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Friday, March 24, 2017

Sciurus Scurrilous

     My father told the story of enlisted men on an Air Force base who, when they saw a certain officer whom they disliked approaching on the sidewalk, would quickly spread out to eight or so feet apart. The officer had to return the first man's salute, the second man's, the third man's, and so on, until his arm was ready to drop off. I suspect the squirrels of Sand Lake Hills have worked out such a plan for my poor dog. "Chitter, chitter. Here she comes. Places, everyone," they chirrup. 
     Two in every yard, one devious little rodent stations itself at the tree in the right-of-way while the other slithers to the center of the front yard. Tiger Lily spots the first one and snaps into stalking mode. I take a firmer grip on the leash and remind her, "No." That's usually enough to get her past the one in the yard, but the other climbs just a foot or so up the tree and sticks its insouciant little head out at her. Instinct betrays discipline, and she lunges. I yank on the leash and blast "No!" in my most imperious tone. Now, at least, she lunges only once where she used to spin me right around for a second try at the little bleep, which is now six feet above the ground. Tiger Lily is learning. But I think the squirrels are too. Seemed like this routine repeated in every yard for a good (well, bad) half hour. You can almost hear the rodents sneering, "Na na, nanana. You're on a lee-eash."
In our back yard, it's a different story. The rats with bushy tails keep their distance. No leash. No reticence. They eat my food plants. My neck is still stiff from this morning's walk. Sic 'em, girl.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Snake in the Bucket

     Furious barking from the porch went on so long, youngest son stepped out to investigate. "Oh!" I heard him say. He came back in to report, "There's a snake on the porch. It's in a bucket." Three buckets catch rain water that blows in through the screen during our Florida frog-drownders. The third one, tucked farthest in the corner, contained a youngish black snake, maybe eighteen inches long, thrashing its tail like a turbo metronome and vibrating its tongue at full extension and top speed. Tiger Lily the Amazing Shelter Dog feinted a time or two, barked some more, and looked up at me like "What do we do with this thing?"
     The humans conferred. I grabbed a broom. No, too soft to disable the critter. Hoe? Shovel? Bloody mess on the nice blue tile? No. Something to cover the bucket? Aha. I dashed to the garage and snatched the cardboard tray from a flat of Coke from the recycle bin. Garden gloves caught my eye, and I pulled them on. No time to change out of flipflops to real shoes. Back on the porch, I advanced with the cardboard while the menfolk heroically persuaded Tiger Lily to retreat to the kitchen. The snake struck at the cardboard and flipped itself out of the bucket. Crap. 
     All manliness, the Hubs went for the long-handled grabber-thingie that usually retrieves small items that fall behind the furniture. It has two little suction cups on the end. I swear I did not roll my eyes as he crept toward the snake, made a grab and smacked his arm so hard on the corner of the cement counter that houses our grills, it instantly raised a bluish lump from a no-doubt busted blood vessel. 
Diana the hunter

My brain finally clicked on the specimen net I keep in the foyer closet for just such occasions. Really, every Floridian should have one. I slipped the business end between the bucket and the undulating body perched on the aluminum "curb" that anchors the screen. One scaly loop extended over the ledge, so I worked the net under it and nudged. The snake jumped into the net. With frogs and lizards, I squeeze the top of the net to keep the little blighters in. For a snake... even with gloves, I decided instead to swing the net back and forth to keep it from climbing out. I kept it swinging until I reached the back fence and found the silver lining to its dilapidation. Dumped from the net, the snake scooted under the fence into the domain of the obnoxious little yappy dogs which have been annoying passers-by for years.      
It's hard work keeping my people safe. 
Allowed out again, Tiger Lily jumped and snuffled at the screen door. "I'll get that snake. I will." What the heck, let her try. She rocketed out the door, but didn't make it past the rubber-tire chew toy in the grass. She picked it up and turned toward the door. "Let's play." The Hubs rewarded her vigilance with a nice long session of fetch. I eschewed my fainting couch to fix dinner. (Leftover colcannon with bits of corned beef and a fried egg.) Then, fortified with the last of the shortbread, I composed this account for posterity. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

