Katranss 2

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Out of all three of my siblings, my younger brother Janss and I undoubtedly bear the most striking resemblance. Our baby photos are identical, as are our profiles, hair color and — as much as I hate to admit it — tiny little teeth.  Perhaps most terrifying is when I get ready in the morning only to look in the mirror and catch a glimpse of Janss–wearing mascara–staring back at me.

(Perhaps the most ironic piece of this entire story is that Janss looks nothing like our other brother, who just so happens to be his twin.)

As it turns out, I’m not the only one who notices our sibling likeness. While visiting Seattle this summer, I posted a photo to Facebook of Janss, eating Chinese takeout in Gasworks park with his bare hands. (Not by choice — he’d forgotten to grab utensils.)


When I returned to ‘Sota, one of my friends mentioned the photo.

“I didn’t know you had a brother!” she exclaimed. “You guys look exactly alike! When I first saw the photo, I told my boyfriend, ‘Whoa!! Katrina cut her hair off and got glasses!’ It took me a good ten seconds to realize it wasn’t you.”

I took this as a compliment–mostly because Janss is really skinny and has better eyebrows than me.

(And let’s face it — eating sweet and sour pork on a park bench with my fingers is clearly something I would do.)

This week, Janss’ girlfriend had us over for a lovely dinner party. (With utensils.) My siblings and I quickly found ourselves discussing the matching faces of Janss and Katrina. As is typically the case, my sister Hayley — the brains of the family — experienced a stroke of genius.

“Katrina — you should do Janss’ makeup and see how much you can really make him look like you. We can do it when everyone’s together at Christmas!”

I’m not sure who was more excited…myself or Janss. I mean…what better way to celebrate the Messiah’s birth than slathering my younger brother’s face with tinted moisturizer and high pigment eyeshadow!? Christmas can’t come soon enough.

The following morning, Janss returned to the topic. “The best part is that I can probably fit into some of your clothes!” he mused.

This? This right here is exactly why I love my family.

(And in case you’re wondering…no. I will not be getting a pixie cut and glasses come Yuletide. This is operation Katranss….not Jatrina. Duh.)

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A senior with a sledgehammer

A senior with a sledgehammer 0

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Over the weekend, my father Mark turned 65. Being that I was back in Seattle for work, I had the privilege of planning and attending his celebration of senior-hood.

Mostly, I was just excited to witness this.

Señor Senior

Señor Senior

And this…


True Story: Mark broke the sledgehammer on the piñata.

And, perhaps most memorably, this:


See where I get it from?

Happy Birthday, Dad!  And thank you for giving all of us hope that the road to 65 can be paved with tequila and duck calls instead of dentures and prune juice.

P.S. Sorry for filling your piñata with Werther’s originals. It just seemed…well…appropriate, given your age and all.


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Squirrel Tail: Part 2

Squirrel Tail: Part 2 3

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I’m picking up where my last post left off, so if you’ve somehow missed the story of how I discovered I live next to a taxidermist, or the unfortunate account of my father Mark trying to salvage a decomposing rodent from the middle of our road, you might want to spend a few minutes catching up. This post may seem extremely bizarre otherwise.

(Although let’s face it…the whole thing is strange regardless of whether or not you know the back story.)

The moment I realized Mark had shown up on the neighbor’s porch against my will with an expiring squirrel carcass in hand, I was irate. It’s a very good thing Scott’s dad and stepmom had come over for dinner — the whole ‘don’t act up in front of the company’ rule kept me from going BSC (Bat S*** Crazy) and launching into a roadkill-themed family feud for the ages.

Instead, I calmly picked up the phone and dialed Mark’s cell.

(But only because my in-laws were present.)

He answered after two rings.

“Hi, Katrina! What’s up?”

“Dad,” I asked sternly. “Where are you?” This was merely a formality. I knew precisely where Mark had ventured off to.

“Oh, I’m just over at your neighbor’s place!” he responded cheerfully. “He’s helping me with this squirrel I found!”

“I hope you’re not embarrassing me, Dad.” I muttered with calculated control. My blood was boiling.

“Of course I’m not! We’re having a great time! We’ve been talking about Alaska, and he even gave me a house tour! You should see some of the cool stuff he’s got over here!”

“Okay,” I responded coolly, “But do you think you could make your way back home now? Supper is ready and Scott’s family is already here. He’s pulling the first pizza off the grill as we speak.”

“Oh, yep! Sorry, Trina! I’ll be right over.”

Sure enough, the promise of fresh pizza had him back on the Taylor premises in a flash. Breezing through the front door, he greeted Scott’s Dad before launching into an extremely disturbing version of show and tell, featuring the squirrel.

“I found out it’s a female!” he bragged. “I think he might be pregnant…I mean…just look at how squishy his belly is!”

“Her, Dad. Her.” I corrected.

“Sorry. Her. But seriously…feel his belly! It’s completely bulbous and swollen. I think he might have been pregnant.”

Mark began massaging the poor creature’s torso vigorously to illustrate his point. Scott walked by with a steaming pizza, rolling his eyes.

“Mark…I think the swelling may be due to the fact that the animal has been lying dead in a hot garage for over twelve hours.” Scott’s Dad quietly offered.


Mark later informed us it was too late to save the squirrel. “Would have had to put him in the freezer right away.” At this point, I gave up on correcting him in regards to the critter’s gender.

While the squishy abdomen couldn’t be saved, Mark was delighted to discover the tail was salvageable. I learned this the hard way when I caught him wandering around our kitchen the following morning, a limp squirrel tail delicately resting in his left hand.

