Saturday, May 3, 2014


I want a house.

You'll remember that I nagged the Man until I wore him out, and he agreed to move to Fort Worth? Where he is 8 minutes from work? Where the art is easy, the buffalo roams free, and Neiman-Marcus shares a parking lot with Discount Tire Store? Fort Worth is Paradise, I want you to know.
Remember that we rented a wonderful condo/ townhouse for two years while we learned the town and found out favorite restaurants?

Them thar two years is dang near up, Honey Drawers. ( I have acquired a heavy Texas accent in the time we've been here. It's adorable.)

My point is that, since the Mister wants to continue working for about three more years before he retires, I am wanting to purchase new digs. I am… suggesting to him that it is in our own best interests. I am… nagging him until I wear him out. The dog wants a yard. We have to purchase a home because the dog is bored. Look at that puppy face! LOOK AT THOSE SAD EYES!
Daddy! Don't you love your little fuzzy daughter enough to want her to have at least 1,800 square feet with lots of kitchen storage, ample closet space, and updated energy features? She wants to be near shopping and restaurants, too. The squirrels there taste better and run slower.

There has been a problem with the house search that I was not prepared for, though. Fort Worth has turned me into a romantic. "Jan!", you all exclaim. "You have always been sweetly off your rocker. What is different than ever?" Well, I'll tell ya, Slim.  Before this, I have gone into a house and checked out the soffits. I have looked at corners for cracks, tested cabinet doors for closure, and sniffed for mold. I criticize the landscaping and the wallpaper, tick off on a list that the hardware will need changing and the peeling linoleum will need replacing. I'm a dynamo. I am the Seller's Worst Nightmare ( or at least I like to think I am. )  But all that has changed, and I'm not sure why. I'll tell y'all what's been happening for the past 6 months here. (I started this journey early, so I could get a feel for what we wanted, and which neighborhood- and therefore have dragged this particular version of Beezlebub's Wet Dream on far longer than it should have taken. Apologies to my realtor, whom I have to go meet in an hour, by the way.)
I have fallen in love with every property I've looked at. "OH!" I shriek. "I could TOTALLY do something with this!" And the Realtor assures me that, Yes. Yes, I could.  The problem is that Fort Worth, dangit, has a habit of keeping and respecting its historical structures. There are old, gimpy, crotchety houses EVERYWHERE, and they have national Historic Register plaques on their wide front porches, and all they need is just a little paint! Just a little Windex and about $60,000 in updates, and they would be TOO FABULOUS!! Well- ok, they don't have garages. People didn't used to need garages. Or closets. People these days have too many dang clothes. Too much dadburn STUFF, is the problem. It's not the houses' faults. It's us. Back in 1928, people sweated and were HAPPY. We've become spoiled, wanting air conditioning and a bathroom you can turn around in.

I'll give you an example that haunts me. I have never even driven past this property, but I want it more than I want clean britches. I know about this house because I have been spending my free time cruising every real estate app they make, and I have memorized every house for sale within 12 square miles, and I have digitally toured the interiors of every one of them. I know these houses better than I know my own cousins. And I know what I would do to make them habitable, because, Bless Their Hearts, people have no taste or sense at all. Anyway, months ago, a property appeared on the market. It's a 5-bedroom original Victorian, painted happy yellow, which is known locally as a B-and-B and is close to the hospital district. "Oooooh!" I chirped. I clicked on it. I wanted to look inside, and the photos popped up. It was great- I mean, come on. You know it was fun. But then the kitchen- pictures of the kitchen- I swooned. It was all restored, but in a way that was true to the original. White marble. A bridge faucet- that old-timey type, but new. Wood. It was…. perfect. My heart wanted that house more than I could stand. And here's what happened- "OH!" ( this will get pretty repetitive, I know) "If I lived in that house, I could run it as a B-and-B for people who needed to stay close to the hospital, and I could bake bread in that kitchen, and I could sell it!"

