Basket Case

092612-sunshinebasket1Gary accuses me of having a raging basket fetish.  I can’t stand clutter, so everything is corralled tidily into a basket: under the sinks, on storage shelves, even our washcloths are folded neatly inside a basket in the linen closet.  When he started the annoying, I mean endearing, habit of scattering change across his dresser like sloppy confetti, I promptly added a small basket to his dresser specifically for change.

As Gary likes to say, I have baskets for my baskets.

When he developed a grating, I mean endearing, habit of leaving his shoes beside the bed (merely a foot or two from the closet, mind you), I decided another basket was obviously in order.  I proudly came home with a fabric basket complete with handles and placed it where Gary liked to leave his shoes, since just opening the closet door and putting them in there would apparently be far too fatiguing.

Gary, being well over 6’6″, has big shoes, and he pointed out that his shoes would not fit into the basket.  I bet I could make them fit, but while we debated, Gary placed the basket on the bed, illustrating his outright rejection of the graciously profferred basket.

Rosie wandered into the room, paid no mind to us, hopped onto the bed, and immediately climbed into the basket, curled up, and nodded his approval to his lowly humans for finally presenting to him a basket-on-the-bed for his napping pleasure.

I laughed and told Rosie not to get too comfy, since I was returning the basket to the store. Gary poked the fabric sides of the basket, and Rosie swung into action, chasing Gary’s fingers all around the sides, his claws poking through here and there, until I reminded Gary that I had to return the basket in one piece, preferably minus cat fur and claw holes.

Problem was, Rosie became permanently attached to the bottom of that basket like he was glued there. I set the basket aside until I could return it to the store, and no matter where I put it, Rosie climbed back in.  I ended up putting it in the living room, figuring he could entertain himself with it until it went back to the store that weekend.

That weekend,  I didn’t have the heart to take the basket back to the store, since Rosie was curled up inside, practically turned upside down, tucked into his favorite sleep position.  Fine.  I’ll return it next weekend.

Except, in the meantime, we put a blanket into the basket so Rosie would be more comfortable.  The tag was still on the handle of the basket, reminding me to return it to the store, but it kept getting put off, because only a cold-hearted, barbarous bastard could oust a sleeping, snoring cat from a basket!

I think you already know that basket never went back to the store.  When we moved into our house last year, the basket came with us, and I finally snipped off the tag and admitted that it was officially Rosie’s basket, no matter what its original intention was.  It is tucked into a cozy corner of the living room, lined now with two blankets (one leopard print, of course), positioned where Rosie can nap peacefully but can nosily keep an eye on us as he dozes off.

Sometimes Sylvester hops curiously into the basket, filling its entirety to bursting with his voluminous fur and enormous tail, but he doesn’t stay long.  It’s like an alarm goes off, and no matter where Rosie is, no matter how deep into sleep he is, he approaches the basket with grave concern, peering over the edge like a nosy neighbor over the fence, staring at Sylvester until he gets weirded out and leaves the basket.  Most of the time, Rosie doesn’t even get in.  He just wanted Sylvester out.

Now that I think of it…we never did check if Gary’s shoes would, in fact, fit into that basket!  I guess it doesn’t matter now.  It’s Rosie’s.

Image credit: That’s not our Rosie in the basket, but it looks a lot like him: image from The Creative Cat.

Posted in cats, funny, spoiled cats | 1 Comment

Bye, Marty!

martyIn case you haven’t noticed, I am rather fond of writing about things well after they have happened and have started collecting dust.  This post is no different, since Marty St. Louis’ jersey number was retired at least two weeks ago. (Are you blankly staring at your screen, wondering who the heck Marty St. Louis is?  If so, I can’t believe we’re friends, but all the same, I will fill you in: he was a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey player for years and years, and one of my favorite players.)

I must admit, I knew his number was being retired that night, but I forgot to turn the TV on.  What can I say?  The kids were there, we were getting dinner ready, and someone turned a movie on, so I forgot all about it.  Luckily I found the entire ceremony on YouTube later.

