Archive for the ‘ANIMAL DRAMA!’ Category

Sea World Highlights

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

The welcome seals. They were very serious about receiving fish from onlookers.

Where’s my fish?

The Sea World workout in the Sesame Street area. A wonderful place for families—and dads who didn’t think they were going to get a workout at a fish park.

Sea World workout!

The dolphin show was full of surprises.

Bird Lady of Sea World

When you sit in the front row…

My best shot of the day!

You see many amazing things and get soaking wet and move to the back rows.


Back at Sesame St., he was intrigued, but not enough to let them touch him.

Don’t touch me, B and E!

Atlantis was very well done.

Atlantis! There you are! We wondered…

And there is grass by the convention center area. Perfect for a respite. And for children to practice their karate moves.

Play area!

No “trainers” got into the water with the whales. Such beautiful animals. Regal, powerful and in tanks.

Thank you for entertaining us, Shamu.


Sea World Looms

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Tomorrow, 5:30a.m.: This family hits the road for Sea World. We will pick up cousins along the way. We have bathing suits and changes of clothes. Sunblock. Snacks that will be smuggled into the park. I am hoping I will walk through the maneating sharks tunnel without thinking about EQ’s. I am hoping I will watch the Shamu spectacle without constantly worrying if he is going to murder his handlers. I am hoping I won’t cry at the injustice of all the pretty caged sea life and my stint as hypocrite by purchasing tickets and supporting zoos. I am pretty sure I will be totally obsessed with watching my son’s reactions to seeing dolphins up close, sea turtles, orcas, etc. and that my joy at seeing him joyful will override any guilt I am currently experiencing about caged sea life. I’m relieved the Dadda is: Going with us. Cash! Keys! Kids! Cash! Cash! Aaaannnnnd—Sea World!

Nice dolphins! So sorry you are caged.



Kitten, O Kitten…

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Last Mother’s Day I received a pet from my lovely husband. Last year, I was more sleepless than I am these days. That beautiful thing called preschool hadn’t started for us yet. 5:00a.m. wakings were still regular occurrences. Another pet to care for in addition to the two cats was hard for my weary, toddler-focused mind to process. Last Mother’s Day, as my lovely husband was pulling Julian’s cage from the car, I believe I yelled out the kitchen window, quite rudely: “WHAT DID YOU DO!!!”

We love animals!

Then, suddenly, last October we adopted Tucker. I’m still in shock. I honestly believe my lovely husband is on a not-so-secret mission to start a home petting zoo. In addition to two cats and a bird, we adopted a dog who needs to eat 3 times a day and have regular daily exercise. Just when the toddler started sleeping until 6:00a.m., we adopted a dog who requires 3:00a.m. potty breaks. And yet—I love him dearly. Who knew I had so much love to give? I am a magical (possibly futuristic) battery pack of love. An endless font (in ocean blue). A—zzzzzzzzzzz.

We love him and his toddler ways!

My lovely husband and I discussed adopting a kitten and, I thought, were in agreement that 2011 was not the year of the kitten, but remained steadfastly the year of the rabbit—several rabbits, in fact—once domesticated beauties repopulating and hopping through all the front yards on our street, but in no way in need of attention from me beyond the carrots I toss out for them. “Whew! Thank goodness we’re agreed on the kitten issue!” I told my lovely husband. Yup. That’s what I said.


So this Mother’s Day we welcomed Diggory into our petting zoo home. Now, it’s like he’s always lived here. He is one of us. He is (other than my son, Al and Rudycat and the dog) my baby. See the picture below? Obviously he gets me.

Komputer Kitten! Kute!

My lovely husband’s reasoning: “I’ve always felt bad about you losing Charlotte right after we moved to our Ponderosa. I want you to have your own cat again. I mean, yeah we’ll all love him, but he can be—er, yours,” he said as the kitten ripped his hands to shreds with those kitten needle claws and teeth we’d forgotten kittens possess.

Wild Diggory! He hurts.

Of course I adore him, even though it looks as though I cut myself or shoot up because of all the pricks and scratches on my hands and feet. He’s fun to cuddle when he’s asleep. Although he wakes me up intermittently in the dead of night by sticking said needle claws in my back, you only live once and it’s nice for T to have a kitten, for Al and Rudy to have their sedentary cat lives shaken up a bit, for the dog to have one feline who doesn’t hiss at him, for the Mama to have another opportunity to spread her love around as she chugs her morning coffee and for my lovely husband to have his family w/pets—a unit, a joy, a blessing that was a long time coming—for both of us.

He loves books!

Rock on all you late bloomers. That’s right: Rock on! Now please excuse me while I nap before everyone wakes——-oh. Too late.

Playing together!



Easter, 2011 (With Sneezes)…

Monday, April 25th, 2011

It all started with the Easter Egg Tree. We painted/colored it and little accompanying eggs and added a large decorative egg and foam bunnies. We also made foam bunnies to send to relatives and T completed several Easter cards before totally burning out and threatening to throw his Thomas train (tucked into the cargo hold of his mega yellow submarine) at me. I put the crafts and cards away.

The EET (Easter Egg Tree, duh!)…

Until it was time to color eggs, but he made short work of THAT silly craft—or, rather, he turned coloring eggs into something fun, since I wouldn’t let him bash the hard boiled eggs on windows or couch arms or feed them to the dog. That’s my boy! Using your creative noggin! I was tired of egg stuffs, anyway—the dye takes so long if you are aiming for luscious shades. And, anyway, it’s not about ME at Easter. It’s about T. And J, of course, exiting dire circumstances. And the dog—shedding. And Dadda working overtime. Mama single-parenting. From 6:00a.m. to 9:00p.m.-ish. Sometimes. Without a dishwasher.

