Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lemonade Stand

I’m trying to make lemonade. I’m doing a pretty good job of it, but I will admit I’m a little tired from the effort. I’d try to sell you a glass, but it’s not that kind of lemonade. It’s the kind you make when life hands you lemons…

My holiday plans were radically shifted when my father became very ill one night. He’d been working on it for a few weeks, gradually losing his apatite, feeling very nauseated, and, because he does love to share such information, NOT POOPING. My father has very few boundaries.

Sunday night, he was in so much pain, my mother woke Tam at 2:30 and said, “Pop needs to go to the hospital.”

Fast forward to the ER doctor saying they need to transport him to Portland immediately, because he needs surgery and their surgeon won’t be there for another week. “He will not live if we wait.”

Things get a little confusing here, because my mother insists he was taken by helicopter, while Tam says they went by ambulance, running lights and sirens the whole way. Whatever the method of transport they used, Pop lost consciousness twice on the way due to pain.

When they got to Portland they rushed him into emergency surgery where they discovered a ruptured duodenal ulcer, approximately 3 centimeters in diameter (about the size of a quarter). The surgeon had never seen one so large, and called in the other surgeons on his team. They all agreed it was the biggest they’d seen and now they had to figure out how to fix it.

Long medical story short, they patched him up, drained off the fluid in his abdominal cavity (about three liters), blasted him with heavy duty antibiotics and stuck him into ICU, where he stayed for two nights (and almost ended up there for a third, because the old fart kept pulling tubes out of places they needed to remain). Good times.

My mother, whose grip on reality keeps shifting without warning, has been spending a lot of the time being very sad (understandable, unless you’ve been a witness to the skirmish they call a marriage for the past 65 years). All of a sudden, they’re back in love and she’s a weepy mess. It’s kind of weird, but whatever.

We ended up staying with my dad’s sister, Aunt “This Looks Bad”. Seriously, she can look at your hangnail and make you want to end your life before it does. Every time my cousin called, she’d say, “Oh, honey, it doesn’t look good…” even though I told her he’s only in ICU until his blood pressure stabilizes, but otherwise things are going fine.

She and I had many long chats, and I will freely admit she was very helpful with my mother, and I’m extremely grateful for her allowing us to stay in her lovely home. But… she’s a little shallow at times. We were talking about my plans and what my schedule is for making it happen. I said I’m working on it as quickly as I can, but when I’m called away for things like this, it does hinder my progress. I had also mentioned that I work on my manuscript in the mornings before I go to work because it’s the only time I have right now.

That’s when she suggested I “put [my] little book project on hold.”

Put my “little book project…”

Little. Book. Project.

Oh, yes she did.

The sky fell, my world screamed, and my heart wept. I went numb. I smiled and said, “I only work on it in the morning, or after I’ve exhausted myself getting the house ready and I need to stop.”

She barely acknowledged my words, just reminding me of what my priorities are, or what she says they should be. Then I was informed that I will not be able to take care of my parents and I need to put them in a home, because she knows what it’s like.

Funny, people tell me that, but people don’t really know what I’m capable of doing or how strong I really am. I held back my desire to write while I raised a family and it nearly ended me.

I work in a job where I’ve come home with concussions, jammed fingers, and bruises in the shape of footprints on my chest, all from out-of-control students. Yet I went back. I lifted, changed diapers on students almost as big as I am, and kept a wild child from injuring several students just by speaking calmly and gently.

I’m not normal. Most people don’t have jobs with those things in the description, so to tell me I can’t do something because THEY can’t do it makes no damn sense to me. Seriously, would you approach a cowboy and tell him he can’t ride a horse because you tried it once but it was too hard and you fell off? Or telling a nurse she can’t give shots to people because YOU’RE afraid of needles???

Yeah, that’s kind of what it feels like to me. People who haven’t been doing what I’ve been doing for the last ten years are telling me I can’t do what I’ve been doing, only with my parents instead of students. I can’t do it because they couldn’t do it.

So. To all those folks who think everyone is equally skilled at every damn thing, have some fucking lemonade. I’m gonna go work on my “little book project.” 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Taking a Look Around

I’ve been busy. Work takes up an inordinate amount of my time, which is a shame, but since it pays the bills (or most of them, anyway) and my writing hasn’t quite reached that level, I’ve got to keep the job. Money is more than a little tight, and my parents have decided they can’t help with expenses, even though they promised they would do so when we were working on getting the house. Ok, I’m drowning in debt right now and it sucks. Like a lot. And I’m a little scared. But I have a job…

The manuscript is coming along. Editing is taking a great deal of time, since I’m trying to be more careful and not let some of those “brain bumps” slide by. It takes a lot more effort and energy on my part, but I’m pretty sure the final outcome will be worth it.

Moving has hit a low point, however. I’ve been working on trying to get the place in order, but there is so much stuff here, stuff that isn’t even mine, that I’m more than a little overwhelmed. It’s taking a lot longer than I expected, which depresses me, which slows me down, then I have to leave to take care of the parental units, so I lose time working on the house, which depresses me, and stuff doesn’t get done, which depress—you get the picture. I’m a little depressed.

Here’s the deal: these are first-world problems. I have a job. I have a home (well, technically, I have two of them, which is one too many, but that’s a twisted tale filled with “are you fucking kidding me?”)

But these are problems only those with plenty can claim.

Yes, my life is currently a shit-storm of messy, but I’m whole. My children were able to grow up without fear of being blasted into oblivion by a car bomber (although there was always that fear in my heart of some lunatic gunman coming onto campus and fucking everything up), there was food on the table and a roof over our heads. Our vehicles were usually functional, and if one went toes up, I was a stay-at-home mom who could drive the man to work and pick him up again if I needed the car for anything.

Life wasn’t perfect, but it was good. It still is.

Life isn’t perfect, but it is still good. I have so much, and a great deal for which I am thankful.

And I just realized that I am lucky.

If my house wasn’t so full of other people’s stuff… if there was room in my house, I would be happy to host a refugee family. I would do my best to give them some security, shelter, and whatever they need that I have.

But the place is a wreck and stuff is piled everywhere while I attempt to get organized, so I’m reluctant to open my doors to anyone. Maybe they wouldn’t care. Maybe they would be so grateful for a safe place to stay, they wouldn’t mind the boxes of stuff piled here and there, boxes of embarrassing excess that makes me want to scream and tear my hair. Maybe they could use that stuff when they have their own place to stay.

