Saturday, November 03, 2007

Tales from the Caves


It's been quite a while since I've visited with my five constant friends here. Time and task has plodded on resolutely: spring, summer, planting my lil patch of manure clods, yard patrol and litterbox control, a new paradigm for trashbag utilization, overheating, unbearable silence, boredom, watching the Mr. P's undershirts flapping around out on the clothesline, snack cakes and Court TV.

Spring and early summer were quite enjoyable--the windows flung open, my little seedlings stretching out of their peat pots toward the light, the smell of the earth, the sun warming my blue-tinted, terminally-Caucasian skin. But then the reality of summer in southern NJ set in: saunacious humidity hanging on the motionless, dung-scented air; wall air conditioners buzzing like shaken beehives inside, cicadas screeching like nails on a blackboard outside; postponed day trips; limp hair; staggering birds; blind-darkened rooms; and blastfurnace car interiors making it impossible to bring home a quart of ice cream (lack of a/c in the A/ccord).

I looked up one day and realized my garden had been neglected. The plum tomatoes had blossom-end rot, the cucumbers had screamed and died, the zinnias and white marigolds were growing wild and the weeds were having their way with the more virtuous plants everywhere. I'd been low-level depressed again for several weeks, hiding in the darkness of my cave, eating Devil Dogs and watching Judge Joe Brown re-runs on the tube. The highlight of the gardening season--finding those giant green worms on my tomato plants (the ones with the wasp eggs on their backs)--had come and gone without my notice.


Hi! Like my barrister's wig?
I got it on eBay!


I'd turned into a mindless blob (ref film The 5th Elem*nt, right after Evil-Bastard-Zorg-choking-on-a-cherry scene, priest has been kicked out of the room, Zorg stands alone, holding Picasso, his disgusting, elephantine, fat-rolled, hairless pet over his left shoulder, its idiotic face peeking around Zorg's neck as it waves its trunk aimlessly. The pet is about the size of a two- or three-year-old child, weighing about 60 pounds, flabby, repulsive, undoubtedly malodorous, vile, useless, patently offensive--in short, the only pet for Zorg).

The main problem with turning into a mindless blob is the fear of dying while watching t.v. and eating Devil Dogs. The police would be summoned by concerned neighbors who saw a blood-smeared cat running out of the house. The cat stopped in their driveway, sat down and began grooming itself to clean up the red, sticky fluid covering its face. Upon entering the house, the police find my bloated corpus lying on the floor, being feasted upon by Peanut and Buju. A TVGuide is in my left hand, a snack cake in my right hand. The bottle of Diet Pepsi on the coffee table is still cold, which, in combination with the cats' red masks, could only mean one thing: the severe bloating of the body is not due to death having occurred several days ago. The severe bloating is due entirely to unrestrained consumption of Devil Dogs.

The police take pictures and draw a chalk line around the body. They have to use three sticks of chalk and run the line up onto a wall and down again to outline the entire glutton. "God Almighty, Harry! Did you see the trash cans outside? There musta been two dozen empty Devil Dog boxes! Maybe she was tryin' ta eat the picture off that box under the couch and choked on the cardboard!"

Late summer wasn't a total washout, however. My dear friend and neighbor showed me how to throw several trash bags down at the bottom of the receptacle so one need not continually run back and forth to the box of trash bags. This technique is a blessed time saver around here, I'll tellya! I'm finally adjusting to the silence of flown children. Finally. It's taken a long time, and there's still the question of what to do with the next 15/20 years, but that's a ponderage best undertaken once the anti-D-press-ants are better managed.

And then there's the Devil Dog issue to be confronted. God, have mercy!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hiding...


...waiting for summer to end, messing around on eBay, visiting the dollar stores, waiting for my tomatoes to turn red. *sigh*

The LeKS*pro seems to be helping with the depression--the constant sad thoughts and weepiness have stopped, and I'm becoming interested in projects around the house again (poor Mr. Pseudonym!). But the end of summer usually finds me fatigued and anxious each year, waiting impatiently for autumn. My thoughts often stray to putting a brown paper bag on my head, knocking on my neighbors' doors and yelling, "TRICK OR TREAT!" *sigh*

The latest heat wave snapped for a couple of days, but we're due to shoot back up into Habanero Hell shortly. Little J.Q. is getting tired of staring at the back yard but not being allowed to play outside because of the heat.

*!whine!*---*!whine!*---*!whine!* It's too hot! I'm sweating! My plants are wilted! It's 95°F! In the SHADE! My Waterworld DVD is missing! It's too hot to bring ice cream home from the store! Everyone knows how to water ski but me! The dog keeps dropping her frisbee on my feet! We need RAIN! *!whine!*---*!whine!*---*!whine!*

Ah. That's better.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Gardenage, Pt. II

It's been exactly three weeks since my previous garden report, so we're due for an update.

My cucumber seedlings have been sitting on their mud hills like idiots, unwilling to grow, unwilling to send out tendrils and grasp their tomato-cage supports. It's taken all this time for them to grow a couple of permanent leaves on each seedling. The cucumbers' attitude reminds me of trying to get a teenaged child to clean his/her room.

The tomato plants, on the other hand, are big and bushy, with strong stalks and lush green healthy leaves. They keep making flowers, which get pinched off immediately; the plants need to grow about another foot before making fruit. There are two Roma plants and one cherry. I've never had much luck with the big, round tomatoes. Anyway, Daisy the Terrier used to go crazy every time we picked the round ones. She always thought they were red tennis balls, and she frantically demanded they be thrown across the yard for her to catch in her mouth.

