Friday, June 27, 2008

It's a Bird. It's a Plane. Uh oh, It's

Truffle has given up her litter box for a Lenten season that never ends. She displays a distinct preference for peeing and pooping on Persian rugs under furniture, probably because she can no longer get into closets due to a lack of thumbs. All our closets are firmly closed with "No cats allowed" signs at her eye level and Flip's. (I do not need reminding because it was my shoes that had to be thrown out.)

Her um, "thinking" outside the box prompted us to take her to the animal hospital in the first place, setting off a course of treatment involving three different antibiotics for a UTI which a urine culture eventually proved nonexistent, plus a smorgasbord of procedures concocted by six vets in as many visits.

I have discontinued the daily subcutaneous fluid injections which I deem extreme measures, and now believe that we are dealing with simple raging senility.

I just spent several hours scouring the bathroom floor and the litter box and have bleeding raw hands to prove it. I installed fresh litter, removed the privacy lid as it might be difficult for her to climb in and out at her age and discarded the two mats that had developed a tendency to collect rank-smelling liquids.

I then carried Truffle into the bathroom and chirping encouragement, placed her tenderly in the box exactly like a lady-in-waiting setting the Queen on her throne. I didn't have to wait long.

She gazed at me blankly, stepped out of the box and went back to bed. It was clearly a case of "I say it's spinach and I say the hell with it."

Like Superman, she leaped onto the bed in a single bound and immediately fell asleep from her exertions.

Now I'm going to leave for several hours in the hope that Truffle will find Jesus (and make an Immaculate Exception) while I'm gone.

I don't ask much, but it would mean a lot to me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Woke Up This Morning

Flip is wearing sunglasses to do the dishes.

I said, "Do we have a blind musician thing going on here?" Blues musicians nearly always sport a disability as part of their names, and sometimes a piece of fruit, too: Blind Flip Parker, Lame Melon Parker, Crippled Lemon Parker, Blind Little Crippled Lame Lime Flip Parker...

"No, it's a cool thing," he said. "For someone who lived in Greenwich Village in its heyday, you are not cool."

"Why am I not cool? Because I don't wear sunglasses indoors?"

"You just don't understand," he said. "I understand. And I'm not even from New York. Such a waste."

He poured some more Ivory liquid into the sink.

I resisted the urge to tell him he looked very cool washing dishes. Like the Grand Opening of a 99 Cent Store. Or a Rolls Royce hood ornament hanging over the bed like a statue of Jesus on the cross.

I understand cool, too. I do. It's just a matter of interpretation, and dishpan hands.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Lady Named Sally

When I was about five years old, my father invited one of his clients to visit our home. My father was a criminal defense lawyer, and to this day I cannot imagine what crime she might have committed because she was a beautiful, charming, one hundred-year old lady with cumulus cloud hair and a radiant smile.

She bent down to look into my eyes and said, "Call me Sally." Then she took my hand and said, "Show me your room. Show me everything," and sprinted up the stairs, pulling me behind her.

I think at that point, the course of my life was set. I wanted to grow up to be just like Sally.

Today is my birthday. I am not 100 years old yet, but I am well on my way and with a great deal of luck I will reach Sallyhood one day. In the meantime, I remember her bright spirit and still aspire to be like her.

I never saw Sally again, but it's safe to assume that she is no longer passing out joy like lollipops to little children.

Rest in peace, Sally.

Live in peace, my friends.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Cat is Still in the Closet and Needs to Come Out

My cat, Truffle, would make a nice pelt.

We have logged six visits to the veterinary hospital in two weeks, so far. Bigtime ka-ching. Truffle has been given three different antibiotics for her UTI, none of which seem to be working. We inject subcutaneous fluids into her every day from a bag which we hang from one of Flip's boom stands so gravity will do its stuff. We have more drug paraphernalia than most junkies. The injections will continue for the rest of her life.

So far I have stabbed myself only once. I removed the needle from my finger and without thinking, inserted it into Truffle's upper back. Luckily, I have no blood diseases.

If Truffle were a dog, she would be 126 years old. I'm not sure what the ratio is for cat lives, and that's not even considering that they have nine of them.