Looking around, I see now that I have so much, and I’m a very lucky woman.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Return to Home

I don’t know why I made the deal with my parents. At the time, it was the only thing I could think of that would appease their sense of upheaval, and quell their desire to run away, to head back to the place they’ve known for over 20 years. I had to promise we’d go back to get more of their “stuff.”
“I got to get my stuff,” my father would say, shaking his head on each word for emphasis. His stuff. His fucking stuff. I was sick to death of hearing about his stuff. Then my mother would start in on how I “swooped in” and took them away “without warning.”

They had warning. They had several months of warning. They had a couple of years of warning, because we discussed it and it was agreed upon. I went down to their place to help them begin the massive process of mucking out, not just their 20 years of hoarding like packrats, but the decades of organized hoarding of my grandfather. There is a LOT of stuff to sift through.

But I set them to the task. I wrote it all down, several times, exactly how they could start. I made it as easy as possible, considering their ages, and called regularly to chat and find out how they were doing. My mother always apologized for not making any progress, and I did my best to assure her that it would be ok. I’d be able to help them during the summer when school was out.

Had the house deal closed when it was supposed to, instead of six weeks later, there would have been time. I wouldn’t have had to “swoop in” and “scoop them up.” But their health was deteriorating so quickly, I had no choice. They, of course, argued that point, insisting they were “fine” and perfectly capable of taking care of themselves.

Except when my father fell and my mother cracked several vertebrae trying to help him back to his feet. Or when he fell again and they were too embarrassed by the condition of their house to call 9-1-1, but my cousin insisted they call anyway.

Then there was the day my mother could not get out of bed because her back hurt so bad, so my other cousin came up and insisted they call 9-1-1…

No, you can’t make it on your own any more, not living 10 miles from the nearest city and no neighbors within shouting distance who were home during the day. Besides, even those who were home didn’t check on them because my parents were too embarrassed by the condition of their house that they wouldn’t invite anyone over.

So they wanted their “stuff” and they only way I could keep them somewhat happy was to drag them back down so they could collect their things. Granted, my mother did not take many clothes with her that first trip. She wandered around, looking dazed and very confused, picking up loose change and stuffing it into socks that she set down all over the house.

I managed to convince Middle Minion to join in the fun, and he had enough paid time off, so he figured, “why not?” I’m sure that is a question that will haunt him for the rest of his days.

We headed south with my father constantly commenting on how long a drive it was. I took those opportunities to remind him that he thought he could make the drive himself and how difficult it would be, considering he couldn’t find his way to the grocery store less than a mile away. He would grunt his assent then my mother would ask if anyone needed any water.

Too late to put out those fires, Ma.

They were confused when we arrived at their old homestead, wondering who lived there. We greeted the cats that my mother couldn’t remember and I silently kicked myself for not making sure she was keeping up with her water intake. She had recently suffered a UTI, which I later found out can exacerbate the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s. It would have been nice to know that sooner.

We arrived on Sunday and would be there until Thursday morning. I had as much planned out as I possibly could and we hit the ground running. We had eaten a very late lunch (my error in the location of the restaurant we planned on visiting) so when we got to the house, no one was very hungry. We had a few snack things left from the trip and they assured me they would be fine until morning. Minion and I were going to stay in a motel, since neither of us felt like sharing the bed in the basement. Because, ew. I love my son, but, ew.

Besides, it was a nice break from everything going on at the house. The next morning we picked up a fast-food breakfast and coffees and took them with us to the house. That’s when I discovered my parents had eaten one of the “frozen” dinners that had been sitting in the FRIDGE for six weeks. Not only did they eat them, they ate them COLD because there is no oven in the house.

FYI, here’s some TMI for you, my mother still has diarrhea from it.

Mom and I went to town to tend to some business and then we went grocery shopping. I picked up enough stuff to get us through the next few days, planning carefully so there would be very few leftovers to haul back. I also had to remind myself that I only have a single electric skillet in which to cook ALL our meals, so they would have to accommodate those limits as well.

I’m kind of over chicken and rice, just so you know.

While I was downstairs digging out mysterious things, wrestling spiders, discovering the skeletal remains of a lizard, and searching for dresser drawers, I heard someone talking. My cousin’s wife had heard we were there and had come out to see us. She helped out, trying to keep my mother comforted and on track, and reminding me that I’m doing the right thing. She kept saying she wasn’t being much of a help, but I can assure you she was a rock for all of us. She’d been through pretty much the same thing with her father, so she knew the path well. I am so thankful for her presence during that time, and even more thankful to have found a friend in the process. One does not meet such loving and caring people every day, and I consider myself very lucky to have someone like that in my family.

She came out every day we were there, and did her best to help. My mother spent a great deal of time just picking at stuff, not gathering her clothes like I kept asking. She would find a box of very old paperwork from a job she held 30 years ago, and look at it, wondering if she needed to keep anything.

Finally my cousin-in-law took it upon herself to go into my mother’s room and begin sorting through clothes. She managed to gather enough garments she thought would fit, and get them into a box. She also picked up several bags of garbage, stacked photographs, collected loose change into a box in a drawer, and managed to clear a decent pathway to the bed. Of course, the bed was stacked with books and strange odds and ends, so my mother couldn’t sleep on it, but at least we could get to it.

I made C-I-L take the bags of garbage out of the house and hide them somewhere, lest my mother open them up and begin picking through it. When she looked like she wasn’t sure I was telling her the truth, I showed her the bags I’d left there several months ago when they were still living there and I’d come out to help them clean. They had taken the bags from the back of my dad’s truck and gone through them, pulling out canned foods with expiration dates going back to the 1990’s.

We rented the truck, which was a shock to my parents. They expected the cost to be around $50 dollars. They were off by about $350. My father nearly wet himself, and not just because he forgot to go to the bathroom. Again.

Loading began on Tuesday and while I’d hoped we’d get it all done by Wednesday morning, we were still tossing “one more thing” into the back of the truck late that evening. My father packed a HUGE box of underwear. He already had a HUGE box of it at the new place, now he had TWO of them. The man can go two months before he needs to do a load of underwear. My mother, on the other hand, wears threadbare bands of elastic with shredded cotton holding it all together. She couldn’t remember the last time she bought underwear, stating she was “from a time when you used things all the way up.” Achievement unlocked, Mom, you wore those things to shreds.

Bags of stuff: old pens, slips of paper with nothing written on them, receipts so faded they can no longer be read, gum wrappers, broken flashlights, an old stereo speaker that stopped working when I was in high school…were the things they packed. I tried telling them they don’t need all that stuff, but they wouldn’t listen. My mother told C-I-L about being swept up unawares and taken to “a home” with strange people in it and I lost my shit. I yelled at my senile mother, in front of my cousin and my son. I reminded her that we had talked about it for months, she wrote it all down many times.
“I didn’t believe you,” she finally said.
“There are no strangers at the house, Ma. It’s just you two, Tam, and Tam’s son. I’m there when I can be, but no one else lives there.”
“Are you part of an organization that does this?”
“Does what?”
“Takes in old people.”
“No, it was just a crazy thing Tam and I decided to do, and you two agreed it was a good plan.”

