Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

We went on a little vacation over the long Independence Day weekend. And my in-laws are in town. And I’ve been dealing with Assorted Birthday Stuff. So the days kind of melt into one another and I am not really sure where I am or what I’m supposed to be doing. I think, it being Tuesday, I should be setting up a Dinners This Week post. But I haven’t even planned my meals this week, yet. (We are going out to dinner tonight, so I can delay that chore another day.) Plus, I have other things on my mind.

Did I tell you that we have new neighbors?

Deer 1

These are the Cute Neighbors.

Deer 2

They are very cute indeed. They do lots of frolicking. And they seem to see in Carla a kindred spirit because whenever she is in the living room, looking out at them from the sliding glass doors, they take great interest in her and often come up quite close to the glass.

Many new neighbors.


Still very cute, but more worrisome. Especially because she has at least THREE babies in her condo under that step. Yes. The step that is directly adjacent to our living room.

Unrelated — surprisingly — to skunks: today, I am also preoccupied with The Smell. My husband woke me up with a loving kiss, as he does every morning, and, instead of saying, “Good morning, my darling,” he whispered, “I think I smell something bad.” Just the kind of affectionate phrasing I most enjoy in the wee hours, let me tell you.

I couldn’t smell it; couldn’t smell anything, really, because my nose has been, of late, CLOGGED TO THE MAX. I’m pretty sure I have a sinus infection; my forehead is tender, as are the circles under my eyes; my head is in a constant state of achey-ness; my nose, as mentioned just a second ago, is thick with YUCK.

But Carla leaped out of bed – she wakes up the instant anyone else is awake, unless she wakes up first; in summers, she has been “sleeping in” until six thirty or so, which is lovely – and chimed in from her room, “I think I smell it!”

I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion, but I thought – after copious nose-blowing – that maybe I, too, could smell the underpinnings of something foul.

My husband and I tossed around the idea that maybe it was the aftereffects of some roasted broccoli we had last night. Broccoli, delicious as it is, has a bad habit of releasing a pungent fart perfume that lingers in its absence. Carla wondered if the flowers we have in vases throughout our downstairs might be causing the stink, but they all look relatively fresh and the vase water is clear, and passed The Sniff Test, so…

So I did what anyone might do when confronted with Something Smelly: I cleared out all the garbage cans, sprayed the insides of the cans with bleach, cleaned the toilets for good measure, ran a load of laundry (although none of the laundry baskets had a noticeable smell), ran the garbage disposal, wiped down the counters. I questioned Carla closely about whether she’s taken any food upstairs (this is verboten in our house, and I don’t know that she’s ever done it before… but you never know). (She looked at me with wide-eyed shock that I would even ASK her such a thing. Dost she protest too much? Hmmmm….) (I smelled each corner of her room carefully, but we have already established that we cannot trust my nose.) Then I took Carla to camp and went for my usual four-mile walk.

The Smell greeted me when I returned.


It’s steamy outside, but I have dutifully opened all the windows and doors, in hopes of coaxing The Smell to leave. I dumped baking soda in each of the kitchen sink drains, filled one side of the sink with a mixture of hot water and vinegar, and ran the disposal as I let it drain; that’s the best way I know to really CLEAN the disposal. I’ve refreshed the flower water, just in case that’s the culprit. I am running the dishwasher, in case I didn’t rinse last night’s dishes thoroughly enough. I’m not really sure what to do next. Toss the week-old Gerber daisies, I suppose. They still look fine, but maybe they’re not.

Now I need to shower, because I don’t want to add my own Eau de Post-Workout to the scents inside the house.

The abiding worry, of course, is that some animal has crawled in between our walls and died there, memorializing its life in a legacy of odor. I wouldn’t even know where to BEGIN dealing with that, should that be the case. But let’s try everything else, first.

What else have I overlooked? What are the likely stink culprits in your home, when you’ve eliminated “trash smell” and “bathroom smells” from the list?


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Look what we found in our yard yesterday!

Three deer

Don’t water them; they proliferate.

We have an over-abundance of suburban deer in our neighborhood. They roam the yards, eating trees and plants. Yes, they are very picturesque. And I know and understand that we humans are trespassing on THEIR land, and not the other way around. But even knowing this, and even feeling guilty/sad for the deer and their lack of forest/meadow land, I find them irritating. They eat our trees down to the bark. They eat any vegetables I dare to plant. They poop all over our yard.

My husband has taken it upon himself to chase them away whenever they take up residence in our yard. He went out to this trio last night, waving his arms, and they COMPLETELY ignored him. He must have gotten within five feet of them and they didn’t care. So he turned the hose on them. They all stood up, but that was the extent of their botherment. And rather than shooing them away, he sort of ended up watering them instead.


We recently spent a few days at the house of some friends. We had a wonderful time. The kids all played splendidly together, with maybe one or two small sharing issues and nothing at all beyond that. The grown ups had a delightful time, chatting and catching up and generally ignoring the kids, who were completely occupied by each other.

Our friends cooked several meals for us, which was so lovely. They are excellent cooks and they put in the kind of attention to detail that makes you (me) kind of well up with love and appreciation. For instance, they made this delicious baked brie with a completely decadent topping of honey and nuts and raisins and sultanas. And my friend made these little heart cutouts in pastry dough and put them on top of the baked brie before she baked it. It was so sweet and so lovely. I wish we lived nearer to them.

