What is Normal? (or Yes, my Baby is Periwinkle, Thank You)

My great friend, The Trophy Wife, called me today to see what’s up.  Even though we are just two doors away, sometimes we go weeks without actually setting eyes on each other due to the fact that our families make unfair demands upon our time.  We talk every day, though, and our kids are as intertwined as a nest of snakes.

I’m sad to say that she might have been a more normal person if she’d moved somewhere else.  I feel sure that our “otherness” has been the tool that shaped her kids into absolute freaks.

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(Note:  I am including this picture of an elephant with a prosthetic leg because there was no other picture that could go with this story that includes that words”prosthetic leg” that wouldn’t have been just tacky, and also because this picture restores my faith in humanity.  When someone will make an elephant a new leg AND give her a pink princess collar, all is not lost)

Once, a while back, the TW and I were lounging around on her sofa, discussing economics or string theory probably, and her stepson (who, incidentally dates my daughter, how inbred is that?) came walking in saying “hey, there’s an ambulance pulling a dead guy out of one of your rental houses”.  Within 4 seconds, her kids had strapped themselves into their car seats and were displaying a decidedly Jack Nicholson gleam in their eyes.

Upon driving the two miles away to this ramshackle house we own, complete with chicken coops in the back and dogs tied to trees, we discovered that truly, one of our tenants had passed away.  We sat for a moment in reverence and then a paramedic came out carrying the deceased man’s prosthetic leg.

I know, we’re wrong.  We should have left it alone but my friend has a great haunted house in her basement every Halloween and I could see her mind turning about what was going to happen to the leg now that it was no longer needed.  I’m just going to leave the conversations that followed to your imagination as those who were involved in it, besides the TW and me, seemed shocked by it.  TuTu, her stepson, was so disgusted by us that he shook his head all the way home. Suffice it to say, after some rational pleadings on our part against the deaf wall of understanding that often comes with people in authority, we left without the leg.

Now, some might say this is not normal. But who, really, can say what’s normal?

Take religion, for example.  I’m surely not going to get up on a religious high horse here as I find my whole grasp of organized religion changes daily.  Although I grew up with what I though was a pretty good understanding of the whole thing, as I’ve gotten older, I find I am pretty darn tolerant of most things.  As long as I’m happy where I am, I really don’t care what you believe unless you try to argue with me.  My dad got the greatest pleasure in life from Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to the door.  He would usher them inside with gusto and they would leave, an hour later, dazed and stumbling while my dad would be in the kitchen making a celebratory sandwich to chalk up another win.

I do find it sad when people say they have no belief at all.  I turn things over in my head all the time, disregarding what doesn’t make sense, including what does. I talk to God a lot, a hundred times a day, describing how happy the new plants shooting up make me feel and telling him of my disgust at WalMart for buying animals that have been raised in horrifying circumstances.  (Truly, if you’re buying meat at WalMart, shame on you for being both cruel for supporting this way of farming and tacky for buying meat, or almost anything else at WalMart.)  God might get a little tired of all my chatter, frankly. I feel that if there is a god, and I fully believe there is, he (or she, if it makes you happier) is pretty pissed about the whole state of things.  Let’s think about it, I’m confident he’s not hung up on marijuana, which he made, and who marries whom, but I’ll bet he’s really scratching his head about the fact that we cage up his wonderful creatures and then eat them.

God: “How’s that sweet little Marybelle doing, Gabriel?”

Gabriel: “Um, she’s standing right behind you already, God.  Some idiot grilled her.”

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I’ll bet he might be confused about grass mowing as well.  Every time I cut the grass I picture God saying “well, hmmm, I never considered they’d do THAT with it.  Seems a little redundant, but…”

Cricket and I have the same thoughts about Native American Indians.  What if an Indian from 200 years ago could time travel and spend a day with us.

Indian: “Let’s see, you are wearing shoes that don’t allow you to run fast, don’t allow you to climb trees and make you feel like you’re running downhill at all times. It just doesn’t seem, well, normal.”

I do think both God and Indians would appreciate the joyous ingenuity behind roller coasters and water skiing though.

(I tried desperately here to find a picture of either God or an Indian on either a roller coster OR water skis.  Couldn’t find one.  Go figure.)

Normal isn’t all that important as I see it.  Except for the time someone in my neighborhood painted their 20,000 square foot house pink, I really can’t think of a time when a little deviance bothered me. I even got used to that. In fact, wacky honestly delights me.  This morning, on Facebook, for example, one of my online friends was looking for non-toxic baby paint.  I have spent all day deeply regretting that I never thought of it.  Pastel babies at Easter, neon babies in the summer.  Glow in the dark for when they catch fireflies in the yard, orange at Halloween.  The possibilities are endless.

