Chews Wisely

Chewing gum has been an obsession of mine since my days of youth. Give me a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boy mystery along with a Wrigley’s 12-pack of peppermint gum, and I would disappear for hours on end book in hand and gum within reach. One at a time or sometimes two or three, I would chew each piece until the flavor had dissipated. A 12-pack never lasted long with me.

Not much has changed over the years although I have flirted with other brands and entertained brief affairs with Bazooka, Chiclets, Blow Pops, and even the squirt in your mouth Freshen Up. Nevertheless, my gum of choice for both its ease of chewing, flavor consistency, and sweetness longevity is Freedent.

Freedent was not what I was chewing when disaster struck. The fluorescent green sugar free confection Spearmint Extra had caught my fancy. It lured me away from my chew of choice and came to play a key role in one of life’s “Uh Oh” moments. Who’s to say whether the damage that ensued could have been prevented with the “won’t stick to your dental work” brand. Since no dental work was involved in the incident, I seriously doubt it.

I have many quirks, most for which I make no apology. I like the edges of chocolate chip cookies but not the middle. I like the flavor of cherry pie but not the cherries. Moreover, I rarely turn the bathroom light on when entering for a brief “This will only take a second.” interlude. Why bother? It seems like such a wasted motion.

And so it is that, under the cover of darkness, disaster struck. Now before I continue let me say that I know one should not flush gum down the toilet. The careless and hapless act carried out while I was seated has not been repeated since. Not because I am convinced that it “gums up the works,” but because of what happened next.

I failed to notice that the wad of gum had hit the rim of the toilet seat. It bounced not into the toilet or onto the floor. No, in a feat of masterful flight, it landed on the inner crotch of my slacks where it would remain for the better part of the next two hours.

So imagine my shock and horror when, undressing for bed that evening, I notice a long fluorescent string of gum securely joined to my undergarment and inner thighs and stretching unbroken to the floor where my slacks rested around my ankles.

I’m not quite sure how to spell the sound that emanated from my lips. It was a cross between a yelp and a scream and continued well throughout the extrication process. I’ve since ended my brief affair with Extra Sugar Free Gum but I cannot spy a pack without recalling the rim shot that ended badly.

Eggs Anyone

Those of you who know me well recognize that I am not only capable of great compassion and deep empathy but, beneath my rough-edged exterior, possess the capacity to nurture my closest friends over some of life’s inevitable bumps. And so it is that I recently found myself faced with the true test of friendship–and failed–miserably, I might add. In order to measure how truly my character was compromised and whether the subsequent shame was warranted, you must first familiarize yourself with the circumstances surrounding my test. Enter one accomplished tennis player (Karen) and one overly eager tennis novice (myself).

The week of June 22nd had literally proven to be the first rain free stretch of 2003. With rackets in hand, Karen and I headed to the nearby tennis court to see just how rusty we had become. After all, it had been nearly a year since we had stood on opposing sides of the net, and the last exchange of balls had resulted in a badly sprained ligament and bruised ego. But my lack of skill, child’s racket and memory of weeks with a limp was not about to dampen my spirit. One ball after another sailed through the air, over the net, and into the corner of the tennis court where overgrown bushes, vines and weeds had taken up permanent residence. Some 20 minutes and 6 lost tennis balls later, Karen and I declared the end of our inaugural game of the season, and headed back to the house via the adjacent subdivision where a couple of my errant balls had landed. We pledged that within 24 hours we would be back on the court, I with more tennis balls and Karen with hedge clippers.

The following day, determined that none of our tennis balls would again become lost in the jungle of overgrowth, Karen took hedge clippers in hand and annihilated anything that dared breech the barrier of the chain link fence. It was a proud moment indeed as she tossed vines over the fence assuring us both of a leaf free playing field. The area in which my cross-court tennis balls always seemed to land had been cleared. But lost tennis balls were soon to be the least of Karen’s worries. The lamentable, horrible, and inexorable spread of urushiol oil, better known as poison ivy, began slowly–imperceptibly, at first. Wednesday’s rash hinted at a mild, manageable case easily tamed by a bottle or two of calamine lotion. But by Friday, Karen’s circumstances had changed considerably. And herein enters the food particles that compromised my character and will forever condemn my mouth as a deadly weapon.