I am dead serious. I GRIEVED over the knowledge that I would never actually sell bread that I had baked out of the wonderful kitchen. Actually- that's when little alarm bells went off.
"Jan," I said. "You need to take a pill and lie down."
" But THINK of it!"
The last shred of sanity slapped me, hard, and I sobbed as I closed the app. Actually, I scared myself a little.  I know what I'm capable of, and probably I am completely capable of maintaing that house for… five weeks. And, by now, it's been on the market for 7 months. Reality bites.

So this is what will really happen- I am looking at more houses today, all built within the last 10 years, all with the things that retired people are going to want. And then the Man and I will sign papers to begin building a lovely 2-story town home with a little yard, located right smack in the middle of the Cultural District, two blocks from a movie theater, the art supply store, Target, and a honky tonk called LuLu's.
This home will be brand new, energy efficient, and will accrue equity at an insane rate. I'm already decorating it in my head; wood, stainless steel, glass, and white white white everywhere. Rustic clean chic. And there will be a wooden island in the kitchen, perfect for kneading bread. Or slicing it, fresh from the deli across the street.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sassing The Director of the US Census Bureau, Sort Of

A while back, I found plopped into my email inbox a sweetly worded request from the American Community Survey that begged me to provide them with a response to a random survey. They were nice about it. They told me that they were sending this survey electronically so that they did not have to cut down a tree, and that if I would just too-kindly fill it out, they'd be grateful to the point of leaving me alone.

They did not know that I had a massive deadline, that money might be at stake, and that afterwards I was on Mother Duty in another town. I thought about sending them a note to ask them to take Mother Duty instead. All it demands is that you sit for hours doing crosswords in such a way so as to convince her that she knows more answers than you (she enjoys the taunting- it's part of her cardio), running her to Target to get her pills, and agreeing with her about Dr. Phil. It's harmless as long as you don't mind realizing that you are being dragged into Hell. You'll be fine unless your face cracks.

The point is that, when I got back home and online, I had a disappointing little e-note from the Survey people. They were crushed. I had not responded, and they had been forced to mail me - MAIL me- a copy of the survey they needed. They sounded a bit peeved, but well-adjusted. Apparently they had stamped this piece of US mail, brewed themselves a nice pot of tea, and knew for a fact that I was the kind of person who had earned their trust to have been given this opportunity in the first place, and had not intended to hurt their feelings. That's me! As soon as the Project Runway marathon was over, I opened that 28-page survey and took a look.

What happened next is all my fault. I admit it. I saw that Guvernmint Green with the little boxes to write in, and I got my attitude on. The bastards wanted my phone number. You do not ask for my phone number. And I know that if the Guvernmint actually wanted to call me up, they could do so without stopping to blink. So I left it blank. "Look it up!" I said. I am convinced that I shall probably do some prison time for this flippancy. But I thought about it, and it occurred to me that, in the yard, when I get asked "Whatcha in for?" and I say "Sassing the government", that I will become Homecoming Queen and might get an extra pat of butter on my corn on the cob. So I continued.

It didn't get happier after that. Person 1 fills out the entire form for Persons 2, 3, 4, and 5, should they exist outside Person 1's head, and you can bet your sweet granny's ass that Person 1 is the female in the household, and that Person 2 is sitting in his recliner with Person 1's iPad AND the TV remote, AND has no idea that this survey has need filling out for two weeks even though it has been sitting under his eyeballs with that notice printed on it that Person Somebody has to fill it out By Law, and, I presume, Under Pain Of Death.

Point being that Person 1 (my self) spends ten minutes on Question 6. What is your race? Weeellll....  see, American Community Survey, this is America. Hence your name. And I know that I should put 'white' and go on. But... I know that inside that Western European facade lurks the specter of some Cherokee if the family stories are right, and I do know that plenty of white folks also never got told about parts of their families, and that they get a real surprise when they go to visit Aunt Beatrice at the nursing home. So how am I supposed to know, REALLY, what my race is? You want me to say 'white' so I say 'white'. Lord know I want to cooperate here.

Then we get to housing. No, there is no retail here. How many rooms? You do not want me to include bathrooms or rooms that lack definitive separation, so I am surprised to discover that we are renting a 3-room house. Hmm. Yes, there is running water and Internet. How many cars are kept at home? Weeelll.... you want me to say 'two', but AT HOME.... see, Person 1 has to park twenty yards away in a community spot because Person 2 has the only car that fits into the garage. So I can't answer that question. Not how you want. Because you worded it too specifically. This is not going to go well now.

