22 August 2008

Cat Box: Non-Transferable

So Wednesday, as I pull in to my driveway and prepare to unload the massive amount of shit necessary to sustain me at work and Bird at daycare, my 10-year-old neighbor, Littel, comes running into the yard.

"You still got my litterbox?"

I don't even have one foot out of the car yet.


"I need my litterbox back. I'm getting a new cat next week."

Oh, right. Littel's former cat, Brownie, ran away last fall. Being a sweet kid at his core, he brought over Brownie's litterbox, all cleaned out and ready to receive more disgusting cat shit.
He wanted to know if we might need it for Thomas.

Having used the same litterbox for nine years, we accepted.

"Littel, that litterbox is full of poop. I don't think you want it."

"Can't you just clean it out?"

"Do you have the cat right now?"

"No. My friend has it. I'm getting it in a couple days."

"I'm just going to have to get a new one for you. I'm not cleaning that thing out. Besides, we don't exactly have another litterbox on hand."

You know, since I wasn't aware this was a loan. CAT BOXES ARE NOT LOANER ITEMS in my world.

"Well, okay, but I need that litterbox back."

Littel ran back down the hill into his house. I got my nine bags of various shit plus preschooler plus the day's preschool artwork out of the car.

Two minutes later, he was back, knocking on our door.

"I need my scooper back."

"Excuse me?"

"My scooper. I need it back."

"Littel. I'm telling you. It's covered in poop. I don't think you want it back."

"Wash it off, then. I need it."


"Not right now, but I'm going to. My mama says she can't find that same scooper no more at KMart."

I tell him to hold on. I grab the shit-covered scooper and hand it to him as-is, caked with stinky, vile cat shit.

"There's your scooper. I'll get you a new litterbox tomorrow."

"Well, I'm not getting the cat for a few days."


Littel shrugs.

I close the door. I tell A. to buy the f-ing kid an f-ing litterbox, and vow never, ever to exchange goods-- even shitboxes-- with a ten-year-old again. And the thing is? It was undoubtedly Crazy M that sent him over to take back his litterbox in the first place. This is the same woman that sent him over to bang on our door at 11pm because someone was parked in "her" parking spot on the PUBLIC STREET, the woman who "gave" A. a pair of sneakers for Birdy, which were ugly and unsafe but which A. accepted so as not to hurt her feelings, and then sent Littel over the next day demanding $10 for the f-ing things. Gah. I could go on.

I know, I know. If we lived in nice, sterile, non-ghetto suburbia I'd still have a crazy neighbor, probably some busybody all up in my business or ferociously wanting to sell me some Mary Kay or wanting me to remove the one-winged gargoyle from the front porch (true) or getting all concerned about my country backyard clothesline*. But I live in a colorful little "emerging" neighborhood, and I have Crazy M and Littel, Drunken Teacher, Big Marvin, Friendly Hispanic Mechanic, and the Flower Sisters. And truthfully, I'll take them over a buttoned-down cul-du-sac any day of the week. Even if it costs me a cat box every now and again, I guess. But I'm going to be pissed off for a while. And it doesn't help that Littel just picked about 8 gorgeous-but-still-very-green tomatoes from my garden.

*Still diggin' the clothesline, by the way. Most people I've told about it seem very excited, though maybe they're just being kind. When a very senior-level person at work heard about it she said, "like, in your backyard?" Like I was slaughtering chickens in a voodoo ritual in the alley or something. Which I am not. Because I am vegetarian, and because I would not risk getting chicken guts on my crisp, clean sheets as they're hanging out to dry.

21 August 2008

Where's my Ouija

I had a nice little chat with my friend Stingray today on IM, following up on the progress of his house-buying adventures. I suggested that a previous offer that fell through was meant to be, because the house was built on a Native American burial ground. He said he wouldn't mind a mild haunting, a little blood on the walls, whatever. I said I'd like a poltergeist that folds laundry. Hello, friendly, helpful haunts! Find me on the Eastside!

11 August 2008

Recipe Corner: Tomato Pie

I made this for Sunday Dinner last week. No idea where it came from... wish I could give credit but it's one of those things I think photocopied from a library cookbook when we still lived in Indiana and waited eight years to try. But it was worth it.

2 frozen pie crusts
Grated swiss cheese (I grated about a pound? Yeah, probably a pound.)
4-ish ripe tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Dijon mustard
about 10 Fresh basil leaves

Spread a thinnish layer of dijon mustard all over the bottom and sides of the pie crusts. I used a basting brush and it worked great. Kept it kind of thick-ish, like you're spreading it for a dijon mustard commercial.

Put the cheese in the pie crusts.

Arrange the tomatoes on top of the cheese. You will have to cut some of them into smaller pieces to achieve maximum tomato coverage.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.

top with basil after it comes out of the oven. I just washed the leaves, made a little stack and cut strips with kitchen shears. Sprinkled. Worked fine.


