Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

Arachnifun…when you’re photobombed by a spider

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

By Tiber

My sister, Iris Nell, is upset again today. And, this time, I guess it’s partly my fault.

I’ve been helping her out in our new vegetable garden, mainly because I’m just grateful that Dad has abandoned his other money-making scheme which was having me make goat cheese. Duncan’s still pushing for Dad’s backup idea for me, which is giving children rides in little carts pulled by the goats because Duncan is determined to see me in a little Alpine outfit, complete with a flowered hat.

He told Dad he’d even found a man who could teach me yodeling. Thank God the guy charged for it because Dad was actually considering it.

So you can see how working in the new vegetable garden is a big step up.

Iris Nell is very proud of what we’re growing and she asked me to take a picture of the two of us out there. I set the timer and hurried over.

And we both posed.

And we both smiled.

And we both got photobombed by a spider.

I felt you couldn’t help but like him. He actually had a sort of party-guy look on his face. Plus, he was so close to the camera, all three of us appeared to be about the same size.  And with one of the spider’s many legs crooked up, it really seemed as if he was about to wrap it – in a companionable way – around Iris Nell’s shoulder.

I thought we looked sort of like three old friends at a high school reunion, where you had to admit, maybe one of us hadn’t ended up being quite as attractive as the other two but, hey, with his personality, you were still BFFs anyway.

Iris Nell felt otherwise.

And, yes, Iris Nell, the self-professed great lover of all the world’s creatures, saw this picture and went spinning off into barking mad, freaking-loonbat meltdown mode.

And all over a tiny and I think very pleasant-seeming arachnid who, granted, for that one moment, looked big enough to devour her skull.

Picky. Picky.

Our great-grandshark, on our father’s side

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

By Tiber 

My nephew, Bo, lost a tooth. Here‘s the unsettling part.  It looks just like a shark tooth. He couldn’t have switched it because his mother was right there looking in his mouth when it came out.

This brings up all kinds of disturbing family thoughts, though why I’m still surprised by disturbing family thoughts, I don’t know. Duncan used to torment me with the idea that because our ancestors had made the family fortune in whalebone corsets, that, one day, whales were going to come and get me. Instead, it looks as if a shark may have really gotten, say, a great-grandmother.

Bo’s been to the dentist. How could Dr. Freeman not have noticed a shark tooth? Or did he see it and just decide to “back away slowly?” When we were kids, that literally used to happen to us all the time. Mom would say it was because we all looked like kings and queens and it was traditional to back away from a royal presence.

Once we got to know each other, of course, we realized that other people “backing away slowly” from us had much less to do with deference and a whole lot more to do with protecting their sanity or even their private parts.

In any event, nobody wanted to frighten Bo, (evidently some people still think this is possible) so his parents just carried on as if losing what looked like a great white’s chomper was normal.

They said he should go on to bed because they were sure he’d be getting some tooth fairy money in the morning.

Bo headed off and my sister, Vanessa, took one more look at that distinctive long, pointy tooth and said,

“You’re gonna need a bigger dollar.”

Stop or I’ll shoe!

Monday, July 19th, 2010

By Tiber

As he’s doing with everybody on the payroll here, Dad put his newly money-conscious eye on the cost of his live-in security team. He’d been talked into hiring three men so they could work in shifts. I always felt they just wanted a better poker game.

In any event, Dad decided that, really, with so many family members living here, maybe we could just protect the estate ourselves. He really likes the security guys, though, and it was with real regret that he finally let them go.

And of course, that very night, we were attacked. Well, by “attacked,” I mean there was the sound of an invasion. Sort of.

It later turned out to be just a raccoon making this high-pitched squealing. About a third of the household thought Duncan’s daughters were being attacked which was horrific. A third thought gentle Iris Nell was being attacked which was terrifying. And a third thought I was being attacked which was just plain rude.

