Looking for Love

Me: I can’t believe I’m doing this.
Louis: YOU’RE A REAL PAL. OKAY, SO IS THIS A GOOD POSE?
Me: I guess?
Louis: YOU’RE NOT HELPING.
Me: Look, the last time I saw you, you were shooting at everyone.
Louis: I SAID I WAS SORRY.

Louis: SO OKAY, IT SHOULD GO, SINGLE MALE LOOKING FOR FRIENDS.
Me: Friends?
Louis: YEAH, WELL, IT’S GOTTA START THERE, RIGHT? LIKES: LONG WALKS, NATURE, COLD BEER. SHOULD I PUT DISLIKES?
Me: I’m not sure there’s space.
Louis: GOOD POINT. ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE. DID YOU GET MY GOOD SIDE? DO I LOOK RELAXED?
Me: …you look fine.

Louis: OKAY, SO HOBBIES. LET’S SEE.
Me: Well, what do you like to do?
Louis: KILL ZOMBIES.
Me: …other than that.
Louis: DRINK BEER.
Me: How about reading? Do you like to read?
Louis: WEAPONS MANUALS.
Me: *trying to keep a straight face* Cooking? Do you like to cook?
Louis: I CAN ROAST A SQUIRREL.
Me:

Yeah, poor Louis is looking for love. I’m not sure online dating is for him, but he’s insistent, and since he’s going to be living in the backyard with the rest of the crew, I might as well try to be helpful.

Meeting Louis Darrul

Miranda was right, as usual. It wasn’t raining the next morning, though the forecast said thunderstorms later. So I bopped out, holding a mug of scalding coffee. I rather suspected I’d need the caffeine; and it’s handy as a weapon if the mug is big enough–or the coffee hot enough. I reasoned a crossbow firing toothpicks wasn’t likely to be out of coffee-flinging reach, either.

What? Yes, I do occasionally reason, my friends. Not often enough, to hear my exes talk, but hey, there’s a reason they’re ex.

Miranda: HELLO, DEAR.
Me: Good morning, Miranda. How are you?

(She, like me, prefers a little formality.)

Miranda: RATHER SHORT ON SLEEP. WE STAYED UP LATE, TALKING. BUT I’VE CONVINCED LOUIS TO MEET YOU, AT LEAST. HE IS…SOMEWHAT SHY.
Me: Im sure his habit of shooting at people doesn’t help.
Louis: THEY AIN’T PEOPLE, MA’AM.

Me: JESUS CHRIST.
Miranda: LANGUAGE, DEAR.
Louis: FUCK!
Miranda: *rather loudly* LANGUAGE!
Me: What the hell are you?
Miranda: LANGUAGE, DAMMIT!
Me: *shifting backward on my haunches, lifting my mug* Yeah, yeah, language. I repeat, who the hell are you, dude?
Louis: *eyeing my coffee mug warily* LOUIS DARRUL AT YER SERVICE, MA’AM.
Me: You’ve been shooting at my backyard residents?
Louis: FRIEND OF YOURS SENT ME.
Me: *bracing self, with a sinking sensation* Oh yeah? Who?
Louis: A MISS MEL. I WAS…WELL, HER CHICKENS ARE KIND OF…LOOK, I DIDN’T KNOW SHE KEPT THEM FOR EGGS, ALL RIGHT?
Me: *digging for my phone* Oh, hell no.
Miranda: IF YOU TWO ARE GOING TO USE IMPROPER LANGUAGE, TAKE YOUR CONVERSATION ELSEWHERE.
Me: *texting furiously* Miranda, you are the backyard oracle, and due respect, but for right now, my friend, shut up.
Louis: DON’T TALK TO HER LIKE THAT.
Me: I will settle your hash in a minute, Mr Darrul. Be quiet.

Now I shall present to you, my friends, an excerpt from the text conversation with my lovely, wonderful, mischievous writing partner, the Selkie.

Me: WHAT. THE FUCK. MEL.
The Selkie: What?
Me: You sent me a hillbilly with a crossbow?
The Selkie: Oh, yeah, him. He was irritating my chickens.
Me: FOR GOD’S SAKE.
The Selkie: What? You like zombie hunters.
Me: He thought your chickens were zombies?
The Selkie: It’s a long story. Enjoy.
Me: I swear I will get you for this.
The Selkie: *smiley face*

I stuck my phone back in my hoodie pocket and eyed the fellow. He eyed me right back, and his tiny finger twitched.

