Tuesday, February 5, 2019

It's Like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom Around Here!

Critters all around us!

I live in a small, rural New England town, and love that I randomly encounter what I would call woodland wildlife.  Over the years, I have seen everything from Fisher Cats to Coyotes, flocks of wild turkeys to clusters of deer casually grazing my bushes, hawks, doves and owls, and even a Bald Eagle.  Well, the other day I saw a fox, Super Bowl Sunday, actually.  I was sipping my morning coffee, contemplating a Patriots Victory and watched as a small red fox trotted on by in the thicketed, brushy area that runs along my back yard.  This little fella was just ambling through with no particular place to go, fox business I presume.  And then it was gone, around the hill and on its way.  This brought a smile to my face, because it reminded me of the story of the fox and heron.

Once upon a time, on the same warm day in early spring,  I was sitting by the front of the house in an Adirondack Chair I built myself (swelling with pride, as I type).  I was reading a book (yes an actual book), and caught a fleeting glimpse of movement  down the driveway, towards the road.  As I glanced up, way down by the end of the driveway, and it's a long way for these tired eyes - even after LASIK!, as I glanced up, I saw two fox pups playing and cavorting on the blacktop.  They would take turns jumping on each other, falling over, laying there resting, then doing it all again.  I mean this went on for a while, longer than you would think, and I had a front row seat (or more accurately, a nose-bleed row seat) to nature's little moment of joy.  There they were, not a care in the world.  At some point they moved on and departed the driveway and were off back into the woods.

Fast forward to later that day, the weather changed as clouds moved in to overcast.  The light was weird, you know that glowing, yellow type of light just before the thunder storm rolls in.  I was standing at the door, looking at the clouds and a Great Blue Heron lands right in the front yard a few dozen yards from the house.  It was focused on something.  As it happened, I have a tree in my yard, and it was between me and heron, so I slowly walked out of the house and towards this very large bird.  As I stop behind the tree, the heron flashes its head down toward the ground, like one of the coming lightening bolts and grabs a chipmunk faster than one can blink.  Quick as that, it tosses its prize ever so slightly and swallows it whole - all right before my unbelieving eyes!  This majestic bird then walks, not flies, to the side of my yard and from a standing start, and with seemingly no effort at all, jumps to the top of a an 8 foot fence, then takes off and is gone!  True story.

Believe it or not, I have other animal stories, but maybe I'll save those for a rainy day.

PS: For all those youngsters who may not know the reference in the Title, here you go:

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Friends In Need!

You Know Who You Are!

We all have go-to buddies.  Those peole in life who just always seem to have the right tool you can borrow or the time to do the thing that needs doing.  I try to live by the old credo, a friend in need, is a friend indeed.  I always help people where I can, and I will research what I need to research, call whomever I have to call, drive to your house and help you if I can.  But I always seem to be the one in need with one particular friend - call him Bob.

Bob made me smile today.  Let's join our story, already in progress.... BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, goes the same damn smoke detector that goes off every time!  I mean I have not even had a chance to have my morning coffee!  Wife safe, Check; kids not home, Check; dog safe, Check; survey the house, attic to basement, no smoke, no fire, Check....BEEP, BEEP, BEEP! 

OK, get the broom, wave vigorously below the faulty smoke detector.  Did I mention the one smoke detector that always goes off is at the very top of the cathedral ceiling in my living room!  I mean way up there.  I can't even knock the thing down with the broom over my head, arms fully extended, hence the vigorous waving of the broom, which seems to clear it, as it has done many times in the past.

Now me and this rogue smoke detector go way back.  It's a sneaky little #^&#@(($#$ (rhymes with hastard!).  Does it go off when we light the fire place, noooo (drawn out for effect), does it go off when my wife lights every candle we own (and there are a lot of them, but that's another story), noooo, does it go off when we blow out a dozen or so candles all at once (picture a plume of smoke rising, as if from a volcano), nope!  But try and cook some pancakes (in a completely different room!) without useing exhaust fan, and Beep, Beep, Beep!  the thing is out to ruin me!.

So the vigorous broom waiving continues, because I know from experience with this possessed smoke detector that waving the broom, vigorously, will clear the alarm.  But not on this day!  Today we go to war!  The vigorous broom waiving clears the alarm, but only to give me false hope, because on this day, the alarm is raised repeatedly.  Back to Bob - remember him?

So I do what I do when I need to do it, and call Bob.  He has everything, and can fix anything.  And will help his friends with whatever they need.  This day, I needed a tall folding ladder to reach the rogue smoke detector.  Not a child's six foot folding ladder (like the one I have for putting the star on the Christmas tree - literally the only use I've gotten out of it for years), but a man's man's 12 foot folding ladder to reach for the stars!

