Archive for August, 2010

Miss Mittens and The Reign of Terror


Take a good look at that face. Sure, you think: she’s cute. Those big green eyes. Those black and white scalloped paws. Those pretty white whiskers! She’s adorable!

You poor gullible fool.

Oh, she’s a smart one. She’ll let you pick her up and cuddle her; she’ll bump her head against your legs in a showy display of affection clearly designed to melt your heart, and she’ll leap at various toys you toss at her. She’s been trained well.

But inside this charming bundle of fur beats the heart of a cold-blooded killer.

And who knew? Certainly not me, when I went to the shelter to adopt her, fooled as I was by her purring and affectionate ways.  “Owner recently died,” her papers read. After living with her a few weeks I have to wonder: Was it one of those unexplained deaths?

And here’s a clue for the clueless, such as myself, when adopting a cat from a shelter: If you want a cat that’s going to stay indoors and watch TV with you, do not select the cat with a collar and bell around her neck. Honestly, it’s a neon sign that I completely missed: OUTDOOR CAT. Potential killer of other living things.

The blood will be on your hands.

I first realized she was an outdoor cat in the simplest of ways. I was carrying out a bag of garbage late one night and felt something rush past my ankles. And there she was, standing on the deck for one short moment enjoying her first taste of freedom, and then suddenly she was gone. Just like that.

If you’ve ever tried to find a black cat in a woodsy lot at 11 PM, you can imagine how successful I was. I called and called. I tried keeping my voice calm, but inside I was thinking “Idiot. You’ll never see her again!” The more I called, the more distant she became. Meanwhile Penelope, my seriously indoor cat, pressed herself closer and closer to the glass door with each “here, kitty!” call, probably thinking she was due for a treat. Probably also thinking, regarding the footloose Mittens, “I thought she’d never leave.”

She came back at 2:18 a.m. THAT’s when she was ready to come home.

Here’s the list of victims so far. And I would like to add that the first one happened before she even sneaked out of the house. I do not wish to know the details of how this happened.

  1. Chipmunk (which I found on the bedroom floor and initially mistook for a sock)
  2. 2 moles/voles/shrews (Don’t know what they are but they have stubby tails and they are UGLY)
  3. Chickadee
  4. Spotted small bird of unknown origin
  5. Butterfly

I’m sure there are other things she’s killed but not managed to drag to the back door, and I’d just as soon not know what they are. Nature is cruel and often seemingly heartless. And so is Mittens.

But Karma is a wonderful thing (except in the My Karma Ran Over Your Dogma sense) and Karma has caught up with Miss Thing this past week with a painful lesson that I like to call “You’re Not The Only Creature With Teeth.” Out on one of her evening missions, Mittens decided to ignore my pleas to return home, and completely ignored the spectacle of me wrapped in my bathrobe shaking the plastic box of Friskies dry food while promising treats and hugs. She was off on an adventure. I was off to sleep.

One foot in the comfort of Dreamland, cozily dozing off for the night, I was jolted awake by a god-awful (and yet recognizable) screech just outside my bedroom window.

Miss Mittens flew into the house, past my half-hearted scolding, past the food bowls, past the cozy bedroom, and into the living room where she huddled on the sofa. Closer inspection revealed that she was missing her pretty pink collar and bell, and that something had also snagged her by the skin of her sleek black tail.

I try to imagine what she met up with that fateful evening, and how she managed to escape. I wonder if I’ll ever see that pink collar again, or if it is on its way to another ZIP Code, between the clenched jaws of … what? A skunk? A squirrel? A fox? Something bigger?

As for Mittens, she ain’t talkin’. She is dragging her tail behind her these days, barely tolerating examination of that tender appendage. She doesn’t seem to miss her collar, and she seems content to stay indoors. She’s gotta think things over.

Lesson learned?

One can only hope.

Other People’s Junk. Which reminds me of a recipe.


All my life I have been interested in other people’s junk. Not just old furniture or jewelry or castoffs, but really: junk. When I was a kid, I played in a dump near our house. Oh, we had park areas and big yards and a walk-in dollhouse, but one of my favorite places to play was a dumping ground a block away, where I’d sift through old cans and bottles and, you know, junk. I don’t know why I was never cut on a glass shard or bitten by a rat, so maybe I had a guardian angel watching over me.

A lazy one, to be sure, since I got into all kinds of trouble and she never bothered to send a warning sign or even help me out of trouble once I got in, but maybe she was only licensed to work with glass shards and rats. I’m not sure how the angel system works.

As an adult, I’ve given up perusing dumps since the EPA has made our lives “better,” and pardon me while I laugh, so much of my free time is spent at Goodwill and Salvation Army stores and yard and garage sales; treasure troves of other people’s castoffs. (And usually no glass shards and, I hope, no vermin.) Old dishes, books, records, clothing, tools, bric a brac and all manner of trash: I can’t get enough.

Or maybe it depends on one’s idea of “enough,” because this past weekend I made nearly $240 selling off some of my trash, thereby clearing the way for new trash. I opened my garage and sold off dishes, record albums, old furniture, housewares, books (the ones I could stand to live without) and more stuff than I can name. Fortunately other people like other people’s junk, too, so they walked away with piles of mine and left me with lots of cash and a very clean garage.

Life is good.

Meanwhile, speaking of castoffs, my neighbors moved out of their house this past week and left a lot of “free” stuff on the boulevard, which, I admit, intrigued me. I took a white rolling kitchen cart and a perfectly good card table, but left the other stuff. They also rented a dumpster, another object of my fantasies. A huge green container filled with crap they didn’t want, just begging to be dug through.

I didn’t exactly dig through it, which would have required the ability to climb into it, which I might have done but then would have had to dial 9-1-1 to get back out. So I just perused the perimeter, taking only one small (but wonderful) item. Much to my credit, I left something in return: my rusted out charcoal grill. I think this is illegal, but I see this as doing them a favor: they are gone, the dumpster isn’t quite full, and … I forget the other part. But I had my story all worked out for the police the other day.

So that is my true confession for the week: I’m a junk junkie.

And that reminds me of a recipe for the incredibly lazy, or for people who have better things to do with their time, like digging through other people’s dumpsters:


(I don’t imagine there are blueberry dumps, though blueberries may grow near dumps, but I would leave those for the bears. But where was I. Oh, yeah: the ingredients.)

2 pints of fresh blueberries

1 cup sugar

1 package of white cake mix (could you get more lazy?)

1 cup of nuts or coconut if you want

1 stick of butter, melted

Spread the berries out in PAM or vegetable sprayed pan. Sprinkle the sugar over that, and then sprinkle on the cake mix and the nuts or coconut. Pour the melted butter over the entire mixture. You won’t even have to dirty a spoon unless you just want to taste it. Bake this at 325 degrees for about 1 hour. (That gives you an hour to dig through a dumpster or look around your basement for junk you never knew you had.) Serve warm. If you live alone, you could eat it right out of the pan, but don’t admit this to your friends. They don’t need to know everything.