Arising at the usual hour that Friday morning, I went about my daily ritual. I was surprised that Karen had not yet stirred but her well being took second place to my need to alleviate unrelenting hunger pangs. One skillet, two eggs, a slice of ham and multiple cubes of cheese later, I with a plump, steaming hot omelet on my plate could no longer leave my friend’s slumber undisturbed. The door to Karen’s room was ajar and she appeared to be breathing, but her silhouette seemed to be oddly if not grossly out of proportion–enough at least to cause me some concern.

“Karen, are you all right?”

She rose up slightly from her pillow, and it was then that I realized her profile was compromised by the large bath towel wrapped completely around her face. Only Karen’s lips protruded from beneath the towel; two big puffy lips seemingly enhanced during the night with botox. Bags of melted ice scattered about Karen’s bed should have hinted at the depth of the horror lurking beneath the towel. I didn’t know what Karen was about to reveal and had I a hint, I would not have chosen that moment to take a very large bite of my ham and cheese omelet.

Then IT happened. As the towel fell to the bed in a sodden lump, I was suddenly face to face with a moon-shaped object three times its normal circumference and slits where the blue eyes once had shown bright. It was at this moment of revelation that my partly chewed mouthful began making its way with rocket-like speed across the length of the room. My partially chewed mouthful of omelet had become a dangerous projectile over which I had no control. A confusing mixture of sympathy and shock tempered by the predominating response–a large guffaw at a very high decibel–had raced from brain to egg-filled mouth. With ham now in her hair, cheese hanging from her earlobe and egg spotting her very swollen face, Karen did the only thing she could do. She sighed deeply, thanked me for my concern and recovered her face with the wet towel.

Now lest you think I am an insensitive being, I did recover my wits long enough to rush Karen to the doctor, egg and all! A round of steroids, various ointments, many ice packs and several meals of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia later (Karen claimed it was the only thing that would go down) (I was in no position to argue), “Elephant Girl” is finally on the mend. It seems that the affliction was systemic, caused by her weedwacking zeal, unwitting exposure, the efficacy of a sweat inducing tennis game and the subsequent lack of immediate treatment.

My rent has gone up only slightly despite the fact that Karen has declared I am a menace not only to myself but to others. I’m also eating alone these days and forbidden from partaking of a meal anywhere other than the kitchen. I figure it’s a small price to pay for a roof over my head and the forgiveness of a friend.

Pissy Opossum

Sunday salutations from Charlottesville where May has arrived bringing with it a colorful array of feathers and one very pissy opossum. As I enter the six month of a now planned nine month sabbatical, I am amazed not only by the passing of time but of the wonders of nature that continue to unfold just outside my window.

The Gold Finches were the first to arrive alighting on the tube feeders filled with thistle and jostling among 20 or so others of the same species for a perch from which to feed! The bright yellow hue of the males and pale green coloring of the females make them a delightful vision as one awakens in the early morning hours. Not to be outshined, two Cardinal couples soon followed in a blaze of red. Then came the regal Blue Jays in triplicate announcing their presence with a piercing call!

Regular feedings have become part of my daily ritual and new sightings send me rushing to Karen’s office to announce the arrival of a humming bird, blue bunting, and most recently two mountain blue birds. My love for photography and newly discovered passion for birds has resulted in a photographic series I call Bird Butts! It started with a Mourning Dove warming its rear on my skylight and was followed by a Gold Finch that elected to take a mid-morning siesta while plastered to the window screen. I tend to think the finch actually got tipsy on Hummingbird nectar and couldn’t make it to a nearby tree.

Among my finely feathered friends, there is the occasional bird that defies explanation! Karen assures me that in the animal kingdom cross breeding does not occur. I am certain she is wrong and a Mourning Dove I have come to call Mohawk is proof. The dark patch of hair standing tall upon his head distinguishes him from his colleagues, who seem not to have noticed that he is an oddity among their breed. Careful observation has ruled out injury or the outgrowth of a tumor and, thus, I can only surmise that his mother had an affair with a Belted Kingfisher.

