Sunday, July 26, 2015

Call The City

My gardening friend had come over and we were surveying my flowers.  We chatted for awhile at the end of my plot about what was doing well and what wasn't, perennials versus annuals, and what would make good filler for the empty spots.  We were having a typical gardeners conversation when we heard some rustling by the liriope.  We stopped talking, turned in the direction of the sound and the biggest rat I'd ever seen ran out in front of us.  We screamed, we jumped, we peed ourselves a little.

When our hearts stopped thumping out of our chests we wondered how long that thing had been hiding three feet from us, where it came from, and most importantly were there more.

"You need to call the city and tell them you have a rat problem.  They need to know about this," another neighbor said when I told her what happened.  "They'll send somebody out to bait the sewers."

I wasn't sure if one rat was a problem for the city but it was for me and so I called.  The guy who answered the phone at the public works department asked for my address and when I told him he said, "Oh I know exactly where that is.  We made some people clean up their yard of wood and other debris nearby and it probably disturbed some of the rodents.  I don't think you're going to see anything else."

I described how big it was, how it ran right in front of us, how we dang near had a heart attack.  He  assured me that rats aren't really a problem around here.  I wasn't so sure since we live across from a creek but he insisted that this suburbia and rats don't interface.


That was many years ago and this summer after a long, absent spell we've had a squirrel plague.  "They're rats with bushy tails," Mark says as he embarks on a one-man crusade to rid his garden of them.  Every morning he stands at the back door and counts them at our neighbor's feeder.  Then he moves to the front door and counts more in our own yard.  He calls me over to the fence and points out something red high up in a tree.

"Do you see that, Kath?  Do you know what that is?  That's another one of those effing squirrels eating my tomatoes.  I think the son-of-a-bitch has an heirloom."

Since I don't like tomatoes this isn't my fight but every morning I hear the head count and the cussing.

Last weekend Mark decided to buy another trap.  One for the front yard and now one for the back.  We walked up to the hardware store and he came home and set it up with the bait inside.  Before long he had an occupant. 

And where does he take these yard rats after he traps them?  To the park near City Hall.

"The people running this town need to know we have a squirrel infestation," he says as he drops one after another off on their doorstep.

At least he wasn't trapping and drowning them like the old guy down the street did for years.  We always knew when he got another one because he and his wife would walk up to the shopping center after dinner with a plastic bag to toss it into the dumpster. 

No, this wasn't a death panel but a humane relocation program.

I've only half-listened to most of this squirrel problem until the day I came home and saw two half eaten tomatoes in the front yard.  It was like empty Budweiser cans tossed from the car of a bunch of rowdy teenagers on a Friday night and I wasn't having it. 

This war just got personal.

The next morning Mark went off to work.  As he does every morning these days the traps were set and ready.  That afternoon from an upstairs window I saw our cat crouched near the trap.  Ding ding ding!!!  We had a relocation winner!!!!  Then I saw two little girls stop their bikes and walk up to the trap.  I ran down the stairs and onto the porch.

Noting the concerned look on their faces I said, "It's okay you guys.  My husband takes them to the park so they have more room to run around.  You know, that big one by the pool?  Plus it's probably cooler over there for them.  Really, it's fine.  They're fine.  You're fine.  No worries.  Nothing to see here."

"Oh we thought it looked so sad and scared," one of them said.

"Nooooooooo.  Why would it be sad and scared?  It's going to a bigger yard.  It's going to the Mayor's yard!"

"Okay," they both said and hopped on their bikes and rode away.

But it was too late.  While I was running down the stairs they had opened the door and released the squirrel. 

I felt like making another call to the city.  We had some renegade PETA do-gooders trolling the hood and they had no idea what they were unleashing on this neighborhood.  They were freeing the ones who have a lot of problems.  They bring those problems here.  The ones who bring crime.  The ones who bring drugs.  The ones who steal tomatoes.

And some, I suppose, are good squirrels.


I asked the guy who's out there every day securing the vegetable border.  He says every single one of them is a rat.

Ready for transport to their new home

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Mending Season

                                           ~What breaks quickly generally mends slowly~

On the first day of the job I left this spring, I was escorted to the third floor where I would be working by my then supervisor.  Immediately upon arriving on the landing, it was as if every sense in my body was screaming GET OUT. By the time I got to my desk I felt like crying.

It was bizarre and scary and telling, and since I'm not some new-age, hippie chick that dances by the light of the moon every night I shut that business down pronto.

The first month, however, was such a struggle that when friends and family asked, "Don't you just love it?", I would offer a weak smile and say, "I can't say yet.  There's so much to learn and it's really different than anything I've done before."  What was unsaid is that from the beginning it was the most difficult work environment I'd ever been in.  If I were smart I would have turned around that first day and said, "Sorry, HR.  You're not going to believe this but The Universe just sent me quite the warning and I'm going to have to go."

Responsible people, though, don't get a job and then walk out on a feeling.  You stick it out and hope that the karma you're picking up on is dead wrong.

While there was a conflict that tipped the scale for me that week, I really hadn't planned on quitting on the day I gave my notice.  But I walked up to the third floor once again and wondered, "How many more days are you willing to be miserable?"  I clocked in, put my stuff away, got a cup of coffee and went into my new supervisor's office to give my notice.  We both cried because we had a mutual adoration society going and my leaving was going to break that up.

There were many people there that I adored and leaving those friendships was incredibly hard, but I felt that I was spiraling down so fast that it was scaring me.  There were attempts in the following week to talk me out of my decision but it was to no avail.  I did my best not to panic about losing a second paycheck around here but that was on the outside.  The inside was swirling and nauseous and checking multiple job sites over and over waiting to pounce on the right opportunity.

Six weeks later I broke my foot.

