Friday, February 9, 2018

The Squawk and the Stink Eye

"My what shiny teeth you have?"

The dictionary defines “polyamory” as the practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time. If only my life were that simple.

When my daughter Lucia left home, she forgot to take the bird. Blue-headed, green-feathered and red-rumped, Vivi didn’t understand why she couldn’t follow her love to college. Scheduling was the issue. Vivi was awake during the day when student sleeping-through-class happened and nodding off when college partying-while-studying began. Besides there was the risk of her being the central character in the bird-in-the-microwave prank we’d been seeing on social media. I tried to fill the void by spending time teaching Vivi tricks, rewarding her with treats and eventually she bonded with me and showered me with the classic bird love gesture: regurgitation.

Our nest felt empty, so my husband Stephen and I filled it with ballroom dance lessons. The dining room/cage room was the only place with hardwood floors where our dance shoes would slide. We’d get in position, turn on the music and sway: Step – step, back step; step – step, back step; step – step.


And cue regurgitation.

Kissing Stephen was considered as dance-like and had to take place on the sly; ducking around corners or covering the bird cage. Otherwise, we would risk a warning growl from 350 grams of furious parrot. I enjoyed the secrecy.

At some point I got talked into adding to our ménage à trois with a rescue lab we named Coltrane. He would look directly into Vivi’s cage and the battle line was drawn. During quiet times, Coltrane would slink away from us and tip-toe under the cage to fill up his stomach with her detritus of discarded fruit and she would give him the stink eye. 

Coltrane loved me best – at least when Stephen was not around. The dog preyed upon my divided loyalties; he would bring me his ball, his head cocked just as I was entering the cage room for parrot play. Vivi noticed.

We continued to live in denial of my divided loyalties with a morning ritual that looked like détente. Coltrane would enter his kennel and stay while I sprang Vivi from her night covering for breakfast al fresco. I would occasionally forget some necessary item and wander away into the kitchen. One morning, I had meandered by the kitchen sink when I heard a continuous SQUAWKING cacophony that sent me bounding into the pet room to see what Coltrane had finally done to Vivi.

The dog was frozen in his tracks, paw uplifted and entering the forbidden food garrison under Vivi’s cage, this time the stink eye was aimed in my direction with no requisite regurgitation of love. The spell was broken as was the détente. She may have told on him, but now I was the enemy.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sagz Jeans

Sagz Jeans


A new pairing: similar to Cabernet Sauvignon and steak, ice cream and cake, underwear and . . . jeans? So now we pick out snap-in underwear to match the derrière dragging jeans? Garanimals anyone?

How is this different from having pants that actually go up to your waist? Wasn’t the whole point for the hip hoppers (“hop hippers?”) to take a risk with their clothing? Here we have the appearance of risk without the risk. What jeopardy is there? The parent inventors have taken it away, created a safer, kinder clothing instead of letting the kids learn the hard way that if you leave your slacks low, your ass will get chapped and land you kissing the concrete.

“ . . . the pants can be snapped to the waist-hugging underwear at three different heights . . . “ Doesn’t this remind anyone of infant onesies? Or, God forbid, the crotch snapping body suits popular in the early ‘80’s? Ridiculous.

And yet, the parents; those entrepreneurs, will undoubtedly make money hand over fist or cloth over tush. Envision it now; in 50 years former hop-hippers with differently decorated Depends as an option will surf for online purchases. “A pair of Sagz jeans [currently] costs about $80, including a pair of snapped-in boxers.” I can think of better ways to spend 80 bucks but I’m sure, that in a few years, this will be just like pairing Dockers with a short sleeved, Polo shirt; well, maybe in quite a few years . . .

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Induction and Astrology

Today, My niece had her first child. The labor was induced and it got me to thinking about how the changing of a birthdate could have astrological implications. It seems to be so important to those who gaze into the meanings; the when of when you were born . . . down to the very number of seconds past 6:21 am. Or where the moon and planets were at the moment of birth etc. So what happens to astrology when someone is induced? Could we, as a society be changing the patterns of a child’s life just by speeding up the birth?

