Archive | March 2019

Snow Day

It has been snowing for months. This winter started the first of November and has not let up for a moment. It is February now, February 13. There has not been school for over a week and I can hear the mothers crying.

Snow or not. I got shit to do. I put on wool socks, fleece leggings, two sweaters, snow pants and my big, big coat (Michigan people will understand what a big, big coat is). I crammed my feet into my boots, found my ski gloves (which have never seen a ski slope and never will) and pulled on a hat with ear flaps.
I have to pee.
Ok, try again. This time I made it outside.
Not only is the snow over my boots, but well over my knees. I started out just shoveling the steps and deck. Then someone stopped to tell me that one of my peacocks was sitting in the road around the corner. I knew I couldn’t get any of the gates between our house and Levi’s, (a short cut) so I walked around the block by the road. I was amazed and dismayed by the amount of pure ice under the snow on the snow. It was like they used a Zamboni instead of a plow. It’s a good thing I had all the padding on my fanny, but I was almost helpless as a turtle on its back, when it came time to get back up.
As I rounded the corner, I could see something spotted white in the road. It was my youngest partial pied, peacock. There she was, just sitting in the road. I went to pick her up. She flew to a nearby fence. The snow is hip deep there. Just as I got to her again, she flew towards our back yard. I assumed she would beat me home.
I repeated my earlier performance on the ice as I waddled home. She wasn’t there.
I don’t know where the hell she landed. Not only that but her mother (also white) and one of her brothers is missing. Now, I understand how I could not see a white peacock in the snow, but a technicolored one?
So the dogs (Sophie had a playdate ) and I walked out back to look for them. The dogs thought this a wonderful opportunity to knock me down in the snow….repeatedly.
Damn, the wild duck who can’t fly is back by the far fence, bogged down in the deep snow. I chase. I miss. I chase again. I miss again. (Now you have to picture this in over the knee, snow motion and two unruly dogs) She gets into the goose pen at the far corner of the fence line. Ok. I can corner her there. One problem. The gate is closed and a foot higher than I can climb over. Knee deep snow, remember? Not only is the snow holding the gate, but it is frozen to the ground and post.
I need to cut the straps on the fence so I can lift it straight up. No knife. That’s ok, I can take a shortcut to the shed through the garden. It would have worked, but the gate at the other end is also buried in snow…..annnnnd, no knife.

Ok. Back up, go around the yard, making a new trail (knock it off dogs!) find a shovel and dig out the shed door to get a knife.

Nope. All that was there was a dull machete.

I got the machete, retraced my trail (Damnit dogs!), cut the straps, got the duck and continued to walk the fence line looking for peacocks. No dice. No peacocks.
So I make it back to the shed with the duck under my arm (Did I mention that both dogs are having a great time knocking me down in the snow?) Put the machete away, the door won’t close, so I stuff the duck in my coat and shovel and chip till it does. The duck shits.
At least it’s warm
As we are trudging back to the house, Sophie decides to impress her boyfriend and chases the geese. The geese fly. One goose flies over the fence. Son of a bitch.
I put the duck away. Feed the duck. Count peacocks…yup, still three shy. Go through the house to get out the front door (another gate that won’t open till June). Where is the goose?
Oh, of course, he is about 50 foot into the neighbor’s yard; in snow so deep I can only see his head and neck. I almost get to him and the other neighbor across the street fires up the tractor / snow blower. Goose flies into the road. I get to the road (am I having a heart attack or is it just the duck shit burning my skin….must be the duck shit) By now the goose is down the street, halfway to the church.
So it’s back in the house to get a stick for herding the goose (the net is frozen to the rabbit pen) and start off down the road. The lovely guy on the snow blower, turns the shoot in my direction. Thanks bud; it will help cool down the duck shit.
Finally, I manage to get in front of the damn goose and turn him back. We are making good progress; the snowbanks are keeping him in the road. Just as we get to our mailbox, idiot guy blows snow at the goose. Goose tries to fly. I tackle him in midair. (The goose, not the guy)
Flipping off the snow blower guy, we head back through the house with goose struggling in my arms. We almost made it. Dogs came in while I was chasing the goose and were lying in wait.
Surprise attack! Goose beats the snot out of me and I drop him. Goose shits in kitchen. I slip in goose shit. Finally cornered goose in the bathroom and returned him to the group outside (who all this time have been cheering for snow blower guy).Now I have duck shit all down the front of my sweater and Goose shit all over the butt of my pants.
Screw the peacocks. I shovel a narrow path through the deck and give up.
That’s my snow day.
And they wonder why I drink.

Don’t flush the Hamster Please

I have never been particularly fond of hamsters. Oh granted, they are cute and not much trouble to keep, but I just have a few problems with the little rodents.

For starters, they seem to have a tendency to bite the hand that feeds them or cleans their cage, and there’s the food thing. They stuff everything in their cheeks, get it all covered with hamster spit and then tuck it away in their beds. That’s just icky. On top of that, there is the fact that their testicles are well, absolutely huge. I just can’t find myself becoming attached to any animal whose balls are bigger than its brain. (Men excluded, I guess)

Every once in a while I find myself getting stuck with a hamster. When we lived in navy housing, someone was moving overseas and talked me into taking their three-year-old hamster, “Sweetums”. I figured what the heck, it’s old, how much longer can it live? It turns out,a lot longer than you would think!

I soon discovered that there was NOTHING sweet about “Sweetums”. The rotten little creature would make a dive for your hand every time you reached in its cage and try to sink its well-honed fangs into your finger. More often than not, he succeeded. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but he continuously peed in his food dish, requiring someone to reach in there and change it.

