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My parents built a new house and it’s ruining Thanksgiving.
It’s not the built in double ovens, or the granite countertops. It’s not the comfy queen-sized bed in the guest room or the soaking whirlpool tub in the guest bathroom; and it’s definitely not the hot tub on the back deck.
It’s that my dog Starla isn’t invited to Thanksgiving.
She was invited to the old house for Thanksgiving, but the new house is somehow more special to my father and therefore less dog-friendly in his misguided mind.
Frankly, I don’t get it. Starla isn’t less well behaved since he and Mom moved to the new house. My eight and five-year-old nieces are invited to Thanksgiving and they behave much worse than my dog. They won’t even sit on command!
Now that we’ve reached that special time of year when we join together around the table and celebrate the things that are most dear to our hearts, my father wants to ban his granddog in favor of celebrating the sanctity of a pet-hair-free home.
I missed Thanksgiving with my family last year because we went to my sister-in-law’s house three hours away. This year, I hope to visit both places, so I spent four days plotting a detailed travel schedule so we can visit my mother’s and my sister-in-law’s for an excursion of culinary delight and gastronomic feats of daring.
Why have just one Thanksgiving when you can have two? Yet my father and his silly no Starla rule stands in my way.
Naturally, I designed a strategic offense system to counteract my father’s decree so I can take my dog to Thanksgiving. I call it, M.O.M: Mother in Opposition to dad’s duMb idea.
Mom takes a different view of the new house. She doesn’t want the dog there either, but she does want her oldest daughter there for the first Thanksgiving feast in the new digs. (She likes cooking for some mad reason.)
Shamelessly, I suggested that if Starla can’t attend the festivities, (alas!) we won’t be able to either. Pet sitters are expensive. I should know I was one for fourteen years. Times are tough. I need a new car. The holidays are coming. All our money is tied up in oil subsidies (read: we need gas for the trip), etc. etc.
Golly, Mom. I’d hate to miss it, but….
I’m still waiting for an answer, but my Mom system is deployed. It’s tricky to get around Dad, but if anyone can do it, she’s the woman for the job.
With a strategy like mine, perhaps Starla will get her slice of turkey after all.
Since writing this post, we learned that Starla has earned an invitation to the new house, with some stipulations. Expect a future post about that. There’s no way this is going to go smoothly.
My husband Brian returned home from work to find me sitting on the living room floor. I was surrounded by sticky notes, a calendar, and a white board on which I’d tried to draw a flow chart.
“What are you doing?” He bent down to remove a sticky note from my forehead.
I didn’t answer and instead, focused on the note. “There it is,” I exclaimed with relief. I added it to the collection on my left thigh.
“I’m planning our holiday schedule,” I answered.
I pawed through the pile of sticky notes on the corner of the white board. I found a blue one and tugged. I passed it to Brian.
“Here are the dates you need to take off from work if my travel plans are going to work.” I laughed and pretended that using the word work twice in the same sentence was a clever pun.
He ignored me and looked at the note. “This is a grocery list,” he said.
I snatched the note away and rummaged through the sticky notes on the arm of the couch.
“Here it is,” I exclaimed in triumph. I passed him the correct note.
He glanced at the schedule. “I can probably get these days off,” he said, “but is that going to be enough time?”
“Since you started a new job just a few months ago,” I said, “I thought we shouldn’t plan on taking too many days off. I think I’ve figured out how we can see everyone during the holidays and minimize our time away from work.”
“Ok,” he said slowly. Plainly, he doubted my flow chart and sticky note collection.