Spending time with another family in their house, you get a good sense of how differently families can run. First of all, I love that little glimpse at other people’s lives, just on a voyeuristic level. I am fascinated by how Other People Do Things. Secondly, you can get some good ideas for how you can do things better/differently. For instance, they spend almost the entire weekend outside. Instead of using that time to run errands and loaf around the house doing laundry, they go to the petting zoo and then they go hiking and then they go to the beach and then they find a parade to watch and then they go to the farmer’s market. While that is, to me, Super Expert Level Activity, I really like the idea of doing it on maybe a Beginner’s Level. I can do errands during the week and then we can all go out and have fun over the weekend. (My husband and I were better about doing that when Carla was younger, because she needed physical activity or she was bouncing off the walls. She’s more mellow these days.)

But the other thing that’s interesting is seeing what kind of household rules another family has. And, while interesting, there’s also some potential for conflict, when you are trying to reinforce family rules that might be different from your friends’.

Can we stipulate that there are all sort of things that a particular family might find important or not important? And that every family is different, and values different things? And that just because I value one thing doesn’t mean that I am secretly judging you for not prioritizing that same thing?

In general, I feel that if you are a guest at someone’s house, you follow their rules. Like… if there’s a house rule that you take your shoes off at the door, you do that, even if you think it’s ridiculous. If there’s no eating food in the living room, you don’t eat food in the living room. Right?

And that’s all well and good… but what if the other family has a VOID where your own rules are?

Here’s an example. At our house, one of the family rules is that you stay at the table until everyone is finished. But when we were at our friends’ house this weekend, they let their kids sort of wander off whenever they felt like it. So… what am I, as a parent, supposed to do? Because we’re at someone else’s house, we operate under their family rules… even if the rules go directly against what we do in our own family?

We also have a rule that you don’t start eating until the whole family is sitting at the table. So when Carla grabbed a piece of bacon off the tray and started eating it while my friends were still cooking breakfast and while my husband and I were still setting the table, I scolded her. And she was outraged, because, she pointed out, my friends’ daughter had ALSO taken a piece of bacon from the tray! She was just following her friend’s lead! And my friends (the parents) just shrugged. Oh well, they said. They’re kids. They’re hungry. We shouldn’t have put a tempting tray of bacon on the table like that. (At that point, I felt like an asshole. Like I was one-step-removed chastising their kid, and also them, for not having the same rule.)

There was a LOT of this kind of thing, over the weekend. Where Carla would do a thing that I would normally not let her get away with. Climbing on the furniture, for instance. Or eating candy at breakfast time. Or not holding a grown up’s hand in the parking lot. But when I pointed out to her that she was breaking a rule, she would get all incredulous, because she was just doing what our friends’ kids were doing!

I don’t know what to DO in that kind of situation. Part of me wants to shrug and say something like, “When in Rome.” Or, “We are on vacation, so we can relax the rules a little.” But another part of me shrieks, “Consistency!” and then I get probably a little bit self-righteous, alongside my confusion. I’m not teaching Carla anything earth-shattering.  But these are things I want Carla to learn, and want her to do even when she’s at another family’s house. Even when other kids are doing the opposite. (Right? That’s why we teach our kids things! So that when they grow up or are away from us, they still behave in the way we deem best.) And I also want her to understand that she needs to be responsible for her own behavior, even if other kids are behaving differently. At some point, it starts feeling Big and Important and Critical. Like, if I don’t crack down now on her saying “Well, I’m going to eat candy because Pearl is eating candy!” that in ten years she’ll be saying, “Well, I’m going to try cocaine because Pearl is trying cocaine!” and “Well, Isla thinks it’s okay to send nude photos to her boyfriend, so I’m doing it too!” and “You weren’t there to tell me not to rob this bank, but Emmett was robbing it, so I did it too!” and then her life is ruined.

Maybe what needs to happen is a Pre-Visit Conversation, where I anticipate this kind of thing. And I sit Carla down and remind her that families are different, and have different rules and values, and that we mustn’t forget to abide by the rules that are important to our own family.

But even that feels… sticky. Because some rules are just naturally not as important as others. For instance, if the other family DOES wear shoes in the house, I am fine with Carla wearing shoes in their house. Even though we have a “no shoes in the house” policy. In that case, I’m fine with going with the other family’s way of doing things. Same with… watching TV at meal times. Or eating in the living room. Or whatever.

Why do those feel different to me than the “sitting at the table until everyone is done” policy? Hmm. I suppose there are many categories of rules, and some are important and immoveable while others are more flexible.

Let’s see. The “holding hands in the parking lot” thing is a safety issue, so that’s easy enough to categorize: Don’t put yourself or others in danger. Well, it’s easy for me to categorize, although it may be much more confusing to a five-year-old.

The “don’t eat until everyone is at the table” thing seems to me a matter of manners. So maybe that’s another category: make sure you still maintain your manners at someone else’s house. Say please and thank you, even if the other kids don’t. Pick up after yourself, even if the other kids don’t. Stay at the table until everyone is done, even if the other kids don’t (well, unless the parent says specifically that you can be dismissed). And it goes the other way, too — if the other family has manners-specific rules that you don’t have, you should adhere to them too. I had an elementary school friend whose family rule was that you eat every thing on your plate at meal times, which seems like a manners issue to me. And so in cases where “manners” are involved, you defer to the “good manners” option. I’m describing this in such a clunky way. I think what I mean is, it would be considered impolite to the other family, if you didn’t clear your plate. So in that case, you do the polite thing and clear your plate, even though there’s no “clear your plate” rule in your own family. (Man, that was the WORST rule for me. You may recall that I am super picky eater. It made me never want to eat at my friend’s house.) This is probably an Intermediate Level type of rule following, because it requires the ability to infer the other family’s reaction to following or not following the rules. I mean, if you go to someone’s house and they all say grace before dinner, but that’s not part of your own belief system… I don’t think you should have to say grace out of fear that the other family will find you rude. (You do have to be still and quiet and respectful during grace, like, not grabbing a handful of bacon while grace is being said.) But that’s something that you might not know/think about when you’re ONLY FIVE. I know, I am getting way ahead of myself on some of these things. And also this whole paragraph is confusing me even though it came from MY brain and I’M writing it so I’m going to move on.

