Friday, July 24, 2015

Wrapping Up The Wildlife Wars: Nothing Is Impossible
"Rick," I said one day not too terribly long ago, "there is something in the garage. I'm serious. Some animal. It smells foul in there, and there's dirt on the hood of my car. Like from the flowerpots up in the loft."

It's important to note that my husband took in this News the same way he usually does, which is by Not Looking At Me while I deliver it, and then by giving not one single sign that he even heard it. I waited for approximately two minutes, and then I said, "Rick. I mean it. Some animal is living in there, and--"

He interrupted me calmly, slowly and patiently turning around to face me with a completely unchanged expression of relative disinterest. "Nance. First of all, I don't smell anything in there. And second, there is no way any animal can get in there. No way. It's impossible. There's no point of entry for anything. A bird could maybe get trapped in there and get a little dirt on your car, but that's about it. I'm telling you, it's nothing."

Shortly after that, several convincing Pieces Of Evidence presented themselves that convinced even Rick that We Were Not Alone: a broken flowerpot on the hood of my car; bite marks on all of the bags of potting soil; pawprints and scratches on a car door. It was time to Do Something, and for once, that Something did NOT involve the BB gun.

"Looks like I have to clean out this garage," he said. "Take everything out and see where the hell it is and see how it's getting in here." In Rick's defense, the garage was already pretty tidy. In no time at all I heard him yelling, and I ran out from the kitchen to see what was happening.

Rick emerged from the back of the garage, triumphant, a shovel in one hand and a bloody raccoon tail in the other. "Got him!" he said, smiling. "That sucker took off so fast! But I got his tail, anyway. He won't be back."

I was still standing there, my hand on my mouth--which was gaping--and my eyes staring at that bloody tail. Finally, I managed to recover myself. "But how did it get in there? And what if it does come back? What if it had babies in there? And what do you plan to do with that tail, for heaven's sake?"

Very soon, I had answers to all of those questions. The clever raccoon had pried off a soffit panel at the back of the garage and sneaked in that way. There was no nest, no babies, for it had no need--it could come and go at will through this access. And the tail was tacked to a nearby stud to serve as a deterrent and a trophy. Rick also fastened the soffit panels with roofing nails to prevent any more invasions.

We went to bed with easy minds that night.

But about three A.M., I was awakened by a loud metallic clunk from the basement. Rick, of course, did not hear it. I sat up and waited for it to repeat itself. When it did not, I still woke him. It had been loud and sounded bad, maybe mechanical. He had to check it out. We both crept down to the basement landing.

As soon as we neared the steps, a terrible stench assailed us. It stunk like something rotten or rotting. "Do you smell that?" I asked him. He nodded. Tears came to my eyes, an involuntary response from fear. I grabbed his arm as he reached for the light. "Be careful!" I whispered, which was stupid. We hadn't bothered to be quiet until now, and once we turned the light on, any hope of secrecy or surprise was long gone. He flipped the light switch, and we both stared in shock.

Trickling under the door to the right was a small stream of deep red. It was travelling inexorably to the drain just ahead of us near the bottom of the steps.

"Holy shit," said Rick with heartfelt piety. "What in the hell is that?"

We pushed open the door to a massacre scene. Deep red splatters covered the spare refrigerator and dripped down its full length. The stench was overwhelming and disgusting. The floor was covered; we instinctively turned to check the bottles of wine in the racks. Those racks contained a lot of money in reds, and...what was this?

One bottle was missing its cork. Instinctively, I looked at the floor. Sure enough, there it was. Rick was sliding the bottle out of the rack, careful not to spill any more of it. He took it over to the sink and poured it out: the remaining contents were a thick, putrid sludge of sediment. It was a bad bottle, probably the last of the run. That sediment had fermented and popped the cork, which hit the ductwork, producing that clank I had heard.

Mystery solved, but now we had a lot of smelly, messy work to do in the wee hours of the morning. As we started to gather our supplies, I turned to Rick. "I thought it was blood! I thought it was that damned raccoon, that somehow it got into the basement and bled to death in this house!" I said.

