The Damnsquirrel Chronicles: The Invasion Continues

Sometimes I feel a little guilty about the mean things I say about squirrels.  Friends send me pictures of them in oh-so-cute situations.   Am I charmed by such?   Not a chance.  Image 1I’ve also received books on how to get rid of them,  articles on critter control, and videos of contraptions to stump or terrorize them.   One video showed a pricey bird feeder which begins to spin if a squirrel climbs on.  If I had one, the tree rat would spin off and land on my back, or I’d get plastered with squirrel vomit.

These things happen; don’t fool yourself.  Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean the little bastards aren’t out to get me.

Look in the neighboring yards and you’ll realize that all the squirrel action is in ours.  They’re running through my azalea beds, digging up the lawn, or chasing each other up the oak tree for gawd knows what deviate purpose.  The goodies we put out to attract birds have transformed our yard into a 5-star rodent restaurant.  It isn’t unusual to see more squirrels than birds hanging around.  Not the plan when we put out all those feeders!


I’ve pulled up all my strawberry plants and have no plans to set out tomatoes this year.  I’ve given up on planting colorful pots of annuals because the squirrels climb onto the pots and yank the plants out like they heard a rumor I hid a sack of peanuts in the bottom.

I’ve resorted to putting anything that might be of interest to them on a table on our second story deck.  My pitiful collection currently consists of a lone tomato plant in a clay pot and a single twig of boxwood that I’m rooting.  Bless pat, I looked out yesterday and damned if one of those varmints wasn’t sitting on the table with the boxwood twig in his paws.  Why, why, why?  Was he using it as a toothpick?  The holes in my tomato plant soil must be precursors of a coming oak tree crop which will root-wrestle my tomato plant into oblivion.

And get this: I came home to find a cable repairman at the back of our lot recently.  When I asked, “Are you improving our service?”  he shook his head.

“I can’t fix this.  They’ll have to send a crew out to put up at least ten feet of new wire.  The squirrels have chewed this one worse than any I’ve ever seen and I’ve been doing it for ten years.

Nothing is sacred around here.  Not on the ground, not in the air.

It isn’t that I hate the damnsquirrels, but I do feel myself sliding in that direction.

Have you watched this amazing video?  

Just so you know, I still rooted for the squirrel.

* * * * * * * * *

“Aunt Prune was holding one of the squirrels in her hand. ‘And once a day, we have ta clean their little private parts with a Q-tip, so they’ll learn ta clean themselves.’
That was a visual I didn’t need”
― Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures





Already my new gardener (aka My Dearly Beloved)  has the lawn looking lush and lovely, even though he only began his job a couple of months ago.  Every day he is out here, looking for a reason to crank up one of his new power tools.

Our neighbors are placing bets as to what he’ll find to cut down next.  Here’s what came down last week:


That was a holly tree, cut down with my blessings.  The power company butchered it at 3 AM one winter morning after a windstorm blew knocked out power here.

He mimics me in exaggerated gestures for the neighbors: left hand on hip, right arm raised and index finger firing around the yard with laser-like precision (think NCIS opening scene) to show how I’m always pointing out things that need to be done.  As there is some truth to his routine, I’d even considered leaving DB and his chain saw unsupervised–until he removed enough of the softly drooping branches of our specimen Japanese Maple to change it into a palm tree.

Except for that mishap, he has every right to be proud of his efforts.

When DB answered the doorbell one early evening recently, the stranger standing there identified himself as the builder of the condo project on the other side of the block.  In front of our house, an anxious looking man in a bright green shirt waited anxiously by a huge truck which was almost as long as our lot is wide.  The truck held a supply of building materials and would require backing into the small residential driveway of the property for delivery.   The driver was afraid there might be some damage to our yard in making that sharp turn and the builder wanted to assure us that he had his landscaper on call to come and repair it.

Our street is narrow and definitely not suited for commercial traffic, specially not anything this large.  See the driveway between the two end flags?  That’s where the truck is heading.

Pardon the glare--I took it from inside the house.
Pardon the glare–I took it from inside the house.

DB went outside and introduced himself to the driver, who shook his hand and said he was Jurr.

