Felineversary

Well, well…look what I woke up to.

I knew this was coming up, and intended to post on my and Myryle’s two year anniversary on November 8th, but work ate my life and I missed it.

And the day that I brought this little freaky-deeky home deserves commemorating.

Even if I’m not completely sold on her innocence when it comes to my potential demise.

Death By Feline.

Sounds about right.

She was about a year and a half old when I got her, and I was her fourth owner in her short life, if you can believe that!

Believe me, there were days I certainly found it easier to believe than others.  The two trips she’s sent me on – not the glamorous kind with beaches or all you can eat buffets, no. 

The trips we’ve taken have been more along the lines of scabbed faces and broken teeth.

Specifically mine.

But there have been good times, too.

As soon as some come to mind, I’ll get them in here.

I call her The World’s Most Dangerous Feline.  Alternating disturbing and dangerous.

For instance, witness disturbing:

I’ve refererred to her as Mistress Myrtle or just The Mistress for short, prompting The Silver Fox to share this photo with me. 

Pretty spot on, considering what injuries she’s inflicted over the years.  From grisly, like above to more playful-ish, like this one.

If that’s not the picture of affection…

She has started mellowing out.  Or at least stopped treating my legs and wrist like this:I still have to keep my paper towels and TP stashed out of her reach.  She still finds ways to both express her displeasure with me and drive me to the poor house in paper towel expenses, though.

She had a UTI somewhere back around 12 months ago.  Of course, I only knew it because her cat litter clumps got a little…well, littler.  As anyone who’s ever had a UTI knows, peeing when you have one hurts.  As cat owners probably know, when cats associate pain with their litter box, they stop going there.

Fortunately, she moved from her litter box to my shower.  I’m sure it wasn’t because she’s considerate and there’s a drain in there, no.  Probably one of the Lost Boys I’ve <ahem> entertained (mildly by Portland standards, I’m sure) peed in the shower and she sensed it before I cleaned my shower.

However, when I am gone too long from home, she will also take to the tile in the bathroom or utility room to express her displeasure.  Hence, the continued exorbitant paper towel expenses.

Eventually, she began optimizing her time by eliminating the trip between her litter box to poop and the tub to pee.  Instead of peeing in the damn box, she started pooping by the toilet.

I know who’s boss.

The Mistress.

What I was spending on paper towels was at least offset by a meager savings on cat litter.

Still, if she’d asked my opinion..

During this cat box demonstration of feline disobedience, Myrtle was also starting to become more cuddly.

That’s a big plus!

AKA: mostly why I wanted a cat, independent but cuddly.

I chose poorly.

Thanks for that pro-tip.

While she still freaked out if I came at her too quickly when petting her, she was starting to crawl into my lap while I watched tv.

Usually right about the time that I need to refresh my drink or get rid of one of the drinks I had consumed earlier…

Sometimes she just lounges atop the glass coffee table near me.

No, wait…that was her hunting toes.  At least she’s stopped stalking my ankles like prey.  That usually happens when I’m not too alert and ends in injury of one sort of another.

Trust me, she does it, though.

Fine, don’t trust me.

In another show of – what I’m told is – trust behavior, she frequently exposes her belly while chilling.  That’s good…I want her to be a happy kitty!  And not just on the coffee table.  She gets her Baby Seal pose going everywhere:  coffee table, floor, dinner table, kitchen counter…

She don’t even care.

So, back to that cuddly stuff.

Since she began settling in, she’s favored sleeping in the bed, day or night.  Initially- y’know – for the first year and a half – that was dead center during the day and as far away from me as possible while still being on the bed when I was in it.

Apparently, she’d put a feline flag on the bed and claimed it as part of the Empire of Myrtle without my knowledge.

But six months ago, she started moving closer.  It started with her sleeping by my calf, occasionally revisiting her flaying skills on my ankles and toes.  As she tempered her killer instincts – inasmuch as they involved me as prey – she began moving up my thigh.

I was pretty happy with this development.  Not just because it meant fewer transfusions for yours truly, but also because I foresaw this as the last stop before cuddling like spoons with ma lil kitteh.

Oh, yeah.  Predict a cat’s behavior.  Go ahead and try.

