The Damnsquirrels’ Revenge

When my brother told me to be expecting a package on the Friday before Thanksgiving, I was curious, yet a bit apprehensive.

Years ago, he wrote, “I am going to send you a deer tenderloin.”  I panicked for days, worrying that I hadn’t sent my “NO THANKS!”  fast enough to prevent a chunk of Bambi from being delivered to my front door.  (Yes, deer diners, I’m sure it’s tasty.) 

He gives lovely gifts when he wants to, so this time could either be a wonderful surprise. . . or it could be another banana keychain.   He had e-mailed my Youngest Daughter that  I needed to broaden my sense of humor and he was going to help me.

Reason enough to worry.

A large box arrived on Friday, just as he’d said.  I opened it hesitantly, lest some animal be among the contents.

Indeed, that is exactly what it was,  just not in a form I expected.

There was this:
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And these:

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Also, a squirrel on a gold chain.

It was a fascinating collection.  How long did it take my brother to assemble that squirrely gift?!?

I have placed the pillows on the swing on the screened porch.  They stare at me through the French doors when I sit in the sunroom.  I can’t help but stare back, wondering what  telepathic message they’re trying to send me.  Look at those eyes!

The enameled box sits on the end table here beside me.

Gawd help me, I even wore the necklace when my brother was here for Thanksgiving.

(Note to self:  Inform family that upon my demise, they are NOT to bury me wearing that necklace.) 

I want one of THEM to have it.

My sense of humor, I think, is broader already.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a Fine 4th to You, Too!

My Dearly Beloved and I are sticking close to home this holiday.  Camp Granddad was open for our Georgia grandchildren during much of June and we loved every second of it.  This week we’re running Camp Granddog, as their goldendoodle, Ivy, is here to romp with our girl, Scout.  Ivy is a squirrel chaser and I had high hopes that she would tutor Scout in the finer points of tree rat elimination.  Instead, Scout seems to be having some success in showing Ivy the joys of lying on the deck and watching the damnsquirrels climb the feeder poles.

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Happy Independence Day from Camper Ivy and all of us at Camp Granddog!

Temporary Insanity

Last week the weather forecasters in our neck of the woods predicted that we would be getting T-E-N inches of snow.  Ten inches of snow in this part of North Carolina has lower odds than a $10,000 scratch-off lottery ticket.

The city sent out a letter letting us know that they were slagging streets, salting sidewalks, putting transit personnel on 12-hour shifts, and advising us to prepare to hunker down.  Schools were closed before the first flake fell.

I went about my hunkering preparations by making sure there was plenty of wine, toilet paper, and bread.  Yup.  We were good to go stay.

Then I looked outside at our tacky assortment of suet holders and bird feeders.  Practically empty!!!  Worse, so was our supply cabinet.

There were no lines at the hardware store because everyone else was at the grocery store at the other end of the shopping center buying bread and milk.  I selected a variety of suet and two different kinds of bird seed, then walked around the display to see what else might be helpful.  On the bottom shelf was a large bag holding peanuts in the shell, dried corn kernels, and an assortment of other nuts and grains.  My mind waged an argument inside my head:  don’t do it!  vs. but it’s going to be 10 inches!   The but it’s going to be 10 inches! side sent out images of a backyard littered with furry frozen you-know-whats.  I shoved the bag into my cart.

God help me, I was buying squirrel food.

Next morning,  the ground was white all right, but it was less than half an inch and already beginning to melt.  I looked out at the feeding station and saw the birds waiting while a squirrel suctioned a bird feeder like his name was Dyson.  The clay saucer of squirrel food remained untouched.  I rushed outside, screaming and clapping my hands, and the offender jumped off and sauntered up the pine tree, but only a few feet, leaving no doubt that it was only a temporary detour.

Sure enough, I had barely sat down again when he swaggered down the tree, flexed his muscles under his fur jacket, popped his knuckles, then made a gymnastics leap (I’d give it a 9.4) onto the bird feeder.  He latched on immediately, like a suckling pig.

The sympathy truce is over.  There will be no refilling of the squirrel feeding station.  This is war.

I’d like to pass the rest of the food bag on to that squirrelly weather forecaster.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawkish About Squirrels

The big hawk has been hanging around our back yard lately, looking for a pickup game…

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… probably hoping to make a score:  LUNCH!

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What’s been most plentiful on the menu?  Well, the tree rats are usually hanging around.

