10.30.2005

Look what the cat/surrogate mother dragged in...

Two weeks ago I talked to a woman who wanted to know if my cat Summer could have been pregnant. I told her no, that was quite impossible because she was 13 years old and spayed. End of story? Not quite.

The mother cat, aka not-Summer, abandoned her six kittens at the woman’s house so she (Kelly) had been bottle feeding them and called me again last week to see if I might like one. She was going out of town and hod no other option but to drop them off at the pound, and she worried they wouldn’t make it (they’re about three weeks old). So I stopped by her house on the way home from work.

I talked to Kelly – it turns out she had lived in MY house a few years ago (owner #2). What could I do – this was fate. So I took a kitten (or four) home.

The little white one will only take kitten formula from a bottle, while the rest of them have figured out how to climb in the bowl, then lick the stuff off their paws. My son’s already named one – Crackhead. I haven’t given up on Summer, but she is gonna be PISSED if she comes home to see four bottle-drinking, mewing fur balls in her house and kitty litter. And I? Have resigned myself to being that crazy cat lady on the corner.

10.20.2005

One owner - low miles, will trade.

If I was a car (I'd imagine myself a stylish '72 hardtop Jaguar, though in reality I'd probably be a '74 Ford Pinto) my emotional reservoir would be my "radiator" and the fluid levels have been running dangerously low. Since my cat's disappearance seventeen days ago, I have felt sadness, remorse, guilt, hope, worry, fear...and overwhelming loss. I TRY not to carry on about it here, not always successfully, but it doesn't mean she's not on my mind. I'm drained. Emotionally tapped. This is not an excuse, just an explanation.

During a road trip from Michigan to Alabama, my car DID overheat so I pulled over at a gas station near Ann Arbor to buy coolant. Two men had me follow them to their nearby house - at the end of a peninsula (gorgeous!) - and changed my thermostat, which was stuck, so I was able to get home without any trouble. If they ever read blogs: THANK YOU!!

Bonus car tips:

- Don't drive 50,000 miles before you get your tires rotated/balanced (cost: my entire $800 blackjack winnings).

- While in Italy, don't buy windshield wipers for an American car (cost: $52).

- Always check oil levels in older Mustangs. A "cracked engine block" IS as bad as it sounds (cost: one extremely pissed off uncle).

Keep on truckin'?

10.14.2005

Obsessive is not a four-letter word

I've always had a one-track mind, which plays continuous loops of food or alcohol thoughts. I feel like I might possibly be obsessing about my missing cat, but that's what I do. That's who I am, scoffing at sleep and food and, yes, beer, when something's going on in my life. I imagine if I didn't have a blog, I'd be emailing family, and attaching various cat photos...just to reminisce (who am I kidding? I do that anyway).

I managed to get Summer's photo put in our area newspaper classified ads. It's very tiny, but between that and the seventy-five fliers around town, I've gotten three phone calls.

#1: "Is your cat black?"

Um, no, that's why there's a PHOTO!
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#2: "I may have seen your cat..chasing chipmunks in my area."

This one was VERY promising, since my Summer did love bringing live chipmunks into the house for days of enjoyment (seriously, have you ever tried to catch one? They're like humingbirds...with legs). My two-year old son's version of the word was better...listening to him scream "motherfunk" every time he saw a chipmunk was well worth it.

"She's white and caramel-colored and has been around for about three months."

Nope. Sigh.
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#3: "I saw her about 3 days ago. I had to stop my car to let her cross the street - a white cat with a dark tail. She didn't seem to be in any hurry."

Yep, that's her. And remember I wrote a few days ago that my dog was a dumb blonde with ADD? Well...it turns out she took us to the location near this woman's house so perhaps I should have trusted her instincts.

Back to the search this weekend.

10.11.2005

Crazy apply within

Today, dear Leo, you might find yourself getting more irritated than you usually would at the quirks of friends, colleagues, partners, children.

I've ALWAYS enjoyed slightly off-the-wall people who don't think like everyone else (I have a co-worker who says "Are we having fun yet?" several times a day...I just want to punch him in his freakin' throat then throttle that skinny little twerp for being such a BORING, STUPID, walking cliche!). I see a pattern in the people I'm drawn to as friends: intelligent, quirky drinkers with wide-ranging, eclectic taste in music. They probably suffer from depression, and enjoy Taco Bell and Reese's candy.

My best friend/soulmate for many years is all of those things and more. She was a wonderful, caring nurse for many years, but started sneaking morphine to shoot up when the days got rough. She overdosed at work, lost her nursing license, and is now awaiting trial. She's been clean for a year, she says. Some people have drama in their lives - she is drama incarnate.

Her psychologist wrote a letter to the judge saying her manic depression is so severe and her cycling so rapid, that she believes she would become schizophrenic if incarcerated without medication for any significant amount of time.

It kind of makes me wonder what kind of people are drawn to ME.

10.10.2005

Felinecentric

My dog Skylar has been seriously depressed with the disappearance of our cat a week ago. Yes, I know you'll say I'm transferring my emotions - she's a dog - but I'm telling you it's true. She brings pieces of her food to the floor in front of the couch where the cat spent her days napping. I ask her where Summer is, she tilts her head, glances around the room, then heads towards the door (granted, if you ask where a cow is, she'll do the same thing).

If Skylar was a person, she'd be a friendly, yet dumb, blonde with attention deficit leanings, but I was starting to get desperate and hoped she could help. We drove up to the middle school, about a mile away, where Summer was last seen. I held her sweet, block-head face between my hands and said, "Where's Summer? You need to find her. You can do it - find Summer."

