Friday, October 30, 2009

In honor of Halloween

Honestly, I think that turning the clocks back this weekend so that it will be dark out at 4:30 is scary enough, but in case you want some more chills, here is a post I did a couple of years ago about the house I grew up in.

Now here's the thing: I don't know if "ghosts" exist or not. The mind can do all kinds of things to make you believe in something that's not really there. But there was something in that house. I will always believe that.

Here's my story:

I was born in upstate New York. My family moved into the house I grew up in when I was 10 months old, in 1963. They bought the house from the original owners, who had built the house a few years before, so the house wasn’t very old. It was a two story house built on a sloping lot, so the finished basement (rec room, laundry room, den, bedroom, bathroom, storage room) was partially below ground. The storage room in the basement was maybe 10’ x 15’ and was in the corner of the basement; there was something very, very wrong about that room. When you walked in there, the hair would stand up on the back of your neck. None of us ever actually saw any kind of apparition or anything like that, but you really, really didn't want to turn around sometimes.

There was a bedroom next to the storage room that was traditionally the room of the oldest sibling in the house at the time. (In a family of six kids, having your own room was a huge privilege!) Staying in that bedroom could be a scary experience. Sometimes I would be in that bedroom and just have the strongest feeling that I had to get out right that second; the worst part was, you had to pass the door of the storage room to get from the bedroom into the main part of the basement and up the stairs to the main living area. I remember steeling up my nerve to open up the bedroom door and get past that storage room door and across the basement to the stairs; by the time I hit the stairs, I'd be hauling ass so fast I'd scuttle up the stairs on all fours, desperately trying to make the door at the top before ....... whatever it was in the basement got me.

We always kept the door to the storage room closed, but it would often be open when someone would walk by. Lots of times I would leave my stereo on a particular radio station before I went to bed in the basement bedroom; when I got up in the morning, the radio would be on a totally different station at the other end of the dial. The living room was upstairs, and many, many nights we would be sitting up there watching TV while we listened to the furniture re-arranging itself downstairs. The floor downstairs was linoleum and the furniture was wooden “camp-style”, so it would make a very distinctive sound scraping across that floor. But when we would go down to check, the furniture would always be where it was supposed to be. Other times the downstairs rec room stereo would come blasting on in the middle of the night; as soon as you got to the top of the basement stairs, it would stop.

If we were in the basement, we could hear what sounded like people walking around upstairs, even when no one was up there. After I grew up and moved out, I would house-sit for my parents when they went out of town; I always stayed upstairs and made sure the door to the basement was shut and locked. When I'd get up in the morning, that door would be standing wide open. That happened a lot and almost gave me a heart attack every time.It wasn’t just our family who experienced this stuff; in-laws and friends were privy to these experiences as well.

It has been over twenty years since I lived there, and I still have nightmares about it. Especially the door to the storage room. When I wake up, I have to remind myself that I don't live there anymore. And I never have to go back.

Happy Halloween! And be glad you didn't grow up in a house like that, because really? It sucked.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

So, last night, I grabbed an ashtray .......


Wait! It's not what you think!

I was doing some hemming* in the living room, and I needed something to put the little bits of end-thread in.

Yeah, I've still got a couple of ashtrays, on top of the fridge. I have friends who smoke, and if they want to light up when they stop by, I'm not going to be one of those assholes hypocritical reformed ex-smokers who banishes people to the backyard to light up.**

For those of you who may be new here, I quit smoking on April 3. The same day an insane whackjob went berzerker and killed a bunch of people in my little town. An auspicious start, no? Nothing makes you want a cigarette like a crazed gunman on the loose.

But here I am, almost seven months later, able to grab an ashtray without wanting to run down to the quickie-mart and grab a pack of smokes to go with.


*There's the real shocker - I was actually sewing! Alert the media!