Me: Don’t even, dude.
Miranda: HE NEEDS A PLACE TO STAY.
Me: Oh, of course. Of course he does.
Miranda: IT’S NOT HIS FAULT, HIS HOME WAS OVERRUN BY–
Me: Oh, sure. Sure. I’ve got ceramic squirrels, a koala in a corset, a fucking Batman, what’s a psycho with a crossbow? Sure, great, wonderful, welcome to the goddamn backyard, Louis.

I was not very graceful at that point, I guess, but can you blame me? My nerves were somewhat shot. Miranda, thankfully, did not tell me to watch my language. I suspect she knew I would not take the suggestion kindly.

Louis: I WON’T MAKE NO TROUBLE, MA’AM.
Me: You are going to have to stop shooting at Willard. And at Joe.
Louis: WHO? YOU MEAN THE…BUT, MA’AM, THEY’RE UNDEAD.
Me: They are productive citizens of the backyard realm, sir.
Louis: …YOU SURE?

I tipped my head back, my jaw working. I could feel my teeth groaning under the strain.

Miranda: YOU SEE? DESPITE HER TEMPER, SHE IS A VERY GOOD RULER.
Me: I doubt I’m in charge here, Miranda.
Miranda: WELL, NOMINALLY, AT LEAST.
Me: *bringing my chin back down* I suppose I deserved that one.
Miranda: *quietly* YES, YOU DID.
Me: Okay. Fine. Sure, what the hell. If you stop shooting at Willard and Joe, Mr Darrul, you can stay.
Louis: WHAT ABOUT THE SQUIRRELS? THEM’S TASTY, AND A MAN’S GOTTA EAT.
Me: Oh, good Lord.

So I ended up gingerly closing my hand around Louis’s middle, trying to avoid the crossbow–

Louis: CAREFUL, WOMAN. THAT’S MAH KNIFE.
Me: I could hold you by your head.
Louis: *extremely quiet*
Miranda: VERY GOOD, THEN.
Me: Sorry for cussing, Miranda.
Miranda: THAT’S ALL RIGHT, DEAR. YOU WERE IN SOMEWHAT OF A SITUATION. OH, YOU’LL NEED BURN CREAM.
Me: For…? *standing up, a bit too quickly* Oh, fuck.
Miranda: THAT.
Louis: BE CAREFUL, DAMMIT!

I’d forgotten just how hot my coffee was. I swore all the way carrying him inside, ran my hand under cold water while swearing, and introduced him to Fred, George, and Tiny!Batman in a rather perfunctory fashion. George got him a cuppa, Fred clucked over the state of his boots, and Wendy did not take to him but she was polite.

Later, of course, I found out he really was a good ally in the event of squirrel attack. But that’s (say it with me) another story.

Moss, Miranda, Bactine

The Backyard Oracle

When we last spoke, dear Readers, I had decided to visit Miranda. It’s kind of hard to keep a straight face when you’re cleaning off a statue’s tatas, but I managed.

Miranda: THANK YOU, DEAR.
Me: *peeling moss from well-formed breasts* Miranda, someone’s shooting at Phil and Willard.
Miranda: JUST WILLARD.
Me: …okay. *brushing away dirt and polishing her shoulders* And Joe.
Miranda: YES, WILLARD AND JOE. THANK YOU, DEAR.
Me: And putting moss on you. *pointing at the dead campfire* And building fires.
Miranda: I BELIEVE HE THOUGHT I MUST BE COLD.
Me: *gathering all my patience* Miranda, he shot at me too. This isn’t good for the backyard community.
Miranda: NO, I SUPPOSE IT ISN’T.

That’s the thing about having an oracle in your backyard. They’re sometimes a little frustrating to talk to. At least there were no more crossbow bolts winging by. So I gathered my patience again.

