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Why I never ever buy tinsel

1 Dec
Little me, circa 1970-something, and a tree with tinsel. Because sparkly.

Little me, circa 1970-something, and a tree with tinsel. Because sparkly.

Back in the day, I enjoyed tinsel…you know, around 1978 or so. As did my mother. See, we’re a family of magpies, attracted to all things shiny and sparkly. So when my mom found tinsel one year in the mid-80’s, there was much excitement and draping of the shiny strands of silver on the tree.

It was all good. All shiny, draping just right, the lights from the tree sparkling off of it…

…and then, we noticed the cat.

The cat in the tree.

The cat in the tree eating tinsel.

The cat in the tree chowing down tinsel like it was crack cocaine.

Really, we had some embarrassing pet moments in the 1980’s. The hamster in the crock pot incident. The cat my little sister colored in with red marker. The time my mom had to call an exterminator because the dog and two cats refused to even chase the mice in our house but instead would just sit there and watch them go up to their food dishes to eat out of. We won’t even start on what the human kids were doing. So really, having to take the cat to the vet because he ate tinsel wasn’t out of the realm of extraordinary. In fact, it was more of a “*sigh* Hope it doesn’t kill him.” sort of moment.

The protocol was one of wait and see. We would be able to tell if the tinsel passed through the cat’s system.

Oh yes, you can tell when the tinsel passes through the cat’s system. Because your cat will have a sparkly strand of silver hanging out his bum.

“For God’s sake, don’t pull on it!” my mother announced…as if any of us were going to try it. We were weird kids, but not that weird. I know I wasn’t going to handle anything that came out of the backside of the cat. No, instead, one of us got to hold the cat while my mom trimmed the sparkly bit. The cat did not enjoy this. No one enjoyed this.

The cat did enjoy eating more tinsel though. Which led to us picking off all the tinsel from the tree and going around the house trying to find the loose strands that had flown off the tree. Let’s just say the cat was more successful at this than we were.

The cat had a sparkly backside for weeks. And there’s no hiding tinsel hanging from your cat’s bum, not when you have a house full of teens who invite more teens over. “OMG! What’s hanging out your cat’s butt?”



My mom never bought tinsel again.

Fast-forward umpteen years later…and I’m reading “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson, where she’s describing how her cat ate one of those little twine strings with the feather and tinkle bell, and the cat pooped out the tinkle bell but not the twine, so the tinkle bell was hanging from the cat’s backside, so she went to cut it off but the cat for some reason ran from her as she chased it with scissors…

…and I thought “Oh yeah, been there, done that, chased a cat down to cut stuff from its butt.”

So really Mom, don’t worry, only the famously cool people have cut stuff off their cat’s bumhole. We’re all good.

This post is dedicated to The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson, who I got to meet on her book tour.

This post is dedicated to The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson, who I got to meet on her book tour. That’s me on the left, Herself on the right.



Meanwhile, in Mauraland…

11 Oct

Our morning went the same – wake up, make coffee, Maura turned on some cartoons, I let the big dog out. Eventually tiny dog left the warmth of teen girl’s bed and she went outside too.

But not long enough.

Next thing I know, Maura comes running to me. “MOM! MOM! MOMMOM! Come see!!!”

She grabbed my hand and dragged me to the living room.


Apparently tiny dog had to poop. Maura was horrified that tiny dog had to poop and did so on the brand new area rug. Teen girl, who was sitting in said living room, hadn’t noticed.

Observational skills test results-

Maura: 1

Miriam: 0

Tiny dog (who never actually does this, hence Maura’s horror at it) was thrown back outside for good measure. Miriam got to clean up after her dog. And Maura got a new version of “High five poopy!” for alerting us to what the tiny dog had done.

Maura and the tiny dog

Maura and the tiny dog



You shouldn’t buy a white puppy in the middle of a blizzard

5 Oct

The year was 1979. I know, because it was also the year of the Blizzard of ’79 that hit Chicago. Snow was everywhere, and people were literally shooting others over parking spots that they had spent hours digging out and then were “holding” with lawn chairs. Chicago – always keeping it classy.

We were in the suburbs…barely…but we had alleys and garages and snow routes, which meant that during the night, we were forced to park the cars in the garage that might collapse under the weight of snow so the village snow plows could clear the streets.

How snowy was it?

It was so snowy that they ran out of places to put the snow except on top of more snow. Which meant that when my brother’s and I walked up to the library, in trying to keep on the sidewalk on the block with the lumber yard, we had to climb a mountain of snow then walk along the top of it. Luckily, it was so high that it reached the top of the two story lumber shed, and we held onto the gutter for balance.

It was so snowy that at one point, six year old me wasn’t allowed out there. I was tiny for my age, the snow was taller than me, and my mom was afraid that I might get sucked in by the snow and suffocate. I cried over it – until my brothers got the genius plan to make trails in the snow and spent hours basically building a maze through our front yard, packing in snow paths, so I could run through them as well.

It was so snowy that the snow in parts was higher than our fence, which was about four feet high.

Everything was white. None of it was going anywhere.

Meanwhile, our dog George – who was a wondrous mutt of a dog – died on March 1st. And we cried because George was awesome.

George and baby me

George and one of us as a rugrat

We kids only knew life with a dog, and being kids had the mourning period of gnats, so we were probably all “Can we get a puppy now?” My parents, also being dog lovers, hatched a plan. My brother’s birthday was just two days away, why not present the family with a new puppy then?

It was also the year my dad decided to get those trick candles – the ones that you blow out and they relight? Yeah, not the best option for a cake two days after your beloved pet dies and your greatest wish is to get a new dog. The wish was made, the candles blown out, the candles relit, my brother burst into tears thinking his wish wouldn’t come true, and my mother started muttering to my dad “Get the puppy! For God’s sake, get the puppy!”

The little white furball was then presented to us, and we had cake and a new puppy and all was well again.

Well, sort of.

Because new puppy had to be housebroken. But new white puppy couldn’t be let out into the yard safely because, well, we’d lose him in all the snow if left out there on his own. So someone had to take new puppy outside, lift him up and onto the snow bank, then you’d both stand there shivering waiting for puppy to do his business, and then lift puppy up off of the snowbank, hurry back inside, where new puppy would finally be warm enough to pee in a corner.

Life lesson? “Never buy a white puppy in the middle of a blizzard. He’ll never be properly housebroken.”

God bless the dog, but he never was.

Also, bonus lesson? Never tell your kids about how one of your kids couldn’t say the word “puppy” quite right as a toddler, because that’s how your kids end up naming said white puppy “Puckie”.

I can’t believe we talked them into naming the dog Puckie. We should probably add that to our “Sorry Mom” list of apologies.

Puckie - our wire haired fox terrier that always got lost in snow

Puckie – our wire haired fox terrier that always got lost in snow

This is part of the 31 Days writing challenge…to find out more about it or read more from this challenge, check out the 31 Days page!

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