After hitting publish on last Friday’s post, there came a “series of unfortunate events.” I went to my Gran’s bedroom to check on her. She was still sleeping. But I found her cat — normally adorable, ineffectual as a hunter, and hopelessly fluffy between the ears. And the cat had a squirrel.
There had been a similar incident with a baby bunny a couple weeks back. But I thought, “It’s one off.” Maybe Minka had chased it and, being a very young bunny, it had a heart attack. After all, there was no blood.
But this time? Minka had clearly caught, killed, and dragged the bloody body of this baby squirrel to the foot of Gran’s bed — the bed on the butternut white carpet! This was her way of saying “Thanks for the great canned food the other day.” I think.
The squirrel, like the bunny before it, was a quick, pick up and run to the trash before Gran even saw it. But she saw me and asked. So I told her. She sighed and went back to sleep. But can you guess who remembered and was asked to shampoo the carpet later?
Later that day, as I was vacuuming, my spring daisy nose stud somehow fell out. I didn’t notice. I didn’t feel it. I just caught sight of myself in the mirror and realised. Holy crap! I was so upset, but I got it from a local shop. There was a search, but it’s only 3mm, so I gave up. It was okay, it’s easily replaced once I’m home.
Fortunately, because I change my stud seasonally, and Memorial Day was only a few days away, I had my simple summer aquamarine ready to go. And fortunately, I was able to get it in without much trouble despite the time lapse. A friend of mine kept losing hers and she every time she had to have her nose re-pierced. She did it three times.
Saturday morning, Minka brought home another dead thing, a baby ground squirrel. She’s a housecat with access only to the backyard and garage, but Gran’s yard is like a wildlife nursery. This time I found her, and it, on the patio. I had cleverly blocked the cat door. She was just starting to munch on the poor thing.
It was more than I could take. I gave her some canned food as a distraction, and removed the little body. I decided to up her canned food and also to re-mow the back lawn, this time to a much shorter level, so ever little creature could see there was a giant cat heading for them.
That afternoon, I heard from the son of Gran’s nextdoor neighbors, via email, that one of his folks’ cats had disappeared. He asked me to keep an eye out for it. I was hoping it just got stuck in someone’s garage over the holiday weekend. It happens. But it was probably out in the evening and a coyote got him.
Minka was very upset. Minka and Teamo were friends. They had been for years. They had an ongoing kitty coffeeklatch, every morning, at the chainlink fence beneath the orange tree. The biggest danger there was a falling orange. Teamo was a wonderful, gentle, loving soul. I often talked to him when I saw him. He will be missed.
Normally, I’d go over and offer sympathy but you know…. covid. So I had to write a note, and put it in a sympathy card, and leave in their post box. And that sucked. The following morning, Sunday, Gran’s neighbors across the street, who have lived there probably 35 years, put up a for sale sign on their lawn. Again, normally I’d go over and talk to them, but you know … covid. Another note, in a card, in a post box.
I’m sorry but, “Suck it, Covid!”
My Gran was really upset about the neighbors who are moving. They all go to the same church. Or they did, back when there was church. But in the midst this revelation, my mother showed up. That was a good distraction. Until my mother said, “if they are moving, we really need to clean up the front landscaping so they get a better price. A good neighbor would do that.”
So I planned to jump on that Monday, but decided to do some data visualization instead, see Monday’s post. And then cleaning the fridge got thrown into the mix. That would have been enough for anyone, but that afternoon Gran had blood pressure episode of some kind. She has these now and then. It gets super high, like 220/102 high.
Mutti freaked. She’s not used to seeing Gran go through these episodes. I did my best to bring it down, but it was really stubbornly high and her meds make her heart rate go way down. So then there’s that. The sad part? I kept thinking, “Thank God she was here when it happened, and she couldn’t blame me for being a bad caregiver.”
I didn’t want to leave my mother hung out to dry. So I spent the next two days trying to get Gran back on track. And cleaning up the front landscaping, in hellish hot weather. I can’t say I got Gran back to where she was before the episode, her pressure was still on the high side and it was having an impact on her ability to think, but she was better and not dead. Gotta count that a win.
I was supposed to leave late Weds afternoon, I like twilight driving. But out of concern for Gran, and my mother’s ability to cope, I put it off to early Thursday morning. Probably a good thing. Gran was feeling a little better (she took CDB, yes edible marijuana, the previous night) and saw me off with smiles and hugs. My mother was more tears and hugs, but so was I. I have to admit that.
