February 8, 2007 · head cheese horrors

the other day i was standing in front of my bedroom mirror applying deliciously pink lipstick from a silvery tube, thinking pretty make-up thoughts, when I experienced a sudden and strange memory having to do with homemade headcheese. I have no idea how I arrived there, which in and of itself is kind of odd. With a little determination and thought, I can usually track back and map out how I arrive at the startling thoughts I sometimes have and the monster leaps I make to get from say oranges to the mating habits of Abominable Snowmen.

For example: Oranges leads to thoughts of other tropical fruit, such as pineapple. Pineapple leads to thoughts of ham and golden juicy rings. Rings leads to images of Saturn which prompts consideration of planetary ring composition. Saturn’s rings, as I understand it, are comprised primarily of ice crystals. Ice crystals equals ice storms, great gale-ing blizzards of ice out of which emerges the fearsomely shaggy shapes of Yeti aka Abominable Snowmen. Which makes me think that shouldn’t it be Abominable SnowPEOPLE as surely some of them must be of the female persuasion? Or mayhaps not. Mayhaps this is why they are so excruciatingly scarce.

It also makes me think about how dearly I would love to call someone “Abominable” in a fit of pique. Say the next time someone cuts me off in traffic or runs over my toes in the supermarket. But sadly, I probably never will. Number one, I can never think of any words more substantial than the four letter variety when I am side swiped by rage. And number two, I just can’t pronounce that word for some reason. Really. I just can’t. I’ve even practiced along with the online Merriam-Webster pronuciation thingie, and I just can’t get it out right. It gets all muddled around my tongue and extra Bs come out from behind my molars and insist on being put in line there somewhere and it’s just really really sad. Know what else is sad (really, really sad)? Head cheese.

Do you know what head cheese is? It’s completely gross. Prepare yourself: (from Answers.com) Head Cheese is not a cheese at all, but a sausage made from the meaty bits of the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow) that are seasoned, combined with a gelatinous meat broth and cooked in a mold. When cool, the sausage is unmolded and thinly sliced. It’s usually eaten at room temperature. Head cheese can be purchased in delicatessens and many supermarkets. In England this sausage is referred to as brawn, and in France it’s called fromage de tête–”cheese of head.”

Isn’t that revolting? Did your stomach just flip and start staggering toward the bathroom? Mine did.

Okay, so before you are forced to turn away, gulping into your palm, this is my memory: It begins with my Granny Malakoff’s Siamese cat, Claude. Claude loathed children. All my Gran’s cats did. One, a big white Persian tom named Mosche with chewed off ears and a particular hate for ALL-things-not-Granny, used to hide under the television and run out and bite my brother and me in the face as we sat watching Sesame Street. A big mean unprovoked blur of white darting out like an angry fork of lightening to chomp our cheeks whilst we blithely sang along with Grover.

Now, I have no memory of Claude (Mosche’s successor) biting us, but he did hiss and arch over with disgust whenever we attempted to pet him or walk any where in his line of sight. Still, Claude fascinated me. He was sleek and carmel colored with lovely gray tips and a cunning black mask framing his almond shaped blue eyes and he moved low to the ground, making hardly a sound. His pointed little face conveyed such disdain, but such intelligence. And he loved to hang out in the basement storage space, curled atop the wheezing old freezer unit, purring his sleek, luxurious, imperious, mercurial contentment.

The basement storage area was dark and narrow and most certainly haunted. Only the sleek temptation of Claude could lure me down there. In the basement, giant dusty jars of canned peaches and plums peeled and flaked with bland malevolence, dull gold and burgundy globes bobbing in the squalor light of a single swinging bulb like freak specimens in formaldehyde. In the basement, old vinyl Hot Wheels tracks flopped out of boxes like dead orange snakes and broken, alien-looking appliances menaced from every corner. In the basement, you had to move carefully between the towering boxes of junk, lest you start some kind of carnivorous avalanche that would swallow you whole. The place smelled of rotting onions and the dust motes shifted and lifted in clouds that took on startling shapes in the dim, shapes with screaming maws and clenching claws.

But if you could brave all that, if you could brave it all quietly without disturbing Claude atop his electric perch, and catch him up there, blissed out and sedated from the heat emanating off the freezer unit, he would actually let you pet him a little, stroke two fingers between his ears, tickle under his chin. And if you were really lucky, he might even let you pick him up. He might even continue to purr and knead his little pink padded paws against your shoulder. He might let the whole length of him be cradled in your arms like a baby, his almond eyes squeezed shut, slanting up like he was smiling.

