My 60,000 Dollar Cat Scratch

By my estimation, Roscoe and I have invested some sixty Gs in his medical education, most of the time I don’t see the benefit to this expenditure. As a med student he works long hours at the hospital for no pay, brings in loads of debt and when he has practical exams, insists on testing the range of motion in my knees. Not terribly exciting.

Around the beginning of his second year of med school Roscoe developed his “Doctor Voice”. It’s a very confident but stern sounding voice. Entirely different from his husband voice which is the one that tells me I look pretty and asks whether it’s past my bedtime.

See if you didn’t know the two of us, that last sentence would sound like a come on “That’s what SHE said”. I badly misused that saying, teenage boys everywhere are hanging their heads in shame at me.

Roscoe sometimes attempts to use his doctor voice at home, generally when he wants to prove that he’s right about something. “Put that away!” I’ll yell when I hear those soft but reassuring tones.

So a month or so ago I was running my first road race in three years, my first ten kilometer race in goodness knows how long. The event was in Toronto, so Roscoe and I were staying overnight at my parent’s house rather than driving the two plus hours from our home to the start.

Everything was going smoothly. Well for me at least. Some kids grew up with mothers who cut the crusts off their sandwiches, moms who dropped them off at university and then returned many, many times for visits, mums who really cared about important things like jewelry, and whether your purse matched your shoes.

My mother is a sports mom. She leaves crusts on sandwiches, she visited me once at university after dropping me off and I’ve frequently left the house wearing both stripes and floral print at the same time.

However come race day, get out of her way, she’s a tiger mom, up at five am with coffee and strategies for how to cut your time. She stashes extra safety pins for your bib in her coat and has water and chocolate milk sitting in the car to rehydrate. You’ll recognize her at the finish line because she’ll be the one jumping so high that she might as well be attached to a pogo stick.

So despite the fact that I didn’t train, had no idea where the race was, and had not packed the appropriate gear, I wasn’t terribly worried about the ten kilometer race I had to run the next day.

That was until I was mauled by a Bear.

I have a theory that my parent's cat is related to the Terminator, or some other alien robot being. It would explain her eyes when photographed.

I have a theory that my parent’s cat is related to the Terminator, or some other alien robot being. It would explain her eyes when photographed.

Bear is the newest addition to my parent’s house. She is the only cat they’ve ever had who has not lived with me. The cats that I grew up with understood that I moved like a Sherman tank, crushing everything in my path. They stayed out of my way, and I lived up to my end of the bargain by not being too upset when they loved my mother more than me.

Bear has never lived with me. Bear also moves like a Sherman tank. One with claws.

Which is how the night before my race I got these.

My photoshop instructions to Candy- "Make my foot look more like Charlize Theron's." Candy's reply "I don't know what to do with these instructions?"

My photoshop instructions to Candy- “Make my foot look more like Charlize Theron’s.” Candy’s reply “I don’t know what to do with this request?”


Essentially Bear and I played a very dangerous, painful and ultimately bloody, game of chicken.

Bear was racing up the stairs, across the landing and heading for my bedroom at top speed. Watching her shoot straight at me like some sort of ginger cheetah, I stood my ground. And Bear also stood her ground. Until at the last second we both moved the same direction. Which caused Bear to run half into the door frame, as she attempted to stop herself with her claws on my foot. I felt pain, heard a loud thud and watched a starry eyed Bear wobbly make her way under my bed.

“Bear!” I cried, “Bear! Come here, I’m sorry.” I pleaded bending down to lift up the bed skirt, the extent of my wounds disguised by my body’s beautiful shock reflex. Still woozy but expecting me to somehow cause her to run into more door frames Bear darted past me. And that’s when I looked down and realized blood was pooling on my foot.

Roscoe took one look at it and thought “Infection and cat scratch fever”. Immediately he put his doctor voice into action. Overwhelmed by my feelings of guilt and the blood about to stain my parent’s beige carpet, I blindly followed my husband into the kitchen. There he cleaned the lacerations and then set about neatly taping a napkin to my foot. Power gels are on my mother’s grocery list, not gauze. The gory blood now covered up and the new carpet no longer in danger I returned to my senses. “That doesn’t look dramatic enough! You need to wrap it!”

