What’s in a Name?

Fang and I went on a little buying spree a couple of weeks ago. We bought a sideboard for the kitchen, a china cabinet for the dining area (notice I did NOT call it a “room”), and two tables (one end, one coffee) for the living room. Most of the pieces were purchased from a place called ReStore, which is a thrift store that supports Habitat for Humanity. This place is an “upcyclers” paradise.

With the help of the kind women at a shop called Handpainted by Cookie, the pieces are currently being made ready for their move into the hovel — they’re all being repaired and repainted. For those of you who are gasping at the idea of painting furniture, I say “get over your bad selves”. They’re not Chippendale’s or Duncan Phyfe’s, ladies and gentlemen. They are also, all of them, in some way, shape, or form — much like their owners —“damaged goods”. In my mind there’s nothing wrong with slapping some paint on a thing to make it more presentable. I do it all the time to my face — a little eyeliner and blusher goes a long way, am I right, Ladies? And changing the knobs from a garish gold to an understated nickel? That’s like slipping on a pair of leopard-print flats in lieu of my well-worn Uggs.

This is not a sponsored post, but I have to give a shout-out to Cookie and Lisa over at Handpainted by Cookie. These ladies breathe new life into discarded furniture. They have the ability — and the sawdust under their fingernails to prove it — to find good homes for items that would otherwise be destined for the wood pile. I like that. When I buy something (well, okay, MANY somethings) from them, it feels a little bit like a rescue. People do it for puppies and kittens all the time and are celebrated for it. So, when I do it with furniture, why do I feel maligned? Why do I feel I have to defend my actions?

And I do feel that way. I also feel protective of my acquisitions. As a result, I’ve started to name my “rescues”. The old sewing machine table (with the original AND working treadle!) that I had painted teal? Because the color reminds me of The Little Mermaid, I’ve come to think of her as “Ariel”. I’m not sure what the other pieces will come to be called — I have to live with them a while. You know, get a sense of their characters before I assign them a name. We did that with our cat. Unlike the cat, though, I have every intention of keeping the furniture.

The cat stayed AND he got a name* — one that fits him. I’m thinking something Italian for the side table — because it has a very cool marble top. He kind of seems like maybe he’s a “Rocco”, but time will tell. He may prove to be too regal for “Rocco”. Perhaps he’ll wind up an “Augustus” or even an “Octavian”.

We name all kinds of things up in this joint. My daughter’s car? We call him “Sven” — because he’s Swedish and definitely male — cars equipped with turbo boost engines CANNOT be female. It’s a rule. You can look it up. We toyed with “Bjorn” and “Olaf”, but found the former too sleek and the latter too, well, dull. “Sven the car” is neither sleek nor dull. He’s pretty much a workhorse. “Lars” may have worked, too, as this moniker conjures the same images as “Sven”, but we just liked “Sven” better. So, it stuck.

I’m sure that “Rocco” (or whatever he comes to be called) and “Ariel” will get along nicely — complement each other even. Of course they may need a few more “friends” to round out the decor. I’d really like to find a small rocking chair — she’s got to be perfect, though. She’ll have to be a “Millie” or a “Florence” — a chair that’s seen her fair share of colicky babies or one that spent her former life on a lemonade porch — a chair with some history. I kind of envision her in a pale yellow. Who knows? Maybe she’ll be a “Daisy”.

*Our cat’s name is “Nipper” — because he bites. He’s pretty cute, though.



My “Relaxing” Weekend Off!

file0001456444395I kept fairly calm at work this weekend, which may have been a direct result of not actually having been there either Friday or Saturday evening. There was only one really annoying guy on Sunday night, but I refrained from sticking my foot up his ass (it was difficult, but I managed). Don’t worry though, I found some other things to whine about this fine Monday morning.

I should have felt like the Queen of England, having two unplanned weekend nights off in a row! (We were severely overstaffed and I took full advantage!) I did not, however, engage in any Queen of England-type activities — unless you think Lizzie pops over to the local Ikea, drags (very heavy!) boxes into the car and up the stairs, and then proceeds to spend her Saturday evening hobnobbing with her cat whilst putting together rather large shelving units and waxing freshly painted tables.

