Tuesday, May 31, 2005

After Portly's second flea dip and subsequent re-medicating to the gills to kill the little plauge-and-tapeworm-carrying fuckers that are eating her alive, she disappeared into the shadowy recesses of the closet to lick herself dry.

"I hope she's not able to lick the spot with the goopy insecticide."

"She's probably fine."

I went back to reading a horrible novel about a woman's sado-masochistic love affair with a bald-headed asshole who wants to "help" her by recreating the scene in which her sister was brutally murdered. It was all so predictable; his knowledge of the event that he couldn't possibly know, the huge red arrows all pointing to him as the killer, blah blah, ad nauseum. And yet I couldn't stop myself from reading. Would she continue to let him blacken her eyes and ruin her career as an up-and-coming artist? Or would she come to terms with her sister's death and quit drinking herself into a stupor at 7am and ditch the cocksucker and make up with her family? I had to know.

But I was hearing a noise that was out of place. It sounded like someone digging a hole in the sand. I put my book down and listened. It was indeed someone digging in the sand. Portly in her sandbox in the closet. Nothing to be concerned about there. Except that the reason the noise piqued my curiosity was because it had been occurring off and on for a good five minutes. I listened for another minute and then the scratching ended and I thought "Sounded like she was spraying sand all over the hallway. I guess I'll be sweeping that up later."

Then Portly bounded up onto the couch and stuck her face in my book.

"Ugh! Get off! You were just in your bathroom!"

She leapt onto the coffee table and shook her back paws.

Then I noticed it: A large turdlet dangling, like a dingle ball from a bad sombrero. It was the size of a Whopper, with similar coloring.

"Oh Jesus! Chris, the cat has a dingleberry! Get in here and help me get it! Grab her, before she sits down, quick!"

And thus, Operation Extricate Turdlet was executed.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Little Portly has fleas.

My sister and I peeled up all the blankets, towels, couch covers, pillows, sleeping bags, dirty clothes, and other assorted fabrics and piled them on the floor. When we removed the chenille throw from portal's favorite chair by the window, my sister recoiled and made a sound like a startled Holstein.

"What? What is it? Oh wow, there certainly is a lot of blanket fluff on this chair," I said, moving in for a closer look.

"Um, that's not fluff. Notice how it's all wriggling."

That's right. On my beloved chaise lounge there was a solid covering of flea poop and larvae, all waiting for the cat to hop back up on the chair so the buffet could begin.

"Gack! Rackin' frack! Ugh!" Really, mere words cannot convey my disgust. But know that it was(and is) absolute.

I tape rolled the chair. I sprayed the chair with harsh chemicals. I vacuumed the chair. Kristi started the bathwater and loaded up with the flea dip and a pile of rags. I started what would end up being over ten loads of laundry. We dipped Portly. She was not pleased.

"Hold her down, she's making a break for it!" Kristi commanded, a seasoned veteran of flea proceedings.

"She's too slippery, and she just scratched me. Look out, she's going to bite down on your arm!"

"I have to get under her armpits, scrub hard. Use more of that soap. Here, gimme. Pick off those fleas that ran for cover on her face." Like a drill sergeant Kristi let me know what was expected of me. Portly let out pathetic mewling noises and stared up at me with such an intense sense of betrayal that I felt like tearing up.

We rinsed her off and dried her as much as she would let us, and then locked her in the garage, which was okay with her, as she didn't want to be within grabbing distance. I rotated laundry. I vacuumed. I sprayed the furniture. I tape rolled every surface. I flea fogged the house. I did more laundry. Chris vacuumed the house a second time.

"This sucks."


After Portly was dry, we flea combed her every hour, pulling off several bugs in each sitting. We kept a jar of soapy water for the comb, with a roll of paper towels and the lint tape roller on the table. We applied a tube of Advantage to the back of her neck. I was maniacal about the combing, taping every surface that she sat on, checking for flea poop, keeping her locked out of the bedroom.

"Have you combed the cat lately?" I asked Chris, as he made himself some ramen.


"Why not?" I said, defensive about my procedures.

"I just don't think it will do any good."

"Well I think it's better than doing nothing," my hackles were raised, I was going to fight this infestation into extinction if it killed me.

"Maybe so. Here, give her to me."

So Chris combed her while I took a flashlight to the couch and scanned for more forensic evidence, like some sort of rookie cop, wanting to prove myself.

But the fleas don't care.

Die, fleas, die!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

"Hey Chris."


"The sink is still leaking."


I was flipped upside down under the kitchen sink in our newly purchased house, shining a tiny Mag-lite on the plastic piping. A small but persistent flow of water dripped from the elbow joint onto the warped cupboard floor.

The sellers had signed off on a legal document that stated the plumbing in the kitchen no longer leaked, but clearly, just because the law said that it was so, didn't make it so.