She moved from the outside of my thigh to the inside.  I usually sleep on my side or on my back with my legs crossed at the ankles…so she was basically just laying in the crevice formed by my thighs.

Or the crevasse formed between my legs when I slept on my side in about the same position a body lands in after a failed attempt at flight.  Again, she usually found this comfy spot about 30 minutes before I had to pee.

She is loathe to reposition once she settles, let me tell you.

Boy howdy.

Her slight overreaction usually involves an insistence that she be rewarded for met magnanimously allowing me to move.  Hence the baby seal physique that compliments her Baby Seal pose so well.  In my efforts to minimize treat-age in her diet and maximize my potential to return to sleep, she began to climb up on my chest and sit.

More feline disobedience.

When my reaction failed to produce results, she settled in and laid down on my chest.

Overtime, she began to nurse, making me feel as if I were the treat.

Nursing left a big wet spot on my bedding.

Fine!

And, then I was up.

Score 1 for Myrtle’s long game.

Once we were back to our nightly cuddling detent; her by my leg side, me free to hit the head without traumatizing her comfort, we both found enough sleep.

Me: 4-8 hours.

Her: 16-20 hours.

A couple of months ago, I woke up with my legs in a figure 4 and Myrtle curled up and purring like a monster truck between them.

I am unsure how this happened.

But now it happens every night.

My reward here, is that after a couple of months of her vaguely menacing my genitals while I sleep, she has begun using her litter box again.

Not every time she goes and certainly not every day.

But often.

In a rage of frustration after taking a five minute shower only to open the shower curtain and find shed peed on my bath mat…

Or letting her run the hallway to find she’d peed on my doormat, strange theme…

Or thinking I’d outsmart her by showering without putting my bath mat down until I was ready to get out of the shower…

…only to fine Lake Cat Pee’s tide drifting toward the shower, well…I’d come to a point of “It’s her or me”.

My last ditch effort here in salvaging our relationship was to begin shutting off the bathroom door and putting her litter box in front of the door.  Subtle, no?  And by litter box, I mean the fourth new litter box of our relationship.

I was rewarded with mixed results.

A pee in the box and a poop on the laundry room floor.

A poop in the box and a pee on the laundry room floor.

Both in the box!

This last led me to try and hug The Mistress, which sent her into freaky-deeky mode.

Fine, I’ll just leave some treats in the table for when she calms down.

The next day, literally the next day, I came home to poop in the box and a reminder – in the form of Lake Cat Pee on the bathroom floor – that Myrtle can open doors.

All of this made me reluctant to ask a friend to watch Myrtle while I was away this week at Seminar..

The Silver Fox was still on his month long Iberian Adventure.

I really didn’t want to expose a less initiated friend to Myrtle’s pee-cadillos.

I debated just leaving a big bowl of kibble and bowls of water everywhere.  Mom-Donna suggested boarding her…too expensive.  That got me thinking, though, and I was able to find a pet sitter on Craigslist who would come once a day for $10.  I booked her…and then she didn’t show up for our key exchange date.

Fucking – audience participation time!  You choose:

A) Portland flakes;

or,

B) Millennials

So, I was back to the buncha-food, buncha-water plan.

When

Linda Belcher invited me to lunch.

After I casually bitched about my plight, she practically insisted I should have just asked her to begin with.  It’s right between her office and her bus stop, anyway.

I tried talking her out of it and we settled on her stopping by my place for a glass of wine on her way home while I was gone.

If some wet cat food happened to fall into a bowl for The Mistress, so much the better.

I got nightly pics of Myrtle along with texts about how sweet my cat is while I was gone.  On the night of my return, I got an excited text from Linda about how Myrtle had been so good while I was gone…using her box the entire time.

Sure enough, I came home to a box littered with poops and clumps.  I rewarded my beastie with treats and sat down for a little snack myself before bed.  After finishing her snack, Myrtle gave me the cold shoulder.

The next day, I woke up and discovered a couple of dried up pees and poos in the laundry room, just as I suspected.

That’s my Myrtle.

Felineversary

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17

My dinner last night included a found bottle of Pinot from Patricia Green Cellars.

Let’s call it a Continental Dinner in honor of a fallen Oregon winemaker.