“What?”  DB asked. The guy repeated it several times.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Finally DB got it.  “Oh. . . JERRY!”  

They had a good laugh and chatted awhile.  DB said, “The lawn can be repaired.  Just  curve w-a-y into the yard so you won’t hit my stone wall.”  

He pointed out the sprinkler heads, then stood and watched as Jerry backed the huge trailer into the small space.  The truck did indeed jump the curb onto our lawn, but Jurr was able to miss the stone wall by a foot or two.  DB came into the house to tell me, “That guy is a heck of a driver.  That was the best maneuvering I’ve ever seen.”  

The lawn did have some deep trenches, but nothing that couldn’t be repaired.    DB said he’d fix the damage himself.

He was surprised when the phone rang early the next morning and the caller said he was the manager of the trucking company which had delivered the building materials the evening before.  DB quickly jumped in, saying, “I’m so glad you called because I want to tell you that Jurr is the best driver I’ve ever seen.  You’re lucky to have him.”

The man agreed, adding that Jerry indeed was their best driver and he got the toughest assignments, so consequently he got the most abuse.  A couple of days before he had knocked down two fence posts on someone’s property on one of those turns.  Even though they put them back up immediately,  the owner berated Jerry at length, then called the company to rage at several of the staff there.

The man continued, “When Jerry came in this morning, he was beaming.  He told me, I ran into the nicest guy in the world yesterday.  You’ve got to call and thank him.  He made my day.’

“That’s why I’m calling, Mr. Lee.  To thank you and to let you know that you not only made Jerry’s day, you’ve now made my day, too.”

The funny thing is, that call made Dearly Beloved’s day and since I was hearing the conversation, it made my day, too.

Later, the builder came over to give DB a gift card to Home Depot.

I’ve thought about that incident often.  DB didn’t invite the guy in for supper or rush out with cookies.  He simply allowed the man to do the job he had to do without giving him grief about it.   I’m glad I witnessed the event.

The fence post owner may have gotten some satisfaction in throwing a tirade, but I’ll take my husband’s handling of the situation any day.  His behavior subsequently caused ripples of kindness.  One day our grandsons may read this to learn how their granddad behaved.

I don’t think they’ll be surprised.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns.  ~Author Unknown

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
– Scott Adams

PS.  The gift certificate was nice, but I don’t think it’s ample enough to buy the next piece of power equipment DB is going to need.  Just how much IS a stump grinder?

Monday Moaning Headache

What is wrong with this picture?

The label on the bottle on the left specifies that is an aspirin for women. To be specific, a regimen, 81mg coated caplet aspirin.  The bottle on the right is a regimen, 325mg coated caplet aspirin.

Here’s the thing. . . .

The one on the top–the yellow, smaller one–is the 325mg.  The one on the bottom, at twice the size, is the 81mg. caplet formulated for women.


Hey, Bayer…!   Women don’t believe that bigger is always better.

That’s a little hard to swallow.

Repeating the Sounding Joy

Since the creeping, croupy crud still has me in its grip, Dearly Beloved volunteered to go shopping for me Monday.  Let me hastily clarify that by “going shopping” I mean driving to a toy store– not a chain giant, but a local store in a nearby shopping strip– to pick up an item I’d ordered.  They’d called to say that their shipment had arrived.

DB is not a stupid man and it’s a good thing that I remain firmly convinced of that because when he goes shopping, he does everything he can to disabuse me of my convictions in that regard.  He leaves his brain at home and takes his cellphone instead.

I had explained to him that the toy is a Nanoblock set–micro sized pieces which, when assembled, make a 3-D building that will fit in the palm of one’s hand.  I read about them and thought they might be nice for the grandson who loves assembling Legos–one time per set only–then wants to enshrine the completed masterpiece.  These will take up only a little shelf space so maybe he can do that, if his younger brothers don’t have other ideas.

When I put my name on the waiting list, the toy store didn’t have any samples for me to see, so I didn’t request a particular model.  I tell DB that he has authority to choose and while he’s there, maybe he’ll see anything else the grandsons might enjoy.  He heads to the store.

Ten minutes later, the phone rings.

“Guess who.”

I was expecting this call, not because he should need help, but because that’s the way he operates; under the influence of the planet Mars.

