Category Archives: pets

Up Early

We are jet lagged, or better yet, I am jet lagged. Everyone else in this house is over it but I am clinging to the sleep disruption like an infant. For the most part, I am fine. I enjoy the hours between four and seven — the house is empty, the TV is mine and I can bask in a few hours of super-productivity. The downside kicks in at five p.m. when I have to be physically restrained so as not to maim a child. I am tired and irritable and I can be around nobody. 

Except for Lois. 

That damn cat was so happy to see me when I came home from our two weeks away. I don’t think anybody has ever been that happy to see me and my kids go to sleepaway camp. She has slept on my head for the last few nights, just to make sure I’m here, which isn’t great for my allergies, but I can handle it.

I took her to the vet today for her yearly wellness visit. She’s been with us for over a year, but this was MY first time at the vet. The vet is a friend and usually comes to get Lois and drives her in. This time, however, I shoved Lois into a cat carrier and drove her to New Jersey. 

You may not know this about me but I am a nervous driver. I am an especially nervous driver in New Jersey. First, there is a bridge and I HATE driving over bridges. But in NJ you have to drive sandwiched in between angry trucks and the highway splits and forks with no notice. I inevitably miss all my exits and spend twice as much time in New Jersey as I need to. 

But I did it for Lois. 

She was not happy. She immediately began to cry in the car. This is how sad she looked in her cat carrier: 

So, I let her out. That’s right – I made the biggest rookie cat owner mistake and let her roam freely in the minivan while I drove in the rain. In the rain in New Jersey. (Did I mention that the van hit 100,000 miles this week? It did!) Lois kept crying but she did it from under my seat, near my feet, and the whole time I kept thinking: OH MY EFFING GOD. SHE IS GOING TO MAKE A SUDDEN MOVE AND I AM GOING TO DIE. I AM GOING TO DIE IN NEW JERSEY AND SPRINGSTEEN ISN’T EVEN HERE TO SEE IT. 

At some point she moved to the seat next to me and stared at me until I got to our destination. I think she went 20 minutes without blinking. Cats can do shit like that. When we arrived, I shoved her back in the box and took her inside to the vet. They immediately weighed her.  

 Of course, I didn’t quite get that Lois doesn’t have the same relationship with a scale at the doctor’s office that I do. 

“In the box?” I asked. 

Yes, I was told. They weigh the box separately and calculate her weight. 

“What about her collar? There are some heavy tags on there.” 


I stopped talking. 

Lois was a rock star at the vet (who in addition to being a friend, happens to be a rock star vet) and I learned from my mistake and kept her in the box on the way home. 

And now I have to go because I have writing to do and I only have a few more hours before bedtime. 



Filed under cats, driving, Jet lag, pets


Meet Lois. 

 The children had been begging for a dog but while I want a dog, I do not want a dog. My youngest is finally in school and the last thing I want is something else to look after. I’ve picked up enough poop, thankyouverymuch.

Enter Lois. Lois was a stray who lived in our yard with her two kittens. A certain child started feeding her, the kids were begging us to make an honest cat out of her, and next thing she knew it, Lois was at the vet and sleeping in a bed. Even though certain people in this house may or may not be allergic to cats, Lois moved in.  

Turns out, the kids are less than pleased with the turn of events. Maybe you should be careful what you wish for. 

“You love her more than us.” 

“She’s your favorite.”

“You never talk to us that way.” 



Maybe. I talk to Lois in the same sing-song way I talked to the kids when they were infants — helpless and dependent and grateful for whatever attention I could give them. Because Lois reminds me of them when they loved me unconditionally, when they ate whatever I put in front of them, when they were happy just to see me walk through the door. 

In short, when they liked me. All the time. Before they started yelling at me because I bought the wrong kind of rice. Before they asked me not to speak in front of their friends. (“You may not even make eye contact.”) Before the eye roll. Lois cannot roll her eyes. 

The great Nora Ephron said that it would be wise to get a dog when your children are teenagers because someone will always be happy to see you. 

You could get a dog, or you could get a Lois. 


Filed under cats, parenting, pets

A Teaser.

This is how I spent my Sunday:  What’s that, you say? Where are you?

That is a cage with a stuffed cat inside. You get to play with one of these when, instead of preparing for Passover, you spend the day with the cat ladies of New York City at the midtown ASPCA offices getting certified in TNR.

What’s TNR, you say?

Trap. Neuter. Release.

Yup. Three words I had never put together until a vet friend of mine told me about them. There’s a stray cat and two kittens in my yard and I’m trying to get them fixed a humane way so I don’t have 200 kittens this time next year.

In the meantime, I believe the mother cat is pregnant again. She is determined to sneak into my house when I am not looking and lay her babies in the living room.

Have I mentioned that some of us are allergic to cats and I am married to a man who does not believe in household pets that don’t swim in a bowl of water? 

I celebrated National Pet Day earlier this week by secretly giving away the family guinea pigs when nobody was looking. I had no choice. I had to make room for the cats.



Filed under pets


M purchased an ant farm for the kids. (Consequently, that same week he also bought traps for some ants which we did NOT invite.) I was not sure that we needed to go and introduce any more pestilence into our home, but I was silenced by the kids.

