The Big Bad Wolf and the Scary Woods

I have two big dogs. And while I didn’t get them for protection, and they are both friendly to dogs and man, I always figured they’d be good to have on my side if ever we were to run into Big Scary Monsters.

Today I learned how true that is.

It’s been cold here this weekend, so we haven’t been venturing out for as many daily miles as normal. In fact, it was a balmy 2 degrees when we woke up this morning, so we decided to postpone our morning walk a little and hope for a little more red to appear on the thermometer.

By the time we ventured out around 10, it had warmed up 6 times over to a much more reasonable 12 degrees. And since it was also nice and sunny, it felt like at least 13.

We had done a nice vigorous hike through the woods to get our body temp up, and Pavi had rearranged the forest by moving a few trees from here to there to keep his blood pumping, and were heading back to the car.

We had come out of the woods and were crossing the field to the parking lot, when Pavi, my big, intimidating, 95 pound black Shepherd, suddenly stops dead and stares intently into the woods.

Then the hackles all the way down his back go up and he starts barking at whatever he is staring at.

I walk up next to him and prepare myself for an enormous porcupine, or coyote, or wooly mammoth or BigFoot himself to charge out at us.

But nothing happens.

After a few more seconds pass with no monster emerging from the woods, I start to relax.

But my furry 4 footed companion has not.

And now he’s added a little lunge forward/ leap back move to his armor.

This helps me pinpoint the Big Scary Monster.

Someone had rolled a big ball of snow, like the bottom of a snowman, through the field and left it beside the trail.

And this Monster Snowball had set off all the alarms and sent my ultra tough protector into DefCon 5 mode.

It wasn’t until I went and sat on the snowball and finally lured my watchdog in with treats, so he could neutralize the threat, that we could finally continue down the trail and back to our car.

I don’t know what will happen if we ever do encounter Big Foot, but at least I know I am safe from snowballs.

The Death of Muskrat

I know being stuck at home with quarantine and social distancing can start to feel old and mundane. But I am here to share a story that shows even home can be an exciting place to be.

It started Thursday night when I happened to notice some animal had been hit by a car across the street from the end of my driveway. I did a double take, hoping it wasn’t someone’s cat or small dog, and once I determined it was only a muskrat, I didn’t give it much thought, assuming the road crew, or whomever was in charge of disposing of road kill would be along eventually to do their thing.

Last evening, the dogs and I went out in the yard for our nightly game of ball, when Ember suddenly perked up and took off toward the end of the driveway. I turned to see a crow take off at the same time, and caught up to Ember just as both she and I realized the birds had picked up the muskrat and decided to use the end of my yard as their dining table for their dinner.

I grabbed Ember just as she grabbed hold of a piece of Muskrat’s innards that apparently seemed too appealing to leave.

And I was left with no choice but to yank them out of her mouth and throw them back to the birds.

Needless to say, the rest of the evening was spent with her visiting every window, trying to convince me to let her out to finish her dessert, and me trying to recover from the forced, and way too up close encounter with dead things, and trying to decide if I could make do without that contaminated hand for the rest of my life.

That would have been bad enough, but of course the story doesn’t end there.

This morning, I get up, hopeful that the crows and turkey vultures, have finished their dinner, and cleaned the remains from the dining table that is my lawn.

But of course they haven’t, and Muskrat lay right where he was left.

And now it’s Saturday, so even if I wanted to call the town office and ask how to get in touch with the roadkill crew, there is no way to do this until Monday.

So I am forced to take matters into my own hands, and find myself out on my lawn with a shovel and a Hefty bag, cleaning up Muskrat’s remains. I decide I have little choice but to make my first trip to the dump in my new home town.

Not only is this my first trip to the dump, but also my first experience dealing with road kill, so I really have no idea what proper protocol is, and as I pull in, I stop at the attendant station to explain the situation and figure out where I’m supposed to take poor Muskrat.

“I don’t think we take road kill here” is the response I get.

“Well, what am I supposed to do with it then?”

” You can talk to the boss. That’s him right over there”

I walk over to The Boss, and again explain the situation.

And again get “We don’t take roadkill here” as the response.

And again I ask “What am I supposed to do with it then?”

“You can bury it”

“Where?”

“Just in your yard”

Planning a Muskrat funeral was not exactly top of my to-do list for the day. And starting an animal graveyard in my yard is not a very appealing option. I’m tempted to ask why, if my yard is an acceptable burial site, the dump is not, but I refrain.

” I can’t bury it in my yard. I have dogs”

“Yeah, if you have dogs, they’ll dig it up.”

I blink at him.

“You could just throw it across to the other side of the road” he replies with a shrug.

I give him the head tilt and more blinks, because I’m truly at a loss as how to reply to that.

