Too Hot To Squirrel

It’s been hot here lately. Not just normal summer-level hot (even though it’s not even summer yet AND I live in the sub-arctic tundra that is Vermont so we practically don’t even GET summer. We get like six months of winter, a month of mud season, two weeks of black fly season, six weeks of mosquito-and-thunderstorm season, and two months of fall. Also, I stopped doing the math on that a while back so don’t send me hate mail if it doesn’t add up. LALALA CAN’T HEAR YOU).


I’m talking, it’s been a lot hotter than it should be. Hot as balls. Scorching hot.

Hot. In. Herre.

I’m that asshole that doesn’t even really like summer, by the way. I mean, summer is ok in principle. Things are green and pretty, stuff smells good (once rotten lilac season has passed, anyway), and it stays light until like 9pm. Also, campfires and s’mores. I think of all these things and I’m like, “YAY, SUMMERRRR!”.

But then summer actually gets here and it’s like a fucking greenhouse built INSIDE a jungle that’s living INSIDE a terrarium (are terrariums hot? I know they’re damp, at least. APPLICABLE. I’m keeping it.), and I just…can’t. I used to think it was because I’m a life-long fatty but the older I get the more I realize that I just  have cold blood (which is different than being cold-blooded. I don’t bask and I can’t lick my eyeballs). I’m clearly at least part wildling. My optimum operational range is like 25 to 75 degrees. I can walk around outside in yoga pants and a sweatshirt at 25 degrees with no problem, but above 75 degrees I’m usually red-faced, sweating and pining for a pool to jump into.

So, this weekend when it was 95 degrees and fuck-this-noise percent humidity, I just refused to leave the apartment. We watched TV, we played video games, we puttered around the kitchen. One of these trips through the kitchen was when something outside caught my eye:


That, my friends, is a resounding “UGH, WHY” in squirrel body language.

Have you ever seen a more unimpressed looking squirrel in your life? Look at the dangle-y paws. She’s the embodiment of rodent ennui. “L‘écrou? Non. Le siiiiiigh…” she murmurs as she takes a puff off her tiny squirrel cigarette wand.  We’re pretty close to the Quebec border, after all. Francophone squirrels could totally be a thing here. Probably not cigarette-smoking ones, though.

Also, sidenote: I think this squirrel is pregnant, which may be the source of at least some of her hot-weather ennui. She had a litter back in March, but it’s not uncommon for squirrels to have a second litter when there’s plenty of food around. And seeing as how these little bastards have been sucking down birdseed (provided by me) since about November, I’d say food conditions are pretty friggin’ ideal for them. She’s been stuffing her face even more than usual lately and is looking overly rotund again. Not that I’m one to judge.

Anyway, point being, it was too hot to even squirrel here over the weekend. Here’s hoping for some more rodent- and me-friendly weather, at least until summer TECHNICALLY gets here.

Lilac Season

There are several enormous lilac bushes that grow just outside my office. And when I say “enormous”, I mean that the tops of the bushes are level with my second-story office window:


Stupid fucking window glare! I’m an accountant Jim, not a photographer. Also, objects in this picture are way closer than they actually appear. If I popped out the window screen I could reach out and pick those lilacs.

So really, they’re more lilac TREES than bushes at this point, given they’re like 12 feet tall.

IS there technically a bush / tree height classification cut-off point?  Are bushes only bushes until they reach a certain height, then they’re considered trees? Who would arbitrate such decisions? Why is life so confusing?  Where are my shoes?


When the lilacs first start to bloom, my office is the best-smelling place in the world. The scent wafts in on the breeze, so ethereal that you’re not even quite sure whether it’s actually there or just a figment of your imagination. It’s like being gently haunted by the essence of springs past. It makes me think of the lilac bush (also much more tree-like in stature) that grows on the corner of my parents’ lawn, and makes me remember my childhood ritual of picking several vases full of lilacs for my mom’s birthday every year.

As more lilacs bloom, the scent gets stronger. Two or three days after that first magical ghost-of-springs-past whiff, you’re into Obvious Lilac Smell territory. I don’t mind OLS territory. It still smells good in a non-distracting way, like a pleasant background note.

Four to five days after the initial bloom things start to really go downhill, though. The scent becomes this syrupy, ironically almost artificial smelling caricature of the original exceedingly delicate scent. This usually coincides with a heatwave around these parts, which only serves to further intensify what has now becoming overzealous granny perfume stank. Baked lilac is NOT a good scent, folks. At its zenith, it’s nearly strong enough to taste and is borderline headache-inducing. This is the point at which I usually find myself stomping around shutting windows and firing up the A/C, just to escape the smell.