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Once people can start choosing their color for the day, racism might be out the window and wackiness will skyrocket.  I’m thinking that this would greatly please the God in whom I believe.  From what I’ve read and believe, probably God is just wishing we were a little nicer and a whole lot more tolerant.  I think being periwinkle would just be a bonus.

ImageIn a quick aside, I would like to say that my new brother-in-law, despite being a brilliant mind and a fantastic father and husband, will henceforth be referred to, both in my blog and in real life, only as “Handsome”. Make a note.

Hey, Big Girl, Back it Up! Come on Back it Up!

For those of you who have followed the big fabulous life of Babette, here’s another chapter.  Although I sometimes wonder why her life has become the source of pleasure for so many, once I turn on the news, I realize why.

DSC_0366There are reasons why people shouldn’t be tempted to buy sweet little piglets, even when they are tiny enough to wear a sock as a sweater and stand on one’s back.  (Why we let her stand on us, I don’t know, because now she cannot understand why she doesn’t fit in our laps.)   Sadly, like many of us over this miserable winter, Babs has grown large.  Quite large.  Neither one of us made an enemy of carbs this season.  We drowned our sorrows over the cold in Girl Scout cookies and other assorted snack foods.  She’s a big girl with big appetites and those who know me know I have trouble with the word “no” and even more trouble with that hateful buzzword, “moderation”.  If giving a pig a Hershey’s kiss and some cheese ravioli is wrong, I don’t want to be right.  I’ve tried.  Believe me. I am helpless when she bats her long eyelashes at me and oinks that lovable oink.  We’re about equally matched in size now and no force on earth can keep her from my cabinets.  She can now nudge the refrigerator across the kitchen.

Using her heart shaped pink nose, she has systematically plowed up three acres of grass and pulled out every expensive perennial, some over 25 years old.  I had a beautiful  peony, of the most delicate ballerina pink, that was planted by the original owner of my house years ago.  It must have been delicious.  If only I had planned to go into farming, she’d have been a great employee hired to plow.  But, the time of aeration and seeding arrives soon and I’d rather not look like the white trash we are rapidly becoming, and so I am being forced to introduce her to the barnyard.

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Babette is not popular there.  At the house, she was the undisputed queen.  Once she won the dogs over by showing them how to get into the cabinets, she reined supreme.  At the barn, she is hated universally.  Our large, old, rescue pig, Orson, has twice tried to kill her.  Orson has not been seen standing up in three years.  His eyes are mashed shut because he is so fat.  His tusks curl up in an evil smile.  He is rendered invisible because of the constant array of chickens using him for a warm perch.  I have hardly even seen him eat, yet something must fuel all that bulk.  He is really just a lump in the corner of the barn, noiseless and forgotten. When I am in the barn, he has always just pretended I wasn’t there.  Upon the arrival of Babs, he heaved himself up and came at her like a stealth missile.  He then came after me, just for being her friend.  My genius old sheep, Clementine, who literally walks on only two legs, has also arisen and bitten her repeatedly while Babette cries and wonders how she dropped into this nightmare.

One of Babette’s tricks is turning around to get a treat.  Usually, I have to ask her several times while she blinks and looks at me as if to say, “Really?  Why waste the energy?  You know you’re going to give it to me anyway.”. When she saw I was leaving, she commenced to spinning like a top to get my attention. Walking away from her squealing for me was worse than leaving Cricket on her first day of preschool.


At the end of the day, I went down and brought her back to the house to sleep in her bed.  She ran into the house and straight for The Goose.  Then, using the special noise heretofore used only with me, she began to tell him what I can only guess was, “Do you know what that @$%^& did to me today?  She took me to Hell!  She lifted me OFF THE GROUND (shudder) and then, she left me there, with no chocolate, no treats, with a bunch of ANIMALS! (another shudder)”  The Goose, sucker that he is, then lay down on the floor and proceeded to tell her how awful I am and how she doesn’t belong down there, princess that she is.

IMG_0257That pig is smart.  She flirted and shamelessly threw herself at him all night, rolling over to expose a giant swollen underbelly so fecund and obscene that I felt embarrassed and looked away.  When he sat in a chair, she tried to climb up into his lap.

When he left the room, she launched herself up on the sofa with me and tried to look interested in what I was watching. She pretended to bite my foot and then pulled back and chuckled to make herself seem funny and endearing. She struck several fetching poses accompanied with sighs so mournful one would think someone has uttered “bacon”.  She politely moved away from the dogs‘ bowls when I asked her to, and when I said “bedtime”, she marched purposely towards her crate, pausing only to root me lovingly.

IMG_0223I know what she’s doing.  I have raised two kids.  I know “being on best behavior” when I see it.

