An Open Letter

sarcasm iws radio

Dear God,

How are you? That’s a stupid question, isn’t it? I’m sure you’re fine. Listen, I have something to discuss with you. I’m just going to cut to the chase-no point in beating around the bush. For being the one who Knows- It-All, your sarcasm skills are sorely lacking.  A crash course in how to tell the difference between genuine prayer and sarcasm speak might be something you want to consider for future moments when you hear your name being summoned from down here on Earth.  I’d think for the guy who is responsible for creating PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING, you would recognize when I’m being sweet and when I’m being smart.

Apparently not.

Do you remember  Of course you remember that 4th of July evening in 2011 when my husband and I got into a fight over our division of labor in the kitchen.  I yelled at him in a fit of anger, “Dear God, I wish I were more like a man!”

You had to know that wasn’t a knees-to-the-floor prayer.  That was me behaving very badly.  I do that sometimes.  You know that, God.

Yet, you seemed to answer me that hot July night via request mode.

To be clear, I never wanted to be like a man. I never asked for this chin stubble-this nearly goatee.  I have certainly never wanted to flaunt a pale, sagging beer belly.   Yet, I’m plucking jawbone hairs on an hourly basis and waxing areas of my face that no woman should ever be required to apply a hot popsicle stick to.  I own more pairs of tweezers than pairs of socks. I should not know that the optimal place to tweeze my face is in my car, using the rearview mirror in the natural sunlight, in public parking lots facing south. But I do know that.  After all, practice-practice-practice makes perfect.

Want to talk about my gut? God! A woman isn’t even supposed to have a gut. I can’t even go through the checkout at the grocery store without sucking mine in and holding it down—my hand hiding my fuzzy chin and arm pointed straight down with my elbow locked down pinning the loaf of belly fat to the waistband of my jeans, like some sort of missile is about to break free and destroy all of mankind.

What’s next? Are you going to strip me of my ability to throw my dirty laundry in the hamper?

Perhaps I’m mistaking your humor for naivety and you’re actually trying to teach me a lesson—that old adage “Be careful what you wish for.”   In that case, I understand. I get it. I won’t do it again. I’ll try not to do it again.  I’ll try to be less bad next time I fight with my husband.

Can you at least please make these chin whiskers go away? I’d like to somewhat look like a female again. Please, God. Please.

I’ve had my fill of boy looks in my life.

Do you remember Of course you remember when I was seven and I had joined a Walk-a-Thon with my two older sisters and brother but I was too tired to finish? With tears of defeat in my eyes, I boarded the big double decker bus to take me home, sitting next to a very pretty teenage girl.   She asked me my name and I replied, “Amy”.  Giggling, she said, “Oh. I thought you were a little boy!  Don’t cry. Here, want a stick of gum?”  Avoiding eye contact, I took the gum and slumped further in my seat.  It was a long, disappointing ride home.

That night, I prayed to you to make me more like a girl.  More like my older sisters.

That was a genuine prayer.

It should go without saying-because you are God and all, that I’m totally not being serious here. JOSHING. JOKING. MESSING AROUND.  Just clarifying that you get it by crossing my t’s and dotting my i’s, you know? Better safe than sorry.  Especially with you, big guy.

Besides, I know you have way more important things to do than fuss over me.

But, really. If you can squeeze in the request? Whiskers?

Maybe?

I got to go now. Take care of yourself and tell my mom I said hi.  I love you.

Love Always,

Amy

 

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Dogs and Moms

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They both provide unconditional love, smell reassuring and have soft bellies.  They’re loyal and unjudging.  I’ve went to my dog with secrets I couldn’t imagine telling anyone else.  She didn’t scold me.  She didn’t offer her opinion.  She held no anger. She just listened and licked my tears away. I’ve also went to my mom with confessions I’d held for years.  Much like my dog, she only offered her silence and comfort.  My mom didn’t lick my tears but she did offer me a Kleenex. The only difference between the two I can really see is one poops in the yard and the other makes the best spaghetti and meatballs in the entire universe.  Maybe moms do have a little more up on dogs than just pasta and the ability to poop in a toilet. After all,  I can drive down to the local shelter, shell out sixty bucks and pick out a pooch.  There’s no such thing for moms.  They’re all just that much loved at home and don’t require any rescuing.

I wish the same were true for dogs.

