Untitled Ode

Posted in Uncategorized on April 30, 2016 by susansimsmoody

Spring served notice on Winter this morning with its sneak-attack, blue-white sky
With its sunrise arrival far-earlier than before
With its songbird sonata outside the windowsill
Even before the darkness of yesterday became gray and then white and then

Spring accosted Winter today with its fly-in-your-face, swirling and whipping about
With its garish neon yellow signs, blinking and buzzing
With all its hot air and pomp and circumstance, clashing against Winter’s last cold shoulder
Even when Winter knew it was the final round and then

Spring scared Winter away this evening with one helluva pyrotechnic light show and cannon blast
With its threats and its passion lurking in the darkness
With its lumbering, near-slumbering, stumbling black wooliness and attitude in the backyard
Climbing up out of her hibernation
Her vacation
Her nap
Terrible twos in tow

Spring upstaged Winter today, and tomorrow promises a reprise
Strutting and fretting, heralding the change
Rejoicing in Winter’s retreat – no return in sight
Sloughing off layers and exposing new life

Spring arrived today
And I, 
beleaguered
Besieged
Beset
Bedeviled
By its sibling season,
Am glad

I’ll Fly Away

Posted in Kids, Stupid Stuff I've Done on November 27, 2012 by susansimsmoody

My family and I made a long-anticipated trip to Europe this summer, right before school started back for the children. This is one of the benefits of my husband traveling as much as he does for work. You see, he earns hotel and airline miles like crazy by living away from home. Diamond status. Platinum Elite Sky Plus. Whatever you want to call it. People at hotels across America know my husband by name.  The TSA agents at MSP greet him with a friendly “Roll Tide.” I am not joking.

And so it follows, that as he accumulates points and miles, our family reaps the benefit of getting to travel for an extremely reduced price.  Hence, my children argue over whether they’ve seen this particular Sky Club or that one.  It is a far cry from arguing about which Waffle House is just like the one at which they ate breakfast. “It’s in Odessa.”

But this summer was the first trip out of the country. We applied for passports for the kiddos.  Sister’s came relatively quickly, and Brother’s was about ten days behind hers.  Bureaucracy, right?

We packed very carefully. We did not want to exceed our baggage limit and ruin the free-ness of the trip.  Sister and Brother packed in one bag. I got a bag. The hubby got a bag, and my sweet mother-in-law who came with us (God bless her) got a bag.  Then I packed one little carry-on with clothes for when we arrived in Paris at 8:00 am the next morning. We were golden.

We arrived at MSP and immediately checked our bags. The lady at the sky elite plus super-star line wanted to confirm our passports.  Groovy. Then she wanted to look at brother. Wha? Okee dokee. She smiled, asked where his luggage was, and we told her it was combined with Sister’s.  She was good with that.  Onward to the gate.

We got to spend some time in the fru-fru lounge since we had arrived painfully early. And when it was about fifteen minutes before boarding, we appeared at the gate. The gate agent was quite relieved.  Where was Brother, they wanted to know.  GAH! He’s right here, all 48 inches and 52 pounds of him.  I was starting to get a complex. They were satisfied, and we sat down to wait for priority boarding.

Within minutes we were stopped again. Brother tried to scan his boarding pass.  What’s this? He’s held up.  Nobody else is. Just Brother.  Needless to say, we caused a little back log there in the boarding process.  Where were his bags, the gate attendant wanted to know. So we went over it again. Finally satisfied, we were on our way.

Just a few more hitches in Cincinnati, and at last we boarded our FREE flight to Paris for 8 fabulous days in FREE hotels! How fun was this going to be?  Well, we had a blast.  We walked and ate and saw the sights. We climbed the Arc de Triomphe, the Tour Eiffel.  My queen of a mother-in-law watched the kids, bartered peace treaties between them, and was otherwise a joy to have around. The food was spectacular. The weather was divine. The lodging was beyond expectation. But it all had to end.

And as we journeyed back across the pond, we landed on sweet US terra firma to the raised eyebrows of TSA and customs agents. People spoke into their epaulet radios. They touched their ear pieces and spoke to no one we could see.  “No, this is not the one,” several agents confirmed over and over again. Then I began to puzzle through what was  happening. A simple question to the final border patrol agent confirmed it. My son shares a name, letter-for-letter with someone on a known-terrorist watch list.  Ah. So now we know what all the fuss was about as we were leaving the country.