What did I spend for electricity last month? Hell if I remember. Now it's getting personal- you want me to take these old knees and creep upstairs and hurt myself bending over to look up last month's utility bills? Why? How does that possibly help my community? Which IS what this is for- right? It said so on the little reminder you send. All this information goes to help the Guv decide how to spend all those tax dollars he says he doesn't want anyway. Things are about to go downhill, I can tell. I'm getting my Hippie on.

Then it got hilarious. 'Where was Person 1 born?' In Texas. 'When did this person come to live in the United States?' WHAT? Did you even read what you had just asked? And- you really want me to answer that with a straight face?? Person 1 came to live here the minute she popped out of... well, hell. Now you made me think about Mother again. You are asking for it, Bub.

'What is this person's ethnic heritage?' Huh? I've already told you we're freakin' WHITE. You want more?? What are you smoking?? Okay- and remember- you did ask for it-

"Scot, French, English, maybe Cherokee (all the old people are dead and nobody remembers) Dutch (I look really Dutch) Nordic, and I have been told by somebody who read an anthropology book that I have Spanish features. 'Do I speak English?' How the bloody hell am I filling out this form ... oh, right. I am not actually filling out this form all that well, am I? Well, I made A's in English, I'll have you know.

'Does Person 1 have difficulty remembering or making decisions?'  Oh, Lord. 'Did I look for work?' No, Sir, I did not. You have made it abundantly clear that I am not employable since having a 54th birthday. 'But could you have started a job if one plopped into your lap?' Screw you. I'm busy. 

Then we get to Person 2. OH this is not going to go well. Same thing- four pages of redundant questions that could have been retrieved from the IRS if they'd just downloaded the app I know they have. What time does he leave home to go to work? How many minutes is the commute? How many hours does he work each week? He's on salary, he comes and goes, he has meetings. Most days he's home by 5, others he's on call till 9 at night! 40 hours? 70? Can you tell me why this is important enough to threaten a citizen with The Law? 

You want to know about Person 1? She pulls over her car in the pouring rain because she sees an entire family- granny, parents, and kids waiting at one of your bus stops that has no shelter, and she gives them her umbrella. She gives the drunks on the curbs water but no cash. She prefers animals to people, mostly, and she buys Made In USA if she has any choice at all. 

You want to know about Person 2? Let me tell you about Person 2. He has gotten up before dawn every dang Monday- Friday for 50 years and dragged his should-be-retired butt to the office because he thinks the obligation to provide his children with the best possible educations is the most important thing a man can do. Because he believes that providing a good life for me and all his family is the Highest Calling. He is generous, religious, loves good food, and tells the same old jokes over and over. If you are lucky enough to be in his life, you will have a protector and cuddle bear forever, because he does not give up on you.

I'm getting tired, cranky, and I still have no idea why this is going to help my community. These are intensely personal questions about job and housing specifics. I answer them- and guess what? The American Community Survey still has no idea where we shop, where we go to eat, who we volunteer for, or how much we walk. You want to decide how to properly distribute tax money in my community? Ask me how many mom-and-pop stores I patronize. Ask me how much trash I pick up while walking the dog, and ask me about people I see sweltering at bus stops because you have not thought about a simple roof for this 110-degree heat. Ask me what kind of religious communities I serve, and how they go begging for money to help all faiths, not just our own. Ask me what kinds of wildflowers grow in the vacant lots, and what kind of gardens we could make to feed the hungry and to uplift those in despair.

You have asked me about how I get paid, and about the color of my ancestors' eyes, and just exactly how many dollars I keep, but you have asked me nothing about how I live inside my community. On the back of the 28-page form, you say that I may send suggestions for reducing the burden of collecting this information to Washington, and that is what I shall do. I shall make the suggestion that the Director of the US Census Bureau should ask better questions. And if it ends with a stern lecture and a prison sentence, then so be it. There are no jails in my community- all you had to do was ask.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Ridgeback Ritual (Morning Walkies)

Katie!! Let's go for a WALK!!

