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…

The Ballad of Canary Shed

Morning. I am absorbing my coffee at the dining table and thinking about the day’s work–another fifty pages of revisions is my short-term goal. I swear to all the gods I intended a hundred a day, but this book is…crunchy. And complex.

ANYWAY, all of a sudden, there is a noise.

Not your average noise, no. Not even a regular morning noise, like Odd Trundles’s back end terrifying him with a sudden trumpet blast, Miss B chewing on one of her paws while she looks blankly at me and wonders when the hell we’re getting out the door, car doors slamming as neighbors set out for work, or (when the wind is from the east) a train whistle or (when the wind is from the west) chimes and playground noise from the local elementary school.

No, this was more like…a gong. And claws.

Me: What the fuck?
Miss B: I HEAR SOMETHING! ALERT! BORK!
Odd Trundles: *startled out of a sound sleep* HUHWHUH? DANGER! ALERT! *snortwhistle* BORK BORK BORK!
Me: *cannot hear anything*

I made it to my feet, temporarily deafened but still possessing enough mental horsepower to triangulate the sound. Peering out the door to the deck, I can’t see anything amiss, so I made a terrible decision.

That’s right. I opened the door.

In my defense, I was only partially caffeinated and Miss B was producing a lot of noise. Odd, still ensconced on my bed, began to get a little worked up. He is used to following Miss B’s lead, and of course, if she’s barking he has to, but he was All Alone and I did not immediately come into the room to soothe him. Plus, I think he’d gotten turtled on his side or back, sprawled amid my pillows.

Miss B was out the door like a shot, and I belatedly realized that was not my smartest move. I checked to make sure I had footwear and shuffled out onto the deck, cradling my coffee protectively. Miss B scrabbled down the stairs and set off for the far back corner of the yard. I couldn’t see much, because the fir was in the way. I weighed the advisability of just going back inside and waiting for Miss B to…

Oh, hell no, I couldn’t. I just could. not. She’s a lovely dog, my companion and buddy, but she does not make good choices.

I still couldn’t see from the landing, but I began to get a sinking sensation, because the claws-on-metal sound had returned, and the only thing in that quarter was…

…the shed.

Our shed.

I peered around the fir, and my worst fear was realized.

It was Canary!Squirl, and she was atop the sheet metal roof. Perhaps she’d fallen from the overhanging cedars, or just wanted to explore. In any case, now she was there, and stood with squirrel-arms akimbo, and two things occurred to me at once.

First, Miss B was going to flatten the lavender, and already Emphysema Joe was cussing.

And second, I could see how Canary!Squirl had dropped onto the shed, but I could not, for the life of me, see how she could possibly get down.

…TO BE CONTINUED

Revisions, and Canary

Traffic on a highway at night
© Adam36 | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Well, I’m awake. Or at least, vertical. And about to start revisions.

This book is having a…difficult…birth, to say the least. I’m almost at the point of crying with sheer frustration, but not quite. I mean, why bother revising when the publisher has told you they don’t even want the damn book? Because I’m a professional, that’s why. *fumes a little*

You can tell my mood is less than sweetness and light this morning. Also, there’s this happy horseshit–Amazon, as usual, doing everything but the right thing. But you all know my feelings on that.

The squirrels in the cedars are at war with those in the firs. There is much chittering and throwing of pinecones, and already this morning a dead branch carrying a tree-rodent plummeted to earth. Slightly stunned, the rodent–oh, let’s call her Canary–rolled out into the yard, and lay there for a few moments.

Drawn by the noise, I stood in my office window, and nervously checked to make sure I was wearing shoes. Miss B was also very interested, doing her best to get her paws on the windowsill. Unfortunately, it’s too high for her, but she chose the next best thing, bracing her paws on my hip and DEMANDING to be told what in the many canine hells was happening.

Miss B: WHAT IS IT MUM WHAT IS IT OH TELL ME TELL ME PLEASE
Me: It’s, uh, a squirrel. Ow. Stop it.
Miss B: OOOOOH I CAN HEEEEERD IT PLEASE PLEASE…
Me: I think it’s dead?
Miss B: I’LL STILL HEEEEEERD IT!
Me: No. Get down.
Canary!Squirl: MOTHERFUUUUUUUUUUCKERS!
Miss B: *drops to all fours, looks up at me with her head cocked* …WHAT WAS THAT?
Me: *taking a sip of my coffee, glad I’m not outside* Oh dear.
Canary!Squirl: IMMA COME BACK UP THERE AND YOU’LL BE SORRY!

