Saturday, January 23, 2010


Boots, Made Fer Walkin'

My mother wrote a short story about me once, called, "My Daughter, the Clothes Horse."  The joke is, of course, that I am no fashion plate.  I buy new clothes when the old ones are worn out or stained.  I only own one purse.  It's not that I don't APPRECIATE fashionable things, I just can't imagine spending the money.  I also don't understand how people can fit things like professional manicures and hair-styling into their budgets. 

So people like my gym-buddy, Mavis, astound me.  I'll go to her house to pick her up and she 'll come down the stairs wearing earrings, sunglasses, shoes and a $500 Coach bag that are all the same color of lime green.  I told her she looks great (she DOES) but I could never imagine buying shoes in any color but black.  She came by at Christmas to say hello and to give me a Christmas gift.  RASPBERRY PINK LEATHER BOOTS!  (She also gave me a matching blouse, sweater and gloves.)  Oh, the frivolity! But I must admit, I am over the moon about these silly boots!   I spend an inordinate amount of time admiring my pretty feet.

Evil Neighbors and Ecstatic Cats

The boots are only my second favorite Christmas present.  The best one is the cool bird (read "squirrel") feeder that Robert made for me.  It has one-way glass and is attached to the window right outside my office, so while I type this I can watch birds (read "squirrels") munching away on treats only about two feet away from me and about two INCHES away from the nose of a twitching kitty.

Mabel, checking it out.

I keep a little "kitty mattress" on my desk top by the window, because cats like to sit near their people and I am often at my desk.  I don't want to make aspersions about my kitty Twerp's intelligence or lack of it, but you would think, after nearly knocking himself out a few times, bonking his big, buffalo head against the window, that he would understand that he can't get at those birdies (read "squirrels").  Sometimes I have trouble typing because of the repeated slapping of my hands by mighty excited kitty tails.

Here's Mabel
Here's Twerp
I had actually asked Robert to build me a SQUIRREL feeder, as the critters nearly killed my pink dogwood last winter, having squabbles and squirrel dramas among its delicate branches.  There was a pile of damaged bark at the base of the tree come last spring, and that's not a good thing.  I wanted something AWAY from the tree (the squirrels had been in the tree, getting at a bird feeding station I had there) so I suggested to Robert that we put it in the windowsill, with a little squirrel ladder for them to get to it from the ground.  Robert then went to work to make me a BIRD feeder.  He figured squirrels would not be able to reach it, as getting to it would require them to climb six feet straight up a brick wall.  (They do this easily, it turns out.)

I love the feeder, and I don't care what kinds of critters eat out of it, but squirrels do frighten birds away, and I still wanted to keep the little rodents away from my dogwood.  So I built another feeder to attach to the property-line fence, which backs up against the side of my neighbor's falling-down garage, where all day I watch squirrels coming in and out of holes in the roof.  I put some corn there and enjoyed watching the happy surprise of the animals to find it there.

Then I got a knock at the door.  My next-door neightbor, fuming purple.  She demanded that I take the feeder down because (literally) 1/2 inch of it extended over on to her side of the fence.  I explained to her why I had put it there, to protect my tree, and she just got madder and madder.  I told her that there are no more squirrels there than there usually are, and that they nest her garage.   She said,  "I DO NOT LIKE SQUIRRELS!  I DO NOT LIKE TO SEE SQUIRRELS!" and stormed off.

I moved the feeder to the other side of the house, but I was upset about that experience for a long time.  Whenever I'd think about it, my mind went crazy.   A small gray and white rabbit used to live between our two houses (also living in her wrecked garage) and I'd think insane thoughts, such as: What happened to that rabbit?  Did she KILL it?  Is SHE, the terrible animal hater, the reason I don't see that possum anymore?  Did she run over it AGAIN and AGAIN with her car? 

