“How could you have lost a plunger?” the clerk at the hardware store asked 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 the check-out stand 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 run after a hare. I called him, but he was deaf. He was camouflaged in a thicket of bushes. I called louder. Nothing. I couldn’t climb the fence without tearing my body into pieces. I kept calling louder, but I was getting nowhere. By then I was hoarse. Finally I found a gate, unlocked it and ran through it. I spent an hour running all over the park calling for him. A park ranger drove by and stopped. I told him I was looking for my beagle. Had he seen him? The ranger laughed. I wanted to swat him. He said he’d keep an eye out. Did I want a lift back to my car? Yes, please. I was exhausted and ready to sob. How was I going to tell my son that I lost his dog?
When we pulled up to my car, the ranger laughed again. There was Calvin sitting on his haunches waiting for me.
Calvin says, “I remember that episode. And you thought I was the idiot.”
Riding the subway sometimes feels like a wildlife journey. This morning as I waited for the train to arrive on the outdoor platform, I heard the quacking of ducks. The sun hadn’t risen yet. It was dark. I couldn’t see the birds, but I heard them quacking to each other incessantly. They had a lot to say and were passionate about it. Finally they took a breath and that’s when the geese started in with their honking. They were loud and vociferous. The ducks couldn’t take it and flew over my head with jet-engine speed.
Yesterday as I boarded the train to go home a woman told me not to sit down. “Why?” I asked. “There’s a rat in here!” she said horrified. I look behind me and sure enough the rodent was zig-sagging across the aisle. The passengers were screaming, men and women alike, jumping out of the way. The rat scampered as fast as his little legs could take him in and out of the rows of seats. Women were lifting their legs. The screams got louder. It ran past me and onto two seats by the door. It found a hole in the back of one of them and disappeared.
We stopped at another station. People got on. The seats were filling up. The only two empty ones had the rat in residence. “Don’t sit there!” a man said to people who wanted to sit down. “There’s a rat in the seat,” he said. The riders walked to another car.
At another stop a woman got on and sat down. The same man warned her, but this time in Spanish. He just knew she was Hispanic. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “No me da miedo.” She was right. There was nothing to be afraid of. The rat was in its hidey-hole with a palpitating heart hoping nobody would rip the seat out and extinguish it. The rodent had nothing to fear. There wasn’t a soul on board with the courage to do that. Even the men, some in hard hats and fluorescent vests, big burly construction guys with tool belts around their middles, might as well have been ballerinas in tutus for all the help they provided.
It showed me I better be my own warrior.
It also occurred to me that the easiest way to hold a group of people hostage would be to unleash a few rats on a subway system. The entire system would be paralyzed in no time.
Calvin says, “You humans. What’s a stupid rat going to do to you? Now snakes, there’s a thought.”
The latest craze is DNA testing to know where you came from. There are a slew of online companies happy to do it for a swab of spit and a fee. Several of my colleagues at work have done it.
Some have been delighted with the results, others not so much. For them their family tree didn’t match who they thought they were.
“I think I’m adopted,” one of them said to me this week. He’s now making inquiries with relatives to see if they had lied to him to all his life. This is a family disruption on the grandest scale.
My question is, are the results accurate? I can just imagine the warehouses of desks, testing equipment and computers for workers making minimum wage who have been entrusted with your spit. I think your relatives are more trustworthy, that is if they can be counted on to speak the truth.
I haven’t succumbed yet. I’m happy to stay oblivious and believe I am who I am. Besides, what if I found out I’ve been living a fake identity? That I have more Inuit blood in me than I could ever imagine and that my love of Indian food is because…you guessed it.
Calvin says, “Who cares? It’s another form of entertainment to get you off course from your real purpose in life.”
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.
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.”
Yesterday evening I took a walk around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights on houses, Santas in front yards, and wreaths on front doors. Except there weren’t any. I asked myself if I had the right month. I checked my phone. Yep, I did. What happened to my neighbors? Then it hit me. Most of the neighbors that traditionally went wild with their lights and front lawn decorations have fled the area for warmer pastures. I miss them. They had a spirit of Christmas I didn’t so I lived on their enthusiasm. They brightened up the neighborhood and made us smile. We were proud people who basked in their twinkling lights. We could count on them every year. Now they were gone and took the spirit of Christmas with them. Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are now flying high over sand dunes. And no, I’m not going to take over the tradition. You’re lucky if I have a bow on my front door. Inside the house is another matter. I enjoy displaying several trees in the living room, lights over the mantelpiece, and Christmas cards on a table.
So I gave up on Christmas decorations, and settled for the natural growth around the neighborhood. Here are some pictures.
Calvin says, “Yeah, I miss those midnight walks. I tingled with excitement.”
This is what I saw on my way to the office this morning. A beautifully decorated tree on the street, curbside. No lights. Was it waiting for a taxi, I mean Uber? Maybe since it was standing there in front of the building where Uber has its offices. If it was a gimmick, it worked on me. I asked a security guard and he said, “It was leaking so they brought it out.” Wait till the dog walkers and their pups notice this. A Christmas tree just for them!
The things one sees during the holidays.
I had coffee last weekend with a friend. I ran into a woman and her beagle at the entrance of the shop and bolted inside before she captured me. She will talk to anyone for ages about her dog and how much it’s costing her to keep him alive. Something in the vicinity of $20,000. He pooch has two bionic knees otherwise he wouldn’t have made it. He’s now on expensive drugs for skin allergies. And the list goes on. Every time I’m at the coffee shop she’s there, so I suspect she goes every weekend in search of an audience. The man in the picture? That’s her husband. Notice the delighted expression on his face.
I thought this planter decoration was great. Different. Colorful. Something to use all winter long. It was lobby decor in a building that used to be home to the local post office. Now we have to hunt for where it moved to. No forwarding address.
Calvin says, “I’m signing a DNR. Do not reconstruct. Me.”
At this time of year I like to search for unique Christmas tree decorations. Not to buy, but to enjoy looking at. Typically office lobbies don’t have them. Neither do department stores. However there are places that make an effort to showcase the novel and the unique.
My favorite store that tops my list is Carrigg’s of Carmel. At this time of year they have more than a dozen decorated trees in the store that delight and transport you to Christmas heaven. Forget the shopping, the eating, and the staying in Carmel. I go just for the design therapy at Carrigg’s.
I stroll from room to room. When something catches my eye, I take a quick picture with my camera that I keep hidden in my jacket. After the second room of sensory enchantments, I stop being stealthy and keep the camera in full view. There’s so much to photograph and I don’t care who sees me. I’m like a child in a magic castle.
Whoever decorates the store is a genius. There’s so much to absorb it takes several hours, but I limit myself to drooling for 60 minutes. Besides, Alf is waiting for me on the street reading headline news on his phone. Calvin is pulling at his leash attempting to meet and greet all the other pedigree dogs walking their owners.
Calvin says, “Carmel needs a pop-up store for dogs with Christmas delicacies like rabbit jerky.”