Category Archives: Humor

My Cat is Cheating on Me

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I have only myself to blame, really. Tucker, the black and white cat I picked up at the Humane Society in a moment of animal weakness a year ago, has been cheating on us. I had thought he was just catting about. I assumed he was hunting the neighborhood for mice, a cat on the prowl, a man about town. I worried, sometimes, when he didn’t come home after

Injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime

dark. Our closest neighbor feeds the raccoons and keeps his own cat, Weed, in the house. But Tucker always made it home in the morning. I figured he expertly kept his distance from the raccoons and eagles, scurrying beneath the rose bushes and rhododendrons. I assumed he made a bed of dried ferns, piling up last year’s dead leaves, sleeping soundly in his little cat nest.

Sometimes he would come home only to be fed, meowing at the back door moments after he’d finished his Fancy Feast Savory Classic Salmon. This should have been a sign. I should have paid more attention. But I trusted him. I thought he just wanted to go out and play. I assumed he loved our family, imagining that even though it had been I that pointed to his little checkered face behind the bars, telling the overwhelmed Humane Society employee that I wanted that one and no other, that somehow Tucker had chosen me. That he wanted to be with our family above all others. That he would never want to live with another family.

I was wrong. I realize that now.

Our neighbors two doors down also have a cat–a short haired female with yellow eyes named Sophie. Sometimes, when I called Tucker, shaking dried food in his metal bowl (a last ditch effort I’d begun to use more and more) he’d come running from Sophie’s direction. A mere infatuation, I figured. A summer fling. It was Sophie, not her family of humans, that held his attention, I convinced myself.

After all, Sophie was a member of his own species. And so what if they touched noses in the lush grass in front of her human’s house? It wasn’t like he’d taken a liking to her humans?

Tucker has gained weight. I can’t deny it any longer. Even though I have carefully measured his food, following the Vet’s guidelines of “one mouse-sized portion” in the morning and one at night, no longer letting the fiend self-feed like the heady days of last summer, still he packed on the pounds. And still, it never dawned on me. Not once did I assume the worst. Not once did I admit the obvious: someone else, some other family, was feeding my cat.

So Saturday, sitting on the dock, with Tucker asleep under the lawn chair, we watched Sophie’s family get on their boat. Anyone living on the lake feels the end is nigh. Any sunny afternoon could be the last chance to take a cruise around the bay. People will start pulling their boats out of the water for the winter any day now.

Et tu, Brute?

We waved at our neighbors, talking about the weather and the kids’ first week of school, and the imminent change towards colder days. Their boat drifted towards us as we talked. One of the kids noticed Tucker, his eyes bulged open and he blurted out, “Your cat! Is the checkered cat your cat?”

I smiled and told them yes, figuring they must have seen Tucker courting their Sophie in the grass. Boys will be boys, after all. I shook my head and crossed my arms. Those darn cats.

Our neighbors all begin speaking at once. My eyes widened. Had I heard them right? They had assumed he was a stray. He came in their house? Like he was the King of the castle? The boys fed him saucers of milk? Something inside me just stopped. A ringing in my ears blotted out other sounds. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and yet there was no denying it. The evidence was all there. I smiled automatically as our neighbors took off; I think I waved before turning back to the cat.

He yawned and stretched his paw out at my foot, claiming me as his own. I shook him off. He wasn’t fooling me. I wasn’t born yesterday. No sirree. One part of me wanted to shoo him away. To tell him to go find Weed or Sophie or that dried leaf kitty nest I’d once imagined he frequented. Obviously he didn’t need me. He didn’t need us. All those mornings we’d spent together–me at my computer, him trying to sleep on my keyboard. I’d thought we had shared something. I thought what we had was special. But apparently not. Apparently what we had could be gotten anywhere. If I hadn’t plucked him from behind those kitty bars at the pound, he wouldn’t have been euthanized. Some other family would have chosen him.

But another part of me, that romantic side–the soft (call it feminine) part of myself that cries at Coke commercials and Obama speeches–wanted to believe in what we had. That part of me wanted to pick him up and hold him tight. To open a can of tuna and pour the entire contents in his bowl. To pour him saucer after saucer of milk warmed just enough to satisfy the deepest, most primal thirst for domestic kitty love on the planet.

Tucker looked up at me and meowed. Reading my thoughts no doubt. He jumped into my lap and purred. My heart melted a little. He pressed his head into my palm so I had to pet him. He started to drool, pieces of fur came loose and floated away on the breeze. He had cheated, and I would forgive him. The heart is a lonely place, sometimes.

8 Ways to Unplug Everyday

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Sometimes its best to enjoy nature with a friend.

Last week I questioned whether it was even possible anymore to unplug ourselves from the great Cosmic Technology outlet. The responses were interesting.

One of my FB friends simply responded with NO. It isn’t possible for him, apparently.