Quite often there is a good reason for the induction; usually the mother or the child’s health. (In this case.) Sometimes it is the convenience of the mother and more than I would like to think, the convenience of the doctor. (The case of my own birth . . . it didn’t work by the way; Mom held onto me for two more weeks or was it that I was stubborn? Depends on who is telling the story, I imagine.)

So, could we be changing the future of our world by inducing labor? If you believe in astrology I would say we are and I bet astrologist have conventions and a topic of one of the breakout discussions is “Induction: Changing a Life”.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today, I made Bellyache

Today, I made Bellyache; a tomato, green pepper and onion concoction that gives you exactly that. I thought I had lost the recipe and cried when I found it carefully tucked into the back of my recipe box with all the rest of her creations; I had forgotten ever putting them there. I was misty as I made it; not because of the fragrant onions but because I could envision my Mother cutting the vegetable medley on camping trips.

Low slung jeans held up by one of Pop’s belts; a Case knife in a sheath on her hip. The blue bandana covered her short cropped hair and the cigarette dangled from her mouth. Perhaps this doesn’t really describe the Mother I knew. To you she probably sounds like a hillbilly or an uneducated woman. No, here was a woman who got into Stanford; could charm heads of state, but who had married a camping country boy with opera aspirations. She chose to be good at camping specifically because it was so against type. It shocked those who knew her. She learned to play the ukulele so she could accompany Pop as he sang around the campfire some really inappropriate songs they both had learned together in college. We girls committed them to memory in one take.

She knew every flower in the forest; every tree that nature dropped in front of her. I saw her once wield a machete to cut down some brush. She could out walk any person. When I was younger I would run to get close, and then have to stop, panting to catch my breath and then off I was again running behind her. She didn’t wait for us.

Skipping gym class because of our menstrual cycles was for wussie girls. Hutchings’ girls didn’t play that card, ever. Once, in the midst of a bout of flu, I even rode a bike in the pouring rain for 65 miles because it never occurred to me to cancel. It was later in life that I learned the wisdom of choosing not to pursue a thing; you just had to hope you made the right decision.

One year ago today, I was six weeks post knee replacement. Up in my ever narrowing recovery room, the phone rang. My sisters and Mother were on the other end of the phone line, singing as only the Hutchings’ can do, a little ditty called, “Happy UN-birthday to you!” to a familiar tune. You see a Christmas Eve birthday affords me some advantages and one of them was an UN-birthday six months from the actual date of birth. As I listen to every word, cracked note and inflection; I am torn between wanting to experience the moment and wishing I had let it go to voicemail. Voicemail would have left me a recording for posterity. This was to be my last conversation with Mom. She passed away two days later with all her children nearby.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Free Flight, But For Whom?

From the corner of my eye I take in a grey brown blur but I keep my eyes on the road; then the flight erupts right in front of me. I stomp on the brakes and narrowly avoid impact. There is nothing idyllic about this flight. Nothing that makes me feel warm and fuzzy about nature. This is different, this is frantic; this is persistent. The larger brown mass is in concert with the smaller grey one. The grey swerves upward exposing a breast; a fatal move. The brown’s claws clench and the gruesome tandem again crosses my path; wings up and wings down and THUMP they hit the ground.

The small bird moves no more.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tweezer Conundrum