Fur not feathers fill my nights. As a youth, romanticized images of cool summer nights spent sleeping on a screened in porch filled my daydreams. So it is that I decided to fall asleep with the patio doors open and a floral scented breeze rustling the hairs on my head. Today was not the first morning I have awakened just shy of 2:00 a.m. and usually a bit of television soon has me back in a state of slumber. Reaching for the remote control, I suddenly realized that an un-birdlike creature was stealthily making its way across the deck banister. Quickly, my mind processed the silhouette … too small to be a bear … too tall to be a raccoon … tail too thin to be a skunk … head too pointy to be a cat. I jumped to me feet and snapped on the deck light. Gadzooks, a opossum!

My scream of, “Karen wake up … come quick.” failed to faze the opossum, who continued munching quietly on the bird berries and nuts with only an occasional sniff of the wind. I knew this creature well. It had been the bane of my existence in Redlands where a opossum couplet I came to call Miss Piss and Baby Piss Off had claimed the underside of my bungalow as opossum territory. As if the constant smell of a litter box gone bad was not enough, sounds of a construction project occurring within the walls of my bungalow nightly disturbed my sleep. The final straw, however, was a flea infestation. As Karen stumbled sleepily into the solarium and eyed the stupendous creature with a tail that seemed to reach to the stars, we stared at each other in utter disbelief. I was opossum jinxed! Bird magnet or not, I had lured evil into our very presence.

Daylight has now come and the yellow eyed creature with razor like teeth has taken leave. Today will find me locked safely indoors with a thick partition of glass separating me from God’s creatures. My romanticized daydreams of screened porches are no more, and it shall be a day or two before I fall asleep without the outdoor deck brightly lit. In the meantime, I’m admiring the birds from afar and keeping a watchful eye out for evil on four legs.       

Stop, Drop, and Roll

I admit it.  I am blessed! 

Despite my genuine dissatisfaction with my general proportions, there are a few of my particulars with which I’m more than satisfied.  My eye lashes are long and thick.  My hair is full bodied and manageable.  And, in spite of the fact that they are attached to some rather short and pudgy fingers, my nails are stand outs!  Quick to grow and able to withstand most of the daily challenges that threaten both length and longevity, they are a pride and joy.   Others in the household, however, are not so blessed. 

And so it was that on a recent trip to the drugstore my roommate decided to purchase a full set of nails more fabulous than the one’s I had received by birthright.  French manicure extensions to be exact.  It was love at first sight.  Why hadn’t she thought of this before?  Yes, they would require care and perhaps even a lifestyle adjustment.  After all, her nails could no longer be considered tools.  No scraping, screwing, tapping, picking, or flicking!  These nails were for looking good and look good they did.  At least, that is, until the fire. 

I was not witness to the unfortunate turn of events.  I didn’t smell smoke nor did I see the flame.  Apparently, however, there had been no need to STOP, DROP AND ROLL.  The index finger fire, which occurred while lighting a candle, had done little more than badly color a once beautifully white tipped acrylic extension.  The perfect nails had lasted less than three days.     The fire was soon followed by an escape.  My roommate spotted the detached acrylic extension on the solarium tile floor.  Can you blame the poor thing?  If I’d seen my neighbor go up in flames, I’d make a break for it to.  With some spray glue and a strategically placed band aid, she reapplied the nail and made it through a Sunday church service with the extensions still in place.  Nevertheless, one by one, the nails leapt to their death. 

Before week’s end all nail extensions had been removed and my roommate was bemoaning the now ragged and weakened remains of her finger nails. I offered to share my nail buff and in a true gesture of friendship broke two of my own nails.   I don’t yet know whether my roommate will give the nail extensions one more try but in the meantime I’m pricing fire extinguishers.

Holiday Trimmings

It is day one of the new year, and I’ve just returned from five blissful days on the southeastern coast where a stay at Darlings by the Sea accommodated both my luxurious taste and meager budget. The pristine and almost un-populated beaches provided the backdrop for Frisbee, long walks (at least, on Karen’s part), pipe smoking, competitive scrabble, dolphin observation and the occasional feeding of seagulls. The weather was glorious … sunny skies and light breezes.