Still, I can’t keep her from destroying our yard and I can’t let her stay out when we travel and even The Goose won’t let her go to the lake with us, despite my deep desire to see her in a life jacket, thus, she is moving in with the animals.

It’s not forever.  I’m working hard to overcome separation and guilt.  I’ve only walked down to see her four times today.  I just  took her two doughnuts and some celery (she is on a diet, after all).  She can still come in and sleep at night.  She will always be welcome come out and chase balls with the dogs.  I am already envisioning a small barn addition, painted a buttercream yellow, with window boxes, a cushy paisley pillow and, perhaps, a bench for me. Just because one lives in a barn doesn’t mean one has to live like an animal, you know.

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A Rose by Any Other Name

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Last week I went to the dermatologist, Dr. Gross, who is anything but.  I find him a kind and adorable man who not only makes me look better, he always makes me feel better. I mention his name, though, because was it being Gross that caused him to go into a field that is thought of as, well, kinda gross?

This name thing is just out of hand. Consider the man with the big truck who comes to take away the large animals who die in my neighnborhood.  It’s pretty darn hard to dig a hole big enough for a horse or even a large pig. When one of our loved ones in the barnyard die, we will call on him to come and collect the remains and then do something, what, we do not know, with them. His name is Mr. Killgore.  Really.  Killgore, that’s his name.  Obviously the name came first, but did it influence him in this funeral direction?

What about Lorenna Bobbitt, who cut short the member of her philandering husband, as well as his philandering?  What about Representative Gary Weiner, who showed his to thousands over text?  Having that name did he just feel he had something to prove?  What about the urologist named Dr. Peters?  Could he have possibly become a gynecologist?

Some names are just bad and folks have to enter a profession that can handle it.  In Dekalb county, where the Goose and I grew up, there was a law enforcement official by the name of Dick Hand. Surely he needed some power to overcome that name.  What about Dick Trickle?  He’s been racing away from that handle for years, but hooray for the other race car driver so perfectly named Scott Speed.

I was very ill when my kids were little and ended up at an infectious disease doctor.  He was a super nice man who finally figured out what was wrong with me, but he had the incredible name of Dr. Dickensheets. Take from that what you will.

The director of the no-kill shelter that was recently fired for, sadly, killing dogs?  Lowanda Kilby.  Uh-huh.  Coincidence?  I think not.  And the devastating story of the pastor that was recently hit and killed on his bike?  Pastor Pray.

Guess the name of the man who invented the inversion board that decompresses one’s spine that you see sold on TV.  It’s Mr. Teeter.  A rowing coach at a high school I’ve heard of called Mr. Rosewell, is named even more aptly than my librarian at my elementary school, Mrs. Lovejoy.  It is most likely only fitting for me as no child ever loved the library more than I.

I love the whole name thing.  I know there are so many more that I’ve forgotten. I see hear one almost every day that just makes me shake my head.

I once had a friend who believed that eternal cosmic writers have just gotten bored with their jobs and are putting little treats like these into our lives just to see if we notice.

Oh, I notice and I wholeheartedly approve!

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10 Things that Confuse Me Today

 