Can I say how HARD it is to talk about this, without sounding/feeling judgmental? I know we made all sorts of stipulations at the beginning of this post, but maybe you, like I, have forgotten that. Or maybe you are, like I am, feeling a little uncomfortable about spelling out all these things that other people may or may not do. I am feeling a little panicky that you might be thinking, “Oh no! I never make my kids wait until everyone is done eating before they leave the table!” and worrying that that disqualifies you from Friend Consideration. No! No no no! I cannot express how much I DO NOT CARE if your children are required to stay at the table until the meal is over. They are kids. Let them go play while the grown ups linger over wine and second helpings of zucchini. It’s not a big deal. You would think that, because it is a rule in my own home, I would have strong feelings about it. But I do not. I think we made it a rule to help encourage Carla to develop the skill of sitting and doing something she finds boring. It’s a skill that will help her in many situations, from the classroom to the line at the bank, and I think her pediatrician or a teacher recommended it some years ago, and so it has become part of the family custom.

Similarly, we have the “no shoes in the house” rule, but that’s almost purely because I do not like to wear shoes or socks and I hate the feeling of grit on my feet that comes from people wearing their shoes in the house. If you like wearing shoes in YOUR house, great! My parents wear shoes in their house, and it works for them, and I wear shoes when I visit them and all is well.

And I know I made a big deal, earlier, that “holding hands in the parking lot” is a rule that falls into the “Things That Are Dangerous” category. And so I must be thinking that you care nothing of your child’s safety if you don’t hold her hands. No! Of course not! Some of my friends have children who walk calmly and slowly next to them at all times. Some of my friends have children who are extremely cautious and point out a car coming several blocks away. My particular brand of child is able to spot a roly-poly on a leaf fifty yards away but will not see a car barreling toward her down an otherwise empty street. I also have the brand of child who is prone to dashing and leaping and twirling, with no consideration for her surroundings or the presence of motor vehicles. So for HER, the holding hands thing is really important.

On the other side of the fence, I do NOT have a rule that you have to try every food that the host provides. Or even that you have to try every food on your plate. But if YOU have those rules, I get it! Those are GOOD rules! I see their value! If I could persuade Carla to try a single bite of every food without a Drawn-Out Epic Battle of Wills, I totally would institute that rule at our house. Or maybe I wouldn’t, because I am super picky and I would never want to have to try something like a stewed tomato, so I wouldn’t want to have a rule that I would be in danger of breaking.

I do not think anyone is inferior OR superior for having different rules than I do, is what I’m saying. They’re just different.

Sometimes, I worry that I have too many rules. It’s possible, I acknowledge that. But I had a lot of rules, growing up. And I turned out to be very good at following rules, which doesn’t seem like a bad thing. (And I still maintain a level of independence and creativity and ability-to-question-rules, I hasten to add!)

My parents had a Good Living Room and a Good Dining Room that we weren’t allowed in, except for special occasions. And I wasn’t allowed to have my door shut if there was a boy in my room. And I couldn’t leave anything on the stairs. And I couldn’t leave the doors open (unless there was a screen door in its place). And I had to turn the lights off any and every time I left a room. And many others. It’s kind of funny to think back, to all those rules, and think about which ones stuck and which ones I threw immediately to the wind once I moved out of my parents’ house.

These days, I shut the door to my bedroom ALL the time, even though there’s almost always a boy in here! I am so getting away with things!!!

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It’s been a long, long while since I’ve done a randomosity post. But random topics still burble to the surface, so let’s get them all out in the open.

Fifty-one weeks of the year, I really enjoy living on this particular street, in this particular house. We live on a quiet cul-de-sac that is close but not too close to a main intersection in an urban-leaning suburb of a mid-size city. I feel like we get the neighborhoody aspects of living in the suburbs, but have plenty of businesses and restaurants and ice cream shops nearby. And it’s quiet. I realize I said that one sentence back, but it’s important. There’s not a huge amount of action, beyond the teenagers playing basketball across the street. The traffic is minimal.

But one week of the year, a business that resides (lives? exists?) on an adjoining street holds an event that draws people from near and far. So for the duration of the event – not quite a week, but close enough that I will count it as a full week, for complaining’s sake – our street is busy. Lots of cars driving down it, to check out the event. Or to try to leave the event, without realizing that our street has no outlet. Or to park on the side of the street before hiking back to the event venue. The event lasts late into the evening, so there are cars driving and people talking excitedly and people beeping their horns as they engage their remote locks well past ten. Is event starting to look a little wacko, as words go, or is it just me? By day two, I begin to go crazy. Carla is a fairly deep sleeper, but I get that crazed newborn-parent feel of, SHHHH, you are being TOO LOUD, there is a BABY SLEEPING, and there is nothing I can do about it.

I don’t like it, is what I’m saying. It makes me cranky. It makes me feel wary of talking to anyone while we’re outside, which we are a lot at this time of year. It makes me double and triple check the locks on the doors (because people heading to the event are super likely to be burglars/murderers) (no). It makes me feel like whispering and ducking past windows and uncomfortably aware of the proximity of my bedroom to the street.

I will be glad when this year’s event ends.


We have a new addition to our household. A new baby deer. Its mother leaves it in a snug little bundle of white spots between our deck and the azalea bushes.

