Stupid Human Tricks: Only You Can Prevent Oven Fires

I had seen the future and I knew what it held. Yet, like Cassandra in Greek myth, the vision of what was To Be remained sadly unheeded.

It all started because my young cat Harry, who is normally happy to spend his day whipping around in circles trying to catch that always-surprising wiggly thing on the back of his butt, suddenly proved to me he was actually a lot smarter than I had imagined.

At some point, he'd figured out a way to break into the Tupperware containers containing his kibble. Which is remarkable considering I have had trouble getting into them myself.

Perhaps chasing your tail hones the reflexes. I don't know.

Anyway, because of the catburglary, I was forced to put the containers of kibble into a place where someone without thumbs could not go: my oven. Harry and his partner in crime, Alice, had already figured out how to open all of the kitchen cabinets, and I imagine when I get my next credit card statement I'll see they've also run up a whole bunch of internet bills-- Ebaying scratching post mansions, Netflixing The Truth About Cats and Dogs, stuff like that.

The oven had been my last forbidden locale.

Yet, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew there was a risk I would forget that my oven had become a giant kibble storage unit and Bad Things Would Happen.

Last evening was the night of Very Bad Things.

I think it went wrong because I had steak on my mind. I'd been looking forward to it all day like a rattlesnake sits coiled for an unwary hiker's leg. So when I whisked through the door in the evening, I was a whirlwind of pre-steak activity and excitement.

I put down my stuff, grabbed the kibble from the oven, fed Alice and Harry, put the kibble back, went upstairs and changed, came back down and...

Preheated the oven.

Clearly, I have the short-term memory of a hummingbird on speed.

A movie, I thought. A movie would be nice to watch along with my Savory Steaky Joy. So I went to my DVD cabinet and began to peruse the selections.

Soon the cats were acting funny, as if they seemed to be hearing something I wasn't, which I didn't think much of at first, since it can be the house settling, a car door outside, a stinkbug two floors up, or two spiders duking it out in the basement.

Until I noticed the sound of indoor hail raining down.

Alas, it was not a meteorological system sweeping through my home. It was the sound of a two-pound bag of freshly-roasted cat food escaping its rapidly-melting Tupperware jail and testing the bonds of gravity.

The smell of plastic and hot turkey-fiber nuggets wafted in great black clouds. And as I shrieked, turned off the oven and began to say a few words of mourning for my beloved pink vintage Tupperware, Alice and Harry were summoning up their appetites like two regulars at Old Country Buffet.

So there I was, trying to keep them from sucking down potentially chemically-coated kibble like small, furry Dysons, while trying to peel plastic off my oven grill before it stuck forever.

Of course, devoted blogger that I am, I also had to take photos. Yes, for the loss of vintage pink Tupperware, one sheds a tear. For personal enlightenment to one's own deep failings, one finds new understanding. A blog post, however, that is really good stuff. 

(Remember: only you can prevent oven fires. Only you.)

PS- I never did get the steak.

Going Nuts: Pine Mouth Paranoia and the Seeds of Dread

Look how quiet, cute and innocent they seem. Alas...

I'm from New Jersey originally and while I'd like, for the sake of accuracy, to set the record straight and say I never, ever knew anyone who:

--Wore more bling than Liberace in a chandelier showroom
--Was so tan George Hamilton was looking for sunning tips
--Considered leopard and tiger prints to be "neutrals"
--Had fist fights in the mall parking lot over someone named "Big Jimmy" or "Little Vinnie" or "The Attitude"

I do think there's a certain element that permeates the culture of the Jersey tri-state area that the "reality" shows don't focus on: neuroticism. Specifically good old-fashioned hypochondria.

Comedian Richard Lewis could be our Patron Saint.

Mine started on Tuesday, when I did something I'm not proud of, and I'm kind of hesitant to even mention here. It was about 7:30 in the morning, I was at work early, and my stomach let out a rumble that probably caused local meteorologists to recheck their Doppler Radar screens for oncoming thunderclouds.

I tried to resist the outspoken nature of my internal organs at this point, but they persisted like a Mary Kay cosmetics representative determined to earn her first pink car at the risk of alienating the neighbors.