"Did you really?" he said, and he turned toward me. A patient, kind look illuminated his face. "Nance. There is no possible way that raccoon could ever get into this house."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Rambo Moment: Wildlife Wars Continue, Part III

Back when the boys were quite little, we had a very, very wet spring and summer--quite a lot like the one we're having right now. Everything was soggy and waterlogged, and it seemed like all manner of creepy crawlies and varmints came out. Especially annoying was the influx of a skunk family who wandered up our driveway each night, left a scented greeting, and departed by dawn. Naturally, our neighborhood was blessed by a robust stray cat population, so altercations were frequent and fragrant. (Our bedroom windows overlook the driveway--did I mention that?)

It was also the Summer Of Spiders, and I felt as if I would never get rid of them. Or the Thousand-Leggers. This was The Time Before Cats as well, although I doubt seriously if EmilyCat or TravisCat would have been much help. Travis whined terribly when he encountered any bugs near his food dish, and Emily simply couldn't be bothered.

But I digress.

It was after dinner one day when we were in the living room. Sam suddenly pointed into the kitchen and said, "Kitty! Hi, kitty!" Sam was only about two, a toddler who had been slow to talk, and one of those kids who called all men Daddy and all drinks Juice. Anything, therefore, which was small and furry and walked on four legs was a Kitty. Horrified, I asked him to clarify. "Sam, what did you say? Where is a kitty?" He smiled excitedly and pointed into the kitchen. "Kitty in there!" he said.

"Rick," I said, sick and dreadful. "Something is in the kitchen." Somehow, I was able to make the boys stay in the living room while Rick went out to investigate. In short order he was back. "Nance, it's a mouse. I see where it went. It's behind the dishwasher now. I'm getting the BB gun."

I felt like I was in a bad action movie and that Rick was suffering a Sylvester Stallone delusion. What in the hell was he going to do to a mouse with a BB gun? And behind the dishwasher? "Rick!" I yelled, but it was too late. He had grabbed the gun, cocked it, and was going in.

"It's in the space under the counter, in the insulation. I can see it!" he said. I heard the gun pop, cock, then pop again. "Got it!" he said. "I really got it." There was a pause, then, "Where the hell did it go?" I heard him open the cupboards next to the dishwasher and rummage around, heard him open the drawer, and then a strangled yelp. "Dammit!" There were the sounds of a brief struggle, then his footsteps on the basement steps. Moments later, he came up and into the living room, smiling and triumphant. "Got him!" he said. "But I'll get some traps in case there are more. I hit him, too. He was bloody. He jumped out of the drawer and ran downstairs. But I got him."

Rambo's victory was short-lived, however. And the mouse was probably just a scout or the recon team.

A day or two later, I heard the snap of the trap behind the trashcan in the kitchen. I was home with only Jared and Sam, but I wasn't afraid to dispose of a mousetrap. As I walked over to the can, I was surprised to hear more noise. It sounded like the trap snapping over and over again. How could that be? I wondered. With trepidation, I slid the kitchen can away from the wall and took a look.

What I saw was huge, a mouse on steroids with its head caught in the trap, trying desperately to free itself by shaking its head back and forth, knocking the wooden trap on the tile floor each time. The thing had its mouth open, revealing sharp yellow teeth on top and bottom, a pink mouth open in a silent scream as it writhed right and left, right and left. Horrified, I swallowed my own scream, mindful that Sam and Jared were around somewhere, and I slid the can right back into place and tried to think of what on earth to do.

Rick was quite a ways off on a job site, and no way was I letting that thing back there until the end of the day. But I could not bring myself to touch it. I immediately thought of my colleague's husband Lou, who lived one street over. He was the dearest and kindest man, and he used to walk over to deliver his famous homemade soup to us. He would know what to do, and he would be my Knight In Shining Armor! I called Carol and explained the situation. "I'm sending him right over!" she said. "Lou will take care of everything. Don't worry about a thing, Nance," she said.

In moments Lou appeared through the yards across the street, carrying a paper bag, gloves, and a whisk broom. I wanted to kiss him. The Giant Mouse was still flopping, making noise behind my kitchen trash can. He took a moment to reassure me and then went to work while I stood in the next room. In less than a minute, he had taken the creature outside to my garbage cans and came back inside to talk to me.

"Nance," he said worriedly, "that's no mouse. That's a river rat. You need to tell Rick. Somehow, that came up from the river and got into your house, maybe through your basement or something. He needs to find where and take care of it. And you need bigger traps."

