Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Spit on You BECAUSE I Like You

I was sitting at the dining room table this morning, enjoying a cup of coffee and a few chapters from Kathy Griffin's new book when Spike the Hotness Monster started buzzing around my legs. I had already fed him, so unless he was sporting a tapeworm that I didn't know about then he wanted something else. Engrossed in the book, I did not hustle to the demands of his royal catness, which clearly did not sit well with him because after 30 seconds of gentle nuzzling, he sank his fangs into my big toe. Not in an aggressive way, but in a "Bitch, get your fat ass off that chair and get me some crunchies ASAP" kind of way.

Not one to be bullied, I shooed him away, but he came back for a second helping, this time taking on the tender little pinkie toe. Again, I shooed him away. When I stood up to go take a shower he darted toward his food bowl with the bell on his collar tinkling in the quiet of the pre-children hours of the morning. I must admit, he's very savvy about showing me exactly what he wants.

I fed the cat again and went off to shower. By the time I got out of the shower, the boy was up and the morning routine had gotten the house buzzing. When my son got in the shower I sat down again to continue the book. Again, there was a gnawing on my big toe. My big toe is freakishly large, yet Spike had managed to encircle it in its entirety with his teeth. WTF? Why must I be denied a few precious moments of quiet? I get up at five in the morning so that I can ease into the day in quiet solitude, not to have my feet assaulted by razor sharp cat teeth.

Finally defeated, I stood up and he ran toward the front door. Again, I was appreciative of the fact that he was bright enough to ask for what he wanted, but hated the fact that he chose to get my attention in such a painful manner. I opened the door and let him out and he disappeared into the bushes like a secret agent.

I trudged upstairs to get dressed. I selected my clothes and laid them on the bed, sitting down to put my socks on. I immediately felt something cold and wet under my behind. I jumped up and turned around to find Brownie the Wonder Dog looking up at me with a soulful yet guilty expression. She had licked an area of the sheet about 12" in diameter, a habit that she has had since she was a puppy. She has always been a very "mouthy" dog. She likes to lick the couch, the bed, the rug, the floor. I find it repulsive, but I forgive her the habit because she is so wonderful in other ways.

I finished getting dressed and got ready to go, feeling like I really needed another shower to get all the animal spit off me. As I opened the door to leave, Spike darted back into the house. Brownie, hearing the bell on Spike's collar came running to greet her kitty friend. She did this by (gently) putting Spike's entire head in her mouth. Spike returned the favor with a nuzzle and a lick of Brownie's chest. I walked out the door feeling great. I had immediately gone from feeling like a like a toesickle to feeling like an appreciated friend, even if I was a friend whose toes probably smelled like catfood.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Honestly? An Award for Me?

Hey, look at this, I got an award! Kyslp over at Stir Fry Awesomeness gave me the Honest Scrap award. Honest Scrap? How do you think she means this?

Do you think she means scrap as in "to fight" as that would relate directly back to my last post. Or maybe she means it as an abeviation of the word "is" as in 's crap, which yeah, that is somethimes true. Not every post can be a work of art you know. Or perhaps scrap relates to the tiny bit of information that is imparted here. I am neither instructional nor particularly informational. Well, whatever the Honest Scrap award means, I am thankful to have gotten it, so thanks Kyslp!

So, here are the rules of engagement:

  1. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.

  2. Show the seven winners names and links on your blog and leave a comment telling them that they have won an Honest Scrap Award.

  3. List 10 honest things about yourself.

OK, those are the award rules. In addition, my personal rules for selecting nominees are as follows -

  • If I follow you, I already think you are awesome. So everyone on my follow list is award eligible.

  • I will try not renominate anyone that I have tagged recently. I am trying not to give a lot of homework.

  • I will not be upset or offended if you don't have time or inclination to play the game. If you want to grab your award and make a breif acceptance speech (I will have my musical director play you off if you go over 200 characters), then that's ok too. This is about showing appreciation, not making people stress over the process.

  • If I visit your site and see no evdience of awards, I will assume that you are not a player and will not nominate you. If I have gotten this wrong (ie. your blog is very new or all your awards got wiped out in a bizarre computing accident), then just let me know in the comments section that you are game and I will pounce like a tiger the next award I get.

Phew! That was a lot of pre-show. And the nominees are (drumroll please):

Pee Wee over at Ummmm - Also known as the Yoga Bitch, girlfriend cracks me up. I particulartly like her Granny Bitch segments.