“Dad! What are you doing in our kitchen with that thing?!” I shrieked. Visions of contracting Mad Squirrel Disease from my Keurig flashed through my germophobic imagination.

Relax, Trina,” he crooned, “I did everything outside and have been very careful. I just need a little pouch and some salt to pack the tail in so I can bring it home with me.”

I groaned in disgust. While I’m normally not an accomplice to such ill-fated endeavors, I knew the alternative was a kitchen full of rabies.

Don’t move!” I snapped. “I’ll get everything for you.”

I fetched a large ziplock bag and heaping portion of kosher salt while Mark looked on eagerly. I couldn’t help but grin. How in the world are these the genes that created me?

On second thought, please don’t answer that.

“I sure hope they don’t think this salt I’m curing the tail with is cocaine when I go through airport security,” Mark mused.

“Trust me Dad,” I warned, “TSA confusing you for a drug smuggler is the least of your worries.”

“I don’t know…” he muttered skeptically, “This is probably going to look pretty suspicious.”

I’m counting the fact that he realizes that as a very, very small victory.

(Along with the fact that no one in the house appears to have rabies.)



I’ve since learned that the tail made it back to Washington State without incident.

Still trying to decide if whether I’m horrified, or impressed with that.

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Squirrel Tail: Part 1

Squirrel Tail: Part 1 5

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My father Mark has always had a habit of  rescuing discarded items from the side of the road. Usually it’s a half-empty Gatorade bottle he’ll take home and “sanitize”.  If he’s lucky, he might even find a stray golf ball, lone tennis shoe, possibly a broken TV with a cardboard sign reading “FREE”. Dad’s been engaging in such behavior for as long as I can remember — his scavenging habits no longer bother or embarrass me.

Or so I thought.

My parents visited Scott and me in Minnesota this past week. They wanted to come see our new house, and had planned the vacation around my birthday, our housewarming party, and a work conference my Dad was attending in Saint Paul.  Halfway through the visit, I convinced Dad to join me for one of the early morning classes I teach at the local gym.  Clad in the shortest shorts you’ve ever seen a 64-year-old man wear, Mark made his way through the sixty-minute routine without complaining once. I was congratulating him on his high level of fitness during the drive home when it happened.

“Oh, no!” Mark shrieked.

“What?” I asked with concern. “Did you leave something at the gym?”

“No…look! Right there! That poor squirrel in the middle of the road must have been hit by a car.”

I rolled my eyes and kept driving.

“Gosh…he doesn’t even look damaged.” Mark continued. “I should really go pick him up.”

“Please don’t, Dad.” I pleaded as we pulled into the driveway. “What are you going to do with a dead squirrel?”

As mischievous look spread across his sun-weathered face as we stepped out of the car. Thirty minutes later, Mark beckoned me into the garage. “There’s something I want to show you,” he urged.

Sure enough, there was the squirrel, resting peacefully atop a roll of old carpet we were planning on throwing out.

“Isn’t he beautiful?” Mark swooned. “There’s not a scratch on him! Poor little guy. He was in the prime of his life. And look at that tail! I’ve never seen one so full and bushy! Isn’t he just a gorgeous color? So unusual!”

I must admit that it was a strangely handsome rodent. Yet the fact that he had died without any apparent injury was somewhat concerning. Perhaps there was rabies involved?

Please tell me you washed your hands, Dad.”

“Not yet, but…uh…I’m going to!” he assured me.


Six hours later, Dad informed me of his plans for the squirrel.

“Hey, Katrina…want to come introduce me to your neighbor? You said he’s a taxidermist, right?”

“Dad. You are not going to have that squirrel stuffed.”

“No! Of course not!” he responded, “I just want to skin him and take the pelt home!”

Right. Because that’s so much better.

“Dad,” I spoke calmly, “I am not brining you over to the neighbor’s house with that squirrel. It’s embarrassing. Plus, I’m sure the last thing he wants to do is skin a piece of roadkill in his free time.”

“Please, Katrina?” he begged. “I think he’s going to love that squirrel! I’m not going to bother him…just ask for his opinion!”

“Mark,” Scott piped in, “I can skin it if you like. I just need to borrow a scalpel from work.”

“See?” I urged, “Scott can do it for you, Dad!”

It was clear by the look on his face that Mark didn’t trust Scott. He wanted a professional animal skinner.

Our argument continued for the better part of twenty minutes. I was absolutely adamant about him not bothering the taxidermist with his side of the road find.

“Get serious, Dad!” I yelled with frustration. “You have absolutely zero need for a squirrel pelt!”

“I’ve got plans for it, Katrina.” He responded with attitude.

“Really, Dad? Really? And what exactly are these ‘plans’?” I sneered.

“I don’t have to tell you.”  he retorted haughtily.

“That’s because you don’t have any plans for it!!!!!” I screamed.

We parted ways before the debate grew any more heated. I retreated to my bedroom for some deep breaths and a few much-needed sips gulps of wine. Ten minutes later, I heard Scott calling from downstairs.

“Katrina! Mark! Pizza’s ready…come and get it!”

Scott’s made from scratch pizza was just what the doctor ordered. I scurried downstairs, prepared to eat my frustrations in the form of nitrate free pepperoni.

“Where’s your Dad?” Scott asked as I entered the kitchen.

“I thought he was down here with you…?” I responded. “He’s not upstairs…”

Scott and I realized what had occurred at the exact same moment. Our eyes grew wide in terror as I rushed into the garage towards the giant roll of carpet. My worst fears were instantly confirmed. Mark–and his beloved squirrel–were nowhere in sight.


To be continued…

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