Category Archives: Singed Feathers Everywhere*

People have asked what this means so here is the post I wrote it in and, the context of which, should explain it, as far as it goes.

Valentine’s Day In My Garden

It’s spring! The time when a young buck’s fancy turns to love and there are loved-up bunnies all over our garden at the moment. They are near demented with it and more than once I’ve seen the white of a lusty bunny eye. In the evening they will rear up in majestic rabbit rampant sillhouette causing you to remember good, brave Hazel from Watership Down and weep.

We are very lucky here at Rancho Problemo and have a full orchestra ready and waiting to provide heightened emotion to our everyday activities – things like The Luvin’ Spoonful hits on shuffle at breakfast time, “O Fortuna!” when we prepare fish steaks and, unexpectedly, “I’m Going To Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair” when I’m doing the hoovering. But we’ve had “Bright Eyes” on a loop for a week now and, frankly, I’m about ready to reach for a big ole Elmer gun and thort that pethky orchethtwa out.

Rabbits are not like us I observed lazily this morning, the sun shining in the window and bathing my bumble-bee slippers with light. They don’t have our inhibitions and “meta”ness. Their manners in mating matters aren’t like our’s either. They will tear about the garden like lunatic furballs without a care for the circling hawks above, the possibility of a beaky death only adding to the piquancy of their lust. Then a frisky young doe will suddenly turn coquettishly with a shiver of her little bobtail and she and her suitor will crouch face-to-face, ears flat and stock-still for half a minute or more, only their twitching noses to tell us that we aren’t looking at a still-life painting. Their twitching noses and the lack of a frame.

Then, suddenly! she will leap 3 feet straight up into the air and they’re off again, haring round the lawn and sending little clods of turf flying. Moments later they will disappear into a bush which will tremble and squeak for about twenty seconds before two plumes of lazy curling smoke come out of its top.

Later, you see them pretending they don’t know each other, but she has a new looseness about her hips when she hops, and he’s writing poetry in the mud with his nose. Lovesick and unguarded, he will hop out into the open for a better peek at her as she grazes with her girlfriends, forgetting that he, as a bunny, is one of the most eaten creatures on earth. The sky will darken, a hawk will swoop and a bobcat will pounce and collide with the hawk in a puff of blood and fur and feathers as our hero hops a few hops forward forward, oblivious to the carnage behind him, his only concern whether he should have used the Petrarchan rather than the Shakespearean form for his x-rated sonnet. The end.

Hey, it’s just after Valentine’s Day, folks – you didn’t think I was going to kill the bunny, didja? No, he is flattened later by a UPS delivery truck.

Anyways, this is what our pops orchestra played this morning when I threatened to disembowel them with the cymbals if the played one more bar of “Bright Eyes”:

Bunny lovin’ – had me a blast
Bunny lovin’ – happened so fast
Met a doe, crazy for me
Met a buck, cute as can be
Bunny fun, something’s begun
But ooooooh these springy dawns

A well a well a well a…

(Massed Blue-birds and fawns)
Tell me more tell me more does he have an o-er bite?
(Massed gophers and raccoons)
Tell me more tell me more, was her tail fresh and white?

Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huhoooaaah

She hopped by me, nibbled some grass
He just sat there right on his ass.
She went skipping, I caught her eye
He ignored me, I don’t know why.
Bunny treat, doe and buck meet
But oooooooooh, these springy dawns

A well a well a well a…

Tell me more, tell me more, did he sing you a song?
Tell me more, tell me more, was she wearing a thong?

It grew warmer as the day broke.
I spiked her dew with ‘hypnol and coke.
I woke up, about mid-day
Oh she was flat out and I had my way
Bunny rape, too doped to escape
oooooh ooooooooooh these spri-ngy daaaaaaaaaaaawns

Oh oh oh

(Sotto voce)
Tell me more, tell me mo-ho-ho-ho-ore!
(And fade…)

Repost from 2008 to try to get me motivated to start up this cobwebby old place again.

Where The Wild Things Are

They’re at my house. 

30 hours of straight travel ahead, door-to-door, and all night it’s been Nature loud in hoot and chirrup at my house.  There is a cricket stuck inside in the the sitting-room somewhere, making more racket than you think a single cricket in a house could.  I’ve been up twice trying to bash it/release it lovingly back to the wild, but every time I turn the light on it shuts right up and I can’t find it.  But worse than the cricket were the owls!  Two of them!  I don’t know if they were getting it on or having a tete-a-tete, a heart to heart, dancing beak-to-beak or what but they had a lot to say to each other and it sounded like relationship stuff. 

“Get a room, owls!”  I silently shrieked. 

Silently, because Problemchild 2 snuck into bed with me at about 3 and by then all sleep would remain just a crazy, waking dream.   

So, up, fully dressed and leaving an hour earlier than I thought becasue I couldn’t check-in online last night for some reason and that’s making me nervous.  Why? Why can’t I check in?  Why is that?  I figure if I’m there an hour earlier, more shouting and bawling can be packed in if there’s any problem, and shouting and bawling is a more efficient use of my time than listening to owls getting it on while a cricket plays its mournful, incessant dirge for freedom.  On the other hand, maybe cricket-squashing and owl-slaughter are more efficient uses of my extra hour.  Oh, If only I’d remembered to exercise my constitutional wotsits and become a gun-owner. 

Byeee.

xx

Eastward Bound And Gagged.

Well, I didn’t think I’d be seeing Stornoway again quite so soon but today I find it’s so.  Flying out tomorrow, back next week.  Then off to Bulgaria for my dad’s wedding.  So, it appears that I have falsely alarmed you about my coming back to live La Blogge Vita.  I really thought I was.  Bit busier than I used to be but I was slowly catching up with everyone and thoroughly enjoying myself.  But life is exceedingly lifey right now, so I’m orf for another few weeks.  Take care, kids.  Love yoosall. I do.

Noticeably Romantic Poem

(Or extremely touching verses composed upon the occasion of my father’s weddng to Jenny The Tremendous)

My dad’s getting married next month to a lovely Bulgarian lady.  She is a polyglot Bulgarian translator at the American University over there, and that’s nice because my dad has neglected to learn Bulgarian in his whole 62 years on the earth, the wastrel.  Their’s is a story of such beautiful and affecting romance that I was moved and tautologically stirred to spoil it all with a poem.  Also I can’t sleep. 

Very Romantic Poem.

More than the fleas on a zoo-full of bears
More than both tres and beaucoup
More than marzipan’s icky and vile
That’s how much I love you

More than the squeak in a violin
More than a chicken is feathered
More than the spots on a teenagers chin
More than Al Greenspan looks weathered.

More than a teller can tell, do I love
More than avoiders avoid
I love you as surely as death will come true
Just as surely as eggs is ovoid.

More than Obama can stir with his speech
More than W couldnae
More than the good Sister Wendy will NOT
And Clinton, he did but he shouldnae

I love you more than feelings can hurt
More than a wee brother’s pesky
More than collagen trouts up your pout
Making you look all grotesquey

As loud as the sound of a fart in a church
And more than that last line was dirty
More than a butler called Igor doth lurch
And more than a grapefruit is squirty

More than, climactically speaking, we are
So thoroughly now in the poo
O! More than this poem’s romantic, my dear
That’s how much I love you.

