So, to supplement my retiree’s income, I substitute teach from time to time. Luckily, I can be a bit picky in choosing the jobs I want to take, and I only sub at the local school. I NEVER sub in kindergarten, (you have to be a special kind of crazy to tackle THAT job!), and steering clear of elementary kids in general. They’re a bit like spider monkeys on crack. Although, monkeys would be easier, I think.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to sub in the high school art class. This is generally a pretty laid back gig…..all the high school students have their individual projects to work on, so all I have to do is relay to them any particular instructions the teacher has left for them, and they usually just get down to work, with a couple of “ne’er do wells” always testing the waters of my resoluteness in keeping them on task. So, I figured, “easy day.” Wrong. I didn’t realize I was going to have fifth graders in the afternoon. Their teacher brings them over from the elementary school building, then leaves them. I was unprepared for what happened when she left.  Incorrigible spider monkeys on crack……….with paint. That’s all that needs to be said.

I was asked back the next week, same high school class. The art teacher was fully aware of what had taken place previously with the fifth graders, so she was quick to tell me that I wouldn’t have that class today, but the fourth graders would be coming in. However, I was NOT to be fooled again, so when the teacher brought the class to the art room, I was ready for the monkey show! Before they were able to set foot in the classroom, I said, “Line up, drop your backpacks out here and do NOT enter that room until I say so, and NOT.ONE.WORD!”  They walked into the room and I told them,” Don’t get your work and materials until I say so, and when you do, NOT. ONE. WORD!  OK…..This side, get your work, your paint and brushes, then sit down, and NOT. ONE WORD!” These instructions were given three different times, the kids following them quietly each time I barked them out. After my last command, one little boy raised his hand and asked me, “Were you in the military?”  My dad had been Air Force for thirty-six years so I figured that qualified me. “Yes!” I snapped, surveying the rest of the class with my stink eye, daring them to say anything. Then, one little girl stood up, approached me timidly, and said, “Thank you for your service.” Then, very solemnly, she SALUTED ME!! OK…..admittedly, I felt like a heel,  BUT…….there was NOT.ONE.WORD!!!!

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Kittens….(Tumbling Toms, cont’d)

It is a typical, no frills, no character, 1950s, ranch “style” house, perched on a bump  flanked to the northwest by alfalfa fields,  expansive doorways opening up into inhospitable, rocky, cave pocked, desert foothills.

Under the house is a crawlspace that runs the entire length of the house, divided halfway by a “basement” of sorts, where the hot water heater, furnace and electrical boxes reside. The space itself isn’t large, maybe 10′ by 10′, but it’s deep, probably 8′ down some stairs that are accessed by a trapdoor which is located in a bedroom closet. Open the hatch, turn on the light, step down two steps to a small, wooden platform. Standing on this solid platform, one can look left, towards the small, open, outside entrance to the crawlspace….the gateway all 5,000 feral cats used to come in out of the weather, whatever it may be. From the basement steps to this outside opening, there might be 100′ feet of dirt, filled with a man-made spider web of criss-crossed air ducts, floor joists and supports, wiring, and, at times………..cats, especially momma cats and their kittens. (Yes, I know…..spay and neuter, but I was one person vs. 800 female cats. I did what I could.) Turning right, there are five steps off the platform to the basement floor. The crawlspace proper continues on to the other end of the house, low, cramped, dark and dusty. Cat heaven…protected from the elements and predators……..almost.

Knitting as furiously as the demented Madame Defarge, I was at first unaware of the commotion taking place in the crawlspace. When I did surface from my yarn induced hypnosis, I realized the racket directly below my feet rivaled the noise made by a mountain rock slide.  Getting on my knees and pressing my face to the air ducts in the living room floor, I began screaming as loudly as possible, “DAMN CATS, SETTLE THE **** DOWN!” Silence….for about five seconds. Then, with renewed fury, the yowling, howling, thumping, banging, scratching, hissing and ripping (the air ducts!) began anew. This time, the uproar tumbled from one end of the crawlspace to the other. I further added to this manic commotion by snatching up a broom and following the raging, underground river of chaos, banging with the broom handle and jumping up and down on the floor at various intervals, hoping that the din I was making would put unbridled fear in their kitty hearts and bring all the pandemonium to a halt. It worked! Just for good measure, I walked the length of the house a couple of more times, intermittently thumping the floor with the broom handle and yelling down the vents. I waited, apprehensively, for a few minutes, praying that the toms who were causing the trouble were gone, or at least subdued into silence by my terrifying display of feline prowess!