The squirrels in the firs went silent. The ones in the cedars, however, did not quite get the memo. Canary staggered to her feet, shaking her wee rodent head, and I was heartened that she was at least moving. Maybe I wouldn’t have to bury YET ANOTHER SMALL ANIMAL in the rose garden.

She bolted for the back fence, and twenty minutes of screaming, shaking, claws on bark, and a very interested Australian shepherd still trying to reach my office window later, the battle is still ongoing. Girl has stamina. But the squirrels in the firs are deadly quiet.

I think they’re waiting to see how this all pans out…

Getting Older

Cow mouth 1
© Lisavan | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Up a little late, nosed out of bed by an Australian shepherd who was extremely sure I was supposed to be ambulatory before I was quite ready for such an event. She also “helped” me all the way through yoga, hip-checking me when I almost fell asleep in Child’s Pose. Her nose was on my knee all during French and Spanish at breakfast, and she snored all through the sit-down Latin lesson. When I begin my pacing and reading Caesar, no doubt she’ll herd me around my office.

She’s very excited at the prospect of a run today, can you tell? Yesterday I took her along for 5K, very soft and easy, and she was so thrilled she dragged me half the time and tried to slow me the other half, especially when Other Dogs showed up.

She’s neutral on humans (except her own) but she cannot resist other dogs. Odd Trundles is just the opposite–he will schnorgle a new human until the cows come home, and has only met one or two he doesn’t care for, but other dogs fill him with slow, wheezing rage. Except Miss B. I’m not sure why he’s so upset by other canines, since he was socialized to a fare-thee-well, but there it is. He even likes squirrels better than other dogs.

Speaking of which, there were two juvenile Rodentia Arborea doing their level best to tear down the cedars along the back fence yesterday afternoon, which filled both dogs with excitement. I checked to make sure I was wearing shoes and watched, openmouthed, from the deck as they scurried back and forth, shaking branches and sending a cascade of detritus down upon a barking Odd and a leaping, extremely athletic Miss B, who wanted to get her ass up into the branches to herd those small, silly sheep. She landed on Odd twice before he got the bright idea to retreat to the upper garden boxes, where he began to run in circles and bark loudly. Miss B kept going, back and forth along the fence, stopping only to throw herself to whatever altitude her haunches could catapult her weight to.

Needless to say, when they both calmed down, they were filthy. Just a single day after I washed Trundles, too. *sigh* There was a quick brushing to rid them of cedar bits before I dragged them inside. Of course Miss B viewed the brushing as a reward for her doughty performance, and trotted around the rest of the day with her skirts swishing and her ears held high.

The upshot of all this is that they’re both moving relatively slowly this morning, and Odd is exceedingly cranky. He may need a muscle relaxer, the little idiot. Miss B is in a particular stage of almost-elderly-irritation that will no doubt reach epic levels once I leave the house for a run alone.

They’re both getting older, these sweet, silly dogs. Odd doesn’t mind so much, being a creature of sedentary habits, but Miss B doesn’t understand why she can’t run like she used to, or why she gets so tired after a quarter-hour of attempting to scale cedars in pursuit of a herd of juvenile tree-rats. The inevitable codicil to this is that their lives are short, but will be comfortable and full of interesting things.

And with that sobering thought, I’m out the door for a run. Caesar can wait until I come back.

Lucky

lucky

I’m lucky. So lucky.

Nobody threw anything. Nobody yelled. Nobody told me I should have been aborted or that I ruin everything for everyone. Nobody twisted my arm behind my back, slapped me, pinched me, throttled me or used a belt on me.

Instead, my phone was full of happy texts and my inbox was full of emails from people who, despite everything, apparently like me. My children are both healthy (well, they both have a cold, but that’s small potatoes) and affectionate, and they deliberately spent the after-dinner food coma time in the living room with me. The dogs were ecstatic at the advent of ham in their dinner bowls. There was enough food, it was quiet and calm, the roof kept the rain out, and when I went to bed, shaky from residual holiday stress, I knew I’d survived another one.

Not only survived, but actually had a pleasant time. Each holiday season that passes, the stress is a little less.

If you’re in recovery from toxic family, you’re not alone. It’s okay to protect yourself, and arrange your life so the toxicity won’t overwhelm you. You’re not required to give your attention and emotional energy to people who behave badly.

Over and out.