Best Most Productive Simplified Dream Life Forever

Look out. Mama's been reading the Life Coachy blogs again. And thinking about work and what I want for myself and my family.*
(here, here, here)

I wrote a long post about my job just now, about work and time and money and what is most valuable, and then deleted it. I have google documents filled with the detailed ins and outs and pros and cons and goals and dreams, questioning and second-guessing everything. I talk openly with friends and family about my wrestlings, but I often forget to remind them that this constant verbal self-debate is my process for figuring things out, and I end up sounding either depressed or whiny or lost or some combination of all three. I start talking about it and I wear myself out, hang it up, and just go to work in the morning. I have a good job. It's very different from my old job. And I'm adjusting.

*My typical blog reading alternates between beautiful design-focused art and home inspiration blogs and frugal/ non-consumer/ budgeting/ quit your job articles. Good things cannot come of this combination.

08 August 2008

Punch, Cross, Hook, Upper

There was a staff picture today at work. It was emailed to everyone. It wasn't my prettiest day. Ill-fitting clothes, dough-white legs, dried strawberry smoothie in my hair that I wouldn't find until about 4:30. The smoothie didn't show up in the photo, but the ill-fitting skirt really, uh, highlighted the ole midsection.

Reminding me why I've been getting up at 5:30 and doing a kickboxing workout video* in my garage for the past week. And damn, am I uncoordinated. But I'm doing it alone, before anyone is stirring, and when that little muscle-bound Australian smiles at me from the screen and says, "Yew deed grite!" I'm all like "F-YEAH I DID EFFING GREAT" and my mornings start to feel a little bouncier. Hopefully my midsection will soon feel less so.

And now, the story you've been waiting for
I've started buying dried beans instead of canned. And when you eat as many beans as I do, that's actually worth mentioning. The thing is that I've been buying them, but usually bail out or plan poorly and turn to a can in a pinch. I finally had the foresight to soak 2 cups of black beans all day yesterday only to realize as I started dinner that I was looking at another couple of hours to COOK the damn things. I ended up going to Ghetto Grocery (which smelled suspiciously pukey) for a can of beans, and all told, the big pot of beans caught up with the pot of canned beans and they all finished cooking at the same time, which is to say that I have a veritable shitload of black beans in my refrigerator. And which is also to say that while you may pay half as much for dried beans, they're going to require a nice, clear page in your planner.

* I let A. preview the kickboxing video with me. The line I hear about a hundred times a day, in an exaggerated Australian accent? "Yer riddy feh anything. Lit's jump some raope!"

07 August 2008


And now, my other grandfather has become more and more sick, upsetting the delicate balance of health conditions that have somehow kept each other in check and allowed him to have pieces and parts replaced along the way without missing much more than a beat. But there's been a decline, and a rapid one. He's been in the hospital all but three weeks since January. All I'm hoping for is that he can come home to his house and sleep next to my Granny for just a little bit longer. Kind thoughts, please. It has been a rough year in the grandparent department.

05 August 2008

Summer Dress

My big girl, in her sweet new dress from Great Grandma O.

Three is only about two months away.
Looks like I'm going to need another one of these.

03 August 2008

City Mice

Okay, can I contradict that last post? Yesterday we woke up and got to cruisin' before the Tennessee heat sat it's nasty, humid self down on the rim of the bowl where my city is nestled.

With Birdy strapped into her "drive bike" we pedaled to the library to pick up a book A. had requested, to the bike shop to get a new helmet for the now-preschool-sized head, and to the old-timey hardware store with the lazy cats in the window for a big honkin' bag of clothespins. And that was a pretty good time.

During one of my epic whines to A. about moving to the country, he explained that while he loves the big green leafy peace of the rural midwest/ southeast as much as the next guy, he feels more comfortable as a part of a big living breathing community where the constant motion and contact of the parts keeps the whole thing sputtering along, taking care of itself. And you know, I agree with that just as much as I want to can vegetables and let my dogs and children run their little legs off without a fence or a sidewalk in sight. And yesterday satisfied my need for urban opportunities and small-town insulation, all within 7 blocks.

Welcome to my life: it's all indecision and restlessness and greener grass just around the corner sometimes. Admittedly, it's when I've got ants in the pants about some other, separate issue.

AND. To the anonymous donor who turned over his/ her bread machine to the Goodwill where it was sold to me for $12 :

Thank you, thank you, thank you for donating the instruction manual as well.

01 August 2008

Indiana, oh Indiana

I have been having more stirrings recently about moving out of the city. And the thing is, I love living in the city. I love living in MY city. We have the best friends in the world here, we love our Prius-and-Shitty-Cadillac neighborhood, we have short commutes and a fabulous public library, excellent daycare, progressive church and miles of greenway right outside our door.

But still.

I'll be going along minding my own business, doing my dishes or something and then WHAM! out of the blue I almost can't even see straight because the call is so strong for me to move my family out to the country and wear an apron and can what's left of my tomatoes, or rock a baby on my front porch and listen to the rain with nothing else on my agenda for the afternoon, plant lettuce in the fall, slow it all down, focus in. Let go of my urgencies, have some space to breathe.

In my head, this happens in Monroe County, Indiana, and when I listen to Bonnie Prince Billy, the need sometimes becomes an actual pain.
Have a listen.