It's the week before we move in, and we are both a bit anxious about the change. We also want to make sure that everything works. Which it doesn't. Does it ever?

My sister and I went to Home Depot the next day and passed an aisle with a sign: Sink Repair. I ducked down it, thinking, well, maybe someone would be able to give me an idea about what to do.

A man who was almost completely spherical, wearing Home Depot's signature orange apron sidled up to us. He looked like a piece of tropical fruit. I was holding a kitchen sink basket kit in my hands.

"Hey! I was wondering if you could tell me if these things are easy to replace?"

"Oh, yeah. Just pop out the old one and put the new one in with like, a pinky's worth of plumber's putty around the underside." He demonstrated by holding up a pinky the size of a sausage link.

"Do we need any special tools?" Kristi asked, ever thinking logistically, god-bless her heart.

The man who could have been an orange shrugged a little and pointed to a wall of wrenches.

"You might need something to loosen the old one."

"Well," I began. "The old one isn't really 'old,' it's just not put in there right. Or maybe there's a piece missing. That's why we thought it would be easier to replace it."

"Oh, then yeah, you'll probably be fine."

He handed us a mini-tub of putty and sent us on our way.

When we got back to the house, the sink sneered at us in an anthropomorphic appliance way that to me, signified war.

I dropped a pile of fresh rags under the sink and stuffed myself back in the little opening.

"How do you pop this thing out?" I asked, digging at it with a screwdriver.

"Give me that, moron." Kristi took my place and unscrewed the biggest ring with our hefty new pipe wrench. I grabbed it from her and swung it around, slapped it into my palm.

"Colonel Mustard, in the dining room, with the pipe wrench." I muttered, and thought about how I had never held such a substantial piece of metal before with the capacity to do such damage. Holy crap that thing was heavy.

"Hey! He didn't even use any putty in here! And he left a cardboard ring on top of the rubber seal!" I found that all out the hard way as little soaking globs of caulked cardboard came dripping down my sleeves. I felt pretty tough. I knew what I was talking about here.

We replaced the main drain basket and reconnected the pipes. We turned on the water. No leaks. I checked with the flashlight, waiting for the tell tale beading to occur on the rim of the attachment. After a few minutes, I declared it officially cured.

"The other sink drain is probably the same deal, you know. We should take that one apart too." Kristi wiped her hands on a towel and grimaced at the smaller sink.

We took it apart and restructured it, then squished it into place. I hadn't used as much putty as I thought I might have over done it the first time, so when we turned on the faucet, water slipped in the gap and ran down the pipe.

"Houston, we have a problem."

"Good night!" I said. "I can't do this! I don't know what I'm doing. We don't know what we're doing. This sucks."

"It's okay, you know. We'll just take it apart again and start over. We're following the instructions on the box, and the orange guy told us the same thing. Here." She thrust the putty container into my hands. "Just use more of this."

Once more, we disassembled the drain and built it from scratch. This time I used a sausage link sized snake of putty, just like the orange's finger.

We turned on the faucet and watched the water for several minutes. I flopped down on the floor and shined the light into the darkness.

"Well?" Kristi asked.

"I think we have achieved our projected orbital trajectory!" I exclaimed, and we did a little victory dance in the pile of wet rags.

"Okay, let's not get too excited, we still have to shelf paper the cupboards."


Thanks, Kristi, for helping my first plumbing repair experience not totally suck.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The periodicals room is like a goddamned meat locker. This happens every year. Weather outside starts to become not so drab and depressing, and the air conditioning stomps the inside temp to like, 60. I can see outside into the offices across the street, and beams of sunlight are striking this lady wearing only unnatural fibers, and it's got to feel pretty good to be her right now, being baked in her Banlon shell by the May sun.

The only good thing about the temperature in here right now is this: the cooler it is, the less people smell. When it gets nice and toasty in here on a rainy winter day, this room is packed to capacity with an array of people and their many, many different ideas about what personal hygiene means to them. It's the same thing when you enter a slaughterhouse in the summer. You can actually see the smell. That's why you should only buy your sausage from a reputable dealer who does all the nasty stuff in a cool room.

The other day while Chris and I were slowly navigating through a crowded neighborhood in northwest, we drove past a pigeon fluttering all over itself in the gutter, wing at a painful angle, eyes bugged out.

"Oh!" I said and brought a horrified hand to my mouth. "What do we do?" I looked to Chris for an answer. I turned the corner and swung into a parking space.

"We can't really do anything."

"We have to do something."

"Like what? We could take it home and nurse it back to health. Keep Little Portly from killing it."

"No, I mean, we have to do something."

"What, like snap it's neck?"