Angelika - One of the first blogs I started reading. She's more than a little obsessed with House.

Learning the Art of Slow - Jen has a lovely take on life.

Talk of the Dog - I love to keep up with what Haley is doing over in her back yard in California. Her 10 truths would be interesting. Like, why the neighbor's cat is missing, the origin of that yellow stain in the living room, etc.

Aria at Aria'z Ink - To her, parenting is R rated. I think she's on to something there.

Hmmm. That's only five. Oh, well. Anyone else on my reader list either recently got an award from me or does not show any visible interest in awards on their blog. Please know that if I read you, I heart you and would love to nominate you, but I don't want to impose. Yes, this is from the same woman that got mideval on a Marshalls employees ass with a pile of socks. Out of character does not even begin to cover that incident. OK, no more digression. On to my truth or my 'T' as the fabulous Lady Chablis likes to say. And for those of you that know her, NO, I don't hide my candy.

  1. I have a terrible memory. If I don't write it down, it's like it never happened.

  2. I dropped out of the Girl Scouts because I couldn't sew and I the pressure to get my sewing badge was making me stabby.

  3. I hate many vegetables and once threw up on my plate when forced to eat spinach. Laugh if you will, but I think it was a brilliant strategic move - I was never asked to eat spinach again.

  4. When they put sewers in my neighborhood back in the 70's, a friend and I stole all the construction road signs and built a two story fort out of them.

  5. I have a soft spot for Adam Sandler movies (pre-Zohan anyway). Little Nicky is a favorite. Iknow, I know. NOBODY liked Little Nicky.

  6. I like Halloween almost as much as Christmas and I decorate for them equally.

  7. I like to use bold paint colors in my house. I do not have a single white wall anywhere.

  8. I am starting to get old enough to not know some of the bands that my son listens to. The Devil Wears Prada? Taking Back Sunday? Who ARE these people?

  9. I love, love, love lasagne and homemade apple pie.

  10. I don't know what to write for 10. It's not interesting, but it is certainly honest.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Flirting With Disaster

Warning: This post contains salty language and sock-abuse. It is impossible to tell the story without the dialogue. Turn back if you aren't up for it and come back tomorrow when my blog goes back to a mild PG rating.

When I hear women tell stories of severe post-partum depression, I have an aching sympathy and understanding of how frightening it is and how out of control it makes you feel. My own post-partum was very mild, but the impact of the shift in hormones was wildly evident to me and to those around me.

With my first child, I don't think I had post-partum as much as "IdontknowwhattheEFFi'mdoingitis", so my "depression" was more situational and panic related than an actual case of the blues. With my daughter, it was different. I had all the confidence in the world as a mom the second time around, so having a newborn was neither foreign nor scary. But for some strange reason, it also wasn't joyful.

I can remember feeling a very distinct crash after I delivered that seemed to stay with me. And when I got home from the hospital, I was not only sad and tired, I started to get that angsty, PMS feeling. You know, the one where you want to stab the mailman with a fork for bringing the wrong ratio of junk and real mail or sew the legs of your husband's pants closed because he forgot to put the wet wash in the dryer. It was like that, but amped up. So, let's just say that I was not one to be messed with and one clerk at Marshalls was about to find out the hard way.

It was two weeks into June and I had to get on the ball and shop for Father's Day gifts. I am a little obsessive about shopping for occasions as anyone that has ever gone Christmas shopping in July with me can attest. My husband desperately needed two things that year - socks, as the sock monster had managed to steal one from almost every pair and dress shoes for work. I figured that the sock shopping would be easy, I could head up to the shopping center nearest to my house where there were two stores that I could purchase men's socks from. My goal was to fill a big box with socks and thwart the sock monster through sheer volume.

I hit Marshalls because, as any mom shopping with small kids will tell you, the store that offers a shopping cart for me to store my children in, wins. My three year old son was uncharacteristically cranky that day and had been badgering me in the car about wanting Pokemon action figures. Knowing that with a one month old in a bucket and a three year old, my shopping time was limited at best. I tried to prepare him in advance that this was not a toy shopping trip and that we would go shopping for Pokemon figures at Toys R Us after daddy got home. We always tried to reason with him and he was good about it most of the time, but this was not one of those times.