Still.  I have been without a mom for ten years.  It’s difficult to recall the last time I was without a dog.

It’s lonesome not having either.  My dog, Misdemeanor, filled in some of the blank spots when my mom died.  She offered me that soft belly, that reassuring smell. Now that my dog is gone, I have a lot of white space to cover.

It’s a strange and awful place to be–putting your dog down; poisoning it quickly for its own good.

As Misdemeanor got older, my friends often told me that I would know when the time was right to let her go.  Sure, we knew she was getting aches and pains. She was 17 years old. Her legs were punching out the time clock before she was ready to call it a day.  She couldn’t quite stand up the entire way or the entire time for a drink of water.  When she laid down, she appeared to do so in slow motion.  But the right time? There’s a time. But it’s not right.  It’s heavy and it hurts.

Misdemeanor died almost six months ago.  To cover some of the white spots, we adopted a cat from our shelter.  We already own one cat.  Or I should say, my husband owns a cat. We just call him Cat.  I know, I KNOW.  It’s an awful name and perhaps part of the reason why Cat hates me.  I don’t want to be named Lady. I definitely don’t want to be called Woman.  I much prefer Amy.  I get it. Cat should not be a proper noun name. But he has never liked me.  He had it out for me the day we brought him home from the shelter. He tried many nights to murder me. Luckily, he doesn’t have thumbs and can’t hold a knife.  We struggled to give him a suitable name. We landed on Richard–Dick for short.  It was fitting.  But Cat wouldn’t respond to being a Dick.  So his name just morphed into Cat.  In his mind, he was probably thinking, “Dick or Cat? That’s what you came up with? Have you people ever heard of Tigger? Oliver? Shadow? Let me see. If these are my two choices, I guess I’ll stick with Cat. Your name should be Dick, you jerk wad.  Get another dog next time, loser.”

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Cat loathes visitors and would even likely attack the milkman if the milkman came displaying a vat of top shelf cream just for him.  We have to imprison him in the spare bedroom anytime guests come over to ensure no physical fights break out.  He’s just an obscene, boorish, overweight cat who doesn’t know love for anyone but Jason.  I tried to bond once again with Cat when Misdemeanor died.  I gave him all the love I had, blowing kisses, all the tuna in the cupboards, a clean litter box every single morning-and that rarely happens.  All that love ever got me was a few scratch marks and a sore attitude about cats and life in general.

Then Rodeo came along, strutting his legs free from the confines of the animal shelter cages. Happy as a clam.  That guy had been locked up for weeks.

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Rodeo is also of the feline persuasion. I mean to say he’s a cat, but he’s charming unlike any cat I’ve ever known.  I suppose I’ve only ever known Cat.  Rodeo comes when I whistle.  He adores belly rubs and back scratches. He actually purrs. He lays at my feet when I work. He races me around the house.  Rodeo is a dare-devil and a deer whisperer. He’s more fun than a summer carnival.  He was also full-grown and was named prior to us adopting him.  There’s that entire Nature vs. Nurture thing to consider. Perhaps if we had raised him, he’d be as demented and vulgar as Cat, trying to stab my eyes out with his front claws right now.  On the contrary, Rodeo has even influenced Cat to be a more agreeable sort of fellow.

Quite possibly, Cat was just lonely for a friend.  I can understand that.

Sometimes life does get lonely.  It doesn’t matter who you are, how many people you know, who your family is, how much money you have, what your house looks like,  what kind of car you drive, even how many friends you have.

What matters?

Who your friends are.

Thankfully, I got a few good ones right here at home.

 

 

 

Lucky Ducklings

I received a text from my 23 year old son early this morning, who was on his way to work:

“Better call someone. A momma duck lost her babies down a drain on the corner of N * Street and G * Ave.  I can hear the babies from the drain but don’t know how to get them out.  I walked right by the mom.”

My heart dropped.  Babies in a drain? Another duck disaster in the making.

I dialed Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.  Although after hours, I was hopeful their answering system had a forwarding service for calls of this nature.  No such luck.  With two plus hours to spare until office opening time, I suspected the ducklings couldn’t all survive in a drain waiting it out for FWP.

So, I did the only thing I knew.  I broke down in front of my husband and bawled. Snotted all over my shirt until Jason ran out of the house and laid rubber backing out of the driveway.