You may remember, when the security guys accidentally came after me a few months ago, thinking I was an intruder, I defended myself with jelly beans. (Which I still maintain was the best thing I had available!)

This time, at the onset of this true attack, and with no security people to handle it, the entire household sprang into action and raced outside with a highly effective cache of defensive weapons consisting of a green flip-flop, a tea cup, a ruler, a beach ball, a knitting needle, a Slinky, a stapler, a nose trimmer, a bottle of black nail polish, a Harry Potter wand, one chop stick, a headless Beanie Baby, and a Prada handbag.

Even Cook, the one person who could have immediately grabbed a clutch of knives panicked and ran out brandishing only a melonballer.

Dad realized right then he was going to have to hire the security guys back. Next time, it might be a slightly bigger animal on the property. The security guys responded to Dad’s call so quickly, frankly, I think they were waiting right outside the front gate.

Not only that, now that I think about it, my guess is, they were the ones also tickling that raccoon.

Awesome Opossum

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

By Tiber 

Tonight I found my sister, Iris Nell, crying – not an unusual state for the most sensitive girl on the planet.

She’d heard that late last night, Ben, one of the security guys, had seen a strange shape on the ground. It turned out to be a very old and gray opossum who had died. Nothing had injured him. It really did just look as if he’d died of old age. So Ben put his gloves on, put the old opossum in a sack and took him off to the shed for disposal tomorrow.

And that’s when he heard the funny “rooting around” noises back over in the area where he had found the body. He went to check it out and there, in the moonlight, he saw a small pack of younger opossums searching all over where the older opossum had died. The older animal must have sent out some kind of signal of his distress and demise and the others in some weird way had picked up on it and come to see if they could help. Ben said he’d never seen anything like it. And it was pretty sweet.

Dad saw Iris Nell crying and this upsets him. So when she repeated the story to him, he finally got her to laugh a little again by saying,

“You know, I expect all of you kids to do the same thing if you even suspect that I’m in trouble. Every one of you better come sniffing after me, even if I’m in a neighbor’s yard and it’s midnight, in winter, with a curfew on and a hail storm blasting.”

Iris Nell thanked Dad for being silly and making her smile again.

Dad waited until she had gone and then he grabbed my arm.

“You do know I actually meant that, right?”

“Yeah, Dad. I got it.”

Squirrel World

Monday, November 16th, 2009

By Tiber

I was watching squirrels yesterday.
Can you tell who has no relationship and no job?
Oh, shut up. You’re probably the kind of person who mocks a sophisticated appreciation for the intricacies of nature as expressed by our tree-dwelling- oh, dear God, I have no relationship and no job.
So, yes, I was watching squirrels and one of them caught my eye. He seems healthy. His weight is good. He darts around, has a lot of energy. But he has no bushy tail.
He has a tail. It’s just not bushy like the other squirrels. His looks more like a piece of string.
So how did it get this way?
Did he get it stuck somewhere and then shear it off? Is he an over-groomer? Did his mother have that one date with a rat that she’d really prefer not to discuss? 
Maybe this squirrel is just naturally different. Maybe he was born that way.  Then what if the other squirrels are just pretending to be eating nuts, when, in reality, they’re laughing at him behind their paws?
…Did I mention that I have no relationship and no job?
Once, my sister, Iris Nell, became hysterical because she saw a squirrel spread-eagled over an electrical box, its little paws dangling limply over the sides. My mother called to get someone to remove the little guy’s body so it wouldn’t upset any more children but when she asked for the “Rodent Patrol,” they hung up on her.
Fortunately, the squirrel suddenly jumped up on his own and scurried off. Turns out, they sometimes lie like that just to cool off.
It was a good thing that I knew this because today, I caught the rat-tailed squirrel in that same position on a tree branch, his paws hanging motionlessly over the sides.
In my morose condition, I would have worried that he’d fallen into his own depression over the other squirrels mocking his tail and then I would have felt obligated to go out and buy him a pecan pie.