Jul 30, 2009

Biddy and the Yellow Balloons

Maia Louise would never eat even so much as one balloon as it would require far too much effort.

Out for a drive this past weekend, Bram had managed to find the one small uninflated water balloon that Griffin had left in the car, wedged between the seat cushions. I caught him with it fairly quickly and took it away before he hurt himself with it, but Bram's balloon incident instantly took me back more than 30 years to the neighborhood I grew up in and a much-loved friend and neighbor named Judy who had several Siamese cats and two big (and goofy) dogs.

Of the three cats, the smallest one was called Biddy, short for Dagmar Augustus Willibald, which was an enormous name for such a tiny cat as he didn't grow much from kittenhood. He was quite the handful though and was forever getting into situations that necessitated frantic phone calls or emergency visits to the vet, like the incident that will be forever known as "Biddy and the Yellow Balloons."

Judy's youngest daughter was having a birthday party, and naturally there were several bags of balloons that needed to be blown up. The morning of the party, Judy went to get the balloons and discovered that all the bags had been torn open and the balloons scattered all over. There were no yellow balloons to be found. Not sure what had happened, but not having the time to wonder about it for too long, she blew up the remaining balloons and the party went off as planned.

The missing yellow balloons were forgotten until the following day when it became obvious that poor Biddy was having some trouble in the litterbox. There, hanging out of his backside, was the end of a yellow balloon. Judy carefully and very slowly pulled the balloon from his butt, only to see another yellow balloon behind it. When that balloon was removed and a third appeared, Judy panicked and called her vet. He told her that so long as the balloons were being expelled, there was nothing to worry about, but that they all had to be removed with the utmost care so as not to rip little Biddy's intestines out with the balloons, no small feat given that balloons stretch when pulled.

It took several hours but in the end (no pun intended, I swear!), Judy had removed nearly 20 yellow balloons from her cat's ass and thus was born a story that has lived in all our memories for decades. Biddy survived his yellow balloon banquet no worse for wear and lived on for many, many more years continuing to cause his family an immense amount of stress and worry. Biddy is long gone, but the story of Biddy and the Yellow Balloons lives on and brings a smile to the face of everyone who hears it.

I'm just thankful it was one balloon with Bram and he hadn't managed to eat it.

Jul 27, 2009

Walkies at Wellesley

Bram last week in a much drier state. If I had only brought my camera with me today.

Today was such a kick-ass beautiful (though perhaps a mite too hot) day that we decided to take the boys to Wellesley College for a stroll around the campus. Edison is very fearful of water, but Bram adores it, and since this was Bram's first time walking there, we thought he'd enjoy the boat ramp at Lake Waban which is within the college's 500 acres. Sure enough, Edison tiptoed down the ramp only to stop just before his tiny toes touched even so much as a drop of water, while Bram steam-rollered right down the ramp and in up to his shoulders. In an attempt to see if Bram would go in deeper if I went out a bit further, I balanced on the small concrete wall down one side of the ramp as I was too lazy to take off my sneakers so I could actually walk in the water myself. Sure enough, that was enticement enough for Bram, but rather than walk further down the ramp into deeper water, he hopped up onto the wall with me and then in a split second had leaped over it and into the water on the outside of the wall. He was one startled little boy when he suddenly realized that this water was far deeper than that on the ramp. I had to fish a very wet and stinky little chihuahua out of the pond and the mess of algae he was swimming in. You'd think that would have been enough water for Bram for one day, but no. About a half hour or so later he attempted to dive into the frog pond after all the bullfrogs lazing on the enormous Monet-esque water lilies, only to be pulled back to the shore before he had gotten any further than his front feet.

Two little boys were very tired after their long walk. Edison needed to be carried the last half mile or so as his tiny tank had already run dry (he's such a delicate little flower of a dog) but Bram was still going strong till long after we returned home when he finally dropped into a deep sleep.

And then there were cooling baths for both: for one simply because it was a hot day and we thought it would be refreshing and for the other because he smelled a little too swampy for anyone with a working nose.

Jul 25, 2009

This Company Cares

Proctor and Gamble and Dawn dishwashing liquid have been involved in saving wildlife for decades. Dawn has been the soap of choice to wash birds that have been covered in oil due to off shore spills, and the company has been a huge contributor to the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), both financially and with free product. The reason that Dawn is used to clean injured birds and sea wildlife is because it's so kick-ass at pulling oil from saturated feathers (remember all those early ads showing the housewife with the giant roasting pans caked in grease and crud and even though she had done all the other dishes first, Dawn was still powerful enough to clean those? Dawn: takes grease out of your way!) and it's safe for both the birds and the humans cleaning them. Mild and non-irritating. Smells pretty nice too.

Well, now Dawn is going one step further. For every bottle of Dawn dishwashing soap you buy, Proctor and Gamble will donate one dollar to the IBRRC and the Marine Mammal Center up to $500,000. How cool is that? Pretty damn cool, especially in this era when so many are doing their part to save the planet and all its precious life, while certain big businesses continue to not give a shit what they harm.

Here's the link where you can read up on the program as well as learning where you need to go to activate that dollar donation once you've bought your bottle of soap to help.


As the company itself says: Make a difference with Dawn.

Jul 18, 2009

You Pushed Me!!