I began to suspect that his owners requested the overseas duty assignment, just to get away from him.

He simply was not a pleasant animal. Every morning, I would go to his cage to cheerfully greet him and he would open one eye and glare at me. We took to calling him “Mr. Personality”. Mr. Personality lived in the laundry room on the back of the dryer, for about a year, before old age was merciful to all of us and we found him face down in his food dish one morning. I tried to muster up a tear, but my heart just wasn’t into it. Later when Levi got up, I told him of Mr. P’s demise and he managed to look sorrowful for about the time it took to discover the toy in the new box of cereal.

About half way through his Super Frosted Sugar Bombs (or whatever overly sweetened cereal he was obsessed with that week), he announced that he thought Mr. P should have a burial at sea. We had visited the whaling museum the week before and they had shown a short movie about life aboard a whaling ship. A whale had killed one of the seamen and the captain sewed him in a canvas shroud and committed him to the depths of the ocean.

I’m not sure why Levi thought that this was appropriate for a hamster, but I learned early on in mother hood, that sometimes, you just don’t want to know. I gave a weak, “Um, sure” and sank back into my coffee. I had a million things to do and I’d just have to deal with the expired hamster later.

My husband’s ship was somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean Ocean and I was involved in planing the children’s Christmas party for the families in a few weeks. Several other Navy wives came over to finish up the decorations for the hall and of course, they brought their children along. There is one thing you can count on in military housing…wall to wall children. At that moment there were several bouncing off my walls.

We told them to do something quiet while we worked. When they complied, I should have worried. A quiet child is a child up to mischief. The peaceful interval was short lived and I sent them all outside to play. As I returned to the Christmas project in the other room, I noticed that Mr. P’s cage was sitting on the floor of the laundry room and felt a guilty pang for not taking care of his remains yet.

We continued to work and the children continued to run in an out of the house getting snacks, tattling on siblings and using the bathroom. It wasn’t long before one child passed by on his way outside and called over his shoulder, “toilet won’t flush!” Since there were two bathrooms, I simply shut the door and added it to the long list of things I’d do later.

Every one finally left and “later” had arrived. The first job I tackled was disposition of the hamster body. I looked in his cage, but he wasn’t there. I searched all through the litter, thinking there may have been some miraculous resurrection, but there was no hamster, dead or alive. I tracked Levi down and asked him if he knew what happened to Mr. P. As he went spinning by on the merry-go-round, he said that they already had the funeral and Mr. P was buried. I was impressed by his maturity in taking care of such an event. That must have been why the children were so quiet earlier. Great, I could go make dinner!

About half way through preparing dinner of spaghetti and salad, I remembered the bathroom situation. I grabbed the plunger and headed for the downstairs jon. The kids were right, it didn’t flush. I plunged and flushed again. The water rose to the edge of the bowl and slowly receded. I plunged again. Same situation. I really hated to do it, but I was going to have to call “public works”.

The Navy base had several hundred housing units and the maintenance department was called “public works”. We used to joke about the inappropriateness of this title, as they often seemed to do as little work as possible. I always felt rather badly about the jokes, as I knew these men had a lot to put up with in their line of work. Just imagine all the things that could go wrong with several hundred housing units filled with wives and children who’s husbands were not around to do even the simplest tasks….like plunging a toilet. I usually tried to give these long suffering workers a break as I figured they had literally “Seen it all”.

Not quite.

I called to schedule a work request and they gave me a loose estimate of “some time tomorrow, maybe the next day, definitely before next week”. I was lucky, it was the former.

The middle-aged gentleman in gray coveralls showed up around three. He stubbed out the hot ash of his cigar and balanced it on the outside windowsill. I explained that the toilet refused to flush and that I was sure he would need a plumbers snake. He let out a long “oh-what-I-put-up-with-sigh” and got his tools from the truck. He began a long litany of what he felt were standard toilet clog questions about what possibly might have been flushed that shouldn’t have been. I assured him that I was very careful about things like that and left him to his work.

There was a lot of puffing and grunting and some questionable language drifting out from the bathroom. I did my best to ignore it. I offered coffee or soda, which he politely declined. He emerged for more tools and explained that he would have to take the toilet stool up so he could better access the pipe. There was more puffing and grunting and the language got a bit worse. Suddenly there was absolute silence. I looked up from my paperwork and saw him standing in the doorway.

“Lady” he said, “Are you missing a hamster?”

I put on my most innocent of faces. “A hamster? Why no. We don’t even own a hamster” (Well, we didn’t, ANYMOORE)

He held up a dripping wet wool sock, which I immediately recognized as the half of the hand knit pair of Christmas socks we had purchased on a recent trip to Maine. “Well, I’d thought I’d seen everything I possibly could in a toilet.” He said shaking his head, “But I’ve never, ever, fished out a hamster in a sock”

Just then, Levi came bounding into the house and announced, loud and clear, “Hey! That’s my hamster! He’s supposed to be in the ocean by now.”

It’s a good thing that child was still moving because if I could have gotten my hands on him right then, I’d have beaten him with a dead hamster in a sock.

The jig was up. The truth was out. All I could do is hang my head and say “I’m soooo, soooo, sorry. I didn’t know. As God is my witness, I did not know the hamster was in the toilet.”

Somehow, that wonderful patient man cracked the slightest of smiles. “I gotta ask lady, why the sock?’

I explained the whaling museum, the movie and the need for a shroud in burials at sea, as my new hero replaced the toilet back on the pipe. He wiped up the floor with one of my hand towels, washed his hands and gathered up his tools.

On his way out the door, he retrieved his cigar from the sill and clamped it in his teeth. He turned to me and winked. “Lady, I’m just glad you don’t have a dog”.