Friday, March 27, 2009

Electric Cat

What is it about animals that, seeing each other for the first time, causes them to get more excited than a grown man looking at a 1960 Thunderbird?

Between the raised hackles, drooling, and butt sniffing, I feel as though I’m watching college students groping each other at a bar as they stumble over each other for first dibs on the cutest co-ed. Pheromones.

Later when the conversation wanes and the sniffing has all been snuffed, the parties seem to ease into each other’s presence without much more ado. Lust begone! Unless, of course, the parties are a mountain lion and a deer or a 10-year-old and a bunny.

My daughter’s dad had been wanting a cat forever, so when he verbalized his wish to our daughter, she was thrilled. Ivy spent weeks browsing through a name book and made a list of forty possible names for the forthcoming pussy cat.

Finally, Ivy and Jonny drove to a lady’s house in Black Forest and came home with a female feline, which, out of the forty names she’d chosen, Ivy named something completely different: Aphrodite.

One day before driving Ivy to her dad’s, I invited Shiloh the Lab to join us for the ride. He leaped into the back of our Trooper with the verve of a teenager who’d just drunk three Red Bulls and away we went. Just to be annoying, the dog bounced back and forth in the back of the truck like an overgrown tennis ball, whimpering and whining all the way.

When we parked in Jonny’s garage, I said to Ivy, “Hey, how about if we introduce Shiloh to Aphrodite?”

“Yeah!” she replied expectantly.

So she traipsed in before me while I seized the hyper canine with his leash. He was less than two years old at the time and given to rambunctiousness and uncontrollability. Training him took quadruple the effort compared with my other dogs.

He quickly dragged me up the garage stairs into the family room as I held on to the reins. Then we flew up more stairs toward the living room where Little Miss Aphrodite spied the gigantic yellow mass of muscle invading her personal space. Freaked, she flew up more stairs toward Jonny’s room with Shiloh lunging at her and me holding on for dear life.

Finally, the cat stopped, turned around, and gave her best imitation of a growling saguaro. What a live wire.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Eccentricities 2

It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not. —André Gide

As I alluded in my February 2 post, “Eccentricities,” I possess peculiarities that to some might seem absurd. The more mature I become, the less bothered I am that others see these features. In general, I think about everything I do and consider my actions’ impact on others. My neighbor, Bette, is the same way. I suspect we’re oddballs is an otherwise less contemplative world.

Grocery shopping, for example, is a three-hour affair. As much as I like the good folks at King Soopers, I try to make my shopping trips every three weeks. After a half hour total drive time and one hour to shop, it takes me an hour and a half to put everything away. The step most shoppers probably neglect is cleaning the newly purchased items.

Before anything is allowed into my fridge, freezer, or cupboards, they are rinsed and/or wiped—packages and all. I carefully scrub and rub my fruits and vegetables, so when the time comes, all we have to do is reach and eat. Since I have to clean the food anyway, why not do it all at the same time and keep the fridge smelling and being fresh?

I also Murphy Oil Soap my hardwood floor. A sidestep I make is on the carpet. Over time, carpet has a way of looking worn and dirty on the high-traffic areas. The reason it looks worn and dirty is because it is. To slow that process, I don’t permit shoes past the foyer, and I step to the side of frequently trod pathways just enough to reduce wear and tear.

What’s really strange about this behavior is that I’m not the only who’s thought about it. A hundred years ago I was at a play. One of the main characters was an older, eccentric woman, who, by play’s end, had all the characters walking around the high-traffic area of their carpet, not on it. Vindication!

I’m also timely. As a student, I started class on time. As a salesperson, I met others on time. As a friend, I knock on people’s doors when I say I will. When people want something done, they know they can rely on me. I’m dependable and honest.

Lately, though, I wonder if I’ve behaved differently. Do you know the phrase, “Treat people the way you would like to be treated”? Well, I must have done something out of my normal character, because I’m seeing unreliability and lack of respect from some I’ve considered close friends. What have I not done to be a good friend, I wonder.

So today I began interviewing friends in a quest to uncover areas in which I need growth. My daughter just says, “On your chest.” Friends who frequently see me and have known me for a decade or two said I have maintained my good character, and that it is not me who was changed.

I think some people just hate who I am. Time to go to the toilet and contemplate further.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009


My friend said he has big balls.

I told him it’s just edema.

He said that they’re dark blue.

I told him a different shade would better complement his natural coloring.

Last Friday this friend went into the hospital for an “overnight,” plaque-removal procedure in his leg. He ended up in ICU for five days, then in cardiology for one. The artery cleansing was supposed to take up to an hour; instead, it lasted five hours and involved a close-to-death experience.

On the same day I didn’t have transportation, because my vehicle needed a new starter, soon after I’d bought a new battery: two things my body could use. Sometimes life’s events are like bouts of diarrhea.

So I didn’t see him until Saturday morning, and we both teared up when I said how scared we all were. He was too.

