good kitty.

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This picture came up in my “one year ago today” feature in Facebook and it was timely because Emmett just got a brand-new Kitty Holster and can (hopefully) enjoy going outside a bit more, with safe supervision. He’s always loved going outside – he’s the type of indoor cat that, if I make a move to the front door, will rush for it with crazy yowls and be out on the front porch in a flash. He doesn’t go far (because we’re always there to grab him) but he does love to chew on a stick or two. (Sarge could care less – he likes his nice comfy house and will watch, nonplussed, from the front hall as Emmett rolls around ecstatically on the brick walk.) Unfortunately, although his pet-store harness was cute – it had a little skull & crossbones on it – it was also no match for him. He quickly learned how to sunfish out of it and lead us on a merry dash (once into the neighbor’s garage).

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I bought the Kitty Holster from Amazon and although we’ve only used it a couple of times, I see a big difference. It’s much more substantial – more like a wrap. It firmly fastens with wide Velcro strips around his tummy and chest, and although he doesn’t like being so contained, I can tell he won’t be able to wriggle out of it very easily.

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We have to be very careful with his outings, as the neighbor has a dog and there are two horrible neighbor cats who frequent our yard, but I am hoping that at some point Emmett can enjoy being out with us on the front porch or back patio, maybe with a long leash. We shall see.
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murder, malpractice, arson, harassment, and thin mints.

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This weekend didn’t feel much like a weekend, except for the relaxing evening I spent binge-watching old episodes of Forensic Files on Netflix. I think I’ve spoken about my love of true crime before, and my addiction to a variety of true crime podcasts. What can I say? It started young. I had a biography of Ed Gein on my bookshelves in high school. I’m sure the woman behind the counter at our town bookshop (“The Printed Word”) thought I was ’round the bend when I slapped that baby down on the old-timey glass topped counter (probably along with the current rolled-up paper horoscope and the latest “Seventeen” magazine). So anyway. My brother & I were DM’ing and I sent him a pic of a screenshot and then of course Facebook did that thing where it puts together a slideshow of your photos with a suggested title in case you want to share it and no lie, it was a picture of my cats and this screenshot of the creepy Forensic Files mad bomber that I’d sent to my brother and the suggested title, in purple neon, was “Big Friday Night!” I had to laugh. Fuck you Zuckerberg.

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Yesterday I was asked back to “role play” at a workshop for prospective mediators-in-training. I took this course two years ago and really enjoyed it (and actually it’s not only where I learned to mediate, it’s where I was exposed to meditation, seriously, for the first time). The past two years I’ve been asked back to role play during 4 test mediations and I really enjoy it, even if it means giving up a Saturday. I was a grieving widow, the amputee victim of medical malpractice, a young female victim of sexual harassment and retaliation, and an insurance adjuster investigating an arson claim. I prepare for all my roles and really get into it.

Miss L is in the thick of Girl Scout cookie season so this morning it was up and at ’em to another cookie booth. It was the last one this year and hopefully by the grace of God I can someday shake the nickname of the “Pusher” around Widget Central. (Pronounced “POOOOSHER”. As in – “you want cookies? Go see the POOOOOOSHER in Legal. She’ll hook you up.” *sniff* *furtive glance* *wipe nose* *slink off*) And if you haven’t already, try Breyer’s line of Girl Scout cookie ice cream. The Thin Mint ice cream goes right to the vein.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend of whatever it is you like to do. xo

pugilist’s moon

The Native Americans might have called it the Snow Moon, or the Hunger Moon, but last night I decided that a more accurate moniker would be the Pugilist’s Moon. Last night’s full moon and lunar eclipse, possibly exacerbated by the “close” passing of Green Comet 45P, wreaked a fair share of havoc on us.

Yes, I do believe somewhat that the lunar cycles have an impact on our human behavior. We really are just big sacks of liquidy stuff charged with some mysterious electrical current and I’ve been friends with enough teachers, social workers, and emergency medical folks throughout my adulthood to know that many of them dread full moons. Especially full moon Fridays. My teacher friends on FB started expressing concern several days ago.