Several more minutes passed with nary a peep from the subterranean cat house. I went back to my knitting, pleased I had handled that problem so effectively.  Two days of peace followed, my knitting was progressing nicely, and then………….the kittens started mewling. (to be continued)

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Tumbling Toms……

~Our first meeting took place on the front porch in the cold, obsidian black of a starless, moonless, November night. The one and only outside light bulb was broken, as well, and I had charged, screaming like a drunken banshee, out the front door, without a flashlight. Because of this total absence of any light, I had no clue as to who, or what, I was chasing with my ever present spray bottle of minty fresh, all natural, insect repellent, guaranteed, according to the internet, (“Must be true, right?”), to get rid of several kinds of problem bugs. (I’m not sure if the black widow under my sink finally packed up and left because of the actual efficacy of lemon and mint spray, or if she was just sick and tired of being water boarded twice a day). Of course,I realized this was no hunting expedition to eradicate mere bugs. From the sounds of it, a hundred of the five hundred or so feral cats living around the ranch were re-enacting a clawed, furry version of “Fast and Furious” on the roof, and the continual yowling, thumping, growling and shrieking while they were tearing from one end of the house to the other was a constant distraction to my panicked attempts to finish knitting Christmas gifts. At times, they would stop in their flight, mere feet above my head, and proceed, I was sure, to try and wrench the tiles from the roof! ~

~”Enough,” I thought, when total chaos slammed onto the roof above the front porch. As I ripped open the door, shouting at the top of my lungs, a HUGE mass of……something……landed  in the big Juniper bush about three feet from where I was standing. There was much shaking of greenery,  hissing, howling and caterwauling from the fur in the foliage, and yelling from me. (Thankfully, we didn’t have close neighbors!)~

~ “Damn!” I thought, as I furiously pumped minty-lemony-hopefully-might-be-effective-on-cats-too-insect repellent directly into the Juniper. “That’s either one helluva big tom, or a ball of forty or more rolled together!”  The mass of mayhem extracted itself from the bush and took off towards the trees. Satisfied that I had taken care of the problem for the night, I returned to my knitting, vowing to do a “spray run” every evening to ensure there was no encore of the rooftop bedlam. ~(to be continued)

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Thanks be to the wizards of the computer world, I am, after nearly a FOUR year hiatus, able to write again!!! Any variation on the word “frustrate” doesn’t begin to cover my screaming, swearing and the near destruction of my laptop when I was unable to access this blog. I honestly do NOT know what happened! One day, my password was simply rejected and it was downhill from there! And, oh, I do have some stories to tell! First, however, I have to determine how to “re-find” the magic road to take to get back to this particular destination….the “writing” and “editing” place, not just the reading spot. Plus, I have to catch up on “things” I had no clue about in the first place…, how to edit, how to save, how to post photos. All child’s play, I know, to the entire world, except for me!

Hopefully, God, karma, the universe, whoever and whatever….will all allow the magical road to remain visible even in my ineptness. I must thank Paul, Justin, Robbin and Kelly for all their efforts and patience in getting me back on track! Now, I must take the chance, exit here, with a prayer for a safe return , and begin composing the tales of live in mountain lions, death…figuratively as well as literally….marriages and heartbreak, and the beauty of solitude.

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La Ciega….

She knows I’m in here, sitting by the open windows. She’s yelling at me, again, STILL!

She is incorrigible and I blame myself. I created the problem with my chronic, over-the-top style of mothering, or rather, “s’mothering.”  When she lost her right eye to an infection, I blamed myself for that, as well. In an effort to make up for THAT particular lapse in motherly care, I have allowed her to do pretty much as she pleases. I have caved to her demands for constant attention, food, the best place to watch tv, etc…..