  1. Why a dog will stand and bark for 20 minutes at a napkin ring that has rolled under the table in the dining room until I come and tell him it’s okay, I see it.  Then it is, apparently, fine. 
  2. Why the Goose can drink six Mountain Dews a day, a sleeve of cookies and three giant meals and remain slim while I exist on two celery sticks, one saltine and one chardonnay.  Seems downright unchivalrous. 
  3. Why people are interested in celebrities.  I don’t get it.  When I have been forced to watch TMZ, I don’t know anyone except Donny Osmond and Cher.  How do people keep up with these HoneyJerseyHousewifyboo people and WHY? Isn’t life interesting enough right outside our doors, if not quite as trashy? 
  4. Why anyone enjoys Christmas at all.  It seems like a big ol’ mess to me.  
  5. Why a woman, with H1N1, a throbbing ovarian cyst and a mortal shaving injury can still do six loads of laundry, find tights that match her daughter’s outfit, mentally located her teen aged son anywhere in the cosmos at any given second, run five miles, uphill, and still keep her home smelling like lemons while a man can sneeze and take to the bed, moaning and crying for soup like he enjoyed, from a dented, discounted can, when he lived with his mother, and no one even questions it. 
  6. Why someone can’t find an earth changing use for those “silk” ficus trees from the eighties.  Everyone had one, some had two.  No one has them now.  There must be a giant “silk” ficus forest somewhere.  Could they be used in prisons?  I think this is a thought for our representatives. 
  7. Why do we continually allow everyone to think for us?  My car tells me when and how to back up, my appliances tell me what they’re thinking, 20/20 tells me how large my meal from McDonalds should be, my government tells me everything else.  My inner rebellious princess is getting pretty tired of it all.  Am I normal? Isn’t anyone else feeling like they want to be a little, I don’t know, deviant?  I may have to roll someone or something. Graffiti anyone? 
  8. Why do strangers sometimes call me “hon”.  Sounds snippy, I know, but it makes me really cranky.  The Goose gets nervous when a waitress directs a “hon” toward me.  My gentleman neighbor calls me “little princess” and I’m good with that.  “Hon”, however, makes me want to snap my gum and order chili and black coffee from a woman named Flo.  I just don’t like it. 
  9. Gravity.  I include this for my daughter, who worries about me and my Dekalb County education.  As evidenced in a conversation with her recently,  “gravity, it just don’t make sense”. 
  10. How is it a house that looked sparkly and clean in the morning can look like a crack house by 6:30 in the evening?  In a direct link to number 9, is it possible there are small gravity deposits under the floor and on the bench in the mudroom, under the counters, under every surface within 30 feet of the door that would cause people to throw down their mail, books, scarves, jackets, cups still full of red colored drinks, shoes, bras (!?!) or anything they wanted out of their cars and LEAVE them there until   they are put away.  Bowls and plates of food, NEXT TO THE SINK!  Does anyone every wonder how they get put away?  People today are too soft, brought up with fairy tales and elves. I think family members need to be sat down and told the truth about the chore fairy, shown a picture of her haggard self, low on botox and hair color, pajamas held up by one remaining strand of elastic, swollen eyes from wine and salty food consumption.  Show them the real truth, the crime scene photos, the haggard mess the chore fairy has become, and maybe, just maybe, we can save the chore fairy.  Every time a cup is placed in the dishwasher, a chore fairy loses a wrinkle.  I do believe, I do. 

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Thanksgiving Schmanksgiving

ImageI need everyone to know just how normally we began.  I keep saying this! I mean, my family was NORMAL! I grew up normal, the Goose and I were normal when we married.  When I had babies, I was a really good mom.  They had schedules, both slept all the way through the night before three weeks, ate right, took baths.  I read a story every night, we listened to Wee Bible Songs in the car.  They had my parents as the best grandparents who ever lived.  I believe this could the at the heart of the issue. 

When my parents passed away, we just went to hell in a monogrammed handbag.  

Also, my house might have something to do with it.  We moved out here in the sticks before the wave arrived.  The house, ugly and sprawling, sat for two years without anyone making an offer.  Thank goodness one of the only three talents I possess is design.  I was in the business and the Goose has “an eye” as well (oh, I’m going to catch hell for saying this) and we saw through all it’s scary bluster and blue carpet.  That said, it has been a monster of a house that my mother in law said I would never be able to keep clean.  I refuse to make a snide posthumous remark here. It would just be too easy and those of you with monster-in-laws can fill in the blanks. 

If it were just us four, we might have held it together.  But no, living with us we’ve had one snarky foster child, one bi-polar uncle, two hospice patients, Shep’s traveling circus of friends, Cricket’s boyfriends, 25 fawns, numerous opossums, snakes, squirrels, two house rabbits, two house pigs, multiple dogs and cats, way too many housekeepers with personal issues, visiting relatives, oh and a frog that escaped and was seen for years just sitting in the sun in various rooms. We have played thousands of games of sardines in the dark and have managed to retrieve each and every person without much damage to their soul or body. There has been more covert smooching in my basement than anywhere in the county, I shudder to think. Kids have ridden mattresses down the stairs. At least one million drinks have been spilled by probably one million kids. There have been so many bonfires that the smell of woodsmoke is ingrained in our very hearts. Things have been launched, set afire, catapulted and a coconut bra was thrown through a new giant tv.  A sheep has run through my house on more than one occasion,  not to mention the craziness that goes on in my barn. It is insane.  

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I’m planning for Thanksgiving now.  Growing up, I only ate downtown at beautiful hotel buffets for Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, the ones with omelet makers in tall hats ready to jump to satisfy my gastronomical desires.  Just my little family, well behaved and nicely dressed (I was an only child). There was always a harp playing, artichoke salad, little tarts for dessert.  As an adult, I’ve run the half marathon most years downtown.  This year, though, I am lazy and out of shape and so we are having a “bastards” dinner here for those of us without families in town, or whose loved ones have gone.  The diversity in our group is enormous.  I would have never imagined that my “family” would grow to be what we are but I love it.  Stop asking yourself what I’ll do about cooking.  With heartfelt apologies to the two turkeys, Arlo 2 and Marlin, and two pigs, Orson and Babette, in my family, you know I’ll order in for the carnivores at my table.  Kids will be drinking Kool-aid from my grandmother’s crystal and that will be okay.  Adults will be telling stories, exaggerating, and loosening their belts. There will be laborious cocktails in silver shakers, wine will flow and things will get broken. Some will take walks.  Sheep will graze on the lawn and all will be right with the world.  