So while asking if I can come over and grab the bigger ladder, the alarm goes off again, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!  Bob asks if that's been happening regularly and I said every time I clear it like clockwork.  He then says, I'll be right over.  So on a cold Saturday morning, my friend Bob fishes out the right size ladder and humps it to his truck (did I mention we have snow everywhere), jumps in his cold truck and drives right over, it being quicker than me going to retrieve said ladder.  We get the ladder set-up, and quick as a bunny (I just wanted to describe Bob as a bunny, I think it's funny -which also rhymes) he is up the ladder and has disconnected the offender!  He says, keep the ladder and get it back to me when you can, I have to run and help someone else.  And out the door he goes!

Bob, a veteran I served with, is that go to buddy for me.  I hope you have one too.

Oh, and the smoke detector - resisting the urge to heap violence on a piece of plastic, I blew a lot of dust out of it and swapped it for one that I know works well - all quiet on the Western Front!



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's Here!

By: Smiley Face Now

I am of course talking about the last day of school.  Putting the kids on the bus for their last day brings a smile not just to their faces, but mine as well.  It means we survived another year, the kids got a little older and more able to take care of themselves. 

I love the way my little one has come out of here shell.  She has her little friends; she jokingly teases me as much as I jokingly pretend to not understand what she is trying to tell me.  She asserts herself now.  Here is an example.  She is a peanut, reedy and skinny but can swim all day.  A year ago, she would have been visibly scared if she ended up face to face with a dog – any dog, even those she knew all her life.  Well, we got dog and that skittishness seemed to evaporate into thin air.  I told her she is the boss of the dog and she ran with it.  So much so, that the other day we were at a graduation party where the family had a large Labrador Retriever.  The dog, a friendly, gentle and good natured brute of 100+ pounds, was in heaven because people were leaving half eaten plates of food all over the yard.  Now this house had a pool and my daughter was swimming.  She saw the dog going for a plate of unattended chicken wings, knew that dogs should not eat chicken bones because they splinter very easily, and got right out of the pool, walked up right up to the dog, sternly told him NO and took the wing from his mouth and the plate from his nose.  It all happened before I could even find a place to put my plate down.  The dog licked her hand and walked off and she jumped right back into the pool.  Amazing!

I am truly blessed; both of my daughters are thriving and make me proud.  School is a positive thing in their lives and they seem to take to it naturally.  I am happy they have a break and I’m sure we will do fun things together this summer.  I am also smiling because I get 10 more minutes to sleep because my wife and I don’t have to get up quite so early to get the kids ready and all of us out the door.  Hurray for summer vacation!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Look Dad, I Can Swim

By: Smiley Face Now

One of the many joys in life happens the day you realize your kids can swim.  You no longer have to linger soggily directly at the edge of the pool or stand in cold lake water with numb feet and a sweaty brow.  You can back off just a bit, let the kids have some freedom and you can enjoy a cool drink on your lounge chair (granted, near the edge of the pool or right at the ocean’s waterline).  At some point, you are even throwing your kids into the pool or telling them to go swim (and by extension to leave you alone while you read your book).  I am happily in that magic zone.

Then I got a puppy.  Now I know intellectually that dogs can swim, but our dog had not ever had the chance yet and I was a mixture of concerned curiosity as to how the first time would go.  I envisioned a planned event with me right there, knee deep in some cold body of water, and the dog would happily splash in and start swimming.  Well that’s not how it turned out – never does.

It had been raining for two days straight with four more days of light to heavy rain forecast.  I had been lazy and not been down to our little boat at the local marina for the first few days of rain.  I also had not put the boat cover on the boat and had reached the point where the gnawing pressure of responsibility overpowered my natural inclination to blow it off.  So, grab the dog and off we go for a quick trip down the road to the marina.  Now it was not raining when I left the house, and was drizzling a bit when I parked at the marina, but the dog and I got out and headed down the dock with all intention of this being a quick, 1-2-3 trip.  By the time I get to the boat, it is raining.  The dog does not want to get into the boat and I don’t want to fight about it, so I tied her off to a cleat and went onboard.  Now this is a small boat with no cabin so setting up the cover is a simple thing, but there is one part where I usually stick my head under the canvas cover to stick a support pole in the right spot.  As I am under the cover fiddling with the pole, I hear a strange sound, not the ever increasing rain hitting the canvas.  It was more of a slow thump, thump, and thump.

I lifted my head up and in the now pouring rain realize no dog.  I climbed onto the dock and found her swimming between another boat and the dock where I had tied her off.  Luckily the current was slack and she was not pushed under the dock or between the boat and the dock to be smushed.  So I run over and grab her by the collar and yank het out of the water.  So now the dog is looking at me drenched and standing in the rain as if to say, “This was fun, do you have any other bright ideas?” 

As I drove home with the now sodden and wet dog smelly pooch in the back, I smiled as I realized of course she can swim and she didn’t need me to be there to hold her leash – just like the kids.