Me: *brushing off her skirt* Miranda? Do you happen to know who this person is?
Miranda: OH YES, DEAR. IT’S LOUIS.
Me: *finally feeling like we’re getting somewhere* Lewis?
Miranda: NO, LOUIS. SPELLED FRENCH, PRONOUNCED OTHERWISE.
Me: How did you know I spelled…oh, never mind. Look, so where can I find this Louis-pronounced-otherwise? I really need to explain some things to him.
Miranda: I CAN INTRODUCE YOU, IF YOU’D LIKE. HE CAMPS HERE AT NIGHT, OFTEN.
Me: Good Lord. Okay. When?
Miranda: COME BY TOMORROW MORNING.
Me: *remembering weather report* It’ll be raining.
Miranda: NOT WHEN YOU COME BY. ALSO, YOU’RE OUT OF BACTINE.
Me: You mean I’m going to need it?
Miranda: *nods, smiling gently*
Me: Oh, fuck.
Miranda: LANGUAGE, DEAR.

As usual, she was right. (Don’t ask. It had to do with a frightened cat, Odd Trundles, and leftover spaghetti. I SAID DON’T ASK.) Not about the language, but about the…well, anyway, the next morning I checked the iron-clouded sky, sighed, poured more coffee, and sallied forth.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Under Fire

Me: What on earth–
Phil: DON’T ASK.
Willard: *grooooooan*
Me: Does this have anything to do with the little plastic crossbow–
Phil: I SAID DON’T ASK.
Me: But–
Phil: I’M JUST GONNA SAY, THERE’S SOMEONE GONNA GET HURT.
Me: *picks Willard up, gingerly* Oh dear. Are you hurt, sweetheart?
Willard: *mumbles incoherently*
Phil: *pops pebble in Willard’s mouth* YOU NEVER CALL ME SWEETHEART.
Me: You’re not helpless.
Phil: DAMN STRAIGHT. STAY INSIDE FOR A WHILE, OKAY?
Me: You know I can’t.
*whooshing sound*
Phil: WOMAN, GET INSIDE.
Me: *eyeing the tiny plastic crossbow bolt buried in beauty bark at Willard’s feet* This is…exotic. And you’re sexist.
Phil: *vanishes*
*a long yodel floats from the roof*
Willard: *moans around pebble*
Me: *trying to look everywhere at once* Oh, hell.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Canary Shed Finale

So, when last we spoke, dear Readers, I was crouched inside my shed while a squirrel danced on the roof.

Our shed has its idiosyncrasies, just like the house. I think part of the reason I fell in love with this place was that it seemed just as weird as our little family. (That, and the air-conditioning.) One of those little fiddles, as I mentioned, is the fact that the shed door will not close when the damn thing is unoccupied, but it will slam shut in a hurry if someone’s fool enough to pause inside. (Don’t tell me “it’s the floor.” That fucker is on a concrete slab.)

So the door, which had hit a hummock and shaken the entire structure, began to rebound, and I realized that soon I was going to be in the dark with a squirrel on the roof and dear God, how do I get myself into these sorts of situations?

Sheer genius, I guess. Anyway. True to form, the shed door began swinging closed. But what was this?

Oh, my dear Reader, I’ll tell you what it was.

Silence. Deathly silence, except for Emphysema Joe getting warmed up on a string of obscenities breathtaking in scope, style, and sheer vitriol. (I gather some of the roof detritus had slid off the roof and onto his poor wee head.)

Now, things happen very quickly after this. Bear with me.

Picture Your Humble Narrator crouching in close quarters, mildly surprised that she fits next to the lawnmower and far too close for comfort to the rake-and-catcher duo used to scoop up the dogs’ daily peristaltic offerings. Overhead are the rafters, full of implements which might be of use–cultivator, two business-sized shovels, pitchfork, you get the idea. There’s also the compost turner and the rake on the back wall, but getting there requires balletic contortions and for reasons that will soon become obvious, time was of the essence.

Now, as the silence deepens and the door begins to swing shut, imagine the gloom of the shed growing deeper, and imagine my face changing as I hear a skitter-stomp overhead. It may be dark inside there, but there’s nothing wrong with my ears, and said ears are busily triangulating the location of an arboreal rodent on the other side of far-too-thin sheet metal.

Skitter-stomp. Skitter-stomp. Skitterskitterskitter.

STOMP.

The door, suddenly weighted on its top edge with however-many-ounces of flying rodent, swung wide again.

