Reverse reviewed:

In which my recent media choices of a movie and two books review mine and my husband’s decision to relocate to California.

The day after we got married, my husband flew to the Bay Area to interview with different companies for a new job. Three weeks he had an offer, and we celebrated by going out to dinner and toasting to his successful job hunt. The next day, we had to put my cat down, who I’d had for 18 years. The next week, we were in San Francisco scouring Craigslist ads for a suitable place to live. We ruled out the Tenderloin; too many needles. We found a place in South of Market, (SoMa) a block from my husband’s new job. We returned to Colorado to pack; husband would be there for one more week before he had to return to Cali to begin his job, leaving me in Colorado to finish packing and moving.

During that week, while in a Henry Fonda kind of mood, we decided to watch Grapes of Wrath. I hadn’t seen it since high school, and it’s questionable as to whether or not I actually saw it or just slept through the movie, figuring that having read the book was enough.

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Learning Not to Cry Over Spilled (Sippy Cups of) Milk

spilled_milkJust as I got home, my mom called to tell me our sink was leaking again. She wanted me to ask our neighbor, who is also our plumber, if he could come over and fix it. I crossed the street to find him with his head poked inside the back of his truck while his kids, Hank and Oliver, ran around the yard.

“Hey, Matt… so, our sink is leaking. Could you come over and fix it?”

“Again?! Goddammit! They’ve been breaking throughout the valley!” he yelled, not at me specifically, as he pulled his head out of the back of the truck.

“Oh. Bummer. Like, the piece itself?” I asked.

“Yeah. The damn manufacturer used cheap shit and they’re breaking after 6 months!” By his tone, it was clear now was a bad time.

“Oh dear,” I said,  unsure of what the right response was. “Well…whenever you have the time, we’d appreciate it if you could swing by.”

“I’ll be over in a minute. I just have to find my damn wrench…”

“Okay. Thanks!”

“In the meantime, you should go into the crawlspace and turn off the water!” he called out from halfway back inside the truck.

“Will do!” I said.

As I walked back to my house, Oliver followed after me. He wanted to find my cat, Sheba, who hated him and who’d scratched him earlier in the year. He wasn’t phased by that, and in fact talked about it like a badge of honor. “Where Sheba?” he asked as he toddled in the door.

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Things Said While Babysitting


Maybe it’s destiny for milk to be spilled. Perhaps that’s where tears come from.

I was hired to watch three kids one Saturday while their parents went to the local Oktoberfest. I supervised my kid best friend, named Kid, his younger brother, Little Brother, and the child of a friend of the parents, Tom.

Kid is seven, Little Brother and Tom are both three. During the course of watching these kids, based on the things I said, I realized that I had transitioned into an actual Adult, a real Grown Up.

An example of the Grown Up things I said:

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Local Controversy

My local library has found itself in the crosshairs of a controversy. The news has reported on it, people have written letters to the editor against it, Board of Trustees members have discussed this issue, and local businesses have gotten involved. It asks the very important question:

Should our library have a fireplace? Continue reading

The Raccoon Incident – Part 1

packingboxesI was living alone in a two bedroom bungalow house, in a town where I knew only one person, where I had no job, an ex-boyfriend who wasn’t returning my texts or picking up his stuff, and it was Tuesday night.

At 10:30 p.m., I was in my bedroom packing clothes into boxes by season. I had been sorting, packing, purging, and organizing my stuff for several days. I was moving soon. I wasn’t sure when, or where to, but I knew I was moving. My rent was paid, though, so I had some time to decide what to do.

I had a month of no real obligations. With no job and an impending move, my days were filled with organizing and packing. When that got old, I would quilt or sit on my front porch drawing and painting while watching old seasons of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Sometimes I was overcome with listlessness and did nothing; then suddenly I would have a burst of energy and organize all of my books alphabetically by genre and color. I’d then wander from project to project to project, completing none of them. I didn’t know what I was doing next in my life, so I had a hard time deciding what project to tackle next.

The only certain thing was that I wasn’t going to stay in that house with the red door and red porch, tall windows and cream colored siding, fake vinyl wood flooring, huge backyard and slightly sloping kitchen floor. I wasn’t staying in Champaign, Illinois any longer than I had to.

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The Temple of DOOOOOM

scared ponies

Ponies frightened of incoming skeletons.

For Thanksgiving, we had a small group. Me, boyfriend Carl, mom Liz, bestie Rose, Rose’s husband Don, and their child Daisy, who’s 4. Daisy is a lovely little child who has no problem making friends with anyone. She particularly likes making friends with boys.

After dinner (in which Daisy had three helpings of mashed potatoes), Daisy began playing with the ponies she’d brought with her, and Carl joined her. According to Daisy, the ponies were all trying to run away from, and also defeat, an army of skeletons. “Well, all the skeletons are coming after the ponies, the ponies have to fight them off of their land because it’s where their houses are and where they eat. But the skeletons want to come and take it from the ponies. The skeletons are really scary, especially at night,” she explained. Looking at Carl, wide-eyed, she said “I’m scared!” and reached out to hug him. Daisy had scared herself with the story so much she needed a reassuring hug from a big guy she’d met only a handful of times.