As a fellow short person, I liked Marty because he is small by hockey standards (5’8″, when a lot of players are well over 6 feet tall).  By comparison, the Lightning goalie, Ben Bishop, is 6’7″.  It took a lot of guts to step onto the ice with players that much bigger than him, but he did far more than just get by out there.  Marty won numerous awards, from the Art Ross trophy (twice), to the Hart Memorial Trophy, to the Lester B. Pearson Award.  He played on All-Star teams and was part of the Stanley Cup winning team in 2004 (ahhh, memories!)

I didn’t like the way St. Louis left the team, requesting a transfer after he was left off the Olympic team in 2014.  Obviously I wasn’t there and wasn’t part of those discussions, but it seemed to me like Marty pitched a jealous fit when Steven Stamkos was placed on the Olympic team and he wasn’t.  As much as I like Marty, my attitude about it was, if you don’t like it, then play better than Stamkos.

Marty left the Lightning for the New York Rangers, but I can’t help but still think of him as a Lightning player.  The entire jersey number retirement ceremony was well-orchestrated and thoughtful, and I admit my eyes weren’t exactly bone dry when Marty talked about his late mother (especially when the camera flashed over to his father, who had to take his glasses off to dab at his eyes).  I laughed when Marty said his mother only knew he had scored because they would play the song “Louie, Louie”.

I didn’t care for the people who booed when the NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, came to the podium to speak.  How classless can those people be? The night wasn’t about their personal opinions of the NHL commissioner.  It was about Marty.  It was shameful that anyone booed.  Write a letter after the ceremony if you don’t like the guy, but shut the hell up until then.

Marty’s jersey number was the first one ever retired from the Tampa Bay Lightning, and it seems fitting.  He was on the team a long time, from the years the team was considered a bit of a joke (okay, a lot of a joke), all the way to the Stanley Cup champions and beyond.

My office boasts a framed picture of Marty St. Louis in his Tampa Bay Lightning uniform, and I didn’t take it down even when he transferred to the Rangers.  I don’t suppose I will take it now, either, retired or not, because to me, he will always be a Lightning guy.

For the record, though, and just some trivia to impress your easily-amused friends: Marty St. Louis is not the shortest NHL player who has ever played.  That honor goes to a goaltender named Roy Woters, who stood at a massive 5’3″ and played 12 seasons in the NHL, from 1925 to 1937.

So there’s hope for me yet to be a hockey player, eh?

Posted in hockey, Marty St. Louis, NHL, Tampa Bay Lightning | Leave a comment

Thief

stealingHave you ever stolen from your kids?  Ever gleefully robbed the little munchkins blind?  Hey, hear me out!  Obviously there must be some wild thrill to it, because Crow does it like it’s going out of style.

As long as I can remember, Crow has stolen things from the kids.  Gary remembers her robbing their piggy banks when the kids were very tiny, so it’s not just a post-divorce hobby of hers.  And given that Little Miss Felony’s multiple arrests involved stealing in some fashion, it’s clearly a favored pastime of hers.

Stealing things that Gary bought is apparently a thrill, and — clutch your heart –stealing things that I bought is damn near orgasmic.  From sneakers deliberately ruined, to cherished stuffed animals dragged off to Goodwill, to jewelry and even lipgloss that mysteriously go missing seconds after passing Crow’s front door, Crow has stolen from the kids over and over.

For Christmas, I got Dove a cute silver ring with cat ears on the band, since we both love cats.  I have one, and she told me more than once that she likes it, so I got her one just like it for Christmas.  When she opened it, she excitedly asked me, “Is it like yours?” and smiled when I said it was.

She got to wear it maybe one day at our house, then she decided to take it back to Hickville with her after their Christmas break with us was over.  When she went outside, Crow said she would take the ring and put it in her jewelry box so it didn’t get messed up.  Sweet gesture, right?  Nah, not when Dove later asked for the ring back, and Crow angrily told her she didn’t even know where it was.