Literally fallen, incidentally, which made her early death hit home with me even a tisch more.  She was discovered dead in her remote cabin and early CoD is thought to be from injuries sustained after falling down.

Finding the bottle was serendipitous.

My fear of falling down alone came to the front of my mind about 15 years ago when a co-worker sustained injuries that kept her off work and on light duty after falling in her bathtub.

My grandmother died after spending several days stuck between her commode and shower.  There’s no way to class that shituation up, so laugh, cry…your choice.  Even though she was found alive, the damage was done for her.

As if I needed to somehow have this fear hit closer to home, then there’s Myrtle…aka: the worlds most dangerous feline.

Twice, she has already tripped me.  The first time was a near miss…my temple having passed within millimeters of the corner of my hallway table on its way to landing on my face.

The second occurrence…well, I was ready for her.  Somehow, I managed to fall backward after tripping over her, twisting midair and landing on my front – now half-fake – tooth.

Mistress Myrtle has taken her game to a more ninja level than her previous two stealth attacks.  She’s not too strictly attach to the trip, willing to settle for a slip…as long as itvresults in a fall, it seems.

To that end, she’s taken to peeing in my shower over the last six months.

As her captive caretaker, I know she started forsaking her box after a UTI, associating the box with pain.  That makes me feel sad for her, poor lil kitty.

Until I run the shower and almost slip on the slimy reconstituted cat pee she left there.  Lemme tell ya, people think of cat per as an odor.  

Not always so, Jabroni.

If I miss it because it’s not stinky, there’s quite a next level dance off in my shower as I struggle to not die naked and wet in my shower after falling.

Don’t worry…I know Myrtle will be there to make that ignominious death so much worse by eating my lips, fingertips and any other soft tissues she can get too.

<shudder>

So, if the evitable happens, please know that  my wake must include Culture Club’s I’ll Tumble For Ya and as many other falling down references as possible.

The Red Shirt Diaries: #17

My Huge Confliction

Who knew the Chrisism confliction would have legs as a blog theme?

We’ll see…

I realized this morning at 4:30 that I was the Old Mother Hubbard…I’d failed to remember to pick up dry cat food last night and my kitty cupboard was bare.

Normally, Mistress Myrtle’s feeding routine is:

Dried Salmon snacks when we wake up,

I leave kibble for her to nibble throughout the day,

When I get home, she gets a few more Dried Salmon cubes to tide her over to her 6:00 wet dinner.

Wet dinner is at 6:00.  Do not make the mistake of missing dinner time.

Running out of kibble is not a situation I want to find myself in when the only thing keeping me alive is that I provide the food that The World’s Most Dangerous Feline loves to hate.  Fortunately, I was able to double down on the wet food…”Look, Myrtle, it’s dinner for breakfast!”

She was not as excited about this as I’d hoped.

So, this evening; after changing, playing a bit and giving The Mistress her salmon snacks, I beat feet to the RiteAid for dried food.  I also figured I’d pick up some beer and chips to inspire my dinner making creativity.  I’d pulled some beef out of the freezer this morning and put it into a water bath in the fridge to thaw.  When I got home, the whole damn thing was frozen.

There’s something seriously messed up with my fridge.

All this is pointing toward me having chips and beer for dinner.

Since this is my life, the RiteAid was out of dried cat food.

Looks like my last meal would be Nacho Cheese Doritos and some Hop Valley Alphadelic IPA.

At least the beer was on sale.  A 12-pack for $13.99 ain’t all that bad.

None of this in any way has to do with my confliction.

I get to the checkout, wait for Shaky James to complete his transaction and then step up.  The very disaffected young lady – aka: millennial – ringing me up scans the beer and says, “ID for the beer”, which I guess passes for a complete sentence in her universe.  I pass her my ID, she types something into her register, pulls her phone out of her hoodie pocket, answers a text, scans my Doritos, mumbles something about what I owe her and stops.

Then she answers another text as I ask her if I can put in my Plenty number.

She puts her phone down on the counter and makes a minimal fuss about forgetting about the store’s loyalty program, replying, “Sure…if you want”.

I want.

Then she tells me my total.  This time I can hear her clearly.

$3.43

I start to question the total as she answers another text, so I shut up and give her a $10.

Am I a bad person or just a grumpy old man?  Surely being a grumpy old man is a condition that’s exacerbated by bad service, right?