I rolled into Marshalls with my daughter in the bottom of the cart in her bucket and my son sitting in the top part of the cart. My daughter was sleeping soundly and he seemed like he was finally settled over the Pokemon toy. I knew that time was of the essence, because if she woke up, our shopping would come to an abrupt end. With the focus and precision of a laser beam, I headed directly to men's socks, not realizing that it butts directly up against the toy section. As I rolled the cart slowly along the sock aisle, something shiny and Pokemon colored caught the boy's eye and he began to pester me to go to toys. I gently reminded him that we were here for daddy, Toys R Us later, blah, blah, blah. But he would have none of it and he started to cry. Nothing I said was going to deter him from airing his grievances as loudly as possible. And for you mother's out there, you know that it is both angst producing and completely mortifying when your child cries in a store. You feel like people are going to start lining up, like in the movie Airplane, to slap you in the face and then place a blue ribbon on your chest for "Bad Mother of the Year".

With the boy going off like a siren, I started wildly grabbing socks, any socks off the shelf. Picture of Santa on 'em? Don't care. Purple argyle Donny Osmond jobbies? He'll deal with it. My original target number was 20 pairs of black dress socks for the twenty work days in a month, but by the time I got to a rainbow colored pile of what looked like 14 pairs of clown socks, I figured I should just rush to the register and cut my losses.

Of course, Marshalls being Marshalls, was not going to let me out without waiting on an insufferably long line. I got in queue and hoped that there wouldn't be someone in front of me that wanted to haggle with the cashier about the price of an already deeply discounted blouse that got stepped on, therefore they should take an extra 20% off for the shoe print. As usual, the line moved at a snails pace and my son continued to scream and cry - "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah I need Peeeeeeeeeeeekachooooooooooooooooo." Both of my children have the lung power of Pavarotti, so his wail was glass shatteringly loud.

As expected, unpriced merchandise, people that felt the need to argue over something or another, coupon users and check writers were all holding up the line. By the time I was next in line, my son had been screaming for a solid 15 minutes. It was about this time that the cashier looked up at me from her register, dramatically covered both ears with her hands and said "Lady, please, control your child. . . ". Well, dear readers, it was at that very moment that learned what it meant to "see red". Some cashier bitch was going to tell me how to parent my child? I think not. What happened next is etched in my mind forever as the most out of control moment that I have ever experienced in a public place.

I stood there with my mouth agape for a second, staring her down like cheetah getting ready to pounce a gazelle. And what flew out of my mouth was an F bomb laden tirade like I had NEVER launched before - "FuuuuuuuuCK you!" I screamed. And with that, I picked up all fourteen pairs of socks and I hurled them in her direction, knocking over the price display on the register and raining down all over the counter. "Who the FUCK do you think you are telling ME what to do with my kid. You are out of your mother fucking mind to talk to me like that." And with that, I turned on my heel and motored out of the store, cursing a blue streak the entire way back to the car. "I'm never coming back to this piece of shit store. What kind of store employs a rude bitch like that? Haven't they ever heard of customer service?" . . .and so on.

When I got in the car I broke down and sobbed uncontrollably. Not because I pitched a pile of socks at a cashier and not because I was embarrased by what the other shoppers thought of my behavior. I sobbed because I had done all of that in front of my son. And when I finally settled down, I turned around and looked at him sitting in his carseat. I slowly and carefully explained to him that what I had done was wrong and that I was sorry that he saw it and that I would never do that again. He looked up at me with his big brown doe eyes and said "OK mommy. Can we go to Toys R Us and get a Pikachu?" In that moment, I knew that he was focused on his own desires and not my behavior. As a matter of fact, he kept screaming and crying for Pikachu through the entire episode and thankfully, little missy in the bucket never budged.

I backed the car out of the parking space and headed out toward the exit, but instead of turning left toward home, I turned right and headed to Toys R Us. Did I want to reward his tantrum? No. Did I want to celebrate the fact that he did not pay attention to mine? You bet your ass!

*Editor's Note: It is important to clarify that I had never before or ever since said as much as boo to anyone that waited on me for any reason. I avoid confrontation like the plague. However, when I've got my hormone balls on, look out.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tell 'Em What They've Won, Rod Roddy!


- - - - - - - Drumroll please. - - - - - - - -

And the winner is Amy from Good Bye 20's. . .Hello Botox. Congratulations Amy!