The End.

A Summer’s Tale

Square-Jawed George adored Genevieve above all the other rabbits in the warren. Splendidly, Genevieve admired George’s muscular haunches and his strong, decisive chin. Square-Jawed George and Genevieve would often lie among the primroses under the old willow tree and read poetry to each other, or go strolling ardently by the river. Sometimes they would skip and scamper through the meadow, laughing and laughing as if they were the first bunnies ever to have loved.

But this wasn’t enough love even for two so star-crossed as they, even for two who had his moon rising in her Sagittarius. Their love grew and grew until pretty soon it was nauseating the whole warren. Square-Jawed George and Genevieve would walk the wooded meadow as lovers do, lost in each other’s eyes, occasionally knocking over toadstool dwellings but oblivious to everything and everyone except their love. As they passed by, in their wake they left dozens of innocent rabbits doubled-up, heaving and retching out their half-nibbled stomach contents in the pleasant meadow flowers. The ladybirds who lived in the toadstools were furious too at having lost yet another housing development cul-de-sac to the lovers. The whole meadow smelled of regurgitated dandelion-stems, and toadstool prices in the area had plummeted. The strain on the community was beginning to show.

The rabbits and ladybirds took their complaints to the warren-council where dark words were muttered and mid-toned discussions screamed, but there seemed to be nothing in the law books which forbade the public exchange of tender lovelinesses between consenting rabbits. It seemed the law’s paws were tied. Maybe it’ll stop when Spring is over, they hoped.

Spring turned to Summer. One Wednesday in July, a hot, stifling day which left even the most equable rabbits grumpy and irritable, the meadow was smelling particularly rank. Square-Jawed George and Genevieve had been even more vomitsome lately. Sweaty bunnies lay here and there in the scorched and scratchy grass, fanning themselves with blighted dock leaves and bickering. Malnutrition from all the vomiting had taken its toll on some of the bunnies. Everywhere ears drooped, teeth rotted and ribs showed painfully through their dull coats. Only Square-Jawed George and Genevieve were still bright of eye and perky of bob-tail. And here they came.

“What shall I compare thee to today, my sweet doe?” trilled Square-jawed George buckfully. A summer day’s sooo been done.” But, because his chin was so very decisive, the word came to him almost immediately. “An evening! A summer’s evening!” And Genevieve loved him even more for his easy command of words.

“Oh Christ, here they come again!” said one rabbit and the word spread throughout the meadow. “Quick – paws in ears, eyes shut and lalalalalas!

But the mood was different in the meadow today. The rabbits didn’t put their paws in their ears or shut their eyes or do lalalalas. Instead, it was very, very quiet, each rabbit straining to hear what the lovers were saying as they passed, as if masochism were the new arugula. Here and there a bunny eye glinted. Square-Jawed George and Genevieve lolloped on, not seeing or hearing anything but themselves.

And something snapped. it was impossible to say who started it, only that an electrifying twitch-nerve surged through the watching rabbits like a sort of murderous Mexican wave and all 700 rabbits sprang forward in a fury, launching themselves at the lovers with their teeth bared.

Long after the fluff had settled, and the blood trickled away into the soil, long after the crows had done for the remains of the tragic pair, I, an old, old owl, who had seem it all come to pass from my high forest perch by the meadow would gather my grandowlets around me and tell them the tale of Square-Jawed George and Genevieve.

“Why did they have to die?” they would sob, doing little owl droppings of despair all over my nice rug.

And I would shake my wise old head, as I handed them buckets of water and disinfectant to clean up.

“They were too beautiful for this world.” I would whisper, my eyes shining with brine. And I would turn away from my darlings then, and all the old guilt would come flooding back. The guilt about how good the lovers’ little hearts had tasted as, unseen, I plucked them from their breasts before the crows came for their broken bodies.

THE END

The Silence Of The Clams

I was born on a dark Monday in a land where an unknowable ocean tried to seduce a knowable shore with long caresses and whispers. The pretty shore wasn’t brought up that way though and cried foul. The unknowable ocean claimed it was an insane current that had made him do it, that his head had been turned by a spicy, intoxicating loose-hipped trade-wind. A seachiatrist attested to temporary insandity and eventually the charges were dropped.

Ruling aside – we, the guardians of the shore, didn’t much hold with the insandity defence and we still didn’t trust the sea. Soon after that therefore a long pier was constructed so we could keep an eye on the randy unknowable ocean, and on that pier they decided they may as well erect a new shellfish-processing plant because the old one was broken. This was the shellfish-processing plant that would mark my days and haunt my nights forever.

It happened one night on a Brownie camp-out and sausage-sizzle. We set up our tents on the windy marran grass on the machair just beyond the beach. Picture us, dear reader! See us as we sit round the camp-fire singing “Ging Gang Gooli“, and giggling through “O, ye cannie get to heaven in a girl guide’s bra ‘cos a girl guides bra don’t stretch that far“; all, rosy-cheeked and brown-bobble-hatted, woggles askew, faces smeared with ketchup, cinders and roasted marshmallow but our eyes clear and shining, our young hearts filled with wonder at the stars above and the excitement of a great adventure.

Lying in our tents later that night, transfixing daddy-long-legses with torchlight on the canvas, we laughed and shrieked at Anna’s impressive farts -better than any boy’s – until one by one everyone drifted off to Nod but me. Not nearly ready to sleep, I grabbed my torch and stole out of the tent, hopping in my sleeping-bag over the black dunes and down to the dark shore.

I heard the sea lapping at the beach and sat on the still-warm sand, hugging my knees, thrilling at how the dark brought the world back to sounds and senses and primal things. Brown Owl had told us not to leave our tents and, with a shadow crossing her face, had warned us on no account to wander out near the shellfish processing plant. I remembered her kindly face and thought of how disappointed she would be at my disobedience. But I was determined to see for myself what went on at the end of the pier. I rose and hopped ridiculously up a dune and on to the wooden pier. What work did the processors do in the middle of the night out there? I hopped on.

Creak, complained the wooden boards under my bouncing sleeping-bag. As I approached the building, I could hear voices inside, and made my way towards a window with a lobster pot underneath the sill. Several valiant hop attempts later I was up on the lobster pot and looking right into a long, starkly lit room with great steel tables, at the end of which were massive sinks filled with ice. About half a dozen people stood around in yellow wellies with white smocks and shower caps on, and great yellow rubber gloves that made their hands look grotesquely big and clowny.

Suddenly, the doors at the sea-end of the building were flung open and some men wheeled in a huge metal cart. All conversation stopped. I watched as each processor reached down into his or her smock pocket and draw out a long sharp knive, cruelly curved at the end into a hook, the whole blade like the unspeakable smirk of some devilish slasher-movie fiend. There was a moment of silence as the cart tipped and then a clattering as hungreds and hundreds of pale clams were tipped into the first ice-sink.

