Hairy Dogger

Was it the perfect opportunity, or was it the perfect storm when the situation presented itself? 

The front door was ajar, and the front gate was not securely closed. With a bit of manipulation, Lucky, our golden retriever, was able to open them both, setting not only himself loose, but his sidekick Socrates, a Jack Russel terrier mixed with every kind of dog. 

 Freeeeeedom! Socrates chased after Lucky into the night air as fast as his little bowed legs would take him.

 Within seconds, Socrates’ freedom was cut short. His neck was in the jaws of a coyote. Then a second coyote dug his teeth in and punctured his side. Poor Socrates let out a horrible yelp, trying to break free. The coyotes howled in return, rejoicing in their catch.

 I’m afraid Socrates’ nemesis, our cat, might have had a paw in this, “Over there, get him, not me.”

 It was not meant to be on this night. Hearing his cries for help, Lucky charged toward the coyotes. They dropped Socrates and ran off into the darkness. Lucky guarded the driveway while Socrates slowly hobbled back toward the opened gate.

 Inside the house, we heard the commotion and came running out to find the wounded dog. 

 I grabbed a wet towel and began to clean his wounds while he huddled next to me on the couch, “Socrates, how did this happen to you? Are you okay?” 

 He looked up at me with eyes that said it all. “My entire head was in a coyote’s mouth minutes ago. He was going to eat me!”

 His wounds weren’t too deep, the bleeding stopped, he appeared to be okay. But, the next day he was moving gingerly. I decided to take him to the vet to have him checked out. Trying to get an appointment was next to impossible. His regular vet couldn’t take him until next Thursday, and emergency hospitals had a wait time of 8 hours. I made random calls to various vets without any luck. 

 On my last attempt, after I told the nurse what had happened, she said, “oh, my. Let’s see, what’s your name?” 

 I gave her my information. 

 “You already have an account with us,” the nurse informed me. “Come right now.”

 I was shocked. I had never heard of this pet hospital before today. But there it was in black and white.  

 “So, when it happened, what did you do?” the kind veterinarian asked me.

 “I washed the wounds thoroughly with hydrogen peroxide, put Neosporin on them, and fed him bacon,” I answered.

 She smiled politely, “You mean bacon-flavored dog treats.”

 “No,” I replied, “real bacon. Because BACON MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER!”

 I don’t think she agreed with me. “After two coyotes attacked your dog, your remedy was pork bacon?”

 “Yes.”

 Apparently, the veterinarian had something more robust in mind. While we were there, all his wounds got a deeper cleaning, and antibiotics were administered. The veterinarian said Socrates was the bravest dog she had ever seen. She has never seen a dog survive an attack by one coyote, but two? Inconceivable!

 Hearing the word brave, Socrates’ ears perked up. There would be no living with him now.

 People were saying in hushed tones, “To Socrates – the dog who lived!”

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Ghost Writer

“Lindsay, today is National Daughter’s Day. Let’s go on an adventure, just you and me,” I said.

Intrigued, she asked, “Where do you want to go?”

“There is this bookstore that I’ve been dying to go to in Ojai, which is a darling town with lots of shops. Besides, if you see something you like, I’ll buy it for you.” I sold it by wiggling my eyebrows up and down like Groucho Marx.

“Deal.”

Minutes later, we were on our way. Not to miss out on a teachable moment, I took this opportunity to talk with my high school senior about what lies ahead of her in life. How does she want to make her mark on the world? I talked at great length about the great women in history in my attempt to inspire her.

Once we arrived, I looked for a parking spot. Randomly I chose this street to turn onto, and bingo – found one!

Immediately, Lindsay spied a spiritual crystals store. After making a few purchases, we tucked our crystals into our pockets as instructed, embracing the artistic, mystical Ojai vibe wholeheartedly. Had we only found a palm reader we would have been all hands on deck.

“Mom,” Lindsay said, looking up from her phone, “that bookstore is right down this street.”

Sure enough, our random parking spot was yards from the bookstore. Coincidence? Hmmm.

It was just as I imagined. This brick house, built in the 1960s, was now transformed into a bookstore with built-in bookcases wrapping around every available wall space. Each one filled with thousands of interesting books, old and new.

