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Archive for June, 2011

R.I.P.

Bright and sunny yesterday so by 7:30 a.m. I was dressed in my worker bee gear and headed out to continue playing catch up on the property.   I slammed on my work boot brakes when I found a tiny vole lying on the porch.   The first I’ve seen (alive or dead) on my property since my arrival.  I wish I could say he was sunning himself, but it appeared something had caught him unaware and decided my porch should be his resting place.   I disagree.

Some folks can pick up dead birds, rodents, etc. with a paper towel and toss them in the trash.  I, on the other hand, wanting to show great respect by not touching them, nearly decimate their already lifeless bodies trying to scoop them up with the shovel.  One would think that would be an easy task, the scooping part; but it’s harder than it looks.   I usually end up scooting them along for a time before I give in to the fact that I’m going to have to create a barrier on the other side, which entails the possibility of contact.

Once I got the tiny vole on the shovel I took him over to his grave site; a sunny spot now known as the “volesoleum.” 

Once the service was over and I finished the post-funeral refreshments, I got back to chorin’.   I headed out to the back of the property to gather  up some tarps because I’ve been busy creating more piles for haulin’.    Now, the back 40 has turned into a field of high grass that the deer love, but it seems to have become a haven for other wildlife, too.   The slithering kind.   Oh, you know what’s comin’.

If you’ve been reading along from the beginning, you might remember back in the early days my run in with a little black number coiled so tightly I thought it was a pile of poo…until I poked at it with my hoe and it raised up its angry little head.   Now, I’m pretty much hobbled from two years of keeping the property as neat and tidy as any neurotic city dweller would think necessary, but seeing a snake lights a fire under me and I can run pretty dang fast.  Of course, it’s not a true “runner’s” stride.  It’s the kind of run that has a lot of jumping up and down to go with it, and rather than arms swinging by the side for momentum, mine are raised to the sky in a hallelujah kind of way.  And that’s exactly the running technique I used when I pulled back the tarp and found this guy snuggled up underneath it.   Ssssssnake! my feet screamed.

I ran in the direction of the car where I had my camera (still warm from the funeral photos), and another vole (this one alive) shot out from a tarp and went running toward the snake.  I so hoped this wasn’t going to turn into a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom moment because I’m no Jim Fowler and I certainly didn’t have it in me to save that little vole from that snake.  What I learned that morning was that a vole can stop almost as fast as I can when it sees a snake and make a beeline in the opposite direction, which would be in my direction.  Now I had to worry about that vole running up my pant legs because wouldn’t you know, I forgot to put my rubber bands around my ankles.  (Yes, it’s really hard to be me.)  So, I’m running, my hallelujah arms pumping up and down, when I look down and see the vole is running alongside me, until it passes me on my right and heads into the woods.   It’s just me and the snake.   I zoomed in as much as I could, snapped the photo and jumped in the car like a paparazzi with the willies.

Here’s the thing:  I’m going to be on the lookout for that snake under every tarp and rock, around ever tree trunk.  I’m going to jump and down and slap myself silly every time I mistake a stick for that snake.  In other words, I’m going to work myself into a frenzy over that snake.  And then one day I’m going to forget all about that snake.    And that’s the day that snake, or one of his buddies, is going to surprise me again.   And isn’t that what life’s all about?

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I took my car in for an oil change last week and good friend, DZ, gave me a ride home; however, being the independent (some say, obstinate) woman  I am, I decided to take the bus to and from the rest of my errands that day.  It was my first time using Island Transit, which, by the way, is Kaching! free!

Now, it’s been at least three decades since I’ve taken public transit and a lot has changed.  The wheels on the bus still go round and round, but the steps go up and down now to make entering and exiting the bus easier.  (No, this was not where my accident took place; although by the time the story got back around to me, I heard I had “fallen off the bus;” which, I assume, is not like “falling off the wagon”; unless of course, there was an insinuation that went over my head.)