And that was when the screaming began. The screaming of molluscs as all hope for them faded. Mummy molluscs, Daddy molluscs and baby molluscs huddling together in terror Knowing that this was the end of their lives. I saw the processor at the first table grab a clam.

The screaming grew louder. I watched in horror as the evil hooked knife glinted in the processor’s hand and he pried the helpless clam’s shell open. Rooted to my lobster-pot I gazed at the pale and shining being inside and time slowed down as I watched the man bring his knife nearer and nearer the tiny animal. Then, for the briefest of moments I saw a tiny mouth open and two tiny red-rimmed eyes flick wide open as the most hideous, heart-breaking wail I have ever heard hit my ears… The screaming….The screaming…

Recoiling in horror I jerked suddenly and my lobster pot toppled sending me sprawling on the damp boardwalk beneath. The screaming!…The screaming!… In a half-seeing panic I tried to get up and hopped a few feet before falling on my face again, gashing my cheek on the rough wood. I had to get away! I lurched and one part hopped to two parts waddled my way back to the shore, my eyes hot and wet with what they’d witnessed and in my ears the terrible screaming, the abominable squelch as the knife sliced through living tissue.

By the time I reached the end of the pier and hurled myself down the dune, I was bleeding and snot-smeared with fear and grief. I vomited then, and every hole in my head seemed at that moment to be leaking me out, leaking out something vital, something I’d never get back. Too afraid to go back to my tent and risk my heaving sobs being heard, I flung myself down on the beach and, pulling my wooly brownie hat down over my ears, I pressed the palms my hands as hard as I could into them. I must have lain like that for an hour or more until, finally exhausted, I fell asleep.

The light was grey when I awoke, bruised from my many falls on the pier, my cheek sticky with blood and my face covered in sand. But what I remember most of all was the stillness of the air that cold morning. And the silence, the silence of the clams…

The waves lapping gently around the bottom of my sleeping bag seemed to rebuke me and all people. Who raped who? they seemed to whisper, solemnly disregarding grammatical concerns. Who raped who?

“Oh, shut up!” I said, but to this day I have never again eaten pork.

Post Brought To You By A Long, Boozy Easter Dinner And Some Still Loaded Insomia

In an occasion marked by solemnity and nervous hilarity, last week the cities of Ojai and Stornoway were officially twinned marking what Mayor Janice De KirkFitzMacCohenburgerski (America’s Miss Teen Melting Pot 1964) called “an occasion of immense cultural and economic importance to both towns.” Already an agreement is in place for the exclusive rights to trade sun-dried tomatoes and mutton between the two cities.

“Hahahahahaha!” Stornoway mayor, Mr Uistean “Big” MacAuley remarked upon hearing his Ojai counterpart describing Stornoway as a forward-thinking city with a great future ahead of it. “Oh, that’s a good one, right enough,” he added, guffawing mauvely.

Mayor KirkFitzMacCohenburgerski expressed the hope that the twinning would lead to a whole new era of cultural exchange, particularly for the young people of both towns. A young person, later told us, “Yeah, like, it’s a super-cool idea, furilla. These Scatch kids seem like cool, ya know? Gnarly. I mean at first I was all like, Whoa! what’s wrong with your teeth, dudes? But then I remembered that the Brits have, like, dental problems? And they can’t, like, help it? So I was all Hey man, don’t sweat it, my grandpa’s got the same deal. I heard it’s because of that Tony Thatcher bitch buying them Falklands from Northern Ireland so now there’s no money left to pay the dentists and’ shit. I learned all about that stuff in the World History class I had to take when Pottery and Navel-Gazing got filled up. Yo.”

While in Ojai, the Stornoway delegation are enjoying the hospitality of Rotary Club members who have opened their homes and locked their liquor cabinets for the week.

Mrs. Maggie-Aggie MacKenzie told us about her delightful experience staying with her host for the week. “Oh yes, a ‘ghraidh, I’m having a lovely time. The heat is a problem because I’m under the doctor at home for my varicose veins and I’m supposed to walk a mile every day but I’m chust not used to the heat, you see.” Mrs. MacKenzie dressed in a black wool skirt, thick wool stockings, her church hat and a frankly fabulous itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka-dot bikini bra top, giggled girlishly at “having her interview taken”, went on to describe how she “could never take a tan, I just go red and peel. A-woooohooohohohoho” she whooped, amiably elbowing this reporter off the sofa with surprising strength.

The twinning ceremony, marred only by a single small bladder incontinence incident described by Mr. John Jerome 88, as nothing really – hardly a dribble”, was hailed by all as a triumph. Here are some accounts of the day by attendees, in their own words, when asked what memories they would take away:

Savannah MacLeod, 15 (Stornoway) “Man, you can get Diesel here for washers! I think high fashion at low low prices is what makes America a strong moral leader on the global political scene.

Gerald Butler 63, (Ojai) “Well, mostly I’m just grateful to meet such a fine array of inbred people. I had my reservations at first, of course, but, I have to say, they’re really splendid ambassadors for the Scottish inbred community. A pleasant surprise indeed, especially after all the things I’d heard. I only saw one 11-digited person all week.”

Seamus MacCuish, 50, (Stornoway) “Amazing tractors.”

Sylvia Horborgenssen 49, (Ojai) “They’re just so cute with their little accents and all! I simply adore them! I wish I could keep one. I’m 1/16th Scottish myself, you know! They showed me a picture of their lil old Callanish stones, adn I said to Norm, didn’t I Norm? I said to Norm, we just have to get some of these made up for the front lawn. Cause it’s our hair-tage.”

Colin “Utter Bore” Morrison 38 (Stornoway) “Well they go on about California beaches and that but they’re not a patch on our unspoilt Lewis beaches and what about the rampant consumerism, eh? In my opinion this country’s got fat and lazy, too comfy. Can’t people be happy with just a lonely house, a madeira loaf and poor TV reception? Oh no, it’s “McMansion” this and “gateau” that. And the breakfasts! I mean who puts syrup next to sausages? No wonder America leads the world in childhood obesity…” (There a short muttering conference with with Miss Tiffany MacDonald, 38-26-36 (Stornoway))…”Oh. It appears that’s the Scots, but anyway that’s completely beside the point. The point is, the point IS, where’s the culture, eh? Where are the community bonds, the strong social fabric? It’s all I’m all right, Jack, out here. Nobody knows their neighbours, and why shouldn’t they have to when there’s me putting up with that old witch Peigi-Effie down the lane from me, with her, (affecting a falsetto) “Ooooh could you pick me up some milk when you’re in town, dearie?” and her completely fake multiple sclerosis. And why the helling hell can’t you get a drink anywhere past 11pm on a Tuesday? Land of the brave and home of the free, my arse. And another thing, what about the gun violence, eh? And being 26th in the world for education? There’s not enough long walks to isolated sheilings containing a thousand haunted memories, if you ask me. Not enough bitter weeping and rampant alcoholism for a healthy society. All this have a nice day rubbish. It’s so fake. So insincere. Everything’s just surfaces, healthy, happy, tanned looking surfaces. Everything’s so nauseatingly well-meaning. God I can’t stand it.” At this point Mr. Morrison had to be led away sobbing uncontrollably.”