Lindsay and I split up and began aimlessly perusing. 

I was standing all alone when suddenly a book flew off the shelf and landed at my feet. I looked around to see if someone dropped it. No one was near me. I looked at the shelf where it had rested only to see the space the book had occupied and the solid brick wall behind it.

I’m well aware that I embellish stories, but this time I swear I’m telling the truth. I don’t take this sort of thing lightly, especially with the loud thud the book made when it hit the floor.

Casually, Lindsay strolled up to me, “Did you find something?”

“It found me. Literally, that book just flew off the shelf.”

Lindsay gasped at the book on the floor, “DON’T TOUCH IT!”

The title, Other Powers –The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull, piqued my curiosity.  The cover art was a photo of a Victorian woman’s hand on a Ouija Board.

“DROP THAT BOOK!” Lindsay screamed.

“Are you kidding me? I’m buying it.” I made my $7 investment into this medium. 

I had never heard of Victoria Woodhull, so I Googled her and shrieked, “Today is her FREAKING BIRTHDAY!”

I had to learn more about her accomplishments, which included being

the first woman to run for president – her 1870 platform included working people rights, 8-hour workday and abolition of the death penalty

the first woman broker on Wall Street

the first woman to address Congress 

a leader in the Women’s Suffrage Movement

a well-known clairvoyant (which explains the flying book)

a believer in free love

The book’s introduction reads, Her spirit is with us still.

“Lindsay, pick up her flag and march on!” I declared.

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Get Her to the Greek

Lindsay and Paige were going to surprise Eva for her 18th birthday while she was vacationing with her family in Greece! A once-lifetime experience for this posse of girlfriends. 

But there were Olympic-sized hurdles to clear. God of travel, I need your help.

Hurdle #1 — Keeping the secret. This was not Lindsay’s strong suit. If she had been a spy during WWII, we would all be speaking German now. It was daunting to think how these teenage girls would avoid the subjects of Greece, Greek yogurt, Greek gods and rushing Greek life for the agonizing month before Eva and her family would go ahead of them. 

We, the parents, giggled, rolled our eyes and agreed that, before their toes tickled the white sands, the surprise would be washed out to sea.

Hurdle #2 — A passport. During the pandemic, we renewed our passports, prompted by my motto that “You can buy a ticket, but you can’t travel without a passport.” 

Without a trip on the horizon, I didn’t expedite them. Now, Lindsay’s passport arrival date was five days before her departure date. That was cutting it close, prolonged further because of a missing signature. I overnighted the necessary certificates with a large note in red, “I NEED HER PASSPORT BY JULY 1, PLEASE!” Her passport arrived on June 30th. 

Hurdle #3 — Paige’s University instated a mandatory 2-week Covid Quarantine. Paige was out. Suddenly, Lindsay would travel alone. This time last year, I was nervous putting her on a plane to Milwaukee with a layover in Las Vegas. Little did I know that was a dry run. Now she was going to Athens with a layover in Amsterdam. 

At gatherings, someone would ask, “When does Lindsay leave for Greece?” This surprise was already spoiling like an old fishtail. 

Hurdle #4 — She was off. God of travel, don’t let her get kidnapped. Once she reached Athens, I got a teary call, “Mom! I can’t find the plane to the island. It leaves in 30 minutes. No one speaks English, and a Greek man yelled at me.”

“That won’t be the last time,” I said, staying on the phone until she boarded.

Hurdle #5 — Nick picked her up from the airport. Who was this guy? Follow UBER rules. Nick, with a “Lindsay” sign, escorted her to their house. 

“Surprise!” Lindsay shouted at awaiting Eva! She had made it to Greece, with the secret intact.

“Not really,” Eva said. 

“WHAT?”

“I tried everything to get everyone to stop whispering about it! First, a friend with, ‘When are your friends coming?’ Then I saw the Get Lindsay to Greece group chat on Mom’s phone. Ugh, adults can’t keep it a secret!”

It didn’t matter. The big ah-ha moment lasted all week with one wonderful memory after another: the beaches, the food, dancing, sightseeing. 