 Now that she’s older, and bigger, controlling her “wants” has become a struggle. When she was just a small bit of fluff, our kittens were very tolerant of her silly, clumsy attempts to romp and roll around with them. Now, however, a new batch of kitties aren’t so thrilled with her hopping and skipping about in the middle of their rockin’ play sessions, as she has grown considerably, as all babies do!  She will not listen when I shout at her to leave off chasing the older cats, or scaring them out of the planter by the front door so she can steal their kibble. She’s particularly fond of the seafood variety mixed with chicken broth, but in a pinch, she will eat the unseasoned stuff straight from the bag. If the kitty kibble isn’t available, she sniffs out the dogs’ bowls to partake of the elusive,  left over crunchies they MIGHT have overlooked,( a highly unlikely prospect.)  Recently, she discovered an opened bag of Puperonis, and quite literally snatched them off the kitchen table and sped off at a jaunty trot in an effort to elude two highly indignant Chihuahuas….and me. We cornered her in the hallway and managed to retrieve the treats without any bloodshed. There was, however, a great deal of shouting and barking. ( The pups LOVE those things, and if they had a pistol and opposable thumbs, they would shoot any Puperoni thieves, so Ciega got off lightly………this time!) Left over Raisin Brand cereal?  No problem….she loves the stuff, especially when added to her kibble.

My better half swears she will begin barking, soon. Much like a little goat I had about thirty years ago, La Ciega runs with my noisily exuberant pack of five dogs when they’re out in the yard, and happily joins in their silly games. I am certain she has watched them scratching at the front or back door to gain entrance into the house. Unfortunately, she has learned by example to chase cars, trucks, various ranch machinery, (backhoes, windrowers, tractors, balers, etc..) and bicycles. It’s impossible to go on a walk without her. If I can’t locate her, I only need to discover where the dogs are hanging out……generally on the sofa, the bed, or in one of the bathrooms, lying on the cool tiles in an attempt to avoid our Nevada summer heat.  

 She has come to realize we have two escape routes from the house, and she patrols both front and back doors diligently, keeping close watch on both human and canine inhabitants trying to elude her. If she spots us before we get in a vehicle, we have to play a “decoy” game;  the driver stays in the car while the passenger lures her to the front door, then quickly enters and runs through the house, out the back and jumps into the car or truck. ( Thankfully, I am usually the driver, so I don’t have to sprint like Usain Bolt from one side of the house to the other in an outlandish attempt to outsmart a “species confused” lamb!) However, speed will be a factor in the near future, as she has begun to figure out our diabolical plan of leaving her behind and has on occasion met the “runner” at the car door! 

Unlike my five dogs who are turning themselves inside/out barking,  I realize that the current knocking on the back door is not the Schwann’s delivery man, but the cloven hooves of an unhappy, forty plus pounds ewe lamb. She knows I’m in here with the cat kibble, undoubtedly hoarding it. Lucky for her we don’t eat lamb…………


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Spring is a’knocking…….

…..the only problem being “spring” used my “S’more” kitty as the door knocker! A microburst of wind lifted the poor fellow straight up off his little paws and flung him into the glass window of the front door while I was delivering his breakfast.Ten pounds of fluffy grey and white flying by one’s head tends to quickly wake a body up. I was as surprised as he was,but nowhere near as indignant. From the aggrieved look he threw over his shoulder as he stalked off, I’m sure he thought I was responsible for the injury to his cat ego and not the erratic sneakiness of an errant Nevada zephyr.                                                                                                                                     

The “scout” buzzards are borne in, silently, stealthily, on these Sierra winds, surfing the invisible scent trails high above the ranch lands and highways, searching for the first delicacies left behind by lambing and calving operations, and the asphalt offerings made up of slow rabbits, squirrels and the occasional, hapless coyote.  Last week, the first “official” calendar  day of spring, the main body of the ‘clean up” troops arrived, coasting in on mild temperatures.  If they’re youngsters making their first spring foray into this valley, they’re in for a surprise.  As are the trees……..

Swaddled in their soft, gauzy mantles of opalescent greens, diaphanous whites, and subtle pinks, the trees and other desert foliage are a Monet palette against the monochromatic tones of the bare hills surrounding the valley, providing flocks of newly arrived birds a stage on which to perform their best warbling… or, perches for the hawks, owls and occasional eagle from which to launch their sorties against the scurrying members of the animal kingdom. Grass and alfalfa fields, sporting new halos of emerald, are the playgrounds for the the newly arrived lambs and calves that “pop” and hopscotch through warm sunshine. Poor babies……poor trees….poor plants……

The latest zephyr is howling down my chimney. The snow level is predicted to be at four thousand feet. The buzzards are grounded, the blossoms are littering the skyways, the birds are not singing, the babies are huddled against their mommas, and I think this calls for a stiff shot of hot chocolate.  Our Sierra spring has begun.




