Our squirrels, ourselves
Or: Life (and death) as we know it
Muenchner Kindl writes: “My wife thinks the fox squirrels who thrive in our back yard in central Texas are destructive thieves and lowly tree rats. It’s true that they’ve on several occasions chewed through the siding of my workshop’s attic to set up a penthouse suite for friends and neighbors. And they often get the lion’s share of sunflower and wild bird seed we set out for our feathered friends. But I can’t shoot them. Not one.
“I am Munich-born and lived there into my early boyhood and the burgeoning of Hitler’s Germany. In 1942, the worst of the Allied bombings began, and two of my younger brothers were buried and suffocated in one of the 71 aerial attacks that ultimately destroyed the city and my birthplace. My mother and I and my remaining siblings were subsequently relocated to a small village northeast of Munich. Freising quickly became my true home.
“I remember my first year of school there and not liking it much. I was what they called a ‘daydreamer.’ Nonetheless, at my mother’s prodding, I shoved off each morning in the typical Bavarian garb: lederhosen with suspenders over a blue-and-white shirt.
“My favorite school days were those when we had outings. On one of our ventures, we hiked to the forest some distance away. I remember walking through its dark cathedral of towering pines. Suddenly I spotted something wriggling beneath needles at the base of a large pine. Upon close inspection, I discovered a baby squirrel! Without hesitation, I dropped my lederhosen, tied the two legs together, put the squirrel inside, slung the ‘bag’ over my shoulder and carried my catch back to school.
“The Catholic Sisters understood my newfound joy and kindly allowed me to keep my pet, provided I took responsibility for its care. They found a little bottle, filled it with milk and showed me how to feed it. I was allowed to keep my squirrel in a small side room, and each day I fed him and cleaned up after him. I gave him the name ‘Hansi,’ and I played with Hansi every day.
“Hansi quickly learned to eat from my hand, climb around my neck and up my shirt sleeve, cuddle me and come to me when I called him. As Hansi grew, he wanted to climb more, and the Sisters helped me to find a tree branch to put in his habitation.
“By late spring, Hansi had grown into adulthood, and one day he found his way outside. Up he climbed, onto a nearby electric pole, and onto an electric wire that ended his life. Hansi had been my first pet, and I took his death very hard.
“That Hansi died so young taught me once again how quickly life can end — a fact that became increasingly clear as World War II progressed.”
See (and/or Hear) world
A close encounter of the natural kind, reported by Scott from Afton: “Here’s an audio from the other night. It’s actually a video, but it was 1 o’clock in the morning and really dark, so you only get a black screen.
“The local coyotes decided to kick it up a little. I’m guessing they were 50 to 75 yards away. I hear this quite often.”
Boy, did they get the wrong email address!
Poet X of PDX: “Deleted this email from Uber just seconds ago: ‘Uber needs drivers like you.’
“The last vehicle I owned was abandoned when I moved from North Dakota, where cars are pretty much essential, to Minneapolis, where I learned the convenience of public transportation.
“Through the ’80s and ’90s, I’d rent a car for vacations from Minneapolis to Chicago and Kansas City, and from Portland to San Francisco.
“The last time I drove a vehicle with any regularity was from 2002 to 2003 (?), when I drove one of my roommate’s three vehicles to and from a job not on the public bus grid.
“In 2008, I drove for the last time — a story I’d rather not relate, but it involved totaling a next-to-new rental vehicle, a mountain road in the middle of the night, and alcohol (despite my having ‘quit’ drinking six years earlier). Suffice it to say that if I were a cat, I likely lost one of my nine lives that night — and am beyond profoundly grateful I did not kill innocent others.
“(Having put it in context of a cat and nine lives, I’m at the one-year anniversary of another of those nine lives nearly lost. It would make an interesting BB discussion, but the memories are usually too painful and personal. At the top of my head, I can think of only these two instances, but I’ve probably nearly lost at least one or two others in the course of my nearly 60 years in this strange, wonderful and harrowing reality. Some memories are best left undisturbed if they stay that way on their own.)
“But back to the topic: It’s comforting to know that Uber needs drivers like me, though I don’t think the passengers will get very far fast.”
14,001 things to gripe about
The Doryman of Prescott, Wis.: “Subject: That’s rant with an r.