The trick was getting him down from atop the freezer without jostling him too much. The best way was to climb onto the low bench pressed against the matching wooden table with its worn turquoise paint job, then step onto the table, pressing as close to the neighbouring freezer as possible and gently scoop him toward you softly murmuring “pretty kitty, pretty kitty” until you managed to slide him into your lap. Then you sat still, crosslegged, crooning “pretty kitty, pretty kitty”, cradling Claude carefully, listening for any interruption in the purring which would signal an abrupt shift in temperament and a sure sign that he was about to spring away from you, legs pinwheeling wildly, claws exposed and slicing.

So this is the memory I had whilst applying my lipstick, so vivid I had to blink several times to make sure it was not actually happening right then: I’m in my grandmother’s basement, standing on the table with Claude draped over my shoulder having successfully managed to slide him off the freezer. I am stroking him while I stare out the tiny frost blasted window (one of those that almost butt against the ceiling), admiring the thick paisley shapes and stars that have developed. I am wearing my snowpants, the overall bib undone and falling over my knees. It crinkles and swishes every time I move. I’m also wearing a burnt orange turtleneck under a brown zip front jacket with a wide matching orange zipper. It has a large orange rounded flower appliqued over the half of it, one of those simple bubbled up 70’s style flowers, very Brady Bunch. It is one of my favourite outfits. I have a matching skirt and pants that go with it. The skirt also has a flower patch. The pants, sadly, do not.

Upstairs, I can just make out the sound of Coronation Street on the television. My grandma and my brother are up there watching, Scott half-dressed for his hockey practice which he has in a bit. It is a teacher in service day. My mom is a teacher so we spent the day at Grandma’s. I am waiting for my mother to arrive, any minute. And suddenly she does… a shadow crosses the window and our old Ford pulls into the driveway. I can hear the tires as they make that particular heavy squeak across the snow and stop. My mom leaves the car running, and big plumes of exhaust make soft shapes just beyond the frosted glass, filling the window well.

Claude freaks when he hears the car door slam, twists sharply on my shoulder and shoots away, mad and scrambling. It startles me, though I suppose I should have anticipated it, and I let out a scream. I step back on the table and my foot bangs against the corner of a low, flat, tea cloth covered silver pan which promptly collides with its twin right next to it. The twin immediately topples over the edge of the table, rapping smartly on the bench tucked partly underneath before clattering to the concrete floor. The sound is alarming. The sight I see when I peer down is even more alarming.

Everything is splattered with some kind of horrific, jiggling gore, the floor, the bench. Meaty pinkish globules glisten amongst thick greyed chunks of… of… something! Everything is thickly coated with some awful oozing jelly, lumpen and gross. A smear of it shines on my snow pants.

I have no idea what it is… I thought the tea cloth covered pans were full of rising cinnamon buns. This is what the tea cloth covered pans usually contain in my grandma’s house, yeasty bubbles of cinnamon buns, though admittedly I usually see these pans sitting on the kitchen table. My mind reels as I stare at the gore and the disturbing but improbable thought that the gore is squashed cat shouts in my head though I distinctly saw Claude shoot through the dim and up the stairs. And I scream. I scream bloody murder, I scream the house down, I scream for all the cats that have ever been squashed by tea cloth covered pans. I scream for every little girl that has ever been splattered with squashed cat horror. I scream good and loud and long.

What happens next, I don’t remember exactly. I do remember my mother standing there, looking up at me on the table, her long hair like glossy auburn wings around her face. There is still snow on the fox fur collar of her rust colored coat. It cinches neatly at her tiny waist and I know she is wearing her knee high brown leather boots with the cunning little brass buckles and top stitching.

And I hear her in my head saying “It’s not the cat! It’s grandpa’s head cheese ” in that pinched way she has when I’ve done something irritating and stupid.

This news is bewildering and more terrifying yet. Grandpa’s head cheese?!! I am completely aghast, staring at the smear of my leg, convinced I am wearing my grandfather’s brain matter and I think I might just faint dead away. Because I have never heard of head cheese before and the image I have in my head is of my grandfather seated at the kitchen table, the cap of his skull sliced clean off and placed on the table next to him, his thick black framed glasses still perched on his nose, while my grandmother ladles the gelatinous contents of his cauldron-like head into a silver pan and covers it carefully with a laundry-worn tea towel.