I can’t believe I do it. My Mother would be horrified. Yet, I am a woman of a certain age and don’t care so much what the committee of “They” thinks, says or sees: I groom errant hair when the light is good, whether I am in public or not.
The lighting in my bathroom is awful and better served by the scissors that I have stashed in the vanity. I think these scissors came from a sewing kit owned by my Grandma Pansy (yes, Pansy). These are the sharpest tiny scissors I have ever used. Some people wax; I mow the downy carpet on my chin and cheeks with Pansy scissors.
Finding good light sometimes just happens. I find some of the best in the bathroom at work . . . the overhead light seems to highlight the thicker hairs on my upper lip; so I use the tweezers in my purse. I always listen for footsteps down the hall and have narrowly skirted discovery mid-pluck on numerous occasions. Some days this is as close as I get to excitement in my middle age.
Speaking of skirts, the other day I was reaching into my car to extract my lunch box before heading into work for the day and felt those tickly hairs around my bare ankle catch a breeze! As luck would have it, my gym bag with the dull razor was also stashed in the car. I peered down and, oh my!, I must have missed those miscreants for at least a month. Yes, I looked both ways as if crossing the street, which, in a way I was (to the dark side), and did a dry shave. Much better.
Occasionally, I am surprised at how good the light will be in an unexpected place and time; out come the traveling tweezers. The most recent intersection of place and time was at a traffic light on Fifth Avenue and Arlington while driving home. The West-setting sun highlighted those bad boys perfectly. Mind you; I don’t text while I drive, but I do pluck. I mean I have to! Once you loose sight of that deviating hair, you may not find it for a month or more! By then it has become a log that even my Auntie could see . . . but apparently I cannot; not with the now omnipresent bifocals that only help with something directly in front of me.
Which reminds me . . . where are my friends who see me every day? If you are my friend, you should tell me, or better yet, just reach over with your own pair of traveling tweezers and pluck.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Cat They Call "The Dash"

The Cat They Call “The Dash”

A silly satisfied smile illuminates my face as I lay on the bed; the soft swish/thump of licorice colored fur dents my arm . . . or thigh . . . or whatever his mind-of-its-own tail can reach. Perhaps I should give Dash’s tail a name of its own too.

The name Dashiell was chosen even before Stewart came to the Animal Shelter. Stewart was going to get a cat; partially to fill a void created by an unfortunate love affair, partially because he was reminded that having a cat in a home was a good thing. Dashiell Hammett, the famous mystery writer; his name would lend dignity to the feline yet be obscure; perfect for Stewart. Dash follows Stewart around using heavy un-cat-like feet; one always knows where the cat is. A true companion, he drapes himself around his Master’s shoulders like a mink stole and watches “Book TV”. He is still; except for his question mark of a tail; like a snakes tongue, in perpetual motion. Soon Dash is joined by another kitty with lion-like coloring and ears large as a bat; Miles is his name; as in Miles Davis the trumpet genius. Yet in this cat’s case the comparison is only partially accurate; Miles is always making cat music but has no brains as evidenced by his kitten game of throwing himself down the steps like a slinky over and over. . . while Dash and Stewart watch. Dash seems to shake his head in disbelief. An easy workday routine develops amongst the bachelors . . . Stephen begins his morning oratory as the tinkle of cat claws on tile echoes through the kitchen; “Gentlemen, have a very pleasant day and don’t forget to be cats because that is your job. Dashiell, you’re the Alpha Cat; whatever you say goes. Miles, your job is to be the goof. I’ll be home later tonight . . . “

Miles may be the goof, but Dash has his own quirks. His definition of bird and Stewarts don’t jive. Stewart watches is disbelief as Dashiell walks past the open parrot cage; Vivi the Blue Headed Parrot is lunging down from her perch to get to cats-eye level. See? All the black-cat-attention is focused on the twittering finches just beyond the sliding glass door. “What things are birds and what things aren’t?” Surely, looking out on the deck, these must be birds as Dash chirps in imitation of the tiny creatures. Dashiell would never make it as an outdoor cat; his meals frightened away by the near constant vocalizations and the ever swishing tail. Finally losing interest, Dash crosses back by Vivi and barely glances at the bird within reach. “This is NOT a bird” and we are OK with that and shake our heads.

Fast forward: Stewart is married; Miles has passed on. Dash has a new daytime job; keeping me company as I heal. I’m healing from two knee replacements; and then there is the healing from the unexpected death of my Mother that has sent me into permanent orphan-hood. Sometimes, I can’t remember what joy feels like. I lie on the bed, the tears drying on my face. And then, the swish/thump of the warm cat tail against various parts of my anatomy; it lets me know that I have company. I am not alone. I smile as my Mother might have at the serendipitous pleasure of a quiet afternoon with a cat.

Have you had a special connection with a beloved pet who helped you through a rough time?