“Finally! Pets!”


That’s the farm. The ants were meant to dig tunnels in the gooey blue gel. I had planned on using the industriousness of the ants as an example of how small communities… Blah, blah.

It seems, however, we have gotten a batch of stunningly lazy ants. They play dead for days on end and then miraculously revive. Nary a tunnel has been built. Instead, they frenetically climb over each other in a state of confusion.

The boys like to place the farm on the table during mealtimes, you know, to give the ants a sense of belonging and family. Bennett insists on taking off the cover so they can “breathe.”

I am not sure ants needs to breathe fresh air, but I have learned that it is unwise to throw bread crumbs (read: half a bagel) into an ant farm, because then you wind up with a fungal mess.


Come on, ants! Buck up! Disregard the fungus! Set an example for these larger pestilential creatures who don’t make beds or clear plates, or even throw clothes INTO the hamper.

… Nothing?

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Filed under children, New York City, parenting, pets


This is the hamster cage that used to belong to Tracy, may she rest in peace.


In the space of one month the cage has housed a wild bird and a snake that was loitering in our garden.

If I throw out the cage, will he cease collecting urban wildlife? Or will I just come home to find a raccoon in the bathroom and a squirrel in my bed?

City life is not what I expected.


Filed under children, New York City, pets, Uncategorized

Separate This.

I’m packing the boys up for summer camp, which means the room that used to be my office now looks something like this:

IMG_2267[1].. and this:


Bennett leaves first — on Sunday. It looks like I’m going to be a pretty pathetic empty-nester, because I’ve actually convinced myself that I’ll miss the little bugger. I wonder if I’ll be glad to see him go on Sunday or just really glad to rid my office of the mountains of cheap t-shirts, sharpie pens and crap I hope and pray does not come back from camp with him. (Consequently, if life has taught me anything it’s this: I am certain that the only things he’ll lose are the things I wish he wouldn’t… and all that Walmart crap will make its way home with him. I just know it.)

I think he’s trying to make the separation easier for me by driving me absolutely bat-shit with all his creatures. I’m glad that hamster up and died last week because as it is, I’m going to spend the month playing Dr. Doolittle to the rabbit and the effing tadpole.

The tadpole, by the way, lives in this palatial tub, which until this Sunday was used to house some of the clothes Fiona had grown out of that will one day be Sidney’s:


Those clothes are now in a heap on the basement floor. Oh, and that little terracotta pot was going to be used to grow a dahlia but apparently tadpoles need homes within homes.

I haven’t even mentioned that he’s got me ordering ALGAE TABLETS for it on Amazon and this afternoon I found him boiling a beautiful head of butter lettuce on the stove top.


“Tadpoles like boiled lettuce,” he said.

Do they now? Do they need a whole head of fresh butter lettuce because I’ve got a few leaves of some wilting crap at the back of the fridge. Goodbye, fresh salad.

Yesterday it was kale. Goodbye, green smoothie.

His last words to me before bed last night were: “You need to cut the bunny’s nails while I’m away.”

Come again?

You could clearly do a lot worse than to be a pet in this house.


Filed under children, pets, Seattle, sports, Summer, summer camp, travel, Uncategorized

And bunny makes six (if you don’t count the hamster).

Before I got pregnant with Francie we had a bunny. His name was Louis and although I loved him, his life was short and filled with illness. Before I got pregnant with Fiona we had a guinea pig. His name was Lumpy, and although he was an ugly bugger, he had a full, rich life, and even ended his days shacked up with another guinea pig named Trixie, which is a skanky stripper name, even for a small animal. There have been turtles and hamsters and I can’t remember what I came home with before Sidney, but if I am feeling broody, before I do anything real about it, we get a pet.

Meet Bun-Bun:


While she may not be heralding any new human additions, she does satisfy my need for baby talk. When we picked her up at the pound, her name was ‘Twilight,’ but I wasn’t having any of that. I went through a list of brownish items and Bennett liked ‘Latte,’ but that’s hardly a name, so I starting calling her ‘Lotte,’ which you pronounce “Lottie” — as in the singer Lottie Lenya, who absolutely nobody seems to have heard of other than me. (One day I will update my cultural references, I promise.)  But nobody really took to that, so we followed Sidney’s lead, and she calls her ‘Bun-bun.’

It’s not a particularly dignified name. But neither is eating while you crap, and Bun-bun likes to nibble on fresh hay while she sits in her litter box.

Here is her hutch, which M built with help from the kids.


It stills surprises me to be married to someone who can build things. M was the first Jew I’d ever met who knows the names of all the things in the toolbox, not to mention the different kind of screwdrivers. It doesn’t seem quite kosher to me to use phrases like “two by fours” and “I’ll sodder it later,” but M tells me that Jesus was probably a carpenter and was Jew-ish. Frankly, I find that hard to believe. I think his mother was pushing him to medical school and the carpenter thing was just a phase he went through to piss her off.

And now we are eight… well, nine if you count the hamster.


Filed under children, parenting, pets, Uncategorized