**I mean, come on, up until this spring, I was the one smoking like a chimney. Just because I quit, it doesn't mean that everybody has to.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Deer poop and compost

Last night, and the night before, I was out raking the leaves in the backyard, in that brief interval between the time I get home and the time it gets dark out. Said interval is about to get drastically briefer this weekend, but I'm not thinking about that right now.

There really aren't all that many leaves out back, at least not compared to where I used to live, and I wasn't going to bother raking at all, but then I got a brilliant idea: Compost! The lazy assholes people up the street load up their grass clippings in a wheelbarrow, wheel them down the street, and dump them on the town land adjacent to my property, so I figured, Bingo! I'll rake the leaves, layer them with the grass clippings, add in the coffee grounds from work, and I'll have nice earthy compost ready for use next spring!

Yeah, I'll let you know how that turns out. Like all my brilliant ideas, I'm sure it'll turn into a clusterf*ck of massive proportions. I'm good like that.

ANYHOW, I was raking, raking, raking, and noticing that holy cow, there's a lot of friggin' deer poop out here. We're talking piles and piles of poop. And I was all, like, yeah well, more organic material for me! I just raked up the poop with the leaves as I happily made my compost piles.

But then I got to thinking, what's that disease? You know, that wasting-away ....... Crutzfield-Jacob, is that it? Because I know I read something in the paper a couple of years back about how deer could be affected, and hunters should wear latex gloves when field-dressing their kill, and I wondered ........ is the disease in the poop? The poop that I'm raking into my compost piles?

Hmmmm .......... if the CDC comes for my compost in the spring, I guess I'll have my answer.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Watching The Runt and Little Girl play with their various prey, I got to thinking about the hunting instinct.

You see, these cats came from a shelter. I got them, their brother and sister, and their mom as a foster when the kittens were wee. Their eyes had opened, and they were just starting to explore the world. Momma was feral; the entire time I fostered them, she only let me touch her once or twice.

Because they were fosters, I kept them inside the whole time I had them. Momma had no opportunity to teach her little babies how to stalk and kill prey.

But somehow, they knew. When I decided to keep The Runt and Little Girl, after the others had gone back to the shelter (their brother and sister were put up for adoption; Momma went to be a barn cat as she was too wild to be a house pet), I started letting them outside.

And they started hunting. And catching stuff. And (sometimes) eating it.

They didn't need Momma to teach them. They just knew. And I don't know how much patience it must take to catch a flippin' wild bird, but they've got it.

Do I feel bad for what they catch? Yes. Especially the birds. I love birds. I would gladly have a yard full of bird feeders and bird houses if not for the fact that, well, I have cats. Setting up bird feeders in yard with cats hardly seems fair.

And I wish, if they are going to hunt, they'd at least eat what they catch. A lot of the time, they just play with it until it's dead, and then walk away.

Other than keeping them inside, which I am not willing to do, I really can't control what they do.

They're animals, after all. It's in their nature.

But I will admit to getting tired of being on corpse-removal detail when they bring the stuff into the house.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Groundhog Day

Ah yes, here I am, back in the office again. Let's see, the last day I had off was ....... hmmm........ October 11.

Hell, I don't mind - I can use the money. I'd just like to be able to sleep in for a day. That'd be nice.

Oh, heck, who am I kidding; I'd rather work. I just had to put tires on the car. Show me the money!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Palate Cleanser

Miss Doxie is back!

Miss Doxie, one of the first bloggers I started reading, and one of my all-time favorites, has returned!

Welcome back!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Little Savage

The Runt brought in (yet another) mouse last night. I heard him thud through the pet door in the kitchen, and watched as he trotted past me in the living room with his catch dangling out of his jaws. He headed for the hallway to enjoy a little snack. I've learned to leave him alone with his prey; if you get too close, he gets really defensive and starts to growl.

Anyhow, after a session of flinging the (now dead) mouse into the air and pouncing on it, he lost interest and walked away. I went over to initiate carcass removal and discovered that ......

Okay, here comes some quease-inducing info ...... I'm giving you a chance to click away now .....

scroll down ........

down ..........

down .........

