Monday, February 29, 2016

The Benefits of Wheatgrass

So, I make these smoothies for Nick and I in the afternoon. He's the usual starving fifteen year old after working out and I don't eat much midday except salad greens and I forget how to make dinner because I get so hungry. Okay, today, I baked a portabella mushroom with cheese and onion for lunch. It was delicious, but by 4pm, I was hungry again and couldn't think.

I offered to make Nick a smoothie about the time he threatened to eat three or four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of the good brioche buns I bought for tomorrow's dinner. I had a plan. It was going to be delicious.

Here's the thing - I almost always put spinach in our smoothies. Nick knows and tolerates this because of the strawberries and bananas. The green of the spinach doesn't show up until the whole thing melts and by the time it turns from pink to a sickly green, Nick has sucked down all but a tablespoon of what I blended.

I like making him smoothies. It's a treat, like a milk shake, except that I sneak in some healthy stuff and sometimes rice protein to tide us over until the next meal.

Yesterday, I was diverted from my normal plan. If you didn't already know, I'm a sucker for beautiful produce. I can make myself walk past the tulips in varied hues, but you walk me past avocados, heirloom tomatoes and a neat row of lush wheatgrass, and I'm hooked. I usually end up bringing at least one if not all of the the pretty colors home with me. Yesterday, it was avocados and wheat grass.

When I got home and unpacked my groceries, I had an idea and cut the tough roots of the wheatgrass and put a chunk of it in a low vase on the windowsill, reserving the rest by the sink. Very pretty. The bonus was that Seth, who usually chews my potted plants to tattered ribbons, could have a treat too. Finally, an arrangement he could eat and not get yelled at. I made sure he couldn't get to the wheatgrass by the sink. He wouldn't need to. He had his own bouquet.

For Christmas, Nick bought me an orchid that was so pretty I needed to name her. At first, the only name that came up was Lily. You can't name an orchid this way. She would have been tormented for life. So, I named her Fifi and I prayed that she lived past New Years. She kept her showy blooms for two months and finally dropped the last of them last week. Seth has been trying to chew on her leaves but must not have liked her flavor. He mostly leaves her alone. I've read that she won't poison him, but I just didn't want her to start looking like my poor spider plant which eventually gave up the ghost because Seth tormented him daily. Fifi is managing fairly well so far, but I wonder if she'll ever bloom into her glory the way she was when Nick brought her home. I don't care. I love her anyway. So, I was particularly pleased with my wheatgrass distraction.

Seth jumped immediately to the windowsill and got to work. After he was done, it was a bit shorn but still very pretty, except that he went into the laundry room and puked up a little green wad of wheatgrass with yellow bile puddled around it. Yuck. There is always ugliness in every act of beauty. Think about it, the gorgeous girl with the ugly hands, the dramatic cliff side view that leaves no way down, the sleek lines of the cheetah, the efficient stalking machine. But I had additional plans for my  wheatgrass. It was going to be luscious.

This afternoon, when Nick asked for his usual smoothie, I took out my kitchen scissors and sheared a hunk of wheat grass from the half I didn't offer the cat. I did this instead of adding a handful of spinach to the usual smoothies. I added the same other ingredients, bananas, strawberries, rice protein and all. I cut another hunk of grass for my own smoothie minus the bananas. I can get a sugar overload from bananas.

And I blended.

As I popped in a green straw and handed Nick his smoothie, I said, "So tell me what you think. I used wheat grass instead of spinach."

He took a big sip and gave me a noncommittal nod. What the hell is that supposed to mean? But he kept sucking at the straw, so I assumed everything was good.

I went back into the kitchen and blended my own smoothie. My mouth began to water. I wasn't sure why, but the whole thing reminded me of summer. This could be the beginning of spring, flowers blooming and food getting so fresh it didn't need you to add much. I love cooking this time of year.

I chose another green straw in celebration of my wheatgrass concoction. I took a big sip and held it in my mouth before I swallowed, ready to savor the fresh new flavor.