Roscoe stopped ripping the masking tape into neat sections and instead began haphazardly wrapping my foot with tape. “There” he said “happy now?”

“No, take a photo of it.”

The Great Unwashed way to dress a wound. Note how it makes use of none of Roscoe's doctor abilities.

The Great Unwashed way to dress a wound. Note how it makes use of none of Roscoe’s doctor abilities. My first opportunity to use Roscoe’s expensive degree and I didn’t take it.

For the record I ran a fifty-four minute ten km, for my American readers out there I ran a fifty four minute six mile race. Pretty good considering the perfectly straight blood stains I found in my sock afterwards.

I Really Need A New Hobby Aside From Cleaning Dead Animals On A Saturday Night

So I spent all of last Saturday night washing my childhood pet. This doesn’t sound like a lot of work but the pet in question was a cat who never really caught onto the whole “I am a cat and therefore have amazing balance skills and clean myself regularly” concept. In fact this cat was known for the number of things it could fall off of. Its lack of hygiene was never really a problem until my parent’s elderly cat died and Splat was left to fend for and clean himself.

Splat, judging by the unhappy look on his face, he fell off of something just before this photo was taken and is annoyed that there may be photographic evidence.

Splat, judging by the unhappy look on his face, he fell off of something just before this photo was taken and is annoyed that there may be photographic evidence.**

On top of having a fairly significant problem with dandruff Splat* also had a habit of finding giant dirt piles and rolling in them. He would then rub himself against the person nearest to him, effectively creating a cat-dirt version of a brass rubbing. You know where you lay paper against something really old and then take a metallic crayon to it? The result was like that only with more feline dander and small beetles. It was quite possibly the grossest thing next to discovering cat barf in your shoes after you’ve put them on. Eventually my parents were so disgusted with the state of Splat’s fur that they shipped him off to the groomers. To my knowledge Splat is the only cat to have ever endured a professional cleaning.

Anyway so last Saturday night I shampooed, then rinsed Splat’s coat, then shampooed again because of all the dander and grease.  It took a while; Splat was quite resistant to both the water and the soap. Of course he was also rather dirty.

The sense of exhaustion when I opened my eyes on Sunday morning was overwhelming but my first thought was “Well at least the cat is clean.” But that’s when I realized that the cat I had spent all night lathering, rinsing and repeating had been dead for a year. And I was annoyed. Not only because I was so tired from washing a dead cat all night but I didn’t even get to enjoy the fruits of my labour. Cursing both my poor sleep and my subconscious, who was responsible for the weird dream, I got up.

Fast forward a couple of hours, I’ve completed an exhausting ten km race in fifty minutes and am now sitting in my aunt’s kitchen at a family get together. If pressed I would say that hands down bathing the dead cat was more tiring than the race.

My Dad is standing at the counter loading up on potato salad. From across the room I loudly say “Dad, you didn’t notice all the work I did last night.”

Fair on the Yare - in the Stocks - geograph.or...

This girl neglected to say thank you for her delicious lunch of a ham sandwich with the crusts cut off.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Dad stops mid scoop, having lived in a house full of three women for twenty some odd years he knows that forgetting to notice and thank someone for housework is right up there with high treason. Very slowly he turns to face me, fully expecting to be chastised for not appreciating the clean kitchen/ laundry/ basement, in front of our whole family to boot.

“I was up all night cleaning our dead cat. I shampooed his coat.”

My Dad started to laugh and went back to scooping salad onto his plate. I know one thing’s for sure, that is the last time I stay up all night shampooing beloved, deceased pets. Neither of my parents bothered to thank me for my efforts.

*Names have not been changed because the late cat in question always liked my mother better than me to begin with.

** Special thanks to my Dad who looked through all our family photos to find one of Splat and then sent it to me, on very short notice, because that’s who I am.