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Adult’s night out

As an adult, I go on grown-up nights out. And since I don’t have kids, this really isn’t a big deal.

pissed off cat

What the cat looks like when I leave her. Or don’t feed her wet food when she demands. Or don’t pet her enough or to her liking. Or when I wake her up from a nap.

I leave my cat, I go out, I come home to pissed off cat.

My best friend, however, has a daughter, V. She’s four. She needs a babysitter, something my cat doesn’t require or would even acknowledge.

On a recent adult date night between V’s mom, Rose, Rose’s husband, me and my boyfriend, we enlisted my mother, Liz, to babysit V.

While at dinner, Rose told us how excited V was about the evening with Liz.

“Yeah, V said she was really excited about babysitting Liz, and that if they ran out of things to do, she’d have to think of new things they could do together!”

After returning from the date, Liz informed me that, during the ‘sit, her and V watched Maleficent. During the scary parts, V would cover my mom’s eyes and tell her not to watch because it was scary.

The next day, Rose texted me that V had asked Rose and Husband to go out to an adult breakfast together so she could play with Liz.


drinks with friends

Cheers! A night out without kids or cat!


Can I interest you in this thing? It does stuff.

Around Thursday, Little B came out of her room with a full backpack. She went up to her dad and said “We need to talk.” She told him to sit down.

“Are you comfortable?” she asked. He was.

“Ok,” and Little B began.

She proceeded to pull toys out of her backpack and do a sales pitch.

“This is a shaker-thing. When you shake it, it makes lots of noise. It also has lots of colors. Are you interested in this? Is this something you need? Just think about it.” She set the maraca down on the coffee table and pulled out the next item.

“This is a micromophone. It makes your voice LOUDER when it’s close, and softer when it’s far away. There are also button on it, right here. You push them and they do things. Is this something you need? I can sell it to you.”

The microphone in question was actually just a drum stick.

Little B’s Dad was laughing throughout all of this.

“Stop laughing,” she scolded him. “I’m not done yet.”

She proceeded to pitch about eight toys to him.

LB’s Dad bought all the things (while laughing hysterically).


Is this something you need? It makes noise.


*Want to read more about Little B? Go here.

Breakfast decisions

About 10:45 this morning, after completing some work online, I thought Hm, maybe it’s time for breakfast.

I’ll make eggs with goat cheese on toast.

Oh wait. I’m having lunch with former colleagues at noon. I shouldn’t eat now; I won’t be hungry then.

But I’m hungry now. I’ll just have a snack.

Pretzels? Nah. Too salty.

Pickles?! Hm…not really a breakfast food. Too vinegar-y for breakfast anyway.

Leftover Twix bars from Halloween? Yes, that’ll work.

And that is how one justifies having bite-sized Twix bars for breakfast.

They say it’s your birthday

My niece, Little B, is about 3 1/2 years old. On Wednesday, she went to preschool and told the teacher her birthday was that day. She wasn’t going to have a party that night, but she was having one over the weekend. It was going to be a Frozen themed birthday, with Elsa and a pretty frozen cake. She said all her little friends were coming, as well as all her family.

“Except gwandma Gaga,” she explained. Grandma Gaga is her name for my mother, her grandma. “Gaga can’t come because she lives willy faw away. But she visits me in my iPad a lot.”

The class sang her happy birthday and treated her nice all day because she was “the birthday girl.”

Sister-in-law picked up Little B from preschool. The teacher approached her, and said “Why didn’t you tell us it was Little B’s birthday? We could have had a whole little party for her. We did sing her happy birthday, though.”

“What are you talking about?” asked sister-in-law.

“Little B’s birthday… she said it was today. That you’re having a Frozen-themed party this weekend…” said the teacher, uncertainty growing in her voice.

“Little B’s birthday isn’t until March.”

This is what her birthday cake would like like in March, when her actual birthday is.

This is what her birthday cake would like like in March, when her actual birthday is.

*Want to read more about Little B? Go here.

Conversations with my 6-year-old neighbor

I live in a small cul-de-sac where there are a lot of kids. One, in particular, lives across the drive from me, and is a very active, inquisitive guy. Tonight, while his mother cooked dinner and his father fixed our sink, I offered to watch Kid and Little Brother so everyone could get their stuff done in a relatively sane manner.

For this, his parents paid me with a cider ale.

Thus began the questions. After going upstairs (where the sink is), Kid saw my bedroom and came down and asked “Why do you have a giant stuffed teddy bear in your room?”

“It’s a hippo,” I corrected. Kid looked at me inquisitively.

“Are you asking why I, a grown woman, has a giant stuffed hippo in her room?”
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Corrupt Polifishians

J: Not enough people use my genius to have fun like you do.

C: You use my genius. I don’t mind.
I want to make ‘It’s on like gerbils‘ take, but i’m concerned about the ring of that.

C: No llama no cry.

C: Happiness is a warm kitty.

C: Every little llama is gonna be alright.cuttlefish

C: Why do cuttlefish…suddenly appear…every time…you are near?

J: I was on the phone and it kept interrupting with new text noises what seemed like every few seconds.