My failure to apply sunscreen resulted in a cherry red face with two stylishly white polygons where my sunglasses had protected my vision from the glaring sun! Lest envy become a byproduct of this E-mail, let me just say that the combination of said sunburn and an unintended ‘new’ hair style left me looking a bit freakish. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that children were terrified, but I did get some odd looks and a giggle or two.

It happened only two hours before we were to join other travelers on the highways and byways for our trip south. I was up before sunrise. There were suitcases to pack, bank deposits to make, packages to mail and a picnic basket to fill. And let us not forget that there was the loading of Karen’s tiny Honda Insight that somehow must accommodate two large suitcases, one medium sized carryon, a camera case, a duffel bag filled with gifts, the food hamper, a cooler of soft drinks and a sports bag brimming with beach paraphernalia. We had to be on the road by 10:30 a.m.! My itinerary was firm. Yet my attempt to save money by deferring a much needed haircut had left me in urgent need of a trim. My once exacting and sleek hairlines now twisted and curved into grotesque shapes that refused to be tamed by even the strongest of palmades. What was a girl to do?

Karen was protesting furiously as I wrapped a towel around my shoulders and handed her the newly purchased GE Hair Trimmer. “I don’t think this is a good idea.” She said. But I wasn’t to be derailed from my plan of action. A half inch off the back to eliminate the wiggish look and a tidying up of the nape area was just the beginning. I had plans for the front as well. A trimming of the bangs and elimination of the over-the-ear hair growth would just about do the trick. Karen, however, was standing firm. “I’ll touch up the back but I refuse to trim the front. It’s a dangerous proposition and I’ll have no part in it.”

With the backside head hairs trimmed, I reclaimed the clippers from Karen. A promise to be careful accompanied her departure. Unable to decipher the correct way to apply the clipper prongs regulating the length of cut, I took the trimmer in hand and placed the fully exposed teeth against the base of my ear. It was at this very moment that things went wrong. Very, very, wrong. I swear to you that the clippers took on a life of their own as they progressed quickly above the ear sheering off four inches of hair in a two inch diameter in a matter of seconds. There are moments in one’s life when time stands still and the lens of the camera zooms in to capture the intensity of the moment. My lips moved in slow motion and the profanity that escaped would have sent my mother scurrying for a bar of soap with which to wash out my mouth. The profanity was quickly followed by a Charlie Brown AAAAAaaaaaahhhhhgggg! There was no time for thought or action. Karen’s quick knock on the door was followed by her entrance. The look on her face said it all as did her subsequent 20 minutes of helpless tears and laughter.

As for the bald spots, they are the unfortunate byproduct of misplaced confidence in my own abilities. And there are two … one by mistake and the other to even up both sides. The money I saved on a haircut had to be invested in hats, scarves and an extra eyebrow pencil to shade in the patches of missing hair. The past 10 days have found me attempting to pull strands from the back of my head forward to cover my bare spots. I’ve made up plenty of stories to explain the bald patches (shaved to accommodate stitches, lost a bet, radiation treatments, extra in a Frankenstein movie, etc.). I don’t think it would much matter if it weren’t for the fact that I am overcompensating by drawing on bigger lips and bushier eyebrows.In spite of or perhaps because of my misplaced confidence … (do I dare reference the slippery slope gardening or geese episodes) … 2002 has been a memorable year. I don’t know what the new year shall bring but one thing is for certain … the hair clippers are going in the trash and, as soon as I gather the nerve, I’m making a standing monthly appointment with my beautician.

Narcolepsy

Today, I dusted off my heels, took a lint remover to my dark linen suit and with the assistance of some “super shaper panties” squeezed my rear into a tried and true ensemble. I was looking and feeling like a million bucks. Not only that … this time I knew the drill … where to go, which elevator to take and just how to announce my presence. I’d done this before and was getting pretty good at it.

Maybe it was the alarm sounding as I entered the building or the group of staff members appearing to evacuate a distant medical wing. As I waited for the elevator doors to slide open, my casual inquiry of those appearing to flee building was met with an unnerving response. “You’re okay, it’s only our quadrant that must be vacated.” As their footsteps retreated toward salvation, I weighed my options. Having glimpsed no signs warning of nuclear hazards and smelling no smoke, I decided to take the risk.

