NOTES FROM THE LITTERBOX
Conversation between the Hillebrandt Litterbox Sanitation Engineer (Q) and Pixelle Cat (PC)
Q: Fer heaven’s sake, Pixelle! How many times can a cat poop in a day?
PC: Well, let me see…there was that time at 1:00 am, when you got out of bed to clean out the box.
Q: I remember it well. Then there was the 3:00 am fragrant breeze wafting me out of bed again.
PC: Yes. Purrrrr. You were pretty snarly, for a human.
Q: Yer damned right! It’s really hard to keep getting awakened out of a deep sleep by a crappy smell.
PC: I beg your pardon!
Q: OK, OK. I know this is just call to nature stuff. But really, 3 more times from 7-9 am? And then off and on all day? Really, Pix, it’s a bit much!
PC: Well, did you ever think this is something you’re doing?
PC: Maybe it’s the food?
Q: Hmmm…you usually don’t go this often. What have I been doing differently?
PC: Dunno, but dinner was tasty tonight.
Q (sotto voce): You know, I think it’s time for some rice in your food, Pixelle Cat.
SOUNDS - litterbox scratching in the BKGD.
CUT TO: 3 days later - Night
Q: How you feeling, Pix?
PC (suspiciously): Why do you ask?
Q: You only used the litter box twice today.
PC: Yeah. I guess you’re right. I’ll have to work harder.
Q: Very funny.
Timeout for some cat cuddles.
Is there a moral to this tail? You tell us! Hint: rice really does help get rid of The Pussycat Runs. Anyone have any other remedies? Or similar tails?
Pussycat Goes Walkabout
It all began when little Sam Cat went walkabout in October of 2012. I was of course heartbroken. She tried to come back in two nights later, but her former boon companion Pixelle the Prosecutor hissed and snarled fiercely and she ran off. I raced out after her, but could not get her to come back in....Then Sam started coming around, in April of this year. I'd been worried sick and felt guilty as hell for letting her out in the first place. But then, I've had cats since I was a kid and this is only the second who'd ever disappeared. And I'd always let them outside because I think no living critter should be trapped.
Dear Sam Fans --
I don't know how to tell you this. So I'm just gonna go in. The little pussycat, residing in a cabinet in one of my bathrooms for close to 3 weeks, was beginning to lose it. Crying out several times a night, glaring at me from inside instead of looking sweet. If I dared put a toy or the brush she'd loved in close, a claw would come shooting out, and huge hissing would accompany the shot. So, despite the advice of my vet and a pet behavior specialist, I thought, I've got to get her out of there so that I can begin the reintegration process, if that's going to be possible.
First step, called Animal Control to see if they send people to help get feral-types out of things like cabinets. Answer, no way in hell! Let this cat go. She clearly wants no part of you or the others in the household. Ever. She'll be fine outside without shots. Millions of pussycats are.
I wasn't really buying it, but I did want to bring her, and me, some relief. And relief also for the other two cats, who kept getting lured into one room by me to try to get little Sam to feel safe emerging, and would then get very testy with each other. Not a great plan. So, next step, call a vet tech and see if he would be able to make a house call to help me first confirm this is little Sam, and then help me get her to vet for check up. Then, be able to help with reintegration, i.e., insuring the other two cats wouldn't kill her.
I lucked out and the tech was able to come next day. With steel lined gloves scarred, as he showed me, by previous cat bites and scratches. And big towels. And a net. He'd warned me this was going to be a battle though he would do his best to get the cat and wrap her in a towel to soothe her, and then he'd be able to "wand" her to check the microchip to make sure we've got Sammy. The net would only be used as a last resort, because it would really stress the pussycat out.
So, I was told to let him do his thing while I went off, and not be surprised by noises. He'd call me when ready. I left him to his thing while answering a very exciting email. Which was a little difficult due to numerous thumps and thuds in the background.
Finally, the call. I went to the tech, who was standing catless but with information. No chip. Sammy of course has a microchip. Huh? "Can't find a chip. I was only able to check one side of her, but the wand really should show if there is one."
I was dubious. He offered to check the other side of the cat, which meant I was again sent off while he made valiant efforts to corral the angry and scared ball of fur. Several minutes later I was called in again.
"No way. She took hold of my finger with her teeth, through the glove, and I thought, 'Great! Now I'll be able to check her completely.' But, she was going to go right through my hand. So, last resort. Do I have your permission to use the net?"