I’m actually a very shy person; especially out in public where there’s a chance that I will be recognized as a sister from another planet (but with much prettier feet – see the movie – Brother From Another Planet – and you’ll understand).  Rather than ask questions, because that would be oh so much easier, but renders me to imagined scoffing; or at my new senior citizen age, some  yokel slipping their arm through mine to protect me from a mind/hip feeble fall (hey, wait a minute, I could have  used that yokel on The Road That Should Have Been less Traveled), I tend to observe my surroundings and glean answers through a process of elimination, and/or someone else’s open aired ignorance.   I use the word ignorance with all due respect.   Rather than show my own ignorance and panic when I got on the bus, looked overhead and didn’t find the cord; the cord I remembered from my days of traveling downtown with my Gram to Woolworth’s cafeteria to partake in cubes of red jello topped with whipped cream and served in a parfait glass; the cord when pulled on signaled a stop request, I leaned forward and asked the bus driver if he would be stopping at the Park and Ride.  “Yes, I’ll let you know when we get there.”  Getting there takes about three minutes from my stop.  (Boy, this is turning into a “What I Did Last Summer,” essay.)  So, problem solved for now, but I had a return to trip to plan and I had to find out, through covert questioning, how one signaled their desire to get off the bus.

I successfully took the bus to see Dr. Bob and have my back adjusted; walked to Prairie Center Red Apple (my town’s grocery store); and came home.  Successful meaning I hadn’t injured myself and I had estimated the time of the bus’ arrival at my stops.  You see, here on the island, they don’t post the time the bus arrives at every stop.  It makes it more fun that way.  The last stop that shows on the schedule before reaching my stop is in another town.  So, as you can see, it becomes a bit of a fun math problem.  If the bus leaves Greenbank at 9:51 and Greenback is 9.37 miles from your home, and the bus is traveling 50 miles per hour,  when will it arrive at your stop?  Being a math wizard – my answer is:  Eventually.  Because of my mathematical prowess, I have only had to wait 20 minutes, sometimes 25.   These are the times when I have come to doubt Sister Mary Delores’s theory that giving up candy for Lent outweighed the numbers game.   Ah, but I digress.  I would make a sharp left turn here, but my foot is propped up and the Tramadol prohibits anything more than a meandering curve.

Oh, you’re probably wondering, you know you are, how I found out about signaling the bus driver to let me off at the next stop.  While waiting for the bus to take me home, a very nice gentleman, and no one I recognized from town, which I surmised from his own confused bus schedule scanning, struck  up a conversation with me.  He seemed knowledgeable (I say this because he was carrying an iPad, iPhone, which he knew how to use, and a spiffy backpack.)  Now was my chance.  Small talk, small talk,  yuk, yuk…Port Townsend…new fangled buses, blah, blah…boy, they sure have changed how to get off the bus…ha, ha…in my day…and now it’s so much easier to reach the yellow strip between the seats to request a stop.    Just like that, I picked that guy’s bus acumen pocket clean!

Now, about The Road That Should Have Been Less Traveled.  I was feeling pretty full after my day on the Island Transit circuit.  Granted, I may have over compensated with the number of times I pushed that yellow strip to signal my stop request.   And then things went terribly wrong on my next bus ride.  Unfortunately, the bus didn’t stop as close to my mechanic’s shop as I thought it would and I had to walk along SR 20 for about a quarter-mile where there’s about an eighth of an inch span called the “bike lane.”  At one point a stream of cars came zooming (zooming here on the island maxes out at 55 mph, but when you’re looking at it head on, it seems a lot faster) down the road.  It was then I decided to do what any normal person would do who hasn’t suffered severe brain damage – I stepped out of the eighth of an inch “bike lane” onto the grassy slope.  And that, my friends, is where my trouble began.  Somehow, I got my left foot tangled up in a root or a vine, twisted it along with my leg into an awkward angle and went down.  Now it would have behooved me to stay down for a moment and examine my circumstance, but I popped back up  like one those sand weighted boxing clowns.  Sad to say my foot didn’t bounce back up with me and I went down a second time – just for good measure.  The same string of obscenities I use to start my lawn mower singed the grass (and, yes, my lawn mower was running when I got home).  I hobbled to L&L, picked up my car and hopped into the house.  I packed my wounded foot in ice and figured all would be right in the morning.