Katherine-Anice Bolton-Macleod 29 (stornoway) speaking with commas and semicolons and words like “indubitably”: “What’s been most of interest from an anthropological point of view – I’m studying the subject at St. Andrews, you see – has indubitably, for me, been watching the interactions between the two cultures; examining the expectations, the accommodations made vis-a-vis social mores etc. Just this morning at the golf-club breakfast buffet (sponsored by Pammy’s Pampered Pooches), we had a very interesting discussion about how to make a proper cup of tea. Mr. MacCuish had expressed some dismay about the fact that the Lapsang Souchong he had been served was “bloody horrible” and “so weak it was nearly a fortnight.” This led to some embarrassment on behalf of the Ojaiwegians but, after Mrs. macKenzie produced some Tetley’s teabags from her handbag for everyone to try, there followed an interesting exchange of ideas on the practice of adding milk, whether lemon with tea was “poofy” and what was the point of iced-tea, exactly. Fascinating. I think we all learnt a great deal.”

The Stornoway delegation are in town ’til after happy-hour on Thursday, whereupon they continue on to Las Vegas.

The Pencil Effect

There follows a brief, shouty prologue:

It’s a bit of a crappy day all round for everybody. I thought I’d try and distract myself from inaccurate ABC “docudramas” by posting something. Do we really need a docudrama when a third of the country still doesn’t have the facts sorted out in all these five years and still thinks Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11? When Mr. Bush said today that he “will never forget the lessons of 9/11”, does anyone know, did anyone ask him if he knows what these lessons are?

Anyway.

Today I have no use for punctuation although it may use me like a, poor; ragged! wre(:)tche’d, th”ing? what with it being a definite set of accepted rules and me being just a housewife. Life is hardly fair though.

I’ve cannibalized today’s post from a comment I left over at my friend Latigo Flint’s (see sidebar for a link to his excellent site) place. It’s a bit lazy, I’ll admit but today’s allotted blog time was spent mostly in catching up with my ever-growing number of blog reads (most, but not all of whom are also on the sidebar – will fix that soon) and trying to locate an old Hilda Boswell book for the girls on Alibris. That, and I’m a distracted, lazy moo at a low ebb.

If I could link to the post that begat this without WordPress underlining my whole site, I would, but apparantly I’m too stupid. As ever though, see my sidebar for the link there. Latigo told a tale of a lonesome Starbucks patron who was “simulating the entire upcoming professional football season with these team pencils and a quarter.”

I considered this irresponsible for the following reason:

– So read now then gentles, the most poorly punctuated and magnificently indifferent run-on sentence you are likely to read today unless you go to CNN.com –

One man flipping a pencil in an LA Starbucks might well effectuate a series of tiny air gusts that could eventually tip the balance of probabilities and provide just enough puff to cause a ball to sail over a bar somewhere in Denver field while the crowd goes wild and a daddy, let’s call him Olaf, forgets to pick up the children in his glee and the victorious camaraderie all around him, and the two children instead are picked up by a pervert, lets call him Edward and one child being so sensitive to the horrors of this world will lose his mind in the car on their way to the pervert’s house because of two or three strong black hairs he can see curling from the pervert’s nose which repels him such that he cannot breathe and so doesn’t and dies, and his sister in her rage and grief stabs the pervert with a unicorn from Target and goes on to lead a succesful yet haunted life in, spookily, the pencil business; the pervert with the sticky, drippy unicorn in his neck turning out to be the children’s real father after all, sent by their mother to collect them so they could escape the arsehole tyrant Olaf and go to live in Vermont where the schools are better and the light has a strange quality; the same man and Edward who, in a sickeningly ironic twist, was the top man in unicorns at Mattel and a person of gentleness and pleasant manners and not a pervert at all, apart from the unicorn thing.

Who can say?

It’s called the Pencil Effect* and little understood, save for the tragedy it almost always causes. It’s why I use pens.

(*This is an utterly real, actual Effect, mind you, similar to it’s more famous Butterfly cousin but no less portentious and awesome. And awful. It’s in books and everything.)

Secret Life

Leaping from tall building to tall building to short one and then “Ouchee!” a church spire, Our Heroine looks down and locates the right window. With a double-back flip-floppy bound, triple toe-axle and shimmy, she flies through the glass, landing with ease beside a stove on which a pot is gently simmering. She plies in ballet position 4.

“Where is it?” she asks, easily the most well-groomed and self-possessed in the small kitchen, despite her unconventional journey.

A young, harrassed-looking woman points mutely at a bowl of batter. On her hip is a child, maybe 3 or 4, eyes wide with amazement at the turn the evening has taken.

In a single, fluid, panther-like motion Our Heroine is at the bowl. Lifting one arm, she examines the lining of her long, dark and extremely well-tailored cloak and appears to mull something over briefly. “Hmm. A titanium-tipped Smith&Oliver 3000, I think. This sucker’s already starting to form lumps.”

With a flash of silver, she pulls out the eggwhisk and turns to her task.

“Close all the doors and windows, and hold on to the child!” she orders, her bluey-greeny-greyee-browny eyes, flashing and alive with a burning, other-worldy intensity.

The lights dim of their own accord, as if aware that their brilliance is not required right now; knowing, some-mysterious-how, that all the energy in the room will soon be concentrated in the batter-bowl.

Our Heroine begins. A low hum fills the room and she lowers the eggwhisk into the batter, wincing as she does so: this part can sometimes get messy real quick and she’s only used the Smith&Oliver once before. At the ambassador’s party, wasn’t it? The macaroons. But there’s no time for such idle thoughts – the lumps are bobbing on the surface now. Blee!

With a mighty plunge she thrusts the eggwhisk into the bowl and the lights dim even further. The hum is getting so loud now that the child and her mother cover their ears. The lights wink out. The hum rises. It’s almost screaming, and a golden light is emanating from the bowl as sparks of green and gold fly onto the laminated counter-top. Tomorrow, only a few singe marks on the linoleum will convince little Lucy that it wasn’t all a dream. Right now, The Mysterious Lady’s arm is just a blur, moving impossibly fast, her face a grim mask of concentration.

The curtains on the window are starting to flap as the whisking continues; the young woman’s patched, worn skirt starts to tug her in towards the bowl. Soon pieces of paper and napkins are whirling in a tornado above the counter. The child, Lucy, reaches up to catch a passing pepper-pot and her mother feels her grip begin to loosen on her daughter. A curtain tears loose and books are flying off the shelves, drawn inexorably, irresistably towards the batter-bowl…

The child screams.

And then there is calm. No sound, save that of old recipe cards twirling softly, eerily to the floor. The lights flicker back on.