So I decided to scrounge my office. Sometimes I have breakfast bars there for just this occasion. But what I found in the very back of my snack cupboard this day was a package of Fig Newtons old enough to remember the Bush Administration.

I ate two of them. They were rock hard and bitter... Like so many of us felt after the Bush Administration, coincidentally.

But they kept the hungries at bay, so I didn't think much of it until I had lunch including my beloved french fries from a favorite local food truck, they were bitter. This started to be concerning.

But I had projects to do and the day moved on, so I went home and forgot about it until I had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. It was a suspiciously bitter bread and ball o' meat that I had that day.

It was by this time I had convinced myself that I had a brain tumor or organ failure or some epicurean epilepsy and I probably needed to go to the doctor. I managed to sleep that night, only to get up in the morning and find my breakfast bar to be untasty in that same, sour-metallic fashion.

So it was with trembling hand I typed in "bitter taste in my mouth" into The Google, expecting to learn I had picked up some disease that would eventually make my tongue implode upon itself.

Instead, it was chatty about pine nuts.

Forum discussions, news exposes. All of them talking about pine nuts causing this mysterious bitter taste that doesn't go away for several days up to even a month. Why, I had eaten pine nuts! Over the course of a week, I had made and enjoyed a Greek pasta salad that I had riddled with a liberal helping of the very nuts in question. The last bowl of the yumminess had been had on Sunday-- two days before the bitterness began. And that is apparently exactly as long as it takes people to begin to develop the symptoms of "Pine Mouth Syndrome."

"Pine mouth syndrome?" It sounds like something you'd say about Northwest Territory politicians with a gift for gab. But it's real, and apparently happening to lots of folks all over the web who are freaking out just like me because a tiny, tasty seed has made their world bitter.

Some of these people aren't even originally from New Jersey. So with enough evidence at my fingertips, even I, Queen of all that is Neurotic, was able to feel consoled and figure I probably wasn't going to die in the next week.
Of course, I still ate those aged Fig Newtons. There really is no telling the lasting effects of that.


There are many unexpected moments in life for the not-quite-caffeinated. I'm about to tell you all a tale I probably will regret sharing. But never let it be said that I don't give my all for the sake of this humor blog.

It started with my two young cats, Harry and Alice, who have this morbid fascination with my spidery, cluttered, musty, dusty basement.

It is a hotbed of excitement for them down there, where multi-legged waterbugs and arachnids duke it out for total house domination...

Where clothes are stored that are so out-of-style they're right on the cusp of a comeback...

And where paints and tiny eye-screws are just waiting for some curious paws to rattle them around and potentially ingest them, meriting a nice emergency trip to Mr. Vet.

I do not let my cats go down there. So naturally, this is the place they want to be the mostest in the entire world.

True to the cat dominance found in most human-feline relationships, I've found the only time I'm able to successfully slip down there without fending off unwanted furry accompaniment is when they're engaged in their second favorite activity: stuffing themselves with catfood like they were ravenous tigers at an all-you-can-eat gazelle bar.

I tell you all this because I had done a load of laundry and thought this morning's kibblefest would be the perfect time to duck into the basement to pick it up. It happened to be a load of underwear.

But when I came upstairs, the cats had decided to ignore their previous gorgetime protocol and wait at the door for an opportunity to sneak into the basement, choosing that over even the joys of Salmon-Tuna Fusion flavor.

It was as I bolted the door (I have to bolt it since Alice has figured out how to open the door on her own) and I entered the livingroom with my arms full, when a single pair of bikinis fell from my arms...

And promptly disappeared. Blink. Poof.

Now the laws of physics said they really should have been lying right there at my feet, and yet, in a split second they were gone, vanished into the ether. I hadn't had coffee yet and simply couldn't make sense of the thing.

Until I glanced into the kitchen. Because there, in the kitchen, at his bowl, munching away happy as can be, possibly humming a purry little tune to himself, was my boy Harry... with a pair of pink bikinis around his neck and waist like some demented Elizabethan collar and one-piece swimsuit ensemble.

Maybe I need to watch fewer episodes of Project: Runway. The cats, I think, are getting ideas.