I turn to walk back to my car to figure out a plan B, and as I pass the attendant shack, the lady I first spoke to, asked what The Boss had said to do. I told her he was not very helpful, and I was still unsure how I was supposed to dispose of Muskrat.

“Just take it to the woods and dump it. That’s what the cops would do if you called them. I hit a baby deer once and that’s all they did. Let the other animals take care of it”

I don’t know what else to say but to thank her and get back in my car.

I’ve watched enough mob movies to know that a car driving into the woods and tossing a Hefty bag out of the back, or digging a grave to bury a bundle is never viewed as suspicious activity. But that seems to be the only option I am left with.

Had I known how quickly my life would devolve into the seedy underbelly today, I would have had more coffee this morning.

And this is how I find myself driving deep into the woods and disposing of Muskrat in an unmarked grave, wondering again how I landed in the role of clean-up in the death of Muskrat, and if “the dump people made me do it” will hold up under future questioning.

RIP poor Muskrat. RIP.

Flight of the Bumble-Hornet

I know I have been remiss in writing in a while. I could offer you up a bunch of excuses, but I hope this story will be enough for you to forgive me.

Most of you know that I live in an area where up close encounters with our wildlife  can happen often. I’m sure we will all remember what happened when a bat decided to come and pay a visit.

This story involves yet another winged critter.

A few weeks ago, I decided to enjoy one of our few and last beautiful fall days, and spend some time reading on my deck.

(What happened to fall BTW?? Did it forget it is supposed to make an appearance between summer and winter??)

Anyway, back to the deck.

I am an avid reader. And like any avid reader of the 21st century, especially one who travels frequently, my library is conveniently stored on my easily packable iPad.

So I am sitting on my deck, reading my book, on my iPad.

When a hornet decides it really likes something about my hair in this particular moment, and takes up doing laps around my ears.

I absent-mindedly try to flick him away a few times, but he is having none of it, and quickly resumes his laps.

We have a special name in our house for hornets, thanks to my dog, who loves gobbling them up in mid-air, like they are the tastiest snacks ever offered.

So we call them Scooby Snacks.

However, on this particular day, my trusty canine companion is more interested in working on her tan, then feasting on Scooby Snacks. Despite my cries for help, she refuses to come to my rescue, so I am left to fight on my own.

I make a few more vigorous attempts to encourage this pesky winged bugger to find another arena to continue his workout, but he refuses to leave.

So I put my iPad on the arm of my chair, and jump up to confront my foe face to face.

And give my iPad just enough of nudge with my thigh as I get up to knock it off the chair to the floor.

Where it slides under the deck rail. And falls the 10 feet to the walk below.

I had been considerate enough to leave my case open, and it was considerate enough to fall face up, so I could watch my screen shatter on impact from my perch 10 ft above.

Sigh.

I go down and rescue my iPad- which is miraculously still working- not that it matters much, since I can’t see anything through the millions of fine lines criss-crossing my screen.

Immediately my thoughts go to the fact that I am leaving the next day for a 2 day work trip, followed immediately by a trip to California to meet a friend for the weekend. Which meant a lot of plane time. And a lot of reading time. Which was going to be hard to do with my shattered library.

Luckily, I had purchased the protection plan when I bought this iPad a mere 5 months prior, because I have lived with myself long enough to know this protection would come in handy, with or without the help of hornets.

So I head out to the big box store that supposedly offers the Best place to Buy electronics and the like, and where I had purchased my iPad and this protection plan.

After waiting in line to talk to one of the Geeks behind the counter, I am informed that even though they sell iPads and the protection plans, they actually do not honor or provide any service when this protection is actually needed. They don’t even offer replacement on these insured products.

To take advantage of this protection, I would actually have to go to our local Apple store.

Now, I don’t know what it is like at your local Apple store, but I have been to ours enough times to know that this is never an “in and out” excursion. In fact you can pretty much plan on sacrificing hours and hours of your life that you will never get back, waiting for assistance at the big store of the Fruit.

I am not happy about this change to my afternoon plans.

I log onto my handy-dandy Apple app, in the hopes of making an appointment and minimizing my wasted time.

Only to find that the next available appointment is Friday afternoon.

It is currently Saturday afternoon. I will be in California by Friday.

This is less than ideal.

I call the Apple store, in the hopes they will take pity on me with my sad tale and find a way to work me in.

Not only does the phone ring endlessly, until I am finally punted over to the national Apple hotline, when this agent attempts to call the local store for me, even she has to wait approximately 30 minutes to get through.
And the manager she speaks with basically laughs at her when she asks about the possibility of getting me in that day.

It is about 4:30 in the afternoon. The store is open until 9. Yet the manager tells us they are basically sending people away because they are on a 5 hour wait for a service appointment.