“Do you want the ones in the pouch or the box?”

Since I’ve never seen either and he is looking at both, why am I the expert here?  He knows the grandson’s taste and abilities.  Ovaries are not crystal balls.

I ask him which one has a set that Grandson would have the most fun assembling.

He is less than enthusiastic in his response, probably turned off by the tiny pieces.  In DB’s world, anything smaller than a golf ball is a waste of raw material.

“Which building do you want me to get?”

Didn’t we discuss this before he left?  My toenails are starting to loosen from their nail beds.   Déjà vu–all over again.  We talk.  I can hear the clerk chiming in occasionally.    Perhaps her toenails are beginning to curl, too.  Eventually he tells me that okay, he’s got it straight and ends the call.

Ten minutes later, the phone rings.

He wants to give me a play-by-play, even though I was there via phone for most of his visit.  He didn’t see anything else that really “got” him and besides, it was a madhouse in there.  All these women with babies in strollers and grandparents who have no idea what they’re doing.  He says that one old fart was walking around with his hands in his pockets, two rows behind his wife, and she’s talking to him the whole time, knowing he’s not hearing a word she’s saying.

I feel an immediate kinship with this unknown woman.

“I was the only one in the whole place who knew what he was doing.”

He offers to tackle the Chick-fila drive-thru if I’d like something.  I would.  I want a chicken sandwich, but will he get me a small vanilla milkshake with no toppings so that I can have it later.  It will feel good on my throat.  We disconnect.

A few minutes later, the phone rings.

“All right, I’m in line.  What do you want?  The usual?”

Yes, but…  I repeat–once more– that I would like a small vanilla shake with no toppings.  No whipped cream, no cherry.  Small. Vanilla. Milkshake. He tells me he’s at the speaker now, so we hang up.

A few minutes later, the phone rings.

“Okay, I’m on my way home.  I got you a peppermint milkshake. I thought it would feel better on your throat.”

Just Call Me Patsy Cline

… ’cause I’m about to fall to pieces.

4 AM – Miss Piggy wakes me, wanting to go outside.

4:10 AM – I shiver outside on the deck, calling her as loudly as I dare without waking the neighbors. She either doesn’t hear or doesn’t care.  Perhaps both.

4:15 AM – I go inside and back to sleep anyhow.

4:40 AM – Miss Piggy barks at the back door until I let her inside.  I go back to sleep.  Again.

6:00 AM – Miss Piggy wakes me. Again.  Let her out the front door this time, standing in my bare feet on the front porch until she comes back.

6:10 AM – Coffee to warm me.

6:20 AM – More coffee to wake me.

6:30 AM – More coffee.  Still not awake, still not warm.

7:00 AM – Still drinking coffee, trying to get it to toes.

9:00 AM – Decide to wash my hair to eliminate embarrassing case of Bed Head.  Plan to lean over tub and use handy-dandy spray hose so that I can remain in warm jammies.

9:05 AM – Turn sprayer on hair.  Loud crash makes me drop sprayer, wetting the wallpaper as well as my warm jammies.  Nine-inch pottery orchid pot has fallen off the ledge and into the tub, spewing its contents–orchid, crushed bark, soil, clear marbles, and broken pottery shards all over tub bottom.

9:07 AM – Dearly Beloved comes into bathroom to see cause of noise.  He looks at wife with dripping hair, tub with sodden mess, and backs out of room.

Upon request, he brings me a garbage bag and says he will leave me alone, explaining that he knows I am embarrassed.

Embarrassed?  Definitely not the word I would have selected.

9:15 AM – Cleaning swampy-looking mess out of tub when I notice that pot took out chunk of tub on its way down.  Embarrassed yet?   Again, not the right word.

9:20 AM – I root through the collected mess and find what I hope is missing tub chunk.

9:30 AM – I decide to blog while hair is drying, writing post about airline pilot who went to the loo mid-flight to relieve himself, then couldn’t get the bathroom door open to return to cockpit and land plane.

Did HE felt embarrassed?  Probably not his choice either.

10:30 AM – Dearly Beloved reads post and groans, “Not another poop post!  That’s all you’ve been writing lately!”