I replanted some bush bean seeds, and this time they all came up. Some had to be discarded during thinning, but I tried transplanting some of them to various spots in the garden, and they seem to be taking root. There's always the horrifying prospect of a proximal bush bean plant mating with a tomato plant when no one is looking, yielding young beanmatoes (or togreenbeans). We would probably opt for a quick trip to the Home for Wayward Bush Beans in that event.

We have enough basil, thyme, dill and parsley to supply the neighborhood. There's something so wonderful about going out to the garden to get fresh herbs for cooking. We can pick the exact amount we need and not worry about wasting big wads of expensive, unused supermarket herbs.

Fresh herbs or not, the weather's been so hot and sticky that no one (me, in particular) has wanted to cook or eat much around here. We've been sluggish, hiding in the air conditioning and unable to summon up much enthusiasm for any outdoor activity. The heatwave is due to break tonight, just in time for Mr. Pseudonym's long-awaited vacation. He's had his nose to the grindstone for far too long, so I'll try to arrange some nice little day trips for this coming week.

There's a place in Pennsylvania I've always wanted to visit:
Longwood Gardens is a horticultural masterpiece--1,050 acres of indoor and outdoor gardens, conservatories, fountains, woodlands and meadows. It was a favorite day trip for my beloved late aunts, Shirley and Rose. Perhaps their spirits still stop in at Longwood to pick up fallen seeds from the ground and wrap them in Kleenex for planting at home.

My mother had a green thumb and at one time actually sold live plants she grew herself. She made window boxes and dish gardens, selling them at our local farmers' market back when my brothers and I were quite young. She moved on to more lucrative businesses over the years, but she always enjoyed her many plants at home.

My aunts, on the other hand, weren't really into growing green things. I can't recall ever seeing a houseplant in Shirley's house, although she did grow some flowering plants in a tiny outdoor garden when she lived on 26th Street in Philadelphia. When they were down visiting, Rose would sometimes snap off a stem from one of my mother's bushy houseplants and take it home for potting.

In her apartment, Rose had several glass jars in the kitchen windows containing masses of tangled, overgrown plant stems she had put in water to root. She never rotated these jars, nor did she rotate the pots she had in her bedroom windows. The plants were tall and spindly from seeking light, all of the leaves faced in the same direction and there was a constant showering of dead brown leaves on the window sills. Rose's little indoor displays were the most depressing use of houseplants I had ever seen. These haggard stems looked like prisoners hanging on to the metal bars of their cells--incarcerated, defeated, no hope, no future.

I'm so glad I've inherited my mother's green thumb, as has my middle daughter
Pixie. Pixie loves all living things, and she always has a garden in the back court of her apartment building. Pixie is also the daughter who looks the most like me and like her late Grandma. It's those Romanian genes, I tellya!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What *WAS* I Thinking?

***Post Edited on Account of Depression***

Junket says I should not leave this post up as originally written. I think she's right, so this is the edited version, with most of the depressive parts excised. You kind folk don't need to hear that crap!

Priscilla
6-25-07




In a rare attempt at self-improvement, I flipped Amazon.com my credit card number so they would send me Learn Spanish Even If You've Never Learned Spanish Before, How To Ask Where The Commode Is In Spanish & Seven Other Languages and 1001 Absolute Must-Have Spanish Phrases You Will Need If You Wish To Escape Being Eaten By Natives In The Jungles Of Venezuela.

After a few false starts, I was ripping along admirably--learned my numbers in Spanish from cero to veinte, and the phrases "buenos dias," "buenos tardes" and "buenos noches." Junket had learned quite a bit of the language in high school, so she was helping me with pronunciation and beginning to conjugate verbs. We reached a stuck point, and Junket had to look something up online. She was kind enough to print out several sheets of Spanish grammar for me, the reading of which summoned back some malevolent ghosts from 40-odd years ago: I had never bothered to learn English grammar, so any attempt to learn another language would be...uh...somewhat compromised.

I couldn't locate Junket's mean-ass, pejorative, ¡Idiota EstĂșpidio! Online Guide to Spanish Grammar, so I'm printing out a neato English/Spanish grammar glossary I found on About.com. About.com has a section on everything, and I mean everything. Need to find silver buttons with ceramic photo inserts of Pierre Charles LeSueur? Check out 'Bout.com! Need to sleep in a tree for a couple of nights? Visit 'Bout! Eye about to pop out? 'BOUT!!!

Which just goes to show, for every obscure, esoteric, seemingly-unanswerable question that can be asked, there's someone on Earth who knows the answer! Where did all these people with all of this enigmatic knowledge come from? The contributors to About.com appear to be ordinary people, many without a higher education, who are contributing just for the fun of sharing their wisdom with others. When my brothers and I were growing up, our parents were fond of whipping out little bits of their own enlightenment from time to time, just to scare the hell out of us. We didn't understand the weight of knowledge and experience that can be gathered over a lifetime.

Going without schooling is a terribly depressing mistake that can haunt a person forever, so I would not recommend doing this to oneself. But maybe those of us who have never set foot inside any hallowed halls of learning have manged some edification after all, and maybe we can share some of what we know with others. Someone out there needs to know how to transfer baby ladybugs from trees to aphid-infested hydrangeas (a Priscilla specialty)! As for Spanish, well, all I can say is: ay dios mio!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Garden (and other wildlife) Update #1

Well, the garden is coming along a little slower than expected. Out of a skizillion bush bean seeds poked into an L-shaped row, only three brave little seedlings are pushing their way up. Where are the others? Just lazy, sleepy seeds or are they afraid of something out there?

