Category Archives: pets

Love, Loss and Luck in Gotham City.


batsignalEvening in Gotham City.

No crime spree that we know of yet, but you can never call it quiet in this section of town. Darkish, yes, because here in the Batcave we’re half-underground: enough to let the daylight in, but once yon sun calls it quits, there’s no doubt about it: darkness rises.

Smoke rises, too, and all but one of us does, so the two windows – screenless, natch – are open a crack, whether the weather, so bring thou a sweater (or grab one of the skull-adorned hoodies tossed all over the place) and so, too, the studio tends to have a few more visitors: of the genus Insecta.

Tonight we tried to get Takeshi to summon his Japanese Ninja Warrior Side and decimate a 3-inch Something that strongly resembled a Flying Dragon, but he was deeply involved in summoning his Japanese Zen Peaceful Monk Side, instead.

Also, Takeshi has a new laptop, and the password to my wireless network, so there’s a strong possibility that he was summoning his Japanese Pokémon Cheat Hack side, too. I didn’t look, so I can’t say for sure. As the Zen parable, “The Farmer’s Luck” goes: “Maybe. Maybe not.”

Aris and Psycho Cherry are currently sharing a MacBook, and were therefore IM-ing and DJ-ing at the same time, which was terrific for me, since when they AREN’T here, I’m usually too focused on what I’m doing to remember even to launch my iTunes, despite the icon in the dock of my own MacBookPro staring me right smack in the face.

Really.

No, really.

That peppy little CD with the blue music notes on it, just leers at me, going: “Uh, hello? Musician? Tunes?” Then shakes its digital little head at me, as if I am hopeless.

But when Aris and Psycho Cherry are here, the ambiance changes radically from a simple one-human digital sweatshop to a working party of discussion and delight. My daughters – who refer reverently to my posse as “The Cool People” – love it. Everyone gets magically fed, watered, intellectually stimulated, and entertained.

Those who grace my studio cherish my daughters, too, as mutually as my daughters cherish them: this past week, when my youngest’s much-beloved, much-too-young cat died suddenly, my daughter overheard them laughing in the Batcave as she and I were upstairs, preparing for the backyard funeral.

“Tell them they don’t have to come,” my 10-year-old said, fighting the most recent round of tears. “They sound so happy. I don’t want to make them come to a sad funeral.”

At that point, my own throat started to close.

Of my two daughters, the oldest, would throw herself in front of a train for you if ever you needed it, but from her manner, her bearing and her Dorothy Parker wit, you’d never know it.

My youngest? Her devastating but selfish charm would allow her to skip lightly over your bleeding body and make you want to thank her for it.

Ergo, lump in my throat.

Down with message went I to Batcave.

Up I returned: No way. All for one, one for all.

The ragged gypsy band of us lined up at the back fence grave, my youngest as “chief mourner,” asking only for a moment of silence in Toufou’s honor.

We all took turns trying to console the little one, especially Aris and myself, who have each suffered private losses recently; losses the little one could not yet understand, yet still our freshly-wounded hearts bled for her, our own scars only just beginning to form.

We resonated like tuning forks for her, grief upon grief, vibrations that we knew would lessen with time. Could the little one be made to understand? That time, and thankfulness, were all that ever help, in the end?

Time.

And gratitude.

“Gratitude?” My youngest was totally confused.

“Look around you,” I whispered into her silken, golden brown hair, as she wept into my lap. “Look at all the people who love you. Be thankful, even though right now you can’t be happy.”

“But I want Toufou,” she protested.

“You’ll have Toufou as long as you love and remember her,” I said.

“I can’t see her. I can’t talk to her. I can’t touch her. It’s not enough,” she said.

“Not now,” I said. “But eventually, it will be.”

It will have to be, I thought, my own heart quickening a bit.

“Eventually doesn’t come soon enough.”

“It never does, darling,” I said, “but that’s what Gotham City is here for.”

We fell asleep together for the next few nights on the futon in the Batcave, hanging on to each other, each, alternately mourning, alternately celebrating, the love of each other, basking in the glory of our friendships, the sunshine, the comfort of darkness, and the hope of time.

 

 

The Farmer’s Luck

A Zen Parable

Once there was a farmer whose horse ran away.

All the village came to him: “What terrible luck!” they said.

The farmer calmly said: “Maybe. Maybe not.”

The next day, the horse returned — with another horse.

All the village came to him: “What wonderful luck!” they said.

The farmer calmly said: “Maybe. Maybe not.”

The farmer’s son tried to ride the second horse — and broke his leg.

All the village came to him: “What terrible luck!” they said.