So what does this mean to you? Well, it means that you get your blog name prominently featured on the least read blog on the Internet (you lucky devil, you) and you get one, brand-spankin new, ever-so-sanitary, better than a pile of babies, puppies and rock stars box of vinyl gloves!!!!!!!!!! Yeah, that's right bitches! Amy is the proud owner of a 100 count box of vinyl glovin (cue porn music). Also, to go along with your prominent feature on the least read blog on the Internet (it's good to be the best at something, I tell ya) I am going to send you a baseball hat emblazoned with the name and url of the aforementioned, least read blog on the Internet. This is a slick promotional move on my part as it is sure to up my readership by the one person that will see you wear it when you make a febrile run to the store for Theraflu at 2:00 am and need to cover your hair with something, anything, even this piece of crap hat!

You rock Amy. Use your gloves as you see fit. You're a grownup and shit.

So, the purpose behind the 100th blogtacular celebration and give away was to get some feedback from you folks on ways that I can improve my blog. I was hoping that you'd let me know whether I post too little or too much, that I needed a face lift or that you'd send me requests to add more content about the Amish (I know, I know, I already took ALL the air out of that subject). But, you were all too kind and did not want to hurt my bloggy feelings, so I got very little in the way of direction on the blog. So guess what? It stays the bleedin same. All except for three suggestions, that I think bear some consideration:

1) Wendi Aarons proved her genius for comedy and her advertising and promotional savvy by suggesting that I did not have enough beauty shots of ham. Well dammit, she is SO right. So I am adding a picture and a call out right under my masthead that screams - Now With More Ham! I have also added a little picture of a beautifully glazed ham, for those of you that are horny for food porn. Thanks Wendi!

2) Lin over at Duck and Wheel with String suggested more photos of Brownie the Wonder Dog and Spike the Hotness Monster. Look Lin, I know that the Spiker is compelling subject. He has a catly appeal that is way off the charts. However, too many viewings of him in repose could cause your eyelashes to burst into flames and then where would I be? In court, perhaps? I'll amp it up a little, but I have to keep a bit of a lid on some of that unbridled sex appeal.

3) Aunt Becky over at Mommy Wants Vodka said that I did not have enough odes to her. I have professed much bloggy love for her on these pages , but I am clearly not hitting it out of the park, so, I have gone ahead and worked up a little ode. Elizabeth Barret Browning is spinning like a top right now. Sorry Liz, hadda show mad love for Aunt Becky, even if it is a heinously constructed abuse use of your work. I am clearly not a poet and I am pretty sure that next time, I'll just mail her a box of candy.

How do I love Aunt Becky? Let me count the ways.
I love her to the depth and breadth and height
Her corn rows can reach, when dancing with a white girl's overbite
For the ends of those rows are beaded and full of corny goodness.
I love thee to the level of orchids oer which I can barely see
By land, sea, air and internets
I love thee freely, as if loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right
I love thee purely, as the mortified face of your Daver when buying love toys
I love thee with a passion put to use in selection of over-styled glasses
I love thee as thy fingers do tap, tap, tap at keys where humor abounds
I love thee with the love of a belly laugh expressed or silent tear shed
With your lost sleep, --- to love you as a fist full of vicodin doth offer comfort
Smiles, tears, of all your life in the sausage factory --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after purchase of a scanner to see more pictures of thy flaxen hair assaulted with pink extensions.

Thanks to everyone that entered. Here's hoping that I can get to 200 and give away something better than some vinyl gloves. Can you say potted meat?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

100th Post Spectacular - You're Gonna Need Protection

We here at Diary of a Mad Bathroom have reached an important milestone - our 100th post. And when I say "we" we all know, it's just little old me. This milestone is important because I never imagined that I would ever get to anywhere near 100 posts. I have an attention span (and sense of humor) that has more in common with a nine year old boy than a woman of advancing years, so I am not apt to stick to anything. There was no way for me to predict that I would love, no, crave like a Wall Street crack whore in a down economy, the process of blogging.

So to commemorate this event, I want to give away something that is emblematic of the neurotic life that you read about here at Diary. As you may have guessed by now, I am more than a little nutty and I have some phobias. One of my weirdest is a phobia of touching raw meat. This phobia is in diametric opposition to my love of cooking and my natural carnivorous cravings. Because of these opposing drives, I have resorted to wearing vinyl gloves every time I touch a chicken cutlet or roll a meatball. As such, I go through more vinyl gloves than the staff gyno at the chicken ranch. It has become a matter of practicality for me to buy them in bulk quantities from a restaurant supply house.