The cucumber hills were rebuilt and more seeds poked in. They look something like lineman Roy Neary's first attempt to sculpt Devil's Tower out of shaving cream or mashed potatoes in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." That's OK...they can be ugly, as long as the seeds sprout and commence climbing.

The tomato plants are growing nicely, with strong stems and happy-looking leaves, the herbs are taking off like shoplifters and the zinnia and white marigold seedlings are standing proud at the edge of the garden. My dill seeds failed to sprout, but I found a couple of straggly pots of dill at the hardware store and brought them home to live a life of glory, nourished by the finest crap clods on the east coast.

A traumatic memory from the past paid a visit today. Daughter Junket and I, both stinging insect phobic, were terrorized last summer by not one but TWO giant wasp thingies who got into the house at sunset or a little past. When Junket and I were first menaced by The Wasp (or something) From Hell, the instinct to protect my offspring from giant stinging insects was the only thing that kept me from taking off in a fit of hysterics and running a three-minute mile. I mean, this thing was BIG and scary and creepy and LOUD. With Junket cheering me on from behind, I emptied about half a can of Raid on the looping intruder before it hit the wall with a final crunch. A couple of weeks later, the second incident once again found Junket and I clinging to each other and whimpering piteously while waving the can of Raid around for an hour or so.

So Mr. Pseudonym and I were talking tonight when his eyes drifted toward the patio door. I asked him what he was looking at, and he told me a very big insect had just flown by. I turned around, and there it was, The 2007 Edition Wasp (or something) From Hell. Junket came home from work at around 9:00pm and concurred with Mr. P's guess that we had been visited by a "Sphecius speciosus," or Eastern Cicada Killer wasp.

Reading up about this gentle giant did little to assuage my fears. I mean, this thing is HUGE (if I haven't already mentioned this). The males, one-half the size of the females, have no stinger at all and (much like human males) are only interested in finding females for mating purposes. The females have stingers, but they are not really aggressive toward humans; they just want to sip at some nectar or sap, belch and then go hunting for cicadas. The female Cicada Killer stings the cicada to paralyze it, then grabs it up with her feet and flies back to her underground burrow. The cicada is twice her size, but she's just nuts or something, yelling, "I GOT ONE! I GOT ONE!" while careening back to her burrow in a descending zigzag pattern. Once back underground, she plunks the cicada in a cell, lays an egg on it and seals up the cell. Two days later, the egg hatches out in larval form and eats the cicada! I mean, like, ICK!

I hope doing my homework will help me deal with Cicada Killers, though I doubt this will be the case. So, between the giant wasps flying around and giant spiders hanging out of the trees, Mr. Pseudonym will probably have me clinging to his arm and whining, "Kill it! Kill it! KILL IT!" all summer long. Our Raid bill is going to be steep!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Poor Lil' Unwanted Priscilla

Three days after telling ShinyStat to stop sending me weekly traffic reports, I received an e-mail from them informing me my ShinyStat FREE account has been terminated for lack of activity.

Now, a kinder interpretation of this notice would be that I have failed to click on the links in my weekly e-mail from ShinyStat to view my site activity. A more realistic interpretation, however, would be to admit that no one, not even my daughters, are visiting Pinelands Ponderings on anything like a regular basis.

I had noticed my traffic dwindling down over time from a number of early visitors linking through from my daughters' (
Julia, Pixie and Junket ) blogs. This was understandable, since my daughters' sites were raw, insanely funny personal chronicles that, over time, grew more and more addictive to an ever-expanding audience. There was bound to be some gradually-diminishing linkover from their readership.

After all, there just isn't the soap-opera adventure and intensity in my life that a 20-something beautiful young lady would have. I did, however, observe studiously on several areas of widespread interest over the past couple of years. Who could possibly forget my erudite observations on
Christmas, Parenting, Grandparenting, Cicadas, 9-11, Kids' Birthday Parties, Reading to Toddlers, Pet Rats, Expired Pet Rats and Insomnia? Uh...apparently, a lot of people forgot!

But that's OK. Looking back on these posts, I'm proud of setting down my viewpoints on these diverse subjects. I'll never be the emotion-wringing writer my firstborn is and will never have the acidic, hilarious take on the world of my secondborn. I'll never summon up the sweet retrospective of my thirdborn. But I'm not my children--I'm me. I'm not comfortable using...uh...unfortunate language or sexual commentary here. Instead, this blog will always contain an inordinate amount of emotion over my grandson, an account of my continuous struggle with health issues, admiration for my pets and plants and a scatological study of the connection bodily waste (from one species or another) has to my daily schedule.

In truth, there is no other Priscilla from the Pines. I'm a weirdly funny, 59-year-old lady who likes techno music and writing surreal, spiritual or science-fiction stories. I'm empathic, caring and unconditionally supportive to those around me, full of wonder at life and love and eternally grateful to have my friends and family beside me each day. I'll keep writing, whether or not there are visitors. ShinyStat is not a useful tool here, and their logo will come down. But I'll keep writing for as long as I'm aware and in love.

Gotta run--Sprinkles the Rat is ringing her bell. Time for milk and cookies.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

PLANTZ!

The recent (or not-so-recent) (or extended) (or something) postlessness on this blog has been noticed by a friendly/familly following. This neglect is due entirely to the circa-Mother's Day "past danger of hard frost" season on the East Coast of the USA. Yeee-HAAAAAAAA! PLANTZ!