Rats. Can you possibly imagine? First bats and then rats. I was ready to burn the place down. I think that's exactly what I told Rick when we...discussed it later.

We avoided that eventuality by finding the old sump crock with outside access and plugging it up, ending our rat problem. And Rick remained fully clothed throughout.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Where The Wild Things Were: The Second In A Series

When Rick and I went looking for our house, we had next to nothing for a downpayment. We knew we were looking at a major fixer-upper, but since Rick was a carpenter and could do pretty much anything, we were fine with Buying Neighborhood first and a House second. We found our teeny little story-and-a-half bungalow on a wonderful tree-lined street where our kids would attend the same schools their father did. Jared was only a few months old, and we lived in our apartment for a month while we got as much of the house ready as possible to move into.

It had been a rental for years and years, its landlord in Florida, its last inhabitants forcibly evicted. The place was a disaster, but it had beautiful woodwork and lots of potential. We worked hard getting things ready, and fought off an invasion of carpenter ants which came literally cascading out of the wall behind the bathtub. I never stomped so much or so hard in my life, screaming the whole time. That was almost a dealbreaker.

One afternoon, as we were sweating and working, we heard a strange tapping at one of the windows at the side of the fireplace. I walked over and was astounded to see a caricature of an old woman, hunched over her cane, standing in the driveway of the house next door. She had apparently banged on the window with her cane. As soon as she saw my face in the window, she squinted up at me and said something unintelligible.

"I'm sorry, but I didn't hear you. What did you say?" I raised my voice in case she had trouble hearing me. She took a wobbly step toward the edge of her driveway and fixed me with a severe look. "I said That's a bat house! You bought a bat house. You should have bought my house, but you bought a bat house. There's bats in that house. Shoulda bought my house."

I was so amazed that I almost shut the window and walked away, but St. Patsy didn't raise me that way. "We haven't come across any bats, but thank you," I said as politely as I could to this bizarre woman.  "And your house wasn't on the market when we were looking. It had a buyer at the time. Again, thanks for your concern." I walked away with what I hoped was a pleasant smile and wave, but she was unimpressed. "That's a bat house!" she said, decisively.

My memory fails me as to when the first bat appeared, but it was quite some time, and Mrs. Jessie had moved away by then, replaced by a couple our age. Jared was already upstairs in a Big Boy Bed, and his scared little cries on the monitor about something flying around up there woke me. Super Rick went galumphing up there in his underwear, and as soon as he told me it was a bat, I had a Bat House Flashback. I called up to Jared that it was "a nightbird who was lost" and that he had to get under his covers until Daddy said to come out; then I cowered downstairs with a sinking heart. Holy crap. What if we did have a bat house?

After wounding/stunning it with a tennis racket, Rick put it in a towel and took it right outside to beat it to death in the driveway. The neighbors, of course, came out to see What In The Hell Was Going On. From that moment on, Rick became known as Batman. And I was Mental Case. I could not stop thinking about Mrs. Jessie's dire pronouncement. We Had Bought A Bat House. My precious child lived in a Bat House. What kind of parents were we?

It seemed like once a week there was a bat incident, one even swooping down the steps and into the living room. Jared would run downstairs into our bedroom and he and I would tent up under the comforter, waiting to hear Rick come downstairs announcing, "Got it!" and listening for the inevitable applause from the neighbors (if it were not in the middle of the night). Rick had even taken to leaving a tennis racket and fishing net at the top of the steps, along with an old pillowcase--his BatKit. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I dismissed the idea that it was just wayward bats sneaking into the house. I had to admit that they were already there. It was time to call an exterminator and see what we were dealing with. It was either that or put our house on the market, something I had wailed more than a few times.

We were so strapped financially those early days! And we would not borrow money from family; I remember so many birthdays when Rick's gift from his grandparents was a car payment. But it was clear that we had to hire a professional for The Bat Problem or I was going to need another kind of expensive Professional Help.