Judging by television, maybe families aren’t the same normal they were when we were growing up.  When I look at my list of guests, I feel so blessed that, even though my everyday group of friends are with their families, there is always room for other friendships to grow and become closer and we can fill in for those who we miss so much it hurts, like my mother and dad. I am so excited and hoping to add anyone else who wants to come. I don’t care if people have to eat on the stairs, I want a real Thanksgiving, because sometimes I think we all forget to be thankful. This year, I am going to stop and be thankful in the moment that anyone loves me and that I have all of these people to love right back. 

Everyone is invited. I can tell you this, there will be lots of non-poisonous food not made by me, barrels of wine, tons of laughter, music playing in the background (probably Jerry Garcia, not a harp, but anyway…) and time to be thankful for all the love for which this creaky, lovely old house with hidden rooms and uneven floors has had the room. Ya’ll come on, ya hear, and bring a casserole! 

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Gag me with a spoon

Let me apologize for the horrible nature of this rant. Obviously, there will be NO photo to go along with this disgusting, offensive missive.

Last night, in the depths of my sleep, I heard the sound that strikes fear into my heart.  Worse than an intruder, worse than a tree on the house, violating my dreams came the sound of something throwing up on the carpet.

Working with animals, I can handle a lot more than other acrylic tipped, frosty lip glossed women.  I can stitch something up, pull out maggots (I hesitate to say that I almost enjoy this?), and can even euthanize something and only cry a little.  Blood, I can deal with, even poo and pee.  But hurl, I can’t do.

Carpet is disgusting in general.  I have a heavy duty carpet cleaner that I whip out at least once a month and clean all carpets with bleach solution.  (Again, no environmentalist need complain.  I can match you tree hugging for tree hugging.) Why is it, though, with all this hardwood flooring and five fenced acres of any terrain that tickles their fancy, that an animal will seek out my white bedroom carpet to throw up?  Matilda actually came IN from outside to do this last night.  Apparently, whatever she ate was of such a nuclear red that it can be seen from space, glowing in the dark.

Remember the dog, Orlando, who ate “the object that shall not be named” from the Goose’s office?  He was not an indoor dog but once bolted past me at light speed, through the door, across the clean floors and up onto my bed to upchuck a surprising amount of ick onto my custom bedspread.  Custom, as in fancy schmancy fabric that was bought with .com boom money and hand stitched by a sweet faced Asian woman at the drapery workroom.

What’s worse than getting up at night and stepping on a hair ball with a bare foot? I think that if the government used this torture on prisoners of war, things would move along much more quickly. Just thinking about it made me tuck my leg up under me. My kids once knew a disgusting turd of a boy, who threw all the time. Not content to spoil my new sofa in the basement, he got my powder room floor and wallpaper and my son’s bedroom floor. Cricket once saw him barf behind a video game in a restaurant and move on as if nothing happened.  I can’t conceive of it.

Thankfully, my kids were tough and I didn’t deal with this often.  In my loving motherness, (Why is this not an acceptable word? I think it fits many situations.) I would just pop them into the bathroom and tell them to call me when they were done.  I am so grossed out by this that I can’t believe I’m even writing about it.

Bulimia will never be a threat to me, that’s for sure!

There is no way to wrap up this horrible blog. I don’t even know what to call it.  It’s disgusting.  I just want everyone out there to be living this terrible event along with me.  I want everyone to recall their throw up tragedies and send their commiserations and loving thought through the cosmos to me.  As much as I enjoy stain removal, THIS is not the way to start a morning.

My Darling Clementine

ImageWhen I finally moved to the country 15 years ago, we built a barn.  Not having anything to put in it, I set about changing that.  During my years as a designer, I sold many English paintings with sheep.  I had come to love anything with sheep in it, paintings, prints, etchings, lamps with porcelain sheep, sweaters with sheep (yes, you know the one, 24 white sheep, one black one, a fashion embarrassment if there ever was one) and sheep “doodads and geegaws”, including sheep soap.  One day, I saw an add for sheep in the paper.  The Golden Goose and I loaded up our small children and took off to claim our sweet, wooly little lamb.  When I got there, there were no lambs to be had, but a field of muddy, hairy, smelly sheep, crying and running from the farmer like he was Satan.  (Turns out he was.) We had driven 92 miles with a daughter who had gotten carsick and thrown up in her brother’s hat.  This caused her brother to cry because it was his favorite hat and he wanted it back, barf or not.  Also, I have to stop a lot to go to the bathroom.  I don’t know what it is about getting into the car with the Goose that makes me have to pee, but he says it is to counteract the skill with which he passes every car and a deep seated need to undermine his dominancy on the road.  Whatever it was, we weren’t leaving without a sheep. 

