Monday, November 30, 2009

Two Vignettes


Saturday lunch at Rossos restaurant I was the first to notice Laura pushing Lucy through the restaurant doors in the monstrous stroller all parents seem to have today. A combo of stroller, car-seat, drink holder, purse holder, diaper-bag-holder and all-around mobile-baby-carrier, this thing is about as sturdy as a tank and almost as maneuverable. As Laura performed the universal "mommy-hand-and-foot-plant" against one door so she could shove Lucy's super-sonic-state-of-the-art-stroller inside, I gave them both a big smile and waved excitedly. Roseanne, my sister visiting from NYC and Daws turned around, smiling and waving too.

And Little LuBear waved back at us. Except...she didn't wave like an almost-8-month old baby waves, but regally. Solemnly. As if she was "Queen Elizabeth Baby". Or "Jackie O Baby". Accepting our homage as her rightful due. Laura pushed her pram closer to us (yeah, I said pram, it sounds more regal, like everything Brit; even "loo" sounds more regal than our American "toilet"), Lucy kept waving her little hand slowly back and forth. For all the world like a monarch sitting perched on a parade float surrounded by throngs of admirers; her slight, mysterious Mona Lisa smile firmly in place.

Once she was parked at our table and greetings were exchanged, I was sure LuBear was going to give a speech on how to cope with the current economy, or perhaps say a few words about the deplorable Tiger Woods situation but apparently her natural discretion and good manners won out and she ended up politely drinking her bottle instead; nodding and winking at us with glee as we pulled in turn at our wine glasses.

Okay, I made the last part up.

But I wouldn't put it past her.

The Ubiquitous Cat Story

The other night while the Hubs and I were quietly watching TV, we both heard an odd, disturbing sound:

"OooOOooOO...OooOOooOOOOOoo...". Looking at each other in confusion, Daws paused the DVR and we heard it again, louder this time.


Ghostly moans. Right out of an old horror flick or when you were kids and turned all the lights out, trying to scare each other.

All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and I broke into a cold sweat. Daws' eyes were popping and we slowly looked all around us, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from.

Suddenly we realized it was coming from our fireplace hearth, where our two three-year old black-n-white cats, The Boyz, The Bruthers, were curled up sleeping on their cat beds. It's their favorite place to be, especially when the fireplace, or "Hot Wall", as they like to refer to it, is burning.

At first I wondered if it was some kind of air flow coming down through the vents of the fireplace making the strange sounds but as I moved closer to check it out, it was clear that our little Jakie was making the noise:

Unlike the picture above, Jakie had fallen asleep with the front of his entire face mashed tightly up against the side of his bed. In his feline cat-dream, he was apparently "raowing" about something that had upset him. But because his nose and mouth were all squished up, his muffled cries came out as this gawd-awful, spooky weird "ooOOooOOoo" sound.

Reaching out, I gently stroked his head and he started up in sheer terror, obviously still in the throes of his dream/nightmare (perhaps the Hot Wall had turned off forever? Or his brother Woody was trying to mount him again in his periodic incestuous confusion? Who knows?) Glaring about wildly, trying to bridge the consciousness between Sleep-Jakie and Awake-Jakie, at first he tried to sprint away but I stopped him; still petting and talking to him, trying to calm him down. One front leg shot out against the tile surrounding the fireplace; vainly trying to get a grip on the smooth surface, clawing uselessly at nothing.

"Now, now,'s all's all right."

Jakie licked his lips and his eyes bulged but gradually he settled down enough so that I could allow him to sit up. As he did so, he looked up at me more than bit dazed and shook himself all over.

"Wow.." he seemed to be saying, "That was one crazy dream, Mommy!"

Tell me about it. It scared the hell out of us, too.

I just wish we knew the details. I think it would probably make a great movie.