I’m sure at some point later, the concept of head cheese was explained to me. Not that the reality of head cheese is that much more comforting than my imaginings of head cheese, or that it will ever eclipse the awful image I had of the ladle dipping into my grandpa’s soupy head. You can rest assured I will never ever, ever NEVER partake of the stuff myself. The thought of it sends me gagging (you have no idea how hard this last bit has been to write. I am battling the urge to embrace the porcelain prince right now, in fact).

But I haven’t thought about that in years and years and I have no idea what triggered it. Now, that i’ve shared it all with you, I’m hoping it will vanish again… swiftly. ‘Cuz I think it’s like one of those ear worms someone willfully plants in your ear… you have to pass it on to someone else before you can escape the circling misery of it yourself. Copacabana is the absolute worst… her name was Lola, she was a showgirl, with yellow feathers in her hair and her dress cut down to there….

P.S. On the off chance that this post has left you yearning for head cheese, I offer you this incredible chance to possess a great and gruesome slice of virtual head cheese and use it as your desktop pattern: Lunchmeat Backgrounds

P.P.S. Yeah, I know. I’m sorry. I really, really am. On all fronts. Truly. Forgive me?

16 Comments so far
January 9, 2007 · phoenix rising

Hello and no… despite evidence to the contrary, I have not fallen off the edge of the earth. Although I was nearly devoured by wolves earlier today. And by wolves, i mean coyotes and by nearly devoured I mean glared at and generally ignored, but you know, close enough.

Such a strange winterless winter we are having here. No snow, the temperature rarely dipping below freezing, the skies constantly shifting from azure and spring-like to wet and wild to mopey and grey. The grey predominates. The local news is rife with reports of bewildered beasties burning off their winter fat stores much too soon, of apple blossoms bursting forth in January, warnings about the rampant breeding of mice and rats and wasps.

Today, the park seemed full of great anticipation, as if it was about to storm. But only the flimsiest of flurries is forecast for tonight. The possibility of real snow is no where to be found. Finny and I were wandering about looking for deer as is pretty much a daily habit. I was bent down in a nest of leathery oak leaves, inspecting the parchment carcass of something big and beetleshaped (do beetles molt? It was the strangest thing… completely hollow, dry and brittle, like a husk made of onion skins, a perfectly articulated mould of a fat round beetle) when Finny made a sudden dash toward the yellow tipped shrubs. I stood up expecting to see the white brush of deer tail hopping delicately but instead I caught the sinister sooty shape of a large coyote evaporating into the scrub.

I hissed Finny’s name and she wheeled around immediately, coming instantly to my side. I leashed her up and we stood there, panting slightly, listening to the saber rattle of skeletal trees in the wind. Another shadow slithered through the saplings to my left, not far away, and we saw two more coyotes eyeing us with a kind of bored yellow menace. One paused, blinked and scratched itself against a tree trunk. The other smacked its lips, looked away, and crouched low, sniffing the air. Then they both slunk away, weaving soundlessly between the narrow saplings. As if disappointed. As if they found us excruciatingly dull.

I wasn’t really scared, but the sight of them made my heart pound faster. I wonder if we had interrupted them in the midst of a hunt. I wonder where they live and whether they have a den nearby. I wonder if the pungent, musky-urine smell stinging in the air was a scent they had deliberately left behind to mark their territory. Or perhaps that’s the smell of deer? I don’t know, but it was thrilling.

You’re probably hoping the events that prevented me from updating this journal were/are thrilling too, but sorry to say, you’d be wrong. The new year has begun slowly for me. I feel as if I have just woken from a long slumber, like I’m still rubbing my eyes and blinking mutely, feeling around in the not quite light of it for what I’m going to wear. December was so incredibly busy and full and the holidays clipped by at such tremendous speed, that the moment my parents left, the three of us collapsed on the bed and essentially didn’t move for three whole days. It was lovely and dreadfully indulgent and I devoured two mighty tomes of literature (Fingersmith by Sarah Waters which is a thumping great read, all dark and gothic and teeming with dangerous Victorian characters plus I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith which was delicious and wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, all light and crisp and golden and is now one of my all time fave books EVAH!) and consumed all things chocolate and sinful and about forty bowls of oatmeal with raisins. When on the third day, I rose again… my limbs felt creaky and heavy with disuse.