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Suicidal Jackrabbits.

“Hit’em! Hit ’em! You’re SUPPOSED to!  THAT’S what they want!”  Admittedly, they do have an uncanny knack for jumping out of the sage and chaparral at just the precise SECOND one’s thousands of pounds of vehicle is hurtling along at warp speed in the waning light of a desert sunset. Lack of light, still shimmering heat waves and the camouflaging color of asphalt make it darn near impossible to see their furry, sprinting forms as they fling themselves out onto the roadway, gleefully hightailing it down the center of YOUR lane, occasionally looking back to see if you’re still giving chase.

Now, the driver of the mostly plastic, rubber and a bit of steel rocket ship known as a car, or truck, must make a hasty decision: 1) stomp on the brakes with the might of Hercules, sending kids, dogs, groceries and loose teeth fillings into the windsheild, 2) launch a couple of tons of car and occupants into the sand and desert peach off the right side of the highway, or 3) swerve into the opposite lane and pray to God the opposite lane remains free of oncoming eighteen wheelers. Those choices assume one is concerned with the jack rabbit’s life.  I am.

My friend, however,  was offering a fourth alternative, loosely based on his beliefs about the rabbits’ intentions…..just run over them, period. He pointed out how once they leap out in front of the car, they continue hopping and skipping down the center of the lane, in front of the car, truck, bicycle, (I once squashed a hapless little ground squirrel with my Schwinn, but, darn it, he “jack rabbited” me!), or any moving object with a velocity greater than rollerblades, although, I have seen some wannabe-NASCAR- racers on THOSE things, too!  The jack rabbits’ zigging and zagging add to the adventure in avoidance since you never know where they’re going to be ….directly attached to your front bumper, off the left side tire, back to the right side door, somewhere under the car, hanging off the tailpipe……it’s wicked difficult to guess where they are. ” Watch,” my friend said, ” they’ll even look back to make sure you’re still following them!”  He was right! For a nano-second, the whites of their eyes are visible over their bunny shoulders,  then the rabbit rocket boosters are engaged and they’re gone in a “Hi-Ho, Silver, Away!” burst of speed.

“If they’re moving that fast,” I asked my friend, “how can you possibly say they want to be hit?”

“Well, just look at all the fur patches on any stretch of highway,” he replied. “We know they’re fast enough, and certainly agile enough, to avoid becoming buzzard buffets, but they choose to shuck, dive and dodge until a driver has no other option but to nail ’em!” Could be he had something there, as I have counted as many as fifteen furry little carcasses on a one mile stretch of roadway, all in different phases of “hit-dom,” from the “well picked over by buzzards and crows” to the ” VERY recently suicided” stages.

Truly, I never did subscribe to Bart’s theory about the rabbits’ desire for”suicide by vehicle,” but having recently returned from a trip to the “gates of hell,” (AKA: southern California freeways!),  I believe the rabbits have taken to driving cars!  Not content to simply sprint down relatively obscure rural lanes under their own piston power, jolting unwary drivers out of driving induced comas, they went out and got their drivers licenses!

Carefully maneuvering my way down El Cajon Pass with a full size pick-up, pulling a 2 horse trailer, it occurred to me that the rabbits were whizzing past me at speeds that were better suited for rocket launches. I, myself, was already speeding, doing better than ten miles per hour over the posted limit for vehicles towing anything!  For one daredevil, nano-second, I took my eyes off these whizzing rabbits, to glance at an upcoming sign:  Auto Club Speedway.  “Ah HA,” I thought. “THAT explains everything!  I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere and I’ve ended up on the Nascar Speedway!”  Briefly, I wondered why huge, thundering eighteen wheelers would be on a speedway, but upon further reflection, it made perfect sense!  This was, after all, a southern California “speedway,” albeit one with 62 lanes!

The closer I got to Temecula, my ultimate destination, it FINALLY dawned on me that these shiny chrome and steel, zigzagging, lane hopping, (turn signals are used randomly to 1] prove a car has them, or  2] to signal a left turn by blinking “right”,  3] blinking, then doing absolutely nothing, or 4] doing all three in rapid succession!),  brake stomping,  finger waving, lip flapping, (Oooooh, YES!  Got some lessons in lip reading,too!), accelerator smashing macaroons,  (Thank you, Bugs Bunny, for that vastly useful term!),  actually wanted to be HIT!  HELLO!  Their appearance was somewhat altered, but, there they were….JACKRABBITS!!  I WANTED TO OBLIGE THEM!