My dusty little indoor-started seedlings had been spending increasing amounts of time out on the picnic bench each day, "hardening" to the weather for a couple of weeks before the official planting season began. The white mum and zinnia seedlings stood straight and tall, questing toward the sun. A couple quested toward the earth below (damp off) and had to be plucked out and thrown over my shoulder. But I got enough mum babies to give some away to the neighbors and enough zinnias to stand guard around the crops. The herb seedlings didn't fare as well, but they never do. Some basil survived, but the parsley and dill did poorly.

Mr. Pseudonym spent a whole weekend day digging my little garden. I followed behind him, shaking dirt out of the grass clods and flinging them over my shoulder. (There's just something proudly decisive about flinging flora over the shoulder. So we get a little dirt in our hair! So what!?!) We did a not-so-quick dried manure run, with Mr. P getting outraged at Agway for asking $6.50 per bag of garden crap. I feared he would locate a small horse farm, hand over his shovel and set me to mucking out the stables, but we finally came upon some reasonably-priced manure at Lowe's.

Mr. P thoroughly dug the manure into the soil, but it dried out and left large, rock-hard clods instead of mixing into soft, nicely-enriched topsoil. (Sort of reminded me of my attempts at making pie crust.) The clods were so hard that I couldn't explode them with my rake, so I'll be squeezing dried dung with my garden gloves every time I work out there for the rest of the summer. Oh, well, I'm used to changing babies and scooping out the cat box; what's a little more poop to a dedicated pro?

I fought shit rocks and over-watered mudslide soil to mound up a couple of awkward cucumber hills. Short tomato cages and six rapidly-poked cucumber seeds per hill sealed the pact. That night, however, we got a violent thunderstorm and torrential rainfall. The little hills now look like ice cream cones dropped on the sidewalk, and I fear my entire crop was washed away in the deluge. Alas, I had no insurance.


So, there are now two Roma tomato plants, one cherry tomato plant, basil and zinnia seedlings, thyme and parsley transplants, dill seeds and bush bean seeds in my little square patch of the Garden State. Oh, and a canna plant Junket had given me that's supposed to grow five feet tall and attract hummingbirds. We shall see what we shall see. Amateur gardener updates imminent!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rabbits and Rubber Gloves

Easter is such a nice holiday in so many ways. For the religious, of course, the story of Christ's resurrection is paramount. And even for the heathens, this is the season of the Earth's reawakening from her long winter rest. (Well, our part of the Earth has been resting; other parts of the Earth have been lounging poolside, sipping tropical drinks with little paper parasols in them and gossiping with other planets about Pluto being a little, well, sensitive, if you know what Earth means. Confusing? Yes.)

Warm weather and fresh air, rabbits, lambs, chicks, egg dyeing, brightly-colored baskets, plastic grass, special foods, fancy clothing, passing on the bunny myth to the little ones--all of these things mark our emergence into a new season of life once again.

Women feel the cycles of the Earth strongly--as opposed to men, who feel only the bumpy buttons of their remote control devices. As the days get longer and warmer, women everywhere get the urge to clean house (undoubtedly a vestige of our cavewoman days--remove the old animal bones and urine-soaked grass from the cave, pick off and eat the cavebabies' fleas, hang the family's reeking, animal-skin wardrobe out in the sunshine because, y'know, RETCH!).

These days, this powerful instinct in women is often performed as a religious or cultural observance. Before the Passover celebration each year,
Jewish women clean their homes top to bottom, gathering and destroying any grain of "chametz" (leavened bread) found in the house. Cleaning rituals in other faiths and cultures also survive from antiquity (although many are linked to celebration of the new year or to various other holidays throughout the calendar year).

While spring cleaning is not technically practiced at Casa Pseudonym, Nature's pull on Priscilla was evidenced recently when she impulsively grabbed up a broom and knocked down the webs of several former house guests. These webs were quite ancient and coated with greasy brown dust, so the house spiders had probably packed up and left for more sanitary accomodations long before Priscilla's uncommon fit of cleanliness. There was also a mass slaughter of E. coli, salmonella and several viral colonies in the kitchen and bathroom when Priscilla found an old bottle of Kill, Kill, KILL! spray bleach under the bathroom sink and went berserk.

Before collapsing from exhaustion, Priscilla nobly managed to sweep up most of the orchard grass bedding that had fallen from Sprinkles' cage before a scheduled visit from the cable company. It's bad enough the cable guy had to perform his duties in the Pseudonym's home office under the close scrutiny of a small rat in a big wire cage. Service people have been known to scream and run out of the house when unexpectedly coming face-to-face with pet rats.


This is really absurd, but not everyone recognizes how really sweet and cuddly pet rats can be. In point of fact, rats are soft, warm and completely docile. Reptiles are cold, scaly and often mean spirited. Reptiles will very often try to bite you, slap the nose off your face with their tails or wrap themselves around your throat and suffocate you. Yes, yes...they're God's creatures, too. But have you ever seen one eat? GAG!

Anyway, About.com offers a Complete Spring Cleaning Checklist, which may help some of us with this annual endeavor. Priscilla has no need of such a checklist: objects at Casa Pseudonym are either reasonably clean or coated with slimey brown goo, making the tasks at hand clearly evident. Priscilla thinks the checklist is for women who don't remember when they cleaned this or that, since everything looks fairly clean from actually having been cleaned within the past few months because these women clean and clean and clean and clean and clean, constantly, every morning, evening and weekend, so that they never have to scream in horror and start chucking things into closets and kicking things under the sofa whenever unexpected company pulls up in the driveway. They also make their beds every single day of their lives. Even when they have the flu and get out of bed for a few minutes, the bed gets made before they run off to hurl in the commode.

