Whatever happened to hibernation?

Forgive me if I am a bit cranky, but that is what the exotics pets said to me. The elder, smart-arsed cat said I am essentially a turnip.

The time is now eighty-two minutes since I emerged from my bedroom the first time, wearing too little clothes to stay warm.

So far I fed two ungrateful pet skunks – twice.  Sort of fed one cranky, finicky, decrepit old cat. Missed the boat in caring for my beloved, lame Newfoundland dog.

Oh… and I dressed – twice. The lovely new Edenpure heater being set too low during the coldest night of the year was the catalyst for all my problems.

Usually, I release the skunks from their den-carriers then shuffle barefooted around the kitchen with my strappy nightgown hanging off one shoulder. The goal being to feed my sweet little princesses in the timely fashion to which they are accustomed.

Rule number one with exotic pets, very old dogs and grandfather-like cats is to never break routine no matter how cold you are or unglamorous you look.

Today, I let them out and poured granola, shivered unnervingly, and went into the bedroom to dress.

Two skunks followed, complaining and eventually digging my bare feet to hurry me along.

“Mama is sure taking her own sweet time today,” Blossom said as I brushed my hair. Lacey shook her head and went back to bed to wait while Blossom continued to hurry  me along.

"What do these two know of time?" asked the twenty-four year old cat.

Snuggies, the twenty-four year old cat, rolled his eyes. “What do these two know of time?”

I was all dressed, loving my soft pink velour pants, the long-sleeved tees, my brown wool sweater and socks. Slid into my slippers to protect toes from Blossom’s skunk digs and off we galloped to the kitchen for her really late breakfast. Milk on my granola to soften. Plated up their lightly scrambled egg, milk and fresh blueberries. Coaxed Lacey back out to eat.

Pet skunk care tip: Mind you, always make sure skunkies are eating when doing anything where you do not want them to assist. Like feeding the dog, which is another story altogether. Also feeding the cat, doing laundry or going outside. I repeat, hyper-energy, super intelligent exotic pets must be eating.

My pet skunks were eating.  So fed the cat on a plate next to them, took dog food to 130-pound Newfoundland dog on doggie sleeping porch. Intent now is simply to go watch skunkies and cat eat while I eat, pick up plates and intervene as needed. Then take dog outside. Then work. Not bad for twenty minutes out of the bed.

You can feel sorry for me anytime here. I used to be a Pollyanna. Today changed me forever. The reason I am cranky.

Was heading in the door to supervise their breakfast, but my snowplow guy showed up three hours early. Good thing I’m dressed then.

The ice mound PlowGuy made on my flowerbeds.

Wade out door through snow I was going to shovel when doggie went out. Am in my soft slippy slippers.

Give my plow guy the garden parameters for the year. “Don’t pile snow on flower beds, please, flowers need spring sunlight, not ice piles with a Newfoundland dog on the ice piles on the flowers.” As we laugh and shake on it, I slide onto my arse under his truck. Unsmashed, I come in with snow in my slippers, cold socks, wet pants. So much for gratitude. At least the snow is clean. Pants will be dry in a few…. hours?

Dog says he is ready to go out. “Wait for plow guy to finish,” I say, knocking snow from slippers. I strip my pants off one frozen leg and peel embedded snow off the hem.

Do I hear the cat upchucking? Are the skunks in his food already?

Oh man, lots of windows. Snowplow guy can see me. I cover my abundant bikini-clad arse with the not-large-enough blue dog bowl. Wade through skunks to get in the door.

Shuffle through the kitchen with a pant leg dragging. No puke. (No no wait for it.) Pick up cat dish he only licked sauce off. New brand for him but the only can in the store last night… we live in the middle of nowhere… really. Not even the skunks wanted this food.

In the bedroom, I take off my lovely soft pink velour pants. Notice cat’s upchuck streaked across the dragging pant leg.

Eh.

Now you can say it.

Back to the kitchen with an armload of pink and white laundry.  From this angle, I see the cat puke in middle of kitchen floor. The sunlight enhances its aura. Drop laundry to go for cleaning bottle and paper towels before skunks track it too. And notice my first tracks of cat puke leading all the way to the bedroom. And back through it.

Step out of my fresh slippers and into more cat puke. Strip off that sock. I clean it all up and scrub the path only to feel through my other sock that I have stepped in it a third… or is it the fourth time.

You can call me a turnip anytime now. Take the second pair of slippers into bathroom to wash then redress. I’m okay. Life is good. Back to kitchen.

Remember, never break stride, never give them a chance, never ever turn your back.

"We were playing in cat puke. Why does that bother you so much?"

Yes, skunks tipped over the can of pukey paper towels they did not want, digging for anything good in the bottom where there was nothing at all. I could have told them that. As far as the upchuck…. they didn’t want the food, didn’t play with the puke when they had the chance. Now they have tracked the mess in a circle. At least they were busy in one place.

I tucked one shocked skunk upside down under my arm, busy with the other getting her hands and paws washed in the sink. It can be done. Dry her, wash and dry the other. Tuck them in the den-carriers and shut the door.

Where is that cat before he barfs again?

The dog has stopped barking at snowplow guy. I go out to admire plow guy’s handiwork. Help my lame old dog to stand by using a towel for a lift. I smell it. I smell it, I smell it. Poor old guy was barking to go out more than at plow guy’s truck. Poor dog pooped in his bed. Washed his hiney, my hands, took the bedding out to freeze since my laundry will go in first.