So this week:

I got into a huge fight with Jax. This isn’t actually unusual because Jax & I are both very opinionated, strong-willed people and even when we agree on a basic issue, we can still argue over semantics or the details of it. Normally I don’t mind this much because I always know where I stand with him and vice versa. There’s never any hidden undercurrents of dissatisfaction – it’s all out there, even the minor stuff. But this week’s was a little vehement and nonsensical even for us. Neither of us were really sure what it started with. We made up but post-fight I was laid low with a stress migraine the day after.

My credit card got hacked (AGAIN) for the third or fourth time. I always know what it’s about when the company calls me – “did you authorize such-and-such an outlandish charge in Florida [[Texas]]?” It’s always either Florida or Texas. And it’s almost always either a gas station or Wal-Mart. Sigh. “No, I did not try to charge $564 at Wal-Mart in Fort Worth.” “Can we Fed Ex you a new card to your home on Monday? Will you be home?” “No, I work full time.” “Okay, we will put it in the US mail. Good luck paying cash for everything over the next 7-10 business days!”

It’s a damn chip card too. But I guess I should just be happy that they catch it so quickly that I’ve never had to open a bill and find a charge for Skoal, Budweiser, and a flat screen television from a Wal-Mart in Bumfuck Arkansas.

The last and worst was Miss L’s elementary school dance last night. The PTA worked so hard to decorate the school and it looked lovely. They had cake and photo booths, a DJ and dancing, all the kiddos dressed up in their Sunday best. The joint was jumping and I was trying to knit in the darkness, humming along to Gangnam Style, when I became aware of a change in the atmosphere. I could sense it like a drop in air pressure. When not knitting, I was trying to keep an eye on L amidst all the crowds of kids and parents, and being told off roundly every time she caught me “following” her. Anyway, I packed my sock and needles up into my Moomin bag and set off into the hallway to scout things out. I quickly realized there was a very unfortunate argument between three sets of parents and two crying children, and it was devolving with lightning speed.

My fear, ever-present these days, is that the environment is so highly charged, and so toxic with resentment. So many people now feel emboldened to say whatever despicable xenophobic Go Back to Whatever Country You Legally Migrated From For No Good Reason thing, typically beset with racial epithets, this so-called president has inspired them to, and so many on the other side of the issues have quivering antennae set to pick up on any hint of that even when it’s not there and immediately leap into I’m Going to Punch a Nazi Resistance mode,  disagreements can turn very ugly very quickly. In all fairness, I doubt this had anything to do with any of that. But add a crowded hallway full of children and the only thing I want to do is grab my girl and head for the nearest exit. The principal did an excellent job of containing the dispute in her office, but the content was serious enough that the police were called. This was, as you can imagine, the Most Exciting Thing to ever happen to a school full of sugar-hyped elementary kids, who goggled out windows and raced up and down crowded hallways spinning ever more ludicrous tales and only contributed to the surreal atmosphere, the disbelieving feeling that pervaded me of “this can’t happen here”.

It was an extremely unfortunate way to end the dance, which people worked very hard on and was only meant to inspire joy and happiness and a sense of community for our little ones, and I’m appalled at the behavior exhibited by adults. It is completely uncharacteristic for the beautiful, diverse, multicultural environment that our elementary school exhibits.

I can now only hope that that ol’ Pugilist’s Moon will let us recover from this upheaval. I will be hiding in my bedroom with Emmett madly cleansing my chakras until it’s over.

what you believe it to be

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I don’t think I’ve been to the Michigan Renaissance Festival since I was a kid, and although I don’t remember it, I would imagine that my father probably hated it and made us leave promptly. It’s just the kind of overheated, excessively crowded place that would make his skin crawl.

I think in order to understand this, you have to understand my good friend K and her family. They are a big family and full of similarly beautiful, elfin girls and they’re all kind of Ren fans. They don’t exactly dress up, but they don’t need to, as their normal fashion sense of riding boots and fingerless mitts and floating skirts and scarves makes them fit right in as they drift dreamily up and down the mazey Renaissance alleys.

