Search and Rescue

“How could you have lost a plunger?” the clerk at the hardware store said on the phone. “What did you do with it?”

Clearly this was a repeat customer. Her tone of voice gave her away.

Was he asking for a replacement or help in finding it? I didn’t stick around to find out, but it did make me curious.

How could you lose a plunger? How could you lose any plumbing tool for that matter? They’re large enough to trip over.

I’ve lost rings down bathroom drains, wallets at check-out stands in supermarkets. I even lost Calvin once on a walk. He gave me signs that he was sufficiently trained to obey me, so I let him off leash. I blinked and he was gone. The next thing I heard him baying like a coyote in heat. He found a hole in the fence and wiggled through to dash after a hare. I called him, but he was deaf. Unlike sheep who obey the shepherd’s voice, Calvin ignored me as if he didn’t belong to anybody. He was his own master, and that scared me to death.  IMG_0130

So much for the love and care I had given him over the years. So much for the training that didn’t stick. So much for the intense distress this was putting me through. He plainly didn’t care.

And then there was my son. This was his dog. He left him in my care while he went to college. “Son, I lost your dog. He’s probably dead. I’m sorry.”

Calvin was camouflaged in a thicket of bushes. I called louder. Nothing. I couldn’t climb the fence without tearing my body in pieces. I kept calling louder until I was hoarse. A park ranger heard me and opened a gate in the fence and let me in. I walked for miles calling Calvin’s name. Birds flew overhead. Squirrels rushed by me. Calvin was nowhere to be seen.

I never thought I’d do it, but after an hour I gave up.  I turned back and walked to the car weeping.

As I got closer, I saw a silhouette of an animal by the driver’s side of the car.

It was Calvin, sitting there, waiting for me, with a smirk on his face.

Two emotions came flooding in. The first was relief that I wouldn’t have to tell my son his dog was dead. The second, I wanted to kill his dog.

Calvin says, “My body may have escaped, but my heart was always yours.”

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Maybe a Thank You

We have a rodent in our roof. He moves in when the sun dips below the horizon and scratches all night. It sounds like he’s digging the Panama Canal in there. We’ve had the pest control people out to investigate, but this critter is smart. Or they kill one and another comes in to take its place. It’s been particularly cold this season so I don’t blame him for seeking a warm spot. But the word’s gone out. My roof has become a revolving door.

Alf has put traps up there with peanut butter, but that hasn’t worked either. The thing eats the food, tip toes out of the trap, and laughs. I hear him snickering in between scratches.

Lately I’ve noticed a neighborhood cat around our house.

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A light grey beauty with yellow eyes. She looks strikingly familiar and then the other day it hit me. She looks identical to the kitten Alf and I rescued a year ago and is now thriving in a new home. This adult cat must have been the mother.

 

So mom cat is patrolling our grounds. One afternoon I found her on the roof, soaking up the afternoon rays by what must be the hole the resident rodent climbs into every day. She’s on it. In the last few nights we haven’t heard any scratching. Could it be she caught this nasty rat as a thank you for fostering her kitten and finding her a great family to live with? That would be utterly delightful.

Calvin says, “Don’t get sentimental over this. Cats are savages. They’ll eat anything.”

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A Little Child Shall Lead Them

I had an interesting ride home on the subway this week.

My car was packed. Lots of people standing. A young mother and her child in a stroller came on. She positioned herself by the door and hung on.

In no time flat her baby boy, no more than 2 years old, began bellowing.

She ignored him.

His voice got louder.

The mother looked down at him and just stared.

The child began to yell. Big goldfish tears ran down his cheeks.

Mom stood there motionless.

Tension was rising in the car.

The kid was screaming even louder.

Out from between people’s legs a little girl, dressed in a pink hat, emerged and stood in front of the boy. She looked up at the mother as if to say, “Aren’t you going to take care of this?” She held in her hand a large opened bag of Cheetos and offered it to the boy. photo(131)

Instantly he was quiet.

He shoved his arm into the bag, extracted a Cheetos, and began to chew on it.

The little girl disappeared.

Mom never said a word.

The subway car made it’s routine stops, people got off, the crowd thinned out, a seat became vacant and mom sat down.

The little girl appeared again and offered the boy some more Cheetos. He plunged his arm into the bag and retrieved another one.

Mom never said a word.

I went back to my book and when I looked up again, Mom and son had gotten off the subway.

