September 13, 2005

tarts & tricks

It was Christmas in September and we were making tarts.

I dont have a kitchen counter to speak of, or a table to eat on, so when we have big cooking projects, we make do. Pecans were crushed in a plastic bag with a rolling pin by a cross-legged Biscuit on my living room floor. Bowls of melted caramel, chocolate cream and sundry ingredients dotted every available surface. And extra ingredients eventually found a home on one corner of my living room desk.

When I left for work Monday morning, everything was still there. A nearly-full bag of caramel cubes hastily twisted shut and sat on its top end was among the items neatly waiting a home in the cupboard. But when I came home in the evening, that was no longer the case.

It happened once with mini marshmallows.

I came home one night last winter to fluffy white wonderland and my lunatic kitten racing around the apartment, batting wildly at what had been almost an entire bag of tiny, hot chocolate sized marshmallows. I found marshmallows in my bed, in my shoes, under the couch and in the bathtub.

Same sort of situation with the caramel cubes. In Sir Hals food dish, behind the commode, and just now, a very Princess and the Pea moment when I settled in with my laptop and whats this behind my pillow? Oh yes. Caramel.

I swear, His Excellency must get on the internet while Im at work and Google ways to wreak havoc in small spaces. Hes just so damn good at it. And so good at waiting until Im nowhere near him with the squirt bottle to implement his evil plots.

I gotta say, I think I prefer the caramels. Much easier to clean up.

Posted by This Fish at September 13, 2005 11:59 PM

long-time lurker...saw no one had commented and just had to :)

my kitty is the same way...anything left lying around the house is torn up and little pieces of chips/cheese/whatever is everywhere.

but shes just so damn cute...!

Posted by: kat at September 14, 2005 04:27 AM

Yes, my two dozen roses just multiplied into about a thousand rose-bits overnight last night. I try my hardest to be endeared, but the plate-hockey that took place on my kitchen counter last week (there were two plate casualties) was too much...

Posted by: Alison at September 14, 2005 07:13 AM

This is why I love cats. No, wait. This is why I hate cats. I love cats for other reasons.

Hello, Fish.

Posted by: scott at September 14, 2005 09:31 AM

mmmmmm. tarts. be thankful sr. hal didn't get into the raspberries.

Posted by: StephanieKlein at September 14, 2005 09:43 AM

Seriously. It would have been like a pre-school fingerpainting disaster in my apartment.

Posted by: Fish at September 14, 2005 09:44 AM

Very Cute!

Isn't that the reason why we have pets. Not just the companionship factor, but also the things that they do that make our lifes just a little bit harder, yet are infinately more colorful. I mean, what are you going to do punish the guy?

I have four, between me and my boyfriend. So far my favorite incident was a morning last week when I woke up and discovered one of them wearing my dirty t-shirt. Unfortunatley I was too out of it to get a picture.

Posted by: Smilin.N.ny at September 14, 2005 10:26 AM

When I was in high school, my best friend came over on Valentine's Day with a present from her mom: two huge chocolate chip heart-shaped cookies. We polished off one in record time, and went upstairs to get something before finishing the second.

Two minutes later we came down the stairs and saw my golden retriever pretending to be fast asleep before the fireplace, but I saw the tell-tale swipes of his tongue across his snout. There was a trail of cookie crumbs from the coffee table leading right to his big fat paws. He was a chocolate fiend and ALWAYS managed to find the good chocolate my mom hid for our Easter Baskets. But like others have said, their just too darn cute to get angry with :)

Posted by: jillian at September 14, 2005 10:50 AM

I have this image in my head of tiny marshmallow snow all over the place. makes me smile!

Posted by: rg at September 14, 2005 11:22 AM

I think I would have stuck a carmel in Sir Hals mouth - just to see the entertainment you missed while you were out. Then out of pity game him a cap full of beer to wash it down. What? My old cats use to drink it! Wait Wait - no, no they died of old age - not liver damage.

Posted by: Robert Lennie at September 14, 2005 11:24 AM

My kitten used to LOVE running at top speed through my vertical 3 AM.

Posted by: WindyLou at September 14, 2005 11:26 AM

Hiya Fish, long time reader here.
I know this is an "advice free" zone here and all, and I totally understand if you take this comment down but....