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I expected that the whole day would be a bit of an ironically humorous situation but it was actually incredibly fun. There were of course a lot of drunk people weaving around the labyrinth streets, there were ankle-deep seas of mud and indescribably horrible privies, but there were also a lot of craftspeople. And there were a lot of people dressed in elaborate and wonderful costumes, performers, face painters, and little dreamy fairy girls wisping and wishing that they had been born in a Pamela Dean novel, and honestly, who doesn’t wish that. Every time I saw someone in a carefully constructed dress or costume, I had to smile, thinking about them in their office cubes all week long, looking entirely different and probably not telling any of their colleagues that they saved their money for steampunk, fur, and a stitched leather jerkin to feed their fantasy life and their deep wish to have been born in another time and place.

We ate giant turkey legs and big pickles and K knew where to find the best honey place and the schneeballs. (“What’s a schneeball?” asked the man in the polo shirt standing in line behind me, looking dubious. “I don’t know but it’s probably good,” I said.) Miss L had her face painted and while most little girls might have picked the unicorn or the fairy, she wanted the spiderweb, to the delight of our fairy girl escorts. (And yes,  in the morning it was definitely cold enough for scarves and mittens.)

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We watched a joust and Miss L screamed with delight and terror when our knight Sir Tyler (…Tyler?…just sayin’.) advanced to the final round.

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I have to admit, I was yelling too, and shelling out money for a wooden sword and striped knee socks. I sort of wished that I’d dressed more like K and her girls. K is the kind of woman who always looks like she should be walking down a cobbled street in Europe. Her long fair hair is always perfect, just a bit mussed, she wore good boots and an artful scarf and I felt pretty out of place in my all-weather running clothes with my hair pinned up haphazardly. You can’t catch the eye of a hot bagpiper when you’re wearing Nikes at the Ren Fest (not that I am in any way ready to bring home anyone, much less a bagpiper).

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By the end of the day, my wallet was feeling the hit and Miss L was drooping down the alleys, eyelids heavy, dragging her little sword behind her; but one last piece of magic. A woman in an incredibly elaborate dress, petticoats and corset and wool stockings, bustled up to Miss L in the crowds and presented a plastic tiara.

“Begging your pardon, miss, but did you drop this?”

Miss L gawked. “No, it’s not, mine,” she said shyly.

The woman ducked her head and said, “Well then, will you be keeping it? It seems to suit you, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

Miss L bent her head and let the woman slide the tiara into her red hair, then step back and drop a deep curtsy. We were all smiles as we continued on our way, and made one last stop at a dark little shop selling pixie dust.

“And what is your name?” the shopkeeper inquired. Miss L told her, and the shopkeeper raised a shout, “ALL HAIL PRINCESS L!” The window shelf was full of necklaces dangling tiny stoppered bottles, catching the light. The shopkeeper ran her finger along them, setting up a tinkle of glass, and describing the kind of pixie dust in every bottle. Dreams of dragons, dreams of fairies; images of your own true love, but take care, just take care, because magic is potent.

“It’s just GLITTER?” another round-eyed child said, sounding very much like he wanted to be convinced otherwise, and the shopkeeper tsked.

“It is if that’s all you believe it to be,” she said, and for that, she earned her $10 and Miss L got herself a little bottle of magic pixie dust.

carnival of sorts

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I was going to do a long post ruminating on failure, and how it feels to stand up in front of a group of people you like and respect and be too nervous to speak properly, and forget what you were going to say, and basically look like a stammering sweating idiot…but you know, I’ve relived it so many times in my head that I’m just totally over it. It happened. I fucked up a good opportunity and feel embarrassed about it, but there’s just nothing I can do except move on and stop cringing every time I think about it.

I love this quote from a new blog that I’ve been reading:

“We’re often scared to fail because of what people will think. Lovely people don’t care if we fail. And as for everyone else, stuff them. Have a go anyway. Fail gloriously and then go to the pub, happy that you at least gave it a shot.” – Lazy Girl Running

Or, as Miss L said, “Not everyone can be good at everything, Mommy.”

So yeah, it’s been a week. It’s been one of those weeks where the bad things that have been ripening start dropping off their trees in big swollen clusters of three, and burst their pestilence. I’ve dreamt of owls and 610 and bathtubs and snowstorms, and it’s been a week of death in the family, back thrown out, power failures, missed deadlines, misunderstandings, and poor nutrition. It started with the terrible hour in the boardroom on Monday and ended with poor Sarge digesting half of a knitting project and being horribly ill on green alpaca wool. (He’s feeling better now, I think, and back to chewing fur off toy mousies.  He will never learn.)