I purchased one of those 16-cube Ikea storage units. (Sadly, the 24-unit job won’t fit!) As I laid it out and began to assemble it, the cube-like nature of the beast attracted the other beast that lives in my house — the cat. The second anyone in this house (usually that would be me) commences any sort of project that requires tools and concentration, The Great Fananini emerges from under my daughter’s bed. It’s not in his nature to be unobtrusive, either. He doesn’t just sit there and observe or supervise (generally that’s Fang’s job). The Great Fanganini enjoys getting involved in projects! As I was attempting to put this thing together, to maintain it’s squareness, to insure that the pieces were correctly and securely united, the cat seized the opportunity to jump from one cube to another — like he was having his own personal game of hopscotch.

No amount of “shooing” nor my half-hearted and feeble attempts at engaging him in his other favorite activity — the fetching of hair elastics — could dissuade him from hunkering down in one cube and springing into the next one — not even the use of the rubber mallet. Cats, and The Great Fanganini is no exception, are not big fans of loud noises. Normally, once any sort of banging begins, which includes the opening and closing of a cabinet door, he makes a beeline for the safety and security of his lair. Not this time, though. No. Apparently, so intrigued was he by the cubes that he was able to ignore the noise that the rubber mallet was making as it drove the shelves together.

It would have been fine, really, if he just played his little game in the cubes that had already been assembled. This would have allowed me to at least go about my business. But, no. Instead and because he’s old and tires easily (I can sympathize!) he continually got “stuck” in the cubes. He’s also ginormous. (He outweighs both of my friends little yippy dogs combined!) As a result, I had to keep stopping in order to extricate him from the cube — and then listen to him whine when he couldn’t get back into the next cube. Being the idiot that I am, rather than ignore his pathetic mewling, I “helped” him play his game. This required me to stop what I was doing and “place” him into the next cube. This added an element of difficulty to what was already an annoying enterprise.

Needless to say, construction of the shelf unit took far longer, from start to finish, than it should have. Far longer. By the time I had completed the task, removed the cat, and lifted the foolish thing to an upright position, my daughter was heading off to work. “Wait!”, I cried. “I need you to help me push this stupid thing up against the wall before you go!” From my tone, the ever helpful Fangette knew better than to deny me. She and I pushed it up against the wall — the wall where Fang, prior to skipping out for a weekend down the shore with “the boys”, insists it go.

Of course it doesn’t fit on that wall. Why? Because I have a GIANT treadmill that resides (and operates as a handy “catch-all” for coats, scarves, the odd glove, and other cast-off foul weather gear) on that wall. A treadmill that, if it weren’t for it’s capacity to hold unneeded outerwear, would, I’m certain, be covered in the amount of dust that one would normally associate with the sealed burial sites of long-dead Egyptian Pharoahs.

The presence of the treadmill as a focal point in my living room has been a bone of contention for Fang and I for quite some time. Before the hovel purge and the redecorating began, it was simply an eyesore, but now that things are starting to come together here, it just has to go. (Black plastic and chrome do not lend themselves to my “shabby chic” design scheme!) It needs to find a new home — preferably one not in this zip code. I told Fang that if he didn’t allocate space in his closet (maybe near the golf clubs that he never uses?) for the foolish thing, that the new location might just be his side of the bed — and I don’t just mean adjacent to the bed, in front of his table — I mean ON the actual bed where HE actually sleeps. If I could lift the damn thing and if I could bear to see it resting upon my beautiful toile quilt, I would have done it already. Maybe if I cover it in cubes, I might be able to enlist the cat’s help.

The ever optimistic Fang holds out some small kernel of hope that he will use the treadmill again. He won’t. It’s old and it’s worn out. Even my workout crazed daughter won’t go near it. Fangette claims it barely moves; Fang contends that it just needs a little oil. (I refuse to even comment on whether it might be the dust or a stray mitten that may, in fact, be clogging up the works!) Regardless of its condition, I am finished with it. Even if it were brand spanking new — pristine, even — I would want it gone. Because we do NOT have room for it. (We never did!)

Tomorrow is Fang’s birthday. Guess what I’m getting him? A gym membership! I understand that this is where people who do not have room for home exercise equipment go to stay in shape. (In Fang’s case, that would be pear-shaped.) I hear they have modern, working treadmills at those places. I understand that folks actually use them for, you know, treading — not as we use ours, you know, for storage and dust collecting.