He'd warned me using a net might need to happen. He now added that I should expect pee and poop. I suggested we remove the rugs. He said that was a great idea. So, out I went again.
VERY LOUD HISSING AND BANGING. But, finally, a net emerged from the bathroom, containing one furious cat. The vet tech followed, holding said net.
We got 'er done. No chip.
Then the tech put the lid on. "I think this is a boy."
There are other chapters coming. "From pee and poop to something better," and "When does becoming a lock picker make you a good person?" For tonight, I'll leave it by saying my daughter's friend has now labelled me a cat kidnapper.
LIFE IN THE CATS LANE
You who are owned by cats, like me, know the morning drill. Here’s an excerpt from my diary from a typical Tuesday...
5:00 am. Sound asleep, peacefully dreaming. Of something other than cats, most of the time. Lately for me, it’s how to get a word out of x, e and p in Word on my cell phone, something I’ve been addicted to since Alec Baldwin got thrown off the plane for playing this wretched game.
Suddenly, something lands on my head. Aacchhh! What the hell? Wide awake, I see a cat on my chest, peering into my face. Little Sam Cat. But I know that she wasn’t what landed on my head – the missile was much lighter. I feel around the pillow. Ah, there it is. One of Sammy’s nerf mice. She loves to play fetch and is really good at it.
But I’m not having any. “NO, Sammy! It is not time to get up!!!” I try to hide the mouse in a drawer. Sammy is not fooled and pulls the drawer’s handle to get at her treasure. Luckily, she’s not quite strong enough. I savor this tiny triumph, feeling not the least bit of guilt. And, closing my eyes, I drift back off…
5:20 am. SPROING! Dammit to hell! Sitting up, I’m just in time to witness little Sam take a running leap and ricochet off the bed again, meowing loudly upon hitting the floor seven feet away. “Sam! Cut that out!!!”
Sure. A few more running leaps, with contact. I remain motionless, trying to fool the cats into thinking I’m really back to sleep.
5:30 am. A very deep growling meow, followed by a poke in the cheek with a claw. A gentle poke, not meant to hurt, but a poke nonetheless. I have never been able to teach the very affectionate Pixelle to keep those sharp nails retracted. “No, Pix. It is NOT time for breakfast! Go back to sleep.” A heavy weight walks down my body, finally making circles between my knees. Mercifully, Pix nestles, meowlessly, between my knees. Grateful, eyes closed, I nod off again.
6:35 am. BANG, BANG, BANG! Without turning around, I yell, “Fi Cat, stop that!” Fiona, Sam’s sister, is opening the cabinet door, which springs shut with a loud thwhack each time she tries to pry it open with a paw. The door slams once or twice more, then, amazingly, all is quiet on the bedside front.
7:00 am. An Identified Flying Object lands with a thud on my right foot. “Sam-meee!!!!!” She has leapt from the top of a 7 foot tall bookshelf.
7:01 am. OK, I guess that’s it for sleep. I stretch, and before I’ve even stood up a feline chorus rings out. Sergeant Pix, Cat-in-Charge-of-Getting-Meals-for-the-4-Legged, takes command, going nose to nose with her little sisters, telling them breakfast is coming. Meanwhile, I rattle around the kitchen, taking care not to step on anyone.
First things first: set up the coffee maker – as a friend says, gotta get my heart started. Next, it’s pick up all 3 cat plates and soak them in the sink, to loosen any stuck-on morsels remaining from dinner. While the plates are immersed in suds, I pad into the guest bathroom and empty the clumps in the litter box. I then go into my office, where a second litter box resides, for the almost exclusive use of Fiona Cat. Which I’ll explain in another post … it’s a long story.
7:30 am. OK, so by now, coffee brewing, boxes cleaned for the morning, it’s time to return to the kitchen, scrub the cat plates, and dollop ¼ can of wet food onto each. Knowing the cats will turn up their noses if served the same food twice in a row, I carefully alternate stacks of pussycat meals before placing them in the cupboard. Love it on days when the already sliced bits or filets come up…much faster. Today it happens to be the pate, which can’t simply be spooned onto the plate, so I had to take a bit of extra time mashing the liver and chicken with a fork.
I put the plates down, food ready to be picked up easily by the kids with no hands. Pix takes a few bites, then retreats to the litter box. Pungent. As soon as she returns to her food, I run in and re-scoop. Next, it’s rinse out the water bowls and replace, with filtered water from the frig door. The little ones deserve not to have metals in their systems, just like us humans, right?
