cake lover?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

every day is thanksgiving in our house...

i do not like cats. my oldest sister is allergic to cats and cigarette smoke. when we were little and visited my granny trani's house (that had cats in it and uncles who smoked), my sister had to be rushed to the ER on more than one occasion. (why we continued to stay at my g'ma t.'s house after jennie's asthma attacks is beyond me, but i'm sure my parents had a very good reason...).

my parents warned me that if i ever smoked, they would cut off my right arm. they also promised to cut off my left arm if i dyed my hair. i think that was just a scare tactic though. when i did dye my hair blond it turned out so horrible (think school bus yellow) that they must have thought how i looked was punishment enough and they didn't get out their body dismemberer.

but, i never smoked. and i never liked cats. cats and smoke equalled jennie practically dying.

when i was in the peace corps, living in the island nation of kiribati, i discovered something i hated more than cats -- mosquitoes. and also: rats. i could get a cat if jennie was never planning on visiting me there, right? kiribati cats were not snugglers -- they were rat hunters. so i got one. a boy. and i named him sprinkles. "ten tiakurati tamaiti sprinkles suzanne jonathan" to be exact.. *see footnotes for full etymology lesson.
i really wanted to love sprinkles, but he didn't love me. he ended up hanging out at my neighbor's house more than at mine, and then he was brutally murdered by wild dogs. it was a common joke in kiribati to joke about someone's death. when the old lady next door told me that sprinkles was dead when i inquired about his whereabouts, i dismissed her as an old liar (it was perfectly fine to say that to someone's face). when my teacher friend told me later in the day that it was in fact true that sprinkles was dead, school was cancelled for the rest of the day so the boys could dig him a grave and give him a proper burial.

though my heart was bruised, mainly by the callous treatment of the topic of death, i still had the problem of rats. so i got another cat. hazel -- a girl this time. or so i thought. when those teeny little cat balls finally did descend, hazel was re-christened hazelnuts. he didn't like me either.
then i moved in with Mo and met the first cat i ever loved: FRANKLIN. he is the fattest cat with a belly that hangs low to the ground and he has mitten paws (the kind that hemingway loved with an extra toe...). sadly, ella, the 3-legged mini schnauzer does not like cats.

and then we moved (we being ella & i), and then we moved again, and then we had a boyfriend who had a cat and kept the cat litter in the bathroom -- yuck! that relationship never would have worked out for me & ella...
and then we moved again. into a house with two cats whom i have come to love. they are paul's "business partner" andrew's cats. long ago, a very fat calico cat made her way to andrew's doorstop and he began to feed her. she kept hanging around so he decided to keep her. he named her turkey because her markings reminded him of a wild turkey (and i think because he likes to drink bourbon and also because i think it was around thanksgiving time). needless to say, this story goes like many stories of fat cats: the fat cat had kittens. a whole litter of them who were named, fittingly, gravy, cranberry, stuffing, sweet potato, & mashed potato. andrew kept gravy -- a male orange tabby. andrew has since left the house that he and paul built. much to my chagrin (because i hate cats, remember?), he left those damn cats.
and i couldn't be happier. i've learned how to clean kitty litter (that is kept in the basement up high so ella can't eat it like she loves to do, thank you very much). i've learned how to deal with chipmunks, rabbits, birds, & mice in the house (because turkey & gravy like to show off what they've caught). i've frontlined them, & fitted them with the most stylish of collars (which gravy promptly lost). i've bought them catnip toys and i cuddle with them. i get up at 2:30 am when they claw at the sliding glass door wanting attention. and i love them (but shh, don't tell anyone).
and now that we are moving again (we being paul, & sierra, & ella, & i), we will also be taking turkey & gravy with us.

i'm still learning to love cats. my friend eva is helping me -- it's hard to resist her and her main man lex luthor. he's one fancy cat and i'm very thankful for that.

* ten is the kiribati word for boy and is added before a person's name for formality's sake, such as mister. the kiribati word for girl is nei. i was called nei suzanne, or nei miss by my students, which actually translates to "miss miss," go figure. tiakurati is the word for chocolate in kiribati. since the kiribati language has no Ss, "ti" is used for the "s" sound. now sound "tia-ku-ra-ti" out. doesn't it make much more sense? sprinkles was a black cat, so of course he was chocolate sprinkles. sprinkles was a tom cat -- hence the "tomaiti" (thomas, sound it out).  in kiribati, a person's father's first name was their last name, and their grandfather's first name was their next last name. i was suzanne jonathan milton. sprinkles got to be sprinkles suzanne jonathan. actually, if you want to get technical, tutien is the correct way to spell my name in kiribati. blah blah blah.