Between the cat, the treadmill, and some of the problems I encountered with “dark wax” — problems that I do not have the wherewithal to get into right now, but let’s just say it has not lent the desired effect to the tables that I have worked long and hard on — I realized something this weekend. It occurred to me that even though I didn’t work and regardless of the fact that my husband and daughter were not even here, I still found a way to become annoyed, to maintain an increased stress level and to engage in manual labor. I have reached the stunning conclusion that, perhaps, it’s not the rest of the world that drives me crazy — perhaps I’m simply wired this way.

photo credit:

Trading one addiction for another!

IkeaI was a little worried that I was becoming addicted to Ikea. And, really, no one wants that. And by no one I mean my husband.

It started innocently enough. I got a loveseat there, but like any gateway drug, the loveseat led, inevitably, to more. The more in this case was a chair. A new television warranted a larger media console (sounds so much better and fancier than television stand, don’t you agree?), which required another trip to Ikea where I left with not only the media console, but also with a couple of free-standing cabinets for the kitchen.

Not unlike children’s birthday parties, redecorating projects can quickly get out of hand. One minute you’re calmly lining up all the kiddies for a nice round of pin the tail on the donkey, the next thing you know, little Shushma is nearly stabbed with the thumbtack that is, well, integral to the game (plus, you didn’t have any Fun tack). Luckily, also integral to the game is the blindfold that, as luck would have it, took the brunt of little Shusma’s near blinding. Who’d have thunk that a recently spun kid, now dizzy from the spinning and armed with a sharp object would become confused and point this same sharp object at her very own eye? Not you, that’s for sure. Naturally, panic ensues and a little party game becomes, to put it mildly, frenzied and chaotic.

Frenzied and chaotic would be excellent adjectives to describe my former decorating style. You know, if it fits, it sits; if it’s free, it’s for me. This philosophy led to many, many mismatched and ugly pieces of furniture over the years. This time, though, I am determined to be different. To take my time. To think things through. To actually make an effort at some kind of style. I’ve chosen Cottage Chic or Shabby Chic, or whatever those design-y folks are calling it these days. I like it’s ease. I like it’s comfort. I like that it’s basically built around the color white, which even I can’t screw up. Although who knew just how many shades of white there are out there? Not me. Not at the outset. Now I know. It’s slightly worrisome, but I’m going to soldier on. I like slipcovers that I can throw in the wash. Although I am, at this very moment, writing this in an effort to delay doing just that. So, what else is new? “What do you mean you didn’t get the pen off the couch cushion today?” “I was writing. Do you think blog posts just materialize? Like pizza? Which, by the way, only appears because I picked up the phone and ordered it. Sheesh!”

I will not even get into how a nearly 17-year-old girl-child got ink on my nearly brand-new white slipcovered Ektorp loveseat or how this almost caused World War III to erupt right here in Northern New Jersey. The point is that I can get it out with a little hairspray and some laundering, which I plan on doing right after I finish writing this post. So, get off my back, wouldja?

That Ikea though, what a place, huh? So clean and organized and well-lit. They kind of make you want to live in those rooms, no doubt while enjoying their equally enticing menu selections — namely, the Swedish meatballs and the cinnamon buns — don’t they? Yup. They do. And I fell prey to their evil genius. I am, after all, a mere mortal in search of affordable white wood-like furniture pieces that I can shabbify with some toile curtains, gingham pillows, and possibly a bit of interesting molding.

To this end I made a list of all of the things that I know the good Lord would want me to have from Ikea. Even Our Lord could not convince Fang to live in a catalog page. He wanted to check out other places that sell furniture. All I can say is “Screw the Lord and Thank Heavens for Fang!” because if my husband had not talked me down from the crazy Ikea branch that I had found myself perched upon, I never would have found my current obsession — a place not far from here called “Handpainted by Cookie”.

Maybe it was the paint fumes, but the minute I walked into this joint I knew I had found a kindred spirit. This woman, along with her handy and affable husband, obtains antiques that would otherwise end up in landfills or spend the rest of their days as chipped wood. They make any necessary minor repairs and provide them with beautiful paint jobs. Oh, and there’s also a dog that greets you at the door. Gotta love a place of business where pets are permitted to roam around.