Wednesday night, Minion and I were toast and heading back to the motel. My mother was wide-eyed and wearing several articles of clothing, none of which matched. My father was wearing the jacket from one of her polyester pantsuits. When questioned, he shrugged and said, “I don’t know. She just came up to me and told me to put it on. So I did.”
“You look very fancy,” Minion said
“It’s too tight,” Pop said, struggling out of the seafoam green garment.
“Not your color, either,” I said, taking it from him and tossing it into the back of the truck. It was about then that I realized they thought we were leaving that night. It took me several minutes to calm them and assure them that we’d be back in the morning to get them and that’s when we’d leave.

Little did I know how much I’d come to regret that decision.

The next morning, I discovered they had taken their golden opportunity of extra time and collected more bags of crap to be loaded into the truck. There was another argument as I was attempting to clean up the cooking mess I’d left so the kitchen area would be ready for the next visit (although jut now, I realize that I forgot to pull the other unfrozen meal from the fridge, so that should be a lovely science experiment by the time I get back down there).

It was time to go. Mom was wandering around, clutching an old purse and a single shoe. “I can’t find the mate to this one,” she said.
“Mom, it’s time to go. I don’t know where the other shoe is, so you’ll need to leave it here.”
Oh, she left it, all right. She THREW that shoe across the room. “Fine!” she said, “There, now we have a pair somewhere in this house.”
I couldn’t decide if I should scold her as she would have scolded me when I was young for throwing a fit like that, or cheer because the shoe landed inside a box on the other side of the room.

She was crying on the way to the car and I kept trying to assure her I knew it was hard, and I was sorry she was feeling so sad, and I understood, but she was having nothing to do with that. She would mumble something and when Pop or I asked her to repeat herself, she would say, “I was just talking to Pop, but it doesn’t matter. It’s nothing important.” After the fifth time she did that, I had to struggle to keep from shouting, “BINGO! Another unimportant utterance from the queen of misery.”

With her mood as it was, she didn’t screech at my father for attempting to roll down the window just a little bit. He can’t quite grasp the buttons on the damn things. A light touch will allow you to control how far down it goes, but if you press too hard, the window goes all the way automatically. It’s the same with rolling it up.
“You want some help with that, Pop?”
“Ok, maybe a little help.”
“You want your window down a little bit, Ma?”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s not important.”
The speedometer inched up to 75. I was going to do whatever it took to shorten the trip.

We got to the rest stop at the halfway point and her mood had finally improved enough she could finish a sentence with a period, rather than “it doesn’t matter” or “it wasn’t important.” I found a water cup with a straw that she could use for the rest of the trip, which seemed to delight her. She kept offering water to Pop and I every five minutes or so.
“Does anyone need water? Pop? Do you need water?”
“No, I’m good. I have my own.”
“Karen? Do you need water?”
“No thank, Ma, I have mine. That’s your water. You get it all to yourself.”
“You don’t need any?”
“Pop? Do you need water?”
I couldn’t make out exactly what he said, but I’m pretty sure he was making a suggestion where she could put the water.

It was time for a snack, so I asked my mother to hand me the bag of chips. She passed it forward and my dad put a pile on his lap then offered the bag to me. I took one chip then he passed the bag back to my mother.
“I’m done,” he said.
“Hey! I’m not! Mom, could you hand that back up here when you’ve had some?”
“Ok. Do you need water?”
“No. I need chips.”
“We have chips?”
“They’re in your hand, Ma.”
“I don’t like these,” she said, rolling up the top of the bag.
“I do, and I’d like some more, please.” Pop took the bag from her, grabbed a few more out before offering me any more. He started to take it away but stopped when I growled at him.
“Sorry,” he muttered.

“Anybody need water?”

Saturday, September 26, 2015

All I Wanted Was Today

I suppose I could say today was a dream come true. Ever since Tam and I bought the hat shop, I’ve thought about what it would be like to have my parents visit. Of course, the “visit” part changed when I realized they could no longer live on their own and we ended up moving them here. That’s when it became more nightmare than anything else.

But back to the dream part…

There are places here on the coast that I find charming and I wanted to share them, especially with my mom, because I knew she would appreciate their intrinsic value and their artistic place in the universe. Being an artist, I knew she really would get it, and the thought of connecting over something so simple, yet complex, thrilled me.

Of course, things haven’t gone all that smoothly with the move. There have been moments when I honestly thought I wouldn’t survive the transition. Their behavior has been deplorable and not unlike toddlers who have been cheated out of too many naps. Except these toddlers have a driver’s license and a vehicle. Not a good combination.

Pardon my digression into hell.

Today I decided it would be a good idea to drag my mother around for a little while. She would ask to go to the hat shop on numerous occasions and then back out at the last minute. Finally the weekend arrived and I told her I was going to take her there. She was surprised, almost as if she wasn’t sure the place actually existed. Then she warmed up to the idea. When the day came, I was all ready to go, but first I wanted to show her a beautiful iron gate, complete with stone lions. I have no idea what is behind the gate, but it’s cool and I thought she’d like to see it.

Off we went, and all was going along smoothly, when I took a quick detour to a place called Oysterville. She’d been there many years ago, although she no longer remembers. We drove through the tiny lanes and bought oysters to bring back for dinner. She thought it was lovely and enjoyed every bit of it. We talked about the lovely clouds and how the sunlight looked on the water. She commented on the shades of green across the bay and how lovely it all was.

Then we headed out for the gate, and when we found it, she was duly impressed, even if she wasn’t sure exactly what she was supposed to be looking at. I admit, I missed the gate the first time through, so our angle on the way back wasn’t the best, but she saw it and liked it.

After that, we dropped the oysters off at the house, and she said she was going to get out. I reminded her she was coming with me to the shop. For a moment, I thought she was going to balk, but she decided to be a good sport and stayed in the car.

As we drove into town, we talked about Pop losing his way over and over again and we shared our concerns. I marveled at how, despite her failing memory, her direction sense is spot on. It was like that every damn time, even when I turned corners and took detours. The arterial road turned this way and that, yet, even though she is (and always will be) unfamiliar with the area, she knew immediately which direction we were heading.