He has a point.  I toss my tale into the can.*

Okay, maybe now I am embarrassed.

I blow dry my hair.  Much better.  No bed head embarrassment.

To err is human; clean hair is divine.

(*Token potty pun to prevent addiction withdrawal.)

Good hair day.

Monday Moaning, Columbus

Monday morning-type issues abound.

  • My e-mail will receive messages but not send them, so subsequently I receive followup e-mails wondering why I haven’t responded to earlier ones.
  • My brother’s photo blog wouldn’t upload photos in “this format.”   A photo blog without photos makes for a puny post.  As far as the two of us know, it’s the same format.  Sometimes when one is flying by the seat of one’s pants, there is a rip.
  • It is raining.  Why Miss Piggy emits a swampy smell when she isn’t wet is one of life’s little mysteries.  Granddog Stella is napping quietly on Miss Piggy’s bed.  Miss P, on the other hand, is lying across Stella’s bed, gnawing on one of Stella’s bones.  It’s too large for Miss Piggy  to even pick up with her old-lady teeth.  The sawing noise she is making seems the perfect topper to my two hours on the phone with three different computer support techs and now grinds into my cauliflower-ear.
  • In order to get rid of the ODD (Odoriferous Drizzled Dog) smell, I switched on the fan of our air conditioning system.  No fan noise.  Not a good sign, I fear.
  • I would ask Dearly Beloved about the fan problem and Good Egg Son about the computer problems but they are both out on the golf course.  In the rain.  Should one trust answers from men who don’t know enough to come in out of the rain?

Having bellied up to the Apple Genius Bar twice last week, I tried Online Support this morning.  The first tech had me uninstall and reinstall my e-mail program.  Doing as instructed, I reinstalled 10,751 e-mails–a neat trick since I don’t have 10,751 e-mails.  Who knows… I may have imported yours, too.  I couldn’t tell that anything changed in my Inbox.  I watched as I worked my way through three cups of coffee, and a cherry turnover.   

(The tech, I learned during the wait, loves muffins, lives in Lexington, KY, had car trouble on a trip with three buddies in a remote section of Ohio, and his iPhone is broken.  I’m pretty sure he’s going to feel obligated to invite me to the wedding whenever he gets married, we became so tight waiting for 10,000+ e-mails to roll in.)

Since I can still receive mail, I opened this one from a friend who sent it to me and to  his two-year-old grandson.  It made me feel better.  I hope it did the same for the little chap.

Fly By the Seat of Your Pants… Please!

One morning a couple of weeks ago, before we left on a trip, Dearly Beloved went out to do a quick fix on a broken sprinkler head we’d noticed.  One repair unearthed another problem and he spent the day crawling behind the shrubbery, digging beneath the pine needles.  In the process he repaired about 30 feet of squirrel-chewed lines, broken couplings, and missing sprinkler heads, all of which necessitated several trips to the hardware store.  (His theory that one can learn to fix things by simply staring at them long enough seems to hold water.)

When DB came back inside 8 1/2 hours later, it was obvious that we weren’t going anywhere.  His clothes were filthy and he was dripping wet.  Since he didn’t want to walk through the house leaving a trail, he entered through the laundry room and stripped there.  He walked nonchalantly through the sunroom and what passed before me was a buck-nekkid man whose deeply tanned legs and arms emphasized the Casper-like whiteness of his backside. He was wearing nothing but a pair of navy felt bedroom slippers he’d found in the laundry room, along with a pink baseball camp I’d left on the dryer.

Ah, love…!

Obviously, he was heading back to our bathroom to shower.   BUT… after seeing this photo a couple of days ago, I realize that had DB reached in the laundry basket and grabbed some of my undies, he could have been dressed to travel without me, provided he flew on US Airways.

In June, a college football player who wore his pants down to his nethers was removed from a plane after the pilot made a citizen’s arrest.  And don’t forget “Tammy in the Wheelchair,”  the 52-year-old woman  who arrived at the security checkpoint wearing black undies and a white poodle.  Also,   Southwest Airlines removed a skimpily clad passenger until she made adjustments to cover more skin a few years ago.

What are these people thinking?