The funny thing is, is that lately I’m scoring on buying beer.  Over the weekend, I picked up a 6-pack at the Brodega.  It was on sale, too…$8.49 from the $10.99 regular price.  It rang up at $12.49.  When I questioned that, the cashier asked if I was sure…so I went and checked.

Seriously.  

By all means, don’t take my first word for it, let me verify that for you.

Me:  Yup.  $8.49

Hipster Cashier:  Let me fix that for ya.

Me:  The funny thing is that this is ringing up for $1.50 more than the non-sale price.

HC:  <distractedly> Oh.

Not a question or surprise.

HC:  OK, your total is $8.49 then.

Me:  <thinking> Because you don’t want to charge me the $.10/can tax on this…right.

So, it’s been a pretty good week for this old beer hound.

But now my confliction is, do I just complain about this cashier’s over-the-top poor performance?

Or

Do I also complete the survey for a chance to win $1000?  I can’t tell which way the karmic winds are a-blowing here…

My Huge Confliction

Cuba

So…here I am, abandoned by the Silver Fox.

Again.  

This time on a month-long adventure to Spain with Sallory.

Me, with no one to drink wine with but Mistress Myrtle the Mean.  All that’s left for me in life is sharing my gift of Oregon-bred passive-aggressiveness.

Er…I mean, write.  Nothing to do but write.

I figure there’s no better time to flesh out this placeholder draft that is earmarked as a guest post for him to share their Cuba adventure from last January.  Yeah, the one he went on instead of sitting around with me, doing nothing on my birthday.

Who’d want to miss that opportunity?

Anyway, as it turns out, not only is Cuba a cool place to visit, but in the near-year that The Fox has been procrastinating (just kidding, he’s not doing it…I just never deleted the post) this, our be-loathed President has undone the work Obama did to open Cuba up to American tourism after a half century of it being a big no-fly zone for vacationing Americans.  So once again, only Americans traveling under certain strict guidelines – like as part of a cultural tour – can travel to this lost in time country.

It’s amazing what changes a year can bring.

Anyway, I can tell you, from the stories I heard, this little island nation could turn American sensibilities – ie: capitalism – on its ear.

Sure, the beaches are amazing in a non-resort-y type way.

Yeah, the cultural arts are untapped treasures.

The architecture is beautiful, albeit in an increasingly decrepit way.

And the people!

The Fox couldn’t talk enough about them.  

There’s the hybrid of tourists from every other nation in the world – well, Canada and Europe, anyway – since we are the only holdout with a travel embargo.  

Again

All the way to the juxtaposed relative poverty of doctors and lawyers by comparison to the prestige and wealth those vocations have in our culture.  Many of the cab and bus drivers they he and Sallory encountered were actually moonlighting doctors, which came in particularly handy in the case of the tour bus driver/doctor who was able to render some first aid on a tour he was driving for…wait, now I’m confused about whether that happened on their tour or one of my other friends’ trips.

Nobody ever takes me anywhere nice.  Hehe.

I am sure, though, that it was The Fox that told me about the lawyer moonlighting as an ambulance driver.  

Lawyers…in Cuba, they drive ambulances; in America, they chase them.  

Hashtag: irony.

Then there’s the residents.  In every story I heard, I was impressed with how unaffected they were by the tourist trade aspect of their economy.  Well, mostly unaffected.  I heard countless stories of restaurants where travelers were treated like family, with an unfakeably sincere hospitality.  Or how knowledgeable the tour guides were on history and how easily they shared the culture of the people.  You can’t put a price on that passion.

But for each of those stories, there was a less subtle eschewing of the tourist trade.  Like the men who “entertained” – without judgment – travelers for cash.  Again, though, being a genuine population, they were known to share their life stories with their guests…telling their male and female clients equally about their families – including their children.  Can you imagine the sensibility and life circumstance that affords you the opportunity to turn tricks to provide for your kids and family without simultaneously being anything other than genuinely grateful for the financial resource?

I don’t even know how I feel about that, and I’m from liberal Oregon!

A little less conflicting is the story of the 90 year old woman, sitting in her doorway and smoking a Cuban cigar like she had no fucks to give…and charging tourists for the privilege of a photo op with her.