Monocle, or magnifying glass? Only T knows. And J, of course—along with The Universe.

Egg Dipper As Magnifying Glass…

The dog took matters into his own hands and, while T and I were in his room playing trains and space shuttles, got his nose up on the dining room table and made a meal of the 5 eggs we had colored. T and I returned to the living room to find egg shells and smeared yolk on the floor and a very unhappy doggy.

EEGD (Easter egg eating dog…)…

Then T’s preschool’s Spring Break hit and along with it sneezing fits that turned into a cold for T the day before Easter and, on Easter Morn, misery—6:00a.m.—when he woke for the day after waking every hour all night (poor little guy).

T and his basket in the early a.m.

His cold stopped us from driving to Santa Barbara and visiting the relatives and the beach, but luckily did not stop T from eating his chocolate bunny and jellybeans. This was hard for a mother concerned by her son being repulsed by green vegetables to watch, especially when she was helpless to add flaxseed or wheatgerm to the chocolate bunny and failed to find sugarless jellybeans—so she returned to bed and slept until after 9:00a.m. And, later, had a 2 hour nap with her son who had a 4 hour nap and when everyone woke up, the house smelled like honey wheat bread.

Looking for that jelly bean!

The day was gray, my son was sick, but the house smelled like honey wheat bread because not only had Mama’s first bread machine in her life arrived the day before, but she had survived the crowds at Walmart to procure all the right ingredients for making her first loaf, which her son loved, I mean which my son loved, and which I made, and—I have lost all perspective. There is much metaphor and simile and parallels to be had in this post, but I’m just too tired. As Ingrid told Bogey in that movie: You’ll have to think for both of us—and keep it to yourself.

My first loaf! Why does that sound weird?

After eating my bread, T felt so perky that he joined his dad outside in the yard and they made the beginnings of a vegetable garden and buried watermelon seeds in the earth. Thus, Easter reigned supreme in our house, or, rather, just enough for a little boy who doesn’t know what Easter is, except that chocolate bunnies are involved and Easter Egg Trees and a lot of bunny hoopla and consumer ads suggesting hams and garden sheds and festive outfits. Oh, little lovecup of mine—it’s all about love, love, love. That’s all you need to know. Much love, Your Chocolate Pimp And Ultimate Caregiver Of All Time.

Great garden beginnings…


Blog Break: Tide Pools

Monday, March 21st, 2011

As I was saying, It was an amazing minus tide late Friday afternoon in Santa Barbara, coinciding with (or because of?) the Super Moon. I forgot my camera, but my sister had her phone and all its very cool, super smart apps. The wind was up, so we couldn’t stay long—T still has a lingering cough—but we enjoyed what we got.

Tide Pool! Ooooooooo!

Whether she’s wild or crazed or placid to the eyes, the ocean never ceases to inspire me with her colors and moods and artsy puzzles when she gathers up her skirts and takes a break from old beach. To see my son delight in tide pools? I mean—I hoped he would at least like the ocean and visiting the beach, but that he would squeal and yell I SEE ONE, MAMA, I SEE A HERMIT CWAB and get so excited by anemones and mussels and barnacles—perhaps we share an “ocean” gene. That for his bedtime stories he reaches for books ocean-related? That he can say Architeuthis Dux (archisus ducks) and know that it’s a giant squid, that he can point out a weedy sea dragon (dwagon) or anglerfish—okay, yes I buy him these books, but he also requests them in addition to and usually more than his Dr. Seuss collection and Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Quick As A Cricket. He likes his ocean books. They interest him. And—I admit it—this thrills his mama no end. Following him as he raced from tide pool to pool, sharing his excitement when he discovered sea-bits, traipsing around the living museum of beach, wind blasting our cheeks, ocean air filling our lungs—bliss.

More Tide Pool—can you ever have enough? No…


Torturing My Mother…

Monday, March 14th, 2011

At the Los Angeles Zoo, well into our visit, just after a lunch of cheese pizza and a drink in a container shaped like a smiling crocodile, I gripped my son’s hand and hauled him quickly past the chimpanzee exhibit, which we had to pass by in order to get to the kiddie train, which was suddenly all T could talk about. I glanced behind me and noticed my mother was not keeping up and I experienced a wave of panic. Chimps were pounding—POUNDING—on the viewing window, aggravating other chimps so that in seconds chimp-mania could be heard from the LA Zoo down the coast to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, a crescendo of nightmarish OOOk OOOk AHHHk AHHHks. I was looking around for zoo guards or safehouses or trees I might be able to climb with my son and my mom and hide from escaped chimps or if the chimps discovered us in the tree, I could kick them down with my Nikes and my mom could bash them with her purse or no, over there was the brand new elephant exhibit, we could rush over there and hide behind a friendly Asian elephant, except that the fence surrounding the exhibit hummed and was probably highly electric, so our best bet was the desert tortoise exhibit—I was thinking as the chimps went insane—and hiding in the tortoise dens, perhaps using a pretzel to coax one to block the entrance with its massive shell so that———

Because the zoo, for me, is a little Jurassic Park waiting to explode with escapees, starting with the chimp exhibit and spreading from there. The first time I took T to the zoo, when he was three months old, I spent the visit furious with myself for not stashing a crowbar in the bottom of the stroller just in case escapees threatened us and I felt so, so irresponsible for bringing a little innocent babe to a park filled with dangerous beasts and if my father-in-law hadn’t been with us, I would have insisted to my husband that we leave the ghastly zoo immediately because it was bad enough that the enclosures/pens/exhibits were so small (I mean, no wonder the chimps go nuts and the lions are always asleep and the otter swims in circle after hopeless circle) and worse that one earthquake could unleash residents of the African veldt and then where would we be, but running for the exit with the panicked masses. A crowbar, a crowbar, my breast pump for a crowbar, I thought to myself (incessantly) that first visit with T.