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It isn’t that I’ve wished the damnsquirrels ill;  I’ve wished them GONE.  Dreamer that I am, my  preference would be for our wonder dog, Scout, to herd and load them into a Chip N Dale Van Lines truck headed for . . . oh, maybe the redwood forests of California.   We have a history and it isn’t good.  Ever since the little hoodlums broke into our attic and ate the noses off my Christmas Caroler figures, I’ve held a grudge.  It hasn’t helped that they’ve considered our strawberry patch and tomato plants their personal buffet, or that they insist on hiding their nuts in my potted plants.

HOWEVER, I’m knocking on wood as I say this, but we haven’t seen much of the little bastards lately. . . not jogging along the utility lines or sashaying along the brick fence.  There haven’t even been any noisy speed dating chases in the big oak tree.

They couldn’t possibly find a neighborhood with more nuts, so where are they?  Did someone put out a hawk alert?

Whatever the reason, I don’t miss them.  Absence is not making the heart grow fonder.

I point all this out because it’s time for me to be thinking about my Christmas List.  My family has a history of zinger gift giving.  After our oldest daughter made a fuss about a mouse in her kitchen one fall, she received no less than four mouse ornaments that Christmas.  Dearly Beloved received two battery-powered nose hair clippers the Christmas I commented on his walrus imitation.

Thanks to a timely e-mail alert by my Master Gardening friend Dirt Woman, I am hereby announcing that the only thing on my list so far is something I DON’T want, even though it’s featured on a popular site.

Please, Family, take notice:  Under no circumstances, would I ever wear this sweater.

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Sometimes I dream that a big, giant squirrel is carrying me away. Does that make me a nut?

“Ant 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

Crazy Love (Another Damnsquirrel Chronicle)

There is always squirrel action in our back yard; they’re climbing up the bird feeder pole or running down the big oak.  They race along the fence with stolen apples or tomatoes in their mouths.  They leap blithely from one tree to another–six feet, eight feet or more–death-defying jumps without net, helmet, or vine.  The little bastards run along the utility wires at the back of the lot with an ease that would make The Flying Wallendas feel AWK-ward.  It’s a freakin’ circus out there.

The obnoxious critters taunt the dog and eat the bird seed as well as anything I try to grow.  They make big ugly nests in the trees, biting off small branches to use as building materials.

I’ve read that they live about six years–less in urban settings–but I’d swear that these are of the Methuselah genus.  In fact, not ever having found a dead one out there in damnsquirrel paradise, I might even think them immortal, had my blogging buddy Texas Trailer Park Trash not posted a photograph of a squirrel skull as proof of demise.  Of course, that IS Texas.  Perhaps there was a duel.

In the interest of fairness, I’ve tried to think of something good to say about them.  I’ll leave a bit of space, in case something comes to mind.

Nope.  Nothing.

This morning as I was outside watering my potted plants, incessant squirrel chatter was drowning out the birdsong.   All of a sudden, right in front of me, two squirrels came flying out of the tree, landing on the concrete driveway with an audible THUNK.  It had to have been a 20 feet drop but after a stunned moment, they disentangled, jumped to their feet, and dashed back up the oak tree.

Well now. . . .

They went up so fast I couldn’t tell whether or not their fat cheeks were red with embarrassment.  (Reminds me of the time Dearly Beloved and I were staying at the Watergate Hotel in Washington and had to call the front desk after the bed broke in the middle of the night.  We’d been asleep, but who’d ever believe it?!)  

Had to be a morning tree rat tryst!  Perhaps that explains all the gibberish.  The small leafy branch that fell with them was loaded with acorns.

Breakfast in bed, I suppose.

High Fibe!

It’s been a rough summer in the old back yard.

With more days of 100+ temps than days of rain, only the hardiest plants even bothered to hang around for August.  The shaded areas fared better, except for the hostas.  The slugs around here have had hosta breath all season and it’s been Chipmunk Central underneath the large hosta leaves.  I hear the little rodents chattering constantly as they do gawd-knows-what under the that leafy canopy.. probably boozing it up with the beer I put under there to kill the slugs.

It was supposed to be the summer of heirloom tomatoes– Pink Brandywine and Mortgage Lifter.  But, when we stayed at the beach for several weeks and I wasn’t around to tend them, Mortgage Lifter grew into a tangle of spindly, suckery stalks and a tomato horned worm stripped the Brandywine so bare that the poor plant tried to hide behind the basil in embarrassment.  I let it watch the worm execution as therapy.

Still, we have a staggering tomato crop.  Oh, not actual tomatoes–not so much as one little green one–but we now have at least a dozen tomato plants in very strange places all over the yard.  Whenever I remove one of those suckers which bisect the right angle between stalk and leafy branch, I hang onto it, sniffing its distinctive, summery scent as I walk around the garden.  When I see something that needs my attention, rather than discard the sucker,  I poke a hole in the ground there and insert the leafy sucker.  I think they’ve all taken root.