The actual showroom is small, but delightfully decorated. I fell in love with and ultimately bought a white chalk-painted Art Deco dining table with a pop-up leaf and six gorgeous chairs. I have my eye on a beat up china closet that I spied in the warehouse. I know it will look fetching in a lovely shade of dove gray with white hardware. Even Fang agrees that it’ll work for us, but I am, uncharacteristically, going to wait until I get the table in and situated before I make any hasty decisions.

If it looks this good in a parking lot, can you even imagine what it will look like in my dining area???

If it looks this good in a parking lot, can you even imagine what it will look like in my dining area???

Tomorrow The Redhead and I will head over to “Handpainted by Cookie” and load up Bubba with my new purchases. While I’m there I’m hoping to convince Cookie that she should be on the look out for a French Provincial desk with cabriole legs for the woman who, in the coming months, will become her best customer. Because I need lots of shabby things. Lots.

If you’re sitting there shaking your head and thinking, like Fang, that I’ve just traded one addiction for another, you’d be right. I would, however, make the argument that this tiny slice of heaven located in an unassuming Moonachie, New Jersey warehouse is a far, far better obsession to have than Ikea.

photo credits:
<a href="dining room table ” target=”_blank”>Dining table

Things that are worth holding on to

86 mets photI could fill a very large file cabinet with things that would fall into the category of “seemed like a good idea at the time”. Let’s make that a virtual file cabinet, though, shall we? I’ve spent the last month hauling garbage bags and ugly furniture down the stairs. The last thing I need to be tripping over is a file cabinet filled with bad decisions. Decisions that, by the way, span years and run the gamut from cutting my own hair to driving drunk, from piercing my own ears to buying a white couch, from being unkind to running with the wrong crowd.

For the most part I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made regarding the more important things in my life like, for example, who I married. And that’s a big one. Don’t overestimate the importance of that one, folks. Sure, he gets on my last nerve sometimes, but he comes in handy for things like hooking up HDTV’s. Also, he’s game for tearing up outdated pleather couches armed only with a hammer and a steak knife. He doesn’t bang on about fancy meals, either. That’s a plus. As long as I keep coffee and peanut butter in the house he’s a relatively happy camper.

Insofar as we choose our mates based on qualities that we deemed were important at, in my case, 19 years old (HA!), it’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high. Either I was very smart at 19 (again, HA!) or, more likely, very lucky indeed. What first drew me to him was that he had a car and a job, which, in hindsight, seem like relatively frivolous things. What I came to realize, mostly while riding in that car, was that he laughed a lot and he did so easily, which made being around him enjoyable. He still does, it still is.

The hovel purge has been hard on him. I’ve been hard on him. Let’s just say that there hasn’t been a lot of laughing. This weekend, however, it seems that he (and we) rounded a corner. He actually stopped fighting me and began to embrace the changes that I’ve been trying very hard to make happen here. He even got into the spirit and threw out a couple bags of his own junk; junk that has been clogging up my bedroom for years. I saw him wrestling with whether or not to keep the ’86 Mets World Series official photo. He was on the verge of tossing it when I stopped him. Though I cannot imagine where a framed 8 x 10 photograph of a bunch of guys in orange and blue will fit into my décor, I didn’t have the heart to make him get rid of it.

It seems that some things, even things that are old and outdated, are worth holding on to.

What passes for normal on an ordinary Saturday

ektorploveseatandchaiseI’ve been in a bit of a “I hate everyone and everything” funk of late. This mindset, combined with my new addiction — Candy Crush Saga (damn you Level 91!!!!) — has kept me away from reading (my apologies) and posting for a bit. Also, I’ve been purging the hovel. To be honest I haven’t done much in the way of any actual purging, but I’ve been strategically planning for the purge. (Every good general knows that you don’t go into battle without a plan — and make no mistake about it, ridding myself of twenty years’ worth of junk is akin to a battle!)

Fang and I finally decided on a couch, which is somewhat of a minor miracle given the fact that the last time we bought a couch it took two years for us to come to something resembling an agreement (we didn’t really — he broke me down and I got stuck with the ugly ass thing that currently resides in my living room). Once again I have compromised, but at least this time I’m happier with the compromise. (No leather. No microfiber.) It’s not the gorgeous velvet settee that I had my eye on. Alas, I had to grudgingly admit that while the settee is both beautiful and charming, it’s doesn’t meet our needs.

