Thursday, June 30, 2011

Things I'll Miss About This House

Deer sleeping in the yard

The Cecile Brünner climbing rose

The muddy spot, a.k.a. “the spring”

The sound of the wind in the pines

Woodpeckers climbing the telephone pole


The way it always snows more here than downtown

Watching the mail truck try to get up the icy hill

The way the neighbors' terrier looks out their front window, perched on the back of the couch

My other neighbors' three Labs, who bark only when it's important

The pin-drop quiet in the middle of the night

The bright, warm living room

The way the back yard always smells like the woods

The big, deep linen closet

Friday, June 24, 2011

List: Nicknames for Vomit-Prone Cats

Next week, I'm getting a bamboo floor installed in my new house. So I thought I'd better study up on how to clean puke off it, because even my digestively angelic cats have been known to spew a load of stomach acid now and then. In my search, I ran across this wonderful site—an Ask MetaFilter forum where people write in with their cat-vomit anecdotes. The best part, aside from their idioms for barf ("gack," "petrified sickup"), was their nicknames for their own puke-prone cats. Here are my faves:

Madame Barfary
Miss Yaksalot
Lady Spewtastic
Yacky the Wondercat
Van Upchuck
So Long, and Thanks for All the Barf
Ms. Scatterbits
Baron von Barfsalot
Lord Launch Lunch
The Duke of Hurl

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Recently, over a round of beers at the local pub, I found out that three of my closest friends and I all shared a dirty little secret: At one time or another, all of us had been addicted to soap operas.

I wasn’t really surprised that we’d all watched soaps in our youth. After all, countless American women—and a fair number of men—have been hooked on them for decades. All those paper-towel and ant-spray advertisers rely on it.

But what did surprise me was that in the 15 years that I’d known my friends, we had never, ever talked about soap operas before. And it turned out that all four of us had been hooked on the same ones—the ABC lineup of All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital. Those shows had been part of our lives—the afternoons after school, the fleeting lunch hours home from work, the so-called sick days, the hushed conversations with co-workers over the salacious lives of people who didn’t exist. For all those years, my friends and I had been sitting in our separate homes, glued to the TV, pondering what the hell Laura ever saw in Luke, and laughing when Phoebe Tyler married that chubby con man. Before we knew each other, we all knew Dorian Lord and her sleazy husband Herb* (who turned out to be a good guy). Without knowing it, we’d had this connection all along, this deep love of camp and melodrama.

And then, a few days after my friends and I discovered this strange connection, I heard the shocking news: ABC was canceling All My Children and One Life to Live. I hadn’t watched either one in 20 years, but still, I felt like a piece of bedrock had crumbled from under my feet. Where would I go for the switched-at-birth stories? The evil twins? Where would I go to root against mean, manipulative women?

But the answer to all of those questions is, of course, the reason why so many soaps have been canceled lately: I can now get my fix of meanness, absurdity, and big hair by watching “reality” shows. And a truckload of nighttime dramas, from Grey’s Anatomy to Desperate Housewives, and even genre-benders like Glee and True Blood, are essentially serial-plotted soap operas. That’s not the only reason why soaps have gone belly-up; there’s also cable TV and the internet and women’s changing roles in our culture. But the bottom line is that soaps aren’t dead; they’re just freakin’ everywhere.

Even after all these years, my soap-love is still there: I get hooked on serial shows—from The Tudors to Battlestar Galactica—at the drop of a hat. I could get all literary here and talk about we’re drawn to the same archetypal stories again and again, but the truth is that I like to see good-looking people get in trouble. And I like to see pretty people kick ass. Now all the old warriors—Erica, Viki, et al.—are kicking ass in soap-opera heaven. They’re in some kind of Valhalla, stealing each other’s husbands and discovering that they gave birth to babies they don’t remember.

Meanwhile, down here in our own little Pine Valleys and Llanviews, amid our own tangled families and misdirected loves, we are muddling through. It just won’t be the same without them.

*My favorite Herb moment: In one scene, Herb was at home, talking with somebody while he held a cat in his arms. The actor who played Herb, Anthony Call**, was standing there cradling this cat, and while the other person was talking, he quietly kissed the cat on the top of its head. There’s no faking that; he was definitely a cat person.

**Bonus: Anthony Call also played Lieutenant Bailey on the Star Trek episode “The Corbomite Maneuver.” (“You represent Earth's best, then?” “No, sir, I’m not. I’ll make plenty of mistakes.”)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Things I Couldn't Eat on the Three-Week Hidden Springs Detox/Cleanse Diet

Little Debbie Boston Creme Rolls
Tootsie Rolls
Bombay Sapphire gin
Birthday cake
Potato Flakes
Hash browns
Orange juice
Gorton’s Beer Batter Fish Filets
Wheat tortillas
Count Chocula cereal
Black tea
Cadbury Hot Choc Chunks
Papa John’s Six Cheese Pizza
Tater Tots
Stagg’s Chunkéro Chili
Wendy’s Frosty
Indian food