Happy New Year


We just spent a large portion of our last day of 2013 as we spent so many moments before it: stupidly trying to do things to benefit the critters by employing incomplete information and inappropriate tools. An auspicious ending indeed!

Chicken thighs: all the points
Czech-made hand crank meat grinder: NONE POINTS.

Ok, so we knew it was missing the end blade bit that chops up the mung so the mung doesn’t totally clog the grinding plate, thus rendering the equipment less a “meat grinder” than a “meat smoosher and regurgitator.” But we could not have foreseen just how vitally important this bit actually was. Nor do I think we could have reasonably expected the small-hole sausage grinding plate to wave the white flag in the face of bones, skin and cartilage.

I mean, who could have anticipated that???

But my real problem is the country of origin. I myself am 25% Czech made, with an additional 25% of my overall parts sourced from Croatia. And knowing my grandparents as I have, I’m a bit saddened that my meat grinder–which cost my mother FIVE WHOLE DOLLARS five years ago (which, adjusting for inflation is, what, like, $5.03 in today’s currency?) could not dig deep and call upon its region of origin to help it get by, with its crank handle firm and proud, using only the parts available to it.

Bubba Eva and Grandma Millie would be so disappointed.

It took us so long to grind 5 thighs that Cal was all:


And the other critters were like, “That raw chicken does smell delicious–and I do want to shove my whole face in it–but why don’t you just come get me when it’s time. I’ma be napping in the living room. Ok? Good. Peace.”


24 Hour Tally


Fluffy kitten? OR JEDI KNIGHT???

Middle-of-the-night circus kittens soaring high overhead and almost landing on a very startled, previously sleeping puppy: 1 (Nigel)

Mystery stoop pooper: 1 (Calvin–not super mysterious.) Related, the landing has pretty clearly become the designated potty space, so I suppose there are baby gates in my very near future, bringing the house total to three. My entire domicile is an elaborate series of critter locks.

Kittens inadvertently locked in powder room for half an hour as I sat on the couch trying to figure out what that banging sound was: 1 (also Nigel; not retribution for nighttime aerial maneuvers–pinkie swear)

Critters who so much as twitched to alert me that that banging sound was actually their brethren, trapped in a powder room: 0. Real nice, guys. Real nice.

Two minutes have elapsed


In the very scant time between publishing that last post and publishing this one, Calvin has both peed and pooped on the landing.


So, just to recap (because pity, party of one, is unsatisfying):

9am – scraped and scrubbed crusted regurgitate
5pm – pickup/steam clean Karmann stoop poop (large field)
6:11pm – steam clean Calvin stoop-stair pee waterfall
6:15pm – pickup/steam clean Calvin stoop poop (small field)

Oh hey! Must be Saturday!

*weeps softly*


9:35pm – Karmann inexplicably ninja attacked Mortimer, flipping him onto his back and pinning him against the wall, procuring four feline fingerprints in her lovely, oversized snout. So add “daubing blood” to my list of critter clean ups for the day.

And now I drink until the solstice leaves.

Of stoop poop, vomitoria, and Christmas

Three years ago Nigel was going through some sort of extended, unpredictable digestive upheaval, and I awoke one Saturday to discover he had turned our carpeted living room into a vomitorium. I didn’t even get dressed; I just threw on a jacket and proceeded to Walmart, where shopping in pajamas is not necessarily notable, to buy a portable steam cleaner. Until then, we had magically gotten by with just a few bottles of carpet spot remover. But this wasn’t a spot, it was a crime scene.

An aside: because critters are gross and do gross things on a pretty regular basis I have become an expert in forensic critter mess identification. I could tell this was Nigel’s doing, for example, because of the size (too small to be dog puke, eliminates 50% of the suspect pool) the smell (Nigel puke reeks of pickles) and the pattern (Nigel is terrified of throwing up so he backs away frantically as he’s doing it, which serves as both an identifier and, in large scale events, a locator–the blob marks event initiation and the trails point in the direction of backward travel.)

So, I got one of those pet spot removers with the extra strength de-stinking cleaning fluid and it turned out to be a great investment because right around that time everyone started losing control of their bodily functions on a far more regular basis. Calvin showed up and began his ongoing, intermittent routine of anxiety peeing when he thinks you’re leaving the house. He also drools profusely when you follow through on his suspicions. And then there was the time that I brought the dogs in from a walk to discover Nigel had puked, Mort was in the process of puking, and, much like the pie eating contest in Stand By Me, Karmann developed the sympathy pukes so that all three critters were spouting off simultaneously. Things get a little fuzzy, but I believe there was weeping.

Anyway, that little steam cleaner has been put through its paces. And I guess this is Requiem for a Bissel, because I think it’s toast. Three years with my critters has put it out to pasture, and Karmann has been the bridge too far. Our new house has stairs and those stairs are the only carpeted thing in the house. Our middle aged dog has arthritis and something about the motion of ascending steps causes her to emergency poop on the landing. Like she just did twenty minutes ago, about four hours after her acupuncture treatment which is specifically designed to help her not do that. And the steam cleaner, despite ignoring strongly-worded recommendations against cleaning it with bleach, now emits such an acrid, awful smell upon activation that I am in very serious danger of adding my own emesis to whatever slop I’m trying to clean up.

In other news, this is not going to end well:


Also not going to end well: Nigel’s obsession with chewing on electrified festive things. Like Christmas tree lights, and the little LED light up trees we have on the window sill.

Also not going well, in general, are attempts to fatten up Calvin, who has the metabolism of a supermodel and daily proves my theory that all very skinny things are inherently neurotic. He’s the dog version of that person who sits there eating an entire appetizer of chili bacon cheese fries while complaining that, no matter what they eat, they just can’t put on weight.