Speaking of which, it’s supposed to be 90 degrees here today, so if you’ll excuse me I have a few last deep sniffs of reasonable-level lilac smell to enjoy before I slam all these windows shut, fire up this industrial-sized air conditioner and descend into a nice cool cocoon of white noise, low humidity and non-smelly-ness.

According to the map, we’ve only gone four inches.

As you can see, I changed shit around again. The last set-up was apparently kind of annoying for people who read on tablets and phones. Hopefully this one will be better for everyone.

Back tomorrow with something at least slightly more amusing!


I may or may not have tried to match my new background color to the color of Lloyd’s suit. Also, I love how the guy with the tape measure just keeps getting exasperated over and over.

these are things that I think about

The other day I noticed that my box of cotton swabs has some kind of strange and confusing imagery on it.


I get the keyboard one, for sure. Cotton swabs are super good for cleaning the accumulated finger-filth and manky crusties off keyboards and from around the keys themselves. Although, having said that, I now fear slightly that I’ve given you the impression that my computer keyboard is a cesspool of smeg and horror. It’s not, I promise. Well, except for that one time when my husband dropped a sandwich HP-sauce-side-down on our laptop and we had super sticky keys for a month despite many wipe-downs and I eventually ended up prying the keys off and cleaning under them with the point of a very sharp knife in order to restore functionality and reduce overall grossness. Other than that my keyboards are all maintained to an acceptable level of hygiene, I assure you.


The baby one, I kind of vaguely understand as well…although the scale is messed up so it totally looks like someone drying a baby’s head off with a GIGANTIC cotton-wrapped wand. Or maybe it’s not a baby at all, maybe it’s a doll and they’re cleaning it? I don’t know, whatever. Point is, I can see how cotton swabs might come in handy with regard to tiny human maintenance. In theory. Having seen the size of mess most babies can make themselves with bodily functions in literally a split second, I think cotton swab manufacturers might be overplaying this angle somewhat.

The eye thing is a definite yes comprehension-wise for me. Fully half of the cotton swabs that enter my home end up getting used to fix or remove eye make-up. Cotton swabs and coconut oil have saved me from many an embarrassing eyeliner smudge.

I think the middle one on the bottom row there is maybe supposed to be a suggestion that you use your cotton swabs to apply glue? Or paint, maybe? I’m pretty crafty but not so much in either the gluing-shit-together sense or the applying-paint-to-shit sense, so I’m just kind of spit-balling here. Those two options seem more feasible than my original thought, anyway…which was “that looks like a tube of hemorrhoid cream. Would someone really be so grossed out by their own ass that they’d refuse to apply medication to it without using an implement like a cotton swab?”  Because, you know, that’s something a totally normal and sane person thinks about on a Thursday morning while getting ready for work.


The one that truly boggles me though, is the bathtub faucet one. What is this trying to say? Do they think I should be cleaning my grout with cotton swabs, or be so meticulous about cleaning my faucet that I use cotton swabs to…I don’t know, clean it? Because, no. NEVER going to happen. That’s what chemicals are for. And, if I made more money, cleaning ladies.

Are you the clean-the-grout-with-cotton-swab type, or do you just ram them in your ears until they make your toes curl and you maybe cough a little, like everyone else?

bad brain days

It’s difficult to explain a bad brain day to a non-depressed person. They usually want to know what went wrong, what caused you to have a bad day. The thing is, I can’t usually answer that question.

I mean, yes…some days go to shit for very specific reasons that you can point directly to. And lots of days just kind of bob along in that nebulous area between “ok” and “not ok”.

But when you’re dealing with depression there are also these days that are just…bad. The things you normally get done with no problem become an epic struggle. Stuff that usually amuses you or cheers you up just serves to remind you of how fucking miserable you are. It could be perfect weather, your spouse could make you the best breakfast, you could have the most traffic-free commute to work while all your favorite songs played on the radio…and the day would still be shit, because your brain just isn’t cooperating.

Hence, bad brain day.

Today was one of those days for me.  I woke up in a fine mood, had a nice breakfast with my husband and my dog, got ready for work, and everything was copacetic. I was fine for about the first hour of work and then it just hit me out of nowhere.

First I was annoyed by someone not responding to an email in a timely fashion. Which, that seems semi-reasonable at first glance but the degree of my annoyance was WAY disproportionate to the importance of the issue the email dealt with. Like, if emails were gambling and I was mad about losing money, I was in the “I just lost $200” range when really the email was only worth about $5.75. Which made more sense in my head, but whatever.

Then I started berating myself for being mad about the email, followed swiftly by berating myself for berating myself (I KNOW…welcome to my world). Within minutes things had snowballed to the point where I was hiding in the bathroom because I couldn’t stop myself from crying.

