone conversations. Somewhere along the line we seem to have lost our ability to execute random acts of kindness, and with it our sense of courtesy has vanished as well.

Last Sunday, I stopped at Costco to get gas and typical of any weekend, it was packed. There were 3 cars ahead of me in line; the first two were at the pumps, a third waited ahead of me. The car ahead of him finished and was able to pull around the first car. The car ahead of me pulled forward, and just as he put his car in park, the first car pulled away. Imagine my shock when the car ahead of me failed to pull to the forward pump and allow me to pull in behind him. I watched dumbfounded as this idiot got out of his car and removed his gas cap. I rolled down my window and with a smile on my face, asked him if he would mind pulling forward. He looked at me and said “no”. Naturally I handled his belligerence with my usual tactfulness and grace. I responded sweetly with, “and why the hell not?” He replied, “You can go around!” I then asked him “how am I supposed to squeeze my full size truck between your car and the cars next to us?” He ignored me. At this point I noticed the attendant standing there witnessing this exchange. I threw my hands in the air as if to say, “Do something!” The little weasel walked away! I nearly yelled “(insert synonym for cat here)!” but remembered my 11 year old in the seat next to me. “I have bigger testicles than HE does!” I muttered. So I squeezed my truck as close to that man’s brand new Infiniti as I possibly could and pulled in front of him. My first instinct was to block him in. Full size truck, lots of cars, not a problem! Instead I took the high road and stood there while fueling, staring the jerk down, daring him to say something further. I got back in the truck and my son informed me that he was watching that man and he saw him point at me and say the “b-word”. I just smiled and explained to him that since the man didn’t have the guts to say it directly to me that it wasn’t worth worrying about. Logan said, “What a jerk, mom”. “Yes,” I agreed, “but some people are just too miserable to be nice to anyone else.”

Today’s witty quip, well really more of a question: Is common courtesy not only dead, but buried six feet under and decomposing?

Saturday, May 16, 2009


McDonalds has attempted to go all fancy-schmancy on us with their newest offering: the McCafe line of espresso drinks. It’s not enough that they’ve long since cornered the market on all manner of questionable foods; be they fried, battered, grilled, limp or stale. Now they are threatening to snag a share of Starbucks' niche market. Sacrilege! We northwesterners know our coffee. You can’t package slop in a fancy cup, add chocolate and a spritz of whipped cream, market the snot out of it as a “Café Mocha”, and expect us to slurp it up like so much, well… coffee!

Added to the indignity of a grown man ordering a “McSomething dripping in grease” and being asked by a grossly unimpressed, pimply faced, ball of attitude whether he’d like to upsize his meal in order to quicken the quadruple bypass lurking at the end of that triple cheese burger and super-sized fries, is the fact that now you can upgrade your meal and instead of downing a mere seven thousand ounces of Dr. Pepper, you can insult your taste buds further by choking down a McLatte, or McMocha instead. Seriously, am I the only one affronted by this desperate attempt at grabbing up more of our hard earned dollars via one stop shopping? Next they’ll offer escargot, pesto pasta, and sushi. It’s not enough that our culture is addicted to their fatty, white flour, white sugar offerings, now they’ve added espresso! Actually, it’s not a terrible ploy. A tad diabolical for a so-called family restaurant chain, yet an idea with merit nonetheless.

Anyone who regularly dines at McDonalds likely doesn’t have a palate mature enough to know that Coffee People, Seattle’s Best, and Starbucks serve upper end coffee that is not only palatable, but also thoroughly enjoyable. Or better still, there are independent espresso shops, which not only allow us to support local entrepreneurs but afford some of the more delightful coffees currently available. Oh and the best part? One can order a favorite coffee drink without having to add a stupid moniker to it such as the “McCafe”.