Part of my weirdness with meat is fear of cross contamination and the other part of it is just the cold and slimy feel of it. And because I feel so strongly about food safety (for reals here, no joke), I want to give away a 100 count box of my favorite vinyl gloves to a lucky(?) reader along with a special surprise treat to be revealed after the winner is selected. Strange, I know but it's rooted in love and concern and my family will tell you that I truly live by these things. Like I always say - "No glove, no (pork rib) love."

To be in the running for the strangest give-away ever conceived of, all you have to do is comment or write me an e-mail (SUBJECT: Glove Love) with your suggestions for my blog. Tell me your likes, dislikes and thoughts for improvement. I am considering making some changes, but I don't want to change anything that ain't broke. I am looking for all feedback as long as it is respectful and constructive. I reserve the right to disqualify trolls and a-holes (at my sole discretion) and I will have to exclude my my friends and family because that just wouldn't look good. Besides they all get boxes of vinyl gloves under the Christmas tree.

To select a winner, I will put all entries in a hat and have a disinterested third party (probably my husband) pull the name of the winner. I will contact you via e-mail if you win, so please make sure that if you enter via comments, that I can link back to your blog to get your contact information. If you don't have a blog with contact info, please enter via e-mail at diaryofamadbathroom@gmail.com with the subject of "100th Post Glove Love".

The contest end date and time is 9:00 PM EST, Sunday, September 20th. Good luck and may you touch lots of meat as a result. Hey you, don't do it! You know that you are having a Beavis and Butthead reaction to that last line. You know that's not what I meant . . . though, what you do with your gloves is entirely up to you. We don't judge.
Just cause Aunt Becky said so - wmode="transparent">

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back to School is Not Well Tolerated by the Animal Kingdom

"No. This is not my guilty look. I look like this all the time. Really. I'm totes serious."

It was back to school week around these parts and I must say, it did my heart and mind a lot of good. After a summer of camp, loafing, bickering and road trips (and bickering on road trips), my children needed some direction and structure back in their week. However, it does not appear that all of the residents of our home are adjusting as well as I am.

First of all, Brownie the Wonder Dog, (formerly) the most perfect dog in the universe has begun acting out in some very strange ways. To start with, she peed on the dining room rug yesterday morning. WTF? She is almost five years old and has been housebroken for most of that time. What brought this on? We spent the entire day with enzymatic cleaning fluid and the steam cleaner trying to get the rug pee-free. I can't for the life of me imagine why she decided that my oriental rug is the same as that yellow patch of grass in the back yard but I will not tolerate it. I am not above putting diapers on a bitch, I have done it before (Emma the schizophrenic beagle, you who I'm talking about).

Later that evening I had my brother, sister-in-law and nephew over for dinner. In celebration of the cooler weather and my willingness to keep the oven on ALL DAY, I made roast beef and a home made apple pie and both turned out pretty well. Sometime during the dinner, Brownie stretched her long basset body up on to the counter and swiped the uncut half of the roast that was sitting on the cutting board. It was a total ninja move as we never saw or heard a thing. Then after everyone left and we went to bed, she snuck into the dining room and polished off the remaining half an apple pie. The only way that she could have done this would be to get ON the table. I got up this morning, anticipating a slice of homemade goodness and I found the pie plate had been licked clean. Brownie is generally a very lazy dog and she has bad hips, so she will normally only steal what she can easily reach. It required what I can only describe as a gymnastic prowess and determination to reach these two items. I wish I had been in the dining room to witness her dismount.

Then this morning my husband opened the door to find what looked like an exploded tribble on my doorstep. Spike the Hotness Monster had torn some poor creature apart in a most brutal and grizzly manner. He normally keeps his kills to small mice and the occasional bird, but this thing had heft. There were tufts of gray/brown fur all over the front step and the fat and happy hunter was nowhere to be found. After viewing his handiwork, I assume that he is passed out in a food coma under his favorite shrub.

I can't help but wonder if their off behavior is a reaction to the suddenly empty house. Having the kids home and figthing with each other has become their version of normal for the past few months. Or maybe they sense some other disturbance in the force. They say that animals act strangely when an earthquake or other natural disaster is coming. Being that I live on an island, I'm wondering if I should shutter off the house and have my blow up raft at the ready.

