Dec 24, 2008

Edison and the Perfect Christmas Photo

I wanted to have Edison's picture taken with Santa because the Santa at our mall is really good: fat, jolly, red faced and with a big bushy white beard. And he wears lush velvet, not some nasty old worn out costume from a costume supply shop. There was a "have your pet's photo taken with Santa" day at the mall this week but I wasn't aware of it until I got there and saw dozens of dogs of all shapes and sizes all dressed up in their best holiday party clothes being walked through the mall. It figures that it would be the one time I chose not to bring Edison with me (read: sneak him in in his purse and move rapidly in the opposite direction when a security guard comes my way). David said that he absolutely would not pay for Edison to be photographed with Santa, nor would he stand there and watch Edison and Santa posing together, so I had better be satisfied with a photo of Edison in his new stripey Christmas sweater sitting beneath our tree and taken for free by me.

Granted, Edison would not have liked Santa no matter how good a Santa he was. He's never seen anybody that even remotely looks like Santa Claus and as a dog who tends to be rather guarded with normal-looking people in everyday circumstances, I can only imagine his reaction to being taken from my arms by an elf and put on Santa's lap. And the Christmas music played too loudly for his giant, sensitive ears. And the line of noisy people gawking at the proceedings while they wait for their pet's turn. And all the other dogs who would only rile up my non-dog-friendly little dog. And the flash on the camera. And the elves zipping around the small enclosed space. Okay, so maybe this was only a good idea in my mind. The reality of it is clearly something entirely different. And besides, if I take the photos of Edison, I can take as many as I want and keep them all for myself.

Happy Holidays and Season's Greetings from Edison Jack (who is quite happy posing beneath his own Christmas tree).

Dec 23, 2008

Maia Louise VS The Christmas Tree

Uh-oh! What's it going to be today? Should I tear some tinsel off the tree and twist it into little un-tinsel-like shapes? Or maybe I should knock a few more ornaments off and bat them around until they smash into something and break into a thousand tiny pieces? Wait! What about that little yellow bird? I could rip that to shreds long before anyone can stop me. Hmm.... maybe I'll just climb under the tree and rip open some gifts that are meant for someone else and then steal the pretty bow off of what's left of the wrapping paper. So many things to do, so little time before the tree comes down. What's a cat to do?

Dec 18, 2008

Mystery Solved!

For several weeks now we've been stumped by not only what has been getting into the feed in the barn but also how it's been getting into the building in the first place. At first, the feed lids on the large rubbermaid containers would be moved a bit and, naturally, there was much dissention among the ranks as to who forgot to close the bins, thus leaving the feed open to hungry mice. Then we made sure the bins were securely closed at night yet in the morning found chew marks near the handles on them, holes that finally grew large enough for a small mammal to breach the closed container and then the holes grew even larger still. David went out and bought all new metal bins, which weren't cheap, but as wood and plastic are chewable (though I can't imagine either would taste very good) and metal isn't, we figured that this would stop the grain thief (or thieves) in its tracks. It didn't. All it did was anger the animal who had been feasting by night at our expense and who now had its very generous food supply suddenly cut off.

With the metal lids tightly locked down, we'd close everything up for the night only to find, come morning, that the lids were hanging off and something had eaten a great deal of the grain. This precipitated the need for heavy industrial oven bricks placed on top of the tightly closed lids. This didn't work either: the bricks would be pushed to the floor, the lids unlocked and opened, and much feed missing. Two bricks clearly only slowed the animal down a little as both bricks would be shoved aside and the metal bin opened once again. And in a show of utter rage at the amount of work needed to finally reach its dinner, the lids had been tossed clear across the room. Three bricks on top: nearly 15lbs in total weight was what it finally took to keep the hungry thief out of the bins and from the more easily breached one: a chain saw in its carrying case placed on top as well.

And how the hell was it getting in the building? We couldn't find the spot, though we looked and looked.

So we had been speculating as to who the diner(s) might be. Mice were ruled out after the first round of holes grew bigger than a mouse would need for climbing into the feed, and most certainly when it came to opening the lids as they're just too tiny and without strength. Squirrels are smart enough to open the latches on the bins but most likely not strong enough to have moved nearly 10lbs in weight before getting to those handles to unlatch the lids and I certainly wouldn't think a squirrel would have been able to toss those same lids away at such a distance. The general consensus was that it was our chatty raccoon neighbors we hear ambling about the yard in the wee hours or our old friend, Mr. Your-Food-Is-My-Food-And-I'm-Damn-Hungry Woodchuck (remember him?). These two particular little fiends would have not only the intelligence to repeatedly foil our attempts to secure the feed, but the body weight and the dexterity to move heavy objects in such a deliberate way.

This afternoon Griffin was out there cleaning the barn and feeding the poultry and when he opened the feed area, there it was, frantically trying to push the bricks off the top of a bin: the biggest, fattest squirrel he had ever seen. He estimated it had to go at least 10lbs, very likely even more. It was simply enormous. The squirrel was, of course, instantly startled by the sudden appearance of a human and took off in the other direction towards the back of the room. Griffin followed it and then went outside and around the back to where the portly rodent had gone and sure enough, up under the flashing near the roof, the squirrel had pulled the siding down (but not off), giving it a large door through which to enter and leave, but was virtually undetectable to the naked eye as the siding flapped back down as soon as the chunky one had squeezed back through. Griffin didn't have his camera with him, but he did manage to get some grainy footage on his cell phone of the Large One making his escape. That is one fat squirrel.