It tasted like I had paused while mowing the lawn and stopped at the pile of grass clippings for a snack. With the second taste, I got a hunk of chewy unblended grass in my mouth. The little green and yellow cat puke I'd cleaned up in the laundry room came to mind.

Welcome to spring.

Thank you for listening, jb


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Trying Not to Practice My Drop-Kicks

The cat is sitting smugly on the back of the recliner. I have pushed him off of it multiple times, especially when I had been sitting in it and his tail kept swishing my nose and his weight on the pillow at my head made my neck hurt. He claims it as his own spot now and only reluctantly leaves when I play the game of leaning back and forth in it so that Seth can no longer keep his balance. That just pisses him off.

Love is a battlefield. Pat Benetar had it right, but not between Mike and I. No. I'm talking about the household cat.

When I first laid eyes on Seth, he was a kitten bounding across the living room floor toward me as if he already knew me. He was cute, but there was a mischievous spark in his eyes.

"That cat is a bad husband from a previous life," I said. After ten years of his 'love' I'm sticking with this explanation.

Have I told you how, in the middle of the night, he'll come silently into the room, jump onto my feet and walk my full length until he gets to my head, whereupon he drags his furry belly across my face in an attempt to get me to pet him?

Have I told you how he sometimes stands in the hallway crying in alarm? This morning was that way. At 4:17am, sleep let go slowly but I came awake in a slurry of anxiety. What was wrong? Why was Seth in the hallway sounding his alarm call?

He does that sometimes when he's bored and the moon is up.

He does that sometimes when coyotes are howling. 

He does that sometimes when he gets a wild hair and wants to play mind games. I read once that in concentration camps, they blared loud music in the night to torture the captives with sleep deprivation.

Seth does it at times when people are up and he thinks I should be apprised of the situation.

"Meow!" These days he stands in the hallway knowing that I'm a crack shot with the squirt bottle in the dark. I know because once I've gotten up, I have actually petted him if I could keep myself from using him for a field goal and many of those times, he was wet. I've learned not to touch him at all when I feel tempted to use him for a field goal. It passes quickly.

"Meow." Field goal, but he's out of reach and I'm still practically paralyzed with my need for sleep. Seth says this the same way Harrison Ford would say it to the older Carrie Fisher off set. You know, more like growling than purring.

"Me Ow." Seth is frustrated by the fact that my feet aren't yet on the cold floor and I'm pretending to ignore him. He can tell by my breathing that I'm awake. He waits for the field goal moment to pass before he jumps only my feet and begins the balancing act of walking the length of my body.

"I'm up, damnit. I'm up." And I twist him off my hip before I get belly fur in my mouth.

Five minutes later, as I stand, bleary-eyed, in the kitchen light, Mike walks in carrying Seth in his arms. I stand there with him for a minute, petting the beast.

"You're up early."

"Uh huh."

"Good morning, honey." Mike leans across the cat and kisses me. Mike is kind in the morning, if not a little too cheerful.

"What time did you get up" I ask him.

"Oh, about 4:15." See what I mean?

Thank you for listening, jb

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Why I Need to Tell You

We're old now. Mike's got a bad knee and I've got a few extra pounds and hypoglycemia. I don't imagine myself sleeping on the ground any more either, not even with the best inflatable lightweight mattress my money can buy. Shoot, I have trouble sleeping in my bed with four pillows and memory foam. But still they come up, those trips Mike and I took. They rattle around in my head, reminding me of how I picked Mike, or how my heart did. Sometimes I think I didn't have a thing to do with any of it. My heart just wandered after him like a lost puppy and finally he picked it up and took it home and fed it.