All of this has become a discussion over race and gender, since the 62-year-old white male cross dresser was the only one who breezed on without any official challenge.  The football player was black, the women were white… and blonde.

Yeah, I see a double standard. There isn’t even a masculine form of “slut”.

But back to the official dress code policy, which the airline says it doesn’t have.

Allow me…

Dear Passenger:

When you board a plane, you may have concerns about air quality, screaming babies, deranged passengers, malcontent airline attendants, testy pilots, terrorists.  Add shared surfaces to that….

According to this article in the NY Times,  a 2007 testing by a University of Arizona environmental biologist, found four out of five tray tables bore the Staphylococcus superbug, MRSA.  Most of the bathrooms had E. coli bacteria.  Cold and flu viruses survive up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces.  The icky noroviruses which cause serious gastroenteritis can live on surfaces for a month.  We don’t need BBC (bare butt contamination) to add to the list.   

Take a look at that upholstered seat on which you’re about to park yourself.  Those skid mark stains could be feces, urine, food, or some other stain we don’t even want to imagine.  It’s enough to creep one out, even wearing a hazmat suit.

To be brief–not that we want you to be–here is the dress code policy:


 (If you do not know what that means, ask your congressman.)

One entrepreneur has even launched a counterattack with these., but with the extra charges in place for carry-ons, this seems an expensive and inconvenient option, even though it sure looks reassuring.

Perhaps airlines could issue coveralls for passengers who didn’t cover enough to lessen the ick factor.

DB and I prefer to drive on our trips… fully clothed and dignity intact. To paraphrase Star Trek, there is a certain comfort to sitting where no butt has gone before.

Besides, we get the whole can of Diet Coke.

What We Have Is a Failure to Communicate

Once, when our daughter was babysitting two neighborhood children,  the rambunctious two-year-old boy head-butted Daughter with enough force to break her nose.  It was an accident, pure and simple.  Nevertheless, it irked me when the mother came over the next day with a balloon for Daughter and told her, rather stiffly, “We’re sorry you broke your nose.”

As she and her husband were both attorneys, the real message was probably, “Don’t think we’re paying for this.”

Are sincere apologies are a dying art?  No more  “I’m sorry I stole your money,” but rather, “I’m sorry if anyone was hurt by my stealing pension funds and spending them on call girls.

And OMG, the worst of all: “Mistakes were made”… as if  mistakes form in corners like dust bunnies.

Even Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS exhorts his team to “Never apologize.  It’s a sign of weakness.” Oh, Jethro, that is such horse hockey!

As I’ve ranted on other occasions, waaaay up on my List of Loathesomes are automated answering systems and outsourced technical support staffs.  Mistakes were, indeed, made.  Don’t the terms “Customer Service” and “Technical Support” imply some kind of… oh, I don’t know… A S S I S T A N C E????

Apologies for ranting, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why a company would think five automated options cover everything with which its customers may need assistance and let’s face it, that’s why we’re calling, Buster.  The system asks for information which I’ll have to repeat if I’m successful in my keyboard Whack-a-mole attempts.  I’m usually already aggravated by the time I reach said human and then, as is often the case, when that person can’t understand my Southern drawl, the situation goes downhill from there.

That is, in a nutshell, how we came to switch from our cable internet provider, which generally gave us good service, to our current DSL provider, which does not.  We had called our cable company to upgrade our equipment, but their Technical Support person insisted it couldn’t be done. Boo, hiss!  We knew it could–they weren’t understanding the question.  While I admit that my use of technical terms like “thingie” or “doohickey” may have caused confusion, eventually we gave up and switched to their competitor who understood our request. However, even though we supposedly have the upgraded modem,  our new service went from okay to yucky.

This is one of  the several different messages I receive dozens of times a day.  Everything takes longer when the link “is currently not available.” Why?  There is an implication that “it’s not our fault.”We don’t have to say we’re sorry…

Now to be fair, I should say that we have the same DSL carrier at the beach and the connection there is fine, so why do they think it is my computer’s fault that I don’t get similar service here?

I did get one error message while we were at the beach.  It came from WordPress, which publishes my blog.  They were experiencing a service problem.   While it may not be an apology, their error message made me smile.  No apologies needed for this one.