Travesty Tuesdays- Crazy Feline Felonies


Dear Readers,

The next three posts will be about cats. Please note this is not a blog about cats, mostly because I don’t have any. It would violate the agreement that we have with our landlord, where we commit highway robbery each time we pay rent and they ask us not to have pets.

This group of three West Indian manatees (Tric...

Endangered species or slowest assassins of the sea? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also cats are not my favourite animal. If pressed I would say my favourite animal is the manatee. But that’s only if I’m not in the water with manatees. If I was I’d be shouting “Why in goodness name do you want to know my favourite animal? Can’t you see these manatees are going to kill me by swimming over me and not realizing I’m trapped underneath them?” It’s one of my greatest nightmares- death by an inert group of manatees.

That being said, for someone who is not an avid lover of cats I’ve spent approximately eighty percent of my life living with them and ten percent of my life cleaning their litter boxes. The disproportionate amount of litter box cleaning that I’ve done may explain my lack of unabashed love for the creatures.

My sister and mom on the other hand spend their life amassing cats and loving cats. They also enjoy taking photos of them and looking at photos of cats. It is my understanding that this is standard for all cat lovers.

Without further adieu, my most recent communication to my dear sister.



I thought I should contact you first before the organization does.

Your Crazy Cat Lady membership is being revoked. I wrote a post about our recently deceased cat. Needing a photo to go along with the post I turned to your Facebook page. Not only did I fail to find a photo of said cat, but my search failed to turn up any cat pictures at all on your Facebook profile.

As you are supposedly “the cat lover” in the family I found this oddly suspicious. Further inquiry turned up a photo of a daschund that was once tagged “Diana’s best friend”. More searching turned up a comment you made of “OMG cutest thing alive” in response to a photo of a Golden Doodle puppy.

By this point I was quite alarmed and questioning who my sister really was, it was in that state that I telephoned the Crazy Cat Ladies organization.

They’ll be by at some point this week to confiscate both your cat tree and your floppy crocheted hat.

I think it goes without saying that you’re not to buy cat nip or any other feline related paraphernalia for a year.

Much love, I’m sorry I had to turn you in.

The Great Unwashed

Writer’s Block

So I went to my normal spot in the library, third floor tables, under the sky light, right in between the homeless man who talks to himself and the homeless man whose odor speaks for him.

But no magic happened. I walked home, on my normal route by the river, under the trees. I still didn’t feel better so I did what every author who has writer’s block does on occasion, I rolled around on the floor clutching my netbook to my chest crying “Oprah will never love meeeeeeeee!”

And then I covered my face in make up because my face can look good, even if my words can’t. But I still didn’t feel better.

So I put on all the pieces of clothing that make me happy; my giant Kermit the Frog stocking socks, my skirt which looks like someone took multiple swipes at it with pink, purple and black paint, my navy blue t shirt with the desert on it which is actually hand painted. Then I topped the whole bizarre overly made up, yet clashing look off with my circus coat. I added a bright blue scarf with a crazy print for good measure.

Then I walked down our street looking like a cross between a carnival and a cartoon. The frat boys ignored me. The metallers next door turned their pierced heads and looked the other way. Even the druggies sitting out on their porch, who normally give a whistle when I pass, paid me no mind.

The wind had gone out of my sails. Not even the colourful racket the circus coat was making against the green grass could cheer me up. So I asked Roscoe to take a photo of me. This is what my writer’s angst looks like.

Not pictured- the face of marital angst. Roscoe- "I don't mind when you dress up like a colour blind clown but I don't want to be seen with you much less take photos of it." I wish Candy* had been here, she would have suggested I put on my big floppy hat to feel a little better and to add to the photo.

Not pictured- the face of marital angst. Roscoe- “I don’t mind when you dress up like a colour blind clown but I don’t want to be seen with you, much less take photos of it.” I wish Candy* had been here, she would have suggested I put on my big floppy hat to feel a little better and to add to the photo.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those who don’t mind when I dress like a three year old who has been allowed to pick out their own clothes to cheer myself up.