 Yes, this is the office tower parking lot. What is up here?
 Sorry, Katie. No discarded bananas, chicken nuggets, Ding Dongs, or french fries today.
 But this truck ran over something fabulous.
 Yes, Katie. Let all the people at work inside the tower see you posing so nicely. Make them all wish they were outside walking THEIR dogs instead of hiding in cubicles, gnawing on energy bars and bending paper clips into little insect shapes. Urge them to rip off their shackles and run outside, screaming "IT'S MY LIFE AND I WILL LIVE T TO THE FULLEST, DAMMIT!" Yes, Katie. Remember when Mommy was bitter and resentful about her own coworkers? Well, you helped fix that. Good girl.
 Yes, that truck ran over something delicious, too.

 Just an aside- and I truly do apologize to my music friends- I love you all and love your music. But this... this restaurant is kinda my personal version of Hell. Just sayin'.
 Katie, look! It's the Young Chef's Academy! You like this store. No, you may not go in.

 OoooOOO Katie. The deli is getting their morning delivery! Maybe the guy with the dolly will drop something! Oops, sorry. He looks competent. Maybe tomorrow.
 And here is the Mediterranean cafe. Yes, you like this one, too.
 Katie, look! We're in the country!
 Baker Street Pub. Best pickin's in the whole shopping center. Last night's drunks are always good for dropped french fries and cheesy doo-dads. Katie spends ten minutes at Baker Street Pub.
 One more go-round. Just to make sure.
 Smell that, Katie? Yes! It's morning grease! YUM!
 Katie discovers the Holy Grail for dogs.

 Hey! Is that a S-Q-I-R-L? Did you see it, Katie?
 Look closer.
 You GOT it, Katie! YAY!
 Time to go home, Katie. This is where we live now. Which door is yours, Katie? You can smell three molecules of food, but you cannot decide which sidewalk is ours. Your mom planted eighty bucks' worth of foliage into a 200-pound urn and put it right by the front door, but you still cannot decide which door is yours. Is daddy going to have to spill bacon grease on the door knob, Katie? That would be fun! Because then, we could have 4 rescue Chihuahuas, a Maltese, two Goldens, a Welsh terrier, and a Dobie that will come visit us! Yay! It will be a party!
 Everyone has had all the fun they need for one morning. Let's do it again! We'll have to! There is no back yard! Isn't it GREAT?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2012. Post-Apocalypse, Part One

If you know me fairly well, then you will be familiar with the story here, and you are hereby released to go get a cookie and watch Matlock reruns.
If you, on the other hand, are not aware of what 2012 has wreaked on this author, then batten your hatches. I shall start at the beginning:

In December 2011, my little old 87- year-old mother broke her arm and had to stop driving, thank you, and her children swooped down on her and moved her to Austin, fixed up her townhouse, which used to be MY townhouse, installed new carpet and paint, and sold it. That took until March. Then I planned a wedding, starting with finding a rabbi and a venue, and got married to my sweetie pie. That killed June and half of July. Then I fixed up my own house, put half of our crap into storage, put it on the market, and sold the whole shebang- that got me to September, THEN I found a place to move to, packed up, and brought the whole shootin' match to Fort Worth, where, in November, I am still unpacking boxes.

I snapped back in March. It had gotten to be too much -the daily stress of dealing with an old lady with macular degeneration and major hearing loss and who refused to wear a hearing aid, even when she knew you were coming over, so that you'd ring the digital doorbell KNOWING you were about to perform according to a sadomasochistic script. She had installed the thing herself, having replaced a lovely, gentle ding-dong with a Westminster screech so loud it reverberated the car windows. Most of the time, though, she didn't hear it, so eventually you'd pound the door, and wait, and pound, and wait, and then you'd get out your cell phone and call her, and you'd hear the phone ringing inside, then you'd wait, and finally, when you really had to pee and regretted that vente latte you had on the way over, she'd realize you were at the door, and open it with a look of judgement.
"Did you ring the bell?"
 It was not really a question. You'd say "Yes", and she'd say, "I don't believe it. Ring it again." and she'd go off and listen, and then she set her mouth in a 'dammit' face and say, "Well, I guess I'm just deaf."  Yes, mother. You are. That's why doctors make hearing aids. But it was a ritual, and you did not gain entrance unless you performed this.