Twenty-eight years ago, he said on one of our early dates that he'd make a good husband. And after the first of those trips, a canoe trip, I knew he was right. He held my hair while I vomited. He paddled back in the rain across two lakes and two portages to pick up a sleeping bag, his sleeping bag, that I had left behind and he didn't even yell at me. I still work to learn that patience from him. He laid out on rocks and laughed into the night with me and watched abundant stars until he got too cold and sore from that unforgiving stone and then he kissed my forehead and went into his tent to sleep. I never did like sleeping in a tent. I've slept in a canoe, on that hard rock by the lake shore, and I've slept in a lawn chair in my bivvy sack in the rain. Mike always goes for our tent after a while. And I always feel so free and safe looking at it, usually only fifteen or twenty feet from where I was camped.

Oh, I slept in a tent with him in the middle of our adventures, when I was too in love to be more than four inches from him in the night but before I was willing to tell him the truth about needing to breathe cool air at night and get up when I needed to. I did sleep with him, sometimes with a wet, smelly dog. I did, but when I did I always shuffled from side to side on my thin mattress and woke him with my zipper in the night because I always have to get up in the night to pee. Always. Mike never complained when I woke him up.

So, I find myself trying to tell these stories to people. Have you noticed that people don't listen to stories any more? About half way through, they either interrupt you and tell you they know exactly what you mean when you know they couldn't possibly understand because you haven't had a chance to say what you mean just yet, or they start looking at their phones, probably checking how many likes their last post brought them on Instagram. So, the stories of thunder across the water, of bears in camp, of waves splashing over the bow of the canoe, of Mike heating up water just so I could wash my hair, all these stories stay wrapped up in my head and I'm still not sure why I need so badly to tell them.

There's something in these stories that I want to remind myself of when things get routine here at home, when he's under the sink asking me to hold the faucet in place while he seats the bolt, when it's not working and I accidentally open the tap and water starts dripping down into his eyes, and he still doesn't yell, not even then, and when I can stick my finger into the hole and reach the loose bit but my finger's not quite long enough to keep it in place while he seats the bolt. It's still the same with the two of us only those trips, the ones on the river, they don't read like everyone else's love stories. Oh, I know that love stories are unique to each couple and everybody has one, but how many people do you know who fell in love across fifteen or sixteen waterways in eleven different states? It's a story, dammit, and I want to tell it.

So ...

Thank you for listening, jb

Monday, February 1, 2016

True Tales of Furred Siblings

We have a battle going on here at home.

I usually remember to brush the cat and the dog about the time the cat pukes a hunk of wet fur the size of a mouse. It's gross. Fur-butt appearing on black pants or fur-shoulders can remind me too, but that's usually when Nick is about to go into karate and he's covered and we're not at home right then anyway. I never notice when I have a bad case of fur-butt myself because I don't have many mirrors that reflect that. I don't look for trouble, folks. But when Nick is walking into the dojo with a layer that he might be proud of on his head when he hits fifty-five, I think that maybe, just maybe, I should groom the dog.

Sometimes I'm reminded to groom them when the cat takes matters into his own hands and grabs an implement in his front paws and starts the process himself. Today, he had the rake upside down and looked to be poking his eye out with it. Four years ago, I had to get the rake because when Teddy lost all of his long beautiful fuzzy locks as a puppy, the Furminator wouldn't even go through it. His fur was too thick and the poor puppy began to think of grooming as a torture activity, yelping included. The Furminator worked perfectly on Seth though, and I've since used it in between shedding seasons on Teddy with lots of success. What you need to know with an exuberant cat who loves the Furminator is that it actually cuts hair. Seth got a little thin on his back once after a particularly loving and attentive session. Teddy still doesn't like it all that much, but it has its uses.

You know, I wish they made a Furminator without those two corners on them. That would have made Teddy much happier when I was using it on him as a pup. A curved comb would be perfect. Plus, I wish it had a knob instead of a handle because when Seth gets excited, the handle keeps getting in the way. Can you picture that? Or maybe a place to wrap your fingers in on top like the new silicone oven mitts that look like Kermit the Frog when you buy it in green.

