The Great Lobster Crisis Of New Year’s 2022

The Engineer gets a regular refrigerated delivery of medication for the tiny woodland sprite Lilly Bast, whose thyroid, as is the wont of old cat thyroids, began overclocking a year or so ago and making her skinny and aggressive. In Lilly’s case, “aggressive” meant “stops hiding in the corner 23 hours a day and actually greets visitors,” so it’s been a positive development in many ways, but she still needs her medicine and I am diligent about calling upstairs when a REFRIGERATE IMMEDIATELY shipment appears on the porch.

This time, he said “She’s not due for another delivery of meds.” He peered more closely at the infinitesimal print on the mailing label. (Why? In God’s name, why? What is saved by printing addresses in lettering so small that a Lilliputian would squint?) “Legal Seafood?”

It was clearly addressed to him. Conundrum.

I don’t know if you remember the Ginsu knife craze but at different times I received three for opening bank accounts or buying a box of detergent or something and they still perform the office of package opening. Inside the box were two pillows of mostly vaporized dry ice, a nearly foot-square brick of styrofoam, and a printed sheet.

“It’s a gift from my mom,” he said, “and — what?”

It is not an exaggeration to say I felt my world collapsing around me. I am a vegetarian, for fuck’s sake. Except for a post-surgical period when I felt my tissues screaming for protein that I wasn’t distilling in adequate quantities from eggs and lentils, and consented to prawns, I don’t eat anything that ever had a face (even an approximate one like a crustacean), a central nervous system, or a mother. (I consider scallops kind of a grey area on the food chain, meat plants, sort of.) I can’t even stand to watch people eat animal crackers. I especially don’t eat something that is typically prepared by being boiled alive.

Ginsu knife in hand, horror collapsing my features, I stood there at the table while the Engineer contemplated the styrofoam block. Visions of buying an aquarium jostled in my head with a surreal image of walking a lobster on a leash and fluorescent harness. How would the cats feel about a little lobster buddy? What is proper enrichment for a lobster?

Tears standing in my eyes, I stared at the Engineer. He stared back. He cracked the styrofoam.

It was a package of crab cakes.

I sagged with relief. We took a closer look at the printed insert, which went on to detail proper storage and prep for all the company’s offerings, including filet mignon, which the last I looked was not seafood but maybe there is some sort of legend of Theseus and the Bull From The Sea thing going on (pace Mary Renault).

The Engineer is happy to be a veggie himself, but he does enjoy a bit of seafood and I am not one of those irritating vegetarians who harangues people. The crab cakes are in the freezer.

We still don’t know exactly why his mother sent him a half dozen crab cakes. News as I get it.

Graphic Upgrade

Apparently I have a secret Santa. Possibly someone is going to own up eventually but right now I got nothing.


Tomorrow will begin the fourth week I have been out at the main road with my signs. No one I know has joined me yet, or so far as I know tried it around their own ‘hood, but someone decided to do something. I stepped out into the battering heat a few hours ago, headed for the (not sufficiently) air conditioned gym, and this spiffy, professionally printed sign was leaning against the Rudbekia. The same motto is on one of my hand lettered signs, which gets a lot of honks from passing drivers (I’m running easily five to one in favor of this exercise in daily witnessing). It must have grabbed the imagination of someone who saw it. I’m guessing a client or friend. I try not to be obvious about going between my door and the pop stand.

The polish is a little jarring. I feel challenged to uphold the graphic standards.

Updates as I get them.

Cats With A Gambling Problem

We seem to have evolved beyond the era of the toy mouse in the water dish. A few nights ago there wasa noisy session of bat-bat-bat in the small hours, and in the morning a curious little keepsake of the Cute Engineer’s — a small metal cage meant to contain a pair of miniature dice, which look like real bone or ivory — was empty on the scatter rug. A little hunting on all fours yielded one of the dice, but the other was nowhere to be found. The topography of the upstairs made it unlikely that it went down the floor register (though admittedly, once upon a time, my late and ex doomed the last job he ever managed to get by adroitly dropping the key of the business down it). I figured sooner or later it would surface, or force me to do extreme dustmopping.

Today, on the stairs where Fergie prefers to dine, I found this.


Go figure. My cats can throw a boxcar accurately into a food bowl.

I’m amazed Mystery didn’t eat it.

Diva Gardener, Week Four (And Counting)

We are coming up on a month since I last spoke to David, my peculiar groundsman/gardener/handyman-wannabe. Appearing miffed that I actually hired licensed and insured professionals to rebuild my front porch (instead of engaging him for some unspecified stopgap upgrade involving tongue and groove — lots of  tongue and groove), he proposed to fix one of the many spots of deterioration on the back porch instead. Clearly offended that I came to my senses at the last minute and told him I wasn’t going to start on that porch because who knew where we would end up, he began to lecture me about his qualifications. Doubtless pissed that I then hung up on him after three attempts to convey to him that I urgently had to get off the phone and, like, put on clothes before a client arrived at the door, he has not made contact since.

The note I left him suggesting alternate work disappeared, but without a response. A couple times he has slunk onto the property — the space under my back porch has been, by agreement, his satellite office for years, sheltering a lawn mower, assorted stakes and cages for vegetable gardening, and, most recently and curiously, a slowly degrading Ikea cabinet door, hardware still attached, with which he was gonna do somethin for some lady. We are into about Month Five with the door under there so the lady must not be in a hurry.

A week ago I tidied out the jumble of empty flowerpots and bone meal bags, leaving a reasonably neat couple of stacks with the dilapidated door on top.

Earlier this week he slithered around the back — I spotted him out the window as I was finished with a client — and almost immediately re-emerged to jump into his wife’s car and depart. I checked under the porch as soon as I could. Perched on the cabinet door were two or three folded brown-paper leaf bags, the kind you leave at the curb and they recycle it bag and all, and on top of that was a doubled plastic carrier bag full of dirt.

I don’t know why he brought dirt over. I have a yard full.

I’m too fascinated by the evolving story to feel any need to force a resolution. At least until the lawn needs mowing, which might not be till April.

It will probably get weirder. News as it happens.

I Love You, She Said

I do a good bit of my shopping in an unlovely nearby strip-mall, the sort of place that was erected to wonderment and balloon releases before I was born: after several face-lifts and revisions of the parking pattern, it’s just a jigsaw of one-off restaurants, big box stores and mystifying holes in the wall.

There was shouting coming from under the canopy that shelters the entrance to the pet food store: a little ledge underneath offers a place to sit, and the woman was walking away from a man huddled there. As I cross the lot he hurled an empty soft-drink bottle that clattered along the sidewalk in her direction. She halted and turned half around.

“Stop that!”

“I know you’re mad at me,” he said. I didn’t want to make a point of looking straight at him; he was hunched, in the universal blue stuffed coat that seems to be the uniform of homeless men, and spoke in the mushmouthed, resentful bark I’ve heard from a dozen street corners.

“No, I have to get to work,” she said. Now I could see the not-found-in-nature pink of her polo shirt and hello-I’m-your-server trousers and grooming; she was about twenty, not pretty, not plain, just the girl who takes your order for a fajita and Pepsi. I couldn’t quite get his answer. “I’ll be around later,” she said and kept on walking away. It seemed to mollify him.

I thought that was the end of that, but then: “I love you,” she said; the way you’d say it on the phone to someone a thousand miles away, or about to step through the gate to board an airplane that would take them that far. He didn’t answer.

I went into the store to buy kibble. I still don’t know what that was about.

The human heart is a sad, dark place. Or so it seems to me sometimes.