But not even this collection of uncharacteristic and inconvenient behavior can steal my happiness over the dawning of a new school year. However, if they do it again, I am putting both their asses on Craigs List under the title "Pets or Meat" *

* Don't get all PETA on me. It was a joke.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


For all of my life I have had a problem getting out of my own way. I am clumsy to the point where I have eschewed all embarrassment because to allow it would mean that I would be in a constant state of it. Luckily, I have managed to keep my bone breakage to a minimum outside of about 7 or 8 broken toes. Not all at once mind you. I am a serial toe breaker. And I can sprain an ankle like nobodies business.

I have what people commonly refer to as "weak ankles". All of a sudden my ankle refuses support and it turns. It's almost like my foot and my ankle have these brief separations where the ankle tells the foot "I hate you. My mother was right about you all along. I'm leaving!" Only to turn around and come back to the big lug right away.

The problem is exacerbated by uneven surfaces - cracked pavement, curbs, rocks and pebbles in the street, transition from pavement to grass. All of those things have all done me in at one time or another. Picture this - I am in Manhattan walking across the heart of Times Square. It is crowded, all bodies and madness. I have my bag on my shoulder and my cell phone in my hand, about to make a call. The light turns green and the MASS of humanity starts to traverse the wide intersection. Around midway through, I step on a rogue pebble, about the size of a lima bean and DOWN GOES DG! DOWN GOES DG! My cell phone skitters into the intersection like a hockey puck across the ice and the entire contents of my bag are splayed across the walkway for random feet to trample with glee and abandon. The only saving grace of that situation was that I wasn't wearing a skirt.

Then there was the time that I was talking to a new coworker about the shitstorm of crazy that she had gotten herself into by taking a job with us. I pulled her outside so that we could talk in privacy while she grabbed a smoke. We were the same height, so we were talking face to face and very intensely about her new boss. Suddenly I was no longer looking her in the eye, but looking her in the nose. My right ankle decided it was quitting time and just went out. I was standing stock still, but her shift was over, so tough luck lady.

But my worst ankle disaster happened in front of the food store. I was walking out with a bag of groceries that were piled high. I could barely see past the oranges that were crowning over the top of the bag. I stepped off the curb expecting it to be the same height as the curb that I could see to the left and right of me, but I was actually stepping off at a storm drain, which was a good 8 inches deeper than the curb and I went over, hard. Oranges rolled all over the parking lot as I laid there for a second uncertain of what had just happened to me. A nice man came over and helped me up. This time was different though, I really could not walk on my ankle at all. The nice man helped me back to my car and I headed off to the doctor the next morning. I had managed to tear the ligaments of the ankle just shy of needing surgery (thank you). Instead, I hobbled around in the snow in a blow-up cast for a couple of weeks.

Yeah, I'm a klutz to be sure. Add to the weak ankles the fact that I can't pilot a shopping cart without bashing into things, open a cabinet without smashing my noggin on it or slice a cucumber without taking a hunk off an unsuspecting finger and you've got the delicious stew of clumsiness that is my life. And I have an army of family and friends that get tremendous entertainment value out of my misfortunes. Who am I to rob them of a good time? Oooh, look is that an exposed wire? Wonder what will happen if I . . . pffffffftt.

Wanna see my new perm?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Country Mouse, City Mice

For months now my daughter has been harassing my mother to take her for a weekend at my mom's bungalow in the Catskill Mountains of NY. We had a couple of false starts with planned weekends that fell through for one reason or another. Somewhere along the road to the bungalow, the trip morphed from a grandmother and granddaughter trip to a grandmother, mother and daughter trip on Labor Day weekend.

My mother's bungalow has been in her family for over 80 years. It was originally a summer cottage occupying the southern corner of my my great aunt's property. When first built it had no electricity or toilet, but it was gradually modernized over the years. However, even in its most modern form, it is still a semi-rough stay for a lazy suburbanite like myself. Given a choice, I'd take room service, indoor pools and spa treatments every time, but this getaway is about family and nostalgia as opposed to pampering, so I go there with my expectations well managed and usually have a great time.

My mom first bought the bungalow from her cousin back in the late 80's. It had fallen into disrepair after my mom's aunt died and seeing it so run down made her very sad. This was the place where she had spent all of her summers as a kid and with a significant amount of her family still living up there, full time, she had a strong connection to the place. Our nostalgia for the place was rooted in our history and it was very difficult to get others to feel the same way about it. I had tried a to bring my husband up to the mountain a couple of times and while we were dating, he played along. Once we were married, he never set foot in the Catskill mountains again.