I babbled our way past the gas station, and ignored the blinking gas light. We toured past the second gas station, knowing that I drive a Prius and I’ll make it the short distance from the shop to the station, even if I have to run on battery the whole way. I was having too much fun. It was exactly how I’d always wanted it to be.

After we arrived in the parking lot, we slowly made our way down the street to the hat shop. The sidewalk was a little crowded and I worried that she would become confused or frightened, but she was a champ and she finally stood before the shop in person.

I can’t fully express what that meant to me. I’d talked to my folks about it so many times, and I even showed them pictures and a video, but that’s never the same thing as being there, and I really wanted her to see it in person. Today was that day. She took her time perusing the displays, and checking out the merchandise. She wandered around and watched the customers. Finally, she got tired and sat herself in the chair we have near the back of the shop, put there for weary customers.

She watched Tam and I work the store. She got to see us chat with patrons, make suggestions for hats, and interact with a number of people. She saw how we do business, and that is something I’d always wanted to share with her. I wanted her to know that the shop is real, it’s a grown-up place. I always felt in the back of my mind that she wasn’t sure it was anything other than a pipe dream and would dissolve in the mists of morning.

Mom has finally seen the shop in person. We toured part of the peninsula together and I got to share some of my favorite places with her. There is still a lot to see and many more outings I want to experience with my parents. And now, I have some hope. It happened when we pulled into a parking lot and saw that it was the trailhead to a birding path. She said, “I’m not up to it now, but I think that’s something I’d like to do later on.”

That was the first time she indicated that she has a future here. This is the first day I haven’t felt like I was on the edge of disaster.

And that, dear readers, is a dream come true.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Adrift, Anxiously Agonizing

It’s been a difficult weekend. Nothing quite like getting disturbing news on a Friday afternoon, right before the close of business so you get to sweat and agonize for an entire weekend, and Monday morning as well before anyone can get through mandatory meetings to sift email and answer questions.

This has been ugly. One thing after another. Hurdle after hurdle, and those hurdles have teeth. And it can still end if the seller says, “fuck this. We’re outta here.” I wouldn’t blame them in the least and I hold no animosity toward them if they do pull out.

All things considered, I’ve held it together pretty well, but I can pretty much guarantee you the first person to say, “If it was meant to be, it will be. Maybe this just wasn’t meant for you,” or, “god has something better in mind for you,” is going to find breathing difficult and my hands will probably cramp waiting for them to stop struggling.

Seriously, that platitude of “if it was meant to be, it will be” is a one-way ticket to a special place in hell, a place forgotten by gods and demons alike, where only the denizens of shattered dreams and “just out of reach” and “snatched from the palm of your hand,” dwell.

One does not go looking for a house, sees a listing with the required number of bedrooms and bathrooms and says, “Yeah, this will work. We’ll take it.” One (generally) shops around, looks through houses and mentally puts themselves into these places, fitting their lives in the surroundings, seeing if it will fit. They check out how the sunlight comes through windows, how the floor plan flows, if it’s a quiet location, or surrounded with noise. They put themselves in these places and when they find one that fits, they are suddenly bonded. They’ve found their home and they know they want to be there.

Then the paperwork starts and the lender begins to ask for obscure items that may or may not be easily accessible. Misfiled taxes have proven to be my Achilles heel and a single form now stands between me and the house where I wanted to bring my parents to live out their lives in comfort and safety.

The paperwork snafu is going to be our undoing, and it has hit us pretty hard. Getting the news late Friday meant we had a whole weekend to drown in the questions of “what do we do now?” and “can we even fix this?” It feels much like watching the rope being pulled up just as your lifeboat gets close to the rescue ship. Adrift with no oars or motor. One thing I hate is feeling directionless and with no answers coming from those who don’t work weekends (lenders) I had no way to stabilize my emotions and things got bleak. Very bleak. At least now I recognize that feeling I’ve been having for years is anxiety. I never realized it until this weekend. Putting a name to it gives me a little bit of control. I still feel horrible, but I know I’m not dying, I just feel like I am. Being without direction makes me very anxious.

It took me two and a half days to come up with another plan, but I did it. I stood up and threw a fucking rock at the Universe and told it to get the hell off my lawn. Moving here has been pushed back. Fine. I’ll get my house ready for market first. As soon as it sells, I’m outta there, heading to my parents’ place in Oregon. We’ll get their place cleared out and on the market, although they already have a potential buyer for their place, so it may not take too long.

Once their place sells, we find a spot on the coast and cash out the deal, cutting the lenders off at the pockets. Fuck them. Fuck them all. They’ve been digging through my shorts long enough and I’m done. The sellers are done. We’re throwing our rocks and chasing the paperwork out of the yard. My anxiety keeps shifting to anger and the rocks keep getting bigger. The one I’ve been held under is next.

I can’t wait to throw it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Home Sweet Homes

Who said buying a house was simple? Anyone? Anyone at all? No? I thought not, and I can assure you, those words, in that order, will NEVER pass through my lips. EVER!

A simple miscommunication started this whole thing off on the wrong foot. Well, that and the fact that my stupid tablet wouldn’t allow me to transfer much-needed documents to the bank’s website for uploading to the loan gods. So, everything had to go via email, and for the most part, email is pretty damn quick, unless the recipient is busy with other things (imagine, someone busy doing things that AREN’T my loan application) then email can be slower than hell.

But, the miscommunication was odd. I had mentioned the phrase “closing date” several times in various emails during the process, yet it wasn’t until we were 10 days away from said “closing date” and I asked (at the firm behest of my realtor) how things were going because we were getting close.

It was at that point the lender said, “What? You signed a contract? You have a closing date? I need that paperwork now!”

Oh, that was fun.

Toss in the old, “we don’t lend unless you’re going to live there full time” bit, so I had to explain that my parents would be living there full time and paying part of the mortgage. THEN I was told it would be better if they were included in the whole deal, so we had to pretty much start over with their stuff, and since they don’t have a computer, it got even more complicated. I won’t tell you what happened when I mentioned the shop. Gawd…

Sprinkle in the suspected early stages of dementia for my mom, a trip to the hospital for my father, and a host of other memorable disasters, and that pretty much sums up my summer so far.

And, as of today’s date, we STILL haven’t closed. Have I mentioned I signed the original contract in May, and our closing date was supposed to be July 1st? It’s August and we’re “going to be cutting it close” to the extended closing date of August 10th. “Cutting it close” were the exact words the loan processor used.

No shit. I'm not sure, but that just might mean we have the loan. Of course, nothing is certain until we sign the papers, and that hasn't even been arranged yet, so who knows? It could all fall to pieces at the very last second. I love having that hanging over my head.