Enter Critter Control, a pest control company who specialized in bat and raccoon problems, and whose name I found warmly reassuring. A sturdy, capable-looking gentleman went outside to have a look around, then went upstairs to inspect the crawlspaces after hearing my story. When he came downstairs, he spoke to me in the tone of a doctor who is about to break The Worst News Possible to a fragile patient. His eyes were doe-like, and his voice was like warm pancake syrup. "Ma'am, first of all, we're gonna be able to help you, no problem at all. We'll do what we need to today, and it won't take but a night or two, and everything will be taken care of. No more bats. And that's a guarantee." My eyes teared up immediately. The sense of relief I felt was immense and overwhelming. But he wasn't done. "Now, Ma'am, what you have up there, in your crawlspace--in a void wall--is a bat colony. And at dusk--"

And this is where I stopped him. I stopped him because I felt like I was going to throw up or faint or both. I had a colony. Of BATS. In my HOUSE. Right now up there and he was just standing there. I tried to remain calm as I formed my question. "When you say colony, many...?"

"Now, Ma'am, we don't want to get into specifics. We really truly don't. It doesn't matter. Because here's what we'll do...." And in very simple, clear language--with visuals--he explained to me exactly how he was going to turn My Bat House back into My House in just a day or two. In that lovely, hypnotic, Mrs. Butterworth voice. And I remember how I stood there, nodding and understanding and feeling relieved all over again. He was Extermivangelist.

Just as he said, my bat problem disappeared immediately. Rick's tennis racket and fishing net could return to their original purposes, and the neighbors could find other forms of entertainment in the evenings and wee hours (although reenactments and Talking About It still provided plenty).

For those of you scoring at home, that's Us--2; Wildlife--0.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Summer Of Crows

After I waxed Nostalgic and Reverent in my last post about birds, J. in Comments reminded me that a great many birds (as well as all sorts of other species in Nature) can be real assholes. It reminded me of an incident that I wanted to share with you. Several, actually, and as I began thinking more and more, I wondered if I was actually a Nature Appreciator after all.  Many times Rick and I have had to wrest control away from the animals, and it has not been pretty. Especially when Rick gets involved.

(In any case, I am still Deeply Committed to my resolution to name all pesky critters after republicans, and I will photograph them and share them in a post later.)

But I digress.

One summer many years ago, we were awakened at an ungodly hour by the raucous and persistent screaming of crows. It wasn't even quite light outside yet, and the noise was jarring. It kept up, back and forth and back and forth, for over an hour. It was close, too, and I had it pegged to the huge evergreen in the yard catty-corner behind us. We shut our bedroom windows, but it didn't really help; our house is tiny, and the rest of the windows in it were open. That sound rocketed around the whole place, and we couldn't go back to sleep. I really felt bad for Rick, who was not on summer vacation like me and the boys. He had a full day's work ahead of him. We could take it easy all day. The boys, by the way, slept through it all the way children often do.

We had never seen a crow in the neighborhood, so we figured it was an anomaly and that there wouldn't be a repeat performance. We were wrong. For days and days, we were awakened at first light by this screeching serenade. Rick was exhausted; I was frustrated and angry. We were able to see our tormentors in the boughs of the pine tree, just as I had thought. What sounded like a whole gang was only two crows. With horror, I contemplated the idea of them nesting there.

Finally, one Saturday morning, Rick had had enough. "That's it!" he said. "I'm done with this bullshit." He bolted from our bed, clad only in his boxer briefs. I sat up. "What are you going to do?" I asked, more than a little fearful. He looked weary, grim, and to be honest, desperate.

He didn't even answer me. The next thing I heard was his heavy footfall on the steps to the back door. I heard the door open, and I leaned to look out the window. What I saw next must have made me turn into the embodiment of Edvard Munch's The Scream.

There was my husband, on our deck in the back yard, lying on the chaise longue in his underwear, aiming the Daisy BB gun rifle up into the towering pine, and calmly firing at the crows. After each shot, he quickly cocked it, returned it to his shoulder, lined up the sight, and fired again. Over and over, he repeated this, never changing his expression until once he said, "Got him" with satisfaction and a brief, one-sided smile. I knew the little Daisy couldn't kill a crow, especially at that distance, but I knew it could sting it, and it could definitely discourage it. I hoped our birdbrained alarm clock was finally broken.