Then I find cat upchuck on the bottom of the laundry pile I had dropped onto the kitchen floor. I look at the cat.

Lacey would have been grooming Joseph, had she not been on time out.

Now, honestly, the twenty-four year old cat is most of the time quite confused about where you are when you call or feed him, he is pretty much blind, cannot really hear. Definitely cannot smell or taste. We know that because he would never have eaten the sauce or any canned cat food which he spent a quarter-century refusing, preferring instead premium dry food, steak, shrimp and salmon.

Today he looks at me. Yes, he is sitting on the sleeping porch daybed rolling his eyes at me. “Mom,” he says, “Wasn’t it just yesterday you said, with sarcasm, to your sweet husband something about ‘live and learn’?”

"Like I will remember that," said the ancient smart-aleck cat.

“Next time puke in your litter box.”

“Of course, like I will remember that. Just gag me.”

“Living with my great-great-great-grandfather could not be more enlightening,” I said.

I went back inside and let my skunks out of their den carriers.

They charged to the kitchen like they had never been fed.

“Mama sure took her own sweet time getting us up today,” Blossom complained to Lacey.

I gave each of them a spoonful of my soggy granola.


Skunk Medicine: There’s A Skunk In the House! and other Tail-raising Stories –pet skunk memoirs  —  On Amazon in paperback

A Breath Floats By Paperback —Novel with three pet skunks and two Newfoundland dogs in story Amazon.com paperback, Amazon Kindle version, or as an ESSA Books e book for $8.

Visit Women’s Fiction Blog – more short stories – quite often about skunks, dogs, cats. Plus myths, dense observations and the lies we are told – written by a woman.  Need I say more.

Frankly, the telephone call at one in the morning should have tipped me off that my day or dentist appointment would hold a glitch.  Yes, one after midnight calling from a restricted number.

If the call to my cell had not been from a restricted number, I might have thought twice about answering.

If the young lady had not sounded so very professional when saying the words ‘to confirm your appointment’ I might not have listened further.

If I did not have an appointment that had not yet been confirmed, the one at eight in the morning for my dental work, I might not have listened.

If the message had not been so well timed with the punch line toward the end of the professional notice, I might not have listened.

If the message was about anything other than an appointment verification for dog poo clearing, I might not have laughed later.  The Dog Poo Company confirming a three in the afternoon schedule to clean up all the dog poo in my yard.

If I had thought it was at all funny in the moment, I might not have dialed in her ear. Next time I will use my megaphone siren.

So I lost sleep, then had to get up and go to the dentist appointment.

Wrong day, right time.

If I had not skipped the Renee Zellweger movie after the holiday dinner the night before in order to get to sleep early enough.

If the appointment did not require rising at four thirty in the morning on the fourth to the shortest day of the year.

If it had not been snowing little icy flakes for three days.

If I had not chosen the wrong door for my drop off and had to cross the icy parking lot to the right building.

If Hubby had not gone on many errands so I had to await his return.

If the staff scheduler, who was willing to work me in the dentist’s schedule, had not said it would take one to three hours to maybe get me in a chair.

If only one person in that waiting room had empathy with my predicament.  You know how it is when a herd of cows are grazing and one falls over dead? Well, maybe you don’t.  The rest of the herd just keeps doing what they were doing even though they lived their entire lives with the now deceased cow. That is how detached a waiting room of patients can act when someone just might get in front of them in schedule, especially if the intruder is there on the wrong day.

If I had not skipped my coffee and breakfast and had to sit there for an hour. 

If I had not arranged my entire day to spend the wrong morning with the dentist.

If hubby were not on three to eleven shift.

If we did not have to do this again the next morning…..

Then perhaps acceptance would be easier to come by.  Right?

My daughter was discussing acceptance with me a few days ago. Just accepting that, for example, the eggs are over hard instead of over easy when over easy and dippy was the way I ordered them. Enjoy and really accept over hard eggs with no runny yolk. Fake it until you make it.

But if one has enough days like this one of being on time for the dentist on the wrong day – and has been served dozens and dozens of over hard eggs in their life, then acceptance is an elusive, difficult choice. Especially when age fifty-three and rising.

Now, my daughter is wise.  But because she is less than half my age she is also still wide-eyed as she teaches me to accept just like I tried to teach her to accept life. I taught her that this too shall pass, that keep it simple silly was the best thing she could do, that when one door closes then another one opens. I taught her that acceptance is a key to all life’s problems.

So now that I am buggered with irritation and racked with should’ve, would’ve, could haves… now she will remind me.  Then one day, when she has had enough over hard eggs with no runny yolk for her toast, and when finally I, on the other hand, have given up entirely in trying to get anything to be my way – especially my eggs – then I will remind her of the ease of a life with complete and total acceptance.

I will remember then the sunshine that does come out of days like this.

If I had not had a morning of being on time for a dentist appointment I did not have then I would not have had a wonderful breakfast with Hubby and his sister, she who rescued me from the dentist office. I would never have had time for five cups of holiday coffee or to enjoy her Christmas tree with all the unique ornaments.

I know I have probably said this far too often, but once again, this blog would not have been so easy to write, if I had been at the dentist on the right day.