No Jeans for You

      Always up on the latest in political correctness, I am woked and stoked about cultural appropriation. Brown girls invented the circle, you know, so no hoop earrings for white women. Or men, I reckon. No choker necklaces, since that appropriates a style from some eastern European place. Certainly no sombreros, corn rows or stir-fry either. (Wait. Can you have a tattoo if you're not Polynesian? This requires more research.) But I rise today to spread the demand that no one who is female of any color or male without being an immigrant to the US from either Bavaria or Latvia may wear jeans without Incurring the Wrath. I'm pretty sure you have to be Jewish too. Because here's the guy who invented jeans back in the 1870s: 

Yessiree, that is Jacob W. Davis, a Jewish tailor who came to the US from Latvia and wound up in San Francisco. With a wife and a bunch of kids. You know, straight. So that's another group out. Anyway, a woman asked him to make some indestructible pants for her lumberman husband. He thought of putting rivets on the stress points of denim trousers. The garment we know as "jeans" was born. They were way popular with men who worked hard outdoors. Gold miners liked them. So maaaaybe that extends their acceptability to some Gentile men, but, still, only ones who work really hard outdoors. 

Mr. Davis bought his denim from Levi Strauss's dry goods store. A partnership was just the thing for marketing the pants and making a pile of money, so he asked Mr. Strauss to share the patent with him. Check out Levi Strauss:        
Oy vey, another Jewish white guy. Oops. I guess I can't say that. Of course, I meant, "Goodness gracious." He came from Bavaria. (I could probably get away with a dirndl, since my forebears are German. There's a Danish great-grandfather in there too, so I can knock myself out at breakfast. I prefer cheese or apricot to prune, thanks.) 
The spirit of the age has spoke, so get woke, all you black, brown, Caucasian, Asian, native and Methodist girls, and men, or however you identify, unless you are white and Jewish, or maaaybe a miner or a logger, unless you want to be yelled at in public by an old white lady, you get out of those jeans. Now. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Dogwalker's Dilemma

     "Your dogs are coming through the gaps in your fence and pooping in our yard," I told the owner of the house behind us.
     "Good thing they're not big dogs," he said. I don't think I got my chin back to its normal height for a good hour and a half. Not big dogs?!? THEY ARE POOPING IN OUR YARD. Over the course of years-- years, do you hear me?-- I asked over and over whether he would be replacing the falling-down fence. "I just can't afford it," he said, with a pitiful expression. I even tried telling him he might get in trouble with the code enforcement people for failing to maintain a proper fence around their backyard pool and their three utterly undisciplined, yappy little dogs. "Who's going to tell them?" said he, with pretty close to a wink, like, har har, who cares about the law? 
     The man died a couple of years ago, and his widow and resident grown children have kept up the tradition: it's not their fault. They're not responsible. And how dare we call Animal Control when we find the dogs lounging in our yard, having thoroughly relieved themselves, and they growl and snarl at us. In our own yard. Don't you know our father died? I didn't quite grasp the connection. But they did make a little more effort to block some of the gaps with cooler lids and old garden fencing and a couple of boards. Then one of the little rodents got out of their yard by some other way and slithered under our gate. To poop. To bark at me. I blocked under the gate with bricks. We gained some respite. 
     Then Tiger Lily, our first dog, 50 pounds of muscle packed in a remarkable tiger-striped coat, came to live. She owns the yard, and she finds the obnoxious yappers to be beneath her notice. 
     At the end of a long walk, we came past their house. She pulled resolutely onto the strip between the sidewalk and the street in front of their house and deposited one of the biggest loads of doggie calling card she's ever produced. She'd already gone earlier in the day, and I hadn't thought to bring a bag. My first thought was, "That's my girl." I kicked some leaves and dirt over the pile and headed home. Into a moral dilemma. 
     It served 'em right. She'd scarcely matched the quantity their dogs had left in our very back yard, and it was on the right-of-way, so it wasn't even as bad. Let 'em see how they like it. But, dang it, I'm a Christian. And our pastor has been preaching on the characteristics of love for a couple weeks. Love doesn't take into account a wrong suffered. I could just about feel the Holy Spirit shaking His finger in my head. Do not return evil for evil. Do good to those who persecute you. I told the Hubs my dilemma. "You have to go pick it up," he said. Yeah. It would probably bug me for the rest of my life if I didn't. So I grabbed a bag, sought out the camouflaged pile and carried it back to our outside garbage can. 
     Now I'm a better person. Hahahahahaha. Not really. But I was kind of obedient. And if that's what I expect from the dog, I'd better be like that myself. Woof.