Monday, March 9, 2009

Lemon Tree Very Smelly

Sorry about the silence. But preparing to get your leg cut off at the knee turns out to be time consuming. (Don't worry...they'll reattach it. With a sparkly new titanium knee. Ooooo....shiny.) The big day is March 23. The surgery is at 7:30 in Bangor, and I'll have to get up at 3 to do all the stuff they want you to do beforehand and then drive for an hour. Yish.

My doctor says the two weeks after surgery will be "uncomfortable" -- that's doctorspeak for painful and depressing. Ooooo...damn well better be shiny.

Plus, I've come up against a major logical inconsistency in The Filioli (thanks to my friend Shelly) and a matching one in the sequel, which for the moment is called The Gloucester Ghost. Solutions have come to me in the middle of the night (duly written down and, miraculously, understandable the next day), but not enough of them.

For example, there's a character in GG who has drunk an elixir that enables her to see through enchantments. So there she sits, right next to an enchantment, and does she see through it? No indeed, so far she does not. Why is that? You tell me. Someone tell me. Please?

And then there was the Brooklin Cat Pee Disaster of 2009. Not quite as monumental as the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919.

We have a potted lemon tree in the front hall, sometimes lovely, sometimes sad, depending on how many caterpillars landed on it when it spent the summer outside under the maple. This year it's marginal. Anyway, I'd been noticing dirt sprayed on the floor and, like an idiot, thought nothing of it. "Oh, how cute, the cat's been playing in the plant," I thought.

I've had cats all my life. But denial dies hard.

Ignorance reigned until I watered the tree. Lots of water, which spilled out into the saucer under the pot. And within minutes the entire front hall smelled like an untended litter box.

"How could you do this?" I asked the cat, who was contentedly tormenting the dog with the "is this a paw or a claw?" game, which ends only when the dog, shaken, cedes her spot in front of the woodstove.

"Do what?" the cat asked.

"You don't smell it?"

"I don't smell. I create." (I don't think that's true but that's what she said.)

I solved most of the problem by hauling the saucer under the pot outside and dumping it out. Rob suggests that I don't water the tree again until summer, when we can put it outside and flush it out. At which point it will, conveniently, be dead. Since Rob hates the tree even when it doesn't stink, I'm beginning to wonder exactly who peed in it.

If it was the cat, I've foiled her for the moment by sticking a miniature stonehenge of chopsticks into the soil around the tree. If it's Rob, I hope it gets on his shoes.

The latest news: The Unnameables was a runner-up for the Maine Literary Award for kidlit. The winner was Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress by Maria Padian of Brunswick, which I haven't read but it sounds wonderful. There have been some more nice reviews, too, but I'll have to write about them later. This time I spent too much time writing about cat pee. There are priorities in this life.


Jody Feldman said...

Nothing wrong with runner-up to a great award! Yay, you!

Jody Feldman said...

Premature poster here ...
and yikes about the leg. My thoughts will be with you that the titanium will be very shiny and the pain will be very temporary.

Anonymous said...

*ROFL* Thanks for the description of the cat pee disaster, it's wonderful!

*tries to come up with a solution for the potion problem* Assuming you don't want her to see through the enchantment at that particular point in the story, there aren't that many solutions:
(1) The character has to drink it later. (Probably not possible.)
(2) The enchantment pops up later. (Probably equally not possible.)
(3) The potion doesn't work instantly but needs (a) some amount of time to start working or (b) some particular catalyst to be activated, e.g. the character has to first sneeze/cough/have a giggling fit/drink a bottle of fire whisky/scratch herself behind the left ear with her big toe. You pick.

Best of luck with the shiny new knee!

StarlingUK said...

It wasn't the cat, it was the dog! Or Rob! It's never the cat!

And I'm sticking to that.

StarlingUK said...

P.S. I vote for the fire whiskey.

Donna Hosie said...


(On the runner-up, not cat pee, obviously!)

Ellen Booraem said...

I do like option #3 Ruth. I'm seriously considering some variant...thank you!

Back away from the fire whiskey, Martje/Starling. And the cat sends her thanks for your deep and abiding faith in her. (Now, why do you suppose she's snickering?)

Thanks Jody and Donna!

Anonymous said...

*tries to decipher tiny handwritten note added to margin of recipe in "The Very Secret Book of Elixirs and Potions" from the library*

This elixir has a quirk:
For it to properly work
You need to watch a cat pee
Into a potted lemon tree.

*nods sagely*

Ellen Booraem said...


A perfect solution, Ruth! (Er, not meaning a solution of cat pee...)

I noticed this morning that there's dirt all over the floor by the pot again. I hope she's just messing with my head and not the tree. I can't see how she'd fit her butt in between all the chopsticks. But she's a clever little thing...

Sandi said...

The same thing happened to me, Ellen, only it was an aloe plant, not a lemon tree (Meg would definitely not have wanted to repot *that* aloe!). :)

I like Ruth's suggestions, and I love her lemon tree poem.

Anonymous said...

*smugly says*
If you just had dogs you wouldn`t have to worry about it. They just lift their leg and pee on the outside of the pot......Wait, that`s an advantage?
*mulls over her logic some more*


Barrie said...

I'll be thinking of you on the 23rd. And I won't forget because I have another friend having surgery the same day. Although she's not coming away with anything shiny. Congrats on your runner-up award!!!

Barrie said...

Oh, a thought re the elixir and not seeing through the enchantment (a little thought because I'm not great at fantasy): could it be that the elixir doesn't work for certain enchantments?

StarlingUK said...

Good luck with your knee, Ellen!

Anonymous said...

Whoops hadn't checked in here for a while. Lol on the cat.

Good luck on the knee.

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