I love this guy. He’s a good person who brings out the best in me and sweetly, kindly encourages me to push myself to become better—to play piano better, to sing better, to play guitar better, to play golf better, to play tennis better. Note the word play. He works hard as a software engineer-consultant, and when the work is done, if he’s not in the bathtub, he’s playing (with) something.

As with any relationship, it isn’t perfect. We always do something that the other doesn’t like. He doesn’t like it that I have so many male friends, not noticing that I also have a lot of female friends and spend most of my time alone.

I never liked his smoking or his pitting me against another female—the mean, self-absorbed, controlling type. Fact is, in our 11 years of friendship, we’ve parted company several times for these two reasons. Bad stuff.

And once, after he said, “Huh?” for the eighty-sixth time in an evening, I said, “That’s it! Leave. And don’t come back till you have hearing aids!” A couple months later, he called to say he’d gotten hearing aids.

But he doesn’t wear them. Funny thing, though: his hearing has improved, especially around dinnertime.

I asked him yesterday, “Do you know how hard it is to love someone who smokes?” Watching someone you care about suffer through self-infliction is heartbreaking. Knowing that they will probably die a painful death is exhausting. Truth is, even though I’m quite an energetic person, I am physically, emotionally, and mentally drained from feeling my dear friend’s pain. I simply could not separate myself from being a part of him.

Meanwhile, his self-obsessed female constantly wore everyone down with her perpetual intrusions. My friend, who should have had a loving and calm environment to heal his mind and body, was inflicted with high blood pressure, trying to make peace between her and his 89-year-old mom and daughters. She sure kept me away until my friend requested my presence.

So here my friend and I go again, hanging around like his big balls. But time will tell how big they really are. Will he really stop emasculating himself by putting a cigarette to his lips? Can he grow with the positive? Will he notice all my girlfriends? Or will we be playing ping-pong with body parts?

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

You Are Not Alone

In this big world of 6.76 billion people,* my dad taught me not to be dependent on anyone. (The population at that time was around 3.6 billion.**)

He also used to say, “Take care of your things, and they’ll last longer.” I’ve always taken that concept a step further: Take care of your friendships, and they’ll last longer. But it takes two.

Late last year I was diagnosed as having precancerous cells. The prospect of having the same type of cancer as my mother had, scared me.

Concurrently, I was ghostwriting a biography for a person I thought to be a friend and who had become my client. Less than one month after receiving my adverse-health news, my client-friend withdrew his friendship and, using registered, certified mail, “demanded” his advance money be returned to him. This unfortunate event was strange on two accounts: First, he said he sincerely liked and respected my work and intuition on his book; second, friends don’t dump friends when they’re down.

Fortunately, God has blessed me with the best friends on earth, on whom I can and do depend. All who knew about my condition rallied for and supported me through a short, but dark hour.

But what if I had few friends? What if all my friends were like the former client? Would I, in my distraught state, have taken my life quicker than cancer could have?

One of my former client’s “friends,” an energetic, handsome, perpetually smiling man, recently took his own life. His memorial celebration was attended by hundreds of prominent people.

Why would such an attractive personality draw death upon himself? Did he subtly reach out to one of his friends, who couldn’t hear him? Did he present a weaker side that a friend humorously brushed off? Or, as with many men, did he feel he couldn’t ask for help?

We’ll never know.

But I will be a better friend and listen with my heart, because I want my friends to live full lives…
and die naturally.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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* U.S. Census Bureau via Wikipedia


My daughter and I are in film, and I’m not sure how we got wrapped up in it.

Though my daughter is a video producer and scriptwriter, that’s not the type of film I’m referring to. The film I’m talking about is sort of like the clingy plastic a guy wanted to wrap me with, but it’s not that tight. It’s grimy, attracts smells, and reduces transparency, like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It’s the film that accumulates on our windows, walls, and doors. Even my backyard neighbor has offered his window-cleaning apparatus when he sees too much grime building up. Where does it come from?

Our carpet and furniture are at least 15 years old, so all their formaldehyde and chemical outgassing occurred years ago. We haven’t run the gas log fireplace insert all season, and our window coverings are ancient. We don’t even buy new clothes.

When I cook, I use the fan and Clarity, our air purifier, and give her a new charcoal filter when I think she needs changing. We have at least 38 potted plants in our home, many of which are on NASA’s clean air study list.* We don’t allow smoking on our property, and we don’t expel flatus. Well, Shiloh the Labradog does.

To deal with this pervasive problem, I have tried Windex-style cleaners, Murphy Oil Soap, and vinegar water. I’ve even sprayed my peppermint water on walls and wiped them clean.

But today I came up with a miraculous, new formula! On a cloth that did not contact a dryer sheet, I unscientifically poured the right amount of vinegar and a sufficient quantity of rubbing alcohol. I then rubbed it on my big living room window, and voilà!

Now my backyard neighbor can watch me dance much more clearly.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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