The farmer calmly said: “Maybe. Maybe not.”

The country was at war, and the next day, the army came to collect young men to fight: all but the farmer’s son — whose leg was broken.

All the village came to him: “What wonderful luck!” they said.

The farmer calmly said: “Maybe. Maybe not.”

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Hold the Cheese:Burglar



Digg!

A cheese... burglar.

A cheese... burglar.

 

This is how very bizarre my life has become:

My house – as you might expect, since I run a web site for kids, have kids of my own, and perform music for kids – has become what I can only describe as an “Open House” for the neighborhood.

Open, as in all the  parents in the neighborhood must have had a secret meeting and decided: that girl is in her basement all day. What a perfect babysitter!

Two days ago, a kid that no one in our house even knows kept ringing the doorbell – which I ignored, since I was working, and thus, as my uppity grandmother would have said, was not “at home,” a phrase the ancient upper crust used to conveniently use to describe politely: “well, yes, I’m actually here, but get the hell off my property, because I want to be left alone.”

Getting no answer, he started to try to jimmy the lock.

Now I was, well, let’s see: I could say intrigued, or I could say pissed. Either way, I marched up the stairs, calling Tucker, my big black dog – scary, but a secret sissy. I’m not scary, but people don’t know that they ought to be. Kinda ironic, the pair of us.

I threw the door open wide, and put on my best scary Mom face, and apparently I don’t have a very good one, because the kid begged to use the bathroom. “Fine,” I relented. He was in there for an absurdly long time.

It’s no use. It’s Spring Break, and they keep coming and coming in droves. Tomorrow I think I may just throw an impromptu concert, just for the heck of it. Maybe they’ll all run away.

 

Our beloved.

Our beloved.

One little girl is straight from Pakistan – or Passkan, as she calls it. She melted my heart today, though – couldn’t turn her away. I’d given her Baba some fabric I’d had, and she’d turned it into the loveliest, rich red sari you could ever imagine.

 

Okay, so she stays.

Another kid who came today had a great story. “Guess what, Elizabeth? Somebody broke into our house and only stole cheese but he got caught because my dad beat him up.”

I raised an eyebrow.

But there it was, in black and white, in our local newspaper: M’Town homeowner subdues suspect in cheese theft.

Made it right onto page five, color photo of the eye-blackened cheeseburglar and everything. The man was arrested with five different kinds of cheese in his pockets.

I don’t think I have five different kinds of cheese in my house.

But I do think I have at least five different kinds of kids. And they all have the greatest stories.

Some of them are even true.

Want to read the newspaper story about the cheese thief? You can read it right here.

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Gonna Stomp Me Some Kittens, Right Soon.


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kittenOne of our cats, Louie, is not a boy cat. We know this because kittens sprouted on her teats six weeks ago, to my horror and the girls’ joy.

Louie now sports the moniker “Lulu.”

It all began in a semi-nasty puddle on my old wedding dress, which I’ll admit was no actual tragedy. Unlike some anal-retentive brides, I’d never gone to great – or any – lengths to preserve what had once, in my lily-of-the-valley childhood insanity, been the biggest dress in the room.

It wasn’t even hanging up, to tell you the truth. One thing Lu knows, though, is the importance of comfort. Silk fluffiness? She’s all over it, literally – at least until she got sick of her claws catching in the tulle. As a matter of fact, that was just how I felt that day. Except I could kick off my heels and be the barefoot bride, scandalizing my family.

Lu, not caring about scandalizing anyone, simply snuggled up and oozed all over the thing.

Still – like I said: no tragedy. I’m ludicrously small, at five-foot, one inches tall, a size six on my fat days. Everyone is bigger than I am. Strangely, even as an adult, nodding acquaintances are often seized by the extremely annoying urge to lift me up in the air. Formal announcement: this is only fun for me when Peter does it. Otherwise, it is officially creepy.

My daughters? Not only are people bold enough to take me in their meaty paws and bench me, they are also bold enough to say things like: “Holy cow, they don’t look a thing like you. Does that bother you?”

As if I would burst into tears and unload right there to them if it did, which of course, it doesn’t. Neither of them look anything like me, nor do they look anything like each other. The three of us, together, look like the random assembly of pieces you use when you lose the top hat, the racecar and the other metal game bits in Monopoly and have to make do with whatever’s lying around. We like that about us. Variety.

The one thing they DO have in common, that they DON’T have in common with me is that they’re tall. They’re built like their dad’s side of the family. Even their maternal grandmother is five-ten. My eleven-year-old is already a few inches taller than I am. My nine-year-old is catching up. So the prospect of either one of them ever wearing the aforementioned wedding dress is laughable. Almost as laughable as the idea of those sleeves ever coming back into style.

