Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bite me

Daisy finally has announced her modus operandi on the two-legged kitten: dominate and intimidate. She bit Samuel today after lying lovingly on his lap, belly up and tail waving. I only saw the consequence of the bite - namely the hiccup of surprize, the held breath and the long wail. And the two fang marks on his arm. And accompanying scratches. I shovelled some anti-histamine into him. I didn't think she had punctured his skin at the time but this evening there are definitely two red spots on his arm. Now that I think it over I better trundle over to the clinic tomorrow and make sure he's not going to get tetanus or anything. I believe his vaccinations should have covered that off, but better make sure.

She's done the belly-up thing before, front paws in rabbit-position, head tucked in, fat face on (that's my word for the I'm-so-cute-I-can't-believe-it face that cats use when they're particularly pleased with themselves). Needless to say Samuel grabs fistfuls of her fur in between his bleats of delight. Yes, he actually bleats - he goes "bah! bah! bah!". That's when she staples herself to his arm. She bit him yesterday too. I'm fairly certain, since he also cried suddenly yesterday when she was nearby, and she had a guilty look on her face when I ran over.

I'm not happy. I've started putting her in the basement when Samuel's playing on the rug and I can't supervise. Even when I'm sitting right there, she tries to squirrel in between us to lie down. I feel horrible for her because she's obviously wanting to be number one cat, which she is, now, but she thinks Samuel is a cat too. To top it all off, she is really bad about letting me trim her nails. The minute I get the clipper out she puts her ears back and gazes at me with narrowed eyes "you're not planning on bringing that thing anywhere near ME, are you?". I'm trying to handle her paws every day to get her accustomed to it, and I take her to the vet once a month for her nail trimming, but they still get pretty nasty in between visits. I don't even want to think about what would happen if she really attacked Samuel.

How do I get her to understand that Samuel is not a toy, not a cat, and not a scratching post? On top of everything he's got eczema and it's getting steadily worse. I feel like a bad mom all around.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Carnal Knowledge

I used to think it was a good idea to know in intimate detail where the flesh I eat comes from - chicken, beef, the odd bit of fish. Not that I consume a wide variety of animals - I don't eat pigs because they're too smart - it would feel like I was eating a dog or horse. Mind you I find it hard sometimes to resist a good bit of ham or bacon. Too bad they taste so good. I'm sure cannibals say the same thing about humans. Where was I? Oh yes, animal flesh. I don't eat lambs because they're fluffy, cute white baby animals. I don't eat anything with more than four legs or less than two unless it's been cooked beyond recognition. I don't eat anything that ran wild before it died. For the longest time I couldn't eat shrimp because they look mostly like bugs. and don't even get me started on lobsters. I mean, they LOOK at you from the plate! Ewww.

Back to anatomy: I used to think that if I was going to consume some creature's body, I should know exactly what I was eating. Kind of a karmic thing. That whole concept ran neck and neck with the fact that I'm a queasy carnivore. I don't like eating meat that actually looks like a body part - chicken wings are about as close as I'll get. Somehow I can rationalize away drumsticks - I mean, it's hard to imagine them being functioning legs. calves. thighs. whatever.

So I live in an endless bout of guilt over my mindless and ignorant consumption of animal flesh, and my reluctance to learn more about and somehow spiritually atone for its consumption. An undercurrent to that is the obscene methods of "factory" farming - do you know they chop the beaks and claws off chickens so that they don't "hurt themselves" while they grow plump in their twelve inch square cages? - that generates the neatly packaged and plasticized offerings at the supermarket, and the equally obscene amount of waste that is generated by meat packing plants and their ilk. I drove past a chicken "farm" once which was a row of immense concrete bunkers with no windows. It stank. I felt like throwing up. I didn't eat chicken for a long time after that. Now I've mostly forgotten how horrible it was so I rant about it but eat it anyway. sigh.

I try to buy happy meat from local organic farmers but it's expensive and it tastes funny - which means it reflects the real cost of ethical farming and it tastes like the animals are actually supposed to taste if they're allowed to live natural lives. sigh.

Back to my original tack: I boiled a chicken the other day. Seemed like the right thing to do - it was one of the bbq'd ones from Coop, and even my best attempt at prying the meat off the bones resulted in too much waste. The idea to boil it was lurking in my mind anyway - I've wanted chicken stock for Samuel's rice and potato mush, just to liven things up a bit.

Anyway, I threw in the chicken remnants, skin and all, water, and a couple of other things from the 'chicken stock' recipe in the Joy. I am not certain the skin thing was a good idea and I did end up fishing it all out again after a couple of hours. I had to interrupt my stewing for an evening and it sat overnight out on the back deck - the "big" fridge - there was no way the stock pot would fit in my fridge. The next day, I gave it another good boil and strained out the chicken - the stock smelled delicious and in the interests of frugality I decided to fish out the good pieces of flesh from the pile - and that's where the carnal knowledge comes in. After that little exercise I'm quite certain I don't really ever want to know what an original animal looks like before I eat it. I think I had to pick through every neck bone and vertebra to get to the good bits of flesh, and they just FEEL gross. ugh. little pointy bones that you can imagine used to help the chicken crane its neck this way and that, looking for juicy grubs or seeds. little rounds nubbies of cartilage that helped the bones move smoothly. little veins and muscles. little bits that used to make up a chicken... now frozen in my freezer. Ugh. I'm not sure I'll be able to make myself eat the stuff now. Anyone want some chicken stock?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Five Days

Okay Grog Trough lasted less than a week. So I'm not a grog-swiller. Bite me.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bedecked and bejeweled

Okay, I think I'm ready. For Christmas, that is. The tree is up. The string of lights on the front of the house (which I didn't take down from last year) are a little saggy but half of them still work so I figure that can be checked off the list. The presents are bought. Well okay not quite, but only one left means that's pretty much done. The house is still a disaster but since I'm not entertaining this year, who cares? Oh wait, the gifts aren't wrapped yet. Oh well, I'll get there. All in all I'm feeling pretty good.