“I’ll show you,” I said. “If we both work the day before Thanksgiving, we can hurry home in time to pack for me, you and the dog. The three of us will depart our house by 7:00 that evening and make the two and a half hour drive to my mother’s. We’ll arrive at her house by 9:30 which gives us time to drink a glass of wine before bedtime at 10:00 — I’ll need my rest after that crazy day. Then, we spend Thanksgiving morning at Mom’s, eat lunch, depart by 12:30 and make the three hour drive to your sister’s where they will just be putting a late lunch on the table. We can fill ourselves with stuffing, and, again, a glass of wine and be in bed by 6:00 pm so we can get up at 3:00 am and drive home in time to work on Black Friday, because I am not going shopping in that crazy mess!”
“What about Christmas,” he asked innocently.
I led him to the office where the walls, the computer desk and the lamp were covered in sticky notes.
“Christmas is tricky,” I said.
“Clearly,” he replied.
I replied wryly, “The biggest irony about the holidays is that they’re supposed to be a vacation from work, yet they create so much more.”
There’s a litmus test for adulthood. Does the phrase, “I just purchased a new mattress,” make you weep with boredom or squeal like a five-year-old girl at a princess-themed birthday party?
If you said the latter, congratulations! You’re an adult!
My husband Brian and I joined the ranks of adulthood last Thursday when we purchased a new mattress. It started, as it so often does in our house, with sarcasm.
We live in Greenville, South Carolina, and in Greenville, there is a road whose name is synonymous with hell: Woodruff. On Woodruff, traffic patterns frequently resemble a mall parking lot on Black Friday. Locals try to avoid it, but it’s impossible. If you want to buy anything in town, you sit in Woodruff traffic with the rest of the herd and wait your turn. Your long, slow, miserable turn.
To combat locals avoiding their stores, a particular mattress chain has opened two separate locations approximately a quarter of a mile from each other on opposite sides of Woodruff.
That is not embellishment to make a good story. They really are about a fourth of a mile apart.
Brian and I derive hours of amusement from this. How many mattress stores does one town need? Are hoards of you storming mattress stores demanding a new one each week? Is the nation on the brink of a catastrophic mattress shortage?
Imagine our delight when we discovered last week (as we sat in traffic on Woodruff road) that the same mattress chain has a third store roughly a mile from the other two!
The universe had just handed us at least fifteen minutes of scathing entertainment.
We warmed up a few of our typical mattress store jabs, but abruptly shut up. On the sign, below the name of the store was an important word: outlet.
Brand new mattresses sold at a discount do not merit derision. They merit an afternoon of shopping.
We turned into the parking lot.
In less time than it takes to make up fresh jokes about mattress stores, we purchased a new mattress, box springs, two top-of-the-line pillows and arranged for delivery.
There is no better way to shut up a smart ass than to show them what they are missing.
Our new mattress was delivered that afternoon. I lasted an hour before I decided that I should “try it out.” Within minutes, Brian joined me.
It was four in the afternoon and we were already in bed. It’s where we would stay until the following morning.
Some people say getting old is hard. I say it’s not nearly as hard when you’re lounging on a soft, new mattress and willing to forgo sarcasm in the interest of a good night’s sleep.
After all, a good night’s rest makes sitting in traffic a lot easier.
I woke to the news no parent wants to hear: my child was sick.
By child, I mean cat, and by sick, I mean he was sneezing. (I don’t have human children. My “kids” all have four legs.)
No one wants to take their kid to the doctor, but cat owners really, really, really don’t want to take their “kids” to the doctor. Human children will voluntarily sit in a car seat. Feline children have to ride in a carrier.
Cats like carriers only slightly less than they like baths, which is to say, they’ll happily tear your eyeballs out for subjecting them to either.
I watched my cat Seti warily, hoping that I was mistaken. Hoping I wouldn’t have to put him in a carrier and drive him to the vet.
He sneezed and I swore.
Wrangling a cat in a carrier requires cunning, stealth and liberal use of invective. I secreted the carrier into a bedroom and waited for the perfect moment.
When he strolled unsuspectingly into the room with the carrier, I sped after him and slammed the door! He was trapped!
That was the easy part. Now, all I had to do was put him in the carrier.