Ever notice that when an animal does something clumsy or stupid, they always think that it was the person physically closest to them that is responsible for what happens to them? I've been giving this some thought lately (as if I don't have enough to do without my mind going off on yet another useless tangent) and I think I have figured out why this is: animals have no sense of self. Now I can't speak for any of the higher primates, like apes or chimps, as I have never spent enough time around any of them to see one trip or fall down a flight of stairs or roll off of a bed and so have no idea if the chimp will instantly look to the nearest human or another chimp in the belief that that second individual caused them harm, but I know for a fact that my cat and both dogs do it every time they do something dumb. And often painful. And this is because they have no concept of themselves. Thus it never occurs to them that they fell down or ran face first into a piece of furniture, but because they do have a sense of those around them, it instantly becomes the responsibility of the nearest human that the pet has been toppled.

I can't count how many times I have been sitting on a bed while Maia Louise has lain languidly next to me, stretched out to her full length, belly and feet up in the air in a most unladylike manner and in rolling onto her side has instead slowly rolled herself right off the bed and onto the floor with a heavy thud. This is then followed with her jumping back onto the bed just long enough to give me "the look": a mix of disgust, outrage and anger coupled with utter disbelief that someone who professes to love her so much could be so cruel as to shove her right off the bed while she slept. And then with a vicious flick of her tail, she'll storm from the room. Mini versions of "the look" continue for several hours to several days, depending on how long she feels like holding a grudge over this incident.

Just the other day Griffin and I were in the kitchen making lunch, while the boys waited patiently for theirs. The step stool was about three feet to Griffin's right and Bram an equal distance to his left. When Bram started to run around Griffin's legs (as hyper as usual), Griffin stepped aside so he didn't step on such a tiny dog. Bram then ran face first into the stool, knocked himself over backwards, and with a loud screech took off into the living room where he hid under the couch and no amount of coaxing could lure him out, though I finally managed to drag him out to be sure he wasn't hurt (he wasn't). Now I know for a fact that Griffin was several feet from that stool before Bram crashed into it, and was still several feet away when Bram got himself tangled in it at high speed, but here we are many days later and Bram is still convinced that Griffin kicked him into the stool just for the sheer fun of it. Whenever Griffin comes anywhere near Bram, or even into the same room as Bram, he gives Griffin a look like, "you're that horrible guy that kicked me into that stool!" and runs from the room with his tail between his legs. And then I have a choice of either going and finding where he's hidden himself or waiting for him to come back only when he's good and sure that Griffin is long gone. How long this will last is anyone's guess. He's already surpassed the cat with his refusal to be reasonable.

If they can't see themselves and thus can't see the part they play in their own goofiness, the least they could do is speak enough English to understand when we explain to them that it wasn't us, it was them.

Jul 7, 2009

Robin Number Two

It was only a few days after that first robin moved on (see Front Door Bird, 5-6-09 and Front Door Bird: The Final Chapter, 5-27-09) that another robin moved in to the abandoned nest on the front porch. We think it might have been the same mama bird as it wasn't a nest that was easy to see unless you knew it was there, tucked at the inside top of that column, and she did look a lot like the first bird by way of her markings, so for argument's sake, let's just assume that robin number one came back for another round of motherhood.

This time she laid four eggs and all four babies hatched and grew robust with mama's endless meals. It seemed like every time we came or went from the house she was up there shoving food into their screaming faces. The novelty of it was pretty much lost on all of us this time around as we made no attempt to either use another entrance nor to tiptoe around so as not to disturb the birds, and the mama robin barely gave us a glance as we came and went, let alone attempt to lure us away from her babies by flying off in a nervous tizzy twenty times a day. We quite peacefully co-existed for several weeks, with my only complaint the growing pile of bird poop on the porch beneath the nest as well as the need to get across the porch as quickly as possible to avoid being covered in tiny bird mites that our porch had now become infested with, courtesy of our endless feathered houseguests.

The babies grew quite large, to the point where the mother, when sitting on them, appeared to be levitating out of the nest as she floated above the rim and up into space. And then one sunny morning Griffin was heading out to check the mailbox when he spied what he thought was the mother, dead on the porch. It turned out to be one of the babies and it was still alive, though in shock from his fall. All the other babies had clearly successfully flown off, but this little guy just didn't have the horsepower. We got out the gloves and the tall ladder and I held the silent baby while Griffin climbed up to the nest. As I handed the baby up to him it began to scream like a maniac and out of nowhere mama appeared and was noisily freaking out above our heads. The baby was carefully placed back in the nest and we moved back into the house to watch if the mother would reject the baby.

It took some time before she made an appearance, but when she did, she brought food and comfort, climbing into the nest with her little one. And then we all got busy with our lives and didn't pay much attention to the robins until later that afternoon when we were heading out to do some errands and Griffin and I discovered the baby had fallen from the nest again. We took a few moments before leaving to place the baby back in the nest, but after this second fall from such a high place onto a hard, wooden porch, the baby wasn't looking so good and we figured it was just a matter of time before the baby passed away.

Whether mama came back again while we were gone I have no idea, but when came home we couldn't see the baby's head poking up out of the nest so Griffin climbed back up to see if the baby had somehow miraculously successfully flown off on his third attempt, but alas it was not to be. The baby had died while we were away. Griffin took the nest and baby down, we placed it in a little bag and after saying a prayer for the poor little bird whose life was so short, disposed of his body.

The nest is now gone and this will hopefully put an end (for this season at any rate) to the life cycle that keeps repeating itself just outside our front door. All that's left is a small patch of mold behind where the nest was built, a persistent poo stain that no amount of water seems to wash away, and all those irritating little mites that haven't yet figured out that there is nothing out there to sustain them anymore.

Life is almost back to normal out there just beyond our front door, and it's a good thing because my heart simply cannot take watching more baby birds struggle and suffer and die, wheel of life or not.

Jul 5, 2009

Two Little Monkeys

Two perfect little boys, best friends with one another and adored by me. Is there anything cuter than a chihuahua?
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