I went to two interviews after that wearing an orthopedic boot.  Was that why I didn't get the job? Did they think my broken foot would never mend and they'd be stuck with a hobbling employee that is always late because she has to go to the doctor again?  For the third interview I stuffed my swollen foot into a regular shoe and had my daughter drop me off outside the building so I wouldn't have to limp from a parking garage.  I didn't get that one either.

Three "thanks but no thanks" emails in less than a week could make even the most optimistic job seeker a little shaky in their confidence.  I started out shaky.

When I first quit my job, my neighbor who works for the school district said, "Oh good.  Don't get anything until August so we can hang out this summer."

"August?  Oh no, I'll have something before that," I said.  Or so I thought.

It seems like destiny to me that I broke my foot.  The thought of repairing my damaged emotions after two tough years was not what I was planning to do this summer.  I was looking to dive right back into the work pool but was instead forced to prop my foot up with an ice pack and deal with my feelings.  Some days that felt like being forced to sit in the cafeteria with the popular cheerleader in high school that was dating the boy who dumped me.

When another neighbor who is a nurse asked me how my foot was doing I told her that it hurt most of the time, that I couldn't seem to get anything done and that at some point during the day I would usually fall asleep. "Well, that's because you're in pain," she said, "and pain is exhausting."

It was as if my world cracked open and it was finally okay for me to take the time to take care of me.

Last week I saw my hairstylist and told her my summer saga of a broken bone, torn ligaments and dwindling job opportunities.  Then I showed her the picture my niece drew of the main character for the children's book we've been conspiring to do together for more than a year.

She stared at the drawing and said, "Oh, she's adorable.  Her hair!  I think I might already love her."  Then she looked at me and said, "You know that you're not getting the jobs because that isn't what you're supposed to be doing now?  That writing her story is the job you're supposed to have?"

I do know that. 

In my still, quiet summer I have discovered that landing the next job was never part of the plan.  It was learning how to listen.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Matchmakers

Over the the past few years Maggie and I have taken it upon ourselves to look for suitable candidates to date our Will.  He never asked us to do this (and would roll his eyes when we brought it up) but we decided that since we've both had success in the Cute Husband Department we were the perfect choice to help him out.

Both of us narrowed in our man.

Last year when I was going to the dentist weekly for a rogue tooth, I got to know the dental assistant. Besides being good at his job he was very cute and very funny.  He could talk about anything, but what sealed the deal for me was his advice on hair products to control frizz during the humid summer months.  I had met a soul mate.

Besides that, he wore a scarf fashionably tied around his neck with his blue scrubs.  I'm going to repeat that.  He wore a scarf tied fashionably around his neck with his blue scrubs.

After Maggie started going to the same dentist, our conversations always turned to Dan.  How fun he was, how much we liked him, how perfect he would be for Will.

"We need to work on this," I said to Maggie, "and since I'm the one that's there all the time it's up to me.  I'll get the scoop on him, figure out how he and Will can meet and then let love do its magic." We discussed our strategy and how we could find out if he was attached.  "There's no way around it," I said.  "I'll just have to come out and ask."

So on one of my weekly visits I said to the dentist, "I need to talk to you about something.  Is Dan dating anyone because Maggie and I were talking and..........."

The dentist's face fell as she put her hand on my arm and whispered, "I'm so, so sorry. That's not going to work.  Dan is gay."

I burst out laughing.  "Oh geez, I knew that with the scarf and all but I didn't mean for Maggie. I meant for my son."

"DANNNNNNN!!!" She yelled.  "Get in here.  We've got an opportunity for you."

Dan came running in.  The other dental assistant came in.  The hygienist peeked around the corner. "Do your thing," the dentist said to me as the crowd gathered around my recliner.  I presented my case my son and frantically tried to pull up a picture on Facebook.  They all leaned in to get a good look.

"We don't always get good reception in here," the dentist said and disappoint hung as lifeless in the air as a shot of Novocain.

"I'll friend him," Dan said.  "Tell him who I am so he knows and then we'll see.  I can't believe I don't know him already.  I think I've dated every gay guy in Kansas City."

The fact that he got around a lot was a little concerning but I ignored that and called Maggie with the deets.  "It's in the works and before you know it Dan will be eating Sunday dinner with us. Maybe he can show us how he ties his scarf in that cool knot?!"

"I know, Mom.  Will's going to thank us for this one," Maggie said.

Before long they did end up meeting through a mutual friend.  In fact, Will met a bunch of new people all of a sudden but, alas, there was not even the slightest spark of a love connection.  "He's not my type," was all he said.

"Not your type?!!"  What do you mean?  He's cute, he's funny, he's fashionable," Maggie and I yelled. Will wouldn't budge.  He moved on rather quickly from this plan of ours but we were having trouble doing the same.

I hadn't seen Dan in over a year until I went in for a cleaning last month.  He poked his head in the room and said.  "Hey Kathleen, how's it going?  Haven't seen you in awhile.  Is Will doing okay?"

We got caught up on everything and I was a little sad it didn't work out with Will.  He would have been a fine addition to the family roster.

The original cute son-in-law started going to the same dentist recently.  "Did you meet Dan?  Isn't he so good-looking and fun?" Maggie asked.

"I can't believe you and your mom ever thought he was a good match for Will.  Two minutes in and I knew he wasn't the kind of guy Will would go for.  That was a bad idea you two had from the start."

"What???  Of course it could have worked."

"Nope.  Not Will's type.  You guys don't know what you're doing."

Will did meet someone recently, and what may be the biggest shock of all, Maggie and I had nothing to do with it. We don't know how he did it without our guidance but he did, and we all like this cute, nice guy who makes Will so happy.

But what are we to do with our time now that our matchmaking skills are not needed?

I'm so glad I asked.

We think it's time to teach the straight men around here how to accessorize.