Gearing up again has been an effort. My motor is revving, but I’m still in the driveway, still rooting around in the glove compartment for the map, still trying to determine my route. But I feel good about 2007. I feel completely confident that wherever it takes me, it will be exactly where I want to be.

So here’s me waving a turqoise scarf out the window, yelling “Happy New Year, my lovelies!” and not caring how stupid that sounds nine days into it!

11 Comments so far
November 29, 2006 · bedtime stories

A couple weeks ago. I bought a little bottle of Somnea Bedroom Mist from Fruits & Passion restfully titled “Essence of Dreams”. All tucked up in bed later that night, I pulled it out of my bedside table drawer and gesturing with the spray bottle, I motioned to Johnny Snoozefest to lift his pillow.

“Ack!” he shrieked. “What is that?!!”

Me: It’s bedroom mist. Lift your pillow.

He: (flailing his limbs defensively) Don’t spray me in the eyes! Ack! Ack!

Me: (rolling eyes) I’m not going to spray it in your eyes. It’s bedroom mist, not bedroom mace.

He: (eyeing me distrustfully) But what’s it for?

Me: It’s suppose to help you sleep better. It has essential oils. Look, it’s Essence of Dreams.

He: (snatching the bottle from me and reading from the label with archly raised eyebrows) The active fragrance of this mist combines the relaxing properties of Siam benzoin and sandalwood and lavendar essential oils to create ambience that’s highly condusive to your restful sleep…

Me: (smugly) that’s right. Restful abience. Says so right on the label.

He: Yeah, but it also says Siam Benzoin. What’s that? That can’t be good for you. It sounds all toxic. Like one of those chemicals that causes the evacuation of small towns and class action suits when a truckload of it overturns on the highway.

Me: (not willing to admit I have no clue what Siam Benzoin is) It’s not toxic. It’s restful. Sandalwood…mmmm. Restful! Essence of Lavendar…ooohh, my eyes are getting heavy! ooo.. essence of dreams, so nice!

dramatic pause while he blinks at me in that worried fashion that clearly indicates he is contemplating calling his brother the pharmacist and pressing him into immediately securing some kind of major medication to ward off the mental illness that has obviously seized me

Me: (exasperated) Just lift your damn pillow and let me spray this stuff so we can go to sleep!

He: (grudgingly lifting his pillow) Okay, but I really think the bedroom mist marketing geniuses made a mistake leading off with the benzonoid chemical crap.

Editor’s Note: he totally has a point there. I googled Siam benzoin the next day and it is apparently “a modern herbal with an agreeable odor recalling the scent of vanilla”, but it does sound kinda alarming and toxic. I think leading off with the lavendar and the sandalwood would have been more enticing.

But the next night, Johnny obliging lifted his pillow for his nightly mist without a word of complaint and by the third night, the little bottle of bedroom mist was residing in HIS nightstand drawer and he was doing the misting. It’s totally become our nightly ritual, the spritzing of the pillows and the grateful inhaling of restful ambience, ranking right up there with Finny’s midnight snack (three pieces of kibble which you better have on hand before you attempt to cajole her off your pillow and to the foot of the bed otherwise there is no way you are gaining access to your spot).

But up until last night, it was a completely silent ritual with no commentary from either of us. It was all bribe the dog, scoot into bed, switch the channel to Jon Stewart, lift the pillow, mist, mist and good night.

But last night as I lay blinking at the ceiling (Jon Stewart was in commercial) it suddenly occurred to me that Johnny Reluctant was totally enamoured with the bedroom ambience.

Me: Wow, you really love that stuff, huh?

He: (largely asleep) huh?

Me: the bedroom mist. You love it.

He: It’s okay.

Me: No, no you LOVE it! You have totally taken over the misting duties. You’re all about the misting! And after all that moaning and groaning and scoffing.

He: I did not moan and groan and scoff.

Me: You did! You were all Scoffy McScofferson. You were Sir Scoffsalot. You were all like “Toxic! eww eww! Don’t spray it in my eyes!!! eww eww!” (in shrill girly tones)

He: I was not like “eww eww!”

Me: You were too! You were totally shrieking.

He: I do NOT shriek, thank you very much.

Me: You were totally shrieking! Like a leeeeeetle girl!

He: yeah, right. Whatever. Go to sleep.