Essa Adams is the author of ‘A Breath Floats By‘ a.k.a. penname Thayne Hudson. She writes Women’s Fiction Blog, Pet Skunk Medicine and authors ESSA Natural.

The Fake Ladybug in My Window

Freezing winter short story by the Women’s Fiction blog.

Feel good winter humor, really….A feel-good holiday story. Sort of....

Fake ladybugs are not to be confused with holiday ornaments either.

Did it move just now? The fake ladybug in my office window behind the plastic film? The thing is right in line with my view of the winter snow garden. Really bugging me.

One of those fake ladybugs.  An imported Asian lady beetle, orange-red with nineteen black dots on its back. The kind that pinches hard.  Pees in your mouth vile liquorish poison that makes you wail and spit for ten minutes.

How do they get in your mouth? They drink from water glasses. Crawl into salads, mixing with grape tomatoes quite nicely.

See how they would fit right in?

.

.

.

.

.

.

My office has wonderful walls of windows, so we purchased an EdenPure Heater, just to keep me warm.  Now our pets sleep in baskets by me where I spin them like rotisserie chickens.

Ask the ladybugs.  Winters are rough in the Great Lakes region. So hubby applied lovely plastic film to the windows to give them one more layer of insulation. Since I refuse to use drapes or blinds because I don’t want to lose my view of the winter garden, the film is a compromise.

The problem with this bug-thing staring in at me is that hubby is very protective of the plastic film. The technique is in the airlock. He spends the winter accusing me of pushing stacks of books, the lamp shade, and my purse into the film but these do leave dents. I cannot deny evidence.

One must understand the dynamics of our relationship, of him bringing me sustenance of coffee, c ocoa and soup while I create my prose in the frozen office. Autumn onward, I would don gloves, many sweaters with hoods, scarves, jackets, then coats and boots, frozen fingers typing numbly.

Stubborn me with my walls of vintage windows on my vintage office-porch I would not change for the world, freezing to death.  Like the bug.

Fake ladybugs are not to be confused with holiday ornaments either.

What a lovely winter garden though. Birds, wildlife, a tiny lacy cedar tree tipped in ice beads dancing beneath the grey skeleton of the high bush cranberry. I love my trees. My blue wind chimes.

Hubby loves me. So he contours the film, trims the edges within a sixteenth of an inch from the two-sided tape so I never know it is there. Then he uses hair dryer heat to coax the film to completely disappear as it spreads tighter and tighter.

Who would mess with the airlock? Not me. I’m not even touching it.

But the poor fake ladybug got caught between the windows and the plastic film.

Day before yesterday, the bug was lively. Being the coldest day of the year, I felt sorry for it, doubting its survival for more than a few more hours.  I know, I am a heartless fake ladybug hater. That evening when I turned out the lights, I do not remember noticing Fake Ladybug. She had probably frozen to death quite painlessly… right?

She? Yes, she. Aren’t all ladybugs feminine in fairytales?

Yesterday was more spring-like. Fake Ladybug was not flying around but she was still there, behind the plastic, mulling how to escape her winter wonderland aquarium. Then she disappeared for several hours. Before I turned off the lights, I checked for Fakie and she was not between the windows, not in cracks as far as I could see.

Fakie? Yes, Fakie. Just as Gracie is a cutesy name for Grace. Fakie. Using ‘ladybug’ in her name is too good for her.

Gracie, still as a nailhead on the iced windowsill.

Today I come in here to work, five essays exploding in my mind. There is Fakie, still as a nailhead on the white windowsill, staring at me through the plastic film. Eh.

I’m trying to work. And she is either dead or dying.

To my defense, these fake ladybugs can live through the winter. They hide in our insulated homes – all of us – between the drywall and outside wall, then come out in droves in the spring.

Summers they spend in alfalfa fields and when that is harvested, they fly into communities like yours to bite  – or pinch – you and your children, stick in your fresh deck stain, pee on your windows, until they settle down and crawl into your house to stink and hibernate – those that are not rolled into the bales to be fed to the poor cows. I wonder if the cows can taste that poisonous vile they spray. Uck.

To my defense, some environmentalist from some agricultural improvement agency decided the United States farmers would be better off with these cold-weather resistant Asian lady beetles instead of old tried-and-true, gentle North American ladybugs who die off in the winter, it seems, and were a bit more sluggish in cold summers ( huh? ) when they were supposed to be eating aphids, I guess, and they say our native ladybugs were not as aggressive on the aphids.

Please. Have you ever seen the close-up images of what North American ladybugs do to a smorgasbord of aphids?

To my defense, once upon a time I always scooped them up to take them outside and make a nice plot of leaves and stones for them to live under far from the house, just like I do for the mice.

To my defense, I used to take my hanging lamps apart to get the fake ladybugs out before they fried their little feet on the bulbs. And when they fry they stink too.

Then one day, hubby got out the shop vac. Who would win? Me, the defender, or him, the warrior?

But too many times the nasty creatures got in my salad.

Sagie, I should have video taped him after he ate the fake ladybug.

Once my pet skunk  tried to eat one and vomited around the house ten times over, me following with paper towels and the vinegar spray bottle while he squeaked and spit and gagged all over the hardwood floors. You laugh, but it could well be your dogs and cats eating them.

