Monday, July 30, 2007

Theft and a Bit of Vandalism


"Yes, Colin?"

"The worst thing EVER! You gotta come and see!!"

Pictures for you

This, you see, was the prize tomato. Formally the size and shape of Kate Moss's buttocks, nearly red, Colin had been watching it with a mixture of awe and anticipation. See, he was going to get to eat the Butt Tomato.

Well, he was, until whatever-the-hell-it-was-with-teeth-and-a-not-overly-small-jaw took the first bites. Over a few days and many more bites later, the huge tomato dwindled to a mere rotting shadow of itself. Colin was beside himself, "Mom. I'm just going to go out there and kill all of the bugs. They ATE the tomato. They can't live. I'm going to kill them all."

Well first, I had to applaud his zeal in defending the vegetables. Finally, a partner in the War on Bugs. (At least on the bugs that mess with the garden: The Squash Bugs. Also the Cucumber Beetles. But mostly the Squash Bugs.) But then I had to clue him in that the evidence disputed that the chomps were from the mouths of bugs, as there were definite teeth marks (as far as I know, bugs are completely lacking in dentition) and the bites were larger than 3 of the biggest Squash Bugs put together, end to end. Bigger than a tomato Hornworm could manage at the end of the summer. About the size a dog or raccoon or elf would make. Maybe a pixie, if it were a very large pixie.

A couple of days later, looking out the bedroom window, I noticed that the ground squirrel who has his burrow opening just to the west of the garden wall, was playing with a red something. At first I thought it was a piece of red rubber dog toy, but then, after squinting in the binoculars, I realized that he was sitting up on his haunches, chowing down on a tomato the size of his head and torso combined. You can see him below, nearly finished with the booty. (Yes, the photo is crap but my telephoto lens hasn't much tele in its photo and I had to enlarge it oh, so many times. The varmint is sitting up with his back to the right, holding up the tomato fragment, facing to the left, busily eating.)

Pictures for you


Cute bastard.

He supposedly eats bugs, too, so I'm not going to touch him, of course. Suddenly the 'accidental planting' of over 20 tomato plants for the 4 of us seems like not such an absurdly large number.

And that brings us to the abduction of 2 out of 4 foxgloves that I'd planted by a bench to be enjoyed while sitting and gazing out over the pastures.

A few weeks ago, I trotted down to smile at them, and discovered nothing but a perfect, gaping hole where they'd been lovingly planted two months before. It was not like it'd been dug out. There was no dirt spray, such as would be if Molly had taken it out. The hole corresponded exactly to what I'd dug with my little trowel; the plant completely missing. No signs of it having been drug off a little ways. I searched around in the brush and bush but found nothing. I must admit that evidence of digitalis poisoning (vomiting, yellow halos surrounding the objects in one's vision, death) as evidenced by a small furry thing collapsed by a tree (with a dent the size of a small furry head in its trunk), surrounded by its last meal, partially digested, would have done my heart good. But all I found was the second missing foxglove with identical evidence of removal. The two remaining ones just sat there, smiling at me. Maybe they got tired of the banal banter of the 'missing' two and hired the thug deer.

Finally, the week before last, someone seems to have come by and without any warning or by-your-leave, stolen our nice, paved road. Maybe they needed it over in the next county, but we do miss our road and hope they return it soon. Can't imagine what the snow plow will do to a gravel surface. It's already getting nicely rutted. Soon, it will be deeply grooved, what with all the tractors and cattle trailers that use it.

Pictures for you

And the vandalism?

Seems the turkeys took a liking to the late season raspberries but not the kids' slide, taking a large dump all over the platfrom:

Pictures for you

With 8 acres to choose a toilet from, why was this surface so attractive? It's even splintery.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Haikus For The Woman By The Side Of The Road This Morning

Driving down to work,
6:30 AM, sunrise.
At the edge of Monroe.

Colors of muted
Green and brown and grey and white...
and bright magenta.

You stroll by the side
of the highway, in the grass,
wearing your nightgown.

Nightgown? Really? Sure?
Yes. Satiny, Shiny, and
Thankfully not short.

Grass covered your feet
So I couldn't prove the pair
of fuschia slippers.

You seemed comfortable
with your being, no need for
a coat or a robe.

Best of all, in your
hand was the leash attached to
the black, happy dog.

Strolling there with you,
tail high, around his neck
a large white lampshade.

He seemed quite perky.
So maybe the shade was more
a fashion statement.

Thank you for the smile.
I will keep your image with
me throughout the day.

In my dull clothes
Of beige and muted aqua
and brown and camel.

But my mind is now
Magenta and fuschia and
perky white lampshades.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Impatiently Waiting

Pictures for you

Tracking the Package from the warehouse of Amazon, this morning, we couldn't help but notice that not only had the Package gotten to the Middleton, WI, UPS depot, but it had departed from the Middleton, WI, UPS depot. As we are only about 45 minutes by vehicle and beltline from Middleton, WI, AND historically, when we've ordered items from Amazon, they've gotten here a day ahead of the anticipated arrival date, it was with no little frisson of excitement that I realized that I just might hold the thing I've awaited most in the last two years in my hot little hands a full day before I had right to expect to.