What does meet our needs? The Ikea Ektorp loveseat with attached chaise. (Pictured above.) In white. That’s right. I’ve decided to become the sort of person who throws caution to the wind (and slipcovers in the wash on a fairly regular basis) and purchase a white couch. It’s the right size. It’s the right price ($499!). Most importantly, we can get it up the stairs without the help of five burly men. It comes in boxes. Boxes! You put it together right where it’s going to live. Conversely, it can be taken apart when either it or this apartment has outlasted it’s usefulness. You’ve gotta love that!

The sticky wicket in all of this “getting my shit together”, throwing stuff away, and trying to live, as Fang likes to say, “like ‘normal’ people” is removing the old couch. (Do you know any normal people? If so, how do they live? I’d really like to know. Fang’s pretty big on being “normal”. Me? Not so much.) What I’d really like to do is to take a chain saw to the goddamn thing, throw it out the window in pieces and be done with it. Apparently that’s not how, according to Fang, “normal” people dispose of unwanted furniture. (Again with the “normal”!) To which I say, “What the fuck is the difference how we get it out of the house? As long as it’s gone, who cares?”

I went so far as to suggest a ceremonial burning. This idea appealed to me until Fangette intelligently pointed out that setting leather and microfiber afire (“who knows what that shit’s made out of?”) might not simply present a health hazard. She seems to think that doing so might also, in fact, be against the law. Normally I’m all for being a law-abiding citizen, but I was willing to make an exception in this case. (Because sometimes you just have to decide to do something just for the fun of it! Nothing says “Fun” quite so much as a fire in the driveway!) In the end, it wasn’t the illegality of the thing that caused me to abandon the idea. I mean, sure, if it is indeed illegal, what’s the worst that could happen? I don’t imagine I’d be thrown in jail. If I did I’d have to make up a better crime than “couch burning” for when my fellow inmates asked me the inevitable “What are you in for?” question. I suppose I could say that I did it as a form of protest. Protesting shoddy workmanship and lack of style might garner more respect from the prison population than the old “it seemed like a good idea at the time” explanation. Of course, the more likely scenario is that I would get slapped with a fine. Ultimately, it wasn’t out of concern for the health and welfare of my neighbors or even the possibility of a fine that deterred me from engaging in a bit of pyromaniacal anarchy. It was the idea that we could find ourselves in the “police blotter” section of the local paper. We live in a small town. Not much happens here. Lots of people have scanners. I know some of these people. They listen to them all day. People who purchase police scanners purely for their entertainment value are nosy Parkers. I daresay a leather and microfiber bonfire on the property of the former PTO President and Board of Education member would be pretty big news.

And I know what’s newsworthy in this town. Because we made it into the “police blotter” section and onto the police scanner several years ago. It’s not something I would care to repeat. We found ourselves at the mercy of what seemed to be a rabid raccoon who had taken up residence atop the grape arbor that was installed above our back door. Not only was this thing wobbly and hissy, it had also managed to gather quite a few large tomatoes from my carefully tended garden. (They were not yet fully ripe, but just try dispensing culinary advice to a rabid raccoon!) When we arrived on the scene, fresh from our trip to the grocery store, there were a large number of neighborhood children running hither and yon on our driveway. It seems our raccoon friend had amassed quite the stack of half-eaten tomatoes and was proceeding to use them as projectiles. He was launching them, in a missile-like fashion, at anyone who dared to breach whatever perimeter he had deemed “safe”.

Not one to let ice cream melt or milk sour on the driveway, I decided to forge ahead. I underestimated the raccoon’s aim. And his agility. And, possibly, his love of tomatoes. As I approached the end of the drive and the beginning of the grape arbor, this creature skittered along the wood and vines and, tomato in hand, proceeded to hang off the top, spit in my face, and plunk a tomato directly onto my head. I found myself eye-to-eye with an armed nocturnal animal in the middle of the day who had, it would seem, decided that our grape arbor was his home and he was going to defend it at all costs.