"Attack of the Giant Mouse"
"Global Warming Causes 'Hot Wall' To Burn Out Forever"
"My Brother and His Issues; Dude, I'm Not Gay and Neither Are You, Besides We Were Both Fixed, WTF?"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Just Another Day In Paradise

Every so often, my son Ryan calls me on his way out to a job to chit-chat over the phone. I don't flatter myself that he's calling so much because he finds his mom's company and wit so fabulously scintillating (although it's true, I'm pretty amazing) but it's more because he's driving and he's bored.

Problem is, Ryan mostly calls me up to complain about all the bad drivers on the road.

"So, what are you doing, Mom?"

"Not much, finishing up in the kitchen before I start my day in the office; you?"

"Oh, I'm driving up to-HEY! YOU! MORON! Try using a blinker, eh? Idiot..." Ryan continues to mutter over the failures and foibles of our fellow human beings' ineffectual driving skills and I wait while he recovers.

"Uh, what were you saying, Mom?"

"Oh we were talking about where you are going now."

"Up north. One of our customers are having a problem with...what the...oh for cryin' out...UH...DO YOU MIND?!! Oh my GOD!"

I continue rinsing out the coffee pot and wiping off the counters; long ago I stopped thinking Ryan was talking to me when he goes off on a rant. Besides, after being a road-rep for years, I can appreciate what he is saying.

"Yeah, that's right,'s called MERGE; learn it, do it, LIVE IT. GOD! Where do you people learn to drive? HONESTLY! Are you in that much of a hurry? IS IT THAT IMPORTANT YOU RUN EVERYONE OFF THE ROAD? Oh yeah, you're gonna win the freeway race. Idiot! Um, well...what were you saying, Mom?"

"You were telling me you're going up north on a job..."

"OH RIGHT! Okay, yeah, so I'm headed up north to work on this job because the customer..."

That's pretty much how it goes, with funny stories and some philosophical discussions wedged in between the bad driver rants because we share the same sense of humor and similar interests, until I have to start my work day or until Ryan gets to his worksite.

The other morning as Ryan was alternately chatting with me or raving at other drivers and I was finishing up the kitchen, I noticed our Woody Cat bursting in through the cat door and diving under our kitchen table.

And...and...and...he had something large and dark in his mouth.

Oh my god.

Ryan's words faded into the background as a roaring started up in my head, drowning out anything he was saying.

Maybe it's just a piece of bark, Annie, remember that time he brought in a piece of bark? And you were scared at first? Then we laughed and laughed, so funny, so very funny. Yeah, it's just bark, that's what it is. Or a little bird. A dead one. Yup, it's probably a tiny little harmless dead bird, nothing scary, nothing scary, nothing...scar-

As Woody dropped the thing in his mouth onto the rug under the kitchen table all became dreadfully, horrifyingly clear.

A rat. A big, brown, huge, dark, brown, large friggin' RAT! On my kitchen FLOOR! And the tail ALONE was the same size as the body so altogether it was at least good FOOT LONG in size! Maybe even a YARD LONG!

"RAAAAAAT" I screamed over my headset mic into poor Ryan's ear. "A RAT, oh my GOD, Woody brought a rat in the house, there's a RAT IN THE HOUSE!" As I kept screaming and leaping around uselessly, I could hear Ryan echoing my words. "A rat? Woody got a rat? Is it alive, Mom?"

I didn't want to know. As loud as I could, I screamed at Woody to take it outside. Don't laugh, sometimes this works. He'll come in with some kind of prey in his mouth and Daws and I will scream at him so loudly to take it out, he runs back out again and we lock the cat door after him.

"GET OUUUUUT! WOODY GET OUUUUUT! OUUUUUUT! TAKE IT OUUUUUT!" I screamed so loud that my voice was hoarse for hours afterwards. You know, I have no clue what our neighbors think must be going on when the cats bring in vermin because I've done a LOT of screaming off and on over the years but so far the cops haven't been called in.


Woody stood there, seemingly confused for a moment, eyes shifting about.

Why is Mommy yelling at me?

Then, grabbing the rat again, he took off. YAY! He's taking it out!

Alas, he ran in the direction of the den. Going towards our bedroom.

"NOOOOOO!" I screamed at the top of my lungs. "NOOOOOOO WOODYYYYYYY!"