It is now approaching 7pm and not one of the vehicles that's rumbled down our road has been the UPS truck.

Guess it's a just punishment.

Driving to the grocery store this morning, Charles and I were quite amused to note the huuuuuuuge line in front of one of the chain bookstores at 8 am. I'm guessing that these are crazy people who not only reserved their copy of the Package in advance, but are waiting in line for the store to sell them their reserved copy 16 hours from then. Do they think the store is going to run out of the book that they pre-ordered and paid for? Why not arrive at midnight and wait in line an hour? Why not arrive at 11pm and wait in line 2 hours?

Had the Package mistakenly arrived early, as it has been rumored to have done if ordered by another online distributor, I must admit the temptation was there to have jumped in the car and driven by the hoards standing (none seemed to even be condescending to sit in lawn chairs, which would have at least shown a whiff of sense, especially if a well stocked cooler was in attendance) in line brandishing my copy of ill-gotten Package and then zooming away before they could swarm the car and take out their wrath upon us.

I've got my space at the ready: Couch up in the loft, pillows plumped. Floor vacuumed. Blanket at the ready. Plants watered. Table at arm's reach for snacks, pot of tea during the day, glass of wine during the evening, pot of tea in the middle of the night. Mad-Kitty has her instructions to curl up at my feet but not on my chest. Charles has plans for the small-handed ones and himself that involve a movie marathon in the basement. No dog, no children.

All is set.

You won't hear from me until I'm done.

It's been a long 2 years.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

My Dog Has Placenta Eyes.


Charles: "What's wrong?"

"Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" (grabs counter, blinks, rubs eyes, looks again) "Aaaaaaahhhh!!" Honey! Please come in here! NOW.

Charles (from The Big Chair in the living room, which, let's be honest, is so very comfortable that you really don't want to leave it unless the house is not only on fire, but the fire extinguishers are all empty and the volunteer fire dept is on another call): "What's wrong?"

"YOUR dog has placentas for eyes."

Which, really is the only response when you gaze into your dog's lovely deep brown eyes and find thick, red, tissue completely covering what was until recently her corneas. Both her corneas.

Of course, this was a Monday evening, about 8pm. Charles had stumbled home after presenting, for over 2 hours, his school's wonderful results in the national Doubling School Performance conference (note how sneakily I slipped in the husband brag), and I stumbled home after a particularly busy Monday where no one seemed to have just a cold or just a splinter or just Dengue Fever.

I looked at him. He looked at the dog's eyes and jumped. He goggled at me. I goggled at him.

Molly looked at us and blinked frequently and uncomfortably.

"When the hell did that happen?"

"I dunno. I was just getting a bite to eat and looked into her eyes for the first time today. I know they weren't like that yesterday."

"We should call the vet."

"They'll just tell us to bring her in."

"We should call."

(both look at the phone and then look at each other)

"You call. I'm tired."

"YOU call. I'M tired."

"She's your dog and you pay more attention to her eyes. I thought they looked fine yesterday evening when you wondered if they seemed a trice swollen."

10 minutes later, we're in the car.

2 hours later and over $100 poorer, we're told that she has pannus, an autoimmune disorder of the eye, "particularly common in German Shepherds" and that she's "the youngest I've ever seen" at a year-and-a-half. The last bit doesn't mean that much, though, as the vet seemed genuinely uncomfortable and inexperienced around Molly, who, aside from shedding her entire undercoat all over the floor of the emergency clinic from stress, was very sweet. But, we believe the diagnosis as she did bring in pictures of the condition, and, even though a people doctor rather than an animal doctor, I could agree that Molly, indeed, had eyes that looked exactly like the scary pictures in the doggy eye book.

We went home with a 5 ml bottle of steroid drops that we are supposed to put in each eye 4 times a day.

Do you know how much 5 mls are in American? 1 teaspoon. For $30. Guess this is one time where pet drugs aren't cheaper than people drugs.

Do you know how hard it is to put drops in a wiggly, triangle-headed, 75 lb, submissive-peeing dog 4 times a day?

Very, very hard.

Do you know how many drops you dribble down the dog's face and onto the floor?

Me neither. I really don't want to think about it at $30 a teaspoon. Let's just say that less goes into her eyes than goes to places other than her eyes. More probably goes into MY eyes than her eyes.

So, I've taken to stealth.

I wait until she's sleeping, dive on top of her, pry her lids open and get at least one drop in at least one eye. Which, if I were a professional baseball player, would garner me a multi-million dollar contract. Such is the power of statistics.


Fortunately, she no longer looks as if she was abducted by aliens and had placentas inserted where her corneas should be. Now she just looks like she's got cataracts.

And is it curable?

Oh, hell no.

Treatable, yes. With drops 4 times a day, or possibly surgery. Or not, if it progresses to blindness. (But then we'd not have to do the drops, so, hey, a sliver of silver to every jet black cloud.)

She can, however, sport these.

And it doesn't seem to have impacted her frisbee playing, so I'm guessing her vision is at least partly intact.