So Thanksgiving rolls around, and we ante up and (gasp) BUY plane tickets to Nashville to see family and friends.  We get through security in MSP without much hassle.  We visit folk in Birmingham and Childersburg.  We stop in Cullman and buy grits and ham to bring back to the frozen north.  We visit folk in Columbia and Kingston Springs.  And then we head back to BNA.

But wait. What’s happening? Stopped again at security? We PROMISE he is not the known-terrorist on the watch list. Despite the fact that he has a 3 pound bag of grits in his carry-on luggage that may or may not look like explosives.

Oooh, that smell

Posted in Dogs on October 24, 2012 by susansimsmoody

So, this is what it has come down to. This is a summation of my life with animals: “What is that smell? Can anyone else smell that? Gosh, I hope my house has not become “that” house that always smells like animal. Where’s the Febreeze? Where’s the Carpet Fresh? Where’s the Lysol? For Pete’s Sake! Will SOMEBODY clean the cat box?”

I have always had a bionic nose. Even through years of allergies, living in the South, living in Nashville (an especially rotten place for allergies in the South), and the depressing pits of sinus disease, I could still smell. My brother-in-law once said that I could smell dog poo on the shoe of the guy in the car next to us at 65 miles an hour. Okay. Maybe he said that about my sister. I think the bionic nose runs (pun intended) in the family.

I don’t store my drinking glasses upside down in the kitchen cabinet. Why? Because then the glass smells like kitchen cabinet. And that does not go well with the taste of milk or merlot, coffee, tea, or Diet Mt. Dew. My husband scoffs at me. But he humors my insanity, and even though he was raised to store the glasses upside down, he puts them away right-side up.

When I was pregnant my sense of smell ramped up from bionic to I don’t-know-what. Wonder Twin Powers, maybe? Form and shape of a water buffalo (stinky and with a bad attitude). There are studies that indicate that morning sickness is a direct result of a heightened sense of smell. That is why I had all-day-sickness for the first six months of both pregnancies.  It was August. The baby was due in November. I’m pulled over on the side of Nonconnah Parkway in Collierville, TN three times a week, losing my lunch.  And I still gained more than sixty pounds. I have no explanation for this.

Back in 2008 I had sinus surgery, and after a week of torturous breathing, the fabulous doc finally removed the splints and packing from my nose. And without being too disgusting, let me just say that for a week I had these things that resemble the blades of plastic knives sewn into both sides of my septum, and I think there was a roll and a half of something akin to Saran Wrap shoved all the way into the darkest, inner recesses of my psyche.  Not just my sinuses.  My psyche.

So, when the fabulous doc removed these treasures from my schnozzle, I discovered that I could smell EVEN better than I could before.  Friends: this is not a gift. It was exciting at first to be reminded that the mail has a smell, to get a whiff of roses through the air conditioning vents of my car as I pull into the garage (and the rose bed is in the back yard). Amazing.

But then you discover it’s not all mail and roses. It’s foreign, unnamed smells that seem to be much more prevalent.

“Honey, I think there’s something dead in the wall in the stairs to the basement.”

“Why?”

“I can smell it. Can’t you?”

“No.”

And then standing there in the stairwell, both my husband and I, sniffing.  The dog (who is crazy) thinks we’re crazy. Except, clearly she smells it too.  Apparently she’s smelled it for so long now that it is old news. She’s identified it (sniff: squirrel, no doubt; sniff: 2 years old; sniff: probably light grey with some tan markings; sniff: dead two weeks) and moved on with her life of barking at ceiling fan shadows and staring intently at scratchings sounds in other walls that go unheard by human ears. Just wait.  She’ll smell it soon, she thinks.

We have green carpet in our house.  I did not choose the carpet. I will not replace it until I absolutely have to.  It hides dirt really well. The flip side of this is that it also hides other things, like doggy indiscretions.  At least to the naked eye.  The naked nose, not so much. (It does not hide white cat fur. Cats. Shed. Everywhere.) And I tell you, I live in Wisconsin with dogs that spent the majority of their lives in the South.  That first snow fall hits, and I am literally picking them up and physically putting those critters out of doors every two hours to try to avoid the inevitable.  Break out the steam cleaner. It smells good for about an hour.

“Honey, do you smell that?”

“What?”

“That smell.”

We stand in the hallway and sniff.

“No.”