Because you see, my dear Reader, Canary!Squirl had only vaguely remarked my presence, but she sure as shit noticed the door, and its top must have borne a striking resemblance to a moving branch she could use to catapult herself to some precarious safety elsewhere. Now, I’m sure a squirrel knows a lot about branches, and even more about leaves, and all there is to know about pinecones. I remain, and will definitely continue to my dying day, firmly convinced that no squirrel, no matter how intelligent, grasps the concept of hinges.

I can only surmise the door, momentarily confused by Schrodinger’s Tree-Rat being neither inside nor outside the shed, couldn’t decide what the fuck. Canary!Squirl’s application of force sent it careening outward at high speed, while she clung to the top. But then, well…remember that hummock? The one that charitably stops the door each time it’s flung wide?

Yeah.

Well, the door hit that collection of dirt, castoff cedar fingernails, pebbles, and what-have-you. And, confused even more by my presence inside the shed, the urge to close, the urge to continue on its outward way as kinetic energy demanded but the hummock halted, and Canary!Squirl’s sudden, hellish, and extremely loud scream, it opted for closing.

With a vengeance.

While I may not be blessed with much in the way of youth anymore, dear Reader, I do still retain some excellent reflexes. One of them is the quick darting motion of the hand for anything nearby that can serve as a weapon when my hindbrain decides enough is enough and there’s self-defense to be done.

I’ve told you about the rafters, and about the back wall of the shed. But on the left side as you come in is a small occasional table, one I used for my laptop many ages ago when I was in a small-desk phase. It holds smaller things one uses in gardening, right near the shed door for easy access. Things like, oh, you know. Gloves. Small clippers. A bulb-dropper. Plastic plant identification tags. The prospect of being locked in the shed with a crazed, screeching, anarchist tree-rat was not pleasant, to say the least. The door was closing quickly, the darkness was rising, and I had to ride into battle, so to speak.

I gained my full hominid upright stature with a lunge that would have made my old ballet teacher proud, pivoting on the ball of my left foot, and my right hand flickered out, closing around a rubbery handle. Veteran Lili, the part of me that has endured many a bar fight, was not quite finished, though. I was armed, after a fashion, but the old battlemonger in the back of my head made a number of calculations, looked at the results, tossed them out, did a few sums she liked better, and sprang into action without pausing to ask the rest of me (especially my executive functions) for an opinion or even a quorum.

In short, my dear Reader, I saw the ass end of a scrabbling squirrel clinging to the shed door and approaching at high speed, right about head level. My right knee came up, my foot pistoned out, and I heard one of my ex-boyfriends saying, softly, don’t kick it, kick THROUGH it. (Now he was a LOT of fun. Only time I ever dated a Marine, though. Once was enough.)

For once, friends and neighbors, when faced with a squirrel, the gods were on my side. It was a beautiful fucking kick, even if I did almost fall over onto the lawnmower and the dogshit-gathering tools at its end.

BAM.

Me: JESUS CHRIST!
Emphysema Joe: –AND I’M GONNA DENUDE YOUR TAIL LIKE BRIGITTE BARDOT WITH A POPSICLE, YOU PUNK!
Canary!Squirl: SKREEEEEEEEEE!

The door, now thoroughly confused but still subject to physics, made a hollow cracking sound and retreated from my sudden application of foot. Like I said, I almost fell over, saved myself just in time, and regained my balance with a lurch. My shoe flew off for the second damn time that day.

And the squirrel? Well, she clung to the top of the door, and for the umpteenth time, the hummock served its ordained purpose of stopping said door.

The Canary Anarchist, bold and brave, flew.

Over the fence.

Between two cedars.

Through small branches.

Across the neighbor’s yard.

And landed on the neighbor’s nice new deck.

Still screaming.

And that, dear Readers, is how I ended up hobbling out of my shed at high speed, searching for my shoe for the second time that morning. It wasn’t until I finally found said shoe that I realized I was holding a weapon.

Canary!Squirl: FIGHT! FIGHT YOU ALL!
Emphysema Joe: COME BACK HERE! COME BACK AND TRY IT!
Miss B and Odd Trundles: *inside the house, hearing strange sounds through my open bedroom window* MUM? MUM WHERE ARE YOU? WE ARE ASCAIRT!
Me: …sonofabitch.