The lonely elevator ride to the top allowed me to straighten my suit coat and wipe the perspiration from my brow. What is it they say about not letting them see you sweat? I was asked to take a seat and perused the magazine selection while the receptionist attempted to track down the Chief Operating Officer to advise him of my arrival. As is my normal custom, I had arrived early and expected there to be a brief wait. It made sense to occupy myself with a bit of reading material the choice of which might reflect greatly upon one’s perception of my professionalism. While I wanted to reach for Reader’s Digest or Southern Living, I instead feigned interest in the Journal of Cardiology and Barron’s Weekly.

He appeared out of nowhere looking like a cross between a mad scientist and a diminutive accountant. His quick steps and hunched shoulders indicated a man carrying the weight of management issues inherent to a department the nets $50m. I liked him immediately. Understanding him was a different matter. His office was small and cramped. Filing cabinets overflowed with statistical reports, bookcases were piled high with spreadsheets and the plaques on his office wall indicated 18 years of stellar service as an Operations/Financial Administrator. He clearly liked his job and his job liked him.

I took a seat at his desk (the only chair in the room) and awaited his return with a secondary rump rest. Once he was seated, I realized that yet again I was in for an unconventional interview. The bottled water and wrapped sandwich hinted at a lunch uneaten, and I became immediately concerned as I noticed a slight shaking of the hands and eyelids that drooped significantly. I continued to make eye contact, which was no small effort given that his pupils were more often than not completely obscured. I had come prepared to use the appropriate lingo and with sample spreadsheets and strategic plans in hand. I had not come prepared to play nursemaid to a diabetic or epileptic. Thank God I was in a medical center!

As our conversation progressed, it became clear that my qualifications were not in question. In fact, as I had encountered in the previous interviews, I was coming face to face with someone interested in ensuring that any concerns I might have regarding the position were addressed. The right job fit makes for happy employees or so one hopes. While this was all well and good, any hope I had in coming away with a better understanding of the organization and it’s structure were soon dashed as the man sitting across from me began to slur his words. The fact that his responses were uttered at barely an audible whisper made him all the more difficult to understand.

Throwing caution to the wind, I waited for the most appropriate moment and suggested that he should feel free to eat lunch while we chatted.

“I’ve already eaten lunch.” He said. “But thank you.”

I was dumbfounded. Was I on Candid Camera? Was the Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Internal Medicine actually planning to sleep through my interview? And if he ceased talking altogether, should I slip out of the office leaving behind a note thanking him for his time.

“I have a sleep disorder.” He remarked casually with closed eyelids. “If I cease to make sense, just nudge me awake.”

The irony of the moment was not lost on me. How long had I spent in front of the mirror ensuring my eyebrows were properly plucked, lipstick applied perfectly, nails buffed to a high shine? I had used extra starch to ensure that my linen suit looked crisp. I had even used Crest Whitening Strips to add a sparkle to my teeth. And for what? I was interviewing with a narcoleptic whose most significant sleep episodes seemed to occur between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.! When I walked away an hour later knowing little more than I did when I had arrived, I was certain of one thing … these were my kind of people. I would feel right at home.

I have yet another interview. The final I hope. I’m recycling the linen suit and hoping this time around all parties will remain awake during our session.

Perils of Gardening

It wasn’t so much the striking yellow beam of sun against a crisp blue backdrop of sky, the warm summer breeze scented of flowers or even the monumental scope of the project that would take my mind off of a job market lacking in opportunities.  No, frankly, it was my competitive spirit that kicked in three weeks ago causing me to take gloves and spade in hand determined to make our yard the prettiest on the block!  My landlord had done little if anything to maintain the flower beds since she had purchased the home two years ago.  Rose bushes had become intertwined with honeysuckle, hydrangeas had become chummy with evergreens, and the weeds … well, the weeds had grown uncontested for such a long time that I’m sure I heard them scoff as I approached. 