But the first time I snapped, it had to do with sitting in the townhouse at 10:00 at night reading 1960's Life magazines I found in a plastic tub that mother had labelled "Don't throw out. I might want this if I move back", while the carpet guys worked to finish the stairs and get out of there. I was gnawing on a brick of Velveeta she had left in the refrigerator- with no silverware or plates, you do that by peeling the wrapper back and biting into it then washing it down with a Coke if you're lucky and with tap water if you're not. I watched those guys work, and sat there, and read, and got really interested reading those stories that I lived as a kid but now was reading about with the mind of an adult, seeing them really for the first time, smiling at the cigarette ads and sighing for those Cadillacs and chrome. I thought about a young woman I know who is an ad pro, and recently got promoted to a senior position- wouldn't she love these ads? Wouldn't it interest her and her sister to see what world their mother had come from? It was Mad Men come real- and with behind-the scenes journalism that might be lost; a reporting on LBJ and Kennedys that reveal what was current and has since been forgotten or gilded.

The old green carpet- it was nasty enough when I had lived there 9 years ago- got replaced with fresh new light pile, and I redid the small garden in the back. I scraped popcorn off the lower ceilings and staged the 1980's wet bar with French coffee presses. Then I looked around at the home where I had first dated Jerry, the first real home I had bought all by myself, when it was scary to imagine that I could really do that. Remembered the ancient Italian greyhound who had spent the last couple of years of her life there with me, the corner that she liked to sneak into and pee, the kitchen where She Of Three Good Teeth gummed down chicken wings and liver. Remembered a young Gus The Cat and the time that I heard an ungodly screeching at 3 in the morning and had stumbled downstairs, horrified and clueless, to find him sitting in the living room in front of a cicada. Gus saw me, and said, "Hey! You're up! Come look at this!" and then he poked the thing and it shrilled into a minute-long whirr, and Gus looked at me again and had said, "Isn't that WEIRD??"
I looked at the small place in which I had become a Real Person, all by myself, and then after that had visited for the 9 years that my mother had lived there. She had never learned to work the automatic thermostat and had called me or my brother-in-law to come fix it. She had carefully and with much work dammed up the slope of the little garden with raised ridges under the fence, with the result that it held rain water and never dried. And she couldn't see worth a damn, so she never recognized that the carpet needed replacing and the cabinets in the kitchen needed repainting and the countertop was dingy and could have been updated. All those things cost money, and she's a daughter of the Great Depression. So, in March, after she was gone, we replaced all those things and spent her money to do it, and she would've enjoyed it, it was so nice, but knowing the price of these things would've killed her outright.
 I thought about all the things I had wanted to do to the place myself, and  how wonderful those things would've been and then I turned off the lights and I left.

The Salvation Army took away most of what mother left behind. A handyman's apprentice claimed a couple more things that I asked him to take- he couldn't believe his great good luck at a desk and a ceiling fan that was getting updated. Consignment took a box of glassware and a tacky Chinese wall hanging. Two dump runs and losing track of Goodwill truckloads...
 I kept the Life magazines.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Bird Lady- A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a cute little girl who loved to draw.
She drew silly pictures that made people laugh, and she drew extremely serious pictures of horses jumping over desperately deep chasms and then kicking their heels up and whinnying when they made it.
People saw her pictures and felt good, so they smiled. They also smiled when she put baskets on her head and danced to music on the record player, and they smiled when she mispronounced a word, and they smiled when she accidentally put her shoes on backwards, so when they smiled at her drawings, she didn't pay much attention to it.

One day the girl was in her garden, and she saw a flock of birds there, and they were chirping loudly and they were eating seeds, and they were dusting themselves in the fine dirt, and they were being very rude and were generally having a wonderful time. The girl decided she would like to draw them, and she got her paper, and she got her pencil, and she sat down beside them. But the birds would not stay still! They did not care if they were drawn at all! The girl reached out to a bird to make it be still for just one second, and the bird bit her. Right on her hand. It was her drawing hand. And the blood ran and ran, and her hand could not draw any more.