Oh!! Then I drank one of those poisonous devil bugs, so drank ipecac as a chaser to get it out of me.

I let hubby shop vac a gallon of them a week from there on out.

I couldn’t watch, couldn’t stand to hear their little screams as they were suctioned at high power into blackness like a tornado before one is in the center. Could not imagine their little faces when they were left in the stillness of the contractor strength garbage bag he dumped them into everyday.

But within a few weeks of hubby shop vacuuming fake Asian ladybugs, we had no more. And spring after spring our droves were lessened until we gave a sigh.

But now I am staring at Gracie…. I mean Fakie. And I think she was in a different position a few minutes ago. She could still be alive in there.

Not to be confused with iced berries.

But where would I keep her? What could I possibly do with her? A pet? Humor me. But fake ladybugs are not pet material.

Reminds me of when my daughter kept a slew of horned tomato worms from my garden for pets. But that is another story. Or is it? She, too, named them. Wouldn’t let me toss them in the coffee can of turpentine. Yes, that is what old-time gardeners did with tomato worms, we didn’t want to squish them… it was too gross. Couldn’t let them loose in the woods… they would fly back as a moth and recycle. Tough I should have because they reincarnate as good moths that pollinate vegetable plants.  But what is more vicious to tomato plants than horned worms, I ask?  as I transgress…..

So how do I explain the hole in the plastic film to hubby? Took him hours to contour the film to the window so I would forget it was there.

I can’t stand it. I can tape the hole with clear duct tape. If you don’t know it yet, clear duct tape and plastic wireties really are a woman’s best friend. If you take nothing from this blog, that is what I bestow on you and your life from here on out. May you be blessed with an abundance of clear duct tape and your plastic wireties be all sizes and colours.

Fakie is so still.

I just took out the tiny knife I use for graphics. Sliced a tiny opening, like surgery on Grey’s Anatomy. Put the end of the knife through the narrow hole to pull Fakie out.

And she took off running the other way.

I sliced the hole larger to stop her, but she has quite a bit of life left even if she gave up flying.

I wanted to slice the entire bottom edge of the film along the sill to stop her. I wanted to. But that would be a lot of explaining to do.

I know you wanted me to save her. But get a grip, will you. This is not Tinker Bell. We’re talking Fakie, the fake Asian lady beetle that pees in your mouth when you try to eat her, bites you when you mow the lawn, stinks up the insulation between your walls. Has no natural predators in North America. Apparently not even the freezing winters of the Great Lakes.

So just get a grip.

Gracie freezing in the shade.

There she is. Hiding around the corner of the window, a little alcove only Fakie can fit into. I feel bad now. At least before I bothered her, Fakie was sunning herself on the windowsill. Now she is plastered to a piece of metal in the shade.

Okay, I need advice here. What would you do? And don’t tell me to spray bug poison through the hole to put her out of her misery. Really, what would you do?

Hours later… Fakie is on the move…. waddles past the slice in the film, to the other side of my window. I try to pull the plastic loose on the other side of the window but hubby has it down to a science, there is no place for leverage without cutting in.

Wait, Fakie comes back by the hole. Thinking fast, I stick the curved end of my bifocals through and scoop her out the hole. She falls on her back on my open journal. Did I mention they spray that noxious poison too and stink up your stuff and hands and when you are trying to get them out of your hair, they spray so you need to shampoo three times? I forgot they do this. My journal, windowsill and bifocals now need washed.

Fakie is playing dead. I forgot they do this too. With no natural predators, one would think that they would not need to play dead here in North America. Do you suppose it will take a few more generations, or could they be thousands of years here before they lose the natural instinct to play dead? I do know they will become even more cold resistant. Good to know for managing winter happy aphids in the winter garden here in the Great Lakes region.

What to do with her? I never did decide. No, I’m not keeping her in a jar until Spring. Get a grip.

I let her fall onto a soft tissue, then tuck her into an old envelope from my office trash basket, fold the envelope securely so she will not get out. Put her into the trash right on top so I can think about what to do with her. Don’t worry, I won’t leave her there. She wanted to hibernate in peace and warmth anyway. While I think where she will hibernate, I will write my next essay.

Obnoxious little fake ladybug.

Read Gracie’s Freezing Little Sister next. Oh yes, and hubby’s response to the airlock issue.

.

Essa Adams is the author of a spiritual fiction romance novel.   A Breath Floats By: An Illusion for the Soul. Penname Thayne Hudson.  “What would you do if you realized you married your best friend’s soulmate?”   Yes, attitude and all, she is a writer of spirituality, really. Excerpts and Chapter One are at ESSA Books.

.

She also writes essays on her pet skunks and other fur children, both in blogs and her book, Skunk Medicine: There’s A Skunk In the House! and Other Tail-raising Stories. Pet skunks and Newfoundland dog excerpts are at ESSA Books.

.

.

This blog is entitled ” Women’s Fiction ” because it is about life as a woman. ‘Write what you know.’  ‘Make sure you have suffered enough first.’ Myths, dense observations and the lies we have been told.

.

© Copyright December 2008.

Contact author for details on permission to reprint.

ESSA Books

Some people just can’t stand to eat off the same plates as a skunk.

Frankly, I don’t see the problem. It’s not like the plate remains unwashed.

"Really, are they are going through the wash next?" asks Sagie who is washing dishes for Mama.