J: Gerbil and llama, and you dare challenge my genius?!

C: Is cause i was sending texts every few seconds.

C: My genius. Mine. Mine. MINE. MIIINNNE!

J: It’s on.

C: mine.

C: mine?

C: mine

J: There is no spoon.

C: It’s called a dinglehopper, silly.

J: The real little mermaid was the delusion of a drunken man who drowned a young girl in a fit of rage.

J: Plus sharks.

J: We can say, clearly, Hitler was a shark.polifishians

C: Hitler was an eel.

J:  What people don’t realize is all sharks are like Hitler.

C: No they’re not. Whale sharks, nurse sharks, stingrays. Not Hitlers!

J: That’s what they want you to think!

C: Sharks support mermaids.

C: Frequently sharks make up the core of the Mer voting block.

J: That was during the Oceanic Wars of 1865. Everyone knows sharks jumped the Mer Party and started backing the Oceanic Buffet Party at least by 1910.

C: The T-Shark Party is widely moving back to supporting the Merfolk, especially on issues of whether or not the ocean president was even born in the ocean and on issues of oceantitlements.

J: It’s a moot argument. His mother was an oceanic citizen and an Amerifish. He didn’t have to be born in the ocean. Poseidon wasn’t and I didn’t hear fish complaining then!

C: Of course, we all know the T-Shark party is headed up by a hammerhead shark.

J: I like his catch phrase: “You’re out of order!”

C: But the T-Shark party says the president is spreading his commufish agenda and trying to make the ocean socialfishtic.

J: He’s the socialfish? Did you hear the crab sing the Mer propaganda song? …So typical of shark supporters.

C: I got crabs from that crab! It’s why I’m no longer a grouper-ie.

J: Red flag number one should have been when you realized he was a crab.

C: Speaker of the Fish Davy Jones is warning us about the ocean death panels that aren’t due to pollution. I believe him. He’s orange-y.

J: He lives in a bubble! He never leaves his locker! One of the most out-of-touch polifishians out there.

Tesla test drives & gerbils

Hotel Jerome


I sat on the turn-of-the-century couch, placed the carrying case with my gerbil in it down the ottoman, picked up a local news magazine, and began reading. Next to me, my older brother, David, eagerly read his phone, periodically quoting from the articles he was browsing. “Of note,’” he began, “‘during validation of Model S roof crush protection at an independent commercial facility, the testing machine failed at just above 4 g’s.’ That means…” and he skimmed to get to the good part, “is, quote ‘that at least four additional fully loaded Model S vehicles could be placed on top of an owner’s car without the roof caving in.’ Dude, the Tesla broke the testing machine!”

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On Friends and Rodents

As an adult, I do grown-up things like go to work daily, keep up with current events, drink wine with friends, keep up with my family, worry about my credit rating and 401K. All sorts of normal, responsible, adult things.

I also have a gerbil. In fact, this is the sixth gerbil I’ve had in my adult life. I’ve also had four hamsters, three mice,  fostered a rat for about two weeks, and provided a place to sleep for a wild mouse one night (it was VERY cold outside).

In short, I like rodents. I care for them, give them a large home, toys, good food, and medicine when they need it. I have them long enough to get attached, and then they die.
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$6.55 per gram

Saturday, I noticed that Fidget’s foot was red and swollen. Although this had happened before, this time the swelling was really bad. So…off to the vet. Since we can’t go to her primary care vet on weekends, I took her to a new emergency clinic vet. The vet felt her foot and said that Fidget had a fracture. How she got it, I don’t know. She’s always jumping off things, falling, leaping, skidding into things.

The vet said the fracture would heal on its own, I just needed to keep her from jumping too much. The foot was red because she’d been chewing on it, pulling out the fur; the vet prescribed antibiotics that taste like cherry (they told me it was flavored; I didn’t try it) to administer doses to Fidget for the next ten days, twice a day, by mouth. Then we’d have to check in with our primary care vet in two weeks.

It might be kind of crazy that I even have a primary care doctor for my gerbil. I don’t even have one for myself. And it’s not like it’s the primary care vet for all my animals because the cat goes to someone else.

Fidget is my accident-prone pet. If there were a gerbil-sized helmet she could wear, I’d make her wear it. That fact that I’ve even BEEN to the vet three times with her, and that she’s also had a fracture before, as well as a scrape or two here and there, means she’s that active kid on the playground who’s always pushing the limits of safety, falling down and getting hurt. Sometimes the kid just scrapes his knees really bad; sometimes the kid breaks his arm. And as soon as his arm is healed, he’s back up on the monkey bars trying out for some imaginary olympics, doing the same stunt that broke his arm. That’s my Fidget.

So, to break it down–
Vet bill for leg: $132.00
Costs for the tail surgery: $185
The visit to the vet two weeks ago when she was dehydrated: $63
Total vet costs: $380.

Fidget weighs about 58 grams. Taking into consideration her vet bills, she’s now valued at $6.55 per gram. Are there any drugs out there that cost that much? If so, maybe I need those drugs.

Above: Fidget, in her better days.

Damn gerbils. At this point, I can only laugh at myself.