Squirrel vs Pole, Part III

I have never outlined a book before; the most I do, about a third of the way into a particularly challenging project, is put some highlights in brackets further down the document to ignore when I get to those particular events. But apparently, there’s a portal fantasy with a love triangle in my head that wanted an outline, so I spent yesterday afternoon switching between housework and getting the skeleton of a brand-new trilogy out of my skull.

As procrastination and a “day off” goes, it wasn’t too bad.

Anyway, I was telling you about squirrels and Crisco.

When last we spoke, Preggers McGee (who, if she is not gestating, puts on a grand appearance of it) had shown Batgirl just how the getting of birdseed was done. Batgirl nosed at the falling seeds, casting nasty glances up the bird feeder pole, and Olsen Twins probably thought he’d gone to squirrel heaven, where manna in the form of No-Waste Birdseed falls from the sky.

I stared, mouth slightly open, and the Princess exhaled in wonder. The Prince flinched when Preggers’s hind claws slipped. “I don’t like this,” he said, darkly…

…right before said hind claws gave out, and Preggers hung from the heretofore-unplundered bird feeder, her back legs scrabbling for purchase. If you can imagine a furry, rage-spitting piñata made of arboreal rodent and scattering shrapnel far and wide, well, you’ve pretty much got the idea.

“Oh, shit–” the Princess and I chorused, and Preggers McGee fell.

The Little Prince winced again, this time in sympathy. But Preggers didn’t splat on the decking.

Oh, no. Instead, this gravid squirrel curved in midair, as if to perform Batgirl’s signature cat-in-a-cartoon trick, and landed, with a thump that shook the entire deck…

…right upon Batgirl.

“Oh, no!” I gasped.

“HOLY SHIT,” the Princess weighed in at the same moment.

“BE CAREFUL!” the Little Prince yelled.

“…be careful?” the Princess enquired, a half-beat afterward.

Then the squirrels exploded.

Wigs came off. Heels went flying. Hair was pulled. Olsen Twins, seeking safety in distance, scurried away with a full mouth, squeezed through the deck railing, and ran up a handy fir trunk. Squeak-screams of “BITCH THAT’S MAH POLE” and “YOU ASSHOLE” echoed through the backyard. My fork clattered into my bowl, because both my hands clapped over my mouth. The Princess half-rose, watching with her eyebrows fully lifted.

“STOP IT,” the Little Prince yelled, thinking he could restore order through sheer volume or just excited, I guess. “MOM! THEY’RE FIGHTING!”

“I know, honey,” I managed to say, muffled by my hands. Had I more time, I might have warned him not to underestimate the hormones in even a pregnant squirrel, but there wasn’t a moment to make such an observation.

Because Preggers, slightly slower because of the extra burden in her swollen belly, was simply not having any of this bullshit. Not only had she landed on a convenient pillow, but she was motivated, which all added up to one thing.

She whupped Batgirl’s fuzzy ass.

Batgirl made for the same fir trunk Olsen Twins had scampered up, but Preggers wasn’t finished. She got hold of Batgirl’s tail and climbed the the other squirrel’s back like a rodeo rider crossed with Spiderman and lit with napalm. Birdseed flew, spattering the French door, and we all flinched in unison.

Batgirl finally escaped, and Preggers strutted around the bird feeder pole, chittering some version of “THAT’S RIGHT, MOTHERFUCKERS, I GOT A FAMILY TO FEED, DON’T FUCK WITH ME!”

“And she’s pregnant,” the Princess breathed, sinking back into her chair. “Wow.”

“I felt like that a few times, carrying you two.” I finally dropped my hands. The deck was a mess, coated with wasted birdseed, because the squirrels like the bigger bits and the birds don’t want to be on the deck floor cleaning that up with the Mad Tortie staring through said French door at them.1 That’s just a step too far for their little prey-wired nervous systems. “Jesus Christ, what a mess.”