Comes a voice, matter-of-fact, yet warm and tinkly: “That’s me, then! Just pop in the frying pan now, with plenty of good butter and a twist of pepper and, Bob’s your uncle, the lightest, fluffiest ommelettes your guests will ever eat this side of the pearly gates. What’s the occasion? Husband having his boss over for dinner?”

“N-n-n-no” stammers the young woman “His mother…awful woman…will be looking for dust and a four-course meal, but we can only afford eggs while Jimmy Jr’s out of work, you see. But, see…she doesn’t know he’s out of work and…it all seemed so hopeless half an hour ago…I can’t even boil an egg, far less make a moist, fluffy and delicious ommelette with one and …Oh!… How can I ever thank you?”

Our Heroine turns and regards the young woman kindly. She looks tired, she thinks.

“Just bring me a fresh towel please and I’ll be on my way. I think I’ve got some batter on my cloak.”

Not half a minute later, the young woman returns to the kitchen with the towel and gasps at the sight before her. For in that time, The Mysterious Lady has somehow, incredibly, set a full, sparkling table with a standing rib-roast steaming softly in the centre, surrounded by tasteful flowers and delectable-looking side-dishes.

“Oh my!”

The doorbell rings and she turns her head, in confusion towards it. When she looks back, The Mysterious Lady, Our Heroine, is gone. The young woman rushes to the window – there is nothing, noone. But, looking up into the darkening sky, she fancies for a moment she sees an extra twinkly star and could it be?… a shower of green sparks…? The doorbell rings again and she moves to answer it.

Moments later, in a dining-room in Ojai, a problemchildbride enters, looking breath-taking in a silk, inky-blue dress.

“Darling! There you are!” says her ProblemHusband. “Our guests are ready for some of your famous Baked Alaska.”

“Why, of course” says the problemchildbride and, spinning smartly on one heel, she glides towards the kitchen. As she leaves the room, noone notices her smoothing a tiny lock of stray hair from her otherwise immaculate bouffant, back into place, eyes twinkling merrily.

“”I think I’ve got some batter on my cloak.”” she says, almost scornfully, to herself. “I NEVER allow foodstuffs to get on my cloak. Still, I couldn’t let that young woman see how it’s done. But…wait… where was the child? Did she see? Oh buggrit! I really don’t want to have to kidnap another one…”

Finis.

The Fall of Juan.

Continued from the previous post (below this one) in which I relate how I am having an affair…

It’s all over with Juan, my aging pool-boy Lothario. By Thursday it was clear that we were growing apart.

“We’re growing apart.” I said to him.

“Yes, ever since Thursday”, he agreed. “Was it my contention that most modern people are leading lives of quiet desperation?”

“No, I don’t believe that was it,” I said. “But your pie-charts and mathematical proofs on the subject were very convincing.”

“So… was it the time I showed you my champion giant-pumpkin medals from State Fairs 1979-1989? I knew I should have brought my 90’s portfolio – global warming really started to boost my poundages in the 90s.”

“No, your pumpkins are remarkable, Juan. And who’d have thought there was so much to learn about squash! No, I think, in the end, the thing that told me we could never be together was that evening under the stars, by the pool – the way you stabbed that passing pigeon with a toasting fork and a savagery in your eyes I have never before encountered. No, not even at fresher’s week in uni.”

“Didn’t you like it then, the pigeon?”

Oh Juan – he was delicious and, before we part forever, I must get the recipe for tha marinade and that 11-bean side-salad from you. But, Juan honey, it was really the bit before that when you held the pigeon’s still-beating heart aloft and cried out to the world that you were robbed of that part in the Crest Whitening Strip advert and that this is what would happen to the next visionless director who didn’t hire you.”

“Too dramatic?” said Juan, now slumped and crestfallen, even in a commercial sense.

“Not at all,” I murmered consolingly; after all, I’m not a hard-hearted housewife. “Dave just doesn’t like pigeon-blood in the swimming pool. He’d much rather see their heads impaled on the four letters of the weather vane as a warning to other pigeons that they perch round Casa Problemo at their peril.”

And so, without recrimination or rancour, we went our separate ways: Juan over the fence to Mrs. Mussolini’s swimming-pool (apparantly her filters are in a shocking state and Juan thinks he’s the man to clear them); I, back to the kitchen to rustle-up 11 more beans for a salad.

The ProblemHusband will miss Juan, I ruminated, as I donned my pinnie and checked my always flawless bouffant. He’s grown to really enjoy their discussions about Mrs. Thatcher. But how will he take to Philippe, the new sous-chef I engaged when it all went pigeon-shaped with Juan?

Philippe is much more Gallic and brooding than Juan and can be very temperamental when making sauces. We have decided to give each other a week’s trial of circling around the kitchen-island tossing our chins up contemptuously and saying “Phthoo! You French/Scotteesh kneuw neusseeng about mekking zee sauces!” If that goes well, we aim to start a torrid affair next week. (A trial period will also give him a chance to become familiar with my herb-cupboard and reduction techniques.)

I only hope that Juan never finds out that it was Philippe who finally got the part he coveted in the Crest Whitening Strips commercial. All service industry Californian males between the ages of 25 and 55 are Actors first and will fling aside their hose/spatula/personal-trainee at the first call of Hollywood, even if Hollywood got the wrong number.

They’re a hardy breed though, these seekers-of-fame, and are to be admired. They look upon repeated soul-crushing rejection and disappointment as an emotion they can use in their next walk-on part in The OC. Look carefully and you will see the background gas-station attendants and Dogwalker #s 2 and 3 in such shows, swooning and weeping all over the place. You have to love that. When life hands them lemons they make margaritas. (Although, it has to be said of some of these budding actors, when life hands them swine they will sometimes make ham.)

Uncertain Times For The Problem Pigeons

(Added Monday: Problem-Child-Bride is going out of town for a few days. Back next week. Toodle-pip old chaps!)

Trouble’s a-brewin’ in the Problem Household. Or rather in the Problem Garden. Or to be even more precise, under the eaves of our Problem Shed, where a family of pigeons is now nesting its second clutch of eggs of the season. Pigeon poo everywhere.

Talks are breaking down between the Problem Husband, who is hawkish on the pigeons, and me. I’m, generally speaking, more doveish on pigeons: a period of watchful waiting is what’s needed and besides, the odds are they will move on soon without any ugly interspecies strife having to occur. Why not use this opportunity to show the pigeons we can be tolerant, live and let live etc? That might just lead to its own rewards as the word spreads in the pigeon community – a fierce and proud nation – and we might start to find our car happily unpooped upon even though all the other cars in the lot are festooned with paint-corroding messages of displeasure.

“Appeasement!” cries the Problem Husband to this. “Remember Chamberlain! What a wally he turned out to be.”

“But remember too how prudence and caution served Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.” I counter. “We cannot engage in brinksbirdship with these pigeons – the results could be devastating. We’ve seen the inches of guano just one pigeon family can produce. Think what we’d face in the event of a showdown! There are millions of them and only 4 of us and we, as a civilized people, are bound by the Picadilly Conventions” (Like the Geneva ones only with pigeons instead of prisoners).

“Harrumph!” offers the Problem Husband.