Best wishes to everyone for a pine- (or lemon-) scented cave this month!


Friday, March 30, 2007

Counterfeit Carnations

Went with friend Kathy to her father's grave today. She goes there three times a year--his birthday, Christmas and Easter. She delivers some silk flowers and talks with her Dad for awhile, feeling better afterward for having gone.

I stopped going to the cemetary a long time ago. There are just too many people who have gone on--parents, in-laws, aunts, uncles--just too many. I get no feeling of peace at the gravesites, just a feeling of deep, isolated loneliness. Maybe someday it will be different.

My mother, gone 12 years this coming August, just loved lining up her ducks. After we lost my father in 1991, Mom had a beautiful double headstone put on his grave. She had her name and year of birth engraved on the stone in anticipation of sliding in next to Dad some day.

I hadn't taken Dad's death well, and I hated it when Mom would periodically bring up the matter of having her half of the headstone engraved after her death. I don't know whether she was obsessive about these things or just liked torturing me, but I used to cringe when she would bring up that headstone. I eventually stopped nodding and agreeing to call Mr. Granite at Thrifty Tombstone when she died.

"Look, Mom, I'm juggling too much responsibility while hauling three kids around behind me all the time. I can't promise to call Mr. Granite, but I do have a black, extra-large felt-tip marker at home. I could just swing by the cemetary when you die and write 'DEAD' in big, black letters across your half of the headstone. That way, anyone who visited would know!"

Mom would always laugh while feigning annoyance. From the time my brothers and I were very small, we knew we could always get around Mom's persistent questioning by making her laugh. Dad was a very humorous person naturally, and we three kids learned to use humor to get what we wanted or to get out of trouble. We had some very hard times in our family, but we also had a lot of laughter on a regular basis.

Maybe I'll go to the cemetary with some silk Easter flowers this year. Mom loved flowers.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Oooops...

Experiencing technical difficulty here...meaning #1 Daughter is up to her butt in work and does not have the time to fix this right now. And Priscilla hereby admits she can't brush cake crumbs out of the keyboard, let alone diagnose and correct template problems on a blog site. The fonts are frightful, hyperlinks are hysterical, captions are calamitous: Girls, we VITIATED!

Priscilla was going to take the whole shebang down but, on second thought, who the hell cares? It's not as if anyone will be reviewing Pinelands Ponderings for the New York Times or anything. So, we will keep the new posts as simple as possible and wait until Daughter has some time to help.

For now, there will be no amusing photographs of flying cranberries (along with hilarious caption), reliable font size, even line spacing and fascinating sidebar info. All three of Priscilla's regular visitors will just have to brave the storm. Many apologies--we know how important those cranberries were.



Postscript: By some miracle or other, Priscilla discovered the Quickie Template control on this thing! We now have options for colors, fonts, cranberries and squirrel pix. OK...it's true the blogsite now looks like Priscilla's returning from vacation to Jamaica with a satchel full of gifts for her family in New Jersey, but these things take time to refine, y'know? Just give up a chance, OK?

Friday, March 23, 2007

A Day on the Town

Kathy (my dear friend and neighbor) and I had previously scheduled a Slipcover Hunt for today, which was a good thing 'cause, y'know, Kathy's cushions have been getting as bedraggled as my pitiful emotional state of recent weeks. It was a good day to get out of the house and go count some threads.

Junket and I had been scratching at each other this morning, so I arrived at Kathy's in a less-than-ideal mood. But it was a warm spring day, we had at least three leads on
SureFit retailers and had made grandiose plans for lunch out. We slid into Kathy's black and tan Toyota Coonhound and set off in pursuit.

Speaking of Surefits, we stopped at the drugstore first so that Kathy could buy a big bag of pull-up diapers for her mother. Nothing strikes terror into Kathy's heart quite so much as running low on Mom's supplies. Alzheimer's is such a charming disease! I bought some board books for J.Q.'s Easter basket and a couple of cocoa butter sticks for my poor hands. (Believe me, you do not want to see these hands!)




So, Melvin, suppose you explain to me why I shlep the BIG tub
of Eucerin home from the drugstore and then you refuse to
put it on! Go ahead! Explain already! I'm listening!

At the mall, we ran our prey to ground at Drool & Slobbier: all SureFits on sale for 50% off. Kathy got some nice neutral waffle-weave slipcovers. I just felt every blanket, sheet, shower curtain, bath rug, quilt and bedspread in the linen department, like a natural woman! *sigh* Nothing like obeying one's primitive instinct to hang pelts or brightly-colored leaves on the cave walls!

Lunch was a pleasant interlude before our final stop, Rock Bottom Dusty Discount Debris, our local mainly useless crap store. I was unable to locate a table runner, but I did manage to get some ceramic flamingo accoutrements for my kitchen.

Kathy dropped me off, and both of us took a short nap before her mother came home on the daycare bus. I went over and helped feed the old lady, which is always entertaining. It's sort of like spooning strained carrots into a talkative octopus on amphetamines.

It was so nice to be out from under the depression, if only for a few hours. It's creeping back now, but that's just what happens. At least I'll have access to Mr. Pseudonym's car tomorrow, so I can get out early in the day and buy some seeds. YES! SEEDS! Probably the happiest time of the year for me!

Does anyone know if peas can be grown on a common chain link fence? Interesting concept, no?