What happened to the fun, breezy, conversational style you used to have in your writing? More and more these days (probably dating back to the aftermath of the NY Times article) your posts sound like SK-- which in my book isn't the best thing in the world. No offense to her, but I always found your site refreshing for its real and honest voice, and for not being all, "Look At My Dramatic Prose! Don't I Deserve a Book Deal?," like so many other blogs out there.

I know that the loss of anonymity can change things, but Fish...

You don't need to try and impress anyone. You're impressive enough just as you are. None of this is meant in a harsh or critical way, as I said, I'm a long time reader and admirer of your site. I just read your post these days and... well... wish for Fish to be Fish.

All the Best,

Posted by: M at September 14, 2005 12:33 PM

post from italy: It's been ages I was asking myself, since I was reading Peanuts comics as a child... WHAT THE HELL IS A MARSHMALLOWS? what does it taste like?????????? can anyone send a proof ;-)?

Posted by: mariel at September 14, 2005 12:40 PM

clearly sir hal is upset that wes got to eat the last tart and did not share it with me.

or, he's looking for more inventive ways to clog the tub. smart kitty!

Posted by: rach at September 14, 2005 12:57 PM

My cat likes anything wraped in plastic.

His favorite toy is cough drops.

Posted by: Torrie at September 14, 2005 12:58 PM

that is hilarious...though messy. thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: ms. sizzle at September 14, 2005 01:22 PM

what is SK? or who is SK?

Posted by: z. at September 14, 2005 01:29 PM

My kitty does the same thing with grape stems, pens, bloody tampons from the bathroom trash - you name it. It's darling, except for the last one.

Posted by: Claire at September 14, 2005 01:35 PM

Try having a 100 pound dog that does this same thing... it's cute when you come home to empty candy wrappers, less cute when you find where he puked up the candy...

Posted by: matt at September 14, 2005 02:07 PM

I agree with the above comment. My old roommates cat made a habit of vomitting all over my things when I was moving. Not cute!

Posted by: Smilin.N.ny at September 14, 2005 02:15 PM

Who is SK? I still like your writing style...if I didn't I wouldn't be here.

Posted by: networkchic at September 14, 2005 02:22 PM

The... helpful commenter meant Stephanie Klein.

And really, I have no comment except, things change. And things here changed a long, long time ago. If posts about my kitten are too...dramatic and prose-y... well, I don't know how to please you.

Posted by: Fish at September 14, 2005 02:24 PM

The idea of the flurry of marshmallows is wonderful. I think that would be much less worrisome than caramels, which I think of as stickier and harder to clean up. Maybe you should give Sir Hal a cup full of styrofoam peanuts for his birthday. It would be like a party for him!

Posted by: Michael at September 14, 2005 03:01 PM

I also have to say I am intrigued by the commenter wondering what marshmallows are and what they are like...I remember being in Spain and wondering if they could truly know what our chocolate chip cookies tasted like - homemade ones - because of differences of measurement, of treatment of milk, or ingredients - whatever. What kinds of treats have you had overseas that you could never explain to someone who hadn't been there and had one? What do you think would be impossible to explain to a foreigner who had never been to the US?

Posted by: Michael at September 14, 2005 03:03 PM

Funny... wanting Fish to be Fish... What you read is what you get I guess, and I don't know that she's trying to impress anyone, but she at least impresses me... for what it's worth, which with a couple of bucks gets you a mocha latte.

Posted by: matt at September 14, 2005 03:07 PM

I also prefer caramel. Much more tasty!

Posted by: Heather Anne at September 14, 2005 03:08 PM

So, do you say car-a-mel, or carmel? I grew up in Montana, so I say carmel. But being a transplant, have you picked up the -a- in your carmel? Just wondering...

Posted by: MKB at September 14, 2005 03:13 PM


Right? That's the part I don't get. Wanting Fish to be Fish... except, if Fish is different from how Fish was a year ago. Then Fish should be OLD Fish and never change.

Whatevs. It's a blog. I'm not to worried about it. But thanks, Matt. :) Except for dog puke stories. Less thanks for those.

I have adopted the 'a.' Except when it precedes words like, popcorn or apple. Just WAY too many syllables at work there.

Posted by: Fish at September 14, 2005 03:14 PM

this hurts it's so funny. like when my dog got into a container of teriyaki sauce and rolled in it on his dog bed and our couch. paw prints everywhere.

Posted by: court at September 14, 2005 03:45 PM

Oh yay, it's not just me who alternates between caramel/carmel depending on what words I'm using with it!