The Makings Of A Fan

Michael Card

 Pure white snow reflects 90% of sunlight. Bald white heads reflect 97% of arena light. (Michael Card Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I attended my second Leaf’s game in Toronto last month. I can’t really tell you much about the first Leaf’s game I attended, I spent the evening sitting on the floor of our cushy box playing Mancala with my sister. Eleven and nine respectively we peaked our heads up only once to observe the arena below us. Our contribution to the hockey discussion? “Wow, look at all the bald guys.”

My father was not impressed, it was the first and last hockey game we were taken to. Fast forward seventeen years, I’m sitting next to my husband, way up in the nosebleeds of the Air Canada Centre. I’ve now lost count of the number of hockey games I’ve attended. NHL, OHL, AHL, I’ve been to them all. Upper row, balconies, boxes, I’ve sat everywhere. The last hockey game I saw before the Leafs was an OHL game. Roscoe my husband had bought us seats right next to the boards. I jumped in terror every time the players slammed into the seemingly insubstantial pieces of wood and metal in front of us, certain that I was about to have a brawling six foot two athlete in my lap the next moment.

Having been afflicted with both ants in the pants and itchy feet for most of my life, my husband and I have an agreement at sporting events; I need to sit for the first half and then I may wander away to explore the arena and return in time for the last five minutes of play.

My primary attraction and love of attending sporting events stems from one thing: peanuts. Where else in the world can you shell then consume an entire bag of peanuts without looking like a glutton or a really poor houseguest? Outside of sleazy bars I mean, but seeing as I am married and fall asleep no later than 8:30 PM most nights, those aren’t places that I frequent.

Before every game Roscoe buys me a bag of peanuts, we find our seats and then I sit happily shelling my snack for a good forty minutes. Longer in the states, I swear their bags are larger. In return I am supposed to stay in my seat for the first half of the game, cheer when I am supposed to cheer meaning when other people around us are, pretend that I know or at the very least recognize the Hockey Night In Canada song rather than asking “What is everyone singing?” and finally not get upset and feel badly for the other team when they’re losing and then cheer for them. Up until last weekend this was what I thought of and looked forward to every time Roscoe gleefully announced that we had tickets: peanuts.

However this night was different, although I still loved eating the peanuts I didn’t get up out of my seat at intermission, I actually sat and tried to understand the game. After three years of marriage, and thus sitting through countless games I’ve picked up on a number of vital rules in hockey.

  1. There are five players on the ice per team at any time, plus a goalie.
  2. People get very excited when there is a fight, it is important that your team gets the most punches in.
  3. The buzzer only sounds when the home team scores a goal.

Please note that last rule is SUPER confusing for someone who had no idea where the puck was and now can’t figure out why the crowd is upset.


Last month I discovered that if I focused, I was able to follow the puck. I still might lose it occasionally but I was no longer scanning the entire rink trying to figure out what was going on or what I had missed.

English: View from the back row (standing room...

Our fabulous view from the nosebleeds. We paid a couple hundred dollars  and signed in blood that we would hand over our first born child for these seats. This sounds unreasonable but the people two rows below us promised two decades of indentured servitude for their seats. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Leaf’s scored three goals that night, and I saw every single one of them. Not only that but I saw the numerous close saves Reimer made. For those of you who are new to hockey Reimer is the Leaf’s goalie. Also, in sports players are referred to by their last names. Suddenly I was no longer relying on the loud guy in our section to know when to take a sharp intake of breath (Will they score?)  or a small cheer (Great save!) or a really loud cheer (Goal!). I actually understood the whole thing.

Roscoe of course was mystified, all he saw was his normally full of beans wife suddenly sitting stock still next to him. “Are you ok?” he poked me in the shoulder. “Yes” I replied curtly, his question made me completely lose track of the puck. Then later on a nervously posed “Are you getting tired?”  “No, I’m fine.” Once again I was equally curt, but only because I’d just realized that players pass the puck to one another. Before that night the movement of the puck had seemed completely random to me, just a small black dot traveling in a series of bizarre zig zags across an expanse of white.