The farmer told me I could “pick me out one” and I chose one that looked exactly like every other sheep in the pasture.  He then told me she would probably not like me for a while and that sheep weren’t all that smart or friendly.  When I asked when and how she should be sheared, he just laughed and said “lady, these ain’t wool sheep, these is EATIN sheep”.  As a vegetarian with veg kids, I almost passed out.  Suddenly, all these sheep in the pasture needed to be saved.  I cried, the kids cried, but the Goose steadfastly refused to buy all 300.  So, we folded our large sheep into a dog crate made for a small dog.  She none too happy about this.  We put her in the back of the Goose’s truck for men who want to seem manly but really want a luxury car inside and she baaaahhed and cried all the way home.  Upon stopping at a Dairy Queen to use the loo, she startled the entire ice cream eating crowd.  After she was unloaded, though, she defied the evil sheep eating farmer by looking at me with love and commencing to follow me everywhere.  She was lovely! That was 12 years ago.  Clementine is still with me and is, by far, the most intelligent animal I’ve ever come across.  This includes labs, all other dogs, small children, and my in-laws. 

Many know my problem with animals wanting to come into the house.  I’ve been described as the lady with animals in her house.  This is not true!  As a designer, I must say I have a great house.  It’s clean and normal and really pretty.  Things do get in from time to time though and one night when chaos was happening with my kids, kids’ friends, and adults with  cocktails, Clementine got in.  She doesn’t really look for me but goes straight to the pantry for cookies.  She has a terrible sweet tooth.  The Goose’s way of dealing with her is to herd her by standing behind her and bumping her towards the door, muttering and swearing (both of them).  On this particular evening, the pizza delivery man arrived at our glass door just as the Goose, bent over Clementine, bumping her on the behind to move was trying to exit through our mud room.  The man gaped while the Goose stammered an explanation for why he had a sheep in a scandalous rear chokehold, but the man didn’t want to know.  He just took the cash and left in haste.  

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Last Valentine’s Day the Goose was forced to give me real little lamb.  (Forced because we saw one gamboling on the side of the road on the way home from dinner and a man who has FORGOTTEN all the accouterment of Valentine’s Day really can’t argue with a seething wife.)  Clarence is not intelligent.  He is needy.  This is because I allowed him to stay inside (it was cold!) for a few days provided he wear a diaper which I firmly affixed with damask duct tape.  Yes, I know, it’s wrong, but he, like every other animal, is affronted that he cannot come in and lie by the bed.  

I don’t really have a zingy wrap up here, only to say that sheep are individuals, just like people.  The fact that people eat lamb, one of the cruelest things I’ve ever heard (what they do to those babies before they hit your plate is unthinkable) makes me sad.  Imagine your yellow lab cut into bits and covered in mint sauce and order a salad next time!

 

My Deep and Serious Post

I’m not a brilliant person.  I think really smart people have a lot of headaches so I try to enjoy each and every day, laugh a lot and let the big things go.  Really, I laugh a LOT and consider myself mildly funny, married to the Golden Goose, who is really funny and avoid serious stuff like the plague. Like changing oil in the car or rotating tires, it’s just not fun and I avoid it.  Thankfully, I have the Goose or I’d be in a pickle.

I am deeply lodged inside my Lilly Pulitzer colored world and probably needed what I got a while back. I got  a good lesson in not judging a book by it’s cover.  Or not judging a man by his looks.  I could continue this thread on down by not judging a woman by her shoes, but let’s not get crazy here.

I get a lot of calls from people who have found injured or orphaned animals.  I must admit that when I started 10 years ago, I loved these calls.  I would talk and talk to the nice folks who were calling and by the time they left after dropping the critter off, I’d know everything about them, would have walked them around the barnyard, introducing them to each and every one of my animals and they would know the most minute and intimate details of my life from my childhood to my recent botox injection.  Now, when they call and begin the sentence, “hello? I got your number from …” and they start to fumble for where they found me I am already sighing and interrupting with “what do you have?”. I guess the shine wears off anything after a while but I must say that middle-age has made me, well, snippy sometimes. This has caused an uptick in wine consumption, which, in turn, has caused more wrinkles and more calories.

Anyhoooo,  a while back, I was in the middle of a particularly crazy day.  I do have a real life, as a designer, and sometimes still manage to get dressed up and work with people.  This day, I was clean, had had coffee (those who know me are nodding and saying “nuff said” here) and was running out of the house when I got a call from a man who proceeded to stammer through his problem while I twisted and fidgeted thought his long explanation.  I agreed to wait.  It seems he had found a baby opossum and had driven it all the way up to Amicolola, about 40 miles from me.  They then told him to take it to Gainesville, another 40, at least.  They gave him my name and he headed back my way. This man called me at least 3 times on the way, shouting at me over the phone while I, again, gave him directions, articulating and snapping like an angry governess.