Today’s witty quip: ‘Scuse me… where’s my latte? Get a life people! Part of the fun of experiencing our world today is the idea of choosing several different venues in which to spend our time and money. Don’t limit yourselves to the one stop shop, get out there and live!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And More Critters

I have this vague memory of being 6 years old and living in eastern Washington in a little duplex that while small and not particularly grand, was always spotlessly clean and tidy. My mother would wash my long hair in the kitchen sink while I stood on a chair in order to reach. Looking down at the floor, I remember seeing what had to have been the single largest cockroach in all of Washington State. There certainly couldn’t have been another anywhere that would rival this sucker in overall breadth and girth! Between the screeches and screams, my mother managed to capture that wily creature and save it in a jar. I don’t remember my stepfather being terribly impressed at my mother’s prowess. I also don’t remember us living there for much longer. When I was seven we moved to Portland and to this day I have no idea why. Perhaps my parents heard rumors of Portland’s dwindling cockroach population.

It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I recall any further incidents with Mother Nature’s bizarre critters. At that time we were living in a small and yet again extremely well kept house in North Portland. My mother discovered that a possum had taken up residence and built herself a lovely nest in our attic. My newly divorced mom called upon the services of my friend’s father to assess the situation. His idea of “dealing” with the problem was to take one of his rifles into the attic and shoot the offending invader. I was DEVISTATED. I could not imagine the MURDER of one of God’s innocent creatures being the agreed upon option. There was no explaining to me that possums are evil, vicious rodents that carry a myriad of infectious diseases. I was inconsolable and didn’t speak to my mother or my friend’s father for at least two weeks.

This event may have spawned the guilt my mother unquestionably experienced considering the vast number of stray animals she allowed me to drag through our home over the next two years. There were a pair of rats from school, a pregnant cat who birthed 3 sickly kittens, another three kittens we adopted, the full grown cat who adopted us, the dog, the pregnant guinea pig, oh and lets not forget the chameleon. Ok the chameleon we actually purchased from the pet store. However the kittens liked him far more than we did and sadly his life wasn’t fated to be lengthy. Did you know that chameleons lose their tails when frightened? Huh. Me either.
This brings us to the Witty Quip of the Day: “just say no!” Make this your new mantra. Regardless of how many times your children haul some bedraggled, mess of a cat/dog/guinea pig, etc. into your home, just say no. Practice makes perfect!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sarcasm? Yes, please!

It’s been said that sarcasm is a society’s lowest form of communication. I am quite sure I disagree. Without sarcasm most of us would have no idea how to communicate our irritation at being asked pointless and blatantly thoughtless questions. For instance, when being seen in the emergency room why must the doctor’s first query always be, “and how are we doing today”? Really? I’ve been known to respond ever so patiently with, “well I can’t speak for you, but I feel freaking fabulous”. Had I been without my natural affinity toward the sarcastic, I might have responded with the typical, “fine thanks”. I’d rather have to explain some bizarre sexual injury than answer an asinine question with platitudes. Oh wait, I did have to explain a bizarre sexual injury. Who knew sex with one’s spouse would one day provide an entertaining, albeit slightly humiliating, story? That however, is a tale for another time.

I will allow that sarcasm employed while addressing one’s superior, or during a job interview may perhaps be somewhat under-appreciated. Although one must admit that at its finest sarcasm is humorous, witty, quirky, and fun to those of us with a modicum of intelligence and the ability to converse in an educated and reasonably well-informed manner. It’s even more amusing when sarcasm is employed toward the dolt whose most recent reading material was likely the graffiti surrounding the bathroom stall at this week’s hottest “it” club.

Stay with me for a moment and ponder the following: when asked a ludicrous question, is your knee-jerk reaction to answer in a kind, patient, and eloquent manner? Or like me, do you automatically respond with a witty quip designed to let the stupid-question-asker know that he or she could have answered their own inane question had they simply dusted off the old brain for oh, say a nanosecond?

One of my favorite one-liners came from a friend’s daughter, who with a deadpan expression and voice lowered somewhat ominously, calmly quipped, “I will point. And laugh.” to a person having stated their intent to do something incredibly stupid with an outcome destined to be humiliating. While the offending party may have been less than amused, nonetheless the sarcastic witticism will live on ad infinitum. I admire that kid’s quick wit and often biting humor. Reminds me of someone. Can’t imagine who that might be.