It's probably worth noting that our neighborhood in a tightly-packed little suburb is an old street where houses are separated only by the width of a narrow driveway. We can hear one another sneeze inside our homes, and our neighbor to the west had an elevated deck, flush with the top step out of her back door. She probably wouldn't have been the least bit surprised, however, to have come out and looked down upon that particular tableau. Her son used to call my husband "Funny Rick." (But my sons were his babysitters.)


The Boxer Brief BB Gun Caper did solve our crow problem. The pair left, and we have not had a crow landing since. No neighbors witnessed the event, and as far as I know, no wildlife was harmed in the process. This time. But because Rick is often called upon to rescue us from Wildlife, he has tangled with many, many varmints. I think this may have to be a series.


Monday, June 15, 2015

The Bird Book

The Actual Book!
My elementary school, which has now been torn down and rebuilt into a bigger and more modern building on the very same block, did not have a library. I mean to say, it did not have an actual Library room. Instead, we all trooped into the gymnasium, which also had in it a stage. We carefully mounted the steps, and there behind the curtains were the shelves and shelves of books. Looking back now, there couldn't have been very many, and I don't honestly know how the whole thing was managed. After all, we had school programs and concerts, too, but I think they were held on the floor of the gym at the front of the stage on risers. None of that mattered to me, of course. I just loved going to the library and picking out a book.

Heck, I don't recall there even being a librarian. I doubt there was one. It was probably the teacher's job to take care of all of that in our Gym-Stage Library. As I've mentioned here many times before, I was completely oblivious to so much Reality as I was growing up. I completely trusted all Grownups to take care of everything, and I was happy to let them.

Since I was already reading well into the middle grades when I arrived at kindergarten, I burned through the little library pretty quickly, at least the books I was interested in. But I didn't mind. I was--and still am--an avid ReReader. I also took out the books no one else cared too much about, like the Bird Book.

I was pretty excited about bringing home the Bird Book to my mother. St. Patsy started me on my love of backyard birdwatching, and her knowledge of bird songs, nests, habits, mating rituals, and everything else is almost encyclopedic. When she trimmed our bangs, she put the hair out for the robins to use in their nests. When she heard a frenzy of robin and blue jay calls, she knew they were feuding for nesting territory.  She knew why we got chased by the blue jay--it had a nest in the rose arbor by the door. And it was my mother who called for the BB gun every time she saw the neighbor's Siamese cat slithering around the back yard, low and slow, its eyes intent on the chubby baby robin listening at the wet ground near the bird bath. St. Patsy could noiselessly slide that gun barrel through the open storm window, draw a bead on that cat's butt, and ping it precisely to the right or left of the tail. The next thing we'd hear was a pained screech from a cat jumping straight up in the air before it scooted out of the yard. "All right Mom!" we'd hoot, and she'd simply nod, satisfied.

My mother and I would look at the Bird Book together, and I would look at it endlessly alone. I still remember its bright pages, each one about 4" x 6", bearing an illustration of a bird. They weren't photographs, like most bird books have now, but drawings. Underneath was a brief summary of its habitat, call/song, what it ate, how many eggs in its nest, type of nest, etc. I had seen a great many, of course: robin, blue jay, cardinal, grackle, starling, Baltimore oriole, red wing blackbird, all ten million sparrows, chickadees, juncos, mourning doves, and more. But as I looked at some of the other birds, I felt jealous. Some were so exotic, so colourful, so unusual. Why didn't they ever come to our yard? What if I never saw a red-eyed vireo? Or a pine grosbeak? Or a scarlet tanager? I had never even seen a hummingbird, let alone a painted (rainbow) bunting! And I had never gotten to see a bluebird, either.

The only flamingos I had ever seen were my late grandmother's old wire and concrete ones in my dad's rose garden. And the ones on Florida postcards we had been sent. All of our birds were boring. I still loved them, however, at least most of them. I learned my mother's disdain for starlings and grackles, both messy birds who were pigs at the bird feeders, ate all of our cherries before we got any, and who crowded out the other birds.

My father had a special affinity for the cardinal. He loved its red plumage, black mask, and the way it feeds and keeps company with its mate. It brightens up its surroundings, and it often waits until other birds are gone to feed. It likes to feed at dusk, when things are cool and quiet. It is a bit solitary, and he was a lot like that. My mother thinks of my dad whenever she sees a cardinal, and I think the rest of us do, too.