Nobody likes having run-ins with neighbors (for one thing, it's so darn unneighborly) and I was all stressed out about it, trying to figure out how to avoid engaging her wrath again.  Then I realized something important.  IT IS NOT MY JOB TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM SQUIRRELS.  And PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN NORTH AMERICA, WHO DON'T WANT TO SEE SQUIRRELS, SHOULD MOVE TO ANTARCTICA.

Pooh to animal haters.  We like little animals and spoil them silly.  In addition to the feeder, the cats had a very exciting Christmas overall, recieving TWELVE catnip mice, NINE tinsel balls, and TWO custom catnip toys.  [Robert adds: But that partridge in the pear tree was the final touch!] 

Twerp in heaven.

It seems I am writing a lot about cats.  (Gee, you'd think I was a childless middle-aged woman or something. . . )  But I did want to tell you that I am working on a big project for the Shelter--putting on a night of stand-up comedy at a local night spot, on February 18.  I have four professional comics lined up.  It is my dream to be able to hand over a HUGE check to the shelter.

Losing My Mind and My Passport

I understand it is a part of this &%!*##$ aging process, but my memory scares me lately.  I totally freaked out my sister-in-law, telling her we didn't receive the Christmas wreath she sent (we actually DIDN'T) nor a gift shipment of pistachios.  Then I found the pistachios wrapped, under the tree, and addressed to Robert.  I had no memory of wrapping them.  Argh.  And I keep losing things. 

Normally, this is only a minor irritation, but I lost something recently that is really distressing me.  When Robert's mother died she left us a little money, and we decided we should spend some of it on something Muffy would have wanted us to have--sort of a gift from her.  We talked about taking a trip, and Robert was interested in seeing Turkey.  The problem is, most trips would require him to use up most of his year's vacation all in one fell swoop.  But I found a seven-day trip that included three days in Istanbul and three in Rome, and we decided to do it.  We are leaving March 10.

I started pulling out guidebooks and money belts and stuff like that that we'll need for the trip, and piling them on the guest room bed.  Robert thought I was slightly mad, starting this process in January.  But I'm so glad I did!  I looked at our passports, and realized that the one for me was the old, expired one.  No problem!  Since being laid off, I have reorganized everything in our house, from the attic to the garage.  Everything is in labeled bins or files, and I can tell you where to find ANYTHING in my house.  Fountain pen cartidges?  My office, third little drawer from the right in the organizer on my desk.  Dinky nightlight light bulbs?  In the labeled coffee can on the shelf above the toilet in the basement bathroom.  Passports?  In the antique camphor-wood box on the bookcase in the bedroom!

But NO!  My 1970 passport was there.  My 1992 passport was there, but not the current one!  The last time I used it was for proof of citizenship when I got my job in 2008.  ARGH!  I tore the house apart.  I went through every closet, the pockets of every jacket, and every file in my filing cabinets.  I finally gave up, and realized I need to order a new one, and fast.  OK.  That requires obtaining the application, filling in the info, attaching an expired passport and my marriage license, getting a new photo taken, then paying the exhorbitant fee.

No problem.  Our marriage license is kept in a file called "personal," in my office.  Or at least it USED to be.

Guess how much it costs to get a stupid copy of your stupid wedding license?  $64.00!  $39.00 of that is for shipping!  Where's my gun?

I decided that at least, I could save the $18.00 cost of professional passport photos.  I asked Robert to take my picture when he got home after work.  He worked late and I was already in my nightshirt.  He took the picture of me in the bathroom (the only expanse of wall not covered by art or wallpaper).  Though I didn't get dressed , I slapped on some beads, earrings and some lip gloss.

Franny says: Who is that wrinkly old lady?

Robert says (in awestruck tones): Joni Mitchell?  
Is that really you? 

Anyway, as soon as my *#+%&&@! wedding license shows up, I'll send of for another *#+%&# passport, and then, I'll find the originals, probably some place I've already searched twelve times.

Such is life.

We hope yours is good!

Love, Franny and Robert