Okay. That’s not true.  Jason doesn’t care if I bawl.  He cares about what’s for supper.

I did alert him to the ducklings being incarcerated in the drain; their momma fretting on the sidewalk, herself free and unconfined-yet completely hopeless to the situation. I asked him his opinion on what else I should do.   Can I go down there and hook a rope to the drain bars and to the back of my car?  Can I try to pry the drain open with a crow bar?  Can I grease the babies all up with Crisco and try to slide them all through?  None of these really sounded practical. Or legal. Or safe.

But fun and heroic? Uh, heck yes.

I was still brainstorming, imagining myself dressed in a red cape with fabulous golden locks of hair, saving fowl all across our great little city when Jason left to get on the road for a business trip.  About a half hour passed.  I was still googling “Ways to save babies from drains” and having really no luck whatsoever.  That’s when I received this on my phone:

lots of ducks

along with this text: “handled.”

My husband can have whatever he wants for supper.

I know I can handle that.

 

Dead Beat Mother

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Sometime last night during Season 4, Episode 7 of Breaking Bad, Momma Duck must have tired, just as I have, of Jesse threatening to make other people his bitch.  She left her basket, eggs uncovered and has not yet returned.

This is not the duck I know.

Momma Duck has been so protective, so cautious, so tending to her eggs.  She has given each one equal time under the warmest spot on her body, rotating them with her bill every thirty minutes or so.  She has covered them with her own belly feathers, taking care to tuck the feathers in between the eggs.  She has even pulled my plant identifiers from around the yard to use as insulation.  For the past few weeks, she has rarely taken breaks, many days going completely without even in the hot sun.  And now this?

Her eggs are about five days from hatching.  When you’re so close to the finish line, why quit?  Why be so completely committed to something just to up and leave when you can see the ribbon?

I don’t get it. I don’t understand.

I’ve been fretting all morning over what to do.  I put the umbrella up so her little babies wouldn’t get snatched by a hawk or destroyed by magpies.  And, this afternoon I’ll go on snake patrol.  But how long can they really just sit there exposed, not incubated?   I haven’t the heart to abort these eggs.  It’s not my decision to make.  No, really. I think they’re federally protected.

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I also don’t need a snake buffet on my deck.

I don’t know what happened to you, Momma Duck.  Maybe some twenty-something year old in a jacked-up pickup with a Calvin pissing on a Ford emblem in his rear window and silver balls hanging from his hitch thought it would be funny to run you over while you were out getting a drink of water and a little snacker-bug.  Maybe you ran into your man down at the ditch and decided motherhood just wasn’t for you.  After all, you’ve had to deal with quite a few obstacles these past few days—a bull snake, losing three of your children, and the blistering heat of yesterday.  I get how scared and tired you must be.   Watching TV last night and listening to Jesse break down and ask, “What’s it all for?” maybe wasn’t the best thing for you.   I’m sorry, Momma Duck.  Jesse isn’t a good influence right now.  He’s in a very bad place.  You need to know though, TV isn’t REAL.  YOU are real, Momma Duck.

Come home.

I’ll keep your eggs through lunch time.  Then I’m going to have to call the cops.  That’s Fish & Game to you.  I need some good, solid advice.

You got a couple hours to make up your mind.  Do the right thing here. I’m praying for you.

All of My Love,

Amy

Duck Love

Wanting to try my hand at a container garden on my deck, I recently bought a large footed planter. I wasn’t the only one wanting to establish some roots in the pot. Within days of filling it with soil, a duck planted an egg. She showed up every morning for about a week to plant another egg while her man friend relaxed in the yard underneath, eating bugs and taking dips in our dirty pool water.

I don’t know much about ducks. I know boy ducks can be criminally, violently bad–sexually deviant little suckers. When they show up in my yard, I usually call the cops. I don’t need their kind of scene. But after seeing eggs and the possibility of being able to witness new life? My heart soared. I educated myself and read as much as I could find on momma ducks. A What to Expect When You’re Expecting Ducks, so to speak.