Another offered up a thoughtful response. But the irony was not lost on me when that same friend retweeted my post. On Twitter. On the Internet. Probably from her computer. Or maybe from her phone, which is probably worse. It is getting hard to get away from all this technology that was supposed to make our lives easier, proving more time for leisure and recreation. For some its nearly impossible.

My step-daughter recently posed a question to me. Would I rather lose my foot or lose the Internet for everyone. Before she asked me the question she told me she thought she knew my response. So before I answered I asked her what she thought I’d say. She figured I’d go for the lost foot. I explained that the Internet is not actually a necessity–like food and water. Or even an almost necessity, like walking.

She begged to differ. She reminded me of the parameters of her proposal. I could save the Internet, nay THE WORLD, by just giving up my foot. I could even wait until I was OLD to lose my foot.

“Do you mean when I’m 90 or do you mean next year?” I asked. It’s important to clarify when engaging in hypotheticals. Especially with a 10 year old. She said I could wait until I was 90 to lose my foot and save the world.

I stuck with my original answer–no way in Hell would I give up my foot for the freaking Internet. She was shocked. She reminded me that her entire life had been shaped by the Internet. I groaned. We are going to have to spend some serious time outside this summer. Without our phones. Without our iPads. Without our earbuds. This is getting serious.

So, I want to offer some tips of getting unplugged. It’s too hard to go cold turkey these days.

  1. Set your email to vacation mode, even if you aren’t going on vacation. No one will know.
  2. Go out on an errand and leave your phone at home.
  3. Do not look at Facebook today. Resist the urge to post a photo of that man walking down the street in the superhero costume. Just take a mental snapshot and tell a real-life friend about it in person. Perhaps in a coffee shop. Use your hands to gesticulate. Talk in a loud voice. Call attention to yourself. You’ll be better off for it and you might actually have others genuinely interested in your story.
  4. Take your old-school camera for a walk in nature. Notice the dew on flower petals; pay attention to the quality of the light; listen to the birds or other creatures. Take at least twenty pictures, ones that require you to focus and pay attention. Do NOT hold the camera away from your face and take a picture of yourself for your Facebook profile.
  5. Pet your cat without your video camera at the ready. Yes your cat might do something incredibly strange and worthy of the world’s best cat video. But chances are you won’t get 3 million views on your youtube account anyways. And really, who cares? The point of having a pet is that they need/love you even when you’re being weird.
  6. Go outside. Go to the mountains, the rivers, the beach. Find your happy place and resist the urge to share it on social media. Just be there. Absorb it rather than being a conduit for the virtual world. Better yet, bring along a friend/loved one/total stranger to share the experience.
  7. Try a new sport. Of course I have to mention skiing here, the ultimate HOLY COW I BETTER PAY ATTENTION sport. But there’s also surfing and kayaking and pinochle.
  8. Take up a new hobby that requires all your attention. Think birdwatching or knitting or roller derby, anything that occupies your entire mind. The trick is to come up with NEW hobbies every once in a while. Or take your old hobby and push yourself a little. Get out of the HO HUM and into the HOLY CRAP, I REALLY HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION phase every once in a while. I suggest something challenging. Like slack lining. Or Karaoke.

Bonus*** Now its your turn. How do YOU unplug? (I do see the irony in commenting on a post–on your computer, on the Internet–about ways to get away from your computer and the Internet.) Just promise that as soon as you share your ideas you will then turn off and unplug, even for a few minutes today. After you share this post on all your social media outlets, of course.

Why Misheard Lyrics are Good for You

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Tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Misheard lyrics are high on my awesome-o-meter. This is especially true when other people mishear lyrics, and I catch them doing it. But it is equally awesome when I finally realize the real words to a song. You mean, it’s not Stairway to Kevin’s? Why didn’t someone tell me that earlier? That makes so much more sense now.

I also love the humanity of misheard lyrics. We’ve all had the words wrong to a song before. Even those of us that memorized the lyrics from the album jacket of every new record we bought from Tower Records. One song always slips through, taunting us with a jumbled verse that we usually mumble along with while driving in the car. Then someone hears you and opens their eyes wide in astonishment. “Did you just say, ‘Let’s pee in the corner, let’s pee in the spotlight’?”

That’s when you laugh nervously. “No.” Then after a moment you shrug and ask, “what the hell are the real words anyways?”

I have a new iPhone 4S, and Siri and I are getting acquainted. I’m learning to ask her for what I want, which isn’t easy for me, even when I’m talking to a phone-bot. Caught in traffic on 405 the other day, I thought I’d give Siri something to do. She seems to like little tasks. So I asked her, “Why am I stuck in traffic?”

She thought I said, “Why am I stuck entropic?” To which she answered, “This is about you not me.” Which is probably true, and when you think about it a pretty existential question to be asking while stuck in traffic. Siri probably thinks I’m really smart. Maybe a little too smart.