Monday, March 12, 2007

Critter Crises


Oh, God. Krimpet the Rat took suddenly ill and had to be put down on Friday. Without unnecessary description of her symptoms, it appeared to be cancer. The ground was still frozen, so she lay in state for two days, peacefully arranged in a cookie tin out in the shed. Mr. Pseudonym was finally able to plant her in the rat garden yesterday--another tiny, beloved scrap of life stirred back down into the continuum. She had a great time living with us, and she's busy now becoming spring flowers.

Krimpet's exit leaves only Sprinkles the Nine-Lived Rat in the rodent column, and she's still bouncing around like a WalMart shopper three days before Christmas. She rings a bell in her cage when she wants attention, which is most of the time she's awake. ("DING-DING-DING-DING! MOM! I'M AWAKE! WHERE'S MY COOKIES? AND DON'T FORGET THE MILK THIS TIME! DING-DING-DING!") Sprinkles has survived a three-day escape from her cage before she left the pet store, having her underside slashed open in an argument with one of her late sisters and a serious bout of head-tilt when she was about a year old.

The same day Krimpet went on to the Big Trashcan in the Sky, Onyx the Old, Old Cat took ill. She's been wobbly and taking nothing but water for two days, and she's not able to make it to the litter box today. She's always been fastidious--a little lady--so we know she's on her way out. She's always loved eating, as well, but now she's uninterested. I've been holding her in my lap most of the time, and she purrs and burys her head under my arm the way she always did. We will take her to the vet if she's unable to cross over easily by herself.

*teardrop*

On sunnier topics, #1 Daughter (a.k.a. Mrs.Thumbscre.ws) has obviously done more work on sprucing up Priscilla's blogpartment, and she promises the squirrel pix will be installed soon. She was here last weekend to give us the dining room set she bought with the soon-to-be-ex. The s-t-b-e (we call him "Stubby" for short) has moved on to IKEA high-gloss, and my daughter keeps her new place fairly spartan to minimize the destruction wrought by little J.Q. He just loves coming to the grandparents' house, where he can destroy at will. His favorite activities are trying to "feed" the fish by swishing his hands around in their tank ("Shishies! Eat!"), smacking Grandma's plants leafless, chasing after the pets with his shape-sorter cart and digging through the kitchen cabinets in search of sweets. ("Gamma! Fwoot sak? Kweem? Cookie? Canny?") ("No, J.Q. No. No. No.")


WeeMote KomTwoll!
Wheeeeeeeeee!

Spring may bring the end of a long, long, long spell of depression for Priscilla. Tail's been dragging in the dirt for months now, but maybe the longer days and warm winds will help with the despondency. Either things get better soon, or we jump back on an SSRI and deal with the side effects (such as nightmares of Stubby popping up out of the dining room table with a knife between his teeth and glowing red eyes).



Saturday, February 24, 2007

Serious Changes Afoot


Well, Mrs. Thumbscre.ws finally got some time to work on my page layout. She still has to do some more tweaking, but she came up with the cute lil' pinecones up at the top and some neato text colors. I don't understand a single thing she did--I looked at the HTML and went crosseyed.

I don't know why the font size on the previous postings is so small; Mrs. Thumbscre.ws will fix this when she comes up with more time, which will be roughly when she's visiting Casa Pseudonym again and J.Q. takes another 3-hour nap. Hmmmm...maybe it's time to visit the eye doctor again.

During this "under construction" phase, we would appreciate the patience and forbearance of friends and family who visit regularly. We will be showing essential links, wildlife graphics (squirrels, in particular) and twiddling our fonts and colors until viewing this blog page may cause gentlewomen to swoon. Just watch.

Friday, February 23, 2007

12 Steps & 12 Paparazzi


Counselor: So glad to see you back, Br*tney.

Br*tney: [sneers] Yeah, well, it's not like I had any f**kin' choice in the matter.

Counselor: No, but what now looks like the worst possible turn of events may ultimately turn out to be a pivotal point in your journey toward recovery.

Br*tney: [yawns, slouches in seat, scratches under left breast with ball-point pen]

Counselor: So, can you tell the group what happened to you after you left us the other day?

Br*tney: Why? So you can, like, climb up my a** the way you did before? No THANKS!

Counselor: Br*tney, you DO remember agreeing to participate in the therapeutic process upon re-admission to this facility, correct? You signed a contract stating you would take an active part in both individual and group therapy while an inpatient here and would attend at least three meetings a week after...

Br*tney: OK! OK! OK! Jesus-Chugged-The-Manischewitz! Look, I'm, like, TIRED, OK? And my scalp is FREEZING! Do you people have, like, a heat lamp or anything around here?

Counselor: Br*tney, you are wearing a coonskin cap, a thick wool neck scarf and long johns under your regular clothing. Let's get back to discussing the events of the past 24 hours or so, shall we?

Br*tney: [softly, with chin quivering] They took my f**kin' umbrella away! I'm, like, DEFENSELESS!

Counselor: Defenseless, not really. Powerless, yes! And we begin to heal at the point we admit our powerlessness.

Cindy [group member]: Yeah, it took me, like, FOREVER to admit I couldn't control my...

Br*tney: I had those popparozzies crawlin' over me like flies on a rib roast, and they took MY umbrella away!

Counselor: Cindy? You were saying?

Cindy: Well, I'm not a celebrity or anything, but my addiction is the same as anyone else's addiction, right?

Br*tney: [stands up, throws notebook and pen into center of circled chairs] WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! You people have NO IDEA what's it's like to be in my shoes, so don't, like, pretend you do! They NEVER leave me alone! EVER! First it's my clothes! Then it's my voice! Then it's who I f**ckin' marry!