And thus have The Talks gone for the past few months, ever since Mr. and Mrs. Peck and Family moved in.

This evening, however, was a bit different. There was an emergency summit of the Group of 2 Industrious Parents as the Problem Husband had just met with an extra frustrating Sudoku and had earlier been forced to cheat at several succesive games of Solitaire. Seeking a distraction from his disappointments, he did as many troubled governments will do and deflected attention to the problem of our “undocumented immigrants”, or pigeons as the rest of us know them.

Some fancy diplomatic footwork was needed to de-escalate the rhetoric which had become preoccupied with words like “exterminator”, “water-hose” and “death, death, DEATH to the varmint!” Again, I counselled patience but I think this line of argument is losing its appeal to the PH as the bats are back now too working on their own separate poo-heap, and Mr.& Mrs. Peck have started on brood #2. But I believe the Pecks took this decision according to largely evolutionary imperatives and not, as the PH suggests, ” just to piss me off” or because they’re “looking for free housing and welfare checks from bleeding heart liberals like you.”

I could see at this point that the only way to pour oil on PH’s troubled waters was to feed him. So I made him some popcorn and soon he was snuffling contentedly again, amongst the Sunday papers. The hawk has been temporarily de-taloned, but I fear that soon it will take more than reason and heart-healthy snacks to soothe the beast that squawks for pigeon-blood within my husband’s heart.

I am ready to throw it open to the United Blogly Nations for arbitration. How have others dealt with guests who have over-stayed their welcome and showed poor bathroom etiquette?

Monday Morning, My Bad.

“Today we will be grumpy!” my children all but declared this morning, at breakfast.

Wearily, I picked up the flung raisin, and advised them that big girls don’t argue with their sisters; another lie from “Utter Lies We Tell Our Children” (22nd edition) Random Mouse Publishing. I’m working my way steadily, religiously, through that.

In the past two weeks they have gone from delightful, charming little girls to the wrong sort of Gremlins. I blame myself, of course. What have I done? Why are they being so monstrously naughty? Amn’t I spending enough time with them? Nope, it’s not that. Am I being tetchy? Are they getting it from me?

That is the answer, much as I would like it not to be. Every time I get back from Britain I feel homesick for a good two or three weeks, before settling back into my life here, (a life I usually like well). Enough to make me testy and preoccupied. The girls have picked up on this and are acting accordingly. They don’t know how else to act when their mother is out-of-sorts. They have all the emotional restraint of mere 4-year olds. As they are 4, this is age-appropriate and doesn’t worry me as much as I sometimes worry about their father.

I have learnt that every parental mistake takes roughly three times the amount of time to rectify as it did to make. By my lightening fast mental calculations that gives me about 6-7 weeks of weebairnitis (or “inflammation of the children”).

Regular readers of Problemchildbride will know that I am an enormously effective and excellent parent and that the sparkle on my faucets is second to none. I have therefore, naturally – and without the usual hand – wringing in which a lesser parent might engage – taken the most appropriate action for these circumstances.

The trick is to distract them from their original mood and behaviour in a way that allows them to channel their feelings in a positive way. So I have set them to play with power tools, and a log in the garden. They can express their rage through wood-carving and we get a piece of charming primitive art. Everybody wins!

There have been a few alarming moments as they stagger around under the weight of the chainsaws, but I think now they have an appreciation of how to do “Play Nicely, Or The Consequences Will Be Unspeakable.”

Another job well done, I think. I’m really smashing at this mummy thing, although I say it myself.

*
UPDATE: A mere half hour after this was tapped, and the Problem Children are now being almost nauseatingly nice to each other! Following an inspiring and instructive speech from me, calling to mind the best of Socratic thought, Hobbesian doom and threats of being arrested by the police, the girls are now cooing gently to each other, things like, “You can have my mud-pie because you are my sister and I like you” and “I’m sorry” and “no I’M sorry.”

I think I liked things better when they were fighting. I’m not sure I haven’t made a terrible mistake somewhere.

Birds Of A Feather, Or The Notable Trial of Horace Smythe-Smithers (Bachelor Hawk of This Parish)

The Preamble:

Today’s post was prompted by my reading this article, this morning, about the cunning way killer-whales have learnt to lure seagulls to their deaths. (http://www.livescience.com/animalworld/060202_whale_traps.html) Apparantly, one innovative Orca in Ontario (Canadian Marineland) has take to spitting fish up to the surface of the sea to attract seagulls to come and feast on them. Then the waiting orca will lunge at the seagull and gobble it up. His brother watched him doing this a few times and started to set his own seagull traps. Then their mum joined in.

The point of the article was to illustrate science’s new understanding that immitation and learning are part of many species’ behaviour repertoire, as opposed to the previously widely-held belief that they operate on instinct alone. That’s interesting in itself, but I was mostly just delighted to hear that the seagulls, those filthy, pooey rats of the sky, were getting some of their own bad karma back, finally.

In Lewis, which is the Scottish island I come from, it’s all about the seagulls. People cower as their shadows cross them, afeared of the 50% chance they have of getting evacuated on, and oh, look! They just did:

“Jolly good aim, Bombardier Whitestreak, hehehe , right down the back of her biannac!”

“It was a pleasure, sir. Here comes another one and she’s got an ice-cream cone, I’ll aim for that.”

Seagulls peck out the eyes of new-born lambs, will pinch the chips right out of your poke and eat drunken-people’s vomit for Sunday breakfast. Seagulls are vicious. We have lived under their collective despotism for too long now. As far as I’m concerned, becoming whale lunch is too good for ’em, rhubarb, rhubarb, etc. … fade to uncharitable muttering. Hooray for the Orcas!

The Story

The Story Preamble – Look, I’m getting to it, honest.

We have a good view of the valley behind our house from out of the upstairs windows. Sometimes, my girls and I sometimes watch this one red-tailed hawk and a crow from there. The hawk appears to be doing nothing more than enjoying a stretching of the wings when the crow starts to dive-bomb it, apparantly trying to knock it out of the air. These air-assaults are frequent and can often last for 20 minutes, or more.

The Real Story

One day, we received a note by pigeon that we were to appear as witnesses in a case coming before the Avian Sky Traffic Court. Surprised, but not a little interested, I told the pigeon our presence was assured.

The following week, I dressed the girls in their Sunday best, donned a pair of rather fine kid gloves and a black feather boa, and we made our way to the Court, which was located in a disused barn down by Lake Casitas. 15 minutes later we returned to the house to deposit the feather boa, which, upon reflection, I thought might be insensitive, given the occasion so, by the time we arrived, the court was in full swing and the case of The Birds versus Colonel Horace Smythe-Smithers (Red-tailed bachelor hawk of this parish of Ojai) had already been called. An officious little court-sparrow flapped us to our assigned aisle and we took our seats.

In the dock, a large, russet and rather middle-aged looking hawk had just finished taking the oath. I say middle-aged because he wore a monocle, and a beige cardigan. It was clear he was single too because his collar feathers were a bit rumpled, and he had egg down his front (a clue; more of which later).