Friday, March 12, 2010

red carpet, grey couch, green sweatpants...

as always, the ladies of leisure wore our very own stylish pjs and walked our very own berber carpet for oscar's night. we satiated our hungry selves (since we'd been fasting for days to fit into our one-of-a-kind sweats) on leonardo's takeout, homemade chocolate cake, pretzels, chips, chocolate-covered raisins, candy & munchies galore. since we knew the award for best picture would be neck-and-neck between Avatar and The Hurt Locker, margot (an honorary lady of leisure) prepared us two drinks -- a blue avatar cocktail and a hurt locker cocktail. the brownish hurt locker cocktail was supposed to be set on fire, but we were already too buzzed to try something that dangerous -- we're not a bomb squad for pete's sake!
hooray for kathryn bigelow for beating out her philandering ex-husband james cameron. and hooray for the ladies of leisure for staying up past midnight!

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

tea anyone?

my mom is a pretty good knitter. (understatement).

one time i asked her to make me a felted bag. a month later: i had a beautiful felted bag and she had 3 more requests from my friends and sisters.

then i wanted a shawl to keep me warm.

another time i requested hand wristies to keep my fingers warm while i typed at work. she'd never made those before, but that didn't stop her. she even decided to try cable knit. don't think she'd done that before either. those wristies are keeping my hands warm right now as i type.

my next request was for cable knit pink leg warmers for my jazz of the '80s dance class. they were much coveted and pretty much stole the show of our fame performance (overstatement-- i'm not that good of a dancer, even if the leg warmers were stunning).

my mom likes a challenge and i like hot tea. my latest request was for a tea cozy to keep my ceramic tea pot steaming.
the best part about this tea cozy (besides the obvious that it keeps my tea warm and that my mom made it for me with love) is that it is made from bits of yarn leftover from all the projects mom's ever made for me. now that makes me and my tea feel pretty darn cozy.

thanks mom! love you!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


our beloved pepper had to be put to sleep last night. she was over 14 years old. pepper came into our lives long before the dawn of the digital camera, but that didn't stop us from documenting her puppyhood. she was our everything. however cliche it sounds, she truthfully was our pride & joy. i couldn't wait to get home to see her, to walk her, to sing to her, to cuddle with her. 

i remember the day we picked her out. jules and i were playing volleyball with our high school team in gouverneur, NY. it was 1995 -- i was a junior and jules a freshman. i usually sat the bench and wished the game to be finished, and that day was no exception. this time i was eager for the game to end so that we could go see the litter of new mini schnauzer puppies.

we picked pepper out, and struggled with names. i believe chloe and snickers were top-runners, but derek came up with the name that fit her so well.

pepper liked to hide in our garden, stretch out with her long legs (we called her long dog), and take long, luxurious naps.

we posed with her with our prom dates, we dressed her up, we gave her nicknames -- champ (that was the time period that she wore a medal around her neck), shithead (that was the time period when she had a few accidents), pepperdini, pep.

she loved chewing on and ripping apart slippers. one christmas we bought her her very own pair of pink piggy slippers to destroy as she pleased. she was our baby to spoil and love, and we couldn't have been happier.

i'm sure you've all heard this story, but i have to retell it. after pepper was over a year old, mom & dad thought it would be superfun to breed her and have more mini-schnauzer puppies. i was horrified by the thought of my poor, innocent little pepper being molested and raped, and i cried and cried when we dropped her off at the breeders.

she came back a "woman," and she was indeed, "knocked up." i still claim that it changed her -- she was moody and grumpy and snappy, and not the same sweet innocent pepper puppy that she had been. but she was still our pepper.

she gave birth to 6 puppies -- 5 girls and 1 boy. jennie and derek got cocoa (whom they still have and who just ate a whole leftover turkey carcas by standing on the garbage pedal and stealthily removing the remains -- that cost her a night in the ER and jennie & derek an arm and a leg. but really, what wouldn't we do for our animals?). mom and dad kept wilbur, the runt, who pepper one day mistakenly crushed. mom and dad gave him mouth to snout resuscitation and he's been slightly braindead and always hungry ever since.

when i returned from the peace corps after two and a half years of being away, pepper greeted me with howls of happiness. we'd never heard her be so vocal before -- she yelped and yelped at me, as if she was telling me to never ever go away for so long ever again.

at one point, our family had 5 mini-schnauzers. we used to play the "guess the schnauzie" game. one could always tell it was pepper because she licked you immediately.

i said goodbye to pepper when i left malone after christmas a few weeks ago. i had a feeling it might be the last time i saw her. she gave me a lick and i gave her a kiss. she'll always be my best schnauzer girl with 4 legs. i feel sad for me, and i feel sad for wilbur, but most of all i feel sad for my mom and dad. they had her in their everyday lives the longest, and things won't be the same around 23 park street for a little while.

thank you mom and dad for letting pepper into our lives. she taught us how to love and how to care for someone other than ourselves. we will love and miss you forever pep!