But how hard could it be?  After all, millions tended to their own yards never complaining of chipped nails, bug bites, or an occasional sweaty brow.  If I played my cards right, perhaps I’d even burn a calorie or two.  And so it was that in a bright white t-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes I headed into the yard just after sunrise determined to make my mark!  I had all the right tools, a long uninterrupted day and enthusiasm that would not be deterred by the heat, the stubbornness of the weeds or the animals that had gathered to watch a fine display of “Stick-to-it-iveness.”  If only I had known of the dangers that lurked ahead. 

Apart from the rash (I’m apparently allergic to pine needles) and almost poking my eye out with a stick, my ass took the worse beating of all. First, there was the less than graceful slippery slope on which my tennis shoes held no traction. The down hill bum slide wouldn’t have been much to write about except for the fact that I, in my white t-shirt and shorts, ended the slide in a pile of sticks, prickly weeds, and thorny rose bush branches.  The chatter of squirrel laughter was drowned out only by the volley of foul words that were racing quickly from my brain to my lips.  Pulling myself slowly to my knees, I made my mud encrusted way back to the point of disaster and ascertained quickly whether my return to the house could be made without encountering a neighbor, the mail carrier, or one of the painters that was hard at work on the house across the way! 

With the mud removed from my exterior parts and a fresh change of darkly colored clothes, I returned to the yard certain that disaster would not strike twice.  After all, the tennis shoes had been discarded in favor of gardening clogs and the sun now high in the sky had long ago dried the formerly dew covered grass.  With the rhythmic chirping of young cardinals accompanying my efforts, I returned to the task determined that the pain in my ass would not deter me from accomplishing what I had set out to do.  Hours passed as I worked in solitude keeping my aversion to dirt in check. Leaning back on my heels to survey my handiwork, my attention was suddenly riveted to the left where the sound of hoofs was followed by the appearance of a four-legged, white horned, black bearded creature evading capture.  I was face to face with a large goat!  Startled I lost my balance and, as the goat darted back through the hedge, I toppled over backwards. It wasn’t exactly a backwards somersault but something close to it and, in an attempt to stop my momentum, I stupidly grabbed for the trash barrel bringing it and its contents down upon me. Covered in dirt and spewing twigs and leaves from my mouth, I stared up at the clear blue sky, which earlier that day had beckoned me out of doors. 

Had I just seen a goat?  Was I flat on my back for the second time in one day?  Where did Martha Stewart get off making gardening look like so much fun?  What had I been thinking?  Like automobiles, gardens should be left to the experts.  It took a few days but I did recover from my injuries.  The rash has subsided, the bruises are gone, and there has only been one more goat sighting.  I’ve added a few gardening books to my personal library, will study up before spring rolls around again and have purchased a harness to keep me upright and safely attached to the deck. 

There have been many lessons learned this year, not the least of which is that goats and geese are to be feared.  I was later informed that the goat had escaped from a farming exhibit at the local community college.  He and his female partner were apprehended four houses down in front of a “For Rent” sign, but not before I came home one evening to find our large bird bath dry as a bone and not a morsel of food to be found in any of the recently filled bird feeders.  Seems the goats had one last feast before their capture. 

Public Copulation

I am writing to advise all of my newest career venture, the joys of which are as much a surprise to me as to you. I am now involved in the field of Real Estate Development. It all began a few weeks ago with an ad promising rich rewards and a quick return on one’s investment. Many days of prayer and long conversations with Karen followed, and soon I had decided to throw caution to the wind and make my first real estate purchase. The research was extensive. Not only was I about to spend money I didn’t have but I had convinced Karen to invest as well.

Location, location, location. We couldn’t afford much, and so we settled on a small one bedroom unit with sound structure, good ventilation and a small parcel of land. All the place needed was a good cleaning, a bit of interior decorating and we would be ready for our first set of occupants. With the purchase complete, we set about advertising for tenants. Quietly, we had decided on the criteria … young, committed couple with colorful personalities … potential friends, if you will!

I was a basket case. Charlottesville does not lack for real estate opportunities and, in the scheme of things, our offering was quite minor!  We didn’t have long to wait. Within 24 hours, the first couple arrived. But not just any couple … vocalists. We had found our tenants!  Bud and Harriet Rose, as they soon came to be called, were overjoyed!