First sip of coffee. Ah….this day might be alright after all.
Sammy leaves the room.
Litterbox scratching sounds, accompanied by an indelicate odor filter into the living room from the guest bath …
On the Death of My Blender
From "Ina Hillebrandt, The Appliance Years"
Those of you who know me may recall the days, a bit ago, when I dedicated my life to selecting, and then purchasing new appliances for my kitchen. Those were rarified times. I’d get up in the morning, brew coffee on my brand new Gevalia brushed steel coffeemaker, waltz over to the computer, and start the day’s search for the very best blender and food processor I could find, in brushed steel to match the lovely coffeemaker, at the best prices of course.
It all started when I took my customary neighborhood two mile walk one Sunday morning. As I rounded the bend on the homeward stretch, I saw what can only be described as Stuff. Laid out handsomely at the mouth of the driveway of its large apartment complex, it was Stuff nonetheless. What caught my eye specifically was a small Pakistani rug with a bit of my favorite color, peacock blue, woven into its pattern. Perfect, I thought, for an elegant doormat I’d been thinking I needed. As I approached the rug, I also saw other items spread out along the sides of the driveway that piqued my interest. But before even considering these, I asked a young woman who seemed to be one of the sale’s hosts, “How much for this rug?” “One dollar,” she told me. Thrilled, I immediately said, “Sold!” Occasionally I am quite decisive.
With this super purchase under my belt, I began to roam, eagle-eyed, about the various items on display. There was a set of 7 foot tall pine bookcases, another Item I’d been thinking I needed to house the overflow of books at my place, a waffle iron/grill for my daughter, several attractive wooden planters, and some lovely baskets. Total cost: about $45! But the prize was something I’d never seen before. A sleek, sophisticated brushed steel blender and food processor, all in one unit! With about a zillion tantalizing attachments fit into the curved base. The design was by Italian masters, wonderful, a kind of swooping S curve with the blender on one end and food processor on the other. “Does this work?” I asked the lady who was the seller of this unique cooking instrument. “Of course!” she assured me. The price? Are you sitting down? $10.00. I could hardly believe my luck. I had a blender, but it was vintage ‘80s and a gold color, as was my food processor, which I kept in a cabinet and never used. But here everything would be in one place, taking up little counter space vs. that required by two separate pieces, beautiful to look at in the bargain, and the requisite brushed steel. “I’ll take it!” I said happily. Given I had a lot of little things to cart back to my place, the blender/food processor/planter/bookcase seller offered to loan me her wheelbarrow, which was perfect. I was to bring it back when I returned for the bookcases. One of the fellows on hand would walk them the block and a half to my place using a hand cart when he was free later, with me guiding him.
As soon as I got home with the smaller goodies, I couldn’t resist. The blender/processor were a bit bespotted by food particles, and I couldn’t wait to get the whole thing cleaned up so I could try it out. A half hour and a few cuts later (those blades were indeed sharp), everything sparkled. I plugged the unit in, and pushed the on button for the blender. Silence. Same for the food processor. I rearranged both units, thinking I’d perhaps not got them on snugly enough or in quite the right spot. Pushed the buttons, one at a time again. Nothing.
Well, I thought, maybe there’s a trick to it. Thinking logistically, I hurriedly emptied a beat up bookcase I planned to toss now that I had the new one, packed up the fancy appliance, put it into the wheelbarrow and back to the sale I went. Coming up to the previous owner, I said, “Not to worry! You gave me such good prices on everything I wouldn’t dream of returning this, but I can’t seem to get the blender thingie to turn on. Can you show me how you put it together? Maybe I’m doing something wrong.” The lady smiled and showed me how to do it, which looked to be the same procedure I had followed. “Well,” I said, “I’ll take it back home and try again. Thanks so much!” Ever hopeful, I escorted the shelf-pusher back to my place, we put the bookcases where I wanted them, took the unit I’d emptied earlier to the curb to be picked up by anyone who wanted it. Then, bidding adieu to the nice man, I hastily went back inside. And back to the Italian. Which, once reassembled, again failed to work. Frustrated, I went online to see if I could find out anything further about getting this one to work, or maybe purchase a new one if the price were right. It was then I found that 9 out of 10 people who had bought one of these hated it and would never recommend it. Turns out there was a trick to making it work, but it wasn’t foolproof, and even if the reviewers got it to go on, the motors would burn out within a year and you could not get them fixed.