I looked around in the car for anything I could use as a weapon. I had an empty Dr. Pepper can, a pile of napkins, a few cracked CD cases, and a fingernail clipper shaped like a ladybug.

"Christ, I didn't mean it. Are you going to get out of the car and kill it?"

Here's the thing: if I would have had my snow shovel in my car, we wouldn't even have had that conversation.

"You don't think I could kill an animal that was suffering?"

"No, I don't think you have it in you." He paused, then smacked his forehead. "Oh right. I forgot, you're a farm girl. Saw lots of animals mutilated and weird stuff."

Not really, but whatever. I just know that I would want some help reaching death if I had been that mangled bird in the gutter. I wouldn't have smacked it with a shovel to be cruel, and I wouldn't have enjoyed it. But I would have done it if it would have stopped the pain.

We drove away without doing anything at all. I thought about the pigeon as I tried to sleep that night. I imagined it poked at by kids with sticks, kicked by jerks, frightened at it's inability to leave the ground. Am I as bad as the kid with the stick? The asshole who dumps a beer over it's head?

I need to get a new snow shovel.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Little Portly, cat extraoridnaire, got kicked out of our bedroom early last night. She had been inserting her little furry body in the spaces between the blinds and then dangling there, causing all manner of disruption, leaping on our faces.

Chris tossed her out, shut the door, and gave her not a second thought.

This morning while on my way to the bathroom, I noticed that the crappy kitchen linoleum looked even more crappy than usual. I looked closer. There were black spots all over the place, smears on the bottom of our bedroom door, and a bottle of India ink rolling around on the floor.

Portly had somehow managed to unscrew the cap enough so that when she batted it around, it left ink trails behind her. Of course she must have tracked through it. How could she not?

Our apartment is being shown tomorrow to prospective new tenants, and last night before the inking, I told Chris it wouldn't take more than an hour or so to clean things and straighten up a little.


Little Portly.

Monday, May 02, 2005

More about the blind hanging fiasco:
On Sunday after work Chris and I schlepped the unopened blinds back to Cost Plus and then raced out to Jantzen Beach to check out some curtains that weren't expensive or dumb. But of course, you can't have both.

While I was freaking out with my pencil and list of windows to cover and adding up sums in my head that might as well have been millions of dollars, Chris did some social research and listened to a woman abuse a sales clerk in the same aisle.

"I drove all day to get here and now you don't have the curtains I need. Can I just take this display model? I drove hours and hours to get here."

I personally wondered why she didn't call first, if she knew what she needed, and clearly, she did.

"Well," the clerk shifted uncomfortably and tried to remain diplomatic. "No, but we can special order whatever you need and have it shipped right to your house."

"That's not the right answer," said the woman who had allegedly driven all day to come to a Portland suburb to buy curtains.

I didn't hear any of this escalating because I was too busy whirling in my own vortex of drama, reeling from the fact that I apparently didn't pay any attention in 5th grade math. I couldn't get the feet to come out in the correct number of inches. Why hadn't I written down the inches as well? They were right on the measuring tape next to each other. Why did I have to make everything so hard?

At ten minutes to close, we grabbed an armful of what we hoped weren't stupid tab panels and some of the cheaper rods and checked out.

"I can cut these in half and sort of pin the extra fabric together to make it work until we get new ones," I chattered happily to myself.

Chris just sighed.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Patriot Act investigation into Chris has been resolved.

A few weeks ago while dealing with the gathering of the dozens of documents to purchase our house, I asked Chris why his address on his ID didn't match our address, or the address of any of his apartments for the last eight years.

"Why should I update it? It's never been important to me before. I hate paperwork."

"Because when you keep your paperwork in order, then you don't ever have to go back and do it over with extra paperwork that happens when you don't keep it together," was my confusing reply.

But we signed all the papers on our house loan and chilled the champagne.

Then our mortgage broker called.

"Angela. We have a slight problem."

Chris' address matched an apartment he had lived in back in 1998. From then on, there was no paper trail leading them to where he is now. Which is with me, while I freak out.

He had to write a letter explaining why he had let his info lapse and provide a list of addresses and dates to satisfy an investigation that falls under the law of the Patriot Act. See, the lender didn't want to fund terrorism. Luckily, the letter sufficed.

"Shit, if I were a criminal of that caliber, I'd have all my paperwork in order all the time. Otherwise, they'd catch me, just like they caught you," I pontificated as we walked towards the bookstore.

"It's totally stupid. I'm just sloppy. I didn't know it would be a big deal. And you told me last week that it would be. Huh." Chris said.

I don't like to be right. At least not when I want to be wrong. Who am I kidding? I love to be right. But not when being right means trouble.

In other news, when we went to hang the blinds that we bought for the whole house, we discovered that they are pretty much see-through. Which defeats the purpose of having blinds in the first place.