Just Because I’m Paranoid

. . . doesn’t mean they’re not after me.  I’m not making up this stuff.  Let me offer this series of unfortunate events that I believe would make Lemony Snicket shudder.

Sometime in December, my brother e-mailed a photo of a baby squirrel, a critter so tiny it looked lost in the palm that held it.  He said he’d rescued it.

I have no idea where the rescue took place–perhaps in the cat’s mouth, maybe beneath a tree.  Don’t know its sex or why my brother named it CAKE.  I am not a very inquisitive squirrel aunt.  He sent pictures of Cousin Cake to his nieces and nephews.

One reason I did not show much interest was sciurophobia–fear that I’d receive a squirrel as a Christmas gift or perhaps as a January Birthday Cake.  It seemed wise to maintain a low profile.

A later set of photos reassured me.  I could start answering the doorbell again.  Little Cake was obviously in the care of professionals.

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Maybe I’ll knit it a little vest for Valentine’s Day.

Perhaps I sound overly dramatic about squirrels.  But before you judge, there’s more.  No kidding.  Cake was just the icing on the. . . you-know-what.

Dearly Beloved and I spent our first Christmas away from home this year.  We didn’t even decorate beyond slapping a wreath on the door.  No tree, no holly decked halls, no Carolers on the mantel.  (I’ve mentioned before about those sweet dolls with craters where their little noses used to be–all thanks to an attic invasion of  nose-fetishist squirrels one year.)  

Instead, we drove to Virginia Beach and spent a most delightful holiday with our son and daughter-in-law.   Even Scout the Wonder Dog was welcomed.

We’re not one of those families that sits around watching sappy Christmas movies.  That’s DB’s doings because I like sappy Christmas movies.  His choice is always  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  The guys in the family always vote with him and the girls don’t care as long because it offers a respite from TV sports.  Over the years, the guys have brought along their moose mugs, their Cousin Eddie quotes, and various CV junk. including one wearing a green dickey.  Oh wait, that may  have been DB.FullSizeRender

This year, things got even more authentic.   The night before we left for Virginia, our toilets made a gurgling noise that strikes terror around here.  Sewer line backup.  Or, Yep, we , as Cousin Eddie explains it,  “Sh*tter’s full.”   Ours was, we learned $300-$400 later, was caused by roots of the large oak tree across the street growing into the sewer line.

Christmas morning in Virginia Beach, I was the last one up. I schlepped blindly into the kitchen for a wakeup cup of coffee.  When I was able to open my eyes enough to see daylight, here’s what was in front of me:

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A freakin’ nightmare, right?  Two more cups of coffee and it was still there.  It sat beside me on the sofa and stared at me while we opened gifts.  Even fake squirrels can give the evil eye.

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Ee returned from Virginia to find the damnsquirrels were partying in our backyard.  One was sitting ON the squirrel baffle, raking seeds out of the bird feeder with greedy little paws, like it had hit the jackpot on a One-Armed Bandit.FullSizeRender

Since the best place to buy Christmas tree ornaments here is at our favorite hardware store,  I headed for their after-Christmas sale the day after our return.  Some of the best ornaments had already sold out, but there were plenty of these:

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That’s it in a nutshell.  Christmas Past, Christmas Present, Christmas Future.

The strange little glass-domed ornament?  Yeah,  I bought one.  Maybe  I’ll pass it along to BroJoe next Christmas,  A remembrance of his little cupCake.

 

“SQUIRREL!” – Clark Griswald, Sr. – Christmas Vacation

“It is difficult, when faced with a situation you cannot control, to admit you can do nothing.”
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Baby!

The sunny South has been pretty darned cold these last several days, so Dearly Beloved decided it was time to fire up the pilot light for the gas logs in our den.  The logs were here long before we bought the house and frankly, they’re showing their age, but we do love having a fire in the evening.  Every year we talk about replacing them with a prettier, more efficient model.

DB also wants to have gas logs installed in the fireplace in our downstairs playroom.  Oh, and a large flat screen TV.   He wants to make the room his office.  I do catch a whiff of man cave to his plan.  Although the fireplace down there has never been used, it has a hook for hanging a pot in it.  When I first saw it, I pictured us down there snuggling on the sofa in front of the fire during power outages, homemade soup bubbling in the pot.

Two problems with that.  First, it’s much simpler to drive to a restaurant with power than it is to assemble ingredients by flashlight.  Secondly, we don’t have an iron pot.

But I digress.  Back to the old gas logs in the den. . . .

It’s always a chore to get the pilot light going.  No flipping a wall switch; it’s a messy,  inside-the-fireplace job.  This year, DB decided to work on the logs first to see if he could make them more efficient.  That entailed a few trips to the garage to assemble wrenches,  pliers, etc.