“You know, you could probably move the pole…” the Little Prince said, nervously.

“That would mean they win,” I said, darkly. “I’ve got another idea.” We watched Preggers complete her victory laps and stuff herself with enough birdseed for herself and her passengers, then she scampered off into the dusk.

And I, once my pasta was finished, headed for the kitchen cabinets.



Two Black Rhino running leashes, two Ruffwear harnesses, one locking carabiner from my climbing days, and we finally have a solution for two active, inquisitive dogs at once. I really like the Black Rhino leashes; I just wish they made a dual one with a thicker belt. That’s a small quibble–with the carabiner, the leashes can be kept at the small of my back, which means I can use my body weight to shift both of them at once.

Sir Boxnoggin loves walkies almost as much as he loves running. You can see him yearning for the fire hydrant, eager to lift his leg and tell the world he was here. Miss B, on the other hand, sticks close unless there’s another dog to be seen, in which case she wishes to make acquaintance in the worst way and is in danger of teaching Lord van der Sploot bad habits. Our next walk will include a small spray bottle for deterrence purposes.

It’s always something. But we got a good walk, Sir Boxnoggin is happily splayed on the hall floor to cool down, and all is (mostly) serene in the land of Canine.

Have a good weekend, chickadees.

Squirrel vs. Pole, Part II

Settled in for dinner the night after Batgirl and Olsen Twins discovered the glory of the bird feeders, we were all expecting a repeat performance. Despite the mess the dashing duo made, I was even mildly amused at the prospect.

My amusement lasted until we were mid-dinner, then turned to something close to terror. The Princess looked up–her seat gives her a clear view of the deck–and her eyes widened. “Uh, Mum,” she said, conversationally, “there’s three of them.”

At first I thought she meant three Olsen Twins, since we were discussing the previous evening’s bird feeder antics, and I was momentarily confused. Then I turned my head, and saw Batgirl shimmying casually up the pole. She grabbed with her back feet, stretched out as if gravity had been momentarily turned off for all plump genius-gymnast squirrels, caught the left-hand bird feeder in her front paws, and proceeded to begin her own snacking.

“Son of a bitch,” I said, and the Little Prince, as usual, giggled.1 There were, indeed, three of them.

The new arrival was somewhat portly, or so I thought before she sat back on her haunches, watching Batgirl with great interest, and showed rows of enlarged teats down either side of her swelling torso.

“Huh,” I said. “I think she’s expecting.”

“Expecting what?” the Little Prince wanted to know.2

“Mom means knocked up.” The Princess glanced at me. “Uh, pregnant.”

“If she isn’t, she’s doing a good imitation.” I wondered if squirrels were supposed to be spawning in midsummer, or if she was a late bloomer, or if I was wrong and she was just a particularly successful birdseed thief.

The world may never know.

Anyway, Preggers McGee (for so I christened her, making the Princess almost irrigate her nose with mirth-pressurized milk) watched until Batgirl had her inevitable slip. Batgirl did the same “fall, halt in midair, turn feet towards ground, land like a ton of bricks” she’d done the previous evening, and Preggers hopped down from the deck railing, shouldered a grazing Olsen Twins aside, and gave Batgirl an arch look.

“HONEY, TAKE A REST,” Preggers cheeped, and launched herself at the pole.

Have you ever seen a maybe-gravid squirrel pole dance? I’m here to tell you, my friends, it’s a helluva thing. She twisted. She turned. She held on with one hand while the rest of her spun like a propeller. In short, she showed Batgirl that while female youth and inexperienced is glorified in our culture, it’s experience and grit that gets you the birdseed.

In short, she made it to the top of the pole, where two metal arches blossomed, ending in the hooks from which the bird feeders depended. The pole swayed slightly, a windchime on one of the lower arms giving out a mournful tinkle, and a patter of birdseed fell.

“Oh, shit,” I breathed.3 But I needn’t have worried–at least, not yet.