Counselor: Br*tney, sit down. Now.

Br*tney: [flops down, sliding chair backward with a harsh metallic scraping...holds face in hands while weeping piteously]

Counselor: Br*tney? Will you please look at me?

Br*tney: What? WHAT? I'm supposed to, like, IGNORE it when they call me a bad mother? They were chasing me again! And the f**kin' kid was in my LAP, with a big f**kin' steering wheel around him! He wasn't goin' NOWHERE! And I'm, like, this HORRIBLE mother for trying to get my kid away from those bastards! I didn't know what they were going to to do him! Kev*n isn't as strong as me! He couldn't take it after awhile, always worrying about when some bastard with a camera is, like, going to RIP the baby's diaper off and take a picture of his POO for the Nation*l Enqu*rer!

You wanna know why I shaved my f**kin' head? I was AFRAID of them ripping my f**kin' hair out! THAT'S why! Ripping my f**kin' hair out and selling it on E-Bay! What the F**K!!!

Counselor: Br*tney? Let's keep the focus on the alcohol and substances, shall we? You are powerless, and your life has become unmanageable. That's the real issue, isn't it? The unmanageability of your addiction?

Br*tney: Yeah, like WHOA! The "UNMANAGEABLENESS" of, like, MY...BIG...F**KIN'...ADDIK...SHUN! What about those crazy bastards being, like, addicted to their stupid cameras and to selling other people's f**kin' hair on f**kin' E-Bay? Who rips THEIR umbrellas away from them so they can't even defend themselves? Huh? Huh? Answer me THAT, Mr. Counselor-to-the-Celebrities!


Excuse me, but I have to get a Diet C*ke from the machine before I choke to death from the fur on this hat. I'll be right back, OK? Or is getting a drink, uh, "against the rules" of this place?

Counselor: [stares at Br*tney for a full 15 seconds] OK. Thanks for sharing, Br*tney. Now, Cindy? You were telling us on Tuesday about your mother marrying a Rastafarian in 1997? I think you mentioned being a "Flower & Herb Girl" at the wedding. Can you elaborate on this?

Friday, February 09, 2007

The (Empty) Arms of Morpheus

I don't remember when my sleep problems started. Mr. Pseudonym says they've been there always, and he should know since he's also been there always. (I feel Mr. P and I have had interwoven lives in previous forms, such as when we were mushrooms or grasshoppers.)

But the sleep problems are continually present and continually distressing to me. I can set myself a bed time and try to stick to it, but things never seem to work out. I'm always staying up way past the time normal people hit their pillows and slide into peaceful intermission. Mr. P has only to plunk himself in bed at a decent hour and he's out like a light within five minutes--literally, five minutes.

I've got to follow a complicated winding-down pattern each evening, and this exercise stretches into the wee hours of the following morning. After all of the good, hardworking, gainfully employed family members have yawned "g'night!!" and shuffled off in their jammies, I pop in a DVD for my reward of the day. Having been up and active for 12-15 hours, I deserve my evening movie. But there are always "urgent matters" popping up that interrupt the movie and have me walking in circles around the house:

  • Have to restart the washing machine. Forgot the load of whites that has been soaking in chlorine bleach for several hours. Mr. P's undershirts will look like swiss cheese if the wash cycle is not completed this evening.

  • Krimpet the Rat hasn't been exercised yet--she can come out and watch the movie with Mom. It's a mystery, and there's usually a rat or two in mystery movies, so Krimpet will enjoy the film. She may even have a Hollywood cousin or two who work as extras in the movies, and I'm sure she would love to see her kinfolk squeaking and chewing on people!

  • Need to hit the loo. A big mug of tea is an integral part of my evening reward, but drinking tea results in "addressing the porcelain" several times over the course of a movie. (Note to Self: business plan: research "peeless tea" for people who want to watch movies start-to-finish, without interruption.)

  • There's crab dip in the fridge and crackers in the cabinet. Crab dip must be eaten within two or three days of purchase, for safety reasons. As official Safety Officer of the house, I have my duties.

  • Onyx The Senile Cat is yowling again. She's 16 years old, and she often forgets she's already had supper. She sleeps all day and then stumbles around the house all night, presumably looking for misplaced cat toys from years gone by. If she sees me, she immediately remembers her 9Lives canned tuna and demands to be let into the utility room and given another can of food. She licks the gravy off and then remembers she's not really hungry.

  • Need box of tissues. The movie is sad or my allergies are acting up. Since I rarely watch sad movies (too sensitive), it's most likely the allergies. In a house with four cats, two rats, a dog and nomadic tribes of dust bunnies, we go through a lot of tissues.

  • Daisy the Terrier wants out--again. She hears the neighbor's dog barking, and she doesn't want to be left out of any barking initiative going on outside. After all, the neighbor's dog is guarding her own yard, and Daisy's patch is no less important.

    --"Oh...wait...it was just the wind blowing some leaves! IN, MOM! OK...all's well...back to the sofa." (jumps up on sofa, turns in circle three times, flops into crescent-shaped dog pattern) "..sigh..yawn...zzzzz-zzz-ZZZ-zzzzz..."

    --(five minutes later) "WAIT! What's THAT??? MOM! C'mere! Lemmee OUT! Something's going on in my YARD! It's a BEAR! And he's stealing STICKS and TENNIS BALLS and FRISBEES from my YARD! Grrrrr-ROWL-ROWL-ROWL-ROWL-ROWL! Grrrrrr-ROWL-ROWL-ROWL-ROWL! ROWL-ROWL-ROWL! Oh...wait...it was just some more leaves. Nevermind! In now! ROWL! In! NOW!"