Although my mom had put in a modern kitchen and bath, enclosed the front porch to create more living space, painted, carpeted and vinyl sided the place, the bungalow still had certain "charms" that were a little hard to stomach. For one thing, the water smells like rotten eggs. It is a problem shared by all homes on the mountain. We have heard all kinds of theories about why it smells. The most popular theory is that sulfur from the dynamite they used to blast through the mountain to build the NY Thruway infiltrated the water table. But the truth is, that no one really knows. And because the bungalow sits on a shady mountain road, it gets a little damp and musty smelling. But more than anything, the "charm" that keeps the non-blood relatives away is the critters. And by critters, I the mean the various mice, squirrels and chipmunks that have made their way into the cabin over the years.

We got a late start Friday night in an attempt to avoid all of the outbound labor day traffic. By the time we got to the bungalow, it was 11:00 pm. My mom opened the door and the familiar musty smell of mountain cabin hit me in the face. The place looked absolutely immaculate because we always clean and leave it perfect for the next visit, but it never smells like it looks. We unloaded the car and began the critter inspection. Sure enough, there were tell-tale signs of Micky and friends having a party while we were away. Not only were there scattered mouse doodies here and there, it looked like some larger creature had binged on beer and bratwurst and left the remnants of his party in the shower. We immediately began cleaning and sanitizing inch of the place. While my mother and I went on mouse poop patrol, my daughter, exhausted from complaining the entire four hour car ride, passed out on the couch.

By 1:30 am we were exhausted but confident that everything had been sufficiently bleached and Lysoled within an inch of its life. Ready to finally take a load off from the long drive, I sat down in the arm chair across from the TV, grabbed the remote and started flipping channels. My mom was still cleaning in the little bedroom directly across from me, vacuuming the cobwebs out of the corners. All of a sudden I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was a black foam ball, like they use to cover microphones and that it came bouncing out of the bedroom. When my mother finally turned off the vacuum I told her "I think I saw something." She pressed me for what I meant by "something". "Well, I saw what I thought was a black foam mic cover bounce along the molding, but since this is not Electric Lady Studios, the possibility of that is pretty slim." On cue, the microphone cover darted into the middle of the room and froze.

It was a little gray mouse, no bigger than a dinner roll. We eyeballed each other for a split second and he bolted for the other bedroom. I screamed to my mother "I just saw him. He looked at me all wild eyed." My mother started screaming about how she wouldn't be able to sleep, knowing that he was in the bungalow. At this point, the commotion had woken up my daughter, who quickly caught on to what was happening. So she started to cry and scream and completely freak out. Here we were, three crazed women, screeching in a cabin in the woods at 1:30 in the morning where prior to our arrival there had been nothing but the sound of a babbling brook breaking church-like silence.

It took twenty minutes to convince my daughter that the mouse did not want to eat her and that she could safely go back to sleep. It's easy to be the calm and rational parent when trying to soothe your child, but the truth is, somewhere in the back of my mind I had a vision of rodents nibbling at my silver chrome painted toenails and I was a little wigged out. We all slept with one eye open that night, culminating in maybe 2 1/2 hours of actual snoozing. When we recounted the story to our Catskill cousins, they laughed at us and told us that we were spoiled city brats.

By the time that Saturday night came, we were so exhausted from not sleeping that we passed out at 10:00. As we were packing up to leave on Sunday morning, it occurred to me that we never saw another mouse or evidence of mice after we cleaned up on Friday night. I guess our presence had put the kibosh on Mr. Mouse's Labor Day party plans.

When I pulled into the driveway at home, my cat Spike the Hotness Monster was laying in the grass looking positively beatific. I walked over to him and he purred and rolled to show me his belly. As he turned over I could see that something had been trapped under his paw. It was a little gray mouse, stunned but still alive. I nudged Spike out of the way to let the mouse free. The mouse paused a second, uncertain of his freedom then scampered off toward the garden.

I gave Spike an appreciative scratch behind the ears and walked toward the house. I knew that he was the main reason that no vermin ever infiltrated my house. I made myself a pot of coffee and thought about the way that my cousins tormented us for our reaction to the mouse. It wasn't that I was so citified that I never saw or dealt with a mouse, I was just smart enough to have The Hotness Monster on patrol. They can laugh all they want. At least I won't be showering in egg water tonight.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

If You Love Me You Won't Make Me

I called my mother from work yesterday to check in on how she and my daughter were doing on their sewing project. They had been trying to make a pair of pajama pants since my daughter got her sewing machine back in April. The project kept getting delayed due to mechanical and logistical issues and with all those problems, the last thing they needed was any participation from me. It was best to do this while I was tucked away safely at work.