......... The Runt had eaten the mouse's face off. Not the mouse's head, although lord knows I've cleaned up enough decapitated mouse corpses. No, just his face.

And then he ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

Seriously, WTF? I hope when I die that somebody finds the body right away, because otherwise, it's gonna be gruesome.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Live-blogging from the nuthouse

Right now, my boss is on a conference call with one of our clients. And they are discussing how Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have it right, and our country is going to hell in a handbasket because of the liberals. And the word "fear" keeps coming up.


You know what they're afraid of? They're afraid that now that a black man is president, their rich white asses are going to have to start paying their fair share. Because a non-member took over the club.

Oh shit, now they're discussing the genius of John McCain.

Gentlemen. For the record, John McCain is crazier than a shithouse rat.

Help me ........

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Notes from the weekend

I spent all weekend at the office, working on billings and reports. It pretty much sucked, except for the whole time-and-a-half thing, which pretty much rocks.

On Saturday morning before I left for work, I had to dispose of a mole which the cats had thoughtfully brought into the house for me. When I got home Saturday afternoon, it looked like a bird had exploded in the hallway - tiny feathers everywhere. While looking for the remains of the bird (which I never did find - where is it?), I found a dead mouse under the couch. Last night they tag-teamed a mouse in the backyard, and The Runt later brought it inside for consumption. I think they're bulking up for winter. Just like me. Heh.

I was out in the backyard late Saturday afternoon and looked up to see a great blue heron sailing overhead, silhouetted against the darkening sky. Really pretty. This stuff only happens when I don't have my camera. Of course.

A local politician knocked on my door Sunday night, asking for my vote. You know, in all the years I lived in apartment buildings, I never once got visited by a politician. Now that I'm a homeowner? I'm like a rock star.

Anyhow, this politician mentioned how she (and her hubby, who is also running for office), had been to the ham dinner at the local church earlier. Not for a million bucks would I go through all the bullshit you have to do if you want to get elected to local office. There were a shitload of people-running-for-office at the community picnic I went to this summer; they all chatted me up and asked for my vote, but not one of them asked what my concerns were. Of course, I'm sure that they get told people's concerns all the time, sometimes loudly and angrily, but I'd be much more inclined to vote for someone who wanted to know what I thought.

Car in, car out - it worked! Thanks for the advice, Kit.

The Bills managed to win a game, which the commentators were lauding as some kind of freaking miracle, which ....... yeah. The problem is that they usually run out of steam by the fourth quarter. Oh, and all those penalties aren't helping, either. Plus, the other day the coach said he didn't know what the problem was ........ better figure it out, buddy. Otherwise, it's gonna be a long season.

So! How was your weekend?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Doo, doo, doo .....

....... lookin' out my back door.

That was this morning. Sorry for the poor quality; they were at the back of the property, about two hundred feet away, and I couldn't use a flash so I had to monkey with the image on flickr to get it view-able.

There were four of them all together, traipsing single-file through the back yard. I know that come spring I'll be cursing them for eating all my perennials, but right now they're cool.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Me vs. the garage door

When they started predicting snow for the end of this week, I cleared the lawn mower and other miscellaneous crap out of the garage so I could pull the car in. Last night, with snow on the way, I pulled into the driveway, eyeballed the width of the garage door, eyeballed the width of my car and ....... went for the tape.

Now, I always thought that the cars were as big as barges back in the 50s, but evidently I was wrong, because my house was built in 1952-ish, and the garage door is eight feet wide. My car? From side mirror to side mirror, is six-and-a-half feet wide.

Which leaves me with, let's see, nine inches of clearance on either side.

How do I phrase this: I am, ummm ...... spatially challenged. It embarrasses me to admit this, but folks, I have a hard time aligning my car onto the rails at freakin' Jiffy Lube. When I BOUGHT this car, I had the salesman drive it off the showroom floor for me, fearing disaster if I did it myself.