But it got me thinking about misheard lyrics for some reason, because let’s face it. I’d rather consider “kissing this guy” than my own state of entropy. Of course, “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy”, is one of the better and most often quoted misheard lyric around. Here are a few others:

  • “Catch that bus baby, we were born to run”
  • “Wrapped up like a douche, another rinny ninny night”
  • “People are strange, women are stranger”
  • “See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen”
  • “There’s a bathroom on the right”
  • “You might as well face it, you’re a dickhead in love”
  • “If you change your mind Jackie Chan, I’m the first in line Jackie Chan”
  • “West Virginia, mount your mama”

It’s not just me is it? I’m not the only one that belts out misheard lyrics with great aplomb am I? My grandmother used to say that if you don’t know the answer to a question just make something up and “say it with much aplomb.” I totally live by this advice. I’m always offering up random bits of information that may or may not be correct, such as how to clean a chandelier with a q-tip and Witch Hazel or why that joint pain means you need to get more sun or how the phases of the moon are all backwards. Don’t bother looking these things up. Just trust me on this one.

Extra points for anyone who knows the real words to these songs or has more awesome misheard lyrics to share. And Siri? I’ve been thinking about my state of entropy, especially my lack of creativity lately and have decided that what I really need is a good personal assistant. But that’s more about you than me, now isn’t it.

You Might as Well Round Up

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photo by Lonnie Ball

I was at the doctor’s office last week, getting an MRI on my thumb. I had surgery last week–total tear of the thumb joint and just in case I need to thumb a ride, I’ll need that joint. As it turns out, there’s a bunch of activities that the lack of a thumb make difficult. Typing without adding superfluous spaces is one of them. Buttoning jeans, braiding hair, tying a knot, opening wine bottles, cutting apples into slices, and removing earrings for MRIs among them.

The form asked for height and weight. I’m 6’0″. The nurse checked my chart and scanned her eyes over me. 6 feet tall? she asked.

Yep. I smiled.

Really?

Yep.

She pinched her eyes together.

A few minutes later, I lay in the tomb-like machine, listening to the what sounded like a jet engine breaking apart and thought of the nurse’s question. Well, I’m almost 6 feet tall. More like 5’11 and three quarters. But you might as well round up. You have to round one way or the other, so why not up?

It’s kind of a glass half-full or half-empty kind of thing really. I’ve spent far to much energy explaining away my advantages. Sometimes people just want an easy answer. “Where do you live,” they ask. Usually I’ll say, “Crystal.” Or I might add, “in the winter.” Or sometimes I say we live, “in town in the summer and in the mountains in the winter.” That’s when people’s eyes glaze over because really they’re just trying to make conversation.

It’s almost as if I’m trying to downplay my life. Like I’m trying to short myself a few inches. But I don’t want to brag. I don’t always want to tell people that I live on the shores of Lake Washington when it’s sunny and warm and at the base of Crystal Mountain when it’s snowy and cold. I don’t want to see that look of doubt mixed with envy–eyes squinched up, lips pursed.

Because I’ve also lived out of the back of my truck on a food budget of $20 a week. It was easier to round up then because I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. Now I find myself rounding down because I don’t want anyone to envy me.

I’m not really sure where this blog post is going. My thumb keeps hitting the space bar, causing an overabundance of backspacing, which makes my mind wander. I guess my point is that I’m going to keep rounding up because you never know. Life is short and very precious.

And I really am 6 feet tall.

Is Kindness the Next Big Thing?

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I know this post really has nothing to do with skiing, but I love this photo anyway.

Is niceness a new trend? I see those “Bark Less, Wag More” bumpers stickers all the time, and wonder if we’ve arrived at the Next Big Thing. Maybe this Niceness trend is the new Yoga–pretty soon we’ll see a whole culture wrapped up in Doing Unto Others–complete with a clothing phenomenon, local classes, gurus and retreat centers dedicated entirely to Shaping Your Kindness.

But being Nice isn’t anything new, in fact it’s campy enough and old-fashioned enough to be overlooked as the new rage. And yet it seems to be gaining ground. Last weekend, when I saw a “Hiss Less, Purr More” bumper sticker on a Subaru in C Lot at Crystal Mountain, I figured I might as well get on board.

Every decade has its desire for people to be nice. Not so long ago, it was common, and maybe a little groovy, to tell people to “Stop being so tense, Man”. When I was a teenager, we told our parents to “Just chill out,” and later to simply “Chill.” People have told to “Stay mellow,” have wondered “What would Jesus do?”, have admonished others when they didn’t “Relax,” and promised to adhere to the Golden Rule. Perhaps this is just our latest iteration.