I guess I’m glad I called before I drove all the way up there.

I am told my “best” option is to show up 30 min prior to store opening the following day, wait in line until they open, and hope that I am one of the first ones there so I can be first on their walk in list.

All for them to literally take my busted iPad and hand me a new one.

What happened to the good old days when you could walk in, grab the product off the shelves and walk up to the counter to complete the transaction??

While I begged to disagree about this being any sort of “best” option, I realized my options were greatly limited if I wanted my mobile library to accompany me on my trip.

So guess where I found myself at 10:30 the next morning?

That’s right.

Standing in line outside the Fruit store.

Luckily, I was the second one in line. The guy in front of me had longer legs and walked from his car one step faster than I walked from mine. He may not have known we were racing, but I did.

I was amazed that in that 30 minutes, the line grew to 50+ people behind me.

I guess I’m not the only one who needs to purchase those protection plans.

I will say that the Fruit vendors were very efficient and I was in the door and with a tech at 11 sharp and out the door with my new iPad at 11:30.

So when I headed out later that day, I did so with my library on my back. Despite the Scooby Snacks best efforts.

Things that go bump in the Night

Some of you may know that I recently moved. While my new house is still technically “in the city limits”, it is enough outside the hustle and bustle that we can enjoy up close and personal encounters with our wildlife neighbors.

Sometimes a little too up close and personal.

The other night I closed up the house and got ready to head to bed. I went up the stairs, washed my face, brushed my teeth, got in my PJ’s and had just climbed into bed with my book, when something moved out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was a moth, and turned my head just in time for something much bigger to swoop by.

This was not a moth, but a bat. In my room.

Now, I am not freaked out by most of the creepy crawly creatures we share the planet with. Give me a mouse or a snake or a spider and I can deal. Even in my bedroom.

But put wings on the critter and let it blindly dive bomb my head and it’s  a whole other story.

I threw the book in my hand over my head as a shield, jumped off the bed, and made my way across the room in a half run, half crawl position. (I’m sure there was logic behind this stance at the time). I somehow managed to throw open the sliding glass door on one end of the room and make it back to the stairs and down without making physical contact with the bat.

Once downstairs, I bravely took up my post:-hiding around the corner at the bottom of the stairs – and cautiously peeked up the stairs every few minutes waiting for the bat to fly out.

Except every time I looked, it was still there. Swooping back and forth across the room.

After about 15 minutes, I realized that this visitor may not show himself out, and I was going to be forced back upstairs to help.

I also realized, standing there in my PJ’s, that I was not exactly battle ready.

The problem was, all my battle gear was in my room. With the bat.

I scavenged around in the lower levels and finally found suitable battle gear: One of my kiddo’s sweatshirts, a large straw hat and a broom as a weapon. For good measure, I grabbed a basket off the counter for a shield.

Thus armed, I slowly crept back up the stairs. I made it halfway up before I was again treated to a fly-by from my equally panicked guest.

I tried to use the broom as a gentle guide to show him the door, but he was not having it. If I swung to the front, he went behind me. If I whirled around, he feinted to the other side.

Sneaky little bugger.

I admit. I retreated back down the stairs. But only to regroup for plan B.

From my perch around the corner, I realized that the air conditioner and the fan were on in my room, and that the wind from those might be confusing the critter and keeping him from finding the door.  The problem was, the A/C was on one end of the room and the fan on the other. And the bat was swooping in the air between.

While I was trying to gather the courage for a fool hardy, kamikaze mission to attempt to shut both of these off, I realized the bat had ceased swooping.

Maybe he had finally found his way to the door??

Armed with my broom, I slowly crept back up the stairs to see.

There he was, perched on the wall beside my bed. Resting.

I took the opportunity to creep from one end of the room to the other and turn off the fan and the A/C, and made it back to the stairs just as he decided to start swooping again.

Finally, after another 10 minutes or so, I didn’t see any more movement up there. Fingers crossed I crept back up the stairs to evaluate my territory.

No bat.

I slowly kept creeping forward and didn’t see him perched on the walls or any place I could easily see.

I was not, however, about to throw open the doors to the bathroom or closet or climb into bed without being sure.

The bugger was probably hiding in my pillows.

And I couldn’t be sure without backup. What if there was a sneak attack??

And my backup was still at work until midnight.

I text my child to tell him about the invader and outline the battle plan for when he got home.

I got, “What do you want me to do??” with the laughing emoticon, as a response.

He’s lucky I needed him as an ally.

Finally, after midnight, we were able to complete the recon mission, check the closets, under the bed and the pillows and ensure the enemy was indeed gone.

I still slept with one eye open for the rest of the night.