Today’s Witty Quip: “Why get high when there are other ways to achieve a smug sense of superiority.” – Sarcasm, Group

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fun with Surgery

I will admit that usually there isn’t anything particularly humorous about someone we care for having surgery. What is however, often extremely funny albeit quite embarrassing to the patient, is the often bizarre reaction to pain medications. Now I’m not talking about allergic reactions here, I mean I’m not sadistic. I’m talking about how while hopped up on narcotics, apparently anything goes in terms of voicing their opinions. While sober, most people possess that natural filter which supposedly exists between brain and mouth. While drugged up though, suddenly a patient gets free license to voice whatever random thought wanders into their addled minds.

Case in point: my father recently had a full knee replacement. This type of surgery is pretty major and requires large quantities of narcotics in order to manage the pain along with a two to three day stay in the hospital during the first part of recuperation. At two days post-op I called my dad to see how he was faring. After speaking with my mom she laughingly passed the phone to my normally extremely controlled, and dry-humored father. The conversation started typically with the usual pleasantries and questions regarding his recuperation, his pain level, and whether the hospital staff was treating him kindly. Suddenly without provocation, he declares that his wife, my mother, is “a lucky woman to be married to him”. I hear my mom in the background agreeing with him… I’m certain I didn’t detect sarcasm there at all. He tells me how she’s been taking good care of him except for the night before where she nearly yanked his catheter out by mistake. His accounting of this affront was the following: “I said, WOMAN! Watch out! I am not a PULL TOY!” I very nearly wet my pants.

Speaking once again to my mother, we decided that my dad on drugs was the most fun we’d had with him in a long time. At the very least, he was providing much fodder to be used during future torment at his expense. He will ever be much appreciative of our lengthy memories and tendency for rehashing his various exploits at inopportune times.

Witty quip of the day: “DARE to keep parents off drugs”. Or don’t. They can actually provide loads of entertainment value under the right circumstances.

Friday, May 1, 2009

BBQ Lighters and Clever Children

Our youngest was always a clever child. At eighteen months he knew how to operate the VCR better than I did. He would put in his favorite movie and using the remote would fast forward to his favorite part, then watch, rewind, and watch, all without the pesky assistance of his parents. When he was two and a half, I installed the usual child-proofing paraphernalia such as the door knob thingies that spin in circles unless one were to depress the buttons on either side in order to engage the actual door knob. He went around behind me and removed them, handing them to his father when hubby couldn’t get into a room. Yes, our child had talent. Alert the press! No one else’s child could be nearly this clever! Shortly thereafter came his most accomplished act of cleverness to date.

Always careful to store lighters so there was no risk of his getting to them, one evening I erred. Having used the BBQ lighter to light candles in the living room, I thought I’d put it back in the cabinet before going to bed. I was wrong. I awoke at 5:00 the next morning to the sound of the smoke detectors screeching their dire warnings. Given it was the middle of winter and we had baseboard heating, it wasn’t uncommon for dust to get caught in those baseboards and smolder causing a bit of smoke to set off the detectors. It had happened before, so when the alarms sounded that morning, I didn’t panic. Upon investigation, imagine my shock and horror to find my loveseat engulfed in foot tall flames, and my two year old standing lighter in hand, a few feet away. The look on his face was at least bemusement; at most it was sheer awe.

Having no fire extinguisher, I dashed to the kitchen to get water while yelling for my oldest son to come help me. Ryan stumbled in bleary eyed, saw the fire, and started doing the hands-in-the-air-monkey-dance! Not helping. I shoved a 7-11 Big Gulp full of water into his hands with instructions to “dump it on the sofa”, and quickly filled another cup as well. We managed to douse the fire, haul the offending sofa out to the carport, flood the scorched carpet, and then survey the damage. After a call to hubby to let him in on the festivities and assure him there was no need to come home from work, I showered, dropped the kids off, and went to work. Oh, the clever part? Even though technically this was an act of arson perpetrated by my own flesh and blood, our insurance fully covered the incident and we thanked Logan profusely while picking out the new carpeting, and for the new furniture as well. We have been known to rent him out on occasion, just in case you were wondering.

Witty Quip of the Day: Fire Extinguishers; get one. I hear they are far more effective than Big Gulp cups.