“I just heard it on the news. AGAIN! While describing a pricey budget item, the reporter clarified: ‘That’s billion with a b.’ If they think we might confuse it with a lesser amount that has a similar-sounding name, why do we never hear anyone explain ‘That’s million with an m’?
“Thank you, but I know the Pope is Catholic, I know bears that use Charmin defecate in the woods, and I know what letter the word billion starts with.”
Older Than Dirt
And: Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Raindancer of North Oaks: “Subject: You know you’re old when —
“I saw this story, and it stopped me in my tracks because it’s referring to an era — a whole era! — that germinated, flourished, and petered out AFTER I’d had my time at Ski-U-Mah. Is there any kind of trophy awarded to us era-jumpers? A non-participation trophy? ‘Videos’ in my era were simply a happy date at the Varsity Theater to enjoy the latest Hollywood release and a bag of popcorn. Ahh, nostalgia.”
The Permanent Family Record
Or: Things that can be saved, should be saved, shouldn’t be saved
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Lawyergirl mentioned wishing for guidelines about cleaning out other people’s treasures.
“My family emptied out our home place not long ago, and I also downsized, so I have some thoughts on this.
“Big items have to be handled, and lots of things are given away because people currently don’t want them and the market for them has disappeared for the foreseeable future. They must go somewhere, and I prefer that a charity use them rather than a landfill.
“For other things, I saved some based on sentiment. I found a home for Dad’s WWII uniforms at a school he attended because no one had room for them — and the alternative was that they would become costumes. I kept his ratty canvas golf bag because he really loved golf — and I figure the bag ‘has character.’ I had simple frames put on a picture and a plaster tile from Mom’s childhood room, and I hang them on a wall in my apartment. Maybe someone will want them and/or the golf bag someday.”
“When we were emptying out our parents’ house, a sibling took family movies and got some of the oldest ones transferred to DVDs. It ain’t cheap, but now we can watch them.
“I pulled aside old letters, photographs, etc., and sorted them into piles for each sibling or cousin, etc. Christmas cards with only a signature were recycled; cards and letters with news from cousins, etc., went to their families. I threw out most scenic photos because digital cameras do a much better job now. Pictures from unmarried relatives’ trips with friends were mostly trashed because of their poor quality, etc. The number of photos in the world has exploded; I concentrate on the oldest, most important or historic ones.
“I still have a ‘ton’ of my photos, etc., so I bought a scanner that handles 35-mm negatives and slides. As I come across pics I think someone will want, I try to scan and email them. Anything not digitized will probably be thrown out. If I could afford it, I would get the ($800?) one that handles older negatives of various formats. But I contented myself with taking a few important pre-35-mm negatives to a photo equipment store for scanning into digital files I could share.
“Oh, and I keep anything Harry Potter. Because so many ‘kids’ in my family are fans.
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Or: Only a _________ would notice!
Donald: “Subject: All wins, no losses, one error.
“This headline under ’Softball’ on Page 3B of the Sports section in Monday’s Pioneer Press caught my eye: ‘Gophers’ 7-0 start sets school record.’
“‘I thought they’d already won eight in a row,’ I said to myself.
“The first paragraph read: ‘The Gophers softball team defeated North Carolina State 7-1 in Raleigh, N.C., giving No. 13-ranked Minnesota its first 9-0 start in program history.’
“I felt so vindicated.”
Too late curious
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “They don’t make a bit of difference to anybody, but sometimes silly questions pop up and you find yourself wishing you would have asked when you had the chance.
“When my dad was 10 years old, his carpenter Pa had pneumonia and his doctors told him he had to get away from the Iowa blizzards to recuperate. Grandpa’s brothers owned a big lumber mill in Louisiana and invited him to come down there to spend the winter. To my father’s delight, they told Grandpa to bring Little Jake along. My dad was the only boy, with six sisters, three older and three younger, so being away with his beloved Pa was probably the highlight of my dad’s childhood. [Bulletin Board muses: And maybe the breeding ground for his colorful and plentiful cussing?]
“Dad told us a lot about running around with his cousin Sammy, shooting snakes, seeing alligators that looked like big logs and hunting for spent bullets on a visit to the Vicksburg battlefield. He relived that wild and free winter over and over again. We loved hearing about it, but there is one question I never thought to ask my dad: What did Crabby Grandma say when Sweet Grandpa confessed that Little Jake never attended school that entire winter?”
Band Name of the Day: The Ratty Canvas Golf Bags
Website of the Day: Freising