But the dog smells it.  And her tail is tucked. GAAAAHHHHH.

I tell you all this because I recently had sinus surgery again. Just some scar revision. 48-hour recovery time, the new doc said. (That was a ginormous lie, by the way). No Saran Wrap packing this time.  No plastic knife splints. Not to be too disgusting — okay. Nevermind. There’s no way to tell that without being too disgusting.

Anyway. I can smell again. And I hadn’t realized that I couldn’t smell before. Sitting next to the dog is nearly impossible now. That breath. Do they eat poo for snacks? (Don’t answer that. I have a baby gate that keeps them out of the litterbox.) And the spaniel.  That sweet, beautiful, stupid spaniel, who likes to dig up mole hills and roll in the tracks. Who likes to catch snakes, shake them till they are dead and broken, and roll on their open wounds.  Who finds bear scat in the yard and — well, you can presume what she does.

She is brown. Brown hides dirt. It does not, however, hide doggy indiscretions. Oooh. That smell.

Dare I Say It?

Posted in Books on September 10, 2012 by susansimsmoody

School is back in session. As many of you know, I have been ultra-crazy-super busy this summer with my children’s 501(c)3 organization, Tri to Change the World. The kids have swum, biked, and run over 300 miles since Memorial Day, which means I have, too. Which also means that I have done diddly squat when it comes to writing.

Last week was the first week of school, and a short week at that. I tackled a mammoth list of to-do’s and feel pretty darn accomplished! My desk is clean. The house is not caving in around me. And while I still have a few odds and ends to finish up — dare I say it? — I might actually be able to buckle down and write some.

Jennifer and her yet-unnamed Wisconsin pal will be thrilled, I think. Davis and Roan are still grumbling about the change in venue for Book 4, which we are tenatively calling *At the Hour of Our Death.* Arcana is off in New Orleans, enjoying the beginning hints of fall in the Crescent City. And me? I’m trying to enjoy the autumn that is in full swing here — trying NOT to be angry that summer is over and the inevitably brutal Wisconsin winter is bearing down on us like a freight train.

Here’s to changes in the seasons, changes in schedules, changes in activities. And here’s to — dare I say it? –1000 words a day.

Much love to all my readers!

Book 4, Chapter ?

Posted in Books on October 10, 2011 by susansimsmoody

As you probably know by now, I cannot figure out how to write a book in order. So, I am not sure what chapter this is in Book 4, but I’m pretty sure it’s an early chapter. I will warn you, if you have not read The Devil Don’t Knock, then this is your spoiler alert!

I hope you enjoy the sneak peek into what’s going on in my brain.

Book 4, Chapter ? – rough draft

Sitting cross-legged in the center of her new office space, Jennifer Martin reveled in the joy of putting the final touches on her open house invitation. It had been six long months and then some more, through the cold and damp of a Bedford winter that she had worked with architects, engineers, and framers; roofers, bricklayers, and electricians. And with her certificate of occupancy finally in her possession, she sat in the middle of an unfurnished home of her dreams, built on the ashes of her parents’ burned home.

Friends and distant relatives wondered about the overreaching emotional impact of staying on the same property where her parents had been murdered. But she had never considered anything else. The fire marshal pronounced nothing but the foundation and chimney worth saving on the classic Tudor home. Jennifer was okay with that. With a bulldozer, an insurance check, and her dogged determination, she drove every subcontractor in the county crazy in order to be finished by Memorial Day weekend. And she’d succeeded, two weeks ahead of time. The schedule called for the furniture to be delivered and set up that afternoon. There was not much left to do except plan the celebration.

She’d lined up the Chris Gales Band out of Memphis to come and play on the back patio. She could imagine the bluesy stylings and electric funk of the guitar riffs she’d heard performed the year prior at Memphis in May echoing off her dad’s catfish pond in the backyard – her backyard. Some Clapton, some Skynard, some Prince. She was ready for some loud and triumphant music to mark the end of the bad memories and the beginning of good ones.

The intermingled scents of new wall-to-wall carpeting and fresh paint were the perfect elixir. Better than the smell of any new car, she took in volumes of air, breathing in the aroma of the new house and exhaling her troubles away. Her laptop nestled in her crisscrossed lap, Jennifer stretched out her arms, lay backward on the pristine white carpet, looked up at the ceiling and smiled. For the first time in a long time, it felt as if things were finally going to be okay.