An imposing turkey vulture,(http://www.northislandwildliferecoverycenter.org/Turkey%20Vulture%202.JPG), whose name the court circular revealed to be Judge Wattles, peered from behind a pair of round, wire spectacles and intoned,

“In your own words, please tell the court what happened on the morning of March 25th 200000000006” (birds use a different dating system called The Contravian Calender).

“Well there I was, just nobly trying to have a bit of a majestic fly, Your Honour, soaring regally on the thermals and such, and doing a bit of on-the-spot PR work for the species as there was a pale woman and her two small girls watching with some binoculars. I see them in the court today, your honour”. He indicated us.

(Note: red-tailed hawks around here will pretend to have received pronunciation, but after a few up at ‘The Aerie and Budgie’ (licensed public nest) apparantly, they fall right back into an Essex accent).

He continued, “When out of the blue this dashed crow started dive-bombing me. Let me tell you, it’s jolly difficult to scan the ground with an impressive piercing gaze when you’ve got the likes of Harry Crowsfeet (jerks wing towards crow) attacking you for no reason other than idle hooliganism.”

Oi! That’s bang outta ordah, m’lud” cried Harry.

“It’s speciesist tha’ is, or my old mum,- Gawd rest ‘er soul – was a Siamese sparrah. Us crows can’t ‘elp our crows-feet and do the best as we can with retinol creams and Oil of Olay. Besides, the Council on Bird Relations says we oughta embrace ’em as signs of our natural good ‘umour an’ that. That poker-arsed ole fing in the dock never ‘ad a larf in ‘is life. ‘E’s got his mangy ole flight fevvers up his bum ‘e does!”

“Well really, I must protest!” protested Colonel Smythe-Smithers,

“If we’re going to get personal, may I point out that humans consider the crows to be one of the lower classes of bird entirely, on account of their being scavengers, and Mr. Crowsfeet here is clearly the type who possesses precisely that kind of sleazy low-cunning his species are infamous for. His sort drag us all down. The bird can’t even talk properly. Bring back National Service I say! Get them polishing their own beaks and eating simple seeds, milletery-style. That’ll put the backbone back into this once great valley. They do it over in Santa Barbara”.

A couple of well-groomed owls and a dapper road-runner at the back of the court, har-harumphed their agreement to this outburst.

That’s enough! Order in court! If you two gentlebirds can not conduct yourselves civily I shall hold you both in contempt. And, if you’d read todays issue of “The Daily Peregrinations”, you would know, Colonel Smythe-Smithers, that a crow has just won the world chess championship. And scavenging” (long peer over his spectacles) “is an important ecological niche-lifestyle. Why, I’m a scavenger myself, or had you forgotten? Anything else you’d like to add? No? I rather thought not.

Turning to Harry, Judge Wattles continued. “But you will allow, will you not, that Mr. Harold Crowsfeet is indeed your legal name?”

“Oh, yes, m’lud, it is, but I’m not ‘aving the snooty ‘awk casting h-aspersions as to my sterling character. We all know wot ‘e meant by bringing up crows-feet. Next it’ll be the colour of my fevvers and wever or not I says ‘couch’ or ‘sofa’. It’s a bloomin’ class war, an’ I’m not afraid to say it. And besides I was provoked” said Harry.

As the volume of the spectators rose I could hear some pigeons in the court saying “Coo, he’s right you know!”,

And “What did he mean ‘provoked?’

And ‘Oo doos that blimmin’ hawk think he is his? Everyone knows, he’s right off a council nesting project in Minnow End. His parents weren’t Smythe and Smithers at all! They was Myrtle Smiff and Reggie Smiff. Cousins, apparantly. ‘Course you can tell: ‘e’s got no chin to speak of and have you counted his talons? ”

Being one of the only species present with any kind of an identifiable chin-area at all, I thought this last was going a feather too far. But they were talking in pidgin English, so I wasn’t sure I caught everything correctly.

The cooing and head-bobbing at the back became more enthusiastic as the assembled birdage started to identify who they were rooting for in the case. Feathers were clearly being ruffled.

“Silence!” roared Judge Wattles, his own shiny red ones wobbling magnificently.

“The court will come to ohrdahr!”

It did. Nobody wanted to see those wattles wobble more than they had to.

“Now, what do you have to say about Mr. Crowsfeet’s charge that you did, on the 25th day of March, in the year 200000000006, and in direct contravention of the very clear rules set out in “When Is It OK to Eat Another Species?”, enter his rookery and pinch an egg which you took to your own nest and then proceeded to boil and did consume with toast soldiers?”.

There was a collective gasp, as the court heard the words “boil” and “toast soldiers”.

“Scurrilous boiler!” Yelled an aged crow, from the back.

“I don’t deny it!” declared Colonel Smythe-Smithers flushing furiously under his plumage.

“These crows are a boil that needs to be lanced, and I didn’t have a lance so I just went ahead with the boiling. They’re a scourge on our culture and society. Everyone knows it but I’m the only one with the guts to say it. I love guts, and I catch ’em myself, fresh. I don’t have to eat somebirdy else’s leavings off the road! With respect to Your Honour.

But it’s about more than just scavenging. It’s about breeding and what these lower classes of birds are doing to Ojai. Nobody reads the ‘Ojai Valley News’ or the ‘Peregrine’ any more. Nonononono! More and more birds are reading “Squawk!” and looking at tarty chicks lewdly parting their breast-fevvers, I mean feathers, on page 3 of the ‘National Cheep’. More like ‘National Cheap’, I say! And what’s it doing to the fledgings, eh? Who’s looking out for the yoof … I mean, youth? I’m glad I et (sic) the bloody egg, so I am. It’s one less of’em, innit?”

As the Colonel grew more agitated, the latent accent of his chick-hood started to reveal itself. The court, formerly raucous and energized, was hushed now, staring at the quivering, blood-shot-eyed hawk. One of the owls who had supported him earlier, shifted uncomfortably and the road-runner shook his head gently, eyes on the floor.

“I don’t think we need hear any further witnesses” said Judge Wattles, breaking the silence.

“I think I have all the facts I need to make my judgement. The court shall proceed directly to sentencing, but first I want to say a few words to the court at large.”

Then, the old judge, squinting as he removed his glasses, stood, leaning on a large burnished oak-twig topped with a brass knob in the likeness of a turkey-vulture, resplendently scavenging at a rabbit. The sun, glancing through a crack in the slanted barn roof, caught the brass buzzard’s bald pate, and danced on the rabbit’s spilled brass innards, momentarily blinding me. Dazzled and hot in the stuffy courtroom, everything seemed suddenly ultra-real to me. Dust sparkled in the sun-beams, probing their way into the court, and the unmistakable smell of pigeon guano filled my nostrils. I felt privy to an important moment in Ojai valley bird-lore.