Skylar took off running. I was optimistic - for the first hour. We continued. I followed her lead for almost three hours. She found: two squirrels, a dead bird, a half-eaten chicken bone and a coupon for orange juice. No Summer.

If Timmy falls into a well near my house? I hope he carries a cell phone.

10.08.2005

Feliz Navidad

My father sends odd greeting cards...on the wrong days...with sentiments written in Spanish (which he doesn't speak).

Mainstream has never been my father's forte. He was the third child of twelve born to Irish descendants living on a small farm in Michigan - this is where I pull my right hand out and point to an area in the general vicinity of my thumb. Seven boys and five girls - they all have Irish names (Shannon, Erin, Sean, etc.) - except my dad, Tony.

He was a tall, skinny kid who was usually squirrelled away in a corner, reading a library book, until his brothers found him to drag him back to reality by beating the crap out of him or throwing him off the roof. He always wanted to be a monk, surrounded by God, books, silence and maybe an alcoholic beverage or two. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose, depending on how you view me), my mom never received the memo.

Facts and quirks:

  • he wears a broken watch with no face from a motorcycle accident he was in 35 years ago
  • he had a full scholarship to Michigan State, but left after one year to hitch hike to California
  • an insomniac, he grocery shops between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m.
  • he tries to keep telemarketers on the phone by talking to them as long as possible...his record is over an hour.
  • he bought and fixed up 20 old Apple GS computers to set up a computer lab in his classroom
  • he's an audio/video equipment junkie - and still has Harold and Maude and The Vanishing Point on Beta tapes
  • he loves music, from Hank Williams to Bob Dylan to Tori Amos
  • if you touch him from behind, duck, because he will turn around swinging
  • he turned 60 this year and has no grey hair (of course, he does have my son for the summer, so that's likely to change).
I believe one of the biggest factors in shaping my father's life was his severe stuttering (also for his dad and two brothers). As a child, I remember making phone calls for him - he would often not be able to verbalize the "hello, is..." before the person at the other end hung up. Sometimes, he'd call back several times, hoping to get the words out, until the other person would assume it was a prankster on the other end. He is one of the most intelligent people I know, but spent close to fifteen years working at General Motors, dreaming of becoming a teacher.

He still pauses before words when he's anxious or stressed, but he went back to college at 42 and finally has that dream job teaching 5th graders. Apparently a late bloomer, he also got married last fall. Intelligent, philosophical, generous, honest, compassionate, caring and funny...I hope to be more like this old soul when I grow up.


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10.06.2005

There's an empty space on my pillow

I can't sleep. I keep imagining her cry or a scratch at the door. I walk around the neighborhood, looking for signs of struggle, hoping to get a glimpse of her fluffy, short-legged body.

My cat Summer has been gone since Monday but I refuse to give up hope.

10.05.2005

Behind the wheel...run! RUN!

"I installed a skylight in my apartment. The people who live above me are furious!" - Steven Wright

People say you should be able to laugh at yourself. I don't really have to in this instance - everyone else is doing it for me.

A couple of years ago, I mastered the industrial fork lift. Not so much mastered, as "drove around recklessly and tried not to take out too many sections of wall or posts" (the first aid kit that used to hang on the wall? Yep, my collision). I have two guys that work under me, but both called in sick Monday, when an 18-wheel semi truck was scheduled to pick up some of our hazardous waste drums. No problem, get out of the way, seek cover - I can drive the forklift and load the truck.

I rolled over the ramp, into the back of the trailer. I wanted to be helpful, and started to raise the pallet higher so it would be easier to double-stack them on the lower level of drums. I vaguely remember hearing, "Whoa, whoa, whoaaaaaa", followed by a crunching noise as the top of the forklift went all the way through the roof of the trailer. Sheet metal sounds an awful like like stepping on crickets, only louder. We all sat, incredulous, staring at the newly installed skylight. I was hoping to slither up through that hole, never to be seen again.

So I did what any southern man would do, and found some duct tape.

10.04.2005

Going cold turkey isn't as delicious as it sounds

Ever notice that the later you are, the slower your kid moves? Bill Nye, the Science Guy must have been lurking in the background as my son acted out a segment on slow motion this morning. Then, because he’s a boy, he forgot his backpack and we had to turn around. I’ve decided to reset his alarm clock tonight.

Murphy’s law dictates that since I was seriously late already, there should be a flock of suicidal wild turkeys flying across the road, trying to smash themselves into my grill (second morning in a row, actually). I’m not sure if they’re called a flock…or even if it’s called flying. Dumbo the elephant with mashed potatoes and gravy comes to mind.

It's 8:30 a.m. and I need a drink. Make that a double.

10.02.2005

Tip o' the Day

Next time you eat a pound of BBQ ribs and wash them down with 32 oz. of alcohol (rum/coconut/pineapple concoction), DO NOT decide to try a bungee catapult for the first time with your teenage son and come hurdling towards the earth...at incredible speeds...face first...in the dark! Just sayin'. (My incredibly long, howler monkey-like toes? Wrapped around the lower bar, holding on for dear life).


The best part about road trips with my son (besides occasionally sticking my right arm out across his chest like we're coming to a sudden and complete stop): torturing him with my Sirius Satellite 80's retro station.

We used to have this game - I'd say, "I'll give you a million dollars if you know who sings this", but he started getting wise that I wasn't really going to pay up. So, yesterday, during West End Girls, I cranked it up and said I'd give him $10 if he knew the artist.

Wise ass son: "Let's see...they sound really gay..with a crappy, techno beat. It must be Pet Shop Boys."

SCORE! Part of me is so proud that he's been paying attention all these years (though I'd disagree with his assessment of PSB's talent). But, damn, now I have to hand over $10.