The girl decided that perhaps she did not need to draw. She thought that perhaps what she needed to do was to tell people about birds. She did not want to hurt birds, but she did need to tell people about how they could be mean, and how they could stop you from making any more silly drawings, and how they could change everything and not even care. People, she decided, need to know about birds. And so she stopped drawing and she stopped dancing with baskets on her head, and she went to work so she could earn enough money to buy a microphone so that she could tell as many people as possible about how birds are.

And people smiled.

The girl talked louder. The people needed to understand that birds, in general, were not bad but they could really make you bleed. People needed to understand that. People were possibly in danger, and there they were, smiling like idiots, walking around, shooing birds out of the way, and they were all going to die because the birds always came back and just kept doing birdy stuff. Nothing was changing! The girl worked harder and bought a bus so that she could put the microphone on it and then drive all over the world and then maybe people somewhere would listen to her and save themselves. They would hear her and believe her and then they would be happy because they could stay alive and not bleed and they would thank her! They would be grateful and when they realized that they were not bleeding from bird-inflicted wounds, then they would say "It's because of her! She saved us!

The girl went a little peculiar.

She worked harder still and did not even think about drawing or baskets because she was meeting with her architect. She built a tower. The biggest, highest tower in the world.  It took a long time and a lot of money, but it didn't matter at all because the tower was not for her. It was for saving people, and that meant that it was good. The tower took a long long time to build, but one day it was finished, and so the girl climbed and climbed and climbed up. It took days, but the girl did not care, because she was going to finally tell people all over the whole world about dangerous birds, and about how to stay away from them and not get hurt and to be happy. She climbed and climbed and climbed and was very very tired, but she smiled, knowing that it was all to make people happy, and that was enough.

Finally, the girl climbed all the way to the top of the tower, and she stepped outside onto the balcony and looked around, all over the world, and she saw all the people below, and she threw her hands into the air but they didn't pay any attention to her. She was too high up. They couldn't see her. She waved and waved, and she jumped up and down, and she yelled. And when the girl was jumping and waving, a bird flew to the balcony and sat on the rail. It looked at her and it chirped. Then it flew away.

The girl just stood on her balcony on her tower, and she looked at the scar on her hand, and she looked at all the people who didn't notice her, and she saw that the only thing her tower had done for people was that, now, they had to walk around it to get where they were going, and it wasn't going to keep birds from doing what they do anyway.

So she put a basket on her head, and somebody way down below noticed it, and smiled.

The End

Saturday, May 12, 2012

8 1/2 Lives Later And Counting

The last couple of weeks here at ArtGardenLife have been kitty-centered. Not art-centered, which is what ArtGardenLife was actually supposed to be about, mostly. Not art-centered, even though I was working on getting a sculpture ready for a show opening this weekend at the Aloft Hotel downtown. Nope, this past couple of weeks have been kitty-centered.
Basically, Gus was on his last legs and was about 10 minutes from getting help going over that Rainbow Bridge.
It was like this. See, Gus has turned 14 now, and YES I know that cats these days live to 34. You know they must- prove it to yourself and see if it's not true. You'll be talking to somebody and you'll say "Oh, my cat is 14", and they will immediately tell you about a cat their aunt had that was 19, or one that their friend had which lived to be 21, but they had adopted it as a stray so who knows how old it actually was? 

Anyway, so Gus just turned 14, which, according to Google, is damn old for a Maine Coon, and a couple weeks ago, he was feeling a little extra feisty. He would not come in for the night. He likes to lie in the irises. So I went out to get him, and he was nowhere. Not behind the air conditioning unit. Not under the patio table. Finally, since it was a lovely night, I said "hell with it" and went to bed.
And in the morning, he was at the door, and he was limping.
"Hmmph," I thought. "Wonder what he got into?" And we all ate breakfast and that was that.
Four days later, he was still limping, but much, much worse.
"Hmmmph," I thought. "This is going to be a hundred bucks worth of Cat Fix." And off to the vet we went.
The clinic we go to is close by, and the vets are all good, and this one found nothing structurally wrong at all. "Soft tissue damage," he said. "One of his toes is swollen. I'll give him pain meds." Whee!! 