“Like those chimps that ripped that guy’s face off,” I told my mom and she looked horrified and responded, weakly, “Whaaaaaat???” “You know,” I said, as we paused on a bench so my son could gulp crocodile-sippy and catch his breath. We were next to the tortoise exhibit. We couldn’t hear the chimps anymore. Perhaps they’d killed each other. “It was all over the news,” I told my mom as I cased the tortoise exhibit for hiding places. “This couple visited a chimp that used to be theirs and that they donated to a wildlife sanctuary type place and during the visit they were attacked by escaped ‘rogue’ chimps and the husband had his face ripped off. You didn’t hear about that?” “Oh my gosh!” my mom said, paling. “Yeah,” I continued. “I think they pretty much wrenched off his nose. Or bit it off, or whatever. And Jane Goodall,” I said as my mom looked like she might throw up, “Jane Goodall would never let her son, when he was a little boy, near the chimps without her because she knew they’d kill him if they could.” My mom was ashen. We followed T past the tortoises and the empty tapir exhibit (TAPIR—HARMLESS, I was thinking) and watched him run gleefully for the kiddie train. I felt guilty. I had not been absolutely truthful with my mom about the Jane Goodall information. I can’t remember if JG said the chimps would actually kill her son, but that bit was crucial to my point—which was: YOU CAN’T TRUST THE WILD, EVEN IF IT’S PENNED. “What really amazes me,” I told my mom as we watched my son listen to the train-ride-lady tell him the train was broken. “Is how people grab their kids and run FOR the chimp exhibit when theh chimps bang on things and bare their teeth and scream. It’s like running FOR the spewing volcano or sailing FOR the whirlpool or sticking out your arm so the rabid dog can gnaw it to the bone.” “Hm,” my mom said with great sadness as I scooped my devastated son up in my arms and promised him an ice cream cone to compensate for no train ride. He lost his balance when I released him and skinned his left knee on concrete. As I carried my weeping, exhausted child a quarter of a mile to the exit and the ice cream stand, I thought about my zoo fear and how I keep coming back for more and I wondered, Who am I? A mother, or a—what’s that word—do I mean sadist—no—it’s coming—wow, the flamingo exhibit really stinks today—I wonder if I’ll get a nap later—oooh, that ice cream looks so good—masochist, that’s it. Am I a mother, or a masochist? No, that’s not right. Am I a mother or a—I would so love some ice cream—a repressed zoologist. No, that’s not right, I thought as my son generously offered me a bite of his vanilla ice cream. Am I a mother or a—what time were we up this morning? 4:30? I’m tired. I’m just tired. Again. Mmm…

I didn’t ask my mom her opinion on whether I was a sadist, masochist, repressed zoologist, paranoid freak or simply brain-fried from lack of sleep. I figured I had put her through enough for one day.




Saturday, January 8th, 2011

He runs! I follow!

1. Pay closer attention to patience and being in the moment with all things concerning my son.

2. Lift my eyes up from the dishwater and enjoy myself. Lifting my eyes up from the DISHWASHER would be nice, but perhaps the happiness I feel lifting my eyes up from the dishwater and its endless supply of dishes needing attention, glancing out the windows, perhaps catching sight of the once-tame-now-feral big white bunnies digging holes in the front yard or frolicking along the sidewalk, catching sight of the many, many neighbors’ Christmas lights and air-Santas still in place, catching sight of a piece of red sky or red-tailed hawk swooping or that amazing palomino clopping along our road, its rider decked out in sombrero and spangly chaps—-perhaps these sorts of visuals will thrust me into such a happy place—happy, content, appreciating the background sounds of my son playing tug-of-war with the dog and his toy—that I will totally bliss-out and attract a silver dishwasher into my life. Dishwasher or dishwater, I resolve to focus more on these three words: All is well.

3. Not be all crabby about my February birthday (for once).

4. Continue to give to a charity each month, even if only $10, even if only $100.

5. Continue to write every day so that I can end the day knowing that I have written and stepped: Forward.

6. Remind my husband to remind me that we must remind ourselves to have our movie-night w/popcorn popped in olive oil, even if such a movie-night seems impossible that particular week.

7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

8. Plant more beauty in the backyard because it’s important for writers and tired parents and young minds to look out the living room windows and see blooms that weren’t there the night before. Heck, turn the backyard into a forest with a non-brackish stream for splashing maniacally in and redwoods and blowzy ferns and foliage you can crawl under for a nap or pizza party—now there’s a resolution.

9. Keep thinking positively.

10. Keep optimism always close.

And it goes without saying, but here it is in writing: Read, read, read (to my book-loving 3 year old, for myself, forever).



Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

It’s a new year. What a concept! How marvelous to start afresh with resolutions carefully typed into Word, resolutions sought with open mind and heart in (extremely) rare moments of domicile privacy, or—fished for from the sweetly-art-deco-bottom of an emptied Mikasa champagne flute on NYE. Hurrah, PB! Hurrah for resolutions!

Sheer inspiration…

Please stay tuned. PB cannot write more this evening, as it is now 10:18p.m., ALREADY and one of PB’s huge resolutions, already broken, is to be settling down for sleep by 10p.m., every night, to abate the—difficulty—of her son’s 5.a.m. wakings and the dog’s I WILL BE WALKED IF ANYONE MOVES IN THAT BED AFTER THE HOUR OF 4:00 IN THE MORNING, and the cats’ SCRATCHING THE LAMPSHADE, WE’RE SCRATCHING THE LAMPSHADE AND MOVING ON TO THE HALL CARPET, WE’RE RUNNING ACROSS YOUR SLEEPING BODIES, WE’RE KNOCKING DOWN PICTURES ON THE DRESSER, WE WANT FOOD, WE WANT, WE WANT—listen, it’s just time to go to bed. Happy New Year. I heart resolutions. Mine have already come in handy this 4th day into year-bliss. Seriously! Peace. Um—resolution-on, man.

Manor owners.


Blog Break: More Christmas…

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

I don’t know about your house, but THESE are the kind of Christmas shenanigans going on around here:

Salmon and cream cheese, also pb&j

Not to mention early Christmas presents from Semi-Secret Santa Mommies:


Or Christmas caroling to the dog:

Fa la la la la…

But this, THIS is really what’s going on around here—every—single—second:

Christmas Mad Dog…

O perfect, metaphor-catching picture! Yes, I vacuum up dog hair twice daily, rise at 4:00 a.m. to allow the child into our bed, awake every 5 minutes until 6:00a.m., when it’s time to get up for the day because T wakes with his headlights on BRIGHT and is ready to rock and roll and eat pancakes I’ve secretly stuffed with carrot puree and applesauce, yes I’m still a sleepless mother despite preschool, but I can honestly say: I am enjoying the season. He is enjoying the season. My currently snoozing husband, too.



Pardon My Absence…

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Who knew the end of the year could be jam-packed with so many changes? New dog, preschool (!!!), Thanksgiving at our house—well, that happened last year, too. I guess I mean: HOLIDAY SEASON (MADNESS)!!! In addition to us all waking up at 4a.m. (at which point little boy comes and gets in bed with us and plays tag with my kidneys with his heels), 5a.m. (at which point Dadda takes the dog for a rollerblade/walk), 6a.m. (at which point the youngster among us is up until naptime). I am also editing/revising my novel. And mopping floors and finishing Christmas shopping THIS WEEK and organizing a booked calendar and hoping I’m not forgetting anything, anyone—like this blog. And—well, see picture below. ‘Tis the season! Let us Hallelujah. Until the next post.

Fa la la la la! (etc.)

Blog Break Ad Nauseum…

Monday, November 8th, 2010

There are reasons for all the blog breaks I have posted of late, instead of writing meaningful material. Ha ha! Place your mouse over each photo to receive an explanation. Or—not…

Uncle Bob’s Birthday!

“Papa” visits and brings miniature golf platforms.

My dad’s 70th birthday!
(One sister is not featured in photo as she lives in Iowa—however, we missed her greatly, although the Pater HAD TO ACT as if overwhelmed by female offspring invading his household. Could not cooperate and just smile normally for camera…

Dinner guest!

We love him and his toddler ways!
Newest addition to our family!

Frikkin’ Time Change!!!
Yes, that’s right: Frikkin’ time change!

Yeah, and this!
Which means I’m writing/editing.

And my son—

Candy Boy Buzz!

turns 3 in 5 days. November is a busy month! And it’s Christmas at Target. Ouch.

PB Writes

Blog Break #—oh, who cares? Woof!

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010


Tucker is in the house—and yard and car and—he is everywhere. Hooray!

Woofy Woes…

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Recently a dog came to visit us, a potential adoptee. We were nervous before doggy arrived. We spruced up the house and my husband mowed the lawn. We brushed our hair and teeth minutes before the arrival. We wore nice clothing and had doggy toys on hand we’d picked up at a pet store earlier that day. We had been told that “if all went well” with the visit, then doggy might be ours that very afternoon. We were excited—and I was a little nervous. The last potential adoptee tried to nip my son and slam me down on a coffee table and chew off my shoulder. This latest dog, however, was listed as “kid and cat friendly”, and as looking for its “forever home”.

We really want a doggy. Sometimes we visit Lab Rescue Man’s home down the street from us. He might have up to 6 waggy doggies playing in his yard at one time. T is in heaven when this happens. He runs with the pack and throws balls for them. He pets them and kisses them, if they’ll let him. He’ll give them commands—sit, doggy drop ball, etc.


We are nice people. Responsible adults run this household and raise a child. We are all animal lovers. So of course we were excited to meet the doggy, even if we turned out not to be doggy’s “forever home”. As long as doggy didn’t try to eat us, we could at least give her some fun in the Ponderosa’s roomy yard, give her a chew-toy to take back to her foster home, have an afternoon of play.

Rudy! And dinosaur! Living together!