I decided discretion was by far the better proportion of valor and hightailed it across the yard, stopping only to grab a poor coffee mug, thankfully unbroken, I luckily encountered along the way. I made it into the house, shut the patio door, and the dogs scrabbled out of my bedroom and down the hall to greet me, since I had clearly been gone for YEARS and they had waited PATIENTLY and now I was BACK and they had to tell me how SCARED they were without me and how GLAD they were I was back.

And, my dearest, most faithful and constant readers, I realized I was still armed. Want me to tell you with what?

Are you sure?

Okay.

With a tiny, handheld gardening shovel.

With all the adrenaline going on I barely needed a second dose of coffee, Miss B had forgotten all about the squirrel atop the shed, and Emphysema Joe is still upset about the lavender. The shed door will probably never be the same. Odd Trundles, of course, just wanted to know if the little shovel was food, and if it was, if it was intended for his gaping maw. I did see Canary!Squirl later that day, when I went out to close the damn shed and put the shovel away…

But that’s (say it with me) another blog post. I’m gonna count this particular interaction as a win, even if I did lose my shoe. (Twice.)

Thus ends the Ballad of Canary Shed.

The Penultimate of Canary Shed

My good intentions get me into trouble. We all know this.

So, just to bring you up to speed, there was the squirrel, the dogs, the crushed and fragrant lavender, a garden gnome so upset he was considering giving up pacifism, and just-barely-caffeinated-yours-truly. The first was making a lot of noise, the second were both shut inside and bemoaning the fact, the third was crushed (but would recover) the fourth is still muttering distinctly uncharitable things about “that crazy-ass girl”, and me? Well, first, I decided, I had to find my shoe.

Canary!Squirl: FIGHT YOU! FIGHT YOU ALL!
Emphysema Joe: THERE’S ONLY EMPTY SPACE BETWEEN US, CRAZYPANTS.
Me: *muttering* You are not helping, Joe.
Miss B: *behind the patio door* MUM! MUM! LET ME OUT! I’LL HELP! I’LL HEEEEERD IT LET ME OUT PLEEEEEEASE!
Odd Trundles: BORKBORKBORK! *from my bedroom window* OOOOH MUM I AM ALOOOOONE AND ASCAIRRRRT AND SOMEONE IS YELLING! BORKBORK!

I made it to my black slip-on shoe, thankfully right next to the concrete walkway, keeping a nervous eye on Canary!Squirl’s dancing. Emphysema Joe, well past the limits of even his patience, was all but frothing at the mouth. Willard and Phil, blinking blearily, peered around the fir to see what the rucks was, and Willard started to moan. Phil popped a pebble in Willard’s mouth–for a concrete zombie gnome, Will’s amazingly like a toddler–and cleared his throat.

Me: What?
Phil: THIS WON’T END WELL.
Me: Oh, now this is revealed unto you? How did she get up there, anyway?
Canary!Squirl: FIIIIIIGHT YOU! IIIIIIIII…WANNA BEEEEEEEEEEEE…AAAAAANARCHY!
Phil: I THINK SHE’S GIVING A CONCERT?
Odd Trundles: BORKBORKBORK ASCAAAAARIT MUUUUUUM…
Me: Have you seen my coffee mug?
Phil: WHAT?
Me: Never mind.
Emphysema Joe: YOU’RE OFF KEY, YOU PUNK WANNABE! COME DOWN HERE AND FIGHT IF YOU WANNA! I USETA BE A CONTENDAH!
Miss B: *throwing herself at patio door* MUM! MUM! I’LL PROTECT YOU! MUUUUUM!
Willard: MRPPPHBLEGRRRRP
Me: Oh, my God.

I dumped grass and pebbles out of my shoe, got it on, and stood up, somewhat shakily. I eyed the shed and the dancing, screaming squirrel, sticking my fingers in my ears to ameliorate the noise.

Then, deciding nothing about this was going to be simple, I edged across the yard. There were several problems to solve, but number one was getting to the shed door. That’s where all the shovels are, you see.

Now, if you read those last two sentences and said, “Lili. Honey. Don’t,” YOU WOULD BE RIGHT. You would be much smarter than I was at that point.

I had, you see, some hazy idea of getting a shovel, or finding something to make a squirrel-ramp out of, or something like that. Canary!Squirl made another attempt to leap into the fringe of the cedars and thudded back onto the shed roof, rattling both the sheet metal and, I suspected, every bit of rodent brain she possessed.