Me: Admit it! You like it! You like the bedroom mist! You love the bedroom mist!

He: It’s okay. I like it fine.

Me: No! You LOVE it! You totally love it!

He: It’s nice.

Me: Nice? Nice?!! I hate that word. You can do better. Tell me why you love it. Tell me! Tell me a bedtime story about the bedroom mist and how you love it.

Ed. Note: yeah, I know. So annoying. I can be just so annoying. I am particularly annoying when I’m all hopped up on accidentally imbibed caffiene and I know that I’m annoying you

He: (punching his pillow, knowing the only way out of this is thru it) Yeah, yeah … look, it’s nice. It’s good. I like to go to sleep in nice smells. Now go to sleep.

Me: No, tell me more! I want more! Tell me the whole story! Why specifically do you like the bedroom mist!

He: sighhhhh. You’re not tired, are you?

Me: Nope. Tell me!

He: What do you want me to tell you? I have no stories to tell you about my appreciation of the bedroom mist. There are no stories to tell. It’s nice. It works. I like it. End of story.

Me: Then make something up. You can do it, Duffy Moon! Make up a story.

silence. more pillow puching. And my hand rocking his shoulder, insistent.

He: sigh
He: moan
He: grumble

Me: Tell me!

He: okay, okay. It reminds me of when I was a boy. in England. And I would fall asleep in the heather. And winds would blow. From the moors. The smell of heather in the moors. And Heathcliff. Out there. Wandering. Staggering. Drunk. Again. Hhhhheeeeeeaaaaathcliffffff…fff…ff…(tapering off to a thin ghostly wail)

I laughed for ten minutes straight. It might be one of those things that you would have to have heard to get completely, but it was HIGH-larious. Trust me. I still laugh out loud whenever I think of it and I’m not a laugh out loud laugher in general. I’m one of those freakish interior laughers.

Funnier still, is when I got up to go to the bathroom twenty minutes later (after I assumed that Johnny Stories had drifted off to sleep) and got back into bed, a very faint “Hhhhheathclifffff) drifted up from the prone form next to me.

10 Comments so far
October 24, 2006 · Tick Talk

Warning: This entry is NOT for the squeamish. Consider yourself duly warned.

Wow, okay. The world. It’s an amazing, intricate, phenomenal thing. On that, I’m sure we all agree. It’s filled with blooms and blossoms and acorns and seashells and puppies and butterflies and strawberries and all sorts of things that are spangly and delightful. But egad! Its got a ghastly side too. And lately, it’s the ghastlyness has been gnawing at the House of Wee. Or rather, ON the inhabitants of the House of Wee.

Johnny Quivers was the first victim. At about four a.m. on Saturday, I woke to find him sitting bolt upright, clawing at the bedcovers. This is a thing that happens sometimes. Johnny Twitch is prone to the most freaksome of nightmares… nightmares about decapitated heads floating in seas of fire and mysteriously animated and venegeful dolls and stuff. And every once in a blue moon, I wake to muffled shrieks coming from his prone form and have to gently nudge him into wakefulness, then mercilessly pry the details of his gore infested dreams from him. I figure that’s my duty as a loving wife and relentless busybody.

But as it turns out, on Saturday night, the nightmare was real. He was covered in scarlet bites of some sort, swelling rapidly across his leg, wrist and arm. He promptly dislodged the wolf and me from the bed, sending the pair of us stumbling and snorting to the living room where we collapsed on the couch and tried to continue sleeping whilst (whilst) Johnny Bitterbites stomped up and down the stairs, hauling not just the sheets, but the pillows and the duvet cover to the laundry. Took three loads total and a whole lotta stamping and cursing apparently.

I figured it was a flea. Years ago, when Finny J. was but a puppy, we had a similar situation where Johnny TwiceShy was attacked by a flea. As far as we could determine it was a single flea… just one. Hardly an infestation, although he did have multiple bites. Apparently, as luck would have it, I’m not allergic to flea bites… or maybe I’m just not as sweet as he is. Whatever the case, I had no bites whatsoever. None. But Johnny was covered. So we stripped the bed and set off a flea bomb (although I really thought that was overkill as we only found one measly flea after many MANY exhaustive searches of the entire bedroom, its’ every nook and cranny) and that seemed to get rid of the problem. For months afterward though, I would lay in bed thinking about all the toxins my mattress must have absorbed and wondering if they were slowly seeping into my system, stamping out all my good braincells.