Hurdle #6 – Lindsay’s ticket was on KLM, Eva’s family was flying Air France. Despite the odds, I got her ticket changed. They flew home together via Air France. 

We cleared the finish line and received our gold medal.

Lindsay confessed, “I did get sick once when I drank an iced tea.”

I shook my head, “Who knows what herbs they put in Greek teas?”

“I think it originated in Long Island.”

I put my baby on that plane, and a young woman got herself to Greece. 

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Bear Necessities

I’m lucky enough to live next to a mountain trail. Hiking takes me away from my regular life to a place of serenity.

Because of the recent forest fires, the fire department cleared the brush as a precaution. As great as that is for the mountain, it makes for a grueling hike in the hot sun.

I began my two-mile trek up the steep incline at around eight, hoping to beat the heat. I did not beat the heat, but I was determined not to let the heat beat me. 

I took the small trail off the beaten path down to my favorite spot, First Water. But there was no babbling brook of melted snow – another victim of climate change. 

I took refuge under the canopy of thick trees that cooled the area and provided a lovely haven. I plopped down on the bench that was an Eagle Scout’s project and let out a loud sigh. 

I. Had. Made. It.

My stillness was interrupted by splashing, like kids playing in a swimming pool. Hmmm. Quietly I peered over the boulders.

“Holy crap!” A Mama Bear and her two cubs frolicked in the watering hole.

The Mama Bear climbed out and grunted at her cubs. Playfully, they hopped out of the water, shook off the residue, and made whining sounds, “but Moooooom.” That’s what I thought I heard, anyway.

While hiding in the foliage, I watched as the cubs roughhoused. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. At the same time, the Mama Bear couldn’t take her eyes off of me.

Suddenly, she charged at me. For a big girl, she can move fast. Taking the hint, I backed off.

“Fine,” I said, “I’m a mom too. Don’t worry.”

Then I noticed the yellow tag on her left ear. “I know you. You’re the one that keeps getting into my trashcan. I talked to you last night about not making such a mess, remember?”

She looked at me differently, “Oh, right! I thought you looked familiar.”

Relaxed, she turned her attention back to her cubs. I made myself comfortable, leaned on a rock, and took it all in. This must have been how Jane Goodall felt when she discovered the chimpanzees.

At one point, the adventurous cub waddled right up to me like a Labrador. He was so close I could have reached out and petted him, but not a good idea. Mama Bear glanced over at me as if to say, “He’s always getting into trouble, that one.”

The cub lost interest. I guess humans aren’t that interesting after all. Close to an hour passed while I sat on my rock. The Mama Bear brushed up against my leg. Oddly, I wasn’t frightened. Equally strange, she didn’t smell bad. It was the most Zen moment of my life.

Then, without warning, I heard a quartet of cowbells rattling from atop the trail. Men shouted, “WE ARE HERE TO SAVE YOU! WE’RE COMING DOWN.”

“Like hell you are!” I called back, attempting an unalarming tone. “Please stop your bells.”

“ARE YOU TRAPPED BY THE BEAR?” Another man, at the ready, shouted.

“No, thank you, I’m fine.” I waved them off.

I checked in with Mama Bear, who was unfazed by the disruption, “Do they think those bells scare me?”

Dejected, the strapping men strapped their bells back onto their belts and clattered away. I overheard one refer to me as “The Crazy Bear Lady”.

A moniker I will wear proudly.

It was time to go. I wished my bear friends a lovely afternoon.

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Moving Day

I have a friend who has an older brother, Henry, who is mentally disabled. He is a kind boy living inside a man’s body. Although he needs assistance, he lives in his apartment and has a job. I know sometimes he can be an easy target for ridicule.

Recently, he was allowed to move from his upstairs apartment to the apartment directly below him. The stairs were hard on his knees and carrying groceries up was exhausting. Having an apartment on the lower floor was the perfect solution.

Henry’s sister flashed the Bat-signal up in the sky that she needed help. The contents of his entire apartment had to be moved within 24 hours. Daunting, but doable.

Early Saturday morning, we all showed up with empty boxes and bags to fill with stuff from upstairs, empty them downstairs, and repeat the cycle.