Fawn 1

Baby deer!

This year, Carla spotted the fawn first. And, being a child who loves animals with a passion that makes her literally vibrate with the desire to pet and hug and adopt, she cannot stop thinking about the fawn. This has made it rather difficult to enjoy our backyard; she is constantly hopping out of her seat at lunch or dinner to go peek at the fawn. Or, instead of playing in the yard, she is peeking at the fawn. Or, instead of doing anything at all other than peeking at the fawn, she is peeking at the fawn.

She wants to show it a pinecone. (It won’t care.) She wants to share her ham with it. (No.) She wants to bring it up on the deck to show it an ant that is crawling as quickly away from Carla as its legs can carry it. (No.)

We have had lots of conversations about deer being wild animals, and being especially careful around baby animals, because their mothers will be protective. And how even though deer are so pretty and docile looking, they can bite and kick.

This has sunk in a bit further in some areas than others; Carla still wants to pet the fawn (no; wild animal). But she refuses to go into the backyard by herself just in case the mommy deer is there and wants to bite her or kick her or lick her (okay, good point; also it probably won’t lick you).

I don’t know why I continue to be disgruntled by the presence of baby deer in our yard. This has happened… every year since we’ve lived here? Our yard is a deer daycare. But each year, I feel annoyed at the mother deer for just abandoning her baby in my yard, where I then feel obligated to care for it. (I mean, insofar as “care for it” means peeking at it occasionally, keeping Carla away from it, and fretting about its safety.)

And I DO fret about it! We were moving some deck furniture around the other day, on the very deck against which the fawn was snuggled, and it was making a tremendous racket, and I commented to my husband that I hoped it wasn’t terrifying the poor creature. When the lawn service people arrived, I ran around in a panic, trying to replace my pajamas with clothes so that I could go out and warn them to stay away from the fawn’s azalea hidey-hole. We are having our deck refinished in a few weeks, and I am really hopeful that the fawn’s mother decides to take her on a field trip somewhere else so that the sanders and scrapers don’t scare the poor thing out of its spots.

Part of me feels so annoyed at the mother deer, for not picking a safer location to stow her offspring. But I suppose it is an urban deer, and this probably feels a whole lot safer than the corner of a busy intersection or the back of a schoolyard playground. And I suppose the fawn could always complain to its mother about the creature with the curly blond fur who keeps poking its face over the side of deck and waving pinecones at it, and suggest that they find a new daycare center.

Fawn 2

“Please stop peeking at me. You are making me very nervous/annoyed/camera shy.” – Fawn

As long as we’re talking about the backyard, we did get a playset. I loved all the comments and ideas, especially the suggestion to turn our weed patch into a beautiful garden (believe me! I would LOVE that!). Of course, being me, I continued to obsessively research and read reviews and bother people with questions. In the end, we concluded that a playset is the right decision for us. Time will tell, I suppose. To tell you the truth, I think the playset is really for ME. It will be so much more convenient to throw Carla in the backyard than to schlep her to a playground when she is overcome by the need to swing. And we can host playdates MUCH more comfortably if there is something for the kids to do outside. So I’M excited about it.


I’ve been on the hunt for a few very specific items of clothing lately. One is The Perfect Skirt, for which I continue searching. Let us take a gauzy look through time at one I had in college: white, a lineny blend, cut just above the knee, a-line. THAT is the skirt I am looking for. It was the ideal cut/shape for my shape/cut. It was a nice summery, neutral color. It was a casual material, which I am REALLY interested in; I have plenty of This Would Be Fine at the Office kinds of dresses/skirts; I really want some This Is Cute But Totally Casual Enough for the Playground or Library Story Time options. But I have yet to find it. I bought this skirt from Nordstrom, and despite being adorable in the online pictures, it was NOT The Perfect Skirt and I have since returned it.

Nordstrom skirt

Photo from Nordstrom.com

Another item I am seeking, in bulk, perhaps, is Rear-End-Covering Shirts. I already have a few that are dressier, so right now I am looking for casual options. I have found some good ones, I think: this one from Athleta,

Rear end shirt Athleta

Photo from Athleta.com

…and this one from Loft. (I got the Loft version for, I think, $12. But now they are on sale for two for $18!)

Rear end shirt loft

Photo from Loft.com

But I find myself wanting moremoremore because a) I enjoy wearing leggings and b) my rear end is self-conscious. My trouble though is that shirts that seem to fit the bill either don’t actually cover my rear end (I am more generous in the backyard than 99% of the models modeling the “rear-end-covering” shirts), or they make me feel shlubby. I want casual-but-put-together, not rolled-out-of-bed-and-grabbed-my-husband’s-undergarment-off-the-floor. I guess a more accurate way to describe it is that I like my tops to have some shape to them. Yet, like The Perfect Skirt and The Perfect Jeans, it seems really hard to find something matching my specifications. So I’m snapping them up when I come across them.


The room mother for Carla’s preschool class collected money for a year-end gift for her teachers. The gifts were lovely and generous, and I was delighted to not have to come up with ideas for something her teachers would like and not throw away. But when Carla and I were leaving her classroom on the last day, one of the other parents brought in two large bags from a fancy store and handed one to each of Carla’s teachers.

Listen, Carla and I wrote personal messages in cards for each of her teachers. They went above and beyond for us this year, in many ways, and I wanted to express my gratitude in words in addition to submitting some cash to the group gift. So I acknowledge that maybe these other parents felt similarly, and wanted to really show the teachers how grateful they were.

Or, of course, maybe they didn’t participate in the group gift. Or maybe their love language is Gift Giving. Or maybe other justifying thoughts I can’t come up with.