It did NOT HELP that on the local news last night, they had video footage of a woman in my town who hit the gas instead of the brake when pulling into her garage, firmly embedding her car in her kitchen.

Can you imagine? It's bad enough that it happened, but then it made the local news. She's never gonna live that down. "Hey, Betty, could you grab me a cup of coffee while you're in there? Or, you know, change the oil?"

I do not want to make the local news. So what will I be doing this weekend? Practicing. Car in, car out. Car in, car out. And hopefully I won't be picking up pieces of side-view mirror from the garage floor. Or, you know, backing the car out of the kitchen.

I am NOT amused .......

This was the view from my bedroom window this morning.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sometimes a great notion

Somewhere, the other day, I saw a silhouette image of a crow. And I thought it would be cool to put a few crows on one of my walls. I didn't want anything permanent, because I'm going to be painting the walls soon, so I decided on paper cut-outs. I went to Google Images and got a few crow outlines; I cut them out on paper and colored them black.

When I went to put them on the wall, I remembered that somewhere I had seen some kind of stencil of birds on a wire. (I have an awful time remembering where I've seen stuff; I swear, my mind is like a sieve. It processes everything, and most stuff passes through, but sometimes pieces get stuck, except I can't ever remember where anything came from to begin with.) So I grabbed some yarn and stretched it across the wall, fixing it with thumbtacks to the corner of the wall and a window frame. Then I took some sticky blob stuff (I can't remember the name of it; it's like chewing gum, and it's removable) and fixed the crow cut-outs on the wall.


And now I'm actually thinking of leaving that particular part of the wall blue, because it looks like sky. For the crows.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I truly believe that for a couple of weeks every year, this is one of the most beautiful places on earth.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oh, no, not the Roloffs!

One show I really enjoy is Little People, Big World. Nothing ever happens, nobody gets hurt (well, except for the trebuchet incident), and life just rolls along.

So imagine my surprise when Mom Roloff started talking
d-i-v-o-r-c-e on last night's show.

Oh, Roloffs, et tu?

You can't help but be reminded of that other TLC show. Consider the similarities:

1. Family gets offered reality TV show because they're unusual.
Jon & Kate - She had a litter of kids.
The Roloffs - Some of them are Little.

2. The money starts to roll in, and home improvements begin.
Jon & Kate - They move into a McMansion and promptly start remodeling.
The Roloffs - Their house seems to be undergoing one continuous expansion, and the pumpkin farm keeps expanding, as well.

3. The hubby quits his day job and starts acting like a twelve year old.
Jon & Kate - Jon starts partying with teenagers.
The Roloffs - Dad Roloff builds a castle, complete with stone walls and throne room, for his daughter. His fifteen-year-old daughter.

4. Mom and Dad start talking about how they've "grown apart".
Jon & Kate - File for divorce. The Roloffs - Please, guys, you can work it out! I love your show!

So, in short, a reality show may net you a ton of money, but it's probably gonna end your marriage. Not a good trade-off, in my opinion.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I took the morning off from work and all I got was this lousy rash*

I took Friday morning off from work and borrowed one of my coworkers so we could do this:

This is why the guys at work hate me.

Actually, we kicked ass, putting up over 300 square feet of insulation in the garage in four hours. And the first hour was spent removing all the random shelving, nails, screws, etc. that the last owner had put up all over the place. I think when he got bored, he went out in the garage and pounded nails in the walls. Seriously, I could build an entire house with the nails I pulled out of those studs. He had nailed up cardboard as walls in some places, along with (some) drywall, all of which had to come down. Good times! I was hoping to find some money stuffed behind a wall, but the best I came up with was an old license plate and a cat toy. Oh, and a chisel.

And my coworker didn't even laugh at me when I couldn't figure out how to fill up his staple gun. (In my defense, I KNOW how to load MY staple gun; I just didn't know how to load HIS. And hooo boy that sounds not-quite-right, doesn't it?) I also had a hard time figuring out a caulk gun the first time I used it. Slow-on-the-uptake, that's me.