I was surprised to find Henry sad and alone in his bedroom, “Henry, what’s wrong?” I asked him.

“I don’t want to go. I like my apartment,” He answered mournfully.

I reassured him that this new apartment was a better location and will look similar. I didn’t realize how accurate I was until I looked inside the new downstairs apartment. I dropped my bags, boxes, and jaw, “Holy doppelgangers, Batman! They’re identical!” 

Everything about the two apartments was the same: exact same floor plan, colors, bathroom tiles, down to the faux kitchen granite. They were mirror images of each other.

But Henry’s sad reaction was more than just location. Henry gets upset with any change, any disruption, even if it is for the better. We respected that and were mindful that we had to recreate the upstairs to the downstairs to a tee. I could tell he was relieved.

So, it began. Every chair was placed in the exact location against the same wall.

The kitchen cabinets were emptied: mugs and glasses brought downstairs and placed in the exact same position with mugs in the back, starting with the Disneyland mug, then glasses in front. Back up the staircase for the plates: blue ones on the left, red on the right. Pictures were hung with care over the couch: trains on the left, boats on the right.

Up – down. Down – up. I reached for the cup of coffee that I had left in the kitchen, but it wasn’t there because it was in the other kitchen. Up – down. Where did I put the paper towels that were just here? In the other bathroom. Up – down. Down – up.

After a few hours, I began to think this was taking a very long time. Didn’t we just empty the den? Wait a minute. I just saw that end table. Was it here or there? My mind was a blur. WHICH APARTMENT WAS I IN? 

Perspiring, I ran out to the top of the stairs and saw my friend bringing Henry’s small table UP the staircase. “Stop! You’re all turned around. You’re bringing stuff back up.”

She dropped the table on the spot in horror. “We’re all going mad,” she cried.

“We’re in the Twilight Zone!” I proclaimed.

Henry, delicately holding his Batman Lego collection in a shoebox, stopped. “Leslie, Leslie, Leslie, I’m worried about you. You look like you don’t know if you’re coming or going. Do you need me to help you find your way? Take my hand,” he said while setting down the shoebox, “It’s always easier with a friend.”

I let Henry show me the way.

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Passages

I plopped down on the driver’s seat and glanced across to my daughter Lindsay, whose face was streaked with tears, “What’s wrong?”

“Beth’s grandfather died. She sent a Snapchat, crying, saying she just said her last goodbye,” Lindsay recounted the message from her best friend.

Sal had been in failing health – still, it is sad to lose someone you love, especially someone special like Sal.

Immediately I texted John, “I’m sorry to hear about your dad. If there is anything I can do, please let me know,” and ended it with a broken heart emoji. There was an immediate reply of thanks. I let it go at that. 

Our friends are our “framily.”

Around five that afternoon, I stopped by Sally and Andy’s house for a glass of wine, a regular practice of mine. 

By now, I was sure they knew, “Did you hear Sal died?”

“No,” they both said, saddened. 

Over the years, we have all enjoyed great times with John’s dad, Sal – a gregarious and fun guy.

Andy reached for his phone, “I’ll text John.”

He typed a similar message. Moments later, Andy received a simple thanks.

“I better tell the guys,” Andy texted their guy-group, who at the time were together at a city event planning meeting. “God, remember when he would cheer at the kids’ games?”

“He loved to talk sports.”

“Those days at the racetrack.”

“That laugh.”

An hour passed when suddenly all three of our phones dinged alerting us to a message.

Andy reached for his phone, while Sally reached for a fresh bottle of wine. “This must be the official announcement from John,” Andy said, glancing down at his phone. “Crap! He’s not dead!”

“What?”

“Sal is not dead!”

John’s text message was to inform everyone that his father was being moved to a facility.

Immediately Andy started calling, “Jim, never mind.”

Pause.

“What?” he turned towards us, “They bought food.”

Sally yelped, “They can’t take it there.” 

“You can’t take it there. He’s not dead,” Andy shouted into his phone, “How should I know how long chicken keeps?”

Andy turned to us, “They’re on John’s street.”

“NO!” We shouted.