I eased into the room and advanced slowly toward Seti. Just as I reached for him, he darted left and easily evaded my hands. I spun to follow and tripped.
He hid and I swore again. I had a bruised knee.
Luckily, there were few places he could hide. He wiggled under a chair. A few moments and curse words later, I’d detached his claws from the rug and removed him from his hideaway.
With soothing words, I tried to slide him into the carrier. He planted all four paws on the edge of the door and refused to go in. I pressed and he pressed back harder.
Frustrated, I tried again.
This time, Seti fought back. He launched his nine pound self into flight mode. His paws flailed and claws whirled near my face, threatening to slice off an ear. He shredded the skin on my hands.
Holding onto him was like trying to hold onto an angry cheese grater.
My hands were bleeding on both of us, but I’m a good cat mom. I persevered.
I quickly tipped the carrier on its end, turned him around and slid him in butt first. I shut the door and rushed him to the vet, hoping all the blood was mine and none was his.
Two hundred dollars later, the vet assured me that Seti was fine. He was just having a mild reaction to the fall pollens.
The vet offered to write Seti a prescription for Valium explaining that it would make bringing him in easier in the future.
I agreed and filled the prescription. I limped home and smiled. The next time I have to take Seti to the vet, I’m using the Valium on myself!
I live in a haunted house.
How else do you explain the strange sounds we hear, sounds that aren’t caused by us, our pets or even our pipes?
It must be a ghost, though I admit, it’s a particularly unimaginative and repetitive one. Perhaps I should explain.
My husband Brian and I moved into a rental house earlier this year. We’re still relatively new to the city in which we live, and we weren’t ready to commit to a permanent location, which is probably for the best since we ended up in a haunted house.
The only thing worse than renting a haunted house is owning one. At least when our lease ends we can pack up and leave the noisy ghost and inadequate closet space to the next tenants.
We first heard the ghost shortly after we moved in. It made a terrible knocking sound. The banging was so loud and so sudden that Brian, the dog Starla and I all leapt to our feet (or paws).
We could not tell where in the house the noise was coming from. We each went a different direction to seek the source.
Brian thought it was coming from a (tiny) closet near the back of the house. Starla was sure she heard it in the hallway. I was convinced it was coming from my office, where the knocking was so hard I could feel it shake the floor under my feet.
As suddenly as it started, it stopped, but only temporarily.
Since we moved in six months ago, we’ve heard it at all hours of the day and never with any explanation. It happened even when no water was running so we doubted it was the pipes. Extensive searches under the house and in the attic revealed no critters that could be causing the noise.
Try though we may, none of us could discover the cause of the banging, until this morning.
While working in my office, I heard the sound again. At the same time I heard the sound, I happened to glance out of the window over my desk. From this window, I can see the power line that connects our house to the main power line that runs along the road.
There, scampering down the line was a fat, gray squirrel. As the plump rodent ran across the cable, the wire shook, and as the wire shook, it banged against the side of the house though not loudly enough to cause the sound I was hearing.
In my office sits my grandmother’s piano. As the line banged against the side of the house, the upright piano amplified the sound, and what should have been a harmless thump became a perfection of percussion and vibrated my whole office in concert with the footfalls of a squirrel.
The wire banged against the house, the piano amplified the sound and I heard the banging noise as suddenly and as loudly as always.
Turns out my house isn’t haunted just bedecked with tree rats. Yet when our lease is up, I’ll still be delighted to leave the tiny closets to the next tenants.
Whoever first groaned the sarcastic phrase, “Everybody’s a comedian” was talking about my family.
Other peoples’ childhoods are marked by such milestones as lost teeth and the first day of kindergarten.
Mine was marked by comedic events like the first time I bested Dad in a game of war with wrapping paper tubes, or the time Mom pegged me with a vicious zinger about my broom and how I should be riding it.
I stared at my mother with a mixture of shock and newfound respect when she delivered that nugget. She had recently begun teaching middle school. Her kids must have been rubbing off on her.