Rats! I thought. A few other words came to mind. However, not one to remain defeated, I began my search for the perfect all-in-one. It became clear pretty fast that there was no such thing. At one store, the Cuisinart people told me there was a reason no one else makes a blender and food processor together in one unit, with two separate stands aboard – they don’t work! Yes, there were compromise units, with smaller pitchers that tried to accommodate both types of cooking needs on one stand. But if you got one of these, you sacrificed capacity, flexibility or power. After two full weeks of daily checking, I finally found a great buy on a huge Kitchen Aid food processor. Not brushed steel, it had a shiny stainless base, but it would look good with the coffeemaker, and was top of the line in terms of performance. The real splurge would be the blender. A gorgeous Breville. European design, most powerful motor, it was just simply the most beautiful appliance I’d ever seen. So, I shopped and shopped for the best price. Finally, when it went on sale for almost $100 less than its usual price I raced to the store to grab one.
And ever since purchasing the beauty, I never tired of looking at it. The lid has a loop for a handle, giving it a distinctive appearance, and the base is a beautiful tall pedestal of brushed steel. It zoomed into action when called upon to perform, quickly whipping up guacamole, morning smoothies and other sauces and mixes. A few weeks ago I started to experiment with blender ice cream. Using crushed ice, frozen fruit chunks and skim milk, plus vanilla and Stevia, I could create delicious yet low fat and calorie-trimmed treats for myself, and then a group of friends at a dinner. However, the blender was not happy. She began to argue with me until one night when I was whomping up a chocolate cake batter to pour over pears in a fluted baking dish, she started smoking. I turned her off of course, and took out the batter, blending it with a spatula as best I could. The cake? Perfect. The Breville? Dead. Even after resting, she would not start again. I felt totally bereft, and betrayed.
So, I got a new baby -- the Ninja. With three blades at different levels on the removable stem, it promised to be an even better performer than the Breville, which though I loved her dearly, was a bit of a pain to work with -- heavy (glass vs. plastic pitcher on the Ninja), and you always had to take off the bottom, which screws and unscrews in directions opposite those in the U.S., a thing I always had to think about. And whatever was under the blade at the bottom would be hard to scrape out. The Ninja’s bottom is easy to get to so there should be less waste, I figured.
At the counter when trading in the European work-of-art-cum-blender, I told the sales rep how sad I was at its passing. He asked if I’d thought of just trying a different Breville. Maybe you got a bad one, he suggested. After all, isn’t the Breville the very best on the market? He said I should try the Ninja if I really wanted to, then feel free to bring it back if not satisfied, and try another Breville. After a few days, I find the Ninja’s a snap to use. It fits on its base easily, is light to pick up and take apart for cleaning. That’s very neat. And while it isn’t as elegant, it’s OK to look at. But ya know what? There are tiny ice particles that don’t quite get exploded by the Ninja…
On Being a Jewish Mother
The Blue Beamer's Adventure
My friend Chrystine and I were jazzed Sunday. It was a clear sky, perfect temperature, and we were heading for a unique concert, in a private home facing the sea in Ventura. Armed with fresh strawberries and cherries to share, and a few peaches I'd bought for my home, which weren't quite ripe. For a change I wasn't even focused on how we are killing the Pacific as we hit PCH.
A few seconds later, BLAM! "What was that?" I asked.
"Tire," Chrystine answered.
I'd felt no drag on the car at all, but immediately pulled onto the (thank heaven it was there) shoulder. Naturally I'd forgotten my cell phone, and neither of us was up for doing the deed of changing what turned out to be an exceedingly flat tire indeed.
Chrystine to the rescue, not only with her cell, but her AAA account. I of course have roadside assistance but for some reason the card was missing from my wallet, like a few other vital cards I'd inadvertently not switched when making the recent move to a new wallet. Sigh. I did have the insurance info and could make a call to get the right number, but we were sure this would be faster.
"Where are you?" the AAA dispatcher apparently asked Chrystine. "On Rte.1, south of Malibu. Facing north, on the shoulder, with a blue Beamer...license plate # ...No, I don't know exactly how far from Malibu...OK."