The most recent visit was because of my concern that she wasn't eliminating wastes as the litter box was always clean. I was worried about uremic poisoning. They assured me that she would be dead if that were the case, and she isn't. Yet.

But today I discovered a whole nest of juicy little turds contained in one size 6 satin slingback evening pump. Black. Great instinct for camouflage.

I handed it carefully to Flip from inside the closet. He emptied it in the toilet and brought it back to me.

"Can you salvage it?" he asked.

It had pee stains and a very rank odor.

I hurled it in the garbage, the other one too, although it was relatively pristine.

Why tempt fate by keeping ONE shoe?

Flip: "You're her mother."

Me: "I never shat in my mother's shoes."

Flip: "Otherwise, she's a very nice kitty."


The latest antibiotic is a tiny pill. She took the first one in a "pill pocket," a soft treat which can be wrapped around medicine. Last night she also accepted her chicken a la pill, but tonight she got wise to us. She scarfed the pill pocket right down to the pill but refused to eat it. I put another one in her food, and she went on a hunger strike. So Flip held her tightly while I forced her mouth open and tried to insert the pill, just the way the online article said to do.

She peed all over both of us and our beautiful, handmade (dry-clean only) Tibetan quilt and our comforter (which I just washed a few days ago.) It was easily a gallon of saved-up cat urine.

Flip threw out our bath rug yesterday and also two new bath towels that had fallen on the floor, where Truffle christened them. That was when she still had a distant relationship with the room which housed her litter box.

Cats are mysterious. I know that inappropriate urination is caused by her UTI, but pooping in a shoe in the back of a closet took some deliberation. She is probably expressing anger at the injections, for which I can't blame her. But passive-aggressive behavior is so-o -- pussy.

"Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose."
Garrison Keillor

Monday, June 16, 2008

Here Come the Brides!

In May, the California Supreme Court ruled that state marriage laws which discriminate against gay and lesbian couples are unconstitutional. Chief Justice Ronald George wrote that the state constitution’s guarantees of personal privacy and autonomy protect "the right of an individual to establish a legally recognized family with the person of one's choice” and “properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples.”

The ruling opens the doors to same-sex marriages throughout the state of California. San Francisco anticipates couples from all over the world coming here to have their ceremonies in the historic location where the fight for equal rights began: City Hall.

Tomorrow, marriage licenses will be issued to same-sex couples. However, one special couple will be married at 5 p.m. today.

Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 83, who have been together for more than 50 years, were the first same-sex couple of thousands married in 2004, the Winter of Love. All the marriages performed at that time were later ruled invalid.

Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco and a dedicated advocate of equal marriage rights, will perform today's ceremony.

"What we want, the narrative coming out of it, is about them and what they represent - their story, their history. This is really where it all started," Newsom said of the couple.

Ms. Lyon said it was "heartwarming" that the city wants her and Ms. Martin to be the first couple to marry, but that they are just a small part of what will happen as same-sex marriage begins in California. "Hundreds of thousands of couples will be getting married this time, and that's the important thing," she said. "It's something that has been due for a long time, and thank God, it's here."

The couple met in 1950 and moved into a Castro Street apartment together on Valentine's Day 1953. Two years later, they and three other lesbian couples founded the Daughters of Bilitis, which historians call the first lesbian organization in the United States. They also published The Ladder, a monthly magazine which was influential in the LGBT rights movement. Both women were inducted into the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame.

A San Francisco medical organization founded in 1979 as a clinic for lesbians, Lyon Martin Health Services, bears their names.

Lyon said she and Martin "hoped we would see this day" of equal recognition of marriages for same-sex couples. "It means a great deal that we can get (a license) like anyone else."

Mayor Newsom said the couple provided him with much of the inspiration to order the county clerk to issue licenses to same-sex couples in 2004. "This is why I did it four years ago. It's personal as much as anything else."

They were married Feb. 12, 2004, and more than 4,000 same-sex couples flocked to San Francisco to marry before a court order ended the ceremonies on March 11 of that year.

The San Francisco City Attorney and several civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit against the state that won marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, credited Lyon and Martin's lifetimes of activism with bringing the LGBT rights movement to this point. "At a time when being openly gay cost you everything you cared about, they were. And they took risks and spoke out from the 1950s on in a way that I certainly do not believe I would have nor would most of us."