Unless the skunkie fools you into thinking it is washed. They will lick a plate for ten minutes and it will shine when it has not been into a sudsy dishwater bath. But we skunk people know that and we wash everything.

My family though, my dad namely, has issue. And I can see the point. But these are not dogs or cats doing what dogs are cats do. They are tidy, polite little domestic skunkies.

One Thanksgiving we had everyone to the cabin. One of the last years we were all together, we meaning all of us in the family and both my pet skunks, Jeronimo and Sequoia.

After dinner, I made a feast plate for my skunkies. Brought them out to the kitchen to eat their dinner where everyone could enjoy how cute and sweet and cuddley. Skunk people are like new parents, they never get over the pride and bragging.

Sequoia and Jeronimo usually ate off stompable, unbreakable plastic plates. But all skunk holiday feasts are served on white antique stoneware china from England. Remember the lead in antique china is real, so don’t do this often. But we humans had antique china, so did they, the skunkies. Dining with all but the candles that might set ablaze their little tail feathers.

The next holiday my sister admitted how cute they were. But Dad had a problem. She politely, diplomatically asked if I have plates for the people from which the skunks did not eat.

Since those are their special plates and I have modern day white stoneware for everyone else, rest assured, Dad did not eat from a skunk plate.

But really, only skunk people know. These are special creatures. Intelligent. Resourceful with their surroundings…..

Skunks wipe like people. Skunks do not lick their hineys. They might scoot on the nearest rug to wipe…. but they do not lick. So the plan is to place right by the litter pan the washable rug you want them to use for wiping. But no, skunks do not lick. They wipe and everyday they brush themselves and brush their teeth too. They sit on their fat flat haunches and groom their hiney fluff with their little hands. So cute.

"Can I have your bean?" "No."

Skunks do not eat gucky stuff. Unless of course, we are feeding them crickets and grubs. That more real version of skunk dining is not happening in my house, I kiss my skunks. They must be content with steak and chicken, shrimp and salmon. Proteins that I, too, am willing to eat.

Thanksgiving dinner, skunks eat turkey (no ham or pork, please) and stuffing and yams without sugar. They eat corn on the cob, French bean casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. They should never eat too much sugar at once but they will eat all you give to them.

Want the Thanksgiving dishes from prep-cooking to be pre-washed before they hit the dishwasher or after they are inside said dishwasher? Skunks can handle it. Just don’t put in knives or fork tines facing up.

Turn a flock of skunks loose on a huge bowl where pumpkin pie filling was mixed, fifteen minutes of licking and it is good to go. Yes, you will want to consider sugar, salt and seasoning intake. No raisin cookies or mock mince meat, since the raisins in those cause renal failure in animals. No asparagus which causes grand mal seizures.

But these domestic skunks, they are thorough if nothing else.

Skunkie moral of the story: I’ve got nothing. Except you want a dish washed right, give it to a skunk.

Thirty pet skunks stories, all about the boys.

 

Turquoise Autumn

November 9, 2009

autumnThe startling turquoise of the sky behind russet and golden leaves made me think of my mother the moment I opened my eyes this morning.

.

.

.

Mom has been gone for over a decade but the colours of autumn always bring the best of memories.  These colours were of the favorite dress I ever had.  She sewed the dresses like crazy to be done for holiday, one for her, one for me, one for my sister.  The material was crisp, medium plaid with azure and turquoise running with rust, bark, golds, maple, wheat colours.  I think she thought that plaid the loveliest material ever too.

Autumn means to me, Mom at her finest.  She was a vivacious, wild card, yet Martha Stewart-type.  A wild card, period.  Ask the family.  But she was down-to-earth.  The farmer heritage ran through-and-through.

She never stopped harvesting.  Rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, apples, grapes.  The vegetable garden, her gardens.  I think an acre with everything consolidated.thruautumn

The best ever, I think, was Mom stealing walnuts from the farmer.  Well, the tree did stand by the road.  The walnuts did fall in the middle of the road.  They did stay there for days on end after they fell.

But every year we stole them.  She rushed in with the back of the car right by those walnuts.  Hurry Hurry.  Out we would jump, us two girls, sometimes our cousins or a friend.  We would throw the walnuts into a box in the trunk and she sped us away.  Us innocent children fearing arrest.

Did I say she was a wild card?  She was a light.  In those moments, she was a light.

Every year we dumped walnuts from the farmer’s tree on our driveway.  She would drive over and over them, crushing off the shells.  Then she wore gloves as she cracked them with a hammer and brick, and we dug the walnut meats out with darning needles.  Glass jars of walnuts were on our shelf all winter.

You know what that meant.  The first batch was chocolate walnut fudge and buttered popcorn.  The beginning of the holiday spree.   Like I said, a wild Martha Stewart, never-ending of baking and decorating.  Those were Mom’s good days.

Rake and pumpkins laying on wine barrelTurquoise autumn sky.  Dad hauling huge pumpkins to the front yard that she had milk-fed.  Time to deal with the chickens before winter.  Pruning grapes, digging bulbs.  She could wear long sleeves again, she hated short sleeves anyway.  The last chance to get out and see some friends before winter snows kept her in the county.

But mostly, it was all about that dress.

Essa Adams

Essayist, writer, novelist.

.

.