I can’t imagine stealing from the kids.  I can’t imagine it even entering my mind as a viable option, and then actually acting on it like I had any right.  But it fits Crow perfectly.  In order to feel upset about stealing from them, she would have to view them as people, and she does not.  Why get all worked up about stealing from things, pawns, tools?  The kids only exist for her to push around, manipulate, use, and brainwash.

I’m pretty sure, in the three-times-a-week trips to church to keep up appearances, Crow has heard that stealing is wrong.  I suspect there’s something about lying tossed about there, too.  Apparently none of that applies to Crow, though, as long as she feels like she won something or scored a point against us.  All it proves to me is that she still hasn’t the foggiest notion what being a good parent or a decent person means, and that once again, the kids pay the price for it.

Posted in bad mother, better than her, kids, stealing, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Junk Mail

Have you ever heard of the Southern Poverty Law Center? I never had until I received a thick letter in the mail the other day.  Sounds like a decent, charitable company doing good, humanitarian work, right?  I thought so until I started reading the letter.

The mailing consisted of a 4-page letter, no images, just walls of tiny text, plus a poster-sized insert and a wordy reply slip.  I will spare you from trudging through the long-winded letter and bombastic inserts, and I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version.

Basically, this letter, signed by Morris Dees, Chief Trial Attorney, starts right off the bat blaming Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for white supremacist harassment and hate crimes, citing tear-jerker stories of questionable origin, such as a Muslim girl clinging frantically to her kindergarten teacher, wailing about whether she is safe now that Trump is on the loose.  Mr. Dees reports several other uncited and unsupported examples of meanie white people terrorizing black or Muslim children, apparently thrusting a white fist into the air and screaming that Donald Trump sent them, if we are to believe Mr. Dees’ blantantly anti-Trump rhetoric.

According to Mr. Dees, only white people are capable of harassing others or of carrying out violent acts or making threats.  I suppose he doesn’t own a television set, doesn’t puruse the daily news, or doesn’t leave the safe space of his typewriter, as these are the only explanations for his baffling conclusions.

The enclosed poster-sized, glossy insert blasts the words “WHITE SUPREMACISTS CELEBRATE TRUMP’S VICTORY”, and the reply slip (demanding a donation, of course) also highlights Donald Trump’s name.  I’m starting to think Donald Trump should consider a restraining order against Morris Dees, since his obsession with him borders on the same psychotic level as Crow’s fixation on me.

I typically read junk mail and toss it into recycling without a second thought, but I decided that this one practically begged for a reply.  The letter and materials were disturbing with one-sided, close-minded repetition of the same inflammatory phrases, ad nauseam.

Without further ado, here is the letter I mailed in reply:

Morris Dees
Founder and Chief Trial Attorney
Southern Poverty Law Center
400 Washington Ave.
Montgomery, AL  36177-9621

Dear Mr. Dees:

I don’t know how I ended up on your mailing list, but I received your dramatic appeal for funds to “fight back against the hate and bigotry unleashed by Donald Trump’s campaign…”  Your lengthy letter and materials used the phrase “white supremacist” no less than 6 times and the word “hate” an astounding 22 times.

Nowhere in these materials, however, did I find a defensible connection between Donald Trump and the litany of crimes you chose to highlight.  Do you insult me by pretending that racism did not exist during Obama’s presidency?  Applying your own argument that Donald Trump’s “energy” has had “predictable results”, then shouldn’t we conclude that black criminals shooting white police officers are the predictable result of the divisive and polarizing vulgarities of the Obama administration?  If you are going to steadfastly pin responsibility for all crimes against non-white people on Donald Trump, then shouldn’t we assign fault to Obama for the black kidnappers in Chicago who beat a mentally-disabled white man and were so proud of their actions, and so certain of their freedom from sanction, that they videotaped it and posted it on Facebook?