One bear hugs a small, scraggly spruce, another dangles from the flower basket on the side gate…others grow among the rose bushes or lean against the gladioli.  A couple even str-e-e-e-etch from underneath the deck, trying to reach sunlight from the gardenia cuttings I’m trying to root there.

Not a chance we’ll ever see a tomato from any of them.

My favorite variety of annual salvia is Lady in Red and though I couldn’t find any plants this year, what must be her white and coral-blossomed cousins are delighting the bumblebees and hummingbirds.

The Black and Blue perennial salvia which thrives in the heat is one of the reasons I walk around sniffing tomato leaves when I’m working outside.  That stinky salvia smells like flop sweat.  The bees and hummingbirds love it, so I planted some in the narrow bed between driveway and fence, to keep it from spoiling the sweeter scents of the garden, but every time I open the gate, the plant reaches out and rubs against me, depositing EAU DE FLOP SWEAT scent on my clothing.

Annual salvia.

After I wrote the previous paragraph and thought how stupid it was to keep a plant I dislike, I set aside my laptop and took my camera outside to take a before photo, with the intention of yanking out El Stinko.  I had the camera to my face when this happened:

Pardon the blur, but Mr. Hummer came out of nowhere and buzzed me, almost giving me my own outlay of flop sweat.  I got the message:  

Don’t even THINK about it, Sister!

The plant stays, I guess.

Another insect favorite, the perennial swamp sunflowers, have risen to the occasion–seven feet tall or more.  They’re the bees’ knees!

 Having lost our peaches and strawberries to the damnsquirrels and rabbits, I was determined that they weren’t getting the figs.  I assembled an impressive arsenal.  Plastic newspaper bags cut into strips flutter on the branches along with battered aluminum pie pans.  I even tossed plant clippings on the leaves to camouflage the ripening figs from a bird’s-eye view. Finally, I hung the wind chimes there to announce any critters willing to risk the climb.  Not pretty, but it has been effective.

Most mornings I’ve been out there before sunrise, plucking and eating.  Unwilling to risk waiting for full, soft and sugary ripeness, I have eaten most of them when they were still bland and firm.  It was the principle of the thing.

The thing about figs is that they’re high in vitamins, so much so that it’s said we could live on figs alone. Plato encouraged Greek athletes to eat them.  Latex–that oozy white stuff that leaks from the bottom when they’re perfectly ripe–is said to be good for infertility and breast milk production.

They’re thought to lower blood pressure and, even with 60% sugar, aid in weight loss.  That’s possibly because they are not a fruit for the faint-hearted.  One fig has as much fiber as three dried prunes.

When I went for my annual physical a couple of weeks ago, I learned that my blood pressure was too low and my sugar too high.  Yowsah!

I suppose I’m lucky not to be pregnant and lactating.

Bolts. . . and Nuts!

This morning Miss Piggy had the 8 AM vet appointment, so we were out early.  When I drove through the back gate on our return,  there was a frantic flapping of wings just in front of my car as a hawk aborted his dive at the sound of my engine.  A chattering squirrel dashed wildly up the oak tree.

I had blundered into an abduction that would not have ended well for the squirrel.  It ran from the bird feeder area which is open, with no place to hide.  My intervention, entirely inadvertent, had distracted the hawk, giving  the squirrel enough time to reach the safety of the oak tree.  Probably better that way.  Had I had time to mull it over. . . well, never mind.

This evening, Dearly Beloved was manning the grill on the deck.  Because of the way our yard slopes, our deck is second story–not that much fun for taking out the garbage, but delightful  for surveying the neighborhood.  DB was doing exactly that when a squirrel suddenly appeared by the grill and dropped a nut at his feet.  Not an acorn–our yard is inundated with those.   This nut:

 

Still wet with squirrel slobber.

 

We have no idea where the nearest pecan tree is, certainly not in any of the nearby yards.  Furthermore, we’ve never seen a squirrel on the deck before.

Definitely weird.

Two possibilities come to mind.  Was it a gift of gratitude for the accidental rescue?   Or did he know that tomorrow is Dearly Beloved’s birthday?  Just when I think I have them figured out, the damnsquirrels do something like this.  Truce?

I’m not discounting the gift of the hawk, either.  It afforded a far more effective teaching moment than Dearly Beloved ‘s broom tosses.  Perhaps the tree rats will hereafter declare the bird feeder OFF LIMITS.

At any rate, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Dearly Beloved!

I’m still nuts about you.