Some time around 1:00 a.m. a pain that I can only describe as $(#@!!! tore through my foot.  Knowing I had to work in the morning, I had to find out if my foot was broken.  Please do not ask me to explain the reasoning behind this thought:  if it was broken, I wouldn’t be able to work; however, if badly sprained, I would go in.  Also, when my favorite of all my children broke his arm for the second time, I assured him that it was probably just a bad sprain.  Come the morning and a trip to the doctor, we found out it was broken.  It took years of therapy for me to come to grips with an “honest mistake.”  However, taking a chance with my child’s limb was one thing; I certainly wasn’t going to do it with my own.  And having learned a very expensive lesson this past winter, I didn’t call for an ambulance; rather, I hopped to the car and drove myself to the emergency room and dragged my sorry leg across the parking lot.  After a couple of hours and several x-rays later, I left with a nifty pair of crutches, and the above-referenced prescription.  I’m happy to say that there were no broken bones, my foot seems to be mending, and the ensuing cold I caught the next day, along with another hallucinatory fever, seems to be waning.

I find there’s always a silver lining that accompanies what appears to be a cloudy sky.   This cloudy sky held more than one.   The first silver lining: my circle of the finest friends called when I didn’t show up for coffee to check on my whereabouts.  The second silver lining: I learned how to get off the bus without having to ask.

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The worn tip of one shoe was followed by another.  There stood rocket science smart Steve Heising with Her around his neck, carrying Her as if She was some sanctified feline, or a herder’s flock favorite.   She pushed off Steve the way a runner pushes off third base headed for home in the final inning of a tied game; lightning fast.   Steve exited the room with the same speed.  The moment had come.  I was about to interview Lilly, the reported brains and power behind Whidbey Island Distillery.

I went through a “pat down” to rival any airport Homeland Security technique.  This should probably be a secondary notation; the first being: I was patted down by a cat.  If you ever find yourself in that position, I recommend you stand very, very still.  My hair still looks like Albert Einstein’s in those photos where he appears to be thinking very hard.

When the air is thick with tension, I like to place a well-timed joke in the middle of it…a little something to put everyone at ease.  “So, are you any relation to Garfield or Bucky?”   A quick swipe (with claws exposed) to my head told me the joke wasn’t as well-timed, nor as funny, as I had thought it to be.

Lilly jumped on the table where the computer with all the facts and figures for the operation of Whidbey Island Distillery are kept and proceeded to log on.

Lilly: (typing, because contrary to popular animated belief, cats don’t talk): Look, I don’t have time for jokes.  I’ve got a company to run.  You want to play fetch the funny bone back and forth, interview a dog.  You’ve got five questions; maybe less, depending on my mood.  Make them good.

GFC:  Gotcha.  Okay.  (I wiped the blood away from my wounded left temple and threw away the first five pages of back story and humorous (in my estimation) cat lore.  Lilly sighed as if dealing with a slow learner as she cleaned the hair she yanked from my head from her paw.    (Damn you Katie Couric, Meredith Viera for your timely exits.  A pox on you Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer for your lightweight interviewing techniques.  Where in God’s name is Geraldo?)

GFC:  Steve has done all the research and testing and Bev is a genius when it comes to merchandising.  Can you tell me why they need you?

Lilly:  (typing with an indignant air) Look out the window pork chop.  Now, tell me again – who’s a genius?Lilly:  Here’s how it works.  I get up in the morning and make sure the grounds are secure and there’s nobody in the inner sanctum that doesn’t belong.  I’ll give you a scoop, pork chop.  I “chipped” Bev and Steve in their sleep one night.   No “chip,” you can’t get past the final security check point to the inner sanctum; try, and I’ll render you as useless as a hand brake on a rowboat.

GFC:  Wasn’t “chipping” Bev and Steve without their permission a rather invasive and radical measure?

Lilly:  (hissing, her back arched) Really, you’ve got five questions to ask me about Whidbey Island Distillery and this is the best you can do?  It’s the era of Homeland Security, pork chop.  We’ve got the finest product and the other guys want it.  I do what I have to do.  (Lilly opened a portfolio of photographs.)  These are our most wanted in the arena of spies; the bad guys who want the means and measures by which we’ve created the best whiskey ever produced on Whidbey Island; hell, the…

A screeching siren penetrated the air.  Lilly downloaded all the stats in the computer onto one of those little dohickeys, proceeded to swallow it, and rushed through the door into the woods.

That was the last I saw of Lilly that day, but I’m going back; once my wound heals.  By the way, since Lilly whacked me across the head (I’m not saying she “chipped” me), but I’m getting cable now and I don’t even own a television.

Stay tuned for “The Interview – Part 3”)

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