Six planets are retrograde, the heat is giving everyone a short temper and rashes, politics are a never-ending hellscape, a publisher is expecting me to be on time while they drag their feet, irrational guilt is having a picnic inside my head, and even running in the cool of morning is bringing little relief.
It’s almost enough to rob me of any joy at all, even in things that are normally reliable like snoot-boops or chocolate. Dinner last night was grilled cheese, because neither the kids nor I could deal with anything more complex.
Sir Boxnoggin continues to settle in. The squirrels are furious with me over the Crisco–wait, let me back up.
Okay. So, after we re-stained the deck earlier this summer, I had the bright idea of putting bird feeders on a metal stand that had heretofore only held plants and windchimes. The birds found this new largesse acceptable, and it was nice to sit on the deck and read while flying dinosaurs pecked and chirped.
Then, of course, the squirrels found out.
So one evening, while we were all at dinner, the Princess looked up and blurted out, “Oh, no.” My head whipped to the side, and I saw a skinny, very agile, nervous squirrel we’ve since christened “Olsen Twins”1 attempting, with death-defying aplomb, to hold the central pole with its back paws while reaching the bird feeder with his front.
He failed. Spectacularly. Several times.
You know who did not fail? Batgirl.
Batgirl is a rounder, much brighter squirrel. She shouldered Olsen Twins out of the way, shimmied casually up, and began to help herself from the feeders like a pole dancer bored by her athletic routine and eating Corn Nuts while hanging upside down.
“Son of a bitch,” I breathed, and the Little Prince began to laugh a trifle nervously.
We watched, our own dinner growing cold, as Batgirl’s back feet slipped. She hung from the feeder by all fours, lost her grip, and did an amazing catlike “let’s get our feet under us before we land” maneuver, landing with a thump that rattled the deck. Undeterred, she shimmied right back up, held the pole with her back claws, and proceeded to stretch like a Slinky while stuffing her face. Below, Olsen Twins cleaned up anything that fell, which is probably why he hangs around with Batgirl in the first place.
Finally, having stuffed themselves to the gills, both squirrels scampered off to digest their ill-gotten gains. The Princess nervously advanced the notion that perhaps bird feeders on the deck were a bad idea, but I shook my head.
“Oh, no,” I said, calmly. “Now it’s personal.”
“Shit,” the Little Prince muttered, and went back to his pasta.
The rest of dinner passed without event, and I went to Google determined to learn about squirrels and bird feeders.
The next night, things got a little…bizarre.
TO BE CONTINUED…