So, score one more for the Piffle team. We really know how to pick the pooches, don't we? Sweet, smart, and afflicted.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Bluebird Of Angst

Meet Floyd.

Actually, this is not Floyd, unless the person who took this photo that I've pilfered off flickr is in the habit of stealing into our yard and snapping shots of random birds. But it could be Floyd. Or Brother of Floyd.

For the purpose of our story, let's pretend it is, indeed, Floyd.

See, there seems to be something 'off' about Floyd.

Floyd is the male tenant of a birdhouse in our back yard.

Pictures for you

It seems to be prime real estate, despite it's rather dilapidated appearance, as each spring the Eastern Bluebirds hold a jousting tournament to see which couple gets the place for the summer. We watch the doings off our balcony. It's loud and swoopy and very colorful.

A couple of months ago, Floyd and his bride won this year's House Joust and moved in, seemingly satisfied.

About 2 weeks ago, we began noticing that a male Eastern Bluebird began hanging around the windows of the back of our house. By hanging, I mean he was frequently there, either on the deck railing or literally hanging from the window screen, occasionally relieving himself down the surface of the screen, peering in to the rooms with his right eye, head turned left, as you see above. He'd fly away if we got right up to the window. He was impossible to miss. Felt like being watched by Big Brother.

Shortly afterward, he apparently tired of surveillance, making more direct assaults on the house. Specifically, he'd sit on, say, the railing of the tiny balcony off our bedroom and launch himself at the glass, hitting it with his beak, sharply, making an insistent tap-tap-tap (on a good approach, he could manage to whack the window up to 4 times before having to veer away to keep his body airborne). He'd circle around and do it again. And again. And a-fuckin-gain. When tiring of this, he'd go to another back window and repeat. He'd start at dawn (which is around 5 am-ish), suspending his activities when he sensed we were up and moving.

Let me tell you, this is somewhat amusing when one has to rise at 5am, but when one doesn't, it's beyond annoying. Like someone having left a very loud faucet dripping. A faucet that only stops dripping when you get up out of your comfortable bed.

Or if you sit in wait with your camera, as I could be found doing several times over the past couple of weeks. (Oh, yes. I've been sitting in wait with my camera, at dawn, just for you-all.) He'd wake me. I'd then sneak to the dresser where I'd stashed the camera, he'd fly off, and I'd sit for a while on the edge of the bed, waiting for him to make another appearance, while he apparently laughed at me from a distance of about 50 m away, showing up as a blue-orange speck on a green tree, against the green grass background. (Again, as the lovely picture above hints at.)

Now, of course, we have been entertaining ourselves about his motives:

1. Is he pissed at us, the landlords, for some problem with the bird house roof or possibly mad that we've not installed indoor plumbing?

2. Does he envy us and want to join the dog-chase-cat-chase-kid fun?

3. Does he envy Charles his home theater and just want to watch "Winged Migration" in high definition with surround sound?

4. Is he threatened by the vacuum? The blender? The bed spread?

5. Is he a deceased relative or close friend re-incarnated as a pretty, boy bird?

6. Does he want to raid the pantry, having tired of a diet of bugs and caterpillars, envying us that particularly tasty granola or the ice cream bars?

7. Has Timmy fallen down a well and, as Lassie seems to be no where to be found, he's trying to act in her place? (Boy, after a couple of weeks, I think I really don't want to find Timmy.)

Anyway, we have been vigilant about keeping the screens closed, not wanting a house full of Floyd. The cat is fascinated and lurks, watching him, daring him to come closer. The dog could care less except when the noise keeps her from her slumbers. I am holding out hope that he is just bored between broods, and that his mate is, as we speak, sitting on a whole new crop of hungry mouths that he will soon have to hop to to feed.

See if he has the energy to bug me, then.

(Ed. note: I wrote this a week ago, and, indeed, suddenly, there seems to be a lack of interest in our doings and Floyd and the missus have been flying in and out of the bird house quite busily. I think the new brood is hatched. Thank God. Now I just need a few good rain storms to wash all the bird crap off the screens. I could get a hose, but that's just too much like work and it's now all hot outside. We don't do work outside in July and August. We sit and think about picking something in garden for dinner and wave at the kids splashing in the slide-y pool.)


Friday, July 06, 2007

Thing I Never Thought I'd Need To Tell My Child Not To Do #46,908

Pictures for you

As I happened by the bathroom, today, in the throes of our weekly cleaning frenzy, I noticed that the toilet lid seemed to have grown a tumor.

Halting in my tracks, load of laundry on my hip, leaning back to have another look, I noticed that my son was laughing and showing me what could be done with his sister's toothbrush!

As I stood there, gaping, trying my level best to make sense of what I was seeing, he did the only thing an 8 year-old boy could do: He closed the toilet lid.

"Look Mom! See! Sara's toothbrush even sticks to the toilet lid!"

I grabbed the errant brush and whinged it into the trash.

Completely aghast and nonplussed, I asked my son, "Can you tell me why that's inappropriate?"

"Um....," grin fading from his face, "Because I was wasting time screwing off, instead of cleaning the bathroom?" he ventured.