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I was sitting close by, watching all this.  Finally, he was ready to strike the match.  Just before doing so,  he pulled his head back out,  turned to me and asked,  “Do you want one last look at these eyebrows?”

Ho Ho Ho.

What? Me Worry?

Two of our children had birthdays last week.  Children doesn’t feel like the appropriate word for responsible, mature individuals out living productive lives way out from under any parental wings.  (Heck, they don’t even live in the same state.)

Offspring sounds a bit clinical.  Kids?   I still have my stretch mark souvenirs, so I’ll stick with children.  Big ones.

The thing is, they’re all grown up.  No more concerns that they’ll be jumping off the roof, riding a skateboard pulled by a Doberman, or getting a hand stuck in a gum ball machine any longer.  Nope, they’re out in the world making solid, intelligent decisions every day.

No need to worry about our kids once they’re grown. . .  right?

My daughter-in-law recently sent back these pictures from Bermuda, where she and our son spent a few days.

That guy contemplating the bad decision looks suspiciously familiar.

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Image 3Gulp.

ARRRRRGGGGHHH!

“Don’t worry about a thing. . . ’cause every little thing gonna be alright.”

– Bob Marley

“There’s no point in being a grownup if you can’t be childish sometimes.” 

– Dr. Who

 

 

The Arthur Report

Whenever hurricanes head for the Outer Banks, I check with my brother to see if he is evacuating or staying there.  It’s an unnecessary step.  He’s always staying put, but I ask anyway.

Friends in other parts of the country see the weather reports and ask about him.  Maybe they’re wondering if BroJoe is one of the nuts waving wildly behind Jim Cantore on The Weather Channel.

I know he’s sensible–to a degree–but he loves aggravating me with false information.

For instance, yesterday he e-mailed that he was shelling on Hatteras Island. Truthfully, I wouldn’t put that past him, but the Weather Channel had mentioned an evacuation order in effect for Hatteras, so he had to be pulling my leg.

Later, he sent me a photo of the supplies he’d laid in:  two bottles of wine.  Red and white, of course.

This morning, the headline in our newspaper said: Arthur makes landfall in N.C.  I e-mailed to ask were those wine bottles floating now.  He sent back two photos and short notes in response.

THE LIVESTOCK REPORT

“Terrified. . . in the eye of the storm.”

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THE CROP REPORT

 “Damage.”

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Check.

Here in Charlotte, the weather is lovely after the much-needed rain yesterday.  Dearly Beloved and I fly our flag proudly, gratefully, on this Independence Day, 2014.
One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, One Nation evermore!

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day 2014

After my mother died, my brother and I found several photos of her which had been taken by newspaper photographers.   The pictures had never been framed, simply tucked away in a drawer along with some of her unfulfilled dreams.

When World War II broke out, she went to NC State to learn welding so that she could help in the war effort–a Rosie the Riveter.  She headed for Baltimore to work in the shipyards there.  Instead, she ended up teaching welding there.

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This photo was taken at a parade during one of our town’s big celebrations.  Centennial, perhaps?  She’s the tall one in the capelet dress.  To this day, that’s my favorite plaid.  I used to peek at the dress which had been relegated to the bottom of her cedar chest.  I’m sure she never wore it again.

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My neighbor grows the loveliest roses in town.  She gave my Dearly Beloved these to give to me for Mother’s Day.  She’d cut them just before the rains came.  They smell divine!

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Happy Mother’s Day to my daughters, moms of our five wonderful grandsons.

Happy Mother’s Day to EVERYONE, mothers of the heart.  You, too, Mother Earth!

 And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see–or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read . – Alice Walker

High Hopes

Yes, I know I whine about squirrels a good bit, like I think people in other areas don’t have similar problems.  Oh no, those folks have my sympathy, especially Natalie, my Canadian blogger friend who says they’re in the walls of her house.  Gulp.  Even Britain has squirrel problems.  Our squirrels somehow showed up over there and liked it, so now they’re considered a serious nuisance.  I wonder if some devious American took a couple over in retaliation for the starlings which are nuisances over here.

Hmmm.  Or maybe the starlings were retaliation for the squirrels.  Truce!

Having said all that, I’d like to point out that the scientific name for them is Sciurus Carolinensis.   Must translate to “scourge of Carolina.”

Remember the latest damnsquirrel episode that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago?  The one where a cheeky little tree rat climbed up onto the table on our second story deck and yanked out the boxwood twig I was attempting to root?   I figured that the “something” I saw him surreptitiously stick in the small planter was an acorn.  Was he hiding it for food or planting a mighty oak where he thought none of the other squirrels would venture.

Hard to tell what a sneaky squirrel is thinking.

Today I noticed something growing in the planter.  It sure as heck wasn’t my boxwood twig.  It wasn’t an oak seedling either. Mr. Squirrel wanted bigger nuts.