My favorite kitty stunt was when I had come home one early evening, where it was too dark to be bright, but not dark enough to turn the lights on yet. As my eyes adjusted to the light I became aware of a very fine intricate pattern that seemed to be etched on my floor. I finally had to touch it to see what it was - and discovered that apparently she had managed to open my sewing box, and there was now a house-wide criss-crossing abstract design involving an entire fresh spool of black thread wound around every possible object she could find.

Posted by: Tinkster at September 14, 2005 03:52 PM

why do we love our cats when they drive us so insane? mine like to wake me up around 5 AM and run around the tiny apartment, jumping on and off everything in sight.

my baby loves tissue paper, knocking his food out of his dish to chase it around the kitchen before he eats it, and jumping up on the bathroom counter so i'll turn the faucet on and let him drink the running water. and, jumping full-force on my boobs while im sleeping. so cute. or something.

Posted by: victoria at September 14, 2005 04:41 PM

I'll have to remember that... noting that Fish is Fish no matter how or what she writes about is good. Stories of dog puke... bad, very bad...

I've committed this to memory.

Posted by: matt at September 14, 2005 05:31 PM

I came to comment on the kittens and caramel and chaos and now am more caught up in the comments. (At least it fits with the hard "c" theme.)

I have seen these sorts of comments on other long-standing blogs before. I find it interesting that some readers would expect an author's writing not to evolve or to change. Are these folks the same people they were in kindergarten? I'm betting their writing has improved.

Just another reader's take on it.

Posted by: kris at September 14, 2005 08:13 PM

My Tangerine is just as wiley....though too dang endearing to scold.

Posted by: kassig at September 14, 2005 09:24 PM

You can't win, can you Heather?

Posted by: Torrie at September 14, 2005 09:39 PM

I was reading Stephanie Klein's blog just now. you both have the same "Christmas in September" in your latest posts. Were you baking for the same show?

Just curious.

Posted by: Nic at September 14, 2005 10:28 PM

Yes, we were.

Posted by: Fish at September 14, 2005 11:37 PM

Oh people, settle down. Believe me, in past instances I've been one of the first to rush to Heather's defense when some idiot comes around trying to start something. Relax, I'm not one of those idiots. I was merely commenting, as a long time reader and supporter (and of this site on something I've noticed.

And no, I don't want this blog to stay exactly the same forever and ever, and no I don't agree that I'm merely oblivious to a writer's style evolving or improving-- to address previous comments.

This post, in particular, struck me because I can imagine the same story being told in... the old Fish way-- where I feel more like I'm hearing a friend tell me a story over cocktails, a friend who's funny and smart and a really great story teller to boot. Nowadays things over here at This Fish end up sounding a little.... disembodied? Self concious?

If I wanted to read Greek Tragedy, I would. But I don't, because quite frankly I can't stand SK's writing, site, etc etc. (I find myself having more of a chuckle over Two Sisters, personally).

Look, maybe Fish doesn't care what lil old singular reader here thinks about the changes around here. Or maybe, like any writer worth her salt, she's open to constructive criticism, whether she agrees with it or not. What a writer doesn't need, however, is to be surrounded only by voices of glowing praise and choruses of "You go girl!" (figuratively speaking, fellow commenters). I'm just chiming in because I have loved this site and this writer for quite some time and the change saddens me.

But ultimately This Fish is what it is. And if I don't like what it's become and the change is intended to be permenant, then I simply don't have to read it. Just an admirer throwing their two cents in and (possibly) calling it a day.

Best Wishes, Fish.

Posted by: M at September 15, 2005 10:09 AM

well, on a completely different note...

fish, i love how you call sir hal your "kitten," and i love it more than it's presumably the same reason that i also do the exact thing when discussing my own pet. :)

Posted by: RazDreams at September 15, 2005 10:53 AM

Yeah, I don't care if he's almost all grown up. He's still a kitten to me :)

Posted by: Fish at September 15, 2005 10:55 AM

I think M does have a point here in that this blog does remind me (stylistically) of Stephanie Klein's Greek Tragedy. I can't explain it but it does have a somewhat disembodied quality. And I can't compare it to the Old Fish as I am a new reader. But I still enjoy it and read it nonetheless. And I do agree that as all writers know, you can't please everyone. Not everyone can be a fan. It is just the way it is so a few negative comments are healthy and should be expected.

Posted by: anonymous at September 15, 2005 05:40 PM