I’m a little superstitious and assign strange portent to unusual things. We spent last weekend with my brother and sister-in-law and nephew, and, besides hosting a beautiful party for Miss L’s birthday, they took us to a local fair. It has been twenty years at least since I was at a fair, and we had a riot. I know I will remember it for a long time. You know the kind, the traveling caravans who set up their midways in a parking lot or a field somewhere. The transformation always strikes me, the complexity of lights and colors and sounds that they can create, the maze of booths and rides, the total sensory immersion. It’s a kind of magic, a strange box that opens up and turns into something much bigger and more complex, creepy and beautiful and revolting. Everyone becomes a caricature of themselves and the midway is haunted with spirits of people who don’t exist anywhere else; they drift out of the boxes of staring stuffed animals and dyed goldfish and take twisted shape, gain their flesh for as long as the Ferris Wheel turns. Then when the lights are snuffed out, and carne vale, farewell to their flesh, and, weeping, insubstantial, they are packed back up into their boxes, into their caravan, and they leave behind only a scarred and trash-strewn circle of dead grass and scarred pavement to show they were ever there.

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I think when you buy a ticket, you maybe lose a bit of yourself in that strange carnival for a little while, and that magic has clung to me this week, turning my days into a funhouse mirror, dissipating slowly.

room at the inn

we have a strange relationship with animals over here lately. they sort of come into and out of our lives in weird ways and although my motto has been ‘there’s always room at the inn’, there are limits. it started with a cricket that i found in my office last fall; he came home in my bestie’s cellphone box and lived on our top shelf in a little terrarium for five months. Five! he ate lettuce leaves and raw oatmeal, and apple slices, and even now i occasonally think i can hear his rusty chirping, which filled up several long dark weeks of winter nights in a very delightful way. not at all annoying.

after the cricket, of course we gained mommy duck, who is still hanging tough in the corner of our garden in her queendom of mulch and pinfeathers. she is grouchy over the constant comings and goings (she lives by our front door) but i think secretly she is sort of enjoying it all too.

everybody is welcome. sort of.

so last night, GB heard a loud scratching in the wall, and he informed me about it when i was sleepy and i promptly forgot. the situation apparently escalated quickly while i was stacking zzz’s. this morning, before i was even properly awake, he was standing in the bedroom door advising me that he was about to knock a hole in the dining room wall to release the scratchy thing.

‘ok,’ i said groggily, and then, after processing this for a few minutes, and hearing him noisily assembling his drills and moving the furniture around, i realized that i should probably wake up. i trust him where these things are concerned, but it seemed like a large undertaking that i should probably be present for.

‘it sounds BIG,’ he said, and after knocking around a bit to determine where the beastie was trapped, he drilled a hole and sort of punched it out neatly. after a lot of bright spotlight type flashlights and drilling noises and moving of furniture and stud locators and tapping around scientifically…he put a bucket in front of the hole and we stood with baited breath. it sort of felt like that television special where geraldo rivera broke into al capone’s vault, remember that? (i always felt real bad for geraldo about that one.) i tried not to think of the tana french novel i had recently read about a murder victim who drives himself crazy believing something is trapped in the wall of his house…anyway.

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the beastie, which really did sound like a twenty pound raccoon or small bear inside the wall, nosed its way out very quickly, all things considered. behold; tiny little chipmunk. i recognized him from when i caught him sitting in the plastic bin of birdseed in the garage last week, stuffing his face. unfortunately, the intricate ‘cookie tin bucket’ trap that GB rigged had a tiny gap, and he went slipping out and zinging around the dining room before GB could catch him and clap the bucket down again. he transferred him to a jar with some cracked corn for a photo opp. the stupid piggish thing couldn’t stop eating the corn long enough to smile and wave at the camera. he was released into his natural habitat and promptly returned to hang out for awhile underneath the birdfeeder.

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miss l. slept through the whole thing and when i showed her the pictures, she couldn’t believe it.

‘I CAN’T BELIEVE I SLEPT THROUGH THE WHOLE THING,’ she said, and her next question was where on earth she was going to eat breakfast if the chipmunk was now living in the dining room.