All at once when Roscoe made an annoyed comment of “The Leaf’s are playing poorly.” I could understand why. The Leafs are a team, teams have to work together in order to accomplish things, when the Leafs play well, they pass the puck to one another and don’t give it up to the opposing team.

Now to a seasoned hockey fan all of this sounds very basic, but to a person who has never once played a team sport with any sort of regularity and skill it was a breakthrough. I found myself enjoying being in the seats and not just because the nine year old in front of us wearing a Bruins hat decided to yell “Leafs suck!” in response to the chorus of “Bruins suck” and was promptly flicked in the ear by her Dad. My enjoyment was from realizing that I could actually see who the Bruins could pass to and when there was an opportunity to shoot on the net.

As the third period drew to a close and the Leafs lost their two point lead, I was absorbed by the excitement and tension in the crowd. When the Bruins scored their second point although I didn’t boo because in my mind that is always rude and the least Canadian and sportsman like thing to do, I did feel a drop in my stomach from disappointment. The whole arena was awash in blue and white. In my own blue “Gilmour” jersey, I became one of them.

Pulling on jerseys had almost been an afterthought as we left the house that day. Roscoe was wearing his white jersey signed by Eric Lindross. He had held up another white jersey to match his but the men’s size medium had swamped my tiny frame. Sitting at the bottom of the drawer was a blue child’s jersey Roscoe had received for his eighth birthday. This of course fit almost perfectly when I wore it over a sweater and another shirt. Now standing in the sea of blue and white jerseys which I was a part of, I suddenly wanted desperately for this group of fans to experience the elation of a win. Silently I willed Reimer to be vigilant, for the defense to pass pucks away from the net. As the clock buzzed signaling the end of the game, cheering and shouts of joy swept across the Air Canada Centre. My husband stood next to me “Yes! Yes!” He pumped his fists into the air. Dejected Bruins fans filed out as Leaf’s fans high fived one another, reliving the last minute saves of the game. Although I couldn’t actually comment on the number of bald men in attendance, I enjoyed this Leaf’s game possibly even more than my first.

Taking Awkward Photos in Public Places

So supposedly this Sunday I’m attending Candy Hooling’s* eighteenth birthday party, which means that my cousin with the stripper nom de plume will be the age of majority. Well not really, but here in Canada we let you gamble with both your money and your life at eighteen. She’ll be able to buy lottery tickets and enroll in the military without her parents’ permission. Sweet deal huh?

Anyway to mark this blessed event, I decided to put up a selection of the photos that Candy took and then altered of me when she visited during her March Break.

Please note these photos are not the only ones that Candy has worked on for The Great Unwashed, she also photoshopped the photos for Noctural Apparitions. However I’m not putting those pictures up because frankly she didn’t do a very good job. Not only did Candy fail to make me look thinner, I also bear no resemblance to Charlize Theron in the doctored photos. These were my requests when I sent them to her. She made some very poor excuse about Photoshop being designed to alter the light not your facial structure.

Anyway, without further ado, the photos Candy took as well as the stories that go along with them.



This is a photo of me looking pensive. Candy must have photoshopped the light in this picture a lot because I never appear reflective. For the record I’m staring out into a flooded park. This is where I take my guests, to areas where hip waders are both a fashion statement and a necessity. Little wonder that Roscoe and I have so few visitors.



So Candy and I were walking along when she pointed to the bench in the photo above and said “What can you do with that bench?”

Well as you can see I can pretend to dive into it. But one can only go head first into park benches for so long. Copy of DSC00871

This is how short people use benches, hence why one rarely sees a small person sitting down. Furniture is not designed for people of our stature so we’re forced to find repose in unconventional poses.

This was a particularly hard shot to get, mostly due to the fact that my core strength is what is holding me up. This wouldn’t have been a problem if Candy and I weren’t laughing so hard at my silliness.

After taking this shot Candy insisted that I take a “real” author photo and framed this lovely scene below.



She tried to make me look both serious and gorgeous. I think that’s about as serious and gorgeous as I’m going to get. Especially when you take into consideration that I had gone bumbogganing not ten minutes earlier to get the next photo.