Turning to me, Chrystine reported they would be about a half hour. OK, since I have a donut spare, we'll need to run back to my place and switch to her vehicle, a van. Not as neat as loping along in a convertible, but we'd make it to the event. We were cool. Chrystine grabbed the black and white beach ball that was still rolling when we got out of the car, and tossed it into the back of the car. She figured it would be one good thing that came out of this mess.
In just 15 minutes, a Malibu Tow truck zoomed toward us from the south. And swished on by. Apparently we weren't the only fools on the road.
Chrystine's phone rang about 15 minutes later. "No. I never said we were on Rt. 10. We're on Rte. 1, or PCH...Yes, south of Malibu, probably still in Santa Monica...No, we're north of Rte. 10...No, we're NOT on Rte. 10...We're on the shoulder of PCH, pointing north...on the northbound side of the road...It's a blue BMW convertible."
When another half hour passed, now one hour from our first call for help, the phone rang again. Apparently, the driver couldn't find us. The dispatcher had him on the phone and was set to relay more points of information from us to him.
This time I motioned for the phone. Chrystine is from Redlands, this is closer to my territory. Maybe I can give slightly better landmarks. "No, no, we're NOT on Rte. 10. No, I don't know exactly how far from Malibu we are...Blue Beamer...Yes...North of Wilshire, north of West Channel Road. OK? Great."
A concerned citizen on a bicycle pulls up as I am telling Chrystine, "15 minutes."
"Can I do anything to help?" he asks.
"Well, we're waiting for a tow truck but they can't seem to find us," Chrystine tells him.
"I've changed lots of tires in my time. Mind if I try?"
This made lots of sense of course, since he really wanted to help, and we were amazed and relieved when this generous soul started to ferret the equipment out of my trunk.
I was glad I'd thought ahead and strewn the side of the highway with the stuff in my trunk. Embarrassing, but it made getting at the spare much easier for our hero. As he was freeing up the jack, I noticed the Beamer people had included a spare wheel emblem in with the spare tire. They leave nothing unmarked. I like the logo, so I was a little sad that the rim wasn't set up to be decorated -- the plate had no slot to fit. But great news! This was not a donut, but a full size tire! We wouldn't have to run back to my place after all. We were still in good time for our event. Swell!
So our new found BF went at the task. He jacked up the car, then loosened each lug nut, laying all out for later replacement. He also knew that Beamers have a little plug in the flap under the doors, which leads to the place to insert the jack without wrecking the looks. I'd not known that, and felt grateful to be learning this important bit of info. I did remember seeing this in a Beamer sans the rubber trim, but had forgotten.
Anyway, once our bud got the tire ready to be pulled off, he tried to do just that. No such luck. It was jammed in place. "Get in the car," he directed me, "and take off the brake -- it seems to be locking the wheel."
I complied, not realizing he meant pump the brake, and released the hand brake. The car slid forward, causing the jack to tilt and almost crushing this poor man.
Once we all drew a breath, Chrystine suggested I drive the car forward a little and move it farther from the highway, more onto the dirt by the side of the road. This would help insure no one would edge over the white line and hit the car or one of us in passing, and give the jack a firmer foothold.
Heart in mouth, I again climbed in and managed to drive forward as planned. I am usually a fearless driver, but this episode was unnerving me.
Anyway, as our hero was again jacking up the car, our tow truck appeared.
"Why didn't you tell us where you are?" the driver asked in a heavily accented voice. "You said you were between Wilshire and the Channel."
Chrystine, ready to kill him, told him we had it covered and he could go. I wasn't so sure to tell the truth, but both our cyclist and she felt the driver was superfluous. He certainly was obnoxious, so I agreed.
Well, the tire was really locked on tight, and our guy couldn't dislodge it. He even called a friend who told him to kick it from both directions. But with cleats he was reluctant.
So we went back to the cell. This time I took it, called the general number for my insurance company and after only five full minutes and lots of "If you know you party's extension, press 2's," was able to connect with my own road service assistance.
This time we were in better shape. I now knew we were about 1.5 miles south of Malibu, courtesy of our biking friend, and south of Temescal Canyon, which I'd not even thought of. We were told "30 minutes." I wanted to believe. As did our biker, who, bless him, insisted on staying until the next tow truck arrived.
Thirty minutes later, we decided I should call for an ETA. "Where are you?" I was asked. "How far from Malibu?...OK, your driver will arrive within 30 minutes."
15 minutes later. Call from my roadside folks. "Can you give us better information? Our driver can't seem to find you. Where exactly are you on Rte. 1?"