But a fellow blogger, Lorraine Wilde, recently pointed out some new research about nice genes. According to researchers at UC Irvine and University of Buffalo, some people actually carry more receptor genes for oxytocin and vasopressin–hormones that, in a very non-scientific way of looking at it, make us nicer people. It’s fascinating research really. So, maybe kindness is hereditary, maybe the desire to make casseroles for others during tragedy actually runs in some people’s bloodstream, like vodka, only permanent.

If that’s true, then maybe this is evolution. Perhaps the universe is telling us that kindness is the present-day equivalent of strength. Being nice to others (in person, not just on Facebook) is going to be the new measure of character. I can just see the line of clothes that will accompany this new trend. Shirts will have extra pockets to carry Kleenex packets, and Tupperware is going to come out with a whole new line of containers–ones big enough to carry an entire lasagna that can be left in the freezer, defrosted and baked all in the same pan, then recycled!

Kindness might even be a new resume builder. Young people are going to start calling on their elders, checking in at nursing homes and engaging in card games like bridge and gin rummy just to score points for their Ivy League Applications. Maybe teenagers should start logging in those hours now, because those College Counselors are pretty strict when it comes to fact checking.

I suppose we should all embrace this new evolution of our species. Niceness is in. And if you don’t have the genes, you might want to start thinking of ways to fit into this new phenomenon. It isn’t that painful, really. Just reach out and “touch someone” as they say.

Skier’s Thumb: The world’s most common ski injury?

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Corinne taught me how to ski with an injured hand, and how to be nice to people when they offer stupid advice.

According to everyone I talked to during aprés ski hour on the patio yesterday, Skier’s Thumb is the world’s most common ski injury. Skier’s Thumb is when you fall onto your outstretched hand and forget to let go of your ski pole. It’s when you shake yourself off as your brother-in-law gathers your fallen equipment from the slope above you and you think to yourself, “Whoa. That hurt. But I’m okay. I think everything’s okay. No broken bones. Oh, but my thumb hurts like Hell,” and you shake it a few times Grease Lightning style, hoping no one sees those tears behind your goggle lenses. But then you take off your glove and realize that the thumb joint is unstable and you ask yourself, “Do I even use this thumb?” and for an hour you actually convince yourself that thumbs are totally overrated.

If Skier’s Thumb is the world’s most common ski injury then I guess I’m doing pretty good. I made it almost 40 years of skiing before I finally did it to myself. Last Friday, I was skiing Middle Ferk’s with John, Scott and my brother-in-law Steve, and I fell hard. But I’m a tough gal and I laughed it off–even after I noticed that I couldn’t touch my thumb to my forefinger without sending spikes of hot iron down my wrist into my arm. A little thumb jam wasn’t going to keep me from a day of skiing, even if I did have to just hold my right pole under my arm like a purse.

In fact I was reminded of skiing with my friend Corinne in Verbier. She was recovering from a broken hand and skiing without ski poles. I told her to just, “pretend like you had poles” and she kindly told me that my “sage” advice truly helped her. She’s a very kind person.

After an x-ray and an MRI and an exam from the world’s best hand surgeon, I’ve been diagnosed with a full ligament tear, aka skier’s thumb aka gamekeeper’s thumb. So tomorrow I have surgery and will be on pain meds for a few days, so I can’t entirely take responsibility for anything that I post between now and say Friday. I might not post anything, or it could be drunken ramblings or could even be poetic, semi-lucid truisms. Probably not, but you never know. One can always hope.

Fortunately I have the world’s best mom and she promised to come over and help me button my pants and dry my hair for the next few days. Not that my husband couldn’t do all that, but he doesn’t have much practice in hair drying, nor can he manage those tiny hair bungees to tie my locks back into a ponytail.

National High-Five Day: Give me some skin

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Reach out and high-five someone

Today is National High-Five Day. That means you can run around the office/house/ski hill and randomly offer/ask for high-fives. It means that if someone else wants to demonstrate enthusiasm, you must return some skin. High-fives are free, they’re fun and they make both parties feel good. There’s nothing quite like connecting a good high-five, where the sting lasts in your palm for a few moments and you share a real, live, in-the-flesh moment with another person.

Find a reason to celebrate your enthusiasm today. Far too often we hide our excitement, preferring to “play it cool”. But time has a way of wearing heavy after a while, and a good high-five lets you shed the weight of past failures, old regrets and all those piggly little disappointments. A good high-five is the ultimate way of being in the moment. Just think how centered a day of high-fives will make you feel. You might even be able to skip that yoga session today. And who needs vegetables to make them feel good when a quick skin-slap or two will do the trick?

There’s just one rule: never, ever leave someone hanging. So if someone comes running at you today with their open palm over their head, they aren’t going to hurt you. They just need five.

Check out this awesome High-Five rap. Just see if this song doesn’t get lodged in your enthusiastic brain today.