The best they’d get out of it would be a sentimental hanky scrap. So we’re still fine; there must be an ooze-free section left.

Amongst the ooze, though, slept how many? Three, four, oh, no! Five, count ’em, five! Five kittens. I’d never seen kittens this new; uglier creatures – besides my own newborns – I’d never seen.

Newborns are hideous; there’s a reason the body floods a new mother with hormones that make her go giddy-stupid with love. They’re covered with something that looks like ricotta cheese. They’ve just gone through the equivalent of a pasta maker, which is not the best look for a creature whose skull is still soft. Their skin has not yet settled on which color it wants to be, so it’s still experimenting with the cooler shades of the color wheel, like purple and blue. Their eyes are squeezed shut, giving them an angry-looking grimace, and they’re usually crying.

Nevertheless, biologists have determined – I know this, because my kids are addicted to the Discovery Channel – that we are wired to find all this overwhelmingly, compellingly adorable.

Even satirists. The three of us, as different as we are, in looks, in build, in temperament, all responded exactly the same way: “AAAWWWW….”

The little things got cuter every day, stupid things. Two of them had the nerve, even, to be long-haired cats, to weaken our knees, although to my enormous relief, the really beautiful black and brown one is a nasty son of a gun.

“We can’t keep them.”

“But-“

“We cannot keep them.”

“But-“

“We already have three cats…”

“But-“

“One large dog…”

“But-“

“Two ferrets…”

“Nobody likes the ferrets.”

“Then let’s get rid of the ferrets!” I suggested happily.

“But-“

“Okay, then someone ELSE change the cat pan,” I suggested happily.

“But-“

“We are NOT keeping them.”

“But-“

“Okay, maybe ONE.”

“YAY!”

Since then, the kittens have grown – and grown. Still incredibly cute, but it makes them look hilarious when they’re not quite done nursing, but Lu’s had quite enough, thanks. They hang by her nipples, dragging along the floor. Lulu gets up, nonchalantly striding away as if she barely notices she’s got five other cats a third her size dangling there.

They eventually give up and dart for the kitten chow. Although Tucker Dog, who seriously thinks he IS a cat, has a serious taste for seafood, so the cat food doesn’t last long on the floor. The dog food languishes in the bowl, but the cat food? Forget it. They all compete for it. You’d think Tucker would win, seeing as how he outweighs even the adult cats seven to one – but he’s terrified of the geriatric cats, who treat him like the dorky kid in school, and won’t let him eat lunch at the cool table.

Even the kittens swagger around Tucker, who dotes on them like a massive, slobbering uncle. He even babysits for Lulu – Heaven only knows how they worked this out – and herds the kittens into the dining room, watching them like the part Shepherd he is, while Lulu naps upstairs, blissfully ignoring her offspring.

It’s quite a sight, watching a giant black dog, the pressure and anxiety clear on his face, kittens in his mouth, setting this one here, running after that one…

Tucker is tuckered out by the end of the day.

But that’s not why I’m ready to stomp the kittens. Heck – whatever Lu and Tuck have worked out between them, it’s none of my business.

Although technically my “bedroom” is upstairs, it’s currently in a state of utter disaster. I started “renovating” it (see my other blog, The Cool Tool Girl) and so I am currently sleeping in my studio on the futon, which turns into a very comfortable double bed.

Cats – and kittens – are nocturnal animals. So while they rest adorably in laundry baskets and on couch pillows during the day, charming the pants off of all who gaze with eyes a-watering, at night, while I am desperately attempting to get some much-needed shut-eye, they gallop through the house like a team of Budweiser Clydesdales.

This part is not a joke. You simply would not believe how much freakin’ noise a set of five kittens makes on a one-hundred-year-old hardwood floor from underneath.

You would think they were all wearing tiny engineer boots, or Doc Martens or something.

Either way, it’s a struggle each night to remain in bed, and not to stumble up the staircase in my own engineer boots, flick the lights on and start stomping out the noise.

Thump. Meow… Splat! Thump. Meow… Splat! Thump. Meow… Splat! Thump. Meow… Splat! Thump. Meow… Splat!

Ah. Blessed silence.

Clean up this mess in the morning.

Saves me a trip to the shelter.

Oh, wait – take back one thump. Meow… Splat! We’re keeping one of the longhairs. Since Anne wanted a name in French, we’re calling it “Touffu.” Means “fluffy.”

Lucky Fluffy.

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