Judge Wattles began (and I’ve itallicised it ‘cos it’s historical, like, and destined to becoame one of the Great Wattle Speeches),

“We birds are an ancient and great wing of evolution. We descended from the dinosaurs and at one time or another have inhabited every rocky cliff-shelf, every imaginable kind of tropical tree, every hedgerow and the eaves of every non-spiked public building. We regularly sit atop the statues men raise to their ‘great’ ones and often poo on them too, just to show we can.

We birds have no need to be eating toast, or reading tabloids. We need not submit to human ideas about our relative worth, one to the other. I once knew a Golden Yodelling Finch (finchus ullulus) of the South Sea islands. Last of her species, she was. Beautiful but dumb as a chip. She met her end gruesomely, flying into a human lady’s mirror after admiring the beautiful bird she saw in there. It’s birds like her that human’s invented their detested phrase “bird-brained” for. Let’s not give them any more ammunition, my friends. Let’s stop trying to imitate their ideas and ways. Lets join wings and unite in one harmonious bird-song that will ring across the earth and lets finally, truly, become birds of a feather and flock together!”

A great roar rose from all the birds in the barn. Squawkings, and cheepings and chirpings and chaffings – more cacophonous than harmonious to be honest, but still, a splendant moment. Jolted from my wondering reverie by an off-key chicken beside me who couldn’t hold a note for toffee, I realized that the girls and I were witnessing a private bird moment and there was no place for we humans there, any more. Rising to go, we began to sidle out of the barn, trying to slip away unnoticed.

“You! Pale woman!” We turned to face Judge Wattles and silence fell once more.

“Today, in this court-room, you have seen the damage your kind have done to ours. We wished you no harm, but you DDTed us. We want to live happily, side-by-side with you, yet you breed us in huge sheds and eat some kinds of us. Your Alfred Hitchcock produced an outrageous piece of propoganda against us, and you quit feeding us your sandwich crumbs in Trafalgar Square. Go! Go now and tell the world, via your internet thingy, what you have seen. Carry this message with you. Don’t poo on us, mankind, and we won’t poo on you!”

“OK, will do.” I said.

“Mummy, I need a poo”, said Child-Of-Mine #1

“I need a piddle” added Child-Of-Mine #2 (#s indicate exit order from the womb – there are no ‘favourites’ here)

The words “Don’t poo on us, mankind, and we won’t poo on you!” still ringing in my ears, I blanched and froze, hoping none of the feather-muffled ears had picked up my children’s reedy pipings. But of course they had.

“Tush and nonsense, pale lady, what are they holding it in for?” asked the judge. “Let them poo freely, over there in the dust. It’s the bird way. I myself have had several poos right here this morning, at my bench. Mrs. Wattles has been giving me extra fibre with my breakfast. There’s no shame in pooing, amongst the feathered folk”.

“B…b…but you said not to poo” I stammered, unsure of how birds performed executions.

“I was talking figuratively, my dear. Goodness, don’t they teach you anything at these ‘schools’ of yours?”

There was some unpleasant snickering from the chickens, who were also taking advantage of the moment to give us some quite nippy pecks.

“Just have your children drop their drawers and ‘go’. There’ll be a seagull along to clear it up, in a minute.”

*

Later, at home, I looked at the pecked and tattered copy of “When Is It OK To Eat Another Species” that Childofmine # 2 had nicked from a hen in the courthouse. I learned that, a bird may only eat another bird under the following circumstances, and I quote:

1) Other nourishment is not available

2) No eggs must ever be eaten, ever, under any circumstances. Ever!

3) The above two conditions are mooted if either David Attenborough or a wildlife television crew are watching you. Then you must confuse them with baffling behaviours. If they can’t understand us, they can’t destroy us, because of their peculiar (but we’re not complaining, mind) idea of wanting to preserve us. They think we’re neat.

Ant

I was having a bit of a sit down this morning. I was still in my pyjamas and was greeting the dawn in my usual way of muttering “Top of the dawn to you, Lord Morning, you cheerful git. You could have phoned to say you were coming early, and don’t pull that ‘lengthening days of Spring’ crap on me because I’m not in the mood for it, now I’ve been reminded we lose an hour of sleep/productive insomnia this weekend on account of it.”

So me and The Dawn were just chatting with him mostly saying “tweet” and “sparkle” and “promise of a whole new day” type stuff and me being a sleepy ingrate, when I saw an ant weaving a complicated path across my foot. I watched it for a bit as it went round my ankle a few times, as if searching for a lost pair of spectacles or something and, gradually, it dawned on me that I couldn’t feel a thing.

I panicked immediately, of course. What was wrong with the nerves in my leg? With all that scampering about, the ant must be traversing at least a few nerve endings. Why couldn’t I feel him and them? Was he an unusual kind of goat-like mountain ant with deft and remarkable footwork which allowed him to place his 6 tiny feet exactly where my nerves wouldn’t detect him and cause me to brush him off. No, stupid girl. They don’t exist. There can be no other explanation other than I have woken up with some horrible disease which is attacking the nerves in my legs and causing them to be numb. This was clearly the case, but I am a very scientifically minded problem-child-bride and so I very carefully moved my hand down in a footwards direction to test my numb-leg theory. I felt it, the troublesome ant was banished to the carpet and all was fine again.

The world is divided many ways, obviously, but one of them seems to be between those that think nothing will bad happen to them and those that just assume something bad will. I am one of the latter and don’t consider myself to have any special immunity against anything really, except maybe wild literary success and mass adulation for getting us all ‘to somehow get along’ using only two metaphors, an eggwhisk and the ability to change two pooey nappies at one time, one hand each. At this point the nappy thing is one of my few remaining marketable skills, having been out of the workplace now for these several years with the girls.

Normally my hypochondria is reserved for my children but human mortality looked us all in the eye last night at quiz night, when we learned that, of the 8 of us, three close friends’ of friends, one under 60, one under 50 and one under 40 had all died in the last week. Makes you think a bit, that does.

None of us really needs bad news to ponder on death and mortality but, all the same, after the fleet-footed wee ant this morning, and my over-reaction to him, I vowed to be a little kinder to Lord Morning when he comes a-calling, ‘cos I’m lucky he does an’ stuff, and I pledged only to call him a git from time to time. Although these bloody cheepy birds are just asking for a ten gauge shot-gun on some of these dawns.

The Button That Turned

Success! Of a sort.

I got my technorati button installed finally but, as you can see, it too is thumbing its button-nose at me and has aligned up with Button Scotblog, in such a way that clearly tells me “We won’t conform to your sidebar rules. We won’t play your game! “The Rules” (pah!) are being re-written and a button revolution has started . Soon you will know the confusion and despair you thought only existed in your nightmares . Buttons of this blog, unite!”

So, there they sit and here I sit and we’re growling at each other. I think I fear them more than they fear me, but I can’t let them know it. I have to win the psychological battle. Only then will I stand a chance.

I’m thinking of lurking around the high school to try and find some cheap, uber-teckie labor, but there may be laws against this sort of thing. It could very well end in the headline “Wild-Haired Housewife In Schoolboy Stalking Shame: Husband Dismayed But Not Surprised.” Or something involving plastic-only utensils and smocks that flap open at the back.