A Breath Floats By: An Illusion for the Soul

Mature women in women's fiction.

WOMEN’S FICTION OR MYTH — We must never use dog poop to take out our frustrations on anyone.

A LADY-LIKE ESSAY

ladylike-essay-on-dog-poopFirst, what to do with the neighbor’s dog poop?

  1. Recycle coffee cans for neighborly gifts.   Fill them with dog poop destined for the dump where it acts as compost heat. Of course, when the sun beats down on a coffee can with a plastic lid, the ripeness is overwhelming and you might want to think twice about that lid ever coming off while in your yard.  Deliver it to proper owner.
  2. Keep composted cans for our hydrangeas, mix with coffee grinds and cottonseed meal.  Wear an oxygen mask.  Cover fertilizer with decorative gravel or woodchips.
  3. Wing dog pile at side of neighbor’s garage. When it sticks you know they might get the idea.

An explanation may be in order. I will try to advocate this fine idea without giving away my brother’s identity.

  • When the dog poop does not belong to your dog – that means we can all recognize what comes out of our dog and we find a dog pile in our yard that is not like the other.  This usually happens in a pattern. Neighbor’s dog visits, does business, goes home. Neighbor does not wonder why his dog is constipated. They know full well dog is fine, they can see piles over the fence rotting in your backyard.
  • But that’s okay, the neighbors know it will all come back to them. That is because when you go out and scoop your own dog piles you throw their dog piles back over the fence. You used to gingerly drop them over the side into a polite little mountain. But then you just started winging the pile to randomly fall where they may, after all that is the way you find them. One day you have had enough shit and give it a whirl off the shovel. Splat. On the side of the garage it sticks. Oops.
  • What would you do? Scrape it off with a long stick? Use your power washer? Leave it? My brother smeared it with the stick, not intentionally, he did feel badly. Then he left it there all summer, seems the neighbors never came to that side of the garage to notice, never missed that pile at all. Finally, I want to belive with all my heart, that my sister-in-law, dear long-suffering woman, wearied of looking at it every evening when she retired to an iced tea on the patio.  Perhaps she hosed it off.  Perhaps bro did.

Garth and SusannaWhat to do with your own dog’s poop?

  1. Pick up before the lawn crew arrives. We only have the giant-sized to worry about.  Nice tidy poop from eating highly digestible dog food.  We always tred to get every bit, especially before the lawn crew comes to mow.  Still, there was once a pile missed and the youngest guy mowed it.  He’s mowing with a potentially deadly machine, for crying out loud.  How can he miss a rock?  Would he mow a rock?  A Newfie dogpile is not boulder-size, but definitely noticeable.  The lawn crew owner complained because his tractor and trailer and inside his truck was tracked up with dog poop.  Don’t look at me.  I wouldn’t have done it.  If the kid had mowed a rock, he would have worse problems than smeary dog poop.   Now we mow our own lawn.
  2. Install a second septic system just for the dogs. This is for townspeople with Newfoundland-sized dogs.
  3. Little plastic baggies, turn wrong side out, pick up stuff, turn right side out and zip closed. This is for city dwellers who walk dogs in the street while wearing their career threads.  Biodegradeable plastic is environmentally-correct.
  4. Country dwellers. Some fill wheelbarrows and actually use their dog poop on the compost piles that feed the fruit trees. I wouldn’t want it on my vegetable garden, but this is ponderable use of fine energy, at the very least.  Very eco-friendly.   farm
  5. Country dwellers. Throw it onto the farmer’s field at the roadside without the plastic holding bag.  Extremely eco-friendly.  But the farmer might have an opinion.
  6. Wait until it freezes then rake it into piles and pick up.  Beginning of September is when it starts at our house.  Hubby tried it a few times.   Oh yes.  The one in charge of these piles is usually identifiable as a husband or teenage son-in-training to be a husband.  Picker-upper must have unfailing hope anda positive attitude.  a)  Must hope for no rain.  stars mom and daughterb)  Must hope for no leaves on the piles of poop so the unaware woman of the house will not skate through the poop.  c)  Must hope for no leaves on the piles so the woman’s young children will not dive into the leaves and dog poop.  No, we would not want that.  d)  Finally, the person in charge of the piles who decided to let them freeze before scooping must hope for a very short autumn to pull this off.    This only works once a decade really.  Once the visualization of the wife skating free-form through a pile of wet leaves over a few piles of dog poop, well there is no getting that out of your mind.   So the person in charge keeps seeing it happen and there is no hope of it never happening again.  Even in this rare form, it is still the power of attraction.  The Law of Victimization.  The Power of Humour.  Or whatever you want to call it, it’s still your ass.

Essa Adams is a publisher and writer, her latest novel … with two Newfoundland dogs and a second septic for the house …  is published under the penname Thayne Hudson.   A Breath Floats By is available from Amazon, with more information at ESSA Books.   She is author of pet memoirs,  Skunk Medicine: There’s a Skunk in the House! and Other Tail-Raising Stories.  She publishes the Women’s Fiction Blog and Pet Skunk Medicine blog where one will find excerpts, short pet stories, a bright array of essays and rants.

The toll booth –

What was it our parents always said about having quarters for phone calls? Well, you know where this going. 