Canary!Squirl: AAAAAAANARCHYYYYYYY!
Emphysema Joe: IMMA CLIMB THIS WALL TO GET TO YOU, YOU–
Me: Watch yourself, Joe.
Emphysema Joe: DID YOU SEE WHAT SHE DID?
Me: You know Miss B gets excited–
Emphysema Joe: THE GODDAMN DOG AIN’T THE PROBLEM, MA’AM!
Me:
Canary!Squirl: FIGHT YOU! FIGHT YOU BOTH!
Me: Oh, Lord.

I gathered myself for a tricky bit of business. You see, in order to get into the shed, one has to kick away the rock holding the door closed, then open the door outward, then step into a dingy, spiderweb-festooned, Very Small and Crowded Space. The door has a habit of swinging closed when someone is inside, but open when nobody is–look, don’t ask me, it’s par for the course around here.

ANYWAY. The thought of being inside that cramped dark space with a wild squirrel loose on the roof was not appetizing, but if I was going to get the tools to get the damn squirrel off the roof, I had no choice.

That was, at least, what I thought.

So I braced myself, thought I should cross myself though I haven’t been Catholic in decades, glanced at Emphysema Joe–who was ranting something about knowing a few Hell’s Angels–and nervously at the shed roof, where Canary was making a fuckton of noise but, because of the angle, could not see me. (Or so I hoped.)

I made it under the shed eaves. Kicked away the rock, hunching as far as I could. I swung the door open, and I ducked inside. The door kept going–I may have used a little more force than necessary–and hit a hummock of dirt right at the edge of its arc. That, of course, shook the whole shed, even more than the dancing on the roof.

Which…stopped. And so did Odd’s yowling, which probably meant Miss B had trotted into the bedroom to boss him around, being unable to see me clearly anymore.

The sudden quiet was unnerving, to say the least. I found myself crouching next to our lawnmower, peering up at the shed rafters where the shovels (including the SHOVEL, brought from the other house, if you’ve read SquirrelTerror you know the one I’m talking about) are. Normally I stand in the doorway and lift one of the implements in the rafters down, but having a squirrel land on my head didn’t seem wise, right? Plus, there was the rake hanging on the back wall, and I had a hazy idea that might be a better choice for squirrel rescue, perhaps?

But…there was the sudden silence, and in it, I heard Emphysema Joe take in a startled breath. There was only one explanation: Canary!Squirl had noticed something.

That’s when things got…interesting.

…TO BE CONTINUED

The Ballad of Canary Shed, Part II

I ask you, my ever-faithful Readers, have you ever carried a very excited Australian shepherd up two flights of stairs while a squirrel screams imprecations from your shed roof and a garden gnome is using language he probably learned on a Grateful Dead tour?

…maybe I should back up.

So I compounded my error of opening the damn door by actually going down the stairs, and peering around the fir. It was too-early-o-clock for the amount of noise Canary!Squirl, on the shed roof, was managing to produce. I’m sure the neighbors already hate me, there was no need to add to it, right?

Not only was the goddamn squirrel screaming, and Emphysema Joe using language unfit for the gentleman he usually is, but Miss B was in what you’d call a perfect goddamn fury. She worked around the shed at top speed, busting through the kiwi vine on the south side, knocking over various stacked garden things, desperately seeking a way up to get to whatever was making that glorious, wonderful, oh-so-interesting noise.

I will admit, I stood there for a second, my pre-caffeine fog thinning but by no means lifted, gaping.

Canary!Squirl: FIRE! FLOOD! FUCKING ANARCHY!
Emphysema Joe: YOU STEP ON MY GREEN AGAIN IMMA RECONSIDER MAH PACIFISM, YOU GODDAMN–
Miss B: HEEEEEEEERD IT! HEEEEEEERD IT!
Odd Trundles: *sound drifting out my bedroom window* BORK BORK BORK ALERT ALERT LONELY SAD! WHY MUST BORK? BORK BORK BORK!

Part of herding is, of course, circling, which B was bound and determined to do, stopping every quarter-revolution or so to attempt launching herself at the roof. Each time, she was doomed to fail, so she would visibly decide circling was the best strategy, only to get overexcited and attempt again.