Preggers balanced atop the pole, threw Batgirl a smirk, and shimmed down a little so she could brace herself against where the arches joined the central pole. She stretched, a ponderous taffy-loop of squirrel, and reached the bird feeder Batgirl hadn’t managed to plunder (yet). A shower of birdseed fell, and Olsen Twins was singing hosannas of joy to this new savior.

Batgirl, however, was less than pleased.


Squirrel vs Pole, Part I

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.


Meet Sir Boxnoggin

Miss B was inconsolable after Odd Trundles left. She kept circling the house looking for her poor squat almost-sheep, in order to herd him. She was moping so hard she wouldn’t eat, and even running didn’t seem to wear her out enough to rest. She would come home from a run and circle the house obsessively, checking all his usual sleeping spots, attempting to round up the cats so she could count them–as if he’d be hiding among them.

Eventually, the kids asked if we could go to the shelter and get her a friend. She was even beginning to chew at certain spots of herself, tufts of hair pulled free, and that was a bad sign.

So, one extremely warm day, Miss B and I went to Southwest Humane Society1. And lo, there was the perfect companion waiting.


Meet Sir Boxnoggin, Lord van der Sploot. Like any energetic three-year-old, he enjoys chasing squirrels (oh, my God, does he ever) and wrestling with B. He’s from Texas, and had a bit of a rough life before landing at Chez Saintcrow–rough enough that they called him “shy” at the shelter, though he was definitely not shy when it came time to meet B.


You can clearly see the van der Sploot in his heritage, right? Anyway, he has settled into the household as if he’s been here all along, barring some flinching at loud noises and requiring the usual calm and reassurance any dog with a  hard past does. His chase drive is at least as high as Miss B’s, which makes for some interesting times in the backyard.

As for cats, well, they have the whole downstairs where Lord van der Sploot is not allowed to go. The Mad Tortie and Madame A are unhappy with this turn of events, but we must all make compromises to live. Fearless!Cat, being damn near eleven years old, could not care less as long as her feeding schedule remains the same.

Miss B is extremely happy with this turn of events and the kids are ecstatic. I feel a little guilty at having another dog so soon after Odd, and it’s strange not to have to arrange my whole life around said dog’s medical care. He doesn’t require Odd’s anti-seizure measures OR constant vet visits, and the resultant freeing up of time gave me the decompression fits.

So. Please welcome Sir Boxnoggin, my friends. He tried to go straight up a fir trunk this morning to make a further acquaintance with the squirrel we’ve dubbed Olsen Twins.


I think he’s going to fit in just fine.

A Dark Day-Eye

These fellows caught my attention at the garden shop yesterday. I brought none of them home, having learned the hard way that “full sun” is not something one gets with seventy-year-old fir trees hanging around. But it was nice to talk to them, to see all the green things…and to get an iron trellis for a certain part of the yard. I almost got a hydrangea vine to put on said trellis, since those do all right in shade, but in the end thinking of digging another hole in that corner undid me and I left with supplies but not a single plant.

It had to happen sooner or later. There weren’t even any sad little lumps on the clearance racks begging for a home. I’m grateful, I suppose–I am full-up on save-this-poor-soul projects at the moment.

Have a good weekend, dear Readers, and I hope you find something beautiful during it.

Short Hiatus

Good morning, dear Readers. I trust your weekend went, if not splendidly, then at least well. It was incredibly hot, and quite uncomfortable, but they say yesterday was the worst of it. I am left just hoping the weatherpeople are right.

I’m taking a couple days off my regular blogging schedule in order to let things settle a bit. Changes are afoot chez Saintcrow.

In the meantime, I’ll be around occasionally on Mastodon and Twitter. Odd’s last vet bills were considerable, so if you’ve wanted to pick up a subscription or one of my books, now would be an excellent time. (Leaving a review or even just a star rating at the platform of your choice would also be most welcome, if you’re so inclined.)

See you in a little while, chickadees.