“Nice one, Mom,” I congratulated her.
“You had it coming,” she said.
We first realized that this tendency to playfully assault one another had gone too far when we even the cat got in on the action.
Friday the 13th was my longhaired, black cat who never met mischief he wasn’t interested in pursuing further. He was something of an evil genius with a playful streak. He taught himself to open doors. He used the Christmas tree as his personal fort, and stashed stolen gingersnaps behind it. When feeling especially naughty, he would fling himself out of hiding places and terrify unsuspecting members of the household.
He thought he was much funnier than he actually was. (It’s a family curse.)
The only person in the house who could make him behave was my father.
At dinnertime, we would gather around the table and eat together as a family. Friday, who was much too interested in our meal, had his own chair, but to his annoyance, it was across the room. We didn’t allow him to come any closer to the table than that when we were eating.
However, the moment my father left the room, Friday would creep onto an empty chair with table front seating and try to steal food.
On one such occasion, Friday snuck onto an empty chair next to Mom, whom he perceived as the weakest link at the table. He sat there looking smug, as if he’d done something brilliant. He glowed with a pride that verged on the unholy.
When I started to correct him, Mom pressed her index finger to her lips and smirked. Very slowly and so gently that Friday didn’t know what was happening, Mom slid his chair flush to the table.
Friday was too busy smirking to realize that the curved back of the chair and the straight side of the table neatly trapped his head. It was a sort of feline stocks.
Mom tickled his paw with her finger. Friday tried to lower his head, but couldn’t. He panicked and being a family full of practical jokesters, we thought his predicament hysterical. We howled with laughter.
All smugness fled from my cat’s expression. He glared at us furiously. Friday preferred to play the joke instead of be the butt of it. He freed himself and sulked down the hall. He wouldn’t speak to us for the rest of the evening.
“Nice one, Mom,” I congratulated her.
“He had it coming,” she said.
He did, and Mom did a fair imitation of Friday’s smirk.
New research suggests it’s unhealthy for humans to work from October to December.
A recent study released by the Blithe Institute of Things I See With My Own Eyeballs, says that coworkers are most likely to try to kill you during the last three months of the year.
Beginning mid-October, your office break room will slowly fill with poison that will increase throughout the month and won’t dissipate until January.
It will begin subtly, with small, brightly colored sugary bits tossed casually on the break table; and will escalate to masses of teeth rotting, diabetes inducing, rear end expanding, pumpkin loads of Halloween candy that your coworkers pray you’ll eat before they do.
Your bathroom scale will tremble with fear. And there’s two more months of junk food to come.
November brings a month of baked goods. The cookies! The pies! The cakes! The interoffice memo will sweetly entice you to visit the break room to sample your share of the “goodies.”
Pumpkin spiced lattes topped with whipped cream drenched in caramel glaze will cement the deal! Bob from accounting makes a daily coffee run so you never have to be without! The sugar poison mingles with caffeine and courses freely through your veins!
By Turkey Day, your waistline is equipped to defy your most expansive pair of sweat pants! The only perspiration that will happen in these babies is when you spend ten minutes trying to wriggle off the couch!
If you burn a few calories snagging the perfect toaster on Black Friday, don’t sweat it! You’ll pack the pounds back on during Cyber Monday as you eat your leftover stuffing and your coworker’s leftover apple pie.
And December! December is the most fatal month of them all! It’s the time of year your coworker who hasn’t used an oven since 1982, decides to bake for the whole staff! The few of you who haven’t succumbed to the poisoning thus far are doomed.
Here come more cookies! Here come more pies! Here come more cakes! There’s peppermint bark, candy canes and chocolate Santa’s! The fat guy himself will spy you and snigger. Neither of you are fitting down the chimney this year!
So prepare yourself! It’s a deadly eating game, and only the strongest will still fit in their clothes come January!