What was I actually crying about? Existing, basically. That’s about as close as I can come to an honest explanation. It’s not even that I don’t WANT to exist. I do! I like existing! BEING ALIVE IS RAD! It’s just that sometimes it hurts simply to exist, let alone actually get anything done or have any kind of meaningful interactions with the world.

On days like this about the best I can do is let myself have a crying jag or two (or ten, ugh), try to get on with what needs doing afterward, and hope that tomorrow my brain gets back with the program.

How do YOU describe your bad brain days, your down days, your hide-in-the-bathroom-at-work days to others? Do you have some kind of code word or phrase you use to clue your loved ones in to the fact that you’re in a bad place? Talk to me, Goose.

Err…Geese, I guess, since there’s more than one of you…

This Plant May Have It Out For Me

Two weeks ago I was carrying my African violet from the living room into the kitchen for its weekly watering when gravity suddenly and inevitably betrayed me.

The plant was already a little lopsided from a couple of previous encounters with my dog and my husband (they both say “accidents”, but I’m not so sure). The lopsidedness combined with the fact that I was only using one hand to carry the pot balanced in its saucer, plus my general overall lack of coordination, was too much to account for and gravity was like “you know what? No. You need to learn a lesson. Now your favorite plant is root-ball up on the floor and there’s dirt everywhere. How’s THAT for a lesson? Don’t you feel smarter now? You should. YOU’RE WELCOME”…

…which is a long-winded way of saying that the plant fell on the floor. And also that I may have issues with anthropomorphizing natural phenomena. Among other things.


So the plant landed on its side and it broke a whole bunch of leaves. I ended up cutting at least a third of the leaves off because they were just going to die at that point anyway. I figured I’d probably lose the few flowers that the plant had recently set buds for, and I was fairly convinced that I might in fact lose the whole plant seeing as how African violets are supposed to be so picky and intolerant to trauma. Turns out I was wrong about the flowers, because the violet bloomed a few days later. Huzzah!

Then yesterday, I was moving the violet out of the way (MUCH MORE CAREFULLY…see, gravity? I DO learn!) on the kitchen counter when I noticed that not only was the little bastard still blooming but it had in fact grown a whole bunch of new leaves and set a crapload of new flower buds!

I can’t decide if the plant is a masochist that thrives on abuse, or if it has decided it’s sick of us weird pink two-legged monsters trying to kill it all the time so it’s beefing up to try and end us.

Either way, I feel a little bit weird around it now.


I fail at picture-taking you can’t really see the proliferation of new buds and leaves. So basically this photo is completely pointless. LIKE LIFE.

PS: I DID try to warn you yesterday that I might start writing about my houseplants. I’m just saying. No refunds.

Brain Weasel Fight Club Practice…uhh…Club

I really like making people laugh. That moment when someone goes from just politely listening to actually laughing, their whole face lights up and for a short time they radiate waves of happiness. In turn, my brain sucks up that radiating happiness like a sponge. It’s like something inside of me throws the doors wide open and is all “HELLO GOOD FEELS, I HAVE BEEN EAGERLY AWAITING YOU. PLEASE COME IN, I HAVE PREPARED REFRESHMENTS”, and it just feels really, really good.

Maybe that makes me a psychic vampire or something? I don’t know. I’ve been called worse, I guess.


The thing about depression is that it lies. Not just once in a while, but constantly. Even on my good days, it’s still there. It’s either just not lying as loudly as on the bad days, or maybe my inner Lying Cat is awake and reminding me of what the depression is doing.


Lying Cat is a character in the graphic novel series “Saga” written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Fiona Staples. It’s really, REALLY good and you should read it.

This often makes it quite difficult to trust that what I think is funny in my head will a) come out as funny when I say or type it, and b) that the audience I’m addressing will see it as funny. Comedy is subjective, after all. One woman’s Ferris Bueller is another woman’s…Wolf Blitzer.

Or something.

You know what I mean.

So basically, I spend a lot of time with a blank page in front of me, berating myself for not writing anything on it because nothing is ever good enough. This is completely fucking counterproductive, because the only way to get better at a thing is to PRACTICE. Every day that I let this blank page intimidate me into slinking off into non-writing land is an opportunity to practice that I’m losing out on.

And granted, some days  I just…can’t. Either I’m busy or I’m just truly lacking the spoons to string words together meaningfully…whatever. Shit happens. You wouldn’t try to practice playing the clarinet if you had bronchitis and couldn’t breathe well (I’m assuming. I’ve never actually played the clarinet. CLARINETS, HOW DO THEY WORK?!), and I’m not going to try to practice writing on days when it feels like my fucking brain is dissolving and getting ready to leak out my ears. But I feel like maybe I need to start making myself practice even when I don’t feel exactly “on”, when I don’t have a funny story in the chamber all ready to fire…and yes, even when my brain is trying to tell me that nobody wants to read a single word I could possibly type in this space.