That Calvin bit has nothing to do with puking, pooping, awful smells, or Christmas-related electrocution. To illustrate my sparkling optimism and generally pleasant disposition.


Anxious little beagle in trepidatious relaxation mode

Meat Pickup. GONE AWRY.


“I was promised beef heart with dinner. Tonight.” *sigh*

Let’s play a game.

Imagine you’re parked in the lot of a fast food joint (you pick which) waiting for . . . Something. You’re a kindly-looking middle-aged fellow in a pick-up truck, which suggests that something is probably not your crack dealer, so pick something else. Maybe you’re waiting to meet a friend for a road trip caravan. Your truck is running, because it’s fricking freezing outside, and you’re reading a newspaper. You’re minding your own business and having a lovely Friday morning.

And then a car pulls in next to you. A Mini, driven by a smallish thirty-something woman in a fuchsia puffer coat, pink hat with ear flaps, and turquoise fingerless mittens dotted with rhinestones. She is wearing sunglasses, and she is looking at you.

You know that she is looking at you because there she sits, nose-in her parking space whereas you’ve backed into yours, and her body is physically turned so that she can look at you. No. She isn’t just looking at you. She’s watching you. And occasionally glancing at her phone to check the time. She, too, seems to be waiting for something. But whatever she’s waiting for . . . involves you.

You take a quick inventory of any college flings that might have unknowingly produced such a pink and besparkled offspring, but you come up blank. And so you briefly allow yourself to consider that perhaps your loving wife has kept a secret from you. Perhaps something from that year you spent as special attaché to Southeast Asia after Nam. But no. Ethel would never. So then who . . .

That feeling you’re feeling? That prickly-necked inclination to giggle in the face of an incongruous fear?

That’s probably very similar to the feels that we’re happening to the kindly-looking middle-aged fellow in the truck next to me this morning, as I sat watching him, assuming he was also there for the slightly surreptitious meat pick-up.

But he wasn’t. Oh no. He wasn’t . . .


I recently switched The Critters to a raw diet. I’d been kicking around the idea of raw feeding since my pre-dog days, but some recent health problems with both my and not-my critters finally gave me the pants kicking I needed to go down that particular rabbit hole. I should note that I really like doing things that require some level of obsession, and so the kind of simmering white noise of “where do you get your meeeeeaaaaat???!?!!!???” that seems to play heavily in the raw feeding groups is totally my jam. So when I was informed, by the amazing dog behaviorist/trainer that is helping me to save my dogs from myself, of a raw meat coop thing that met behind a McDonalds to swap cash and checks for meat I was in. I was SO IN. I eagerly placed an order and penciled in the pick-up date: 12/13. I put this in not one but two calendars because I really didn’t want to forget.

So when this morning rolled around I awoke anxious. Excited. Not only is it my lucky day (Friday the 13th) but today is THE day.

Meat pickup day.

The whole thing is entirely innocuous: it’s people buying meat from people who produce meat. But it’s meat purchased for critters, in a town I’ve never been to and, lets face it, I don’t get out much, so the idea of a meat deal behind a Micky D’s is HIGH INTRIGUE. What will the meat people be like? Will there be sidelong glances around the parking lot? Or attempted grace and ninja heaving of 40lb boxes of chicken thighs into the vehicles of the willing? It certainly seemed like a pretty excellent adventure for a cold Friday morning, anyway.

It was with that sense of adventure that I donned my pinkest outerwear and my sparkliest fingerless mittens and coerced a reluctant beagle into his crate with peanut butter, chicken, and the promise to return posthaste.

Off I zoomed to meet my destiny! I allowed 10 extra minutes. Just in case. I didn’t want to be late.

But destiny would have to wait.

Because after 20 minutes of staring at Truck Guy–waiting for some universally understood “MEAT IS HERE!!!” sign–and a couple awkwardly vague texts to aforementioned amazing dog behaviorist/trainer, I was delivered unto the knowledge that meat pickup day was actually on Saturday.

Which, you know, was totally cool because I really just wanted a sausage biscuit anyway sooooooooooo . . . Whatevs. *sniff*

Morning Drinking

This morning, while enroute to the kitchen to secure coffee, I discovered the doors on the wine cabinet thrown wide open. Odd, but whatever. I closed them and went about my business.

Not one minute later, an awful racket arose in the dining room and I peeped in to discover . . . Mortimer. Pawing his way into the wine cabinet. Now, I will say here that we had a bit of a dog scuffle last night, which I may eventually document, if at any point I feel my adrenals can handle the re-telling. So I’m not judging. I could stand a drink myself. But I like to think I’m within my faculties enough to wait until 9. And then maybe a Bloody Mary–for appearances. I’m not making for the Pinot at 7am.

And of course, when I returned with my phone to document his ongoing efforts, Mortie sauntered off with his dignity and an apparent distaste for leaving visual evidence. The little shit.

A Nigel-ic Interlude


Somewhat surprisingly, it’s almost noon and nobody has done anything spastic. Must be the weather. They all turn into fluffslugs when it rains–exception noted for puppies in the event it’s raining and they have some sort of organized training class or event. In that case, they’re raging nutbags. But in the house? Lazypants, the lot of ’em.

In keeping, Nigel is busy being unrelentingly adorable. He’s always been a particularly charming napper.



In Which I Run Around Screaming

2 months ago, we started looking for new grownup furniture.

6 weeks ago, we ordered new grownup furniture.

3 hours ago, most of our new grownup furniture was delivered.

2 hours ago I was maturely napping on our new grownup sofa.

1 hour ago a clumsy orange cat attempted to join me.


Part of me is all, “mothereff. . .”

Another part of me is like, “I had a whole 2 hours of virgin leather grownup sofa in my life. *HIGHFIVE*”