Amazingly, a jack rabbit’s size does NOT matter on a southern California speedway………er, freeway.  Speed, frenzy, mayhem and perhaps a pistol waved out of the window will get any driver where they want to be…… most likely six lanes over from where they are….. with only ten feet to make the change!  I couldn’t reach my derringer……….didn’t DARE take my eyes off those fifteen cars thundering neck and neck just inches from my passenger door, nor my hands off the steering wheel, long enough to try and shoot someone, anyway.

When I finally headed back north, reaching the Highway 395 turn-off that would take me home, I wanted to get out and kiss the sign, but the billion or so jack rabbit powered cars and trucks  still on my tailpipe, back bumper,  doors and rear tires, all  vying for a “suicide” position ,prevented me from doing so. Passing on the outskirts of Victorville, a once beautiful little town that I had lived in, those pesky car rabbits were STILL trying to get me to run over their tailpipes!  I wasn’t about to jeopardize, nor terrorize any further, the horse I was trailering home.  I simply pulled over and had a stiff shot of milkshake……Forty million calories of “calm down!”  But, darn it, those “rabbits” drove me to it!

Once home, I reflected on the similarities of the northern Nevada jack rabbits, and the southern California type…..the desire for speed, the need to knit themselves and others into a string of mayhem on the highway…….. and concluded that both types are just nuts, either lacking, or having too much of,  some brain chemistry that pushes them to the edge of group chaos.  The main difference I discovered is that I really, REALLY do NOT want to hit the NEVADA rabbits. I’m quite certain that my friend, Bart, long deceased, would now feel the same way!

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It’s Officially Spring…….Winter Has Finally Arrived!

Welcome to Nevada!

I’m often asked by friends, family and acquaintances who have never visited our stunningly beautiful and diverse state if we have the standard four seasons. “Yes,” I assure them, “we do…..usually within the same day.”  Last week, the final week of winter, the temps approached 70 degrees; two days later, the official start of Spring, we were firing up the wood stove again.

In the past year, I have traded “California dreamin’,” (in reality, more like “Nightmare on Elm Street!), for a new life in Nevada, where, in retrospect, I should have remained 37 years ago. Seeing as how the “trading places” involves a move of only about 35 miles, the weather patterns haven’t altered all that much from state to state.  The mountains surrounding my new home of Smith Valley do nothing to stop those hurricane zephyrs that flatten trees, flip 18 wheelers and cause migrating birds to cancel their flight plans. It may pour sunshine one day, then send us scurrying to frantically retrieve our snow boots that we slung so unceremoniously, and quite happily,  into the depths of basements and closets just hours previously.

Some other signs of a Nevada spring, regardless of the weather conditions, are immutable;  the robins dancing around on my lawn, eagerly awaiting the birth of all the fruit they will gobble  from my recently acquired cherry trees;  the somnolent humming of bees in the newly flowered apricot and plum blossoms, (which, in all likelihood, will be devoured next week by the biggest blizzard of the decade! Ahhh, Nevada!); new babies of the four footed persuasion are appearing in the pastures, corrals and sheds at an ever increasing rate.  With regards to the care of livestock, the only change has been in the species that I care for……ovine instead of bovine. I am still, however, “milk wagon” for the abandoned and orphaned, only now my “parfum de jour” is lanolin and sheep poop, not molasses and calf scours. Never having been a “fashion plate,” even during the heady days of youth, my attire of choice hasn’t changed, either. No matter the weather, I am attired in jeans, tee- or sweatshirt and boots, all of which, as usual, are festooned with hay and straw, sprinkled with dust and chaff, liberally laced with an assortment of fur, hair and wool.

Today, as it turns out, was a beautiful Nevada spring day. Anticipating that this will not be the case in probably another 72 hours, or so, I enjoyed it immensely by walking, then going to groom three heavily shedding horses, so one must disregard my newly acquired nose hairs.

As ever, from California to Nevada, the surest sign of  Spring in this part of the country is the arrival of those buzzards!!  Yep…..they’re baaaaaaaaaaack!  We may be under four feet of snow in two days, but if those buzzards are sitting in the trees, then ,  it’s definitely springtime in Nevada, no matter what the weatherman says!!!!  Welcome to Nevada….I know I’m happy to be here!!!