Right up there with the problems in the United States economy is the unmanned tollbooth. I do not like them, they too are eating away at our economy, just like computerized checkouts. I will not use an unmanned anything. Give me a person with a job.

Let’s talk how insane this is on the personal level, really.

My story — Driving from Wisconsin along the west side of Chicago, alongside suburbia-something is all I know. An icy evening, dark at four o’clock…… 

Speed passage lanes – confusing as they are – pull me off the speedway and get me lost. Keep me from paying my tolls.  Bad enough there was construction and narrow winding lanes along cement walls for forty miles. By the fourth toll booth, I had it figured out, just keep driving, pay later. I wanted to go home.

But I knew that because I missed tollbooth number one so I stopped at the second tollbooth, paid for that toll and said, “I missed a toll back there.” He wouldn’t take my extra fare. Simple enough arrangement, but no, I was given a pink slip with instructions to pay online. I played dumb. “What does pay online mean? Put my credit card out there online?” His eyes rolled. No way, he wasn’t taking the money.

I have to pay online. So I try but the form wants to know what tollbooth. I don’t know. There were three, no less. Maybe five. It was a long happy retreat, I was tired and snowed upon and cold. Hungry, homesick, and confused. The night was dark. So I do not know nor can I figure out using the map just where I missed those tolls.

Besides, the state in question wants my license plate number and driver’s license number and social security and credit card information. I’m afraid to go back to Illinois. Hell, I’m afraid to drive around Indiana, it’s too close to Chicago. And I’m afraid to drive in my home state of Michigan because they know how to find me here. I have become a recluse because I missed three or five tolls for what?? Fifty cents each in Illinois. But you know what I am more afraid to do, that’s send my social security and credit card and address and date of birth and driver’s license number and license plate number over the internet to pay Illinois a couple bucks in tolls.

Gets worse! I get off at a toll booth in Indiana to visit my brother.

pines-blog

The scenery on the tollbooth exit tonight. Not so romantic.

I have always loved the toll booth scenery there because it is like landing from the speedway into the silent pine forest. I remember just a few months ago telling the man that he had a lovely quiet job there in the middle of nowhere.

I remember thinking how he could sit and read or sing all day, play his guitar between semis and cars stopping to pay.

And I remember thinking how desolate he was there in the pine forest right off the edge of insanity with civilization howling past. Thinking how I wouldn’t want his job for anything.

Anyway…… I get off the speedway to go to my brother’s home, a not-so-late black-out evening, a halfway point over-nighter on my way home.

The toll booth was closed. Except I still have to pay. The nice man is gone? I think this is not cool. Was he on vacation, laid off?

A computer was doing his job. Gate is down and this time I must pay.

I am expected to pay seventy-five cents into a jackpot slot. I was going to give the nice man a dollar bill. The single dollar bills were in my wallet, the ones I had been attempting to use to pay the Illinois tolls.

But the computer only accepted nickels, dimes, quarters, or credit cards.

My purse is in the back.

My credit card is not a credit card, it is a debit card anyway. And would the computer confiscate it because I had no other money to pay?

Really, I had no other money to pay. Just my dollar bills, a fifty or two, no coins of silver. I dig through my wallet and find a nickel and a dime with many pennies, then drag my purse to the front and dig out two more silver coins.  Still need fifty-five cents. But I’m getting somewhere.

You know what though?  I’m scared. I am really scared. And ticked off. This dilemma was a perfect enraging spice of energy for an otherwise perfect day.

I am somewhere between a college campus with no people and a prison five miles away.  Where would an escapee head to get the heck out of Dodge but the nearest tollbooth where someone has to stop thus can be carjacked or even killed for the car. That is not a question.

Then there are the speedway people who pull up behind me, like the one who did. It’s him and me. Him waiting, me trying to get my money in the slot and go. Me with my window down watching all sides of my vehicle. Please don’t get out and try to help me, mister, I will definitely crack the gate off with my Denali, don’t think I can’t. But he waited. A nice man I am sure, but I was scared.

I dig through the pockets of my coat and find a quarter. I dig through the dark recesses of the cup holders filled with pennies and finally find silver, one looks Canadian.

In the end the little computer booth doesn’t want the last two coins, it must have taken me too long and my time expired. I was bashing the front of the machine with my hand to get the coins to make a difference in its silver-consumed little computer brain. Several bashes and it worked. The gate went up. I went on.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels sold the Indiana Tollway to a consortium, the firms Cintra of Spain and Macquarie of Australia, which gave Indiana $3.8 billion. Funds the state uses for roads.  Funds that impress the state voters to reelect him for his audacious ability to keep the state in the black.  He is getting a copy of this experience. Online, in print and through every congressperson and council person he has working with him.

One speed pass lane on a speedway is enough, we are supposed to conserve fuel, driving faster is not cutting it. Autos do not need to thrust through at six and ten lanes wide.

A tollbooth needs a toll person.  A security guard would be a nice touch. Two or more jobs right there, depending on location and time of night.

People need the jobs. Travelers need the people.

If you read Gracie – the Fake Christmas Ladybug last December, you may wonder what happened to her now that she would becoming out of hibernation.  Well, Gracie, it seems, dehydrated while in the tissue-lined envelope in my desk drawer.  I don’t know what those fake lady bugs drink whey are stuck in the wall sleeping all winter, but they must depend on some sustenance.