She said the couple being the first to marry "is the absolute least we can do to acknowledge how critical their legacy is to the lives of all of us."

So I asked Flip, "Would you marry me if I were a guy?"


This made me a little sad. I know that we're straight, but I have believed for a long time that love is not necessarily a matter of anatomy, and that we fall in love with a person's soul which makes everything else, including gender, secondary.

Still, it's a wonderful thing to be loved and accepted, and acknowledged by the world as a committed couple. Considering that I have never personally had to fight for that right, I am perhaps unreasonably happy that it is now available to everyone. I wonder if there's a word for reverse schadenfreude, rejoicing at another's well-deserved good fortune. If not, there really should be.

Friday, June 13, 2008

My Winning Ways

This morning I received a phone call from someone at Radio Station KPIG to inform me that I had won a t-shirt, which I could pick up at the hardware store in my neighborhood.

I vaguely remembered putting my name in a ballot box for something while buying nails, but couldn't have told you what it was.

I promised Flip that he could have the shirt since it would probably be a size Large, and I picked it up. This is what it looks like, dorsal and ventral:

I found that KPIG actually sells this "Classic Pigshirt" for $30.

"Our classic light gray Pigshirt features the " Pure Pork" logo on the back and has the 7-color Pigsticker design on the front. There's no better way to tell the world "I'm a pig- and proud of it"."

Flip suggested we give it to a homeless woman who sits on the sidewalk outside the drug store, but I thought it might hurt her feelings because well, it's a PIG.

I would have preferred to win the Lottery.

The last time I won something was in North Carolina, a long time ago.

My 13-year old daughter and I had left our Vermont home in a chartreuse Plymouth Duster that hated me, pulling a horse trailer with two ponies. Our large dog had just died but we had a gray wolf and a black cat in the car with us. My older daughter and son were in college.

I had never pulled a trailer before, but quickly figured out that backing up required turning the wheel the opposite way from what you would expect. We spent the summer driving down the East coast, "camping" in the car or under the stars after exercising the ponies. I would be surprised if my daughter has ever voluntarily gone camping to this day.

We arranged to be in Chincoteague, Virginia, for the annual pony penning made famous to three generations of children by Marguerite Henry's "Misty" books. We watched the ponies being herded across the channel, swimming from Assateague where in 1620, a Spanish galleon carrying a herd of horses was wrecked on some rocks. The horses swam ashore and have been there ever since.

Assateague also has laughing gulls, whose cry, 'Ah ha ha HAAAAA" sounds like an inebriated man laughing. I think it would be impossible to feel depressed, ever, in a place with such merry birds.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia, 23 miles of alternating tunnel and bridge, is considered one of the Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World. I have always heard that it is among the loveliest scenery in America but I barely saw it because I was catatonic nervous about taking my eyes off the road for even a second as passing semi's constantly moved our car and horse trailer over several feet.

We camped in the Ocala National Forest in Florida for two weeks through three hurricanes, taking shelter during the worst of them in the caretaker's cottage on the Bernadette Castro estate. They kindly allowed us to stable our ponies in their barn.

Eventually, we backtracked to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, where we lived until my daughter graduated from high school and left for college.

My car had died a few days after arriving, and I noticed that the local Toyota dealership was sponsoring a "Hand-a-Thon." Twenty people including me were selected to compete for a new car. We were arranged around the stripped down tan Tercel with stick shift and required to have one hand on it at all times. If we wanted to face the other way, we had to ask a judge to watch us so we would never have both hands on or off the car. There was a 5-minute Port-a-Potty break every four hours around the clock.

One by one the other people dropped out, several of them hallucinating. A factory worker raised both hands to perform his assembly line job because he was disoriented and thought he was at work. His family led him away into the night.

Five and a half days later, I was the last one standing. I had to ask someone to drive the car home for me as I was in no condition to get behind the wheel. I was cautioned not to sleep more than a few hours at a time for a week because I could go into a coma from sleep deprivation, but I was too exhausted to care.

The president of the Toyota agency told a reporter that the contests usually take only a weekend at most, but "these people down here are tough as nails." I didn't tell him that I was a New Yorker, newly relocated to his state from Vermont, because they don't cotton to Yankees. I was afraid he would take away my car.