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Cosmic Boxes and Karmaic Wrapping….Fat Thighs, Liars, Whores and Hypocrites

Once-upon-a-time,  I sat on a Black Widow spider. Obviously, it  wasn’t something I intended to do, but I was in that semi-comatose state somewhere between awake and “I was abducted by aliens last night,” when I looked at the spider in the dim, early morning light of a porta-potty, and experienced the mind/body disconnect that causes one to gulp down all manner of insects drowning in glasses of water in the wee a.m. hours.  I plopped right down on top of her. Yeah, boy howdy, she bit the fire out of me. Can’t blame her…..she was minding her own business when she met a most undignified end……death by fat-ass. Truth to tell, the bite itself was unremarkable……I’ve had mosquitos chomp on me with more vampiric ferocity……. and the results of the bite were greatly negated by the fat trapped in my right thigh. According to the young, emergency room doctor, the  “adipose layer” prevented the poison from entering the muscle and bloodstream, causing nothing more than mild, flu-like symptoms, a strange facial rash, and a thigh that pulsed as red and fiery as a Hawaiian volcano. Never in my entire life would I have thought I’d shout, “Hallelujah, praise the Lord! Thank You for my FAT THIGHS!” Who knew they’d actually come in handy one day?

I have come to realize that we receive a variety of “gifts” from……….wherever, and whomever… of the universe, of the “cosmos,” of God, or some other powerful, potentially divine force, of karma. Many of these “gifts” are unrecognizable as such, (fat thighs!), since they may arrive disguised as illnesses and injuries, betrayals and losses.

My mother’s wish to escape a life of loneliness, living like a hillbilly troglodyte in a nearly 10,000sq. foot house, with a dozen or so greedy raccoons for tea and friendship, was answered when she suffered a stroke in March of 2012.  She spent several weeks in a hospital setting, surrounded by all manner of medical personnel. No time for loneliness in a 24 hour nursing facility where your every breath, twitch and eyeblink are monitored.  And nothing fosters friendliness more quickly than  having a total stranger wiping one’s butt. Mom now lives with my sister, my sister’s fiance, and a host of “angels” that show up to “senior sit” while my sister works, or when she and her fiance need a “get away” to unscramble their brains. My mother asked, and prayed for, release from loneliness. She received it, and now wants to give it back! I told her she couldn’t, and the only way she would get over her hyper-critical self-imagery would be to accept the situation in its entirety. The stroke, or rather, the “cosmic box,” housed her freedom from self-imposed solitary confinement, and the “karmaic wrappings” of vanity and pride have been stripped away, (Remember; “stranger wiping your butt!”), allowing her the opportunity to see the true insignificance of those self inflicted preoccupations.

It has taken me a great many years to finally even acknowledge my boxes of God given, cosmic offerings. One, in particular, stuffed full with  a slick, accomplished liar, has taken me 36 years to accept and open. This present was, surprisingly, bestowed upon me by a  whore, wrapped in flimsy layers of friendship. This tramp and my hopefully SOON to be ex-husband had been carrying on a skillfully deceptive affair for years, complete with an arsenal of hidden phones, (enough to open their own “Mom and Pop” cellphone business!), and secret bank accounts, before she decided to expose the double treachery. (I really need to get a bottle of wine, get drunk, and write a soap opera!) But, those wrappings have long since been ripped away, discarded, and other “gifts” have arrived in assorted guises.

One of the best, and more cleverly wrapped gifts, was the hypocrisy of an alleged friend. I had been warned years earlier by another acquaintance that THIS particular gift would be unwrapped in a most unpleasant manner, and that prediction proved true. Ironically, it was this pretender, so cunningly disguised as a friend, who originally had preached long and eloquently about “men’s nature” and their “need to cheat,” about “accepting, letting go.” So, as soon as the wrappings of friendship fell away, and the gifts of affectation, deceit and collusion revealed,  I felt nothing but ……..well, nothing.  I can remember hanging up the phone, shrugging, and thinking, “Oh, well. I’m glad that’s over,” in part because I had seen the impending delivery of THIS “box” a couple of months earlier when a member of this hypocrite’s family had conspired to further embarrass and cause me pain by making her own “run” at my husband.  These “gifts” have been examined and dumped with a sigh of relief. I have come to realize that none of these people were ever worthy of my love, loyalty and friendship.  Indeed, wonderful gifts to have accepted and opened, as they have facilitated my escape from worthless relationships, and false camaraderie.