Please note bumbogganing is similar to tobogganing except when bumbogganing you slide on your bum, and in my case directly into an icy river. It’s the stuff that good ol’fashioned fun and hypothermia is made of.



Not pictured- the moment when I let out an “EEEEEE” and slid down the log I was climbing on into the river. According to Candy it was entertaining to watch. Note I am wearing Candy’s gloves because at eighteen she has far more sense in her young head then I ever will in mine.

Copy of DSC00881


Whereas this photo merely looks like I’m leaping into the river. Although I am in the habit of hurling myself into disgusting, murky, silt-filled rivers when I feel the world is far too hygienic and sanitized, only to emerge a little downstream freshly filthy and ready to take on both Lysol and Lever 2000, as it was I had a youngster with me that day so high speed mud baths were not on the itinerary.

If I recall correctly Candy had to actually lie down in the snow to get this shot. Needless to say my commitment to dirt and a general lack of cleanliness inspires an intense devotion in youths.DSC00889


This photo is funny on a number of levels. Not only am I small and incapable of pushing anything larger than a two year old over. But my arms also resemble pipecleaners, in both their ability to lift things without bending and in their thickness.



Candy is an aspiring artist, she wishes to work in television and radio. DSC00928


This is one of my city’s many historic homes. Candy and I decided that this should be the new way for tourists to pose in front of the house. For some reason my city’s tourism board turned this idea down when I sent this suggestion along with the photo to them.

*Names have been changed to protect those who although are very grown up, cannot yet drink in this country. If you think you’ve got it rough here kiddo, try the States, you’d have to wait three years.

Happy Birthday and much love,

The Great Unwashed

STOP! You’ll Kill Yourself!

You know all those studies that say married people live longer because you have someone to tell you to go to the doctor, eat nutritious food and just plain care about you? They’re all right, but I feel like they forgot an important element of marriage. Occasionally a person needs someone to tell them “Stop! What you’re doing is idiotic!” Whether it’s your husband about to snorkel with great white sharks or your wife taking the contents of the tool box to her feet.

Today I got to be the stupid one. As a result of running and wearing too many impractical shoes, I’ve developed massive corns on the sides of my pinky toes. If this is too much information for some of my readers, just be grateful that you aren’t married to a doctor- Roscoe recites the intimate details of gunshot wounds over soup.

The corns got so large last week that I decided to get some of those Doctor Scholl’s corn removers. Only I didn’t buy the Doctor Scholl’s kind. Roscoe is almost a doctor, which means we are still paying massive tuition fees every twelve months, so we eschew name brands in the name of not drowning in a tidal wave of red numbers.

I digress, the corn removers shrunk my pinky toes so they could fit into my shoes again (Hurray!) but they also left giant, unsightly calluses. I’m many things; a weirdo, a hippie, a tiny, spastic dancer but I am not a woman who takes good care of her nails. As a result we do not have a nail file in our house. Mostly because when my nails grow long enough to be cut or filed I bite them. However these gigantic calluses were bothering me, so while Roscoe was searching for a cord to hook up my little netbook to the television, I decided to problem solve. Heading to the front hall closet, I pulled out Roscoe’s toolbox, reached in, tore a small square off a large sheet of sandpaper, then put the box and the remaining sandpaper back.

Now I knew this wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had, however my husband is becoming a doctor, so I figured that if using sand paper on my feet was really bad, he’d stop me.

Juggling Fire

Clearly the best idea ever. A married man would never be allowed to do this.(Photo credit: dpup)

When a man makes the decision to juggle fire, somewhere after the first request “Honey? Do you know where I put my devil sticks?” but before heading out to the backyard with the blow torch, “We keep the lighter fluid in the garage right?” an alarm bell will go off in his wife’s head. A nosy “What are you up to?” from a concerned female will kibosh the whole idea pretty quick.

However Roscoe was on a hunt, so I had been sanding away at my feet for a good ten minutes before the “What the hell are you doing?” came. And then of course the sequitur “STOP that!”

So thanks to my marriage, I’m happy to announce my pinky toes are still intact. Roscoe is currently out purchasing a nail file.