Two days after that, Gus is not eating. Gus did not eat anymore at all. And then, after two more days, I have to look at this old, very skinny, limping cat who was starving to death. He did not want liver! He did not want tuna! I was getting up with Jerry's alarm because I did not want Jerry to trip over a dead cat at 5 in the morning. Not an auspicious way to start your day.
So... we go back to the vet...
...who says "Oh. Pain meds are morphine-based, which is an appetite suppressant. We'll give him appetite stimulant pills!" Wheee! They also kept him for three days and infused him with fluids. I went back and got him, and he was happy to be home- skinny, shaved, and still limping. But he agreed to sit in my lap- not usual for him- and he purred and purred. But he still wouldn't eat. And you can't give a cat a pill if he won't eat. Well- I can't. Dog, yes. Cat, heck to the no.

I described all this to our friend Alexis, who is a cat whisperer in Maine, and she said something that tweaked a bell in my head. "My cat wouldn't eat," she said, "and I gave her treats."
That was a good idea- I used to give Gus treats all the time. Why did I stop? I ran out and purchased three kinds of really foul-looking kitty treats, all guaranteed to appeal to the feline sensibility. I took them home, showed them to him, and...
Gus porked down three dozen of those things and then went to bed, and in the morning, there was a gift. A royal presentation. Gus had, in the middle of the night, divested himself of a hairball of such size and structural specifications that Derek Jeter could've used it to hit a ground ball double.
After which-
Gus began eating again. Gus is still eating. As a matter of fact, Gus woke me up this morning because he was peckish. Gus has consumed the meat from the chicken legs I got on sale at Albertson's AND the beef liver, AND the chicken gizzards AND two cans of tuna, besides the regular canned cat food and the dry kibbles he always has on the side, plus assorted treats I throw to him and the dog. 
So I decided that this would be the perfect time to take a picture of Gus wearing the cute little hat Aunt Gail bought him. Since he was not in a position to do much about it.

"Look, Gus! Look at the adorable little pirate hat Aunt Gail bought you with Uncle Larry's overtime check! See? It has a little parrot on it!"

"See it, Gus? You must wear this hat before you die so I can show Aunt Gail!"
"Hold still, Gus! You must not overdo it. You are dying and must save your energy to wear this hat. Here, Gus. Let me help you put it on."
"Wait! You are not wearing the adorable little pirate hat, Gus! Saint Peter wants to see you in it! 
WAIT!!! Dammit."

Gus is still limping. He's already halfway to piracy with that peg leg shtick. "Soft tissue damage".
So I tell people he's sprained his toe, and it may get better and it may not. He's ok about it- and Katie the Dog left him alone and was ve-e-e-ery gentle with him for a whole week, but today, she rushed him again to get him to play chase, and he did. So he's back to normal-

whatever that is.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Fuzzywuzzums Interlude

Our pal, Liz, just got her brand-spanking-new puppy (who is not actually spanked, please. It's just a saying.) (although, as I hear it, she might occasionally deserve spanking, but.... nobody could actually DO it, so there)
Anyway, here are some pictures of the darling new Puma. Pronounced POO-ma, not PEW-ma, as those of us who have not worked at zoos are apt to do.
Poor Liz. She was soooo tired by the time she got to Dallas, she was walking into walls and cleaning up things that really had nothing to do with her. She was already on autopilot, and was only two days into New Mom-hood.

All it takes to bond is a new red collar and puppy breath.

I had gotten on the ground to get a shot of the little squidget on her own level, but Katie moved in and stood over me. She does this because she gets a good belly rub if I'm on the floor and she's standing over me. Hey, it's RIGHT THERE.

I am writing a song. Think of the Andrews Sisters...
"Pasadena! Petaluma!! That's where ya gotta go to get a Puma!
Mandarina! Clementina! Little Puma gonna be a Sat-a-suma!!"
Oh, forget it! Gail is the songwriter in this group, unless some of the rest of you have been holding out on me. I'll keep working on it- but somebody PLEASE save me. I have been singing this stupid song inside my head for over a week and I'm going slightly bonkerish. More bonkerish.
Puppy breath is the only known cure.