"How many blue BMW convertibles are stuck on the shoulder of the road about 1.5 miles south of Malibu????????" Chrystine asked.
At this point, our cyclist gave up. We could hardly blame him. Someone leaned out of a passing car stuck in a jam and handed Chrystine a big bottle of water. A few others asked if we needed help, and a guy who had been taking a walk hung out with us while we were waiting.
They were very kind. When I can stand it, I'll write the next chapter in this tale. It involves a sum of money and barbecue sauce.
For now, I am as up the wall as any of you who lasted until this point.
Last night I attended a show at Universal City with friend Michael Goldberg. Not having been to Universal's City Walk in years, I was somewhat taken aback by the blazing neon and high decibel music, but it was certainly an L.A. experience just walking up to the box office. We arrived a few minutes into the film "Robin Hood," chosen by accident. We'd aimed at a flick that was listed in the paper but not playing when we got there. Of course who knew what paper it was. I haven't been reading them daily for a while now, the way I used to, as the violence to our environment, animals and each other ruins my day. I do my part with online reading and petition signing and donations, and my Pawprints program. So, while I plucked the Times from the top of the pile by the door, it could have been a week or two old. Anyway, I really love Russell Crowe so it was OK by me to see "Robin Hood," and Michael felt the same way. I am really glad to have seen it. A fun film well shot and directed, with a good cast, including William Hurt, Cate Blanchette and her wonderful bone structure.
I do think it should have been titled, "Robin Hood, The Prequel," as the story establishes the life of the man in tights before he became an outlaw, showing what led up to that fabled time. Blood and guts? Yes, of course. Mainly caused by things like arrows well aimed through people's throats. Plus, fires burning folks up, the occasional spear or sword reaming a soldier or civilian.
None of this bothered me, though. Ridley Scott did a superb job at making all the fighting whiz by almost in a blur, and we didn't have to view limbs being severed, testicles being electrocuted or eyes being gouged out. So, as violence goes, I'd give this film a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. These days. When I was growing up a few millennia ago, it might have rated a 10.
The only violence that did bother me in the movie was when a horse got downed. Looked very real and I couldn't imagine that being staged without injury to the horse. However, people in film know how to do lots of action shots without causing actual harm to the performer, and for all I know it was done by CGI.
Now we move to the most violent part of the evening. Not having made a pit stop before the film, I thought it would be a good idea to tinkle, as my former husband used to say, before heading home. So I innocently went into the ladies. First thing that greeted me were blazing red walls, and a sinister looking grey floor. Not to mention a few ladies with shockingly high hair and platform stilettos. I found a stall that didn't have too much pee on the seat to wipe up, another thing I find very different from years ago when ladies seemed more often to be ladies. I was not initially surprised when I stood back up to hear the toilet begin an auto flush. But in about one second I was scared to death – felt I was going to be sucked right in. Loudest flush I've ever heard! More like a jet plane's engine.
A little shaken, I moved to the sink to wash my hands. All quiet on the water front at least. Then it was, where do I dry my hands? Ah, a new (to me) vertical electric hand dryer. You put your hands into the gadget, I see. OK. Roar!!!!!
If you ask me, it's entirely true. There's too much violence in the movies.
I just noticed how long it's been since I've written in here. And I blame it all on the new arrivals, Samantha and Fiona Cat, now about 8 months old, here since they were about 4 months of age. Well, there has been a lot to do on our video project (more soon about that), and an upcoming book. But the cats have also taken their toll.
Every day since they arrived it's been like this:
7:00 am: Wake up, have coffee. I don't care what else is going on, without 17 cups, well, OK, 4, my eyes won't focus.
7:05: Clean the litter box(es).
7:10: Sip coffee while feeding the furred ones. This means keeping Samantha, a born vulture, at her own plate so Grazer Pix won't get hers cleaned prematurely by the Little Interloper, or her sister Fiona. See, once they finish their own food, Sam and Fiona crouch nearby and stare at Pix, menacingly. Pix is cowed by this behavior, and abandons her food.
Unless I intervene, Sam especially gets fat and Pix is left to nibble dry food.
So I have got wily. I now put Pix's plate in my office, lure her in with me and then leave her to munch while I go back to tidy up the kitchen, and yes, clean the litter box in the bathroom, again. Once Pix is done in the office, I go back to let her out, and to clean that litter box. For little creatures they sure poop a lot. And yes, I now have a litter box in my office.