So that’s what I figured was going on this time round too. More flea fun. Around 6:30-ish, the guilt of it all finally got to me and I roused myself from the cold comfort of the couch to go see how the room inspection was progressing upstairs.

I found Johnny Redspots combing over the seams of the mattress, all bent and disturbingly Gollum-esque.

“What’s the verdict?” I asked, ruefully scrubbing at the horrific crick in my neck.

“All I found in the bed was a spider… one of those little black hopping spiders.”

Um… okay. Ewwwwwwwwwww. I hate spiders. I really do. The thought that one was not only feasting on the body next to me, but was hopping around joyfully whilst (whilst!) doing it was almost to much to bear. He swears it was only one spider and that he corralled it and took it outside and I hope he’s right. And I really, really, REALLY hope that spider didn’t leave behind any hoppy little babies. Even now, my mind can hardly go there. Ewwww. Shiver, shiver.

So anyway, that was Saturday.

Last night, whilst petting the pup, I found a tick on Finny’s haunch, all swollen and pea soup green. Although this is the first time that we have ever found a tick on her, I’m all too familiar with ticks from my childhood growing up on a lake in Great Woods of Wisconsin. We were constantly finding ticks on our collie and on ourselves, but the worst story belongs to my brother, Scott.

One summer day, when I was about 12 and Scott was 9 or 10 (he’s not quite two years younger than me), my mom and I were in the kitchen making lunch when we heard this blood curdling scream and Scott came flapping out of the bathroom with his bathingsuit around his ankles, clutching his boy bits. My mom literally dropped everything and shrieking for my dad, shoved him into the bedroom. Over the next hour, much shrieking and cursing and crying was heard from that bedroom, and finally my parents emerged, shaking their heads, followed by my redfaced, much chastised little brother.

This is the jist of what happened: See, we lived on a lakefront property and in the summer, from pretty much the moment we woke up to the moment we had to go to bed, Scott and I lived in the water. We’d literally open our eyes, spring from our beds, change into our bathing suits and go running down to the beach, leaping off the dock for a pre-breakfast swim. Apparently, Scott, in all his nine-year-old wisdom, decided that underwear was pretty much unneccessary and that his swim trunks were a much better solution to the whole undergarmet thing. After all, they were waterproof and given that we were swimming pretty much around the clock, how dirty could they possibly be? And they fit well enough under his regular clothing, right? And further, he decided that since swim trunks were all about getting wet anyway, there was no need to remove them when he showered. And that whole changing bit before we ran down to the beach and dove off the end of the dock? So very bothersome and time consuming. So for at least a week, he didn’t remove his bathing suit even once. Not even once. Not to shower, not to sleep, and certainly not to swim.

But unbeknowst to him, six or seven blood thirsty wood ticks had taken up residence in the tender creases of his legs and had been roosting there in his warm little nethers, getting all fat with blood, until that fateful moment mid-tinkle when he felt something unusual clinging around down under.

I KNOW! I KNOW!!! It’s a wonder he ever recovered to become a normal boy again!!! One would think he would be scarred for life! But no… apparently not. My bro is a tough, manly cookie and if there was any lingering psychological effects, they have yet to manifest. And given that he is an air traffic controller now (and ironically, just moved back to Wisconsin where the original horror happened), let’s hope he doesn’t EVER have any proximity induced flashbacks whilst (whilst!) guiding planes full o’ unsuspecting passangers thru the clouds. ‘Cuz that would be… well, bad.

So… anyhoo. I tweezed the tick off of Finny’s haunches, and dropped it in this little plastic box that Johnny Lightsleeper’s ear plugs came in (’cuz apparently I snore**. Who knew?) because frankly I didn’t know what else to do with it. I thought, well I dunno, maybe we should ship it off to be tested for Lyme disease or something. I also thought it was dead.

But, um… no. I just checked on it before I sat down to write this post and it is very much alive, dragging its bloated grey green arse all over the plastic case, lusting for blood. Blllllooooooooddddd (yes, the tick speaks and it sounds like a B movie zombie when it does. Also, its vocabulary is predictably limited.)