  • Trash needs to be taken out. We generate more garbage in this house than any other family on the East Coast. Even with recycling, we put out four or five bags a week. I've tried waiting for others in the house to notice the overflowing kitchen receptacle, but everyone here seems to suffer from selective garblindness. So I pull the trash bag out, tie it up and fling it out the back door, into the recycling can. Mr. P gets upset when I do this, since the squirrels throw a luau out there when they find uncovered bags of trash. But I do enough around here without having to run out to the covered cans at the side of the house in the middle of the night, so FLINNNNNNNG!

  • Oooops! Kitty litter needs scooped before trash bag is flung out the back door! (Ewwwwww.)

  • Krimpet needs to go night-night. I've fallen asleep while watching the movie (again) and awakened with my hand on a rat. She's sitting there, staring at me with wide eyes, wondering why I've stopped petting her. Time to go back to her condo for the evening.

  • The fish need to be fed. Each time I walk past their tank, they all swim up to the top, in anticipation of their fish flakes. Sha, Na, Na, Bob, Flippy and Flapjack can't make any noise at all, but they still manage to look pitiful until I make with the flakes.

  • There's ice cream in the freezer, and it will get freezer burn if it isn't eaten immediately.

  • Onyx is "hungry" again.
It is now 2:00am. The movie was supposed to have finished in time for me to hit the hay by midnight. The 11:00pm news broadcast re-runs at 2:00am, so I might as well stay up and catch the weather report I missed earlier. Never know when a hurricane was supposed to have blown by the Garden State at 1:00am, which would account for those strange growling noises from the back yard during the movie. Or maybe there were possums fighting over the trash bags out there. News ends at 2:30am. I'm still sitting there, staring at the television, wondering if it's worth getting into jammies at this hour. And I forgot to watch the special features on the DVD.

Wait a minute, Onyx...Daisy hears another bear.
*yawn*

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Uhoh...BROKE!


Hmmmmm...
Priscilla goes missing for several weeks, and then her blog shuts down almost entirely, except for a few words and the picture of the hairless kitten. What could have happened--on both counts?

Priscilla Goes Missing

Well, to be perfectly honest, I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with this computer. I want to use it, but I don't particularly like spending any amount of time on the thing.

Part of this paradox stems from the fact that, in the first through third grades, my elementary school conducted regular "H-Bomb Preparedness Exercises." These were the golden days of childhood innocence, when a teacher could still smack an occasional heiny and we all believed that ducking under our little desks and covering our heads with our hands could protect us from nuclear detonation directly over Pinebarrens Public #4. In short, this was a long, long, long time ago. Let's face it, Priscilla is approaching old age rapidly, and modern technology has slipped from her grasp like a glistening toad on an August evening.



"OK children! Under your desks!
Eddie! Stop laughing! This is SERIOUS!"


My kids know everything about computers--absorbed the knowledge transdermally. They even managed to teach Mom basic HTML and talk me into a more interactive enjoyment of the Internet (thus this blog). But for most of my life, personal computers weren't around or weren't easily usable by the average person. Windows changed everything for everyone everywhere, but all of my formative years and young adult life were spent in a time when the world ran a bit slower and more methodically than it does today. Time has been flying by me with ever-increasing speed in the past few years. I'm sure this time distortion is experienced by almost every person approaching seniorhood, probably because we never quite adjust to the social and technological changes of the passing decades.

In summation, I want an instant weather report each day, but I don't want to miss Judge Judy at 5:00pm. I want to know how to translate "Oh, get down on all fours and munch grass!" into French, Spanish and German, but I don't want to read stories about the stock market or computer hackers. I want to read my daughters' online journals, but I have a hard time accepting their risk-taking behaviors in this endeavor. I want to be able to make my own greeting cards, but I don't want to take the time to learn any more about C*relDraw than I already know. I want to have my own blog, but not at the expense of my work, recreation or sleep schedules. I want online friends, but none who will be disappointed if I toodle off to parts unknown for a few days now and then. And I never, never, never want to traverse that vast wasteland known as "chat rooms" again! *!shudder!*

Most of all, I don't want to feel any of my remaining time in this physical form is being squandered on staring owl-eyed at a monitor and tapping away at a keyboard for hours at a time while there are outside squirrels teasing my inside cats at the big glass door to our back yard.


Priscilla's Blog Shuts Down

This could have been caused by any number of things:

  • solar flares,

  • a Diet Coke spilled into my hard drive,

  • TastyKake crumbs migrating into my hard drive

  • a hacker who hates grannies and pets,

  • an accidental "delete this blog" keystroke,

  • a Blogger employee throwing a hissy fit over his/her annual raise and tampering with the product,

  • Priscilla's children tampering with the product (hey--you've all seen what they do!),

  • the Internet becoming self-aware on 1-20-2007 and planning domination or destruction of all mankind,

  • the Internet belching,

  • tectonic plate slippage, or

  • just some damned thing or other.
Fortunately, Daughter #l knows more than everything about fixing glitches and gaffes in online publications, and she fixed my blog this afternoon. Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!

I am happy to be back here and prattling away, but I would like to hear from any of you who also love/hate your equipment or are afraid of being
enslaved by computers and/or the Internet. Do any of you feel compromised by having to spend time updating your blogs or by getting lost in site hopping because the Internet is a bottomless ocean? Let me know.