I don’t mean to sound callous, though I know I do.  But I tried to save her.  I nearly ruined my marriage saving her.  The duct tape is still there to remind me.  And yes, the plastic film is still on all these windows.  Here where we live the plastic is needed to break the freezing wind gusts from the lake until the end of April.  We do uncover some key windows for listening to spring bids in the garden and letting a breeze through the house on warmer days.

And yes, there are many of Gracie’s little sisters trapped in the plastic, some died already.  I feel terrible, really I do.  But if there were any real lady bugs in there – the kind with only five or less spots, I would get them out and take them to a brush pile in the garden, really I would.

Gracie’s story link is on the right menu if you are inclined to know the whole terrible scene.

I thought I was unacceptable then.

I thought I was unacceptable then.

Digging through photos, I found one of me when… Dang!  I looked pretty good. Follow the sequence of photos as I age, you will see what I mean. Young women, take it and run. Understand that we live in the shadow of Barbie. Don’t hide from the camera, no matter your size.

Allowing more photos to be taken of me is only one little resolution though. Being the self-starter, perfectionistic-type, it seems that a more influential plan is in rounding out this one intention with other important goals I know I will meet. And why not write them down? I’ll do them, I will. Really.
.
Christmas kiss

Christmas kiss

2009 New Year Resolutions

Essa Adams a.k.a. Thayne Hudson

.

.

.

.

.

  • More photos taken of me. Check out this progression over the years. I well remember how discontented I was when the photo was taken. Now I like the picture. If that’s my reaction at fifty-ish, what do I think I will be saying when I’m seventy-something?
  • Eat more soup, vegetables, salads. Honestly, my favorite foods.
  • Plant a winter garden on the sleeping porch tables and shelves in January. Use garden lights.
  • Have a load of horse and chicken manure dumped in my back yard. Top with soil and organic compost. In late-March, plant garden.
  • Read all my books on the Essenes.
  • Write A Walk-in Illusion during February-March in six weeks or less, then don’t look for several months.
  • Publish Forever, Moore in June 2009.

Do I have to have ten?

Earliest in series

Second in my aging series

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

  • Dance every day. One song makes me happier.
  • Bicycle often.
  • Read two novels a month. Review, promote for other authors to reach their dreams. Believe the same will happen for me.

That’s ten. One more…

When I started to really hide from the camera.

When I started to really hide from the camera, eighteen years ago.

  • Spend more time with all the people and fur children I love. If not time, then be closer to them, call them, connect.

Eleven has always been a special number for me. So we have eleven.

Good luck with yours, if you are gullible enough to make any.

.

The last photo is from four years ago. Though I look younger now, since then, since I was in my teens even, I have hidden behind the camera. But this is a new year. I may hold my granddaughter and pet skunks in front of me, but I will be seen and remembered.

We all want a glow of pleasure from our memories. Let’s not be encouraged us to hide in shame and humiliation of our appearance – to hide from the means for our families to also have those memories after we are gone. Let’s learn to make friends with the camera.

camera not my friend

Camera not my friend, can you tell? Seven years ago.

I wanted to burn this. Now I am okay.

I wanted to burn this. Now I'm okay, really.

that happy bloated pms feeling

Feeling a little heavy?  PMS make you want to crush someone’s lovely ornaments this holiday?  No, it’s not always a pretty picture. Thank goodness for all the extra sacred chocolate hanging around.

My sister concluded that menstrual cycles seem to flow with the holidays, though this may seem improbable. But then, it is the Winter Solstice, and even I have cramps though I have been menopausal for a few years…. again…oooi.

Sometimes we need to recycle laughs. Here’s one I would read every year of my life and enjoy. Pass it on to a woman – or man – who needs a reality check. This too shall pass. No, really.

—An actual letter from an Austin woman sent to an American company, ******* and ******, regarding their feminine products.  She really gets rolling after the first paragraph. It’s PC Magazine’s 2007 editors’ choice for best webmail-award-winning-letter. I’m just glad these days are done for me.


Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your ‘A*****’ m*** pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I’d probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I’d certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can’t tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there’s a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered
from The
curse’? I’m guessing you haven’t. Well, my time of the month is
starting
right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently
surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust
and I’ll be transformed into what my husband likes to call ‘an inbred
hillbilly with
knife skills.’ Isn’t the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you’ve no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers monthly visits from ‘Aunt Flo’. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it’s a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend’s testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey’s Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy!

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants… Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: ‘Have a Happy Period.’

Are you kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness – actual smiling, laughing happiness is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James?  FYI, unless you’re some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything ‘happy’ about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don’t march down to the local Walgreen’s armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end Your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn’t it make more sense to say
something that’s actually pertinent, like ‘Put Down the Hammer’ or ‘Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong’ — or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bull sh*t. And that’s a promise I will keep.  Always.

Best,
Wendi A******
Texas

WOMEN’S FICTION BLOG NOTE ::: Pass it forward.  RSS back to Women’s Fiction blog for review of the year, creative writing, recipes, spiritual context, guest bloggers and authors. Here you get it both ways, women’s fiction and the truth. You get to figure out which it is.

The Freezing Fake Christmas Ladybug

Gracie: The Freezing Fake Christmas Ladybug

Read Gracie: The Freezing Fake Christmas Ladybug and enter the book-giveaway for December!