My worry, of course, is that this is What You Do; you give money to the room mother for the group gift, and then you ALSO buy a personal gift for each teacher. Which seems ridiculous, but what do I know? So many tiny, unimportant-in-the-greater-scheme-of-things stresses related to Having a Child in School! I had no idea!

My desktop anthurium – which you may recall was purchased purely because I was looking for a red lamp – for accent moreso than for light – and couldn’t find one – has lost its… well, I suppose they are flowers? The red pretty rooster-face looking portions of the plant. There were two to begin with, and one darkened and crumpled a few months ago, and now the second is going the same way. I don’t know anything about anthuria, outside of the fact that I fed them with ice cubes. Well, I guess I did a rather poor job of even doing that, considering that they have chosen death over waiting to see if I will remember to ice them each week. So I have no idea if they will flower again, in time… or if I need to find another one. One of the things that made it so clear I needed to buy THIS anthurium was that it came in such a lovely bright red vase. I neither want to buy a new red-vased anthurium nor replant an anthurium in this vase. So I suppose I will stare hopefully at my remaining anthurium leaves and try to remember the weekly icing.

1 Anthurium

Photo from gardenknowhow.com

That’s it for now, Internet. What’s up with you?

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Apparently I am new to this WordPress thing, because I wrote a post last Friday and thought then to post it for you today, which would have been, at that point, the future, but instead it somehow posted in the past, as in, on the 18th of April. If you were unable to follow that mess of commas, I don’t blame you.

If you want to read about and/or roll your eyes at my complete inability to function in a situation involving other people, mosey on back to the 18th and take a look:

It’s Just Ham

But if you would prefer a new story, I have one. Unless I have already shared it here. I don’t think I have; it happened Pre Blog. But I’m not going to look it up because lazy.

In any event, the story begins like so:

I eat a lot of jalapenos. They go well with nachos, burritos, stir fries, chili, guacamole. Yum. So I would call myself an experienced jalapenan. Jalapenian. Jalapeno buyer. Procurer of jalapenos. Why won’t my computer do the fancy ~ above the Ns?

Jalapeno 3

My cutting board looks a little worse for wear, this close. I suppose one could say the same about my face, though. 

All this is to say that I know better than to purchase a jalapeno with a hole in it. I carefully inspect my jalapenos before I buy them, to ensure they are Hole Free.

Caterpillar 1

Caterpillar 2

Instructional manual about how to choose caterpillar free foods.

So when I pulled a jalapeno out of my crisper yesterday, I was surprised and a little perturbed to find what looked like a hole in the skin of the pepper. Maybe it was a little weakness or bruise that was causing the skin to sink in on itself. Not well defined. But I was suspicious anyway.

Because many years ago, before I knew to check for holes, I brought home a large beautiful jalapeno and cut the top off and a CREATURE crawled out.

It looked something like this:


Photo from butterfliesandmoths.org                                                                                         Please believe me when I say I looked at so many photos of caterpillars that I now have a permanent Being Crawled On feeling about the head and neck.




Listen, I am well aware that fruits and vegetables do not magically come into being in a sterile refrigerated room. No. They grow outdoors with critters and crawly things. So I am not fazed by a fruit fly corpse in my red leaf lettuce. Nor am I squicked out (too much) by the occasional spider web on a grape stem. This is why you WASH YOUR PRODUCE.

Furthermore, I am not normally creeped out much by caterpillars, just in general. But to have one fling itself – okay, perhaps the verb is closer to “ooze” than “fling” – out of something I was about to EAT, onto my clean kitchen counter… Well, that resulted in some shrieking. I think my then-boyfriend was home at the time, and rushed to my rescue, i.e., disposed of the thing. Either that or I entered some sort of caterpillar-induced fugue state, because I have no recollection of the events post caterpillar emergence.

Back to yesterday. Somehow, I convinced myself that the maybe-hole was not a real hole, but a dent… I mean, I am cautious, but I am also not going to throw away a perfectly good jalapeno without at least giving it a go. So I cut the top off the jalapeno.

Alas! I didn’t cut far enough into the cavity of the jalapeno. There was still a semi-transparent layer of jalapeno flesh blocking my vision. But one half of the veiled cavity was empty but for seeds, while the other half was very dark and full of… something.

Listen, I don’t need to see another caterpillar emerge from a jalapeno. Nor do I have any desire to cut into a DEAD ONE. So I dropped the entire pepper into the disposal and… disposed.

I got a new jalapeno and moved on.

Jalapeno 2

New trend in photography: off center, worn-out cutting board, old knife.

Although… I am still bracing myself for a zombiepillar to crawl out of the sink drain.

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Internet, today I am going to post some pictures and give you some relevant facts/less-actually-relevant-facts about them, and you are going to tell me what to think and do about them. That’s just how this post has to go, because I am really at a loss here.

(I am HOPING that you won’t tell me I need to move, because that would… not be good. But honesty would be appreciated.)

Let’s get started.

Last night, my husband went outside to fire up the grill because we wanted to take FULL advantage of this balmy spring interlude before the snow starts falling upon us in great bulldozersfull. He came back in, rather perplexed.

“Some of our lawn furniture is broken,” he told me.

My in laws had given us a huge set of lovely Crate and Barrel lawn furniture when we moved here – second hand lawn furniture, but still. We never would have shelled out the money to buy it, so we were grateful and pleased. There are six chairs (meant to go around a table that we do not have) and an adjustable lounge chair and a loveseat and two side tables.