I'm even having Bailey's in my coffee. For some reason Bailey's signals Christmas for me. That, and early summer mornings sitting out on the back stoop in the sun. Samuel is crabbing over on the rug. Guess this will be a short post. He's working on getting from sitting to all fours, and I hope, eventually to crawling. So far he seems to want to skip the crawling part.


Whew. He's asleep. Time for my nap too. My latest dilemma is, stockings or no stockings? We didn't grow up with them. They are an added expense, but I've heard they can also be a lot of fun if done properly. Must mull over stockings. Anyone out there have opinions?

Merry Yule, everyone.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Grog Trough

I have decided that Peel me a Grape is just too... Princessy. I am going to, henceforth, swill grog with the vast unwashed. I shall practice swearing and wear too-tight jeans and make my hair into a big pouf. and wear mascara and black eyeliner. Wait. I already do that. Okay, I'm going to do it more. And did I mention the chewing gum? I'm going to chew gum. long after it's lost it's flavour. It will be the defining feature of the new grog-swilling zouzou.

Why? you might ask. Why give up all that is refined and delicate just for the sake of a blog name?

I don't know really. I think I need a change and since my REAL life is mostly out of control, why not do it here, in blogland? Ahh. I can feel a swear coming already. F---art. Fart. Okay I didn't quite manage to blurt out the BIG f-word but I'm workin' on it. (notice the dropped 'g')

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

To tree or not to tree?

I almost didn’t tree this year. I don’t know why, the whole Christmas thing has not got hold of me. Usually I am counting the days to the first weekend in December so I can put the tree up. This year all I could think of was how much work it would be to haul out all the bits and pieces and rearrange the living room to make a space, and then have to reverse the whole process in a mere four weeks.

On top of that, I have the nanny’s room to put together - the basement bathroom to finish off (baseboards are lying in the hallway), painting the window trim on the newly-enlarged window, putting up a curtain, a closet and the bed, and finding somewhere to store all the junk that is currently nesting happily in there. All before January 14, when I go for a much-anticipated holiday to Hawaii (I just heard a radio interview on how truly ethical environmentalism means No More Airplane Trips – Heat: how to stop the planet from burning).

It just seemed like it was too much work. Samuel would never notice there was no tree for his First Christmas. Aargh. You can see it coming, can’t you? The Guilt Trip arrived with a full panoply of associated heart-wrenching images of me in my old age, deeply regretting Depriving My Only Child of his First Christmas Tree. And Samuel, by now a strapping 40 year old, looking at me reproachfully “Mother, couldn’t you have just taken an hour to do it? For me, your only son?”

Sigh. I caved in this morning, dragged out all the boxes, and the tree is up. Not lighted or decorated, but the tree is up. All nine levels and 850 points are attached and fluffed out, waiting for further action. I figure a string of lights and 8-10 ornaments about 3 feet off the ground should do the trick. Oh no, I hear another Guilt Trip gathering momentum…

Friday, December 08, 2006

And now the evening news

On a completely different note, I had coffee with this guy today who a) is at LEAST twenty years older than me b) actually hunted me down after a chance encounter during a choral concert when I was six months pregnant, and c) called several times over the past YEAR to ask how I was doing. I finally said yes to coffee and dragged Samuel and myself over to the local coffee shop after gymboree today.

It was all very wierd. I mean, I dont' want to think of myself as ageist, but what was he DOING? Why would a sixty year old man try to attract a forty something new mom? Curiosity will be the end of me. Not that I figured it out, in the end. I had coffee, we chatted, I left. I'm hoping he doesn't call again. I didn't make any effort to be particularly amenable, in fact I think I was downright ornery. Not ornery enough to come right out and ASK why he wanted to have coffee with me. bizarre.

sweet sorrow

The vet brought Brandy home today. Or what was left of her, a little box of ashes. We were both running around and managed to organize our schedules enough that I drove into my driveway just as she pulled up. I took the plastic bag from her and dropped it on the floor just inside the house, being occupied with unloading Samuel and the half-million bits and pieces that accompany us wherever we go. One thing led to another (sleepy baby who didn't want to sleep, helping him toddle around the house, finding entertainment while I did laundry, phone calls, supper, then another round of play, bath, bed). In between all that I took her box out of the bag and set it on the dining table, along with a couple of envelopes. It wasn't til Sam was asleep that I had a chance to look at it all - a thoughtful card from the cremation place and a very sweet letter from my vet that talks of how she (Brandy, not the vet)will be waiting for me when I cross over and we will be together again.

It is so sad to think of Brandy as that little box of ashes. In fact, I can't do it. I don't want to open the box and see the sad gray remains of my beloved. It's irrational. I know it's not really her except in the grossest physical sense, and she is long gone to the warm loving lap of the Great Mother. But somehow that box still calls me.

The last time I had a cat die, the box sat around my house for several years, and moved with me to new houses three times along with all the other household detritus. I don't even know what I did with it, in the end. I don't want that to happen again but I can't settle on what to do with her. Perhaps I'll find some long grass to scatter her in so her last energetic imprint can play jungle cat and stalk field mice. For now, I'm going to move it to the window sill so she can look outside. I think I'm getting morbid.