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Monday, August 26, 2013

Catch and Release

Wumpus has subscribed to the feline Catch and Release program.  Look, it’s not me;  I don’t mind dead rodents lined up at my door the way EVERY OTHER CAT I EVER HAD has done.  (Not birds, however.  Despite all the bad press, I've never had a cat that caught a bird.  I mean, birds fly and, you may have noticed, cats don't.)  Isn’t that why we domesticated cats in the first place, to keep the vermin down?  But this business of bringing things in and releasing them to run around the house:,that has to stop.

Our first house sitter saw a chipmunk scooting around just inside the sliding glass doors .  He reported to us that he was able to chase it out onto the screened-in porch where he opened the door for it in a gentlemanly fashion, and it exited.

The next chipmunk didn’t fare so well.  I opened the door for Wumpus before I realized he was oh- so- gently carrying a chipmunk in his mouth.  I yelled “no!” thinking he’d back out, but, no, he ran in and dropped it.  It scurried down the hall into the laundry room where I looked for it by moving the dryer in a search and rescue procedure gone awry.  We never even knew I'd run  him over until he started to smell.   (You will find the entire comic-tragic story in the posting of October 15, 2012, "RIP, Little Chippie"). 

Wumpus probably concluded we weren’t fond of chipmunks in the house, and he advanced (or regressed, take your pick) to moles.  Steve and I were on the porch one morning, drinking coffee and reading the paper when Steve jumped.  Oh, yes, there was a furry gray fellow trying to disappear into the corner.  I blocked one direction while Steve swept him out with a broom.  About a month later, he was replaced by another.  (Heck, maybe it was the same mole.  How would I know?)  This one cowered behind the large glass bottle filled with curly willow.  Steve wasn’t there this time, and I tried the broom without luck.  Wumpus, asleep on the coffee table, showed no awareness whatsoever, until I set him down in front of it.  He watched it for a bit.  It scurried out, saw Wumpus and froze.  Wumpus bent down and carefully touched it with his nose.  The mole ran back for cover.  It came out again.  Wum kissed it again.  It dove behind the storage cabinet.  Within ten seconds, the cat wondered outside. 

Really, Wumpus?  REALLY?  I dunno.  Maybe he catches them with the intention of eating them,but  finds he just can’t stand the crunch.  Maybe he’s hoping I’ll let him keep one for a pet.  He’s not sayin’.

We went away again.  I signed onto Facebook, and saw that the house sitter had posted a picture of a dead mouse.  I had hopes that Wumpus was getting the hang of things. 

My hopes were dashed last week.  You see, Wumpus gets us up early in the morning.  One of us shlumps out of bed, dumps down cat food and slides the door open leaving it open while we make coffee, retrieve the paper and bring it to the screened-in porch where we sip and read.  Let's face it, it’s some time before we come to our full senses.  Last week,  Steve was balancing a full cup of coffee out to the porch when the corner of his eye saw the tiny blur.  Yup, there was another mole, already indoors
Or was it?  We knelt on the floor.  We looked under the TV.  We looked under the couch.  We looked under the coffee table.  We didn't see it again although minutes later,  Wum was facing away from his food bowl and towards the refrigerator.  Ye gods, there was no way we were going to retrieve a small Visitor from behind the fridge.  Wumpus was the most intent I’ve ever seen him.  Perhaps he thought he could stare it to death. 

Meanwhile, life doesn’t stop, even for disgusting animals in the kitchen.  We left on our various errands and appointments.  I got home first.  I came in through the garage and saw Mr. Mole carefully sliding down the stairs.  I slipped out of my thronged sandals (they're not the easiest to maneuver in quickly), ran into the storage area and grabbed my the empty shoe box.  I did a quick-footed fandango to avoid minute paws and slapped the box over it.  Trapped! 
Now what?  I didn’t dare let go of the box for fear it could nudge out from under it.  I reached my arm around to the toy shelf and snagged a doll’s china tea set.  That would hold the sucker.

I went upstairs to recover.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to get the mole out from under the box and out the door.  I was afraid that if I tried to slide a piece of cardboard underneath, he’d scurry out.  If he escaped and ran behind the bookcase, it would be discovery by aroma all over again.  In the end I called Animal Control.  It was pretty embarrassing, especially when the extraordinarily nice officer put on a heavy glove, slowly raised the box and lifted the cowering rodent out.  He put it in a little cardboard cage and took it away to release it in the woods down the street.  Catch and release, Wumpus.  The idea is to catch something INSIDE and release it OUTSIDE, not the other way ‘round. 

Meanwhile, we’re trying to remember to close the door.
Wumpus:  he's a lover not an eater

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ivy Grows

I was invited the other evening to attend an Adult High School graduation.  It was the most inspiring thing I’ve done in a very long time, the more so because a former student of mine was a keynote speaker.  I intended to find a seat, find and congratulate my girl (definitely a woman now but always my girl) after the ceremonies and sneak away without disrupting her family and friends.  However, her husband popped up the moment I entered the auditorium and took me to sit with her party.  How sweet was that?!  (Okay, my part in her current success was mostly that 15 years ago I yelled at her a lot for not doing her homework, but still . . . .) 

The music began, and 100-odd adults processed down the aisle, combining Fairfax County’s National External Diploma (life experience can count, much of the studies are completed at home) , General Educational Development (attend classes and pass the GED exam) and Adult High School (pass the FCPS curricula) programs.  The auditorium stood and applauded.  My girl wasn’t marching., though.   Nope, she was already on stage as a keynote speaker. 

The ceremony proceeded with a thoughtful speech by the administrator followed by the three keynote speakers.  The auditorium was far from silent.  Babies were crying, children chatting, and there was lively social interaction from the under-five set.  There were bouquets of balloons bobbing but securely tethered and bouquets of flowers dotting the auditorium.   What there wasn’t was beach balls being tossed about.  There was no out-of-turn whooping it up, no booing, no disruptions of any kind.  No one was obnoxious.  Everyone was proud.  Every speech was listened to with respect, and applauded soundly. 

As each of the graduates was announced, the administrator added the graduate's note of thanks:  to grandparents who’d brought them to this country, to their children for encouragement, to spouses for support, to parents, to teachers, to counselors.  As each graduate crossed the stage to receive a diploma, the audience applauded, from first to last.  My hands were sore by the end, but no one crossed that stag without recognition of hard work, long hours and sacrifices. 

This is what a high school graduation should be:  a happy occasion of celebration and pride.  During so many graduations where I live, the students mock the process.  Their entitlement not only devalues their own accomplishments but often those for whom the process was difficult either scholastically, financially or emotionally.  Not everyone's teen years are their best years.  That’s what made this occasion so impressive.  These people -- mostly young adults, but some not so young -- knew the value of what they achieved.  They had lived without what our society has come to consider the minimum standard.  They had realized that they were held back in their ability to earn a living, in their stature before others, from doing what they wanted in life, held back in their self-worth.  But guess what?  They did it!  They did it, and I felt proud of every one of them.

And for those of you that would still minimize their achievement?  I learned something interesting that night; I learned that 40% of high school graduates can’t pass the GED test.  I suggest you examine your feelings of superiority. 

We have a steep slope running from our front yard to the street.  When we first moved in, it was made up of weeds and erosion.  I planted 12 flats of ivy and two of vinca.  I weeded so much that I dreamed of crab grass.  That ivy is glossy green all year.  Yes, there were setbacks, and sometimes we have a few bare spots,  However, the ivy dug in.  It spread.  It thrived.

Congratulations to you, my girl!  Nothing can stop you.