My husband and I – knowing nothing about the proper care and handling of lawn furniture, nor having any extra storage space indoors, nor wanting to shell out the may-I-say EXORBITANT fee Crate and Barrel was asking for covers – kind of just took the view that the furniture lives outside and will last as long as it lasts and that’s the end of it.

So the furniture – even though it is teak and probably requires weekend coddling and monthly trips to the spa – lives outside year round.

I have somehow detoured down a guilt side alley here.

ANYWAY, four of the chairs, the two side tables, and the loveseat live on our deck. The remaining two chairs and the lounge chair live with the grill on the concrete patio adjacent to the deck.

The broken chairs my husband was referring to were the concrete patio dwellers. They had been moved up against the house to protect them from the crazy winds we’d been having in Decemberish.

This is what they looked like when he found them last night.

This is both chairs. The far chair is under the laundry room window. The near chair is under nothing. Ignore the lounge chair, which is draped in the grill cover.

This is both chairs. The far chair is under the laundry room window. The near chair is under nothing. Ignore the lounge chair, which is draped in the grill cover.

Here, you can see the broken chair and its proximity to the window. The left arm is broken completely off. The left arm is split in two.

Here, you can see the broken chair and its proximity to the window. The right arm is broken completely off. The left arm is split in two.

Here's a close up of the chair under the window, so you can further inspect the damage. It was dark when I took these, which I think elevates the grim feeling of foreboding.

Here’s a close up of the chair under the window, so you can further inspect the damage. It’s kind of hard to tell that the left arm is split, but it is – any extra pressure would break it right in half. (It was dark when I took these, which I think elevates the grim feeling of foreboding.)

Here's the chair that's under nothing. It too is missing one arm and has severe damage to the other. But... it's not under anything... so why would anyone be climbing on it? I can't see a burglar breaking one chair and then swapping it with the other... These chairs aren't LIGHT - they're rather heavy.

Here’s the chair that’s under nothing. It too is missing one arm and has severe damage to the other. But… it’s not under anything… so why would anyone be climbing on it? I can’t see a burglar breaking one chair and then swapping it with the other… These chairs aren’t LIGHT – they’re rather heavy.


Okay, now here is where is make your first impressions, Internet. But please: hold off on running to the comments to tell me I must move immediately lest I be slaughtered in my bed.

First, I would like to tell you the related relevant facts and less-actually-relevant-facts, to help you come to a more informed conclusion.

1.  The chairs et al reside in our backyard. The yard is fenced on one side. The house is opposite the fence, and bracketed on either side by white gates of the Home Depot variety. The other two sides of the yard are hemmed in by arbor vitae – tall, thin bush-trees that make their own fence-like boundary between us and the neighbors.  So the yard isn’t impenetrable, but it looks, to the outsider, like it wouldn’t be EASY to penetrate.

2. We recently had some Major Snow – at least 10 inches, if not a full foot. Snow is heavy. (But… it’s not that heavy, is it?) And water and ice can be very destructive.

3. None of the other chairs had damage.

4. One of the broken chairs was situated (stupidly) directly under our laundry room window. That window just happens to be the only window in our house without a screen. (Let’s discuss the issue of leaving screens on year round at a later time please.)

5. But the other broken chair was situated beneath nothing.

6. Our neighborhood is typically pretty safe. But I did spend some time going through our local police blotter last night, and there was a cryptic and not particularly helpful entry about a break-in on a street that’s just a mile away from us… And another entry about a burglary just a few miles from us wherein the homeowner had left the door unlocked for her sister that day, so the sister could feed the homeowner’s cats. Both incidents happened recently – the first in the past week.

7.  Just this past week, I was upstairs getting ready for work when I heard a loudish crash. In my head, I thought, “That must be the watering can on the deck railing – it must have fallen over onto the concrete six-odd feet below.” (I don’t know how one ignores a watering can until it has filled with water/snow and been ice-fused to the deck railing, but that is what happened.)  But when I looked out the window, the watering can was still there. My brain rationalized this new information by thinking that some of the snow must have melted enough to slide off the roof in a great loud pile. But I didn’t really go looking for the source of the noise.

(And now here is where we get into the less-actually-relevant-facts.)

8. I have had several mornings in the past few weeks where I’ve heard sounds that I brushed off as typical house-creaking, neighborhood normalcy… But then my mind would start going through scenarios in which a burglar/murderer broke in and I would have to… deal with that.

9. I read an article last year about two women who were brutally attacked and one of them flung herself out of a second-story window – naked, for a reason you don’t want to know – to get away, and the other one didn’t survive, and that article has been on my mind a lot recently.  I’ve been going over in my head how I would react, and I’ve been trying to steel myself up to re-read Swistle’s post on how to deal with a home invader type (haven’t reached optimum steel yet), and I’ve been running through horrible scenarios in my head on a loop.

10.  My dreams, of late, have had to do with home invasions. One the other night was so vivid and awful that I had to write it down. (Maybe it will turn into a novel!) (One can always hope!)

11. If someone were to be watching my husband and me (shudder), he would very easily know when one or the other of us was in the house, and when we were both gone. I keep thinking that it is really pretty unfortunate that my husband and I have such an established routine. But when you have a job that starts at a certain time each morning, it’s kind of difficult to switch things up, you know?

12. When our yard was covered with a thick layer of snow, my husband and I both commented – rather jokingly – to each other that some of the animal tracks looked an awful lot like human footprints. But because of the placement of the tracks, and the ridiculousness of the idea that some human would be tramping through our back yard, we didn’t really examine them closely. And now the snow is melted and the tracks are gone. (Also, any burglar worth his salt would know not to leave to footprints in a clean sheet of white snow, right?)

Okay. That’s all I have for you, Internet.