But one of the most stressful aspects of this ordeal is the houses in which we currently reside. See, the house in which my parents are living is one my grandfather built. The property holds many of my childhood memories, as well as those of my children. It is near and dear to our hearts, but there is no way we can manage the property from 400 miles away. Then my mother got a phone call from a friend who said there is someone interested in the property, if they’re interested in selling…

In a way, it’s an answer we need, and a way to move forward, but my mother is a packrat/hoarder and there is a LOT of stuff that needs to be sifted through and dealt with. I’m a little overwhelmed at the thought of it. But I will miss that place; that land of spring breaks, summer vacations, and the wonder of watching my children experience rural living for a few weeks every year. Feeding chickens, geese, turkeys, goats, tending the garden… All the things I got to do with my grandfather, they got to do with their grandmother. My father is, and always will be a city boy, but he showed them the joys of “fixing” stuff.

Then there’s my home. I’ve lived there, off and on (more on than off), for my entire life. My parents brought me to that house when I was six months old. I raised my children there from early grade school to graduation. Talk about memories.

But I must sell it and my heart aches. That house has sheltered me and kept me safe for many years. It has watched over my family and my pets since before I could remember. If someone were to dig up the back yard, they would find many skeletons of dearly beloved pets that were killed on the busy street, because back then, there were NO indoor cats, and every dog I’ve ever owned there has figured out how to get out of the back yard and many of them died tragically.

Some memories are not sweet.

As hard as it was, I finally came to the realization that I do love that house, but there is no way I can manage the upkeep by myself. The yard is large and complicated, the house is in need of repair, and I don’t have the money right now to do it. Unless I win the lottery, that money will not be in my bank account any time soon.

So in the name of moving forward in my life and letting go of the past, I’m selling my childhood home. I’m not selling the memories, just the house in which they live.

I can almost write that without crying. Almost.

I know it’s for the best, and to be honest, when the house sells, the debts to the shop will be cleared, and we can even boost the account and upgrade some fixtures, increase inventory, and expand our online sales. Be successful.

It is all good, and positive, and for the best, and, and, and… the ache in my heart for the home I love is deep and painful. What I want is for someone to buy it and love it, and fix it up and make it beautiful and love it as much as I do.

It deserves that much for all it has done for me over the years.

Monday, August 3, 2015


The other evening, we were hanging out at home doing important things like goofing off on the computers. It was just the six of us: Tam, me, and the three stooges (Freya Fish Whore, Thud the Wonder Lump, Meow, and Shrieking Chaos (the bird, not a stooge)).

It was quiet and we were all doing our own things. Tam was playing a game, I was editing my novel, and the cats were high as hell on a spilled bag of catnip. In fact, the cats were stoned to the point of seeing tracers of air molecules, and had finally settled down to watch the show.

It was quiet. It was calm…

Until a moth flew into my face, then spun around and attempted to go spelunking in my nasal passages. I forced its exit with loud noises and waving my arms.

Shrieking Chaos split the air with her special alarm and the cats went into action.

Freya Fish Whore and Thud the Wonder Lump attempted to perform the “elevate 10 feet off the floor and extended every piece of fur to the fullest” maneuver. This would have been quite spectacular, except Thud the Wonder Lump was under the rocking chair, and Freya Fish Whore had been chillin’ in the cat cave, an upside-down box we acquired from the lovely folks at Costco. The rocking chair moved a few inches, and the box was lifted to a respectable height. Meow, while not quite so acrobatic, utilized her claws effectively on Tam’s body while opening her eyes to the size of dinner plates.

Tam staunched the bleeding on her arm while we both laughed rudely at their antics.

Freya Fish Whore was the first to recover and demand answers. “ACK! What? What? You see monster? What monster? Where monster?” she asked from deep inside the box that was now full of fur. “It must be huge for you to make such a noise. Why you not run away?”

“It was a moth, and I don’t need to run because it is all gone. It flew over there.”

“Moth. Moth. Moth,” Thud muttered. I think his ears were still ringing from the bonk he acquired when he attempted 10 foot leap while under the rocking chair.

“I SEE IT!” Meow said. “I see ALL of them! Wow, they’re SO PRETTY! LOOK! PRETTY! I’m going to chase them.” Unfortunately she missed her agility roll and took a bit of a detour to the floor next to the chair. “I’m all right,” she said, her voice muffled by the bag that caught her. “Oh, hey, nap time.”

Thud the Wonder Lump slowly crept out from under the chair and began tapping the floor, looking like something out of a blond mine-detector joke. Tap, tap, tap. Creep forward, tap, tap, tap, all the while muttering, “Moth, moth, moth, ACK! Nope. Moth? Moth. Moth! ACK! Nope. Damn, my head hurts.” Every time I twitched my foot, his fur would stand on end. My foot was very twitchy for a few moments.

Freya Fish Whore gave me a dirty look, then came over and rubbed her bottom on my bare shin. “Here,” she said, giving her tail a little shake, “I saved this part especially for you. Oh, and you gonna wanna check your shoes for a week, maybe more. I might have surprise for you.”

So, I’m still not a cat person…

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Parenting My Parents

I had to take my parents to the SSI office a while back. They have reached a stage of life that requires a lot more attention from me and I think I’m handling it well. At least I thought I was, until that day.

We got to the SSI office at a decent time and the waiting room was mostly empty. The friendly security guard smiled as he asked for my purse. “Any knives or weapons?” he asked.
“Uh, I don’t think so,” I said, mentally wondering if nail clippers were considered weapons. Of course, my entire purse is a rather formidable weapon due to its size and weight.
I cringed as he opened each zipper compartment, digging through months of grocery and gas receipts, loose change, pens, and the rest of the crap always finds its way into the depths of my purse. Including the tiny key ring knife I’d forgotten about.
“You can’t have that in here,” he said, smiling and handing me my bag. I watched as my parents tottered off to find a place to sit.
“Uh, ok. I’ll take it to the car.”
“They’ll be fine. I’ll keep an eye on them,” he said with a smile.
“It’s not them I’m worried about,” I muttered.
When I got back, he told me I needed to check in at the computer. “You just need to enter a social security number.”
“Does it matter which one?” I asked, “We’re here for both of them.”
He shook his head. “No, they just need to know you’re here. Then you’ll answer a few questions on the computer so they know how to help you.”