“ABORT! ABORT!”

Minutes later, the door flew open and in barged a framily mob.

“Who said he was dead?” they demanded.

It was then that my vermillion-toned face revealed the culprit. Moi.

“Lindsay said, Beth…”

“You’re a rumor monger.”

“Maybe a little bit.” 

They spread grease-stained buckets and bags of fried chicken, fries and coleslaw across the island. 

Suddenly, the room went silent. Listening.

Michelle asked, “Do you hear something? Moaning?”

“Is that a bagpipe?” Andy questioned.

The haunting sound grew louder until Ron strolled in, playing the bagpipe. Once inside, he pushed the mouthpiece to his left, “When are we going over?”

Jim pulled the decorative trumpet off the wall and played taps.

“We’re not!”

Mary, John’s wife arrived, “I hear there’s some fried chicken for us?” she smiled.

Right behind her came Lindsay, “I’m so sorry,” she declared.

Mary wrapped her arms around her, “It’s okay, an honest mistake, it was her last goodbye… before she goes to college.”

“To Sal, the best guy ever, we’re gonna miss you – someday.” 

The thing about framily is that they’re always there for you. Sometimes prematurely.

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Lucky Rabbit’s Tale

“Socrates, you haven’t played with that toy in forever,” I said, bending down to pet my Jack Russel mix dog. He shook his head violently from side to side, flapping the large, gray, stuffed animal around. “Wait a minute! You don’t have toys with batteries! Why is this one moving? Oh no!”

The mistaken toy was, in fact, a real rabbit. Not a bunny, like one would think, based on the dog’s size; this was a sizable, wild rabbit that Socrates caught and now secured in his clutches. It looked like he was wearing an old-fashioned, lady’s fur wrap that still had the head attached. Upon my scream, Socrates took off running out the back door, full steam ahead, with me close at his paws. 

“Drop it!” I shouted to no avail, swinging at him with a broom I picked up along the way.

Socrates looked up at me with his abnormally large, brown ears drooped over his white fur and serious expression, resembling Elmer Fudd, “Scwewy wabbit.” 

With lightning speed, I chased him around the pool, up the hill, down the hill and back around the pool, until he tuckered himself out. Within the confines of the pool equipment and a bush, he dropped the rabbit to the ground. 

What was he planning on making, a stew? Socrates caught his breath before I could catch him and hoisted the rabbit back up and took off. God, that little guy can run!

“Sam! Lindsay! I need help!”

They joined in on the chase around the pool. A new reality show was in the making, The Keystone Cops on the Wild Kingdom.

“Don’t let him back inside the house,” I ordered, but it was too late.

He ran back inside the kitchen. I aimed and swung the broom, missing him but clearing an entire row of wine glasses hanging from the ceiling rack, shattering them to the ground. He ran through the dining room, then up the stairs. 

“NOT UP THE STAIRS!”

Inside my bedroom, the jostled rabbit’s head bobbed up and down. Another swing and a miss on my part, and the curtain rod hit the ground. 

“NOT IN MY CLOSET!” 

He ran in, then immediately out, but not before sending the precariously stacked, T-shirt-and-socks-filled plastic bins crashing to the floor. Sam was ready, and as soon as Socrates entered the hallway, Sam reached down, scooped them up, and shook Socrates hard enough that he dropped the rabbit with a lifeless thud.

“Naughty Socrates. Poor rabbit,” I scolded.

Suddenly, the rabbit lifted his head, jumped up, and made a hop for it. 

“Quick, open the front door!” I instructed Lindsay.

She flung open the door and the rabbit sprang into action, landing a few feet outside.

Wanting in on the action, Mae, our cat, pounced. The rabbit leaped through the fence into Mr. McGregor’s yard with the cat in hot pursuit. A wild Jay dive bombed, pecking at Mae’s head. 

“Mom, do something!”

I motioned, “Lindsay, grab that rock – try to scare Mae off.”

Using her skilled water polo shooting arm, she pulled back and shot with perfect precision, scoring a direct hit and throwing the stunned Mae off the hunt.

Happily, the rabbit made a clean, if terrifying, getaway. 