Undeniably, this country has problems.  Donald Trump did not cause them.  Your letter saddened me because banal oversimplification instead of effective action will keep this nation faltering.  Your rabid, close-minded monotone about the evil white man and the victimized black man is far more damaging to our country than people hoping for much-needed change by voting for a businessman instead of another overtly self-serving politician.

I can only speculate about your intentions for mass mailing a fear-mongering, racially-dividing letter, or why you pretend that only white people are capable of racist acts.  Nothing I come up with is flattering to you or your organization.

Please immediately remove me from your mailing list.  Letters like yours, expounding an attitude like yours, are a colossal part of this country’s problem, and most definitely not contributing to a solution.  Perhaps you can begin your noble fight against hate by eliminating the flagrant hatred in your own mailings.

Sincerely,

The Smirking Cat

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Weird

Some weekends with the kids, I nearly grit my teeth down to bloody nubs and damn near sever my own tongue, biting back words that are quite true but nonetheless don’t need to be said where the kids can hear.  Some weekends, every sentence out of the kids’ mouths begins with “Mama said…” and finishes with the freshest round of lies, bad-mouthing, and absolute nonsense that make us strain eye muscles, rolling them so hard.

Other weekends are like this past one.  The kids burst out of Crow’s daddy-paid-for car with shrieks of “Daddy!” and ran up to our front porch, where we were waiting in the rocking chairs I love so much.  We went for a walk and bike ride to a nearby park since the weather was perfect, and as Gary and I strolled along in the sun, watching the kids on their bikes, I laughed at the regular Norman Rockwell painting we were just then.  It’s not often we get to enjoy calm, peace, nice.  Normal.

Gary and I were joking around over the weekend, singing made-up songs worthy of the radio’s Top Ten, fabricating absurd nicknames for each other and the kids, then laughing uncontrollably at our own jokes.  Sunflower, who is now 13, tried to roll her eyes like she was disgusted, but she couldn’t hide the happy, tiny smile on her face as she told us, “You guys are weird.”

Weird?  Yeah, I’ll give her that.  There’s not a whole lot normal about the endless garbage heap of drama that Gary and I shovel through, courtesy of Crow having too much time on her hands since she has no friends, integrity, or life.   But we do our best to make sure the kids have stability, laughter, and fun at our home, no matter what else is happening on the battlefront.

The day the kids had to go back, Sunflower, who was no longer smiling, sat on the sofa beside her father, crying softly and holding onto him tightly.  Maybe someday Crow will see that her crap is doing nothing but hurting the kids.  Maybe someday she will even care.

Posted in bad mother, kids, love, weekend | 2 Comments

Big Sister

Long ago and far away, when I was a college kid (I told you it was long ago), I volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters.  There weren’t enough male volunteers to serve as Big Brothers, so they asked me if I would mind being matched up with a Little Brother instead.

I grew up with three brothers, so I felt comfortable with a Little Brother instead of a Little Sister.  The first day I went to meet him, I was more nervous than I’d ever been meeting anyone, hoping he liked me, that we hit it off, that we had things in common.

My Little Brother was around 7 years old when I met him.  His mother warned me he was quiet, but that was a ferocious understatement.  He just flat wouldn’t talk to me.  I said hello, I introduced myself, I asked him questions, and he sat, bowl-cut blonde hair in his eyes, baseball cap pulled down, not speaking, barely looking at me.

Great.  The kid hates me.  My heart sank.  I was the worst Big Sister ever.  Well, even non-speaking kids gotta eat, so I offered to take him to lunch.  I don’t remember him saying much, but I do remember he liked my car, a tiny white Honda CRX. In a voice barely above a whisper, he stopped in front of his house and asked, “Is that your car?”  When I said yes, he smiled, the first smile he gave me.  Then he quickly went back to not talking.  I don’t even think he said good-bye to me when I dropped him off later.