I mean, it looks like someone stood on that lawn chair to get up to the laundry room window, right? And that the weight of that person – a burly, well-muscled man with insidious intent, I’m assuming – ended up breaking the arms of the chair.

What else could cause that kind of damage?

My husband, ever the optimist, suggested that perhaps an animal chewed on the chair… or stood on it… But I just don’t think that’s realistic.

I mean, sure, we’ve had some shady characters lurking around our back yard lately…

Like this guy…

Yes, he only has one antler but that doesn't necessarily mean he's a criminal.

Yes, he only has one antler but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a criminal.

But I can’t see him wanting anything to do with two lawn chairs.

And if snow or wind were to blame… Well, then why were only those two chairs affected, and the other four chairs – plus loveseat, plus tables, plus lounge chair – left undisturbed?

So of course I am now driven to new heights of paranoia.

I keep thinking back to the random home invasion dreams and murderer-break-in thoughts I’ve been having… And wondering if that’s my brain understanding something on a deeper level that my conscious mind is not sophisticated enough to process. That maybe I should be paying rapt attention to these thoughts, because they could be indications that something is seriously wrong.

But then again, I could be Gift-of-Fearing myself right into deeper paranoia.  (Which is the big problem with the Gift of Fear, thank you very much Gavin de Becker for making me unable to trust myself EVER.)

And it’s not like I don’t already have a murderer-thoughts proclivity.

But then again, again, what could have broken those chairs?

And what do I do?

I mean, obviously, I am now sitting in my house in the broad daylight with the alarm on. So there’s that.

But do I… call the police? It seems like such a time waster. Especially because we have no idea when the chairs got broken. Especially because any evidence (“evidence”) has surely been tainted by snow and rain and thaw.

I guess I could mention my concerns and see if they would increase their patrols through our neighborhood? I don’t know. My experience with the police is limited to Drug Abuse Resistance Education in middle school, that time I backed into the police chief’s daughter’s car in the high school parking lot (I maintain that we backed into each other), and a long history of watching Law & Order and CSI and the like. Oh. And that time I burnt the popcorn, which was more like a near encounter.

We DID move the chairs away from the house, though. No point in just straight out inviting someone to climb through your window, am I right?

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Some short thoughts for you today, Internet. I know, brevity is unusual for me. Don’t worry – I made up for it in quantity.


  • A cardinal’s call sounds like a gun in a really girly video game.


  • I have heard that acupuncture is really good for anxiety, but I get anxious just THINKING about acupuncture.


  • The worst thing about Fourth of July is the surrounding 4-to-6 week period of random fire-crackering at all hours of the day and night. I do not enjoy playing the game of Fire Cracker or Gun Shot? with my husband when we’re snapped out of sleep at two in the morning, fearing for our lives.


  • The best – inexpensive – red wine I’ve had in a long while is the 2010 Michael David Petite Petit Sirah. You’re welcome.


  • Sometimes I like to sit in my backyard in my bikini (and shorts) and catch the rays. The neighbor whose backyard touches ours has a 22-year-old daughter, home from college, who also likes to sunbathe in her bikini. So my flabby abs and I stay inside a lot.


  • Trader Joe’s microwavable jasmine/basmati rice has changed my life.


  • I miss Jill Zarin. And that crazypants Kelly. I do not miss Simon.


  • Come to think of it, I miss Paris Geller too.


  • There is nothing more exciting than growing actual fruit on actual plants that you actually planted. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to protect them from the neighborhood wildlife. This is not your personal produce section, DEER/CHIPMUNKS/SQUIRRELS/BUNNIES/BIRDS.


  • What kind of creature is leaving giant poops in my yard?


  • Standing with the fridge door open, looking at a cold can of delicious Diet Coke, imagining that crisp, bubbly elixir of happiness trickling down my throat, and contemplating a night of staring at my ceiling fan while my heart whirs frantically and my brain cycles endlessly through my to-do list is not fun. There is no good option here, folks.


  • The other day, I saw two cars with personalized license plates. One said One Soul and the other said Fun Knee. What?


  • Why is “exercise more frequently” the solution for so many things and “nachos with a brownie chaser” is the solution for nothing?


  • I never thought I’d see this day, but alas: we have run out of bay leaves.


  • Tom Selleck as Richard from Friends. Indiana Jones-era Harrison Ford. Bruce Willis any day, any time.


  • Fresh strawberries always look so delectable in the store, but by the time I get around to washing them, they are soft and discolored and possibly moldy. (See also: grapes, blueberries, artichokes.)


  • I probably go outside in my pajamas more often than I should.


  • My couch loses approximately ten zagillion feathers each day. I’m pretty sure the feather supply is infinite, but if it turns out I’m wrong, what do I do? Just… throw out the couch? Which will at that point, obviously, be just a pile of empty fabric rectangles.


  • I’m not boycotting them or anything, but I haven’t had an Oreo in about two years. I could really go for an Oreo right now.


  • The only book I’ve read – all the way through – since March is 50 Shades of Grey. Make of that what you will.




What are you thinking about today, Internet?

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Internet, I have been lax in my blog responsibilities these days.  Things have been going on – things that take up a lot of my brain space. Things that I cannot discuss via blog. Good things. (But not the thing that you are thinking.)

I have missed you and I have missed blogging and I have a whole HEAP of blog posts for your reading pleasure. (Or your eye-rolling pleasure, I’m cool with it either way.) Of course, I have to WRITE the posts, but I am going to TRY.

Anyway, I would like to fill you in on the drama that I’ve been experiencing over the past few months.

Drama that has caused me great angst. Drama that culminated, yesterday, in an act of vengeance so vindictive, so strategic, so MEAN that I am still upset.