Let me be completely clear when I say that I am sewing box poison. I can't sew a button, hem a pair of pants or (gasp) sew an actual garment. Believe me, I am not overstating my ineptitude in the least. My seventh grade Home Economics final project, a simple ruffled sundress , was so poorly constructed that my teacher announced as I walked the classroom runway in my garment "Here's DG wearing a traditional Lakota Sioux tee pee. Kudos to her for her creativity and cultural awareness."

When I asked my mom how the project was going, she launched into a diatribe about knots in her bobbin, feeder foot issues and a litany of thread related disasters. After the third sewing crisis, I checked out of the conversation and read e-mail until she finished. Her problems were exactly why I don't sew. That, coupled with an inability to cut a pattern or thread a needle. Finally, she reached the end of the sewing disaster list and said. "Oh! I have a treat for your cat!" I thought for a minute before responding. What in the world could she have gotten for Spike the Hotness Monster?

Our cat, Spike the Hotness Monster is the coolest cat on the planet. He makes it very clear that he doesn't live with us, he suffers us for the fools that we are. Being that he is the pantheon of cool, he does not play with toys as that would be undignified and beneath him. When tempted with a toy, his general response is to remain in repose, but to slowly stretch out a single paw and make a half-hearted cupping motion in the toy's direction. Then he turns his head away slowly, with squinted eyes. A gesture that clearly says "you're an asshole for even trying.". So, what was the fabulous treat that she got my unbearably cool feline? "I got him three cans of Fancy Feast!" (cue record scratching noise)

Me: I am NOT feeding that cat canned cat food. It's gross and it smells and I gag through the entire thing. He has lived 10 glorious years on crunchies and he'll probably go another 10, just that way.

Mom: Oh, but you HAVE to see him eat it, he goes crazy for it.

Me: I don't care if he breakdances while eating it, I will not feed it to him.

Mom (unholstering her weapon of mass guilt): But he's so skinny.

Me: Duh, it's summer. He wants to fit in his bikini. Trust me, by Christmas time he'll look like a gray striped Hindenburg. Besides, I had a traumatic episode this morning.

Mom: What?

Me: I don't want to talk about it. I feel stupid.

Mom: You can tell me.

Ever the trusting soul, I shared my story. I had woken up that morning in a glorious mood. It was the first cool morning of September and I could feel the 'Back to School' in the air. As such, I was feeling generous toward Brownie the Wonder Dog and decided to add a package of wet food on top of her crunchies. Needless to say, this job usually waits for the kids or my husband, but since he was out of town and it would be a while until the kids were up, I took it on. I had purchased these envelopes of gravy laden stew-like wet food, figuring that if I did have to feed her, I'd just tear and pour. No mess, no stress, no spooning out congealed horse parts. So I grabbed a packet and ripped off the top of the envelope. Well, I guess the crisp air had given me a little too much enthusiasm, because I ripped with gusto and sent food and gravy bits flying in all directions, including the direction of my face and hair.

I stood there frozen as gravy dripped in my eye, lips hermetically sealed for fear of infiltration by the gelatinous goo. The dog whined and shimmied at my feet as I quietly gagged a little. Finally, I poured the food in her bowl and once certain that I had stopped dripping, ran into the house, then into the shower and the comfort of a good scrubbing.

The reaction from my mom was probably not what I was looking for in this situation. I was hoping that she'd adopt a June Cleaver-like tone and tell me "It's OK dear, I'll keep the cat food here and feed it to my cats" But that's not what happened. As it turns out I finished out the remainder of our conversation talking to the linoleum in her kitchen, because I'm pretty sure my mother dropped the phone in a fit of hysterical laughter. As a matter of fact, I'd place a pretty large bet on the fact that she was bent over holding her stomach and convulsing with laughter. Feeling defeated, I weakly told the floor "Now I am definitely not feeding that crap to the cat" . Of course my mother couldn't hear this as she was too busy reveling in my comeuppance. The laughter trailed off and there was a sudden click. Ah, maternal support.

Of course I ended up taking the catfood home. Lucky for me there is a petfood drive starting at work next week. And just guess who will be laughing and reaping the karmic goodwill as she drops three delicious cans of Fancy Feast in the box for the Town of Islip shelter? I'm not saying, but her name rhymes with firey.


You wanna say no, but you can't say no. So you take the gravy shower.