There is something about summer in the south that lends to a feeling of well-being. Whether it is the sounds of music escaping the rolled-down windows of pickup trucks ambling down the backroads, the vistas of tanned teenagers in bikini tops and cutoff jeans as they make their way to the reservoir, or the smell of freshly tilled red clay being prepared to receive cotton seeds, something about summer gives solace to the battered soul. Maybe it was the activities that were reserved for the long, hot days when there was nothing more to do than kill time, when living forever seemed not out of the question, that made the heart glad and the pulse quicken.

This summer Jennifer’s memories of riding her bike down long and meandering stretches of Manahatchie Highway were palpable. When life was normal and she was younger, she would ride. It was just a three-speed, but it was royal blue with a metallic flake. It was so much better than her bike before that one. It was new – not handed down – and it was hers. She’d ride it to the country store that was back toward town. She’d buy a Dr Pepper and a Pay Day candy bar with the change from her dad’s pants pocket at the end of the workday, and she’d leave the bike on the sidewalk out front and wander down to the creek behind. Routinely barefooted, Jennifer would cool herself in the stream, hopscotching along moss-covered rocks that protruded from the chattering water. When the sunlight began to fade and the lights in the parking lot of the market began to warm and hum, she’d head back to her folks, resigned that another fleeting day of summer had slipped away, but knowing that the next day held more of the same.

Somehow that puerile consciousness had slipped away from her, and Jennifer ached for its return. Sliding her laptop to the floor and shutting the lid, she stood up from her daydreaming and checked the time. Her phone said it was still a half hour before the delivery company had promised her furniture. She wondered if that old bike were still on the property.

Slipping her feet into her bejeweled flip flops that she kept stored at the front door, she headed for her father’s workshop. Once a principal, then retired to work as a shade-tree mechanic, R.B. Martin had a legacy of keeping anything he thought might be of use. No matter that he would never need it. Someone else could possibly use a multitude of cast off clothes, appliances, car parts, boat motors, and furniture that he kept stored in his workshop in the event that he heard of a call for help. Jennifer hoped he’d kept the bike. She corrected her thinking. She knew he’d kept the bike for some time. Whether her father had given to someone else who’d needed it while she was away was the real question needing an answer.

Jennifer wandered through the gardens that were her next item for restoration and found herself where her dad had worked the last few years of his life. She opened the pedestrian door to the two-car detached garage at the back of her property and waited for her eyes to adjust to the light. The shop was piled high with things she couldn’t name or begin to know what they were used for. Woodworking equipment, fly fishing gear, and shelves of different automotive parts were the things she did know. And there was furniture. She recognized that. An end-table from thirty years ago, a lamp that Jennifer wondered had ever been fashionable, and a stack of bins of quilts that her grandmother had made, just in case somebody needed one – all these things had been pushed to the far corner, so that one car might still fit in the two-car bay.

Jennifer’s mother’s deep freezer kicked on and caused Jennifer to jump. She remembered the summer nights when she and her mom and stumbled through the dark to get the produce put up after spending the daylight hours shucking and shelling, washing and blanching and carefully measuring up peas and corn into freezer cartons from Sears. The freezer was empty now. Maybe next summer she would fill it.

And finally, there in the corner, she spotted it: her blue beauty. The handle bars were rusted, and the seat held a heavy coating of dust, but it looked fine otherwise. Jennifer wrestled her way past an old kitchen table and managed to extract the bicycle from its corner, only to discover two flat tires. Her shoulders drooped in resignation. To ride might have been nice today – to kill time as if time were expendable. She looked up when she heard the air brakes of a large delivery truck as it rolled to a stop in her front yard. Her furniture had arrived. Behind that Davis Sanford’s baby blue Nissan truck pulled up. She was glad for the company.

Hello Mother

Posted in Being Old, Kids on September 20, 2011 by susansimsmoody

I wish I could say that I have become my mother.  That would really be a compliment.  But, instead, what I have actually become is a mother. The mother of all mothers–mother defined as an expletive.  Let me explain.

You see, I have kids.  I have one child in particular, who has gotten to the eye-rolling, heavy-sighing, aliens-have-taken-the-brain stage of development where hearing and understanding have become so completely and totally impaired that communication has become impossible.