Do cats and rabbits share in the “nine lives” legend?

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The Glider

I love it when treasures appear. 

At five o’clock in the afternoon, every day, my dogs bring me their leashes and demand their walk. Their sense of time is more precise than Big Ben. Dutifully, I acquiesce to their demands. 

Our route is the same – down our street, right on Lemon Street, left on Hope Avenue, and then… Hold Up! 

In the front yard of a house was a glider. Not a sailplane, but an old-fashioned swinging couch on a metal rack. It needed a little love, but I was in love. The handwritten sign taped to the metal railing carried one word: FREE! 

For the remainder of our walk, I focused on that glider. I could paint it a fun color and make matching orange and white cushions. When the dogs and I circled back, the glider was still there. 

That night I tried to convince myself to pass on it; you don’t need another project. 

The next day at five o’clock, the dogs gave me my marching orders. I tethered them to their leashes and off we went. Down our street, right on Lemon, left on Hope – it was still there. In the last twenty-four hours, no one had taken it. That was a sign. This time the dogs and I sat on it and gently rocked back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I had to jump off before I fell asleep.

Where would I put it? My backyard was starting to look like a used car lot with all its mismatched furniture. But this piece spoke to me. I dashed home.

“Kids!” I burst into the house with the zeal of someone who had won the lottery, “Come with me.” 

We pulled up next to the curb and popped open the back of my SUV. It was lightweight but cumbersome, unwieldy. The top was reaching up at least five feet, the width even more. We tried to fold it down, push it up, glide it in, half in and half out. No luck. Back to the house and the drawing board.

When we arrived back home, the kids hopped out, “Where are you going?” I asked.

“We have homework,” the said abandoning me.

The next day the FREE sign was gone, but the glider remained. I put my two dogs on the seat and pulled it off the curb. I dragged it 50 feet up Hope Avenue, making a horrible rattling and scraping sound, with the seat flying back and forth like a rickety Ferris wheel seat in the wind. That wasn’t going to work either. Disappointment glided over me.

The following morning, my dear friend, Michelle, called me. “Can you do me a big favor? I borrowed a truck, and I’m just down your street, can you help me load in this…”

“NOT THE GLIDER! THAT’S MINE,” I shouted.

Shocked, she asked, “What? So, you know about it?”

“Know about it? Intimately! I’ve wrapped my body around it in every position imaginable.”

“Do you want me to bring it up to your house?”

Her offer was more than generous. Tempting.

“No, it was meant for you, but I refuse to help you load it in the truck.”

“Understandable.”

My treasure vanished.

A week later she called, “Will you help me paint the glider?”

I did – orange with matching pillows. It looks perfect… in her yard.

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Rat-at-phooey

After a long day, I was ready for a relaxing evening at home, all alone for the first time in months. I poured myself a large glass of wine, warmed up a piece of leftover pizza, took hold of the TV remote, and settled in for the night. Wait, red pepper flakes would be the perfect accent on my pizza. I skipped to the pantry and pulled aside the rice in search of the pepper. 

“Oh no!” I said, spotting that signature pile of raisins. I was playing a game of Jenga. Slowly, nervously, I removed a cereal box, a hot chocolate box, then the granola box. 

FREEZE! The RAT, tucked in the corner with a Cheerio in his mouth, looked at me! I slammed the pantry door shut with a clap. Panic seared through my veins. The cat – I will throw her into the pantry, close the door and let nature take its course. “Miss Mae,” I called out.

A ruckus erupted upstairs. Banging, barking, meowing and yelping came out from Lindsay’s room. Before my daughter had left for the evening, she let the cat into her room and left his door open. The dogs seized upon this opportunity. Mayhem. 

Miss Mae ran from the bed to the bookcase and across the desk – up high, down low, paws up, paws down – scrambling to escape. I lunged to catch the computer before it hit the ground. Miss Mae doubled back and landed on the floor. Quickly it became a Wile E. Coyote vs. Roadrunner encounter. One giant ball of fur with legs flailing. I wrestled the dog, and the cat took off. 

“Stupid dog,” I grumbled, “I needed that cat.”