I’m not going to comment on the mother. For all I know she wasn’t the mother, but a babysitter. Or if she was the mother, she was in a frightful state of mind. Probably numb from the struggles of life. And in her shoes I would have reacted in the same manner.

What did make an impact was how a simple gesture of kindness can affect a whole lot of people.

It also showed me how powerful a child can be in the midst of a tense-filled moment.

Calvin says, “If I had been there that little girl and I would have wolfed down that bag of Cheetos together, tossing the occasional one to that boy.”beagle

Dynamite Comes in Small Packages

We had lunch with friends today. A young couple with their two daughters. Alice is 5-years old and brilliant. She showed off her nail polished hands and said, “I had them done by a professional.” Then she pulled out a snowflake from her pocket, unfolded it and announced, “See how symmetrical it is?”

I want to know what they’re feeding this kid to eat.

Her father asked Alf if he’d like to babysit Alice sometime. “She cleans toilets,” he said.

“You do?” Alf said.

“Yes, I do,” Alice said. cropped-img_0446.jpg

“I have six toilets,” Alf said.

Alice’s eyes widened. “You do?”

“Yes, and they’re all around the dining room table.”

Alice pondered that.

“Well, I have two,” she said rather seriously and then broke into a smile. “You’re a lot of fun,” she said to Alf.

This kid isn’t five. She’s twenty-five in kid’s skin.

Alice reads, writes, paints, and carries on a conversation better than some adults I know.

It doesn’t hurt that her parents are brilliant, too.

Calvin says, “If parents would only realize that kids are people, too. Just like us pups. We come out of the chute fully formed. Only our ears need growing.” beagle

 

Conversations on the Run8

When I’m out of focus, that’s when I’m most creative.

I saw another brother Grimm. There’s a lot of them.

Do you understand why this song won’t work on American Idol? Oh yea, it’s very dark. It’s a good Swan song. A good way to go out.

Not everyone can sing and dance. That’s why we have sports.

Have you called your mother lately? Me too.

Calvin says, “Funny, I have no desire to call my birth mother. I’m happy in my adopted family. New scents to chase everyday. Especially those diapers.”

 

For Better or For Butter

My friend, Alice is the mother of an artist son. Not a graphic or computer artist, but a fine artist. The type that spends hours in a studio slapping paint on a canvas and brooding over it. No painting is ever finished. And he hates everything he does because it’s not perfect.

Alice invited her friend, Naomi to lunch recently to talk about this. Naomi is also the mother of a fine artist. Her daughter is an accomplished, well-known oil painter who makes a full-time living making art. Naomi has years on Alice in the patience department.

At a seaside restaurant, Alice asked Naomi, “If you tell me my son won’t be famous until he’s in his 40’s, then I need anti-depressants or alcohol.” Alice decided to start drinking then and there and ordered a glass of wine.

“Be happy for him. Life will eventually move him on, for better or for worse. We’re only mothers, not God,” Naomi said and ordered a dry martini with a twist.

That didn’t help much. Alice unfolded her napkin and stared out the window. The waves crashed against the rocks and spewed white foam in her direction. The waiter came with their drinks and a basket of bread sticks and a plate of butter balls piled high in a mound.

Naomi added, “Your son has decided to live his life as he sees fit and you need to let him.” She sipped her martini and bore into Alice with her eyes.

Alice snapped a bread stick in two and stabbed a butter ball with one of the halves. The butter ball rolled off the plate, onto the table, and kept rolling right into her lap. Naomi followed it as it made it’s journey off the table.

Alice was embarrassed. She couldn’t return it to the butter plate. She couldn’t leave it in her lap. And she couldn’t drop it on the floor because, knowing her luck, she would probably step on it as soon as she got up from the table.

Instead, she popped it into her mouth and washed it down with her wine. “Not bad. Needed a little garlic.”

“I see where your son gets his creativity from,” Naomi said as she took another sip of her martini.

“So what you’re saying is that I should forget the whole business and take on a hobby,” Alice said.

“Buy a dog. That will distract you,” Naomi said draining her martini.

“I’m over the pet thing, too much work,” Alice said. The waiter was back at their table waiting to take their lunch order.

“I’ll have another martini, this time with a pickled onion,” Naomi said.

“And I’ll have the escargot…skip the butter…I’ve had plenty,” Alice said.

Calvin says, “We don’t distract. We love you to distraction. Now how about rolling one of those butter balls in my direction? I’ll be under the table with my mouth open.”