That’s a slightly less dire example of how this somewhat upside down culture was embracing capitalism.

And then there’s the cars.

We all know the island is basically a classic car museum…but why not take it one step further and let Disney turn it into an amusement park?

I mean, seriously, by all accounts, the infrastructure there is severely lacking.  From buildings on the verge of collapse to an airport that can barely handle three planes at a time.

Think about it.

Flotilla rides.

A Haunted Soviet Mansion tour.

The Bay Of Pigs Mystery Dinner Theater.

Tobacco Picking and Craft Cigar Workshop.

The people are definitely accustomed to the hospitality trade, all we gotta do is teach them to run rides and we’re set.

I’m sure we could ruin that island in no time…maybe our Bigot-in-Chief did them an inadvertent favor by shutting the island off to us again.

Oh well, I can always use a good excuse for a quick trip to Vancouver, BC…gotta get done of them Cuban cigars!

Cuba

What’s the 911?

Can you believe it just took me three tries to call 911?

It’s not that I’m that low functioning.  Although, it is 5:30 in the morning.  And I did take a sleeping pill last night.  Probably mostly that I’m a teensy bit neurotic.

But THREE attempts.

I smelled smoke when I walked through the lobby of my building this morning, vaguely registering the thought, “Good luck, Myrtle!”

Although, she’s been super sweet, cuddly and barely lethal lately.

I had already put the alarming scent away and was jaywalking diagonally across the street in my little Alphabet District neighborhood when I saw the smoke in the park.  Oddly enough, now I couldn’t smell the smoke.

I debated the need for fire department assistance, since I realized it was a heavily smoking trash can.

Thanks, homeless people…let’s face it, 5:30 in the morning on Wednesday is too late on Tuesday night for even the heartiest partiers to reasonably be the culprit.

I called 911, kinda thinking that there’s a non-emergency number I should call for smoke versus reporting said smoke to the emergency responders.  I’m thinking all this as I hear, “If this is an emergency, say ‘911’ after the tone or press any key on your phone at any time”.

Well, thank goodness it’s not an emergency. Listening to that probably wouldn’t soothe my nerves in an actual crisis.

“911”, I say.  Feeling guilty, of course.

Click.

I’m crossing Broadway now, wondering if I’m required to stay on scene.

I’m a minute late in my departure for work, you see.

Dial tone.

What the…?  Ok, this is a sign.  I search my contacts for the non-emergency number that I’m sure is in my contacts.  I am a grumpy old man, after all.  Gotta be prepared to call the authorities to report young people having too much fun.

Nothing.

Obviously, I’ve deleted the number in an attempt to disarm my inner self-righteous bastard self.

I google Portland Fire and Rescue and call the closest firehouse to me.  I’m musing that the one in SW is actually closer to me than the one in my own NW neighborhood as the phone rings and I walk down Everett toward 6th Street now.

I get a recorded message from the administrative offices telling me office hours and urging me to call 911 in an emergency.

I hang up.

I reluctantly call 911 again, this time pressing any key after the recorded message.  This is obviously some sort of Obama Death Panel nonsense.

When the operator answers, she asks, “Police, Fire or Medical?” and I reply, “Smoke?”

She asks the location and I tell her it’s in the North Park Blocks at Everett between 8th and Park.

I’m approaching 3rd now and she tells me that she has a report of fire in the park at Flanders.

I look at my phone, unsure of how someone can not know how the Alphabet District works.

Burnside.

Couch.  Don’t you dare mispronounce that.

Davis.

Everett.

Flanders…and…so…on, all the way through Vaughn.  Yeon just doesn’t count.

I calmly respond that, “That must be the same one”.

“Do you see them onsite?”

“No, but I was late for my train, you see…”

Click.

Well, I did at least try.

What’s the 911?

MNSC: Unicorn Edition

Not just because this happened…did I decide this needed to be subheaded Unicorn Edition.  But also because I fin my unlikely group of attendees at the situationally Friday Monday Night Supper Club to be unique in so many ways that they are unicorns in their own right.

I considered subheading this Full House as a cute entendres about the two married, gay and (most rare, at least in PDX) monogamous gay men and the three single gay men that seem to be the last three gay men in Portland that not only believe being single and feeding your libido a steady stream of strangers is not the apex of the human relationship condition, but also possibly the last three capable of actually entering into a relationship as an equal.