I would like to tell you that like a mama bear protecting her cubs I hissed right back at him. I would like to tell you that I took a stand. I did not. Sensing that there might be real danger with a run-in involving a clearly deranged woodland creature, I ran. In the opposite direction. I did so screaming like a girl while flinging the bag containing the milk and the ice cream directly into the garden where once there had been a plethora of nearly-ripe tomatoes and where now stood nothing but mangled vines.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that raccoons, much like their human counterparts, enjoy dessert. Well, as it turns out, they do. Following a large feast, raccoons too get a hankering for a nice, sugary dessert and a couple of gulps of milk. Yup. Spying the ice cream, which was at this point hanging out of the grocery bag in the middle of what used to be my garden, he scurried down the arbor, grabbed the container and opened it with his claws (which was pretty impressive, I have to say). He then stuck his face in it. (Raccoons, not unlike the majority of my customers, aren’t all that concerned with table manners!) After he had polished off a good bit of the ice cream, he spied the jug of milk. In yet another show of speed and agility, he grabbed the milk by the handle (!) and scampered back up the grape arbor. With refreshment in hand he, once again, took up residence aside his stockpile of ammunition and pried the top of the milk jug open with his teeth. And then he drank it. Like any teenager on a midnight raid of the fridge, he didn’t bother with a glass. The kids, Fangette included, thought this was hysterical. I, on the other hand, couldn’t help but think that the presence of a rabid raccoon hopped up on sugar, guarding my back door, was not going to come to a good end.

I toyed with the idea of making a path to the bushes with some crumbled up chopped meat, but my husband, whose cheapness nearly always outweighs the safety of his family (he wasn’t the one who rushed the back door, just in case you didn’t notice), admonished me by screaming, “No! He already drank the milk, ate the ice cream, and decimated the tomatoes!” (I’m giving Fang a much better vocabulary than he actually has. I’m fairly certain he did not say “decimated”. I’m actually pretty sure that, even at gunpoint, he wouldn’t be able to define the word “decimated”. To be fair, he could probably work it out in context. He is cute, though. And he’s nice. He’s been a good husband and a great father. Life is full of trade-offs.)

Instead of fishing out the ground beef from the grocery bags, I found myself engaged in a “what normal people would do” argument with Fang. I wanted to try luring Mr. Raccoon with some raw meat, he wanted me to call the police. Far be it for me to stand in the way of our being “normal”. I called the police. They advised me to call Animal Control. They even, very helpfully, gave me the number. The problem with Animal Control is that they only control animals during business hours. Business hours, as you all know, are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. So, if you are lucky enough to notice that you have a rabid raccoon in your yard on, say, a Wednesday at 10 a.m., the folks at Animal Control will probably be of some help to you. The Fanganini’s have no such luck. The “raccoon incident” (as we have come to refer to it) occurred on a Saturday afternoon.

So. There we were. Engaging in a battle of wits with a raccoon. And the raccoon was winning. Of course.

Again, I wanted to lure the critter with some meat, but my husband convinced me that “normal” people would just leave this sort of thing to the professionals and convinced me to give the police a call back. I explained the problem with Animal Control and added, for emphasis, that I was unwilling to live in the car until Animal Control arrived at HQ on Monday morning at 9 a.m. The dispatcher seemed reluctant to send an officer out on a raccoon errand. So, I told him that, on second thought, we could probably just remain in the car as we had just returned from the grocery store. So, we had enough food. I asked him to send someone with a can opener, plastic cutlery, and some paper cups and plates. I advised him that if we got those things, we could hunker down until either Animal Control was available or the raccoon skedaddled, whichever came first. He sent an officer. We’ll call him “Mike”. (Mainly because that’s his name.)

Mike didn’t have paper goods or a can opener when he arrived on the scene. What he did have was a theory. Oh, and a gun.

He put forth the theory that we had a pregnant raccoon on our hands, not, as I had suspected, a rabid raccoon. I had known Mike, at this point, for several years. As I said, this is a small town. Everybody knows everybody. Mike is a sweetheart. And he will strike you as such upon meeting him. He’s the nice officer that stops you for having a taillight out and let’s you go with a warning even though you’ve got an overdue inspection sticker. Mike’s a gem, but he wouldn’t strike you as the sharpest tack in the box, nor, upon meeting him, would you think, “Now, there’s a guy who’s probably well-schooled in animal husbandry!” Mike, however, was married to his pregnant raccoon theory. (I think it was more about the amount of paperwork that might be required if, in fact, the raccoon turned out to be rabid. Who needs all that pesky paperwork at the end of a long shift?) While my own knowledge of animal behavior is limited at best, I was fairly certain that no normally nocturnal creature would be reeling and hissing on top of my grape arbor in the middle of the day because it was hungry. Or pregnant. I’m not sure why, exactly, Mike decided the coon was pregnant. We never got to that.