“THIS DOG IS NOT FOR YOU,” declared a Cruella-De-Vil with an unraveling eagle’s nest of auburn hair, her Mute Dude trailing after her. She hadn’t even made it to our walkway, but was shouting at us from way over there on the pavement. I stood dumbly on our front porch, my hand frozen in greeting, my mouth agape, my son behind me crying, eagerly, “Doggy! Doggy’s here!”

“I–um,” I stuttered as the wiggly black lab on the choke chain and leash yanked the woman closer.


Charcat—may she RIP. 18 1/2 wonderful years.

I stared at her, baffled, as my husband took over. He greeted the dog generously, then Mrs. Freakazoid and her Mute Dude. By this time, doggy had reached me and I bent to give her some love, my husband trying to calm Mrs. F with pleasantries. I knew he was as baffled as I was. Mrs. F had insisted, initially, that we meet the dog, had insisted that doggy was perfect for us, had already met my husband and son at an adoption fair she was running, had decided that the happy black lab licking my hands might be our “forever dog”. So—WTF?

“Well, why don’t you WALK her,” Mrs. Freakazoid said all suddenly sickly sweet and nice in a bi-polar, schizophrenic moment. “Just go ahead and WALK her.”

She thrust the leash in my hands and I obeyed, walking doggy along the sidewalk for about ten paces, during which doggy lunged, bounded and tested her choke chain. She was only a year old. She had tons of energy and no training. She was going to need some help, okay—but I couldn’t figure out why Mrs. F was sure doggy wasn’t for us.

Then, in his cute little voice, my son asked to hold the leash. Before I could answer, Mrs. Freakazoid jumped in.


She. Yelled.

My son was aghast. Who was this super scary lady? What had he done wrong? I saw these questions race through his mind. I watched his lower lip tremble. He turned and fled to my husband behind us (poor S desperately trying to lure conversation from Mute Dude).

Here’s what should have happened next: I should have handed Mrs. Freakazoid the leash and told her: Thank you for bringing this lovely puppy to visit us. I’m afraid we won’t be using your adoption agency. I’m sure you’ll find doggy the right home. Goodbye now.

Because how could it get better after that, after a total stranger yelled at my son, a wonderful little boy excited to see a dog. Mrs. Freakazoid didn’t wait for my response to my son’s question. She didn’t wait to hear me say, “Doggy is very excited right now, baby. Mama will hold the leash.” She didn’t watch and learn how I will introduce my son to a dog in our lives. She just jumped in, gnashing, rabid, threw us all to the ground and tried to chew our shoulders off.

Mrs. Freakazoid’s brain ALL THE TIME.

Instead of getting rid of the crazy lady, I said, “Why don’t we bring the dog into our yard, since you need to do a yard check anyway.” Sigh. Hindsight is one of my unfortunate talents (see holiday-cookie-recipe posts for other unfortunate talents). I guess at that point I was still thinking there might be hope, or I was being foolishly polite, or I was probably thinking that we “needed” this lady in order to find our family dog—but I have learned that I am the sort of person who must shut the door on crazy people, or bad things will happen, to myself, usually, but also, in this case, to my CHILD. Hello! I will never not trust my gut instincts again.

In the Ponderosa’s back yard, doggy and my son ran around the lawn beautifully, gleefully, having fun. For a moment, I felt vindicated—Mrs. Freakazoid was as mute as her companion while T and doggy romped—but when T tried to show doggy one of his large colorful plastic toys, one that made doggy a little nervous, Mrs. Freakazoid’s switch flipped again. She frothed at the mouth and shook her head, her hair pouffing so much it scared birds from the trees, her bi-polar/schizo-lunatic thing in full swing and after that she pretty much got out of our lives with the dog—forever: When my husband returned home from work the next day, his big news was that Mrs. Freakazoid had dumped us from the rescue’s list of possible doggy owners. She told my husband that until our son was 10, we would not be getting a dog from her rescue, that we were not a family fit for a dog at this time, that my son would hurt the dog.

We love animals!

My first reaction was to phone Mrs. Freakazoid and scream at her, but that would have made me as crazy and Freakazoid-ish as herself. My husband had dealt with her by calmly, graciously telling her that he disagreed with her assessment, that we were moving on to a new doggy rescue because yes we will have a family dog before our son is 10. “Let’s leave it at that, PB,” he suggested. I knew he was right, but it took me a day of teeth-grinding and one stern email to Mrs. Freakazoid—that I deleted—before I could move on. And I remembered something Mrs. F had said before leaving our house with Mute Dude. My husband had commented that she must really love dogs to be so involved with them, and she had answered (in a rare moment of quiet tonage), “Oh, well, I don’t LOVE dogs, I like them, but somebody’s got to do this, I guess, I mean, I’m not a dog FANATIC, not at all.” ??? I hope she is helping doggies, absolutely—but Mrs. F needs people-skills lessons and to spend time with toddlers and I need to never let anyone I don’t know talk to my child like that again without addressing it immediately, bottom line.

So when the home-check person from a different rescue came to visit us today, I was ready. If she showed any bi-polar tendencies, if she showed even a hint of displeasure toward my son, I would have her OUT OF MY HOUSE. You know. In a gracious sort of manner, but–out. Out.

Brotherly love.

The lady who visited us, however, was lovely, just lovely, an obvious dog lover/enthusiast, totally supportive of us, sure that she can find us a family dog. She told us how beautiful our son is, how perfect our yard is for a dog, praised us for wanting to help a doggy in need. She made no promises, but offered her help. An hour after she’d left, she sent us an email saying she enjoyed meeting us and hoped she would have some dogs for us to meet soon.