But, because I am a fair person, I want to give you the background before I reveal how horribly I was wronged. That way, you can judge for yourself if the retaliation I endured was merited.

A couple of months ago, my husband and I went to The Home Depot. It’s our favorite store. And it was spring, and I was in the mood to Grow Things.

So I bought lots of things: pots, baby tomatoes and bell peppers and strawberries and a variety of herbs (none of which survived – NONE). I also bought a bunch of seed packets and some of those seed-starter things. And soil – copious amounts of soil. Some insecticidal soap. Some garden implements and garden gloves.  Stuff to make the soil hold water. Stuff to make the plants grow better. A SPRINKLER. All sorts of goodies.

We also bought two hanging baskets of lovely yellow pansies.

I don’t seem to have a photo of our house with the pansies, so I have included a highly accurate artist’s rendering below.

I feel compelled to admit to you that this drawing is a lie.

Our front door is not orange. It’s black. And it has a white screen door between it and the outside.

It’s ugly, is what I’m saying.

And I so very much want to have a bright, happy door.

Someday, Internet. Someday.

Also, I don’t know why the roof is red. That’s ridiculous. My roof is… black? Brown? Brack?

Anyway, I would like you to know that the pansies normally look like this:


But one day, I went outside to water them…

And they looked strange.

As though, all together, each pansy had decided to leap from the side of the basket.

And, being tethered to the basket by their roots, they remained frozen, mid leap.

Like so:


I was… perplexed.

What would prompt them to jump ship?

Perhaps they simply needed water, I thought.

So I pulled them from their hooks.

And what should I find inside…?


Yes, Internet. That is a NEST.

A BIRD had made a NEST inside my pansies!

Admittedly, it was kind of adorable.

But Internet. I cannot have birds just making themselves at home inside my FLOWER POTS.

After all, I spent money on those flowers.

And I am not going to WATER A BIRD’S NEST while trying to keep the flowers alive, you know?

So I carefully pulled the bird’s nest out of the flower pot and threw it away.

It was so delicate, Internet. Lovingly embroidered with hair (uuuuuuhhhhhhhh hair *shudder*) and grass and a piece of soft brown yarn.

I watered the pansies, restoring them to their cheerful glory, and figured that was the end of it.

Certainly, even a bird stupid enough to build a nest inside a flower pot wouldn’t build ANOTHER nest in that same pot, right? I mean, clearly the flower pot is inhospitable to nests! But to be on the safe side, I hung the bird’s nest basket on a different hook.

The next day, I hurried outside to check on my pansies.

Two sparrows flew away from my front porch in a very suspicious manner. They landed in the big maple tree in my front yard and looked at me worriedly.

There was ANOTHER NEST in the flower pot. The same flower pot from which I’d pulled their original nest. The flower pot that was now on the right-hand hook instead of the left-hand hook.


I removed the nest, watered the flowers, and went inside.  The sparrows chirped at me from the maple.

The next day, I set my jaw and headed outside.

Again, the panicked – and ominous – flap of sparrow wings.

I yanked down the pansy basket and looked inside.


I saw a half-hearted nest – just a few strands of grass this time…




These idiots had left their OFFSPRING in the same spot where TWO PREVIOUS NESTS had been demolished!

I am a cold and heartless and horrible person. So I gently lifted the little egg from the flower pot and put it in my garbage can.

I felt TERRIBLE about it, believe me!

But Internet! Birds are messy and destructive and I didn’t want to watch two sparrows raise a family in a flower pot that would have grown increasingly DEAD.

That night, I went to The Home Depot and bought some green plastic stakes that you use to anchor mesh into the ground around your strawberry plants (foreshadowing!). They were about three inches long and one end was pointy – but not DANGEROUS – and the other end was a flat circle.

My plan was to put the stakes in the flower pots, so that the pointy end pointed up, making it uncomfortable (but again, NOT DANGEROUS) for the birds to land and/or nest in the flower pots.

So I went outside the next morning to install my rudimentary Bird Begone device…

And there was ANOTHER EGG.


No nest this time.

Poor birds were so desperate to get the egg part out of the way, they stopped even caring about the nest.

Which, if you think about it, makes them pretty unfit parents, right?

I mean, what kind of parents build a home in a place that can be easily destroyed… And then, after it’s destroyed, build another home in THE EXACT SAME LOCATION… And then have babies there… And then when their baby DISAPPEARS, along with their THIRD HOME, they just have another one?

Clearly not ready for babies, is what I’m thinking. (I, um, disposed of the egg again.)

Anyway, that was it. I installed the plastic stakes, which seemed to do the trick. No more nests. No more eggs.

The sparrows hung out on the front side of our house for a while.

I was afraid they would dive bomb me… using any means necessary, if you know what I mean. But they kept their distance.

(Now I know they were PLOTTING.)

Eventually, they moved around the back of house. There’s a sliding door from our kitchen to our porch, and the door has an electric awning above it. The sparrows built a nest in the awning mechanism.

When my dad visited a few weeks later, he pulled down the nest. (No eggs or babies, THANK GOD.)

But they just built a new one.

My husband and I resigned ourselves to the mess below the nest – feathers, sticks, grass, and bird goo – and the NOISE (scratching, feather ruffling, constant, un-ending chirping), and, of course, the hysterical frenzy of flapping whenever we dared to set foot onto our porch.

But we felt that we’d reached some sort of equilibrium with the sparrows. That we didn’t necessarily like each other, but we were willing to share the world for a time.

But the cease fire didn’t last, Internet.

Oh no. They were bound and determined to get me where it hurt.

But that’s a sad, sad story for another day.

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