I made it cautiously across the yard, downing gulps of scorching coffee. Of course, I had the hazy idea that catching B’s ruff while juggling a full cup wasn’t optimal, but not enough horsepower to realize that maybe I should have just set the damn thing down. In any case, I was between one mouthful and the next, B landed in the lavender, Emphysema Joe began to really get warmed up, and Canary!Squirl made an amazing leap for a fringe of cedar branches hanging over the roof.

Miss B: HEEEEEEERD! HEEEEEERD!
Emphysema Joe: *spluttering curses*
Odd Trundles: WHY THERE NO MUM? ALOOOOOONE! ALOOOOOONE AND LONELY BORK BORK BORK!
Canary!Squirl: *splat*

That’s right, friends and neighbors. Her leap was a masterpiece of power and passion, but it…fell short. She landed on the roof with a hollow bong! that was hilarious. Or at least, it would have been if B hadn’t come around the corner again, intent on wrecking more of the lavender launchpad, and almost took my knees out from under me.

My coffee mug, thankfully empty, went flying. Emphysema Joe sucked in a horrified breath. I let out a “JESUS CHRIST!” worthy of Graham Chapman, almost fell onto a metal bar that had once held up deer netting (previous owners, I guess, thought we’d have suburban fawns? I don’t even know) and Canary!Squirl, suddenly conscious of our presence, began to scream afresh.

Canary!Squirl: I’LL FIGHT YOU ALL TOGETHER! I’LL FIGHT YOU ONE AT A TIME! ANNNNNNAAAAAAARCHYYYYYYYYY!
Miss B: YOU HEEEEEERD TOOO MUM HEEEEEEERD GET IT!
Emphysema Joe: HOLY FUCKNUGGETS AND DOLLY PARTON, YOU OKAY?
Odd Trundles: *still in my bedroom* MUM? MUM IS THAT YOU? MUM I’LL SAVE YOOOOOOOU!
Me: *using “fuck” as every other syllable, and every part of speech, too*

I managed not to get stabbed by my own garden architecture, braced myself, and caught Miss B by the scruff on her next round. Barking hysterically, she was not amenable to being dragged by said scruff all the dim-damn way across the yard, nor was I particularly enamored of that strategy. The only other thing I could think of was getting my legs underneath me and my arms around her, and picking her up like a shepherd with a particularly naughty sheep.

I will spare you the details of the language I used, the language Canary!Squirl used, and the horrified moaning that commenced from Emphysema Joe as he began to take stock of the smooshed green. I shall also spare you the details of how I lost a shoe, staggering across said yard with an excited, wriggling, extremely flexible and motivated 50lb+ Aussie in my arms. I have a bruise on my hip from hitting one side of the stairs on the way up, fell on the landing and managed to keep hold of her, got her to the door, had to put her down and sink my fingers in her ruff to free a hand and get the door open, then toss her inside.

Odd Trundles: MUM? MUM IS THAT YOU? MUUUUUM I’M ASCAIRT! BORK BORK BORK!
Miss B: *scrabbling at patio door* LET ME AT IT! LET ME AT IT! I ALMOST HAD IT! I HEEEEERDED IT!
Emphysema Joe: JUST LOOK AT THIS. JUST LOOK AT THIS MESS.
Canary!Squirl: THAT’S RIGHT MOTHAFUCKAS, ANARCHY IN THE BACK YARD!
Me: …I liked that mug.

I collapsed outside the patio door and gathered what little wit I could lay claim to.

Damage: Bruised hip, hiccups (all tasting of coffee), torn fingernail (I don’t even know), possibly broken coffee mug (goddammit), crushed lavender (that’s fine, it’ll give Joe something to do), lost shoe somewhere in the yard (why me, God, why me?), possibly insane squirrel (is there any other kind, I’m wondering?) still on shed roof, neighbors no doubt awake and cursing me roundly, and dog slobber all over my arms and pyjama top.

*sigh*

I won’t deny I sat there for a few moments, feeling utterly unequipped to deal. But if there’s one thing motherhood has taught me, it’s that dealing is not optional. You don’t have a choice, especially when you suspect that crazy-ass squirrel might not be able to get down under her own power. Besides, I had to go find my mug anyway, right?

So I made my third bad decision of that morning, my dear Readers.

I made up my mind that a squirrel rescue was in order.

TO BE CONTINUED…

photo by: Alex E. Proimos