It would be interesting, however, to be around when the  tramp discovers that  HER gift from one of the above mentioned hypocrites and faithless husband is the exact same gift that she handed me. Re-gifting at its finest!  I’m sorry I won’t be there to witness the tearing of the karmaic wrappings, the ripping open of the “gift,” as well as her heart, and the ultimate discovery of HER God sent offerings of betrayal and humiliation. “Hubby,” in turn, might do well to seek out and sit on his own Black Widow…..I suspect it will be a lot less painful than what follows the unwrapping of his cosmic boxes!

I would like to say “thank you” to the liar, the whore, (there is actually more than one, but I’ll let them each believe they’re “the one!”), and the hypocrite for their communal gift of liberation.  As for being appreciative of my fat thighs……………………………meh.

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If Your Kids Wear Masks, Expect a Call……

I imagine parents dread receiving phone calls that begin with, “Mr./Mrs. So ‘n So, this is the principal/police/FBI (choose one…or all),  and we have your son/daughter (insert name or names) in custody. Would you come to the school/the station/Quantico, please?”  The phone calls I received shortly after the raccoons moved in always began with, “Do you know what your raccoons have done now?!”  Or, “Your raccoons..!” As if I was solely responsible for the existence and behaviors of these three, masked juvenile delinquents of the “wild kingdom.”

These indignant calls always came from my 86 year old mother-in-law’s companion, Bryan. Seems the “kids” would just hike themselves up the stairs leading into their over-the-garage apartment and make themselves at home in the kitchen, bathroom or bedroom. The first time Bryan encountered them, he thought they were badgers!  At 2a.m., he could be forgiven that little mistake, but I did point out to him that I didn’t think badgers ran in packs. And I wasn’t at all sure badgers had the where-with-all to open a closed pantry door to get to the cat kibble and cream of chicken soup. Nor did they sit in a sink full of  supper dishes while fishing in the utensils drawer for a corkscrew or soup spoon. The garbage bag….well, I suppose badgers could have spread those contents around the apartment just as well as the ‘coon kids did. However, I am fairly certain badgers wouldn’t have shown the same dedication and dexterity in making sure the kleenex and other paper products from the bathroom were as diligently and finely shredded as the masked gremlins did.  The three showed a special talent for raccoon origami, and they created their “artwork” at every chance they got, decorating whosever house they were in with little, itty-bitty bits of tissue stuck everywhere, clinging to the rugs, chairs and bedding. The rooms resembled the aftermath of a New York ticker tape parade, and took just about as long to clean up.

On several occasions, even though they weren’t physically in residence, it was obvious the clan had been visiting;  both of my mom-in-law’s cats looked as if someone had plugged them into an electrical outlet, and their eyes were the size of hubcaps on a full size pickup. It was darn near impossible to get them to budge from their hidey holes, be they curtain rods, ceiling fan or dresser drawers, after the clandestine visits, and they remained in a zombie like state for quite some time, taking as long as a half an hour to move a single paw, all the while doing a slow scan of the room with wide, bulging eyes.

Bryan, being a sound sleeper, missed one late night invasion and was awakened from a midnight snooze in front of the television  by my mom-in-law frantically calling his name as she cautiously backed away from the bedroom door. “Look! Look! On the b-b-b-bed!” Yep….there was one of my “masked kids,” sprawled amongst the pillows and flowered comforter,  staring back at them, probably considering doing a little more origami with the soft blankets he was gently fondling.  A broom thrust at him and some shouting sent him waddling (not quickly I was told!) out of the room and down the stairs, snuffling and grumbling.  The whereabouts of the other two was never determined, but since the cats didn’t maintain their “high fluff” status for the remainder of the night, all involved decided the other siblings hadn’t made it to this particular slumber party.  Following this latest visit, Bryan thought it would be best if the downstairs door, which was routinely  left open to accommodate the cats’ nocturnal goings and comings, was shut……tightly.

We know what masked kids can do with those little opposable thumb hands. Which is why I always check to see if my car keys are hanging where they should be….I don’t know if they can drive a stick shift, but…… just in case, I’m not taking any unnecessary chances.                                 

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