But! Now I'm ready for winter. As ready as I'm gonna be, that is. We had the first hard frost this morning, and the "S" word is in the forecast for later in the week. Time to bust out the heavy coats.

*On the back of my neck. From the fiberglass. Scratchscratchscratch all damn weekend.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


There's a huge willow tree in my backyard. It's really pretty cool looking, and when you get up close you can see how gnarled and twisty it is:

It looks like the tree in Poltergeist, doesn't it? The one that broke through the window and grabbed the little boy? Hmmmm, maybe that's why the previous owner screwed the windows shut.

The Runt's not afraid of it, though:

Kitty treehouse.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Well shit, nobody's stopping by anyway ........

.....and, it's down.

Thanks, guys, for all your nice comments!

Hope the pics didn't scar you for life or anything.

Monday, October 05, 2009

I HOPE it's some kind of fungus or something ....

See that blob, to the left of my foot? And that other blob, in front of my foot? And the OTHER blob, up at the very top middle of the frame?
That's in my backyard. And I'm hoping against all odds that it's some kind of bizarro fungal growth, because I don't even want to THINK about whatever size creature that would take that big of a dump roaming around in my yard.
But yeah, I'm pretty sure it's poop. GIANT CREATURE POOP.
So that's why the previous owner screwed the windows shut.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

SIX, motherf*ckers!

It's been six months since I had a cigarette. As always, let's roll the numbers:

Number of cigarettes I would have smoked between April 3 and today, were I still smoking: 5,400.

Amount of money saved: $963.00. Hmmm. That's about the amount I have in my checking account right now. So if I had kept smoking, instead of having almost a grand in my checking account, I'd have ........ zero. Nada. Zip. Whooooaaaa. There's some food for thought.

Is it still hard? Yeah, it's still hard. I still think about smoking every day. There are some days when I tell myself that I can do anything, anything at all, eat like a pig, get drunk, buy new clothes, anything, as long as I don't smoke. And while I usually don't end up needing to use the options, knowing they are there gets me through.

Although I will say one thing, it's a f*ck of a lot easier to abstain these days than it was in the beginning.

One foot in front of the other. Just keep going. Like the Bataan death march, gotdam it. Heeee. Just kidding. Sorta.

Friday, October 02, 2009

I am totally using this pic on my Christmas cards this year ......

I know it's kind of blurry. But I love, love, love this picture! I got it in a bunch of old photos I bought on ebay.

So many questions ...... Where was this taken? In a park? Why is the guy in a dress shirt, petting a deer? Why is the deer just standing there? Is it a tame deer? Whatever happened to this guy? Whatever happened to the deer?

I just love old photos.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Now I'm thinking I shoulda given the cats pseudonyms

A blogger whom I read every day and really admire has deleted her blog. A person she used to work with found it and threatened legal action over some of the stuff she wrote, even though she named no names. I'm assuming the legal action is over the fact that she wrote about how her co-workers were pretty much useless jerks. (I'm not going to use her name or the name of her blog here, just in case - her co-worker may have found her blog by googling her name.)

I don't even know what to say about this. I write pretty scathing stuff about family members and co-workers on this blog all the time. And here's the thing: I really don't care if someone in my family finds what I've written. As far as I'm concerned, what I write here is the truth, and if somebody doesn't like it, they can go piss up a rope.

But my co-workers? I have to work with these people every day. And while, again, what I write here is the truth, I would certainly not want to face "legal action" over it. It's just a blog, for Pete's sake.

So where does the line get drawn? It's okay to dis your family, but not the guy at the next desk? Even if you don't use any names, you can't write about the people you work with? I mean, I think we all know what it means to get dooced, and it still seems insane that someone could get fired over a blog.

Maybe it's not "just a blog", after all.

Oh, and when you google my name, it does not lead you here. But when you google the cat's names? Bingo.