Now, what was I going to do? I couldn’t very well grab the rat and toss it. I was hyperventilating. I began texting friends. No response. I called, Lindsay, who was with her good friend, Paige. 

“The rat is back in the pantry,” I yelled into the phone, trying not to use expletives.

Paige jumped in, “My dad can help.”

“Is he home? We. Have. An. Emergency!”

Minutes later, Paige’s parents were in my kitchen, equipped with rat paraphernalia. 

Looking at the dog’s scratched-up nose, Greg asked, “What happened?”

“Let’s just say you were not my first call.”

Carelessly, they opened up the pantry, “Yep, there he is. Cute little guy, but gotta kill him.”

I protested, “I can’t! I built him an altar!” 

Lindsay interrupted, “Mom! We can’t have a rat living in the kitchen!”

“You make it sound like we live in urban squaller.”

That rat had been harassing us for weeks. Now, it was taking advantage of my hospitality. Yep, it had to go.

Greg started assembling the trap, “They like peanut butter. Do you have any?” He asked looking like Christopher Walken in Mouse Hunt.

“Yes, in the pantry. Shall I ask the rat to hand it to you?”

“Cheese will do.”

He placed the trap in front of the rat. Sarah Jane, Greg, the girls, and I waited for the snap. We passed the time telling rat trapping stories and drank beers, like medieval executioners. It wasn’t until morning that I discovered the remains from the dastardly deed.

I telephoned my, trusted friend when it comes to these matters. “Eric,” I have a situation. Clean up on aisle 1. Dare I say it put up a fight.”

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Uncharted Territory

What do a sock puppet, and Stuart Little have in common? They both like their snacks at ten o’clock at night.

“AAAHHH!” my daughter screamed hysterically – so loud in fact that I had to pause Bridgerton, which, given its dicey content, was a Godsend.

“What?” I asked her.

“RAT!”

I’m not sure which one jumped first or highest since it happened simultaneously. Immediately, the rat stopped gnawing the granola bag, catapulted itself from the fourth shelf, landed safely on the kitchen floor and scurried outside. Upon further investigation of the granola bag, I noticed a pile of raisins next to it – yes, raisins. Maybe another thing they had in common, a dislike of dried grapes.

Recently, my son embarked on an Incredible Journey. He drove from Los Angeles to Milwaukee to spend time with friends. I was very proud of his bravery, yet as his mother, I felt such trepidation. He was making this cross-country drive at the height of the Polar Vortex. 

Why not travel to the North Pole? The same thing! He is a California boy! Californians don’t drive in snow. But Daniel Boone was determined and could not be stopped. Nor should he. It was all fitting together. 

He was driving his Explorer SUV, the one that bears his name on the license plate because I bought that SUV when he was born, twenty-four years ago. Now logging in two hundred thousand miles, it’s barely short of being a covered wagon.

The temperature in the Midwest had dropped below zero, when I got a call,

“Mom, the heater doesn’t work. It’s fine. I’m wearing all my clothes and my ski gloves.”

His resourcefulness gave me pause, “So, you’re driving to Wisconsin during a blizzard in an old car without a heater or snow tires. Have fun, honey.” 

At the same time, my other son was embarking on an adventure of his own. “Mom, can you help me with Valentine’s Day?”

Please let it be he’s making a card for me, using a doily and construction paper, and needs glue. No, my baby had a valentine. Normal for a teenager, and the girl is lovely, but I’m fretting. He is putting his heart in grave danger.

That gets us back to Stuart Little. I’m confident he has a mother who is fretting over him. What bravery to venture out to our pantry in the dead of night. What if those raisins were a Valentine’s Day gift? I bought a box of raisins in case Stuart Little returned after discovering our neighbors had a cat. I made a small pile by the front door as an offering, “If I take care of this rodent’s body and heart, please take care of my boys.” 

Jack made it home safe and happy. “Mom, there is a pile of rat poop by the front door,” he said.

I didn’t dare tell him it was an alter I had made for his safe travel. That would have sounded weird.

“No, those are raisins.”

“No, this is definitely rat poop. The raisins are gone.”

“Oh, thank you,” I whispered with a sigh of relief.

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