Okay. Enough. I would redesign the world if I could. Can openers? Don't get me started.

So, I had begun to use the Zoom Groom on the cat when the dog came over and bumped my leg. Of all the implements, the animals like the Zoom Groom the best. It's a silicone thing with knobs on one side that massages and brings up clumps of dirt. Oh, I haven't met a creature yet that didn't love the Zoom Groom. There are no sharp edges. It helps to keep them clean. It pulls out old fur that had detached and threatens to form mats. I've been using the same Zoom Groom since 1995 with at least five pets. I wish I had someone to use a Zoom Groom on my back.

When I looked down at Teddy who kept bumping my leg, he stared up at me as if to say, "I thought you loved me best. You love me, right?"

So, I let him sniff the wad of cat fur that I was not going to have to clean off the carpet next week in a wet hunk of putrefaction. Seth bumped my hand with his head and I got back to brushing him.

"I'll be done in a minute. Then it'll be your turn," I said to Teddy. Seth stared down at Teddy.

"Not on your life, snot-sucker. Do you see her attending to you?" Seth can be cruel sometimes.

Seth stood up, walked in a circle, and looked down at Teddy's pitiful eyes again. How is it that a cat's eyes can convey such superiority? He seemed to say, "I'm going to take my time, puke-muncher. This is obvious evidence that she loves me more. It's my turn ... forever." And Teddy whined a little bit and looked away.

I gathered a hunk the size of a Brillo pad and tried to gauge when Seth would start to bite my hand to stop. We were close. I always try to stop well before he reaches that point. The problem was that Seth hadn't declared that we were finished. But I had.

I held the implements in one hand and called Teddy. I slipped on Mike's outdoor slippers. Teddy slid through the door with a look at Seth that said, "I told you she loved me." I tucked the little Brillo pad of gray cat fur into the terracotta pot where I put old fur. It's February. It's time to make sure the extra fur gets into that pot for cozy nests and warm fledglings.

Suddenly, I became aware of cheering chickadees in the trees. Had they been singing like that before I came outside? Was I imagining their excitement? All the fur I'd left on the ground at the last grooming was gone. There was still a tiny clump of old wet fur in the pot.

Teddy stood in his spot, waiting. Seth, on the other hand, stood on the other side of the screen door and wailed.

"She loves me best, hump-meister!"

"I do love you," I said to Seth. "I brushed you first. Remember?" I started on Teddy with the rake and pulled up a lot of old undercoat. The chickadees cheered as I added a hunk of cream-colored fur to the gray stuff in the pot.

"That's not fair. She can't possibly love you, you bagless-mongrel."

"Of course I love Teddy too. I love both of you." I switched to the Furminator and worked on the little spot on Teddy's thigh that turned pink when he licked his butt too long. Last week, with me on the couch harboring a cold, pink fur became the new black. I added a little wad of pink fur to the pot.

"It's going to be my turn in two seconds, butt-sniffer," Seth seemed to spit. The pot was beginning to look like a pretty knitting project. Cream and gray with a touch of pink highlights. I could knit a sweater out of these two. I smiled as I thought that the chickadees were going to do just that. I wish I could see one of those nests. I imagine they're seriously pretty and functional too.

I finished with the Zoom Groom, pulling long guard hairs out of the knobs and tossing them into the ivy.

"No, not the Zoom Groom! That's mine, you flocculent eunuch! It is my turn, now!" And I was finished. I swiped my hands together and collected my tools. Teddy leaned into my legs a little bit before he walked over to where the cat was staring, burning holes in the screen door.

"See, she really does love me," Teddy seemed to say.

I opened the door to the screen, slid the over-sized slippers off my feet, and dropped all but the Zoom Groom onto the floor by the coffee table. Seth jumped onto the back of the recliner where I casually rubbed his back and neck with the Zoom Groom, collecting no more than a pinch of loose fur.

"But she loves me more, zit-licker."

Thank you for listening, jb