When this man finally arrived I was shocked.  He drove through my lovely gates in the biggest beater of a car I’ve ever seen.  The doors were not the same color as the rest of the car.  There was no back window.  The man who emerged was dirty.  Filthy.  Encrusted in dirt.  His hair stood out at all angles and, when he smiled, there were a good many teeth missing and the ones remaining were, well, dark.  In his shirt, against his body, he had a tiny opossum curled up snug and warm.  When the man spoke, he was slow and quiet and I realized that when he had called all those times, it must have been from pay phones.  He trembled a bit as he handed over the baby and explained that he was so sorry it had taken so long, he had had to go by his sister’s to get some gas money.  He then tried to give me four crumpled up bills to help pay for food.

Now, it takes a lot to get to me.  I see a lot of sweet things die, I see horrible injuries and have learned to grit my teeth and  just move on.  My eyes filled with tears and I looked down at my fabulous shoes, in my pretty yard, by my nice car and in the shadow of my comfortable home.  Here was a man that people probably look away from in public out of fear or disgust.  He had nothing and had had to borrow the money as he drove about 150 miles in the hopes of saving what most people consider a disgusting rodent (do I really have to add here, again, that opossums are marsupials, just like kangaroos?).  He then offered to help pay for his care, something that most people that drop off animals in Mercedes and BMWs never even consider.  He said he had worried all morning about keeping him warm and making sure he had a good chance.  How many men would take the time to do this? This isn’t the funniest of stories and about as deep as I go, but I think about him all the time. How ironic that he had brought an opossum, the least attractive of animals but among the sweetest, who just go along their way, eating everything and cleaning up the world.  Sometimes I think we get in our own ruts and form opinions that build fences that keep out the good things.  Just like the little ‘possum, this man was a shining jewel inside a worn out box. Love lives inside the most unattractive of God’s creatures.  That man was certainly my lesson for the day and shame, shame, shame on me for needing it!

The Beagle Incident

A word about my husband, the Golden Goose.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned that he is referred to this because this is how he refers to himself.  The Golden Goose leaves the animal stuff up to me.  That’s not to say he doesn’t have a kind heart, he’s just unable to immerse himself in chaos. Lord knows he grew up in chaos, but that’s just an unfair poke at my mother-in-law’s housekeeping.  We once had a fight of such epic proportions that one of us could have easily ended up snuffed and buried in a shallow grave over something a dog I brought home did.

Let me digress, I brought home a stray dog one time we named Orlando.  This dog was so dumb he wouldn’t even acknowledge anyone when they were speaking.  I would have though he was deaf, but he jumped at noises.  I talked and cooed endlessly to him the first few days trying to build a bridge but he wasn’t having it.  Only months later, when having the house painted, did we figure it all out.  Our painter, who was of hispanic origin, yelled to his co-worker in spanish and the dog bolted awake and ran over with great interest.  He proceeded to follow their conversations for days, shadowing them and gazing with longing at them when they were on their ladders.  Apparently, he was a spanish speaking dog.  Orlando was accidently left in the Golden Goose’s office where he then chewed up an item that I still don’t feel comfortable naming.  The item itself, purchased by the Goose, was of a decorative and, I believe, cruel nature and had been the subject of angry and demonstrative discussion between us.  Thus, it resided in his office and was pointedly ignored by me.  This item, however, was quite pricy and apparently delicious as Orlando devoured a good portion of it.  Thus began what is know in my marriage as “the time of the _______ (insert horrible item’s name here) incident”.  The Golden Goose was so angry that even the sight of Orlando caused his veins to pop out in his neck and he developed a whistle when he breathed deeply.  Luckily, I was able to relocate him to a bilingual home.