“Oooookay,” I said and breathed—no, I breeeeeeeeeeeeeathed. “Okay.”

A 3 mos old T loves his animals.

PB WRITES (PB’s Writing Blog)

Fashion Watch: The Man In The Yellow Hat…

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

What is up with this guy?

Camping shirt. Gah!

At least in Ron Howard’s animated movie, “Curious George 2” The Man In The Yellow you-know-what is given a girlfriend who tells him (basically—she’s not too bright—look at her choice in men): “Lose the job-obsession, or lose me. And, er, upset George.” Of course, Hat Man doesn’t get it. Unless you count the end of the movie—when job-obsession wins out with a promotion and a smattering of I LOVE MY MONKEY AND WILL SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIM type of emotion (bye-bye, girlfriend).

But who could TMITYH (The Man In The Yellow you-know-what) be paired up with, anyway—male or female? And why bother pairing him with anyone? George, the color yellow, his hat and new furniture and rugs are the only objects of any of TMITYH’s affections and he almost kills George in every single episode or movie, through carelessness, gross (nearly tragic) neglect and the inability to not be swayed by others (“Sure, send my monkey up into Space on a mission he might never return from! George! Here’s your Space helmet! Get the hell on that rocket! We’re serving science! NOW!”).

Spacewear. Gah! Vomit.

And yet, when I was a child and reading “Curious George”, I did not notice TMITYH’s flaws and pathological bone-headedness. I had eyes only for George being curious. I was never afraid for George—more pitying. I was too new to the world to blame TMITYH for putting George in life-threatening situations. If TMITYH gave his permission for George to play with the radioactive stub of nuclear waste fallout, then it must be okay—and if George started glowing and feeling sick and shed all of his monkey hair, well then it must be his fault, right? Because TMITYH is authority. And when I was a child, I was made aware that Questioning Authority was not a good idea.

However, now that I am a parent—i.e., authority—this much is certain: If it was me and TMITYH in a dark alley, I know who would emerge with George perched on her shoulder, kissing her head and making happy, grateful monkey noises to the tune of, “THANK YOU FOR SAVING MY LIFE!!!”

Unless, of course, George is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, which is probably more the reality.

Peace wristwatch! Fashion, baby! Fashion!

(Peace sign wristwatch—now THAT’S fashion, baby!)

Day Out: Nemo…

Friday, August 6th, 2010

I flow with an attitude of serendipity through all kinds of experiences.
—Louise Hay

Seals! Or Sea Lions! Couldn’t read the placard. Too much going on!

Today being a prime example of attempting to make “flowing” a reality at the overcrowded Long Beach Aquarium Of The Pacific and its magnificent, child-endearing cases and cases of fish, coral, anemones, jellyfish, weedy sea dragons, super weird s*** with mouths and tails you can touch and even a bull shark with restless twitches in a tank big enough for a convention of hermit crabs, maybe, but—a tank big enough to house that many sharks? (Turn Mind Off After $20-something admission fee, just: Turn. Mind. Off…).

So many fish, so little a guy to view it all…

Having been on a serious Nemo kick since Catalina Island and the charming rentable house we stayed in with The Movie he had never seen before because Nemo’s mother is wiped out in the first two minutes and I hate that—

Ah, the mighty sea turtle! He can never hang around long enough…

Having been on a serious Nemo kick (we own the movie now, oh yeah—but I fast forward through mom’s fatal chomping by a barracuda), and not having been to the aquarium since October, 2009, when the giant water squirting squid was all he wanted and we ate next to some kids atrocious to birds

Fish! Fish! Fish!

Having been on a serious Nemo kick due to worry that my son watches too many DVD’s while mama stares blank-eyed into her 6am cup of coffee—I am on a serious outings kick. Because of T’s current Nemo fascination, where to go BUT the aquarium and its sweetly caged aqua-beasts and (don’t know why it’s there, but it’s nice) Lorikeet Forest?

Birds and fish! Birds and fish!

I knew I wouldn’t be getting a nap and I was prepared for that, prepared to go a few thousand extra miles this day, but I wasn’t prepared for my son’s enthusiasm. He told anyone and everyone standing at every case HI!!! FISH!!! WOOK!!! FISH!!! And, when we found the Nemo case, HI!!! NEMO!!! WOOK!!! DURY!!! (i.e., Dory—many, many Nemos and Dorys swimming together beautifully, making kids BALLISTIC with excitement—they must have planned it that way, right? Those diabolical-aquarium-planner types? Or—Disney?).

Nemo! Dory! OMG!

Enthusiasm that, several times, accelerated into chaotic emotion preceding (as I know from experience in Target and malls) tantrums, during which my son shouts STOP IT STOP IT STOP, as though I’m beating him in public (instead of just standing there with a slump in my shoulders and a glance at my wristwatch as he enters serious turmoil). Arrrrgh! I felt bi-polarish the entire fish-viewing: Utterly elated by his elation, then sunk (pun intended) by his own tot-bi-polarish angst. Little guy!

OMG. TG for fake ones.