I got the ticket with our number: A239. I won’t forget that number. Ever. My folks had saved me a seat, right between them, which was good since they can’t sit next to each other without fighting. As soon as I sat down, the interrogation began.
“What’s our number?” Pop asked.
“A239,” I said, showing him the ticket.
“Oh, that’s good, we’re almost next.”
I looked at the list of numbers on the display screen. A236 was being helped, as well as B327, C483, D519, and E611. Yeah, almost next. The room wasn’t full, but there were several other people.
My mom leaned over. “What’s our number?”
“Does that mean we’re almost next?”
They called A237. My parents’ excitement was palpable until they called C484 and my father’s head nearly exploded.
“Why didn’t they call A238?” he demanded. “Why did they call a C number?”
“Because those people were next in line. The alpha part of the system is for auditing purposes so they can figure out what people came in for the most. We still go in the order of arrival.
“Oh,” he said, and resumed staring into space.
My mom leaned over. “What number did they call? Did they call a C number? Why didn’t they call A238?”
I decided to forgo the explanation I’d given to Pop. “Because they want me to cry.”

A few minutes passed and they cast the net for someone in the B section. My mother leaned over. “Ask your father if he knows where the bathroom is.”
“Pop, do you know where the bathroom is?”
“He knows,” I whispered to my mother. “It’s right around the corner.”
She looked annoyed. “I know that, I just want to know if he knows where it is.”
“It’s right around that corner,” I told my dad, pointing at the sign.
“I know that!” He said it so loudly, a few people, including the security guard, looked over.
I just smiled and turned to my mom. “He knows.”
“Ask him if he needs to go.”
I debated for a split second then threw caution to the wind. “Do you need to g-”
“He’s good,” I assured her.
They called another number that wasn’t ours.
“What’s our number?” Pop growled.
“What’s our number?” Mom whispered.
I bit back the urge to scream. “A239.”
My mother looked puzzled. “Is that the number they just called?”

When they finally called us up, I turned to my parents and said, “I’ll go over and get things started and let them know we’re here. You follow me there, ok?” They nodded.

The lady at the window was very polite as I explained what we needed. “But this isn’t you,” she said, pointing to the social security number I’d given her.
“No, that’s my dad.”
“Is he here?”
“Yes, he’s right…” I turned to see two empty chairs next to me at the counter. Looking into the waiting area, I saw my wayward parents, all the way across the room, sitting primly in their seats, looking angelic as they stared into space. “I’ll be right back,” I muttered, hurrying over to my parents. “What are you doing?”
“We’re waiting for you to finish up so we can go to lunch,” Mom said.
“No. I need you at the window. I can’t do this without you.”
“Well, I was told to stay right here,” Mom said, looking smug.
“Not by me, you weren’t,” I glared at Pop, who was busy ignoring me. “Let’s go to window 3.”
Mom stood up handed her purse to Pop and started over to the window. “He’s going to wait here,” she said
“No he’s not,” I said, trying to keep my voice even. Turning to my dad I said, “Come on we’re at window 3.”
“Naw, that’s a long way over there. I’ll just wait here.”
“Well, that won’t work because you’re one of the reasons we’re here in the first place. I need you to come with me.” He didn’t budge. “Now.”
“Oh. Well, ok then.”

A few moments later, we sat down at Window 3 and the nice lady asked for social security cards and photo ID. Pop had his out in a heartbeat and plopped it on the desk. Mom began digging through her wallet. She pulled out a library card.
“Nope,” the lady said.
AARP card was next.
“Nope,” the lady said.
“What about this one?”
“Nope. That’s car insurance. I’m with that same company,” she added with a smile.
The pile grew before Mom came up with her Medicare card and the lady pounced on it.
“I can use this; it has your social on it. Now I just need a driver’s license or state ID card.”
And that’s when my mother pulled THREE driver’s licenses out of her wallet and put them on the counter. The clerk and I looked at the pile then at each other.
“Oh,” I said, “That’s not good.”
“Nope,” the lady said.
I picked up the expired license and both valid ones. “Why do you have two of these?”
Mom thought hard. “Well, I think I lost one a while back. So I got a new one.”
“Then you found the other one?” I asked.
Her face brightened. “Yes! That’s what happened.”
I turned to the patient woman behind the counter and smiled. “I’m driving,” I said.

“I’m relieved,” she replied.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

This Time, It Wasn’t the Phone.

A nap. That delightful suspension of animation and wakefulness blissfully surrendered to the call of Morpheus. That same thing we used to resent and fight against in our youth now beckons with open arms and promises of relief.

Unless you have a phone, then a nap is that wonderful state you reach right at that same moment someone thinks they must contact you. I love attempting to speak when I’ve been pulled from slumber. My conversations sound something like, “nnnaahhhmmmm-ello?” “Hi, did I wake you?”

Why would anyone ask that? I mean, seriously do I ALWAYS sound like that when I answer the phone? Because if I do, then I should head out to see a neurologist, STAT! I realize it is just the caller’s way of connecting with understanding and perhaps allowing me a few more seconds to wake up, or the chance to say, “Yeah, you did” and let them gracefully offer to call back in, say, 45 minutes or so.

However, my mouth does not cooperate with my desires and cannot form words other than, “no. m’wake.” This is usually accompanied by the sound of me attempting to regain the ability to speak coherently.

This last time, though, the phone stayed blissfully silent and sleep began to settle in for a much-needed reprieve. I was just about there, when most of the air was exited from my lungs by sudden pressure and highly localized pain in my midsection. That happens when a 15 pound cat notices I’m in “the chair” and leaps onto me. Following the initial discomfort of the arrival is the unpleasant “getting comfortable” phase, which is only comfortable for the cat.

Once she was settled and relaxed, I allowed my brain to once again disengage. Just as the last worry fluttered off to trouble someone else for a little while, THE OTHER CAT realized her sister was EXACTLY where SHE wanted to be, so she took the leap onto the heap. This caused a great deal of reorganizing and a do-over of the “getting comfortable” routine, only this time it was times two, and “cooperation” is not a familiar word to cats.

Me: “Oh! Hey! Can you please not stand RIGHT THERE, because you’re hitting a nerve and making my leg twitch.”
Freya Fish Whore: “She’s in my spot!”
Meow: “No I’m not! You’re just jealous because I was up here first!”
Me: “Actually, girls, I’m the one who was up here first.”
F.F.W. and Meow: “Shut up.”
FFW: “This isn’t about you.”
Meow: “This is OUR business.”
Me: “This was MY nap!”
Meow: “You call this a nap?”
Me: “Not any more. In fact, I’m thinking of calling this a slumber party, only without the slumber and not much party, either. I’d really like to have a nap.”
FFW: “You know nothing of naps. You wanna learn about naps, you gotta talk to a cat. Cats know naps.”
Meow: “Hey! Don’t touch my tail. You know I don’t like that.”
Me: “I didn’t touch your tail.”
Meow: “I wasn’t talking to you. Here, have my butt in your face while I chastise my sister.”
Me: “No thanks. I think it may need some attention. From you, not me.”
FFW: “She has the worst ass-crusties.”
Me: "I can see that. It's disgusting."
Meow: “Silence! Both of you!”
Me: “Ow! You’re on my boob!”
Meow: “Yes. Now I must make it squishier.”
Me: “No! That is not comfortable.”
Meow gives me a squint-eye and a feline shrug and begins to settle down with a purr.
FFW: “She’s going to put her bottom on your arm. All those ass-crusties right there on your furless flesh! Eeewwww!”