And these children have bedrooms.  These rooms are unfriendly to visitors, guests, friends, and parents, but somehow perfectly tolerable, despite the mephitis that often escapes when I attempt to gain entry. These rooms have inflicted injury (ever step on an iPod shuffle charger sans shoes?), embarrassment, and more than likely have spread a few communicable diseases.  They are bane to my wolf, the e to my gad, the fu to my bar. As you can tell, on more than one occasion, they have caused me to mar my witness.

Now, some how, some way, my mother figured out how to make me keep my room clean. As I recall, she managed to do this without screaming, harping, crying (that I ever saw),  wheedling, cajoling, begging, bribing, pleading, or whining.  I, on the other hand, have resorted to all these things.

 I have read self-help articles.  I have asked for parenting tips on Facebook.  I’ve cleaned the rooms myself.  I’ve hired a maid.  I’ve walked away, only to come back later, and try (with futility) again to coerce my children into picking up their own toys, clothes, and trash. I’ve even gone so far as to quote scriptures to my offspring (more on that later).

I’ve threatened to take away privileges, and I’ve actually followed up on my threats.  I’ve gone into their rooms with trash bags and hauled away mass quantities of booty to Goodwill.  Nothing seems to work.

Today in the car I said to the kids, “Listen, I don’t want to be a harpy, but…” Apparently they were listening this time, because they wanted to know what a harpy was, and then the conversation got off course. So why is it that they don’t listen to me when I say things like,  “Please do not throw your clean clothes in the floor of your closet”?

A variation of this phrase is, “Is this shirt clean or dirty? How can you tell? I don’t remember seeing you wear it.” Or, “Would you please use the laundry chute? It is three steps from your doorway.” How about the ever-popular, “Please do not put clean clothes down the laundry chute.” Or, “I hung this shirt up 30 minutes ago. Why is it in the floor?” I am a harpy, am I not? I can hear it coming off the page as I type it.  Harpy, harpy, harpy.  Fangs. Wings. Yep.

When the children were small, one of the greatest Bible passages they had to memorize in day school was “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  It is an awesome verse.  It answers the question “why” before they ever get a chance to ask you.

Conversations BEFORE learning this Bible verse —

Me: Put your dirty clothes in the hamper.

Brother: Why?

Me: Because I said so.

Conversations after learning this Bible verse–

Me: The Bible says “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” So, put your dirty clothes in the hamper.

Brother: [silent obedience]

See how much easier that works?

But some how, some way, I fell out of invoking the word of God to get my way around the house.  The other day I decided I might try it again.  Unfortunately, it had been quite a while since I’d used this tactic, and I’d forgotten the book, chapter, and verse.  You have to have those, don’t you?  I knew it was Ephesians.  I was pretty sure it was chapter 6.  I thought it might be verse 9.  Kinda sketchy on that one, though. So I got out my trusty smart phone, pulled up my voice-activated Google app, and spoke the words “Ephesians 6:9” into the phone.

In under three-tenths of a second, Google came back with over a million link suggestions, and the text version of my query highlighted in green at the top of the screen: “East Asian 69.” Uh, no. That’s not it. Delete, delete, delete. Holy Mary, Mother of God.  I just wanted them to clean their rooms. I certainly wasn’t looking for THAT!

And, for what it’s worth, it turns out the passage is Ephesians 6:1.  I think I can remember that going forward.  And prayerfully, it will still work. If not, there’s always one more resource I can use : the phone. 

“Hello, Mother?”

There’s a Mole in My Bucket

Posted in Dogs, Gardening, The Great White North on June 8, 2011 by susansimsmoody

I’ve been gardening lately. I’ve been gardening a great deal, in fact, for myself and for others in the community who need a helping hand.  It’s pretty cool, to dig into the earth, get a little dirt under my nails, and grow something I can eat or gaze upon and reflect on its beauty. 

On this personal journey of gardening in a new area of the country, I have discovered a few things about Wisconsin that I did not know.  I knew from last summer that they grow things bigger up here: squirrels, foxes, deer.  They are extraordinarily huge in comparison to the wildlife down south.  I also noticed last year that the molehills in our backyard were quite mountainous in comparison to the molehills in Mississippi.  Olympic molehills. Vesuvial, even.  But it wasn’t until today that I came face to face with one of our backyard molehill architects.

I was out in the flower bed, happily planting some $1.25 quart containers of creeping phlox.  I love that stuff.  It chokes out weeds like nobody’s business, and it has happy little pink flowers to boot.  Skipper and Mary Ann were out with me, sniffing and poking about, as good dogs will do. 

