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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Lessons from my sister’s bathroom

Lessons from my sister’s bathroom 8

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I’m in Seattle for work this week, which means I have the sincere pleasure of shacking up with my younger sister. It’s almost as if I’ve been transported back to 1997…we’re sharing a bed, a blow dryer, and (gasp!) even a bathroom.

Thankfully, we’ve matured significantly since adolescence. There’s far less screaming, hair pulling, and fingernail scratching than back in our middle school days. Although I have been known to bust out my freshly manicured claws in a few extreme cases.

(Like when Hayley eats the last Lara Bar.)

Still, I pride myself in how far I’ve come. The sixteen-year-old Katrina would have screamed and possibly thrown a flat-iron at someone upon seeing this on the bathroom floor.


The rational, grown-up Katrina simply filed a polite, yet slightly confused inquiry.

“Um…Hayley? Why are there pieces of oatmeal all over your bathroom floor? Did you try to make a face mask again?”

“Ha!” she giggled casually. “Nah. It’s for my hair. You know how you use baby powder as a dry shampoo on the days you don’t wash it?”

I nodded slowly. Hayley and I both inherited the incredibly greasy locks of our father, Mark. Imagine an oily, scalp-based version of the five-o-clock shadow, and you get the idea. As a result, my sister and have been buying baby powder in bulk for years.

“Okay. And you know how baby powder kind of tints your roots white?”

I nodded again. I really didn’t like where this was going.

“Well,” she continued. “Oatmeal does basically the same thing! The oats soak up all the grease from your hair. Plus…my hair is basically the same color as oatmeal, so I’m not stuck with a scalp that’s a weird, ashy color.”

I was shocked, to say the least.

“Do you eat the oats when you’re done?” I asked incredulously.

“No!” she screamed while gazing at me in horror. “That would be disgusting.”

Perhaps it’s the cheapskate in me, but this seems like a terrible waste of perfectly good breakfast food.

“You should try it sometime.” Hayley coaxed. “It works really great.”

“Thanks, but no thanks.” I replied. “I prefer to eat my oats out of a bowl. Plus…my hair’s way darker than yours. I’d probably have to use Coco Puffs or something.”

Hayley nodded in agreement.

“Plus,” I continued, “Aren’t you worried about…I don’t know…accidentally running out the door with a couple of stray oats in your weave, or something?”

(Truly, such a travesty would be even worse than the dreaded toilet paper stuck in the shoe calamity!)

“Meh…not really.” she shrugged. “This is Seattle, after all. And the oats are organic.”

Of course they are.

(Next thing you know, she’s going to be coloring her hair with all-natural beet juice grown by blind, vegan monks, or something.)

(Although as long as she stays away from those hair ties crafted from dried strands of free range beef, I suppose I’ll allow it.)

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Bundle of joy

Bundle of joy 9

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Scott and I are thrilled to announce that our happy little family is soon to be expanding!


Translation? I’m not preggo. (I am however slowly working my way towards a guest appearance on Confessions: Animal Hoarding.)

I’m know, I know…that was a mean trick to play. (Extra big apology to you, Mom.) Would you believe me if it I told you it was all Scott’s idea? Because it totally was. (Plus, I’ve always wanted to publicly share one of those “pregnancy reveal” photos…and as someone who may or may not ever have children, this may very well be my only shot!)

More details on Jolie’s furry little sibling on Monday. In the mean time, be prepared that we’re probably not adopting what you think we are…

While you ponder that little riddle, I’m off to prepare the birth announcements!

Uh…I mean…get some work done.

(P.S. We’re registered at Target if anyone wants to…I don’t know…throw us a pet shower or something.)

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Home 8

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Late last night, my brother returned home from an eight month tour in the Middle East.

The knowledge that he had arrived safely in the states was extremely cathartic. I felt gratitude, joy, pride, and most of all, relief. Out of my entire family, I took his recent deployment the worst. Truth be told, the stress I experienced after he left (among other warning signs) led me to discover that I suffer from an Anxiety Disorder. I’ve since received help (more on this later) and have noticed a huge difference in the way I function on a day-to-day basis. Still — having a younger sibling stationed on the other side of the world certainly isn’t easy, even if you don’t have a problem with Anxiety.

I haven’t yet had the chance to speak with my brother, but am so looking forward to our first conversation — I haven’t heard his voice since last September. I’ve missed him.

My brother is the first member of our family to join the military. Until I was directly affected, I never truly understood the difficult sacrifices made by the members of our Armed Services, as well as their loved ones. Each time I see a man or woman in uniform, I have a newfound respect and understanding of the beautiful commitment they have made to their country. Thank you to all of you who have, or currently are serving.

And thank you to everyone who sent kind words and prayers. I feel so blessed to have my brother in my life, extremely grateful that he returned home safely, and truly thankful that you all supported me while I was going through the stress of his deployment. It meant the world to me

Welcome home, bud. We love you and are so incredibly proud of you!

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