I still need a nap.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My "R" Word

There is a campaign out there to make people stop using the word “retarded” to mean anything less than perfect, anything awkward, anything unliked. I’m all for it and I’ve been doing my best to help those around me rethink their word usage. It’s not easy. It’s like using the word “gay” to mean anything less than perfect, anything awkward, anything unliked.

I’m sensing a pattern…

Anyway, this post isn’t about the misuse of the words “retarded” or “gay” (and I’m putting them between quotation marks to indicate their significance, not because I think they’re… less than perfect, awkward, or unliked). This post is about the word: “Remember”.

As in, “We already talked about this, ‘remember’?”

I found myself saying that over and over again when I was visiting my parents and every time I said it, I would mentally slap myself because NO! They don’t “REMEMBER”.

Every time that word would slip out of my face, I’d regret it and wish I could take it back. But it was out there, dancing around whichever parent I was talking to, sticking its tongue out and echoing, “remember? Remember. Remember?!” in a sing-song voice. If I hadn’t been so impatient and exhausted, I would have attempted to formulate less hurtful ways to remind them that topic had already been discussed and we’d reached a conclusion. They just needed to be reminded of the conclusion in a much kinder fashion, but it’s not easy after the 100th time reminding them of something.

Three times explaining to Pop that “We are going to the Mexican restaurant but we have to stop at the bank first. Remember?”

Multiple times telling my mother what I needed her to do. “You need to find a bucket to empty the cans into…remember?

“We’re going to take this load to the recycle and this load to the dump, REMEMBER?”

“We already went through this pile and it’s ok to throw away. REMEMBER?!?

So many times that word slipped out because I was not thinking and I just couldn’t…remember to stop.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Line in the Dirt

It’s not rock bottom, rather it’s that thick, nasty quagmire of stinking mud. Still a ways to go before rock bottom, but not far and not pretty.

That’s what I’ve hit.

I hit a few other things as well. Not directly, just by throwing some shit that lay within arm’s reach. Plus the pile on the floor that used to be on my desk. And the broken plastic container that used to house a tiny shredder. And whatever that thing was on the shelf that got taken out by some flying object just heavy enough to do damage and scatter anything it hit.

It started with pressure; pressure to give more and care less. Pressure to just turn the other cheek and say "whatever" whenever someone asked for something, or just fucking took it, without so much as a "thanks for the stuff."

And I sat there, without a backbone to my name, and let it happen. “Whatever,” I’d say and wish I really felt that way, wish I could say “not gonna happen” more often and stick by it. But I try to be nice all the time and saying “no” when people are in need isn’t nice.

Still, the pressure built with all the little nasty picks and pecks at me and my paycheck. I’m always being asked for my time, my money, a little more here, a little more there. People are always asking, and always with the assumption that I would do it and I wouldn’t mind because I rarely say “no.” I’m a nice person; I hate seeing people struggle and suffer.

Apparently I’ve not been looking in the mirror, because I’m having a bit of a struggle myself. Pretty much every cent I earn is taken away, either through bills of my own or food purchases that I share. That’s when it finally dawned on me that if I wasn’t reaching out to help everyone else, I might actually be able to live on my own paycheck and make ends meet. I could even have enough to buy a cup of coffee once in a while without first thinking, “Ok, I can do without something this time” or “I’ll put this on the card and worry about it later.”

Screw that. I’m done.

I’m done waiting for mercy from those who take. I’m done. I’m done. I’m done. I’m drawing a line in the dirt and I’m taking mercy on myself. I can’t expect others to lift me up when I know they have their own issues, so what am I waiting for? This is my money. This is my house. This is my time. And I’ll spend them on ME. I’m supposed to get pre-approved for a loan to buy a house, which I will do (at least I will try to get the approval) so my parents and my partner will have a place to live. I do this willingly and without hesitation (except for all that damn paperwork). I do this out of love and affection for my parents and Tam.


I’m done with charity. I’ve given and given and gotten very little, if anything, in return, and quite frankly, that blows.

I’m standing up, taking my sword and drawing that goddamn line in the goddamn dirt and saying, “This is mine.” Then, I’m going to attempt a step forward where I’ll draw another line and another and another. And I’ll keep drawing lines until my backbone has grown in and I really no longer care if people think I’m a bitch.

Because being nice has gotten me so far in life.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Just Getting (It) Out

After some debate with myself over a sinkful of dishes, I decided to write this post and let the chips fall where they may. I will accept the consequences of my actions.

There have been several posts on facebook throughout the years where folks put on their high-and-mighty panties and stomp about, waving Old Glory and shouting things like, “If you love America, then thank God or get out” or “If you can read this, thank a Veteran or get out,” or, “If you don’t salute the flag, then get out.”

Fine. I’m out. Out as in I’m coming out of the non-flag-saluting closet. I’m getting it out of my system and off my chest.

Because I work in a public school, the class is expected to stand and salute the flag every morning. It’s the American thing to do, and I’m ok with that. You can shout the pledge to the skies, and I will support your right to do so but, while I may stand with my hand on my heart, I’m not saying the same words.
I believe America was once a great place, filled with wonderful people and amazing opportunities, and technically, it still is. But instead of having the people in charge, greedy corporations have taken over and this land of the free is becoming less free and more oppressed. We are becoming less educated because we cannot afford higher education. Public education is being destroyed by standardized tests created by people who don’t know the first thing about how kids learn in a typical classroom. We are becoming chronically sick because we cannot afford health insurance, healthy foods or the medication to treat illness or maintain good health. We stick our political nose into everyone else’s business and send our war machines to make sure they do things OUR way because we’re so right about everything.

Yes, there is a lot to be thankful for in America, and I’m thankful for a great deal, but do not shove your opinions in my face and tell me if I don’t agree with you, I should leave.

Maybe it’s time for YOU leave. And take your greedy corporations with you. Perhaps those of us left behind can do something to restore this country and heal this land. America has been trashed with McMansions, muscle cars, and money, and then if that wasn’t enough God gets dragged into the mess and that’s supposed to make it right.

Love God or get out.

