Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One-Man Crowd Control

He’s named Thomas the Turtle and I discovered him in my backyard polishing off a discarded strawberry. He appeared one day behind the lemon balm and “liked to startle the be-jeezus out of me,” as my Grandma Reed would say.

Thomas, by Janet Planet

Glaring at me with a combination of disgust and amusement, we run across each other on occasion. He, with his crusty eyes and bad attitude; me, with my skittish nerves and garden tools - two such different beasts sharing the same stomping grounds making our way on an ever-shrinking planet.

Truth is, he reminds me of Bill Hill, an ornery friend from my hometown Detroit whose lessons in survival were never sugar-coated musings. Rather, truthful and annoyingly spot-on.  

I like those kinda guys today.  I’m married to one now. 
They are not for the squeamish. 
But it wasn’t always that way. I used to be more gullible. Denser. Frightened stiff and stupid. You might not have known that about me if we were sharing the same seat on a bus. But smoke and mirrors can hold off a truckload of delusion.

Bill was one of those tribe elders who helped me see the light. When he entered a room, in One-Man Crowd Control fashion, people were relieved to see him because they needed his stubborn strength or they were horrified that he showed up. It was hard to be neutral about him. That's what made his lessons stick.

“Too damn bad,” was a common response to my impatient whinings, back in the day.

That’s what I imagine Thomas uttering when I gripe about bug infestations or stubborn weeds or things that don’t grow. 
“So? What the hell you gonna do about it?!” 

I don’t know what happened to Bill. I can’t track him down. As of late, the same goes for my Eastern Box Turtle friend. But their hard-scrabbled lessons of survival continue to shore me up in wildly uncertain moments. 

“Deal with it!”

So, I do.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Polar opposites

Photos courtesy of Ali Denk 

One of the hottest summers on record could not stop Mother Nature from hurling a few hailstorms our way.  Take that, global warming!
By contrast, mere mortals aren't nearly as impressive as they would like to believe.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Keep the coop clean and carry on

Marilyn, far right, as a groovy, young chick, with gal pals. Photo: Robert Schley 

I just learned that Marilyn was mauled last week and didn’t survive. Having just spent the weekend with her room mates, I’m shocked. I am sitting shiva, albeit belatedly, to honor my friend.  God accepts all petitions, I believe, even those for fine, feathered friends from fallen away Catholic girls like me.

Marilyn was an Ameraucana chicken - a lusty, busty hen who lived a cozy little life in the Town of Matthews with her pen-mates until a raccoon invaded their home and, well – that’s that.

Nature is an evil bitch, at times. But we remain calm and carry on. What choice do we have?

Part of my newly-crafted career as a Middle-Aged-Woman-Without-A-Steady-Job includes chicken sitting duties. My friend Jane hired me to handle her menagerie while she and her hubby Brian travel. Our grown sons have been buddies since elementary school.  Jane was a rabid fan of my family’s now-defunct community newspaper, for which I will always be grateful. She’s always had a thing for such newspapers, having grown up with a father – Neal Friedman - who wrote a wildly popular column in the Baltimore Jewish Times.

So, now I feed her animals, where she used to feed me story ideas. It is a fine arrangement, as she pays well, and I get all the chicken poop I can handle for my garden. My finned and furry charges also include a skittish but painfully lovely rescue dog named Delilah; a tank full of fish;  and the coolest cat on the planet, Mr. Kitty, who thinks he’s a dog and has a face not unlike the actor Elijah Wood of Frodo Baggins fame.

Stock photo: Mr. Wood
Family photo: Mr. Kitty

Rest in peace, Miss Marilyn! We’ll keep the coop clean and carry on!