I didn’t run for the hills. I came back, then came back again, and sometimes, his brothers came along with us so he would feel more comfortable.  I showed him my dorm room, walked around campus with him, played video games, took him to museums, and ate more hot dogs at his favorite restaurant than I ever cared to eat in a lifetime.

We got stuck in football traffic one day and no matter how hard I tried to find my way out of the tractor beam of stadium traffic, we were redirected and rerouted by traffic cops until we were forced to drive to the stadium.  I apologized for the detour, but turns out it was the coolest thing that could have happened to us.  He sat up, watching the cars, the people, the fans, the police, all the activity and energy, the massive stadium.  He was impressed I knew the traffic cop I stopped to ask how to get out of the stadium traffic (I worked for campus police at the time and knew pretty much everyone directing traffic).

He was my Little Brother for 2 years, then I graduated and moved about an hour and a half away for graduate school.  Since our relationship was well established, Big Brothers Big Sisters let us alter our schedule a bit and get together every two weeks instead of every week.  I worked, took my graduate classes, and traveled every other weekend to spend time with him.  His mother told me that he liked to brag that his Big Sister drove an hour and a half just to see him.

When I got married to my now ex-husband, my Little Brother and his family came to the wedding.  I had pictures of him and me outside the church, playing and laughing, but my ex and his second wife chose to destroy all of the wedding pictures, including the ones of me and my Little Brother.  Real classy.  Not hard to fathom why he is a distant ex now.  I really wish I still had those pictures.

When my then-husband and I moved to another state, the distance was much greater.  I had no choice: I had to contact Big Brothers Big Sisters and let them know I couldn’t be his Big Sister anymore.  They talked to his mom to let her know the game plan for the transition, and I went to see him to tell him and to say good-bye.  Last I heard about him, he was on a waiting list for a Big Brother to replace me.

That was about 19 years ago.  I kept all the school pictures he had given me, and I still had pictures I had taken of him and his brothers and little sister.  One day, flipping through an album, I saw those pictures and wondered where he is now.

Through the magic of Facebook, I found him.  On a logical scale,  of course I knew he was much older than the little boy I had seen last, but it was still a shock to see a tall, young man with a full beard and a son of his own staring back at me from the computer screen.  I sent a friend request with a message: Do you remember me?

Turns out he did.  We messaged each other through Facebook, what we’ve been up to for 19 years, how things are going.  I recently posted some of those old pictures, and he and his brothers are having a good time picking on each other and writing smart-ass comments.  His mother saw the pictures and sent me a friend request too.

I was thinking of contacting the Big Brothers Big Sisters office that matched us and let them know we reconnected after all these years.  It seems like they would like to know that.

I’m happy to see him smiling in so many pictures, still close to his family.  I don’t have to look very hard to still see that little boy’s face under the beard.  And it makes me laugh to think how far we’ve come from a shy little boy who wouldn’t speak a single word to his nervous-wreck Big Sister.. who happened to have a kind of cool car!

Posted in Big Brothers Big Sisters, kids, mentor | 2 Comments

Movin’ Out

The other night, I had a dream that Gary and I sold our house, packed up, and moved out…then instantly regretted it.  We knocked on the door, ready to move back in, but believe it or not, the new owners were not willing to just step aside and let us move back in!  The nerve.

Even our realtor made a guest appearance in my dream, pleading with us to leave the new owners alone and stop asking them to get out.  I calmly and rationally explained to them, one more time, that we just wanted the house back.  That’s all!

I woke up before the situation was satisfactorily resolved. At press time, we were still pressuring the new owners to move out, and for the love of god, to stop making changes to the house that we didn’t like.

When I told Gary that I dreamed we sold the house, he didn’t even pay attention to the rest of the story.  He just looked at me like I was nuts (a look I get a lot, especially from him) and asked incredulously, “Why would we do that?”

Indeed.  We have celebrated our one-year anniversary in the house (yes, we actually celebrated), and I already can’t imagine us leaving here.  Maybe someday, in the distant future,  if we absolutely have to…nah!

Posted in dream, our house | Leave a comment