I’m just curious to know what your God would say when you tell him you kicked your fellow citizens to the curb because they had different feelings about things than you do.

Love America or get out.

Yeah, yeah, I’m still here. I’m still a citizen, and I don’t plan on changing that any time soon. But I still won’t pledge allegiance to the flag, because my allegiance isn’t with politics or religion, it’s with the land and the people trying to keep it from being totally lost under asphalt and hyperbole.

I pledge allegiance to this land
Of the United States of America,
And to the people who dwell within.
As one nation,
Let us stand,

For liberty and justice for all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Adulting 101

I’m almost thinking I should change the blog name to Adulting 101, but I’m going to be learning this stuff along with you all, so… I’ll just leave things the way they are. At least I’ll know SOMETHING has remained the same.

I’m becoming my mother.

Wait, let me rephrase that… I’m becoming THE mother. Of my mother. And my father. I’ve become their protector, their advisor, their liaison, their advocate.

And I’m really ok with that, even though it’s not happening quite the way I’d imagined. Somehow, I thought I’d be more settled, more secure, less stretched so thin you could read a newspaper through me.

Um, that last part is totally figurative, since when I’m stressed I tend to eat and I’ve been VERY stressed for quite a while now. Like, since I was 23.

But this new phase of my life kind of began with a phone call. Or more like several phone calls in which I realized my mother was starting to repeat things. Now I am well aware we all do that, but they were things we’d just talked about and even though I have been known to do that very thing on occasion, this was becoming frequent and kind of irritating. I’d find myself getting impatient, thinking she was just doing it on purpose, or not paying any attention to what I was saying.

Then it got to the point where she admitted she was forgetting things more and I began to realize she was getting older and, perhaps, there was something more going on.

My job has taught me a lot. Working with special needs kids has opened a well of patience and humor that I never thought existed in me. I wish it had been available when my children were young, but that’s another story. But I have a feeling it will stand me in good stead when it comes to taking care of my parents.

For instance, when talking with my dad, I am frequently regaled with tales of him falling down and having to crawl around “for two hours” until my mom got home. Of course, five minutes into the story and we learn he’d been crawling for four hours! Then five hours! Finally, SIX HOURS LATER he was rescued and no longer had to crawl around the patio looking for a way into the house. He has been known to exaggerate upon occasion. I guess we know where I picked up that trait now, don’t we?

Personally, I think the old fart flings himself to the ground just so my mom won’t catch him smoking.

After many discussions and sleepless nights, I decided it was time to make some changes. If we hadn’t purchased the hat shop, chances are very good, we would have packed up and moved to southern Oregon to take care of my folks and raise some kind of organic stuff to sell at the market. Jobs are scarce down there, so making your own way is pretty much the best chance you have to survive.

Looking at it from that perspective, I think I’m glad we didn’t go that route, although I do love it down there, Tam and I aren’t exactly spring chickens and tending five acres is best left to those with non-arthritic joints. Especially since about 1/3 of that property consists of steep hillside… in wildfire country. And there’s poison oak and stuff.

But this journey is a young one. Fraught with moments that make me laugh, cry, and wet myself, and I’m sure it will only get better as we go along.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Life with Cats

Figures the first post of the year would be about cats. Sheesh.

I’m not a cat person. I’m just putting this out to the Universe and anyone who will listen. It’s true. I am not a cat person. I love my cats because they are my cats, and I love animals in general and cats are animals, but I’m not a cat person. I’m a dog person. I am a bird person.

I love birds. I adore birds. And dogs I really adore dogs.

And the Universe hates me, which is why I have two cats, one bird, and no dogs.

The furry felines currently in residence are one of the Crash and Burn twins (Freya, the fish whore) and Meow (she named herself. Truth!)

My morning rituals include trying to get dressed with a cat. Trying to drink coffee without cat fur in it. Attempting to enjoy a cat fur-free breakfast. And finally, leaving the house without tripping over a cat and breaking myself.

I’ve managed to master that last one by shrieking, “MOVE IT, FURBALL, BEFORE I STEP ON YOUR HEAD!” This not only alerts the cats to my intentions, but it also alerts my nephew that I’m about to head out the door. Or I’m rushing to the bathroom.

Getting dressed with cats in the room is always a joy. Especially when that cat is Freya Fish Whore. She is of the impression that all of my clothing must be covered in fur and small holes that she makes herself. Sometimes those holes happen before I don the article of clothing, other times…

Sometimes the holes are not in my clothing, but in my skin, which she seems to enjoy touching with her claws while I’m doing my best to quickly cover and protect myself with clothing. She is sneaky and will investigate exposed flesh with little regard to privacy. She is shameless.

She also texts Tam when I’ve set the phone on the bed before the screen goes dark. It’s one way I’ve found to distract her while I’m donning my unmentionables. The sensitive screen will happily accept her input (which is more than I can say it does for me) and send the missives to my love who after a few moments of puzzlement will realize it is an actual text from a cat and stops thinking I’ve just had a stroke.

Recently, I was sitting at my computer with my love on Skype, when I started feeling a little snack-ish and grabbed the package of dried cuttlefish from the fridge. Yes, it’s is preserved and does not need refrigeration. In this case, the fridge is more of a large, cold, combination-less safe. As I sat enjoying a few pieces of stinky fish jerky, I was visited by Freya Fish Whore.

She sat at my feet, her eyes wide and fixed on my snack. MY snack. “Give her a piece of it,” Tam said. After a moment’s thought and the sharp pain of a single claw hooked into my leg, I decided to give in and held out a piece. Apparently she enjoyed it because the next thing I knew she was all over my business.
“Gimme fish!”
“No. Go away. You already had fish.”
“More fish!”
“Get down, beast. This stinky mess is mine.”
“Holy Bast, your breath smells good! What I gotta do for more fish? Huh? I let you have Floofy Belleh.”
“We do Floofy Belleh every morning, so… no. My fish. Go away.”
“What if I let you do TWO Floofy Bellehs.”
“Ha! You’ll do Floofy Bellehs for dirty socks, you shameless hussy. Go away.”
“What I gotta do for fish?”
“How about no cat fur in my coffee for a week?”
“For one lousy piece of fish? No deal.”
“Fine. Go away.”
“No fur for an hour.”
“Nope. Two days.”
“Ha! You think I’m cheap!”
“Something like that. This sure is tasty – OW! – cuttlefish. Too bad you can’t have any.”
“I hate you. Ok. One full day no fur in coffee.”
“Ok, one day no fur and a Floofy Belleh.”
“Have some fish.”
“Hey! There’s fur in my coffee!”

“We never said which day no fur. Thanks for fish.”