And it is GROSS, people! Really gross. Disgusting, in fact. But now I’m feeling kind of sorry for it. It’s only doing what it was designed to do, poor ickity thing. And I’m feeling all sorts of uber-cruel too. I don’t want to kill it (I have a hard time with the whole killing thing, especially as I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Buddhism and Buddhists are famously anti-kill stuff) but I don’t know what to do with it. I’d better figure it out quick though, because as I stood there watching it crawl around, I found myself musing about names for it. I found myself wondering if it need more air in that box and thinking about maybe making it a nice little bed of grass. And um… I just don’t know if ticks are a healthy preoccupation or not. I’m assuming not. Isn’t there an expression like “crazy as a tick”? Mayhaps this is how that phrase got coined.


** he assures me it is a gentle butterfly of a snore, like angels laughing or lambs gambolling, all delicate and adorable. And yet he insists on the industrial strength day-glo orange ear plugs. Go figure.

P.S. I’ve dubbed it Fester Flail. I’m thinking I need to free Fester. Flush Fester? or Fling Fester. Somewhere far far away from here. Last night, I couldn’t sleep knowing Fester was in the same room. So I made Johnny Tenderflesh put him on the front step (still in his box.) We thought Fester might freeze, but no. Finny J. has a vet appointment on November 2nd, but I really don’t think I can shelter Fester until then. And besides, it’s unlikely that Fester has Lyme disease or anything (it’s not very prevalent in this area) so I’m not sure it’s necessary to hang on to him/her/it till then, despite what I uncovered in my Internets investigation. So what say you: Fling or Flush?

14 Comments so far
September 9, 2006 · tidbits and toadstools

You have to believe me, I’m magic…. See the toadstools there? I made them happen. I did. No, really. I did! Practically overnight. Okay, wait, backup… this is how it happened. So last year about this time (although actually I think maybe a little closer to Halloween) I found a patch off teeny weeny toadstools sprouting from an old willow in the park, the one that has the broken branch that looks exactly like a gargoyle, and I fell instantly in love with them. I love toadstools. They look like little fairy critter condos or something and I spend much more time than is probably healthy thinking about what it would be like to live in an itty bitty toadstool village. I took four bajillion photos of those itty bitty toadstools and though Johnny Shroomstomper thought that a bit obsessive, I’m awfully glad I did. Turns out it was a most serendipitous find, because when I returned the next day, they were all shrivelled and flopped over, as if their very souls had been stolen by Ursula the Sea Witch in Disney’s The Little Mermaid (remember? the little shrunken souls that lined the bottom of her lair, all wilted and wailing?). The magic was all used up apparently. Toadstool villages, it would appear, do not have a very long shelf life so maybe it’s just as well I don’t live in one. It seems a rather precarious real estate investment.

Anyway… that was last year and though I have been on the lookout, I have not seen anymore toadstool villages anywhere in the park. So about a week ago, I stood under that one particular willow (the one with the branch that looks just like a gargoyle) and sang it a very special mushroom song. I don’t remember exactly how it went, but it was something like “mushroom spores, mushroom spores, root and grow… mushroom spores, mushroom spores, put on your magic show…” and it probably went along to the tune “Smelly Cat” as written and performed by Phoebe Buffay of Friends fame as all my made up songs usually do for some reason, whether I intend them to or not. Either “Smelly Cat” or “Hooked on a Feeling.” Go figure.

And yes, before we go any further, I know! I KNOW! I am deeply, deeply weird. But in a friendly, completely non-serial killer kinda fashion, so it’s all good.

So I sang my song to the mushroom/toadstool free tree (what’s the difference between a mushroom and a toadstool anyway? Does anyone know?!) and two days later, an entire toadstool village sprouted up. It did! Really! I am sooooooo not making this up! I am completely magic! I am, I am, I am!!! Who knew?! The fact that my magic seems limited to conjuring very brief appearances of fungus in no way diminishes the delight I experience in having this wonderous charm, but I wouldn’t object if the Powers That Be saw fit to bestow upon me the ability to conjure up say money, chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream or peonies. There’s only so much employment for a Toadstool Whisperer, you know?

And it turns out that my magical mushroom song works not only on willows with gargoyle shaped branches, but nearby trees as well, because just steps away , I found a whole new patch of mushrooms/toadstools of a relatively gigantic variety, a hearty, pinkish variety. The picture up top is of one of those.

I took another five bajillion photos of the new patch of shrooms, and one of these days I will get my act together and post a set of the best ones in Flicker. I also took about five bajillion pictures of this the sight directly over my shoulder that was twitching and sniffing and imploring me to please, please, please step away from the fungus and throw something fetchable already.

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