The Sheet Hits the Fan

Perhaps it’s because I had a birthday this month, another step toward Old Fartesshood,  (you’ll figure it out; I have confidence)  that I have a few things I want to get off my chest.

Before you ask… no, I am not going to buy an underwire bra.

Sometimes, it’s the little things….

The Scarfette mystery remains unsolved.  Although you were kind enough to check some of the 28,000 scarfette Google links, any use for the ones I have still eludes me.  Without ripping out a seam or sewing them together, there is no way they’ll fit on a head.

Hello, Smithsonian…?

At least I think I could find their phone number!  Our phone company gives us two phone books–The Real Yellow Pages and the real teeny-weeny yellow pages, the latter having no reasonable purpose at all–they can’t even raise grandkids to the proper sitting height at the table.

We no longer receive White Pages with personal names and addresses–just a note that if we want white pages, we must order them.

Why  would they think we wouldn’t want white pages?  Finding personal phone numbers and addresses online is frustrating.,  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.   What do you use?

Besides the real and the teeny-weeny,  we receive a third commercial directory called Yellow Book.  How unoriginal!  What’s needed is an Easier Place to Find People and Businesses book.  And it shouldn’t be yellow.

Now,  onto itchy bitchy printed matters concerning fabrics….

OSHA needs to beef up its regulations and require that clothing tags be made of something besides steel wool.  Those thick, scratchy labels either stick out of my top or curl up on the nape of my neck, looking like a mouse hiding beneath my blouse.

That itches, Ralph.

Also, is it too much to ask that sheet manufacturers print the size of sheets somewhere on the darned things?  I’m certain we’re not the only ones with different-sized beds in our home,  yet none of the sheets have sizes printed on the labels.  I either have to remember what is what (not going to happen) or unfold them.  Am I missing something, or are the sheet manufacturers?

Finally, speaking of the printed word… if Dearly Beloved positions his bifocals like this for reading, isn’t it time for new glasses?

Four eyes.

There Oughta Be a Policy Against ’em

Does it seem like a good idea to you, even on New Year’s Eve with a lampshade on your head, to choose an insurance company from the dumbass commercials they run on TV?

Who got paid the big bucks for coming up with the idea of ducks and geckoes shilling for companies?  Think about it.  In the Geico commercials, the gecko is smarter than the CEO.  I believe it.   And then there was the caveman…. Duh.

(cue the Twilight Zone music)

Their series with the guy asking the questions… like was Abe Lincoln honest… was clever, I thought, until they jumped back on the animal train and added that annoying pig squealing all the way home.  Once was plenty.

If the alliteration of gecko /Geico appealed to the advertising geniuses, they should have approached Ben Affleck for AFLAC instead of the duck. Then we’d see The Town and get a subliminal message to change our insurance coverage or face very serious consequences.

State Farm has the policyholders snapping for their agent genie to be there and grant their wishes. If they were smart, they’d be asking not to have their policies cancelled after those dumb accidents they had.

The blindingly white setting where customers browse the shelves for Progressive insurance while the dog runs the numbers?   Don’t go there–it makes your teeth look yellow.

If you watch The Closer, you know that J. K. Simmons’s  character on the show didn’t get the Police Commissioner position he sought.   He must have been sending out resumes while Brenda Leigh Johnson was out solving crimes because now he’s appearing in Farmers Insurance commercials.  Odd, though… if any company was going to use animals in its advertising, you’d think it might be the Farmers.   Bumpah dumdum, dum pahdump.

But the commercials that turn ME into an animal are those obnoxious ones run  by Nationpam.  (Hey, I’m not the one who changed the name.)   Earlier ads had the company executives searching the globe for the ultimate salesman and finding him–quite appropriately, I might add– in a Deliverance-type setting.   He’s so goofy acting I’d be hesitant to let him under my house to spray for bugs, much less to help decide what coverages I need.

I’m just getting started.  After all these sick days in front of the boob tube, I also have health insurance commercials taking up brain space and I’m ready to rant.   Another time, perhaps.

Which ones drive you nuts?

Here’s a scary thought:  Wonder if they’re working on Superbowl ads?