You cat owners out there, did you ever notice that as soon as you clean the litter box one or another of your little furred friends has to make his or her mark in the sand?
8:00 You know the drill. Sigh.
The rest of the day is interwoven with cleanouts, referring fights and playing fetch with Samantha. Used to be Pix's game. Now, to get Pix to resume her role, I have to close us both up in the office for playtime, too. Otherwise, Sam takes over the toys.
In Facebook, I mentioned that I brought Fiona home to keep Pix company.
Next time remind me to tell you about the trauma we faced when I brought Sam home to keep Fiona company.
Back to Writing Tips!
And even to jot down some more memoir writing tips. Here are some of Ina's Weird Prompts (TM) to get ya started. These are more for flexing and lubricating writing muscles than specifically for memoir-writing. But I have found often that people in my classes find links in their minds to treasured memories from these little lines. Have fun with them!
What's in a Nickname?
What is it with nicknames, I mean, why do some people resent them? In my family, we all had them, the more the merrier. Nicknames were a normal part of our lives, and when we were called by them, we felt fuzzy and warm.
My dad was dubbed Moose, and called Moosie at times, by his four brothers and sisters when they were growing up in Bryn Mawr, PA. He was tall and broad, not fat, just substantial. As a grownup he not only created his own furniture wearing his interior designer hat, but could carry even a sofa by himself. I wish I knew everyone else's names from that generation, but sadly they're all gone now and I can't ask. I think one of my uncles, Kal, might have been nicknamed Cream Cheese for his Cream Cheese Theory of Politics.
I called my brother Conrad by a lot of different nicknames, Cornrad one of the earliest. At one point, because he got a little chunky around the midsection and loved French fries, I alternately called him Cornfat and Crinkle Cut. For some reason, my brother didn't like either of these. Which of course made me use them all the more often, especially in front of his friends.
My own nicknames, coming straight from my dad, were always a marvel to me. He'd referred to me as a little minx, but the way it came out when I said it was "Binx." So, first came The Binx. Then, Binxley, and when he was being formal, Binxleigh. Earlier I'd been called Ina Wee, my middle name being Lee, which I also couldn't pronounce. In due time, my official nickname became Ina Wee the Binx Bunnicle. Bunnicle came from Bunny of course, and the bunny was because I only had two front teeth for a while. Plus I loved carrots. Still do, but no one calls me the Bunnicle nowadays.
My former husband's name was Charles Barry, and in good southern tradition (he hailed from Lake Charles, Louisiana), his best friend always referred to him by the initial of his first name. So to JB, Barry was always, "C."
When my daughter Nicole came along, tradition naturally took over. She laughed a lot when she was on the changing table, but was also fussy, colicky for a while. So she became, "Fussy Fuss Pot," when she wasn't being referred to as "Rooster" for the early morning wakeup calls.
One day a southern friend of Barry's came to visit. He asked, "Where's the tot?" Next time he visited, it was, "Where is T. Tot?" Soon it was just "Where's T?" Then, I began calling her by the Dad-type amalgam: T. Pot. I used to try to get Nicole to use the French nickname, Coco, which I think is elegant and fun, and of course reminds me of Chanel. But, no dice. So I still call her T, and when I'm being formal, T. Pot. This is a name known to a few family members only, so please don't spread it around.
The reason I'm thinking about all this is that recently I referred to a new friend I'm working with, whose name is Todd, as Toddlette. He shot back, "That's Toddwyn." Seeing that's far more elegant, I immediately switched over.
Then another person we're working with, Nicole, asked how Toddwyn came about. Todd's reply, "I don't want to be called anything that sounds even remotely like a toilet." Fair enough.
Now, I'm working on a nickname for the new Nicole. She's already known as Nikki, and I am of course calling her Nik, pronounced "Nick." But something better will emerge…maybe Nik the Twoth.
NOTE: This post, along several others you will find here, was originally on the Footprints blog. I have moved it here to connect with my new website.
Hi, and glad to see you! My blog features memoir and fiction writing tips for you out there aiming to create enchanting memoirs and flights of fancy of your own; new "Pawprints," those close encounters of the furry kind, by moi; and topical comments as they bang on my head to be written. Plus: videos featuring talented authors I'm privileged to work with, reading live, Coming...your life stories, here. Got one you want to share? Use our form to be considered.