I had just gotten the first plant happily settled into its double-wide hole when Skipper started barking. So much for the “good dog” illusions that had been running through my head.  She’s a barky dog, there’s no denying.  I kept at my work, though, settling in my happy plant, backfilling the hole and pressing down the black earth.  There was no need for alarm because Skipper barks all the time. Just ask the neighbor, who on our first day in Wisconsin, greeted us by screaming through the woods the joyous welcome of “Shut your dog!”

I reached for the second pot of phlox.  It would look so nice crawling along this rock wall in a few years, I mused.  Then Mary Ann started barking. This development was unusual, as I often think our two dogs, had they been male, might have been named Jay and Silent Bob.  So I stopped gardening, looked over my shoulder, and saw them.  They’d dug up a mole and were taking turns trying to pick it up in their mouths.  

The myriad of emotions, thoughts, and the overdose of angst that coursed through me cannot be justified with mere words. I’m all about the circle of life. Dogs will be dogs. Live and let live. Many clichés come to mind. Unfortunately, the last time I allowed Mary Ann be a dog and live her circular dog life, her circular digestive system backed up a very large and very moist field mouse at the foot of my bed, still highly identifiable as such, as it was swallowed apparently in one gulp. It had taken all my wits and brawn to keep her from reloading said mouse and doing that circle of life thing again. I’m sure she still holds that against me.

“It’s a mole,” I tell myself.  I’m pretty sure I said it out loud.  The dogs look up at me, tongues lolling, eyes bright.  Skipper barks and wags. “Look, Mom!” she seems to be saying, as she mouths the poor, blind creature again. 

I tried to walk away. Really, I did.  But the whole field mouse incident came rushing back to mind.  I whirled on the dogs, and using only my shrill, freaked-out voice and the hand spade I wielded, I managed to keep the dogs off the rodent for, oh, two or three seconds.  They weren’t going to give up.

So, I did what any normal person holding a sharp weapon would do when faced with a mole that has caused me to mar my witness on more than one occasion as I studied his handiwork.  I threw down the shovel and reached, with gloved hand, to pick up the mole to save it from the dogs.  It squeaked; I screamed; the mole fell to the ground. The dogs thought that was pretty cool. I could see them wishing they had thumbs so they could do that, too.

Now that I had realized that touching the critter that was a tad bit bigger than my hand was not going to be an option for me, and as I mentally blocked off time on my calendar to speak with the preacher regarding the emotional scarring this foolish act was surely going to leave, I paced between the dogs and the flower bed, simultaneously shouting, “Leave it alone! Leave it alone!” trying to devise another course of action.  It’s times like these that you wonder if the Google street view cameras are nearby. 

Now, I’d like to circle back to the neighbor.  The shut-your-dog neighbor. You know the one.  The one who, when I called to check on their RSVP to a neighborhood gathering, told me, “I want to thank you and your husband for single-handedly driving the property values down.”  Yeah. That neighbor.  The one who has somehow missed the headline that home prices have plummeted across the nation, and the fact that we capitalized on a fire sale was not actually US PERSONALLY driving property values down.  That neighbor. 

They live across the street, north (and a little to the west), and there is a lovely, pastoral, empty lot next to them, gone all midwestern prairie us. Dandelions abound. Beautiful wild flowers and grasses grow there. I’m sure that doesn’t help the property values, either.

But, back to the mole, and the dogs, and the angst. I’m pacing; they’re barking; it’s squeaking.  Then I spot the answer. The little quart pot that I’d just emptied — it was just about the size of the mole.  I grab it up, dash back to the melee, and with my hand spade and my quart bucket, I scoop up the mole and save it from the dogs.  And I march.

I know you think I’m crazy. But I just can’t bring myself to kill the creature.  It’s hopping and bumping around in the pot. I’m intermittently squealing and speaking to it as if it knows what I’m saying.  And I march, across the street.  Mary Ann stops at the Invisible Fence line. She sits and whines.  Skipper follows me across the street.  She watches, confused and aghast, as I release the vermin to the empty lot next door to our neighbors. I grab Skipper and carry her away, back up the driveway, back to the flower bed.

Two wide lanes of asphalt divide us now, and I do, sincerely hope that the road will be a deterrent for the little critter. I do not wish him harm, but I do not wish him in my yard either.  The neighbors’ yard? Well, that’s another story.

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