Her guy, and I use that term loosely, has since taken off to hang with the boys down at the ditch. She has hunkered down, plucked her feathers and nested, learning to weather the storms and Jason (because he can’t seem to remember we are fostering an entire family and keeps startling her with his clunky man shoes); and I have gotten the pleasure of getting to know her over the past few weeks. I know I’m not supposed to talk to wild animals. I get it. But I can’t help myself. She is not a buffalo. She is a mom. She is a guest. At my house. Besides, she seems kind of lonesome. I can’t just ignore her. That’s rude. So, every day I’ve been talking to her, making sure she’s comfortable, bringing her umbrellas when it’s hot, a worm or two when I’ve noticed she hasn’t gotten out of her basket for a few days, making it rain on her in the really hot weather—just to keep her cool. She likes me.

As long as I don’t make eye contact when I’m talking to her. Story of my life.

Then yesterday happened. Jason came home from work a little early because he got called in to work in the middle of the night. He was napping. I peeked my head out of the dining room window to check on Momma Duck and noticed she was out of her basket (something I haven’t witnessed for at least a week) and she was just standing off to the side, lopsided and paralyzed. Hurt? Waiting for her to move, I watched out the window for a few moments. Nothing. I ran up our stairs two at a time (something nobody witnesses, ever) and out our bedroom deck for an overhead view of her and her basket. A bull snake was crawling vertical up the planter and into the basket of eggs, his mouth open and eager. I yelled at my sleeping husband, “A SNAKE IS EATING OUR BABIES!”

Jason bolted awake and shot straight out of bed and ran downstairs on the hot deck with no shoes, scorching his feet. Jason, who is terrified—mortified of snakes, who refuses to even look at pictures of snakes. Jason, who once sprinted from a water snake. But Jason, the man who will tackle his worst fear for our Momma Duck. THAT IS MY HUSBAND. His face immediately breaking out in hives, his forehead dripping sweat, he grabbed a shovel and went to work trying to wrangle the snake out of the basket, instructing me to get our neighbor, Bill. In Jason’s mind, Bill is a professional snake killer, his hero.

Or maybe just a really nice guy who doesn’t have any irrational fears about a bull snake.

Bill knew immediately why I was knocking on his door. “I’ll be right over, let me get my pellet gun and an ice chipper”, he replied when I told him his assistance was requested. Before Bill showed up, Jason had wrangled the snake out of the basket and it had fallen off the deck, slithering away. Then Jason spotted it, screaming “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! IT’S IN THE TREE! IT’S IN THE TREE!! OH MY GODDDDDDD!!! TREEEEEE!!!! EVILLLL!!!! BILLLLLLL!!! I’m surprised the police weren’t called to our house for a disturbance.

“911. What’s your emergency?”

“Uh. Yeah. There’s a guy in my neighborhood screaming like a little girl. Can you hear him? It sounds like he’s being beaten, tortured even. I can’t really make out what’s wrong with him, but you should send the police. Now. And maybe an ambulance. It sounds like he’s in severe pain.”

Bill shot it once. The snake fell from the tree and went out of sight again. A few moments later, my peripheral vision picked up some movement above. The snake was above me, moving to the top of the deck, crawling up another tree, trying to get back to the eggs. Momma Duck was waiting in the yard, shaking her head from side to side, wondering WTF. Bill took the ice chipper to it this time. Jason started to spit profusely, an action I have never once witnessed in twenty years. I asked Jason to come look at the dead snake. He threatened to divorce me. (He didn’t really. He was too busy dry heaving.) Okay. Not really. But he was terrified. That part is totally true.

Momma Duck eventually went back to her basket, where there were five cracked eggs (three beyond hope.) Tears in our eyes, we watched as she carried them off in her mouth, one by one—flying over the city with her dead babies. Where could she be taking them? Jason wanted to believe she was giving them a proper burial. I asked Google. Google answered with a response I didn’t want to accept as true. But by the time she got back to egg #3, she had enough flying and just took it to the pool and feasted. It seems they eat their broken eggs so that predators can’t. I liked Jason’s version a heck of a lot more. Funeral Burial Eggs are just more sorrowful, more comforting than I-Ate-My-Baby-Eggs. But still, I hold no ill will to Momma Duck. When you’re a momma, you do what you got to do and sometimes it just hurts.

There are four eggs left in her basket this morning, two of which are cracked but apparently Momma Duck believes are salvageable. She is quite moody and has been checking the underside of the planter on a regular basis now for snakes. She is one smart duck. I think it’s best to give her some quiet time. I won’t try to have a conversation with her today.

Besides, I have snake patrol to tend to.

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