However (and I’m not patting myself on the back with big whoops or woots or however we spell shizzzz—I’m simply stating my own experience): Despite my frustration at my son’s frustration with Listening-To-Mama, I was pleased with my TONE when dealing with his—well, with his tone. True, I did use the, “We’ll have to go back to the car, then, won’t we?”, but I did not raise my voice, did not accuse him of grievous wrong-doing, did not beg or plead or argue or lie on the darkish aquarium carpet in the fetal position, sucking my thumb before a gathering crowd. I did what I’ve been practicing since he turned 2 and startled me with his first tantrum–only this time, today, it was easier for me—my parenting method was easier—it flowed: I talked to him. And talked to him some more, whatever his reaction—until he calmed and the angst receded from his eyes like (yes, I’m writing it and sticking by it!) a minus tide…

Way up there, fish. And more fish. Way up there…

And then I bought him a Nemo.

Just love you so much!

Bird Bliss…

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

The baby birds have hatched. We ooh and ahhh over the tiny heads and uhinged beaks of 3 (possibly 4, hard to tell) house finches making their presence known with tortured-mice screams the toddler is not sure he enjoys. Fascinating, though, is watching both mama and papa bird sit on the nest at the same time and feed their young. Then they zoom off, presumably to round up more food. I didn’t know papa birds did such a service. It’s lovely. It’s wonderful. It’s teamwork in the wild.


Next chore: rig up a net so that if anyone falls out of the nest, they will not land on the patio slash cat-land and we witness nature’s cruelty. No, no, noooooooo….


Mama’s Day, 2010

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Stopping to smell the May roses gone wild…

This year, Mother’s Day started the friday before, around 6:30p.m. From my post at the kitchen sink, scrubbing dried ketchup from T’s food tray, I watched my dearly beloved pull up and extract a huge white cage from the passenger side of the car. I slid back the kitchen window so hard it banged. WHAT DID YOU DO! I shouted quite rudely.

Cat-safe cage hanging!

I’ve had some experiences with birds. More than one wild house finch has required my rescuing services, the last one just a week ago, when I pulled a youngster from Al’s mouth and T and I rushed it to the Wildlife Waystation in Calabasas. One wing was tweaked, I think tweaked before Al’s mouth tasted it, which is why he was able to catch the finch at all, because when you look like THIS, you don’t move very bird-catcher-cat nimbly. Mostly you lie around licking your large pink belly, when you’re an Al.


Back when I was a single woman in Los Feliz, I opened my security gate one morning and there he was, Mr. Peabody, my new love, collapsed on the ground at my feet. I rushed him inside, revived him with drops of tap water on his beak and popped him in a cage I had from saving a wild finch who’s leg had been damaged by a pop-up sprinkler and who I’d nursed back to health. In went Mr. Peabody for 3 or 4 years. He died right before I moved in with my (then fiancee) husband, destroying me. I kept him in a small box in our freezer for two years (yes, creepy shades of “A Rose For Emily”), until we moved here, to the Ponderosa, and I was able to give Mr. P a proper burial in our back yard.


For 2 years my husband couldn’t get over having a dead bird in his freezer—still can’t. He brings it up to friends and colleagues and me, when I mention my missing-of Mr. Peabody…

WHAT DID YOU—oh whatever. Givehimtome, givehimtome, givehimtome now.

Regardless of his whole frozen bird complex, S obviously took to heart how much I miss Mr. Peabody and so he got me Julian for Mother’s Day: a very young, green parakeet I plan on taming and giving free-fly time around here. We’ve hung his cage up extremely high (meaning away from cats) and in a central location, so he can see us coming and going, hear us, hear the TV, the birds outside, can be in on all the wild action in these parts.


Our son calls him “baby bird”, said with a mixture of shock and awe every time he stops and looks up at the cage, which is often. “Baby bird!”


So for once I didn’t save a bird, but was given a bird and it’s such a different feeling. Part of me feels, well, rude: Oh god–another animal to feed, water and worry about, NO NO NO!!! But that panic passes when I watch Julian explore his food bowl by plopping down in it, or tussle with a rock-hard piece of bagel, or when he emits those cheerful chirps and delights my son. I’m glad he’s here. I look forward to coaxing him onto my finger one of these days, when he decides I’m worth trusting.


Welcome to the Ponderosa, baby bird. Just—live a long time, okay? And prosper.

Seriously, though: Thank you.


Speaking of Mantas…

Monday, January 25th, 2010


I neglected to add this photo to my last post. I’m told snorkeling—which I’m not afraid to do, not really, not anymore—is far more shark-attracting than scuba diving—which I am afraid to do. But gazing at Mark’s photos makes me want to dive. So some day, when my toddler is all grown and married and I have grandchildren and I’m an octogenarian, say, I’ll have them push me into a pool and I’ll get PADI certified and then go on my first dive and maybe feed mantas. And if it’s that day the mako comes along with a liking for old lady flesh, so be it. I’ll have raised my son, I’ll have seen my grandchildren. And my husband—who is not afraid to scuba dive, despite having seen sharks and eels and monster lobsters protecting their monster young—my husband, who will no doubt live to be 100+—will have mandatory down time from his cuckoo spouse.

Until then, I’ll photo-gaze. Or glass-bottom-boat venture. Or snorkel…WHERE IN BLAZES ARE MY FINS?

Boo Break: Belated…

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Speaking like a giraffe.

Giraffe for: I want my cookie!

And last year: Arrrrrrr! Our little pirate/poet with mega un-sealegs and hair that had no idea which way to grow!

Arrrrr! Just learned to walk!

And this year in addition to being a giraffe, a pirate with hair that has figured life out. (same costume! only 12 months later he can wear the pants)

Arrrrrrrr! Big boy pirate!