I always knew that I would win. I surely needed a car more than anybody else in the contest, and I never considered that there could be any other outcome. Also, a psychic had told me that I would win "a house, money, or a car." He had cautioned me that I shouldn't feel as if I got something for nothing, though, because I would work for it.

He was right.

The same psychic also told me that I would die at the age I will be on my next birthday, which is this month. It's considerably younger than I've always planned on, and I have tried for many years to put it out of my mind because I know about self-fulfilling prophesies. Some of his predictions were wrong but because he was right about winning the car, I worry.

On a happier note, I would be delighted to send the pig t-shirt to anyone who would like it. Since there is only one, I propose a contest: If you are interested, write to my email address and tell me why you'd rather be a pig. The deadline is June 24th, which is also my birthday.

"Would you like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather be a pig?

A pig is an animal with dirt on his face
His shoes are a terrible disgrace
He ain't got no manners when he eats his food
He's fat and lazy and extremely rude
But if you don't care a feather or a fig
You may grow up to be a pig."

"Swingin' on a Star" lyrics by Bing Crosby

Fine Jewish Whine

Flip washed the dishes and the kitchen floor. Now he is reclining in his boxers with a beer and sighing like Atlas with the whole world on his shoulders.

(Here's what I did today: laundry, took cat to vet and learned to give subcutaneous injections with new drug paraphernalia, grocery shopped, worked in garden, rode bicycle (clothed,) cooked dinner, counseled friend with relationship problems, vacuumed, scoured bathroom, changed cat litter, read book.)

I said, "You're acting like an old Jewish lady in the Bronx, sitting at her window by a geranium plant, fanning herself with her hand and saying, 'Oy, have I got troubles.' I'm supposed to be the old Jewish lady around here."

"But I'm so good at it."

"They could all learn from you."

It's hard to understand how a WASP of the male persuasion manages to outdo a thousand centuries of Jewish persecution. He could make the Red Sea part with a few well-placed whines.

"You're stealing my culture," I told him. "Your culture is stiff upper lipdom and martinis. Tennis sweaters. Wonder bread with mayonnaise. Didn't you understand that?"

"I'll try to do better," he said.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Always Wear Your Helmet

Thirty or forty naked bicycle riders and one guy in a pink tutu pedaled by on Haight Street, many wearing body paint.

This event, one of several held around the world, was a protest against oil dependency, the war it caused, and a celebration of the human body.

I have never seen so many weenies bicycles in one place.

I hope they remembered to use sunscreen.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

There Went the Neighborhood

My next-door neighbor's apartment smells like decomposing bait.

It permeates the hallway, even though I have opened the stairwell windows, and is especially lethal right in front of her door.

I can't imagine what is going on in there. I have smelled silage, fermented fodder, which is enough to ruin ones appetite forever, but this is worse. Fish heads, dead seals on the beach, desert road kill -- these are nothing compared to the stench emanating from Robin's nest. Last year, a dead whale got beached nearby. You could smell it for miles around, long after they towed it out to sea.

Close, but not quite as bad as the toxic waste spill next door.

I fantasize about calling the police to come and break down her door. Don't they find dead bodies all the time because neighbors complained about bad smells?

This more than qualifies.

I would like to ask her about it but since we don't speak to each other, it would be difficult. Also, what could I possibly say?

"Um, excuse me, Robin, what are you cooking? The smells are ... amazing."

We are running out of Ozium. Again. I'm not sure there's enough Ozium in the world to neutralize anything this rank.

Skankblossom has now been in the apartment for exactly one year. Last week, the mail carrier asked me to place an armload of mail from her overstuffed mailbox on the stone bench in the building lobby. It was all addressed to Jackie, who moved out without giving notice and moved Robin in as her sub-tenant, and to several of Robin's sub-sub-tenants.

Robin does not have her name on anything because she lives under the radar.

She is the stowaway from hell.

I packaged it all up neatly with rubber bands and took it to the building management company. Still they did nothing.

I should have taken it to the police because I suspect that Robin murdered Jackie. She is still driving Jackie's Audi convertible, and probably not paying any rent because it is paid automatically by Jackie's bank.

Maybe what I smell is the remains of Jackie.

She would probably be upset to know that she's not such a hot number anymore.