If I had to pick a favourite bird, I would pick the blue jay. It is a very beautiful bird, not shy at all, with a variety of songs and calls. It is a misunderstood bird in that many observers think it chases small birds away from feeders, but once it makes its "clear out" call, it gets a seed and flies elsewhere to eat it. In fact, blue jays are planters because of this. They often take seeds, bury or place them to eat later, forget about it, and the seeds will sprout. So, blue jays might have a big mouth and seem bossy, but they do a lot of good behind the scenes.

When I adopted EmilyCat so, so many years ago, I felt a twinge of guilt. She was mostly Siamese. We all grew up as Cat Haters, so devoted we were to birds, and we especially hated and mistrusted Siamese cats. One of the few times I ever heard my mother swear was when she referred to the Bird And Baby Bunny Eating Siamese as "That Damn Cat." But puny, sick little EmilyCat needed us. And it all turned out fine.

I'm happy to report that I have added considerably to my list of Birds I've Seen, even though some still remain elusive. Hummingbirds regularly stop at my feeder, and I did see a bluebird. A nesting pair of cedar waxwings cavort in the branches above the deck. Sunshiny goldfinches seem to be everywhere. A Carolina wren kept the kittens and me company all winter, pecking around on the front porch. Those are only a few examples. And I see a brilliant red cardinal, it seems, wherever I go.

bird book image

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Adjusting The Waistband On My Cranky Pants

Yeah, yeah, I'm still here, someplace amid a mound of fleece blankets, fleece-lined spandex exercise pants, longsleeved tee, and fleece hooded sweatshirt. Welcome to Ohio, where we like to celebrate the coming of June by having temperatures in the forties overnight and the fifties during the day.

I wish I were kidding.

And let's make sure we add wind and rain in there. So that I can also run my furnace to dispel the damp.

Holy crap. I am hereby lodging a Formal Complaint. Can someone out there see that it gets to the Proper Authorities?

Yikes. Someone is, I fear, a Little Bit Crabby. And a little Snarked Out. Not quite Centered or At One With Her Zen. I'm too cheap to pay for therapy, and even though I could use my Dr. On Demand app and get a free introductory session, I'd rather use all of you. Will you be my therapist and listen to my Issues? Then you can counsel me in Comments, and we can all do likewise for you. Here we go.

::Where Is The Real News?:: What passes for News these days is no less than a farce. It's as if People magazine has taken over journalism. I can feel/hear Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow spinning in their graves. Celebrity births, cutesy dog videos, and marginal events like charity drives and soldier homecomings are common stories on the national news (I'm looking at you, NBC Nightly News). Is there really nothing else occurring of note in the world, even in the realms of science, politics, government, technology, or finance?

::Is This Really Style?:: I sat (somewhat) stoically and quietly by while the Eighties neon colours came back into fashion, and I shut up a lot when everyone made a big deal out of the rope wedge, peasant blouses, and all the other crap that I used to wear back in the seventies as being so fresh and wonderful and Right Now On Trend. But there is No Way that I am sitting still for H&M selling this for $39.95 and even outright calling it The Mom Jean. It's a travesty. Worse yet is this assertion that the once-reviled, touristy and androgynous fanny pack is now de rigeur for all fashion mavens. Listen; the idea of being able to zip around on my errands without my purse hanging off my arm sounds like heaven to me, but if that comes at the expense of having a pelvis goiter, then no, No Thank You. I am old enough to remember the Playtex Girdle commercials and their admonishments about Midriff Bulge. I work hard not to have any Unsightly Bulges. The last thing I want is a Bulge that I paid for. (Oh, and for the record, I am still not wearing these. Certainly you can; I'm not judging.)

::Is This Real Life?:: In the next several months, it is expected that Donald "The Donald" Trump will announce his bid for the republican nomination for President. Of the United States. Where I live. Rather than be gleeful and entertained at this prospect, I am instead irked and irritated. Honestly, I'm not sure why. Probably because I know he's doing it just as an act of shameless self-promotion, and I'm annoyed that he's able to make such a mockery of a serious office to aggrandize and publicize himself and his empire. He's such a full-scale goofball that his own party will roll its eyes and sigh a lot, but the media will give him a ton of coverage and that's going to be excruciating.