Because the next thing I knew, Mike was unholstering his gun. On my driveway. On a Saturday afternoon. In front of what can best be described as a growing number of onlookers, most of whom were children. Young children. Including my own young child. Before I could stop him, I heard the gun go off. In my driveway. On a Saturday afternoon. In front of young children. I nearly had a heart attack. Fang and I were, simply put, astonished. The raccoon, however, was unfazed. Before I could properly flip out on Mike for shooting at (and, thank God, for missing) the foolish raccoon, he looked at me and said, “Blanks”. Just like that. “Blanks.” Okay. But only he knew that. And the kids? They had no idea what blanks were. Plus, they were all screaming and running for their lives.

After coaxing the children out of the various hiding spots they had retreated to following the onslaught of gunfire, I reassured them that the gun was only for making noise, not for killing anything (or anybody). Holy shit.

I think it was at this point that Mike suggested that I clear the children from the yard so that he could actually shoot the raccoon (while he wouldn’t admit to it, I think he was beginning to buy into my rabid raccoon theory). My response was something like, “Are you crazy? No matter where I put the children, for their own safety, how would I explain the presence of a bloody, lifeless raccoon on the patio? I think they’d put two and two together.” A brief and civilized discussion ensued regarding alternative methods of raccoon removal. He didn’t have access to nor did he know how to operate a tranquilizer gun. So, that was out. He was too far away for a Taser to be of any use. To his credit, he actually tested the Taser theory, but was scared off by the raccoon’s display of hissing and spitting. Mike scored points for trying there. Other approaches were considered. (I liked the idea of using the garden hose, but was voted down.) One of the older children helpfully suggested tear gas. (Alas! Mike was without his riot gear.)

I felt it was the right time to revisit the chopped meat solution. And so it began. Three grown adults balling up wads of hamburger meat and throwing them at a stupid raccoon who, by the way, had excellent eye-hand coordination. He didn’t miss a morsel, God bless him. Once he showed an interest in the tasty raw meat treats, we began to line up the crudely fashioned meatballs in a path that led to the bushes. He went for it. Without the shedding of any raccoon blood, we managed to extricate our furry friend from the grape arbor. I cleaned up the garden, sent my husband back to the grocery store, and thanked God that I was not “normal” people. The so-called “normal” person, the professional that my husband insisted we involve, wanted to employ the use of firearms to solve the raccoon problem. Thanks anyway, but if that’s normal, I’ll stick to being abnormal!

Alas! We’re Not Those Sort of People!


This is my version of the dangling carrot. It’s my motivation to achieve the “purge everything in the hovel” goal I  have set for myself.

We are not really orange velvet couch sort of people. That being said. I love this couch. And it’s not really orange. It’s something called “Sunshine”. Truth be told, it’s really a settee, which, I guess, is just a fancier way of saying loveseat. I can’t imagine telling someone to  “have a seat on the settee and I’ll be right with you.” (Nor can I imagine a scenario in which I’d have to “be right with” someone in my living room — but these are the things I think about when furniture shopping.) So,  I’ll just call it a loveseat because insofar as we are not orange couch sort of people, we are really NOT “Sunshine Settee” sort of people.

I’m not married to the “sunshine” option.  It also comes in purple, turquoise, and olive. Oh, and gray, which they call “elephant”. So, we’ll probably settle for the gray, which I will call “elephant”,  because, well, it just sounds better than “gray”, don’t you think? Also, anyone who knows anything about us knows that “elephant” is really more in keeping with who we are than “sunshine”. Yeah. We’re definitely more “elephant” than “sunshine” sort of people.


Of course, unless I can come up with a wicked austerity plan (one that Fang and Fangette can also agree upon), which may include not eating on a daily basis, there’s a good chance that I’ll never get it at all. Unless it goes on sale. Big sale. Because it’s over $1500. Certainly we are NOT “$1500 Elephant Settee” sort of people.  Although, if we cut out the daily meals, all three of us could, presumably, fit on the settee at the same time. Bonus!

Photo credit: couch.com