Bud arrived first having invited Harriet Rose to join him later. She, of course, had the final say and the nervousness on Bud’s part was quite evident.  Harriet Rose took her time surveying both the interior and exterior of the property while Bud did all the talking. I waited patiently at a distance praying that they would find all to be to their liking. Then it happened. Without even a nod in my direction, they began copulating furiously on the front lawn … not once … not twice … but three times! Bluebird sex is noisy. It is passionate. It is quick!

Then it was over. The flurry of blue feathers subsided and side by side Bud and Harriet Rose returned to their new home. Harriet Rose, now impregnated, had a nest to build and Bud, who had just scored, quietly surveyed his new territory!

I spent all of Sunday observing our new Bluebird tenants having moved my computer so I could work nearby. The nest building is almost complete thanks to a scattering of dried grasses conveniently placed in the vicinity by my own hand, and I am excitedly awaiting the first of the light blue eggs to take up residence in my small parcel of real estate.

The joys of motherhood have put a lilt in my step and a permanent smile on my face. It has also put a dent in my pocketbook. Two more bluebird houses were purchased on Sunday and will arrive some time this week.

Getting Goosed

I’ve never been one to enjoy a surprise especially when it comes in the form of getting goosed! The fact that the “goosee” was less than three feet high and didn’t understand the phrase “back off” further complicated the issue as did the fact that I was on a small strip of land surrounded by water with a single bridge my only means of escape.

My first mistake was agreeing to walk. Lured by the promise of a serene lake, fresh air and a bunny rabbit or two, I could not have comprehended the dangers that lurked ahead. The lakeside walking path, just a short stroll from our home, was a scene ripped from an episode of ECO Challenge. There were the exposed tree roots that threatened to topple the unobservant strider, the thorny branches that had formed swinging gates of pain and, of course, the oh so perilous slippery bank that beckons one closer to observe schools of fish feeding nearby. But all of these natural dangers pale in comparison to a very large and very suspect Canadian Goose!

I should have sensed peril lurked ahead. The Canadian Goose has been trailing us for some time. I, however, was focussed on the before mentioned roots, thorny branches and slippery banks all the while attempting to whistle a happy tune. My roommate and host in this walk of fear, strode far ahead her pace quickened in an effort to raise her heart rate. I, on the other hand, shuffled along panting from over exertion.

When the tiny island with bridge access appeared ahead, I welcomed the opportunity to rest for a moment in the shade of a tree and perhaps skip a rock or two across the still surface of the lake. It was here, on her own turf, that the Goose decided to make her move. I am a peaceable creature by nature. The Goose evidently is not. Visions of the two of us quietly sharing the tranquil lakeside setting were soon shattered as I found myself face to face with a large, quick-footed, long-necked, hissing female!

Stunned, I stared evil in the face! What had I done to illicit such a response? Furthermore, what bodily harm was she capable of? I weighed my options. Not knowing how to swim and certain that the water was much too cold for entry, the bridge clearly was my only means of escape. But did I turn tail and run exposing the one body part I’ve been using on a regular basis? Or did I back up slowly staring the Goose down as I made my retreat?

I did neither of these things. I stood stock still and attempted to negotiate!

“Hi there.”

HISS … HISS …

“It’s okay, I’m not going to hurt you.”

HISSSSSSSSSS …

“I’ll only be a moment. I just want to enjoy the view.”

HISS … HISS …

It’s not true what the say about communication. Talking is not always the best solution and, if it is, the Canadian Goose sure hadn’t been told. So, I turned tail and ran directly for my roommate, who was standing nearby and could serve as a body shield while I made my retreat!

My roommate tells me there was nothing to fear. That’s easy for her to say. She wasn’t the one staring evil in the face. Had she not seen Hitchcock’s movie THE BIRDS? I suspect the Goose was simply protecting a nearby nest. However, Mike could be right! Maybe there is a conspiracy and the Canadian Geese are a part of it. They have, after all, been camping out in numbers on the baseball field behind our home. I’ve taken safe refuge indoors and stocked up on toilet paper, water and chocolate just in case.

Getting Goosed once in a lifetime is enough for this gal!