::Real Quick-like:: How much do I need to care about the following things? Right now, I don't care about them at all even though they seem to be Everywhere: Game of Thrones, McDonald's "new" menu, Pinterest (I still don't get it), Sepp Blatter, Kelly Ripa's cleanse, the crazy Tasman Peninsula Dusky Antechinus, Windows 10, and Rand Paul. I will say that I find the name Sepp Blatter to be absolutely terrific. It belongs in the novel Cold Comfort Farm or perhaps something by Flannery O'Connor. Imagine:

"This here guy'll hep ya," said the cop, and he spat dryly into the street. He was indicating a slight, overall-wearing man who was ambling somewhat crookedly around the corner. "Name's Sepp Blatter. Owns the farm up the road. Has all kindsa equipment. He can getcha out." The officer raised his voice and called sharply, "Sepp! C'mon over here'n talk to this guy! He needs a tow." He pitched his voice lower and leaned in a little. "Now here's a little advice, 'n it's free. Sepp don't care much about money, but he ain't stupid neither. Them Blatters ain't livin' high up there, so make sure you offer him somethin' for his troubles. Do it up front, too." The officer winked broadly. "Get whatcha pay for that way."


My session is over; your turn in Comments.

pants in image for sale here

Monday, May 18, 2015

Clearing Out Some Clutter: Scatterthoughts
I've got those Beatin' Back A Headache Blues. It's tough to collect my thoughts lately, so why even try? Time for a little clutterbusting post to sweep out some thought nerfuls.

1. 6. The approximate number of times we were asked if we had any guns to sell at our garage sale last weekend. Sigh. Also the number of times I wanted to shoot the people asking. Well aware of the Irony, yes, thanks. (ZERO. ZERO GUNS will always be the answer.)

2. Just Do It! Today I scanned an article about Personal Finance. It said that it was time to think less traditionally about Money, and that since the interest on savings accounts was so terribly low, it was time to make your money work for you instead of save it. It also said that you should look for ways to make money. Write an e-book, it suggested, and get income from that. Holy crap. What in the hell have I been waiting for? Why don't I just sit here and write an e-book and watch my cash come rolling in? Anyone can do it.

3. So You Don't Have To. Currently, I am testing a toothpaste. It is in a plain white tube with only a number and ingredients on it. As part of a polling group, I agreed to use it for two weeks and then answer some questions about it later. While I am using it, I am supposed to think about building healthy gums and strong teeth. Because I am naturally a Directions Follower and Quite Studious about all Task-Oriented things (former teacher, remember), I really and truly do this. The whole time I am brushing, I think, "This product is meant to build healthy gums and strong teeth for me." The last product I tested was kitty litter. Of course, Piper and Marlowe did that testing, but I was supposed to observe whether or not they were averse to it in any way and whether or not it helped eliminate litter box odor. (They weren't and it did.)

4. 1. The number of black watersnakes I have attempted to kill thus far in 2015. One was sunning itself on the shore, and I was seized with an uncharacteristic desire to get rid of it. I grabbed a nearby log, hefted it up over my head, and brought it down with as much force as I could muster right on top of the snake. It writhed and reared back, opening its mouth. I immediately doubled over and retched, nearly fainting, seeing those patches of light and dark as I struggled to remain upright and conscious. When I felt able, I looked to see if I had killed it. I saw it floating in the rocks at the shore, half in and half out. Later, it was gone. My brother-in-law gave me a long-handled ax for future snake killing, should the need arise again. Jared feels this is A Bad Idea.

5. Get Ready. I feel like this is the year that the bugs are beginning their takeover of Earth. I have never, ever in my life seen it so damn buggy. Of course I blame the republicans and their constant watering-down of Environmental Legislation, but this is beyond political. Spiders the size of Kennedy half-dollars are roaming the countryside and everywhere I look there are bugs, bugs, bugs. Crawlies and fliers and hard-shelled thingies that explode into spattery guts when you squash them are leaving marks all over my stuff. I can't go anyplace without there being a bug that has gone there before me. They're staking out their territory; their multiple feet are in The Door. And you can't kill them! They're immune to everything but Brute Force. Heaven help us if they ever, ever join forces with the snakes.

What I really want to test is a good bug spray. One that works on snakes and gun nuts, too. Sign me up.


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