Ryan was trying to say something in my ear but I couldn't hear a word he said over all the uproar.

"Ryan, there's a rat in the house, gotta go." Ripping the headset off and dropping the phone on the counter, I bolted after Woody and cut him off at the pass, right before the hallway to the back of the house. I kept screaming at him to "take it out/take it out/take it out" but Woody still appeared perplexed.

Wat? R u talking to me?

For an animal that is renowned for unequaled hearing ability, he was singularly unimpressed with all the noise I was making.

See, this is where I needed a male person in the house. I do not take the garbage cans out to the curb, I don't change the tire when it goes flat, I don't take apart the coffee grinder to find out why it doesn't grind anymore, I don't answer the front door late at night and I DO NOT handle trophy vermin that may show up in the house.

The Males do all that.

Problem was...there were no Males around at the moment.

I was on my own.

By this time, I could see that at least it was dead. I knew this because it looked as if something or someone (and I'm not naming names here, but I believe it was a fat spoiled B&W cat who has a penchant for bringing disgusting things in the house) had spent a considerable amount of time gnawing off most of the rat's face.


Woody ran under the dining table in his haste to get away from the crazy human. No doubt thinking, "My GOD, will that hooman woman never stop screaming? What is her problem? IZ GIFT! IZ GIFT FOR HER!"

Again, I stomped and screamed and yelled and shook the heavy wooden chairs and to my relief, Woody took off again and this time in the right direction; towards the back door.

Thank god,, I thought. Then he stopped again under the kitchen table by the cat door and, dropping the rat, walked away nonchalantly. "What rat?" he seemed to be saying. "I see no rat; there's a rat? Wasn't me, I didn't do it, you can't prove anything."


Feebly, I tried to yell and knock the bar stools together as impetus, but Woody was officially disinterested in the rat. Not his problem. Not his issue. Unconcerned, he walked off a short distance and began to wash himself, starting behind one ear and carefully working his way around to his blood-thirsty, pain-in-the-ass face.


Briefly, it crossed my mind that I could call Daws to come home and dispose of it for me. Yeah, he could leave his office and drive all the way here, get rid of the rat while I hid and then he could drive allll the way back to work again, he could, he really could...

But I knew I couldn't ask him to do that.

So, gathering myself together and "penising-up", I marched down the hall to get Daws' gloves that he uses for such purposes. Then I opened up the back door to the garage where we keep the outside cans, propping it with a doorstop so I wouldn't have to fumble about with the rat in my (shudder, shudder, shudder) hands. Stomping back down the hall, I stopped in the kitchen, spun off the biggest wad of papertowels you've ever seen in your life and, taking a deep breath, faced the dead rat.

Carefully looking off to one side, I covered it with the mammoth papertowel wad and lifted it all up.


Its tail stuck out stiffly beyond the papertowels in rigor mortis as I hurriedly carried the corpse towards the garage.


I was only shaking a little as I raised the trash can lid and dumped the carcass in, towels and all, letting the lid fall back with a crash .

Now, Annie, that wasn't so bad, now was it?

Yes, it was, it was horrible, horrible...

Come now, you know it wasn't, c'mon...


No need to get huffy, fine, then...

Walking back into the house, I put Daws' gloves away where he keeps them, then grabbed several wet-wipes to wipe up any areas I thought the rat had touched, threw those away, then washed my hands with warm water and soap for several hours a few minutes, then walked into my office.

Sitting down at my computer I noticed the grapevine via The Boy had been full at work as there were pop-up messages from various people.

Kela's chat: "I heard from Ryan you had a rat! Oh poor Annie!"
Daws' chat: "What's all this about a rat?"
Laura's chat: "Get over it, I'm extremely pregnant, you don't even know."
Yvette's chat: "zzzzzzZZZZzzz"

After I finished doing a status update on Facebook, everybody knew about my ordeal. Old friends from high school, forgotten friends from my 20's, my extended family, my non-extended family...everybody knew.

But they didn't know the full horror of the experience.

Until now.