A full house, if you will, for all you card players out there.

Plus, five grown men and one torbi with an oversized catitude is literally a full house in my little condo.I joked about Myrtle being my typical Friday night date, but when The Canadian and The Cajun arrived, I dispatched The Silver Fox to bring them up and Myrtle made herself comfy at the bar.  

I originally called this monthly-ish gathering of friends Monday Night Supper Club because I hosted the inaugural edition selfishly on my Saturday night.  Since then, my friends have moved it once to Saturday to accommodate my schedule changing and then it bounced to Fridays because people do shit on the weekends in summer, like leave town.  However, the moniker hasn’t changed, although Diezel was kicking no around an acronym he liked for a while, but between us we never really landed on something that worked, so I still call it MNSC.

Everyone else just calls it “dinner”.

Oh, and now it happens to fall on my Sunday night.  Admittedly, I’m a little sleep deprived as I tap this out on the way to work after squeezing in about 4.5 hours in the rack.  This was after a less than smooth segue from hosting duties to slumber last night.

But I only left one dirty dish in the sink!

Well, one dirty dish and a decanter with about two undrank glasses of wine left in it.

Talk about a Unicorn!

At least in my house.

But, in addition to four bottles of wine, the menu included my go-to carbonara, summer favorite caprese salad – with mozzarella balls and halved cherry tomatoes from mom’s (and dad’s!) garden and a Watergate Salad courtesy of The Cajun’s kitchen that had me unreasonably excited!I didn’t snap a pic of the pasta, once it’s made, it’s eating time not picture taking time!

I love carbonara.

Disputed as it is in the pantheon of real Italian food – some placing it on the same level of authentic Italian as Americano coffee – carbonara is an easy Italian.  No huge prep, no super processy sauce…just simple carb-coma-inducing, hearty goodness that takes little more time to prepare than boiling the pasta.

I like to mis en place before I cook and clean as I go when I cook, this dish is perfect for that!

Dice a shallot and some garlic…”just a hint of garlic!” was a favorite exclamation from the kitchen of my turn of the century neighbor that inspired – or nurtured – my MNSC idea.

Slice some pancetta.

Grate some pecorino.

Poof!  Prep done!

Then it’s just boil the water, put the pancetta on to brown before throwing in the roots while the pasta cooks, separate some eggs and mix them in with the parm – and heavy whipping cream, if you like. 

Once the pasta is drained, throw in the cheese mix and stir it all together with the pancetta and it’s time to eat!

So.

Good.

Which is exactly what company of this caliber deserves!

MNSC: Unicorn Edition

This Was Me Yesterday…

…right around 8:20 PM.

To riff on the prophet, Sinead O’Connor, it had been 71 hours and six days.

It was quitting time.

Time for my weekend.

48 plus hours of elsewhere being.

My only plan was some hang time with the Silverest of Foxes and some exercise.

Oh, and a quick Sugar Detox to shock my system a bit, as my mother reminded me yesterday.  I had decided to start it on my Friday and maintain it throughout my weekend to minimize the hangriness at work…but come Tuesday night, I realized how much leftover food I had in my fridge.

Naturally, I deferred my detox plan.

Can’t waste food!

So, number one on my weekend to do list is still gym time.  Here’s a glimpse at what other big plans I hope to accomplish:

  • Finish up my leftovers, starting with this Costco size bag of Chicago style Cretors.
  • Finish s4 of Sherlock.
  • Mail Fathers Day card.
  • Do some wrap up writing…I have 18 pieces in draft status.  I’d like to get that down to 15, which seems like a reasonable goal although, I prefer to keep my projects to 10 or less.
  • Do my recycling.
  • Finish s5 of House of Cards with The Fox, but that is still eight episodes.  That might be to loftily lazy.
  • Mop the floors.
  • Find Myrtle.  When I returned from morning coffee with that aforementioned Fox, she was nowhere to be found and the place was fairly trashed.  She’s probably hiding, knowing she was a bad kitty.  But maybe my bandit – one of those drafts – got in and kidnapped her…

But, first!

Imma knock these two off my list:

Right.

Meow.

This Was Me Yesterday…