Because honestly, it’s not just writing practice. It’s fight practice. It’s shadow-boxing with the smaller, more docile brain weasels so that I’m a little better prepared when those big sweaty Ivan Drago type brain weasels inevitably roll up wanting to pummel me and steal my lunch money.


My husband will be so proud I remembered a character’s name from one of the terrible movies he’s made me watch!

So bear with me if I start posting boring shit about like, my house plants, the weather, or my obsession with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It can’t be all cookie licking and floor poops all of the time, y’know?

party pooper

I usually take my mom out for breakfast on Mother’s Day. Most of the local diners and restaurants around here run Mother’s Day specials and are usually super busy because of it. Neither my mom nor I are big fans of loud, busy places with lots of people, so I figured I’d scout around and find somewhere less populated to take her this year. There’s a very pretty little seasonal place not terribly far from where we live – they do local produce, farm to table, all that hippie jazz that I love. I saw a post on the local ListServ that they’d be open for Mother’s Day brunch this year so I pitched it to mom. She liked the idea so I made us a reservation and we spent the next week or so talking about what we might order when we got there (because that’s what we do. We’re menu-holics).

We got to the place and were apparently the first party of the day because there were no other cars around. We were greeted at the door and led to our table by a young woman with very impressive calves – the kind of calves that made me want to ask her what kind of exercises she does. I’m pretty sure she could have cracked walnuts with her calves, is what I’m saying. They were serious business calves.


We sat down at our little table and admired the decor: barn-board floors, funky little pieces of art hung on the walls, wee little green glass vases with two bright yellow daffodils in them at each table. The room we were in had windows along two sides and the third side had French doors that opened out onto a lovely little terrace. We finally tore our eyes away from the rolling sweep of acres of lush green field outside and starter perusing the menu (which, let’s be honest, we already has memorized). Ms. Impressive Calves led another party in and sat them at a table across the room…and that’s when I saw it.

There, not four feet away from us on the tastefully patterned area rug…

…was a dog turd.

I actually did a double-take because I literally didn’t believe what I was seeing. The idea that there was a dog turd on the floor next to us in this fancy restaurant was so preposterous that for about fifteen seconds I fully believed that I was, in fact, hallucinating. I looked across at my mom, who was blithely nattering on about the virtues of sangria versus mimosas. Feeling the weight of my stare, she looked up at me and raised her eyebrows.


I leaned in and whispered:

“There’s shit on the rug.”

She glanced at the rug directly next to her and shook her head slightly.

“Whaaaat? I don’t see anything.”

“It’s right there, LOOK. It’s definitely a dog turd.”  I pointed urgently with the corner of my menu, down at the aisle between my seat and the table in the center of the room. She leaned over a little and looked again.

“Ohhh my godddd…” she hissed, her eyes widening as she looked back at me. We both started giggling hysterically.

“What do we DO? Do we say something? I don’t think we should say anything. Oh my god, how embarrassing…”, I wheezed between fits of giggling.

“We HAVE to tell them. What if someone steps in it?!”

Just then our server rounded the corner. A tall, broad and solidly built woman with high cheekbones, a snub nose and smiling eyes, she looked for all the world like she could have been my cousin. She had an assortment of interesting tattoos on her arms and wore chunky Dansko clogs.  She asked for my drink order and to my horror, all I could picture was her stepping back a couple inches and landing her heel in the dog turd. I looked back down at the menu and stuttered that I’d like a sangria. My mom ordered the same and then, just as cool as a cucumber, she leaned in toward the server and dropped her voice a bit.

“Hon, does someone around here have a small dog?”

The server looked slightly perplexed.

“Yes, the owners do. Why? Oh no, are you allergic?”  Her eyes went wide. My mom smiled charmingly.

“Oh no, not allergic. But, ummm…”  She used her menu to gesture at the floor behind the server. The server tilted her head, clearly thinking my mom was daft as fuck, only to then turn around and see the petite ordure perilously close to her shoe.

“Ohmygod NO. Oh, I’m so, SO sorry. I’ll get that taken care of right away.”

Mom and I both assured her repeatedly as she picked up the poop and spot-cleaned the carpet that it was totally not a big deal to us, that we both had small dogs ourselves and had seen our fair share of poop, etc. The server was clearly mortified but our continued commiserations seemed to settle her, and by the time our entrees came out she was able to laugh about it with us. She insisted that she comp us a dessert despite our protestations (not that we sent the flourless chocolate cake back to the kitchen once it showed up, mind you), and when she brought our check she said she’d comped one of our drinks as well. She really didn’t have to do that – the laughs we got were well worth the price of admission in our opinion.

Needless to say, it was a Mother’s Day that at least the three of us won’t be forgetting any time soon!