It is our belief that the squirrel started out a fairly normal size as none of us had noticed any particularly corpulent rodents on our property, but then as he ate more and more and got fatter and fatter, he needed to chew bigger holes to get in, thus the first bin holes growing in size gradually over the course of a couple of weeks. As he grew bigger, he also grew stronger, thus the ability to circumvent one obstacle after another placed in his path to stop him from getting into the feed bins. After all, night after night after night he had an all-you-can-eat buffet. He never had to forage, thus getting no exercise at all, instead he simply sat in whatever bins he could open and ate until he was full (and clearly beyond).

To be honest, I never would have guessed that the world's fattest and laziest squirrel was the culprit and I was also secretly hoping for something truly interesting and maybe even a bit exotic to be discovered out there. I don't know about you, but I don't consider a morbidly obese squirrel all that interesting. Sad, maybe, but interesting? Not so much.

Dec 13, 2008

Christmas Tree Shopping, Doggie Style

After years of cutting our own fresh trees at a tree farm, Saturday afternoon David, Griffin, and I went to buy a pre-cut Christmas tree on a lot, and naturally I had Edison with me in his little doggie purse, a sweater on for warmth, a tiny knit scarf tied around his neck and his doggles to protect his eyes from the sun. Initially we didn't have much luck finding the type of tree we wanted in the height we needed for our high ceilings and so after much wandering around the lot with the man who was helping us, we gave up. The man said that the trees we wanted were coming in later this week and we should call beforehand to be sure the truck had, indeed, arrived with them. He then took me inside to the little room where you pay for the tree you've chosen and led me up to the window to ask the lady behind the desk if she could write down their telephone number so I could call to be sure the new trees had come in before driving all the way over there.

While we were waiting he offered me a candy cane from a dish, to which I replied, "No thank you" and then I said to Edison, who was craning his neck out of the bag trying to catch a whiff of peppermint, "And you can't have any either." The tree man gave me a very odd look and said, "Excuse me?" in a not very pleasant tone of voice. I smiled and told him that I was telling my dog that he couldn't have any candy, and pointed to Edison's teensy head poking out of the purse front at my side. The man visibly relaxed, laughed heartily and said, "Oh my god! There's a tiny dog in there!" He pointed Edison out to everyone else in the room and said, "Look at that little pooch!" and to me, "All that time out there in the yard and I swear I never saw him" And then to the lady, "Oh my god! Nancy! Will you look at this little tiny pooch?!" He then rubbed Edison's chin and handed me a slip of paper with the yard's telephone number on it.

As we were walking back out into the cold, he turned to me, shook his head, and said, "I couldn't figure out what the hell your problem was, lady, and I was thinking, 'Who the hell is she to tell me I can't have a piece of candy?'" With that he added, "See you later in the week," rubbed Edison's chin once more and disappeared into the crowds to sell more trees.

We actually left that lot to head to another place to look for a tree, but got a mile or so down the road and decided to turn back and give this place another chance before making the long drive to the next best tree place. And surprise! We found a perfect, tall and very full tree we hadn't seen the first time around hiding in the back corner behind all the other smaller and less pretty trees. Another Christmas miracle.

Dec 2, 2008

The Moon and the Deer

Last night I ran into a deer. Literally. Okay, so I didn't actually slam into the deer, but it was close. I had noticed in the early night sky, while I was out cleaning the barn just as it was getting dark, that the moon looked a mite different up there with a couple of new friends in tow. After I came back indoors I discovered online that for the next few nights, the moon will be aligned with both Jupiter and Venus, a rare event that won't happen again until 2052. It was absolutely lovely to see: the waxing crescent nestled with the two bright planets forming a triangle. With nary a star near to it and sitting all alone up there, it was simply lyrical to behold.

When David came home I wanted him to see this too, but it had become cloudy so the moon was out of sight. As the clouds moved in and out throughout the evening, I kept popping out onto the back porch to see if anything was visible. When I noticed that the stars were visible again I took Edison outside with me to locate the moon, tucked into my arms, but he started to excitedly fuss and squirm and I was afraid of dropping him or him getting away from me and escaping into the woods, so I brought him back into the house. I got a flashlight and went back outside. Turns out he was fussing for good reason because he had seen the deer that I didn't. In fact I never saw the deer until I almost walked into it. I had only turned on the flashlight to make sure I didn't fall down the back steps in the dark, turning it off as soon as I was on the grass, the better to be able to see the sky in the darkness. Sky yes, deer no.

So there I was ambling about the back yard in the near pitch blackness, head perpetually tilted up, and then I went further back into our back field and garden, still looking up at the sky. Just feet from the deer, who had clearly been standing motionless and silent while I stumbled up and down in front of it, I popped on the flashlight and was startled to have two glowing eyes peering back at me at my height just a couple of feet in front of me. Yikes! When the initial shock fizzled a second later and I realized she was just a deer, albeit a very large doe, I ran up to the house to get David so he could see the deer too. Then both of us went back out and watched her.

David kept telling me to shoosh and turn off the light, lest we scare her off and she never return, to which I replied, "There are dozens of deer in this yard every day and they hear us talking and see us moving about and nothing we've done has scared them off yet, including Edison charging at them full speed to chase them out of his yard, so get a grip." The deer stood there for a few more minutes, calmly sizing us up, and then slowly wandered through the hedge and off into the inky black woods.

Now, normally, I would have delighted in walking face-first into a deer that just stood there and let me do it, but this happened less than an hour after I had nearly choked to death on a York peppermint pattie and as I had barely come down from my adrenaline rush from that, the whole 'deer in my face' thing, complete with racing heart once again, was really more than my nervous system could take for one night, so without seeing the moon again in all her glory, I called it a night.

I hope the doe comes back when I'm more chill. I'd love to see her up close and personal when I'm under control and haven't just accidentally nearly killed myself.
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