Same goofy parents, though. Poor kid. Arrrrrrr (said like sigh).

Arrrrrrrr!!! cough cough cough

The Mama Comes Close To Tattling…

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Recently I took my son to an aquarium. He says the word fish now, recognizes different types of fish in books and those in the framed pictures on his bedroom walls. He says seahorse, starfish (yes, I KNOW it’s politically correct in aquariums to say SEASTAR since the starfish is not a fish, but COME ON NOW—the whale shark is not a shark, but who wants to say The Great And Awe Inspiring Whale Fish—the seahorse not a horse, the jellyfish not a—-etc.), and he says an entertaining version of octopus, so I thought it was time we hit the fish-stocked tanks to see those words up-close and swimming around.

What my son preferred more than viewing the marine subjects, however, was pushing buttons on the giant squid that made it squirt water at passersby. He could have done that all day. All. Day. alldayalldayalldayalldayallday…

Squirting squid

I was grateful when he agreed to a lunch break.

T never ceases to amaze me: I bought a sandwich and the second we were outside at the picnic tables he zipped into a chair, snatched half the sandwich from me and chowed down as though high chairs and lovingly prepared bite-sized pieces of food have never been a part of his life. I took a chair next to him and marveled over eating lunch with my son. Maaaarveled at his big boy bites that included lettuce, marveled that he never eats this way at home, my mind click-clicking away on new ideas for home mealtimes for my normally finnicky son—like, make EVERYTHING sandwiches!!!—T pointing at the pigeons and finches surrounding us, talking excitedly with his mouth full—when suddenly I noticed: Them.

Similar to the zoo with its Silverback’s Cafe grilling meat within smelling distance of the gorillas in their little exhibit, the aquarium’s Cafe Scuba sells fish and chips. So you can walk around and view the lovely fish and then——eat fish. A group of barely-teens boys sat at the table next to ours, inhaling their cooked fish fare, until they decided it was more fun to throw their fish and chips at the birds, kick at the birds with their feet and make a big fuss squealing (yes, squealing) about the birds milling around our tables. One boy wadded up a piece of bread into a tight pellet and beaned a finch so hard it peeped in shock and no doubt pain.

“No, you don’t hit the birds with your food or kick them, okay? You do not do that.”

The boys avoided eye contact with me. I’d probably humiliated them. I looked around. A table of elders was nearby, totally ignoring the boys. Should I have told their elders? Should I have gone inside and fetched an aquarium security type? Should I have tattled vs. take action? I glanced at my son. He was finger painting his arm with a dollop of mayo and uttering pleasant gibberish. I knew that if it wasn’t for his presence, if it wasn’t for the fact that one day he would be as old as those bird-abusing boys next to us, I would have confronted the boys more directly, in a manner I would never want my son to see or think his mother capable of, as in:

1. Get the f*#% away from the f*%@ing birds NOW! Okay? NOW!
2. You know what, dude? You know how you look, beaning a tiny bird? You look weeeeeeeeak, dude. Weeeeeeeeak. Now get the f*@% away from that finch!
3. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (the blood curdling kind of scream that brings the whole world running, emitted while standing atop a chair, fists clenched and shaking with rage)

I’m currently trying to teach T not to pull the cats’ tails or sit on Al The Naturally Large Cat’s enormous belly. I’m trying to teach him the joys of live fish and gorillas. All over the aquarium, dedicated volunteers speak daily, tirelessly to the crowds about conservation and respect for ocean inhabitants. Enter: The Bird Beaning Boys. What to do? How to react? How to prepare my son for field trips in his future? How to point out injustice without humiliating young, developing minds? But why are the developing minds committing injustices anyway? Why aren’t they listening? Why aren’t they practicing what they’re being taught? Why will boys be boys? What the hell does that really mean? Why the HELL do I ask why? How can I be a mother and be this clueless?

T and I packed up and went for a walk to the park outside the aquarium, the one with the view of the Queen Mary and that pretty lighthouse. T can say lighthouse. And oose iner for cruise liner. But he wasn’t interested in those things or the kids racing around the lawn, 10/11-year-oldish kids running off their lunches. T was interested in sitting under a shady palm tree and ransacking my backpack. As he did so, I watched the children, unable to imagine my baby that old. Hey, a girl running with a pack (pod?) of other girls declared loudly. Who dares me to kick a pigeon?

Oh dear god, I muttered, glancing around for elders, but my intervention wasn’t necessary this time. The elders blew whistles and children immediatley formed lines and marched off towards the lighthouse.

I confess I don’t ever want my son to bean finches with his food or to kick pigeons or shoot elk or polar bears or 3-legged wolves or take out any aggression on any animal. I want him to love Al The Naturally Large Cat and the entire animal kingdom. I may snuff the occasional cockroach or ant legion, but I have always championed for animal rights, saved birds, dogs, cats, mice, squirrels, or tried to. I know children need to flex control and power muscles—but probably I need to read up on teaching limits, or teaching the benefits of not kicking a pigeon or harpooning a whale. Right? Still, I thought, helping T put everything back into the pack. I’m glad I told the bird beaning boys to cut it out, even if my tone wasn’t—the nicest. Maybe there is no “nice” way of stopping such things, or not from a stranger.

I watched my son find the only mud patch in the park and grind his shoes in it gleefully. I cheered him on. Nearby, a pigeon watched us, head cocked, as though really, REALLY listening.