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The pecan he’d stuck in there had bigger plans, too, which didn’t include being lunch for a squirrel.  In just a couple of weeks, it had already rooted into a seedling of six inches or so.  There are no pecan trees on our street, so Mr. S. had to go some distance to procure the nut, probably traveling via our squirrel-chewed cable line.

I brought it in to show to Dearly Beloved.

“Are you going to plant it?  he asked.

I don’t know.

“You almost have to, don’t you?”  

I reckon.

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I’m wondering if I’ve fallen into the squirrel’s trap because it wanted a pecan tree.  All the pictures of nut-eating squirrels show them munching on acorns.  Maybe this one wanted something bigger and better.

I’ve read that without predators, the little turds can live 20 years or so.  Heck, he might even get some pecans from it.  Hmmm.  Now that I think of it, I might not.

It’s now planted in a deeper pot so the root can uncurl.  Although I have no idea where I’d plant it, I’m going to see how it grows.   As DB says, they’re messy trees, but they’re beautiful.  Nothing is better than the shade of a Southern pecan tree.

Provided there’s not some jackass squirrel up there, dropping nuts on your head.

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If I’m pushed, I’d also have to admit I don’t like people with allergies. They just annoy me. There seems to be something far too self-centred about it. ‘No thanks, I’m allergic.’ Why not just say ‘No thanks’? I wasn’t asking for your medical history, I was just passing around the nuts. Trying to be friendly, that’s all.
Jack Dee

 

Boxing Lessons

Fed-Ex and UPS trucks stop in front of our house quite often, but they’re usually making  deliveries to the condos across the street.  When a driver headed toward our door with a very large box recently, I threw open the front door in anticipation of a big surprise.  The guy ignored my greeting and shoved the box in on its side. The address label side was against the wall and when I bent over to turn it to see who it was from, the guy mumbled “thebottomcameopensignhere”  and stuck the electronic scanner in my face  for my signature before I had a chance to look.  He hurried back to his truck.

The bottom was indeed completely open–he’d been holding it closed with his hands, so I reached in and pulled out the contents:  a lovely, HUGE basket containing several bottles of wine, nuts, crackers, dips, spreads, and chocolates, the whole wonderful assortment wrapped in that crinkly cellophane that is used only for good things.  Jackpot!

There was no card.  I turned the box over and yanked off the label envelope.  Sure enough, there was a printed note from someone, saying Thank You and how much they’d enjoyed their stay at our mountain home.  Uh oh.  I yanked back my hand which had been ready to dive for one of the chocolates.  A  couple of issues popped into my head:  (1) I didn’t recognize the names on the card and (2) we don’t have a mountain house.

Dang!  Don’t you hate it when that happens?

I looked at the address label.  Not our name, not our house number.  The driver had transposed the numbers, like reading 4139  as 4319.  Since he was long gone,  I decided that rather than trying to contact the company at 5 PM, I’d simply take the basket up the street to the correct address.  I shoved it back into the box and when I picked it up, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to walk up there carrying the box.  Dearly Beloved took it out to the car for me.  I drove up to the correct address. . . where no one was home.

I walked around the house and found a covered porch at their back door, so I left the package there.  Immediately, I started to worry:  What if they’re out of town for two weeks? I went to the house next door and the lovely old gentleman who answered assured me that the people were not out of town.  He gave me paper and pen so that I could leave a long, convoluted note (the only kind I know how to write) about why the box was opened and how I came to have it.

A couple of hours later the rightful recipient called to thank me for my delivery.  I told him that I thought the devil had made the carrier do it because it contained such a tempting basket of goodies.

I was in the bathtub when the doorbell rang a couple of hours later and I couldn’t get decent in time to answer it. When I looked out front a few minutes later, I found a pretty gift box by our front door.  I opened it and recognized the chocolates that I’d seen a few hours earlier in the large gift basket.  Ahhhh!

Yes, honesty is its own reward, but chocolate sweetens it considerably.  I called him to say thanks.

A few days later, as Dearly Beloved and I were heading out for a hamburger, I noticed two large boxes of gift-basket size on our next door neighbors’ front porch.  “STOP,”  I yelled.  “They’re out of town. We need to do something with those packages!”Image 5

DB backed up and pulled into their driveway. He went up to get the boxes and put them in the trunk of our car, but he examined them and came back empty-handed.

“They were delivered to the wrong house.  They belong to Larry up the street.”

Once again, the carrier had transposed the numbers.

DB contacted Larry and told him the whereabouts of the boxes.  Larry was thrilled because the boxes contained speakers that he’d been watching for all week.  He rushed up to get them.

Every time I see one of the trucks on our street, I have to resist the urge to run over and make sure the package has reached its proper destination.

What do you think?  Coincidence?  Dyslexic driver?  Or are our suspicions correct that yes, we really do live in The Twilight Zone?