I spent the first couple miles sobbing. It was okay though. It was predawn. No one could see. By the time the sun was coming up, the tears were gone and I was facing a new day, a new dawn and feeling good. Because I knew I wouldn’t be back this way for a long time, I opted to take the coast road. It adds a lot of time, but I couldn’t see wasting my one chance at a long drive on traveling through the less attractive and hotter interior.
By the time I reached my parents house, it was lunch time. Da was out in the backyard, doing a bit of mahi-mahi grilling. He tried to play it cool when he saw me. But, he got weepy pretty quick. He claimed it was the smoke from the grill. Then he sprinted inside to get me a “surprise.”
The surprise turned out to be Hugo, a long time friend of the family. He and my father go hiking a lot. He also loves bird watching. And he’s super handy. Because of the pandemic, Hugo had lost his job and finally his place, because he was unable to make rent for June and his landlord actually needed that rent income to live on, so…he did the honorable thing.
Da was putting him up in the studio over the garage. But really, he was living in the house and sleeping in the studio. I almost asked if Mutti knew about Hugo’s guest status. From what I understood, Mutti left on Sunday morning and Hugo began moving in on Monday But I decided I didn’t want to know.
Hugo is super tidy as well as super handy, so if this is how Da keeps the place from turning into a hoarder’s paradise? Sure. Okay. That’s better for my mother. And Hugo’s got at least three months before she asks any questions.
I’d forgotten how much fun I have with my father. We share a love of coffee table books — not even sure people know what those are anymore. We can chat for hours about wilderness botany, or origami, or all sorts of fantastical things my mother would consider “ridiculous.”
And I’d forgotten how my Da swears in euphemisms aka minced oaths. “Cheese and crackers” is a favorite. It’s his version of Jesus Christ. He’s also fond of Judas Priest, not the band. For crying out loud, another fav. Jeeze, gosh, and sometimes Jiminy Cricket also make the cut. But Mother of God is a little too far for him. Sometimes he says God! …. but then adds after a pause, have mercy on my soul.
That evening, we had a Throwback Thursday 1960s retro dance party in the backyard. Which was absurd, since there was only three of us. But Hugo and Da had already hung the patio lights and psychedelic streamers in my honor of my arrival. Plus, nehru jackets and hippie fashion? I’m in.
So there was dancing, and some reasonably bad karaoke. For my finally, I went with a gender adjusted (using him and Der) version of I’m a Believer. I’m hoping there’s no recording. But there probably is. Da loves blackmail. You were probably thinking Der’s penchant for songs came from his side of the family, nope. Too much time with the Andersons. We can be a corrupting influence.
Things ended with Hugo and Da singing a great “Build me up, Buttercup.” They both got some good pipes. Our neighbors, over the fence in their own yard, applauded. It was good night all around. And not once did I have to worry, about anything, but me. Which is not to say there wasn’t some worry happening.
Before we went to bed, Da said he’d really only feel I was safe once I was back up North. Wow, Da, I’m not even home a day and you want to get rid of me? He told me Der had called him that morning and “begged me not to let your better nature cause you to delay.”
“First of all,” I said, “I don’t believe I have a better nature. Second, Really? I‘ve traveled the globe, by myself. Third, breathing is a deadly risk these days. Safe is a relative term.” Da gave me a wink, and replied, “I didn’t make him any promises.”
When I went to bed, I actually just went to bed. I didn’t have to spend an hour getting Gran from her chair to her bed, and changing her depends, and making sure she had her light and bell. I could just… go to bed. As I flopped on my bed, I noticed a tiny gift box on my nightstand.
Inside, it held a silver jackalope on silk cord. When I was young we drove across the desert and I saw a jackalope. I told my parent and instantly Mutti said that impossible, there were no jackalopes. It was probably a jackrabbit with some bush behind it that looked like horns.
I let it drop, but at the next rest stop, while Mutti was powdering her nose, my Da asked for jackalope details. I told my father I really did see a jackalope. There were no bushes around it. He said he believed me, but we probably shouldn’t tell my mother.
He said, “It’s alright to believe the impossible. Progress only happens in the world because some rare individual believes possible what everyone else has decided is impossible.”
My Da. He’s the best. A rare individual if ever there was one.
This morning we all went for a hike and I saw a western bluebird. Yep, finding the bluebird of happiness, even in the most impossible of times, is possible.
Oh, love song of the week?
“Anything I want?” Man, you know I’m starting a list –and a live jackalope is right at the top.