This was all to preface that he should have known better.  The Golden Goose, who does have a heart, called me from the golf course, the only known safe place for a sport, and declared that he was bringing home a dog.  I really didn’t want another dog but since I have over 100 animals myself, who was I to argue?  The dog in question was a beagle.  The Goose had a beagle as a child and I suppose this is what prompted his largess.  All was well until bedtime.  The dog whined and cajoled until he was allowed, newly washed and cleaned, into our bed with our two Jack Russells.  The problem was that he wouldn’t stay on the foot of the bed.  I must emit an animal pheromone because he kept wriggling up to my head.  Even I can only go so far on the first date.  So, the Goose put him in a crate where he began to howl a blood curdling howl that only a hound can emit.  I mean it was LOUD.  I think this is where it breaks down.  Sleep deprived, the Goose stumbled back to bed where he informed me that he had placed the crate in the BACK SEAT OF HIS CAR.  It was a cool night and he would be comfortable there.  I informed him that there was about a 4” hole in the corner of the crate then.  The Goose shot back a snappy retort and I just let sleeping dogs lie. In the morning, I went to free the dog.  You know when, in cartoons, a character sees something so impressive that their eyes telescope in and out of their sockets making an ahooooga sound?  Uh huh.  I did that.  The dog had shoved his nose through the hole and eaten the back seat of the Goose’s upscale truck for men who want to say they drive a truck but really want a luxury car inside.  The seat.  He had eaten it.  He seemed none the worse for wear for this.  Upon informing the Goose of this, the dog was secured in the Goose’s office while the Goose had a tantrum that wove such a tapestry of obscenities throughout the universe that I’m sure Satan and his minions laughed with glee. I don’t know why I didn’t speak up about the wisdom of putting him in the office, that very same office,  but I’m sure the memory of “the incident” was still lurking in my mind.  In 10 minutes the dog had eaten the seagrass carpet off the stairs, jumped onto the desk and destroyed paperwork and made not one but two no-nos.  A call was made to Beagle rescue where he was placed that night.  During the night at his new home, he was left for an hour while his new owners went out to dinner.  They left him lounging on the sofa. I guess he was still hungry.

…and a ‘possum in the dishwasher

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I can pull it off pretty well in public, being normal.  In my real life as a designer, I seem okay.  My big southern hair is usually in place, I often wear lipstick and matching clothes.  I like to wear shoes that cause other women to rethink their entire lives.  I like earrings sparkly enough to make Amish women sin in their hearts. All normally goes well until I’m consulting with a client, slip up and something like this tumbles out, “I LOVE dark stain on a floor with a high gloss finish.  I have that myself.  It usually looks great but yesterday, after I mopped, the stinkin’ oposum climbed up in the dishwasher, got her feet all wet, and tracked it all over the floor”. Uh huh, that awkward silence that lets me know this was outside the parameters of what my clients were expecting when they contracted for design services.  What I do in my “other life” has crept into my big girl life and I’m getting that look from a volvo driving client who is over her head at home with just her goldendoodleschnitzapoo.

Several years ago, I got my wildlife rehabilitation license from the GA DNR because people just kept bringing injured animals to me just because I have a barn, opossums among them.  And it’s true, we did have an opossum who lived in our house for years.  I retrieved her on a rehab call with her bottom jaw stuck in a fence.  She was so glad to receive my help that she snapped and growled her appreciation throughout the entire removal process.  Although I knew I should probably euthanize her, I worked on her for weeks.  She lost a good portion of her lower jaw giving her an overbite and a lisp that would have made Drew Barrymore proud.

Glamorously named Jawbone, she refused all attempts for release and found every possible way to get into the house.  Periodically, I would look up to find her reclining on my 18th century living room sofa with the $200 yard velvet, with her tail curled provocatively around her while she opened up a $6.00 truffle I refused to let my kids eat unless a special occasion rolled around.

My daughter was in high school at the time and threatened law suits, emancipation and/or dressing me polyester and not plucking my whiskers when I get old if the secret ever got out.  Once, when she brought a new boy home and he was standing in the kitchen Jawbone sauntered through the dining room behind him.  There was a moment of panicked filled eye swearing while JB continued through the kitchen, daintily plucked a treat from the cat’s dish and continued on in what I can assume was an errand of the utmost importance.  The boy never knew what happened, although I have put aside money in a special fund for epilation after age 65.

I love opossums.  I can’t understand why they are abhorred by people everywhere.  They could be the mascot for the south. They’re not rodents, they’re marsupials, just like a kangaroo, the only ones in North America.  They don’t carry disease, they’re slow and steady and eat all the garbage in the world.  I love anyone who will clean up after themselves and have yet to train anyone one or any animal in my family to do so.  They’re slow, I admit, but cause no harm and only hiss and drool because they’re afraid. They almost never bite and will occasionally do that really cool thing and get quiet and play dead, a great talent for anyone.

Great southern women have big hearts for all living things.  Southern women are not namby pamby, scardy cats who faint when a ground hog climbs up on our porch.  We don’t hesitate to get out of our cars, in our high heeled shoes and move a turtle across the road, flippin’ our hair while we save a life.

Show me a woman who is afraid of an opossum and I’ll bet she’ll be the same woman who will refuse to dress up in a prom dress after a glass or two of wine.  Give me a woman with an opossum in her house and I’ll show you a woman who will blurt out something at a party that will cause her mother to alert the prayer chain.  Now, that’s fun.